Updates and Recommendation

Posting was spotty in 2022 due to a new job in my real life and a focus on our podcast – Modern Cloister – but I’m hoping to be back more often this year with fairly regular book reviews and a project I am starting on the Psalms. I should have a steady stream of book reviews, as I am way behind, starting Monday with one of Crossway’s new commentary series on Luke. I’m trying to get it up quickly, so I can grab their version on Mark will advanced copies are still available. It isn’t a full on commentary, but I think it is pretty unique and a great addition to any library or Bible Study. I have a very long term (probably years) plan on the Psalms that I hope to start sometime this Spring. If things are actually going well, I’m going to try to start an occasional series that will come out on Wednesdays that may be posted here and streamed through the Modern Cloister, for as long as we keep that going.

I also wanted to recommend a few books for anyone looking for something to read this year. I have reviewed either yet, but hopefully soon. If you are look for a good fiction book, try Lonesome Dove. I checked it out of the library. It is on the longer side, maybe 800+, but it is a quick/easy read and probably one of the best works of fiction I’ve ever read (easily top 5). Those looking for a devotional should check out Psalms in 30 Days: CSB edition. I’m not a huge fan of CSB for the Psalms, though better than others, but if you’ve taken the habit of reading the whole Psalter in 30 days, this is a really interesting twist. The author breaks the readings into three instead of two, but instead of just reading, there is essentially a mini-BCP (Book of Common Prayer) with calls to worship, gloria patria, and additional prayers. It is probably my favorite devotional of all time.

Two heavier books, on Systematic and on non-fiction. Evangelical Theology from Michael Bird is now probably at the top of my list for a systematic theology text. I’ll have more to say when I review it, but it is reformed-ish and evangelical in the theological sense (not political, as he is not American), easy to read, offers great depth, and maybe most interesting: funny. If you are looking for non-fiction, I finally got around to reading Fukuyama’s Origins of Political Order. This is the first (beginning of time to French Revolution) of a two volume work on society/political organization, and if that is an interesting topic to you, this book is fascinating.

Looking back through my Goodreads, you can kind of forget what you read, and I realized I’d planned to do a post on a slew of ‘controversial’ books from the past few years – Making of Biblical Womanhood (review), Recovering from Biblical Womanhood , Jesus and John Wayne, and Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. I need to finish these reviews, and either a write-up with how they interact or a pod on them. Speaking of which, does anyone listen to podcast that review books? I am thinking of making a few episodes specially on book reviews and wasn’t sure how interesting that may be.

Final recommendation to start the year is a substack (because blogs and people who have them are old and outdated) called Common Grace, Common Schools (check it out here). I found it via, of all places, LinkedIn, but the author was a friend of mine back in high school/church growing up, and actually we were almost roommates in college, which is a long story. He has a PhD in education policy and works in that arena now. The series is (going to be) about a Christian view of public school and (I assume) homeschooling. Stephen is an extremely intelligent guy and pretty good writer and I think the series will be interesting for anyone who has every considered the public/home school debate/issues. I’ve considered writing a series myself, but his will almost certainly be better. I went to public schools (including college and grad) and my parents could have never afford home/private schools and I am a bit biased due to two/maybe three different incidences. First, after college I actually worked at a ‘home school’, this could be a post itself, but I’ll just say it was past embarrassing and into shameful. Second, through some very crossed wires, I had an interview with ‘definitely not the Heritage Foundation’ think tank on ‘school choice’ (this is your reminder if someone is arguing ‘choice’ they’ve already lost on merits). Their legislative director explained to me their goal of undermining and defunding public schools in Georgia. I’m generally fine with most sincerely held political beliefs, so if you want to defund schools and end education in America, I guess that is fine, but I very much hate that Christians are the ones used to do this and they method the organizations use is fear. Third, I knew basically no one homeschooled (before fear was used around the millennium, and of course the reason the school I know started was not what they said, but because one of their children were kicked out of school), mostly because I lived in a middle class area. This is similar to my current situation. However for the past 15 years or so, I’ve worked in and attended church in a rich area, and there, where it doesn’t take two incomes to live, homeschooling is seen as the ‘correct’ and ‘most Christian’ way, which I find frustrating.

Anyway, I could write quite a bit more on this, but I think Stephen will hit most of it, and maybe I’ll have some reactions. I’d also recommend anyone who doesn’t know, go check out the history of homeschools (which wasn’t legalized in Georgia until the mid-80’s).

Alright, that should do it for now. Hopefully, I’ll be back to posting regularly in 2023. If not, y’all probably wont hear from me in anymore 2024.

Edit: Two things I need to add that I forgot. First, Stephen received his PhD from the two time defending national champs – the University of Georgia. Second, I should have caveated – not all homeschools. There are legit reasons to home school, and some schools (or consortiums, or whatever they call themselves) are quite good; I know at least two great people who teach at some of those. However, that being said, the history and people’s reasons are often shaky, and I will probably always remain skeptical.

Father’s Day 2021 Recommended Reading

If you are a dad of a young child or a soon to be dad, I have a few recommendations for books to check out this Father’s Day. Or if you are someone related to one of these people and don’t have a gift yet, click the link and get it just in time (or go rent from the library, you’d be surprised at what they have).

Best pre-dad book I’ve reviewed – The New Dad’s Playbook: Gearing Up for the Biggest Game of Your Life
Best pre-dad I haven’t reviewed – Be Prepared
Another good pregnancy/first few months book that has a great guidebook style (my review) – We’re Pregnant! The First-Time Dad’s Pregnancy Handbook
Best book for early childhood – Brain Rules for Baby (Updated and Expanded): How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five
Best Gospel-centered parenting book (my review) – Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family
Best book for men in general, but certainly has a few value for fathers and husbands (my review) – Disciplines of a Godly Man (Paperback Edition)

*This book is more focused on women, but is actually a pretty good read. My advice to dads and pre-dads who fear their wife might be over-protective is to have them read this book (y’all both read, she’ll appreciate the effort if nothing else) – Bringing Up Bébé

A few others to consider:
Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn–and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less (my review) The flashcard trend has died down since this book was written, but the research into how children learn is quite fascinating.

