Trump ends campaign!

BREAKING NEWS: Donald Trump has announced the end of his campaign for the presidency.

 

In a press conference this morning the Donald revealed that, like his steaks and vodka, the whole thing was a joke he started last year.

 

Trump opened up about the plan in a press conference this morning:

“I said to myself, you know what’s wrong with the world…nobody does a good April Fool’s joke anymore. Nobody! Except maybe China, with their currency…maybe Jeb Bush. But nobody does a good joke anymore. So I thought I’d give it a shot, but honestly, I didn’t think it would go this far. So last April, we laid the groundwork, and top comedians I talked with gave it their stamp of approval. Top comedians. And then, well, here we are! But it’s enough, really, it’s gone on long enough. My children…let me tell you, I have the best children. And my wife, Melania, tremendous wife. They got tired of this awhile back. So today seems like the best day to call it. It’s over, folks.”

Trump went on to admit that he borrowed the idea for “winning” as a campaign platform from Charlie Sheen, adding that Sheen was a tremendous guy, and “no one does winning like that guy.”

When asked about what he would do for the remainder of the election year, Trump stated that he might take a vacation for a few weeks, but wouldn’t be completely out of the public eye:

 

“Are you gonna see less Trump? Sure, for a while. I haven’t had a good steak in months, I had to keep eating these generic label steaks with “Trump” on the box to make it look like I was winning everywhere. These are terrible! And Ben Carson…great guy, but the guy lost because he had to go home for a fresh set of clothes. Tremendous clothes, I know, but I’m gonna get him a wardrobe. He’ll need it!”

Asked whether he would support one of the current candidates in their bid for election, Trump gave one of his trademark non-answers:

“Look, if you’ve kept up with the Trumps for the past couple of decades I think it’s pretty obvious. Obviously I’ve been putting money where it helps my business – tremendous business, by the way, with so much winning – so of course I’m gonna support that. Look, I’m not gonna SAY I’m supporting Hillary Clinton – you can say it, the press can say what they want – by the way, I love you guys, really, I do. You’re all winners. But I’m not gonna say I’ll support Hillary. But really, she’s gonna be winning.”

When reached for comment, RNC chairman Reince Priebus (who continues to deny that his name was another elaborate prank) admitted that most of the leadership had been aware of Trump’s prank for a couple of months now, and hinted that we might hear another announcement soon from a certain governor of Ohio:

“It may be a few weeks in coming – this guy isn’t known for ending things at the right time, so his prank might last another week or two – but we’re confident he’ll get there.”

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Open letter to Christians (including me) #1

Dear Christians (including me),

When we look at the state of the world and the symptoms of its hatred of God, we are often inclined to say “Lord come quickly” – as though Christ’s return is the only solution.

Certainly that’s the final solution, but how could we – in God’s name, no less – refuse our responsibilities in the meantime?

The words of Esther 4:14 come to mind:
“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Let’s try to avoid using Christ’s return as an excuse to avoid responsibilities.
In fact it is the very failure of the church that has brought us to where we are.

Bottom line: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” includes us carrying it out.

The Equalizer

Too often we grade sins by their effect on other creatures – or more often ourselves – without any regard for their effect against God. So we condemn the drug dealer, the alcoholic, the young single mother (and, sometimes, her boyfriend), the thief, and the murderer, but we give a pass to blasphemy, and lean in to hear gossip, and then thank God that we are not like these other men. In doing so we reveal yet another layer of our sinfulness – another manifestation of pride, wherein hurting *people* is somehow worse than sinning against God. As always, the Devil is clever in his attacks. He takes even our acknowledgement of wrongdoing and twists it so that we place ourselves above God.

Every sin is against God first of all, and every sin is rebellion against God.
Note King David’s prayer in Psalm 51, after he had taken Bathsheba from Uriah and then had Uriah killed:

“Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.” (Ps. 51:4)

Is a man who hates others or a man who commits adultery with women in his heart a “better sinner” than the man who murdered someone or committed adultery?

Matthew 5: 21, 22, 27, 28

Every sinful act is equally evil in the sight of God. Perhaps the easiest way to comprehend this is to realize that all sinful acts proceed from pride – from rebellion against God. Murder, gossip, and profaning the Sabbath day are all equal sins because they are all acts of pride.

