Its A Free Story — About Freedom!

Joseph Courtemanche started us off with the very first COVID Chronicle about a hundred years ago (actually, it was only three months ago, but it feels like a hundred years) with disease, death, and ABBA. CLICK HERE to read that inaugural story again, or, read it again for the first time? It is only appropriate that he finish us up with another great read. I am always impressed with how efficient Joseph is with getting the short story out there. He doesn’t need a lot of time or words because his prose is tight.

It has been a real honor to write with all my colleagues here. Paul Bennett makes me want to take a walk in the woods. Kathy Kexel inspires me to consider the sweetness in life. Derek Elkins brings a sense of fun and joy to the story. Rob Cely is a reflective thinker who takes us deep into our own soul. Joe Shaw is destined for celebrity because he speaks with mighty plots. and here we have Courtemanche, the wordsmith.

We’ve written these stories for your enjoyment. No fee, no charge, no paywall, no newsletter signup, no gimmicks. You can find the links all here by scrolling down my blog or at their own individual blog pages. Do visit them, and buy their books — Rob, Derek, Paul, Joe, Joseph, and I all have books for sale at Amazon and whether or not our children eat dinner next week depends on how many books you buy. So, there is that.

Click on the chainsaw to read What About The Window.

Click on the Husqvarna label. If you click the tree, you’ll wake up in Minnesota in January. Courtemanche tells me that is awful.

FREE SPEECH IS SHIRTLESS

There is a lot of work today for me, plus it is election day and there are some constitutional amendments I need to weigh in on, but I am never too busy to complain about the continuing erosion of personal liberty.

It has come to my attention this morning a small business operator named Dan McCall has been ordered to stop selling a parody t-shirt because it offends the NSA–the National Security Administration–you know, the ones who are keeping tabs on all your metadata?  Yeah, them.

This is the t-shirt in question:

pic from dailymail.co.uk
pic from dailymail.co.uk

In case you can’t read it–it has the NSA logo with the fake motto, “Peeping while your sleeping” and then below that it has a cute little satire that says, “The NSA–The only part of government that actually listens.”

He was selling this t-shirt all over the place, including Zazzle.  Zazzle is one of the online retailers I know about because I bought a coffee cup with a cockroach picture on it for a loved one last year from Zazzle.  But I digress.

The rationale behind their scary Orwellian “Cease and Desist” order is that it is copyright infringement.  Really?  The NSA is copyrighted?  Does the NSA seek to make money off it’s logo?  Besides, this is a parody.  Go to any shopping mall and you will find parody t-shirts in half the shops.  Go to any church youth group and you will see religiously parodied t-shirts that take a secular logo and put a spiritual or biblical twist to it.

It happens everyday and most of us chuckle and move on.  But not the NSA.  Not our government.

I am not saying it is good taste to print that t-shirt and I’m not saying I would buy one.  However, this is an epic government overreach.  What is next, will the NSA go after The Onion.  Actually, that would be a great Onion story about how the NSA is trying to shut them down.  In fact when I first saw this I thought it was a rogue Onion story some took for being real, but then I checked it with real news sources like NBC.  I wish it were satire, but this is Jon Stewart.  This is our government.

For what it is worth, I am sure my tax bill will go up now after they read this blog.  If there are no further postings found, or my blog suddenly goes dark, you will understand what happened.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IDIOT ALERT

PASTOR OR PROVOCATEUR
PASTOR OR PROVOCATEUR

I semi apologize for the serious, quasi-political tone of the blog the last week or so. It just happens that these are the things that have caught my attention of late. Like this guy, Terry Jones.

He is the pastor from Florida, and I use the term “pastor” in the titular since only because nothing he is doing is pastoral. He is more like a character in a faux redo of a Ray Bradbury novel, Fahrenheit 666, maybe.

Is he an idiot? Yes. Absolutely.

Does he represent the values of Christ-followers? No.

Would I want to have a cup of coffee with him? Uh, let me check my calendar and I have an opening for him on … let’s see…the first of never.

