Support me on Patreon!

Hey everyone, I’ve opened up a Patreon for my blog!  What this means is that you’ll continue to have ad-free unrestricted viewing of all of my past, present, and future posts.  What this also means is that you can now use the secure, trusted Patreon platform to support me and my blog.  While relatively inexpensive, maintaining my blog is not free, and it can also take a great deal of time and research and to write some of my posts.  From now on I am going to make sure to write at least a post a week (barring any unfortunate accidents) even if it’s just some random rambling or weird/funny personal anecdote.  You can pledge as little as $1 a month to me or in theory as much as you want (though I’ve created a recommended cap of $25).  Any amount is helpful and will allow me to continue to provide quality content and even expand what I already have in the future.  If you are unable to pledge any money (or for whatever reason don’t want to) you are still free to read my blog free of charge.  I do not currently have any incentives attached to the Patron tiers, but I am working to introduce some in the future (such as T-shirts, early access to posts, etc.).  You can become one of my Patrons or learn more by clicking the link below.

 

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A Brief Clarification on Universal Healthcare

Hey everyone, today I’m going to briefly discuss a few objections to Universal Health Care in the United States of America.  This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive list, nor is it in any way meant to say that there are no concerns regarding Universal Health Care.  I also am not advocating any specific method Universal Healthcare should be implemented–I’m not a healthcare expert or a Politician, so I’m not particularly qualified to do so.  However, I can address a few misunderstandings and hopefully promote a discussion on how to fix the healthcare crisis in the US.

  1. Universal Healthcare Is a Step Close to a Communist America: First, I would like to discuss the difference between Communism and Socialism, because while there is overlap between the two they are two entirely different concepts, such as a hot dog and a sandwich.  Communism is government ownership of the means of production, such as factories, mines, and farms.  Socialism is the redistribution of wealth.  While “redistribution of wealth” may sound scary, all it means is that funds provided through taxes are used to provide a service to citizens.  If you support public schools, fire departments, and even a military, then you support “the redistribution of wealth”.  More importantly, having socialized policies does not make a country a socialist country.  Our country has had socialized policies before socialism was even a thing (And so has virtually any country with a government, because that’s what a government does, provide services.  Well, part of what it does).  Likewise, just because a country like Denmark has capitalist policies (such as private ownership of property and means of production) does not make it a capitalist country.
  2. America Already Has Systems in Place to Provide Healthcare for Those Who Truly Need It: Yes, America does have services such as Medicare and Medicaid that provide health care to millions of needy Americans.  These services are far better than nothing and truly do a lot of good.  However, they are inadequate and alienate many needy people.  A large part of the problem is the Poverty Threshold.  Those who fall at or below the Poverty Threshold are legally considered to be in a state of “Absolute Poverty” and qualify for certain types of government aid.  Those who are slightly above the Poverty Threshold may qualify for reduced or partial aid.  What makes the Poverty Threshold problematic, however, is the formula behind it.  The current formula for the Poverty Threshold has existed since the 1950’s, and is “Cost_Of_Foodx3”.  Back in the 1950’s, food was the largest expense for a family, and this formula largely worked.  However, this is no longer the case.  Advances in storage and transportation, as well as agricultural technology, have lead to food being one of the cheapest expenses for a family.  Changing society and economy has caused things such as insurances, childcare, and debt to become a much larger expense.  Because food is no longer the largest expense for families, this formula no longer holds up in today’s world.  It causes millions of Americans who fall into the category of “Relative Poverty” (meaning they make less than the average amount for comparably sized family units) instead of “Absolute Poverty”, where they should probably belong.  Because of this, they no longer have access to the same benefits, even if they need them, or only have access to insufficient benefits.
  3. America Cannot Afford Universal Healthcare: Actually, it can, and it would potentially be cheaper than the hodgepodge of solutions we have now.  According to a 2018 (meaning recent) Harvard Study, America spends proportionately more on Healthcare per resident than other developed countries (the overwhelming majority of which have Universal Healthcare) yet has “the shortest life expectancy and highest infant and maternal mortality rates among any of its peers”.  This is not saying that the exact systems these other countries have would work in America, but is saying there’s a strong correlation between Universal Health Care and an overall higher standard of living.  It also shows that a single-payer system universally (pun totally intended) actually costs less than a mixture of subsidized and private healthcare we have today.  Another issue is decreasing regulation on the prices of medication.  With many types of medication, there is very little (if any) regulation on the cost Labs can charge for medications.  While they are going to have to charge more money than it costs to produce the medication to make up research costs (research is expensive and lengthy) they are charging exorbitantly more, sometimes exponentially greater.  Many of these medications are sustainably sold in other countries at lower, more affordable rates.