The Pregnancy Instruction Manual: Essential Information, Troubleshooting Tips, and Advice for Parents-to-Be (Owner’s and Instruction Manual)
The Baby Owner’s Manual: Operating Instructions, Trouble-Shooting Tips, and Advice on First-Year Maintenance
How Toddlers Thrive: What Parents Can Do Today for Children Ages 2-5 to Plant the Seeds of Lifelong Success
The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind

The suggestion skew young as they are all about pre-dad to preschool, mostly baby and toddler books, but I’m young (ish) and young children (added two since I first made this list three years ago, Sprout has aged out, so I may need to find some new books), so I don’t know what to tell you other than to check back in the next few years for more. For broader parenting books I’ve reviewed, but don’t necessarily recommend, check out my review of Fearless Parenting and my review of Talking with Your Kids About God.

Thoughts on 2020

Well, 2020 has been a garbage year. I am ready to turn the page on this year and start a new one, but there isn’t much hope that this coming year will be any better, at least not the first half or so. Even this post, two sentences in has gone off the rails; my goal was to attempt a ‘best things’ lazy year end post. I just got an email from a buddy who posted his ‘favorite things’ of the year, it was a top 10 in multiple categories. I was sitting here just trying to come up with three things I’ve posted that would be worth celebrating. 

Is hard to think of those things right now. We have had 9/11 level of deaths every day since the election (when it was supposed to magically go away, accord to ‘conservatives’), over 20,000 people died this past week (Merry Christmas), a little more than one in 1,000 Americans have died since March (and the ‘all lives matter’ crowd is quick to point out it is only the old and those with pre-existing conditions). All this, and that only has to do with Covid, which far too many people I know still downplay or straight out deny exists, including a distressing (and depressing) number of Christians. Similarly, those same people agree/support delusion of a president who, without any evidence or basis in any facts, has frequently claimed ‘fraud’ or ‘rigged’ election. He has been so busy doing this he hasn’t even mentioned the Christmas day suicide bomber/terrorist(?), who, luckily didn’t kill anyone but himself. Half of the SBC has seemingly gone insane in fear, and care more about denying racism than heterodox views of the Trinity.  This is also the year that school was canceled in my area for a hurricane and snow, within about two weeks from each other. 

It has been an exhausting year.  It has been bad for me on almost every level, mentally, emotionally, spiritually (though I’ve had some encouragement lately), physically. I sleep only a few hours a night, which would be cool if I was too tired to do something with my waking hours. Often I feel like I can’t go on. I might have to go full on crazy with big outlandish New Year’s resolutions just to shock the system. On top of the actual tragic events related to Covid (oh yeah, there is also a new more contagious strand now), this disaster of a president, the civil unrest around racial issues, WordPress updated to a new editor system and for me, it is just trash. It is clunky, has odd spacing, and randomly highlights things I’m not working on. Worst of all, you have to search around to find the ‘classic’ editor, just to link to your own site. You might be think that I just don’t know what I’m doing, that is obviously the case (this much should be clear by now), but that hasn’t stopped me before. To add to that, even our Christmas Eve service, which was a big outside production so we could space out and have open air, was cancelled due to weather. I am deeply concerned with the future of the church and the attendance after things are back to normal. Many people have not come back in person, even though they can. Unfortunately, some of those were planning to come to our outdoor service. I have some hope that more will return next year. 

So, here is my attempt, in no particular order to point to three things of 2020 that I enjoyed, which is as close to ‘best of’, as I can probably get to right now:

  1. Why not start with something still related to Covid. Working for the Government, I never had the opportunity to ‘shut down’ or quarantine for a time (I first went back to the office in early April). However, not much else was happening in the world, so most of the time, I just need to log on and check some things for those first few weeks. I attempted to start a ‘covid dairy’, it wasn’t very good, and was a much more appealing exercise when this was supposed to be temporary (in the short term sense). So, I would log on around 6:00 am and work for a few hours, this was back when the Nuggets took two naps a day, so I would then spend the morning with Sprout (going back to work after lunch). I wrote it about it here. I will certainly always remember the time, we logged 8-10 miles a day walking and exploring. She was about 5.5 at the time, so who knows. At one point she told me about a dream she had about driving a car, then told me her top five ‘musics’ (basically genres-ish). You can listen to here playlist here
  2. Our church started an incredibly ambitious sermon series of preaching through the entire Bible in and year and asking the the congregation to read the entire Bible in a year.  A spin off of this was that we started a video series of panel discussions called ‘that stuff in the Bible’, in which we discuss some of the wild, strange, or hard parts of the Bible. I was on the first panel, which of course (being in Genesis) was a discussion on the age of the Earth and evolution. I usually don’t do things like this, as I hate being in public view. I have terrible anxiety for these things, such that I basically didn’t eat that day or sleep the night afterward. However, I am proud of it and I think it turned out pretty well. Please watch it here
  3. I am really struggling for number three. I don’t have anything I can link to or post. I guess I will kind of cheat and tease something that will come later. I formed an idea for a project a few months ago and have been steadily working on it since. As I’ve alluded to in the past few posts, it might mean the end of MMT, but only insofar as it is a new chapter and time to move to something else. It should be fairly comprehensive, and we haven’t figured out all the aspects yet. Hopefully, there will be a few test runs soon to make sure it is worthwhile, and then a launch planned in March. If you never see that, then it failed to get off the ground, but some of the content will likely be ported over here, so either way, I hope to expand what I’m doing in some capacity, after a listless half decade of being a fake theologian.

That is it. That is all I have for 2020. Better luck next year.

We aren’t in Psalm 88, darkness is not my only companion, there is One who will pull us from the pit. 

Top Posts of 2020

This is my third annual top post of the year post, and it is an interesting list, for an interesting year. Just as last year, not a single post I wrote this year was in my top 10. The top post written this year was Coronavirus and Christ, which was a book review, probably boosted by Coronavirus, it was number 17, there was only two others I wrote this year in my top 25. Of the top 10, seven are book reviews, which isn’t surprising since that is the majority of what I post and by far the most popular, two others are notes on Thessalonians. Interestingly, last year had two from Thessalonians, including what as my number two this year (it was three last year), so maybe I need to revisit those and actually finish the series. 

