my new blog
My new blog is at http://diogeneswsu.typepad.com/ It is a much more robust set up... hope you all like it -Diogenes
I really appreciate that you are bothering to look at this blog. Some of you are friends, some are professors, some of you may have just happened upon my humble cyber-abode and don't know me from Adam...in any event, thanks for reading! By the way, if you like a blog, you "pay" for it by posting comments here and there. [hint hint ;) ] Feel free to email any post to whomever you would like!
My new blog is at http://diogeneswsu.typepad.com/ It is a much more robust set up... hope you all like it -Diogenes
Well, on a fluke I decided to try to sign up for a cell phone. My calculator tells me a just made a big decision (39.99 * 24 = 959.76) but it was so easy...Hey wait a minute, wasn't that the kind of reckless behavior that got me into this mess?! Actually it should be OK, because I needed one, and I am spending $50 less on rent now. I feel like a real boy. Oh yeah, and by the way, I should be driving tommorow too... Years without phone ~ 5 Years without car ~ 2.2 If I am not careful hair will grow on my bald head, and I will end up dating again. :)
The second weekend in September will mark the end of an era for me. "The Pad," "The Taylor's house," and "Home," have all been used to describe these four walls throughout the last 2 years. The term, "Home," least often, because it has not been a home to me. As one of what will probably be many pit stops during the interregnum between my Father's house and the house I will own; this house served its purpose fitfully. The Pad was a nickname used oftener during its heyday. The first summer on Audubon felt ripe with possibilities and intentions. From this exuberance came some of the seeds that that led to a church plant (no pun intended) (seriously, that was an accident). One of my roommates Paul has become one of my best friends - ironically, one of the reasons our friendship grew so fast was that we spent so much time praying about the issues of the house) Other friendships came and went along the way, but the net result was good. Some of the things I learned: 1. Respect is both the machine, and the lubrication necessary for a group of people to live with one another in harmony. When respect was present - living there was something to be proud of; when it was gone it took a real toll on the house and caused some really unnecessary situations. 2. I learned that a room with no TV is better than a room with a TV. I don't think living in this house directly caused me to stop watching the boob tube, but I did stop watching during my stay here, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. 3. I learned that there is a far cry between what people say they want; and what they really want. I believe only one man in ten is really willing to change; even if staying the same means being really miserable! Most people, in small areas and large, have years of inertia guiding their movements and motives and will resist change with all manner of behavior. The good news is than the ones that will grow, are worth the entire headache of dealing with the other nine. 4. I learned a lot about myself. This blog is a testament to that. Through all of the frustrations along the way, I have maintained a base of gratitude for Josh and his family. Josh offered me a place to stay at a price that was more than fair; introduced me to my current boss, and was part of some really significant and sometimes really enjoyable times in my life. Goodbye Audubon; hello Lancaster.
Recently, I have been thinking a lot about how a person uses their strength. Years in sales, decades of honing my rhetorical skills, as well as my native tenacity, place me in a position to do good and to do harm. It is hard to know sometimes how much speed I should put or my pitches. And because of this, I throw some fastballs when I should lob one over the plate. I am learning that speed is as important as aim. What I mean is: even if I don't hit someone with poor aim, my power can still frighten or intimidate those I only intend to "play with," when a pitch zipping by causes their hair to wave in the breeze. I will not stop myself from hitting hard when need be, but I will try to exercise more control.
adding - * I have added time in my schedule for intospection and meditation. Fighting against this addition is my gut reaction to look for solutions where I have found them before; namely, within the realm of the mind. Under the umbrella of meditation I place the study of scripture, 'alone time,' and periods of listening rather than obeying the compulsion to speak. * Discrimination in attitude toward dating. As part of a larger overarching lack of self-confidence that was born in me in early childhood and blossomed in middle school; was an operating system that said - 'you are lucky if you get anything in the way of a romantic relationship.' This defeatist mindset is being supplanted by the conviction that I am a solid guy, that will be a perfect partner to a specific kind of girl. I may never find her - but if I do; we will come together, not because either of us is doing the other 'a favor;' but because we mesh as strong people. At the core of this addition is the commitment to become more specific, not more generic to catch the eye of my partner. I am sure that there are more; however these are the only 'addition' that have percolated to the surface of my conciousness.
I find myself using the phrase, ''I am becoming more who I am," a lot lately. I don't know if I stole it from somewhere or if I made it up. But in any event, it describes this pruning-and-adding phase I have been in for a while now. I have cut out practises that aren't even wrong, just wasteful; and added some that wouldn't be for everyone. I'll give a few examples of each: Pruning: * I try to set boundaries in relationships that satisfy my obligations to humanity without taking away time or energy from things I know to be worthwhile. Meaning, no more late night arguments for the sake of arguing. No more relationships that are held together by weak-ness or dysfunction; but rather I choose to surround myself with people who are strong. I still associate with people who have nothing to give me relationally; however, I am more careful in my mind to delineate between "energy takers," and, "energy wasters" - the former I try to help become self- sufficient, the latter I avoid like the plague. * I spend less time "playing things by ear," and more time planning and executing. This goes against the part of me that is a, "fly by the seat of your pants," adrenaline junkie... I give this side of myself its play-time when I am with friends. To be continued with the "adding'' part soon...
