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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Give a Man a Fish - An Ichtheological* Retrospective

Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day.

Give him a religion, and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish. - Timothy Jones

Found this cynical little quotation in my morning e-mail. I do love how people who don't go to church have such pithy things to say about people who do. I looked up Timothy Jones and found several including three liberal and one Republican politician, several athletes (cyclists, cricketers, baseball players, hockey pucks and the like). None listed any religious affiliation in his personal credits.

This is, of course, a takeoff on the "Give a man a fish and you'll feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you'll feed him for a lifetime." homely that conservatives like to use as their killer argument against no-strings welfare programs. Lots of folks claim to have said it first. The Chinese Taoist philosopher, Lao-Tzu (an early conservative politician) is one of the earliest. The English (of course) claim it as one of their proverbs, though I suspect they quit using it back in the 50s when the labor government started pushing government sponsored British health care. The Germans love this one, only it ends, "Teach a man to work in ze cannery and he vill be a useful member of society for ze rest uff his life."

There have been lots of humorous takeoffs on this sayings and I'm going to finish this on a light note (I promise).  But first let me do my own take on this particular tiring swipe at people of faith.

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Give a man religion and He will find a way to feed fish to 5,000."

At least that's been my experience with Christians and fishes. Folk like Mr. Jones would like to think persons of faith are dupes and tools of "the establishment". This helps them avoid feeling guilty about skipping weekly services. It's odd then, that so many of them are devoted to building up a massive government that has all the trappings of a religion including idol worship (see Barak Obama), repetitive chanting ("Hope and Change, Hope and Change...), tithing (see IRS, property tax, capital gains tax, and sales tax) and obligatory attendance at religious functions (see Social Security office, The Iowa Caucus, the DMV and the State of the Union Address).  Ah, well. I've always though that religion and politics were virtually indistinguishable anyway.

Now on to the fun stuff.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.....

  •  Teach a Democrat to fish and he'll create a government-funded sport fishing study to figure out how to tax you for fishing. 
  • Teach a man to fish and you can sell him a fishing license, rod, tackle, boat, boat trailer, bigger pickup with a towing package, expensive lures, a sonar rig, subscription to "Bass Masters"....
  • Teach a man to fish and he starts skipping church and sitting in a boat all day drinking beer.
  • Teach a man to fish and he's got a one in seven chance of getting drunk, falling out of his boat and drowninng.
  • Teach a man to play fishing games on X-Box and he won't bother you for weeks!
  • Teach a man to fish and you can get rid of him for a whole weekend.
  • Teach a man to fish; and you will have to listen to the same danged fish stories over and over and over for the rest of your life unless someone accidentally laces his coffee thermos with antifreeze.
  • Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Unless he doesn't like sushi - then you also gonna have to teach him to cook.
  • Give him fish aversion therapy, and he stops pestering you to give him your fish.
  • Give a woman a fishing boat for mother's day and you'll be sleeping on the couch again and she probably won't let you use HER boat.
  • Teach a man to phish, and he'll clean out your bank account.
  • Teach a man to fish and somewhere some woman is inevitably going to have to learn how to clean and gut that fish and fry enough for him and his 10 buddies and their families all the while listening to stories about the one that got away.
  • Teach a man to fish and he will store stink bait, worms and minnows in your fridge.
  • Teach a liberal chick to fish and you'll have to listen to her go on and on about how it's such a cruel sport and you'll have to explain that fish don't have nerves in their lips for about the thousandth time.
  • Teach a woman to fish and you'll soon be riding around in a much cleaner boat.
  • Teach a dog to fish and you can win the $10,000 prize on America's Funniest Home Videos (but only if the dog hooks you in the crotch with a fishing lure).
  • Teach an atheist to fish and maybe you won't have to listen to him bitch about religion all the time cause he'll be too busy bitching that he can't seem to catch any fish.
Got to go. The salmon are running in the Puyallup River and I'm stocking up pink salmon fillets for the winter.

