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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

O Holy Night

 

Picture of Michael Crawford singing O Holy Night in The Lost Christmas Eve with Trans-Siberian Orchestra 1993.

My all-time favorite Christmas Carol is O Holy Night.

I grew up listening to Christmas songs on a console stereo the size of a small piano. It had turntable, record changer so you could stack five or six albums at a time and AM/FM radio. 

Dad would load it up and during the evenings or on Sunday morning we'd listen to Christian Music before leaving for church. During the holidays we'd listen to Christmas Carols. With grandparents who owned a record store, and for a time after he mustered out of the marines, Dad worked there. Mom grew up working in the store. We had lots of records 45's and LP's.

Of all the Christmas songs, not all are Carols, Frosty the Snowman is a winter song, O Holy Night is by far my favorite. What Child is This comes a close second.  

George Beverly Shay and Tennessee Earnie Ford were my favorite singers for a long long time. A lot of women like Karen Carpenter, Anne Murray, Kathy Lee Gifford, Barbra Streisand and others sing it on albums we listen to, but they don't have the deep resonance that the male voice lends to the song, in my not so humble opinion.

That is until we watched on PBS a Christmas presentation of The Lost Christmas Eve. Ozzie Davis narrated the story, and a number of performers sang songs. then Michale Crawford sang O Holy Night.

Bear with me here, my wife is a huge Barbra Streisand fan. We got her duets album where she sang Music of the Night with Michael Crawford. When he hit the highest note in that song I was totally amazed at how pure and effortless it was. Wow! So, I'd heard him sing before and knew just how good he was.

That didn't prepare me for his performance on O Holy Night. I preferred it sung by a base voice, he's a tenor. He left me in slack jaw amazement. 

For twenty years I tried to see that show again, and it never came back on, or I missed it. I tried with I-tunes and Amazon music, nada.

I'm now on Spotify and he has an amazing Christmas album with O Holy Night. I tried the U-tube videos of his performance online and they are unavailable, best I could do was a picture.

I also tried to sing along with him. He starts at a low base and rises to the rafters. I just finished a cantata with fairly high notes for bases so I thought I might stay up with him. I did until he went for the rafters on the last few notes. I had to cheat and go falsetto. Somehow sounding like a chipmunk doesn't do the song credit. He is amazing.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Father of Oceanography

 


Statue of Matthew Fontaine Maury. Those holding up the globe represent all those who perished on the seas before the Sailing charts were produced under Maury's command of the National Observatory. Maury is seated in civilian dress, his right hand on the Bible, his left hand on sailing charts he produced. The inscription underneath reads: Pathfinder of the Seas.






Article by Patrick Prescott

Anne the Vegan posted an article about why the Confederate statues were taken down in Richmond, Va. She mentioned that they all looked alike glorifying Generals like Lee, Jackson and others. All on horses in full uniform. She has good arguments for why this was necessary, and I don't disagree up to a point. 

 I responded that the Mayor of Richmond removed a statue of former confederate, who was not a General, was not erected in the 1950's by the daughters of the Confederacy, not on a horse and though a Naval Commander his statue was not in uniform. The statue was erected in 1929 funded by his grandchildren.

In her reply, Anne the Vegan agreed with my concerns.

On July 2, 2020, the mayor of Richmond ordered the removal of a statue of Maury erected in 1929 on Richmond's Monument Avenue. The mayor used his emergency powers to bypass a state-mandated review process, calling the statue a "severe, immediate and growing threat to public safety."

(Wikipedia)

Matthew Fontain Maury was a scientist. He never owned a slave. He was given command of the National Observatory in District of Columbia where he started compiling over a hundred years of ships logs from all Naval ships that were molding and gathering dust using them to start compiling all the data, they contained to create sailing charts. In 1848 when the first charts were released not to just U.S. Naval ships, but all sailing ships for free, if those ships merchant and military if they would fill out the forms that came with them and return them to the Observatory to keep the charts current.


These are the accomplishments of Matthew Fontaine Maury. 

 1. Father of Oceanography.

2. Father of Meteorology.

3. Father of Physical Geography.

4. Compiled the first comprehensive study of the ocean currents, wind, weather, temperature, animal and plant life, depths; the Gulf Stream; the effects of currents on weather.

5. Created the first scientifically detailed charts of all the world’s oceans and wind currents used by all military and merchant shipping from their introduction in 1848.

6. His study of the Atlantic Ocean’s depth made the telegraph cable connecting the United States with Europe possible.

7. In the 1830’s his articles in magazines criticizing certain problems in the Navy led to Congress to create the Naval Academy.

8. He published the Physical Geography of the Sea (1855). A textbook translated into numerous languages and used by most navies of the world in the 19th century. It was used at Annapolis until the 1920’s.

9. By 1858 Maury had anywhere from 137,500 to 186,000 (the numbers varied by source) vessels from most maritime countries gathering data to record weather. This created the largest fleet to act in concert in history. It was the first time the United States led in a branch of science.

10. He revolutionized naval defenses by perfecting floating mines and electric torpedo still in use today.

Why would a statue of a man with these accomplishments be a "severe, immediate and growing threat to public safety?"

This prompted me to write a fictionalized novel, there are plenty of biographies one more is not needed.




Patrick Prescott is a retired public-school teacher and author of: Optimus: Praetorian Guard, I Maury: The Life and Times of a Rebel, Human Sacrifices, The Fan Plan Tribology, Three Medieval Battles and others in e-books and paperbacks on Amazon.com.



