I Wish I Would Have Read the Bible Before I Took “Western Civ”


pexels-photo-268424.jpegWhen I was seventeen I went to college. In my second term I took a required course in “History of Western Civilization.” I remember it well. I went to a large university and there were between one and three hundred students in the class at any one time. I sat in a large room and listened to a professor drone on and on about people groups and cultures I had never heard of. I did the reading, took the tests and passed the class, but I did not get much out of it.

Why? Because I had nothing in my mind that allowed me to relate to or put into context much of the information I was taking in. Sure, I had heard about the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans by that time in my educational process but many of the other people groups were new to me. I learned about them and placed the information in a dusty file in my mind labeled “Facts about Ancient Cultures and Dead People Groups” and promptly forgot about them.

I was twenty-four when I began to read the Bible in earnest. I read about people groups and countries that existed thousands of years ago. The information came alive to me because it was related to people; real people I was reading about who had lived millennia before.

I read about the Fertile Crescent and many of the people groups that lived there in ancient times. There were Assyrians, Chaldeans, Babylonians, Medes and Persians. The cultures and their gods were detailed and many of their battles regaled in Scripture. Further south of the Crescent, I read about Hittites, Amorites, Philistines, Phoenicians, Moabites, Ammonites and Hebrews. All of these people groups were related to other groups that were living at that time.

Ancient history began to come alive to me and all of a sudden the old maps were more than just pretty pictures with little known countries in them. As I read about the battles between the Seleucids in Syria and the Ptolemys in Egypt in the book of Daniel, my interest was sparked. How could this information be so interesting when a few years earlier it had meant nothing to me? 

It was interesting to me because it had suddenly been put into context. Real people who lived and their struggles and weaknesses were defined. Their gods were named and the strength of their war machines were detailed. Just like today, there were battles going on for land and for power. It was the kind of stuff that great novels are made of. 


Babylonian Tile – courtesy of pcdazero – pixabay

Over the years as I have read about archeological finds in the Middle East, the information I learned in the Bible has been confirmed. For centuries scholars did not believe the Hittites existed until remains of their culture was found. Iraq, modern day Assyria, Babylonia and Chaldea, is covered with archeological sites; including the Tomb of Jonah (recently blown up by Isis) and Abraham’s home city Ur of the Chaldeans. The site of the ancient palace of Nebuchadnezzar in ancient Babylon is a few miles from Baghdad and is being rebuilt today. Further north in Kirkuk, there is a shrine to the prophet Daniel.


Persepolis – courtesy of ballif – Pixabay

Iran, the ancient Persia of today, is also full of important historical information. Queen Esther’s tomb is located in Hamadan and the prophet Daniel’s tomb is in Susa, an ancient capital of Persia. The country has multitudes of historical monuments proclaiming the glory of their ancient kings that are mentioned in the Bible. Persepolis, the city constructed by Darius the Great and sacked by Alexander the Great has spectacular ruins. The tomb of Cyrus the Great is still to be seen in Pasagarde and was itself visited by Alexander the Great.  Some of the most striking historical monuments in the world are in Iran and beg to be visited by lovers of ancient history.


Old City Jerusalem – courtesy of Olaf Pictures – Pixabay

 Israel is also a hotbed of archeological information. The ancient city of Jericho has been discovered as have coins and reliefs relating to the Philistines. The remains of what is thought to be Sodom and Gomorrah has been found at the edge of the Dead Sea. Ancient coins and inscriptions relating to King David have been found in the last several years. Hundreds of finds there only confirm the information I have read in the Bible, never discount it.

As you can see, now I find ancient history fascinating. Reading the Bible has not only sparked my interest but has given me a context in order to understand and appreciate it in a deeper way. I only wish I had read the Bible before I took that class in Western Civ. I would have gotten so much more out of the course!








Will Cursive Go the Way of Cuneiform?

Cursive is on the chopping block in several school districts today. Common Core has taken it out of the curriculum and forty-one states do not require it being taught. Many educators do not believe we need to teach children cursive and that the time could be used to teach them more relevant subjects. So it got me to thinking, will cursive soon go the way of cuneiform?


