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Saturday, July 29, 2023

We The People Bible: One of the most terrible products I've seen lately

This post is going to honk a lot of people off, probably.  Whether it cuts one way or another.  I know and accept that.

First of all, the older I've gotten the more I have come to understand something.  Mainly, that the republican form of government that the Founders gave us in the Constitution of the United States is ideal only for a people who believe in something higher than man.  Whether you call that something God, or Yahweh, or the Universe, or whatever, the Constitution is best suited for those who hold themselves accountable to that greater entity.  I believe that the past several decades have proven that in the hands of they who believe that man is the be-all/end-all of law and life, that weak attempt at imitating democratically-elected republican government has led to disaster on multiple fronts.

So yes: I do believe that the American government is intended for people who believe in greater authority than their own.  It is where all true law comes from.  It has been ever since Moses came down that mountain with those stone slabs.

I believe in the Constitution.  I also believe that the Declaration of Independence was the work of a magnificent assemblage of some of the greatest minds from throughout the colonies.  I think that the Bill of Rights is not taught about nearly enough in the majority of our schools.  The Pledge of Allegiance... ehhhh, I elaborated on that subject ten years ago, about why I cannot in good conscience say it (but I have absolutely no problem when others choose to recite it).

For saying these things, some are going to declare that I am a "Christian nationalist", a "Christian reconstructionist", that I have a colonial mind, that I'm a "right-wing fanatic" or... good HEAVENS... a "MAGA Republican" (whatever that is supposed to be).

Well, that's one audience that I will have worked up in a frothing frenzy.  Now it's time for the other...

A couple of weeks ago an advertisement began popping up on Facebook.  Usually this sort of thing just breezes past me.  But this particular item severely caught my attention.  Because it's the dire opposite of a lot of things that have shaped and molded my personal theology almost since the beginning of my Christian faith.

It's called the We The People Bible.  You can find it in a Google search easily enough, I'm not posting a link to it here.  As you can see it's got an embossed leather cover.  Said cover, in the words of the website, "was designed with the patriot in mind and features a vertical reversed American flag design that represents a country in distress."  Toward the back of the book there is to be found the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and its amendments, and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Oh bruddah.  How many ways can we talk about how wrong this thing is?

The We The People Bible is the very worst elements of what I've seen from most of a lifetime of exposure to Christian Reconstructionism: a body of tenets orbiting the notion that God has ordained Christians to seize power, so as to remake the United States into a theocracy based solely on the Holy Bible.

The problem with that is, that this theocracy is going to be forced upon people, whether they like it or not.  And when that is the driving influence of such a movement, the entire thing becomes antithetical to the concept that God gave us this country to govern ourselves.  America is supposed to be the land of a people who choose to seek God's guidance, as best he or she might understand that.  It's not meant to be a land controlled by those who believe their interpretation is to be imposed under penalty of punishment.  America is not like places in the Mid-East where "blasphemers" are beheaded and homosexuals are throw from the top of tall buildings.  But, I could spend all day writing about what I've seen over the years regarding this.

The heart-meat of the matter is this: I definitely have no problem with people reading the Constitution, the Bill of Right, the Declaration of Independence, or any other document pertaining to the founding and organizing of our government.  In fact, I want people to read those.  But to include even those hallowed parchments within a volume of scripture along with the fundamentals of Judeo-Christian theology, is tantamount to making them equivalent to those sacred writings.  They are not.  And I can't but think that the Founders and many others, including the scholars who compiled the King James Version (the translation that the We The People Bible uses), would be horrified that documents of this temporal realm are now on the same level as inspired writings.  This is the worst grief that I have with this product.

I said that's the worst grief.  Not necessarily the one that sticks out as being either the most tacky or visibly sacrilegious.  The upside-down flag on the cover of this abomination is ridiculous.  Those who study scripture will absolutely know that the Bible teaches us that those who give God their highest priority are not to be a people living in fear and anxiety.  Isaiah 41:10 tells us "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

So it is that the reversed flag - which is supposed to be reserved only for the most dire emergencies - comes across as a product of the politics of the era of this book's publication.

But consider: the publishers of the We The People Bible have literally wrapped scripture up in the American flag.  In doing so they claim custody of the Bible.  They want it to be known that the Bible is theirs to interpret and to decree from.  Instead of letting holy scripture work in their lives to affect and change their hearts, they seek to change scripture instead, according to the powers and politics of this frail and brittle mortal realm.

I might have just glossed right over the ads I've seen for the We The People Bible, had it not been for an intensive study I participated in college with others about modern religious thinkers.  The most influential person we studied the works of was Stanley Hauerwas.  And one of his books that we read was his 1993 tome Unleashing the Scripture: Freeing the Bible from Captivity to America.  The cover of which depicts a Bible literally wrapped up in an American flag.  Unleashing the Scripture became one of the most influential books during those early days of my Christian life.  I still feel it resonating whenever I'm tackling the subject of Christianity and its relationship with culture, and especially with politics.  And I got to say, that the We The People Bible comes across as a dark parody of Unleashing the Scripture, or maybe a Bizarro-World incarnation of Hauerwas's work.

