I Reject the Premise

I’m reading a book for my thesis work that attempts to help its readers better understand Jesus’ Jewishness. One of the authors describes her journey to Israel and mentions that some have called the Holy Land “the fifth gospel”, and I started thinking about mine. I thought about how very much I agreed. There is something about being in the place.

We’re told it doesn’t matter. In church, we hear things like:

“You can worship God wherever you want. You don’t need a fancy building.”

“You can approach your ‘quiet time’ however you want. You shouldn’t let anybody tell you when, or where or how long, or what way to practice your spirituality. The important thing is that it’s yours.”

“You can pray however you want. You don’t need anybody else’s prayers.”

“You can sing new songs even if the old people don’t think they’re very good. The important thing is that they’re yours.”

And I thought about trying to defend my feelings about being in the land where Jesus walked and taught and live and died and rose and ascended. I tried to think about how it “works”—about how God “uses” a pilgrimage. But I can’t think that the premise behind this way of thinking is fairly recent (Englightenment?) and false on its face (though with a kernel of truth).

What is necessary shouldn’t be the question. I didn’t need to choose a romantic spot to propose. Elise and I didn’t need to marry in a church building. We didn’t need to use a common liturgy with roots in a historic liturgy. We would have been just as married. But those things were important. Nobody questions a couple who returns to the scene of their wedding to renew their wedding vows. Nobody questions the value in going to the same place. Must a vow renewal take place in the same place—or another place of significance? Of course not. But whether or not I can prove empirically that these things result in a longer, healthier marriage is beside the point.

Place, time, rhythm, ritual, history—these are all intrinsic parts of being human. Why do we think there is value in ignoring them? Why is there so much pushback (mainly in Protestant churches and even more so in evangelical/conservantive/non-denominational/descendants-of-the-frontie- tradition churches) on many of these things? Why do we fear admitting that there can be value in kneeling (kneeling!) in a place where countless throngs have knelt before and prayed? I don’t think that’s magic, or superstition.  I don’t think it needs to undercut the “essence” of worship or prayer or spirituality, if there can be such a thing. I think the premise that there is some essence we can reduce all things Christian down to, and that that essence is all that “matters” is foolishness. I think it’s destructive.

Yes, I think that attitude is destroying churches, families, the entire discipleship process.

I also think the attitude of a certain Church that there are laundry lists of requirements for certain things to be “valid” is also destructive. But that’s an easier argument to take on. Another time.

NERD ALERT: Error 0x8007003A

If you’re not interested in weird technical things, stop reading. I’m putting this here first and foremost so I mayr ever to it later. If it helps somebody else, even better.

This was a new one. At work we were trying to copy some files from a Mac OS X 10.10 server onto a Windows 8.1 workstation. The logged-in user had read/write privileges on all the files in the folder, but was presented Error 0x8007003A on file copy. From a Mac, I could copy the files just fine.

For some reason, seemingly arbitrary files were marked as having been downloaded from the Internet. Specifically, they had Extended Attribute com.apple.quarantine. You can detect the presence of extended attributes from the output of ls -al when files are marked with an @ at the end of the permissions column. ls -al@ will output the extended attributes.

To remove an extended attribute, you can use xattr. In my case, though, with sporadic files spread across dozens of directories and subdirectories, there’s what I used:

find ./ -print0 -type f -exec xattr -d com.apple.quarantine {} \;

Karen Marie Yust in Real Kids, Real Faith:

When adults act as if religious education is mainly a tool for children’s moral development, children quickly catch on to the irrelevance of religious culture for the grown-up world. They have no incentive for committing themselves to a particular spiritual identity in adolescence if faith is portrayed by adults as something one sheds with childhood.…If they discover that our own spiritual practices are given little explicit attention and power to shape our lives, they are likely to imitate our indifference to the religious culture.

Leonard Sweet in From Tablet to Table, emphasis added:

I have had people challenge me on bringing up my children without religious choices. “Don’t you think you’re being a bit imperialistic and colonialist, not letting your children choose what religion they want to follow?”

My answer is, yes, I am being a bit imperialistic and colonialist. But I’m that way about plenty of other things besides religion. I didn’t ask my child, “What language would you like to speak?” or “What economic level would you like to be a part of?” These things are circumstantial to our birth. They are stories we are born into. So if you’re born into my house, guess what? “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). A child doesn’t decide to have toes; she discovers that she has them; this is how a child of mine discovers that he or she is already part of the body of Christ.

