Pageviews last month

Friday, 23 May 2008

Inspired song writing

94020 The White Man doesn't generally refer to angels in his writing. Being a scientist, he likes things to follow the various laws that have been discovered to rule unchallenged in the material sphere. But he also recognizes another sphere, the immaterial. Angels are those beings that cross the boundary between those two spheres and interact on a material level with our own reality. Thus it is impossible to fully study them from a scientific perspective.

From the perspective of history, however, angels can be studied. History dutifully records WHAT happens, without having to go into the HOW. And history is replete with angelic visitations. In fact, history seems to turn on events of global significance that involved the trans-dimensional missions of angels: Creation; The Fall; The Incarnation; The Birth; The Cross; The Tomb. In a back-handed way, this was the basic premise behind the script of Ghostbusters.

Now that I think of it, I'm sure that it was angels who conveyed the blueprints of the Ark to Noah. It is totally fitting with God's character to have used his own intermediaries to communicate across the boundary between the temporal and the eternal. In fact, when he communicated directly with Moses, it was noted as being out of the ordinary for him to do so.

For over a decade now I've been studying the appearance of angels at one particular pivotal event in history: The Operation Auca Massacre. Details have continued to trickle out since Walter Liefeld took his wife, the former Olive Fleming, back to visit the scene of her first husband's martyrdom. At that point Dawa, their guide and a remote eyewitness to the massacre, mentioned that "chanting foreigners in robes" had appeared above the trees at the time the five missionaries were being killed.

This is where my spine starts to tingle. When Steve Saint returned to live among the people who killed his father, he picked up more information about this angelic visitation. The killers, being farther away than Dawa, only saw illuminations in the sky. But like Dawa, they heard the singing. And even more incredibly, Kimo, one of the killers, was able to identify the very song they heard when Steve brought a film crew down to document God's work among the Aucas since the Massacre. It was titled "Beyond the Gates of Splendor."

The song Kimo recognized was from the sound track of "Beyond the Gates of Splendor," specifically a song composed for the documentary, called "To Every Tribe and Nation."

A song composed in the 21st century, but sung by a choir of angels almost 50 years earlier. A song written under inspiration, and we almost never knew it. A Heavenly Song to welcome five faithful witnesses Home.

You know, I kind of suspect that this wasn't the first time it had been sung.

I'd like to sing it myself someday. I have a feeling that I will.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Science, History, and the man who read the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica

Arnold Steven Jacobs Sr. set out to read through the Encyclopedia Brittanica, but washed out somewhere in the B's. His namesake son AJ, however, finally finished what his father had started, reading through all fifty inches of thirty-three thousand pages in thirty-two volumes in a year.

In his introduction to "The Know-it-All," Jacobs notes that he learned, among numerous other lesser-known facts of science and history, that Adam lived 930 years. Now, where would any of the 9,500 contributors to the Encyclopedia have found such information?

Actually, there is only one primary source for the progenitor Adam's age at death: The Book of Genesis. The Bible, however, is not the only primary source to mention Adam by name, and to give a little bit of his biography. What follows is a translation of the Comprehensive History that has been passed down in metrical couplet to the present day by the Miao people of Southeastern Asia (remember that 'Adam' is a Hebrew word meaning 'clay'):

On the earth He created a man from the dirt.
Of the man thus created, a woman He formed.
Then the Patriarch Dirt made a balance of stones.
Estimated the weight of the earth to the bottom.
Calculated the bulk of the heavenly bodies.
And pondered the ways of the Deity, God.
The Patriarch Dirt begat Patriarch Se-teh.
The Patriarch Se-Teh begat a son Lusu.
And Lusu had Gehlo and he begat Lama.
The Patriarch Lama begat the man Nuah.
His wife was the Matriarch Gaw Bo-lu-en.
Their sons were Lo Han, Lo Shen and Jah-hu.
So the earth began filling with tribes and with families.
Creation was shared by the clans and the peoples.

