I found this inflorescence at Mom’s garden and immediately struck me because of the odd flower there. Seemed to me like a living illustration of the truth that one should not fear to be different. Anyway, it’s really beautiful. Hope you enjoy it.
I found this inflorescence at Mom’s garden and immediately struck me because of the odd flower there. Seemed to me like a living illustration of the truth that one should not fear to be different. Anyway, it’s really beautiful. Hope you enjoy it.
I hope you all have a very blessed start of the year of our Lord 2016. Again, my hope is that you may be able to celebrate with joy and surrounded of the affection of your loved ones.
2015 was a very blessed year in all respects. I acknowledge that I had many struggles and disappointments, like many others. But God also showed His mercy in all times and, by Him and thanks to Him we were able to overcome.
May 2016 be a year full of success, accomplishments and joy; and also an opportunity to turn back to God and walk again by the path of hope. I leave you with these Bible texts to meditate and act accordingly upon them:
Let us test and examine our ways,
and return to the LORD!
Let us lift up our hearts and hands
to God in heaven:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Happy 2016!! Have a great time!
Yesterday, while I was adding the previous update, I noticed something funny. Like many other Web surfers, I have an ad blocker installed. Well, while updating the blog I saw a tiny number on the ad blocker’s toolbar button.
That was weird. I never had any advertising code inserted on the blog, so I was dumbfounded and completely amiss as of how this could have happened. Worse, there is no feature to see which elements are blocked on Google Chrome, so I couldn’t even see which the offending elements were.
However, I opened Firefox; its ad blocker, thankfully, was quick to supply a list of offending elements. Some of them I was able to track to a plugin and is part of its code (albeit a doubtful one). But other elements came directly from the main site. But, how?? Again, I never inserted any advertising code.
I googled a little bit. It turned out that the culprit was an old link I had to SiteMeter. As you can see in the snippet below, the hat tip goes off to Lindsay. I removed the SiteMeter references, and the two rogue elements were gone.
In sum, SiteMeter was quietly doing some dubious stuff behind my back. If, as a consequence of visiting this site you experienced some random ads or any other suspicious behavior, I am sincerely sorry.
I’m sad for SiteMeter, and the moral is: We have to stay vigilant.
On this day in 1969 in Helsinki, Linus Torvalds was born! Please join us in wishing him a very happy birthday. pic.twitter.com/d0Wyc2zRZV
— The Linux Foundation (@linuxfoundation) December 28, 2015
Linus Torvalds is a rare species: a public benefactor who did it all “just for fun”. Thanks to him, we’re able to run a world-class kernel for Unix-like systems, with unmatched quality and hardware support.
Happy birthday, Linus! Your contribution is greatly appreciated. May you have a great day with your family and loved ones.
This is a great commentary on the sad state of congregational church worship. While I think it doesn’t cover all the causes, what this guy says is spot-on. Recommended.
I hope you have a merry Christmas. My sincere wish is that you all spend these days in God’s presence, with much joy and surrounded of the affection of your loved ones.
Let’s remember in time of celebration and gladness to ponder this profound truth: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory… full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 ESV). The Son of God took human nature as tangible proof of God’s mercy.
May the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ in a manger of Bethlehem may be an occasion to go to Him. Among the fatigues and absurdity of this existence, let’s remember that the way of Jesus is our only confort and consolation, in life and in death.
Merry Christmas! and may God bless you all.
Today, the U.S. celebrates Thanksgiving Day. I think this is a custom I wouldn’t mind to import here in Paraguay. 😉
Have a great day with your loved ones, and don’t forget to pass the gravy!
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.
As fitting to this day, enjoy this beautiful setting of the Old Hundredth arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams:
I just finished updating Windows 10 to the major November update:
The process was long. Very long.
I’m writing this from Edge, the new Microsoft browser that got an update in this new release. It feels good and fast, but definitely needs an ad blocker.
For a detailed rundown of changes in this major update you can see this article at Howtogeek.
I saw this in the Facebook wall of a classmate. While not 100% exact, it is true and, I trust, an interesting read:
Remember that I graduated from Calvin Seminary as a Master of Theology? Well, if that’s the case you might also remember that i majored in Philosophical Theology and my major research paper was on the subject of the doctrine of God of noted Spanish philosopher Zavier Zubiri (1898-1983). There, I argued that based on two of Zubiri’s most representative works —Nature, History, God and Man and God— Zubiri’s view of the God-world relation could be understood as a transcendental panentheism.
