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Mike's Blog
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Harry Potter
Mood:  spacey
Now Playing: Gavin Rossdale
Topic: Miscellaneous

Well, here's some more randomness from my brain...


I've been thinking about a few things lately... Well, okay, a lot of things, but I'm only going to share a few of them.

This morning in my daily, random web-roving, I came upon the new trailer for the new Harry Potter Movie, HP & the Order of the Phoenix.

And I must admit, it was purdy kewl.  Some years ago, when I first saw and heard of Harry Potter, I initially, immediately, shunned it.  I believe we had a few of the books, as Dee would pick up lots of books at yard sales all the time, as we always try to have bunches of books, as, I believe Dee agrees with me, Books should be more available than movies.  I'd much rather have my kids reading than watching TV or Video games.

Anyways, we purchased a copy of the first movie for the kids, discounted at the video store.  I refused to watch it.  I took the stand that it was trash.  I'd "heard from someone" that it was nothing but satanic drivel meant to lure away kids.  (Heck, I'd heard that about LOTS of things since my childhood.)  And a couple years or so went by and we had bought the second movie for the kids. 

During the whole time, I thought if the kids were really reading the books (which they weren't - they didn't read much if at all, unless it was for school), I might be worried, but they usually only watched the movies, as they watched everything else, mind-numbing entertainment and video games, with nary a thought.

At some point, I'd caught part of one of the movies on TV and it piqued my interest.  One summer afternoon, during the dark days of my unemployed months, I sat down and watched all three movies up to that point (as we had just picked up the latest one).  I was pleasantly surprised.  All of the hardcore ranting against this franchise that I had heard, failed - as usual - to be true.

I then went to the bookshelves and sought out all of the Harry Potter books we had - and we had them all up to the current book at that time, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  And I read them all.  (And I went and got the following books as they became available, and I read them, too.)

All of the rantings and ravings of "Satan's evil influence" and "dark, evil magic" that I had heard were now being flushed away with reality.  I recall similar accusations against books by CS Lewis, Tolkien, and of course D&D (or role-playing games in general).  The real problem is, in many of these "fantasy" works, the detractors always miss the main point: It's Fantasy.  Fiction.  Imaginary.  Entertainment for the sake of entertaining its entertainees.  Not a single drop of the fantastical elements are based in reality. 

Magic, in all of these stories, is simply a thematic element, something to push it into the fantasy realm of the imagination, an escapist resort where the impossible, the improbable, and the unbelievable are commonplace.  It is no different than military movies that show guns, historical epics that feature horses as a primary mode of transportation, or medical dramas that feature medicine and hospitals.

Something else that 'they' seemed to miss was that, just as in all of the other targeted fictional, fantasy stories, the line between Good and Evil is clearly drawn.  Our heroes are fighting for Good against the Evil.  The Evil is not praised and adored or glorified.  All these detractors seemed to do is focus on certain elements and elevate the threat of Evil.  They give Satan and Evil a whole lot of credit.

Now, forgive me, but at this point, I don't think I can say it any better than it is already stated in an article by Rod Robison, entitled "But I saw him levitate!" which is hosted on Gary F. Zeolla's excellent website Darkness to Light.

The article is referring to modern-day magicians and illusionists, the likes of David Blane, I imagine.  However, he brings up some good points that apply to my topic here: We all give Satan way too much credit than he deserves, and attribute to him more power than he has.

The article in its entirety is here : http://www.dtl.org/article/robison/levitate.htm
{BEGIN QUOTE}


II Thessalonians 2:9-10 states that when the Anti-Christ comes on the scene his abilities will be "in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders...."  Note that Satan's own right hand man of the end-times will only be able to perform "counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders," not the real thing. Even at this pivotal point in history Satan's tactic is deception, not miracles.

Is all of this to suggest that Satan has no powers? The Bible is quite clear that he does possess powers, but that they are greatly limited by God. We are told in Ephesians chapter 6 to "put on the whole armor of God" so that we won't fall into Satan's schemes. But nowhere in the Bible are we told that he has the ability to give humans supernatural powers.

{END QUOTE}

Okay, so if we get drawn into the idea that Satan can really give men evil powers, and such evil powers are then described and "glorified" in the likes of Harry Potter books and movies, then why is it that even the ultimate "Death Eater" is not even going to be truly powerful, but instead be a counterfeit, flim-flam man.

But then, why is it so many are so quick, in the christian-religious world, to blast fantasy stories?  They are afraid, for themselves, and they say, afraid for the innocent children.  But I say, don't give Satan more power over you!  Read on:

{BEGIN QUOTE}

One of Satan's greatest powers is the power to deceive--even Christians who should know better. By ascribing more power to Satan than God has given him we allow ourselves to be fooled into fearing him. If we believe that Satan can make people levitate and display all manner of supernatural manifestations then his power to intimidate us is greatly increased. We then unwittingly become more vulnerable to his schemes.