It comes down to this: the Bible, I have no doubt about this, was the principle guide for the Founders when they set about liberating America and then crafting her principles into codified law.  I believe that the Bible has influenced history as no other book has.  But the Bible is supposed to define men.  Men are not meant to define the Bible.  If we are to believe that the Bible is perfect and inerrant (regardless of which respectable version one chooses to draw from) then we should be prepared to accept how it will apply to our lives.  To mold us and conform us to its image.  The Bible is not to be shaped and drawn out according to the fashions of the time.

And that is what the We The People Bible is an attempt to do.  Whether its publishers intended or not, it is become a weapon against those who are in disagreement with them.  Yes, the Bible is as a mighty sword, that divides between truth and false.  It can absolutely be trusted.  But when its publication is intended to be a tangible symbol of political power, well... it has gone too far and become something that is anything but in adherence to scripture.

Let us look not to carnal weaponry for our deliverance and salvation.  There is a greater Kingdom for us to build up and preach a citizenship of.  It is those edifices we are meant for, not the pale shadows of this fallen land.  God will be the judge of our efforts: Were they for His glory, or for our own?

I pray that what we do, will be done and has been done for Him alone.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Seems appropriate

Ten-thirty on a warm July evening...



Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Haven't done a "Tammy Tuesday" in awhile

For some time I was posting new pics of my miniature dachshund Tammy every Tuesday.  It's been a fair bit since I've done that.  But it just so happened that I caught a really good snapshot of her this afternoon while I was working at the desk in my living room.  I was eating some crackers and she insisted that I pay her the "cracker tax" (there's also the "chicken tax", the "cheese tax", the "barbecue ribs tax", etc.)...

I know: Tammy is not as red as she used to be.  Well, she is over eleven years old.  There's no not facing that.  But she's still in excellent health, and if you saw how playful she is you would think she's much younger than her age.  She always accompanies me when I turn in for the night and she makes sure that she takes a toy to bed, just like a human child would bring a stuffed doll.  I've been told by the vet that if Tammy maintains good health and is kept at an ideal weight, that we'll be in each other's company for many years to come.  Which, would make me very happy.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Had an interview tonight...

 ...and I hadn't gotten a haircut since January.  What can I say?  I've been busy on multiple fronts.  But I needed some fine coiffing before this evening.

Here's how it came out, along with what my "office space" looks like most of the time:

Among the items in the background: my Eagle Scout medal.  Poster of Vault Boy from the Fallout game series.  A MAD Magazine Hot Wheels car.  Waterjet-cut metal "Crimson Omen" from the Gears of War video games (made by a good friend).  One of my school board campaign yard signs.  Various CDs that have special meaning (including the Transformers score album signed by Steve Jablonsky).  The LEGO Doctor Who set (bought at a LEGO Store in San Diego, and I wound up giving a presentation about Doctor Who and explaining stuff, this one teenage girl said "you should be a teacher!").  A Funko Pop! doll, also from Fallout.  A Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man doll.  What you can't see: a LOT of books covering everything from Christian theology to local history to Harry Potter to plasma welding.  A few Warhammer 40,000 minis that I'm especially proud of my work on.  And a framed portrait of Dad.

For the interview I got dressed up, including the lucky Millennium Falcon neck tie that's a gift from a good friend:

I'm not usually one for "selfies".  Keep thinking that photos of me never come out looking very good.  But I was pleasantly surprised with these two.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

I've waited 32 years for this day

I should probably preface what you're about to see with something.  For the past few months, well...

There's really no other way to put it: I've lost my interest in Star Wars.

I can't finger any one particular reason why.  But what Disney has done with the franchise, what Disney has done period, is a major factor in that.  I find myself no longer able to support a company that apparently no longer desires me or my hard-earned cash.  It's much worse than that even: Disney is now trying to rewrite and redefine history so as to advance an extreme leftist agenda.

How do I in good conscience, as a citizen and as a Christian, find myself able to support that?  I can't.

Which makes what I'm about to post seem direly hypocritical.  But I think that this once, the good memories can take priority.  I mean, I have spent almost two-thirds of my life waiting to see this.

Disney's upcoming Star Wars series Ahsoka dropped a new trailer today, and for a few fleeting seconds in it we get our first look at how Grand Admiral Thrawn appears in live-action.  Thrawn first appeared in Timothy Zahn's 1991 novel Heir to the Empire.  Thrawn became such a respected character that he was one of the few elements to be adapted from the "Expanded Universe" and into the current Star Wars canon.  He has probably become even more popular as a result.

