Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Star Trek The Next Generation (Season 3b)

<--Season 3a  "Best of Both Worlds"-->

The second half of season 3 continues the successes of the first half, and even improves. Many would say that this is the highest level the franchise would ever achieve. It certainly presents us with the best episode ever in the Star Trek universe. However, that does not mean the series and franchise begin to decline in quality after these episodes. It is more like the franchise reaches a level of quality here that would continue going forward.

Episode 14: “A Matter of Perspective”
This is “Rashomon” done Trek-style. Of course “real world” application of the film techniques that brought us that story is a little bit scary. Allowing witnesses and defendants to create a three dimensional representation of events that plays out like a movie would surely cause tremendous difficulties for the justice system. People have a hard enough time perceiving truth without clouding the issue up with multiple skewed perspectives and even lies presented in convincing reality.

Episode 15: “Yesterday’s Enterprise”
One of the most entertaining stories the series ever presented. It is fun to see what a Federation at war would look like; the battles and a chance for a glimpse—for a moment where our crew actually faces certain death—knowing that it will be erased with the—ever annoying—time travel story reset. Most of the time these sort of stories demand too much suspension of disbelief, but here we almost forget to question.

One suspects that part of the appeal of this show is that it is so non-Trek-like. It is too dark for the vision that Roddenberry set up. He really did use the show to sell his religious beliefs. He is one of the best examples showing how Secular Humanism was a strange rejection of religion while being a quasi-religion; a call for the ideals and ethics of Christianity while rejecting Christianity for its more religious and pharisaical elements.

Of course the most compelling aspect of this story is the writers’ choice to correct the mistake they made having Tasha die a meaningless death. The fact is that there are no meaningless deaths in life because there are no meaningless lives. Sometimes things may feel as though they make no sense, but we believe and sometimes manage to understand that that is simply a limitation of our perspective.

Episode 16: “The Offspring”
This episode is one of the occasional comedic ones, but suddenly tragic and moving at the end. It is also one of those episodes where the Secular Humanist aspects of the series are apparent, but subverted. Data continues his quest to understand the true experience of “being human.” Here he learns that it involves trying to be the sort of humans we were created to be. It is an impossible task on our own; it is nevertheless a matter of growth and a struggle for those willing to accept help.

Episode 17: “Sins of the Father”
Worf is a conflicted, third culture kid. TCKs are people from one culture, raised in another, resulting in a third cultural identification—a mixture of aspects from both. Here we see the surprising degree to which Worf is willing to go in order to help his birth culture, that he hasn’t been able to be a part of since his childhood. It is a bit unconvincing to someone who does approach life as a TCK. There are those that overcompensate and reject their adopted culture by blindly embracing every aspect of their birth culture without question. However, most of that type does not choose to live their life out in the adopted culture. That is what makes Worf so hard to comprehend.

Episode 18: “Allegiance”
Again, a Twilight Zone styled puzzle episode. We’ve seem to get about one or two of these every season so far. And again we have the “advanced=alien-species-studying-humanity” theme. Will they ever tire of these stories? And just how many god-like species are there in the galaxy?

Episode 19: “Captain’s Holiday”
If this whole episode is a self-fulfilling-prophecy, how did the future not know how it would turn out?

Episode 20: “Tin Man”
A ship-like life form that is the last of its kind is an interesting idea, but it is not explored.

Episode 21: “Hollow Pursuits”
This is a fun story for anyone who enjoys the escapism of fantasy.

Episode 22: “The Most Toys”
A fairly standard kidnapping story. However, how will Data’s ethics respond? Will he kill if justified? Can he lie?

Episode 23: “Sarek”
A long-lived character from the original series is incapacitated, and Patrick Stewart gets to show his acting chops.

Episode 24: “Menage a Troi”
A comedic caper involving a kidnapping, Picard embarrassing himself performing sonnets and those slimy Ferengi.

