Category Archives: Beauty Tips From a Seminary Washout

Dane Cook and Our Funny Problem with the Word “All”

Today I find myself here—ruefully admitting something that pains me every time I’m forced to acknowledge it:
There was a time I once enjoyed Dane Cook.

Yes.

There it is.
Shocking, I know.

Paul rudd double take

I mean, maybe I’m alone in this, or maybe there are a few of you that are still in the closet about it. You used to have a cd or two of his as well at one point, but then you laced up your boots, moved into adulthood and stopped hanging out with(or even acknowledging)…well, those who might still say they like and enjoy Dane Cook.
If you still like him, I’m sorry.
If you at some point in your life enjoyed him, and have since moved forward but refuse to admit that you even once liked him, I’m sorry.
But if you’re like me in that you can openly—to a welcoming group of fellow individuals, admit that even though you harbor disdain for him now, you once were on that Band Wagon, you once liked Dane Cook, then you’ll understand what I’m going to be getting at.

In the bathroom of where I work is a framed copy of an old newspaper cover page from 1898. Every time I go in there and…well, do what I do, I stare at it and read the main story.
Over and over and over again this happens, as can be deduced…and every time I stand there, with a bit more than just time in my hands, I read through the Headline and I always find myself frustrated with how it’s written.
Here it is below:

Dewey's Victory

And here’s why I get frustrated, because when I read it, my thoughts usually flow something like this:

DEWEY’S VICTORY
Not a serious casualty sustained in destroying the spanish fleet.
(Okay, other than that word “destroying,” there wasn’t any serious casualties. Must’ve been a peaceful resolution…)

And then I get down to the forth sub-line:

Spanish lost eleven ships and 300 men killed and 600 men wounded.
(GAH! Those are what I would call “SERIOUS CASUALTIES!”)

If you’re going to say there wasn’t a serious casualty sustained, then I’m gonna assume that means across the board. If you wish to convey that you mean specifically, “our side,” then include that. “Not a serious AMERICAN casualty sustained in destroying the Spanish fleet.”
Makes more sense to me reading it.
The meaning is clear, and right there, conveyed in the text.

Now I know what you might say, “Christian, it’s implied in it sayingdestroying the Spanish fleet. See, the Spanish fleet is destroyed, which obviously means casualties on their side.”
But then, that means you and I have differing opinions about grammar articles and the use of “definite” over “indefinite” articles. And we can debate back and forth and get all muddled up in the rules, and use the text to help affirm the rule we stand by, rather than simply looking at the text, and using it to formulate the rule…

Hopefully by now you’re guessing that I’m probably talking about more than just this old newspaper article that I—in the long run could care less about, but find useful in outlining a deeper problem.

You see, there’s this little word that pops up throughout the Bible that’s been quite a problem for many. And that word—as the title of this post might suggest, is ALL. Now, I never really took grammar in High School (as much of my writing more than likely suggests), but I’ve done a decent go-round looking up everything from grammatical articles to indefinite pronouns to quantifiers, all in hopes of really coming to some sort of well rounded understanding of that word…
all.
And–if you fancy, HERE is just one of the great sites I found that helps both in understanding the usage, and solidifying my point.

The thing is, I’m not really wishing to argue that my point is right, or that my way of viewing the text, or my rules are the right ones.
And while I may know a lot more than I did before about all those things—while I may have gleaned some ability to aptly argue my point that many people see the use of “all” in certain Scripture passages as a partitive article, or a mere Universal indefinite pronoun that doesn’t really mean all just like when you say “everybody had some pie” you don’t really mean everybody in existence; what’s clear is that it seems we’re all just arguing the choice of rule rather than the text. You’re not arguing that the Bible’s use of the word ALL doesn’t mean all, you’re arguing that your chosen rule of definition is right in defining the Bible’s use of the word all.

So I don’t want to do that.

Because that’s not what I’m arguing.
That’s not even what I’m saying.

Because I think the problem isn’t whether or not which one of us takes the Bible literally, but that I don’t think any of us take the Bible literally enough.

Because I’m not arguing that my rule for understanding the Bible’s use of the word “all” is the right way of understanding/interpreting the text, but that I think maybe we should let the text define our rules.

I’m saying that I believe the story should dictate what we think and how we formulate our thoughts and our very existence, not used as proof that how we’re already thinking, how we’ve already formulated our thoughts, and how we already believe to be our existence is right.

Which brings me back to Dane Cook.