Thursday, December 14, 2023

WC:121423 A day late


 Sorry, this is a day late. The question is: Gifts for people who are hard to shop for.

With my grandchildren, they live in another city, and we don't see them very often and don't have a clue. We give gift cards. Same for my son. About all we know of our eldest grandson is that he's in the Marines and stationed in Japan.

My daughter lives with us and it's giving her a spending limit as we go to Hobby Lobby. She is a crafty person that makes jewelry, crochets, knits, and does plastic canvas.

For my wife we set a spending limit and then go to the mall, and she buys what she wants, and I do the same.


Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Three Good Things....

 

Three Good Things That Came from The Reign of Bad King John

 Patrick Prescott

 History has a tendency to focus on the positive results of rulers. Usually conquests, peace and prosperity, founding a dynasty and so on. In some instances, history is made by failure.

In English history one of the most ruinous monarchs was King John. No need to affix a numeral, there’s only been one and as far as the English are concerned that was one too many. For centuries they’ve wished that Eleanor of Aquitaine had a headache that night.

There is not much positive that can be said for this king.

1.    He abducted his wife, who was on her way to be married to a powerful noble.

2.    He killed his nephew, Arthur, son of his deceased older brother (the rightful heir). Crowning himself king.

3.    In response most of the nobles of Normandy, Brittany, and other parts of the Angevine Empire turned their allegiance to the King of France and in lightning speed all but the Aquitaine was lost.

4.    The Pope excommunicated John for the murder of Arthur placing all his lands under an interdict so they could not take the Holy Sacrament or give confession.

5.    By becoming king, his moniker was changed from Lackland to Soft sword.

 John naturally wanted to reclaim what he lost and that would take money. With most of his tax base gone John was forced to raise taxes on the island.

1.    After much abuse the nobles revolted.

2.    He died with a French army ravaging his lands aided by his rebellious nobles.

3.    He left an infant son which would cause future civil wars.

4.    His son, Henry III was known as the Weathercock King. Whoever had him in possession ruled in his name.

5.    John was a rather pathetic ruler. He failed at everything he tried.

 Let’s look now at the positives that came from the reign Bad King John.

 1.    He unified the crown with the Island. John is the first Norman king to be buried in England. From William I to Richard I, even his mother Eleanor all are buried in France. From this time on the monarch is truly the king of England.

2.    John created the English Navy. He wanted to retake the land he lost and started building a navy needed to transport troops across the channel.  Rule Britania, Britania rules the waves was started by John Soft Sword.

3.    The Magna Charta. The nobles made John sign a document placing the king under the rule of law. It specified what rights the nobles had under feudal law the most important being trial by a jury of peers.

The Magna Charta didn’t have much impact on English law until Charles I was executed, and the English Bill of Rights was enacted, but both were based on the Magna Charta’s premise that the monarch was under the law not is the law.

It was the Magna Charta and the English Bill of Rights that gave the justification for the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence.

 Patrick Prescott is a retired public-school teacher and author of: Optimus: Praetorian Guard, I Maury: The Life and Times of a Rebel, Human Sacrifices, The Fan Plan Tribology, Three Medieval Battles and others in e-books and paperbacks on Amazon.com.


Friday, December 08, 2023

Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare

 

Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare

Patrick Prescott

 

Since brevity is the sole of wit, therefore I will be brief. From the play Hamlet.

I am a huge Shakespeare buff and a huge Isaac Asimov fan. If I went any further, I’d be writing a dissertation.

I asked the librarian at the library I frequent if they had any books by Isaac Asimov. The library branch didn’t have any, but the kind lady said she could order some and have it delivered in a couple of days. She read me a list. What caught my attention was Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare. I could kill two birds with one stone.

It came in and I had three weeks before it had to be turned in. I checked it out on Nov. 17 this year and had to renew the check out twice. I just finished it. Not due back till Dec. 26.

Combined It’s 1,460 pages, with maps and genealogy tables. I’m a voracious reader, but my eyesight lends itself better to an e-reader where I can set the font. A book with a font of around 8 requires I use strong reading glasses and my eyes tire quickly. If I’m reading fiction I tend to skim and scan over descriptions of flora and fauna, internal debates, etc. and cut to the chase. You don’t do that with non-fiction Isaac Asimov. Every word has meaning.

The book covers all 38 plays and two narrative poems. It was published in 1970 as two volumes. Volume one comprised the Greek, Roman and Italian plays. Volume Two the English plays. The book that came in was both volumes in one book.

Asimov limits himself to explaining to the modern reader what the Elizabethan and Jacobin audiences would already know. At least the well-educated aristocracy and royalty would know them. The groundlings or common people might not understand all of it, but he put in comedy and action to keep them satisfied.

Today classical education (humanities) has been vilified. Today’s high school graduates don’t have a clue about who Jimmy Clanton was singing about in his song, Venus in Blue Jeans in the 1950’s.

 In the Greek, Roman and Italian plays both Greek and Roman gods and goddesses were characters like the play Venus and Adonis.

Here I’d like to do a sample of how Asimov enlightens the reader,

 

“Adonis is the Greek version of a Semitic vegetation god… the type of myth of which Venus and Adonis is representative…reflects the birth of agriculture.

“The Sumerians, about 2000B.C. represented the agricultural cycle with a god, Dumu-zi, who died and was resurrected; a life-and-death…celebrated each year.

