How Not to Scare Pro-Gun Supporters (Quite as Much)

John Morse served as President of the Colorado Senate until a recent recall vote ousted him from the position. What had he done to invoke the wrath of the people? Pushed for gun control restrictions in Colorado in the aftermath of the Aurora (Colorado) mass shooting.

I’m not going to take a position on gun control, but I do want to point out a major faux pas[1] committed by Morse in an article he wrote for The Daily Beast (Rampage. Regret. Repeat.).

Man Shooting Gun, thanks to milan6 over at sxc.hu for making the image available royalty free.
Man Shooting Gun, thanks to milan6 over at sxc.hu for making the image available royalty free.

Morse’s article outlines five focuses of his endeavors in the Colorado Senate including (1) limiting new magazines to be limited to 15 rounds, (2) everyone must pass a background check before purchasing a gun, (3) the gun buyer has to pay for the background check, (4) training for a conceal-weapons permit must occur at least partially in person, and (5) proactive removal of guns from the possession of domestic violence perpetrators.

Whatever you may think of this legislation, Morse’s primary mistake is earlier in the article. At the beginning of his article he notes how as a paramedic he was called to a home where a husband used a shotgun to shoot his wife in the head (resulting in her death) and then turned the gun on himself…All the while, an infant child is in the room watching.

Why is this problematic? Because it reinforces pro-gun supporters fears. Let me explain. The great fear of pro-gun advocates is that we are on a “slippery slope” towards firearms restrictions which will become ever more stringent. The legislation Morse passed would do nothing to stop this sort of violence – and pro-gun supporters know this – and thus know if that if these sort of cases are the impetus for gun control, then it is only a matter of time till gun control advocates see that previous legislation didn’t eliminate these cases and they propose yet stringent measures.

“But wouldn’t taking away this man’s gun have prevented this violence?” Unlikely. Gun restrictions may help reduce the body count in mass shootings but is unlikely to eliminate or reduce (imho) crimes such as the one Morse outlines above. If the offender in this case didn’t have a shotgun, he could easily have used a baseball bat or knife. The casualties would have been just as severe – and the trauma inflicted on the child would be equal or greater to that the child experienced seeing his mother and father shot (a gunshot blast is fairly instantaneous, bludgeoning or stabbing can be a complicated process).

Nor, from the information Morse provides, would this individual have been prevented from purchasing a gun by the legislation Morse passed.

  1. Shotguns are generally low capacity – sometimes one or two shots, sometimes five.
  2. It is possible this individual had crimes in his background – but Morse doesn’t mention any.
  3. Paying for the background check is unlikely to dissuade anyone – I assume this would cost around $10-$15 for a background check. At the most $25.
  4. This individual was using a shotgun, not a concealed weapon.
  5. Again, it is possible that this could have helped, if the individual had a criminal background – but Morse does not provide this info. – so I assume he did not. Even if he did, proactively taking someone’s guns, even if legislated by law is a litigious action, and I highly doubt that the police force is going to be eager to undertake such proactive procurement except in the most certain of cases.

So, what am I saying? That gun control advocates shoot themselves in the foot when they use crimes which arise emotions in us but that won’t be reduced by the legislation they are proposing.

Pro-gun advocates might be able to find more common ground if they didn’t see red warning signs that this was only the “beginning of the slippery slope.”

  1. [1]Merriam-Webster defines as “an embarrassing social mistake.” I’m not sure if I’m utilizing this word in its correct literal sense, but I suppose you’ll get the idea.

Smartphone on the Road: Five Apps That Can Make Your Teen a Better Driver

Guest Post by Cynthia Tyson. Cynthia is a stay-at-home mom with a background in social media and public relations.

You don’t often see the words “smartphone,” “teen,” and “driving” all in the same sentence. At least, not in a positive way. As much as smartphones can be detrimental to safety on the road, they can also help teens become better and safer drivers in the long run. So, if you want to bribe your teen into safer driving, make sure he or she downloads the following apps before you even think about looking at used cars for the holidays.Photo for Apps

1. Drive Safe.ly (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows – Free)

This handy mobile app helps prevent distracted driving by reading text messages and emails aloud in real time. Drive Safe.ly even responds automatically to these messages without drivers having to even touch the phone. These automated messages can be customized according to different needs, so teens can write messages like “On the way!” for specific text senders. One-touch activation makes setup a breeze, while a flexible design ensures compatibility with Bluetooth and radio transmitters.

