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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Excerpts from Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton, 72

The unpopular parts of Christianity turn out when examined to be the very props of the people. The outer ring of Christianity is a rigid guard of ethical abnegations and professional priests; but inside that inhuman guard you will find the old human life dancing like children, and drinking wine like men; for Christianity is the only frame for pagan freedom. But in the modern philosophy the case is opposite; it is its outer ring that is obviously artistic and emancipated; its despair is within. And its despair is this, that it does not really believe that there is any meaning in the universe; therefore it cannot hope to find any romance; its romances will have no plots. A man cannot expect any adventures in the land of anarchy. But a man can expect any number of adventures if he goes traveling in the land of authority. One can find no meanings in a jungle of skepticism; but the man will find more and more meanings who walks through a forest of doctrine and design. Here everything has a story tied to its tail, like the tools or pictures in my father’s house; for it is my father’s house. I end where I began—at the right end. I have entered at least the gate of all good philosophy. I have come into my second childhood.

Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton, is in the public domain, and available from Project Gutenberg. The previous post in this series is here. Thanks for reading! Read Chesterton.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sunspots 575

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Christianity: Bible scholar Ken Schenck on what the Bible says about wealth.

E. Stephen Burnett has written two "duh!" posts, about truths Christians need to be reminded of: our non-Christian neighbors don't get God's law, and they don't even understand God's grace in a rudimentary way.

Christianity Today on Pascal's wager. (The wager was about whether it makes sense to be a Christian believer, even if, say, Christian teaching about heaven is false.)

Computing: Gizmo's Freeware points to a site that will tell you how hard it would be to crack a password.

The Environment: (or something) Listverse discusses the 10 loneliest things in the world.

Food: Listverse reports on 10 strange soda (aka soft drink) flavors.

Health: National Public Radio reports on whether or not women need to have menstrual periods.

Politics: (and health)  National Public Radio reports that a ten billion dollar program which was supposed to speed up getting treatment visits for veterans has actually made things worse. Oh, dear.

Science: Wired on why insect stings really hurt.

Listverse reports on 10 bizarre-sounding proposals by scientists, most of which were suggested as ways to alleviate Global Climate Change.

NPR reports on research designed to find out why we gossip.

Sports: FiveThirtyEight reports that women get concussions from participating in sports at higher rates than men do.

Image source (public domain)  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Excerpts from Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton, 71

All other philosophies say the things that plainly seem to be true; only this philosophy has again and again said the thing that does not seem to be true, but is true. Alone of all creeds it is convincing where it is not attractive; . . . Theosophists for instance will preach an obviously attractive idea like reincarnation; but if we wait for its logical results, they are spiritual superciliousness and the cruelty of caste. For if a man is a beggar by his own pre-natal sins, people will tend to despise the beggar. But Christianity preaches an obviously unattractive idea, such as original sin; but when we wait for its results, they are pathos and brotherhood, and a thunder of laughter and pity; for only with original sin we can at once pity the beggar and distrust the king. . . . Orthodoxy makes us jump by the sudden brink of hell; it is only afterwards that we realize that jumping was an athletic exercise highly beneficial to our health.

Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton, is in the public domain, and available from Project Gutenberg. The previous post in this series is here. Thanks for reading! Read Chesterton.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sunspots 574

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

The Arts: Listverse reports on 10 amazing objects made from ice -- some small, some quite large.

Christianity: Philosopher Alvin Plantinga on why science does not rule out miracles.

Sojourners reports that Southern Baptists, Jews, Sikhs, and Hari Krishna worshipers have come out against a zoning ruling that a mosque couldn't be built.

Computing: Gizmo's Freeware points to a free web-based video studio.

Wired says that ransomware -- making a computer or network unusable, then demanding money to reverse this -- is becoming the most common type of Internet attack. The article discusses ways to avoid this.

Politics: Some reactions from important Christians to Mr. Trump: Sojourners reports on a "called to resist bigotry" statement, signed by sixty important religious leaders. The report includes a long excerpt from an article by Russell Moore, an important official of the Southern Baptist Convention, who signed the statement. Here's the Moore article.

Science: Listverse tells us about 10 organisms (not all are animals!) that may be as or more intelligent than we are.

Sports: Congratulations to Tim Duncan. His team, the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association, did not win the championship this year. (They have in the past.) But Duncan has won more games with the same team than any player in the history of the NBA.

