I am a follower of Christ, a "Christian," a believer in the One true God, named in the Old Testament with the letters YHWH. The Father who's only begotten, not made, son Jesus died and whose blood cleanses the sin of all who call on him for forgiveness, and the Spirit who himself calls for repentance and fills the believer with light and understanding.
I have spoken to a number of Jehovah's Witnesses (JW's) and have found a number of characteristics which they, apart from the majority of the population, have.
They use certain words that others never use. The greatest example of which is the term "do obeiscence." They use this term to keep Jesus from being worshiped as God. No one uses this term. No one but JW's. This is how you can spot them a mile away. In the post below, you can see an email sent to me under the auspices that the person who wrote the book mentioned therein was not a JW. I almost laughed out loud. JW's are so disconnected with the rest of society that they can't discern their own writings and beliefs from those of others, and any attempt by them to use the "Reductio ad Absurdum" argument suffers for it. JW's are not allowed to read materials not explicitly published or OK'd by the Watchtower people. So all the materials they read say the same thing, and they believe it because that's what they are told. I have to admit, they have very good memories, but they have nothing new or fresh. And I know this to be true. Their arguments go the same direction every time, and I know this to be true, because I have had plenty of arguments with them. They have nothing new because they don't have the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but I'll talk more about that later.
I am a studier Christian Apologetics, because first of all, we don't all have to agree on every tiny point. There are differing points of view on minor subjects, and that's OK. There are unlimited numbers of arguments in Christian Apologetics and they change daily because of a changing world and philosophical marketplace, and they can compete in the philosophical marketplace and they always have. But the truth at the center remains the same. Because Christianity is about a set of ideas that are really true to paraphrase J.P. Moreland. I also study Christian Apologetics because I believe the the historic Christian faith can be defended and championed because it is true objectively.
It also is my belief that life should be fun, love of God should be wonderful, life should be about enjoying the LORD, and making him known. Living in his grace and growing in his love is the way of life for a Christian. Fun, because God invented fun. I can say from personal experience that missions work is fun. I do not see much fun in the lives of Jehovah's Witnesses.
I have heard that many JW's will never led anyone to their faith. That is not fun. Spending a lifetime of proselytizing on a daily or weekly basis and seeing no result is not fun. And I know why it happens. JW's do not believe in the person of the Holy Spirit. How can the Spirit lead someone to repentance in Jesus Christ if there is no Spirit? Thats why true JW's number well less than 10,000,000 in the entire world while other Christians number around 2,000,000,000. Now I am not saying that all those are true believers, but there is a point there.
On the subject of fun, I enjoy listening to good contemporary Christian and Gospel music. I don't know of any Contemporary JW musicians. Point made.
I also love good philosophical conversation. I know of no well known or even not so well known JW philosophers, while I know of tons of Christian philosophers and thinkers.
I even love celebrating holidays, even if what I am celebrating did not actually take place on that date. Take Christmas, Jesus was born on the Day of Atonement in September, but he was still born, and if everyone else celebrates his birth in December, I'm ok with that. I also enjoy having a birthday every year, and celebrating with others when they have a birthday. I enjoy Valentine's Day which is also my wife's birthday, and named after a Roman Catholic saint. But I am ok with that because it is a chance to celebrate love, and love is good. I enjoy Independence Day, because it signifies the founding of a country where I am free to have all these opinions. I enjoy Mother's and Father's Day, as well as Labor Day, and Presidents Day, and New Years, and even Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Name one JW holiday. Point.
I would also be glad to accept the gift of life of someone else's blood or body tissue, not only to save my life, but to add credit to their spiritual account for saving my life. Jesus said that no one has greater love than someone who lays down their life for a friend.
I read a story written by a man who used to be a Jehovah's Witness, and decided to leave the church. The problem was, his coworkers at work were also JW's. They effectively kept him from being promoted, or even to perform his job to the best of his ability. He eventually had to quit. A true Christian would never do something like that. Former believers are of all people to be pitied and loved, not tortured.
Let's explore the concept of Hell. In the JW view, believers spend eternity on earth while Jehovah, Jesus, and the 144,000 (filled up in the 1930's by the way) rule in Heaven. There is also no hell. People are just blinked out of existence, end of show, as if they had never existed. In my view, heaven comes to earth and believers get to spend eternity with the risen Christ as the faithful bride and Church. Hell is a place of eternal conscious torment that Jesus himself spoke endlessly about with the strongest of warnings. I don't know about you, but I think there is much more to be both gained and lost in my view and the orthodox Christian view. JW Salvation and damnation is kinda "eh."
