Before You Punch a Nazi: A New Anabaptist Response to White Supremacy

gathering the stones

There isn’t much to be surprised by in Charlottesville. There’s much to grieve, but none of it should be a surprise. All the elements of Saturday’s events have been in headlines for months, or years, and they are quintessential to this time: cars swerving into crowds; statues of Confederate warriors being removed; white nationalist rallies; Black Lives Matter; pedestrians injured. As if someone scrambled up bits of headlines until it yielded this.

What do we do now? Grief wants comfort. Comfort is action. We want to do something. We have to do something.

[Edit: The original draft of this post faced valid criticism for a why-can’t-we-all-get-along, syrup-y vision of white-Anabaptist heroism. A revised post, with this feedback in mind, is forthcoming in the Mennonite World Review. White Anabaptists have their own history of racism. Critiques of anti-oppression work are meaningless if they are veiled excuses for our own racism…

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MORE THAN JUST EMPTY WORDS

New York City. Homeless man.WHAT’S THAT? …YOU SAY THAT YOUR HOMELESS… I’LL PRAY FOR YOU THAT GOD WILL PROVIDE HOUSING FOR YOU” Oh the empty word! Oh the Hypocrisy we show! We will often make comments like this without even thinking about what we are saying. We are quick to appease and tell “white lies”,BUT we seldom keep our promises to be in prayer for that person. Where is the concern? Where is the love? Where is the compassion? Do we even try to ask further questions to find out the extent of the problem? Do we look to see if there are things that we can do to help? Are we willing to spend time with them really getting to know them and their needs. Is our concern truly for him or is our real concern our bank account being drained away; “leaches” sucking our money and resources dry. Could it be that our biases, preconceptions, and stereotypes are causing us to be prejudicial to those in need? And what is it that we really believe about the homeless? Are they in our minds 2nd or 3rd rate citizens? Do they have less rights than us? Are we like the priest and the levite in Luke10 that totally ignored and avoided the man that had been , robbed,stripped, beaten, and left for dead or, are we like the Samaritan that helped him with his wounds, bandaged them, got him up on his animal, got him to an Inn and took care of him? What really is our heart towards the poor? Do we truly love them or are we just going through the motions; playing the role of one that cares when really we couldn’t be bothered otherwise?

I think, more often than not, it’s the latter. We all tend to do it. We talk the talk real good but we don’t walk the walk. We are so convincing that we even sell ourselves the lies that we are doing a good job in caring for the poor when in reality it’s all a sham, a big production done to make ourselves look good in front of others. We are experts at lying to ourselves and others; so much so, that we could sell snow to Eskimos (Inuit First Nations People). Oh sure there are lots of scammers out there, and many more that will take money misuse it without even a blink of an eye as to the sacrifice behind the gift. But are all like that?No of course not. There are many different types of people with a spectrum of needs. surely there is something we can do? Are we that Jaded that we throw out the baby with the bath water and not give at all to those in need?  What position does that put us in light of the passage in Matt 25:31-46? Certainly I am not saying that we must foolishly give to all that ask without using discretion, and certainly there are those that are unable to give at all. We know that we have to choose wisely how we help so we don’t enable them But, we must seriously ask ourselves, whether we (myself included) are truly serious about showing the love of God to the homeless. We must ask ourselves is there not something we can do? Can we not buy them a meal at McDonald’s and use it to show the love of God. Is there no one that has a place in their heart and an extra room to take someone in that is on their way to recovery; giving them a hands up? Perhaps there are those that can just sit with them, listen, find out their story and really show you care.  Is there not someone that is willing to start a support group for the homeless where they can discuss the issues and have the opportunity to hear how Christ can meet their needs?  Is there not someone to love on them with all their heart and strength, and could be a light in a dark and perverted world? Is there not a Follower of Christ who truly cares enough to sacrifice their dignity and pride and spend time with them? Can we not be real, get past our hangups and start treating them like they truly are; People whom God loves and made in His image.  Is there not a way that we can convey to them that we are good friends with their maker and we want to re-introduce them to their maker, help them understand their instruction book, the Bible, and help them to understand their purpose, and know that they have value, worth, dignity, hope and more because of who their maker is and what he did for us?  Is there…..?

HOMELESS1

Homeless man sleeping on the street.

“Daddy NO! DADDY NO !!!! “

“Daddy No! Daddy No!” is the new favorite phrase of our 3 yr old daughter Hannah. “Hacropped-dsc_001151.jpgnnah it’s time to get up” Daddy No!” HAnnah you need to sit up at the table it’s breakfast time” “Daddy No!'” Hannah you need to put the cell phone away we don’t have cell phones at the table” you guessed it “Daddy No!” in succession comes another phrase she is just learning  from Jerome “Daddy wait”.

When I was growing up you didn’t say No to your parents, you don’t tell them to wait, and you didn’t talk back, get sarcastic, raise your voice, or do or say anything that was disrespectful. I was not in the generation where they took us out to the woodshed to use a switch on us, but certainly we got spankings. Wooden spoons, spatulas, hands, were the common tools used and we learned really fast. If it was something that was serious it was the leather belt to our buttocks.

As a Dad, I try, really try to keep the kids under control, respectful and God-fearing and yes, I spank my kids when they need it. I was better off for for it, It didn’t kill me, but it taught me that there are consequences to our actions, and our words, just as there are in life. Sure it is hard to spank your child and yes one needs to get emotions in check and not do it in anger. But my intentions are good, in that I desire that my children are not only good, kind and respectful, but are obedient, and that they fear and obey God.

As is often the case with things that I observe with my children, I often see an application for me. I find it is so easy to say God No. Daddy No, Daddy wait. I am doing this at the moment, I cant pay attention to you right now, I am too busy to do my devotions now, Daddy I can’t go out and spend time with someone, minister to them and meet their needs, Im too busy now, and the one that really gets me No Daddy, Im too busy with ministry now I don’t have time to spend talking and building bonds and doing things with my family. IM DOING MINISTRY! Of course the funny thing about that is our families are our ministries first and foremost. Without our families, We can not show other families what a strong family is. Without a strong marriage, we cant help others who are hurting or struggling with their marriage. God intends to use us, but he uses us as a family, not just as an individual. As fathers we have an obligation to see what it is that the Heavenly Father is trying to do and follow his lead. When we say “Daddy No!” we are saying that we hold our opinions higher than his, and lovingly the father says ” No I am your Father and know what’s best for you. I will discipline you so that you learn to follow and obey me and become more like myself. Something to think about and consider. pb

 

 

 

FEEDING THE HUNGRY LIONS

 

LET ME SET THE SCENE

It is just after breakfast, Hannah and Bing are running around like chickens with their heads

lion-roaring
“MEOW”

cut off, doing this and that, trying to get ready to get Hannah to daycare. The breakfast table cleared, the dishes done, and a single bowl  with leftover breakfast scraps sits on the counter ready to be joined with other food scraps later in the day which will go to feed our dog, our puppy, our cat, and a devious and sinister black cat that frequently comes around at mealtimes or any time food is being cooked or eaten.  I call him Blackie.

MORE ABOUT THIS BLACK CAT.

The cat on the outside is not totally black, in fact it does have some white on it as well, but inside it is the devil incarnate.  This is a cat that frequently hangs around our cat and frequently gets into fights with our cat. (our cat wins). It doesnt come across as brazen, mean, and vicious, but rather is very subtle, and sly, manipulative and selfish. Yes selfish, I thought this perhaps this was a neighbours cat, but Jerome my son insists no it is not despite it frequenting over in their kitchen also.

HE IS QUICK TO SNUGGLE AND RUB AGAINST YOUR LEG IF HE WANTS SOMETHING AND WILL MEOW IN THIS WHINEY TONE AS IF TO SAY ” IM REALLY STARVING FEED ME, FEED ME  … I’M GOING TO DIE!”  BUT WHEN NO FOOD UP FOR GRABS …. HE IS LIKE A WILD CAT, WONT BE PETTED, WONT BE AROUND PEOPLE, AND EVERYTHING IS ABOUT HIM AND WHAT HE CAN GET!  HE IS THE DEVIL INCARNATE DRESSED UP AS AN ANGEL OF LIGHT.