These did not God's will nor returned His affection.
But fought with each other defying the Godhead.
Their leaders shook fists in the face of the Mighty
Then the earth was convulsed to the depth of three strata.
Rending the air to the uttermost heaven.
God's anger arose till His Being was changed;
His wrath flaring up filled His eyes and His face.
Until He must come and demolish humanity.
Come and destroy a whole world full of people.

So it poured forty days in sheets and in torrents.
Then fifty-five days of misting and drizzle.
The waters surmounted the mountains and ranges.
The deluge ascending leapt valley and hollow.
An earth with no earth upon which to take refuge!
A world with no foothold where one might subsist!
The people were baffled, impotent and ruined,
Despairing, horror stricken, diminished and finished.
But the Patriarch Nuah was righteous.
The Matriarch Gaw Bo-lu-en upright.
Built a boat very wide; made a ship very vast.
Their household entire got aboard and were floated,
The family complete rode the deluge in safety.
The animals with him were female and male.
The birds went along and were mated in pairs.

When the time was fulfilled, God commanded the waters.
The day had arrived, the flood waters receded.
Then Nuah liberated a dove from their refuge,
Sent a bird to go forth and bring again tidings.
The flood had gone down into lake and to ocean;
The mud was confined to the pools and the hollows.
There was land once again where a man might reside;
There was a place in the earth now to rear habitations.
Buffalo then were brought, an oblation to God,
Fatter cattle became sacrifice to the Mighty.
The Divine One then gave them His blessing;
Their God then bestowed His good graces.

Lo-han then begat Cusah and Mesay.
Lo-shan begat Elan and Nga-shur.
Their offspring begotten became tribes and peoples;
Their descendants established encampments and cities.
Their singing was all with the same tunes and music;
Their speaking was all with the same words and language.
Then they said "Let us build us a very big city;
Let us raise unto heaven a very high tower."
This was all wrong, but they reached this decision;
This was not right, but they rashly persisted.

God struck at them then, changed their language and accent.
Descending in wrath, He confused tones and voices.
One's speech to the others who hear him has no meaning;
He's speaking in words, but they can't understand him.
So the city they builded was never completed;
The tower they wrought has to stand thus unfinished.
In despair then they separate under all heaven,
They part from each other the globe to encircle.
They arrive at six corners and speak the six languages.

Now, why would a publication of such high scientific pedigree even mention an age for someone they consider a totally mythical figure? It's kind of like mentioning the age at which Thor got his first pimple. Except that Thor's medical records didn't make it into history, and Adam's did (his was the first surgery under general anaesthesia).

Here's a couple excerpts from an earlier edition of Brittanica, published in 1771:

. . . the most memorable was that called the universal deluge, or Noah's flood, which overflowed and destroyed the whole earth, and out of which only Noah, and those with him in the ark, escaped. . . "

Yes, folks, Adam and Noah were remembered as historical figures for thousands of years. That they are no longer considered that today is a sad indication that pseudoscience has supplanted the study of history--except for those few who wade far enough into the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Changing a light bulb, according to the latest principles of textual criticism


The White Man rarely changes a light bulb anymore, unless the compact fluorescent came loose from its housing. And that isn't actually changing a bulb, but replacing it.

Yet the concept of changing a light bulb is forever enshrined in the humor element of the White Man's culture, and that is never likely to change. Some day a child may look blankly at his father and ask, "Daddy, what's a light bulb?" But until that day, the joke will remain funny.

Typing in "How many turkey vultures does it take to change a light bulb" at resulted in no answers, but over a thousand hits. Removing 'turkey vultures' from the equation led to a hundred times that many. Here are just two exemplars of the logion, 'How many __________ (members of a particular Christian denomination) does it take to change a light bulb?'


Cyberscript A:

Charismatic: Only one. Hands already in the air.

Pentecostals: Ten. One to change the bulb, and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.

Presbyterians: None. Lights will go on and off at predestined times.

Roman Catholic: None. Candles only.

Baptists: At least 15. One to change the light bulb, and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad.

Episcopalians: Three. One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks and one to talk about how much better the old bulb was.

Mormons: Five. One man to change the bulb, and four wives to tell him how to do it.

