TZ Lessons II

A Penny for Your Thoughts – Actions do not always betray thoughts.
Mr. Dingle, the Strong – Using your gifts selfishly can get them taken away.
The Obsolete Man – No individual is ever worthless.
The Shelter – There had better be enough for everybody, or likely as not nobody will have enough.
It’s a Good Life – A terror of child will grow up to be a terror of an adult.
The Hunt – Loyalty counts for something.
The Little People – There is always a bigger and meaner fish.
Mute – Love speaks for itself.
Death Ship – You can miss what is in front of you if you really want to.
In Praise of Pip – A father will do anything for his son.

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TZ Lessons

(The AC is now up and running. We suspect that a lightening strike caused its failure. It shorted out the wiring causing them to melt together and that burnt smell. In the process, it turned on both the heating and air conditioning and caused them to operate at the same time. The heat canceled out the air conditioning on an already hot day. Fortunately that is now fixed. It seems a neighbor of ours had been impacted by the full force of said strike and is paying for it.)

I’ve been thinking about The Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. Out of the original five seasons, I’ve ever seen thirty-one episodes. Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

Where is Everybody? – Loneliness eats away at people.
Judgement Night – Just when you think it’s over, it’s only just begun.
And When the Sky Was Opened – Nobody deserves to be forgotten.
I Shot an Arrow into the Air – People will do anything to survive, except cooperate.
People are Alike All Over – A cage, even disguised as a home, is still a cage.
A World of His Own – You cannot be anything less than what you are.
Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room – You are your strongest opponent.
A Thing About Machines – Dislike is one thing, but paranoia can be fatal.
The Howling Man – Curiosity can be your own undoing.
The Eye of the Beholder – Beauty means nothing if you are not normal.

What have you learned from your favorite TZ and OL episodes?

My Pleasure

(If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. That’s what they say right? The thing is that we woke up in the middle of the night the day before yesterday because there was a burnt wiring smell throughout the rental house. Granted, it’s a small house, but the smell of anything burning can’t be good. The next day we realized that there was a connection between the smell, the duct work, and the lack of cool air comming from the air conditioning unit. So we spent a 95 ish degree day without air conditioning. Points go out to the landlords because they were not only awake-ish in the middle of the night, but they came right on over to investigate. The lady at the store where we bought an extra fan mentioned that three other people mentioned having the same issue. It’s either a condenser failure or the result of a lightening strike.)

Proverbs 21:17, “He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.”

The Bible is well known for is passages on money. Various pastors have made or destroyed their ministry on the subject over the years. I just thought it would be interesting to see how the State has managed without the influcence of the Church:

In Oakland, $2,806 of Federal Stimulus Money was spent reimbursing the SSCF for it’s field trips. Even though government guidelines said the stimulus money could not be spent on entertainment.

Over a year and a half, government-funded credit cards payed for $74,000 worth of exotic dance clubs and prostitutes, $70,000 worth of cruises, $49,000 spent on gambling, and a little over $100,000 on tickets to entertainment events.

The Postal Service had a $13,500 meal, comming to about $167 for each guest.

The SEC spent $3.9 Million dollars to re-arrange its desks. (I routinely re-arrange my room for free.)

Taxpayers will foot the bill for paintings of high ranking congressmen and women costing $50,000 each.

Washington sent $1.8 Million dollars to Georgia for the purpose of building a private golf course. (I hope they get discounts.)

In fact, the GAO found that over half of all credit card purchases on the government dime are improper, fraudulent, or embezzling. Taxpayers have paid for: gambling, mortgage payments, liquor, lingerie, a Lexus, iPods, Xboxes, Plasma Televisions, jewelry, Internet dating services, and Hawaiian vacations.

What irks me most is that the federal government gets away with alot but it has alot more money to get away with. When state and local governments are under the administration of a bad apple, they do the same things. It’s only a small blessing that they have less to work with. I can’t help but wonder what our government’s budget would look like if they actually operated under the principles of the founding fathers, who did not seperate their beliefs from themselves even when they worked in the newly-formed government.

Saving Others

(Last night, I fired up the grill and helped to cook some ribs and chicken. The ribs turned out very good. I wasn’t sure how my dad would feel considering that the grill is his area of experise. He didn’t say one thing about it one way or the other, so I know that he was pleased that 1.) I didn’t burn anything down and 2.) the food turned out to be really good. Giving compliments isin’t easy for him, but a silent nod of approval is almost as good … almost.)

Teal’c: Nothing I have done since turning against the Goa’uld will make up for the atrocities I once committed in their name. Somewhere deep inside you, you knew it was wrong. A voice you did not recognize screamed for you to stop. You saw no way out. It was the way things were. They could not be changed. You tried to convince yourself the people you were hurting deserved it. You became numb to their pain and suffering. You learned to shut out the voice speaking against it.

Tomin: There’s always a choice.

Teal’c: Indeed, there is.

Tomin: I chose to ignore it.

Teal’c: Yet you sit here now.

Tomin: I sit here…and I cannot imagine the day when I will forgive myself.

Teal’c: Because it will never come. One day, others may try to convince you they have forgiven you. That is more about them than you. For them, imparting forgiveness is a blessing.

Tomin: How do you go on?

