Friday, June 26, 2009

Response to Masoni's Appeal of Religion Part 1

By Rob R

The following is a response to the first part of Masoni's post, titled “The Appeal of Religion." I have written two responses to him before on The Barb Wire, but those topics also stood alone as independent treatments of those topics and did not require a reading of his posts. This one is not so independent, so to get the fuller context of what I'm responding to might require a reading of his post here.

I don't know that I will always post a blog topic here in response to all of Masoni's posts in his series on "The Appeal of Religion." It's just that this was a long response by me and I'd have to split it up since Masoni's blog is allowing only 4000 characters.

The idea of security or hope is indeed an important part of religion and specifically Christianity. The presence of hope demonstrates an epistemic virtue of religion. This was highlighted by Pascal's Wager. [ed. note by Barb to those who've never heard of Pascal: Pascal is the philosopher who suggested there is a wager or gamble involved in belief vs unbelief. He concluded life lived with faith is meaningful and profitable and HOPEFUL even if the faith turns out to not be based in fact --whereas a life lived as an atheist may turn out fine in this life but will be horrible beyond the grave, if Christianity is true. In other words, if atheists are right, neither side loses; but if Christianity is true, the atheist loses everything.]

Granted Pascal's wager has its limits as it doesn't tell us why one should become a Christian and not a Muslim. But this is not a problem if we know its place, and for other religions, we'd have different considerations.

So if Christianity is true and one follows Jesus, then he has gained everything, but if atheistic materialism* is true and there is no afterlife, little is lost. But atheists say that a full and rich life is lost to one of superstition and religious chains. The thing is, that claim is not consistent with the experience of many including myself. I've known unethical and/or unhappy atheists or secularists who live with little to no regard for religion who lived terrible lives and I've known exceedingly happy Christians. I myself am content, though I know I've got some ways to go. The fact that there are miserable and evil Christians whose shallow or distorted religion only makes their lives worse, and ethical and relatively happy atheists, is beside the point. The point is that it isn't consistently true that atheism leads to worthwhile living and Christianity doesn't.

In short, the atheist objection doesn't work, as it is one that is rooted in a non-universal subjective claim.

Pascal's wager may be construed as an argument demonstrating that when considering two views, even if the one that gives the least hope may be more likely to be true, it is still better to hold the view that gives more hope.

Now there is another problem with Pascal's Wager, however, and this also translates to a problem with Masoni's theory on the development of religion. Pascal's Wager, like much of modern Christianity, may emphasize life after death to the point where Christianity becomes a death cult where the whole focus is on what happens after death and apart from this world.

To demonstrate how wrong this is, we need to look at the historical development of the doctrine of life after death.

To many people's surprise, most of the Old Testament does not clearly teach life after death and, in fact, demonstrates that the ancient Jews did not think there was much of a life after death. They spoke of Sheol, but that was barely an existence, if at all.

Some examples are as follows:

The dead do not praise God,

5 No one remembers you when he is dead.
Who praises you from the grave (psalm 6:5)

10 I said, "In the prime of my life
must I go through the gates of death [a]
and be robbed of the rest of my years?"

11 I said, "I will not again see the LORD,
the LORD, in the land of the living;
no longer will I look on mankind,
or be with those who now dwell in this world...
18 For the grave [c] cannot praise you,
death cannot sing your praise;
those who go down to the pit
cannot hope for your faithfulness.

19 The living, the living—they praise you,
as I am doing today;
fathers tell their children
about your faithfulness. (Isaiah 38)

The dead pretty much don't do anything:

5 For the living know that they will die,
but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward,
and even the memory of them is forgotten.

6 Their love, their hate
and their jealousy have long since vanished;
never again will they have a part
in anything that happens under the sun.

7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. 8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun— all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, [c] where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. (Ecclesiastes 9)

So the ancient Jews mostly did not look forward to life after death. What they hoped for were blessings in this life and immortality through their children and a good name that would be remembered.

So why did they give a hoot about God and their religion? Because God was active in their history in explicit ways. God provided them with blessings and warned them that their unfaithfulness would lead to curses, and because their identity was based on their membership in Yahweh's people.

It was a few of the later prophets, particularly Daniel, who started to speak of life after death and resurrection in particular.

So what were these reasons for life after death? Just living forever is actually not a very high one. One reason was because they believed that the nature of God's love was so intense that he would preserve them after death. Specifically the view of bodily resurrection actually arose in part because of one of the reasons for believing that there wasn't life after death. That is the goodness of God's creation. The creation wasn't something to be escaped as some Christians today and ancient gnostics yesterday held. But the restoration of creation, of this world, is a part of the Jewish belief, and resurrection became a part of that expectation.