Important words for Christian parents, and for churches thinking about how they incorporate children into congregational life (particularly worship and the sacraments).

iOS 9 Public Beta 3 Errors

I had trouble downloading iOS Public Beta 3 on my iPhone 5. iOS kept telling me that installation had failed because there was an error downloading the software. Restarting my phone did not help. Here’s what I did to get it working:

  1. I removed the Beta Program profile from Settings.app > General > Profiles
  2. Restarted my phone
  3. Re-enrolled my device at http://beta.apple.com/
  4. Rebooted my phone when prompted
  5. Powered my phone off afterward, and powered it back on
  6. Checked for updates again in Settings.app.

This time, the updated downloaded correctly. It’s installing now.

On Trying Not to be a Jerk

Somebody I follow on Twitter retweeted this crack against the Pro-Life movement (and the NRA to boot):

And my initial desire was to reply to both the source (Jesse LaGreca) and the re-tweeter.1

But, before I posted, I remembered that the young woman who retweeted—who I have not met in person, only  exchanged Twitter replies with a few times over the last few years2—had recently shared the story of a pregnancy that she and her husband chose to terminate by abortion. Form a worldly perspective, they had a “good” case. Based on their story, this wasn’t birth control or family planning. In any event, there’s no way to reply in 126 characters and not be a complete jerk. Nothing I could say succinctly would likely be taken by anybody in that situation as anything but personally accusatory and condemning.

Which is frustrating. Of course no tweet (or tweetstorm) of mine is going to change the mind of LaGreca or his admirer. But the silence of “crackpots” like me has for too long been taken to mean that we disagree in theory or on abstract religious grounds, but that we basically accept abortion. I, for one, do not find it acceptable. I believe that because life is sacred, that all are created in the image of God, that life is a gift from God, and that therefore the killing of the unborn is infanticide. Homicide.3 Nobody has the right unilaterally to decide they may take the life of another. Our government declaring it to be so does not change the moral truth.

Planned Parenthood and the NRA will both be held accountable for their actions. The blood of the innocent stains the soil of this nation, and it cries out for justice. God hears. God hears.

And of course, if the young woman whose actions got this whole blog post going were to suddenly agree with me, she would have to deal with a terrible problem. She has done the unthinkable. She has taken the life of a child. Unforgivable? If I asked her today, I suspect she would indeed say that such an act is unforgivable. And I, who on the one hand seem at first to be judging her harshly, can tell her that there is one who suffered even more greatly at the hands of evil men, while yet more innocent. And this Jesus died so that she could be forgiven, that he rose from the dead so that she could die and be raised to new life, that he ascended to the right hand of God so that she could spend an eternity with God.

Apropos of nothing, anybody know anybody who became a Christian because of a tweet? No. I guess I’ll stick with not being a jerk.


  1. I did reply, eventually, to LaGreca, who then made it personal and prompted me to take my Twitter account private. Because it’s always the conservative Christians who are vitriolic and vengeful, right?

  2. mainly about funny parenting moments

  3. If there is a case to be made that homicide is sometimes justified, then it’s not unthinkable there could be justification to terminate a pregnancy. But not everybody believes even self-defense justifies homicide, and if a person kills someone and claims self-defense, there are machinations of the justice system that go to work. There is no justice system on earth for the unborn. An innocent life can be ended on a whim.

⇝ A GUARANTEED way to get kids listening to the Sunday sermon … — LECFamily

A GUARANTEED way to get kids listening to the Sunday sermon  — LECFamily:

I was amazed at the words that the children recalled hearing in the sermon and their delight as they shared their joy with me warmed my heart. The adults in the congregation were thrilled to see the children so involved, so engaged, and so well behaved in worship. And their parents were grateful to have the opportunity to worship as a family and to not feel stressed during that time in the pew. 

A really cool idea.

“For the future to be good…”

Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and Space-X (among other things), tweeted about some of the things necessary for a “good” future.1

But I don’t think he’s right. Technology doesn’t change human hearts, nor does it eliminate suffering. If history shows us anything, technological advances will only increase the gap between the haves and the have-nots. The biggest problems we face are not technological hurdles. It’s not that I’m opposed to research, technology, exploration, or discovery. But we deceive ourselves if we think that new technology and scientific discoveries (including medical ones) are automatically advances or progress.

Only God is good. The more of his kingdom that breaks through into our world, the better it will be. The more his will is done in us, the better this world will be. In fact, we don’t need Mr. Musks’s company or any other to provide us with a good future, because we’ve already been guaranteed a perfect one! In the end, all things will be set right. Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess, every soul will worship God, through his son Jesus Christ our Lord, by the Holy Spirit. Evil, sin, and death will in the end be vanquished, and our future will be perfect as we dwell fully in the presence of the Divine. I was reminded recently that our weekly worship as Christians should be reminding us all of that outlook.

Now if anybody wants to donate a Tesla Model S…well, just leave a comment and I’m sure we can get in touch.


  1. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and assuming that he doesn’t think electric transport, solar power, and “the missing piece” are sufficient.