Tom King - Puyallup, Washington
*Yes, I meant to spell it that way - Ickthus (Greek: pertaining to fish) plus theological (Latin: "pertaining to religion")

Monday, August 29, 2011

Barbecue Sauce Threatens Washington, DC

-
DATELINE: (Washington, DC)

In the wake of Hurricane Irene and a major earthquake, the nation's capitol is being threatened with a new disaster - a flood of barbecue sauce. In the wake of Texas Governor Rick Perry's announcement of his candidacy for the presidency, Washington eateries are digging out their barbecue recipes in anticipation of the flood of conservatives and Texans that will descend on the city along with the new administration.

Washingtonians are bracing for a flood of new Tex-Mex restaurants and a spate of new barbecue selections on the menus of their favorite gourmet snobatoriums, displacing many of their favorite quiche and sprout-laced dishes on those tiny little gourmet menus. Some restauranteurs have resorted to providing alternate "barbecue-free" menus to appease angry liberals that make up their regular clientele.


OKAY, SERIOUSLY....

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I'd vote for Perry just to irritate the Washington liberals. Every time there's a Texan like the Bushes, Lyndon Johnson or Ronald Reagan in the White House (Reagan was the only "Texan" I ever knew that lived in California), the local restaurants add barbecue and Tex-Mex dishes to their menus. For some reason this really irritates the black trench-coated intelligencia that permanently reside in our nation's capitol. I think it's because the Texas-flavored fare replaces some kind of squid or sprouts on the menu, I don't know. The anti-barbecue rant was a complaint I heard frequently on both my visits there during the Bush II administration.

I ordered some barbecue at lunch one day, just to send my lib colleagues over the edge. It was kinda fun to watch! Those ladies get really cranky when things ain't goin' their way. The barbecue wasn't bad either, though the Hunt's barbecue sauce over hamburger at one place was a bit on the lame side. Did these people never hear of "Bull's-Eye". Sheesh!

I do have to give them credit, though. The Washington chefs do get better at it after about 6 or 7 years of a Texas-style Republican administration. I mean some of those fellers ain't bad with a spatula, if they can resist the urge to put parsley and endives on everything.

And what's up with dribbling that brown gravy stuff on everything? There's not enough of it to tell what it tastes like and they don't give you any biscuits to sop it up with.

Tom King - (recently of Tyler, TX, now transplanted to the mission fields of Washington* state)

* I do have to admit it's kinda interesting living next door to a volcano in the only state named after a US president. After all, George Washington originally came from East Texas. We know this because of the whiskey stills out behind his barns at Mt. Vernon.

(c) 2011 by Tom King

Friday, August 26, 2011

Newsbreak: Ron Paul Receives Major Party Endorsement

Disassociated Press
Official News Release

DATELINE: August 25,2011, Luckenbach, TX

- For Immediate Release –

Ron Paul Wins Texas Pot Party Endorsement


William Nelson, Spokesman
 Following a recent spate of cannabis-fueled blog reports that Ron Paul has been gaining ground in the presidential race, members of the newly re-organized “Texas Pot Party”, today, officially endorsed the Texas Congressman’s bid for the presidency. At a press conference at its headquarters in Luckenbach, Texas, spokesman for the party, music industry icon William Nelson, donned a red, white and blue tie for the first time in 32 years to make the official announcement.

The event, held in the pool room at the Luckenbach Bar and Grill, was the first ever “Get Out the Vote: political rally in the organization’s 34 year history. Nelson opened the ceremonies with about 30 minutes of music while reporters grazed the brownies at the buffet and sampled the open bar. Once the hooka fumes had thickened sufficiently, Wilson (or Nelson, or, uh, Billy Bob..............whoever the heck he is, I can’t remember), made the official announcement.

“Ron Paul is really the only candidate who makes sense after 4 or 5 joints,” said Mr. Nelson. “And the beauty of his candidacy is that the more stoned you are, the better his chances look.”

Increasingly woozy reporters asked few questions at the press conference, although MSNBCs Ed Schulz demanded that Willie, “…tell ush where da resh roooooooms went to,” and accused party organizers of “hidin’ the ding-busted thang!)

CURRENT TV commentator Keith Olbermann followed up Schulz’s harsh line of questioning with the observation that he’d “…sheen a resh rooooooom around h’yar somewhere old Buckaroooozy!”