Another reason for resurrection that arose during the intertestamental period was vindication for someone who died a terrible and unjust death. As the tyrant Antiochus attempted to get the Jews to abandon their law by making them eat unclean food, he tortured 7 brothers to death, and their mother who witnessed this called out “[The] Creator of the world who shaped the beginning of humankind and devised the origin of all things, will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again, since you now forget yourselves for the sake of the law.” (2 Macc 21-3)

Most relevant to the heart of Christianity, the heart of the gospel, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is not that He did so that we could live forever (an important implication, but not the central point). It implied many things God was showing us-- that Jesus was right in what he taught and that he is the Messiah who will bring God's Kingdom in fullness to this world. It was also showing us that through Jesus, God has begun to renew the created order.

Now Masoni proceeded to compare the relationship with God to an imaginary friend. I'm not confident in the comparison, knowing little about the psychology/sociology of imaginary friends. I didn't have one as a child and my sister had one which did not function in all of the god-like ways that Masoni's “vlad” functions. What we remember is that her imaginary friend, “Mousey” was her scape-goat, so when she was accused of something wrong, she'd reply, “My mousey did that.”

It's not uncommon for atheists to allege that God is like an imaginary friend or Santa Claus. The problem is that there are too many dissimilarities between imaginary friends and the Judeo-Christian God. Imaginary friends of children, as far as I know, may have magical powers, but they do not have God-like powers. But do they provide a source of meaning, of moral reckoning, with worth for individuals and communities? Are they attached to a history and plan for the redemption of the world? No.

God, like an imaginary friend, (and wind, the laws of physics, dark matter, the rules of logic and minds) is invisible. Of course an imaginary friend is personal, but those are about the only common features I see. Neither are they on the same epistemic footing as many atheists would like to imply. And I suspect that most children know on some level that their imaginary friend is imaginary. But the same cannot be said of belief in God. Even many atheists insist that once upon a time, they were real, sincere, genuine Christians when Calvinists say they weren't or when any other Christians suggest their faith just wasn't authentic enough to stave off disbelief.

Masoni notes that when he believed in God, he didn't really heed Him until he needed Him and it wasn't a daily consideration. But this doesn't display a problem with God. This is a matter of spiritual immaturity. It was noted that one would not hold to his Christian belief at a strip club or while cheating on a wife. These are instances of faithlessness and backsliding or just the fruits of a shallow faith. And unlike the imaginary friend, a Christian can't just pretend that God didn't see these things. If he could, there'd be no need for confession and repentence.

The bedroom in general was cited as a place where we wouldn't want God. The reality of our faith is actually different. God in the Old Testament actually mentioned that He didn't want the Jews mixing worship and sex like their pagan neighbors. But it isn't the case that God is not involved. Sex in the context of marriage is a Godly activity, but it is one where we are not focused on God but on the other person in our marriage... as God designed. This is why Paul suggested that couples abstain from sex for short periods so they may devote themselves to God on a greater level. But it was only to be short because sexuality is still an important part of Godly marriages.

The union of marriage, including the sexual relationship, is part of our design for what it means to be created in the image of God. This is why marriage is so sacred. The sacredness of marriage explains why the Old Testament prescribed extremely serious consequences for violating this relationship.

Some of Masoni's next criticisms have more to do with theological determinism and are thus not relevant for all of Christianity. It's not clear that God has a best exhaustive course of action for every detail of our lives as opposed to a range of good options for which we are free to pursue. Masoni asks the question: why should we bother praying when God already has everything worked out perfectly? Besides the consideration for some Christians that God doesn't have an exhaustive plan but rather has allowed his creatures to make plans as well, our prayer is an essential part of the point of just about everything, and that point is that God wants us to have a relationship with Him. Prayers of all kinds, including petitionary prayer, contribute to that relationship.

So if God answers petitionary prayer with an affirmative, He is then called an errand boy by Masoni. I don't see why this metaphor is the best one to describe this relationship. A better one is that God seeks to be our partner. This is not an equal partnership, but it is a partnership, nonetheless. God is hardly an errand boy when successful petitionary prayer often may require that we seek God's purposes in our situations.

Masoni goes on to suggest that when God changes a situation, before giving thanks, we should consider that God caused the situation to begin with. Again, this more consistently applies to the deterministic view of God. I've given an alternative view in my post ”Three Problems of Evil.”

