Dr. Seuss Banned

Banned by Ebay

Ebay bans sales of select Dr. Seuss titles.  So roared the headline on the London Daily Mail.

I was reading the article, thinking I wasn’t going to write about this on my blog, but then I read something in there that gave me pause.

But first let me recap what’s going on for clarity.  While Dr. Seuss’ six banned books are still available on Amazon – and elsewhere, I assume – Ebay has shut down any notices of those books being for sale for violating their “offensive material” policy.

Meanwhile Hitler’s and Louis Farrakhan’s books remain available complete with their anti-Semitic rants.  You can even get copies of The Communist Manifesto.

Forgive me, but when Hitler is given a pass over Dr. Seuss, why do I feel like I’m at a Nazi Germany digital book burning?

Whatever happened to free speech?  What is it really?  The last big scene from An American President sums it up perfectly.

“America isn’t easy.  America is advance citizenship.  You’ve got to want it bad, because it’s going to put up a fight.  It’s going to say, ‘You want free speech?  Let’s see you acknowledge a man who’s words  make your blood boil who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours…Show me that!  Defend that!  Celebrate that in your classrooms!  Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free!”

You really should watch the clip on YouTube.  The section quoted above starts at 1:00.

Difference of opinions and views and debate are the backbone of freedom.  They are the building blocks of a great society, improving understanding of others and self.

So, what got me going in the article?  Here are the few words that made me start thinking:

(Dr. Seuss’) step-daughter, Lark Grey Dimond-Cates,… said she was informed a day earlier about the decision to pull the six books. 

“I think in this day and age it’s a wise decision,” she said. “I think this is a world that right now is in pain, and we’ve all got to be very gentle and thoughtful and kind with each other.  We’re taking that into account and being thoughtful. We don’t want to upset anybody.”

I submit to you that while she is certainly trying to be considerate, she is not being helpful.  True, we should speak with other’s feelings in mind, but that does not include stifling differences.  It is simply a matter of voicing them without anger or malice.  Sometimes it’s even about kidding each other about them as friends often do!

Dr. Seuss told stories that were told in light of his time.  The illustrations were made in the same vein.  The stories overall are great lessons of consideration told by a man who cared very much about people’s relationships.  ALL of his books should remain in print and even celebrated.  Aspects that are no longer completely accurate, as in some of the drawings, can be teaching points about how things used to be, right or wrong.  We should not ban our history.  If we don’t, we are condemned to repeat it, right?

“We don’t want to upset anybody.”  That is a good goal, but it should not cost us our right to freely express ourselves.  It should not come with the price of burying history.

And there is something to be said for challenges and even adversity:

…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.    Romans 5:3-5

Did someone hurt your feelings?  This is an opportunity to grow in love and forgiveness.  It is an opportunity for strength!

I once knew a US Navy commander and asked him about a suicide on an aircraft carrier.  He told me it happens more often than makes the news.  The reason behind most of them is that young men and women coming in have been coddled.  They’re used to getting “participation trophies” and always feeling good, because parents and teachers sheltered them from any sort of hurt or adversity.  They then found themselves ill-quipped to face the trials of life aboard a US warship.

Did Dr. Seuss draw a picture decades ago that manages to offend you today?  Accept him for what a he was and what he accomplished with all his drawings and words.  Respect it!  Few of us have done as much for the world!

Quote for 03/07/2021

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”    John 13:34-35

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Building on yesterday’s thoughts about love, we see today how important it is when Jesus makes loving each other a commandment!  I’m tempted to call it the 11th commandment, but love is really all ten summarized!

This is why we should love our enemies and be good to them.  No one else does that.  No one!!  Will we sometimes be abused for it, taken advantage of for it?  Absolutely!  But everyone will recognize that we are not like everyone else.  Some will not care welcome the opportunity to hurt us more, but others will wonder what our story is.

Then we can talk about Jesus!

Man’s Curiosity

What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? 10 I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.  12 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, 13 and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.    Ecclesiastes 3:9-13

I read a recent article in The Real Truth magazine, Why is Space Exploration the “Stuff of Our Dreams”?  The author’s theory is that curiosity about God’s creation drives us to discover as much as we can, although its entirety will remain beyond our grasp.  He cites several Bible verses to support his argument.

The article was prompted by the recent landing of NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars and the exuberance of NASA personnel and possibly the general population.

“I know it’s been a tough year for everybody,” said imaging scientist Justin Maki, “and we’re hoping that maybe these images will help brighten people’s days.”

Just what NASA found in their sofa cushions…

With a price tag of $3,000,000,000 I sure hope so!  I just don’t see that small respite from the mundane solving any of our current and growing social problems.

And so starts the debate of When Does the Cost Outweigh the Benefits, which is something I see as an integral part of evaluating our curiosity over God’s creation.

I grew up following everything NASA did, starting with the Mercury program on through the Gemini and Apollo programs.  I remember watching the moon landing and Neil Armstrong taking those first historic steps late at night.  It was thrilling!  I’m well aware of the technical advances that we now enjoy thanks to all of the engineering pioneering done to get us there. Still, there comes a time…

The Real Truth article cites a number of technologies we enjoy thanks to learning how to go into orbit and beyond; GPS, technologies applied to industry, medical advances, and such.  The author also cites cell phones, which I question, unless he’s referring to satellite phones, which is a whole other thing.