Here they are:

  1. Book Review: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
  2. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11
  3. Book Review: Disciplines of a Godly Man
  4. Why I Chose Olive Tree
  5. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
  6. Book Review: The Fall of Hyperion
  7. Book Review: We’re Pregnant
  8. Book Review: Five Marks of a Man
  9. Book Review: Imperfect Disciple
  10. Book Review: Practicing the King’s Economy

Numbers 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, & 10 were all top 10 last year, with numbers 1, 3, 7, 9, & 10 also being top in 2018. I guess these are just very popular books to search. I think this makes sense, as they are about discipleship, mostly. We’re Pregnant might be a fluke based on search terms, though it is also a really good book. I think the political atmosphere of the last four+ years makes people wonder about the economy and what the Bible may say, it is also a great book. No idea what is up with Thessalonians. I made a prediction last year that Confronting Old Testament Controversies would be in the top 10 because I thought it was an important book that would be searched often. Instead it landed as my 78th spot, which is really nuts, honestly. All of my 2020 posts including Merry Christmas and my post from yesterday were ahead of it. So, not predictions this time.

The rest of the top 25ish were my other book review posts this year and fiction (mostly sci-fi) book reviews. Looking at my stats, this year was the third most words published at just over 36,000, but with only 37 posts it was my most words per posts ever.

You can check out my top 10 from 2019, and 2018, if you are interested. It has been an odd/terrible year, but I appreciate everyone who visited. I’ll have on more post up tomorrow and then off of the rest of the year. As I mentioned previously, there will be changes in 2021, I might be more consistent, but it will certainly be less posts (though I will likely re-break the words per post record from this year) or it may shut down all together. I guess will see if I am back with another lazy top post next year.

Critical Race Theory vs. Eternal Subordination of the Son

Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been making the Christian Twitter rounds the past month or so, a few months after making the right-wing politics Twitter rounds. I don’t have a great deal to say about CRT, mostly because I don’t think it much matters. Some people in my world are quite panicked about it, and I’m honestly a little unsure where all their fear is coming from. CRT is an academic theory used by some academics, sometimes, in some subjects as a tool of criticism. You can find a good summation of CRT here, from John Fea, who is an Evangelical Christian that works as a Historian at a conservative Christian College. He explains it as used by academics and points out someone else’s definition, in which I believe most people would agree with at least one or two of the points. 

I personally think he is being too charitable to the theory, however, maybe that is the problem. Maybe he is exactly right. The problem comes from when an academic exercise becomes ‘popular’, but at that point it loses all meaning. I feel like at this point, CRT has become one of those things were you ask 10 people to define, you’ll get 10 different definitions. Even more problematic, the far side of the democrats/left have weaponized it in the ever escalating war of identity politics. Of course, predictably, the far side of the republican/right (and far too man Evangelicals) have then responded with their typical cowering and fearmongering. Somewhat famously now, all six presidents of the SBC seminaries have written a joint declaration condemning CRT. I find it odd to see so many serious academics (mostly theologians) fear a secular academic theory that has noting to say about theology, Biblical studies, Greek/Hebrew, etc. Surely they know better. The truth of the Gospel is eternal, while CRT will probably be replaced by a new more ‘interesting’ theory in, what?, 10 years at the most. 

In some sense, we’ve been here before. Luckily, we didn’t run in fear, but instead adopted it and found it wanting. That is what happened with ‘Higher Criticism’ (also called Biblical Criticism) of 150 years or so, ago. It was the trendy thing, also out of the Frankfurt school, to attack the Bible, partly based on Enlightenment ideas, Schleiermacher, and a mix of archaeology/geology. Most academic Christians (seminary professors) adopted many of the ideas, found some useful, and rejected/disproved the other aspects. However, we didn’t cower, and where would Biblical studies be today without it? We’ve grown so much in our knowledge and proof of the Biblical truth since then. 

I’ll quickly say something about two other things related to CRT before moving on. First, while CRT is overrated, I think we should pay attention to intersectionality. That is a theory that is a race to the bottom in the turtles all the way down sense that I believe will have a far wider impact than CRT. I couldn’t seem to find a good link, but Albert Mohler’s podcast interviewed a guy, maybe back in the summer (June-ish) that really dove deeply into the topic. He was a British guy, I believe, and while he leaned a little too heavily on the familiar boogeyman of Marx, his explanations and real life examples were wild and fascinating. Second, wokeness. Woke is a nonsense term that has no meaning. It is similar to CRT in a sense, except it has no background or standing in academia. It is just a lazy twitter meme that vaguely means you support every changing far left politics (or sometimes it just means you don’t think black people should be shot by the police). The ‘concept’ if you can call it that, is so devoid of meaning and substance that it seems unnecessary for theologians to even address.

Which brings me to Owen Strachan, who a few months back, had a bizarre sermon/chapel speech where he stated that anyone ‘woke’ must be excommunicated. Again, woke is too ill-defined to even sense of what he is saying. But this is my main issue and the reason I want to write this – Strachan believes in the Eternal Subordination of the Son (ESS). This is Semi-Arianism (at best) and does not comport with the Nicene Creed. ESS means that all persons of the Trinity are not equal, that the Son (and Holy Spirit?) are subordinate to the Father. Historical orthodox belief is that the Son gave up His equality in His condescension and incarnation, but now reigns again, co-equal with the Father. Full Arianism believes that the Father created the Son and Holy Spirit, meaning they were lesser beings. This was condemned as hearsay over 1,500 years ago (I do no believe Stachen et al supports Arianism). He isn’t alone the recently problematic Grudem also supports ESS. For a good article go here, Carl Trueman thinks that this may come from an odd defense of complementarianism (which is clearly Biblical without needing to rely on ESS), a timeline on the arguments with many links for a pretty deep dive, Michael Bird describe in a video the issue and then his thoughts

This was a few years ago, so why bring it up now? Because it made maybe a ripple in Christian Twitter to the tsunami of fears related to CRT. Maybe a tenth of the ink (pixels?) were spilled in defense of the orthodox view of the Trinity than was used for an opposition to the secular academic theory. Which matters more? Your doctrines of the Triune God or a social argument? My guess is most of those in your pews have never even heard of CRT, and if they have, it wasn’t in the true academic sense (see above). You know what else they don’t know – that God chooses those whom He saved before the foundation of the world (50% Evangelicals disagree), that God saves you, you don’t earn it (52% disagree), and most frighteningly about a third reject the Deity of Christ. Read these two surveys for stats and sadness. 