Cuneiform was developed by the ancient Sumerians between 3000 and 3500 B.C. It was the primary script in Mesopotamia for over thirty centuries and was used by at least eight different people groups including the Assyrians, Hittites and the Babylonians. If you lived in one of those cultures, you might have thought that the use of cuneiform would continue on indefinitely. However, about 100 B.C. it was abandoned in favor of the alphabetic script. 

In the 19th century, British archeologists discovered about 30,000 cuneiform tablets near the Assyrian capital of Nineveh but they had no idea how to interpret them. Scholars worked on deciphering the tablets but it was slow going. They could make out the names of kings, but that was about it until Henry Rawlinson, a British soldier assigned to the Governor of Persia, decided to scale the Rock of Behistun. Darius the Great had written an autobiography and had it carved into the rock face of the cliff in three different languages. Rawlinson copied part of the cuneiform in 1837 and then went back in 1844 and copied the same part of the inscription in another language. By comparing both scripts, he and other scholars were able to piece together parts of the language. By 1872, a noted cuneiform scholar, George Smith, was able to translate the Epic of Gilgamesh. Soon other translations followed and men were once again able to read cuneiform.


Will it be that way with cursive? Within another century, will there only be a few people who will be able to read it? Will people have to dig out a primer on The Palmer Method in order to read an old letter from a deceased relative or examine documents written before the twentieth century? That begs the question, should we continue to teach cursive? Do we really need the skill in our society today?

As long as a person is required to sign his name on a legal document, cursive will be necessary. Perhaps students should take an elementary course in cursive in the third or fourth grades so that they are able to at least sign their names when required to. Other than that, hours drilling them in forming loops and circles might not be so productive.

Do I hate to see the skill go away? Yes, but I can understand why many educators do not see the value in it anymore. Children are taught printing at an early age and then keyboarding; those are the skills they will need most in their lives. Children need to be educated and prepared for the digital society they are living in.



http://www.ancienthistoryencyclopedia., “Cuneiform”, article by Joshua Mark.

http://www.mcadams.posc.mu.edu., “The Rock of Behistun.”






Why “The Artilect War – Cosmists vs. Terrans” by Hugo de Garis is a Must Read

About a month ago, a man discussing artificial intelligence referred to the book, “The Artilect War” by Hugo de Garis Ph.D. He stated that anyone interested in the subject of artificial intelligence and its future would do well to read this book. It sparked my interest so I decided to try to procure a copy. The book was published in 2005 by ETC Publications and is available on Amazon for $65.00. Not wanting to spend part of the weekly food budget on the book, I went to the library to borrow a copy. They needed to get it though an interlibrary loan from a college in Michigan and I received it within a few days. Not being a techie, I was hesitant to give the book a read, but I was appreciative that Dr. de Garis had written the book for non-techies like me. 

Dr. de Garis has worked in the A/I field for over twenty years and puts forth his vision of where he thinks that A/I will take the societies of the world during the latter part of the twenty-first century. He believes science will continue to build machines with higher and higher A/I quotients, until they surpass human intelligence and eventually become sentient. He labels these super-intelligent machines “Artilects,” a shortened version of artificial intellects. He believes their development will cause humanity to divide into two groups, the Cosmists and the Terrans.

The Cosmists will consist of those who want to develop the Artilects. “To the Cosmists, building Artilects will be like a religion, the destiny of the human species; something magnificent and worthy of worship.” For the Cosmists, not building the Artilects would be a human tragedy. The Terrans, on the other hand, will fear the Arilects and will believe that the risk involved in developing them should not be taken. They believe that scientists should not build Artilects with AIQ’s billions of times smarter than humans. 

Dr. de Garis then lays out in the proceeding chapters the arguments for and against building these god-like machines. His belief is that artificial intelligence is a dual-use technology, not unlike nuclear fission. It can benefit humanity, or if in the wrong hands, will be used to destroy humanity.

He believes that ultimately a major war will develop between the Cosmists and the Terrans when the Cosmists refuse to stop developing smarter and smarter Artilects. He concludes that the Cosmists will win the war because of their fanatical religious fervor. He believes that millions of people will be killed during this future war. 

