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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sunspots 644


Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:


The Arts: National Public Radio reports on the most popular plays and musicals put on by high schools.

Christianity: A Christianity Today writer on the fallacy of spiritual gifts.

A Christianity Today writer says that there's no such thing as a "Christian numerologist," and that the world isn't going to end in the next few days.

Sojourners asks if we have ever heard a sermon about domestic violence. (I haven't)

Christianity Today summarizes the careers of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. It's a cautionary tale -- there, but for the grace of God, and vigilance on my part, go I (only not so far, I guess).

Relevant says that churches shouldn't try to be cool.


Computing: Gizmo's Freeware reminds us that, with a bit of tweaking, we can do a Google search for copyright-free images.

Wired reports on font detectives -- experts who evaluate the authenticity of printed materials based on the fonts used. For example, a document supposedly printed in 1980 is a fake if it uses a font created in 1995.

Relevant suggests a method for determining how authentic a web source is -- for example, identifying fake news.

History: Listverse discusses 10 Roman Emperors that you've probably never heard of.

(and mathematics, and philosophy) The History Blog reports that an Indian manuscript, using a precursor of what we call zero, or naught, dates to at 400 AD, or older. The post also discusses the rise of the modern understanding of zero.

Humor: (or something) National Public Radio reports on a 10-year-old boy who volunteered to mow the White House lawn for free, and got the chance, at 11 years old.


Politics: FiveThirtyEight has checked into how much of books by politicians that people actually read.

Relevant reports that white evangelical Christians have become remarkably more accepting of immoral behavior in politicians, in the last six years.

Science: (and Christianity) Ken Schenck reverently re-writes Genesis 1:1 in terms of modern science. (This probably won't be meaningful unless you have a pretty good science background. Schenck, who is Dean of a School of Theology, has such a background.) I posted about this essay two days ago, but it's important enough that I am mentioning it again.

The BBC tells us why it is so hard to swat a fly -- it has to do with the speed of their vision, and behavior.

I learned, from the Wikipedia, that there is an artificially produced element named for the state of Tennessee -- Tennesine, element 117.



Image source (public domain)

Monday, September 18, 2017

Genesis 1:1 in terms of today's science

Genesis was communicated for the culture of its time. It says nothing about bacteria, cells, atoms, or galaxies. That doesn't mean, of course, that God didn't know about these things!

Ken Schenck has reverently re-written Genesis 1:1 in terms of modern science. (The result will be more meaningful, the better science background you have. Schenck, who is Dean of a School of Theology, has a fine background in science.) In case you are wondering, Schenck's essay says nothing about how old the earth is, nor about the origin of humans. It's about the origin of everything, from nothing.

Thanks for reading. Read Schenck!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 66

In a previous excerpt, Knapp stated that there are four features of "impressions" from God. These are Scriptural; Right (consistent with good morals); Providential (in harmony with God's will); and Reasonable. His discussion of the result of living by "Convictions from Above," according to Christ's example, continues:

All the Rich Results of Being Divinely Led also Find Full Fruition in the Life of Jesus. Possessed of all of the fruits of the Spirit, His life was a perfect representation of true manhood as God designed it to be.

Although such a cloud-burst of trial, opposition, accusation and suffering fell upon Him as no other man ever knew, yet, amid it all, he was never envious, irritable, haughty, self-willed, hurried, disappointed or perplexed.

Let us examine a few of the "fruits of Canaan" which grew in the garden of the life of our" Perfect Model," and remember that kindred fruits will abound in all who are fully possessed of His Spirit. As the pupil learns of the perfect example which he seeks to copy, so being made like Jesus, may we look to and learn of Him.

He was Humble. This was strikingly manifest in His subjection to His parents and to ordinances, to the indignities that were heaped upon Him, to poverty, and in His acceptance of His humble lot, and in other ways which have been mentioned. To all who follow Him He says, "Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls."

He was Obedient. He did the Father's will even as He taught us to pray, "as it is done in heaven." He did it promptly, cheerfully, continually. Whether it was to speak words of healing and of comfort or to suffer on the cross, He was obedient, and obedient unto death. Seeing from the beginning all the shame, reproach, hatred and agony that was in the pathway of obedience which lay before Him, yet He could say, "I delight to do Thy will, O God."


Excerpted from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp. Original publication date, 1892. Public domain. My source is here. The previous post in the series is here.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sunspots 643


Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:



Christianity: Christianity Today points out that (in spite of Article VI of the US Constitution) there now seem to be religious tests for public office.


