A bias, set against someone else’s

Again from Willard’s Hearing God.

Some Christians too commonly demonnstrate that the notions of “faith in Christ” and “love for Christ” leave Christ outside the personality of the believer. One wonders whether the modern translations of the Bible are not being governed by the need to turn outr weakened practice into the norm of faith. These exterior notions of Christ’s faith and love will never be strong enough to yield the confident statement, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20).(157)

I think he may be too categorical here. No, I know he is. For certainly I have known those who said that phrase confidently without the belief that “through his words that he literally, not figuratively, imparted himself while he lived and taught among the people of his day (156).”

Biases are visible, only if you disagree with them.

I am reading Willard’s Hearing God and I have found it to be a book full of good thoughts and strong ideas. I have also found it to abound in his beliefs, which he sets against other beliefs (such as mine) or which he doesn’t even seem to realize might not be universal.

For example, on page 152 he quotes Eph. 5:25-27. “…just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

I have never seen this verse presented as baptism doesn’t make you clean but God’s word, the Bible, makes you clean. Yet that seems to be what Willard is saying.

“These impurities and distractions, which in fact do not automatically disappear at the additional birth, limit and attack both individual spiritual growth and the role intended for Christ’s followers as the light of the world.”

“The word of God-primarily the gospel of his kingdom and of the life and death of Jesus on our behalf-enters our mind and brings new life thorugh faith.”

That is not how either of the commentaries I looked at, just the first two on Google (Clarke and Matthew Henry), present it either.

It doesn’t mean it is wrong, just because I’ve never heard it before. Neither does it mean it is right just because he’s presenting it in the context of hearing God.

This is one he seems to take for granted as obvious.

“The Teacher Who Did Not Know”

is the title of a section of the chapter “Redemption through the Word of God” from Hearing God.

It has an interesting perspective on Nicodemus.

.. Nicodemus, this leader, complimented Jesus [in John 3:2], yet at the same time he complimented himself on being an insider who had the good sense to recognize God at work.

Jesus’ reply to him was a stinging rebuke, though it was delivered in such a gentle was as to be digestible and helpful. In effect Jesus said that Nicodemus had not the slightest idea what he was talking about. Nicodmus came claiming to be able to recognizee, to see God at work. Jesus said, “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above” (Jn 3:3). Without this birth we cannot recognize God’s workings: [sic] we do not possess the appropriate facilities and equipment.

This is interesting and is a different interpretation than I have ever heard before. However, it is not the interpretation that is most striking, but rather the application of this idea.

Those born of the Spirit manifest a different kind of life. Remember that a life is a definite range of activities and responses. The spiritually born exhibit a life deriving from an invisible spiritual realm and its powers. In natural terms one cannot explain what is happening with them, where they come from or where they go (Jn 3:8).

Voodoo and Magic

Hearing God by Dallas Willard seems to me to have a misunderstanding of magic. He says that magic doesn’t cause things to happen. The belief of the people that are involved in the thing, the receivers of the negativity, cause it to happen.

So a voodoo doll pin doesn’t give a person pain. A person gets pain because he knows of the voodoo doll.

I certainly think that can be true. The man who ate the meat of an albino deer, thinking such would kill him but not knowing it was an albino, certainly caused his own death when several years later his friend told him he had eaten an albino deer and he died within a day. (I wouldn’t have wanted to be the friend who told him.)

But how would someone cursed with causing fires cause a fire simply by going in a house? If I walk in a house and it catches on fire, yet I have not lit a match or carried a candle, am I causing the burning of the house? And I know that a women among the Kipsigis was so cursed and it happened to her multiple times.

And another friend of mine, who was in his forties when I knew him, his parents had within the last few years done a seance and after everyone had left, the table rose from its place and chased them around the house, eventually pinning them in a corner. Did they drag it there by telekinesis? Or was there some other force invading their home?

And another friend of my husband’s was in a land full of voodoo and the drawer of his desk opened and closed without anyone touching it.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” (Hamlet)

I think this may, in fact, be true of Dallas Willard’s understanding of magic. He begins the section by saying that Satanism and demonism is not the same, but he doesn’t discuss them. Based on what he does say, though, I think he may be mistaken.

Hearing God

I’m reading a book by that name by Dallas Willard. And I’ve been thinking about how I’ve heard God.

I used to “know” things without having anyway to know them. I knew when my grama was hit by a car. I knew when my friend was mugged. I knew when my friend was in trouble. I knew my friend, who I hadn’t talked to in days, was going to call when I got in the shower.

