Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Washing Machine and I, Part 2

When we last visited our little mechanical hero, it was spilling its guts all over the laundry room floor. You can read about that little adventure here. A little plumbing work, and we were back in action.

Alas, it's time for a new adventure. One wonders why adventures can't be in, like, Colorado, instead of in my basement. 'Tis a fallen world. . . .

Anyway, a couple of months ago Doris began complaining that the clothes in the washer were sometimes still wringing wet at the end of the wash cycle. Apparently, the washer was not spinning. It was agitating (quite agitating, in fact), pumping, but not always spinning. Sometimes it would, sometimes it wouldn't.

I figured it must be a cycle of the moon, or maybe just high tide. Surely it would correct itself soon. You remember from the last article my chief maintenance tactic: ignore it and maybe it will go away.

It didn't. In fact, eventually it stopped spinning at all, which precipitated a minor crisis. The crisis was not the washer, it was the laundry; we were both running out of clean-- never mind, you really don't want to know.

Here is the evidence, artfully arranged so as to hide any, ah, indelicate items.

Oh, look, there's a Bronco's sweatshirt on top! How on earth did that get there?

[Doris tells me that we're the only family in Greenville that puts their dirty laundry on the Internet.]

Okay, so last week I began to think about fixing the problem as obviously the tidal calendar had not helped. You can find anything on the Internet, and I found a very helpful site that was able to identify the problem. It was the clutch. Did you know that your washing machine has a clutch? And a transmission? Everything but a driver, in fact.

I ordered the clutch, and yesterday it came in. Just in time, too, as we had also run out of clean. . .  oh, never mind.

Did you notice the very helpful instructions? Can anyone translate, what, French? What happened to good old Spanish? Why French? Of course, I can't read Spanish either, but at least I would feel more at home. This is America, after all. Right?

Thankfully, there was a video on the web site, and soon I was delving into the bowels of my washer.

This thingamabob has to come out first. . .

followed by the whatsit. . .

Next up was fifteen minutes of very spiritual meditation. . .

My thoughts included such epistemological twisters as:
  • How did I get myself into this?
  • How will I ever get this back together?
  • Maybe it's time for a new washer?
  • I need to teach Doris everything I know so she can do this. Let's see, that would be righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.
  • Is it too late to repent?
  • Wonder if Larry Addis knows how to fix washers?
  • Dirty clothes really aren't that bad.
Thankfully, I finally remembered the video on the web, and took a refresher course. I pulled the bad clutch. . .

and then installed the new one, and viola! The washer works again. Dor's already done several loads of laundry, and that thing spins like a politician in an election cycle. Not bad, not bad at all.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Help Indie Authors!

Indie authors do not have someone managing their book’s publicity plan or marketing. We don’t have the support of an organization getting our novels in front of retailers who will carry them in their store. Other than what marketing efforts we can cobble together on our own, we have only one source of publicity that can encourage others to buy our books, and that’s you, our readers.

Your word-of-mouth recommendation, your Facebook comment, your tweet, your Amazon or Goodreads review is likely the only way an unknown author will get the word out about his or her book.

Let me hasten to admit that the reader is certainly under no obligation here. If you don’t like the tale, or if the editing was sloppy, the cover or packaging amateurish, then by all means, don’t encourage someone else to read it. The last thing the independent publishing movement needs are products that fall short of genuine quality.

Even if you think the product is the best work since Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress or Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, you still aren’t obligated. Art doesn’t create a debt or obligation on the part of the viewer. You’re free to enjoy it and walk away.

But if you find a tale you like, and you’d like to read more by that author, give him or her a hand by letting your friends and loved ones know where they can get a good story. Post a review, send a few emails, tell a few friends. Once the word gets out, a good story will sell itself; but getting the word out is the challenge.

Monday, February 20, 2012

An excerpt of Falcon Down is available!

A brief excerpt of my current novel-in-progress is available. You can find it on my website, or simply by going here.

