40 Questions Answered to The Gospel Coalition Rainbow Flag List, 1-5

Recently The Gospel Coalition posted an article asking self-proclaimed Evangelicals to answer 40 questions that challenge their reasoning, in light of the recent favoritism being shown toward the non-traditional marriage ruling by the US Supreme Court:

If you consider yourself a Bible-believing Christian, a follower of Jesus whose chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, there are important questions I hope you will consider before picking up your flag and cheering on the sexual revolution. These questions aren’t meant to be snarky or merely rhetorical. They are sincere, if pointed, questions that I hope will cause my brothers and sisters with the new rainbow themed avatars to slow down and think about the flag you’re flying.

(for the purposes of brevity I’ll used “non-1/1″ to represent what might otherwise be described as varieties of marriage that are not 1-man/1-woman)

These are my answers to those questions, broken up into sections: 1-5 (below); and to be linked when created: 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25, 26-30, 31-35, 36-40.

1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?

I would say for probably 10 years or more (now age 37), but a specific set of years not known in particular.

2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?

You seem to imply that my mind had once been one way and is now the other. I think for the most part I had been either undecided or merely silent on the issue, without taking a particular position on it, per se. In my youth as someone brought up in the church I may have held the 1/1 marriage rule, but I whad not make a knowledgeable, salvation-related prayer until appx age 21. I was baptized at age 8 and answered ‘yes’ to all of the ‘do you believe …’ questions, but in retrospect I do not believe I was cognizant of what was being asked. I don’t think that the opinion I held at that age would even scarcely be credible.

In my teens I had a rebellious period where I became highly critical of the sham-seeming nature of my limited exposure to the varieties of religion but still attended because of family attendance. In college at a large out-of-town conference (Passion ’99) I was confronted by a college minister and asked several machete-sharp questions that cut thru the overgrown vines of rationale about my position with Christ — from the angle as if I were not a Christian, rather than from the angle of being one. He quickly identified the rationale that was blocking it, and I had a kind of epitome-experience where everything I’d learned in church, but had never really connected, came together. We prayed together about it, I had a weird experience involving developing (or being gifted) a kind of weird non-emotional awareness-sense that is difficult to explain exactly.

Part of my discipleship involved coming to the realization that my earlier intensely-critical ‘rebellion’ was an entirely plausible function of the body of Christ. If describing the body of the church as Christ’s in the figurative sense (as in the left hand and right hand being parts for instance), the body also contains an immune system that offers what might appear to be the body attacking itself, but is actually doing what the college minister’s role did for me — used machete-sharp questions to cut through the vines of rationale to get to the foreign splinter-object lodged within in order to remove it, so that healing can begin.

(a) 1 John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Essentially, “put every attitude, every notion, every real-seeming rationale to the test, even if it seems like it would be in your favor.” Challenge it earnestly, and be willing to momentarily and easily suspend knee-jerk disbelief in order that the challenge can be investigated with due diligence without being superficially cast aside as if it clearly conflicted with x y or z verse, because there may yet be another verse that put those other 3 in perspective in the spirit that scripture clarifies itself.

There are a lot of traditionally-held Christian positions that I do not share, for that reason. The bible’s inerrancy is not even something the bible itself claims. The bible is certainly canonical in the sense that arguments to be made against it need to endure analysis against all of the rest of it in bulk, rather than proposing specific verses that merely offer appearance of conflict, superficially. A lot of Christians seem to mix the idea of the Word being the bible, but scripture pretty clearly suggests the Word is Christ, not the bible.

The bible is a man-governed body of text that is the best possible piece of journalism we have about observations made in that era, from the people of that era. It is very important in that regard, but is not the Word. Jesus is the Word. Jesus is not the bible. The bible is not the Word. I’m not really sure how the Word could have possibly be interpreted as the bible without some kind of other splinter-rationale being lodged in that tries to justify it. Claiming the bible is the Word is pushing into idolatry territory, by deifying a man-made object. The bible is no less important and pivotal, but is not itself deity, and is not the Word.

If you believe that it is impossible for a person to hold this belief and still be a Christian, I would refer you to the book of Galatians where Paul rails against the people there for trying to propose a Jesus+tenet=Christian theology. Jesus alone is our unifying variable, and no other. There is no other banner but Christ that unites us. If you believe there is any one other tenet that unites us, you are in stark defiance of Galatians, in a legalism sense.

Making the inerrancy claim seems more like a more generalized half-truth version of the canonical nature of scripture. An analogous example would be that the claim, “Coruscant is a water world,” could be disproven by examining what is canonical in the Star Wars universe, despite Star Wars being a fictional universe. Fiction being fiction from the start, and that Coruscant is not even an actual world in terms of reality, within the canon of Star Wars, claims against canon and still be proven or disproven in that context.