I know the subject is so interesting you can’t wait to read the paper 😉 (honestly speaking, it is a very interesting subject despite the technical jargon). And now you can! I am glad to announce that a slightly modified version of my paper has been graciously accepted for publication by Dr. Thomas Fowler of the Xavier Zubiri Foundation of North America and the Editorial Board of The Xavier Zubiri Review and appeared in the latest issue of the journal. You can download the link below:
The Transcendental Panentheism Of Xavier Zubiri In Nature, History, God And Man And God (PDF), The Xavier Zubiri Review, Vol. 13, 2013-2015, pp. 107-132.
Writing this paper was a great experience and I enjoyed it. I hope you can enjoy reading it, too.
Our strength fails, but God never does. We grow weary, but God is never tired. We become discouraged, but God is Sovereign… Not that all things are good or pleasant or easy, but that for those who love God (notice the qualifier) and are called according to his purpose, they will work out for our good, and I dare add, for His glory.
— Jason Franklin, Stepping Forward after Getting Knocked Back… Again, a great devotional that you should read.
Wherefore, in so far as we hope for anything as being possible to us by means of the Divine assistance, our hope attains God Himself, on Whose help it leans. It is therefore evident that hope is a virtue, since it causes a human act to be good and to attain its due rule.
— St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, q17 a1 resp.
Out of the blue, yesterday I felt the impulse to read Aquinas. So I just took the secunda secundae from the shelf and landed on Question 17. Found this little gem I wanted to share with you. Have a great day.
Here are some social media knowledge gems I am sure will be useful to anyone:
When I’m at the computer, a great deal of my writing activity happens not precisely in a word processor (such as MS Word, or LibreOffice Writer), but on a text editor, preparing source code for a document typesetting and preparation system known as LaTeX (Wikipedia entry). This system is easy, powerful and beautiful, allowing me to prepare professional-looking documents with a minimum of effort, way less than with a regular word processor. This advantage is achieved by separating presentation from content; once you got your presentation parameters sorted out, all you have to do is write text. It is also batch-processed: you write text with some markup code in an editor, then you feed the text to a LaTeX processor, which in turn produces readable output (my system produces camera-ready PDF files). An additional advantage of LaTeX —though I have not explored that fully— is that it is cross-platform; LaTeX systems are available for almost any computer system imaginable, since LaTeX is Free Software.
You can write LaTeX in any text editor, because the processor requires a plain text file as input. In Windows, Notepad would be adequate, and any barebones text editor would suffice in any platform. (Or you could use a gorilla such as MS Word or any other word processor, as long as you save your files as plain text, but that would be overkill.) There are document processors that act as a LaTeX frontend and that could be used more or less like “LaTeX graphical word processors”, such as LyX or GNU TeXmacs. They are great, capable tools, but they are also limited; if you want the full power and flexibility of LaTeX, the best approach is to code your document in LaTeX itself. (And besides that, LaTeX is not that difficult. It is actually quite simple to learn.)
The best way to typeset text –to code– in LaTeX is by using a dedicated LaTeX development environment: A special text editor that, in a way that is analogous to IDEs (integrated development environment), provides specialized access to tools, reusable code components, and such. For casual uses it may be too much; but when you’re really into LaTeX typesetting, it could be a lifesaver.
As a Linux desktop user, my graphical environment is KDE, and it has been so almost since the day I began using Linux. For the uninitated, let me explain that KDE is a graphical desktop for Unix-like systems built on top of the Qt graphical library. KDE is great and it is so friendly and powerful that it almost feels like an extension of my brain, staying out of my way and letting me getting my work done. The current stable version is KDE 4.14.1, from the great KDE 4.x series, based on the Qt 4.x graphical library:
KDE folks are now readying a completely new environment based on the Qt 5.x graphical library, which could be loosely known as “KDE 5”. This denomination is inaccurate; in fact KDE released so far Plasma 5.0.x and Frameworks 5.2.x, and the whole world of KDE applications are being ported to Frameworks 5.x as of now. Thanks to the work of Eric Hameleers, one of the Slackware Crew members, I now have the latest and greatest of KDE 5 on my computer: Plasma 5.0.2 and Frameworks 5.2.0. So far, it is behaving itself quite well:
The writing is on the wall, then; the applications I use on my workflow should be in the process of porting to KDE 5 or I risk being cornered with an obsolete version of both desktop and applications. As of now, however, and despite being totally usable, KDE 5 is in a very early stage of development to be useful. In order to make it my default desktop I need at the very least to be able to migrate my PIM workflow, which is highly dependent on KDE4’s aKonadi and there’s no clear upgrade path to KDE 5 yet. So, for me it’s KDE 4.14.1 for the time being.