And the final reason why I am not a Jehovah's Witness is this. Jesus. Jesus is life and love. Jesus, my creator, died for me of his own free will. You see if Jesus was created himself, it means that the Father in his omnipotent way would have known that Jesus would have to die. He would have therefore been created to die, only to be recreated after death by the Father in the JW view. This is no savior, he'd be a pawn, maybe a rook. If God created somebody named Bob to die for my sins, it would mean nothing. But if the Father, the Son, and the Spirit have existed in perfect union and love from eternity past, then none was created by, for, or to do, anything, and they'd be free to create and love and to die for what they willed. That is the meaning of a true sacrifice.
And that my friends is a reason for the hope that I have, and it is a real hope.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
A friend forwarded this to me and I thought it was interesting. Apparently a non-witness, secular scholar of ancient greek did a comparison of 9 different popular Bible translations to see which was most true to the original text and the least flavored by existing beliefs. It seems a book was written comparing these in depth. What I find surprising is that the results of the test became an answer on the TV quiz show . I would have loved to see that episode. What do you think about this? Would you like a copy of the The New World Translation?
- The King James Version (KJV)
- The Amplified Bible (AB)
- The Living Bible (LB)
- The New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
The question is, how much democracy can you afford?
We seem to think democracies are the best form of government, but they have a very critical flaw as is shown in Kinzer's book. That is gullibility. My bet is that if Americans (me included) knew about all these US Sponsored regime changes in the past and how they failed, how we have never had a successful regime change, I think we'd resolve to stop doing it. But as Kinzer showed, all it takes is a simple little lie (they are godless savages, cannot govern themselves, etc.) to whip well meaning people into a frenzy of wanting to "help" when really, very few of those countries needed our "help." The help they (and all other third world countries) need is education.
Not related to the book, I have this opinion: We need do drop millions of tons of food, not bombs, books, not ideologies, and especially not politicians. America could be the wellspring of life, technology, and education for the rest of the world, but instead, most of us only care about money.
But seriously though, I'd suggest you read this book. It's a little left of center maybe, but that's ok, because it is moderate, and as I believe everything in moderation. The book starts out with the detailed story of how Hawaii lost its peaceful monarchy to money hungry banana barons. The book then continues on to recount in great detail the stories of nearly every overthrow in America's history. The list is quite staggering. Here are some of the countries where the United States has staged coups and regime changes: Hawaii, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Honduras, Iran, Afghanistan, Cuba, Chile, Vietnam again, Panama, Granada (a success by the way, though still crooked,) and finally, a little country who generally liked America, and still caved under pressure, but got invaded anyway, Iraq.
I was against invasion of Iraq from the beginning. I was also against Saddam Hussein for all the murders he caused, but I just don't think it's the Christian way to go invading other countries. Christians were never meant to be conquerors, or even kings. Christianity thrives in the most oppressive of countries, and always will. The fact remains that Iraq was a secular state. Not fundamentalist. Saddam had spent years getting rid of fundamentalists. But our president had it in his mind to invade Iraq long before 9/11, and the evidence followed the conclusions, not the other way around as is should be, and now lots of people are dead and the whole thing is a mess. Just like every other regime change.
The reason why I have focused on Iraq so much when the book only focuses one section on it is this: I am young, it's almost the only one I was an adult for. And I want to make it clear that I did not vote for Bush, I voted for not Kerry. That guy was a loop. He decided it for me when in the same sentence he affirmed his Catholic faith, he stated that he was pro fetal homicide. Now that's hypocracy.
Back to the book. It's a good book written by a guy who knows what he's talking about. I was floored, angered, saddened, and outraged by this book and I hope it brings out some of the same reactions in you.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Last season, I had started a compost pile with some leaves and small branches and things, but I never got hot until I added some grass clippings from my friend's lawn. I didn't have a bagging mower at the time, so I couldn't add clippings from my own lawn. Also last fall, I had layed out a bunch of shredded paper as mulch to kill off the sod in my back yard with the intention of starting a garden this year. Now that I am moving, I've begun pulling all that mulch up and stacking it on the compost pile, and it seems to warm up, but just a little.
As a side note, the soil over which the paper sat is so full of worms that you can't dig in it without a massacre. It's so soft and dark now where it was hard and dry before.
Last fall, I obtained a bagging mower and this year, I have used it to collect the grass clippings. I had some more shredded paper in the garage, so I decided to use it and the clippings to make a very hot compost pile. I also had a piece of wire fencing laying around, so I decided to use that to make a bin instead of just a regular pile.