(b) John 19:10-11, “So Pilate said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” in light of (c) “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” (Romans 13:7)

Pilate is a very important figure to me as someone who pursues actual truth with due diligence, who investigated the ruling priests claims in front of them and still found no fault. He spoke to Jesus directly and found no fault, rather than taking others’ claims as evidence. The rationale that Jesus offers Pilate above, against which Pilate can offer no counterclaim. The authority for such things (and proper timing) to occur in our era is no less from the same authority. Jesus even bothers to negotiate even within the canonical nature of Pilate’s law system to identify his innocence.

Paul proposes obedience to the laws of the nation of which we are indwelt, and if that nation decides that a man may marry a man, or that a woman may marry a woman, we ourselves may abstain from doing so, none the lesser. Paul and Christ both propose the authority of the world governments are chess pieces that YHWH alone places, so to attempt to defy them is fraught with folly in the legalism sense.

(d) “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ They will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 28:28-31, confronting gathered masses come to weep for Christ just prior to crucifixion).

If you are in agony about a Supreme Court ruling whilst living in a society immensely-blessed, with what energy will you have to wail of your plight when those blessings are removed?

3. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated?

What you seem to be asking is open-ended, rather than earnest. If I were to ask you, “At what time last night did you stop beating your wife,” then the only answer you could give me according to the nature of the question is a time, not that you didn’t beat your wife (or not that you stopped). You seem to be making far too many assumptions, I think. Consider this exchange:

“Why does Bill always get so many doughnuts? There are 10 people in this office, and he always gets 4 or more from the dozen in the break room.”
“Bill buys the doughnuts for the office, out of pocket; the doughnuts are his. What is left over is him sharing his own.”

Your question seems to operate with several positions that are not, themselves, even substantiated by truth to begin with.

What is being celebrated is not the openness of man and man to engage in sexual activity freely — that has been legalized by the US government for decades if not more. Marriage itself is not the authorization to do so, either. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you can now freely go rob banks, either.

Current Judaism teaching on marriage suggests, “Marriage is not solely, or even primarily, for the purpose of procreation. Traditional sources recognize that companionship, love and intimacy are the primary purposes of marriage, noting that woman was created in Gen. 2:18 because “it is not good for man to be alone,” rather than because she was necessary for procreation.” and that a marriage can be sealed “in three ways: through money, a contract, and sexual intercourse. Ordinarily, all three of these conditions are satisfied, although only one is necessary to effect a binding marriage.”

There is no word-for-word prohibition of man marrying man or woman-marrying-woman, but strictly a prohibition that man not lie with man as would with woman, and even that is merely implication of sex rather than specifically stating it. It is perfectly within the OT legal code for a man to marry a many or a woman to marry a woman. The specific prohibition is the sex part only, and one can be married and not have ever engaged in such activity.

Do youngsters who are ‘married to Christ’ as a purity pledge mean, therefore, that those children engage in lascivious activity with Jesus? Certainly not. Why then, must you insist that marriage automatically means the squishing of nether-bits together? Are you, in fact, accusing others of something with which you personally struggle, rather than investigating case-by-case as to whether those particular others do also?

You might attempt to rationalize that NT verses on marriage create a situation in which those within a marriage are to offer themselves freely in a sexual way to one another — for the purposes of avoiding sexual immorality. If males penetrating males is sexual immorality — would that not logically exempt male-male/etc marriages from that the free-offering requirement? You seem to be getting really close to saying that marriage is exclusively for the purpose of abstaining from sexual immorality and no other reason. What if both people are entirely abstinent and have no desire to do such things? Your refusal to believe that such a couple could even possibly be entirely abstinent reveals the limitations of your own imagination, and would suggest to me that you have frankly not met enough people to know any better. If you did learn of one, would you still reject them?

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

My delight is YHWH, via the reconciliation facilitated by the righteousness of Christ. While I may delight in blessings here and blessing there, the blessings are not the foundation of my delight. While I may sing Happy Birthday to someone, the molecular breakdown, so to speak, of the source of my delight is the relationship I have with YHWH through Christ’s merit on my behalf, not the anniversary about which I sing.

I slap the hand of the person that would suggest impurity to that which God has made clean. Romans 8 (as well as Peter’s meat-vision in Acts) makes it pretty clear that the 613 are no longer potent — not just for the matters of legalizing non-circumcision and bacon consumption. They’re relevant in the fact that they are important to know the impossibility of having been able to keep the whole law and for knowing that guilt of one law is guilt of the whole law by which the need for a reconciliation by Christ is made apparent, but to continuously attempt to re-apply those laws as if they were still potent is the simultaneous process of disqualifying Christ’s righteousness as sufficiently potent to cover it.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:2)

There it is, in plain writing. YOU ARE FREE FROM THE LAWS OF SIN AND DEATH. If you believe yourself not free from the laws of sin and death, then you must not have the Spirit. Plain as day. Romans 8:1 — There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. How can a law apply if there is no condemnation behind it? Because it doesn’t apply. Your pursuit against gay marriage should instead be in pursuit of helping to reconcile YHWH with all persons irrespective of position.