This is from a forum I post on sometimes. Italics indicate the person with whom I am talking. HIM: I understand where you are coming from and many people will agree and disagree with the view. I have a big struggle with one thing...Truth. Each person has their own walk with God and their own struggles. Their own truth if I may. The hard part I have is wanting to believe that there is ultimately one truth...Black and White. Living a normal life will leave many dilemnas for grey areas. Smoking, drinking, excessive TV, movies, ect.. You understand what I mean. Do these grey areas diminish universal truth? Off topic I know. The other part about going where sinners are for ministry purposes. Jesus didn't need to be possessed with a demon to minister to the demon afflicted. Jesus didn't need to be a leper to heal the leper. You know what I mean. Like my buddy used to joke. "I need to go down to that strip club to minister to the girls." I personally have no problem with christians who smoke a pipe or cigar on occasion. My best friend had several at his bachelor party and that was fine. I wouldn't condemn a person, but as we are all doing, we are all searching for Truth. Some believe truth involves the black and the white. Some believe truth includes the grey areas. I see a big picture but want to believe that God is in the details. I want to believe that there really is a universal truth and I believe that heaven follows that universal truth. ME: For the sake of clarity, I will refer to these as paragraphs 1, 2, and 3. 1. The fact that you are finding it difficult seeing exactly what is true and what is not, does not indicate any lack of intelligence, spiritual maturity, or laziness on your part. If fact, quite the contrary. The important thing is to KNOW that there is TRUTH, but that we cannot possess it in its purest form. Our minds are tainted by our own opinions, environment, history. There is a lot of proof of this. Look at how many feminists see the bible as sexist, gays think we hate them, or even how there are such big differences between denominations on key issues. Is the bible wrong? No. We prove this ourselves, everytime we change (or "modify" as I like to call it ) our opinions about things in the bible over time. Did the bible change? No - we did. So then, we must recognize that we are like dirty glasses accepting clean milk. The milk poured out of that glass; or in that glass; is tainted. What I mean is this: The Bible is absolutely true (pure milk); but we must either read it, or have it read to us, in order to learn from it...that introduces our impurities, or impurities of others (dirty glass) - this will necessarily effect the way we talk about truth (pouring it from the glass) or think about truth (milk in the glass). So what do we do? Frustrating to think about, huh? Well, we continually let the milk that pours through us flush out the impurities, we scrape off gunk when we can, and we refuse to break our glass in protest (relativism: "if I can't have it all, I will decide that truth doesnt exist"). If Jesus was to use my analogy instead of the "log in the eye" analogy, it would go something like, "Don't bother him about how his milk has a floater in his glass, when your milk is curdled." This is where legalism steps in. Legalism says, "it is wrong to set you milk on the counter top without a lid...it is immoral to have a blue plastic glass...it is bad if you have a handle on your glass." So instead of the truth, "the milk," we worry about the countertop, the color of our glass (and everyone elses), and the handle. We cannot let Satan derail us from improving the cleanliness of ourselves as vessels; and we cannot derail ourselves from our goal because we are so afraid of tripping our brother that we don't even leave the chocks to "run the good race." 2. As far as going to where the sinners are - yes you do need to go there. Short of sinning, you need to be where the dying are. The whole idea of a "seeker sensitive" church is a crock. Imagine a hospital that was "patient sensitive" but had no ambulances - that let the gun shot victims, those with aneurisms and lung cancer come to them if they needed help. It would never fly. The medical community understands that some will come to the hospital, but many will need to be treated on the side of the road, or at their house before they are stable enough to be brought to the hospital because their wounds are so severe that they cannot make it to the ER under their own strength. The church is lazy, bloated and miserable right now; because, while it has opened up shop on every third corner in America - no one cares. Why do they not care? Because they don't know us. We do not know them. ...About that stripper club - get a girl to go there!. I know of women that are former strippers that have a great ministry with girls they worked with. You laugh at the notion; but it is a more legitimate outreach than some lame "clean comic" at a dry new years eve party...But back to the ambulance analogy; saying that there are risks (sins or pitfalls) doesn't mean that its necessarily a BAD idea to do something. Ambulance drivers face bleeding wounds and dangerous situations daily - and that there is risk, and people dying it PROVES THE NEED more than dissuades me that they shouldn't be there! But like the ambulance drivers, we should use appropriate caution - moral rubber gloves - like accountability, drink limits, a purpose for being where we are, an escape route etc. People dying + Risk of personal harm = A risk worth taking. 