Sunday, May 29, 2005

An Open Letter to the Youth of Redeemer Presbyterian Church

I doubt that any of you read my blog on a regular basis. In fact, I’d be surprised if more than one or two of you even know that I’m keeping this blog. It’s not something that I’ve advertised at our church. No particular reason, really, just haven’t done it. So, I don’t know how I am going to make sure that you are able to see this post. But perhaps that is a problem for another day. Today I will simply spill out my heart. God has placed you on my heart. For many years, I have had a particular care and concern for teens and, now that I am a part of this church, I have that care for you. I know what the world is like out there. In fact, in some ways, I am amazed that any teen survives to age eighteen intact. Something usually gets broken along the way, doesn’t it? These days that can sometimes mean suicide, but it’s true in smaller ways, too. The pain of rejection when you’re not quite like the others. The pressure to yield to illicit pleasures, to drugs, to sex. The struggle to remain a faithful Christian in the face of apathy or outright opposition. Back when I was in high school, there were only three teens in the church where my father pastured. There was myself, Michelle, and Erica. During those four years, I watched them slip away, falling farther and farther from the faith. Michelle eventually became pregnant out of wedlock, and Erica renounced the faith completely. Three of us, in a solid, Presbyterian church, and only one of us made it. Even in my own Christian high school, there were times that I felt out of place, like my serious desire to do good work and learn to honor Jesus was strange. It’s hard to be a teen. But I’m old now. Not “grey-haired” old, but still older than I once was. It has been eleven years since I graduated, and my life is very different than what it once was. I am married, with children of my own to care for. Still, sometimes after worship, I watch you and I wonder where you will be in five years. I want to know your struggles, I want to reach out to you, to help you, to befriend you, so that maybe you will pull through to the other side. But I feel the divide sometimes. An entire decade divides us, and so you go your way, and I go mine. I had no delusions that somehow my aid or advice will make all the difference. Still, I wish that I could somehow do more to help you. So I want you to know a few things. First, I will be praying for you. Satan is gunning for you. I believe this with all my heart. He is out there, seeking to tear you apart, and it’s not going to get any easier. So I will be praying that God will sustain you, that He will hedge you about with angels, and that He would give you the strength that you need to stand and fight when you need to fight. Second, I would like to be your friend. I know that we don’t really have as much in common as your other friends, but perhaps we could try. If nothing else, we’re going to have to spend eternity together. We could start getting to know each other now. Third, for whatever it’s worth, I am willing to listen to your problems. I want to be there to help you, however I can. I don’t know if any of you will read this, but perhaps you will. So, Ian, William, Abigail, Lydia, Samuel, Theo, know that you are in my heart and in my prayers. Your brother in Christ, Seth Ben-Ezra

In A Dark and Quiet Room, Part 6

(The previous installment can be found here.) No gurgle from the box this time, but another key has appeared on my key ring. This one is made of pure crystal. I turn it over and stare at it in wonder. The light dances and shimmers on it. It is one of the most beautiful things that I have seen. Key 4

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Problems Are For Solving: Take a Step Back

Problems Are For Solving: Take a Step Back And now for a word on convictions. This is, of course, because I am apparently incapable of posting any extensive original material of late. Perhaps I will remedy this at some point.

Friday, May 27, 2005


endings and beginnings: chapter 25 - a little bit of closure How are we doing at binding up the broken-hearted?

Making Fiends

Making Fiends Someone at church told me about this site, but I saw it for the first time today. This is funny stuff.

Ambrose Bierce on Baptism

From the Devil's Dictionary:
DELUGE, n. A notable first experiment in baptism which washed away the sins (and sinners) of the world.
Funny, but I think that he actually has a point.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

And the lights came back on

My apologies for the downtime. Apparently Blogger was having issues, but now all is well with the world.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

And now for these commercial messages...

I am trying to convert some of my unused games into cash so that I can turn them into new games. Given that I haven't played these games in several years and that I might be able to play some of the new games with my children, this seemed like a good idea. If nothing else, I can clear my shelves of some junk. That sounds like a good idea. So anyways, my lovely wife just placed several items on eBay. Please check them out or tell your friends about them. For a complete listing of the auctions, click here. Alternately, search for "scbenezra" on eBay. Thank you for your support.

