"People feel they understand complex phenomena with far greater precision, coherence, and depth than they really do; they are subject to an illusion—an illusion of explanatory depth."
That's the beginning of a paper by two men from the department of psychology at Yale. Once you take out all the five-dollar words in the article, it boils down to this: people form personal theories about the way the world around them works. Once they have a personal theory, they will practically fight to the death for it in the belief that their feeling is actually insightful understanding about the subject. However, most of us form the skeleton of an understanding which we then convince ourselves is everything we need to know. And we're wrong.
How Arguments Are Usually Conducted
An argument is typically a war of ideas. Two people have conflicting opinions and each of them tries to "win" the war by convincing the other person they're wrong.
Take the Global Warming Debate, for instance. (Actually, since too much evidence has been presented that "warming" isn't happening, I notice this has now become the safer "Climate Change Debate".)
Person One will state, "Look, the entire scientific community has proved this is happening. The ice caps are shrinking. The weather is showing weirder and weirder patterns. Anyone who doesn't believe in Climate Change is just a stupid Republican and they're the reason we're all going to die because no one is doing anything about this problem!"
Person Two says, "Hey, there are plenty of scientists who say climate change is a myth and we've always had weird weather. I mean, hello, haven't you ever heard of the ICE AGE? You wacko liberals just never bother to think for yourselves and that's why you're so stupid and brainwashed!"
Both people use sweeping statements and their own personal theory of life to try to bludgeon the other person into submission. Notice that neither one really knows their subject, though. They are simply repeating things they've heard that go nicely with their own views. Because they have both spent a lot of time listening to other Smart People they agree with make solid-sounding statements, both people think they have a good insightful depth of understanding into the issue of climate change: whether it's real or false, what action should be taken, and who might be opposing them.
Intuitive Theories Make Us Overconfident: We Think We Know What We Don't
These two invented people have an illusion of depth to their views of life and they have never really tested those views for truthfulness.
The truth is they don't really care what the truth is, just what feels good to believe in. They believe in intuition, not truth.
The Yale paper calls this kind of knowledge "intuitive theories". Because we like to go with our gut, we'll accept very weak evidence that supports our theories while overlooking strong evidence that our theories are wrong. The trouble with having intuitive theories is that we then become overconfident that we know what we're talking about when it comes to anything in life, from metaphysics to child-rearing.
"Intuitive or lay theories are thought to influence almost every facet of everyday cognition", the article says. "...it is also now evident that folk theories are rarely complete or exhaustive explanations in a domain. Indeed, even the theories used daily to guide scientific research are now considered to be incomplete, or at least less formally logical than classical views assumed them to be. Science-in-practice is often driven by hunches and vague impressions."
(I've taken out the references and some of the longer sentences because I had to read them three times to try to figure out what was being said.)
One of the very interesting things that their following study showed was that when people were warned that they are going to be tested on their complete understanding of something they felt knowledgeable about (say, how a car works), the illusion of explanatory depth immediately evaporated and the study subjects would then be surprised at how much they didn't know about a subject they thought they were quite familiar with.
Why Is This Important?
This whole paper describes how all of us are able to make such stupid decisions in our lives: because we have a Feeling of Knowing that leads us to overconfidence in what we know and gives us an illusion that we have all the understanding we need. We create skeletons of understanding that once formed are nearly impossible for us to change because that skeleton transforms into fully complete understanding in our minds. We often are no more capable of changing our basic intuitive beliefs than we are of flying like a bird because we don't think there's anything to change.
The trouble is, we need to be able to change our minds if we are shown that something we took for granted to be true might not be.
An argument shouldn't be about which side wins. It should be about both sides testing their skeletal awareness and seeking to find out if what they believe is truthful rather than trying to get the other guy to agree with them. It should be about both sides admitting to themselves that not only do they not know anything, the Smart People they like to listen to don't know much either. None of us does. "Winning" an argument should be about both sides coming to understand a truth, whether either of them started out with it or not.
One of the very important points the Yale researchers made at the very end of their paper was that the reason human beings settle on skeletal knowledge and then expand it in their minds into an illusion of in-depth knowledge is because otherwise our brains would become overloaded by "potentially inexhaustible searches for ever-deeper understanding".
