Tuesday, December 20, 2016

series review: One Week Friends

Yuki Hase has notice that a girl in his class, Kaori Fujimiya, spends a lot of time alone and has no friends, so he decides to try to become friends with her, and with a little persistence after an initial refusal, a bit of a friendship develops between them. But as the school week ends, Kaori tells him the reason why she doesn't really want to be friends with anyone. She suffers from a strange form of amnesia. For a past few years, every Monday morning when she wakes up she has lost all memories from the week before of her friends and any time she has spent with them. Hase isn't sure if this is true, until he meets her at school on Monday and sees that she really has no idea of who he is, and he has to start over again in winning her friendship.

A few weeks go by, and with the help of a couple of other friends, Kaori begins to open up around others in the class, making new friends, and her memory seem to be improving. Then someone who knew her when they were children shows up again, and seems to be angry with her for some strange reason. Meeting him causes her memory problems to relapse, and she again forgets who Hase and her other friends are. Fighting discouragement, Hase continues to try to help Kaori, and he eventually finally learns what really happened on the day that Kaori's memory problems began.

Friends of Friends
A special mention should be made of the two friends of the main characters, Shogo Kiryu and Sagi Yamagishi, whom I respectively and affectionately think of as The Vulcan and The Space Cadet. Shogo is a friend of Hase's when the series begin, and his serious and logical demeanor provides some support for Hase's more up-and-down temperament. Sagi is a girl who shows up a few episodes in, and her own more conventional forgetfulness, laid-back personality, and occasional ignoring of other's personal space does give the anime some light-hearted moments.

Love is...
I don't want to go too far in comparing Hase's concern for Kaori to what the Bible says about love in I Corinthians 13, but a bit of a look might be good. And just to be clear, I'm not using “love” here in the strictly romantic sense, but more for a concern for another person's good.

For example, let's take “love is patient and kind”. There are times when Hase displays these things very well. He tries to be very understand of Kaori's difficulties, both with her memories and with the problems that can cause other people. He is the one who suggests that she start keeping a diary that she can read to remind herself of what she's forgotten, and even spend considerable time and effort trying to find it for her when she has lost it and forgotten about it.

On the other hand, he has bouts of jealousy, too. He wants Kaori to be like a normal student with lots of other friends, but as she begins to make these new friends, he begins to fear that his friendship with her is becoming less special. This jealousy causes a bit of conflict early on between them.

Or look at where I Corinthians 13 says that love bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things, and then look at the last couple of episodes, where they learn what happened to Kaori as a child that caused her memory to be bonkers. At this point, Hase stumbles a little, as he gives in to a fear that somehow him being close to Kaori might hurt her and lead to a return of her memory problems. This does get corrected, and the series ends on a nice, satisfying note.

Anime doesn't have the best of reputations when it comes to hot it handles these kind of stories, and to be fair, the problems are often too real. Gratuitous fan service, hyper-sexualizing characters who are little more then children, annoying harems, and other tropes are far too common and far too distasteful.

So, it's good to say that such things are absent from this series. Instead of relying on those things, this series has a solid story with believable and sympathetic characters. True, Kaori's amnesia does seem contrived, though I know mental problems can be very tricky so I can't say this kind of thing has never happened, but if you can suspend you disbelief concerning her memory problems, then I think you'll have few other problems.

I give this series a very strong recommendation.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

a bit of music: Solar Fields, Cobalt 2.5

Don't know if I'm ready to say this is better than the original Cobalt, which I like a lot, but it's still good. Enjoy.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Lunacy in Writing: Stop telling a story, you storyteller

If you've tried to write a story and have let be evaluated, you've likely been hit with the chestnut of advice, “Show, don't tell”. The use of this bit of advice can become so extreme that you might need to fight back the temptation to tell the people saying this to you that, if they really want to be shown the story, they should put down the book and go watch the movie.

Now, I've no doubt there is a time and place for this advice. There are times when “Tom watched a scary movie” needs something more, like “Tom sat on the couch, his eyes wide and fixed on the television, as the movie monster stalked its next victim through the dark, fog-filled forest.”

But I also think this advice can be given wrongly, too.

One way is by insisting on needless physical descriptions when something plain and basic could work just as well. For example, take the phrase “She felt nervous”. Maybe not a great sentence, but functional, and even appropriate in some situations. But “show, don't tell” people would insist on being shown her nervousness, by having writers tell about sweating palms, twitching eyes, stammering speech, or any of the other many manifestations of nervousness a person might have.

And there will be times when such descriptions are good, too, when they actually do add something to the story. Maybe when she is nervous, she starts lisping, and that lisp plays a part in the story. Or maybe her eyes do start twitching, and that affects her vision when she gets nervous, and that's important to the story.

But to just go into such physical descriptions, without any good reason relevant to the story, simply doesn't seem smart. Why insist on mentioning sweating palms or some other nervous twitches when they are not important? If saying “She felt nervous” will tell us all we need to know, then it seems like that should be enough.

Another way gets back to the bit of sarcasm in the first paragraph, the one about those who want to be shown a story should watch the movie. That was facetious, yes, but it does point to the idea that it seems like “show, don't tell” insists that all the elements and events in the story should involve only how character's act or say, with some room for scene descriptions thrown in.

But that's not how good story writing works. Reading a story is not the same as watching one, either on TV or in a movie. Each has it's own strengths and weaknesses, and one of the big strengths of writing is that it allows the reader to get into the heads of the characters, to see their thoughts and motivations.

Again, let's take “She was nervous”. While going into physical descriptions might be helpful, there may be other information that would be good to know, too, that can't be conveyed by physical actions alone. “She stood five feet from the cliff's edge, too nervous to walk any closer, feeling dizzy even this close to the long fall”. “She knew it was silly and childish, but she still felt nervous when she saw him him walking over to her table, hoping he would remember it was her birthday”. We start to understand her a little better this way.

