Saturday, January 30, 2016

Addendum to my previous post.

I think it obvious that I am a nerd.  I wear it like a badge of honor. So, as I was searching for a website to feed my hunger for more knowledge on theology, philosophy, etc. I stumbled upon a site that serves as a kind of theology hub.  I just finished reading an article about the reliability of Mark and think that it may explain the reliability of Mark better than I have.  It's a short and easy read and may answer questions that may have been raised by my last post.   You can find it here.

The article was written by Peter J. Williams.  I have never read anything by him before today, but it is definitely written with more authority than what I have.  If you are the 99% who will not read it, for whatever reason, at least read this paragraph:
Mark contains three major sections of teaching by Jesus (chapters 4, 7, and 13) as well as shorter accounts of teaching. Various features of what is attributed to Jesus suggest that Jesus’ teachings were not invented by Christians, since they use forms of speech and expressions either not found or rarely attested among early Christians, and they do not show many of the features of early Christian discourse. For instance, positively, Jesus regularly referred to himself regularly as the Son of Man, a phrase not common amongst early Christians, amongst whom he was called the Christ, Lord, or the Son of God. Or again, Jesus used parables, though these were not common amongst early Christians either. Negatively, Jesus’ teachings do not use the titles that were later used of Jesus. Nor do they explicitly cover many of the issues that early Christians spent time discussing such as the relationship between Jews and Gentiles, whether or not Christians could eat food that had been sacrificed to idols, or how churches should be organized.
This establishes evidence of earlier writings than what we have of the Gospels.  I didn't really go over that as much as I wanted and felt it left a gaping hole in my argument.  I don't want people to think that I am glossing over the failure to find early writings of the Gospels.  The earliest extensive writing we have of a Gospel  dates to the mid 3rd century.  When this article was written the earliest manuscript was a small portion of the Gospel according to John dated to first half of the 2nd century.  That may not longer be so.  A small segment of Mark has been recovered.  The preliminary study has dated it in the 1st century.  In the lifetime of the apostles and other witnesses.

Exciting stuff that it is, it's even more exciting that there are still no major differences between the early manuscripts and the modern Bible.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Cases for Christianity

This post may get a little lengthy, but I will try to keep it as brief and as simple as I can.  I want to focus on a couple of arguments that I think make a strong case for Christianity.  First we have to look at the reliability of the Gospels.  Can we trust that the writers didn't just make it all up?  This will jump into an argument of the martyrdom of the apostles.   Did they really die for their faith?  What does it matter if they did?   After we establish the credible historicity of the Gospels we will then look at the single most important tenet of Christianity: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Let's face it, without the Resurrection we have no faith.  We have no reason to believe Christianity.  In fact it would lend credence to the argument that Christianity is just an apostate Judaism.  I hope this provides answers questions a seeker of Truth may be asking.  I also hopes it educates and provides support for any Christian who has questions about their own faith or just never educated themselves about their faith.  I also want to add at the end a link to a site that has spent a majority of its existence answering some inconsistencies or contradictions found in the Gospels.  He has done a fantastic job of discrediting attacks on Christianity launched by Bart Erhman based on these superficial inconsistencies and contradictions.

So, how can we know that the Gospels can be trusted? Well, we can begin by looking at the witnesses that still lived at the time of some of the earliest writings in the New Testament.

(A quick run down of things that you need to know about the Gospel.  The exact dates of their writing is unknown, but heavily believed to be written within the first century A.D.  The earliest Gospel is believed to be Mark, disciple and writer for the apostle Peter.  The rest of the Gospels were written shortly after by their respective authors.  There is theorized to be an early source that was circulating along the first generation of believers that historians have named "Q". This source is believed to be a somewhat quick rundown of the life of Jesus.  The Gospels were written to give the first believers a more in depth look at the life of Christ from their point of view.  The exception being Luke a disciple of Paul.  He wrote his two books Luke and Acts for a supposed believer named Theophilus, Luke 1:3. He spent some time following the apostles and getting their accounts of the life and miracles of Jesus.  Some of which he alludes to being present for.  It's interesting to note that he also seems to reference the other Gospels in the first two verses in Luke.  And possibly the existence of "Q".  Luke 1-2. It may be that he is also referencing incorrect gnostic theology infecting the early church.  I will discuss those pieces of apostate garbage later, but for now I have digressed way too much.)

