Books Under Review (January 2021)

Posted on

Reviewing books is a mainstay of engaged writing, and has, I think, a number of uses to the world. These reviews reflect current cultural memes in some way by guiding how a book is approached, the books themselves, of course, are shedding illumination on some of their historical contexts, and definitely reflect language itself over time. Book reviews, I would say, can really be examples of meaningful societal consideration and can truly have some literary merit (not that I am saying mine have much merit). 🙂

I have been reviewing books for Library Journal for, I think, almost 8 years now, and plan to continue for a time. I get to read new books and I learn a lot. I mean, I get to read books that might not ever ‘come across my desk’ normally but that from which I get to learn a lot of new things about society, technology, history, literature, and sociology. Back in 2015, I even wrote reviews of books as part of a single long article about new books on privacy and surveillance. It was fun and, like I said, I learned a lot and contributed to the discussion of an important (its still important) subject. But, to look at the books being examined in this post, one of the books currently in-progress in the review procedure is for Library Journal and one is for another periodical.

Currently, I am reviewing the two titles below:

1. For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe In A Better World by Michael W Waters and Keisha Morris (illustrator). This picture book is about gun violence and hope for peace to stop said violence.

2. Genius Makers: The Mavericks Who Brought AI To Google, Facebook, And The World by Cade Metz. This book is about the major personalities behind the building and development of, neural networks, machine learning, and, what we would call now, artificial intelligence.

The two reviews I have underway are due to two different editors for two different publishers – one of which is Library Journal. The subjects of each book are not directly related – but this is part of the fun. Like I mentioned above, I get to read widely and learn from a variety of perspectives and situations. This post is just a snapshot of those perspectives being looked at this month.

#WordPress Banner Designs for #Phantomlandscapes

Posted on Updated on

Some may talk about a new year, new you…I reject that kind of thinking.

But I am currently going to be riffing along the lines of a new year, new blog aesthetic (rolling on the floor & laughing emoji). To accomplish this, I will be asking for 2 or 3 banner products from designers at places like Fiverr and maybe one other place because I think it time to tighten up this blog and move it out a notch from where it is.

The fundamental design limits being given to the designers will be, at least with this experimental stage, to use a dark-themed look alluding to books and letters, using purple, light purple, black, and grey with a bit of white some place. This is simple, but can evoke a lot of possible responses. I plan to use the ‘best’ one for this blog until I go through another round of design – at which point a logo will also be requested based upon something in that theme I used.

The caveat I will attach to my request to the designers will be that I want to retain all rights to the designs: to use, not use, or manipulate / and will need ask for how much improvement I can expect from a design at $10 up to $50 or $60.

There it is. That is the plan. Watch to see how it goes.

#SocialMedia Futures: #Twitter ?

Posted on

Per my post in December 2020, I deleted my Twitter account, playing around with Parler, I then added a new Twitter account (which is pretty quiet for now).

As of this past weekend (10 January 2021), Parler has no live servers on which to operate – so I may approach Twitter with some renewed vigor. We’ll see.

Again, this blog still uses Twitter.

SQL Lesson, Library Carpentry, and the pleasure of maintenance.

Posted on Updated on

The pleasure of repo maintenance…

What do I mean by that? I mean there is an enjoyable balance between being able to edit public repositories at GitHub and leaving appropriate time for your co-maintainers to comment, edit, and just simply add ‘another set of eyes’ to your changes.

In Summer 2020, I on-boarded as a co-maintainer of the Library Carpentry SQL Lesson on GitHub – which I mentioned in a post in August 2020. The summer before, in 2019, I became a Carpentries Certified Instructor, a logical next step in my relationship and growing interest with the Carpentries community. After that on-boarding, the new SQL lessons maintainers, some of whom had been there a while and are happy when fresh hands show to help maintain a decent number of issues related to the repo. This is mostly a labor of love, all of us, I think, have full time gigs, this, like most of our academic professional engagement contributes to our development as professionals and aids our learning about topics in the field at large (in my, case, the technical services side of librarianship). We used that ‘fresh’ energy to tackle a number of issues with the repository: some as simple as clarifying wording, some about adding better examples, and some abut testing and updating the lesson for reasons of technology shift in one place or another. We reduced the number of issues by half in what is commonly called a ‘sprint’ – wherein we set apart a number of hours to ‘get things done.’ Yay!. It was successful. But there is still more work to do.

