All posts by M.J.

#433: The Song “From Job”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #433, on the subject of The Song “From Job”.

This song doesn’t really have a title.  I’m bad at titles, and while I suppose in one sense the title here might have been obvious, I always called it the one from Job.

It’s called that because somewhere late in that book, after Job and his three friends have finished bickering about whether his suffering is attributable to some secret sin he has been harboring, Elihu speaks, and in the middle of his speech he speaks about the righteous man, saying of this best of men, He will sing to men and say, “I have sinned and perverted what is right, and it is not proper for me; He has redeemed my life from going to the pit; my soul shall see the light.”

It wasn’t the first time I’d seen the words to a song in scripture and set them to music; it did require a few minor changes, but it produced this song about someone who thought himself fine but then recognized that he was not.

I wrote this when I was at Gordon College, probably after I got married but definitely while my cousin Peter Grosso was still attending Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in the next town.  That hurt the song, because the first people for whom I played it were him and a couple of his fellow students, and their only reaction was that it was long.  It is long, but I realized after the fact that I should have mentioned they were expected to sing along on the choruses, which they didn’t do.  Because of that response I rarely ever performed it live, and this recording, which I ranked 26th for quality of performance and recording, was done live, another done in my living room with the air cleaner coming through when the automatic level control kicked up.  I ranked the song at 32nd, and Tristan did not include it on his list, but since then I’ve come to think that this is a very important song for our era, so despite it being number 31 overall I think it worth singing, primarily because the revival so many want begins not with worship or evangelism but with repentance among believers, and that’s what this song expresses.

From Job.

So here are the lyrics.

I was no worse than the next guy–
That’s what I told myself,
And I didn’t even see why
God would ask for something else.
But I wouldn’t help another
If it broke my life of ease,
So I sinned against my brother;
So I fell down on my knees.

I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light,
Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light.

Well, I knew the twelve apostles
Had all done what Jesus said,
And I thought it was collosal
That God had raised Him from the dead,
But I didn’t really care about
What He had done that day.
But His love just kept on reachin’ out
‘Til I fin’ly came to say,

Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light,
Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light.

Well, I once knew all the theory,
And I didn’t care a bit,
‘Cause it only made me weary
Try’n’ to make life’s pieces fit.
Now I’ve got Him on the inside–
He’s become my everything–
So I’ll shout it from the hillside,
‘Cause He’s taught me how to sing

Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light,
Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
The Bible says that death is the wages of sin,
But the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus our Lord.
He’s knockin’ at your heart, so won’t you open up and let Him in.

Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light,
Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light.

Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light,
Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light.

Oh, and I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light,
Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light.

Oh, and I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light,
Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light.

If you’ve listened to this story
And you wonder what I mean,
When you’ve seen the land of glory
This life isn’t like it seemed.
Well, you’ve cheated, hated, cursed, lied–
Admit to God you’re wrong,
Then come join me on the hillside
And we’ll sing the world this song.

I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light,
Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light.

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe” | #320:  The Song “Free” | #322:  The Song “Voices” | #326:  The Song “Mountain, Mountain” | #328:  The Song “Still Small Voice” | #334:  The Song “Convinced” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me” | #428:  The Song “To the Victor”

#432: Whole New Worlds

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #432, on the subject of Whole New Worlds.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first seven novels,

  1. Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel,
  2. Old Verses New,
  3. For Better or Verse,
  4. Spy Verses,
  5. Garden of Versers,
  6. Versers Versus Versers, and
  7. Re Verse All,

in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I am posting the eighth, In Verse Proportion,  I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights.  This “behind the writings” look may contain spoilers because it sometimes talks about my expectations for the futures of the characters and stories–although it sometimes raises ideas that were never pursued, as being written partially concurrently with the story it sometimes discusses where I thought it was headed.  You might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them.  Links below (the section headings) will take you to the specific individual chapters being discussed, and there are (or will soon be) links on those pages to bring you back hopefully to the same point here.

It was suggested in connection with Re Verse All that shorter more frequent behind-the-writings posts would work better; they proved to be considerably more work in several ways.  Thus this time I am preferring longer, less frequent posts.  This is the first mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 1 through 21.

There is also a section of the site, Multiverser Novel Support Pages, in which I have begun to place materials related to the novels beginning with character papers for the major characters, giving them at different stages as they move through the books.

History of the series, including the reason it started, the origins of character names and details, and many of the ideas, are in earlier posts, and won’t be repeated here.

Chapter 1, Kondor 172

The first decision that had to be made about this book is which characters’ stories it would recount.  That wasn’t that difficult a decision, because Kondor, Slade, and Brown had all been absent from the previous book, the seventh, Re Verse All, and so there would be a strong argument against omitting any of them from this one.  Meanwhile, I had Hastings and Takano together in the same world, and if I carried them over I would have five viewpoint characters, which while I have done that before it makes for shorter stories.  Besides, if at some point I split them I would have more trouble.  I could bring Beam into it, but since on the last page of the previous novel he verses out he is the easiest one to delay.

The second decision was the sequence of the characters.  The argument against Joe was that he was the last chapter of Versers Versus Versers.  On the other hand, there were a lot of chapters since then in the intervening book.  What Joe had in his favor was that his first chapter actually had some action in it.  Further, when I finished writing Versers Versus Versers I tackled a short story continuation for each of the six viewpoint characters, and for him I wrote three consecutive chapters, so there was a strong argument in that for beginning with him.

In the end of the previous book I had had Joe suggest to Zeke that they attempt to sink the boats by shooting holes in them.  After I finished it, I remembered that canoes don’t sink because they’re buoyant, and these wooden boats would swamp but stay afloat.  Thus I had to rethink the strategy, but more significantly I had to think of why Kondor would know this and have him rethink it.

As usual, as I started writing the book it was untitled.  I had received suggestions when I was writing the seventh book, although I used my own idea of Reversal to create Re Verse All, which I liked and ultimately used.  I had also been considering Inverse Proportion.  Then there were the suggestions from readers:  Eric Ashley recommended Chapter and Verse, and Bell, Verse, and Candle, and To Verse is a Verb; Kyler Young put forward Conversation; John Walker suggested Joe Verses Slade (although I felt like there must be something better than “Slade” to make that work, such as Tornado).  As I am reaching the sixth chapter, I am leaning toward Con Versation, or else In Verse Proportions.  While I was working on setting up the HTML pages of Re Verse All I thought of Ner Verse, but am not sure how I would use it.

