Sunday, September 25, 2016

Classifying Mathematics

As an idle curiosity for some time, I've been trying to get my head around all the areas of the field of mathematics, and how to categorize them.

1. So first there's the way they are approached in education:
  • arithmetic (numbers and their relations)
  • algebra (I took in the 8th and 10th grades) 
  • geometry ( I took in the 9th grade)
  • analytical geometry and trigonometry (I took in the 11th grade)
  • calculus 1 and 2 (I took in the 12th grade)
  • calculus 3 (series, summations) and differential equations (I took first year of college)
  • My step-daughters have taken math courses I haven't: finite math and statistics.
  • I remember hearing about number theory in high school, which speaks patterns and tricks among numbers (prime numbers, how to tell if a number is divisible by 3 or 6, etc...)
2. Then I got called into ministry, but the Duke University math department seems to lay out what the rest of an undergraduate math degree would look like:
  • Linear Algebra (matrix algebra, vector spaces)
  • Abstract Algebra (group theory, ring theory)
  • Complex Analysis (doing calculus with imaginary numbers)
  • Topology, Differential geometry (this is geometry stuff on steroids)
  • Set theory
3. I also looked at how the Dewey Decimal System and the Library of Congress classify math.

Dewey Decimal System
Library of Congress













4. So here's my attempt to organize math in my own way.

I. Quantities and Their Relationships
  • arithmetic
  • number theory
  • set theory and logic 
  • probability, statistics, combinatorics (finite)
  • series and summations (infinites)
  • analysis (change: differential and integral calculus, complex analysis)
II. Spaces
  • geometry
  • analytical geometry
  • trigonometry
  • differential geometry
  • topology
III. Tools
  • algebra
  • linear algebra (including matrix algebra)
  • abstract algebra (group theory, ring theory)
  • differential equations
  • numerical analysis
OK, math people, critique?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Scott Burson's new apologetics blog

Scott Burson is a professor of philosophy at Indiana Wesleyan in the School of Theology and Ministry (STM). He has a penchant for apologetics but not business as usual apologetics. He's really beginning to make an impact in his field, and his latest book is about the theology of Brian McLaren, which he subtitles, "A New Kind of Apologetics." He thinks McLaren might have stayed a little more on the orthodox side of the line if he had known more about Wesleyan-Arminian theology.

Burson is an amazing teacher (puts me to shame). In fact, I'm hoping we can offer with him as professor an online philosophy course externally in the Spring through STM that is not actually aimed at existing IWU students but Christians who are at secular universities like IU or Purdue (as well as possibly advanced high school students). I am playfully calling it a "God is not dead" philosophy course for Christians at non-Christian schools, students who'd like to take philosophy from a Christian perspective and then transfer the credit back into their school. More on that to come.

In the meantime, I wanted to announce his new blog, A New Kind of Apologetics. He just made his second post. Check it out!

Gen Eds H5a: The French Revolution

This is the fifth post in the World History part of my "General Education in a Nutshell" series. This series involves ten subjects you might study in a general education or "liberal arts" core at a university or college. The first topic in the overall series was philosophy. So far in the world history section:
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V. From Cromwell to Napoleon
I haven't been able to complete these large sweeps in time for my regular Wednesday postings. So instead of putting off the post for another week, here is the first part of this fifth sweep. The sweep is from Oliver Cromwell in 1649 to the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. This installment is on the Napoleonic Wars.

The Napoleonic Wars
1. The Holy Roman Empire, which Hitler considered to be the first German "reich" or kingdom, was a collection of small "states" across central Europe that had existed at least since Otto I in 962. [1] Some date it back to Charlemagne in the year 800. It covered territory that today we call Austria, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Czech Republic, and parts of Italy, France, Poland, and more.

There were hundreds of these small states, free cities, and so forth. To get some sense of how small some of them were, think of the tiny nations of Luxembourg and Lichtenstein today, which are remnants of that era. Of course some were larger from time to time, like the Kingdom of Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). The economic and cultural devastation of communism in Eastern Europe in the late twentieth century makes us forget that some of these areas were once centers of civilization.

Napoleon put an end to this thousand year reich in 1806 when he formed the "Confederation of the Rhine" out of the German states he had defeated at the Battle of Austerlitz the previous year. That was the end of the third confrontation between broader powers like Russia and Austria with France. The reason these foreign powers were attacking France was because of the French Revolution, in which the masses had deposed and then executed King Louis XVI in 1793.

2. There are of course important lessons to be learned from the French Revolution. King Louis XVI was not entirely a bad king. In fact, he tried to diminish feudalism (the medieval system where landowners had power and the common person worked their lands). He tried to increase tolerance toward non-Catholics, remembering that France remained Catholic despite the Protestant Reformation of the 1500s. He tried to enact "Enlightenment" ideals (more to come) and supported the American Revolution. [2]

His deregulation of the grain market would probably be considered good long term economics today, but it led to a spike in bread prices at a time when grain was scarce. This was just one factor that led to revolt. Although there is no evidence she really said it, no doubt the fictitious quote of Louis' wife captures what the ordinary person thought was Louis' attitude. When told that the people did not have bread, Marie Antoinette is alleged to have said, "Then let them eat cake," not realizing that if they did not have bread, then they certainly did not have cake.

Louis' social conservatism, however, privileging the aristocracy and wealthy, would finally explode on him. Taxes were "regressive" at the time--the more you had the less you paid. Louis was slow to allow for popular representation in a National Assembly. At the time France was controlled by the upper 2%. This more than anything else--his slowness to give the masses representation and then his attempts to control the pressure cooker when it was forced upon him--was his undoing.

The French masses stormed the Bastille on July 14, 1789, the prison that symbolized the power of the monarchy. There were only seven prisoners at the time, but it was the beginning of the French Revolution.

One lesson is that you cannot expect to maintain a populace indefinitely by force. There have been dictatorships that have managed to do so by extreme force, but none of us would ever want to live there. The amount of power it takes to control a people on this level is both abhorrent and inherently unstable. Often such leaders are assassinated. Often there are multiple coups. Always, life under them is horrific.