I have a tendency to want to jump in quickly and get things done – I still have that tendency because I think and move quickly. Maybe a strength, sure, but this may also be a hindrance and hobble a relationship from time to time. I admit this and want to get better in this area where appropriate. But, one of the true pleasures of these kinds of collaborations is that fantastic and simple solutions are brought to the fore.

My case-in-point is the back-and-forth I had with a co-maintainer I had on Monday, 04 January 2021 about some language clean-up and clarity under the heading, ‘More Terminology,’ I made a number of changes and asked for feedback. I got an ‘all good’ but with the caveat that the qualifier I had already refined from language that was there previously, may not be necessary. I agreed and made the change, as well as a couple other language tweaks.

The result: Tighter and more direct language that should lead to less confusion for the folks who use the lesson over time. The real point is that even in this little edit, it was good to have ‘another set of eyes’ on my suggestion and to wait for the comments to be made. Again, this is not terribly important, the change itself. This post is about the community aspect of the work – which, as the post title says, is a pleasure. Thank you to my co-maintainers.

As a side-bar, I note that many of the changes I make to GitHub repositories, I make from the command line (CLI). This just involves a process of downloading, via some commands in the terminal shown below, the repository from GitHub (or wherever the repo is), and making a local copy of it on your own machine, making changes to the files of whatever form, and pushing the changes back to the repo via other commands. Not in itself that complicated, but thanks to another fellow Carpentries community member’s tutorial last year on this skill, I was able to take my repo skills up a notch and edit repos via the CLI. Another big shout out to the Carpentries community.

Happy New Year / #Life!

Posted on Updated on

I am busily reading R.C. Sproul’s, Truths We Confess, his exposition on the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646). This book lays out a large amount of orthodox Christian theology and really is a great theology lesson wrapped up in one book. I am not a Presbyterian per se (which is the most common adoption of the WCF in the reformed family), but I am enjoying this reading a lot and learning so much.

In Chapter 19 on the Law of God, there is a powerful declaration on the sanctity if life. It reads like this:

“The sanctity of life is not a Christian issue; it is a human issue. It is rooted and grounded not in the law of the New Testament or in the law of Mount Sinai but in creation, in the creation ordinances” (page 414).

As the year has ended and the new one has started, we asses the old, think about time, and maybe make some plans for the new. These plans do not have to be ‘resolutions.’ Of course not. But these markers in time encourage us to evaluate and ‘number our days.’ (Psalm 90:12). Our lives are fleeting – and yet we know that life is precious. We know this inherently. Life is precious because of the very fact that we have been created by God.

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).

This simple statement in the Scriptures gives us the reason for the sanctity of life. This statement also reveals the creation order in that there are males and females and that, by implication (Mark 10:7), life is propagated by the very union only possible when males and females unite (which should be in marriage, but is all too often not). God is a God of life and God’s law is a law that facilitates life. Needless to say, this verse also declares that all humans are male or female, there is no other category. And if each human is created in the image of God (Imago Dei), we can also be comfortable in saying that abortion is wrong. With that verse, we can actually justify WHY there is sanctity to life.

I pray that despite whatever struggles and challenges we find ourselves in in 2021, that we come to fully realize that life is precious and that in order to fully accept that, we must first honor the Creator from our hearts!

image from boldsky.com (accessed 01 January 2021)

References:

New American Standard Bible (NASB) 1995 Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif.

Sproul, R.C. 2019. Truths We Confess: A Systematic Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith. Revised Edition. Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, a division of Ligonier Ministries.

From the #Library Stacks: Room to Dream (#Lynch) / TM built on a lie, #Christ is the Truth

Posted on Updated on

From the Library Stacks: Room to Dream...

I am still taking stock of my bookshelves and items from my collection, Room to Dream, by David Lynch and Kristine McKenna is the book being examined in this post.

Room to Dream by David Lynch and Kristine McKenna

Caveat: Below, I list and analyze some Hindu beliefs. We need to be aware that Hinduism is sometimes called a family of religions, not a discrete religion of one belief – thus some statements way below in the listing and the analysis must be read with that in mind.