Of course, even when we accept that every sin is equal in the eyes of God, we’re more likely to do so because something we’re guilty of seems far above the curve, and we’d be very glad to see it brought down a few notches. If I am a cocaine addict, I would very much like to feel as “sinless” as the church member a couple pews back who never seems to step out of line. And perhaps, given the emphasis we place in the wrong direction, the net effect of treating sins as equal in God’s eyes will be great relief on the part of society’s “worst”.

But for the rest, the effect of realizing the weight of your own sins will be a significant increase in awareness of your wretchedness. You, with your gossip, are no less a sinner than a homosexual – and may even be in greater danger than he is if he at least is struggling against his sin.”. A man who commits adultery is no better than a man who abuses women. You who hate your fellow student for whatever reason are not better than the man who killed his fellow student.

In the eyes of God you have both committed the same sins. In the eyes of God you are both offered salvation.

Every single day we are blasphemers, adulterers, murderers, thieves; hateful, idolaters, covetous, and more. And we commit each of those sinful acts to the same degree as others who are perhaps less “careful” about it. We are terrible, disgusting creatures.

And that is why God saved us by sacrificing His own Son.

Moral or Manipulated?

This story trending on Facebook.
Why am I sharing a “celebrity with bad ideas” story?

Because it’s a case-in-point on how modern feminists often devalue and reduce themselves to “objects” while believing that they’re doing the exact opposite. It’s also a great example of how cultural traditions and morals – separated from Christianity – are a terrible standard to operate by, no matter where they come from.

She may in some ways be a victim here of ideology and manipulation, but her husband is a terrible example of a man no matter what…

Living in a livable way

I think every employer should pay a fair or livable wage, and even see it as a matter of justice. So here’s my question for the “Wagers”:

What are your rights regarding *how* you earn a livable income?

I don’t think you can effectively argue – certainly not by any Biblical standard at least – that we have a *right* to only work 40 hours (or 32, or 20) per week. Everyone has a right to the potential of earning a liveable income, but at what level do we set the right to a number of hours?

I *do* think you can argue that if a place is paying so low that you have to work say 80+ or 100+ hours – so that your health in terms of sleep for instance is degraded – then they aren’t paying a fair wage. But I think that’s a situation far outside of the current conversation.

When I got out of college I had a degree and I also had a responsibility to pay the bills that got me said degree. I also went through some low-income months while trying out various jobs, which meant that my responsibilities led me to work 70+ hour weeks for a while. I was exercising my rights and responsibilities, at $9-$10 per hour plus overtime.

Can you really argue that a single company has the obligation to pay you a wage such that you don’t ever have to exceed 40 hours a week?

O Little Town of Bellingham

Rough Draft (composed during lunch today)

O little town of Bellingham

How still do we see thee lie?

Though consequence upon thee creeps

Your folly to soon defy.

While in thy alleys hideth

The huddled masses, high

Their freedom screams in drug-fueled dreams

That play while they slowly die.

O little town of Bellingham

Where wisdom is left to die

Above God all desires keep

Lest truth turn thy schemes awry

Thy intellect so shineth

It blinds you from the Light

At least you’re free from all decrees

That might stop some pleasure nigh

How silently, how silently

Your children from wombs are riv’n

Though God imparts their souls and hearts

You murder these blessings giv’n

Their ears are stopped from hearing

Their eyes from sight denied

These poor and meek your vacuums seek

So your pleasures may abide.

Yet Christ was born of Mary

And died for his perfect love

To cancel sin and bring us in

Though we hate our God above

O citizens return now

Before your time is through

Though soon the King will judgment bring

His covenant is true

Who do you follow?

There’s a car I regularly see in Bellingham with a bumper sticker that says “Is that what they told you to think?”

I have to admit, when I see stickers of this type, I always imagine the driver as something like a young skinny white guy just desperate to unleash his self-righteous sneer on anyone not as smart as he is.

Messages like these always evoke the “laugh so you don’t cry” response in me because they reveal a sort of intentional self-deception. It’s the same self-deception that causes a man to convince himself that he just came prepackaged with his moral values, instead of attributing them if not to God, then at least to the people who raised and molded him.

Everyone – even this guy who “thinks for himself” – is a follower of someone else’s thought. It’s not a question of *whether* you follow another person’s teaching but *whose* teaching you follow.

At the most basic level the only difference between an unbeliever and a Christian is that Christians follow the teaching of a naturally perfect God, whereas unbelievers follow the teaching of deeply flawed and demonstrably broken human beings.