Jesus unmasked Satan when he said in John chapter 8, "He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." Satan is a much better liar than he is a miracle worker. If we are to, "Test everything. Hold on to the good," as we are admonished in  II Thessalonians 5:21, we'd be well served to understand the truth about the limits of Satan's power in this world and the limitless power of the God we serve.

END QUOTE

You know, I don't mind people taking an active stand on something they believe.  But I don't believe people should be taking stuff out of context to further an agenda, and proclaim the "evils of Satan" that are "being forced upon our children." 

People take this stuff way too seriously.  Satan is a liar and the father of lies, just like Jesus said.  And he has people fooled into thinking that he is more powerful than he really is.  He is a loser, folks.  It’s been foretold that he is going to lose, and he isn't happy about it.  There isn't a lot he can do directly, but he can lie, and through those lies he can make people believe those lies, which will lead them to inflate his power.

So, anyways, I think the point of my random rambling today is this: Fantasy books (or movies, etc) like Harry Potter aren't promoting the Devil's Agenda.  They are merely fantasy fiction intended to entertain.  Sure, there will always be some people out there who take things too far, and think that the magic is real.  But these are the same type of people that will believe that there is a joint CIA-FBI-NBC-Alien taskforce out there monitoring brainwaves and stealing thoughts to create the latest combination microwave-pocketwatch-and-cell phone MP3 player to be used by Bigfoot to notify Amelia Earheart of Elvis's fresh batch of peanut-butter and banana sandwiches waiting in the fridge.

 


Injected into the Ether by Mike at 12:02 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 3:45 PM CST
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*sigh*
Mood:  down
Now Playing: Survivor-Eye of the Tiger
Topic: Librivox

Humph.

Well, Yesterday morning I finally finished editing and uploaded Section 9 of The Handy Cyclopedia of Things Worth Knowing...

I had expected to finish that over two weeks ago, but everytime I sat down to get finished on it, I had someone walk in or call the office... and I couldn't get anywhere.  Heck, I actually had it recorded 2 weeks ago, but we had a mysterious power-outage 3 times in one day on this road, and I lost everything.  I finally had to come in an additional extra hour early to re-record it from scratch and then try to work out the bugs...

Anyways, at least i got it done... Now I need to move onto my Sherlock Holmes chapter I signed up for and get it done!  Then I can move onto The Holy War by John Bunyan - which is a purty kewl book...

God, I feel drained and worn out again today.  Help me out, please?


Injected into the Ether by Mike at 8:26 AM CST
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Thursday, January 11, 2007
Predestination, Omniscience, and ... Free Will?
Mood:  quizzical
Now Playing: Casting Crowns
Topic: Faith

Began at 07:35:51 a.m.

Well, last night was interesting...

First, I got out of work and went straight on home to pick up Dee and the boys so we could go out to get something to eat before church.  I decided on Huddle House, because it's right there on the way, and I really didn't feel like Maccy-D's again. (ugh)  So anyways, we got there at 5:30, or just before actually.  We sat, placed our order like within 2 minutes.  The waitress brought our drinks right away...

And then we sat there for half an hour.  The idiots never even started cooking our food yet.  I had been checking them out the whole time, looking for our order, because we were on a time limit.  We had ate there about a month before and service was quick and we had plenty of time... but not this time.  So I walk over and get the girls attention:

ME: "Just cancel our order."  

HER: "Huh? Why?"

ME: "We have to go. We don't have any more time to wait."

HER: "Are you sure?"

ME: "Yeah. (trying not to be irritated) How much for the drinks?"

HER: (she rings up on the register) "$5.09."

ME: (eyes popped out of my head. heart skipped a few extra beats that they normally don't.)  "5.09" I repeat dumbly.  For four drinks??  "Wow," I say, "that's quite a bit for 4 drinks." as I hand her a 20.

HER: (smiling and giggling, like she's happy about screwing people over) "I have a dime." (she rings it up and gets my change)

ME: (thinking, "ooh, don't do me any more favors, Carnegie." Then I take my change) "Thanks."

Then we left.  I couldn't believe it.  It was yet another ridiculous episode of life in West Plains, Missouri.  *sigh* And what was worse was that Dee forgot her purse in our haste to leave.  She didn't realize it until we got to church.  So I had to run back and get it... At least it was there...