Force cannot maintain society indefinitely, especially a society that is used to some degree of freedom. The only real long term solution is to find ways to assuage the discontent of the masses. Contentment doesn't trickle down. It has to be addressed at a grass root level. It is a long term struggle. Sometimes a discontent generation has to die off and the solution has to come with their children. To think that the answer is merely law and police is ignorant of history. It is certainly not the answer of a democracy.

3. Another lesson is that once the mob is in control, things go horribly out of control. They are bound to go horribly wrong for a season. Most revolutions go through a phase when lots of people die who were at peace or privileged before. This even includes reformers who had championed the interests of the masses before the revolution. The fire engulfs those who were trying to help or who were just by-standers. The fire often engulfs many of the revolutionaries themselves.

In France this period from 1793-94 is called the Reign of Terror. Nobles who had championed the people died at the hands of the people. Tens of thousands of people died all over France, over two thousand in Paris itself. Certainly King Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette were certainly some of the first. Many priests and nuns were executed, seen as complicit with aristocratic power. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, the man who proposed the machine to execute people humanely, was himself send to the guillotine, along with others like Antoine Lavoisier, the man who discovered oxygen.

For a horrible year, a "Revolutionary Tribunal" under the direction of Maximilien Robespierre, kept control of a chaotic situation with extreme violence, until he himself was finally guillotined. During that year, he abolished slavery in all of France's colonies. He also set up a "Festival of the Supreme Being," both in opposition to the control of the Catholic Church but also to atheism.

4. Napoleon supported the revolution and was in the army as its most gruesome phase was taking place. After rising through the ranks by his military prowess, he staged a coup that left him as First Consul of the new French Republic, then emperor. After his victory at Austerlitz he went on to defeat Prussia at Jena and Russians at Friedland. The turning point was Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812. The Russians scorched their own land to keep the French troops from eating off their own land. Then the harsh Russian winter severely diminished Napoleon's armies.

Then the French were decisively defeated at the Battle of Leipzig in 1813 in the largest battle in history prior to World War I. Napoleon was exiled. But he escaped and was not finally defeated until the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 in Belgium. This time he was exiled to the island of Saint Helena, where he died six years later.

5. Despite his military ambitions, Napoleon more or less put an end to feudalism in Europe, in which landowners held all the power over the common person. He put into effect "the Napoleonic Code," which created a single law for all people. It revolutionized the legal systems across Europe.

Next Week: Cromwell to the American Revolution

Major Take Aways:
  • Force does not work as a long-term solution to popular unrest. It simply increases the pressure, which eventually leads to great violence. Popular unrest ultimately has to be addressed at the popular level.
  • You can't control a mob. The fire of anarchy engulfs anyone in close proximity.
  • Don't invade Russia in winter.
[1] The French Voltaire (1694-1778) famously remarked that the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.

[2] The amount of money Louis spent helping America was part of his own undoing, since his own country was soon in economic crisis.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Before I die...

I've never formalized a bucket list, but it seems like an appropriate birthday to do so. So here it is:

1. Before I die, there are places I'd like to visit:
  • My remaining US states (Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington)
  • Australia, maybe New Zealand, China (Great Wall, Forbidden City), see Mt. Everest, Tibet, Moscow (maybe ride a train from Europe or take the Trans-Siberian express to China), India (Taj Mahal especially), Egypt, Netherlands, see the Amazon, maybe some Inca ruins, and go back to a lot of places I've already been.
2. Things I'd like to do
  • Run another marathon, maybe the Boston Marathon (laying aside an old goal to break a 5 minute mile, not sure I'll make a triathlon in Hawaii)
  • Finish a novel
  • Be able to play Liebestraum, Rondo Capriccioso, Clair de Lune on the piano 
  • Write something(s) that captures everything I think I know (maybe wait till after I'm dead to publish it)
  • Go on a safari in Africa
  • Paint something worth framing
3. Things I want to understand
  • Get to fluency in Spanish
  • Schroedinger's equation and a lot of quantum mechanics, special and general relativity 
  • Finish going through my physics, calculus, and chemistry books, maybe push beyond them...

Monday, September 19, 2016

Terrorism

It's called "asymmetrical warfare." It's when the enemy is not an easily identifiable entity. It's not a country, for example. It's not a centralized organization but often lone individuals or what we've come to call "terror cells." There may be leaders but we're talking more of a network than a bureaucracy. It's like the hydra of Greek myth--"Cut off one head and two more will take its place.

How do you fight terrorism?

1. Obviously you stop any individual enemies you can. This requires intelligence on possible plots.

2. To the extent that terrorist leadership can be identified, force does seem appropriate, whether by arrest or elimination. There are potential complications, though, where the consequences of forceful action are worse than biding time.
  • When the terrorist is in the sovereign territory of another country. You don't want to get into an unnecessary war with some country the terrorist is hanging out in.
  • When getting the terrorist would lead to unnecessary civilian casualties. 
3. The long term elimination of terrorism cannot be achieved by force. Force can have the same effect as stomping on an ant hill. In fact, the heavy handed use of force usually creates more terrorists. Force and indiscriminate rhetoric is actually a recruiting tool, both in the present and in impressionable children who become terrorists in a few years.

4. When intelligence is not available, the best way to foil terrorist attempts is a climate in which people want to report potential terrorist threats. This requires the good will of the people who would do such reporting, another reason why indiscriminate force and rhetoric are counterproductive.

5. One type of terrorist is like a child who wants attention and is acting out. The more attention you give the child, the more you feed the behavior. The more we freak out and talk it up, the more we feed the quest for fame and glory. This calls for firm but unaffected response.

6. Terrorism also emerges from a context of hopelessness. After all, it is not natural to blow yourself up. A culture where most of the citizens are at ease is not a culture likely to generate terrorism. So the normal goals of democratic society are the best long term solutions to terrorism--equal justice for all, economic empowerment for all.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Seminary PL23: The Third Mark of the Church

This is the ninth post on church management in my "Seminary in a Nutshell" series. In this series, I first did a section on the Person and Calling of a Minister. Now this is the twenty-second post in a section on the Pastor as a Leader (see at the bottom).

