Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Category Archives: Whimsy

Women of the Bible

[I was assigned to present  some Bible questions during the Sunday evening service at our church. I decided to post them online today. Tomorrow I will post the answers.]

1. Who was Adam’s wife?

2. Hadassah changed her name when she became Queen of Persia. What was her new name?

3. Abraham married again after Sarah died. What was the name of his second wife?

4. There are three women mentioned in the Bible who had roles usually held by men.
A) A woman named as a judge in the book of Judges.
B) A woman who was a prophetess in the time of King Josiah.
C) A woman named as a deaconess [diakonos] in the book of Romans.

5. What tribe did the prophetess Anna belong to?

6. Name the women who accompanied Jesus during his ministry.

7. Which women are named in the genealogy of Jesus?

8. Which two sons of David and Bathsheba are named in the genealogies of Jesus?

9. Who was the mother of Mary?

Love is for giving

Love is the first-mentioned characteristic of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is given to us freely and abundantly, as long as we keep on giving it away, freely and abundantly.

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Image by Ingo Jakubke from Pixabay

But if we feel that smiles, thank you’s and kind words are too precious to be squandered unless we receive them first from others, we are apt to be love-starved.

What we read in others is often a reflection of what they read in us. If we have our guard up, unwilling to make the first move in being friendly, people will read us as being unfriendly and unapproachable and back off. Then we will believe our suspicions have been vindicated and label those people as unfriendly.

If we take the opposite approach, freely sharing smiles, heartfelt thanks and kind words and actions, not everyone will respond in kind. But we have lost nothing in giving, the well of love in our heart will be constantly replenished.

So what if some do not respond graciously to the love offered? Love them anyway. Don’t expect to know the effect our love has on others. It wasn’t ours to begin with, it’s not our business to keep accounts. But if we give freely and abundantly of the love we receive from God, we will be often surprised by love given to us from unexpected sources.

New Eyes

You have to be displaced from what’s comfortable and routine and then you get to see things with fresh eyes, with new eyes. -Amy Tan

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Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

For those who have experienced a displacement from all that is familiar and routine,  this statement will be self-evident.

What about people who have never experienced such a disruption and cannot comprehend that it is even possible to see things differently?

When the apostle Paul wrote about being “all things to all men,” didn’t he mean that he had learned to see things  as other people saw them?

That is the essential starting point of Christian missions.

Does the Bible mention dinosaurs?

Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron. He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him. Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play. He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about. Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.

The above description of behemoth comes from the 40th chapter of the book of Job. Many commentators have considered this to be a description of a hippopotamus; some Bible translations even translate it as hippopotamus. I suspect the main reason is that they knew of no other creature that could remotely fit the description.

But for almost two centuries now people have been digging up bones that could not have come from any creature now living. Many of the finds have been almost complete skeletons from which they have been able to create realistic depictions of what these creatures looked like with muscles and skin on the skeletons. They have given these creatures the name of dinosaur.

Which of the following pictures best fits the description of behemoth? For instance, which one could be described as moving his tail like a cedar?

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Hippopotamus – Image by serfozom from Pixabay

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Brontosaurus – Image by Shyba from Pixabay

Religious communes in Canada

Reading posts by Jnana Hodson about religious communes in the USA prompted me to compile a list of some of the more notable communal groups of the past and present is Canada. Read Jnana Hodson’s posts here, and here.

1. The Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy and the Huron Confederacy could be considered as having been religious communes. Each of their longhouses was home for many families and also the place where sacred ceremonies were held.

2. The Children of Peace, founded by David Willson and several other families who left the Religious Society of Friends. They built the Sharon Temple at Sharon, Ontario in 1819. The last service there was held in 1899.

3. The Community Farm of the Brethren, founded at Bright, Ontario in 1941 by Hungarian immigrants on Hutterite principles. The founder was Julius Kubassek. They received some help from the Hutterites of Western Canada but were never united with them.

4. The Apostles of Infinite Love, Mont Tremblant, Quebec. A large community with affiliates elsewhere, professing to be a continuation of the true Roman Catholic faith, but rejected by that church.

5. I AM – Institute of Applied Metaphysics, a New Age group founded in the Ottawa area which once had several communities in other parts of Canada. They believed they had the answers for world peace and tried to share them with governments, but could not remain peacefully united among themselves and dissolved.