2. Drive Safe Mode (iOS, Android – Free)

Using special sensory technology to detect the movement of the car, Drive Safe Mode turns off all alerts to eliminate distractions completely. No more reminding your teen to turn off her phone or put it in the backseat. Drive Safe Mode literally puts his phone on lockdown and even sends out alerts and reports if the user tries to disable the lock. Now you can be sure your rules are enforced even after he pulls out of the driveway. Even while driving, the app allows emergency calls to 911 and Mom and Dad just in case.

3. DriveScribe (iOS, Android – Free)

Perfect for new drivers, DriveScribe can be your teen’s personal driving instructor when you’re not in the car. The app monitors speed, blocks texts and calls, and delivers real-time voice feedback to improve your teen’s driving. The driver will not only receive an alert about driving mistakes but also designated friends or family members via text message and/or email. Mistakes can include excessive speed, running a stop sign and hard braking. After each driving session, data is stored, monitored and analyzed in comprehensive metrics that make it easier to gauge progress.

4. CarSafe (Android – Free)

Developed by researchers from Dartmouth’s Smartphone Sensing Group, CarSafe is a high-tech app that uses dual-camera, motion-sensing power to detect risky driving behaviors like distraction and drowsiness. The front camera records data about the driver, while the back camera keeps track of environmental conditions. After analyzing this data, the app will alert the driver about these risks with screen icons and audible warnings. Risky behavior ranges from tired eyes to a too-close proximity to the car ahead.

5. Steer Clear (iOS, Android – Free)

State Farm created the Steer Clear mobile app as part of a program for reinforcing positive driving behavior for young drivers. Drivers under age 25 can complete the Steer Clear Safe Driver Discount Program to earn discounts on State Farm auto insurance, so safe driving can literally pay off. The app logs driving experiences and offers tips for safer driving in varying weather conditions. Teens can even use the app to watch videos and learn from the experiences of other drivers. A built-in Find an Agent feature also makes it easy to contact your State Farm Agent for general questions or to make a claim.

Dave Enjoys Gets An Upgrade.

I sometimes go AWOL from posting on Dave Enjoys, so I’m sure no one has been wondering why I haven’t posted in the last two days or so…but there is a real reason why – upgrades.

I got really tired of Bluehost having downtime, running slow, and so on. I hope they get their problems straightened out – but DigitalOcean is offering sweet deals on virtual private servers (VPS) at prices lower than Bluehost offers shared hosting. So, I’m in the slow process of moving sites over. I already moved FreeWargamer and have just now finished moving Dave Enjoys.

What does this mean for you? Well, nothing much on the front-end, but hopefully:

  • The site will load a lot faster, making browsing the site a more enjoyable experience.
  • The site will be more stable – rather than the frequent downtime I’ve been experiencing with Bluehost.

In addition, WordPress released the latest and greatest Jetpack plugin which means you can now used your WordPress.com authentication with Dave Enjoys. If that doesn’t make sense to you – that is okay – it won’t affect your utilization of the site.

Finally, this does mean that there will probably be some hiccups along the way…so if you see any technical glitches with this or any of my other sites please let me know!

Free Money! (No, Seriously)

Back in the good old days (late 1990’s) companies like AllAdvantage paid us just for browsing the web (and having a small window that covered the bottom of our screen and rotated ads). I made some money off these programs (I think maybe $100 from AllAdvantage), but due to abuses these programs turned down (folks found ways to automate the process of appearing as if one was using the computer).

Bag of Money, image thanks to mcol and OpenClipart.
Bag of Money, image thanks to mcol and OpenClipart.

Well, it looks like the good old days may be coming back to us – so get in while you can. Okay, honestly, I think at least this company has a more sustainable and less cheatable model. I actually think its a bit of genius and I expect them to do well – though some competitors might come onto the scene who will offer them a run for their money.