Last week I talked about the causes of church conflict. This week continues some posts on conflict management with a theological/historical post on the "third mark of the church."
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1. For the most part, if you were a Christian for the first thousand years of Christianity, you were part of the same church, the church catholic. There was a bishop structure held in common everywhere and, after about the year 600, the bishop of Rome held the most power, considering himself the "Pope." In 1054, the eastern and western church officially split, with the eastern church becoming the "Orthodox" church with the Patriarch of Constantinople as its highest ranking authority. The Pope then was the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the west.

Despite this split, both sides considered themselves "catholic" and held far more in common than distinct. The "marks" or key characteristics of the true church were found in the Nicene Creed of AD381. "We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church."

2. The Protestant Reformation of the 1500s predictably raised the question of what a legitimate church actually was. It was no longer "one" at least in terms of visible structure or organization. It did not look "catholic" or universal. It looked more like the schismatic groups that led Cyprian in around 251 to say that "there is no salvation outside the Church" (extra ecclesiam nulla salus). How do you tell which group is part of the true Church and what is just a bunch of people hanging out or worse?

John Calvin was the first one to tackle this question in depth. What are the marks of a true church given this new situation where you cannot identify the true church with any one visible organization? He and Luther quickly identified the first two Protestant marks of the church. A true church is a place where 1) the word is rightly preached and 2) the sacraments are duly administered.

Protestants soon added a third mark. A church is an organization that is "rightly ordered." It is, in other words, a place where there is accountability and discipline for its fellowship. This usually implies organization, authority, and structure of some kind.

3. When someone in a Christian fellowship gets off track and goes down a path contrary to Christ, is there any accountability? Is there anyone responsible to care for his or her soul? Is there anyone with the authority to protect the body of Christ by removing a corrupting influence or a rogue leader?

Church discipline has been a part of Christianity since its very beginning to today. In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul ousts a man sleeping with his step-mother from the church both to protect the church and in hope of the person's redemption. While some in the church today may confuse love with non-confrontation, there is no true church without accountability.

4. The classic church discipline text is Matthew 18:15-20. If a brother or sister in the church family wrongs you, go to them first privately. Then if they refuse to make appropriate changes, go again to them with one or two others, with "two or three witnesses." Finally it may become a matter of the whole congregation.

On the one hand, no one should take this pattern as a law. Matthew was written for a Jewish Christian community in the late first century AD. Different cultures and situations require us to take the basic principles and incarnate them in new times and places. Similarly, such biblical instructions were never meant to be exceptionless in the first place. They are guidelines to be implemented with common sense. Let us banish from church operations the immature application of Scripture!

The principles of the passage are accountability, respect, and final authority. Individuals cannot wrong others or corrupt the church and continue in the church's fellowship. This should not be a matter of punishment. It is a matter of protecting the church and working for that individual's redemption.

Respect is shown for the offending party. The first confrontation is private. There is no need for a repentant individual to experience shame before the whole body. The second confrontation is limited. There are witnesses, but the whole church need not get involved. Only as a last resort is the whole church involved.

5. We should still use common sense in various situations. The litigious nature of contemporary culture might suggest that two or three should be present in the very first interaction. Given the way churches are structured today, a pastor might profitably be involved in the first group confrontation. Perhaps the first confrontation might be with the pastor rather than completely alone.

Of course people often accuse others wrongly. We think we have been wronged when the problem is actually ours. Bullies often consider themselves the persecuted when they are called on their abusiveness. They may not even realize the trail of hurt they leave behind them.

Human nature often gossips about the wrongs done it and avoids even talking to the offender. This is the beauty of Matthew's instruction to approach the person in the wrong first. This is discretion. The gossip approach is cowardly and destructive.

6. It is best for a church to have specified who has the final authority to remove from office, expel, or take disciplinary action in the church. Such specifics should be in place long before a crisis. Denominations usually have such structures in place. Churches that are more congregational in structure should draft such policies as well, probably in consultation with legal advice.

In our world, a church needs to keep an eye to legal considerations. Our litigious society does not afford us the freedom to be "righteously indignant" in an irresponsible way. More than one church or Christian organization has come into legal trouble from reckless discipline.

This situation is not all bad because it helps remind us what the purpose of church discipline is. The purpose of church discipline is not to punish the wrongdoer. That is a less mature form of moral development, common though it is.

The purpose of church discipline is two-fold. It is to protect the church and to work for the redemption of the sinner. It is to protect the church because sin corrupts the church. Sin is contagious if left unchecked, not to mention the specific damage that can be done to individuals in the church.

But sin is damaging to the sinner, and not only eternally damaging. Sin is not wrong because it is the violation of law--again, a less mature moral perspective. Sin is wrong because it is damaging to self and others. Unchecked sin unravels the person doing the sin. Discipline has as one of its principal functions the redemption of the one in the wrong.

Next Sunday: Pastor as Leader 24: Basic Conflict Resolution

Leadership in General
Strategic Planning
Church Management
Conflict Management

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Crash Writing 1: Paul and the Law

Going to try to write the better part of a chapter today. The first section of the chapter is called "Paul and the Law." Here is the outline to fill in over the next five hours or so:

6.1.1 Paul's Many Uses of Nomos
  • The default reference of Paul's use of the word "law" (nomos) was to the Jewish Law... what else would it be?
  • It is true that Paul does some word games with the word nomos especially in Romans to mean something like "rule."
  • When Paul referenced the Law, he sometimes had different parts of the Law in view.
  • When Paul used the phrase, "works of Law," for example, he especially had in view those parts of the Law that served as ethnic boundaries between Jew and Gentile. 
  • At other times, such as when Paul spoke of upholding "law" (Rom. 3:31) or Gentiles keeping the Law (Rom. 2:14), he had something like the essence of the Law in view, which for him largely amounted to the love command (Rom. 13:10), which "fulfilled" the Law and was more or less what he meant by being "enlawed of Christ" (1 Cor. 9:21).
  • When Paul spoke of previously being "blameless" in relation to the "righteousnessness in the Law," he largely referred to the performance of "works of law" to the expected Pharisaic standard.
  • When Paul spoke in Romans 7 of not being able to keep the Law he referred more to the essence of the Law mentioned above, and he picks the one of the Ten Commandments that is often understood "internally."
6.1.2 Paul's Application of the Law
  • For Paul Gentiles were not "under the Law" but he expected them to live out the essence of the Law, love. The Holy Spirit empowered them to do such. 
  • He worked out these arguments in practice. So in 1 Corinthians, his approach is that "all things are lawful for me, but not everything is beneficial" (1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23). In 9:21 it is that he is "enlawed of Christ" although not technically under the Law.
  • But the bottom line remained. If you do not show appropriate works on the Day of the Lord, you simply will not make it (1 Cor. 6:9-10). Believers would be judged according to their works when they die (2 Cor. 5:10). We can work out a system, but it is not entirely clear that Paul did.
  • Did he expect Jews to continue to keep the Law? I suspect he more or less anticipated that they would and that he more or less did. However, he did not consider himself to be under the Law (1 Cor. 9:20) and argued strictly for justification by faith apart from works of Law (Rom. 3:28). 
  • The real problem for him was when "works of Law" came into conflict with the full inclusion of the Gentiles, such as happened at Antioch. When there was any conflict of this sort, especially one that threatened the unity of the body of Christ, the Law was out the window.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday Science: The First Day

1. As I was reading through the next chapter of The Road to Reality, I decided I was wasting my time for now. I'm not horrible when it comes to math and science. I want to understand. But I have experienced his words like having a map without any clue where you are on it. He needs a translator. :-)

2. So today I thought I'd work out the outline for an idea I had for a "novel" of sorts based on a post I did here a while back. The novel idea is "The First Day," namely, Genesis 1:1-3: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth, but the earth was formless and empty and darkness was over the face of the deep and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light."

So here's how I see the chapters going:

Chapter 1: In the beginning, God.
A little (Wesleyan) theology about God prior to creation :-)

Chapter 2: Let there be one.
So the second chapter of the novel would have God create math. He would create 1 out of 0. He would create multiples of 1. Not 100% sure what all I would do here, but it would be fun for nerds. This is the time of the universe before 10-43 seconds. The economic Trinity might be mentioned.

Chapter 3: Let the universe inflate.
The next chapter would deal with the time between 10-43 to 10-34. This is the time when all the forces are unified (so I would make up some grand unification theory, probably not string theory since for some reason I don't like it). The universe increases its size by 1026 times in less than a trillionth of a second. At the end of the period, the electroweak and strong nuclear forces differentiate, and there are gravitational ripples.

Chapter 4: Let there be quarks.
So the next time frame is 10-34 to 10-10. Matter and antimatter annihilate, leaving a lot of energy and a sliver of matter. Supersymmetry is broken, so time only flows one direction. The Higgs boson is frozen at a trillionth of a second. The electromagnetic and weak forces are differentiated.

Chapter 5: Let there be protons.
From about 10-10 seconds to three minutes, the universe cools enough from about 1015 to 1012 for quarks to stick together enough to form protons and neutrons. Dark matter is formed.

Chapter 6: Let there be light.
From about three minutes to 380,000 years, we basically have hydrogen and helium nuclei in a plasma state. There is darkness over the face of the deep, and the Spirit hovers over the face of the waters. But once the temperature of the universe cools down to about 3000K, actual atoms can form and the photons that had been absorbed by the plasma burst free and we have the cosmic background radiation we can still detect today.

Chapter 7: The universe rested.
For the next period, there is darkness again as atoms roam in gaseous clouds. Eventually, they will form stars.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Music Architect by Constance Cherry

The third book in Dr. Constance Cherry's worship trilogy has come out! The books are:
To celebrate, Dr. Cherry has her toes the colors of the three books. :-)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Harry Shepherd Prophecy 8

The eighth installment of my grandfather Shepherd's prophecy book, brought to you unedited from 1960, without comment.
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Before the great war broke out he had, in his research in chemistry, discovered a new process of fermentation by which to produce acetone, necessary for making cordite gunpowder. With the war's beginning he offered this information to the English officials. This gunpowder made naval guns effective. Early in the struggle a serious shortage of this gunpowder occurred. First Lord of the admiralty Winston Churchill engaged Dr. Weizmann to produce 30,000 tons of acetone to remove the powder shortage. In connection with his work for the war effort he pushed for Zionism and its aim for a Jewish home in the Holy Land and for the stand finally taken by the British Government in the Arthur James Balfour Proclamation, November 2, 1917. This Balfour Declaration stated that the British Government was in favor of a Jewish national home in Palestine and that it would put forth its efforts to achieve this goal. Though Dr. Weizmann was mainly responsible for the issuance of this Proclamation, God's hand may be seen further in the truth that some well-known British men, as Prime Minister Lloyd George, Mr. Churchill, Secretary Balfour and others who, loving the Bible and believing in it, had been taught that the Jewish return to the Holy Land would be a move of God. But at this time the Turks were still in control of the Holy Land. Earlier they had entered the war on the German, Austro-Hungarian side. Now they and English troops were fighting for its possession. The outcome of this struggle would decide the success or failure of Dr. Weizmann's efforts to obtain Palestine for a Jewish home under British control. As God was behind the Weizmann effort so now the Lord evidently stepped in to bring success to the English arms in order to clear the land of the Moslem Turks and make way for the Jewish return. This is evidenced by some providential things in connection with the following events: In the war the Germans considered the Suez Canal, controlled by England, the jugular vein of England's Empire. Britain was using it over which to bring troops from New Zealand, Australia and India and she was determined to hold on to it. She gathered troops in Egypt and sent an expedition against the Turks into the southern part of the Holy Land. This had bogged down around Beersheba and Gaza for a while. In my opinion God moved on the mind of prime minister Lloyd George* to cause him to call from the western battle front in France, the brilliant cavalry General Sir Edmund Allenby and place him in command of the foregoing Palestinian expedition, in July 1917. Two things in connection with General Allenby's command of the British Army providentially help to break the morale of the Turkish army and eventually to give the victory to the English. One was the Arab proverb which held that when the waters of the Nile River reached the Holy Land the Turks would lose Jerusalem. General Allenby in his advance into the land brought along with his army of twelve-inch pipeline conveying daily 600,000 gallons of Nile water. This carry out of the Arab proverb put fear into hearts of the Moslem Turks. The second thing which help break Turkish morale was the fact that Allenby's name could be read in Arabic Allab Nebl—meaning Prophet of God and this put another fear into their hearts. Allah was the name of God in the Mohammedan or Moslem religion. With these providential helps coupled with Allenby's brilliant generalship God brought the fall of the Holy City of Judaism, Jerusalem, December 9th, 1917, the clearing later of Palestine of the power of the Turks to the Euphrates River and the signing on October 31, 1918 of a Turkish armistice. On November 11, 1918 the great war ended all over the world in eleven days after this armistice, after God's purpose to wrest the land from the Turks was accomplished, thereby advancing the furtherance of his four promises to Abraham.