* I include materialism because materialism brings with it the lack of an afterlife. Atheism could still be consistent with life or existence after death as in some forms of Buddhism.

The Church's Response to Obama's Gay Month Should be WHAT??

To a Pastor and his board by a friend of mine:

I pasted this directly off the White House website - [We] are wondering how the church should respond to a president that largely ignores the National Day of Prayer in May, while declaring LGBT pride month several weeks later.

Do we have a responsibility to inform the church body of these issues, as well as give leadership in how to confront the culture?

We are also greatly concerned about how these issues will affect the church and para-church organizations in the near future (ie. the Hate Crimes Bill, the Fairness Doctrine, etc.) if we choose to sit quietly by and do nothing.


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 1, 2009

- - - - - - -

Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.

LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. LGBT Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country's response to the HIV pandemic.

Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration -- in both the White House and the Federal agencies -- openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism.

The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect.

My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States.

These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.


Dear President: We should laud the contributions of ALL Americans, not just those with abnormal sexual proclivities and diseases.

There is no good to come from such a declaration. They already are free to live in this unhealthy way; we ought not celebrate the lifestyle.

You think --as they want you to --that you are lauding THEM -that "gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender is what they ARE." When, in fact, it's what they DO. And what they DO has determined what they ARE.

How on earth does "bi-sexuality" qualify as commendable? the idea that a person has found they can be intimate with both sexes? Is this something for youth to explore? It is becoming so --a fad for the teen girls to kiss on the lips --for the observation of the boys they REALLY want to attract.

The diseases of promiscuity are not less of a risk by declaring a month celebrating abnormal sexual appetites.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Response to Blogger Candyly on N.C.'s Gov. Sanford

I wrote in previous blog about Canadian homosexuals wanting preferential healthcare for their unique problems:

How about embracing a healthier lifestyle, Folks? How much better if Obama would celebrate traditional nuclear families like his own! These are the ones we need more of --in order to be the mental health center for kids and adults --in order to produce children for the future.

Blogger Candyly answered: Like ultra Conservative Family Values Governor Sanford? That's the way to do, apparently!

No, his sin doesn't cancel out any other. Obviously Sanford would be hypocritical if he claimed to be strong for family values --as most GOP candidates do in order to get votes like mine.

I believe the Bible --where it says those who can't be trusted with small things can't be trusted with greater. In other words, if you can't be faithful to your wife and family, you lack the character traits for good leadership of a state or nation. That's why Newt probably doesn't have a chance to be GOP candidate for president. I'd vote for Huckabee or Romney first --even though I don't agree with Romney's religious theology.

There is conversion, however, but with a politician it may be difficult to recognize sincerity. Sanford may be a real Christian in his BELIEFS. Maybe "eternal security" belief about "once saved, always saved," would incline him to think he could get away with betraying his marrige vows and not pay an eternal consequence. For sure, if his wife forgives him, he is getting off easy. She needs to forgive him for her own sake--but by the Bible, she doesn't have to stay married to him. Adultery is grounds for divorce. God forgives adultery--if we are truly remorseful. But it's not easy to be truly remorseful over one's sin, once that sin has taken deep root in the mind/soul as a pleasure. Being sorry about getting caught isn't remorse. I felt this man might like to continue with the Venezuelan mistress. I didn't hear him say it was over. He should step down now --if a republican Lt. Gov exists to take his place. Had Clinton stepped down for Gore, Gore might have been president instead of GW Bush. Instead, the democrats looked bad to a majority, defending Clinton.

Chuck Colson is an example of one who truly converted --and would be trustworthy in any endeavor, I think. He heads Prison Fellowship, an international prison ministry --after coming to Christ as an adult. He'd be a good presidential candidate --except for age. I'm sure we have candidates of his calibre in the GOP, but I don't know who all they are. I know many, many moral men in positions of responsibility. I don't know why we have to elect rascals.

The difference between dems and GOP was brought out on a cable news show: Democrats don't make much claim to be moral or champion good morals, so they can slip and slide and stay in office as far as their voters are concerned--like Clinton-- and never be called hypocrites. After all, democrat adulterers live the way they believe, so there is no hypocrisy. GOP makes their values violators and hypocrites step down --at least until they can get another GOP in his place.

I've heard dems say, Well, "NOBODY is moral --everybody does it." but I'm sure you don't want to concede that about your husband, do you? It's not true of him, I dare say, raised as he was with Christian values --and it's not true of my husband either.