All folks who talk to me at length will find that I am a fan of David Lynch. I like this man’s art! His paintings, photography, films, television projects, even the few of his commercials that I have seen (unfortunately, I have seen very few of his commercials I must admit). If you knew his website back when it was being run on Flash and fundamentally was designed and run by him, will know that David Lynch has ‘preached’ Transcendental Meditation (TM) for quite some years now. Most of us will know that he added his name to a foundation (The David Lynch Foundation) built on the premise to teach and advocate for world peace through TM. Room to Dream also layers TM throughout its narrative as well as a myriad of other things.

I must make one comment about the book before I draw light to its content. The style of the book has only one precedent in my mind – though there are surely others – which would be Chronicles, Volume 1, by Bob Dylan in the way that the book is full of memories, and memories as a form of art – not just memories as containers of truth from the past. Room to Dream operates in a similar, albeit, not identical fashion by laying out a ‘standard’ chapter in which a 3rd person omniscient view on history with no ‘I(s)’ or ‘You(s)’ and is then followed by the looser ruminations collected by persons who were part of that previous chapter: Lynch himself, directors, family friends, etc. These chapters jump from anecdote to anecdote and from person to person. It makes for an enjoyable matrix in which to consider the life of one, David Lynch.

I had not really considered there would be an ‘autobiography’ by David Lynch during his lifetime. There will be more biographies written about David Lynch in the future as different people assess his work from different perspectives. I want to quickly draw attention to some of the funnest moments from the book, moments that show why people like him and like working with him so much.

To begin, I will just reiterate that folks who work with David Lynch say over and over again what a pleasure it is to work with him on either the production or the acting side. Room to Dream is full of such comments that simply repeat what Peter Deming said of Lynch in the film, Pretty as a Picture: The Art of David Lynch (1997) – a kind of ‘making of’ Lost Highway (1997). Deming says, ‘What distinguishes David from other directors is that his imagination runs wild and he creates a mood on screen, and he creates a mood on the set, that people work in. I’ve never seen a crew so happy to work for a director before.’ Deming, who himself has a full set of projects under his belt in the business, has worked for David Lynch for many projects over the years, is fundamentally repeated by actor or production person after another with his words. Nearly identical sentences are said by Naomi Watts, Kyle MacLachlan, Isabela Rossellini, and Deepak Nayar. It just seems that he is somebody who really shows respect to people, no matter their contributions to the film, and during the entirety of shooting. I get the impression that this is not the case on many sets in Hollywood. That mood Deming describes also permeates the friendliness of the anecdotes from the many players who show in the book’s pages. It feels very nice (which is the kind of word that Lynch himself would use I think).

I don’t want to retell the story in the book, but there were so many items from the early days and the almost present days that lay out what kind of artist David Lynch is – he works all the time and has multiple projects on his plate simultaneously. One such example takes place in London while David Lynch is taking a ‘rest’ from the filming of The Elephant Man (1980). David’s wife of the time had just had a miscarriage, and the film was in the editing phase, so there was time and emotions at play at that point in Lynch’s life.

This selection from the book summarizes this point about the multiple projects very well: “Lynch’s idea of relaxing is to make something, and when Fisk returned to America for additional medical care following her miscarriage, he came up with a project for himself. The day she left London, he went to a fish counter and purchased a mackerel, took it home, dissected it, laid out the parts, labeled them for ease in reassembly, then photographed the display” (page 152).

David Lynch shows what a productive human being with certain gifts can accomplish. Now, these gifts were given to Lynch by God himself, but Lynch does not give him honor. He is someone who shows what a person can do if they use their time well, knowing it is limited. I really appreciate this aspect of Lynch’s life, or what we might call the ‘art life.’ Criterion in fact distributes a documentary about David Lynch called, David Lynch: The Art Life (2016). The book details the development of his three-house compound in the hills around Los Angeles in which he houses his painting studio, his music/recording studio, and rumor has it that he even builds his own furniture. I very much appreciate these aspects of David Lynch’s life and this book, Room to Dream, relates much of this creativity, the process, and the people involved.

