Baby steps with Gutenberg

(thank you Wikipedia)

So I’ve just installed WordPress 5.0 on my multi-site installation.  No errors, no apparent problems so far.  I can soon delete my installation backup. I have a bit of time today so I thought I’d dip my toe into the wild new world of Gutenberg.

I’ve been used to, and enjoy working with a couple of different visual post/page builders (Vantage, Divi).  I’m also at home with the classic editor in both visual and text (HTML) modes.  But Gutenberg is the future, so I might as well get used to it – and maybe even embrace its workflow and strong points.

In general, I’m not a fan of interfaces that “hide” functionality to “unclutter” things or to make them more “elegant”. I’d prefer knowing that all my tools are there and I can see them.  Often I don’t trust an interface that “looks simple”.  My experience is that most interfaces that “look simple” are simple and even simplistic. It’s not always true and I truly appreciate an interface that is not intimidating to the neophyte but packs all the functionality that I need in ways that are easy to discover and access.  I have the impression that I (and other “functionality freaks”) are under-served by most interface designers.  It seems like a gap between designers and power users – an unfortunate gap.

First “bug” – As I’m typing this off the top of my head (you noticed?), I’m pausing to reflect.  While I pause, the auto-save functionality kicks in and moves my cursor to the beginning of my paragraph!  (Edit: fixed – see final thoughts below) This is exceedingly annoying.  I hope it’s not a feature.  At any rate, if I were a big-time content creator and ever stopped to pause and reflect on my work, I’d be seriously up in arms about this one.

That being said, I’m generally enjoying the experience in Gutenberg so far. I also want to try and move with the Gutenberg intent as opposed to simply bringing my understanding of another way of doing things to this experience and opposing change.  I want to push against the Luddite tendencies of my upper-middle-age!

Final thoughts:

  • The annoying “cursor jump” is seriously annoying
    • Edit 2019-01-19 – The annoying cursor jump was a function of a plugin conflict. I found some GitHub posts that mentioned different plugins that were the source of this behavior. In my case it was the Pods plugin. I wasn’t using it and when I disabled it, the problem went away. Here’s the thread:
  • The Gutenberg beard game is strong and enviable!

RegEx to remove chords from ChordPro files

Hey, quick post here to show you what I had to learn the hard way.

Problem: someone sends you a song in ChordPro format (or other formats that basically use ChordPro notation, like from OnSong or SongBook, etc.)  It has all the chords in it but you also or you only need the lyrics (without chords!)

Removing them can be tedious.

Solution: If your editor supports Regular Expressions (regex) for search and replace, you can do the following:

Search string:


Replace string:



  • I only tested this with Notepad++
  • The syntax for the replace string might vary between editors.  This is for Notepad++, where each numbered place-holder in the replace string corresponds with one of the (.*) groupings
  • This removes one chord per line.  This is not a real problem.  If you do a “replace all” you replace one chord in all the lines and clicking that button several times will have done the trick fairly quickly.

Multiple files: While not tested, Notepad++’s “Find in Files” tab on the search/replace dialog should do the trick or equally the “Replace in all opened files” button on the Replace tab of the search/replace dialog.

Install Midnight Commander on a shared hosting account

The opportunity – your hosting account offers you shell access! 😀

The problem – they don’t have Midnight Commander installed! 😥

The background (skip to the solution!)

Ok for some of you, none of this is a problem.  You don’t have shell access on your shared hosting account – most don’t.  For others, you have shell access and Midnight Commander is installed already – great!  For other, you live and breathe for the Linux command line and your intimate knowledge of command syntax and Linux “innards” means you can create a symphony with your keyboard.

