Mar 04 2024

The Gentle Jesus Myth

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 5:26 pm

There is a picture you may have seen, depicting Jesus with lots of cute, cuddly animals: squirrels, deer, rabbits, various birds, sheep, and even a particularly non-threatening fox (I think it’s a fox….  It might be a small dog, I suppose.).   The picture also includes a lake in which, even though we can’t see them, the fish are presumably lining up to be petted.

This picture was clearly not illustrating a “lion lying down with the lamb” moment, for the excellent reason that there were no carnivores at all (except for the small, cute, non-belligerent fox I mentioned that might just be a small dog).  The picture is clearly not intended to show us what the post-apocalyptic New Earth will be like (some people think there will be no predation on the New Earth).

Does this mean that Jesus only likes herbivores (leaving aside the carnivorous nature of many cute little birds)?  I do know some vegans who seem to think Jesus loves them more than he loves those of us who frequent Outback and Sizzler, but since humans are omnivorous as a species, I’m not sure that counts.

I’d be more impressed if the photo showed Jesus gently stroking a lion who had just taken down a wildebeest, or maybe a cheetah who had just hamstrung an antelope and was now chowing down on the still wriggling sprinter (soon to be retired).  How about if Jesus was shown in the background approvingly looking upon the family man and NRA member who just shot the family’s meat for the next two months?  Would Jesus say, “Good shot!” and maybe admire the well-maintained, telescopically sighted rifle?  (“David sure could have used one of these for Goliath… and would still have given Me the glory for his success.  By the way, My hunter-son, that was a good, clean, merciful kill of the food I put on this earth for you.”  Genesis 9:3)

I’m aware that a possible interpretation of the photo is that normally timid creatures feel safe with Jesus.  But wouldn’t that be just as true of predators, also God’s creations?  Many of them run at the sight of humans, the chief predator of all.  Predators probably experience fear, and need to be comforted, don’t you think?  Maybe we should have a picture of Jesus petting lions, tigers, bears, wolverines, traders in securitized sub-prime mortgage bonds, senators and IRS agents.  Or maybe not the last two, since they seem to have no natural enemies or any real competition in the food-chain, and therefore do not know fear.

If this all seems a little dissonant to you, it’s likely that you’ve bought into the “gentle Jesus” myth.  This is the notion that Jesus and the God of the Old Testament don’t have much to do with each other (think of it as a distant father/son relationship, but they really don’t talk much).  So Jesus can reflect only gentle meekness.  Maybe the only thing with legs that Jesus ate was, well, broccoli?  (Forget that Passover lamb, I guess….)  Cut to photo of broccoli trying to get away from a reaper.

Too many Christians seem to be functional polytheists.  They say they believe in one God, but in practice their concept of the Trinity involves not one God in three Persons, but three Persons who only get together on infrequent holidays, like other dysfunctional families.  And even then, They must argue over the war in Afghanistan and whether or not taxes should be raised to fund more social welfare spending.  Essentially, these Christian polytheists see Jehovah as a “Republican” (war mongering conqueror of non-threatening nations, excessively concerned with building wealth, and too moralistic and judgmental), Jesus as a “Democrat” (probably a pacifist/socialist/environmentalist/animal-rights-activist all rolled into one, who is still not sure about the appropriate legal/moral status of a fetus, and is willing to rely on your conscience in the matter) and the Holy Spirit as Libertarian or apolitical (after all, the Spirit requires the freedom for us to act out).  

What’s especially funny about this view of Jesus is that pacifism and socialism don’t mix, not at all.  Socialism requires government enforcement with threatened violence to make the redistribution of money happen, something lots of pacifist wanna-be-socialists just haven’t wrapped their minds around.   The most bloodthirsty nations in the 20th century have all had “socialist” in their names or central ethos.  Most of the recommended policies of environmentalists also involve some form of economic redistribution and enforcement with the implied threat of violence for non-compliance (else why would the unconvinced comply?).  “Pacifist-socialist” and “pacifist-environmentalist” are oxymoronic terms if ever there were any.

But I digress.