3. I think you have a good handle on this thing. In fact I think you know the answer already: truth exists - but you will never possess it purely. All of what is NECESSARY to know is perfectly clear, but the details are too numerous to be able to navigate perfectly. That is not an excuse to give up our hope or our resolve to find it - but it should serve to protect us from legalism, perfectionism, the idolatry of Christian Utopianism. Just remember: This is a battle, not a math problem. This is D-Day, not V-E Day. ...not yet anyways. HIM: Sorry it took a bit to respond. I will agree that it was a well thought out and thought through response. Darn you. You're not leaving any holes for arguement. The big issue I see overall is the fact that many people are looking at christians through the tainted glass and sometimes that leaves us looking like hypocrites or whatever. The closest representation they have on earth to Jesus is us who have Jesus in us. (wow thats a weird sentence) They only have us as Christs representatives and we can only take humans with us to heaven. If we are condemned to taintedness, while the rich pure milk is on the inside, that only allows me to think of a couple ways for them to see the pure form...Turning the glass upside down and letting the milk be poured out. The other thing that I think is important for people to see a purer form of Godliness is by being transparent. Not building walls around yourself or seeking self preservation/selfishness in your acts. Being open and honest about strengths and weaknesses you have and places you were and are going in God. Anyway, not really countering, but adding. ME: Now for the seemingly contradictory part. I don't believe that we can possess pure truth in a permanent way in our lives; however there are moments of trancendence, when you are able to "make something click" for someone; or when you read scripture and something leaps off the page; or when you watch a movie and it tells a story you have always known in a way that you could never quite state so well. These moments are the ones where we see a glimpse of pure truth fleetingly; like looking out the window of a speeding train and looking into the windows of the buildings that pass like a blur. It is a satisfaction that increases the longing. Like eating salty peanuts makes you want more salty peanuts! Another analogy, if I may. Physics, this time: In the 1920's Einstein ran into a scientist named Bose. Together they theorized about the behaviour of atoms at absolute zero (zero degrees Kelvin). This was a tough field to study, because, in nature (deep space specifically) the lowest temperature on record is a mere 3 (ice melts at 273!)degrees Kelvin. The goal was "perfection" or at least the prediction of what perfection would look like. It took about 70 years until scientists were able to suss out the true nature of atoms in this state. In 1995, it was achieved at long last. So "what's the point?" you should be asking. The point is, that these men KNEW that truth was absolute, and that it operated by rules. These rules would allow them to extrapolate observations made at in less than "perfect" (absolute) conditions to discern the nature of truth. Given this analogy, it is apropos that that is the result of total freezing is that, "[the atoms] lose their individual identities and coalesce into a single blob." We will never be "at rest" in the truth, just as molecules will never be totally still at the molecular level; however, under the right conditions we can reach moments of "perfection" as we become Christ to someone. Notice that it took 70 years of practice for scientists to achieve this state of being from when they started. Notice that we are told we have about 70 years on earth, before heaven (for the believer)...In both cases perfection was elusive, but victory was bound to occur, because the premises were correct, and the diligence paid off. Now, on to the "hypocrisy" thing... If you have ever watched a sports fan watching "the big game" you will have plumbed the depths of hypocrisy...when "our" team does it - its a clean hit; when "their" team does it - its a foul... Men know only two standards; and they have heard rumors of a third. The first standard is the standard I apply to myself; the second is the one I apply to others; and the third is the standard God applies to me. People who want to live in sin without feeling guilty, expect nothing from anyone else, so that they can in turn expect nothing of themselves. Those who want to live off of some feeling of moral superiority, expect people around them to be perfect - so that when these people fail, (usually severely and frequently) they can feel good about keeping up whatever part of truth they chose to master (ie: I NEVER drink...I NEVER say that bad word...I NEVER go to "R" movies"). The Christian should instead compare himself, and others, to God's standard. This is what he will find, I will save you the suspense: "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." So what's the conclusion? The conclusion is balance. Yes we need to call sin - sin. But we also need to stop expecting perfection from ourselves and others. But the balance to THAT, is that we cannot then begin to lower the bar that we are aiming at. It IS tough. But, worrying about charges of hypocrisy is roughly equivalent to worrying about charges of sweating - the guy who said it was probably doing it himself even as he condemned you. The person who is looking for truth, or at the very least OPEN to truth, will hear you even if you have not mastered that truth yet. Just like how you can spread AIDS to someone else before you even show signs of having it yourself. Humility. Balance. Focus. And a good pipe to relax with That's the "trick" I think.
My sister had this on her sight, and I couldn't resist. Apparently I am "the wit." I guess all those book I read on how to giggle at as good fart were a rip off...the text is hard to read in the picture, so I cut 'n pasted it for your viewing pleasure. You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat. I guess you just have a more cerebral approach than most. You have the perfect mindset for a joke writer or staff writer. Your sense of humor takes the most thought to appreciate, but it's also the best, in my opinion. PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Jon Stewart - Woody Allen - Ricky Gervais AND FINALLY -- after you rate my test with a sweet, sweet '5' -- you must take this test next: The Genghis Khan Genetic Fitness Test. It's not mine, but it rocks.
