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Friday, September 28, 2007

Forgive Us Our Trespasses

People who follow BC know that Susan and I have spent the last month
at my mother-in-law's home in Natick, Massachusetts a relatively
affluent suburb of Boston. This location, while not as ideal as
Cambridge or Boston itself has its charms. Most importantly, This
house in Natick is relatively close to the Riverside and Woodland
Green Line T stops. Thus, if I couldn't get a ride into town, I could
have someone drop me off at one of these stations so X-Celerator and I
could ride into the city.

I doubt any of my mother-in-law's neighbors read Blind Confidential as
none are blind and, frankly, BC isn't all that popular. Just in case,
though, I would like to express my thanks to the people in this
neighborhood for providing so many Wi Fi networks without encryption
turned on. For the past month, I have freeloaded on some of the
neighborhood networks every day. I didn't do anything even remotely
destructive and only "stole" a bit of bandwidth so I feel no guilt for
my trespass.

One of my favorite Christian phrases comes from the Lord's Prayer,
"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those against us…" In this
simile, the word "as" can have two different meanings. One can expand
the "as" to mean "at the same time" which, if read with precision
would mean that we who recite the prayer would ask the Lord to wait
until we forgave everyone who had trespassed against us before
providing us with absolution.

The second possible definition for the "as" would expand it to mean,
"in the same way." Following this logic, those who recite the Lord's
Prayer ask God to remove our sins in the same manner we have forgiven
those who have harmed us.

This famous simile, with the "as" defined in either of its possible
meanings and, when removed from the religious framework in which it
stands, becomes a truly radical statement. Can George W. Bush, who,
as a fundamentalist Christian (meaning he accepts the entire Bible as
it was written) possibly recite this phrase or the entire Lord's
Prayer without hypocrisy?

Consider that the US "forgave" the September 11 terrorists by bombing
and later invading Afghanistan and, later, Iraq who had nothing to do
with the tragic events in 2001. Hence, President Bush, when reciting
the Lord's Prayer, has either requested that God forgive our
trespasses when we finally get around to forgiving the terrorists or
has asked God to forgive us "in the same way we forgave said
perpetrators" and, by inference, has asked for our country to receive
a series of bombings far more severe than those on 911 that would kill
more than 1 million innocent civilians as we have done in Afghanistan
and Iraq.

Perhaps my Christian theology is incomplete and the New Testament
contains exceptions to the forgiveness clause in the Lord's Prayer. I
have read about a half dozen different translations of the new
testament ranging from KJB to the Ebonics version published a few
years ago and didn't see such an easy way out of forgiveness but,
alas, it may appear in a translation I've yet to read. Or, perhaps,
the exception comes in the event of one telling God that they have
forgiven the terrorists but will bomb the innocent civilians who live
near them just to make sure that we don't have to forgive them again.
While such a rationalization may work in some twisted interpretation
of the simile I quote above, I can't really see a guy like Jesus, with
all of the references to forgiveness in his words, accepting such an
argument.

A while back, I wrote an article for BC that asked the question,
"Where Do the Old Gods Go When People Stop Believing in Them?" The
more I study the new testament of the Bible, the more I feel that
Jesus can join the ranks of forgotten gods as, while his name is
tossed around like confetti at a bowl game, his message seems to fade
further into obscurity every year.

I think this is very sad.

Afterward

In yesterday's post, I included the phrase, "much more of a problem
than Capcha." I agree with Darrell's comment that, today, the
inaccessible visual verification items that seem to pop up in new
places is far more a problem than the 3D web as the 3D virtual
environments remain fairly few and easy to avoid. In the future,
though, if a trend toward 3D web sites continues, people who need to
access the Internet through non-visual interfaces will not need to
care if they can get past the Turing tests as, even if they do, the
site they have just entered may be 100% inaccessible due to lack of
foresight on the part of those who design, develop and sell access
technology.

I'd like to thank Joe and the Anonymous poster who provided links to a
pair of articles about accessibility and the 3D web. I read both and
recommend that BC readers do so as well.

