Following 7,000

The irrepressible David Ker, in a post simply entitled 7000, has tried to start up an outrageous meme which has the potential of overrunning the whole Internet with mindless drivel, if the people he tags do what he asks them to do. In the spirit of brotherly love, and since the world might be a better place if the Internet collapses, I will obey his instructions to the letter. Indeed I am copying his whole post just to make sure I haven’t missed anything. 😉

Lingamish has reached a milestone of 7,000 comments on this blog. Gone are the days of badinage and flapdoodle. Hyperbole has given way to humdrum. But 7K is a pretty good sized number.

In honor of this momentous event I’ve decided to make the technorati rank of all my commenters who have blogs soar into the stratosphere. This is like a chain letter. You musn’t break it or we will all get mad at you. I have arbitrarily chosen ten of the most recent commenters on my blog and shown them below. Each of them must copy this entire list into a post on their own blog and add then more of their own commenters. The result is going to be huge amounts of link love.

  1. http://benbyerly.wordpress.com/
  2. http://qaya.org/blog/
  3. truthinministry.org
  4. oliverstegen.net
  5. heissufficient.com
  6. discipuluscripturae.wordpress.com/
  7. http://jwest.wordpress.com/
  8. evepheso.wordpress.com
  9. catchingbeauty.wordpress.com
  10. ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com

OK, everybody, include this list in your post and tag ten other commenters on your blog. What better way to thank all these nice people that make us feel so happy by leaving comments on our blogs?

P.S. The last time I did this someone broke the chain after two weeks and the very next day was torn limb from limb by hyenas. I kid you not. So don’t risk it. Instead let the blessings flow…

Or am I doing this because I am afraid of the hyenas? There aren’t too many here in England, but I’ll stay well away from Mozambique just in case.

Note that I do not endorse the blogs listed above, some of which I have not read and some of which I have read too much of. Here is my list of ten blogs of those recently commenting on my posts – again, I am not endorsing these sites, some of which I don’t know well, but I am omitting some which I prefer not to link to, or which are Lingamish:

  1. Rahab’s Place
  2. Obscene Beauty
  3. The Road to “Elder” ado
  4. iamhealed.net
  5. Friends’ Meeting House
  6. The Sundry Times
  7. This I do…
  8. New Epistles
  9. Seeking His Face
  10. jon sidnell

Interestingly few of these are among the regular circle of bibliobloggers and Anglican and Methodist pastors whose blogs I read regularly. Not all blog regularly, but there are some gems to be found here.

Meanwhile, please comment here! I am just 55 comments short of Lingamish’s 7,000 mark, that’s counting approved comments only (are you counting the same, David?). That’s 6,945 comments on 690 posts (I’m sure Lingamish has more posts than that). Just one more push, perhaps another outrageous post about Todd Bentley, and I can ease past him!

I'm a Thinker, says Typealyzer

Mike writes:

I think it was last week, or the week before that the Typalyzer went around for the analysis of personality types in the blogosphere.

Did it? I missed it. But I have taken the test now – that is, I have submitted my URL. And on the basis of this blog it classifies my (Myers-Briggs) personality type as INTP. That’s not bad at all for such a simple test – Language Log suggests how it might work.

A more sophisticated personality type test which I took last year classified me as ISTP, the same result as I obtained in about 2000. But last year I was only weakly S (sensing) rather than N (intuitive). And in the past year I have been quite deliberately working on developing the intuitive side of my personality. So it would not surprise me that if I took the full test again I would now come out as INTP.

So perhaps the Typealyzer is spot on, at least with its overall personality type. I don’t think it is right with its details, presented graphically (and in a way I can’t easily reproduce, but you can all repeat the test with http://www.qaya.org/blog/), which suggest that my brain activity is very strongly N and hardly at all S. As for its description of what I am like, I think it does rather well:

INTP – The Thinkers

The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

It’s amazing what can be deduced from a rather small sample of my writing! And, while I try to be gentle, I apologise if I ever “come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive”.

But what does Typealyzer have to say about some of my fellow bloggers? Mike also comes out as an INTP Thinker; so does Eddie Arthur. David Ker, according to his LIngamish blog, is an ISFP Artist. TC Robinson is INFP, an Idealist. Roger Mugs is ISTP, a Mechanic. I submitted several other blogs which all gave one of these four types. So I was beginning to wonder if the results would all be of the IXXP type – Typealyzer might simply assume that anyone who blogs is introverted and “perceiving”. But at last I found exceptions in Dave Walker: his (now dormant) Cartoon Blog classifies him as ISTJ, a Duty Fulfiller, but his Church Times blog has him as ESTP, a Doer. Well, unless Dave has multiple personalities, this appears to show that Typealyzer is not very consistent. Perhaps it was just a lucky guess that it pigeonholed me more or less right.

