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It’s Time to Move Christmas to January

Today’s post comes to you from my perch high atop Mt. Crumpit.

I live in Iowa, in the heart of what is colloquially known as “the midwest” – even though it is not really “west” of anything but is more “mid mid” longitudinally. Latitudinally, we are north of most of you but still in the southern north half of the country.

It snows here. A lot, some years. We usually get our first snow on or about Thanksgiving. It may melt before Christmas, but about half the time our Christmases are white. It gets worse before it gets better; we’ll get about two feet of snow over the course of an average winter.

I live in a little town in Iowa. Marion has about 30,000 residents. My office downtown (we call it “uptown” here because we think that makes us sound sophisticated) is in a 150-year-old building across the street from Marion Square Park, which features a pavilion with the roof and footprint of the old railroad station that used to sit about a block east of its current location. About three quarters of the buildings I can see from my window are as old or older than the one I’m in. About a half dozen of them house antique shops.

The week after Thanksgiving, Santa Claus arrives at the park by fire truck and takes up residence in a little outhouse in the park. Kids line up around the block to see him. For the rest of the Christmas shopping season, Christmas carols are played over loudspeakers in the park. If we open our office windows (which we wouldn’t dare do), we can hear the music from the park across the street.

In these parts, looking forward to Christmas is what makes the crappy, cold weather bearable. The thought of Christmas, family, carols, cookies, and presents gives us the strength to get through the first month of winter weather.

The problem is, Christmas comes too soon. Sure, we’re happy basking in the knowledge that the miserable weather is what keeps the rest of you out of our quaint little town the rest of the year. But this twisted schadenfreude is not quite enough to make it worthwhile. Many of us actually leave town and go spend the winter in warmer climes. The rest of us tough it out by virtue of our mid-mid-south-north pluck.

I think it’s time we do something about this. I think it’s time we move Christmas to January. I think there’s a good case for doing this.

First, we need something to look forward to through more of winter. Moving Christmas to January 25 gives us another four weeks to revel in the anticipation and forget about the weather.

Second, Black Friday to Christmas Eve just isn’t long enough to get everything done that needs to be done. Retailers would love having another month of Christmas shopping.

Third, there’s no way Jesus was born in December anyway, let alone December 25th. We all know that a bunch of nascent Catholics abducted the Roman Saturnalia festival back in the fourth century and attached a bunch of churchy language to it. Jesus’ feelings won’t be hurt if we move his birthday celebration. We already moved it once when we decided to celebrate it on December 25.

Fourth, we all know that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is just a thinly disguised way for white people to assuage their guilt over slavery and something about lunch counters and bus seats. It’s kind of insulting to African Americans if you think about it, to think that we can make up for thousands of years of oppression with a Monday holiday. I, for one, am not comfortable insulting African Americans. If we move Christmas to January 25, we could move MLK Day to December 25 and make it the launch day of Kwanza, lending some credibility to a somewhat questionable, made-up holiday. Lending mutual credibility to two somewhat questionable, made-up holidays now that I think of it.

All-in-all, this is a great idea whose time has come. It will let us separate Jesus from the false gods of the Greeks and Romans; will let us give more attention to what will now be the unquestionably valid holidays of Kwanza and MLK Day (further removing us innocent white people from our evil, slave-owning ancestors); and will give us something to look forward to while shoveling driveways at 6AM so we won’t be late for work.


Little known Christmas fact: Did you know the woman who did the voice of Cindy Lou Who also did the voice of Bullwinkle’s side-kick Rocket J. “Rocky” Squirrel? Knowing this makes you smarter than your friends, but will ruin How the Grinch Stole Christmas for you, as you hear what sounds like a young flying squirrel asking, “Santie Claus, why?”

 

Does the Bible Permit Same-Sex Marriage?

With the recent Supreme Court ruling that discovered same-sex marriage hidden as a constitutional right by the founders, the attention has turned from the legality of gay marriage to the real target of the gay lobby: The destruction of Christianity.

While the court claimed it would not abridge the rights of religious institutions to practice their beliefs (which may not include marrying people of the same gender), it has done nothing to protect the rights of everyday citizens to decline participation in a gay marriage. It has forced bakers to bake cakes for, and photographers to take pictures of, same-sex weddings or face significant fines or jail time. The Supreme Court has thrown gasoline on the fires burning under Christians who would dare refuse to give their assent to what they see as a violation of their conscience.

One of the ways gay-rights activists are pressuring Christians is by trying to argue that the Bible does not address “sexual orientation” and does, in fact, approve of loving, committed homosexual relationships. One of the more popular advocates for this position is Matthew Vines, whose five-minute video has made its way into everyone’s Facebook newsfeed in recent weeks.

