Hello All! If you haven’t heard of the Youtube controversy yet, it’s about “censorship.” While some will say that the new policy is not “censorship,” especially since Youtube is privately owned, in essence it is one big tool for shutting the mouths of those who are not politically correct (natural disasters are now a no-no too). So whatever you want to call it, it’s not good for free speech, learning about and sharing various opinions, and helping to keep this country from completely losing its democratic basis (a controlled and uninformed public simply can’t be democratic).
A number of articles say, quoting Youtube officials, that the policy isn’t new, actually. I don’t believe this. But if it’s true that it’s not new, the fact that Youtube is enforcing it now IS new. So it kind-of doesn’t matter–the point is just a deflection. This is what the policy says, in part: “Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown” will be demonetized.
If you’re a Christian or know about the culture wars that have been raging, you can imagine how stifling this policy might be. Youtube, arguably, would be able to demonetize anything. It has even demonetized suicide help videos. While the creators can petition Youtube to remonetize these videos, one only has to imagine the sweeping nature of this video censoring practice. Of course, if Youtube’s program is anything like Hilary’s email search engine, who knows what it’ll find or miss. And speaking of Hilary, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if she has something to do with this. Look at the timing, look at the ability to demonetize your work if it contains a “sensitive subject” or includes “political conflict” (and “natural disasters”?!?).
I’m not going over all the background of the iphone controversy, except to say that Apple refuses to cooperate in the investigation of one of the mass murderers in the December 2, 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, California. 14 people were killed and 22 gravely injured. The radicalized Muslims, husband and wife Syed Rizwan Farook and Tahsfeen Malik, also planned to set a bomb off. Normally, investigators can get a search warrant to look at suspects’ phone records. This has been constitutional and normal practice, useful in a variety of ways, for criminal investigators.
Now, with ever more sophisticated hardware and software, criminals can hide their phone correspondence, and in the case of Apple iphones, they can permanently hide information from investigators that historically could not be hidden. It is constitutional in our country to investigate crimes in this way, yet Apple is holding our legal system–backed by the constitution–hostage.
And yet TV commentator after commentator is acting as if this is all something new and a questionable invasion of privacy. They say that the government is asking Apple to be a “lock pick” into someone’s private data, but since Apple made the lock in the first place (that is, a way for criminals to conceal information), this argument is silly and obnoxious. They say if Apple is forced to do this, other countries will be able to use it against innocent people, like political dissidents and journalists. Really? (Really??) There are ways around this, I’m pretty sure, but high-profit international companies wouldn’t want to go there (if you have a company that is strictly US based, can Iran make you do something?). Maybe I’m giving the likes of Apple too much “benefit of the doubt” by even thinking this claim is a real possibility. I’d like to hear from legal experts in this specific field, since I’m only hearing conjecture.
In any case, Apple has taken the power and not our investigators, as they’re trying to claim. Various people and organizations (Google, Twitter), now even Amazon (boycott Amazon?), are backing Apple. Why? It makes no sense. How paranoid does a person have to be that they’re worried that the FBI or whoever wants to take the time to listen to their phone? And, I for one don’t want my choices made for me by hugely powerful companies like Google and Facebook; based on their current censorship and other actions, they are worse than our own government investigators.♦
This brought to my mind the issue that blacks have brought up in claiming racism in the justice system. I agree with them on this one: why are all the white folks who take drugs free (think of all those Hollywood types, even), while so many blacks are behind bars due to drug sentences? So, are the whites simply worried that they’ll now be get caught buying cocaine? It’s kind-of a rhetorical question, but I don’t know where the paranoia is coming from. And I don’t get how Americans think it’s OK to protect the mass murderers in this case. Criminals, it so often seems, have more rights than their victims. And now that is more the truth than ever. The criminals must laugh themselves to sleep at night.
♦ These companies know how dumb Americans are, I’m guessing, since internet users constantly give them access to private things like email contacts, people in private circles (a Google+ thing), allow them to make posts FOR them at Twitter, Facebook, etc., and allow these companies to follow new people without their permission, etc. If you don’t think so, just try posting a comment at any number of online magazines/newspapers, etc., and read the conditions. Yet, these same Americans complain loudly about investigators trying to look at one phone of a confirmed mass murderer . . .
Hello Everyone. I have been quite absent from my blog of late. Well, not absent, since I’ve moderated comments and made comments, but I’ve been too entwined with our cross-country move preparations to write anything.