“The Semitic Babylonian’s name for the vegetation god was Tammuz…

“As the Greeks and Semites gained more and more in the way of cultural interchange, the Tammuz version entered Greek mythology directly. Tammus became Adonis.

“The name shift is no mystery… The semitic term for ‘Lord” is ‘Adonai’ it was “Adonai” that was adopted by the Greeks. They added a final s… making it ‘Adonis.”

 

Asimov goes to great length to explain the Classical gods. They were more or less the same gods, but different names and nicknames. Zeus (Greek) Jupiter (Roman) Jove (nickname).

A complete primer in not only Greek and Roman mythology, but eastern and German as well.

Asimov also references the sources Shakespeare used. It might be another play he borrowed the plot from and improved on it or wrote it on demand by a wealthy patron. The historical plays Asimov cited the Bard’s source, such as Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae (story of the British Kings), Plutarch’s Lives for Julius Caesar and Anthony and Cleopatra. The Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus for his History of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden in AD1200. For English history he refers to William Camden’s History of the British Isles, 1586 and Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland 1577.

 Macbeth, he wrote to please King James IV of Scotland and James I of England. It celebrated the King’s Scottish ancestry, and his fascination with witches.

In the plays Henry IV part one and Henry IV part two, Shakespeare inserted a fictitious character named Falstaff. He was the comic relief and carousing buddy of young Prince Hal. Before he could write Henry V, legend has it that Queen Elizabeth enjoyed the character and wanted Shakespeare to write another play on him. He wrote the Merry Wives of Windsor before Henry V.

One of Shakespeare’s benefactor and close friend was Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter. The man led a rebellion against Elizabeth and was executed. This had a direct impact on Shakespeare’s opinion on war and palace intrigue. He walked a fine line of keeping both Elizabeth and James happy, but still sneaking in his thoughts. Falstaff’s soliloquy in Henry IV part one is an example:

Falstaff feigns death during the battle. After Prince Hal kills Hot Spur and the fighting leaves. He stabs the dead body so he can claim the prize and then says to the audience. “What is valor? It is air. Tis discretion the better part of valor be.”

Shakespeare covers the Hundred Years War from Richard II to Richard III nine plays. We have the same problem today with historical movies in that that people and time don’t match reality. Asimov fills in the gaps when the play has people on stage who haven’t been born yet or are dead or in another country. He gives a graduate level course on all that’s happening in France and England for the whole 15th century. It was heaven to read it.

I don’t expect anyone to rush to the nearest library and ask to borrow a copy, alas that’s the only place you may or may not find it. Amazon does have a copy for $164.

For me I gained insight and appreciation for Shakespeare that I didn’t have before, no matter how much I love watching the movies and going to a play if one is available. Isaac Asimov in you’re one of those thousands of witnesses that surround us I want to thank you for this endeavor on your part.

I'm finished on Asimov so you can stop reading if you want. 

The one thing that made me able to understand Shakespeare and enjoy his plays in 9th grade is I was raised in church when the King James Version of the Bible was about the only one available for protestants. Later the Revised Standard and American Standard came out, and in the 60's, 70's up to today all kinds of different interpretations are available.

Thee, thou, ye and other anachronisms I grew up understanding. Some preachers even preached using them. I prefer the New American Standard Version as it's the closest to a pure translation, for easy reading I enjoy The Message, but it's not for serious study.

I discovered while at Seminary in one class we had a list for the semester of all the scripture verses we would be tested on, and they were to be memorized. There was no way I could memorize out of NASV. KJV was purposely written in pre-printing press language or poetically. By the time of King James the common language became more prose than poetry. People actually used to talk like that so they could remember what was said, especially when the town crier read the latest laws or taxes, which they only read aloud once, and the people were required to obey them. 


Friday, December 01, 2023

Ten Years a Diabetic

 




I was diagnosed with diabetes ten years ago. I started going through the ritual every day of testing my blood three times a day when waking and two hours after a meal. I'm also taking pills for controlling blood sugar, but it's a disease that is gradual. Five years in, I started on insulin. I gradually got up to 120mg a day, why my weight went up so high. 

Then daily injections of Victosa, which helped some. 

TV started advertising Ozempic. It's only once a week injection and supposed to help lose weight. I had to wait two years before Medicare would cover it.

I weighed 275 lbs. when I started taking Ozempic. In three months, I was down to 235. It was like having a mild case of motion sickness. My stomach was queasy all the time. I could skip breakfast. Anything fatty turned my stomach. Bacon, sausage, pulled pork I grew nauseous at the smell. Chicken, turkey, hamburger in a small amount was okay. Once I went from eating lunch at noon and didn't eat again until the next day at noon. The longest I've ever fasted.

Then my body adjusted. I could get by with a couple of slices of bacon and patty sausage, but still not pulled pork, and I used to love a good barbecue pulled pork sandwich.

My blood sugar skyrocketed the first six months because he had me stop taking Lantus. He had me go back on Lantus for only 30mg a day. Blood sugar leveled off, so I was usually around 130 to 160 in the morning.

My weight went back to between 245 and 255 but most of the time was 250. This is why Ozempic is not a weight loss drug. It helps with your weight until the body adjusts to it. Then it doesn't work for that. It does help keep blood sugar down.

My doctor suggested Rybelsus. It's a daily pill, and he said it was the pill form of Ozempic. Hey not having to remember to take an injection sounded good. The major drawback of Rybelsus is you have to wait 30 minutes after taking it before being able to eat or drink. It worked for three months for my blood sugar but didn't help with my weight. I got up to 260. Then I needed to increase insulin to 50 mg.

