Author Archives: David Zelenka

The Parables of Jesus

Posted by David

I’ve started blogging about the parables of Jesus.

Ambiguity in Design


Old and young women

In recent months, Pope Francis has been accused of making ambiguous statements. The media will take his words and say, “Look how liberal Pope Francis is.” But if you read further into it, he will have said another thing that seemed to contradict what he said previously. But are his statements truly contradictory? Our reactions are truly in the “eye of the beholder,” are they not?

The Rich Man and Lazarus


The Bad Rich Man in Hell - James Tissot

For various reasons I am being increasingly convinced that really and truly the only real direction for the Church to take is to become poor. When I say poor, I don’t mean only poor in spirit, I also mean poor financially and poor materially. In doing so, a number of interesting things will happen to us and to our churches.

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager


The Pharisees Question Jesus - James Tissot

It never ceases to amaze me how parables are twisted to fit our desires. The Parable of the Shrewd Manager is at the top of the most-twisted list. What do we expect, it’s about the love of money. How often is it preached that we should be shrewd like the shrewd manager because the master commended him? But does Jesus want us to be shrewd? Shrewdness implies a level of trickery. And who is the manager’s master anyway?

The Parable of the Sower


The Sower - James Tissot

The Parable of the Sower may be the most important parable, not only because it is here that Jesus teaches us how interpret all the parables, but more so because Jesus lays out a map for building a good and noble heart. Even though Jesus explains this parable literally, we still cannot understand it without the encryption key. And even with the key, which he does clearly give us in the Parable of the Lost Sheep, you still may not understand, because it is the shape of the hole in your heart that is needed for the key to fit.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep


The Good Shepherd - James Tissot

How much time do you spend primping your life so you’ll fit in with the crowd? We all spend time trying to fit in with our social groups. It’s natural for the human species. Nevertheless, Jesus explains when we do this we live in very dangerous territory. We focus on belonging rather than being loved by Christ. Being loved by God should be our highest aspiration. But how can we make ourselves good enough to be loved by God? We can’t.Who do you think Jesus loves most? You may be surprised at the answer.

The Parable of the Unworthy Servant


The Exhortation to the Apostles - James Tissot

The more we learn about Jesus the more we realize how unworthy we really are. We hear about how “faith” saved and healed the people who flocked to Jesus. Our response can be like that of the disciples, “Why don’t I have that level of faith.” In the Parable of the Unworthy Servant, Jesus explains to his disciples exactly how to increase their faith.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan


The Good Samaritan -  James Tissot

The Parable of the Good Samaritan might be the most well known of Jesus’ parables, partly because it is so simple to understand and also because churchgoers learn it in Sunday School at an early age. But how well do we really know it? In order to really understand it we must put on our sinner’s ears and our repentant heart and look deeply inside.

The Parable of the Ten Minas


The Tribute Money - James Tissot

Once again, with the Parable of the Ten Minas (or the Parable of the Talents from Matthew), we find a parable that has deep layers of ambiguity where sinners will hear one thing and the false-righteous will hear another. This parable has been cited to support usurious lifestyles and to justify the rich’s oppression of the poor. It has also been used to explain how some in heaven will shine brighter than others. But what did Jesus really mean by it?

The Parables of the Cloth and Wineskins


Meal in the House of Matthew - James Tissot

We sinners must drink deeply of the new wine that Jesus offers us. But you’ll find the Pharisees of today still trying to keep the new wine from the lips of Jesus’ disciples. In the Gospel of Luke, the Pharisees once again try to trap him when they ask why his disciples drink and eat with Jesus rather than fasting like John’s disciples. Jesus responds to the Pharisees saying, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” The Pharisees are implying that association with sinners is desecrating. But the opposite is true. When Jesus associates himself with sinners he consecrates them.

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet


Woe unto You Scribes and Pharisees - James Tissot

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet is the last in a series of parables which indict the chief priests and elders in their efforts of keeping the kingdom of heaven from the people. In Matthew 23 Jesus exclaims, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” This series of parables directly accuses the leaders of spiritual fraud.

