Friday, October 25, 2013

Bug or Feature?

Is it a bug or a feature? Anyone who's worked with new software or has a programmer friend (and if you do, God bless you) will be familiar with the concept. The shiny new program does something... unexpected... and you joke about whether it's an error, or a feature they just neglected to tell you about. Some are wonderful, but often it's something wrong.

Anyway, I thought about that when I saw this tweet from Adrian Warnock defending(?) the Charismatic movement in the wake of the Strange Fire conference:

So first off, I'm not sure if he's offering a defense or conceding. Wasn't it a large part of the Strange Fire case that the Charismatic movement is overwhelmingly full of "crooks, cons and cookies"? It would be tempting to just say "you're exactly right, now what are you going to do about it?" and move on.

But we need to press a step further.

It's obvious to anyone (except maybe discernment masters like James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll - who, lest we forget, absolutely should know better) that this movement is overrun by heretics and charlatans. It's nice to see Warnock agree. But the question remains, is this a bug of the system, or is it a feature?

Is the flood of "crooks, cons, and cookies" a bug - an error resulting from a few bad lines of code in an otherwise sound program, that can be fixed by a simple patch? Does it just need a minor recalibration, maybe a reboot, and everything will run smoothly? No doubt this is where Warnock stands - it's a good program, but inevitably something goes wrong somewhere, and BOOM - heretics!

Or is it a feature - is it how the system is designed? Is this overwhelming amount of heretics exactly what you'd expect when the system works? I think, and I believe MacArthur and friends made the case very convincingly, that this is an utterly predictable result of the distinctives of Charismatic theology. It's not an occasional aberration; the faithful ones like Piper, Grudem, Warnock, etc are the aberrations.

What else would you expect from a system that promises ongoing divine revelation apart from scripture? People will say all kinds of garbage and claim it's God. Or some will define prophecy down, so God's word will become errant and/or can be ignored at will. Gee, what could possibly go wrong with that?

What else would you expect from a system that teaches a second-tier, higher-plane experience for only some believers, which manifests itself in a particular physical act? Do you think maybe people will try to make themselves do that, and fake it till they make it?

What do you expect when such obvious fakery cannot be questioned under fear of blaspheming the Spirit?

We could go on, but I think that's sufficient for now. Why would we expect anything other than an overwhelming number of blatant false teachers, when all the distinctives of that theology promote the faking of supernatural revelation and signs? Another programming saying comes to mind - garbage in, garbage out.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Budgeting for Adults

I want to make a few points about the current chaos from Washington, but before I do, we need to be on the same page. So this will be sort of an Economics 101 - no, it's much more remedial than that, let's call it Economics 001. This is simply how an adult sets a budget, and the basic principles apply from the personal to the multi-trillion dollar level. This is stuff everyone should know, the sort of thing anyone who wants to be considered a grownup should have down, but, well, look around.

Essentials first. If you only had $100 this month, what would you spend it on? I reckon you'd probably make sure you have food before you have the latest UFC pay-per-view. Food: essential. Entertainment: non-essential.

What do you need? Make sure you have funds allotted for those things first. If you can't afford food/shelter/clothing because you bought Legos, you're a moron, no matter how cool those Legos may be.

Add luxuries in order of importance. Once the vitals are taken care of, add on everything else (and yes, everything non-essential is a luxury). If you had another $100, what would you do with it? Another $100 after that? And so on, until all your income is accounted for. It may be adding a new item, like getting cable. It could be increasing a previous allocation - bumping the food budget so you can go to a nice restaurant. It could be something non-immediate, like savings. Whatever is next-most-important, set aside the money for that.

Note that some categories are purely luxury, but some are a mix of essential and luxury. Food, for instance. The cost of subsistence-level food is essential; everything above that is luxury. A very great luxury to have, mind you, and one you would be wise to invest in quickly. But it's still non-essential.

When all the money is allocated, there is no more. If you have $50k in income, and $65k in allocated spending, u r doin it rong. If you don't have the money, you don't have the money. Either re-prioritize so it's paid for (which will require eliminating or cutting funds to something else) or learn to live without it for now.

That's it. Really. No matter what plan or technique you find, they all come down to this. Prioritize your needs/wants, and allocate funds in order of importance.

Now, let's take this ultra-basic principle and look at the government quasi-shutdown. What can we observe?

They keep using the word 'essential'. I do not think it means what they think it means. It's hard to believe everything 'non-essential' has been shut down when it's running at about 83% capacity (which is still at deficit, by the way). Would you believe 5/6 of your household expenditures are so essential that you can't cut so much as a penny from them? Yet somehow we're supposed to believe this about the government - they can't cut even a penny from these areas for even a few weeks!

So what makes something essential for the federal government? I would suggest several qualifications. (1) It must be a necessary function of a nation; that is, any nation which lacks it is not a nation at all. Examples include the ability to make, execute, and adjudicate laws, and the ability to repel attacks. (2) It must be necessary that this function is performed at the federal level. If state or local governments (or private entities) can do it, it's not essential for the federal government.

Which means that a whole host of programs, departments, and agencies are non-essential luxuries. Some are nice to have, but not necessary for the survival of a nation. Some could just as easily be done at lower levels of government. Even some things we like, like Defense, are a blend of essential and luxury (we may be willing to pay for the luxury of everything above survival-level military, but let's at least be honest that it is a luxury). Some programs are so utterly non-essential, they don't just need a temporary partial shutdown, they need to go away entirely.

When money is short, you cut the least important things first. If you don't have enough one month, you don't buy the Eddie Rabbit tickets while your kids go without food. The most important things are the first to get funded and the last to get cut, and the first things to get cut are the least important. At least if you're an adult, anyway.

If you want to know what politicians value, look at what they threaten to cut first if they don't get more money. Locally it's always liberals threatening to cut police, firefighters, teachers, and hospitals, which I guess means they consider them almost completely unnecessary. Now look at what Obama and his cronies have decided to cut first vs what remains instact, and tell me what he values. Many 'cuts' have been to programs that actually provide some benefit to the public, and the 'cuts' have often cost more than full operation, which would seem odd for a shutdown except that a petulant child is in charge. Which brings me to the last point.

If you are in a financial crunch, and your instinct is to spend more money to antagonize the people who pay the bills, you are despicable. Not that anyone would ever stoop so low, of course.