Monday, March 31, 2014

Stay Away From "Faith Films" !!!

I still remember the first time a movie was shown for free at my church, and I went. It was called "Facing the Giants," and I was surprised to see a movie actually present people choosing to believe in the Gospel. I didn't have as strong of a theological grasp way back in (2004?5?) as I do now, but it was definitely the only movie I'd ever seen that approached faith from a Christian perspective, and for that matter featured it as a portion of the plot for the movie. It being shown in the church led me to think that it was not widely viewed, an independent production that didn't have a wide impact. That was a very wrong impression, but it took me many years before I modified my perception of that film.

Another film shown at my church was "The Passion of the Christ." While it was understandable from a position of being acquainted with the Gospel narrative, I later came to realize that there's no theology in it. It simply shows Jesus dying--and suffering. Lots and lots of physical suffering, which wasn't even the real sacrifice according to the Bible: how He really suffered was in the separation He experienced from the Father--that point, "when every sin on Him was laid," and the infinite God experiencing a temporally finite separation within Himself became the substitution for finite men to evade an temporally infinite separation from God, by trading places. This fails to be a true Gospel movie as a result. Sure, it can be called a "Faith" movie, since it is inspired by stories from the source of the Christian faith--the Bible. But it doesn't include the content of that faith--the Gospel of Jesus Christ--and therefore is no more than a detached biopic.

I later encountered an expose' of sorts by Tim Challies (found here) that reveals all the subtle ways in which scenes from that movie were directly inspired by Catholic mysticism, which even superseded the Biblical narrative at certain points. Red flag.
"Gibson drew heavily from Sister Anne Emmerich’s devotional book entitled The Dolorous Passion of Christ. Emmerich is known as being a Mystic, Stigmatist, Visionary, and Prophet."
Well, this suddenly doesn't seem too positive any more. At least the movie 'harmlessly' merely portrays the events (well, if you ignore the added scenes from Emmerich) and doesn't blatantly come out and say "serve Satan" or something. But it opened the door for movies which disregard the Biblical narrative in favor of human ideas to proliferate.
As my wife left the theatre last night she heard a member of a Protestant church say “I didn’t remember the part in the Bible where Mary wipes up Jesus’ blood. That was so beautiful.”

But why didn't Bible-inspired (Bible-based would be giving them too much credit) movies come rushing out into theaters then? What took them until 2014 to finally get there?

I read a blog by a woman, Elizabeth Prata, who has a very keen eye on 'creeping heresy,' as I'll simply call it--the encroachment of nonChristian and even antiChristian elements in culture on the Church sphere. In a recent post where she warns against several upcoming "Faith films," she makes this comment:
The year 2014 has been dubbed "The Year of the Christian Movie." Ten years ago Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ" was released and it became a blockbuster by any standard but especially for a Christian movie. Then...nothing. Crickets. No mainstream Hollywood movies with a Christian theme have been released. Until now.
She isn't totally wrong. Hollywood has been very hesitant to pour much money into "Faith films," but that doesn't mean they've been doing nothing for ten years. I recently came across the March 31 edition of TIME magazine (online link here: it's temporarily unavailable in full because it's the current issue). In it, there is an article that focuses on a key player whom I wouldn't be surprised if Elizabeth chooses to keep tabs on from this point forward, Jonathan Bock. He's presented in the article as Hollywood's go-to guy for reaching out to 'religious' moviegoers and basically test-running and marketing movies to 'the faithful,' which Hollywood has long considered a desirable, but inscrutable, source of potential income.

The TIME article states, to my memory (since the paper copy is not with me and I don't have a subscription) that Bock worked on Passion and served as an advisor on The Bible Miniseries which was released last year. [If any of my information is wrong, I'll correct it, but it may be later in the month since I don't have frequent internet access]. What's also interesting is that Rick Warren was in some way a sponsor, producer, consultant or recipient of profit from Passion and The Bible, a bit of information which serves to imply that the 'powers' behind the recent release of Son of God have been working together since Passion to determine their next steps. We're now seeing whatever plans they may have concocted being unfolded and put on display.

Impassioned Prayers

This begins as a repost of the "7 Deadly Sins" beginning quotation, and proceeds as a reflection. This was a Journal entry I wrote last year sometime, reflecting on and outlining the entire process of an evening's prayer. Not quite an imprecatory prayer, but a prayer of pleading for God to deal with evil men justly. (An imprecatory prayer would be "they are SO wicked that you need to destroy them!", whereas in the text, you'll see that I ask God to either save them or destroy them, but to protect innocents from them).
16 These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood,18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil,19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.
It’s interesting to note that Jesus affirmed that not all sins are equal.

                He told Pilate, “he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” So there is the testimony, “from the horse’s mouth,” that says plainly that not all sins are equal. All sins are sin. And if you consider that because God is infinitely holy and just, then all sins are infinitely offensive to Him. But there are degrees of infinity. Consider the mathematical truth that one times infinity and 3 times infinity are both still infinity. This explains how come God can hate all sin and how the punishment for every sin, no matter how small or how frequent or how numerous, is always going to be an eternity in hell, for him who rejects Christ’s substitutionary atonement. This all being said, then, there are some sins that God appears to – in human terms, from our human perspective – hate more than others. What is the point of listing these seven sins as being ones that He hates if He hates all sins equally. He would either have to list all other sins or list none of them. So there does appear to be something “special” about certain sins that God targets as being abominations. I don’t have the energy to look it up, now, but I’d be interested in seeing whether the word translated “abomination” in this passage is the same as the word used to describe homosexuality. Because as you’ve probably noticed, homosexuality is not included in this list. I think it’s an especially perverse sin that shows the depths of human depravity in a unique way, but it’s not the most offensive or most evil of all the sins. I think murder and lies are ultimately the worst. And so hence my interest in investigating what God thinks are the ‘worst sins,’ to see what I can learn from it.

                Let’s try to identify the 7 sins in one-word definitions: Pride. Lying. Murder. Planning to do evil. Desiring to do evil. Lying. Sidetracking virtue and the virtuous.  I’ll openly admit, here, that while I have no doubt about my understanding of the first three and the sixth, my interpretation of the other three could be mistaken, and the meaning of them depends on whether or not the assumptions I made in this case were accurate. For example, I took “brethren” to mean believers, rather than biological or national family, in this case. It could equally well apply to the latter two. I just don’t know for sure without checking Strong’s Concordance. The feet that are swift to run to evil—I put the emphasis on the running to evil over the swiftness, seeing it as the attempt to do evil, rather than the conclusion of the act, but this could also be mistaken. It could be the latter or both. Also the heart that devises wicked plans could be emphasizing the ‘heart’ rather than the ‘devising.’ So there are  a number of valid ways to interpret this. But I think I see two or three categories of multiples, and pride in a category by itself. See if you agree with my evaluation:

Being an enemy of good – “inventing new ways of doing evil” (Romans 1) and attempting to sabotage God’s plan by promoting evil and by attempting to cause strife among those who are seeking to be on God’s side.

