11.20.2020 – Is Change Automatic?

I’ve always been a stick shift person.  Seven of the ten cars I have owned in my lifetime have had manual transmissions, beginning with a three-on-the-tree 1966 Mercury Comet.  I like a stick shift. But they are hard to come by these days. While 13% of all car models sold in the U.S. offer a manual transmission, only 2.4% of all cars sold in the United States actually have a stick shift. None offer three on the tree. And, to do a little generation bashing, few millennials or gen-Zers know how to drive a car with a manual transmission. Of course, it’s not the stick shift, it’s the clutch that gets them into trouble.

All that is to say I was sad when I saw the headline in the paper saying they were closing the local clutch factory.  They made clutches for big-rig trucks at the Auburn plant. It turns out that neither the politicians nor the shareholder capitalists, neither government regulation nor woke sensitivities are responsible for the shuttering of the clutch plant.

Blame change. Or maybe blame the millennials.

More and more semis are being sold with automatic transmissions mostly because they are more efficient and partly because too many young drivers have no idea how to drive with a stick shift. It’s the clutch that gets them into trouble. Or maybe it’s the double clutch.

Clutch factories are going the way of buggy whip factories a hundred years ago or more. Blame change. Continue reading

11.13.2020 – When SNL Preaches Forgiveness

Saturday Night Live has been around 45 years. I’ve never watched it. Until four months ago, I had a Sunday morning job that got me up too early to even think about watching SNL.  SNL’s trademark comedy is built around current events and cultural issues.  The comedy is often scathing and sometimes controversial. Those who watch it regularly say it’s a hit or miss thing, with more misses than hits of late.  It’s the controversy that often lands Saturday Night Live in the Sunday morning news, and that’s where I’ve gotten to know SNL.  From the news.

Saturday Night Live was in the news this past Sunday for the monologue that opened Saturday’s show.  Comedian Dave Chapelle had been asked to do the monologue that Saturday after the election, just as he had four years ago.  Unlike four years ago, Saturday’s studio audience was in a celebratory mood, as was the comedian.

Sunday’s headlines said Chappelle was brilliant and cynical. Others accused him of poor taste and doing more harm than good. Continue reading

11.06.2020 – The Amazing Thing About Common Grace

We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
The Nicene Creed

The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. (ESV) Luke 16:22–23

To be sure, the Gospel concerns itself with eternity among other things.  It tells the truth about life being something not limited to what we live in this vale of flesh.  We look forward to the life of the word to come, we say in the creed. But Scripture also makes it clear that the life to come is decidedly more pleasant for some than for others.  As in the story of Poor Man Lazarus, some will spend eternity at the side of Father Abraham , while for others, like the rich man, the world to come will be a place of torment.

The elect and the reprobate. The saved and the lost. Those who receive salvation by grace – God’s unmerited favor – through faith, and those who receive the punishment due us all. The modern mind is often at a loss when it comes to life in the world to come, but even when it accepts the proposition, it prefers to see all humanity as part of the “some” like Poor Man Lazarus or to simply cancel the idea of eternal torment. Reprobation does not exist but as a temporary state while things work themselves out to a happy ending. Continue reading

10.30.2020 – To insource or to outsource. That is the question.

Some of you, well one of you, asked about the new lawn.  I mentioned it and the lessons it was teaching me a few weeks ago.  So, how’s the new lawn? It seems to be coming along.  Nice and green. Thicker in some spots than in others, but it’s coming along.  Cooler weather and the soon to be winter means I won’t be doing much with the new lawn for a while.  But when spring comes, I have some decisions to make.  Will I tend to it myself? Maybe I should; after all, the first job given to our first father was working and keeping the garden (Genesis 2:15).  Or will I outsource the mowing and the trimming?  I mean, assuming the end to a pandemic, we’d like to travel and I’m not sure neighbor kids mow lawns when you’re away anymore. Plus, lawn care was included in our HOA fees in Pennsylvania so we’d have to buy a new mower and trimmer.  And, yeah, I’m not getting any younger.

To outsource or insource, that is the question. Continue reading

10.23.2020 – Man on the Lam: Jesus Saves Suckers

It’s been a month now, and I’m not in jail.  You can hear the message by clicking on the video link above (really, it’s worth a listen), or I can tell you what it said:

Attention! This call is from the legal department of the Social Security Administration. Your Social Security number has been suspended, and we have filed a case under your name. So, before this matter goes to federal claims courthouse for you to get arrested, kindly press 1, because FBI also involved in your case.  So, I repeat, press 1 to know about your legal case.

I did not press 1, but I find myself checking the rearview mirror for unmarked Crown Victorias following too closely or men in black with earpieces and talking into their wrists. Maybe the federal claims courthouse has a backlog of cases or is processing the cases of those who pressed 1.  In any event, I remain a free person.

The call came from the Solomon Islands, phone number 677-75.  Maybe I should have wondered why the legal department of the Social Security Administration calls from the Solomon Islands.  I Googled “federal claims courthouse,” and the closest I could find is the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., but there is nothing on their website about suspended Social Security numbers.

I don’t want to let my guard down, but the call may have been spam.  I might not have avoided jail by pressing 1. Continue reading