The most consistently moving and poignant website- to me- is postsecrets.

In it, people anonymously are able to share their deepest secrets. Often, it is that One Secret that has has defined her or his life, that a person is able to share for the very first time. These secrets are shared on a postcard of the secret-sharer’s own design, and sent to an address in Maryland. Looking at the way these secrets are presented visually is sometimes even more difficult than reading the words of the secrets themselves.


A new collection is posted each Sunday. One of them this week is among the saddest I have ever read there because it represents, I’m afraid, the tip of an enormous iceberg of isolation and loneliness, being experienced by many, many people.


Years ago, at a prison ministry weekend event, at a point when the residents of the institution were relaxed enough to feel comfortable sharing real feelings, I heard a man named Monty say this (I am reconstructing this from notes I took quickly as he spoke, because I knew I was hearing something profound):

“All my life, I thought everyone was having a good time, except for me. When I was in the army, we’d go to bars and everyone was laughing. I’d laugh, too, even though I didn’t feel like laughing. I’d make jokes about women that I didn’t believe, because I thought they were what the guys wanted to hear. People liked me, but it was the pretend-me. It wasn’t me.

“It wasn’t until I’d been in here for several years, and finally made some real friends, that I found out that everybody in that bar felt that way. People feel that way everywhere. I was envying everybody, and everybody was envying me, and we were all laughing and none of us had a goddam friend in the world. Hell, that’s why we were in the army in the first place!”

In prison, irony of ironies, Monty had found a real group of friends. Their shared circumstances, and Monty’s own abilities to be vulnerable and honest, were the foundations of his new relationships. (Which would, because of the crime which landed Monty there, need to last a lifetime.)

Loneliness is a plague of the most widespread and severe sort. It is a plague born, in large part, by the viral cultural environment in which almost all of us live. We learn early on that it is our own bootstraps we must be pulling on, that the point of everything is winning, and that fun- good times- is the reason for living.

Our models in life are the two dimensional beings we see on television or at the movies who seem to have to have mastered those three ‘truths.” They’re happy like I wannabe, but can’t be. They’re on top, like I wannabe, but won’t ever be. They’ve got lots of friends, and I just want one.

The assumptions that most people begin to make, from the time they sit in front of a TV and are able to comprehend, are that there must be something wrong with them if they cannot be like everybody else. Insidiously, a solution to that personal assessment follows almost immediately: a person can buy their way out of their apartness. Thirty thousand scripted commercials into life, and the five year old knows exactly what kind of cereal, toys, soda pop, and clothing will make them happy, “like those kids.” (the two dimensional ones) Over the next 15 years, or so, they will learn that the thrill of purchased “victory” is either unattainable (poverty) or short-lived (there is always a new and better thing, looming). But by that time, the dies of American consumerism have been set, and the 20 year old begins his or her life as a continuing cog in the American Gross National Product.

The only real fulfilling relationships in life are with life. My personal circles of inclusion are almost crazily without boundaries, so what I say may be skewed for you, but I think all living things have the capacity to ground us as individuals in that which is fulfilling, meaningful, and satisfying. All living things offer us the opportunity to belong, “to be a part of something.”

And belonging really is the point. (“Let us make humankind in our image.”) It takes vulnerability to be able to say, out loud, even in secret, “I need to belong” because false bravado and superficial happiness are sub-strains of the infections of American individualism and consumerism.

Here are some living things to which persons can belong. I’m mentioning only a few, as keys to unlock what everyone already knows, but which is often buried under an avalanche of advertising and other cultural bullsh*t:

Belong to the forest, the ocean, a field of wildflowers. They are as alive as you, they will listen to you, and they will sing to you in return. Don’t go to them with any expectations. Listen. Stand still. And listen some more. (I learned from a local rancher- bless him- that if you sit very still for about 25 minutes, the animals- birds, rabbits, deer- will start coming near again. They were watching you; now you can watch them trusting you. It feels good.)

Belong to a living God. God’s not stuck in a book like many of God’s followers. God is still creating. Plant some trees, some tomatoes; learn how, if you don’t know how today. Help God do what God does! There are fellowships of people all over the place who are talking about God, often without even using God’s name. Garden clubs, rose societies, shoot- even cemetery auxiliaries maintain what is often the beautiful place in town. Clean the yard of the old lady across the street who can’t. Call the local Senior Center and find who needs a ride. Re-present God to someone who needs it!

