March 27, 2014

  • Book Review of Susan Schreiner’s “Where Shall Wisdom be Found?”

    Susan E. Schreiner, Where Shall Wisdom be Found? : Calvin’s Exegesis of Job from Medieval and Modern Perspectives, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press), 1994, 274 pp, EISBN: 978-0226740430. Not available in Kindle or Logos formats; $57.00

    In the beginning, I was disappointed in this work. When Schreiner identified Job as a myth and a legend, I knew this would be a liberal take on the Book of Job. Schreiner identified three target audiences: 1) Calvin scholars, 2) history of exegesis scholars, and 3) the audience with questions about suffering and perception in modernity. She went on to say that Calvin wrote for the laypersons of his church (pg. 6), in the context of the upheaval of his times, as a window into the changes of his times.

    However, Schreiner never examined the changes Calvin faced (refugees, personal illness, controversy), and which he helped to bring about in his church, in the church catholic, and in society in general.  She used the bulk of the 190 pages of her book’s text (258 with Notes) to examine anything but Calvin’s response to the societal changes of his time, or his part in bringing those changes about. Since the Sermons on Job were published near the end of Calvin’s life, this was not because of a lack of materials. She wrote: “this book is a study in intellectual history” (pg. 8). But on the next page she wrote “The critical point is that the present study is not concerned with questions of influence” (pg. 9; her emphasis).

    She did recognize that Calvin saw the book of Job as a historical work, i.e. Calvin thought of Job as existing in space and time at some period of the past, the events were historical.  “Calvin expounded the literal sense of the text and believed that ‘literally’ the Book of Job is about the doctrine of providence” (pg. 9; her scare quote). Interestingly, she did not take the same position on Gregory, Maimonides, or Aquinas.

    Schreiner used a post-modern hermeneutic throughout her work:

    In recent years the relationship between reader and text has been dissected and found to be enormously ambiguous. The discussion had usually focused in the act of interpretation that takes place when a commentator studies a text.  In the history of exegesis this relationship is doubly problematic because in this field we confront two hermeneutical levels: I am interpreting texts that are themselves interpretations of the Book of Job. We are, then, imbedded in the question of interpretation, and the hermeneutical turn in the human sciences has important implications for the reading of past commentaries.

    Novik has shown that the impact of literary criticism on the field of history has been to undermine any remaining allegiance to the ideal of objectivity. The attempt to find fixed or determinative meanings in texts has been eroded by the hermeneutical or linguistic critique of the text, the author, and the reader. In all three instances, the result has been the abandonment of the search for authorial intention (pg. 10).

    Schreiner thus announced her hermeneutic position of post-modern nihilism with no intention of trying to understand what Calvin, or any of her other sources, meant when they wrote on the Book of Job. The abandonment of authorial intention was not fully realized until the last page of her text. In the mean time, she was forced, as all deconstructionist readers are, to find meaning in the writing of the authors in order to have anything to say about their writings. The irony of deconstructionism is that writers in that genre do not believe their own doctrine, calling on their readers to believe the meaning of the words they write explain how we cannot know what other (historical) writers meant and intended. Nor are they able to personally live within that doctrine. For example, tell tenured professors that their tenure is worthless because meaning cannot be found in that term, or that the amount in their bank account cannot be determined because the text of the account eclipses both parties and the digits make their own meaning in the mind of the reader. Deconstruction is a self defeating argument, leading inevitably to a nihilist position.  Rather than this being a Gordian knot to be cut with a sword, it is a vacuous position which should be bypassed and ignored to learn from Dr. Schreiner. Nihilism is a zero sum game, and Schreiner has nothing to offer her readers by adopting it in both her Introduction and her concluding paragraph. See also Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, Vol. 1, Supplementary Note: Science and the Invisible, Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL, 1999, pp. 17-18.

    Schreiner is a nihilist who is unable to find an answer to her own question “Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?” Her view of Job as a legend and myth (pg. 1) so limits her ability to see the Book of Job as the word of God that she sees only that God is hidden, and in Him is no light to guide the faithful or the searcher, and “Vision points nowhere” (pg. 190). There is only darkness and fear in the presence of her God, which she projected into Calvin’s sermons on Job. She frequently used the phrase “read closely” to indicate eisegesis of her subjects’ texts. She also made frequent use of scare quotes to deny something with which she disagreed. Curiously, Schreiner made a sensus plenior appeal to fill her work with meaning by appealing to David Steinmetz: “A good literary text creates a field of meaning and associations not explicitly contained in the text itself. In the interaction of reader and text, those implicit meanings are discerned and brought to expression” (quoting Steinmetz, pg. 18). To read and interpret Calvin or Job through the eyes of writers who do not believe their own words (chapter five) is a leap; we must read Calvin and Job from within the regula fidei to have understanding and to find wisdom.