"Can God create a rock that is so big that he cannot lift it?" I heard that one when I was 8 and I stayed up thinking about it, baffled by the question's inability to be answered in any way that left life feeling correct. Fortunately I sensed intuitively even then that somehow the question wasn't fair; but not in a way that I could articulate at the time. I heard this again the other night when I was talking to my friend Calvin. He brought it up rhetorically, to test a proof that God is not beholden to any power external to himself. Calvin was not, to my knowledge, suggesting that there was not an answer to this paradox; but rather, whether or not the inevitable answer to this paradox would result in proof of self-existant truth. As you read, know that I don't pretend to have satisfied every angle of this paradox - what I do presume to do is share MY thoughts on this low-blow, poor-mans attempt at profundity. Paradoxes are supposed to generate thought; even if left-handedly, this paradox accomplished that aim in me - just here to pass along the favor. :) Foundational truth - All thinking is built on faith. This includes all philosophies, all sciences, all knowledge. Faith is a decision to believe a set of premises, upon which further arguments can be built. When two people argue, they appeal to a premise which they believe the other person shares, and then try to demonstrate that their argument is more consistent with that premise than their opponents. For example: "You say you believe in the value of life [premise] and so you oppose abortion...so how can you believe it is OK to go to war in Iraq [display of apparent inconsistency]; you should pick - valuing life or not[attempt to force "crisis of belief", and clench debate]." Now what if someone were to say, "I see no value in saving life...in any situation." How might one argue with them? Unless you can find an alternative basis (like the necessity of other humans for utilitarian purposes like eco-system stability) you have no shared premises upon which to appeal. You might counter, "You should value human life!" But then they might counter, "I choose not to; and by the way, who are you to tell me otherwise?" After an hour of frustrating conversation, you will have appealed to history, science, their guilt and assumed sense of responsibility - and if they still will not agree to be bound by any of your premises, you will leave knowing that you are right but not being able to do a thing about it. Being that this scenario can be repeated with any system of beliefs, no matter how amazingly obvious [metaphysics isn't even sure if we really exist :)] then it stands to reason that all beliefs require faith as their motive power. One might disagree what contitutes "reasonable" amounts of faith. One may say that my belief in a resurrected savior is absurd; and I may be obliged to call their belief in a horny amoeba as the father of all living things...Well...Ridiculous. But in both cases, it will be opinions and evidence - not incontrovertible premises that are the weapons of our warfare. My specific thoughts about the paradox: A. My Cardinal Premise: the Bible is correct. The bible predates modern science in its prediction of the water cycle, and the earth being round. In its oldest book, Job, two types of dinosaurs are described explicitly. As to the issue of its historicity, "Critics used to say that the biblical description of the Hittite Empire was wrong because the Hittite Empire (they though) didn't even exist! Then archaeologists discovered the Hittite capital in 1906 and discovered that the Hittite's were actually a very vast and prominent civilization." (thanks for the info) B. No concept can unilaterally unseat its own source As created beings, totally enveloped within creation, any charge we could level against God would require outside reference. An example. Imagine that I were to create a new language with vocabulary and grammar as I saw fit, and then I offered that language for anyone to use. A person in the future could not prove that I "made a mistake" in a convention I chose to use. Why couldn't they? Because I am necessarily, as the author, the sole arbiter of what is correct and what is not correct. I have, as the author, the right to hand down decisions by fiat. Any legitimate criticism of that system would have to come from without in order to even have point of comparison - and even at that, if I do not elect to listen to that comparison - well, that is my prerogative. In any case, if a system is self-contained; no charges can be lobbed against the author from within; for he validates his system strictly and sufficently by his consent. C. All of existance has God's will as its source. Following closely after the previous premise, this reiterates the conclusion that the system that we are all collectively within, is bound together, comes from the same source, and has its limitations imposed, as a result of being in an autocrasy (Theocrasy). Even in instances where there are perversions of his intentions, these perversions are not random; this implies the original - as mockeries of the "real thing." D. Corrupt logic that confuses is not equal to good logic that exposes a corrupted subject. Questions like, "Do your parents know that you are gay?" Or, "Do you still beat your wife?" are corrupt, and disingenuous, in that they are not actually seeking a solution; instead they are seeking to prove an unspoken premise. These paradoxes may be crafty, but never wise; snarky, but never significant. On the other hand, paradoxes like the "arrow paradox" promote thinking, and do not intend to do anything but pit logic against itself, which is good for the mind- "An arrow in flight is really at rest. For at every point in its flight, the arrow must occupy a length of space exactly equal to its own length. After all, it cannot occupy a greater length, nor a lesser one. But the arrow cannot move within this length it occupies. It would need extra space in which to move, and it of course has none. So at every point in its flight, the arrow is at rest. And if it is at rest at every moment in its flight, then it follows that it is at rest during the entire flight." Corrupt logic can have many aims, one of which is to pit logic against its origin. E. God doen not do anything, without all of his traits present God is not a mere concept. He is a person, albeit a divine and trinitarian being; that is at once - one person, yet manifest in three parts. He can no more be divided asunder, and still be considered to be "himself" than I could have my mind stand trial and be declared guilty, and have my body declared innocent to walk the streets. If my mind and body were separated, I would cease to exist, and would be neither imprisoned or free. His constituent parts are not portions of him that operate independantly; rather they are conceptual dilineations made to describe dicreet manifestations of his personhood in away that allows our finite minds basic comprehension. A being may exist that possesses an omnipotence that could quench itself, but that being would not be God. One of the most potent parries to the "rock paradox" is to ask, "whose God?" The Christian God is divisible only in conception; while remaining indivisible in practise. Once he has detached himself from himself, it has ceased to BE himself - and has proven the challenge to be corrupt. His omnipotence, if ever separated from his being, would neccessarily reduce what was left to less than God; and the resulting being (regardless of the outcome of the paradox) would have proved nothing about God himself. F. God does what he pleases Ironically, it is against the acknowledgement of this fact, that this paradox was concieved. It was intended as a trap to ensnare the powerful Author, himself. A being that can "do" or "not do" anything he pleases; and because, as point "E" shows, he cannot be dissected and remain essentially himself. He must consent to the paradox for it to be legitimate - if he is made to perform this fools errand he would be less than himself (thus NOT himself). One cannot coerce the Almighty. Therefore, another legitimate response to this paradox is overlooked because of its simplicity - "God would not choose to do this." That he would not consent, arrests the paradox before it begins its obfuscatious purposes.
