most theologically frightening song ever

From a distance (1985, Julie Gold, famously recorded by Nancy Griffith and Bette Midler): most theologically frightening song ever.

The implications:

1. That God is myopic.

2. That God is mistaken about our essential nature, and doesn’t know us as we truly are.

3. That, therefore, we might have something to fear if God ever finds out what it’s really like down here.

4. That we can develop a positive, hopeful vision of justice and mercy only if we abstract ourselves from the real, hard, close truth about our lives and our life.

5. That God either can’t, or can’t be bothered to, come down here.

God help us all if that’s what God is like.

I believe in an entirely different reality, where God is not a myopic, absent, delusional creature; where he knows us fully, in all our neediness, violence, and greed, and still loves us; where the true vision of justice and mercy is formed in the trenches, where we really live, by a God who is so intimately connected with our suffering that he decided to ‘come down here’ and live it out, right alongside us. And where the true ‘hope of hopes’ involves, not a self-deception born of a kind of desperate squinting at humanity, but the knowledge of a real man, Jesus, who also happens to be that intimate God, and promises to take up and redeem all that is hopeless in our lives.

That was on my mind this morning.

From a distance the world looks blue and green,
and the snow-capped mountains white.
From a distance the ocean meets the stream,
and the eagle takes to flight.

From a distance, there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
It’s the voice of hope, it’s the voice of peace,
it’s the voice of every man.

From a distance we all have enough,
and no one is in need.
And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease,
no hungry mouths to feed.

From a distance we are instruments
marching in a common band.
Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace.
They’re the songs of every man.
God is watching us. God is watching us.
God is watching us from a distance.

From a distance you look like my friend,
even though we are at war.
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
what all this fighting is for.

From a distance there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
And it’s the hope of hopes, it’s the love of loves,
it’s the heart of every man.

It’s the hope of hopes, it’s the love of loves.
This is the song of every man.
And God is watching us, God is watching us,
God is watching us from a distance.
Oh, God is watching us, God is watching us,
God is watching us from a distance.

from one baby

I may be jumping straight into the deep end here with nary a floater round my arm, but, however, and nonetheless. This morning I drove the car (instead of riding the bus) to work and so could listen to NPR, which program was featuring a story on the evolution of pigmentation in human skin, and how it may have taken as little as 2,500 years to go from black to white or vice versa, and may still be evolving in people groups (i.e., race is fluid).

And, you know, the (Darwinian) mechanism of evolution is the random mutation: one baby is born with a gene that produces melatonin, and then his family moves north a little and he’s better able to adapt to the UV-content of the sunlight there, and so he survives his non-melatonin-gene-carrying brothers and sisters and lives to produce children who carry his gene, and they survive their cousins and peers and so on until everyone has the melatonin-producing gene and they can all move a little further north because their skin is adaptable to periods of sun and shade. But all from one baby.

The thing that struck me is the parallel with the Kingdom of God: that it’s like a tiny bit of leavened dough, that was hidden in a whole mess of unleavened dough, and slowly leavens the whole thing. And it’s like the spread of discipleship to Jesus, too: that from a tiny band of followers — and let’s face it, the odds against them were massive — the life of Jesus spreads and spreads and a mere 2,000 years later it covers the earth. It’s even Spencerian — that followers of Christ were strong enough to withstand even unusual punishment by the status quo, that they were fittest to survive. You might say that Christ-following evolved, from a tiny spiritual mutation: the notion that righteousness does not come from being ‘in’ with the ‘in’ crowd, but from knowing Jesus and being known. (Or even, not to be too clever about it, from one baby).

So there: I’ve proposed a (semi-mystical) connection/correlation between faith and evolutionary theory. There may be an element of design in it after all. Now, take me to task…

6 3-pointers

really moving. also, a great illustration of our deeply ingrained assumptions that the mentally delayed or disabled are somehow inherently incapable. imagine what the season would have been like if the coach had worked against his own assumptions and put him in before the last 4 minutes of the last game?

