OK, so I’m on Pinterest. And, yes, I’m a dude.

Pinterest LogoI give up. I’ve seen Pinterest all over the place over the last year or so, but I still figured it was where young girls went to pin photos of their dream wedding dresses, etc. Wow, I was wrong.

Guy Kawasaki opened my brain up on the matter during his presentation at the recent NRB conference, and the various statistics displayed by him and by other presenters told the tale. As far as social media goes, Pinterest was second only to Facebook in use and popularity — more than both Instagram and Twitter. And Kawasaki noted that in many ways it is becoming the new Google. The example he gave (I think) was that, for many, rather than Googling to find information on how to cook a turkey, more and more are going to Pinterest for such queries.

Overcoming my uneducated fear that I would visit the site and be overwhelmed with unicorns and glitter (actually, glitter-free unicorns aren’t that bad), I headed out to Pinterest and was hooked. It is a well-designed, click-generating share-monster.

OK, that doesn’t sound right. It seemed to me a way of gathering content available in the wild into your own, personalized magazine, issued as frequently as you like. The requirement of an image for every, single article or post is brilliant. It’s like an organically growing table of contents, with each article accompanied by an image that increases the likelihood you’ll say, “OK, I have to check that out…”

Also, while it might seem a negative by some as an element that adds an air of disorganization, the fact that the image/blurb tiles on your page aren’t lined up in a neat little “grid” but vary in size and are densely space filling seems, again, an effective element of the presentation. When your eye can’t follow neatly in a line from article to article — say, left-to-right — then one is much more likely to wander around, being exposed to more titles than one normally would be. I’ve seen it before in other websites designed for exactly that purpose — getting you to notice more articles than you might otherwise — and it’s been pretty effective.

After clicking around, finding myself educated and entertained far too easily, I gave in, made my own account, and joined the Pinterest thing. I did it partially because I enjoy experimenting in the social media world and want to understand how to best benefit the Work. (Learning often happens best in the doing.) But also because it succeeded in grabbing my attention as a worthwhile platform for discovering new ideas, sharing ideas with others, and even saving things that grab your attention for reading later.

For anyone out there who is already on Pinterest, you can find me using some of the links below. And if I post a single image of something glittery–anything glittery–please help me.

Here’s my profile:

Here’s my experiment in building a home-made Pinterest version of the Tomorrow’s World magazine for my own perusal (all links back to the original TW website articles):

Here’s a board I just added for this personal blog [EDIT, 1pm: Images weren’t loading that well last I checked. Link works, though.]:

And here’s an example of a single post with a pretty sweet video demonstrating the force of the Fine-Tuning Argument (from the fine folks at Reasonable Faith) concerning the existence of God [EDIT, 1pm: Ditto, but the link seems to work. Maybe the fact that the pin is of a video messes up the image. Still stuff to learn…]:

I’m actually not going out to Pinterestville too much, yet, as my surfing has been drastically reduced as of late. Life has been remarkably and wonderfully hectic these days (last blog post was more than a month ago). But when I do venture out, digitally speaking, I am increasingly adding Pinterest to my regular surfing.

And you never know — in the end, we may find that the “Share” buttons of Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and the like may end up being one of the major means by which the gospel of the Kingdom of God is spread on the Internet. After all, the Christians of Acts 8:4 were doing more than hitting the “Like” button…

And in the event you are not already following Tomorrow’s World and the Living Church of God on social media, here are some links to help you rectify that!

Too wonderful for me, #7

Wow! It has been almost four years since I have added to this little personal blog series! Well, today I will break that drought.