At this point, I must turn a corner to look at Lynch’s embrace of Transcendental Meditation. The book’s included index allows me to go back through the pages that reference TM [25, 50, 104-5, 130, 270, 274, 379, 421, 422, 467-68, 470, 500, 504] (575). As one can see, Lynch has held onto his belief in TM for a long time, and in the book, he gives it much credit, as to others who saw changes in David Lynch’s life. They talk about his reduction of anger and in his book, Catching The Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, he focuses on TM and its relationship to his own creative beliefs.

I am happy that Lynch has found happiness and he is less angry with other people. These are good things. But there are all kinds of things that can cause a person to feel happier, some of which are just regular things that happen in peoples’ lives. But just because David Lynch enjoys TM, and finds value in it does not mean that TM is inherently right or true. TM is not only philosophically empty, it is fundamentally, and this is the important point, a lie. It is not based on truth.

I will dig into some of these aspects of TM in a bit. Right off of the bat, however, let me just state that as a practice it has removed itself from its religious context and even declares one need not have religious beliefs to practice it. Yet, the very nature that there is some ‘truth’ or truth-value to be found in TN praxis, one must realize that it presupposes that it is truly valuable and can truly help a person to realize something about themselves. This is presupposed – and yet un-examined. Nobody is neutral, and TM is certainly not. What justification do the practitioners have for their beliefs in its practice? Do they trust their feelings? Well. why should we trust one person’s feelings about what is true? In Room to Dream, David Lynch talks about allegiance to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and being saddened when he died. But in this narrative is no reliance upon TM’s Hindu background. This suggests to me that it is cherry picked for something it offers as useful, aka, ‘pragmatic,’ and does not necessarily encompass anything like a worldview or even trying to form a worldview in seriousness.

In addition, and this is huge, TM as a practice, attempts to deny any necessary relationship to worldview, it has nothing to say on why or how there is even a world at all. TM has nothing to say about this very world we live on, spinning through space, exists. TM has nothing to say about what people are as creatures nor why it is even valuable to be ‘enlightened.’ The issue of worldview and the issue that there is even a world are not disconnected notions. Rather they are fundamentally related and must be examined by those who are serious about the lives they live and why the live those lives. The Bible has something very simple to say about this world we live and breathe on. In Genesis chapter 1, verse 1, we find this simple statement:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

The very first words of the Bible tell us that we can know how the heavens and the earth came into existence. All was created by God himself. TM has no such claim. Rather, as already mentioned, attempts to remove itself from any significant matrix of ‘world’ at all. I want to take this further, right past all the prophets who told of the coming of the King, the Son, the Messiah, to words about that very King, Jesus, found in Paul’s letter to the church at Collosae, Colossians, chapter 1, verses 15-17,

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

The question then is, do we trust the words in the Bible? If not, why not? We could go further, but in just the inclusion of these four verses, the one from Genesis, and the three of Colossians, we see two important simple statements: 1. God created the world (the heavens and the earth), aka, we have a statement that the ‘what’ was created and is not just tacitly taken for granted as existing, and; 2, we are told who created the what – it was God the Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus created everything and holds everything together. What an important statement that God, the God who became a man in Jesus, walked on the planet Earth for a time, is the creator of all things that have been made. Wow! Do we believe these words? I do. But what a difference this statement is from the Bible than anything like TM because, if the God of the Bible is the creator of everything that has been made, seen and unseen, this should radically change our lives and our understandings of who we are as humans. We must have a true anthropology before we can even dream of knowing who we are or what we are capable of doing. The Biblical view of creation is a great starting point for a true anthropology.

According to the Transcendental Meditation site, tm.org, “The Transcendental Meditation technique is taught in the U.S. by Maharishi Foundation USA.” From the book, we know that David Lynch fell in love with TM in the 1970s and developed a fondness for TM’s founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a Hindu leader, who brought TM to America, and who died in 2008. TM is defined in this way, according to the site, “The TM technique allows your active mind to easily settle inward, through quieter levels of thought, until you experience the most silent and peaceful level of your own awareness — pure consciousness.”