Likes as of right now: 1. RSS feeds - there is nothing better than getting your blogs sent to you! 2. Staring at fires - for hours 3. Gin and Tonic 4. The smell of an old garage 5. Talking about philosophy Dislikes as of right now: 1. Voicemail front ends for businesses that make you hit, "3-4-2-3-5-2," IN THAT ORDER, before you can talk to a real life human 2. 15 year olds with their boobs hanging out - if you are illegal, wear a trenchcoat 3. Humidity 4. losing a pack of smokes 5. losing two packs of smokes - that were bundeled together as a "buy one, get one"
I will probably manage to disagree with nearly everyone I know with this post. I have been thinking a lot about Capitolism and Communism lately. I had a rather long conversation with my friend Mike; wherein he listed off all of the problems that he saw with profit motive. The exporting of jobs to third world countries and how he believes 90% of rich people are selfish pricks (Sorry, Oprah for the gender biased slam). Over the last few months, I have talked to my friend Jason, and his wife, who have Communist tendencies - but for all of the right reasons; and their input has helped hone my views. I am a big proponent of Capitolism, but as I listen to their many and disparate reasons for questioning this system, I have been compelled to pull out some sealed files in my mind and pour over the information once again. The following will be my tentative results. First, let me state my reasons for "liking" capitolism. One of the key premises that I start with is that man is at his root selfish. Any philosophy or political system that needs him to be otherwise, for their system to work, is automatically out. So, by default, given that premise - Capitolism beats Totalitarianism and Communism...that is, if we care about doing the most good for the most people. Communism promises to serve everyone, but in its degenerate state - Socialism - it only serves the selfishness of those at the top. Totalitarianism, technically allows for the selfishness of man, but invests the fruits of an entire society in the hands of a select few. Argumentum ad baculum. One of the second premises I consider is that a system must deliver "most opportunity for good, to most people." Granted, this is a fuzzy concept - but when in America, bums are usually fat - even the "losers" in our system seem to be beneficiaries of the system from which they washed out. My third premise is that the power of individual selfishness is harnessed with Capitolism, and that that is its "secret" for success. Second let me state the very valid benefits of Communism. First, Communists consider themselves to be as much a member of a whole, as they consider themselves to be individuals. This idea has found purchase within healthy families, the military and even conceptually among nationalists from any country. Second, communists realize the power of synergy and cooperation. A wheelbarrow I am not using costs me nothing to lend to a neighbor, but saves him quite a bit, if he can borrow mine instead of buying a new one for his exclusive use. If I have equal rights to borrow when I have need - "two" can indeed, "live more cheaply than one." Third, Communists espouse the value of caring for weaker members according to their intrinsic worth. My conclusion is that Comminusm is a horrible and deadly policy for a nation to adopt at a national level. Capitolism on the other hand, is a harsh policy when applied to homes, and churches. Hierarchical, and competitive forces within the church in particular are vitriolic to the work Jesus called them to. The solution I see it to have Capitolism as the basis for a civilization, with pockets of voluntary Communism that offset the negative side effects of Capitolism within a community. This way, when an old biddy in the church, family, or community drops a transmission in her '87 civic; everyone within her "commune" will feel the pull to assist her - AND have the capitol (money) to do something about it.
Hey all, I wanted to let everyone know about the other blog I now contribute to. It is located at http://detroit.metblog.com. Here's what Forbes had to say: If this site had a motto, it might be "Think globally, blog locally." Indeed, the Metroblog folks recruit urbane, plugged-in bloggers in each of its 30 cities worldwide--from Austin, Berlin and Montreal to Karachi, Melbourne and Manila. The result? An idiosyncratic hodgepodge of posts--some regional, some cultural, some just random thoughts. In Bangkok, posts ranged from information about a contact lens delivery service to a review of a local Brazilian eatery to a listing of travel deals designed to help revive tourism. From Istanbul, we saw posts on the collective suicide of sheep and a tennis match played on the Bosporus Bridge, which spans two continents. While a writer in Minneapolis pondered National Kissing Day, another in Vienna sent an alert on the "deepfreezeart" summer festival at a nudist beach. Or, link to Art.blogging.LA, a sister site that dishes on LA's robust art scene. Crisp white formats and big photos speed reading on sites. BEST: The only site that connects bloggers worldwide. WORST: Very little reader feedback or message board traffic. And the city list is particularly weak in Europe.