When British Prime Minister David Lloyd George called General Allenby in June 1917, from France to take charge in July of the expeditionary forces from Egypt he informed Allenby that he desired Jerusalem for a Christmas present for the English people. For 673 years it had been under the control of those of the Mohammedan or Moslem faith, 400 years of which was under the Turks. The Crusaders in eight religious crusades had been unable to rescue it permanently from the Moslems. Why did the Christian General Allenby succeed when others had failed? It seems to me the only answer is God. Allenby was God's man for this hour and this was God's hour for His purpose for the Jews.

According to Ezekiel 38:8, 12 and 16 in the latter days and latter years—the days of our generations—there would be a gathering of Israel out of the nations into the Holy Land which had been brought back from the sword. It is a known fact that the Moslem religion is a faith that has been propagated by the sword. Its founder Mohammed declared that to spread this religion by the sword was the will of God. Then this bringing back of the land from the sword would be ridding it of the Turks and the control of the Moslem faith. This event was to be near the end of this Gospel Age when men in their greed, covetousness and lust for power would help set the stage for the last great events in human affairs before Christ's coming back to take over control of this world. World War I was the beginning of the setting of this stage. For Jewry it opened the almost closed door to Palestine. In April 1920, just after the war, England was given the Mandate for the Holy Land and during her almost thirty years mandate 500,000 Jews entered the land of their fathers. Thus World War I brought to pass the second phase of God's work to rid the land of the Turks, put it under the control of a nation in favor of it as a homeland for the Jews and to inaugurate the earlier parts of the modern fulfillment of God's Promise One to Abraham to Make Him a Nation.

* Truth about Lloyd George and General Allenby’s Palestinian Campaign obtained from Wm. L. Hull’s book “The Fall and Rise of Israel”, published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, pages 125-130, used by permission. The Abrahamic application is our own.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Seminary PL22: Causes of Conflict

This is the eighth post on church management in my "Seminary in a Nutshell" series. In this series, I first did a section on the Person and Calling of a Minister. Now this is the twenty-first post in a section on the Pastor as a Leader (see at the bottom).

Last week I talked about hiring, recruiting, and firing in the church. This week begins some posts on conflict management.
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1. In article he titles, "Understanding the Four Forces That Control Church Change," Bob Whitesel enumerates four key causes of change: 1) life cycle forces, 2) goal-oriented forces, 3) conflict-oriented forces, and 4) trend-oriented forces. [1] Today I want to look at these four forces of change as sources of potential conflict.

2. The first driver of change has to do with the life-cycle of a church or organization. David Moberg and others have talked about five stages in a stereotypical church's life. [2] The first is the initializing, birth stage. The second is an organizational phase of high vitality. A third is a kind of equilibrium or peak phase. Then there is often a decline phase, sometimes thought of as an "institutional" or "bureaucratic" phase. Finally there is death.

When a church starts, it usually has plenty of enthusiasm but perhaps not a lot of organization and it may not have many resources. There can be the kinds of conflicts that come from ambiguity, contrasting visions, even conflict from the physical, mental, and emotional stress that comes from what inevitably will require work that goes well beyond the norm.

As the church grows, there will probably be stress from the need to organize and create systems. People will need to let go of controlling things that they could control when the church was a smaller size. More staff will need to be hired. More people will mean more potential for conflict among the church leadership. [3]

There will be the fewest life-cycle conflicts in the peak or equilibrium phase. Things are going well. The church seems to be running smoothly.

But this stage often leads to a period of bureaucracy and institutionalization. The church or organization has begun to decline but not everyone realizes it. There may be a "hubris born of past success," an undisciplined expansion that assumes resources will always be there, a denial of risk or peril. [4] Those who see where things are going (and where they have been) may try to get things going but may face resistance by the status quo. Conflict is inevitable.

The disintegration/death phase may involve conflict over scarcity of resources. On the other hand, some are quite content to be in control of less and less until the end.

3. Goal-oriented conflict results when the leadership of a church, perhaps even significantly informed by the congregation, comes against others who do not like change or do not like the direction of the goals. Some may leave the church if they are disgruntled enough. Others may agree with the goal but be frustrated by the execution or movement toward the goal. Some may like the goal in theory but not realize the cost of getting there.

4. What Van den Ven and Poole call "dialectic" forces of change are tensions between different parties within the church or organization. They use the terms "thesis" and "antithesis," alluding to the philosopher Hegel's sense that our stories are often a series of conflicts between new ideas and their opposition. In a body, the significance of such conflict depends on its intensity, the level at which the conflict is taking place, and the percentage of the church involved.

So if two key leaders are feuding over ideas or direction, that conflict is going to have an immense affect on the rest of the church. If two members of the congregation are in series conflict but the conflict takes place outside the church, it may not have a great impact. But if their conflict spreads to others and begins to affect the worship and functioning of the church, then it becomes more and more significant.

5. Finally, there are what Whitesel calls "trend" and Van den Ven and Poole call "evolution" forces of change. These have to do with external pressures and forces on the church/organization. If the demographic of the church's neighborhood changes significantly, then it will begin to exert pressures on the church. Should the church change its goals and style to minister better to its changing environment? Should it consider changing locations?

City laws and codes can create tension and conflict. The government can impose laws that create stress on the church's finances to conform. These are sources of change a church has to deal with and thus potential sources of conflict.

