Ask Me Anything! (Well… almost)

DictionaryYeah yeah, it’s not your regularly scheduled dose of Emeth’s Home Brewed Esoteric Lexicology, but it’s close.

I get a lot of questions while I’m dancing through the cyber-sphere. I don’t always get the time to answer them all. Often as not I refer people to my blog and say I’ll get a post up as soon as may be. Which… all too often turns out to be never. πŸ˜₯

But! This time I’m going to be doing it the other way around.

I’m writing a blog postΒ in which I tell you to ask questions.

Fun, right?

The only stipulation is that I will limit my answers to the lexicological aspect of whatever you ask. So if you ask lexicological questions, it makes it easier for me. πŸ˜‰

And if you don’t know what lexicological means, ask that, and I’ll answer. πŸ˜€

Share this post around, keep asking questions, and have fun in the comments section!

Christ in Pain

Holy Spirit painting

When the chips are down. When the rubber meets the road. When all hell breaks loose, literally. When β€œthings don’t quite turn out.” When your life is wrecked, devastated, turned upside down. When your heart is torn into shreds and fed to the dogs. When the worst thing you could imagine… happens. How is God glorified in that?This is really a re-phrasing of the age-old question: How can a loving God allow death and suffering in His world? And although the answer to that is inestimably crucial, the answer is too much for the scope of this article. If you don’t know the answer, please, please email or comment and let me know, and I will be more than happy to explain it. Knowing this is vital, absolutely critical.

But when I phrase it this way… the question opens itself up to being rephrased again, and to really reaching into the heart of a struggle that I see many Christians battling with. A turmoil I see in the lives of people I love. So… you know who you are… this is for you. * smiles *

When everything is against me. When the world opens up at my feet to swallow me…

How do I glorify God in that?

You see how it’s connected? Think about it. God hates sin. He hates evil. He hates death, suffering, misfortune. He uses it, yes, but He doesn’t like it. It is not a part of His perfection which He wants for us (and which He will give us in heaven).

So how is He glorified in it on Earth? And as Christians, where do we fit into that? We are commanded to glorify Him in everything we do, in every circumstance. And really, if you think about it, what else should we want to do?!

So… how do we do it?

It’s hard.

No… scratch that. It’s not.

It’s impossible.

Really. It is. It is superhuman, supernatural — absolutely completely a miracle.

And that is the key. See, in our own strength we can’t glorify God in circumstances like that. We can’t do anything that would bring Him honor or praise or bless Him in any way. So… we do things we can’t do. Impossible things. It’s really as simple as that.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

What is peace?

Look at a glass of water or a still lake. Look at it… placid… smooth… unrippled. Untouched, unbroken. It is at peace.

Drop a pebble in. It breaks, the surface begins going everywhere, reacting to the stone. It is troubled.

God’s peace is this: Doing what is right regardless of circumstances.

Some people say it is freedom from harm. Which isn’t true. The Holy Spirit brings about peace, as well as troubles and harm (unless being stoned and drowned and beheaded and robbed and broken and tormented doesn’t count as harm…). If peace is freedom from harm, then He contradicts Himself. God forbid.

It might be more accurate to say that it is freedom from fear of harm. But even that isn’t true, because fear is not something you can really get rid of. It is a God-given impulse of our flesh, and we can’t rid ourselves of it any more than we can remove our need for water and food. What really matters isn’t being unfearful, but being courageous.

Courage is doing what is right despite being scared.

That is peace. It is choosing not to let circumstances control you. It is not reacting to things that happen to you — but choosing to respond instead. It is not letting your heartbreak determine what is on your heart’s throne. Doing that is impossible.

The pain is there. It will be there.

But that pain isn’t bad. Not if you glorify God in it. Then it becomes a wondrous thing.

When the very thing which is a punishment and consequence of rebellion against God brings glory to God, when imperfection blesses perfection… that is glorifying God.

So in essence, the way you glorify God in trials is simply to do what you would have done if you didn’t have trials. Make sense?

