Archive for August, 2021

Winston and Julia had been having a private rebellion, hiding among the Proles for rendezvous. Winston had the notion that O’Brien was a follower of Goldstein. The elusive Goldstein, oft heard of but no one could really quantify what he thought. Like Snowball in Animal Farm, he was the one scapegoated for all that went wrong.

And so the couple decide to visit O’Brien in his home and confess that they’d willing do, and suffer, anything for the cause. O’Brien would covertly provide “the Book” to Winston which explained Goldstein’s views.

And so there our heroic couple is, in their love nest above Mr. Charrington’s shop, as Winston begins to read The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism by Emmanuel Goldstein. Or so it claimed.

The basic premise is that no matter what the political system there are always three groups of people: the High, the Middle, and the Low. Who is High depends on the system: nobles in a monarchy, the party elite in socialism, communism and other forms of totalitarian governments, and the wealthy elite in capitalism. It is either about bloodlines, ideology or wealth. Whatever “it” is, if you don’t have “it” you are on the outside looking in. Revolutions have replace one High group with another.

“The aim of the High is to remain where they are. The aim of the Middle is to change places with the High. The aim of the Low, when they have an aim- for it is an abiding characteristic of the Low that they are too much crushed by drudgery to be more than intermittently conscious of anything outside their daily lives- is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal.”

oceania social structure
from Gordon State College

War has changed from trying to rule the world to unending wars with limited aims between nations unable or unwilling to annihilate the other. War has a purpose for the High to keep the Middle and Low needing the High to keep them safe. War is also for the labor power needed by the three superstates for their now self-contained economies.

“The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance with the principles of doublethink, this aim is simultaneously recognized and not recognized by the directing brains of the Inner Party)is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living.”

The hierarchical society is only maintained by the presence of poverty and ignorance. The elites work to keep people poor and ignorant while simultaneously claiming to work to eliminate poverty and ignorance. (Is any of this sounding familiar??) War uses resources that would otherwise be used to actually improve the lives of the Middle and the Low. Yet, in keeping with doublethink, the Inner Party believes they will actually win.

“It is to be achieved by some new and unanswerable weapon. The search for new weapons continues unceasingly, and is one of the few remaining activities in wich the inventive or speculative type of mind can find any outlet. In Oceania at the present day, Science, in the old sense, has almost ceased to exist. In Newspeak there is no word for “Science.” The empirical method of thought, on which all the scientific achievements of the past were founded, is opposed to the most fundamental principles of Ingsoc. … The two aims of the Party are to conquer the whole surface of the earth and to extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent thought.”

Science and engineering are largely dominated by the military-industrial complex, not the quest for bettering life. While there doesn’t seem to be an internet, the media keeps the people ignorant by “re-writing” history to suit present needs. Information is controlled by the Party to achieve their ends (sound familiar?).

What people didn’t realize is that the three superstates had the same basic ideology though they went by different names. In Oceania it was Ingsoc, Eurasia it was called Neo-Bolshevism and in East Asia it was a word translated “Death Worship”. Keep in mind Orwell is writing this after World War II, and is seeing the world through the superpowers of the Allies (England, the US, France and allied nations), the USSR and its growing number of subservient nations, and China who would eventually dominate much of Asia to spread Maoism (through a series of wars fought with the Allies) while the Allies and Russia fought an unending Cold War.

The wars ceased to be dangerous though unending. They were for relatively small disputed territories for labor aka slaves. Nothing in Oceania was considered to be efficient except for the Thought Police. The real war is to keep each superstate intact by making war on one’s own citizens.

Property is increasingly owned by fewer and fewer people. Then private property was abolished so that the Party owned everything collectively. The Party also doles out property to the “faithful” thereby institutionalizing inequality instead of making it the result of opportunities seized and squandered (with the element of “chance” tossed in since a drought or storm can destroy your crops or factory).