Monday, May 23, 2005

More on Humor

An acknowledgment of the ongoing persistence of our frailties is, after all, the central groundwork for all comedic expression.... We need a sense of humor. Without it, we lose the ability to criticize ourselves. Seriousness, after all, can be an excruciatingly inhumane taskmaster. Its vision is very often too small. It doesn't want to know, for instance, that the person disagreeing with us or whose very existence offends has, as it turns out, a really nice smile. It doesn't want to hear that a Samaritan would do a thing like that. No time for it. We have to keep an eye on seriousness. It can make us treat people very unkindly. As Percy says of sentimentality, it leads to the gas chamber. Seriously.
--David Dark, Everyday Apocalypse

Sunday, May 22, 2005

On Being Indie (some links)

I keep adding to the list of topics that I should write about, so here I'll open up a topic, so that I'll get nagged to write about it later. The issue is creator ownership of intellectual property, also known as being an independent artist. The short short version of the argument is that the general approach to distribution and marketing of creative properties is fundamentally screwed up. Here are a couple articles that discuss the issue in a two different media: The Cheaping of the Comics by Bill Watterson (the creator of the Calvin & Hobbes comic strip) The Nuked Apple Cart by Ron Edwards (the creator of the Sorcerer roleplaying game) And I'll get back to this later. Honest.....

Polytheism as Politics

Protesters Besiege Laura Bush During Jerusalem Visit I ask a simple question. Should it bother us as Christians that our leader sends his wife on a pilgrimage to the holy sites of two other religions? Of course, this is not the first time that such activities have occurred: Bush 'Worship' at Shinto Temple Troubles Christians in Japan and U.S. From this article:
Sadly, many Japanese and Korean Christians were severely persecuted because they refused to participate in Shinto rituals, which involved bowing down and worshipping the emperor and other false gods. “Japanese Christians are furious,” Dr. Morey says. “They were killed because they wouldn’t bow before the image of the emperor,” he says. “Korean Christians had their hands chopped off because they wouldn’t bow and worship the emperor,” he adds. Korea was ruled as a colony of Japan between 1910-1945. “Their descendants see the Bushes making a mockery of those who, like Daniel and his three friends, refused to bow before a heathen idol.” For the most part, American Christians who admire President Bush hope and believe he acted innocently, out of respect for local customs and traditions. But Japanese Christian leaders do not take it lightly. “According to the Shinto ritual, clapping hands and bows are the set of Shinto style of worship,” says Rev. Isaac Ishiguro, of the historic Mino Mission in Japan. “In Japan all the media reported, ‘Bush Sanpaied at Meiji shrine.’” he says. “The verb ‘Sanpai’ in Japanese means, san—visit or go, and pai—worship.”
Various empires of the past have used religion as a tool of politics. Cyrus of the Persian Empire often styled himself as a god of a local pantheon. The Roman Empire kept local religions intact, so long as they would be willing to add Caesar to the order of worship. I must confess that I tend to relegate such practices into the dim recesses of the distant past. After all, we're so much more civilized and sophisticated, right?

Saturday, May 21, 2005

In my continuing attempts to embarrass my sister...

Here's a link to her new blog! Embarrassing link

Friday, May 20, 2005

Is your bed on fire?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Another Definition

poetry n. 1. The art of naming 2. The art of saying that "A" is "C".

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Quote of the Day

We believe that we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us; we are their creatures, shaped by their hard, defining edges. When soldiers take their oath they are given a coin, an asimi stamped with the profile of the Autarch. Their acceptance of that coin is their acceptance of the special duties and burdens of military life--they are soldiers from that moment, though they may know nothing of the management of arms. I did not know that then, but it is a profound mistake to believe that we must know of such things to be influenced by them, and in fact to believe so is to believe in the most debased and superstitious kind of magic. The would-be sorcerer alone has faith in the efficacy of pure knowledge; rational people know that things act of themselves or not at all. The Shadow of the Torturer, Gene Wolfe

Thursday, May 12, 2005

In A Dark and Quiet Room, Part 5

(The previous installment can be found here.) The locked box gurgles loudly, startling me. I jump and look around. Is it my imagination, or has the box become larger? I curl myself into the corner furthest from the box, and in my mind, I curse it. But now two more keys have appeared on my table: Key 2 Key 3 I sigh.

John Newton on Godly Disputation

A Guide to Godly Disputation (PDF) An excerpt which spoke to me: "As to your opponent, I wish that before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord’s teaching and blessing. This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and pity him; and such a disposition will have a good influence upon every page you write. If you account him a believer, though greatly mistaken in the subject of debate between you, the words of David to Joab concerning Absalom, are very applicable: 'Deal gently with him for my sake.' The Lord loves him and bears with him; therefore you must not despise him, or treat him harshly. The Lord bears with you likewise, and expects that you should show tenderness to others from a sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself. In a little while you will meet in heaven; he will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now. Anticipate that period in your thoughts, and though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul, with whom you are to be happy in Christ forever. But if you look upon him as an unconverted person, in a state of enmity against God and his grace (a supposition which, without good evidence, you should be very unwilling to admit), he is a more proper object of your compassion than of your anger. Alas! 'He knows not what he does.' But you know who has made you to differ. If God, in his sovereign pleasure, had so appointed, you might have been as he is now; and he, instead of you, might have been set for the defense of the gospel. You were both equally blind by nature. If you attend to this, you will not reproach or hate him, because the Lord has been pleased to open your eyes, and not his. Of all people who engage in controversy, we, who are called Calvinists, are most expressly bound by our own principles to the exercise of gentleness and moderation."

