Losing Paper

I have this “certification”.

While doing the long overdue job of sorting through my over abundance of books the other day a question occurred to me: how often do we use paper anymore?

I mean obviously we use some. Toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, paper dishes etc. The wood fiber industry is in no danger of failing anytime soon!

But how often do we refer to paper for information? On my shelves I have at least a dozen and a half books about “how to do this” or “how to do that”, many of which I have never picked up, even if I had done projects in related areas. Several of these books ended up in my giveaway pile.

Even books of photography or art or fiction are hardly picked up anymore.

The reason for all of this is obvious. The internet has pretty much everything we need. Millennials have nearly given up on paper. They are often accused of being know-it-alls (isn’t every generation?) just because they feel quite confident that they can find answers to every question just a few clicks away. This is the first generation in history in which nearly everyone has virtually immediate access to vast quantities of data and information.

I remember the days when the internet was considered the last place to go for information. Every page was suspect, and if you couldn’t back up the fact with a book, you had better not put it in your research paper. Now, even the Bible is on an app or website. I’m certain I don’t have to fact check that one.

I greatly appreciate having the Bible in an app. It’s easy to find verses by keyword or topic, and I can even click the word to find out the original Hebrew or Greek words. How many paper books would I have to refer to to find that info?

These days I now carry a bigger library of fiction and textbooks in my pocket than many of my ancestors had in their entire house. And with internet access I have the ability to find any number of recipes, how-tos, and hints and tips. There is no need anymore to occupy large quantities of space with tomes of outdated information.

This easy access to billions (trillions? more?) of bits of data can be overwhelming. There are things that are much simpler to do with old fashioned paper or a few phone calls or face to face meetings. Like car repair. Type in any symptom of car trouble into Google and you will likely find at least fifteen different diagnoses with at least seven different fights going on in forums about what the proper repair is. While I have learned nearly all of my mechanical knowledge from YouTube and forums I must say there is nothing quite like the Haynes Manual when you just need to know something simple.

I was nice enough to buy this for my wife. She’s kinda into car repairing. She’s awesome.

They offer online access to these manuals, but for the same price you can have a real object in your hand, available even in the iffy phone service of southeast New Mexico. And unlike online versions your subscription will not expire and the site will never shut down.

What else do I want in paper? Well, the owner’s manual for one. Do you know how hard it is to look up fluid capacities and recommend oil types on a tiny little screen? Fortunately most cars still come with those.

And magazines. There is something great about being able to pick up some colorful and quick knowledge while sitting in a doctors office or car mechanic’s shop (because YouTube failed to mention that one step). It makes you look less stuck up to be flipping through a magazine than it does to have your nose buried in your phone.

Kids books also. My kids stare at enough screens all day, they need something tactile that doesn’t make random noises and overstimulating flashes. A child reading a book is a classic image that should continue to be ingrained into our collective psyche.

Children
Thanks Google. Try to find a picture like this in a book that quickly, I dare you!

What do I want to stop seeing on paper? Bank statements (usually a week behind), letters stating “disregard if you have already addressed this matter” (yep, three days ago, thanks to web alerts), and pretty much any bill that I have already set up online bill-pay for. All the nonsense that comes into my house and makes me think “oh this is important, they took the time and money to print it out” can go as well.

Books are not ever going to disappear, there will always be some nostalgic souls out there who just want to hold one in their hand. Or people who enjoy searching through page after page for the (probably outdated) answer to one question.

My prediction is that books are going to be the vinyl album of the next generation. “Oh wow, did you see they put that out in book?! We should totes get one to sit on our shelf. That would look swell!”

The word “swell” will also make a come back. Oh, I hope not…

 

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Music and arts Monday February 13 2017

It’s been a really busy week for me so this is going to be a bit short. 

This week’s musical recommendation is Chumbawamba’s English Rebel Songs 1381-1984. Back before they were known for Tubthumper they put out a full album of English folk/protest songs. I realize that an anarcho-capitalist like me shouldn’t be listening to anarcho-communist folk songs but I still like the tone of most of them. The musical quality is great, even if the lyrics are a bit propagandizing. If only there were an anarcho-capitalist folk group out there that could write as well as the Socialists. On day perhaps, but for now, check this one out. 

