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I was driving home early one morning from a session in “Treadmill Central” on campus, and there it was, hanging in the sky before me:  the mythical “black swan”.      Can you see it?     As cloud formations go on windy days, this image only lasted for about a minute, and only from one particular vantage point.   100 yards later, and I could not detect it.   So it is with “Black Swan Events”.    They appear, unexpectedly, and sometimes you can’t even see them before it’s too late.

The Black Swan Theory or “Theory of Black Swan Events” was developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb to explain the disproportionate role of high-impact, hard to predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance and technology, and the psychological biases that make people individually and collectively blind to uncertainty and unaware of the massive role of the rare event in historical affairs. Such events, considered extreme outliers, collectively play vastly larger roles than regular occurrences. Taleb regards almost all major scientific discoveries, historical events, and artistic accomplishments as “black swans” — undirected and unpredicted. He gives the rise of the Internet, the personal computer, World War I, and the September 11 attacks as examples of Black Swan Events. The real life biological “mythical” black swan, a member of the species Cygnus atratus, was believed to exist, but remained undocumented until the eighteenth century.*

“Black Swan” terminology is most often used in regards to financial market events.    Truth be told, there are many black swan moments in markets, but few as dramatic as what we are seeing today.        Dubbed “The Great Recession“, this storm cloud of dark markets persists today, and from the Federal Reserve to the Premier of China, many are on the hunt for how to slay this winged foul fowl before it can take flight again.

We hear the term “100 year flood” used to describe certain weather events.     We had one such rainstorm in Edmond earlier in 2010.    That occurrence, however, does not mean the next such storm will occur late into the lives of our great grandchildren in 2110.      A 100 year flood is a statistical probability.     In any given year, there is a 1% chance of a significant, out of bounds flood.     Accordingly, you should always be on watch.     As a friend once told me: “my dad always said, never buy the lowest house in the neighborhood“.

So, what’s the application for us today?    Expect the unexpected.     Don’t take anything for granted.     Enjoy the season you are in.

We are studying Job in our Sunday morning Bible classes for the next few weeks.    Talk about Black Swans: Job had an entire flock swarm his life all at once, and then they were gone.

Expect the unexpected.    Be watchful and cautious.    Hold tightly to your faith.    The next black swan you see may be only a few inches away….

*(Black Swan definition paragraph courtesy of Wikipedia)

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 A Briton, a Frenchman, and a Russian are viewing a painting of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden:

“Look at their reserve, their calm,” muses the Brit.   “They must be British.”

“Nonsense,” the Frenchman disagrees.  “They’re naked, and so beautiful.  Clearly, they are French.”

“No clothes, no shelter,” the Russian points out, “they have only an apple to eat, and they’re being told this is paradise.   They are Russian.”

Do the languages we speak shape the way we think?   Do they merely express thoughts, or do the structures in languages (without our knowledge or consent) shape the very thoughts we wish to express?   This question has important implications for politics, law and religion. *

If you have ever studied a language other than your own, you quickly realize that it is more than just replacing words in English or another native tongue with words from a second language.    Differences exist in grammar, verb tense, male and female, punctuation, and the like.   Some languages read left to right, others right to left, and some top to bottom.  While some of the Germanic languages translate fairly easily into English that can be understood without much explanation, the same cannot be said for Asian languages and others.    

I tried this recently with something in Japanese that I found on the internet.      I won’t say much more than that, except the subject of the sentence was a character that I have grown familiar with over the years.    🙂      Suffice to say, the computer translation of Japanese to English made little, if any, sense to me.     A friend and coworker from China who often blogs and “tweets’ (another language, or dialect, all its own) in Mandarin Chinese had a brief (140 character limit) post on Twitter.     Curious, I ran it thru the web translator, and all I could make out was something about young people and bomb.    After asking this friend for a fuller translation, I got a page or so of text outlining the thoughts more fully in English.   It was entirely different in thought and meaning to the original.    I was definitely lost in the translation.

A lot of things were lost at Babel, but much was gained as well.   The challenge for us is to overcome the differences, thereby enhancing the richness of our relationships.     It has been said that to learn another language is to look thru a window into the soul of a country and its people.      I have experienced this, both as an exchange student with a family in Europe, and with spending time in our home with friends of my oldest daughter who are from different countries in the Asian world.      Did you know that we count age differently in the western world versus some eastern nations?     In some lands, the measuring of age begins at conception, not at the actual date of birth from the mother.    There is a life lesson for western societies even in that small difference of communication and thought.         Context, character, emotion, and intellect (as in how we count and add) are impacted by the language that we speak; the language that we think in.      Clearly there seems to be a pattern to how we think that is influenced by our language, or is it that our language is influenced by how we think?     The premise goes far to potentially help us understand why we feel so different from those of other lands.     Why do we fight?    Why do we fear?     How can we learn to trust?