In my digression I mentioned the existence of "Q".  This shows that an even earlier version of the Gospels were in circulation at the writing of the Gospels.  So, what does that mean?  It means that the witnesses of Jesus's miracles and life were still around.  These witnesses would then be able to discredit any exaggeration or outright lies written within the Gospels or "Q".  Here is what Dr. William Lane Craig has to say about it,
Since those who had seen and heard Jesus continued to live and the tradition about Jesus remained under the supervision of the apostles, these factors would act as a natural check on tendencies to elaborate the facts in a direction contrary to that preserved by those who had known Jesus.

Read more:
We also get an extra biblical source at least confirming the existence of Jesus in Jewish historian Josephus, who lived in the first century A.D.  He also lends support for the belief these early believers and witnesses at the very least believed in the miracles of Christ.  Here is what he wrote concerning Jesus in the year 93 A.D.,
About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man.  For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had  first come to love him did not cease.  He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him.  And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.
                                - Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3 §63
(Based on the translation of Louis H. Feldman, The Loeb Classical Library.) Taken from the website
 Here it sounds as if Josephus himself found the evidence so compelling that he was a believer or at the very least on the fence.  The date of the writing places it the life of John, the Apostle.  This places it still in the time frame of the first generation of believers in Christ.  The witnesses of Christ seemingly agreed with what they read and taught because they let it stand and didn't raise a fuss over any lies.  The higher ups in the Jewish faith, who opposed Jesus and His apostles, said their piece and still the Christian faith grew like wildfire. This itself is evidence that the majority of witnesses were in agreement about the credibility of what the apostles and their disciples were saying and writing. If they were lying and making it all up it seems far more likely Christianity would have been dead on arrival.   It wouldn't take long for the witnesses to discredit these claims.

So, we now move on to the apostles.   How can we be sure they just didn't write down some stuff and get some people to go along with it?

I want to first establish the answer to the easy part of that question.  The Bible makes it quite clear that being a Christian in the early days of the faith.  For the very first example of this we turn to Acts 7:58-60

 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice,“Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
This verse also gives us the first glance at Saul who later becomes the apostle Saul.  A bit more about him later.  For now we want to focus on the persecuted not the persecutors.  Now I don't really believe any reasonable argument could be made against the persecution of Christians, even the accounts recorded in the Bible, but in case there is anyone out there that believes that early Christians had it easy:

"Therefore, to stop the rumor [that he had set Rome on fire], he [Emperor Nero] falsely charged with guilt, and punished with the most fearful tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were [generally] hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of that name, was put to death as a criminal by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, in the reign of Tiberius, but the pernicious superstition - repressed for a time, broke out yet again, not only through Judea, - where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, whither all things horrible and disgraceful flow from all quarters, as to a common receptacle, and where they are encouraged. Accordingly first those were arrested who confessed they were Christians; next on their information, a vast multitude were convicted, not so much on the charge of burning the city, as of "hating the human race."

This is from the site:  It's from the book "Annals" by a Roman historian of the first century named Tacitus.  There is some evidence of Christian persecution outside of the Bible.

So, we are left asking ourselves: why in the world would these witnesses subject themselves to such horrid atrocities? The obvious answer is that they were so convinced by what they had been told and seen that any threat or torture was not enough to get them to recant. I believe there is a preponderance of evidence at this point that the witnesses and existence of a man named Jesus, who had many followers who believed Him Christ, can be reasonably believed.  Next I want to look at the fascinating person named Paul. A witness who claimed to have seen the risen Christ.  This man keep in mind was a torturer and killer of Christians as seen above in the book of Acts when he went by the name of Saul.

Now we must first figure out if the person Paul ever existed.  We can look to the Bible and clearly see that the Bible states he existed.  Now to understand how that can be used as evidence one must understand the New Testament.  This is not just a book that is half of the Bible.   It is a collection of letters written to churches in various cities in the Roman Empire.  It's not a book that some people decided to just sit down and write.   Now, it must be understood that these letters were copied and passed around by believers.  How does this provide evidence of Paul?  If Paul didn't exist it seems far more likely these letters would never have survived.  The early Christians would have been left wondering who this Paul guy is.

For some proof outside of the Bible we have early Church writings concerning Paul (and also Peter and other apostles.).  These writers lived in the time of the apostles and had some arguments concerning the meaning, worth, and credibility  (concerning authorship; odd debate to have if you made someone up) of the letters they had from the apostles.