I’m really struggling to come up with a short description of that last one that will encompass the meaning I’m getting out of it. Maybe it’s clear to you; if not, I apologize.  But I find this fascinating. That is, that the things which God states that He HATES include one of the things that I have come to hate with a burning passion: lies. I absolutely despise misinformation and any case of falsehoods being propagated as truth. That’s bad. But let’s take it up a level. Suppose that someone is doing this knowingly and not by accident—then they are not just perpetuating falsehood, they are lying. Let’s say that a person who tells untruth is confronted, and they disregard it and persist in telling lies – then it is pervasive. Worse is if they not only have been told the truth but actually understand it, and yet persist—then it is malicious, because they do what they not only have been told is wrong but what they themselves believe is wrong. And if we go up one more level, and suppose that they are intentionally speaking lies in order to mislead others, and/or to cause harm, then they are deceitful. This is the worst kind. When you take this and have a person who is intentionally lying, saying what they know is false, in order to deceive others—for the purpose of undermining the efforts of believers and/or God Himself (here’s the fourth category I perceived above), then you have someone whose soul is rotten and foul and so blasphemously evil that I admit, as I am writing about this, my heart rate has increased and I have actually felt a strong emotion of anger just considering it. I’ve dealt with this so often online. I finally couldn’t take the abuse from [Bumbling Whiner] and [Grumpy Geezer] and (to a lesser extent, amazingly) [Haughty Proudface] anymore, and chose to leave. Remaining there was emboldening them and legitimizing their behavior by giving it my attention. I’d already done what I could—having given them the Gospel multiple times, corrected their lies on several occasions, and fingered them as deceitful liars, there was nothing more to say. I “shook the dust off my feet,” and have not posted since...January 19, [editor's note: I posted this roughly mid-spring 2013] though I’ve paid some limited attention to new posts that have been made on the site. It was necessary for my benefit. And I was, I perceive, doing nothing to help the Gospel; if anything, it must have been vastly outweighed by the negative effects of being always embroiled in conflict with these aggressors. I’m seeking to meet more people in person because it’s possible to have a much better effect that way. It could be because in-person communication is the Holy Spirit’s default modus operandi, which He wishes us to do, since He’s been working through that medium since the beginning.  …. Anyway, to sum all of that up, I really hate lies.

                And if I hate lies, how much more so does God, who is Truth itself, hate lies. Every lie offends God because it’s a direct affront to His character. Inasmuch as lies offend me, I am encouraged because I think this may be evidence of my sanctification by which I am receiving the ‘mind of Christ’ and being progressively transformed so that my desires mimic His. God, who is perfect in His attributes, must burn with an everlasting hatred toward the disgusting perversion of the truth for evil purposes by sinful men. It is an awesome thing to consider. And I mean “awesome” as in the 1611 meaning, where the definition was synonymous with “terrible.” – Frightening.

                When all of these things roll into one, surely you must have an Evil of Evils on your hands. A prideful man who in his idolatry sees himself as the arbiter of truth and the sword of justice against those whom he disagrees with. Despite this, the man believes lies and seeks to deceive others in order to accomplish his goal of interfering with the spread of the Gospel and the furthering of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. And since Jesus said “he who hates his brother is a murderer,” and John in 1 John 3:15 follows that up with, “and no murderer has eternal life in Him,” this prideful liar hates the Gospel, hates Christians and therefore has murder in his eyes – and lo, if he had the power and opportunity, he would accomplish murder of the flesh as well – and so the people I have dealt with in on line fora have been evil, evil men. I’m not condemning them. They stand condemned already. They have a tendency to try to make you feel guilty in your righteous judgment when they claim to be Christian, but when their every action is in opposition to the Gospel, and they do nothing but mock and deride those who speak the Truth of God’s Word, when they do not preach the Word themselves, when they defy Biblical commandments and lie about the meaning of Scripture, spread assorted heresies, display acrimonious pride and show contempt toward believers, then there is no mistake on my part to say that they are not Christians. If there was merely a misunderstanding, that would be a different thing. But when you do the devil’s work, and you persist in opposition to God’s glory, and do your best to persecute His saints (inasmuch as you can accomplish that on a message board), then you are not merely mistaken, but you are willfully deceived and you are lost. I feel a deep pity for these men. I am incensed at their evil words, but I would nonetheless wish them to be saved. But if they do not change, God will be oh so just to cast them into the Hell which they so richly deserve. And there is no sin in being satisfied at the exacting of God’s justice on the heads of the unrighteous. What would be sin would be if it pleased me that they be destroyed rather than forgiven and transformed. But here is the dividing line: he who seeks forgiveness will receive it from God, and it will fill me with joy to call the repentant my brother. But he who never repents, but continues in his evil ways, will not receive the forgiveness offered through the Cross, because indeed he refused to come to the foot of it. And there is no mourning for those in hell. The only thing to be careful about is to not assume that someone is in hell or is destined for hell, no matter how good we presume our perception to be. God could be working on them in secret, such that I do not know for sure what will ultimately become of those who have “with lies made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad. (Ezekiel 13:22)” I should not be pleased at the thought of them being in hell or going to hell. I can be pleased at the thought of IF they do not repent, that God will deal with them justly, and remove their evil from the realm of the living, that it may confound me no more. But what I should always wrap up thinking about God’s justice with, is the thought that God is rich in mercy and that He has the power and prerogative to choose to save even the most vile sinners—the number of whom, lest I forget, I also used to belong to, but am now reconciled to the Father—and that the fact that the decision is ultimately God’s will give me peace, so that I do not need to concern myself with what will happen to these men. They could go on as the blasphemous, proud, hateful liars they are until they burn in Hell for it, or they could be miraculously transformed by an executive act of God’s sovereign grace and love, into children of God and brothers of mine in Christ. I know not whither they will go, but knowing that the choice is God’s takes the burden off my shoulders, and off my mind. It’s not for me to choose—or know—what will happen to them; all I know is that the end result will be just and right because God is a good God and He does what is good and just. To conclude all this, my final prayer should be that God exercise His sovereignty and save these recalcitrant sinners, that my anger may not have the final word but that God’s love shall overcome my finite emotions—whether led by the Spirit or led by the flesh (and I hope, the former, as much as possible). Having finally relieved my mind of this and cast my burdens on God, who is strong enough to bear them, and wise enough to decide what to do with it all, I can rest, knowing that He is in control, and I need not worry. I am free to go on seeking to do His will as much as I can, wherever I can, and to grow in the Spirit, until He returns or calls me home. With this in my mind, I am spiritually, mentally and emotionally at peace, and can sleep, satisfied.

