Tkach Justifies Sin

One thing that the current UCG crisis points out is that you can justify almost anything, even when it comes to core doctrines like keeping the Sabbath holy.  It is a remarkable trait of human nature to justify one’s behavior in spite of divergence from acceptable standards and practices.  This happens even when the yardstick is human rules and laws, let along God’s perfect Law.

Joseph Tkach, Jr sent out a video that is so far off the mark that it is surreal.  The entire video and transcript can be found on GCI’s website as “Is Keeping Christmas a Sin?”  In it, he states:

In my younger days, I believed that celebrating Christmas was a sin. I wanted to let the Bible guide me in everything I did, and since I couldn’t find any command in the Bible to keep Christmas, I concluded that keeping it must be a sin.

Of course, it wasn’t very good logic, and it kept me from enjoying one of the most meaningful and joyous celebrations of the year.

After all, if we never did anything that isn’t specifically commanded in the Bible, we wouldn’t have Sunday school, children’s church, English language Bibles, printing presses, public address systems, fire alarms or charcoal grills. None of these are specifically commanded in the Bible.

If we avoided everything not specifically commanded in the Bible, we’d have to avoid celebrating Thanksgiving Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, anniversaries, the dedication of a new church building and even memorials for departed members of our congregations.

I’m afraid Tkach is the one who isn’t using very good logic here.  As Robert Thiel points out in a recent post, these are pretty much red herring arguments.  However, I’d like to do something a little different.  Because, after all, the converse of the argument “if we never did anything that isn’t specifically commanded in the Bible, then …” is that “as long as it is not specifically forbidden in the Bible, then it must be OK.”  Is that true?  Is it even a relevant argument?

  • In that event, Dt 27 and Lev 18 forbids intimate relations with one’s stepmother, sister and mother-in-law.  Apparently, one’s grandparent is OK.

  • Murder is an explicit command in the Bible.  However, what if a person dies of natural causes?  May we eat his or her flesh?  After all, the word “cannibalism” is not in the Bible, and there is no verse that explicitly forbids it.

  • Drunkenness is condemned in the Bible.  However, nothing is said about marijuana, LSD, crack or heroine.  Therefore, partaking of these must be OK, right?

  • There is no command “Thou shalt read thy Bible daily” in Scripture, either.  Of course, some would evidently agree that a converted Christian may neglect Bible study and still be a “true Christian”.

It is said in some circles, “Whatever is not forbidden is permitted.”  However, some others cite a converse rule called the regulative principle which says, “Whatever is not commanded is forbidden.”  These are two philosophies which are at odds with each other.

However, what is interesting about what Tkach is saying is that it ignores what God says about the whole matter.  “Christmas” is a combination of the words “Christ” and “mass”, the latter meaning worship.  What Tkach intentionally misses is that God states clearly how to worship Him in the Bible.  Fire alarms and charcoal grills are not matters of worship.

In reality, the main issue with what Tkach is saying is the same that all of these mainstream churches fall into error with: They ignore the principle that “What is forbidden is forbidden”!

 29When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land;

 30Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them [i.e., don’t do like them!], after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise [but, I’ll justify it by saying "I’m doing it to please the real God"].

 31Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.

 32What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. (Deuteronomy 12:29-32, King James Version)

In the above, we see clear justification for the regulatory principle as it applies to worship.  What God has not ordained as part of worship really is forbidden!  We also see an explicit rule forbidding the use of pagan practices to worship Him!  No matter which of the “forbiddence” rules you use, Christmas is a violation of it!

“But,” some will protest, “Christmas is so beautiful!  All of the silver and gold decorations!”

 1Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:

 2Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

 3For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

 4They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

 5They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. (Jeremiah 10:1-5, King James Version)

Again, what could be clearer?  We are not to use pagan symbols in our worship of God!  They do not honor Him!  It really doesn’t matter if the above is a “Christmas tree” or not, because it is the same idea down to the details of decorating it with silver and gold!

“But, it has been our tradition for years!” some others will cry.  So what?  The Canaanites had a tradition of sacrificing their children.  Did that please God?

