Thursday, April 11, 2024

Eid Prefer Not

 At the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, we have Eid, which is the end of the fast and a time for everyone to get the hell out of Dodge, wherever Dodge happens to be for each individual. Half of these individuals appear to have come to Bali, as the beaches and the streets are jam-packed with people on foot, in cars, and of course on motorbikes. Seemingly millions of motorbikes. My usual 7 minute trip home after evening coffee in Sanur took more like 20 minutes this evening. And it was not a leisurely 20 minutes, or a pleasant 20 minutes, or a relaxing 20 minutes. It was 20 minutes of hell on wheels! To make matters worse, there was some kind of ceremony or celebration at the banjar near my house which complicated the situation considerably. But I am home now and have given six waiting dogs their evening treats and then disrobed and disengaged my silly hernia belt, which came in the mail just today. I don't know that the damn thing does much, other than press on the hernia, but it will need further experimentation in the form of a walk to see if it is comfortable enough or whether it ought better to be stored in a drawer along with other useless items I have purchased in the past. No chance of a walk this evening though, as it is deadly humid outside and about to rain I believe. Everyone is going somewhere for Eid, all at the same time, and somehow, miraculously, they all seem to end up in the same place at the same time no matter what place that might be. So happy Eid to all, although Eid rather do without it.

Friday, April 5, 2024

A Table for Two

 I watched two depressing documentaries in the last week--something called God and Country, which is about the calamity called Christian Nationalism, and the other The Truth Vs Alex Jones. Well, one and a half, I should say, as I could not finish God and Country. It was simply too dreary. Heartbreaking, really. How in the world can these people have gotten so confused? Of course they were led. But how then could they have been stupid enough to follow? It is a shame, pure and simple, and an insult to the true faith. Has the world always been this full of hucksters? Well, I suppose it has, and I suppose people have always been carried away by various brands of brave sounding nonsense. 

Of course, the Jones documentary was keenly depressing as well, but I watched it to the end, wanting to see him suffer some punishment that might inflict some fraction of the pain he inflicted on his innocent victims. But this was not to be had. Sure, he suffered a judgment in the form of millions of dollars--but then simply declared bankruptcy and is still on TV broadcasting his idiotic, and often dangerous conspiracy theories. I don't know what I expected. Maybe some sort of particularly gruesome medieval torture? Not sure if even that would have been sufficient though. 

On a positive note, I happened to stop into PeriPlus bookstore today and found Table for Two, a collection of short stories by Amor Towles, one of our very best contemporary American writers. Coincidentally, a series is currently running on IMDb based on Towles' novel A Gentleman in Moscow, which is looking, after one episode, very well done indeed. 

Sunday, March 31, 2024


 For the past week or so I have been blocking stuff that has just suddenly appeared on my Facebook. It's not stuff that I would ever want to be exposed to, and yet it has somehow appeared of its own accord. It is as of some evil entity has looked into everything that I don't like and then bombed my Facebook feed with it. Admiring cult crap about Trump, for instance. Multiple posts about trans kids or sexual identity issues featuring people who are huffing and puffing about how you can't do that, a man is a man and a woman is a woman and blah blah blah. Tedious. And then there are sites championing the Confederacy and the heroes of the Confederacy. Where the hell did that come from? I mean, I've always been interested in the Civil War, but the war is over, okay? Do we really have to point this out? The South will not rise again. And oh by the way, the war really was about slavery. Sorry, that's just a fact. What else? Ah, many posts featuring screaming Palestinians and outrage at the evil nation of Israel. I do sympathize with the Palestinians and with the suffering that is currently taking place, but I don't need the propaganda and the ear shattering chants. It is not a solution. The trouble is, the more I block all of these posts, the more they continue to appear. It's like a virus on my phone. But I am as stubborn and as persistent as these cyber intruders, and my fingers can still do the walking, or rather the blocking, as long as it takes.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

The Rapture Exposed

 If i knew the world were going to end  tomorrow I would plant a tree. 

--Martin Luther 

I came upon this quote from Luther the other day as I began to read into Barbara Rossing' s The Rapture Exposed, and although I had known of the quote beforehand, I found that it inspires new rumination. What it says in essence is that hope springs eternal, that ends are always beginnings, that the spirit never dies but always answers by going forward, living anew. God is good, and God is forever and will forever be with us. 

In The Rapture Exposed, Rossing carefully and succinctly dissects, dismantles, and refutes the end times fantasies so popular in certain parts of the church for the past half century and more, as typified in books by Hal Lindsay and the widely read Left Behind series of novels and so on. The rapture! The tribulation! Pre-, mid- and post tribulation. Take your pick. Whatever flavor of falsehood suits you, because it is all falsehood, a hodgepodge of cherry picked verses, all out of context and purpose, designed to arrive at a scenario conjured up in the late 19th century. But, as Rossing says, God saves us

 ...not by snatching us out of the world, but by coming into the world to be with us. This is the central message of Jesus's incarnation and of the Bible.

I noticed a religious debate on Facebook a few days ago concerning the so-called rapture, and in particular a comment from one person who had confidently laid out the whole floor plan of the rapture scenario, having obviously lifted this straight from the pages of one book or another on the subject.