As Passover season approaches, I am reminded that one of the things I enjoy most about being a pastor is counseling others for baptism. Given the continual growth of God’s Work, it has been a fairly constant presence in the work i get to do over the last several years, and I enjoy it for obvious reasons, of course. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing someone being brought into a relationship with Jesus Christ that will last eternity? (Raise your hands, please. None? OK, good.) But another aspect of such counseling is that it keeps fresh in my mind some of the beautiful truths that are really the cornerstone of that relationship and of our faith. One such truth is expressed by David at the beginning of his prayer of repentance concerning his sin in the matter of Uriah and Bathsheba:

Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

Psalm 51:1-2

It might seem like an odd choice, and–even given my thinking here–I could see other choices taking the place of this one, but I always come back here when these thoughts enter my mind.

What the passage reminds me of is a beautiful truth: That the source of the forgiveness available to me is not my own attempts at goodness, my own strength, my own righteousness, my own character. Rather, the forgiveness extended to me is grounded in God’s lovingkindness. It is grounded in the multitude of His tender mercies.

David’s wisdom here is the realization there is nothing in Him on which forgiveness could really be founded. Surely reflecting on the previous 9-months-or-so emphasized that to him. How many times, perhaps, during that time did he go to God and ask for forgiveness because he would do better in the future, or because he had done so much better in the past before this “slip up”? We can’t know (until we can ask him directly, of course). but here he makes it clear: His basis for being forgiven is not his own potential to be good, but is founded on God’s own goodness and mercy–a foundation with depth and strength and solidity that goes beyond comprehension. David recognizes that he can’t truly make up for his sins. He can’t “reverse” his adultery. He can’t bring Uriah back into the world of the living. He can’t clean the stains his actions have smeared on his heart and on his character. There is nothing that he has done that he can truly undo.

I’ve felt that way. If you’re a Christian, you surely have, too. There are those times when it is hard to ask for forgiveness again. Times when I want to take the edge off of the sting of my guilt by imagining that my repentance and desire to change is somehow a worthwhile “trade” for God’s forgiveness. Repentance is necessary, to be sure. To imagine that a request for forgiveness is sincere when there is no desire to actually change or do differently is to indulge in self-destructive delusion. Paul makes that pretty clear in 2 Corinthians 7:8-11.

But to think that our necessary repentance and obedience somehow “earns” our forgiveness would be a delusion of another sort. And it is that realization that gets me at times. The idea when I am asking for forgiveness that I have nothing of enough value to somehow trade to gain that forgiveness. And yet I need that forgiveness. I need to be made right with my Creator.

And, thus, Psalm 51. However confused he may have been up to that point, he knew: The only basis for forgiveness available to him was God’s own goodness and mercy. He sought forgiveness not in any way “earned” because he planned to “do better next time”–a desire he surely had–but, rather, it was available because that the the amazing sort of God he had. His Creator was one of astonishing lovingkindness. One whose tender mercies were beyond counting.

What a comfort that has been to me–a comfort too wonderful at times for me, and one I understand that I can’t fully grasp. It has been a comfort to know that when I ask for forgiveness, I am asking one who loves me beyond measure. I am asking to drink from a well of mercy, the depths of which no man has ever imagined and which no measuring line could ever fully plumb. It is something that comforts and reassures in a way I cannot fully describe, but for which I am thankful.

Signing our hymn based on Psalm 51, “In Thy Loving Kindness Lord,” after the Passover service every year, as we do in our area, seems such a fitting thing to do. That lovingkindness, that multitude of tender mercies extended to ones such as you and me, found corporeal expression in the life and death of Jesus  Christ– a life He lived for us and a death He died for us. And it continues to be expressed in the life He lives now — a lovingkindness and a tender mercy that doesn’t stop at seeing that I am forgiven for the things I have done, but that continues on further, seeking to rescue me fully and utterly from those things. A lovingkindness and a tender mercy that seeks not only to free me from the grip of my sins but to take me far from them, far beyond their reach, where they will never be able to touch me again, forever.

Knowing that the ground of my forgiveness is not rooted, truly, in my own goodness but is rooted in His is something too wonderful for me. And I hope it is a part of all of our meditations as Passover approaches.