Dr. de Garis wonders if perhaps after humans have developed these god-like machines, that their own creations will destroy humanity. He reasons that Artilects will view humans in a way similar to how we view mosquitos i.e. simply a pest to be destroyed. He fears that this will result in the extinction of the human species and refers to this phenomenon as “Gigadeath.”

Why is this book a must read for thinking people of all religions and races? Is this non-fiction book just so much science-fiction theory? I thought so until I started to do a little research into the field of artificial intelligence. 

I first read an article by Jason Barrat of the Huffington Post. The article, “Why Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates are Terrified of Artificial Intelligence,” states that Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking are starting to warn us about what they believe will soon end life on earth as we know it, i.e. super-intelligent machines. These men believe humans will lose control of the machines and that humans will eventually be enslaved or exterminated by them. Their words sound eerily similar to those of Dr. de Garis.

For anyone who thinks this technology is decades away, a look at a YouTube video produced by Boston Dynamics is a wake-up call. Their video highlights the capabilities of the Atlas Robot they are developing. It has been designed to look like a Storm Trooper and can walk, open a door, proceed into the woods, maintain its balance on uneven surfaces, fall down, right itself and get back up. At this point in time, it is guided by humans but at what point in its development will it become autonomous?

Should we be concerned about the safety and ethical concerns in the development of Artilects? At the moment, the US government, under the umbrella of the Defense Department and its DARPA program, is currently working on the development of super-soldiers. One area of their research involves developing battlefield robots. When fully functional, they will be autonomous killing machines that will be programmed to make the kill-decision on their own in the field of battle. Is anyone minding the store when it comes to the ethical and safety decisions regarding these battle bots?

As thinking individuals, we would do well to read Dr. de Garis’s book and realize that it is truly prescient. We cannot hide our heads in the sand and hope that these Artilects will not be developed. They are already being developed and sooner rather than later we will have to address the kind of safety and ethical considerations that go along with this kind of research and development. 

Note: Dr. de Gares’s book is now available as a free download pdf.

The Artilect War04102018_0001





God is Not a Member of My Political Party


When I first read the account in Scripture of Joshua and the Commander of the Lord’s army in Joshua Chapter 5, I was shocked. Jericho was the first city the Israelites were going to have to take as they entered the Promised Land. The Scripture says Joshua was by Jericho when the Commander of the Lord’s army appeared to him. Joshua specifically asked him if he was for them or for their adversaries. I expected the Commander to say, “I am for you and your people.” But he didn’t say that. He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.

In other words, the Commander was on the Lord’s side and was there to help the Israelites accomplish God’s will. That statement gave me pause the first time I read it and it continues to give me pause, especially in today’s political climate. There are lots of people who believe that God is on their side and that he is a member of their political party. They discount the other political parties and feel that God could surely not be on their side. 

Ever since I read that verse in the book of Joshua, I have been hesitant to think that God belongs to my political party or any another. I do believe that God is concerned about people and about the issues that affect them. One political party may focus on some of those issues and others may focus on some of the rest. For those who don’t think God cares about social issues, a good look at Isaiah 58:6-7 should let us know how he feels about them.

God shares his priorities in these two verses and we would do well to look at them. In verse 6 He desires us to “loose the bonds of wickedness.” Surely that would talk about crime and those affected by it. Next, it says he wants us to “undo heavy burdens.” Could that mean debt and taxes? “To let the oppressed go free,” surely talks about slavery in all forms. He wants us to “break every yoke.” Would that apply to drug and alcohol addiction?

Verse 7 is just as illuminating. He wants us to “share our bread with the hungry.” Obviously, we are to be concerned about hunger. “And bring to your house the poor who are cast out;” homelessness seems to be another issue we are to address. “When we see the naked, that you cover him,” speaks about taking care of people’s basic necessities. Last, we are to “not hide ourselves from our own flesh.” We are to do our best to take care of our families before we seek help from the government or any other source.

Those two verses in Isaiah speak to several social issues and we know that there are a lot more commands throughout Scripture about our obligation to care for the least among us. A good look at the verses in Matthew 25: 35-46 show us that Jesus will judge the nations when he comes back. Verse 35 talks about hunger, thirst and homelessness. Those we have just discussed, but verse 36 talks about those that are sick and in prison. Surely, we should be concerned about health care and those suffering in the prison system. 