A few months ago, I got the CD discs for the series Building Great Sentences by Brooks Landon, from Great Courses, and I think listening to that series has helped me understand better what might really be behind “show, don't tell”. It's the idea that we should be more descriptive in our writing, going into greater details, skillfully adding necessary information to our stories and writing. Landon would likely put it differently then I have here, and goes more into methods and mechanics and I would greatly recommend his lectures as being very helpful. While I'm not so sure that longer sentences are always is needed, especially some of the rambling ones Landon mentions at times, it does seem like that notion of making longer sentences to give the reader more information is pointing in the right direction.

Friday, December 2, 2016

YWAM's Fortune Cookie Bible: Example 1

This is part of a booklet I've been working on, concerning what I think is a very silly way of "hearing God's voice" taught and encouraged in YWAM. This is one example I've found of it in their writings, and I try to explain why it's unsound. Hopefully, the booklet itself will be finished and available sometime soon.

Example 1

The context of this account is that Joy Dawson's son, John, has joined YWAM, and while working at one base has noticed one of the girls there. There came a time when John asked his parents to pray about the relationship, which all other things being equal I would have considered a wise thing for him to do. But the questionable part is what Joy Dawson writes about the supposed confirmation.

“It was several weeks before we were able to contact John again. When we did, I said to him, “You’ll need to fasten your seat belt while I tell you how and what God spoke to me.” I shared that I had simply asked God, “Is John to pursue Julie in a serious friendship?” God spoke into my mind, “Turn to Second Kings, chapter fourteen.” I hadn’t a clue what was in that chapter until I looked it up and found verse nine, “Give your daughter to my son for a wife.” Wow! I could hardly believe my eyes.” Forever Ruined for the Ordinary (Kindle Locations 301-305, section 2)

Here is the context of that phrase.

II Kings 14
In the second year of Joash the son of Joahaz, king of Israel, Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jehoaddin of Jerusalem. 3 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, yet not like David his father. He did in all things as Joash his father had done. 4 But the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. 5And as soon as the royal power was firmly in his hand, he struck down his servants who had struck down the king his father. 6 But he did not put to death the children of the murderers, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, where the LORD commanded, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. But each one shall die for his own sin.”

7 He struck down ten thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt and took Sela by storm, and called it Joktheel, which is its name to this day.

8 Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz, son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, “Come, let us look one another in the face.” 9 And Jehoash king of Israel sent word to Amaziah king of Judah, “A thistle on Lebanon sent to a cedar on Lebanon, saying, ‘Give your daughter to my son for a wife,’ and a wild beast of Lebanon passed by and trampled down the thistle. 10 You have indeed struck down Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Be content with your glory, and stay at home, for why should you provoke trouble so that you fall, you and Judah with you?”

11 But Amaziah would not listen. So Jehoash king of Israel went up, and he and Amaziah king of Judah faced one another in battle at Beth-shemesh, which belongs to Judah. 12 And Judah was defeated by Israel, and every man fled to his home. 13 And Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash, son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh, and came to Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem for four hundred cubits, from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate. 14 And he seized all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the LORD and in the treasuries of the king's house, also hostages, and he returned to Samaria.

15 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash that he did, and his might, and how he fought with Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 16 And Jehoash slept with his fathers and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel, and Jeroboam his son reigned in his place.

17 Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, lived fifteen years after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz, king of Israel. 18 Now the rest of the deeds of Amaziah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 19 And they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish. But they sent after him to Lachish and put him to death there. 20 And they brought him on horses; and he was buried in Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David. 21 And all the people of Judah took Azariah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah. 22 He built Elath and restored it to Judah, after the king slept with his fathers.

This account is about Amaziah, a man who appears to have been a decent king of Judah, but who let some success on the battlefield get to his head. After soundly defeating the Edomites, He challenged the King of Israel, Jehoash, to battle, and got the reply in the form of a small story, which is where we find the phrase Dawson singles out.

“A thistle on Lebanon sent to a cedar on Lebanon, saying, ‘Give your daughter to my son for a wife,’ and a wild beast of Lebanon passed by and trampled down the thistle. 10 You have indeed struck down Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Be content with your glory, and stay at home, for why should you provoke trouble so that you fall, you and Judah with you?”

So, Jehoash compares Amaziah's challenge to be like a thistle giving orders to a cedar tree, trying to tell it what to do, in this case give the thistle a daughter to marry. But the thistle is a weak plant, and a beast can come along and stomp it down. Jehoash is essentially mocking Amaziah, telling him that he's weak and in no position to order Jehoash to do anything. And when it finally does come to battle, Jehoash backs up his boast and defeats Amaziah.

Joy Dawson's use of this phrase is atrociously bad. She ignores the passage as a whole, ignores the immediate context of Jehoash's reply, and even ignores the small story in which the phrase was given. Why, for example, did she stop with that one phrase, and ignore both parts of the rest of the story; the first part about a thistle giving orders to a cedar tree, and the last part about a wild beast coming along and trampling down the thistle?

Not only does Dawson's guidance depend upon only one phrase, but it's a phrase that is so badly taken out of context that her interpretation of it, and the advice she gives her son based on it, are essentially the opposite of what the context shows the phrase to be about.

Context is important, especially when it comes to interpreting and understanding the Bible. To take a phrase out of context, and to insist that God is giving you a message from that out-of-context phrase, is a bad idea of immense proportions.

God was not the one who gave told Joy Dawson to turn to II Kings 14. He was not the one who pointed out this completely out of context phrase to her. This passage was never intended as any form of marital advice.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

it's after Thanksgiving now, time for...

...the Star Wars Holiday Special!!!

Yes, I am very determined to prove by my sterling example that the Fall of humanity in Eden really did happen. Nothing else can explain both the existence of this thing, and my glee in sharing it.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

book review—The Physics of Heaven

How can one adequately review the sheer stupid in this book?

First, understand that I'm not a scientist, physicist, or anyone like that. But this book is less a work of science then of something pretending to be theology, and about that I think I can say a few things. Because taken as theology, there is pretty much nothing of any value that can be gained from reading this nonsense.