THE DEVIOUS PLOT TO RID US FOOD LEFT OVERS

Some might say, “Paul, your exaggerating, things can not really be all that bad.” , but my response is “deep fry some tilapia (fish) and see what he gets like!” The idea with the bowl of leftovers on the counter is that we will wait until it is full enough, (sometimes by lunch but other times not until later) and then we will serve it up to all the pets in the house. It is not that we are trying to keep good things from them but rather we have more good things to add to it first. But he, (and he will often tempt our cat to also get in on the action under the guise that if he doesn’t he will not get “all the good stuff”

So He jumps up on the counter very quietly and subtly, and will go through the bowl trying to find the meat. If there is a piece of pork, chicken and especially fish he will grab it jump down eat it in private and then go back up for seconds until we happen to notice and shoo it off the counter and out the door. but this is not the worst of it.

LEFT OVERS MEANT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION LATER

If that were not enough he has an insatiable appetite for most any human food. It was not enough that he wanted to get into the bowl of scraps for the animals but he also is quick to jump up on the table knock the upside-down plate off that covers the plate of food and eat as much and as quickly as he can. There has been times where we got our ulam early (A meat or vegetable (or both)dish that is a rice topper) and we set it on the table with a dish covering it. I remember One time I was setting up for lunch, and I set out a can of sardines.  A dish had been placed over it and while I waited for the others to get ready, I went to do something else as I wanted to be productive with my time. I hear the sound of a dish hitting the table which got knocked to the floors, and I sprung up (as fast as an obese person can spring up) and ran yelling and screaming at the blackie, who then grabbed the last piece of sardine and darted off the table and out the back door. He of course doesnt go far. It is as if he is saying ” I won ….. ha ha ha ha ha!” It is as if he is mocking us and ready to make another attack.

Aren’t we often similar to Blackie? We come across as nice and friendly when we want or think we could get something or when a person is showing favor to us. Oh we don’t want to have people think bad of us, we come with our masks, making ourselves out to be honest, truthful, kind, generous, and so many other things, but really we are inwardly like the devil incarnate. That sinful nature springs up over and over again, and we are quick to make sure that we get the biggest piece of cake, the better toy,  be first to the tv remote so We can control the channel, and we insist that our preferences be honored over others,  so that we get what we want, when we want it. We try to appear as angels, when really when really we are sinners who struggle daily with our sinful nature. The funny thing is, It is not that Christ is trying to keep good things from us, just as I was not trying to keep good things from Blackie, but rather there were bigger and better things yet to come and the timing was not yet. But just as blackie was taking 2nd best by being selfish and greedy and not  waiting  for the best, we too are often selfish and greedy and take 2nd best instead of waiting for the best. We treat others around us as second class citizens and do not show them the love and respect that they deserve because we are acting in our own self interests.

 

Lord, help us today to not be selfish and self serving but rather serving others and thinking of them first. Help us to understand that you are not trying to withhold good things from us but rather have better things for us, bigger and better but we must trust you and wait for you to give us what we need. Lord forgive us for our selfish attitude and for not trusting you. Make us more like yourself, help us to trust you and live for you wholly. In Jesus Name Amen

A new category for laughs with a message

I had a bunch of ideas that were things in life that I observed that were often funny but had a life lesson attached. It wouldn’t fit under \”things I’ve learned from my children” or “living in the Philippines” but they had the same type of quirky humor that one cannot help but laugh at. So here it is. I hope you enjoy

military intelligence

Squished legs

SQUISHED LEGS! IN JEEPfull Intercity bus stuffed with peopleNEYS, TRIKES, AND YES IN INTERCITY BUSES. THEY WERE DEFINITELY NOT MADE FOR US FOREIGNERS (or “For- En-Gers”  as some Filipinos would say in their broken English).  The fact of the matter is that none of the aforementioned vehicles were designed for those over 5 feet or those who are obese like me.

Lately, I have been traveling with my family to the Island of Mindoro, in the Philippines, where my in-laws live. It is a beautiful Island and yes even the trikes are built slightly bigger to accommodate foreigners. As I was traveling, from Capas Tarlac, Luzon Philippines to San Teodoro, Mindoro, Philippines I relearned very quickly that I either have to adjust Physically and in my attitude, or I will be very very miserable.  First off, We got to Capas Tarlac, from our Barangay, and were waiting for a bus. 2 HOURS. It wasn’t that there weren’t buses coming frequently going to where we were going to but rather, that they were all full. we waited for approx 2 hours before being able to catch a bus that had empty seats. (as opposed to standing all 4 hours until Cubao). You would think that I would be grateful that I had a seat, (And I was especially after waiting 2 hours) but the seats available had no leg room at all. I mean it was worse than the leg room available on an airplane (which is pretty bad). On the bus, it wasn’t piles of personal and vegetable bags (although there were some) but piles of people crammed onto a bus. I’m guessing on that bus there was probably a seating capacity on that bus of perhaps 72, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were 85 or 90 on there. The mindset of the Average Canadian is that we like to have personal space rather than being crammed in like sardines into a sardine tin. However, the Mindset apparently of Asians is that they are used to being in very tight and confined spaces and almost seem to enjoy it. (Just my perception). As for me, I find myself being a little bit on the clusterphobic side, needing some basic space.

The second bus was a little better but later in Mindoro, would find my legs falling asleep from having them pushed at odd angles in the jeepney going from Calapan to San Teodoro. Piles of personal bags, bags of vegetables and others things all were piled in the middle where our feet should have been. I know I should not complain but this was ridiculous.  My feet were just between the tingling/pain stage and falling asleep stage. My ankles, (as I would later discover) were swollen up to the size of large oranges.

So why do I write this? Do I write just to complain and whine? (well, perhaps a little). Really I write this because I want to express some of the life lessons I learned. There are many things in life that are inconvenient, cause pain, suffering, and hardship. If you travel to third world countries, you will likely see it quite frequently as I do. In North America, we get so caught up in the “nice life mentality” where things are always, or frequently comfortable, and there are few inconveniences. We have sufficient leg room on buses, trains, and other vehicles, food is (relatively) fast food where we can within 5 minutes have our food ready for us. Buses arrive frequently and on time, Customer service is good (or sometimes anyhow), Government and other agencies are more or less free of corruption (or at least it is not as noticeable); basically, many of the things that we take for granted in North America, cater to our mentality of meeting our needs in the here and now. It Caters to our mentality that We want things quick, efficient and without problems. We want things fast and on time. I have been to the Philippines a number of times now, for a total of about 4 years. I love the Philippines and in

I love the Philippines and in fact, there are things in the Philippines that I prefer over Canadian culture and practices. But despite my numerous trips here, I still find that there are things that I have to yet adapt to in terms of my way of thinking. I still have to a large degree this “nice life mentality” and largely expect that to some degree I will be catered to. I expect a level of customer service that is equal to that of North America, I expect that bus lines, Jeepney, and trike drivers will want to please their customers and give decent leg room. I expect that there will be a level of respect and courtesy gave that is equal to that of North America.Perhaps this to some degree is true.  In North America, we live in countries that are so heavy on the rights people have demanded rights but often have forgotten responsibilities.

This blog might seem a bit heavy for some, But I myself am finding myself (sitting in my home in the Philippines) being very contemplative, wondering if perhaps I am being too demanding. Are my expectations of the country, and the people in it too high? Why do I have the right to inist all theses things despite being a “guest” in the country? Yes there are expectations that people have (and should have) that are based on an expectation of goodness, what is right, fair and honest. But often we mix up however our rights and what is “owing us” or “what is rightly due”, with what is good right fair and honest.  It is amazing how being in another country can make one very contemplative, and thinking about things such as this.

This is not to say that there are not good reasons to be critical or demanding at times such as defending human rights and dignities, or having a righteous anger when one sees that so called “followers of Christ (aka believers) are falling for the lies of the devil, or that Governments or others are purposely contravening God’s PRAYING HANDS1laws purposely perverting truth and making it lies; and putting in policies into place that are clearly against God and his Word.  In cases such as these there is little we can do except pray and give it into God’s hands; letting Him deal with it.

