Sunday, July 30, 2006

Grandfather's advice to parents.

Sex is free and easy today. Stigmas and spiritual consequences do not rein in the sexual behavior of children as much as it once did. I'll offer a little grandfatherly advice.

Use the instincts of your children to influence their behavior. All people, including children, have one instinct that trumps their instinct for sex -- self-preservation.

A child who is convinced that having sex poses a personal threat will be far less likely to do so. Schedule them with a physician and let them learn the possible physical consequences. Schedule them with a case worker who deals with unwed mothers. Schedule them with an unwed mother who regrets her behavior. Schedule them with a person who suffers from an STD. Schedule them with a knowledgeable and compassionate "holy man" who can advise them of spiritual consequences. Use whatever positive peer pressure exists in their environment -- church, abstaining groups, etc. Use family -- grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. Present a united family front.

Use these outside resources because familiarity breeds contempt -- and your children are very familiar with you. Going to these lengths will also impress upon them the importance the subject is to you. That, along with your love, will make a difference.

Understanding and fearing the possible consequences will help ensure your child will abstain from sex entirely, or at least take adequate precautions. Be pro-active. Have a plan early and work it in time. Do not complacently give them your advice and hope it will be sufficient. Give it your best shot and they MIGHT make it to adulthood just fine, sex-wise.

Last, but certainly not least, the example you set (and have set in the past) will be a major factor.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Our bodies, our thoughts, our memories.

All are fundamentally expressions of energy. Perhaps immortality is simply the Creator retaining a record of each person's unique expression of energy -- than at some point reconstructing them (us). Accurate retention would mean we would never be lost. Accurate reconstruction would mean we would live again at His pleasure. Could this define the soul?

When did you get your soul?

We are genetically programmed to perpetuate our species. Some say your "soul" is but an expression of your program that refuses to accept your ultimate mortality. We Christians think differently, but ...

Few people would fuss over using embryonic stem cells from cattle. We are not instinctively protective of other species, nor do we think about cattle having "souls". Would we be as adamant about the issue if humans had no soul -- just a biology? Probably not.

Using that premise, let's consider the soul in relation to the biology. Let's step through some reproductive stages just for fun and consider when your soul may have appeared.

(1) At gametogenesis (ovum/sperm production), does the male sperm deliver the soul to the egg (or vice versa)? Was your soul within the DNA of one of these haploid cells?

(2) At fertilization? When haploid becomes diploid (zygote), did the joining of the pronuclei spark your soul? (This is where many would claim it happens, but later monozygotic twinning or chimerism throws a kink into this theory.)

(3) While a blastocyst (early cell division of the embryo before implantation)? This is the IVF/stem cell stage. Was there a critical cell mass required for your soul to exist?

(4) At implantation when the blastocyst hatches out, implants itself in the womb, secretes hCG, and "rescues" the corpus luteum? This is what signifies a "successful" pregnancy. Is this when your soul appeared?

(5) During the embryonic (first 8 weeks of gestation) stages of morula, blastula, and gastrula? Most major organs (including the brain) are formed. The heart starts beating and the blood type is established. Did your soul come with your brain, your heart, or maybe your blood?

(6) During the fetal stage (from 8 weeks until birth)? Everything matures. Only major event left to occur at birth is "the breath of life", which triggers rapid changes to the pulmonary and circulatory system. Did your soul arrive at that first "breath of life" (as my mother believes)?

What do you think? When did you become a "living soul"?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Faith is a Sacrifice

There is a common thread that runs through the Bible -- self sacrifice. It defines love, and I think it defines faith. In fact, I think faith is an expression of love. Let me try to explain.

If I, like the poor widow, give more than I can afford to another, it is self-sacrifice and it is love. If I give up my anger and hatred toward my enemy, it is self-sacrifice and it is love.

Faith requires self-sacrifice also. We accept something to be from God, not by it's evidence, but by, as the Bible calls it, "the foolishness of preaching." Logically, doing such a thing certainly appears to be foolish. We sacrifice our requirement for proof to accept something unprovable.

This seems to be our Creator's M.O. If there was only one objective piece of evidence that could be demonstrated, shared, and scientifically tested, faith in God would not be so illogical.

The rich man in Hell wanted Abraham to send Lazarus to his five brothers with a warning. He figured the only way they would believe the warning would be to see someone raised from the dead. Abraham's response seemed to say that anyone who could not be persuaded by scripture (faith) would not be persuaded by someone rising from the dead. (I don't quite understand why this would be so. I can't imagine my faith not being strengthened by talking to someone who rose from the dead. Perhaps it has something to do with wheat and tares.)

In effect, love without works is dead. Love is demonstrated by sacrifice. Faith is, without a doubt, a sacrifice. Therefore, faith may be a demonstration of love -- the most important requirement God places upon mankind. If so, it would explain such scriptures as, "By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves." and "Abraham's faith was counted to him for righteousness."

Friday, July 14, 2006

A Conceptual Question

Here's something I've been wondering about.

