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Fifteen adults and ten kids filled the house of my friends and long time fellow Pigfesters for a Pigfest of their own this weekend.  There was a craft project (pig masks) for the kids, and plenty of farm-fare for our feast.  Lasting about four hours total, we covered five full-length debates and two miniature ones (something introduced last year at the Pigfest of June 2010).  The three guests who had never before participated in a Pigfest all jumped in with the appropriate gusto.

 

The so-named “Great Commission” applies only to the 11 original apostles, and as it is poor hermeneutics to force its expansion to all Christians, we ought to demote its greatness.  (Mark 16:14-18) was read.  Evangelism would still not be out of order, but it is not – as is commonly preached to believers – commanded to everyone.  “Those who believe” in Mark’s account of Jesus’ final command would then refer not to all who are likewise preaching the gospel, but to those who have received the apostles’ message with faith (certain signs are predicted to “follow those who believe.”)  Both Matthew and Mark specify that Jesus was speaking to the eleven apostles when He gave the commission.  Did Jesus expect only those eleven men to reach the whole world, as the commission instructs?  The biblical concept of “whole world” could have meant merely Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles (everyone else).  Also it could have meant the known world – evidence is that Paul (an apostle who was not one of the eleven) was seeking to take the gospel to Spain because it was one of the ends of the earth.  Christians with callings besides evangelism are not failing when they don’t preach the gospel, if this commission does not apply to them.  Are we exalting the command we’ve appropriated and exaggerated over other commands or callings?  Did the “Great Commission” apply to Matthias, who was selected to return the number of apostles to twelve; and if so, does that mean the command and promises applies to all who, by authority of or recognition by the original apostles, succeed them – or even to all who have the calling or gifting to apostleship?  Does not the command itself, to make disciples, indicate that the converts are to become like the apostles and thus inherit their mission?  When Jesus says “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you,” is this very instruction exempt?  Essentially, whatever is preached today in evangelism is the apostles’ very teachings (or at least those recorded in Scripture) so that in a way it is still those men who are being used by God to fulfill this commission.

 

Fathers should work outside the home, because it is more efficient.  Not all dads, though, are inefficient working in the home.  Different occupations and different house layouts and different family styles would change the efficiency of working from home.  For example, working at home would function better if the work was done in the downstairs shop or in the smithy across the yard or the fields behind the house.  If women and children would leave the men alone while they’re working, instead of taking advantage of their presence as though the men had nothing else to do, more work could be done.  However, women have much work to do around the house that they manage to get done despite the presence of children – and, where applicable, of husbands (who sometimes by their proximity can cause as much distraction and hindrance as children).  When men are home they have the advantage of not missing out on their families.  If some milestone is reached, he can witness it or participate in it.  But he would be sacrificing socialization with other workers, other fathers and husbands, that he would typically get at work.  Also the possibility of distraction – and distance from the other people working on the same project or employing the man – does make his work less efficient.  There is value in kids seeing dad work.  Are they going to be brought “out of the home” to witness that – or even to participate in it?  It seems to be assumed that more is better in time spent with family, but there can be a limit reached after which it is healthier for the family relationships for each member to get out, to be around other people who have nothing to do with their family.  Working outside the home is an opportunity for that.  (It was interjected that the same could apply to women, needing breaks, and a weekly activity like MOPS was suggested – though that usually involves considerably less time away from the family than a man’s career would.  Maybe men should get out of the house only once a week, like the women?)  It is a concern that the children of men working from home are getting used to an unrealistic world that will not always be available to them (Mommy and Daddy won’t always be around to give them attention and help, and it is not likely they will be able to find jobs with such flexibility to allow them to be home with their families most of the time either.)  Agrarian societies are more ideal, a blend of working as a family and having access to home but also getting out of the domestic environment.  Are we going to revolutionize society back to a work structure that would be more ideal?  Is it worth it to try to live like agrarians when the jobs we have are technology- and information- based?  How much does the marriage relationship of wife as helper apply to a husband’s work?  Could he benefit from having his wife’s help in his work?  Or is the wife’s help limited to raising the kids and keeping the house for him?  Can she help him with his job once he comes home from an away job?  Fathers are given the responsibility of teaching their children, and being at home more often is the best way to do that.  They can also, then, emotionally support their wives who would be crazy being home alone with young children so much.

