Tuesday, July 04, 2023


Here is a test post of what patriotism ought to be. From an Anglican vicar

Sunday, May 20, 2018


Here's one of the most provocative postings so far on my new devotional blog, Quicksand, Rocks, and Shallows. It talks of how in 1902, an African American pastor was talking of the fear from lynching experienced by black Americans.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Preview of new devotional

"In the garret of a three story brick house they lived, huddled together, stricken with smallpox, almost destitute of food, fearing to call for medical attendance lest they should be carried back into slavery. While death stared them in the face, fugitive slave hunters rapped at the door of the front room. These inhuman beasts were misled, and shortly after the family was left at Roxbury, Pa. (the uncle having gone to sea), where the faithful mother toiled night and day at washing, to support her children. They returned to Philadelphia, and from there moved to Bordentown, Pa,, where in 1862, the son, William, was apprenticed to a dentist. The doctor was kind to him and William soon learned so thoroughly the profession that he often operated upon some of the best families in the city. But the spirit of the doctor changed and William was treated unkindly ; becoming disgusted he ran away and enlisted in the Forty-first United States Colored troops. His army life was not uneventful ; he took part in battles around Petersburg, Hatches Run and Appomattox Court-house, and was present at the surrender of Lee, the crisis out of which our own happier cycle of years has been evolved. He was- discharged September 13. 1865. and in 1866- '67 worked as journeyman at his trade for Dr. W. H. Longfellow, a colored dentist of Philadelphia. He was converted in 1867 and joined the white Baptist Church in Bordentown. Although a colored man in the church, he was treated kindly and when his call to the ministry was made known, they rallied to his assistance and supported him in school for three years. The New Jersey State Educational Society aided him at Madison University, where he graduated in 1868, taking the Academic course. September, 1868, found him matriculated at Rochester University, and in that city, he labored with the Baptist Church as pastor. In 1870, he entered Howard University, graduating in 1873." W. BISHOP JOHNSON, D. D., LL. D., "Eulogy on William J. Simmons, D. D., LL. D. " The scourging of a race, and other sermons and addresses  1904
This was written by W. Bishop Johnson, pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Washington, DC, copyright 1094. I have collected digital copies of over a hundred books of sermons from the public domain. I started to look at what the pastors were saying about various humanitarian problems. Some offered pleas for help and stern warnings against abuse of various oppressed classes. The fascinating thing was how many pastors also wrote about the problems in an incidental way. Consider the passage above. This pastor writes about people suffering from smallpox. In this passage there is no direct appeal for the reader or for God to help -- although certainly there is a great need for this, and one of the motivations for this project. You'll get plenty of that before we're done here! But this mention is very incidental, as it was perfectly natural for a pastor to have smallpox victims among the people he ministered to.  Is this how we run our churches today?  We may be willing to go on great mission trips abroad, for a year or a weekend, but do we have relationships with people living under conditions as desperate as those above? The passage may also allow us to infer something about epidemiology. The family of fugitive slaves was hiding out from kidnappers, and so was fearful to call for medical attention. With no help, the disease may spread from one person to another living in those cramped conditions, and then break out with greater ferocity into the general public later. How does this fit into a devotional booklet? We can pray for these sufferings. In this project, we may consider some 500 ways that humans have suffered, and Christian pastors have written about it. Across the various excerpts we shall study as devotionals, we'll see pleas for help, warnings against abuse, mirrors to Christ's passion, expressions of hope that God will alleviate suffering and that there will be no more tears in the life to come. You can pray for help, pray for forgiveness and God's mercy, for God's grace. You can reflect on ways you can help. You can gain a greater appreciation for how much mercy God does have on us. I hope that this exercise will not seem to futile or depressing, but at least we'll be praying for those who are suffering in real ways around us. Reflection: who are we making illegal today? PRAYER: Dear Lord, we are thankful for the doctors and researchers who have made progress in fighting smallpox. Bless the doctors and educators who are currently working on the next big problem. Show us ways to help reduce the suffering.  Also help us to find ways to seek to better the lives of "illegal people."

Monday, December 28, 2015

Wonder why the other one showed up so small

Trying cropping the image didn't help, but I had to edit the blogger HTML. I made the displayed image be the "s1600" size.

Another comic

This one done rather quickly.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

New comic up

This one really isn't done in one sitting. But I think I might have a creative path forward on the Ipad that involves Sketchbook and UPAD3.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Favorite news sites to visit with ad blocker in IOS 9.

I installed the ad-blocking extension "Purify" for Safari and then visited several news sites.  The following wouldn't play nicely with an ad-blocker: Time magazine, The Times of London, and Forbes.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

On Pastor Tullian's MP3's

You may have heard that Pastor Tullian Tchividjian has resigned from his position at Coral Ridge Presbyterian due to adultery.