Computing: A Scientific American commentary argues that e-mail should go back to being text-only, for the sake of cyber-safety.

Food: Relevant tells us that there is now a new kind of chocolate -- and it's pink.

History: Listverse tell us some facts about hurricanes, including how the naming system has changed.

Humor: (and health) Relevant reports that the tooth fairy refused to accept a tooth, because the child had not taken proper care of the tooth -- too much sugar, etc.

Scientific American has an article entitled "The Rise of the Recliner as a Male Social Space." Really.
 

Politics: FiveThirtyEight analyzes the changing religious affiliation (or lack of one) of voters for both political parties, and finds that both parties will have to change to continue to attract voters.

National Public Radio looks at Steve Bannon's view of US history, and finds it to be rather inaccurate.


Science: Nature reports that humans are evolving toward living longer.

Scientific American tells us how global climate change is making severe hurricanes more likely.

And Scientific American also reports that fireflies are in danger of going extinct in China, and why.



Image source (public domain)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 65

In a previous excerpt, Knapp stated that there are four features of "impressions" from God. These are Scriptural; Right (consistent with good morals); Providential (in harmony with God's will); and Reasonable. His discussion of the result of living by "Convictions from Above," according to Christ's example, continues:

Was it not reasonable also that Jesus should further enforce the truth of His gospel by practicing what he preached? Did He not do this? What a contrast in this particular between Him and the hypocritical pretenders of that age and this! He not only proclaimed the importance of prayer, fasting, self-denial, and personal work, but faultlessly exemplified these and all other truths which He preached. In these and all other particulars of His wonderful life He was always in harmony with an
enlightened reason. Calm, self-possessed, and luminous with holy light, He shines forth the great central sun in the gospel system, marred by no spots of ridiculous speech or action. May His misguided followers who are prompted to do absurd things in His name study more clearly this phase of His character, and then aim to be like Him.

4. Jesus' Life was Always in Harmony with Providential Events. Providential opportunities to perform the deeds the Spirit prompted Him to do sprang up as by magic before His coming steps.
 

He came in contact with the occasions and persons essential to His success as naturally as a magnet draws the steel. He never was guilty of the inconsistency of feeling that it was God's will that He should do things which God's providences did not allow Him to do. Forbidding circumstances, such as appall timid souls that know not the secret of God's full grace and guidance, to Him, as to all who will follow in His steps, proved golden chariots to bear Him up the heights of victory. Infuriated fellow-townsmen, ecclesiastical intrigue, and Roman power combined were unable to stop Him in the discharge of a single duty, but each in its way were made to contribute to His glory. He walked so fully in the providential path marked out for Him that there was not a single jar between Him and the events He daily met. Thus His life proves a forceful reminder that the door of providential opportunity always swings open before him whom God leads. May we continue to look to the "Model Man" until, like Him, our lives are thus adjusted to God's providential dealings.

Jesus Always Fully Met the Conditions of Being Divinely Led. His humanity reposed in the lap of the Divine. Dead to the world, saved from self, filled with the Spirit, always putting the interests of the kingdom first, and unhesitatingly following every prompting from above, no matter how great the cost to Himself, the life of Jesus hangs in the gallery of the centuries as "Man's Perfect Model" of meeting the conditions of heavenly guidance.

 
Excerpted from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp. Original publication date, 1892. Public domain. My source is here. The previous post in the series is here.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Sunspots 642


Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:


The Arts: (Sort of) SmokyMountans.com has a fall foliage prediction map, for the entire United States. As of September 1, there are only a few regions which are expected to have even minimal color, namely, a part of New England, some of the Rockies, and Michigan's northern Upper Peninsula, and Northern Minnesota.

Christianity: (or, at least, good behavior) A CNN crew stopped what they were doing to rescue some people during the Houston flood.

An article on burdens pastors face, and which they often can't tell anyone about.

Listverse has an article on the excruciating types of suffering induced by crucifixion.


Food: (and hurricanes) FEMA uses the Waffle House Index to measure the impact of large storms. How Waffle House (almost always) keeps open.

Health: Listverse suggests that 10 different types of parasite could be infected me (or you) right now.

Humor: (Or geography!) Relevant reports on a couple who have visited all 645 Cracker Barrel restaurants in the US.
 

Politics: Scientific American details how the Trump administration is acting in ways that damage our National Park System, and National Monuments.

A statement from a retired official of my own church, The Wesleyan Church, on ending DACA, in The Huffington Post.

Science: Listverse reports on 10 strange planets (all outside the solar system).

Wired reports that fire ants have been clumping together and floating around, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Scientific American on the same subject.