 

5 Minutes:

We should stockpile chocolate for trading during hyper-inflation emergencies, rather than precious metals.  Chocolate would be difficult to store and transport since it melts.  Are higher chocolate concentrations better, like gold over silver?  (You can always add milk and sugar later, right?)  Maybe we shouldn’t bother, because if hyper-inflation comes, we’ll all be in big trouble and won’t be able to protect our stockpile.  So perhaps it would be better to invest in a non-precious metal: lead, like John Wayne.  It would be tempting to eat your chocolate currency yourself.  Then again, this could be seen as an advantage.  This trade good, unlike precious metals, is useful for something.  It has some nutritional value: protein, iron, sugars – along with being an aphrodisiac.  As people consume the chocolate, the amounts remaining become increasingly valuable.  Now is a good time to pursue a chocolate investment as the world’s chocolate supply is being threatened by war in Libya (one of the world’s largest chocolate producers).  It could be to our advantage to employ a community effort to invest in chocolate, choosing carefully who is to be in charge of “loss prevention.”  As a short-term measure, which is unlikely for a hyper-inflation scenario, it might actually work.

 

Practical Christianity is more important for knowing (pleasing and trusting) God than reading Scripture for oneself.  For most of history 75 percent of the Christian world has been illiterate, so this is the only reasonable conclusion.  Examples of practical Christianity are: the sacraments (including penance/confession of sin, baptism, communion, confirmation/laying on of hands and praying for a believer to receive the Holy Spirit, marriage, praying for the sick, holy orders including Christian ministry and missions and monasticism), evangelism, testimony/sharing what Christ has done for us, oral Scripture reading/hearing, almsgiving, listening to God, rest in Christ/finding out what it means that Christ fulfills the Sabbath for us, peace-making/judging disputes.  Also suggested was James’ instruction to care for widows and orphans.  If someone is able to read, reading Scripture is the most important way to know about God.  What about pleasing Him or trusting Him?  Life experiences or examples leave us all to assumptions about the character of God, and to doubts when faced with discouraging events – lacking the assurance of a clear description of God from the Bible.  People with different experiences from one another could wind up believing in a different God.  We also run the risk of worshiping traditions, the rituals of the religion (similar to pagan religions), and our own works rather than worshiping a worthy God.  What differentiates us from the other religions is the revelation of God in His book.  But are we equating reading Scripture with understanding God?  Who is to say that by reading we get an accurate interpretation or comprehension?  The disciples were recognized as unschooled men whose power came because they had been with Jesus.  Perhaps the most important thing is to spend time with Christ – but how is that done?  Christians have always had access to some Scripture (even if it was only passages different members had memorized).  Originally most Christians had a familiarity with the Old Testament, at least.  In the Old Testament, Israel was commanded to write the words of God in prominent places where it would always be in their way, so God must have seen it as important.  David also highly valued his ability to “meditate” on the Law or the word of God.  When the temple was finished, this great practical work of faith, it was culminated with the reading of Scripture, with reminding the people of the precept-style truths.  Public reading could substitute for private reading in most of these instances.  Scripture itself tells us to do what we hear.  But how do we know what to do if we don’t read Scripture?  So certainly personal Bible reading comes first.  Do we feel like we can get all we need to please God by private reading – as personal as Christianity is – so that we are missing out on better ways (taking advantage of the community, the Church, that God has given us)?  To know God you have to heed His word.  Scripture has been written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit so that God is not limited to what we have read in the Bible to guide us for our daily lives or to reveal Himself to us.  The Bible says “Don’t be ignorant” four times: spiritual gifts, the return of Christ, and two other things – possibly one of them is Scripture?  (Addendum: List of verses about not being ignorant, in addition to 1 Corinthians 12:1 )

 

5 minutes:

Unicorns have existed, will exist, and appear throughout the Bible.  Scriptures in Numbers, Job, Psalms, the prophets (esp. Isaiah), and Deuteronomy use a unique Hebrew word translated in the King James as “unicorn.”  It may not mean the mythical beast we think of: a horse with wings and a horn and magical powers, but it does not mean “wild ox” as other versions translate it, including NKJV.  The very context rules out an “ox” interpretation.  Also there are 7 other words that actually refer to oxen; the Old Testament authors weren’t lacking such a word to use; they obviously meant something else.  What did they mean?  When the Western (Christian) world first encountered rhinos in Africa, they called them unicorns because of the single horn on a rhinoceros’ nose.  Also we have discovered fossils of extinct deer with one horn on the head.  However, a deer would not likely be strong enough to fit the Bible’s descriptions.  On the other hand, one of the passages describes the unicorn as “skipping,” an unlikely activity for rhinos.  Usually the animal is associated with strength and not being able to be tamed for domestic purposes like plowing.  Isaiah’s mention of unicorns is in an as yet unfulfilled prophecy, so unicorns, whatever they are, must also exist in the future.  (Addendum: Blue Letter Bible entry for the word “unicorn” including occurrences and Hebrew dictionary  This scene from The Gods Must Be Crazy was also referenced. )

 