The account in Acts 2 of the events of Pentecost comes in for special abuse by the contributors to this book. “I began thinking about the day of Pentecost. One hundred and twenty believers were in an upper room in Jerusalem when they heard a sound like a mighty rushing wind. It wasn’t a wind, it was a sound. And when that sound ended, the thinking of those men and women was completely changed.” (p. 3). “Just as the people were in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, when suddenly there came from heaven a noise, and this noise was like a violent rushing wind, there will come again a noise that I will release from heaven.” (Introduction). “Clearly, one of the greatest revivals in human history— the vibration of heaven in Acts— set all kinds of things in motion. Why? Because, the 120 believers in the Upper Room didn’t get hung up on sound alone. They let the sound take them somewhere else, triggering all their senses to the point that they were drunk from the vibration.” (p. 102). If you read this book, you might come away thinking that the big thing that happened at Pentecost was that there was a noise. It wasn't, the big thing was that the Holy Spirit came on the people in the upper room. In Acts 8 and 10, where accounts are given of the Spirit coming on other people, no such sound is mentioned.

But to the contributors to this book, sound is pretty much all-important. “When you connect to the spirit realm, you make an alliance with that sound of heaven and all things move to that sound.” (p. 164). Funny how the Bible teaches nothing about this. “We began having prophecies in 1995 that there is a new sound coming, a new heavenly sound.” (p. 25). I don't doubt it, but considering that the person being interviewed here, Bob Jones, was a known false prophet who by his own admission got it wrong hundreds of times, I hardly see why these prophecies would be believed. “God began to teach me through this angel about sound and the power of the spoken word. He said that because God spoke His creative will, man can also speak words that create.” (p. 92). Huh? Really? Where is that in the Bible? “I later met a man God had taken to heaven and shown how to produce four dimensional objects with sound. This man told me he has used sound to project a house that is two and a half inches square and is three dimensional so you can walk around and look inside the windows.” (p. 91). Funny how Pierce doesn't give the man's name, and not even a google search shows any info about this supposed feat.

Some have tried to defend this book by pointing out that one contributor, David Van Koevering, is a scientist. Maybe, but in this book, he isn't writing as a scientist, but as a theologian, and a rubbish one at that. “This Scripture makes sense only when you understand it at the atomic and subatomic level.” (p. 135). Well, that just puts paid to a couple of thousand years of Church history. What did those idiots like Irenaeus, Augustine, Luther, and Calvin know? “The spiritual realm operates above the speed of light.” (p. 136). Says the Bible nowhere. “When man fell, the speed of light slowed down.” (p. 136). Ditto. “Understand that your healing or miracle is within the next nanosecond! In the blink of a nanosecond, He can cause your healing. Observe your healing, your miracle, your deliverance, and be filled with all Truth by observing the future God has for you. Take that quantum leap!” (p. 139). Well, he's sure got the faith-healer schtick down pat, doesn't he? “Have you fixed your past? Have you removed all curses? Have you blessed the things you own? Have you blessed your house, office, car, belongings, money, computer, and phone? Are those things and places free from your past actions, words, and thoughts? You or someone else can speak a blessing or curse on your things. Somebody is about to take a quantum leap!” (pp. 142-143). Umm...dude, here's a hint, just between you and me. Tacking the phrase “quantum leap” onto everything doesn't make unbiblical ideas an better. You have no business being any kind of Christian teacher, because what you're teaching isn't at all biblical, it's just some junk you've made up.

Then, there is Bill Johnson, who is always good for some unbiblical nonsense. “Our role in shaping the world around us through creative expression is never more at the forefront than when we joyfully learn to pull tomorrow into today. God trains us for this role whenever He speaks to us, for in doing so He is working to awaken and establish our affections for His kingdom.” (p. 171). Yeah, calling tomorrow into today, whatever that means, is never taught in the Bible. “If you can see God’s coming future promises, and He hasn’t blinded your eyes to His intent, then He is hoping to hook you into the role of calling “into being that which does not exist.””(p. 178). Nowhere in the Bible are we told to call things into being, that is a pretty silly misreading of a verse that talks about God calling things into being. “There are anointings, mantles, revelations, and mysteries that have lain unclaimed, literally where they were left, because the generation that walked in them never passed them on.” (pp. 30-31). Read or listen to NAR types long enough, and you'll conclude that they are addicted to anointings, mantles, revelations, and such stuff. They are constantly passing them along, saying they are getting them or giving them away, et al. And as you may guess, none of it is biblical.

And that brings up what this book is really about, the NAR and their version of dominionism. They want to rule the world, and they have latched onto quantum physics as a way of justifying certain aspects of their rubbish theology, like how they think they are the ones who can call things into existence, or that vibrations somehow mean that their words have supernatural power.

Finally, if nothing else shows just how stupid this book is, check out this statement. “The four universal elements are water, wind, fire, and earth.” (p. 67). Yes, he's being very serious.

This book is junk. There are so many much betters works of both physics and theology out there, and it's simply sad that a bunch of so-called church leaders wrote this work of utter stupidity.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

non-PC excerpt--The Butcher, the Baker, and the Coffee Makers

This is an excerpt from the middle of the book, so there will be characters in it who weren't in the excerpt posted earlier.

"Oh, boy, this could get interesting!" She muttered to herself, then took the role of leading the discussion. "Mary, could you read that first question to us."

"Sure. Let me see... "What are some good ways we as a church can show a loving welcome to those who are involved in alternative lifestyles". Wow, that's quite the question."

"So, any thoughts."

As expected, it was Cindi who took up the gauntlet. "Well, I think this definitely is a step in the right direction. A church should be a place where everyone is welcomed and accepted, and not just put up with. We need to be just as welcoming to the gay couple as we are to the family with five children, maybe even more so, since the gay couple isn't overpopulating the planet."