I am thinking that for the gather I’ll use The Farmland beta, in which aliens invade a primitive world and the verser defends it.  I could put this in Slade’s current world, the parakeet world at the level of the industrial revolution, which is more advanced than the world of the book version but should be workable.  Slade, Derek, and Kondor have all done spaceships by this point, so they’re a good set to put against the aliens.


Chapter 2, Slade 168

The argument for making Slade second was that I had written three consecutive chapters for him as well, so it would be quick and easy to put together a good part of the beginning of the book.

I wanted Bob to be able to communicate with the Parakeet People, but it was not credible that their language would not have changed at all from the time when they wove baskets and lived in wigwam-like nests to the age of the industrial revolution.  Thus I decided that the first bird he encountered would be a scholar of ancient civilization who knew the language.  Bob, though, does not know it well, and it is likely that the scholar would shift to the modern version of it rather easily–for example, someone who knows the early Greek of Homer and also knows modern Greek would probably revert to the modern if he started conversing in Greek, despite the similarities in the two languages.

When I created this world in Verse Three, Chapter One I never really made decisions about the biases.  I decided that some things worked and some didn’t, but I didn’t put numbers on anything.  As I bring the world back into play, that gives me two problems, the one figuring out what was possible then, the other deciding whether that has changed, and to what degree.  When I do Mystery of the Vorgo (which I did in Old Verses New, but it didn’t matter there because Kondor doesn’t believe in magic), I keep the magic curve but drop the level, so everything that was possible is still possible for the verser, but not for the indigs, and it’s all more difficult.  Eventually Shella is going to try to figure out what she can and cannot do, and I have to make it consistent with what is already established about this world.


Chapter 3, Brown 196

The problem with Derek’s story is that not only did I write only two chapters for it, they’re not consecutive.  The first follows immediately from the cliffhanger of Versers Versus Versers, but the second is clearly set later, after Derek and Vashti have become more established.  That means I face more writing when the next Brown chapter is due.

I recognized the Commander Brown problem, and decided to play with it a bit.  The robot does not recognize the problem, and Derek has to find a way to get it to do so.

In the previous book Derek had noticed that the indigs he encountered were left-handed.  I remembered that, and assumed that it would mean that the top assistant would be the left-hand man because of it.


Chapter 4, Kondor 173

This was again one of the chapters I wrote immediately after finishing Versers Versus Versers, and so was continuing the battle there.  I had not yet decided which characters would be in the seventh book and which would be in this one.


Chapter 5, Slade 169

This was another chapter written before the decision had been made concerning which characters would be in which books.  I was beginning to paste the three characters together in this book and so creating the story, while at the same time formatting Re Verse All for publication, and getting the opening of the ninth novel in place (there were aspects of Lauren’s and Tommy’s story that needed to be covered before I forgot them).

Originally I had called the apartments “Married Student Housing” as they were called when I was in college (although my colleges didn’t have any such dorms), but I changed it to “Mated Student Housing” as perhaps better translation for what the birds might have called it.


Chapter 6, Brown 197

This was the first chapter I had to write to continue the story.  I had another Brown chapter, but it was several chapters later, and I needed to bridge from here to there.

I wanted Derek to address Vashti in a language the homonoid did not know, but I had to look up whether he had programmed the computer with Arabic or Farsi.  (It was Arabic.)

I started this and gave it its head, but had to interrupt in the middle without knowing where it was going to go after Derek commented that he didn’t know the native language.  At the time I was trying to set up Re Verse All for online serial publication, so I didn’t get back to this for perhaps a month or so, during which time I had thought of a different direction.  Returning once I’d finished the last behind-the-writings post for that book, I picked up and integrated the two ideas.


Chapter 7, Kondor 174

This was another chapter written shortly after the previous book was finished, so I would know where I was taking Kondor.  There is one more Kondor chapter already drafted, and this one actually sets that one up, but boxes me into I’m not sure what.

The notion that amirates give silver chains like the gold chains given by the caliphate seemed appropriate.


Chapter 8, Slade 170

This was the last of the pre-written Slade chapters, and even a month or so later I am not certain what happens next.

The fact that they appear as gods is significant at this point.

I had originally written that the porter’s name was “unpronounceable”.  In editing, it bothered me, but I didn’t realize the problem and make the change to “untranslatable” until the night before it was published.


Chapter 9, Brown 198

At this point I was struggling with all three stories.  I knew quite a bit of what had to happen with Derek and with Slade, but wasn’t sure how to organize it; I was not at all certain what to do with Kondor.

With Derek, I realized that he did not know for how long he was expected to stay at his post, and in fact he didn’t even know how the ship’s time system worked.  In contemplating this, I decided that there was something rational about dividing the day into twenty-four equal hours, the hours then into sixty minutes each of sixty seconds, but that there was nothing rational about supposing that the day of the originating planet was the same length as that of earth.  I thought perhaps it should be the equivalent of twenty-one hours, with each second correspondingly shorter such that the clocks counted twenty-four shorter hours in each day.  That would give me a bit of math to resolve, but it was manageable.

The next problem, then, was how many of those shorter hours comprised a standard shift, and was it different on the bridge.  I was much inclined toward making the standard work day eight hours, but making the bridge shift shorter, six hours.  But the problem was communicating all of this to Derek.

Beyond that, they had to find their quarters, and it would be separate quarters for each of them because they would be officer’s quarters.  They would of course move in together into Derek’s room and turn Vashti’s into some kind of study area–which was the next problem, that Vashti had a tremendous amount of learning to do, and Derek had to learn some himself, so they had to put that together from the ship’s computer.

All of this had to be done without belaboring the text.

I tackled the time questions first.


Chapter 10, Kondor 175

This was the last pre-written Kondor chapter.  There was one more pre-written Brown chapter, but its content was for later in the book and I had a lot to write before I could insert it.


