Monday, May 21, 2018

Mark Galli: Demonstrating Both Ignorance and Stupidity

In a recent Christianity Today article, editor in chief Mark Galli wrote about gun violence.  In this he said:

“So while we support the legitimacy of owning guns, given the violence of our land and God’s hatred of violence, we also see a need to regulate the purchase and use of guns. In particular, we Christians should work to ban weapons whose main purpose is to kill a lot of people very quickly, to keep guns in general out of the hands of unstable personalities, and to ensure that everyone who buys and owns guns can demonstrate they know how to use and store them safely.”

Galli would do well to know something about guns before saying things that make him sound stupid.  Having just reviewed the statistic showing that past “regulation” of guns had no significant effect on gun violence, he still proposes to “regulate.”  He supports the “legitimacy” of owning guns, but has little to say about the right to both own and carry firearms that the “law of the land” declares “shall not be infringed.”  I suppose he supports obeying the law, except when it interferes with his plans to “regulate” something he doesn’t like.

He urges Christians to “work to ban weapons whose main purpose is to kill a lot of people very quickly.”  In the most recent school shooting, a shotgun and a revolver were used.  So exactly which guns have a “main purpose” to “kill a lot of people very quickly”?  Most shotguns would be very useful for killing a lot of people very quickly if some evil person decided to put one to that use.  So does he want Christians to work to ban shotguns?  He leaves that matter very vague, perhaps because he has no idea what he is talking about.

He want gun owners to be required to “demonstrate they know how to use and store guns safely” - presumably demonstrate this to the state.  What, exactly, does this mean?  Must a gun owner somehow prove to the state that he has a certain level of marksmanship before he can even own a gun?  How does one do that without owning one?

What government agency will decide if you are storing your guns “safely” or not?  Must everyone, even people with no children in the house, own a certain kind of gun safe?  Will government inspectors visit the homes of all gun owners (without regard to Fourth Amendment rights, of course) to make sure guns are “stored safely”?  Must all legally-owned guns be locked away so they cannot be easily used in case of a home invasion?  Again, Galli is very vague, hinting that he has no idea what he is talking about.

If we take Galli’s approach, why shouldn’t Christianity Today be subject to government preemptive rules to make sure they do not abuse their First Amendment rights?  Galli says elsewhere that since we regulate driving, we should regulate gun rights.  So why should we not regulate free speech rights?  After all, if we allow Galli to say whatever he wants, he might say something stupid - as he does in this article!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Oh No! It’s Some Cotton!

A recent article has to be in the top examples of the everything-is-offensive culture.  In the Tennessean came this article:  “Lipscomb president apologizes for cotton stalk centerpieces

According to Randy Lowry, Lipscomb president, “Last night we invited Lipscomb African American students to our home for dinner to discuss their experiences at Lipscomb. Several students shared with me their concern about the material used for centerpieces which contained stalks of cotton.”

Stalks of cotton are now offensive?  No doubt the thought is that cotton was a main crop in the days of the slave-holding south.  But if you are going to be offended by the existence of cotton - stalks, balls, take your pick of the cotton plant – then it might be time to admit that some people just want to find an excuse, no, a pretense, for “offense.”

To jump to everyone’s favorite, stupid example in some of these inane discussions, I notice that every swastika I have ever seen has many right angles.  Should we now expect anyone with any hint of Jewish ancestry to be offended by right angles?

It is time to stop the idiotic cowering every time someone claims to be “offended.”  It is one thing when people actually attempt to be offensive.  It is quite something else when people scrounge, scrape, and dig up something at which they can make the pretense of offense.

If Randy Lowry had any guts or the hint of a backbone (metaphorically speaking, of course) he would politely tell these students, “I am sorry you are so easily offended by something that should not be offensive to any sensible person.  I am also sorry to say that if you lack the sense not to be offended by a cotton centerpiece, you might not be ready for college.  In fact, you might not be ready to function in the world at all.”