Hopefully, for the three issues I discussed tonight you’ll come out with a greater understanding of them.  Some of you may even disagree with Universal Health Care as the solution, but I hope that at least you recognize the need for a solution.

“If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother.” Deuteronomy 15:7

 

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An Apology for the Lack of Posts

Hey everyone, I’d like to offer my sincerest apologies for the utter lack of blog posts in the past couple of months.  Due to a salmagundi of different reasons, I’ve been busy and while I probably could have found the time to at least throw together a post of some sort I did not.  With that being said, I have a miscellany of ideas I’m looking forward to writing about, some fun, some serious, and some that are way out of the ballpark.  You can look forward to topics ranging from theology to culture to movies to books to TV shows to Church history to random musings to more.  Thanks again for being patient, and I’ll see you (well, figuratively speaking) again next week!

 

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The Purpose of the Church

Hey guys, I’m back from my unannounced and unplanned hiatus, AKA I was busy for a few weeks.  Today’s post is going to be over a brief, but important topic.

While most churches (and denominations) do fulfill the Bible’s calling for the purpose of the Church, sometimes we as believers tend to forget them, or hyperfocus on one of them (when all are equally important).  Perhaps you’ve never even thought of what the purpose of the church is.  I’ve divided the purpose of the Church into three main missions.  Yes, I’m sure many of you can think of other further purposes (Why not leave your thoughts in the comment section below) but for clarity and brevity’s sake, I’ve gone with three.  Three’s also a good number, so why not.  Oh, and when I say the Church I mean the institution of the Church, not the Church as in all of Christianity.  Also, the following three are in no particular order.

  1. Growing Together in Faith: While it’s more than possible to be a follower of Christ and not attend a church (in fact for some this may be best) for most attending a church of some form is an enriching experience.  Being around other believers, discussing the Bible, and just living life together is good.  A good sermon can challenge you, to either change an aspect of the way you live or to further seek out what the preacher meant and what the scriptures say.  I could go on further, but this is a bit of a summary post, so I won’t.
  2. Fulfilling the Great Commission: Jesus calls for believers to “Go forth and make disciples”.  Being a part of a church makes this much easier.  Most churches have a myriad variety of outreach and evangelism opportunities.  You could do this on your own, but organizing and enacting on the same scale just isn’t practical or feasible.  In addition, activities tend to be funner (oh yes, I just got conjugated ‘fun’ like that) when you do them with others.  This coming from an introvert.
  3. Fulfilling the Great Commandment: Jesus didn’t just give us the Great Commission, he also gave us the Great Commandment: “Love God, Love Others”.  This is the summary of the Law that applies to us Christians according to the New Covenant.  Not only are we supposed to seek a relationship with God, but also with others.  We are called for improving our community, and helping others, regardless of if they are different than us, regardless of if we agree with them. (See my earlier post for more on this topic).  Who is our neighbor?  Frankly, everyone.  There are many organizations out there dedicated to the mission of social work, Christian, non-christian and secular.  Social Work and community service may not have been invented by Christianity, but it is certainly a tenant we are supposed to live by.  As a church, you should be involved in your community, and if possible for your congregation, the wider world.

So that’s my take on the purpose of the church.  These functions will look different from church to church, from culture to culture, but I believe in some form they should be present.  “Let God’s Will be Done, On Earth as it is in Heaven“.  The Church should ideally be a reflection of what Heaven will one day look like, and by building each other up, sharing His message, and helping others, we can achieve this.

 

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On Introversion

If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone wrongly use or define the word introversion, I would have an unspecified, but large pile of change somewhere in my room.  Just as I am guilty of properly using obscure and big words properly but mispronouncing them, many people are guilty of pronouncing words right but using them improperly.  So in this brief (at least in comparison to my last two posts) I will attempt to explain introversion.

First, I would like to clarify, introversion does not mean antisocial or not liking to spend time with people and being extroverted does not mean being social and being a people-person.  Instead, Introversion and Extroversion refer to how we recharge our social energies.  Just as people have physical energy, which largely comes from eating and sleeping, people have several types of “psychic” (not the ESP kind, the Psychology kind) energies, such as spiritual, sexual, moral.  Social also happens to be one of them.  Introverts and Extroverts both have social energy (in fact many Introverts technically have more of it than extroverts) but they differ in how the refuel when exhausted.

Introverts refuel their social energy by being alone.  The ways they recharge vary greatly, ranging from reading to TV to being outside to playing a sport to even being online.  Many (if not most) introverts like being around people, and may even act “hyper-social” for short amounts of time.  However, after an extended amount of time around other people, they need to be alone or risk “shutting down” or in extended cases even depressed.

