Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Brief Reflection on the Holy Trinity

This morning I read a hymn titled Holy Holy. I don't believe I've ever heard this hymn before and I found the lyrics remarkable in terms of how it included the Trinity. It gave thanks to each person of the Trinity in a very faithful way: Gracious Father, we're so blest to be your children...Precious Jesus, we're so glad that you've redeemed us...Holy Spirit, come and fill our hearts anew. It kept the Trinity simple and understandable for the person singing.

We find it difficult to wrap our heads around the Trinity and rightfully so! There are many people who are dissatisfied with the Christian explanation of the Trinity, but how do you explain the nature of the eternal God to another person, let alone comprehend it fully despite your own human limitations? Moses couldn't even look upon the full glory of God!

The Trinity is the Godhead living in perfect unity within himself. Without the Trinity, we would have no foundation upon which we would build relationships with anyone or anything. This is, perhaps, the biggest difference between Christianity and every other religion. When all other gods are distant and untouchable because of their "holiness," our God designed us to practice relationships in a manner that is based on his own relational nature. In fact, Jesus prayed that we would all be brought into perfect unity with one another and with him (John 17:22-23). This is all a reflection of God's Trinitarian nature.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Brief Reflection: Reading in Greek

I am fairly satisfied with how my morning devotions have been going; reading through the Bible in Greek. It is a slow progression through the Bible; literally taking each day verse by verse and, most of the time, taking more than one day on a verse. Some of my professors considered learning the original languages of the Bible to be a spiritual discipline. I could understand why, as it takes a lot of focus and thought to read just one verse in a foreign language.

Has studying the Bible become just a routine practice for you? You don't have to read it in Greek or Hebrew, for that matter, to bring new life to your daily devotions. Simply reading in another translation is sometimes enough to restore your focus and draw you nearer to God through his Word. Changing things up a bit and sticking with it is a spiritual discipline in itself.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Bible and Immigration

Immigration is a hot topic in the political realm today. Inside of the Church it has created confusion concerning how to deal with people from foreign lands. The conservative stance is that people should be expected to enter legally, abide by the laws of the land, and assimilate to the American culture. The liberal stance is that all people are welcome into the country, and all people can stay here, as long as they find a way to reach this great nation. Liberals believe that special exemptions to the law must be made for foreigners, so that they can continue all of their former practices and traditions. These are completely opposing viewpoints. How are we to know right from wrong on the topic of immigration? Fortunately, the Bible does lay out some ground work on immigration.

Let us first start with the purpose of citizenship. Citizenship is meant to a provide protection to an individual. Exodus 22:21 says that a person should not vex a stranger. Vex, for our purposes, could be translated into oppression or persecution towards anyone. Conservatives favor legally documented and approved immigration, because undocumented entry into the country puts the immigrant at risk. Great numbers of immigrants are at the mercy of drug lords, gangs, the sex trade, and even children are put into permanent bondage to satisfy the needs and desires of wicked people who take advantage of the weak. Liberals and moderates refuse to see this reality, while conservatives seek to protect the most vulnerable people.

Immigrants, on every level, are inherently excluded from certain practices. In the Bible, foreigners were excluded from the Passover. In America, it is seen that all foreigners are disqualified from ever having the opportunity to become President. When it comes to undocumented/illegal immigrants, they are currently prohibited from voting. This law is good because people who do not understand or fully embrace the American culture should not be allowed to tell those, who embrace and understand it, how they ought to be governed.

Immigrants are expected to keep the laws of the land. The Law of the Old Testament makes it clear that nobody in the land of Israel would get special treatment: "One law shall be to him that is home-born, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you" (Exodus 12:49). The punishment for breaking the law for a foreigner living in Israel was no different than if it were a natural born Israelite.

In the Old Testament, a foreigner was accepted into Israel so long as the foreigner chose to obey the national laws. Deuteronomy 31:12 states, Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of his law."

Reading the Biblical description of an immigrant that is acceptable inside of the nation of Israel is much like hearing out the conservative stance on immigration. In fact, the standard to be an Israeli citizen in Biblical times was more strict than what it is to become an American citizen today! The nation of Israel, like America, had a lot of protections for its citizens and applied the laws to its citizens impartially, whether the person was wealthy and powerful or poor and weak. Living in "the land of the free" comes with a cost, but the cost of freedom is worth the sacrifice.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Bible and Homosexuality

After the land mark Supreme Court ruling a few years ago, homosexuality has been greatly accepted across the nation. Prior to the decision, conservatives fought hard to make sure that there would be no national mandate that would allow same-sex marriage to be forced upon every state. From a political perspective, the conservative stance is that such an issue should be left up to the states to decide. For the conservative libertarian, the state should not meddle in such affairs, and it ought to be left up to religious institutions and other social communities to make decisions regarding these issues. From a biblical perspective, homosexuality is a lifestyle of sin.

These days you will have people claim that the Bible does not speak against homosexuality. They will claim that Scriptures like 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 are mistranslated. This verse reads, "Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men, who have sex with men...will inherit the kingdom of God?" This verse is pretty clear, even in Greek translations. The Greek strengthens the case against homosexuality. 

People will, also, claim that Romans 1:27 is misinterpreted. Romans 1 details how mankind turned away from God. In verse 27, the Bible gives a specific instance of men departing from natural relations with women:  "In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error." The text means exactly what it says. 

There are many other attempts to justify homosexuality throughout Scripture but one of the most notorious is that Jesus never addresses homosexuality during his ministry. If homosexuality is such a bad sin, why did Jesus not care to talk about it? 

The nation of Israel had a law against homosexuality delivered by God himself through Moses: "Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable" (Leviticus 18:22). Jesus dealt with issues/sins that were relevant to the context like divorce, breaking oaths, dishonoring parents, refusal to forgive, and so on. Homosexuality was not a sin that the nation of Israel questioned. They followed the moral laws of the Old Testament, which included this issue. Clearly, the Word of God speaks against homosexuality. 

There is much more that could be said on the Bible's teachings against homosexuality, but what about from a political perspective?

Both parties, for the longest time, opposed same-sex marriage. President Obama opposed same-sex marriage during his first campaign for President. Hillary Clinton opposed same-sex marriage all the way up to the early 2000's. Republicans have always had a strong voice against same-sex marriage and even wanted an amendment to the Constitution to protect the sanctity of traditional marriage. 

Recently, the Democrat party has decided that gay marriage is part of their platform. It is consistent with the progressive ideology that drives liberal thinking. Obama was not the first to accept the practice, but he has been its biggest proponent during his 2012 campaign. Republicans have conceded to allow same-sex marriage in every state, but conservatives maintain the belief that individual states should be allowed to decide for themselves on this subject.

The reality is that the majority of states would strike down same-sex marriage as a legal institution. A few years back, states were voting on whether or not to legalize same-sex marriage and the majority voted "NO." The country anxiously awaited California's votes to be counted, as they voted on the issue, expecting such a liberal state to easily legalize the practice. To the shock and dismay to the liberal movement, California voted against same-sex marriage. It was left to the state Supreme Court to swoop in and declare the vote of the people to be unconstitutional, thus nullifying the will of the people and legalizing same-sex marriage in California.

Homosexuality is promoted by liberals. They are in direct opposition to clear Biblical teachings. However, the majority of the people of this nation, as well as God Himself!, have a vote against this lifestyle. 

The Bible and Abortion

There was a day and age when Christians could be "pro-choice" in good conscience, but that day has come and gone. The movement now known as pro-life is the stand alone opposition to "pro-choice," and is the conservative stance in relation to abortion. Pro-life is the most consistent stance to Biblical teachings.

The Bible does not clearly address abortion. The closest the Bible gets to the topic of abortion is a law penalizing men who would hit a pregnant woman, causing her child to die (Exodus 21:22-23). Aside from that specific instance in the Bible of killing children inside of the mother's womb, there is mention of killing children once they have been born. And, that is abominable according to the Word of God.

The first noteworthy example in the Bible of infanticide is in the book of Exodus when Pharaoh orders for the murder of all newborn male children. It was such an abhorrent act that God commended the midwives for lying to save their newborn children. The act of infanticide is then reflected later on in the story of Jesus' birth where king Herod ordered for the death of every male child under the age of two years. The New Testament even cites a prophetic Scripture referencing Rachel weeping for her children. These two examples, however, are infanticide on a mass scale from an outside oppressor and not the decision of the parents.

In Deuteronomy 9:5, God says it is for wickedness' sake that he drove the Caananite nations out from before the Israelites.  One of the chief sins among the Caananites was infant/child sacrifice where they would burn their children alive. This is very similar to the brutality involved in an abortion.

