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I wanted to select a book from the Bible I had not used before. I chose the Book of Titus.
This book is traditional seen as being written by St. Paul of Tarsus, to Titus, who had established his church in Crete. Some biblical scholars dispute this authorship. I know it’s hard to believe that scholars disagree.
I picked Book 3, verses 3-8:
Titus 3:3-8 (New International Version)
3At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
In verses 3 and 4 Paul is laying down the foundation for leading a life very different from non-believers.
Verse 5. God has saved you solely out of mercy, through the rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit. This rebirth comes to you through the sacrament of Baptism.
Verse 6. The out pouring of the Holy Spirit is given through faith in Jesus Christ.
Verse 7. By his grace God has written you into his will, as his heir. This inheritance is a sure hope. You have this blessed hope for now and forever.
Verse 8. For good, useful, and beneficial work to be done, those who believe in God are to take the lead. Believers have experienced his grace and blessing, and should show thanks for his gift by being good examples for non-believers to follow.
1) Is faith really a gift?
My perception is that Christ Followers believe that God’s grace is given freely. To me there is a price, giving up your will.
I agree that some people are born with sufficient faith, that will keep them going through all of life’s trials, even when they fail.
I did not work that way for me. I had to search, through trial and error, for a source of faith that would sustain me. I had to work to find it, it was not free.
2) Is leading by example the best way to encourage non-believers that your faith is what they need?
I can’t answer that question but I will make the observation that both people of religious faith, and Atheist, are falling short when it comes to being the kind of example that future generations need.
When I look at the news headlines I see mostly stories about murder, corruption and all forms of mayhem. I believe this presents a very distorted view of the world, and the human race.
In my blog I try to present a more balanced view. Below are examples of people trying the make the world better. Stories that don’t make the headlines.
Of course the newspapers, and TV news shows, have a lot more subscribes than I do. :) I guess most people really would prefer to read about murder, corruption and mayhem.
I believe the vast majority of people are trying to make the word better for their families, and their neighbors. Only a very small percentage are criminals, but they are the ones who get the headlines and help foster, reinforce, the negative view many have of mankind.
What do you think?
1) From a story in the New York Times, by Donald McNeil, about Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, and a rich man who is reaching out to help the poor.
“Andrew Witty is not quite as young or as buff as Anderson Cooper, but he does interviews in shirtsleeves from the slums of Nairobi and rural hospitals in Uganda.
What makes that unusual is that Mr. Witty is not a roving CNN anchor, but the chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s second-largest drug company.
Besides being the youngest person in such a post — he was appointed in 2008 at age 43 — he is also making a name for himself by doing more for the world’s poor than any other leader of a colossus of Big Pharma.”
Now Glaxo is ranked No. 1 on the Access to Medicine Index, created in 2008 by an organization based in the Netherlands that rates pharmaceutical companies on their stances toward the poor much as Transparency International ranks countries on corruption.
Glaxo has cut deals with drug makers like Dr. Reddy’s in India and Aspen Pharmaceuticals in South Africa to support their new drugs and jointly market Glaxo brands.
It is teaching Brazil’s state vaccine company, Fiocruz, how to brew its new pneumococcal vaccine.
Last year, in a speech to Harvard medical students, Mr. Witty promised to keep the prices of all Glaxo drugs in poor countries to no more than 25 percent of what was charged in rich ones, and to donate one-fifth of all profits made in poor countries toward building their health systems.
2) Stef Wertheimer’s, 83, one of Israel’s most successful industrialists, has an innovative plan to solve the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, using industry as a vehicle of peace.
From an article in World Press, by Sima Borkovski:
“If people are busy with work and earn good wages, they won’t have the time or the motivation to engage in terror. Religious fanatics only flourish where poverty and despair rule.” This is the basic principle behind Stef Wertheimer’s innovative plan to solve the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, using industry as a vehicle of peace.
Wertheimer, 83, one of Israel’s most successful industrialists, is anything but a dreamer. He has established an industrial empire consisting of ISCAR, the precision metal-cutting tools company founded in 1982, and five industrial parks, intentionally situated in peripheral areas in Israel. These complexes of export-oriented factories generate annual sales of $2.7 billion and provide employment to their surrounding areas. According to Wertheimer, “There are no unemployed, only people who are unlucky to find a job.”