For two years Ozempic has made national news. Even though the drug states it's not for obesity, doctors have been prescribing it for overweight patients. I read that they're still working on Ozempic in pill form and that Rybelsus is not as affective. The doctor lied.

I got a new doctor and I asked to go back on Ozempic, this past August. He complied and it took until September before I could get any. A three-month supply. My weight went down again and I'm not eating as much, and my blood sugar has decreased. I was taking 50mg of Lantus a night and finding that in the morning I was around 110 to 120, then it started to drop to under a 100 and one morning it was 69. I had to take glucose tablets to get me to the kitchen for some orange juice.

I cut down to 30mg of Lantus and things have balanced out. If my blood sugar is over 230 at bedtime, I'll take 50mg if it's under that I take 30. I can regulate it this way. 

When I was down to my last pen, I ordered a refill. The local pharmacy didn't know if they could get it. It took three weeks to get the first three-month supply and they might not get any for a month or more. 

I hate having to go to Express Scripts mail order, but I thought they would be able to get it. I ordered it and they e-mailed back they didn't have it in stock and to transfer the prescription elsewhere, then charged me 23 cents to deny my request.

I had to get the doctor to transfer the prescription back to my local pharmacy and just as I was about to run out and forced to go back to Rybelsus (still have some left-over from before) They got one pen. Three pens are $120 on my insurance. Getting one pen was 45. Great getting it one month at a time runs up the cost from 120 to 135, if I can get it. I've got one week on this pen and the pharmacy still doesn't know when they'll get another one.

To add insult to injury the news has reported that not only are primary care doctors prescribing Ozempic for obesity, but so are psychiatrists. Yesterday I read that plastic surgeons are prescribing it.

I'm waiting for insurance companies to cry out for cutting the time for a drug to go from prescription to over the counter like they did for Prilosec and Claritin. Fat chance (pun intended,)

BTW, I did get my doctor to prescribe the Freestyle blood testing sensors. I got 16 weeks of sensors for free, only had to buy the reader for 87 bucks. It was great. I could check my blood sugar any time, like right before I am deciding what to eat and knowing what I can get away with or go for the salad.

When it came time to reorder the sensors cost $495. There's a "donut hole" in Medicare. Back to sticking my fingers again.

  

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

WC112923: Hate or like True Crime and Why.


 
Today's Wednesday challenge is if I like or hate true crime stories.

I've only read one true crime story. Helter Skelter, by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry.

I read it while in college and it gave me lifelong insights into the legal system.

Bugliosi was the lead prosecutor against Charles Manson. He recounts the police investigation, how the old-time cops didn't think they needed to preserve evidence and bungled a lot of it.

After years of watching CSI and NCIS the general public has a pretty good idea of the importance of gathering all the evidence they can find and basing their findings off of what they have.

Back in this time scientific evidence was in its infancy. Silly since it had been in novel form since Edgar Allen Poe's Murders in the Rue Morgue and all the Sherlock Holme books and movies.

What I learned from the book and has still stayed with me fifty years since reading it was:

1. The importance of obtaining evidence, chain of possession, and keeping it safe.

2. Analysis of the evidence. They didn't have DNA at that time, but fingerprints and blood type gave clues. I remember that a boy found the gun and after watching a number of TV shows and movies knew not to touch the gun and picked it up with a stick. When he gave it to the police officer, he grabbed it with his hands on the barrel ruining anything they might have gotten from it. They knew the killers drove away from the Polanski home and which way they went. They knew they took off their clothes and threw them out of the car. They reenacted doing this and then found the clothes. 

3. Reconstructing the crime scene by using the evidence.

4. Building a hypothesis of what happened. 

5.Canvasing the area and interviewing all who knew them and who might have wanted to harm the victims. This led to the house the Polanski's lived in having been owned by Doris Day's son, and when she visited her son there saw Charles Manson and he gave her the creeps. Her son turned Manson down on recording Manson's music, giving him motive.  

6. Jail house snitches. None of the evidence at the scene pointed directly to any of the Manson Family. The same with the Labianca's. It was the women of the family while in jail on other charges that broke the case open.

7. The most important part of prosecuting Manson was to psychoanalyze him. What was his motive. Without motive, no case. Once the case was handed over to Bugliosi he had to analyze the evidence and when it pointed to Manson then getting into Manson's head and understanding what and why he was always in prison and what happened when he got out. Stephen King's The Shawshank Redemption focuses on inmates becoming "institutionalized." Manson whenever he was released, committed an even worse federal crime so he would get right back in.

8. The importance in understanding the evidence and finding motive took psychology. That criminology and psychology go hand in hand in establishing proof for conviction.

9.  The pitfalls of the trial. The different tactics the defense attorney used to try and get his clients acquitted.

10. While teaching both psychology and high school law this book and showing the documentary based on it opened up my students' eyes. It made me a better teacher.


I have never felt compelled to read or watch any true crime books or shows since. I'm content with fictional ones.


Monday, November 27, 2023

The Importance of the Book of Hebrews

 

Patrick Prescott

The Importance of the Book of Hebrews

Scripture taken from:

NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. 


I've read articles on Medium attacking evangelicals for their hypocrisy on the insistence of forcing the law of Moses and Leviticus even Deuteronomy on the masses while skipping over other parts of Mosaic law. Yes, they are hypocrites just as Jesus called the pharisees hypocrites. 