Extroverts, on the other hand, recharge their social energy by being around other people.  They still need some alone time once in a grand while, but they thrive being around other people.  If not around others for a long period of time, they will often find themselves tired.  It’s important to note that no person is 100% introverted or extroverted.  Everyone is a mix of the two, falling somewhere along the spectrum, usually further along one end.

So, what kind of introvert am I?  On literally every MBTI (Myer-Briggs) and Neris Type Explorer I’ve taken, I have the blessing and curse of being an INFJ (on a side note if you’re curious of what your personality type is you can find out here).  One of the rarest types in the world, the INFJ has the unique privilege of being a bundle of contradictions.  You see, among other things, INFJ’s are what is known as “emotionally extroverted”.  This means that while they are really good at reading other people’s emotions, like really good, they are often clueless of their own.  This is why they need to spend alone time so they can spend time “introspecting” and subconsciously analyzing their own feelings.  INFJ’s often seem to be extroverts until they “shut-down”.  They are arguably one of the most introverted types out there, despite how much of people persons they are.  So why go into this detail about myself, in spite of the fact I dislike talking about myself?  To prove a point.  There are different types of introverts, and we become emotionally drained for different reasons.  Introversion isn’t just about emotions though.

Because of the “common-knowledge” belief that introverts are anti-social, there hasn’t been as much research into them as extroverts. However, in recent years it’s become apparent that there’s a disparity between how Psychologists and some introverts describe introversion.  Not all introverts are emotionally introverted.  Jonathan Cheek, a researcher at Wellesley College has in fact observed 4 types of introverts: Social, Thinking, Anxious, and Reserved.  As we learn more and more about introverts, it becomes more and more clear we only understand the tip of the iceberg.

So what’s the takeaway from this?  What introversion actually means.  Yes, introverts need more alone time than extroverts, and yes, some are anti-social (just as some extroverts are anti-social) but that doesn’t mean that introversion and being anti-social are mutually exclusive.  That’s it for now, enjoy the rest of your day.  Or don’t.  Your choice.

 

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Why I Support Female Pastors: Or, That Feminism Post: Part Two

When I decided to write a post about Feminism, I decided to write it through a lens that many of readers would easily recognize, and maybe even find relevant to their own experiences.  Few issues within the Church today face as much contention as female authority, and by examining God’s timeless word and pulling His teachings out of it, I hope to clarify what is really a simple quandary with a simple truth.  If you didn’t read last week’s post, I strongly suggest you read it before continuing here, because it lays the groundwork for what I’ll be discussing here.  You can read it here or by scrolling down on my homepage.

My last post focused on the Old Testament, and honestly, I probably could’ve written a whole series on that alone just because of how much material is in there.  This week’s post will focus on the New Testament,  which is thankfully slimmer and a bit more straight-forward to read.  That being said, I still probably won’t address every applicable verse and/or passage, but I do hope to look into some of the most relevant and contested ones.  If there are any verses you think I left out that should have been included, or if you have a different interpretation of them, feel free to comment at the bottom of the page and I’d be to address/discuss them with you.

First, I’d like to point out the fact that yes, there are no female pastors in the Bible.  I’d also like to point out the fact there are no male pastors either, except Jesus.  The Greek word we get pastor from, poimēn, means Shephard.  Only once in the entire New Testament is this word ever used as a noun to describe someone, and that one time is to describe Jesus.  So in reality, the Bible did not have today’s current concept of pastor we have.  That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with today’s concept of a pastor, though.  In fact, I think it’s great, and it’s merely an evolution of the ministerial role to fit today’s needs.  So while you can argue that there were no female pastors in the Bible, you do have to acknowledge that there were no male as well.

Some of you may be wondering if there were no pastors in the Bible, then where on earth did we even get the idea from?  Well, for those of you who were thinking that; that’s a very good question!   For those of you who weren’t thinking that, are you sure you’re not just skimming this blog post?  In the New Testament, we see two early church leadership roles described by Paul: The Minister, and the Deacon.  The Minister is fairly similar to the current concept of a Pastor, they would teach their congregation.  The Deacon was a delegate who the Minister would assign various tasks two to lighten their load.  Parallels to this structure can be seen in the Old Testament, with Moses and the Levites.