Some people may have the good fortune to be energetic toward organization (have OCD), or the income to hire maids and other help, or live in a house with room to move, store, and . . . be organized. But us, no. We live in a small apartment (although I used to live in a bigger house). I would like to sincerely and vehemently correct anyone who says that living in an apartment can be better than living in a house (a house that you own). Some reasons as to why we have known for some time, but other reasons we have just learned because of the major move we’re making. Let me list them, but first let me say that I hope this helps some people out there. Even at my age, some costly things regarding living in an apartment have taken me by surprise. I wish I had known about them earlier, before we rented this particular apartment.
I’m not a feminist, but it doesn’t take a feminist to see the mysogeny in some Judeo-Christian circles when King David is so glorified while persons like Michal, David’s first wife, are vilified. If Michal can be so maligned, then any woman can. David treated Michal (and his other wives) like his property in more ways than one, and many “believing” men still see David’s actions in a righteous light.
King David, Israel’s most revered king , who was chosen by God for that role and for his part in God’s redeeming plan, was a poet and a bit of a prophet, but he did things that God did not approve of and which are utterly un-Christlike/un-Christianlike  (read about Judah and others that God used and you’ll see that He didn’t forcefully make them “saints”). As always, we should recognize and praise the good, but we need to also recognize the bad and not repeat it. We are also called to recognize and help the oppressed.
What got “me going” on this subject at this time was a biography of David. In the introduction the author claimed that the only thing David did wrong was have Uriah the Hittite murdered because he wanted the man’s wife (Bathsheba). Though the author didn’t provide the reference for his claim, it comes from 1 Kings 15:5: For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite. Since there are other things written in the Old Testament that David did that displeased God, this statement can be taken as a generalized commendation, just as other kings received generalized condemnations; and “in the case of Uriah the Hittite” David committed many deep sins, not just one. (Note, however, that this particular verse seems to have been added to scripture later since it is not in the oldest versions of the Greek Old Testament).
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of Jesus’ harsh sayings being explained away, especially in light of the Christian church falling into disrepute. We should not be trying to placate everyone, and this is obvious by Jesus’ (and Paul’s) own words (verses are from the New International Version [NIV] unless otherwise stated):
Jesus was hated, so His true followers will be hated. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. . . If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. . . “ (John 15:18-20).
People will be offended by him, and therefore us. “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me“ (Matthew 11:6, New King James Version; Luke 7:23).
What Paul said about our smell. “To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?“ (2 Corinthians 2:16).
Christians are not to attack back when we’re personally offended, but we are to convey God’s word and will. This is simply going to be offensive to some and we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty over it. Many “Christians” just seem to roll with the cultural flow, but Jesus’ example was . . . what? He ended up dying on the cross for the truth.
One example of Jesus’ harsh words that I’ve always found difficult is from Matthew 15:21-27 (see also Mark 7:24-30). Can you imagine Jesus ignoring you, then calling you a dog and making you feel like you have to beg like a dog? Here is the passage:
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
I’ve heard sermons admonishing us to think of the “dogs” here as “puppies,” and in Mark’s version of the conversation the woman indeed uses the term “little dogs.” But, if we wanted to think of the word as “puppy,” there’s the issue of what puppies grow up into: dogs. Whether a puppy or a dog, the creature is something less than its owner. In the passage, Jesus is saying that the gentile is asking something of God that only the privileged should have, the implication being that not all humans are equal in God’s eyes.
But brushing aside the offense, the desperate mother cleverly and humbly responds. We don’t know if Jesus’ expression and inflection betrayed a different intent than His literal words, which were said in the presence of Israelites. In any case, I think the passage’s primary meaning can be understood in the light of Jesus’ other examples of people other than the house of Israel having true faith (and large doses of humility). Many in Israel thought that, in God’s eyes, outsiders were less than they were, and here Jesus seems to be confirming that belief. In another harsh passage, Jesus says not to throw your pearls to swine (Matthew 7:6). Ouch. These passages seem to fly in the face of God’s love and concern for everyone, that Christ died for all, and that all are equal in His sight.
But there are common misconceptions based on these ideas which indeed are found in scripture. Misunderstandings seem to come from thinking that certain verses refer to universal salvation. God’s saving grace may be universal, but it requires individual acceptance (it’s a gift that one accepts, or leaves unopened), and God knows that not everyone is going to accept it. He also knows (and has passed this knowledge on to us) that He has active enemies, not just people who don’t really want to accept Him. We don’t know who all these enemies are, but God does.