Tom Wesselmann – Country Bouquet with Blue 1991

I don’t have an art reco this week, except to point you at Gandalf’s Gallery over on Flickr. Most of my exposure to different art styles has come from there.  It’s a whole art museum you can view from the comfort of your own home!

 

Superficiality, Narcissism, Christianity, and the Internet 

We ought to be neighbors to sinners, on and off the Internet. This requires us to put away pride and anonymity and act like non-narcissistic adults. Calling people names you would never call them to their face or mocking their appearance is not just cruel, it’s childish. Calling people heretics over non-essentials just makes you look like a Pharisee.

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I’mma write this post, but first: a selfie.

Living on a mountain for six months can teach you some things. Namely the fact that much of what folks do in “the real world” is just superficial silliness designed to make their lives seem better than they are. That sounds like the beginning of something preachy, doesn’t it? Well, I hope this doesn’t come across as such.

We grew up in Northern Virginia, just outside of the Beltway, right in the seat of the country’s money and power. This area always has something new and flashy, and since my high school days the expansion of government has only brought more wealth and change to the area.

I actually never noticed how nice people dress here until I moved to Florida. I really didn’t notice it until I came back from out west.

Probably the most noticeable place where this clothing shows up is in church. People around here seem to dress up everywhere, but church is especially primped and proper. When we walk in with our rag tag bunch of hoodlums we feel like the conspicuous ones, despite the fact that we are actually quite drab.

All of this to say I don’t understand why women (and men for that matter) spend hours of their lives every day (especially Sundays) primping and decorating themselves. Do they do this to impress God? God’s not impressed with these displays. Do they do it strictly for themselves? Maybe. I honestly think they do it to impress others and draw attention to themselves, even (and especially) at church.

We are all narcissistic at heart. Every one of us wants our ego stroked. We will go to great lengths to entice a compliment out of someone. It’s not just in our physical worlds that we seek to feed this engorged ego, social media provides an excellent platform to do this. Not only can we enlarge our own status online, we can crush others mercilessly and hide behind anonymity at the keyboard.

Why do you think I blog? Yes, I do want to spread ideas and make people think. Yeah, I want a place to fully explore and write out my thoughts and maybe solicit ideas from others. But mostly, I just want stats. I want to know people agree with me and read what I write with regularity.

I doubt I am that alone in checking my Facebook notifications every ten minutes to see what new “likes” are on my posts (not many). It is actually somewhat shameful really. Sometimes I feel like a drug addict just trying to get my fix.

I try my hardest not to tear others down to build my own social media reputation. I can’t say the same about many of the Christians I see on Facebook. Much of what passes for “help” or “advice” on the pages I am in are really just veiled statements of judgement. If you feel differently from the majority you are quickly called “unwise” or worse, a heretic. If you actually agree with some of the points made by unnaproved people you are shamed into keeping silent by the mocking heaped on them by their enemies.

There seems to be no one one attacking ideas in the narcissistic mess called social media. There is only mocking people and reducing them to memes and caricatures. All feminists are evil. All homosexuals are crazed lunatics. All BLM folks are jerks. Everything they stand for is evil. Therefore we can mock them and belittle them as people.

This is hardly a Christ-like way of handling people. Christ did not mock every single sinner He dealt with. When He did mock it was often with pointed questions, not personal attacks. This is not to say we are ever wrong for calling people a brood of vipers when necessary, but more often than not our usage of strong words is intended to boost our own image, not to improve the lives and hearts of others.

We ought to be neighbors to sinners, on and off the Internet. This requires us to put away pride and anonymity and act like non-narcissistic adults. Calling people names you would never call them to their face or mocking their appearance is not just cruel, it’s childish. Calling people heretics over non-essentials just makes you look like a Pharisee.

I may be beating a dead horse with this, but can we start debating ideas instead of superficial things like how someone looks or what “abnormal” things they may enjoy in their spare time? I dare say the Internet would be a much more productive place.

Modesty: An Unconventional Take

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Appearance can be accurate in its description, or it can be a lie. One of the most obvious and immediate aspects of our appearance is our clothing. What we wear or do not wear says a lot about us to those we meet. Clothing, makeup, and hygiene can accentuate one’s character, or they can grossly distort it.