We need to consider The Law of Diminishing Returns.  From Wikipedia:

In economics, diminishing returns is the decrease in the marginal output a production process as the amount of a single factor of production is incrementally increased, while the amounts of all other factors of production stay constant.

For example, a little fertilizer produces a great lawn.  One can increase the amount and possibly get better results, but at some point, the lawn stops getting better.  Further along, the lawn burns out and dies.

How far do we go off planet before we start “seeing the lawn die”?

What bothered me slightly, the impetus for writing this, is the nagging feeling that the author’s biblical justification for man’ curiosity may not be as well-founded as thought.  My reason for the verse from Ecclesiastes above is that the author uses verse 11 to argue that man’s curiosity is God-given and good.  I suggest that may not be completely true.

Did God put eternity in our hearts so that we would endlessly and expensively pursue knowledge of His entire creation?  Is it possible God put eternity in our hearts so we can appreciate all He has done for us?  Note verse 12:

Ahhhhh…

 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives

Is eternity in our hearts so we can rejoice in all God has done?  Solomon tells us that rejoicing and doing good in our lives is what life is all about.  He pursued all knowledge and pleasure, wasting resources and even his morals to satisfy his curiosity.  Frankly, I see Ecclesiastes as a cautionary tale, not a justification to discover everything we can.

Do good in our lives?  $3,000,000,000 gave a great deal of joy to a small handful of people at NASA.  It provided a temporary diversion for the general population before heading back to our problems.  Aren’t there any greater goods that can be satisfied with that much money?

Finally, if we want to see where curiosity has gotten us, let’s go back to Genesis 3.  The serpent piqued Adam and Eve’s curiosity about what they didn’t know.  We all know how well that turned out.

Do I enjoy the technology I have?  Yes!  The things my car and cell phone can do amaze me.  Back in the 90’s when I first started travelling for my jobs, cars were very simple compared to today.  Cell phones were a luxury, not a staple.  Guess what?  I did very well!  I admittedly would miss what I now have a lot, but I also recognize that all these advances come at a cost.  Some costs I see, some I don’t.

How about we all just eat and drink and enjoy the good of all our labors.  They are the gifts of God!

Quote for 03/06/2021

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;    1 Corinthians 13:4-6

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Love is a beautiful thing.  It is happiness, commitment, safety and more.

Why, then, does 1 Corinthians 13 – the love chapter – dwell on the negatives?  Why does it devote more to what it is not?

It’s because that’s how we all roll!  Our natural, sinful inclinations are to envy, be conceited, be rude, be easily provoked, and derive pleasure from another’s pain.  It’s the same reason the Ten Commandments have more “Thou shall nots” than “Thou shalls.”

Paul goes on to say that love endures all things and never fails.  Anything that tries to pass itself off as love but practices the negatives above, well, it’s a phony love.  It will not endure.

Quote for 03/05/2021

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.    Hebrews 4:12

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The naked dream. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? It’s all about panic, embarrassment, and being trapped – not in a place – but in a situation. There’s no way out but to wake up. If you can!

In the pure, bright, penetrating light of God’s Word we are more than naked. Our thoughts are laid bare. Our very essence, soul and spirit, is exposed. There’s no place to run or hide and no waking up. There’s only one thing to instead of crouching in terror. To borrow a movie quotation:

“It’s time to embrace the horror.”

Stand tall with your arms spread wide and call…no, make that scream for Jesus! God’s wrath will be poised to come thundering down on you for your sins, but if you have accepted Jesus and His loving salvation, the blow of punishment will halt. You couldn’t run from the Word. You shouldn’t.

The Word came running for you. And saved you!

Quote for 03/04/2021

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.    Matthew 5:43-45

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This is a hard teaching!  Love those that hurt us and curse us??

Um…

But Jesus also instructed us to be holy, just as His Father is holy.  And His Father takes great care of everyone regardless of what they think of Him!  In fact, He takes care of unbelievers as well as believers!  He sends the sun and rain to all.

We should do no less with what we can do; love enemies, pray for them, do good to them.  This is part of another Scripture: Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, soul, and mind and your neighbor as yourself.

Whatever good sun and rain are within your possession, you should grace everyone with them.

Yeah, even (insert name here).

Equality

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.  25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…    Ephesians 5:22-25

linked gold wedding rings on white background

People hate this part of Ephesians 5, because they can’t get past Paul telling wives to submit to their husbands.  I challenge to try to grasp what is truly being said here.  Namely, the husband arguably has the tougher role.  If his behavior in marriage is to mimic what Christ has done for the church as His bride, a husband is to make the first move in doing the hard things that need doing.  He has to practice sacrificial behavior in favor of his wife for her benefit.

Her loving response is to submit to him just as the church submits to Christ.  It is not a matter of servitude or slavery.  It is about sacrificial love being rewarded by submissively grateful love!

So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.

There is no overall equality in the world.  How could there be when there are different tasks that need to be done, different roles that contribute to the whole?

