Sympathy

If you want sympathy, I have none for you. You should have known.

If you want commiseration for the consequences that come from your errors, I have none. You should have known.

If you want justification, I will not give you any. You should have known.

If you want an escape for this doomed zepplin, I have none. You should have known.

God calls us to act on principle, not on feeling, not on peer pressure, not on anything but the choices we have before us. Spin, wheedle, cry, complain, and self-justify — these are the voices of deception and the arias of worldly sorrow. Come away, come away from your soap opera lives and learn how to stand upright and not to bend with every passing wind. If you cannot be faithful in a little, how can you be faithful in much? Nations were lost due to the apostasy of the people — that is something history records again and again. Yes, there is a price for betraying truth. Yes, there are consequences to electing evil leaders. If you will not learn from Israel, and you will not learn from recent history, and you will not learn from all the years of your own life, when at last will you learn?

May we never be a people browbeat by fear nor whipsawed by emotion. Those are for lesser men. Surely the people who are called of Christ can make decisions that flow from spiritual discernment? If not, what value are you to God? Party away and sing worship songs and live like you never knew Him is no path to holiness. The plug will be pulled soon on all these Molechian sideshows of sin.

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It Is All Escaping

This election year has revealed the charlatans, the fakers, the posers, and the opportunists for who they are; it is disorienting and saddening to be a person of principle in a sea of milquetoast men and women, who salivate for the brass ring of fame, power, and money. I suppose it has always been so, but to see it – sweating, breathing, up close and personal – to see the madness animate the faces of people you know, to hear people shout their unwillingness to find the truth really has hit home.

Why do people behave that way? Why are they blind and intolerant and unwilling to reason or investigate?

I think it is because for most people, news is not an activity that involves thinking. It is something like a pep rally or a cult chant. They are not evaluating the material, but reacting to something they trust implicitly. They yell their frustration, shout their annoyance, or murmur a “Serves them right!” as a way of feeling like they are participating in politics. However, they are not affecting events at all. It is spectator participation – the way that the cheers from man watching golf on his TV set affects the man playing golf. And because this is ritualistic, because it is done at certain times of the day without fail, it has all the aspects of worship. So what sort of worship is this? Futile and hopeless, one that takes effort and energy to maintain while paralyzing you in place. You will rot in your chair. You will cocoon in your bed. Meanwhile the world continues on, unaffectedly dysfunctional.

Another interesting thing is that people who are in these bubbles do not interact well with those outside the bubble. Thus, people who get their news from TV – any sort of channel – process news differently than those who read. TV is a forced download, a wall-to-wall presentation of sound and shape that prevents escape. You can resist it, but you must mount an active defense. TV epitomizes the old maxim that the faster the feces are flung at you, the more of it looks trustworthy. I’ve found that I know more than TV hosts who spend their time addressing the latest events. Not only that, but I treat events with the seriousness they deserve, and don’t use them as slogans to whip up fervor among my troops. Political hosts cover problems the way that sportscasters cover games — all of the partisan hysterics with no faith or reason. Like sports announcers have favorite teams, so do political pundits. Like the way fans will wear jerseys and buy merchandise and support their team, they do the same with words and slogans. It is rare that you have someone in that position who actually advocates for a coherent set of principles and follows them. What you see instead are mouthbreathers and parasites to one degree or another. They are not to be trusted and not to be believed. Again, this election season has shown us whom among the pundit class has integrity, and who is willing to grant favorable coverage for some set of rewards.

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A Dim and Narrow Vision of God

Recently while surfing politics, I stumbled across a blog named “The Pulpit and Pen”. Their theology seemed sound at first, but I quickly discerned a real lack of warmth, grace, love, and simple kindness. It was all polemics all the time. Then I came across this article and it all made sense. I stopped reading halfway through because one sentence jumped out at me and seized me by the throat.

“But does God speak to us, or reveal things to us through any means other than Scripture? No.”

When I read this, I was saddened, for the article writer apparently hears from God (not audibly) only through Scripture. That means that he does not sense the Holy Spirit except through Scripture. He has no impression or sensation of God except through Scripture. God’s creation cannot speak to him, even though the Psalms clearly state that they do; even though that Romans states that God’s handiwork is made evident by his creation. So God, according to this writer, has constrained himself to speak only through this one book – granted that this one book is preeminent over all others. What a dim and narrow view of God! And I am speaking as an evangelical, Calvinist, Reformed, conservative Christian.

