Monthly Archives: November 2010

The True Spirit of Thanksgiving: Killing as Many Turkeys as Possible Before They Enslave Our Minds

Yes, my friends, it is that time once again. The time of year when we as Americans reaffirm our commitment to resist the insidious influence of that most malevolent of birds: the turkey.

In ancient times, turkeys and men were allies, indeed nearly brothers. The two peoples taught each other many things while their friendship lasted. At the peak of their alliance, both man and turkey reached new technological heights: with the help of mankind, turkeys harnessed (albeit for a brief time) the power of flight. In return, the turkeys taught men how to create a mysterious and explosive concoction that we know today as gunpowder.

It was a decision which would haunt the turkeys forever.

The first breach in the man-turkey alliance occurred shortly before the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War. Christendom’s princes and lords competed for the support of Turkeydom, but the leaders of the turkeys were non-committal. The impatience of mankind’s kings grew great, and they urged the Vatican to lay down a decree of interdict against the turkey people. Despite the fact that the turkeys had no souls which could be threatened by hellfire, the turkeys understood immediately the damage this would do to their reputation with humans.

Scholars disagree who struck first, but the ensuing Human-Turkey Wars were terrible indeed. Both sides committed atrocities, but it was the turkeys who invented the horrendous method of execution known as “death of a thousand pecks.” In response, humans adopted on a large scale the practice of roasting and eating captured turkeys. So delicious were the turkeys that many troops were known to raid turkey towns, carrying off all the inhabitants. Desperate, the turkeys decided as a people to use their advanced bioengineering technology to alter their genetic makeup, adding a chemical to their flesh which would make any who ate of it drowsy. Alas, it was not enough to halt the ravenous horde.

Thus, it was through their stomachs, rather than strength of arms that man was victorious. The turkeys, their numbers severely depleted, abandoned their elegant cities and lived as savages deep in forests.

In the centuries since, turkeys have seldom emerged from hiding to harass their conquerors. As time passed and as turkeys left European shores, many forgot what had occurred between men and turkeys. However, in those places that turkeys still dwelt, some yet believed that they retained their scientific and technological knowledge and remained a significant threat to mankind. Upon reaching America’s shores, the Pilgrims were made aware of these dangers by the Indian tribes they met. In this way, Thanksgiving began—as a pledge by mankind to resist the turkey threat and as a sign to the turkeys everywhere: that men will be ever vigilant.

So remember this story as you eat the flesh of our mortal foe. Keep your commitment to fight the turkey strong, lest we grow weak and they prevail. You are either with us, or with the turkeys.


Pelicans are Neat

Yes, yes they are. Pictures you see in the header of my blog have all been taken by Penny Hoey, otherwise known as “Mom.” Check out her site at: http://pennyhoeyphotography.com

Anyway, enjoy the peaceful nature and wildlife scenes that will be displayed at the top of my page. Also, I’m hoping to soon have some pictures of TSA groping people, but so far Mom doesn’t seem too interested in taking pictures of that. I keep telling it’s for the sake of the Republic.


Entirely Reasonable

I often think about what all could be done with the amazing technology we possess today. And, invariably, I then think about how I would abuse that technology if I worked for a shadowy government agency. I think my most frequent abuse would be to obtain the cell phone number of whoever happens to be driving too slow in the fast lane. That way, I could call them and ask them personally to either drive faster, or change lanes. And then I would erase their identity and have their friends and family entered into TSA’s no fly list. So I suppose what I’m saying is that shadowy government agencies probably wouldn’t get my A game if I worked for them.


A Nearly Perfect Technology

“A nearly perfect technology.” That’s how former Barnes & Noble CEO Steve Riggio once referred to the printed book. The statement came a few years ago, in response to questions about whether Barnes & Noble had any plans to get into the eBook business. Riggio asserted that B&N had no concrete plans to do so. Obviously with the 2009 release of nook, B&N has taken the plunge in to the eBook industry, but that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t right about the value of printed books.

Plenty of people seem to think that eBooks are the way of the future, and they’re certainly opening up new worlds, but I think reports of the death of the printed book are a bit premature. Comparisons are made to the digital revolution of the music industry, but they seem overblown. Online music and file-sharing solved a very basic problem that had been building in the music business: people were tired of paying $17 for two good songs, and ten poor ones.

What problems do eBooks solve?

It seems to me that there are only really two: storage, and portability. But most people who have personal libraries love their shelves of books, and it isn’t that hard to take books with you when you travel. These problems aren’t necessarily problems at all, so it’s hard to see eBooks as presenting a solution to anything substantial.

Of course, eBooks are cheaper, but that’s a problem in itself–digital books mean that tens of thousands of employees in the printing business are no longer necessary, and it also means much smaller checks to authors. eBooks may introduce as many problems as they solve. Of course, they are the long-awaited answer to lowering textbook costs, but that’s a fraction of the book market.