The case that is given to justify abortion today is made by liberal Democrats. They claim that it is in the name of women's rights that she may have an abortion if she so desires. It is also under the guise that the baby, in its mother's womb is nothing more than a mass of cells and is essentially part of the mother's body. This is not true.

Having taken courses in bioethics, I do not recall a single case where even the most liberal ethicists would say that an unborn child was not a living organism nor would they concede that it was not human. Every serious ethicist, that I studied, concluded that based off of scientific data the unborn child was both living and human. The argument that liberal ethicists make to defend a pro-abortion stance is that the child is not a contributing member of society, thus he or she is not a person. If you think that argument is absolutely absurd, you are correct.

It is a myth that killing an unborn child is in favor of women's rights. Pro-life advocates believe in women's rights, but they also believe in the rights of an unborn child. The woman has rights,the choice is made when two consenting adults decide to have intercourse, which may result in the conception of a child. Once a life is born, the right to harm that child is not a right. The baby has a right to live. If an unborn child is both living and human, it follows that he or she is not just a part of his or her mother. Baby is a distinct human being. Thus it is no longer a right for a woman to decide what to do with that child's life anymore than it is her right to murder a full grown adult.

 There are, of course, objections to this argument. Without going to deep into the cases of rape and incest, I will simply state that a child should not be punished for the crime that another person committed against his or her mother. What about the case where a mother's life is at risk? Even in these cases, abortion is not necessary. A reliable OB will tell you that if worst comes to worst, a woman can be induced and prematurely deliver the baby to avoid an abortion. Even if the child dies in this instance, it at least gives them the possibility for life opposed to prematurely terminating the life.

As serious of an offense as abortion is, it is forgivable by God. Jesus died for the sins of all mankind and that includes those who have had an abortion. Where the Old Covenant would say such a person should be killed, the Gospel teaches that we can extend grace to people who have made a mistake like this. Sadly, most women consent to have abortions because they are misled into believing that their unborn child is just a mass of cells. My heart goes out to these people. I pray we now seek truth from the Word of God, rather than the ideas of sinful mankind.


The Bible and Abortion

Issue #1: Abortion

There was a day and age when Christians could be "pro-choice" in good conscience, but that day has come and gone. The movement now known as pro-life is the stand alone opposition to "pro-choice," and is the conservative stance in relation to abortion. Pro-life is the most consistent stance to Biblical teachings.

The Bible does not clearly address abortion. The closest the Bible gets to the topic of abortion is a law penalizing men who would hit a pregnant woman, causing her child to die (Exodus 21:22-23). Aside from that specific instance in the Bible of killing children inside of the mother's womb, there is mention of killing children once they have been born. And, that is abominable according to the Word of God.

The first noteworthy example in the Bible of infanticide is in the book of Exodus when Pharaoh orders for the murder of all newborn male children. It was such an abhorrent act that God commended the midwives for lying to save their newborn children. The act of infanticide is then reflected later on in the story of Jesus' birth where king Herod ordered for the death of every male child under the age of two years. The New Testament even cites a prophetic Scripture referencing Rachel weeping for her children. These two examples, however, are infanticide on a mass scale from an outside oppressor and not the decision of the parents.

In Deuteronomy 9:5, God says it is for wickedness' sake that he drove the Caananite nations out from before the Israelites.  One of the chief sins among the Caananites was infant/child sacrifice where they would burn their children alive. This is very similar to the brutality involved in an abortion.

The case that is given to justify abortion today is made by liberal Democrats. They claim that it is in the name of women's rights that she may have an abortion if she so desires. It is also under the guise that the baby, in its mother's womb is nothing more than a mass of cells and is essentially part of the mother's body. This is not true.

Having taken courses in bioethics, I do not recall a single case where even the most liberal ethicists would say that an unborn child was not a living organism nor would they concede that it was not human. Every serious ethicist, that I studied, concluded that based off of scientific data the unborn child was both living and human. The argument that liberal ethicists make to defend a pro-abortion stance is that the child is not a contributing member of society, thus he or she is not a person. If you think that argument is absolutely absurd, you are correct.

It is also a myth that killing an unborn child is in favor of women's rights. The woman has rights, and if she chooses to conceive, that is her choice. Once a life is born, the right to harm that child is not a right. The baby has a right to live. If an unborn child is both living and human, it follows that he or she is not just a part of his or her mother. Baby is a distinct human being. Thus it is no longer a right for a woman to decide what to do with that child's life anymore than it is her right to murder a full grown adult.

Ultimately, the choice is made when two consenting adults decide to have intercourse which results in the conception of a child. After this decision has been made, nobody has a right to abort a baby. Without going to deep into the cases of rape and incest, I will simply state that a child should not be punished for the crime that another person committed against his or her mother.

What about the case where a mother's life is at risk? Even in these cases, abortion is not necessary. A reliable OB will tell you that if worst comes to worst, a woman can be induced and prematurely deliver the baby to avoid an abortion. Even if the child dies in this instance, it at least gives them the possibility for life opposed to prematurely terminating the life.

As serious of an offense as abortion is, it is forgivable by God. Jesus died for the sins of all mankind and that includes those who have had an abortion. Where the Old Covenant would say such a person should be killed, the Gospel teaches that we can extend grace to people who have made a mistake like this. Sadly, most women consent to have abortions because they are misled into believing that their unborn child is just a mass of cells. My heart goes out to these people. I pray we now seek truth from the Word of God, rather than the ideas of sinful mankind.


Friday, March 17, 2017

The Bible and Alcohol

For starters, this post is not meant to offend anyone on either side of this debate. It is intended to be educational on the subject of what the Bible says about the topic of drinking alcoholic beverages.

Having said that, both sides will find things they agree with in this post and both sides will find things they disagree with. If you decide to use this post to back your point in a discussion, great! But please use it within it's full context. The Bible has a lot to say about drinking.

I think it will be the easiest to start with the conclusions that we should all agree on, according to the Bible, DRUNKENNESS IS A SIN (Ephesians 5:18). On that point, I do not think I need to elaborate too much.

One justification that people use to say that drunkenness is alright, according to Biblical standards, is that Jesus was referred to as a "drunkard" (Matthew 11:19). It is true that people made those claims. They were trying to find fault with Jesus so that he could be executed. In Matthew 11:19, Jesus is addressing the hypocrisy of these claims. The people condemn John for not drinking, while these same people condemn Jesus for drinking.  His accusers are actually quoting a command out of Deuteronomy in an effort to condemn Jesus: "They shall say to the elders, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.' Then all the men of his town are to STONE HIM TO DEATH. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid" (Deuteronomy 21:20-21). Clearly, Jesus was not a drunkard, but drunkenness is condemned in Scripture.

Concerning drinking, in general, there have been attempts to cast condemnation on the entire practice of drinking. It is clear that the Bible condemns drunkenness, but it also has some strong passages against drinking. Proverbs 31:4, 6 reads, "it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer...Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish!" Proverbs 23 strongly warns against even spending time with people who make a practice of drinking and warns against personal indulgence of alcohol when it might seem to be most pleasurable. There is definitely a case to be made against drinking, as a regular practice, within the Bible.

However, contextually the Bible is not condemning drinking an alcoholic beverage on every occasion. The impression that these verses leave are that people who are consumed by alcohol have impaired judgment. We'd be lying if we said we don't know what they are talking about. I don't think a word for alcoholic had yet been invented, but it is clear that it is, in most instances, referring to people that have given themselves over to a routine of drinking excess amounts of alcohol. Once again, I defy anyone to tell me this is not clear given the context. In relation to "The king" in Proverbs 31, it is a very clear admonition that a king should not drink. Given the cultural context, however, I find it hard to believe that the king was discouraged from drinking at all.

Numbers 6:20 states, clearly, when a Nazirite, who does not drink wine, was permitted to drink wine. Numbers 18:12 reads, "I give you all the finest olive oil and all the finest new wine and grain they give the Lord as the firstfruits of their harvest." Wine in this context is a blessing. If we go into the New Testament, the case that drinking was permitted is even stronger. Jesus' first miracle in Cana in Galilee was to turn water into wine (John 2). One of the most significant practices in Christianity was instituted by Jesus, who established it through the drinking of wine and then declared that he would drink it again with his disciples in heaven (Matthew 26:29)! This brings us to the next argument, did the people of the Bible drink real wine or non-fermented grape juice?

