The Digital Tarrasque and the Curse of Ham

I’m going to try and keep things succinct here. There probably won’t be anywhere near the craziness of my first entry, but at the same time I’m not promising anything. We’ll just wait and see what kind of dinner the guard outside brings to my padded room. I hope it’s burrito night.

I read through the account of the Curse of Ham (Gen 9) today and thought of it in a whole new light. Typically, the main reaction is: why should Canaan (and his whole bloodline) be punished for his father’s sin? I can’t give a complete answer to that, but I can say this: Ham blew it big time.

God had just cleansed the entire planet of wickedness and had graciously spared them among everyone alive. Humanity was, in a sense, given a second chance to do things right. It’s the Biblical claim that every human being since then has had some genetic tie to these eight individuals. So what does humanity do in light of an amazing opportunity? We hock a loogie into the gene pool.

Notice the above complaint was that Canaan, instead of his father, was punished. I think it’s important to realize that the other three “uncursed” sons left terrifically bad legacies and fathered some of history’s worst villains. This further tells me: Ham blew it big time.

Every opportunity given to us comes with an option of failure and an option of success. Ham had no idea how to lead a family, and his progeny clearly shows that. Opportunity…Failure.

In the Industrial Revolution, the British (and everyone who was not British) were posed with a problem: they were now producing an unheard of number of goods but had no way to transport them to possible sellers across their landscape. So there was a little man named Horatio who checked the clipboards:

Does the modern railway system exist yet?

Horatio checked no. He went home to a hungry family. The family dog “Albert” was also starving and died that night with an empty stomach. The next morning they barbecued up some ribs.

So they had an opportunity… and came out with a smashing success. Commerce could now reach areas much more efficiently by increasing the number of navigable waterways. They’ve always had rivers for transport, but the idea of simply “building” more allowed Britain to sharply ascend economically (and not be crushed under her own weight). Opportunity…Success!

Today we’ve been given a grand opportunity with the technological boom. I will quickly admit (on many levels) that we have completely blown it.

The power that the eight on the Ark had was over genetic code. The results were a mixed bag. Ham certainly blew it. The massive power handed to us by God is over digital code. And that beautiful, innocent landscape has been utterly ruined by us all.

The Internet has produced multiple generations of spiteful, bigoted, and foolish rebels with no legitimate cause and certainly no backbone. Porn has exploded with (and influenced) the rise of it, now making more money than the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball combined. There is very little sense of relational connection between people anymore outside of the Internet, as we have become so socially deadened (and addicted) to technology.

I’m not advocating you click that link. I will tell you it’s a Justin Bieber music video so it itself is work safe. (But not quite brain safe).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kffacxfA7G4

The viewer responses are a great testament to what a nasty place the Internet has become. Kids (and grown up kids) just simply like to hate each other. That’s how they show their interest. How perfectly Satanic is that?

I would be surprised if it doesn’t get worse.

I’m not saying that because that one YouTube page attracts such hostile people (or even all of YouTube) that the whole Internet is the Mos Eisley I’m making it about to be. I will give you two more, but I certainly don’t expect you to believe simply on the testimony of these three links. Honestly look around, you’ll find it too!

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/index/528-Religion-and-Politics

That’s a forum I sometimes visit. On the Escapist forums, you’ll find a fierce rejection of the Gospel and a general lack of good manners, cordiality, and accuracy in spelling. The general principle of the Internet is this: because I can’t be held accountable, I can say whatever I want.  On the Escapist, people do precisely that.  The convenience of stealth reveals a broken hearted people that desperately need Jesus but will never admit it.  But I am pleased that there are some polite atheists there. Some.

I will not link to the worse sites. But they are much, much worse. The above link is simply teeball in comparison. In the worse sites, there’s a sense of pornography in words themselves. People want to communicate and try… but they have no clue how to do so. Words, if you could call them something so pure as that, are just blurted out (usually misspelled) and repeated by the next user as primal form of communication (like baboons hooting at each other). Eventually they all get together and do something frightening. Anonymous are a great example. And of course there’s the actual pornography that runs rampant in these communities, corrupting little boys’ souls all for the chance of a buck in the bank.