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Wound That Will Not Heal

I was wrong. Yesterday, at a prayer meeting at work, I completely fell apart. I have no idea where it came from, but suddenly I found myself sobbing in the conference room, because I missed Mom so much. The other men who were there gathered around me and prayed for me. That was good. But in the end, it still hurt. Dinner wasn’t much better. I wound up in the quiet room at home, curled up next to my wife, in tears. I love Lord of the Rings. Mom first gave it to me to read when I was ten or so, and I’ve read it many times since then. Each time through I discover more to love about those books. Among other things, Tolkien understood that sometimes the world moves on, and the golden days are lost, and there is nothing that anyone can do to turn back the clock. He knew about the wound that will not heal, that time cannot erase, the pain that grabs tight and will not let go. He knew that true healing could only be found in heaven. (Aside: this is why the Scouring is such a vital part of Lord of the Rings and why, IMHO, the movies ultimately fail to convey the weight of the story. Why does Frodo have to leave? The movies don’t communicate the weight of Frodo’s wounding and so cannot explain Frodo's passage into the West.) But, in the Gospels, when Jesus appears to His disciples in His resurrection body, He still bears the scars of His crucifixion. The renewed body of the firstfruits of the dead, the Exemplar of the Faith, still bears the wounds that He received here during His life. Why? Did the Resurrection fail to completely renew His body? I’ve heard this explained as something unique to Jesus, but, as I was thinking about this yesterday, I began to wonder if this explanation were wrong. After all, I don’t think that we will forget our sufferings here on earth. I wonder if the wounds and the scars that we gain here on earth will follow us to heaven, where they will be glorified. We will see our pain in its true context, and it will only lend to our joy. When Jesus looks at the hole in His hand, does He remember the faithfulness of His God in times past? Does this lead to His rejoicing in the assembly? (Psalm 22:25) Will this be the same for us? My pastor has said that we learn here on earth how to enjoy heaven. So perhaps I am not as crazy as I first thought. Maybe, in heaven, I will remember the pain of loss and be better able to rejoice in the endless coming home, the grand gathering of the saints, never again to be parted. And I will look at the scar of the wound that would not heal and rejoice that it has finally healed. But why does it need to take so long?

Monday, May 09, 2005

Regarding the recent brouhaha

Highlands Study Center Squiblog Once again showing what I like about this man.

In A Dark and Quiet Room, Part 4

(The previous installment can be found here.) I have far too much work to do to be sitting down in this room. I have a book to edit and prepare for layout. I should be doing that. So, instead, I have decided to procrastinate. Procrastinate? Maybe not. Maybe I am just reminding myself why I write in the first place. But no matter. It is time for more interior decorating. In the corner opposite the locked box is a go-ban. Games can make such beautiful decorations, and Go is quite possibly the best example of this. The utter simplicity of the game which produces such profound complexity is truly a thing of beauty. But I also enjoy simply looking at the components themselves. Hmm. Do I have room over there for a few more games? I believe so. In that case, I will set up my Zertz set over here. For fun, I think that I will use the set that I assembled. This is another game that I find is beautiful to the eyes. There is something visually satisfying about these games, quite independent of the actual gameplay. Of course, the other thing that these games have in common is that I cannot find opponents for them. Ah well. But for now, while I fire up the laptop and prepare to edit, I will contemplate the serene order and beauty of these games. Perhaps it will enable me to focus on the work at hand.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