Tony was nodding his head with vigor. "I agree, I agree, and I'd go further. While I appreciate this as a good first step, the church really needs to get with the times, and finally accept and embrace any form of love that two or more people have for each other. God is love, and where there is love, God is there, and as someone who knows several gay people in college and knows that they truly love each other, I cannot with a clear conscience condemn their love and the expressions of their love for each other."

"So what are you saying?" Naomi asked him.

"I'm saying that if this church wants to truly have a loving welcome to those in alternative lifestyles, it needs to do more than just adopt a version of the "don't ask don't tell" policy. It needs to see the gay couple, or the group of bisexual lovers, as being just as much a family as the hetero couple. It needs to lose the language of sin in regards to outdated sexual taboos, and see that the Bible nowhere condemns the loving and caring expressions of love between consenting adults. Homosexuality itself is never condemned in the Bible, only unhealthy forms of domination in any sexual practice."

"That is wrong." Bob interrupted. "When the Bible speaks about any such sexual practices, it always says they are wrong."

Tony wasn't going to back down. "There are only like, what, six or seven verses in the Bible that deal with homosexuality? And Jesus never said anything about it, so it's hardly that big of an issue."

Naomi knew already that Bob wasn't one to shy from a confrontation. "There are very few verses that deal with many important issues. If we're staying in the realm of sexual issues, how many verses deal with sex with animals? Not a whole lot, but they are there, and are you going to say that it isn't a big issue nowadays simply because nothing is recorded of Jesus saying anything about it? And there are few verses concerning parents having sex with their children, or vice versa, but are you going to say that practice is ok now simply because it's not something addressed in every other chapter of the Bible?

"And you're wrong, again. Jesus plainly said that in the beginning, they were to be husband and wife, male and female. The overall teaching of the Bible is that marriage is between men and women. The closest you can come to any divergence from that is that polygamy was an accepted practice in Israel during the Old Testament times.

"But even granting the complication of polygamy, at not time was any form of same-sex practices ever accepted in the Bible. And there are liberal theologians who know that the Bible cannot be used to support their own acceptance of such practices, so they have to come up with their own ideas to somehow make it seem like God is more accepting of such things nowadays."

Tony was pretty mad, and Naomi wasn't sure she blamed him. Not that she disagreed with Bob, but he spoke rather bluntly on the matter. But before she could say anything, Evan asked, "So, how should we welcome people in such alternative lifestyles?"

"The same way we welcome all people. It doesn't matter that their sins might be sexual, or greed, or lying, or any others, Christ died so that they can be forgiven of those sins through repentance and faith in Him."

Evan nodded in a thoughtful matter, but Cindi now jumped in again. "Don't talk to us about sin." her face was contorted in an ugly manner. "How dare you try to put on a holier-than-thou act!"

"I'm not." Bob was getting a bit heated, too, though he was trying to stay calm. "I am a sinner, it was for my sins that Christ died. I am not holier-than-thou, I am well aware of my fallen state and sinful nature, that I am the vilest sinner that I know of, and if Christ can save me, he can save anyone."

Her head set in a haughty manner, Cindi replied. "It's such a shame when you use your religion to hurt people. You should feel ashamed of yourself, because all you see in your religion is a bunch of Thou Shalt Nots, and all you end up doing in hurting a bunch of good, caring, loving people, who want nothing more than to live in the love that they have for each other. They aren't doing you any harm, they aren't demanding that you stop loving women, all they want is for you to love and accept them as they are, as God made them, as they have no choice but being. You're not better than those stupid bigots back in the sixties, saying white people shouldn't marry black people."

For the first time in the few weeks she'd known Bob, Naomi heard real anger in his voice. "You are the one who is not showing them real love, ma'am. You are the one who is telling them that their sinful sexual choices are acceptable to God, a lie that leads them to believe in a false god, and will ultimately lead them to Hell. You are the one who is really and ultimately hurting them. You are not showing them godly love, you are simply showing them politically correct cowardice."

"And your analogy to racism is absolutely ludicrous." Evan jumped in with some heat in his voice. "Skin color is nowhere near the same thing as choices concerning sexual activities. There are many black people who resent how gays have tried to use the civil rights movement to justify their immorality, and are comparing their sin to our skin."

"Guys, guys, we're all friends here." This discussion was threatening to get out of hand, and Naomi was afraid it would cross some serious lines, and might even come to look bad on her. "I think we can discuss this without insulting each other."

"I doubt that." Evan muttered. " I agree with Bob. I hope this church makes gay people welcomed, just like a church should make thieves, liars, porn watchers, and all sinners welcomed. They should be welcomed, but not made comfortable in their sins. Bob has said nothing that any Christian through the past couple of thousand years wouldn't agree with."

"This isn't two thousand years ago, it's now." Tony obviously wasn't ready to concede anything. "Whatever backwards views of sexuality they had in ancient times, I hope it can be expected that we have advanced beyond those homophobic morals. If this church wishes to succeed and grow, it will have to change with the times, it will have to not only welcome, but accept and celebrate all forms of caring, loving relationships, no matter how those relationships may violate the church's arcane and outdated moral codes.

"People like you have been around the past two thousand years." Bob said. "You've been wrong all that time, and you, sir, are wrong now. The church is not a bull horn by which the world proclaims what it has declared right and wrong. The church does not echo the world, but speaks the Word of God as God has given to us in the Scriptures. The commands against homosexuality are no more outdated then the commands against murder, adultery, or theft.

"If Lanover Church wishes to grow in godliness and holiness, it will not hold the opinions of the world over the commands of God. It will speak the Gospel, telling sinners of their sins, including homosexuality, and telling them that even for those sins, Christ died. If it does not do those things, if it accepts the world's twisted moral codes or even tries to play nice by remaining silent, then it will have lost any notion of being a Christian church, and the anathema should be pronounced over it."

a bit of music: bluegrass Thriller by Honeywagon

Saturday, November 5, 2016

lunacy in writing: “to be” is not to be?

Apparently, I've not been keeping up so well with the latest trends in writing.

