Saturday, January 20, 2007


They Call Me Tater-Links

Homework - I hate to get serious on a Saturday, but sometimes.

Yeah, I miss it too. (HT: Milt)

Calling St. Patrick

Want to go somewhere? reinvent a dead religion. Hey, it works at Stonehenge.

This is very funny.

There is a party for everything. BTW, I like mine fried with country gravy on bisquits.

Neil Clark Warren goes canine, or sophisticated electronic dog-pimping. - You decide.

Do you think anyone taking it will care?

Condoms for birds???? How do they fill out the applications?

This kinda makes me feel sorry for them.

Well, try collecting if you win.

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Comic Art

And so, this week, we return to the lame-o Spider-man villians. This week we will focus on the guy tht could actually define loser - The Looter. Let's just start with the fact that if you are going into the super-villian biz, do you really want to name yourself after something unruly mobs do? "The Looter" - I mean please, it does not require super-powers to loot.

Oh, but the name game does not stop there with this guy. His real name is Norman Fester, like Addams Family meets Psycho without the funny or the scary. But my favorite part is that he derives his power from meteors!

That concept barely works for Smallville as a TV show, let alone in a comic where there is actual time for character development and concern.

Speaking of which, what's this guy's motivation? Answer: he doesn't really have one, save for trying to get a little cash together. Seems to me super-villians need a pretty strong motivation, I mean why go to all the trouble to develop a super-power when you can just rob a bank. Something has to drive you a bit.

Thank God for the "Inactive" label or Spider-man and all the other heroes would die of boredom dealing with this guy. Makes you wish for the days of teen sidekicks - then the heroes would have someone to dispatch to clean-up with garbage.

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Friday, January 19, 2007


Free To Be Weak

I am always astonished at how God chose to change the world. Like Elijah at Horeb, where God was not in the fire or wind or earthquake, when He chose to fundamentally change our world, He did so quietly. Ultimate victory came from apparent weakness, a willful submission of power unto death.

I could not help but think of that as I read this post from a blog called "A Place for the God-Hungry." (HT: Transforming Sermons)
For too long I lived in bondage to peer pressure (whining about the church and its expectations) and people pleasing (defining love as making people happy with me) as well as to the craving for human respect (What if I do my very best and I still don?t matter to that person?). This kind of thinking avoids two critical realities:

My genuine sinfulness.

My desperate need to receive God?s love and to find my identity and my sense of self-worth in that love.

Without those two realities, I will simply be (as Manning suggests somewhere in his book) like a travel agent who is handing out travel brochures to faraway places. Places that I can talk about but have never visited.
This is indeed radical personal stuff, but it also radical stuff for the church. What if we released the church from bondage to peer pressure (Why is that church having so many more on Sunday morning than mine?), people pleasing (If we only make our church more attractive, more people will come!) and human respect (If we don't have the building, technology, and clout we'll never get anywhere)? What if the church tried to change the world through a radically different model than the worlds? You know like Jesus did!

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What's good for the scientists is not always good for the minister. I really respect and like the people at the Prometheus blog and I agree that they are correct, scientists that have political points of view should express them politically not as "science." So too clergy, but then I don't think clergy should do politics at all, they should raise up politicians to do politics.

That said, the widely reported joint effort by science and religion on climate change is being grossly misreported. Note this below the signatures on the statement:
Institutional affiliation is given for identification purposes only. All signatories do so as individuals expressing their personal opinions and not as representatives of their organizations.
Neither the National Association of Evangelicals, nor any other Christian organization is involved in this effort. Something misleadingly, if not falsely, claimed in reports.

WAR AND RUMORS OF WARS. There really are things to be scared on in this world and it is not global warming. And being dishonorable is one way to bring the fear to reality. I did not vote for these people.

Responding to The Weather Channel. You know what gets to me, it's the least expensiet o produc channel on the cable and it has one of the highest viewerships - they're minting money. You'd think they could resist the urge to tosomething this stupid.

It wasn't me. On a more serious note. There are thousands of us that study chemistry. The vast majority don't build bombs, or othrewise destroy the planet. We aren't even warped mad scientist types. Just thought you ought to know.


God help us.

Tasteless, and yet creative and informative. Take note: A Republican like me might think of something like this, but only a Democrat would do it.

What every growing boy needs for his sand box.

What does it say when the first thing I thought when I saw this headline was it was about Benny Hinn?

Thankfully, American courts are ot the only ones to get confused from time-to-time.