So, what is my point? I am deeply saddened and distressed that these leaders (some of home apparently don’t hold orthodox views) send so much time letter politics drive their message with their congregations don’t know Biblical basics or even the simple Gospel. 

*An addendum of sorts, I’ve been playing around with this article for about 10 days, unsure if I would even post anything (I actually stated on my last post that I likely wouldn’t post anything again). However, this has blown up even more on Christian Twitter/Bloggersphere, so I felt compelled to post, but with an edit here and a rework of my ending (which I guess I’ll just delete and end here). Many black pastors/professors have spoken out against the SBC statement on CRT. Many of them do not support CRT, and have written against it, but their arguments seem to fall into to camps. One right-wing political ideology is driving this, which seems pretty self evident, and two, that many fear that this blanket condemnation is a just a way to avoid any discussion of race, by then calling it CRT. This seems a bit hyperbolic, but then Twitter kind of proved it to be true. 

Edit – Like I said, I’m pretty done with politics. I don’t believe this post is about politics. I see it is a plea for our leaders not to fear the world and to do a better job pastoring their flock. Again, I can’t say this enough, who cares about the 10% or so that have even heard of CRT (and already rejected it), when half of your congregation doesn’t believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light and that no one comes to the Father except through him? Why do we spend so much time arguing about a secular, liberal, academic theory when orthodoxy regarding the Trinity is now longer settled?

Of course, many people who attack me for being political because I say things that doesn’t fit their political view. If I say transgenderism is incoherent and dangerous, people say ‘amen’, when I say Metexas claiming he will fight to his last drop of blood to defend a conspiracy theory and Trump is clearly Caesar worship, people say ‘I don’t like when you get political, stick to book reviews.’ You can tell what people truly worship by what you are not allowed to criticize. 

Discussing politics is exhausting, though, and I’m done, even though I can predict what will be written over the next four years. After four years of only the government can protect us and Romans 13, Christians will write endless articles about when/why/how to defy the Government. Then when republicans when again in 2024 (which I think they will if they take back the center, which I think the far left will easily abandoned with their nonsense) and we’ll all be about Romans 13 again. We’ve got to stop putting politics first and letting it drive our theology. I’ve retweeted a few things from people about CRT and most (not all, you know who you are) of the criticisms are the ‘hurr durr why don’t you think the Bible is truth/reject the Bible, you are the real racist, DEMOCRAT (clever, I know)’. Most things I’ve seen are intellectually lazy or disingenuous, at best.  So, if you read this and you have some brilliant thoughts on the evils CRT or want to no read anything and just ignorantly ask why I support it, keep it to yourself. However, if you have thoughts on ESS (either for or against), I’d love to hear them. Also, also love hearing any studies or classes or anything your church is doing to help educate your congregation on the basics of Christianity. Feel free to let me know. 

Edit 2 – If you don’t think people are overreacting, check out this tweet from a few weeks ago when Jared Wilson (a professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) said something about race as it related to Jonah and Peter/Paul, and the reactions he received.

Final Edit – Our sermon from this past Sunday (last Sunday of Advent) was from Isaiah 9 and our preacher discussed some of the current political issues (of sorts). I will post it when the audio is available, please listen if you have time because he rocked it, and I think it is a good reminder to all of us.

Some Post Election Thoughts

Even though I shouldn’t, because I’m getting really burned out on politics. Some of your are lucky and political ad season is over, but for me, I can’t watch the weather without every add be about the two Senate run-off elections.

I don’t really have much in the way of politics, but there are some Biblical issues I want to get down, as well as a sprinkling of Covid thoughts, mostly because Covid has clearly affected the political climate. It seems to me that Trump would have won again (probably handly) were it not for his epic failure in leadership during this crisis. If you make it to the end, I have an update/tease on where this blog is going (if it continues) in the future).

I don’t typically listen to ‘Christian’ radio channels. Lazy pop rock isn’t really my style (and I get enough bad theology masquerading as ‘experiential worship’ from wannabe rock bands at church), and like old men in the generation before us that switch from music to talk radio or NPR, I mostly listen to podcasts when I drive. However, Mrs. MMT is a big Christmas music fan, on the local station here is only playing that right now, so on our way to church Sunday, that is what we were listening to. As I mentioned above, I’m still forced to hear political ads right now, but one stuck out to me. It was endorsing any candidate, just encouraging people to go vote (seriously it was pretty neutral, no save America/democracy hyperbole). However, the guy in the ad stated that we needed to exercise our ‘God given right to vote’. This is clearly unbiblical.

Now, I think Christians should vote. Just as I think everyone should vote. I wish we had mandatory voting and a national holiday to vote (check out Australia for example). Part of my job is to get people involved in local politics. However, there is literally nothing in the Bible about voting. There is nothing in the Bible about modern governmental or economic systems. We have no ‘God given right to vote’. In His blessing, I was born in a democracy (ish, conservatives are quick to point out right now that we don’t actually live in a democracy and seem to be doing everything they can to prove it) and have the right to vote for various leaders and policies. Yet to think God gave us this specific right is to conflate basic politics. I happen to see the other day, but I didn’t save it, and the guy just teased the data (hopefully a full survey/report) will come out later, but somewhere around 60% of Evangelicals (oddly, I don’t remember him narrowing it to the political category of ‘white’) believe the Constitution is divinely inspired. Think about that for a moment. That would mean that revelations did not end with the Bible, but instead ended with Deist to set up a new form of government. This is straight heresy, y’all, and even more concerning it is about the same percent of Evangelicals (according to Ligoner’s state of theology 2020) that believe Christ is the only way to the Father. Our Biblical literacy is dangerously poor.