So, what about female pastors and deacons?  Well, I’m glad you asked, because I have several clear examples I’ve found in the Scriptures:

  1. Phoebe: In Romans 16, Paul commends to the Church in Rome “our sister Phoebe who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea.”.  The word servant here is important, because in Greek it is the word Diakonos.  However, the fact that this word is translated to servant is a bit odd.  Diakonos is used in 23 other places throughout the New Testament, including by Paul to describe himself.  What is this word translated to?  Minister.  So why then, is it translated to “servant”, when in so many other places, in the same context, is used as Minister?  The answer is, translator’s bias.   Whether on purpose, or more likely just tradition, this keyword has been mistranslated, to much error.
  2. Priscilla: In the same passage, Paul addresses Priscilla and Aquila, who “held a church in their home”.  Aquila is a man’s name, while Priscilla is a woman’s name.  During this time period, in just about every culture, you listed a man’s name first in an address, because they were the head of their house.  However, here we see Paul address the women first, not just as the head of their house, but as the head of their church.  While both were Ministers in their church, we clearly see that Priscilla is the dominant one, at least in Paul’s opinion.  And again, only two chapters only, we see Priscilla and Aquila take Paul aside and address him on a theological issue.  Again, Priscilla is mentioned first in this passage, explicitly denoting a dominant role.  This is a powerful example of how God calls both Men and Women to leadership roles of all kinds, and of the difference between Christ and Culture.
  3. Junia: In verse seven of Chapter 16, Paul addresses Andronicus and Junia who are of note among the apostles.  In the early Church, to be called an apostle was one of the highest honors, and reflected a great level of devotion to the Lord.  We see here that while not the greatest of the Apostles, Junia was of note among them.

Now, I will address a few “commandments” of Paul that at first glance seem to forbid women from leadership positions.  Firstly, 1 Corinthians 14:34 was probably not written by Paul.  This verse calls for women to be “silent and submissive” and not teach “in accordance with the law”.  While still included in some modern translations, this verse is widely regarded as a forgery by most Biblical scholars.  It does not appear in earlier manuscripts of the letter, differs in writing style from Paul, and seemingly contradicts his other teachings (we just got done talking about his praise for female pastors and deacons).  So this verse should not be used in arguments, and honestly shouldn’t even be in the bible, as it’s authenticity is sketchy at best.

Another letter (Timothy) by Paul calls for women to not teach men.  This letter is actually calling for women to not be in pastoral positions, but it is very important to understand the context.  Most of Paul’s letters were not originally intended to be shared, they were personal letters to certain people or to specific churches.  This is one of those examples.  In the city Timothy was in, women in leadership roles were often associated with cult priestesses, who engaged in bizarre and certainly not Christian teachings and rituals.  As Christianity was new and attempting to set itself apart from the pagan traditions and religions that coexisted alongside it, anything that could undermine this effort is moot.  Converts and people who heard of Christianity in this city would assume that it was no different.  That is why having a female pastor in this situation would serve as a distraction and detract from Christianity’s message.  It is also important to realize that Paul says he is not currently allowing women to be pastors in this location.  He fully intends to integrate this in the future, just not at the moment.  This is the same reason as to why Paul tells women to cover their hair in Timothy, because in the city he was in any women not wearing head coverings was pretty much assumed to be a cult prostitute.  Again, Christianity was meant to be set apart, they would not want it to be confused with other religions.

If you read last week’s post, then you might remember how I discussed that before the Fall men and women were equal to each other.  As any scholar of the Bible will tell you, God intends for humanity to be returned to the Eden model.  This isn’t just in terms of our relationship with God, but also with our relationship with each other.  Paul affirms this in Galatians:

 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond-servant nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. 

In Christ, we are all equal, not any higher or lower than each other.  We can also see this Jesus’s own teachings and actions, he treated men and women the same, talking to all in a similar manner.  Some of his most devoted followers were women, such as Mary and Mary-Magdalene.  So great was their faith that after Jesus’s resurrection they were first to be informed by the angel, not any of his male followers.  This is a strong statement, especially in the ancient world, because women were usually regarded as unreliable witnesses.  We can see clearly that Paul is trying to continue the good work started by Jesus, which is not just evangelism, but also positive social change.

Now that I’ve gone over what the bible has to say, I’m going to spend a little time here at the end to go over inconsistencies in the arguments and policies of those who are opposed to female pastors or women in other leadership roles.  Many churches, such as the Southern Baptist Convention (I only use them because they are the denomination I am most familiar with) allow women to have pastoral equivalent roles, such as Worship leader or Missionary, or even as a Children’s pastor.  They don’t however, allow for women to be head pastors.  This makes no logical sense, because assuming that Paul is against women in authority they shouldn’t have any of these roles, not just some of them.  Others may be fine with a woman being their boss at work but would be against a woman having equal or dominant authority in a family.  These policies and beliefs reek of hypocrisy and double standards and only cause harm.

You see, even if you truly do believe in traditional gender roles, you actually do your church and Christianity a disservice.  There are many talented women out there, just as there are talented men, and by not allowing them to have leadership roles, you hurt your church and thus the Church by wasting that skill.  And think of the hurt you cause these women, as many feel called to ministry and other leadership roles by the Lord, but are in turn spurned (rhyme completely unintended) from their calling.  The sheer unjustness and travesty of these types of situations just appall me, and it has to stop.  We wonder why people today are leaving Christianity in great numbers, especially in areas like Europe.  Look no further than issues like this, for while hardly the sole reason why they are certainly a part of the problem.