Episode 25: “Transfigurations”
An unusual overtly religious episode, where the evolution mutates a humanoid into a godlike being. In this case, the reaction is not one of worship but fear. Apparently several individuals in the species are experiencing the evolutionary step, so it is not a random mutation. Evolution, for those who propose it, never really is. It is supposed to be a result of chance and not design, but it is never a singular event and it always advances the species exponentially. To try to explain the philosophy of religion in humanity as a result of such evolutionary steps is questionable and that is not what is really happening here. Instead, this is an often repeated hope of Secular Humanism. Some anticipate a coming day when something like this will really happen. It seems that humanity must first evolve culturally and mentally before they will deserve the next physical step. They reject religion, but merely for one of their own making.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Dostoyevsky in Doses

I have been assigned “Crime and Punishment” on two occasions in my education. The first time was in 10th grade and the second was in graduate school. In tenth grade I didn’t even make it to the murder. In seminary I made it well into the second part, but Dostoyevsky is such a genius writer I was too disturbed by the first person narration from an insane man. I felt like I was going crazy. Maybe the rest of the class and the professor felt the same way because, as I recall, we never did anything with the book and I didn’t have to finish.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Christian Authority (Philemon)

This is that little letter of Paul’s (much like John’s second and third letters) that are a bit perplexing. One wonders how such a personal, narrowly focused correspondence could be expected to inspire and instruct the worldwide church throughout the ages over and above all the other letters floating around churches in the first century. OK, there is the hugely significant role it played in changing views on slavery, but that doesn’t continue to resonate as much in the portions of the church where slavery is already seen as wrong. Maybe the unique example of forgiveness is the take-away, but there might be other areas of scripture where this teaching is more compelling. Then there is the portion of Christian scholarship that (completely missing the point in a fun way) try to solve the puzzle of its conclusion historically. (Could Onesimus have gone on to become the Bishop of Ephesus who also happened to edit Paul’s letters together for circulation?)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

1960s in Film

As would be expected and hopefully forgivable, I have seen fewer films from the decade of the Sixties than others that have come after I was old enough to catch films in their first run. Somehow though, I have seen more of what conventional wisdom regards as great in the decade than the Seventies or even to a degree the Eighties. Maybe that is because time ensures that the good survives while the fluff fades. Or, maybe I just agree more with the artistic sensibilities of the Sixties than the Seventies. In either case, this list may be a bit conventional:

Top Personal Films of the Sixties: 

30. The Manchurian Candidate
29. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
28. For a Few Dollars More
27. The Shakiest Gun in the West
26. The Magnificent Seven

Friday, January 27, 2012


The experience of Martin Scorsese’s newest (and some imply, greatest) film will vary depending on what sort of moviegoer you are.

To the filmmaker, the film historian, and academic it will be amazing. It will tap into interests you already share with Scorsese—it is made with you in mind. Thus the eleven nominations from the Academy this year.

To the average moviegoer, looking for entertaining escapism or a fun bit of fantasy, it will be a mixed and fragmented experience compared to what you are accustomed. It will likely be both engaging and frustratingly distracted. Thus the poor performance at the box office.

The truth of the matter is that it should land somewhere in the middle.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"An Idiot Abroad"

This travel program is not your typical British Comedy. If is funny, but it also makes you think on many more levels than just wit. The premise is that Karl Pilkington, a rather insular and close minded Brit, is sent around the world to broaden his horizons. It is perhaps a great training tool that could or should be considered for the segment of church population enamored with the “mission trip.” In any case it couldn’t hurt. Three things that would be helpful for anyone wanting to go to another culture jump out right away:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Pale “Game of Shadows,” Wherein I Vent Some Frustration

Last year’s sequel to Sherlock Holmes was a true let down. Do not misunderstand. It is a well-made, high quality movie. However, it will be on my list of the most disappointing films of 2011 for one particular reason: the title.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dear American Church,

Not a month goes by that an American Christian worker somewhere in Europe doesn’t get an email from a Church in the States involving a story about an exchange student who has “found Christ.” They would like the worker to find said student a good church home in their little European village. There are at least two problems with this situation in just about every case where it occurs, so they might as well be addressed in one handy blog post.