Chapter 11, Slade 171

Before I started this chapter, I was approached by a publisher who was willing to publish my Why I Believe and wanted me to write a book based on the Temporal Anomalies in Popular Time Travel Movies web site.  These occupied a significant amount of my attention for several weeks, and I realized that I was not moving this book forward, which might be a problem because Re Verse All was a relatively short book and was progressing rather quickly through the online publication process.  Still, I was unsure how to proceed with a lot of this.

I had been struggling with how to move Bob forward, knowing all the things he had to do but not how to get them into the story, and abruptly it occurred to me to do something I’d done before:  have the characters talk about it, and see what ideas they had.  Most of what I was trying to work toward had already occurred to Slade, and was easy enough to put into the story, along with the idea from Shella that he learn the language mind reading trick.


Chapter 12, Brown 199

I pushed forward by moving Derek and Vashti off the bridge to living quarters, and as I was setting them up I realized that they hadn’t eaten in five or six hours, and I was going to have to address that first but had not given it any thought at all.  I wanted to avoid replicators and food dispensers, but knew I didn’t have a kitchen crew and wanted to avoid forcing them to make their own meals.  I’ve got a couple chapters to work it out while I catch up the other two characters.


Chapter 13, Kondor 176

I was concerned that I not wind up putting Kondor back into a situation in which he was introducing modern medicine to a technologically primitive society, and wondering how to avoid it, when it struck me that this is a highly magical world and to this point although there have been a number of people injured, no one has been sick.  I wondered about whether I could credibly create the idea that there is no disease in the world, and floated it on one of my social media pages to get feedback from fans.  Some of it was excellent, and I started piecing together how to make this work.


Chapter 14, Slade 172

I was several weeks stalled on this.  It was only partly because during this time I completed a first and a second draft of the promised time travel book.  It was also because I was stymied on all three stories–on Joe because I really couldn’t think of what to do with him, and on Bob and Derek because even though I had a lot of pieces through which to move them, I couldn’t figure out how to connect them.

I had considered having Bob botch or fail on the language link, but I had some significant problems ahead for him and didn’t want to add this to them.  I might still have a language link failure at some point, but for the moment I just need to push forward.

I’m thinking that Bob can invent the internal combustion engine and the telephone and maybe the light bulb easily enough.  I’ll have to decide whether they have electric generators, but I think they do because I think they have electric motors and batteries, although it is possible their vehicles are all steam powered at this point.  I don’t see him refining petroleum, but he can run a vehicle on alcohol fuel, and if they don’t have distillation that’s easy enough for him to create.


Chapter 15, Brown 200

I was trying to get things organized, and realized that food was the priority, so I sent them to the officers’ galley which, I realized, would probably be stocked much as the other kitchen but would have no staff so Derek would have to cook.  Then I tried to work out where he would think to start Vashti’s education, and moved on from there.  I have to move them forward quickly, and bring in instruction on using their stations, but I couldn’t put more into the time than was credible.

The bathroom kept nagging at me, probably because I had just set up to publish the chapter of Re Verse All in which Beam teaches his lieutenants how to use one and I didn’t want to omit it from Derek’s story.


Chapter 16, Kondor 177

I was stuck with how to keep Joe’s story interesting in the Arabian Nights world, and took it up with several people, one of whom suggested I should just verse him out–but I didn’t have anywhere to send him, and I was going to need to take him to Slade for the gather which would limit how much I could do in any intervening world.  Then it struck me that he was a highly eligible bachelor, obviously a wealthy foreign nobleman, and that it might be time to entangle him in some kind of relationship.  As I considered it, the notion of someone trying to arrange such a thing struck me, and I figured I could launch that and see where it might lead.

This was a short chapter, much shorter than I had intended.  However, when I wrote the last words, “I would like you to marry my sister,” I needed a way to convey the shock of this, and in less than a minute I decided that the best way to do this would be to end the chapter here.


Chapter 17, Slade 173

I couldn’t decide whether to do the engineering discussion or the legal discussion first, but since I saw the problems arising in the latter I decided to move forward with engineering.

I decided that the language link failed mostly because I didn’t want it to succeed constantly, particularly considering that both of them were fairly new at it.

When I was setting up the HTML page for publication for this chapter, I realized that the next chapter, Brown 201, had the wrong number–the digits had been transposed to 210.  What was worse is that the error was copied both to my outline notes of the book and to the behind-the-writings document from which these posts are produced, and then followed, every chapter nine places higher than it should have been.  That was forty-five chapter numbers that had to be corrected individually in three different places.  At least, though, I caught it before I had done images for them.


Chapter 18, Brown 201

I needed Derek and Vashti to learn what they needed to know at a swift but credible pace, and I needed to make it happen without it becoming boring reading.  Eventually I’m going to have to create a problem, probably an intercept course with a comet or other huge ice ball, but I’m going to want Derek and Vashti to be able to handle it when it comes, so I need to get them trained first.


Chapter 19, Kondor 178

I had a number of things to deal with, and decided to stretch the time a bit by having Mohammed try to persuade Kondor to come meet Leah and instead he insists that she must come to him.  I had thought briefly that perhaps he brought her with him, but decided that was not the way he would have done it, so there will be a delay while he goes to get her.

I need to pick an amirate for Mohammed, who will be the recently installed Amir there.  I’m thinking southwest, but that’s terribly convenient; the problem is all the others are north of the Capital, and would take a longer time to reach.  That’s not necessarily bad, but I’m not sure how to stretch it at Kondor’s end.


Chapter 20, Slade 174

I had been trying to construct a conversation here, and it wasn’t working.  At one point I had imagined the professor saying something like “but you’re not parakeet; you’re not even avian”, but I couldn’t make that make sense.  That is, in our world we might say “You’re not human; you’re not even hominid” or maybe “primate”, but we wouldn’t say “mammalian” even if that were the case.  In the end I’m not sure whether I conveyed the “legal nuances”, but I think I got the problem across.


Chapter 21, Kondor 179

This was going to be a Brown chapter, but I wasn’t sure what to write.  Then as I thought about it I decided that I left Derek and Vashti in a routine, and giving them a bit more time before the next chapter would make it feel like they had continued working that way for a while.  Besides, I knew exactly where the Kondor chapter began and a lot of what it contained, and people would be waiting for it, so I decided to go for it.
The idea of telling the prospective in-laws about the verse had occurred to me already, but the idea of having Zeke suggest it was new.