Well, for one of my first forays into the world of literature, Atlas Shrugged, I was rewarded with a head burgeoning at once with clarity and confusion. It is a searing clarity, and a sweet confusion. The clarity came in my perspective on the virtue of quality; and the confusion in how this squares with my faith. But this confusion is the invigorating sort that one feels when pitting two strong forces against one another and watching them condition one another in the struggle - it is confusion without fear. The struggle in my mind between pure Capitolism, as presented in this book, and Christianity is having the same fruitful effect in my mind - as Ayn Rand, the author of Atlas Shrugged, would argue two unconstrained competitors should enjoy in the free market. The struggle casts off the weak, leaving me with only the true things. That this book should produce an impression in my mind strong enough to cause me to examine my theology - is a testament to the cogent quality of her philosophies. This fictional story of several leaders of industry, and their fight against the stigma of selfishness; with all of its attendant policies, penalties and punishments; highlights the strange fear/love relationship man has with competency. It is this perverted desire to control that which feeds us; the weak controlling the strong; that leads us to pull down the monoliths we construct, from Bill Gates to our celebrities, to all of the members of the 45% tax bracket. We in America, hate a winner and love a loser. Because Rand paints such a vivid, and largely believable, portrait of the I-need-you-I-hate-you cycle; I was able to see the micro versions of it in my own life. "Can you help me with this letter I must write?" Becomes, "Don't try to be a show-off with your vocabulary." "Can you explain this to me?" Becomes, "I don't see why you spend so much time reading?" "I need your advise." Becomes, "You are so opinionated." I never understand those that tended to become nervous whenever anyone veered from the mean. I felt in reading this book, a vindication for my resistance to comprimise my excellence. I will be the know-it-all in their eyes if I must to satisfy my curiosity. I will be the "teachers pet" if I must in order to learn the most in class. I will have tunnel vision in their estimation, if I must in order to hit my goals. "Do not Tell - Show; Do not Promise - Prove." These simple words may change my life. I know that I want them to. What a sense of composure must a man have to resist the allure of "telling" his way into a premature reward for an action he may never commit? What kind of commitment and concentration must a man possess to do the thing first and prove it, rather than get by on a string of promises? I love the doers of this world; the self-possessed souls that skip the "ground breaking" ceremonies and simply have a "ribbon cutting" ceremony. I want to become one, through appropriate combinations of silence and action. "There are no contradictions - if you percieve one; check your premises" This is so true, and so profound, yet I have never thought it in these words. It is something that I have always suspected, but because it was a wordless thought, it had never borne out its fullest potential in my mind. There IS only objective truth. Everything flows from this fact. If I am confused, it is not the truth that has failed; it is my understanding, my assumptions, my will, or my emotions, that are decieving me. This book begs to be read twice; not because of the need for the literary climax to be felt again - but because it is a friend to those that want to be measured according to their ability and live perpetually within the climax of the reward of their labor. I want to hear "well done"...for what I did in this life and in the next. I want no copliment that is based in birthright - a hollow congratulations on the most default characteristics of my existance; rather I want to be known and luaded, when appropriate, for the things I could have NOT done, but did. Moreover, I want to love people that do not rest on the laurels they landed on when they were born; but instead ask to be valued for what they have made with what they were given. The most selfish man will appeal to you for charity based on the mere fact that he is human. The man fully alive will trade the produce of his unique humanity for the produce of yours - never denying innate human value, but also never insulting it by pawning it to your sense of pity. ...Probably more to come...
I have been sick for about a week now...well 5 days to be specific. It started like allergies. I just had some post nasal drip (nasty little term, eh?) then what began ever so manageably; transmongrified into a full-on "feel-like-***" kind of sickness. The body aches are the worst. Two (and a half?) words: aching chest-hair. Right now, my ears are clogged - I am listening to my slow key strokes as if my head were in a fish bowl and my hands were in front of me on the outside; my glasses make the effect nearly complete. Speaking of glasses - I hope to get contacts soon. My sister bought my an eye exam in Kansas when I visited on vacation earlier this summer. Now I just need to go get my "base curve" and then I get to join the ranks of all of the veteran eye-touchers. One of the wierdest, its-a-small-world-afterall experiences happened to me in my quest for contact lenses. While talking to my friend John at the Caribou Coffee by my house, I mentioned that I was going to get contacts soon. He said I should go to Lakeside mall and see a guy named Brian. The next week I was in trhe neighborhood, and went to the Lakeside D.O.C. ; the only thing was, I had forgotten Brian's name. I talked to the assistant manager instead. When we finished talking; I looked up and saw my former step-brother Brian! Come to find out, the "Brian" John sent me to was my former brother (who now works at DOC). Wierd. So, I have been reading "Atlas shrugged" by Ayn Rand during my recovery, and have enjoyed it tremendously. Hopefully I will muster the energy to condense this 1000 page tome into the few discrete things I have learned for my next post...sigh...
