Battle of the Bands XXXIII

10/31/2007, 2:00 pm -- by | No Comments

Moving on is The Same Lump! The next contestants await, from Romans 10.


Bible Discussion — Romans 10

10/31/2007, 12:00 pm -- by | No Comments

This week, looks at the next chapter in the book of Romans, Romans 10.

Genesis: 1-4 | 5-9 | 10-14 | 15-18 | 19-22 | 23-26
27-29 | 30-32 | 33-36 | 37-39 | 40-43 | 44-46 | 47-50

Exodus: 1-4 | 5-8 | 9-11 | 12-14 | 15-18
19-22 | 23-26 | 27-30 | 31-34 | 35-40

And the book of Romans: Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3 | Ch. 4
Ch. 5 | Ch. 6 | Ch. 7 | Ch. 8 (I) | Ch. 8 (II) | Ch. 9

Paul continues his dissertation on the Law, explaining that his brethren have to stop trying to fulfill it and realize that Christ has fulfilled it for them. He then declares faith in Christ to be the real goal they should seek.

Paul discusses the fruitless ways Israel has tried to achieve the righteousness they so desperately need on their own through the law.

Having already addressed the constant sinfulness of man and the universal providence of God, Paul now moves to the logical next step — spreading the news to everyone!

This passage isn’t just about what the message of salvation is, but also about a call to share it.

Paul describes Isaiah’s prophecy that God would make appear to those who did not seek Him as “bold.”

The requirement of confessing with your mouth precedes believing in your heart. It reminds me of the verse in Luke 9:26 that says we need to not be ashamed of Him before men — then He won’t be ashamed of us before God.

Steve: Provoke
David: Glad Tidings
Josh: Untrained Zeal; End of Law
Connie: Contrary People
Erin: Confess

Continued here!

Clash of the Titans LVII: Job Tate’s Existence

10/31/2007, 9:00 am -- by | 12 Comments

In this corner, believing in Job, is Josh!

And in this corner, doubting him, is MC-B!

It is a question that has troubled philosophers throughout the ages. Is Job a real person, or is he merely some sort of literary device — a real man with real adventures or just an allegory, meant to teach us a lesson?

This could be simultaneously the hardest and easiest clash I’ve ever had to write. I know Job personally, and have seen him many times (albeit not as many times or places as he would have indicated). So I’m convinced. But for the benefit of the rest of you, let’s consider the evidence before us.

First off we have a rather large sampling of writings to reference. While “Job Tate” could conceivably be some kind of pseudonym, the writing has a very distinct style and voice. These writings also mention many places, dates and individuals, seemingly too many details to be faked.

Second, we have photographic evidence. While many people on the Internet use phony photos to deceive others, this is usually done to upgrade their attractiveness. I don’t see how that could possibly be the case here.

Finally, we have eyewitness accounts. While you may not know Job, you may very well know and trust someone who does. Steve, Tom, Djere, Mike, Connie, and myself are just a sampling of those associated with Bweinh! who could testify to Job’s existence.

Of course, even if you remain unconvinced, I think you’ll have to concede that the question of Job’s actual existence is not nearly as important as — nor does it in any way take away from — the truths we can learn from his tale.

I sometimes wish that I could be happily ignorant, believing with all my heart that somewhere out there in the ether a benevolent Job Tate watches all that goes on at and smiles, but I cannot. I am too rationally-minded to put my faith in children’s fairy tales any longer.

It is said that a thousand monkeys typing at a thousand typewriters would, after a thousand years, reproduce the works of Shakespeare. For the so-called ‘Best of Job’ features, I’d give twenty monkeys a half-hour. In short, the order that we perceive in “Job’s” articles is nothing more than random chance that we choose to find order in. Sorry, Tatists.

Of course, there’s also graphical evidence of Job Tate’s existence. If this type of evidence suffices to prove the existence of an entity, then Job exists, as do Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Homer Simpson, and Erin E-surance. Our pantheon is growing by the day.

Finally, there are personal testimonials of what belief in Job has done for people all around the world. Sorry, guys, but anecdotal evidence won’t cause me to put my faith in a concept as ethereal and unreliable as Job Tate.

Belief in Job is a panacea that detracts from our ability to solve Bweinh’s problems through our own endeavors. I’m going to say it as clearly as I can: Job does not exist, he does not love you, and he is not returning someday on a white horse to double our readership and make me write articles again. If we desire these things, we must achieve them ourselves.