Again, it’s been a long time since I have visited this little thread! Here are pass posts for those with a little time on their hands:

One journalist’s tale of being a prisoner of Al Qaeda in Syria

Flag of the Al-Nusra Front, or Al Qaeda in Syria (from Wikipedia)

Not much else to write today, as I’d rather give your attention to the story I’m linking to. I normally ignore the links that Starbucks’ throws at me when I connect to their WiFi, but this one — the story of journalist Theo Padnos’ two years as a prisoner of of Al Qaeda in Syria — was worth the time it took to read it.

It’s a bit long (maybe 8000-9000 words), but many will find it worth the time to read. It certainly made some things much more real to me. Makes very plain how terrible it is to fall into the hands of people who are so given to inhumanity, how difficult a time it would be to deal with a population where even its youngest members are being actively programmed to hate, kill, and destroy, and what a trap it is to be continually bound to conflicts in which both allies and enemies hate you with a depth you cannot understand. There will be a lot of work to do in God’s Kingdom. May it come quickly, and may we strive all the more now to be worthy of it.

Here’s the article, from the New York Times magazine: “My Captivity: Theo Padnos, American Journalist, on Being Kidnapped, Tortured and Released in Syria.”

Are you watching the Middle East?

Just a quick hit today.

Are you watching the Middle East? With ISIS filling the news, it almost seems a stupid question, but not really. If anything, the more something fills our screens, the more we can begin to tune it out.

But have no doubts: Eventually the entire world will be focused on that area of the world. And not that ISIS is a small thing–hardly so–but there is so much more going on over there than that. For biblical prophecy to be fulfilled in the Middle East a great deal of change and reorganizing is required, and that is exactly what we see happening.

For instance, here’s part of a dispatch from the Middle East channel of Foreign Policy Magazine that I received today. Really grabbed my attention:

U.S. Claims Egypt and UAE Launched Airstrikes in Libya

Egypt and the United Arab Emirates launched secret airstrikes against Islamist militias in Libya twice over the past week according to senior U.S. officials, without consulting the United States. The officials said the UAE supplied warplanes, pilots, and refueling planes while Egypt provided bases from which the strikes were launched. Egypt has denied involvement and the UAE has not commented. The United States is concerned external involvement in Libya could escalate violence. Officials said Qatar has already been supplying weapons to Islamist militias. According to the United States, strikes targeted Islamist-held positions in Tripoli on August 18 and early Saturday. Nonetheless, Libya Dawn, an alliance of militias including Islamist groups and militias from Misrata seized Tripoli’s international airport on Saturday from rival Zintani militias. Following the move, the General National Congress, the Libyan parliament that was replaced in an election in June, reconvened and installed an Islamist-backed prime minister. On Monday, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, and Britain issued a joint statement denouncing outside interference and calling on all parties to accept a cease-fire and participate in the democratic process.

(And, FWIW: Foreign Policy Magazine isn’t one of those fly-by-night operations, by the way, that I see used by some for “news” these days (replace “news” with “agenda-driven/loose-minded interpretations of facts with pretend ‘facts’ thrown in”). Not saying it’s perfect, but when it comes to news sources, most folks could be a bit more discerning in their choices from what I can tell.)

The King of the South will come together. And to make that omelet will require a lot of broken eggs. If you don’t see some serious omelet-making in the Middle East right now, you aren’t even in the kitchen.

I think I saw a book somewhere once that explains a lot about what the Bible says about this sort of stuff in prophecy… Hmmmm… Where was that? In my local library? No, that wasn’t it. At Barnes & (Ig-)Noble? No, no — that wasn’t it, either…

Oh yeah! Free booklet–BAM!

Booklet - Middle East in Prophecy

Click and read! And, as Jesus Christ tells us to do: watch! And He doesn’t just mean the news–let’s watch ourselves. Watching as something comes to pass that God declared would come to pass does nothing for us if it does not stir us to seek that God all the more.

