Cracking the “Cuss Code”

 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.  My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:7-10, ESV)
Eureka! I now have figured out why kids aren’t good candidates to curse.  There is a hierarchy involved, consisting of three groups of source meanings.
 
1). The “negative divine words”: hell, damn. These are not true curse words, as long as they are used in their context (i.e., a religious one).
2). The “butt words”: a*s, s**t. The former originally was used for a donkey. If used that way (which is rare nowadays), it’s not a swearword. It’s often used in many idioms, as well as compounded with “smart” or “dumb.”  The latter is synonymous with feces. (It is often used either symbolizing meaning “junk” or “stuff”, or as an expression of anger)
3). And finally, the “f-bomb.” Literally it refers to sexual activity, but it has been a widespread swearword used for many applications.
 
About children and their “innocence:” the first category will work its way through the preacher’s sermon. The second category, pertaining to the butt and excrement, is just goofy. And the third, final, and most serious swearword, the “f-bomb,” for obvious reasons, should NEVER be used before the parents share “the birds and the bees” with them.  Once they get into the nitty gritty, by secular standards, the floodgates open.  Swearwords are often a tool to emphasize and deepen the message one is delivering.

Now this may apply to adults in the secular world, but what about Christian adults?  In the above Scripture, from the Epistle of James, a unique NT book that applies the faith discourses of the Pauline epistles.  (James was supposedly a relative of Jesus, perhaps a half-brother, namely, conceived by both Mary and Joseph. His epistle is probably one of the oldest in the NT. ). Since God is the Great Author of all Scripture, it still applies even if it was pre-Pauline.

As seen in the above passage, the tongue has enormous power.  You can bless or curse with the same mouth.  So, whatever you do, I hope you understand the truth about swearing, at least someday.  Adults, with their sophistication, may no longer be “innocent,” but they still can be virtuous, kindly, and good citizens both in their earthly country, and the Kingdom of God (given that they are Christian, but again, only God can choose who gets salvation or not.)
Advertisements

A Tale of Two European Stores

A voice says, “Cry out!”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All people are grass,
    their constancy is like the flower of the field.
 The grass withers, the flower fades,
    when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
    surely the people are grass.
 The grass withers, the flower fades;
    but the word of our God will stand forever.
(Isaiah 40:6-8, NRSV)

Anyone near Philly remember the French store Carrefour? It had only two locations in the US, quite nearby each other both closed in 1994: Franklin Mills Mall (now Philadelphia Mills, started 1988), and Voorhees (a New Jersey* suburb of Philadelphia, launched 1992). Since its US demise occurred when I was only six or so, I don’t remember much of the store, except a few bits-and-pieces.  (Source: Embarrassingly enough, LOL, Wikipedia)

 
On the other hand, another foreign store that is wildly popular among Americans (and most likely here to stay): Sweden’s IKEA. It not only offers Scandinavian-style furniture, but offers a great cafeteria offering Swedish cuisine, including their world-famous Swedish meatballs. (Some people think their food is “doctored up,” especially people who bear Swedish descent). But who am I to speak for the Swedes? I’ve never been there! Anyway, they sell products from Sweden (and perhaps elsewhere in Scandinavia), and perhaps from kid’s tastes (or even an ultra-American adult taste, LOL), a “bistro.”
 
So Dolores (Dee) would you opt for the bistro, or the cafeteria? (I hope the latter).
 
This may be a pain sometimes, yet it may be a true blessing to speakers of languages other than Swedish. Instructions for building IKEA furniture are strictly pictorial, for they must be globally standardized.

Incidentally, building an IKEA project could be a great task for a person with high-functioning autism, who happens to be non-verbal.  But watch out!  If done in a sheltered workshop, not only might it embarrass “co-workers,” but they could get a competitive (“real”) job!  Now that’s innovation!

Also, while they do set jobs overseas, and thus it is rare to see “Made in Sweden” for an IKEA product, this really doesn’t matter, because they are willing to export worldwide!  With most likely little to owe anyone.  The US, on the other hand, only wants to import.  Maybe that caused the American demise of Carrefour, because all these French goods may have been unattractive to us (think escargot, LOL), or simply the fact that France and the US just tend not to see eye to eye.  But that’s ancient history.  If stores were a boxing or wrestling match, the competitors, in this case, IKEA and Carrefour, the latter would get lots of KO’s.  Carrefour still thrives, however, in many other countries.

But, as they say, all good things shall come to an end.  After all, IKEA didn’t expect to be this good in the USA.  They thought, “why share it with the country that has everything.”   Carrefour didn’t share that success in the US.  But who knows?  You could have too much of this good thing (namely, Swedish furniture), that is, once our country can’t stand it (not only mentally, but perhaps physically!)