An argument has arisen that claims that the juice that was Biblically approved was not fermented. On this subject, I have heard both sides of the debate. One Greek professor, of whom I am aware, said that it was merely grape juice, according to the language in Greek. Another professor I had, that has a doctorate in both Greek and Hebrew, who studied Greek at a seminary that required its students to translate the entire New Testament from Greek, and attended a Jewish seminary to get his doctorate in Near Eastern languages (Hebrew), WHO DOES NOT DRINK HIMSELF, stated that the word in the Greek is absolutely implying that the beverage WAS ALCOHOLIC. The first professor (Greek only) is a smart man that I highly respect, but had less than a decade of studying Greek. The latter professor devoted decades of his life to learning both Greek and Hebrew. To me, the Greek/Hebrew professor's word is good enough for me and the fact he does not use it as a justification to drink further strengthens his argument. I'm not going to get into the actual word study because neither I, nor the people who take the counter position, are educated enough in Greek or Hebrew to make an authoritative claim on the subject.

Romans 14:21 states, "It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall." People use this argument to say that a person should not drink. Overall, I agree. However, most of the time it is not believers trying to protect the weak in faith from drinking. Instead, most of the time, my experience is that it is believers of strong faith who are trying to discourage other believers who are strong in faith from drinking. It was either Billy or Franklin Graham that told a story about how one of their friends who lived in France invited them to dinner. In France, everyone drinks wine and a glass for every meal. Their friend said, "You refuse to drink wine. And you do it unto the Lord. My wife and I drink wine. And we do it unto the Lord."

Colossians 2:16 states, "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink..." We need to be sensitive to those weaker in faith, but it is not our duty to allow them to remain infants in faith. The Apostle Paul and Timothy are the perfect example. Paul had Timothy circumcised so that the Jewish believers would hear him out regarding his ministry to the Gentiles. But when it came to the doctrine of circumcision, when he taught the Gentiles, he said that he did not encourage them to be circumcised in the flesh, but in the heart (Romans 2:29). And his rebuke toward Jewish believers who thought circumcision was necessary was harsh (Galatians 5:12)! There are other issues we could wrongfully discourage and have been discouraged at some points in church history. Marriage is one of the practices that we could easily condemn in the light of Scripture and yet I do not know a single person who would say that marriage should be forbidden throughout the church. Or what about modesty? Or women covering their heads or being silent in church? I'm not discouraging any of these things, but there are clear commands given within Scripture concerning these practices that are far more clear than the justification for churches that prohibit alcohol altogether.

This blog post is in response to a specific article that I skimmed regarding this topic in which the person who wrote the article stated, "I don't know a single person who would say drinking alcohol makes them feel anymore Christ-like." Fine and good, but what other pleasures, that are not prohibited by Scripture, do not make you feel more Christ-like? Maybe, eating a steak? Sitting in a hot tub? Drinking a soda? Eating a candy bar? Relaxing? I think you get the point.

St. Patrick brewed beer to keep the Irish, who drank a lot of whiskey, from getting drunk. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien would wind down at a bar over a glass of beer and discuss their books. I even heard one bold pastor say that he was going to enjoy a glass of his favorite beer as he watched the Super Bowl at home. Drinking is comforting to some people like eating ice cream is comforting to others.

My stance on alcohol: Drunkenness is wrong, period. Drinking in moderation is acceptable. Abstaining from alcohol is acceptable and should be practiced when it is clear it could cause someone to stumble. Looking down on fellow believers who enjoy a glass of wine or a cold beer from time-to-time is ill advised.

Concerning church prohibitions on drinking: I believe that individual churches have the right to lay down their criteria concerning church membership or eldership. If that includes abstinence from alcohol, that is acceptable.

I think my Scriptural case is strong, but what are your thoughts?


Billy the Brown Bag: Go Browns!

I know it's not football season yet, but already Browns fans are hunkering down for a rough season. I know that I typically don't call myself a Browns fan - rather, a well wisher of the Browns - but I seriously want to see the Browns have the best season that they have had in a long time. My idea for getting fans energized (and maybe even the players) might not seem conventional, but I think it will remove the frustration of a disappointing season and replace it with the fun, excitement, and flat out enjoyment that results in teams not only seeing success, but winning Super Bowls.

My team for the past couple decades has been the Green Bay Packers. I remember when they started winning back in the early 90's. It all started with a no name, backup quarterback known as Brett Favre. He took over when their starter, at the time, Dan Majkowski, got injured. He brought them back against the Cincinnati Bengals for a victory, and the rest was history. But what was it about Favre that turned around the Packer's franchise?

Energy, excitement, and the joy of being able to say that you were going to the football game because it was going to be a fun time, whether the Pack won or lost. Some of these traditions transcended the Favre era, but suddenly Cheese Heads and sub-zero shirtless fans became meaningful. Things that seemed ridiculous became points of pride, not just for the fans, but for the players. They started jump over walls and into their fans who fanatically cheered them on to victory. Those were great years.

Today, Browns fans have the same opportunity. All it takes is a little excitement and I am officially starting the Billy the Brown Bag movement. What is the Billy the Brown Bag movement? Without giving away too many details, yet, it is a movement to energize Browns fans to encourage players that they aren't just entertaining a bunch of people judging them on their performance, but are genuinely excited to see the players on the field and doing their best: NO MATTER WHAT. It will involve an element of ridiculousness. Billy the Brown Bag, after all, is our mascot.

I will keep you posted as we move forward with our initiative. With the proper amount of respect and enthusiasm from fans, who knows, maybe a Brett Favre will emerge among the Browns and we will be there to say, "I was a part of that movement," when the time comes that the Browns play in The Big Game. It will happen and it will happen soon... 


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Godzilla Movies: Worst to Best TOP 5 GODZILLA MOVIES!!!

Here we are, the very top of the Godzilla movies list. These 5 stand out in very special ways to Godzilla fans. One of these 5, I have hardly ever, if ever, seen in a top 5 list. Nonetheless, when you read the justification behind each selection, I think you'll find it hard to disagree that these are the best-of-the-best Godzilla movies. Number 1 might surprise you at first, but I think many of us will agree after a little bit of thought.

#5) Godzilla (2014): 2014 was the first time that audiences got to experience a purely American Godzilla movie which was true to the title character. G2014 is set up like a horror movie but unfolds like an action movie. It is not without its perceived shortcomings but, in my opinion, lots of the perceived shortcomings were some of the most powerful elements of this movie.
The most notable of these would be the limited screen time G is allotted. A good number of fans complained that he was only on screen for about 10 minutes. Honestly, had it not been pointed out, I would never have noticed. G2014 is so well laid out that if you sit back and allow the plot to unfold, there is enough monster action to keep your pallet wet. Gareth Edwards, the director, made it clear that he wanted less Godzilla so that his presence when he appeared would be overwhelming. I think this was an excellent strategy that played out well overall. Before moving on to the negatives, I heard a lot of positive talk concerning the M.U.T.O.s. One of the best things a Godzilla movie can do is introduce a new monster. The M.U.T.O.s were a nice addition.

Having said all of this, the film team over did their effort to limit Godzilla’s screen time. The most annoying element of this movie is how a battle sequence would be ready to commence, only to cut out to another scene. In a few of the battles, you only get to experience it in vague snippets. My true #1 complaint about this movie, though, is how poorly the final battle sequence appears on DVD. I remember seeing it at the theater and it was awe-inspiring. When you watch it on DVD, you have to adjust the brightness and the sharpness just to see the final battle. And I don’t mean a little; A LOT!
The most amazing scenes in this movie were when Godzilla unleashed his atomic blast. During both scenes where he did this, I felt like a kid again.

#4) Return of Godzilla: AKA: Godzilla 1985. This was the first attempt to erase Godzilla’s past all the way through until the first movie and create a sequel to the original story. A lot of fans hated this installment, but I feel like it is one of the most brilliant GFilms. It restored the horror element of the original Gojira as well as the themes of atomic/nuclear doom by including the Cold War in the storyline.

There is no rival monster in this movie, but Godzilla’s presence is enough to make you shudder and the Super X (the original Super X) is one of the most formidable weapons ever to face Godzilla.
Fans did not appreciate the original score to this movie. It abandoned all of the work Ifukube did in composing the score for the original series to go a new direction. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why fans were opposed to the new direction in the soundtrack. The soundtrack captures the menace Godzilla represents to humanity perfectly. The music and the action mesh up perfectly. The Super X theme is heroic. The theme for when Godzilla is dropped into Mt. Mihara is heart wrenching. The soundtrack to G85 is probably the most solid of the entire series.

