You Can Trust Your Bible

“Very critical alert!” These really scary images have been going around social media recently. “You can’t trust your Bible!” they implicitly (and in some cases explicitly) shout. “It’s being corrupted by—” well, that’s part of the problem. It’s unclear who’s supposed to have corrupted the Bible, but apparently it’s happened.

In actuality, it’s not actually worrying at all because it’s asking the wrong question. This is a very long post about how you can indeed trust your Bible. But before we deal with the question they should be asking, let’s consider what the NIV and other modern translations are trying to accomplish from omitting these verses, if that were indeed what happened.

The Inscrutable Agenda

  1. If they were trying to advance some gay agenda (as this meme spuriously implies), why wouldn’t they remove, for example, Romans 1:27? What do they gain from trying to throw doubt upon this teaching of Christ that is not only preached elsewhere, but attested to by His very life and death? What do they gain from removing a verse that speaks to His love and grace?
  2. So do these verses represent a core doctrine of the faith? Well, kind of. By which I mean, yes, but not exclusively; it’s also in Luke 19:10 and John 3:17. So if Zondervan was trying to change the Bible and remove some core element of doctrine, why would they leave it intact in two other places? Why just these two verses?
  3. Further, If they were trying to remove these verses from the Bible, why did they include it? That’s right, it’s actually there; in footnotes for this verse in almost every published version of the Bible, the “omitted” words are actually included verbatim.

In short, if they were trying to remove a concept from the Bible, they chose poorly and did a remarkably bad job of it. And they’ve continued to do a remarkably bad job of it for almost 50 years now, apparently, as the NIV has undergone multiple revisions and I can’t find evidence that any further verses have been “removed.”

The Shady Publisher

Now, let’s see about the claim that this is some ploy by a secular publisher. It’s true that the NIV is published by HarperCollins, but it’s untrue that it’s not published by Zondervan; in fact, Zondervan was acquired as a subsidiary of HarperCollins in 1988, and remains a separate but wholly owned entity of the parent company.

This may seem semantic, but Zondervan does appear to enjoy a certain measure of autonomy from its parent company. Further, the change appears to have been made before the acquisition; if you’ll notice the timeline, Zondervan was acquired by HarperCollins four years after the publication of the third revision of the NIV to not include this verse.

Further, it’s disingenuous to suggest that HarperCollins is some liberal outfit trying to destroy good conservative people. HarperCollins is itself owned by News Corp, which was founded by Rupert Murdoch as the publishing arm of the same company that runs Fox News. News Corp has been spun off from its parent company, but is still run by Murdoch, well known as a profoundly conservative man.

Finally, while Zondervan publishes the NIV in the United States, the version has other publishers worldwide. Biblica themselves, the translators, publish the Bible digitally, for instance.

The Right Question

I said above that this meme is insinuating the wrong question. What I meant by that is that we shouldn’t be asking “why were these omitted from the NIV (and ESV, and almost all other modern versions)?” but “Why were they added to the KJV?”

The fact is, in the 17th century when the KJV was being translated, they didn’t have manuscripts as reliable as we have now. The manuscripts which include these verses are hundreds of years older than the manuscripts which don’t, and we’ve only found those manuscripts in the last few hundred years of archaeology. The Textus Receptus, which was a Greek version of the New Testament used by the King James translators for the Authorized Version, was assembled and collated by the scholar Erasmus only about a hundred years before the KJV began translation. The documents from which it was sourced are themselves also not original, dating largely from the fourth and fifth centuries; and Erasmus’ published version was “adjusted” to more closely match the Latin Vulgate version.

In the nearly half-millennium since the translation of the King James version, archaeology has exploded as a field of study. We have more examples of the Word of God available to us than ever, and by and large, they all say the same thing. Further, the New Testament manuscripts and fragments we have access to now are, in some cases, less than a century separated from the life of Christ and, when taken in context as a whole along with the Textus Receptus, can be seen to represent Scripture, preserved by God and handed down throughout the ages.