And all of it, every last negative aspect of the Internet runs on a selfish, ungodly sense of pride.

In its most polite form, you have people desperate to display themselves to the world through services like Facebook. Status updates about what the crap kind of burrito we had last night have nothing to do with its spiciness or consistency of various meats, and everything to do with the wicked tendency of the human soul to proclaim how beautiful and perfect it is without the grace of God.

In a lower form, information generally spreads like wildfire by way of the Internet and the entire media that flourished in the tech boom over the past several decades. Once we have that opportunity: we usually ruin it. “Person X thirteen states away is running for mayor but cheated on his wife!” And we all turn our noses up as if we could never do that. As if we’re somehow separate from the Fall. We would do worse if given the chance!

I don’t expect you to stop taking advantage of the technological boom. I certainly won’t. But I saw a frightening parallel between us and Ham. We thought we were so superior to our fathers when we saw their drunkenness. And yet we have failed so miserably.  God help us!

Amazing ad for the John MacArthur Study Bible.  Props to the writer as it seems like he’s actually played WoW (and sounds like the beardy guy is actually playing the game).

Democratic Moral Truths and the Eldritch Monolith

So I was watching an Alpha video that briefly touched on sexual purity.  Nicky Gumbel said (paraphrased) “I’ve never met anyone who has said ‘I’m so disappointed I waited until my wedding day.  I missed out on so much.’ Everyone has told me the exact opposite.”

This got my wheels turning about how the world perceives right and wrong.  It’s easy to see that non-Christians find pre-marital sex to be the norm, but perhaps a way to verify how beneficial the norm is can be done by looking at its effects “democratically.”  In this case, Nicky drew from all the people he talked to about the matter, and they all “voted” against the idea of premarital sex as a healthy norm because of its harmful effects.  If we use this voting process with an impartial viewpoint that encompasses enough people groups we call this “academic research” and post it in a respected journal.

I don’t mean to suggest there are no objective truths about moral rights and wrongs. In fact, I’m suggesting the opposite.  Perhaps we can prove (or at least examine) norms in a democratic way. Since the beginning of history we’ve all voted that combining 2 similar objects along with 2 other similar objects makes a group of 4 similar objects.  Most people have voted consistently for the same answer.  They all lead happy, simple lives.  There are people who have voted differently. Disaster found them.

In this case of answering a very simple question about mathematics, democracy has clearly worked.  Now if we can only tally up the votes when it comes to moral dilemmas and their consequences, I propose that objective good and evil will emerge from the sea of data.

But does the democratic moral process always work?  I would say yes, but only in the sense that the effects of certain moral dilemmas have a universal tendency. They sometimes just remain unheeded or undetected. We could call it a very quiet election. The tree falls and makes a sound even though it squashed the only person within a 100 mile radius, who happened to be a sleeping mime.  He was never heard of again.  And neither was he before.

But why all the disagreement about the ideal candidate?  If there are 100 different people to choose from on the ballot, doesn’t that suggest, if not prove, man’s desire for a specific a candidate is only the product of his environment and has no underlying objective authority?

Look! The mime’s corpse has sprouted intricately placed mushrooms. They seem to spell out words that look like “Hugh Heffner”, “Fat Camp”, and the 370th and 687th words of the Quran if translated into Klingon. Don’t ask me how I know this, because no one is there to perceive it.  It has made little effect on the world.

I think the driving reason certain norms are never truly “elected” is sin.  But looking at it on grounds all men can agree, it simply is: bad emotion.  Good emotion can draw out, enforce, and elect norms into office.  Make no mistake the 20th Century was a time of massive cultural exchange and is also known as “The Century of Blood.”  We all got together and had ourselves a good election. Some of the most prominent bad guys got voted out.

