Saturday, March 31, 2018

If I Were You

If I Were You 
(Lyrics and Music by Wayne Watson, 1999, “Field of Souls”)  
If I were You, if I ran this place
There wouldn't be no mercy, no
There wouldn't be no grace
And people that wander off and go astray
I'd make real sure that they would pay
Yeah, that's what I'd do if I were You

And if I were You, if I ran this town
The righteous would be sitting pretty
And the rotten would come tumbling down
Oh, they'd beg and they'd wrangle for a second chance
I'd say, "sorry, boys, but I just can't"
Yeah, that's what I'd do if I were You

But You know me, I'm just a man
Of unclean lips and unclean hands
Some of the thoughts I have
Make me want to run and hide, yeah
Well, I don't know much, but I observe
You've never treated me like I deserve
Your loving arms are always open wide, yeah, yeah

Oh, well, You know me, I'm just a man
Of unclean lips and unclean hands
Some of the thoughts I have
Make me want to run and hide, run and hide
Well, I don't know much, but I've observed
You've never treated me like I've deserved
Your loving arms are always open wide, open wide

If I were You, oh, catastrophe, ooh...
I wonder what in the world
Kind of world would this world be
I guess I'll take my place
Wrapped in amazing grace
Let You be You
Uh-huh, that's what I'll do
Yeah, that's what I'll do
Yeah, that's what I'll do, ooh...

A few days ago, I ate lunch with some new friends and our conversation ranged in many directions and then settled in on philosophies about God and man. We come from very different perspectives on such subjects, but all agreed that the troubles of this world ultimately come down to humans being cruel to other humans. My friends complemented me on being a kind, forward-thinking, religious, person. If I had thought quicker on my feet, I would have quoted Solzhenitsyn’s words to them:

“Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either -- but right through every human heart -- and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains ... an unuprooted small corner of evil.

Since then I have come to understand the truth of all the religions of the world: They struggle with the evil inside a human being (inside every human being). It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person.”

The song lyrics quoted above and Solzhenitsyn’s words tell us what we already know. We are usually people who strive to be good and do right. We think of ourselves and our friends as the better part of humanity. Yet, inside all of us lurks evil that has never been uprooted, a small weed in the corner of our hearts. If God allowed any of us to “run the world” it would be a catastrophe. That is why God asks and we do well to acquiesce to letting God be God while we humans take our place "wrapped in amazing grace." “Uh-huh, that's what I'll do.”

Thursday, March 29, 2018

It's Friday, But Sunday's Coming

It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming

It’s Friday
Jesus is praying
Peter is sleeping
Judas is betraying
But Sunday’s comin’ 

It’s Friday
Pilate’s struggling
The council is conspiring
The crowd is vilifying
They don’t even know
That Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The disciples are running
Like sheep without a shepherd
Mary’s crying
Peter is denying
But they don’t know
That Sunday’s a comin’ 

It’s Friday
The Romans beat my Jesus
They robe him in scarlet
They crown him with thorns
But they don’t know
That Sunday’s comin’ 

It’s Friday
See Jesus walking to Calvary
His blood dripping
His body stumbling
And his spirit’s burdened
But you see, it’s only Friday
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The world’s winning
People are sinning
And evil’s grinning 

It’s Friday
The soldiers nail my Savior’s hands
To the cross
They nail my Savior’s feet
To the cross
And then they raise him up
Next to criminals 
It’s Friday
But let me tell you something
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The disciples are questioning
What has happened to their King
And the Pharisees are celebrating
That their scheming
Has been achieved
But they don’t know
It’s only Friday
Sunday’s comin’ 

It’s Friday
He’s hanging on the cross
Feeling forsaken by his Father
Left alone and dying
Can nobody save him?
It’s Friday
But Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The earth trembles
The sky grows dark
My King yields his spirit 

It’s Friday
Hope is lost
Death has won
Sin has conquered
and Satan’s just a laughin’

It’s Friday
Jesus is buried
A soldier stands guard
And a rock is rolled into place
But it’s Friday
It is only Friday
Sunday is a comin’!

This poem/sermon was originally delivered by S. M. Lockridge (Shadrach Meshach Lockridge) (March 7, 1913 – April 4, 2000). He was the Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, San Diego, California, from 1953 to 1993. He was known as one of the great preachers of his time. He preached this sermon sometime in the 1950s.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Pedestrian Fatality and Autonomous Cars

(Click on thumbnails for larger image)

A recent pedestrian fatality involving an autonomous car is simply the first such tragedy. Science News reported that a woman died crossing the street when a self-driving car, deployed by Uber, hit her.[1] Writers, engineers, and computer science experts had predicted this for some time. What will this mean specifically for the autonomous car industry and artificial intelligence in general? What algorithms, if any, need to be rewritten? What logic did the self-driving car’s onboard computers use in choosing to enter the area when a human being was also in the street?

I have previously discussed this possibility and its implications in other posts.[2] A number of questions now come to mind. Did the car make a decisive choice to hit the pedestrian to avoid harm to those in the car? Could the onboard AI have made a different choice? How could the outcome have been changed? Investigators will need to ask these and several more questions to get to a place of assigning responsibility for this accident. What will the law have to say? Who could be fined? What sort of lawsuit could be filed? We await the outcome to see how manufacturers of autonomous cars might learn from this incident and the ramifications for all car makers.