This has been the first behind-the-writings look at In Verse Proportion.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with more behind-the-writings posts for it and another novel.

#431: Mark Joseph Young En Français

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #431, on the subject of Mark Joseph Young En Français.

Over two decades ago, the respected Australian role playing game e-zine Places to Go, People to Be asked if they could translate an article series I had written for them, three parts under the title Law and Enforcement in Imaginary realms, to republish in their then-new French edition.  This was the beginning of a long and continuing relationship during which they continued translating my work into French for release to a wider audience.  Recently I received word that they were releasing the twenty-sixth such article, and I had often realized that I had not been keeping track of what they had published and ought to do that, at least for my own sake, but also for yours.

This is in roughly the sequence in which the articles were originally translated and posted.

  1. La Loi et l’Ordre dans les Mondes Imaginaires – 1re Partie : Les sources de la Loi, written for and still published at the Australian version back in perhaps 1998 and translated shortly thereafter, was entitled Law & Enforcement in Imaginary Realms Part I:  The Source of Law, and dealt with how legal systems develop from primitive tribal structures to modern governmental systems, and how we derive laws from that.
  2. La Loi et l’Ordre dans les Mondes Imaginaires – 2e partie : la procédure judiciaire was the second part, Law & Enforcement in Imaginary Realms:  The Course of Law, presenting the issues of who executes the law and how is it executed, including what rights people might or might not have.
  3. La Loi et l’ordre dans les mondes imaginaires – 3e partie : Les Forces de l’Ordre finishes the series with Law & Enforcement in Imaginary Realms:  The Force of Law, dealing with matters of how and why we punish criminals.
  4. Des pièces de monnaie invisibles was originally a Game Ideas Unlimited article (at Gaming Outpost), more recently republished by the Christian Gamers Guild as RPG-ology #34:  Invisible Coins, about an illusionist technique and referee control of play.
  5. Gauche ou droite ? was again from Game Ideas Unlimited, again republished as RPG-ology #47:  Left or Right?, one of my personal favorites and another illusionist technique.
  6. Dans l’esprit de la radio is an article I wrote for the Winter 2004 edition of the e-zine Daedalus, entitled In the Spirit of Radio, and no longer available in English on the web.  Fortuitously I downloaded that issue, so I have a copy, and although it was not easy to convert PDF into HTML I expect it to post in the RPG-ology series next spring.
  7. La Sagesse dans les jeux de rôles, originally published as Game Ideas Unlimited:  Wisdom about how to play a character said to be wiser than the player, but only partially preserved on the web in English, it is my hope to reconstruct this eventually.
  8. LNS : de la théorie à l’application is a translation of an article originally published at The Forge and still available there as of last look, as Applied Theory, discussing how to apply concepts of gamism, narrativism, and simulationism to game design.
  9. Théorie 101 – 1re partie : le système et l’espace imaginaire commun is a significant piece.  Some years after I had written the Law and Enforcement series for the Australian e-zine, their editors put out a general call for someone to summarize the main features of role playing game theory as it was then being expounded at The Forge.  Being at that time involved in that work, I offered to compose something, and this, Theory 101:  System and the Shared Imagined Space, was the first of three parts.  It explains the concepts system, credibility, authority, and other aspects of how games work “under the hood” as it were that enable the creations of a shared world.  This article was later republished by Gaming Outpost, and the three-article translation was compacted and published in the French print magazine Joie de Role.
  10. Théorie 101 – 2e partie : Le Truc Impossible Avant Le Petit Déj’ is the second of the three parts, Theory 101:  The Impossible Thing Before Breakfast, discussing referee styles and how they resolve the conflict between the statement that the referee controls the story and the fact that the players control all the actions of its main characters.
  11. Théorie 101 – 3e partie : Les propositions créatives is the third part of the series, originally Theory 101:  Creative Agenda, discussing what is popularly called “GNS” or gamism, narrativism, and simulationism, the three primary approaches to player play, and what makes games fun for different people.
  12. Étreintes was originally Game Ideas Unlimited:  Embraces, and is scheduled to be reposted as RPG-ology #48:  Embraces on November 16 (2021); it deals with romance in role playing games.
  13. Valeurs was originally Game Ideas Unlimited:  Value, discussing what makes anything valuable or cheap.  It is on the list to be republished as an RPG-ology piece, but not yet scheduled.
  14. Récompenses was originally Game Ideas Unlimited:  Rewards, dealing with in-game reward systems, no longer available in English but on the list for eventually republication.
  15. Création de perso was originally Game Ideas Unlimited:  Chargen, about different ways of creating characters.  The English version only exists as a partial article, but eventually I hope to reconstruct it from the translation and republish it in RPG-ology.
  16. Du cash was originally Game Ideas Unlimited:  Cash, addressing the development of systems of exchange from barter through the invention of money in various forms to the future of electronic credit.  An English version exists, and will eventually be republished as an RPG-ology piece.
  17. Points négatifs was originally published as Game Ideas Unlimited:  Negative Points, a further discussion of character generation extolling the virtues of stronger and weaker characters.
  18. Maîtriser l’Horreur comes from closer to home, a translation of mark Joseph “young” web log post #132:  Writing Horror, about some of the elements that create a good horror story, whether for a book or for a game session.
  19. Moralité et conséquences : les fondamentaux oubliés. recovers the first article I wrote for someone else’s web site, Morality and Consequences:  Overlooked Roleplay Essentials, originally published among the earliest articles at Gaming Outpost around 1997 and restored as mark Joseph “young” web log post #237:  Morality and Consequences:  Overlooked Roleplay Essentials in 2018.
  20. Les Pactes avec le Diable is a translation of Faith and Gaming:  Deals, from the Christian Gamers Guild, about the Christian value in roleplaying deals with the devil.
  21. Le festin de Javan is again from the Christian Gamers Guild, Faith in Play #3:  Javan’s Feast, about an act of charity that rocked the game and impacted the players at the table.
  22. Histoire des Points de Vie was RPG-ology #3:  History of Hit Points, discussing the origin, development, and value of a fundamental mechanic in many games.
  23. Sentience was another Game Ideas Unlimited article, not spelled differently in English, and dealing with the elements of intelligence as a groundwork for creating alien minds.  It is scheduled for RPG-ology early next year.
  24. Funérailles reproduces another from Game Ideas Unlimited, this one republished recently as RPG-ology #46:  Deceased, asking why we don’t have funerals in our role playing games.
  25. Blessures is translated from Game Ideas Unlimited:  Wounds, addressing how events from adventures should impact character personality thereafter, which eventually should wind up in the RPG-ology series.
  26. Vous avez le droit de garder le silence… was more simply Game Ideas Unlimited:  Silence, about the relatively modern right against self-incrimination and how legal systems were different without it.  It, too, is slated for inclusion in the RPG-ology series.