Salt and Light


Jesus Teaching by the Seashore - James Tissot

Each autumn we usually make a bucket of sauerkraut for the winter. To prepare it, my wife buys an enormous cabbage from our local market. I shred the cabbage, put it in a sterilized bucket with salt and spices, and beat it with a 2×4. After I put a weight on top, I seal it up with a one-way air valve, so oxygen can’t spoil the lactose fermentation process.Salt-curing was the main way of food preservation for ages. When Jesus talked about salt to his listeners. They knew it was all about preservation. They knew they were learning how to be preserved and preserve others for the kingdom of heaven.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins


The Wise Virgins - James Tissot

“Keep watch,” Jesus says. But keep watch for what? When we are vigilant for Christ should we be watching for just the right guy to rise to power? I doubt it. Just the other day, I was driving down the highway by myself and missed a chance to pick up a hitchhiker. I chose not to stop for him because I was in a school district vehicle. But was Jesus in that man? Could my relationship with Christ have grown deeper by helping him down the road? I was off in my own head, rather than being ready to help someone out in the name of Christ. Vigilance was key, but I missed the opportunity.

The Parable of the Rich Fool


The Tithe Barn - Walter Tyndale

Autumn has settled in and slowed us down here on the Olympic Peninsula. The big-leaf maples are turning yellow. The rains have begun. It’s the time of year that we gather our winter supplies and we cozy up together. We glean apples with friends from the unused orchards for cider pressing. We spend a good deal of time canning fruits and storing up the other beautiful vegetables from our garden. I enjoy taking the kids out to the state lands to cut wood for our firewood stack for the following winter. Both my wife and I just love this time of year. We drink a lot of tea and spend the darkening evenings warming up next to our wood stove. What a life, right? But doesn’t Jesus call that sort of activity folly in the Parable of the Rich Fool?

The Parable of the Persistent Widow


Parable of the Unjust Judge - John Everett Millais

How often have you prayed and prayed about something and God did not respond with what you considered a just and right response? This is a common experience in the life of all Christians. Why? Doesn’t Jesus tell us, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” How do we reconcile our prayer life with God’s words? Does he really give us what we ask for?

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You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

An early carnivore that was a close relative of Miacis uintensis, Vulpavus. (Credit: Marlene Donnelly and The Field Museum)

An early carnivore that was a close relative of Miacis uintensis, Vulpavus. (Credit: Marlene Donnelly and The Field Museum)

Remember on the Planet of the Apes when the monkeys had evolved into Humanoid like creatures, well, don’t put your bets on that happening in reality. It’s just not the way evolution works.

I think that I’m discovering that each general species group, such as carnivores for example, has a period in its early history when it’s innovative and has the ability to evolve. Evolution is more volatile early on. But once it’s an old timer, say a wolf, it’s not going to change much from there. An old dog really can’t learn new tricks. However, the early carnivore certainly could. It was a young dog and it had the right stuff to turn into bears, raccoons, hyenas and cats too. And it did.

Take another example: the sea otter. Could it ever become like a baleen whale, the early ungulate ancestor of our water spouting cetaceans? I don’t think so. There were times in which evolution was rampant throughout the animal and plant kingdoms. The morphologies of those species were simple and general. The behaviors were probably also characterized by general habits rather than highly refined. But as species groups began filling the smaller niches, their traits became more and more specialized and as a result the morphologies became distinct and stable.

It seems that the fossil evidence shows that once a species hits it’s archetype, it doesn’t change all that much afterward. If true, this is significant. It demonstrates that, yes, evolution is unidirectional. And no, survival is not the underlying method for evolution. Species evolve because they are tending toward their archetype.

I’m not a paleontologist, but this theory could be tested by looking at the fossil record and graphing various species groups and how much they changed over time. I expect that you’d find that all species groups’ morphologies change significantly early on and less significantly as time progresses.

