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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

on King's Creek Plantation, Williamsburg, VA

This morning, I received a call from a telemarketer calling for King's Creek Plantation, Williamsburg, VA. This isn't new, in fact, this is the third time this week. The person identified herself as Donna, which I highly doubt is her real name. Her voice was memorable, in that she spoke with less of an Oriental accent than most of her fellow callers. Along with that she called me two or three days ago. After her initial spiel, she asked how I was doing. I said, "What did I say two days ago?" She hung up. If she had stuck around, I would have pointed out that I said that King's Creek Plantation has been calling me for years, that I am on the Federal Trade Commission's Do Not Call List, and that I would report the call to the FTC. In years gone by, I have told them that I was disabled and have no money for purchasing their vacation time share, but that matters not to the callers. They are just there to get people to sign up for their free weekend giveaway. If I wanted their product, I couldn't afford it. They have called from phone numbers all over the country, except from nearby area codes. I imagine the numbers are all connected to somewhere in the Orient. Once I traced a number online, and it belonged to a local data equipment installation company. Thanks to modern technology, my smart phone saves the phone number and exact minute of the call, which makes it easier to fill out the complaint form of the Federal Trade Commission. I don't know how many that I have done over the years, maybe 50, maybe 100. Now, I wish I had kept track. It is ridiculous. Supposedly, the FTC can fine companies for doing this. Obviously, they don't fine enough. Since I, like most people, have a smart phone, which is an unlisted number, I don't know how they got it, or why they keep calling when I tell them that I am reporting the call to the FTC. I have been told that the CEO of the company appeared on the program "Undercover Bosses" (CBS) and, during the program, said that his specialty was running call centers. If that is his specialty, his ability must be graded for how much he doesn't understand that his policies bring contempt on his business by persons such as myself. Since I will never be able to afford his product, my distaste for his practices means little, but how he figures his harassment helps his business is beyond me.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Rick Santelli, Space Week, the creation/evolution standoff and boogeymen

This morning, 11/14/2014, approximately 8:30 am EST, I had CNBC on, and financial commentator Rick Santelli, speaking on the recent drop in oil prices and its effect on oil traders, said, roughly (as it was verbal, and a one time only broadcast, I wrote it down from memory as best as I could immediately), this: When highly educated people have any boogymen at all, avoid everything that comes out of their mouth, for the most part. About a week ago, my 8 year old grandson brought home from school his weekly report, which was poorer than normal. As an incentive to better work, he couldn't watch cartoons for the next week. There are other channels he is allowed to watch, one of which is Science Channel. In coordination with the attempted landing of a vehicle on a comet, they have been holding Space Week. This featured a number of programs on the end of the universe. I expect the normal bias to the scientific status quo on such programs, which they have assuredly delivered. I could not help but notice the number of times one of their guest astrophysicists used the word "perhaps" or another word indicating theory, possibility, and not fact. From logic class in college, one thing I remember is that if one has a group of connected if/then statements, and one is invalid, the whole argument if invalid. These people are much brighter than I am, (and were even before my brain started declining a few years ago), and probably know this (although, being natural science majors, they may have never had to actually study logic), but the problem is that they treat the intellectual Christian position as a boogeyman, to use Santelli's term, above. In the programs I saw, they once brought up the 1840's Bishop Usher position of the earth being 6000 years old. That is an easy dismissal of Christian thought, although, since I was never a part of an organizational church of the fundamentalist flavor, I have never known a highly educated person who held that position, except for one person who was an accountant and was going around giving a presentation on that view, done at a level at appeared directed to middle school students. I saw this on a college campus; I threw him a difficult question and he sidestepped it. The students sat there and said nothing, possibly in kindness to the person who arranged for his presentation. Of course, the opposite goes also. I remember seeing a TV program upholding the 6000 year "theory" which had a person who called himself a pastor speaking. In it, he (I don't remember his name), in somewhat addressing the difficult scientific questions concerning his thesis, said that he was a pastor, not a scientist. Then why don't you get a scientist who is a Christian? Unspoken answer: he doesn't have any, that there is another point of view, and the Christians who have training in the natural sciences are all over there. When I heard Santelli say that sentence above, it suddenly occur that both groups avoid the difficult questions like boogeymen, in part because the explanation goes over the head of almost all of us. To keep repeating in isn't, depending on the side, either scientific or apologetic teaching, it's public relations. At this point, its marketing almost in the same ilk as the Chevy commercial of about 20 years ago which featured cars at night in time lapse photography going around a freeway interchange, looking like a bunch of comet tails, and ending with an overweight woman dancing by a Chevy, i.e. no facts in the commercial except for stating the brand name. Scientists are in a sense scared of their inability to persuade a large portion of the population of their position, and the short earth creation folks the same. If I was thinking politically, I could have taken off in that direction with almost every national leader who has ever held power, but, as the political saying goes, all politics is local, and, therefore, eventually passing to another passing point.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What makes up an attack?