Qualification: we ARE all sinners and Jesus suggested all men are adulterers for having thought adulterous thoughts at times --making lustful observations at least --especially when women advertise their wares provocatively as in ever-present porn and immodest dress. Nevertheless, there are MANY MANY good Christian men who do not wallow in sinful thinking --who would never go to Venezuela to be with a mistress on Father's Day or any other.

Sanford never did say he had sinned against God --and he said more about letting his sons down --than about letting his wife down. He wept over letting down his Christian guy friends. His wife is probably so mad at him (for knowing what a jerk he has been for months, unable to give up an online girlfriend halfway around the world) that he feels less remorse for betraying her. He didn't cry about what he did to her. Those emails to the lover would be the last straw for most wives. So humiliating to a wife to have her husband salivating over someone else --and so publically!

It's a sorry mess.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Obama's GLBT Pride Month --June--the Traditional Wedding Month

Well, he's done it. IN the last days, the Bible says, men will call good evil and evil, good. That's what it is to suggest by presidential proclamation, as Obama has done, that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders should be proud of their abnormal, unnatural, unhealthy, expensive, family destroying, self-sterilizing sexual proclivities.

Should I be proud to be obese? No. Should addicts of any kind be proud of their addictions? No. Should we have pride-parades for having sex with our own sex? with both sexes? for rejecting the normal, healthy sexual bodies we were given in order to have surgeries to try to fool ourselves and others into believing we are the opposite sex? Is there really such a thing as being "born in the wrong body" such that we should mutilate healthy, functioning bodies into something else? Is the gay lifestyle healthy? NO, NO, NO, NO, and NO.

Canadian homosexuals are currently protesting that they don't get preferential treatment in Canada's healthcare system. They say that certain ethnic groups with high incidence of certain ailments get some preferential care; why not the gays whose average lifespan is now said to be 55 --much lower than heterosexual males? The lesbians have more breast and other cancers; the gays (males) are subject to all sorts of diseases unique to their lifestyle. And suicide. Therefore, they think they should get extra helps. They also blame all their ills on straight society which doesn't approve their difference.

How about embracing a healthier lifestyle, Folks?

How much better if Obama would celebrate traditional nuclear families like his own! These are the ones we need more of --in order to be the mental health center for kids and adults --in order to produce children for the future.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Open Letter to Pastor Art Cribbs

Rev. Art Cribbs and Official Board
San Marino United Church of Christ
San Marino, California

Dear Rev. Cribbs, et al:

We saw you on the news today in opposition to Proposition 8, apologizing on behalf of all Christians everywhere who oppose gay marriage.

We know this is nothing remarkable for the UCC, as they have long had such a stand in favor of gay marriage. It is presumptuous of you, however, to apologize on behalf of ALL Christians in the Bible-believing, Bible-following churches which the UCC is not--when it comes to social issues.

Perhaps you are under the false impression that homosexuality is genetic, an untruth that has fueled the gay agenda for years. Now the American Psychological Ass’n. has reversed itself and admitted that there is no proof to date for a gay gene.

Surely you see that it just isn’t true that any two people who love each other should be allowed to marry. E.G. we have laws against incestuous relationships, bigamy and polygamy, pedophilia and so on. There are limits to sexual intimacy. NO limit on love –but on sex? Yes. For the public good we have many laws regarding sexual union, such as outlawing prostitution, statutory rape, marriage between close relatives. Pedophiles, incestors, rapists and adulterers also feel “compelled” to “love” whomever they please; but we have outlawed and at least discouraged (in the case of adultery) some couplings for the common good. No pride parades for ALL love relationships. Homosexuality is one of those unions which we should likewise not encourage by celebration.

NO one is saying any two people can’t “love.” In fact, it would be greater love if they didn’t draw potential straights into their affliction –but they do, enticing youth when they are most vulnerable and sexually volatile. Real love is not inevitably or necessarily sexual love. Your advocacy overlooks the fact that homosexuality is unnatural and typically quite promiscuous in the beginning, causing many STD infections and much expense to sustain their lives. It deprives us of children for the future of national security, social security, welfare. The fewer children we co-create and raise to be responsible, tax-paying, procreating, faithfully married citizens, the more difficult to sustain government help for all.

We need to be teaching parents how to raise kids with normal gender identity and attractions. It can be done. The broken home has contributed to the gender identity crisis in our country --along with Oprah and others promoting transgendering and movie stars and comedians promoting gay marriage –like Wanda Sykes and Ellen DeGeneres.