Dear American Church,

Monday, January 23, 2012

“All Hallows’ Eve” by Charles Williams (1945)

Williams’ last novel is a mixture of the experiences of reading his novels up to that point. It has a bit more narrative structure than his last effort, “Descent into Hell”—not as much plot as say “War in Heaven” but more along the lines of his first effort, “Shadows of Ecstasy.” In fact the basic plot mechanics here echo that first effort quite a bit. On the other hand, the philosophical digressions and in particular the exploration of Williams’ pet theology are on full display.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Conclusion: Fulfill Your Calling! (Colossians 4:7-18)

At the conclusion of letters such as Colossians, a lot of people (myself included) tend to go into skim mode—sort of like when you hit the genealogy sections of the Old Testament. However, a closer look can often be rewarding especially for the insight we gain into the life of the church in Paul’s day.

Here specifically, three names jump out at us:

Tychicus grants us a connection with the letter that we today know as Ephesians. He was apparently the messenger bearing both letters, maybe a third one to Laodicea as well. (Unless that is the one we now call Ephesians.) Apparently the churches in the various homes across the increasingly Christian region kept in touch with one another and passed teaching and encouragement back and forth. We know that Paul in particular in his role as apostle had to stay in touch with the various groups he had started and in this case even with ones that were second or third generation removed.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Top Ten Favorite Metropolises Visited

This list really struggles to be a ten-list. I have only visited some 15 cities with over a million inhabitants. Of those, I only really loved and have interest to revisit around half. For these lists I will normally not include cities where I have lived (and I have never lived in a city this large) but I would only consider living in a few of these cities. Visit and live are completely different considerations:

Friday, January 20, 2012


warp man into figure
construct a pedestal
extol its greatness
raise a following
whitewash its thought
parse away its missteps
worship the creature

believe the hype
construct their pedestal
climb on their tower
become inerrant
or misunderstood
or persecuted
feed the stampede

be wary of pride
maintain perspective
preserve humility

never believe your press.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Star Trek The Next Generation (Season 3a)

<--Season 2b  Season 3b-->

This is more like it. Season three starts out with quality episodes. The ideas, the story mechanics and the structure are thought out much better than before. Just about every episode poses some compelling ideas and doesn’t get in the way of itself with silliness. Just about.

Episode 1: “Evolution”

This first episode is a good example of the way this season works. The secondary storyline is fairly standard. A man’s life work is threatened and he loses sight of everything else in the pursuit of salvaging it. In this case the “everything else” just so happens to be a case of spontaneous generation. For those who don’t know what that is it is life that suddenly forms from non-life. It is a scientific impossibility that people used to believe in when they believed in stuff like magic. It is also a basis for the Theory of Evolution. Although, come to think of it, this life was formed from machines made by man so maybe it is a story about intelligent design?

That problem aside, we are treated to a highly accelerated case of evolution. That’s right the machines aren’t simply new life, they are mutating and evolving every microsecond. This is an example of a perfect story mechanic. The audience doesn’t stop to ask if what is happening makes sense, they just accept it and that provides us with a very interesting story about ethics, respect for life and the importance of communication. However, when you stop to think about the mechanics of the evolution it all falls apart.

These machines were designed (DESIGNED) to reproduce. They function as they were designed to, so no problem there. In fact they do it extremely well. They have multiple new generations every second. Then, as they “become life” they begin to mutate. Mutation means that they are no longer copying correctly—they are malfunctioning. Instead of ceasing to function--instead of a single mutation causing a catastrophic failure—each and every mutation miraculously advances them to the point where they are an intelligent race with concepts like ethics, peace, war and the desire to explore. It is quite frankly, a stretch.

That, and why do they have to use Data to communicate when the computer they already occupy can talk? Hey at least it is making us think. That is what this season is like.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

More Top Films: Grey Sky Happiness

“Singing in the Rain” is one of the best movies for so many reasons. It is a musical that was originally created for the screen, not adapted from the stage. It popularized songs that are an important part of the public conscious over sixty years later. Its production values are staggering. It is a multilayered story about stories and film making; a farce about farces within farces. The theatricality is breathtaking, especially in the “Broadway Melody Ballet” segment.