This is indeed the great Social Network.      Find friends.    Make your request.     Update your status.    Learn to think like others, take a walk in their shoes, and learn to love them where they are.       Science has shown that all of us, every one, can trace back to the same original DNA strands, that being our friends Adam and Eve.     And yet, we look, act, think, communicate, and fear in different ways.    

 We can thank the ambition and sin of those at Babel for that.

It looks like that Apple in the painting above is Orange/Red.     Clearly Adam and Eve were “house divided” Bedlam fans from Oklahoma; they just did not have the official NCAA gear to prove it.

*footnote: This question was recently addressed in an article by Lera Boroditsky of Stanford University that was reviewed in the International Management class that I am currently auditing at OC.

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Zuckerberg.    Andreesen.    John.    Three kids; each named Mark, albeit with different spellings covering multiple languages (English, Greek, and computer), and in at least two eras, but arguably three.       Each has helped to change the world, and there is more to come,so long as time continues.

Mark Zuckerberg is all the rage in the media these days.    The subject of the new upcoming move “The Social Network”, I could not get thru a Sunday today without hearing about him in both a CBS news feature piece and a sermon at our church.    Reportedly a not so nice guy, he has helped to change the world in this modern era.

Somewhere around the age of 20, Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard dormitory room in 2004. The idea for Facebook came from school traditions of publishing an annual student directory with headshot photos of students, faculty and staff.   For 2010, Facebook has now reached the 500 million-user mark.

Marc Andreesen worked in the early 1990’s with a team at the University of Illinois that had recently developed the World Wide Web.    (and you thought that Al Gore had invented it).   After two months of 80-hour weeks in the computer lab, living on chocolate chip cookies and milk, Andreessen and his team churned out a graphical browser called Mosaic, which used pictures and mouse clicks to navigate through information. The team gave the Mosaic browser away free, and before long, some two million people were using it and the name was changed to Netscape.     When Netscape went public in August 1995, the 24-year-old programmer found himself worth $56 million on paper.    Not so much of a “playa” in the internet space in 2010, Andreesen helped define and change the world in the mid 1990’s.

Mark, John Mark, is the person who wrote the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament.     A cousin of the missionary Barnabas and travelling companion to Paul, little is known of Mark as a person.   He is called “John” in three of the texts of the New Testament (Acts 12:12,25; 13:5,13; 15:37). The early Christians gathered at his family’s house in Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). He accompanied Paul and Barnabas on Paul’s first missionary journey as far as Perga in Pamphylia. The last mention of Mark is in the Acts when it is noted that he journeyed to Cyprus with Barnabas.

Mark’s closest relationship seems to have been with Peter. Peter sends Mark greetings in his first letter (5:13), and Papias, a 2nd-century Christian writer, states that Mark copied down the words of Peter and thus composed the Gospel that carries his name. As far as can be judged from the testimony of Christian writers in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, Mark composed his Gospel in Greek some time between A.D. 63 and 70.  If, as has been surmised, Peter was one important source for Mark’s Gospel, and if the assigned date of composition is correct, it is possible that Mark accompanied Peter to Rome, going on from there after Peter’s death.  It is not known how or where Mark finished his life. The Egyptian Church claimed Mark as its founder and patron saint. Another tradition associates Mark with Aquileia in northern Italy.  (this paragraph courtesy of wikipedia)

What’s the link up between these young men, centuries removed from one another, you say?      Well, even in 2010, Christianity remains one of the dominate beliefs and religions in the world, and Mark was instrumental in spreading the word to the Gentiles thru his travels and his specific gospel account found in the New Testament.   By the way, when we say Gentiles, we’re talking about most of the world, minus Jews and the nation of Israel.  That most likely includes you, as well as me.  A pretty large group to influence for almost 2,000 years, don’t you think?    Certainlysounds bigger than “the Facebook” in it’s present form.

Without Andreesen, who’s to say the internet would look, feel, or function anything like it does today?    Netscape and icon based “surfing” and programing were start of the art, and help drive everything we see today.    And without that, suffice to say, there probably would be no “Facebook“.      I would argue that our current technology and information era has the potential to change the world as much as other major historical developments like the printing press, the industrial revolution, the advent of flight, and man’s journey to space.