After writing extensively about the video in Facebook comments, I’ve decided to summarize those comments here so that I don’t have to keep re-typing them.

First, watch the video.

While it would be interesting to discuss the Old Testament verses Vines cites, I agree that Christ fulfills the requirements of the Law for the Christian, and that Bible-believing Christians are not under the Law. So for brevity, we’ll skip showing the flaws in his brief analysis of those verses.

Romans 1:26-27 are frequently cited by Christians to condemn homosexual behavior.

26For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Romans 1:26-27 (NASB)

When looking at Romans 1:26-27, Vines tries to argue that “unnatural relations” are made right if they’re done in “love”, “faithfulness”, and “commitment”.

But after Paul describes homosexual sins in Romans 1:26-27, he goes on to describe further what sins God gave them (those who rejected him) over to. These include greed, murder, deceit, and slander.

28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Romans 1:28-32 (NASB)

Again, Vines is arguing that the unnatural act of sex (I will call it unnatural in this article because the Bible does and because Vines admits later in the video that it is “unnatural”) between two men, clearly condemned here, is made right because it is done in love in a committed relationship. The argument he is making needs to be applied to the entire content of Paul’s condemnation though. So if unnatural sex is made right because of love, then if we love the person we are murdering, that makes it right. If we’re faithful to the person we are deceiving, that makes our deceit right, because Paul didn’t consider people in a faithful, deceptive relationship. If we commit to the person we are slandering, then it is OK because Paul isn’t describing a committed slanderer.

There isn’t anything in this list of sins that turns into righteousness if you do it with or to a person you love, are faithful to, and are committed to. So it’s not unreasonable to say that unnatural sex isn’t suddenly made right when done in love.

Vines describes the fact that many homosexual acts in Roman times happened between adult men and adolescent boys. He is trying to say that Paul is not objecting to gay sex per se, but to child abuse. But this is an attempt to gauge the behavior of the ancients by our mores and our legal standards. We would arrest and jail a person for having sex with a 12-year-old boy. While it is true that most male prostitutes in Roman times were, as he says, “adolescent” — ages 12-20 — it has only been in the last 100-150 years that our idea that a person can’t consent to sex until they’re 18 has become commonly held. In earlier eras, the age of sexual activity was tied more to puberty, not chronological age.

So the ancients weren’t pedophiles or pederasts per se. They were having sex with other “of-age” men. They just weren’t “of-age” by our modern standards.

Vines claims that the Bible’s prohibition of homosexual acts was really a prohibition on out-of-control lust. But there are two problems with this. First, verse 26 says God “gave them over to degrading passions”. He didn’t just give them over to their passions (i.e. to their out-of-control lust) but rather he gave them to degrading passions. He goes on to explain that what makes them degrading is that they are unnatural. The women exchanged natural relations with men for degrading, unnatural relations with women. The men similarly abandoned natural relations with women and burned in their desire for degrading, indecent (Greek ἀσχημοσύνη, “obscene”, “shameful”), unnatural relations with other men.

So the text simply does not support the idea that God was only condemning out-of-control lust.

Secondly, if we go back to verses 18-23 we see that people rejected the clear revelation of God and worshiped things God created instead of worshiping God.

18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

Romans 1:18-23 (NASB)

Therefore, because they rejected God and worshiped people and things instead of God, God gave them over not to out-of-control lust, but to impurity.

24Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Romans 1:24-25 (NASB)

They exchanged truth for lies, so in verses 26-27 God exchanges natural for unnatural. The emphasis is not on the lust, but on how the lust is manifested. The acts they perform are a picture of the unseen spiritual truth behind them. That is, they exchanged truth for lies, so God allowed them to exchange natural relations for unnatural ones. Instead of looking wise, they look foolish (verse 22) because they don’t even know how to have sex right.

Again, the thing that makes them look foolish was not their unbridled passion as Vines would have you believe but their rejection of God as manifested in their upside down, unnatural, sexual behavior.

Vines admits that God calls homosexual acts “unnatural” but then cites 1 Corinthians 11 as an example of something the Bible calls “unnatural” but that we don’t have a problem with — long hair on men. It’s difficult to use 1 Corinthians 11 as an analogy because it’s a bit of a confusing passage for most people. The general idea is that a woman should cover her head when she prays (or maybe it’s saying a woman’s long hair is given to her for a covering) and that a man should not cover his head when he prays (or maybe it’s saying he shouldn’t have long hair).

