Odds & Ends


For quite some time now, I have wanted to expand this blog from a one-man show to a team of like-minded bloggers.  My hope is that this will add more diversity to the blog, and engage more people on multiple levels. That is why I am pleased to announce that Chad Moore has agreed to team up with me as a contributing author at Theosophical Ruminations.

Chad is a lifelong Hoosier who was born and bred in Bloomington, IN with my wife, Tonya, and their three children. He is absolutely committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and wholeheartedly believes in the local church, having worked for a decade in youth ministry, and regularly serving as a teacher in his local church.

Chad earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University, and an M.Div. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. So by day, he is a software engineer and web developer, and by evening, he is an avid reader and theologian.  One of the remarkable things about Chad is his ability to translate the truths communicated in the ivory tower in a way that is relevant for the people in the pew.

Chad is not new to blogging. He has been blogging at What’s More for some time, and will continue to blog there as well as at Theosophical Ruminations. Check out his personal blog when you have a moment.

Everyone, please welcome Chad to Theosophical Ruminations!

BoredI’ve always said that if you are bored, you are not in the will of God. After all, if we are doing what we are supposed to do as Christians, we don’t have time to be bored. If someone says they are bored, ask them if they have prayed, read their Bible, talked to someone about Christ, helped the needy, visited the widows, etc.  I think we all know what the answer will be.

As I think about boredom, it’s not just that people are failing to do the activities they should be doing; it’s that people are filling their lives with the wrong kind of activities.  Their days are spent pursuing insignificant activities, entertainment, and self-fulfillment rather than living their lives for God and others.  They pursue meaningless activities like playing video games for hours on end, watching endless amounts of television, and spending inordinate amounts of time on social media rather than pursuing relationships with God and others.

For an increasing number of people, their “relationships” are mostly virtual.  Having a relationship with people has been reduced to posting pictures of yourself online and waiting for your “friends” to like and comment on them.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not against entertainment or social media, but if that’s where we are spending most of our time, and that’s where we seeking meaning for our life, we will be bored.

Exclamation point“God/Father/Jesus” are not punctuation marks, so they shouldn’t end every sentence we utter in prayer. Prayer is our communication to God. We wouldn’t communicate with any other person by ending every sentence we say to them with their name (“What did you do today John? Are you going to the game John? It was nice to see your kids John. They played so well last week John. The hot dogs at the park were delicious too John.”)

When we talk to God that way, we are not using his name to address Him, but as “filler” material. I doubt God is annoyed by this in the same way that I would be annoyed if someone talked to me that way, but I think we can do better nonetheless.

talk lessI was thinking the other day how I could be a better conversation partner, and show myself more friendly to others.  I began to think about the kinds of things I find annoying when talking to others: failure to make eye contact, interrupting, dominating the conversation, changing the topic, etc.  Then, I thought of another faux pas that I’m sure most of us are guilty of.  Not only have I observed it so often in others, but I find myself doing it as well, either due to nervousness (particularly when meeting someone new), my desire to demonstrate our commonalities, or in some cases, just pure selfishness.  To what do I refer?

When in conversation with someone, we have the tendency to relate our own experience when it is similar to something the other person is talking about.  The worst thing to do is relate your story while the person is in the midst of telling their own!  But it may be good to withhold your story, even if they have finished theirs.  I don’t know about you, but if, when I finish telling my story to someone, they immediately begin talking about themselves, I get the feeling that they are more interested in their own story than mine.  It almost feels like you have two people competing against one another to share their personal story, each talking past the other.  If we want to be a better conversation partner, and show ourselves more friendly while in conversation, instead of telling our story, how about we seek to know more about their story?  Show them you are listening and you care by asking them to share more.  Not only is this flattering to your conversation partner, but it expresses our genuine interest in them as a person.  Rather than using their story as an opportunity to talk about ourselves, we use it as an opportunity to get to know them better.  We’ll have plenty of opportunities to share our own experience in the future.

