Stuff from last week

I haven’t been posting much recently, partly due to time and partly due to disinclination, but last week a came across a few things I found interesting, that I thought I’d share. The plan was for it to go up on Friday, but the Monday Morning Wife and I had our 10th Anniversary and I got distracted.

Russell Moore spoke on The Gospel Coalition Podcast about the obstacles of religious liberty. Depending on your perspective, it’s not what you think. I thought the points he makes about us looking too much for the government to help us and enforce our view of morality were really good; though he does fail to note the painful irony that some of the biggest pushers for ‘religious liberty’ and government enforced morality are often the most ardent anti-government.

Somewhat related, Theocast talks about losing a generation at church. I’m less concerned than most people, though probably not concerned enough, because I think it is inevitable. We were never a ‘Christian Nation’, whatever that means, but for the most of our history, we’ve been a solidly Christian culture, but we aren’t any more. This means we are shedding some of the cultural only hanger’s on. I guess I should care more, but I don’t.

The other thing that stuck out to me about this particular episode was the lack of political honesty. There is one quick mention/jab about not agree with ‘they younger people’ and their politics, but no real discussion about the impact politics has played on losing more and more young people. When I was growing up, Monica Lewinsky was the worst thing ever, a national moral tragedy. Many of the same people publicly deriding Clinton are now, 20 years later, some of the most vocal supporters of Trump. A democrat being immoral is cause for massive public outcry, but these people really don’t seem to give a shit how many hookers and pornstars a republican bangs. All these leaders have traded in the Gospel of Christ of the promise of power from Christian Nationalism, and we are the lost generation?

I could go on and on about this, because it pisses me off so, but if the ‘church’ keeps acting like questioning the Moral Majority or St. Ronnie is blasphemy, and cannot have adult conversations about political issues such as healthcare, minimum wage, income inequality, etc. without resorting to beating up tired old strawmen or just screaming ‘socialism’, we are going hemorrhage anyone under 65 faster than we can imagine.

Speaking of being somewhat bad with economics, I started a new book – Practicing the King’s Economy: Honoring Jesus in How We Work, Earn, Spend, Save, and Give
It seems really good so far, except they seem to think per capita GDP is useful measure, confuse mean for median, don’t accurately represent inflation, and ignore income inequality. I guess this isn’t surprising, because those things tend to get political, and they state at the beginning, they don’t want to do that, for, you know…reasons. Anyway from a Biblical prospective, it is pretty interesting so far, especially the focus on community.

I haven’t written many reviews lately because I’m still trying to power through this – 50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith: A Guide to Understanding and Teaching Theology I’m a big fan of theology, and the part where he gets rolling are really good, but it is slow going as it is a bit repetitive, a little redundant, and well, over 400 pages.

Lastly for books, I read Notes From the Underground, which is really interesting, but I have this copy – Notes From Underground And The Grand Inquisitor. I recommend against this as the second half of the books is an excerpt from The Brothers Karamazov (Everyman’s Library), which I already own.

Finally, you may have seen that we moved our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. There is plenty written out there about the political consequences of this, but I found this article from a Catholic viewpoint to be interesting. If you didn’t grow up in the dispensational work, or studied your way out, Christian Zionism can seem really odd, so I appreciate the view from someone else.

That’s all for now, hopefully, I’ll have some reviews up soon.

10 Year Anniversary

I don’t typically post personal things, especially pictures or anything that could constitute ‘social media’, that’s not the point of a pretend theologian. However, today is actually my 10 Anniversary. Look at these young, sexy, jackasses:

There is a lot I could say here about the ups and downs of marriage; the struggles and blessings; expectations vs. realities; or even about marrying the greatest woman I know, but I’m going to take a hard pass on all that and just post the pictures. We dropped Sprout off with my parents today, to have a couple day staycation alone, and my parents live on the same street as the wedding venture in which we were married. So, after dropping her off, we swung by and took a picture in front of the alter.