And this bit:

See the thing is, when it comes to stories that are outside ourselves, we don’t really have any way of knowing whether or not what is said is what is. We believe there can’t have been 1000 firefighters in one street, or someone took a hundred hour nap because our logic and our experience and our philosophies and our theologies and dogmas and rules say that it just isn’t feasible—it’s just not possible.
So passages like Isaiah 45:22-23 (and it’s parallels: Rom. 14:11, Phil. 2:10) are read, where it says things like EVERY tongue will swear allegiance, or John 12:32 where Jesus says that on the Cross is where He will draw ALL to himself, or Rom. 5:18, Rom. 11:32, 1 Cor. 15:22, Col. 1:20, and so on, (For more on this subject and all the references, here’s some reading) and then argue how–like 1000 firefighters or a hundred hour nap or not a [single] serious casualty sustained in destruction, it’s just not possible to mean ALL.
And you argue about context and implication, and when and what and why and how “all” literally means “ALL” and when it means “some things” or “only the new things, the saved things, the things that have chosen…wisely.”
Decision Monk

But then…you’re not arguing the text.
You’re arguing your rules.

You’re not arguing THE LOGOS (The Logic—the Word, made Flesh and dwelt among us).
You’re arguing YOUR logos, your logic.

It’s impossible to have 1000 firefighters on one street or take a 100 hour nap or for God to restore, redeem, reconcile ALL things, ALL men, ALL. Everyone.
But.

With God, ALL THINGS are possible.

And now you have to further ask yourself, what’s your definition and rule about this use of ALL? Matt. 19: 26, Luke 1: 38, Cause this–like your definition and rule of the other uses of ALL will make or break your definition and rule about God.
And now you see that how you “choose” what the definition of ALL (in the Bible) means, shapes just what kind of God you may “choose” to follow.

Does “ALL THINGS are possible for Godnot really mean ALL THINGS?
Well then God isn’t Sovereign.

Does the redemption of ALL THINGS, the restoration of ALL THINGS, the reconciliation of ALL THINGS (Yes, even Dane Cook) not really mean that ALL THINGS will be redeemed, restored, reconciled?
Well then God isn’t Love.

But if we take the Bible more literally than it seems we do, if the story means–literally, ALL THINGS; then God IS Sovereign, for *literally* ALL THINGS are possible for God. And God IS Love. For *literally*, God WILL (and–by Jesus, HAS) redeem ALL THINGS, restore ALL THINGS, reconcile ALL THINGS.

And while Dewey’s Victory may contain the implication that the Spanish fleet looses 11 ships and 900 men are either dead or seriously injured, God’s Victory is not the same as any of man’s victories.

And so then the question is this:

What does it look like when God is Victorious?

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The Fresh Fruit Diet

In lieu of a certain peaked curiosity elicited by my blip about this chapter in my book, I’ve decided to give a short blog post containing excerpts from the chapter, blips about the themes discussed, an outline of ideas and conclusions, and just where I gleaned what I have about judgment, ours and Gods, and what was going on in the garden.
Here it is:

There’s always this same humorous reaction that people give me when I’ve tried to explain to them that—according to the Bible, mankind (nor, in fact, animalkind for that matter) was not originally created to eat meat, but rather: fresh fruit. There’s this sort of disconcerting demeanor until I tell them to get out their books and look it up.

It’s true.

Meat was not “given” by God as something to eat until after the flood; all the way in chapter 9 (v.3).

Cue “Mind Blown.”

mind. blown.

When in all fact, the only mention of food for mankind—up until that point, is found in verse 29 of the first chapter of Genesis. Here God instructs both the man and woman (take note of that as it’ll play a part in the whole “complimentarian”/“egalitarian” bit later on…) that they have been given “every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it,” for food.

Here’s the thing that stands out to me about this, and it is not that we should go back to eating raw fresh fruit only, cause that may lead to some unwanted consequences…

But that—within the given “command” is an unspoken negation that I think we tend to look over. If every seed bearing plant and every tree with fruit that has seed in it is good for food, then every plant that isn’t seed bearing and every tree that has fruit without seed is not good to eat.
I’ve heard it put best with this explanation that Adam and Eve effectively became “fruit inspectors.” They interacted with what was provided for them, inspecting each to see if it bore seed or didn’t.