Belong to animals. There are thousands of dogs and cats within a hundred miles of anyone that need adopted, taken care of, or whose cages at their shelters need cleaned. A dog’s love is unique (my personal prejudice) and I’ll shout for the rest of my life that a person can learn as much about God’s love from a dog as anywhere else. But I’ve got two cats I’m fond of, too, and I’ve heard that some people do, against all odds, prefer them over dogs. IMPORTANT: There is NO NEED to buy a name brand pet! In fact, please DON’T! Pick the goofy hound/shepherd cross that licks you through the cage at the belonged to him before he was born. And you know that.

Belong to people. Big Brother/Big Sister. Mentoring. Downtown Soup Kitchens. Habitat for Humanity. Et al., et al., et al. You will develop relationships in those endeavors, over time. You will belong. It may take a few weeks, even months, and those relationships may lead elsewhere besides the places you thought or falsely hoped they would at one time in your life, but you will be doing vital, necessary, important work. You can even be doing revolutionary work as a volunteer, by demonstrating to others that it is possible to jump off and stay off the treadmills others have designed for us to spend our lives on.


I know you do. Or will. Monty figured it out. I figured it out. If we did, then there is loads of hope for you.





If it rains or freezes..My Plastic Jesus

My Pink Plastic Jesus !


This was in my mailbox this morning- put there by a friend who knows me well enough to know that I would have fun with this all day..and I did.

It’s about 12″ high, and was constructed with appropriate reverence and awe in China of very durable plastic. I don’t know what area retail establishment Pink Jesus (known already and lovingly as PJ) manifested in, but I’m glad he did- and honored that he now has a hallowed home in Texas.

PJ has a secret, too. He is no mere ornament for the backyard garden sanctuary, no! He answers questions! Turn him upside down and he becomes this generation’s Magic 8-Ball ! Same setup: there’s a clear glass window at the base, and bobbing around in some blue liquid within, there is a polyhedron, each face of which is a different answer to whatever one’s questions might be!

Today at lunchtime I asked PJ if I should eat watermelon at home or go to Subway for a sandwich. The answer was “Have a nice afterlife!” I took that to mean I should go to Sonic, instead, and have a cheese dog.

Later, I queried, “PJ, so that I don’t have to go look, do I have clean socks for tomorrow?” Prophetically, he answered “No chance in hell.” Really! And, glory be, he was correct!

A little while ago, we took some pictures together around the house and yard. I’ll share those later. Right now, PJ and I have to discuss tomorrow’s sermon.

My life has suddenly become so uncomplicated ! From now on, I’ll always know WWPJD?

(Thank you!)

A Community of the Spirit..Rumi

There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street
and being the noise.

Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace.

Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.

Open your hands,
if you want to be held.

Sit down in the circle.

Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
the shepherd’s love filling you.

At night, your beloved wanders.
Don’t accept consolations.

Close your mouth against food.
Taste the lover’s mouth in yours.

You moan, “She left me.” “He left me.”
Twenty more will come.

Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!

Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.

Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.

My favorite poem by Rumi is always the one I have just read, but I do come back to this one more than the others. Each verse is a proverb, a koan, a meditative point which will change one’s present mood for the better, if it treated as the true spiritual nourishment it is.

(Thanks to Coleman Barks, This is his translation, rendered with love)

Reflections on..Kafka (again)

From The Essence of Wisdom, page 7

Franz Kafka: “The fact that our task is exactly as large as our life makes it appear infinite.”

I read something recently that enabled me to think- at least a little- about the concept of time on a universal scale. If the 13.7 billion year age of the universe were compressed into a single 24 hour day, do you know how long one of our 80 year old lifetimes would be?

1/10,000th of a second.

That doesn’t give me much time to get the things done which I’ve been putting off today, let alone those things I’ve delayed doing for forty years. It also emphasizes to me the time that I’ve wasted being angry at others or myself, regretting and wishing regarding the past, and worrying and fretting about the future. Those were all dead issues to begin with but I have worked overtime many weeks keeping them alive and hot on the front burner of my mind.