In this regard, if you think that LaTeX is important in my workflow, you are correct. I code LaTeX with a great KDE application known as Kile (KDE’s Integrated LaTeX Environment). At version 2.1.3, it is a stable, mature and powerful application, perfectly suitable for any major LaTeX editorial project.
Founded by Pascal Brachet in the early KDE 3.x days, maintainership passed over to Jeroen Wijnhout, and then to a team headed by Michel Ludwig. They have all done a great job; and it shows. I wrote several mission-critical texts with it, including my lawyer’s thesis, my Th.M. major research paper, and several published works. Over the time, it proved itself an invaluable asset for my workflow. But there’s a problem.
KDE 5.x is already on the horizon, and Kile does not have an upgrade path to it. Version 2.1.3, while powerful and stable, was released on 2012 and there is no sign of active development on its SourceForge page. It is reasonable then to assume that Kile development was, for all practical purposes, abandoned. Now, for KDE 4.x this statu quo would be fine, since the current version works great and it’s rock-solid. But I had to find somethinhg that would work well with KDE 5 in order to be ready for the future.
I researched alternatives. One was Texmaker, which is developed by Kile’s founder, Pascal Brachet. Version 4.1 was released last August and it is clearly in active development. It is a Qt-only application, cross-platform, and it compiles under Qt5. However, it feels like a very early and limited Kile:
Don’t jump to conclusions, though. Texmaker is a great application, very powerful and well-designed. But it does not adjust itself well to my workflow. So, I had to look for an alternative. After some searching, I found what it seems a good option, Texstudio:
Developed by Benito van der Zander, Jan Sundermeyer, Daniel Braun and Tim Hoffmann, TeXstudio began as a series of patches to Texmaker, with the hope of integrating them upstream; however, it soon became apparent that it would not be possible. So they forked Texmaker, applied their improvements, and began development of a wholly different application. TeXstudio has a strong resemblance to Kile, and it could be made even more similar by applying customizations (such as keyboard shortcuts and menu items). Even better: like Texmaker, it is both cross-platform and could be compiled under Qt 5.x by passing a simple compilation parameter to the build system, so it’s future proof and could be used under KDE 5.x. I began to use it and I find it pleasant to use and a great drop-in replacement to Kile.
Thus, one major roadblock to KDE 5 was sorted out. I may not be able to use Kile, but I can certainly use TeXstudio.
Update – Sep 29: Jure Repinc replied in a comment that Kile is being actively developed after all, and there is also a porting effort to Frameworks 5. Great!
There is a pervasive tendency to ignore our Christian heritage and how Christianity introduced a respect for life and liberty that was completely unknown before the coming of Jesus Christ. In the ancient world, the teachings of Jesus Christ halted infanticide, emancipated women, abolished slavery, inspired the first charities and relief organisations, created hospitals, established orphanages and founded schools. In the medieval times, Christianity built libraries, invented colleges and universities, dignified labour and converted the barbarians. In the modern era, Christian teaching has advanced science, elevated political, social and economic freedom, promoted justice and provided the greatest inspiration for the most magnificent achievements in art, architecture, music and literature.
Christianity has been the most powerful agent in transforming society for the better across 2000 years. No other religion, philosophy, teaching, nation or movement has so changed the world for the better as Christianity has done.
Tim Challies, The Original Olympics
I upgraded WordPress to 4.0. Seems to be a great update. It surely looks inviting.
Some of you may know that I was a graduate student at Calvin Theological Seminary. From 2000 to 2002, I was a student in residence for the Master of Theology degree, in the field of philosophical theology under the supervision of Professor John Cooper.
My time at the Seminary was a great time. John Suk, then director of The Banner, the official periodical of the Christian Reformed Church of North America (the denomination of Calvin Seminary), said: “When I was in seminary I had the time of my life”; and I wholeheartedly concur with that. My time at the Seminary is something filled with joy, and a cherished memory that I hope to never forget.
But it was also a challenge. I simply lacked the habits and proper discipline required of a full-time graduate student. The workload was an enormous undertaking, becoming a full-time student after being a part-time student (as it is the norm in Latin America). To complicate things further, Calvin Seminary had its academic activity organized not in semesters, but in quarters. Any subject had to be taught in a crash course format, and when you thought you were settled on it, it was time to submit the term paper. (Calvin Seminary moved to a semester system afterwards.) Nevertheless I had academic success, but at the price of a lot of emotional and physical effort.