Can you worship God in a manner that is totally worthless?  Can your traditions actually break God’s commands?

 6 He [Jesus] replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

   “‘These people honor me with their lips,

   but their hearts are far from me.

7 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’

   8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

 9 And he continued, You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!

~ Mk 7:6-9 (NIV)

This has nothing to do with fire alarms or charcoal grills!  This has to do with worshipping God as He prescribes.

If God is God, then doesn’t He have the right to choose how He is to be worshipped?  If God is God, then wouldn’t He be the one to say what is right and proper?

At the risk of trivializing it, what if I come over to your house and trash the place?  How would you feel?  Honored?  What if you had a rule that stated no alcohol was to be in your house?  How would you feel if I brought you a bottle of wine?  What if I brought over a bag of marijuana as a present?  Would you feel honored?  What if you were allergic to peanuts?  How would you feel if I brought you over a large bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?  What would your reaction be to these things?

I don’t know about you, but I would be upset.  It is my house, and I make the rules.  If you cannot obey the rules of my house, you need to leave.  It’s that simple.

If we understand this on a trivial human level, why do some struggle so much to see that God sets the rules for His house and His household?  When you enter His house (Church), you are to conduct yourself within certain guidelines.  Doing things He has forbidden is not pleasing to Him, no matter how much you try to dress up sin!

It ain’t rocket science, Joe!


  1. I'm no Joe Tkach fan, but some of your arguments are the same as his.

    God simply wants our heart (i.e. our motives to be correct – love for Him). I respect your devotion to worship Jesus and God based on the Bible, the 4th commandment and the law.

    But I ask you, Do you know the heart and motive of every person who celebrates Christmas? I sure don't.

    I can sure tell you after hours of discussion with other Christmas-keeping "pagans" I am amazed at their love for Jesus. And even after all that I still desire to sit in the bigoted judgment of them and put them down, all the while smuggly thanking God and Jesus that I am not like those sinners because I do this and that, and according to the Bible nonetheless (Luke 18:9-14).

    Some people express their love to their Savior for what He has done for them and choose to get together with family, choose to honor the humility and humanity of God to subject Himself to being a baby, choose to share with and give to others, and do good for others throughout the year (but especially now since Jesus is being honored). Who am I to stand with a broad brush and sit in the hypocritical Judgment seat of those people?

    The sinful woman (probably a prostitute) in Luke 7 worshipped Jesus at a Pharisee's home with the tools of her trade – precious oil, her hair, kisses and the such. The Pharisee judged her because she didn't worship Jesus like the Pharisee thought she should. How dare her touch this man! Why, she's a SINNER! If Jesus were a prophet, surely He would know she's a whore. He disrespected her person and her worship in his heart. Actually Jesus said she loved more deeply. She wasn't concerned about proper etiquette, the law, the Sabbath, the Holy Days. She was concerned about her Savior and worshipping and loving Him.

    Amazingly it was her heart of worship (which wasn't set & prescribed) that Jesus was watching.

    Which are we doing this time of year?

  2. Anonymous wrote: "I'm no Joe Tkach fan, but some of your arguments are the same as his."

    You are saying that arguments from human logic and imagination are the same as proving it from the Bible? Tkach is arguing that a deception and lie borrowed from pagans honors God, while I point out where in the Bible God condemns it.

    "But I ask you, Do you know the heart and motive of every person who celebrates Christmas? I sure don't."

    So? I don't have to know the heart and motive of every murderer to know it is wrong. What's your point?

    "Some people express their love to their Savior for what He has done for them and choose to get together with family, choose to honor the humility and humanity of God…"

    That's just the point. It is an offense to Him. It is a sin.

    "Which are we doing this time of year?"

    I intend to honor God by not participating in sin. How about you?


    "Because, after all, the converse of the argument 'if we never did anything that isn’t specifically commanded in the Bible, then …' is that 'as long as it is not specifically forbidden in the Bible, then it must be OK.' Is that true?"