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Friday Humor - Blatant Rip-Off Edition

From my friend John Brown, because it may be the funniest thing I have read in a very long time:

Hillary Clinton died and went to heaven. As she stood in front of Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates, she saw a huge wall of clocks behind him. She asked, "What are all those clocks?"

Saint Peter answered, "Those are Lie-Clocks. Everyone on Earth has a Lie-Clock. Every time you lie, the hands on your clock will move.

"Oh," said Hillary, "whose clock is that?"

"That's Mother Teresa's. The hands have never moved indicating that she never told a lie."

"Whose clock is that?"

"That's Abraham Lincoln's clock. The hands have only moved twice telling us that Abe only told 2 lies in his entire life."

"Where's Bill's clock?" Hillary asked.

"Bill's clock is in Jesus' office. He's using it as a ceiling fan."

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Thursday, January 18, 2007


An Answer To My Question

Back in early December, I presented a startling Dallas Willard quote that presented quite a condemnation upon the church, and I posed a question about how to make it better. Bonnie at Intellectuele has taken a shot at answering my query. Good points all, but sadly, I just keep pondering this.

As a bit of a refresher, Willard contends that people that have undergone genuine Christian transformation will be viewed as a "hinderance to the process" of operating a church. This, needless to say, raises very grave concerns about the church and I wondered how we could change it.

Here is a corollary to the question: How does one actively seeking genuine transformation operate as a leader in such a setting?

The question is very real, and I am betting a number of my readers know exactly what I am driving at. If Willard is right, and I think he is on this point, a person seeking genuine transformation will be viewed as a hinderance, and thus shunned from the power necessary for leadership. It would appear that conformance is necessary to be an effective leader, but in so doing we sacrifice what it is we wish to lead people to.

Are the truly transformed deemed to also be an undercurrent in the church? Some times I wonder, but then God has indeed called us to bring His gospel to the whole world, something we can hardly do while moving about in a black market in the greater religious economy.

Then consider this. In a book called "Evangelicals in the Public Square", Afterword author Jean Bethke Elshtain writes the following concerning Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
The portion of Kant that so agitated Bonhoeffer was in a discussion of lying, where Kant argues that one is obliged always to tell the truth. If someone who is seeking to harm a friend of yours knocks on your door asking for his whereabouts, and your firend is hidden on the premises, then you are obliged to turn your friend over. You are not permitted to lie; telling the truth is a categorical imperative. You cannot lie or try to deceive the person who means to harm your friend. But Bonhoeffer says that at that point the moralist turns into a tormenter of humanity. Better to lie and spare your friend, to smudge yourself with the hard complexities of the world. Those are the kinds of moral dilemmas that interest me as a political thinker.

Bonhoeffer wrestles with the problem of "dirty hands." When we act in the world, we cannot control the consequences of our actions. People respond to our actions in ways that we can neither predict nor control. So, Bonhoeffer asks, do we remain in a position of purity, above the fray, where we can bask in our own virtuousness? Or do we enter the fray, knowing that it is likely to get us dirty? We cannot remain absolutely pure.
Is this analogous to the dilemma I described above? Is the church called to forsake the whole power of the gospel for the sake of it advancing at least a little?

This still begs the question of how to be an effective leader in such a church. How can I work out my own transformation while compromising it in the mission of the church?

In the end I can but shrug my shoulders and rest confident in the fact that God's judgement is far more complex than the formulas we devise. I can but follow the dictates of my heart and my Lord as I hear Him.

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Illuminated Scripture

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You Just Might Be A Link-Neck

Do I hate Joe for being right on this one, or all those he is writing about? We are in a sorry self-adsorbed state in this nation.

Speaking of which, moon exploration died because the nation thoguth we should "pay more attention on the home front." Now we are trying to justify going back so we CAN pay more attention to the home front. Problem solved or exacerbated?

How come if we tell them to "shut-up" we are fascists, but they are simply protecting the world. I want a TV show - Kind like this blog "Stupid crap said by stupid people trying to remove your money from your wallet." I'll start here. You know, that's the problem with all these "create-a-market" methods to create the illusion of economic incentive to control emissions or any sort. Too easy to fudge.

It's history folks, not crime statisitics. BTW, how long before there are environmental complaints about people ruining the countryside in search of old Roman stuff?

If you are college-bound, college-attending, or closely related thereto Three pieces from this weeks OpinionJournal are for you. Must reads: Here --- Here --- Here

I've made a joke out of this incident, but it's not funny.

