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Tidbits – April 2022

Treasure your parents, pastors, and good teachers

  • “You don’t live long enough to learn from experience.” – Jewish proverb
  • “We frequently know more, not because we have moved ahead by our own natural ability, but because we are supported by the mental strength of others, and possess riches that we have inherited from our forefathers. Bernard of Chartres used to compare us to puny dwarfs perched on the shoulders of giants. He pointed out that we see more and farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature.” – John of Salisbury

Against a mob mentality

In a recent conversation on the Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson podcast, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel might this interesting observation on a crowd’s wisdom:

THIEL: I think the Judeo-Christian [perspective] is always extremely skeptical. For a biblical scholar I would ask the question, is there a single incidence in which the unanimity of the crowd is right? I think it’s always wrong. Joseph is right, his brothers are wrong. The Tower of Babel – everybody, the global crowd is completely wrong. Christ is abandoned…

ROBINSON: Pilate begs the crowd for Christ to be freed…

THIEL: The crowd always gets it wrong. So somehow reason tells to believe in the wisdom of the crowds, Revelation tells us to be skeptical.

Thiel argues there is good reason to question the prevailing narrative. But can we think of a time in the Bible when the crowd was right? The only example that comes to my mind is that many shouted “Hosanna” for Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem in Mark 11… though it was only a short time later that the crowd was shouting for Jesus’ death. So, the case for skepticism remains, but it’s worth noting that the crowd isn’t so reliably wrong that we can just automatically go with the opposite of what they’re shouting. It’s also worth noting that God does speak to the wisdom of consulting others (Prov. 11:14, 12:15, 15:22, etc.). But with what we know about Man’s rebellious heart, we shouldn’t expect wisdom from the mob.

The Church and the coming Metaverse…

Many of us worship in churches with limited technology: Bibles in the pews, rather than the text projected overhead, and not a fog machine to be seen. But even our churches haven’t escaped the impact of technology. as Ian Harber and Patrick Miller explain in a recent article:

“Henry Ford didn’t set out to create megachurches. But before the advent of the personal vehicle, most Christians seeking a church faced a simple denominational decision: do you attend the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, or Catholic church around the corner? With a vehicle, Christians could suddenly attend whichever church had the best children’s ministry programming, youth activities, and rock ’n’ roll Sunday morning worship – as long as it was within 10 to 30 minutes of driving. We became consumers because we could be consumers.”

They were urging the Church to get ready for the Metaverse – the online world that Facebook is trying to create – but also noted we have some time, as it is probably years away from really coming together. But, like the car, the Internet, and the smartphone before it, this new tech will probably present us with both new opportunities, and new temptations to deal with.

English oddities

In her book Highly Irregular, Arika Okrent shares a 140-year-old poem that deserves to be remembered today. I saw a version of it titled somewhere as: “I wrote it in my jolonel”:

“There was a brave soldier, a Colonel,
Who swore in a way most infolonel;
But he never once thought
As a Christian man ought
He imperiled his own life etolonel.”

SOURCE: Arika Okrent’s Highly Irregular: Why Tough, Through, and Dough Don’t Rhyme and other oddities of the English Language (H/T Douglas Wilson) 

First-date questions

In Dating with Discernment, author Sam Andreades has an appendix full of 40 “first date questions.” He offers them as a way to calm the nerves, if you can’t think of something to talk about, so many of them are lighthearted: What animals would you like to be? SciFi or RomCom? Deep down, do you think Pluto should be recognized as a planet?

But he includes others that could be categorized as “time savers.” There are issues that divide us, and if your date thinks one way, and you know it has to be the other, you might be able to save you both a lot of time by finding that out quickly. That doesn’t mean the question can’t still be fun. It just means it isn’t just fun. So here are a few of his more pointed queries:

  • Tell me about your family? Are you close with them?
  • What is the most wonderful feeling in the world for you?
  • What is the biggest need you see in the Church?
  • What was a time when you couldn’t stop laughing?
  • Can Christians believe in aliens?
  • When is Jesus coming back?
  • What was the subject of your last prayer?
  • What do you think God has been trying to teach you recently? Are you learning it?

Women in combat

“Here’s the problem: in opening combat roles to women, we send out messages to both sexes that are either untrue, offensive or both. We are telling women that they are functionally equal to men, which everyone knows is false. And we’re telling men that the social goal of gender neutrality is more important than their own security, which is offensive and demoralizing.”

– Barbara Kay

Cheesy Jokes

  • Edam is the only type of cheese that is made backward
  • Never believe what your cheese is saying when it’s too gouda to be true!
  • What did the photographer tell the Monterey Jack? “Say ‘People’!”
  • What did the Mozzarella say when someone threw tomato sauce at him? “You wanna pizza me?”

