Monday, June 29, 2009


A farmer who had a quarrelsome family called his sons and told them to lay a bunch of sticks before him. Then, after laying the sticks parallel to one another and binding them, he challenged his sons, one after another, to pick up the bundle and break it. They all tried, but in vain. Then, untying the bundle, he gave them the sticks to break one by one. This they did with the greatest ease. Then said the father, “Thus, my sons, as long as you remain united, you are a match for anything, but differ and separate, and you are undone.” (Aesop)

Scripture’s tale of the Tower of Babel holds an amazing statement by God, “If as ONE PEOPLE speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” Since Ancient Hebrew has no punctuation, bold lettering, underlining or other techniques to emphasize a word or phrase, Hebrew will double up words for emphasis. The word for ONE is doubled and it sticks out: ONE people and ONE language!

People as ONE, unified, and together are VERY powerful and that is why God doesn’t let it happen very often.

It is like so many GREAT things in human nature where we humans were given amazing gifts from God that can be used for good or evil. The gift of sex turns into the evil of abuse. The gift of creation turns into the evil of the Ubermensch, Eugenics and other genetic engineering. The gift of ONE, a people united can be the curse of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Soviet Union or it can be a United States that built an aircraft every 15 minutes in 1944 while having over 3 million men fighting to defeat evil.

We believe, falsely, that in the United States we have a democracy. We don’t have a democracy, we have a republic. As far back as Plato’s “Republic” and again in Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” and even in the “Federalist Papers” on which the US Constitution was based; democracy was feared and called the “Tyranny of the Majority.” Our Republic or “representative democracy”, guaranteed in Article IV of the Constitution, means that our elected representatives can vote AGAINST the majority of their constituents.

A people as ONE can rescue or defeat. A people as ONE can squash the minority or assure rights of all, whether you agree or disagree. We can do so much good together. We can do so much harm together. Tocqueville both feared and admired this balance of power. He said that the United States will be great as long as its people are good. But what happens when we cease to be good? What happens when the majority of people and their representatives are no longer good? When bad people are united and in a majority we must prepare ourselves for a tower of nonsensical babbling. Oh, wait ...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Somebody’s gotta be WRONG!

The shot went up and a majority of the basketball players coalesced around the hoop to see if it went in or not. It was towards the end of the game and the shot or rebound was VERY important. Under the basket the seven-foot center seemed to crawl over the back of the six-foot guard as they fought for position to get the rebound. The center literally fell over the top of the guard to get it. The whistle blew and the home crowd was cheering for the foul had to be on the center as he crushed the home-town guard. When all was sorted out the referee referred to the guard as being the culprit and his number was displayed on the fingers of the unbiased judge. The crowd went nuts in anger as the scoreboard replay clearly showed the foul on the huge center crawling over the back of the guard. Somebody’s gotta be wrong here. It was either what the crowd saw or the replay seemed to show over and over again OR the referee was wrong in what he saw. One of the advantages of TV versus being at a live game is the TV’s attempt to get every angle of the play. Four different versions of the same play from four cameras showed an obvious foul on the seven-foot center, but the fifth camera told a different story. The fifth camera from underneath the basket by one of those crazy guys who sit on the sidelines risking imminent harm; showed that the smaller guard had locked his arm with the center and pulled him over: an obvious foul by the guard but hidden to 4 out of 5 cameras and 20,000 screaming home team fans. Somebody was right and the ref made the right call.

There is no middle ground, no compromise, no “letting” someone else be right once. Somebody was right and somebody was wrong.

I’ve been doing some Ping Pong playing recently and usually it is just the two of us playing. If the ball hits the net on a serve you must do the serve over, but sometimes one sees it hit the net and the other doesn’t. Who is right and who is wrong. They can’t both be right. If there was a line judge she could have told us which, but normally it is a “do over” and no point for either. That doesn’t change the fact that one was right and one was wrong, it doesn’t matter about the person’s “perspective” or “feelings.” Somebody’s gotta be wrong.

We have lost the right and wrong in life today. In the last 30 years we have come to believe that BOTH are right and no one is wrong. We call it tolerance, perspective, opinion or just feeling but nobody is wrong anymore.

Here’s the thing. If nobody’s wrong then nobody’s right either and we have no need for referees. What it WILL degenerate to is the seven-foot center beating on the six-foot guard because whoever wins that fight will get the call his way. Might will make right and then only the weak will be wrong. What we need is some standard or referee outside the game to make the calls for us so that the weak will not be pounded on by the strong. We need some kind of rule for life and living that will help us determine which is right and wrong like lines on the basketball court. What we need is an unbiased judge that can make the hard calls of who is right and wrong and even offer mercy to those who are wrong sometimes to help them get it right the next time. Because somebody’s gotta be wrong.

