Saturday, March 29, 2008

My Own Comments on Matthew 13:1-11

Matthew 13:1:

So Jesus picked a place of nature to teach. I think the shore might have made a nice place to gather with the sloping hill.

Matthew 13:2:

Where did the crowds come from? Were they from the villages in the region or did they come from a distance? In the next chapter Matthew 14: the people are not close enough to their own homes to get food so they must not from the immediate vicinity, though of course there may have people from near and far.

Matthew 13:3:

So the method of teaching in parables is established as both a method and a parable about teaching with parables. Recursive thinking, and for me recursive humor.

The attention getting device of the word "Behold". The parable is about listening and the teacher wants to get the attention of his audience. Again recursive thinking.

He introduces the character in the parable, the sower. His action is sowing. Who is the sower? Is it anyone who preaches or teaches the word of God or is this the special work of the Holy Spirit? My first inclination is to say that this is anyone who is teaching or preaching the Word of God. Let's see if there are any clues any where else in the passage.

Matthew 13:4:

The seed here falls on the path. It does not really enter the soil. Is this the case of a hard heart or is it the case that someone simply can not grasp the meaning because they have no context. I think the Scripture is clear in Matthew 13:19 that this is the person does not understand. It is not only that they do not understand but Satan steals the Word of God from this person. Why might a person not understand?

1. He has been taught something else

2. He is not listening at all

3. He might be hard hearted

4. He is stubborn

I would not assume that this means someone is necessarily has one type of sin that make them not understand. A lack of understanding can come from a variety of sources. Poor teaching I would say is the number one reason for someone not understanding. I do beleive that Satan is behind false doctrine. At the same time, I do not want to be seeing everyone who teaches something different than myself, that they are the personal agents of Satan. To do so is to take a tone that will disenfranchise those who have been taught incorrectly. Tim Keller is able to engage the false teaching of the world because he is able to speak to skeptics with a congenial spirit. I want a steadfastness of Paul with the congenial spirit of Tim Keller, not that I'm putting Tim Keller on the same level as Paul. Paul is the example of courage and doctrinal purity, while Tim Keller is a man God is using at this time in this context to be in conversation with skeptics.

Matthew 13:5:

The parable describes a situation that may be misunderstood if one does not read the story closely. The soil is not rocky in the sense that it needs to be cleared of stones, rather the soil is sitting on a large rock. It is not that you should pick up the rock and throw it away from the soil to solve the problem. As a kid we had great rock piles that were gathered up by my ancestors who farmed the Ozark hills. They were trying to make it easier to plow and reduce the damage farm equipment and reduce injuries to stock and people by clearing the rocks from the field. In this case the rock is large and soil sits on it. Since it is exceedingly shallow, it heats up easily. This heating of the soil is important to understand. Seeds need two things to germinate. One is moisture, and the second is warmth.


Bean, lima 85 degrees F 7 to 10 days

Bean, snap 75 to 80 degrees F 7 days

Beet 75 degrees F 7 to 14 days

Broccoli 65 to 75 degrees F 5 to 10 days

Brussels sprout 68 to 75 degrees F 5 to 10 days

Cabbage 68 to 75 degrees F 5 to 10 days

Cantaloupe 80 to 85 degrees F 5 to 10 days

Carrot 75 degrees F 12 to 15 days

Cauliflower 65 to 75 degrees F 5 to 10 days

Celery 70 to 75 degrees F 10 to 14 days

Collard 70 to 75 degrees F 5 to 10 days

Corn 75 to 85 degrees F 7-10 days

Cucumber 70 to 85 degrees F 7 to 10 days

Eggplant 75 to 85 degrees F 10 to 12 days

Endive 70 to 75 degrees F 10 to 14 days

Kale 70 to 75 degrees F 5 to 10 days

Kohlrabi 70 to 75 degrees F 5 to 10 days

Lettuce 65 to 70 degrees F 7 to 10 days

Melon 80 to 85 degrees F 5 to 10 days

Mustard Greens 70 degrees F 5 to 10 days

Okra 80 to 85 degrees F 7 to 14 days

Onion, bulbing 70 to 75 degrees F 10 to 14 days

Onion, bunching 60 to 70 degrees F 10 to 14 days

Parsnip 70 degrees F 14 to 21 days

Pea 65 to 70 degrees F 7 to 14 days

Pepper 78 to 85 degrees F 10 to 14 days

Pumpkin 70 to 75 degrees F 7 to 10 days

Radish 65 to 70 degrees F 5 to 7 days

Rutabaga 65 to 70 degrees F 7 to 15 days

Spinach 70 degrees F 7 to 14 days

Spinach, New Zealand 75 degrees F 10 to 15 days

Squash, Summer 75 to 85 degrees F 7 to 14 days

Squash, Winter 75 to 80 degrees F 7 to 14 days

Swiss Chard 70 to 75 degrees F 7 to 14 days

Tomato 75 to 80 degrees F 7 to 14 days

Turnip 65 to 70 degrees F 7 to 14 days

Watermelon 75 to 85 degrees F 7 to 14 days

So the seed gets moisture with the other soil types in the parable but it heats up more quickly than the other soil because it is shallow. Then the shallow soil also dries out faster, not giving the moisture and coolness for the plant to endure wind and heat.