What does this say about mankind and our species? It says that bonobos can’t become human. It also says that mankind has an archetype into which it is evolving (or has evolved). And my bet is that it is not Homo technicus. Instead, we tend toward our Archetype: Christ.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1: 1-5

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Tale of Two Cities – Part 3 of 3

Posted by David
Two trains of the Ffestiniog Railway at Tan y Bwlch Station

Two trains of the Ffestiniog Railway at Tan y Bwlch Station

Part 1, Part 2

The key to wealth is not the actual ownership of wealth, but rather the being a conduit for it. You may either do this by being increasingly useful to the greater system or by becoming a larger conduit, which are actually the same. If you stay useful and transform and transfer the energy provided to you in increasingly innovative ways, then you keep your job in the system. If not, you are shed and become transformed wealth. “Sold! to the highest bidder.”

If that sounds a bit terrifying, well, it is if you want to be a part of one particular economic system. But in this world there are actually two economies working in parallel. Thank goodness, because one of the systems is too ruthless for me to be a member. And thankfully, one is dieing and one is living. In fact, one is death and one is life. In one, the energy driving the system is pride or powerlust. In the other, the energy driving the system is love. Pride is a contained system. Pride is a self-centered system. Pride is a closed system and has a definite limit to its innovation.

Love on the other hand is based in God, who is outside the system itself. So, it is an open system. It is eternally creative and innovative. Not only does its innovation never end, but neither does the fuel nor desire. All parts of the energy triangle work indefinitely within this economy of Love.

To be a part of the former system, you must fight, deal, cheat and steal. You must transform energy for the greater pride.

On the other hand, to be a part of the latter system, you must pass love without regard. You must transform the energy give for the greater love. And it’s not possible to horde love. It can only be passed along to the greater benefit of the whole.

I mentioned that these two economies, or what Saint Augustine called “cities,” work in parallel. This is important to understand, because some of us might think that we’re caught or trapped in the former system and can’t get out. But by being in parallel, it’s easy to just step over to the other track and start passing love rather than envy, pride and lust, no matter where you are. When we spend money, we do it out of love rather than fear. We do it out of charity rather than vanity. So you don’t need to quit your job. You can jump tracks wherever you are and serve either a master or a friend.

When you start converting your conduit over to love rather than pride, love then starts eroding your streambed, rather than ruthlessness. Your river gets bigger and draws in more love. God’s love starts broadening your conduit. And I finally understand at least part of Jesus’ Parable of the Shrewd Manager. Jesus shows us that we must use our position (our conduit) to funnel love rather than trickery. We’re not stuck. We can get out. When we do, we find true wealth to actually be relationship, particularly relationship founded in the eternally innovative Love of God.

So, what’s the key to greater wealth?

  1. Wealth can only be found in relationships.
  2. There are two types of wealth in human civilization: pride and love.
    1. Pride is a false-wealth. You become a slave to its master and will fall with the master when the peak is reached in this closed-system.
    2. Love is true wealth and is only had through a relationship with that which is outside the Universe: God.
  3. You cannot store wealth. It is uncontainable. It cannot be horded. There is simply no need to try.
  4. You can become a greater conduit for both types of wealth—pride or love—by freely passing what is given to you.

The master commended the dishonest manager for his  shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Luke 16: 8-13

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Can’t Touch This – Part 2 of 3

Posted by David 
Wealth equals relationship diagram

Wealth equals relationship diagram

Part 1Part 3

The interesting similarity between ecosystems and economic systems is that nothing owns energy. There is no true wealth gained by the parts of any system. Energy (or value) is always transforming and changing places. It never stops. It might slow by becoming stored in a slow process. But if it is to actually stop, it would no longer be energy. It would be dead. And energy can’t die. It can only transform or change state. Nothing in ecological systems is actually dead. It is always being used for something. There is never really a loss of energy. Nothing is wasted.