“Although feminism purports to raise the value and status of women, it actually deconstructs femininity, treating it as an illusion or even an aberration.  The male chauvinist of the past identified women as unique and different, but then treated femininity as a lesser thing than masculinity.  The feminist of today, rather than celebrating femininity as a thing of equal worth, dismisses it as a bourgeois construction.  Far from championing femininity as a beautiful, God-created gift, the feminist absorbs femininity into a hyper-masculine world of competition, struggle, and ideology.” – Louis Markos, “Just Brilliant!: Three Things only a PhD Can Believe,” Salvo, Issue 24, Spring 2013, page 16.

Blogging doesn’t pay my bills.  I actually have to work a real job for that.  And lately, my work schedule has been crazy.  It will continue to be that way for the next four months, so blogging may be sparse.  I will try to put up new posts whenever I can, and I’ll try to respond to comments, both past and future.  I just can’t promise how frequent my engagement will be. 

In the near future, I hope to expand the scope of Theosophical Ruminations beyond a one-man shop to include other writers.  Hopefully they will be able to start blogging soon, and will make up for my lack.  I’ll keep you posted.  

In the meantime, I would highly suggest that you sign up for my RSS feed so you can be notified of future posts.

 Thanks!

Part of what makes a blog worth the effort is the dialogue it can open up between people of opposing views.  So I encourage people who disagree with me to express their disagreement in the comments section.  However, I have some basic expectations for commenters:

1. The comments should be related to the post.

2. The disagreement should address the specific arguments made in the post in a point and counter-point fashion.

3. All dialogue should be congenial. Let’s stick to critiquing ideas instead of each other.

4. Minimal profanity.

Going forward, any comments that do not meet these criteria will be deleted.  If I have to consistently delete your comments, you will be banned from the site.  I trust that you will find my request reasonable and do your due diligence to abide by these basic guidelines.  It will make everyone’s experience here much more enjoyable and productive.

Thank you!

Sylvia BrowneHow many times will this so-called psychic be proven wrong and people still believe her nonsense?  In 2004 Sylvia Browne told Amanda Berry’s mom that Amanda was dead and on the other side.  Apparently the spirit who speaks to Sylvia Browne forgot to tell Amanda since she was just discovered alive this week.

CA has proposed a bill that would allow for school kids to use the bathroom of their choice, based on their own perceived gender identity.  Craziness.

Salvo24Here is a gem from Louis Markos in “Just Brilliant: Three Things only a PhD Can Believe,” appearing in the latest edition of Salvo magazine:

Though most Americans fancy that feminism only means “equal pay for equal work,” the feminism I have witnessed being taught in our modern universities has little to do with the rules of fair play in the workplace. Students who enroll in a psychology or sociology class today, even if that class is taught in a Christian college, are indoctrinated to believe that there are no essential differences between the sexes. More than that, they are taught that there is no such thing as masculinity and femininity, that the differences we see between boys and girls are merely a product of long-standing customs of socialization, such as giving boys trucks to play with and girls dolls to play with.
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I’ve heard a lot of atheists hypothesize that one of the reasons religion was invented was because people had to manage their fear of death.  If people believe that they will continue to live on in some fashion after death, it mitigates their fear of death.  Can the fear of death explain the origin of religion, or the origin of religious faith in people today?  Perhaps, but three points should be made.  

First, not all religions include conscious existence beyond the grave.  For example, in many Eastern religions absorption into the One (personal extinction) is the end of all things.  Clearly immortality is not the motivation for those religions and religious practitioners.  

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I am feeling prophetic today.  Let me make a prediction about the direction of the music industry and music downloading.  The price to download a single track will triple from $1 to $3 within two years, but the price to download an entire album will remain at ~$13.  Why?  Too many people are downloading singles rather than entire albums, and there is not enough revenue coming in for the record companies and recording artists.  Having a higher price for singles will not only create more revenue than today, but it will also provide a good incentive to spend a few more dollars and purchase the entire album.  Watch and see!

This marks my 1000th post since I started this blog in February 2006. Hopefully I have the tenacity for 1000 more!

Earlier I cited evidence that Facebook is cited in 20% of divorce cases. Other sources are noting that the trend is increasing: 

More than a third of divorce filings last year contained the word Facebook, according to a U.K.survey by Divorce Online, a  legal services firm. And over 80% ofU.S. divorce attorneys say they’ve seen a rise in the number of cases using social networking, according to theAmericanAcademy of Matrimonial Lawyers. “I see Facebook issues breaking up marriages all the time,” says Gary Traystman, a divorce attorney inNew London,Conn. Of the 15 cases he handles per year where computer history, texts and emails are admitted as evidence, 60% exclusively involve Facebook. 