So how does Thrawn come across in our first live-action glimpse of him?

Pretty darn close to what I've always imagined he would look:

That's Lars Mikkelsen in the role.  Mikkelsen previously voiced Thrawn in the animated Rebels series.  I'd say he seems to be projecting the gravitas and dignity (for a major villain) that the Thrawn of the books has always presented.  I could accept this as being Grand Admiral Thrawn, if I ever find that I'm getting my love for the saga back.

Well, like I said, I've waited a very long time for this day to come.  And to be honest I had come to believe it would never happen.  But it has.  It's enough to pique my curiosity, at least.

Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Found my first op-ed article for my college's newspaper

The other night I was trying to locate something regarding my alma mater Elon University (though it was still "Elon College" when I was there).  During the search I came upon something truly wonderful: an archive of just about every issue of Elon's weekly student newspaper The Pendulum.

I got involved in the The Pendulum early in my first semester at the school.  At first I was a reporter, writing articles about the new food court and elections in the town of Elon.  But increasingly I realized that I could be a journalist... but what I really wanted was to write opinion pieces.  I had already been writing letters to the region's largest newspaper and more often than not they got published.  Carrying that passion to my college's newspaper would be seriously putting myself out there, with immediate feedback when the issue hit the stands.  This was my true calling as a writer: to encourage people to think just a little extra.

My first essay for the paper was published in March of 1996.  And it was about the true cost of abortion.  It was a quote from Mother Teresa that had me pondering some things.  It was as good as anything to write about.  I definitely was going in guns blazing.  It certainly did precipitate a response.  By the time the next issue hit I had received five death threats.  And then there was the female student who got in my face and said "You stupid pro-life f-cking piece of sh-t."

Anyhoo, the other night I went looking for some of my pieces.  And I found the one about abortion.  I took a screenshot of it.  Which included the worst photo of me that's ever been taken.  Seriously, what happened?!?  I look terrible.  Thankfully a better photo was taken for future articles.  But this one... wow.

So here is my first op-ed essay for The Pendulum.  Click on the image to enlarge it big enough to read comfortably:

The other pieces, I'll try to post those too in the near future.  But this gives you an idea of what I was up to in college.  Which, was one of the few aspects about my life as a student that made sense.  But that's something for another time.

Yes, feel free to make snarky remarks about my photo here.  I certainly do :-)

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Happy Independence Day America

The scene from the excellent HBO miniseries John Adams where Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and the rest of the delegates vote to declare American secession from Britain:

I have to believe that the mood of the room following the vote for the Declaration of Independence in real life was no less solemn.  The look on their faces must have said it all: "Dear God, we just did that.  That just happened!  What have we done?!"

May we come to again honor those men who pledged their fortunes, their integrity, and their very lives so as to give us the blessings of liberty.

Monday, July 03, 2023

Dear Elon Musk: Make Twitter usable again

This line from the 1983 movie WarGames has come to mind in the past couple of days:

Except right now it's Elon Musk instead of Dabney Coleman.  And instead of the WOPR computer the problem is that Twitter is, at the moment, complete junk.

A few years ago I embedded the timeline of my most recent tweets on this blog, in the right-hand column toward the top of the page.  It gradually came to be a great complement to the blog proper.  Instead of making a post about anything that I found interesting enough to share, I simply tweeted it and it would also come up on the blog.  It had become a "secondary spinal cord" of my humble website.

Well, as you can see, the timeline is gone.  There is just a link to my individual Twitter page and you can see some of my tweets there. I say "some" because Twitter owner Elon Musk has limited how many tweets you can see per day.  And oh yeah, you MUST have a Twitter account and be signed into it if you want to read tweets at all.



Musk claims that he's doing this to keep Google and ChatGPT and whatever other systems are out there from automatically sucking up information from Twitter.

What Musk has done instead is make Twitter absolutely FUBAR and completely useless so far as any meaningful work goes.

It's the proverbial "throwing the baby out with the bathwater".  Speaking of babies, why do I now think that had he been in Solomon's place, Musk would have gone ahead and cut the little infant in two?

"Mr. Musk, after very serious consideration, sir, I've come to the conclusion that your microblogging service sucks."

Well, there's only one thing that I can think about doing, in light of these circumstances.  That being: I'm going to stop using Twitter at all, for the foreseeable future.  If Elon Musk reverses course and rolls back all of these limits, I will gladly come back to Twitter and forgive its owner and anyone else responsible for doing this to us.  But I need my embedded Twitter feed back to normal.

Nobody of sound mind does this to his or her customers.  It's like the phone company limiting your calls to two hundred seconds per day.  That's how insane these new policies at Twitter are.

Maybe Musk will get the point if enough people complain.  Because right now it looks like he's sabotaging his own company.  If there's a financial angle to that, I've no idea what it could be.  But he needs to fix this, immediately.