Things got to the point that the only requirement remaining for my graduation was writing a small master’s thesis. Since my field of study was philosophical theology, I wanted to write on the philosophical theology of Spanish philosopher Xavier Zubiri (1898-1983). Concretely, I wanted to do a study of his work to prove that Zubiri was a panentheist on his theology. (Panentheism is a doctrine that maintains that while God and the world are different, they remain ontologically linked to the point that God is in the world and the world is in God. It is usually an offshoot of Neoplatonism. Well known panentheists are Philip Clayton and Jürgen Moltmann.)
But I never got around to write that thesis. I faced several constraints. I had to read all of Zubiri’s relevant work on the subject and there was no single book of Zubiri in the campus library, so I had to request them on inter-library loan. And then, funding from my country all but dried up; while I was in the States, Paraguay had to face one of its worst economic crises. And I was tired and homesick. So, I took the decision to leave and see if I could finish the degree from my country.
When I arrived here, things were very different from two years before. I remember the many “For Sale” signs in front of houses. People were migrating to Spain and Argentina. I was unemployed for seven months and then, the only job I got was as an English teacher in a day school; and teaching youngsters is something very difficult to me. The thing is, writing my thesis was something definitely put in the back burner.
By the grace of God, I slowly began to recover. I got married, some years later I got certified as a translator, and shortly afterwards I entered law school and graduated as a lawyer. One day, while I was finishing the procedures and paperwork for being a registered lawyer in my country (the equivalent to being admitted to the bar), my sister asked me out of the blue: “Why don’t you consider getting your seminary degree now”? And it really seemed a great idea.
I wrote to the seminary. It turned out that my graduation was certainly possible. I had so much credit accumulated that I could graduate with a major research paper instead of with a thesis. Thus I wrote the paper on Zubiri’s transcendental panentheism, the same subject of the original thesis; but this time I restricted the scope to only two representative Zubiri works: Nature, History, God and Man and God. The term paper was accepted (with an A, mind you) by Dr. Cooper, and I got my degree on Commencement Day, May 24, 2014. (I graduated in absentia.)
It was nice to be able to focus once again on philosophical theology, a discipline that I really love. For a number of months I was absorbed in the way only a graduate student knows. Every single available second of my time was devoted to research, reading and writing. That’s one of the reasons I blogged so little this year, despited having the desire to do so. Now you know the reason 😉
So, after 14 years of first setting foot on the Seminary, I was able to finish it. I am so grateful to God, to my family, to my beloved wife, to Calvin Seminary faculty, staff and former classmaates, to friends from the States and here for their support. It was quite a ride!
Nice winter day here. I’m writing a new post, and I hope it to publish it soon.
The last weeks brought a lot of new developments and I plan to share them soon. But now I’d like to report that the Paraguayan evangelical church has shown some change and not for the better. Sadly, Paraguayan Evangelicals of the traditional (perhaps, “mainstream” kind) are slowly turning to aberrant, deviant Charismatic practices.
One of the worst offenders here is the Prosperity Gospel, a heresy that affirms that one of the marks of being in God’s favor is financial wealth. The other is what has been called the New Apostolic Reformation, another heresy that maintains that the offices of apostle and prophet have been restored on this age.
Together, these two heresies have swept our churches with a putrid wave of chamanism and authoritarism, and the new generation of Evangelicals are growing like cult fanatics, totally ignorant of the Bible. It is a sad state of things. The worst part is that leaders are not doing anything to curb this; they rather jump on the bandwagon and take advantage of these heresies as much as they could. I cannot tell for sure, but the two chief driver for this approval by Evangelical leaders may be economic profit and spiritual influence.
Some Facebook posts of mine have been critical of these two cultic errors, and the backslash has been strong. I have been treated as a pariah, a leper, for daring to question these doctrines!
So, this is how the Church is in Paraguay now. Sad, sad state of affairs. But the good news is that there are some churches, a minority, that would have none of this cesspool of cult teachings. Please pray so they can make a strong stand for Christian orthodoxy.