We also know that God cares about life…all life. Psalm 139:13-16 talks about how God knew us and formed us in the womb, so human life is high on his list. In Genesis 1:28 God gives man dominion over all the earth and every living thing. Man has been given the responsibility to look after animals, plants and the earth itself.

Before I discount another political party and those that work in it, I would do well to consult Scripture and see what God’s priorities are. Then I can look to his agenda and work with others, regardless of their political affiliation, to help accomplish his will here on the earth.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.




When the Secular Co-opts the Sacred


Madison Avenue is rarely interested in religious holidays unless they can make a buck or two off of them. For decades, they have been co-opting religious holidays in order to profit from them. Take Christmas for example. Their advertising focuses on the need to give expensive gifts, and now most businesses make the majority of their money during the Christmas season. The gullible public has swallowed it hook, line and sinker to the point that fights erupt in stores on Black Friday so that people can get the cherished items they must have for Christmas. 


Easter does not rival Christmas on Madison Avenue because it is not about stark materialism. Instead, bunnies and eggs are sold in the stores to help us celebrate the day. A study of the origin of these symbols shows us that in ancient times they were the pagan symbols of fertility. The word Easter itself comes from Eastre or Ishtar the pagan goddess of spring.

How can we as believers in Christ not let the secular co-opt the sacred during our religious holidays? If we go to traditional churches, we will be reminded of the significance of each holiday. Advent is celebrated four Sundays before Christmas in order to help us remember the birth of Christ.  Lent begins forty days before Resurrection Sunday so that we might prepare our hearts to celebrate Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. If we do not go to traditional churches, we must become intentional if we want to keep a spiritual focus during these sacred seasons.

Being a Christian does not mean we do not buy gifts at Christmas. Neither does it mean that we do not indulge in a bit of candy on Resurrection Sunday. It means that we must make an effort to not let Madison Avenue and its secular version of each holiday co-opt the true meaning of the holidays we celebrate. We must become intentional if we want to participate in the spiritual significance of each of these holidays.




Was It Really Love?


love-3187623_1920When I married my husband, I thought I was “in love” with him, but was it really love? I looked forward to our weekend dates, felt very good around him, and thought about marrying him a lot. I experienced emotional highs when he called followed by lows when I didn’t hear from him. I really loved being with him, but was that the kind of “love” one should base a marriage on?

I wanted to give that love the Love Test, but could I do it with the English word love? Love is used in a variety of ways with multiple connotations in English: we  love chocolate, clothes, homes, cars and people. Would I need to use words from a different language to get a better understanding of the word? Yes, possibly Greek. So, here goes.

Did I have Eros love for my husband? Eros is the physical kind of love and attraction one feels for another. You experience lots of emotional highs and lows with Eros love. Check one: Yes

What about Phileo love” Phileo is the kind of love one has for a friend. We get the word Philadelphia from it,  the City of Brotherly Love. Did I love him like I love some of my oldest and dearest friends? Would I have told him anything and trust him with everything at that point? Check two: No

What about the kind of love one has for their family, Storge love? Did I feel for him like I felt for my father, mother, sister or brother? Would I have done anything to help him or put my life on hold to love and care for him then? Check three: No

The highest kind of love is called Agape love. It is a self-sacrificing kind of love. It loves without expecting or demanding anything in return. Did I truly have that kind of love for him? Check four: No

So here we are forty years later, married and still together by the grace of God. At this time I do have Phileo love for my husband; he truly is my best friend. I also experience Storge love for him; he is as much a part of my family as any of my close relatives. At times, with the grace of God, I can even love him with Agape love. I can sacrifice for him and love him unconditionally for who he is.

But I have to be honest with myself. When I married him, I was only infatuated with him and experiencing Eros love. That deep friendship and familial love that it takes to make a marriage last was developed over many difficult years. There were good times, bad times, tears, fights and a lot of hanging in there through the rough spots that helped forge the bond we have today. And more and more, I am able to love him with Agape love. I just love him because of who he is; not because I expect anything from him.