Therefore, neither “human” or “person” are synonyms for “child of God.” People can become children of God through faith, and individual Israelites were not necessarily God’s children. Once Israel rejected Jesus as Christ, all who did (and do) accept Him as such were (and are) adopted into God’s family. The Canaanite mother seems to be an example of this forthcoming church age.
While many Israelites did take Jesus’ messages to heart and come to faith, the nation as a whole did not. What were the problems? Following man-made traditions like many in Israel were doing was actually leading people away from God, and as alluded to above, many also had the attitude that being born an Israelite (a child of Abraham) automatically saved you (see John chapter 8, for example).
Again and again, Jesus dispelled these notions. In Matthew 15 here, a gentile Canaanite woman has saving faith. She believed that what Jesus was doing was real (of God) and sought Him out, while the religious leaders amongst God’s “own people” did not. Other examples are the centurion who knew that Jesus could heal even from a distance (Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10); the (parable of the) good Samaritan who helped a man left to die when Israelite holy men would not (Luke 10:30-37); the Samaritan woman who became His witness to other Samaritans (John 4:1-30); and, the thankful Samaritan leper who was healed along with nine other Israelite lepers, who did not glorify God like the Samaritan did (Luke 17:11-19).
Jesus also brought up other related examples from the past, like Jonah the Israelite not wanting to give God’s warning to the Ninevites, God having the prophet Elijah stay with a non-Israelite lady during a severe, long term drought, and God healing a Syrian–but not any Israelites–of leprosy during Elisha’s time (Luke 4:24-27). Of course, He also reminded the Israelites here and there about God’s prophets they had killed in times past. These examples, of course, angered many. Those unwilling to accept His messages sought His life, just as they sought the past prophets’ lives he reminded them of.
We can see, perhaps shockingly, that the Canaanite woman was not really offended; apparently, she understood something that was more important than the apparent offense. Her faith led to the healing of her daughter and a compliment from the Son of God. In another example that many of His own disciples found offensive, Jesus taught that He was the bread of life, and that His blood was for salvation. He said that a person needed to eat his flesh and blood. Of course, he was speaking in spiritual terms of the coming Last Supper and future sacrament of communion. He wasn’t all-of-a-sudden advocating cannibalism. But many disciples failed to trust His words, were offended, and left Him (John 6:47- 71). But those who believed in Him stayed even though they didn’t fully understand His words at the time. Faith is trust, and blessed are those not offended by Christ.
Someone asked with the Help tag at Bungie’s Destiny site where one can get etheric light. Since the Trials of Osiris started today, we found that there is NO way of getting etheric light – a requirement for upgrading new game gear – if you don’t have your own play team. In other words, you can’t get it as a single player and there is no in-game matchmaking for the activities where etheric light can be found. Regulation of the gaming industry is needed at this point. Consumers should not be deceived into buying a product that they have little or no chance of getting a refund for.
We preordered the game and the season pass, based on what we knew of the game pre-release. Well, the game has changed a lot since then. The amount of play time a single player can get out of the game is less and less, and the latest dlc makes single player useless. With the House of Wolves you CAN get new gear that is as high or higher than the previous gear, but if you don’t have your own teams to play the meat of the dlc, what’s the point? To just play the old stuff that happens to have matchmaking over and over again?
This is the crime against humanity of our time. It is the religious equivalent of ethnic cleansing. It is deliberate, it is brutal, and it is systematic. And I, as a Jew, want to say that I stand solidly with Christians throughout the world in protest against this crime. And I am appalled that the world is silent.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (2013 Erasmus Lecture)
. . . the Jews seem to be the ones most outraged by it. . . . It’s shades of the past that a world that is indifferent to such brutal actions becomes indifferent to anybody’s suffering.
The White House—the whole Western community—ought to be taking action, as we would against any country that engages in this kind of action. Look, overall the West is muted in their response to the killings of Christians by the thousands, from Indonesia to Nigeria to Tehran to Damascus. Where is the outcry? Christians and Copts [are being killed] in Egypt, other countries—and hardly any response to it. . . . Where are the [United Nations] Security Council resolutions? Why aren’t the condemnations coming from them?