Unitarians: We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that light bulbs work for you, that is fine. You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your light bulb for the next Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions including incandescent, fluorescent, three-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.

Methodists: Undetermined. Whether your light is bright, dull, or completely out, you are loved. You can be a light bulb, turnip bulb, or tulip bulb. Church-wide lighting service is planned for Sunday. Bring bulb of your choice and a covered dish.

Nazarene: Six. One woman to replace the bulb while five men review church lighting policy.

Lutherans: None. Lutherans don't believe in change.

Amish: What's a light bulb?


Cyberscript B:

How many charismatics does it take to change a light bulb?
One, since his/her hands are in the air anyway.

How many Calvinists does it take to change a lightbulb?
None. God has predestined when the lights will be on. (Calvinists do not change light bulbs. They simply read the instructions and pray the light bulb will be one that has been chosen to be changed.)

How many liberals does it take to change a light bulb?
At least ten, as they need to hold a debate into whether or not the light bulb exists. Even if they can agree upon the existence of the light bulb, they may not go ahead and change it for fear of alienating those who use fluorescent tubes.

How many Charismatics does it take to change a light bulb?
One to change the bulb and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.

How many neo-orthodox does it take to change a bulb?
No one knows. They can't tell the difference between light and darkness.

How many independent fundamentalists does it take to change a light bulb?
Only one, because any more might result in too much cooperation.

How many Amish does it take to change a light bulb?
"What's a light bulb?"

How many youth pastors does it take to change a light bulb?
Youth pastors aren't around long enough for a light bulb to burn out.

How many members of an established Bible teaching church that is over 20 years old does it take to change a light bulb?
One to actually change the bulb, and nine to say how much they liked the old one.

How many Anglo-Catholics does it take to change a light bulb?
None. They always use candles instead.

How many Evangelicals does it take to change a light bulb?
Evangelicals do not change light bulbs. They simply read out the instructions and hope the light bulb will decide to change itself.

How many Atheists does it take to change a light bulb?
One. But they are still in darkness.

How many Brethren does it take to change a light bulb?

How many Pentecostals does it take to change a light bulb?
10, one to change it and 9 others to pray against the spirit of darkness.

How many TV evangelists does it take to change a light bulb?
One. But for the message of hope to continue to go forth, send in your donation today.

How many campfire worship leaders does it take to change a light bulb?
One. But soon all those around can warm up to its glowing.

How many baptist's does it take to change a light bulb?
The whole congregation needs to vote on it!

How many charismatics does it take to change a light bulb?
Three, one to cast it out and two to catch it when it falls!

How many charismatics does it take to change a light bulb?
Twenty one, one to change it, and twenty to share the experience!

How many conservative Anglicans does it take to change a light bulb?
Three. One to change it and two to storm out in protest if the person changing it is a woman!

How many Calvinists does it take to change a light bulb?
None. If God wants the light bulb changed He will do it Himself!

How many missionaries does it take to change a light bulb?
10. Five to determine how many can be changed by the year 2000, four to raise the necessary funds, one to go find a national to do the job!

How many United Methodists does it take to change a light bulb?
This statement was issued: "We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that a light bulb works for you, that is fine. You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your personal relationship with your light bulb (or light source, or non-dark resource), and present it next month at our annual light bulb Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, three-way, long-life, and tinted--all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence."

How many Southern Baptists does it take to change a light bulb?
109. Seven on the Light Bulb Task Force Sub-committee, who report to the 12 on the Light Bulb Task Force, appointed by the 15 on the Trustee Board. Their recommendation is reviewed by the Finance Executive Committee of 5, who place it on the agenda of the 18 member Finance Committee. If they approve, they bring a motion to the 27 Member church Board, who appoint another 12 member review committee. If they recommend that the Church Board proceed, a resolution is brought to the Congregational Business Meeting. They appoint another 8 member review committee. If their report to the next Congregational Business Meeting supports the changing of a light bulb, and the Congregation votes in favor, the responsibility to carry out the light bulb change is passed on to the Trustee Board, who in turn appoint a 7-member committee to find the best price in new light bulbs. Their recommendation of which hardware is the best buy must then be reviewed by the 23 member Ethics Committee to make certain that this hardware store has no connection to Disneyland. They report back to the Trustee Board who then commissions the Trustee in charge of the Janitor to ask him to make the change. By then the janitor discovers that one more light bulb has burned out.