Kept Pure In All Ages

Most confessions and creeds hold that the Bible is God-breathed and infallible in its original manuscripts; the Westminster Confession, to which my church and I hold, agrees. I would further assert that, just as none of us individually are the people of God, but all of us together are, the whole of Scripture has been preserved as a community of texts through which we see what God originally inspired the authors to write.

But the 1611 KJV was not an original manuscript; it has longevity, and it is valuable, but it is not infallible. It shouldn’t be considered the source or arbiter of textual criticism, and this meme makes a mistake on that point.

Most Christian Biblical scholars also believe that, while God hasn’t inspired any further Scripture, He does protect the Scripture he already wrote. This meme makes a further mistake there, in assuming that the publishers of the Bible are more powerful than the Author of it and can stymie His will.

In the end, it seems we just reckon with a simple choice: did a hyperconservative chief executive order a publishing company he didn’t own to make make a liberal change in a version they didn’t author to two Bible verses which don’t change doctrine in any appreciable way for no apparent or discernable reason, and then maintain that deception until some random person on the internet noticed? Or was it just a mistake in the manuscripts available in 1611 that we discovered in the 350 intervening years between the KJV and the NIV?

The bottom line is, you can trust your Bible in most widely-available modern versions. It’s been independently verified by people smarter than this random guy on the internet, and it’s been protected by the God who wrote it.

On George Floyd

I’m pro-life. That’s why I’m grieved that George Floyd’s mother was given an extremely late-term abortion against her will by the Minneapolis Police Department.

I’m for rule of law. That’s why I’m furious that George Floyd’s guilt or innocence was not established in a court of law before his sentencing or execution.

I’m generally for smaller government intrusion on our lives. That’s why I’m concerned that the closest expression of government in the life of George Floyd committed such a broad overreach as to kill him.

I’m a fan of the Constitution. That’s why I’m upset that George Floyd’s Constitutional rights to free speech, due process, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, security in his person against unreasonable seizure, and protection against cruel and unusual punishment were all taken from him without writ or cause. That’s why I’m upset that the people protesting his death are being denied the right to peaceably assemble, forcing them to assemble unpeaceably (because when peaceable assembly is prohibited, unpeaceable assembly is required. That’s literally the story of the American revolution). That’s why I’m upset that the press is being denied their right to cover these events.

But more than any of those things, I’m a Christian. I believe that people are made in the image and likeness of God. That’s why I’m worried about the officer’s callous disregard for that image in George Floyd, and the same disregard in (thankfully fewer this time) Christians who would profess the same belief whenever it would concern a white man.

I haven’t spoken much about this, because what is there to say? Yes, if you were upset by Kaepernick’s knee but not by the knee on George Floyd’s neck, you need to examine your idols. That was said much better than by me. Yes, the commodification of life leads to looting when life is taken unjustly. That was said much better than by me. Yes, Trump’s rhetoric has encouraged this behavior and the reaction against it. That was said much better than by me.

But I was a Republican, so I see in this injustice something that need not be—should not be—a partisan issue, something that Republicans like I was can get behind. And I am a Christian, so I see the intersection here of divine grief and worldly sorrow that Christians (Evangelical and not) can get behind.

So I guess I must speak now.

• • •

This post was originally on Facebook. Apparently this is a problem, because it was removed without notice or explanation. So I’ve put it up here.

DuckTales 2017: Main Title Overanalysis

Okay, so I was excited about the upcoming new DuckTales TV show before. I loved the original, which I caught in reruns when I was a kid (being only two years old when it debuted).  But Disney released the title sequence for it yesterday, and there is SO. MUCH. in there to love.  I’m gonna overanalyze it here with my thoughts as I watched it the first time and how I feel about it now.  Strap in.

The Beginning

From the first guitar strum I was loving this song.  It’s such a perfect update of the original; it’s in a slightly peppier key and tempo than the original, which is nice, and it’s sung by a woman who definitely seems to get the tone.

And then look at this animation!

Number One Dime

The halftone dot comic book style is perfect for a show like this, and they have Scrooge’s look down perfectly. I love how determined he looks to get the Number One Dime.

