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Thursday, November 29, 2007



I've sailed this sea in temptest, storm and trial.
Some think I'm cursed, I think I'm blessed.
The way I see it, if this life is truly all there is,
I may as well lay down and molder with the rest.

But on the outside chance that all of this makes sense,
I'll trust that I am watched by He who made the stars.
That He who set the worlds to spin in space.
Knows exactly where his troubled children are.

How sweet the sound, the unseen wind in treetops
That, if it will, may bring down mighty oaks about my ears
Or yet may fill my sails and drive my tiny boat
Across the pitching, heaving sea of years

I choose to raise my sails and catch the wind.
And cling to the tiller, cloak wrapped up against the spray
Trusting that soon again will come the morning
Steering small and ever on, only stars to guide my way

by Tom King

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Denominations as Evidence of God's Presence

I read about a man who was re-establishing a forest on land that had been stripped of vegetation by a passing African war. He began by planting pine trees. Once those were established, he began introducing insects that fed on pine needles. The insects added nutrients to the soil and soon they were able to add plants along the forest floor to balance the pines. Soon animals and birds were re-established and more complex plant forms took root.

In the early stages of the project, crews had to work very hard to keep the forest balanced and move the emerging eco-system forward more quickly than nature usually does on its own hook. What they discovered is that the simpler the forest, the harder it was to keep alive. Conversely, the more complex the system became, the more stable it was.

What I got from that was this apparent law of nature. Complex eco-systems are more stable than simple ones. Why is that?

It's because complex systems have more redundancies in which more than one member of the system helps deliver key functions that make the system healthy. Our forester found that the less he was in control of the forest and the more God was in control, the stronger the forest became.

Human eco-systems always get into trouble when they follow the seductive path of simplification. Look at the monumental disasters in human government throughout history. Whenever we've tried to centralize all of government into one monolithic system, great misery and instability has been the result. Stalinism, Naziism brutal monarchies have all destroyed the very countries that these systems sought to stabilize with powerful central authorities and institutionalized uniformity. Grim black or gray or drab looking uniforms and goose-stepping soldiers tend to be harbingers of instability wherever they appear.

Rome expanded rapidly under the Republic and even managed to thrive for some centuries so long as authority and actual working power was decentralized and more capitalist. The harder the Caesars tried to consolidate power, reduce individuality and discourage individual achievement through social "bread & circuses" programs, the faster the empire slipped from their fingers.

So many people today point to Christianity as though Christ's church were the root of all evil in the world. They point to the thousands of denominations as proof that God couldn't possibly exist for surely he wouldn't allow his church to be such a confusing rabble.

If Christianity is seen as nothing more than another power mad quasi-government created solely to control people, we have no one to blame but ourselves as Christians. We are constantly struggling to get everyone into one single church, to believe exactly as we do and to obey the same church authority. We have fallen prey to the notion that simplification of our religious institutions will somehow make them stronger and more stable. If there was only one denomination, the thinking goes, everything would be as it should be.

Quite the opposite is true. In no other country of the world has true Christianity taken hold so strongly as in the United States. Why? Because this country was founded on the principle of religious freedom. As a result faiths of every stripe have thrived in peace here and, if not always in harmony, then with at least with a modicum of polite tolerance.

Why do you suppose the Middle East is in such a turmoil? A single monolithic faith has rooted itself there and adopted the principle that because it is the "one true faith" all other religions must be surpressed. The fruit of this "simplification" process has not resulted in a single harmonious congregation of Muslims, but has created inevitable striving for power amongst violent sects, each seeking to wipe each other out and take their rightful place as the "one true way" to Allah.

Our problem as persons of faith, no matter of what ilk, is that we fall prey to the Satanic lie that we can and should "control" human systems. But like nature, human systems thrive on complexity. The more complex and less top-heavy a society becomes, the more stable it becomes. If we are all so utterly inter-connected that no one can afford to go to war against his neighbor because he will hurt himself, then war will cease. It becomes no longer profitable. It would be unthinkable to go to war against Canada or even Mexico any more because North America is such an entertwined economic system that any such war would hurt the attacker as much as it would the attacked.