What am I talking about? An Android application called Locket. If you have an Android smartphone (e.g. Verizon Droid, Samsung Galaxy, HTC One, and almost all smartphones that aren’t Apple iPhones), you can use this application.

The concept is simple. When you turn on your phone’s screen to take some action (make a phone call, browse the internet, text message, play a game, write a note, check your bank balance) you are immediately presented with the “lock screen.” You may a swipe motion to “unlock” the screen – this “lock” mechanism prevents you (at least theoretically) from accidentally pocket dialing folks.

Locket is a small Android application that “takes over” your lock screen. When you turn on your screen you’ll see an image (an ad). Its unintrusive, oftentimes interesting, and you can unlock like usual. Every (well almost every) time you unlock your phone, Locket gives you $.01.

Granted, that isn’t much. You aren’t going to get rich off this program – but seriously, it doesn’t reduce your productivity at all and I actually find the lock swipe mechanism to be better than that included by default with my Samsung Galaxy S3.

I’ve been using Locket for around 24 hours and have earn $0.18. Hahaha. Yeah, it isn’t much, but lets multiply that times a year: 365 * .18 = $65.70. It still isn’t much – but it almost covers a month with Verizon or AT&T of cell service and you are essentially being paid to do nothing.

I don’t use my phone super frequently. I use it for more than most people do (e.g. note taking, medicine adherence monitoring, banking, health monitoring, and so on) but not as frequently as many (I hate texting and phone calls) – so I imagine that others might earn a fairly easy $150 a year. Nothing to sneeze at, imho.

So, go get it. What does it cost you? No, I’m not getting paid to say this…I just like for people to use good products (and sometimes I do get paid, but not this time). 🙂

Christianity Today’s Grappling with the God of Two Testaments

I subscribe to Christianity Today and recently my subscription arrived in the mail. I was immediately taken with the cover consisting of an intermixing of 1 Samuel 15:2-3 (Old Testament) and Luke 6:27-31 (New Testament):
This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘But I tell you who hear me: love your enemies,” I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel do good to those who hate you, when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Bless those who curse you, now go, attack the Amalekites pray for those who mistreat you. And totally destroy everything that belongs to them. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. Do not spare them; if someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Put to death men and women, children and infants, give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

A powerful and visual contrast of the apparently conflicting messages of the Old and New Testaments. Christianity Today endeavors to provide an explanation and reconciliation of the profound differences apparent in the OT and NT article in this edition (July / August 2013).

Their endeavor consists of a brief and honest note from CT editor Mark Galli. This is followed by Mark Buchanan’s pastoral response entitled “Can We Trust the God of Genocide?” Then Phillip Cary argues “Gentiles in the Hands of a Genocidal God” and Christopher J. H. Wright’s article “Learning to Love Leviticus” and sidebar “Sex in Leviticus.”

I was saddened that CT didn’t take the opportunity to cover this topic even more extensively – I would have loved to see the entire magazine dedicated to the subject for this issue. Still, the articles are fairly interesting.

Mark Galli’s Editorial

I appreciate Galli’s honesty in acknowledging that there are really difficult passages that trouble Christians. He also provides us with several titles for further research on the topic including Paul Copan’s Is God a Moral Monster?, David T. Lamb’s God Behaving Badly, and Eric A. Seibert’s The Violence of Scripture.

Can We Trust the God of Genocide?

Massacre of the Innocents painted by Peter Paul Rubens, ca. 1610-1612.
Massacre of the Innocents painted by Peter Paul Rubens, ca. 1610-1612.

Mark Buchanan offers a ‘pastoral’ response to the troubling texts involving genocide in the Old Testament. A ‘pastoral’ perspective as I commonly understand it is one which spends more time expressing empathy for the emotional components present in individuals’ difficulties with Scripture rather than a more intellectual/philosophical approach (at least, that is what I mean when I attempt to explain something in a ‘pastoral’ manner).

He aptly notes the difficulty we face, “What’s not easy is explaining what appear to be deliberate acts of divine cruelty. God’s virulent rage. His hair-trigger vindictiveness. His apoplectic jealousy. Why would God make women and children pay for the sins of despots or the apostasy of priests? God’s behavior at times appears to the skeptic, and even to the devout, as mere rancor, raw spite. There are passages in Scripture that make God look like a cosmic bully throwing a colossal tantrum.”