Many fans also disliked the political element that came along with the inclusion of Cold War themes. I personally appreciated how well they took current events and molded their movie around them.
On that note, I must make a confession. I actually like the Americanized Godzilla 1985 more than the Japanese original The Return of Godzilla. There are several elements that were different that I felt really enhanced G85. For one, in the Japanese version a Russian Sailor tries to prevent the launch of a nuclear missile. In the American version, the Russian Sailor intentionally launches a nuclear missile.
The scenes that really enhanced the movie in G85, though, were those that included Raymond Burr who reprised his role as Steven Martin (a reporter who appeared in the Americanized version of Gojira titled, Godzilla King of the Monsters). Burr was an excellent actor who added a whole new dimension to the eeriness of this film that made it possible for Americans to fully grip the horror of Godzilla.

THE highlight from the Americanized version, however, is Burr’s monologue at the end of the movie with the backdrop of the erupting Mt. Mihara which had just swallowed up Godzilla. It will almost bring a tear to your eye.

#3) Gojira: Yes, the original masterpiece is #3 on my list. It could be easily argued that this is the best film in the franchise. I’m not going to exhaust myself giving all of the details. See it yourself, both versions (Godzilla King of the Monsters), and you’ll know why.

The musical score is downright creepy. The black and white filmography adds an element of horror that we struggle to capture in full color movies. The special effects were top notch for their day and have stood the test of time, for the most part. Godzilla’s first onscreen appearance is menacing as he peeks over the peak of a mountain to a bunch of villagers who were expecting to slay the beast until they saw his immense size.

Dr. Serizawa is an icon of Japanese film culture as he sacrificed himself to rid the world of two horrible threats. The love triangle that takes place and ends in tragedy adds yet another layer to the movie that cannot go unappreciated. Politics swirl around the existence of the prehistoric beast Godzilla as it is debated about what he is, how he came to be, whether he should be studied, or if he should be destroyed.

The reality is, I can go over all of the pros of this movie without telling you the whole movie. And, again, the Americanized version with Raymond Burr is really good too. See them both.

#2) Shin Godzilla: I was fortunate enough that I was able to see Shin Godzilla at a movie theater. By far, this is the boldest of the Japanese Godzilla films. All of the others piggy backed off of the success of the original Gojira. Shin Godzilla, is Toho’s first attempt to scrap any history of their character Godzilla and give him a fresh new origin. Boy o boy did it work.

The first time you see this movie, you will not know what to expect and I almost feel bad revealing that this movie does not include any previous Godzilla storyline. As I sat in the theater, I was trying to figure out if they knew anything about Godzilla or if they viewed him as the first of his kind.
This is the first of any of the Godzilla movies where his real name is actually Godzilla (which supposedly means God Incarnate) and that Gojira is the Japanese pronunciation (which is backwards from the original series).

This is probably the most terrifying Godzilla of the entire series. I will warn you, despite the fact that in his first appearance he is not fully evolved, it is one of the creepiest scenes involving Godzilla. As the first form of Godzilla strolls into the city, the theme Persecution of the Masses plays in the background.

Persecution of the Masses is probably the best Godzilla song to date. The rest of the soundtrack is composed of classic Ifukube songs from the original movie (aside from Who Will Know, from the epic first atomic breath scene). All in all, the soundtrack is darn near perfect.

After Godzilla has fully evolved, he doesn’t appear as creepy as he did earlier in the movie. Thus, you let your guard down and say, “Good, the horror movie is over now.” Oh no, the horror movie is escalated when Godzilla unleashes his atomic blast for the first time. You watch helplessly as this unstoppable beast exposes the helplessness of those he is persecuting.

Shin Godzilla should be released to Blue Ray and DVD soon. There is much more that I can say about this movie, but you must see it for yourself. Warning: Godzilla does not have a lot of screen time in this movie.

#1) Terror of Mechagodzilla: I am not kidding when I say that Terror of Mechagodzilla (particularly the original Japanese version) is the perfect Godzilla movie. After the first Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla, Toho made some improvements, particularly with the music. The soundtrack is epic and opens the movie with a sampling of its score.

The opening sequence gives background concerning what happened in GvMG and does it in a manner that makes the opening sequence more enjoyable than wathching GvMG at all.
TMGhas  an incredible cast of characters featuring interesting human roles that go unrivaled in any of the other Godzilla movies (maybe with the exception of Godzilla ’98). You have scientists, aliens, military personnel, Interpol agents, and you feel like you get to know them all sufficiently in the short span in which this movie takes place.

Aside from Mothra vs Godzilla, this movie features the first scenario where Godzilla must single handedly take on two monsters at once. And the two monsters that he must face are Mechagodzilla and a brand new monster known as Titanosaurus.

Now, there are some elements of this movie that are definitely cheesy. The special effects aren’t perfect and Titanosaurus has the ability to create extraordinary winds using a fan-shaped fin on the back of his tail. The winds are so extraordinary that they are able to knock Godzilla off of his feet. Such a feat is ridiculous. This movie also makes use of a trademark super kick that launches opponents miles away (maybe not miles) and defies the laws of physics. I am probably missing a few other cheesy elements, but with this movie, the cheese fits well.

Godzilla is more like a super hero in this movie, which allows for cheesy moments, but the bad guys are definitely sinister. In the original Japanese movie, elements of the original Gojira are captured in the mood as MG and Titanosaurus stomp through Tokyo, trampling people as they go.
The intention of TMG was to send Godzilla off into the sunset. It was supposed to be the last Godzilla movie (which it wasn’t) and his creators wanted to end the series on a positive note. The American version ends on a totally uplifting note, with Godzilla triumphantly wading into the sunset. 

The Japanese version, on the other hand, reveals some elements that , although you are happy for Godzilla, you see the cost of victory from the human standpoint.

This is THE Godzilla movie that I must sit at attention to every time I watch it. It has always been a favorite of mine and I have recently concluded that despite the incredible technological improvements coupled with expert storytelling, this movie possesses every element in a G movie that a GFan wants to see. Mayhem, heroics, tragedy, and triumph.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Quick Reflection on Obamacare 2.0 and Free Markets

Last night yielded a good deal of frustration. As I continued to hear reports from house Republicans concerning Obamacare 2.0/RINOcare. For some reason they think that helping the healthcare and insurance ndustries along promotes the free market. Last I checked, the free market is defined by its lack of government intervention. It also bothers me how they keep on saying how 2.0 is the conservative solution to obamacare. I have learned that when somebody touts how conservative they are or how something else is, it probably isn't at all (i.e. John McCain 2008). If you are confident that something is  conservative, be transparent with the details and allow us to make the decision judging whether it is conservative or not. We'll see what happens with the healthcare mess the Republicans are adding to. But in case anyone was wondering, free market means lack of government intervention; not creative ways to subsidize and make purchasing "easier" for low income earners.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Conservatives vs Liberals

We are on a roll with this series on The Bible and Politics and the discussion of what is liberal and what is conservative. Let's keep the discussion rolling.

Another important point I have observed within America is the difference between the voting class and the political class in each respective ideology. Remember, the ideology itself is not inherently political but will naturally be the driving force behind a political agenda.

Within conservatism, the base has proven to be ideological as a whole. Conservative values resonate well with pepole who are out on the job site, getting into the muck and grime of every day life. Certain aspects of conservative ideology that might seem cruel, in a philosophical sense, are observed, by active conservatives, to be the most compassionate and helpful tenets in the real world.

The political class of conservatism has mostly consisted of loosEly ideological to non-ideological opportunists. They see that conservatism resonates well with their base, but don't believe that most peoplease would choose conservative values if they were given the choice of conservative policy vs liberal policy. This has been a serious detriment to the conservative political agenda because the ideological base is consistently rejected by their elected representatives and the representarives are too afraid to do anything that might threaten their chances of re-election. They believe if they carry forth a conservative agenda, the sleeping masses will awaken and vote them out of office, but that if they don't obey their constituents they will not receive their vote a second time around. This results in excuses that concede to liberal policies under the guise that the politics behind passing an agenda are too complicated to implement for whatever reason.

Liberalism, on the other hand, is the opposite. The liberal base is mostly non-ideological. Their are parts of the liberal agenda that sound good to them, but they really have no idea where the ideas come from. They suppose that common sense dictates that people want clean air, a safety net in time of trouble, and the right to do whatever you want with your body. They are correct because everyone agrees with these principles, but for different ideological reasons.