The day we were married 10 years ago was a pretty, picture perfect day of 73 degrees, sunny, and probably only 60% humidity or so.  Today was hot and rainy and we didn’t really think ahead to dress up or anything, but here we are:

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Mrs. MMT is beautiful as always, and I look basically the same as 10 years ago, just older and fatter. I could write pages and pages about the years we’ve spent, and I still can’t believe it’s gone by so quickly, but for now, three cheers for 10 years.

Money and Church Buildings

A few weeks ago, I wrote a short series on money (parts 1, 2, 3, & 4), and one of the things I talked about was, what to do with it? I realize I’m in a somewhat unique situation in wondering what to do with extra money, but it will make more sense if you just read those original posts. However, I wrote all those posts (though the publishing overlapped) before our pastor made an announcement one Sunday that caught us all be surprise.

Our church meets in a public elementary school, which has been our meeting place for six years or so (I’m not entirely sure, we’ve only been members for about three years). Our current contract takes us through this August with a one year open to take us through the summer of 2019. Our pastor indicated that there was a new principle at the school was not interested in the option year or a contract renewal, and therefore we would need to be out the first week of August. Also, it wouldn’t really be August because renovations to the school were to take place over the summer, so, actually, we had until Memorial Day. This all came up in the middle of March.

We also rent some office/meeting space in an industrial area down the street. Providentially, the same week that we find out we are not longer to meet in the school, the landlords of our office space stop by one day and tell the staff that the space across the parking lot (roughly 17,000 square feet) will soon be available, you know, in case we are interested.

I skip through the meetings, drama, stress, rushing around that ensued over the next few weeks, but ultimately, we decided to go for it. The idea was to find our own space in the next two or three years, but, it appears, God had another plan. All that to say, it was going to take some money. The space was actually two spaces, one was an office/warehouse type use and the other was basically a call center/cubicle farm. Estimates for renovating the space came in at around $900,000. Now, we are a church of 300-350 people or so, or about 120-130 families, with probably about 80-85 of which are regularly attending, money giving members. Realistically, a pledge of $12-15K per family (average) isn’t terrible, that is, when you are fundraising for two or three years.

We had about six weeks. Not only did we need to ‘raise’ that money in six weeks, we also needed a little more than a third of it in cash, in May (by today, actually). Again, I’ll fast forward through the sleeplessness of the elders and staff team, the endless meetings, the tireless efforts of a few volunteers, and the arguments/debates/conversations about other possible cheaper options. Two weeks ago was what we called commitment Sunday, where everyone wrote down what they were committed to bring in up front cash and what they could give over the next year and yesterday was the culmination of that phase as people brought their first checks. Ultimately, we fell slightly short of the goal, but people committed to give roughly $862,000 over the next year. However, the we do have some reserve funds that we can easily commit to cover the gap, so the project moves forward.

Construction drawings have been produced and submitted and hopefully work will begin soon. The target date for us to have our first service will be the first Sunday of November. In the mean time, after a few great meetings with the school staff, we’ve worked out an agreement in which we will still meet at the school through October. Luckily, there are never any problems with contractors or construction timelines, right?

It was been a fascinating few months for out community. The discussion among people regarding money, giving, finance have been incredible and have grown and matured us as a body. The church community itself is not very old (maybe around 20 years) and has meet in a few random places over the years, with no specific place as home. Now, we will have an actual space, that is ours all day every day, and for the next 10 years. This will be longer than we’ve ever been in one place as a church. It is longer than we’ve ever been in one place as a family (our ten year anniversary is in three days). So, there is a lot of faith and trust that this is where God wants us (community and family) to be. It has changed the mindset of the community for what commitment looks like, with time (specifically long term thinking/goals) and obviously money. Some of the stories that have some from this have been incredible. Two quickly, one woman is retired and living on a pension, she has decided to take a job and give the entire entire salary over the next year (I could write a whole post on this story) and one of the build/design professionals we contacted was so impacted by our story that he actually gave our pastor $1,000 to go towards the building fund.