We're starting our drive south on Sunday. Anyone who lives near I95
in any state south of Connecticut who might like to get together for a
lunch or coffee or something should send me a private email.

-- End

3 Comments:

Blogger jm33 said...

"In the future,
though, if a trend toward 3D web sites continues, people who need to
access the Internet through non-visual interfaces will not need to
care if they can get past the Turing tests as, even if they do, the
site they have just entered may be 100% inaccessible due to lack of
foresight on the part of those who design, develop and sell access
technology."

This seems to be a huge part of the problem that is seemingly being absolutely ignored by most of those that have the responsibility of stepping up to the plate. Today the problem is web 2.0 which companies like Freedom Scientific and GWMicro are seemingly completely ignoring or brushing off their responsibility on those that do not have the knowledge of the problem, nor the resources and understanding to fix it on their own. It is a meet-you-half-way proposition and our AT companies are screwing us out of any service in this area. Yesterday I listened to the FSCast on JAWS 9. WHile some of what they have done is going to be useful to a degree, it feels like a slap in the face that we desperately need increased access to emerging technologies and they are selling new f**king dialog boxes to adjust existing synthesizer options instead! It's a nice feature, but it's like a "cupholder" when you need a better "engine!" Being able to retain formatting while copying from the virtual buffer will be useful, but for how much longer when anything we would want populate our virtual buffer with in the first place is inaccessible? Why are they taking time to write scripts for the mobile access center, which script writers out there being paid for their services should be contributing when we need time and resources to be spent on increasing our access to applecations that mean the difference between employment or not? I believe it's because it is much cheaper and more profitable to make these little adjustments and then galge the government for millions of dollars in return to buy it for their clients. This kind of crap will only be able to continue for so long before accessibility is gone from anything current and catching up will be far too large of a task at that point as no research has been done as to how to do so.

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Richard Wells said...

Hi BC,

Your "in the same way..." interpretation of Jesus' model prayer is closer to the contextual meaning. The way we know this is by the two verses that immediately follow this familiar passage in (Matthew 6:9-13.)

Your assertion that Jesus the Christ is quickly becoming one of the forgotten Gods is sadly closer to being correct than most Christians would be willing to admit. As a pastor, I hold myself accountable to live, then teach and preach... (in that order,) authentic concepts under the leadership of the Holy Spirit and by exegeting the original Hebrew and Greek texts before explaining, illustrating and applying them for my congregation.

And now for anyone who is still reading this, here is Jesus' model prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) followed by verses 14-15 to further illumine the context. The Bible quoted here is the New Living Translation:

9 "Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored. 10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. 11 Give us our food for today, 12 and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. 13 And don't let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." (Now for our verses of context:) 14 "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins."

Chris, Thanks for a wonderful, entertaining and informative blog!

8:03 PM  
Blogger Matt Campbell said...

Jesus' teaching about forgiveness certainly is radical and challenging. In addition to the passage you quoted from the model prayer, he spoke about forgiveness at length elsewhere in the Gospels; he also commanded us to love our enemies and do good to those who mistreat us. Some argue that God allows for the unfortunate necessity of war, as he did in the Old Testament. However, the U.S. certainly does not have the same special relationship with God that Israel does. Therefore, it seems to me that Jesus' commands to forgive, love our enemies, and be peacemakers should take precedence over the Old Testament accounts of war.

About two years ago, Christian singer-songwriter Derek Webb recorded an album called Mockingbird which was inspired by these and other teachings of Jesus. A few highlights:

From "My Enemies Are Men Like Me":

Peace by way of war
is like purity by way of fornication;
it's like telling someone murder is wrong
and then showing them by way of execution?

From "Love is Not Against the Law":

Are we defending life
when we just pick and choose
lives acceptable to lose
and which ones to defend?

Highly recommended listening.

Anyway, keep the thought-provoking posts coming!

4:08 PM  

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