Scripture is what has been traditionally and historically what the people of God have accepted as Scripture, not what the authors originally wrote.  (Example the passage in John 8 that “earliest and most reliable manuscripts” do not contain would be considered Scripture.)  The miraculous preservation of Scripture has been a doctrine taught by the Church and used as a defense of the authority of the Bible.  Basically it is taught that God has guarded the Bible, the words He wanted His church to have, throughout the centuries.  How long does something have to be unchanged or accepted in order to count as “preserved”?  Are we talking about translations, too, or texts based on the translations – especially the Septuagint?  If preservation is God’s miraculous way, and He intended for us to accept as Scripture the books as originally written, why didn’t God preserve the original manuscripts themselves?  Does this proposition increase the necessity of historical analysis – or decrease – and what does that say about the centuries of people who did not have access to the archaeological information we are uncovering today?  Is the preservation doctrine even biblical?  “Not one jot or tittle will pass away.”  It seems historical that there has been a miraculous preservation of the Bible – compare to Homer or even Shakespeare.  Isn’t a changed text, as the resolution suggests has happened, evidence against preservation having fully happened?  Are we allowed to start “affirming” or “accepting” some new parts to books or entirely new books now?  The original process of canonization included checking for authorship of passages.  But the number one rule was “Has it been accepted by the Church as Scripture?”  The texts we have received have been the Byzantine versions because they were more organized about copying and spreading their texts.

 

Due to the amount of corruption in our current government system, we should exploit technology to make representatives accountable.  Democracy is possible, not too unwieldy, with technology today.  All citizens could have a voice in the way they want their representatives to vote if we set up some computerized system for tallying input.  Then if congressmen and senators do not follow the will of their constituents, we could vote them out of office next term.  The object would also be to reduce the influence of lobbyists: the loud minority.  Apathy, now and after a technological system is established, would be at least as great a problem as corruption.  But perhaps people would be less apathetic if they were given new hope that their voice mattered.  As the system stands today, to have any impact we the little people would have to start at the lower levels of primaries – it is very unlikely that the candidate that we really want is making it to the full election, and then who wants to vote for the lesser or slower of two evils?  Technology could make it easier to participate in small ways, easing citizens into involvement.  Most people who are eligible to vote shouldn’t, because the bills being considered – even if they were read in their hundreds of pages entirety – are too complicated to be comprehensible to the layperson.  In a more accountable, participation-oriented system, the bills would be necessarily written in the language of the citizen, which could be a huge advantage.  But most people who can vote shouldn’t because people are selfish, and a more democratic system like this being proposed would turn into a war of personal interests rather than the representative ideal of good men making decisions for the common good, seeing the big picture.  Technology could potentially eliminate the party system by giving voters more access to information about candidates.  Then we could vote based on character, actions, and positions instead of on affiliation.  However the party system does make the election process less cumbersome.  It is assumed that candidates identifying themselves with a certain party adhere to its platform positions on issues.  Also rather than going through each of a thousand candidates, you can seek for the ones in the party that most represents you – although we may need more than two parties to accomplish that.  However, if your attempt is to defeat the lobbyists, even in a technological system like this, they can be louder than the majority because they will participate whereas the average man still doesn’t think it’s worth it.  The way to stop lobbyists is to make it criminal for a citizen not to vote.  We could still use the technology to inform the legislators of the ideas and opinions of those whom they represent – but not in a way so directly affecting voting.  And the communication could go both ways fairly easily.  Christians are becoming a minority voice, similar to lobbyists.  If we empower the majority, what risks will that have for us and our children?  Persecution strengthens individual faith and the Church as a whole.  But should we pursue persecution, vote it into being?  Even increasing the voice of the people won’t fix corruption because the majority will be wicked, or tends to be.  And every vote continues the slide away from righteousness.  Monarchy, as archaic as it sounds, has the best chance of a truly righteous government (though you run the risk of occasional or even frequent tyrannical rulers as well) because while the whole people will very likely never be God-fearing, one king here and there might.

 

Also suggested, though not debated:

Caffeine and alcohol ought to be regulated, only consumed by prescription.

 

People don’t say what they mean, either, so you don’t know any more about them than you do about a dog’s dream. (quote from Get Low)

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Pigfests are amazing.  In my experience it involves people piling into my living room and kitchen, laden with food, ready to talk and encourage and challenge each other.  A few people bring Bibles.  Sitting out on tabletops are dictionaries and concordances.  There is pen and paper.  We open all the windows and turn on the fans.  But energy fills the room, and things heat up.  Sometimes we hit topics that are very emotional, and participants have to take a deep breath.  At one point a person will jump in and say his part.  At others, he’ll sit patiently with his hand up.  When speakers get really excited, they pull their feet up on the couch to get taller, or stand, or gesture.  A few babies and small children crawl around from eager arms to smiling friend to Mom.

Conversation as is experienced at a Pigfest is stimulating and fun.  You get to know a person.  Then they throw you by playing Devil’s Advocate.  Some contributions for debate are questions; the contributor hasn’t decided what he thinks, but wants other people to help him explore the topic.  Others are playful, interested in getting people to think about an obscure idea they never would have considered otherwise.  We have had responsive resolutions: answering and often objecting to events or decisions in world affairs or the lives of their friends.  Probably the most common version of a proposal in a Pigfest is of the soap box variety.  A contributor has an belief they want to persuade everyone to share.

