Author Archives: grant
Sometimes I get the feeling that we use technology because we are
2. Fear death
First, we are interested in technology and enjoy that it earns us money but our love of money pushes us until we no longer enjoy the technology we use. And second, we think that by using technology we save time until we spend more time creating the tools to save us time than saving any time in the first place.
The trick, sadly, is on us.
1. As much as we love money, we can’t take it with us.
2. For everyone: time passes at a rate of 1 second per second.
So, find joy and keep it.
I think this is a most puzzling piece of scripture:
Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Luke 14:34-35, ESV)
I spent a couple of hours over a couple of days focused on these lines. I had little understanding of it until I realized a contrast. The preceding chunk in Luke is all about self-denial. It concludes saying:
So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33, ESV)
Now, salt, I think, is best known for its preservative quality. More than making things taste good, two thousand years ago, it was an imperative for people who needed to preserve meat. In fact, it was a necessity for all those who lived in a desert and needed to preserve themselves.
In that preceding line, indented above, the word renounce also means something like forsake. I imagine if I forsook everything, I would perish rather quickly. But Jesus talks about a preservative as if renouncing everything was the only way to preserve ourselves.
And what if we should lose our preservative quality? That is, we should choose to be disciples but not renounce everything? Well then I think we are salt which loses its saltiness and we are of no use for either the soil or the dung heap.
Shakespeare’s Sonnet Number 64 is one of my favorites.
When I have seen by time’s fell hand defaced
The rich proud cost of outworn buried age,
When sometime lofty towers I see down razed,
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage,
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the watery main,
Increasing store with loss, and loss with store.
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay,
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate,
That time will come and take my love away.
This thought is as a death, which cannot choose
But weep to have that which it fears to lose.
Whenever I go through hard times, I remind myself of this parable:
Have you ever seen a blacksmith refining gold? He throws what looks like junk into a big melting pot and turns up the heat. As soon as he sees his reflection in the pot, he shuts off the heat and pours it out. Out comes the finest gold.
Ever since my fiancée started teasing me that none of my blog posts mentioned her, I’ve wanted to write one about her. My fiancée’s name is Shannon and she is the greatest woman in the world. I have no doubt that many men and women will disagree but I say, “Ha! If you only knew her the way I did.” To me she’s that special one, that most special-est one. And no, you can never know her the way that I do. (Except, perhaps, if you are God.) The bond we share is exclusive and that makes it all the more special. I’m sorry. It has to be that way. Now, a little bit about Shannon:
Shannon smiles. Shannon laughs. Shannon thinks. Shannon works. Shannon prays.
Shannon’s warm. Shannon’s playful. Shannon’s smart. Shannon’s resilient. Shannon’s faithful.
Shannon comforts me. Shannon teases me. Shannon arouses me. Shannon fights me. Shannon gets me.
Shannon is made for me and I long for her.
The future looks pretty cool.
I think often about languages. Most of the languages I think about are formal ones. (I work on these as a member of the compiler team at Microsoft.) Back in High School, I spent a couple of years trying to learn Spanish. At first, everything we learned was in terms of English. We used an English-to-Spanish dictionary to construct our sentences. I realized at one point that this practice would never make me fluent. To achieve fluency, I would have to think in Spanish. I would have to think of Spanish concepts in terms of other Spanish concepts. I never reached this goal.
I think Jesus’ parables work like the language of the kingdom of God. At first, we have difficulty understanding them. We translate the parables into something which makes more sense to us. But this can only go so far and even the best of analogies eventually break down. It’s hard to base difficult choices on analogies. In my own experience, I find myself starting to speak the language of parables. I, like Jesus often did, find it easiest to explain a parable in terms of a concept explained by another parable.
I know this is dangerous as it can easily separate me from others. People will say, “That Grant makes no sense. He speaks in riddles or something.” But that’s how Jesus did it. He spoke in parables.
(The reader that is frustrated with Jesus’ parables might want to start in Mark 4:1-20. Here, in verse 13, Jesus asks, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” He then goes on to explain the parable.)
A while ago, in my first year of college, I was apart of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. I joined the fellowship and began an inductive study of the gospel according to Mark. At this point in college, I was developing a love/hate relationship with the gospel. (Jesus and I often fought and I was rather angry about many things.)
One night, we studied Mark 4:10-12. I’ve reproduced the ESV translation here:
10And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that
‘they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.’
To study this, we broke up in pairs and came up with questions. Immediately, I honed in on the phrase, “the secret of the kingdom of God” and had only one question: “What is the secret of the kingdom of God?” I brought this up to my partner and he kind of rolled his eyes. (I had a reputation for asking impossible questions.) I pushed and pushed and so we put the question to our group. The group wasn’t sure the question was answerable. Finally, we asked the leader of our group and to all our surprise he said he thought it was answerable. We spent the next hour and a half trying to understand what the secret of the kingdom of God was.
Try as we might, we could come to no clear resolution by the end of the night. Many people at this point left but a few of us stayed behind. We stayed behind to ask Sam (our leader) more directly, “What is the secret of the kingdom of God?” We did not know that once we had stayed behind and chosen to ask what it meant that to us had been given the secret of the kingdom of God. Then Sam told us what it was and we saw that it was right under our noses the whole time.