SO? Some poeple do it to themselves on purpose. Shudder Isn't trying to change this a violation of the fishes' civil rights or something?

Here's a church/state problem.

if you ever, and I mean ever, become ill in Romania, leave the country immediately.

Obviously Granny was involved. (Yes, you have to be old enough to remember the "Beverly Hillbillies" to get that one)

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007


No, Really, Show Business

I'm not the only one that had a problem with that Out of Ur piece I talked about yesterday. BHT points to a Mere Comments post that is pretty brutal, but makes two excellent points:

As the piece points out, Christ really was prone to sending people away as much as He welcomed them

Did Jesus really "create experiences," at least in the sense this man means, of manipulating people to keep 'em coming? How does he get that from the gospels? And how does he explain Jesus' habit of saying things that sent people away (cf. John 6 and the rich young ruler episode)?

If our Lord was "creating experiences" of the sort for which this pastor invokes his authority, he wasn't very good at it. (The Romans were better.) Judging by the stories conveyed to us in the gospels, Jesus would have failed a church growth course.
Here's the thing - Jesus relied on His personal attractiveness. Thus He was able to speak harsh truth and remain attractive. We are still sinners and can never have that kind of attractiveness Christ had in this life. But I wonder, is the correct response to our incomplete transformation to hide the fact, or to work towards its completion?

The second point is, I think, truly devestating and the one I was more or less trying to make yesterday. Here is an interesting thought. My mind automatically groups Pentecostalism and this kind of entertaining - even if there are large theological distinctions. Both are experiential at heart, and both suffer from the weakness that due to sin, our experiences are not reliable. Both rely on the wind and the earthquake and the fire, but not the still small voice.

What is such a Christian to do when the experience is not present. Does not such make the person rely on the worship service and not the Lord?
Heb 11:1 - Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Rom 3:28 - For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.
When we base our relationship with Jesus on experience, we base it on shifting sand.

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How long before global warming is tied to my bunions? This is the surest sign yet there is much money and little sense chasing global warming research. Tag the name onto any grant request and BINGO - set for life. I'm beginning to think it is the new dot-com boom. At least in Europe.

I'm sure this is global warming too, but they don't want you to know that, it's good news.

So, will this start a plague of mice, or cats?

Things you absolutely, positively must know. (HT: Mark Daniels)

Cool, but with this Congress?

Does God do dwarf-tossing? I thought that was not politically correct?

I thought this would be funny, but it's just scary. Why are we not more discriminating? Speaking of which.

Just in case you are not geeky enough, this will solve the problem.

Think big, that's what I always say.

If you've never driven on ice before, don't.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz
Actually, it means I lived all over the country as a kind. (HT: Church Geek)

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007


We're In Show Business!

Can I tell you about what I consider one of the greatest tragedies of my life? I started my trek with Young Life as a high school student, though I was already a Christian, I found the expression of Christianity and the ministry opportunity it offered me very exciting. I got so excited that I personally invited abut 50 kids to come to "club" and during freshman year was arranging transportation for all 50 on a weekly basis. Boy did I think I was doing God's work! Within a year we built what was at the time, the largest Young Life club in the nation. It stayed that way through my four years of high school.

Now remember, the motto of Young LIfe was then "It's a sin to bore a kid with the gospel." And yet, when I read the following on the Out of Ur blog I was repulsed:
It is our desire not to merely have a church service, but to create an experience through song, video, messages, and any other tools the Holy Spirit might place in front of us. Sure, we've been accused of entertaining people, but I would much rather entertain people than bore them. Jesus didn't mind creating experiences, and His church shouldn't either.
My repulsion is based on the tragedy that my Young Life high school experience resulted in. Of the literally hundreds, even thousands, of kids that went through that Young Life club during my four years of high school, the numbers that made commitements to Christ to begin with were, on a percentage basis small (~15%), and of those that so committed, the ones that still are these 30 years later is another ~15% of that, roughly 2% of those "ministered" to. More, those who remain deeply committed to the Lord and to ministry are people that while they may not have yet committed themselves to Christ, were active in church because of their families and came to Young LIfe with a great depth of understanding, if not committment, about what it meant to be a Christian.

All we offered all those kids, all those years was entertainment. I would go so far as to argue that the entertainment allowed them to avoid the deeper message. The fun drew them, and the fun meant they did not have to pay attention to the other.