Next Sunday: Pastor as Leader 23: The Third Mark of the Church

[1] Whitesel here is drawing on Andrew van de Ven and Marshall Poole, Handbook of Organizational Change and Innovation (Oxford: Oxford University, 2004). They give more technical names for these forces: 1) life-cycle, 2) evolution (environment), 3) dialectic (thesis-antithesis), and 4) teleology (7).

[2] For how to pull out of the cycle, see my good friend Charles Arn's book, How to Start a New Service (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1997). See especially p. 34.

[3] Although I believe that petty conflicts among members of the congregation decrease as the church size increases--or at least those conflicts cease to have much impact on the church as a whole.

[4] See Jim Collins, How the Mighty Fall (2009).

Leadership in General
Strategic Planning
Church Management

Saturday, September 10, 2016

5.2 The Ohm's Law Formula

This is the second week of Module 5 in the Navy Basic Electricity and Electronics series. This module is on the relationships between current, voltage, and resistance. The first section was:

5.1 Voltage, Resistance, and Current

1. You can calculate the current in a system without shutting it down and measuring it. You can use "Ohm's Law" if you know the voltage and the resistance. The formula is:

E=IR

The voltage equals the current times the resistance. We can rearrange the formula as well. Current equals the voltage divided by the resistance, and the resistance equals the voltage divided by the current.

2. You can use this formula for an entire circuit. You can also use it for a distinct part of a circuit.

3. There can be more complex situations where the value of one resistor is known but not the value of another. In such cases, knowing algebra will come in handy so that you can set up an equation and then solve for the unknown.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Friday Science: Complex Number Calculus

This is my post on the seventh chapter.

This isn't going to be long. I generally read the chapter. I didn't really understand the chapter. I think what he was calling contour integrals is probably called a surface integral on this side of the pond.

Here's a quotable: "Complex smoothness throughout some region is equivalent to the existence of a power series expansion about any point in the region" (139). Here's another: "Perhaps the most important unsolved mathematical problem today is the Riemann hypothesis, which is concerned with the zeros of this analytically extended zeta function, that is, with the solutions of ζ(z)=0."

Well, those are things I don't really understand, but they seemed significant. :-) Throughout this chapter I kept thinking about something he said in his preface about being discouraged by his publisher from going so technical. I don't mind him going deep. I don't mind not understanding. I'm just pretty sure that if I understood this chapter, I still could have explained it a lot better.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Thursday Novel Excerpt: New York 4

The Fall of New Amsterdam
Continued from last week
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Roelof was prepared to fight the English with Stuyvesant, but everyone pleaded with Stuyvesant to sign a treaty instead. They were hardly any match for the four English warships sitting on the Hudson. Besides, these sorts of decisions would ultimately be decided by the powers back home and battles largely fought elsewhere. Their life was good. Why mess with it over someone else's ambitions?

The Dutch settlers were used to war. The "Eighty Year War" for Dutch independence from the Spanish had just finished in 1648, along with the "Thirty Year's War" in central Europe. The conflict was a string of battles stretched out over decades, with now the surrogates of the Spanish winning here, now those wanting independence winning there. The common European had come to see the senselessness of it all.

Life went on for the ordinary Dutch person. Powerful people did their thing. Occasionally they took your son to fight with one or another of them.

There were four Dutch "wars" between the English and the Dutch those next few years. The first took place just after Roelof came to New Amsterdam and didn't involve the colony at all. The second took place just after the English took the settlement, from 1665-67, but New York stayed in English hands.

Roelof was excited when for about a year (1673-74), the Third Dutch War resulted in the Dutch taking back the settlement. For a span of about 16 months, the town was renamed "New Orange." But the Titans elsewhere gave it away again, and it has been New York ever since.

Again, life went on. Whatever happened was God's will. Someone built a saw mill, then a leather mill on the island now known as Manhattan. Roelof was on town councils and was a church elder. Whether the English or the Dutch had a governor, his role pretty much stayed the same. He farmed. He prospered. He was involved in government. He had eleven children.

When the first Dutch Reformed Church was built in Flatlands around 1661, Roelof and his brother Jan were there, the first of the church's members. When the English recognized his village as a true town in 1667, he was there. In 1673, the English appointed him as a representative of that town and he was elected as a lieutenant of its militia.  In 1689 he served as the justice of Kings County.

In 1676 he had four horses, ten cows, 3 hogs. He had bought four slaves by 1698. By the year 1700, slavery was becoming a permanent state rather than servitude for a time. The Dutch were some of the worst slave-traders in that period.

In 1672, his wife Neeltje died, so he remarried to Anekke Pieterse Wyckoff in 1675. Then she died and he married the widow Katrina Cruiger in 1688.

Katrina was a widow of some means, with a child from the previous marriage. She was also thirty-seven--thirty-two years younger than him. This would require some careful legal pre-arrangement...

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Harry Shepherd Prophecy 7

This is the seventh installment of my grandfather's prophecy book. I present his words exactly as they were in 1960 without evaluation. They are very interesting from a historical perspective.
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It is my belief which can be backed up by numbers of examples, that God in His eternal purpose at certain and at critical times has His man for that particular hour who may be Christian or sometimes non-Christian. He, by God's overruling power, turns some situation in a direction it would not have gone and by this turn God's eternal purpose is eventually or immediately reached. An example of this is to be seen in Abraham Lincoln the savior of his country 100 years ago. Such also was the situation in the Jewish world in the early 1890’s when God was stirring up Jewry. Anti-Semitic outbreaks in Russia, Germany and in France in connection with the unfair treatment of a Jewish French army officer named Dreyfus, had occurred. God needed a modern Moses to lead His people and help them respond to the urge to return to the land of the Jewish fathers—the Holy Land. That man for that hour was Theodor Herzl,* a Jew born in Hungary 100 years ago (1860). He completed his education from the University of Vienna with the degree Doctor of Laws. Within one year he took up journalism and writing which carried him to France at the time of the persecution of Dreyfus. Stirred by this case he became the leader of the Jewish return under Zionism partly, at least, through his book Der Judenstaat—The Jewish State and was princely chairman of the first Zionist Congress. In 1949, forty-five years after his death in 1904, his body was taken by airplane from Vienna to the Holy Land and buried on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, after his coffin had been viewed by thousands of appreciative Jews of the new Israeli nation which he had helped to found. Before his death he had written, "God breaks the instruments that have served his purpose. No Moses ever enters the Promised Land."†