It is much easier to complain, criticize, and be demanding, then it is to be quiet, humble, and accepting those things that one can’t change. Not to make excuses but I think that when one goes into a place where everything is different culturally, it is extremely hot, and there are many things that are backward and seem to be nonsense, (especially when one is a no-nonsense type of person) one is quick to jump to having these bad attitudes. I know that I am very quick to jump to conclusions, complain, criticize, and am demanding at times and that it is something I need to work on.  I apologize to all those that I am quick to get angry with, or be demanding of. I realize more than ever that the Lord still has a lot of work to do in me, and my life is witness to all that he has done and yet has to do so i am more like Him in every way.

THE JUSTICE OF HELL

Man Kneeling in Prayer

This is an article reposted by Comec Ministries

from an article by Donald T. Williams as posted on the Christian Research Institute Webpage. It is an excellent article defending why the whole concept of Hell is just and How it is right for a just and good God is to impose an eternal punishment for merely “temporal sins?” The Christian Research Institute is well known for their apologetics (defending the faith) and for giving answers about other faiths and belief systems and why these belief systems contrast with the Word of God and His teachings.

 Again this is a more in-depth read but it is highly recommended

The Justice of Hell?

Article ID: JAF6391 | By: Donald T. Williams

Man Kneeling in Prayer


This article first appeared in the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL, volume 39, number 01 (2016). The full text of this article in PDF format can be obtained by clicking here. For further information or to subscribe to the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL go to: http://www.equip.org/christian-research-journal/


Many atheists (and some Christians) object to the doctrine of hell on the premise that it is inherently unjust. How, they ask, can it be right for a good and just God to impose an eternal punishment for merely temporal sins? How can it be just to impose an infinite punishment for finite sins? It is hard to see how human beings, being temporal and finite creatures, could commit any other kinds of sin than finite ones. But unending conscious punishment is, well, unending. Add infinity to any finite number, and you see the problem.

The atheist who pursues this line of reasoning finds support for his or her suspicion that the Christian concept of a good God is incoherent. The Christian who does so seeks to revise or eliminate altogether the traditional doctrine of eternal punishment. And one must admit that this thinking has a certain surface plausibility. People thus persuaded might well question whether traditional Christian belief really takes the goodness and justice of God with sufficient seriousness.

But what if it is actually the questioners who do not really understand or take seriously the goodness of God? Yes, the goodness of God!

What if a maximally and eternally good, wise, powerful, and holy Being who is the Creator and Sustainer of the world actually were to exist? He would, in other words, be more good than Frodo, wiser than Gandalf, stronger than Treebeard, and more faithful than Sam. He would have more integrity than Aragorn and be more committed to all that is good and right than Faramir. He would, in fact, be the inexhaustible well from which characters like those, to the extent that they exist in the

real world, draw their goodness, wisdom, power, and righteousness. He would possess such attributes infinitely, that is, perfectly and inexhaustibly, in virtue of being the eternal and uncreated Standard and Source of goodness, wisdom, power, and righteousness—the One who in the beginning first said, “Let there be light.”1

Would such a maximally great Being then not be worthy of all our worship, all our obedience, and all our adoration? In fact, such a Being would deserve these responses from us, not just be in a position to demand or coerce them. That is, just by His being who and what He is, those responses on our part would be not merely nice or desirable but inherently appropriate to Him, indeed, inherently owed to Him. For contingent and morally responsible creatures such as ourselves to fail to see and accept this obligation in the presence of a maximally great Being is to be complicit in a pernicious lie about the real nature of things; to refuse this obligation is to incur guilt.

Furthermore, there would be no conceivable limit to this Being’s worthiness. He would be infinite in the sense that He would possess the greatest possible set of perfections that justify our worship, obedience, and adoration. Thus, He would infinitely deserve our worship, obedience, and adoration. And I mean by infinitely that there would be no conceivable limit to that worthiness and that deservedness on His part, and hence to that obligation on ours. All of this seems to follow inexorably.

THE REALITY OF OBJECTIVE VALUE

Modern people may hit a hurdle here, though. They tend to see moral qualities such as worthiness and desert as subjective phenomena—existing in the eye of the beholder rather than in the nature of the observed object. They have lived in a world where everybody gets a trophy just for showing up. They may think, “Well, if you feel God ‘deserves’ worship because of who He is, that’s fine for you, but what does it mean for me? Why can’t I just shrug my shoulders and move on? Why must I base my whole life on something external to me?”

People who think this way usually have never noticed how inconsistently they do so. Some of the things we think are subjective opinions (“vanilla is tastier than chocolate”), and some are objective facts (“Georgia is east of Mississippi”). Modern people tend to treat statements about moral value as belonging to the first category (vanilla vs. chocolate) because people often disagree about them, whereas most people will agree about where Georgia is on the map. But at least some moral values are moral facts, not mere feelings. For example, wanton cruelty to innocent children is just wrong. Genocide (as in the Holocaust) is just wrong. It does not really matter how we feel about these moral facts. If we fail to disapprove of such things, it is not a matter of taste; it is precisely a moral failing on our part. We have mistaken Georgia for Mississippi, not merely preferred vanilla over chocolate.2

ACKNOWLEDGING THE CREATOR’S GOODNESS

All right, if we must admit that there is such a thing as an objective moral value, one that demands a response from us (approval, say, or condemnation) whether we feel inclined to make it or not, then surely the one place where we should expect to find such an unyielding moral reality would be in the One who is the very Source and Wellspring of creation, both of its existence and its goodness. If that is the case, we are ready to revisit the point established earlier: would such a maximally great Being then not be objectively, infinitely worthy of all our worship, all our obedience, and all our adoration? Would such a Being then not objectively, infinitely deserve all our worship, obedience, and adoration? And would we then not be under a perpetual and limitless moral obligation to worship, obey, and adore such an all-good and awesome Being?

If all of that is true, then would stubbornly and persistently withholding those responses (indeed, stubbornly and persistently yielding them to something—to anything—else) not then make us, in a sense, infinitely guilty of rebellion? Would that rebellion not be infinitely inexcusable? For there could be no conceivable limit to how wrong it was. By what possible moral calculus could we then judge hell to be unjust? There is none. From this perspective, God’s goodness is not in conflict with the justice of eternal punishment; it is the very consideration that makes its justice and rightness inescapable.

FULFILLMENT OR FRUSTRATION

There are further questions that have to be considered. If such a Being existed and we were His creatures, absolutely dependent on Him for our own existence, would worship of, obedience to, and adoration of Him not then be the ultimate fulfillment of our existence? Would refusing to offer them to Him, or giving them to anything else, not be the ultimate frustration of our nature? Would that frustration itself not be the very definition of hell—even if no retributive justice as such were involved? For, having rejected the Standard and Source of all that is good, what could our existence then be? It would be an existence cut off from the Well from which flow the waters of life: goodness, knowledge, wisdom, strength, justice, and love. It would, therefore, be by its very nature an existence devoid of those things and full of evil, folly, impotence, futility, and every kind of wickedness. What could such an existence be but hell?

If retributive justice were involved (it cannot be excluded as part of the picture if we are to be faithful to Scripture), who would be in a position to complain that it was unjust or undeserved? For by refusing worship, obedience, and adoration to God, by giving them to anything else, we would have received precisely what we had chosen: a life in which our aspiration for anything that is good and noble is fully and finally frustrated.

One might well object that hypothetical questions such as these do not prove the existence of such a God. They do not. But they do clarify what the Christian claim about God is, and hence show that the traditional Christian claims about the afterlife are not inconsistent with it—indeed, the Christian confession is wonderfully coherent.

They also can lead to further questions: if this Being does not exist, how does it come about that anything exists? If naturalism and materialism are true, where did concepts such as goodness and justice (and evil and injustice) come from? For in a naturalistic world, there is no evil and no injustice—merely certain situations we do not happen to like. If naturalism is true, where did the concept of truth come from? If naturalism is true, how could naturalism (or anything else) be true? For in such a world all ideas (and their antitheses) would equally be nothing more than chemical reactions in the brains of organisms that evolved to have them by chance. And who (or, more accurately, what) would judge between those ideas and their antitheses? Another set of chemical reactions subject to the same conditions is the only possible answer. As C. S. Lewis realized in Miracles, thinking like this leads us nowhere.3

REDEEMED REBELS

Such questions might well lead to the realization that the existence of God is a reasonable hypothesis in trying to account for the fullness of the reality we experience by living in this wondrous world. For it is a world that does contain goodness, justice, and truth, along with evil, injustice, and lies. If the world contains real and not merely imagined goodness and evil, then it makes sense that there should somewhere be ultimate fulfillments of both—that is, heaven and hell. Then the realization that God’s existence actually makes sense of the world (and is the only thing that does) might put us in a position to receive the life, death, and resurrection of Christ in history as a solid basis for faith in the God who, the disciples were convinced, was revealed to them in His Son.

