Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Here is a barn swallow. The picture is fuzzy because of the speed of the bird, but you can still see the distinctive swallow tail, and some of the white highlights in his tail feathers. I enjoy watching these birds because of their highly aerobatic flights. They will zip in and out and around man-made structures with ease.

A couple of decades ago, I was birding alongside a pond in California when I noticed these birds doing mid-air stalls, followed by a flip turn and flight back in the direction they came from. In my mind I visualized the perfect picture this would provide as the bird stopped in mid-air for a fraction of a second with his feathers on both, wings and tail, spread fully apart showing the details most birders only get slight glimpses of. Unfortunately, this was before the age of digital cameras and it was impractical to keep trying to get the picture given the cost of film and developing after the first few failures.

A mid-air stall is when the bird turns to fly straight up, without flapping or continuing to propel himself forward. Pretty soon gravity overpowers momentum and the bird begins to fall backward. This is when he would effortlessly flip himself, flying back in the direction he came from.

There is that brief moment when gravity and flight are at odds with each other over the fate of the swallow. For just the briefest of moments it looks like gravity is going to win, but very quickly the truth is revealed. Gravity might have had a plan. It might have built up its own hopes of sending the bird splashing into the pond below. Those hopes were futile. The truth is, even when gravity was on the verge of defeating the bird, it was unknowingly serving the bird and its planned flight.

So it is with Christ in the crucifixion. Satan, sin and death all thought for a moment they were going to overwhelm God and His Son. They hoped to see His pathetic attachment to lowly humans to become His downfall. Since He was foolish enough to take on their weak and decaying flesh, they would use this loving choice against Him. Crucifixion was accomplished. Satan’s victory seemed to be assured.

Then came the resurrection, and the realization that Satan’s schemes served God’s will. It was our victory, not the devil’s, that was secured.

When this corruptible is clothed
with incorruptibility,
and this mortal is clothed
with immortality,
then the saying that is written will take place:
Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Death, where is your victory?
Death, where is your sting?
Now the sting of death is sin,
and the power of sine is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our  Lord Jesus  Christ!

1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (HCSB)

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A Philosophy of Definition

A good theologian will need a philosophy of definition. This philosophy will guide how they use words and the choices as to how they define words. A good philosophy of definition will make the goal for the use of words to be communication, rather than persuasion and certainly never deception.

Even so, theology has a lot of specialized word usage which can muddy the waters of communication. Every field of study does. This type of specialized definition is necessary when the depth of inquiry requires very specific and subtle, differences in similar concepts. This type of very specific definition to words that otherwise have broader meanings requires the careful clarification of the speaker to be sure the hearer understands.

Using definitions of words which purposefully mislead the hearer is a form of dishonesty. This is pretty obvious for most people, but for others it is a point of opportunity. One of the unfortunate developments in theology is people defining common terms, historically well-defined terms, and giving them a new meaning as a means of proclaiming their new ideas to be in line with traditional concepts. This redefinition may be a means of gaining acceptance, or it may be an attempt to change the hearer’s perception of truth.

The situation is much like a scene I saw in a comedy sketch. A man asks a woman to marry him. She excitedly agrees. Then when she tries to set up the wedding he explains he had a more minimalistic definition of a wedding. His definition didn’t include a public ceremony, flowers, dress, reception, legal document, or commitment. But it did include a honeymoon, he pitched in hopefully. Of course, the young lady was less than agreeable to this redefinition.

Political Caricatures

Politicians have a difficult road to travel. The average voter wants assurances from the candidate that they will behave in office in certain ways. For example, a prolife voter wants him to vote in opposition to abortion. A Second Amendment voter will want him to vote against gun control.

This causes the candidate to affirm his position for them, generally in strong terms. The stronger the better, and without reference to any specifics that might muddy the water. Pretty soon the candidate begins to look like a caricature.

Just like a cartoonist might draw Richard Nixon as having a big nose, or Barack Obama as having large ears, a politician’s platform begins to look like a caricature. Bernie Sanders appears to be a caricature of a socialist giving away your property to the less fortunate and Donald Trump embodies a caricature of conservative politics sitting atop his border fence with a shotgun on his hip, keeping out illegals but bringing back jobs.

These strong characterizations might be useful on Election Day, but it will always create disappointment after the election. Politicians must become real people sooner or later. Real people must negotiate, compromise, and choose when and where to draw the line on compromise. Without these skills we will continue to have deadlock in government.

I suggest voters take the first steps to break these stalemates by refusing to be aligned with the unwavering inhumanity of the political caricatures.

Daniel Jefferson in King Hazardous’s Court

Daniel Jefferson was one of the captives taken from Salem 7 when Babel conquered the gamma sector of space.

Many of his compatriots hated their captors, but he held no anger. He had been raised in the royal palace, given the best of education, food, and comforts. He simply accepted his circumstances as what was.

Found to be intelligent and wise, he had been given every advantage, including free access to any documents or educational materials. They were grooming him to be an advisor to King Hazardous. He purposefully looked up the sacred Scriptures of his homeland, and he found them inspired.

Daniel learned that it was the God of his forefathers that had given him the wisdom. He learned to deeply love and trust God.

He also learned to fear his king. He had watched the group of advisors shrink. Many were executed for bad advice or upsetting the king. One was launched into open space without a pressure suit because he wore a color that displeased the king.

Daniel was not looking forward to the day he would begin his service, but God reassured him, telling him there was a reason why he had been placed there.

The royal armada was driven deeper into uncharted space as the king sought new peoples to conquer. Months without any new discoveries had made the king edgy. He wanted his advisors to show him which way to turn, and when they failed they were dispatched and Daniel was in the group of replacements.

God told Daniel He was about to judge the king. It would start when Daniel proclaimed the kings impending defeat and death.

When asked for counsel some in the group stepped back. Others stood silent. Daniel took a deep breath, stepped forward, and started to speak.

 

I wrote this story a while back but chose to put it here for “Fun Friday”.  Can you recognize the story?  I have been writing considerably less lately, but as always hope to get back to it again.