You still love. You still have joy (not necessarily happiness, though). You still serve. You still forgive. You still trust. You still pray. You still draw closer to God. You are still a little Christ, a little light of His.

And the very fact that you are doing all that while being tormented is what brings God ten-fold glory. Because it is impossible.

Now, you might have noticed that I didn’t give any Scripture references in this whole blog post. It quotes from the Bible extensively inline, refers to Scripture constantly, and is built solidly upon multiple studies of several topics, but I didn’t give any references. So, I am curious if any of you have any Scripture quotes which apply to this which you would like to share in the comments. Or even if you don’t want to share them, go ahead anyway. πŸ˜‰

A comment form is right below, and you can get Scripture here: www.sir-emeth.com/bible

Have at it. πŸ™‚

The Final Summit: a review

The Final Summit

The Final Summit

The Final Summit is a book in a series, and it isn’t the first book, and I read it without reading the others first (because I got it free from Booksneeze in return for an unbiased review). So it was a bit… non-immersive for me. I wasn’t connected to the characters. But then, I don’t think that was one of the goals in the first place.

This book is a lecture in success and effective living, framed in the narrative of a life of a man. It’s a good read, interesting, and well written, but it isn’t an action adventure novel.

The premise is that the greatest minds of the earth from all ages are gathered together to answer one question. The question was this: β€œWhat does humanity need to do individually and collectively to restore itself to the pathway toward successful civilization?” The answer was two words.

I disagreed with the author’s answer (which I will not give, because that would be a spoiler) because although it was a good, viable one, it was not the real answer. It did not go deep enough and it did not strike true enough. My answer is: “Seek God.” For if we seek, we find — God promises that. And if we keep on seeking, even after we are saved, we will draw ever closer to Him. Every other answer to our society’s problems can be found along that journey. And without it, no other answer is complete, even if you put all of them together.

But aside from that, the book is a good, educational read. Especially for history buffs. πŸ™‚

Oh God

Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments...

Image via Wikipedia

β€œOh god that’s so funny!” Phrases like this, using the words β€œoh god” in a light and jocular fashion, are commonly seen and heard in normal conversation and in media.

β€œOh god…” Phrases like this one, using these words as an expression of horror, shock, terror, or awe, are also commonly encountered, especially in movies.

And in general at least, Christians decry these usages.

Why?

If you ask someone about it, they will point to the Ten Commandments, in particular the third one:

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

They will also often equate taking God’s name in vain with blasphemy. These two are not identical or interchangable, however. They are very closely related, but not equivalent. Blasphemy is only one way someone can take God’s name in vain.

Blasphemy attacks God. It is an action in the opposite direction of reverence God – it slanders Him.

Taking God’s name in vain is much broader than this, though. To take God’s name is not limited to merely taking it into your speech. It includes your life.

When someone claims to follow God, whether he says he is a Christian or not, he is taking God’s name upon him and his life. This is even more true of someone who claims to be a Christian. And if you claim the name of Christ in this way, and you then view or treat or speak of His person as if He is somehow light or ineffectual, then you are taking God’s name in vain. You aren’t blaspheming, not necessarily, but you are violating the third commandment.

God is. God’s name is His personhood, His attributes, His very being. Every part of His majesty, glory, power, love, and Godhood is in His name.

Thus to reject His ability to change and transform your life and His promises of reward and blessings for those who submit to Him is taking His name in vain. God is worth it. God is able.

And now, take a step back and think…

We are created in the image of God!

That means that we all bear the name of God in our nature – in our very bodies, whether we like it or not. And so anyone rejecting or neglecting Him is taking His name in vain.

But wait… can any of us truly and completely accept every part of God into our lives? That is the definition of perfection! And we cannot be perfect, so this command is impossible to obey!

Yes. It is.

Just like the first command is impossible. Just like every command that God gives us of this sort is impossible. We can’t do it.

But God can. And He does. And He will.