Now, a moment of clarification.  I’m all for empowering women, but there’s also nothing wrong with men in authority.  Men are equally skilled and competent, and most male pastors and deacons I’ve met actively strive to follow the Word and live a Godly life.  There’s nothing wrong with men being in the dominant role in a family or workplace either, all I mean to say is that this is not the only way and is not explicitly or implicitly called for by God, and the best way would be in equal authority.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this two-part post, and even if I didn’t change your mind, I hope at least it made you think.  And to the non-Christians reading this, I hope you realize that not all Christians are sexist, nor are the teachings of the Bible.  Instead, we see that sexism is wrong, and comes from sin.  My hope is that someday all Christians and all other people as well can agree on this.

 

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Why I Support Female Pastors: Or, That Feminism Post: Part One

Growing up in several evangelical churches, a phrase I have often heard is “Christ and Culture”.   This phrase generally refers to the difference (real or imagined) between biblical values/lifestyle and those of a secular or atheistic lifestyle.  While “Christ and Culture” is not a phrase you often see applied to the church itself, that is exactly what I intend to do today.

If by chance you have not picked up on it yet, today (or whatever day you happen to be reading this) I plan on talking about the ordination of women and in extension supposed “gender” roles assigned or intended for men and women.  Before I go further, I have a few things to clarify.  While the topics discussed in this post are going to focus primarily on the teachings of evangelical Christianity, I am by no means saying that all evangelical denominations and Christians are opposed to the ordination of women (The Lutheran church and most United European churches do for example).  Likewise, not all mainline denominations and Christians support the ordination of women (such as the Catholic church and Edit: I was informed the United Methodist Church does ordain women and always has.  My apologies for this error.most United Methodist churches).  There is a great variation of beliefs in denominations (and nondenominational churches), however, the general consensus of evangelical churches is that women should not be head pastors and that God instructs men and women to follow strict roles.  With that clarification set aside, I will now move on.

In the beginning….well, a lot of stuff happened, but arguably one of the most important things was the creation of humanity.  Living, breathing, completely self-aware and sentient creatures who were capable of having a relationship with God.  And at first, there was just one, man.  The first man’s name was Adam, and God tasked him with the upkeep of the garden (of Eden) and with naming all the creatures that resided in it.  After this was done, God saw that man was lonely, and thus enacted the next part of his plan.  It was not good for man to be alone, so he created a “helper” (more on that word in a minute) for him.

A bit of a side note, but I’ve always found this interesting: God didn’t necessarily make women from Adam’s rib.  In fact, the word used in Genesis refers to any biopsy, or more literally “section of flesh”.  While it’s quite possible women was made from one of Adam’s ribs, this is one of those things like the forbidden fruit being an apple, we really just don’t know.

Anyways, time to get back on topic.  The word most often translated as “helper” has raised a lot contention.  Often used to justify a complementary (but not inherently diminutive) role for women, “helper” is interpreted as an assisting role.  However, when we examine the actual word in question we see this is not the case.  The word most commonly translated as helper is ēzer k’negdô which literally means “help-meet”.  Again, in a literal context, this would refer to someone who met you where you were and lifted you out of your troubles through, well, help.  Literally, it refers to an equal role.  However, when we actually examine the context and parallel uses of ēzer things get even more interesting.  The word ēzer k’negdô is used many other times throughout the Bible, but never in a diminutive sense.  Elsewhere it is translated as “rescuer” and “savior” within similar contexts.  God himself is referred to as ēzer (salvation) several times.  So why then, is women referred to as the diminutive “helper”?   All evidence points to a cultural bias in the original English translators (*cough* *cough*, KJV, literally one of the word Bible translations available) that has been inadvertently emulated to this day.

Another interesting thing we see here early in Genesis is that both man and women are created in the image of God (tzelem Elohim).  It is not “man is created in the image of God” and then “woman is created in the image of man”.  No, both are created in the image of God!  To suggest that one is greater or more fit than the other borders on blasphemy in light of this.

So, I’ve examined the Biblical creation account to show that man and women were created equally and one is not created to be in subjugation to the other.  Now, I will examine the Fall and Original Sin to show where traditional gender roles came from.  While very few would say that sin was Eve’s fault, I would like to refute that argument nevertheless.  God has told Adam not to eat the forbidden fruit and had commanded him to relay this to Eve as well.  Which he never did!  In addition, we see in Genesis 3:6 that Adam was right with her when she ate the fruit “….She took of its fruit and ate, and also gave some to her husband who was with her” (ESV).