Here are my thoughts:

I wish for closure for the unnamed persons alleged to be involved in adultery.

I wish closure for Pastor Tullian's family.

I wish closure for Pastor Tullian.

I wish closure for Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.

By closure I mean getting to a point where healing, forgiveness, peace, and getting on with life where there is no more fear of new, temporal consequences for any old actions that took place this year. Walking in grace.

I wish a modest level of financial comfort for Pastor Tullian so that he can get back to making new sermons available to the public. 

I wish that God would continue to bless and prosper the ministry of CRPC.

I wish that God would continue to raise up preachers with an understanding of the Gospel as Tullian has had. Sometimes I've wondered, even been asked by a friend, if I'm too obsessed with Tullian, the man. But I think the exact reason that his preaching struck a chord with me is the vocabulary. He reminded us of the exact meaning and scope of grace.

The above are all my sincerely held convictions that I am praying for. They are also my nicer thoughts. 

Here are my less-nice thoughts.

Did Tullian need to travel so much?

Are the mentors, close friends, and employers of any theological genius necessarily going to be as profound or even "listenable" as the genius? Do we need to pretend that if a gift in preaching were given to one, that all four get it equally? I will admit that when I hear the other guys on the podcast of CRPC sermons, I would often fast forward to the end. Let me ask, are all four pastors afforded an equal share of writing chapters in any books written from this group?

I understand that Tim Keller is pastor of a multi-pastor congregation, yet there is an iTunes podcast feed with sermons only by himself. Is this dangerous rock-star treatment of Tim, or an acknowledgment of the gift? I don't wish anything bad for the other pastors, but I bet I wouldn't go to great lengths to get their MP3's.

Now we come to the most recent developments in the case. CRPC used to have a podcast feed and a website featuring the sermons of all its pastors. Tullian's sermons have been removed from this view.  There used to be podcast feeds and websites for Liberate.net and pastor tullian.com, but these have been removed from view. CRPC out an explanation on their site saying that this was done to protect Tullian and his family.

Here I have two objections:

1) Does this make any sense -- cannot damage to Tullian and his family, is such a thing were possible, be done using his books, sermons on YouTube, or the MP3's folks already have on their hard drives? The enemies would have plenty of ammo elsewhere.

2) If the answer were, but look at all the other sermons we have made available by these four other pastors. This is where I have to say no, gifts in preaching are not given out equally to everyone at a particular site.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Tip for driving traffic to a blog

I have a blog where I post three very interesting videos about the ocean every day. I've got them post-dated so the machine keeps going every day. Of course, I provide curation, in making sure that the selected posts are high quality, etc.

I am using twitterfeed.com to auto-generate tweets announcing each new post.  This twitterfeed engine is running 24/7, making a constant stream of tweets.  

The two graphs below represent hits to the blog, melikestheocean.blogspot.com. The graphs represent hits over the past week and past month, respectively. Note that there is a long flat baseline to the curve: this is a measure of success for the twitter stream.

 I also, Friday morning during breakfast and before retiring, used stumbleupon.com to add about four posts each time. Stumbleupon allows you to "Add a Page" to their stream of pages that users who are interested in a particular topic will see. It is a sort of "captive audience".

The two spikes in the week's curve represent my two sessions of adding pages to stumbleupon.  The month's chart show the success if thus approach compared to that of the steady twitterfeed. There's been a completely steady stream of posts every day, just a big difference in the effectiveness.

Granted, the stumbleupon process is manual and limits you to about ten pages per day, but it is effective.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Why are your Google Adsense "ad impressions" counts lower than your page hits?

I read with respect these earlier defenses of why Adsense impressions could be different from other counter impressions.
Neither arguments were entirely satisfying to me. I for example was seeing, in the Blogger Stats for my Ocean Videos site, more than 30 hits PER DAY, whereas Google Adsense only saw 28/WEEK. I was even more puzzled, based on studying the difference in page hits between various posts. I had been sending out tweets for each new posting, and tweets that I knew were more-well-written and/or to more-interesting pages were getting a 3-5X higher number of hits. This seemed to be proof that Adsense was messed up. (I didn't think Google was scamming us but that perhaps there were some laziness or lack of clarity about the policy for "activating" ads).

I noticed that the minimum number of hits was 3 for a tweet. So I tested the "tweet interestingness" theory by using a junk, alternative Twitter account with only 32 followers. I put in four nonsense-letters, followed by a link. It got at least 3 hits. This made me wonder if there were THREE bots scanning twitter, and hitting on every URL posted.

So I did some math. I took the top ten page hits according to the Blogger stats, and subtracted three from every page. The total was 25. Google Adsense's performance report over the same period said I had 28 impressions.

Mystery solved. There are three bots harvesting (my) Twitter-posted URL's. Adsense ignores the bots.