See it was then that they had both a free will, and a good free will—for they only wanted to good, namely, seed bearing food, but were free to interact and choose the good. Yes, given in the command is also a judgment—that only seed bearing plants and fruits are good for food (given by God), but that same judgment was wired into them. They only wanted the good, because they trusted the judgment, and so they too looked, “inspected” and—in effect, judged which were seed bearing and which weren’t.

And this–if I had to state it, would be where the most concise expression of the overarching idea of this chapter is” that I believe we were made to judge from the moment we were created. I believe it was wired into our being. I believe (as was stated by a man far more articulate and brilliant than me) that originally, we had a free will, yes, but it was a good free will.

Every judgment made was a free choice that only desired the good. I believe that after the fall, this judgment was corrupted and tainted, because we gained an intimate knowledge of both good and evil–note, NOT good from evil. Now our judgment is screwed up. And the only solution is to do what we were originally wired to do: trust God’s judgment, not our own.

Mind.
Blown.

mind. blown.

This is just a “taste” of what I get into in “The Fresh Fruit Diet” chapter. The implications of what I’ve read (and this point in itself) are vast, and this is something only a big chapter in a book can get into, including the following:

***The serpent asks if God said the man and the woman can’t eat from ANY tree. This line of questioning leads directly to their interaction, their fruit inspection job, their own judgments about which is good and which isn’t to eat, given God’s command. See, the serpent wasn’t questioning the prohibition of the one tree, but specifically the judgment of God on that tree. Making man’s judgment seem greater than God’s. That is, if Adam and Eve weren’t to even go near it, it meant that they were to trust God’s judgment that this tree’s fruit had no seeds, it was not good (at least for them). They had to trust that judgment without making their own. They had to trust without “inspecting” it for themselves. The serpent dared them to “inspect” for themselves. See whether or not God was lying.
And what was the fruit but “pleasing to the eye”? What else could this random description mean given the context except that—upon inspection, this fruit may have indeed seemed to have seeds?

***We tend to read and assume that the serpent stated that we would know—intimately (yada) good and evil, as distinct. And that is where the idea that “judgment” came into being. That we would know good from evil.
Yet there’s no distinction or distinguishing between the two—Good and Evil. We tend to see it that through the fall, through the eating of the forbidden fruit, we’d be able to know good, and separately know evil, mutually exclusive. This isn’t stated by the serpent nor by God later in Gen. 3 that the consequence of breaking God’s command has imbued us with the ability to categorize good and evil separately, good from evil—judgment, BUT RATHER, we would “yada” (know intimately, based on experience, relationally) BOTH GOOD AND EVIL. Which we now do.

***Eve is always portrayed as making stuff up.
Stupid woman. She was deceived because she was silly and ignorant and childish and naïve. She added commands to what God had originally instructed Adam. This is what happens when you let a woman in charge…
all that bullshit.
Really, Eve displays a coherent knowledge and the text expresses her own personal relation with God. She makes a clear statement of their charge, and a declarative statement of what God said to them both: they are both to not eat, and not touch it (that is, inspect it).
Adam was told that there was only one tree that had fruit that was not given by permission. God did not say the location of the tree but that would not have been needed since Adam was there when God created and named the trees including the tree at the center of the garden. While these trees were created after Adam was placed in the garden, the woman was not there to see the creation of the trees. She was the one who needed to know where this special tree was located.
The woman identifies that the location of the tree was given to her by the words of God. It is her testimony that “God has said,” not “the man told me that God said.”

Aaand more!
Hope this clears some things up—or at least opens minds up for discussion, thought, your own pursuit, etc. But if even some of these notes are unclear, or—you wish to discuss some of the points (or the main point) leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.

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I’m Writing a Book (pt. 3)

In case you still don’t know, I’m slowly writing a book about (read: loosely about) arriving at a theological foundation that is both revolutionary and yet entirely familiar, or rather nothing new and something close to the heart of many (if not all) regardless of spiritual and religious self (or otherwise) affiliation. It will include how being in and out of Seminary has helped firmly root just what is and isn’t real.
Just what is and isn’t truth.
Just what is and isn’t gospel, love, all things at the core of EVERYTHING.

Here are a few of the tentative chapter titles and a brief synopsis of each:

Chapter 1: It Really All Starts With a Good Foundation (For Makeup, and Everything Else)
A very concise breakdown of beliefs OR….I’ll nix this altogether in favor of a clearer set of parameters about creation and a true understanding of things…

Chapter 2: Makeup in the Hands of an Angry God
See HERE.

Chapter …? : The Fresh Fruit Diet
On judgment and how it’s actually wired into our nature prior to the fall (given Genesis) but how it got screwed up.

