SpaceX CRS12 Launch and Landing

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Website Updates

One of the things that took an enormous amount of time and energy was the moving of the www.theology.edu domain to a new hosting service. As if that weren’t enough, I also decided to get new domain names for our church, Quartz Hill Community Church, which had been using the URL www.theology.edu/QHCC. A rather cumbersome address. So, I bought the domain names www.quartzhillcommunitychurch.org, www.quartzhillchurch.org and www.littlebluechurch.org and pointed them all to the old location. And then I decided to completely redesign and revamp the church’s website. And, once that was done, I then completely revamped and redesigned the Quartz Hill School of Theology website as well. Both sites had not been updated in many, many years; they were essentially stuck in a timewarp at around the year 1998 (we’ve had the theology.edu domain since 1994).

So, if you’d like to see the pretty results of several hundred hours of labor on my part:

Quartz Hill Community Church

Quartz Hill School of Theology

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Being Busy

It’s been a long while since I last posted to this blog, primarily because I’ve been abnormally busy with other things. First, there was a lot of time taken in caring for my youngest daughter and her mental illness. Thankfully, she has not only stabilized, but has also entered what might be termed “recovery”: in the sense that she is finally starting to mature and make better choices in her life. Her first psychotic break happened when she was barely 13 and her development sort of stalled at that level; in the over two years that she has been stable, we are finally starting to witness a growth in her and more maturity so that she is gradually moving now toward her actual, chronological age which will be 21 come September.

On top of that, I’ve been the interim pastor at my church now for–well, it will be two years now come August 23. I’ve gotten accustomed to the new position and duties. On top of all of that, the church has been undergoing a variety of changes: we are finally doing the repairs and renovations on the physical building that in many cases had been put off by twenty years. The changes we are seeing, both in the building and among the people are very positive.

So, I’ve been busy, and distracted, and just couldn’t, or chose not, to spend the time here that I should have. I may be able to return to a more normal schedule here once again, posting something at least once a week. I’d like to get back to once a day if I can, but we shall see how it goes.

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SpaceX Launch and Landing January 14, 2017

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Blogging is Hard Sometimes

Blogging is hard sometimes, as is any sort of writing. When my foster son died of SIDS, now nearly twenty years ago, I found it impossible to write for nearly three years. I occupied myself by throwing myself into other work–like cataloging all the books in the library at Quartz Hill School of Theology; that and teaching classes in theology, Bible, and Hebrew. Now, after being thrown into becoming the interim pastor of my church (now moving into my fifteenth month) I’ve been increasingly consumed with doing that and other writing than preparing a sermon for each Sunday has fallen by the wayside to a large extent. My youngest daughter, who suffers from a serious mental illness (she’s bipolar), is thankfully in recovery and stable (and med compliant) so she requires much less attention now than she did for the six years from initial diagnosis until she was finally stabilized, now about two years ago. Nevertheless, my head really has not been in my writing for awhile, whether it is books or doing blogs here or at the Jerusalem Post. I’m lucky now if I get a post up even once a month, which is terrible, I know. I have two science fiction novels and one historical fiction novel that I am in the middle of trying to rewrite, another novel that I’m trying to peddle, and three novels that I’m somewhere in the first drafts of. Plus, I’ve got three non-fiction books that I’m trying to rewrite. But it’s been now nearly five years (shortly after my youngest daughter’s initial diagnosis with her mental illness, when she was becoming increasingly uncontrollable and violent–I still suffer from some PTSD from that)–five years it’s been since my last book contract. I’ve got several indie-published novels that I’ve put up at Amazon since then, thanks to encouragement from Sarah A. Hoyt, and I’m making a bit of income from them, which is nice and much better than I’d make off them if they were just sitting on my hard drive. But my writing has really fallen off from what it used to be with how life has gotten in the way, as it were.

Sometimes life is like that. But you need to not let it discourage you. Just keep plugging along. The droughts don’t last forever. The rains will come.

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SpaceX Is Going to Mars

The actual presentation begins at about the 20 minute mark, so fast forward to that point.

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Facebook Posts

What passes through my head upon reading far too many posts on Facebook:(this isn’t original; I got it from Jerry Pournelle’s blog several years ago): “I cannot believe how incredibly stupid you are. I mean rock-hard stupid. Dehydrated-rock-hard stupid. Stupid, so stupid that it goes way beyond the stupid we know into a whole different dimension of stupid. You are Trans-stupid stupid. Meta-stupid. Stupid collapsed on itself so far that even the neutrons have collapsed. Stupid gotten so dense that no intellect can escape. Singularity stupid. Blazing hot mid-day sun on Mercury stupid. You emit more stupid in one second than our entire galaxy emits in a year. Quasar stupid. Your writing has to be a troll. Nothing in our universe can really be this stupid. Perhaps this is some primordial fragment from the original big bang of stupid. Some pure essence of a stupid so uncontaminated by anything else as to be beyond the laws of physics that we know.”