One thing you don’t hear here is that they have David Tennant as the voice for Scrooge McDuck, which I can’t decide how I feel about. On one hand, the sad loss of Alan Young last year means there’s no way he could reprise the role (like he did brilliantly in the 2013 video game remaster of the original super-hard NES DuckTales game). But I don’t know that Tennant has the right sound; though since he’s Scottish, it’ll probably sound perfectly fine.

Race cars, lasers, aeroplanes

Ooh, it’s not just a halftone comic book style, it’s a full-on comic book style, with panels and gutters and everything! I don’t know how much of that will last, but I am hopeful. And just look at this visual gag:

RacecarsLasersAeroplanes

I mean, okay, it’s not as subtle in the actual title sequence since she’s actually singing “Race cars, lasers, aeroplanes…” during it, but it’s still clever and a great fit with the humor of DuckTales. Launchpad McQuack’s personality looks right on. And makes me really hope for a Darkwing Duck reboot…

The First “Woo-ooo!”

If you know the DuckTales theme song, you know about the “Woo-ooo!” And this one is incredibly satisfying. I don’t know what it is about that giant crab snapping its claw in time with the beat, but it just feels right.

Woo-hoo

In other news, it looks like they’re making Webby a pretty integral part of this series. I like that. Kate Micucci has a really distinctive and fun voice, and it’ll be nice to see what they do with her. I really like most of the way that Disney and their properties have been portraying women recently, and I think this’ll be a fun addition to that trend.

More Donald

So, Donald Duck makes a number of appearances in this trailer, leading me to believe we’ll get a lot more of him in the series than we did in the old one. I’m intrigued, since the plot of the old version was dependent on Donald being in the Navy and thus unable to take care of his sons, which is how they got put under Scrooge’s care in the first place. But the little snippets we get of him here are interesting enough; being a concerned dad. That really resonates with me at this stage in my life.

More Donald

Bouncing Dime

I love the mechanic of the Number One Dime bouncing through the comic book world as the thing that brings us from one scene to the next. It really ties everything together and – wait, is that Mrs. Beakley driving the jeep?!

Beakley

Wild.

And man, isn’t that just like Huey, Dewey, and Louie to be stuck on a charging rhino. Just like old times, thirty years ago. But look- more Webby again! Loving it.

The Second “Woo-ooo!”

The YouTube version of this theme song has the vocals a bit compressed and quiet, but the Facebook version has the audio very crisp and clear. I hope YouTube just killed the sound with its compression algorithm or something, because that “woo-ooo” just doesn’t hit as hard. And I do miss that old trumpet part.

Woo-hoo Two

There’s Webby with some more derring-do. This sequence really feels right, too. It’s a very 80’s/90’s cartoon thing, the running-in-a-straight-line-away-from-a-ghoulie thing. Very Scooby-Doo in tone. Perfect for a DuckTales reboot.

Also, I just want to comment again about the incredibly tight rhythm this new title sequence has. The old one tried it with this moment right before the bridge, where the pie-throwing is kind of synchronized to the synth notes played into the bridge—

old-bridge

—but it’s nowhere near as well-paced as the new one.

The Coin Dive

Much ink has been spilled about the inherent ridiculousness of the Scrooge Coin Dive, but—

coindive

—it’s just so zany and perfect for his character. This is a great sequence, with Scrooge being inordinately athletic and acrobatic. It’s great. Plus, the coins interact with the halftone nature of the world so well here.

The Third “Woo-ooo!”

Now we have this really clever chase sequence involving the big DuckTales villains: Flintheart Glomgold, Magicka De Spell, and the Beagle Boys. Plus several characters I don’t recognize, which I assume means they have created some new characters for this show, too.

thechase

All the while, Scrooge is showing off the fact that he’s a duck and can swim really well. And there’s Mrs. Beakley again, being all awesome and stuff to save the Nephews and Webby while Scrooge snatches his Number One Dime.

I do want to talk about the music here. They’ve done a slight remix to combine all of the final phrases from the original song into an extended verse that really amps up the fact that this is going to be a madcap adventure show, at the loss of a couple of “Woo-ooo!”s. I didn’t like it at first, but I think I’m a fan now. Still miss the trumpets, though.