“Someday, someday,” I would mindlessly mumble to myself in the past when I considered learning Spanish, writing a novel, learning French, or sending a thank-you card to Auntie Helen for a cake she mailed to me in 1971. (She died in 1985, never having gotten that card, either). But the “somedays” these days, are a whole lot fewer than when I was 14 and told a friend who wanted me to play bass in his band that I was too old to start taking guitar lessons. I have a sense of the finity of the somedays left to me at this point, even without knowing the specific number of them .

When we are five years old, next Christmas is 20% of our lives away- a long, long time; when we’re fifty, it is only the equivalent of 2% of our life away! It really does come around faster and faster each year, according to our body clocks. And that realization sends many of us the refrigerator for another beer, to the couch for another thirty minutes of a sit-com we’ll remember for ten minutes after it’s over, or into yet another mental bouillabaisse of leftover regrets, worries, and wishes, with a dash of salty tears.

Here’s what I’ve been doing, better and better, over the last several years, that has involved lots of time- not a second of which I consider wasted, misused, or lost:

  1. Looking around: There is not a single hour during the day when there is not something new, interesting, or weird to be discovered in a tree, in the yard, or under a rock. Today I watched Zero, one of our cats, try to catch a hummingbird. She didn’t have a chance and I decided that hummingbirds may be the most fearless birds on earth. And I saw (and am still watching) three toads on the back step eating June bugs (who don’t know it is July. And didn’t care, right up to and including those moments they were being swallowed.)
  2. Looking up: I can’t keep my eyes out of the sky, because my imagination follows right behind them. I am not an astronomer. I am physically starstuff and somewhere out there are my physical ancestors. And they are backlit by 13 billion year old light. And they are big, and faraway, and mysterious, and we’re getting to know each other just a little bit better.
  3. Reaching out: Every single living thing is programmed, gifted, destined, and trusted enough to do that all the time. But I, like many others, learned somehow- perversely and dangerously- that it’s better not to touch, embrace, speak, or be vulnerable to others in any perceivable way. Now, if I can put two people together into the beginnings of a community, or stimulate the growth of any real community in some way, it has been a glorious, God-perfect day.

Follow me around for awhile and you might think you’re following a four year old, and maybe you are. I’ve missed too much. The somedays will run out before I’ve seen it all, but that- I know now- is absolutely the last reason to stop.

God’s gotten much, much bigger during this whole process, too. God doesn’t follow me around quite as much as I thought; it feels more like I’m following God in all of this.

What a concept!

Killing for Jesus..

I’m not a hunter, just so you know. But I occasionally fish and willingly accept the packages of meat hunter friends give to me. If you’re going to eat it, and it’s not endangered, or it runs across the kitchen floor on six legs, have at it. That’s not what this little rant is about.

Here’s what it is about:


This is Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth. He likes to kill animals- lots of them, the kind you can’t eat, but which you can call “trophies.” His Southwestern profile page used to contain many pictures of the tons of formerly live, free, usually African animals which have now had their hides stretched over styrofoam forms with glass eyes replacing their real ones. Apparently, others were as aghast as I was over the slaughter of God’s other creatures, because those pictures are long gone from the site.

Patterson’s not alone in his desire to see elephants, giraffes, lions, and cheetahs dead so he can lean in against them while they are still warm and bleeding. There are any number of Christian and non-Christian organizations dedicated to the extermination of exotic animals. I just happen to find the ones doing it in the name of Jesus particularly repugnant.


(What is that little animal toward the front there? A lion cub? The family dog gotten old and useless? A lamb?)

Patterson sponsors special gatherings around the United States for fathers and sons called Sportsman Safaris. Here’s what he stated at a recent safari in Arkansas as being the Numero Uno problem in America today:

“That problem, is a war against boys and the establishment of laws to prevent men from hunting and owning has produced a generation of fathers disconnected from their sons,” he said. The article, posted at Southwestern’s website, goes on:

“But Patterson said he believes dads can still give boys what they need, and that when fathers provide for their sons the nation is strengthened. Little boys, he said, need three things: a dog, a gun and a dad.

“Every little boy needs a dog,” Patterson said, “and not a little yip dog, but a big dog that he can be proud of.”

This is the stuff of Christianity in America, 2007. Read it and weep, or laugh, or join me in feeling like I need to vomit.