Underlying all this is an essential discomfort with the idea that God created predation, and that Jesus was God looking on in the Old Testament approvingly as the Israelites conquered Canaan, at His specific command.  Jesus was God as the Mosaic law was given (including what seem to us to be its bloodthirsty aspects).  Jesus did not lecture the Father from the cross about how the Father should really get over it and put this violent atonement stuff aside.  Instead, Jesus had already said, “Not my will, but Yours.”  Given the apparent separation of identity involved here (the real mystery of the Trinity expressed in the Incarnation), it is clear that Jesus didn’t see His presumed commitment to “peace at any cost” (the assumption made about Him by many pacifist Christians) as superior to the Father’s commitment to divine justice (with the aspect of mercy fully acknowledged in the sacrifice of the Heroic Son, really a sacrifice made by both Father and Son).

The Jesus I know thinks that lions, tigers and bears are pretty cool.  How else?  Does anybody really think that carnivores grew their claws and teeth and acquired their dietary preferences only after the Fall?  The Jesus I know thinks human hunters who behave responsibly are just fine, and He has nothing at all against self-defense, including violent resistance to aggression (again, having made us this way, knowing such a drive was critical for our survival, and not withstanding inadequate interpretations of Matthew 5:39 about “turning the other cheek,” which is about not overreacting to insults, not failing to defend yourself from real threats).  The Jesus I know created the human need for justice, as part of the Creator Godhead, and that need is one of many reflections in the Imago Dei.  In fact, that human need for justice is part of what makes us able to understand, “through a glass darkly,” God’s divine plan for the salvation of human beings, with its triple necessities to reflect God’s character in regard to justice, mercy, and love.

One incredible thing about the Cross is that Jesus didn’t have to allow it.  He was, instead, the mighty Warrior who gave Himself up, didn’t call in His army to rescue Him, and sacrificed Himself for His people.  It isn’t that Jesus just couldn’t conceive of anything else.  It isn’t that He saw not defending one’s self as the highest moral good, in some absolute way.  It is that He won the battle, and the war, by sacrificing Himself, in a strategic turnabout that took Satan totally by surprise (and Satan’s been denying it ever since, even going so far as to deny that there ever was a war, or that he even exists).  

I’m sure that no harm is done by cute little pictures.  Maybe they’re appropriate for small children, though children often have a greater sense of justice and the necessity for rational violence than adults may want to admit.  Children rarely look to the smallest among them to defend the rest.  They run straight to Daddy or big brother, who, it is presumed, will act with strength and good judgment.  And, childish though it may seem to some people, “who started it” really does matter.

As adults, we might be better served by art that depicts Jesus accepting and supporting people who do difficult work like fighting wars, catching and prosecuting criminals, or collecting debts, whenever and wherever such things are just.  Regarding the awful consequences of war for non-combatants, God tolerated “collateral damage” even in the New Testament, not just the Old, as evidenced by everything from Herod’s murder of toddlers (trying to kill Jesus) to the fate of many Christian martyrs.  In the end, justice is mercy, and love, even when it comes at a cost that must sometimes be paid by innocents, or even the only Innocent One.

In the meantime, let’s try to widen our picture of Jesus so that we always see Him as part of the goings on in the Old Testament, and see His words and deeds in the New Testament as literally fleshing out and refocusing the picture of a God who is the very embodiment of justice, mercy and love, who Alone (in three Persons) is able to keep them in perfect balance and wholeness.  Admittedly, there are some tensions in this approach, but there is also a deeper sense of God’s nature to be apprehended, and we are less likely to pretend that God is bi-polar (tri-polar?), or schizoid, for the sake of making it easier to ignore aspects of His nature with which we may be uncomfortable, or may have difficulty reconciling from our all-too-human viewpoints.

Aug 03 2015

A Debt of Gratitude

Category: Boy Scouts,characteramuzikman @ 12:30 pm

My scoutmaster, Don Powell, passed away today. I re-post this in his honor. Thank you, Don. Thank you for helping so many boys become men.


I spent much of my youth in the Boy Scouts.  Simply put, it was a great experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  In fact I think a lot of what has shaped my character can be traced directly back to my Scouting experience.  To this day I take great pride in the fact that I earned the rank of Eagle Scout –  it still appears on my resume, some 35 years later.