A quick digression, radio related, before going back to bad theology and political idolatry. Dave Ramsey was in the news for his $10,000 a plate dinner reception at his estate. Apparently, he told the catering staff that they were not allowed to wear masks to protect themselves. He isn’t a pastor, but he is an influential figure in the Christian community. His Covid denial (we are over 300,000 deaths at this point) and political worship, as well as his disdain for neighbor/others is a sad, seemingly unending confluence right now. I guess a millionaire telling the working class to risk their health to serve them food is a pretty solid way to ‘act your wage’ in America currently.

To the election and idolatry. I’ve been torn on what I wanted to say, if anything, after Biden officially won the electoral college on Monday (the outcome was clear over a month ago, but the Kraken needed to go 1-58 in legal cases first, I guess). Biden in is the president elect of the US. More on what I think that means in a minute, but for now, the denialism that has been taken to a new level. Eric Metexas (famous for writing a poor historical biography of Bonhoeffer and I guess a radio host) state that he would die for Trump and overturning the election. Again, think about that for a minute. Who is he worshiping that he would die for a failed politician? I thought things couldn’t get worse than the FBC Dallas choir writing a song called ‘Make America Great Again’ and then signing during a Sunday service (which was broadcast on Fox News).

Of all people, Beth Moore called out Metexas for his idolatry. She was roundly attacked, including people ‘cursing her womb’ (she helpfully pointed out she previously had a hysterectomy, so people could save themselves some time). The lead person attacking her appears to be a self proclaimed atheist who thinks she is married to Dr. (according to some conservatives right now, he can’t say this) Russell Moore (president of the ERLC, the SBC lobbying/political arm) and Southern Seminary grad, whom he says is corrupt and liberal. This is who evangelicals are following right now. Again, think about this.

Metexas and others also held a bizarre rally blowing red, white, and blue shofars, calling themselves a Jericho March. As I was working on this Michael Horton wrote a piece in TGC which says better than I would, read it here, but these are a few highlights:

On Saturday, December 12, a bizarre rally was held on the Washington Mall. Shofars were blown. A flyover from Marine One was cheered by shouts of praise to the Messiah (evidently distinguished from Jesus). My Pillow founder Mike Lindell shared prophetic visions of Donald Trump.

Beth Moore sounded the alarm, and David French offered wise analysis. Rod Dreher, who just published a book decrying left-wing totalitarianism, wrote that he “began to think that all of this is the right-wing Christian version of Critical Race Theory, and various doctrines held by the woke Left.” Dreher was struck by how enthusiastically evangelicals seemed to participate in the inter-religious festivities. An American-born Israeli man received permission from his Orthodox rabbi to break Shabbat to blow his shofar and another, red-white-and-blue-decorated “Trump Shofar.” Roman Catholic representatives invoked the Virgin Mary and the saints.

He points out Moore, that link has a good summary of the issue, and French (who I believe is not Evangelical, but a conservative Christian who writes on conservative politics for a living) and Rod Dreher; both pieces are worth reading. Dreher is interesting, I think (and hopefully, I’m correct) that he is overblowing a concern of the coming Totalitarian from the left. Oddly, I first heard him promote his new book on the subject, Live Not By Lies, on Albert Mohler’s podcast (you can read my thoughts on Mohler’s turn here). At the time (as of yet, I don’t know if he has changed his opinion) Mohler was denying Biden won the election and supported Trump sending in troops to ‘swing’ states to overturn the election. The irony was apparently lost on him, which isn’t surprising considering his recent article on the cult of celebrity (which made good points, but was written by a man who supported a reality TV star for president).

Read Horton’s article, I think that is all I want to say on that. I do pray for those who worship Trump, that they will repent and turn back to the church. Their insularity is becoming worse and many are project. A popular talking point now is that if you attack a politician, you must be worshiping politics.

As I said above, we have no ‘God given right to vote’, but we do have a God given mandate to pray for our leaders, even if we don’t like them. So, I intend to pray for President Biden. Just as I prayed for Trump, that he would buffet the far end of his party (something God has chosen not to grant us), I will pray Biden hold the center and not give in to promoting some of the radical nonsense of the far end of the Democratic party and some of their supporters. I am interested to see how he will handle the pandemic and what he deems ‘essential’. It is somewhat moot, related to churches, as the Supreme Court has stated we cannot be closed down. I hope that he will take a more reasonable approach than other ‘blue’ state governors, those who nonsensically deemed bars, strips clubs, and casinos essential, but closed churches and elementary schools despite the latter two’s importance (I’m obviously biased for church) and ability to open safely (far more safely than the former three).

I suppose that is it for now. As always this was longer than I anticipated. I’ll try to do better next time. Though, to give you some insight on the future of this blog, there may be no next time. Almost certainly this is my last ‘political’ or current event post. I intend to post one more book review and then a reading challenge or year in review type post. Then it may be the end of MMT. I’ve spent over six years meandering through topics, listlessly posting with various frequency, I believe it may be coming to an end. I am working on another project that will likely launch early next year. With that, I don’t know what this may become. Perhaps just book reviews and long form thoughts on theological or Biblical studies, or perhaps shuttered entirely. Stay tuned for more, as I (as always) don’t even know what I’m doing yet. As always, thanks for playing along.

Covid Thoughts – Family Back to Church

Our church first opened back up to people, with limits, masks, no childcare back on Father’s Day this year, but as of November 1, we are back with childcare. Without childcare, we were unable to go together, as we can’t sit for an hour and half with a five year old and two 18 month olds. We still have limitations for service, and only a small number of kids in each classroom. I believe the toddler class is limited to five or seven, and I need two slots, so I’m usually pretty quick to sign up. I don’t think any of the classes have been full yet, neither has the service.

I think that is good, because I know people are being cautious, but I am also concerned that some people are just contented to stay home, or are being lazy. I know this is case for some, they have told me, however, there is more of the worrying trend of people sitting back and watching our service (or finding new, better services) while not meeting together as a body anymore.

It was significant for me the first day I went back on Father’s Day, and then again to finally sit with Mrs. MMT during the sermon, but not communion as she was leading worship that day. However, the two rows behind me were people from our community group. We often sit together or relatively close in normal times (the couple directly behind us typically sits with us, in the same row, back when that was a thing). So, there was an emotionally aspect two it, be able to be normalish and ‘together.’ Last week Mrs. MMT and I were able to take communion together for the first time since March.