The Gospel of Thomas..a reflection

From the Essence of Wisdom, Stephen Mitchell, page 6

The Gospel of Thomas: “If you bring forth what is inside you, what you bring forth will save you. If you don’t bring forth what is inside you, what you don’t bring forth will destroy you.”

I turn the page of The Essence this morning and here is this, a gift perfectly timed, from Mitchell who chose it, Thomas who recorded it, and Jesus who spoke it.

There are things we know, even without questions preceding them. They are things that have been built from the words of 10,000 authors, a thousand conversations, all the music we have ever listened to, every dawn we have ever witnessed, every sadness we have endured, and every single one of the joys that have made us smile, laugh, wonder, anticipate, and be thankful.

They are the things connect me to you, to every person on the planet, and to each part of the universe. They are shaped by the God-image in me; thus, they are unique and how dare I demand that anything about myself be patterned precisely in the Image from which you shine. The Image of God in you is differently shaped, and uniquely yours.

We share so much, given to us in such abundance by the 14 billion year history of the universe. And yet we allow those tiny, tribal traditions- the smallest fraction of who and what we are- to separate us, categorize us, frustrate us, and keep us dying within boundaries that should not, must not, be. We are being destroyed by denying the allure, the attraction, the love between us and all things.

The moon calls to the oceans and the oceans respond. The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are on, in these moments, a co-mingling, gravitational collision course, born of their intrinsic nature to be drawn together, in which this part of all-that-is will be recreated and begun new all over again. The cicadas call to each other in the treetops- a billion year old beckoning to reproduce, to continue, to live. Food and water will attract us throughout the day, as will the eight times a minute desire to feel the oxygen aspirated by trees, grass, kelp, and flowers, filling our lungs. We yearn for, desire, need, and want; we are formed for community. It is basic to who we are and how we live and it not something apart from us that we choose. It is vital. The connections between ourselves and everything else, from the Flaming Forth of the universe to the photosynthetic activity of each plant on the planet, from the people close to us whom we most cherish to the smallest dying child in some place so far away we do not even have a name for it, from blue whales to the 10,000 organisms in a teaspoon of soil under our feet; ours was not, cannot be, was never meant to be, a solitary life.

I can sit on that which I know, and say nothing. Or I can dress it up in the binding and too-tight clothing of old traditions, and try to disguise it in more palatable and presentable concoctions. I can continue, as I once was, to be frightened and to let fear constrict the Image of God in me. I can do those things- I am practiced at them- but they will destroy me. I have felt that destruction too many times, and cannot go back to it.

But if I add my small voice to those of the visionaries- the lovers- who saw, knew, and prophesized, and who dared to say that we are all- everyone and everything- parts of a living whole, then I am alive, and I am saved from the hell humans- me among them- have created. I can emulate and even acquire the ravenous ego of a Caesar, or a Hitler- those instructions and those monstrous abilities are imbedded in me, in all of us. Or I can emulate the fearlessness of St. Francis and empty my pride daily on the public square.

I can imitate the robber barons and acquire, seize, and hold, all of that which my intellect and finances will allow me to. It is easy to do so; I will feel safe in doing so, even applauded for doing so. Or I can imitate John Wesley and live a life with the daily intention of dying with no more than that with which I was born.

I can curse the darkness, scream at it, damn it; or, I can learn gratitude in all things like Nelson Mandela, who sat unfairly in the twenty year prime of his life, in a prison cell.

I can do those things and much more; I am capable. Or I can, simply, follow Jesus into a life of connections. And I’m getting better at it,

I think. I hope.

Wittgenstein..a reflection

From The Essence of Wisdom, page 5

Ludwig Wittgenstein: “The truth can be spoken only by someone who already lives inside it; not by someone who still lives in untruth and only sometimes reaches out from untruth toward it.”

I was watching one of the Dish channels the other night- one of the channels “on beyond zero” where the Good Samaritan Network and Brigham Young University exist in perpetual broadcast limbo. There is a teacher training station among that group that features lectures which demonstrate to high school teachers how to teach algebra or how to maintain discipline in the lunchroom, etc. And among the “etceteras” is the occasional motivational speaker.

Why? I don’t know. I understand the real estate and insurance industry’s need to keep their entry level personnel hyped up on goal-setting and being positive about day after day of fruitless cold calls; and I know there is a strange stroking of one’s own ego involved in buying a $99 ticket to hear Anthony Robbins or Donald Trump treat a whole theater full of mid-level managers as confidants on the way to the kind of success they have “enjoyed.” But motivational rah-rah-blah-blah-blah for high school teachers?