And the dramatic tension of the scene builds and builds as the baddies are closing in on Scrooge and the gang, until he catches the dime—

The Final “Woo-oo!”

—and everything else falls into place. He flips it from his cane into his hand (ducks have hands?) right before Launchpad crashes the plane into the “T” they’re all standing in, knocking the baddies off and saving everybody.

finale

I think the thing I really like about this title sequence is that it feels like a little one-minute episode of DuckTales. It’s brilliant, and I can’t wait to see the show.

INTEGRITAS

In 1939, the English Heraldic Authority granted a coat of arms to Joseph Edward Davies featuring lions, chevrons, a hand holding a spear, and a scroll with the word “INTEGRITAS” (Latin for Integrity, obviously). Davies was the third husband of Majorie Merriweather Post, a philanthropist, socialite, and owner of the Post Cereal Company after her father’s death in 1895.

integritas

She was the wealthiest woman in the United States for some time, and commissioned a lavish estate in Palm Beach, Florida. The 126-room, 110,000-square-foot home was willed to the National Park Service upon her death in 1973, in the hopes that it would be used for state visits or as a retreat for US Presidents. A “winter White House” of sorts.

The NPS was sadly unable to maintain the property, and in 1981 it was returned to the Post Foundation by an act of Congress. The Post Foundation put the property up for sale, and it was purchased in 1985 by a real estate speculator and businessman, who turned the estate into a members-only club and resort, then turning the management of the property over to his wife (interestingly, this owner would also eventually have three spouses). He also took a liking to the coat of arms granted to the original owner’s husband, appropriating it for himself against the rules of the English Heraldic Authority. Before deploying it as his own, he replaced the word “INTEGRITAS” with his own last name.

Ironically, Post’s home, named “Mar-a-Lago” (Spanish for “Sea-to-Lake”) eventually served the function she had hoped it would serve, when the estate’s new owner was elected President of the United States in 2016 and immediately began using it as a Presidential retreat. Also ironically, the man who stole a coat of arms and replaced the word “integrity” on it with his own name is now embroiled in one of the most conspicuously fraught combinations of scandals in US presidential history.

trump

It gets more interesting.  When Donald Trump tried to open a golf club in Scotland using the coat of arms, his application for the trademark was rejected because the coat of arms was not his to use.  So, when the club opened in 2012, he instead used a manufactured, unofficial coat of arms.  The new version moves the lion to the top of the shield, giving him the spear and the motto “Numquam Concedere” (Latin for “Never Give Up”); it also adds an extra chevron, and includes – I am not making this up – a two-faced eagle.

numquamconcedere

As my wife said when I discovered this story, “we really are living in a novel.”

Source for much of the information for this story was this New York Times article.

X-Germ-X

This was originally typed out to a Reddit user who asked the following question. His comment was removed before my reply was complete, but I had already done all the research, so I decided to drop it in anyway.

So you are telling me sanitizer does not remove germs?

Yes, correct. Many studies have shown hand sanitizer to be largely ineffective; alcohol and Triclosan deployed via hand sanitizers allow most dangerous, disease-causing bacteria to survive. The “99.9%” that Purell talks about? That’s largely stuff that’s part of your microbiome and is supposed to be there. The .1% is mostly the stuff you don’t want, but hand sanitizer can’t touch it.

In addition (and probably more frightening), hand sanitizers may encourage antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria to proliferate, while also giving them a relatively simple transmission vector (namely, your hands).

Triclosan has also been linked to higher rates of allergy diagnosis, meaning that it is actually negatively impacting your immune system.

Finally, Triclosan leeches BPA from clear bottles (like the ones it comes in), receipt paper, and other sources, causing them to be absorbed into your skin much more readily and potentially leading to higher instances of hormone disorders, cancer, heart disease, infertility, and diabetes.

So, no, don’t use hand sanitizer. When you sneeze, use a tissue if you have one, or your upper sleeve (that is to say, elbow) if you don’t.

Stay healthy out there!