John Calvin on the unity of doctrine and life:
For [the Gospel] is a doctrine not of the tongue but of life. It is not apprehended by the understanding and memory alone, as other disciplines are, but it is received only when it possesses the whole soul, and finds a seat and resting place in the inmost affection of the heart…
We have given the first place to the doctrine in which our religion is contained, since our salvation begins with it. But it must enter our heart and pass into our daily living, and so transform us into itself that it may not be unfruitful for us. The philosophers rightly burn with anger against, and reproachfully drive from their flock, those who when they profess an art that ought to be the mistress of life, turn it into sophistical chatter. With how much better reason, then, shall we detest these trifling Sophists who are content to roll the gospel on the tips of their tongues when its efficacy ought to penetrate the inmost affections of the heart, take its seat in the soul, and affect the whole man a hundred times more deeply than the cold exhortations of the philosophers!
— John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, III:VI,4 (Battles translation).
I seriously need to rethink the content of my sidebar, and especially, of the blogroll. I was enrolled in some old blogrolls that, while useful, are no longer available. Suggestions welcome.
The Lord is risen! I hope everyone has a great Easter.
As a token of celebration, let me share with you this magnificent piece of music: the Ouverture from the Orchestral Suite No. 3, by Johann Sebastian Bach, in one of its best renderings, by Karl Richter. Enjoy!
We are beginning the Holy Week holiday. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are full holidays, and many also worked the previous Wednesday only until noon.
Maundy Thursday is the day where we commemorate Christ’s institution of the Lord’s Supper. Thus, in our country is a day of karu guasu (Guarani: “eat a lot”). Families gather for a noon dinner filled with lots of food. Rural families usually kill one or more of their meat animals: chicken, turkeys, ducks, pigs, lambs, goats, cattle… you name it. They serve the food grilled or cooked in the oven. On the side, several typical Paraguayan delicacies are served. All in all, a typical family and their guests eat a meal that could feed a small army, and with a calorie count more appropriate for the Spitzbergen or Faroe islands ;-).
For my part, I plan to eat normally and spend the day writing and researching. It’s rare today to have a full day available without the hassles, noises and interruptions, so I plan to take advantage of it.
Let’s spend this day in reflection, being thankful for God’s redemptive work in Jesus Christ. And today’s institution reminds us that Christ’s redemptive work applied not only to persons — it built a community that could gather at the table in rememberance of Him.
And even more yet on Noah. This commentary by Brian Godawa is very good.
More on Noah: the movie. Dr. Brian Mattson points some interesting issues that I also suspected. In short, he exposes Noah as an apology of Kabbalistic Gnosticism. Check it out.
Today Noah, the movie, is premiered in Paraguayan cinemas. Very appropriately, Mennonite Brethren pastor Lyndon Unger posted a detailed review article (warning: here be spoilers). Well worth the read. And after what I read, I agree with his evaluation: the movie is not worth watching out. Enjoy.
Some fresh advice from Ed Hurst: Moving from Windows
Some good tips there. I concur with his recommendation on Debian unless you want to be a little bit closer to the bare iron. In that case, the obvious choice is Slackware.
THE EMPEROR CÆSAR FLAVIUS JUSTINIANUS
PIOUS, FORTUNATE, RENOWNED, CONQUERER AND TRIUMPHER, EVER AUGUSTUS,
TO TRIBONIANUS HIS QUÆSTOR:
Governing with the aid of God the Creator our Empire which was delivered to Us by His Heavenly Majesty, we have ended the war successfully, glorified peace and sustained the Republic, and in such a way we lift our spirit to implore the protection of God the Almighty that we do not trust upon arms, nor upon our soldiers, nor upon those who conduct our wars, or upon our own genius, but we place all our hope solely upon the providence of the Most High Trinity, from which are derived the elements of the entire world and their disposition throughout the globe.
— The emperor Justinian, constitution Deo auctore, at the beginning of the Digest, part of the corpus of Roman civil law. This is the English translation of the text that appears on the header photo of this blog.
Leslie Lamport, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, was awarded the 2013 Turing Award of the Association for Computing Machinery, for his contributions to distributed computing. The citation reads:
For fundamental contributions to the theory and practice of distributed and concurrent systems, notably the invention of concepts such as causality and logical clocks, safety and liveness, replicated state machines, and sequential consistency.
Lamport’s contributions are fundamental to today’s distributed infrastructure. Giants such as Google or Amazon, and indeed, anything related to cloud computing, rely heavily on his work.
In my personal case, I owe Lamport (and many folks who built on his contributions) a more direct debt of gratitude. He is the originator of LaTeX, a document preparation system. Thanks to him and many others, I was able to write my lawyer thesis without worrying too much on matters of format. So, from a grateful user: Congratulations Mr. Lamport!
P.S.: This is another theme. Let me know your thoughts on it.