Matthew 13:6:

When the sun rises it brings heat. The heat that causes the seeds to germinate is also the heat that causes the root to wither. So it is in life, the trials of life can cause us to turn to God can also be the same trials that cause us to wither from listening to the Word of God.

Matthew 13:7:

The seed falls among the thorns and the thorns also arise and choke it out. These are the cares of this life. Both the rich and the poor think about these.

Matthew 13:8:

The yield from putting seeds in the ground is not the same as investing in the stock market. Here the yield and done in multiplication and not percentages. However, another difference is that it is not only the seed that is invested; sweat, tools, water, fertilizer and tools are also necessary. The modern strategies of investment are different from the agricultural ones so the methods, results and use of the pay-off are different.

Matthew 13:9:

Here is an ending to the parable. Does it explain the parable or is this ending just saying that one should pay attention to the parable. While either seems possible, which is it? Since the parable involves the Word of God being listened to, and the explanation Jesus gives in the next section describe problems with hearing, we should assume that this is an explanation of the parable and not just a way to rap up saying that we ought to listen.

Matthew 13:10:

So the disciples are asking why he talks in parables. It seems that there is a reason for them to wonder about this. Perhaps parables were not the norm. However, the use of the parable is common in the Old Testament.

Why ask this question? Is it because they did not understand the parable itself? Is it because they observed that the audience did not understand what he was talking about?

I'm not sure why they ask the question.

Matthew 13:11:

Clark is saying that it is a matter of time, the parables are given and will be understood once they have been put into Scripture. This is a process that will take everyone down the path to understanding the parable. However, the quotation of Isaiah 6 talking about the hard hearted people who can not understand the message does not seem to say the same thing. Isaiah's commission to preach had with it the hardheartedness of the people as an assumption of circumstances that will accompany his ministry. That is not to say that all preachers will have this same issue at all times. I think Jesus is saying that just as Isaiah has problems with the people not understanding his message, he also is not heard completely.

Another commentator says that the reason Jesus is speaking in parables is because some are elect and some are not. The elect will understand and the non-elect will not understand. If this is what Jesus is speaking about I'm not sure of the point here.

Is Jesus seeking to obfuscate or speak clearly? Perhaps something in between? I think initially that this is something in between. He uses a parable because the people can not hear the message clearly. They need to know in the parable that there are things the block their hearing of the message. Jesus is trying to explain that the things that keep them from hearing need to be addressed, a lack of understanding, unwillingness to suffer for the truth, or a distraction by cares of life and money. These things need to be addressed. Jesus I do not believe is attempting to mislead or obfuscate the truth. There is a degree of obfuscation in a parable because one is not describing the reality of the situation but something that is a kin to the reality. Instead of speaking of exactly what is being addressed, he talks about a common experience that everyone knows. There are different results of the seed producing what it is designed to produce based on the soils in which it is planted. Everyone would have known this. He is linking a common experience to what people do not know. What people do not know is the receptivity of their heart. Am I weedy, am I shallow, am I unable to understand?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Autism and Difference

Amanda is autistic and articulate, articulate at the keyboard. She does not speak except through the aid of her computer. The Wired article on her is fascinating. You might want to check it out. More important than Wired coverage is Amanda's thoughts. She understands herself quite well and might give you a thing or two to think about. Her blog, Ballastexistenz, is as sophisticated on the topic she covers as any other blog I have read. I don't think the Wired article links you to her blog, but to the YouTube video that has made her famous. By the way, Ballastexistenz as a name for her blog is quite sophisticated too. You might want to check out what the name means. If you don't get it, she does.

Our culture has a stories such as the Ugly Duckling, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and the Disney version of The Little Mermaid that tell us that difference and being a misfit is common and acceptable fact of life. However, when the difference is something society can explain and understand it is acceptable. When the context of the difference deviates too far from the norms, rejection is what many, not just Amanda, experience. It appears our cultural norm is to tell the misfit that they are gifted but we don't by and large tell society to accept the misfits except when if fits a certain profile.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

My birthday is March 23; March 23, 2008 is Easter

My birthday is March 23. Because Easter is calculated by a lunar calendar, it is on a day each year. The year I was born in 1963, Easter was on April 14th. The most recent time in history besides 2008 that Easter fell on March 23 was 1913.