100 islands of peace
Wertheimer’s initiative to create 100 industrial parks throughout the Middle East that will employ Israelis and Palestinians might sound a bit far-fetched, but it has already gained the support of important policymakers. The most prominent one is George Mitchell, U.S. envoy to the Middle East, who is currently on a regional tour of the Middle East meeting with leaders in order to reignite the peace process. Wertheimer’s peace enterprise is acknowledged in Europe as well. It is symbolic that, in March 2008, 70 years after he fled Nazi Germany with his family, Wertheimer returned to Germany to receive the Buber-Rosenzweig-Medal in Dusseldorf for his vision to advance peace through industry.”
“In this part of the world we don’t have oil or vast territories, and therefore we must rely on industry that can be exported to make it possible for us become part of the free world,” he explained. “Both Israelis and Palestinians are nations consisting of refugees, and unfortunately we have grown accustomed to living in fear. But it doesn’t have to stay that way forever. Israel needs to realize that power cannot provide an answer, and the Palestinians need to understand that they won’t solve their problems with terror. I believe factories should be the new path for peace. In all of our industrial parks, people of various nationalities and religions work side by side, and the conflicts are left aside because they need to meet their deadlines,” he insisted.
Wertheimer’s Industrial Parks provide a five-year incubator for small manufacturing export companies. Entrepreneurial creativity is encouraged, and the parks also include cultural facilities, such as sculpture gardens and museums, to display the beauty of industry.”
3) The thesaurus might equate “disabled” with synonyms like “useless” and “mutilated,” but ground-breaking runner Aimee Mullins is out to redefine the word. Defying these associations, she hows how adversity, having both legs amputated as a child because she was born without shinbones, actually opens the door for human potential.
From the TED Talks series, her very inspiring speech:
Two charts, from the great blog of Crabby Old Fart Don, comparing life in the ”Damned Good Old days” vs life in the “Damned Modern Age”. I just love this guys blog.
What do you think of these charts?
Fats Domino sang about Blue Monday, so I hope the following will give you something to smile about.
1) When bad weather comes we sometimes direct some pretty bad language at the weatherman. Here are a couple of Pelicans that took it a step further:
2) I like to start each day with a visit to the comic strips. Some recent contributions:
Mother at Fitness Center, “What will make me look like I did before I had kids? Pilate’s? Aerobics? Instructor, “A time machine.”
With today’s fashions one question parents don’t have to ask their teens is are they wearing clean underwear.
The 2010 family dinner table: Little girl – iPod, Teen – iPhone, Dad – iTouch, Mom – iRate.
Peer Pressure in 2010. Young girl to parents, “Why not? All the other kids parents are getting divorced.”
2010 Hollywood Interfaith meeting, “Have your God call my God.”
For some marriage isn’t a period in life, it’s a sentence.
Young daughter to mother, “If you could change three things about yourself, what would they be?” Mother, “My insecurity, my impatience and my hair.” Daughter, “That’s interesting.” Mother, “That I can be so self-critical?” Daughter, “That you didn’t mention your butt.”
3) A few blogs I have come across recently that I get a kick out of.
a. Mommy (and Daddy) Lingo – “Things I never thought I’d have to say to my kids.”
“Don’t hit your brother with the Bible”
“Get that tortilla out of your ear.”
“Quit licking the water off the pavement.”
“Stop! Get that banana out of your pants.”
b. The problem with young people today (crabbyoldfart on wordpress).
From his recent post, Affronts to Old People #10 – Being treated like a Moron, a Baby, or a Household Pet:
“I don’t care for generalizations but young people tend to fall into one of two categories – those that are terrified of seniors and avoid them at all costs and those that treat old people like damned babies and fawn all over them. While I can tolerate the former, Doris is a prime example of the type of pandering nincompoop that falls firmly in the second group – and who really chap my ass.
From the moment I enter the office Doris is all over me – yanking the coat off my back, calling me “sweetie”, asking if I have a “boo boo” and generally treating me like some feckless 5-year old who’s lodged a handful of coins up his nose and can’t get them out. It’s demeaning and humiliating – especially coming from some dimwitted young person whose primary responsibility is to refrigerate urine samples.
I don’t know why it is but it seems that as soon as you hit eighty, people give up any pretence of treating you as an equal and start speaking to you in combination of gibberish and baby talk as though you’re some wildly incompetent, overgrown toddler. Honestly, you half expect them to whip out a breast and offer you lunch for Christ’s sake.”
“But nowadays young people think they’re entitled to 10 of everything. Televisions, hats, slacks, fingers – you name it. They stagger through the outlet malls like an army of credit card clutching zombies – arms outstretched, mouths agape, blindly pulling items off the shelves with no idea of what they actually want; just an all encompassing sense of need.