How many Nazarenes does it take to change a light bulb?
4 ladies. One to carefully unscrew the bulb. One to wrap it carefully and another to package it. The fourth to mail it to the mission field.


Without constructing a detailed critical apparatus, we can quickly realize the Webex B has undergone correction by scribes of several different denominations. We would therefore date it rather late in the stream. Note the dittographs in relation to Baptists, Evangelicals, and Charismatics. We would expect this script to undergo subsequent editing by a redactor seeking to minimize harmonizations, but this is a good example of a wild transitional text.

Webex A, on the other hand, is concise and well organized. The question is whether it should be considered earlier than B (in which the numerous scribes who corrected the exemplars of B corrupted its text), or a later orthodox correction of B.

Is there really any way of telling? And does it matter? Whether earlier or later than B, A is just simply a better Webex to use. B is too sloppily compiled to lend any credence to the originality of ANY of its readings. I wouldn't use B to correct anything in A. And to get back to the question, I'd need to collate a whole lot more cyberscripts before I could answer it. Right now, that hardly seems worth my bother. Let those who argue for the originality of B do the work, and prove their point.

I'm listening.

By the way, how many textual critics does it take to change a light bulb?

The answer, according to the latest principles of textual criticism:

"Phrasing the question this way shows your ignorance of how textual criticism works. Textual critics are to be weighed, not counted."

This is especially important, I suppose, when the ladder being used only holds 200 pounds.

WHO are Hillary and Obama?

Ha, ha, ha. WHO doesn't know? Well, anyone who doesn't follow the news, for one. Someone who gets all his information from Google Search, for another.

This video demonstrates conclusively that if it weren't for the relentless media hype/spike of Hillary/Obama and Ron Paul, respectively, Ron Paul would have far better name recognition.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Do Americans have a choice in the next election?


We do have a choice.

If we had lived in America in 1860 we would have had the choice between four different men running for President. The leading political party was so deeply divided going into the convention, that rather than settling on one nominee they put forth two, one from each section of an increasingly divided country. None of them were opposed to the spread of slavery, so anti-slavery members of that party were forced to vote for a third-party candidate (the second party having gone down in flames in the previous election because it waffled on slavery).

There were two minor parties fielding candidates. One third-tier candidate believed that saving the Union was the most important thing and that anti-slavery and pro-slavery people should put aside their differences to keep the nation intact. This ticket stood to gain from the split in the leading party.

The other third-tier candidate had lost almost every election he had ever been in. He wasn't his party's front-runner going into the convention. He wasn't even on the ballot in many states. Yet he had broad support throughout the rest of the country and had alienated the least number of factions in his own party. There was no way he could get a majority of the vote, but if it split enough ways he might just be able to win the presidency. He wasn't very strong against slavery (although he personally opposed it), but he did support the right of Congress to ban it in some circumstances. Lose he might, but he would at least carry the anti-slavery vote; he was all they had.

With the Democratic Party split in half, they only took one northern state, but they swept the south with over 80% of the vote, taking 47% nationwide.

The Constitutional Union Party managed to take advantage of the swing states and captured 13% of both the popular and electoral vote, thus denying victory to the Democrats.

The upstart Republican Party, only fielding their second candidate, was shut out of the race in the South, but swept the North and West with 39% of the popular vote. Taking the most populous states meant that they captured the Electoral College with 59% of its votes.

And Abraham Lincoln, at best the second or third choice of most voters, became President, ended slavery, saved the union, and eliminated the right of secession for all time to come.

While he was President, a million people died in a war that was predicted almost certainly to happen if he won.

Yes, we have a choice. But it remains to be seen whether or not we will like the results of what we choose.