Airplane on a Treadmill

by Randall Munroe of xkcd.  Originally posted at blog.xkcd.com; reposted here for language sensitive audiences.

airplane

Feynman used to tell a story about a simple lawn-sprinkler physics problem. The nifty thing about the problem was that the answer was immediately obvious, but to some people it was immediately obvious one way and to some it was immediately obvious the other. (For the record, the answer to Feynman problem, which he never tells you in his book, was that the sprinkler doesn’t move at all. Moreover, he only brought it up to start an argument to act as a diversion while he seduced your mother in the other room.)

The airplane/treadmill problem is similar. It contains a basic ambiguity, and people resolve it one of a couple different ways. The tricky thing is, each group thinks the other is making a very simple physics mistake. So you get two groups each condescendingly explaining basic physics and math to the other. This is why, for example, the airplane/treadmill problem is a banned topic on the xkcd forums (along with argument about whether 0.999… = 1).

The problem is as follows:sauropod

Imagine a 747 is sitting on a conveyor belt, as wide and long as a runway. The conveyor belt is designed to exactly match the speed of the wheels, moving in the opposite direction. Can the plane take off?

The practical answer is “yes”. A 747’s engines produce a quarter of a million pounds of thrust. That is, each engine is powerful enough to launch a brachiosaurus straight up (see diagram). With that kind of force, no matter what’s happening to the treadmill and wheels, the plane is going to move forward and take off.

But there’s a problem. Let’s take a look at the statement “The conveyor belt is designed to exactly match the speed of the wheels”. What does that mean?

Well, as I see it, there are three possible interpretations.  Let’s consider each one based on this diagram:

treadmill_diagram

  1. vB=vC: The belt always moves at the same speed as the bottom of the wheel. This is always true if the wheels aren’t sliding, and could simply describe a treadmill with no motor. I haven’t seen many people subscribe to this interpretation.
  2. vC=vW: That is, if the axle is moving forward (relative to the ground, not the treadmill) at 5 m/s, the treadmill moves backward at 5 m/s. This is physically plausible. All it means is that the wheels will spin twice as fast as normal, but that won’t stop the plane from taking off. People who subscribe to this interpretation tend to assume the people who disagree with them think airplanes are powered by their wheels.
  3. vC=vW+vB: What if we hook up a speedometer to the wheel, and make the treadmill spin backward as fast as the speedometer says the plane is going forward? Then the “speedometer speed” would be vW+vB — the relative speed of the wheel over the treadmill. This is, for example, how a car-on–a-treadmill setup would work. This is the assumption that most of the ‘stationary plane’ people subscribe to. The problem with this is that it’s an ill-defined system. For non-slip tires, vB=vC. So vC=vW+vC. If we make vWpositive, there is no value vC can take to make the equation true. (For those stubbornly clinging to vestiges of reality, in a system where the treadmill responds via a PID controller, the result would be the treadmill quickly spinning up to infinity.) So, in this system, the plane cannot have a nonzero speed. (We’ll call this the “JetBlue” scenario.)

But if we push with the engines, what happens? The terms of the problem tell us that the plane cannot have a nonzero speed, but there’s no physical mechanism that would plausibly make this happen. The treadmill could spin the wheels, but the acceleration would destroy them before it stopped the plane. The problem is basically asking “what happens if you take a plane that can’t move and move it?” It might intrigue literary critics, but it’s a poor physics question.

So, people who go with interpretation #3 notice immediately that the plane cannot move and keep trying to condescendingly explain to the #2 crowd that nothing they say changes the basic facts of the problem. The #2 crowd is busy explaining to the #3 crowd that planes aren’t driven by their wheels. Of course, this being the internet, there’s also a #4 crowd loudly arguing that even if the plane was able to move, it couldn’t have been what hit the Pentagon.

All in all, it’s a lovely recipe for an internet argument, and it’s been had too many times. So let’s see if we can avoid that. I suggest posting stories about something that happened to you recently, and post nice things about other peoples’ stories. If you’re desperate to tell me that I’m wrong on the internet, don’t bother. I’ve snuck onto the plane into first class with the #5 crowd and we’re busy finding out how many cocktails they’ll serve while we’re waiting for the treadmill to start. God help us if, after the fourth round of drinks, someone brings up the two envelopes paradox.