Image source (public domain)  

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Excerpts from Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton, 70

Now, when society is in a rather futile fuss about the subjection of women, will no one say how much every man owes to the tyranny and privilege of women, to the fact that they alone rule education until education becomes futile: for a boy is only sent to be taught at school when it is too late to teach him anything. The real thing has been done already, and thank God it is nearly always done by women. Every man is womanized, merely by being born. They talk of the masculine woman; but every man is a feminised man.

For I remember with certainty this fixed psychological fact; that the very time when I was most under a woman’s authority, I was most full of flame and adventure. Exactly because when my mother said that ants bit they did bite, and because snow did come in winter (as she said); therefore the whole world was to me a fairyland of wonderful fulfillments, and it was like living in some Hebraic age, when prophecy after prophecy came true. I went out as a child into the garden, and it was a terrible place to me, precisely because I had a clue to it: if I had held no clue it would not have been terrible, but tame. A mere unmeaning wilderness is not even impressive. But the garden of childhood was fascinating, exactly because everything had a fixed meaning which could be found out in its turn.

Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton, is in the public domain, and available from Project Gutenberg. The previous post in this series is here. Thanks for reading! Read Chesterton.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sunspots 573

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Christianity: A resource on the history of the Biblical canon.

Wired on how to make passwords more secure.

Health: Wired reports on the dangers of driving over the speed limit, or of setting the speed limit higher.
Politics: National Public Radio has a commentary on how the news media failed to cover Donald Trump properly.

FiveThirtyEight weighs in on how and why Trump won the Republican nomination.

FiveThirtyEight also reports that Trump supporters have higher incomes than the public at large, which is contrary to what has often been said, or implied.

Science: Listverse reports on animals that decorate themselves, or their surroundings.

Listverse also reports on 10 small isolated villages where health conditions rare elsewhere are common.

Wired reports that the simple little hydra may be potentially immortal, and explains why.
Image source (public domain)  

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Excerpts from Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton, 69

Note: This post doesn't have anything to do with Mother's Day, at least not on purpose. Sorry.

If a shade arose from the under world, and stared at Piccadilly, that shade would not quite understand the idea of an ordinary closed carriage. He would suppose that the coachman on the box was a triumphant conqueror, dragging behind him a kicking and imprisoned captive. So, if we see spiritual facts for the first time, we may mistake who is uppermost.

I have now said enough to show (to any one to whom such an explanation is essential) that I have in the ordinary arena of apologetics, a ground of belief. In pure records of experiment (if these be taken democratically without contempt or favour) there is evidence first, that miracles happen, and second that the nobler miracles belong to our tradition. But I will not pretend that this curt discussion is my real reason for accepting Christianity instead of taking the moral good of Christianity as I should take it out of Confucianism. I have another far more solid and central ground for submitting to it as a faith, instead of merely picking up hints from it as a scheme. And that is this: that the Christian Church in its practical relation to my soul is a living teacher, not a dead one. It not only certainly taught me yesterday, but will almost certainly teach me tomorrow. Once I saw suddenly the meaning of the shape of the mitre. One fine morning I saw why windows were pointed; some fine morning I may see why priests were shaven. Plato has told you a truth; but Plato is dead. Shakespeare has startled you with an image; but Shakespeare will not startle you with any more. But imagine what it would be to live with such men still living, to know that Plato might break out with an original lecture tomorrow, or that at any moment Shakespeare might shatter everything with a single song. The man who lives in contact with what he believes to be a living Church is a man always expecting to meet Plato and Shakespeare tomorrow at breakfast. He is always expecting to see some truth that he has never seen before. There is one only other parallel to this position; and that is the parallel of the life in which we all began. When your father told you, walking about the garden, that bees stung or that roses smelt sweet, you did not talk of taking the best of out of his philosophy. When the bees stung you, you did not call it an entertaining coincidence. When the rose smelt sweet you did not say “My father is a rude, barbaric symbol, enshrining (perhaps unconsciously) the deep delicate truths that flowers smell.” No: you believed your father, because you had found him to be a living fountain of facts, a thing that really knew more than you; a thing that would tell you truth tomorrow, as well as today.

Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton, is in the public domain, and available from Project Gutenberg. The previous post in this series is here. Thanks for reading! Read Chesterton.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Why the Bible is God's word.

The Bible is God’s word

Why do I say that? Here are some reasons:

The Bible is accurate. No one has ever shown that a location, an event, or a person mentioned in the Bible, that God intended to be taken as factual, is portrayed falsely. People have tried to disprove its accuracy, but have failed.

The Bible includes predictions that came true, about the coming of Christ, and his death, and other events. If these had been faked (written after the facts) they would almost certainly have been clearer.