                This is what my prayers are like. Not always about judgment. But in those times when I have prayed about others that I risk hating if I’m not careful, what you see above is essentially the thought process that I have gone through as I’ve “talked it out” with God, until I’ve reached the end of my prayer. That is why I wrote at the end that I can sleep. :)

~ Rak Chazak

Proof of God: The Argument From Possibility

The Argument From Possibility
                I was recently watching another episode of the traveling atheist (‘Closer To Truth’ with Robert Lawrence Kuhn) and the episode focused solely on the ‘Ontological Argument for God,’ or in other words, the argument from existence. Meaning that some clearly obvious facts about existence are taken and used as the axioms in a logical proof that is intended to demonstrate that God’s existence is necessary.

                Why everyone seems to zero in on Anselm of Canterbury’s “that than which nothing greater can be conceived” thought-experiment as the best representation of the Ontological Argument (or synonymous with it, even), is beyond me. At least one person in the episode (the series is presented through interviews with philosophers, scientists and theologians) made the statement that to take Anselm’s pondering on ‘the greatest conceivable being’ and to hold this up as a proof is to stretch it far beyond what it’s intended to do, even by Anselm himself—and he placed the blame on well-meaning but incorrect theologians in time past. What that interviewee said was that Anselm simply suggested that whatever you conceive of a thing, the actual thing itself is by definition going to be ‘greater’ than the conception of the thing. That seems benign enough, and it’s a satisfactory conclusion to me, who has wondered since first introduced why this is held up as the best that Christian philosophy can do.
Wiki Commons image. Alvin Plantinga.
                The last interviewee of the episode, Alvin Plantinga, also made a similar remark about Anselm, that as stated, the argument doesn’t work. But he had apparently developed an improvement of the argument, which he called “The Argument from Possible Worlds,” or something similar. While I didn’t quite follow his construction of his proof, I immediately understood the summary: he said that as constructed, the proof leads someone to be totally committed to the reality of God’s existence as a necessary fact, provided that he begin with the acknowledgement that it is possible for God to exist. For anyone to believe that God does not exist, they would have to claim that it is impossible for God to exist.

*    *     *     *     *

                This immediately made sense to me, because I’d constructed a similar logical proof before. I don’t believe this is the same proof Plantinga’s developed, and I don’t seek to take credit for his idea, but the thought process is similar, and he did remind me of it. Without further ado, here’s the Argument from Possibility.

The Choice

                Like Plantinga’s Possible Worlds, the proof does not unilaterally demonstrate God’s existence. What it does instead is to show that one must choose between the belief that God’s existence is either a fact, or that it is impossible. To believe that it is possible and yet that it is not actual, is to commit a logical contradiction. It is not possible for God’s existence (1) to be possible, and (2) for God not to exist.

Defining Possibility

What Does It Mean For Something To Be Probable or Possible?

Let’s talk mathematics.
  1. A thing that is possible can be represented with the probability 1/(a non-infinite large number from 1 to infinity, non-inclusive)
  2. If the probability of something is 1/1 or greater, the possible thing becomes a certainty—it will exist.
  3. Suppose that a 1/large# possibility is “run” on an infinite number of trials—either in infinite space or infinite time, or both.
  4. The foregoing suggestion should mathematically cause the probability to rise to 1/1 or higher, since the mathematical product of 1/(non-infinite large number approaching infinity) X (non-infinite large number approaching infinity) would be 1, by the cancellation method.
  5. Therefore, if something is possible in this universe, then it must be actual at least once, in some location therein, or else it would be impossible. By the laws of mathematics.

Further, for consideration,

I think the way the word “possible” is used in modern speech is
  1. to mean “that which I don’t know for a certainty is impossible”
  2. possible within a certain time or circumstance, i.e. certain conditions in the past or future.

This second sense narrows the number of trials down to a restricted portion of time and space, so it’s possible for something to be impossible within that circumstance but possible in a total sense. Using the first sense, it’s also possible for people to refer to impossible things as being possible, since the element of ignorance is involved. My definition previously is separate from human experience—a human would have to be able to see everywhere at all times in order to say that something is possible or impossible. And this is what flows into the next point. Namely that a human can make an absolute statement about the possibility of something that is “located” everywhere, at all times, since no matter where or when the human finds himself, he should be able to “observe” it—or not, if it doesn’t exist. And so now we are ready to take our understanding of what is possible, and enter the proof of God from possibility, in the next post.

~ Rak Chazak

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Phreniology: Theory of the Mind-Brain Interaction

I've had an idea that the body is a machine, the brain is the computer that controls it and runs subprograms, and the mind is the "user" component that "operates" the brain-body system to get the living human being to perform the actions desired by the operator. As an allegory for how our bodies, corporeal and incorporeal, actually work together. I was interested when I picked up a magazine from the leisure-reading rack at the YMCA and read this:

Credit for the information: National Geographic Magazine, February 2014 edition.
"Caltech and UCLA scientists use pictures of celebrities to study how the brain processes what the eyes see. In 2005 they found an individual nerve cell that fired only when subjects were shown pictures of Jennifer Aniston. Another neuron responded only to pictures of Halle Berry—even when she was masked as Catwoman. Follow-up studies suggest that relatively few neurons are involved in representing any given person, place, or concept, making the brain staggeringly efficient at storing information."
I fired off a text to my college friends telling them what I thought:
This is interesting, and seems to confirm my phreniology theory (+10pts for using big words!) that the brain is not the thing that stores memories--the mind(the spirit/soul) is--it is merely the biological machine that allows our complete human form to have access to our spiritual-identity-associated-memories for the purpose of conscious, mind-and-brain thought processing of these memories. How's that sound?
If the brain itself doesn't store memories, then the one-neuron recognition finding would be consistent with this: the memories associated with identifying and recognizing Jennifer Aniston as a singular individual need only be accessed by a single neuron "tagged" as the gateway for the brain to interact with the mind's memories. The rest of the brain's activity, beyond this one neuron, makes up the biological "processing" of this connection, that allows you to consciously realize that you're looking at Jennifer Aniston.
Side thought: In other words, every individual you can recognize is represented by one neuron. So, it seems likely, is any given place, any given major event in your past experience, and any given major concept that you understand or believe in. They are like locked gates that your brain holds the key to; it opens each gate when prompted, and proceeds to open up related thoughts through that particular memory-jogging avenue. (Your mind-brain therefore has an almost infinite capacity for remembering things, since you have hundred billions of neurons. It would seem necessary, if we're going to live forever, and remember a near infinite amount of things, wouldn't it?) Have you ever found that, for example when remembering song lyrics, you can only remember some things if you first "go through" the associated stored memories that come before it, in a sequence? I've heard the old poets of old held a remarkable amount of history in oral tradition, and perhaps this is how.
This makes further sense when it comes to mentally impaired or brain-damaged individuals. Their brain-mind connection is hampered because the brain is damaged. The brain therefore can't interact with the mind properly, and conscious thought is hamstrung and takes place less efficiently. Even more interestingly, this can explain why seemingly smart people can make such mind-numbingly (points for relevant adjective!) idiotic decisions and go from reasonable starting points to impossibly bizarre and false conclusions. In this case, their brain isn't damaged, but their mind is. The Bible says that those who rebel against God and do not have the Holy Spirit in them have a 'natural mind' and a 'seared conscience.' (1 Timothy 4:2, 1 Corinthians 2:14) My understanding of this is that unbelief literally makes you unintelligent, and perhaps that's because the mind fails to interact with the brain properly--it's the reverse of the previously discussed circumstance, except in this case it's your fault for it. Romans 1:21-22 further buttresses this notion, that prolonged and obstinate refusal to repent before God will literally make people stupid. The smart choice, in more than one way, it would seem, is to submit in faith to Christ.

