Thursday, June 30, 2011

NO...STOP...DON'T aka: A whole lot of nothing.

When I was but a boy, there were a lot of "super" toys. Of course, there was Super Man. That is a no-brainer, but there was also "Super Elastic Bubble Plastic" and "Super Friends Figurines", among others. However, the greatest, superest toy in the history of mankind, and arguably the most dangerous, is the "Super-Collider", and it is located in France. It is a truly magnificent scientific instrument. When I attended the county fair in my formative years, I thought the "round-up" was the ticket. But no, this has it beat.
Actually, this blog entry is NOT about the Super Collider, but it will be mentioned. It is about...well....nothing. Just nothing. But, nothing is a fascinating subject.
The Super Collider, in super simple layperson terms, is also known as the Large Hadron Collider,a giant, concentric, cylindrical coil, or what some may call a "coil thingy". Think of it as what your garden hose looks like, wrapped on a spool. In fact, there are almost thirty miles of this tube. The U.S. planned to build one that was 57 miles long, and much more effective, but Congress axed funding. I hate when Euros beat us at something but, oh well. The bottom line is this: These geniuses (no sarcasm intended...they really are geniuses) want to create millions of megavolts of electricity to accelerate a particle, like a proton for instance, at speeds bordering the that of light, then slam them into each other, creating conditions as they existed at the origin of the universe. BOOM, there it is! Small black holes will be created for a fraction of a second.
The problem is, some rebels within the whole scientific community, and they are just a small, unorthodox minority,say...LOOK OUT!...these tiny black holes could swallow our entire planet, and we all die. Yes, a super killer toy, operated by mad scientists.
A black hole, again in "baby talk", is an area in space that consumes, i.e. "sucks up", other bodies in the universe, even light. In fact, we have never really seen one, because the absence of light makes them invisible to the human eye. However, they seem to emit radiation, so we can hypothesize where they exist. We do not know a lot about them, and most of what we know is conjecture and a work in progress. Because they suck everything in, and have absolutely no discernible mass, a black hole is actually A WHOLE LOT OF NOTHING. Some cosmologists (scientists who study the universe believe black holes may contain entire universes (not planets or galaxies, but UNIVERSES). So, if a universe is a whole lot of something, then when it becomes nothing, it is a WHOLE LOT of nothing. It also is hypothesized that a black hole is an entry point to the space time continuum. If you are not familiar with that, read about it to get the theory and mechanics. For the purpose of this concise blog, let me just say it can be a means of time travel (see "wormholes", a possible medium for intragalactic travel).
Here is where we talk about PARADIGMS. THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX. I want to offer some bullet point thoughts:

- God is infinite. Even if you are an agnostic or an atheist, science makes clear that creation is infinite. Therefore, when a black hole swallows a universe, it is what I decided to call "reverse infinity". A black hole is nothing...infinitely so. It is infinitely nothing.

- It follows then, that the magnificence of infinity, the incomprehensible vastness of the ever expanding universe, the bounds of which cannot be fathomed, is mirrored in perfect fashion, by the incomprehensible nothingness of the ever contracting universe that exists in a black hole.

- Think of it this way. If you were to look in a mirror, you would see a reflection of yourself (this illustration is also used to explain matter/antimatter, but that is a different subject), SO look in a mirror. On one of the glass side is you. Think of yourself as everything. Pure infinity. All that is. Conversely, think of the mirror reflection as being on the other side of the glass (like Alice in Wonderland). That image in the mirror, on the other side of the glass, is "nothing". Pure nothingness. The everythingness and the nothingness are both expanding exponentially at incomprehensible rates. They a mirror image of each other, and therefore of equal, but opposite, value.

- Black holes form when a certain amount of mass exists in a small area (a really HUGE amount), such as when a star explodes (supernova). SO...if a black hole were to exist, even a tiny one in a supercollider, the idea of these rebel scientists is that it would begin to consume everything around it. As it grows exponentially, nothing can stop it. Like a crazy science fiction movie, it will eventually suck in our earth and solar system. WHEN THIS HAPPENS TO A UNIVERSE, when it gets sucked into a black hole, THE INFINITY OF A UNIVERSE BECOMES THE INFINITY OF NOTHING...the reflection on the other side of the mirror.