The original French index on their site is here, for those more facile in French than I.  They expect to continue adding my material to their collection in the future, so I expect there may be a sequel to this article eventually.  My contributions are a drop in the ocean of excellent material they have gathered from a wealth of well-respected writers whom I will not begin to name for fear of omitting someone who ought to be mentioned.

#430: New Jersey 2021 Tentative Election Results

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #430, on the subject of New Jersey 2021 Tentative Election Results.

The 2021 election was not without its surprises, although it was not that surprising.

In the category of expected, both houses of the legislature are still controlled by the Democratic party.  However, Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeny, who has been in the Senate since 2001 and served as its president since 2009, lost his legislative seat to Republican Edward Durr, whom we interviewed when he ran (unsuccessfully) for the Assembly two years ago.

As of Wednesday night (11/3) the election was called in favor of incumbent governor Phil Murphy.  However, with only 90% of estimated results reported, a lead of less than 1%, and a mere twenty thousand vote difference, it is likely that there will be a recount.

Meanwhile, although the second public question expanding raffles in the state passed, voters rejected the first question expanding collegiate sports betting, which will continue to be limited.

If there’s more news on the gubernatorial race, we will return with it.

#429: Luther College of the Bible and Liberal Arts

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #429, on the subject of Luther College of the Bible and Liberal Arts.

In Teaneck, New Jersey, at the corner of River Road and Pomander Walk, there is a somewhat elegant retirement home.  It occupies the grounds formerly utilized by a small religious junior college, Luther College of the Bible and Liberal Arts, no longer there.

I attended that school when it had existed, under perhaps several different names, for a quarter of a century, and now participate in an unofficial alumni group on Facebook.  Periodically someone will post to the list asking what remains of the campus, and whether anyone might post a sign memorializing the location.  It was, after all, for many of these students a place of great significance, holy ground if not literally at least in function in their lives.  The answer has been the same for a number of years, that if you know where it was there is a grove of trees within which once stood an outdoor chapel, and the mortared stone “altar” of that chapel still stands, or apparently did last time anyone sought it.

To the students, that seems an inadequate testament to the great things which once happened there.  It was a turning point in many lives, a foundation for many ministries, a first meeting place for many important relationships.  Because of the timing in which it entered our lives and the Biblical principles it brought to us, it cannot have been less than that.  Yet there is nothing there.

There are memories, of course.  I can still see the buildings that once stood there–a chapel with classrooms, a dormitory, and several repurposed residential buildings which provided offices, cafeteria, library, rec center, and more student housing.  It was ever a small school, with one teacher for every dozen of the fewer than two hundred students, and the unofficial slogan, “At Luther, you’re not a number, you’re a rumor.”  It was not a place to be anonymous.

It has by now been gone longer than it had been there.  Periodically someone goes through the mad search to locate whatever institution currently maintains the school’s records and transcripts.

Hope for some kind of sign or marker is probably faint.  I doubt the school, shadowed as it was by the rather large Farleigh Dickenson University campus a block away, was ever of any significance to the people of Teaneck.  The Lutheran denominations which cooperatively supported it then have all by now merged and morphed into new ones.  It is ultimately only the alumni, those touched by its presence in the past, who remember it or care that it was ever there.

But then, the location is not important.

The legacy of Luther College is not the dirt on which it was built.  It is the lives of those who attended.  You whose faith was formed and informed by the teachers and other students in your time there, you who have carried that faith into the world and into the lives of others, you are the legacy of Luther College, the only part of what remains that ever mattered; and as that faith impacts others, that legacy spreads, the unimportant name of the place lost but the faith it engendered and nurtured growing and spreading.

A plaque or sign marking a location where some buildings once stood won’t matter to that.  Eventually even that stone altar will vanish from the world.  However, because of you, the faith built in you will not vanish from the world.  You are the marker that says Luther College was here.  That is the location that matters.

#428: The Song “To the Victor”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #428, on the subject of The Song “To the Victor”.

This is one of the very few praise songs I’ve written, and being a teacher I had to incorporate something extra so it’s structured as a trinitarian hymn.

I’m not sure whether that matters.

When I posted the song Why (listed and linked below) I mentioned that I preferred to have it segue from this song.  They are both worship songs, in the key of D, with similar instrumentation, beat, and tempo.  I did not do that here.

Cardiac Output performed this; I’m not certain whether we did it with two vocals or with the third middle vocal I omitted here.  At the time I made the recording, I was concerned about whether the vocals included unsupported parallel fourths and whether that would create the sort of acoustic problems for which they are known, but I thought it would be too much work to check for them and see if there was a simple fix, so I simply left out the middle voice.  That may be part of why I ranked it twenty-eighth for performance and recording, although it might also be because I didn’t really like the sound of my voice on the soprano part, particularly on the solo second verse.  I listed it twenty-fifth for quality of the song itself, and Tristan did not include it in his list, so it landed at number thirty.

This recording was one of the early vocals over midi instruments ones I made in the early aughts.  The midi guitar is not as expressive as a live acoustic version, but is technically fairly accurate, and the bass guitar adds something worthwhile.  The lead guitar at the end happens to facilitate a transition into Why, but predates the connection and provides a satisfying ending.

To the Victor.

So here are the lyrics.

Forever in Your hand
I will rest securely.
What can man
Do to me?
You set me free.
And I thank you for the love You give to me.

You sent Your Holy Blessed Son.
The fight is over now, the victory’s been won,
And all that’s left is for the praises to be sung
To the Victor, to our God, the three in one.