The particular motivational speaker used by the group that runs this channel, and it is always the same guy, brings immediately to my mind the character made famous by the late (and truly great) Chris Farley. He played the motivational expert on “Saturday Night Live”, hired by parents for their lackadaisical teenaged children, and who “lived in a van, down by the river.” Same ill-fitting suit, same pseudo-expertise, same tired hustle. Only in America is there enough call for motivational hypists that they have coagulated into a group that can so easily be stereotyped.

The teacher channel guy is no exception. He is learnedly confidant, practiced at exuding expertise, and is able to mimic the nuanced professionalism of the first level motivational speakers, like Robbins or Wayne Dyer. And he is full of stories. He is full of stories about human transformation of which he was a part, and which he was sensitive enough and experienced enough to recognize and stimulate in those less-than-full achievers who had been fortunate enough to come near him. And he is full of baloney (or bologna, for those of higher epicurean standards).

I hear preachers do this, too, and too often. They make up stories to fit the occasion. There are even (trade secret coming!) books- many of them- full of these stories, grouped under topical headings: evangelism, healing, salvation. Or, they are published to correspond with lectionary topics of the week. It’s Advent again? Here, on page 188 of Inspiring Stories, is the beautiful story of a young mother who had nothing to give her little boy for Christmas. So, together, they made Christmas cards for shut-ins and delivered them on Christmas Eve. It was the greatest gift she could have given the boy and he remembered it the rest of his life.

I’m not kidding. And you know I’m not kidding. You’ve heard that kind of blather, too, and you should no longer feel embarrassed for thinking that’s what it is because, 99% of the time, that’s exactly what it is. I don’t know why preachers, teachers, or motivational speakers would ever need to reach into a book for fictional reinforcements for their stories. If they are teaching or preaching or practicing Truth, then even the most mundane, ordinary, and common elements of their environments will reinforce those that Truth! If they have kept their eyes and hearts even half open during a few years of their lives, they will have seen the transformative nature of each day, each new birth, each new sunrise.

Here, try this, our lesson for the day:

Matthew 7: 7-8: Ask and it shall be given you, seek and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

It was 4 a.m. and Leona arrived home from her job at the night-shift in the emergency room exhausted and ready to give up. She could feel her little boy, just six weeks from being born, stirring inside of her as she plopped down on the couch. She stared at the wall, wondering if she could it make in this new world of being a mother, alone. Her husband, Diego, had been six months already in Iraq, and she hated that he would miss their son’s birth. She cried out, “Please, me,” and began to cry.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. And yada, yada, yada, you know the rest of the story. If you don’t, just make up a blazing finish to the story because that’s exactly how it began. You’ve heard the story, or a variation of it, a hundred times before, and the tragedy of stories that are made up is that they usually have never happened to us in that same way. We can’t relate. So we get frustrated that our own prayers aren’t heard as quickly as Leona’s, or that our own sense of discomfort seems never to be alleviated. My own stories never have the neat beginnings and endings that Pastor Bob’s do; there must be something wrong with me!

Now, try this:

Matthew 7: 7-8: Ask and it shall be given you, seek and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

The backyard is a mess. The dogs have chewed up a Reader’s Digest and the slats in the fence still need replacing. But the pecan tree is filled with doves this morning, listen. The same sunlight that is falling on the neighbor’s landscaped lawn and on the cloud forests of Ecuador is casting light across my back porch, into the kitchen window, and onto my face, see? The clouds- last week’s rain showers- are rising in white, billowy, perfection and I’ve seen them a thousand times before but this is the first time, ever, that I’ve seen these clouds, this day, and everything in the world is new and I am new and now I am ready to breathe again, begin again, and live another of the gifted days I been given.

That sounds exactly like my backyard. But it also is exactly like the sun on my face, the birds in the trees, and the clouds rising far, but near, above me. I can derive strength, real strength, God’s breath-blown strength from that which is true. And I can remind myself of it ten times today, or a thousand times today if I need to, simply by looking, and listening, again.