Listverse reports on strange caterpillars, including one that jumps (video included) and one with hair that looks like that of the current US President.

Scientific American on the many possible "sexes," that is, people with more or less sex chromosomes than most of us, or with various anatomical aberrations, such as indeterminate sex organs, and more.

Sports: (And Christianity) A Southern Baptist minister and denominational official, who is a football fan, warns that football can take the place of God, in Relevant.


Image source (public domain)

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 64

In a previous excerpt, Knapp stated that there are four features of "impressions" from God. These are Scriptural; Right (consistent with good morals); Providential (in harmony with God's will); and Reasonable. His discussion of the result of living by "Convictions from Above," according to Christ's example, continues:

3. He Never Said or Did an Unreasonable Thing. He was always reasonable. He was so manifestly so that His bitterest foes seldom disputed His logic, and when they did they fell confounded beneath its lightnings. His replies so exposed their ignorance and revealed His own wisdom, that, dumbfounded, they "could not answer Him again to those things," "and after that they durst not ask Him any questions at all." His doctrines, His requirements of His followers, and His own life, were all in harmony with the cool conclusions of a spiritually enlightened judgment. Notice the illustration of this in a few of the incidents of His life.

(a). His Temptation in the wilderness. If He was to succor and sympathize with weak, tempted humanity, was it not reasonable that He, weak, exhausted, and alone, should meet and vanquish severe temptations? If the written Word is the weapon which must be wielded to defeat the enemy, is it not reasonable that our great Exemplar should embrace an occasion to teach us how to use it?

(b). His Plan of Propagating the Gospel. Could any more reasonable time for opening His ministry he suggested than that which He chose, in the very height of John's popularity, when the multitudes were thronging him, and the nation was awakened, and religious thought was at high tide as the result of the startling utterances of the new Elijah? Has any more reasonable methods for proclaiming the truth, and getting and holding the attention of a nation ever been found than His plain, pointed preaching, combined with the miraculous deeds of mercy which He gratuitously performed, and His fearless arraignment of the formalists of His day? Can we conceive of a more admirable plan for the work He had to do than His, of sending out "simultaneously a number of His most cordial friends and followers to assist in making the most powerful impression possible on the community?" Does not the sequel prove that He chose the most reasonable time, methods, and men for the accomplishment of His work?

Do not His public trial, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and the gifts with which He has endowed his followers, present the most effective and rational plan for the purpose designed that possibly can be conceived of? The rationality of Jesus' methods were unwittingly eulogized by the famous French wit, to whom a religious enthusiast came for advice about introducing a new religion. "Be crucified and rise again the third day," was the sarcastic, yet forceful counsel.


Excerpted from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp. Original publication date, 1892. Public domain. My source is here. The previous post in the series is here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sunspots 641

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:



Christianity: He Lives argues, from the Bible, that the days of Genesis 1 were not necessarily 24 hours in length.

And He Lives discusses the importance (or not) of belief that Mary was a perpetual virgin, and the evidence for and against that idea.


Computing:Wired warns us that robots can be hacked. In other words, we don't have to wait until they are intelligent and self-aware to be in possible danger from them.

Gizmo's Freeware suggests an easy way to download YouTube videos to your information appliance.

Finance: Wired reports that California's emphasis on cutting down on Carbon Dioxide emissions, and on green energy, has not hurt their economy.

Health: Listverse reports on 10 common "health" practices that aren't really healthy, such as the use of hand sanitizer.

History: Listverse reports on 10 controversies involving monuments, all but one of them outside North America.

Humor (or Literature): National Public Radio reports that the University of Southern California and UCLA are arguing over whether William Shakespeare should be spelled without the final e.

Politics: FiveThirtyEight tells us that there are now fake polls, in addition to fake news. And, I was surprised to learn, one of the main reasons for publishing a fake poll is to make money through betting on the outcome of a political contest. Oh, dear. Here's another post on the subject from the same source.

Wired reports that Exxon agreed that climate change was real, and human activity was an important cause of it, but did not say these things in its advertisements.

Science: Scientific American reports on studies of fairness in young children, who seem to have an inborn sense of fairness.



Image source (public domain)

Monday, August 28, 2017

What God hath promised, by Annie Johnson Flint



1. God has not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God has not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

Refrain:
But God has promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.

2. God has not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He has not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

3. God has not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep.


What God Hath Promised, by Annie Johnson Flint, 1919, public domain. 9 9 9 9. Modernized by changing "hath" to "has."

Thanks for reading.