Friday, March 25, 2011

Yea? Hath God Said?

Well since readership seems to have dropped off to just about nothing once again, I figured I'd do something a bit different here. I can't recall if I've tackled the subject of religion in any direct way in this blog, but today that's going to change.

I subscribe to a few different online news services. Each day, they send me a list of news headlines with links to the full articles. One of these alerted me to a controversy regarding a new book written by a man named Rob Bell. At the risk of providing publicity to Mr. Bell's book, Love Wins, I'll ask you, gentle reader, to view a 3 minute YouTube video promotion of his book. In this promo, Mr. Bell uses the subtle tactic of the Socratic Method to influence you to consider the reasonableness of his opinions.

Well, I seem to recall another rather "subtle" being who, a great many years ago, used this same tactic to instill doubt in the mind of his listener.

In response to this video, I am going to attempt to undertake a bit of conversation with Mr. Bell and provide answers to these questions that he asks you to consider.

Here is the link to the YouTube video:

Rob Bell: "Gandhi is in hell? He is? Someone knows this for sure?"

Gleno: That's an unanswerable question. It's also a very leading one. Bell would like us to think that since we cannot know the answer with certainty that the only reasonable position to assume is his position, which stresses the inclusive nature of God's love. God created us all, therefore God loves us all. God is good. Thus, how can we think that a loving God would send anyone to hell?

But, as a minister, Bell should know scripture better. Certainly Bell would maintain that only God knows the heart of a man. In this, he is correct. It is written, "Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men)." (I Kings 8:39)

Thus, we mere mortals cannot know for certain where Gandhi is. However, the Bible offers quite a bit more about what can be known.

Scripture is very clear on what it would take for Gandhi to get to heaven: "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) According to this, if Gandhi chose to accept Christ as savior before his death, then he is invariably in heaven. It is in this offer of salvation through Christ's substitutionary sacrifice on the cross that God's love "Wins".

My modest question to Mr. Bell is how likely is it that Gandhi, whose life was so firmly and famously founded upon Hinduism and its tenet of ahimsa (the avoidance of violence), decided in his later years to forsake Hinduism for Christianity? I can only hope it may be so.

Rob Bell: "Will only a select make it to heaven?"

Gleno: A rather unusual question from one who, by profession and training should know what the Bible says in answer to this. Is Mr. Bell being rhetorical or is this question planted to help me to make my point more easily?

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Acts 4:13-14

Rob Bell: "And if that's the case, how do you become one of the few?... How does one become one of the few?"

Gleno: What a great question, Rob; I thought you'd never ask! The Bible lays out everything one must do to gain entry into heaven. We need only look there to find out.

In Christian circles, there are a number of methods by which one answers this question for the earnest inquirer. (And, before I go on, let me be clear that each of these relies solely on the words of the Bible and each is in agreement with all the others.) Some Christians use what is known as "The Five Spiritual Laws" to share the plan of salvation. Others use that old standby "The Romans Road" to walk a person through the logical process of the salvation decision. Certainly, other Christians will share the salvation message with you with their own personal list of scripture references.

Talk with any number of Christians and you'll likely find that no two will use the same exact collection of scripture passages to explain to you how you can get to heaven.

They may call it by different names too: "conversion," "being born again," "the new birth," "getting saved," "accepting Christ as Lord." Whether you're "getting religion" or you're "seeing the light", the point is the same: namely, that you are doing what the Bible says you must do in order to enter into heaven when you die.

So, what's the plan, man?

Well, I think the answer is important enough that I'm going to devote my next post to this question entirely.

As you delve deeper into Rob Bell's own brand of religion, it becomes more obvious that Bell is merely rehashing "universalism"; that is, the belief that, in short, God loves everyone and therefore everyone will ultimately be saved. It's what has been called a "Love Gospel" and "Easybelievism." It's contemporary; warm and fuzzy; and it is utterly lacking in scriptural basis. It's a farcical notion that has been ripped to shreds by numerous theologians, and is it intuitively obvious to anyone who has made even a half-hearted attempt to understand the Bible that it is not what the Bible says.

According to Bell, there is no hell, and no matter what you believe in this life, you will ultimately end up in heaven. Sounds great.

So tell me again why Christ was crucified?


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Words of the Wise

"If men of wisdom and knowledge, of moderation and temperance, of patience, fortitude and perseverance, of sobriety and true republican simplicity of manners, of zeal for the honour of the Supreme Being and the welfare of the commonwealth; if men possessed of these other excellent qualities are chosen to fill the seats of government, we may expect that our affairs will rest on a solid and permanent foundation." -- Samuel Adams

But they aren't. So we can't.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Security Words

Since it was a popular post the last time I did this, I've decided to do it again.