That was really the point of me writing this post, which has now rambled on longer than anticipated. We prayed that God would guide us in budgeting a giving out of what He has blessed us with, and now, giving to the building fund alone will be a largest budget category over the next year, followed by our mortgage, and then our regular giving. To be honest, it is kind of scary. It is a lot of money, and a huge commitment for us. We are sacrificing a few things here and there, mostly notably holding off on replacing an old car. You can actually hear Mrs. MMT discuss this here (she tells our story in an interview style interaction one morning with the pastor and one of the elders, who also shares a story) if you are interested, and you can even go to the main page here to see the entire timeline with updates as we received them as well as more stories of people discussing giving and commitment to the church.

This entire story has really reinforced to me the importance of how we handle money as Christians. I wrote about the importance of budgeting, because without it, we don’t have the flexibility to be able to give more when called upon. I realize many people struggle and their income just isn’t there to give what they’d like, but my focus is on those who have the means, but don’t pay enough attention. The amount of people I’ve heard from over the past few months who looked back through their spending (some for the first time) or made budgets for the first time, and were in shock over the amount of money they wasted on certain things has been surprising. I know many people don’t pay attention, but this is really some poor stewardship as a whole church community. People were finally looking, and coming to me saying, I can’t believe I spend $2,000 a year in cable, or I can’t believe I spent so much money on going out to eat. They were essentially finding hundreds of dollars a month in their budgets.

Obviously, this is something we as Christians should talk about more. Money should be much less of a taboo than it is, especially considering the amount of time Jesus spent discussing money. He is our example, and if we take that seriously, we are clearly failing. I think it is a topic I will try to write on more, here on this site.

Anyway, it is an exciting and scary time of us as a family here at MMT (the term of our lease will have sprout entering as a pre-schooler and leaving as a teenage) and for our church community. God has blessed us and given as an opportunity to pour much of that back in to our community, so I just wanted to write that our and share with the few of you who still read this. More updates to follow, I’m sure. It should be fun.

Charity & IRS Audits

I recently finished reading Relationships: A Mess Worth Making, which I may review later, but I thought there was an interesting anecdote in one of the last chapters, one of them relates a story of man he new that was audited by the IRS due to the amount of money he gave to the church. His point being, what if all Christians gave so much money that tax auditors had to give it a second look.

I thought, man, how much is this guy giving as a percent of his income that would make the IRS suspicious? I could imagine a situation where giving goes up dramatically in one year. Say someone started a new job with a bigger salary, or took a big promotion/made partner, or something along those lines. If you are living on the fixed budget, then you’d have more money to give. Just because you have a raise, doesn’t mean you mortgage or groceries go up.

This is actually what happened to Mrs. MMT and me. Last year(ish) we both took different positions (that were promotions) with new companies. You almost always get a bump in salary if you go to a new company or get a promotion, and we did both, the both of us, so it was kind of a double double raise. However out expenses didn’t move up in the same proportion as our income, obviously, so we were able to increase our giving rate. We also spent a little more on ourselves and dramatically increased our savings rate, but overall we felt like, when faced with the question, ‘what should we do with this nice bump in income the Lord has blessed us with?’ part of the answer has to be to give more, and not in the total amount.

Clearly, if you make $50K and your salary goes up 10% to $55K, if you are holding to a 10% giving, then your giving would go from $5K to $5.5K. But like I mentioned earlier, if you have a handle on the rest of your expenses, you should be able to give more than 10% to church and other charities. It is not like the tithe is a hard and fast rule. We, as Christians, are not bound to 10%, and we can give more. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:7 – Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

We were more convicted of this during the summer when our pastor did two sermons (Part 1 & 2) on generosity as part of a large series on Money, Sex, and Power. It is also something I had been thinking about since we started our new jobs. We know we are ‘supposed’ to give 10% and we are supposed to save 15%. But if you have a large salary increase, what would it look like if you saved 25%, but still only gave 10%? That can’t be right, right? So, that is a point that the pastor was pointing out, what do your percentages look like. But, I digress too much, maybe I should make that into another post.