“For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.” (Romans 8:5-7)

Repent from the tallying of sin and be free from it. Since you are in the Spirit and not in the flesh, as you claim anyway, why are your thoughts so bent toward the legalism position? I am bending mine momentarily that direction for your sake, as becoming a Greek to the Greek in Paul’s figurative sense.

Consider also the analogy to the adulterous woman in Romans 7:

“For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.” (Romans 7:2-3)

Man/Woman element aside (momentarily), if Gertrude sleeps with William, but Gertrude is married to Fredrick, then Gertrude is an adulteress. If Fredrick has died, then Gertrude sleeping with William is legal.

This is a situation in which the IDENTICAL ACT in one sense illegal, but in another sense legitimized. Paul uses this situation to reflect upon how the 613 are applicable only when the laws of sin and death apply, but after putting to death the flesh and being alive in the Spirit, which you now claim to be, then the IDENTICAL ACT is now not met with condemnation. In order for Gertrude’s sleepover with Fredrick to be considered adultery, Fredrick would have to be resurrected specifically for the purpose of making the accusation. What you are doing by claiming that the 613 have application to those in the Spirit is effectively de-resurrecting Christ, illegitimizing his righteousness on your behalf just so that you can claim it has application to the current situation.

To claim that the 613 have application is to subvert Christ’s righteousness.

4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church?

I cite the entire book of the minor prophet Hosea. Hosea’s relationship with his wife Gomer (a harlot) is one such example. Hosea was instructed by YHWH to marry a harlot and have harlot offspring. He even named his children what translate to “no kin of mine” and “unloved” because they were offspring of another man, since Gomer repeatedly slept with other men while married to him — yet, however, Hosea’s love for Gomer did not end, despite the overwhelmingly obvious presence of what would otherwise be considered sin. The love of Hosea to his incessantly transgressive wife is a scriptural depiction of marriage, reflective of love for one another, even if obedience is one-sided.

5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?

I think Jesus would have shown the most amount of love toward them and speak to them in terms of salvation from the law, considering that when he was present he stayed in the houses of and broke bread with tax collectors, prostitutes, and others that the society of the time believed to be among the lowest. I believe the topic may have come up in conversation but not dwelled upon, because salvation is way more important.

The woman at the well in John 4 is one example. The woman had numerous husbands, and Christ identified even the man she was with now was not her husband, but he didn’t get side-tracked by it, because which particular of the 613 that is the one of the whole law you have broken is irrelevant. Your need for salvation is what is important. When he spoke with her, he mentioned it, but didn’t dwell on it. He instead directed the conversation toward a common aspect among them: the water the well offered, or the water Christ offered. From the whole exchange, the fact that the woman asked for the unceasing water is what matters, not the adultery. In verse 28-30 of the same chapter, the woman goes into the city and tells of the Messiah she met, and many go out to meet him.

It is readily apparent to anyone who reads the bible without intentions of seeking the fleshly desires of law or methods to contradict matters of policy, that YHWH regularly and routinely employs even the most overlooked, downtrodden, and otherwise sneered-upon persons as that which the greatest amount of fruit can be accomplished. The widely beloved King David was an adulterer against his own high-ranked military commander under him, but also wrote many of the Psalms. The writer of most of the highly-esteemed proverbs, Solomon, had arguably ~1000 wives, who led him astray to worship other gods. Peter, upon whom the church was built, as it were, denied Christ repeatedly. Paul, who was called Saul, persecuted Christians and had his own thorn to contend with..

Who Should Replace Sandi Toksvig On BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz?

I’m an American.. Texan, specifically. I’ve been listening to BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz for 12 seasons now and Sandi Toksvig’s voice has become a staple in my household. Her voice has become a comfort (whenever the bizarrely-spaced “season” scheduling allows it to air, that is). I’ve been thru the News Quiz panto performed in season 76, endured countless quickly-rattled rants by Jeremy Hardy, heard more than enough about Susan Calman’s cat antics..

After hearing Sandi’s final episode (found here, if still available for listening), and googling who might replace her, I found this Telegraph article listing a few proposed hosts to replace her, so these are my votes from that list.

I’m aware I probably have no real say in the matter. I listen to quite a bit of Radio 4’s “comedy club” shows, for about as long as News Quiz. I make every effort to hear each episode of The Unbelievable Truth, Dilemma, I’ve Never Seen Star Wars, Heresy, the Museum of Curiosity, So Wrong It’s Right, Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, Wordaholics, and recently the new Holly Walsh show Best Behavior (which is fantastic). I really like all of the permutations of Milton Jones (Another Case, and Thanks A Lot) but most of them seem to be repeats.

Jeremy Clarkson – No way. He might be a decent guest host on occasion, but under no circumstances would I vote for this guy. I’ve seen maybe 2 episodes of Top Gear and frankly have zero concern for whatever BBC producer tumult he caused.. but the guy’s voice and way of speaking in general does not even vaguely approach comedic to me.