But where, oh where can we find such a rule for living? Where can we find such a standard that we can put up in our courts and schools and assembly halls? Where can we find that sense of right and wrong and that unbiased and merciful judge?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Who’s Image?

Our local Las Vegas paper today talked about a laughing chimp’s link to our laughter. Researchers in England tickled the babies of humans, orangutans, gorillas, chimps and bonobos and measured the sound “traits” that were made while tickling. Then mapped the sounds on a genetic tree and found three matches all the way up the tree to an ape ancestor that made those sounds and passed them on to all of its children: human and ape. Experts praised the work. “It gives very strong evidence that ape and human laughter are related through evolution” said Frans de Waal.

Last year the Spanish Parliament passed a resolution granting apes “human rights”. Pedro Pozas, the Spanish director of the Great Apes Project told The Times (a UK magazine) “It will doubtless be remembered as a key moment in the defense of our evolutionary comrades.” Pozas also said, “We are seeking to break the species barrier, this is just the point of the spear!” While keeping apes in zoos will remain legal, the animal rights group claims 70% of the apes in Spanish zoos live in “sub-human” conditions. The article goes on to tell us that in addition to humans there are three OTHER genera of apes: gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans. And that humans and chimps share 99 percent for their active genetic material.

Okay, where do I start?

This is a perfect example of a world without salt and light. When humans take God out of their thinking there is nothing to separate them from an ape. So it would be natural for a pagan thinker to want to grant apes “human rights” since we are nothing more than shaved chimps. It is a simple accident in the evolutionary chain that we got a bigger brain pan and so can sharpen sticks better and don’t need to wear diapers.

Seriously, it is hard to take these people seriously but they seriously are having an impact on our society. The Spanish movement is a back door way to ban the “evil” of bullfighting which the animal rights people have been trying to destroy for decades. Especially since the only apes in Spain are in zoos. In the USA all of our meat choices have been usurped by animal rights activists claiming cruelty in how they are butchered, milked, or made into leather. The price of meat has doubled since butchers now have to be sensitive to the “feelings” of the animals. Christians HAVE TO enter the public debate to be what we are commanded to be: salt and light. This kind of crazy activity can only move forward when Christians sit back and do nothing. When someone says, “Apes are humans too” there is no one with the guts to give them a V8 bonk on the head and say, “What are you? Stupid?”

Animals are precious? YES! They are a beautiful part of God’s creation and God has a purpose and a plan for them AND as part of God’s creation they will be made new and be a part of the new heaven and new earth coming at the end of time. BUT animals are NOT created in God’s image and we have been given the responsibility to care for them and also God gave us every plant and beast for food. That was BEFORE the fall of man (Gen. 1:28-30). But Pagans and Christians alike have distorted our relationship to animals and have demoted humans to equal status with animals and in some times lesser status. It is to the point in Spain and many parts of California that we are made in the animal’s image and not in that of our creator. Look in your mirror, look in your heart, look at the fact that you are even THINKING about this topic; in who’s image were you made?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Ticking Time Bomb

Next time you prepare for a party here’s what you need to do. Buy a pack of mint Mentos candy and drop them into each chamber of an ice tray, fill with water and freeze. At the party make sure you have plenty of WARM Coke around in need of ice. Serve the Coke or Diet Coke with ice and a smile. It should take only about five minutes for the glass of soda to erupt like a fifth grade science project. Sit back and enjoy. The reason I know this is because I just got “punked” with this trick; to the great amusement of all those at the meeting around me. Last time I accept a Diet Coke from THAT friend.

My brothers and I used to play a lot of practical jokes on each other. I can remember a lot of them on me when I was a young kid and as I got older then I would be able to participate in them. One of the fun pranks I played in High School was taking a hot water bottle and filling it with chunky, milky oatmeal and then adding a little red food coloring. We would get a plastic tube from the hardware store that would fit into the top of the hot water bottle and head off to the local Denny’s restaurant. After eating a bit one of us guys would make the correct noises and press on the hot water bottle in his jacket forcing the oatmeal mixture up and through the tube and throw up all over the table. This was done, hopefully, with the waitress and a young family around. After the mess is spread all over the table you had a choice: run out or stay in. In the run out scenario we would simply leave to the great relief of the waitress and people around us. In the run out scenario you must have most of your food gone so you get the fun AND a free meal. In the stay in scenario when the waitress comes and offers to clean up and move you to another table (along with all those sitting close by) you simply say, “No thank you, we’ll take care of it.” And then you proceed to eat the oatmeal. It always helps to say something like: “I LOVE the big chunks!” THEN you laugh pay for the meal since the looks on the people’s faces is priceless.