It's obvious that both the female egg and the male sperm have a form of life but no one would call either a “person”. At conception, when they unite to form a zygote, is that a person? I've always said yes, because from that point on it can be nothing else – but after a little thinking, I wonder if that is always true.

Let's assume for a moment that the zygote is a person and let's call that person Larry. Now, we all know that a zygote develops into a two-celled embryo through meiosis (cell division). However, every now and again the first cell division does not produce a two-celled embryo but rather a second zygote. These two zygotes, if nothing happens to them, will develop into what are called monozygotic (identical) twins.

Did Larry suddenly become two persons? Was he two persons to begin with? Was he even a person at all? Let's set those questions aside for the moment and assume that the second zygote is also a person whom we'll call Harry.

It is entirely possible that one or both of these zygotes could divide again to produce triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets etc. The same question applies as to whether one person can became two, three or more persons. When does a person become a person?

These questions are difficult enough but now it becomes even more complex. Rarely, the two zygotes (Larry and Harry) merge back together again into a two-celled embryo called a “chimera”. Who is this new embryo? Is it Larry or is it Harry?

This new embryo, this chimera, let's call it Larry, develops to term and is born. There is now no question at all that Larry is indeed a person. But here is the odd thing, some of the Larry's organs carry his genes but other organs carry the genes of his twin brother Harry. Larry may even have Harry’s blood type as well as his own. Biologically, Harry continues to exist within Larry (or perhaps it is Larry within Harry).

If a unique person with a unique soul begins at conception, what can be said about Larry and Harry?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Today's Rich Man and Lazarus.

In our world today, who is the the "Rich Man" and who is "Lazarus"? I'll give you my guess (since I know you really, really, really want to know).

"Rich Man" is anyone whose assets exceed his needs.
"Lazarus" is anyone whose needs exceed his assets.

I've been both "Rich Man" and "Lazarus". When I was "Lazarus", many "Rich Men" passed me by. When I was "Rich Man", I passed by many "Lazarus"s.

How about you?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Contempt of another person is egotistically ignorant -- whether of a child with Down's Syndrome, a "believer", a poor person, or a murderer. We might win the game, but the prize belongs to the roll of the dice -- not to us.

We are not self-made. We are the product of our genetics and our conditioning. Anyone born Hiltler will be Hitler. Same for Einstein, Mother Teresa, or your's truly. We can abhor or praise a person's behavior, but it's disingenuous to abhor or praise the person. We do what we do because we are who we are.

As Joe South's old song said, "Before you abuse, criticize and accuse, walk a mile in my shoes."

To feel contempt for another is like the Queen of England looking down her nose at a poor single mother. It is wrong on many levels.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Will the Real God Please Stand Up?

Who is the "real God"? Is He the maniacal mass murderer described in the Old Testament? Is He the loving Father of the New Testament who told us through His Son to "love your enemies" and "turn the other cheek"? Is He both?

I really don't know, but I hope He's closer to the NT version.

One thing I'm pretty sure of is that He's the same today as He's ever been. He's unchanging -- and He didn't do, nor cause to be done, the multiple atrocities and slaughters listed in the OT. We (Homo sapiens sapiens) did.

Animals are selfish. Animals are territorial. Animals are tribal. Animals are driven by their genome to survive and perpetuate their species. Homo sapiens are animals.

Unlike God, we do change -- but on an evolutionary time-line; in other words, very slowly. I doubt if one can find an atrocity that was committed in the OT that has not been repeated in every century since that time, right up to and including the one we're in now.

Joshua and Moses were conquerors. They (violently) stole land and assets (including women) from others. There were certainly not unique human leaders. My Native American ancestors had millions of square miles of their land (America) violently taken from them. Other notable land-grabbers in history would include the following:

Genghis Khan [Mongolia]
Alexander the Great [Macedonia]
Tamerlane [Turkestan]
Cyrus the Great [Persia]
Attila the Hun [Hun Empire]
Adolf Hitler [Germany]
Napoleon [France]
Mahmud of Ghazni [Afghanistan]
Francisco Pizarro [Spain]

In each and every case, the land theft was accompanied by horrible atrocities done by humans to humans. Humans do not need a God to direct their atrocities. They are very talented at committing them on their own.

About the only thing God may be seen guilty of is allowing an animal (mankind) to evolve into such a talented killer.

Watch the news. Such atrocities are not over, and won't be over as long as one person/tribe/country has something another needs/wants. As my wise brother Richard puts it, "We do what we do because we are what we are".

The OT scribes tried to whitewash Josuha's and Moses' beastial behavior (which, unlike other animals, they were capable of recognizing) by shifting the blame to God -- thus creating the terribly cruel OT God. Some still use God that way today (e.g., Islamic extremists).

However, it is more in vogue today to justify human territorial grabass with ideals such as Manifest Destiny, Democracy, "freeing the oppressed", and such whitewash, ad nauseam.

In the mean time, where is the "real God" and what is He doing? Don't know. Your guess is as good as mine. Taking notes?