(RT @God) Are you sure you read that right?

I don’t follow anything specifically religious on Twitter, but today these were some of the first words I read during my Twitter check-in. God, are you speaking to me through Twitter?

“Never retaliate when people say unkind things about you.Pay them back with a blessing..& God willl BLESS YOU!”1 Pet.3:9” (Tweeted by an elementary music organization.)

“There’s only one rule I know of, babies — God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” (Tweeted by Kurt Vonnegut.)

“God will not look you over for medals, degrees, or diplomas, but for scars.” —Elbert Hubbard (Tweeted by Post Secret.)

“Actually, that’s not in the Bible. http://on.cnn.com/kyjuH6(Tweeted by CNN.)

This last article is what interested me the most. The author, John Blake, speaks with several college religion professors about commonly misquoted “Biblical” phrases. One surprising example is the fact that yes, a serpent tempted Eve to take the apple from the tree, but that serpent is never referred to as the Devil. (This story appears in the Book of Genesis, found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which may have been written in the last century BCE until 70 CE. [source] That’s important later.) One of Blake’s sources claims, “Not only does the text not mention Satan, the very idea of Satan as a devilish tempter postdates the composition of the Garden of Eden story by at least 500 years.”

Charlie Brown kicks the football

Temptation at its worst. But maybe this time, Charlie Brown will actually kick that football...

The comparison of the Devil as a serpent appears in the Book of Revelation, which was probably written sometime between 68-95 CE, likely after the Book of Genesis. [source]

Every day when speaking with others, our minds piece their words together and we get the gist of what is being said. But sometimes we don’t realize the importance of words. One word may seem similar to another, like “border” and “boundary,” but underlying connotations have different meanings and — more importantly — change over time.

If we apply different connotations, we can change the entire definition of the words and get the wrong gist. We could assume the word “serpent” to symbolize “devil,” which would give us a different idea of the context than if we think “Western diamondback rattlesnake.”

The internet, I believe, has severely changed how we think of words. The connotations words have aren’t usually considered before they are spewed into cyberspace. HTML doesn’t know the difference, and neither does the greasy keyboard, but it’s easy to forget that other human beings read what’s written. (I probably think about it too much, which is why it takes me weeks to write a single blog post… and even then I am still nervous about what readers think!)

Maybe I’ll just stick to Mark Twain’s advice when it comes to writing (who I also follow on Twitter), “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

Cheers,

Linus

Who’s plan?

Read this article from the Wall Street Journal:

God at the Grammys: The Chosen Ones — Why do so many musical superstars think that their careers are part of a divine plan?

I often ask working music teachers that I meet what it was that drew them to their career. Often, they come speak to my school’s music education organization chapter and tell their stories about personal high school and college music experiences. Never has anyone mentioned their religion, except if it has to do with playing in music liturgy as another form of employment.

As I understand it from the religious side of things (and you might choose not to believe it), God gave humans the freedom of choice, which is a significant difference between us and angels. That is why I personally don’t believe strongly in fate or destiny. That doesn’t mean that the Dude has no ideas for us. A lot of Christians often think—or worry, rather—that we are not fulfilling God’s goals. I have considered that God has given us inherent strengths through heredity, and learned strengths absorbed through our environment. So if we find something we sincerely enjoy and have a desire to make a career out of it, why would God be unhappy with us?

Thoughts on work, God, and clocks

If we are to have enlarged leisure, in an automated future, the problem is not “how are men going to be able to consume all these additional time-units of leisure?” but “what will be the capacity for experience of the men who have this undirected time to live?” If we maintain a Puritan time-valuation, a commodity-valuation, then it is a question of how this time is put to use, or how it is exploited by the leisure industries. But if the purposive notation of time-use becomes less compulsive, then men might have to re-learn some of the arts of living lost in the industrial revolution: how to fill the interstices of their days with enriched, more leisurely, personal and social relations; how to break down once more the barriers between work and life. And hence would stem a novel dialectic in which some of the old aggressive energies and disciplines migrate to the newly-industrializing nations, while the old industrialized nations seek to rediscover modes of experiences forgotten before written history begins…

For there is no such thing as economic growth which is not, at the same time, growth or change of a culture; and the growth of social consciousness, like the growth of a poet’s mind, can never, in the last analysis, be planned.

– E. P. Thompson, from: Time, Work Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism, 1967.

I cup my right hand around my mouth and chin as I think. My eyes wander away from the keyboard and land in the upper right corner of my computer screen, where I read: Tue 5:57 PM. I lower my hand and straighten the watch on my left wrist to see 5:58. I’m reminded, somehow, that I’m hungry, and so my eyes rise to the microwave which tells me that it is also 5:58. My eyes stays in the same elevation as my head turns to the wall clock, which tells me it’s 5:57. My cell phone agrees on the coffee table: 5:57. I could turn on the TV and the announcer on ESPN would tell me that it’s about 17:57 in South Africa. On the other side of the kitchen counter, the coffee maker would contest: no, it’s 4:45.

I breathe a grateful sigh. I’m unbelievably relieved that I now know what time it is. I, then, continue blogging.

Clocks, as E. P. Thompson states earlier in his article, became a commodity in the 18th century industrial revolution. First, they were a luxurious addition, but thanks to smuggling and imitation, they were available to workers and farmers. They were placed in factories; sometimes, the factory workers were not allowed to bring their own watch, nor were they allowed near the official factory clock for fear of dishonesty when in came time to leave their work.

Never had I ever wanted to know what time it was at 5:58 pm, but it came about like breathing; subconsciously. Clocks are everywhere. Our bosses tell us to worship their value, but when our work is dull, our only escape route is by looking at the clock. Our self-help books tell us to take time for ourselves and stop worrying about the time; so then we ask ourselves, “Great! At what time can I fit that in?”

For me personally, a clock receives more attention throughout the day than a single thought on God.