- A paradigm that says God is omnipresent, is infinite, and omniscient,in royal magnificence, is also present in the equally magnificent splendor of reverse infinity. He is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient in...NOTHING!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE, aka...The secret of symmetry

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work."
Ecclesiastes 4:9

"No man is an island entire of itself..."
John Donne

Announcement Please: LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! I introduce to you, one of the most fascinating, dare I say "awe inspiring", and compelling phenomena of all time. He is everywhere! And, I do mean everywhere! The one and only, the incomparable....SYMMETRY! (yay).
"Whoopee" you say? (derisively, perhaps). Symmetry is an "it", but I introduced it as "He". Why? Because, like all things in creation, it testifies to Yahweh(God).
In fact, symmetry is so all encompassing, found throughout the universe, that I could use any of a bazillion examples (if there is such a number). Anything from science, to history, to people, to relationships. Symmetry is cool. Many know what it is, but for the uninitiated, here is a boring definition, straight from Webster:
"Property of sameness. Balanced proportions. Exact correspondence in position." Now, here is my "regular old people" definition: If you split something in half, and each half looks like the other, only opposite, that is symmetry.
Why this subject? You may think I have too much time on my hands, but I usually sit behind my house on summer evenings and look at the sky, before bed. I enjoy it, and it gives me time to just think, without distraction. When I was thinking about some very heavy stuff: Anthony Weiner (soon to be ex Congressman). Then, by association, I thought of Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Edwards, which led me to thinking about marriage and divorce (note the Scripture above).
What on Earth do these celebrity adulterers have to do with the photos above?
God has a unique creation, as this principle of symmmetry extends back to God's first command to "Let there be light..." (Genesis 1:3), and probably even before that. Then God created Adam, because He did not want to be alone. Then, God formed man to work the garden He created. Why would God do that? After all, He is...God, for heaven's sake (excuse the pun). He could have done it. The fact is, God wanted someone to love. Yes, HE, God, the creator of all, wanted to love somebody. I don't understand how, but it is amazingly true. After all, the Word teaches that God IS love, and He is infinite. Therefore, He has an infinite amount of love to share. He created the garden for man, so that he COULD work it.
Then, God created woman for man, because it was not good for man to be alone. Yes indeed, the power of two (again, notice the Scripture at the top). In the King James Bible, it refers to two people as a cord that is not easily broken). Spiritually, men and women are symmetrical. They are equal before God. They complete each other.
So, when marriages break up, the one is always weaker than the two. What? But what if there is spousal abuse, domestic violence, etc? OK, the "potential" of one is less than the potential of two. This is a fallen world, with disease and sin, but these are infections of God's creation. Again, all other aspects being healthy, it is always better for two to become one, in every sphere of life. So, these famous people have weakened their future potential as human beings by AT LEAST 50%, and probably a lot more, and that is even before factoring in their lost credibility.
This extends into all of God's creation, not just relationships. Here are some examples:

1. Look at a tree, a person, a leaf, a worm, a snake, a dog...I could go on for days. Check out the ever expanding universe, extending outward, at equal rates in all directions. The sun and the moon are symmetrical. It is virtually impossible to even TRY to draw something that is not symmetrical. OK, you may not want to draw a circle or square, but try your hand at a triangle, or something crazy, like a tetrahedron - sorry -symmetrical. You might even say, "Oh yeah, I will just draw a bunch crazy, crooked lines and shapes, a swirley mess. Nope, it is symmetrical. You look at it on a piece of paper, along a vertical and horizontal axis. Turn the paper sideways, so you are looking straight at the outside edge of the paper. If you could split the mess that way, you would have symmetry. It is part and parcel of creation. It is fundamentally inherent. I am adding a few bullet points to consider:

1. The universe is composed of matter and its complete opposite, antimatter.

2. Atoms are positive and negative.

3. Even something like water, totally fluid, is symmetrical.

4. The Law of Conservation of Energy, like any principle of physics, involves symmetry. This law states that energy remains constant over time (symmetry). The amount of energy you have at the end of the activity equals the amount at the beginning. Also, this law states that energy will take many forms, but it is still there.
5. Interestingly, it is not JUST creation where this is found. People themselves, created by God in His own image, have a natural affinity for, and inclination toward, symmetry. Studies have revealed that people who have more symmetrical faces are perceived as being more attractive. Notice anything man has created. Look at a car. Mentally split that car in half, and you will notice each half is equal and opposite the other. I am currently looking at a house that is symmetrical, and a potted plant. Split that plant in half - whoops, there it is. Symmetry. One might contend the plants inside are not planted symmetrically, but alas, each and every plant in the pot is symmetrical.