Vines says that in 1 Corinthians 11 God says for men to have long hair goes against nature. That’s not exactly correct.

14Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, 15but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.

1 Corinthians 11:14-15 (NASB)

It doesn’t say that long hair on a man is unnatural, it says that the “nature of things” teaches us that long hair on a man is dishonorable but that long hair on a woman is glorious.

Vines seems to be saying that “unnatural sex” is okay because 1 Corinthians 11 says a man with long hair is doing something “unnatural” and we all know men with long hair and there’s nothing wrong with that. But whatever 1 Corinthians 11 means, it does seem to be saying that long hair (or some kind of head covering) on a man while praying is a bad thing, not a good thing. So Vines is arguing that because we do this wrong thing (long hair on a man), then this other wrong thing (gay sex) is okay. This is a classic case of two wrongs not making a right. Note that it doesn’t matter whether you think 1 Corinthians 11 is to be moderated by cultural considerations or not. The argument here is that because Matthew Vines thinks we don’t have to follow whatever 1 Corinthians 11 says, then it’s OK not to follow what Romans 1 says. This is bad exegesis and bad logic.

Vines says that most people interpret “natural” and “unnatural” in 1 Corinthians 11 as a reference to cultural conventions. But this, too, is not the case. The pertinent passage is this one:

6For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.

1 Corinthians 11:6 (NASB)

The standard for “disgrace” here isn’t explicitly stated. Paul implies by his Greek grammar that it is disgraceful but there is no explicit reference to Old Testament law to justify this. So many assume this must be a reference to culture. That is, “if it is a disgrace (in our culture) for a woman to have her hair cut off (and it is)… let her be covered”. Those who argue a cultural interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11 say that it is not a disgrace in our culture for a woman to have short hair, so she doesn’t have to be covered.

As you can see, the cultural argument doesn’t have anything to do with whether “nature” teaches us that long hair on a man is dishonorable (verse 14).

Vines asserts that the concept of sexual orientation did not exist in the ancient world. It is true that homosexual sex was rampant in the Roman Empire, and at least according to Wikipedia, freeborn Roman men did not care whether their partners were male or female. But this was considered by the Jews to be a particularly “Gentile” vice. It was universally condemned in Jewish culture. Paul grew up in that culture and clearly distinguished between “normal men” who had sex with women and the malakoi (transgendered/transvestite men) and arsenokoi (homosexual men) who had sex with other men. Yes, they may not have had 5 or 51 or 63 genders or however many liberals claim there are now, but they knew the difference between natural and unnatural, “straight” and “gay” sex.

These are in fact the words Paul would have used to describe men who alter their appearance to look feminine and those who engage in homosexual activity whether he had a “concept of sexual orientation” or not. It’s not intellectually honest to change the meaning of those words two millennia later then claim he’s not talking about what he would’ve been talking about in the context of his time.

Vines goes on to say that while Paul took a dim view of gay sex, he had no knowledge of loving, committed gay relationships. Again, this is the argument that if I love the person I’m sinning with, then it isn’t sin. This just isn’t true and isn’t supported anywhere in the Bible.

He says the Bible doesn’t address the issues of sexual orientation nor same-sex marriage. But it does. He cites six places where the Bible addresses sexual orientation. It consistently condemns homosexual practices. And while we don’t see anything about same-sex marriage, we see a lot about marriage, and it always, always describes it as being between a man and a woman.

Matthew Vines is a sexually dysfunctional person who, as he says at the beginning of the video, went to the Bible to justify his sin. He’s not unlike every other Christian who has tried to twist God’s words to condone his or her own particular sin. His analysis of the text is weak at best; dishonest at worst. While this video is well-produced, it does not change what the Bible calls “sin” into righteousness. Bible-believing Christians are well-advised to look elsewhere for insight into this subject.

About the Picture

The picture with this article is of Sergius and Bacchus, two 4th-century Roman Catholic saints whose friendship has been abducted by gay Christians and turned into the story of the first gay marriage or some such nonsense. This is why real men reject society’s pressure for them to have BFFs with whom they share their true feelings and do yoga together. They don’t want somebody to come along in 1600 years and gay-marry them posthumously.

An Open Letter to Those Who Send Their “Sympathy”

This is the eighth in what has unfortunately turned into a series of articles. Here is the seventh, and here is the first

Since writing this, I’ve spoken to a person who knows Helen personally and confirms that the suspicions expressed in this article as to the source of these cards are true.