Munroe’s website is typically licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License; that license is assumed here.

Things Donald Trump Doesn’t Know

This list is intended to be updated regularly as new information becomes available.

  • Donald Trump didn’t know that Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in 2014, despite it being one of the most reported stories of the last two years, a major destabilizing factor for Eastern Europe ever since, and a contributor to the imminent threat of war between Ukraine and Russia.
  • Donald Trump thought that Brexit was a Scottish Independence referendum, despite the fact that Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the UK during that 2014 vote, but voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU during that 2016 referendum.
  • Donald Trump doesn’t know how to run a business.  Trump-owned businesses have declared bankruptcies four times, costing literally thousands of people to lose their jobs, and despite several bailouts from his own father. Despite (his own) popular opinion, his only major financial successes have been a few hotels and a television show. His failures, however, are numerous; in addition to the four bankruptcies, he has run nine semi-successful companies into the ground; no non-building property that he has ever taken over survived his management.
  • Donald Trump doesn’t know that the Constitution refuses him the ability to negotiate down the nation’s debt. And he doesn’t know that doing so would essentially destroy our ability to borrow money in the future (at best) or wreck the world economy entirely, plunging us into yet another global recession (at worst).
  • Donald Trump does not understand that the deterring factor in owning nuclear weapons is not in using them, but simply in having them. He does not understand that using them would (not could, but would) activate Mutually Assured Destruction responses that would destroy the planet. He has also considered using nuclear weapons in Europe, and is unaware that the president does not have the power to declare war.
  • Donald Trump is unaware that a wall between the United States and Mexico would alienate the government of that nation, removing one of our major trade partners and political allies on the world stage, and leave us vulnerable to attack or (again) recession. This is not speculation; the Mexican government has said as much.
  • Donald Trump does not know that leaving NAFTA would cost the United States 3.5 million jobs and plunge us into a recession.
  • Donald Trump does not know that the Constitution does not give him the power to “open up” libel laws and sue journalistic organizations that he does not agree with.
  • Donald Trump does not know that Hispanics did not come up with the taco bowl.
  • Donald Trump doesn’t know how to make a profit.  After beginning his career in 1976 with a value of around $200 million (about $846 million in 2016 dollars), he’s managed to increase it to $4.5 billion by today.  Leaving aside the fact that a little less than 1/4 of that fortune comes from tax subsidies in New York alone, and another 1/4 of it is the inflation-adjusted value of the original money his father gave him, if he had placed that $200m into an index fund (one of the lowest-risk investments available) and reinvested the dividends, his value would be around $12 billion.  The fact that he didn’t do that means that he’s not a good businessman, and he’s not even very good at faking it.

One or two of these statements could be slip-ups or bad info. But all of them? Advocating policy that would cause major recessions in three different ways, global war in two different ways, and at least two different international incidents, not to mention his clear disdain for the U.S. Constitution, do not in any way sound like “competency” to me.

Pokémon Go-Spy-On-People-For-Me?

This warning has popped up on my news feed several times today, written by someone whose name I am going to withhold for his protection.  Let’s take a look at the claims he’s making, shall we? Information in blockquotes is exactly as posted on Facebook, with no edits made by me except to break it up into investigatable chunks.

SERIOUS WARNING: I want to warn you all about this Pokemon Go app that is all the rage right now.. If you know me at all, you know that I have the inside scoop of what is going on with technology on pretty high levels…

That’s certainly debatable, based on what we’re about to see.

Well, you are familiar with the Google Street View car that drives around and takes 360 degree video and uploads it to google maps for the world to see, etc..

Let me just stop you right there. First, I must insist that the Google Street View car is emphatically not a privacy risk. The car does not enter private property or take images of anything that is not 100% completely public, visible from the street by any driver or passenger. Second, the Street View car doesn’t take video. It takes 360-degree still photos at regular intervals. You may think this is just splitting hairs, but it’s actually quite an important distinction: while you could conceivably discover private information about a person from a video of their actions, a still image provides no personally identifiable information that could not be gleaned by a driver’s glimpse as he passes by.