Quote of the Day, 10/31/07

10/31/2007, 7:00 am -- by | 2 Comments

“The only way to make a difference is to acquire power.” — H. Clinton


10/30/2007, 8:00 pm -- by | 3 Comments

Looking through Houghton’s course catalog the other day on a quest to decide my future, I noticed a class called ‘Psychology of Religion,’ which included Sören Kierkegaard in its great theological and psychological thinkers. This was especially interesting to me because I had been hoping to write on the subject of the imagination, and I had thought of that as more of a psychological than theological topic. Kierkegaard tackles the issue of imagination from various perspectives and pseudonyms throughout his writings, but unites theology and psychology in his analysis of the imagination and what it means to humanity. In his work, especially Philosophical Fragments and Fear and Trembling, a possibly preposterous idea arises: that the human being would be incapable of imagination without the existence of God.

Much of Fear and Trembling centers on the story of Abraham and his belief — a prime example of how imagination is feasible only through faith. Commanded to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham dutifully obeyed, believing “on the strength of the absurd” that “through faith [he would not] renounce anything, on the contrary in faith [he would] receive everything.” What makes this belief possible?

Johannes de silentio (Kierkegaard’s pseudonym) details for us the “faith paradox” in which “the single individual as the particular is higher than the universal [: and] stands in absolute relation to the absolute.” In plainer language, a person who chooses for himself to make continual choices for faith in God comes into an appropriate relationship with God (the only real absolute), characterized by a “paradoxical and humble courage.” For this continual choice to be possible, humans must in the first place be able to comprehend something larger than themselves.

In the process of creation God gave to humanity not just a spirit of immediate understanding, but also a perception of God Himself, in whose image humanity was created. This ability to perceive God (but not fully understand Him) is why Abraham could “imagine” that although he fully intended to go through with the sacrifice, God would keep His promise to give him Isaac as well. It’s a logical contradiction, but Abraham’s imagination allowed him to make what Johannes Climacus (a later pseudonym) will call the “leap of faith.”

Making this leap of faith, therefore, is nothing more than humans imagining against logical thought that God will provide or move or manifest His will, then choosing to immerse themselves in the belief that their imagination is the only the beginning of God’s working. It is the choice to believe the imaginative perception God gave to humans.

I am not talking about dreaming crazy situations where God swoops in and, in nothing short of a miracle, saves the day; neither do I mean our usual, modern definition of imagination — that gift required to write a novel or create a beautiful work of art or escape boredom. Though those are manifestations of the ability to imagine, given to humanity by God, the root of all imagination is God’s need for a relationship with man. God gave man the imagination to create scenes or ideas or pictures beyond the immediate, but His love for man requires that this imagination be fulfilled by an absolute belief.

The example of Nicodemus in John 3 is not explicitly given in Philosophical Fragments, but the reference to Nicodemus’ struggle with this very concept was unmistakable, especially considering Kierkegaard’s audience. His chief problem was that he imagined in too literal a sense what Jesus meant by “born again.” His imagination lacked faith’s leap into the absurd and could not process Jesus’ metaphor. Although as a member of the human race he had been given the ability to imagine — the ability to have faith — he was “essentially deceived” into thinking faith was entirely his work. As a teacher of Israel, Nicodemus saw God as one who would “draw the learned up toward himself” because of a careful Pharisaical lifestyle. Instead, as Jesus instructs and Climacus’ writings echo, he must concede the essence of faith is that God “will appear, therefore, as the equal of the lowliest of persons.”

But this is unthinkable! Disrespectful! Unimaginable!

That is exactly is what Johannes Climacus shows: the human mind and its capacity for imagination are totally reliant on a consciousness of something far beyond it, far greater than it, and yet also of something (Someone) who condescended to become equal to it. This condescension overleaps the limits of mere human imagination.

Only once God “poetized himself in the likeness of a human being” could man begin to truly and imaginatively marvel at God’s love, “for love does not have the satisfaction of need outside itself but within [:]” God’s love, completely justified in His being, still needs man’s imaginative, passionate, absurd faith to be complete.

What could be more preposterous — yet absolutely true — than this?

Chick’s Last Will — Revealed

10/30/2007, 10:00 am -- by | No Comments

Which of these statements was false??

If you picked “Later in this tract, we discover that Herbert didn’t get anything,” you’re a winner!!

OOPS! There’s Baphomet again!

©1984-2007 Chick Publications, Inc. Reprinted without permission as fair use (parody).

Joke of the Day, 10/30/07

10/30/2007, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

Why did the blonde nurse carry a red pen?

To draw blood.