    The list of examples that follow is very good. But I cannot resist pointing out that some have also said that there is nothing in the Bible that prohibits voting as a form of church governance, so it must be ok. But as you point out, we have to look beyond just a list of commanded do's and don'ts.

  4. "…what if I come over to your house and trash the place? How would you feel? Honored? What if you had a rule that stated no alcohol was to be in your house? How would you feel if I brought you a bottle of wine? What if I brought over a bag of marijuana as a present?" Etc.

    Interesting way of looking at our relationship with God – as a visitor into a house with rules.

    The Bible describes man's relationship with God in various ways, each increasing in levels of intimacy (closeness & familiarity):

    Created Being relating with his Creator (these are the people who say, "I believe in God")
    Subject to King or Ruler (a level deeper, these people realize God is more than Creator, they are to obey Him)
    Servant relating with his Master (these people tend to be more mature in their relationship with God and at times Old Testament focused, which is fine)
    Child relating to Parent (usually this implies simplicity, adoption or the need to grow to a level of maturity)
    Friend to Friend (Abraham was a friend of God and Jesus said I no longer call you servants, but friends. Communication is more open as in the conversation with Abraham before God destroys Sodom. These people know the voice of God)
    Wife to Husband (Marriage implying love and commitment with very open communication, honor and respect. Relationship is not rule based as in the other relationships.)
    Lovers (deep intimacy and sharing of secrets like Song of Solomon)

    Other analogies can be found in the Bible. The point is this: Intimacy with God isn't developed through a set of rules. The history of Israel proved that. It's developed based on love. I love my wife because I have made a commitment to love her. Our initial relationship with God begins with His love for us through Jesus. John puts it this way in his first epistle, we love Him because He first loved us.

    Yes, we "obey" Jesus, but that is not the emphasis, nor the foundation in the relationship. Grace and love are. His grace and love. If I tried obedience as the emphasis and foundation of my marriage….well, you can imagine what a disaster that would be.

  5. Anonymous wrote: "Interesting way of looking at our relationship with God – as a visitor into a house with rules."

    My point is that all houses have rules, formal or informal. Some are as obvious as "Don't do anything illegal." Some might be wound a little tighter.

    Respect towards a person extends not just to the person themselves, unlike some free speech advocates state. You can disrespect a person by abusing their family, their friends or their property as well.

    And what are laws and rules, anyhow? They are simply means of showing respect towards someone or something.

    Being "rules based" as you say does miss the point. Rules enforce respect, but they cannot create it. One of Christ's messages was to turn the attention away from how to treat one another to why we should treat one another a certain way.

    Likewise, if we are to treat one another with love and respect, then it only makes sense that God should be treated with a love and respect that transcends all others. We are to "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind."

    If we do that, then we will naturally want to do what He wants us to, not how we think we should worship Him. The first is focused on Him. The second is focused on ourselves.

  6. For the Churches of God (and their splits) the initial and overwhelming response and reaction to whatever the discussion of the moment is, is so often legal in scope (going back to the law).

    The vast number of splits in these churches is due IMO to yes, an admirable seeking and passion of truth, but quite poisoned (just as I'm poisoned with things) with a desire to legalize (in some cases legalism, but certainly not all) the relationship with God and neighbor.

    The fruit is evident – damaged relationships – when Jesus calls for and creates unity. I believe wholeheartedly for the Churches of God the result of this legal attitude towards life and relationships is numerous splits. Splits for these groups seem to almost always be "doctrinal" in nature. And for some of these groups every doctrine is elevated to conformity and authoritarian decisions – who has the "rightful" power? Again, the primary belief being that in order to relate to God and man you must view things through the scope of obedience and the law. These are immature thoughts and behaviors.

    Jesus Christ shattered that kind of thinking without shattering the law. He showed us that once the heart changed and truly accepted Him as Savior, real life entered the person. That person was no longer primarily concerned about the outward manifestations of the law (i.e. no longer white-washed tombs with no life), but had a life from God that supernaturally resulted in varying fruit, supernaturally sought after God and supernaturally obeyed. Life then became abundant. Relationships were healed. Decisions were no longer cold, calculating, legalistic and motivated by obligation.