Forever in Your hand
I will rest securely.
What can man
Do to me?
You set me free.
And I thank you for the love You give to me.

You came and gave Your life to me.
You took away my death, and gave me eyes to see,
And now I know I will sing praise eternally
To the Victor, oh, my Lord, I sing to Thee.

Forever in Your hand
I will rest securely.
What can man
Do to me?
You set me free.
And I thank you for the love You give to me.

You came and filled me with your power.
You took my sin away, and caused my life to flower,
And now you pour on me your blessings like a shower.
To the Victor I’ll sing praises ev’ry hour.

Forever in Your hand
I will rest securely.
What can man
Do to me?
You set me free.
And I thank you for the love You give to me.
And I thank you for the love You give to me.
And I thank you for the love You give to me.

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe” | #320:  The Song “Free” | #322:  The Song “Voices” | #326:  The Song “Mountain, Mountain” | #328:  The Song “Still Small Voice” | #334:  The Song “Convinced” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me”

Next song:  From Job

#427: The New Jersey 2021 Ballot

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #427, on the subject of The New Jersey 2021 Ballot.

It’s a big election in New Jersey this year, as the two executive offices are up for election along with every seat in both houses of the state legislature.  Also, there are again two public questions on the ballot, as New Jerseyans are again asked to amend the state constitution to allow something new.

The sheer number of seats in the two legislatures makes it impossible to cover the candidates with any accuracy.  Democrats control both houses presently, and given the fact that New Jersey’s demographics are gradually shifting more urban and less rural/suburban, that is unlikely to change.

However, the gubernatorial race has been very hot, as each of the two major candidates has been attacking the other.

Democratic incumbent Phil Murphy (left in the picture) is a former Goldman Sachs executive, ambassador to Germany, and National Democratic party finance chair.  He has been largely responsible for New Jersey’s response to COVID.  Some will say that this was an excellent program which saved New Jersey from disaster, given that a significant part of the state was a short commute from New York City, which had rapidly become the epicenter of the disease.  Others will say that the governor pushed a nanny-state agenda, imposing unnecessary restrictions and regulations on businesses and citizens.  The balance on this might tip the election.

If re-elected Murphy will almost certainly continue to press the progressive programs of the Democratic party.  No Democrat has served two terms since Brendan Byrne in the 1970s, but the office has tended to bounce back and forth between the two parties.

His main opponent is Republican Jack Ciattarelli (pictured, right), a former state assemblyman who campaigns simply as Jack.  He has a Masters of Business Administration, and promises to fix New Jersey’s problems, asserting that Murphy is out of touch with the real citizens of the state, and that taxes are out of hand and the governor has handled allegations of sexual misconduct poorly.  Murphy, meanwhile, claims that Ciattarelli will turn back the progressivist advances in areas like abortion.

This is unlikely.  As noted, both legislative houses in New Jersey are controlled by the democrats, and that is unlikely to change in this election.  As such, a Republican governor could potentially slow the rapid slide to the left, but probably could not shift the state to the right.

On that point, there is a benefit in having the executive and the legislature held by opposing parties:  it prevents either party from enacting its most extreme policies, reining in government to a more moderate position.

There are three “third party” candidates on the ballot, the Green Party’s Madelyn Hoffman, Libertarian Gregg Mele, and Socialist Workers Party Joanne Kuniansky.  Votes for third party candidates in most elections essentially support the victory of the major party candidate most opposite that position, that is, the voter who thinks that the Libertarian candidate is a better choice than the Republican and so votes that way weakens the Republican candidate helping the Democrat get into office, in the same way that votes for the Green or Socialist Workers party tend to benefit the Republicans.

The office of Lieutenant Governor in New Jersey is not elected independently, but as with the Vice Presidency to the President is the gubernatorial candidate’s running mate.

*****

Both of our public questions would expand gambling in the state if approved.

The first question concerns collegiate sports betting.  New Jersey currently allows betting on sports, but with the caveat that New Jerseyans cannot place bets on any games involving New Jersey college teams, either at home or away.  This question would amend the constitution so as to remove that restriction.

Betting on sports events has only been permitted for less than a decade, and local collegiate sports were always excluded.  The fear generally is that wagering on sports always has the potential to result in pressure on players, and that this would be bad for college students.  However, since the restriction doesn’t cover all college events (New Jersey gamblers may bet on games in which both teams are from out-of-state colleges), there is some reason to question its value.

The second question pertains to raffles and similar fundraising efforts (e.g., Bingo).  There is a long list of organizations permitted to conduct these in New Jersey which includes such groups as volunteer fire departments, veterans groups, charitable organizations, schools, and religious organizations, but requires that the proceeds of any such activities be used for specific activities such as charity and education, and that only veterans and senior citizens groups can use the proceeds of such activities to support their own groups.

The amendment reduces the restriction by permitting all groups currently permitted to hold raffles to apply the net proceeds of those raffles to their own groups, that is, a civic group such as the Rotary Club could hold a raffle and then use the proceeds to fund the Rotary Club itself, instead of being required to apply the money to one of the short list of approved uses.

Exactly how much difference that would make is unclear, other than that there are likely to be more raffles in the future if it passes.

#426: A Christian View of Horror

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #426, on the subject of A Christian View of Horror.

One of my Patreon patrons asked

In regards to horror, how do you view it as a Christian?

It’s a good and difficult question, worth taking some time to address.  I have written some horror, both as segments in novels and as worlds for game play, so I’m not completely against it.  On the other hand, I don’t choose to read horror unless it’s gifted to me, and I don’t watch it unless there’s a compelling reason, such as it’s part of a time travel movie I need to analyze for my readers.  If, though, I can give myself a third hand, a few years ago when I wrote mark Joseph “young” web log post #263:  The Ten Book Cover Challenge, three of the ten books I selected might be considered horror (Charles Williams’ Descent Into Hell, George Orwell’s 1984, and C. J. Henderson’s The Things That Are Not There), which is quite a bit considering that four of the ten were non-fiction.

The question arose as a sort of follow-up to an “ask the author” question at Goodreads, Can you tell us a two-sentence horror story?  In response I gave a couple of basic principles about horror with a link to one of my articles on the subject, and I’ll come back to that.