We have one of those US Mail “cluster boxes” at the entrance to our subdivision. Apparently the rising cost of postage doesn’t cover the cost of walking all the way to my front door, like it does for the homes a block away in an older neighborhood. As a result, I don’t pick up my mail very often. Maybe once a week or even once every other week. So our mail ends up coming in very large batches.  I normally sort the mail into “open eventually” and “recycle right now” piles. The former is divided into “business” and “personal” mail. Business mail gets taken to the office. Personal mail tends to sit unopened. All my important bills are paid automatically. What could be worth opening?

Today I received two hand-addressed envelopes, sent to me by my first initial and last name, and both sent from Oklahoma City, OK. Neither had a return address. One was sent three days after the other. It’s unusual to get a hand-addressed letter these days, so I opened the two cards right away even before finishing the sorting.

They were sympathy cards. That’s odd, because nobody close to me has died recently. They were unsigned, but each had a Bible reference hand-written inside. This is not an unusual way for Christians to wish each other well — sending along a Bible verse for encouragement. Nobody ever actually looks those up — or they’re so familiar that we don’t need to. But since I wasn’t expecting any sympathy cards and since these were unsigned, I thought the verses might contain a clue as to the identity of the sender and the reason he or she sent them.

They did.

The first passage cited was Matthew 12:36-37:

36But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

The second card cited Luke 6:45:

45A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Not your usual sympathy-card verses.

Both passages share the theme of judgment for good and evil words. Was someone trying to acknowledge something good I had said, or rebuke me for something evil? Given that they were sympathy cards, I can only assume the sender is saying that I or someone close to me should (or will) die for something evil I said. But who might think that of me?

I checked the postmark. Who do I know in Oklahoma? Nobody!

Wait… I do know somebody in Oklahoma!

Turns out Helen Joanne Pearce, my favorite Florida felon, is from Chickasha, OK — about 40 miles from Oklahoma City. Her parents still live there — at the address Helen cited in her petitions against Doug and me when she asked the court for an injunction against each of us. When Doug went to his hearing in March, Helen’s dad had come from Oklahoma to accompany her. I don’t know if he came for my hearing, since I stayed home and sent my High Priced Lawyer in my place. My High Priced Lawyer doesn’t care whose daddy shows up for the hearing, so he didn’t say if Helen had anyone with her.

Did Helen’s parents send the threatening cards?

The first card was sent three days after the judge dismissed Helen’s bogus petition for lack of jurisdiction. The second card was sent three days after that.

If Helen’s parents have been to this site they know I’ve never involved them in this matter. I have no intention of harming or even visiting them. I’ve never threatened them, never spoken to them, never even exchanged emails with them. I’ve never published their names or their address in connection with my investigation of their daughter’s fraudulent activity. I’ve never asked anyone else to contact them on my behalf.

My only concern for them is as a fellow parent of adult children. If I was in their position I would want to be aware of my daughter’s bad behavior for a couple of reasons. First, so that I could encourage her to change her ways and take up an honest profession. Second, so that I could be planning ahead for the future of my grandchildren in the event she ends up doing time for her multiple felonies.

Is it possible these anonymous cards are from someone else? Perhaps a disgruntled customer? Sure. But I’ve been doing this for almost 30 years now and I can tell you the usual odd stuff I get in the mail isn’t anything like this. It’s usually end-of-the-world prophecy newsletters, but I’ve also seen perpetual motion machine investment opportunities and — my favorite — a brochure on the benefits of castration for holy living. This is different.

And it’s unusual to get something anonymous. Most people want you to know who they are, because they see themselves as living prophets — the most important people on the planet.

And what a coincidence that this shows up at a time when I know I don’t have any heated discussions going on with customers, people on Facebook, members of my church, neighbors, etc. but I do have a rather incendiary website dealing with an un-convicted felon with ties to the location from which these cards were ostensibly sent.

And what a further amazing coincidence that the handwriting matches samples of handwriting in my possession known to be from Helen’s father.

So, Mr and Mrs Helen’s Parents, if these cards didn’t come from you, let me know. If they did come from you and you’ve thought better of it, I would welcome an apology. If I’ve misunderstood your message, I would welcome any positive contact from you to make it more clear.

In the meantime, I want to make sure this information is made public so that if I or a member of my family goes mysteriously missing, law enforcement will have a place to start. At a minimum, even if not involved in the death of me or a family member, the sender is already subject to up to five years in prison for sending threats through the US Postal Service (18 USC Chapter 41).

I am intentionally not posting pictures of the other card nor the envelopes. I am not posting any of the evidence I have that backs my assertion that these threats are from Helen’s parents. This is done in an effort to not elevate this aspect of the investigation, since it involves a third party against which no allegations of wrongdoing have been made as pertains to Helen’s fraudulent real estate activity.