I have discovered this works very well, especially when watered a little bit. The first time I mowed the lawn, the clippings and paper, alternately layered, filled it up to the top. Within a week, it was down to half full. I did a second batch, and piled it above the top, and now less than a week later, the first batch is down to 1/4 its original size, and the new batch is down to half its original size. To be honest, I also have used the pile to compost some sludge from my worm composter when it failed last winter (it got too cold, rotted, and most of the worms bailed, I'm keeping it warm from now on.) I also have been composting food scraps, and by coincidence, a dead squirrel. The temperatures created just a few inches under the surface are amazing. It is almost enough to burn me.
I started this little experiment as a result of reading "the Humanure Handbook" which I have reviewed below. I think it is important to know how to maintain a good hot compost pile to be able to compost anything you need to, including food, non vegetarian manure, and even dead bodies.
Will the cops look in a compost pile?
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Friday, April 13, 2007
This country (US) is the greatest consumer of energy on the planet. As supreme ruler, I'd make it our goal to be in second place, third would be even better.
Let's start with our existing power plants. Production of new fossil fuel burning power plants would cease immediately, and the production of wind power would need to be ramped up geometrically even though it is already there somewhat anyway. I'd speed up the decommissioning of older less efficient polluting plants and I'd tighten the pollution restrictions on current ones. I don't want heavy metals and acid rain floating around my constituent's atmosphere.
I wouldn't really want to add too many new hydro-electric dams or lakes because of land loss and environmental issues, but I'd mandate that all lakes be retrofitted with hydro electric capabilities. Sure, there are many lakes that are not large enough for significant production, but any lake that lets water out somewhere can be fitted with a generator to make power. I grew up down river from a lake built specifically for flood control and had no generator. This dam is well over a hundred feet tall, and millions of gallons of water rushed out of there every day. That to me is just wasted energy, like having the window open in the middle of winter. The more hydro-electric dams we have, the more we are able to allow wind power proliferation on the grid because hydro-electric power can be produced with seconds of demand and well compliments wind power.
There are currently a number of pumped storage facilities in the United States as well as elsewhere. A pumped storage facility is basically a reversible hydro-electric generator that can pump water back into a lake when there is an energy surplus. Wind power can at times produce a very large excess of energy that must be taken care of. A pumped storage facility can do this by acting like a very large battery. So, with this in mind, I'd order that all lakes that empty into other lakes be converted into pumped storage. For instance, in North West Arkansas, there is lake called Beaver Lake and it empties into other lakes down stream. These could be retrofitted to provide a pretty substantial pumped storage system that could provide backup for a future wind farm located in the class 4 wind areas of Western Arkansas.
And of wind farms, they'd be expanded obviously. I really like the offshore oil derrick style wind turbine platforms that are being proposed. They require no foundation and can be moved if necessary. We just need to figure out how to make ones big enough to support a high power turbine like the RePower 5M.
Now this plan to vastly increase RE generation is not strictly applied to utilities. I'd require all new construction to be capable of generating 2 times it's peak power demand via on site methods. For instance, if a building is capable of consuming 50,000 watts, it must include in construction 100,000 watts of peak power production capability via solar panels, wind turbines, and/or micro-hydro generators. Exceptions would include the following. If a building were built earth sheltered, that is underground, they'd only be required to provide for 100% of their peak usage and would not be required to do so on site, any other construction not able to meet the requirement on site would need to provide for 300% of their peak power consumption somewhere off site. All this is to relieve the strain on the utilities generating capacity. For instance, on a hot sunny day in the middle of summer, buildings with their AC on full should still be able to produce just a little bit of power to sell to the utility. This would also by far decrease the problems associated with power outages because companies and homes could easily choose to install a system with battery backup so they'd have power in case of an outage.
Now for a point of outrage among some conservatives, I'd end the production of incandescent light bulbs for general usage. I know, fluorescent bulbs have mercury in them, but the mercury saved by not burning coal does outweigh all the mercury that could be released if a fluorescent bulb is not recycled properly. Incandescent bulbs would only be allowed for special uses like heat lamps, where heat and light are required. Incandescent bulbs would also be removed from cars and replaced with LED's and LED's would receive much greater usage in the near future because in a few years when LED's have come along a bit more, I'd outlaw fluorescents.
A great idea my wife had was to make streetlights motion sensing, that way, they'd only be used when necessary, and using LED's, they'd save loads of publicly payed for power, freeing up that money to be used somewhere else. There are also some great ideas out there that use a vertical axis wind turbine and a small solar panel on streetlights making them their own power source.
These are just the first sweeping changes, I bet there'd be more, I may have to come back to this subject later.
What's wrong with this picture?
