Wednesday, January 31, 2007
A Tour of Jaffa
It had been raining for the past few days here in Israel. So I was really afraid that I'd come 6,000 miles without being able to do any touring at all. Wouldn't that be a shame? The old town is filled with narrow but picturesque streets all of stone. Every little nook and cranny seemed to be crammed with an art gallery or a performance studio.
Monday, January 29, 2007
However, I have to say that notes like this one from my little Anna Lynn fill me with joy. It reads... "I love you. Your awase in my heart!" And the exclamation even has a little heart where the dot goes.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Saturday, January 20, 2007
It's enough to drive a sane person outta their mind!
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Does the dad even matter?
While self-doubt is nothing new under the sun, here are some statistics that I didn't know until recently:
• 90% of runaway children are from fatherless homes
• 71% of high school dropouts are from fatherless homes
• 85% of youth in prison are from fatherless homes
• 90% of inmates on death row are from fatherless homes
It seems like most societal ills, from crime to drug use to teen pregnancy, have a correlation with fatherlessness. So the next time I feel like I don’t matter, I'm encouraged to take a look around the dining room table. Sometimes just being there is everything.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Saturday in the Park
My favorite part of the day was the zoo playground. The playground at the zoo is top tier and gave the kids lots of fun playtime to burn off some energy that built up to cabin fever levels over the previous week.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
New Japanese Game Show
Check out this new game show in Japan ---
...The real reason why the kids can't sleep in my bed any more...
However, nature provides more subtle ways to urge you to get them out of your bed and into their own. For starters, they get big. As they get bigger, they get heavier while simultaneously thinking they are neither big nor heavy. And of course, they still think they're so tiny that they can lay any which way on your bed without it impacting anyone.
My usual routine is to read the girls a story or two in my bed. Then, once they're asleep, I carry them up to their own beds. So I walked into my bedroom the other night after letting the girls snuggle into my bed for a while and saw this:
This was my was wake-up call to get those girls into their own beds. Look how big they're getting! And needless to say, I don't have to tell you that those feet had often ended up in my own face. Jeesh!
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Response: Did Jesus Exist?
When you boil this challenge down to "proof" that might be acceptable in a modern US court room, you've got big problems. There's no direct evidence of Jesus of Galilee. All the evidence that we have of Jesus was created after the fact. The earliest known texts discussing Jesus, such as the Gospel of Thomas, were written no less than 15-20 years after the crucification of Jesus. Mark came a bit later, around 30 AD, then Matthew (45 AD), and Luke (50-55 AD). All three of these share a common source (called "quell" by the scholars or Q for short) and structure. Because these are so similar, they are called the "synoptic gospels". John, which is so entirely different from the other gospels that it is called the "logos gospel" (logos being the Greek word for "word"), also came much, much later. Incidentally, it is the least flattering toward Jews in general and is also the only gospel written after the destruction of Jerusalem.
Non-Christian sources are also very light in terms of court room evidence. The contemporary historian Flavius Josephus wrote a lot about Christ and Christians. But his writings were entirely in the second-hand, such as my paraphrase of "I've heard a lot about this Jesus of Galilee, a worker of many miracles, and his followers are still very active in and around Galilee." That's hardly a smoking gun. What about other Roman sources? After all, the Romans were scrupulous record keepers. Unfortunately, they also used paper, most of which burned during the barbarian invasions. So there's no record of Christ's crucificion beyond a few blanket entries from the general time period that say things like "14,000 Judean rebels crucified". Nor is there even a record of the census called for by Augustus Caesar described at the beginning of the Nativity story in Luke. But does that mean that Jesus does not exist?
I'm not a forensic scientist nor am I a scholar. But I believe that there's a good analogy for proof of Jesus' existance. Here's the analogy - in constructing climatic records, scientists are only able to go back (at best) a couple centuries to examine actual hand-written records about the climate of a given time and place. But scientists are able to tell very definitively what the weather patterns were in certain areas centuries and even millenium in the past. How so? By examining a variety of other, non-written sources. For example, scientists can examine the rings of trees for evidence of forest fires, plus whether it was a wet or dry year. Scientists can also turn to rodent midden's that were buried and forgotten. Rats, mice, and other critters pack away food collected in about a 100 foot radius from their dens and, along with the food, lots of pollen from the vegetation of the area. Scientists can see, for example, whether pollen was present from trees at the time the midden was stocked to determine if a now desert and arid region once supported a forest. The midden can then be carbon-dated to correlate the vegetation of the region with the weather at the time the midden was stocked.
Similarly, we don't actually have to see physical evidence of Jesus himself to have a relatively strong assurance that he existed. For example, there are much stronger church records about the existence of James, brother of Jesus, and pre-eminent leader of the Christians in Jerusalem. Paul, in his epistles, mentions James and the poverty stricken Christians of Jerusalem a number of times. James is also mentioned in other early church records from the likes of Clement, Origen, and Ireneus. Ok, so - there's some proof that a guy claiming to be Jesus brother exists. But what else?
I think another very strong testamony to the existence of Jesus is the behavior of the Apostles after Jesus' crucifiction. Once again, we don't have court room evidence of Jesus himself. But we do have ample documentation of the lives of the people he touched. One question that puzzles me is this - why would the Apostles endure terrible torture and horrific deaths for someone who didn't exist? For example, Peter was crucified upside down because he requested it, saying that he wasn't worthy to be crucified in the same way as his Lord. Paul, thanks to his Roman citizenship, didn't have to endure a slow, torturous death and was instead granted a quick beheading. (Those merciful Romans!)
Every other apostle, with the exception of John, were also martyred for their faith. Even John, who claimed that his long life was due to Jesus' greater affection for him than for the other Apostles, upheld Christ and the gospel until his death amongst the other Believers at the church in Antioch.
So, in summary, I think of the lives and behavior of the Apostles as that of people who'd experienced someone very special - someone so special that their lives were forever changed. To continue the analogy, I don't know about a forest fire occuring at a specific time in a primeval forest. But what if the tree rings indicate an enormous outpouring of soot and carbon at a single date in the past? Hmmmm... Certainly looks like a forest fire to me.
Now, that brings me to what is a much more difficult question in my mind, that is - did the Apostles (along with Paul) get it right? Did Jesus' message get corrupted, altered, or expanded? Should Jesus more accurately be described as an Old Testament-style prophet for the Jews rather than a spiritual messiah for all races? Jesus certainly comes from the prophetic tradition and he was, above all other things, a righteous and conscientious Jew who was concerned for other Jews. And, in either case (prophet or messiah), what is his message to me today?
Food for thought...
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Mommy, can we keep a kitten?