Friday, September 23, 2011

The Book of Revelations

I came across this movie on YouTube; it is about an hour and a half long. I can't speak for the theology of those who made this movie, but found that once I started watching, I didn't want to stop. This is not so much a movie aboout the the things happening in the book of Revelation, but a movie about the circumstances around the writing of the book and the life of the Apostle John. Yes it is fictional, but also interesting and sobering.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Of This And That

  • It has been a slow summer for blogging. I get home from work and crash, and there isn't a lot of energy left for much else. Work is getting hectic. I did set a personal deadline for retirement. All I'll say at this point is it is less then two years, ready or not. I found I needed to set that deadline to give myself some focus. Otherwise I was just kind of drifting along waiting for something to happen instead of focusing on making it happen.
  • Our Detroit Tigers are tearing up the central division. They have a pretty good lead heading into the end of the regular season. It has been fun to be able to turn on the TV and watch some or parts of the games. It will be interesting to see what the playoffs bring. Also Detroit Lion fans are looking forward to what the regular season will bring. Will this be the year the Lions roar is heard throughout the NFL?
  • New Toy Department: I have a new Toshiba Satellite L755 Laptop. The laptop I was using was a work issued HP, and I was restricted as to how I could use it and what software I could add on. I really like the Toshiba. I don't do gaming so didn't need a lot of bells and whistles. The price for the total package was good and in budget.
  • The days are getting shorter. The trees, flowers, and other fauna are getting that late summer tired, washed out look. Here in our part of Michigan we've even seen a tree here and there that has turned color. A few more weeks and we will put the AC window unit away. Our AC got a real workout during the extended hot weather we had in July and August. I am looking forward to the Fall season.
  • Reading: How Long O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil (2nd Edition); D. A. Carson; (Baker,2006)
  • I have friends and family living in Texas. Things in Texas are really bad; no rain since last fall, and a number of destructive wild fires. Here are some pictures of the devastation caused by the record setting extensive drought. We can expect the economic impact to extend far beyond the Texas borders. The cotton crop has been wiped out. The impact on the livestock industry is simply devastating. We need to pray for our friends in Texas.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Theological Propaganda?

I am in the process of reading a book; a book that received much attention, far and wide, when it was published earlier this year. I found myself asking the question, "What am I really reading? What is it about how this book was written?" After a while the word "propaganda" came to mind.

Now there are words of a negative connotation that you don't want to toss loosely around when talking of those whom Jesus said are our neighbors, even with those neighbors whose theology and message we take strong exception to.  "Propaganda" is one of those words. It is one of those words we could quickly toss out as part of an ad hominem argument; and that even as ad hominem arguments are one of the techniques of propaganda.

Nonetheless if the shoe fits, then we are also obligated to speak truth about what our neighbor has said.

At this point we need to refer to the Propaganda Critic WWW site which has built on the work of the original Institute for Propaganda Analysis (IPA). To quote from this site:

"The IPA is best-known for identifying the seven basic propaganda devices: Name-Calling, Glittering Generality, Transfer, Testimonial, Plain Folks, Card Stacking, and Band Wagon. According to the authors of a recent book on propaganda, "these seven devices have been repeated so frequently in lectures, articles, and textbooks ever since that they have become virtually synonymous with the practice and analysis of propaganda in all of its aspects." (Combs and Nimmo, 1993)"

The above quote lists seven basic propaganda techniques. It is not my intent to expand on the seven techniques. For that discussion I greatly encourage you to go to the P-C link above. If you have been around Christianity for any time, you will also recognize that some of the techniques listed are also marks of cultish behavior found in some churches.

All that said, there were several things about the book I'm reading that raised a flag; a total lack of footnotes or bibliography, partial quotes from Scripture used without any reference to the wider context of the quote, broad sweeping assertions or unqualified statements and subtle ad hominem allusions.

And I've seen this before in other theological contexts from those who would take great exception to the author I'm reading. The rhetorical techniques fit the definition of propaganda; theological propaganda.

Let the reader beware...

~ The Billy Goat ~
Four Myths About the Crusades

Paul F. Crawford (from Intercollegiate Review (46:1) - 04/21/11

The four myths Crawford deals with are as follows:

Myth #1: The crusades represented an unprovoked attack by Western Christians on the Muslim world.

Myth #2: Western Christians went on crusade because their greed led them to plunder Muslims in order to get rich.

Myth #3: Crusaders were a cynical lot who did not really believe their own religious propaganda; rather, they had ulterior, materialistic motives.

Myth #4: The crusades taught Muslims to hate and attack Christians.

Click on the link above to see the whole article with the details and extended footnoted references.  This article is a refreshing breath of wind amidst all the propaganda we are bombarded with.