Monday, October 29, 2007

Thy Word...

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Since some of our biggest difference sometimes is not in what the Bible says, but in how we read the Bible, I thought I’d post some thoughts on that.

Now, I’m no theologian. I’ve not attended a seminary or a Bible college.

But I have read the Bible a good bit. I’ve been part of churches where they teach it all my life and studied on my own, as well. So, these are my amateur thoughts. I think some of them are fairly straightforward and difficult to disagree with, but we’ll see.

What do you think?


1. The Bible never in any of its pages tells us to take its words literally - that is a human tradition. Inerrancy, infallibility, the Bible is perfect, these are all human takes on the Bible and not biblical teachings themselves.

2. The Bible never in any of its pages tells us that we MUST consider the 66 books of the Bible as "Scripture." This, too, is a human tradition.

3. "God's Word," is what God says. As such, it is larger and more comprehensive than just the Bible. The Bible contains God's Word, but God's Word is not wholly contained within the Bible. The Bible itself tells us that God is too large and wild to be contained by a building, that all the stories of Jesus could not be contained within its pages.

4. That being the case, we know that God reveals God's self in many ways, not just the Bible. The Bible itself tells us that God's Word is written on our hearts and in nature.

5. Of course, the Bible is not God, nor something to worship. If we elevate it to the place of Perfection, we need to be careful not to begin worshiping the thing describing God rather than God's Self.

6. So why this human tradition surrounding the Bible? It's certainly not without reason.

With much prayer and research and debate, Christian protestants have agreed that the 66 books of the Bible ARE scripture for us, God's Word for us. This is a point with which I agree.

The 66 books of the Bible are a special and unique revelation of God. I agree with that much of that extrabiblical teaching. That notwithstanding, I still understand that it is a human tradition to consider it as such and not something handed down to us from God's hand - nor did God audibly speak to the Council and say, "These 66 books shall ye consider to be my Word."

7. Just because many consider the 66 books of the Bible a unique revelation from God does not mean that everyone accepts the extrabiblical teaching that we must take those 66 books literally.

8. And no one does. I'm sure we all agree that we don't take the Bible literally literally. We recognize that some stories are parables, some are mythical in nature, some are historical, but not told in the same manner that a history book written today would be written, some written to a particular place in a particular time, that some places hyperbole and other literary techniques are used.

Yes? And that we must use our logic, human tradition and understanding to come to an understanding about what to take literally today and what not to take literally. Most of us don't advocate the Sabbath Laws, the Holiness Code, the Jubilee laws. We don't usually think we should literally pluck an eye from our heads, nor that we should "sell our goods and give it to the poor."

Or DO some think it all – each and every line – should be taken literally for our lives today? I don’t think so. I think we mostly agree that there needs to be some interpretation involved.

9. Similarly, the tradition of considering OT Law as coming in three flavors - some that can be ignored and some that are eternal truths - is an extrabiblical teaching - a construct to explain why we don't believe in literally heeding each and every rule written therein.

10. If we DO think we take the larger teachings (setting aside the parables, hyperbole, etc for a minute) of the Bible literally, then we have to say that God sometimes commanded or endorsed killing children, genocide, rape, slavery, selling your children, polygamy and a long list of nasty yuckiness that we reject today as being Moral or Holy.

Where in all that do we disagree?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pyramid Scheme?

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
NEW YORK ( -- The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and anti terrorist efforts abroad could cost the country $2.4 trillion over the next ten years, according to a report Wednesday.

The money, over 70 percent of which would go to support operations in Iraq, includes the estimated $600 billion spent since 2001, Congressional Budget Office Director Peter Orszag said in testimony before the House Budget Committee. That estimate includes projected interest, since the government is borrowing most of the funds required.

The $2.4 trillion would pay to keep 75,000 troops deployed overseas from 2013 to 2017. About 210,000 troops are currently deployed. It does not include the Pentagon's normal spending, which in 2007 is estimated to be about $450 billion.

The estimated $2.4 trillion works out to about $21,500 per American household.