The last time I knew something, I didn’t say anything about it. I was praying with two women and I thought I should say something very specific about children. After I didn’t say it, she asked for prayers about it. That’s the last big thing like that I remember and it was eight or nine years ago.

I do know that sometimes when a friend is talking and asking for a word of wisdom, I often will say things that I think are beyond me. I feel like they aren’t me but are just coming through me. That is not some kind of possession, just that God has given me wisdom to hand them verbally. That has happened in the last few years a couple of times.

I have also heard God’s audibly, with a verse. This has happened at least three times. Once to tell me that I was with child, once to confirm it, and once to rebuke me for complaining. (Totally legit and I knew it, too.)

I also heard and saw God in a dream, actually three dreams that happened one right after the other. I woke from each, but didn’t write down what happened and in the end I couldn’t remember much to pass on to the person I was supposed to tell. Which is too bad because she really needed the full confirmation which I was no longer able to offer her. This happened 15 years ago.

It may be that I also saw an angel unawares, when I was in Europe and I fell and sprained my ankle. She took care of me, called my boss and spoke to him in Spanish, helped me in English, ordered something for me to drink in French… Actually, I think I turned her down because I didn’t have any money and didn’t want to assume she meant to pay. She ordered for herself though. And just before my boss came to take me to the hospital, she left. That was 24 years ago.

Now God is mostly silent and I wonder if I have quit listening.

List of Books 2007: the first half of the year

Ordinary Heroes: A Novel by Scott Turow
Irish Magic II- story by Susan Wiggs was good, the rest not so much
The Man from Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller, very well written Western
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll6
The Princess Bride abridged (not really, but supposedly) by Wm Goldman, warning, the last two pages of the story should not be read. Just skip them. They weren’t in the screen play and the movie, thus, is better than the book.

The Visitant by Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear- icky Anasazi stories of murder and incest mixed with interesting archaeology characters being developed–Don’t know if I’ll read the others.
The Price of Murder by Bruce Alexander
Jack, Knave, and Fool by Bruce Alexander
Shakespeare’s Landlord by Charlaine Harris, a great book, I enjoyed it.
Death of a Duchess by Elizabeth Eyre. I liked it well enough to get another of her books to read.
Shoes to Die For by Laura Levine. My short review is here.
Hasty Death by Marion Chesney- good, fun, fairly light reading
Sick of Shadows by Marion Chesney
Our Lady of Pain by Marion Chesney
The Grilling Season by Diane Mott Davis- didn’t like it, too depressing
Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs
Mistletoe Murder by Leslie Meier- I really liked this one, even though she didn’t know who it was till the end.
Turkey Day Murder by Leslie Meier- This is much later in the series and I didn’t like it as much. She looks like an idiot at the end and everyone is patronizing. I’m still going to look for other books, though.
Christmas Cookie Murder by Leslie Meier
Tippy Toe Murder by Leslie Meier
Bimbos and Zombies by Sharyn McCrumb
Shakespeare’s Trollop by Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare’s Christmas by Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare’s Champion by Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare’s Counselor by Charlaine Harris
Real Murders by Charlaine Harris
The Julius House by Charlaine Harris
Dead Over Heels by Charlaine Harris
A Fool and His Honey by Charlaine Harris
A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris
A Really Cute Corpse by Joan Hess, fun light read- Claire Malloy mystery
Misery Loves Maggody by Joan Hess- Arly Hanks mystery, not as good
Monday Mourning by Kathy Reichs, better than Cross Bones but very painful in places
Death at Dartmoor by Robin Paige- very good, weaves together several returning characters
A Trust Betrayed by Candace Robb- not as good as I was hoping. Think I’ll give up on the author.
Don’t Look Now by Linda Lael Miller- This is an author I like in romance. I wasn’t as impressed with the mystery, but that may be because I kept expecting the romance to get stronger and it never did. 31

Children’s Books:
(I like to read these and I don’t usually put them on the list, but maybe I should.)
Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots
Santa Clause Doesn’t Mop Floors
Leprechauns Don’t Play Basketball
Ghosts Don’t Eat Potato Chips (Except that it is obvious they do.)
Zombies Don’t Play Soccer (This one was strange. It was clearly not a zombie at the end.)
Aliens Don’t Wear Braces
Gargoyles Don’t Drive School Buses (I liked this one. In it a library is saved.)
Frankenstein Doesn’t Plant Flowers
Martians Don’t Take Temperatures
Skeletons Don’t Play Tubas 10