Apparently, in the not so distant past, the foremost grammarians of the English-speaking world gathered upon some rocky, craggy, storm-wracked island in the middle of the ocean, thousands of miles from any contaminating outside influence, where with grim visages and grim grimoires they discussed amongst their privileged few the ultimate and absolute answer to that grim and troubling question proffered by the great English playwrite centuries ago, spilling red ink like blood upon the that fabled and mysterious altar of the proofreading editor, and finally with grim and absolute certainty and with authority like unto Moses coming down from Mt. Sinai they did state that, indeed, forthwith, unto eternity future, and from this time forth and even forever more, “to be” is no longer to be.

In case, like myself, you have not heard the news, you need only look into that ultimate resource for all authority, the internet, to learn about this great proclamation. There are several sites which make the claim that they have advice which will help on write better, and maybe they are right, but they are sites which claim using “to be” verbs, words like “is” and “are” and “was”, are to be avoided because they for some reason weaken one's writing and are essentially useless.

Perhaps the best answer to this idea is something pithy, like “Bollux!” Or, more appropriately, "That is bollux!"

When this new and strange rule was recently brought to my attention, when someone in no uncertain terms said that I should never use “was” or “had”, one of my first thoughts was to check with writers who have had no small amount of success as writers, and see how their writings measured up to this rule. For example, I went to look at one of the classics, Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and looked at the first few paragraphs of that story, and saw several examples of these evil “to be” words. In fact, looking now at the first couple of paragraphs of the story, I count “was” being used 7 times, along with one time for “were”, and 3 times for “had”.

And I didn't stop with what some might call an old fuddy-duddy of a writer, either. No, I needed to look at more contemporary examples, too. Like Terry Pratchett's “Guards! Guards!”. The story opens with a small section about dragons, and in this small section, I counted 7 usages of “is” counting an “isn't” and “there's”, as well as an “are” and a “were”.

I also looked at some examples from modern popular writers, like James Patterson and Tom Clancy, and with them, too, I saw those dreaded and forbidden words being used.

Now, I know, some of the people who say that we should not use “to be” verbs are not trying to make it some kind of absolutely absolute rule. But the fact that it's even a rule is simply disturbing on all kinds of level.

"To be" verbs are among the most common words in English, and there is a reason for that—they do important work. They are humble, noble, useful words. To deny them their place, to pretend they are not important, is simply lunacy, and I will take the practices of the real writers who can skillfully use these words over the people who for whatever reasons consider them to be no longer useful.

To forbid the use of “to be” verbs, or to try to create some kind of artificial limit on how often they should be used, is hardly addressing the problem. “Is” was, is, and will never be the problem.

No doubt, “to be” verbs can be used wrongly, and that is something a writer should be wary of. But that is also the point. The problem is misuse, not use. To say that we should wholly scarp these verbs because some unidentified person somewhere at some time has determined them to be no longer needed, that they somehow weaken our writing and show laziness, is absurd.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

excerpt--The Butcher, The Baker, and The Coffee Makers

The late Thursday afternoon traffic in the city of Lexington, KY was in its usual state of chaotic motionlessness. One lane of the inner loop of New Circle Road was at a crawl, and the other lane was doing little better, because of all of the automobiles trying to get into the slower lane to reach a desired exit ramp, or trying to merge into the faster lane. Somehow, the result of all of this mess was only a couple of fender-benders and no serious injuries.

The exit ramp for Tates Creek Road was backed up to New Circle itself, which wasn't helped by a traffic light programmed to keep cars from turning onto Tates Creek for just a few seconds less than a geological age. Several drivers sat through two full cycles before they were finally able to make their turn.

After that, things got a bit easier for most of the drivers. On this day, Tates Creek had no back-ups, so the only delays were at the traffic signals.

At Brown Road, several cars turned right into a suburban maze. One of those cars was a dark brown sedan, of a foreign make known for reliability, a car no longer new though far from being an antique. This car wended through the suburban maze at a slow pace, turned right at one stop sign then left at the next, and finally stopped at the curb in front of a narrow two-story house.

The driver stepped out of the car, and immediately had to wipe the fog from his glasses. It was an early September day, but felt as if August was not yet ready to give up its fiery hold on the weather, even this late in the day. He cleaned his glasses, then turned to the house's driveway. At the open garage door, a man was setting up a grill, and he waved at the man who had just arrived. "Hey, Bob, glad you could make it."

"Hello, Nick. Wouldn't want to miss it. Here in about an hour or so, all will be right with the world."

The man at the grilled laughed. "You do take your football seriously, don't you."

"Especially now, with the season getting ready to start. I missed a lot of the past few seasons, being overseas and all, so I'm anxious to enjoy some games."

"Well, I'm getting this thing ready for the meat. We should have quite enough for everyone."

"Who all's coming?"

"Carrie and I invited some people we met at the church we've been going to, Steve and Amy Fairfax. Nice folks, a lot like us, married a bit over a year, trying to make some headway at work, stuff like that. I think you'll like them."

"No doubt."

The door at the back of the garage opened, and Nick's wife Carrie came out. "Hello, Bob."

"Carrie, hello."

Nick said, "I was just telling Bob about Steve and Amy."

"Oh, good, you haven't yet met them, have you?"


"I do hope you'll get along with them. In fact, Amy's sister Naomi is coming with them this evening. I've met her a few times, she's a sweetie. I think you'll like her, Bob."

"Oh. Maybe."

"Don't be like that, Bob. I'm not trying to set you up or anything, but if something should work out between you and her..."

It was a bit of an irritant to Bob, that his friends seemed to want to press him into dating. "We'll get along, but I'm not promising anything else."

"I know, I know. Well, I'll call Amy, and see if they're going to arrive soon. If so, you can start grilling, Nick."

"I am armed and ready, some might even say dangerous"

Carrie shook her head in mock exasperation. "I swear, Bob, put Nick in a kitchen, and he's completely lost, but put a grill in front of him, and he thinks he's all that."