I, however, am not a Linux “heavy” and my shared hosting account with O2switch (which I think is a REAL deal, given what you get and the price you pay) provides shell access but no Midnight Commander.  I have done some Linux server management in a mixed platform environment and appreciate what Linux brings to the table but I’m a Windows guy and a visual person.  Consequently, when I see that I have shell access, I’m glad to have the ability to do certain things that simple ftp access doesn’t give me.  On the other hand, given ONLY a command line, my productivity plummets.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate what can be done with a command line.  I once worked on a mini computer where the only access was the command line for commands, navigating and editing.  I loved it – but I was young and that was my job.  I could afford to learn on the job and really get good and fast.  Now I’ve got too many fish to fry to learn another environment when I’m not in it all the time.  So for those of us who live MOSTLY in a non-Linux environment, a visual environment helps a LOT.

The problem (when the sys admins won’t install Midnight Commander for you) is that Midnight Commander doesn’t have a set of pre-compiled binaries sitting around for you to run.  It depends heavily on system libraries and thus is typically dynamically linked for the distribution where it will run or is compiled from source into the environment where it will run.  By default it installs in directories to which a shared hosting client doesn’t have access.   Even the ONE statically-linked pre-compiled binary which I found on the internet did not work except when running from a directory to which I didn’t have access! 🙄

My issues were mostly in two areas:

  1. Navigation – the basic need for a file manager – the felt need for which things like Norton Commander came into existence!
  2. File Editing – I had access to vim and nano and neither of these are what I’d call “intuitive”.  I’m not calling them “powerless”

I searched high and low and couldn’t find a solution.  I thought I’d try and compile it from source.  The compilers are NOT available to client accounts so I needed to compile elsewhere and then copy the executable binary to my hosting account and see if that would work.  I couldn’t easily figure out what distribution O2switch used for their servers as none of those discovery commands worked.  I finally asked them and they let me know that it was a CentOS derivative. So I installed a CentOS distro in a VM on my Windows machine.  Not that I did everything right but that was one of the hardest distros to work with.  Then I tried to see if I could compile and then static link on a Ubuntu distro in order to have a fully static-linked binary that, theoretically, I could drop in and run. I’d never compiled on a Linux machine so there were things that made sense from days compiling on IBM mainframes but there was a lot that I didn’t get and I was really going around in circles.

I looked for other ncurses-based file managers and/or editors.  I got Ranger to work, but it was WAY different than what I was used to while it helped me navigate a little bit, it still required a knowledge of a set of commands (it has a vi-based interaction) that I simply didn’t have and that were NOT intuitive from my background.  I tried to get the Diakonos editor to work (written in Ruby), but I don’t know Ruby at all and I barely got anything to run and the system-dependencies it had required that I try to make an older version run…blah, blah, blah – just a mess!

So I finally went to the mailing list of the Midnight Commander project to ask the experts.  I found THE resource that I needed in Erdmut Pfeifer on that list.  He gave me the foundation for…

The Solution!

Read the details of my conversation on the mailing list on this thread.  That will give you more background on what I did and especially on the solution that Erdmut was able to give me.  Here is the essence of his answer to me:

You don’t necessarily need to create a statically linked version to get
it to run on a different box. just pack up all required shared libs (use
ldd” to find out which) plus the dynamic loader itself. The dynamic
loader is normally invoked indirectly via the system, but nothing keeps
you from calling it directly, passing it the name of the dynamically
linked binary to run and the directory where the packed-up libs reside –
see “man” for details (“” is the generic name of the dynamic
loader, the actual name on today’s 64-bit boxes is typically, which itself is a symlink to ld-<version>.so).
The loader is a statically linked binary, and thus doesn’t need any
libs itself.
As I found myself needing something like this rather frequently, I’ve
put together a little Perl script which automates these steps.

So I got his script (which you can find in the thread on the mailing list) and it worked!  I had to keep tweaking some things to get it just right for my environment, but I got it to the point where I could ssh to my shell session and then type “mc” and I was in an environment that I knew and I could be productive.

Here are the steps I took to make it work in the O2switch environment. YMMV in other environments!  Also this was back in September 2016 so I’ve forgotten a bit of what I did and some of my notes are not as helpful to me at the moment, but I think they’ll get the persistant going in the right direction.