I think Steve Riggio was right–books are as close to a perfect technology as you can get: they’re portable, durable, relatively cheap, and everyone loves them. eBooks will certainly revolutionize the book industry, but I don’t see the printed book going away anytime soon. Unlike, say, newspapers.


Publication

A quick note–I’ve been published in Liberty University’s online graduate journal, Eleutheria. It’s a chapter from my infinitely interesting masters thesis, so read at your own risk.

In all honesty, though, Alessandro Valignano was an extremely unique and fascinating man. There is a lot we can learn from him about the importance of respect for foreign cultures when attempting to spread the Gospel. Enjoy.

http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/eleu/


Tim Keller’s Generous Justice

Tim Keller has a new book out, called Generous Justice. I enjoy Keller immensely, and I’m particularly excited about this book. In my experience, Christian books on justice, poverty, and social issues in general tend to go like this:

Pious Author: Poverty is bad!

Reader (Me): Yes. Yes, that is true. But I’m not aware that anyone actually disagrees with you on that. The issue isn’t whether we should help the poor, the issue is how do we do it while avoiding endless, corrupting welfare on the one hand, and callous indifference on the other. So what I want to know is, what do you think we as the people of God should do about it?

Pious Author: ….Poverty is bad!

And that’s how those books tend to go. I am tired of hearing about how I am too fat, too rich, too lazy, and too white. These sorts of authors deplore all the things I have earned or been given by God, and contend that I need to rid myself of such sinful wealth. Of course, if I’m giving my sinful wealth to the poor, doesn’t that eventually lead to me becoming poor and the poor becoming… well, rich, fat, and lazy? They don’t (can’t?) answer that, but I think Keller has a better approach.

Keller is that rarest of all creatures–a conservative preacher that I am completely comfortable recommending to believers and atheists alike. There are others like him (I happen to work at a church with several), but far too few. Keller is brilliant, literary, well-spoken, and thoughtful. I’ve seen video of him speaking to college crowds, and they have a remarkable respect for the man. Christian pastors are not always welcome at college campuses, but Keller has a knack for breaking down preconceived notions wherever he goes.

It’s my respect for his thought and for him as a person that makes me think that he will be able to write something on social justice that is finally worth reading. I’ll let you know when I finish it, but I’m expecting great things.


Martin Luther Discovers Blogging

Yesterday was Reformation Day, but I can understand if you didn’t celebrate. Most people have no idea what I’m talking about when I mention it, though they should. On October 31, 1517, an Augustinian monk approached the door of Wittenberg’s All Saints Church and nailed his 95 Theses to it. He wasn’t the first person to nail something to church doors–the practice was fairly common at the time. But this monk’s tract stood out and with remarkable speed, was printed all across western Europe. Yes, Martin Luther’s first blog post went viral.

Luther’s ideas weren’t entirely new, but his act was indispensable to the Reformation that followed. One of my friends posted on their Facebook wall yesterday, “If you can read the Bible in your own language” then you should be celebrating Reformation Day. Others living at the time had tried to promote the idea of translating the Bible into the language of the people–and were often killed for it–but Luther did it. Without the killing, of course. Others had wanted reformation, but Luther was the spark that ignited Europe and made Reformation (with a capital ‘R’) a reality.

The debate over having the Bible in a language that common people could read was more complex than we give it credit for. Some Catholic priests were genuinely concerned about the possibility of heresy. “If anyone can read the Bible, then think of all the horrible things they can use it for, or all the wrong ways they can interpret it!” That was the argument, and they weren’t wrong. The Bible is used all the time by people who seem to have never actually read it. Yes, it would be much safer if only priests could read the Bible. What was ironic about their argument was that many of the Catholic clergy couldn’t read Latin either. They knew enough to get through a Mass, but that was pretty much it. That wasn’t true for all of them, but enough to have made it more than a little ridiculous. Talk about the blind leading the blind.

We don’t really appreciate the role the Reformation plays in our lives, but since this is the eve of Election 2o10, let me put it like this: the Reformation made America possible. No, really. See, the Reformation, among other things, emphasized the importance of the individual and his ability to interpret Scripture and communicate with God. The natural resistance to an entrenched and oppressive authority (Rome in their case) is still a dominant feature of America’s culture. And the emphasis on the freedom of religion has roots in the Reformation, which traveled to England. There, through the questionable influence of Henry VIII, the Reformation assumed an English nature, which would have massive consequences for colonists in the New World. In his extensive and extraordinary A Religious History of the American People, Sydney Ahlstrom actually begins his book with an extensive study of the Reformation. American religious life is impossible to understand without the Reformation.

So if your Bible is in English, if you are free to interpret it by relying solely on the guidance of God, and if you live in a country founded on principles of liberty, personal integrity, and devotion to God, perhaps October 31 should take on a new meaning for you.