This weekend there was a Pigfest at my house.  It was well-attended (23 debaters and a few children).  Only one person had never experienced a Pigfest before.  Everyone else is essentially a “regular.”  That’s changing, as things in life tend to do.  One is getting married and moving away.  Two are moving to Bangladesh.  Two are going on a six month mission trip to South Africa.  One is moving to Iowa.  And who knows what other changes are in store.  But with dispersion comes the potential for the phenomenon to spread!

We managed 7 Debates in 3 Hours.  Each debate being 15 minutes long, we could hypothetically fit more in.  But there must be time for eating, for socializing, for breaks after heated discussions, for summaries.  Pigfests, after all, are about more than the debate segments.  This, the seventh Pigfest I have experienced, witnessed a new invention: the 2 minute debate.  While others were building courage to present their resolutions, or fine-tuning their wording, we did a playful and quick 2 minute discussion of a shorter topic (well…).  During a later break we also enjoyed an enthusiastic discussion of a new type of fan as seen on TV.

In the end very few people went home alone.  Friends clustered and gathered and ran in the rain, ordered pizza, went to church, hung out till all hours.  And I have no doubt people’s brains are still swimming in the opinions and information and questions introduced during the party.  For my part, my brain is turned on for debating only, and I have been rather scatterbrained about other things ever since.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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I called this edition Pigfest on the Roof, and nominally themed it off of Fiddler on the Roof, inviting people to bring a traditional side dish or dessert for the feast.  But we did not meet on the roof.  Instead, we crammed 21 adults and 7 children into my living room, kitchen, and hallway.  I thought about taking pictures this time, but I am simply not that organized!

In the 3 hours we met, the Pigfesters engaged in seven separate debates.  Everyone behaved very well, which made moderating rather easier.  The topics were interesting and well-engaged.