“Affairs happen with a lightning speed on Facebook,” says K. Jason Krafsky, who authored the book “Facebook and Your Marriage” with his wife Kelli. In the real world, he says, office romances and out-of-town trysts can take months or even years to develop. “On Facebook,” he says, “they happen in just a few clicks.” The social network is different from most social networks or dating sites in that it both re-connects old flames and allows people to “friend” someone they may only met once in passing. “It puts temptation in the path of people who would never in a million years risk having an affair,” he says. Facebook declined to comment.

Posting has been quite infrequent, especially of late. My explanation is the same as before. Things are finally letting up a bit at work now, and perhaps I’ll finally be able to get back to blogging on a regular basis and respond to the massive number emails that have been piling up in my inbox over the last few months (sorry Facebook and Twitter, but I’ll never get caught up on you). Thank you, everyone, for your patience.

I am known for posting regularly and responding to comments, but over the past two weeks I have only posted one new post and have not been able to respond to the many comments that have been coming in on the various posts. Where have I been? Working. Unfortunately, blogging doesn’t pay the bills, and my work schedule has been hectic. And when I say hectic, I mean the working-through-the-night kind of hectic. I’ve been living off of 3-4 hours of sleep for the past three weeks. Things have let up a little bit, so I’ll begin posting more regularly again, but I can’t guarantee I’ll always be able to respond to comments (and I won’t even attempt to catch up on the old ones).

I’m excited to share with you that this blog finally broke the 1000 page-views-in-a-single-day barrier (my previous best was 909).  More than half of those views were to my post on the NT quotations in the Church Fathers.

Thanks to all for your continued readership, and for sharing my posts on your own blogs, Facebook, and Twitter!

I just finished Christmas, Celebrating the Christian History of Classic Symbols, Songs and Stories, by Angie Mosteller. This book takes a semi-academic look at the history of American Christmas traditions, symbols, songs, and stories.  It had some really good information regarding the origin of Christmas trees, candy canes, wreathes, etc.

What Mosteller chose to write on, she wrote on well.  What I was disappointed in was what she failed to include.  For example, there was no treatment on the origin of the modern version of Santa Clause.  And most of the Christmas songs she chose to explore I had never heard of.  They may have been American classics, but they are virtually unknown on a popular level today.  And absent from the list were all of the non-religious Christmas songs like Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Jingle Bells, and the like.  I would have loved to have known the history of those songs as well.  She was writing from a Christian perspective, so I’m assuming she chose to focus on the Christian elements of Christmas rather than the non-religious aspects of the holiday.  But overall this book was a good treatment of the origin of Christmas traditions in America.

J.P. Moreland rightly asks, Why is it that if you want to be a chemist or teach literature you have to have training, but if you want to be a minister all you need is to feel a call on your life? Where is the need for knowledge?

Think about it this way. Would you seek the services of a physician who only had a master’s degree in medicine? Would you allow a physician who had no training at all in medicine, but merely felt the “call” to be a doctor, to operate on you? No, because your health is too important to entrust to someone who lacks the knowledge necessary to fix your body. Why then, do we think it is acceptable for ministers of the gospel to “operate” on people’s eternal souls—which is much more important than operating on temporal bodies—with just a call to ministry? Jesus’ disciples sat at His feet for 3+ years before they entered into full-time ministry. Theological education (whether formal or not) should be viewed as a precondition for ministry. Too much is at stake for anything less. Attempting spiritual surgery without sufficient knowledge can lead to others’ spiritual death rather than life. Let’s get educated!

The Barna Research Group has released a report containing six reasons young people leave church after age 15.  This report is a summary of a book by David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group.  You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking Church is based on eight national studies of teens who disengage from the Christian church/faith.  Kinnaman discovered that the six major reasons teens leave church can be summarized under the following umbrellas (3 out of 5 teens disengage from the Christian church/faith for one or more of these reasons):

  • “Reason #1 – Churches seem overprotective.
  • Reason #2 – Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
  • Reason #3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
  • Reason #4 – Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.
  • Reason #5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
  • Reason #6 – The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.”

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