Three words that are the heart and soul of economics:

Supply and demand!
*International (and some domestic) readers:  New Jersey is a separate state from Pennsylvania, which is where Philadelphia is located.  However, Pennsylvania (including Philadelphia) borders New Jersey on its east side, by the Delaware River, making much of New Jersey a suburban area to Philadelphia, together with its Pennsylvania suburbs to the west.  Alas, concerning these bridges, you have to pay tolls to cross over the river, at least in one direction.

Genius Has Its Costs (As Per Two TV Shows)

So tonight is this fall’s most “genius” night for TV, across two American TV networks!

First I watched, “Young Sheldon” (CBS, 8:30pm)  was tonight’s premiere of a prequel (set in 1989) of current sitcom leader “The Big Bang Theory.”  The 9-yr-old Sheldon, which, due to his super-high intellect, got into high school, but he could not socialize properly with the other kids.  He studied the entire student handbook, and rather than focus on his schoolwork, he would complain about his fellow classmates, picking on violations of dress & groom code.  This enters other spheres as well, such as church (questioning his fellow members about some moral issues, analogous to his behavior at school), among others.  It shows Christians should use our intelligence (or any gifts) to his glory, and be modest about it.  It was quite hilarious, and I’ll try to a loyal viewer!

The next show, on ABC this same night, at 10pm was “The Good Doctor.”  It involved a doctor who was also an autistic-savant, perhaps in his 20s.  Based on knowledge he learned in medical school, he was ambitious to become a surgeon.  At an airport, using his rich human anatomy knowledge (probably a photographic memory involved?), when a boy fell through a glass, and had bleeding in his neck and was unconscious, and needed some serious emergency attention, such as CPR, etc., he was there.  Here’s the twist:  he would, like Sheldon in the other show, question authority.  He may have those “Gray’s Anatomy” figures filled in this head to help him, but most other doctors wouldn’t want his advice based on such.  The more seasoned doctors had the experience, which in the  medical profession, typically leads over strict knowledge.  I may have high-functioning autism, but I could never memorize those anatomical figures.  Remember, he had that “savant syndrome,” which while perception and memory of the sharp detail is amazing, common sense was trailing.

The board eventually welcomed this new surgeon into their hospital.  There’s a catch, though could be in the OR, he couldn’t perform surgeries!  So he was a spectator watching the team of surgeons do their job.  Also, his motives were inappropriate:  One is money, the other is the death of a pet rabbit and a childhood friend.  (Or as he said it, “they went to heaven”). Well, if one is officially dead, get over it!  Surgery won’t bring them back.  If the hospital is a typical secular institution, that would not be the best way of communicating it.  Overall, he had no empathy.

So while “Young Sheldon” was a pleasant sitcom, “The Good Doctor” was a little far-fetched.  But they share a common theme:  humility is key when dealing with professionals — or even peers.  (Phil. 2:1-11)

Testimony: Three Dilemmas, All Handled by Faith

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  (John 10:10, ESV)

We’re going to discuss three issues I faced this morning and that a man of faith like me can handle, of course, with patience.  Unbelievers are stuck with their reasoning power, and while God imparted to all persons (Christians and otherwise), Christians have the power of faith, which goes beyond reason to solve much more profound problems that mere reasoning cannot.

  1. Missing wallet
    All this time it was under the bed, within the past few days.
  2. Could not turn on my computer with Apple password, which I have forgotten since I seldom use it.
    I called Apple, after I asked my mother what their phone number.  Upon getting to obtaining the serial number, I talked to tech support, and worked my way through the procedure.  I now have a new password for turning on my computer.  Hooray!
  3. Lack of olive oil
    Of secondary importance to breakfast, but essential for many omelets and other cooking ideas.  While I was busted, a friend brought me to a local convenience store, and bought it for me.

You can see in this testimony, “God’s sovereignty, man’s responsibility,” a central doctrine of Reformed theology (“Calvinism”), the Protestant theological tradition I belong to.  While we trust God’s is sovereign over all events of history, man is still responsible for those very deeds, that is, those which are within his control.  So despite loads of criticism (and I’m not trying to convert you to such belief), Reformed Christian doctrine, in my humble opinion,  is one of the most God-glorifying, man-humbling, and indeed beautiful expressions of Christian faith.

But in any faith tradition, always be thankful for what God does for his “sheep” (i.e., Christian believers). and to give more abundant life on earth, as well as eternity with him.

Science and Scripture Don’t (Typically) Mix

Some verses, aside from the creation narrative(s), are quite unscientific.

I give three key examples here

1) John 3:8 — Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus about the new birth included Jesus’ statement that the wind direction cannot be detected. Yes it can, thanks to meteorology! But that didn’t exist then!