  1. I followed Erdmut’s directions in the thread (so theoretically you don’t have to, but it might be good to review it if you run into problems)
  2. Used mc from CentOS 6.8 package installation (it’s version
  3. Added /usr and /etc parts (oops – I don’t totally remember what this means!  I think it’s creating a /usr and /etc structure in my local “mc” directory, which I named “mymc”, and copying in the files from the package installation that would normally be in the root “/usr” and root “/etc” directory structures in a typical system-wide installation)
  4. Ran strace -o ~/ztrace.txt -e trace=file ./mc and reviewed the file not found output to see what needed to be fixed (Unfortunately, I can’t help you with what needs to be fixed in your environment.  However, I just did this on Bluehost and lo and behold, just running this strace actually brought up Midnight Commander! ~/ztrace.txt WAS created and has lots of No such file or directory lines but it still works.  So perhaps certain functions won’t work.  Hard to say at this point.)
  5. cp ~/mymc/etc/mc/Syntax ~/mymc/etc
  6. cp ~/mymc/etc/mc/mc.lib ~/mymc/etc
  7. cp ~/mymc/etc/mc/ ~/mymc/etc
  8. cp ~/mymc/usr/share/mc/skins ~/mymc/etc
  9. cp ~/mymc/etc/mc/filehighlight.ini ~/mymc/etc
  10. cp ~/mymc/etc/mc/mc.keymap ~/mymc/etc
  11. cp ~/mymc/usr/share/mc/mc.hint ~/mymc/etc/mc.hint.  (the "." at the end is important!) (this brings the prompt)
  12. cp ~/mymc/usr/share/mc/mc.hlp ~/mymc/etc/mc.hlp. (the "." at the end is important!)
  13. cp ~/mymc/etc/mc/mc.ext ~/mymc/etc
  14. cp ~/mymc/usr/share/mc/syntax ~/mymc/etc
  15. Tried to redo mcedit, mcview symbolic links (this still isn’t working yet – i.e. I don’t have the “mcedit” and “mcview” commands.  The editor and viewer work just fine but I can’t access them via “mcedit” and “mcview”)
  16. Below, I’m including a zipped up version of “~/mymc” which may work right out of the box.  I have it unzipped into the root of my home directory.  I would suggest doing the same.  It is all contained in a folder mymc so you won’t be scattering a zillion files at your root.
  17. Make symbolic link to ~/mymc/mc so that I can run ./mc to start (might not have to do this if you do the following)
  18. Place the following in ~/.bashrc so that I can simply type “mc” to start
    export PATH
  19. had to change putty’s translation settings to ISO-8859-1:1998 (Latin-1, West Europe) to make the lines correct.  This is dependant on what your server’s settings are.  It’ll likely be either UTF-8 or ISO-8859-1:1998 (Latin-1, West Europe)

Here’s a zipped copy of my directory “mymc” with everything you need (normally) to run Midnight Commander as an O2switch client.  You’ll have to do the path work afterward to make it more easily executable. It may work for other environments. Please let me know if it does!

Download here ==>

2020-05-09 Edit: Got this working on Bluehost!

Lenovo Flex 4 1480 Signature Edition ideapad 80VD0007US review

For those who can’t wait:   4.5/5

So far so good – I really like this machine (despite the detailed “cons” section below) and I’ve used it fairly extensively for two months now.  It’s not perfect, but I feel like for the money, it’s an exceptional value.  I got it for $600 at Micro Center online in November of 2016. I had budgeted more, but I was looking for some very specific specifications/features. While I might have gotten a few other things with more money, I’m really quite pleased with this purchase. In fact, I might have had to pay a considerable amount more to get all the different features that I got on this machine.

I’m a freelance IT professional and my activities are extremely varied – programming, web development, server maintenance, network debugging, computer repair, light graphic design, etc.  Additionally, my leisure is often centered around a computer as well – like simple video watching, email writing (in a bilingual French/English context), light digital audio work, light photo/video work, etc.  Until this machine, I’d usually be on our desktop computer, but my wife is increasingly needing that for her creative projects and my old ASUS Eeepc netbook, reluctantly rendering what service it could (still running XP), was screaming for relief.