Boaz Bloom and Tumble-Down Row, Part One

10/30/2007, 12:00 am -- by | 4 Comments

The last from the Best of Job…

So I’m gonna tell you the story about Boaz Bloom and my run-ins with him down on Tumble-Down Row. If you know me, chances are good you’ve heard me tell bits and pieces about that summer, and a few anecdotes about Boaz, but I’ve never written it all down, or shared the entire story with anyone.

Well, there was Laura, that one day on Zuma Beach, but I don’t think she was really listening.

But buyer beware, this story does not house a happy ending. I won’t spring it on you, or try to punch you in the gut, but every time I hear the name “Boaz,” I get a little . . . a little off. But it’s not a name you run into very often, so I think reading this tale is worth the price.

It was 1983 and my Grandmother had died out in Missouri (don’t cry for me…I didn’t know her really). The rest of the family and I went out for the funeral, and during our three days there we proceeded to open a can of worms. Her house had to be sold, but it needed roof work, electrical work, plumbing, and all the things little old ladies learn to cope with. My parents had to get back to New Hampshire and their busy lives post-haste; my two sisters and brother (and their spouses and ratty little children) had come for the free hotel rooms my parents got for them — and I had only been home a week from my sophomore year in college, anxious to work at the ice cream shop again, to make out with Kim under the bleachers at the state fairgrounds, blah blah blah.

None of us wanted to be in Missouri.

My family is like water that boils towards the edges of the pot . . . we stick to a coast somewhere, either end of the union. That was where my Grandmother got abandoned, I guess. She loved Chap, Missouri to death, and she just wouldn’t boil away with the rest of her blood to California, South Carolina or New Hampshire.

“He’s a good Chap,” said her brick in the town hall mural. They were raising money to clean up some oil spill or something, so they auctioned off bricks. I liked her handwriting.

Eyes fell to me. My family is not all that tight, but we’re capable and know each other pretty well, based purely on intelligence. My Dad wasted no time in telling me I would stay in Chap to tidy things up — but he was just as quick to make the deal sweet for me, so I wouldn’t blow my stack. In exchange for serving (and eating) ice cream all summer, giving up the smell of Kim Cord’s hair, and forfeiting long days at the beach, I would receive a brand-new car when I got home — from the proceeds of the sale of my Grandmother’s house.

I was in. Chap, Missouri, God rest her soul, was a hole — but I was in.


The Council’s Ruling — Most Useless College Major

10/29/2007, 12:00 pm -- by | 156 Comments

This and every Monday, the Bweinh!tributors, having convened in secret for hours of reasoned debate and consideration, will issue a brief and binding ruling on an issue of great societal import.

This week’s question — What is the most useless college major?

Steve delivers the ruling of the Council, joined by Connie and MC-B:

Any major that involves a particular gender or ethnic group. These classes amount to indoctrination and prepare you only to spread propaganda yourself.


MC-B concurs in the result, joined by David:

_____-American Studies. Even if you’re going to work with that group in the future, a good deal of the information is presented from the perspective of someone who hasn’t.


Djere concurs in the result, joined by David:

Women’s Studies. I thought cooking, cleaning, laundry, and baby-making was genetic! Who needs college for that?


Chloe dissents, joined by Erin:

Liberal Arts – it’s a non-word! You don’t major in anything! You come away with debt and a hangover! You fool!


Tom dissents, joined by Chloe:

An undergraduate degree in Philosophy leaves one well-equipped only to ponder the futility of majoring in Philosophy.


Mike dissents, joined by Job:

Outdoor rec–everyone knows how to have normal fun, and everyone who knows how to have specialized fun is already an outdoor rec major looking for a job.


Josh dissents:

I have to go with art, since I can’t see much difference between a starving artist and a slightly more knowledgeable starving artist, besides all the tuition debt.

Next week: What was the most effective ad campaign ever?

Ask Bweinh! Poll — Favorite Numbers

10/29/2007, 10:00 am -- by | No Comments

This edition of the Ask Bweinh! poll is brought to you by the Bell Curve, determining your (collective) life expectancy, intelligence, and spleen weight since the beginning of time!

Cardinal numbers, one through ten — finally ranked the right way!

Rank Number Points
1. Three 24
2. Seven 20
3. Two 10
4. One 9
5. Eight 8
6. Nine 7
7. Six 6
8-10 (tie) Pi; Five; Ten 5
Other e; Four 2-4

Football Results (Week Eight)

10/29/2007, 8:30 am -- by | 1 Comment

This year, the Bweinh!tributors shall compete each week by proxy on the mighty gridiron!