Jeremy Paxman / Emily Maitlis / Michael Deacon / Rory Brenner / Armando Iannucci / Paul Merton – No idea who these are. I just simply can’t comment on them. I’m sure if I heard their voices I might recognize them, but I don’t think I can credible vote for any of them being so unfamiliar.

Jeremy Hardy – He would be okay as a host, but I think he makes a really great regular panelist, and I think the gap he’d leave from no longer being a member of the panel would not be justified in moving to the desk. I really like his lengthy rants that leaves everyone agiggle, especially by making outlandish comparisons. He’s a little like how David Mitchell would get a kind of “upset by smiling about it” on comedy TV shows like 8 Out of 10 Cats, except the rants are seemingly less impromptu and more frequent but no less delightful.

Susan Calman – Oh please please no. Her regional accent isn’t a bother, but just certain ASMR-like elements of her voice are on the cusp of super annoying, but still within the range of tolerable enough to legitimize her remaining as an less-frequent-than-Hardy regular panelist. And really, please, enough with the cat stories. It’ll be the Cat Quiz soon enough and everyone will be reading clippings from cat fashion industry news from around the world before long.

Jack Dee – Oh my goodness yes please. Huge fan of Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, with its delightful writing thereof that introduces the panelists in passive dark humor and silly way of speaking. The Telegraph article mentions having his ‘hands full’ already with SIHAC but how much writing does News Quiz really require? The topics involved are for the week of airing, not for the news that happened between seasons.

Jo Brand – Jo is a good contender I think. I like her style of blunt humor from her appearances on other TV panel shows like QI, and I think she may have actually subbed for Sandi once if I recall. She has a slower way of speaking than Sandi, but a level amount of snark I think.

David Mitchell – My delight at any opportunity to hear David speak, for any reason, is nearly limitless — but I don’t think I’d rather him host the News Quiz. I think he’d do a great job at it, but I don’t want the chance for anything else he currently does to be sacrificed in order to pursue News Quiz. If he could still do what he does now and do the News Quiz, I’d extend my vote to him in that circumstance.

Sue Perkins – I really like Sue Perkins, both in super-prettiness and for commanding vocal humor. Sue Perkins to me has a very similar carrying-of-voice as Sandi does, and I think would be a very even match with Sandi’s style as far as my ears can tell.

Marcus Brigstocke – Marcus seems a little too prim-and-proper to be a News Quiz host. His humor is great, and I would like to hear him as a host for a different show aside from I’ve Never Seen Star Wars. I get a vibe of ‘trustworthy’ from him, moreso in a sense if he were a

Sarah Millican – Arguably my favorite female British comic, possibly tied with Sue Perkins. Not sure she’d make a great host, but certainly a delight to listen to as a panelist (and should be invited for more panel shows)..

Others I really like and would nominate: Victoria Coren Mitchell, Clive Anderson, John Lloyd, Bill Bailey, Phill Jupitus, Rhod Gilbert, John Bishop, Jason Manford, Rachel Riley..

Others I really like but would not nominate: Robert Webb, Henning Wehn, Jon Richardson, Milton Jones, Hugh Dennis, Frank Skinner, Nicholas Parsons, Sean Lock, Dave Gorman, Jimmy Carr, Barry Cryer, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, Stephen Fry, Rob Brydon, Alan Davies, Michael McIntyre, Frankie Boyle, Russell Howard, David Walliams, Ross Noble, Chris Addison, Kevin Bridges, Dave Gorman, Andy Parsons, Mark Watson, Rufus Hound, Jack Whitehall, Lee Mack, Miranda Hart..

When or What Day is TaeNy Day? It’s the 27th of Every Month. Here’s Why.

The 27th of every month is TaeNy Day, a commemoration of the ‘ship’ between SNSD members Taeyeon and Tiffany.

When SNSD first debuted in July 2007, each member was announced one day at a time with a teaser image officially confirming their inclusion into the 9-girl K-pop group. Yoona’s teaser image was released on July 6, making her the first confirmed member.

The next day, Tiffany’s teaser image was released, making her the second confirmed member. In following days each of the 9 members were announced, and Taeyeon was announced seventh. TaeNy day on the 27th, therefore, corresponds to the “debut numbers” of 2 and 7 for Tiffany and Taeyeon.

‘Shipping’ is a fantasy/dream relationship of any variety (best friends, romantic, etc) about 2+ people, fictional and real people alike. To ‘ship’ is to have a joy for the idea that such a relationship exists, and ‘shippers’ are those who follow along with others who ship them, and find interesting coincidences that seem to confirm the ship. Similarly, “OTP” for One True Pairing, can describe the ship that one most fondly adores, from among multiple ships.

The following image celebrating TaeNy Day is by artist Luz Arce Matias from Peru, who currently publishes all of her official artwork releases (including lots of SNSD-related) on instagram here:

Did Spray Sunblock Cause 3rd Degree Burns to A Child? Doubtful.