At the death of Herzl time was ripening for God to put His hand into world affairs in order to verify to Abraham in the modern world His first promise to make Abraham a great nation. As the Moslem Turks were in control of Palestine and as they would not sell it to Jews and vacate it, God must now channel some ambition of some nation to bring about phase number two—the passing of the control of the Holy Land into the hands of some nation favorable to a Jewish home in it. Again we will see that God had another man for this hour to follow Theodor Herzl. He was the Jew, Chaim Weizmann, Born in the Russian Pale in Motol in 1874. Educationally he achieved a doctorate and became a lecturer in science and a research chemist. In 1904 he moved to England, took up work as a lecturer in chemistry in Manchester University and in 1907 took a three-weeks trip to Palestine. Out of this visit came enthusiasm and plans for Zionism and the Holy Land. These were pushed by him after he came in touch with three members of the First World War British cabinet—namely Prime Minister David Lloyd-George, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill and British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour. This work of Dr. Weizmann and more we shall mention was in divine order, in order to carry out God's eternal purpose and verify His promises to Abraham.

At this point in world affairs we can see a clear fulfillment of the Bible statement, "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain" Psalm 76:10. in 1908 Austria Hungary had annexed the two Serb (now called Yugoslavia) provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This stirred the range of the Serbians and they formed a terrorist society called the Black Hand, with which to retaliate. Partly, at least, through the meddling of some big European powers the Balkan states, aroused with fierce nationalism, were a veritable European powder keg. The Austro-Hungarian rape of the two provinces above was the fuse to the powder keg. What would be the match by which the fuse would be ignited? The following circumstances were the match which set the fuse afire that ignited the powder keg. Around 10 a.m. June 28th, 1914, the heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife went to Sarajevo, the capital of the Bosnian Providence. While they were motoring from the town hall a Black Hand Serbian terrorist boarded the running board of their car and shot both of them to death. This gave Austria Hungary the excuse to declare war finally on little Serbia (Yugoslavia) which set off the largest war, up to that time, in the annals of mankind—World War I. In this war God channeled the wrath of contending armies to His praise and to the forwarding of phase two—the changing of the control of Palestine. Dr. Weizmann had a very important part under God in helping make this change possible.

* Page 120, used by permission. Information on Theodor Herzl, his birth and work. Also on Mr. Chaim WEizmann, his birth and work from Wm. L. Hull's book "The Fall and Rise of Israel", published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, pages 109-123, used by permission.
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† "The Fall and Rise of Israel", by Wm. L. Hull, page 114, used by permission.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Seminary PL21: Hiring, Recruiting, and Firing

This is the seventh post on church management in my "Seminary in a Nutshell" series. In this series, I first did a section on the Person and Calling of a Minister. Now this is the twentieth post in a section on the Pastor as a Leader (see at the bottom).

Last week we looked at what good communication looks like. Today reflects on the question of hiring, recruiting, and firing in the church.
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1. The process of hiring a lead pastor may be somewhat set depending on the denomination. In churches with an episcopal form of government, priests or senior pastors are appointed by bishops or a hierarchy that stands above the local church. In congregational forms of government, the local church is responsible to find its own next pastor. In more presbyterian church forms there can be some form of cooperation between local church and hierarchy.

For example, the Wesleyan Church has a somewhat presbyterian form of church governance. In this form, local churches vote on who their next pastor will be. In the past, the local church has played the dominant role, with the local church board often playing the role of a search committee. However, as such pastors become part of the district in which that church is located, the incoming pastor also has to be approved by the district that "receives" his or her credentials.

In the presbyterian form of government, there is usually a known network of pastors that provides a pool of possible pastoral replacements. District superintendents can play a more or less active role in coordinating the new hire.

2. In many churches like the Wesleyan Church (WC), the lead pastor plays a key role in the hiring of any other pastors and the pastoral staff. In fact, in the WC, all ministers have to resign at least as a formality when a senior pastor resigns. That allows the new pastor to have the ministerial team that he or she hires, and of course that new team can include members from the previous pastor's team.

In episcopal forms of governance, all the ordained ministers of the church are appointed by the hierarchy. Some staff, on the other hand, may outlast these appointments, since some episcopal churches move pastors fairly often.

3. The "who" of a church, of any organization, is an extremely important element in what identity and direction it takes. That is, unless the denomination as a whole has such a set and prescribed identity and direction that the people involved make little difference. The more institutionalized the church, the more cultural or habitual the attendance, the less significant the individual leaders, their giftedness, their gifts and graces become.

On the other hand, if the local church to some extent sets its own mission and vision, its own individual direction, then who is on the bus and what seats they sit in, becomes incredibly significant. "You need the right people on the bus, and the right people in the right seats on the bus." [1] Jim Collins' research suggests that you won't really best know where an organization is going until you know who is there--"First Who--then What." [2]

Hiring is thus one of the most important things that an organization does.

4. If a church is to work as a team--which seems obvious from a theological standpoint (cf. 1 Cor. 12), then hiring pastors and staff who work well together would seem to be a primary goal. It is often the case that having individuals who work well with others is more important to the thriving of a team than having individuals with extreme talent. [3]

This is one of the problems with the modern university. Universities tend to hire lone ranger scholars who are primarily interested in their own research but with little team spirit for the university as a whole. Needless to say, over time this does not create an environment that is pleasant to work in, nor is it attractive to prospective students, nor does it create an environment in which the university will thrive in a changing world. A college with lesser (but competent) scholars, but with people who enjoy each other and believe in the mission of the university, is going to thrive much more than a place where a lot of research is done, but all the professors are just out for themselves.

A church shouldn't hire in desperation, nor should it expect perfection. You don't want to hire a pastor that you will never be able to get rid of, nor do you want the church to steadily atrophy because you are in some never-ending interim. No pastor is going to be perfect. No congregation is going to be perfect. We all have to give each other some lee-way. Once the weaknesses of a situation are clear, we support in the weak areas.