Science Fiction:
Accidental Goddess by Linnae Sinclair– I very much enjoyed this one.
Gabriel’s Ghost by Linnae Sinclair. My review.
Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber
Alien Taste by Wen Spencer– Fascinating. First Ukiah Oregon book. As of January 2007 there are four.
Tainted Trail by Wen Spencer
Bitter Waters by Wen Spencer
Dog Warrior by Wen Spencer
Games of Chance by Linnae Sinclair: I have read this one about seven times in one week. It is excellent.
Freehold by Michael Z. Williamson
The Weapon by Michael Z. Williamson
Here Be Monsters by Christopher Stasheff
Matadora by Steve Perry
Black Steel by Steve Perry
Albino Knife by Steve Perry
Brother Death by Steve Perry
The Omega Cage by Steve Perry
The Machiavelli Interface by Steve Perry
The Man Who Never Missed by Steve Perry
The Musashi Flex by Steve Perry
Dinosaur Planet by Anne McCaffrey- start of five books, pretty good
Dinosaur Planet Survivors by Anne McCaffrey
Sassinak by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon- works off earlier book
The Death of Sleep by Anne McCaffrey and Jody Lyn Nye- develops character from earlier book
Generation Warrior by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon- pulls all the characters together. Don’t think they really did a good job of Lunzie throughout, but okay.
Get Off the Unicorn by Anne McCaffrey- short stories, some of which are parts of books, some of which were new to me
I’ve been re-reading the Honor Harrington series: On Basilisk Station
The Honor of the Queen
The Short Victorious War
Field of Dishonor
Flag in Exile
Honor Among Enemies
In Enemy Hands
Echoes of Honor
Ashes of Victory
War of Honor
At All Costs
The Shadow of Saganami
Crown of Slaves
More than Honor
Worlds of Honor
Changer of Worlds
The Service of the Sword
The Excalibur Alternative by David Weber. First time I read this, even though I’ve owned it for a while. 43
The Apocalypse Troll by David Weber.

A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer– good book I enjoyed it. The boys said it sounded like a romance, but really its a milieu story.
Tinker by Wen Spencer– R recommended the book and I read it. I enjoyed it so much I had to order the sequel.
Wolf Who Rules by Wen Spencer
Divine by Choice by P.C. Cast– I didn’t love this one as much as the first, but it is good. I didn’t like it because I don’t like the fact that she has sex with someone other than her husband. It kind of ruined the true love aspect of the book.
The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
To Light a Candle by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
A Walk in Wolf Wood by Mary Stewart- fun, fairly light reading
The Witching Hour by Nora Roberts
Winter Rose by Nora Roberts
A World Apart by Nora Roberts
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine- Came to me highly recommended and I liked it.
The Wizard of London by Mercedes Lackey– My brother said not to buy it in hard back. That was a good call. It has great character development, but the plot is a little… flimsy.
Another Day, Another Dungeon by Greg Costikyan– light read, a little slow in the middle, but good.
Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris. About a woman who can feel where and how the dead died.
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
A Wizard’s Dozen edited by Michael Stearns: There were a few good stories, but overall, not that good.
Saint Vidicon To the Rescue by Christopher Stasheff.
When Darkness Falls by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory (Book 3 of the Obsidian Trilogy)
White Night by Jim Butcher, very good, reminded me why I bought them all
The Crafters by Christopher Stasheff
Goddess of Love by PC Cast
Oath of Swords by David Weber
War God’s Own by David Weber
Windrider’s Oath by David Weber
Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher
Academen’s Fury by Jim Butcher
Cursor’s Fury by Jim Butcher, an amazing book, third in a series, I’ve read it three times in two days.
One Good Knight by Mercedes Lackey- good, enjoyable book
Fortune’s Fool by Mercedes Lackey- very light weight, definitely don’t buy it in hardback
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. I read it twice in a row.
Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik 33

The Faiths of Our Fathers by Alf J. Mapp, Jr.
Women in Anglo-Saxon England and the Impact of 1066 by Christine Fell
Art & Love: An Illustrated Anthology of Love Poetry from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Reading in Bed
The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura
How to Write Love Letters
Book Lovers Quotations
The Oxford Book of Nursery Rhymes. I’ve been wanting this book since I read it in the American Library in Geneva, Switzerland, which, by the way, was run by Brits. It had way too many biographies, but I found some great books there. I indented this even though it has been 20+ years since I read it.
The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Paradise Lost by Milton
Scott’s Miscellany
Moving West Songbook with historical commentary by Keith and Rusty McNeil- neither of the songs I was particularly interested in had anything about their roots written down. Instead it was a social commentary on black-face in minstrel work. 11
Duty First by Ed Ruggero- I didn’t get to finish it because someone stole my book out of my teacher locker. Ouch.
The Language of God by Francis S. Collins
Hearing God by Dallas Willard
The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
Wit and Wisdom from Poor Richard’s Almanac by Benjamin Franklin
Reading in Bed 17
Study Skills for College Writers by Laurie Walker
The Canon of Scripture by F.F. Bruce

144 books

Committees teach you your patience level.