I have become increasingly reluctant to react to stupid stuff that I see posted (though admittedly, against my better judgment, I do on occasion react and almost always end up regretting doing so). Too often the people that post things that are untrue (on the level of claiming two and two are seventy-three) simply double down and become abusive, make accusations, insist that they are right and I am evil. It’s hardly worth it anymore. I present evidence, people react by kicking it out of the way and poking me in the eye with their lies, accusing me of perfidy, and in general preferring not to be confused by the facts. In my experience, an awful lot of people enjoy their stupidity. They’d rather believe tasty lies than face painful truth; they’d rather accept simplistic explanations that soothe and reinforce their comforting point of view instead of struggling through a more complicated reality. They reject documentation, claim bias, and offer no evidence beyond a simple dismissal of what you present. Their lives seem governed by a rejection of logic, reason, and science. They think in cliches and catch phrases; those who don’t agree with their cliches and catch phrases, or question them, are automatically evil. Virtue attaches to cheering for the right team, using the right words in the right ways, being mad at those who don’t wear the team colors. They’d rather embrace logical fallacies, conspiracy theories, undocumented blathering and made up stuff devoid of evidence and truth. They are quick to accept what matches what they already believe and hate you if you demonstrate that while such and such may sound great, it simply never happened or is just not true. Just because I tell you that what you think a politician you hate did never really happened doesn’t mean I like that politician. I just think the truth matters, whether I like the truth or not, whether I agree with a politician or not. Just because I tell you that the story of an archaeological discovery never happened or has been misinterpreted and that it does not prove the Bible does not mean I hate the Bible. I just think that the truth matters and I’m genuinely puzzled that you’d rather embrace a lie instead of the truth. People go “Oh, this sounds good and matches what I think” or “Oh, this makes me mad and sounds just like the sort of thing that the people I hate would do or say” and post it without bothering to do any research. Since when did passing on gossip become a positive good?

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Proxima Centauri b

Source SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration.

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Inheritance

Some Christians have expressed dismay by the discovery of a genetic origin to certain sins. But I don’t understand the upset. After all, the biblical materials themselves clearly demonstrate that the existence of sin in human beings is an inherited trait.

For instance, the psalmist writes:

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5)

Paul, writing to the church in Rome, indicated:

Therefore…sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned…(Romans 5:12)

Such passages (among others) speak very clearly of the inherited nature of human sin; it should not come as any great shock to any Christians, therefore, that scientists should discover this to be the case. It also is no great surprise that sin is something beyond human abiity to control or solve.

Christianity has generally taught, especially since the Reformation, that humanity is “depraved” –that is, that it is incapable of saving merit–a technical way of stating that there is nothing good a person can do to win God’s favor.

The Bible is quite clear on this, too:

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

What Christianity does is acknowledge that if human beings are to reach heaven it is going to be solely because of the mercy of God. It certainly won’t be because of any earned merit.

Perhaps an analogy will be in order.

As human beings, we are like a man born without any arms or legs who discovers that he istrapped in a buring building and the only way out is up a long ladder. Obviously he is in deep trouble. But if a firefighter arrives and carries him up the ladder, he’ll survive.

That’s what Jesus did for us. He found us in a wretched, hopeless state, unable to solve our problem, a problem that wasn’t even of our own making: it was one we inherited. So he solved it for us. He was the only one who could.

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Does Isaiah Prophesy About an Alien Invasion of Earth?

See, the LORD is going to lay waste the earth
and devastate it;
he will ruin its face
and scatter its inhabitants—
2 it will be the same
for priest as for people,
for the master as for his servant,
for the mistress as for her servant,
for seller as for buyer,
for borrower as for lender,
for debtor as for creditor.
3 The earth will be completely laid waste
and totally plundered.
The LORD has spoken this word.
4 The earth dries up and withers,
the world languishes and withers,
the heavens languish with the earth.
5 The earth is defiled by its people;
they have disobeyed the laws,
violated the statutes
and broken the everlasting covenant.
6 Therefore a curse consumes the earth;
its people must bear their guilt.
Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up,
and very few are left. (Isaiah 24:1-6)

This particular passage from Isaiah is a good illustration of the importance of both a proper translation and the importance of paying attention to the context.

The word that the NIV has here translated as “earth” is perhaps the primary source of the problem, along with the header that it’s translators “helpfully” but at the head of the chapter: The LORD’s Devastation of the Earth.

The impression created upon reading the passage, for a modern reader in the United States is that God has predicted that aliens are going to invade the world and scatter its inhabitants through the galaxy while burning the world and killing many of them:

This is definitely not what Isaiah had in mind.

The correction of this misconception could have been handled easily had the word translated “earth” been translated as “land” as it often is as in “land of Israel” or “land of Egypt.” And the context makes this obvious: Isaiah is prophesying about the coming invasion of Judah by the Babylonians. Not the coming invasion of Earth by the Romulans.

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