On the other hand, people tend to see economic systems as systems based on accumulation of wealth, whether that be money, stocks, gold, cars, homes, land, businesses, etc. But just like in ecological systems, the parts are not valuable. The flow of energy between structures is the only thing of value. So, wealth is not the accumulation of things. It can’t be. If its value stops and is stored, it dies. Value only happens at the moment the energy is transformed. Money is only worth something at the untouchable moment when it passes from one hand to another in exchange for something. When money or assets stop doing something (transforming), they are not valuable. It’s not even worth anything if someone thinks it’s worth something, as some may wish you to believe. It’s only worth at the moment of transaction or transformation.

Human individuals can never truly know economic wealth. It’s always just beyond our reach, which is why the people who are obsessed with wealth are always unsatisfied. They can’t touch it.

True wealth can only be known outside of an individual parts of the system. No part can have wealth or energy. Energy is in the relationship, not the parts. Even the Universe does not know its ‘glory’. Only God who is outside the natural system can claim to be wealthy. One may argue that, within my body there are innumerable relationships and stored processes that are continually transforming and transferring energy. True, however, we can’t know that wealth. We can’t understand that value, because it is still outside my point of reference.

Pride and power work the same way as wealth. They are ever-desired, but always out of reach. Power is something that cannot be contained by an individual, because it only becomes power when it is being transformed between two systems. Neither of the systems can claim ownership of the wealth.

However, certain systems can become greater conduits of the flow of energy. As more energy is transformed within a system, that system can begin to grow. This is the process of succession (or evolution) as discussed above. That’s not to say that they are any more important than the other parts of the system—but that they transfer and transform the energy in greater amounts. We see this in a forest when a tree becomes a conduit for transferring oxygen into the atmosphere. Just due to its great size it provides a greater flow of energy than say the fern below. A river is a good example also. As water flows through cracks and fissures, the more water that flows, the greater the erosion of those cracks and the more water tends to flow through those systems.

Once again we also see this in our economic systems. Certain companies and individuals which have spent enormous amounts of money in innovative interests become conduits for greater wealth. They are not actually wealthy, but they are conduits for it. And in fact, if they start wasting their wealth, or stockpiling it, the innovation begins to decline, the flow of wealth diminishes and so does their company. Again innovation is key here. Depending on their size, they must be more and more innovative to sustain the flow of wealth. Within human systems as they hit their climax, they tend to find innovation through more and more questionable and ruthless means, ultimately to their destruction. We see that rampant type of business today in our world. It is a harbinger to what is to come. They make me realize that, yes, we have peaked. Innovation is dieing. Our lightning bolt is coming soon.

I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’

Luke 16:4-7

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Economic Succession – Part 1 of 3

Posted by David
Ecological/Economic Succession

Ecological/Economic Succession

Part 2, Part3

Ecologists speak of succession in terms of how a particular plant community evolves over time toward a climax system. All ecosystems grow under this process and I expect the same is true for economics and for civilization in general.

To see how this works, let’s first look at a forest ecosystem for example. The process of succession usually begins after a particular catastrophic event that clears the landscape. This might just be a local event such as a blowdown or an avalanche, or it might be broad in scope such as a fire, volcanic event, or emerging from a period of glaciation.

Initially, pioneer species populate the landscape helping to build up important nutrients such as nitrates, or structures, such as soil and habitat building blocks. This is the time of ‘innovation’. Diverse groups of plants, trees, animals and biota expand over the new landscape.

What follows is usually a succession of species that culminates in a fairly uniform, slow-growing community of species. At this point, innovation begins to collapse as the group of climax species become dominate and unchanging. This system is much less diverse than its initial pioneer stage. The species set stays the same until some catalyst returns the process back to the beginning state or climate or geography changes. In ecological succession, I argue that it’s actually the lack of diversity or the lack of innovation which is what ‘calls in’ the catalyst—maybe a fire—which returns the landscape to the beginning of the succession cycle.

Could civilization and economics be driven by the same process? I think so.