So anyways, back to church.  I've been back with the kids for AWANA on Wednesdays.  I did that when I was little, for a couple years anyways.  But it's a lot of fun.  I really enjoy getting to see these kids know their bibles and memorize verses.  Later in life, those scriptures will come back to them in a time of need.  It's been that way for me.  And that's something really cool.  When I was young, I went to a christian school, so I had biblical learning every day.  But for about 90% (or more?) of these kids, wednesdays is the only biblical boost they get.  I love being around that.  I know it makes me a vampire, but I feed on that energy.  As burned out as I have been, I need an infusion of that kind of excitement and zest. *sigh*

Anyways, things went well.  When it came to counel time, Shirley (our AWANA leader) read a story to them.  I slipped out - it was very warm and stuffy in there - the heaters always do too well when the kids are in there...  And out in the hall, between the main building and the fellowship hall, there was the (apparently) usual group of adults who are doing their thing, to either log the kids' info or prep for game time, etc...

Frankie (one of Shirley's teen girls) was talking with Charlotte (her Sunday School teacher).  They were discussing some of the harder questions that come up during their class times.  I had heard a bit of one o these exchanges before, and it always intrigues me as to what kids these days are questioning.  Because, lo and behold, they have the same questions I struggled with when I was their age or older...

It came up to a mention of "Predestination, God's Omniscience (knowing ALL), and Free Will."  Not wanting to just overtake the situation, I mentioned to Charlotte that if she would like, I had an explanation I had figured out concerning that, and I could share it with her later if it might help.  Both Charlotte and Frankie said "What is it?"

So, with their blessing and interest, I launched into it.  I first asked Frankie what the exact nature of her questions were.  They were (and I'm recounting from my faulty memory, and paraphrasing, so I hope I get it right):

1) If we have free will, how can God know what we are going to do; the choices we will make? 

2) If God is all-knowing (Omniscient), and knows what decisions we will make, and knows who will choose Him and who will not, why does He allow people to be born who He knows will not choose Him?  This is essentially creating people who will eternally suffer.  How can a loving God do that?

I struggled with this kind of thinking.  How could a loving God knowingly create someone who He knows is not going to choose Him, and they end up in hell?  In the Bible, it says that God desires no man to go to hell... Contradiction? No.  Bear with me a little longer...

Now, my understanding first had a breakthrough when I watched, belive it or not, The Matrix Reloaded.  There's a scene when Neo speaks with the Oracle.  I'll paste the relavant bits here:

Neo: I suppose the most obvious question is, how can I trust you?
The Oracle: Bingo! It is a pickle, no doubt about it. The bad news is there's no way if you can really know whether I'm here to help you or not. So it's really up to you. You just have to make up your own [dang] mind to either accept what I'm going to tell you, or reject it. Candy?
Neo: D'you already know if I'm going to take it?
The Oracle: Wouldn't be much of an Oracle if I didn't.
Neo: But if you already know, how can I make a choice?
The Oracle: Because you didn't come here to make the choice, you've already made it. You're here to try to understand why you made it. I thought you'd have figured that out by now.
Neo: Why are you here?
The Oracle: Same reason... (to herself) I love candy.
Neo: But why help us?
The Oracle: We're all here to do what we're all here to do. I'm interested in one thing, Neo, the future. And believe me, I know - the only way to get there is together.

Okay.  Granted, the Matrix films are not christian specifically, but even the writers/directors admit these films touch on spirituality on many levels.  I don't doubt this, and neither should you.  If all good things and real truth come from God, there is no reason that God's truths can't be brought to light by people who may, or may not, knowingly acknowledge Him.  God shines through in many places that most don't think to look.  That's because, like Jesus said, it is the sick who need a doctor, not the healthy.  Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost, not what is already found.  God's truth has to show up in places the Redeemed aren't looking, or else those who are not redeemed will never become Redeemed.... Get it?  Okay, now back to my explanation.... ;-)

During that Matrix scene, I had an epiphany.  Questions and concerns that I had struggled with for years just spun like tumblers in a lock, fell into place, and the lock opened.  I have no doubt, to this day, that the Holy Spirit gave me an illumination into understanding this hard truth that for many years was part of my block-wall that I built to separate myself from God.

First I explained in brief the scene bewteen Neo and the Oracle.  The whole concept of "understanding the choices we make," even though these choices are "already made."  In truth, this bit of movie dialogue only served as the catalyst in my brain, but it truly never answered the whole question.  But it is a good point of reference, especially with kids who have seen the movie and hopefully will get that same catalyst I had.

Then we moved onto the question: If God is all-knowing (Omniscient), and knows what decisions we will make, and knows who will choose Him and who will not, why does He allow people to be born who He knows will not choose Him? 

To this I say: If God only created people who He knew would follow Him, at what point during their life did they have true, free will?  If they never had a choice, and God created them, knowing they would choose Him, then they never had free will. 