Is entertainment wrong, no it's not, no more so than collecting comic books or doing gardening, or whatever your particular enjoyment may be, but that enjoyment IS NOT THE GOSPEL. Entertaining someone in church may bring them in, but it does not mean you have touched them for Jesus in any meaningful way. The same author says
For far too long the church has been lazy -that's right - LAZY. We have sat back on our butt and done nothing, asking God to "do it all" while claiming to be "led by the Spirit." And then people walk into our boring, lifeless, and predictable services and we give "God all the glory," or all the blame!
I would argue that such is precisely what "entertainment" church does. Because it entertains instead of engages, because its provides media when it should provide relationships, it leaves ministry up to the Holy Spirit. ("Hey, we get 'em in and speak the words, and let God change their hearts.")

I have known some for whom such worship was all about the performer - they wanted to "express their gift" and let the Holy Spirit do the work. It's not about expressing your gift, it's about the Holy Spirit using YOU!.

Its time we stopped hiding behind media and started risking ourselves in ministry.

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Earth's Mightiest Links

A sign of the dream fulfilled, or bad history teaching. Maybe it's just that those that act in the name of the dream have perverted it so we will never know.

It's an ugly circle. (Amy found it) Example one.

Before we leave global warming - someone slipped up big time and failed to mention it in this story. Now, that's a sign of the apocalypse.

We believe in evolution, we want to protect those with "unique evolutionary histories." In other words, evolution's trips down the wrong path, which evolutionary theory says should go extinct as the fittest survive - Thus they contradict themselves, unless you consider the real motivation. Saving species brings in big bucks.

Is this "meta-non-news"?

Ammonia leak at a brewery - sound slike to much sampling and the associated by-product to me. Remember, you never buy a beer, you merely rent it.

I always knew hte ubiquitous "roach coach" was how aliens were infiltrating. Brain worms indeed.

The definition of slow news day.

Japanese television - we need more of that here.

Better living through chemistry. Later, the same guys show up in Russia.

The line between art and dinner is a thin one.

There is no way they can keep them clean until then.

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, January 15, 2007


Misappropriating God

Christ tells us:
Matt 10:30 - But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
With such a broad sweeping statement, one would think there is nothing about us too trivial for God, and yet, I could not help but think that this ABC News story is an exercise in trivializing God, and us for that matter.
For Susie Neubaur, part of being a good Christian means trying to be physically fit.

She works out at the Lord's Gym in Clermont, Fla., beginning her day with Bible study and a program called "Body by God."

"Christians, your body is the Holy Spirit's temple," she says. "You want it to look good and be healthy."

There is little spirituality at many of the nation's millions of gyms. In fact, it is probably fair to say the deadly sins like envy, pride and lust are more prevalent than the cardinal virtues.

And that was the motivation for a trend in faith-based fitness, where divine inspiration comes with perspiration. At the Lord's Gym, the walls are covered with motivational messages, and the instructors shout out stimulating quotations from scripture.
A bit of personal testimony. Regular readers know I am in the final stretch of a multi-year effort to lose over 200 pounds without the aid of bariatric surgery. Needless to say, to have been in a position where such an effort was required, weight control has been an issue for my entire life. This has been the most successful weight loss of my life, by a long shot, and I attribute much of that success to a lack of what I call, because I can't think of anything better, "spiritual overtones."

All my life people have told me everything from "You are a gluttonous sinner" to "Losing weight will help you hear God's voice more clearly." All of it absolute and unmitigated horse manure. "You'll be happier!" - HOGWASH! - I love to eat, a lot, and I am very happy doing it. It's true, I find myself better suited to the world around me, both physically in terms of space, but also socially because of the societal prejudices visited upon those of girth, but I was never one to base his happiness on how well I fit into anyone else's expectations. (Aside to the watch bloggers out there that would still insist I was gluttonous, in a place where food is as affordable and plentiful as it is here, gluttony simply does not apply - I took no food from anyone else's mouth, nor did I risk my own wealth, nor was food a god of any sort, I just like it.)

In the end, I began this effort because it had become painful to walk. The weight stressed old sports injuries in the knees and I found my ambulation at risk. Simple, physical cause and effect, no spiritual crisis, and after the first month or so, little emotional impact either - which brings us, finally to my first objection to the story cited above.

We are prone to confusing the emotional with the spiritual, and we do so at great peril. C.S. Lewis has famously said:
"Unless you teach your moods 'where they get off,' you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion."
Spirituality, our life with the Lord God Almighty, occurs on levels far deeper than emotion and when we tie our emotions too closely to the spritual effort, we misdirect ourselves, hold God far more distant that He desires, and never get about the real business God has set for us.