I was fortunate enough to be part of a very active Scout troop.  We hiked, we camped, we climbed mountains and floated down rivers, we performed community service and we went to Scout camp. We were out camping at least one weekend every month of the year and a couple weeks during the summer. I was even fortunate enough to travel to other countries as a Scout.  It was a tremendous experience.

But what made the greatest impact on my life was not the camping, or the hiking or the mountain climbing, or any of the other activities.  No, what helped me to mature and to learn about life was being around the men who volunteered to be Scout leaders and to give so selflessly of their time.  Men who often had just 2 weeks paid vacation each year, and regularly spent both of them on a Scout trip.  Men who had wives who must have been angels.

I was blessed to encounter men all along the way who taught me what growing up was all about.  Men who took the time to spend time with boys and to point the way to manhood.  Most I knew just by their first names, some had Scouting nicknames like Jolly, Bubbles, Rock-Ape and Kahuna – names that sound so silly now but seemed to fit the men so well at the time.  In some cases it was years before I actually knew their real names.

It was always a shock to me when I found out what jobs these men had in the “real” world.  They were electricians, phone company linesmen, defense contractor technicians, construction workers, teachers – blue collar workers almost to a man.  Their jobs seemed so small and insignificant, compared to the lives they lead as Scouters and as heroes to me and many other boys like me.   I almost never saw them wear anything but scout uniforms and almost all the interaction I had with them were on a dusty mountain trail or out in the woods around a campfire.  Years later when I would chance to meet one wearing civilian clothes I often thought how awkward and out-of-place they seemed in long pants and a necktie.

These men were not perfect. But that didn’t matter.  They were men who cared about helping boys become men.  In fact, the man who was my Scoutmaster for many years was anything but a dynamic or particularly inspiring person.  He was soft-spoken, not very graceful, kind of shy and kept a full beard to conceal big ears that stuck out quite a ways from his head.  (One time he did shave off his beard and scared us all very badly). But he loved Scouting and it was infectious.  He loved the outdoors and he took us there so we could learn to love it too.  He loved and respected boys and he earned the love and respect of the boys he was with.  He provided opportunity for us to experience, to learn, and to grow.  He wasn’t exceptionally articulate, or a motivational speaker, most of the time he did his job simply by showing up and teaching us how to do things like build campfires, paddle a kayak, and set up tents.  But oh… those were such valuable times.

My old Scoutmaster lives a quiet life these days.  He is retired, he survived a bout with cancer and has a little trouble getting around now.  He will never win a medal, he’ll never be written up in a newspaper or a magazine. No one will erect a statue of him in a city park after he is gone.  But he has an enviable legacy.  For scattered all around this country (and perhaps the world) are a group of now grown up boys who themselves have families, careers, and lives in their communities.  Men like me.  Men who remember what they were taught about honesty, trustworthiness, loyalty, honor, duty, perseverance and other important building blocks of character.  Men who form a living tribute to those who took the time to help them when they were boys.  Men who are now engaged in passing along those same values to the next generation, perhaps even to a group of young men in a Boy Scout troop, sitting around a campfire somewhere.

The farther I move through life the more I appreciate what these men did for me and what a tremendous debt of gratitude I have for them. I wish I could track them all down and thank each of them individually, but I wouldn’t know where to look and I’m also pretty sure at least some have passed by now.  Others just moved away or faded away, leaving Scouting when their boys grew older, returning to their very normal lives.  So, In lieu of a personal word of thanks to each, let me just say it here once for all.  Thank you.  Thank you all very much.  I found my way to manhood.  It was right where you told me it would be. My hope and prayer is that if you saw my life today you would think the time you invested in me was time well spent.

Feb 10 2015

Another American hostage dead

Category: Islam,jihad,Obama,terrorismamuzikman @ 10:08 am

Kayla Meller, the American woman held hostage since 2013, has died, apparently, at the hands of her Islamic terrorist captors. I don’t even want to imagine what horrors she must have endured while in captivity or the method used to end her life. It is too horrific to imagine, especially while the images of the Jordanian pilot being burned alive are so fresh in my mind.
We have seen the Jordanian response to the death of their citizen. Jordan immediately executed two Islamic terrorist prisoners and has launched repeated airstrikes against ISIS.
I wonder what the USA response will be to this death of an American. The president has said, “No matter how long it takes, the United States will find and bring to justice the terrorists who are responsible for Kayla’s captivity and death. I can’t help but wonder if he said it going to or coming from the golf course.