Wait a second.
As believers in a God who created the entire universe, aren't we supposed to be on an inexhaustible search for an ever-deeper understanding of what is true?
Just a thought...
A few weeks ago, I saw a sight I've been waiting since Susannah's birth to see: Abigail recognized Susannah as a person.
People have asked us for the last seven months how Abby is handling being a big sister and we've said, "Fine, as far as we can tell." That was true. But Abby tended to treat Susannah like a novelty toy, maybe like a live doll. She wasn't doing anything bad to Susannah, but she was kind of oblivious to Susannah's personhood.
That's gradually begun changing. During bathtime, Abby began tenderly pouring water over Susannah's hair after I had lathered her up with soap. "Abby wash Baby," she told me. "Abby water Baby hair." Then she began informing me the second Susannah woke from naps. "Baby wake! Baby wake!"
For her part, Susannah adores Abigail. She watches her constantly and smiles if Abigail even glances her way. It was during one of those big adoring smiles that I saw Abigail make eye-contact and smile back, the genuine eye-crinkling grin of recognition. It was the acknowledgement of one person to another. "I see you smiling at me and it makes me happy."
Sixteen months isn't much of an age gap. As long as these two girls live, they are going to remember always being pretty much the same size. Their diapers are nearly interchangeable now and they're having to take turns sitting in the booster seat for meals. They nurse together - often holding hands - and Abby has taken to bringing toys to Susannah saying, "Here Baby, bear for you." With their round cheeks, blue eyes and ashy brown hair, they are looking more alike by the day. Abigail's hair is fluffy and curly while Susannah's is thick and straight, but I can see why we were asked for the first time recently if they were twins. When Susannah starts running around, that year's difference in age is going to close really fast.
When I was growing up, I marked time by the births of my siblings. Every time another one came along, life got better. I've been waiting for months to see that grin of recognition from Abigail because I knew how wonderful having Susannah was going to be for her. Sure, a new baby sister means competition for lots of things Abby got all to herself before, but the trade-offs were definitely going to be worth it.
Welcome to being a big sister, Abby. It's going to be great.
In my last blog, I wrote about the true question the Jerusalem Council was asked to decide: "Is there something physical we have to do to receive Eternal Life...or is it something we believe?
After summing up the agreement of the Council of Elders that salvation comes by faith rather than any physical actions, James proposed an answer to be sent back to the Gentile churches.
In order to understand what was really said to the Gentile churches, it's important to note something about these new converts: they were pagans.
A Jewish Believer who came to faith in Messiah already knew God. He might have extra commands to unlearn, but ultimately he was familiar with who YHVH was and what pleased him. He did not have to start from scratch just learning adultery was bad, for instance. It wasn't wicked for him to continue living in the basic way he'd been brought up.
Most new Gentile Believers were raised in traditions that were wicked to the core. They were used to attending ceremonies at pagan temples where prostitution was a part of worship. They had shrines in their homes where they set out food for the household gods. It was mandatory to publicly worship Caesar. All facets of life - birth, marriage, death, daily life, holidays - were based on beliefs God abhors.
These new believers had to rework pretty much everything in their lives just to get away from serving other gods. If we were to teleport back in time, we'd probably be shocked at what basic things the Gentile Christians had to change. And it wasn't something that could just happen overnight.
The Advice: Focus on the Biggest Problem First
My violin teacher had an interesting way of approaching students who'd learned to play badly: she always picked the thing that would make the biggest difference to work on and left all the other problems alone. It didn't mean all the other problems weren't there - just because she was working on your bow-hold didn't mean your position shifts were fine - but until the bow was fixed she would ignore the other issue.
“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God." - Acts 15:19
James knew the Gentile Believers had a lot to learn about what it meant to live a Godly life. It wasn't wrong for more mature Jewish Believers to be counseling the new converts how to live. What was wrong was expecting them to take on all the commandments, the traditions of the elders and the ceremony of circumcision for them to be saved. It was faith that saved and the life was changed as a result, not the other way around! Expecting them to totally re-work their lives and telling them salvation depended on it was making it difficult for the Gentiles turning to God.
But that didn't mean some changes weren't in order.
“Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” - Acts 15:20-21
Why did James feel it necessary to add that last piece about Moses and his teachings? What was he indicating by that comment?
He's indicating an incredibly important point: he did not tell Gentiles to ignore God's Law. Instead he recognized that the Gentiles were already attending synagogue every Sabbath and learning about what God had told Moses to instruct God's People.
When James says the Gentile Believers should be instructed to abstain from food polluted by idols, from immorality and from the meat of strangled animals, he is not only citing God's Law but the way the Jewish Believers interpreted it!
He was advocating instructing the Gentile believers to first abandon all vestiges of idol worship as God's Law commanded and focus on learning the rest of God's Instructions during weekly Sabbath teachings.
He was focusing on the bow-hold and leaving the shift changes for later.
The Formal Letter
Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers. With them they sent the following letter:
The apostles and elders, your brothers,
To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:
We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.
Are These The Only Things A Christian Must Do To Live A Godly Life?
It is often said that the only command remaining for Christians to follow is one of loving one another. Ironically, this pivotal passage supposedly supporting the idea that there are no more commands for Gentile Christians doesn't mention love at all. It does list a few commands and in this translation (I chose the NIV since it's the most common) it even sounds like these commands are the only things a Christian has to do to live a Godly life.
That interpretation makes no sense.
If these are really the only commands remaining for Gentile Christians, why do we take God's command not to murder seriously?
I read one teacher who said that since the new Law for Christians is Love, than we can murder anyone we want so long as we do it in love. He obviously meant that tongue-in-cheek, to show how ridiculous the idea of murder being fine with God is...but where are the Elders of the Church stating any such thing regarding the "new" law of love here?
If they were really declaring that Gentile Christians are now only bound by a "Law of Love" and the Law of God is useless, you would've expected them to write this letter saying, "Now don't be concerned, dear new believers, you don't have to bother with God's Law. We have a new law now, and as long as you love others as you love yourself you are free from all bondage to Jewish law. Continue on as you were since nothing you do is wicked anymore."
But that isn't what they wrote. They said, "You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality."
Nothing about a new "Law of Love". Nothing about freedom in Christ. In fact, they are referring - in the case of refraining from eating blood - to dietary commandments and ones guarding against the worship of pagan gods. This is obviously not a comprehensive list of what they thought a Christian life should look like. If it were, there would not be 1,000+ other commandments issued in the New Testament. But there are.
Paul Proves the Law is Still Relevant for Gentile Believers
Paul goes on to prove that the Jerusalem Council did not believe in cancelling God's Laws but were merely settling the question of salvation by deed versus faith first and deed after.
When he went about his mission of taking the Council's letter to the Gentile Churches, he met a promising young disciple named Timothy. Before taking him along on the very mission to supposedly proclaim freedom from the Law to all Gentiles, he circumcised Timothy.
1Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. 3Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily. - Acts 16-1-5
Okay, I'm not sure what Luke means here when he says Paul circumcised Timothy "because of the Jews in the area". Clearly Paul had no problem at all debating his Jewish brothers up one side and down the other when it came to circumcision for salvation - that's why he was in Jerusalem at the Council in the first place! Perhaps this was something done for Timothy's sake since Timothy had obviously already taken hold of the New Covenant and was saved. I don't know.
But one thing is glaringly obvious: the letter Paul carried to the churches absolutely could NOT have been announcing that the whole Law was done away with and there was no value for Gentiles in keeping any part of it. It couldn't even be saying circumcision was of no value to a faithful believer. If that's what it said, Paul just went and nullified the whole thing by proclaiming to the world for the past 2,000 years that he still thought it was a good idea for Timothy to undergo circumcision.
Either Paul was a schizophrenic con man trying to fake people into thinking he believed something he didn't, or he knew the letter he carried was not telling the Gentiles to ignore God's Laws.
The truth is, as Paul explained, there is great value in circumcision and keeping God's Law: but those things must come from faith and a redeemed heart to be rightfully done.
"What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God." - Romans 3:1-2
"Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law." - Romans 3:31
"Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not!" - Galatians 3:21
The Jerusalem Council was not making a decision regarding the validity of God's Law. They were making a clear judgement that there was no physical pre-requisite to receiving God's gift of eternal life and the Holy Spirit. It's not what you DO, it's what truth you BELIEVE that gives you life.