Why would anyone think this way? If God could not speak to us through his own handiwork, then the earth and its beauty is not a declaration of majesty, but just background, something needed to support life. This worldview reduces majesty to prop. It amputates the Holy Spirit. It denies the power of God in external signs or miracles. Again why?

These writers have fallen into the McArthurian heresy, which is believing that signs and wonders have ceased (a fatally flawed misreading of 1 Corinthians 13). Wherever the kingdom is advancing in power, you will see miracles, signs, and wonders from the hand of God. Speak to missionaries. You’ll see.

I am extremely grateful that God speaks to me through His word, and I am also extremely grateful that He speaks to me in situations that seem random to the unsaved, through the words of people, through His handiwork, through emotions, in sight, sound, dreams, and visions. And I am not proclaiming anything grande or novel. The same God who spoke to Joseph through a dream is the same God whom has saved me; He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and His wonders never cease! He is not a shelf deity, a microwave figurine, a spent force who can speak only through what has already been written and speaks in no other way.

What is worse than living in the corner of Christianity is declaring that everyone else must also come and crawl into a narrow and dark place, where you see more of the shadows than the light. It makes you cold, insensitive, and calloused. While it is necessary, even urgent, to correct false theology, if we speak truth WITHOUT love, then we are simply an object used in pagan worship. If we do that, we are not leading anyone from darkness to light. We are communicating nothing to the unbeliever except a fragile and fraught anxiety. All of life is not correction. We also need encouragement, fellowship, and agape. There is life and life to the full in Christ Jesus, but there is no life in a dim and narrow vision of God.

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Profanity in Christian Music

You might be surprised to find out that profanity has been a thing in Christian music for about ten years. What should not surprise you are its defenders and the reasons they employ. You will find the same kind of people wherever there is a compromise to be made, whenever holding up a standard is hard or exposes them to ridicule. They are the jellyfish swimming with the banner, “When in doubt, sell out.”

First, they shout about context. I wasn’t aware that there was a context that allows what Colossians 3:8 describes as “obscene talk from your mouth”. So, the argument from context is null and void.

Second, they claim that profanity is not cursing, and so it doesn’t count. This is a disingenuous point, for Scripture tells us to avoid both. For the former, again, we must not employ “obscene talk from your mouth.”

Third, you have the general principle – “the love of Christ constrains us”. Fundamentally, making Christian music is not about looking cool, being on stage, having skills, or anything else. It is about Christ. Therefore, He is preeminent and guides what we say and what we do. If you are a Christian and you make music, you are under the same sovereignty as any other Christian. You don’t get a golden ticket or a lanyard with a badge that gives you the right to speak like the sewer, sleep around, hate people, or do other ungodly things. I think here is where it really hits home. Musicians are not above other believers. They are not an exempt class of special people. No, you have to walk by the Spirit like the rest of us. You don’t have get to gratify your flesh because you have the gift of music.

Fourth is the argument that “this is against legalism”. One of the greatest teachers against legalism is Christ Himself, and look at the moral standard he set. Yes, none of us can live up to it unaided, but the idea that truth and behavior can be severed is one that He forever laid in the dust. He died for us and he sent the Holy Spirit – our strengthener and helper – to guide us into all truth. We are called to be holy. We are called to discard even the garment that is stained with the flesh (Jude 2:23). So, to be against legalism is to be as Christ – holy.

Before anyone accuses me of legalism, yes, I believe in mercy and forgiveness especially for those who are learning. Yes, we need to give encouragement and not condemnation our brothers and sisters. However, we are never called to abandon holiness to fit in with the dying. I see a lot of surrender of standards for the sake of popularity, for the sake of relevance, for the sake of impact – all of which reveal a fundamental failure of faith. Who steers the king’s heart where he wishes? Who knew us before we were born? Who put the stars in their paths and set the wells of the deep? God is in control; not us. It’s not upon us to be popular or to make it happen. We have to be faithful and He will work it out.

So we should be faithful and raise the standard high, and not adopt the moral standards of those who do not know God. If we do that, what separates us from the world? How does the world know we are different? Sacrificing our witness in order to be heard robs us of anything worth saying. This whole debacle is just another example of Christian music being too much about music and too little about Jesus.

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Why I Am Not a Wedding Photographer

While scoping out other photographers where I live, I realized that most of the time, people think of photographers with the prepending adjective “wedding”. I am not a wedding photographer. While I get the fact that people do want to have photos of this once-in-a-lifetime event, that isn’t my thing. Not only do I feel that I am providing squishy-pops for babies but that also I’m not up to the task of perfectly capturing strangers in the best way possible given that I don’t have million-dollar equipment or unlimited time. Either way, I would be the victim of someone else’s expectations. Could I live with myself if I did not create the best wedding photo shoot ever? I would have to, of course, but having that guilt follow me around for the slightest failure is not healthy. So torn between Scylla and Chardybis, I choose neither.