Truth is everywhere. It is pushing through, upward and outward all the time, in as many places as we take time to see it. It doesn’t cost $99 for a ticket to see, and you don’t have to go to an auditorium and sit with a thousand people who are starving for it, and you don’t have to have it presented to you in new wrapping paper and skillfully tied ribbons.

Watch for those birds, and listen to those birds. Listen to the rain today, if it rains, or stop and be amazed beyond your ability to put into words- don’t even try!- the swirl of a sunflower’s petals and the spiral of seeds within its center. Or look at the grass pushing its way through the cracks in ½ inch thick concrete. That’s Truth. And I’m betting that it’s a Truth you can own that Donald Trump will never own. And I will not listen to you try to tell me that the Donald is richer than you are.

Worst Commercial Ever?

This has nothing to do with anything. But I offer it here in the belief that if you have something to laugh at on Monday morning, then laughs might come easier throughout the week..

How could anyone stay away?? It’s just like a mini-mall, after all, after all..It’s just like, a mini-mall, c’mon down, come down y’all..

Rilke..a reflection

The Essence of Wisdom, page 4-

Rainer Maria Rilke: “Most people have turned their solutions toward what is easy and toward the easiest side of the easy; but it is clear that we must trust in what is difficult; everything alive trusts in it, everything in Nature grows and defends itself any way it can and is spontaneously itself, tries to be itself, at all costs and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must trust in what is difficult is a certainty that will never abandon us.”

I don’t know how so many people can get by during the day and not seem to question anything. Frankly, I admire- a little– those who are able to be satisfied with someone else’s rules; it would probably make life less confusing and a little easier to navigate, to be sure. But, for me, anyway, it wouldn’t be much fun either, and the fun in questioning outweighs (again, for me) the passive acceptance of the ways things are.

I’ve paid a lot of seat belt fines for having that attitude. Why must I wear a seat belt on residential streets where I am driving between 15 and 20 mph? I suspect the reason is municipal revenue raising and fine quotas, rather than concern on the part of any police officer for my personal safety. But that’s one of the practical downsides of always being stubbornly stuck in the questioning mode.

On the upside, I learn a lot of stuff. One example that applies to my profession and which you read about frequently here, is my thinking about the Bible. Agreed, it would be easier for anyone to believe that the various books of the Bible were written with lightening from heaven on a rock, or spoken in God induced trances by the prophets, or dropped, perfectly translated and edited in Zip-lock baggies, onto the desks of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But- for me- all of that would negate human interactions with God and reactions to God over time. And that is what the Bible is an imperfect record of.

Yikes! Imperfect?

Of course. The original languages the Bible were written in are ancient ones. Scholars of biblical translation will always have arguments and make necessary concessions about specific words and phrases. Does a comma go there, or there? And is this a new paragraph, or not? Since there were no grammatical marks in ancient Greek, sometimes it’s just a guess. And what about these verses at the end of Mark, or this 8th chapter of John? (They don’t ‘fit’ their contexts at all and don’t even appear in the oldest manuscripts.)

And speaking of manuscripts. None of these books went from the author to the printer. The New Testament gospels and letters would have been carried around for years before being copied by whoever was nearby that knew how to read and write and was willing to laboriously copy the text onto another vellum or papyrus with a sharpened stick or feather quill. And mistakes were made. All of the oldest copies we have of these books are copies made between 100 and 400 years after the originals were written, and multiple copies of the same passages reveal numerous floating commas, varying breaks in stories, and even additions, or subtractions. The original copyists, after all, were amateurs, recruited to do this work, probably voluntarily. Only several hundred years later did the professional factories of transcribing monks begin to appear, who would continue to do their hand copying at least until the 16th Century when printing presses began to appear. (Each of them manned, I need also to note, by different human typesetters of varying educations and skill levels.)

Most of those grammatical and contextual problems can be dealt with, however. We will never all be in agreement with the exact meaning and ramifications of what is written there, but we can all be in the general ballpark. What causes some to call “Foul!” however, is the question of whether the Bible represents the “complete” knowledge we are intended to have about God. Many say it is. I and many others say it is not.