I also remember a High School prank gone wrong. No one got seriously hurt but five of us were suspended and facing my parents with it was the ticking time bomb. I can still remember the gut wrenching feeling of the principal calling my dad. As usual I feared what my parents would do more than what the school would do as punishment.

What’s the point of practical jokes? Joy for you and embarrassment for others? Taking people down a peg? Initiation? There is nothing wrong with a practical joke. If people cannot laugh at themselves and their foibles and fears then they are simply taking life too seriously. But sometimes the joke gets carried too far and people get hurt either physically or emotionally. In the middle of the joke be prepared to stop at any time. If you really think about it, you will find you know the exact time that joke went bad. All it takes is for someone to stop, explain, and start the laughing at themselves. Stop it before it goes bad. I had to clean the Diet Coke off my clothes and try to dry out, but I was looking for the next person to help with their drink. Can I get you a Coke?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Es Es Percipe

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it: did it make a sound? Better yet, if no one ever saw that tree from its life to death: was it really there? This is the realm of the existential philosopher. “Es es percipe” means “to be is to be perceived.” Perception is reality so when something is not perceived it doesn’t exist. I told my wife I was going to a movie and when I came home I was accosted with questions of where I was because she never “HEARD” me tell her. Since she didn’t hear it, it wasn’t real.

We now base our existence, our reality, and our laws on what we can perceive. We make judgments about people and things based on what we see, feel, and hear. We base our reality on what our senses tell us but are they the best way?

The problem is that we all have filters or sunglasses that taint our perceptions. We can both look at the exact same thing and come up with a totally opposite perspective of that reality. If you don’t believe me find a mixed group to join when a president is speaking: one group will hear only negative and the other only positive. Whether you listen to Bush or Obama you will only hear and see what your filters and sunglasses will allow you to. Every now and again something happens to knock those perceptions out of our heads. But it takes an event like 9/11 to do that and it only lasts for a short period of time. Witness people now saying 9/11 was a conspiracy.

So if we both perceive the world in totally different ways how can we get at the truth? In our court system we have a judge and jury who are supposed to look, listen, smell, touch, and taste the evidence to come up with a consensus on the truth. That’s the best we got now. We all know of people who bought their way out of the truth, people who lawyered their way out of even being judged, and people who lied so convincingly that our perceptions changed. Our laws our now based on our PERCEPTIONS and no longer on something outside ourselves. We say it just “feels” wrong or right.

We fight. We argue. We cajole and cry. We try to come up with some consensus and seem to spin our wheels on the grease of compromise. What can save us from the wretched state of our own perceptions? Wouldn’t it be nice to have some kind of standard of rule and measure that we could compare our actions to; where we would know for sure if it is right or wrong, true or false, good or bad? Something like our Standards for Weights and Measures where we know and can check if a pound is a pound and a yard is a yard. Maybe it would be some kind of standard that we could hold up to our politicians to see if their actions are right or not. Or maybe some kind of standard that we could impose on Wall Street and our corporate moguls that would keep them honest and treat their employees fairly. Or even some kind of standard of behavior that we could teach our children in school so that when they get to running this world they will have a rule to guide their actions.

Where would be get such a standard, such a rule of behavior. If we could find one I think it would be EXTREMELY important to make sure we post it wherever people gather and in our courts and in our schools. It would be great to find a standard like that because until we do we have reality based only on our perceptions and we are now finding out how flawed they are.

Natural Laws

I am going to cheat this week by simply regurgitating something that someone sent me some time ago. The Laws aren’t original to me though I have edited some of the comments to more ME. There are laws in this universe, similar to the Law of Gravity, that are immutable and unavoidable:

Law of Mechanical Repair: Whenever you get your hands REALLY dirty, your nose will itch.

Refined Law of Gravity: Anything, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner.

Law of Probability: The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act

Law of Random Numbers: If you tap in a wrong number, you never get a busy signal and someone always answers.

Law of the Alibi: If you tell your boss you were late for work because of a flat tire, the very next day you will have a flat tire.

Variation Law: If you change lines (or traffic lanes) the one you just left will always move faster than the one you are in now.

Law of Close Encounters: The probability of meeting someone you know increases dramatically when you are with someone you don’t want to be seen with.

Law of Results: When you try to prove to someone that something doesn’t work, it does.

Law of Biomechanics: The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.

Law of the Theater: At any event, the people whose seats are furthest from the aisle arrive last.

The Starbucks Law: As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, you boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.

Law of Logical Arguments: Anything is possible if you don’t know what you are talking about.

Law of Appearance: If the shoe fits, it’s ugly.

Law of Commercial Marketing: As soon as you find a product you really like, they will stop making it.

There you are: hard, fast and immutable laws of our natural life.