Which, incidentally, is why unbelievers are chained to the concept of “progress” in spite of a mountain of evidence (to borrow a favorite cliche of theirs) to the contrary: They need to have faith in some sort of process that withstands the inevitable faults of their predecessors and contemporaries.

Sin and Irony

In “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis, Screwtape in one letter is writing about
the virtue of humility in order to instruct on how to assault it:

“Your patient has become humble; have you drawn his attention to the fact? All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware that he has them, but this is specially true of humility. Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, ‘By jove! I’m being humble’, and almost immediately pride—pride at his own humility—will appear. If he awakes to the danger and tries to smother this new form of pride, make him proud of his attempt—and so on, through as many stages as you please. But don’t try this too long, for fear you awake his sense of humour and proportion, in which case he will merely laugh at you and go to bed.”

I can attest to this sort of inner conflict very well, and it comes up also in the struggle against sin in general. I often catch myself thinking in a moment that “I’ve become a much better person over the past few years,” and while by the grace of God that may be true, in the interest of honesty I have to admit that I don’t always consider it as having happened by the grace of God. So we see the insidiousness of the Devil’s plots – that even when we realize that we are being sanctified and changed as new men, he sets barbs of pride in us.

Knowing this, however, I find myself by the Grace of God able to proceed to the point where I realize and laugh at the absurdity of the pride/humility cycle, choosing instead to rely with humility on God to know my heart and forgive what pride is there.

I bring all this up as a personal reminder, but also because I have for a long time been progressing in awareness of how much I – and sadly, most people – pursue instant gratification. We are often caught believing that because we, as adults, generally don’t pitch temper tantrums, we must not be very needy or insistent on instant gratification. I know however that for instance when it comes to hunger and fast food restaurants, I am very much at fault for instant gratification.

Where the irony comes in is that, in my struggling against various sins related to instant gratification, I often become frustrated in the slow gains I am making.

And so I have come to realize that in my striving against instant gratification, I am ironically guilty of demanding instant gratification.

So, yet another reminder to rely on God’s Grace 🙂

10 examples of how hypocritical the culture is (off the top of my head)

  1. We protest GMOs and artificial ingredients, but applaud those who bombard their body with hormones and artificially augment themselves.
  2. We protest the power of government to put others to death, but demand that the government pay for our right to put our own children to death.
  3. We demand that the government stay far from our bedroom, but demand that they sponsor who we bed, and pay for any physical and emotional fallout.
  4. We demand that everyone tolerate the choices we feel are right, but rage against others who make choices they feel are right.
  5. We tell people to think for themselves and challenge authority, and get angry when they do so.
  6. We teach our children to follow their hearts, and wring our hands when some of them actually do it.
  7. We hate corporations like Wal-mart and “big oil” and then shop at corporations like Wal-mart and live a life filled with byproducts of oil.
  8. We say one man who kills himself is the puppet of a disease, but turn around and applaud a woman who kills herself as having great courage.
  9. We encourage positive body image and then applaud those who want to surgically alter theirs.
  10. We demand that boys and girls can play with all the same toys and dress however they want, but when a boy plays with dolls we tell him he might be a girl, and when a girl plays with soldiers, we tell her she might be a boy.

And in summary:

We sin, and rage at God for not averting the consequences (and Stephen Fry’s rant is just one of many examples)

And here are 3 for my fellow Christians:

  1. We demand freedom of religious expression in public, but then don’t make any
  2. We cry out when the government legislates on certain moral topics, but then wait for the government to legislate on certain moral topics
  3. We call “persecution” when liberals boycott Christian companies, but then demand that everyone boycott secular companies

Too many boxes, and favorite authors

I often think of my mind as a vast network of boxes(insert joke about size of mind here). Many boxes are cataloged, some are cast about haphazardly (insert joke about messy rooms here), but on the whole it’s one giant dark warehouse filled with boxes. Each box is filled with a memory, a thought, a feeling, or some such noun.

Everyone knows that the more boxes you have, the more likely you are to forget which box you’ve placed a certain thing in. In addition, when you’re tearing off box lids looking for one thing, you are more than likely to encounter various other things along the way, some of which you probably forgot were there. I’ve been gathering one or two samples of various toys from childhood for awhile now, including a Lego “A-Wing Fighter” from Star Wars, a toy tank, several Hot Wheels cars, a couple floppy disks (“What‘s THAT?” asks the Millennials), and 2 cartridges from our first video game console (console not included). I consider them to be like keys that unlock a particular vault of memories.