One of such writings of Ignatius of Antioch who lived from 35-110 A.D.
“You are initiated into the mysteries of the Gospel with Paul, the holy, the martyred, the deservedly most happy, at whose feet may I be found, when I shall attain to God; who in all his Epistles makes mention of you in Christ Jesus.”
 This quote and a full argument, concerning Paul and what we know about him, can be found here: (it's also, quite obviously, and argument concerning Islam's beliefs on Paul)

Now this quote actually brings me to my point about Paul. We know that he existed and apparently was greatly feared by the apostles in the early days because of his penchant for slaughtering Chritians.  As evidenced in Acts 8:1-3,
1 And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison (taken from:
Now to summarize the rest of the story Saul on his way  to Damascus to persecute the Christian Church there he encounteredthe Risen Christ, changed his ways and became Paul.  Now, what makes a man intent on killing Christians suddenly completely change his life and join the very faith he was so enthusiastically persecuting?  A lie? He may have seen opportunity in joining a startup faith that was heavily persecuted which he knew firsthand.  That just seems highly doubtful.  Maybe it's all a lie about him being a hunter of Christians.  We have no evidence of that; only evidence of it being true. Maybe he fell off his donkey and hit his head really hard.  Possible, but how many people have become the complete opposite of who they used to be because they hit their head and hallucinated?  From his writings he seemed to be of sound mind.  The only difference is that he was a fervent believer and follower of Christ.  So, passionate about his belief, so confident, he died for it.  Which is evidenced by the quote above from Ignatius, who lived in the time of the apostles writing to people who also would have known the apostles personally.  This taken together lends credence to the Bible and the faith when taken as a whole.

We are left at this point a good argument that a man who murdered, tortured, and imprisoned Christians had a life changing experience that ended with him joining those he previously hated.  It ultimately ended with him dying for that belief.  It seems more likely that this would be the case if Christianity were true.  Thus, we have a good argument for Christianity.  Next we will look at the rest of the apostles and what evidence we have of their martyrdom.

It's at this point where it's obvious that I will first point out that the Bible is a source of evidence that the apostles died as martyrs.   I want to quickly answer a quick question people ask.  What makes the difference that the apostles were martyred?  Other religions have their fair share of martyrs.  What difference is their between Simon Peter dying for his beliefs and a follower of another religion dying for their beliefs?   The difference is that the apostles died not for something they believed, but for something they knew.  If I was killed tomorrow for being a Christian it would be for my beliefs.  They claimed to have seen, converse, eat, and watch the Ascension of the Risen Christ.  That means that if they were lying about everything then they died knowing they were dying a meaningless death.  They weren't without reason. 1 Corinthians 15:17-19:
17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
They were very aware and even believed that if they were mistaken that we are the most to be pitied amongst the lost (read: damned).  It seems here that it's likely that the apostles were true believers.  They believed in what they saw; and if they were deceived then we are the worst of the damned.  What sales pitch!  "Come join our faith!  We promise death and torture!  And, hey, if we are wrong God may just have a special place for us in hell!"

Why would they use this as propaganda for their fledgling faith?  The only reasonable answer is that the faith is real.  They had a message so important that they told people no matter the consequences.   Now, there is not any real debate whether they truly believed or not.  Most scholars and historians agree that they were "true Christian believer(s)" (hat tip to "The Masque of the Red Death" and Vincent Prices and of course Edgar Allan Poe.).

So, really here we have no actual reason to believe that they weren't murdered for being Christians.   We know from earlier that persecution was very real and fierce.  We saw evidence of Paul's martyrdom and his killing of Christians before his own conversion.  But just so we have some extra evidence and not just a logical conclusion I will provide some evidence.

I want to,  of course,  be honest in this argument of sorts, so I will confess that the evidence of martyrdom is only clear on a few of the apostles; one of which being Paul.  Sean McDowell wrote his doctoral dissertation on the extensive research he did on the apostles and had this to say:
While we can have more confidence in the martyrdoms of apostles such as Peter, Paul and James the brother of John (and probably Thomas and Andrew), there is much less evidence for many of the others (such as Matthias and James, son of Alphaeus). This evidence is late and filled with legendary accretion. This may come as a disappointment to some, but for the sake of the resurrection argument, it is not critical that we demonstrate that all of them died as martyrs. What is critical is their willingness to suffer for their faith and the lack of a contrary story that any of them recanted.
This was taken from:  He goes on to talk about the evidence of their martyrdom in the early church fathers' writings.  The same that mentioned Paul's death.  At this point the question arises, well how can we be sure that they didn't just make it all up?  Really we can't be 100% sure, but it can be reasoned that they are telling the truth.