If my phreniology theory is right, then an interesting conclusion results: you don't actually lose your memories. You may forget them, but you've merely lost access to them. You'll be able to access them once more in the eternal state, when your whole human form--mind and body--is repaired to full capacity. Unless, that is, you never submit your carnal mind to Christ.

~ Rak Chazak

Further reading:

Texting Treatise: Flirting

Three texts I sent to a female friend, spontaneously, a few nights ago (the warm weather lets me text more because my thumbs don't get numb when I'm taking walks with the dog at night):

Euphoria After Talking With Young Ladies That Day

Man, I like flirting. Maybe they think I'm cute, but even if they don't, I get high on the privilege of being the one to pay them attention and make them feel that someone thinks they're interesting, wants to talk to them, and maybe even finds them attractive. Making girls happy makes me happy. Can't explain how, but the 'why' seems obvious: I'm made to gain pleasure from seeing pleasure in a woman's face. It's undoubtedly a biological hardwiring designed to create a positive-feedback-system in my courtship/marriage where I get ever more motivated to serve my wife the more I serve her and bring joy to her by doing so. And in the meantime, I get my "fix" by flirting and talking to pretty girls. It gives me enough cheer to keep up the hope of finding someone I can really turn up the romance for/with, some day.

Definition of Flirting

I dunno (in response to my friend saying they don't think they flirt much with people), as far as I see it, flirting is just another word for being nice IF conditions are such that you have interest in that person, or either of you may be subtly communicating attraction, even by the benign act of choosing to talk to (which is by definition showing interest in) that person, RATHER than, literally, anyone else. So talking to a guy you like, if you smile, is a low-intensity flirt, essentially. Various behaviors that make interest more obvious make a flirt more obvious.

How I Use Flirting In Daily Life

So there's even a sense in which certain things I say to you or [another friend] can be (seen as) flirtatious, simply because you're attractive young women and I personally find you interesting to talk to. I can't think of a concrete recent example at the moment, but if I say something to compliment your personality or appearance, whereas it is sincere and typically meant as an encouragement first, it's "cross-categorized" (lol technical) as a flirtatious remark. What should be understood is that I'm not using 'flirt' to mean something frivolous or insincere OR (very importantly) something said with, by necessity, the intention or hope of producing desire in the object for the subject. Many of my flirts are for that purpose, but many are defiantly* not, and aloof, and some are just my friendly personality but interpreted by somebody else in a more intentional way. Lol clear enough?


I finished the text conversation with another text explaining how I saw our communications--I don't talk to her as an "outlet for flirting," for example. I explained what I appreciate(d) about the texts I get from her and the other girl, namely that whether I find agreement, criticism or disinterest as the response for something I say affects how I think about that, and it gives me an opportunity to refine my thoughts and speech and become a better man. Basically, this is the essence of Christian fellowship--encouraging each other and enabling each other's spiritual growth--merely over text. It's a great time to be alive.

~ Rak Chazak

*By the way, "defiantly" is not a misspelled "definitely." I intended to say that it is with defiance that I refuse to only flirt with people I might have romantic aspirations for. 

Personal Life Update, End of March

Frustration as a Source of Motivation

At work, our store has been two months in the process of a series of inspections to evaluate whether it should be elevated to "Training Store" status. This would bring along with it a number of perks, such as more attention paid by Corporate on the level of replacing damaged or missing equipment. It would also, supposedly, make the upper-level bosses more inclined to confirm promotion requests for crewmembers, which the General Manager would send. But according to the GM, Corporate has "put all evaluations on hold," pending the outcome of the store evaluation. My 6-month date was nearly 2 months ago, and I still haven't had that "6-month evaluation." I'm taking the GM at his word and waiting to see whether I and others get promotions--and for that matter, back-pay for the lost 2 month's raised pay--and will wait to take any action until afterwards. But I have many ideas for how to go from here. As always, it's a waiting game and a matter of time.

The Animals of Summer Are Arising

I saw a bat earlier this week when I took only my second outdoor run all winter. You've gotta have good eyes. They flap very much like small birds, and don't make any noise, but their flight-paths are very irregular. The typical sparrow will bob or dip in a sinusoidal wave pattern as it crosses a street, but bats move side to side as the presence of insects allows, so you can spot them that way, even if it's a bit too dim at twilight to see their wings against the lighter backdrop of the sky. 

Speaking of insects, that there are bats out means that it's getting warm enough for the flying crawlies to come out. It's been nice not having tons of fluttering creatures stuck to the front door on account of the light, at night, when coming home or after taking the dog for a walk. That's going to end by the end of May, I figure. Not that I know what this year's weather is going to be like. I've never seen so many individual snow days ever. It's been a very wet winter.

Yesterday, it rained all day and extremely hard at times. I walked the dog in the morning and must have passed by nearly 1,000 or more earthworms in the span of the mile distance I went out from home. They were all over the road, choked out of the wet ground by the moisture.


I'm taking Allegra (and since 3 days ago, Allegra-D) for my springtime allergies, and I made sure to start very early, as soon as there was a mild week in March, anticipating the pollen spread. So far I've sneezed once a morning and that's been it. It's too early (too cool) to tell whether this means the drug is working to control my allergies, but by mid-April it should be more obvious. If Allegra does the job, I won't have to go back to the allergist specialist and beg for immunization shots. Something to pray about :)


I'm closing out the second month of my Y activity, although only the first month of membership (got fortunate that the lady who handles applications got the flu for a week, and didn't get to mine for the rest of the month, so I got to use a guest pass all of February). It's been just as much fun to meet people from school as it's been to notice the improvement on my biceps. That's the only muscle I've really been pushing hard with increasing weights; the others I've been really careful to not stress too far, until I 'feel out' where my limits are, so I don't overwork myself and get taken out of commission for a week due to soreness. It happened once. You can lift beyond your threshold for soreness, I found when I went way too gung-ho on the back-situp machine at my college. One of the guys who has had the biggest body transformations since high school is in there frequently, and he spontaneously referred to himself with an accurate nickname I liked: Boulder Shoulders.