I was just dialing across my Verizon cable channels, when I came across the Destination America network, which was featuring a program called, "Unsealed: America's Conspiracy..." (according to the liner on the bottom of the screen. Verizon's subtitle for that current episode was, "U.S. military may be under attack by alien aggressors." I have a question: If the U.S. military was under attack by pacifist aliens, would they actually be under attack?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Quote collection

As I have said before, I can collect quotations because it doesn't cost anything, and Blogger analytics tells me these are some of my most read blogs. If you just stumbled across this, I believe the most important things I've written appear in the December 2010 to February 2011 posts. With that shameless plug done, here's some new ones: When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't have to do anything. You just let them talk. That's what happened here. --President Obama, on the Donald Sterling situation If you wanna have life you can't be hanging out with dead stuff. --Joyce Meyer Silence is golden. Duct tape is silver. Just shut up. --Howard Bragman, (again, in the context of Donald Sterling) Corrugated boxes tell us everything about the economy. --Michelle Caruso-Cabrera They put capital letters on the sign. That means they mean business. Or, maybe, it's nature's way of weeding out the timid. --unknown actor in a commercial. The actor delivering the lines sounded profound, bordering on epic. The problem is that it really means nothing. What was being sold? Beer If I answer the cell phone, will the ringing in my ears stop? --Woody Paige Money doesn't buy happiness, but it does (buy) a more comfortable misery. --Joe Kernan

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

On flea markets in South Hampton Roads, VA--specifically the new one on Oceana Blvd.

One thing I have done for extra income over the years has been selling items at flea markets. When I moved to the southern part of the Hampton Roads, VA metro area, the largest one was (and in physical size, still is) Ingram's on Military Highway. The first time I went with my son, who was selling that day, we arrived at 4:30 am to get a space. Over the years, it has gone downhill to the point that one can show up at 7 am or later on Saturday to get a space, and just whenever on Sunday. This is mainly due to the potential customers walking through the market becoming fewer and less affluent. I fully well understand that this business does not have the profitability to justify significant advertising, and in the case of this market, is a business secondary to the used car sales and repair that goes on in the main building on weekdays. It may have to do with a lack of, and crowded parking. I have heard that the local politicians do not like that type of business, but I don't know for certain about that. There are at least two other smaller ones on nearby off streets in that neighborhood, but I never sold at either or those. One of them has a manager who doesn't seem concerned whether people rent his spaces or not. Anyway, just recently, a new flea market started at 1243 Oceana Blvd. in Virginia Beach. I went there last Saturday. Because it is reletively new, the amount of customers has room for improvement, but it is a significantly less impoverished group, and I did relatively well. Because, as I have said in other blogs, my health is less than optimum, I no longer sell at markets regularly, but, as it is a tiny piece of cultural change in my area that can easily go unnoticed, I figured I would mention it. They are open Saturdays and Sundays.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Not quite book review--Part 1: The Spiritual Man, by Watchman Nee (first 28 pages)