Think about the word Freedom.  If you break it down it becomes FREE, and the second half comes from DOOM.  FREEDOM is that you are FREE to CHOOSE your DOOM.

BUT, if God created people with free will, a true ability to choose, freedom, then there would HAVE to be the option that they can choose NOT to follow Him.  This does not mean that He is happy about this.  God still anguishes over the fact that people do not choose Him.  But if He took that option out of the picture, he takes away our greatest ability, the thing that makes us Human: FREEDOM -> the ability to choose.  Then we become Robots who serve God, and that is not why He created humans.

So, our free will, our own ability to choose, that gift of freedom that we all cherish, is the very reason God will allow the birth of people that He knows will not choose Him. 

"What is the point of creating people who will suffer?" Well, God offers everyone a choice, a simple one, either to choose Him, or not.  When those people who do not choose Him go through life, and suffer (just like those who do choose God - we all suffer on this earth; as it is now an imperfect, flawed and damaged place) it serves as a learning experience for us all.  Like Neo, we must now understand the choices that were (or will be) made.  If you take away that suffering, then you circle back on your logic, to taking away our freedom of choice.  And then we begin the discussion again.

Frankie understood that, she said.  (I truly hoped I hadn't confused her even more, and I later heard that night from someone she talked to that she did now understand.  So I hope all is well.)

Then we go back to the concept of God knowing everything we do, even before we do it.  How can an Omniscient God who bestows upon us free will to choose our path in life, possibly know every little choice we will make? 

Actually, this ends up coming back to the concept that God, while being near to us and omnipresent (literally, everywhere and everywhen at the same time) is also existing on a level that is far above and outside of us, in that He can see and know about everything throughout all of time and space - past, present, and future. 

Knowing that God can see from that angle leads me to use the concept of looking at a globe, or a map that shows roads, buildings, etc. (Like on Google Maps that shopw a hybrid of road maps and satellite imagery) 

I asked Frankie if she is driving yet, to which she said yes.  I asked her, then, when you get out on the road and start driving, with or without a particular destination, how many options do you have on how to get there?  Usually, lots of options, even though most of the time there's only one direct way.  From your persepctive in the driver's seat, you only see what is in your immediate view.  You may have some knowledge of the roads, but sometimes that is not enough.  If someone was in orbit, or even just flying above you at a distance high enough to see far before you, they can relay information on obstacles and routes.

This relates to us in our life in the way God exists above and around us, with His omniscience.  As we are born and live, traveling the roads of our lives, God can see far ahead of us.  He can see our intersections, other drivers, and obstacles and accidents waiting to happen.  Sometimes we heed His warnings, sometimes we don't.  The road signs have been placed and directions have been given in His Holy Word, the Bible.  These directions have been laid out for all humanity, and they all have the choice to make, to follow those directions or not.

Frankie understood this analogy and asked if she could use the explanations to share.  Of course I said yes, as long as I didn't ultimately confuse here even worse.  As I mentioned before, she said she wasn't and it was all good. (I hope!)

So anyways, it felt pretty good to talk with someone else who was experiencing the same kind of dilemma I had experienced in the past, sharing how I had worked it out and having my explanation help them answer their own dilemma.

It just goes to show you that God uses the Holy Spirit to give illumination into all sorts of things, by all sorts of things, to help us understand the world we live in and the problems we create for ourselves, and yes, sometimes for others.

Well, I started writing this early this morning, got distracted dozens of times by work (ugh) and tried not to lose my train of thought.  Hopefully I made better sense  last night than I explained here. ;-)

Finished (finally) at 12:35:29 pm.


Injected into the Ether by Mike at 7:25 AM CST
Updated: Friday, January 12, 2007 11:33 AM CST
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Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Inaugural Blog-ural
Mood:  not sure
Topic: Miscellaneous

Okie dokie... Let me try doing this blog thing one more time...

*sigh* Like I haven't done a dozen different blogs in the past, which have all fell to the wayside... Perhaps this one will last...

(yeah...right)

Not much to report, except i found one of my old websites and decided to try and log in (succeeded) and start making some updates (also succeeded) and now all is left is to keep it up (yet to be seen)...

Which led to this blog...

And, I thought it might be a place to mention any updates on my new LibriVox projects that I am working on... Its just hard to get them done quickly, due to the fact that the only time I have to record is at work here in the office before 8 am... And laely, I've had people actually showing up and calling the office between 7 and 8... *sigh* i really wish i coud get internet at home...

 Oh well....


Injected into the Ether by Mike at 1:11 PM CST
Updated: Friday, January 12, 2007 11:34 AM CST
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