  1. Because the government is anti-God and immoral, it would be immoral to pay taxes. Jesus said to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.  But what is Caesar’s?  To how much was Caesar entitled?  When the sitting executive’s face is not on our coin, as it was in Jesus’ day, is it still to be rendered to him?  Does our personal judgment determine the justice of a tax?  Is the income tax even legal?  Is it rather unconstitutional?  But the resolution was giving moral reasons for refusing to pay taxes, not legal ones.  Must Christians submit to immoral governments?  Is doing something morally wrong in the name of submission ok?  In the Bible, children were wiped out with their fathers for the sin of the father, but we see no mention of justification because they were just doing what their fathers instructed.  Do the layers of responsibility in the government protect us from culpability?  That is, by paying taxes, are we not simply enabling the government to make good choices?  That they make bad choices is a potential consequence of our trust.  But, we are in a democracy where we the people choose our government.  Some of our taxes do go to moral things, like roads.  It was suggested that we look at the federal budget and deduct from our income tax a corresponding percentage to that which the government spends on immoral activities, and to enclose a letter of explanation.  There is a doctrine of Lesser Magistrates, which discusses the conflict between obeying contradicting authorities or whether citizens are required to submit to authorities not established by the higher authority (in this case, the US Constitution).  Jesus paid his taxes (the story of the coin in the fish).
  2. Men have no biblical responsibilities towards their families. Paul had to have been married, so it is possible he abandoned his wife for the call of God.  (This was highly debated.)  If a man does not provide for his own family, he is worse than an infidel – the Bible.  A husband is to love his wife as himself, which often includes caring for her needs.  At this point, the contributor of the resolution conceded that the Bible did have some responsibilities listed for men towards their families, so the debate shifted to what they are:  What is the definition of men?  It includes fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers.  Brothers were commanded in the Mosaic Law to take their sister-in-laws as wife if they were barren widows (law of the kinsman-redeemer).  Lot is an example of a man whom we do not, in our culture, consider to have been a good father.  He offered his daughters to the lustful crowd – and what’s up with that?  But, was he a jerk, or was he righteous?  Scripture is often addressed to fathers, which seems to be significant.  Some of the sons of Jacob slaughtered a city to avenge their sister’s rape.  Is that a responsibility?  God is presented as a Father.  Are we not to imitate Him?  Does God have any obligations to His children?  Obligations (and by implication, responsibilities) have to do with consequences.  When God takes an action, he is responsible for the consequences, and thus obligated to abide those consequences…  Likewise, a man is obligated to deal with the child he has if his wife conceives.  God’s fatherhood is often demonstrated in punishment.  But He is also merciful.  Are fathers, therefore, required to imitate God’s grace as well as His chastising?  Whence comes the impulse to provide and protect?  If not from the Bible, and if not from the character of God, then where?
  3. America has gotten worse since the Women’s Liberation movement. Worse was described as moral deterioration: divorce, abortion, crime.  And the women’s liberation movement was specified as that movement that rose in the 60’s and focused on equal opportunity, women leaving the home for the workplace, and sexual liberation.  Perhaps it is not the actual liberating of women that caused the moral decline, but the attitude women took.  Are we talking about a cause of moral decline, or is the women’s liberation movement yet another symptom of a larger rebellion.  It was a rebellion against God.  “We hate men” was not the origin of the movement, but rather, World War II empowered women when men were unable to work the factories and women left the home to take up those responsibilities.  Or perhaps women’s lib. started with suffrage.  Are not all created equal, even male and female?  Does that not apply to roles?  The real wickedness of the feminist mindset is not, “We hate men,” but “We hate God.”  For they are rebelling against God’s created order.  Perhaps women, though, were not the instigators.  Maybe men abusing their authority, really oppressing them (for example, physical violence) caused women to assert themselves.  What does this subject matter today?  Abortion is going on today, and is horribly unjust to fathers.  They have no legal right to stay the murder of their own child.  A result of the women’s liberation movement is that men were not allowed to be men, and so have abdicated their roles.  But shouldn’t men have stood up against the women’s liberation movement and defended the God-given order?  Those who did were slandered.  Really, emasculation is a result of the Fall and the Curse, when God told Eve that her desire would be for her husband, it is the terminology of desiring to be “over” her husband, just like sin “got the better of” Cain.  Women today do appreciate their liberties, without wicked motives, and make good use of them (women doing missions without their families).  The Christian worldview has been proclaimed as the kindest to women.  Are we kind to women to fight for equality in the area of sexual promiscuity?  Should we not have fought for equality the other way, of neither men’s nor women’s promiscuity being acceptable?  Even though we may disagree with the movement, we can use the women’s liberties today for good: a woman who doesn’t believe women should have the vote can choose to submit her vote to her husband’s views.  The movement is continuing even today, but is evolving, and so is not necessarily from the same motives as the feminists had in the 60’s.
  4. Sharing is unnecessary and not biblically supported. Sharing is defined as co-ownership, especially as opposed to lending.  The distinction between (and comparative value of) giving and sharing was a theme throughout the debate.  Are we saying that taking turns is unnecessary?  When a child’s friend comes over to play, what is the host child to do?  Should he keep his toys to himself?  Or – perhaps he should truly give the toy, not expecting it back.  Sharing is looking out for other’s interests, putting others ahead of yourself.  [Ownership] rights are unbiblical.  We put so much emphasis on our rights, but God calls us to give up our rights.  Christians are told to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Is there a difference morally between offering to share with someone else, and requesting that someone else share with you?  Sharing may be unnecessary when giving is an option.  But to whom are we to give?  How much?  Sharing makes life better and more efficient.  Instead of buying a toy for each child in a family, they can share one toy.  Sometimes there is no money to buy for each individual what they need, but they can have what they need if they all share one.  How is hospitality done if not by sharing?  God owns everything anyway; none of this property is really ours.  God made us stewards, and we are to exercise wisdom and discernment in how best to use what He has entrusted to us.
  5. God withholds because we do not ask. If we are obedient to God, then we abide in God’s love, and God does what we ask.  When we walk with God, He gives us the desires of our hearts.  The Bible encourages us to entreat God – even to the point of nagging Him.  How does God’s sovereignty fit into the equation?  Is God really dependent on our actions?  God gives some good gifts without prayer (common grace: rain falls on just and unjust; and special grace to Christians, but without us asking).  When the Spirit intercedes for our weakness, what if our weakness is that we don’t ask for the right things?  Can He bridge that gap?  Generally that verse is not interpreted as praying for us when we are not praying, but interceding for us as we pray.  God changes His mind when people act or plead with Him.  Either God lies or He changes His mind, for he told Moses that He would destroy Israel, and then God didn’t.  If our children acted that way, we would punish them…  It seems best to act as though what we do and pray matters, regardless of what we believe about the sovereignty of God.  Daniel knew God’s prophecy that He would do something at a certain time, but Daniel still prayed for it to happen.  Is God’s plan allowed to be malleable?  If not for that, could we have this redemption story: God creates the world perfect, but man sins, so God gets to demonstrate His lovingkindness by sending His only Son to die for us.  Or did God plan it that way all along?  Isn’t consistency an attribute of God?  Maybe God must only be consistent within His character (for example, mercy).
  6. Ownership for the sake of hospitality is the best kind of stuff and the best kind of ownership. Best is defined as optimal, in the short term and/or in the long term.  People are not equivalent to “stuff.”  The other reason to have a lot of stuff is to be like a dragon, hoarding riches and laying on them because they bring pleasure to you individually.  Are families included in hospitality?  If you own something for the purpose of benefiting others who are in your family, is that still the best kind?  There is this trend toward larger and larger master bedrooms, which serves no hospitable purpose, but often detracts from available space for hospitality towards others.  Hospitality, though, is an attitude, and can be demonstrated without stuff.  Should we buy a lot of stuff to be hugely hospitable?  There is a difference between purchasing stuff for the sake of hospitality and making hospitable use of stuff bought for other reasons.  This resolution did not address the inherent value of the property in question (ought we to be hospitable with our Play Station?), but rather, with the motive in possessing it.  Hospitality enables relationships.  Maybe a better kind of ownership would be for God’s call: some people need their own space to refresh in order to do what God has called them to do.  If it is impossible to share without making yourself useless, hospitality might not be the most important thing.  We should be willing to give up property when God wants us to do something else.
  7. Intimate friendships with the same sex is just as important for men as for women. Intimacy was defined as vulnerability especially in the senses of accountability and sharing emotions.  Men see the world differently: things versus relationships.  Guys do have as intimate of relationships, but do not express them the same way as girls.  Spending the day hunting and sharing a one-sentence commentary on their job (men) can be as intimate as a three hour conversation (women).  But the argument of the resolution is that men need to express more – a lot of times, and not in a way that looks like women.  Take, for example, David and Jonathan, who had a much closer relationship than what is common to men in our culture.  Men are afraid to reveal themselves, especially for accountability.  There is also a difficulty in expressing masculine intimacy for fear of seeming “queer*.”  Are women really good examples of intimate friendships, or rather than holding each other accountable, aren’t we gossiping and discussing things that shouldn’t be said?  Many men experience closer friendships with other men before marriage, and miss those relationships afterwards, but have been unable or have neglected to keep them up.  Men have been influenced by the doctrine of individualism, so that they overvalue doing things on their own and not asking for help.  The hard world necessitates a shell especially for men, who are in the world more than women.  Men don’t have time for relationships.  World War II hurt the willingness of men to be open, because they did not want to talk about the horrors they had witnessed or even committed.  Were male relationships more prominent in the past or in other cultures?  *queer in the sense of homosexual