You see, back in the 60's (and a number of other years also) there was this guy named Hubbert. Hubbert made this nifty (prophetic) prediction that US oil would peak around 1970. He also predicted that world oil would peak around 2000. Can the man tell 'em or what?
As you can see in the graph on the right, most of the world's oil supplies peaked in the mid nineties with the total world supply fighting like heck not to peak right now. Some estimated it peaked back in the latter part of 2005 and is just hovering at the same production levels right now. What does this mean? It means that like Natural Gas, we are continuing to use a resource at an ever increasing level, while the resource itself is in ever decreasing supply. And that means: HIGHER PRICES.
So, what would I as the Supreme Leader of the United States of America do about this problem? (I know I will get tore several new ones for this) we must stop driving extremely wasteful vehicles. I would (effective in one year as usual) outlaw passenger vehicles that get less than 25 miles per gallon gasoline and 30 mpg diesel based on actual driving conditions. Individuals and companies wishing to obtain or to continue using large pickups and SUV's would file for a permit based on actual necessity of use. Motorcycles could not get less than 40 mpg.
Additionally, all internal combustion engine vehicles would be required to use only fully synthetic motor oils, gear oils, and greases. This would save gas mileage and allow cars to remain in service for a longer period of time while the economy adjusts to the severe shock.
As a result of all this, I believe that the gas prices would fall in short order, once supply ballooned above demand. However once my new emissions restrictions on oil wells and refining plants took effect, those prices could come back up a bit.
I would also (with props to the ZEV mandate of CARB) require all car companies to be selling 10% of thier total vehicles as electric vehicles in 5 years with 50% in 10 years (tractor trailers excluded, though they'd be required to come up with some hybrids that increased mileage by 20%.) I'd mandate that the company that owns the patents to the large format NiMH (here unamed) to allow it's use in fully electric vehicles with only a nominal fee.
I know these are some radical ideas, and even I cringe when I read what I've read, but this is a quick progression toward a sustainable society, and burning oil is not sustainable. Therefore, we must include greater numbers of fuel sources so that the sudden absence of one does not greatly affect the others. For instance, if we could simultaneously raise and lower the utilization of biodiesel and diesel fuel respectively till the 50/50 level is reached, then a healthy drop in the supply of either will be tempered by the other. This is the same reason electricity prices rise slower than fuels. There are myriad sources of electricity, but very few of fuels.
Wow, that hurt.
Next: Electricity reform.
I'll try to keep it to issues regarding sustainable living, renewable energy and the like, but I cannot guarantee that there won't be some politics in there as well. This is not an actual bid to become supreme dictator of anything, it merely highlights what I think the problems in our society are. And yes, some of these changes are huge and expensive, but sacrifices must be made to reach our goals. Unfortunately, sweeping changes no longer exist in this country, so here goes.
My first target as Supreme Leader of the United States of America is the waste disposal system of this country. Effective in one year would be the complete elimination of organic waste, metal, and glass from the trash system.
Here is the focus of a capitalist society: With me as the Supreme Leader, new markets would be born overnight, companies would have to do what is necessary to adjust their focus, market, and products.
I would launch a massive campaign to educate people about compost, and there would have to be massive new composting facilities that would have to jump up immediately. If we could teach people to compost their organic waste at home, (those who can) the excess needed to be processed could be limited. There are several cities like SF (I think) who have large composting facilities. Nova Scotia has a great organic material processing facilities as well.
Metals are the most recyclable materials that exist, and glass is also there on the list. So they will be separated from the waste stream at the consumer level and be picked up separately just like another trash can.
Paper will be disposed with the organic material since paper can be composted just like food. In fact, right now I am doing an experiment at home where I am composting grass clippings and using shredded paper as the carbon source. It creates some really hot compost, enough to burn you. At least I know those weed seeds will be dead.
Effective in two years, residential sewage lines will be decommissioned. People would need to get ahold of composting toilets, or figure out how to compost their waste using a sawdust toilet or other soon to be invented toilet technology. Incinerating toilets will not be allowed to exceed their current production levels because while they are sometimes necessary, they are almost 100% wasteful. Grey water will need to be treated in some manner on site or in local small treatment plants and used to water lawns and gardens. This will take an enormous burden off the public water supply saving money and energy. Also, removing human waste from the sewers will take an enormous burden off the sewage treatment plants which will keep more nutrients and pollutants out of our oceans and streams and water that otherwise could be purified into drinking water.
Composted organic waste will have to be disposed of, since there will be so much more of it (composted instead of wasted) than there was before, we cannot expect people just to buy all of it. But it could easily just be dumped on consenting farmer's farm land. It could be used to rehabilitate sections of land left unusable by strip mining, logging, or excessive erosion.