Someday sensible people are going to grow weary of this idiocy.  We can only hope that when that time comes, there are enough sensible people left to make a difference.

I hope that someday, at least in the not-too-distant future, the kind of idiocy we are now enduring will come to an end.  But my hope is very slim.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

“Note to employees from [Google] CEO Sundar Pichai” - Insanity or Dishonesty?


The inclusive/diversity mind set is very difficult to decipher.  That is because it contains a logical inconsistency.  On the one hand is the desire to include all viewpoints and people.  On the hand is the fact that there are viewpoints that are not as “inclusive and diverse” as you would like them to be.  The advocates of (their version, at least) inclusivity and diversity could avoid falling into insanity by simply being inclusive enough to tolerate even those who don’t completely agree with their views of inclusion and diversity.  It seems that they cannot, but they are loath to admit this.

That is because they are almost always inclusion and diversity hypocrites.  This has been very obvious for a long time, but we see it again in the incident of the software engineer fired by Google after expressing his views about Google’s internal “culture.”

Of course, a private company should be able to hire and fire as desired, or at least I think so.  But it appears that the Google empire has for some time prided itself on being inclusive and diverse.  It just couldn’t “swallow” an employee who held and expressed ideas that did not comport with the views of Google.

The Google CEO could openly admit this.  He could just say, “You can’t express just any ideas here at Google.  We have certain standards and limits, and some ideas are off-limits.”  That would be very honest.  He could do that, but if he made it that clear, it would sound like their inclusion is not quite all that inclusive and their diversity is not really all that diverse.  That would appear to be a little insane at worst, or hypocritical at best.

So, instead, he has to say things that, taken together, make him, and his Google culture, sound a little bit nutty, to say the least, and perhaps a bit dishonest.  Now some examples.

Separated by just a few words the Google CEO says “we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves” and then says that the fired employee’s view is unacceptable because he “suggest[s] a group of our colleagues [females] have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work [software coding].”  So Google “strongly” supports the right of Googlers to express themselves unless Google doesn’t like the view that an employee expresses.  That borders on insanity, or if it is not insanity, it is dishonesty.

The memo goes on to say, “there are co-workers who are questioning whether they can safely express their views in the workplace (especially those with a minority viewpoint). They too feel under threat, and that is also not OK. People must feel free to express dissent.”  But wasn’t a Google employee just fired precisely because he expressed dissent?  Is this insanity, or is it dishonesty?

Near the end of the memo the Google CEO says, “The past few days have been very difficult for many at the company, and we need to find a way to debate issues on which we might disagree - while doing so in line with our Code of Conduct.”  But that is just another way of saying that Google employees are not allowed to debate and disagree with a set of ideas supposedly included in the Code of Conduct.  In fact, the section of the Code of Conduct quoted by the Google CEO did not directly prohibit raising the kinds of questions raised by the fired software engineer.  One of his key points was that there might be good reasons, other that some kind of discrimination, why there are fewer female coders than there are male coders.  Is that something that cannot even be discussed in a place where “people must be free to express dissent”?!?  Again, is this insanity or dishonesty?

In a previous memo the Google CEO said, “All your voices and opinions matter . . . and I want to hear them.”  Well Sundar Pichai, apparently you do not.  One software engineer expressed some opinions that you and your company did not like, and you fired him.  That has to mean that you did not want to hear his voice and his opinion, and you didn’t want anyone else at Google to hear his voice and his opinion.  If you continue to insist that you want to hear all opinions while firing those who express opinions you do not like, you are either nuts or a liar.

From this distance, I cannot quite tell which it is.  Could it be a bit of both?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Beware of Biblesoft!


I want to post what amounts to a warning about the company Biblesoft. Find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/biblesoft/

I have used Biblesoft's PC Study Bible since the days of MS DOS and command lines. I always liked it, and the way their whole system worked. Now and then they would come out with a program update, and for a modest fee current users could upgrade just their basic program engine. All the collections you owned, which had often been purchases separately as add-on, could continue to be used.

