Monday, March 27, 2017

Fake News – Old News

Last night 60 Minutes did a piece on Fake News. Normally an organization like 60 Minutes likes to present new news to its viewers, but this time it presented old news – at least it was old news to those who value truth and know history and know the nature of man.

An academic expert in Fake News confessed that before he studied Fake News that he assumed, along with many people, that only uneducated people believed Fake News – he admitted he was wrong. According to his research, educated and uneducated people believe Fake News in equal percentages. This is old news to those who value truth and know history and know the nature of man.

Researchers also found that Fake News is as prevalent on the political right as on the political left – once again, Fake News is no respecter of persons; once again, this is old news to those who value truth and know history and know the nature of man.

Sadly, were 60 Minutes to do a segment on Fake News within the professing church it would find the same phenomena.  Since most Christians do not know the Bible they have nothing against which to measure trendy Christian teaching; whether it comes from popular media Christians or academic ivory palaces or esoteric groups which promise initiation into truths that only the few can receive.  

We live in a world of Fake News and the propensity of mankind is to believe Fake News. The headwaters of Fake News (found in Genesis Chapter 3) is, “Has God really said this?” The people at 60 Minutes are purveyors themselves of Fake News in so far as they think that humanity can discern the truth in and of itself – were 60 Minutes to devote itself to an exploration of how many times humanity has been wrong it would see that we are all suckers for Fake News.

In one interview Scott Pelley was incredulous that the person he was interviewing, a purveyor of Fake News, maintained that the Fake News he generates (such as Pizzagate) is as true news as news that is verifiable. (This interview, as is the entire segment, is worth watching online). Yet, the Fake News that humanity is the product of time plus matter plus chance should make us all incredulous for it flies in the face of daily life and love and aspiration and all that motivates most of humanity – in terms of both good and evil. Of course, there can be no good or evil if we are indeed the products of a cosmic accident. If we are products of a cosmic accident there can be no Fake News for there can be no truth; everything is a matter of perception – who can trust a cosmic accident.

Sadly in much of the church Fake News doesn’t matter anymore, as long as the book or the movie or the music or the message makes us feel good we will defend it. This is, in one respect, old news – much of the Law and the Prophets and the New Testament was written to reveal Fake News; the New Testament letters deal with Fake News in the church over and over again.

How much Fake News is in our thinking today? 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

His Life Was In Those Bottles

I don’t recall who first introduced me to Stubbs; it could have been Price Chopper, or Stop & Shop, or Market Basket – but since I first purchased the barbeque sauce produced by Mr. Stubbs in New England it was likely one of these grocery store chains who did me the fine service of introduction.

Amidst the BBQ sauce offerings of the major food companies the bottle of Stubbs stood out as if it wanted to shake my hand and become friends. It was as if the bottle was saying, “I ain’t like the rest of them. Fact is, I don’t reckon I really know why they are all here alongside me, unless it is to show folks the difference between the fake and the real.” Not that I think Mr. Stubbs would have said that about other companies, but if his bottle could have talked it just might have said those words.

On every bottle of Stubbs BBQ is the face of Mr. Stubbs (his real name was Christopher Stubblefield). It’s a face that you want to know, it’s the face of man whose hand you’d like to shake. This man not only put his name on his product (his nickname was Stubbs), he put his face on it. Then there were the words, “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m a cook.” I like that – a cook developed this product, a cook who cooked, not a cook who worked in an industrial test kitchen, but a cook who cooked and fed people 52 weeks a year, a cook who ran a restaurant where if the cooking weren’t good he’d go broke.

But then there was another saying from Mr. Christopher Stubblefield on his BBQ sauce, and this is the one that really got me, that still gets me, “My life is in these bottles.” You gotta love a saying like that, a man proud enough of his work to put his face on a bottle and his life in a bottle.

Ever since my first encounter with Stubbs he has been my go-to man for BBQ sauce and he has never let me down. I recall that once when we had friends over for a cookout in Becket, MA that Jody Lampro, our drummer and sometimes bass player, asked me what kind of BBQ sauce we had, and when I said, “Stubbs”, he looked at me knowingly and said, “Stubbs…he’s the man.”

I don’t think many of us approach our work the way Christopher Stubblefield approached his. How many of us would put our name and face on our work? How many of us would say, “My life is in what I did today”? How many of us take pride in what we do, real pride? The pride of workmanship? The pride of integrity? And how many of us find joy in our work?

And if we are professing Christians, are we offering our work to God as an offering, as something beautiful, bearing the image of our Creator? (Colossians 3:23-24).

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Wrens and the Garage

When we lived on Physic Hill Road there was a garage window with a hole in it; it was too small for a crow to fly through but just big enough for a wren to negotiate. Wrens are always on the lookout for a safe place to build a nest and one year a pair of wrens found the safety of our garage – a nest they did built and young ones they did have.

The garage had an upstairs storage area, safe from our comings and goings, nice and sheltered, an almost perfect place for a nest; I say “almost” because while daddy and mommy wren had thought about most everything, there was one thing they hadn’t thought about – how were their fledglings going to exit the garage? After all, it takes an experienced wren to locate and fly through a small hole in a window.

When Vickie heard the sound of the baby wrens flying and chirping and investigated she saw the problem – they were flying from wall to wall and from ceiling to floor but they couldn’t get out. No doubt mommy and daddy had tried to show them the way, but to no avail – the brood was too inexperienced to thread a needle or to fly through a small opening.

We opened the garage door, we opened the door into the workshop that was part of the garage building, we pulled the attic stairs down, and then we went wren herding. Vickie caught one of the little birds in her hands and carried it outside and the rest were encouraged to vacate by our making them uncomfortable in the attic – after all, even a bird can only take hearing “shoo-shoo” so many times. From one end of the attic to the other we went until the birds finally found the open stairs and flew down to the next level and then found an open door into the outdoors.

The wren parents meant well, but if we hadn’t realized their babies were trapped in the building they all would have died. Not a pleasant thought.

It’s one thing to protect those we love, it’s another when our desire to protect them traps them.