So, back to the present. I filled our taxes. I like using the H&R Block Tax Software. They have a cool feature that does an audit check for you and will tell you if something is really bad or just curious. Well, we were flagged. The system told us to double check out charitable deductions, because we had given a large amount. Of course, it wasn’t actually a large amount, just relative to income, it was a percentage they thought could raise interest for an audit.

I had just finished reading that book, so it made me interested. I’m imagining what it would look like to give 20-25% or more to the church, but I’m getting flagged for barley more than 10%. Why? Well, I looked into it. The average American only gives 3% of their adjusted gross income to charity. The most recent Pew study shows that 70.6% of American’s claim Christianity. So, if we all gave 10% and everyone else gave zero (which certainly isn’t the case, 1.9% claim Judaism, another .9% claim Islam, so there are a few more with the 10% guideline. Of course it would be ridiculous to think only religious people (or only these particular religions) give money to charity), then the average charitable giving of an American should be around 7%, not adjusting for things like income and religious affiliation, etc.

Maybe not surprisingly, the more money you make, the less you actually give. This article from Fool shows giving peaking at incomes of $50-75K with 6.8%, and then declines in every bracket until your income hits one million. Forbes breaks it down in even more specifically, take a look at your income and see how you compare. People start giving $3K once they make about $65K (notice, that is less than 5%), but don’t add that extra thousand to bring their total giving to $4K until they make almost twice that, at $125K (now we are closer to 3%). If you go from making $100K to $200K, you should be double your giving, instead you are going from $3.6K to $5.6K, at this point we are down to about 2.5%.

So, two things here, not only are we not giving more as a percentage as our income goes up, we are actually giving less, but we aren’t even giving close to 10%. No wonder it is a red flag that someone would give 10%. Imagine what it would look like if all Christians about a certain income gave 10%, and then as they made more that percentage increased? If we said from our abundance, we give even more back? What affect on society? Instead from more abundance, we become even less faithful. It is almost like we can only serve one master. It also frustrates me that so many Christians oppose certain types of welfare and government safety nets, claiming that charity should support people, not the government. While I don’t necessarily disagree, it is beyond hypocritical to claim that will not even giving 10% to your own church.

Anyway, this post became longer and less coherent than I intended. It was an interesting coincidence that I was challenged by this book with the example of the guy audited, only to then have my tax software tell me I needed to double check my own numbers, to then finding out Americans give so little as a percent of the income. Maybe I’ll break out some of these ideas in later post and try better next time.

Some thoughts on Lent

Growing up Baptist, I think my first exposure to the concept of Lent, in which someone gave up something for the period of time leading up the Easter, came from the movie 40 Days and 40 Nights. That was my senior year in high school and I don’t think I actually knew a catholic until one of my roommates a few years later in college. I guess because of this, I’ve never really ‘got’ Lent.

It was amusing last week as Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, approached. Most of the people in my immediate office are Catholics. This is true now for the first time in the 10 years in which I’ve work there. So, I think there is a bit of Baptists and Beer thing going on (if you go fishing, why should you take two Baptist instead of one? They’ll both watch the other to make sure they don’t drink your beer), in which they are all watching to see who is giving up what and who went to Ash Wednesday Mass. The best part was on Friday, as they are supposed to abstain from meat, one of them had already forgotten and was called out right before he ate a chicken biscuit. This is the same guy who ate steak every night for the week leading up to Lent, because that is what he was giving up.

If you don’t know, Lent is not in the Bible. We, as Christians, are not required to participate, or to fast, or really follow any particular rules about Lent. The concept comes from the Temptation of Christ, when he spent 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness, fasting and preparing for his ministry. As a spiritual exercise, I find it fascinating. That being said, I don’t really understand how, and almost wish that the works and rules based requirements of Catholics were actually Biblical requirements. In a sense, it would be easy to give up something for the sake of giving up something. Or skipping meat on Fridays, just because, though fish is allowed, basically because Aquinas didn’t think it tasted good. Apparently, part of the fasting and abstinence is just to give up something you enjoy.