One might also object that we cannot actually imagine such a God. Indeed, we cannot; not fully, if what I have said about Him here is true. In fact, we are warned that it can be dangerous to try. We can safely conceive of God only by sticking to the pictures of Him we are given in Scripture, culminating in the only perfect image, His Son Jesus Christ. If we tried to imagine Him outside of that framework, we would create only false and corrupted images of Him and worship them. They are technically known as idols. Because of the rebellion of our first ancestors, we have become constitutional rebels and constitutional manufacturers and worshipers of idols. They do not have to be made of literal wood or stone to be horribly real and destructive—and to render us horribly guilty.

Now, what if this good God loved us so much that He was not content to leave us in such a state of idolatry and rebellion and futility but offered us a way back to Him? What if He had already provided it by the sacrificial and atoning death of His Son, who absorbed in Himself all the consequences due to our guilt? We could never find God on our own; as constitutional rebels, we don’t even want to. But if He cut through all of your resistance and revealed Himself to you in such a way that He opened the eyes of your heart, so that you could get even the vaguest apprehension of what He really is as described above, would you not then want to give Him all your worship, obedience, and adoration?

In other words, the justice of hell is not really our intellectual problem. The very goodness of the God whom fallen humans despise, disobey, and ignore demands hell. His goodness—the fact that He is the Wellspring and Source of all that is good, and thus infinitely deserves the worship, obedience, and adoration we have withheld from Him and given to another—demands some such punishment for those who ungratefully reject His mercy and forgiveness in Christ. So, no, the justice of hell is not the real problem. The real mystery, the thing that we can accept but never finally explain, is the grace of heaven.

Donald T. Williams is R. A. Forrest Scholar at Toccoa Falls College. He is the author of nine books, including Inklings of Reality: Essays toward a Christian Philosophy of Letters (Lantern Hollow Press, 2012).


NOTES

  1. For further discussion concerning the maximal greatness of God, see Tom Morris and David Baggett, “Greatest Being Theology,” in this issue of the Journal, pp. 30–37.
  2. For further defense of the concept of objective value, see C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (New York: MacMillan, 1947).
  3. C. S. Lewis, Miracles: A Preliminary Study (New York: MacMillan, 1947), esp. chap. 3.

 

Discerning the Times: Why We Lost the Culture War and How to Make a Comeback

Here is another wonderful article By Hank Hanagraaf of the Christian Research Institute published on their Website under their article Section in 2015.  Though it is a little in depth, it describes how it is that we as the conservative Christian Right have lost, or are at the very least losing the battle in the culture wars. It was He suggests lost in the area of Philology. He will explain exactly what that is.  For someone wanting a more in depth and Philosophical read about the cultural war where it is present, where it is going, and how we can win the war this is the article for you.

Jesus' Name

Article ID: JAF3382 | By: Donald T. Williams

Jesus' Name


This article first appeared in the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL, volume 38, number 02 (2015). The full text of this article in PDF format can be obtained by clicking here. For further information or to subscribe to the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL go to: http://www.equip.org/christian-research-journal/


SYNOPSIS

We lost the culture war, not because we had bad arguments for the positions we espoused, but because we had already lost it on the more fundamental ground of hermeneutics. Focused on theology, philosophy, ethics, and politics, we paid insufficient attention to changes taking place in our colleges in how reading and writing were taught. The old grammatico-historical exegesis, the attempt to discover the author’s message to his original audience, was replaced by a new view in which authorial intention is irrelevant at best and meaning is in the eye of the beholder. When people are taught to read this way, the authority of all cultural texts—including our founding documents and Scripture—is undermined, so that even good arguments for traditional values lose their traction. To reverse this defeat, we must recognize the importance of reading and how it is taught. You cannot win the battle for theology or ethics if you have lost the battle for philology.


The culture war is over. We (the Christian Right) lost.

OK, maybe it’s not quite over, and we’re only losing—albeit rather badly. If you quibble over the difference, you will miss the point.

It was a war we were right to fight, for no one who loves his neighbors can be indifferent to how they will be affected by harmful degradations of the culture that surrounds them. But we ought to have fought it very differently. We fought for many of the right things, but often not in a wise or loving way. We were generally right, and we often argued well, but we lost anyway. How did that happen? Why did it happen? It happened because we didn’t understand where the real battle was until it was too late. We probably don’t get it yet. Here’s what I mean.

WHERE THE BATTLE WAS

The founding documents of the American republic, from the Mayflower Compact to the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution, were on our side. They really were. Nobody cares. Nobody can even tell. Nobody thinks it matters. We lost the culture war on that score because we lost it earlier on the even more basic front of hermeneutics.

We lost, in other words, because we did not pay sufficient attention to changes taking place in our schools and colleges in the way writing and reading are taught. A major shift has taken place there over the past century, one with serious implications for every other issue we deal with. Typically, the Constitution—like any literary document studied in our secular schools, including the Bible—no longer has any objective meaning given to it by its authors. It means whatever the “interpretive community” (in the case of the Constitution, five out of nine people in black robes) thinks they need or want it to mean. That is a huge problem in itself, but we have an even bigger one: our fellow citizens are fine with this procedure. Why wouldn’t they be? It is how they were taught to read themselves.

Many Christian scholars and Christian institutions of higher education did not stand against this new view with sufficient rigor or energy. Why not? Many Christians either did not understand or just shrugged their shoulders at, or even welcomed, this change in how we read the world. Some even rejoiced in it as an improvement over the hated “modernism” they thought had taken over the Christian movement. How foolish! But we allowed it to happen because its earlier manifestations did not seem to be a threat. After all, they were happening in “English,” not in theology or philosophy, and in the reading of “artistic” works—novels, short stories, plays, poems—rather than “serious” political, legal, or religious texts. And who cares what a bunch of effete aesthetic snobs do with incomprehensible texts that don’t matter anyway?

And so in the secular academy, the Old Way—the attempt to understand what an author was trying to say to his original audience, believing that what they would have gotten out of his work must be the authoritative starting point for discussing the “meaning” of that work—was abandoned as naïve, unworkable, even perverse. This banishment of authors from their own texts was first crystallized by the “New Critics” of the mid-twentieth century in their concept of the “intentional fallacy”: just pay attention to what the text says in itself, they argued reasonably; the author’s intention for it, whatever that might have been, is a misleading distraction in the process of interpretation. The New Critics’ emphasis on “close reading” of the details of the text itself was sound. But wait: did scholars such as W. K. Wimsatt and Monroe C. Beardsley1 and the teachers who followed them intend for us to focus on the text as a thing in itself rather than as an act of communication by its author? Ahem.

The aestheticism of New Criticism, its focus on works of art, masked for a while the ideological use that could be made of this new author-free way of reading, not only in other texts but also in the literary works themselves. So most Christian English professors simply picked up this approach to literary texts with never a thought as to what would happen if some of its presuppositions were applied to other texts. And indeed for a while “close reading” produced genuine insights into the texts as works of literary art. But meanwhile, the exile of the author found its fulfillment in the “death of the author” espoused by current postmodern theorists. (But wait again: if authors such as Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes really believe in the “death of the author” that they espouse, why do their names appear on the spines of their books?) Now the very distinction between literary texts and other texts has broken down. Now all texts can be mined for their aesthetic value or their ideological usefulness or anything else the critic wants to find in them. The one thing those texts cannot do—are not permitted to do—is to allow our ancestors to share with us the wisdom of the past. The “chronological snobbery” C. S. Lewis warned us about now reigns supreme.

The end result is that today if you try to apply the old method, the search for the author’s meaning (technically called “grammatico-historical exegesis”), to any cultural document, people stare blankly at you as if you were speaking a foreign language. That is one of the major reasons why, even when we had good arguments on the more recognizable issues in what was called the culture war, those arguments had no traction. People simply walked on by as if nothing had happened. To them, nothing had.