Each 15-minute segment seemed to go too fast and be over too soon.  The incredible value of Pigfests it that they do not allow you to really complete a topic, or all the aspects brought up in the debate.  So we keep thinking and talking (and writing!) for weeks to come.  I think it is interesting how there are often two themes weaving their way through the debate.  At some points there were up to four people with their hands up waiting to speak, so the different threads were carried on well.  For myself, I had prepared a resolution, but the things I wanted to bring up with it were touched on in so many of the other debates that I decided not to present mine for debate.

All in all I am quite pleased with how the night went.  God answered all of my prayers for the party.  As hostess and moderator and human being I felt more focused than I have at some Pigfests, and for that I also thank God.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Autumn’s Eve Pigfest

 

Sunday night, the day before Autumn, I hosted my second ever pigfest.  We held a potluck autumnal feast that looked fantastic laid out on the table.  And by the end of the night we had discovered that it tasted fantastic as well. 

 

Our discussion went like this (remember devil’s advocacy may be adopted at any time): 

 

Proposition 1: Slavery is biblically acceptable. 

What is slavery?  What is the slavery in the Bible?  Does the Bible accept slavery, or merely regulate it; is there a difference?  Is there slavery today?  How does debt come in?  Are there advantages to slavery (especially indentured servitude) to an economy, a society, or an individual slave?  What makes slavery unacceptable?  What role should the church play in a society that utilizes slavery?  In history, has the church been successful in enforcing the Bible’s limits to slavery? 

 

Proposition 2: Unmarried adults should be allowed to adopt children. 

How is this worse than unmarried people working in orphanages?  Isn’t it better for a child to have one loving parent than none at all?  What are the legal implications when this is allowed?  Is this a selfish decision?  Does a one-parent household enable the parent to spend time with children, or are they raised essentially in an orphanage anyway, by being left to daycare?  If true religion is caring for widows and orphans, should single people be excluded?  How does having children as a single person affect other responsibilities or callings?  Is an unmarried woman less likely to get married if she has a child through adoption?  What about an unmarried father? 

 

Proposition 3: Cohabitation before marriage is the prudent thing to do. 

If everybody does it, how can it be bad?  Shouldn’t you test out a marriage before you make a lifetime commitment?  Are those advocating cohabitation in successful relationships or marriages?  Are they good people?  What is a Christian’s witness if he/she lives with their partner before marriage?  Many people applaud those who wait until engagement for cohabitation; is there any validity to that?  How long a cohabitation is advocated?  Does cohabitation actually sabotage the relationship, whereas starting with commitment (marriage) would enable the relationship to thrive and function?  Is marriage too big a hassle to interrupt a romance?  How should a pastor react to a couple who has been cohabiting?  Should he marry them ASAP or encourage them to repent?  Ought he to refuse to marry a couple living in sin?  Are they still living in sin after a wedding if they have not repented?  What role does a pastor have in a marriage?  Is it endorsement, witness, mere formality?  What about the law?  What makes a marriage? 