Dr. Paul wasn’t present for the announcement today, citing some concerns as to whether or not the free reefers being offered at the hospitality buffet were, in fact, medicinal marijuana and had been properly procured from American growers. Paul even offered to bring his prescription pad if party organizers could document the source of the giggle weed and the ghangha-laced brownies provided as refreshments at the press gathering.

“Don’t get me wrong. I do appreciate and welcome the party’s endorsement,” said the Texas congressman, “As I share the party’s concern over many issues including the legalization of drugs, the institution of a myopic foreign policy and the establishment of safer methods of extracting one’s head from places without access to abundant heliotropic radiation.”

In related news, reporter Martin Bashir and news publisher Ariana Huffington were married just moments ago in an impromptu ceremony at the Luckenbach Dance Hall. The Bride wore a charming burlap gown to match the Western-theme of the event. Bashir, wearing only ostrich boots and a rodeo belt with strategically placed buckle, wore a lasso for a necktie which Ms. Huffington held by the free end throughout the ceremony, applying sharp tugs whenever it was Bashir’s turn to speak.

Ms. Huffington explained the surprise union, saying, “He has a cute accent just like me.” Bashir will change his name to Bashir-Huffington, but is being allowed to retain his post at MSNBC. Ron Paul could not be reached for comment on the developing story.

(c) 2011 by Tom King*

* Please note to Ron Paul supporters who jumped over here to read this with hearts a-palpatatin'.  I'm truly sorry to have to explain this to you (but I have to anyway, just so I don't get into legal trouble for jerking around people with impaired mental function).  The above story is SATIRE. Not a word of it is true. Ron Paul hasn't a snowball's chance in Hades of becoming president and Willie Nelson isn't affiliated with any Texas Pot Party that I know of despite the rumors.

No such party exists in the state of Texas (at least not for purely political purposes) to my knowledge. I had to change the name of the fictional pot party several times (apparently you can organize a political party for any danged thing you want to and my first choice names were already taken by various California and Austin, Texas area groups - Austin being where we store most of the state's liberals so we'll know what they're up to). First it was the 'Pot Party', but there is already one of those. The Marijuana Party was just too obvious and doesn't have much of a ring to it. The Dopey Party seemed too offensive to Disney characters and mentally-challenged college students. There is an actual "Texas TeaPot Party" that was organized to support Willie Nelson after he got busted for cannabis possession at one of his big Fourth of July Parties. I finally settled on the "Texas Pot Party" which, at least has no presence on the Internet that I can tell.

Mr Paul and Mr. Nelson, themselves are considered public figures and open to ridicule, satirization and subjection to bad jokes under U.S. slander and libel laws. Nelson's image was listed as public domain on one of the pot-related sites I borrowed it from, so I'm sure there are no legal problems with me using the picture..

I have no money and a cousin Wally who's a lawyer and owes me a favor after I caught him flirting with that waitress over at the new Waffle House (Marybeth has already warned him once about that). Anyway, there's not much good in suing me. I'll just take this down and replace it with something serious about Ron Paul supporters having no sense of humor. Considering the nasty jokes some of them have posted about my favorite candidates, I figure ya'll owe me one shot at your guy anyway.

I don't even have that many readers so hacking me is basically pointless. Who's going to know? That said, have a nice day and try to stick to the stuff WITHOUT formaldehyde in it. That stuff'll make you blind according to my Great Uncle J.D. who used to operate a medical marijuana outlet from the back of his gas station back in the 60s. He was way ahead of his time was my uncle JD.

Tom





















I've Learned a New Word!

1982 lahar in Galunggung, India.
The Word of the Day is "Lahar".  It is an Indonesian word that they made up after a volcano covered up several thousand of their citizens with some stuff they didn't have a word for. I think it's the name of some nasty-tempered Sumerian god or something.

Anyway, it's a substance the consistency of wet concrete created by a volcanic eruption. What happens is a loose collection of volcanic dust and rock slides down the mountain. The snow piled on top of it melts suddenly and the rock, dust and snow-melt slurry scrape off underlying clay and make this stuff that flows down river valleys wiping out trees and buildings and anything in its path. When it hits a hill or a mountain it can't move, the lahar sets up like instant cement entombing people, animals and cars in a mud brick-like substance.