About 5 or 9 months ago I applied for authorhood (ship?, dom?) at a site called "metrobloggers." I liked the concept - a handful of bloggers from cities all over the world represent their 'hoods and burroughs for the peeping-tommery of the world audience. I think it is a quasi-honor...there aren't that many writers for each city and it is cut off after a 15 or so. They tell me we should be opening our doors next week. Just in time for a few screeds from me on how ill prepared we are for the superbowl. For those of you who always knew I was an underground hipster - here's the proof you have needed to lure me out of the hip-kid closet... In other news, I also applied for and have been pretty much accepted as a "freelance" writer for "the webs largest Christian web forum" Woo-hoo. I think it will be a good opportunity for me to use whatever leverage I can get to spread the rarest of virtues: Truth. I look forward to throwing my voice out further. In other other news, I wrote my first honest-to-goodness press release...wanna see? FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Kakos Courts the Southfield City Council Southfield, MI July 18, 2005 Robert Kakos, a longtime resident of Southfield, has filed the appropriate papers at the city offices, and is in the running for one of the vacancies to be filled in the 2005 election for city council. On the council, he hopes to combine the skills he has acquired in the military and civilian service with his passion for excellence to improve the quality of life for its residents. Mr. Kakos has three principle aims in his campaign: Support for the police and fire departments; reduction of property taxes; and improved communication within city government, and between the government and the citizens. As a veteran of the Marine Corps, where his was to protect the country at large, he is concerned with the current policy of attrition within Southfield’s police department that compromises the protection of his local community. Currently, many of the spots that are created when an officer retires remain vacant; the net result of this policy is a reduced police presence – he has committed to reversing this trend. Mr. Kakos says he knows the frustration of high property tax burden on homeowners, and the indirect effect felt by renters. This money, he feels, would be better directed to help support the local economy. Coupled with efficiency within the Southfield city government, lowered taxes will improve the conditions of the families within the city. In a coordinated effort involving all departments within city hall, Mr. Kakos hopes to infuse the methods he has learned as director of technology (College of Engineering, Wayne State University) into Southfield’s current systems to help citizens and businesses alike receive the information and permits they need - quickly and reliably. -30-
A friend of mine had her birthday on Tuesday. I don't care much for birthdays as a rule. But I realize that that is because of my own inability to revere one calendar day over another, rather than my inability to value one person over another. I do value some people over others - her more than most. She has an inexhaustible supply of enthusiasm. This enthusiasm flavors every moment spent with her. And while I haven't always agreed with the particular things she is excited about; I have always been impressed at how deep the wells are that she draws from. She has what can only be termed a gift for encouragement. The consistency with which she can affirm a person when it is most needed sets her apart as one of the few people that I always enjoy spending time with. The way she wields her encouragement expertly and genuinely, I must admit the selfishness in my desire to hang out with her. She posseses a sensitivity to herself, and to her environment that is at once disarming and essentially human. This ability gives her insight into the thoughts of those around her and deepens her friendships. (However; this also removes from her arsenal, the defense of ignorance. In short, she knows more than she lets on about the intent of her words!) :) She has built for herself a woman, fashioned from the raw ingredients of heredity, tempered with the fires of circumstance, and mixed with the lessons of age, covered in the virtues of Christ. Now that she is built, I look expectantly to the next 25 years to see where this woman will go. Happy Birthday.