This, from the fiscal conservatives???

Tell, you what: I pass.

No thanks, I'll keep my $21 k. Let's let the 30% (?) who support the war pay $63,000 per household (or however that math works out) and the rest of us will pass. Referendum time?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dan, Jordan Donna

Dan, Jordan Donna
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
My boy's been baptized. Outdoor at the end of October.

We figured he was taking a mighty bold step of faith, getting baptized outside that late in the year, but we had 80 degree weather today.

The water, I'm told, was not similarly warm.

Well that's it, boys. I've been redeemed. The preacher's done warshed away all my sins and transgressions. It's the straight and narrow from here on out, and heaven everlasting's my reward.

The preacher says all my sins is warshed away... Neither God nor man's got nothin' on me now.

C'mon in boys, the water is fine.

I'm busting with pride. Forgive my sinning.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Angel Band

Buddy, can you spare some free speech?

Storytellin' Dave
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
So, the city of Louisville, my hometown, has proposed an “aggressive” panhandling ordinance. Apparently there is an epidemic of panhandling aggressiveness of which I was unaware (even though I'm on our downtown streets every day).

This ordinance criminalizes the action of asking for money near banks, ATMs, schools, outdoor dining facilities, parking garages, bus stops and on private property. Also, near automobiles, streets, highways, parking lots, parks, playgrounds and/or port-a-potties! And never after dark (as defined by the Courier Journal’s weather page).

I kid you not.

Of course, what that means is that this proposal would make it criminal to ask for money anywhere downtown and in most of the outlying areas, since that list is pretty all-inclusive. I’m supposing that it would still be okay to panhandle from a canoe or other flotation device sitting out in the Ohio River – as long as there were no port-a-potties nearby.

But not after 8:18pm tonight (“after dark,” as defined by the law for this time of the year).

So call your homeless and mentally challenged pals up and let them know to meet at in the middle of Ohio any time after 8am and before 8pm and panhandle away. But, they’re only allowed one “panhandle” per person. Any more than that and it becomes “aggressive.”

I had no idea how serious this problem has become. And it must be serious, since we’re talking about restricting free speech rights of individuals, some who may well have served in Viet Nam to protect those rights (“Hey pal, help a homeless vet?”).

But how about this? Instead of taking the serious action of criminalizing free speech, what if we could find another way to deal with this “aggressive solicitation” problem which has become, according to the ordinance, “extremely disturbing and disruptive to residents and businesses” and has contributed to “enhanced fear, intimidation and disorder?”

Here’s my modest proposal: Suppose you’re walking along next to an ATM or Port-a-Potty when, suddenly – out of nowhere! – a suspected panhandler comes along. You avoid eye contact, looking at your watch or reading the signs on the Port-a-Potty, but it doesn’t work – they approach you after all and ask, “Excuse me, do you know what time it is?”

Run! Run for your…oh, wait, it was just a request for the time. Or was it? Are they trying to get you to give them your watch?? They repeat the question, thinking you haven’t heard. But there it is! A repeated request for assistance! Aggressive panhandling.

Quick! Call the cops…no, no, dang! You don’t have a quarter to make the phone call. I suppose you could ask someone – no! You’re still too close to the street and it would be a crime.

Okay, no problem. Just tell them the time and walk away.

“It’s time for you to get a job, buddy!”

But no sooner do you walk away when another one comes along. “Can you spare a quarter for a Viet Nam vet, pal?”

Listen closely, here’s what you need to do:

Say, “No.”

If you don’t wish to give him any money, just say “No.” Then walk away. Just like that, it’s over. And, on the outside chance he asks a second time, pleading with you, “Aw, come on, not even a dime?” Say, “No,” a second time.

Repeat as needed.

Call me crazy, but I think this just might work and certainly would be preferred over placing restrictions on our free speech.

After all, who knows when you just might want to borrow a quarter, yourself?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sour Grapes?

Wild Grapes?
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
So, Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on education about human impact upon the environment. And the gnashing of teeth has certainly begun.