Malcolm Hoenlein, head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
. . . the Middle East [was] once home to countless thriving Jewish communities, only for them to have been decimated in the mid-twentieth century. With the rise of hardline Islam and growing turmoil in many of these countries, Christians risk sharing a similar fate. . . . A century ago, Christians constituted 20 percent of the population of the Middle East; today, that number stands at just 4 percent.
Jews care. A lot of Jews get it. What is with us? Why does our own country, and the West, not care? The western media is biased in its reporting when Christians are killed in countries like Sudan. They seem to be ashamed that Christians even exist and that violent-minded Muslims are justified in doing evil. But where is the Christian response, the Christian outrage? If it doesn’t exist, then it can be surmised that Christians don’t really exist. At least, our own government’s weak response against the atrocities can certainly be viewed as nothing but hot air. But why should our government do anything about it or care, when we people of faith don’t even seem to??
Churches are our gathering places. Why aren’t churches organizing anything to raise awareness about what is going on in the world? If they don’t know . . . what excuse can be given? Maybe some pastors are writing newspaper editorials and encouraging action by their flock–I don’t know. Feel free to let me know of examples of such action in the comments below, or provide links there to Christians groups and organizations that are trying to do something about this (I don’t mean groups that report on it only). Thanks.
Update: At the time that I wrote this I wasn’t aware that “Season 5” was broken up into two parts and that the next “season” wasn’t going to be “6.” So the post below is about the first half of Season 5. I did end up watching the second half, late again, on Netflix. Those episodes were hard to watch, but I wanted to see if Walter would redeem himself in any way. After much beyond believable behavior on his part, he finally did admit to himself – and to his wife before he died – that he didn’t do all the nasty stuff he did for the family (it really took him a long time to admit the obvious), but because he liked the power. I may watch it again so that I can write a fuller post on sin and how people handle it, or don’t, in this popular show and how it reflects Christian belief on these subjects, but for now, enjoy the original essay (and thanks for dropping by!).
I wonder how many Christians watched “Breaking Bad,” the show about a high school chemistry teacher turned evil meth mastermind. I hadn’t wanted to watch it until recently, but that was because I had a mistaken view of what the original story was; we also because don’t watch much TV. My son wanted to see what it was all about, however, since it’s so popular, and we ended up watching up to season 5 recently on Netflix. (This is an adult show, so yeah, we fast forwarded over a few parts – something my son was very glad to do!)
If you’ve watched it, you know that the teacher, Walt, gets lung cancer and his family, even with insurance, can’t pay for all the treatments and surgery (that alone, if I recall correctly, was $120,000). He originally thought of just letting himself die, but his family didn’t want that, of course. So, since he knew chemistry, he decided to make money at making meth. He wanted to make enough to pay for the family’s bills and put enough in savings for his kids to go to college – before he died. He had good intentions, at least during the first season (and what he’s doing is not any different than what the tobacco industry gets away with legally, when it comes down to it). However, the treatments went unusually well and Walt’s cancer went into remission. Things went downhill from there.
I very much like the message of the first season. It’s something like this comic:
But after season 1, Walt gets more and more prideful until by the end of season 5, he murders a man easy as pie, where there is no reason to (and this man was a trusted associate). At this point in the show Walt is 51 yeas old, and only about a year and a half has taken place since the beginning of season 1. He is no longer the same person he was, by any stretch of the imagination. People can and do become corrupt, but the only way that it can happen at that speed and level, is by becoming demon possessed. So what I’m saying is that, *gasp*, the show is just bad.
The bad writing and weird decision-making by the characters started in season 2, so it makes me think the makers of this show didn’t have a good long-term vision for it. To try and make us believe that all the violence and stupidity in the show is due to Walt not being able to get proper health care is just silly. I do think they could’ve stayed on track with that original idea and come up with a more realistic, quirkier, and interesting show than what “Breaking Bad” became.
After season 1, it simply became a gangster soap opera. There are tidbits in it about the possibility of God, and how people change and become bad, but that’s all they are – tidbits. Besides that, Hank, Walt’s DEA brother-in-law (the good guys, right?), is an extremely obsessive legalist type who is about as equally disturbing as Walt! In any case, I kept watching the show because I was invested in it and I simply wanted to see what happened next, but, after season 5, I truly don’t care what happens to Walt anymore. I wish he hadn’t left a trail of bodies (or . . . barrels of acid) everywhere and made the lives of those who happen to be still alive so miserable.