It will take all our lives, but we’ll get there. In heaven, at last, the work will be complete. And we will rest from sin and failure for eternity. Think about it!

Here on earth we strive towards that goal. We struggle, we fail, we yearn, we mourn, we falter, we continue, we fight. But through it all we are living and breathing obedience to this command: Take not the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

For it is our hope, our faith, and our love for God that keeps us going. It is our desire to fulfill these commands, and God counts that to us for righteousness… the fulfillment of those commands.

Isn’t that awesome?!

A lot more than a couple words dropped carelessly, isn’t it?

Every idle word that men let fall from their lips without thinking about it will be called into judgment, because those words come out of our hearts. God will not judge people because they used the words, but because they slighted Him.

So instead of throwing a fit about someone using two words, be saddened by the heart behind those words, and from your own heart, say the same, but with the truth of God behind it. When tragedy strikes, and you cry out, Oh God! When sorrow fills your heart, and you whisper, Oh God… When you look up at the glory of the heavens, and you sing out, Oh God! When you are full of joy and merriment, and you laugh, Oh God.

Mean it.

Duck! Zombie Attack!

Everything Unpacked

Image by mrbill via Flickr

Greetings,

I am not a conspiracy theorist.

I am not a doom-and-gloomer. (Not even sure how do define those guys either.)

Of course I believe the end of the world is coming (I mean, duh, it’s gotta end sometime).

But I don’t necessarily think it is coming soon (depending on what you mean by ‘soon’).

In any case I don’t think it really should change anything we do right now.

But I do believe that there are coming some serious changes in this world. From the Bible (not eschatology at all), and from history (tends to repeat itself), and from some common knowledge (yes I know, the kind that isn’t so common anymore). And I believe that before long, survival skills will be in high demand.
Seriously.

And even if they aren’t they are still useful to have. Just in case. They don’t hurt anything, and they help quite a bit, so why not?

Exactly.

Now I am going to shift gears a bit, and bring up my other thread that I am going to weave into this article: marriage.

Specifically, preparing for marriage.

Right, marriage is something you should prepare for. I hope you agree with that, ’cause it is pretty obvious. Even if you don’t prepare for anything else in life, you should prepare for marriage. Even if all you do is make sure you marry someone who does prepare. πŸ˜› (Just kidding, that would be kind of annoying. For the poor person who is always prepared.)

Now both of these subjects are about preparation. The one, for survival, the other, for marriage. They each require unique skills and equipment.

But what if you had to prepare for both?

Imagine that you are Noah, or Noah’s wife: what would you make sure to learn and teach yourself for the life after the flood? What would you make sure you bring on board the ark (other than the animals and food)?

Imagine that you are a pioneer, or a pioneer’s wife, and ask the same questions: what would you bring to survive on the barren prairies, what would you learn to help you support yourself (and your family) in the starting of a new habitation?

Imagine that you are going off into the wilds of the world to start a new nation, or that you are going to marry someone who is going to do that: what would you teach yourself, how would you prepare?

I believe those are questions we should all be asking ourselves. Of course, if you absolutely refuse to ask these questions of yourself because of whatever reasons, I won’t try to convince you to. For once, this has absolutely nothing to do with what is right or wrong: this is just some things to think about if you want to. I think you won’t regret it if you do, but that is just my advice.

So how would you go about resetting your thinking in this way? We are very reliant on things around us that are just provided and accepted no questions asked. We never actually think about how much we use stuff that just wouldn’t be there anymore in the above situations. Of course we want to prepare for all the normal humdrum stuff like how to get along with someone of the opposite sex, how to raise babies, how to do all that stuff, haha. But what about the things we don’t think about all that often?

So sit down and make a list of everything you do in a day (or a week or a month or a year, depending on what you want to list), and then look at what all needed to be there for you to do it, and so on. This is a great thankfulness exercise too, by the way. πŸ˜‰

You make meals. Alright, 1) where did the fixings come from and 2) what did you use to prepare it with?