Gay advocacy is a path we should abandon –and not only because God says so but for common sense, public health, and for “the common good.”


"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible


APA revises 'gay gene' theory
Charlie Butts - OneNewsNow - 5/14/2009 6:30:00 AMBookmark and Share

The attempt to prove that homosexuality is determined biologically has been dealt a knockout punch. An American Psychological Association publication includes an admission that there's no homosexual "gene" -- meaning it's not likely that homosexuals are born that way.

For decades, the APA has not considered homosexuality a psychological disorder, while other professionals in the field consider it to be a "gender-identity" problem. But the new statement, which appears in a brochure called "Answers to Your Questions for a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality," states the following:

"There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles...."

That contrasts with the APA's statement in 1998: "There is considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's sexuality."

Peter LaBarbera, who heads Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, believes the more recent statement is an important admission because it undermines a popular theory.

"People need to understand that the 'gay gene' theory has been one of the biggest propaganda boons of the homosexual movement over the last 10 [or] 15 years," he points out. "Studies show that if people think that people are born homosexual they're much less likely to resist the gay agenda."

Matt Barber with Liberty Counsel feels the pronouncement may have something to do with saving face. "Well, I think here the American Psychological Association is finally trying to restore some credibility that they've lost over the years by having become a clearly political organization as opposed to an objective, scientific organization," he states. (Hear audio report)

With the new information from the APA, Barber wonders if the organization will admit that homosexuals who want to change can change.

Matt Barber"It's irrefutable from a medical standpoint that people can leave the homosexual lifestyle," he argues. "Homosexuality is defined by behavior. Untold thousands of people have found freedom from that lifestyle through either reparative therapy or through -- frankly, most effectively -- a relationship with Jesus Christ."

LaBarbera agrees. "Change through Christ is possible -- and it's one of the most heartwarming aspects of the whole gay debate," he shares. "Many men and women have come out of homosexuality, mostly through a relationship with Jesus Christ. The fact that these professional organizations will not study that, will not acknowledge that, shows how 'in the tank' they are for the homosexual movement."

LaBarbera stresses that even though elites will not recognize the change, that does not mean the change does not exist. In fact, both Barber and LaBarbera believe that God changes people through Christ -- regardless of the sin.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Even Darwinists Doubt Latest "Missing Link" -- from OneNewsNow

Even Darwinists doubt latest 'missing link'
Pete Chagnon - OneNewsNow - 6/3/2009 6:40:00 AMBookmark and Share

A spokesman for the Discovery Institute says the alleged "missing link" find is nothing new.

Missing link Discovery Institute senior fellow John West says the recent fossil hailed as the missing link between humans and primates is nothing more than "hype." The fossil known as "Ida" was recently unveiled during a press conference in conjunction with a book, website, and a documentary that aired on The History Channel. (See earlier story and picture of "Ida")

According to a Sky News report, the fossil find debunks creationism and brings the need for religion into question. But West questions the find.

"And it's interesting if you actually look, many evolutionists themselves are saying that this was just hype," he contends. "Because in fact, evolutionists themselves cannot agree on what this is supposed to be a missing link to."

West says it seems like every year advocates of Darwinism come out with a new "missing link" that they claim settles the debate. But then when they take a closer look at the evidence, they start to backpedal. He claims that happened a few years ago with a fossil named "Tiktaalik" that evolutionists believed was a transitional species between fish and land creatures.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Johnny Hart Cartoon Collection--I Did it HIS Way

My husband just picked up a new cartoon book titled I Did It HIS Way by Johnny Hart --creator of the BC and Wizard of Id comics -- syndicated in 1000 papers. (Of course, we are reminded of the contrast with Frank Sinatra's I Did it MY Way.)

Hart started his career at age 27 --and became a Christian at 56 because his tv serviceman and son were Christians who tested his set with Christian programming and he got interested. He had been drinking way too much and subject to depression --until after he moved to the town of Ninevah (Biblically named for the place that Jonah did not want to go as a missionary.) That's where he lived when the tv guys came. He just died on Easter Eve in 07 --peacefully at his drawing board. He had made enough religious comics after his conversion that they compiled them in a book titled, "I did it HIS way." His cartoons speak to issues we have discussed here.

You might be amused that two of his girl characters are called "Cute Chick" and "Fat Broad." Fat Broad is always giving the serpent (Satan's symbol) a hard time.