First, these people lived during the time of the apostles and we're disciples of them.  They were writing to others that were of the same group of people that they were.  If they were lying it seems more likely that these letters to each other would be conspiratorial in nature and not spoken of as truth.  You would also then have to account for the fact that many of the church fathers, too, died as martyrs.

So, now, we are left with good reason to believe that the apostles were true believers and did not have any nefarious hidden agenda in their teachings and even went so far as to die for what they believed.  We focused on Paul and saw that a man went from killing Christians to becoming one, preaching as one, being tortured and dying as one.  He based this extraordinary turnaround on the belief, a seemingly truly held belief as evidenced above, that he saw Christ alive, well and Divine. We also showed that the Gospels were widely believed and held to be reliable by the apostles and Church fathers.  The earliest manuscripts we have of them date between the late first century A.D. to the second century A.D.  Comparisons of the earliest texts we have to today's Bible shows only minor differences.  Spelling, grammar, synonyms used.  The so-called major differences are times, numbers, other logistical type differences.  The most major difference is the story of Christ saving the prostitute from being stoned.  The story containing the famous verse, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.".  Taken from:
It certainly seems as if, somewhere along the way, a scribe added this story of Jesus into John’s Gospel in a place he thought it would fit well. Most likely, the story had been circulating for a long time—it was an oral tradition—and a scribe (or scribes) felt that, since it was already accepted as truth by consensus, it was appropriate to include it in the text of Scripture. The problem is that truth is not determined by consensus. The only thing we should consider inspired Scripture is what the prophets and apostles wrote as they “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).
If you follow the link provided it gives the history of this chunk of Scripture.  In all honesty, the verses need to be dropped and left in a footnote explaining it's controversy.  It's false and an embarrassment.   We know it's false and still taught.  It's been a stumbling block for Christians not well educated about their own faith.  So, that's it.  That's the differences between our earliest manuscripts and modern Bible.  We can trust the earlier manuscripts we haven't found is just as likely to be as similar.   The reason being that this is people's faith.  They would have every reason to be precise, but no reason to lie.  If they believe it to be God's Word they wouldn't seek to change it, but to cherish it.

Now, we reach the big one.  Did Christmas actually resurrect from the dead?  The arguments made for and against His resurrection have to be made in an argument to the best explanation manner.  Unless a body proved to be Jesus of Nazareth is recovered or the Second Coming happens it is impossible to prove either claim.  But, what if anything makes us think that the Resurrection claim is the best explanation?

This question, when glanced at, makes it seem like we believers have an enormous task in front of us in showing the Resurrection is the best explanation.  We don't,  not really.   If you re-read what has been written about so far in this post, the argument has already been made, mostly.  Reliability of witnesses, reliability of the witness accounts (the Bible), lack of evidence against the witnesses (when the apostles first made the claim the Romans and Jewish pharisees could have easily quelled the religious rebellion going on by producing thebody of Jesus.  They didn't.), and the claim itself.   Why make such a fantastic claim.  Especially one so easily defeated by a dead body.   Paul's claims showed what they thought if Christ didn't resurrect.  If they stole the body then said they are the least of the damned, and then died for the lie, one must grudgingly admire such commitment to a lie that gained them nothing.

Billy Graham makes a point, incidentally, about the weirdness of the Resurrection claim:
...because they were overwhelmed with disappointment by Jesus’ arrest. They had hoped He would overcome the power of the Roman government and establish a new kingdom, and now their hopes of this vanished.
(Retrieved from:

This point is that the popular view in that era was that the Messiah would come and overthrow the Roman Empire and establish an eternal reign on David's throne.  As Christians know today, that is what comes next after the Second Coming.  Not so back in the age of the apostles.