10 +1 reasons you should drop Facebook like a hot rock

1. facebook turns relationships into a commodity. how far into your past do you have to go to sate your need for an ever-expanding circle of friends/relatives/acquaintances to feed your ‘feed?’ don’t you feel good when you find a new ‘person you know’ on facebook to ‘friend?’ doesn’t that feeling go away, fast, leaving you waiting for the next find? don’t you just ache when you log in and you don’t see that little red ‘activity’ indicator at the bottom of the page?

2. facebook’s growing ubiquity works against it. since everyone’s on it, i begin to feel like all i know about everyone i know is what their status updates tell me. it’s like an endless stream of relational inanity, much of it indecipherable.

3. facebook wastes your time with information you don’t need. that time could be used to relate to the same set (or a subset) of people in analogous ways that are far more rewarding. so facebook is actually robbing you of quality relationship by substituting a more time-consuming junk relationship.

4. facebook encourages a sense of false identity. giving people a full profile of things you’re a ‘fan’ of — ‘lost,’ sharpies, puggles, brad pitt, radiohead — tells them very little about who you are. joining a cause or creating a profile of books you’ve read or movies you enjoy doesn’t get people much closer to the core of who you are.

5. your [grandpa/boss/highschoolgymteacher/firstgirlfriend] is on facebook.

6. facebook allows your friends to expand your online presence, posting pictures of you without your consent which they can then attach to your profile without your knowledge. yikes.

7. facebook’s algorithm for who shows up in your feed is not all-inclusive. certain of your friends (or ‘friends’) will dominate. certain others, although they continue to update their facebook pages, will never show up. you will not know why.

8. facebook encourages a false sense of accomplishment. you have not contributed to a cause by joining its facebook group page.

9. facebook keeps all your data, forever, and uses it to develop sophisticated demographic marketing profiles, which it sells. aggressively. want out? you can only ‘deactivate’ your account, you can’t delete it. facebook is an engine for making you a marketing target.

10. facebook is a bait and switch. it promises to be all about the people you ‘friend’ — after all, you’re seeing their statuses, their postings, their photos, their comments. but really, its all about you: what are *you* doing, what do other people think about what *you’re* doing, do you have the perfect profile picture yet. (zena suggested posting only brutally self-deprecating status updates and seeing whether people balk). i already have an online forum for broadcasting ‘all about me.’ you’re reading it right now.

+1. you don’t need more. you need less-but-better.

More background on common epithets

The prejudice for IQ is worked almost inextricably into the language:

“From an educational perspective, Binet and Simon posited three levels of feeblemindedness: idiots, who could not communicate either verbally or in writing; imbeciles, who could speak, but not read or write; and morons, who were delayed in school studies by a few years, never attaining to much higher than a twelve-year-old level of intelligence. Meanwhile… Stern (1871-1938), revised the Binet-Simon test and introduced a ‘constant’ intelligence quotient (IQ) that correlated the mental and chronological ages of the test-takers… it was widely accepted, given the confidence in science during this period of time… Still, Stern ‘unwittingly encouraged the simplification of the extraordinarily complex concept of intelligence… [since such tests] assumed that the intelligence quotient was analogous to, if not synonymous with, native intelligence.’

“…This classification was given further specification through an adaptation of the Stern IQ by Lewis Madison Terman (1877-1956)… Terman’s IQ test, also known since as the Stanford-Binet Test… basically remains in effect even today.”

(Yong, Amos. Theology and Down Syndrome. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2007. pp. 51-52)

short term gains

does it strike anyone else that obama’s decision to opt out of public financing was short-sighted?

he’s outspending mccain 4 to 1 in advertisements now, in these last two weeks leading up to the elections, says the new york times. next week he will have spent more on advertising than any other presidential candidate in history, ever.

but the long term effects? no candidate will ever blithely agree to public spending again, without some serious calculations. and the kinds of candidates that can run, from now on? not idealists, but the kind of seriously charismatic populists that can succeed in raising the more-and-more-massive amounts of private financing that will surely be necessary to win a presidential election.

who are those populists going to be? the kinds of candidates with deep and broad experience, insight, wisdom? are those the kinds of character traits you develop while you’re also developing the kind of popularity that ensures massive amounts of private funding?

just seems short sighted, that’s all.