Maybe you think it is too old fashioned and doesn’t hold up to the demands of today’s audiences. It is admittedly long and it does have some excess fat around the middle that it could be argued is not essential to the story. Maybe it is such a part of your social memory that you think you don’t like it without having ever truly seen it. Its most famous bits can be a bit sentimental. Perhaps, however, that is the secret to its longevity and acclaim.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pastors, Teachers, Shock-Jocks?

There is a lot of discussion and debate going on about the role of publicity in ministry. Is it a good thing to take advantage of it to spread the message of the Gospel further? In generating more attention, do we cloud the message? The Gospel is controversial, but does that mean that every controversial thing we say or believe is indeed a part of the truth?

Monday, January 16, 2012

“Fyodor Dostoyevsky” by Peter Leithart

Part of the Christian Encounters series

Leithart does a great job of summarizing Dostoyevsky’s life and philosophical development in an easy to read volume. The story is told in narrative form as a series of flashbacks and memories framed in a hypothetical night of conversation between Fyodor and an old friend. He manages to make the life and times of this author something that the reader can grasp, which in turn enables Dostoyevsky’s writings easier to grasp.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Wisedom and Grace of the Witness (Colossians 4:2-6)

[2] Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. [3] At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—[4] that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
[5] Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. [6] Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
(Colossians 4:2-6 ESV)

Many believers are disciplined about praying for “the missionaries” daily. Here is a Biblical example of a missionary asking for prayer, and instructing his supporters how best to pray for him. The normal things that people pray for are safety, provision of needs and opportunities to serve. Paul cuts right to the chase and asks for one thing: clarity of communication. Paul wants the opportunity, strength and words to best share the mystery of the Gospel. This is what every Missional believer wishes for, and what everyone praying for Missional believers should be requesting.

Not only that, but this is how every believer should be conducting their daily lives: in a quest for such communication. Our lives should be governed by a wisdom that pervades all interactions. How do we present Christ in every moment and relationship? Every word we say should be seasoned by our experiences with God. Every conversation is a potential opportunity to share the miracle and joy that is a life shared with God. Not in a prepackaged, awkward, sales pitch manner, but naturally as though one actually had daily experiences with God to share.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Top (and bottom) Buffy Episodes

As a cap-off to last year’s re-watch of the entire run of Buffy, here is a list of the top 30 episodes, with a five word “description.” Also, the ten worst episodes:

30. “Phases”
Oz’s nephew is a werewolf?
29. “Lies My Parents Told Me”
Spike has Freudian mommy issues
28. “Doppelgangland”
So, evil Willow is lesbian?
27. “Buffy vs. Dracula”
Xander is Dracula’s Butt Monkey
26. “Selfless”
Real redemption requires a sacrifice

Friday, January 13, 2012

"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"

This latest “spy” film is not living up to a lot of people’s expectations. That is likely because it is a more realistic portrayal of what the intelligence warfare was like during the cold war, and nothing like the fantastic superhero spy fiction to which audiences have become accustomed.

The way that the film tells the story can also be a frustration for today’s audiences. It does not spoon feed the plot to us, but requires active participation from the audience. The story is not just a mystery, but is presented in mysterious ways. If we are to follow what is happening, we need to connect the facts for ourselves. It is a thinking person’s film, and people don’t generally go to the theater to think these days.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bones “The Truth in the Myth”

At this writing I am several episodes behind the rest of the world, but “Bones” has been going the route of so many crime dramas. It started out as a creative take on solving interesting mysteries with a cast of well developed characters who develop over the course of episodes. Slowly the character development and interactions become so involved that the mysteries and stories begin to take a back seat. The compelling cases have been few and far between throughout the fifth and sixth seasons, and even the interpersonal relationships have stagnated as we head toward the inevitable union that we all know has been coming since the pilot.