The eighth week’s results
San Diego def. Houston; Philadelphia def. Minnesota; NY Giants def. Miami
Pittsburgh def. Cincinnati; New Orleans def. San Francisco

Bweinh!tributor This Week Overall GB
Mike 5-0 30-10
Steve; Djere 4-1 30-10
Josh 0-0 26-9 1.5
Tom 3-2 27-13 3
Connie 3-2 26-14 4
Erin 3-2 16-4 4
MC-B 3-2 25-15 5
David 2-3 23-17 7
Chloe 4-1 16 wins
Job 0-0 12 wins


By category
Avid fans: 98-37 (.726)
Slight fans: 53-27 (.663)
Uninterested: 110-65 (.629)

Quote of the Day, 10/29/07

10/29/2007, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.” — Socrates

Why We Believe, Vol. 3.14159265

10/27/2007, 12:00 pm -- by | 6 Comments

This and following weekends, we will share the brief salvation testimony of each Bweinh!tributor. Next in line is Tom.

I was recently behind the wheel, in the middle of a two-hour drive, thinking about what I would write for my testimony. I’ve attended a church for as long as I can remember, and have prayed the prayer of salvation a number of times, each in earnest, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember a specific time that could be boiled down into 750 pithy, life-affirming words. I was in a great mood despite it being a rather dreary day weatherwise, but I couldn’t come up with a memory to share that I felt conveyed the importance of having all of my sins forgiven at once. Then, the thought hit – why not this one?

A number of years ago, a fellow giving an altar call at a meeting I attended asked anyone in attendance who had not asked Jesus to forgive their sins and come into their hearts to pray a simple prayer of salvation with him. He then went on to ask anyone who had done so already to pray the same prayer anyway. He told us he took every opportunity to pray that prayer, and if you look at it closely it becomes apparent why. The typical prayer for salvation you see outlined goes something like this:

1. Acknowledge in your heart that Jesus is Lord.

2. Confess that you are a sinner in need of grace.

3. Believe that Jesus died for your sins and was raised three days later.

4. Repent of your sins, and ask for His forgiveness.

Each and every point of this simple prayer is as true for me today as the first time I prayed it. Jesus is still Lord. I am still a sinner in need of grace, even if that grace has been extended to me. I still believe that he died, and was raised again. And I still willingly commit sins for which I need to be forgiven. My salvation isn’t a single event, although it does begin that way. I took that opportunity in my car to pray that prayer, and I believe it as important to my life as any I’ve ever prayed.

A life is a lot like a trip, one that takes a lot longer than two hours, and can sometimes be a lot less pleasant than a rainy, 45 degree day. As we take that walk, it’s important not only to remember the steps that got you where you are today, but to consider and take those steps that will keep you on the path on which you’ve started.

Clash of the Titans LVI: Is Baseball Boring?

10/26/2007, 11:30 am -- by | No Comments

In this corner, calling baseball boring, is David!

And in this corner, disagreeing, is Erin!

Baseball revolves around 18 players, guaranteed a minimum of 3 “at-bats”. These “at-bats” comprise all of the “action” in the game. Upon leaving the “on-deck circle,” the player initiates an “at-bat” by performing a series of rituals, which include spitting, scratching, adjusting his athletic supporter, clearing his nasal passages using either digital extraction or single nostril compression, adjusting the Velcro straps on his batting gloves, rubbing dirt on his gloves, inspecting his bat, and swinging the bat several times to assure it is operating properly (no one wants to get “caught looking” at a third strike because their bat jammed).

The manager of the team then uses a series of hand gestures and body contortions to relay his “score” for the rituals to the third base coach. Once at the plate, the player has only seconds to read the score as it is relayed by the third base coach. He can then either accept the score, or call time, step out of the “batter’s box,” and begin the rituals over again in the hope of getting a better score. These ratings can account for up to 65% of his “slugging percentage,” so they are extremely helpful during “arbitration hearings.”

Once the score is settled, the “catcher” then calls for the “pitch,” using a combination of hand signals and Morse code. Due to the noise of the snoring crowd, this information is sometimes garbled, requiring a conference where the “catcher” jogs to the “mound,” while the “pitcher” stares in confusion.

“What’s a fart ball?”
“A fart ball? I’ve never heard of that!”
“It was FAST ball! FAST ball!”
“No, dude, that was an R. An S is dot DOT dot!”

Boring as this is to watch, it often leads to the most exciting play in baseball — “the brawl.” This is not to be confused with a hockey brawl, in which people actually fight — but sometimes while the catcher and pitcher are getting their signals right, the batter falls asleep, and the catcher calls for a “brushback pitch” to wake him. He usually awakens angry and confused, and lurches onto the field, yelling unintelligibly. This awakens the crowd, which in turn awakens the players on the bench, who stumble around, groggy and puzzled, shouting and gesturing in an attempt to find out whether the game is over and, if so, who won.