How we communicate and relate is forever changed.    It’s the world wide web, and “the Facebook” is global and in multiple languages.     Of the 300+ “friends” I am connected with on FB, a dozen or more do not live in the United States.

Where is the application for us in 2010?    This is a historical opportunity.    We now say “The World is Flat”, and probably has been no more so since the Tower of Babel, when all was “lost in translation”.    Effort and emotion is necessary to promote richness in relationships whether face to face and next door, or over the web and thousands of miles away.     As Christians, this is an opportunity like few others before.     In this era of “the Blogosphere“, we have a voice, and others are listening, from all over the world.

Speak up.     Share your story.      Improve your relationship “status”.      Help change the world.    Make your own “mark“.

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The following is an article by a gentleman who has some devo thoughts in the “Men’s Bible” that Sherry gave me years ago. As I read and study various passages in various translations and even languages on my “eBibles” today, am I missing the point of The Word?

Where the Pharisees Went Wrong
© by John Fischer
The year was 1970, and I was an intern at a strong Bible-teaching church in California. At every staff Bible study, I felt like a novice in the company of experts. My New American Standard Bible was no match for the Greek New Testaments that lay open on every lap but mine. The pastors would look at what was no more than hieroglyphics to me and tell me what it meant. It was always more profound and carried more weight than what I had in my Bible.

Before long, I found that a concordance and a Greek lexicon made me privy to the same power. Soon I was able to say, as a leader of my own Bible study, “But the Greek says . . . ” And suddenly, I was the authority over anyone whose Bible was, unfortunately for them, only in English.

This delight in the trumping power of a text now recalls to me something about the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. Once, when the temple guards failed to arrest Jesus, the Pharisees complained to them:

You mean he has deceived you also? . . . Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law–there is a curse on them. –Jn. 7:48-49

If the mob was ignorant of the law, there could be only one reason for their ignorance: The Pharisees kept them that way. The Pharisees made it their job to study and know the Scriptures in order to gain the upper hand on the things of God and keep the rest of the people in the dark. For the Pharisees, the Scriptures had ceased to be a form of revelation. “Manipulation” better describes their use of the sacred texts. By them they engineered and justified their own righteousness, and by them they controlled others. By the time Jesus arrived on the scene, their misuse of the Scriptures was glaringly obvious, but, most likely, the steps that got them there were not.

Because we are all prone to pharisaical attitudes, we’d be wise to check for any of these tendencies in our own lives and ministries. By determining where the Pharisees went wrong in their handling of Scripture, we can make sure we are not inadvertently traveling a similar path.

There have been times in my life when I have selected a Bible by its size and weight. The bigger and heavier the Bible, I thought, the more spiritual its carrier. During the Jesus movement, we used to wrap our Bibles in thick leather covers with snaps on them. With one of these in my hand, I felt spiritually dauntless.

The Pharisees went one step beyond this. They didn’t just carry the Scriptures around; they wore them. Phylacteries–small boxes containing miniature Scriptures–hung from their robes and even dangled from their foreheads. But carrying the Scriptures or wearing them means little if their meaning is not written on the heart. The power is not in the physical book. The power of Scripture lies in its ability to connect us to God, and, with the Holy Spirit illumining our hearts, to open our understanding of Him and His ways.

When my wife first attended dinner in my parents’ home, she was frustrated by our practice of reading Scripture before the blessing. We read from a compilation of various passages on a specific topic for each day. Her problem, she told me later, was that the reading was never discussed. She wanted to stop and mull over even one of the verses; but instead, portions of eight or nine verses rushed by without comment, and we were suddenly digging into our mashed potatoes without giving any thought to the truth we had just heard. We were somehow expecting the text itself to balance out the worldliness of the day and make us into a “good Christian family.” But if we don’t give thought to what we hear, what good is the hearing?

In the Scriptures, the Pharisees discovered a neat system by which they could establish and maintain their own righteousness while condemning others who didn’t measure up. Now in order to do this, they had to constantly read into Scripture what wasn’t actually there. In essence, they rewrote the law. They made the Scriptures say what they wanted them to say.

As I think about the concordances and lexicons that made me an instant expert on the text, I see a similar flaw in my use of the Scriptures. Without properly understanding the original languages and how various words are used and interpreted, I can, with a few tools, come up with several different meanings of one English word. Then I can conveniently select the word I like the best–the one that suits my purposes. I struggle with this constantly in my personal Bible study: finding out what the Scriptures actually say versus what I want them to say. We evangelicals even have a word for this: prooftexting, that is, the practice of finding scriptures to prove our point.