In 1Timothy 2:9-10 Paul says,

“I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”

There are innumerable blogs out there telling women what they can and cannot wear “biblically” . Nearly all of these blogs are concerned primarily with the sexual signals a woman’s clothing conveys. If she uncovers too much, or shows too much shape, or uncovers the wrong part, it is assumed she is giving notice to men about her sexual availability.

The dress-code writers often use the word “modest” to describe a woman “properly” covered up. However, “modesty” in these verses has little if anything to do with sexuality.

“Modesty” in these verses is concerned with the outward expression of the inward condition of the heart. That is a mouthful but it essentially means one can be modest wearing anything or nothing or anything in between. Despite what the Christian sub-culture in the West has decided to call “modest”, there is not a spelled out dress code in scripture. The closest we can find are explicit dress requirements given to OT priests, but those are commonly understood to be ceremonial in nature and applied to the priests, not necessarily to the lay people and most certainly not to those in the New Testament.

Christians should be willing to dress according to who we are reaching. Christians should be “all things to all people” meaning that we should dress down for the poor, dress up for the rich, and overall dress according to the culture one is preaching to. If we adopt the clothing (and manners for that matter) of the culture we are evangelizing, it projects a loving attitude towards those we are hoping to reach with the Gospel. If we choose to ignore their culture it can display to them a lack of charity and love. We should not change our character or violate our personal consciences or Scriptural commands, but we are allowed to conform to the acceptable outward appearance and customs of other cultures to reach them (Timothy and circumcision).

Modesty and decency differs according to culture, where nudity or near-nudity is the norm both are “modest”. In a culture where it would be considered improper to expose a head or a thigh, it would be immodest and indecent to do so.

Does that mean we go naked to reach the naked? Isaiah went naked to make his point. Other prophets did so as well. It would not necessarily be wrong to do so. Is it required or recommended? No. We should only expose what our conscience allows.

In a less dressed culture, one should be willing to dress down as far as they feel comfortable in their own conscience, and in a more dressed culture one should be willing to dress up as much as they need to in order to prevent offense. If the culture you are reaching insists on head coverings and long sleeves, we should have no reservations about adopting both, no matter what our personal liberty allows.

What about make-up, jewelry, and shaving for women? In the 1 Timothy passage above, Paul specifically mentions hair and jewelry and seems to imply that women should have none of it.

Right or wrong, our culture values the appearance of “put togetherness”. Many women shave and wear makeup to feel “put together”. Many women will not leave the house without doing either. Culture has convinced them that to neglect either one is at worst a sign of rebellion against the good order of society,  or at best an overt expression of slovenliness.

In our culture, when one neglects certain hygiene practices, such as shaving, it conveys a message of looseness and slobbishness. There is no doubt a double standard in this for males and females. Culture requires women to put a lot more thought into their appearance than men. I believe this has much to do with our over-sexualization of the (primarily female) body. Much of the “modesty” subculture actually increases the objectification of women by hyper-focusing on the sexual and nearly ignoring any other application of the word.

The male body is not nearly as critiqued as the female body. Men can get away with athletic wear or pajama pants where women are critiqued for it. Men can gain a beer belly and it is barely noticed. Men can also uncover more of their bodies and be socially acceptable.

Is it a lie for a woman to wear make-up or jewelry or to shave her body hair? Does it promote a false witness to others about who we really are? Again, as I said before, our outward appearance is an expression of the inward heart. If a woman feels beautiful inside I see nothing wrong with her expressing that beauty on the outside with the use of nice clothes, jewelry, or make up. The outward expression of her inward self can take many forms.

What does this say about the woman who does not do such things? It can tell us any number of things. Either she feels ugly and unkempt on the inside, or she feels that the normal cultural expressions of outward “beauty” are contrived and she can better demonstrate her inward condition through her smile or through her words or acts of kindness.

Sadly, because of feminism, many Christians would try to label her as a rebel against God. They assume she’s trying to push back against gender norms and trying to be male.

Maybe she is just a rebel against a godless culture which objectifies and over-emphasizes youth and sexuality in the female appearance.