"Only because I am." Nick replied with a mischievous tone.

"Anyway, I need to get back inside, and find my phone, wherever it was I last left it." Carrie walked back through the garage and into the house.

"I'm sorry about the whole thing with trying to set you up." Nick said.

"No big deal."

"You've only been back a few months, and the break-up with Darla was..."

"I'm not going to say I'm over it. We both know better than that."

"You cared for her, Bob. Heck, how long did you two date? I know it was while you were in high school with her."

"A few years." Actually, Bob had known of Darla while they were both in high school, but she had been a couple of grades behind him. He had not felt anything special towards her until the summer he'd returned home after his first year of college. He had taken her out for a couple of dates that summer, and they kept in contact over the next school year. It was after that year, with college seeming to be more and more useless to him, that Bob had enlisted into the Army. He had proposed to Darla a few days before going to boot camp. He had been in the military for five years, including over two years in Afghanistan, and Darla had gone to college. Their plans had been to marry after she graduated.

"Still, to break up with you while you were off like that..."

"Let's leave it be." The nerves over what had happened between him and the woman he'd loved were still raw, and it was difficult to talk about, especially since his own reactions were not the types of bitter diatribes many people seemed to expect. Of course, there were ill feelings and bitterness in him over it, and he struggled with them. But he didn't want those feelings to overwhelm him.

"If it helps, Naomi is about as pretty a young lady as you could hope to meet. Only the best for you, man. Well, the best after Carrie, you know."

"Of course."

The door opened again, and Carrie returned, this time carrying a tray of steaks, burgers, and brats. "They're on their way, maybe about ten more minutes, if traffic stays good."

Nick visibly livened up."Good, good. By the way, Bob, thanks for all of this food."

"Being a butcher does have its advantages." Bob worked at a place called MacCutcheon's Meat Market, and got the employee's discount.

"You're not kidding. Ah, I love the smell of barbequing meats in the evenings. Thanks, hon."

Carrie had also brought some cold cans of soda, and the friends stood and talked while the food was cooking. A few minutes later, another car pulled up in front of the house, and the rest of the party arrived.

"Hey." The man, who had to be Steve, was a lot like Nick--a bit over six feet tall, looked like he obviously spent some time in the gym, dressed in a formally casual way, professionally short hair and a smile that showed glowing, perfect teeth. The woman walking with him had to be Amy, and she was tall, tan, blonde, and dressed in some kind of short sun dress.

Now being in on what was going on, Bob couldn't help having a bit of interest in the young lady whom his friends had decided to target him with. She walked a little behind the couple, but smiled brightly at Carrie when they greeted each other.

Bob had to agree with Nick, she was quite pretty. A few years younger than her sister, maybe college age, and a couple of inches shorter. She wore her blonde hair long and tied back in a simple pony tail. "Steve, this is our friend Bob. I think we've mentioned him a few times." Nick said, pointing to Bob with the spatula.

"Yeah. Hey, I'm Steve Fairfax."

"Bob. Bob Smith."

Nick spoke up. "Bob's the one who brought the burgers and brats, so you'd best be nice to him."

"Oh, really! Yeah, I'll play nice, sure. This stuff looks good, where did you get it."

"I work at Mac's Meat Shop, one of the butchers there."

"Oh, wow, a butcher, that's cool!"

Some part of Bob's mind whispered the word "Twit", but he said nothing.

Steve kept going. "Honey, this is their friend Bob. Bob, my wife Amy, and her sister, Naomi. She's going to the university here, what year are you in?"

"Junior." The girl said with a bright voice. "Hi, you're Bob, right?"


"Happy to meet you." Bob was annoyed with himself for not being able to think of any better way to describe the girl than "bright", but it was simply an accurate description. Her blue eyes were bright and alert, her smile was bright with a hint of mischief to it, her personality was bright and sunny.

He had to admit, he was struck.

"What are you studying?" He asked, noticing that the other two couples were leaving the two of them alone.

"Social work. I want to be able to help people, you know."


"Yeah. The school year just started, so things aren't very stressful yet. If I remember, Nick said you were in the Army?"

"Yes. Spent some time overseas, in Afghanistan."

"Did you do any...fighting?"

"Some, yes. I missed the initial conflict, but did have some encounters with insurgents and other kinds of rowdies."

"So you've shot people."

"Yes." He could see her face get a troubled expression, and immediately got the impression things weren't going to go very well between them. There was no blame in him, she was simply one who didn't like to think of things like violence and killing, and his own blasé manner about his actions bothered her a little.

But Bob wasn't going to pretend to feeling badly about what he had done. Some years before, he had developed a certain mindset, based around his theological views. He knew that he was a fallen, sinful person, and that he had very real reasons to feel guilty. But he also knew that there were people who tried to create guilty feelings in others based on bad reasons, while also trying to tone down the guilt of really sinful and wicked acts.

Bob's view was that anyone who wanted to make him feel guilty had numerous ways of doing it, but that he was not going to feel guilt for things that were not wrong. Bob had shot and killed men who had been trying to kill him and his fellow soldiers. He saw no reason to feel guilty about having done those things.

"How was your summer break?" He asked, thinking it may be a more comfortable topic for the girl. She jumped at it, and for a while they talked about more normal things. Then Nick announced that the food was ready, and they all went into the house to get plates and drinks.

Pre-game programs were on the wide-screen television in the living room, and they made their way to the couch and chairs to eat and wait for the game to begin. After a bit, Steve looked over at Naomi. "Hey, have you asked Bob yet to the single's ministry meetings?"

The girl, who had been seated next to Bob on the couch, blushed a little. "No."

"You should. That's where Amy and I met, back about the time the church's size really exploded, two or three years ago. We went when the single's ministry was still new, and, well, yes, we met, and started seeing each other, and, well, the rest is history, as they say."

"Really?" Bob said.