Islamic terrorists present youth with a serious “God.” Does Christianity?

On the LCG and Tomorrow’s World websites, they reran one of my old commentaries recently, “Smells like teen marketing” — from 2007, I think. I still agree with what it says, and I’m delighted they found it worth running again. It’s nice to feel useful, even if just a little bit! The piece is a bit dated, perhaps, which is my fault. For instance, the play on words in the title probably goes right over most heads, now (inspired by the title of Nirvana’s “Smells like teen spirit”), and I probably should have kept that in mind. Still, I think the idea is true, and I still find such efforts as it describes supremely irritating. Rather than repeat them here, let me encourage you to read the commentary, itself here. (Also, if you would like to see the comic strip that inspired the post, you can find it here.)

But I mention it because something in today’s news reminds me of what motivated the commentary in the first place. I was reading a WSJ commentary this morning by (again) Peggy Noonan concerning ISIS — “A New Kind of Terrorist” — and something she said was directly related to what was on my mind when I wrote that commentary years ago. Feel free to read the whole WSJ piece (as usual, it’s a good one), but here’s the passage that jumped out at me (emphasis mine):

“They [ISIS] have a talent for war and draw fighters from throughout the world, particularly young men from the culturally fractured and materialist West. Those young men, desperate to belong to something, to be among men on a mission, to believe in something bigger and higher than their sad selves, are ripe for jihadist recruitment.”

I believe that. I believe that young men and women, both, long to be a part of something more serious than the distractions and leisures of youth, something bigger than themselves and more meaningful than the world they can create around themselves, and something that brings into their lives a universe of more depth and significance than the one our mainstream culture offers them.

And, as Noonan suggests, that makes these extreme flavors of Islam more tempting than they should be. It has little competing with it in kind for the minds and hearts of Western youth. MTV’s “Rock the Vote” and the like? I don’t think so. Such efforts and those like it seem to have an air of condescension to me — and if I detect that, surely savvier-than-we-give-them-credit-for youth detect it. It strives to come across like “We’re reaching out for you” but feels like “We’re talking down to you.” (Or even worse, “We’re talking down to where we stupidly assume you are.”)

"Wow, is the guy on that church's billboard skateboarding?!? Why, I can't imagine they are pandering to me because of my age, at all--rather, I am quite sure that I will be challenged to know the God of the universe and to discover a greater and more significant and truly ennobling purpose for life there! Count me in!" (Image: iStock)
“Wow, is the guy on that church’s billboard skateboarding?!? Why, I can’t imagine they are pandering to me because of my age, at all–rather, I am quite sure that I will be challenged to know the God of the universe and to discover a greater and more significant and truly ennobling purpose for my existence there! Count me in!” (Image: iStock)

Religion (all the more, the truth and the very real God behind that truth) should be an exception. Yet, as presented to youth, it rarely seems to be that way to me. That’s what I find irritating in so many “Christian” efforts I have seen “reaching out (down)” to youth to get them engaged in faith, and that’s what I talk about in the “Smells like teen marketing” commentary — all the attempts to pander to youth with images of skateboarders, partying teens, etc. — virtually begging them to consider God and faith and “church.” The young kid in school who tried to be everything he thought he needed to be to get the cool kids to accept him was not merely continually rejected by those kids. He was not respected. And those who claim to represent God and, yet, who pander and prostitute themselves to whatever their research says “kids” find popular today in order to win them over using the shallowest of appeals achieve the same effect. They don’t picture a God you can respect.