I decided to reply to her comment, and to ask her whether it bothered her at all that the rapture she was talking about had gone completely unnoticed through 18th centuries of Christian theology. How is it that our most distinguished and honored theologians and philosophers had missed this for so many hundreds of years?

"I don't care what they say," the woman answered. "I rely on what the holy spirit tells me."

Well one can hardly argue with that. Or with the holy spirit, I mean. My goodness. How are we to refute what the holy spirit says to this random woman? Eighteen centuries be damned.

So I wished her a good day and went on my way, despite several additional extra-Biblical instructions and lessons that showed up in my feed.

There was a time when I also believed in the rapture, simply because I was a new Christian and this was what I was being told. I attended an Assemblies of God church at that time and heard about the rapture every Sunday, either in sermon or in song.

Ultimately, I was disavowed of this belief by actual knowledge of scripture--what it said, what was meant. I saw where things had been twisted and tortured, misinterpreted, and then all scrambled together in hideous disregard of orthodoxy to build the ramshackle platform of modern end times theology. And it hurt me. Because God himself is misrepresented, from the pulpit to the rooftops, from the TV screen to the big screen and on the printed page. The great majority of churches reject rapture theology as non-biblical, nonetheless these teachings ride on the wings of popular culture and reach both believers and non-believers through the modern electronic media so that Christianity is now seen through this distorted lens. And I for one don't know how this can possibly be undone. It is the central heresy of our time, it is epidemic, and though the antidote, scripture, is readily at hand, people refuse to take it. Sounds eerily familiar, doesn't it?

Nonetheless, I plant a tree, and I do so daily.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Things of Little Importance

Just thought I would stop by briefly to mention a few things that will be a little importance to those not living in Indonesia.

I learn today in reading the Sanur Weekly that a large number of people were caught ignoring Nyepi, the Balinese day of silence when people are expected to stay indoors, make no noise, and use no lights. The majority of violations were committed by Indonesian citizens, although a number of foreigners were also found to be at fault. Most were merely told to go back to their hotels, although some were detained and later question by Indonesian immigration authorities. One Russian woman decided it would be a good idea, for some reason, to wander the streets even though she had already overstayed her visa by more than 60 days. No doubt she will regret her excursion, as she will soon be deported. A family from Jakarta enjoyed a drive in their car on the completely empty roads, saying when caught by the police that they had not realized they were supposed to stay inside. Given that there is no such thing as empty roads in Bali, this excuse is fairly hard to swallow.

In another article, we are told that tourist arrivals in Bali are up by 21% from the same time in 2023. During the first two months of 2024, a total of 3,550,108 domestic and international tourist arrivals were recorded compared to the 2,933,636 arrivals during the same period in 2023. So much for the dire predictions of ruination of the tourist industry that would follow COVID.

Speaking in terms of millions, it is forecast that some 190 million Muslims are expected to travel throughout Indonesia during the upcoming Idul Fitri holiday season at the end of Ramadan. Hopefully most will be headed for domestic destinations other than Bali. Nothing against Muslims, just people in general, for, as Mark Twain said, "The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog."

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Feelin' Groovy

 I am waiting today, as I did yesterday, for the Wi-Fi guys to come and fix my Wi-Fi. I'm finding that it is really boring to be without a TV. Lol. Or rather, I have a TV but it will not work without the Wi-Fi. So I've been amusing myself somewhat by reading a novel called Tragedi Pedang Keadilan, by Keigo Higashino. That doesn't translate very well to English. Something like The Tragedy of the Sword of Justice. Anyway, it is a rather entertaining murder mystery type thing. Other than that, since I can't go anywhere, which is because the wi-fi people never give you a heads up on when they might come to the house, I am variously sitting around or walking around in circles wondering what I should do. So I decided to dictate a little bit here on the blog. I guess I have mentioned that I use voice type now rather than typing with my fingers because my right hand just doesn't work very well anymore. Voice type is much easier than trying to use my hand, but it does require proof reading and editing as the program gets things wrong often enough or misunderstands my pronunciation. Of course I cannot use the internet on my phone very much because it eats up my pulsa. They call it pulsa here--the phone time you pay for. I would like to post some new pictures on the blog, but naturally one needs the internet for that as well 🙄

Friday, March 15, 2024

And The Next Thing I Knew ...

 I was just writing earlier today about the toxic nature of election season as expressed through Facebook comments. Later on in the day I posted a comment on an article about a speech Biden had recently made. I expressed my opinion that Biden speaks with wisdom, compassion, and just plain common sense. And my goodness, as if to prove my point, a torrent of poisonous replies arrived over the next couple hours. Most had nothing to do with the article at hand but were of a personal, insulting nature. You make me sick, for instance. You are a complete idiot and a liar. How is your mail order bride doing? You are a pedo. And so on. These are voters, folks; and not just voters, but Trump voters. That ought to tell us all something. They are of a type. I have seen it again and again. Like Trump himself, they revel in personal attacks and in childish name calling punctuated by poor spelling. It is certainly discouraging. It is, as Hillary once said, deplorable.