There would be more focus on mulching mowers to process yard waste, and composting bins and piles would be infinitely more common. Hopefully there would be more home gardens also, as ways to recycle nutrients.
Ok, so that's the first day's reforms.
And this is totally open to discussion, I welcome comments.
Next time, we discuss cars and gas mileage.
Your favorite Supreme Ruler,
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Pictured here is the third edition of the Humanure Handbook by Joseph Jenkins. I just finished reading it (not sure which version) online. Check the last post for the link. Click the pic for buying.
As you can see from the date and time on the last post which I posted sometime during the first or second chapter, it has not taken me long. I finished it this morning, and according to one guy, it can be read in 4 hours straight through. I didn't read it straight through, but I'd say it took about that long.
The book's subtitle is "a guide to composting human manure" and I'd say it's that and more. This you might call the real composting guide. Most books about composting or having a section on composting completely skip over the subject of human excrement, and most others look down on it with quite some disdain. Most composters recommend against composting a bunch of things, like kitchen grease, oils, fats, meat, pet poo, and dead animals, but Mr. Jenkins recommends and demonstrates composting all these things. His resulting compost is excellent, and his methods are tried and true for 20 years.
Now a word for you fecophobes. This book will trip you out. If disgusting things bother you, you will be bothered. If you are one of those people who likes to pretend you never crap, this book will mess you up. If you are an active minded person who wants to live sustainably, and believes that therein lies the solution for the future, this book will open your eyes.
The author begins by delineating the problems with today's waste processing systems. And believe me, there are alot of problems, and blindness to those problems. I believe this is beginning to be remedied with recycling programs that teach people that there is no such place as "away" or "out" where you can throw things. But the place that is still missing in people's minds is where "down the drain" ends up. Sure we see a sewage treatment plant now and again, and we catch a whiff o' that smell, but what really goes on there? Turds and stuff get turned into sludge and CO2, that's what.
Now if you are a global warming believer, this should just outrage you, because sewage treatment plants produce millions of tons of CO2, and there's no way you can remediate it. Plus, the sludge that's left over is nasty, with massive amounts of toxins and heavy metals and it just gets to be landfilled. That's no sustainable solution for anyone.
So what is the solution? Recycling our "waste" which is no waste at all. You all know I love composting toilets. Well, Mr. Jenkins takes that concept a bit cheaper and says compost your stuff in your back yard. And you know I love cheaper. He champions (and so do his followers and humanure believers) the concept of sawdust toilets. Basically, it's a 5 gallon bucket with sawdust instead of a toilet bowl. Same as a composting toilet, except you empty the "toilet bowl" when needed onto a properly managed thermophilic (hot) compost pile. Within hours or days, all active pathogens are dead, and the compost is well on it's way to being rich earth for your garden.
The benefits, cheap, easy, cheap, provides compost, cheap, easy, cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeap. The only problem is what Mr. Jenkins calls Fecophobia, the fear of poo. Most people are happy to pay for clean purified drinking water to crap in, flush it down to nowhere using a bunch more purified drinking water and forget it ever existed, and to pay for that service too. They are also happy to pay for food, eat it, then forget about all those wonderful nutrients that could go in their garden to make more food.
So what do we do? Read this book, (free online) and take it to heart except the small Christianity bashing section. Decide if you want to be part of the problem or the solution. If you want to be part of the problem, go ahead and stop there. If you want to be part of the solution, change your life. Don't be like hypocritical global warming hype politicians and celebrities who wont change their lifestyle to match their message *hmmph*algore*HHMHHmph*.
The solution is active care of the planet, not rhetoric; personal responsibility, not politics. The solution is you.
Monday, April 2, 2007
The Humanure Handbook is a book that has changed many people's lives, it has more information on composting than you want to take in for one sitting, and its available online! Check it out at weblife.org/humanure/
I understand why there are things like permits, it's to stop people building unsafe buildings, and things like that, but the laws are so far behind.
Case: I had heard it may be difficult to get permits for composting toilets and accompanying gray water treatment systems, but I hadn't realized how far behind some of the regulations were. The Alternate Systems Manual, which has to do with systems other than the standard septic systems, was last updated in 1993. What? I know this is Arkansas, but come on. Fortunately, there still his a half page section (out of like 100) that speaks of composting toilets, even though it has incinerating toilets classified in the same category. So, like many other states, I'll have to file something like a request for an "experimental" waste water treatment system, though they are far from experimental, or even new.
I can only hope that the guy stamping the approvals has either enough experience with composting toilets to stamp it, or is too stupid to know the difference, and stamp it anyway.