Friday, June 28, 2013

Orwell Today

War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.
Marriage is what Big Brother says it is.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


The biblical position on homosexuality is rooted in Genesis 1-3where foundational principles for religion and relationships are laid out. God's designed order for human sexuality is heterosexual monogamy. Male and female are equally called to serve God, love each other, and to develop and cultivate the good earth (Genesis 1-2). But through the fall, humans are alienated from God, from themselves, from each other, and from nature (Genesis 3). It is because of the fall that homosexuality exists; it has no root in creation. The Hebrew theocracy required the death penalty for those convicted of homosexual behavior (and for many other crimes as well). In the New Covenant, the civil laws of Israel are transcended, yet Paul teaches that homosexual activities are the result of sin and rebellion against God (Romans 1:18-32), and warns that those who persist in such activity will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9). Thus, the theological categories are clear cut. The Bible gives no positive examples of homosexual activity. Rather, homosexual activity is something to repent of, and repentance cannot be subtracted from the Gospel (Matthew 4:17).

Because of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, any sinner can be justified and forgiven through the atonement of Jesus Christ. (While Jesus did not directly speak about homosexuality [he did not need to, since no loyal Jew would defend it], he did ratify the Genesis pattern of marriage inMatthew 19:1-4.) All guilt, homosexual or otherwise, can be taken away through Christ's finished work on the Cross. As Francis Schaeffer taught in True Spirituality, the justified person can hope to experience "substantial healing" through sanctification. This includes the dimension of sexual sin. Some homosexuals have experienced total deliverance from this orientation through God's healing; others experience more gradual restoration. But in a fallen world, some regenerate people will not find themselves restored to a heterosexual set of desires. In that case, the Christ-follower must submit himself or herself to a life of celibacy for the sake of conscience and in obedience to God and his Word.

While these moral guidelines are clear cut, they do not warrant hatred or bitterness to those affected by homosexuality. The gospel goes out to all sinners, homosexual or otherwise (Acts 17:30). Yet we cannot twist the Scriptures (2 Peter 3:16) to make them endorse homosexuality or same-sex marriage. Christians, in the power of the Holy Spirit, should show compassion toward homosexuals, but this does not include supporting same-sex marriage, which is a violation of the most basic institution ordained by God at creation: heterosexual marriage. Further, in our pluralistic and largely post-Christian culture, the case for heterosexual monogamy can appeal to natural law (Romans 1:24-232:14-15) as well as to special revelation, since heterosexual monogamy is deeply rooted in human nature, as Robert George and others have argued. But if relativism prevails in our culture, even this appeal will become increasingly difficult to make.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Groothuis on Yoga

Tomorrow (Wednesday) at 12:15, we will be meeting for our study onYou Will Be Like God?.  Dr. Douglas Groothuis, chairperson of the Philosophy Department at Denver Seminary, will be teaching on Second Thoughts on Yoga.  Doug is world renown as the author of 12 books including Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith(InterVarsity, 2011).  We will take a special love offering to help pay for Dr. Groothuis’ expenses.
Please bring your Bibles and a lunch if you wish.  We will have coffee and water for you ~ along with a study notebook. 
We are meeting at Front Range Christian Fellowship, 10667 Parkridge Avenue (Parkridge and Main), in the auxiliary house located across Parkridge from the church.  The church is easily found as it is across Main Street from the North Super WalMart.  Instead of turning right at the light on Parkridge into WalMart, turn left.  Front Range is on your immediate right.  You can park in the church parking lot and walk across the street to the ministry house.
We will see you there!
Glennis J. Henry
Legal Assistant
The Sonnesyn Law Firm
655 4th Ave. Suite B
Longmont, CO  80501

Doug Groothuis Sermon

Saturday, June 15, 2013

From "The Best of A. W. Tozer"