However, if you are seeking a spiritual discipline, and want a reason for what you are giving up, it becomes more difficult. I feel like I really need a why. It doesn’t work for me to say, I’ll give up pizza, because I like pizza. I guess, ultimately, that is often the point of fasting, but as a Lenten practice, it seems odd. Maybe this is due to wanting to have a counter balance. So, I give up pizza, what am I supposed to do with that? If I just replace it with something that is also good, like burgers, what have I gained. I’ve heard from some who fast from dinner on Fridays and instead spend the time they would be cooking and eating in prayer. That seems interesting. This is why I consider myself to only have had on successful Lent.

It was years ago, and I gave up video games and decided to use the time playing them when I get home from work, to read the Gospels. This did in fact change me. I started reading more, especially studying the Bible and theology, to the point that now I have a blog about book reviews. Also, I never regained the habit of playing video games only a daily basis and actually haven’t played any in a few years, ever since Sprout was a few months old.

In this way, I do think I completed a spiritual exercise. I have up something that was pointless, and began to study the Bible. But I’ve struggled to ever replicate this again. As you start to think about things to give up, you mind if often drawn away from spiritual things. For instance, the only other time I actually gave up something was last year, and I have up alcohol. Seemed like a good idea, but then I lost a few pounds from it, so it kind of became about health; plus I never found something to replace it with, or any kind of ‘why’.

As I talk with others looking to engage in a Lenten abstinence, the same issues seem to come up. People decide to get up earlier in the morning and go to the gym, or give up red meat or sugar, to lose a few points. Those are basically New Year’s resolutions. They are good things, nothing wrong with either of them, but tying them to God seems disingenuous. Likewise, people struggling with alcoholism or lust will give up getting drunk or porn. These are already things you shouldn’t be doing.

Anyway, I guess this is just a long way of saying, I don’t know how to Lent. I’d love to hear from any of my readers as to what you’ve given up and why, either this year or in the past. Finally, any good satire type things to give up are always appreciated, probably my favorite two that I’ve heard is people giving up their Catholicism, or giving up their virginity.

 

It is Well

This is a little different style and song than I typically like to post. I’ve never actually heard of these guys before, but of the 10 or so version of this song I listened to on YouTube, I liked them the best.

It is Well with My Soul is a hymn written in the 1870’s by Horatio Spafford, a Chicago lawyer and Presbyterian Elder. His first son died in 1871, the same year the Great Chicago Fire also destroyed a large portion of his real estate investments. In 1873, he decides to take his wife and four daughters on a trip to England. He had to stay back for work, but planned to meet up with them later.

On November 22, their ship crashed with another. His wife survived, but all his daughters died. She sent him a message telling him what happened and he hopped a ship over to England to be with her. As he was passing the general location of the wreck, he wrote this hymn. They would eventually have three more children, but sadly lose one of them, their other son, as well.

I was thinking of this song as we drove to the doctor/hospital this past Monday. I suppose I should have had a little more hope than I did, apparently bleeding is normal during some pregnancies. Mrs. MMT knew a few people that experienced this. After 16 months of trying to get pregnant, I had mostly lost hope. I’ve always been pretty cynical as it is. It was odd driving down the road, basically trying not to think about a miscarriage, trying to hope that the doctor would tell us there was no problem, and then thinking of this song.

I wasn’t sure how to act. Was it in my head because I had read the story of Spafford in November, then sang this song one Sunday in December? I thought maybe it was a movement by the Holy Spirit to comfort me, but of course, that’s not what I wanted it to be. It retrospect, that is likely what it was. After getting home, Mrs. MMT and I discussed it, she too felt a calm, maybe even a peace about the miscarriage, despite the obvious pain and sense of loss, and the returning sense of hopelessness.

In a terrible coincidence, last November or early December, we had schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist for this coming Monday. We found out we were pregnant on Christmas Day, so instead of a fertility appointment, we set up our first sonogram appointment, as this would be the eight week mark this coming Monday. Well, turns out, they want to see you a week after a miscarriage, so we replaced our sonogram appointment with a follow up appointment to make sure Mrs. MMT is alright (physically) and to maybe give us a reason as to what might have happened.

