Friday, April 10, 2009

Hot Shower, Bronchitis, and Old Finnish Friends

I stayed home today. Bronchitis. It's been a rough winter and I think this is my third bout of bronchitis this school year. My doctor prescribed an antibiotic called Avelox (which worked well the last two times).

In the last 16 hours (since about 11pm yesterday) I've learned a few things. I've learned that if I lay down flat I may drown. I've (re)learned the simple truth that ibuprofen cures chills - temporarily, at least. I've learned that snoring just makes you cough more. I could probably add to the list.

At 2:00pm I sat down in the recliner and tried to take a name. I used one of the news channels as background noise...

  1. Joe Biden is a liar. I know it's true because Karl Rove said so.
  2. Tornadoes have torn up parts of Arkansas and Tennessee (and they may be headed this way).
  3. President Obama divested the U.S. of most of its sovereign powers at the G20 meeting by bowing before the King of Saudi Arabia. At least that's the view of Conservatives in the blogosphere (like the space aliens who roam the halls of Hot Air). Never mind that custom seems to dictate that one kiss the King's neck (or something like that) to swear loyalty in the Saudi Kingdom. I've seen the video and I think that if President Obama had intended it to be a bow there would have been more flourish. It was a two second event that probably won't have much impact on the course of history...
  4. Oklahoma is on fire.
  5. Two people are dead after an apparent murder-suicide on a community college campus in Michigan.
  6. A construction worker in Indiana got buried when a trench he was in collapsed.
  7. The president of Arizona State is an idiot and doesn’t want to give President Obama an honorary degree (the traditional reward for speaking at a commencement service). They still want him to speak, though. (Wonder if McCain will come.)
  8. Pirates still have the ship captain near Somali.
  9. Dead cats can bounce, or maybe there's a glimmer of hope of the economic front.
Eventually I fell asleep. I woke back up after a few minutes and coughed for a while. Then I fell asleep again. Perhaps I slept 20 minutes. I woke up cold. Socks to my knees, two layers of cloths including a sweat suit. Covered with a wool afghan. Cold.

I got up and took some ibuprofen and decided I'd take a hot shower. I went in the bathroom and shut the door. I don't know why I shut the door; no one else is here. But it seemed polite. Undressing was torture. I turned the shower to as hot as I could stand it and breathed the steam. Eventually I sat down.

In the early 1990's I lived in Canberra, Australia. Some of my friends were Finnish. Canberra had a community of about 2,000 Finnish immigrants. Most families had built their own sauna in their back yards. I would go to their houses and the men would sit in the sauna for 20 or 30 minutes (okay, sometimes an hour). They enjoyed keeping it between 75C and 85C degrees. That's 167F to 185F. When it was dry, I thought that was nice. A teaspoon of water on the rocks could drive me out (while they all laughed). I sat in the shower and remembered those days. Wish I had a sauna...

For now, the ibuprofen has kicked in and my wife will be home soon. Big Daddy's on Friday is a ritual. It's seafood night. I'll eat what I can and bring my leftovers home.

Monday, April 6, 2009

My LAST Class...

I start an educational technology class tonight in my program for certification in educational leadership. The certification will make it possible for me to work as a principal or to take a number of central office jobs.

The Syllabus doesn't look too stressful. Class finishes in May. Hopefully I'll be certified by sometime in June...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Should We Have Church on Saturday? Why Not? (But Then Again, Why?)

I’ve been involved recently in an ongoing conversation about “the True Sabbath.” Emphasis on the word true. Someone has suggested that the church I’m attending should have services on Saturday, since that’s the Biblical Sabbath.

Now, it wouldn’t bother me if we had our main weekly service on Saturdays. Or on Monday evenings. Or Thursdays. I don’t think the day of the week especially matters. It wouldn’t bother me to do it every eighth or ninth day. Tuesday this week, Wednesday next week. You get the idea.

But the argument is that we should meet on the Biblical Sabbath because, well, that’s what the Ten Commandments say. It’s THE LAW.

Now, the person putting forth this idea isn’t suggesting we embrace the entire Old Testament law. The idea seems to be that the Ten Commandments are a special part of Old Testament law. They’re separate, different from the rest of the law. I’ve listened to an explanation of how the Ten Commandments were written with the finger of God (which is true) and placed INSIDE the Ark of the Covenant (also true). The rest of the law, lesser commandments under this argument, was laid BESIDE the Ark of the Covenant in a lesser place.

So according to this argument, we should go to church on Saturday because the law (the Ten Commandments) says to. And since the Ten Commandments were written by the finger of God and placed inside the Ark, they are different. They are still binding. And we should obey them because they are, after all, the law.

There are a number of problems with this argument.

The most obvious problem seems to me to be in Acts 15. Let me set that stage...
  • Stephen has been martyred (Acts 7) and the Jewish believers of Jerusalem scattered throughout the region.
  • Peter has been to the house of the Roman Centurion Cornelius and seen his vision about eating snakes and lizards (Acts 10); the first Gentile is converted as a result.
  • And Paul and Barnabas go on their first mission trip and convert Gentiles in Cyprus and parts of modern Turkey (Acts 13 & 14).
Acts 15 begins with a statement about how some men from Judea who presumably at least pretended to be believers came to Antioch (the home base for Paul and Barnabas) and started teaching that you had to be circumcised “like it says in the law” in order to be Christian. In other words, to be a Christian, you had to become a Jew, first. After a few arguments with these men, Paul and Barnabas head off to Jerusalem to meet with the church leaders there and settle the matter. Peter is at the meeting. So is the Apostle James who holds the place of leader of the Church in Jerusalem.

Their conclusion? The law has been preached in every city since early times and they shouldn’t burden the new Gentile believers with it.

They give some other advice. And what is lacking from the other advice is the fascinating part of this discussion. In a letter to the Gentile believers in Antioch, James tells them to avoid sexual immorality, not to eat the meat of strangled animals, not to eat meat offered to idols, and not to consume blood.

There is no mention of keeping the “true” Sabbath. Acts 15 leaves me with the impression that, as a Gentile, I should be more concerned with the ingredients in my pepperoni than with whether or not my church meets on the “true” Sabbath.

I know. Someone is going to say that the Apostles at Jerusalem didn’t mention keeping the Sabbath because the Gentile Christians were “keeping” the Sabbath. I’m not sure there’s much evidence for or against that idea. But the Sabbath is mentioned exactly twice in the epistles of the New Testament - the first time in Colosians 2:16 where Paul tells his readers not to let people judge them based on whether they “keep” a Sabbath day.

Should YOU feel obligated by the ten Commandments to go to church on Saturday so as to keep the Biblical Sabbath? It depends, I suppose. Where were your ancestors while Moses was on Mt. Sinai getting the law from God? I suspect that mine were roaming the deciduous forests of Northern Europe - probably mixing elk blood with their liquor and gutting their neighbors from rival tribes with dull flint knives. If yours were at the bottom of Mt. Sinai making idols out of their jewelry, perhaps you should keep the Old Testament’s Sabbath. Perhaps.

Just remember this… The “true” Sabbath is described in Hebrews 4:9 as a rest that Christians can enter into. It takes some real hermeneutical gymnastics to arrive at the conclusion that Christians today are obligated by the Ten Commandments to have church on Saturday as a way of “keeping” the Biblical Sabbath.