Advancing Technology by Lying to Developers

Mobile devices have been increasing in screen size, screen resolution, memory, and other capabilities on a continuous basis from the time I got my first Apple Newton MessagePad in 1993. Back then screens were about 336×240 pixels, and each pixel was either on or off — no color. There was a total of 4.625 MB (that’s MEGA bytes) of memory. My first Windows CE device was probably my HP 620 LX in 1998. It was a “clamshell” design with a 640×240 screen and 16 MB of memory.

The thing we knew intuitively from being involved in personal computing since there was such a thing as personal computing was that “change is the status quo”. Our programs never assumed how big the screen was, because we knew our program would need to run next week on a bigger screen, so we wrote our code so that it queried the operating system to ask how big the screen was before dynamically laying out its user interface to fill all available pixels. We never assumed that devices would always be monochromatic, so we wrote our compressed file format to accommodate “words of Christ in red” before they could even be displayed in anything but black on a greenish screen. And even though the entire Bible wouldn’t fit in memory of those first devices, we plowed ahead with the best compression we could manage and a user interface that supported displaying two Bibles simultaneously, knowing that very soon you’d be able to get not just one of our Bibles but two whole Bibles onto the device at the same time.

Fast forward to the iPhone in 2007. When you work for Apple you apparently get big-headed and begin to think you’re among the smartest programmers in the world. Nobody can match your brilliance. Each generation of device you work on is “magical”. It has capabilities and features that nobody could have imagined even six months ago. Features like a more memory and a bigger screen.

Since you couldn’t imagine those features last year, and since you’re God’s gift to technology, you’re positive that nobody else could have imagined those features. So what’s going to happen to all those apps written by people “too dumb to work at Apple” when your new device with a bigger screen comes out? Why, they’ll crash, of course.

Not PocketBible.

You only have to be in this business a week to realize that you can’t hard-code your program to assume a particular screen size. But Apple does this with every single device. Up until iOS 8, we had to prepare a “splash image” to display when the program launched in every possible size and resolution. Currently, that means we have to create launch images in 13 different sizes, one for each iPhone screen size that has ever been shipped, in both portrait and landscape orientation.

Current iOS launch image requirements

Current iOS launch image requirements


If instead they allowed us to manipulate a single image at run-time, we could do all of these with one PNG. But they require us to know every size of every screen we might ever run on (by the way, the image above omits devices prior to the iPhone 4, which would add another half-dozen sizes if they hadn’t already been abandoned by Apple).

This isn’t about managing lots of images. It’s about a philosophy that can’t think past yesterday.

Because of this philosophy, when a bigger screen comes out, Apple either “letterboxes” old apps (putting black bars in the empty space that the program couldn’t possibly imagine would ever be there) or scales them (allowing them to believe the screen is no bigger than last year’s device, then scaling up everything they draw to fill the bigger screen). They believe they are saving developers from having to re-release their apps every time a new device comes out. But in reality, they are requiring every developer to re-release their app to jump through whatever hoop is required to get Apple to stop letterboxing or scaling their apps.

iPhone 6 scaling

Pre-iPhone 6 version of PocketBible on the left gets scaled up. Adding a “launch screen” (which is unrelated to drawing text) tells iOS not to lie to us about the screen size, producing the sharper image on the left with absolutely no changes to PocketBible code!


With iOS 7, there was a special checkbox we had to check to tell the OS that we understood their new semi-transparent user interface elements. With iOS 8, in order to convince iOS not to scale your app (producing blurry text), you have to provide a special, scalable launch image that works on any screen size. (Gee whiz, 2015 and we’re finally recognizing that screens might get bigger in the future! Thanks, Apple!) Until you do that (which requires re-releasing your app), iOS will lie to you about the size of the screen then scale your user interface up to the bigger physical size of the screen, producing blurry text.

Oh, and you still have to provide those 13 launch images for older devices.

The result of this policy of “technical advancement by lying to developers” is that instead of one guy at Apple having to write zero lines of new code, hundreds of thousands of developers have to update and re-release their apps. There would not have been a personal computing revolution in the 80’s and 90’s if Microsoft would have taken this approach. Back then, Microsoft would collect commercial software products and use them for regression testing of new versions of DOS and Windows. After all, you wouldn’t want to do something stupid and break every single app the way Apple does with every release of the iPhone.

This industry used to be exciting. I was like a kid in a candy shop. Technology was changing and we were riding the “bleeding edge”. Now I feel like the only grown up in the room. I want to slap some of these Apple and Google kids around and tell them to shape up.