Many websites that allow readers to post comments require you to prove you're a real person (as opposed to a "bot"). To do so, you are asked to type a string of seemingly characters into a text field. I will bet that you always assumed that these were nonesense words that were made up on the fly, right? Well, we here in Upham Manor pride ourselves on educating the public to what these words mean. What follows are some of the security words I encountered recently and their true meanings.

faingli - (n.) The loose and drooping skin of the eyelids that does not fully retract when the eyes are open.
"Man, if it wasn't for his eyelashes holding his faingli up, he wouldn't be able to see at all."

urrigi - (n.) The remaining 8 to 14 macaroni at the bottom of the serving bowl at the end of a meal that no one has room enough to eat.

ancleta - (n.) The highly irritating and very distracting bit of spittle that develops on the lower lip and/or in the corners of a speaker's mouth that causes the listener to think of nothing else than wiping that person's mouth for them.

- (v.) To increase the perceived size of one's person by means of spreading the legs, extending the shoulders, stiffening the elbows, etc.
- (n.) A person who does so on the T to discourage people from taking the vacant seat next to them.
"I got shnombed right out of my seat at Copley Station."


- (v.) To quietly assert oneself for the purpose of self-gain while pretending not to care.
- (n.) A person who, by means of subtle positioning, aligns himself along a subway platform where he believes the train's doors will open and then quickly injects himself into the car to gain the most desirable available seat.

Those are my offerings. Do you have any of your own you care to share?


Friday, March 11, 2011

One's Own Self-Worth

I recently Stumbled Upon a website that I thought was rather intruiging. Using a rather wide array of questions (some of the exceedingly personal, though not personally identifiable), it provides you with a statement of how much you would cost if you were to sell yourself. There is no implication of prostitution or slavery in this valuation -- the site was simply attempting to provide an objective measure of your relative worth given things such as your education, lifestyle, health, etc.

So I gave it a try. Since no one was watching me take the test, and since it seemed clear they weren't going to ask me for my name or social security number, I tried to be as honest as I could. The test came back with a result (no marketing gimmicks, thank heaven and they didn't ask for a cell phone number), and a link that you could post in Facebook or on your blog. My links are below.

One part of the test asked you to provide your results to a second, connected test: a test found at the website This part of the test was the most interesting to me. I really expected it to be another of those "Which weighs more, a pound of feathers of a pound of iron" types of tests, but it was not. In fact, it was pretty intense. If it hadn't been short, I might have bailed.

If you enjoy a good test, I recommend this one. I'll admit it, it was challenging, but I'm rather pleased to say that I scored 24 out of 25. I'm happy to report I did not Google any part of it or cheat in any way. It took me 4 minutes and 28 seconds to complete. Care to give it a go? Click the links below.

I am smarter than 93.68% of the rest of the world.
Draftstreet Review

Monday, March 7, 2011

No Postage Necessary

This morning, I inserted an envelope bearing the mark, "No Postage Necessary if Mailed in the United States" in the mail slot of my front door. In the envelope were the various glossy colored pages that had been sent to me by a company peddling a line of history books.

In fact, the full package received from this company included a DVD in rather impressive packaging that claimed to contain a promotional video presenting information about King Tut's tomb and explaining how their monthly subscription service worked. I perused a few pages of their highly stylized literature and learned that for a monthly fee, with a low introductory rate, I too could be provided with historical information that was otherwise freely available on the Internet.

I quickly tore open a sealed packet contained in the marketing literature and found that I was one of the "lucky few" to have received a gold sticker that I could affix to my order form to be returned in the envelope. This would entitle me to even more valuable material that would be mailed to me each month.

I firmly affixed the sticker over my name and account number on the form and hand wrote a brief note to the company:

Thank you for this informational package and the DVD. However, I have no interest in this material as there is a near-limitless offering of historical information in multimedia form available on the Internet for free. Moreover, as I have to pay a fee in my town for garbage pickup, I am returning all of your materials to you in the postage paid envelope you have provided. Thank you once again."

I then stuffed all the junk mail they had sent me into their own return envelope and graciously returned it to them. I'm sure their next customer will be happy to bear the costs of this company's printing, postage, and dumpster.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Architectural Innovation

Take a look at the picture on the right and ask yourself this question: "Which of these things doesn't belong?"

If you're like me, you have a bedroom. I'm willing to bet that if we have that in common, then we probably also share the dilemma of keeping that bedroom clean. Now, unless you're below the age of 12, your mess probably doesn't entail a spilled box of Legos and the assorted guns and equipment for your action figures. I'm guessing that a substantial portion of your mess is comprised of various textiles you use to attire your person.

I submit to you, gentle reader, a futher question: What does the rainment with which one adorns oneself have to do with the quarters in which one seeks repose?