This tale is very different from Outlander Chronicles: Phoenix. The Falcon books are a series of military/espionage thrillers set in the Cold War around 1986. Most of the action in Falcon Down takes place in Siberia. The preliminary "hook" for the series is this:

After USAF Major Jacob Kelly disappears over the Bering Sea in an F-16 during a test flight, the Accident Investigation Board concludes it was a case of pilot error. Kelly’s service record receives its final update: “missing and presumed dead.” There are some, however, who know differently, including the Soviet intelligence officer assigned to interrogate Kelly. . . .

An unusual piece of trivia about the Falcon series is that the first book is the last one to be written. The latter portion is already complete (though in need of some re-writing before release). If, as I am considering at the moment, I divide the already-written second novel into three pieces (it is a rather long, three-part story), then the final three books of the series are finished (except for the final re-write, as mentioned earlier).

Falcon Rising, the second book in the series, takes place largely in Alaska, though the action moves around from Washington D.C., to southern California, and Seattle.

Preliminary titles for the final two books are Falcon Caged and Falcon's Revenge.

BFC folks: If you are curious about this series, talk to Carol Williams; she has actually read the completed [second] novel, only under a different title.

Now you BFCers know what I do with my Mondays. . . .

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Any of your antagonists named, 'Sennacherib?'

Ran across something interesting the other day while reading my Bible. You can find it in 2 Chronicles 31:20-32:1. See if you see the same thing I did:
Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah; and he did what was good, right and true before the Lord his God.
Every work which he began in the service of the house of God in law and in commandment, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered. 
After all these acts of faithfulness Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah and beseiged the fortified cities, and thought to break into them for himself. [NASB]
Do you see it? It's right there in front of you. If you've missed it, read the text again. "After all these acts of faithfulness Sennacherib. . . " There it is.

Hezekiah accumulated a long list of faithful works for the name of his God. And God repays him by sending Sennacherib, his antagonist, the enemy of Israel. It seems so wrong, doesn't it? By our notion of justice, God should be sending boatloads of blessing on Hezekiah. Instead He sends boatloads of Assyrians. Definitely not the same thing.

But why? We aren't told why. Do you need to know why? Does God need to explain to you and I why He does what He does? Or does He get to be the sovereign of the Universe in our little lives, and do what He deems best for His own purposes?

Is God still good when I (or you) suffer for humanly inexplicable purposes? That's a question only faith can answer properly.

My faith is challenged when after a long period of obedience and submission to His will, God sends Sennacherib. Greatly challenged. But maybe that's the point. Maybe it's a new invitation to faith in God's faithfulness, His goodness, and His ultimate good purposes.

Maybe it is an invitation to faith in His Son Jesus, who after a lifetime of obedience to God was hung on the cross in a bloody, awful death.

The writer of Hebrews says that we should fix our eyes on Jesus, "the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross. . . " (Heb 12:2, NASB)

The difference between faith and stoic suffering is found in one word: hope. In the former, you know you're in the hands of a God who loves you, and is doing what is best.You know the story does not end on the cross, but continues through the door of the empty tomb. In the latter, in stoic suffering, you're trapped in the gears of the unfeeling, impersonal cosmic machine, grinding out an inexorable, and quite meaningless, end.

I'll take hope, thank you. And I can, because Jesus endured the cross for me.

Know anybody named Sennacherib?

Monday, February 6, 2012

My website is moving...

Within 24 hours, will no longer bring you here.

My blog will continue to be available here at, including new posts.

However, I am creating a website at, and to support my writing efforts. You will always be able to access this blog through the Bible Fellowship Church website.

Hope this does not cause too many problems!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Science, and the appearance of age

Okay, I am giving up on the promised spirit of inquiry/rebellion series. It’s created a writer’s block, and it’s clogging up the pipes. I’m leaving it and moving on.

[If you know me, you know that what really happened is that I forgot what I was going to say and simply can’t remember it. But I have to save face, somehow, so the writer’s-block dodge. Thankfully, most of you probably don’t know me, so you won’t know what really happened to my promised-but-non-existent short series on the spirit of inquiry/rebellion.]

What is the primary argument of those who do not believe the Creation and fall account of Genesis 1-3, but who do claim to be believers? It is not the so-called “figurative language” of Genesis 1-3. Believe me, the “figurative language” does not miraculously appear until science backs you into a corner. There’s not much more straight-forward narrative in Scripture than that of the first three chapters of Genesis. So what is the primary argument of believing unbelievers?