Such shallow appeals — pictures of skateboarders on billboards advertising your church, etc. — are not the same as Paul’s work to be all things to all men (1 Cor. 9:22), though some might argue that they are. We see Paul applying that principle in action in places such as Acts 17 (specifically, vv.22-31), and we see no hint of pandering. We see him relating to the Gentiles — wisely and with savvy and care — but still presenting a God who demands respect and expects you to follow Him, not the other way around. The modern attempt by mainstream “Christianity” inspires in me a picture of a twisted, alternate-universe version of Paul, not challenging the Greeks to turn to God but presenting the Lord to them as a toga-wearing college dude who just wants to party alongside them at their orgies and such, but, you know, just without all the sex and idolatry and gluttony and “bad stuff” in the hopes that they see this tamer version of their own lifestyles as appealing enough that they would just “give God a chance — He’s not such a bad guy!” (Aside: Mr. Weston’s sermon “New Wine into Old Wineskins” also comes to mind here. Excellent sermon.)

Extremist Islam seems, to me, to present its potential recruits with something different. Barbarities aside (and, truly, never completely aside, of course), it confronts such young recruits with a larger world than their own — a world that presents itself as too important, too significant, and too worthy to pander to you, but a world you can still become a part of. A world whose greatness can become a part of your life, as well. “You want more skateboarding, concerts, partying, whatever?” the recruiter might ask. “Why seek out a ‘God’ who presents such things, when you’ve already got it. Stay with your friends. Worship that ‘God.’ Do your little things. But do you want something greater — something grander? You want access to a world, and a God, that will ennoble you? You want something that will challenge you, yes, but which is actually worth the challenge? Then let’s talk.” And that “talk” is about a serious “god.”

It’s a lie, of course. The “god” of the terrorists is the “god of this age” (1 Cor. 4:4), but he is not God. And he asks the young men and the young women whom the radical Islamicists seek to recruit to simply exchange one shallow lie for another lie. A lie that promises to satisfy deeper longings, true, yet still a lie.

That deeper longing such susceptible youths possess is there for a reason (cf. Ecc. 3:11), and the hole in the deepest parts of their very selves which they seek to fill is shaped perfectly to be filled by the Truth, by the God of that Truth, and by His Son. But for every real need, the Devil has a lie ready and a false fulfillment to offer.

Jesus Christ provides the only real and eternally lasting fulfillment of such deep needs for belonging, for being a part of something greater than you are — something authentically significant and something higher than you are. He provides the real mission for those who long, in Noonan’s words, to be among “men on a mission.”

But He needs to be represented in such a manner — not as one pandering to your lowest selves, hoping you will accept Him into your party on your terms even if it means you won’t respect Him. Rather, present Him as a God willing to allow you to share in the amazing things He is doing — giving you the rare opportunity to join in His Work. To shoulder, alongside Him, a worthy burden. To strive, alongside Him, for a worthy goal. And to become, with His help, something greater than you could ever be without Him.

The “God” who panders to youth comes across like He needs them. No one respects a “God” like that. Something in us tells us that, if he is “God,” he shouldn’t “need” anything. The God who is God knows that you need Him.

The pandering “God” of such pathetic “Christian” youth marketing efforts desires to tap into your wants and desperately hopes that you may want him. The real God exposes you to your deepest need, and challenges you to seek the fulfillment of that need in Him. Such a God does not need to pander.

There is a reason that mainstream “Christianity” is dying in the West among teens and young adults and radical Islam is finding new recruits in those same age groups. The god of violent, extreme Islam that is presented to the youth of the West for consideration is a lie, true, but at least he is serious. He expects respect and he expects you to meet his standards — the sort of thing you would expect from someone claiming to be “God.” The idea of combatting such an appeal with an increasingly MTV-flavored “God” desperate to be liked and thought of as “cool” is ridiculous and, frankly, nauseating.

Stop pandering. Let God be God — the one who said not “Hey, will you let me party with you,” but, rather, “Walk before Me and be blameless” (Genesis 17:1). Those who don’t think our youth can respond to such a God aren’t giving them enough credit.

The terrorists seem to have figured that out.