That being said, there is another way that “Bones” is blazing its own trail. The relationship between the ultra-empiricist scientist and her blind-faith embracing partner has been explored with an even-handed fairness that is refreshing. Usually Hollywood treats faith like a medieval superstition. This show does a good job of demonstrating that faith does not have to be irrational and that empiricism can be as prejudiced and traditional and dogmatic as the church. It exposes the religious nature of Scientism.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Star Trek The Next Generation (Season 2b)

<--Season 2a  Season 3a-->

Seeing early “Star Trek: The Next Generation” seasons is an exercise in understanding how a good idea can take a lot of time and many false starts to reach its full potential. Corporate television would never let a show like this find its way these days. Thankfully, Paramount did, because STNG does get better even by the end of this season, though true improvement—the sort that places STNG on multiple Top 50 lists—is a year away:

Episode 12: “The Royale”
A rather Twilight Zoney episode that would seem out of place had the series established any sort of consistence or standard by this point.

Episode 13: “Time Squared”
As written this episode makes little sense. A vetoed plot point involving Q and tying into the Borg plot-line would have almost explained things, but that didn’t happen. By the way, have we lost count how many times episodes this season involve “all powerful” alien intelligences checking the enterprise out?

Episode 14: “The Icarus Factor”
It is generally hard to become emotionally moved by a completely foreign cultural custom that appears to have been made up on the set the day of filming. In this episode they try to so move us twice, and the characters have simply not been developed enough for us to overlook the problem.

Episode 15: “Pen Pals”
OK, this episode stinks as bad—or worse than the other ones but there is one point interesting enough that it merits attention: The debate about the Prime Directive and duty that arises when Data disobeys said Directive. (Anyone else have a problem that it is the Android that goes against programming here?) The question raised is the same one that comes up when you watch animal documentary shows. How do scientists or filmmakers who observe animals allow them to die when they could do something to help? Scientists and story tellers can become quite inhumane in their quest for truth or a good story. Theology in a vacuum or an ivory tower can be the same way. It does no good to know a lot about God if you are not going to allow that knowledge to affect your life.

Episode 16: “Q Who”
Carrying the ideas of “Pen Pals” forward, the scientific exploration of the Enterprise’s mission is brought into question by Q. It is ultimate pride and arrogance to think that humanity will reach a point where it can rove the universe learning about it at an arms distance. Life is not simply study and understanding and humanity will never reach a point where it has solved all of the universes challenges. Living requires conflict and this series finally gets some in the form of an unreasonable race of evil. It will take over a season for the Borg threat to reach its full potential, but this is what will finally help this show.

Episodes 17, 18: “Samaritan Snare” and “Up the Long Ladder”
A couple of comedic… misfires. The later has the misfortune of trying to tell a story about the future, right when the world was about to change in ways no one could imagine. On the other hand, sub-plots in both episodes involve characters worrying about the medical privacy. How forward thinking!

Episode 19: “Manhunt”
This one IS funny.

Episode 20: “The Emissary”
The Star Trek writers lump the idea that “sex should only belong within the confines of a life-long monogamous commitment” in with the warlike and primitive violence of the Klingon Empire. Then again, they manage to turn around and make that a special sentiment as well.

Episode 21: “Peak Performance”
Fun, but how exactly did Worf trick the Ferengi ship? We know where he got the security code for the Enterprise, but… Sorry, I accidentally slipped into geek-nit-picker mode.

Episode 22: “Shades of Grey”
Let’s pretend that this never happened, shall we? (Hmmm)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

And Thereby Hangs a Bushy Tail

Why the sly and shy vulpine
Dares to share and to opine
While happy yappy canine
Harries scary mad feline
As tension though fun, benign
Results insults and maligns
Can old eyes of wise divine

Monday, January 9, 2012

"Sherlock" (Season 1)

Moffat has shown a great adeptness at taking and adapting popular characters to today’s sensibilities. His “Doctor Who” stories have consistently been the best of the revived series. He had critical success with his reimagining of “Jekyll.” It was only logical that he should turn to one of the most popular characters in all of English Lit.