Real quick I want to go over a slight piece of negative evidence that slightly weighs in the favor of the Resurrection as well.   We have never found a body.  The tomb is believed to have been found.   You can visit it if you ever go to Jerusalem.   No correspondence has been found suggesting a conspiracy related to stealing Jesus's body.  Conspiracy theories abound regarding His body being stolen, but no evidence.  The only evidence we have favors His Resurrection, both negative and positive.  The only thing left to the naysayers is to hypothesize conspiracy theories or to say that one day we will find His real tomb and His remains inside.

The case(s) have been made.   What's left is a decision to make that will affect you for all eternity no matter the outcome.   In my opinion the evidence weighs heavily in favor of the Christian claim.  If you agree then pray for Christ to come into your life,  forgive your sins, to give you a new heart.  Get yourself a Bible and read it.  Study it.  Ask questions about things that you are not sure about.   If you still have questions then ask.  You can ask me.  I would be ecstatic to answer any questions.  If you don't feel comfortable asking me you can try here:  Another great place, I mentioned in the introduction is:  Another spot:  They have 4 subcategories you can check out.   For advanced research:  Check out the popular articles and debates.  These take time to read, but the intellectual fulfillment and ,most importantly, the Truth you are exposed to are well worth it.  One last thing that I found last night worth a read after reading my post as a sort of supplemental dose of evidence is this article:

There are countless other resources at your disposal that I don't have the time or space to list here.   I have offered myself to answer your questions or point you to a place that can answer your questions if I am unable.  The decision is yours, but it is important.   Ask questions, investigate, learn as much as you can, but know that you don't have forever to decide.  Also,  know that it is a decision that affects your eternity. I believe that Jesus is our Lord and Savior and when investigated and researched with an open mind and an honest attempt anyone with a sound and rational mind would find the Truth and Purpose in Christ.  I hope you found this as enlightening as much as I found it funny to write.

Sorry about the quotes.  I have them correct in the draft screen, but for some reason they look weird when I posted them.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Almost finished with the next post.  It's longer than I wanted it to be,  but what can you do?  I'm trying to be as thorough as I can be and trying not to leave anything out.

For now I want to revisit my second post.   If you recall I mentioned God, seemingly arbitrarily, imposing morality upon us.  I said I wanted to return to that later and here we have arrived at later.

Now, what do I mean by "seemingly arbitrarily"?  First, let us look at the definition of arbitrary. Arbitrary  (based on the definition provided by Merriam-Webster) can mean "done regardless of what is fair or right".  So when I say, "seemingly arbitrarily" what I am saying is that God is seemingly imposing morals on us regardless of what is fair or right.  But, is He?

Let us look at God's attributes typically agreed upon.  He is omniscient, omnipotent,  omnibenevolent and personal.  Looking at His omnipotent and personal attributes (by personal I mean that He is knowable.  He cares and watches over us.  We can have a relationship with Him) He certainly has the power and motivation to impose such restrictions on us regardless of what is right or fair.

So, looking at His omnibenevolence we see where He would get such morality from.  We also get a second motivation for imposing His morality on our lives and actions arbitrarily like a tyrant.  Here, though we must remove the segment "right or" from our definition of arbitrary.  If He is omnibenevolent then no wrong can come from Him.  So, we are left with "done regardless of what is fair".  This still seems right.  The "or" means just one of right, fair needs to be met not both to be arbitrary.  This seems to fit better also with the complaint against God most of the time.  He isn't fair, so it goes.

Let's look at the "done" part.  He gave us His Law to live by, but does not force us to obey.  We have a choice.   Nothing is truly "done".  We choose to obey or disobey.  This leaves us with, "regardless of what is fair".  At this point it is not God who is unfairly being arbitrary.  We are now left with the complaint that it is His Law that is arbitrary.  This makes sense here.  When people complain about morality they often complain of it being unfair.

So, what about its being unfair?  How can we answer that?  We can answer it in a couple of ways.  

First, we can look at His being personal, omniscient and omnibenevolent.  He loves us, cares about us,  and is all that is good.  It would be in His nature to do what is best for us.  What is best for us may not seem fair or just with such a limited look at life.  Without the benefit of omniscience we can't really see the benefits and consequences of our actions until we arrive at the benefit or consequence.  So, what would be unfair is if He gave us no warning, but He does by having provided His Law.  Thus, "regardless of what is fair" has been removed.  Therefore God is not being arbitrary in the least.  He is only looking out for us.  Not just a certain few, but all of us. You, your neighbors, friends, enemies, family, and strangers.  Everyone is to follow His Law and seek Him.  If everyone would sacrifice their own will and come to Jesus for redemption just imagine the world then.