5. Pastors tend to have different personalities. There is, for example, the preaching/teaching pastor. This is the thinker whose strongest suit is the Sunday morning sermon. [4] Then there is the "pastoral care" pastor. This pastor's strong suit is counsel, visitation, and caring for the people in the congregation. Then there is the "administrative" pastor, the one who is good with the "bookkeeping" of the church.

A congregation may have to put up with less than inspiring sermons from a pastor who is nevertheless an extreme encouragement one-on-one. And a church may take pride in a pastor who knows how to manage a church well, even if that particular pastor is not known for his or her sermons or individual care. For those churches that are well-funded enough to hire multiple staff, you will want to have the right personalities in the right seats on the bus.

6. For thriving, "mission fit" is extremely important when a church or organization is on a mission. It is more important than individual talent, just as "team fit" is more important for thriving than individual talent. This should be obvious from the definition of mission. If the mission of a church or organization is to be or do something, then individuals who distract from this mission are harmful to the purpose of the church.

Of course sometimes the stated mission is not the "real" mission. Who you hire and retain creates the mission of your church or organization far more than some official statement on the books. You may say you are a church that exists to spread the good news, but if you hire and retain individuals who don't care about spreading the good news, that is not really your mission.

7. An article in Forbes magazine suggests "7Cs" for hiring new people: [5]
  • competent (base line)
  • capable (has capacity for growth)
  • compatible (team fit)
  • commitment (for long term)
  • character (mission fit, in one area)
  • culture (culture fit)
  • compensation (will they be content)
A good list!

8. It is usually much harder to remove someone who is damaging an organization than it is to hire someone new. Large turn-over in an organization is a bad sign in itself. It could suggest a number of things. It could suggest a shallow pool from which to hire. It could suggest that those in charge of hiring do not have a good sense of who is best to hire. It could suggest that the workplace is such an unpleasant place to work that employees soon are looking to go somewhere else once they arrive and realize the culture.

When I was a seminary dean, I boasted to new professors that once they were hired, it was extremely unlikely that they would be unhired. I joked of a certain "eternal security" once they were hired. Of course I also made it clear that I was being tongue in cheek, but this is indeed the kind of work environment you hope will be the case, where hiring is done right so that individuals will scarcely ever have to be removed.

Sometimes a person is a positive contributor, but not in the right place in the organization. A good church or organization wants its staff and pastors to succeed and so will have a bias to retain. Obviously if an organization is always moving people around, it can be a sign that someone lacks the courage to bite the bullet and let some people go (and again, that someone does not know how to hire the right people). This is a long term problem. But as a Christian I admire the impulse to want to retain if possible.

Hard choices are better made on the front end than on the back end.

9. But there is clearly a time when a pastor or staff person needs to go. This can be difficult in the congregational system, where there is no hierarchy to pull the trigger. Church splits sometimes result as part of the congregation goes off with the old pastor to start a new church.

If a staff person is not doing what his or her role is supposed to do, then the longer that person stays in that position, the longer that part of the church will suffer or fail. Give the person adequate notice, make the hard choice, and then hopefully the right hire next time will move the mission forward.

Sometimes leaders can take a more subtle approach. The job description of a lackluster employee can be changed enough to where the person self-selects to leave. Sometimes an employee is connected in some way to powerful forces in the church that would create a huge stink if their incompetent or divisive favorite were removed. The church's finances or half the church's attendance might be at stake.

One technique is to work around the person. You can hire individuals whom you slowly load up with the real responsibilities, while there becomes less and less for the incompetent or divisive favorite to do. If the work around is successful enough at their work, there may be a point where the favorite is simply not needed.

The direct approach is however much more ideal, especially when it is supported by data. In our litigious environment, an employer who lets someone go should have a file they have collected with appropriate evidence to support the action. It goes without saying that no one should be fired for prejudicial reasons. Gender, race, ethnicity should play no role in firing someone. Sometimes the problem is the person doing the firing, not the person being fired.

10. It is not healthy or desirable for the official staff of a church to do all the work. We can debate the original meaning of Ephesians 4:11-12, but the meaning that the Spirit seems to be using the most in our current age is that one of the roles of church leadership is to "equip the saints for the work of the ministry." That is to say, the lay people in a church should be heavily involved in the mission and ministry of the church.

That means that a significant percentage of the work of the church should be done by "volunteers." Those who teach Sunday School (if your church still has it), those who are on the church board, those who greet and take up the offering, often the musicians of a church--most of the time these individuals are not paid staff but volunteers who attend the church. Youth sponsors, guardians on trips that the children and youth take, there is no end to the roles volunteers often play in the church.

It is often harder to get rid of a bad volunteer than it is to get rid of a bad employee. Again, this calls for great care on the front end to avoid conflict on the back end. There are ways to try to channel people in profitable directions. Spiritual gifts tests, although they are often only a shadowy image of what the Bible was actually getting at, might help provide some rationale for who does what. Strengthsfinder is perhaps a more helpful tool.

Having roles on rotations means that you won't have to live with someone in a certain role forever. Try to create opportunities for young blood to get opportunities. A church where seniority decides who gets to do what is a church that is bound not to have the best people in the best roles, although feelings often run high around sacred spots. Best to set the ground work for rotation long before there are any elections or appointments.

11. In many churches, the problem is not having enough volunteers. You don't want the good volunteers you have to burn out or go somewhere else, so recruitment becomes important. Good leaders train and equip new leaders. So pastors and lay leaders should always be on the look out for individuals that might be mentored to become future volunteers for key roles.

If the church is not growing, however, there won't be a healthy pool from which to recruit volunteers.

Next Week: Pastor as Leader 22: Causes of Conflict

[1] A common leadership saying, not least by John Maxwell, although he did not originate it. David Maxwell is sometimes mentioned as a source.

[2] Good to Great.

[3] See Patrick Lencioni's, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and our post on healthy teams.

[4] I'm not talking about official roles here, but individual personalities and strengths.

[5] "The 7 C's: How to Find and Hire Great Employees," Forbes (June 19, 2012).

Leadership in General
Strategic Planning
Church Management