Sadly, this blank stare is not limited to “secular” people outside the church. I can tell you that it occurs on the faces of many students in conservative Christian colleges. They may tell you something very different when off guard in the cafeteria from what they put by rote on their hermeneutics exams to please their professor. Outside of class, they take it as a self-evident truth needing no support that readers create meaning in, rather than receiving it from, the text. Readers—not authors. These students don’t know  it, but they have picked up by osmosis the epistemological skepticism of postmodern hermeneutics. Readers, not authors, are the source of meaning. Authors have no authority. Their presence at the moment of “text construction” has no historical or hermeneutical relevance. That would (horrors!) interfere with the freedom of the interpreter. The “free play of the mind in the text” trumps all other considerations.

These students don’t know any of the jargon, but they have absorbed the assumptions. And few of their professors are equipped to challenge those assumptions.

Their more conservative Bible professors can refute the old higher criticism but not the new hermeneutic, and their English professors had to spend their graduate careers pretending to take the chic nihilism of postmodern “theory” seriously if they wanted to get their degrees.2Not all of them came through that experience unscathed, and many had never been told that any other view was even possible. Yet they are often hired to teach in Christian-college English departments because they exude all the expected subjective pieties, and administrators do not know how to ask the questions that could expose the fact that their approach radically undermines the very basis of those pieties.

Now, no matter what you say, even if you still call the Bible the Word of God and think yourself a loyal son or daughter of the church, once you have adopted this view, authority has been transferred from the biblical text to you, the individual. Not only is there nothing to stop you from remaking the text (or the natural world, in the case of the gay rights cadre) in your own image; you have actually been taught that it is your right to do so, and that so doing is unavoidable, even virtuous. Biblical authors cannot be made an exception to this principle when it rules the mind unchallenged.

Yes, we have lost the culture war, and many of us have no idea how badly and how deeply! Many of our own children, even the pious ones, are more influenced by the culture at this critical point than by the church or the Christian tradition. Can this influence be unrelated to the fact that according to many studies they are only marginally better than the world in their practice of Christian morality? Readers empowered to create their own subjective meaning rather than exhorted to find the objective meaning left behind by the author are foxes put in charge of the henhouse when fallen human nature runs up against the demands of the Law of God.

WHERE THE BATTLE IS

So we lost. All right, what do we do now? Most importantly, we realize that the battle is never finally lost because Christ is sovereign and He is coming back. Those facts guarantee long-term victory. In the short term, since we do not know when He is coming back, we are to be faithful while He tarries and occupy until He comes. Therefore, the battle we have just lost must be followed by another one that we fight more intelligently, with a better recognition of our strategic position. Having lost the battle for faithful reading, we also have lost the cultural privilege and initiative we once enjoyed. We no longer command anything perceived by our peers as moral high ground. We are no longer defending the received tradition; we are now trying to come from behind. We are the new Moral Minority. Our position is now much more like that of our brothers in the old Roman Empire, except that instead of being the edgy new challenging Way coming in, we are now perceived as the outmoded fuddy-duddies being swept aside. A four-pronged strategy is needed in the situation in which we now find ourselves.

Speak Out

First, in response to this situation, we should not do what some are doing, and give up or surrender or try to retreat back into our private religious ghetto. We should continue to advocate biblical positions publically, even politically, because they are right, wise, good, and the only policies conducive to healthy human thriving in the long run. The unpopularity of biblical positions that are pro-life, protraditional marriage, or pro-traditional family is simply an indicator of how badly those views need proclamation  and defense. But we can no longer pretend that they are a default setting, or that they are in any way privileged because there was once a consensus more or less in their favor. That situation belongs to an increasingly remote past. Failure to recognize this fact is one of the reasons we keep losing. We’re still fighting yesterday’s battles.

Teach a Proper Perspective

Second, we must prioritize reading and hermeneutics, and the way they are taught, as keys to our ability to witness effectively to the truth in all other areas. You cannot very well argue that traditional marriage or the sanctity of life should be normative if norms are inconceivable to your audience as anything other than arbitrary impositions of power. Norms cannot be conceivable as anything other than arbitrary impositions of power if meaning (not to mention truth) is by definition in the eye of the beholder. So if you live in an environment where the very act of reading as taught by almost all those who should be our most proficient readers (i.e., English professors) seems to undercut the very concept of determinative meaning and reinforce the absolute sovereignty of the individual, you will have a hard time making norms seem conceivable, much less believable. When truth is nothing more than a fluid miasma of shifting perspectives, the exclusive claims of Christ might be accepted by a few but cannot be taken seriously by anyone.

We therefore need to be much more vigilant against all forms of the postmodern “hermeneutic of suspicion” and much more aggressive in making the case for authorial intent as the foundation of textual meaning. Can authors communicate with their readers in their texts? The people who tell you they cannot are saying this in texts in which they are doing, quite successfully, the very thing they deny is possible! The ultimately self-refuting nature of such a stance is something we need to hammer relentlessly. The English professor who believes that authors can communicate with their readers is now the most needed missionary on the planet, and sending him or her into the secular academy (or even the Christian school) is the most strategic mission strategy we can mount.3

Sadly, the church herself has become a mission field in this area. Does the Christian college you support have people on its English faculty who piously believe that deconstruction (for example) is just one more neutral technique to be applied to texts, that it is something Christians should “take seriously” and “learn from”? (Not that I am advocating ignorance of it. People should be aware of the poisons in their cabinet!) You would be surprised at how many do. If you hire such people or contribute to their salaries or send your young people to study under them, you are aiding and abetting the Enemy. It is no exaggeration to say that the result will be more debased definitions, moral relativism, and brutally slaughtered babies.

The Importance of Art in Communication

Third, we must recognize the crucial role of the imagination alongside reason in cultural apologetics. Failure to take seriously the importance of literary art (and all the arts) in the formation of human minds and hearts was one of the reasons we were blind to the shift that took the ground out from under our feet until it was too late. We must not forget that the greatest apologist of the twentieth century was the greatest not only because he gave us the rational arguments of Mere Christianity and Miracles but also because he showed us what they looked like incarnate in the Chronicles of Narnia and the Space Trilogy—and most of all because in him reason and imagination were seamlessly integrated in one unified vision of the wholeness and the wholesomeness of Christian truth. We need more advocates who have learned such wholeness from writers such as C. S. Lewis.

How is such integration relevant to the culture wars? Exhortations to sexual faithfulness, for example, will be fully effective only if they flow from sound arguments for why God’s commands really are the expression of His love for us rather than arbitrary prohibitions. And those rational arguments will be fully convincing only if they are accompanied by compelling portraits of such faithfulness that make it genuinely imaginable as the only path to human thriving and fulfillment.4

Walk Humbly

Fourth, we must adjust our rhetoric to address the audience that actually exists, not the one that was here two generations ago. We need to stop berating people for departing from a position they never held, and instead do the hard work of evangelizing and discipling them from scratch. Maybe from less than scratch. They are jaded and cynical about what they think Christianity is, and that is partly our fault—not because we were wrong but because we were (and are) stupid in our approach.

Here’s an example of that stupidity: On my way to church I used to pass a billboard proclaiming a meeting in which the Christian Right was going to “take back America.” Have we no idea how this message comes across to the multitudes of  on believers who read it on a public billboard? It would only reinforce all their worst stereotypes and prejudices about us. Even as an in-house communiqué, it did not send quite the right message. We have to win America back before we can even begin to think of taking it back.

It’s finally about recognizing what the real battle is, something we have not been very good at. It is too late to preserve the American republic (we have to restore it). We have lost the opportunity to appeal to the old consensus and we need to stop acting like it is still there. We need to continue our political opposition to atrocities such as abortion and perversions such as same-sex marriage but we should stop putting any hope in it until we do better at the prior job of evangelism and discipleship. We cannot win the battles for theology, philosophy, ethics, and politics if we lose the battle for philology (literature and reading). If we don’t understand these things, we will be fighting shadows on an empty field the Enemy has already abandoned for juicier prizes.

Better to wise up now than later.

