Friday, February 5, 2021

lab rat

Laboratory Rat

I am like the rat,
Traversing the maze,
Suddenly aware,
Of the scientist gaze.

Was the professor,
Plotting a trend?
Or was she hoping,
For a new rat friend?

JSM 5 Feb 2021

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. John4.23

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

civil war prayer

Civil War Fatality’s Prayer Survives 

After the battle of Gettysburg this prayer was found on a folded paper on a Confederate soldier’s corpse. 

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve,
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked for health, that I might do great things,
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy,
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men,
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life,
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. 
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

JSM, 2 Feb 2021

Thursday, January 28, 2021

understated adjective

Complaint about an Understated Adjective 

I suggest a new word to replace the adjective chronic as an adjective to describe pain because it implies nothing of pathos. For example sunrises are constantly recurring and meet the definition of chronic. Chronic comes from the Greek khronos meaning time. I therefore suggest a different English word.


A siege is an attack over a long time without relief for which there is no internal relief.

I do not have chronic pain. I have besieging pain.

Now that seems to me a much better adjective!!! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

mind control

You are what you think.

That is the title of an article in March 2017 in Psychology Today by counselors Lisa Ferentz. [ click ] Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “You are what you think all day long.” 

Is this true? 

The Christian Apostle Paul said in Colossians 3:2

[2] Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (ESV)

Positive Example

Philippians 4:8

[8] Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (ESV)

Negative example

Mark 8:33

[33] But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. (ESV)

I think you are what you think has a Biblical basis. Or as Christian author Darrow Miller says, "ideas have consequences." 

How to think on an idea.

Mental Game One

Can you think about the color green? A dog? An equilateral triangle?
Can you not think about an apple? A ladder? Santa Claus?
Can you think about nothing?
Can you count backwards by 3s starting from 99 and stop 66?
Can you think about 2 things at the same time?

What are some thoughts you should not think? Suicide. Revenge. Hate.

2 Corinthians 10:5

[5] We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (ESV)

James ,1:8 and ,,4:8 double minded , 2 souls 

Mental Game 2

Label These Ideas

True or False
Important or Unimportant
Interesting or boring

Red, Blue, and Yellow are primary colors
Food is purchased in stores.
Alpha, beta, gamma are the first 3 Greek letters
A triangle with side lengths of 3,4, and 5 has a 90 angle opposite the side of length 5.
Space has 3 dimensions.
There is a God.
The sun and the moon orbit the earth.
I am ugly.
The sun is God.
Cornbread is sweet,
Food is grown on farms.
I can not change.
No one understands me.
The only reality is physical in nature.
The sun will rise tomorrow.
Thomas Jefferson was the second Vice President of the USA.
God made the world in 6 literal days.
The earth is spherical.
Sex is only for procreation.
God chooses who will be saved.
Demons are real.
God dictated the Bible.
Crystals focus spiritual forces.
Allah is God.
All birds can fly.
Time is a constant,
I weigh the same on the equator and the North Pole.
The universe has a boundary.
I am stupid.
Coal is bad.
All drugs should be legal.
Bourbon is evil.
Pleasure is evil.
He who has the gold rules.
Vengeance is ok.
Murder is wrong.
A little white lie never hurt anyone.
Money is evil.
Nudity is evil.
It is wrong to eat animals,
Satan is real.
Spiders are dangerous.
Rats are good pets.
Insects are food.
Drinking Lysol cures disease.
Suicide is ok.
Abortion is evil.

Our entire life we encounter circumstances which engender ideas which we evaluate and archive. The interesting, important, true file becomes the means by which we archive new ideas and thus if a mistake was made it tends to perpetuate itself.

For example a 10 year old grandchild on vacation in the mountains hikes in the woods with his grandmother raised in the mountains. To the grandmother teaberry is a green leaf to chew for pleasure. The child believes food is grown on farms and comes from stores. The child feels fear. He was scolded more than once for putting grass in his mouth. But, he also trusts the character of his grandmother. He watches the grandmother chew the leaf. He accepts one from the trusted hand of his grandmother. To his surprise it tastes just like bubblegum!!! The child will now begins to rearrange his filing system. His worldview just changed for the better.

If Emerson was correct we can change who we are by controlling what we think about. The entertainment industry is built on this premise. The last commercial I saw was for Old Navy clothing brand. I recall exciting music and multiple examples of very happy, healthy, prosperous people trying to convince me the Old Navy clothing brand is the key to happiness. I assume they don't spend money on advertising unless it has proven profitable in the past. I can still recall commercial jingles for cigarettes, soap, hot dogs, etc from my childhood. What are the dogs kids love to bite?