Chapter …? : Rock Bottom is the New Black
There’s quite a few people in this world who—and God bless ’em, have experienced their “rock bottom,” their moment when they’ve hit the lowest point of their lives and have learned from it, grown from it, and are all around better for it. I, however, am one of the other sorts who can’t admit they’ve had a “rock bottom”, but rather, too many rock bottoms. So many so, that I could hope to say that it’s just because Rock bottom is so in vogue right now that I’m only keeping up with the latest trends…

Chapter …? : Your Body is a Wonderland
This is where I talk about Sex. My own, my sexual “awakening,” and just how far both the American and Evangelical culture take it so that it’s really become the new God. Whether you agree or not, the sacredness, hallowedness, fear of crossing this line (or blatant celebration in doing so) has become such a staple that Sex is–in fact, the American God. You either worship it by doing it, or worship it by putting it in a holy of holy’s with laws around it making sure only certain few can enter it.

Chapter …? : Gonna Need More Cow Bell!
On the rhythm of everything…the romance. It isn’t a formula, it’s an ebb and flow. How not just love is a song–and has a rhythm, but everything does. On “Logos” and how it not only means reason and logic, and meaning and plot, but also rhythm.
So there I was…Killing them softly with my song. Or rather, being killed, and not that softly either.” – Hugh Grant, About a Boy

Chapter …? : You can’t spell a Prodigal Without Prada
Everything I’ve learned–more and more about the Prodigal and how it makes everything click. On how God’s grace for ALL makes evangelism “slaving” to those who feel it’s their duty to do so. And, how calling a christian an “older prodigal” can be one of the most insulting things you can say.

Chapter …? : “My God. What is that smell? That’s the Smell of Desire, Milady.”
The woman in Luke that broke her perfume, cried at Jesus’ feet, and went away free, forgiven. Not because she was repentant, but because she was accepted. She was free to “sin no more” because she was forgiven, not forgiven on the condition that she tries really hard to “sin no more.” On how revolutionary forgiveness of life was at the time, how it translates now to love and acceptance, and how the “followers” of Jesus were given that same revolutionary authority–not to go out and tell people that if they do the right thing they’re forgiven, that they have the ability to come to the cross and be forgiven, but it’s their choice, but that–they ARE FORGIVEN, regardless of their choosing, and it’s that FORGIVENESS that frees them to do the right thing.

Chapter …? : The Good, The Bad, and The Nothing
On the kid’s story “The Fire Cat,” and how I really am “Good for nothing,” which is to say I’m good.
But for nothing.
Which is to say, I’m not bad, but I’m not good for anything that I can bring.
All this is mixed together with God’s sovereignty, and how in a world and realm of grace, a realm Joseph and his Coat lived in, there is no need for forgiveness because actions–both good and bad, are used by God. Thus, there are good actions, bad actions, and actions that are nothing. And which are really the “bad” actions? The “bad” ones as we define them, or the actions that are “Nothing” actions, which don’t bring about anything? Create anything, are nothing compared to God’s everything?

Chapter …? : Shaving Off Hell
On which I bring up…Hell. And how I got into a discussion about Matisyahu shaving off his beard and its implications contrasted with a Christian “shaving off Hell” and its implications…

Chapter …? : I’m Sure Somebody Loved Hitler, But…
On Love…Hitler…and Roald Dahl…

Chapter …? : ALL Things In the Men’s Room
Is All things REALLY ALL THINGS? There’s a poster hanging in the men’s room of the coffee shop that I work that reads “DEWEY’S VICTORY: NOT A SINGLE CASUALTY SUSTAINED IN DESTROYING THE SPANISH FLEET.” Then goes on to discuss how the Spanish lost 300 ships and 600 men. Are we off about what we mean with all, none, etc? How does 600 men dead translate to “NOT A SINGLE CASUALTY?” How does “Behold, I’m making ALL THINGS new” translate to only those that are saved being the ones made new?

More may come, but any feedback, thoughts, interest, encouragement, etc, are greatly appreciated. Lemmie know in the comment section below and/or on Facebook!

**Also, Perfume and Prodigals may just be the two biggest chapters in this book, as they have everything I have to say…which may or may not be enough in and of themselves for a book. Not to mention “Perfume and Prodigals” has a catchy ring to it…
anyway, in the event that you fancy just what I have to say on these matters, lemmie know and I’ll get you all the notes compiled over the past year or so on each.

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