Author Archives: verbus_admin

Making it easier

To all my friends that had trouble commenting:

I had the blog set to require moderation of comments, but since I am so lazy it meant that your comments weren’t posting until I got around to it. I activated a plug-in that should prevent spam so if it works, there won;t be any restrictions. If I have problems with spam, I may have to tighten things up a little, but I’ll let you know before I do.

 

And thanks for all the response to my last post. More will follow. I have a biopsy tomorrow which will give us a better idea of what we’re dealing with. Pray for Charlotte. She’s having a tough time.

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Tempus

My initial consult with Dr. Steven Chang at Henry Ford Hospital was very thorough and opened my eyes to how difficult my case is and how many different approaches could be taken in resolving it. Everything is at once risky and beneficial, and choosing a treatment strategy involves a pretty daunting set of permutations.

The options break down into three major classes, well known to anyone who has ever approached cancer treatment.

Surgery

The tumor is deep in the base of the tongue, just to the right of the midline. It has not involved any bone and does not appear to have metastasized. However, due to my narrow mouth opening (trismus) Dr. Chang did not feel that he could properly visualize and clear the margins robotically via the mouth. His only choice would be excision from under the chin, possibly involving a separation of the mandible, followed by flap reconstruction (from thigh or calf) to replace the missing tongue tissue. Due to the amount of tissue lost and the pre-existing damage to the left side of my neck, there would not be enough structure intact to support the larynx, so a laryngectomy (removal of the voice box) and a tracheostomy would be indicated.

At first I was a bit aghast at this, but he explained that it would be advantageous even if there were no cancer involved. First, it would actually improve my speech since I am operating on one vocal cord now and am breathy and unable to complete sentences in one breath. Many patients do quite well on laryngeal prostheses and he would expect a good outcome in my case. Secondly, it would completely separate my breathing from my esophagus thereby eliminating the possibility of aspiration pneumonia, a primary cause of death for people in my condition. (It almost got me once already.) Thirdly, and most exciting, I would recover some swallowing and be able to get off the feeding tube. This would be a major improvement in the quality of my life. He even advised that I might consider having this done even if we don’t do cancer surgery. I contacted Dr. Peter Belafsky at UC Davis with whom I had been working on the Swallow Expansion Device, and asked for his opinion if the procedure for its own sake. His reply: “Yes. I agree that laryngectomy is a very reasonable option and the one I would choose for myself.” That was quite an unexpected endorsement so, we may be looking at that as a separate issue at a later date if we don’t do the resection of the tumor.

Chemotherapy

Conventional chemo might be an option. But I am being evaluated for a clinical trial for what is termed “targeted therapy.” Here’s a really good fact sheet explaining it. My “Nurse Navigator” at Henry Ford Health Services (HFHS) is currently arranging to have my tissue biopsy sent for testing at Tempus, the primary company developing this treatment modality. If all goes well, I may be enrolled in a clinical trial or, if I qualify, for one of the treatments already approved by the FDA. This is no sure thing, Not every cancer is treatable this way, but we are hoping. This form of treatment is much less debilitating than conventional chemotherapy but does have side effects and risks, Still, I am eagerly hoping that I am a candidate. If this turns out to be the case, we would try this first with surgery as a fall-back plan.

Radiation

I will be seen by a radiation oncologist at my next set of appointments. There is already significant damege to my neck from the first cancer, so radiation may not be an option. That wouldn’t break my heart.

So I am now scheduled to return to Detroit in a couple of weeks to go over the Tempus results and be seen by both the medical and radiation oncologists. I am also scheduled on Monday to see Dr. Ho-Sheng Lin, chairman of the Otolaryngology Department at Wayne State University School of Medicine/Karmanos Cancer Institute. We hope to have additional light shed on our situation.

I am probably happier than I should be, but I feel that I have that “peace that passes all understanding.” My faith is strong and I know God is in the midst of it all. Thanks for all the prayers and support from all my friends. I literally could not make it without the love I have been shown.

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Did Jesus lie about the Flood?