Garbage in, Garbage out

most blessed

Most Blessed 

Expend no thoughts of sympathy for me.
I am of all people most blessed.
I have no complaints toward God nor man.
Life has passed my expectations test.

I have witnessed life spring forth from the womb,
And lived to see the miracle again and again.
I have baptized Cabecar in cold mountain stream.
And seen prisoners by the hundreds born again and again.

One day I will be old and frail,
One day this body will give up the ghost.
But I was blessed to follow adventure’s trail.
And of all my peers I believed myself blessed the most.

JSM 1/26/2021

chain tight

chain tight



Life pulls left,
Pain pulls right,
Chain tight,
During the fight.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

cofessions of a serial idolater

Sugar, A Thought Experiment written by a Serial Idolater
Rev.J Scott Martin

A Spoonful of Sugar

I hope to write a good thought. I think we have an understanding that life is good. I want to write down a thought I have been thinking the past few weeks in hopes that it will help you, the reader, live better. I feel my life is better for having thought it.

Sugar is a chemical compound. For the purpose of this essay I will use sugar to mean glucose, a molecule made of 6 carbon, 12 hydrogen, and 6 oxygen atoms.  The glucose molecule is created in nature by green plants using carbon dioxide, water, and solar energy to produce sugar and oxygen in a process known as photosynthesis. All plant and animal life on earth is dependent on this process for food which is a form of stored energy necessary for life. It also produces the oxygen we breathe. Fossil fuels derive their ultimate origin from photosynthesis.

Sugar is Good

I ask therefore; is sugar good or bad? Sugar is good. Without it biological life as we commonly understand it would cease.

I ask; can sugar affect well being? Yes.

I ask; can sugar affect well being in a positive way? Yes, the proper amount of sugar is required for nutrition.

I ask; can sugar affect well being in a negative way? Yes, both a deficiency and an excess of sugar can be detrimental to health.

Sugar is like oxygen in that it is constantly necessary to fuel brain chemistry which allows thought to occur. As Descartes famously said, "I think therefore I am". Without thought I cease to live. Sugar is food necessary for life but sugar is also like a drug in that it produces pleasure and pleasure can feed an addiction cycle resulting in over consumption of sugar and significant bodily harm. A person can be aware of self harm and yet seemingly incapable of escaping the addiction cycle. Addiction is universally and correctly thought to be bad.

No doubt you asked yourself why is the author rambling on so about sugar? Surly this is common knowledge and no one would dispute its content but neither is it helpful or informative. I picked sugar for a topic because it has less emotional, social, and religious prejudices than some other subjects and thus easier to discuss in a logical way. I could have chosen sex, music, money,the Bible, work, etc. but those topics are far more complex. More importantly, sugar is fundamental to life. As fundamental as oxygen or water.  Sugar is not only good for my brain but it is fundamental substance necessary for life on earth. The maple tree converts energy from the sun into life giving stored energy in the form of sugar. Life is good. Sugar is necessary for life. Therefore sugar is good.

use vs abuse

One can not stop using sugar. If you stop consuming sugar in any form such as a zero carbohydrate diet, your body will convert dietary or body fat to sugar. When fat stores are exhausted the body will digest itself to produce sugar resulting in eventual death by the toxins created in the process. Sugar is constantly essential. Sugar must be used but it may be abused. Seven sugar cubes is an approximation of our daily requirements. Ten today and four tomorrow is not abuse. Twenty a day for a month is abuse. Consistent extreme abuse by over consumption will lead to impaired brain function, obesity, heart disease, etc. and thus negate the very purpose which makes sugar good. The excess intake of sugar is abuse. The excess intake of sugar is bad. In sugar abuse, sugar, meant to enhance life, is abused to detract from life.


Pleasure is one of many realities complicating our discussion of sugar. I want to present a simple idea which means I will generalize.

In a manner similar to sugar, pleasure is good in that enhances life but also like sugar the excess of pleasure is abuse. Like sugar it is impossible to avoid all pleasure. Pleasure can be abused in that it can detract from life. There are 2 characteristics of pleasure that need be understand to avoid abuse. One is  pleasure diminishes with frequency. The second is that pleasure is never satisfied.

Give a child 7 sugar candies and tell them they can only eat one. If we watch them we will see ourselves. It is much easier to eat none than to eat just one because the pleasure of one demands repetition but the second cube does not achieve pleasure equal to the first and thus we feel the third is necessary in the quest to repeat the pleasure level achieved by the first sugar cube.