Secondly,  what is being cheated by His alleged "unfairness"?  It is sin.  Sin seeks to destroy and consume all that which is good which is defined by God's very nature, omnibenevolence.  He tries to keep us from the hunger of sin (John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.  This seems to sync up pretty well, huh?) and sin tries to infest us making us hunger for more.  His omnibenevolence also means that He isn't just making this stuff up as He goes along.  This is His nature.  It's out of necessity that His Law is the way it is.  He can not tolerate sin or evil.  He is cheating sin and offering us His saving grace.  Sounds fair to me.

What we are left with is blaming ourselves.  We fail.  We fall short.  God is God.  God is not arbitrary.  To see how He is loving and only looking out for us just ask Him.  Pray for forgiveness.  Ask Him to come into your heart and clean house.  Not only read the Bible, but study it.  Love it, learn it, live it, folks.  You'll feel complete for once.  Trust me.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Update on what is going on.

So, I am currently researching and writing a blog that is taking more time than I thought would take.  So, just to keep this blog active I am writing a little bit about random stuff.

One thing this site has is a little tracker of page views.  It tells me what website the view originated from and what country the viewer lives in. It's official. My blog is international!  I got a visitor from Mexico!  Sadly, he didn't write a comment, but if you happen to check back you are welcome to stay or write a comment,  sir or ma'am.

Also, if I stay active with this blog I will qualify to make money with this site!  Obviously I don't expect to make any kind of living off it, but a couple of dollars a month is still money in my pocket.

So, I have a blog being researched and written. Actually two, but the other is still a bit more down the road.  So, to my couple random visitors: I am working on a post.  Wait patiently and until then enjoy this video.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Robert Jordan's "The Wheel of Time"

Not much else to say other than that it is the best series that I have ever read.  It is so well developed: the protagonists, the antagonists, the "are we good or are we bad" crowd,  the side characters, the side antagonists, the Game of Houses or in the "Old Tongue", Daes Dae'Mar  (think game of thrones except instead of one nation playing at the title of King or Queen it's the story of several nations playing the game in their respective nations and that's only a side plot), the overall narrative, many side narratives all leading to the "Final Battle".

The overall story centers around the three "main" characters Rand, Matrim, and Perrin.  They all come from the same area, mostly forgotten by the world even by their own nation, called the Two Rivers.  Their lives are turned upside down when an Aes Sedai and her Warder come and scoop them up along with Egwene and Nynaeve to save or destroy the world.  The Dark One is close to breaking out of his prison and she believes that these three boys are at the center of everything.  Along the way we develop several tiers of main and side protagonists and antagonists.   Everyone follows their own path and we are left guessing how it all ends because nothing is certain : not the future, the present, not even the past is set in stone.  All is erasable and all is uncertain.  The world itself is falling apart at the seams, literally.   The Dark One's taint touches all.

It is a 14 book epic that will have you laughing, tearing up, screaming in rage, or even fighting back political debate with the book in your hands.  Robert Jordan spent the 80's developing the world,  language, story, history, characters, and nation alliances and rivalries.  He spent the next two decades writing it down in the novels for all to read.  He unfortunately passed away before the series was finished, but he spent his last few months on earth lying in his deathbed with a tape recorder dictating how the story was going to end and how to use his notes to put it in one last 3000+ page novel.  His widow hired Brandon Sanderson to undertake this enormous task, which he executed wonderfully.  The publisher refused to publish it all in one giant book so instead broke it up into 3 slightly less giant books.

From beginning to end this series keeps you guessing and anxious.   It is never certain if good will triumph.  I have to stop here or I will end up giving it all away.  But the philosophy, religion, theology,  politics, and political systems of this book was borrowed from the real world's religions, philosophy,  etc. with a few tweaks from Robert Jordan to make them fit in a fantasy world of his creating.  So, don't be surprised if you find yourself wanting to debate with the series on some points,  because he borrows from a lot of sources, even some that contradict.

Look it up.  Check it out.  Read it. And wait impatiently for a broadcasting company to pick it up for a TV series.   The biggest problem is that the series is so large that the budget would make the budget for Game of Thrones look like the Blair Witch Project.  Here's the link to get you started if you would dare to start this project:

Book 1: "The Eye of the World" by Robert Jordan, published by Tor.