Was it love at the time? Yes, but not the kind of love you need for a lasting marriage. It took years and years and the grace of God to grow the kind of love that lasts a lifetime.

So take the Love Test and be honest with yourself. How much do you truly love the one you’re with?

I am still on hiatus this week, sharing another one of my faves!!

A Bachelor’s in Rescuing, A Masters as an Enabler, and Almost a Doctorate in Co-Dependency


diploma-1390785_1920Being a bright child, I was always interested in learning. I graduated from high school and in my late teens and early twenties had achieved my Bachelor’s in Rescuing. I fell in love with a man with emotional problems and PTSD. I believed that if I loved him enough I could make him well. What a shock it was to find out that all of my love made almost no difference in his ability to get better.

Did that experience stop me from going on and getting my Masters as an Enabler? No, it didn’t! I had a step-brother who was an experienced alcoholic an expert manipulator. For a long time, I believed that all he needed was the right situation to turn his life around and that he really didn’t want to drink. Thousands of dollars and several years later, I finally realized that he was going to do exactly what he wanted and all the wringing of my hands and helping him was only enabling him to continue in his lifestyle.

At that point, I was well on my way to getting my Doctorate in Co-Dependency. I had three friends that I thought needed my help and I was continually there to meet their needs whenever they called. I had spent thousands of dollars on my Doctorate and was well into my Practicum when I realized that this might not be the career path I wanted to follow.

Thirty years had gone by while I was pursuing my education. I was in my mid-fifties when the light started to dawn. I realized I had spent my life helping many who didn’t really want my help; they just wanted my attention. For a while I felt hurt, used and manipulated by those around me. I blamed them until I realized that they were not the problem. I was.

I had not been able to say “No” to people who appeared to be in need but really weren’t. I had not been able to discern what was really going on behind the scenes in their lives. Now I am pursuing a different career path: Optometry.

My vision has always been poor and I am trying to see the world from a better perspective. I want to see people for who they really are and still have the ability to love them but not get involved in their lives to the detriment of my own. Starting on a new career path later in life is difficult but not impossible. It certainly doesn’t take the time and money my first one did and I feel quite a bit saner on this journey. I feel a lot more freedom and have more choices now that I can say “No.”

Can any of you relate? Are you on the same journey I am?

Note: I am on hiatus for the next few weeks, and am reposting a few faves from last year!




Promoting Civility In The Public Discourse


One would have to be living completely off the grid, away from all forms of communication, to be unaware that there is a problem with civility in our society. In their latest survey, “Civility in America VII: The State of America,” Weber, Shandwick/Powell Tate and KRC Research show that three quarters of Americans believe that incivility has risen to crisis levels. I think we can all agree that this survey is probably a very accurate portrayal of the problem.

When asked the question, “What is making civility worse?”, 75% of respondents felt the number one cause of incivility was politicians. Coming in second at 69% was the internet and social media followed by the news media at 59%. Since these three areas are clearly in the realm of public discourse, what can we do to promote civility within them?

We know that politicians, social sites and the news media all are sensitive to public opinion. I believe that we, as citizens, should be quick to speak up wen we hear or see incivility in these areas. A polite phone call, email, comment or even a letter will let the offending party know that we find their remarks offensive. If they get enough feedback, they will hopefully, think twice before using uncivil or inflammatory rhetoric when speaking about a group of people or  a problem we face.

Another extremely effective way to show our disapproval of incivility is the vote. We can vote against those politicians that use their bully pulpit to denigrate others. We can quit following social sites where incivility is rampant and we can stop watching television programs where incivility is the norm.

The survey also showed that 94% of people believed that they were always or usually polite and respectful to others. If there is a problem with incivility in the public discourse, and there is, then we are not being truthful with ourselves. Individually we must be contributing to the problem in one area or another, and we must take a good hard look and ask ourselves where are we part of the problem.

How well mannered are we when we are driving on the freeway? How do we react when we have to wait in line at the store? What do we do when someone accidentally crowds into our personal space in an airplane or a subway? What is our reaction when we hear a crying baby in a public place?

These situations test the limits of our patience and are hotbeds for incivility. If we take a deep breath before we react, we can help change the atmosphere around us. We can respond kindly and with a civil comment that will not exacerbate the situation we find ourselves in.