Hmm… will those cans be there (even hard core make-it-from-scratch people like us use some stuff in cans)? Alright, so where would you get that stuff in lieu of cans?

A microwave? What luxury! Now try going without it… now what?

What about laundry or washing dishes? Can you do either of those by hand? Do you know how to make washcloths and soap? Do you know how to get by with limited amounts of water?

What about fixing things? What if you were the one who had to fix all the plumbing (assuming you have that)? What about the vehicle? What about …

What if you had to birth your own child? All. By. Yourselves.

Reading old books helps. πŸ˜‰

Now think about this: what are all the possible bad things that could happen to you or your family? Earthquakes, robbery, murders, tornadoes, terrorists, war, illness, etc., stuff like that. Now list what is preventing them from happening, and what is in place to help fix and take care of things if they happen anyways? What if you had to do all that yourself?

Get a gun, learn how to use it. Learn first aid (like how to keep someone from dying who just got his leg chopped off, handy stuff like that). Learn how to defend yourself without weapons (aka Gracie Jiu Jitsu). Learn all that stuff.

Girls, what would you put into your hope chest if you knew that after you got married, you would be on your own with your husband and family, fighting against starvation and bandits? Interesting question, eh?

And just for good measure, throw in some silver bullets for the zombie werewolves. Just in case.

This is a very freestyle list, just something to get you all thinking. I would seriously love to hear what you all would like to add to it, and all your ideas about what would be good to include. We can help each other, haha. So comment away! πŸ™‚

A Defense of Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Da...

Image via Wikipedia

Well, this was supposed to be written and posted last week’s Monday, but things happened and it didn’t get done. So we can all pretend like this is last week, alright?

I watched the Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie with my mom and the other two of the 3Literati (Patrick and Juliet: we are the oldest three siblings). I went with this mindset: this is a movie, not a book. Thus, it isn’t the same as the Voyage of the Dawn Treader book, never will be, and shouldn’t be. So I sat back for a good movie.

And was utterly blown away by how similar it was to the book, and by how much biblical morals they were able to include from the original book. In fact, from what I have seen from the reactions of different people, a lot of people have actually missed a lot of the lessons in the books that were brought out in the movie.

I find that a lot of people complain mostly about the plot changes from the book. A few people complain about the plot itself (i.e., the mist was clichΓ©, and etc.), but there always will be that small group of people who say that about practically every piece of media that is ever created. And besides, those kinds of things are more matters of opinion than anything else (I, personally, thought the plot was brilliantly done). So I will focus in the first part of this review on the changes of the plot from the book, and in the second part on the content itself as a movie for Christians to watch.

In the old days, people published books. And they way they went about it was quite different from the way they do it now. And the interests of the people who read books back then were possibly even more different. Actually, most likely more different. And so different things got published.

In fact, if you tried to publish practically any of the old classics now… it just wouldn’t happen. And even if you did, veeery few people would actually read it. The whole style and expected content was different. The way you structure plot, the way you developed characters, the way you set up scenes, the way you described things, the stuff you included, everything was different. Nowadays, books are a lot more like movies in a lot of ways. Now, I am not saying that either way is bad: in fact both are perfectly legitimate ways of writing books, and I enjoy both styles.

However.

The old way of doing book writing simply does not work nowadays, especially on screen. And if you put over a hundred million dollars into producing something, which is required for epic movies to be done well (though that price is lowering), you want to get something out of it. You need to rely on selling to a powerful enough market to support your venture.

So in the process of making an old book into a new movie, changes will have to be made simply to make it vendible. This is not a bad thing. This is actually a good thing. Sure, eventually, prices will lower and people will be buying movies like they buy ebooks (by the gross), and then you will be able to get away with more stuff and sell to niche markets, and that will also be a good thing. But at the moment, you can’t rely on the tiny portion of the world who actually is watching the movie because they read the books and who also actually want the movie to be exactly like the book.

It doesn’t need to be exactly like the book. It shouldn’t be exactly like the book. And with a book like Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which is a prime example of old-style structure, changes have to be made to make it able to be made into a movie. No changes, no movie. Pretty simple.