    John, you asked, "What are laws and rules?" Laws and rules are established for the sinner, the guilty, the evil to prove that they fail. True followers of Christ delight in the law for it teaches us and guides us. We no longer view it in letter form because we're not earning our place with God, Jesus has already done that for us. It exists in principles and protective guidelines because the heart and motives have changed. It's like a person dancing to the beat of music. They know how to move and sway. The non-Christian can't hear the Spirit (i.e. music) and is very law minded trying to imitate the outward moves.

    When will broken relationships and continual splits and failures start teaching us that something (besides the law and more obedience) is our problem? Maybe the real problem is the coldness in our heart.

  7. Anonymous wrote: "Maybe the real problem is the coldness in our heart."

    Make no mistake about it: human beings have a heart problem. That's why the Scriptures talk of writing the Law in the hearts and minds of believers. That's why Paul wrote about the burial of the old man and newness of life.

    The Law can inform the heart of what God's desires are for us. The problem with the Pharisees is that they went as far as to make the Law into an idol. They built layer upon layer of extraneous rules to "protect" the Law, and in doing so, they totally missed the point that the Law has to be built upon the foundation of love.

    Take the Sabbath, for example. It is right and well to not work on the Sabbath. However, if an animal is in distress (e.g., "ox in the ditch"), it is cruel and heartless to leave it in pain and suffering. Yet, the Pharisees showed no compassion whatsoever towards human beings who were suffering on the Sabbath, and Jesus criticized their hypocrisy for that reason.

    The Law can educate the heart as to what love means in practice, but it can only do so if love is already there.

  8. There are some rather insightful remarks in the Anonymous postings, especially the one marked, December 18, 2010 1:57 PM. I believe they can be used to have a deeper understand about Rm 8:14, "… you are not under the law, but under grace".


    Here's an interesting question, at least I think so.

    What if I decide to take any day of the year to focus on Jesus Christ's birth and dedicate that time as holy to the Lord. To reflect on and have a deeper knowledge about that particular aspect of His life. Would that be an offense to Him and be a sin?

  9. @Norbert: Well, there are many ways to approach that question, aren't there? There is some vagueness to the question as well, so without specifics, it is best to talk about principles.

    I think part of the answer lies in today's Reflections post. Are we doing what God expects and/or prescribes, or are we really doing something else and just kidding ourselves?

    I was also pondering whether or not to post an article yet again upon a certain facet of that type of question or not, and I guess your comment makes it evident it does bear repeating that truth should undergird everything we do and say.

    So, what's left? Well, there is the entire can of worms about birthdays and celebrating births. If you ask me, there isn't is a whole lot of consensus around that one.

    OTOH, you did write, "dedicate that time as holy to the Lord." You and I can certainly dedicate belongings, time and money to God. However, can we make anything holy? Who or what determines what is holy? Are we being presumptuous if we call something holy and it is not?

  10. Interesting question, Norbert.

    I think the underlying question to your question is can we make anything holy? The simple answer to that question I believe is, No. Nothing we can say or do makes anything holy. Holy belongs only to God. He alone determines what is holy.

    Someone can correct me or show me a Scripture, but I can't think of any thing we can dedicate to God as holy.

    We are holy because God declares it. Even to the point of God's declaration and holiness sanctifying an unbelieving spouse (1 Corin 7:14).

    As His holy people we can certainly offer things to God. Hannah offered Samuel, and time is an important offering. Setting aside any time to focus on God and His great acts of salvation is exemplified in the Psalms. David declared and wrote music about the great salvational acts of God. So why not His sending of His perfect Son whether in birth, life, death or resurrection as the greatest act of salvation? Why not write or sing music of His birth or life or death, set aside time, set aside days or gifts to glorify God for His perfect gift of His Son?

    I think God is concerned with the motivation and attitude of the offering. God declares His people as "holy." We are totally dependent upon Him. Jesus said, I can of my own self do nothing. If anything is up to us, it will not last. That's why we must draw our strength from Him, taking time to reflect upon Him and His Word. I see no problem with doing that on any day of the year.