His message is that you can’t always tell the people who are saved.

2) Isa 55:10,11 – This verse suggests that rain comes down ONLY to water the plants. Well, consider the ecological concept of the water cycle and some botany. In addition to evaporation from land and bodies of water, the air moistens due to another process called transpiration, wherein the stomata (pores) in leaves open to cool it, albeit perhaps at the expense of photosynthetic efficiency. Together, all evaporative processes are thus known as evapotranspiration, and has its sharpest effects in arid conditions.

All Isaiah said, living long before this science was known, in the next verse was that God’s word will do its will.

3) 1 Cor 15:36, 37 – Paul says that seeds must “die” to germinate. Well, they may be dormant, but the actual pending plant (the embryo), needs water, as well as food storages in its cotyledons (aka “seed leaves”). Once the seed does germinate, the cotyledons are the jump-starter before the plant starts to truly photosynthesize, and thereupon the cotyledons wither.

Paul is discussing resurrection of the body, not botanical principles.

These are just three of many unscientific points in Scripture that should corroborate its true purpose. Only some may be strongly interested in science, but all people need to know Scripture. AMEN

Reaping from Keeping with my Own Peeping

For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.  Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.  (2 Thess. 3:11, 12, ESV)

As was discussed yesterday, I was convicted (by Scripture!) that any learning (especially on secular topics), does not need to be matched to any other set of sources.  I’ve basically been, well, a busybody here.  So I’ve come to terms with the idea:  Let others research their way and do the same your way.

And, bar none, I have reaped many benefits of such.  I learned things far beyond what was in the Britannica!

In days past (when encyclopedias were more valued) libraries juxtaposed them with other sources (both reference and circulating), optimizing available knowledge.  Just like today’s Google.

Remember, my perspective on technology lies both in the 20th and 21st centuries.  Some things of the latter I like, others I would rather prefer from the last century.  Believe it or not, whatever its content, any print Britannica is fine, and may even find it unnecessary to keep the online and/or the DVD forms.  Any knowledge developed over the years can easily be updated, through yes, the Web!

And, in case you were wondering, the second portion of the verse above, refers not only in self-study (an existing — and and always persisting — pastime), but an actual job (and “living,” namely, to get paid), and thus wherever God leads me.  (But remember, after all, in NT times there were no universities or degrees!). And being “quiet” about such matters is to buck up and do whatever work that you are intending to do, not dawdling to draw parallels or competition.  (Of course, in the economy, business stands and falls on competition, but that’s a different story). It also, somewhat prophetically for the 20th and 21st centuries, bears the application of keeping within your own (sub-)specialty of a field and not crossing into others.

Americans:  remember those commercials for Delta Dental several years ago?  It emphasized doing one thing and being good at it.  It’s not the exact principle of this, for I do like to explore topics unrelated to what my main area of expertise is.  But I’d keep it casual; the web (or sources like Britannica) are prime examples.

Cyber-Coveting of Knowledge

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you; and covetousness, which is idolatry.  (Col 3:5 ESV, my emphasis)

Well, even if I really enjoyed something, I still often want more.

The principal example involves encyclopedias, preferably the now-out-of-print Encyclopedia Britannica.  Also with their CD/DVD options gone, all they have is the internet.  But since I have all three of them (and the DVD and internet very similar, I have some quality info on our side.

Now here’s the catch:  In an internet dominated world, encyclopedias have been all but pulled off from reference shelves.  But I’ve been a little nosey here.  I seem to seek a equivalent pathway, tracking what elese may match a source’s content, just to see what others may see on the same topic.

Well, everyone has different research needs for the same thing.  Look at the folllowing passage from 1 Timothy 6:6-10 (ESV)

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and[c] we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.  But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

While money and material goods are not evil in themselves, such issues shows that Jesus, in his Parable of the Sower, “riches can be deceitful.”  This is true especially when you sell things, but that’s a different story.

Back to my situation:  Not only that everyone’s search needs are different, one’s “Googling” is none of another “Googler’s” business.  So rather than get into competititon between what sources I have and what’s available to others, it’s best just to “count your blessings” and when exploring for more, be content on that you can find, and treasure that.  Metaphorically, that is a new car among many used ones.

Also, the idolatry here is that of knowledge.  As individuals, no person is a clone concerning interest.  It won’t work, so let it be.

This does not rule out sharing knowledge with others. I can by all means benefit ohers with such a tactic.  But I can hereby say that it’s not my job to be speculate on others’ research inquiries to get the “same results.”  It’s not logical, it’s not ethical, it’s not practical, it’s not, well you get the idea, to do such “speculative searching” online