They do seem to find loopholes as all legalese assholes do. How they justify not following Levitical dietary laws,

"We can eat pork because in the book of Acts Peter was given a vision of all kinds of unclean animals and food and told to eat. When he refused the voice said, 'Whatever God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy." Ch 10:15'".

Peter didn't start eating pork, he went to someone considered unholy and unclean. A gentile, one Cornelius a Roman Centurian.

Now if that's a loophole to eat pork and shrimp and lobster, why don't they apply it to humans like Peter did with Cornelius. Doesn't that apply to all people even those who are different with alternative lifestyles? 

Evangelicals are today's Judaizers.

I've concluded that those who call themselves Christians, but insist we follow Levitical law are what Paul fought against, those he called Judaizers. The one's insisting gentiles who become believers must be circumcised and follow dietary laws. Only the ones today dropped circumcision and dietary laws and pick and choose which laws we have to obey and those we can ignore.

They also equate their faith as part of national origin. Christian Nationalism and just like with Israel if we violate these laws God will wreak havoc on us for our sins.

Jesus didn't come to save Israel. It was conquered and the Jews dispersed. He didn't come to destroy Rome. His followers converted so many to His name that the great empire was won over.

Judaizers still believe in the God of Sainai not the God of Zion. The book of Hebrews explains this. 


The Importance of Hebrews 

Martin Luther once said, "Who wrote Hebrews? Only God knows."

Whoever wrote it the book should be read by all and some of its passages should be memorized as faithfully as John 3:16.

The book opens in Ch 1 vs 1: that God "spoke long ago in the prophets... in His Son..."

It then describes His Son's (Jesus) birth, how all the angles worship him, that in vs 10: "Thou Lord, IN THE BEGINNING DIDST LAY THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH... SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE THINE ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR THY FEET"

Ch 2 goes on with what Jesus's mission was, how he was made lower than the angels and it was God's plan.

It is chapter 3 that's important. Jesus is our high priest under the order of Melchizedek. 

The priesthood of Aaron is the Old Covenant or contract between God and Israel.

The priesthood of Melchizedek is the new covenant between God and everyone, not just one people or nation.  God changed the worship from offering sacrifice for the remission of sin in the Temple; to Jesus being the sacrifice and all who believe are forgiven, mercy is not needed.

Under the priesthood of Aaron and the Temple, on the day of atonement, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies to offer a sacrifice on the altar under the solid gold "Mercy Seat" where on that day and time God would sit on the seat and give mercy to the whole nation.

With Jesus as our sacrifice there is no Holy of Holies or mercy seat. The Holy Spirit of God indwells us individually, and we each become the Temple of God. We are forgiven of our sins, there is no need for a mercy seat. It has nothing to do with your nationality or the country where you live.

This is the difference between obedience to the law and temple sacrifice to Jesus being our sacrifice and forgiveness of our sins by the blood of Christ.

A better Covenant 

Ch. 8 vs 6 "but now He has obtained a more excellent ministry by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.

Vs 7 begins quoting Jerimiah 31:31-34 where God promises the prophet that there shall be a new covenant.

Ch 9 explains the difference between the old tabernacle (temple) and the new tabernacle with Christ as high priest.

In vs 16 he requotes Jeremiah 31:33: "I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND UPON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,"

   "AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE."

Vs 18 sums it up, "Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin."

I tend to include a qualifying word here, not biblical, "there is no longer any NEED of offering for sin.  

  VSS 26-39 gives the Hebrews, their choice. The priesthood of Aaron and the laws of Moses or the priesthood of Melchizedek and the sacrifice of Jesus. Judgement will come to those who reject Jesus.

Judaizers may call themselves Christian and claim to worship Jesus, but their belief is based on the Priesthood of Aaron and not Jesus as our high priest next to his Father and that we are now with the Holy Spirit our own "priesthood of the believer."

In chapter 11 the author leaves from the differences of priesthoods and talks about faith.

Worshiping in the temple wasn't about faith it was about obedience. The laws of Moses where about judgement and consequences only giving mercy upon offering sacrifice.

Chapter 11: starts with a definition of faith: "1. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2. For by it the men of old gained approval."

Kierkegaard, explained this as a "Leap of Faith." It's not blind faith, but a reasonable faith. Notice the word "assurance." 

The rest of the chapter is a roll call of the great men and women of faith. Some of the notables are Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, etc. Then he mentions those who were persecuted for their faith.

The climax of this list of those who lived by faith, not just obedience or because they had to because of the law comes in Ch. 12:1

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."

Notice that because we are believers we are not without sin. We are to lay aside sin because it entangles us, but it's still a part of us.

We aren't to wait for Jesus to come again, instead we have a race to run with endurance, it's not a sprint. That race if to grow in the Lord and share with others about him for the rest of our lives.

Notice to "share" is not to coerce or force others to believe like you or to conform to your ideas about how they should live.

Verses 4 through 13 discipline is mentioned. Discipline is not punishment. Today we might call it training. A successful football or basketball team must train for the sport and have the discipline to wait for the snap to be made or to control temper so as not to get a penalty. As a long-distance runner I trained long and hard covering many miles a day. At first a coach watched to make sure I didn't cut the course, but when I went to high school the coach told us what he wanted, and we went out on our own. If I cut the course the only one, I was harming was myself. 