Whew! Enough of that. Here is my paradigm changing take away:

When we go through life, hopefully as believers, but even the unbelievers can benefit from this....anyway....When we go through life, let us create unity. Whenever we have the opportunity, let's work to make two as one. Let's bring people together, not tear them apart. Let's create oneness. Let's cause others to be bound together, in marriage, in friendship, in fellowship, and in love. Let's fix things, not destroy. Let's create and restore. This needs to permeate our lives.
Oh yeah, Jesus commanded this by the way, when He said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:10). After all, unity, strength, and symmetry are of God, as demonstrated in all His creation. As sons, we were created in His own image. Let's be that image, starting today.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Jesus is just alright!

Jesus is just all right with me
Jesus is just all right, Oh yeah
Jesus is just all right with me
Jesus is just all right

I don't care what they may know
I don't care where they may go
I don't care what they may know
Jesus is just all right, oh yeah
Jesus is just all right

DISRESPECTFUL! BLASPHEMOUS! RiDICULOUS! Those were my first thoughts when I heard the Doobie Brothers' song, "Jesus is just alright" in the early 1970s. "Get it...Jesus is JUST alright! (I thought). That is wrong to say that! God might kill them for saying that." What did I know? I was just a little kid in Leavittsburg, Ohio. We did not grow up in Church. The names of God and Jesus were invoked in my home on a daily basis, in no uncertain terms. But, they were not spoken out of reverence, or even out of respect. BUT, I always knew about God, for as long as I can remember. Even as a pre-schooler, I felt He was always there, watching me. This doesn't make me any more holy than somebody else, but it is just an awareness that I had. I knew He loved me, and I knew HE was in charge. The Big Boss. He held our lives in His hands and boy, was He going to be pissed when He heard the Doobie Brothers' song!
What is my point? Well, I just heard the song in question again, thanks to the miracle of utube. When I first heard the song, it was on a .45 rpm record. At that time, only NASA had computers, and maybe a few big universities.
One's perspectives change over the years. After being a little wiser, and having had some good old fashioned life experiences, you "see the big picture". This blog is about paradigms, and we are about to deal with one of the biggest paradigms of them all, and THE most significant one...our paradigm of God. A little background information, if you please:

Back in the 1060s and 1970s, America went through a weird stage where some, but not all, of its youth were questioning authority. Without getting into a historical dissertation on all that, let me make a bare bones, true statement. Some rebellion is bad, but some is good. There was plenty of bad during that time, in my view. But, there was also some good. NO societal paradigm can ever change without people standing up to convention and questioning authority. At significant times in history, people have stood up and said, "Enough Already!" The get fed up, frustrated, and angry. That foments change.
I think one of the most historically overlooked developments in that period is the Jesus Movement, aka The Jesus People, or just plain old "Jesus Freaks". This movement began in California and spread East. It was one of the most benevolent, sincere youth movements in 20th Century American history. The real shame is how it is rarely explored as a significant part of Church history.
Remember, I said there is BAD rebellion. Brats who rebel against all that is right with America. Many of the men who suffered through the depression, then put their lives on the line during the Second World War and Korea, simply could not understand how young men could grow their hair long like a girl, scream and strum on those blasted electric guitars, while questioning the country that THEY, Moms and Dads, had built for them. Well, let's leave that now, because volumes have been written on it. Let's talk about GOOD rebellion.
The Jesus Movement was comprised of young people who loved the Lord, and threw off the stale old conventions of the American church. They saw a Deep South, where church going was the order of the day. It was a social norm. Something was WRONG with you if you did not go to church. Why, you might even get thrown out of the local Rotary Club. Yet, these same "church goin' folk", would never allow a black person (euphemism) come in to worship with them. They would rationalize by saying things like "They would rather worship with their own kind." These same "Christians" enforced Jim Crow and blocked schoolhouse doors to resist integration. They were the same hypocritical Bible thumpers who beat the Freedom Riders, killed a man named Medgar Evers for registering black voters, and blew up a Baptist church, killing a couple of little girls, while the White Church stood by. Church goers went to Klan meetings at night, where they planned the next lynching of a black man who may have cavorted with white women. I am not making this stuff up. It is not just a caricature. This is the type of thing that repulsed these young people, when they fell in love with Jesus.
Guess what? The Northern churches had issues, as well. Throughout history, people have prostituted out God's Church to their own ends. Business people used it to network. Politicians have used it to gain influence in the community. Red baiters used to associate Christianity with being American, to the exclusion of other nations, as in "God hates those ungodly commies". Even preachers, as they have done throughout history, used the church to fleece their flocks or just as an ego trip. If a "hippy", i.e. someone with long hair, went into some of these churches, they would get a cool reception indeed. In some churches, to wear jeans and not a necktie, or a dress, would be a serious issue with some people.
Jesus spoke about this:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead mens' bones and all uncleanness. Even so, you outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." Matthew 23: 27-28.
If I was in charge of ordaining pastors, I would require them to MEMORIZE the entire 23rd chapter of Matthew, then explain what it means to them. John 10:13 refers to hypocritical pastors as "hirelings", and He explains how they will scatter to the wind when their flocks need them the most.
So, get it? They kids were saying, "Hey, we want to be the real McCoy! We love Jesus. We want to proclaim that, celebrate Him, and freely share His love with others. We want to show the rest of the world that Christians don't have to be bigots. They don't have to sing southern gospel, wear a necktie or dress, and they can wear their hair as long as they please" (the words are mine, but I think this sums it up). Imagine that! FREEDOM in Christ? Well, gee whiz, maybe they will be inspired to read their Bible and see how it is all about freedom and love, instead of just quoting it out of context, to their own purposes.
So, I hope I have made my point. Now, back to the song, and the reason I have a picture of a black Jesus (or African American, or whatever we are supposed to say today). JESUS IS JUST ALRIGHT was written as a GOSPEL song. Surprise, surprise! It was written Arthur Reid Reynolds, and recorded by the Art Reynolds singers. Later is was recorded by The Byrds, but it really blasted off when The Doobie Brothers recorded a high tempo version.
Every generation has their slang and the 1960s, early 1970s were no exception. "Alright" was a very positive word in Jesus People parlance. It meant "great", "outstanding", "super cool", or "awesome". It did not carry today's connotation of mediocrity (as in, "I dunno, I guess it is just alright"). This song meant JESUS IS JUST ALRIGHT. NOTHING LESS. In the words of the song, "He took me by the hand,led me far from this land. Jesus is my friend.".
This song is just one small example of how bigotry can twist someone's perspective on The Gospel. This song was a sincere expression of love, from a disenfranchised song writer, who found that finding Jesus was the coolest thing that ever happened him. It is kind of like the Zulu tribesman who jumps up and down with a ceremonial spear, in traditional dance, and proclaims his love for Jesus in his own culture, (yes, this happens). If you like southern gospel(and I do like some of it myself), or wear a neck tie and work in a bank, if you are a multimillionaire, great. Use the gifts God has given you for His glory. However, not everyone looks like you. Not everyone dresses like you. Not everyone thinks exactly like you, or likes the food you like. But we are ALL known by our love.
I read a book recently, by a pastor in Los Angeles who decided to live in the streets, as a homeless person, as a launch to his ministry. He decided, before he could begin an inner city church, he needed to understand the people t whom he was going to minister. A church deacon, who used to live homeless in the LA's Skid Row district, after advising the pastor not to do it, finally relented, but gave him some advice. He said, "They gonna know you not from there. You can't fool 'em. They can smell ya. But, if you gonna' do this fool thing anyway, here." He gave him a big Bible. He said, "Have this on you at all times." "Why?", the pastor asked. "Cuz them addicts, they ain't dressed very nice, and they don't have nothing, but they fear God. They fear Him, 'cuz they got nothin' BUT God to hope for. They'll leave you alone if they know you's a God man." The pastor carried the Bible, his talisman, and he was "alright".
Now....about the picture at the top, of the Black Jesus. Does it bother you? Hmmm. There is another popular song that was recorded by, among other people, Johnny Cash, entitled, "My own personal Jesus". I conceive of Him as white, and somebody else conceives of Him as black. Maybe we are both right...or wrong. Who cares? That is why he is PERSONAL.