The 4-Variable IQ Test

As many of you will know I am a bit of a sucker for online personality quizzes. So I took another one recommended by Sally: The 4-Variable IQ Test (warning: after taking this you are required to register to view your results). And I am not surprised that the result was as follows (not sure if the picture of Einstein at a blackboard will come out):

Your result for The 4-Variable IQ Test

Mathematical

15% interpersonal, 20% visual, 20% verbal and 45% mathematical!

Mathematical

Brother-from-another-mother! Like mine, your highest scoring intelligence is Mathematical. You thrive on logic, numbers, things representing numbers, and sets of things that are sets of other things,  with numbers nowhere in sight.  You probably like the online comic called XKCD, and if you don’t, check it out.

You probably knew you’d score “Mathematical” as you took the test, and mathy types are usually super-high scorers on this axis, and low on the others. Why? Because you (we) yearn for math.

Anyway, your specific scores follow.  On any axis, a score above 25% means you use that kind of thinking more than average, and a score below 25% means you use it less. It says nothing about cognitive skills, just your interest.

Your brain is roughly:

15% Interpersonal

20%Visual

20%Verbal

45%Mathematical

The Investigator

I just took the (free) short form of a questionnaire recommended by Eddie Arthur. It is no surprise to me that he came out as “The Enthusiast”. It is also no surprise how I came out:

Enneagram

Type Five
The Investigator

The perceptive, cerebral type. Fives are alert, insightful, and curious. They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent, innovative, and inventive, they can also become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs. They become detached, yet high-strung and intense. They typically have problems with eccentricity, nihilism, and isolation. At their Best: visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way.

This seems to fit me well. The first three examples of my type are Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates – sounds good to me!

Click on the picture above to take the test yourself.

Here are my full results reported in a histogram, showing the areas in which I am relatively strong and relatively weak, according to the rather short and simplified free version of this test:

Type 1 – The Reformer
Type 2 – The Helper
Type 3 – The Achiever
Type 4 – The Individualist
Type 5 – The Investigator
Type 6 – The Loyalist
Type 7 – The Enthusiast
Type 8 – The Challenger
Type 9 – The Peacemaker

Quiz on New Testament use of the Old Testament

I’m not doing very well at blogging less so far. My excuse is that at least this week Saturday is the only day when I have significant time to give to this, so I am taking my chance.

I just took an interesting quiz about the different views of the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament. This quiz is presented by Zondervan in connection with a forthcoming book. Thanks to ElShaddai for the link. I score a bare majority of 51% for the Single Meaning, Multiple Contexts and Referents view described below, and 43% for the Fuller Meaning, Single Goal view for which ElShaddai posted the description. I must say I find the distinction between these two views to be very subtle, but then perhaps I should read the book.

NT Use of the OT — Test Your View!
Single Meaning, Multiple Contexts and Referents view 

You seem to be most closely aligned with the Single Meaning, Multiple Contexts and Referents view, a view defended by Darrell L. Bock in the book “Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament” (edited by Kenneth Berding and Jonathan Lunde, Nov. 2008). This view affirms the singular nature of the meanings intended by the OT and NT authors when OT texts are cited in the NT. In spite of this essential unity in meaning, however, the words of the OT authors frequently take on new dimensions of significance and are found to apply appropriately to new referents and new situations as God’s purposes unfold in the larger canonical context. Often, these referents were not in the minds of the OT authors when they penned their texts. For more info, see the book, or attend a special session devoted to the topic at the ETS Annual Meeting in Providence, RI (Nov. 2008); Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Darrell L. Bock, and Peter Enns will all present their views.

Fun quizzes, surveys & blog quizzes by Quibblo

I am a Sage, they say

It’s a long time since I have done one of these quizzes, perhaps because I haven’t seen any links to new ones. But Sally, who not surprisingly came out as a Mystic, gave me a link to a Spiritual Types test. This one comes from a Christian, originally Methodist, group called Upper Room Ministries.

My result was also no surprise:

You are a Sage, characterized by a thinking or head spirituality. You value responsibility, logic, and order. Maybe that’s why you were voted “Most Dependable” by your high school classmates. Structure and organization are important to you. What would the world be like without you? Chaos, that’s what! Your favorite words include should, ought, and be prepared. What makes you feel warm and fuzzy? Like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof it’s tradition! tradition! tradition!

Because you love words, written or spoken, you enjoy a good lecture, serious discussions, and theological reflection. Prayer for you usually is verbal. You thrive on activity and gatherings of people, such as study groups. Sages on retreat likely would fill every day with planned activities, leaving little time for silence or solitude.

We need Sages for your clear thinking and orderly ways. You pay attention to details that others overlook. Sages make contributions to education, publishing, and theology. You often are the ones who feel a duty to serve, give, care, and share with the rest of us.