Train up your kids in the Internet usage they should follow

“You need to put off foolishness and embrace responsibility. Today we are handing our children power tools and then acting shocked when they cut off their hands. This is absurd, and we should expect that our children will make serious mistakes if we do not guide them. So parent, you don’t need only to educate yourself, but also your children. You need to have a plan for introducing new technologies to your children and for monitoring them as they use them. This is your responsibility – the responsibility of having a plan.”
– Tim Challies, “Parenting well in a digital world

Forgiving vs. excusing

I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality…asking Him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says ‘Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology. I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.’ But excusing says ‘I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it; you weren’t really to blame.’ If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive. In that sense, forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites….When it comes to a question of our forgiving other people, it is partly the same and partly different. It is the same because, here also, forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that there was really no cheating or no bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive. They keep on replying, But I tell you the man broke a most solemn promise.” Exactly: that is precisely what you have to forgive. (This doesnt mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart – every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking Gods forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other peoples we do not accept them easily enough.”

– C.S. Lewis  The Weight of Glory

10 tips to make your life (or the world!) better

On Jan. 1, 2000, and then again on the first day of 2022, the British paper The Guardian, published an article with 100 tips on “improving your life” or “making the world a better place.” Out of those 200 offerings, here’s a Top 10:

  1. On the fence about a purchase? Wait 72 hours before you buy it.
  2. Keep a book in your bag to avoid the temptation to doomscroll.
  3. Nap.
  4. Keep your keys in the same place.
  5. Be polite to rude strangers – it’s oddly thrilling.
  6. Don’t be weird about how to stack the dishwasher.
  7. If you buy something from a charity shop, consider paying double.
  8. Stop yourself saying “I.”
  9. Volunteer at your church or Christian school
  10. Paint the outside of your house for the pleasure of those walking past (not just the inside for you).