My basic criteria were:

  • Windows 10 Laptop
  • 12-14 inch screen
  • i5 or better processor
  • 8Gb RAM
  • 256Gb SSD
  • Windows 10


  • Connectivity – All (3) USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, RJ45, SD Card Reader – As an IT technician, I sometimes need to have connectivity to two different networks at a time, and sometimes I need to connect and don’t have WIFI. So having both WIFI and wired connections are important and I don’t want to be carrying around dongles for RJ45 or have some low-bandwidth RJ45 adaptor.
  • Laptop, tent and tablet modes – This is important for me not so much as affording a real tablet experience but because I use this machine for at least two tablet-type tasks:
    1. As a big Kindle to read e-books – it’s actually a little big/heavy for that, but really not too bad.  I can also boost the character size nice and big and with the decent-sized screen, I still get quite a bit of text on one page.
    2. To replace paper chord charts/sheet music – When playing music, I used to lug lots of notebooks around ’cause I can’t remember the chords or words for a song when it’s not in front of me, nor the songs in a playlist when I can’t see all the titles.  I used my netbook for this but since it didn’t do the 360-degree screen swivel, I had to adjust all the music stands and it looked a bit funky.  Now, I can put this machine into tablet mode and fire up Songbook and say goodbye to heavy bags of paper!
  • SSD – I’ve never had an SSD drive in a machine before.  I think I’m in love!  I know it’s not ONLY the SSD drive that affects the speed, but I know that increasingly a spinning hard drive will be THE bottleneck in most situations.
  • Boot time – insanely fast
  • Backlit keyboard – While this wasn’t on my “basic list” of requirements, I can’t tell you how much I love having it. My house is not very “luminous”, shall we say, and, of course, I bought the machine in November.  The days are short, the nights are long and the keyboard is LIT! It will always be on my basic list of requirements from now on.
  • Touchscreen – again, I might have done without this, but with it, and the folding back screen, I can use this as a tablet.  There are other times where having the touchscreen is nice too – a quick pinch to zoom things, for example.
  • Full HD – My netbook was getting annoying with so many popup dialogs going beyond the screen boundaries.  That being said, I’d say that 1920 x 1080 is probably the minimum you’d want in screen resolution.  I could, frankly, use more but with a 14-inch screen, higher resolution would probably mean some really tiny text!
  • Fingerprint reader – again, not on my basic requirements list but it’s my second laptop I’ve owned that has it, and I REALLY love it.  Really speeds things up!  Also, I had created my machine user account as a local account and it had a fairly basic and easy to remember password.  As soon as I signed into the Windows Store for the first time however, my machine login was annoyingly converted to a Windows Live login (where I have a strong, random password).  So the fingerprint reader came in quite handy.
  • Ability to determine whether function keys work primarily as F1-F12 or the various function keys – as an IT-guy, I’m used to using F1-F12 as the primary use of those keys.  Increasingly, you have to jump through hoops to use those keys and the other functions are the primary use of the keys.  I like that Lenovo lets you choose which are the primary keys and which are secondary.
  • Build quality – I had hoped to have a business-class, metal-chassis machine but at this price range, it just wasn’t there.  That being said, I’d say that the build quality on this machine is excellent.  I’ve seen MUCH worse on consumer-grade machines.
  • Fast charge – the battery charge time is rapid.
  • Gen 7 i5 processor – This is a Kaby Lake processor.  I saw that in the CPU benchmarks, the i5 Kaby Lake out-performed i7 processors in other machines I was looking at.  Yeah, some day it’ll be old, but it’s nice to come in on this little performance boost.
  • Microsoft Signature Edition of Windows 10 – no bloatware.  There are a few Lenovo apps, but nothing really useless or redundant.
  • The Fan is quiet – if the CPU gets going, the fan WILL come on, but it’s not annoying at all.
  • Keyboard – for typing, I find the keyboard to be comfortable with good travel and feedback.