In society, initially innovation drives the changes and innovation creates the building blocks which allow the next stages of social and economic development. But finally, that innovation fades out, just like species diversity. Newness ends. It can’t go any further because all natural systems have limits. They hit their archetypal wall. They become what they were to become, or close to it. A Tsuga mensezii forest will only become a Tsuga mensezii forest unless the climate changes. That’s what it becomes. Cultures culminate into their archetype. The Maya, Astecs, Egyptians became a Pyramid building culture. This archetypal culture emerged out of man’s understanding of natural history and his development of math and the occult. It’s interesting to note that the pyramid describes perfectly the process of succession—more diverse at the base, less diverse at the zenith. Other cultures developed into their archetypes. Rome seems to be a special type that isn’t all that different than what we have today. Only ours is nested more firmly in advanced technology.

In our global industrial civilization we are walking along the same successionary process as forests follow. Innovation builds the society and lack of innovation will bring our decline. I argue that innovation has truly peaked in our global society. I remember seeing a boy with a shirt on in southern Argentina in 1998, which read in English, “Know no limits—Mountain Dew.”

Yes, there are still minor innovations in science and culture…but we’ve hit the wall. We will know our limit. And I think we’ve been at the peak for a number of years now. The question for me becomes how long can we last at this final climax stage? A Tsuga mensezii may last hundreds of years in the climax stage.

Fire triangle

Fire triangle

The succession process and growth of an ecological community is very much like a fire. It runs under the same process. Take fire triangle for example. For a fire to burn, it needs fuel, oxygen, and heat. Without either of the three, fire cannot happen. Likewise, for a civilization to grow it needs fuel, innovation, and desire. Without either of the three, it collapses. Could it be that they all three occur at once? Do they feedback on one another: Lack of fuel lowers desire which lowers innovation. Lack of innovation decreases desire, which limits the amount of available fuel. You get the idea. In our civilization, you might call it Peak Oil, Peak Innovation, or Peak Desire. Whether the chicken, the egg or the chicken pellets came first doesn’t matter. The peak occurs and then the civilization fades or collapses.

But what can we learn about the catalyst that initiates fire at the end of the forest succession process? As energy goes into a system if it’s not being put into innovation, it is being stored elsewhere, dry wood, fuel, lack of diversity, cranky people, etc. Eventually, that dry wood, those cranky people, become the fuel for the fire. I argue that it’s the accumulation of fuel that actually draws in the lightning, but how it happens isn’t important to this argument.

I mentioned “cranky people,” but I’m not really kidding. It’s those cranky people that help to dissolve society. They and their lack of innovation is the precursor to civil war or revolution.

The same is the case for our present society and economic reality. Energy is always entering the system, but when it stops flowing into innovation, it starts being stored up in the people, and even the products to some extent. The energy becomes ripe for the fire that causes its decline. The energy is what feeds the fire. When it builds up great enough, there will either be an event that is the spark that causes its destruction. Some people call these “black swan” events.

He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’

Luke 16:1-3

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After Fukushima – Like John or like Legion

Posted by David
Nuclear power plants around the world, 1999.

Nuclear power plants around the world, 1999.

It seems obvious to me, but clearly not to some, that nuclear power is probably the most irresponsible forms of technologies produced by man. Now that we have another public nuclear accident at Fukushima, I’ve been thinking about why it is so. For the most part, I don’t worry myself about environmental issues. I figure that Homo technicus will only last so long, after which man and creation will heal after being abused so profoundly. It is the nature of God’s creation to heal. Jesus made that abundantly clear while he walked among us. Paul helped to clarify:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

Romans 8:18-22

As I’ve stated before, I believe technology is the pride and glory of man. Technology is not an instrument of faith, but an instrument of pride and vanity. Was it not the technology of agriculture that caused God to be displeased with Cain’s offering? It was the shepard, Abel, whose offering was pleasing to God. It is acts of faith that please God.

Nuclear energy is an attempt to circumvent faith through postponing the price. But someone always pays the price. Jjustice exists in full in this univere of ours. Someone will pay the price of nuclear energy through suffering in unknowable ways.