    Schreiner set the tone of her work in the final paragraph of her introduction, saying:

    We will follow a trajectory in which the possibility of revelation is gradually eclipsed. In the chapters dealing with Gregory, Maimonides, Aquinas, and Calvin, we will see the attempt to justify God’s actions and to ascend to a higher understanding of God and history. In chapter 5 we will make a jump that presupposes the Enlightenment and observe a concentration on the human existential situation as it is cut off from the deity. God becomes silent, and human perception or insight becomes increasingly narrow. This is a trajectory in Western culture that we cannot escape: In the end we will stand at the collapse of what Hans Jonas once called the “nobility of sight.” We are left with the suspicion by Foucault and others regarding the problematic, suspicious, sinister, or “dark side” of ocularcentrism (sic), (pg. 21).

    In other words, Schreiner has adopted the Jedi religion: an undefined deity where the dark side is the real power and actual essence of the Force. What she described at the end of her Introduction was a deaf-mute God and a blind humanity, attributing it to Foucault and Jonas.

    Commenting on Gregory’s Moralia, Schreiner said that for him “(t)he most dangerous evil in life is not suffering but tranquility; peace and prosperity are conditions that must be overcome” (pg. 30-31).  Gregory’s is a twisted theodicy formed without a systematic theology, arising from his monastic background. With a Pope that practiced monastic asceticism, and preached penance rather than repentance, suffering as a curative for sin should not be surprising.  While we must all take up our crosses and follow Jesus, Peter’s cross was not the same as John’s cross; Moses was God’s friend and lead Israel out of Egypt, while Joshua was God’s servant and lead Israel into the Promised Land, their work differed according to God’s plan. God has appointed apostles, prophets, teachers, and so forth (1 Cor. 12:28-29) and not all are appointed to peace and tranquility, while others suffer apparently inexplicably to our minds. If not all are teachers and prophets, neither are all called to be martyrs (John 21:21-24).

    Schreiner spoke approvingly of Gregory’s allegorical interpretations of Job (pg. 31), but I am reminded that someone famously said that allegory is not worth so much dirt. Her interpretation of Gregory’s reading of Job was that the main characters in the book “expressed different aspects of the truth depending on the perceptions afforded them by their respective abilities to perceive the inner truth of reality” (pg. 31). She failed to see that Job’s friends were unjust to him and to God; in the end, Job was justified, God was proven just, and the friends were reconciled to God by Job’s prayers and sacrifice.  Job did not long for eternity, but for the justification he ultimately received. His laments about himself are the words of someone who is suffering intensively and longing for answers.  He cursed the day of his birth, but those are the words of someone suffering, just as his friends were stunned to silence at first.

    Schreiner poses the question about undeserved suffering (pg. 32) in the same way an atheist might refute the existence of God: if there is a good and all powerful God, then why do good people suffer? Since suffering does exist, then God is either malevolent or impotent.  Either way, for the atheist there is no god as the Christian understands God.  This makes several assumptions about people, life, and God.  This assumes that people are good (we are not), that there exists a direct correspondence between suffering and moral evil (there is not), and that God is explicable in terms which the unbeliever will approve (He is not). Talking about Gregory, Schreiner said that non-retributive suffering reveals the power of God and increases the merit of suffering (pg. 33), without appeal to theology but to allegory. Gregory’s meritorious suffering implied the merit accrues to the sufferer and not to Christ and His body the church (Colossians 1:24).  It is not as though she did not allow the New Testament to influence her thinking, citing John 9:2-3 on the reason for the man being born blind as the greater glory of God (pg. 34).

    On page 33, Schreiner wrote “Because of the contest between God and Satan the power of divine deliverance can be said to form the proscenium of Gregory’s interpretation.” Does she believe in a Ying-Yang dualism as a stage for Satan and God to act out the play of life?  She is not clear whether she believes in dualism or meritorious suffering, or if she is reporting that Gregory believed suffering was meritorious (pg. 34).