  • Right shift key – This has been talked about a LOT.  It truly is an unimaginable engineering error.  Additionally, when you see the margins between the edge of the keyboard and the edge of the machine, they COULD have given it a larger keyboard and arranged things differently.  I’m a QWERTY touch-typer but I type fairly regularly with an AZERTY layout since I live in France and work on computers here.  I tried initially to work with the bizarre placement and size of the right shift key.  It did not work.  So I installed KeyTweak and switched the up arrow and the shift key and now I’m very happy.  YES, it’s not perfect, but it really does work.  If you’re a real writer…well…maybe this will be a deal breaker, but for me, this is an acceptable workaround.  That does not change the fact that it’s an insane user experience error on the part of Lenovo.
  • Power supply – This is the other insane engineering flaw of this machine.  If you’re staying in North America, you can live with (but not easily) the included power supply.  If you’re traveling abroad, just plan now on buying an aftermarket adaptor.  I got this one and it’s great.  I can’t say enough bad about this adaptor.  I tried to leave a scathing review of it (not profane but VERY negative) on the Lenovo Shop site, but they refused to publish it.  Sure it charges fine, but it’s fairly short and ALL the weight and ALL the bulk of the adaptor is literally on the plug.  Even in a typical North American 2-outlet wall plug, putting it on the bottom plug can make it awkward for some plugs on the top.  Simply NOT thought-through on the part of Lenovo.
  • Track pad tap feel – The track pad feels like quality and the sensitivity seems to be quite good, but there is an annoying “feedback” when you tap it – kind of like something is “loose”.  I don’t think anything IS loose – nevertheless, it’s a “give” under your finger that’s pretty annoying.  It’s probably because the left/right click buttons are not separate buttons but integrated into the trackpad itself, meaning that it has to have some “give” in it to function.  I guess I would have preferred separate buttons.
  • Trackpad click noise – I’m very comfortable with using a trackpad.  I don’t have the need for an external mouse, etc.  That being said, there are times when you have to do a physical click.  On this trackpad, you can left-click and double left-click with tapping so you don’t need to physically depress the trackpad left-click zone most of the time.  BUT you DO have to right-click physically and I find that the noise and effort required in an otherwise very smooth and quiet experience to be annoying.  I do type rather heavily (old IBM terminal keyboard habits die hard), however when I make the effort to type more quietly, I still can’t do anything about that right-click noise.  Very annoying.
  • Battery Life – it’s “ok” but nothing to really shout about.  I can and do work a fair amount without the adaptor, but I certainly wouldn’t think of going anywhere without it as I can’t count on THAT much autonomy.
  • Accelerometer slow to react – When I convert to tablet mode (fold the screen back), or change the orientation of the machine from landscape to portrait or vice versa, the wait time for the screen to change is NOTHING like what I’m used to on my phone or my wife’s iPad – not even close.
  • Lenovo Yoga Mode Control – the process that turns off the keyboard when you put the machine in tablet mode is called “Yoga Mode Control” (ymc.exe).  I’ve noticed that when I switch back to regular laptop mode, ymc.exe will often just chew up CPU like nobody’s business.  It’s pretty annoying and I went out and found a utility called ServiceTray that would allow me to easily manage the service if I needed to stop/start it.  People complain about this on the forums.  Not sure that Lenovo has fixed it yet.
    (Edit: I’m not seeing this problem anymore – perhaps fixed)
  • Not a metal chassis – Not a big deal – yet.  We’ll just have to see how it wears over time.
  • Caps-lock notification icon delays typing – the caps lock key (which is also somehow annoyingly positioned in relation to the left-shift key – I can too easily hit the wrong one) displays a pop-up icon that overlays the screen when you use the key.  Depending on the flow of your typing, it can interrupt the flow.  Quite annoying and I don’t know if there is a way to adjust it.
  • Speakers – By this, principally I mean the volume – it isn’t overwhelming, and sometimes that’s not good!  We tried to watch a movie together once that we were streaming from Amazon.  The volume simply wasn’t sufficient to understand the dialog.  We had to switch to sharing a pair of ear buds!  There can be lots of variability in media volume levels and your machine needs to be able to compensate for that with strong volume levels.  This laptop does NOT have that.  Most of the time, in my personal use, I can get by just fine, but that little extra that you need for certain situations is missing. As for the quality of the sound, it’s ok – but I’m certainly not expecting audiophile quality or even booming bass from these tiny speakers.  Since you flip your screen around, your orientation to the speakers changes depending on the mode, so one needs to take that into consideration as well.
  • Combo headphone-mic jack – So far it’s not been a real issue, but I guess I’d have preferred separate jacks for microphone and headphones.  This will take more use to see if there are really any disadvantages to it (or advantages for that matter).