Whether or not they are actually able to clean up the mess at Fukushima, one day power will not be restored to one of the 400+ power plants in the world. We cannot count on stability in any particular country, however Western, however peaceable they seem to be, because all civilizations eventually fall. Civilization is just a societal technology and eventually it stops working, just like your laptop. No matter how many days or thousands of years it takes for our present system to fall, we will be leaving melting cores for someone, some animal or some part of God’s creation. Why do we place our faith in technological structures rather than in the One who provides all that we need?

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Genesis 1:27

Some argue that because we are called to subdue the whole earth it means we should use whatever technology have at our finger tips to do so. Some would even go as far as to argue that the world we’re growing into is the future creation. This technologically advanced civilization is what God has set forth. It is the beginning of the new kingdom of earth? Poppycock.

Man is indeed in a phylum of his own. We are set aside and we are special. We are given a will and are intended to use it. Unlike the animals, our will can be used to do good or evil. Animals don’t have that privilege. With that privilege comes extraordinary joy and responsibility—a responsibility only possible through Jesus. Done with him it is with an ease far greater than that of the soaring flight of an eagle in the golden autumnal light, or no greater work than the play of a child by a stream in summertime.

But we will continue to do these sort of faithless acts, until we are shocked into submission. And then we will either be like John and lean into the breast of our beloved Jesus or like Legion and cast ourselves into the pigs.

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The Democracy of the Will

Posted by David

Any of our readers of this blog will notice that my dad (Mike) and I come from very different perspectives. But I must say, it’s been a great joy to blog with him on this site.

That said, I’ve been reading 2 Thessalonians. It’s a very interesting letter written by Paul warning the church to not to be deceived or be unsettled about the coming of the “man of lawlessness.” This is a particularly important letter for Christians today, because some churches are always looking for the antichrist and some are even being deceived by charasmatic cult of personality. Now, I do believe that man’s relationship with God will one day be restored and sin will be abolished from the earth. How that happens and when that occurs is not something we are not privy to and should not consume our thoughts. We are told to stand firm and pray “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” So, here’s the passage of interest to me recently:

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

2 Thessalonians 2: 1-4

What’s particularly interesting is the idea of the “rebellion.” What is the rebellion? Do we see it today? These days, whenever I seek to understand something from the scriptures deeply, I first look in myself,  my heart, my experience, and the things I know best (or think I know best). In my life, my times of rebellion have been when I have had unbridled freedom.

In our minds, we always have conflicting thoughts and choices (Mike wrote about that yesterday with regards to decision-making). At a conscious or unconscious level we weigh those choices and make a decision. What is important is how we make the choice. Sometimes we choose based on our moral standards. Sometimes we make the choice based on which part of our body or soul screams the loudest: stomach, groins, comfort, fears, instinct, etc. If our will chooses to go with the loudest, we can get ourselves in trouble. I’ll call this the democracy of the will.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter that much. I’m hungry, so I eat a meal. But if you’re anything like me, I’m sure you know where this has gone wrong at times in your life. But what does this have to do with the “rebellion” that Paul writes about? I’m coming to think that this rebellion is simply the political state we call democracy. A republic is just a modified form of democracy, but a democracy still. In a republic, the democratic process chooses leaders and the same process makes decisions in the congress or parliament. The only non-democratic part of our particular form of government is the president, but certainly he is subject to the democratic pressures of his advisors.

In the West this democratic process began with rebellion, and arguably, it began as early or earlier with the Renaissance and the Reformation. Only now are we seeing it sweep across the Middle East. Please don’t think that I think any other particular government is benign. They are all filled with injustice, because man and his cravings and powerlust is inherently unjust. Thus, all governments have differing aspects of injustice upon which they paw.

But democracy in general may be the final stage of the succession of types of government. The age of democracy and the period of human history it spreads before us is unique and may very well be the rebellion of which Paul warns us. The only worthy government is the Kingdom of Heaven with Christ as our King.