"Yeah, you should go. Naomi will probably be there, it's a good place to go and meet people, and they have some good teachings, too. Well, I guess so, I haven't been there for a while. We've been going to the newlywed's meetings, along with the small groups we're both a part of. The single's ministry still meets Saturday evenings, right?" He asked the last of Naomi.

"Yes, at seven." She said.

"Check it out. Do you have a church, Bob?"

"I think I've found a good one, yes."

"That's fine. But take a look over at Lanover Christian, if you get the chance. We've really been growing! If nothing else, come listen to the praise band on Sunday. Man, they rock the house! And Pastor Mike is always finding great ways to make sermons interesting. He did a good series a few weeks ago, talking about spiritual lessons in movies from the past year. We even had an indoor fireworks show for the Sunday before the Fourth of July."

"Really?" Bob wasn't sure what to make of that. "Maybe I will."

 "Hey, I think they're coming to the kick-off." Nick said, and the rest of the evening was mostly devoted to enjoying the game.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

book review-- Burning Ones by Jerame Nelson

A steaming pile of pseudo-theology

The author of this book should be credited with at least this much, that he states his premise for this book right at the first, “I believe that God is raising up the Burning Ones in this hour.” (p. 15). He also calls these Burning One dread champions, for what it's worth, which isn't much, since he never tells us where the Bible tells us God is raising up these Burning Ones. No, he only tries to hammer his ideas into scriptural passages that don't teach those ideas.

Of course, to become one of these “Burning Ones”, you have to work for it, you have to earn it. “One of the marks of the dread champions will be that they will be a generation who will embrace the fire of God, not run from it. They will be those who are willing to pay the price necessary to become carriers of His glory.” (p. 71). Yep, it's all up to you. Too bad for him, though, that the Bible refutes this notion, in Galatians 3, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?” This passage puts paid to any notion that we can do any works to receive the Spirit or receive any miracle.

One of his main tactics is to use biblical passages as metaphors for his Burning Ones. He does it, for example, to some biblical descriptions of David's mighty men, claiming these descriptions are somehow applicable to his Burning Ones, when there is nothing in the Bible that supports such a view or teaching. He tries it with Deuteronomy 11, claiming that the things mentioned there are metaphors for his Burning Ones, which has no biblical support, either.

Another main tactic of his is to constantly refer to these bizarre dreams and visions he claims to have gotten from God. If anything, these things are more important for his book's teachings then anything he tries to shoehorn into the Bible. In fact, it wouldn't be unfair to say that his faith is much more in these unscriptural visions then in the scripture itself.

Of special audacity, and not in the good sense, is the last chapter. It's simply hilarious when someone peddling strange fire like he is tries to warn others of strange fire. At one point in this chapter, he wants to try to warn people of those who are “toking the ghost”, and while I can agree with his warning to some degree, he does this just after bragging about a time he was “hammered in the Spirit” (p. 206) and trying to get people to come to God by comparing God to a marijuana hit. There's an old saying about pots and kettles that seems very applicable here.

A third tactic, one pretty closely related to the second, is his constant referring to miracles he claimed happened during his ministry. My response to these claims is a complex but important one, and it follows here...

“I remember preaching in Lakeland, Florida, during the time when a revival burned through GodTV to the world known as the Florida Outpouring.” (p. 195). The Lakeland Revival was the event that spun around the person of Todd “Kicking Grandma in the Face with my Bike Boots” Bentley. One of the big elements of this “revival” was claims of healings. World Magazine did an article called Heal or Heel?, telling about when they looked into some of the claims of healings from Bentley, and got a short list of people healed. But when World investigated further, they learned that these people weren't really healed at all, that Bentley was lying.

This World Magazine article is especially relevant to the claims in this book of people being healed of cancer, because the article mentions claims by Bentley of people who were healed of cancer, but who later died of that same cancer.

Here's the truth—faith healers lie. It's been shown that Benny Hinn's healings are fake. Tricks like the fake leg-lengthening “healing” have been well-documented. The entire thing has been exposed as a falsehood, a scam to whip up enthusiasm, create followers who have tossed discernment aside, and of course make the minister filthy rich. And worse then that, people die when they think they've been told they are healed when they really aren't, something shown in the World Magazine article, but not just there. Foreign Policy Magazine did an article called Angels and Demons, which tells about how in Africa people with AIDS are dying because Pentecostal faith healers are telling them they are healed, so these people stop taking their anti-retroviral drugs.

Some people might think the title of this review is crass and too much, but it's not. This book is exactly what the title says it is. It is filled with false teachings, it is filled with twistings of biblical passages. The only place this book should be found is in a trash bin.

Monday, October 31, 2016

well, it's about time! (satire)

DC Talk Issues Formal Apology For ‘Nu Thang’

Yes, I was fine back in the day. Not the best of days. Not the days of the best of music. Remember, Christian CCM from the 90's, this is how fans of New Kids on the Block felt, too.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Erased: An Intriguing Time-Travel Preventing Murders Mystery

This review appeared at Speculative Faith, with a few changes.

I usually don't consider time travel stories among my favorites, though there are some exceptions. My favorite Discworld story is “Night Watch”, where Sam Vimes goes back to a time when Ankh-Morpork was a boiling pot of revolution. My reasons for abandoning “Doctor Who” are mostly that the series has abandoned me by pushing their social crusade—in a real sense, “Torchwood” is the reason I no longer like “Doctor Who”.

All of that to say, while I didn't start watching “Erased” because it had a time travel element in it, that element didn't drive me off, and in the context of this story it worked very well.

Satoru Fujinuma is a man in his late 20s struggling to break into the world of manga artists. Occasionally, he'll experience what he calls “revivals”, where his life will rewind itself for a few seconds or a few minutes. He's aware when this happens, and uses this time to try to prevent something bad from happening, such as in the first episode when he prevents a runaway truck from hitting a boy crossing the street. When he comes home one night to find that his mother has been murdered, he experiences a very drastic “revival”, one that sends him back to a few days before his 11th birthday. This was the winter one of his classmates, a girl named Kayo Hinazuki, went missing, and her body wasn't found until after the snows melted. His return to the past is also just before she goes missing, and thinking there may be a connection between his mother's murder and the death of his classmate and other children in the area at that same time, he tries to prevent Kayo from getting killed.