    Gregory was wrong about Job not being a sinner (pg. 34) because he “never went out from the desert.” Why did Gregory not understand Job’s being a sinner with Psalm 51:5 in view? Gregory saw Job’s suffering as producing detachment, however, Job does not seem detached in his responses toward the suffering itself, toward his friends, or toward God (Job 7:16). Instead he railed against them all until rebuked and challenged by God in the whirlwind Theophany. In addition, detachment is not a Christian virtue; it is Hindu/Buddhist. In Eastern religions the path out of pain is detachment from material things and people: have no possessions that may draw your affections; have no relationships which form affections; empty the self of desire and you will have no pain, and enlightenment will occur.  Why does Schreiner speak of detachment approvingly? She did understand when she said Gregory “turn’s Job’s speeches upside down.”

    Schreiner’s reader-hermeneutic came into play again when she blamed the “reader of little experience” (pg. 35) as the reason “that Job’s statements ‘sound harshly.’” So, only the experienced reader, a post-modern, deconstructionist, nihilist reader will do? I was surprised to find the author was critical of her own readers. Does she not seek to enlighten her readers with wisdom of her own?  She did have something to offer her readers by way of intellectual exercise.

    Schreiner brings out Gregory’s monastic view (pg. 38) of property and possessions in his sweeping generalized statement that “The wicked really do live a life of ease.”  This simply is not so, the wicked suffer in this life as do the righteous, there are wealthy righteous and wealthy wicked, one’s station in life is nether decisive in righteousness nor does it determine wickedness, the wicked will be judged in the next life as will the righteous, and there is none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). A monastic like Gregory would value poverty over wealth, and see possessions as a trap and as snare.  Rather than a prosperity gospel, this is a poverty gospel where God’s love is earned by meritorious suffering, contra John 10:10.

    Gregory’s call for “retreating inward” (pg. 39) would preclude obedience to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.  It would also have prevented John of the Cross from reaching out to help reform the Discalced Carmelite order, and many others from forming and ordering their groups like the Jesuits and Dominicans.

    Schreiner called for a “patient reading” of Gregory’s allegorical level of the text, again calling for a tolerant reading that “ascends above history,” unifying all levels of the text.  This must be what she meant by an “experienced reader” who is lifted “to a higher perceptual level that allows them to bestow value on a portion of the historical realm” (pg. 39). What does that mean? I find it to be post-modern nonsense.

    She went on (pg. 40) to accept in Gregory’s allegorical exegesis “a coherent interpretation of the Book of Job” as valid and true because he accepted Job as a prophet of Christ. A prophet dispels the limits of time thus exposing the hidden things of the past and future (pg. 41).  Gregory strained hard to find meaning for Job in his suffering before the Theophonic appearance of God in the whirlwind, i.e. meaning without God.  Schreiner’s Gregory has an unsustainable view of Job as an allegorical prophet, finding in Job both the church and Christ, the defeat of the Antichrist and many other exegetically questionable positions, positions such as his straight up Roman Catholic position on meritorious suffering imposed by God.

    This extends into Gregory’s views on justification and sanctification, conflating the two things due to an inadequate view of justification. For Gregory, justification was not complete at Calvary, but requires meritorious suffering on the part of the believer to recompense for sin insisting that all suffering is the result of sin (pg. 44-45).  “Gregory often defends the medicinal function of chastisement, a function always expressed in the perceptual terms of self-knowledge,” (pg. 45).  Granted that we are all fallen sinners, still there are sufferings that defy explanation, either retributive or meritorious (2 Corinthians 12:7), there is no merit in us and all our good works are as polluted garments (Isaiah 64:6).

    In addition to Gregory’s Catholicity, Papacy, and monastic roots, it is important to keep in mind the current events of his time.  The church had recently split east/west while he was Rome’s ambassador to Constantinople.  Rome was in decline as a city and as a nation. Wars raged, black plague swept back and forth across Europe, including Italy.  Gregory’s parents and two aunts had recently died, and another abandoned her Holy Orders to marry.  Gregory turned his ancestral home into a monastery.  Gregory was impatient and unforgiving; when one of his Cardinals confessed on his dead-bed to the theft of three gold coins, Gregory condemned him to Hell without granting absolution for his confession, and refused him Christian burial by ordering his body cast into the city dump. To this we must add the decline of the church in power, morals, and influence. Small marvel that Gregory wanted to interpret Job allegorically.  One wonders why our author did not mention these things about Gregory. Surely an experienced reader could rise above these things to “relegate temporality to the lowest level of Being” (pg. 54).