We are not hopeful they will have an answer for us. That isn’t a knock on the doctors or nurses, it is just a fact that about one quarter of pregnancies end in miscarriage. So, at this point, I don’t expect them to tell us that this was anything but a statistic. They will also let us know when they think we can start trying again.

So, for now, we are sad, hurt, disillusioned and at a loss; Mrs. MMT is still dealing with the physical after affects; and every thing just seems a little shitty over all; but we know that it is well.

John 14:27 –
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

2018 Reading Challenge

I slight exceeded my goal of 25 books last year, by reading 29 books. Now, the prior year, I had a goal of 30, but pretty well passed that, reading 52. I lowered my goal last year as I took some Counseling courses, but as I am not doing that this year, I am raising the goal back to 30. I’d love to set the goal at 48 or 52, to match my 2016, but Sprout doesn’t sleep as much as she used to (bedtime moved back and naps went from 3/4 to zero), so I don’t think that is reasonable, but in the back of my mind, I am kind of hopeful.

So, what am I reading? I have 13 books specifically planned (check out my Goodreads 2018 Shelf for a quick list). I’ll probably tack on another 12 (or less, mostly likely, as I ratchet down the number of review books I request) and then leave myself a little room for randomness in the other five. Of those five, two or three will probably be novels, and at least one will be another counseling book. The 13 I have set out already include:

Devotional – I’ve typically read a whole year devotional, such as My Utmost for His Highest (my review), but this year I’m doing something a little different. I have one, Shalom in Psalms, that goes through, well, the Psalms. This won’t take a whole year, so I have a Lenten one, From the Grave, and an Advent one, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy“, lined up. That should finish out the year, but I may have to find a 30-40 day one in addition and toss it in there. So, kind of sneaky with the numbers, typically the devotional gets me one book, this year it might net me three or four.

Biography/autobiographyA Full Life: Reflections at Ninety was on my list last year, but I didn’t make it to it, so I’ll stick it back on this list.

Non-fictionGödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, at 822 pages, this is the second biggest book on my list for this year and one of my top five lift goal, big book, non-fiction books to pick up. Unless this takes me all year, I’ll probably have another, shorter, non-fiction in this list.

FictionThe Fall of Hyperion, the sequel to one of my favorite books last year, Hyperion, and the only book I’ve already started reading. At 864 pages, Anna Karenina, will be my biggest book this year and the second longest single volume fiction book I’ve ever read. If that wasn’t enough Russian Literature, I’d also like to work through the two stories (which come packaged in one book, so I’m counting it as one) Notes from the Underground and The Grand Inquisitor. Hopefully, I’ll get to a few more in this category.

Christian-y type books – because two 800 page books won’t take me long enough, I’m also picking up two more 500+ page books. First, I want to get back into finishing Bavnick so I have Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ, on the list with the ridiculous hope that I will actually make it to the even longer (912 pages) Volume Four. Second is what I’ve heard is the best in Christian history – Church History in Plain Language. Outside of the big ones, I had Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy on my list from 2017, but also didn’t get to it, so I’ve move it to this year; Work and Our Labor in the Lord, which is also technically a review book; and finally, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. This general category will be the biggest, as I fill it out with review books and commentaries.

That is the plan for 2018, a few less books than I think I could probably handle, but a few of them probably to large. Feel free to share your goals in the comments.

2017 Reading Challenge Update

For 2017 I challenged myself to read 24 books, with 19 books called out specifically. I was successful in the number of book, with 29, but didn’t hit many of my specific books. I think this is mostly due to having less time to read, so I didn’t hit the big books (like Capital in the 21st Century) and because I ended up reading mostly review books that were sent to me by Baker Books.

This year I will likely read less review books. Originally, I would request every book they offered, because at first I wouldn’t receive many, if any, of them. Then as I did more and more reviews, they started sending every single one I requested. I had planned to read five or six, and ended up reviewing 12.

I ended up knocking out two of the three novels I had planned, reading Brave New World  (my review) and Hyperion, but not Lolita.