Noah's FloodOur friends at christiannews.net posted this article regarding Ken Ham’s assertion  that Jesus’and the Apostles’ references to Noah and the Flood constitute proof of the literal interpretation of the Flood story in Genesis. His point is that, if the Flood is a myth, then so is the Gospel. My understanding of this reasoning is based on the assumption that Jesus of Nazareth, being entirely God, was therefore omniscient and would be lying if the Flood story weren’t literally true.

Ken Ham sets up a dichotomy but there are at least four reasonable postulates regarding His references:

  1. He was omniscient and spoke of a true literal Flood.
  2. He was omniscient and spoke of a literal Flood when He knew that it was only a story, in which case He lied and the Gospel is a myth.
  3. He was not omniscient and spoke of the Flood as any other Jew of the time might understand it, as being literally true.
  4. He was not omniscient spoke of the Flood as any other Jew of the time might understand it, as being a story.

Postulates one and two are Ham’s dichotomy and are entirely predicated on the assumption that Jesus, being God, was omniscient. But there is evidence in Scripture that Jesus Himself may not in fact have been omniscient which thus allows for postulates three and four.

We focus on Jesus’ divinity but don’t always see the correlate, namely God’s carnality. If Jesus was tempted “like us in all ways, except for sin,” He clearly shared our carnal nature, although untainted by original sin.

Furthermore

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Phillipians 2:6-8 (NIV) [emphasis mine]

So it is altogether plausible that, although Jesus was entirely God and entirely man simultaneously, he might not have possessed all the attributes of divinity by virtue of of His incarnation. It seems to me apparent that Jesus did not comprehend His full nature from infancy, that awareness of His being the Messiah came to him in stages. Yet He was God from His very conception, so there had to have been times when He was not omniscient. Similarly, although He possessed the power of prophecy (as no man ever had) yet the prophetic office does not imply omniscience per se. Even at the last, during His agony in the garden fully aware of the death He would likely soon suffer, nevertheless prayed

… Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
Mark 14:36 [KJV]

Knowing that God the Father had spared Isaac, perhaps (and this is only speculation) He might have wondered if the Father would likewise spare His own Son. He clearly speaks as having His own will apart from the Father. In any case, it is clear that there was at least a sliver of uncertainty regarding the Father’s will, and a sliver is all it takes to render moot the question of omniscience.

So having established that God incarnate might not be all-knowing, we can allow the possibility that Jesus may have been referencing the “time of Noah” and the Flood according to the prevailing understanding of devout Jews of that time. Whether they saw it as literal or metaphorical is not a question with a direct answer. But it really makes no difference. It still obviates the necessity for a literal Flood.

Let me take pains to affirm that Mr. Ham’s reasoning is not in itself wrong except as it fails to take into account a fuller range of possibilities. My greater concern is that, in setting up a literal Flood as a litmus test for being a Christian, he may be turning some away from a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ who might otherwise have been saved if not for such rigidity.

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I thought “vain repetitions” only referred to Rosaries

Report: Average Christian Spends 37% Of Prayer Time Saying Word ‘Just’

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Orlando and the human heart

You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.  – Rahm Emanuel

I have refrained from posting anything on Facebook regarding the Orlando massacre (and it justly deserves that name.) Most of it is either treacle or polemic, neither very enlightening. But I quote Mr. Emanuel for a reason. It seems that even before our nation has started to process the immensity of this act, the narrative has been seized upon as a platform to push various political agendas. I refuse to address any of them directly, but a short, incomplete list will suffice to give you the flavor:

  • LGBT
  • Gun control
  • Gun rights
  • Islamic barbarism
  • Islam, religion of peace
  • Border security
  • Anti-Trump
  • Anti-Obama

The real issue, and one that never occurs to the zealot, is that the human heart is inherently wicked. Many will nod in agreement, meanwhile believing their own hearts to be pure. This is the sin of pride, and a grave one it is. The moment we lose sight of our own fallen state, we cut ourselves off from the grace of God. Those who are well have no need of a physician.

C. S. Lewis spoke of it as “enmity to God.” There is an excerpt from Mere Christianity called “The Great Sin” and is worth reading. I could easily embed the entire thing but you can read it here. I will, however, quote it in part.

In God you come up against something that is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that – and, therefore, know your-self as nothing in comparison – you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.