    I see that I have expended most of my quota of pages on Schreiner’s Gregory. Therefore, brief comments must suffice for Maimonides. Because Maimonides wrote in an Islamic Spain, he could not write openly. Thus his statements are veiled. Still, Maimonides did not see apples of gold in leaves of silver, but literal statements of events. I find his assertion that God is far removed and incomprehensible, but represented by a series of Intelligences until the Lunar sphere, where things happen in this sphere. And yet Maimonides is able to do what God cannot: penetrate the spheres of Intelligence to know what is going on.

    Schreiner repeatedly brought up the hiddenness of God. I will take that idea up in my final paper for the class. It seems connected to the Dark Night of the Soul in some other texts.

    In the end, I was disappointed in this work: “Job’s world is now a world without justice, without revelation, without hope, and without understanding” (pg. 190).  For Schreiner, exegesis and interpretation have come full circle to her nihilist core. Her reading of the best, Calvin, is still impoverished. Her repeated “careful readings” are her device for eisegesis of the authors.  Her exclusion of any conservative scholar is telling of her own opinion. She has not produced answers for any of her three audiences (pp. 2-3), and the answer to her own question of “Where shall wisdom be found?” is “Nowhere” (pg. 190).

March 3, 2014

  • DMin with Knox Theological

    I have been involved in a D.Min program in Exegesis with Knox Theological for almost a year.   I had wanted to do this for a long time, but the right program with  a reasonable price but I had not found the right one.

    I found out that two of my friends are doing D.Min studies with Golden Gate Seminary. One is a prison chaplain in New Mexico, the other is a missionary in the field.  If they can do it, …

    Then I found out that LOGOS software company had partnered with Knox to ‘give’ the software with the tuition package for the school.  Monthly payments that are reasonable and NO interest charges.  My lovely bride agreed to the program and is very supportive, time and money.

    Now I am close to finishing the class portion, this class is finishing this week, one more in-residence, and one more after that (hopefully on-line, but may need to be in-residence again).  The in-residence part is the most expensive; airfare and motel there run close to $1,000 per trip.  And then food, and tips, and …

    Then the dissertation project.  I need to settle on a subject and title in line with my exegesis track, it will have to do with the biblical text in some form.

    My next in-residence class is about Calvin’s exegesis of Job, which is more about exegesis than about Job or Calvin.  I have a book to read, and then write a book review as the opening assignment.  I had a class on Job when I was in MidAmerica Baptist Theological for my M.Div.  That was so long ago, I barely remember things Dr. Kirkpatrick taught us.

    All that to ask “Why now, why so long after seminary am I going back for an advanced degree?  What will I do different than what I am doing already? What opportunities do I expect to open up?”  Well, I am not sure about all that, but it seems to be where God is leading us!  I do love the learning process!

February 25, 2014

  • Inductive Bible Study

    I was recently asked about how to do a personal inductive Bible study.  This is a standard Bible study method that everyone should learn. I think this method of Bible study will deepen your walk with God and enrich your Bible study experience.  The more you use it, the more natural it will seem.  Let’s begin!

    First, select a Bible you are willing to mark up with a pen and highlighters.  One with wide margins on the side and/or center column is best.  Use a translation that you can read and understand well.  It will do no good to use a translation you cannot understand or that will discourage your reading it.  Stick with something like the ESV, NIV, or NLT.  A red letter (Jesus’ words in red) edition may or may not be helpful.  You will have to decide where Jesus’ words begin and end.  Red letters for Jesus’ words is an editor’s decision, not the original authors.

    Also, for the purpose of Inductive Bible Study, avoid “study Bibles,” but do select one with an excellent cross-reference system.  Not all Bibles have a good cross-reference system. You could use something called Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, just remember that it was based on the King James Version (AV).  Shop around before you buy a Bible, more expensive is not necessarily better.