A rational being who desires goodness must therefore regulate themselves in order to insure sugar consumption is not harmful.

Life is Good

All of my thoughts this far are based on the maxim life is good.

All things created by God are good

Now I will make a inference which I think is justified. The use and abuse of sugar is a specific example of general principle. Good things, good conduct, good actions, good deeds are those which by their nature enhance life. It is wrong to utilize a good thing in such a way as to detract from life and thus subvert and counteract their inherent goodness. In fact, all things when used correctly are good. Thus the Christian Apostle Paul wrote.. 1Tim 4:4 Because everything which God has made is good, and nothing is evil, if it is taken with praise.


Please think a moment about praise. Paul means praise as praise to the creator of the good thing. I think this implicitly means appreciation of the goodness of the thing for which praise is given and thus recognizes the use, not the abuse, of the object for which one is thankful.


My motivation in writing this essay is an attempt to understand a paradox in Paul's letter to the Colossians 2:18 and 3:5 in which he rejects asceticism and idolatry. Superficially he seems to say it is bad to avoid pleasure and it is bad not to avoid pleasure. Careful thought and reading is needed to understand there is no contradiction in the two verses.


Asceticism is defined as severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons. In Christianity a positive example is fasting. For example Jesus fasted 40 days between His baptism and beginning His ministry. However; Jesus, himself, seemed to reject fasting as an end in itself as his critics accused his disciples of breaking some of the ritualistic fasts of the Jewish religious customs of his day. Isaiah 58 is a strong condemnation of fasting as practiced in the Prophet's day because the fast was for selfish reasons and a from of pleasure. It is ironic that fasting meant to avoid pleasure could itself be a form of pleasure. How? It allowed the worshipers to think of themselves as religious while they exploited the poor for financial gain. The acquisition of wealth was pleasurable for them as was the idea they had forced God into approving of their greed by ritualistic fasting.

Since asceticism is not the topic of this thought I will state my thinking without explanation. Asceticism is a tool which can be used for good or evil but though it appears to have a form of religion it has no intrinsic value in and of itself. It is no substitute for a right relationship with the creator.


Idolatry is the worship of idols. Idols are false gods. If we worshiped sugar it would become an idol. If we worshiped a golden calf it would become an idol. If we worshiped a piece of wood it would become an idol. The solution to idolatry is not to discontinue the use of a good or necessary substance but rather to discontinue the worship of the same.

Worship is good if used to worship God. Many people have a vague, inexact notion of God, but Christianity teaches that Jesus is an exact notion of God. This in Colossians Chapter One, Paul wrote,

"Who is the image of the unseen God coming into existence before all living things; For by him all things were made, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, authorities, lords, rulers, and powers; all things were made by him and for him; He is before all things, and in him all things have being. And he is the head of the body, the church: the starting point of all things, the first to come again from the dead; so that in all things he might have the chief place. For God in full measure was pleased to be in him; "

In Chapter 3 Paul wrote, "seek the things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God, set your mind on things above, not on things that are on earth." Nothing on earth, sugar, water, oxygen, gold, silver, power, sexual pleasure,work, the Bible etc. can replace God without becoming an idol. Idolatry is abuse and is evil. Paul urges us. Focus on God. Worship God.

Behavior Modification

There are many ways to tell someone how to behave. You can list the things not to do. You can list the things to do. You can do both. You can explain principles of good and evil. You can list examples. I think Paul uses all these methods in Chapters 2 and 3. Sex with a prostitute is listed as an example of a negative behavior. Singing spiritual songs is an example of positive behavior. However; the focus and force of Paul's appeal is to set our minds on things above not on negative or positive behavior. Paul makes the assumption that setting our mind on Christ will result in positive not negative behavior. He does not need to list all negative behavior because the positive principle precludes it. He does not say, "Do not eat too much sugar." He does say idolatry is evil and that includes many excesses including the abuse of sugar.

Sugar as an Idol

Is excess sugar idolatry? In case I have not made a convincing case, think of this. Why did you eat the second piece of pie knowing it would taste no better than the first and in fact could be metabolically harmful? Were you not focused on the pie? the pleasure? Had you not lost sight of life and the purpose of life? Could you sincerely praise God? I grant perhaps you could. But, there is a point, for example the fourth piece, in which it is very very difficult to conceive a positive scenario.


Focus on Jesus. Focus on good. Use good things for good purposes. Beware that inherently good things can become idols. Asceticism may be a tool for a good goal but it is no substitute for Christianity and can itself be abused as an idol. Idolatry is evil. God is good. Focus on God.

The cure for idolatry is to worship God.