There is a prequel to the series.  It was supposed to be a trilogy,  but was never finished due to his untimely death.  One book was published that I have yet to read titled "New Spring".

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Why God? Why Jesus?

So, the questions raised in the title kind of says it all.  Why believe in God? Why choose Christ?  I believe to some extent the real question on the mind of people is why choose to impose the restrictions God has (seemingly, we will discuss this more later in another post) arbitrarily dictated upon my life?

This is a question I have wrestled with for most of my life. It always invariably led me to ask: what can God do for me? For the longest time I fought with God.  I was angry, bitter and resentful.   I was the center of all things.  I was the betrayed, heartbroken, persecuted heir apparent to a throne that was never mine.  So, I was disgusted God, Jesus, didn't see my pain and grant me the power to make it right.

So, I continued to suffer. Not sure if I even believed in God.  I knew the Bible and it's teaching and scoffed.  Jesus promises poverty, lonelines, persecution, and self sacrifice going unrewarded and what will seem to be unappreciated in the here and now.   His one comfort was that we would have indescribable eternal joy in the next immortal life.

I wondered what good was that to me now?  Why should I suffer now for some mysterious reward that wasn't me centered?

Looking at the world now I see the chaos and the hopelessness. The confusion and contradictions based on a philosophy of self.  Even when people are doing good for others or trying to lift people up it is all centered on self.  I give to charity and accept the adoration while accusing others of greeed.  I work to empower the minorities or non-Christian groups by preaching to them hatred and the theology of "what can you do for me?". We have unleashed a poison unto the world and see it, but insist that the cure is just more poison.  In a twisted way it is a cure.  The poison in our system now is only making us sick and if we take more it will kill us, therefore we are cured of the illness infecting our culture, thoughts, deeds, and beliefs.  This poison has a name.  This poison is pride.  The original sin. It is also sin in general.  And as the Bible warns: the wages of sin is death.  The world spirals downward increasing its descent and the blind, those who live in the darkness, deny what they see (spiritual blindness people).  Goodness still exists in the world and that is true, but it is being increasingly strangled by the evil and unrest in the world.  A spirit of restlessness has invaded the world.

So, what does the questions raised previously about God and Jesus have anything to do with our world falling apart at its seams?  Another sign of the times I suppose.  In recent history the answer to the question would be apparent.  I, like so many others today, was consumed with the faith in self.  Our world is empty.  We are empty.  We are the creatures obsessed with the created.  An empty glass doesn't fill itself.  I realized that God promises so much more than just pain, suffering, and an obscure promise of eternal life and joy.   Following His commandments requires the sacrifice of our will and want for ourselves.  It will cause pain, yes, at first and be a struggle at times.  It's not easy having God's Light shine in your life revealing to you the evil and emptiness in your heart.  The good news is that when you get that Light shined in your life you know God has taken it upon His shoulders and erased it and replaces it with Himself. (When I speak of emptiness I am speaking of no true substance or answer to the problem at hand)

Still, the question remains how is it related to the world.  The world can be described as a system.  A system is what?  Essentially it is the sum total of its parts. It could also be described as a machine used to produced goods.  The system of parts working with each other (notice not for self) produce the goods the creator of that machine intended.  Right now our machine is broke.  The parts are working for themselves and not producing anything close to what its Creator intended.  The Creator has shown the way to be fixed and it's just putting aside our own will and accepting His Will.  He has the plans and the blueprints.  He is the Cure we all ache for, but we just can't see the forest for the trees.  We long to see and be out of the darkness and yet we shield our eyes from the Light.

Putting the tried and failed self will aside and accepting God's Will is the only way.  Why God, why Jesus?  Because there is no other way.  God promises a lot of strife and an unseen afterlife, but He offers so much more. He wills that we put away ourselves and love Him with our entire being.  That we love eachother. That we follow Him and care for the unfortunate, sick and lost.  That we love our enemies and pray for those that persecute us.  It is family, friends, community.  We forgive those who have sinned against us.  We work together with the blessings of God to shine His Light wherever we go.  Do this and be amazed at what He can do.