 

Donald T. Williams is R. A. Forrest Scholar and professor of English and apologetics at Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa, Georgia. He holds an MDiv and a PhD in Medieval and Renaissance Literature. An ordained minister in the Evangelical Free Church of America, he has spent several summers training local pastors in East Africa and India for Church Planting International. He is also the president of the International Society of Christian Apologetics.


NOTES

  1. “The Intentional Fallacy,” in Critical Theory since Plato, ed. Hazard Adams and Leroy Searle (1966; repr., Boston: Wadsworth, 2005), 1027–34.
  2. For the fountainhead of postmodern theory, see Jacques Derrida, “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Humanities,” in Critical Theory since Plato, 1206–15. For an excellent evangelical critique, see Alan Jacobs, “Deconstruction,” in Contemporary Literary Theory: A Christian Appraisal, ed. Clarence Walhout and Leland Ryken (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 172–98.
  3. For further discussion of how to make such a defense and mount such a strategy, see my books Inklings of Reality: Essays toward a Christian Philosophy of Letters, 2nd ed. (Lynchburg, VA: Lantern Hollow Press, 2012), and Reflections from Plato’s Cave: Essays in Evangelical Philosophy (Lynchburg, VA: Lantern Hollow Press, 2012).
  4. For further discussion of how this kind of integration has been and can be done, see my book Mere Humanity: G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien on the Human Condition (Nashville: B&H Books, 2006), and my article, “The World of the Rings: Why Peter Jackson was Unable to Film Tolkien’s Moral Tale,” Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity 26, 6 (November/December 2013): 14–16.

 

Did God use Evolution as his method of creation?

This is a wonderful article By Hank Hanegraaf of CRI Ministries and his Bible Answers section of his Webpage. I am forwarding it as it is a wonderful article that sums up why God did not use evolution as his method of creation.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did

 

Did God Use Evolution As His Method of Creation?

This article is from Hank Hanegraaff, The Creation Answer Book (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012)

Get the Book

Under the banner of “theistic evolution,” a growing number of Christians maintain that God used evolution as his method for creation. This, in my estimation, is the worst of all possibilities. It is one thing to believe in evolution; it is quite another to blame God for it.

First, the biblical account of creation specifically states that God created living creatures according to their own “kinds” (Genesis 1:24–25). As confirmed by science, the DNA for a fetus is not the DNA for a frog, and the DNA for a frog is not the DNA for a fish. Rather, the DNA of a fetus, frog, or fish is uniquely programmed for reproduction after its own kind. Thus, while Scripture and science allow for microevolution* (transitions within “the kinds”), they do not allow for macroevolution* (amoebas evolving into apes or apes evolving into astronauts).

Furthermore, evolution is the cruelest, most inefficient system for creation imaginable. Perhaps Nobel Prize–winning evolutionist Jacques Monod put it best: “The struggle for life and elimination of the weakest is a horrible process, against which our whole modern ethic revolts.” Indeed, says Monod, “I am surprised that a Christian would defend the idea that this is the process which God more or less set up in order to have evolution.”

Finally, theistic evolution is a contradiction in terms—like the phrase flaming snowflakes. God can no more direct an undirected process than he can create a square circle. Yet this is precisely what theistic evolution presupposes.

Evolutionism is fighting for its very life. Rather than prop it up with theories such as theistic evolution, thinking people everywhere must be on the vanguard of demonstrating its demise.

From one man he made every nation of men, that they should
inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for
them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so
that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find
him, though he is not far from each one of us.

Acts 17:26–27

 


For further study, see Jay W. Richards, ed., God and Evolution: Protestants, Catholics, and Jews Explore Darwin’s Challenge to Faith (Seattle: Discovery Institute Press, 2010).

Here is some reading about the ministry

  1. CMI BROCHURE REVISED FEB 14 2017,
  2. THE AIMS OF COMEC MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL,
  3. ABOUT COMEC MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL,
  4. CMI COMEC ACRONYM,

SO YOU’VE GOT TO GO ?????

A TYPICAL DAY IN THE LIFE OF A FOREIGNER You are coming from the airport by bus to a city outside of Manilla. toilet-philippines-bucket-spigotYou finally get to the bus depot, ABOUT A 20-minute taxi from the airport; you are tired and the taxi driver seeing you were “American and rich” (anything not Filipino, and from North American) just took you for an extra p500.00 Pesos driving you the longer route to the bus depot and now, you’ve got to go. I mean you really really have got to go.(to the washroom that is) You rush to where the washrooms are (they call it CR (Comfort Room) in the Philippines which is truly an irony because it is far from comfortable!!!!! The only comfort is finally being able to relieve yourself after waiting in long lines and getting past … well, I’ll tell you all about that in a minute.

So you arrive at the CR ready to drop a load, and you depending on the location, get stopped and told you to have to pay a toll. The attendant says “Bayad” and points to a sign that says pay P5.00 for entrance. Or if your really lucky you might see the signs that say umihi (pee) P5.00 tae (Poop) p10.00. I know of a place in Baguio that has this exact sign in a park washroom. No lie!  (although I’ve always wondered how they would enforce this lol… let me check before you flush lol NOT! !!!!Anyhow I digress) So you look through your pockets and of course, you don’t have any pesos yet. You haven’t been able to get any money converted yet. “I need to get in … I don’t have any pera” Pera the word you learned within 5 minutes of getting off the airport property as all the beggars in Metro Manila (Like Toronto, Sao Paulo or other Mega-Cities which swallow up other cities) and beyond heard you are coming and holding out their hands and asking for money.  “Pera, Pera…Pera!” they say almost in a demanding tone. “No NO,  I HAVE NO MONEY!!! YOU REPEAT THIS ABOUT 10,000 times but they all seem to be deaf or stupid. Likewise, the attendant at the CR seems to have the same condition; an instant loss of hearing. You are practically holding yourself front and back as it seems like article-2339866-1A43307C000005DC-251_634x366hours since you’ve been waiting to get in. You find someone that will give you p5.00 and you rush to the toilet stall. Lo and behold a lineup. You look to where the stalls are. There are or were 4 stalls. One has no toilet, one has no toilet door (although some are desperate and use it anyways, another has been clogged for the last century leaving only one stall available.  You desperately are crawling into the stall sort of doing a funny walk trying to keep from doing it before you get to the toilet and “WHAT?” WHAT IS THIS?” It looks sort of like a toilet but there is no toilet tank and no toilet seat! You’re sort of doing the squat thing not really sure of whether you should or even want to sit on the toilet bowl rim itself but eventually out of tiredness are forced to do the unthinkable. You Sit and well you know .. do your business. Actually, it is more like a volcano rupturing upside down because the Filipino food they fed you on the plane did not agree with your stomach and the immense 34-degree heat (But feels like 39 with the humidity has you feeling as sick as a dog.  So this volcano erupts harshly downward into this toilet bowl, the water likewise is a Tsunami coming back hitting you on your rear end. You’re a mess and you need to clean up. You reach over to get the toilet paper, but Oh this is the Philippines. They for the most part (unless you are at a place that is well off or at a nicer mall that is not too cheap to buy toilet paper) don’t use toilet paper. If you are at a residence they would have a large bucket and a scoop with soap nearby which one can use a couple of scoops of water sort of wash yourself using your hand. (wash your hands please)Then you would get the soap in your hand’s lather up and, be using your hand get your backside all soapy. Then you rinse a number

th (3)

This Picture may or may not  necessarily reflect the Bathrooms of the Philippines lol

of times (You really don’t want to have a soapy backside and soapy underwear) and then you wash your hands and the soap real well. (It works real good even better than toilet paper)    (IF YOU HAVE THE RESOURCES TO DO IT BUT WE DON’T) So now, You are sitting on a dirty toilet rim of a dirty toilet in a dirty CR wondering what you ar going to do. At this point, you only have a few options. You can hope that someone comes into the stall  next to you and is willing to let you borrow some toilet paper, (Oh ya, the stalls beside you were out of service … oops) If it has a flusher (Better check, some do not and require water in a tub with a  scoop) you can flush the toilet and use otherwise (GROSS) you could use the water from the toilet bowl to wash yourself and flush again. You can hope that you are traveling with a relative or that an attendant comes in and will find some toilet paper but that is unlikely . (They often will have a dispenser of packages of toilet tissue (similar to our tissue we use for our noses that are wrapped in plastic.) for sale for p50 Lang (only). (OF COURSE, WE FAILED TO SEE THAT AS WE WERE IN SUCH A RUSH !!!!) the options are few and between but somehow the Filipinos are ready and prepared.  You finally get out of the stall and go to wash your hands. You look and there are five sinks. One with No sink (porcelain broken) another with no faucet, another with no Tap handle (to turn on water) another with no drain pipe (water just runs onto your feet) and the last one all the taps faucets etc are missing. Oh did I mention No Paper towel in this CR.