I recently encountered a Facebook post of a concerned parent, advising against the use of suntan sprays:

(post in question)

I am not a medical doctor but there are a couple red flags with this story that lead me to call shenanigans, which discussion on this Snopes message board post reiterates in line with my thinking:

1. It seems like the kid would have had to have been wearing a motorcycle helmet, a cummerbund, ladies’ evening gloves, and long pants with no shirt while playing outside in order to not get burned on the areas not covered by bandages, and have no other burns elsewhere than the t-shirt area the Ace bandage covers. That, or he did actually get good coverage while wearing a shirt but then took the shirt off without covering the areas the shirt covered.

2. If the parents re-applied every 30 minutes-1hr, would they not have noticed increasingly incredible and extensive burns on his body, and prevented it from getting up to even 2nd degree?

3. Third-degree burns are “full thickness” burns down to the muscle or bone tissue that sometimes require plastic surgery or IV fluids according to several medical sources (U.Rochester, U.Maryland, Boston Children’s). Don’t bother looking it up on Google images unless you have a strong stomach — none of those wounds seem like they could be so easily concealed by an Ace bandage as shown in the photograph, much less would allow for the kid to walk around without being in an ICU. I wonder if the woman means “first degree” burns which are at the other end of the spectrum and are typical for sunburns.

4. “When you have to listen to your child scream in pain from them pulling his skin off is the most painful thing to see an experience!” Odds are doctors are not going to need to peel off skin from a third-degree burn, but rather complete skin grafts (under general anesthetic), extensive cosmetic surgery, physical rehabilitation, possibly lifelong assisted care and counseling (reference). You’re not going to walk out the door the same day you went in.

Why Did the Dictionary Change The Rules For “Literally” and “Marriage”?

In 2013, a number of dictionaries altered the entry for “marriage” to include same-sex relationships, as well as altering the entry for “literally” to also include “figurative” meanings.

“Why do dictionaries keep changing the rules? Who can I write to, to express my distaste for their blatant political pressure-bowing?” you might ask.

Well, you can write a letter to yourself, because you have no idea what you’re talking about.

You might currently believe that dictionaries are playbooks by which the rules of English are plainly listed, neatly, and in official proper forms that all other English users must abide by in order to remain within the correct usage. You might believe that dictionaries describe the limited options available to those who wish to use a word, so that when trying to use it properly, users can consult the dictionary for the official ways to spell, pronounce, or the narrow contexts that are permitted for that word to be used.

If the above paragraph describes you and you are not bound by a specific employer/class-mandated style, then your understanding of dictionaries is utterly backwards, and the dictionaries themselves are precisely the sources by which your false philosophies will be thoroughly unraveled.

The stray dog leapt over the fence.

The = dog quantifier, fence quantifier
stray = type of dog
dog = something which leapt over the fence
leapt = something the dog did in relation to the fence
over = technique of leaping employed by the dog
fence = something the dog leapt over

The above is a sentence in bold, followed by a dictionary which makes observations about the sentence. The scope of the dictionary is limited specifically to the sentence, not observations of English itself. The dictionary does not limit the ways in which the sentence is permitted to use the words, but rather observes the pre-existing sentence and offers proposals of what the individual words of the sentence could mean, as interpreted by context.

A dictionary is, at its fundamental core, precisely the above scenario — except observing all of the types of observable content produced by the ordinary common word users. Dictionary researches called Lexicographers examine loads and loads of observable word usage from newspapers, websites, magazines, TV scripts, Facebook, Twitter, novels, video games, and other such forms, to observe how those words are used. Those observations go into a tallying system called a Corpus. The corpus is then analyzed for the greatest number of repeated ways (“often enough”) people have been observed to use words. The words with the highest frequencies of usage, and the ways in which those words are used most frequently, are included in the dictionary.

If the threshold for the stray dog dictionary above were arbitrarily limited to only the most frequent words as most dictionaries are, and since “the” is the only word to appear more than once, “the” might be the only entry in it — and perhaps less useful as a dictionary. Dictionary producers rely on frequency as the primary meter for what is included or excluded, and do so at a threshold in which not every observed usage is listed, but enough usages are listed enough to be helpful to the common reader.

That said, consider a dictionary to be an assistant who summarizes observations of the multitudes of text in existence to provide insight about what a user of a word similar to it might have meant, rather than the ways in which the user of the word failed to conform to the dictionary’s non-existent standards. Word usage outside of a specific style are therefore not correct or incorrect, but merely typical or atypical. The dictionary does not validate a word’s existence, but merely observes when a word’s usage has breached a threshold of “common enough” usage to be included.