The quandary we find ourselves in is beyond challenging. Jesus said to love your enemies and He placed no limit on that definition. I confess that I continue to be filled with self-righteous rage every time I see images of 9/11. And I seek them out deliberately to arouse those feelings. I want to hate, and hate strongly. This is pride. This is the spirit of antichrist. And it was against that spirit that Jesus directed His angriest comments. It was the spirit of the Pharisees. We are no different, and painful as it is to say, it is Christians who often display this in the greatest measure.

What, then can we do? I think first of all, admit to ourselves that our anger is more a reflection of our pride than a justified response to inhuman brutality. It is only by accidents of birth and the power of the Holy Spirit that we do not do such things. Secondly, I think we need to earnestly confess this to God and, if you are Catholic, to humbly partake of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, what used to be called Confession. Most importantly, we should pray not only for those who suffered death and injury and for their families, but for the perpetrators as well. Their hearts are not beyond the reach of God’s healing Spirit and our intersession on their behalf is powerful and effective.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.- James 5:16
Having said all this, let me emphasize that I am nowhere near this degree of humility. I can see the way, but I despair of having the power to follow it. I only pray that God will impart to me by His grace the means to move forward.

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The day of consolidation has come.

For the last several years I have been blogging at friday600.blogspot.com. This was intended to carry on the tradition of an AA Big Book study started in Rochester Hills, Michigan back in the 90s. Since starting Verbus, I have decided that all that content could certainly find a home here and make this blog all the better for it.

I also had another blog called bbcatholics.blogspot.com intended to bring Catholic and Evangelicals into polite discussions. That content has be imported as well.

So welcome to the new improved Verbus. Please feel free to use the search feature to locate old posts you want to revisit, or to look up posts that may have some bearing on a subject that interests you. As time permits I will also be going back and adding category tags to old posts to make it easier to search by subject matter.

And please, please sign up as a subscriber and comment on the posts. I want to create a space for lively dialog on whatever topic interests my readers.

I have decided to keep on blogging, even if I find myself speaking to an empty auditorium. At least I’m keeping a journal now.

Hope to hear from you all.

 

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This is my prayer as I begin this day

Lord, there is more to do today than I can possibly accomplish. I don’t believe that You spun the Earth too fast, so grant me the grace to do only those things You expect of me so that, when the day is over, I will know that I got everything done.

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Opening thoughts, quirks and admonitions

So here I am again, firing up another blog. It can be said that one only fails when one stops trying. I’m still trying so I guess I’m not yet a failed “bloggist.” My other blogging experiences were frustrating. One was ignored (not uncommon) and the other was well-liked and read regularly. But I never received any comments. If I wanted to record my thoughts in a vacuum I could just have as easily done my writing in Word. But I want and need comments. So I depend on you who read this to contribute something, even if it’s just a brief note of approval/disapproval.

This particular blog grew out of the very pleasant exchanges I had over two years with my two speech therapists. I spent an hour twice a week hooked up to an electrical machine that still allowed me to talk. Very dangerous. Not the machine, of course. The part about allowing me to talk. And talk we did on a wide range of subjects. I know very, very little about many, many things and I am always keen on having an audience on which to demonstrate that. So our topics behaved like a non-linear system (which was, ironically, one of the topics), chaotic yet pleasantly so. We were usually around the areas of religion and spiritual development, science and math, and on rare occasions, politics as long as we agreed (which we did).

I assume that my two friends will be joining me here and hope that at least a few people will join us. Since the blog is private you won’t be able to find it by Googling it. Therefore I will need some word-of-mouth to add to our numbers. If you enjoy participating, invite your friends. Heck, invite your enemies. Sometimes they make some good points.

My friends are beginning a study of the book of John which is something about which I can say a few things . I don’t intend to do a detailed commentary. There are plenty out there to suit whatever hermeneutical inclinations you might have. I intend only to offer my limited understanding of Scripture in the hope that some light might arise both for me and my commentators.

I make no bones about my religious beliefs. I am Roman Catholic, a convert from a bible-believing Evangelical world. So I do know the book pretty well. I have no interest in converting anyone, and I’m willing to air all points of view. I won’t, however, allow this to become a debating society where more heat than light is generated. So feel free to strongly express your opinions. I will respect them, as I hope you will respect mine.

And so, as they say, on with the show. New post to follow soon.

 

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