It reminds me of those who say that “Freedom has a price.” If just one innocent man, woman or child dies, if just one person is tortured for that kind of freedom, it’s not a freedom with which I wish to engage. That type of freedom and the democracy at its base is a deception. Freedom is an ideal that is only possible when the human will is bound to goodness and love. That day will come.

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The Revolution of Pi

Posted by David

A revolution is sweeping the Middle East and in other places in the world. Some are calling for a “Jasmine Revolution” in China. I call for a revolution in modern scientific thought: call it the Revolution of Pi. Science no longer seems to search for truth, but for supporting evidence to uphold false notions. Modern science has nested itself on a crumbling altar. The exact same data can also be nested on a different platform and a very different picture emerges.

I propose three new pillars in science. These were developed out of a challenge from my friend Lisbeth.

1) Types: pre-existence of types – Out of order, emerges order. Most modern scientific thought is based on the pillar chaos theory. It’s the way some scientists explain seeming-randomness without God. Out of that pillar you get, all sorts of misconceptions. Order cannot emerge out of chaos. In every community of organisms there is a directional evolution toward those types.

Pre-existence of types

Pre-existence of types

2) Circle: The circle is the fundamental structure of nature – Infinity does not exist in the natural world, and neither does the finite. Built like a circle, the universe is both infinite and finite and neither at the same time. The human mind can only conceive of this idea by understanding the nature of a circle.

The circle is the fundamental

The circle is the fundamental

3) Life: The fundamental state of matter is Life – Nothing in the natural world is dead or non-living. Everything we touch, see, feel has life. Entropy is a circular of a change of state. Ecology is the fundamental branch of science.

The fundamental state of matter is Life

The fundamental state of matter is Life

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The Pulling Force of Evolution

Posted by David

I broke the tip of my finger this week, which has limited my ability to type and has given me a new respect and compassion for those who are disabled in profound ways. My injury has also brought back the memory of a deer leg bone that I once found in a pinyon forest in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristos.

Little flesh remained on this deer leg, but the joints were still intact. It had all the normal number of bones, except the upper leg bone had an ‘extra joint’ which was a bit larger than a baseball. This was a mass of bone growth, hinging a bit, which had developed from a full fracture.

What was truly amazing was how both sides of the fracture had sent calcareous projections toward the other side, like two hands full of fingers grasping at each other. Since the deer had spent much time walking on the injury, the growth never made a full connection, so the mass of bone kept getting bigger and bigger.  How did it die? I can only guess that a mountain lion got it, since I couldn’t find the rest of the skeleton anywhere.

Bodies are truly given an amazing gift of healing, aren’t they?

This idea of growth mechanics being directional and having two sides is important. I think of evolution in particular (the mechanic of gravity also provides an example of another important misconception). In classic and neo-Darwinism, the driving force of evolution mechanics come from the bottom-up, i.e. random mutations and the ‘desire’ for survival in the individual. But not only does the mechanics, the force of evolution, come from a pressure from the bottom part of the equation, but it also comes from a pulling force from the top.  Evolution has both bottom-up and top-down force mechanics. Once side pushes, the other side pull. Traditional evolution seems to be only concerned with the bottom up pressure and disregards the pulling force from the top.

As the deer bone healed, there was growth from one end of the bone to the other. But there was also a pulling force that said in effect, “here I am, your mate, the other end of this bone onto which you must adhere.” The same is the case for the process and driving forces behind evolution.

There is a pulling force from the ‘top’ which says for the jaguar, for example, “Time to become a great forest cat.” Or in the case of a temperate montane forest, the pulling force says, “Time to become a forest of pointed, snow-shedding trees.” Then the genetics, creatures and communities of organisms below respond and evolve into those species characterized by those morphological traits. This is the greatly overlooked aspect of evolution. Evolution is a pulling force rather than a pushing force from below. There is a pushing force from below, but that’s not what drives species directionally into their particular morphology. The pushing force is simply what we call life.