Going to take care of my taxes the next time I get to use internet in a non-public location. I also went to church today for the first time in 3(+?) weeks, and the youth pastor (28, and has been married for 7 years!!!) gave a sermon on 1 Peter 3. He made a pretty good point at the part where it says "don't let your adorning be in jewelry, or hair, or clothes," by saying that if this meant that women can't wear jewelry or 'do their hair,' then it would logically also require that they don't wear clothes. Probably a fun interpretation for the nonchristian, but it's plainly not the intent of the author. Instead, the point is that jewelry and hair and clothes are not WHERE your beauty should be found--it should come from the heart. Being outwardly beautiful is not evil, but it shouldn't be used to compensate for, or be at the expense of, an atrocious character.

If the warm weather stays, I'm going to be happy to pick up my running routine again. Perhaps by mid-July I can once again reclaim my former physique (my peak cardiovascular condition was in my 17s)

~ Rak Chazak

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Personal Life Update: Thwarted Again

I went to a friend's house today to use the internet for tax purposes. I was expecting it to be somewhat complicated, but I wasn't expecting it to fail to work outright. I am half-way through a request for income-based repayment of my student loans (basically, if you make less than you owe, you owe nothing per month, though interest continues to accrue ('capitalize', become principal)), but would have finished it today if the IRS personal financial information retrieval service would function. It told me it couldn't find any of my information. Back to the pre-internet age with me. And while my mother was doing her taxes, the advisor mentioned that money paid to the university last year, even if it was a loan, could be claimed for a deduction (I presume that was it), but the question was whether the disbursement was made January 2013 or later. Since I didn't have any paper documents on hand to answer that question, and since I didn't remember offhand, I'm going to need to call up the university by phone and find out. If they were made within the last fiscal year, then I'll need to find out how much was paid in tuition, for her taxes. 

This is one reason I'm not such a huge fan of doing everything on-line. It's because no matter how advanced newer technologies get, there'll always be a place for phone calls and paper mail. At least, there always is, in my experience, so it's nice to have stamps, envelopes, printers, and telephones handy when reconciling financial information.

~ Rak Chazak

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Charity Promotion Becomes Surprisingly Thorough Analogy for Responses to the Gospel

At my work, we have a promotion where people can make a small donation to a charity, and receive an item to present at any future purchase for the rest of the year and receive a free food item with their purchase. Some of the responses have struck me as really lacking, as far as good excuses go, and after enough of these, it provoked me to analogize these excuses to people's rejections of the Gospel.

There are three categories. Some people have no 'promo item' and don't want one. Others don't, and do. Others have them, and either want more or don't want more. These represent, metaphorically, rejection of the Gospel, acceptance of the Gospel--and thereby salvation, and acceptance or refusal of ongoing sanctification by the Holy Spirit.

The free item represents salvation, the small donation represents the cost of repentance and submission to Christ, and the further donations represent sanctification and deeper intimacy with God.

Rejection of the Gospel

-- no, I'm suspicious of the word "free." Nothing's really free. (this person doesn't understand the nature of a free gift, thinks there's something he has to do for it, and can't appreciate the gift)

--no, I'm suspicious of charity donations I don't choose myself. (this person thinks religion is personal and doesn't appreciate the absolute truth of divine revelation. He's inclined to pick a religion that feels right to him, rather than the true Gospel)

--no, I'd rather not incur the cost (this person doesn't want to give up whatever's standing in between them and their salvation--sin)

--we don't really come here that often/don't have [Restaurant] near where we live (this person can't see how a relationship with God will benefit them, so they're not interested. They're selfish. They see some benefit, but want more than they expect to get.)

--I don't really eat those (related to the above one. This person doesn't see any benefit at all, because the benefit he wants is contrary to the gift that he's offered)

--I got one of those before but never used it/lost it. (this person 'tried religion,' and it didn't work for him, so he figured it was worthless)

--I've already donated on my own time (religious. Thinks he's done enough work and deserves his reward without the cost of repentance)

--not today, another time (this person wants to keep on sinning, and thinks they'll have time later on to repent)

--I don't have the money with me (this person wants the reward, but thinks that there's other things in their life that distract them, that they think they need to be concerned with, more than salvation)

--good sales pitch, but no thanks (this person inexplicably refuses even though he clearly understands the offer and sees the benefit of it)


--well, it's for a good cause

--yes, anything for that charity!

--free for a whole [time span]? (appealing benefit: eternity)

--for just such-and-such a price? (appealing benefit: low personal cost)


--(smile) sure. (based on sales presentation)

Responses to Sanctification

--I already have one (person doesn't understand that sanctification is a continual process and they're never done growing)

--I have one with me, but I don't want to use it (why wouldn't you want God to sanctify you?)

--I have one, let me use it now (person responds willingly to discipline or other sanctification)

--I do have one, and let me get another (person gladly looks forward to the refining fire of sanctification)

--yes, I got one last promotional season, and let me get another this time

--let me get several, to give to my kids or grandkids

I think minimal interpretation makes most sense; everybody can draw the most out of reading this by considering it with their own mind.

~ Rak Chazak

Monday, March 10, 2014

I've Finally Arrived

Because of my personal history of not being frequently immersed in social situations with people my age outside of school, sports, or places where adults congregated, I've had far less experience in terms of the types of encounters I've heard from others that they were having or have had. 
Some personal information, non-explicit nor personally identifiable. Discusses being 'hit on' and romantic crushes.
It wasn't until after graduating high school that I had the experience of unrequited emotions toward me by other people. Well, that's not entirely accurate, because I was aware of a few crushes in middle school (I was cuter then), but they were overtly declared and fizzled, they've just taken me more and more by surprise as time has gone on. 

-  A girl who avoided me ever after touching me inappropriately (and not getting the reaction she was expecting, I guess) wrote a suggestive note in my yearbook indicating she had tender feelings for me.

-  A girl in my freshman year of college brought a movie over to watch in my dorm room. When we said goodbye, she kissed me on the neck. I was totally oblivious to the presence of any physical attraction up to that point, and I think my 'failure to reciprocate' explains why she and her three friends always seemed to interact with me awkwardly, though they would acknowledge me and wave if we passed each other on campus. 

