3 videos that cheered me up

and this:



scattered thoughts from today

Faith is very very fragile. It is an easy thing to lose. Core beliefs, a network of intertwined meanings we tell ourselves, a habit of talking to a person we cannot hear back. It is a mental framework that can unravel.

I have spent a significant portion of the past twelve years knitting and reknotting my threads, determined and afraid by turns. Desire may make a dear thing seem true, but fear will make a darker thing seem truer still. And on it goes.

But here is the thing: faith may be fragile but God is not. He will come suddenly, and directly to your front door the minute you give him the keys. it’s just that I don’t want to give him the keys. because I’m afraid he’ll be what they say he is: demanding and stern and terrible. He will come and be nothing like what I want him to be. He is an ancient God after all, who was long before the declaration of independence was written, or the U.N. was formed, or romantic-love-marriage a thing. He may not see eye to eye with my ways.

Or I’ll obey and turn out like Ezekiel, naked and bereaved and burning excrement in town squares, while normal respected decent folk stare on.

Or worse still, I’ll obey and turn out to live out my days in a boring life of rote obedience. I’ll end up in an empty, cheap apartment growing old alone. No children, no epic love story, no successful career or meaningful achievement like a ballad or videogame or school created, to put meaning into this world with my own hands.

It is all silliness really.  All the fear and resistance, like an adolescent that doesn’t want to leave home but resents it all the same.

I do not need to be afraid. I just need to make up my mind. I should be direct with him, no frills, plain like a blunt old-fashioned suitor who asks in the parlor “will you have me or no?”

God, will I have you or no? And yes, I’ll have you. And here’s the keys, to every single closet. there are some dusty trophies in there, and those magazine clippings from high school, of American soldiers raising flags and giving kids candy bars. And that drawing of Tinuviel I made with her flowing hair, and that photo I downloaded of the princess knighting the knight, and the family photos, a pocket edition of the  declaration of independence, that 8th grade civil war romance novel where the guy gives up all and follows his conscience but wins the rebel girl anyways, also the hyperidealistic scrawlings in that notebook I wrote kneeling behind the shed in sixth grade about George Washington’s soldiers barefoot in the snow, and African missionaries facing down wild elephants and saving heathens. And the casette of Thomas Tallis I taped from the public library copy. That’s about it I guess. Be gentle with them God. The paper is all fraying now, and torn on the edges, sticky with stubs of yellowed scotch tape, from the days when I used to display this stuff on the walls. You know how I felt about the stuff in that file cabinet as a kid. But it is yours now. You can take it and do with it what you want.

Here goes nothing. Because after all, it always really was just you and me. Just you and me.

This is the burden

Literally, this summer, I keep running into Ecclesiastes 3:9-15. I have gone to different churches in different denominations and in different continents (!) and the pastors have preached on it. Then I move in to a new apartment, my housemate has her bible open on the table, I glance at it–and it’s that passage again. There was a fifth incident too, though I can’t remember it now.

So I am guessing that this is not just a coincidence. I need to find out what God is trying to tell me. I’ve combined several different translations below, as the Hebrew words have multiple meanings:

What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? I have seen the burden which God has laid upon the sons of men:  He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

It goes on:

I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.

Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work. I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?

Furthermore, I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is wickedness. I said to myself, “God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man,” for a time for every matter and for every deed is there. I said to myself concerning the sons of men, “God has surely tested them in order for them to see that they are but beasts.” For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth? I have seen that nothing is better than that man should be happy in his activities, for that is his lot. For who will bring him to see what will occur after him?

The word translated “vanity”, is related to the world “wind”, “breath”, and “spirit”. Rather than “all is vanity”, perhaps it means “all is spirit” and “all is wind”. God gave us all our breath. We can fall into his whirlwind, and we can trust he won’t erase us, and all that is good in this world.


Things that made me laugh

These made me laugh. It’s mainly evangelicals making fun of themselves, so depending on your background you might not get the humor. But it’s pretty spot on.











Ok…and these are just evangelicals making fun of how we are treated:






Ok, this one is just making fun of progressives, but it is too funny not to repost: http://babylonbee.com/news/progressive-enough-get-offended-5-random-pictures/

This is baptists making fun of calvinists, but it’s great. http://babylonbee.com/news/infant-delivers-moving-testimony-baptism/

All Tribalism is Bad (even the “corrective” kind)

For God’s sake,

  1. It is not only OK, but a wonderful, wonderful thing to love your own. Don’t feel guilty about it. Loving your kindred is the basis for all other goodness.