The political class of librealism is nothing but ideologues these days. This is why their agenda carries the day evengeance when they are the minority in the government. To them, messaging is what is important to win the votes of their constituents. Everything in their message is focused on "such and such is broken/unfair, thus, if you elect me I will give the people such and such to make up for this inequity." Furthermore, they are constantly looking at expanding their base by reaching out to previously ignored minority/people groups. Everyone has a grievance and no grievance is too absurd for the political liberals to cater toward.

Let me know your thoughts. Would you agree with my analysis of conservatism and liberalism so far?


Monday, March 13, 2017

Clarity on Liberalism

Although I have previously provided what I perceive to be an accurate definition of current American Liberalism, I found some of the language I used to be potentially insulting to those who might consider themselves to be liberal. This post will clarify the definition of liberalism as it currently exists in America.

First of all, this definition is not uniform. A politician who considers him or her self to be liberal is different from the average voting liberal.

The voting liberal is a person who believes that liberalism is supposed to serve as a source of fairness and compassion in society. This is what most people will notice as they encounter liberals in discussion. Themes like equal rights, individual choice, and social justice appear in one form or another in just about every political discussion among liberal voters. Liberal voters have good hearts, whether or not one agrees with their thoughts on how to fix social ills.

The political liberals, on the other hand, are the ideological branch of liberalism. Where conservatives stand upon eternal principles, political liberals hold few eternal principles to be self evident. In other words, they define reality differently from conservatives. Most of the principles that political liberals hold dear are based on a progressive understanding of the world.

When you get to the higher levels of thought in liberalism, you will hear the term enlightenment used from time to time. I think enlightenment defines how political liberals define the understanding of reality.

Enlightenment is the idea that all understanding must be deduced through reasoning. If you consider the religion of Buddhism, it represents this understanding of reality very well. It is a highly intellectual practice that focuses on introspection of one's inner being (coming to terms with one's own identity) and the search for the common factor that unifies everything in the universe.

Individualism is viewed as more of an internal practice, but society is viewed as something that needs to function in unity. This is where socialism becomes appealing to liberals because it provides such a structure for this dichotomy. The one who is truly enlightened will see the bigger picture; namely that your life is part of a much larger functioning system. The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few. This is also why environmentalism is a chief cause among liberals. Without the planet, what else is there for the life that dwells upon it?

I am critical of liberalism, not because of its surface arguments, but because of those arguments deeper implications. Certain aspects of liberalism have become religious to the movement and have thus become dogmatic. Currently, the political class is wrestling to resolve the conflict their extrapolations on their ideology have created. I would love to know your thoughts on how I have defined liberalism in this post.


Kong: Action Packed!

Kong Skull Island is a fun, action-packed movie that draws from a set of ideas that make it appear original and brings clarity to a greater story line that is being woven.

One of my favorite themes throughout the movie was that there are forces at work that nobody is aware of (that are invisible, if you will) that will determine the fate of the planet. Kong is the benevolent protector of the people and creatures of Skull Island while the Skull Crawlers are the "demons" that don't only threaten the population of the island, but of the entire planet.

A refreshing point of both Skull Island and Godzilla 2014 was that their plots do not just rehash the same elements that most other scifi movies are guilty of. The cliched themes being solely rooted in evolution, climate change, and other progressive/environmental alarmist messages. Skull Island does use the evolutionary reality of the survival of the fittest, but also makes it appear as though there is some permanence to the world of gods and men.

One of the new, unique, and interesting realities now established in the Monster-verse, is the inclusion of the Hollow Earth Theory. I am only vaguely familiar with Hollow Earth Theory, but I loved how they deviated from conventional wisdom and status quo thinking to create a world full of monsters that could very well exist in the real world.

As far as the quality of the movie (was it good, was it bad?) it was excellent. Kong looked amazing and was as brutal as ever; displaying his primal rage as he battled off both human and monster adversaries. It incorporated elements from ALL of the Kong movies, including the little known King Kong Escapes (in which I would contest the level of his intellect and sympathy toward humans could be attributed). The movie is non-stop action from the opening scene up to the closing credits. The acting is excellent, the script is well written and lays a wonderful groundwork for the Monsterverse, and the ending is satisfying...including the after the credits scene.

In closing, just some warnings. This movie has a fair amount of swearing. Of course, what would a movie be without your trade-mark Sam Jackson lines (one of which is cut off mid-sentence). It is pretty darn violent as well. Some of the gorier scenes are left for the viewers imagination, but there is plenty of trampling and eating of people to warrant an upper PG13 rating. Yes, upper PG13. What you don't have to worry about is anything of sexual nature, which typically does find its way into most Kong films. Fortunately, this one kept the female character very modest and all relationships were 100% platonic and disinterested in romance (who has time for love when everything is trying to kill you?). My assessment, kids can handle this movie if they like things a little more on the intense side, but if they don't, wait to see this one with them.

All in all, great movie. It gets me excited to see what the rest of the Monsterverse will bring; of which we already know of the next two installments: Godzilla King of the Monsters and Godzilla vs Kong. Can't wait!


Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Bible and Politics part 4

It is one thing to claim that Jesus' outlook was inherently conservative, but it is another to actually see a Biblical example where a conservative movement was willing to accept the message of the Gospel while a liberal movement strongly opposed the news of the resurrection. The Pharisees and the Sadducees are the Biblical representations of this debate.

Remember, conservatives, according to our cultural understanding, uphold traditions and believe in eternal values. Liberals believe in a process of enlightenment by which traditions, former institutions, and values evolve, are redefined, and can be rendered obsolete. 

Most Christians that read the Bible are familiar with the Pharisees. They were a strong part of the opposition to the message that Jesus himself preached. They confronted him time and time again with their rules and traditions to justify themselves. Because Jesus recognized their hypocrisy and was willing to point it out, the Pharisees sought to trap Jesus in his words and convict him of the highest crimes. The Pharisees are the ones responsible for having Jesus executed and they were, indeed, the conservative sect of Israel in those days.

The Sadducees are a group that garner less attention from Bible believing Christians, but were just as strongly condemned by Jesus as the Pharisees. The only Gospel that mentions them much is Matthew, which makes sense because it is the Gospel written for and from an Israelite's perspective. Throughout Matthew, the author references "The Pharisees and the Sadducees" together 6 times. In a few instances the Sadducees confront Jesus alone. The most famous confrontation between Jesus and the Sadducees occurs in all 3 synoptic Gospels. In this instance the reader learns that the Sadducees did not believe that the dead would one day be resurrected. In other words, they did not take the Scriptures literally. They were the liberal sect of Israel in those days.

In relation to Jesus' pre-resurrection ministry, the lesson was that the academic world had it wrong through and through. The conservative scholars were so hung up on rules and traditions (many of which they made up through extrapolating principles taught in the Old Testament Scriptures) and the liberals just seemed to care more about interpreting the Scriptures as a metaphor or an allegory. They all missed the boat when Jesus revealed himself to them and challenged their worldviews. But when we move into the book of Acts, there is a drastic shift in the Israeli academic and political climate.

Many of the Pharisees started to receive Jesus. Acts 5 is the first expression of sympathy of a Pharisee with the Gospel message. A teacher named Gamaliel advocated for the release of the Apostles, claiming that they could have been commissioned by God. Who was it that had the Apostles arrested? The Sadducees. (I am not advocating that Gamaliel became a believer as some scholars suggest that he probably did not). In Acts 15, it is revealed that there were Pharisees that believed the Gospel, but advocated adding the Law of Moses to the Law of Grace. Then, in Acts 23, a riot erupts as Paul appeals to a crowd full of both Pharisees and Sudducees and reveals that he came from the Pharisees, originally.

The scene in Acts 23 is particularly interesting.The reason Paul appealed to the Pharisees was because he understood their convictions and their zeal in remaining obediently steadfast to the ancient Scriptures. He knew they took it seriously, as he did, and then proceeded to talk about the resurrection of the dead, which resonated with their beliefs! Verse 7 states that the Pharisees and Sadducees became divided and verse 8 reveals why:

(The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.) - v. 8

In verse 9, the Pharisees declared that Paul had done nothing wrong, but the Sadducees hated Paul's message because it flew in the face of their worldview. Their interpretation of the Scriptures was from a liberal perspective, thus they did not believe in the supernatural.

Oddly, despite the fact that the Pharisees and Sadducees are now gone, this divide still exists inside of the Jewish community! A large portion of American Jews highly revere the Old Testament, but do not believe in the supernatural aspects of its teachings. Instead, they find it to be a book of wisdom and heritage. On the other hand, you have the Orthodox Jews that believe in the Old Testament writings in a more literal manner. Naturally, the Orthodox Jews are typically conservative and the non-orthodox Jews are typically liberal. 