Hinduism is a large religion. The History Channel web-page for Hinduism says this, “Today, with about 900 million followers (Wikipedia states the number of followers is about 1.25 billion as of December 2020), Hinduism is the third-largest religion behind Christianity and Islam.” That is a large group. I will delve a bit into Hinduism because TM was taught by someone whose original religion was Hinduism. David Lynch has no stated relationship to Hinduism. The book does not even list “Hinduism” in the index. The TM site referenced above suggests that one does not need any specific beliefs in God or religion to practice it. That might technically be true as David Lynch makes no statements for one religion or another. But the source for TM is Hinduism in a similar way that Yoga has its origin in India and the Vedas. One can not separate the religious practice from either.

That same History page referenced above lists some of these basic Hindu beliefs (remember: Hinduism is sometimes called a family of religions, not a discrete religion of one belief) What follows is a list of some of these beliefs with some response from a biblical perspective:

Hindu Belief: Most forms of Hinduism are henotheistic, which means they worship a single deity, known as “Brahman,” but still recognize other gods and goddesses. Followers believe there are multiple paths to reaching their god.

Biblical Response: The Bible refutes this statement and declares there is one God. We know this from the ancient statement known as the ‘shema,’ “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4) / “You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me” (Isaiah 43:10) / In the book of Mark, when a scribe asks Jesus what the most important commandment is, replies, quoting the verse above from Deuteronomy 6:4, “One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, ‘What commandment is the foremost of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ ‘The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.’ The scribe said to Him, ‘Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that HE IS ONE, AND THERE IS NO ONE ELSE BESIDES HIM” (Mark 12: 28-32).

Clearly, the Bible declares that there is one God (and we know from the previous comments about creation, that this one God created the heavens and the earth).

Hindu Belief: Hindus believe in the doctrines of samsara (the continuous cycle of life, death, and reincarnation) and karma (the universal law of cause and effect)

Biblical Response: No place is anything like reincarnation stated or supported in the Bible, but rather, in a straight forward manner says what we would call the opposite truth, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Clearly, the Bible says that each human lives and dies the one time and then, this one God who created the heavens and the earth will judge each human.

Hindu Belief: One fundamental principle of the religion is the idea that people’s actions and thoughts directly determine their current life and future lives

Biblical Response: I won’t suggest that people’s decisions, actions, and thoughts don’t have consequences, but they do not cause consequences in the ultimate sense. Humans are creatures, as we know from Genesis, they are created by God alone. The Bible says that God is sovereign in these (a selected number) verses: There is verse after verse in which this phrase is used – a phrase that reiterates that God’s purposes and plans will be fulfilled, “The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this” (2 Kings 19:31, Isaiah 9:7, Isaiah 27:32) / “The plans of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD” (Proverbs 16:1) / “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9) / Referring to those who love God, Paul writes to the Roman church these words, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8: 28) / “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’ (Daniel 4:35) / and a real clincher from Psalms, “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115: 3). Wow, God resigns over all.

These verses work together to declare that not only is God sovereign over all things, but He will not be mocked. His word stands firm and will not be broken. God himself determines people’s lives, not us. Plus, and this is a key factor in an analysis of TM, its Hindu roots, compared to Christian beliefs, not only do we not have ‘future lives,’ as determined by those verses already mentioned above about once to die and then the judgment, but that mention of ‘future lives’ refers to reincarnation and the human ‘works’ that determine how one is continuing in their reincarnation…God himself is a savior by showing grace. There is clearly a ‘works’ orientation for ‘improvement or ‘salvation’ (which I don’t think is a word that would be used by Hindus, though I could be wrong). But the Bible tells is that no one is saved by works, but by grace. Paul, states this so clearly in his letter to the church in Ephesus, when he writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). so, with that one statement from the list of Hindu beliefs, we can find two points being made that are refuted by the Bible. God is in charge of every life and and God saves by grace. One is not saved by one’s own actions or ‘works.’

Hindu Belief: Hindus strive to achieve dharma, which is a code of living that emphasizes good conduct and morality

[I feel we need to make sure we understand how ‘dharma’ is defined so we can properly add a response.]

ref: ‘Dharma‘ is defined by the OED as, “In India, social or caste custom; right behaviour; law; esp. in Buddhism and Hinduism: moral law, truth.”

ref: ‘Dharma‘ is defined by Britannica as, “Dharma, Sanskrit dharma, Pali dhamma, key concept with multiple meanings in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism…In Hinduism, dharma is the religious and moral law governing individual conduct and is one of the four ends of life.”