Which brings me to my second objection, the "trend" discussed in the piece just reeks of fitting God to our agenda instead of ourselves to His. Not that God does not want us in physical shape, but in efforts to turn something that should be merely a matter of course into some "great spiritual exercise," we do not sanctify the mundane, but instead simply lower the bar as to what constitutes actual sanctification.

Which is my third objection, one that essentially ties the first two together. The gospel seeks to transform us into beings that conform to God's desires for us, and such transformation is an "inside->out" process. God concluded and culminated centuries of attempting to let man behave as if transformed with Christ, who bore our sins so that God's power could infiltrate us at the deepest levels and render us actually transformed. A transformation that takes time, a life time, and as it occurs it is expressed in our emotions, behavior, and physicality. To attempt to shape those things as opposed to express them is to hold onto control and to block the path of transformation that God would have for us. We reduce God to the "mere" - the mere workout -- the mere appearance -- the mere motivational phrase.

There is nothing mere about the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. We have got to stop asking God to bless what we want and seek instead to bless Him.

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The Fastest Links Alive


Science fraud turns to monetary fraud.

OH NO! - We're all gonna die. Now, question, how come that is a wire service story, and this is a bunch of fruitcake whackos? Anybody?... Anybody?... Buehler?... Buehler?....

Politics, not science. Risk Assessment is black magic anyway, equations plunked on paper to make it look like science...with arbitrary and untestable standards set upon the results.

Speaking of risk let's compare and contrast. Today's concerns about risk and yesterday's:

There was a day common sense ruled the land.

More on risk - water is dangerous, we need to ban it now - at least heavily regulate it. Maybe the video I put up here was no joke? Or, as with most things, is behavior, not chemistry the issue?

This is not amuzing. Apparently, when I was grossly overweight, I could be convicted of abusing myself.


Speaking of not amuzing, it looks like we will soon live in a society where everyone is certified smart, and very few actually are.

When we document the profane, do we not actually promote it? Probably, but it draws ratings.

This is funny, in one of those I have to laugh or I'll cry sort of ways.

No one told me or I'd have been there.

Make it so.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007


The Wife Says It All!

Mrs. Blogotional usually lets her art speak for her, but some things just demands words, such as Barbara Boxer's recent brutal, personal and completely out-of-bounds attack on the Secretary of State. I thought Mrs. Blogotional's letter to Secretary Rice should be made open so...
Dear Dr. Rice:

I very rarely write public figures. I can only imagine how much mail you get from all over the world, probably stacks and stacks of letters. However, the recent hearings by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Iraq caused me to do a double take. In particular I refer to the remarks quoted in several newspapers by Senator Barbara Boxer directed to you and I quote:
"Who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price," Boxer said. "My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young."

Then, to Rice: "You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family."...

These remarks by our Senator from California (I would write to her and tell her how completely abhorrent they are, but I?m convinced the letter would never get to her) are just something I never imagined in my wildest dreams someone saying in such a senate hearing. I don?t even know where to start but I will try.

First, let me thank you for all your service to our country, service that I?m sure was sacrificial in many ways that none of us can even comprehend. Your abilities and your intelligence were rewarded, but you have sacrificed all along the way. One of these sacrifices I?m sure was not as much time to pursue some of the personal interests you might have, if you had not been in the service of our country. I commend you.

Now regarding Senator Boxer?s comments about your immediate family I need to make a couple comments based on my own situation. I also have no children. I am in my middle fifties and there will be no children. I and my husband met very late. It was the first marriage for both of us and we hoped there might be children but that was not to be. During our marriage both my husband and I have been faced with social settings that have been extremely awkward when people have speculated on why we don?t have children and pressed for a history of our decision and causative factors. As someone who had desperately wanted children I found these often clumsy but well meaning remarks extremely painful. I cannot even imagine being subject to this kind of comment publicly as you were, in which not only was your personal family state held up for observation, it was dismissed as a proof that you have nothing to sacrifice. I find myself grappling with disbelief that a Senator would make such statement to you.

Dr. Rice, you are a woman that deserves only commendation for your service. Please do not dwell on the comments of a Senator grand standing to make a point. Thank you again for your service and I pray God?s blessing on you for it.

Sincerest regards,
My wife, God bless her, is not good with insults, so let me just add, Barbara Boxer puts the numb in numbskull, the dunce in dunderhead. I tend not to work in senatorial races here in California because the Republicans just don't try very hard, it's like spitting in the wind, but I hereby pledge, next time this idiot is up, I'll do whatever I can to make sure she is actively and vigorously opposed.