This Pokemon Go app is a miniature version of the google street video car, and it has you all going around taking videos of inside your house, your yard, and everywhere else you go,

…a function that you can turn off using a switch in the top right hand corner of every screen.

and UPLOADING IT TO THE GOOGLE MAPPING SYSTEM PERMANENTLY..

This is patently untrue. If you have the “AR” switch turned on, the images are not only not sent to the server, they’re actually not even saved to your device. This can be debunked by anyone who checks the app’s data usage (a simple function for anyone with an Android phone); the data usage is far, far too low to be uploading images.

In addition, though Niantic (the developer of Pokémon Go) was once a subsidiary of Google, they were sold by the company last year as a part of their restructuring.

The game even makes you pan your camera around to get the full panorama of the area, which is also tied to the GPS coordinates of that location..

Again, during investigations of the app by outside programmers, it was discovered that images are not even saved to the phone, much less uploaded to any server.

You are all unknowingly uploading video of your most private property right into the new world order NSA database..

This is hilarious. Video uploads are a VERY slow and data-intensive process; just try uploading a 30-second YouTube video. That act takes about five minutes over an LTE connection. If the app isn’t uploading photos (which, again, it’s quite apparent it is not), it certainly isn’t uploading video.

I’m not even going to touch the “new world order NSA database” thing, or the fact that this guy has been ending every sentence with a double period for some reason, or the fact that he used the phrase “all the rage” at the beginning, which basically indicates that he doesn’t have any understanding of current culture or technology at all.

So don’t let anybody play the game in your house or anywhere on your property..

And don’t forget your tinfoil hats.

The bottom line is, people are going to be scared anytime an app or game makes a big splash in the world. But in this case, it’s actually gathering less information on you than Facebook is. So don’t take the word of one simple person about how terrible something could be. Check multiple sources and make sure that they aren’t saying something in a vacuum. And don’t forget to try and understand something before you think it’s an evil plot to take over the world.

As for Pokémon Go? It’s getting people outside. They’re hanging out together, interacting with strangers positively, and being courteous to each other. The game is a great example of how technology can improve us as human beings. Let’s not be so quick to tear it down.

Resolved toward Reconciliation

Historically speaking, the Church has done some pretty crazy and ludicrous stuff.  Last week, one part of it repented of a crazy and ludicrous season in their history.

So, I’m a member of a Church.  That church is a member of a Presbytery.  That presbytery is a member of a Denomination.  And during the 44th General Assembly that was held last week, that denomination – the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) – adopted an overture that has historic ramifications for the people under its care.

Historic Wounds

The PCA has a storied past going back to the beginning of the Civil War.  The Presbyterian Church in the USA denomination split along regional lines when war broke out, with the Southern members forming what was then known as the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America.  With a name and history like that, you can imagine their thoughts on race and reconciliation.  But in 1973, responding to concerns over theological weakness and abandonment of orthodoxy, as well as ordination of women, the PCA split from the denomination in a meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, while their parent denomination (now renamed) joined what would become the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)  The newly-formed PCA affirmed the Westminster Confession, Reformed doctrine, and the Book of Church Order; but they did not distance themselves from the historic actions and attitudes of their parent denominations.

In fact, they issued a letter with their desire to be a “continuing church” as the denomination formed.  “We have called ourselves ‘Continuing’ Presbyterians because we seek to continue the faith of the founding fathers of that Church,” they said.  They truly intended to carry on the tradition of faith that they believed the PC(U.S.A.) was abandoning.

And, unfortunately, that meant taking on themselves the mantle of guilt for a great many racial wrongs.

The Road to Reconciliation

In 2002, the 30th General Assembly addressed one of those things; namely, slavery.  To paraphrase: “The heinous sins attendant with unbiblical forms of servitude stand in opposition to the Gospel, and we confess our involvement in these sins.”