    1. Prayer is always the first thing. Pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit as you read and study. Pray for insight from the One who will guide you into all truth (John 16:13).
    2. Study systematically.  John three builds on John two and John one, and sets the scene for chapter four.  Everything depends on context.  John 3:16 is a wonderful verse, but it builds on the verses that come before it. John 3:14 sets up John 3:15-16.  Jesus expected Nicodemus to know these things because he was a teacher of Israel (v. 10).  Jesus expected Nicodemus to know these things based on the Old Testament. Don’t ignore the Old Testament.
    3. While you study a particular passage, read, read, read the rest of the Bible.  Make the Bible an integral part of your life.  You will be amazed at the correlation between isolated passages.  Daniel and Ezekiel depend on Jeremiah, and The Apocalypse of John depends on them all.  All Scripture is interrelated; Scripture interprets Scripture. Revelation is progressive over time; God did not explain everything to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. 1 Peter 1:10-12 tells us that the prophets searched and inquired carefully, as the angels still do, about the things revealed to them; they were not serving themselves, but us here and now.
    4. Identify the pericope; that is the basic thought unit of the passage.  A whole chapter, a paragraph, seldom a single verse.  In our example of John 3:16, the pericope goes from John 3:1 to 3:21.  Or is it 3:19, or 3:20?  The story of Jairus’ daughter includes the story of the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:22ff and Luke 8:41ff), the two are related, find out how.
    5. Identify the genre of the book and pericope. Gospels have narratives, parables, genealogies, etc. Paul wrote epistles, they have doctrine and ethics.  The Psalms have prophecy, lament, imprecation, prayers, you get the idea.
    6. Keep a notebook. Track the passage, date, prayer requests, and answers.
      1. Ask Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? Write it down. Mark it up in your study Bible. Mark contrasts and comparisons; persons, names, actions.
      2. Look for comparisons and contrasts; look for parallels, use cross references.
      3. Look for action verbs, time markers (before, after, then …), continuative (and, then), logical connectives (if … then; on one hand … on the other hand).
    7. Ask “How would the text have been understood when it was written?” “What did the author mean?” not “What does this mean to me?”
    8. How do I use this? How do I apply what I have learned? What do I do now?
  • Who’s That in There?

    When King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the burning fiery furnace, he expected to see Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego burnt to a cinder.

    Instead, King Neb saw FOUR men walking around in the midst of the fire!

    Did we not cast three men into the burning fiery furnace?

    O king, that is true.

    He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

    Now, don’t run ahead of me here! Because later in Daniel 3:28 King Neb wrote in a letter: “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, …”

    So, who was that walking in the midst of the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? What “angel” is like a son of the gods?

February 22, 2014

  • “Successful” pastors blog

    I’ve been following some Christian websites that all say that the ‘successful’ pastor must have a Facebook (I do for myself, and there’s also one for our church), Twitter account (I doubt I ever will), and they must write a blog (tada!). Well, I’ve had trouble writing for my blog on a regular basis, but I’ll give it another go.
    I am also a student at Knox Theological Seminary in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I have to travel from time-to-time to the school for a week’s intensive class. When I finish this class, there will only be two more before beginning my disertation phase. One class I am already enrolled in,but I have to find the other class to take. It can be either a core class or an elective.
    Now, I need to begin consider what the topic for my disertation should be. I have almost no ideas, but one that I did hit on was on the topic of who Jesus is. Jesus asked his disciples “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” But how did Jesus self identify in the NT, and how did God self-identify in the OT? How do the ἐγὼ εἰμί passages correlate with the OT name of God – יְהוָה
    Does anyone have a better idea?

August 26, 2013

  • Two and a half years

    It’s been that long since I last wrote on Xanga.
    Grief runs very deep and affects us in unpredictable ways.
    You think you are over it, but not so.

    Aug 23rd was the 30th anniversary of our arrival in Japan. That made me think: half of my life has been spent in a church in Japan and another Arkansas. That is a huge investment.
    I have a secular job, aside from pastoring a small country church, with almost 7 years there.
    Has that been worth it? Have I made a difference?

    All I can say for certain is that I have worked in the field where the LORD has placed me.
    All I can say is that I am glad I don’t have to, or get to, judge those things.
    All I can say is that I have been faithful to the task put before me.

    The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13 ESV)

    I recently got to perform the wedding for a young couple in our church. What a delight that was!
    The crying flower girl, the joyful parents, the full house of family and friends!
    The sweet reminder that this year will be 42 years together for us.
    “I love you” still comes naturally and joyfully to our lips.
    “I love you” overwhelms me and brings genuine delight to my heart.