It would be easier to regard the Bible in the former manner. It would be easier for studying, making conclusions, agreeing with the doctrines of others, and deciding once and for all what the “rules” are if I regarded the Bible as everything I needed to know about God. But I can’t, don’t, and won’t. I cannot pretend I can relate personally or exclusively to the 4000 year old worldview of a nomadic people learning how to cope in a new agricultural economy. I cannot pretend, simply because it’s easier, that God brought the world about in a literal seven day week. That explanation made sense to a people who had no telescopes or microscopes, and who believed that the earth was the center of everything- everything being a big dome over a flat earth, and containing everything, including the stars, within it. But it makes no historical sense to me. (There are theological truths in those stories- and in abundance. But that’s another subject for another day.)

Over the years, various individuals have discovered more about the nature of the earth and universe. Many of them, too, arrived at conclusions which it would have been easier to not have made. Copernicus, then Galileo, initially kept their findings about a sun-centered solar system quiet. Even Einstein later juggled and fudged on some of his initial conclusions about the expansion and movement of the universe- they were hard findings to admit to; it was easier to ignore them in the hopes that they would simply go away or be found to be wrong. They jarred his personal worldview that the universe was finite and contained; they were hard conclusions so, for awhile, he took the easy, and wrong, approach to them- he hid them. (He later, of course, recanted, and said that those actions had been the worst mistake of his life.)

I choose to keep my mind open, all the time, to new information. That’s hard work sometimes and the temptation to retreat into someone else’s orthodoxies is real. But I cannot put a period at the end of any sentence about God. I cannot construct barriers around any set of beliefs because tomorrow there will be new information, new insight, and new light shining on what had formerly been darkness.

None of us want our doctors to restrict themselves to the medical books of the 17th Century. It would be easier for them, certainly, to reach into a bucket of leeches to cure our stomach ache, or to make some cuts on our arms to help fix our headache. At the time, there was a real medical basis for both of those procedures, but now we (and they, thank God) know more.

So I’m stuck. I’m stuck with a God that won’t stay still. I’m stuck with a God that is no longer adequately able to be described only with the metaphors of ancient peoples. I’m stuck with a God who has revealed some attributes and characteristics to me, but has many more for me to discover.

Blame God, if you must find blame for all that. God’s the one who put all those question marks in my mind. I barely made it through college science courses with a C! But as soon as I got serious about God, that old information suddenly took on a life of its own, and it doesn’t give any indication of letting up.

So, I guess I’m stuck.

Hallelujah. (I guess.)

iPhone- Will It Blend?

It was inevitable.

Blendtec found an early niche in viral marketing by blending all sorts of things, on camera, with their commercial blenders. They’ve blended marbles, rocks, a golf club, Happy Meals, and entire cans of Coca Cola. I guess those of us who have been following them over the last year knew this was coming:

iSmoke !

Yes, they’ve just ground up the $500 cost of an iPhone and whatever production costs were involved. But in the three days this video has been on Youtube, over 850,000 people have watched it! Do you suppose 1/2 of 1% of those who watched this video might buy a Blendtec blender sometime during the next few years? That number alone would equal 4250 blenders!

Not a bad return on investment at all. That’s been the power of viral marketing- ideas that capture the viewers’ imaginations are passed on through emails, text messages, and blogs like this one. We are seeing, in video form, using digital means, the ways ideas have always spread through human cultures. A good idea- coverings for the feet, for the example- happened once upon a time, for the first time. Others in that long-ago band of hunters saw the idea and began experimenting with bark, grass, and animal skin concoctions of their own. Gradually, standard forms evolved, were shared and seen by other bands and tribes in other places, were determined to be practical and spread across cultures and time, to this:


and this:


Ideas about blenders and shoes, like ideas about everything else, evolve over time. And as long as they continue to fill a function, they thrive. When they stop fulfilling a function, or when the culture they are part of moves past them, they die out. Just like shoes, someone somewhere in time had the idea to put a pot in homes in which to spit. Spittoons were found everywhere for that period of time during which they fulfilled a need. The culture passed them by and the idea of spittoons (hallelujah!) died with better medical understandings of disease control. (not to mention some slight increase in people’s aesthetic tastes!)

No doubt, the people who manufactured spittoons tried to argue against their demise by maintaining the illusion and hope, for as long as they could, that there was a continuing need for them. It’s not hard to read the writing on the wall, but sometimes it’s difficult..

Addendum: Sunday, July 15, 7:10 CT- the bidding for the blended iPhone on eBay is now at almost $1500. Looks like the production costs will be covered easily!