Feb 01 2015

Do You Remember?

Category: Boy Scouts,friendshipamuzikman @ 10:34 am

I went to visit an old friend today. As I made the long drive to his house I started counting up the years and realized I have known him for almost 50 years. To my sadness and regret I have allowed too much time to pass between visits. I think it has been somewhere around 10 years. Time has taken its toll. His thick beard is entirely gray now. He has trouble getting up from his chair. He must use a walker to get around. Sometimes he does not make it to the bathroom in time.

He has Alzheimer’s disease…

He did not recognize me when I came in. He had to ask me for my name again. He really did not know who I was. He was always a man of few words but as I sat with him there were several long silences, during which he simply looked at me. It soon became apparent he was working internally, piecing together enough memory fragments to recall that he did know me and to collect some notion of how.

Friendship can be born from many things, such as shared work space, recreation, mutual friends, mutual interests. But friendships are nourished and grow through shared experience. Our best friends are the ones with whom we share the most experiences and we relish the camaraderie that comes from remembering times spent together, both good and bad.

Like so many things in life, memory is not fully appreciated until it is gone. This man was instrumental in helping me navigate the journey from boyhood to manhood. I’d like nothing more than to sit with him and reminisce. I’d like to honor him by telling him how much those memories mean to me and how profoundly those experiences were in helping to shape me. I’d like to recall some great times and in doing so let him know that I still think of them as great times.  But the lid to that treasure chest is almost completely closed forever thanks to this disease called Alzheimers.

Imagine sitting down with one of your best friends and having a conversation in which you cannot reference anything from the past.  I found out just how difficult that is. We build upon memories while creating new ones, and when that remembered context is gone there is very little on which to build.

By the end of the day my friend had put enough pieces together to recall it had been a long time since our last visit.  I will always regret that because it wasn’t just the years in between that we missed, it turns out we lost all the preceding years as well. That was my fault….not taking the time to keep in touch as I should.  I will try to do better with the time we have left before the disease takes him completely away.

Do you have a friend with whom you have not spoken in a while?  Call them up and reconnect.  Ask them, “Hey do you remember the time we…?” And be thankful when the answer is “yes”.

Jan 06 2015

An engineer explains why the IPCC climate models failed to predict the reality of the last 20 years

Category: environment,global warming,government,Group-thinkharmonicminer @ 9:39 pm

This is all pretty theoretical, and may be hard for some to follow. But the point is simple: even in purely theoretical terms, IPCC climate models are fatally flawed because they are too simple, and allow themselves to be driven by only a single variable, CO2, and assumptions of CO2 climate sensitivity expressed as a constant (which those models make wild guesses at).

Thankfully, we don’t have to trust only the theoretical reasons that the IPCC climate models are flawed. We have actual data. Global warming essentially stopped around 16-19 years ago. Even the traditional “97 percenters” have had to admit that. The models of the mid 1990s that the so called “97 percent” relied on have been falsified. Simple as that. So the modelers keep coming up with ad hoc and post hoc explanations for why the models didn’t work, none of which can actually be tested, and none of which fit all the available facts. And I thought spinning was limited to political consultants. Oh, I forgot… the whole global warming enterprise IS essentially a political one, not a scientific one. But I digress.

One way to read the attached article is as one explanation for why the known bad models didn’t work. In a way, all of the attempts by the 97 percenters to come up with explanations for why their models failed are an acknowledgement of the second equation in the article linked above, ∆T = k.log( ∆CO2) + f(∆x), where the last term, f(∆x), has nothing at all to do with CO2. Apparently, there is at least one such term in any equation that actually describes the reality we now know. Read the article. It should make at least some sense to you. The triangle is read as “change in.”

The point: CO2 is not the only, or probably even a major, variable in climate change, which is reality, and has always happened over sufficient time.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t seem to have caught up with the facts of the situation (namely, that global warming has stopped, the IPCC is dead wrong, but so much entrenched power and privilege is driving the global warming scam that it won’t die easily), and still believe the scare-mongering. It’s kind of sad, really.