Dictionaries are therefore outside of the political spectrum. The entry for “marriage” was altered to include same-sex relationships in the same way that the exclusively different-sex relationship definition found its place there before. “Marriage” was used by the largest numbers of people to describe both different-sex and same-sex relationships but recently has been observed within those same masses that previously established the entry’s former status. Haven’t you ever wondered why the definitions are numbered, and why in that order? Because one has been observed more frequently than the next. The final definition is the lowest frequency of observed usage that still meets the threshold of “often enough” to be included.

The alteration of the entry for “literally” to include “figurative” meanings is the identical method by which “literally” itself even had been understood to mean “actual” circumstances to begin with.

Consider the following scenario:

“Why does Bill always take so many doughnuts from the breakroom table?”
“What do you mean?”
“Whenever we get doughnuts, Bill always takes a bunch of them and the rest of us don’t get many to pick from.”
“Bill buys the doughnuts himself. They are his. He’s sharing the extras.”

The fact that a word appears in a dictionary at all, is by the identical process in which alterations are made to the entries in a dictionary in the first place. To suggest that a word or way to use a word be disallowed into a dictionary for a political reason or otherwise, itself, demonstrates a grossly erroneous understanding of dictionaries in the first place. Bill gets as many doughnuts as he wants because he bought them, and they are his to take. The very fact that any of the other employees had doughnuts at all was because Bill bought them. The fact that a dictionary even had the current “standard” you maintain must be obeyed, is precisely because of being reflective of the widest observed usages.

Prescriptivism does have its place within styles, but like how baseball rules do not govern Sports in general, styles do not govern English. The way certain people use words might be governed, such as by those in the medical or legal fields. Those styles do not govern English itself, but rather specifically those bound by those styles. I have a degree in English and journalism. During my studies, I was tasked with in a severity of pass or fail, in the limited ways in which I was permitted to write a paper, in conflicting ways depending on which class. In journalism classes, we obeyed the rules of the Associated Press Stylebook. In English and literature classes, we obeyed the rules of Strunk & White’s Manual of Style. Each class was bound by its own unique set of styles, but neither of them mandated that English itself was governed by any style at all — because there is no evidence to support such a conclusion.

There is no such cabal of experts that pre-ordain the limited ways in which words are permitted to be used in English — but people who create or maintain specific codified styles do. A dictionary may be used as a playbook for the enforcement of a style by those bound by the style, but that is not the actual role of a dictionary. Similarly, if you are taking a class on how to play the spoons as a percussive musical instrument, the lessons learned thereof apply to the musical techniques as graded by the class rather than to the genuine manufacturer’s purpose of spoons.

If you are playing Scrabble, you may opt to employ a specific dictionary as a limited word bank from which you may draw playable tile configurations, and add that proper names, places, abbreviations or “foreign” words are also ineligible for playable moves. If you work for the Associated Press, you have an AP Style Manual to draw from for ways in which you must phrase or otherwise use words in materials you publish under AP’s banner (and if you don’t, your editor will correct them on your behalf and your job may be in danger). If you are in a class, you are bound by the limitations of the specific style prescribed by the classroom. None of these are bound by any rules of English because English is entirely ungoverned with the exception of styles.

English itself has no rules. Dictionaries do not prescribe rules by which users of English must abide. People who insist that dictionaries are the official or only acceptable tome of law by which all users of English without specifying which style by which they are mutually governed, are like a person who gazes into a mirror and when seeing a large zit on their forehead, become upset with the mirror.

Another way that a dictionary is like a newspaper, is that newspapers do not ordain or codify the way a murder must take place, but rather describe how a murder in the past is believed to have transpired. If a basketball match results in a score of 77-112 between two teams, the newspaper does not mandate that all future matches between those teams must result in that score — they merely describe observations of a past event whereas future similar events will also be reported in future editions as the opportunity to observe changes.

A dictionary is also like a hash-tag search on Twitter. If you visit Twitter and search for hashtag #catchgg, you will be presented with a list of ways in which other people have used #catchgg, not a list of the limited ways in which you are only permitted to use #catchgg. In the dictionaries’ case, every word is a hashtag as long as it meets the threshold of observed usage frequency. When you compose a tweet using #catchgg in it, your tweet will go into the body of evidence that the hashtag search on Twitter will bring back for results. A dictionary is reflective of the commoner’s actual usage, rather than a proposed, limited, or restrictive usage. A *style* may propose a limited usage within a set that ensures minimal confusion, but selection of that style is arbitrarily decided by the employer of that style and is limited to those who the style chooser is able to enforce (such as employees of a specific company). There is a medical style, legal style, scientific notation style, MLA style for literary citations, Strunk & White which many American classrooms abide by, and several other styles by which specific those within its reach are bound, but English on the whole, at-large, in general, is not constricted by style or rules.

It may be your personal philosophy to use only words that the general audience would find most readily understood with a minimum of clarifying questions, but that is merely a personal philosophy or strategy — but no single philosophy or strategy governs English usage. The lauded poet ee cummings would be hauled out into the street and beaten for as inefficient and atypical his poetry arrives to the reader, if prescriptivism were the law of the land.