This past Sunday, and this upcoming one, we were actually the people to do the scanning and checking in of kids. We take everyone’s temp (though this hasn’t been shown to be necessarily effective), which is pretty funny. In one case a friend of ours and her two daughters had the exact same temperature. It was more enjoyable than we thought, because we were able to talk with almost everyone who came in. Right now, we are not allowing people to linger and talk in the lobby, and ushers walk people back and forth to their seats.

So, we take temperatures, as people how they are doing, Sprout was actually the one handing out the stickers (for names/identifications). The nuggets were there, they didn’t help, but people thought they were cute and hadn’t seen them in months, so that was cool. We wore gloves, and of course all people wore masks, even kids from three and above.

It was just a sign of the times, I’d squat down to take a temperature and a three year old would move their hair back and they would be wearing little Disney or superhero masks. The masks didn’t seem to bother them, the only people that seem to struggle are 50-70 year old men. One of whom was told a few weeks ago he would have to wear one and hasn’t come back since. I hope he will repent and drop his idolatry soon and return.

What has also been fortunate is that they weather has been great, not particularly warm or cold since the beginning of October and very few days of rain (though when it has rained, it has poured, or worse such as when the tropical storm came through and schools were closed, which was the most 2020 thing of 2020), so they kids are able to play outside and when service is over everyone can stand outside (distanced) and talk/catch up.

I think it is important for kids to be able to see each other and have that social contact. Our church draws people from three or four counties, so the schools are doing different things. I think it is ridiculous that schools are closed but bars and restaurants are open. Where are our priorities? Even more idiotic is Nevada, apparently there, casinos are open but churches have to remain closed, a policy so dumbfounding that it actually make Fox News look credible.

Luckily where I am, school and churches are open (as is everything else) and it seems many people are taking precautions and doing the right thing. I feel very good about the way things are handled at our church. We intend to keep attending until either conditions (which are worsening every day) or executive order takes the childcare option away.

Covid Thoughts: Misc. 1

Recently I started writing down thoughts and events that are happening during the Pandemic. Then I read a story at the NY Times about Why You Should Start a Coronavirus Diary. So, I’m breaking out a little of what I had written into categories and then expanding a bit. I usually write book reviews, or try to have solid content on Theology or Biblical Studies, or even occasionally wade into how I think a Biblical Worldview should influence political thought, but I had never really thought about just writing down in Journal format (with one exception). This is somewhat ironic, as the word blog is a portmanteau of Web and Log (diary).

I’m a putting it all into one word doc and saving maybe for my future grandkids or something, to understand the day to day, from our families view, of what life is like right now. I’m posting it here, in case anyone else finds it interesting or relates. We are also interviewing Sprout in video form, maybe for her grandkids, so she can say in her own words what life is like dealing with the ‘sickness’. I was fixing our neighbors fence about an hour ago and she told me the world is no fun right now. Obviously, I won’t post a video of her here, but I’d recommend if you haven’t heard of that idea yet, to record a few quick thoughts of your kids, or even yourself, you should give it a try.

I shared recently what it was like trying to find rhythm, what Sundays and at home worship looked like, about spending time with my daughter (there is also a follow up if you want to hear her playlist), the inexplicably controversial idea of wearing a mask, and the experience of grocery shopping.

I had planned to do a ‘Misc’ when all of this was over, or winding down, which I had hoped would be mid summer, but things are only getting worse and it seems all the work we did in spring has been wasted with our hasty ‘re-opening’, making all the early economic damage for naught. So, I figured I’d go ahead and list a few short thoughts as they come.

  • We finally know someone personally who has Covid. Some time early last week a friend of mine from church, and member of the community group I lead, woke up with the common symptoms and went to get tested. He has not yet heard his results. A few days later, his wife became sick. Interestingly, her results are already back, and she tested positive. He tells me it was much worse than any flu and that his was considered moderate, especially for his age group (late 50’s).
  • I went to church on Father’s Day. It was odd, but good. The worship leader was hit with come emotion to actually hear responses during the call to worship. I counted about 40 people in the room (it holds about 450 and we limited it to 75 people, all the chairs in ‘pods’ and everyone was required to wear masks). There was no childcare, so it was mainly people with older kids (teen+). Only one of the elders (because they are old). So, maybe only one person my age, and he was alone, as was the elder in attendance, and we were the only three to come alone. I had expected to see more fathers there.
  • We’ve been gone the previous two Sunday’s visiting Mrs. MMT’s family, but I go back again this Sunday to run sound (if not, she would have gone). With cases spiking, I wonder what attendance will look like.
  • The trip was nice, everyone quarantined so that we could have a bubble with her parents and sister’s family. It was surreal, and you could almost forget everything was happening. In fact, I did. I had to make a quick run to the gas station the day before we left, and just causally walked in with no masks. Then I saw the check out area had plastic covers and the attendant was wearing a masks. Unfortunately, it made me look like one of those people, the ones that don’t wear masks because of their ‘freedom’. It was also hard to leave, there was a layer of sadness thinking about going back home, having to wear masks. I even hugged everyone, twice in some instances (typically, a head nod from across the room is sufficient physical interaction for me).
  • Schools. It is the only thing we are thinking/talking about some days. The risks are extremely low for Sprout to be infected, and still quite low for her to spread it. We are also low risks, but then we could spread to others as well. It is hard to balance with the educational/emotional/psychological impacts of her not attending in person. Or the near impossibility of doing school with her while we work (which neither of us is doing form home anymore). It is also a lonely feeling. Inexplicably, my division (eight people) her office (six) has no one with kids at home, just a few empty-nesters and mostly people who have no children. On top of that, we live in a rich area, so most of the women in our church don’t work (or at least not full-time). So, we are struggling to have anyone to talk to about two working parents during this time.
  • I wrote about rhythm early on, but a new one has been forced on us. I work in a public facility and my office is one of the most outward facing, so most of my people in the office three days a week, I’m in four, by only seven to noon, then switch to get the kids. Mrs. MMT’s boss decided that even though there was no policy requiring being in the office every day before the pandemic, now there need to be. It is wild to see just poor leadership, but not unexpected I guess. You learn a lot about who people truly are during a crisis. I’d lay it out, like I did previously, but our scheduled seem to change every week or two, and school is only three weeks away on top of the other uncertainty. Also, it seems unavoidable at this point that we will shut down again, probably in six(ish) weeks, would be my guess.