 

Proposition 4: We (the US government) should kick out illegal immigrants. 

Where would we kick them?  What would prevent them from coming right back?  Who will pay for deportation?  (It was suggested that the immigrants themselves should be forced to pay, if they can.)  Would this be good for the US economy?  Would it be tolerable for the US economy?  Has the population of illegal immigrants already hurt our economy (for example in the housing crisis)?  How does the lack of border enforcement reflect on our laws?  Are illegal immigrants typically otherwise law-abiding citizens?  What about language issues?  Isn’t America a melting pot?  Shouldn’t new immigrants be expected to assimilate just like immigrants from decades and centuries past?  Could we allow illegal immigrants to remain in the US if they followed a procedure for attaining legal status and citizenship?  Is there a risk to national security?  Since the waiting list for legally entering the US is so long, couldn’t we change that to make it easier to legally immigrate?  Why do we have limits on immigration?  Do other countries limit immigration?  Do they deport illegals?  Is it illegal to be in our country or illegal to get into our country?  Wouldn’t annexing Mexico solve our problem?  Would Mexico welcome that? 

 

Proposition 5: There are some situations in which extreme violence is justified. 

Who decides?  Is self defense the only situation?  What about defending others?  Defending innocents?  What about violent interference with the murder of unborn children?  Does defense only cover defense from murder, or can it be defense from torture or rape?  What about capital punishment?  Is it ever right to take a life?  Is it right to do nothing when lives are at risk – do I have the right to refuse to take a life or use violence if myself or other “innocent” bystanders are at risk of death?  Can I take an innocent life in order to save other lives?  Suppose a two year old is intentionally aiming a gun and pulling a trigger; should extreme violence be used against him?  Why is the Mosaic law so confusing: day or night, inside the threshold or outside, defending life, defending property…?  Does extreme violence refer only to violence leading to death, or to torture, etc.? 

 

Proposition 6: Reading books written in other languages and other eras should be done to encourage independent thought. 

Is independent thought desired?  Can translated works count?  How is that different from traveling to other parts of the world?  Does reading sufficiently immerse you in the culture to widen your perspective?  (It was pointed out that language is often imbedded in culture.  Language is formed to express a certain way of looking at the world, like the difference in description when emphasis is on texture rather than color.)  In what ways does your thought become independent?  Is this practicable?  What about those who don’t read?  Do movies count?  Foreign films with English subtitles? 

 

Proposition 7 (which was interrupted before actually beginning by the coming of 9 PM and the need to go home): Idealism ought to be valued over pragmatism. 

What on earth is idealism and pragmatism?  Do they always contradict?  Is it ultimately possible for them to contradict?  Which ideal? 

 

Some of my favorite things:  People were willing to play devil’s advocate.  The time before the debate enabled a lot of people to meet each other (and one family’s tire to be changed).  There was a lot of participation.  Pigfest format keeps a debate from wearing out the disinterested.  Everyone fit in my house.  One of my friends brought her two infant daughters.  It rained just as the party started, with the sun still shining.  Cleaning up wasn’t too hard.  People had a good time.  I’m able to remember the discussion half a week later. 

 

Things I’ll do differently next time (Nov. 1):  Have more chairs.  Don’t aim for a main meal, but do lots of snacks instead.  Pray by myself ahead of time about my attitude and perspective.  Think more about proposition ideas I might offer and how to present them in the most discuss-able way possible.  Review the rules before we start. 

 

Considerations:  Maybe prescreen propositions.  Increase time from 15 to 20 minutes.  Enlist a new (louder, more aggressive) moderator. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Portrait of a young pig by Joel Sartore
Portrait of a young pig

For my birthday, we had a Pigfest. I blogged a long time ago promising a Pigfest, and challenged you all to discover what it was. Here’s how it went.

Each person in attendance was asked to have a statement prepared for debate. It could be about theology, philosophy, politics, history, or economics. They would state their proposition and explain it if necessary. A timer set for fifteen minutes was started and the debate began, with any person present allowed to play devil’s advocate or switch sides or bring up a new aspect for debate at any time.

A Gentleman's Debate, 1881 by Benjamin Eugene Fichel
A Gentleman’s Debate, 1881

The first proposition was that Imagination is inversely proportional to the amount of toys one possesses. Discussion included types of toys, what happens if one has no toys, the advantage of having a few toys over either extreme, whether we meant toys, or property in general (who defines toy?). The assumption that imagination is a desired goal was addressed, as well as the purpose of imagination and of toys. “Is passive entertainment ever healthy?” someone asked. We talked about different kinds of people, and the kinds of entertainment that are more satisfying because they engage the entertained to interact. Finally at the last minute it was suggested that the relationship is not inverse. If “inverse” were true of toys and imagination, no toys would produce infinite imagination, and that is not the case.