Big Brother, the haunting figure throughout the book, is not really a person. He is the Party which watches everyone. No one has ever seen Big Brother as a result, though they might imagine they have. He is the guise by which the Party presents itself to the world.

Online surveillance bill opens door for Big Brother | CBC News

Party membership is not hereditary. There is the Inner Party (about 2% of the population) and the Outer Party (aka the Middle) and then the Proles or the Low. Admission to the Party, either Inner or Outer, is by examination. The Thought Police oversee the Party members. Their surveillance is seemingly ceaseless. They can see you doing most anything including in the bath, but you aren’t sure if they actually are at any given moment.

There is no express law for you to know whether you are guilty or a criminal or not. Whether you are guilty is in the eyes of the Thought Police. The purges and late night arrests are for those who may at some point threaten the Inner Party. Since there is no stable view of the past for comparison, people tolerate the current state of affairs no matter what they may be.

As the past is changed, it is necessary to adjust all written records of the past so agree with the present orthodoxy (like who is a hero or villain and with which Superstate you are allied with and fighting against- again, similar to what happens in Animal Farm). “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting them both.” The Party members know they are playing tricks with reality. This lies at the heart of Ingsoc as the Party uses conscious deception while acting as though honest. As a result, the Party reviles the practices of the Socialist Movement in the name of Socialism.

Julia has fallen asleep. Winston stops reading the book. In terms of doublethink, Goldstein is likely as made up as Big Brother. The Brotherhood or Resistance is not real but this book likely reveals how the Inner Party functions. It is, as one friend said about 12 Monkeys, a mind screw. The Party unmasks itself through the guise of Goldstein.

Twelve Monkeys - Movie Review - The Austin Chronicle
Do you think you’re crazy yet?

And so Winston Smith falls asleep reminding himself that “sanity isn’t statistical”. It isn’t based on the number of people who believe what you believe. Sanity is about coherence with reality, not the ever-revised reality of the Party. The Party makes you think you are insane because they keep changing reality. Thanks to doublethink you both know and don’t know it. The truth is lost in the twist and turns of circumstances. It is collective gaslighting. “I wouldn’t trust a vaccine from Trump” becomes “You must have the vaccine because I’m president now and you should trust me.” “You don’t need a mask” becomes “You might need two.” In this ever-changing reality those who remember both statements feel crazy and are called crazy. Those who replace one thought with the other think they are sane in their ignorance.

When he awakes, his whole life changes.

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The next book in the Year of Dystopian Classics is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Of local note is that as a child he spent two years in Tucson while his father was looking for work. While calling themselves Baptists, they were not really church goers. He considered himself a “religious delicatessen”- taking beliefs from a variety of Eastern and Western religions. He only dated one woman, to whom he was married for over 50 years. He never got his driver’s license, instead relying on public transportation and his bicycle.

Why is the best cover the Spanish language edition?

In light of Fahrenheit 451, it is interesting to me that he initially thought “only good would come from computers.” He thought they would become as common as books. He underestimated humanity’s capacity to corrupt every good gift from God. Later he saw the danger of new technologies as his frightening vision of this book began to take place, saying in 2010 “We have too many cellphones. We’ve got too many internets. We have got to get rid of those machines. We have too many machines now”. Fahrenheit 451 was his best known work, and his tombstone states he was his author.

He placed the novel in an unknown future date. Reflecting the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the story takes place after some atomic wars. It takes place during what seems to be a never-ending war. Unlike 1984 there is little history or political background. But there is evidence of a “police state” in which people are encouraged to report non-conformists of various kinds, especially those who own books.

Montag, the main character, is a fireman. Instead of putting out fires, they start them to destroy books since they have been outlawed. Books, and their views, cannot be controlled like the state media is. They are considered subversive.

Fahrenheit 451 – Senses of Cinema
Oskar Werner as Montag in the old movie version

At first he seems to enjoy his job, but not really his life. In the opening scenes we see the devastation of the new forms of media. When I read this in the 1980’s it did seem like science fiction. We had a 19-inch color TV that weighed a ton due to the lead in the tube. Wall-sized TVs seemed unrealistic to me. We now have them.

His wife finds meaning in “the family” something of a soap opera in which the viewers are treated as participants. They are her family. Yet her existence is one of misery. She lacks real connection. Her “friends” only seem to gather to talk about the shows on TV, not about real life. She is suicidal as a result, and the night he returns home at the beginning of the story she has taken too many pills. The medics have a machine that transfuses the blood to remove the chemicals and replace it with untainted blood.

We discover later how their technology is breaking down the most important relationships. Montage can’t recall why he married her. Many of the women have had multiple abortions, and children are raised by the state as an extension of state-sponsored education.

Also seemingly prophetic, they have electric cars. The combustion engine seems to be a thing of the past. People have little regard for human life, and while he tries to cross a street young punks try to run him down at the intersection.

Montag is slowly revealed to be discontent with society. We are shocked to see him steal a book, not realizing he’s been doing that for some time and has a rather large unread collection hidden in his home. He is experiencing something of a conversion of he comes back to life. He feels and looks insane as he comes to grips with the numbing realities of life as structured by the seemingly benevolent political power.

A girl who would seem to normal to his readers is seen as insane, incorrigible. He finds he connects to her in a way that he cannot connect with anyone else. She becomes something of a friend. Her death sends Montag farther down the road of rebellion against the numbing status quo.

Sanity seems insane when everyone else complies with a messed up world. Montag suspects that his boss knows, and there are a few conversations in which he teases Montag trying to get him to turn himself in, promising leniency for turning in the book he stole. He claims to understand the temptation, that he has doe this in the past himself.

Fahrenheit 451 Movie vs. Book: Michael B Jordan, Writer on Differences |  IndieWire
Michael B. Jordan as Montag in the 2018 remake

In the past he had met a former professor in the park. He tracks him down again to discover the truth, and an ally in a scheme to try and expose the truth to society. In the process he learns that before burning the books, technology and media had largely replaced books. People no longer read, and didn’t miss them except for the subversives- a formerly respected intelligentsia. Turning their backs on books, people lost the capacity to think similar to Postman’s warning in Amusing Ourselves to Death.

It all goes south when Montag first reveals his secret to his wife, and then to his friends. When he returns to work, the first fire they are sent to set is his own house as they have turned him in to the authorities. He is on the run chased by the electronic hounds that inject poison into the suspect. The chase is on TV, sadly predicting the networks in Los Angeles televising chases.

Outside of the city he finds other subversives. Lacking books, they preserve them by memorizing them. The war the lurks in the background results in the destruction of civilization. Free from the oppressive state, they are now on their own to begin again.

This is a short novel. As I noted Bradbury, unlike Orwell, isn’t concerned with political theory or how this state of affairs came to be. He’s more focused on how people have surrendered themselves willingly into the hands of the state. He focuses on the dehumanizing effects of this society. It is a sad reflection of the dehumanizing effects of our society.

Yes, there is a graphic novel version.

The parable of the frog in the kettle comes to mind. This is a process that happens incrementally. it is a process that is happening as many have lost the capacity to reason. We rely on memes and Tik Toc as though they express deep thought and penetrating analysis. Younger generations are enamored by them and think they alone have “figured it out” when they are just victims of a society that has not taught them to think, but rather has indoctrinated them. They are falling in love with a system that only seeks to enslave them for the benefit of the elite they think has their best interest in mind. They hate the wars we find ourselves in, but continue to support the politicians who keep us in these wars while somehow tricking people into thinking they will extricate us.

I still have to wrap up 1984 by focusing on the political theory express there. Next on my list is Brave New World by Huxley.

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I’ve read a fair number of books on anger. Some of them have been excellent, and others were less than helpful. Christopher Ash and Steve Midgley have recently written The Heart of Anger: How the Bible Transforms Anger in Our Understanding and Experience. This is probably the best book on anger I’ve read.

I’ve begun to read Christopher Ash and enjoy his understated British style. He has been a pastor and is a scholar with Tyndale House. Steve Midgley is a pastor and biblical counselor in England.

The Heart of Anger: How the Bible Transforms Anger in Our Understanding and Experience - Ash, Christopher; Midgley, Steve - 9781433568480

The book is neither technical nor overly popular (filled with stories). The chapters are generally short enough to be read in about 30 minutes. There is some interpretation of pertinent passages, but not exhaustive. I did learn from them as they helped me to see some connections I’ve missed (like in James 1) and background (Mt. 18). It is informative but does not simply show off knowledge or the fruit of extensive study. They bring the pertinent material to the forefront to aid in understanding.

If I were to summarize the book I’d say it takes the best of Good & Angry by Powlison, the section in anger in Untangling Emotions by Groves and Smith and Marshall’s The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification. Our unrighteous anger (which is most of it) is about our personal kingdoms instead of God’s, is addressed by becoming more humble through our union with Christ. This indicates they are seeing similar themes in Scripture, not necessarily borrowing from these books.

“Anger is the drawn sword of human relationships.”

Drawn swords cause damage. Anger damages our relationships, often times more than the original offense.

The Scriptures speak much of anger: theoretical and actual. It talks about anger itself, and about people being angry. The 10 Hebrew words used can paint a fuller picture of anger. There are also idioms reflecting anger. Hiding behind anger we often find “sadness, regret, shame, and despair”. Anger is not a loner, it travels with friends.

Part 1 is about Biblical Portraits of Human Anger. Anger is often about something I value taken from me or threatened. They identify control, possessions, sexual intimacy and delight, and reputation as common things of value in the stories of Amnon, Balaam, Babylonian kings and others.

Balaam and the Ass - Wikipedia

Building on the work of Matthew Elliott (Faithful Feelings is a book you may want to look into as well) they address the common process that results in anger. Perception ==> Appraisal ==> Emotion. This happens quickly but there is thinking involved in this thru appraisal. It can be helpful to trace it back, but that cannot all we need to do in addressing our anger from more than an anger management view point. It isn’t simply the occasion that matters, but our hearts that is the issue: what am I valuing?

Anger doesn’t just reflect our values it also “shapes our perception”. It becomes like a pair of colored glasses affecting how we view other people and their actions. Angry, we don’t give people the benefit of the doubt. We can take offense where none is intended. Anger tends to isolate us as we stomp off or others slink away.

“Perhaps the fact that anger can wear a thousand faces is one of the reasons we fail to spot it for what it is.”

Anger flows out of our sinful hearts. And the “original sin” that produces original sin (our guilt and corruption) is desiring to be like God. We are all kingdom builders and expect those around us to join in that building program in submission to us. People and things that don’t get with the program experience our wrath. Therefore one aspect of putting unrighteous anger to death is putting the kingdom of me to death and pursuing the kingdom of God instead.

They move into the harm created by anger. We see the madness of anger in the demoniac called Legion, Potiphar and even Moses. While anger has a cognitive component, a cognitive approach is insufficient. Sin enslaves us, tricks us and pulls our strings. Some anger is explosive, while some burns slow like a chemical burn which is nursed by our rehearsal of events. Simeon and Levi waited to gain revenge on Shechem. When an angry David (like Jacob) does nothing to Amnon, Absalom stews for two years before slaying his half-brother.

“A slow, nursed anger is a strange and terrifying beast.”

Anger can be link to competition which is why leaders often struggle with anger. Some argue that this is the positive force by which leaders express passion and remove obstacles to attain their goals. That “leadership expert” cites Moses whose anger was the reason he didn’t enter the Promised Land. It is common among leaders, I imagine, because they are more focused on building a team, business and organization than people serving in them. They are building kingdoms!

Another fuel that feeds the fire of anger is self-righteousness. Our religious certainty feeds anger. Often religious anger is directed at grace. Jesus was the target of the self-righteous anger of the religious leaders of Israel. They also point us to Naaman who was offended at the notion of receiving grace. The problem of self-righteous anger is that one becomes impervious to correction. They have a righteous cause, they think. We see self-righteousness, and pride, at work in the Scribes and Pharisees who refuse to listen to Jesus teach them the Scriptures.

The authors also warn us about the infectious nature of anger. It is easy to get caught up in the crowd as it morphs into a mob. People egg one another on like in the riot in Ephesus. This can create a culture of outrage, much like we see politically today. The goodness of some is met by the anger of others shamed because you don’t join them in wickedness (1 Peter 4:3-4).

How well do you remember Anger Management? | Zoo
The angry crowd in Anger Management

At times we can recruit others to serve our angry purposes. Angry we seek allies to destroy the person that threatens our kingdom. It makes sense through the lens of wrath, but it is a delusion.

“Once we remember to put God back on his throne, the togetherness we feel is a humble togetherness. A shared penitence. A readiness to acknowledge that the one who is right isn’t me but him. And it is very hard to be simultaneously humble and angry.”

They then address the question of righteous anger. Surely sin deceives us into thinking all our anger is righteous. The reality of our corruption means that even the most righteous anger we express is tainted by sin. Anger is godly in as much as it is stirred by the things that anger God, and out of a sense of God’s glory. They warn that imitation of God can easily become replacement of God. They also warn that pastors care particularly prone to this (okay, this is the second time they’ve hit pastors, remember they both are or were pastors).

“When righteous anger slips into something unrighteous, it is always because I have smuggled myself onto the throne. And instead of representing God, I have replaced him.”

The second part of the book is Leave Room for an Angry God. That God is portrayed as angry, at times, is important for us to understand. It is also intended as a truth to calm our anger since He will right all the wrongs that anger us (if they are truly wrong) without committing any wrongs in the process (like we are too prone to do).

Secular anger management theories, while of some benefit, leave out God’s anger. If there is no God to right wrongs, why shouldn’t I take matters in my own hands (except that I might end up in jail)? And here is where there is some tough theology in a short amount of space. We cannot understand what it means for God to be angry unless we know what it means to be angry (Calvin notes that knowledge of God and self are intertwined because we are made in His image). But we also grapple with the incomprehensibility of God. We can know what He reveals to us, but we can’t fully, completely and perfectly know God. He doesn’t have emotions like ours. We are responsive to events or circumstances outside of us that are unexpected. Emotions exert control over us. As One who ordains whatsoever comes to pass, nothing is unexpected to Him. And nothing controls Him. They do note that when Scripture speaks of God’s anger, it is saying something true of Him analogous but not identical to our experience of emotions.

They hit some more theology in discussing the simplicity of God. He cannot be separated from His attributes, nor can His attributes be separated from each other (they reference Peter Scanlon’s Simply God: Recovering the Classical Trinity). The point is that you can’t take a remove the angry part of God like Jefferson tried to remove the miraculous from the Scriptures. His anger is based on perfect knowledge, aroused only by evil, is just and fair, is forewarned and has a good goal.

God demonstrates His anger through human authorities (see Romans 12-13), the self-destructiveness of evil (people reap what they sow, and often evil traps recoil back upon people), and God hands people and societies over to their evil desires resulting in moral disorder (Romans 1).

God is a zealous God (I prefer this term to jealous due to the negative connotations of jealousy). He is zealous to protect that which He loves. He is zealous for His love to be returned. He is a consuming fire (Deut. & Heb. 12:29)that breaks out against sin.

God reveals Himself to Moses (and it is frequently repeated) as slow to anger. He’s not quick on the draw. He’s not quick with judgment. It may be slow, but as the authors say, it is sure. God’s wrath and judgment will come. We see this anger revealed in Jesus. As a Person with two complete natures, Jesus was angry, particularly in defense of the Father’s honor rather than His own. They note he was angry at hard-heartedness, attacks on His Father’s honor, sin and death.

“Anger at evil is the necessary corollary of love for good.”

All this is why Paul tells us to make room for God’s anger (Rom. 12). We are not to get vengeance on our own. We are often angry when we shouldn’t be. We can also fail to be angry when we should be. Like all sinners we should flee the wrath to come by seeking refuge in Christ who bore the wrath of God for sinners like us.

Having looked at anger human and divine, Part 3 addresses First Steps in Defusing Human Anger. They begin with contrasting our anger with His. They return to the doctrine of simplicity. His anger expresses all of who He is. Our anger doesn’t. The fact that we aren’t “simple” is one reason we err with regard to our anger. God’s knowledge of the situation is absolute, complete; he’s not missing anything. We don’t have all the knowledge we could or should. Unlike Jesus, we often don’t consider the needs of others, and that there may be all kinds of background issues at play.

I got an email today. It was well-intentioned. And it ticked me off. I’ve been incredibly discouraged and this felt like the straw on the camel’s back. I needed encouragement and this discouraged me more. There is so much more to a situation than we could possibly understand.

The next step is to consider the agenda which drives our anger. This is a chapter I wish I had read 15 years ago because they talk quite a bit about parenting. One of my kids just seemed to know every button to push, and I was frequently angry with him. We tend to get angrier with our families, including/especially our kids, that we do people at work. We need to slow down our rapidly moving hearts. They identify some agendas that are common to parents. Our sense of responsibility for their future drives some of our anger. We think we have to change their behavior or they will never get a job, a spouse, leave home, etc. The second is a need for control. Since we are responsible for their future, we think they need to get with our plan. Our anger is often disproportionate because we have a faulty view of what’s at stake. We also get angry with them because we feel shame. We focus on what people will think about us because of our kids. This is a horrible burden to place on them. The forth is placing our value or worth in how we measure up as parents. They don’t make any bad choices, we think we do.

This discussion of anger in parenting returns them to one of their main premises. The heart of anger is our desire to be God. We shift from His kingdom to ours. We don’t exercise His delegated authority but begin to act like we are the authority. Good parents, and leaders, are people who recognize they are under God’s authority.

“Humility defuses anger because the humble man or woman is someone who isn’t grasping at equality with (or worse still, replacement of) God.”

Another step is to uncover the emotions lurking beneath the surface. For many of us anger dominates the stage, but there are other actors up there. They include (as seen earlier) fear, frustration, sadness, and shame. The world does not bend to our will and we experience anger and all those other emotions as well.

In the forth part they discuss how we Find Joy in the Peace of Christ. They being this section with the fun fact that the average family has their first Christmas Day fight at 9:58. That late? They affirm some common sense wisdom in anger management. You will be angry more often when you are hungry, lonely and tired. And the anger and you have the fixin’s for addiction. More profoundly I need a new heart, a new crowd, a way to find peace instead of vengeance, a new spiritual power, a new humbling and a new influence. The book ends with these. Here is where they are similar to Walter Marshall, because Jesus provides all of these in our union with Him. We are regenerated so we have new hearts. We are also united to other Christians and have a new crowd. We partake of the Spirit who is a new power. We are united to the Prince of Peace who helps us forsake revenge.

It's K-k-k-ken, c-c-coming to k-k-k-kill me! - Coub - The Biggest Video  Meme Platform
K-k-k-Kenny Gets Revenge in A Fish Called Wanda

Added to these they discuss the love we receive from Christ which helps us to love others. Christ, the wisdom and power of God, also shares His wisdom with us.

Real change is only possible in Christ. The book drives us to Christ, and our anger should drive us to Jesus. In many ways this takes the best elements of a few other books and blends them together for our encouragement and edification. This book is easy to understand, and it communicates important material. If you struggle with anger, and we all do, this would be a good addition to your library.

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This weekend CavWife and I were able to get away from the kids and church for a few days. It is very hard to get those times away. We enjoyed this weekend: no chores, no cooking.

I was reminded of another time we got away, very early in our marriage. It was a horrible experience.

As recently married people, we didn’t have much money. There were some big expenses as CavWife was integrated into my existing home. We needed a bigger bed and other changes so she felt at home. She’d also experienced a big change in her health and wasn’t working as we thought she would.

A retired pastor in our small congregation had gotten one of those promotional weekends for a timeshare in Daytona Beach. For $99 you got to stay there a few nights. You had to endure a sales pitch. But it was a cheap way to get away. He and his wife were not going to use it and transferred it to us.

CavWife did a great job working the phones and the angles. We had a beachfront room lined up off site with a kitchenette. She bought food for us to cook so we weren’t going out and spending more money than we had. It promised to be a great weekend on the beach.

When we got there the office we needed to go to first was chaotic. We weren’t sure what was going on until we finally got to talk to someone. At the last minute (??) it was decided there would be a Dale Ernhardt Memorial concert in Daytona. They didn’t know how many to expect for this concert, but the hotel they put us in was pulling the room. Beach-front with kitchenette gone.

Dale Earnhardt left lasting legacy after death, forcing change in NASCAR  that saved lives

They had another place arranged for us. Did it have a refrigerator to at least store the food we had in the cooler?

The negotiations began. They were painful. They were drawn out. But we had an address for a motel room.

Instead of being on or by the beach, we were near the exit on I-95. I can’t recall the particular name of the hotel, but it was a disappointing dump. I’d been in better (non-resort) rooms in developing countries. This room was a disgrace.

It was nearly dinner time so we went to the restaurant next door (Applebee’s I think) to eat. The particular health issue affected her emotional reserves. He we are sitting in this restaurant, not near the beach, and she’s crying.

We were disappointed. Feeling like we should have just gone home. But when you are a pastor of a small church it takes lots of coordination to takes these times away.

I really don’t know how we spent Saturday. I do recall that the dingy, disgusting motel was filled with Dale Earnhardt fans in town for the concert. I know some people who love NASCAR. They are middle class, stable, good human beings. These folks weren’t them. It was like being surrounded by Ricky Bobby and his family. They were congregating outside drinking beer. The kids were throwing things at each other (not playing catch) and taking over the pool. Car engines would rev at odd times. It was like we moved into a trailer park.

Sermonette: The theology of 'Talladega Nights' | Living | crowrivermedia.com

Eventually we had our promotional visit and meeting with the salesman. It was a decent tour, but I’ve been to nicer resorts. The sales office was filled with salesmen making their pitch. We got a man who wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. We expressed our lack of desire, and funds, to get a time share. He persisted.

I began to feel an impending intestinal requirement. The unstoppable force was upon me. I excused myself to find a place to take care of business. The place I found was similar to some nightmares I’ve had. They are trying to get me to buy a place and they can’t keep the bathrooms clean and functioning. If I had the money, this wouldn’t be the place.

In less discomfort I made my way back. At this point we made a mistake. “We pray about these things. We don’t make impulsive decisions.” Now the salesman begins to mock us. I’m not sure what he was thinking, but this shaming of our faith didn’t make us more inclined to buy, but less. The promised 10-15 minute pitch has become at least an hour. This guy would make a good used car salesman- he just wouldn’t listen to us. I had to extricate us from this human vise.

I can’t recall anything positive about that weekend. I wish it could be expunged. It is too long of a tale of terror to make a decent sermon illustration.

I’m so glad this past weekend was not a repeat performance.

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