March 1, 2011

  • I have recently had occasion to examine grieving in greater detail.  One of my daughter’s friend’s parents died, a dear family friend died, and a family member of a good friend has died.  Obviously, that is a lot of grief.  How should we handle that as Christians?  How should a Christian grieve?

    There are some that read their KJV Bibles in 1 Thess 4:13: “13 But I would not hae you to be ignorant, bretheren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”  From “that ye sorrow not” they take away that Christians should never mourn; mourning and grieving are signs of a lack of faith to them.  So medicine and doctors are signs of a lack of faith to them.  I wonder, to they take vitamins, aspirin, Tylenol?  Do they put a Band Aid on a scrape or cut?

    One of the keys to New Testament theology, believe it or not, is grammar, specifically Greek grammar.  Words have meaning, but no language corresponds perfectly with another.  Even English does not always correspond to English; by that I mean that over time the meaning of words morph.  The KJV is 400 years old this year, and word meanings change.  We need to understand the meaning of the original language, in this case, Koine Greek.

    1 Thess 4:13 in Koine Greek reads:  13 Οὐ θέλομεν δὲ ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν, ἀδελφοί, περὶ τῶν κοιμωμένων, ἵνα μὴ λυπῆσθε καθὼς καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ οἱ μὴ ἔχοντες ἐλπίδα.

    The key word in that is the word καθς.  καθς means: “as, like as, according as, even as.”  From this we see a comparison; the grieving of Christians is not like or in accordance with the grieving of unbelievers (ἀγνοεῖν, from which we get “agnostic”).  This does NOT say that Christians are not to grieve, while unbelievers may grieve.  What it does say is that we are not grieve as they do, i.e. without hope.  We grieve, but we have hope, hope that is spelled out in the remainder of the verses.

    13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
    14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
    15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
    16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
    17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
    18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thess. 4:113-18

    In our grief, we should find comfort in the promised victorious return of Jesus.

February 6, 2011

December 18, 2010

  • Walking with cancer

    We are so tired.  My bride has been trying to do everything she can for me, and I think she has hit the wall emotionally.  For the first time today, she cried.  I said that she has to die before me, because if I pass away first, she will never make it!

    Today I had my first bowel movement since the surgery.  There are still some blood clots in my urine, and I have to watch my urine bag so it does not get over full.  Yes, these are things we have to deal with.  The facts are that I have a plastic tube inserted where God put a tube made of flesh, and the pre-surgical laxative suppository and Fleets liquid plus a liquid diet for a day before hand left me pretty empty.  But then the urinary tube makes it hard to have a bowel movement.  The tube makes my bladder sore, and my back sore, so I sit with a pillow placed JUST SO. Sometimes I feel light headed, especially after I take my pain medicine or bladder spasm medicine.  Then there’s the Cipro (no milk within 2 hours).  I am walking more normally, I am returning to normal in bodily functions, and we are dealing with the rest of it as we go. 

    Thing is, I was going to help sing in the choir at church Sunday.  That may or may not be possible in the morning.  It may depend on how I feel, compared to how well I can take the ride in our car.

    The doctor said that the lab report on my prostate showed exactly what they had thought before hand, early stage cancer with no cancer outside the prostate.  In a month, we’ll do another PSA test, just to make sure my PSA is zero.

    Before surgery, people would ask me how I felt.  Thing was, if I had no diagnosis I would not have known that I had cancer; I was symptom free.  If I had waited until there were symptoms, it may have been too late.  I may need hormones, because the prostate generates most of a man’s testosterone; we’ll see.

    My surgery was done with the Da Vinci robotic computer assisted surgical system.  I had 6 incisions! One through my belly button, one just an inch above the belly button, two on my right side and two on my left side, one of which had the drainage tube in it until the day after surgery.  Apparently this system can be used for several kinds of surgery, not just prostate cancer.  You can see that at www.davincisurgery.com My doctor said that my prostate had been somewhat enlarged, which probably contributed to my needing to get up in the night to pee; maybe now that will go away too!  No driving until the Foley catheter comes out on the 23rd; and no sex for at least six weeks.  We can do that. Then there are two possible side effects, ED and incontinence in 25% of men with the surgery; but again my doctor thinks nothing of the sort in my case because of my general good health and relative youth 58.

    Why am I being so out front with this?  Guys, get your PSA tested annually if you are over 40; if you are 30’ish get your PSA tested to establish a base line for later comparison.  It could save your life.