 

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog as much as I enjoyed writing it. The Stories have been exaggerated just slightly but not much. I thoroughly Enjoy the Philippines and see everything as an adventure.  You never know what new experience is coming next. If you can’t do anything about it, you might as well enjoy it and just have a good laugh. Take care of yourselves and I look forward to seeing you at the next blog. Comment Comment Comment, Please!!!!

 

TO BE THE VERY BEST

My son Jerome, he loves swimming. We’re not just talking playing in a pool but competitiimagesve swimming for his school. He is good at it and he is dreaming big.  He wants to earn a lot of medals winning at swim meets and he could do it too as he has the determination the skills and the drive to do it. I don’t want to discourage him; i want him to set his goals high and keep striving to get better and better all the time. It reminds me of how the Bible describes our spiritual race and the mindset we are to have for it in this life.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb 12:1-2. Now that’s something to strive for.

“THE WHEELS ON THE BUS GO BACK AND FORTH … ALL DAY LONG”

So,  another ExperiencFilipino Bus1e and you are looking for a whole lot more (Perhaps something on the Milder side would be better though eh?). What could happen on a bus you ask?  Well … we will get to that.  First I need to preface my comments with this.

 

There are a number of types of transportation in the Philippines Jeepneys, Trikes, Taxi’s, Shuttles, trains, City Buses and intercity buses. They are all safe. well relatively safe. I have no hesitation to put my wife and kids in a bus, trike, train, shuttle or anything else this wonderful country has to offer.  Like any other metropolitan country, with massive cities, it too has its share of disaster. Please note: the following is not intended to discourage tourism to the Philippines but rather have people see also the vast adventures in the Philippines. After all … “LIFE IS MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES!”

So let’s make it very clear, just like any other country, the Philippines has vehicular accidents. In the last couple of years, we have seen accidents where the train didn’t stop

bus crash 4

A BAD BUS CRASH

and crashed at the terminal, there have been a number of bus accidents involving other vehicles, people and yes, even causing a number of deaths. It is sad to report that I have heard at least three buses in the last 4 years going off of the road over steep embankments, over cliffs and killing most, if not all it’s occupants. In fact, there was a case just recently of that happening, and amazingly, a baby and a few others survived. They say two of the contributing factors was speed and being overloaded with passengers. It is extremelfull Intercity bus stuffed with peopley tragic when something like this happens, and disastrous especially when there is a loss of life. Even one life is too much! It should never happen and when things like this happen there should be serious consequences for the drivers and the bus companies themselves who put extreme pressure in terms of deadlines (sorry perhaps not the best phrase to use here (timelines), long hours, etc. They and the conductor are expected to have the bus filled or overfilled so they can make the most profit from a job that actually pays very liitle.  OK, ENOUGH OF MY RANT! TOO MUCH SERIOUSNESS!!!!!!  packed full city bus

 

It is nomotorbikes1t unusual to see buses, trikes and Jeepneys overcrowded and way past the capacity allowed. BUT HEY, THIS IS THE PHILIPPINES. YES THEY HAVE RULES BUT ALL TOO OFTEN ARE LOOSELY FOLLOWED AND YES IT IS ALL PART OF THIS WONDERFUL CULTURAL WEAVE THAT YOU HAVE TO EXPERIENCE.  VICTORY LINER BUS.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So you are getting on a bus and finding a nice seat. (I say nice because it is not uncommon for a seat to be broken so it stays in the recline position permanently or vice versa. You look around the bus and see a big TV screen at the front or if lucky a second screevendors 4n halfway back. It looks pretty decent with the seats all coordinated with the curtains. the seats, the floors, and aisles are for the most part clean and it looks like you will have a quiet relaxing bus trip. NOT!!!!! NOT !!!!! AND DEFINITELY NOT!!!!! BELIEVE ME, THE EXPERIENCE IS JUST ABOUT TO START AND YOU IN FOR THE RIDE OF YOUR LIFE. If you don’t believe me go to the Philippines, and try it! (I suggest however that you read this first lol). You got into the bus early and you found a conductor who’s English is not too broken and he explained to you that this is the bus you take to get up to Angeles and then you will have to switches buses there again to get to Capas Tarlac.  You thought you had tbuko pie vendorhem all fooled. You saw all the vstreet vendor2endors approaching you, trying to sell you buko pie, candy, pop, and water, nuts, hamburgers, hotdogs, various BBQ’d parts of Pork, newspapers, Sweet Filipina desserts, Coffee and Juices, seafood, banana cue, and so many other things and now you’re on the bus. away from them all. Or not. As people are starting to board the bus slowly you realize that some of these people are vendors now coming on to the bus to sell you these same items. There really is no stop to them. It’s like massive swarms of fliestreet vendor1s coming to your seat that you viciously swat away over and over again. Unfortunately, just when one group of vendors leave another group is there to replabananacuece them.  You almost feel like faking some real bad disease just to scare them all away so that they leave you alone.  Lol. The good news if there is something you need you will most likely be able to get it. So the bus starts filling up and filling up oh and did I say it fills up? Ok, it actually depends on where you are departing from as to how full it can be. But often when leaving a Bus terminal it will be quite full. Now, If you can imagine a greyhound bus with a conductor (takes fares), this is pretty well the Philippine intercity bus lines. In fact, there are some that operate out of Batangas Port our ferries port that are nicer than our buses. Well almost. You see If you were to continue on your journey you would after a bit discover that there are no bathrooms on these buses. This means that either nice bus 2you use the facilities at the stops or you have the bus stop and go on the side of the road.  Yes, it is not uncommon to see men peeing on the side of the road somewhere. Now, did I happen to mention that these buses are going what seems like three hundred miles an hour, weaving in and out of traffic, constantly passing other vehicles by going into oncoming traffic? Ode to sickness. (in the tune of ode to joy)

“sickness sickness how i hate you bus is fast the stops too few, vomit, vomit soon is coming slow down driver here it comes.

driving crazy, weaving through traffic, hits all bumps and up i go.

crazy drivers should be fired, slow down drivers keep us safe. we want to get to our destination, in one peice and still alive.

oh yes, and if you are near the back of the bus be prepared for bumps, lots and lots of bumps. I remember on one trip I had a real sore butt and a real sore head. the real sore head is obvious, I banged my head repeatedly on an already low roof.

Another song my 3 year old daughter sings “The wheels on the bus go round and round”  modified my yours truly,  me

The Wheels on the bus go back and forth …. all day long

The heads on the bus go bang bang bang … all day long

the people on the bus go barf barf barf … all day long

sing along with me if you know it

The people on the bus go brrr brrr brr … all day long

conductors on the bus go pay the fare … all day long.

conductors on the bus say it’s your stop … all day long

people on the bus go “glad we’re stopped” all day long

(I give you fair warning, Jeepneys, trikes, and buses are NOT  MADE FOR NORTFilipino Bus1H AMERnice busICANS.  THESE ARE SHORT, NARROW AND EVERYTHING THAT MOST NORTH AMERICAN ARE NOT. MOST FILIPINOS ARE BETWEEN 5 FOOT AND FIVE FOOT 6. ANYONE BIGGER WILL SUFFER.  DON’T SAY I DIDN’T GIVE YOU FAIR WARNING. Anyhow the sore butt is from coming down hard on myfull Intercity bus stuffed with people tailbone on the edge of the seat.  It sometimes feels like you are on some amusement park ride that throws you around constantly and you are paying for the nausea pain and suffering, not to mention high blood pressure and stress.