You should perhaps take note that the US has no official language — because English is not governed. Those who propose the US should insist that English be the official language are typically those who believe that English itself is somehow governed — but it isn’t. No dictionary encompasses all of English — only the body of evidence that its own researchers encounter. It would be impossible to impose English as a governed entity without citing a specific playbook by which eligible usage may be scrutinized.

Think about it. A four-year university degree in English is described as a Bachelor of Arts. It is impossible to objectively grade art. If you are taking a class on how to draw, the class might be graded on techniques learned in the class, but does not govern the multitude of other styles of drawing the class didn’t cover. Just because you learned one way to draw in a drawing class, and were graded on how well you could replicate those techniques, you are not therefore a legal expert in what does or does not constitute drawing, nor even for that set of techniques. Your proficiency has application within that class, or within an employment scenario (for instance) by which those techniques are limited in availability for use. Likewise, the way you learned English does not constitute the rules of English.

Hopefully you are now on your way to becoming someone who is stepping in line with the facts as a descriptivist, rather than your former evidenceless prescriptivist roots.

Further Reading:
A student asks a former Oxford English Dictionary researcher about how words get approved by experts to enter a dictionary, but receives a different answer than was bargained for, in “How Words Enter The Language” by Michael Quinion, who is/was a New Words columnist for the Daily Telegraph and penned a third of the entries for Oxford Dictionary of New Words.

The editors of Merriam-Webster tackle the question directly with their article, “How does a word get into a Merriam-Webster dictionary?” noting that the words in their pages speak with “authority without authoritarianism” to clarify.

The current staff of the Oxford English Dictionary, by way of Oxford Press, reiterate Michael Quinion’s experience above with their own entry, “How a new word enters an Oxford dictionary,” virtually mirroring Merriam-Webster’s input.

“Sweet Cakes By Melissa” Case Timeline

After catching word of it just now, I thought I would make a kind of time-line about the posts the Facebook page Sweet Cakes By Melissa has made that related specifically to their court case (whereas there are numerous posts in between with baked-goods photos). This is just a list, not an editorial comment about them. All of the information below is, or was, already publicly available as of April 25, 2015. (Parenthetical remarks) are by me, just as observations.

17 August, 2013
“Thank you everyone so much for your words of encouragement and support. Thank you so much for all the wonderful cards as well. We really appreciate it a lot!”

25 August, 2013
“Thank you again everyone for your up lifting words, and encouragement! It is much appreciated.”
(comments seem centered on right to deny service)

6 September, 2013
“I wanted to let everyone know. If you have seen the facebook page where we supposedly went on a racist rant. I want everyone to know that was not us. Someone created a fake facebook page and used the picture of me and aaron off our website. We have friends of different races and we do not HATE anyone, including gays. There is also a story from the willamette week. That story is false as well.”

19 September, 2013
Just an update for you all. Still waiting for BOLI to respond. Will update as soon as we hear from them.
(BOLI refers to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, with whom a same-sex female couple filed a complaint against the bakery according to an article in Decision Magazine, March 2014, cited further down)

8 November, 2013
“Thanksgiving is coming and it reminds me of all the things I am thankful for. I just wanted to let all of you know how thankful I am for you, and the support you have shown. Thank you so much!”

11 November, 2013
“Update: We received a letter Saturday from BOLI stating that the partner of the original complainant has now also filed a complaint. Claiming she was discriminated against even though she didn’t set foot in our shop. It will be interesting to see what BOLI will say.”

28 December, 2013
“I’ve always found it interesting that the ones who do this kind of thing maybe aren’t thinking of the word’s definition. Especially the intolerant part…..I personally don’t have any problem with others who disagree with me. Everyone has their own opinion. I don’t understand why people can’t disagree and still be kind and loving to one another. Seems pretty simple to me.
One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.”
(posted photo of someone who had finger-written “bigot” into dust on back windshield of company car)

17 January, 2013
“To all of you that have been praying for Aaron and I, I want to say thank you. I know that your prayers are being heard. I feel such a peace with all of this that is going on. Even though there are days that are hard and times of struggle we still feel that the Lord is in this. It is His fight and our situation is in His hands. We received papers from BOLI yesterday and they have made their decision that we have apparently discriminated. From what we have gathered we now have to wait to find out what the fines will be within 60 days. I can’t say much more but will update when I’m able to. Please continue to pray for our family. God is great, amazing and all powerful. I know He has a plan =)”

30 May, 2014
“Does anyone have an extra March issue of Decision Magazine that we can have? We were suppose to get one but they ran out =(”
(comments suggest this is how some people learned of the story, and here is the digital version of that issue, page 5 story titled “Bakery Under Fire”)

16 September, 2014
“Update: October 7th we have a court date. The hearing could possibly last all week. For everyone that has been praying for our family. Please continue to lift us up in prayer and thank you for your continued prayers! We know this is in the Lord’s hands and whatever the outcome God is still in control! God bless”

3 February, 2015
“Even though it seems as if we are being thrown into the Lions den. We will continue to stand for the Lord, our faith will not waiver. We fully trust in our heavenly father. He is able to deliver us from this, but even if He doesn’t we are not going to compromise on God’s truth in order to appease man.”