For reasons I shall not attempt to plumb in this space, our culture, and the architecture that it produces, assumes that we will each have a dresser, bureau, and/or closet in our bedroom. I for one fail to see the connection between clothes and sleep. If you think about it, this arrangement is nonsensical, and does not make it easy to keep a bedroom clean. You are forced into a "clothing life-cycle" that follows this sort of order:

  • Carry clean clothes to your bedroom.
  • Put clothes away. (Or more realistically, set them down to be put away later.)
  • Awake in the morning. Put night clothes in hamper or back in drawer (or most likely, on floor).
  • Dress.
  • Return to bedroom in the evening. Undress. Put clothes in the hamper, closet, or floor.
  • Put on night clothes.
  • Awake in the morning. Repeat process.
  • After several iterations of this, carry hamper to laundry room. (We'll pretend your clothes are in the hamper.)
  • In the laundry room, wash and dry clothes. (Unless you live in Hanover, don't pretend you have enough room in the laundry room to fold your clothes.)
  • Carry clean clothes to your bedroom.
  • This is silly. It's inefficient at best and messy at its worst. I have a better idea.

    Rather than toting our clothes around into rooms they don't belong, I propose we dispense with the outdated laundry room concept and instead construct a clothing room. The clothing room in your house will be the first and last stop for all of your clothing. It serves as your closet, your dressing room, and your laundry room all in one.

    Envision, if you will, an area behind closed doors in which the collective closets and bureaus of the family are all centrally located. A house can much more efficiently contain one large clothes-storage area for a family than it can smaller individual ones. This area will have large cubbies, shelves, racks, and other recepticles to store all manner of apparel.

    The family enters this room, each takes their individual clothes from the shelves, and steps into a small "fitting room" such as you would have in a store. Once dressed, the family member emerges, drops their dirty clothes directly into the hampers (one for colors, one for whites) and then goes about their business. When the time comes to do laundry, you will find that the clothes are already conveniently positioned next to the machines. Moreover, the folded clothing is very quickly and easily returned to the appropriate shelves that are right there in the room.

    For added convenience, I would position a full bathroom next to this clothing room. One could stop out of the bath, dry themselves, don a robe, and step into the clothing room to commence dressing.

    I've been doodling plans for my dream house. This is one innovation I want to include. Maybe someday.


    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    The Right Word

    You can say what you will about Rush Limbaugh, but he has one quote that I love. "Words mean things." His point is a good one. We cannot ingenuously force a word to convey a meaning it does not bear.

    Too often people are lazy with their word usage; perhaps it's a simple product of poor vocabulary. This is shameful because the English language is replete with sufficient words to effuse perspicuity. Thus, I present here a short list of words that I feel are too often incorrectly used. Consider this one more battle in my crusade for linguistic propriety.

    Shoot - You can shoot targets. You can shoot the moon. You can shoot your mouth off. But you don't shoot a gun. When I hear that phrase, I picture a person holding a one rifle and firing at another rifle. Did you get that? Firing. You fire a weapon. You'll hear police and military personnel speak of discharging a weapon. "Shoot a gun" makes the speaker sound like my two year old son as he chases me through the house with the semi-automatic Nerf rifle I bought him the other day.

    Light as a verb. When I looked this one up online to see if I was at all off-base, I found that the definitions of "light" did not reference the word as a verb until the twenty-seventh entry in the list. "Light" is best used as a noun or a verb. Don't say, "Light the light." Ugh, that's just terrible. You illuminate a light, you don't light it. Granted, this is less irritating to hear when one is addressing the issue of a flame. "Light the candle." "Light the fire." But are you really lighting these things or are you igniting them? Words mean things. When you intend to convey a meaning, use the word that bears that meaning.

    Disconnect - This one makes me want to resort to violence. "I believe there is a disconnect between my department and yours." Disconnect is a VERB. Stop using verbs as nouns. This was a pattern than began a few years back in the business world. All of a sudden, people started using verbs as nouns in business conversation. Would you believe someone actually once said to me, "I will modem you the file" in reference to uploading a document to me? Say it again. Say it again. I dare you. I double dog dare you...

    Electric(al) - Electric what? This is a word I hear contractors misuse all the time. "We need to replace the plumbing, the heating, and the electric(al)." "Electric" is an adjective. It has to modify something. You cannot simply float it out there all alone. The sentence, "I need to upgrade my electrical system" works. If you don't like using two words, then somebody needs to invent a new word. How about "electrolics"?

    Significant(ly) - "There was significant damage to my car." Oh really? And, pray tell just what does said damage signify? Or is it possible you mean to say, substantial damage to your car? These are two different words with two different meanings, yet somehow people use them interchangeably. If something is "significant", it means it has some further, as yet unrevealed meaning. The fact that I'm driving a minivan is significant of my status of a father of three.

    Literally - "I literally fell out of my laughing." Liar. I was right there when he told the joke and you did no such thing. Why do people say "literally" when they literally mean the very opposite of that? You figuratively fell out of your chair. "Literally" means it actually happened; "figuratively" means your speaking symbolically to express your meaning.

    These are just a few that come to mind as I mulled over this topic. Some of these, you may argue with me. You might even find dictionary entries that say I'm wrong. However, I'm willing to bet you that if you do, it's an example of the dictionary bowing to common usage rather than the other way around.

    Which words do you find are misused? I'd love to hear your list.