The Bible doesn’t gloss over some stuff that we might not like, or that don’t seem appropriate (Like Judges 11, or parts of Psalm 35 or 54).

The Bible speaks to different cultures. Parts of the Old Testament spoke to people living about 3,000 years ago. The New Testament speaks to people living nearly 2,000 years after it was written.

People have had their lives transformed through reading the Bible. The Gideons tell us stories of that every time they come to our church. I knew a man who became a believer through reading a Gideon Bible. He recently passed away, after having been a good pastor for many years.

The Bible can stir emotions. Reading about Christ’s suffering, or the majesty of God’s creation, or the unnamed heroes of faith in the last part of Hebrews 11, brings about feelings in me. Other passages speak to other people.

The Bible points out man’s biggest problem, sin. (See the story of the Fall, Cain and Abel, and much more.) The Bible also points out the solution: Romans 3:23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; 24 being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God sent to be an atoning sacrifice, [text note – or propitiation] through faith in his blood ...

The Bible presents a sensible worldview: There’s a supernatural beginning to the universe, humanity messing up our world, the futility of trying to pay the penalty of sin by human action, successful payment of the price of sin by an unimaginable sacrifice, a valid promise of purpose and joy in life, accompanied by God the Holy Spirit, and a to-be-filled promise of eternal life to come.

The Bible gives us two great commandments, a sturdy foundation for any ethical or legal system.

All this is evidence that the Bible is supernatural – God’s word. To further emphasize that, the Bible depends on itself. Heres the result of a search for the phrase “it is written” in the Bible. It occurs 80 times.

For related reading, from an articulate Bible scholar, see this article.
For my own thoughts on the claim that the King James Bible is the only valid translation, see here.
For my thoughts on whether it is possible to just read the Bible, without interpreting it, see here.
In the paragraph about predictions, I indicated that at least some prophecy was not very clear -- it was difficult or impossible to know what was meant, until after the event prophesied. See here for biblical examples.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Sunspots 572

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Christianity Today reports that only about one-third of Protestant pastors in the US believe in a literal rapture before a literal tribulation.

Cal Thomas, conservative, Christian, and syndicated columnist, on why Christians should not depend on politics to fix our problems.

Computing: Gizmo's Freeware reports, briefly, on a free substitute for Office.

The Environment: From Wired: “Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants.” But, in a special case, widening highways seems to have helped traffic flow.

Food: Relevant reports that someone has invented a pizza box made out of pizza.

Health: National Public Radio and other sources report that you can get the same surgery for considerably different prices in different places in the US.

History: A viking longship, powered by sail and oars, has set sail from Norway to North America, according to the History Blog.

An airconditioning system has been found in a tower in Kuwait, dating to about the 7th century, according to the History Blog.

Listverse discusses 10 cases where Muslims, Jews, and Christians protected each other.

Listverse describes 10 bizarre insect predators. The post includes videos of some of these creatures.

Image source (public domain)

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Equipment and character for following Christ

Our Tools and Power - we have been given enough equipment to follow Christ
Ephesians 1:19b the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to that working of the strength of his might 20a which he worked in Christ, when he raised him from the dead

Luke 12:11a “… don’t be anxious how or what you will answer, or what you will say; 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that same hour what you must say.”

Colossians 1:9 For this cause, we also, since the day we heard this, don’t cease praying and making requests for you, that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 that you may walk worthily of the Lord, to please him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God,

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23a gentleness, and self-control. (These fruits are tools for following Christ -- see below.)

1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, employ it in serving one another, as good managers of the grace of God in its various forms. 11b … that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having the utility belt of truth buckled around your waist, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having fitted your feet with the preparation of the Good News of peace, 16 above all, taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

Our Character: When I ask, “Tell me the first word that comes to your mind when I say Christian,” not one time has someone suggested the word love. – Philip Yancey, Vanishing Grace: What Ever Happened to the Good News?
But: 1 John 4:8 He who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, for God is love.

Thanks for reading. Be equipped!

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Excerpts from Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton, 68

The sceptic always takes one of the two positions; either an ordinary man need not be believed, or an extraordinary event must not be believed. For I hope we may dismiss the argument against wonders attempted in the mere recapitulation of frauds, of swindling mediums or trick miracles. That is not an argument at all, good or bad. A false ghost disproves the reality of ghosts exactly as much as a forged banknote disproves the existence of the Bank of England—if anything, it proves its existence.

Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton, is in the public domain, and available from Project Gutenberg. The previous post in this series is here. Thanks for reading! Read Chesterton.