Basically a lahar is a muck avalanche capable of traveling 25 to 50 miles per hour. We now live 26 miles from the caldera of Mt. Ranier, and since there is little or no warning when it happens, we may or may not, depending on whether the acoustic sensors they put up on the mountain as a warning system actually work  (more than half failed the last time they tested the things), have about 10 to 15 minutes to get out of Puyallup before a 20 to 100 foot wave of mud the consistency of wet concrete and the remnants of forests, houses, bridges and light poles obliterates the town.

I have GOT to quit reading this stuff. I didn't go to bed till 2 am and by the time I did, I had two bugout bags assembled, had consulted the topographical maps to find the quickest way out of town and out of the path of previous lahars along the highest roads available.  I slept like a cat, ready to jump out of bed at the first siren.

So, it's a new house and I'm snoozing blissfully along at 6 am when my bride decides the sun is too bright, gets up and goes downstairs to make some toast and coffee.

Sometime halfway through the toast preparation process, the little crumbs knocked loose inside the toaster went up in tiny little flames setting off the fire alarm upstairs.

Now this new house has this hypersensitive fire alarm that not only sets itself off with a piercing shriek, but has this woman's voice that says "Fire" over and over in that voice that the computer on Star Trek used to use to announce that the Enterprise was going to blow up in 10 seconds....

The commotion woke me from a deep sleep featuring dreams about not being able to find my bugout bag and molten lava in the living room.

I hit the floor and was halfway downstairs when I realized that I was traveling at a speed that was beyond the rated speed limit of our carpeted staircase.

The dog, meanwhile, had been roused by my leaping from the bed screaming, "Lahar" (which rhymes with fire if you are from East Texas).  Halfway down the stairs she passed me going like a little black missile sweeping me along in her wake. The next thing I knew I hit the floor at the foot of the stairs and my ancient and decrepit knees buckled under me.

I woke up after an indeterminate nap on the carpet with the dog licking my face and my wife standing over me, hands on hips, complaining, "I was just making a piece of toast for heaven's sake!"

The fire alarm lady finally stopped shouting "Fire!" at us and everyone was able to go back to bed - everybody except my Sweet Baboo, who felt compelled to stay up and empty more moving boxes and to sweep, dust and mop stuff till she collapsed from exhaustion about 11 am.

We hid the toaster from her.

Like I said, I need to stop reading the Volcano Safety literature late at night.

Tom

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, Princess

The Princess & Me


Today is my darling daughter's birthday. I thought it fitting that on this day of days I should comment upon the relationship of fathers and daughters.

Mothers have long recognized that their daughters are, in fact, their greatest rivals for their husband's attention, assuming their hubbies are not complete, self-centered, philandering jerks, of course.

My wife once complained, "Meghan just can't do any thing wrong with you, can she? She's just your little princess!"

"Uh, yeah," I responded lamely, not at all getting her point. Fathers are kind of doofuses where their daughters are concerned. From the time they are born we become their instant protectors. It's not that we aren't also the protectors of their mothers. We are. Just watch how a bunch of men behave when a pregnant woman enters the room. They suddenly become all solicitous and treat her like she was a big raw egg in danger of being broken at any moment. It may be that when his wife is in need of protecting, it's one of the few times that men know exactly how to behave. By nature, I am a patient man, not prone to violence, but threaten my wife or daughter and I will readily take up arms to defend them.

If we dote on our daughters a bit, it's because they start out so tiny. When we meet our wives they are usually fully grown and quite independent and throughout our relationship with them, they readily remind us about just how independent they are. The bond between husbands and wives is, therefore, a union of equals.

Daughters, on the other hand, come to us tiny and helpless and cute and dependent. The bond that happens with daughters and fathers is something almost magical and that's saying a lot since I don't believe in magic. That bond is permanent and becomes the model for a father's relationship with his daughter for the rest of her life. It doesn't matter if your daughter is 65 years old, she's still your little girl and always will be. We can never quite let them grow up. I imagine if Sarah Palin were to become president of the United States, her Dad would feel exactly the same kind of pride he did when she brought home her first portrait of "Daddy" for the refrigerator art gallery. He'd also probably want to beat up a few dozen news commentators and an assortment of senators and congressmen for insulting his baby girl. It's just how fathers are wired up.