The problem, though, is this pesky thing called the United States Constitution. Yesterday Pastor Terry Jones was arrested, according to MSNBC because he was about to burn one Koran for every victim of September 11, 2001. Here is the way it was described:

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Pastor Terry Jones, 61, and his associate pastor, Marvin Sapp Jr., 34, on felony charges as he drove a pickup truck towing a large barbecue-style grill filled with Qurans soaked in kerosene. He had said he was heading to a nearby park to burn 2,998 Qurans — one for every victim of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Sheriff’s officials said they would hold a news conference later Wednesday to discuss specific charges.

First, as odious as I find this guy, I would have loved to have seen the spectacle of hauling around a BBQ grill and 3000 kerosene soaked Korans. Again, he is clearly the village idiot.

The problem is, of course, what did he do that was worthy of being arrested, much less arrested for felony charges. Felony? Come on, give me a break. Certain principles are at play here such as the right to free speech, the right to assemble, and the freedom of religion that cannot be ignored. People have the right to be odious and they have the right to displease the religious sensibilities of others. That is what freedom means.

I maybe could understand citing him for not having the right permit or if there were a burn ban in effect for the area, but as I read the article it looks to me that they arrested him just because. Think about it, he hadn’t even done anything yet. They apparently pulled him over because he was driving a truck towing a grill.

The claim that he is endangering U.S. military personnel overseas is a little specious to me as well. The article I quote above tries to link this guy to the protests over the film last year that some argued caused the Benghazi debacle. I’m not buying any of that. Our military is in harms way period–do you think that the crazies that want to kill Americans will decide, “Oh, they arrested that guy in Florida so we can put way our terrorists plans for good now.” Not likely. Jihadists (differentiated from Muslim, because all Muslims, indeed most, are not enemies of the United States) do not need any excuse to hate us.

Let’s review now. He is an idiot who really is just looking to get on the evening news and I have no great desire to defend his actions or support what he is doing. He is not a felon, though, and he is not a criminal. He is an American citizen and as such he has rights and freedom, and that is something our Jihadist enemies will never understand.

THE PARABLE OF THE SOILS–RESPONSIBILITY

Sermon teaser–A New Feature…if I can remember it.  I hope to publish every Thursday a snippet from the upcoming sermon on Sunday.  This shouldn’t be too difficult for me because even though I preach everything from memory without notes, I manuscript everything and I am usually three weeks ahead.  This particular section is from about 2/3 through and comes after the outstandingly awesome visual I have planned and before the key application.

SOILS AND RESPONSIBILITY  

Most people call this “The Parable of the Sower” because it starts with the sower going out to sow and most people, myself included, believe the sower is God or the person who is bringing the gospel of God.  But I don’t like that title so much.  I much prefer the title “The Parable of the Soils” for this section of Scripture because it gets to the point.  The point is not the sower, the point is the soils.

The soils, are us and our heart.  The truth of this account is that different people hear and respond to the gospel in different ways.  In fact, Jesus uses four responses—four types of soils which match rather nicely the four responses we saw in Mark 3 last week.  If you will remember we found in Mark 3 that the responses ranged from very positive, positive, negative, to very negative.  It’s a match here.  The very negative is the path (eaten), the negative is the rocky soil (shallow), the positive is the thorns (at least they grow), and the very positive is the bumper crop.

I admit my bias toward liberty, freewill, and responsibility.  The only way I understand this text is if I believe that I have a constant and never ending responsibility in the context of the free will God gives to me to safeguard the soil of my heart.  Any of these troubles with the soil Jesus talks about can creep up on me at any time.

  • I am always just a hairs breath away from letting the cares of the word choke off the spiritual oxygen.
  • I am just one or two bitter tantrums from become hard and rocky and severing the roots that provide nourishment and hydration.
  • I am never too far away from letting the world walk right over me and trample me into a hard and de-sensitized soul vulnerable to the attacks of the evil one.

 NOT EVERYONE WILL RESPOND WITH FAITH