The Use and Abuse of Humor
by A.W. Tozer
Few things are as useful in the Christian life as a gentle sense of humor and few things are as deadly as a sense of humor out of control.
Many lose the race of life through frivolity. Paul is careful to warn us. He says plainly that the Christian’s characteristic mood should not be one of jesting and foolish talking but rather one of thanksgiving (Eph. 5:1-5). It is significant that in this passage the apostle classifies levity along with uncleanness, covetousness and idolatry.
Now obviously an appreciation of the humorous is not an evil in itself. When God made us He included a sense of humor as a built-in feature, and the normal human being will possess this gift in some degree at least. The source of humor is ability to perceive the incongruous. Things out of focus appear funny to us and may stir within us a feeling of amusement that will break into laughter.
Dictators and fanatics have no sense of humor. Hitler never knew how funny he looked, nor did Mussolini know how ridiculous he sounded as he solemnly mouthed his bombastic phrases. The religious fanatic will look upon situations so comical as to excite uncontrollable mirth in normal persons and see nothing amusing in them. This blind spot in his make-up prevents him from seeing how badly his own life and beliefs are out of focus. And just so far as he is blind to the incongruous he is abnormal; he is not quite as God meant him to be.
Humor is one thing, but frivolity is quite another. Cultivation of a spirit that can take nothing seriously is one of the great curses of society, and within the church it has worked to prevent much spiritual blessing that otherwise would have descended upon us. We have all met those people who will not be serious. They meet everything with a laugh and a funny remark.
This is bad enough in the world, but positively intolerable among Christians.
Let us not allow a perverted sense of humor to ruin us. Some things are funny, and we may well laugh sometimes. But sin isn’t funny; death isn’t funny. There is nothing funny about a world tottering upon the brink of destruction; nothing funny about war and the sight of boys dying in blood upon the field of battle; nothing funny about the millions who perish each year without ever having heard the gospel of love.
It is time that we draw a line between the false and the true, between the things that are incidental and the things that are vital. Lots of things we can afford to let pass with a smile. But when humor takes religion as the object of its fun it is no longer natural—it is sinful and should be denounced for what it is and avoided by everyone who desires to walk with God.
Innumerable lectures have been delivered, songs sung and books written exhorting us to meet life with a grin and to laugh so the world can laugh with us; but let us remember that however jolly we Christians may become, the devil is not fooling. He is cold-faced and serious, and we shall find at last that he was playing for keeps. If we who claim to be followers of the Lamb will not take things seriously, Satan will, and he is wise enough to use our levity to destroy us.
I am not arguing for unnatural solemnity; I see no value in gloom and no harm in a good laugh. My plea is for a great seriousness which will put us in mood with the Son of Man and with the prophets and apostles of the Scriptures. The joy of the Lord can become the music of our hearts and the cheerfulness of the Holy Spirit will tune the harps within us. Then we may attain that moral happiness which is one of the marks of true spirituality, and also escape the evil effects of unseemly humor.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

You, Robot

Your robotic future
Digital standard
Software in your hardware
Hardware in your software
Drones above
Cameras below
Camera above
Camera within