A call to priesthood: The Top Five Events in 2014

This insightful Stratfor article lists five calls to strategic intercession for the Church.  That’s not necessarily what George Friedman intended, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this Jewish man came from the tribe of Issachar, given his gift of understanding the times. I would encourage Christians to read it and expand their understanding of what is transpiring in the world and then to take it to the Throne of Grace to ask the Lord what He thinks and how one should pray.  I believe that Jesus cares about all of it – from the last item on the list (very personal and “micro”) to the other very “macro” international developments – and everything in between.

If you’re part of a House of Prayer, print this out and let it be some of the fuel for intercession.  We, the Church, are called to stand in these gaps as priests – bringing them before the Lord and bringing the Lord directly into the middle of each of these events/situations.

What do I stand for?

I’m struck by a message I just finished listening to by Paul Manwaring. He asked this question – “What do you stand for? What are you willing to pay a price for?”

Honestly, I’m not quite sure yet.

As I look back, I have paid a price for certain convictions, but at the same time I’m not aware of clearly defined life messages in me or people knowing what I stand for. It seems that this is still developing in me – at the tender young age of 53!

At one point in the message I heard, Paul asks people who DO know what they stand for, to stand up and make declarations. Declare what they want to see; what they’re pulling for.

Well, I’m going to start to declare (write):

  • what matters to me
  • what I want to see

By writing it down, it gets it out of me and puts words onto sometimes shifting feelings/experiences. By posting it, I’m just starting to stand – to be public – preparing to pay the price for my convictions.

Here goes (in no particular order):

  • Europe matters to me – both the land and its people.  I wasn’t born here, but I most certainly trace my ancestry here.  It certainly began before I could say it was “God” but I know now that it was God who put it in my heart and brought our family here to live.
  • Reconciliation – ever since being awakened to reconciliation as a “thing” by Nadine Roure and Elvire Dieny, seeing reconciliation happen – at ALL levels – has been deeply satisfying and I increasingly see where it’s vital.  After all Paul told us in 2 Corinthians 5 that we’ve all been given the ministry of reconciliation.
  • Family matters to me – I’m certainly NOT the poster child for how to do family (in ANY of my family roles thus far in life), but the theology of family continues to grow for me on a regular basis.  God’s design for family; God’s government is family; The enemy’s incessant targeting of family; etc.
  • Identity/Son (and daughter) ship – WHO we are is so incredibly important.  When we understand the glory that God put in each one of us and His design for us and how being His son or daughter literally unlocks eternity TODAY for us – Wow!  It’s just the key to everything.  If I can (and increasingly as an older man, I CAN) help someone to find their identity – call out who and what God has made them to be – that is TRULY  satisfying and has eternal value.
  • Marriage matters to me – Why?  Because Jesus is coming for a Bride.  There’s going to be a wedding!  The power of this eternal union is echoed by what we experience right now between a man and a woman who commit before God to each other for their whole lives.  The power of that covenant is amazing and it’s only a shadow of the covenant that Jesus has with His Bride.  The depths of this are amazing.
  • Worship and God’s Presence matter to me – Not simply because I’m a musician, and one who is named David to boot, but I was made to be in His Presence and to focus on Him.  We all were, in fact, but because God has given me this gift and desire, I believe that He’s also given me a mandate to facilitate the experience of His Presence to others.  I also believe that we are changed by His Presence and we are fundamentally designed, as creatures, to become what we behold – to become like what we worship.  Hence if I worship God, I become like God.  If I help others worship God, I help them become like God.  This is my principle tool of discipleship that I have to offer.
  • The Kingdom of God matters to me.  It is so important to me that my citizenship is primarily with Heaven and that my understanding of “progress” in society is linked to the advancing of the Kingdom where Jesus is King and not necessarily a particular earthly government. My love of a country must be motivated by Jesus’ love for that country (and He loves them ALL) and what Jesus wants for that country.  This may or may not be my country of birth or my passport country(s).
  • Erasing Dualism and Living in Tension matter to me – So I’ve just finished stating “where I stand” but actually because of the things I stand for, I refuse (in principle) to let these stances hinder love or put God in a box.  Jesus was “box buster” in so many ways.  Our detachement from the cultural context of His earthly sojourn makes it easy for us to miss just how many boxes He exploded in His time.  We probably will never discover fully how He made people feel and react in in 1st century Palestine, but the willingness to understand that Jesus does do that – not just to 1st century Palestinian residents but to us as well – is the first important step to letting our own boxes disintegrate and letting Jesus out of the box that we so-easily stuff Him into. When we let typical “either/or” thinking dominate our reality, we immediately begin to de-humanize those who think differently.  In so doing we declare where Jesus is not welcome to challenge us to love that which we don’t understand or with which we don’t agree.  If, for example, reconciliation matters to me, then I can’t afford those walls to stand in my reality.  Not easy at all this wall-dismantling-process, but essential as members of God’s family.