We’re running around like chickens with our heads cut off, all trying to do everything as quickly and well as possible.

It means each of us is contacting people separately, which probably isn’t the best way to go about it. But then again, it gives them a feel for the busybodiness of the church.

I’ve done some deep thinking and spent a lot of time on things and people are blowing it off.

I hate church committees. I’m on two. But one trying to get anything done is a pain.

Creepy Clouds

Oh, the title of the article says they are creeping. Oh well. Mysterious Clouds Creeping Out of the Arctic.

They’re very pretty.

They are “night shining clouds.”

According to wikipedia that means:

Noctilucent clouds, also known as polar mesospheric clouds, are bright cloudlike atmospheric phenomena visible in a deep twilight. The name means roughly “night shining” in Latin. They are most commonly observed in the summer months at latitudes between 50° and 70° north and south of the equator.

They are the highest clouds in the Earth’s atmosphere, located in the mesosphere at altitudes of around 85 km, and are visible only when illuminated by sunlight from below the horizon while the ground and lower layers of the atmosphere are in the Earth’s shadow; otherwise they are too faint to be seen. Noctilucent clouds are not fully understood meteorological phenomena. Clouds generally are not able to reach such high altitudes, especially under such thin air pressures.

A sad note from an email

My two boys are now 14 and 15. The oldest started college last year at the local community college. The youngest wants to be a youth minister and the oldest is a declared athiest. I baptisted them both on the same day 2004 and I remember waking up the morning after he told me he didn’t believe there was a God thinking “This is the first day I’ve ever hoped Jesus wouldn’t come back today”. Still hoping that.

My husband wrote that to an old friend and ichatted me about it.

I teared up.

Einstein Quotes

“Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.”
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
“Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one’s living at it.”
“The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.”
“Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.”
“Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.”
“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the the universe.”
“As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”
“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”
“Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.”
My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”
“The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.”
Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” (Sign hanging in Einstein’s office at Princeton)

Copyright: Kevin Harris 1995

These are the ones I thought particularly releveant right now as we are studying apologetics.

I have always been a big WWII …fan?

In college I wrote papers on propaganda during WWII. It would be a lot easier to do those now.

Here’s a website with all of Dr. Seuss’ pro-America cartoons during the war. A Catalog of Political Cartoons by Dr. Seuss.

And I found a new present I want. Walt Disney Treasures: On the Front Lines (1943). It’s a DVD of war propoganda from Disney. According to the review, there are a lot of shorts on this DVD, including the Seven Dwarfs buying War Bonds.


From now on the boys also have to mow the lawn once a week. It will be the turn of the boy who does not have dishes. And they will not get paid unless they also weed and edge.

I thought I would collapse out there, so I am sure that they will feel the same. But they can do it in parts if they want. I did. It helped a little. The biggest deal is going to be getting out there and doing it when it’s not too hot. That will be hard for E once summer school starts. But he can mow on Friday mornings, since summer school has Fridays off.


Reading Hearing God

The boys bought Dallas Willard’s book Hearing God for their dad today as a belated Father’s Day present. I have begun reading it. I would say that truthfully I have begun skimming it. I’ve hit high spots and thought about questions in it, agreeing or disagreeing, and then skimming on to the next page.

That’s not the best way to approach a book like this and I really would prefer to read it slowly, savoring it, like a true conoisseur would a glass of rare wine. But I know that where I am right now personally that is not going to happen. So I am racing along the top of the ice, hoping to sink a toe here and there into the freezing river, and take a blessing out of it.

First, I have heard God, as an audible voice. I know that is not true for all Christians, but it has been true for me.

Second, I do not hear God on a regular basis. I know that is true for some Christians, but it has not been true for me.

Third, I wonder sometimes if I am the cause of not-hearing. I may be. But then again, I may not be. One time I was talking to a friend of mine, an older godly woman, and I said that God kicks me in the behind to get me going. She said, “Oh, Suzi. God doesn’t do things like that. He reaches out a gentle hand and guides you where he wants you to go.” I told her that God may do that to HER, but I needed a kick in the seat of the pants. Years later she came to me and said that she too, apparently, sometimes needed a good solid push.