As I wrote in Faith and Gaming:  Bad Things, for many of us negative scenarios become the foil for faith, that is, we see that God is greater than any evil we can imagine.  For others, even the real evils of this world challenge our belief.  For those for whom dark worlds only enhance the light of God, this is a good thing, a way to strengthen hope.  For others, horror is best avoided.

And horror can be used for edifying purposes.  I more recently observed in Faith in Play #28:  Vampires that the undead, used well, were an excellent metaphor for lost humanity.  The story of Frankenstein similarly was a warning about science overreaching, attempting to create life, a lesson we very much need in this age of genetic engineering.  My own Post-Sympathetic Man (in Multiverser:  The Second Book of Worlds), which Lovecraft and Poe fan E. R. Jones said was one of the darkest scenarios he’d ever encountered, attempts to highlight the outcome of a thorough application of survival of the fittest as a life philosophy.  When I wrote Old Verses New, I took Derek Brown through several horror worlds in rapid succession because I needed to teach him he did not need to be afraid.  Dark scenarios have their positive values, used aright.

The problem, though, is that horror done right, as I conclude in web log post #132:  Writing Horror, is about hopelessness.  As hope is the enemy of fear, the well done horror story has to strip it away and leave the characters hopeless, taking the reader with them into despair.  Lovecraft understood that, and wrote with that objective.

For what it’s worth, Lovecraft’s Cthulu work never frightened me.  I think that was a case in which I knew that nothing he could imagine or cause me to imagine was greater than my God.  It kind of took the the sting out of it.  In fact, author C. J. Henderson confided that he had a problem when he started writing Cthulu horror, because whenever he put his characters into these horror scenarios they insisted on fighting back, and usually they won.

That really is the Christian understanding of horror:  ultimately God wins, as He is greater than any evil we can imagine.  That’s not the way horror is supposed to end, but that is ultimately the truth.

So I suppose that’s as close an answer as I can give:  the Christian can certainly entertain dark “horror” scenarios, but in the end evil fails and hope wins, and that is not horror.

#425: Do Similarities Between the Accounts of Moses Birth and Certain Myths Make Him a Fictional Character?

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #425, on the subject of Do Similarities Between the Accounts of Moses Birth and Certain Myths Make Him a Fictional Character?.

This is a continuation of a response to the article Ten Reasons Why the Bible’s Story of the Exodus Is Not True, requested by a Facebook contact.

  1. The introductory article was #415:  Can the Exodus Story Be True?
  2. It was followed by an answer to the first objection, #416:  Does Archaeological Silence Disprove the Exodus?
  3. Turning to the second objection about whether such a departure could be organized, we offered #417:  Is the Beginning of the Exodus Account Implausible?
  4. The third objection was that given the number of escaping Israelites the line this would have created would have been too long to outrun Pharaoh’s chariots, to which we offered #418:  Are There Too Many People Escaping in Exodus?
  5. The fourth objection was summarized and answered in #419:  When Escaping in Exodus, Did the Israelites Have Too Much Luggage?
  6. In response to the fifth objection we wrote #420: Were the Hygiene Requirements in Exodus Impossible to Observe?
  7. The sixth objection asked and answered #421: Did Moses Write the Torah?
  8. For the seventh objection, we addressed the issue of anachronisms, and particularly those related to place names, in #422:  Are There Anachronisms in the Torah that Invalidate It?
  9. The absurdity of the eighth objection is displayed in #423:  What Kind of Infrastructure Did the Wandering Israelites Need?
  10. We looked at the penultimate objection in #424:  Did the Earth Really Stop Turning?

The final objection raised by the article is that there are parallels to earlier known writings, and specifically that the story of the birth and early life of Moses has similarities to the earlier story of the Akkadian emperor Sargon the Great of perhaps a millennium before.  Based on this, the article decides that Moses was a fictional character invented when King Cyrus permitted the Israelites deported by Nebuchadnezzar to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple.

It is certainly true that there are events reported in the Bible that parallel accounts from other countries.  There are several plausible explanations for these.  Liberal scholars (we discussed in the first article of this series) always assert that they demonstrate that the biblical accounts are later derivative versions, but that’s presumptive.  There are many reasons to believe that the Biblical accounts, usually simpler, are the originals from which the others are elaborations, or that both are developed from the same tradition independently.

It also appears that God has mirrored the real historic events of the Bible in the myths of other peoples.  The virgin birth is the reality of the many myths about gods having children through human women.  The resurrection of Jesus is the realization of the imagery of the corn king deities found in many cultures.  It is not impossible that God prefigured some of the early events of the life of Moses in the myth of Sargon, as a sort of prophetic revelation to a people who were not from Israel, pointing to Himself.

At the same time, similarities between Moses and other ancient heroes do not falsify the accounts.  It might be that Moses’ mother got the idea of hiding her son in the rushes from her knowledge of that earlier myth; it might simply be coincidence, that she had that idea which someone else had had earlier.  I’m sure that many of my original ideas have been original ideas previously elsewhere.  There are many differences between the accounts (for example, the inclusion of Moses’ sister Miriam watching him in the rushes), which would mean that if the events as reported about Moses are fictional, they are of a quality of realistic fiction unknown for millennia thereafter.

Further, if you assume that Moses was a fictional character invented as late as Babylon, you have to explain too much about everything else.  To what Law were the psalms referring in so many instances?  At what point do the historic books become actual history, and how did Israel come to exist before that time if not through the events recorded in the earlier books?  The pre-exilic prophets, such as Isaiah and Amos, don’t seem likely to have existed if there was no Torah, or at least something remarkably like it.  And when Ezra and Nehemiah returned from exile to “rebuild” the temple, exactly what were they rebuilding?  Without Moses we have no tabernacle; without the tabernacle we have no original design for the temple.  Pre-exilic Israel simply does not exist in any discoverable form without those documents, and those documents do not exist without Moses.  Or do we want to claim that the entire Old Testament was invented after the last events it records, and foisted on the nation as if it had always existed?  That seems far less likely than the alternative that they are actual historic records.

And if, as is claimed, the events of Exodus were written centuries later to give cohesion to a people leaving from Babylon, why does the story so effectively attack the gods of Egypt rather than the gods of Babylon?