When I attended a Baptist college there were lots of rules and regulations with varying penalties up to and including expulsion. When I graduated and went to Seminary. There were no rules like that. As I was told, "If you need rules, you need to rethink why you're here." 

Verses 14-17 advises believers to, "pursue peace with all men and the sanctification without no one will see the Lord."

Stop and think about this for a spell. Where is the peace when Christian's demand laws making it a crime for a woman to control her own body?

Are they pursuing peace when they pass laws making it a crime to love and marry someone of a different religion, color, lifestyle or mode of dress? Where is the Lord in that? Is this what Judaizers consider to be sanctification?

Vs 15 "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled."

If a church will not allow someone to worship with them because of the alternate lifestyle or color or culture or any other condition imaginable where is the "grace of God?"

Vs 16 "that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal."

Have the Judaizers sold their birthright for claiming an immoral, godless person to be God's chosen? Voting for him for president. Leaders gathering around him in the Oval Office anointing him with oil, and even forming a mob to attack the Capital building and wanted to hang the Vice President?

Sainai versus Zion

It is here from verse 18-24, that it is plain the difference between Aaron and Melchizedek, Moses and Jesus, Believers and Judaizers.

18. "For you have not come to a mountain that may be touched (physical mountain) and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind... 21. And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, "I AM FULL OF FEAR AND TREMBLING."

22. "But you have come to Mount Zion (spiritual mountain) and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels. 23. to the general assembly and the church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits or righteous men made perfect."

This is the new covenant. We live under grace. We live with the Holy Spirit to guide us. We worship a risen savior sitting at the right hand of God and there is a great cloud of witnesses with him watching down on us. Many of them our loved ones.

The Judaizers still worship the God of Sainai. They think serving God is to make everyone their servant living according to their laws and claiming it in the name of the Lord. The God of Sainai is a God of fear and not understanding how He changed. 

They are waiting for a King who has already come.

For a kingdom they are already in.

To become what they already are. 

For and age that has already come.

For victory that's already won.

The God of Zion is a God of love. The commandment of Jesus was to Love God, Love your neighbor as yourself. 

     

 





 

Monday, November 20, 2023

The Book of Romans and Hebrews

 

The Books of Romans and Hebrews

Introduction

Patrick Prescott

 

I’m a retired history/English public middle school and high school teacher. I’m not a biblical scholar. I was a lifelong Baptist, growing up in the church and have studied the Bible in Sunday School from childhood up today where I still attend a bible study class and teach one on Tuesdays. Only now in a Methodist church.

 Having lived through the takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention by the moral mafia that the SBC left me not me them. Their trying to control all believers into hating all who are different and the strict conformity of the Ten Commandments and other Levitical laws, cherry picked while discarding others that has destroyed the message of loving thy neighbor into hating the neighbor who is different.

The Methodist church I attend is an affirming church, we practice inclusion. On the wall of the sanctuary is a large rainbow. We allow worship to all regardless of race, creed, culture, or lifestyle. We have a float for the Gay Pride parade every year and a booth at the pavilion. We actively reach out in love to our neighbors.  The former pastor who began the church as inclusion has a brother who is living with a man. Our current woman pastor has a sister living with a woman. Many in the congregation have loved ones who live an alternate lifestyle and sill love them and affirm them as human beings.

For the past few years, the United Methodists have been splitting over this issue of affirming and inclusion. It seems a number of bishops are women and now openly in same sex relationships. 

There is a Book of Discipline, that is thicker than the Bible, and it forbids women pastors and homosexuality, but a previous convention voted to not uphold both of those prohibitions allowing women in the pulpit and leadership positions. A coming convention is expected to delete those prohibitions. The fireworks will surely ignite the skies over that city.

I teach a bible study class on Tuesday mornings, and it is comprised of a few men around my age some a few years younger most are older only one is not retired.

In my bible study class, some of the members are certified lay ministers or working on becoming one. I’ve looked into going through the training for CLM, but I’m too Baptist to wholeheartedly believe the liturgy that is handed down from the Church of England and copied from the Catholic Church. My beliefs are still those of the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message, though the moral mafia changed it to fit their agenda once they had control of the convention.

We’ve had much discussion the past year over the division affecting the United Methodists concerning the division over alternate lifestyles. I find using the alphabet soup for all the different groups distracting, so I’m lumping them all together as alternate lifestyles. I mean no offense.

The basis of our church choosing inclusion and affirmation of those with a different lifestyle as members of our congregation is Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 5:43, Luke 10.29, and Galatians 5:14. Summed up, Love God, love your neighbor as yourself.

John 3:16-17 reads, whoever or KJV “whosoever” believes will have everlasting life, and then in verse 17 says, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” (NASV)

Doesn’t “whosoever” mean everyone? Even those with an alternate lifestyle? Doesn't it also mean that Jesus didn't come to condemn them for what they are, but to save them too?

In our group, we call ourselves “The Wild Bunch,” About as wild as a toothless and declawed tabby, but we like the name.

What we are all agreed on is that the biggest difference between those who are choosing to stay United Methodists and those leaving is we accept everyone with love as Jesus commanded us. 

We include them in our worship, they exclude. We love, they condemn. We choose to forgive them as we have been forgiven our sins. They say they hate the sin, but love the sinner, but that’s impossible if you won’t include them as sinners the same as those churches include the angry (same as murder) and lust (same as adultery). They want to pick and choose which sin is okay and which isn’t.