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Sunday Go To Meetin' Links

Fascinating portrait of religion in America.

To my Christian brethren, learn to laugh at yourself just a bit. Yes, it was tasteless, but how about you respond in kind rather than just sputter in public, or would that require too much creativity?

Speaking of reaction, don't know how to react to this. Supppose it had been a "purpose driven" ad on the side of Saddleback? Not sure about this either.

Courtesy Tod Bolsinger. Is this a comedy sketch, or an emerging church?

Well, the Pet Rock worked didn't it? (HT: BHT)

OMG, it's crossed the Pacific.

You know how you buy a bag of ice and it is one big block and pointless for the drinks? This'll show you how to fix that:

Yeah, but are they there now?

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Sermons and Lessons


Charles Gore, Bishop of Birmingham since 1905, was born in 1853. He was educated at Harrow and Balliol College, Oxford (Scholar), and became Chaplain in Ordinary to the King in 1901, being appointed Bishop of Worcester in 1902. A leading social reformer, his sermons are largely devoted to a consideration of sociological problems; he was a worker on behalf of the poor, whose misery had drawn his active sympathies, arid a strong opponent of sweating in every form. His belief was that "the law should be so amended as to empower the Church with the right of progress, though, at the same time, a community must be secured against passing waves of feeling." Bishop Gore was a typical representative of that most modern of Anglican schools of thought, the wing of the clergy at once High and Broad. His preaching was eloquent yet simple, and he delighted in treating at one time some sociological problem, illuminating it with Christian doctrine; and at another some profound and controversial topic, handling this with acute acumen. His sermons were often dogmatic, but were always popularly intelligible, and he is recognized as being eminently a "people's prelate."


My subject is the Efficacy of Prayer. Prayer is asking. It is the creature asking the Creator. And by the efficacy of prayer we mean that something comes of our asking, for God hears and answers as we ask. And my desire is, if I can, to reinforce in you the will to pray by removing some of those obstacles which, in the minds of good people, very often impede them in taking pains about prayer. Therefore, I ask your attention to four plain points in regard to prayer, if, it may be, I may remove some of those obstacles, conscious or half-unconscious, which impede you and me from taking the pains and giving the systematic energy we might to this life of prayer, and finding what is always the consequence, our delight and our fruit therein.

Let your imagination grasp the vast place which prayer holds in the whole history of our humanity. Man, as you look at him broadly, does set his faculties to move in three directions. He moves out toward Nature to draw out its resources for his advantage; and that is civilization. Its history begins where the savage hunts his prey, or scratches the soil and throws in his grains for the beginning of agriculture. It passes through all that -varied history of industry which reaches up to that vast complexity of the modern system of civilization, by which the resources of the furthest corners of the earth are brought together to the centers where men live, for their convenience and for their luxury. Man moves out toward nature to appropriate its resources; but he moves out also toward his fellow-men, and that is the history of society. It has its rude beginnings in the tribe and in the family; it advances through all human history; it reaches to that point of infinite complexity in which the life of nations in themselves, and the life of nations one with another, is presented to our minds. Man moves out toward nature; it is the history of civilization. He moves out toward his fellow men ; it is the history of society. But he moves out also toward God. Look at the savage; look at man in every stage of civilization; it bridges over his rudest beginning up to the point of his greatest advance. Everywhere in the works which men work, in the structures which they build, in the language which they speak, you observe a good third part of their energy preoccupied with prayer. The religion of which prayer is the characteristic act sets its stamp everywhere on human history. It has, like civilization, like society, a checkered but a definite progress. It passes through that progress most conspicuously in the Old Testament; for at the beginning of the Old Testament you see a worship which has conspicuous affinity with the worship of a merely savage tribe; while at the top it reaches up to that supreme worship which is the worship of the Son of Man. It reaches there its climax. It is the heritage of that society which was founded by Jesus of Nazareth. It has its center in the Lord's Prayer; at the altar it radiates out to consecrate and to bring down blessing upon the whole of life. But contemplate the greatness of the place which prayer occupies in human activity, and ask yourselves, as you are reasonable men, whether you can possibly believe that an activity so regular, so constant, so progressive, so universal, can be based on any mere figment or dream of the imagination. It is one of the most solid results of scientific inquiry that no human faculty can develop or subsist unless it is what scientific men call in correspondence with its environment. That phrase means that no faculty can come into existence or maintain itself unless it is really useful, unless it really corresponds with some fact external to man, in real relation with nature as it is. The eye could not have developed or subsisted unless there had been the reality called light to evoke it and to make it useful. And all this activity of prayer, seen in its various strange forms till it reaches up to rational consistency in the prayers of the Son of Man - all this activity of prayer could not have been evoked, could not have developed, could not have subsisted unless man by praying had been really in relation to the God Who hears; unless all this activity of prayer had been in real correspondence with the fact, and the most fundamental fact on which the universe is built.