But not all of them.  There are creatures hiding in the world’s shadows that were born in the 20th Century and have lived on.  And there are those that have remained since ancient times.  Very harmful, profane emotions have allowed them to live on and legitimized them among certain sectors of the world’s population. The horrible creatures have names like “common courtesy” or “rite of passage ” or “sacred” to make them sound normal.  That makes their harmful effects seem worth it.

It was very normal in early Central America to sacrifice people for the sake of divine favor.  It is very normal in current North American culture to lie at a wedding altar about “till death do us part.”  

That doesn’t mean the ideal model of a culture that doesn’t sacrifice people to the gods or doesn’t lie about commitment is a subjective fantasy, it simply rejects it.  If we can democratically figure out that the actions lead to disaster, then we know to avoid them in the future.  If, by some lie from the Pit, we determine they lead to victory, then we should pursue them.

On a personal basis, I’ve allowed certain evil habits to develop in my life and remain there even after seeing its harmful effects time and again.  I will say to myself “No, it’s only a little bit.  What harm can it do?” Or I’ll call it something else (like calling a lie a partial truth) or I’ll remain silent when I see others give themselves up to them.  Where is the disconnect?  I know evil is evil, but I don’t live like it.  All the votes are cast, and I’m out for assassination of the good man in charge.  My actions speak of a desire to put an evil man in charge.The same principles easily apply on a public basis.  Perhaps the day evil is truly elected leader of the world we will be only a moment away from the return of Jesus.  I know I believe it will.  

And so the mime has decayed into its lowest form: dust.  A small, cheeseburger sized spacecraft descends to the surface to scoop it up, and bring it back to the homeworld.  This dust could save their dying civilization of hunger.  But on the way up, they collide and bounce off a much bigger spacecraft who happens to be on a mission that’s slightly more important.  But that won’t be covered, because there is no one there to perceive it.

The original craft flies up through our glorious sky leaking precious fuel.  They run out before they reach home.  There is a sputter in the end as it’s dripping into the vacuum. It would have sounded like a penguin’s flatulent, but there’s no one there to perceive it.  And even if there was, sound cannot travel without a medium to vibrate through.  Pugga-pugga-pugga-pugga-prlprlrplprldldldoooooo.  So goes the cold, dead cheeseburger saucer as they wither up and die, so goes their friends and family as they wither up and die, and so goes a certain penguin in the San Francisco zoo.  This penguin’s name is Jick-jack.  He will be fed this Wednesday and pass some gas.  The world might too, if we let it.

The much bulkier craft will not make the farting sound that heavy-handed metaphors about moral disintegration make, but will likely use an even heavier-handed metaphor.  There will likely be an after-school special that makes it even more heavy-handed.  There will likely be a meeting in town hall that discusses the validity of such message, as it’s possibly “politically incorrect” and therefore dangerous for children with adult sized dimensions and for children with children sized dimensions.  There will likely be a group of miners who approach the metaphor with a cage full of canaries.  The canaries will likely die of elation.  The miners will likely not die of elation, because of the Fall.  But they will likely die, because of the Fall.

Unfortunately there is no one there to perceive the metaphor.  They all slept in the following morning.

You know what Blind Guardian, Darth Vader, Paris Hilton, John Piper, and Carl Sagan all have in common?  True things press themselves upon them (because they are people like everyone who’s a people).  They might react.  Or they might sleep in.  If they fall asleep, they will dream of angels spitting on the sidewalks and demons faithfully serving in soup kitchens.  They will all die even if they didn’t fall asleep.  Because of the Fall.  

So where do we go from here?  Is it possible to unite the whole world and solve all of our problems democratically in a manner all men (Christian or not) can agree on? Wasn’t there a prophet that spoke to the beauty of tolerance?

Hmmm…something seems fishy.

Oh!  That must have been it.