If I had ever told my old mom that I wanted a 2nd pair of sneakers she’d have hobbled me with a meat tenderizer and relieved me of my need for shoes entirely. And she’d have been correct to do so.
What these young people really “need” to purchase is a moral compass, half a brain and a lick of self-restraint. It’s a shame they don’t sell those particular items at Abercrombie and Fitch or every young person on the planet would be clamoring to get their hands on some. And let me tell you – there’s certainly a god damned need.”
Wednesday, Feb 17, know to Christians as Ash Wednesday, began the holy period of Lent, which is the liturgical period leading to Easter, and the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus.
This practice was virtually universal in Christendom until the Protestant Reformation. Some Protestant churches do not observe Lent, but many, such as Lutherans, Methodists and Anglicans, do.
Many modern Protestants consider the observation of Lent to be a choice, rather than an obligation. They may decide to give up a favorite food or drink (e.g. chocolate, alcohol) or activity (e.g., going to the movies, playing video games, etc.) for Lent, or they may instead take on a Lenten discipline such as devotions, volunteering for charity work, and so on.
There are traditionally forty days in Lent which represent the time Jesus spent in the desert before beginning his public ministry, where he endured the temptation of Satan.
Matthew 4:1-4 (New International version)
1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Matthew 9:14-15 (New International version)
14Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
15Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
The three traditional practices to be taken up “with renewed vigor” are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self) and “alms-giving” (justice towards neighbor).
From what I have read Lent was traditionally intended as a sorrowful season, with breaks in fasting on Sundays, the day of resurrection, thus Sundays are not counted in the forty days of Lent. Different denominations count the forty days in different ways.
Fasting during Lent was more severe in ancient times than today. Socrates reports that in some places, all animal products were strictly forbidden, while others will permit fish, others permit fish and fowl, others prohibit fruit and eggs, and still others eat only bread.
During the Middle Ages, meat, eggs and dairy products were generally forbidden. Thomas Aquinas argued that “they afford greater pleasure as food [than fish], and greater nourishment to the human body, so that from their consumption there results a greater surplus available for seminal matter, which when abundant becomes a great incentive to lust.”
It was reported that in parts of Germany “great and religious persons,” classified the tail of beavers as “fish” because of its superficial resemblance to a fish and their relative abundance.
In current Western societies the practice is considerably relaxed, though in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches abstinence from the food products mentioned above is still commonly practiced, meaning only vegetarian meals are consumed during this time in many Eastern countries.
Being of Irish descent, both grandmothers, I also note that if Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17, falls on a Friday during Lent, the local Bishop can dispense with the rules and Catholics can eat meat. There is no mention of giving up alcohol.
Questions (updated 3:00 am, 02/19) -
For my Christian friends are you taking part in any of the traditional practises of fasting, praying or charity work (with renewed vigor) during Lent, if you observe it?
For anyone else whose faith does not include Lent, is there a period during the year that you set aside for the kind of soul searching, self examination, represented by Lent?
I was a Protestant until my mother died when I was 13. After that I joined my father’s Catholic Church. I gave up religious faith at the age of 18, after my attempt at suicide. I remember the focus was more on the penance, then on soul searching. I can’t remember any of things I gave up for Lent, so they must not have been that important.
If I had to make a sacrifice now the biggest would be to give up bacon. Since I can’t imagine life without bacon, it’s a good thing I am no longer a Catholic.
I don’t set aside a specific time for self examination, except for the end of the year, where I reappraisal if how much :) I need to improve.
Science is the process for testing ideas about the forces in nature that affect the world we live in. This process produces the most effective tools, technology, that can make our lives better, if we use them properly.
Of course these experiments are also great fun because we get to blow stuff up, take things apart, and create a gooey, slimy, mess. Kinda like a food fight using nature.
If I lived 1,000 years everyday would bring some new, amazing, scientific discovery about the world,the universe, and all the creatures that inhabit them.
Some amazing science news I have recently come across. A sea slug that feeds on sunlight, like a plant, and an experiment that created temperatures 250,000 times hotter then that at the center of the sun.
1) The little sea slug, Eysia Chorotica, can do what not other animal can. It converts sunlight into energy.
It does this by kidnapping the “photosynthesizing organelles” and some genes from algae. Once a young sea slug slurps its first algae it never has to eat again. It incorporates the necessary genetic material from the algae into its body, and from then on gets all the energy it needs from sunlight.
“This could be the fusion of a plant and an animal.” says zoologist John Zadus, of the Citadel. “That’s just cool.”