Who will monitor the

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Book Review: He Was Wrong

Duchamp & Picasso: He Was Wrong

  • Ronald Jones
  • Jun 4, 2013
  • Series: Denver Journal Volume 16 - 2013
Ronald Jones (Author), Daniel Birnbaum (Editor), Annika Gunnarsson. Duchamp & Picasso: He Was Wrong. Paperback. Walther König, Köln; Bilingual edition, 2013. 140 pages.
Duchamp & Picasso: He Was Wrong (Ronald Jones)This and another recent book have made much of the rivalry and antipathy between Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Marcel Duchamp, (1887-1968), two of the most influential, iconoclastic, and controversial artists of the twentieth century, although Picasso was immeasurably more popular and wealthy. (See also Larry Witham, Picasso and the Chess Player: Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, and the Battle for the Soul of Modern Art [2013].) Picasso and Duchamp did not like each other; neither did they share a philosophy of art (if Picasso even had one). Hence, when Picasso heard that Duchamp had died, he promptly and laconically said, “He was wrong.” Had Duchamp outlived Picasso, the epithet (or something like it) probably would have been repeated. There was no meeting of minds (or paints or sculptures) to be found here between the Spaniard (who settled in France) and the Frenchman (who settled in America). This volume was published on the basis of an exhibit at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden (as are many art books).
But before exploring the ideas and images of this book, I must explain its eccentric, if winning, format. It is structurally two books in one, with two black-and-white photographic front covers of equal prominence. There is no back cover and there are two spines, neither of which is labeled—making it difficult to find on a book shelf (and I write as someone always losing my books). One finds a cover with Picasso’s face, a close up, with hand on head—and those eyes. Within this part of the book is a short essay on Picasso (in both Swedish and English), a short essay on the works included, and a concluding set of images of his paintings. One can then turn the book over, find another front page with a photograph of Duchamp; this, too, features an essay (in Swedish and English), a short essay on the works included, and a concluding section of his paintings and other works (such as the famous “ready-mades”).  Or as the book advertisement more concisely says, “The book is appropriately divided in two halves separated by a reverse binding.”  The book does have a continuous pagination, starting with the Picasso side. The unique form of the book fits the content nicely, since Picasso and Duchamp opposed one another in many ways.
There is no real linear or thematic connection between their thoughts, lives, or art—apart from Duchamp’s early and short-lived association with cubist painting, a form that Picasso developed more fully. (Whatever it really meant is hard to ascertain). Hence, the book causes the antipodes to face each other only through opposition. But what was this classic conflict about? One may easily surmise that these denizens of modern art had affinities, given their general rejection of tradition and willingness to experiment with new forms of expression. But they did not.
The essence of the feud centered on the respective artists’ views of art itself. To use classical categories (made famous by Friedrich Nietzsche in The Birth of Tragedy), Picasso was Dionysian, celebrating the untutored eye beholding expression of his unfettered artistic self.  He painted voluminously, likely painted more than any painter before or since. He bragged, “Give me a museum, and I will fill it.” He did not want people to think much about his paintings, but simply to experience them (and buy them for vast sums). Ironically, of course, as of 2003, there are about four hundred books on Picasso’s art, according to historian Paul Johnson. This is to be expected given his prodigious productivity, radical shifts in style (the blue period, the pink period, the different iterations of cubism, and much more), his relation to other artists, how his outrageous, perverse, misogynistic, and narcissistic life related to his art, and so on. Duchamp taunted Picasso as “retinal”—all image and no thought. He leveled the same judgment about Impressionism. His conception or art was more cerebral, however off-putting and bizarre it may have been. (Duchamp is famous for, among other things, his submitting a urinal for an art show—which was not juried—and calling it “fountain.” This was one of only twelve ready-mades he ever produced—if that is the right word.) His later passion for chess only embellished this ethos. Duchamp would not even acknowledge the greatness of Picasso, and, in fact, snubbed him in an interview, saying he was more interested in a lesser known painter.
Duchamp’s most well-known painting is “Nude Descending a Staircase,” which was recently represented on a US “forever” stamp. This was originally shown at the epical Armory Show in New York in 1913, where avant-garde works were prominently displayed to the delight, disgust, and bewilderment of the art world. Duchamp sought to disarm and deconstruct the very idea of art as a special realm for the master who produces privileged art works. In that, he rejected the concept of “fine art,” which Paul Johnson understands as the felicitous paring of skill and innovation, worked out by a craftsmen over a lifetime (Art: A New History of Art [2003]). He, like Picasso was an amoral nihilist, an atheist who thought that man-made objects had no fixed or determinative meaning. He was deeply ironic and opaque in expression, thus finally thwarting any intellectual approach to art. This is distressingly obvious in the recently released book of interviews with Calvin Tompkins called Marcel Duchamp: The Afternoon Interviews (Badlands Unlimited, 2013).
Duchamp was hopeless opacity. This is simply because the intellect requires concepts and propositions to assess, if knowledge is to be won. It also demands intellectual virtues, the chief of which is the search for truth. Duchamp’s endless turgidity without lucidity makes for insanity at worst and inanity (however gnomic) at best. One can find a certain brilliance in “Nude Descending a Staircase,” given its originality and skill in execution. Yet it was intended to destabilize meaning and subvert traditions without offering anything solid in their absence. Duchamp also violated sexual norms with abandon in many of his works; in paintings, photographs, and installations. He hinted at his own bisexuality as well. For him, the past was only prologue for perversity, in life and in art.
Picasso was known as a painter, although he also made sculptures and engaged in just about every other form of visual art-making.  He produced paintings from a very early age and continued to paint at a rapid rate (about one per day) the rest of his life, painting up till his death at age ninety-two. Picasso wanted his viewer to see his work as visual, graphic, sensorial. He despised theorizing, since he believed that it undermined the painting as a painting.
This disagreement between two mavens of modern art has profound consequences for the pursuit of truth and beauty. Neither held a coherent, rationally defensible worldview. Picasso openly turned on God after the death of his young sister and never looked back. Art historian and critic, Hans Rookmaaker, in Modern Art and the Death of a Culture [InterVarsity, 1970], calls him a nihilist, and with good reason. Duchamp was elusive to the point of obscurantism, but we can know that he, too, rejected any God-given meaning in life or art. While Picasso rejected analysis in the quest for meaning, Duchamp championed the mind, but at the expense of knowledge. Both, thus, end up in the same philosophical ditch; neither can, on the basis of their worldviews, give art or the human condition any meaning or direction. Nevertheless, as humans, they seek some manner of meaning in their thoughts and lives. This, in God’s world, is inescapable, since all humans are made in the image and likeness of their Creator. But, as Francis Schaeffer said, “Man is a rebel” against God, and, therefore, is a rebel against both the external and internal world (see Proverbs 8:36). Yet these rebels, in art or elsewhere, continue to be meaning-seeking beings. One hopes that more of these rebels (however celebrated in their rebellion and nihilism) end up submitting to reality and respond accordingly, in art and in all other areas of culture.
Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy
Denver Seminary
June 2013