They use the Ten Commandments as a hammer and the book of Leviticus an anvil to bully anyone who doesn’t think and act like them rejecting them within their fellowship.

There is one member of our group who loves to point out the fallacy of their reasoning. He cites all the laws in Leviticus that we don’t follow and then asks why don’t we follow them if we have to follow the others? 

Here are my thoughts on those questions.

There are two books in the New Testament that explain the difference between the Old Covenant or contract and the New Covenant or contract: Romans and Hebrews.

Dan Fowler has a post in Backyard Church from August 2023: Romans Explained, that is enlightening.

His explanation concerns “Prosopopeia” A debate style where you give one side’s view and then argue how it is wrong and your view is the right one. The whole book is written in this style, so don't go quoting one passage and say it's what God said, without putting it into context. It's written debate.

Example in Romans Ch. 1 Paul lists the sins of the gentiles quite detailed on their immorality, then in Ch. 2 he lists how the Jews don’t measure up to God’s standard. He condemns both gentiles and Jews as not worthy of salvation. The moral mafia somehow forgets Ch. 2. Maybe because it refutes their insistence, we follow Mosaic law and want to impose it on the whole country. 

In Ch. 3 Paul refutes this argument vs 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His Grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;…

Guess what everything Paul said about the sins of Gentiles and Jews is forgiven (justified) through God’s grace.

Later in Romans Paul elaborates on justification of faith and that there is now no condemnation. If the moral mafia would stop cherry picking what they like concerning the vices of Greeks and Romans and actually read the message of Paul’s writing the world would be a much happier place.

There is not much more for me to say about Romans that Dan Fowler hasn’t already said. This brings me to the importance of the Book of Hebrews.

That will be in my second installment.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Books by Veterans

 

It's a bit late, but I'm responding to Berthold Gambrel's blog post for Veteran's Day about reading books by veterans. I thought I'd post some books by veterans that are good reads.

A Biography of Douglas MacArthur. Fascinating reading.

The movie MacArthur (1977) starring Gregory Peck, starts with the fall of Bataan, but follows the biography from there.

One tidbit I loved. His father was General Arthur MacArthur a civil war hero. While in New Orleans after the war, he was charged with cleaning up the graft and corruption there. While investigating he was approached by some locals and offered a vast sum of money, a mansion and the use of the most expensive hooker in town. He sent in his report and asked to be transferred to another post stating, "They're getting close to my price." 


 Manchester also wrote Goodbye, Darkness. His memoire of going back to the islands where he fought in WWII years afterwards. He revisited the sights, could see the remains of ships sunk, and noticed that the U. S. forgot about them, and the Japanese had put up memorials to their fallen. 


Clavell was a POW during WWII, and this is his memoire only fictionalized. It was turned into a black and white movie starring George Seagal as the King Rat. This embarked him on his writing career which includes Tai Pan, Shogun, Noble House and others. 

Years later Steven Spielberg did a blockbuster movie, Empire of the Sun.  John Malkovich's role is strait plagiarism from King Rat.  


 

 This was Michener's memoire of fighting in WWII. Amazing how many great novelists were veterans. It was turned into a musical play and the movie had an unknown actor as part of the choir: Sean Connery. 
In another of his books he mentioned that in New Guinea, he went through a small, dusty and grimy village named Bali Hai. He liked the name and put it in his book which was then turned into a beautiful song. 
I once tried to read all of Michener's books. I gave up. I'd still be reading them and not get them all read after fifty years.





Tolkien was a veteran of WWI. It may be apocryphal, but the story is he was bet a certain amount of money that he couldn't write a story with the word "hobbit" in it. 

Like many of his fellow veterans of the trenches he was a part of the "Lost Generation," Those who lost all ideals concerning war. In the Hobbit the Battle of 5 Armies over Smog's treasure is a prime example of his disdain for warfare.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

WC111523 Criticize your favorite book, show or movie.

 


Criticize your favorite book, show or movie.