  11. It's interesting that Christmas is not declared as a "holy" day. No doubt, somebody has declared it as such, but it's not normally referred to that way.

    I'm not aware of any limitations on offerings in the New Testament. If anyone knows of any, please post them. There are obviously very restricted laws on offerings in the Old Testament. I guess that may be one reason the New Testament speaks of freedom; freedom in Christ and the Spirit.

  12. Try 2:

    Um, actually, Anonymous, "holiday" is a derivative of "holy day". Furthermore, "Christmas" comes from "Christ Mass". If you doubt that Christmas is viewed as a holy day by Catholics, take a look at

  13. What should be made of Ro 14:6, The one who observes the day does it for the Lord.?

    Not that a mere mortal man or even an angel be able to actually create a day let alone make it holy. But what should a person make of the special selected time they spend in prayer and fasting towards God? When a person dedicates a day with those overtures in sharing time with Him, how should it be viewed? When the living God can exclaim "here I am" with a person. (Is 58:9) Can it be when He is there, it turns into something Holy?

    Not that every waking day and action shouldn't be spent with God in mind. However….

    Does God expect and/or prescribe to pay attention to Christ's birth and the knowledge it should bring or is that just kidding ourselves?

    Don't get me wrong, other than Christ's actual birth, the whole of Christmas is submerged in paganism. The yule logs and fancy trees etc. is not something His people are asked to do. However when the occasion happens when a person is asked about why they don't believe in Xmas, I believe it's a topic that can be best explained by the following idiom.

    You can catch more bees with honey than vinegar.

  14. Norbert wrote: "Does God expect and/or prescribe to pay attention to Christ's birth and the knowledge it should bring or is that just kidding ourselves?"

    He expects us to pay attention to the Gospel accounts. He expects us to pay attention to the fulfillment of prophecy. He expects us to pay attention to miracles like the virgin birth. He expects us to pay attention to the fact that a God being emptied himself and became a mere mortal, even a baby, and lived a sinless life.

    However, I do not see where God expects us to take one day every year to celebrate His birth. If that were prescribed, then He would have given us a date to do so. Instead, we were given a date to commemorate His death — something just the opposite of human reasoning.

    "You can catch more bees with honey than vinegar."

    To be honest, most people just look at me like deer caught in the headlights when I tell them I am a Christian and I don't celebrate Christmas. Very often, the first reaction is, "Are you Jewish?" However, most of the time it honestly doesn't get that far, as most people aren't interested in religion to begin with. I don't press it, as it isn't up to me to save them.

    For those who do pursue it, I just ask them to point to where the Bible says to keep it. When they admit it isn't in there, I simply say, "That's why I don't keep it." Only occasionally will it go further.

    Frankly, in person I've had more lively discussions about the Sabbath and the Feast of Tabernacles than about Christmas. For me, it's typically been online where someone wants to make an issue of it. YMMV.

  15. Holiday and Holy Day. Hmmm. Good point.

    Rom 14:6 I believe are good principles. Paul recognizes Christians have passionate thoughts and opinions about physical issues. He uses the Greek word "phroneo" and KJV translates it "regardeth." NKJV translates it "observes." Greek according to Strongs means "to exercise the mind, that is, entertain or have a sentiment or opinion; by implication to be (mentally) disposed (more or less earnestly in a certain direction); intensively to interest oneself in (with concern or obedience): – set the affection on…"

    I belive Paul is saying rise above these physical differences of days and meats.
    He is laying out principles – basic generalizations that are true and that can be used as a basis for reasoning and conduct. The principle is not to dispute over doubtful physical things – meats and days.

    Norbert you asked about God's presence making something holy, yes I would agree. I think a dedicated time or day should be viewed as an offering to God. I don't know what you mean by God expecting us to pay attention to Christ's birth and the knowledge it should bring.

    As far as John's decision about not observing Christmas, I respect that. He has a valid point about the Bible not commanding it and that most people aren't interested in (I would add the word, "discussing") religion.