So those are the things that I can say that I stand for and that I want to see – in me, through me, and around me.

Ham on Nye – I’ll take a bite!

I didn’t watch the debate. Based on what I’ve read, I’m not sure it would have been the best use of my time. I think if we take a step back we can (hopefully) see that the debate is NOT a 2-sided black and white affair. There isn’t a “side” that can “win.” How telling that the debate took place in the United States, the poster child society for hyper-polarized opinion, modeled clearly each time we set out to elect our favorite ideologue.

I think what is important in this debate can vary wildly depending on whom you ask. Consequently, I’m not sure how helpful it is to pick up your nametag at the door which brands you pro-this or anti-that. Sure, it’s good to stand up for what you believe in, but that’s just it isn’t it – what DO you believe in anyway?!

For me this debate (I hesitate to say “creation vs. evolution” or “science vs. religion”, etc. because the shorthand titles are INCREDIBLY reductionist and inaccurate) should only be about our non-negotiable beliefs. I think that behind the tip-of-the-iceberg vitriol, it probably is about non-negotiable beliefs for everybody involved…except that most of them might have difficulty articulating just what ARE their non-negotiable beliefs! They don’t know what they’re fighting for!

With respect to this debate, here are mine:

1. God is the Creator and He created the universe and everything in it.
2. Humankind holds a special place in God’s heart and in His Creation.

That’s it.

Notice that the list doesn’t include things like a young earth. I didn’t even mention the evil “E” word made so in/famous by Mr. Darwin. Those things are simply are not issues for me. I care only that the non-negotiable items are in place. How and when God created the universe are things that I believe He is delighted for us to discover – whether we believe in Him or not. But if we ignore that He IS the Creator, we open the door to many problems in our society that we try and fix like a band-aid on cancer.

Unfortunately, a significant number of those of us who do hold to these two important tenants have, in my opinion, wasted a lot of time an energy arguing points, fostering enemies, and misrepresenting God by thinking that various negotiable issues jeopardize the non-negotiable issues. It’s a lamentable state of affairs and I hope the damage can be undone because it clouds the discussion about things that are ultimately very important.

Since I’m neither a theologian nor a scientist, I’m not in the position to noticeably affect the debate. Thankfully there ARE some of both that contribute helpful voices to the discourse. I’d recommend N.T. Wright as a theologian who knows how to keep the main thing the main thing and can speak with authority on what the Bible says…and doesn’t say! (, As for scientists, I really like what BioLogos had to say about Ham on Nye ( and it would appear that they also have an excellent voice to add.

I’ll end there because I don’t need to debate this.