I have read The Far Pavilions numerous times. I read it over a summer when in college. Used it for a book report in World Literature. Read it again while getting a divorce and out of work. When I started teaching 7th and 8th grade, I told the story (you don't look away from kids at this age). I told it to my World History classes when covering India during the Raj. It's a marvelous book. The mini-series with Ben Cross and Amy Irving mangled the story beyond recognition.
Before the critique let me give you the story line.
Book one: Hillary Ashton Pelham-Martin is born in India. His father is an explorer charting the northern part of India. His mother miscalculates when she would deliver him as his father planned on being in a British canton when the time comes. She gives birth in a tent during a dust storm and dies of child bed fever. 
Ashton is given to a native woman who's lost her child to nurse, and she becomes his Ayah, (nanny).
They continue traveling but come down with Cholera. Only Sita and Ashton survive as she knows to not drink the water. She dresses him as a native and they travel south to the nearest cantonment. They get there just as the Sepoy mutiny breaks out and all Englishmen are being massacred.
Sita takes him back to the north to a small kingdom at the base of the Himalayas. Northern tribes in India have lighter skinned people than southern India. The mountains are called the Far Pavilions. She finds employment as a seamstress, and they get a hovel to live and survive.
Book Two: Sita and Ashok, his native name, are getting by. She kept all the papers from the caravan that document who Ashton is and buries them in the dirt floor of their home. 
The Rajah of Gulkote where they live outside the castle is celebrating the birth of a son and there is a parade with a feast prepared for the villagers. Ashok and Sita are watching when the parade comes by, and the Rajah's eldest son's horse rises up and is about to throw him. Ashok, who is working in stables, calms the horse and saves the young heir's life.
Sita and Ashok are brought into the palace, Sita becomes the ayah of a baby daughter of the Rajah, Anjuli, and Ashok becomes Lalji's playmate. 
The new son of the Rajah's is from a different mother, and she is wanting to get rid of Lalji so her son will be next in line for the throne.
Sita becomes a mother to Anjuli, who is ignored whose mother is dead, and she means nothing. 
Ashton and Anjuli become close, and they find a place in the palace overlooking the walls and look at the mountains. They dream of leaving the palace and finding a valley where they can build a home, raise sheep and goats and live in peace.
Ashok thwarts a number of attempts on Lalji's life over the next few years. 
Word comes to Ashok that those trying to kill Lalji are going to kill him as he's in the way. Friends in the palace help Sita and Ashok escape from the palace and they flee Gulkote.
Book Three: Sita and Ash start traveling south to find an English Cantonment. Sita gets ill and she gives him all the papers proving who his father is before she dies.
He travels to an English Cantonment; gives them the papers and is sent back to England to be reunited with his family. 
To cut this short he is a fish out of water in England. He makes it through his schooling and enters military service headed back to England to fight for the Raj. 
Young Ashton Pelham-Martin has something that is very valuable to the regiment. He speaks the language as a native and can blend in as a native.
He's given an assignment to escort a wedding party for two brides from one kingdom to another. He finds that one of the brides is Anjuli. He falls in love with Anjuli, delivers them to the other Rajah, sees they're married and leaves.
Then he finds out a year later that the Rajah, who was old, dies and the two Rani's he delivered will be Suttee, burned alive on the funeral pyre.
He goes back to save them but is only able to save Anjuli.
They get married, but the regiment is given orders to go to Afghanistan to establish a diplomatic mission.
In Afghanistan Ash is used as a native in Kabul, to let the mission know what's happening.
The mission is attacked and killed to the last man, but he survives as they think he's a native. 
Ash and Anjuli go to find their valley in the Far Pavilions.
This is a very involved story. It has a great love story, extended history of India, social and economic dynamics, and religious factions between Hindu, Muslim, Sikhs, and Christians.

Now the critique: When I first read the story and even most of the other times, I could read it word for word and devoured every page.
I bought a copy on Kindle. It had been quite a while since I'd read it and was looking forward to it again. I'd also become a writer and was surprised at how many errors were in it. Misspelled words, run-on sentences, that I'd never noticed. This was published in the 1920's or 30's. All copies available today are from 1978, and they didn't edit it
Most of all though, it was the lengthy descriptions of the countryside. Pages and pages of flora and fauna, describing the mountains, valleys, plateaus, clothing etc.
I found myself skipping over this stuff. I do that a lot now. Maybe I've lost the ability to appreciate long descriptions in my old age. The first time reading it I learned about the Indian subcontinent, and it was new and exciting. I still consider this to be my all-time favorite novel.        

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

WC 110823: Something you believed, but found out it wasn't true.

 


This week's challenge is something you once believed but found out wasn't true.

Let's see, there was a time I thought I made a mistake and found out I wrong.

Seriously, 

1. I once believed that God created the universe in six literal days. Then I grew up.

2. I believed Rapture Theology was how the world would end. Then one question changed my mind.

3. I didn't believe in the theory of evolution. Now I do.

4. I believed I'd never get a divorce. Then I was.

5. I believed that a college education was a way out of poverty. Today college loans make indentured servants.

6. I believed that the United States would never condone torture and the president of the United States would call it a "No brainer." It took away everything this country stands for and flushed it down the toilet.

7. I believed in the checks and balances designed in our constitution as our protection from tyranny. The Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade has declared all women as wards of the state, and they have no free will over their own bodies.

8. I believed that The Orange Toad could never do what he has done and said for the past eight years and still be leading in the polls for President. I was wrong.

9. I believed that my children would have a better future than we did growing up. With global warming will any of us have a future past 2050?

10. I believed that racism and sexism and religious wars were over. I was naive. 

11. I still believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The God of Zion, not the god of Sinai (Hebrews 12). Jesus whose commandments are to Love God, and our neighbor as ourselves. The Holy Spirit who gives comfort in our times of need. 


 

Wednesday, November 01, 2023

Double Dose of Wednesday Challenge

 


Last week the challenge was to create a holiday. I drew a blank. I enjoyed the others who thought up a new holiday, but it wasn't until Friday the inspiration hit. So here goes:

A Sadie Hawkins Day. (For those scratching their heads, this is where the boy's line up and the girls chase after them and when the boy is tagged, and they get married. From the comics Lil' Abner.

Here's my take: In each town or city all boys known as "incels" or involuntary celibate still living in their mother's basement at 25; line up and wait for the gun to sound.

All women aged 25 who are still virgins waiting to get married; line up a hundred yards behind the men and at the sound of the gun they start chasing the men. When they tag one, she then escorts her fiancĂ© to a waiting minister or priest who then performs the ceremony.

The woman has the right to an annulment in the first six months for any reason. The man must wait for six months if he wants a divorce.

Now today's challenge: When I was in college, I was compared to John Denver, this was when I first started wearing glasses. I could sing along with Annie's Song and sound like him as well. Others said I reminded them of Spock on Star Trek. I do not have pointed ears!