Bringing Holmes and Watson into the 21st Century had its risks. So many Sherlock Holmes fans are only fans of the traditional interpretations that have stagnated for decades. This series and the new Holmes movies have shown that there is a lot of range and wiggle room contained within the text. Some can’t handle Holmes being as unlikable as he was in the stories. Some have an inexplicable need for Watson to be an idiot.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Households (Colossians 3:18-4:1)

Once again, as in its parallel teaching in Ephesians, Paul’s household exhortation is a study in minding your own business. In fact, it is even clearer here in its simplicity. He does not highlight the symbolic nature of marriage, for instance. He simply reminds each role of its focus. Wives, submit; husbands, love; children obey, parents, don’t discourage etc.

How this passage is not constructed, but the reading a lot of teachers and most believers give it would be as follows:

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Most Anticipated Films of 2012

[Updated January 20, 2012]

This is a tough exercise every year, with a lot of films not announced that will likely take the places of some of these, but here goes:

Friday, January 6, 2012

Captain America, Mega Mind and the Corrupting Quality of Power

For the most part, last summer’s lead up to the much anticipated “Avengers” movie was just that… a lead up. To be sure it is a rousing adventure and entertaining escapism. In fact, it is probably the best of the bunch outside of the first “Iron Man.” There is not much to think about in this story, though. The big lesson in “Captain America,” outside of “Nazis are bad” and jingoism, is that power is a bad thing in the wrong hands. The process that increases Steve Roger’s strength and abilities increases everything about the man. In the case of the enemy of the piece, Red Skull, it has increased his capacity for evil.

Steve Rogers’ is an unusual man because he seems to be completely good. He has no capacity for evil, he is an innocent. Usually the real message about power is that it corrupts. That message was better handled in a lesser movie from 2010: “Megamind.”

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Scary Geek Tribe

I’m a geek so I speak in a language all my own
And I search the whole Earth for a kindred sort of soul.
Though I like old archetypes, universal mythology
My semantics and odd habits demand a narrow ontology.
If you happen to like my cannon then you can join my tribe
But if we vary even rarely then to me you will have died.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hidden Hedonism

There is an amazingly insightful scene in the book “Perelandra,” where the protagonist experiences an unexpected but exhilarating thrill when he is doused by an alien fruit. The moment is so pleasant he immediately turns around to experience it again, but instinctively knows that he should not do it. Not out of any danger to himself, but rather because it would be harmful to the innocence of that newly created world. It is an insight into the danger of hedonism.

When you think about the root cause or characteristic of sin, you may turn to pride at one end or sloth at the other, or you might think of money or the power it represents as being where evil has its root. However, in many ways it all boils down to the pleasure principle.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Beauty in Spite of Bleakness, Speaks

“Lidice” opens with a rich, colorful shot of a meadow. A woman approaches the camera and Kneels before what we soon realize is a man, lying prone on the ground. This opening is intercut with a flashback of the same pair having an affair. Even though the only skin shown is the man’s back, it is an embarrassingly explicit scene for the viewer as voyeur. This opening is appropriate for the film as a whole, both because the film is beautifully shot despite its bleakness and it is hard to watch due to its subject matter.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Resolution

With every single kiss
She gives herself away.
Lately though for him
Its just a game he plays.
Her hope is just a dream
That has refused to die
And yearning for his love
She daily gives her life.

Loving someone brings about
Emotional betrayals
Fill her with such grief.
Crying in bed at night
Till sleep dims all the shame
She makes the choice to live her life
Free from all the pain.

Now she dies inside each time
The phone brings her his voice
She steels her heart
hangs up the phone
To firmly live her choice.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Put On, Outerwear (Colossians 3:16-17)

[16] Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. [17] And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17 ESV)

Sometimes we need help changing at our core. The outward things that mold who we are, train our character and transform us are what Paul mentions next in his list of things we should “put on” as we assume the character of Christ.

The Word is the most useful and transformative agent of change in our lives. We can use it to help us see the things we need to change in ourselves, but also to teach others. Taking the truth of scripture and turning it into poetry and songs is a useful way to help us keep it in mind and in our hearts.

The attitude that encompasses our whole being should be one of constant thankfulness. No matter how uncertain the future seems nor how challenging our present can be, it is always better than it could have been if we were on our own. With God in our lives and in control, we can live with perfect hope, and that is a constant source of thanksgiving.
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