Do we come to the Bible to find out what God says or to find support for what we want to say? Jesus had to constantly reinterpret the law to the Pharisees, because their interpretation had become more important to them than what God had intended when He gave the Scriptures to His people.

I once read a book warning Christian parents about the dangers of rock and roll. The author resolved most of his problems with this issue by “standing on the word of God.” Yet the Scriptures say nothing about rock and roll, not to mention countless other aspects of our contemporary lives. We constantly use the Bible with great authority on individual issues such as these as if we had God’s final word on the subject. When we do so, we edge dangerously close to becoming Pharisees.

Think of the wealth of Scriptures the Pharisees had available to them: the narratives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and Joshua; the daring stories of the judges; the compromises of the kings; David’s psalms; the poetry and wisdom of Solomon; the words of the prophets–all revealing God and His ways with His people. But the Pharisees reduced it all to “take no more than so many steps on the Sabbath, wash your hands before eating, tithe a tenth of your spices, etc.” What a shame! They shrank the law to something they could actually keep, and failed to discover its essence: “You have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Mt. 23:23) .

But do we not do the same when we turn the Bible into a mere answer book for all the detailed questions of our lives? Do we want our questions answered or do we want to know God? Do we want remedies, or do we want Jesus? Do we want to make our lives successful, or do we want to worship the Lord of life?

“You diligently study the Scriptures,” said Jesus to the Pharisees, “because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (Jn. 5:39-40). There is something greater behind this book–something (or I should say “Someone”) its pages were given to reveal. If our study of the Scriptures leads us somewhere other than to God, we have stopped too soon. The Pharisees couldn’t see Jesus because they were too busy counting their steps.

We do the same thing only we have fancier words for it. We come away from Scripture with principles for living or steps for success or codes of conduct, but if we don’t come away with a deeper knowledge of Jesus, what good are all these principles, steps, and codes? Are we not just like the Pharisees?

The Bible is not primarily a manual for living, a sourcebook of sayings, a treasure of spiritual nuggets, or even a road map to heaven. It is a book that reveals to us who God is and how we can enter into and maintain a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Whenever we turn it into a practical means of getting somewhere other than to the feet of Jesus, we are falling for the lure of the Pharisees.

When we cling to the great truth that the Scriptures are given to us so that we might know Jesus, the Son of God, the source of new life, then we can avoid the traps of the Pharisees. Anything else can start us down a road where we possess the Scriptures but lose sight of why.

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Joel Osteen, meet Mother Teresa…

I had a random thought the other day: What if, just outside the Pearly Gates, Joel Osteen met up with Mother Teresa?     Wonder what he would say to her?      I imagined something like this: “Mother Teresa, it is sooo00o gooood for you to finally get the chance to meet me!

One of my only regrets in life was that you did not live long enough to read my books or to hear me preach a blessing to the massive congregation I was followed by”.

I imagine Mother Teresa would reply, “That’s OK, Mr. Osteen.     I was too busy helping people in need to read your books about how God wants us to prosper on this earth.     Besides, I’ve been up here a little longer than you, and God already gave me the book review.    I’m afraid it would have just depressed me”.

Referring back to the post on Thomas A’Kempis, “It’s not what you read (or write) that counts; It’s what you do.”.

Matthew 7:13-23: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Sobering random thought, and a challenge for me to do more.

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The Midshipman Prayer (Traditional version)

Almighty Father, whose way is in the sea, whose paths are in the great waters, whose command is over all and whose love never faileth; let me be aware of Thy presence and obedient to Thy will. Keep me true to my best self, guarding me against dishonesty in purpose and in deed, and helping me so to live that I can stand unashamed and unafraid before my shipmates, my loved ones, and thee. Protect those in whose love I live. Give me the will to do my best and to accept my share of responsibilities with a strong heart and a cheerful mind. Make me considerate of those entrusted to my leadership and faithful to the duties my country has entrusted in me. Let my uniform remind me daily of the traditions of the service of which I am a part. If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith; if I am tempted, make me strong to resist; if I should miss the mark, give me courage to try again. Guide me with the light of truth and keep before me the life of Him by whose example and help I trust to obtain the answer to my prayer, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

My grandfather was in the U.S. Navy during WWII.    The pictures above are of he and my grandmother, my mother and uncle, and their dog, before he left for his tour of duty.    I recently received his copy of the U.S. Navy issued sailor’s New Testament, and as shown in the picture above, it contains this prayer.

I am not sure of his rank, but he served as a postmaster in the South Pacific.    Pressed into service by the draft, he was called away from family and into harms way for several years.   While not a combat soldier, he told me stories of near misses from Kamikaze attacks on ships adjacent to his.