As I have often said, issues usually remain muddy – often deliberately so – until terms are precisely defined and applied consistently.

This brings us to today’s topic: Equality.  Namely, the Equality Act.  Conservative Candace Owen had an interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox News.  As usual, she excels at defining issues and not letting others get away with careless and even misleading use of language.

“I find this to be unbelievably offensive: the idea there is nothing different between men and women.  ‘They don’t know what equality is. They don’t know what equality means.  They believe in sameness. Making everybody a carbon copy of the others.”

I don’t know that she’s being deliberately Biblical, but her analysis echoes St. Paul that there are differences between men and women and each have their place in the world.  She believes that people should be treated fairly, but they should not be forced into all being the same!  Here’s her version of equality:

Owens said that conservatives ‘want to make sure there are equal opportunities, but we acknowledge that there are real biological realities that cannot be ignored.’

If equality means equal pay for equal work, then I’m in agreement.

She also brought up the latest hot button on the equality issue…women’s sports:

Conservative activist Candace Owens warned on Monday night that the Equality Act threatened to end competitive sport for women, describing the bill which passed the House last week as ‘unbelievably offensive’ and ‘quite frankly, insulting’.

Her point is supported by Inez Stepman.

On Tuesday Inez Stepman, senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Forum, claimed that the effects of removing sex from criteria had already been felt.

‘In Connecticut, two biologically male athletes won a combined 15 girls state championship races, allegedly taking opportunities for further competition and scholarships from female runners in June 2019,’ she wrote in The Wall Street Journal.

Who is looking after equality for those biologically female athletes who are being displaced by biologically male athletes “identifying” as female??  Mind you, I’m not dismissing their claims that they feel like women in men’s bodies.  I’m not going to play mind reader here.  But there is no denying the fact that such males still have the biology which makes their bodies male and stronger and faster than female bodies.

Then there is the religious aspect.  The Equality Act could force religious organizations to hire people who live a sexual lifestyle that is in opposition to the Bible.  In other words, those organizations would be forced to compromise their beliefs to accommodate the state.  That is the very sort of oppression that motivated the Pilgrims to leave Europe for a life of religious freedom across the Atantic.

Pastor Jonathan Falwell with Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, said the bill would force religious people to hire individuals who disagree with their beliefs, even if they fundamentally clash with their religious beliefs. 

The first amendment to the US Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

The Equality Act certainly prohibits free exercise of religion, if it forces religious institutions to hire people who’s lifestyles undermine core beliefs.

Corporations follow this sort of thing all the time making hiring decisions.  One question is whether someone can do the job.  Equal to that – and sometimes more important – is will they fit in with the corporate culture?  Some companies are willing to hire a match to their corporate culture and work on training them into the job.  That is how important a person’s personality and life style is in impacting an organization’s culture.

Equality.  How do you define it?  St. Paul teaches us that equality is not always a good thing.  It can be damaging to an organization and a society.

Quote for 03/03/2021

Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.    Isaiah 41:10

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Before any Israelite had his jaw pierced with a hook to be led in chains to Babylon, Isaiah and the rest of the Old Testament prophets preached their coming doom, if they did not repent of their ways.  No one paid any attention, but Isaiah’s words were on record.

These are words that promise recovery and salvation regardless of how dire our situation.  Even when it is God correcting us, He reminds us that He is not abandoning us!  God will recover us from all sin and loss…eternally!

Quote for 03/02/2021

He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness, and honor.    Proverbs 21:21

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One of my favorite lines from Shakespeare is a concluding comment on a villain getting his due.

“The whirligig of time brings in his revenges.”

It also brings in its rewards. But it isn’t a guarantee of wealth and prosperity as some preachers – I’m talking to you, Joel Osteen – would have you believe.

I’ve conducted my life as well as I can, and I have sometimes suffered for it. The overall arc of my life, however, has been good. Namely, by trying to do what is right, what God asks of me, I have a good reputation. I have my current job for no other reason than that.

Jesus warned that, since He was persecuted, His disciples should expect to be also.

He then left to prepare places for all of us. That sounds to me like a good life with righteousness and honor lasting forever!

Quote for 03/01/2021

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.    Acts 4:12

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Our Savior’s given name, Yeshua/Yehoshu’a was a common name in 1st century Galilee.  It can also be translated to “Joshua,” which makes a lot of sense.  After all, “Joshua fit the battle of Jericho” as the old spiritual goes!

Even today we use names of historic heroes for our children, perhaps hoping they will live up to the original.

Where does that leave us with today’s verse?  I often cite the truism that Scripture interprets Scripture.  Let’s ask St. Paul what his thoughts are:

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.    2 Corinthians 12:9

This is a common theme in God’s Word to us; He uses the weak to accomplish His great plans for us.

Yes, Christ was weak.  He even told us so!  His strength derived solely from the Father.  He resisted the devil in the wilderness by speaking the Father’s Word to Satan.  He did not rely on Himself.  After that bout, angels ministered to Him in His weakness.

Yeshua was not a name given by any man but was given by God.  Yes, it was a common name, but God directed its use.  He also directed that man.  That is why it is the only name that brings salvation!