I read all of the required books for school, but haven’t reviewed a single one. I think I also over estimated the amount of time I’d have left to read after finishing schoolwork as well as the impact of a new job that tripled/quadrupled my commute. Throw in Sprout sleeping even less and somehow becoming even more rambunctious, I ended up with far less time than I anticipated. Just in writing this post and reviewing my reading from 2017, I’ve already downgraded my goal for 2018 from 36 to 30 books, realizing that I likely will not have time.

I’ll have that goal up in a post sometime next week. Hopefully, I’ll finish reviewing a few more books from last year and have a rundown on the ESV M’Chenney Reading Bible.

2018 is Here

It is 2018 already, well, it is the 2nd now, but I was eating and watching football all day yesterday, so I didn’t post anything. Most importantly from yesterday, Georgia won and is heading to the National Championship game next Monday here in Atlanta.

I’ll have a few post later this week or next specifically about this site, but for now Phil has the December 2017 Biblical Studies Carnival up over at his Reading Acts and my buddy David has his annual book ranking up over at his This Mortal Life.

Finally, I’ve posted a few times over the past couple of years about receiving hand me down books from my mom’s dad’s dad, who was a Church of Christ preacher, but yesterday I stopped by my other Granddad’s house. He and my grandmother are moving to assisted living/memory care tomorrow and he wanted to grab a few of his books. Along with a full volume of Matthew Henry’s commentary, I also noticed this.

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On the left is The New Bible Commentary Revised edition. This commentary was published in the 50’s and revised and republished in the 70’s. It was revised, I believe, again in the 90’s and then totally revamped in the ’21st Century Edition’ in 2008, which is the one on the right (my copy). My granddad is an avid reader and taught Sunday School for something like 60 years, which he took seriously enough to buy multiple commentaries. It was cool to see I had chosen on of the same ones he used for decades, but more than 40 years after he purchased his.

 

Texas Church Shooting

As always, we wonder if there was any way to prevent this.

Once again, we have a mass shooting in this country. Unsurprisingly, Trump calls this a mental health issue.  Of course, earlier this year, he signed a bill into law that rolled back Obama-era regulations that made it harder for people with mental health issues to purchase guns. If we needed extreme vetting after the NYC attack, does this mean we will have extreme focus on mental health care in this country now? Some sort of ‘extreme’ funding for social services.

I don’t really know what to say. I saw on the news this morning that there was a memorial in Atl yesterday for the Las Vegas shooting. So, we didn’t even have time between the largest mass shooting in modern history and the memorial before another mass shooting. I’m not a very emotional guy, but I feel like crying watching the news stories. Mostly because nothing will happen. Some think that if we can’t talk about gun control now, we never will; but I’m not convinced. I think the ultimate nail in the coffin was 20 first graders being murdered, along with seven others (and the shooter). Just think about that over and over again. There were 20 first graders shot one morning. As a country we did absolutely nothing. If anything, by some accounts, gun control was weakened since then.

It was only 10 years ago that we thought we’d hit an unsurpassable number of 33 at Virginia Tech. We easily passed that just a year ago in Orlando, then set a new record just last month in Vegas. So, two of the five deadliest in modern history have happened over the past 35 days. I was in high school when Columbine happened, and that was a big deal then. I’m sure people thought the same thing, that if we couldn’t talk about it now…. Of course now, Columbine doesn’t even rank in the top 10 deadliest shootings anymore. If you sort that table by year, you’ll see that 12 double digit body count mass shootings have occurred since then.

I have no hope that anything will change. The NRA has an inexplicable amount of power over congress. If you wanted to be very generous and say that some of the congress members who blame mental health aren’t lying through there teeth, still nothing will change, because none of them are proposing to fund mental health counseling in this country or even adequate social services. As always, Christians remain silent and useless. We don’t want to step on anyone’s ‘rights’ regardless of the body count. I guess every couple of months they’ll be a mass shooting with 20 plus dead and we all sit around with our thumbs up our asses and wonder how we could prevent this.