The bottom line is that people who interpret the Scriptures from a conservative perspective are more likely to take the message of the Gospel seriously and are more likely to lean to the conservative side of the political spectrum as well. It is much more difficult to convince someone who reads the Bible with a liberal perspective concerning the necessity to believe in the core doctrines of the Gospel message (i.e. the virgin birth, the miracles Jesus performed, the Resurrection, and other supernatural points of the New Testament). Many liberal Christians opt to believe that the core message of the Bible is to love people and to be non-judgmental and most believe in God to one capacity or another.

Nonetheless, the Gospel message is not entirely conservative in nature. That will be addressed in a future post. Next time, to solidify the point that the Gospel and the entirety of Scripture is inherently conservative, we will go through several commonly held political issues to see which side of the political spectrum is more consistent in applying Biblical teachings.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Understanding Trump: Liberalism, Conservatism, and the Third Option

I just realized that the "Third Option" could be mistaken for the "Third Way" that has been mentioned lately in relation to politics and, for clarity, that is not what I am referring to.

One of my recent focuses has been on the concept of how Conservatives and Liberals define reality in America. Conservatives define reality through absolute principles and Liberals define reality through an evolving set of values. In my Bible and Politics series, these are the two competing belief systems that I address. There is a third.

Many people might say that the Third Option is Libertarianism. However, within the Libertarian movement there appears to be conservatives and liberals. If it consists of both, then it cannot be a third option, but more of a political movement of its own because the Republican Party and (at one time) the Democrat Party consisted of both conservatives and liberals as well. The third option is actually where the majority of people reside and will make sense of where voters are politically in this country.

The Third Option is Immediate Self Interest. Do not confuse this with selfishness, it is not selfish to be concerned with solving one's own problems. One cannot solve others problems until his or her own problems have been sufficiently dealt with. BUT, this ideological/non-ideological course can be troublesome.

Ultimately, there are no guiding principles to this option aside from success. My conviction about Donald Trump is that he is not an ideological politician. He views politicians as incompetent, inefficient, and failures in relation to their service towards the American people. He views things through the prism of Success or Failure. This is not necessarily bad, but it has been a hindrance to some of his decisions.

Although Obamacare is in the process of being replaced and the current "popular" Republican Bill has not yet been approved, it is filled with problems. To Donald Trump, he sees Obamacare as an abominable failure. One of the biggest complaints about Obamacare is that it has an individual mandate which penalizes those who do not buy insurance. The "popular" Bill gets rid of the mandate, thus Trump is satisfied.

Trump's objective is not difficult to understand. He stated his goal from the beginning, "Make America Great Again." This is the goal to achieving his personal goals and achieving this objective will satisfy the needs of the American people which are rooted in their own self interests. But let's go back for a minute and see what got us into this mess. You will be fascinated to know that it was the pursuit of self interest void of guiding principles.

I have heard the numbers in relation to the polls that show people's disapproval of Obamacare. The funny thing is that the polls have been showing these numbers ever since Obama was elected in 2008. Dare I say, I don't believe it when people say they disapprove or disapproved of the concept of Obamacare. Aside from other factors, I think the Affordable Care Act was precisely why Obama was elected and re-elected.

Although many of the promises of the ACA were later proven to be lies, it promised affordable health insurance for all Americans. It expanded government handouts in the form of Medicaid. A lot of people, many of which do not vote, I think were very satisfied with the affordable care act at the detriment of many others. Despite the failings of the Obama administration, as a whole, during his first term as President, remember his campaign slogan: Hope and Change. This appealed to people's desire to have their self-interests fulfilled. His second campaign slogan was forward implying his goal was not yet fulfilled. This helped people to trust that Obama wanted to help them, but external forces were preventing him from catering to their interests. People did not notice significant improvement in their situations at the end of Obama. Enter, Make America Great Again.

Instead of having solid ideological convictions, people are tossed to and fro from one good idea to the next. The healthcare system is broke: we need Obamacare. America is broke: we need to Make America Great Again. The mistake most Americans are making is that they believe the solution to all of their problems needs to be immediate, extreme, and centralized in one person. They are correct in the last point. Solving your problems are rooted in you, not someone else. That's why I am a conservative. My philosophy, what's best for me and for other people is for others to mind their own situations and endorse politics that make that possible.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Firm Grasp on the Truth

Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. - John 18:37

Last night I posted an article on Facebook concerning a bizarre phenomenon where people who were pronounced dead (albeit a small sample), 10 minutes later displayed significant brain activity. When I shared it, this is what I had to say concerning the article:

"In a bioethics course I took, we were not allowed to invoke religious beliefs to build an ethical case on any matter. When it came to the topic of assisted suicide, I ultimately argued that it was wrong because, aside from religious convictions, nobody knows what happens when you die. I got docked for using a bad argument. Well well well, looks like my argument wasn't so wrong after all. If you have a strong grip on the truth, conclusions like this are not hard to deduce.."

Now, this is a little tricky because I was referring to truth in using an argument to state whether an action was ethical or unethical, while placing my convictions aside and making a secular case concerning why something was either right or wrong. I am not secular. Thus, when I stated that "Nobody knows what happens after we die" is not something I actually believe, but was a blanket statement to say, "Not everyone agrees what happens to us when we die."

My secular, probably atheist, professor (whom I never met face-to-face, due to it being an online course) more than likely knocked my grade because the assumption was, "If you die, your brain ceases to operate." Scientifically, at the time, I agreed. But because of my conviction that something does happen after we die, I could not bring myself to accept the premise that we know that the atheist premise, concerning what happens after we die, was true.

So my thought process was, a lot of people have different beliefs regarding what happens after we die; we know what happens to the body after we die; but we still don't understand what the mind and spirit are in a scientific sense; to simply say that the end of the body is the end of existence does not need to be true in a physical sense. To someone who does not believe in God, of course this would sound absurd. The mind would be nothing more than the product of the system of one's body. If the body dies, the mind ceases to exist. And what's this talk about a spirit?

What is fascinating about this observation, with brain activity after death (mind you, I only skimmed the article, so I could have missed something) is that as a Christian I believe in the Resurrection of the dead. That does not mean I fully understand what that entails. What I can say with certainty, as a Christian, was that when Jesus rose from the dead, he rose in his own body but his body was glorified. It was the same, but greater. Could brain activity after death be an indicator of a pre-resurrection status?

This goes into a much deeper theological point, and I am just throwing out ideas without believing nor endorsing any of them at this point, but Jesus himself may have given hints at such a phenomenon. We are quick to dismiss it when he states, "It is better to enter heaven maimed..." hold the phone here; enter heaven maimed? (notice he doesn't indicate that someone will remain maimed in heaven, but enter heaven maimed). We simply conclude, he's speaking in hyperbole. Was he?

Sin is a very serious thing and I believe he meant what he said. It's not to say you will enter heaven maimed, but who are we to say, contrary to the words of Jesus that the physical infirmities that we bore in this life will not be carried with us to the judgment? Were not Jesus' scars present when he appeared to his disciples?

And this is not to say that these infirmities would remain in heaven, of course they will not, but we have not even come close to tapping into the mind-body-spirit connection that is a reality in this life. My professor made an error to assume that death was the end of everything, physical and otherwise. Having a firm grasp on the truth, however, will lead us to discoveries that at the present moment we cannot grasp.


Godzilla Movies: Worst to Best 10-6

We have entered the top 10 of the Godzilla films! These are indeed the best of the best and despite the quality/enjoyability of the other movies in the upper half of the list, these are the GFilms that you appreciate more every time you see them.

#10) Godzilla x Mothra x Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.: Another Godzilla movie that I did a 180 on. In my opinion, this one is better than its prequel, Godzilla x Mechagodzilla. Kiryu was proven as an effective weapon against Godzilla and had been assigned to fend off any future Godzilla attacks. There’s a twist, Mothra doesn’t like it that the first Godzilla’s bones had not been laid to rest and requested that Kiryu retire and that he would take his place in defending Japan. A three way, and later four way, monster battle breaks out in Tokyo, show-casing Toho’s new special effects, and a wonderfully choreographed battle. It is as good as its prequel with a few improvements.

#9) Godzilla v Biollante: An often overlooked installment in the Heisei Series but with one of the most popular villains, Biollante. Of course, villain might be overstating it, because Godzilla is the villain of this movie. After wrecking Tokyo, the world scrambles to obtain samples of Godzilla’s cells. A grieved scientist, in hopes of preserving the life of his deceased daughter (or something like that), fuses a sample of Godzilla cells with a rose and his daughter’s cells. The result is an abominable plant monster named Biollante. What fans love about Biollante is that he or she dwarfs Godzilla and even attempts to eat him in one scene.