There is no doubt that a great many people recognize in a vague sort of way that somehow prayer is a real activity of human life. They can not so far separate themselves from the inner man as to deny that. But to kneel down and pray for this or that seems to postulate a knowledge of God about me, and attention of God to me in particular which, when I consider the vastness of the universe, appears altogether preposterous to suppose.

Brethren, there are a great many cases in which we need to distinguish between our imagination and our reason. This is one. True it is that the imagination of man falls absolutely baffled before the task of imagining how the conscience of God and the activity of God which are over all things absolutely can still comprise an individual knowledge, and an individual attention directed to every particular atom and part of that great universe. Our imagination, I say, is absolutely baffled. But you know quite well that if you take the elementary facts with which physical science deals, like the existence of ether, on which all modern theories of light and heat are based, or the vastness of the solar system, in the same degree your imagination is absolutely baffled. You may not be able to draw a mental picture of things which still your reason may postulate, may force you to believe. Now let your reason go to work, and you will find that it comes very near to postulating about God just this very thing which you find it so hard to imagine. For think a moment; in ourselves, as our knowledge or our activity grows to perfection, it passes out of being merely vague into being definite, detailed, particular. If I go into a schoolroom where there are boys, I know nothing about them except what vague and general knowledge I have of boys as a whole. But the schoolmaster knows them better; that means he knows them more particularly as individuals, with individual histories, with characteristics, and powers, and faults. Or ask in what the preeminent phy¬sician is distinguished from the ordinary doctor. It is, I suppose, in this - that he has, while possessing a broader experience, at the same time a more individual insight into particular cases. All human knowledge and action as it advances to perfection both widens in range, while at the same time it becomes more detailed in application. Carry up that thought until you can perceive the perfect consciousness of God, and you will find that it postulates that God's knowledge and action shall be at once over all His creatures whatso¬ever; but that the universal range and scope of the divine attributes shall diminish not one whit from their particular and personal application, so that God created us, and loves us, and knows us, and deals with us one by one as individually, as particularly, as if there were no one other created, or none so loved. Prayer is possible as the real request addressed by an individual soul out of its individual needs to the Almighty and Universal Father because that Fatherhood of God is not wider in its range than it is absolutely particular and individual in its protecting, in its creating, in its predestinating love.

But God knows so much better than I do what I want. That prayer, the asking God out of my short-sighted folly to give me this or that, is surely a very ignorant procedure. Had I not better put a general trust in God and go on my way submitting to His providence? That is one of the cases in which a thought can take very devout expression while at the same time it may cut at the root of practical religion. For, brethren, we all know that this appeal?we need not pray because God knows already what we want - allows even too easily of our going on our way and practically leaving God out of our lives. Our Lord knew well enough that the object of prayer was not to inform God; your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask it. The object of prayer is not to inform God ; but it is to train us in habits of personal intercourse with God, of personal sonship toward Him. We are made for sonship, sonship is personal correspondence, personal, intelligent cooperation with God. It is a gradually increasing power of familiarity with God: of intercourse with Him, of approach toward Him as person to person.

Well, then, prayer is made necessary for us simply in order that by this necessity for praying, for asking, we may be, as it were, constrained again and again to come before God and, by asking, familiarize ourselves with Him; and as we ask, and as we receive, grow into correspondence, intelligent personal correspondence with God our Father. Who that has prayed diligently, and experienced an answer, does not know that that one experience has done more for the life of religion in his or her soul than a great deal of reading or thinking. That consciousness of our relation to God is a thing which will develop through all eternity; but it has its beginning here, and the reason why God makes things depend upon our asking for them is that we may be thus educated into such personal intercourse with Him that that truth of sonship may never be merged and lost as it is merged and lost in all that direction of life which, unconsecrated by prayer, moved away from God.