  16. A Word about Witnessing.

    For most people religion is just off limits, except for blogs. When told not to tell about Jesus Christ, what did the disciples do? They said it's better to obey God than man.

    So I disagree with John's reasoning for not "pressing" the issue. I think it can be done tactfully. But according to the Bible personal witnessing needs to be done firmly and even sometimes persistently. I make no apologies for this. This is not a "doubtful" issue like meats and days, nor one to shirk responsibility and carelessly "leave it to God."

    Yes, God is the only one who saves, but that does not negate the command Jesus gave to all His disciples to preach, share and witness. The last command Jesus gave before leaving the earth (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8) was to witness. In fact Jesus elevates the witness command above the prophetic study of His return (Acts 1:7-8).

    The Bible is clear about witnessing – "he who winneth souls is wise." The great commission is clear about preaching the Gospel and making disciples. The entire book of Acts is an example of how churches grow – through witnessing and not being silent. Witnessing led to persecution, which led to growth. We are not just expected to witness to others verbally, but even to the point of persecution and death.

    Jesus made some strong statements about witnessing. Those who would be ashamed of Him, He would be ashamed of in the judgment. He also said "many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees (persecution) they did not confess Him lest they should be put out of (church) for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." (John 12:42-43).

    King David and other Psalmists said they would "proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day." (Psm 96:2; Psm 9:11,14) When you know God has really saved you, you want to tell others. Otherwise, it's probably just a private religious matter.

    It amazes me that some people/churches ignore the personal responsibility of this command or sugarcoat it for whatever reason. I think there's a major problem when our witnessing becomes more about physical, doubtful things like days and meats or prophecy than it is about the Way, the Truth and the Life – the path of salvation, Jesus Christ. If you're not telling people about Jesus Christ, then do you really have the joy of salvation and still have your first love?

    Are you in love with a religious set of doctrines or a Savior?

  17. @Anonymous: I thought the discussion was about Christmas, not witnessing. Not that trying to cram your beliefs down someone's throat is going to work in either event, and, as HWA used to say, "A person convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

    However, that doesn't stop me from interjecting God into discussions when appropriate. I even shy away from saying "luck" or "fortune" had anything to do with it and say I was "blessed". I even told an agnostic once that something did not have eternal value, and he wasn't too sure what to say about that.

    If that's what Norbert meant by honey rather than vinegar, then I agree. Building on God and Jesus is a far better way to get people to think about their beliefs than metaphorically hitting them over the head with a Christmas tree.

    Having said that, I know I still stand out, and people do notice the lack of decorations, declining invitations to various events, lack of holiday salutations, etc. If you think that isn't a witness, then you are mistaken.

  18. John: I think you bring up a point about witnessing that is important and requires patience and wisdom. That is "cramming" one's beliefs down someone's throat.

    Certainly the Bible contains what seems like heated arguments at times with people who refuse to listen – Jesus and the Pharisees; Stephen and the council; not to mention the Old Testament prophets.

    Undoubtedly before Jesus, Stephen and the prophets got to the point of heated arguments there was probably much patience.

    When to cross the tipping point so to speak, I think requires patience, wisdom and prayer with the realization that the result of "cramming one's ideas" could be imprisonment, persecution, attacks or other consequences.

  19. Anonymous,

    In regards to, "I don't know what you mean by God expecting us to pay attention to Christ's birth and the knowledge it should bring.

    Just like the many articles, booklets, tv programs deal with specific subjects. The specific topic of His birth can be expanded upon. What it means, what it doesn't mean.

    I believe it plays a very large role in drawing one of the objective connections about the nature of God into the potential of all individuals. Jn 1:14 "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us" Heb 4:15 " but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

    His birth is part of the prophetic testimony that was supplied prior to the actual date. It also gives some hope in understanding the slight difference (which is a huge difference) between the two thoughts of, 'God has a family' and 'God is a family'.

  20. Norbert: Hmmm. Thanks for clarifying. The birth of God in flesh does make one think.