For example, loving your own sister and your own grandmother and your own son, is the reason that you can treat any woman or old person or adolescent male with kindness. It is only through the personal, kindred-centered love of “your own kind” that you learn any love at all and have any love at all to give to “humanity” as a whole or a construct. (And close friendship is an extension of kindred–because even there, it is about “your own” in some sense–there is something you share and identify with that makes you close, be it a lease or a TV show or an outlook on life. ) So yes, love your own, and don’t be ashamed of it. There is nothing sinister in loving people who think like you, who’ve been through the same things as you, who love the same things as you, or who look like you. If “racism” means loving your own, then we are all racists. My parents might be from two completely different kindreds genetically (“race yellow” and “race white”) but they fell in love because they were both from same “race” that is Calvinist-Missionary-Evangelical-Idealists. That is a kindred in itself. People don’t cross boundaries, they just modulate into a different kindred plane (because we all have several we belong to), and what is often vaunted as going outside a boundary is really just staying comfortably inside another. Honestly, we all group ourselves into our “own”, be it culturally, ethnically, religiously, socio-economically, or (sometimes) genetically. And most of what is being defined as genetic racism today is actually from one of the first four categories. So you won’t fix the current mess by hammering away at the last one, as it is not the cause but the symptom.

So yes, I think a great deal of the current destructive cycles that Americans are spiralling into right now could be avoided if we all stopped for a moment and realized that there is nothing shameful about loving your own. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be defensive. Don’t be upset. It’s OK. Honestly, it is a good thing. It is the basis for decency to anyone or anything else.

Loving your own kindred is not a crime. It is the first and fundamental act of goodness.

With that established, next point.

2. But for God’s sake, that doesn’t mean, in order to love your own, or defend your own, you have to blame/attack anyone else. Almost everyone is doing this right now. I blame the meta-message of marxism that infected identity politics and produced identitarians, but it might just be rooted in human nature and go far deeper. But look here, contrary to popular belief, loving your own kindred does not mean hating on everyone else’s kindred.

That would be tribalism. That is where “I love my grandma, but I can kill yours.” Where there is not universal morality for all human beings. It is survival of the fittest mode, when humans compete over limited resources via wiping out other tribes. A thousand years ago this was called tribalism, a hundred years ago this was called ‘eugenics’ as it is the logical outcome of Darwinist ‘survival of the fittest’ theories, then fifty years ago it was called genocide. In a milder form, it is sometimes called racism.

But we are all one human family. No group is innately more worthy. No group is the innately more contemptible. And for God’s sake, none of us a are a super-race. And none of us is the demon-race either.

We are all God’s sinning children. No more, and no less. The same rules apply to us all. The same standards apply to us all. Let’s just quit this identity-politics arms-race. Because that will lead us back to things our grandfathers and great-grandfathers had to fight wars to stop.

“Vile”, “Disgusting”, “Foul”, “Despicable”

I think it would be better if we all stopped using these words as moral qualifiers. We need to stop using these words, and we need to stop projecting these emotions.

We shouldn’t even use them for Stalin.

Two reasons.

(1) It is incredibly over-used in our current political debate, and it is to the point that these words mean nothing to the opposition, and only work up your own side. And raging frenzy is just the trick for preserving civilization, integrity, and humanity. Seriously though, these words are cheap now. It’s been a massive inflation of terms, and the currency means nothing.

(2) These words, in our current political climate, designate a universe whose moral center is located in emotions of revulsion. According to this metric, it is in the act of loathing itself that we know wrong and hence right. See:

#1 “This is bad because its DISGUSTING and I feel SICK when I think about what those DESPICABLE thugs did!”


#2 “This murder is evil because it is wrong. It is evil to attack and kill another human being. Every human life is sacred. Unless a person is actively trying to kill and you have no other way to stop them, or they are an armed combatant in a war with you, you have absolutely no excuse to use deadly force. It’s murder. It’s wrong.”

Revulsion is a natural human emotion that something is wrong, but it is a symptom, not the cause itself. The problem with  #1 approach is that it locates the compass of human behavior, discerning right from wrong, in the subjective negative emotional reactions of the individual. Something becomes “more bad” BECAUSE I happen to feel more nausea or indignant rage about it.

But look where this leads —  I need to be in a constant state of rage to maintain my moral system. I need to be feeling the disgust to “prove” (or worse, “make”) rape and murder and genocide “wrong”. I remember hearing an anti-rape testimony that emphasized the physical repulsiveness of the rapist. It troubled me, because it seemed that in this attempt to stir up feelings of revulsion in the listeners, the meta-message was that our revulsion was needed in order to make the act bad. As if the victim’s nausea was necessary for it to be a violation.  As if, if we weren’t worked up, it wouldn’t still be evil. As if the evil of an act was only predicated on our relative upsetness.

Not only does this lead to a need to maintain a constant state of outraged frenzy, but — worst of all — it means that if ‘the other side’ can just be more disgusted/frenzied/angry than your side, then they are “right”.

Consequently, the disgust-rage-frenzy-contest begins. The competing tribes are now all out to prove that they can be feel more indignant RAGE than the other side can. Going down that path will lead to places darker than either side realizes. Humans have self-destructed in the subjective tribalism mode countless times in history.  It is an ancient and well-worn path, and it leads down to a place you do not want to go.

We should go back to words that imply a universal moral center. A compass for human behavior located in universal principles of right and wrong, good and evil.

For example, it is evil to take a human life because they are a human being whose life is sacred (i.e. objective good) rather than because I happen to feel more disgusted and indignant (i.e. subjective negative emotion).