Now, on to the consequences, or results of sin.  Also in Genesis 3, we see God tell Adam and Eve what the results of their sin would be.  For clarity’s sake, I’ve listed them out for you (though you’re welcome to pull out your own Bible if you’d like):

  1. Raising children would be tiresome work
  2. The Husband Will Rule Over the Wife
  3. As they are cast out of the Garden, they will now have to work for sustenance
  4. As they are sinners, spiritual death is now a threat

All four of these are important, but for the purpose of this post the first two I will focus on.  Often translated as “childbirth will be painful”, verse 18 is better translated as “rearing children will be toil”.  This is another example of weird translations of words in spite of context.  And next, “The Husband Will Rule Over the Wife”.  Neither of these consequences existed before the fall.  As I previously mentioned, both were created in the image of God.  So does this mean that this is what God wants?  No!  Look back at consequence number 4, does God want us to suffer permanent Spiritual death?  Of course not!  That’s why he sent his son.  To suggest that God wants us to participate in sin is silly, and glamorizes sin itself.  In the early chapters of Genesis, we are slowly introduced to various types of sin (such as murder with Cain and Abel), and patriarchy is one of them.

Well, it only took a thousand words to get through Genesis, so now we’re finally going to move on to another: Job.  Now wait, what does Job have to do with feminism?  Isn’t that the poem about the guy who had a really bad day?  Well, you’re certainly not wrong about that last point.  Historians believe that Job is the earliest written book in the Bible.  So, a reading of Job offers us a unique perspective into the early(ish) history and culture of mankind.  It is especially helpful in examining God’s intent, as Job is one of the godliest men in the Bible.  In chapter 42, after God blesses Job once again, he distributes his inheritance among his children.  But interestingly enough, he gives an equal share to his daughters!  This flies in the face of old world tradition.  You never gave your daughters our inheritance, you gave it to your sons! And while his sons also received an equal share in the inheritance, they are never even mentioned by name, in contrast to his daughters.  This also flies in the face of traditional Hebrew chronology, which at this time was based on of important men only (as the family name was passed down through men).  So the fact that the earliest-written Biblical account primarily mentions a man’s daughters as his successors is a pretty big deal. 

Finally, we will examine female prophets in the old testament.  The bible, especially the old testament, did not have the current concept of a pastor or priest that we have today.  The new testament has ministers, but the old testament had prophets.  Prophets took on many forms and spoke many messages.  But their primary purpose was to speak God’s will to his often-disobedient people.  And interestingly, there were exactly seven female prophets in the old testament (for those of you who have never attended church or studied the Bible, the number seven is kinda’ a big deal).  These prophets were: Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Isaiah’s wife (we don’t know her name), Huldah,  Noadiah, Esther.  (There were other women who could have fit the prophetic role, but they are not explicitly referred to as prophetesses).  Now, I would love to talk about each of these individuals but for time’s sake, I will focus on one: Deborah (who is conveniently pictured above).

For those who may be a bit rusty on their bible stories, Deborah was a Judge, which was basically a Warrior-Priest that settled disputes in the time before Israel’s kings.  They could preach God’s Word and kick-butt.  So not only did Deborah teach mean, preach to men, she also led men.  In a time of war, the current commander of Israel’s rather ragtag army did not feel confident he could lead them to victory.  So Deborah agrees to help him command the army but tells him a woman will claim the victory because of this.  Indeed this was the case, as the women Jael ends up killing the enemy leader.

So that’s it for the old testament.  While I have not written up a comprehensive examination of God’s will for “gender roles” in the old testament (that would be a book, not a blog), I hope I have at least written a thorough summary.  Next week I will continue my study into the New Testament, especially the oft-misinterpreted letters of Paul.  Thanks for reading, and as always, feel free to comment!

 

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Eight Courses I Hope Are Taught in the Future

As those of you reading this may or may not be aware, I have a blog.  For those of you who were not aware of this fact, what you are reading presently is in fact a blog post.  My intentions have always been to post somewhat frequently, but due to many factors such as school, work, and an unfortunate number of good movies in theaters have lead to me neglecting this duty.  So what follows, if you haven’t picked up on it yet, is a blog post.

Some of us have fond memories of our favorite classes in high school and college.  Others completely hated school altogether.  And a few of us don’t even remember school at all.  Below (or up, if you are reading this whilst upside down) is a list of eight courses I wish were taught in school, most of which have no value whatsoever but would be fun nevertheless.