Up Next


In a Nutshell

Tidbits – March 2022

Junior knows best? In a recent review, Roman Catholic film critic Steven D. Greydanus argues that we’re seeing an expansion of the old doofus/domineering dad cliché to now include moms too. Pixar’s new Turning Red is the latest example of an increasing shift to overbearing maternal figures, from young Mirabel’s and Miguel’s domineering abuelas in Encanto and Coco to middle-aged Joe Gardner’s loving but controlling mom in Soul. Antecedents for this trend of mothers as functional antagonists include Merida’s demanding mother Queen Elinor in Brave and Tangled’s actually villainous Mother Gothel…. In Turning Red, Meilin “Mei Mei” Lee, a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl living in Toronto in 2002, comes from a long line of tightly controlled and controlling maternal figures, including her tiger mom Ming and her grandmother as well as a half dozen aunts. When both parents are portrayed as problems to overcome rather than guides to turn to, this leads to what Greydanus calls the “Junior knows best” trope: the kid himself is the smartest person in the room. Don’t confuse this with the dead or otherwise absent parents trend that’s also common on the screen and in many a kid’s book – that exists only because if parents aren’t absent, they’d deal with the danger themselves, and the children wouldn’t even have an adventure. There’s a difference between a kid relying on his own smarts because missing parents leave him with no other option, and a child relying on himself because his parents are idiots. If you spot a “Junior knows best” moment, why not hit the pause button and discuss it with your children? You can ask them to look up Proverbs 1:8 – “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” – and flip to Isaiah 3 too, which in verse 4 talks of God cursing Jerusalem and Judah by placing children in leadership positions. Spell out for them the difference between what this film is preaching and what God says.  The call to pro-life witness Deut. 21:1-9 has interesting implications for us today. Here God gives instructions for what to do when a murder victim is found in a field, and no one knows who did it. Then the elders of the nearest town are supposed to come, sacrifice a heifer, and declare they had nothing to do with it. With this sacrifice and public declaration, they then would have “purged from yourselves the guilt of shedding innocent blood…” What relevance might that have for Christians today? Confronted as we are, with 200+ legally sanctioned murders per day in Canada, could we understand the principle behind this text as being an encouragement – a call even – for us to publicly dissociate ourselves from our nation’s abortion guilt? Were we to publicly declare that we have no part in these unborn children’s deaths, we would uphold the wickedness of this crime, and ensure that it is not normalized or ignored as inconsequential. How can we make such a public pro-life witness? In addition to public protests – flag displays like ARPA Canada has done, or March for Life events – we can also buy or make pro-life t-shirts, using slogans like: Fetus is not a species…” – Albany Rose Every unwanted child a dead child. Doesn’t sound so nice anymore, does it? Former fetus If you don’t believe in miracles, perhaps you’ve forgotten you are one. My size does not affect my worth Abortion is the death penalty for someone else’s actions I will shut up about abortion when it has been abolished I have my own DNA – I’m a person Speak for the weak If abortion isn’t wrong, then nothing is wrong Did you get all your deductions? In a 2012 article, Christian economist Gary North wrote about just how complicated the US tax was already then 4 times the length of all Shakespeare’s works combined, and US taxpayers were spending 7.6 billion hours complying with federal tax requirements (that doesn’t even include the hours needed to fulfill state requirements). And even the experts couldn’t agree on how to understanded it: “Our tax system has become so complicated that it is almost impossible to file your taxes correctly.  For example, back in 1998 Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals complete a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All 46 of them came up with a different result…. In 2009, PC World had five of the most popular tax preparation software websites prepare a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All five of them came up with a different result.” As of 2016, Canada’s tax code has only just over a million words, which, at a quarter of the US length, might seem downright simplistic. But, the country’s auditor general found that it was too complicated for even the Canada Revenue Agency, which was giving the wrong answer to queries from the public 30 percent of the time. Only Earth has rainbows Life on Earth requires a lot of “fine tuning,” with our planet just the right distance from the Sun to allow freezing and melting, and the planetary axis tilted just so for seasons, a moon for tides to circulate and cleanse shores and oceans, an atmosphere to distribute heat (otherwise the sun-side would cook as the night-side froze), and a magnetic field that contributes to our protection from harmful solar radiation. That all these needs were met (and many more) is all a big coninkydink for evolutionists – we just lucked out and got exactly what we needed. But we didn’t need rainbows. And yet, as Guillermo Gonzalez recently noted, we’re on the only planet in the Solar System to get them. What’s needed for a rainbow is: “suspended water droplets in the atmosphere and the direct sunlight that results from the sun being between the horizon and 42 degrees altitude. This typically occurs just after a thunderstorm has passed and small droplets are still in the atmosphere, and the sky is clearing in front of the sun. Seems like a simple setup. This must be a common phenomenon in the cosmos, right?” But it isn’t so simple. Our moon doesn’t have the atmosphere. Mars doesn’t have the moisture. Venus has too thick an atmosphere and as we head further out, the other planets don’t have liquid water. So the only planet to have rainbows is the only one with people on it to see them. To evolutionists that’s just one more coinkydink. To God’s people, just another example of His love and care. (For another fun "coininkydink" check out this article on how we're the only planet with a moon just the right size to allow us to study the sun). Puntastic The editing tool Grammarly regularly passes on puns and other wordplay jokes. Here’s a few of their best, with few thrown in from the Indian Hills Community Sign too: It’s hard to explain puns to kleptomaniacs, because they always take things literally I was walking past a farm, and a sign read: “Duck, eggs!” I thought, “That’s an unnecessary comma.” Then it hit me. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. A word in this sentence is misspelled. I have an irrational fear of overly intricate clusters of commercial buildings. It’s a complex complex complex. Irony is the opposite of wrinkly Puns about communism aren’t funny unless everyone gets them. To be frank I’d have to change my name. What do you give a man who has everything? Antibiotics! It’s only rock and roll “It's so funny being a Christian musician. It always scares me when people think so highly of Christian music, Contemporary Christian music especially. Because I kinda go, I know a lot of us, and we don't know jack about anything. Not that I don't want you to buy our records and come to our concerts. I sure do. But you should come for entertainment. If you really want spiritual nourishment, you should go to church...you should read the Scriptures.” - Rich Mullins , July 19, 1997 Sass, or not sass? by Sharon L. Bratcher How do you talk to your children? Do you always speak to these little Image-bearers as you, yourself would like to be spoken to? Recently an acquaintance told me about how he often tells his 5-year-old, "Hurry up, we have to go, I can't wait all day." Then, the other day as his wife was changing their 3-year-old, the child said, "I can't wait all day." We both laughed, and the dad said something about his child's “sass.” But was it really sass? I don’t think it was. The child had learned from his father what to say when he is impatient and wants to move along to another activity. Was it sass when the dad said it to his 5-year-old? If not, then it wasn't sass when his child copied him. How could a little child even know it wasn't something that ought to be said? If we don't want them saying certain words or phrases anymore, then we must stop doing it ourselves. As in this case, it really wasn’t accomplishing the dad’s desired goal anyway! It’s too easy to rationalize showing disrespect to our own children. We might assume that they won’t even catch it, but eventually they will. And then we’ll hear them sounding just like us. Stress reliever Before I overhype this tip, I’ll note that while it does seem to work for everyone, that isn’t to say it does a lot for everyone. Still, a little relief is better than none, right? This is from Andrew Huberman, billed as a “Stanford Neuroscientist” during an appearance on the Kevin Rose podcast. “This is the fastest way that I’m aware of that’s anchored in real known biology to calm oneself down and the cool thing is it works the first time, and it works every time, and it takes about a second…. It’s an inhale through the nose, and then it’s another inhale at the top, and then a long exhale. That’s the fastest way to slower your heart and calm down.” Just a breath in, and before you exhale, another breath in – a “double inhale” – then a slow exhale. I’ve tried it, and found it helpful, and instantly, though, of course, only partially. Still, a nice tool to have in the toolbox when the going gets tough. A better way of getting rich “Prior to capitalism, the way people amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering and enslaving their fellow man. Capitalism made it possible to become wealthy by serving your fellow man.” – Walter E. Williams (1936-2020)...


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