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The Brexit Hero

I have a new hero.

It is this guy–Parliament speaker John Bercow. I have no idea what his politics are or what kind of person he is, but him trying to keep things in good ‘order’ during the recent topsy turvy times in jolly ole England is inspiring to me. Also, I think he could probably be a good teacher of preschoolers. Or lead a Baptist business meeting. Just sayin’.

Here is a video from Twitter. You can skip the CBC commentary at the end, but don’t stop until he clears the lobby. You’re welcome.

WATER ON MARS–FIRST REACTIONS

So, NASA announced today that they had found liquid water on Mars.  Flowing liquid water.

Personally, I think this is Mars just being jealous of the Super Blood Moon getting all the attention lately.

Mars is clearly jealous of Earth's water
Mars is clearly jealous of Earth’s water

This is Mars’ not so passive-aggressive way of saying, “Hey, I was red before red was cool.”

Some of you might remember that I predicted we’d find life on Mars in 2014.  That is not looking so outrageous now, is it? (For Mars posts–click here or here).

What does flowing water mean?  At least three things.  One, there might be more water on Mars than in California.  Two, Disney is probably already thinking about a water park.  Three, astronauts can take along Mio and Kool-Aid for their trip.

What are the implications, though, for everyday life?  For starters, the plot for the upcoming movie The Martian may have to be altered.  Now Mark Watley can have a hot tub.  By the way, The Martian is an excellent book, although the language is a little harsh.  I hope the movie doesn’t mess it up.  I just finished reading Starship Troopers and thought to myself, “How cool could the movie have been if they’d just followed the book.”  Here’s hoping Hollywood doesn’t mess up science fiction, again.

How did the water get there?  I speculate that it is where the water from the toilet goes when you flush on a plane.  It lands on Mars.  That means the liquid water on Mars is blue.  Very blue.

Maybe we’ve been putting the water there?  All those space shuttle missions were really missions to stretch a giant water hose to Mars so that we can live there someday.  Where did they get the water for this?  California.

NASA, you say there is water on Mars.  Fine, but is there coffee?  That, is what really matters.  To quote Captain Janeway, “There is coffee in that nebula.”88e6cf329324038e2c142f751f81be1e

If there is water on Mars, does that justify the old thought that there were canals on Mars?  If so, will scientists and astronomers apologize to Giovanni Schiaparelli and Percival Lowel?  

The real problem is that the presence of water does not tell us why Martians hate doves so much.

Water on Mars means we can baptize on Mars.  That means space is ready for Baptists!  It remains to be seen, however, if Baptists are ready for space.

image from telegraph.co.uk and pinterest.com

TICK TOCK WRITING ON THE CLOCK

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Last week my new short story hit the digital shelves.  It is  being sold as a bundle for $2.99 with two other stories, each selected by me.  My publisher asked me to select two previous stories and then group them under one topic.  I thought about going with a monster motif and doing my two Deep Cove stories and work up a sci-fi story I’ve been thinking about.  I also thought about going completely pastoral, as the story I just finished is pastoral in nature.  I decided, though, in the end, to wrap the bundle around the theme of time with the title “It’s About Time.”  Here is a brief overview of the stories, and why I picked these particular ones.

The Land Begins to Heal:    The genesis of this story began about two months ago when I heard a story on our local NPR station about the Elwha River Dam removal.  That got my juices going about how I could get my protagonist Pastor Butch Gregory up there.  Then I began to think about the correlations of healing.  It takes time to heal both the land and the soul.  I combined these two ideas with what I’ve been jazzing on for a while, and that is the late 1970’s.  If you’ve read my two Deep Cove stories (I promise more are coming in the future) you know those are set in the summer 1978.  I guess every generation is nostalgic about childhood.

I wanted the theme for The Land Begins to Heal to be pastoral.  What Butch Gregory deals with is old wounds, church secrets, and the spiritual awareness necessary for solid pastoral ministry in a local church.  The story comes in at about 8,500 words, which is a good solid count for a short story.  It is the only truly new story in this bundle and I really like it.  The only way to get it is to buy the whole bundle.

Speculation:  I wrote speculation last summer after wrestling with several questions from people about death and what happens when we die.  There are three particular Bible passages that I’ve always worked at as one tries to square a circle.   Two come from Paul, so there must be some kind of consistency here.  1 Thessalonians 4:16 says that at the end of all things the dead in Christ shall rise first, implying they have been dormant since death yet 2 Corinthians 5:8 teaches that to be absent from the body, which I take to mean dead, is to be present with the Lord.  Now, just for good measure, throw in Hebrews 9:27 (which is not Pauline) where we learn that all human beings die once, and then comes judgment.