Monday, June 03, 2013

"Koyaanisqatsi," DVD (1983 film)

Ancient as I am (56), I first beheld this genre-bending film when it came out in 1983. It was shown in a small, alternative theater in Eugene, Oregon. This was when, in days of deep yore, one trekked to a location, sat with others, and saw a film. When the film's run was done it was gone. One could not put it into a device or view it on line. So, one tended to forget.

Now thirty years later, with more degrees, more knowledge, and more weariness about life under the sun, I watch Koyaanisqatsi anew with a discerning young friend who is the same age as I was when I first watched it. This lends itself to some reflection. The title means "life out of balance" in the Hopi language.

There is no narration, and voices only are heard as the credits run. The cinematography is everything and is impressive in its variety, depth, and scope. The theme is the relation of nature to culture, of the wild to the human and the domesticated, so to speak. We behold vistas of creation's grandeur and sublimity. The film begins very slowly with ulta-slow-motion footage of a rocket launch. Then scenes of dry mountains and deep ponds appear. There are no scenes from forests or jungles or icecaps.

Something is then blown up. A mountain falls--and we move into civilization, where humans touch nature. There is little emphasis on the achievements of man, but on his failures and miscalculations. All is overcrowded, much is ugly, workers are mere drones on assembly lines, and more.

Hopi "prophecies" are shown at the end of the film, giving the viewer the idea that they knew. They knew what would be lost. They knew what would come...

But these prophecies are quite vague and offer no hope. In this, the film is romantic about nature, forgetting about its redness in tooth and claw; in fact, animals are scarcely seen. Man is not measured by both his majesty and misery (Pascal), but by how he as despoiled nature.

The credits reveal that several social critics, such as the Christian sociologist, Jacques Ellul and the Catholic priest, Ivan Illich, have helped in inspire this documentary with no words. The score is by Phillip Glass, and is, of course, very repetitive, both in its slow scenes and in its speeded-up scenes of humans driving and bustling about. This waxes cloying after a few moments.

The technology, which is generally vilified in this film, is, to the contemporary eye, rather antiquated. People play huge, public video games, such as Pack-man. They stare at bulky and non-digitized television sets. There is not a laptop or cell phone in sight. Thus, the gap, as it were, between nature and culture has widened. Have we become "tools of our tools," as Thoreau said?