There are only a few drawbacks to this movie. I was not a fan of the JSDF theme in this movie (I’m not referring to the classic one by Ifukube, but the new one that sounded totally out of place when Super X2 first confronts Godzilla). The only other real complaint is that the story is somewhat slow moving and there is not a bunch of Godzilla action.

On the other hand, concerning a G movie with a rival monster, the only film that surpasses this one’s special effects is G2014. I enjoyed the plot and the inclusion of the G cells became somewhat of a foundational point for the rest of the series. Godzilla’s escape from Mt. Mihara is one of the most well-accomplished film sequences in the series. All of the characters were inspired and this was the first film to include Miss Sagusa, the psychic (who becomes the main character of the Heisei Series).
Supposedly, Biollante was designed by a dentist. If you’ve seen the 80’s version of Little Shop of Horrors, you would find this fact quite ironic.
#8) Mothra v Godzilla: Not to be confused with the 90’s Godzilla vs Mothra. MothravG took full advantage of G’s early villain status and played it to the bone. This movie was a sequel to King Kong vs Godzilla and G’s entrance answers the question concerning his whereabouts at the conclusion of the said movie. Godzilla mercilessly rampages across Japan destroying everything in sight while the military desperately tries to put him down. The grim reality for Japan is that nothing can stop Godzilla and Godzilla will stop at nothing from wiping Japan off of the map. The only hope for Japan, and perhaps mankind, is the giant insect Mothra (a giant moth if you haven’t caught on).
Mothra is a beast in this movie. He/she (I can never figure this out with Mothra) dwarfs Godzilla, but is nearing the end of its life span. However, Mothra has an egg that has landed on the shore of Japan that could provide hope for mankind if it is allowed to hatch. A greedy corporate entity swoops in and claims ownership of the egg which results in a lesson about greed.
Downers about this movie? It’s one of the more preachy of the Godzilla movies, for sure. Also, I don’t like watching Godzilla be defeated by a couple of rollie pollies, no matter how awesome of a battle it was leading up to the conclusion.

#7) Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack: To really appreciate this movie you have to watch the original Gojira in Japanese. Elements of Godzilla’s existence in this movie do not make sense otherwise. Once you have that background, it is easy to admit that GMK is one of the most well-done G movies, and probably the best of the 2000 series (even though this film is a stand-alone and not really part of the actual 2000 series in the strictest sense).

As the name suggests, Mothra and King Ghidorah appear in this movie, but we are given the added bonus of Baragon, as well. One must wonder how Baragon did not make the final cut in the title, seeing how fans loved his battle with Big G.

The downside to this movie is it seemed like the creators really struggled with understanding who their audience was. Certain elements suggested they were marketing to kids. Other elements suggested they were marketing to adults. Given that they provided one of the fiercest looking Godzilla designs in the series had him kill the other three featured monsters, they probably should have focused on adults for this movie. Also, King Ghidorah’s appearance was admittedly lacking and the ending was somewhat lame, but touching nonetheless.

Regardless, the music was pretty good. The special effects were great. The only portrayal of Mothra that was better in the series was that in Tokyo S.O.S. Overall, they nailed Godzilla’s screen presence in this movie. One of the unexpected advantages GMK had over other Godzilla movies was a mystical/fantasy element that was probably inspired by the 90’s Gamera Trilogy. At the end of the movie, even though the humans prevail, it is learned that Godzilla is more or less immortal.

#6) King Kong v Godzilla: Fans will probably be outraged over this selection for #6 on my chart. First, I opted to not call Godzilla 98 the worst GFilm ever and now I am saying that KKvG is just one movie outside of the top five? Why do fans have a tendency to underrate this installment?
I actually wrote a hub page article about this phenomenon where I boldly stated that King Kong defeated Godzilla. This fact infuriates Godzilla fans, but requires them also to wonder, why did G lose? It was not a matter of Kong being the stronger monster. It was because Kong was the underdog and G (this being his third film) was still considered a villain. King Kong had always been more of an anti-hero who was intruded upon by mankind and lashed out in order to defend his territory. This is the same story for KKvG. Humans travel to Kong’s island, sedate him, and bring him back to Japan to do battle with Godzilla.
Mind you, I have not seen even a 100th of the Japanese version and I know for a fact that the Americanized version is horribly butchered (My guess is that Godzilla is a cross between a Tyrannosaurs Rex and the Stegosaurus; also known as the plated lizard - actual line from one of the American actors, as though Godzilla had no history in their universe). Regardless, the action is incredible. Its monster battle is as intense as G Raids Again but pits two known movie monsters against one another. KKvG is one of my go-to movies. Whenever I don’t know what to turn on, it’s on my list of Why not this one? options.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017


There's no telling where we would be if the President of the United States would have been Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, or Bobby Jindal; but one thing these three hammered on throughout the primary campaign was the need to REPEAL Obamacare. It is not time to throw Donald Trump under the bus, as it seems he supports a multi-phased solution to Obamacare, but if he is alright with signing Paul Ryan's American Healthcare Act into law (provided it gets full Congressional approval) than a lot of people's hesitations to support Trump during the Republican Primary will have been entirely justified.

Mark Levin dubbed the American Healthcare Act RINOcare, and rightfully so. It represents everything that is the current Republican Party in all of its incompetence. A RINO, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, is a Republican In Name Only. Unfortunately, the title may be outdated as it seems that the majority of the Republican Party is made up of what would have been called RINOs not that long ago.

Nonetheless, leave it to the Republican Party to take a bill that was designed to fail and to make it worse. Yes, the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) was designed to fail from the beginning so that voters would run to the government for a solution to the ACA, which the government would graciously propose and implement a single payer program/socialized medicine. Well, the AHA merely eliminates the individual mandate, which is the worst part of Obamacare, but was the mechanism that funded the entire ACA. Without the individual mandate, the ACA would have failed a lot faster. Thus, the AHA will make the Republicans look like a bunch of incompetent fools and will finally attach their name to a healthcare bill that the American people can hate them over.

On the bright side, maybe the American voter will wake up. The Democrats failed Americans with the ACA. The Republicans will fail Americans if they pass the AHA. Conservative like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have supported another bill that would REPEAL Obamacare and that is the solution America needs to the healthcare debacle.

I'll give Trump time to redeem himself. But, my hesitation with Trump was rooted in this very issue. It was clear he would be strong on the border. It was also clear he would be weak on Obamacare. Regardless, I shudder to think what would have become of the ACA had Hillary Clinton been elected as the President.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Purpose of Life

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. - Ephesians 2:10

At some point in our lives, we start wondering what our purpose in life is. Ephesians 2:10 has always been a reminder to me that God has set aside tasks for us to do that he had planned from the foundations of the earth. Notice, however, how specific this verse is in defining our purpose.

It states that we were created in Christ Jesus to do good works. That's awesome, because those of us who believe have a reason to live intentionally! We can go about our daily lives not wondering what it is that God wants us to do because we have faith that the Holy Spirit will direct us to accomplish his will and his plans wherever it is we may go. In the verses leading up to this verse, we are reminded what life as the non-believer was like.

Verse 2 said that we walked in accordance to the prince of the power of the air (the devil), verse 3 says that we were children of God's wrath (those who were on course to hell), and (following verse 10) the Bible says that we were without hope and without God in the world. What a sad and bleak existence we lived before Jesus made himself known to us!

Woven between these verses is a wonderful reminder, though: "Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." (v.4-7) Wow!

Let's praise God for his grace and mercy! While we were totally undeserving of forgiveness and totally deserving of wrath, God turned us away from the Law of Justice and handed us over to the Law of Grace through Jesus Christ his only begotten Son.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Bible and Politics part 3

I stated in the last entry that Jesus's message was inherently conservative, although there was a liberal side to it. This post will be devoted to explaining how my interpretation is not a political statement. Let us dive further into what it means to be either liberal or conservative.

Liberal and conservative transcends politics. People whose only interest in these terms extends to what they hear on the nightly news might view them as political leanings, but they are not. They are two different ways of defining reality.

Conservatism is a way of viewing reality based on eternal principles (thanks Ben Shapiro for the phrase eternal principles). You might better understand what this means through the word Absolutes. Conservatives believe that the world is defined through absolutes.

Liberalism is a way of viewing reality where the person observing the world defines reality and one person's definition is as good as another's. You might better understand this concept through the phrase the truth is relative. True liberals, in the progressive sense, believe that they are the sole determiners of what is true and what is not.