My daughter is one of the most competent people I know. Reminds me a lot of her Mom. It's tough being a bumbling sort of odd ball around two such formidable women and maintaining any semblance of dignity. Whatever they criticize me for, I probably deserve it. I know I can't hope to do anything as well as they do. So, I try to do the few things I know I'm relatively skilled at as well as I can - like lifting heavy boxes and squashing spiders and stuff. If I ever get to where I can't do that, I'm not sure what I'll do.


Good Dads set very high standards from the very beginning for how people should treat their daughters. It's why my daughter once complained when she was in eighth grade that all the boys at her school were afraid of me and my two sons. She felt like we were cramping her style most severely. We King males, however, felt like we were just protecting our little princess from evil-doers and nasty-minded boys. My two boys were enough older than she was that they also took a protective role, so the poor thing went through most of school with three large protectors lurking not so unobtrusively in the shadows ready to pounce.

One hapless young man said some impolite things to Meghan one day in eighth grade. Meghan blew him off. She had loads of self-confidence even then and did not tolerate fools. As the boy turned to walk away, he ran straight into my son, Micah's, chest. Micah was already 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed about 240 pounds. He caught the boy by the front of the shirt and lifted him clean off the ground.

As the young man hung from Micah's massive hands, his little feet dangling a good six inches off the floor, Micah got nose to nose with him. "We don't talk to my sister like that, do you understand?" he growled menacingly.  The boy went pale and croaked something unintelligible while nodding his head.  Micah set him back down on the floor and he scurried away. Micah didn't tell Meg about the incident for a long time. He did, however, tell me and his brother.


He got a high-five from the old man, I'm here to tell you.

So "Happy Birthday, Princess."  Dad's still got your back. Just let me know who you need me to take care of, okay.

Dad

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Information Nazis and the Great Controversy

by Tom King (c) 2011

One gains spiritual insight from places that may at first glance seem odd. “Information Weekly”, a journal for CIOs and data management people ran an editorial this week in their global-CIO segment called “The CIO vs. The Information Access Mafia” that I found enlightening.

Howard Anderson interviews Stu Laura, a Wall Street corporate Chief Information Officer (CIO) about his frustrations with his company's internal information wars. Laura's problem is that his company's staff is fighting a turf war over who has access to what information.

On the one hand, the company's product development people need broad access to information in order to get the “bonus” of coming up with creative ideas that cross boundaries. On the other hand, the data management people - Laura calls them “Information Nazis” - are concerned (to the level of paranoia sometimes) that the wrong people in the company may have access to sensitive data. As a result, the company's system of approving who has access to what data is so slow that, according to Laura, they “squash great ideas”.

This problem finds its parallel in government where big government/high control types want decision-making about who has access to information about services offered by or input into the governing process placed in the hands of a few insiders. This “nanny state” approach prevents the children from hurting themselves by keeping them away from things considered “dangerous” by those who know better.

Facing off against the progressive/socialists are small government/low control advocates who want a less restrictive environment, more freedom, and less regulation with strict punishment for those who abuse the privilege.

Laura's solution, ironically for a data management guy, steps outside the “computer problem” box and recognizes that the problem is a business management problem. He says, “The only thing that might work is if we let people escalate and then come down very hard on those who abuse the privilege.” In effect, he advocates less control on the top end and firm punishment for violating the trust shown people. This parallels the small government/lower regulation philosophy in the political arena.

At the same time there is a spiritual lesson to be drawn from the information wars. This high control vs. low control argument has gone on for a long time in the Judeo-Christian faith. Jesus, Himself, preached a brand of religion that freed people from the access-to-God Nazis in the Sanhedrin. It's why they felt they had to murder Him. All this freedom imperiled their control over the populace and the Scribes, Pharisees and Saducees could imagine all sorts of bad things happening to the poor people they felt charged with “protecting”.