One thing I thought interesting in the book: Mother Teresa apparently said at one time that loneliness is the modern leprosy. My teenage boys immediately quarrelled with this idea. But I still think it may say something about loneliness and isolation that could not be said so quickly any other way. I do not mean that people in earlier days were never lonely. That is not true. But perhaps we have made the lonely people the outcasts. Perhaps we shun those who are lonely, as if in fear that it will rub off on us. I don’t know, but I think it is a thought that has a grain of sense to it.

I think that Willard has presented some thoughtful insights. For instance, he talks about mechanical and personal guidance. Mechanical guidance is the sort we have in the car. We push this and pull that and the car does what we want, usually. Personal guidance is when we argue, when we cajole, when we encourage, when we frown, when we smile, when we interact with someone else. And, in personal guidance, he talks about the different levels of friendship. One is a friend of whom you may ask something, knowing it will be given. The other is a friend who, realizing that you need something, will bring it and offer it to you. Very interesting presentation of the idea of friendship.

One question at the end of a chapter, I think, is not phrased well. At the beginning of the book he mentions that his wife’s grandmother, a very godly woman, has never had God speak to her. Then at the end of this chapter he writes, “Can you make any sense at all of an intimate personal relationship in which there are no personal communications?” And I have to say yes I can, even though I don’t think it is the best way, even though I don’t think it is the most fun way, I can imagine- because I have seen- people who have a strong relationship with God who do not hear from him on anything like a regular basis, if at all.

There are a few flaws in the presentation of the question. It presupposes “no” personal communications. Yet what is the Bible but a conversation with God? What is the life of Jesus but personal communication at its height? Yes, all we have now is the recorded history of that life, but it’s still a personal communication from God to us. In addition, prayer, a speaking of the person to God, is personal communication. I can grow closer to someone because of what I reveal about myself just as I can grow closer to someone based on what they reveal about themselves. Finally, there are times when people have spent years separated from those they loved and been reunited to as strong or stronger a bond than they had before. I think that can happen in our relationship with God as well.

He has an excellent/interesting/paradoxical discussion of how we read the Bible stories. He says that we need to see those stories as how we would have acted in those situations. We need to see them as true accounts, not as abstract truth. What difference does it make to me to see Peter as the archetype of the denying follower and to think about how I might have acted, asked in the predawn morning in fear for not only my own life but the life of the Messiah the Israelites have awaited for millenium if I were a follower of the man Jesus? Why might Peter have answered the way he did? When might I also be likely to answer in such a way? (This, I believe, is the meditation on Bible stories, not the studying of them. But I think it does have a part in Bible learning, as long as we do not simply do this and not actually study as well.)

An example of when I might be likely to deny Jesus has a more recent true story with it. In Central/South America, somewhere where there is a lot of unrest, though I can’t remember which country now, I want to say Nicaragua or Ecuador, rebel soldiers broke into a church meeting and waving their guns around asked all who did not believe in Jesus to leave. Many people left. The rebel soldiers locked the church doors and turned to the rest of the congregation, who were expecting death, and worshipped with them.

If I were in a church where extremists came in and seemed to be, or even were, offering me my life in return for a denial of Jesus, would I do it?

I know that there have been times in my life when I could have truthfully said “No.” And there have been other times in my life when I can see that I might cave.

One of the blessings of stories like Peter’s, like Paul’s, is knowing that we don’t have to be perfect to be used and useful Christians.


Reading The Language of God

Dr. Francis S. Collins is the head of the Human Genome Project. As such, he ought to be and is one of the foremost scientists of our age. And he is a believer, a theist, a Christian. His book The Language of God is the presentation of evidence for belief in God.

His story, presented in the first section of Part One: The Chasm between Science and Faith, is interesting. He began college at 16, graduated and went into a PhD program at Yale. He got married, had a child, became a believer, graduated, and went to medical school in the next ten years.

He presents many points of question, stumbling blocks to the unbeliever, and discusses them. Why is there suffering in the world if God is good? Isn’t believing in God just wishful thinking? Why does religion do so much bad stuff? (We talked about this today after having passed a Wiccan’s car with some exceedingly belligerent bumper stickers. I think she needs to review her belief in her three-fold law.)

I don’t think his answers would do for everyone, but they are a good discussion. He is a big Lewis fan, having come to belief with the help of Mere Christianity. But he is clearly a widely read Christian, quoting people I have heard of and others I have never read.

When I first began reading his book last month, I thought it was hard to get through. Today I raced through 55 pages, and then slowed to a dreary slog. I think there is too much information in the book to be able to race through it all. It’s a bite at a time book. But it looks as if each bite will be an incredible meal.