I see how small and petty I was.  So pathetic and obsessed with self. It was only when I realized how vacuous  and how void I was of answers.  The same void is rampant throughout the world.  The hatred, offense, bitterness, and resentfulness.  People who can't put away themselves and put God and others in the center.  Until we can learn to do so we will remain broken, poisoned, and blind.  God promises one more thing.  One day He is returning to fix it all.  He came once to show us the way.  So that we have a chance to follow His Will in the world to make the world a better place.  The second time he comes is to judge. The mockers and scoffers.  The self absorbed and persecutors will be made to answer for not following His Will.  For being part of the reason why the world suffers.  And what excuse will they offer when Christ illuminated the way.  So, the choice is left up to us.  We can either kneel and rejoice in the beauty, genius,  perfect wisdom and love of our All Powerful Trinity or be knelt in absolute horror and disgust with our self.  So, taken as a whole lies the answer to the question of why God and why Jesus.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

An introduction and 2 stellar reviews. :P

Cons Reality.  A place where I can post my Conservative and Judeo-Christian view on reality. It also gives any progressive an easy play on words insult.  "More like Conned Reality!" "You, sir, are the one who cons reality!".  I am also making this so that I can get my thoughts out and not keep bottling them up inside.  Sometimes I will review or suggest books, go over thoughts on certain topics,  give an overview of an article I read which the link will be provided for further or more complete reading thereof, and other times I may just rant about something that has crossed my mind, or just go all fanboy about something I like (anime!!).

So, to get down to business I will talk briefly about 2 books I have read recently.  The first book I would like to talk about is "Signature in the Cell" by Stephen C. Meyer.

A fairly interesting book that takes you through the world of microbiology and DNA. It has been insulted, criticized as being non-science, and the center of much controversy.  The sin it committed? It questions the claim of Darwinists that unguided evolution is settled science  (whatever settled science means).  It presents both sides of the argument rather fairly and completely, if not a little biased towards his own argument and I would like to meet the person who is not guilty of that.  Unfortunately, not many critical reviews have been written about the book or arguments written within that can be described as anything other than name calling condescension.  Sorry folks,  that is not an argument and seems rather like they are merely trying to change focus or conning people to stop criticizing the faults in unguided evolution or be at risk of being made fun of: bullied.  That is not to say there isn't a credible and authentic attempt at refutation of his arguments based on the mysterious origination of information in the cell. To find out more I suggest reading the book.  It can get rather dry and technical in some areas, but power through it and you may begin to understand what some of the technical stuff means and come out of the experience with a whole new appreciation for ID, evolution, the biologist profession, and of course our All Powerful Creator Who Created all things through Christ, our Savior.

The other book is titled "Beware the Night" by Ralph Sarchie and Lisa Collier Cool. Frightening is an understatement as a description of this book.   It's true stories of hauntings, possession, and exorcism encountered by Ralph while doing what he refers to as "the Work".  Read in the day with the lights on people, trust me on this.  It's a book with a lot of warnings meant to be heeded.  The book is heavily written from a tough New York cop, Roman Catholic point of view so, there is a fair amount of cussing and Holy Mothers throughout, but looking past that it is a very enlightening look into the world of exorcists.  This book will scare the hell out of you  (pun intended) and leave you wanting more, but while the book is meant to entertain to a certain extent it is meant above all else as a warning to people to stay clear of the esoteric because you never know who or what is itching to respond.  But it is NEVER good.  He tries to be ecumenical, but I don't think that it's needed.  Catholics, Protestants, and non-denominational types (shout out to my peeps!)  will find the book hauntingly spellbinding  (last pun, I swear) without the brief attempts at peaceful gestures towards one another sparsely placed throughout the book.  Ralph, I know, understand, and acknowledge your Roman Catholicism, it's okay, I don't hold it against you!  Not to mention 90% of the book is very in your face about it!

Two great books.  "Signature" took me longer to read than I would ever admit to, but "Beware" took me about a week (I took a couple 1-2 day breaks because of the fear it invoked).  I read them both at the same time  (about halfway through "Signature" I started and finished the other).  I highly suggest reading them both.  I really wish I had someone to discuss these things with,  but for now I speak to a wall listening to my own echo.

No intention of copyright infringement was contained herein. So, if I unintentionally infringed upon any such rights I offer my heartfelt apologies and beg your forgiveness.  If anything herein is found to be offensive then by all means write me a little letter, stick it in an envelope, put a nice forever stamp in the corner, fold the envelope into a nice little square, dip it in some petroleum jelly, and shove it right up your... (hat tip  to "Let's go to Prison" ;))