Feel free to post here the funniest, saddest or most ironic thing you've heard from our friends on the Right about Al Gore's Nobel.

The first couple I've heard have been relatively mild and of the "Stupid Nobel people. Don't know nothin'" type of commentary.

(Not that this complaint is without merit - Henry Kissinger?? REALLY??!!)

Still, this should make for some interesting sour grape mashing.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Bible and Economics...

Beanblossom Covered Bridge
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
From Jeremiah...

"[The wicked] do not plead the cause, the cause of the orphan, that they may prosper; and they do not defend the rights of the poor. Shall I not punish these people?" declares the LORD. "On such a nation as this, shall I not avenge myself?"

Jeremiah 5:28

"For, if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever."

Jeremiah 7:5-7

O house of David, thus says the LORD:
"Administer justice every morning; And deliver the person who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor…”

Jeremiah 21:12

Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place.

Jeremiah 22:3

"Did not your father eat and drink, and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; then it was well. Is that not what it means to know Me?" declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 22:16

"Leave your orphans; I will protect their lives. Your widows too can trust in me." [God speaking]

Jeremiah 49:10

Thursday, October 4, 2007

With insults like these...

Beanblossom Mennonite
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
I just received recently what is perhaps the grandest insult I think I've ever had. Seriously.

Check it out:

Given the inordinate amount of time the Gospel writers devoted to the Crucifixion and the week leading up to it, and given the focus of the Apostles on “Christ crucified” rather than just His excellent ethical instructions, I must suggest that Dan puts perhaps too heavy an emphasis on Jesus’ teachings...

??!!! Isn't that great?!

Man, if that's the worst thing that anyone ever says about me, I'm doing pretty well.

Just thought I'd share that little tidbit.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Stars and Stripes

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
I've been following the testimony going on before Congress here lately about Blackwater USA - the "bodyguard" firm that appears to be more rightly considered a US mercenary unit.

Testimony from Jeremy Scahill, investigative reporter for The Nation magazine:

...The stakes are very high for the Bush administration because the company involved, Blackwater USA, is not just any company. It is the premiere firm protecting senior State Department officials in Iraq, including Ambassador Ryan Crocker. This company has been active in Iraq since the early days of the occupation when it was awarded an initial $27 million no-bid contract to guard Ambassador Paul Bremer. During its time in Iraq, Blackwater has regularly engaged in firefights and other deadly incidents. About 30 of its operatives have been killed in Iraq and these deaths are not included in the official American death toll.

While the company’s operatives are indeed soldiers of fortune, their salaries are paid through hundreds of millions of dollars in US taxpayer funds allocated to Blackwater. What they do in Iraq is done in the name of the American people and yet there has been no effective oversight of Blackwater’s activities and actions. And there has been absolutely no prosecution of its forces for any crimes committed against Iraqis. If indeed Iraqi civilians were killed by Blackwater USA last Sunday, as appears to be the case, culpability for these actions does not only lie with the individuals who committed the killings or with Blackwater as a company, but also with the entity that hired them and allowed them to operate heavily-armed inside Iraq–in this case, the US State Department.

All this talk has made me wonder: If many so-called conservatives don't trust the government, don't think the government can be trusted to do things correctly or cheaply, why, then do they express such confidence in the US military? Why not farm out all our soldiering to mercenary units such as this one?

Is the government incompetent and incapable of running social assistance programs or medical programs, why is a government military trustworthy and reliable - and not merely trustworthy and reliable, but the "best military in the world!"? Where is the consistency? How can a government be incompetent to run welfare, but capable of dispatching by far the most expensive, expansive military program in the history of the world?

[NOTE: It will be obvious to all who know me at all that I'm not advocating turning over military operations to mercenaries - God forbid! - nor am I necessarily advocating a nationalized healthplan nor welfare in general. I'm just wondering how anti-government types explain their reasoning.]

[OTHER NOTE: Write your representatives and demand an end to the use of mercenaries by our government and that mercenaries who behave badly be prosecuted. This undermines our national security, not to mention our already tarnished integrity.]