The pattern was repeated in the Dark Ages and Medieval era when the Roman Catholic church restricted access to Scripture to clergy alone, on the grounds that “the people” needed protecting lest they misinterpret what Scripture said, especially on those issues that differed with official church doctrine or practice. Turns out they were right to fear open access by the people to God's Word for as soon as the Bible began to be printed in the common tongue, the Protestant Reformation swept the Christian world and the power of church authorities was diminished.

Again, after all that heady wave of religious freedom, many Protestant church heirarchies began to look for ways to hem in their congregations or to place church leadership between the people and the ultimate source of information, if you will. Having people reporting directly to God is always problematic for church bureaucrats because it limits their power and exposes them to severe consequences if they get caught exercising the “privileges of power” enjoyed by so many generations of powerful men and women in ages past.

All these conflicts are basically a single conflict. It was once called “The Great Controversy” by a 19th century religious writer in a book by that name. The controversy dates back to the beginning of creation when God decided to make man with the power of free will. This level of free will had, apparently, not been granted to any other creature in the history of the universe. Only one “prototype” creature with that in-built freedom of choice existed – the angelic choirmaster, Lucifer.

When God developed plans to create Man, he saw that it would be inevitable that any creature with total free will would, like Laura's creative staffers, abuse the privilege. To insure that His new creation would not self-destruct, God developed a plan that involved incredible sacrifice on His part. He willingly sacrificed Himself in the form of his Son because, evidently, God thought it was important that a creature like Man should exist in the universe.

Lucifer, knowing well the temptation to sin that comes with free will, seems to have decided that a more restrictive approach was in order. He probably guessed what sort of mischief men and women could get up to and decided it would be better to place restrictions on them in the first place to save them from themselves. Lucifer, the original “Information Nazi” apparently carried his disagreement over the nature of Man to the point of creating a “revolution” among the angels in support of his view. God finally had to kick him and his followers out of heaven to restore order.

Lucifer carried his war to the Earth, conducting a guerrila campaign to prove to God just how wrong God was. You can look down the history of this planet and see, time and again, governments set up following a restrictive, elite-governed model that purports to “protect” the people. In the end, these governments by the nobles, the commisars, the emperors and the upper classes inevitably abuse the very people they are sworn to protect.

God's model is basically a high freedom (we may sin if we choose), high access (we have a direct line to God) and strict punishment (loss of life for abusing the privileges) model. Myself, I believe that this dangerous model is essential if God is going to people the universe with creatures like himself in their ability to choose. I don't believe humans could create as prolifically as we do were our free will more restricted. It is that creativity that, I believe, is the “image” of God described in Genesis.

Television, radio, literature, art, movies andYoutube would not be nearly as interesting if we had all been made like Lucifer thought we should and all lived under Lucifer's idea of “good government”. God wanted sons and daughters, not “the workers” and “the masses”. I think God wanted children who are individuals, not cookie-cutter “congregations”. Can you explain all the varied denominations of Christianity any other way than as expressions of worship by individuals with different tastes, cultures and understandings of God's Word? Sure we have our differences, but each of us carries a piece of the truth and each of us is striving to reach the same place. One day, when at last we all come together on the Sea of Glass, I expect we will make one whale of a choir, each one of millions upon millions of unique people, bringing his or her own experience to the song to create a harmony like nothing we've ever experienced.

God wants us to be free and unique individuals. The everything-fair-and-the-same-for-all” approach simply doesn't produce human beings of sufficiently good quality that it would be safe for God to grant eternal life to them. Such people will be inconstant and indecisive, wandering from powerful leader to powerful leader, whichever catches their attention – a useful trait in people if you are one of the politburo or a member of the nobility or church heirarchy and wish to keep the troops in line (behind yourself, of course). Such people find it difficult to look beyond mortal leaders to communicate with God directly. Like the Children of Israel, they are slaves and beg for some powerful leader to stand between them and God. And once the leader goes up into the mountain, they choose another one, or carve one out of gold to tide them over. They have not the stuff to stand for the right alone, but must have the permission of the heard to make any decision. Such people sacrifice their true self for a delusion of safety in numbers.

Like I said, God wants sons and daughters, not slaves and concubines. In that respect, we are also like Him for do we not want sons and daughters, not butlers and maids? Isn't it difficult for us to see our kids suffer and learn hard lessons for themselves. Aren't we proud, though, when they do learn, grow and mature into amazing people? Do we not experience great joy in their triumphs and achievements?