Oct 06 2014

Shack time

Category: humorsardonicwhiner @ 10:19 am

We all know about various physical and mathematical constants. The natural log e, pi, Planck time, etc. Here’s a link to a bunch more.  That’s a lot of constants for a post-modern world.

Having said that, I would like to propose a new constant, which in fine scientific tradition I will name “Shack time.” Because we’re all post-modernists now, Shack time has no particular value, although it is not too long and not too short. Shack time is:

1) The time between getting in the elevator and realizing you’ve pressed the button for the floor you’re already on.

2) The time between trying to put your office key in the door and realizing you’re using your house key…. or vice versa.

3) The time you spend looking on the dash for the power button of your other car that isn’t a Prius. This is closely related to the time you spend trying to put your other car’s key into the steering column of the Prius.

4) The time between the beginning of a Faculty Senate meeting and your brain’s beginning production of deep theta waves.

5) The time between a conductor’s downbeat and the first note from the viola section (sorry…. couldn’t resist)

6) The time it takes to try both possible ways of inserting a USB cable before realizing you were right the first time.

7) The time you spend looking over your three computer screens trying to find the mouse. (Although lately I’ve been using something called Mouse Locater that really helps. This has resulted in a new Shack time interval, the time you spend admiring the neat graphic surrounding your mouse position.)

8)  The time between placing a Coke Zero near the cold air vent in the freezer (because you didn’t plan ahead) and the eventual explosion of the Coke Zero can because you forgot about it.

9)  The time it takes to discover that you’ve been trying open the electronic lock to your classroom door with your ATM card.

10) The time you’ve wasted reading this.  (Note that there is no implication that reading *all* of this was necessarily a waste…. but surely at least one of the items was. You pick.)


Jul 25 2014

MLK was a racist???

Category: race,racismamuzikman @ 2:25 pm

Apparently Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech reflected an “insufficient..half-measure…that in the end operates as a form of racism.”

Read here

Who knew………..

Jul 15 2014

Applying the same low standard

Category: abortion,illegal alienamuzikman @ 11:56 pm

One of the major criticisms leveled at those of us who are pro-life goes something like this:
“The pro-life crowd only cares about babies until they are born.” and, “Anti-abortion people never put as much money and effort into early childhood health care, parent education, nutrition, etc as they do into trying to stop abortions”
Without even touching on the merits of such accusations, let me apply them in a different direction. Can it also be said: “The pro-undocumented immigration folks will only care about these people until they get amnesty.” or “If you are in favor of so many illegals crossing our border why don’t you step up and agree to house, clothe and feed some in your own home?”

Absurd accusations are just that, and do nothing to promote a useful conversation or find solutions. Yet we seem increasingly willing to use “Facebook chic” memes as poor substitutes for rational discourse.


Apr 26 2014

Benghazi questions the media doesn’t seem to ask

Category: corruption,government,Group-think,mediaharmonicminer @ 7:18 pm

Mar 16 2014

Hot water bottles and youth

Category: humorharmonicminer @ 1:14 am

So, I went to CVS pharmacy to get a hot water bottle. (Don’t ask.) Two young clerks up front. Clerk #1: “Well, sir, we don’t have hot water bottles, but you can get chilled water bottles on aisle 20.” Dumbfounded look from me… I turn to Clerk #2 with the same question, who says, “She’s right, sir, we only have chilled water bottles on aisle 20.” So I give up, and go find the hot water bottles back in the section with heating pads and such.

I return to the front, and this time there’s a nice middle aged lady behind the counter, a manager, I think, with the two young clerks. So I smile big and drop the the hot water bottle on the counter in front of Clerk #2, and say, “THIS is a hot water bottle.” He looks at me, suspiciously, like maybe I snuck it in just to make him look bad.

But manager lady immediately gets it, we make eye contact, and both break out laughing. She says, “He just wasn’t born yet.”

We laugh harder.

In the meantime, Clerk #1 has joined the party, and is reading the box, mystified, as if such a possibility had never occurred to her, and she’s mumbling, “Soothes pain. Relieves muscle aches. Latex free. One water bottle and stopper.”

We laugh even harder.

Next Page »