  1. Meme Studies Honors: Unless of course you’ve never been on the internet or your Aunt’s Facebook page (wait, that’s still the internet), you are aware of the blessing and curse memes are on humanity.  In addition to being incredibly amusing, memes are also unnervingly influential.  Take the last U.S. Presidential election for example, certain Russian groups were able to instigate a whole lot of divisiveness with just a few poorly captioned images.  Or, that post of your Aunt’s Facebook page that used pictures of Minions from Despicable Me to convince you that climate change was a hoax.  As you can see, tomorrow’s leaders, wage workers, and tax evaders need to be equipped with the knowledge necessary to navigate the meme-saturated future.
  2. AP Lunch: Knowing how to make lunch is a relatively useful skill for those who enjoy not starving or for those who not John Cisna’s “My McDonald’s Diet”.  Spend 18 weeks mastering the art of sandwich-craft and microwave science.  Also, boost your GPA with an easy 5.0!
  3. AICE Cheating Skills: In the world of turnitin.com and intelligent teachers, our students are finding it increasingly harder to swindle their way to graduation.  Equip your students with the skills they need to succeed in a world where integrity matters!
  4. Math for College Readiness: Experience a math class so easy it’s designed for slackers and Seniors who’ve failed Standardized testing!  Sleep your way through two semesters as you engage in a rigorous day-by-day grind consisting of 20 minutes of review of the last three years of high school, followed by another 30 of sitting on your phone.  Oh, wait, you’re telling me this class already exists?  And it’s taught at most schools?  Never mind then….
  5. Google for College Readiness: Hail from an isolated rural community or super-strict home-school family?  Then this 101 class is just for you!  Spend one semester learning the basics of keyboard use, procrastination, and the No Internet Game.  Impress your friends back home with your newfound life skills.
  6. Pre-IB Pig Latin: Why bother learning a real language when you could learn a fake one?  Rearrange and replace those letters as your strive for an A!
  7. Values of Anecdotal Evidence in Speech and Debate I: Tired of losing in arguments?  Fed up with not getting your point across?  Then get ready to master making up statistics and quoting your childhood experiences in order to blow the opposition away!  Weave a complicated web of truths and half-truths as you bewilder your opponent in heated debates!  Now with integrated Trump Tweets in the second semester!
  8. AP Pop Culture References: Let’s face it, the only thing keeping most people from joining the top 1% is a lack of pop culture knowledge.  Buckle-down for a crash-course in everything from the MCU to the DCEU to Steam-Sale Culture.  Get ready to get learnt!

Welp, that’s it.  With these eight courses our education system could experience unprecedented reform the likes of which we’ve never seen before.  Are there any courses you felt were left out of this list?  Comment below to share!

 

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An Extremely Late, Less Serious Post

Hey, anyone remember when I said three weeks ago that I was going to be posting weekly again?  No one?  Well, me neither, but I figured Spring Break was as good a time as any to start.  So, as some of you may remember I promised a less serious post (which is a bummer ’cause I had a few very good serious posts in mind).  So today I’m going to teach you how to turn your handwriting in to a font.

Now, some of you may be wondering, why would I need/want my handwriting as a font?  Others, like me, are wondering, so how do I do this, I’ve been waiting my whole life to type in my handwriting on my computer.  I regret to inform the latter group, that you’re going to have to wait a little while longer.

For those who still aren’t convinced, here’s a few reasons as to why you need a handwriting font in your life.

  1. Bragging Rights
  2. Typing up handwritten notes
  3. Just because

Wait, that’s it?  I couldn’t come up with any other reasons?  If you can come up with any other reasons, comment below.  Now, on to the part where I actually tell you how to do it.

  1. First, go to this website.
  2. Second, download and print the provided template (PDF works best, and any standard printing paper should be fine).  It says you can do it in a paint program, but I would strongly suggest against that.  It won’t look anything like your handwriting.
  3. Using a thin sharpie or felt tip pen write each letter, symbol and character inside the form.  Don’t trace the letter, write them in each box as you would write the letter normally (unless of course you write outrageously large, then of course you may want to write a tad smaller).
  4. Now, scan the page onto your computer (depending on your setup this may be indirect or direct, you may wish to have a USB flash drive on hand).  Make sure you scan it black and white, and if your scanner has the option, scan it as 300 dpi and as a .jpeg or .pdf file format.
  5. Back on the same website as before, upload the scan we just created.  Give it a name.  Mine was called ParkerScript.  Wow, such an original name.  For compatibility purposes, you may want to convert it to a TTF file.  OTF works to, just not with some very old programs and computers (i.e. more than 10 years old).
  6. Download your font.  Double-click the file.  Congratulations, your handwriting is now a font on your computer!  Open up your favorite offline text editor and try using it!

Please note that this tutorial will probably not work for your phone, or any online text editor such as Google Docs or Office Online.