now i can blog from my cellphone

Not sure if it is worth the effort, though

Mother's Day

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. You may have noticed. I didn't. Actually, I forgot completely. I was so busy planning Crystal's birthday that I forgot to plan anything for Mother's Day. This is okay with her, although I'm not going to expect a Father's Day celebration. The urgency from the holiday seems to be gone for me. After all, my mother is dead. And, by the way, I consider it a small personal triumph that I can consider that thought without breaking into tears. I saw a bee today. It was buzzing around in the kitchen, trying to figure out how to get out of the strange white hive into which it had blundered. I opened the back door and ushered it into freedom. It was a bee that ushered my mother into freedom. So small, yet still so potent. My mother was outside in the garden, when she was stung by a bee. Soon thereafter, she went into anaphalactic shock and died. No, I don't know what that means, and I'm probably happier that way. It’s easier to think that Mom collapsed on the dining room floor and went home to be with Jesus. I’d rather not know the details. But I didn't want to write about my mother's death. I've already done that many times, and perhaps I will share those writings with all of you in another post. Instead, I wanted to write about my mother's life. Life. My mother was filled with life. It bubbled up in her and spilled over into everything that she did. My mother never did anything small. No, it had to be huge, bursting with life and enthusiasm. Big bright birthday parties. Big bright flower gardens. Big bright weddings. And, invariably, in the middle of all the happy chaos, was Mom, dressed in her brightest colors, reveling in the insanity of it all. Mom loved parties. As a result, she became quite good at finding obscure reasons to celebrate. I recall celebrating Mole Day (October 23), Flag Day, the Summer Solstice, and (a personal favorite) The First Picnic Of The Year, held on January 1. Yes, it was snowing, but so what? There were days that I was certain that Mom was casting about for some reason, any reason, to throw a party. Mom loved her garden. For a variety of reasons, she had a personal vendetta against grass, and so she took any opportunity to tear it from the ground and replace it with flowers. The yard of her house overflowed with flowers, which could be seen from the other end of the block. She had even dug several ponds in the back yard and laid a patio from slate and other flat stones scavenged from local creeks. At night, she would sit on her patio, drinking sangria and listening to the running water and the croaking frogs. Mom loved her children. I know that we have all dabbled in various pursuits that were foreign to her. Some of us dove headlong into strange hobbies and interests. Um, like, er, me. Her children were not normal by any stretch of the imagination. But, regardless of the obscurity of the topic or the strangeness of the pursuit, Mom was always right there, doing her best to understand and show interest. I know that she didn’t always understand, but, even at those times, she loved us enough to fake it and try. A certain story about a Servants of Cthulhu costume comes to mind, but the telling of that will have to wait for another day. As an adult, I have heard more of my mother’s story, and I know that her life was not always easy. I know that there were times in her life that she was within inches of giving up and throwing it all away. But, oddly enough, these are some of the times from my childhood that I remember the most fondly. Because, you see, Mom always found some way to conjure joy and happiness out of any situation, even the hardest ones. Last night we celebrated Samuel’s birthday. He just turned four. So, for his party, we held a campout in the back yard. We grilled hot dogs, toasted marshmallows over a fire, and ate s’mores. Then, as nighttime crept across the sky, we crawled into our tent and fell asleep. It was the sort of thing that Mom would have done. Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


silence n. a virtue found in few bloggers

A Sad Memory

For some reason, a simple memory haunts me. In the grand scheme of things, I guess that it isn't all that big of a deal. Except to me. The date was October 31, 1997. My bride of four months had arrived to pick me up from work. She was beautiful that day, all the more because she was dressed up as a clown. Goofy clothing, funky makeup. I distinctly remember that she had drawn a smiley face on her face. She was so very happy. Bubbly, even. Happy to see me. Happy to be laughing. And it broke my heart to see her. And I remember watching her face fall when I told her that I had just been laid off. Newly married, a child on the way, and now unemployed again. The life drained out of her. The joy, the laughter, all of it. Vanished. There is nothing sadder than a sad clown. It still breaks my heart when I remember it.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I Know Moon-Rise

I know moon-rise, I know star-rise,
Lay this body down. I walk in the moonlight, I walk in the starlight, To lay this body down. I 'll walk in the graveyard, I 'll walk through the graveyard, To lay this body down. I 'll lie in the grave and stretch out my arms ; Lay this body down. I go to the judgment in the evenin' of the day, When I lay this body down ; And my soul and your soul will meet in the day When I lay this body down. --from "Negro Spirituals"

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Mike Defends Himself

Me and You and God Makes...Five.: I've Been Provoked, Part I Sadly, many of the problems that Mike describes sound very similar to the Reformed shooting matches that we see so frequently. Also, see this: The Mark

Calvin and Beer FYI, it's Flash, but I found it to be amusing.


CONFLICT IN MASSACHUSETTS April 20, 1775 Boston (AP)--Government forces sustained heavy casualties today in a series of armed clashes with insurgent forces throughout the Massachusetts countryside. According to an army spokesman, a force of 700 soldiers under General Gage's command were deployed to secure an arms depot and terrorist leaders Sam Adams and John Hancock of the "Sons of Liberty". A resistance group calling itself the "Lexington Minutemen", alerted by signals from a nearby church, engaged Gage's soldiers on Lexington Green but was quickly dispersed. The arms cache was secured, but the whereabouts of Adams and Hancock are still unknown. In his daily briefing, General Gage said that he was pleased with the outcome of today's operations and expressed his opinion that further armed conflict would be minimal.