That’s it for now. I have a few more longer posts still to come, and probably another misc or two. Everyone stay safe out there and wear a mask.


BLM, Protests, and Removing Confederate Memorials

I’ve gone back and forth on whether I wanted to post something about all that is going on. However, I didn’t feel like I had much new to add to anything, and then there was the somewhat confusing message of people were maybe not supposed to write things last week. I am supportive of Black Lives Matter and the protesters (Mrs. MMT and I have been trying to figure out a way to go to one while juggling the kids), and removing Confederate names/flags/statues.

I wrote about Black Lives Matter and the police almost four years ago, so check that out if you want further thoughts from me. I also wrote about removing the Confederate Flag (with little more detail here, but that goes pretty tangential) and I would extend those thoughts to statues and base names (I didn’t even know Benning and Bragg were Confederate Generals).

I’m not sure I have much more to add, then what I’ve already written. This, again, was one reason I was hesitant to put anything up. But then a good friend of mine wrote something on his blog (it is good, go read it), so I felt I should at least do something. I think the writers at the Gospel Coalition are feeling the same way, so they wrote a short post that refers back to an older, longer one, about Confederate monuments and whether Christians should support them.

This may be naive, but this time does feel a little different. Maybe we are making some more progress and taking a few more strides. Hopefully, I won’t have to write another post in another four or five years, but I doubt it. There are still people who are in denial that there even is a problem. Think of all the officers (like Officer Karen) that keep talking about how they are being singled out, or categorized all as one group. The tone deafness of these complains is mystifying, this is basically what black people have been saying for decades. I think people noting this irony is actually helping to change some minds. Public support seems to be growing that there are more problems than we’d like to admit and we need to remove memorials. That is encouraging, but on the other hand there is often a rush to support gun laws after a dozen or so children die, but then we don’t do anything. We have to keep praying and doing what we can to move towards more equality.

Covid Thoughts: Grocery Store

Recently I started writing down thoughts and events that are happening during the Pandemic. Then I read a story at the NY Times about Why You Should Start a Coronavirus Diary. So, I’m breaking out a little of what I had written into categories and then expanding a bit. I usually write book reviews, or try to have solid content on Theology or Biblical Studies, or even occasionally wade into how I think a Biblical Worldview should influence political thought, but I had never really thought about just writing down in Journal format (with one exception). This is somewhat ironic, as the word blog is a portmanteau of Web and Log (diary).

I’m a putting it all into one word doc and saving maybe for my future grandkids or something, to understand the day to day, from our families view, of what life is like right now. I’m posting it here, in case anyone else finds it interesting or relates. We are also interviewing Sprout in video form, maybe for her grandkids, so she can say in her own words what life is like dealing with the ‘sickness’. I was fixing our neighbors fence about an hour ago and she told me the world is no fun right now. Obviously, I won’t post a video of her here, but I’d recommend if you haven’t heard of that idea yet, to record a few quick thoughts of your kids, or even yourself, you should give it a try.

I shared recently what it was like trying to find rhythm, what Sundays and at home worship looked like, about spending time with my daughter (there is also a follow up if you want to hear her playlist), and the inexplicably controversial idea of wearing a mask. Today’s entry is pretty short and to the point, the experience of grocery shopping.

20200529_084703This is me about to head to the grocery store today. Obviously, still wearing a mask, but have dropped wearing gloves as they have been shown to be unhelpful and the risk of surface contamination is must less than originally feared (this is how science work, hypothesis based on existing conditions and prior knowledge, then tested against updated data). You can also see that I have, unfortunately, not been able to get a hair cut yet.

The first drip during the pandemic was odd. We usually go to the store at the end of the week, so this was a full week of people being at home. I didn’t wear a mask, but had gloves, and when I cam back home, I took my shoes off in the garage and went straight upstairs to put my jeans and shirt in the laundry. I took a travel pack of Clorox and we also whipped everything down before putting it away.

As most of you know by know, there were massive shortages of many things, and then went a few returned, limits were placed on most. Some of the shortages or other issues we ran into:

Toilet Paper – This is the most famous of the shortage, and one that was pretty much stabilized. We were told to stay inside for two weeks, so people started buying 10 and 20 packs of paper. It took a few weeks for people to realize that they had bought nearly years worth of paper. Luckily, third party sellers (Amazon) stopped allowing people to sell them (as well as banning hand sanitizer) and most grocery stores stopped returns. As of today, which is the end of Week 10 as I’ve counted it, Aldi has had single ply packs for about three weeks, and I haven’t seen any in Publix. With one exception, and I don’t know the exact time. It was maybe Week 5 or 6, and I was there fairly early for some reason, and they were unloading all the toilet paper, I asked the guy for the biggest pack they had. He told me the limit was two, and asked if I wanted another. I told him, I didn’t want to be one of ‘those people’, but he said they fact that I cared meant I wasn’t, but that I should take another anyway, because so they would soon all be gone again. We haven’t even finished the first pack, so I feel good about that.

Baby Wipes – This might not have affected too many people, but the same jackassess who took all the toilet paper, also took a all the baby wipes. Normally, I suppose I wouldn’t care, but I happen to be quarantined with two infants, so this really started to piss me off. Luckily, as a gift, my mom bought me a giant pack (over 1,000) of wipes, and around the same time I found the toilet paper, I also found a three pack of wipes (as in three containers of 100 bound together) and grabbed two of those.

Paper Towels – This was another thing that was hoarded, and I’m not entirely sure why, unless they were back up toilet paper. All the stores were instantly out, and it wasn’t until around the time I found toilet paper did they have them again. I don’t know what normal people do, but Mrs. MMT uses paper towels like a villain from Captain Planet, so this was a huge issue for us (except it really wasn’t, we just used cloth napkins to eat and old washcloths to clean).