Biblical Response: All points are connected of course, and by that I mean, that the Biblical response I offer below will and must embrace each point already offered. The is One God, He is sovereign over all things, and after each person’s single death, they will be judged. This above definition of ‘dharma’ from the History site, above the two other referenced definitions, infers a statement that there is moral right and moral wrong (called: ‘dharma’). But from what source or origin could we justify or validation calling a moral or moral-action ‘right’ or ‘wrong?’ The God of the Bible, the Holy Creator of the universe, has nobody higher in authority than Himself by whom to declare or swear or promise anything because besides Him, there is no God (Isaiah 44:6) / Jesus said he came not to abolish the law (that is the moral law), but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17) / Jesus, when asked by John the Baptist why he would be baptized (because John the Baptist knew that Jesus was in need of no repentance because He had no sin), Jesus says let be so to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15) / Hmm, Paul writes in Galatians, chapter 4, verse 4, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law” – and Jesus us telling us that he came to fulfill the law, in fact, to fulfill all righteousness / When Jesus is approached by the ‘rich young ruler’ in Matthew chapter 9, Jesus tells this man, “There is only One who is good” (Matthew 9:17) / And after the resurrection, the powerful action of which Jesus said, “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father” (John 10:18), Jesus shows himself to some disciples and Thomas, bowing down to Him in worship, says, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). These verses, plus so many more, militate for the idea that not only is Jesus God, the Creator, but that He is the standard Himself of which all standards of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ have their origin. God himself is our source of morals and moral actions. There is no place in the biblical worldview for vague and idolatrous ‘dharma.’

Conclusion: Clearly, there is a vast chasm between the beliefs of Hinduism, the religion on which TM has its origins, and Christianity as it is explained and defined in the Bible. Christ reigns as Lord of lords and King of kings! I pray that you will consider this post in light of comments made. I hope you will follow the references from the Bible and explore them to see if they do not declare that Jesus is, in truth, the perfect and all-sufficient savior! David Lynch might have found something that makes him happy, or that adds some happiness to his life and to his creative process, but according to the Bible, TM is not based or practiced from a position of truth.

The whole truth, and nothing but the truth, no TM can intuit this statement with which I conclude: Each human is a sinner before the Holy Creator of the universe. In Isaiah chapter 6, verse 5,

“Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

We see Isaiah, who was a prophet, coming to this realization about himself and all those with whom he associated. Paul, the apostle writes a mirror of this statement in his letter to the Roman church when he writes in chapter 3, verse 23,

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

Each of us stands condemned before a Holy God. We have each broken the law of God. We have created and worshiped an idol, have stolen, have disrespected our parents, or have lied, or something else God has spoken on in His law / We have broken that law, each, every one of us, and we know it. And once a person breaks one law, it is the same as if they have broken all of it (James 2:10). Paul tackles this issue that we know this fact clearly, in Romans 1, verses 18-20,

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse”

But, what did God do? Did he leave us humans in our sin, to die in our sin, and all to go to hell?

No, He sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus the Christ!

This is the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). “Jesus said…, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This is the mercy of God revealed in his Son, this is the grace of God in action. And Jesus came into the world, in the flesh, in history, Approximately two thousand years ago. If we repent of that sin we know we have committed before our Holy Creator, and turn in faith to the Lord Jesus, we will be saved. That is my prayer for every person who reads this post, that you will turn from your sin, in faith to Jesus Christ and follow Him.

References:

dharma, n.”. OED Online. December 2020. Oxford University Press. (accessed 25 December 2020).

dharma“. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/dharma-religious-concept (Accessed 25 December 2020)

Lynch, David and Kristine McKenna. 2018. Room to Dream. New York: Random House.

All Bible verses are from the New American Standard Bible: Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995, by The Lockman Foundation.

Library of #Theology – The #Bible as #Library

Posted on Updated on

Everyone’s a Theologian (image from Reformation Trust, accessed 27 December 2020)

Using my Lord’s Day evening to read, and while enjoying leftovers from Christmas dinner, I was going through R.C. Sproul’s, Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology (2014), and saw these opening three sentences for chapter seven,

“The word Bible comes from the Greek word, biblos, which means ‘book.’ However, although the
Bible is bound up in one volume, it is not a single book but rather a collection of sixty-six individual
books. It is a library of books.”