Stalin was wrong because he rounded up human beings, and took their lives wholesale, for the sake of his future utopia.  It doesn’t matter if we feel he was “disgusting” or not. It doesn’t matter how we feel about the people he did this to. It doesn’t matter if his utopia goals could have been achieved or not. It doesn’t matter what label we put on him.

It was just wrong. Absolutely wrong, on a universal compass. It was wrong because every human life is sacred.

Also, for the love of God and all things good, remember we are all Americans. Do not give up on America. Don’t get angry and say “things couldn’t be worse.” This is not the time to be “raging against the dying of the light.” We have so much to be proud of, and we have so much to lose. And rage only begets rage, and attack begets counter-attack. If we take the path of rage, we shall self-destruct like so many other decent nations have before us. We have a priceless heritage, where blood doesn’t run in the streets, and people can say whatever they want without fear of their lives. This is a dear and precious freedom, incredibly fleeting on a global/historical scale.

America matters too much, and is too precious, to lose.


The Babylonian captivity was 70 years long, according to the scriptures.

When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,
            We were like men who dreamed.

      Our mouths were filled with laughter
            And our tongues with songs of joy.
            Then they said among the nations,
            “The LORD has done great things for them.”

      The LORD has done great things for us;
            We are glad.

      Restore our captivity, O LORD
            As the streams in the Southern Desert.

      For those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy.

And he who goes out weeping, carrying his seed to sow,
            Shall indeed return with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

War with North Korea?

I remember as a young teen, the massive amount of giddy joy I felt over George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech.


What made me giddy with hope was that Bush named North Korea as part of that axis of evil. I heard that others had balked at his “hawkish” and “over the top” language, but I just figured they were just too selfish to understand the suffering outside of the First World. They said how terrifying it was that Bush might start wars, but that only filled me with hope. Because that was exactly what I hoped and prayed for. There was no other way to save North Korea, so it had to be war. I thought that first we’d save Iraq from Saddam Hussein, then we’d save Iran from their Inquisitors, and then finally we’d get to the really important one — North Korea.

They’d finally be free. We could rebuild the country.

So I impatiently waited the victory of the GWOT in the middle east, so we could move on to North Korea.

Back in those heady days of the 2000’s, I thought it would be a matter of a few years at most.

Of course it never panned out that way. We never did finish fixing Iraq. Then America boo’d out Bush and his successor Obama pulled out of Iraq to let it collapse in flames. Hand-wringing and much talking ensued. Iran nuclearized. And we never did get to North Korea. American politics got increasingly more isolationist on both left and right, and I gave up that dream.

And now… this. From President Trump, no less.

Screenshot (462)

The elites and the left are yelling about how stupid Trump is for fiercely blustering with the fiercely blustering Kim family. This will make it worse, they say. The right says nope, the only solution is to make them back down by playing their own game.

Who knows who is correct about this one. I guess it depends if you think things are solved with soothing psychology (bob you are a nice guy! i know how traumatic your childhood was! put down that gun if you like! we are your friends! yeah you are the BEST!) or cowboy faceoffs (yes bob, you go ahead and just make my day: threaten me again and i’ll shoot you deader than a doornail). If you don’t understand the latter, watch this scene to see how it works. Only time will tell whose method was right. Perhaps there is no right method, and both methods will end only in flames.

Everyone is freaking out about nuclear war again. But it’s all about (as usual) how bad ‘war’ is in the abstract, or our own national interest. Everyone thinks they are so much smarter with a simple solution. And it seems as if everyone is forgetting about the most important thing: the North Korean people.

They have suffered more than hell. They have been starved and raped and brainwashed and tortured and experimented on and abused beyond all human suffering for 69 years. Sixty-nine years while the world looked on and did nothing. Even the Holocaust was was over in under a decade.

Why is no one talking about the North Korean people? Even the peaceniks seem to have forgotten their suffering. They seem to think being nice to Kim is an act of nobility on their part–as if you sharing your barbecue with your scary neighbor is the right and kindly thing to do, as you overlook the small fact that he keeps girls chained up in his basement.

On the other hand…if the war ends with everyone dead–as it well may be, with the entire North Korean country basically a rigged bunker with a brainwashed population–then what?

If we fight this war, and the population of North Korea is wiped out in a nuclear bonfire, then it will be the saddest tragedy in the entire history of humankind.

But if we fight this war, and the population of North Korea is saved….

Oh God. Oh God, Oh God. It will be the most wonderful… I can’t even think about it too much because it makes my heart contract in pain to think of something that so desperately must be, but may not happen. Hope hurts so much.

So I hold my breath and hope. May there be war, and may the people live. Amen.

Do watch this  2008 movie if you haven’t already. It has english subtitles and it is a muted look at it all.

It will be, after all, 70 years. May God give them their 70th year as a year of jubilee, the year of liberation.

When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,
            We were like men who dreamed.

      Our mouths were filled with laughter
            And our tongues with songs of joy.
            Then they said among the nations,
            “The LORD has done great things for them.”

      The LORD has done great things for us;
            We are glad.

      Restore our captivity, O LORD
            As the streams in the Southern Desert.

      For those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy.

And he who goes out weeping, carrying his seed to sow,
            Shall indeed return with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.