Am I saying that all women who do such things are objectifying and over-emphasizing youth and sexuality in the female appearance? Not at all. They just value and prefer the culture’s preference for “put-togetherness” and do not want to give a false impression to others who may think by their appearance that they are internally wretched. They are presenting themselves externally to the world according to what they believe they are internally.

Many of us cover and hide our natural appearance with clothing and our scent with deodorant or perfume. Is this a lie? Or is it simply deference to culture? The culture should hate us for the Gospel, not for what we do or do not wear.

In 1 Timothy,  Paul was writing to culture filled with pagan practice. Hairstyles and jewelry worn by the temple priestesses had no place in the Christian church. We ought to be careful to make sure our church clothing honors God and does not cause others to stumble back into their pagan roots. We ought also to project an appearance of humility in church. We do not want to offend the poor by showing off our wealth, nor do we want to draw attention to ourselves at the expense of the Worship of God.

We ought to be modest in more than simply clothing or adornment, we ought to be modest in our attitudes and treatment of others. Our clothing should reflect our inward person and project a love towards others that cannot be rightly opposed. Our appearance can be accurate in its description, or it can be a lie.

Be careful not to distort reality with your appearance.

Music and Art Monday: January 30

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After The Bath (Acrylic on Paper). My very first painting, and probably my best.

Welcome to “Music and Art Monday”, the posts where I distract myself from heavy and/or dull topics and write something actually interesting. 

In these posts I hope to focus on one band or painter a week and tell you a bit about what I like about them.

This week I’ll discuss a bit of my background with music and next week with art.

Music has always been playing in the background of my life. Growing up my parents always had music on in the car or at home. There was rock (Elvis to be precise), the Statler Brothers, New Orleans jazz, soul, 80’s country (Oak Ridge Boys etc), the Monkeys, Herman’s Hermits, and other oldies. The first concert I remember attending was a country concert though I could not tell you who.

When I got my first tiny transistor radio at five or six years of age I kept it tuned to the local oldies station every time I was in my bedroom. I gained a great love for Motown and Mersey Beat bands. Pretty much any pop song from the 50’s to the early 70’s could be heard in my room at that time. 

When I wasn’t listening to my own radio I was listening to whatever my siblings had on. 80’s hair bands like Def Leppard, Metallica, and Bon Jovi, pop stuff like New Kids on The Block, and early pop rap like M. C. Hammer and Vanilla Ice were always on.  All the 90’s music phases went through our house. This was back when MTV played actual music, and along with most of the songs I have a pretty clear memory of most of the videos. 

At some point in the decade, my sister got really into hippie music, with a huge emphasis on The Beatles, Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane. 

Around the age of 12, I got really philosophical and started listening to Jewel and Bob Dylan because: poetry. I bought my first two cds around that age, “Beatles For Sale” and Jewel’s “Pieces of You”. Chumbawumba’s “Tubthumper” was the third. I played each one until the laser burned holes in them (not really, but I am sure my parents had quite enough of “You Will Save Your Soul). 

I amassed quite a collection of vinyl in my early teen years. Cheap thrift store selections meant that nothing was off limits. Stemming from my love of Jewelry and Dylan, much of what I bought at the time was folk. My friend dragged me to a John Prine concert and afterwards I had to buy every album I could find of his. 

Around the time I discovered girls I was introduced to David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and Alice Cooper. I’d listen to just about anything to impress girls, those three actually stuck. 

Most of high school was spent listening to Cake, Led Zeppelin, and David Bowie ad nauseum at my friend’s house. There are innumerable singles that also have a special place in my heart from that time. 

In college I discovered free sampler CDs at the local record store and just like my earlier experience with thrift store vinyl everything from rock to pop to rap and folk were blasting through my ears for those four years. 

Ever since then, my musical tastes are all over the place. From all of these roots I have not found a genre that I did not like at least something from. Thanks to Weird Al I can even add polka to that list. Hopefully this broad interest will keep me supplied with many posts in the future. Maybe I can even get some of you to listen to the more obscure bands that only I seem to listen to.

Then I won’t feel so weird.

Please be… Part 2

So many homemaker blogs tell wives that their job is to make their husbands feel respected, loved, and like he is the master of the home. They urge wives not to make him uncomfortable or expect much out of him since his life at work is so hard and stressful. They push a wife to stroke her husband’s ego. They care more about his feelings than his soul or his performance as a husband or father. This is the stuff that bugs me.