On the other hand, sometimes you seem unfeeling, too intellectual, or dry. Can you say “dogmatic”? You may need to experience the freedom of breaking a rule or two every now and then. God’s grace covers Sages too, you know!

Well, “Sage” fits in well with the name Gentle Wisdom. But this doesn’t all fit. I’m not one for “tradition! tradition! tradition!”, at least not the really old traditions although perhaps I tend to keep to new ones. Also I value solitude more than this summary suggests, and am learning more about non-verbal prayer. As for “dogmatic”, I try not to be, and I am certainly not as much so as many Christian bloggers and commenters here, for which I thank the Lord! And I am very thankful that God’s grace covers even me.

Answering the unanswerable on suffering

Sam was asked by Scott Gray some unanswerable questions, so after trying his own answers he decided to turn this into a meme and ask five others, including myself!

Here are the questions:

1. if the nature of god is omnipotent, benevolent, and anthropomorphic (that god is a person, who sees suffering as wrong, and can change all of it), why does god not act to relieve all suffering, or at least the greatest amount of suffering for the greatest amount of people the greatest amount of time?
2. if you were god, and you were omnipotent and benevolent, how would you respond to suffering?
3. if this is not the nature of god, what is the nature of god, that allows suffering in the world?
4. if these are the wrong questions to ask, what are the right ones?

Wow! How am I supposed to answer this? I will have a quick try, but don’t expect anything profound. I won’t try to make four separate answers here, but perhaps answer all four questions together.

The basic reason, as I see it, why God does not simply remove all human suffering is that in doing so he would have to override the free will which he has given to his human creatures. (I will not go into the separate issue of animal suffering here.) The issue here is nicely illustrated by the psalmist, speaking here as the mouthpiece of God:

Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.

Psalm 32:9 (TNIV)

God could make us humans do exactly what he wanted us to do, controlling us by the “bit and bridle” of his almighty power. But this is not what he wants us to be like. He has made us with understanding and he wants us to act according to it. We can only do so if we are released from the “bit and bridle” and given our freedom. Sadly, as has been seen ever since the Garden of Eden, humans choose to abuse that freedom by doing all kinds of wrong things.

The inevitable result of those wrong things we humans do is suffering. Most human suffering is caused by human folly. I can say that even of natural disasters, whose impact is usually vastly more than it might have been because people have chosen, or have been forced by other people, to live in unsuitable homes in unprotected areas which perhaps should not be inhabited at all.

God could act to stop people living like this or take them out of danger zones. But he can do this only by overriding human freedom. And that is something he has chosen not to do. He has chosen to limit himself in order to make for himself a mature people who can stand on their own feet. So, just as a wise parent does not protect a growing child from every possible danger but allows him or her to learn by experience what is good and what is bad, so God allows his children to learn by experience, even of suffering. Just as his own special Son Jesus learned obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8), so we too, his children by adoption, are expected to learn obedience through suffering.

But suffering should not be taken out of perspective. As I wrote in a provocative post a week ago, at first quoting John Hobbins,

Suffering and death have no meaning whatsoever except insofar as they will be vanquished forever.

Indeed! To Christians death should be a joyful release from this earth (2 Corinthians 5:1-4), although of course tinged with sadness for those left behind, and suffering is temporary and a preparation for greater glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).

When we taste the heavenly glory, it will so overwhelm us that we will no longer count our sufferings here as something to be remembered or compared with anything else. This is how Jesus put it:

A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

John 16:21-22 (TNIV)

I nearly forgot, this is supposed to be a meme and I am supposed to tag others. So I hereby tag Lingamish David, MetaCatholic Doug and Koiya Chronicle Eddie. It would be interesting just to see your initial thoughts, don’t feel obliged to post a theological tome!

No dream is impossible

A few days ago Doug tagged me with the Impossible Dream meme. Since then we have had our disagreements about the Dudley outpouring. But there are no hard feelings, so now I have more or less recovered and caught up from my tiring weekend I have some time for the meme.

The meme is a simple one: name your impossible dream. But this gives me a problem, because I don’t actually accept that any of my dreams are impossible. Unlike Eddie, I don’t have any sporting dreams, so it doesn’t matter to me that I am too old to fulfil them. I am probably also too old to serve in the police or the armed forces, or to train as an astronaut, but these have not really been my dreams. Well, doing a space walk would be cool, but maybe not impossible: in a few years time I probably could be a space tourist, at least inside the spaceship, if I chose to blow most of the capital value of my house on three minutes of weightlessness.

But most of the things I might even consider dreaming of are ones which would in principle be achievable for me, if I chose to put my efforts into fulfilling them – although I accept that for some of them I had better get on with it if I am not to be considered too old, or likely to die of old age first. For I have confidence, perhaps too much confidence, in my ability to do well in any area of non-physical activity which I choose to turn my hand to. What I don’t have confidence in is my continuing desire to persevere with any activity that I am not really committed to.