A few weeks ago, I went to an estate sale, and picked up a copy of Watchman Nee's The Spiritual Man. I had a copy back in the 1970's when I was in college. That was one published in three volumes, and one of the three got lost over the years. Probably more importantly, I was going to an institutional church* of one of the centuries old denominations, so, now looking back, I am not surprised that I really couldn't get into the book and follow along with much of what Nee was saying. Further, as I look back, I tend to lean toward the intellectualistic side, and this book is specifically not written in that direction. Anyway, a few days ago, I started in on it again. I know that, since I have started writing this blog, book reviews appear to be one of the types of writings that get the most views. At about 650 pages, given that I can only read a few pages at a time, I'm not sure if I'll ever get through this. So, I figure that it may be best to make some comments about it as I read along, now coming from the view of having been much of my life in a western institutional church, and a few years outside of it and in a church, in the sense of an informal group that meets without corporation or agenda, other that to encourage one another in Jesus. As the name implies so much that one might miss it, such as missing the forest for the trees, the idea behind the book is to explain about being a spiritual person, as opposed to one living either on one's emotions or intellect. As I grew up as a believer around intellectual ones, and around extremely few emotionalistic ones (I got a couple of decades of opportunity to do that between then and now), I'm not sure I could have even understood what a Spirit-led balance between the two was, although I am sure along the line I have gotten the chance to walk along, or at least cross paths, with such examples. I was thrown off the original time I read it by the use of a word unique to this book, “soulical”. Realizing now that this book was originally written in one of the Chinese languages and much later translated into English, I am guessing that that language had a word for the proper qualities of the soul (soulical) and one for man whose life is dominated by his soul (soulish). I may be wrong, but after, in the last few years learning of words in the Bible translated in such a way that it fits the western religious status quo, as opposed to expressing the proper word for the context of a passage, I would be surprised if I was wrong (and I'm sure I'll write a blog if I find such out). The very beginning deals with an explanation of the terms “body, soul, and spirit”. More later. * Institutional church: what is thought of as church here in the western world, which usually includes a building or buildings, a meeting on the weekend that follows somewhat to exactly the same pattern every or almost every time, being legally formed as a corporation with special tax benefits, and one specific person who is seen as being the head of the organization, and usually gives one or more speeches weekly, provides a guiding plan as to what the organization does and does not do, and oftentimes gets a salary to do this, and the organization regularly collecting money to do all these things. I grew up seeing this as normal; I now see all these, albeit not prohibited in scripture, not in any way directed in scripture.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Book Review: Hard Sayings of the Old Testament, by Kaiser

There was a time in the past (I say this in that the website I am about to refer to no longer exists, as far as I can find), that Campus Crusade had called “tough questions” (I no longer remember whether it was .com or .org). Given that their main concern is evangelism, it contained approximately 30 questions which they were guessing would be the most problematical for a person who was not a believer, but seriously considering the claims of Jesus and the hisotric Christian faith. For the most part, they weren't really difficult questions to answer.
Some phrases can be taken different ways. So, according to the book, Hard Sayings of the Old Testament by Walter C. Kaiser Jr. (InterVarsity Press, 1988), what is a “hard saying”? In some cases, it is a statement that apparently runs contrary to what we feel to be the character of God. In other places, there is a more subtle problem, oftentimes one a believer without extensive experience with the original language, cultural context, or the history of the church easily would not realize exist.
The author, Walter C. Kaiser Jr., was dean at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. IVP, the publisher, has a dedication towards teaching that the historic Christian faith and intellectual thought can go together, from a postition of not being expected to defend any given organization's position, other than historic Christian belief, directed to persons as early in the faith as college freshmen. Obviously, if you have read any of my previous blogs, I write on topics connected with the flavor of “simple, organic church,” and, for a book written by a person outside that flavor, has quite a few statements in this volume that run congruent with this positon.
This book has 254 pages, but 73 chapters! This is because Kaiser has chosen 73 Old Testament scriptures, explains the problem, and gives a basic answer that is reasonably understandable by a reasonably intellegent person that doesn't have any studies in Hebrew or any theological subjects, in two to six pages, with the possible exception of chapter 5. As such, much like reading Proverbs chapters 10 through 30, where each verse stands by itself, and not in a literary context which verses before and after, the 73 chapters stand disconnected from the previous and next, except that they are in order of where they appear in the Old Testament.
For instance, in my opinion, chapters 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 23, 32, 34, 40, 43, 44 46, 48, 51, 52, 53, 62, 63, 66, 68, and 69 deal with Hebrew idioms and words, their multiple meanings, and believers and/or unbelievers misconstruing or mistranslating a meaning, possibly unintentionally, possibly intentionally. Chapters 1, 4, 11, 16, 18, 25, 32, 37, 38, 39, 54, 60, 61 and 65 deal with what a word meant then verses its current meaning and modern attitudes around it. Chapters 3 and 45 deal with the role of women as leaders among God's people. Chapter 5, mentioned above, deals with variances in possible Hebrew pointing. Progressive revelation and prophecy, theophany, directive verses permissive will of God, God's character verses God doing something that appears to be the opposite of that character trait, proverbial statements versus promises, the Holy Spirit in the Old Covenant, anthropomorphisms, obedience verses received or progressive revelation are subjects examined in the context of these difficult verses.
Kaiser specifically deals with the theology in the verses, and not with how differences in meaning between then and now came to be, as Barna and Viola deal with in Pagan Christianity, which answers some of those occurances that appear here.
With the small size of the chapters, this book could be used as a devotional, something to build or accent interactive Bible study preparation, and as somewhat of a reference (in the back is an index of scriptures referenced, but nothing to refer one to scholarly sources).
In 2009, IVP replaced this book with and updated, “Hard Sayings of the Bible”, which is currently in print.