He suggests this raises the question “Can the Bible be trusted?” Which is really a more personal question, “Can the God of the Bible be trusted?” And finally, the real heart of the question, “Jesus, is that really you?”[1]

Buchanan provides an interesting analysis of Hosea 13:16 and its relation to John and James desiring to call fire down from heaven – and this along with his explanation of the problem are probably the strongest portions of the article.

From here on, I found the article less satisfying. Buchanan argues that, “But he’s the same God. Indeed, here’s a surprise: The road is even steeper now, the judgment of God sterner, and the cost of refusal greater…Jesus opens a new way to the same God. But Jesus, rather than lessening the stakes, heightens them. His blood speaks a better word than Abel’s, or any other’s, but his message is only an intensified version of what God has always said: Do not refuse me when I am talking to you.”

Buchanan does find the key to our interpretive paradox, “My pastoral instinct is that this all resolves at the Cross. All talk of God must filter there. All views of God must refract there. All theology must converge there. At the Cross, God’s own wrath falls on God. The God of the Old Covenant meets himself in the Christ of the New Covenant, and in a way superior to everything that has come before, he enacts a deep and lasting reconciliation.”

But he then suggests, “But here’s the strangeness of it: The Cross is mostly God’s defiance of himself. God erects a nail house against his own wrath. What the Cross defies, what the Cross defeats, what the Cross pushes back, is as much the wrath of heaven as it is the power of hell.”

I found the nail house to be a distracting illustration – but more importantly, I find this picture of the meaning of the cross as God’s defiance of himself as inadequate. It is perhaps a natural corollary of  penal-substitutionary atonement, which I believe in but also believe is inadequate to describe the fullness of Christ’s sacrifice (thus why the NT writers use so many different analogies and terms to describe what Christ accomplished).

I’ve written somewhat of a pastoral/personal reflection which focuses on the cross here.

Gentiles in the Hands of a Genocidal God

Of all the articles present in CT on this topic, I was most disappointed by Phillip Cary’s article. While it provides a good explanation of herem (the Hebrew term for genocide) and hesed (a Hebrew term for lovingkindness). Cary’s article might be summed in this statement, “How then shall we read the Canaanite genocide? I would say: as Canaanites, prone to lead Israel astray, yet blessed by the faith of Abraham. This is a faith shared by Rahab in her lovingkindness toward Israel, and offered to Gentiles in Jesus Christ who is, as his genealogy attests, the son of Rahab as well as the son of David (Matt. 1:5–6).”

In my humble opinion, Cary punts the ball. He argues that the genocidal commands of God should result in us being thankful we have been spared rather than upset that God would command such genocide. But I’m not sure (okay, I’m certain) that being the recipient of a genocidal command in any way changes the morality of the genocide.

I understand what Cary is saying, I just wish he had taken us a little farther down the road.

Learning to Love Leviticus

The article and sidebar (“Sex in Leviticus”) by Christopher J. H. Wright are my favorites on this topic. Wright provides an interesting, reasonable, and understandable explanation of how the OT applies to our lives now. Statements such as this are representative of his sentiment, “To imagine that ‘living biblically’ means trying to keep as many ancient rules as possible just because they are in the Bible misses the point of the law in the first place. Old Testament law was not just about rules but also about relationship with God, founded on God’s grace and redemption, and motivated by the mission of living as the people of God in the world, so that the world should come to know the living God.”

Wright’s explanation of why we no longer follow the sacrificial and dietary laws of the OT are especially helpful. He concludes with a series of questions we can utilize when trying to connect the ancient laws of Israel with our current context which are insightful and extremely practical.

Overall, his article reminds me of Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton’s Old Testament Today: A Journey from original Meaning to Contemporary Significance – which I’d highly recommend as being a more extensive guide to understanding the OT.

Wright’s sidebar on love (hetero/homo) is interesting, controversial, and far too short. He takes the traditional position on homosexuality (it is sinful) based on Genesis 2:24 but qualifies by noting, “that the Bible has far more to say about all forms of disordered heterosexual sexual activity, including nonmarital and extramarital, than its prohibition of same-sex intercourse.”