One or two spaces after a period? The controversy continues…

I have so much I want to blog about right now! I would like to post something on the presentation I attended last Sunday night featuring Intelligent Design advocate Michael Behe, and the review commentary I wrote about the Noah movie (spoiler: pro-Satan propaganda) has motivated some interesting comments, and I would love to post some additional thoughts I have had about the flick–but all of that will have to wait. Because something much more pressing and important has come to my attention: News on the front of the acrimonious “One Space/Two Spaces after a Period” war.

So much needless bloodshed... er... I guess, inkshed. Will there be peace in our time?
So much needless bloodshed… er… inkshed. Will there be peace in our time?

OK, it really isn’t that pressing. But we have discussed it here on the blog before (“I repent! No more two-spacing! (See!)” – 1/17/2011). The new information comes from a daily newsletter I enjoy from DailyWritingTips. The original post is titled “One or Two Spaces After a Period?” and is worth a read for those like me who are more interested in such things than they should be.

The new post references the same Slate article I mentioned in my previous post but gives additional historical detail and takes a much more moderate tone. Actually, now that I go back and read the Slate article, it is amusing how the author, Farhad Manjoo, comes across. The committed one-spacer says, “What galls me about two-spacers isn’t just their numbers. It’s their certainty that they’re right.” And how does he start off his column? “Can I let you in on a secret? Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong.” I can’t call it outright hypocrisy — after all, one can be galled about how certain another is about his rightness when the thing when the source of your gall is your certainty he is wrong. But, still, it is amusing. Perhaps due to the fact that it is Slate, it reminds me of society’s self-contradictory cries of “I refuse to tolerate intolerance!”

The demands of writing within technological environments that either erase my double spaces or ruin my formatting with them (e.g., WordPress sometimes turns two spaces after a period ending a line into an awkward line-leading space on the next line) have made me a conscript of sorts, serving the one-space side of the divide, but I do admit that my heart still lies with the two-spacers.

Anyway, the author at DailyWritingTips, Maeve Maddox, is much more balanced than Manjoo, and the piece gives some nice historical details. Check out the article, and while you are busy being enthralled by tales from the “One Space/Two Spaces” war, I will try to get some Behe and Noah-related thoughts out of my head and onto this blog in the near future.

Poor René Descartes… Riffing on “the cogito”

Portrait of René Descartes
Mr. Descartes, I am so sorry. (By the way, you really need a haircut.)

I went on a weird little spree, today. I was thumbing through Boy #1’s excellent logic textbook this morning before work, and there were some humorous twists on René Descartes’ famous “Cogito ergo sum”I think, therefore I am. Much of my work today has been online-oriented, and as midday arrived the growing number of additional goofy quotes my brain was generating got to be too much to contain. None of them were quite as funny as the textbook’s originals, methinks, but that didn’t prevent me from tweeting them anyway. (OK, there is at least one personal favorite I like better.)

So, collected below you will find the day’s efforts – that which will surely cause René Descartes to have words with me in the Second Resurrection. They are displayed in their original tweets. Feel free and mention which one your favorite is below. Or which one is the most terrible. Or add your own. Or just write, “Shame, shame, shame…” (The originals from the textbook listed at the bottom, with credit.)

And, yes, I got some real work done, as well. 🙂

Credit/blame where credit/blame is due: sandwich, waffle, mountain, and sumo were the originals from Boy #1’s book, Traditional Logic: Book II, by Martin Cothran.

Condolences concerning Mr. Luker

I was going to write a post today about a few more dumb rumors and statements out there being made by talebearers and false braggarts who should know better (and some who are apparently too ignorant to know better), but after hearing that Mr. Dennis Luker, president of the UCG, has died it all seemed suddenly very petty.

Let me take a few moments to express my condolences to those grieving with loss. I did not know him, but Mr. Meredith spoke highly of him and mentioned many times that he counted him as a friend. From what I have heard, he was a good man who will be missed very much. For those in grief, please know that many are praying for you and are thankful right along side you for the marvelous truth God, in His mercy, has shown us.