That is the only reason we need to conduct an experiment, it’s cool. As in, “I just blew up the 50 million dollar lab.” Cool!.
2) The folks at the Brookhaven National Laboratory have created a collision of gold ions, traveling at near the speed of light, that generated temperatures of 4 trillion degrees Celsius, the highest temperature every created in a lab, and 250,000 times hotter than the center of the sun.
That’s almost as hot as my last girlfriend got when I forgot the anniversary of our first date.
This collision produced a “freely flowing liquid composed of quarks and gluons”. Such a substance filled the Universe a few microseconds after the “big bang”, some 13.7 billion years ago.
The other amazing thing is that Brookhaven was able to observe an event that took less than a billionth of a trillionth of a second, less time than it takes light to travel across a single proton.
Scientific technology is operating at a level I can only begin to comprehend.
3) Since most who post comments here are people of religous faith I have the following question:
What is the difference, if any, between the thought process of religious faith, and the thought process of science?
I think the answer to this question might explain why people from each discipline can have difficulty communicating with each other. Sometime it seems they are speaking two different languages. In some respects they are.
The disciplines(?) of science and religion are compatible, even though to me the thought process for one is very different from the other.
Religion is an emotional experience. The words we use to describe it are emotional, love, soul, spirit.
Scientific research requires that we remove our emotions, as much as possible, from the process. The words in a scientific paper should be clinical, as objective as possible, written in a neutral tone.
Scientist are just as emotional about their work as people of religion are, but the thought process a scientist use to develop their ideas must be as emotion free as possible.
We think of a religious experience as coming from our heart. While scientific thought emanates from our brain.
Religion is a moral code. Science is a process. Both will infuse us with a great love of life, and leave us in awe at the beauty in it.
In science a person’s life ends at their death, will the goal of having made the world better for future generations.
It can be said that a person of religions faith believes the best part of their existence begins when they die. Their goal is to live according to God’s law, and gain the reward of everlasting life in Heaven.
A person can use both religious faith and science during their life. However when we enter one world, or the other, you may need to adjust how you think.
1) Valentine’s Day:
The first love song I can remember, from 1950:
Doris Day – Bushel and a Peck
A song that represents my love life :
J. Geils Band – Love Stinks
What songs is your favorite for Valentines Day?
Some Valentine Poems
Without love, the rich and poor live in the same house.
Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties.
I said to you, “Oh, please be mine;
Be mine forever, Valentine.”
I must have seemed like quite a fool,
Although I thought I was being cool.
I swore that we would never part,
As I put my hand upon my heart.
Had I been thinking with my head,
I’d probably have fled instead.
2) Darwin’s Day
For my friends from outside the US pick a favorite leader from your country.
Some quotes by Charles Darwin:
If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.
I love fools’ experiments. I am always making them.
How paramount the future is to the present when one is surrounded by children.
We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities… still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.
The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts.
Share any quotes by any person that has significantly influenced you.
3) Presidents Day
I have voted for every winning candidate for President since my first vote for Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Given the record of some of them I don’t say this with pride. :)
I actually voted for Tricky Dick Nixon twice. I guess we can be fooled again (The Who).
If I had to pick one President to celebrate on Presidents Day it would be our 4th, James Madison, who was responsible for the “Bill of Rights”, the first ten amendments to the US Constitution, one of the greatest political concepts every implemented.
“As a political theorist, Madison’s most distinctive belief was that the new republic needed checks and balances to protect individual rights from the tyranny of the majority.”
Which of the Presidents would you pick? For my friends from outside the US pick a favorite leader from your country.
Mendelssohn Psalm 42 First part, ‘Choir’.
9 I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
11 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Verse 9 starts with a declaration of faith, “God My Rock”, but then falls back on the human weakness of feeling sorry for yourself. Why has God forgotten you? You morn of being oppressed by your enemies.
My first exposure to poetry and painting helped me find the passion I needed to enjoy life. After my suicide attempt at 18 I found a way to persevere and survive. Get through the next hour, get through the next day. It was in the passion of the poetry of Walt Whitman, and the incredible imagination of painters like Van Gogh, Picasso and Dali that I found the inspiration to live with joy.
(Updated Question to make it more specfic)
What was the last poem, song, and painting that you enjoyed?
I spend as much time as I can in the world of the arts. Here are a few artist I spent some time with last week.
One of the best examples of love and passion are from two verses of the poem “Song” by Allen Ginsberg.