(I am not a fan of the crassness of the original post, and the use in my first post was just to make a point,  so I will refrain from it in this post since the point has been made. For part one click here: 

https://driptorchpress.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/please-be-a-butthole-wife/

Before I get a bunch of husbands mad at me, I do not advocate anyone be a jerk to anyone. I do not advise wives to rudely nag their husbands or husbands to nitpick their wives about burning dinner or not taking care of the dishes. 

The point I was trying to make is this: submission does not equal silence for either the wife of the believer or the wife of the non-believer. 

The believers wife is primarily a tool of sanctification in her husband’s life. She is iron on iron for him. She is a sister in Christ and as such she is a loving voice of correction to her brother. She is to be a gracious lover and a patient partner. If her husband is sinning it is her task to help him see it and kill it. 

I am a finite creature. I am unable to see all the sins that play in my life, I need my wife to show me my blind spots. It would be tremendously unloving for her to let me continue in my sin. 

Yes, it will be painful for a wife to confront her husband in his sin. It might hurt his feelings. I don’t think it’s painless when the elders of the church come to someone and call them out either, but it is their duty as brothers in Christ to do so.  

A lot of articles talk about being Christ to our spouse. But these articles typically only focus on “Jesus meek and mild”. Jesus is not a one dimensional character. He knew when to be gentle and He knew when to flip a table or two. He used gentle rebukes and He called people vipers. Christ exhibited incredible wisdom and discernment for us. We should learn to be like Him. For the sake of our spouse’s soul we should learn how to properly and lovingly rebuke sin. 

The role of the non-believers wife is one of a quiet sign pointing to the Gospel. Notice I said “quiet”, not “silent”. The Gospel is not sweet unless the Law is bitter, the husband of a silent woman is not going to taste the sweetness of the Gospel unless he knows there are boundaries that he has crossed. 

If she never sets up boundaries or expectations (which is what a lot of Christian marriage sites imply) he will never know he has sinned against her. Picture this: the non-believer husband goes to work and all of his coworkers are talking about their nagging wives (yes. This does happen . Shocking,  I know. ) Will he think to himself “Wow, my wife is great. She graciously takes care of everything, there must be something to  that Jesus she follows” or will he think “wow, my wife is a pushover, I have it made. I am awesome, these guys are losers.”?  Knowing the men I do it’s typically the second. 

Now, assume she doesn’t silently pick up after him and let him get away with being a slob day in and day out. Assume she sets up boundaries and asks him graciously to help her manage the household by doing little things like putting his laundry in the hamper. He knows “the law” so to speak. 

When he violates this “law” , she graciously forgives him and picks up after him. Now, his response to his coworkers is going to be “Wow, my wife is great, she is not a nag. I fail all the time to meet her needs and do the right thing, but she graciously forgives me and never speaks to me in anger about my failures. I wonder if it has something to do with that gospel she is always talking about.”

I hate to say it but the seeker-sensitive church culture has infiltrated marriage. The seeker-sensitive church doesn’t bring up sin. It doesn’t call anyone to repentance. It never challenges a soul with the Law of God before presenting the Grace of the Gospel. The seeker-sensitive church says “God loves you and has a plan for your life” and leaves it at that. Now that may fill up cushioned chairs (seeker-sensitive churches are also buttock sensitive, no pews there) and it may fill up the church coffers, but it is not winning souls or making converts. No one repents when they feel good about themselves. 

So many homemaker blogs tell wives that their job is to make their husbands feel respected, loved, and like he is the master of the home. They urge wives not to make him uncomfortable or expect much out of him since his life at work is so hard and stressful. They push a wife to stroke her husband’s ego. They care more about his feelings than his soul or his performance as a husband or father. This is the stuff that bugs me. 

I’m not saying “be a b hole and nag your husband about every wrong thing he does.” I’m saying establish boundaries and expectations and then graciously love him when he fails. 

Wives of believers: Don’t be a silent wife, speak up when your husband sins. Approach him with respect but boldness, be discerning with your words. 

Wives of non-believers: Win your unbelieving husband with your gracious forgiveness and unconditional love. Speak the Gospel with your actions and manners. 

Don’t be a *jerk.