This blog has mostly focused on library things, professional actions, maybe some details of conferences, publications, and related reading. The tagline is: ‘…on Theology, Libraries, and Bookish Things – mostly.’ I feel this tagline gives me some wriggle room to write on a multitude of topics even if the preponderance of content is related to ‘libraries’ or ‘bookish things.’ Increasingly, I am planning and looking for opportunities to write on issues relevant to theology, apologetics (some of the cultural flavor), and the like. This quote from R.C. Sproul gives me free reign to intentionally write on the Bible and theology as something in and of a ‘library.’

The Oxford English Dictionary does not have a definition of ‘biblio,’ per se – surely because ‘biblio,’ is not an English word. But it contains the notion that in English, ‘biblio’ is used on combination with other parts of speech to form compound words. Take a quick think through this reference in the OED,

“Etymology: < French biblio- (in e.g. bibliothèque bibliothèque n.) and its etymon classical Latin biblio- (in e.g. bibliothēca bibliotheca n.) < ancient Greek βιβλίο- (in e.g. βιβλιοπώλης bibliopole n.), stem and combining form of βιβλίον book (see Bible n.)”

and

“In compounds formed in Greek itself, as bibliography, βιβλιογραϕία; and in many of modern formation, as bibliogony, biblioklept, bibliophagist, etc., some of which are merely pedantic or ponderously humorous”

Clearly, one can recall the use of the prefix ‘biblio-‘ in many commonly used words in English. But, like the ivory tower of the academy itself, this blog writer can surely phenaggel a playful OR serious topic from a ‘biblio’ that is also called a ‘library.’ I find that second reference from the OED is just funny – and seriously, we know scholars will write on just about anything – even to the point of coining new words to make new meanings. I plan no eradication of meaning, but rather I want not to be afraid to think of the Bible as a ‘library’ in which to explore serious topics one might find there. Thank you R.C. Sproul.

References:

“biblio-, comb. form”. OED Online. December 2020. Oxford University Press. (accessed 27 December 2020).

Sproul, R.C. 2014. Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology. Sanford, Florida: Ligonier Ministies/Reformation Trust. (ISBN: 9781567693690)

Merry #Christmas 2020

Posted on Updated on

Jesus Christ is King and Savior.

My prayer is that you believe that the Son of God came in the flesh, entered His own creation, to call and save His sheep. This is why we celebrate Christmas every year – and will until Jesus returns, “Jesus said…, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) / “for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” (Romans 10:13). This is why Jesus came. Turn from your sin and trust in Christ the Lord!

Jesus is the Lord who saves. Praise Him! Merry Christmas!

Happy #Thanksgiving2020

Posted on Updated on

It has been a tough year, and as we get close to the end of 2020, I just want to close out this month’s postings by saying, ‘Happy Thanksgiving!’

I want to say that gratitude is so important, but specifically gratitude to the God of the Bible, the creator of the universe, and the Lord, Jesus Christ for life itself, for the many gifts we have come from Him and Him alone!

My prayer today is that you repent of your sin, turn in faith to the Lord Jesus for salvation, reconciliation to God, and forgiveness of your sins, The only way to know God is through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

‘Jesus said…, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’ (NASB95, John 14:6)

Deleted #Twitter today

Posted on Updated on

No big deal, but I deleted my twitter account today. It was time to move on and rethink my social media usage.

Having been on twitter almost 10 years now with that account, I have wanted to rethink my twitter use, as well as have been discouraged to think I could not delete all my old tweets. Twitter does not allow for bulk deletion of tweets from inside the profile (though, I have heard of an external tool that does it). Honestly, it is simply easier to start over with new ideas and a new profile with new followers. I deleted my F___book account about 8 years ago, and have not missed it, so we shall see with Twitter.

I am now on Parler, though. E-mail me if you want that handle.

Keep in mind, however, that this site itself has a twitter account at PhntmLandscapes. It is not used as a personal account, not at all. It is, at this point, solely a widget that tweets when this blog updates with new posts.