But then, lastly, we get to what in a great many people's minds is the heart of the difficulty. I grant all you say about the meaning of prayer; I grant all you say, this or that man will urge. I grant all you say about its place in human history; I would fain pray, I should feel its reasonableness, I should indeed experience the spiritual exaltation which it would give my life; but surely prayer is one of those things which was possible in old days, but is not really possible now when once we have grasped that the world is governed by fixed, unalterable laws. If all this world is the seat of the operation of fixed laws, then surely it is, indeed, purposeless to think to bend down to the level of our wishes and our short-sighted ideas that fixed and unchangeable system. Surely fixed laws, once grasped by the imagination and the mind, render impossible the real action of prayer. To pray is, after all, to anyone who conceives the world as modern knowledge forces us to conceive it, to pray is, after all, only like a bird beating its wings against the bars of an iron cage.

Brethren, this is one of those difficulties which find their strength in people's minds so largely because they do not have the courage or take the pains to think them out to the bottom. The answer to it lies, I think, in two directions. It is Indeed a complete destruction of the idea of prayer that the world should be governed by fixed laws, if prayer is in any sense conceived of as an attempt to bend down the wisdom of God to the level of our folly. But by law what do you mean? You mean the method by which things work. Law is not a power; it is only a method. The universality of law means that God works everywhere and in all things by constant and unchangeable method. This is observed not only in the wide things, in the vast movements of solar systems, but in the tiniest details of nature, so that all the intricacies of the wing of a butterfly are as much the result in each detail of the universal law or method by which God works in all things as the vastest cosmic movements. Everywhere God works by law, by order, by method. But if our Lord taught us anything He taught us this, that prayer is not the attempt to drag down the divine operations to the level of our folly; prayer is a method by which we lift up ourselves into correspondence with the methods of God. It is not the bringing of the methods of God down to our level; it is the lifting up of our will in correspondence with the method of God.

We shall have occasion to notice this at greater length when we come to think about the special lessons which our Lord taught us about prayer. But grasp now that if this be granted, that prayer is not an attempt on our part to make God work otherwise than by the method of law, but is simply one way in which we men correspond with the method of God in the universe; and you will see, I think, that all that difficulty about prayer and law is, if not destroyed and abolished, at least reduced to a position where it can have no reasonable effect upon our lives. For this we must grant God works everywhere by law. But that does not mean that He dispenses with our cooperation. God works everywhere by law. It is by law that gold comes into existence; it is by law that gold is drawn out of the earth; it is by law it is purified; it is by law it is put into circulation as a medium of currency; all that is by law, but it does not happen without human cooperation. The universe is a universe of law; but it postulates our cooperation if we are to receive its benefit. The world is a universe of law; but I shall get nothing of the good things I might get out of the world unless I show an active initiative; unless I take trouble and pains; unless by diligence and fruitful correspondence with the law of the world I obtain those things which are within my grasp. Now, here is a mystery. How is it that if the world is governed by law there is room for my free will, for my cooperation? How is it that if the world is governed by law I cannot simply sit still and say, Whatever comes to me will come to me; and whatever will not come to me will not come to me; I can do nothing. I am in a world of fixed law.

There is a mystery. At present I will not say a word in attempting to solve it. I say, let our freedom be, if you will, denied in theory, you must admit it in fact; you must day by day, moment by moment, act as if everything depended on your cooperation with the system of nature, and it is only in proportion to your initiative, your vigorous will, your constant energy, that you get what nature can afford to you. But I am sure that I am not exaggerating when I say this - there is in regard to prayer absolutely no more difficulty in connection with the reign of law than there is in regard to any other form of activity. There is the same mystery everywhere about human free will. We leave it altogether aside; but we know this, that there are multitudes of things in nature which are laid there in store for me, but which will not come to be mine unless I energetically work for them, unless I energetically correspond with the method of nature. Exactly as truly there are stores of blessings which God intends for you, but which He will not give to you unless you energetically correspond with His law, with His method, by prayer. Prayer is as fruitful a correspondence with the method of God as work?as fruitful and as necessary. Some things you can obtain by work without prayer; some things you can obtain by prayer without other work; some things by the combination of working and praying: but no things at all without your cooperation; and cooperation by prayer has no kind of rational difficulty attendant upon it which does not attend equally upon cooperation by the method of work. You have no kind of right to put the reign of law as an obstacle to prayer unless you are prepared to make the reign of law an obstacle to your doing anything to get your own living?.

It is true that the man of prayer who approaches the Father in the name of the Son, in intelligent correspondence with the divine kingdom and divine purpose, draws out of the largeness of the love of God infinite stores of good things which God wills to give to him, and thru him to his family, his Church, his nation, humanity - stores of good things which are there in the providence of God waiting to comfort him, but will not be given him except he prays.

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