My story begins with a man who dies at 2:48 A.M. (hence the cover picture), and then details the next three seconds, the first three seconds of the afterlife.  Fiction sometimes helps us understand how all three concepts might work as one process.  The end result, for me anyway, is that time is unreal and is essentially a construct that ceases to exist for us when we die.

Legacy:  This is one of my oldest stories and one of my favorites.  It originally appeared in my 2010 book the Haunting of Pastor Butch Gregory and Other Short Stories.  I am a Baptist and I’ve often wondered what might happen to our tribe in the future.  So I pushed out 400 years (doubling our time, because Baptists have only existed for 400 years) to a time when Baptists leave earth in space ships.  I played with the language in this story changing the title “Pastor” to “Paster” as that is how most people pronounce it in English.  The Paster serves a type of ship’s captain.   The main character is an engineer named Scotte (pronounced Scotty, with apologies to Gene Roddenberry) who works on the ships four engines, each engine is named for a Gospel.  I line the story with inside jokes such as calling the dining room the Potluck Deck and the historical references inherent in some of the names.  My favorite was Sandi Creak (from the old Sandy Creek Association).  Sandi is an a older, black female paster who preaches from the antiquated NIV.

The reason I picked Legacy for this collection is that I wrote it to be an allegory about the changing nature of church life today.  What I have discovered is that things have accelerated in the five years since I wrote it.  The crisis in the story occurs when the ship hits a pocket of space that ‘changes’ things and people react in different kinds of ways to the change.  No one can really explain it, but they all have different ideas about what is going on and conspiracies abound.  Their reactions are analogous to current trends.

I hope you have time to read these, especially the new one.   It’s About Time is available at Amazon, Smashwords if you don’t have a Kindle, and from our little collection of indie authors at bardandbook.com

I ASH WEDNESDAY, DO YOU?

This is a post from last year that I am re-posting today because, obviously, it is Ash Wednesday (February 22, not March 9 like the post says–that was last year).

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This is the week that we Christians who follow a liturgical pattern of the year mark the journey through Lent and toward Easter.  It all begins on Ash Wednesday—March 9.  I consistently find that when I take the ash and observe Lent my experience of Easter is much richer and therefore more meaningful to me.  I did not grow up in a church which practiced Lent and Ash Wednesday, so when I learned about it as an adult I was skeptical.  However, as I dug around and realized that sin, prayer, confession and death with eternal judgment were all major themes, I knew I was all in.  What kind of Baptist doesn’t get excited about that!  But over the years as I have led my church to practice and observe Ash Wednesday and Lent I have encountered some objections to the practice.

1.  Lent is for Catholics.

There is a certain amount of truth to that claim.  Catholics do observe Lent and Ash Wednesday.  However, the counter is true as well.  Catholics also baptize and preach.  Does that mean I should not baptize and preach?  No, certainly not.  The best answer to this argument though, is that the roots of Lent and Ash Wednesday go way back to a time way before there were any distinctions such as Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists and Baptists.  Much of Catholic history and tradition is also my tradition—we have a shared origin in Christ and the early church.  Besides, some of the greatest Christians I’ve ever met, studied, read, or learned about have been Roman Catholics.  It is time we put such prejudices and biases away.

2.  Ash Wednesday and Lent are too negative.

Yes, I suppose that is the way it might seem.  The major themes of Ash Wednesday are death, dust, mortality, sin, confession, fasting and contrition.  Lent, if done correctly, will be very uncomfortable and sometimes a downer.  People from traditions which emphasize the “Jesus makes me happy all the time” might be a little put off by such ‘negativism.’  The thing, though, is that the Scriptures call us to contemplate such.  I should be painfully aware of my own mortality.  I must confront my sin and deal with it.  I should get my appetites under control and bring my body into discipline.  Ash Wednesday and Lent help us do that with a focus and the help of our community.

3.  We should always pray and fast and confess, not just one season a year.

I so agree.  I try and make prayer and confession a part of my daily routine.  Fasting is the kind of thing I’ve done in various ways throughout the year.  I especially encourage fasting before making big decisions.  It clears the mind.  But again, I bring the counter argument to this objection by saying if we should always be doing it, then how can it be wrong to be doing it now, at Lent, when millions, if not billions of people around the world are also engaged in it.  By fasting, praying, and confessing at the same time the Christian community is bound by a common experience which might have a powerful impact on the world.

Before I bring this to a close, I want folks to understand I am not trying to convince anyone they have to observe Ash Wednesday and Lent to be a good Christian or even for Easter to be significant.  Many good, wonderful, Jesus-loving Christ-followers never follow Lent and are great people whom I admire.  What I am arguing is that the practice of it is not inherently wrong or misguided, and that many people might actually be stirred by the practice in positive ways.  It can’t hurt and it just might change your perspective for the better.