That was both reasonable and to be expected. In the last year, however, Biblesoft has destroyed its good standing with me by attempting to pull off what seems to something close to a con job on its users. I am very sorry to have to say this.

A little over a year ago I received an email from them saying that they would be coming out with an upgrade in the future. Those who wished to make this coming upgrade needed to upgrade, they said, to the latest program engine. I had the next-to-latest, but I was glad to upgrade. Biblesoft promised the cost of this would apply to their coming new version.

The new version has come out, and Biblesoft has been offering all sorts of additional discounts to get people to upgrade. But it turns out that if you own many of their resources, the least expensive upgrade you can use will cost, even with discounts and credits, about $400. That made the need to upgrade to the latest software engine something of a trick. The ridiculous price of the coming major upgrade was not announced at that time, so if you did that but are not now willing to fork over another $400 "ransom" you completely wasted that money.

This I find to be utterly unacceptable and something akin to highway robbery, of the digital variety. Biblesoft claims that people have problems running their "old" program in windows 10. I have had no problems on two different desktop PCs. They continue to send their ridiculous offers for their over-priced upgrade with the warning that your old version might stop working any day now.

So here is my concluding note to Biblesoft: with this customer of long, long standing, you have blown it. I will not pay you $400 "ransom" to keep using the resources I have purchased from you over the years. If at some point Windows 10 stops running your old program, I will just create a Windows 7 virtual machine on one of my PCs and run your old, good program from that. Other than that, I am done with you and your ill-managed company. Rather than put up pointless "devotional" material on your Facebook page, why not run your company with some Christian integrity?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Not “Christian” and not a “Headline”


At something called Christianheadlines.com I saw this amazingly idiotic so-called headline:

Britney Spears Quotes Bible Verse after Being Mocked by Katy Perry

So a messed-up former Mouseketeer quotes the Bible at a rude remark by the wayward daughter of a Methodist “clergy couple.”  It damages a mind to think of something like that as a “headline.”

The short “article” that follows the headline reads like the kind of gossip one might hear in particularly boring small-town circles.  It really still is just that, even if those involved are famous in spite of doing anything important in life.

Hey Christianheadlines.com – somewhere in this world something important is going on in relationship to Christianity.  But this just isn’t one of those things.  It’s not even close.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Don’t Say It!


I read this today: "Business owners have been gifted a much-needed reprieve thanks to Donald Trump's swift action to reduce red tape." My comment has nothing to do with the political side of that statement.

One piece of twenty-first century jargon that needs to be hated is this idiotic word “gifted.”  A “gift” is “given.”  I understand inventing a word when one does not exist.  But what is the point of inventing a stupid-sounding word when a perfectly good one already fills the needed role?

In the sentence at the beginning, “given” does the job needed with elegance, style, and grace.  Those who insist on dropping the worthless jargon word “gifted” in such places need to whacked up side the head with a grammar stick.

There are some other examples of this sort of thing, but this one is perhaps the worst of them.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

How About “Closed for Easter”?

Churches Close for Easter
as “reported” by Kent B. True

In a move that came as a surprise to some, one area church has decided to cancel services for Easter Sunday this year.  While some expressed concern with the change, church leaders defended the move as Biblically correct and practically necessary.

Pastor Ben Right of The Church of What’s Happening Now refused to be interviewed about the matter, but earlier in the week spokeswoman Ima Chatterly issued statements to the press about her church’s decision.

“Easter is all about eggs, bunnies, and families,” she said.  “Our focus has always been on families, although we have absolutely no objection to eggs or bunnies if families decide to use those” she added.

But Chatterly insisted that there were even more important reasons to cancel services at What’s Happening Now on Easter.  “It requires approximately 17.8 church member volunteers to induce each unchurched individual to attend services here at What’s Happening Now,” said Chatterly, “and we decided that those dedicated people needed another Sunday to spend with family and friends.”