In their last words, the authors of the article reveal that they have an agenda.  They assert that the entire Bible is fiction written for political purposes, and that therefore the Jewish people should abandon any claim they think it gives them to the land it says was given to Abraham.  They are in essence blaming Judaism, and perhaps Christianity, for the conflict in the Middle East, and saying that we should stop thinking that anything in our religions is true so that we can get along with people who disagree with us–as if agreeing with people was either a necessary or a sufficient condition to getting along with them.

I’m sorry.  I’m not a terribly patriotic person, but I do believe that it is true that those we Americans call the Founding Fathers risked and sometimes lost their lives to establish this nation on some Deist/Enlightenment principles about the rights of humans, and that several wars have been fought to preserve the nation they created and protect those rights.  Some things are “true facts”.  Pretending that they are false because you would like history to be different is lying about the past.  Certainly we don’t know everything about the events of the Exodus account, but there’s no absolute reason to disbelieve them in their entirety, or in any particular point raised by the objectors.

And the ultimate problem that liberal scholars have failed ever to answer adquately is, if the Israelites did not escape from slavery in Egypt, travel across the wilderness, and conquer the land then known as Canaan, whence did they come and how did they become a nation?  The most cogent and coherent explanation for their existence is their own carefully recorded and preserved history, and that they did not much matter to the self-important “big” nations surrounding them does not negate that.

#424: Did the Earth Really Stop Turning?

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #424, on the subject of Did the Earth Really Stop Turning?.

This is a continuation of a response to the article Ten Reasons Why the Bible’s Story of the Exodus Is Not True, requested by a Facebook contact.

  1. The introductory article was #415:  Can the Exodus Story Be True?
  2. It was followed by an answer to the first objection, #416:  Does Archaeological Silence Disprove the Exodus?
  3. Turning to the second objection about whether such a departure could be organized, we offered #417:  Is the Beginning of the Exodus Account Implausible?
  4. The third objection was that given the number of escaping Israelites the line this would have created would have been too long to outrun Pharaoh’s chariots, to which we offered #418:  Are There Too Many People Escaping in Exodus?
  5. The fourth objection was summarized and answered in #419:  When Escaping in Exodus, Did the Israelites Have Too Much Luggage?
  6. In response to the fifth objection we wrote #420: Were the Hygiene Requirements in Exodus Impossible to Observe?
  7. The sixth objection asked and answered #421: Did Moses Write the Torah?
  8. For the seventh objection, we addressed the issue of anachronisms, and particularly those related to place names, in #422:  Are There Anachronisms in the Torah that Invalidate It?
  9. The absurdity of the eighth objection is displayed in #423:  What Kind of Infrastructure Did the Wandering Israelites Need?

The article’s penultimate objection is “Can the earth ever stop spinning?”  This, of course, references the account of the battle in which we are told that as long as Moses held his hands up, “the sun stood still in the midst of the heavens”.  It is, of course, impossible, which is the point the article makes.

The first objection is that there is no record of such an event anywhere else in the world.  After all, if the earth had stopped turning (the author never considers whether the miracle could have been accomplished some other way) the length of the day would have been increased everywhere, and other cultures would have noticed this.  Yet outside the Bible ancient history is silent on this point.

That’s not exactly true.  In fact, the Chinese, Mayans, Aztecs, and possibly the Egyptians all have mention of an unusually long day in their ancient writings.  The real issue is whether any of these correspond to the date of the biblical battle (or indeed, to each other), which is difficult given our lack of knowledge about placing events on these ancient calendars.  It is certainly peculiar that the Babylonians don’t mention it, but then, they were mostly interested in the night skies, and this reportedly happened during the day in the Middle East.

So maybe there are other records, and maybe not, but records of the past are spotty at best, and we again have the problem of the argument from silence.

From there, the article argues that were the earth abruptly to stop spinning, everything on its surface would have been hurled into the air.  Certainly there is merit to this objection–the rotational velocity of the surface of the earth at the equator is almost a thousand miles per hour.  This, though, is something of a foolish objection.  Let us suppose that indeed God momentarily cancelled all the momentum in the mass of the earth.  What would cause everything to be thrown?  Why, the fact that it, too, has momentum–and if God actually did cancel the momentum of the earth itself, it would have been a terrible oversight for him to have failed to do so for all of those other objects.  Either it was a miracle or it wasn’t, and if it was, it doesn’t need to be limited.

On the other hand, the text does not say that the earth stopped.  It says that the sun stood still–that is, that it appeared to stop moving across the sky–and there are many ways that might happen.

Immanuel Velikovski, early twentieth century scholar, doesn’t get much respect for his theories, but among his interesting proposals is the notion that a near-collision of the earth with another massive object could have pulled us out of our orbit slightly and returned us to it.  Remember, what matters is the visible angle of the sun relative to the ground over the Middle East.  That angle is a function not only of the rotation of the earth but of its revolution around the sun, and the gravitic affect of a significant enough mass at the right angle could have pulled the earth in such a manner that it continued rotating, or possibly slowed slightly, but was drawn away from its orbit such that the angle to the sun was not altered, or was altered more slowly.  Then as the object passed out of range it could have pulled the earth back into orbit and onto its normal course.  It is an incredibly difficult outcome to achieve, but it would be a miracle that does not violate any of the laws of physics as we understand them.

Is that how God did it?  I don’t know.  I only know that it’s a plausible answer.  God being God, it is possible that He froze time for everywhere else in the universe for a few hours so that the battle could be completed in a sort of temporal bubble–we see them all the time in fantasy and science fiction, but certainly the inventor of time could tamper with it if He had reason.  The idea that God “doesn’t break His own rules” has merit, but we don’t know what the rules are or what would constitute “breaking” them, and tampering with the laws of how the universe works–well, it would be like snatching the cue ball off the pool table.  It breaks the rules of the game, but not the rules of reality, and in this case, the rules of reality are outside our knowledge.

So given what we know about God, it is certainly possible that one way or another the sun appeared to hold its position in the sky for an extended period, as the account suggests.  That we don’t know how it was done does not mean it never happened; that we can imagine how it might have been done means that it is not irrational to believe it.