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, CT provided a good introduction to the topic. I think there are a few things CT could have done to strengthen their coverage of the topic besides those noted above, specifically:

  1. Where was the historical perspective from Mark Noll? This could have provided an overview of other understandings of the atonement (ransom theory, Christus Victor, moral influence, satisfaction, and penal substitution) as well as traditional understandings of the cohesiveness between the OT and NT (for example, some inkling of the allegorical understandings of the early church fathers).
  2. Where was the more liberal perspective? If not providing it from a liberal author, at least a summary of this perspective would have been helpful (John Shelby Spong as an example).
  3. While the articles regularly mention that there are difficult passages in the NT on a similar level to those in the OT, there could have been article specifically dedicated to this topic. I’d especially like to see something looking at Jesus as portrayed in Revelation in contrast to Jesus in the Gospel and in comparison to the OT difficulty passages.
  1. [1]Which reminds me of Malcolm Boyd’s Are You Running with Me, Jesus? Whether this allusion is intentional on Buchanan’s part, I don’t know.

Mother’s Day.

So, this past Mother’s Day, Cassandra Frost (I say this humorously) decided to throw my world upside down by sending me a link to this blog post from The Messy Middle: “An Open Letter to Pastors {A Non-Mom Speaks About Mother’s Day}.” I then proceeded to read up on the subject – and if anyone else is interested in understanding the controversy (within and without Christian circles), here are the articles I came across…Bolded ones I found particularly interesting…

Now all those pastors like me can begin reading for next year. BTW, I’m not sure I’ve come to a good conclusion on this. Maybe I can just ban all non-church holidays and my life will be easier? =) I know, that would be too easy…Hmmm…

Mother's Day card
Mother’s Day card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Creating Custom Maps.

OpenStreetMap image of Cambridge
English: OpenStreetMap image of Cambridge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I want to create a custom map for our church. I want to highlight various places – such as other churches, apartment complexes, and non-profit organizations. How do I go about doing this? This is the question I set out with and here are the results of my research…

If you have additions, revisions, etc. please feel free to leave them in the comments or shoot me an email using the contact form. This resource will be evolving with time.

Major Map Players

Other Map Players

Google Maps Mashups

  • This section will include services that build on top of Google Maps and lack enough significant functionality to be considered a separate option from Google Maps itself.

 

Bibliography:

A Bigger List of Free eBooks…

Image representing Amazon
Image via CrunchBase

This was a much bigger task than I expected – but now it is done. I’ve collected a fairly large number of the free ebooks from Amazon and listed them below after categorizing them. Most I haven’t read, but thought they looked interesting, so I figured I’d share with you.

I also discovered this awesome site eReaderIQ which really accelerates the ebook finding process via Amazon (whether free or paid) by offering many more options for filtering and sorting results than Amazon provides…Definitely going to be a site I visit regularly.

Self-Improvement

Business

Christian Non-Fiction

Christian Fiction

Other Non-Fiction

Other Fiction

A Powerful Reading Lamp: Streamlight 61400 Enduro Impact Resistant Headlamp

When my wife goes to bed, I’m still a few hours from sleeping, but I oftentimes join her in the bedroom. How am I to stay productive and not lay restlessly awake for hours? Turning on a light will keep her awake, but without one I am unable to sleep.

This is what lead me to purchase a Streamlight 61400 Enduro Impact Resistant Headlamp off of Amazon. Granted, this is not what these headlamps where primarily designed for – I think they were mainly designed for use by contractors and such as they explore dark corners of our homes and offices…but it makes a great reading lamp.

With an adjustable band it fits snugly around one’s head (and I have a big head, so I’m sure it will fit your head) and offers two brightness levels – both of which are comfortable for reading with.

I’ve tried other types of lights – lights that attach to the book I’m reading and so on, but always found them awkward and cumbersome – and oftentimes too weak.

The Streamlight uses AA batteries and it couldn’t be simpler to swap them out. I now use the Streamlight all the time – for reading, for exploring dark crawlspaces or finding my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. For a few bucks – its a worthwhile investment.