After the war of 1812, America and Britain became such powerful trading partners that war between us became unthinkable. It was barely possible in 1812. The American Civil War taught us the folly of attacking yourself and set the United States back a half century before it recovered and began to take its place on the world stage. After World War II, American business became so entwined with Japanese business that war with them is now unthinkable. It would hurt us both severely. The Chinese are pretty much there with us now.

I believe God permits his children to create so many denominations of churches because his people begin their journey toward heaven from so many different places. By having so many routes to salvation available, God sweeps up the maximum possible number of his lost children.

Our problem is that we don't trust Him to be able to save us. We think we need to make everything uniform so that all of us know exactly how to execute our Christian walk. How is it we give lip service to the idea that it is Jesus who saves us and then we fight so bitterly among ourselves about how we ought to go about saving ourselves by having the "right" religion. Having faith means letting things get out of our control and into His.

The complexity of Christianity parallels that of nature. The more complex the structure of what C.S. Lewis called "The Church Triumphant", the more stable Christianity becomes. What other religious persuasion offers so many variants of itself to its adherants? If you believe a church is a hospital for sinners rather than a museum for saints, you could view church denominations as a variety of clinics, hospitals and aid stations scattered across the face of the Earth. And because there are so many kinds of places to go to for help, no matter what your need, God seems to have a place for you to go to get that need met.

No other religion is quite as resilient as Christianity and none is quite as complex. This fact reassures me that the same God who created the natural world is the same one behind the "Church Triumphant" as glorious and as terrible as an army with banners....

Just one man's opinion.

Tom King

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Firing Squad as a Political Metaphor

There was a book once called "Droodles". It consisted of a series of off perspective line drawings that were difficult to identify - a combination of a doodle and a riddle - therfore, A DROODLE!

You tried to guess what they were. I remember this was one of them....

It's a bear climbing up a tree as seen from the other side...

A bunch of us in college used to do them as an intellectual exercise. One of my favorite is this one. In the original it was an "Aggie" firing squad (Texas version of the blonde joke). I like this title better - An Aerial view of a Congressional Firing Squad.
The way the presidential race is going, it could be a presidential campaign firing squad.

This one is a church or nonprofit firing squad..

If you've ever sat on a church or nonprofit board, you understand this one.

This one's an environmentalist firing squad....
A firing squad as done by Academia...

...A United Nations Firing Squad (the ones in the blue helmets)

Finally, a firing squad as done by the US military!!!

Now that's what I call "point & shoot".

Simple, goal-directed, effective!

Just one man's opinion...

Tom King

P.S. Somebody asked me what a Texas Firing Squad would look like.

Something like this......

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Monday, November 05, 2007

America the Inarticulate

Public school teachers face a tremendous challenge. They face, not only unruly kids, but also parents with lawyers on retainer who firmly believe little Beevus can do no wrong.

It takes courage to teach. When faced with an unruly class, you pick out the ringleader (there's always one) and you remove him fast and hard. Then you ask, "Anybody else?" Send as many as necessary to the principal till the class settles. Thank those who stayed out of the fray and thereby helped you do your job and THEN get busy and teach something; something besides this vapid, politically correct treacle we've been spoon feeding our young-uns for the past 30 years. Teach them from the classics. Make them learn hard words. NEVER ACCEPT A WRITING ASSIGNMENT THAT IS INCOHERENT! Make them rewrite it until it makes sense.

It can be done. One of the biggest problems I see in American classrooms is that teachers will accept incoherent writing and give it a passing grade. Kids are not learning how to organize their thoughts and use words so they make sense. If you don't know how to express yourself, how in the world can you be expected to think for yourself.