Teal’c: It is simple. You will never forgive yourself. Accept it. You hurt others. Many others. That cannot be undone. You will never find personal retribution. But your life does not have to end. That which is right, just, and true can still prevail. If you do not fight for what you believe in, all may be lost for everyone else. But do not fight for yourself, fight for others—others that may be saved through your effort. That is the least you can do.
From Stargate: The Ark of Truth

Some religions are so peaceful, it’s followers would not harm a soul. Other religions are based on fighting and killing, it’s followers would not pass up an opportunity. Both Teal’c and Tomin once fought on the side of their respective gods, killing in their name. Something about what they were doing bothered them long before they learned the truth. Once Teal’c left his high position of First Prime, he was branded a ‘shovah’, or traitor. In many episodes they wrestled with Teal’c as he was in the past and how he had come to see the truth. Tomin, on the other hand, was on the recieving end of a miracle. He was then thrust on the front lines. He would often contradict the Prior’s explanation of a passage from the Book of Origen. So what do two sci-fi characters have to teach us in the real world?

If you’re doing anything even a part of you believes is wrong, that little voice will tell you to stop. If you’re hurting others, even in the name of your religion, that voice will tell you that something is not right. You always have a choice. It will not always be pleasant or easy. In fact, in some places, to turn your back on the local faith is punishable by your death. Know that it is worth it to put up a fight to save others, because you know exactly what will happen to them if you just do nothing. There are such things as righteousness, justice, and truth, even if you don’t know what it is, it’s still out there.

The Divide

Eccl 5:8-20,
“Riches Are Meaningless
 8 If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still. 9 The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields.
 10 Whoever loves money never has money enough;
       whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.
       This too is meaningless.

 11 As goods increase,
       so do those who consume them.
       And what benefit are they to the owner
       except to feast his eyes on them?

 12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
       whether he eats little or much,
       but the abundance of a rich man
       permits him no sleep.

 13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:
       wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner,

 14 or wealth lost through some misfortune,
       so that when he has a son
       there is nothing left for him.

 15 Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb,
       and as he comes, so he departs.
       He takes nothing from his labor
       that he can carry in his hand.

 16 This too is a grievous evil:
       As a man comes, so he departs,
       and what does he gain,
       since he toils for the wind?

 17 All his days he eats in darkness,
       with great frustration, affliction and anger.

 18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. 20 He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.”

I’ve been told that just because I’m an American, I’m rich. I don’t have to live in a one-hundred square foot aluminum home in a crowded shanty town. I don’t have to share my water source with hundreds of thousands of others. I don’t have to live in a camp because there is extreme violence in my town. To be poor in America is a different thing from being poor anywhere else. Most cities offer programs that give poor, homeless people a place to sleep at night, a place to get a meal every day, or even a place to get back on their feet. You just have to be poor enough to qualify. So imagine that you’re almost poor. Do you redouble your efforts to stay above that line? Do you let your efforts slide in order to get all of those hand-outs? Which do you think most people would do?

Character Study

In a dream, I was trying to explain to a classroom the hard times faced by the founding fathers were not exactly as an e-mail suggests. I mentioned to them that at Valley Forge times were tough, but those that made it through year after year built character. Indeed, the building and testing of character happens in the toughest of times.

Instances of Character in the Bible:

(1) Ruth: Throughout her story, she sticks with her mother-in-law through thick and thin, even obeying the customs of her mother-in-law’s people. One of her descendants is none other than Jesus Christ himself.

(2) Proverbs 12 and 31: Both speak about wives of noble character and their upright conduct.

(3) Acts 17: The more notable instance of character in this chapter is that of the Bereans who always checked Paul’s preaching with the Scriptures to see if it was true.

(4) Romans 5: Suffering leads to building Character and building Character leads to building hope in which we cannot be dissapointed as our hope is the Lord. And finally,

(5) 1 Cor. 15: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

We do see more instances of character in the stories of people in the Bible. When Daniel refused to eat from the king’s table. When Joshua and Caleb gave a good report of the land they were to claim. When they honored their promise to Rahab. Need I say more?

“Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” – Abraham Lincoln

Cancelled Debts

Deut 15:1-11, ” 1 At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. 2 This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel the loan he has made to his fellow Israelite. He shall not require payment from his fellow Israelite or brother, because the LORD’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. 3 You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your brother owes you. 4 However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, 5 if only you fully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. 6 For the LORD your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.
 7 If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. 8 Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. 9 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. 10 Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.”

I once visited a church that baptized infants because Israel circumcised its sons. Some churches really take the Old Testament seriously in some chapters and verses and much less so in other places. Here is one that you wouldn’t catch most Christian churches obeying. Granted, American in general are very generous, but you wouldn’t catch an American Christian call up a former business partner and say, “I lent you $375.00 seven years ago and you haven’t payed me even a cent of it back. I want you to know that I’m forgiving that debt, you no longer owe me anything.” Look at what God was telling his people Israel:
1.) There should be no poor among you …
2.) There will always be poor people in the land …

I understand that I’ve been grafted into the family of God, I understand that Gentiles are not required to undergo circumcision, but I don’t understand which OT commandments I’m supposed to follow and which ones I can let slide. What have you been taught about the responsibility of the rich and the responsibility of the poor?