Their advice to Gentile Christians came straight from God's Law rather than ignoring it, strengthening the concept that God's Instructions set out the way he wants those who believe in him to live. Rather than saying, "Forget about following God's Laws", they said, "You are forgiven already! Now leave your old ways behind and live a new and God-pleasing life."
And how do we know what kind of life pleases God? By listening to what he himself declared pleases him!
"For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”
The third witness to the validity of God's Instructions is how they were regarded by the first Believers.
When we started trying to interview this witness, we had a whole list of statements to consider. Acts 15 immediately went to the top of the list. This chapter describes a pivotal decision reached by the first Elders of the Church about 20 years after Jesus' death, including what is often thought to be the authorized list of the only commandments Christians are now required to follow.
When Ben and I read this chapter, we were seeking anything contradictory to what our previous two witnesses - God's Unchanging Nature and Jesus the Renewer of the Covenant - had already testified to. We had been given the distinct impression that until Acts, there was no question about whether followers of Jesus should follow the commandments or not. Our previous witnesses had unequivocally stated that God's Instructions were still as firmly in place as the heavens and earth.
But our third witness seemed to be giving confusing testimony. In spite of God saying things like "Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it" (Det. 12:32), or Jesus saying, "I did not come to abolish the Law", the first Apostles seemed to feel completely authorized to select what they should and should not obey. And we did not think Jesus' words to Peter about the keys to the Kingdom and being able to bind or loose really meant Peter and the other Apostles could do away with God's word. That would be destroying the very foundation their faith was built on, since Jesus is the living embodiment of God's Word!
Principle of Testing: Do Not Allow Contradictions To Remain Unchallenged
When you discover an apparent contradiction in a foundational Scripture, it's important to resolve before forming a belief. Otherwise beliefs become based on personal assumption rather than truth and that's a dangerous thing.
In Acts 15 we had an apparent contradiction. God said no one could add or subtract from his Law, Jesus said he didn't come to abolish the Law, but the men he had personally trained and who had become full of God's Spirit were apparently ignoring this.
In order to really think Acts 15 through clearly, we had to first untangle what question the Jerusalem Council was truly considering. Our first step was to challenge the assumption that the debate was about God's Law. What were the earliest Christians really trying to decide in the important meeting known as the Jerusalem Council? Was it the validity of God's Law or something else altogether?
The issue began in Antioch while Paul and Barnabas were visiting and teaching there sometime around 20 years after the resurrection of Jesus.
Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved." This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. - Acts 15:1-2
Today we often call what the Judean believers were teaching "works-based salvation": the belief that there is physical action which must be taken as the requirement to inherit Eternal Life. If that action isn't taken, you can't receive the Holy Spirit and you're not saved.
Some Christians today have this belief about baptism, but that's a whole 'nuther issue.
Paul calls these two opposing philosophies "the Law of Works" and "the Law of Faith" when he outlines this debate in the book of Romans:
Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. - Romans 3:27-31
So far, there are just two ideas in question here:
Number 1 states Gentiles can't receive Eternal Life and the Holy Spirit unless they've been circumcised. Physical actions are the cause of salvation.
Number 2 is the opposing view: the only qualification for receiving Eternal Life and the Holy Spirit is faith in God. Physical actions are the evidence of salvation.
It's absolutely critical to note that both groups believed in keeping God's Law ("Do we then overthrow the Law? By no means!") but differed in the spirit of keeping it. This was not a debate about whether God's Instructions should be followed. It was a debate about what enables a person to receive Eternal Life.
The Jerusalem Council Convenes
So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.
The church [in Antioch] sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.
Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.” - Acts 15:2-5
Popular reading of this passage interprets the debate to be about two new topics now:
Number 1: Gentile believers need to keep God's Law and all the traditions of the Elders to be real Christians.
Number 2: No, the Law is too burdensome and difficult to be followed and the Gentiles only need to have faith in God. A believer is not to physically do anything to please God.
But Did The Debate Really Change?
After reading this quite a few times, we can't agree with this popular reading. The debate didn't change midway through the Council. It was still about the same question it started with: do we receive Eternal Life and the Holy Spirit by something we DO or something we BELIEVE?