So, like Doug, I could dream of writing a definitive work of theology. And I would not accept that such a dream would be impossible. It’s just that I don’t have the commitment to such a dream to put myself through the years of advanced study which would be necessary first. Mind you, I am learning a lot from reading blogs etc, which, if focused more carefully, could well form the core of a useful book, perhaps more likely to be a cult classic than a definitive work.

So what do I dream of? I think I can honestly say that the dreams I have left these days are all for the extension of God’s kingdom – with just one exception, the dream of being happily married, which I believe is something God has given me to hold on to even through years of singleness and disappointment.

To say that all my dreams are for God’s kingdom may sound impossibly holy to some, but I mean it. The background for this is that I went through a period of depression during which basically I had no dreams at all, everything was shattered. I have come through this depression largely as a result of what God has been doing in my life. He did this in part by giving me new hope and new aims which are entirely for him. I was reminded today, by TC’s strange post with a reinterpretation which I don’t accept, of this verse which expresses where I am:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20 (TNIV)

While I don’t claim to be as advanced in this matter as the apostle Paul, there is a real sense in which I can say this with him. My old selfish life with its dreams has been “crucified”, put to death through years of depression, and the life that I now live is the life of Christ in me. Not perfectly so, of course, but to the extent that I can honestly say that, apart from marriage, the only dreams I have left are of playing a significant part in the work of God’s kingdom.

Now I don’t want to be another Billy Graham or Todd Bentley. I don’t really want to be an up front person, even though I sometimes dream of it. There is something of the frustrated leader in me, but that frustration would be satisfied by playing a significant part in the behind the scenes activities of a real revival or renewal of the church – as indeed seems to be beginning to happen. So I see in Lakeland and Dudley what may be the start of the fulfilment of my dream. Now this dream would be impossible to achieve by my own strength, by confidence in my own mental abilities, but with God nothing is impossible.

Well, what started as a not too serious answer to a meme has turned into a devotional self-examination. Not quite what Eddie and Doug had in mind. But I make no apologies for writing what I believe I need to write. However, I don’t want to pressurise anyone else into doing the same, so I won’t tag anyone else this time.

Weird children's worship

The Weird Worship meme seems to have taken off. See David Ker’s latest roundup, also this one I wrote earlier today in a comment, and this comment I made on ElShaddai’s blog.

Here I offer some examples of weird worship from children’s songs. These are all from songs in my church’s official song book, although we don’t sing any of these now at least in the main services.

I’m gonna dance, gonna go completely loopy, will you? (from God Loves Me, Whoopah, Wahey!)

Great great brill brill, WICKED ! (from Oh It’s Great, Great, Brill, Brill)

You won’t get to heaven by jumping from a plane
And flapping your arms real quick (from The Camel Song)

I love custard creams and Wall’s ice-creams (from The Custard Cream Song; “Wall’s” is of course a trade mark, one of several potentially infringed in this song)

Got knobbly knees or fifteen chins,
Doesn’t matter just what shape you’re in (from Touch A Finger, Touch a Thumb)

All of these songs are by Doug Horley. Now Doug does excellent Christian work with children. But his “worship” songs, taken out of context, are just weird!

And this from a song we do sometimes sing:

More than magnet and steel are drawn to unite (from More Than Oxygen by Brian Doerkson)

Weird worship in the Bible

David Ker has started a new meme on Weird Worship, and has honoured me as one of the first group of five to be tagged. Not being one to duck out of a challenge like Nick Norelli, I decided to look for my own selection of weird lines from worship songs. But I will look in a more authoritative source even than Songs of Fellowship volume 4 – my TNIV, and specifically the Book of Psalms:

There is no God (14:1)

Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls (42:7)

Moab is my washbasin,
on Edom I toss my sandal;
over Philistia I shout in triumph. (108:9)

Happy are those who seize your infants
and dash them against the rocks. (137:9)

Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals. (150:3-5)

Well, almost anything taken out of context can seem weird. That includes what is happening in Lakeland, Florida. But weird worship is biblical, because it is found in the Bible. Accept it, and get on with it, or at least let others get on with it without doubting their spirituality.

Well, this was a meme, so I’m supposed to tag some other people. I’ll give them a choice: either continue David (I mean Ker, not King)’s search for weirdness in contemporary worship songs; or follow my example by finding more weird worship in the Bible. I hereby tag:

  • the wonderful Eddie Arthur,
  • the incomparable Jim West,
  • the latest enfant terrible of my blogging circle Roger Mugs,
  • the pastor with the furthest to fall if his congregation decide to re-enact Luke 4:29, Brian Fulthorp,
  • and, to try to get him to blog more than one post, my old friend and weird worship leader Dave G.