Once order is restored, the batter takes a mandatory 17 pitches, is declared either out or safe, and leaves. The broadcast crew, a team of sociopaths skilled in torture, replay all 17 pitches with a computer, to show the audience what they missed while they were fixing a sandwich.

All of us have been to a basketball game. They are fast-paced, whirling dervishes of action: high scoring, adrenaline-carried affairs that, wouldn’t you know, capture the attention of millions upon millions of ADHD-leaning Americans. Much of the time, when thinking of baseball, people look instead to a sport such as basketball, and they expect baseball to be roughly the same, except with a square field, a stick and a smaller spherical projectile.

But baseball is different. It is slower, more careful, but at the same time, it contains all the enthralling moments that make sport so very addicting. It takes concentration and precision to play, and (horror of horrors!) attention and patience to watch, but these just make it even more enjoyable.

I remember the first home run I ever saw. It was at a West Michigan Whitecaps game in their old stadium outside of Grand Rapids, and I think they were playing Ludington. No, I can’t recall the player or the inning or even the final score, but knowing that one person sent the ball flying that far had a magical quality about it that demanded respect for the players and the game.

And who can deny the tee-ball culture in which so many of our youths take part — often “encouraged” by a slightly overzealous parent — which keeps them active and out of trouble, teaches them to work and play as a team, shows them to listen to worthy authority, and coaches them to improvise. All of these are parts of baseball. Though calling it “the American pastime” may be a cliché, to some degree it is quite true.

So say the children who played tee-ball in their community leagues, their city parks, or their sandlots eventually grow up and become adult baseball fans. They know the calls and the punishments, and they can shout (righteously angered) at an ump who is clearly calling the game in favor of the other team (crooked cheaters!). They can tell when a pitcher is tiring or a shortstop is oblivious or a runner without fail is going to steal third base. In short: the fans love the game. They aren’t fair-weather; they aren’t in it for the adrenaline: they are in it for the team.

Baseball is skill. Baseball is style. Baseball is patience. And as long as there are people who eat Cracker Jack, buy nosebleed seats, and take their kids to buy their first real baseball glove, when you flip through the radio channels on hot summer evenings, you will hear:

Steeeeeeeee — rike three! And he’s outta there!


Open Letter to George W. Bush

10/26/2007, 10:00 am -- by | 11 Comments

Dear Mr. President:

You do not know me, and chances are you will never read these words, but there are things that need to be said for posterity’s sake, and now is as good a time as any to say them. Perhaps, as the elderly gentleman who had lost both his sight and his hearing said, when asked why he still attended church, “I just want to make sure everyone knows which side I’m on.”

Thank you.

First of all, thank you for standing up for yourself when the media and liberal forces in this nation attempted to bully you into forfeiting an election you had rightfully won. All of us remember where we were when 9/11 happened, and many of us can recall our first salient thought — “What if George Bush had not taken office?!” Your courage and leadership were indispensable during those days, and I believe now, as I did then, that God had raised you up for “such a time as this” in our nation’s history.

Secondly, thank you for serving, though you knew you would willingly expose yourself and your family to the ridicule and disrespect with which this nation treats its elected officials. I am embarrassed for my nation. To whatever extent I can, I truly apologize. From being fodder for late-night comics and the main target of the liberal media, to being the scapegoat for every natural disaster that hit our shores during your terms in office, you have borne it all with dignity. You have never lashed out at your enemies and have always carried yourself with class. You’ve done nothing to sully the name of Jesus Christ, whom you have publicly acknowledged as your Lord and Savior.

Thirdly, thank you for having the courage of your convictions. I believed you when you said that this war on terrorism was not a war that could be won in a year, or even a decade, but that it was nonetheless a war that must be fought. You never tried to deceive us when you talked about the road ahead and the necessity of fighting terrorism in the breeding grounds of the Middle East and Asia Minor — it’s just that too many have forgotten why we went to war. It’s easy to do in the peaceful surroundings of a secure homeland. I do not believe that it is a coincidence that we have not suffered another 9/11 type event during your watch.

Finally, thank you for allowing yourself to be wounded for the betterment of a nation. I can only imagine the heart-rending decisions you have faced in committing our troops overseas, knowing that not all of them would return. You made painful decisions in the best interests of our country, knowing they would be detrimental to you personally. That is a sacrifice that can only be made by a true statesman; something a mere politician knows nothing about.

Thank you.

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