And if you think about the changes that they actually made… they were pretty small.

* listens to the shouts of consternation and gasps of unbelief *

Right. You heard me right. πŸ˜€

They weren’t all that big. Think about it, what did you expect? That they would drop an island or two (they dropped only one, unless you count Felimath and Doorn), and that they would merge others (which they did). They did this quite masterfully, and retained a ton of detail from the book.

What else would you expect for them to change? I expected them to add a more obvious plot arc that tied everything together: the book was very episodic in nature. And they did. And they did a great job of it too, tying together the events from the book by their common elements and elaborating on those. They also added on several bits of plot without removing any of the original. And in the case of the morals, they actually made the original morals much easier to see (judging by how many people missed them completely).

No, I am not giving any spoilers, haha, in case you haven’t watched it yet. But my advice to you is this: watch the movie as a movie, without expecting it to copy everything exactly from the book. And then you will absolutely love it. Especially the ending.

Now for the content. This should be pretty simple: it was great. πŸ˜€

For an epic fantasy, in which there is generally somewhere some kind of immodesty in the female portion of the cast, it was incredibly perfect. There was no immodesty at all, which is awesome. As far as language, it was clean: no words you wouldn’t want to repeat. Gore was innocuous (non-existent in the cases of humans, and vanishing into green smoke in the cases of monsters). And in truth, the book was more ‘gory’ than the movie, especially when Eustace had to be un-dragoned. The movie handles this absolutely splendidly.

There was only one element that I would advise caution for younger viewers on: the sea serpent is pretty intense and… freaky. Totally freaky. Awesomely sends-chills-down-your-spine kind of freaky. I loved it to pieces, personally, but little members of the audience might have to close their eyes a bit. πŸ˜‰

If you have questions about specific pieces of the plot, asking for justifications for changes they made, I would be more than willing to answer with my views on the matter. I wanted to keep this spoiler-free, but I will lift that ban on the comments section. πŸ™‚

So have at it. On guard.

Review: A Star Curiously Singing

A Star Curiously Singing by Kerry Nietz

A Star Curiously Singing by Kerry Nietz

I am a guy that loves background. I love culture, I love language, I love it when an author takes a background premise, and works it out completely, considering each and every variable and permutation in the culture. I love it when I am taken out of my world and thrust into a completely different environment complete with a separate mindset and way of thinking that I have to wrap my mind around.

Of course, not everyone can pull that off. There are two skills that are required to do this, having just one is rare, and having both almost never happens.

The first skill is the creation of a consistent, deep world to immerse the reader in. This requires a mind that can think about our own world from the perspective of a non-resident: someone who can actually self-examine his deepest mindsets and presuppositions, and then experiment by changing them. To create a truly immersive culture, you have to create a complete experience: you have to not only engage all the senses, but also every facet of culture itself. In religion, in philosophy, in tradition, in castes, in work, in play: every little piece that makes up a fully dimensional culture, you have to have in place.

The second skill is the actual immersion of the reader in a way that makes them not only enjoy the experience of being in the new environment, but also enjoy the transition. To be jerked out of everything you hold as solid, and inserted violently into a completely foreign environment might make a cool roller-coaster ride, but it won’t make you many friends (except among hard-core weirdos who do that for kicks, of which number I am definitely one). The skill required to carefully and softly sneak a reader into a new way of thinking, into a new environment without them noticing the transition, is something that is almost impossible to achieve.

A Star Curiously Singing comes very very close. There is a tangible culture shock (which I thoroughly enjoyed), but it wasn’t so much that would throw non-weirdos off. You are immediately engaged and tied to the main character, and the curiosity about the world itself is practically a hook in itself. The deeper you go into the book the deeper the immersion becomes: it never really stops. I love it.

Kerry Nietz weaves a masterful story about a deep character in an intricate world with a powerful plot.

And I can’t wait to get the third book in the series. πŸ™‚