-  Another girl that year sent me an email to say she was avoiding me because she liked me. Nothing came of that, for obvious reasons.

-  Someone I hadn't spoken to in two years, because she had asked me "do you hate me?" which I took as an offensive insult and said 'yes' in desperation to end her insecure texting, emailed me to try to reconnect, and shared that she'd really liked me/had a strong crush for some time. She again persisted with the "do you dislike me?" questioning, my best guess is because she wanted me to say I liked her, but I refused to take her lead, and she became offended and ragequit.

-  I went on a casual 'date' with a girl I'd flirted with in Fall 2011, and after talking for a long time she revealed that she had a boyfriend and was most interested in seeing 'what I was like,' because of persistent negative rumors about me on campus [as a result of presenting Biblical Christianity on the university forum] that she had become aware of. 

Nothing like being ambush-kissed or having to constantly defend your friend/family/partner in court because of false allegations by a 'crazy ex,' or being propositioned for a threesome, or going to a social gathering where a fight occurs or police arrive for whatever reason. Just a bunch of people failing to consider that their assumptions about how people respond to certain behaviors might be..let's say limited

*   *   *   *   *

Piggybacking off that last idea, I now come to the topic of discussion. A friend of mine had once informed me that they've been 'hit on' by people of "all 3" claimed orientations, i.e. hetero, bi and homosexual, both males and females. To me, I'd just assumed it was something that wouldn't happen because I just don't go out to places like clubs or parties or wherever else one might expect to be hit on (oh, almost forgot bars). The lack-of-alcohol factor also would play a role, since slightly inebriated people might be less inhibited and feel more confident or flamboyant. For that reason, I wasn't expecting to get handed a note by a coworker (from a guest) one day that said 'call me' (or 'text me?') with a number attached. A few days later, sitting at home, I let my curiosity lead me to send off a text.

It went sort of like this:

-Initial Contact
-Who's this? response
-Explanation; so we don't know each other?
-Respondent feigns uncertainty
-I suggest it was someone playing a prank giving me his number
-Suddenly remembers who I am
-Tells me I'm "seriously attractive."
-I reassure him and thank him for the compliment, then ask if he got the impression I had 'an animus, condemnation, disgust, meanness, lack of respect etc or made you suspicious that I harbor those emotions toward you'
-He replies no, tells me I'm nice, 'obviously very intelligent' and deserves 'props for being as respectful as you are.'
-I tell him "You happen to have stumbled upon one of the most conservative Christian 24-year-olds this side of D.C." and explain that my kindness is not in spite of my Christianity, but as a result, a derivative of my beliefs which "leave no part of life uninfluenced."

I decided to tell him that, I explained, "because tomorrow is not promised. There is no better moment than the present," to talk about such a serious subject.

This is the conversation, summarized. I'm including his final text as a whole, as an anecdotal evidence for any Christians out there who aren't sure/confident about whether they should be up-front with the fact that they are Christian and "preach" to people when they've just gotten to know them a little bit. I wasn't sure how he would react, because chances are he could be like the homosexual activists at my university who have gone out of their way to try to destroy for me, academically, professionally and otherwise. But I stepped out in faith. Here's his response:
I really think you're honestly an awesome person [Hakam]. I'm really glad you've been openly honest with me about this all. It brings a lot to mind, because a lot of people have reacted very negatively. & you being a Christian, & reacting as respectful as you possibly could, is sure a powerful thing to see. I'm more then open to answering any questions & talking to you about anything at anytime you'd like. In my personal opinion someone as intelligent & awesome as you should not be working at [Restaurant]. Keep up the good work & push for what you want, [Hakam]. I believe in you. You're for sure an awesome dude.  & again, I'll just say if there's any possibility of us becoming friends, I'd be more then happy too. You seem like a really cool guy with a great outlook on life. & I see you going big & making it just from the little I know about you! 
- Results not typical. Faithful witness is required by God of Christians regardless of the end result. -

I appear to have an open door for further witnessing, with a person who's now in a position to listen and care about what I tell them.

"Imitate me as I imitate Christ."
~ Paul
1 Corinthians 11:1

~ Rak Chazak

Childhood Fears of the Dark

I remember not actually being afraid of the dark per se, nor was I particularly nervous when I was alone and heard an unrecognized noise, but the combination of being both alone in the dark meant that you couldn't stifle your nervousness, since your mind keeps you well informed of the fact that with no one within earshot, no one could hear you scream.

What actually made childhood imagination into a source of terror was perhaps the most benign culprit conceivable: a Jack Russel Terrier who presented the main character of classic novels.
Wishbone, as the Time Traveller of HG Wells.
It was the episode for The Time Machine that made me irrationally worried about mummified gibbons with fangs and red eyes (that's what they resembled, the 'morlocks') crawling out of holes in the ground or from around buildings and screeching at me as they moved in for the kill.
It must have been somewhere around when I was 7, 8 or 9, and it took me a few years to get over it and be confident walking around outside of the range of our house's floodlight at night. Then when I was 11, I saw it again. And relapsed.

Now I love the dark, because I know that there's nothing out there to be afraid of. I like moving around under the shroud of low light and observing but not being observed. The silence away from the lights and noises of civilization is peaceful and enjoyable. My poems Awe and Ode to an Outdoorsy Wife are both inspired by, and feature, my nighttime ponderings.

Related note: the morlocks gave me the motivation to be afraid of the dark, but the image I conjured of what was coming up my staircase in my bedroom most often was this:
This monstrosity, shown here feasting on the blood of children who stay up too late at night, was the unorthodox subject of a book for kids who were tired of "nice bedtime stories" about chickens and whatnot, who wanted scarier material.
Best Bedtime Story Ever.
I mean, the illustrator deserves an award for their commitment.

Sweet dreams.

~ Rak Chazak

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Personal Life Update, February Edition

Since my last input early in December, I've gotten my tax papers (haven't filed yet, but I think I'll do that online and knock out two things at once), and have to hop on the internet to make 'Income-Based-Repayment' official, so I don't have to pay anything (leaving me free to pay interest). I've found that interest on loans is tax-refundable, so you bet your bottom dollar (no joke, sadly) that I'm going to pay $200/month to my loan servicer to make sure I get a $2400 tax refund next fiscal year AND keep the loan principals from going up. 

What I consider unnecessary drama at work is providing some subtle motivation for me to reignite my search for degree-relevant work nearby. Now that I've worked long enough to build up a buffer in my bank account, I've bought a vehicle and it allows me now to drive farther to interviews and makes me independent of my family's schedules with regard to whether they can drive me or not, on such and such a day at such and such a time. The independence is giving me the confidence to consider a sustained job-search in the coming months to be worth it.