Photography, to me, is self-expression. It is another language, like C+, like PERL, like PHP, like Latin. It is a gift of presenting to the world what I, uniquely, can give. There are literally tons of wedding photographers – people who are willing to subject themselves to others’ expectations for money. There are not as many people who want to communicate visually, using the camera as a paintbrush.

I’d rather chose the lonely road, the road of screaming out the stark truths of what I have found. Let others hawk their boring wares for people seeking mementos of special times. To do that would corrode my soul.

And this is not a new feeling. I’ve always viewed photographers at events as being something like a nuisance mixed with a voyeur. How can I enjoy what’s happening around me if there’s some busybody clicking away? Do I dare crack a joke? Do I dare gesticulate? Do I dare eat a peach? At these times, recording devices inhibit life.

Part of it is also my discomfort at taking pictures of people and all the mess that entails. Do I need to get them to sign a waver? Am I stealing their privacy? Do I look like a pervert?

The latter is no idle speculation. Do I want to have burly angry guys running after me because I took a picture of that cute little girl in their family? Uh, no. Worse, do I want to look like a pedophile? And taking pictures of adults is just as problematic. I avoid taking pictures of women to avoid issues with lust and to keep my marriage in good working order. I don’t want to get into taking pictures of men. That would be creepy. So, there are some boundaries here that I’m completely comfortable with. Nature and architecture are endless subjects and are much more forgiving and communicative than people.

So while wedding photographers are necessary, and while special times deserve to be remembered (as long as every burp or fart isn’t a special time), that’s not my thing and I’m not your guy.

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Ruining Roleplaying

Sadly, human brokenness is much more apparent than it used to be, because now people are rewarded for confusing reality and imagination. Now people think nothing of claiming idiotic and insensible things like they actually are mermaids or witches. I’ve known people who were Wiccans and thought that they had spell books, and I’ve also had a passing knowledge of a woman who believed she was a witch.

This confusion of identity and role-playing infuriates me on so many levels. One, it takes what is great about LARP, RP, MMORPG, and that world, and makes it look childish and silly. You see, even the most lax DM had rules. Even the most forgiving online game allows you to die (or start over with a penalty). These people separate RP from rules and so they flounce about like the mentally ill. Thanks for nothing! Because you don’t understand the difference between fantasy and reality, don’t drag the rest of us down your drowning well! Fantasy is enjoyable because it is fantasy and it is safe; it is safe because it is bounded by rules, to some degree or another.

Two, it takes what is noble about role-playing and the aspirations to heroism, self-sacrifice, courage, and so on, and it overdramatizes them to the point of farce. No, your penny-ante problems with school are not the same thing as cutting the head off a dragon. Please grow up and stop making the whole world about you and your smelly little life! I can understand people being self-deprecatingly funny in this way, but I mean those who are serious, because they have so little concept of anyone but themselves. To these stupid prattlers, a hangnail is Hiroshima.

Three, it’s not real or even honest. These people will eventually grow up or move on to fantasizing about whatever is new today. They are trendoids or shallow souls who will find solace in whatever the excreta goddess of culture defecates out next. They didn’t really mean it. They may have emoted for a while, but it all is something that they used and now they’re using something else. Trendoids are like locusts, who devour everything in their path and only leave feces behind.

Stop trifling with great things that you neither understand nor appreciate.

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Actors are Whores

Hello, I am an actor. I wear clothes I did not buy, have other people arrange my appearance, and have another set of people tell me what I must say. I have trained myself to lie for a long time, so one set of words to say are as good as any others. In fact, by this time in my life, I’m pretty good at being convincing. Give me any words and I will say them like I mean them. Any words at all will do, as long as you’re paying.

And the money is great, but it’s really not everything. I need everyone to believe just what I believe. And what I believe is the same thing all my friends believe, because we get to do all the fun things in life. Yes, we work hard at being believable liars, but after that, we can party all night and sleep with whomever we want, act however we want, and even do things other people can’t do. People even follow us around and want to be like us. Why shouldn’t they? Our lives are so much better than theirs. We’re gods and they believe in us.

We are a better class of people than they are, even if we’re not really all that happy. I’m on my third marriage and I have two kids I hardly ever see, but there’s a new script I’m working on that will make everything all right.

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