EmPulse for Week of June 21, 2010


A.I.— “Artificial Intelligence.” Def.- “the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it.” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AI]  AI, coined by computer-cognition scientist John McCarthy in 1956, is “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines.” [see John McCarthy, WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE? ©1993, Nikos-Drakos, Computer Based Learning Unit, University of Leeds].

It is obvious to all that we are truly dependent upon intelligent machines in our everyday lives. Machines that respond to us and then take action accordingly. The Terminator (1984, 1991, 2003, 2009, ?) kicked off the popularity of the idea in the early ‘80s. Coupled with films like A.I. (2001), and I-Robot (2004), we are prodded to ponder just how far AI development might take us (not to mention “Data” on the unending reruns of the TV/Film franchise, Startrek: the next generation). It gives pause to wonder about the expendability of we homo sapiens?

[But then again…, there is WALL-E . (2008) ]

The gadgets of today do not compare with the science fiction presented in the movies and TV series above. Ours are mere toys by comparison. Yet I find myself more dependent upon them every day. Some examples— I no longer “dial” a phone number; I simply say “Call John.” I pay bills electronically, online, not with a written check. My mobile smartphone holds my calendar, contact lists, personal reminders & notes, and a calculator. Did I mention it also connects to the Internet, allowing me access to 4 email accounts, text messaging, and browsing over the WorldWideWeb!?! Not to mention it serves as a clock, stopwatch, Internet-radio (I love Pandora), camera, Media Player (movies & itunes), & note recorder. Really…, take my wallet…, not my Blackberry! Oh, I forgot…, I don’t carry a wallet anymore.

The contributions that these gadgets have made to our society are wonderful, to be sure. But instead of freeing us to think about more important things they have rather lulled us into complacency. We tend to not-think at all, especially about the weightier issues of life. Though we may perfect incredible artificial intelligence we may find some of our own diminished.

Question— What do you think about? No, really; what thoughts engage the greater parts of your energies? Allow me to suggest some things worth thinking about—  Understanding WHO you are as a person. Learning comfortable congeniality in relationships. Being graciously honest. The value of establishing a richer relationship with God. The art of genuine, implemented forgiveness. Keeping commitments. Living by an oath to truth, or to another. How to put in an honest day’s work that honors your employer. Being honorable in all you do. Sacrificing…, not to feel good about it but because it is right.

Warning— DO NOT allow your intelligence to languish;  you may just find something else doing your thinking for you.

Have a nice week.



truth serum

EmPulse for Week of June 14, 2010

truth serum

Sodium thiopental, better known as Sodium Pentothal, is a rapid-onset short-acting barbiturate general anesthetic. Sodium thiopental is a depressant and is sometimes used during interrogations – not to cause pain (in fact, it may have just the opposite effect), but to weaken the resolve of the subject and make him more compliant to pressure.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_thiopental)

Do you ever wish you could simply administer a truth serum to everybody around you!?! Think of it—no cover-ups, no deceit, no more lies, no shaded truth, no hypocrisy, no more pleasantries & nice smiles concealing hidden animosities. Truth serum…, O the possibilities! People have trouble with the truth, and the Truth. We don’t like to hear it about ourselves, we don’t like to tell other people about their truths. It’s easier to avoid the truth, or the other people, or just to not face it altogether. We even prefer half-truth to the to the whole truth. [Thus the admonition is a Court of Law.]

The truth is hard to face. Live with it. It can hurt to hear it; it’s just as hard to speak truthfully to a friend. Live with it. But we need the truth (and the Truth): truth is the bearer of trust, of camaraderie; it is the basis of international alliances and clear communication. Truth is the keystone of relationships, the foundation for forgiveness, the essence of any business partnership that is to be productive over any given time. Truth is the key ingredient in Trust that can never be slighted; for if trust is betrayed, the “truth” can no longer be known.