“No rest without love
no sleep without dreams of love
be mad or chill
obsessed with angels or machines,
the final wish is love”
“The warm bodies shine together
in the darkness,
the hand moves to the center of the flesh,
the skin trembles in happiness
and the soul comes joyful to the eye”
Ginsberg’s page on the Poetry Foundation site:
I look for creativity and passion in music, more than technique. I have been listening to a performance of “I Remember” by Lisa Hannigan and Damien Rice. It’s starts as a beautiful love song with the haunting voice of Lisa Hannigan, then changes to a rocking explosion of music. Damien Rice’s words make no sense but the passion of the music stirs my soul.
Lisa Hannigan’s Wikipedia bio:
Damien Rice’s bio
This video from the TED Talks series demonstrates the art of Tom Shannon.
“TED visits Tom Shannon in his Manhattan studio for an intimate look at his science-inspired art. An eye-opening, personal conversation with John Hockenberry reveals how nature’s forces — and the onset of Parkinson’s tremors — interact in his life and craft.”
Tom Shannon’s web page:
I was watching a Nature special on PBS about “The Beauty of Ugly”.
There was a mention of two of the grosses things I have ever heard about, Tapeworms and Hag Fish.
1) The worst, grossest, job in the world. Being a volunteer in a experiment about tapeworms. I found an article about biologist Mike Leahy who volunteered to have a tapeworm grow in his gut. I doubt you could pay anyone enough money to do it.
“As part of a University of Salford experiment to develop a diagnostic test for beef tapeworm, biologist Mike Leahy volunteered to grow this gruesome parasite inside his own gut.
Mike swallowed the immature tapeworm cyst with a glass of red wine and the worm started to grow at an initial rate of four centimetres a week.
Twelve weeks later he had to call a halt to the unusual experiment because he was getting married!
After a dose of anti-worm pill Mike passed out an intact tapeworm three metres long.
Imagine giving up on growing a tapeworm in your gut just because you are getting married.
What are the worst jobs you have heard about?
2) Worst cooking ingredient I have heard about. Cooking with Hagfish slime.
What are some gross foods you have heard about.
For your viewing pleasure a video showing Hagfish slime, from Animal Planet:
From the Museum of Awful Food blog, http://ewewgross.blogspot.com/
“I should clarify for the sake of journalistic honesty that the matte white bits surrounding the black slimy bit are actually the gloves of a researcher, and only the black slimy bit is actually the hagfish. If you would like to know what a whole hagfish looks like, mentally picture an earthworm that has slime-secretion glands running along the length of its body, magnify it by like twenty, and put on the creepy head evidenced in the above images. Yum, hagfish. Actually there are some decidedly awesome Fun Facts about hagfish, such as: they get their own slime up their noses, and then they sneeze it out. No joke.
So you will have noticed by now that the hagfish secret tons of slime, because I mentioned it in the previous paragraph. As I learned from my vast hagfish research (this one site, pretty much), the slime is a sugar and protein solution that coagulates when it’s secreted into water, forming a slime that is similar in texture and chemical composition to egg whites.”
“I’m going to posit that a scone is significantly more appetizing than a hagfish. The, um, fearless students who made a hagfish-slime scone didn’t include the recipe in their lab report, so here is my personal recipe for excitingly flaky and not at all dense cheddar-gruyere scones, which receive rave reviews whenever I bake them. Except that I’ve changed what would have been “eggs” to “hagfish slime.” I trust you to adjust accordingly.”
Hagfish-Slime Cheddar-Gruyere Scones
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (two sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups (packed) coarsely grated extra-sharp yellow cheddar cheese (about 9 ounces), or a mix of 6 ounces cheddar and 3 ounces gruyere.
1-1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons hagfish slime
Preheat oven to 375F
In a food processor, blend flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in the butter using quick pulses until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add cheese and cut in using quick pulses. In a small bowl, whisk together the cream and hagfish slime. With the food processor running, add cream mixture through feed tube. Process until dough just holds together Â– donÂ’t overmix!
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gather the dough together and divide into quarters. Pat each quarter into a round just short of 1 inch high (it should be about 6-7 inches in diameter). Using a clean, sharp knife, cut each round into six wedges. Transfer half the wedges to ungreased baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
Bake the first batch of scones until the edges just start to brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer them, still on their parchment paper, to a wire rack to cool at least 10 minutes, during which time put in the second batch of scones.
Serve warm or at room temperature. The scones will stand for about 8 hours. Do not refrigerate. If you want to reheat them, warm them in a 350F oven for about 5 minutes.