Letters

New Respect for the Word of God


I used to proudly and unquestioningly hold to a particular standard of belief that I now find myself questioning.  Some will likely call me a heretic for this. Heck, back then, I would have called these questions heretical!

The reason for questioning is simple: I live in the 21stcentury, among a highly industrialized, aggressively secular global community. I don’t live among a first century community of farmers in a religiously-dominated culture, or among a bronze-age nomadic society. I marvel that I didn’t catch this sooner.  

And with this in mind, I’ve found myself concluding that “the most literal translation” of the Bible won’t actually be helpful to me. So I’ve abandoned my search for the most literal translation of the Scriptures for several reasons:

• The original texts of the Bible are full of stories, parables and metaphors: it wasn’t actually written for literal interpretation. Looking for “the most literal” translation strikes me as fundamentally contrary to the writing styles and methods of the Biblical authors.

• In order to have an effective, “literal”, word-for-word translation of the Bible, we need to have an equivalent English word – and ONLY one English word – for every Hebrew or Greek or Aramaic word of the original texts. And we aren’t even close to that. These languages are completely different from their roots up.

• Literal communication of agrarian metaphors and religious allusion don’t translate well (if at all) into the Information Age. The ideas are valuable, but we need to translate the metaphors, either during the translation to English, or during my reading of the English translation. Knowledge of grafting grapevines, for example, is not prevalent in my world.

• There really is at least a measure of truth behind the principle that as years go by, both the skills and the resources for Bible translation advance. Therefore, all else being equal, there is real reason to expect that more modern translations will ultimately capture the heart of the Scriptures better than earlier versions.

• I don’t actually need divine wisdom for dealing with slavery, temple prostitution, arranged marriages, leprosy, and other topics that the Bible did deal with literally. But there are principles that, if I consider them metaphorically, have application to my Facebook interactions and my driving habits.

• My other challenge is that I no longer am as interested in the (admittedly priceless) words of famous first-century (or much earlier!) followers of God. I’m actually more interested in hearing the Word of God Himself speaking to me through their words. [see John 1:1-2, Hebrews 4:12-13]

I still respect (and study and read) the NASB and NRSV and other word-for-word translations of the Bible. I value those translations, and I seriously respect their goals!

For the last 50 years or so, I’ve used my paper-and-ink Bibles very heavily, and worn them out regularly. So I’ve replaced my “primary” Bible pretty frequently. And curiously, I chose to get a different translation for my primary study & ministry Bible every few years. (My thinking back then was that I wanted to get past the mindset of the translators, and hear the heart of the authors behind the translation.) So I’ve avoided growing up loyal to any particular translation.

In recent years, there have appeared some fresh translations that are aspiring to translate the heart of the content, rather than to shoehorn an English word into being an equivalent for a Greek or Hebrew word that isn’t even part of our thinking in this century. As a result, these are fresher to my understanding and more accessible to my emotions than the shoehorned vocabulary of earlier versions (consider “adjure” or “husbandman” or “prick against the goads”).

I’ve been listeningto the Bible rather a lot recently, more than reading it (“Faith comes by hearing….”), and while I own audio versions of four different translations, I find myself most inspired, most provoked, most comforted by The Message Version. Not even a little bit of a “word-for-word” version, their goal was to communicate Scripture into the actual, everyday vernacular that we speak today. I think it succeeds wonderfully!

I chose it primarily to get out of the normal “religious” thinking that I’d grown up with listening to KJV and NIV preachers, and it’s worked for that purpose.

When I’m digging into the Greek & Hebrew, I still use the older, more traditional translations, particularly the NIV.

So you’re welcome to write me off as a heretic if you feel the need to. Keep in mind that “heretic” was a word invented during the Inquisition specifically to accuse those who [gasp!] thought independently of what the religious government told them to think. Yeah, I aspire to do that.

But you’re also welcome to join me in exploring the riches of the Word of God as He expresses Himself through the word of God.




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Letters

Oftenly Pronoun… and I mean frequently!

I was talking with a random guy on the street, somewhere in Asia. English was clearly his second language, though my Mandarin clearly had no comparison to his English. He didn't speak Mandarin, though. Things got interesting when he used the word "oftenly".

"I skate oftenly," he said.

Oftenly...

Technically, oftenly is not usually a word, but technically it is, but technically it's the wrong word. The word he meant to use was "frequently". If he wanted to say that he skated from time to time, specifically times that are so frequent that they "occur oftenly" (proper usage because the verb occur is about time), it would have been proper to say, "I skate often."

What's the difference and who cares, anyway!?

English speakers love to argue about grammatical distinctions that clearly provide no further clarity—and may even be right—or even wrong and right differently—and to make such arguments about these clearly unclear differences about right and wrong usage differently, even though they have nothing to do with the difference between right and wrong. And, I still have no idea why.

I even asked my friend whether in his country they liked to argue about nothing as much as English speakers did. Absolutely not! It was almost as comical for him to observe me deliberating with myself about the difference between "often" and "oftenly" as it is for a Brit to watch Monte Python banter about British nothingness—notwithstanding that it is most entertaining to watch the Brit be entertained by the bantering banterer, but I digress.

How should we ever know that we ought use the -ly suffixed adverb "frequently" and the non-suffixed "often" interchangeably in the same sentence? It all comes down to English style guide preferences.

In typical, classroom, American English, words like "tomorrow" and "yesterday" are considered adverbs. This may seem strange—and I do think it is strange indeed. Usually, adverbs describe manner or the way in which a verb is acted out.

Consider "eating". "I eat quickly." This makes sense with the adverb "quickly" as the eating is done in a quick manner. But, if I will eat "tomorrow", is the manner in which I will eat described with any more clarity? Does the word "tomorrow" really behave like an adverb?

As with "tomorrow", even if I eat multiple times everyday, "often" just doesn't seem to describe the manner of eating as much it describes the days and times when I eat; but "frequenly" does describe some of the manner. And, that brings me to Cambridge.

Cambridge has a different take than Amercia's 20th century classroom; "yesterday" and "tomorrow" are not adverbs—they are pronouns.

From the English style viewpoint of Cambridge, words like "tomorrow" don't tell one ounce about the manner and speed with which a verb is acted out. Rather, "tomorrow" represents a day as much as "me" represents myself, Jesse Steele, the writer of this ridiculously multi-topicked article with a grammatically incorrect title.

Now, I must add my own two cents about understanding grammar. By "tomorrow" being a pronoun, saying, "I will eat tomorrow," doesn't mean that I plan to eat the actual day of Thursday should I happen to be speaking on a Wednesday. In this "case", the pronoun "tomorrow" would have the "Locative Case" usage of "place in time", but that is a discussion—and an argument in favor—of grammatical noun case applicability to English. And, though I don't want to keep digressing, if using the Cambridge style, it does help to clarify the usage of "tomorrow" by identifying its functional "noun case" and while classifying it as a "modifier noun". If that doesn't make sense, that's okay, it's only two cents.

Where was I?—tomorrow!

If we view "tomorrow" and "yesterday" and words of the like as pronouns that represent days, then we would easily know that "often" is also a pronoun for time—whether time of day or any given day or month, year, et cetera. And, we already know that pronouns do not receive the adverbial suffix, -ly. "Often" should be considered a pronoun, just as "tomorrow", "today", "yesterday", and "everyday" for that matter.

Now I'm wondering, with the Cambridge style, if I were to describe an activity whose manner is best described as done in a "tomorrow" -like manner, would I say that I, "do it tomorrowly."? I think the best answer would be, if you can't save an adverb's life, it's more merciful to kill it quickly. After all, in any well-described writing, adverbs would be a redundancy, which is another argument in favor of Cambridge—"tomorrow" isn't an adverb, so there's nothing wrong with using it. But, I digress yet again.

In conclusion, we understand that the Cambridge style for English usage helps us to clear up this "often" problem. Proper usage is, "I skate frequently and often," because "frequently" is an adverb while "often", like "tomorrow", is a pronoun.

Needless to say, my friend was quite amused at the remarkable time English speakers have with which to dedicate concern about use of language. But, it is likely that he will "frequently and often" use the word "often" properly and correctly in the future. Thank you Cambridge.

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Letters

The Tidy Deception


There’s a deception that I’ve come to … well, I don’t know that I actually “hate” it, but I sure don’t love it.

It’s a deception, an illusion, and it’s perpetrated, many times, in God’s name, and often with the best of intentions.

It’s the deception of the finished lesson.

I became aware of it while I was studying something-or-other for teaching. I felt like I was wrestling a greased pig. I cut my way through bunny trails and wild goose chases and fought off premature and inaccurate conclusions.

It was a long and arduous process.

And when I was done, I presented my results to the folks I was teaching, all tidy, all logical, all wrapped up with a nice little bow on it.

It was good teaching. And my conclusions were both accurate and relevant.

But I was uncomfortable with how tidy it was. This was not a tidy topic, and I felt that I’d done folks a disservice by hiding the blood, sweat, toil and tears that went into the process.

In actual fact, the blood, sweat, toil and tears are a legitimate part of the topic, of the conversation. Let’s be honest: outside of TV shows, there aren’t a lot of thorny questions that tidily wrap themselves up in 30 minutes, are there?

It seems to me that the need to make things tidy and clean and neat is not actually a benefit to American culture.

Let’s be specific. If we think that the abortion issue has a clean and simple answer, we’re not paying attention. If we think that the topic of social justice can be solved easily, we’re smoking something interesting. If we think the fear of God, or the grace of God, or the rapture, or the solution to immigration, or balancing a household budget have tidy answers, we’re not seeing the whole of the subject.

Christian platitudes are an abysmal failure. But Christian blogs and Christian books (and not-so-Christian books) that have clear-cut answers are equally deceptive.

We’ll see how I respond to this, how I deal with this in the future. As much as anyone else, I like having clear answers readily available, and I like not looking like a dork as I stumble for an answer that actually means something on a complex topic.

But we might find that not every post has a confident conclusion. I don’t know. We’ll see how this turns out.


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Letters

Mixing Promises with Faith


I have been meditating, unexpectedly, on Hebrews chapter 4 for a while, the second verse in particular. I was listening to it in The Message when it first hit me.

“We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn’t do them a bit of good because they didn’t receive the promises with faith.” TMB

This is a topic that Father and I have been cogitating on together for many months. Now, I know that The Message is not the most literal translation of the scriptures, so I wanted to see if the same idea existed in a more precise translation.

“For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” NKJV

Yep. It’s still there.


The topic I have been working on for a while is this. That God’s promises are not the whole story. There’s more to this story, than just God declaring wonderful promises to us.

Clearly, there has to be. There are so many amazing promises, in Scripture, in public prophetic words, and our daily devotions. If God making the promise was all that was needed for that promise to be fulfilled, we would be living in a Heavenly Utopia right now.

But we’re not. Therefore, ipso facto, there must be more to it.

And this verse tells us what that “more” is. If we don’t mix the promises that he has given us with faith, then the promise goes unfulfilled. The limitation is not his. It is ours.

Hebrews four declares that it has been this way for thousands and thousands of years, since the journey to the promised land. This is the reason that Israel did not inhabit some of the things that she was promised.

And this is a reason that you and I have not experienced the fullness of every one of our promises.

It is probably worth mentioning that the thing that is holding us back is almost certainly not the thing that we *think* is holding us back. It is almost certain that what we think is responding in faith to our promises is not actually the same as what God thinks “mixing those promises with faith” actually is.

We think we are responding to the promises with faith, but either we are mistaken, or God is a liar. I know who I am going to believe in this situation, and it’s not me. I’m going to believe that God is not a liar. So I clearly have missed it on this one.

It is beyond the scope of this brief missive to discuss what actual faith really is, what really will empower all of our promises. But if it was the thing that we call faith, that we have called faith all of our lives, then we would not be living the life that we are currently living, would we?

For the record, it’s pretty obvious that my own definitions of mixing promises with faith have been inferior, or insufficient, also. I suspect that this will be a topic of conversation between Father and myself for quite some time. You are invited to join in this search with me.

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Letters

The Cutting of the Lord


Jesus promised us that our growth would be rewarded with pruning. We think, “Pruning? That’s cutting! That’s taking things away! That can’t be good!”


Here are some details about pruning.

• Pruning carefully will drastically increase the fruitfulness of the pruned tree. Cutting back results in a dramatic increase of fruit!
• Pruning at the right spot strengthens frame of the base plant. Pruning makes you stronger.
• Pruning is not actually optional (John 15:2). If we bear fruit, we will be pruned. If we do not bear fruit, we’ll be cut back very severely (but not killed), so that when we grow back, we’ll grow fruit. And when we do, we’ll be pruned for even more fruit.

So how does he prune us?

In John 15:3 Jesus says, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” So him speaking his word to us is part of our cleaning, our pruning. This is him speaking to us, mostly through the Book, and a lot of that is about how to respond to the crap in our life.

In Luke 13:8, he gives us more detail. The conversation is about pruning, and in that parable, Jesus says to the Father, “Leave [him] alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it....”

Fertilizer in that day was manure: animal poo. So pruning may show up as crap in our life.

Here’s an example: in Luke 9, the boys are arguing about who's greatest. That's poo. The ambition to be great is actually good. The competition apparently is the poo.

So in 9:48, Jesus prunes them. “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

This is what pruning looks like. That’s not as bad as we feared, is it?


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Letters

What Covenant?

Abraham believed God & God made a covenant with him. (Gen. 15:6 & 18) That covenant was based on the fact that Abe believed God. Now he’s God’s friend, as well as his covenant partner.

But in Genesis 12, Abe is afraid & lies about Sara. He was afraid the king would kill him to get his hands on his hot wife, so he says, “She’s my sister, not my wife!”

Abraham is giving in to a spirit of fear, and he’s a liar. Those are bad. But God backs him up, IN THE LIE! He defends Abraham (and his marriage) from the ignorant, horny kings.

Wait, what? God defends the liar? And defends the lie? Why would he do that?

It was hundreds of years later that Moses comes down the mountain with The Law, which includes “Don’t sleep with another man’s wife,” and “Don’t tell lies” and such. Now, with coming of The Law, adultery and lying (and several other things) become a sin.

The Law is a part of Moses’ covenant with God. It’s not part of Abraham’s covenant with God, or Noah’s.

In Abraham’s day, there was no rule that said “Don’t sleep with his wife,” and no rule that said, “Do not bear false testimony.” These rules didn’t show up until late in Moses’ life. They weren’t forbidden in Abraham’s day.

Were they still stupid things to do? Of course. And Abraham paid the price for that. But they weren’t “wrong” in Abe’s day and age.

So it’s not appropriate (or even meaningful) to judge Abraham or Noah by a covenant that didn’t exist in their day. In the same way, it’s not appropriate to judge a Peruvian farmer by Norway’s laws, or to judge a Mostho factory worker based on Peruvian law.

And The Law not actually part of our New Covenant either. Therefore, it’s completely inappropriate to judge New Covenant believers by Moses’ covenant. Or Noah’s covenant. Or any other covenant.

Are you a New Covenant believer? Then it’s completely inappropriate to judge yourself by Moses’ covenant either.


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Letters

Angels Support the Values of the Kingdom


It was one of those days where it seemed there were more crazy people on the roads than usual: cars pulling out right in front of me, crowding me off the street, the guy turning right from the left lane right in front of me.
 
I was not amused.

Eventually I made my way to the freeway, and took a deep breath. “This feels like an attack,” I realized.

So I prayed. I invited angels to protect me as I made my way across town to my appointment.


And as soon as I prayed, I knew I was wrong: I didn’t need to invite them to protect me; they already were protecting me. They were the reason I hadn’t actually been hit by any of those crazies on the road. That green Volkswagen had stopped so suddenly was because an angel was stopping it from running into me.

So I thanked the angels for their effective service, and invited them to continue. And I went after any assignment against me, cancelling that. That felt better, and I encountered no more crazies that day.

And Father & I talked about this as we drove. I was thankful for the protection of his servants – our servants – on the roads, but if the angels are protecting me, why were there so many near misses if they were on duty? Why not just keep things safe and sane, why not stop the green Volkswagen five or six feet earlier so I didn’t jump out of my skin with that near miss?

This is the part I’d like to share with you, see what you think.

Angels are (essentially) employees of the Kingdom of God, serving those who will inherit salvation, right? So their actions will be consistent with the values of the Kingdom, yes?

It floated into my mind: “What is the currency of Heaven? What is it that moves His hand?”

Faith. Faith is the currency of Heaven. It’s the prayer of faith that changes things.

In fact, Romans goes so far as to declare, “without faith it is impossible to please God.” [11:6] More, that’s how this whole adventure began: “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” We enter the Kingdom by faith and ever after, the Kingdom continue to work by faith.

Then it hit me. The employees of the Kingdom of God won’t be working in such a way as to bypass God’s values, in such a way as to invalidate the currency of the Kingdom. That means that angels won’t be working in a way that removes the requirement for faith, for my trusting God.

In fact, it’s more likely that they would choose their actions in such a way as to increase the faith of those they minister to, to encourage me to trust God more, in this case, rather than trusting my own driving skills.

In fact, it appears that angels are aware of the level, the maturity of our faith, and treat us accordingly. Their actions will be different for a new believer than for one who has walked with God for several decades, because it takes more to grow the faith of the seasoned saint, while the babe in Christ is challenged by even the simplest things.

In some cases, God (perhaps through the ministry of angels) provides for us, but his provision might show up at the last second. (“God is never late, but he sure misses a lot of opportunities to be early!”)

Why? Because if the provision showed up early, we’d never have to exercise faith. We’d stroll along comfortably, content that our provision was in the bank, rather than trusting our Father.

Us trusting our Daddy. Yeah, that’s part of his goal for us. Us being comfortable? Nah, that’s not a priority.

And God’s work in our lives, angels’ work in our lives, will never work against the need for us to walk (or drive) in trust.



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Letters

Angels Support the Values of the Kingdom


It was one of those days where it seemed there were more crazy people on the roads than usual: cars pulling out right in front of me, crowding me off the street, the guy turning right from the left lane right in front of me.
 
I was not amused.

Eventually I made my way to the freeway, and took a deep breath. “This feels like an attack,” I realized.

So I prayed. I invited angels to protect me as I made my way across town to my appointment.


And as soon as I prayed, I knew I was wrong: I didn’t need to invite them to protect me; they already were protecting me. They were the reason I hadn’t actually been hit by any of those crazies on the road. That green Volkswagen had stopped so suddenly was because an angel was stopping it from running into me.

So I thanked the angels for their effective service, and invited them to continue. And I went after any assignment against me, cancelling that. That felt better, and I encountered no more crazies that day.

And Father & I talked about this as we drove. I was thankful for the protection of his servants – our servants – on the roads, but if the angels are protecting me, why were there so many near misses if they were on duty? Why not just keep things safe and sane, why not stop the green Volkswagen five or six feet earlier so I didn’t jump out of my skin with that near miss?

This is the part I’d like to share with you, see what you think.

Angels are (essentially) employees of the Kingdom of God, serving those who will inherit salvation, right? So their actions will be consistent with the values of the Kingdom, yes?

It floated into my mind: “What is the currency of Heaven? What is it that moves His hand?”

Faith. Faith is the currency of Heaven. It’s the prayer of faith that changes things.

In fact, Romans goes so far as to declare, “without faith it is impossible to please God.” [11:6] More, that’s how this whole adventure began: “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” We enter the Kingdom by faith and ever after, the Kingdom continue to work by faith.

Then it hit me. The employees of the Kingdom of God won’t be working in such a way as to bypass God’s values, in such a way as to invalidate the currency of the Kingdom. That means that angels won’t be working in a way that removes the requirement for faith, for my trusting God.

In fact, it’s more likely that they would choose their actions in such a way as to increase the faith of those they minister to, to encourage me to trust God more, in this case, rather than trusting my own driving skills.

In fact, it appears that angels are aware of the level, the maturity of our faith, and treat us accordingly. Their actions will be different for a new believer than for one who has walked with God for several decades, because it takes more to grow the faith of the seasoned saint, while the babe in Christ is challenged by even the simplest things.

In some cases, God (perhaps through the ministry of angels) provides for us, but his provision might show up at the last second. (“God is never late, but he sure misses a lot of opportunities to be early!”)

Why? Because if the provision showed up early, we’d never have to exercise faith. We’d stroll along comfortably, content that our provision was in the bank, rather than trusting our Father.

Us trusting our Daddy. Yeah, that’s part of his goal for us. Us being comfortable? Nah, that’s not a priority.

And God’s work in our lives, angels’ work in our lives, will never work against the need for us to walk (or drive) in trust.



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Letters

My Authority


Authority is always given, never taken.  That’s pretty much immutable.

Father could claim authority in my life in his role as my creator, but he doesn't. That's what free will is about: he gave me the right to choose whether he will actually be my Lord or not, and it’s a choice I need to keep making, not a one-time, set-it-and-forget-it choice.

Civil government assumes (correctly) my submission to its authority by virtue of the fact that I choose to make my home within the boundaries of its authority.

Nobody else has the right to claim authority over me, though some may claim power over me (e.g. incarceration).

I can and do choose to submit myself to other authorities in my world. I have submitted much of my will to my bride with the simple commitment, “I do.” I have a pastor (not in position, but in fact) to whom I submit this: I will always listen to his input, and take it seriously, but I do not delegate my decision-making (my will) to him.

Similarly, I have invited a few others to speak into my life, though not all of them know it. However, if someone assumes that they have authority in my life, that generally disqualifies them to speak into my life. If they insist, we’ll have a blunt conversation. I am the one responsible for me. Only I can exercise my own free will, regardless of theology or psychology or civil law. The best they can do is either a) counsel me on *how* they think I should make my choices, or they can make their own choices for how they will respond to my choices (e.g. if I drive drunk, they might choose to incarcerate me), but they cannot make my choices for me.


I’ve had a goodly number of folks come into my life for the sole purpose of assuming authority over my life and my choices. I used to submit to that process, but giving away my free will has never worked out well in my world. And it insults my beloved King if I despise (= “to treat as unimportant,” e.g. by giving away) his precious gift of free will.

In my opinion, this is one of the greater obstacles to the western Church, and one of the greatest problems in many western nations, particularly my own: individuals giving up their responsibility for our own lives, choices and circumstances. 

The current buzzword for the process of not taking responsibility for our free will is “entitlement,” and it’s a doozy. The sense of “It’s not my fault!” is pretty epic right now, and it’s often accompanied by either “…therefore someone should pay me for it!” or “…therefore I’m powerless!” or pretty often, both.

So much gets resolved when we merely accept responsibility to make our own free-will choices.





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Letters

Quotes on Suffering from PBB: An American Tragedy, by Edwin Chen, circa 1979

The complaints of the known-PBB-poisoned crops, farm animals, humans, and experimental animals.

Source - PBB: An American Tragedy, by Edwin Chen, circa 1979

  • “A cow in front of him looked as if she had been crying. Tears were streaking down her cheeks. He checked her for other infections, especially pinkeye. He resumed down the barn alley. He encountered another tear-streaked face. And then another. And another.” (p.6)
  • “There’s no reason for these cattle to have IBR (a flulike disease which can cause abortions in cattle),” said the stoop shouldered animal doctor. “I vaccinated them all myself and the vaccines came from several suppliers so we can’t blame it on a bad batch of vaccine. But I'll be hanged if I know what it is. These cattle don't act like any I've ever seen before. No cuds, no appetites, no fever. I don't know what they've got.” (p.11)
  • “But soon other symptoms appeared among the cows, such as abnormally rapid hoof growth and lameness.” (p.12)
  • “One night, Sandy woke up with a stab of pain, marking, she later recalled, 'The beginning of a spreading kidney infection. Before that was taken care of, Lisa’s (daughter of Sandy) cough had gotten worse instead of better.'” … “... turned out to be pneumonia and required ten days in the hospital.” (p.12)
  • “The poor calf wouldn’t eat for two weeks before it died.” (p.14)
  • “Soon similar reports (autopsies) arrived on the other calves. Several had ulcers, others inflamed kidneys.” (p.14)
  • “In many cases, the mice would rather starve than eat the (PBB laced) feed during experiment). (p.17)
  • (The calves from the initial PBB exposure) “...had begun to have their calves.” … “The poor animals would have over term calves, and they would develop no mammary tissue, and their pelvic ligaments would not adjust to allow for normal calf presentation.” (p.17)
  • “Yet the cows continued developing illnesses. Many had hooves that curled upward and inward uncontrollably; some began losing hair, then their skin thickened and wrinkled. With each death Dr. Jackson would do a postmortem. The signs always seemed the same, enlarged livers, inflamed kidneys, nearly a total absence of fat.” (p.19)
  • “At the National Animal Disease Laboratory, where Dr. Furr was giving the feed to steers and pigs, two of the pigs died, one bleeding from the ears and one from nearly every orifice in its body.” (p.19)
  • “'One of my rabbits died,’ he told Halbert. Dr. Jackson’s rabbit experiment was his own idea.” (p.20)
  • By mid March Halbert’s own cows began dying before giving birth to calves. Losing both a cow and her calf became more frequent.” (p.23)
  • “...lose their hair in huge patches; soon there was no hair left on their faces and necks, and the hairless patches were spreading quickly. Before long both calves were totally hairless. Then their skin begin to develop a condition called hyperkaratosis, which makes it resemble elephant hide. The calves failed to respond to all treatment.” … “(Halbert’s) wife (same farm as these cattle), Sandy had developed a bleeding ulcer and inexplicable chest pains.” (p.25)
  • “The cows dropped right down in milk production; they weren’t doing well at all.” (p.27 Art Laupichler near Yale, Michigan CoOp)
  • “But death continued to plague the farm. One victim was Super cows, so named because she was the best animal the Halbert’s had ever bred.” … “But two days after Supercow died, her week-old calf also died.” (p.29)
  • “At the Halbert Farm, the disposal of 8000 quarts of milk every day soon became yet another problem to cope with” … ”So Rick decided to haul the waste and milk out, and spread it on the fallow fields. But once the load got bogged down in the field and had to be drained on the spot before it could be pulled loose from the mud.” The liquid wastes were allowed to run off, following the lines of the cornfields and disappearing finally into a stand of young corn. 'Within a few days, we noticed the corn in the field had fallen flat, as though someone had driven a steamroller through that part of the field.’ she said.” (p.50)
  • “'Some of the cows were so weak when they were unloaded that they couldn't stay on their feet. A number of the animals resembled the starving cattle from the drought-stricken Sahel, their hides looking as if they were thrown over their bones. Dozens of them had lost patches of hair on their necks and faces; and the exposed skin resembled elephant hide.’” (p.51)
  • “When one of the drivers saw the pathetically thin animals plodding slowly up the loading ramp, their ears drooping, their coats dull and coarse, their patches of hair missing to reveal elephant-like skin, he gasped, 'My God! What happened to these animals? Is it contagious?’” (p.51-52)
  • “Ball wrenched his back in a minor mishap.” (p.57)
  • “They had rented a house on a farm and a friend of theirs had given them several chickens as a present. ‘They were very pleased,’ Dr. Corbett said, “to be supplied with all the fresh eggs they could eat and took it as a personal affront when I commented that they were the most miserable looking creatures I had ever seen. They were scrawny, and their feathers were falling out. They looked as if they had been half plucked.” (p.66-67)
  • “'We fed the experimental group from days seven through eighteen of the nineteen-day pregnancy period.” … “'Several of the experimental animals died before the end of the feeding period. We performed autopsies on the animals and found two surprising things - the animals had died from massive gastrointestinal hemorrhages, and they all had greatly enlarged livers.” ...of the remainders, autopsies occurred at day 18… “‘Autopsies on the experimental animals revealed a continuing pattern of abnormal liver enlargements.’” (p.67-68)
  • “'It’s an exencephaly,” Dr. Corbett said as everyone gathered around the (mouse) fetus - it's head severely deformed and it's brain protruding from it's skull.” … never seen by any of them in all of the lab workers’ unrelated studies… “If it was due to Firemaster, he thought, there ought to be more of them in the remaining fetuses. 'Here’s another one.’” More were found in the next stage of further studies involving Firemaster and impregnated mice. (p.68)
  • “'For instance, Albert Vandewater, a 49 year old Fremont, Michigan, farmer, said he had been hospitalized for six days in December 1973. Then in March he was admitted to Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids with a suspected coronary problem. 'He is able to get around, but not able to work,’ the FDA report said. Although heart problem was ruled out,’ the report added, 'Mr. Vandewater now cannot see to read or drive. He has a loss of energy, has lost thirty pounds over the past nine months, is subject to blackout spells and has been since December 1973.’ Vanderwall’s farm was quarantined after a chicken was found to have been highly contaminated with PBB.” (p.85-86)
  • “'Also in Fremont, one of the hardest hit areas, dairywoman, Nancy Rottier told FDA inspectors she had begun suffering from migraine headaches, usually 3-4 times per week, for the last five months. Her farm was quaranined…” … “Then her headaches disappeared, since she stopped drinking her own cows’ milk. A subsequent physical examination by her own doctor found Mrs. Rottier 'entirely normal.’” (p.86)
  • “In Newaygo, just a few miles southeast of Fremont, 50 year old Ethel Johnson told FDA officials she began experiencing unusual fatigue in the fall of 1973 and 'just couldn’t seem to make a recovery.’ She became abnormally nervous and began losing weight. A thorough examination turned up nothing. Almost every night she had to get up 3 or 4 times to urinate. Her husband advised her to drink more milk. She did, but her problems worsened. Her ankle and feet then began swelling. After a week’s hospitalization in Fremont, doctors were unable to come up with an explanation for her ailments. They told her to go home and relax. But the swelling continued, and her hands and feet often throbbed at night. Another doctor told her the swelling probably was caused by her circulation, ‘which wasn't the best.’ Before long, Mrs. Johnson was experiencing dizziness and lack of coordination, often staggering, as if intoxicated, when walking and missing her mouth while eating. Her problems began improving after April 1974 when she stopped drinking milk because of the publicity about sick dairy animals, she said.” (p.86)
  • “Her husband, Melvin, told the FDA inspectors he also had coordination problems that set in during the winter of 1973. He spilled coffee frequently, tripped and stumbled often and had fallen in the barn numerous times. Like his wife, Johnson also missed his mouth when eating. An ophthalmologic examination found nothing wrong with his sight. Occasionally, he also had sharp stomach pains that felt as if he were 'stabbed with a knife,’ Johnson said. He said he thought his problems were due to his advancing age. Tests later revealed that the Johnson’s milk had contained 11.2 parts PBB per million, an extremely high dose.” (p.86-87)

 

Next quote p.90. Will continue through entire book.

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Letters

The Bible or Relationship?

I love the Bible.

I don't mean that metaphorically, this is literal: I love that book, I love those stories. Even more, I love the precious revelation of this relationship that I've been reborn into, the Story of Covenant.

However, I'm far more interested in hearing Holy Spirit speaking through the words than I'm interested in taking the words of the translators - skilled as they are - for my definitive final word.

Even if I could get past the translators, if I could have walked around with Peter and Paul and John and hear them, in their original language, share their experiences and counsel of their relationship with God, I'd still rather talk with God, face to face.

And I think He'd prefer that, too.

This is about a relationship, isn't it? A PERSONAL relationship, right? So the relationship with the person is the authoritative reference.

I am thankful for my marriage certificate. It tells me about a relationship that is precious to me. But I can tell you that I'd much rather curl up before the fireplace with the Lady named in that certificate, than with the certificate itself.

The certificate is valuable, priceless even. The Lady, and my relationship with her, is even more priceless.
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Letters

Sent

We Are Sent.

There’s a big difference between us going out on our own and spreading the Good News of the Kingdom because we like it, and being sent on assignment to to do the very same work.

We’re sent. We're on assignment. Commissioned by Heaven.

Jesus sent us: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” [John 20:21]

Think about that first word, “As” for a minute: This is like what Father has done.

You and I are sent under the same terms and conditions that applied when Father sent Jesus to Earth.

Let that mess with your head for a minute. Jesus was sent as the embodiment of Heaven to extend the Kingdom (“kingship”) of heaven on Earth. Every time Jesus confronted darkness, the Kingdom of Heaven emerged victorious. Every time Jesus met someone sick, he healed them.

OK. That stretches me a fair bit. I’m not just a follower, just a “believer”, just a pew-warmer, just “little ol’ me.” I’m sent to Earth with the same assignment, with the same backing, with the same power that Jesus was sent with.

“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Whoa.

Now for the second half:

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God….” [John 13:3]

How was Jesus sent from the Father? With all things under his power, knowing he had come from God, knowing he was returning to God.

“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” What does this say about how you’re sent?

And of course, the very next thing Jesus did was to wash the boys’ feet. Isn’t that how we’re sent?

We're sent to wash feet in the power of, and as a representative of, the King of Kings. He's washing feet through you and me.










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Letters

Guard Your Heart

You’ve all heard people talking about “guarding your heart.” You’ve probably heard a sermon or ten on the topic.

It’s usually presented as, “Don’t let the enemy influence your heart in any way.”

A famous Bible teacher said it this way, “The enemy wants to embitter and corrupt you. Guard your heart against contamination by lust and loneliness, bigotry and arrogance, and everything in between.”

Now that’s all well and good, but I saw this in a new light recently. It messed up my thinking, and I think I'm on to something.

I used a revolutionary new Scriptural Interpretation Technique (maybe we can call it SIT?) for this new revelation. Let me share it with you:

• Read the whole freaking verse.

That’s it. Pretty complicated, isn’t it? Let’s practice this together on this topic, shall we?

Turn with me to Proverbs 4:23: “Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”

Do you see what it’s saying here? It’s not talking about guarding your heart so you don’t think bad thoughts. If you’re in love with Jesus, if your mind is “fixed on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1&2), then there’s no room for the bad thoughts anyway.

[Hint: if you have problems with where your mind goes, this is a great tool: focus your mind on the God-Man that loves you silly! Bury yourself in Him, and in the Word of God. It works!]

It says, “Guard your heart… for....” “For” is an awfully big word. In other words: “Here’s the reason you guard your heart: because stuff springs out of your heart if it’s not guarded well.”

Have you ever spoken before you took a second to think, and wished you could take those words back? Have you ever discovered that you related to somebody through a messed-up filter? Have you ever believed a lie, and had that lie influence how you do life?

The reason you guard your heart, the reason I need to guard my heart, is not so bad stuff doesn’t get IN. It’s so the issues of my life don’t get OUT to mess up other people.

Moreover: our job is to guard our heart DILIGENTLY so we don't let the wrong stuff out. This is a big deal.

We don’t guard our heart to protect ourselves. We guard our heart to protect the folks around us.

(Wait. How often are we actually commanded to protect ourselves, and let everybody else fend for themselves? Yeah, like never. So this is consistent with the “whole counsel of God” too! Nice.)

--

“Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”



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Letters

Herbicide Sensitivities

Below, find a letter I sent to a handful of Reed City High School employees.

Josilyn will not attend school for a 24 hour period after this is sprayed. I recommend NO PREGNANT women or immuno-compromised people attend school that day (WHICH IS TOMORROW!)

I will post an update from the Facilities Management Department (Paul Lewis was the posted contact person at plewis@reedcityschools.org) when I receive a response. I sent it a few minutes ago around 10am, so it's fair to not expect a response in the next hour. Hopefully before the end of the school day or Josilyn may end up missing two days, due to my wanting "to be safe rather than sorry."

 

"I have meant to write many times when I’ve seen pesticides are going to be used on the school grounds. Today I am thankful to have the time to ask some questions and share my personal knowledge. I promise to keep this as brief as possible (and technical terminology to a minimum).

The local areas, throughout the past 100 years, have been exposed numerous times to intense chemical contaminations. Each time, in the months after, the communities downstream of these mistakes get sick. Our repeated exposure to a family of chemicals, known as endocrine disruptors, create havoc in our bodies. They also act as carcinogens, neurotoxins, reproductive toxins, volatile organic compounds, and sensitisers, but my research has not dove deeply into the other areas as of yet. So I’ll focus on what I have learned.

Well known examples of endocrine disruptors:

DDT, Agent Orange, PCB, PBB, BPA, PCE etc.

There have been MANY times corporations have chosen to allow this community to be poisoned. Mistakes happen. As a former laboratory technician at the Mayo Clinic, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Amway, and Perrigo, I understand how easily mistakes happen. However, many of these companies, after realizing the mistake, took minimal to no action, creating a wider spread problem, still hospitalizing our community regularly;

The round of contamination which concerns me the most, the 1973 exposure when PBB (a fire retardant was accidentally added to cattle feed, instead of an additive, which was to increase dairy production) entered the ENTIRE MICHIGAN FOOD CHAIN. Nobody who lived here was safe from the problem. The mistake was realized early by farmers, due to their cattle’s rapid health decline after starting the contaminated feed. When the farmers asked questions at the feed store which supplied the PBB laced feed, they were told it was only happening on their farm, and their sanitation skills needed some examination. The company, Farm Bureau Services, was aware rather quickly, of the mistake made, yet continued to deny allegations. I’m sure this was for legal reasons. As the farmers’ own families, starting with the elderly and children, (not just their livestock/livelihood) began to get sick, with similar issues as they had observed kill their cattle,  they knew it was not their fault. With this confidence, they began to contact the Agriculture Department for the State of Michigan. For reasons we’ll likely never know, they also chose to deny. These two denials allowed the problem to continue, allowing the cattle to ingest the fire retardant, leading to the entire food cycle being contaminated.

This family of endocrine disruptors has proven, since the 1800s, to have intense health effects on humans. The current government paperwork will tell you “The effects on humans is unknown at this time and more research is needed” while they completely ignore loads of historical data I have access to online.

The non-technical way I imagine endocrine disruptors working; DNA is chugging along in a cell that needs to divide (this is how children grow and how we repair problem cells and replace dead ones). So, the DNA is a great worker and is happily doing cell cycle work… and then a loud, excited toddler shows up and starts throwing a fit. The DNA will continue to work the best it can, but it’s super hard with that disruptor being so aggravating. Mistakes happen. Mistakes made in the cell cycle can lead to fetal death/deformities, and cancer, illness, and death throughout the population.

Endocrine disruptors have a special ability causing us major problems; the ability to build up in our bodies, known as ‘bioaccumulation.’ So, our community, exposed heavily in 1973, is still full of the stuff, which means we don’t have mild reactions to small exposures. This community can and will have more intense reactions with every single exposure. I think this is a good point to state that the chemicals listed for use tomorrow, May 8, 2018, are strong endocrine disruptors, whether diluted or not.  

Another metaphor (to keep the technical words at a minimum);

Imagine our bodies are a glass of water. If the glass is empty and nudged off balance there are few factors acting upon the ability to remain balanced after the nudge. Now we begin to fill the glass, one ounce at a time, and nudge it again after each ounce is added, always being careful to use the same force. It will no longer react as an empty glass, because there’s new and additional factors created from the sloshing water.  

Repeat this until the glass is full. At this point, observe a change in the ability to remain balanced after a nudge. When the glass is already full, yet has more water poured on top, the dribbles and spills will continue to occur,

Does it always spill out/over at the same spot?

Did the glass tip over completely?

Did the glass break when it fell over?

Following the glass of water metaphor, imagine each body of a long term area resident is the glass (our bodies) full of “water” (endocrine disruptors). “Full” means we are carrying around high concentrations of endocrine disruptors, which our DNA is constantly trying to ignore, but it’s just so annoying, which leaves the glass unbalanced. This imbalance means small water additions lead to mistakes happening daily in our DNA, leading to obesity, diabetes, arthritis pain/inflammation, decreased memory, etc. (We have been told for decades this is a result of bad decisions we’re making, don’t believe them!!! It’s totally the endocrine disruptors). The glass is full and a small amount of water is added on top of the full glass, if even just a teaspoon, the water spills out.

Just as the spill can happen at any point around the rim of the glass, the havoc created by the endocrine disruptors will spill out of our storage systems and the health changes we will notice are dependent on each of our bodies history (ie. epidemiology).

.Accumulators of Endocrine Disruptors

(high concentration storage locations)

Thyroid, Liver, Spleen, Lymph Nodes, Fatty Tissues, Breast Milk, Brain

So why am I so obsessing about an exposure that happened 25 years ago?

The endocrine disruptors pass from mother to infant, through the placenta and breast milk. This means each generation since 1973, has continued to be exposed, at minimum through breast milk, including  the children attending the school today. These children are still growing, which means they have many cell divisions ahead of them (ie chances for illness when the endocrine disruptors are present and added).

What other kind of problems/illnesses do endocrine disruptors cause in our body?

Let’s think about the glass of water again. Life experience gives us good idea of where the water will begin to spill over due to factors like gravity, the angle of the rim, and any physical deformities the rim of the glass had at the beginning of the experiment. We know it will not spill over the rim evenly, but at one or two locations. The same happens in our bodies, which means not all of our storage areas are going to show the problems every time we’re exposed. This also explains why the entire community does not suffer from the exact same health problems, even though we’re full of the same stuff. So, how do these “spills” show up (expressed) in our bodies?

Problems and Illnesses due to Endocrine Disruption

Obesity, hypo/hyperthyroid, confusion, memory loss, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, diabetes, MS, vision problems, slurred speech, exhaustion (needing 16+ hours of sleep), depression, anxiety, shame, blisters, acne, thickened hair growth, thickened skin (ingrown hairs), toenail abnormalities and infections, weakened bones (“Osteoporosis-like”), herpes (all kinds/locations), arthritis, breathing problems including asthma and sinus infections, migraines, lowered impulse control, severe sensitivity to light and sounds, eyelid swelling/puffiness, stye on eyelids, poor vision, muscle twitching/jerking/spasms, drooling (increased salivation), low blood pressure (“anemia-like”), high blood pressure, cancer of soft tissues and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, loss of appetite (anorexia/bulimia), stomach pains, ulcer like symptoms, vomiting, muscle weakness, slowed heart rate, shortness of breath, pee shivers from acid in the urine, incontinence, cyanosis (bluing of the skin and gums), large white area at base of nails, random intense aches throughout the body which pass quickly, unconsciousness, miscarriages, decreased body lengths of developing fetus, an increased incidence of delayed or absent bone formation in offspring (“Polio-like”), and the list can go on and on and on and on...  

If the above list hit home, you’re aware we’ve all suffered long enough and it’s time to start making large scale changes.

I do not write because I have simply read about these problems and I like to hear myself talk. I have lived with many of these problems in my body. I currently watch my friends and family spin through the ever-revolving door at Spectrum, suffering from the the effects of the numerous endocrine disruptors present in our day to day lives.  

I can no longer ignore our communities failing health.

I am making major changes to my families lifestyle to avoid these poisons, which in turns means my daughter, age 6, will not have to deal with constantly being re-exposed, week after week, meal after meal, for her entire lifetime.  

We always want better for our children.

Let’s not surround them with a chemical, known to make them sick.

I know “we’ve been doing this forever” but it doesn’t mean it’s safe or the morally responsible choice.

 

Questions:

  1. What time on Tuesday was this planned to happen?
  2. There are wind and rain restrictions for application, will this be considered before spreading?
  3. Where, specifically, are the pesticides being spread at the entrances?
  4. Is it possible to leave one entrance, at each school, uncontaminated for safe entry for 24 hours (the minimum time I believe should exist before ANYBODY comes near it, according to the chemicals’ half lives (ie LD50))?
  5. Are there reasons we can’t have broadleaf weeds on the property beside non-uniform grass presentation? I know we “find pride” in having a beautiful lawn, but is it not more important the school provide a SAFE environment, rather than a “visually appealing” experience?
  6. Will it be a job one person does?
  7. Since Tripower is regulated and not available to the general public, is the person doing the application properly qualified and fitted with an effective face mask?
  8. Is the person doing the application aware of the possible side effects to themself, the children, teachers, and administrators?
  9. Is the person doing the application aware of our communities health exposure sensitivities?
  10. Can the school buildings be advised, and subsequently announce a time to close the windows and doors during application? *I see the application, according to RC policies, will not be spread while students are in class. Is this something that Facilities Mgmt follows through on?
  11. Have the pregnant women of the school been informed (they should not come to work for 24 post application) exposure could lead to miscarriage, preterm birth, or low birth weights?
  12. Why is vinegar, known to kill the unattractive broadleaf weeds being targeted by this herbicide application, instead of the herbicides and pesticides?
  13. Who else do you recommend I contact regarding this issue?

 

In the past month, I attended a meeting where elder community members who remember when the PBB was added to our food chain, were discussing what happened then and what problems have happened since. In attendance was also Emory University, in charge of the Michigan’s PBB Registry and subsequent research (though the share almost none of their findings). The community members are still mad at the company which chose to deny it’s knowledge of the mistake in the first months. They also have little trust in the government, because it knowingly chose profits over people’s health by suppressing test results which confirmed the farmers’ suspicions. The sick folks (those still alive) were most disappointed by the employees of the feed mixing company. These employees were community members and had grown up alongside the farmers, the people ingesting the toxins. The employees chose to lie because their employer told them they had to deny it. Imagine, had one single employee, working in the company which spread the feed, chose to do the right thing and inform the farmers... the suffering that could have been avoided!!!

 

I live my life by the philosophy; “KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER.”

I like to imagine others live this way as well.

The feed company and its employees knew better and chose to turn a blind eye.

After reading this, you now know small exposures can have disastrous results in our community.

So now, I beg you to do better.  

Please refuse to spray these chemicals, as is scheduled, for Tuesday, May 8, 2018.

Please choose our community’s health and future over the assigned task.

Your community will support you. None of us care about the broadleaf weeds. However, the kids… they’re kind of special to us.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing back from each of you.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jennifer (Franklin) Newman

Newman’s Local PBB Report

RCHS 1999 Graduate

Parent of RC Kindergartener"

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