Hand Sanitizer/Soap/Clorox Wipes (and bleach for injecting) – This wasn’t really a big deal for us. Of course, all the stores were cleaned out instantly. People were hoarding hand sanitizer and then trying to sell it on mark up (this jackass is my favorite story). I wasn’t too worried about this, for two reasons, I read a story early on about the ridiculousness of sanitizer being empty while soap sat on the shelf (it was soon gone, but I grabbed a pack first) and we happened to have a few of the foam ones from the hospital. Also, we somewhat randomly (long story) had a few triple packs of full containers of wipes and maybe 10 travel packs.

Meat – This has been the wildest one. The first week, there was pretty much everything. It was right before St. Patrick’s, so I grabbed two corned beefs (they last a long time, I have one in there now that is use by the end of June). The next week I went, there was nothing. No meat at all, Aldi had a curtain over the section. The next week had some ground beef and dark meat chicken, so we smoked a bunch of wings. Publix was the same; this was the pattern for about a month. Close to Easter, there were a few hams, so we grabbed some of them, and pork was back, so I smoked shoulder. Still no white meat until maybe Week 8. Everything seems back to normal now, but warning of shortages(ish) are coming. The first problem was people hoarding, not it is not being able to process all the meat due to the amount of people out sick. I’ve read a few things that said we have plenty of meat, it just may not be the cuts (or not cut at all, like whole chickens) that Americans are used it. Of course, prices could always go up; which then makes all the right-wing ‘free-marketers’ want government investigations into ‘gouging’.

Bread – Most of the bread we eat comes from the Publix bakery, which seems to have no issues, at least in our area. Early on, all the sugar bread in the middle isles was gone, as were hamburger/hotdog buns. Maybe Week 3, Aldi had no bread at all, but I think that was a logistical/shipping issue. Bread hasn’t been an issue.

Frozen Fruit/Veggies – When this thing started the Nuggets were eating baby food, which for us means veggies blended up. So, I did hoard a little when it came to frozen veggies (especially whatever the ‘California mix’ was, which was cheap and they liked it) and grabbed a couple of bags of frozen fruit. Aldi always had some, but Publix until week 4 or so, was almost completely out of veggies. Have you ever been to a liberal city in a red state? People there are always quick to smugly point out that they are ‘blueberry in a tomato soup’ or something along those lines. That is kind of how it is where I live, but with it being South/Not South. The northside of this metro is basically Ohio or New Jersey. So, all frozen veggies were out except: butter beans, black eyed peas, okra, cut okra, collards. At least we were set.

Formula – When this started, we were going through about three containers of formula a week, so I’d usually grab four to have a little lead time. Sometimes Aldi only had three, so other weeks I’d get five or six. However, a few weeks in, they put a limit of two. I put four in the buggy anyway. I figured I could explain that I had two babies (show pictures if needed) and they’d understand. They did understand, and were sympathetic, but the limit is actually in the system; they literally could run the extra. It wasn’t too big a deal, I’d just hop back in line and buy the other two. Luckily, we are off formula now.


Eggs/Milk – Of formula and straight into three to four gallons a milk a week. Luckily, by this transition, there was no more limit (though Aldi, due to how good the price it, usually has a four or six limit, I don’t remember which). There was never a shortage of milk. There was a fun on eggs maybe a week or so after the run on meat. We go through two or thee dozen a week, but never had issues, except the price has almost doubled. Still cheap and easy, though.

Beans/Pasta – This one was another that had a big run, then limits, though some of the limits have now been relaxed or removed. We are usually pretty well stocked with these, especially dry beans. Legumes are a staple for us and we eat them more days than we eat meat, and always use them to supplement meat. Similarly, we make a lot of soups with beans. They are also perfect for the Nuggets. All of our kids started on butter beans and it is one of their favorites (and mine) now. Luckily, they never went out of stock, and my parents grow them, so no issues there. Dry pasta seems to be back, but fresh or specialty is still short. It is more perishable, so I wonder if this is a logistical or change in production focus situation.

Medicine – When this first hit, people really started grabbing all the Advil and Tylenol because that is what doctors where telling people to take to treat themselves at home. This wasn’t too big a deal for us, though the first few times I went to the store, everything was out, brand name and generic. The only problem we had was that all of the children’s medication was out as well. There was no Motrin and only one generic Tylenol the first time I went out. This was problematic because both of the Nuggets had ear infections.

That is about it for the weird waves of things being in and out of stock. The Nuggets transitioned to eating solid foods and out of formula since this has started. Sprout went from eating two meal a day at school to all at home and likewise Mrs. MMT went from having business lunches almost every day, to eating them all at home. People often look at me like I am hoard, due to what feeding a family of five three meals a day, seven days a week looks like.

I’ll have only one pack of chicken, but four gallons of milk, three to four dozen eggs, three to four bunches of bananas (breakfast for the Nuggets, good for PB&J for Sprout), three to four bags of grapes (just because Mrs. MMT is crazy), and usually a 10 pound bag of potatoes, among other various things.

I admit I was nervous at first, and did try to load up our freezer. Then for the first maybe four or five weeks, I’d buy thinking in terms of having food for two weeks, but go every week, that way we had some lag time, just in case. I also doubled our supply of dry and canned beans. Things seem generally normal now, and I’m not too worried. I think the food supply has stabilized, and the hoarding/rush buying has stopped. I’m sure there will be blips and other issues over the next few weeks/months. I stopped taking a list around Week 3, because meals would just be whatever they had, but things are normalized enough now, that I’ll probably take one next week.

Somewhat related, the liquor store was always full; despite all the jokes wondering why there was a run on toilet paper but now booze when we were now all stuck with our wife and kids all day long. The clerks would make jokes about needing to see ID, despite the fact that I was wearing a mask. In my ID, I’m clean shaven with also buzzed hair. My hair now is easily over 6 inches long and I have a beard, which I didn’t trim for the first 6 weeks, so I pulled down my mask once and they guy agreed he wouldn’t recognize me either way. One of the Publix people appreciated me being willingly to pull down the mask, he obviously had been fighting too many people about it. Twice at Aldi, I was told they ‘knew’ I was old enough (mid-30’s, so that’s fair), but I asked why. One told me because I laid the wine bottle down on the conveyor belt (instead of up, which falls) and the other because I made a dad joke. I thought that was pretty funny.


This was before I received any proper masks (I use this for fishing), still used gloves and a grocery list, and, of course, before my hair was too crazy. It was really been an odd time.