6. The Christian Community, Woodstock, New Brunswick, was part of a group led by Elmo Stoll. He was formerly an Old Order Amish bishop at Aylmer, Ontario with a heart for non-Amish people seeking a plain lifestyle. He established the first community at Cookeville, Tennessee in 1990. It quickly grew to five communities, including the one in New Brunswick. The movement collapsed after Elmo Stoll’s sudden death in 1998.

7. Fort Pitt Farms Christian Community, Frenchman Butte, Saskatchewan was formed in 1999 by Hutterites who professed to be born again and were excommunicated. They have retained the Hutterite communal lifestyle and now have affiliates in the USA and Australia.

8. Bountiful, British Columbia is the home of two polygamous communal groups who claim to be the true followers of the Book of Mormon.

9. Lev Tahor is an ultraconservative Jewish sect that was first organized at Ste Agathe des Monts in Quebec and has moved numerous times in attempts to escape government scrutiny of their child care practices. They moved to Ontario in 2013, to Guatemala in 2014 and then to Chiapas, Mexico, where several of their leaders were arrested.

10. Lifechanyuan International Family Society, Vancouver, British Columbia. This group was founded in 2009 in China by Xuefeng, They moved to Vancouver in 2017 to escape legal problems. They have a syncretistic belief in the “Greatest Creator.”

Government sponsored morality

“Every generation, no matter how paltry its character, thinks itself much wiser than the one immediately preceding it, let alone those that are more remote. ”
-William Shakespeare

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Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

Old Mr. Shakespeare was a pretty keen observer of human nature with all its foibles. I guess that’s why his plays remain so popular, we are still much the same as the people that he was watching 400 years ago.

Our generation is so much wiser than all who have come before us that we have set aside the spiritual foundation for morality. Now we are trying to develop a sense of morality by legislation and psychological counselling.

A case in point is a recent headline that caught my eye: the Saskatchewan government is budgeting 1.5 million dollars for a program to combat violence against women.

What are the chances that such a program will make a difference whence there are no longer any spiritual restraints in men’s hearts?

The born loser

Monday evening, in preparation for the following day, I placed on our dining room table an envelope containing a bill payment on behalf of one bookkeeping client and a cheque that I received from another client. They were exactly the same size and the thought crossed my mind that I might just pick up the two of them together and drop them in the mail slot at the Post Office. “That’s ridiculous,” I thought,. “I’m not that careless.”

We left early the next morning, stopping at our children’s home to pick up our granddaughters. I stopped at the Post Office in the next town, dropped the envelope in the mail slot and then drove to a branch of our bank. I reached for the cheque to deposit it — it wasn’t there. I looked on the floor of the car — it wasn’t there either. Okay. Maybe I am that careless.

We had a two and a half hour drive ahead of us and cousins of my wife were expecting us at our destination, so we motored on. After we got to our destination and met the cousins, I stepped outside to use my cell phone and called the post office where I mailed the envelope. The lady who answered laughed when I asked if by any chance a cheque had shown up in their mail bin. “Yes, it’s right here, waiting for you to come and pick it up.”

I was more relaxed now and enjoyed the rest of the day. The three ladies, that includes my wife, went fabric shopping; we visited a museum and a library and had a couple of meals along the way before returning home close to bedtime.

This morning I went back to the post office feeling sheepish and retrieved my cheque and immediately deposited it in the bank where there is no more danger of losing it.

Yesterday taught me three things, or better said, reinforced three things I already knew:

Our granddaughters are growing up. They are 15 and almost 13 and quite mature. There was a little commotion in the back seat for a few moments while we were driving home, but nothing Grandpa and Grandma needed to check up on or involve ourselves in.

Canada Post employs some pretty friendly and helpful people. Even if one of them did find my predicament humorous, she  did her best to console me that I’m not the only one who has ever done something like that.

And, I am just as capable of losing things as anyone else, and not nearly as careful as I would like to think I am.

Breakdown on the information highway

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Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

I had planned to write something else yesterday evening, but found myself in a position much like the young man in the photo above: the vehicle with which I cruise the information highway had broken down.

We live on an acreage in a sparsely populated part of the Saskatchewan prairies where there are not enough homes to interest a big telecom in laying miles of fibre-optic cable. I had service from a satellite company for years, but clouds kept interfering with the signal. A year ago I switched to a service that captures the signal sent from the nearest cell phone tower; it is faster and pretty much problem free.