Whooh, that took me all of ten minutes to write.  It hopefully took you even less than that to complete the tutorial.  That’s all for this week.

 

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Who Is My Neighbor?: Reflections on The Good Samaritan

Some of you may be wondering what the story of the Good Samaritan and Black Panther have to do with each other.  Others may be wondering, “Wasn’t this supposed to be a weekly blog?  Why then has it been two weeks since your last post?”.  These are both good questions.  And I hope to answer them by the end of this post.

I recently, like most indoctrinated into the cult of capitalism and pop culture, watched Marvel’s latest movie Black Panther.  In fact I watched it twice, one of those times being unintentional.  How watching a movie can be unintentional is a tale for another time.  Anyways, it was pretty good.  Pretty good indeed.  And it raised some pretty important questions, much more than the typical super hero flick.  Chiefly, it asked a question that seemed pretty familiar to me: Who is my neighbor?  (Yes, I am aware I used ‘pretty’ way too many times in that last paragraph.  My inner English student hates it.  My pragmatic self doesn’t care much.)

Now, as the title of my blog post suggests, some of the themes addressed in Black Panther reminded me of the New Testament Bible story, or rather parable, of the Good Samaritan. In the story of the Good Samaritan, a student of Jewish law questions Jesus, ‘Who is my neighbor’, in response to hearing the Great Commandment, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself.  Now, in typical Jesus fashion, he didn’t answer the question directly.  Instead he did it via a parable, a simple allegorical story with a simple truth.  In it, a man is beaten, robbed, and left for dead on the side of a road.  Several people pass him, people you would expect to help him, and it is not until a Samaritan, the last person you’d expect to help a Jew in those times, passes by that he is helped.  Whew, that was a lot of run-on sentences.    I’m gonna’ take a breather for a sec.  Don’t mind me.  Go get a snack or check your email.

I’m back.  I’m sorry to have left you in such a long and arduous state of suspense.  So back to the parable.  The Samaritan proceeds to administer first-aid to the Jew, and brings him to the nearest hotel.   He pays the innkeeper to care for the man, and promises more money a few days ahead.  All without any expectation of getting paid in return.  The parable ends.  Jesus asks, ‘Who was the Jew’s neighbor?’  The student of the Law answer, ‘The one who showed him mercy’.

Nowadays, this story kinda’  seems like common sense.  But back in Jesus’s day this was a big deal.  Due to a long and complicated history, the Jew’s and Samaritans hated each other (even though they were basically the same people who lived exactly the same life-style).  So as I mentioned before, a Samaritan was the last person you’d expect to help a Jew.  But he did it anyways.  As Christians, and just as decent people in general, we are called to provide aid for any in need, not just the people we like, or those who are similar to us.  Now, on to the Black Panther connection.

I will try to avoid any overt spoilers of Black Panther, but I will touch upon some of the basic themes.  So if you would not like to see these, scroll ahead until the next bolded sentence.  But you’ll kinda’ be missing out.

In Black Panther, the fictitious country of Wakanda is one of the wealthiest and most technologically advanced countries in the world.  And nobody else knows about it.  Wakanda has hid from the world and remained out of any conflicts as a policy, which is probably the reason they ended up as they did.  So while they might not have to deal with issues such as poverty or racism, the rest of the world does.

This fuels the motivations of the movie’s villain.  He’s grown up in the outside world, so he know’s what it’s like.  He also knows Wakanda has the resources to help with this.  However, he takes this to extreme levels.  So while his heart was in the right place, his actions certainly were not.  But by the end of the movie, Black Panther, a.k.a. T’Challa, realizes there’s some truth to this.  So he ends Wakanda’s  isolationist practices and instead begins to offer aid to the outside world.

So, who was Wakanda’s (and our) neighbor?  The short answer is, anyone and everyone in need.  We’re all human beings, so if possible, we should help each-other out.  That includes those who are different from us.

An increasing trend in America, and some other parts of the world is to keep aid internalized and not help those outside of their own borders.  And what disturbs me even more is that this trend is especially prevalent inside of some Christian groups.  How could you claim to follow Christ’s teachings and not help the poor?  Or shelter the refuge?  Or tear apart the immigrant family who’s barely making ends meet?  For those of you who already “Love your neighbor” I don’t mean this as a criticism.  And for those who may not I don’t mean to criticize you.  Instead I mean this post as a wake-up call, a rally to serve those in need, in whatever way you are able to.  Also, you should go see Black Panther.  It was a pretty great movie.

So remember how I said I would tell you why I missed a week (or two) back at the beginning?  Turns out I was busy.  A lame excuse, but a real one.  So tune in next week for a new post….hopefully.  Probably.  Yes, probably.  And I’ll try to make it a little less serious than this one.

 

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