The Christian Pharisees simply expanded what they thought needed to be done in order to receive Eternal Life. They agreed with the men of Judea and therefore took the works-bring-salvation position in the debate.
They also clarified that not only should a Christian be keeping God's Instructions, but they should also be following the Traditions of the Elders - this is indicated by the fact that God nowhere states in his Instructions dictated to Moses that circumcision of adults is a pre-requisite to being part of his people. He only talks about the circumcision of baby boys as a sign of faith by their parents. When the Christian Pharisees listed the circumcision requirement separate from God's Law, it was an acknowledgement that they knew it wasn't something God commanded. However, they felt the tradition of the Elders was strong enough and important enough that the new believers ought to be obeying it as well as God's Instructions.
So even after the statement by the Christian Pharisees, this debate didn't change directions. It didn't become centered around the validity of God's Instructions but stayed focused on what qualified a person to receive Eternal Life and the Holy Spirit.
The question before the first church Elders was still an argument between the two mindsets: "You need to keep these rules to be given Eternal Life" versus "God gives Eternal Life as a gift to those who have faith in him."
The Turning Point
After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” - Acts 15:7-11
No one else's words and arguments are quoted from this debate except Peter's. James later sums up and concludes the debate's results, but this is clearly a turning point where the Christian Pharisees began abandoning their previous argument.
In common interpretation, we are usually told that the "yoke" Peter referred to here is the Law of God. This presents a problem, because God himself says that the simple keeping of his commands is not difficult and Jesus - the incarnation of the Unchanging God - says his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. - Det 30:11-14
"Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:29-30
Peter notes correctly that no one has ever been able to attain Eternal Life and the Holy Spirit except by God's grace through faith. However, if God also states that the keeping of his Law given through Moses is easy, Peter can't contradict God and say it's impossible so Gentiles shouldn't even bother! That would be subtracting from the words of God and would therefore make Peter a false prophet who should have been stoned if that was really what he was saying.
Think about the consequences here. If Peter was really advocating abandoning the Instructions God himself spoke, he would be the prophet God said this about:
"If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him." - Det 13:1-4
Peter is obviously not a false prophet...but if the yoke he was talking about in this verse was really God's Instructions and he was saying they were too heavy to follow, we should be ignoring him today as a test to our faithfulness to God.
There is something else going on here. The yoke he was referring to had to relate to the question being considered, which was laid out in the first verse when it was stated the men from Judea were teaching, "Unless you're circumcised, you can't be saved."
If the original subject is remembered, the definition of Peter's statement becomes obvious: the "yoke" is the network of additional interpretations and commands that had been added to God's Law by men who then considered those commands as equally - or even more - important to those God had given. God did not command circumcision of adults in his Law and he certainly didn't require it of Cornelius before pouring out his Holy Spirit on him. This was conclusive evidence that the Antioch debate was settled, but Paul and Barnabas immediately stood up and began citing miraculous evidence of the Holy Spirit among the Gentile converts to support Peter's statement.
This meant that three witnesses spoke on behalf of the matter of salvation through faith alone: Peter, Paul and Barnabas.
When Peter, Paul and Barnabas finished speaking, Jesus' deeply-respected brother James brought out a fourth witness: God's Words written in Amos 9:11-12.
When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:
“ ‘After this I will return
and rebuild David’s fallen tent.
Its ruins I will rebuild,
and I will restore it,
that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
even all the Gentiles who bear my name,
says the Lord, who does these things’ --
things known from long ago.
This was clear support for Peter, who was speaking on behalf of the believers who stated that Eternal Life comes through faith and obedience to God's Law comes afterward through that same faith.
There were only two positions in this debate and one of them was clearly silenced. There was no way keeping the Law would be able to give a person Eternal Life and instill the Holy Spirit in him: that was a gift only God could grant and he only granted it to those who had faith in him.
But what does Amos mean when he says God will rebuild David's fallen tent so all Gentiles who bear God's Name will seek the Lord? Next up: How the Jerusalem Council instructed Gentile Believers to go about seeking to live a Godly life once their salvation had been established by faith and God's favor.
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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