Tomorrow: One month from the non-Maya non-pocalypse

“After December 21, I am soooooo taking a vacation…”

I may be too busy to post tomorrow (currently enjoying a hotel room and a slow start to the morning!), so I thought I would post on this today. With tomorrow’s being November 21, that means we’ll be only one month away from the Great Non-Maya Non-pocalpyse.

Saw a nice admission in the news recently in a sadly pathetic story about town in France that is being forced to prevent people and reporters from flooding it as December 21 approaches because–no kidding–people believe that the mountain on which it sits contains a UFO that will rescue them from the approaching Non-Maya Non-Event of Non-Doom.  As the article says, “One online rumor holds that on this day of destruction, Pic de Bugarach [the mountain] will open up to reveal an alien spacecraft, which will save believers nearby. That has local officials worried.” Later, the article points out that they are “worried” about being overrun by “visionaries” and reporters, not little green men.

Feel free to read the article yourself at LiveScience.com: “Mayan Doomsday ‘Safe ‘Zone’ Shut Down.”  The admission to which I refer is earlier in the article:

The calendar change would not have been seen as the end of the world by the ancient Maya, scholars agree. But in New Age and other online subcultures, believers have come to expect something major on that day, with predictions ranging from a new dawn of peace and harmony to an explosive doomsday.

Scholars agree.” Indeed. As I’ve pointed out here over and over, nothing in the Maya writings (and they have possessed an elaborate writing system for many centuries, well before the Spaniards arrived with “Christianity”) nor their many, many carvings indicates that they saw December 21, 2012 in the same way that 2012-ologists do, and credible researchers today agree on this. If anything, Mayan writings say the opposite. And none of the later corrupted writings (such as the Chilam Balam) tie any of their often misunderstood “apocalyptic-style” writings to 2012 or the end of the current calendar cycle, either–again, as scholars continually try to assert to a world of New Agers and Maya-hobbyists who refuse to face facts.

Now, might something actually happen in December of 2012? We certainly are in increasingly cataclysmic times, and, yes, “something” can always happen. In fact, I can predict that no matter what happens or doesn’t happen, certain “prophets” will point to one thing or another to claim they were right: “See, I said (something sort of like) that would (possibly) happen!” or “Don’t you feel the wave of intergalactic peace and love washing over all of us?” [In the first case, we need to coin a word for such folks, as I feel bad abusing “prophet.” Maybe “probphet”? In the second case, I suspect that funny-smelling cigarettes will be passed around while such sentiments are discussed.] But it won’t be because the Maya predicted it.

If you want to know what real scholars say about the 2012 hoopla, poke around the blog here (for instance, this post). However, if you want to know what real prophecy says about the years just ahead of us, poke around hereTomorrow’s World.

Non-Prophet Presidential Predictions (or Probabilities, Perhaps)

I’ve rediscovered my blog! The time since the beginning of the Fall Holy Days has been crazy, with not only Feast coordination (which went fantastically at the Lake of the Ozarks–thanks to all who pitched in!), but also with Tomorrow’s World Special Presentations (and a hearty thanks to all of you in Iowa, who showed up, helped, and gave me shelter and food that weekend!) and with Tomorrow’s World tapings last week (and more thanks, yet–thanks to the fantastic crew, editorial staff, and everyone else who makes the program a joy to work on!). But things are beginning to feel more normal again–other than the Council of Elders meeting coming up in November, life has calmed down.

Except for the Presidential Election this week!!!! Auuuuuugh!

OK, no freaking out there, either. What a blessing and comfort it is to know that God is in charge, and even if he appoints the basest of men next week, it will be for the purpose He is working out.

That said, it is high drama, and given that all indications are that the man elected next week will be facing remarkable events over the next four years–and we in America and the world will be facing them with him–one cannot help but wonder who it will be.