I also heard stories of how he sent every dime he earned home, just so my grandmother would not have to work and could stay home with their two kids.   In turn, she saved enough to buy a house for the family before he returned home from the war.   Talk about a great generation.

So how did they do it?   How did he survive the war, when so many, including his own brother, did not?     How did they stay close, raise a family, and serve the Lord faithfully for years?    Even today, their influence has a family of almost 60 children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren and spouses raising Christian families and serving the Lord.

They did it with prayer.    And so should we.

We are all midshipmen, pressed into service by the war for the world and the hearts of our kids and others we love.    The words of the midshipman’s prayer can still serve us all well today:

Almighty Father, whose way is in the sea, whose paths are in the great waters, whose command is over all and whose love never faileth; let me be aware of Thy presence and obedient to Thy will. Keep me true to my best self, guarding me against dishonesty in purpose and in deed, and helping me so to live that I can stand unashamed and unafraid before my shipmates, my loved ones, and thee. Protect those in whose love I live. Give me the will to do my best and to accept my share of responsibilities with a strong heart and a cheerful mind. Make me considerate of those entrusted to my leadership and faithful to the duties my country has entrusted in me. Let my uniform remind me daily of the traditions of the service of which I am a part. If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith; if I am tempted, make me strong to resist; if I should miss the mark, give me courage to try again. Guide me with the light of truth and keep before me the life of Him by whose example and help I trust to obtain the answer to my prayer, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Cigarette, gambling and alcohol stocks up in down market
 
BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS   
Published: August 22, 2010

BOSTON — So much for virtue.   Sin is in.

That’s according to a mutual fund manager who’s finding investment opportunities in companies profiting from vices like smoking, drinking and gambling. Jeff Middleswart’s aptly named Vice Fund is beating the house in a down market.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index is down 1.9 percent this year. Yet stocks of cigarette makers are up an average 12 percent…
….Defense contractors — another fund mainstay — are up an average 12 percent. Alcoholic beverages? Up 6 percent.

As discussed in this space a few days ago, a friend from high school updated his Facebook status for religious beliefs to list hedonism.     This has had me thinking on the topic at many levels for the past few days and the issues accompany such a life choice.

Hedonism is defined as the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the highest good, a devotion to pleasure as a way of life: The later Roman emperors were notorious for their hedonism.   Synonyms: sensualism, libertinism, debauchery, dissipation, carousal.   

Hebrews 11:24-25 tells us: It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.  

The fleeting pleasures.    That’s just it.    No argument that the world and even sin is alluring.   Just ask Eve about that piece of fruit.   The depth of the canyon draws us in.     But it’s fleeting: there is no lasting “high” that does not need to be replicated.    This life is not the ultimate and complete experience.    We all live, and we all die, but the end is not goodbye.    

Solomon had a lot to say about this topic following his later years of life and pursuing his passions, pleasures, and riches and power unknown to people like us.

Ecclesiastes 2   (The Futility of Pleasure)

 1 I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless. 2 So I said, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?” 3 After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness. In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world.

 4 I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. 7 I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me. 8 I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire!

 9 So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. 10 Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. 11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

M*A*S*H is an American television series adapted from the 1970 feature film MASH about three army doctors. The series is a medical drama/black comedy that follows a team of doctors and support staff stationed at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Uijeongbu, South Korea, during the Korean War. M*A*S*H’s title sequence featured an instrumental version of the song “Suicide Is Painless”.  (wiki)

As I was mulling over this post a few days ago, an episode of M*A*S*H came on TV.   I’d not seen it in years.     There on the screen was Hawkeye Pierce, and principal character, hero, funny guy, and all around hedonist.    No one character probably better lives out the hedonistic persona in my mind than this one.     Caught in the midst of a horrible time and trying circumstances, Hawkeye seeks to avoid pain and seek pleasure in any way possible.    Guilt is not in his vocabulary.   Supporting characters follow some moral tones throughout the seasons of the show, each influencing Hawkeye is some small way, but each being influenced by his lifestyle as well.

In the end, the pain is still there.    Life is still short.   And suicide is not painless.    To quote Hawkeye:  “in war, there are two rules.   Rule number 1: young men die.   Rule number 2: doctors can’t change rule number 1.”

But hope does not disappoint us.  Romans 5:3-6

3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

 6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

M*A*S*H can be an entertaining show.    Just realize that the characters are not “saints in surgical garb”, and that there’s more to life than pleasure.

There’s also more to life than the “American Way”.     More to follow…

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