Frequency of the Date of Easter 1875 to 2124

"Easter is the Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon. The Paschal Full Moon may occur from March 21 through April 18, inclusive. Thus the date of Easter is from March 22 through April 25, inclusive. The date of the Paschal full moon is determined from tables, and it may differ from the date of the the actual full moon by up to two days."

Slipper Saver

Authentic Hawaii for me was also meeting entrepreneurs. One was someone who worked in sales for Slipper Saver. Hawaiians call them slippers, I call them flip-flops. But this is a repair kit for those who have had a blow out. Hawaiians wear flip-flops all the times, so the product fits a niche market there. Others might find the product helpful too. Since the entrepreneur was helpful in my stay in Hawaii, I thought I might give the product some exposure on the web on my blog.

Authentic Hawaii

There is an article in the March 24, 2008 edition of Time magazine by John Cloud called Synthetic Authenticity. In this article the author talks about the ideas that what consumers are now purchasing is an experience, not a product. The explanation is that Walmart sells all products as a commodity. Starbucks sells an experience. You get the 98 cents cup of coffee or you can buy the $3.69 Italian coffee experience. I'm just finishing up my trip to Hawaii here and one of the things that impressed me is the difference of my experience. I saw both ends of the Hawaii spectrum. I visited both Waikiki to experience the packaged Hawaii, neat Hawaii and visited Volcano National Park(VNP). Just outside of Volcano National Park is a small town called Volcano or Volcano Village. If you Google the place you get Volcano, HI. If you look for the sign it says Volcano Village. It is the same place. I found that Volcano Village genuinely welcomes tourists. I was looking to not spend too much on my accommodations and the when the National Park lodge could not put me up Saturday night, they recommended a local establishment, Lava Lodge. Lava Lodge is not a resort, but it is affordable, clean, and quiet. I actually found the quiet very relaxing. If you like to spend a lot of time at a resort, you may be disappointed, but for me the resort may seem a little packaged. I prefer the Lava Lodge. A part of the experience for me was attending church at New Hope of Volcano, which I felt like I met people in their own environment. I was not a customer, but a guest. That is not guest as in the hotel industry guest, but visiting with a family of believers who welcomed me into their worship service. I love visiting churches, however, New Hope I think was the one who I have found most warm and welcoming. I also visited the Jagger Museum on VNP one evening while the crater was glowing. Many native Hawaiian families were there and celebrating the event. Again I was there as a guest. I was able to share the experience of the local families with mothers and aunts visiting, the men huddled in their grouping and the children were doing more running around than observing the glowing crater. To me it was not synthetic, it was authentic.

My IQ score is 138

Take this test!
Your mind's strengths allow you to think ahead of the game — to imagine or anticipate what should come next in just about any situation. Because you're equally skilled in the numerical and verbal universes of the brain, you can draw from multiple sources of information to come up with great ideas. The timelessness of your vision and the balance between your various skills are what make you a Visionary Philosopher.

In addition to your strengths in math and linguistics, you have a knack for matching and anticipating patterns. These skills and your uncanny ability to detect the underlying blueprint of most of life's situations add to your Visionary Philosopher mind.

Two philosophers who share the same combination of skills you possess are Plato and Benedict Spinoza. Spinoza had insight into how things worked in the world. He could envision a future based on the patterns he saw in life, and used mathematical logic as a structure within which to present his philosophical arguments. With that base he was able to use logic to formulate his theories. Borrowing from his linguistic strengths he wrote eloquent texts and, therefore, was able to bring his philosophical ideas and structure to the rest of the world. His story exemplifies the talents that are present in the Visionary Philosopher intellectual type.

Whatever you decide to do in life, you've got a powerful mix of skills and insight that can be applied in a wide variety of ways. You can expand your mind to understand a situation. Your strong balance of math and verbal skills will help you explain things to others. For example, if you were on an archaeological dig and discovered an object, you could probably use your deductive powers to figure out not only what the object was but also how it was used. Given your ability to put things together, you are more than capable of inventing a life plan that is in synch with your perspective on how things were, how they are, and how they might be one day.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Time to Blog About Caffine Again

I heard a new phrase this week, caffeine toxicity. As in my doctor said I had "caffeine toxicity". So after getting crazy addicted to caffeine and having it mess with my sleep, ability to get along with people and feelings of depression, I am wary of the substance. I wondered if that is what happened to me. So I looked up caffeine toxicity. I'm not sure exactly what is meant by this phrase, it appears to me that doctors might not agree either. An interesting article I found on the issue comes from what appears to be merely a lab technician, not a doctor. The resources she foot notes are not the Journal of the American Medical Association, but it is interesting none the less and is well foot noted. The article is called Caffeine Allergy by Ruth Whalen.

Friday, March 07, 2008

White People

If you have not caught it yet, there is a blog you must see. Sarcasm galore! It is the Stuff White People Like.