So you are getting on a bus and finding a nice seat. (I say nice because it is not packed full city busuncommon for a seat to be broken (to it stays in the recline position permanently or vice versa)). You look around the bus and see a big TV screen at the front AND if lucky a second screevendors 4n halfway back. It looks pretty decent with the seats all color coordinated with the curtains. the seats, the floors, and aisles. All are for the most part clean, and it looks like you will have a quiet relaxing bus trip. NOT!!!!! NOT !!!!! AND DEFINITELY NOT!!!!! BELIEVE ME, THE EXPERIENCE IS JUST ABOUT TO START AND YOU IN FOR THE RIDE OF YOUR LIFE. If you don’t believe me go to the Philippines, and try it! (I suggest however that you read this first lol). You got into the bus early and you found a conductor who’s English is not too broken and he explained to you that this is the bus you take to get up to Angeles and then you will have to switches buses there again to get to Capas Tarlac.  THEN THERE ARE THE AGGRESSIVE VENDORS. You thought you had tbuko pie vendorhem all fooled. You saw all the vstreet vendor2endors approaching you, trying to sell you buko pie, candy, pop, and water, nuts, hamburgers, hotdogs, various BBQ’d parts of Pork that we won’t mention(in this post),  newspapers, Sweet Filipina desserts, Coffee and Juices, seafood, banana cue, and so many other things and now you’re on the bus. away from them all. Or not. As people are starting to board the bus slowly you realize that some of these people are vendors now coming on to the bus to sell you these same items. There really is no stop to them. It’s like massive swarms of fliestreet vendor1s coming to your seat that you viciously swat away over and over again. Unfortunately, just when one group of vendors leave another group is there to replabananacuece them.  You almost feel like faking some real bad disease just to scare them all away so that they leave you alone.  Lol. The good news if there is something you need you will most likely be able to get it. So the bus starts filling up and filling up oh and did I say it fills up? Ok, it actually depends on where you are departing from as to how full it can be. But often when leaving a Bus terminal it will be quite full. Even when it is empty it desn’t stay that way, rather you will have people shoulder to shoulder standing in the aisles waiting for a seat to open up.  Now, If you can imagine A greyhound bus, this is pretty well the Philippine intercity bus lines  . In fact, there are some that operate out of Batangas Port when you are coming from ferries that are nicer than our buses. Well almost. You see If you were to continue on your journey you would after a bit discover that there are no bathrooms on these buses. This means that either nice bus 2you use the facilities at the stops or you have the bus stop and go on the side of the road.  Yes, it is not uncommon to see men peeing on the side of the road somewhere. Now, did I happen to mention that these buses are going what seems like three hundred miles an hour, weaving in and out of traffic, constantly passing other vehicles by going into oncoming traffic nearly avoiding other ones?  You see in the Philippines they don’t drive like us normal people, they for the most part drive absolutely crazy. Yes Crazy. They honk for every little thing and as I mentioned, Filipino drivers weave in and out of traffic and do things that most drivers do not do. In any North American country, they would be ticketed for aggressive driving,  unsafe lane changes,  and making illegal U-turns. They may be in an intersection and need to pull into traffic, Instead of doing what normal people do they will keep pulling the nose of the car out further and further into traffic until the other vehicles stop and then they can pull right into the lanes. Need to do a U-turn? No problem. Same thing. Forget about that other traffic in both directions is coming towards you or that the rules say no u-turns, just do it anyways and hope that you don’t get hit. Driving in the Philippines can be hazardous at best, but especially when you are in the bigger city centers, where driving resembles more a game of dodgeball. (I know I’ve driven here) The only unwritten rule is that the bigger trucks and other vehicles have right away.  Obvious isn’t it? Otherwise, you and your car end up looking like a can of sardines. Anyhow, I digress. Back to the bus.  oh yes, and if you are near the back of the bus be prepared for bumps; lots and lots of bumps. I remember on one trip I had a real sore butt and a real sore head. the real sore head is obvious, I banged my head repeatedly on an already low roof. (I give you fair warning, Jeepneys, trikes, and buses are NOT  MADE FOR NORTFilipino Bus1H AMERnice busICANS.  THEY ARE SHORT, NARROW AND EVERYTHING THAT MOST NORTH AMERICAN ARE NOT. MOST FILIPINOS ARE BETWEEN 5 FOOT AND FIVE FOOT 6. ANYONE BIGGER WILL SUFFER. I DON’T SAY I DIDN’T GIVE YOU FAIR WARNING. Anyhow the sore butt is from coming down hard on myfull Intercity bus stuffed with people tailbone on the edge of the seat.  It sometimes feels like you are on some amusement park ride going up, down, and side to side. Now to add to this mix, at almost every stop light, stop for passengers and rest stops you will have vendors coming on to the bus for a mile or two with you, filling up the bus further, pleading with you to buy their goods. (like that is just what you need when your stomach is upset right?) Remember there are no toilets on this bus. All these factors can make for a very interesting bus ride. Of course, the bus lines don’t want you sick (or at least some of them anyways) so they crank the aircon,       (that’s air conditioning that for those who don’t speak taglish(Tagalog-English)) to about -500 degrees (or so it seems). THIS WAY YOU ARE A POPSICLE THE WHOLE TRIP WITH ALL YOUR INSIDES FROZEN SO THAT YOU ARE NOT LIKELY TO DIRTY THEIR BUS LOL) (MY OPINION ONLY)

It is at this time I am reminded of that famous Disney song “Let it go”,

Let it go, Let it go let the vomit spew all out, Let it go, let it go, may your bowels and bladder let loose, I don’t care what people say, I stink, I’m wet, I never liked them anyway.

Sorry to Disney in Advance. Let’s hope they don’t sue me lol

Of course needless to say, when you get to Capas Tarlac in the middle of the province it is like +400 degrees (actually only 36 Degrees but feels like 40). It’s like arriving out of a freezer and walking right into a convection oven. You are alive, (this time) and happy to get out of that popsicle stand, but not so happy taking a dip into the lobster pot where in the hot season it is not unusual to need a shower 3+ times a day.

As you can probably tell, I exaggerate some. well, a little bit anyways. I hope you are enjoying the stories, the sarcasm, wit, and humor. If you enjoy this leave a comment, follow me… not literally, just this blog (stalkers need not apply) and let me know what you think. check out my other blogs too. Some are of a more serious nature and others light-hearted. take your pick. Ingat (take care)

If I offended someone, I apologize and hope you will continue to read my blogs anyhow lol

Copy Cat Gamer

Ever since Hannah was a baby she had an affinity for cell phones. She learned really early that she could swipe with her fingers left and right and that could make new pictures, Then, She learned whatDSC00172 button to push to get into the photos.  Next, she learned how to get into the music and go from song to song. Now she is into games, on Kids Utube, and so many other things. Oh, did I mention she can go into Messenger or into Skype, choose who she wants to message or do video call to and call or send jibberish messages (she can’t write yet)  send emoticons (she loves that) or do other things with/to the person she is calling, and do it all by herself? She is now 3 and can get around on a cell phone or tablet just as well as I can.

I say all this not to brag but to give a little preface to the story I am about to tell. As of late, she has really been into this virtual reality game “Moy” ( I recommend it as it is quite innocent) where you take care of this baby/child-like creature, making sure it get’s fed, plays, gets cleaned up and so many other things. There are approx 30 or more games attached to this all of which test one’s hand-eye skills among other things. I find it quite addicting although the music has a lot to be desired as it is just plain annoying. Anyhow, I downloaded the latest version on my phone and was playing it. I was playing the various skill games (My hand-eye coordination ain’t that great) only to find seconds later Hannah right beside me with the other phone, playing Moy and on the exact same game as I was. I would switch and immediately she would copy me and go to that game.  This repeated game, by game, over a period of about 45 minutes. There was no hesitation, no delay, she was right there switching games to that which I just switched to.

in Philippians 4:9 it says the following:

Php 4:9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—put these things into practice, and the God of shalom will be with you.

Here is the context:

Php 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any virtue and if there is anything worthy of praise—dwell on these things.
Php 4:9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—put these things into practice, and the God of shalom will be with you.

Wow, I have heard these verses many times, but it gave a new emphasis as a father of two children. Not only for myself, do I need to be really careful of the things that I out into my head and dwell on, but also for the sake of my kids, who are watching and copying me constantly.

Mat 18:6 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who trust in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck and to be sunk in the depth of the sea!

It is a very solemn warning but something we all need to think about.

th (1)

 A Millstone around  the neck 

 

th (2)

A Millstone