Except that there was a thunderstorm in the area the night before last that knocked out our power for awhile and when I got up in the morning the modem showed no signs of life. We had to leave for the city and were gone most of the day. When we got home it was too late to contact the dealer who installed the service. I checked everything out and concluded that the modem was truly fried. In the process, I discovered that in rearranging all the cords I had plugged the modem power supply directly into the wall outlet rather than the surge protector. No wonder it didn’t survive the power outage.

This morning I went to the dealer, Thorstad Computer, located in the nearby town of Outlook. They thought that it was probably the circuit protector that had failed, not the modem. They gave me a new circuit protector and a new modem to take home and try; they didn’t even ask me to pay for them until I knew for sure what I needed.

I went home, plugged in both new parts and soon the internet was working again. Then I swapped the old circuit protector for the new one: after a few minutes the internet was up and running again. Next, I swapped the old modem for the new one: once again, after a few minutes all the lights came on and we have internet – with the old parts!

What happened? Did the road trip do good things for the modem? Was there an electronic healing atmosphere in the computer shop?  I think it just needed a rest. I did disconnect the power to the modem for half a minute while trouble-shooting last night; evidently that wasn’t long enough.

The good folks at Thorstad say to keep the new parts over the weekend and if there are no more problems bring them back Tuesday (Monday is a holiday here).

We are having the hottest weather of the summer right now. The power was off again some time last night, again this morning (twice) and very briefly again as I was typing this.

The computer is on a battery back up to prevent data loss and get me through incidents like this, but it looks like my confidence in the old modem was misplaced – it was knocked out again by this last blip in the power. I’ve got the new one hooked up again.

There you have it: a play by play account of what it has taken to get back to travelling down the information highway.

I’m taking a break

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Plans are that by the time this appears on line I will be sitting in a little church in Québec working on editing a book recently translated into French. Then I will stay to worship with the brethren there on Sunday and do a little visiting around before returning home.

I will return – to my home and to this blog by the middle of next week.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

When I was growing up in the 1950’s, the older generation had scraped and scrabbled to survive the depression and they wanted their children to have a better life. The key to that was to get a good education so you could be someone who could make a living without working hard. Maybe that wasn’t what they intended to say, but that was what we heard. That gave rise to the question so often posed to us: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

The question implied that there was no dignity in hard work; we should to be something better than our parents had been. That meant that our parents didn’t have what it would take to guide us into being the people we should be. We would need to turn to professional help.

Some time after high school, I had a visit with a guidance counsellor. He gave me a massive aptitude test to take home. The test comprised at least 200 multiple-choice questions. The questions were on card stock, with holes punched beside each of the four answers. You used a pencil to make a circle on the answer paper below and then use the key to interpret your responses.

I did the test once, and the result showed a strong interest and aptitude for accounting. I mused on that, realizing that this choice had been in the back of my mind as I did the test. I wondered what would happen if I did the test again, thinking of how I might answer the questions if I was interested in becoming an engineer.

I created a handwritten set of answer sheets, photocopiers didn’t exist back then, and went through the test again. Lo-and-behold the answer key told me I had a definite aptitude for engineering and should pursue a career in that field. I sat back and mused on the disparate results, concluding that if it was so easy to play games with the test, it wasn’t worth very much.

Some years later I became intrigued with Mensa. They limit membership to people with IQ’s in the top 2% of the population, with the grandiose notion that people with high IQ’s have what it takes to make the world a better place. I requested a preliminary test. It came in the mail; I completed it and mailed it back. Soon there came an invitation to do a full IQ test. Thus I arrived one morning at the University of Regina and found my way to a classroom where a dozen others were waiting to do the same test.

I believe there was a three-hour time limit and after we did the test, we all went home. A few weeks later a letter  came in the mail telling me I had scored 151, placing me in the top 1% of the population. Enclosed was a membership application and a request to write a brief profile. I filled them out, wrote a cheque for the membership dues.

In due time I received a booklet with the profiles of all Canadian members of Mensa. I discovered that most of these people supposed themselves to be much too intelligent to believe in God. Yet, they were ready to believe in all kinds of occult manifestations, mystical experiences, extraterrestrials and other nebulous and irrational spiritual theories. I lost interest right there. I didn’t have the self-confidence that would allow me to dismiss God.

Still, I took another IQ test a year or two later and came up with a score of 155. So what do those test scores reveal about me? Probably just that I am good at doing that kind of test. I don’t know if there is any practical application beyond that.

So here I am, 60 years past the age of 17, thinking maybe now I’m grown up enough to say I want to be a writer.

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