12/27/2000

Mailbag:

“Hacking setup; VCache”

I heard yesterday from the keeper of the best DOS utilities collection I’ve seen, Dev Teelucksingh. If you do much DOS stuff these days, you owe it to yourself to check out his site at www.opus.co.tt/dave. Among other things, he’s got DOS-based CD and MP3 utilities and players, an executable file packer that also has Linux and Win32 versions (excellent for when you’re strapped for disk space), programming languages, replacements for DOS utilities like FDISK, and networking tips and tools.

Another non-computer topic. There’s a ton of computer stuff in yesterday’s mail, so once again, a non-computer topic here. This is just like sophomore and junior years of college.

On Christianity. I don’t want to steal Al Hawkins’ trademark, but I was occasionally posting song lyrics that seemed appropriate long before I first saw his site, and this seems appropriate.

I was a Catholic boy
Redeemed through pain, not through joy

They can’t touch me now
I got every sacrament behind me:
I got baptism,
I got communion,
I got penance,
I got extreme unction
I’ve got confirmation
‘Cause I’m a Catholic child
The blood ran red
The blood ran wild!

Now I’m a Catholic man
I put my tongue to the rail whenever I can.

–Jim Carroll Band, Catholic Boy (1980)

Dan Bowman sent me this link, from Shoot the Messenger, about someone raised Catholic going back to a Christmas Eve mass. It didn’t sound to me like a particularly powerful or effective service. Tradition for tradition’s sake. The message is good enough for you because it was good enough for some previous generation.

Being raised Lutheran, which I’ve heard described as Catholicism without the Pope (that’s an oversimplification but there is a great deal of truth in it), I can relate. Traditionalists want us to come to God, but on their terms. But that’s wrong. Their terms and God’s terms aren’t interchangeable. They often aren’t even compatible.

God uses language we understand. The message of Christmas is full of them. Many religious heroes are said to have been born of a virgin: Buddha, Zoroaster, Lao-Tse. So Jesus, also, is born of a virgin. God didn’t want His Chosen One to seem inferior. And the magi. They were astrologers. God doesn’t approve of astrology, but He wanted them to know, so he lead them to Him, using language they understood: a star.

God went to a lot of trouble to draw outsiders to Him. Today, many churches want outsiders to go to a lot of trouble to understand and become them.

This is wrong, wrong, wrong. Read the book of Acts, the story of the early church, again. Is there any mention of the Latin mass there? Peter and Paul spoke Aramaic and Greek. Where’d Latin come from? Rome. What’s so special about Rome? That’s where the early church grew, the base from which it really took off. Fine. Why’d the early church really take off? Because it related to people.

So, it’s not the tradition we need, but rather, the spirit of the tradition. You can, as I cynically say, “Wait, therefore, for 15th-century Germans (or 2nd-century Romans) to come to you, and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” or you can do what we’re actually told to do: Go to all people and baptize. Yes, all people. And that includes 21st-century Americans. And in order to go to those people, you have to be accepted by those people. You have to understand them and relate to them.

Let me tell you about my Christmas Eve experience, as a Lutheran boy who left the tradition and then came back after finding and experiencing the spirit of the tradition.

I went to a service at my old church in Columbia, Mo., on Sunday morning. The service was OK. But it’s not like I go to that church for the services. I go for the people. They’ve got great people. I drew energy and encouragement from them, and I think they got the same from me, and every time I go it’s like I was there just last Sunday and we pick up right where we left off, even if it’s in reality been a year since I was last there. It’s like family. For some people, it’s better than their blood family. That’s special. That’s real Christianity.

I went to a candlelight service that night in Kansas City, Mo., at the church my sister Di has been attending. It was a great service. Pastor talked about the true meaning of Christmas: Christ, who was missing from our lives and is so often missing from Christmas, came. If there’s an emptiness you can’t explain and you can’t fill, why not let Him in? No dwelling on details that seem trite today. The big problem today is that people feel insignificant and  lonely. Everyone is afraid of being alone.

Here’s your problem today. Sound familiar? Here’s God’s solution. Do you want it? It’s yours.

And that, too, is real Christianity.

That philosophy makes me a rabble-rouser and a troublemaker. But that’s OK with me. A lot of traditionalists in the first century thought Jesus was a rabble-rouser and a troublemaker too. That was why they killed Him.

So, thanks for the compliment. I’ll be a rabble-rouser and a troublemaker. That’s real Christianity.

Too bad so few people have ever seen it.

Mailbag:

“Hacking setup; VCache”

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