I've applied for a membership at my local Y, and been fortunate enough to still have a temporary pass over a month later, because the lady who handles the requests got the flu. Basically, I didn't only get to skirt the joining fee, I got the first month free. And still going. I've run into quite a few people I recognize from high school, there. Most remarkable was a once-pudgy girl who I initially mistook for a high school athlete, until I recognized her face. She could probably kick my butt seven ways to Sunday (is that how the phrase goes?), and she needs to be able to, too, because she's a cop now. I can't recall if it was a State Trooper or Sheriff gig, but the neat thing about that is that she's hitherto the most professionally stable individual I've met. One other guy has been working on his family farm since graduation. The rest of us that I've run into are in service jobs and either living with parents or hopping around from one bad living arrangement to another. Or still at college. 

Incidentally, I learned that Police take care of towns and cities, and Sheriffs have the rest of the counties and rural areas. State Troopers are everywhere(?). So now I know the difference. I am 24. It takes me a while to get things....hey, everybody advances at different rates in different aspects! ;) That's my story and I'm sticking to it, anyway.

I also got hit on for the first time by a gay guy, which was a fascinating thing to me and something I'll be writing a summary of in an upcoming post, maybe by tomorrow. Allow me to bluster for amusement: 'You know, if you're so good-looking other guys find you irresistible, you've really got it going on.' Haha. And maybe this is, half-seriously, an indication that my typical personality is ambiguous enough to be perceived as flirtatious by people, depending on their opinion of me, attraction-wise. Works for me. Though I do wish I got more compliments from 20-somethings than I do from senior citizens when I'm working. I take it all in stride, nevertheless.

And that's what's going on.

~ Rak Chazak

Friday, March 7, 2014

Choosing to Break Up or Break In A Relationship: Risk-Reward Calculus

A female friend who had ended a relationship asked me a question, and my thoughts expanded from her specific situation to contemplate what's reasonable when it comes to making choices about whether to enter into or end relationships. Following is my response.
Here's my view: any type or amount of sin can be a valid reason to refrain from entering into a lifelong relationship with a particular person. The interesting thing is that since all are sinners, depending on where you draw the line, you can 'rule out' absolutely anybody depending on your preferences. So if one is to marry another, some kind or number of sins will have to be overlooked--not ignored, however, but forgiven. Just as all of our sins are forgiven by Christ, we must also be able to forgive our spouse, and to live with them knowing their imperfection and loving them in spite of it. So what it ultimately comes down to is what sort of sinfulness we can tolerate. What it is within our power, aided by the Holy Spirit, to forgive and, for the purpose of marriage, also reconcile.
Any reason can be a valid one, a good one, a justifiable one, to have broken up with [Your Ex]. In the vein of logical proofs, what is valid is not always sound, and so, even though many choices which are personal preferences may be justified, some are not always worth it. Determining which are and which are not is a matter for each individual's personal risk-reward calculus to evaluate.

My personal advice? It hinges on a few conditionals. Is there a guy that is better than [Your Ex] out there? Sure. Will you necessarily meet him and be pursued by him? That's anyone's guess. You're young yet. If you wait, you can have the benefit of a) potentially finding someone you like better, or at least figuring out what you want (to the point of visually recognizing it) and b) if leaving [Your Ex] was the wrong choice, this will become increasingly more apparent over time, and he'll still be there at the end (assuming he doesn't start a relationship with someone else, but if he does, then leaving him was more likely the right choice). Since you're unlikely to get married very soon, I would say to wait and evaluate your situation and keep tabs on your emotions as the time apart grows. And do try to benefit from relationships with other guys if you can, but not to the point of making mistakes, of course. I mainly mean friendships, wherein you acknowledge an attraction toward each other. After some time, you can reevaluate where you stand and you won't make any accidentally hasty decisions.
Feel free to take this advice or leave it, if it is of benefit to you, if you're a young woman, or for that matter a guy--but one thing is different: if you're a man, it's your responsibility to initiate the relationship and pursue her, for a number of reasons which are well worth taking more time and explaining in a future blog post on Complementarianism.

~ Rak Chazak

Misconception: 7 Deadly Sins. No Such Thing, BUT...

Proverbs 6:16-19

16 These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
17 A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
18 A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
19 A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.

"According to Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century, the seven deadly sins are as follows: pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed, and sloth. Although these are undeniably sins, they are never given the description of "the seven deadly sins" in the Bible."GotQuestions
There is a misconception that all sins are equal in severity. ALL sins are equally sinful in that they each merit eternal judgment in hell for the person who commits them. But that does not mean that there is not a relative sense in which some sins can be "worse" than others. Does not Jesus say, 
Jesus answered [Pilate], “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” John 19:11
? Indeed, if there is a "greater sin" then some sins are worse than others. Going back to the original verses in Proverbs, we can, without fear of blaspheming, determine that the "things the Lord hates, which are an abomination" are worse sins than others. So what does the list become, if we condense it?

1. Pride 

2. Lies
3. Murder
4. Premeditating Evil (of some form or other. The original Hebrew would be well worth a study)
5. Stubbornly Willful, Persistent Sinfulness (one could phrase this as "Rebelliousness")
6. Deceiving--more than just telling a lie, you present lies as truth in public.
7. Instigating mistrust or infighting among people who are saved.

Lying, in some form or other, is on there twice. I find this fascinating, and perhaps informed by my own experience, I am suspicious that the greatest sin there is is lying, especially if it deceives somebody, especially if it is a lie about God that misleads people and steers them away from Him, or denies Him His due glory.

This would at least be consistent with the Biblical witness. What's fascinating is that sexual sin, gluttony, greed, anger, drunkenness, etc are not listed here. They can of course be premeditated and factor into deceiving people, driving a wedge between believers, and be part of an ongoing lifestyle of rebelliousness, but though they are sinful, in and of themselves they are not the most offensive, it would seem, to the almighty. Perhaps this is why Jesus got along better with prostitutes and tax collectors than prideful religious leaders.

What sin most angers you?

Voter Fraud Is A Sign of Accountability-Awareness

My insight after the 2012 election, sent as an email to a few younger conservative friends:
I think it's fair to assume from this point on that every election will be an unfair election. If we manage to elect a conservative, or even a Republican, into office it will be a miracle. And I'm not using that term flippantly. I mean that if we put a non-leftist into office, it will be profoundly significant. 
But the worst part is this: we can't treat the electoral system as a broken system. We have to keep going to the polls and voting honestly. The irony is that election fraud is only perpetuated so long as these people think they have to fake genuine elections in order to win. If they get the idea that they don't even have to pretend anymore, we'll be like Mexico or Iran. The democrat will win with 10% more votes than the exit polls show that there was turnout in favor of them. And then we will have lost all hope of retaking the country by peaceful means. Violent revolution will be the only possible alternative at that point, and there's no guarantee of its success. So no matter how bad this all seems, we cannot let the democrats illegitimize the electoral system. We have to keep exercising our right to vote and fight against their attempts to undermine confidence in the government. If the People give up demanding accountability of the government, then all is lost.
For context, do a search on election fraud in the 2012 election. There are many sites making claims, and though there's bound to be sensationalism, some are also very legitimate. But it wasn't because of fraud, real or imagined, that Obama won the election. It's because somewhere around HALF of all eligible conservative voters stayed home. If the People don't exercise their right to vote, they fully deserve the government they inherit.