Now I’ve also found as I go from one thing to the next in life that a great many things are related. For instance, the Bible relates to all things, whether you intended it to or not. I’m frequently struck by a sudden connection between the topic at hand and a verse I happened to read the other day (and it’s at times like this that I’m thankful for an online concordance). Thus, often when I open the box to the memory I was looking for,I find side columns and footnotes pointing me in all different directions.

Between the ages of roughly 18-21 I would at times jump in the car with several friends and just drive. Call us unimaginative,call us comfortable, or call us crazy – we would just drive, sometimes for a couple of hours. My particular favorite method was to drive until you hit a red light and then call a mechanic (no, not LITERALLY hit it). My particular favorite method was to drive until you hit a red light, and then decide whether to turn right or left (usually once the light had turned green). So it was that on random choice we would wander about within 10-15 miles of home, windows down and with no care for the work we had in the morning. I don’t necessarily recommend the pastime, but it’s a handy metaphor.

When I visit my college I like to wander the paths between the dorms and let my mind wander through 4 years of memories upon memories layered on those paths. Sitting here now, if I dared to break my train of thought, I could do the same – but it’s more vivid when I’m actually there.

Regarding trains of thought: Sometimes when I lose my train of thought I think of the movie Inception: “You’re waiting for a train. A train that’ll take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you. But you can’t know for sure. Yet it doesn’t matter…”

Where this train is headed is an appreciation of authors. I’ve encountered what I consider to be many authors in my reading years, and in a variety of circumstances if you will.

Some authors I’ve treated with hostility, like door-to-door salesman selling things I find neither intriguing nor good nor even basically useful. (As a past door-to-door salesman, I approve this negative metaphor)

In this group I lump most philosophers, academics, and art historians)

Other authors I’ve let in the door so that they could toss about confetti and fireworks for a moment before leaving. In this group I lump K.A. Applegate, J.K. Rowling, R.A. Salvatore, and Kevin J. Anderson.

Still a third group of authors comprise those who show up in ragged clothing but, upon inspection, reveal that they have an excellent steak for me to chew on. In this group I lump Frank Herbert, Orson Scott Card(he barely escaped the confetti group, to be honest), Kierkegaard, and (if I’m being fully honest) some several books of the Bible.

A fourth group belongs to those who enter with strong references from either my trusted friends or theirs. These are the authors who have a look around and start sprucing up the place, making it a more delightful place to live. In this group I include Ray Bradbury, whom I thank for the scent of summer that lingers during all 4 seasons; Brandon Sanderson, whom I thank for laughter and optimism in the face of great evil, and a love of characters; and Tolkien and Lewis, whom I thank here for swords, rich worlds, and excellent sin and savior metaphors.

The fifth group, which is the reason why I’m writing this whole thing in the first place – thus why it’s the last thing (see, I learned SOMETHING in journalism school) – are authors who walk in while I’m looking the other way and start applying fresh labels and throwing open long-untouched boxes. These are the authors that reach into my mind and perform a magic trick, producing certain bold ideas and inspirations from boxes I had thought contained the memories of June 15th, 1994 or the scrapings of an essay by Kant. Raising each item to the light to examine it, they give names to these barely-recognized artifacts and I am left dumbfounded while muttering “Yes…yes that’s exactly what that was. I hadn’t thought of it that way!” Frequently this leads to me throwing open adjacent boxes to discover that those are related as well.

Often these authors produce from containers certain ingredients that I hadn’t realized would make a sensational concept when combined. This infusion of new ingredients tends to, when combined, cause an explosion that knocks down the nearest wall into an adjoining warehouse. The fresh air from this before-unknown warehouse makes the whole cavernous place a lot more pleasant to be in, and the added space lends optimism to my future plans – what will I be able to fill THAT with?

Into this fifth group I lump N.D. Wilson, Doug Wilson,C.S. Lewis, Sinclair Ferguson, Jay Adams (to name the most recent members anyway) and (if I’m being fully honest) a growing number of books of the Bible.

I don’t know if I had a point to this other than to express the conceptualization I have of how my mind operates, and in particular to give tribute to the authors who have shaped me thus far. Other than that I need to shuffle a handful of books from group 3 to group 4, unless they should happen to sneak into group 5 on their own.

For now, I’ll leave it at that.