If we want to promote civility in the public discourse, we will have to take steps to do it on a public and personal level. We will have to be willing to make our voices known to those serving in the public arena and we will have to hold ourselves accountable in the situations we find ourselves in daily. One person can make a difference and several people can make a large impact on the level of incivility in our society today.

Students Were the Key to Stopping the Viet Nam War – They Will Be the Key to Stopping Gun Violence in Their Schools


megaphone-1480342_1920During the 1960’s and 1970’s, students were the key to stopping the Viet Nam War. Young  males were being drafted to go and fight in a war that had nothing to do with the safety and security of our nation. Defense contractors were making millions off the war and they were a powerful lobby in our capital that supported keeping the war going. There was a struggle in Washington D.C., but not much headway was being made to stop the war. Then came Kent State…

Four students were shot by the National Guard and died at Kent State while protesting the war. That tragedy rocked our nation and became the turning point in public opinion against the war. It took the deaths of only four students in order to rally the needed support to build a large coalition of people. Students, veterans, adults from every walk of life, and politicians began to work to stop our involvement in the war.  Eventually the war ended, and a look back shows that it was the student protests that had the biggest influence on how society viewed the war in Viet Nam.

Here we are several decades later with another national tragedy on our hands. Last week 17 students were killed in the Florida shooting. This, of course, was not the first school shooting, they have been going on for over two decades. Every time it happens, there is a national outcry and outpouring of grief, but the noise subsides and people go about their business as usual.

This time it is different. Students have begun to rally and protest in order to keep their schools safe. They have a right to safe schools and they have the power to begin a movement to put pressure on the government to make our schools safe. Again, at its very core, the issue is about money. Money is usually at the bottom of most of these issues, and those that have the most to gain will be protesting the loudest against changing the laws.

It took the deaths of four students to shock the populace of the United States and force them to take a serious look at the issues involving the Viet Nam War. A lot more than four students have been killed in our schools and we, as the populace, should be shocked and outraged that this kind of carnage continues to happen in America.

I stand with the Florida students in the their protests and hope that in every state students will rise up and demand that they be kept safe at their schools. They, and only they have the power to change the opinions of the public, and their voices should be heard. After all, they are the ones dying, and their only crime is that of attending a public school. 

Monks, Hermits, Anchorites and Intercessors – Praying For Our World Today.


monk-2173524_1920 (1)“Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.” Revelation 8:3-4. NKJV

Unbeknownst to most people, there are thousands of individuals hidden away from society who have chosen to give their lives over to the contemplation of God and intercession for this world. Many of these people live in monasteries, and have left all their worldly affairs in order spend time focused on God and praying for others. We know them as monks, and they are scattered around the world in monasteries. They follow an ancient tradition and live with their brothers and/or sisters and spend their lives in an ordered existence. They pray, work for the good of their order, and intercede for those of us in secular society.

Hermits are different. They have chosen a solitary life away from all society. They live in small huts or caves and spend their time in prayer and contemplation. They usually provide for their own living by growing food or scavenging from the land around them. Some are provided for by others who bring them gifts of food and firewood, in order to supplement their humble existence.

Anchorites are those individuals who have chosen to be shut away completely from society. They spend their time praying for the world and for others who may contact them with specific prayer requests. They are usually associated with a monastery or church and have their food delivered to them a few times a day. A person can choose to shut themselves away for a short time; a week or month, or longer if they so desire.

Intercessors come in various forms. They may be set apart from society by choice or by necessity, or are not set apart at all. Many live in care homes or in their own homes and cannot get out any longer. They have chosen to give their lives over to prayer and intercession for others. Other intercessors live within the confines of modern society but still have chosen to spend a great deal of their time praying for us and the problems of this world.

Why would anyone choose such a life? Does it make any difference in our world today that there are thousands of individuals who spend their precious time praying for us? To find the answer, one needs to only look around at our fragmented and troubled world. What is keeping it together? Why hasn’t it gone off the rails yet? I suspect that until we step into eternity, we will never know the efficacy of the prayers that have been prayed for us, either individually or collectively, by those who have chosen to live a sacrificial life in order to seek God and intercede for us.