~ Rak Chazak

Tidbits and Copypasta from Last Year

Parts of this post frankly presents ludicrous political realities that are intended by satirists to anger.
I was going over my computerized journal from last year and found a number of interesting quotations that I'd copied into it for my own personal record of their ideas. This post will share a collection of some of these. If the quote does not have an author identified, it will be Daniel Greenfield, from the Sultan Knish blog.

*          *          *

Terrorism is cheap for the sponsors, profitable for the participants and hideously expensive for the targets. A soldier in a First World nation can cost six figures. For that same amount, a backward oil tyranny can field a hundred men. When those hundred men kill a soldier, then his nation will be heartbroken and question the costs of war. When those hundred men die, their mothers will ceremonially wail and cry out for more martyrs to avenge them. And the terror will go on.
Arab Nationalism failed to produce a single army that could take on the West. Egypt’s armies were smashed by Israel. Iraq’s were torn apart by the United States. And so civilized mass warfare was instead replaced by a primitive calculated chaos.
Terrorism has no “off switch” because it’s too profitable. There is no down side for its sponsors who can inflict significant amounts of harm and collect enormous profits for a few million here and there. Their power to temporarily turn off the terror makes them even more powerful and influential. ~DG

"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes
sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." --- C.S. Lewis

“Eventually biblioskeptics run out of excuses, as we know from experience. This suggests that the whole exercise was a pseudo-intellectual smokescreen for unbelief that has different underlying causes.” ~ Jonathan Sarfati

“By virtue of established case law and cemented with an 8-1 Supreme Court decision, criminals are exempt from gun registration because it would violate their Fifth Amendment protection from self-incrimination.” Haynes v. U.S. (1968)

“According to Governor Andrew Cuomo, child pornography, stealing children, rape in the 3rd degree, criminally negligent homicide and choking someone are lesser offenses than owning a high capacity magazine. If your child is lured under the reign of Cuomo the Second, then you better hope the molester also did something “seriously wrong” like owning a high capacity magazine. “

“Cliff Kincaid is right and he's wrong. There can be gay conservatives, just as there are adulterous conservatives, and we've seen plenty of those. The problem is that the left projects personal behavior onto identity politics. And there is a major difference between being gay and conservative and insisting that  homosexual identity is legitimately conservative. That difference is where we run into problems with Mark Sanford. No one is perfect. And while our leaders should embody virtues, it's unrealistic to expect the same of the rank and file activist. An adulterous conservative is a problem for his family. A conservative who insists that adultery is a conservative value, is a problem for the conservative movement.”

10 things that Forgiveness is not:
1.       Approving or Diminishing
2.       Enabling sin
3.       Denying a wrongdoing
4.       Waiting for an apology
5.       Forgetting
6.       Ceasing to feel the pain
7.       A one time event
8.       Neglecting Justice
9.       Trusting
10.    Reconciliation

"moral relativism holds that nothing is absolutely right or wrong. Except that nothing is absolutely right or wrong. As Shakespeare put it "there is nothing absolutely good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Actually, Shakespeare gave those words to Hamlet, who was pretending to be insane when he said them. Which is to imply that moral relativism isn't just crazy, it's fake crazy -- because nobody is really crazy enough to believe it.” ~ Andrew Klavan

“Eurocrats fancied that the Arab Spring meant that the Muslim world was finally catching up to Europe. It's the other way around. These days Europe is catching up to the Arab Spring and not just because of the wave of Muslim colonists spreading across its shores. European countries are losing the vestiges of democracy and bouncing between unelected technocrats and elected extremists. The Brotherhood phenomenon is not foreign to Europe. Not when Athens is tilting to the Golden Dawn and Italy's new power broker is a leftist comedian whose sole virtue is that he hates it all. Eventually the far right or the far left will get its ducks in a row and make a serious play for power and the Eurocrats will either be caught flatflooted or will be forced to invalidate elections. Either one is going to be ugly. Beating Mitt Romney was no great achievement. Neither was beating McCain. But at some point the government-media complex of social welfare and crony capitalism will go up against an angry populist with an agenda and an organized movement, from the right or the left, and then things will get properly ugly. That man isn't on the scene yet, but he's probably hanging around meetings somewhere and imagining what he will do if he ever gets the chance. And if he ever gets the chance, it won't be pretty.” ~DG

"Good money must have an intrinsic value. The United States of America cannot make its shadow legal tender for debts payable in money without ultimately bringing upon their foreign commerce and their home industry a catastrophe, which will be the more overwhelming the longer the day of wrath puts off its coming." ... "From the decision of the court I see only evil likely to follow. There have been times within the memory of all of us when the legal-tender notes of the United States were not exchangeable for more than one-half of their nominal value. The possibility of such depreciation will always attend paper money. This inborn infirmity no mere legislative declaration can cure. If congress has the power to make the notes a legal tender and to pass as money or its equivalent, why should not a sufficient amount be issued to pay the bonds of the United States as they nature? Why pay interest on the millions of dollars of bonds now due when congress can in one day make the money to pay the principal? And why should there be any restraint upon unlimited appropriations by the government for all imaginary schemes of public improvement, if the printing-press can furnish the money that is needed for them?" - From Justice Stephen J. Field’s sole dissent in Juilliard v. Greenman, 110 U.S. 421 (1884)

“The great body of our citizens shoot less as times goes on. We should encourage rifle practice among schoolboys, and indeed among all classes, as well as in the military services by every means in our power," Teddy Roosevelt said. "The first step – in the direction of preparation to avert war if possible, and to be fit for war if it should come – is to teach men to shoot!”
                In 1905, another step forward was taken, when President Roosevelt signed Public Law 149 into effect, authorizing the sale, at cost, of surplus military rifles, ammunition, and related equipment to rifle clubs.

"We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population. And the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members."
- Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood

“Unless you start with God you can’t know anything. Because in order to know anything at all you would have to know everything, because if you don’t know everything what you don’t know could contradict what you think you know.” ~ Sye Ten Bruggencate

"I would say that if you don't believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you're really not in any meaningful sense a Christian." ~Christopher Hitchens

~ Rak Chazak