Any predictions? I could pretend to be a prophet and say who I think will win, then claim authoritatively “Like I said on Friday…” next week (unless I was wrong, in which case I could either point to the weasel words I sneaked into my prediction or else I not bring it up again). But let me say upfront, I am not a prophet, and the Church of God today has no prophet, though some certainly claim to be so. This is ground I’ve covered before, but it’s worth repeating… No one in the Living Church of God claims to be a prophet, and no one in any other organization I’ve ever seen (and regrettably, I’ve had to see a lot) shows the proper fruit of a prophet. None of us blogging out here in Internetland have any biblical evidence to show that we’re a prophet: myself, Bob Thiel, John Wheeler, various other bloggers I will not name, Facebookers, Tweeters, blog commenters, etc., etc., etc. — none of us have biblical prophet credentials. (Let’s be hip and call it “prophet cred”…) And none of those out there claiming to be one of the Two Witnesses fit the bill beyond the twisted passages and personal arguments they hold up as “evidence.” There simply is no prophet out there at this time.

So when I say this, I don’t speak as a prophet: I think that President Obama has the best chance of winning. (Note, I’m not expressing my preference in the matter, just what I think of the odds.)

I know that there are many people out there parsing the numbers, and they come up with various predictions. Karl Rove, for instance, wrote a very good argument in the Wall Street Journal yesterday (I think it was yesterday) pointing to Governor Romney as the likely victor. I’m not saying it isn’t possible–indeed, it’s a very real possibility. Then there are those who believe that a mysterious shadow government really controls everything and they will simply place their puppet into control regardless of the voting this Tuesday. I won’t address that beyond a quick mention of Isaiah 8:12. Still, others will look at the arc of prophecy and decide that either Mr. Obama or Mr. Romney would best suit the purpose of God in fulfilling that prophecy and claim that their choice will be God’s choice.  Some of them, of course, will be right about the conclusion (since one man will win or the other), and wrongly see that as confirmation of their prowess with understanding scripture, breaking their arms as they pat themselves on the back.

My sense is simpler than all of that. Even though so many of the opinion polls seem to be breaking for Governor Romney, I have a hard time getting past what the gamblers are saying, and the gamblers–as of today–still believe that Mr. Obama will win and seem to give him great odds: 67% that he will win, 33% that he will lose (as I write this at 10-ish AM, Friday morning). Check it out for yourself on Intrade. Unlike opinion polls, the prediction market isn’t asking who you like or who you’ll vote for–it’s asking who you think will win AND it’s asking you to put up good money on your belief. If you’ve never heard of prediction markets, the New Yorker had a good, brief article on them in 2007, and it’s essentially gambling structured like stock market futures trading. Now, I don’t gamble (work! Exodus 20:9!), but the success of these markets at predicting presidential election outcomes is pretty impressive.

The history of the gambling markets for presidential elections is fascinating, and apparently before the introduction of Gallup polls and the rest it was the gambling community that major newspapers looked to to forecast coming elections. An article on the Huffington Post describes a bit of history and the success rates such “markets” had seen in elections:

Gamblers’ success in this arena is nothing new. In presidential races beginning in 1896, the New York Times, Sun, and World provided daily betting quotes. The papers’ sources were bookies who had agents at every stump and whistle-stop to gather intel and quantify popular sentiment. Between 1884 and 1940, the bettors erred on just one of sixteen elections, Wilson’s 1916 upset of Hughes.

It’s actually an interesting article for those so inclined.  And 15 out of 16 — that’s a pretty good success rate.

Still, sometimes the horse with the best odds doesn’t come in first (or so I assume–I haven’t seen a Kentucky Derby since my mother died), and the gamblers only give low odds for Mr. Romney, not abysmal. Personally, I can see God accomplishing a number of things in the United States under either man’s leadership (or, perhaps, “leadership”). And as for what the reaction might be on election day, itself, given the emotions at play this year–especially if one of the candidates wins the Electoral College but not the popular vote–I will just say that we should pray for peace: Peaceful minds (our own, as well, if need be) and peaceful circumstances.

We’ll find out in just a few days…