And would we not die for them as well?

So when someone asks you “How could God let all these bad things happen?” recognize where this idea that people need to be protected from bad things comes from. It's not from heaven.

Me, I welcome the pain and trials of this life, because I believe that heaven is cheap enough at that price. When we seek to protect ourselves and others from all pain or the consequences of our own actions, we choose a path that leads downward to tyranny, stagnation and a bland and wasted life.

Albert Einstein once wondered why we couldn't figure out a way to make everyone happy. Einstein, brilliant though he was, thought of it as a “computer problem”. If we could figure out how people work, we should be able to program our world so that everyone would be content and cared for. But, life is not a computer problem. It's a self-management problem. You don't run a happy planet by knowing which buttons to push or how to design effective systems of government. You run a happy planet by filling it with good, happy people that have no interest in lording over their fellow men and women. You change the individuals, not the system. 

If you just like the computer analogy, think of it this way. If we allow God to clean up the corrupt coding in our software through our relationship with Him, He in turn gives us back ourselves free from the viruses, trojan horses and malware that once infected us. But cleaning us up alone does not solve the problem of how to make people happy or how to make a clean and ordered world. We have to choose for ourselves how to do that. Then we must roll up our sleeves and do our job. It's the job God gave us in the first place – to tend the Earth.

I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to getting to work in the garden.

Tom

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I've Landed in Washington Sure Enough

Well, we got the trailer loaded, unloaded, the truck loaded, driven 2400 miles, unloaded, loaded again, and unloaded - the first three times in 111 degree heat. I feel like I've been beaten up with bats by angry third basemen.

Lovely country up here, though, but did you know 80% of the people here don't have air-conditioning? I feel like I've come to the third world. I'm living in a $179,000 house with no AC. Coming from Texas, that makes me nervous.

I always said God would have to kick me out of Texas to make me move this far north. Apparently He has a sense of humor as He not only kicked me out, but burned down the place behind me....

It was 118 degrees in the Panhandle the day after I blew through with my truck load of junk - I mean, honestly, doesn't everyone's stuff look like crap when you load it into a truck or (worse) onto a trailer?
Only thing that makes me more nervous than the lack of AC in August is this thing looming over my backyard....(see below).

Yup, I got a volcano for a neighbor!  Nobody seems to worry about it much, but then neither did the folks in Pompeii. I fully expect the TV weather guy to go like "Now for the three day forecast. Tomorrow we can expect an unseasonable high for August of 78 degrees followed by a balmy 74 on Thursday followed by a crispy 3,000 degrees on Friday. Be sure you wear lots of sunblock this weekend and try not to step in the molten lava....."
Mount Ranier

Monday, August 01, 2011

On Philosophers and Magicians


C.S. Lewis, theologian, philosopher and writer








 I have a couple of friends who keep trying to lure me into a name-dropping philosophical debate. I suspect someone's just waded through a college philosophy course and is wondering what to do with all that stuff they just shoved into their brains. I resist the urge to play the "I can quote Kafka." game.

Now don't get me wrong. There are many philosophers and theologians (who are also members of that particular intellectual caste) whom I greatly admire. A friend of mine admires Kierkegaard, for instance, and I too find some of the things he writes very enlightening. There are theologians like Dietrich Bonhoffer, Martin Luther and C.S. Lewis whose work I find of vast benefit to the faithful and to me personally.  Reading Lewis' brilliant book "Mere Christianity", for instance, was one of those Gestalt "Aha" experiences for me. Unlike many lesser philosophers and theologians, Lewis makes things clearer rather than more complex.

I judge the value of philosophers and theologians by how clear they make things. In the world I find there are two types of practitioners of this ilk - I think of them as prophets and magicians. The prophets make the way forward clearer for their readers and skillfully direct their readers' attention toward something which is greater than themselves. Magicians, on the other hand, merely confuse, misdirect and show off their own dazzling vocabulary and intellectual prowess in order to draw attention to themselves and to gain the befuddled admiration of their readers.

Magicians are amusing to watch, but I can hardly take them seriously.

Tom King