The time travel element of the “revivals” is intriguing. Satoru still possesses the mind and memories of his 29 year old self, but he's in his 10 year old body. This does cause some amusing situations, and some problems, too. For example, his older self has forgotten where he and his friends had their “secret hideout”.

But it also allows him to see things that his younger self had missed. When he notices a bruise on Kayo's leg, and then reads a composition she wrote about wanting to be alone on an island, he realizes that even before she was killed, bad things were happening to her. So his attempts to save her life also end up being attempts to get her out of an abusive home.

Btw it's the name of Kayo's composition, “Boku Dake ga Inai Machi”, that is the Japanese title of the anime and the manga it's based off of. The translations I've seen of this title go something like this, “The Town Where I Am Missing”.

Finding New Mistakes to Make
I'll try to avoid too much that might be spoiler material, but what comes next might fit that category for some people, so be warned.

Satoru's first attempt to change the past failed, and he got booted back to the present into the middle of the same predicament he had left. He does discovers that he had been able to make a few small changes, but nothing significant. Then, when he gets another chance, he is able to keep some things from happening, but makes other mistakes that are costly to him.

I'd guess I'm not the only person who's ever wanted to jump back in time a few minutes or a few hours and redo something. I've thought it would be helpful, though, really, I'd likely just be trading one set of mistakes for another. I'd probably spend most of my redos exploring new and creative ways to really and monumentally mess things up.

Mother and Child
One thing that's evident early in that story is that the relationship between Satoru and his mother is strained. The reasons seem to range from his own lack of success to some things that happened during the kidnapping spree when he was a child.

One of the things I liked during the series was seeing his view of his mother change. Returning to the past after seeing her dead reminds him of many of the good things they'd had that he'd forgotten about. It's good to see them on good terms. And I'll not spoil the last part of the story, except that it shows her love for her son in a particularly strong way.

On the other hand, there is another mother-child relationship that is very much worse. Some of the series' most disturbing scenes involve what Kayo's mother does to her, and how she tries to cover it up. The contrast between the two mothers is most clearly shown when Satoru's mother allows Kayo into their home while Satoru is trying to hide her, particularly the breakfast scene. I'll just mention it here, but let you watch it for yourself, if you wish.

God of Second Chances?
I remember something from when I was a kid. It was Sunday mornings, and sometimes there would be these church services on television. On one of them, there was a man who often sang a song with lyrics which were something like “Our God is the God of a second chance”.

That's not the last time I've heard such an idea. It seems to be fairly popular. But is it true?

Because the truth is, the revivals of “Erased” are fictions. We don't get replays or rewinds, we don't get to go back to the last saved moment, the past will always be the past and never again be the present. The things we did wrong yesterday will always be done and be wrong.

Although I can understand the point trying to be made, I'm not sure it's a point that's true. The truth is, there are no second chances. God doesn't give us chances to redo what we did wrong yesterday, or even five minutes ago.

God isn't the God of second chances. It's more accurate to say that Christ is our only chance. As Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, but by me”.

King David could not undo his adultery and murder, he could only confess his sins to God and ask for mercy. “ Have mercy on my, O God, according to your loving kindness. According to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions...Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight...Wash me thoroughly from my iniquites, and cleanse me from my sins.”

God doesn't give us rewinds, but he has redeemed those who are His.

Erased” is a very engaging series. The time travel element is done intelligently, and the story is told in a way that does well in increasing the tension and the stakes. There are some disturbing scenes where ugliness is shown, but also ones where kindness is well displayed, too. I can give it a strong recommendation.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Loren Cunningham twists Psalm 2

The part transcribed here begins at 4:36

Now we become through Jesus, according to Romans chapter 2 verse 29, as well as Romans 9, Romans 11, and other portions of scripture, we become through Christ sons of Abraham, which means we take on the Abraham covenant. What I'm saying through all of this, you actually can rule this world if you will through Jesus Christ, because we become through Jesus Christ sons of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ, to rule and reign with Christ. In Psalms chapter 2 verse 8, God says to us, “Ask of me, and I will surely give the nations as thine inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as thy possession”. But Jesus showed us how. In Matthew chapter 5, verse 5, “the meek shall inherit the earth”. So it's not through the ways the world would do it, the ways Satan would do it, but it's through Jesus Christ in the ways he would do it. How did he do it? “The meek shall inherit the earth”. He became a servant to all, and in the process he gained it all.

Ok, so, let's look at Psalm 2

Why do the nations rageand the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,and the rulers take counsel together,against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apartand cast away their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “As for me, I have set my Kingon Zion, my holy hill.”
7 I will tell of the decree:The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of ironand dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear,and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,for his wrath is quickly kindled.Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

If that context isn't enough to show that Cunningham is trying to pull a fast one, let's go further. This Psalm is referenced in Hebrews 1

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. 5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”?

And the part that's referenced in Hebrews is in the same part of the Psalm that Cunningham references, but where Hebrews clearly shows that this psalm is referring to Christ, Cunningham tries to somehow make it refer to us.

But let's go on, Revelation 19 mentions who will rule with a rod of iron.

11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

There's also a reference in Revelation 12.

Now, there is one reference in Revelation 2, what Jesus says to the church at Thyatira, which does say that those who overcome will have authority over the nations, and will rule them with a rod of iron. But there is something in Revelation 20 that this seems to refer to.

4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

Another place to consider is II Timothy 2

11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;  
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.

There is the promise in the Bible that the saints will have authority on earth, but that time will come when Christ returns. It isn't the church's job to try to take over the world, to try to somehow make the world christianized to such a degree that Christ will return.

It's pretty clear, Psalm 2:8 is not God talking to us, but to His Son, to Christ. Cunningham again proves he has no business teaching like this.