A non-political example of these two perspectives, of which I am imminently familiar, is that of Bible interpretation (which we so happen to be discussing).

A conservative Bible Scholar reads the Bible and concludes that the Bible means what it says. You might consider a conservative to be more of a literalist. That is why conservative Bible scholars will debate the meaning of the original words in the Biblical text to define the meaning of words. For instance, a conservative Bible scholar will not necessarily believe that God created the world in 6 literal days, but they will conclude that the days described in the creation account are defined by some absolute standard that is allowed through the interpretation of the original Hebrew word, yom.

A liberal Bible scholar reads the Bible and concludes that the Bible can be interpretted strictly according to context and will see an evolution of thought throughout the Bible. A liberal Bible scholar might see the creation account as more of an allegory (sorry conservatives, some of you interpret Genesis this way too, in contradiction to how you interpret the rest of the Bible). A liberal Bible scholar does not have a defined way of interpreting the Biblical text and many will say that such crucial doctrines, such as the resurrection of Jesus, are merely allegories meant to inspire faith.

So, conservatism and liberalism are not necessarily exclusive to politics, they also leak into the world of, well, worldview! The next post will give you a Biblical example of how two religious political groups, in the day of Jesus, supports my claim that Jesus' message was inherently conservative.


Sunday, March 5, 2017

King Kong Movies: Brief Reviews

Unlike my list of the worst to best Godzilla movies, I am choosing to give just a brief review of each Kong movie. This list will be chronological order opposed to worst-to-best or best-to-worst. Kong: Skull Island comes will be released Friday, March 10 in theaters.

King Kong: Not just the best of the Kong movies, but also ranked as one of the greatest movies of all-time. It will blow your mind to realize that this movie was made in the 1930's! The special effects are incredible for its day, matching the ambition of such an extravagant project. Skull Island is a place of terror and excitement as the sailors and film crew battle it out with vicious dinosaurs to rescue the lovely Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) from the clutches of King Kong. Many memorable moments in this film, including the appearance of Kong, Kong's epic battle with a tyrannosaurus rex, and his battle with a squad of fighter planes atop the Empire State Building. Best Kong film, thus far, and a movie for the ages indeed.

Son of Kong: Not a very memorable movie, but not bad. Film maker Carl Denham decides to return to Skull Island, for some reason, and stumbles across Kong's son. The Son of Kong is a much friendlier creature that spends the entirety of the film protecting the humans he has befriended. Not a lot of memorable scenes in this movie; a lot fewer dinosaurs. One of the most disappointing parts is that Kong dies, once again, and then Skull Island gets totally submerged underwater...Kong drowns to death rescuing Hilda, if I am not mistaken. I need to see this one again to make sure I've got my facts straight.

King Kong vs Godzilla: Possibly my favorite of the Kong films as it co-features the Japanese icon, Godzilla. I have not posted my top ten, yet, of the Godzilla movies, but for those people following thus far, you will notice this title has not appeared in the rankings from 11-31. So it's a top 10 Godzilla movie in my book. A pharmaceutical company goes on an expedition to bring back a miracle berry and stumbles across King Kong in the process. He is sedated and brought back to Japan, where Godzilla has already begun his rampage across the country side. The two monsters are pitted against one another in a final showdown in which the military hoped both creatures would be killed. Neither one died in this encounter...whoops.

King Kong Escapes: A very interesting title that was probably prematurely made. A band of explorers stumble across King Kong on an island, like always, and a mad scientist seeks to enslave Kong after finding that his mechanical version of King Kong is not sufficient for working in the mines. The first appearance of Gorosaur, for the Toho universe, is in this film as he is pitted against Kong in a similar manner as Kong vs the T. Rex of the first movie. The final battle of the film puts Kong against his mechanical adversary Mechani-Kong. Ultimately, Kong is the hero of this film. It appeared Toho wanted to capitalize on the success of King Kong v Godzilla, but this movie failed to meet the high expectations set by its predecessor.

King Kong (1976): A movie that had all of the potential in the world, but fell flat on its face. Clearly a film trying to capitalize on the sexual revolution and the sex-sells movement as practically every shot in the movie is meant to stir the imaginations of teenage boys. On a positive note, the Kong suit in this film was stellar; giving Kong a Sasquatch type of look. The special effects, though, are ho-hum, the battle on top of the World Trade Center could have been better, and, what's this?, NO DINOSAURS? Kong's epic duel in this movie is against a giant snake. A movie that did not meet the expectations of fans.

King Kong Lives: The sequel to the remake of Kong '76. Less memorable, but at least made good on Kong's epic fall off of the World Trade Center. Where the traditional story with Kong is that he dies after falling off of the giant building, this movie starts with the premise that Kong survived his fall and he is given an enormous pace-maker to preserve his life. The crew travels back to Skull Island and discover Kong's mate! Kong's mate is brought to America and the two wreak havoc together. Really, I don't remember much about this film and don't care to see it again. Kong dies, again, but his pregnant mate gives birth to a baby Kong at the end of the movie. As cheesy as Kong Escapes is, I think this would be the worst of the Kong films.

King Kong (2005): A great movie in its own right. It would be as good as the original minus its flaws. My apologies for not doing a great film justice, but since it is just as good as the original Kong in about every department, I'm going to focus on why I prefer the original. First of all, the movie is directed by Peter Jackson and for some reason he decided to make the movie 3 hours long! Way too long for a Kong film. There is a chase scene involving a whole bunch of long necked and predatory dinosaurs that lasts too long and becomes a little ridiculous after a while. The Kong vs T. Rex (actually known as V. Rex in this movie) is overblown. Instead of Kong facing off with one massive T. Rex, he battles it out with a whole pack of V. Rexes. Towards the end of the battle, Kong faces off with one last V. Rex. After killing an entire pack, I kinda felt like, "Really? This V. Rex finds it worth it to eat the one tiny morsel (Ann Darrow) instead of looking elsewhere for sustenance? Kong just killed 5 generations of your family right before your eyes!" But, the visuals are stunning, the acting is great, the movie all around is awesome and captures the feel of the original. I just can't justify blocking off 3 hours to watch this one movie when I could watch the original twice in the same span of time.

Kong: Skull Island: I am highly anticipating this movie. One suspicion of mine was already confirmed and I can't wait to watch Kong duke it out with a new batch of military and Skull Crawlers. I am very excited to see that this is just a warm-up for the epic Godzilla vs King Kong rematch!

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Bible and Politics part 2

Is Jesus a conservative or a liberal?

This is a question that has been overly trivialized and that most people answer neither as quickly as they can. The fear is that claiming Jesus to one side of the political aisle or the other is closed-minded, uncaring, and excluding people from the Kingdom of God. The reality is that the issue is a little more complicated than simply answering one way or the other.

Most of the time people will take this answer issue by issue when answering that Jesus is neither. What is said is that Jesus would support conservative causes, like pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and fiscal responsibility. He would be against the attitude of conservatives toward the poor, homeless, women, and the disenfranchised. On the other hand, he would be supportive of liberal causes, like giving to the poor, the redistribution of wealth, environmental stewardship, welcoming illegal immigrants, and other social issues. Truth be told, this approach totally misrepresents the nature of conservatism, liberalism, and Jesus.

Liberalism and Conservatism are relative terms. What we consider conservative in America is considered liberal elsewhere. What is considered liberal in America is considered conservative elsewhere. What it boils down to is accurately defining what conservatism and liberalism is as ideas and not necessarily as words (if that makes any sense). After all, some would make the argument that the conservatives of today were the liberals from the past. Let's take a moment to define conservatism and liberalism ideologically according to how they are represented in modern day America.

I would argue that conservatism is the ideological belief that the traditions and institutions of the past that have brought success for human civilization still have value today and should be practiced and promoted. You can see a more thorough definition of what I believe to be conservatism at www.williamhseng.com under the Building Blocks page.

Liberalism is not focused on being liberal anymore. Liberalism, today, is focused on what is called progressivism. The progressive movement more or less teaches that the traditions and institutions of the past will not always be relevant, thus they can be discarded once society has deemed them obsolete.

Whether or not Jesus was a Liberal or a Conservative will need a more thorough answer in the next part of this series. For now, let us conclude that there was an aspect of Jesus' message that was liberal, but that it was only liberal in that it was departing from the traditions of the day to restore the true intentions of God's plan from the beginning. In other words, his message was inherently conservative. But this is not necessarily a political statement. This too will be discussed in the next entry of this series.