“Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.”
The Lord to Moses
Some parts of the Bible seem to say, “Don’t just stand there, do something!” Meanwhile, others suggest the opposite, “Don’t just do something, stand there!” Exodus 14 is a call to the first. After the newly liberated Jews realized Pharaoh was coming after them – and had them trapped between his army and the Red Sea – they turned on Moses: “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?” In response, Moses declared, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance of the Lord. He will fight for you; you need only to be still.” That sounds like the perfect reply to me. Way to go Moses! You’ve learned to trust in the Lord. Except… this wasn’t a don’t just do something, stand there moment. It was the opposite. God responded to Moses’s direction to the people by asking: “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.” Lord, give us the wisdom to know which response is called for in addressing the challenges we currently face.
Crazy Days and Crazy Nights: I read the Parents’ Bill of Rights passed by the GOP, the counter proposal advanced by the Dems and the assessment of both by pundits on both sides. Expect public education to remain controversial until: 1) We agree on what constitutes as a good person; 2) We agree on what a healthy society looks like; and 3) We agree on whether parents or teachers have the final say. (Education has been controversial as far back as the ancient Greeks.) As an aside, I was encouraged by the Dean’s response to the chaos at Stanford Law School – where a federal judge was shouted down by petulant law students.
WOTW: Honorable mentions goes to: 1) Productivity Shame – the act of beating yourself up after failing to reach unrealistic goals; 2) Moral Muscle; and 3) Geriatric Millennial – those born between 1980 and 1985. Actual honors go to National Divorce. The idea that red states and blue states could go their separate ways makes no sense to me, but the term – and the sentiment – keeps popping up.
AI Update: Bill Gates recently said scary things about AI – and 1,000 AI experts (and Elon Musk) have called for a six-month moratorium on AI research – but I haven’t been able to get on to ChatGPT or Bard to see if I should be alarmed. That said, the more I fiddle with these tools: 1) The more amazed I am by what they can do; 2) The more amazed I am by what they can’t do; and 3) The less I trust them. AI in general – and these large language, neural network models – appear to be good at things we find hard, but struggle with much we find simple. They are also quick to just make things up. AI will change the world. One of the questions we should be asking ourselves is, how will it change us? Are you ready for what AI might bring? We often lack the moral muscle necessary to wisely integrate new technologies into our life. BTW, one of the things we can expect is that AI will be combined with other tech breakthroughs to push sex in new directions.
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FWIW: 1) You seldom hear fundamentalists admit that they might be wrong; 2) The news no longer comes at us 24/7. It’s more invasive than that. 3) There is something slightly odd about the secular world’s interest in thankfulness. Who are they giving thanks to?; 4) I was surprised this week when Microsoft Word flagged LGBTQIA as being misspelled. Then I realized it was holding out for the + at the end.
The Gulf Index: In Founding God’s Nation: Reading Exodus, Leon Kass argues that the newly freed Jews needed to master “the three basic needs of any people: 1) Sustenance; 2) Defense against attack; and 3) Provision of internal peace. The fireworks surrounding education this week leads me to think that while we are doing OK on 1 and 2, we are failing at 3. To that end, I am introducing a new metric: The Gulf Index, with which I attempt to measure the growing gap in the body politic. It will take me a while to calibrate things, but, if 1 = Utopia (not possible since Genesis 3), 9 = Civil War and 10 = National Divorce, I’m giving us a 7.3 at the moment. Abraham Lincoln, we need you.
Without Comment: 1) Facing recruiting challenges, the Navy has joined with the Army in allowing recruits “who don’t meet military fitness standards” additional time to get in shape; 2) This study suggests that – at least in some settings – money can buy happiness; 3) Barna claims that the number of pastors thinking about quitting has grown to 41%; 4) This study suggests that while college administrators are almost universally progressive, faculty are less so; 5) This graph shows that during the last twenty years, trust has gone down for every U.S. institution except the military; 6) Jesus Revolution – the Kelsey Grammer film about Chuck Smith and the start of Calvary Chapel – has now grossed more than many of this year’s Oscar nominees; and 7) This WSJ/NORC (National Opinion Research Council) poll reports significant declines in patriotism, religious faith, having children and other matters associated “with traditional American values.” (A graph of the results is here).
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I Will Be Out Next Week: Though I’ve never had an urge to run with the bulls, after the chaos of the last few years, Sheri and I have decided to head to Ivrea, Italy for the annual Battle of the Oranges. Wish us well.
On an Unrelated Note: Tomorrow is April 1 and the new date for Daylight Savings. Be sure to set your clocks ahead one hour.
Black’s Prayer: After the shooting in Nashville this week, Senate Chaplain Barry Black prayed, “Eternal God, we stand in awe of you. Lord, when babies die at a church school, it is time for us to move beyond thoughts and prayers. Remind our lawmakers of the words of the British statesman Edmund Burke: ‘All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.’”
Closing Prayer: May God the Father, and the eternal High Priest Jesus Christ, build us up in faith and truth and love, and grant us our portion among the saints with all those who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ. We pray for all believers, for kings and rulers, for the enemies of the cross of Christ, and for ourselves we pray that our fruit may abound and we be made perfect in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. (Polycarp 69-155)