So why is it so many of us find it so hard to tell the Truth!?! Where do children learn lying? Why do teens go silent and young couples hide things from one another? How can there be so many interpretations of “the Truth?” What is the TRUTH about God? Could the Biblical statements about origins, the purposes of life, and humanity’s brokenness in need of some serious salvation possibly be true? Then, closer to home, why do so many genuine followers of Christ find it so very difficult to tell other people the Truth about the God who made us!?! In a society where even a pale memory of genuine Christianity is down to around 7% of the population, where people have all but chucked any religious faith for their own designer-religion (transcendental golf meditation to improve one’s karma and balance the chi), why is it that true Christians have not endeavored all the more to express their faith in ways that today’s normal people can comprehend and embrace!?!

Actually, there is a simple, naïve answer. It’s just too much work. It’s just easier to go through an abbreviated summary of Truth, boiling it down to four propositional statements, lifted from life’s context, and to let the other guy reject or accept them…, so be it, whatever way it may be. We’ve done our job!

In the real world, though, Truth (truth) is always blended with three other ingredients—, a god-reflective life, interpersonal relationships, and the inner workings of the Holy Spirit of God. Life—because talk is cheap. Truth not reflected in godly living is no more than pretense. Relationships—because Truth does not exist for its own sake, but for ours: we need to know it. And the inner, mysterious, work of the Holy Spirit of God—how does anyone comprehend the wondrous work that God does in the human heart to draw the whole person to faith, forgiveness, and freedom!?! Repentance becomes that one small step at the beginning of a quite magical journey! Truth serum indeed… . It’s been around for eternity! Be about it!

I’ll take the first dose.

Have a nice week.


… just another day

… just another day

Fall out of bed at 5:30 a.m. Brush teeth. COFFEE! MORE COFFEE! Feed the animals/read the paper. COFFEE & breakfast. Rural—to the fields to tend the crops, drop off the grain, hay, etc. Urban—rush hour/traffic jams, subways, daily commute. College—what’s 5:30 a.m.?!? Late to class, forget teeth, pull on yesterday’s clothes (now where are they?). Grab a Pop Tart. Whoops. Wrong class— it’s Monday.

Every phase of life creates its own pattern, its own routine. To a very large extent we are governed by the commitments we have made to the farm, our families, our jobs, or our education. Very few of us wake up at 10:00 a.m. and wonder what day it is and ponder what do I want to do today? We need to earn a living—work, to bring income into our bank accounts to meet our needs and some of our wants. [It is odd, though, that as we age, what we once considered a need we later realize was actually a want; and our wants grow less and less, falling under the perspective of time, wisdom and things that are truly important.]

Eventually, our routine, our life-pattern fades to become the backdrop for all we do. We become governed by the unconscious regularity of our daily schedule. We define ourselves by what we do, and lose track of any idea of who we are. Character development gives way to business savvy and the desire to get ahead; then we live for the weekends. In farming, we define ourselves by working sunrise to sunset, seven days a week. We are what we do, in North America; this is the way it has been since before the industrial revolution, more than a century ago.

Still, in those fleeting quiet moments, on the tractor or on the commuter train, even with the world swirling all around you, have you ever wondered if you might do just one thing that is significant? Have you ever wanted to make a difference on a grander scale, a national platform, a worldwide stage? In war, ordinary people find themselves heroes, merely by rising to the occasion. In ordinary life we rarely have to rise to the occasion. Or do we?

Try this—  For no other reason than to make a difference, give some money away to a worthwhile cause…, or to someone you know is going through hard times. Anonymously. Volunteer in a Mission soup kitchen, hire someone who needs a job and train them, join a short term mission trip to Haiti, Ghana, southern India, Appalachia, New York City, East LA. Do not do it to feel good about yourself. Sacrifice is about sacrifice, not calculated comfort or feel-good. It is about serving, loving, caring, giving—expecting nothing in return. [Example— read The Gospel of Matthew, The Bible.]

Can you really go on living just another day? Do something to make a difference!

Have a nice week.