The science does not support the Genesis account of creation.

Please forgive me if I am unimpressed with this argument. It is the ultimate ‘well, duh!’ of the creation debate. Of course science doesn’t support the Genesis account, and what’s more, it never will! Science is not competent to pass judgment on the supernatural intervention of God, and whatever else the creation event might be, it is certainly that. One can not go from nothing—no matter, no space, no time, no dimensions—to something (space, matter, time) without a little divine assistance. And science by definition does not do divine assistance.

God’s intervention in space and time is not predictable, not repeatable, and not falsifiable. Never was, never will be. You can not use science to determine the age of the universe, because you are off the rails of science when you go there. A creation event stands in the way, one that science is incapable of detecting.

Unless, of course, matter is eternal and God is not. But if you believe that you can no longer truly claim a belief in the God of the Bible.

But what about the many features of the cosmos that demand eons of time, such as radiometric dating, light from distant stars, and the geologic column?

What about them? As believers, we clearly have two options: scientists are making assumptions about natural processes that are inaccurate, or at least, incomplete, and/or God created with the appearance of age.

God creating with the appearance of age? That’s silly! That’s special pleading!

Oh, really? Silly, is it? Let's see how this works. If you were creating Adam, would you create him as a newly fertilized embryo, or as a fully functioning adult? Oh, wait, if you made him as an embryo he would need a womb in which to develop. Oh, wait, if you need a womb, you need to create a sexually mature woman. So even if you don’t create Adam with the appearance of age (Adam is an embryo), you must create something else which will necessitate the appearance of age (an adult female—his momma). So you either create Adam with the appearance of age, or you have to create his momma with the appearance of age, or you have to drop the entire notion of creation and just admit that matter is eternal and God is not.

If you try to say that, well, God specially guided evolutionary events, including the development of the cell, all you have done is remand the problem to an earlier point in time, but you still ultimately wind up with precisely the same problem (especially regarding the mysterious bridge from the inanimate to the animate). You are still going to wind up with an appearance of age issue.

The point is that any special creation whatsoever, at the origin of life, will necessarily involve the appearance of age, even if it is on a simple cellular level. No freshly created matter, organic or inorganic, at the point of creation is going to look like freshly created matter. Rather, it is always going to appear as though it has a past, so unless you want to make the claim that God created nothing in order to get the current something, you are going to bump into the appearance of age problem.

This is even true in inorganics. For instance, suppose God creates any particle that has motion. We’ll call the time of creation n. Let’s suppose you were an observer who came on the scene an instant after creation, maybe at time n + 1. You could measure that particle’s motion and then predict with certainty its location at time n + 2. You could likewise predict with certainty that particle’s location at time n – 5. You’d be wrong, of course, and never know it. You would not know that the particle did not exist at time n – 5. Why? Because the very regularity of its motion gives it the appearance of age and erases any evidence of a beginning point.

Move with me from a philosophical argument to a historical one. Did Jesus feed multitudes from five loaves of bread? He did, in Luke 9. What was required to feed five thousand people bread and fish? Answer? Lots and lots of bread and fish. But He had only five loaves and two fish. So what did he do? He obviously was creating bread and fish as He handed it out. But wait! Bread has a history! Well, so do fish, for that matter, but we’ll ignore them and concentrate on the bread.

Where does bread come from? Krogers, right? A bakery, right? So you have to bake bread. It takes—wait for it—time to bake bread. And the bread has to be made from dough. Where do you get dough? Flour, yeast, and mysterious things only my wife understands (I don’t cook, sorry). Where do you get flour from? It’s ground-up wheat. It takes—wait for it—time to grind up wheat. And where do you get wheat from? Well, you have to plant a crop, and—wait for it—wait for that crop to grow over an entire growing season. More time. Do you see the point? We already know that many of Jesus’ miracles in the Gospels have the appearance of elapsed time, or age.

So unless you plan on throwing out Jesus’ miracles in the Gospels while you are trashing Genesis 1-3, you are going to have to admit that God has a clearly seen track record of making things with the appearance of age.

And once you admit that, the only problem with the Genesis account is your refusal to believe it.