7 February, 2015
“There are many stories out right now and most of them are false. We want everyone to know we have not been fined yet. March 10th is our court date to find out if we will be fined and how much. Thank you to all that are wanting to help. We really appreciate it. God bless.”

9 March, 2015
“Tomorrow is our court date, and will continue through the entire week. We know the Lord is in this and we put all our trust in him. To all that have been praying, please pray for us and our lawyers as we go into this. Please be praying for the complainants as well. God bless you all”

18 March, 2015
“Update: today was the last day in court. The judge heard closing arguments, and informed us that it could be at least thirty days before the final decision. Regardless the outcome we will stay true to our faith. All Americans should be free to live out their faith at home and in the work place without fear that they will be punished by the government.”

24 April, 2015
“We just found out that the judge has made his decision, he is ordering that we pay $135,000 in emotional damages. This money will not come from the business, but instead would have to be paid from money that should be going to pay for food and housing for us and our 5 children. Brad Avakian has not had his final word on it and it may be increased. This amount will financially ruin us. Our government was put in place to protect the people not to punish people because of their faith. We have had many people ask to help, someone kindly set up a go fund me for us. Thank you to all who are willing to fight for religious freedom. God bless”
(linked to a now-unfound gofundme page)

25 April, 2015
“The gofundme account that was set up to help our family was shut down by the administrators of gofundme because they claimed it was raising money for an illegal purpose. We have told gofundme that the money is simply going to be used to help our family, and there is no legitimate breach of their terms and conditions. We are working to get the account reinstated.
However, in the mean time, if you would like to donate, you can do so here: (link)
For all of you who gave to the gofundme account before it was shut down, we so appreciate your love and generosity. Gofundme has told us that we will still receive those funds.”

(additional posts to be amended here, but check their page Sweet Cakes By Melissa for the direct source.)

Robert Downey Jr Goes Down In Flames In Channel 4 Interview

Robert Downey Jr, thinking he was being interviewed to promote his upcoming Avengers film, was interviewed by a famous UK journalist named Krishnan Guru-Murthy but RDJ promptly walked out after the subject of the interview dwelt on RDJ’s personal life instead of the film.

A lot of people seem to be blaming Krishnan Guru-Murthy for asking much to personal of questions, but really, that’s how Channel 4 content works. Interviews, especially by Krishnan Guru-Murthy, are with people who star or direct or sing, or whatever, in something recent, but are not being interviewed to promote the content they’re associated with — they’re being interviewed to investigate what makes them who they are as people, as individuals.

In the interview with Quentin Tarantino, QT gets pretty upset when the realization comes to QT that the interview is not actually a promotion of a film. However, the whole point of being interviewed by Krishnan Guru-Murthy is specifically to avoid talking about the promoted topic. QT even says himself that, gesturing in reference to the interview, that “this is a commercial for the movie, make no mistake.”

However, Krishnan Guru-Murthy interviews are not, by nature commercials for the movie. It is an interview about who QT is and what his internal struggles or motivations are. That’s how a Krishnan Guru-Murthy interview on Channel 4 works. Channel 4 isn’t allowed to promote content like that in the first place.

If you’re being interviewed on a food network, you’re going to get asked about food. If you’re being interviewed on a show about motorcycles, the topic of conversation will likely center on motorcycling. If you’re being interviewed by Krishnan Guru-Murthy on Channel 4, you’re going to get asked personal questions about your identity and by nature, the interview will split away from whatever you star in or are currently trying to promote.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy himself is already fairly widely known for straying from the topic of promoting a star’s or author’s intention to promote something, and to address controversy.

When Pharrell Williams, who at the time was promoting Blurred Lines, Krishnan Guru-Murthy focused on a perceived interpretation of controversial lyrics and PH’s motiviations as a person, rather than trying to promote the music.

When he interviewed Samuel L. Jackson, he asked about who his characters are compared to who he is as a person on a deeper philosophical level.

When Krishnan Guru-Murthy interviews Richard Ayoade, who is one of the stars of the British (original) version of The Office, who is promoting a book he wrote, the questions turn toward RA himself rather than the book. During the interview itself comes the realization that the interview itself is about him and not the book, and RA catches on and engages Krishnan Guru-Murthy in the process.

RDJ, however, runs away. He should have known, in the first place, that the interview would be about himself instead of the movie.

“Are we promoting a movie or something?”

No, RDJ, Channel 4 interviews, especially conducted by Krishnan Guru-Murthy, are not, and haven’t been. You go to Krishnan Guru-Murthy to be asked those questions but RDJ’s assistants or own personal investigation into who is interviewing him ran up short on that detail.