The Church of What’s Happening Now was one of the first in the nation to cancel services on Christmas Sunday, and Chatterly cited the great success of that idea as one factor in the Easter decision.  “We noticed that after our Christmas Sunday break last year, only 12.3 volunteers were needed for several weeks to draw each unchurched person to our church.  The volunteers seem to work a lot harder if you let them rest now and then.  That made us realize just how important these Sunday sabbaticals can be for a healthy mega-church,” although Chatterly quickly added that they do not call their church a “mega-church.”

But in an unexpected move, Pastor Right addressed the canceled Easter controversy in his sermon last week.  In his sermon, on a stage decorated with thousands of plastic Easter Eggs and flanked by all the members of his church’s “Advisory and Affirmation” Team dressed in Easter Bunny suits, Right made an emotional defense of his decision.

“The Advisory and Affirmation Team and I met, prayed, and cried over this decision for several hours this week,” said Right in his Thursday afternoon sermon last week, “and in the end we decided to make a stand in favor of families.”  At one point, Pastor Right said, “Easter is for families.  We don’t want ‘church’ to get in the way of that.”

But it wasn’t only about saving the family, according to Pastor Right.

“It’s not just an Easter thing,” said Right.  “It’s a change I have been studying for some time now.  In fact, as a result of this study, I was granted my D.M.A. (Doctor of Megachurch Administration) from the prestigious World Christian University.”  W.C.U. grants this degree only to students who have completed its intense ten-month program.

Right told his mesmerized congregation, “I have been able to do some detailed New Testament study, which I don’t suggest you ordinary people should try at home.  But what I found was that in first-century Judea, Sunday morning actually fell somewhere between what we call Thursday afternoon and Friday night.  This follows from a careful consideration of time zones, calendar changes, church controversies, and the international date line.  So beginning on Easter Sunday, our church will be observing the correct meeting time for the church, which is Friday evening.”

Right sees this as a way to make his church more Biblical.  “Easter is really a pagan holiday,” Right explained in one of the less emotional moments in his sermon.  “So if we can overcome all this societal Easter pressure, we can help make our church a less pagan place than it is right now.”

Later in his sermon, Pastor Right reminded his congregation that not only was Friday evening a time, indicated by Biblical studies, when the church should meet, but it also happened to be the church meeting time preferred by 8.6 of every 10 unchurched persons.  “We want to be unchurched-person sensitive,” said Right, “and you can’t do that if your church insists on meeting at times the unchurched find inconvenient.”
               
Right hinted that some who disagree with his Easter cancellation policy might be a little jealous.  “It’s hard to argue with success.  In fact, you shouldn’t even try.” Right said.  “People at smaller churches shouldn’t be wasting their time disagreeing with us.  Instead, they should be trying to become more like us,” Right insisted.

Right’s sermon at What’s Happening Now was interrupted several times with lengthy standing ovations punctuated with cheers and whistles from the thousands of unchurched who were present.  After the sermon, many of the unchurched present at What’s Happening Now offered their support for Pastor Right’s decision.

“I’m an atheist,” said Patti Pettibrain,  “but I love What’s Happening Now, I love Pastor Right, and I’m a regular here.”  She added with tears in her eyes, “I don’t know why all the mean people around town are attacking Pastor Right.  After all, he can’t be wrong when his name is Right.”

One of the elders of What’s Happening Now, twenty-three-year-old I. B. Yesmann, told this reporter, “Church isn’t about days of the week.  Our church’s critics are, like, way too worried about Sunday.  Friday is just as much one of the Lord’s days as Sunday, isn’t it?”

While it is not clear if other churches will follow the lead of What’s Happening Now, it is clear that the Easter controversy will probably affect churches around the country.  One What’s Happening Now member, who asked not to be identified, said, “Some churches are just stuck in the past.  But we are, just like our name says, ‘What’s Happening Now.’  God’s always doing new things, and we are the latest and greatest.”