It was a rather monumental step for a historically Southern, formerly confederate denomination to have taken.  But in the view of many, it was not enough.  Because, while slavery may possibly be the blackest mark on the United States’ spotty human rights record, it is not the only one in which Americans are complicit.  The Civil Rights movement, which became the environment from which the PCA was born, sought to address another dark mark upon the history of the United States; but while it made great strides, the massive racial dissent that have broken up in the years and decades since that movement prove that the Civil Rights movement did not in fact complete its work.

The deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner have brought this incompletion to a boiling point in our nation; and at the 43rd General Assembly, the PCA resolved to study racial reconciliation for the following meeting.  That was last year, and the 44th General Assembly took place in June of 2016.

Repentance to Reconcile

The final document that the Overtures Committee sent to the floor of the General Assembly was approved with stunning unity; 90% of churches in the PCA affirmed the language gladly.  The full text is below, but the bottom line is that the PCA is repenting and seeking forgiveness for their actions; for not only failing to pursue racial unity, but also actively working against it.  It recommends church discipline be exercised against members and churches who have obstructed reconciliation or continue to do so.

It’s a surprising move for a denomination with such deep roots in the “old South.”  And I think it is a Godly move.  But someone who is more closely affected by this overture, Jemar Tisby of the Reformed African American Network, said of the resolution, “For those present on the evening of June 23, 2016, it may have been one of the most refreshing times in the denomination’s history.”

As a black person in an overwhelmingly white branch of the church, I have to constantly evaluate whether I’m truly welcome here or not. A strong statement repenting, not just of racism generally, but the more recent lack of vocal support for racial equality during the Civil Rights Movement, is necessary because silence about the matter tacitly communicates either support or indifference. Now I can confidently say that the PCA is both aware of and remorseful for its historic connections with racism, especially from the mid-20th century to the present.

Jemar Tisby, raanetwork.org

I’m grateful for that, too; even as a white man, I do not want to be associated with an organization that is indifferent toward – or even supporting of – racial inequality, whether tacitly or openly.  As an organization, it is important that we have a strongly-worded, definitive statement repudiating and repenting of the actions of our organization in the past and present.  It’s a good start, at least.

Resolution Is Not Enough

But Tisby goes on to say that this is not a done deal.  We must continue pursuing repentance and reconciliation in this area as in every area of sin to which we are prone.

[H]aving this overture in the records only helps at first. The actual lived experience of ethnic minorities in churches and presbyteries will prove whether the denomination is truly ready to make room at the table for historically under-represented groups.

Jemar Tisby, raanetwork.org

The first steps toward that have been taken in Overture 43.  But, beautifully, Overtures 44 and 45 take the next steps; establishing a Unity Fund to financially aid the raising up of minority church leaders in the coming years, as well as a study committee to pursue diversity in the leadership of the PCA.  In my opinion, these aren’t merely lip-service reactions; they’re repentance-motivated steps toward true reconciliation.

Of course, this is not the end of the story.  We must continue pursuing reconciliation as individuals and as churches.

Moving Forward

Sadly, the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile happened within the short weeks after the vote, and our response to these actions as a church will determine whether we have been moved by the resolution that the PCA adopted on June 23.  This is the time which will decide whether we have been affected by this overture; whether we are truly repentant or simply affirming of a resolution that “makes us look good.”  This is a time to support the black community, to come around them in sadness and support, and to pursue justice alongside our brothers and sisters of other races.  For we are more like other believers of a different race – with whom we will worship God forever in the presence of the angels – than we are even with our family, if they are unbelievers.

I pray that this will be the a time of real reconciliation, and that we will repent without ceasing of our involvement in all injustice; and particularly of racism.

Praise God that He has made us in His image.

Recommended Reading:

“Reflections from a Black Presbyterian on the PCA’s Overture on Racial Reconciliation”, by Jemar Tisby

PCA General Assembly #30: Overture 20 (2002)

PCA General Assembly #44: Overture 43 and supporting documentation (2016)

“2016 PCA General Assembly: Moving Forward Together”, by Richard D. Phillips

In the coming years, the PCA will be tackling the role of women in ministry, having established a study committee in General Assembly 44.  You can read more about this OTHER historic event on this site.