Also, it is of interest that Hart received a lot of criticism for expressing his faith in his cartoons, but that didn't stop him. Trudeau of the Doonesbury strip expresses his liberal cynicism and politics and apparent agnosticism, but Hart wasn't supposed to be ideological.

It's also interesting that Christian TV played a role in his coming to faith.

His children and grandchildren inherited his talents and a grandson is the lead artist today, with his widow heading the business.

There are a couple of photos of Johnny --a short man at 5'6" and very cute with a most amiable face. The book says his children and grandchildren adored him. I bet he was fun to know.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Monday, June 1, 2009

Reflections on The Kite Runner

Our minister had been talking about this movie, so we rented it. It was based on a book written by an Afghani man after 9/11.

It starts in the 70's before the invasion of that nation by the Communists from Russia. Two little boys are best of friends; one is the son of the family servant of the other boy's father. The servant boy's family has been with the aristocrat's family for generations.

Kite-flying is a sport for children in Afghanistan, apparently. And the sport involves "cutting off" the other kites so they are downed and there is only one kite still in the air. The "kite-runner" then is one who runs to gather the downed kites as trophies, apparently.

This is a story about cowardice and courage, shame and redemption, fathers and sons, immigrants, exiles, and also great evil from without a nation--and from within.

One memorable line is something like, "The mullahs want to control our souls; the communists tell us we have no souls."

This film should be seen by everybody --adults that is --including those GITMO detainees and those liberals who think there is no evil in the world that would justify a war effort. It has a PG13 rating, but I wouldn't show it to my middle school students because of some of the evils depicted.

The hypocrisy and cruelty of the Taliban (such as are the detainees at GITMO) is not emphasized by Geo. Bush in this case, but by an Afghani-American who wrote the book.

American Islamic families, a wedding and repentance before Allah are demonstrated. There are some twists and turns toward the end that redeem a sad story --concluding with hope for the future.

There are also orphans in the story living in great poverty and peril --and I understand our pastor's interest in that theme --since he and his wife brought home their little adopted son from Ethiopia.

While not exactly a cheerful story, it is inspirational and the ending is hopeful.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Doc and His Mother-in-Law

As some of you know if you've followed this blog, my mom has been with us since Valentine's Day and she is afflicted with dementia at 89 --which has been coming on for several years. She told me on the phone that day that she was feeling "sort of lonesome," so I invited her here. Rob went to get her, a three-hour drive. She would usually say she has too much to do to come visit us, so her visits were very rare.

I found I had to help her with shower and dressing because she hasn't the strength to open the shower door or turn on the faucet. I hold the shower head, one of those with a hose and a slider. She didn't seem to mind me doing this from the first, though she doesn't see the need of it.

On Sundays, I have to get her ready and then me. Rob or Jon does the breakfast for them while I run off to music and teaching duties at church. Today, she wanted to wear her old, fuzzy, pilled periwinkle blue sweater with her aqua slacks --which clash color-wise. But it's her favorite outfit. I guided her to a cotton knit navy blue slacks with white shirt and a navy and white striped cotton sweater that I bought for her. It's very springy, contemporary and nice-looking on her. She usually says, "I can't wear this!! It's black! I can't wear these stripes!!!" On Sunday, I also hide the fleece jacket she lives in all week because she's always cold. She has a London Fog jacket that looks nicer for church.

Tonight, Jon said there was a funny story about my mother that happened after I left this morning. He heard this huffing and puffing headed toward the kitchen and thought my mom was having trouble breathing. He said, "What's the matter, Jane?"

"(huff, puff) O I just hurt all over. (huff,puff) I can hardly walk. It's my hip pain. It's all my joints."

"Show me where it hurts."

"(huff puff) it's my stomach, right here. Well, (huff, puff, huff, puff).....what it is --I'M MAD!!! I'm mad at Barbara. I don't see why I can't wear whatever I want!" (She was also mad earlier about the hairdo from the hairdresser --for some reason it wasn't just right. Said, "That girl oughtta be fired!" )

"Well that looks really nice, what you have on, " he said. "You know, Jane, as we get older it's just inevitable that our kids become more like our parents to us --and tell us what to do --and we become the kids. Sometimes my kids tell me what to do, too" (not so true that I can think of --except that we DO accommodate them when it comes to the grandkids and where to eat and things like that.)

Mom brightened right up and giggled at the thought of his kids telling him what to do, I guess.

Anyway, next thing he knows, she's whistling in her room and then singing the children's song,
"Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah! Praise ye the Lord!"

Miracle cure! Some Doc!

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible