RIP Dorothy Earnest – part 1

My grandmother died on July 30th, 2012.

I learned this at 5:44 in the morning, when the buzzing in my ear turned into my phone ringing, and my phone ringing turned into my mother’s voice and my mother’s voice was careful and controlled and calm.

“Grandmom died 10 minutes ago.”

“Oh.”

My mom said more things to me that I do not remember.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“Yeah. I’m fine.” All I could think was: don’t fall back asleep. Listen. Grandmom is dead. Don’t fall back asleep.

My mom asked if I was okay, again.

“Nah. I’m fine.”

She said more things but when it sounded like she was done talking I said “I love you, Mom.”

“I love you too, honey.” She hung up and I told my wife what had happened.

I realized I wasn’t completely back asleep when I could hear my wife beating a soft metronome with her breaths. I was worried about work. My grandmother was dead and I was worried about work. I was really worried.

I didn’t want to. Go to work, that is. That day, that is. I also didn’t want to be worried about going to work. This is more important than that. Your parents need you. Your family needs you. What else do you have in this world? Well, what will they work on without you? At work, that is. Today, that is. If you don’t go in, that is. Especially with what’s been going on lately. Will they work? Family comes first. They’ll probably work. Should I go in? I don’t want to. My grandmother died. But what about work? That situation is tough. In this sleepy cycle of justification I lost sight of the fact that my grandmother, a woman who has had a beating heart for 90 years and 9 months, was dead. Her heart had stopped beating. Her brain no longer worked. Her kidneys stopped disposing of waste. Her liver stopped filtering blood. Her spleen stopped doing whatever spleens do. She had stopped breathing. The one way that I knew how to relate to her was gone, forever, when the breathing stopped.

I decided I wouldn’t go in to work when my first alarm went off.

I’ve always wanted to be in a war

I’ve always wanted to be in a war—
Is that the wrong thing to say?
I’ve always wanted to be in a war
At least one like I would play.

I’d be covered in glory,
Glamorous and gory,
Full of wonderful stories,
Beloved and entitled to V.A.

When Uncle Sam came calling
I’d put my ball in
And off to boot camp I’d sashay!
(And that’s okay now, I’d be quick to say).

Camaraderie! Brotherhood!
Oh, what a dream!
Three meals a day! Three types of cream!
One for my face and one for the pot
And then it’s me and the cream of the crop.
One by one, my fellow soldiers would drop
From exhaustion or drunkenness or too much fear
And me standing alone and the general near.

“Sir!” I reply, and smart as a whip,
With a salute, and a smile, and a manner that’s slick.
“Earnest!” he cries and he pumps my hand,
“I’ve been looking for you! We need such a man!”

He gives me my orders and off I dash
With two pistols, a rifle, and a knife safely stashed.
Somehow I end up behind enemy lines,
With a knife at my throat and my fingers entwined
With a beautiful spy, a double agent—both sides—
Who I’ve seduced and converted to mine.

She betrays me, it’s true.
“But I expected that of you! I had a plan along!”
With my battle cry said, and leaping from bed,
I shift the knife in a jiff. Then I hear the click
And the spitting pistol whiff
Of a gun going off at close range.

That’s how it always ends, again and again,
No matter what course I take.
I guess that’s the price that you pay for a war
When the war that you’re fighting is fake.

Go on a date!

See John.

See John go.

See John go on a date with his wife.

Go, John! Go!

Go to the movie, John. Watch the movie, John. Criticize the movie to your wife.

Criticize, John, criticize! Talk about what you could have done better! Talk, John, Talk.

Mention character arcs. Mention them! Mention them!

Forget you have not written anything in a month.

Write, John, write!

New Bible Translation: the New Heresy Edition

Have you ever been confused by a particular passage of the Bible? Or wondered if the “obvious” interpretation is the correct one? Have you ever had your individuality, your style, your way of life, your something-else-that-is-really-important-to-you-but-probably-not-that-important-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things, criticized by someone who “just” “doesn’t” “get” “it” – and by an author or a pastor who is just out of touch?

No? Do criticisms bounce off your self-assurance, your knowledge barrier, your superior intelligence, intellect, and ego?

Than (sic) have we got the Bible for you!

EarnestWords is proud to announce a new project product: the Bible, New Heresy Edition.

Of course, “heresy” is just a churchy word for “thinking “differently.” But guess who else thought differently? Well, yeah, Nahab and Abihu. But, also: Yeah. Jesus.

The New “Heresy” Study Edition of the New International Version cuts through the blather of centuries to deliver an alternative reading (or multiple alternative readings) of the Grand Old Book – with cutting commentary to allow you to challenge your secular friends and your church friends with time-ish truths.  Here’s just a sampling of the great ‘retranslations’ you can hope to read in the NHE:

New Heresy Edition Retranslations

John 3:16-18

NIV NHE
16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, the first created being, that whoever believes shall not perish but have eternal life.
17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him.
18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 18Whoever does not believe in him is okay, as long as they believe in something – and nihilism counts as belief. God’s one and only son – the first creation.

Commentary on John 3:16-18:

These verses are now more palatable to a modern, pluralistic society; we’ve also thrown a bone to our apologetically-inclined friends. We also tried to make Jesus Christ’s relationship to the Father much clearer than the metaphorical ambiguity of “begotten” and “one and only” used in “the Original Greek.”

I have tried to read “the Original Greek.” I have no idea what it means, but it looks like this:

οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλ’ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

What does that even mean? I will try to steer clear of “the Original Greek” as much as possible. Also, I don’t even know Greek – and have no intention of learning Greek. Why would I need to learn it, anyway? Jesus spoke English.

James 1:2-7

NIV NHE
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 2Consider it joy, people, whenever you face any trials at all
3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 3because trials are always good and they show that you have faith.
4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 4And it’s really important to have faith –
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 5AND HAVE IT ALL THE TIME.
6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 6IF YOU DOUBT AT ALL, YOU NEED TO GO PRAY AND IF YOU PRAY POORLY:
7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 7 “NO WISDOM FOR YOU! THREE DAYS! ”

Commentary on James 1:2-7

As Jesus said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” James was also, apparently, a Seinfeld fan!

James added in tons of unnecessary words to this last set of verses, when the obvious message is that you are never to ever doubt anything at all. And if you doubt, you need to pray. If you keep on doubting, pray better.

All that stuff about “letting perseverance finish its work” and God giving wisdom to those who are suffering trials doubting, if they ask for it — that’s kind of complicated and a little difficult. I mean, am I supposed to believe that the people who follow every passing fad can expect to receive anything from the Lord? Of course they can expect to receive anything they want – as long as they believe it hard enough!

(That’s a cross-reference to 4 John 526:4328, a bonus book included in this version of the NHE for only $1,000,000).


Stay tuned as we show you what the Bible might really mean – because no one can no for sure!

Truthful Worship Songs: Holy is the Lord God Almighty

“Christians don’t tell lies — they just go to church and sing them” – A.W. Tozer

Why do so many worship songs call on Christians to sing things that aren’t true? Case in point, from Chris Tomlin’s Holy is the Lord:

We stand and lift up our hands
For the joy of the Lord is our strength
We bow down and worship Him now
How great, how awesome is He

Full lyrics

Has anyone ever seen anyone else bow down during this song? No? That’s a gruesome irony. Apparently, He is not holy enough for people to bow down. Making the bowing down a metaphor isn’t much better. God is metaphorically great?

I’ve made some gentle changes to this song to make worship more accurate. I also added some punctuation to keep me from going mad. Some things don’t fit but don’t you think it’s better not to sing lies?

Most stand and some lift their hands
For the joy of the Lord is our strength.
God is great;
We worship Him now.
How great, how awesome is He?

“He’s great!”
Together we sing.
Even the guys humming – that counts!

[Chorus]
Holy is the Lord God Almighty
The earth is filled with His glory.
Holy is the Lord God Almighty
The earth is filled with His glory.
The earth is filled with His glory.

Most stand and some lift their hands
For the joy of the Lord is our strength.
Those who can’t stand, they worship Him now.
How great, how awesome is He?

And together we sing.
Everyone sing
Even the guy in the back! Please!

[Chorus]
Holy is the Lord God Almighty
The earth is filled with His glory
Holy is the Lord God Almighty
The earth is filled with His glory
The earth is filled with His glory

It’s rising up all around
It’s the anthem of the Lord’s renown
Repeat

And together we sing,
Everyone sing
Or you can just listen

[Chorus]

Holy, Holy, is the Lord Almighty
Holy, Holy
[Repeat 2x]

If you’ve got another worship song with lyrics that need adjustment for accurate worship, let me know. I’m on the case.

Terry Pratchett’s Snuff: A Short Review

First, a review within a review: My wife got me a kindle for Christmas. I have been skeptical of the kindle – because I have never had one before. I now have one. It is a novel way to read; the real advantage is that there are hundreds of books that I can borrow for free (1. because I have Amazon Prime, again via my wonderful wife, and 2. because there are many excellent books in the public domain). My free book for December is Guns, Germs, and Steel. I will try to review it when I am done with it.

So, a kindle is valuable to me in that I have access to several million titles for $150 (the price of my version, obtained via Google) from anywhere with 3G access. I can carry one item, with these 5 bazillion titles, and write notes about interesting items of text, such as Deuteronomy 20:19-201:

When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human, that they should be besieged by you? Only the trees that you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, that you may build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it falls. (ESV)

So, when you are Jewish and besieging a city, don’t cut down fruit trees because “trees are not people and you are not at war with them.” I wonder if C.S. Lewis was considering this passage, among others, when he was writing The Magician’s Nephew. Anyway, I found it extremely interesting and read it this morning on my kindle – I just wanted to share. Tomorrow morning, I will read the next chapter in Deuteronomy and learn the specific applications of Jewish law when it comes to Atonement for Unsolved Murders and Marrying Female Captives.

Anyway, end review within a review. Here’s my take on Snuff.

Terry Pratchett’s new book, Snuff, is good – it’s written by Terry Pratchett, so it should be good. However, I have the same problem with it that I had with Unseen Academicals, his previous new book: I had trouble following it.

I always understood what was going on, plot-wise, but there were a few moments in both Unseen Academicals and Snuff where I felt disoriented. Everything was mapped but there were some big spaces left unfilled by helpful drawings of dragons or medusae or mermaids. It was like the CD had skipped a couple times.

For the most part, Snuff was very very very good. Snuff deals with prejudice and humanity and definitions of humanity and Sam Vimes. There is a crime that is solved. There is a very brutal villain that Sam Vimes puts away neatly. There were some humorous moments, although the Night Watch novels have changed from laugh-out-loud funny to very intense, meticulously plotted detective novels with satire that is trying to branch out from ridicule to new material. I also became very angry at how difficult it was to select and read footnotes on a kindle touch but that is not the author’s fault. That is probably my fault for using a kindle to read an author who uses footnotes extensively2.

Anyway, Snuff was a good book and the fact that none of the characters faced any kind of developed crisis was a minor pratfall. Or at least, it would be minor if this weren’t Terry Pratchett, the author who regularly has the anthropomorphic personification of Death decide to become a farmer, who has a major character allow herself to be eaten by vampires3 because nothing else allows her to achieve victory, who has a major character who has to deal with rage, a drinking problem, self-loathing, and his own prejudices. In Snuff, none of the fictional characters changed in a meaningful way. The Night Watch novels have a habit of forcing people to confront their own prejudice, usually via the noble and sympathetic and prejudiced brain of Sam Vimes.

Usually, Pratchett uses literary and fantasy tropes to effect this change in the characters. In the previous Night Watch novel, Thud!, Pratchett has an alien entity attack Sam Vimes psyche, ostensibly causing him to break out into uncharacteristic outbursts of rage. Obviously, this speaks to the very human need to blame our faults on something, anything else. And here’s Sam Vimes with something that he can blame.

But he doesn’t. He already has rage in abundance. And how much is the alien entity, anyway? He’s just able to keep control but only because there are other people who watch him and prevent him from acting (which severely complicates some of Sam Vimes’ own rationalizations, because Sam Vimes operates under the heavy burden of being his own authority). He keeps control. Just barely.

Contrast this with Snuff. Sam Vimes can see in the dark and talks to the Summoning Dark, that same alien entity that is now his friend and gives him a witness statement to a crime. The fun of the fantasy detective novels that Pratchett produces is that they don’t have this deus ex machina.

I am not sure what Vimes’ character arc was, which disappointed me because Sam Vimes is one of my favorite characters. In this novel, Sam Vimes doesn’t even get hurt. He is never in peril. Even the guy that attacks his child doesn’t get beaten to death or even threatened by a deranged Sam Vimes; instead, the villain gets a chummy “You are thick, aren’t you, buddy?” speech from Sam Vimes, which is used in several other places en lieu of demonstrative and characterizing exposition.

Additionally, the book does not have an established villain. Pratchett uses psychopaths as villains because they represent the depth of human evil. But this novel’s psychopath is very poorly portrayed. It’s almost as if Pratchett was going for a sparing vision of a Hitchcock-ian, periodic-fleeting-glimpse-of-the-monster entity, only he forgot to show the villain at all.

Finally, I wasn’t sure what Pratchett was satirizing. The wholesale butchery and dehumanization of Goblins would have been very sad if it were better shown – but I felt like I was missing something. Also, Pratchett usually creates some aspect of sympathy about his villains, which was lacking in this novel.

In general, this story felt told and not shown. That said – it’s still a Terry Pratchett Discworld novel, which means it is told better than just about everything else out there. It’s a much nicer read than Guns, Germs, and Steel. It’s just sad that Snuff wasn’t as good as Thud!.


1 Well, if I actually wrote notes in books.

2 I also secretly hope that the kindle was what was making the story difficult to follow.

3 These are vampires before Twilight. You know, the original kind.

Educational Christmas Songs

Alternative Lyrics to Winter Wonderland:

Later on, we’ll conspire
As we dream by the fire,
although conspiracy
nets equal penalty
under US code Title 18

In the meadow we can build a snow man
And pretend that he’s a circus clown
We’ll have lots of fun with Mr. Snowman
Until the city permit office comes around.

or

Until Global Warming melts him down

or

Until the other kids knock him down

Upon which, our lawyers will sue
Legally for battery and bruise
upon on our pysche
and then they will see
you must respect personal property

or

until the legal landowner comes around

Alternative Lyrics to The Christmas Song

coming soon!

Butterfly

Butterfly with Broken Wings
I was waiting for the train yesterday when I looked down and saw a butterfly. This butterfly had blue and red and yellow and orange spots. And it was sunning itself on the ground — or so I thought.

I wanted to see the butterfly fly, so I tried to startle it into the air. Instead of floating like a neon leaf, the butterfly flopped onto its side, flopped onto its other side, and limped along for a few inches. Then it resumed sunning itself and sighed.

I looked closer.

The butterfly’s wings had slipped – that’s really the only way I can think of describing it. The bottom wing was on top of the top wing. The butterfly was also missing 2 legs.

I cupped the pathetic thing in my hand (it fluttered ineffectually). If I pushed the wing like this… there. Fixed.

The butterfly, distressed that I had touched it (I seem to remember someone at the Wild Animal Park screaming at me for touching one once), skeddaddled (well, as much as a butterfly can skedaddle).

It fluttered away and then crashed. Fluttered again and crashed. And again. And again, moving slowly higher each time. Despite the psychotic loop-the-loops, painful wing flaps, and even more painful crashes (I assume, I do not speak Butterfly), it was gaining altitude.

Two feet. Thud.

Two and a half feet. Thud.

Three. Thud.

And right when I was thinking that this butterfly could be a powerful metaphor for perseverance, a bittersweet vignette about hope and pain and suffering and God and doctors and the perils of being a fragile insect, a bus pulled into the train station parking lot and crushed the butterfly.

I don’t like Diablo 3

I am sorry to post something under that title (mostly sorry to Chason, who is a major Diablo fan) but I keep getting spammy comments from a Diablo 3 website.

I get so excited to see that I have 7 comments, only to cry because all the comments are spam.

But, as my wife says, welcome to the websites.

Yeah Yeah (La Mesa Anthem)

La Mesa - A City 'Deserving' An Anthem
La Mesa – A City ‘Deserving’ An Anthem. Original from the La Mesa Centennial.

I thought up this little ditty while walking to work today. This is a tribute to the great work done by the San Diego recording trio Public Eye, inspired by their tribute to East County. This one’s for you, Silly D.

The song is in the ‘planning stages’ still and ‘has some work to be done,’ but I’ll be sure to let you know when it ‘gets recorded.’1

Yeah Yeah (La Mesa Anthem) ft. Silly D

Chorus:
Yeah Yeah
We’re in La Mesa
Yeah Yeah
This is our town
Yeah Yeah
We’re in La Mesa
So lose that frown

Verse 1:
[RAP INTERLUDE BY SILLY D. Probably about the ‘mean streets,’ etc.]

Chorus:
Yeah Yeah
We’re in La Mesa
Yeah Yeah
This is our town
Yeah Yeah
We’re in La Mesa
So lose that frown

Verse:
La Mesa
Is a San Diego suburb
La Mesa
[La Mesa Demographic info/make up here]
La Mesa
Is not El Cajon

Bridge:
It’s a little city
All of its own

Chorus:
Yeah Yeah
We’re in La Mesa
Yeah Yeah
This is our town
Yeah Yeah
We’re in La Mesa
So lose that frown

Verse 3 [RAP]
La Mesa
Is not Chula Vista
La Mesa
Is also not the other Vista
La Mesa
Is not Lemon Grove
La Mesa is a treasure trove
La Mesa is not Santee or Julian
La Mesa is not El Cajon

Bridge (belt):
It’s a little city
All of its own

Yeah Yeah
Yeah Yeah
Yeah Yeah


1 Quotes indicate ‘industry terms.’