I see student work that looks like someone poured words out of a dictionary onto a page and the teacher seemed to be grading by how many remotely relevant words they accidentally put into the thing. If we accept gobbledy-gook writing from kids on the assumption that this is the best they can do, then we doom them to a life of ignorance.

If you can't form clear thoughts, you can't think them. Our minds are the sum total of what we put into them and if we let kids dribble vague disjointed bits of rap music, MTV segments, video games and Anime' into their skulls willy nilly and never make them sort out all that junk and make something intelligible out of it, our kids will gradually lose the ability to think. This is frightening. How will they ever understand how to listen to political or religious speech and be able to make a rational decision based on what they hear and read?

What we need are better English teachers.
Unfortunately, teachers of English are a disrespected profession and it's no wonder. I asked my granddaughter what a sentence meant that she had written in an essay. She took two or three stabs at it and finally, after I made her lose the $50 words, she was able to do so. But she argued with me that her teacher wouldn't give her a good grade unless she used the big words.

It took me a while to shake that belief, but after working her through three or four essays that made top grades despite not having the bizarrely used big words in them, she realized she could write more like she talked and get better grades. The teacher was shocked. Her papers stood out from the pack because they were actually readable.

When did teachers surrender to mediocrity? When did they decide our kids were stupid and feeble and resolve to accept that standard of behavior? It's a pain to have to ride the little darlings, but somebody better do it or we're going to have nothing left but citizens who wander around with a vacant stare, an I-Pod in their ears and drooling on themselves.

I maintain a web page on another forum called the Banjo Hangout. I've noticed there is a high level of intelligent writing on the BHO. Apparently, people who are articulate are drawn to the banjo as a musical instrument; either that or playing the banjo makes you brighter. I've been to the guitar forums. The level of clarity of thought is not the same. Here, banjo players are bright, funny, articulate and quite fascinating to read.

Perhaps that's the solution. Let's introduce all our kids to the banjo at a very young age. I say we start them in 3rd grade or so - get 'em before they are corrupted.

Let's save America. Bring out the banjos!!!!!!

Just one man's opinion....

Tom King

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Broken Compass

Phillip Pullman is the answer to liberal atheist's prayers (if they actually ever prayed). Pullman is the author of the Northern Lights trilogy of children's books which is soon to be released as a controversial new children's movie starring Nicole Kidman and Dakota Blue Richards.

Series author, Pullman's books have been lauded as one of the ten most influential children's books of the past century by the Carnegie Medal people and roundly condemned as anti-Christian by Catholic and Protestant groups.

Now, I've got some problems with dogmatic Christianity myself - the once all-powerful "Church" that used to dictate behavior belief and which and as Pullman claims, takes all the joy out of life. I agree with much of Pullman's cricicism of the political Christian church and understand the man's anger.

Unfortunately, Mr. Pullman takes out his anger not only against fallible, often corrupt human religious institutions, but also directs his vitriole against God, who, by the way, never okayed the establishment of instutions filled with greed, corruption and pederasty in the first place

Angry liberal atheists seem to forget that God has some particularly harsh things to say about people who do evil acts in His name. Pullman hates the Narnia Chronicles and though he denies writing his own series as an antithesis to The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, he casts his anti-religion world with many of C.S. Lewis' storytelling devices and symbols.

I get tired of people who are angry at phoney religious people and take it out on God and ridicule His children as at best fools and at worst corrupt exploiters of their fellow humans.

I will not see "The Golden Compass" and after J.K. Rowlings announcement that Dumbledore is gay, I'm pretty much through with the Harry Potter series too. It's a nice thing about living in a world dominated by people who believe a person has a free choice (a distinctly Christian concept by the way). You don't have to spend money on something you don't like.

I bet the "Golden Compass" doesn't earn enough to clear their expenses, much less become a successful trilogy of movies.

Sorry, Phil. Biting the hand is a dangerous business. I'm willing to bet a lot of parents will have problem with a children's story where the kids knock off God at the end. They might even decide (gasp) not to buy the books.

Just one man's opinion

Tom King