Secondly it was proposed that Evangelical Christianity should be more like Roman Catholicism in that there are wards, and one is expected to attend the nearest church, focusing on involvement in their immediate community. This would mean that problems in churches get fled, not ignored. There would ideally then be accountability in the leadership of the church. The Roman Catholic church, however, enforces accountability with a bishop who is outside of the local congregations, overseeing several churches. Who would enforce the rule? How would it be enforced? Would a Christian be able to exercise their freedom and their conscience toward doctrine? Someone suggested choosing between the three closest congregations. The condition was Evangelical Christianity, so it was argued that one’s own theology defined what one considered an appropriate church/denomination to attend, and most people present wouldn’t change the church they attend (Pigfesters at this event represented at least four churches, and I invited members of several more churches.) If community is the end goal, then why do we have church buildings at all? Why not house churches? How do you hear about/get invited to a house church? If one is going to fix problems in existing churches, wouldn’t that lead to a sort of vigilante church take-over? Wait! Is that happening in some churches already?

Our third debate was on the need for a national language, and that because the majority of the nation speaks English, and our legal and founding documents were written therein, the national language should be English. The first objection was that one would have to define English. English is evolving, as evidenced by the low comprehension we would have of a Middle or Old English document. A national language would enable integration of immigrants, encouraging unity in our country. How would you enforce the national language? How would you integrate those whose birth language was not English? What does a national language mean? Are road signs only in English? Laws? Ballots? Government documents? If one national language is such a good thing, why should we stop at that? Why not a global language? We talked about the tower of Babel, and God’s design in confusing languages.

Next was a discussion of the relative morality of nuclear weapons. The proposition stated that the morality equaled that of using hand grenades or traditional bombs. Brought up was the economics of both the use of and the recovery from nuclear weapons; the effect upon innocent non-combatants, the number of dead, and the number of miserably injured. What is the object of war? To obtain land and property? Defense? Killing the most enemy combatants? Killing the most people? Is psychological warfare moral? Doesn’t the use of morally regulated nuclear weapons facilitate escalation in that it emboldens the less principled (or sane) enemies to use nuclear weapons against innocents or recklessly?

We had a proxy proposition that Lying is justifiable to save a human life. Immediately presented were the biblical examples of Rahab and the Midwives, and contrasting example of Corrie ten Boom’s sister (Corrie nine Bang?). What was God rewarding? Is it ok to give the appearance of lying? God clearly says that He abhors lying, but we are only assuming from examples that it is ok to lie to save lives. Theology and application should be consistent with the whole revelation of Scripture. A Bible story was brought up in which God caused an attacking army to believe there was an army attacking them, even though there wasn’t. Does God use mind control? Will He use it if we don’t take initiative and lie for Him? Is lying ok in other circumstances, like surprise parties? It was argued that life is the highest end, taken from Proverbs 31 where it says to intercede for those being delivered to death. Against that was the position that God’s glory was the highest, that faith in God says that God can accomplish His purposes inside our obedience (as well as outside). What else could Rahab, for example, have done? Refuse to answer. Be creative. Die for the truth. The Holy Spirit will guide a Christian to the proper response in a given situation.

Then we addressed the question Does God tell you what to do and change the plans? The general answer was yes, He does. Then it was asked is God lying. The example was given of Abraham and Isaac, that God tests our surrender. Is God lying, or is our perspective not reflective of reality?

Finally, trying to mix up the topics, I selected a topic from history from my list. This was my proposal: Ancient civilizations knew about and had maps of America and Antarctica. After the strong stand taken against lying in any circumstance, no one wanted to argue with me. There was discussion on the evidence: trigonometry, maps, Columbus’s discovery of America, that Antarctica was mapped pre-ice cap (what if there was a civilization there?). We diverted into conversation on ancient technology (that we moderns don’t understand), Mormon myths, similar architecture in rings out from Babel reflecting the dispersion. From the Bible we talked about Peleg (in his days the earth was divided, whatever that means) and boundaries (between nations that are not to be moved), and the knowledge possible to be acquired in 500 years of life versus the current life expectancy. Evidence was presented that mammoths were found with dandelions that had been blooming in their stomachs as they were frozen, suggesting the climate was more temperate in the arctic and Antarctic in the past, and that it changed rapidly.

Afterward we watched Amazing Grace, the movie about William Wilberforce’s campaign to abolish the slave trade in England. It was positively inspiring. Afterward we passed around the petition to amend the Colorado Constitution defining person as a human from the moment of fertilization.

I’m told, and experienced myself, that the conversation sparked by fifteen minute segments of debate carried on into the next few days. We have all resolved to have Pigfests again.

Feel free to add to the arguments, ask questions, click on the links, host your own Pigfests, comment on your debate experiences, say hi, etc.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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