Tragically, this component is overlooked in our high school textbooks. We overlook the Great Pulling Force in science, because that pulling force is the love of God. Modern science won’t accept that kind of force. On the other hand, oddly enough, it will accept ‘randomness’ as a force or ‘chaos’. This is because man does not wish to go toward that great pulling force. All other forms of life grow naturally toward that pulling force, but in the human’s ability to choose, a.k.a. our will, we responds by not growing into that great pulling force, but choose to grow into our own particular egocentric bubble. We grow inward rather than outward toward the pulling force. Jesus came to change our direction of growth.

I’m hoping for a speedy recovery in my finger, that those little filaments of bone are starting their journey across the great gap!

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess…Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Deuteronomy 30:15-20

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The Wave Begins

Posted by David

I am still overjoyed about what’s happening in the Middle East and North Africa as difficult as it is for those involved. What is giving me joy is that a curtain of fear is falling which is allowing people to do things they once thought impossible.

In the commentaries on Egypt, some are saying that what is happening is a plan spearheaded by Muslim extremists. Others suggest that the CIA and Mossad is behind this democratic revolution in hopes to ‘guide’ democratization of the Middle East. I could really care less who is behind it. All I see is hundreds and thousands of people who aren’t oppressed by fear, saying “No” to brutal regimes and using generally peaceful means, at least so far.

It is okay to say “No” to a bully. It is okay to tell him the truth of who they are. In fact, it’s our responsibility to do so if we are in relationship with him or her, as painful as the outcome may be. We must do so in love and in the hope of transformation, but only after we check our own heart to make sure we aren’t actually the bully at hand. 

However, the primary tactic of the bully is to pull you to his side by getting you to use his methods. He wants a fight from you. Then he can say to you and himself, “See you’re really no different from me, are you? Ha, I win.” The bully eggs you until you either submit in fear or your fight him, which is a win-win for the bully.

Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is the reason why when you fight the bully, no matter how hard you fight or how big your weapons, you always enter a perpetually unwinnable situation. You may think you have won, but that was only Round 1 or 2, etc. Or as was the case in WWII, we beat the Nazi bully, only to become something equally horrendous.

But when you are fearless of the bully, he has lost immediately, whether or not he crushes your mind, body or soul. There is only one other option: enslavement. If you fear him and submit to him, you are absorbed into him as his slave. If you fear him and fight him, then you become him through his means. You become slave to his methods, which is the same as being enslaved to him.

Now being fearless of the bully does not mean that you are required to not submit to him. This is one of the  most misunderstood principles: we can submit to someone and be free from his clutches. In fact, fearless submission is hated by the bully most of all. He despises it, because to him, fear is the power he lusts. The last thing he really wants to be near is you, because fearless submission is only possible through God’s love. Fearless submission is Jesus on the cross.

If he does not get that fear from you, he will move on to another victim or attempt to destroy you so you will not corrupt his next batch of prey. But because of Jesus and what he did at Calvary, I can’t be destroyed. This is the promise of the resurrection. So, fearless submission is the most powerful weapon we have. We must wield it for all the bullies that cross our path: family, friend and foe; government, principalities and authorities of all sorts. Not only is it transforming to us, but also potentially to the bully.

As simple as it sounds, yet when faced with a truly wretched, stunning, charming power which seeks to enslave us, as weak as we humans truly are, how can we be fearless under these conditions? There’s only one way: to know that there is One power higher and more awesome than all of the Universe; one truly to fear. Then all other powers and principalities become pathetic.

This is the wave that we see beginning in the Middle East. As food prices increase, as more people lose their jobs, and as the United States’ military might and WMD are seen to be the sham they truly are, this wave will ever increase across the globe. The giants will then topple one by one. Out of necessity they will consume each other, and one will be left whose destiny is the pit, but we must not fear even him while distancing ourselves from his charm.

Jesus will collect his sheep: the weak, the humble, the pathetic in the eyes of the bully and I pray that you and I both be listed as one of them. Let the wave begin!

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Romans 12:19-20

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