In Christian circles, the idea of "embracing mystery" has attracted a lot of support lately. As recently as a year ago I believed in this worldview wholeheartedly. I have done some thinking and soul searching and the following are my conclusions. But before I begin: I agree right off the bat that a lot of people will say that my point is simply semantic. I agree that they will say that - I do not agree that it is. It is as different as "loving cancer" is from "accepting that cancer exists." I will also concede that many who have used the term: "embracing mystery;" may mean it in the sense that I define "accepting mystery." My sincere hope in all of this is not that everyone agrees with me - but that everyone that reads this thinks about what he believes for himself; is sure of what he can know; and accepts what he cannot - but is not content to love the fact that he is not sure if he agrees, if in fact he does not agree. During the Enlightenment especially, and all throughout Modernity in general; mankind has sacrificed mystery on the altar of logic. In his ersatz attempt to subdue the chaos he found around him, he made one of two decisions. First: anything that was known was codified. Second: anything that was not known was systematically quarantined and slandered (or explained out of existance). The first reaction to his newfound ability to apply objective measures to life around him led to map the stars in their actual trajectories rather than uphold the myths and superstitions of the past. Man tested, poked, and prodded - then hypothesized, theorized and arranged. The sum total of this approach led us ultimately led us to germ theory, modern medicine and psychoanalysis. This legacy should be upheld today. This was the positive outcome of modernity. The second reaction; to quarantine and avoid what was not understood; led us in more recent times to dismiss entirely the validity of any system of thought that included religion or faith. Mixing a little evidence of impropriety with a good dose of "modern thought" yielded a poultice that could be applied to any issue and suss out the faithful for quacks and their beliefs as a form of self-dillusion...Well thats not entirely fair...Religion was allowed to have validity as long as it was willing to share with other religions its claim of exclusive truth. Enter relativism. After years of quarantining and slandering; patronizing and condescending; mankind never seemed to learn their lesson that truth is only what is seen. Men seemed to have this innate tendency to supplement their daily carbonic existance with an archaic form of appreciation for the role of "the gods." Science could not poke or prod this form of expression, and so could not cast judgement on the merits of one expression over another. Man could not do without this form expression; which illuminated his otherwise mundane existance. A comprimise was in order. Relativism gave the scientists the enviable ability to mollify the masses and avoid any specific accusation of academic impropriety. "Everyone is right" was the slogan. "If its good for you - great" was the anthem. The great Unsolved was never solved, it was simply insulted into a cowering submission to the fact that; because it was not provable emirically; it wasn't worth fighting over. A left-handed compliment: "Your religion is OK for you." Recently, there has been a backlash against this patronizing. What form of good was in the radical Islam that killed 3000 American's that day? What form that killed three dozen in London this past week? Is it limited to Muslims? No. An emphatic "No." In fact, we cannot look at any point in history with the frosted lenses of relativism. The Salem trials were a farse; the crusades were a ploy; the crucifixion of the only perfect man was an outrage. Truth must be regarded as such without regard to its immediate measurability - or else its foil will become measurable in the lives it takes. The current reaction to the problem of Mystery is to "embrace" it. To love it. At face value this is appealing. No one under the influence of true conviction wants to half-step. We know, as people of faith who have been mislead over the last 400 years, that mystery cannot be fully known as the modernists taught us. We know that it cannot be brought into artificial parity with its rivals as relativism taught us. In our attempt to "right the ship," it is tempting to begin to "love mystery," as a comprimise. This response is several shades east of accepting it and several west of dismissing it. And it is no more correct than its predecessors. A plant that is best grown in shade will not thrive in the dark or the sun. It will grow in the tension. To worship, embrace or adore mystery is to sanction man's abdication of his role as discoverer of what God created. As humans, we are in the only business that has ever been our business: to understand God and his creation, and to live by his rules - resulting in his glorification and our joy as his creation. There is no joy in LOVING that which we have yet to discover. There is only joy, and truth is RECOGNIZING what we have yet to discover. There is humility in accepting that we do not know; not in loving that we do not know. There is direction to be found in unveiling the path; not in relishing our position as one who is lost. God is to the Christian a companion that infuses his self into all of what he has made and compels us to parse out that which is essentially him from his clues. He has always revealed in steps that do not eradicate, but istead fortify the steps previous. The church is built on the gospel; which is built on the life of the Son of God; whose life fulfilled the Torah; which was written by men that were decendants of the first man God created. We have as the "class of 2005" the aggregate of all that God has revealed at our disposal. Are we to bathe in our ignorance as some badge of progressive thought? No. What we are to do is to simply recognize that there exists is a great deal of revealed truth that shares a border border with as-of-yet undiscovered rules. Contradictions do not exist, they only appear to exist due to lack of context on our part as finite beings. There is a universal, overarching system whose components are not fully known, yet whose effects are fully felt with every gut-level knowledge of right and wrong, in the excruciatingly intricate workings of nature and in every act of goodwill. These things serve as sign posts pointing not to limitless chaos but to unknown mystery. Mystery always loves to be revealed. Chaos loves to remain obscure. The God of Adam, the God of Jacob, and the God of Jesus has proven that he is the former. And the people of that God will always accept the challenge and uncover Mystery and avoid any attempt to dismiss it, obscure it or embrace it.
"A military report presented before the Senate Armed Services Committee stated the Saudi man, described as the "20th hijacker" slated to have participated in the September 11, 2001, attacks on America, was forced by interrogators to wear a bra and had women's thong underwear placed on his head.
U.S. interrogators also told him he was a homosexual, forced him to dance with a male interrogator, told him his mother and sister were whores, forced him to wear a leash and perform dog tricks, menaced him with a dog and subjected him to interrogations up to 20 hours a day for about two months, the report said."
Who says the news is only bad news? I am genuinely glad to hear that these miserable sub-humans are being treated like the refuse they have proven themselves to be. It is true that "all men are created equal" - it takes immoral bastards like these to show how deep of a deficit he can reach.
Couple things: 1. My boss asked me to be on the steering commitee for his bid to join Southfield city council. What is the "steering commitee you might ask? Well. I will tell you. It is the group of people that are on that persons team. I will most likely be doing a lot of writing and meeting with churches and schools. I really do think that he will do a good job in the position and I am proud to help him get there. 2. I found out I was sent a Michigan competitive scholarship...I was depressed about my grades because I knew I could have done better. But I'll take the State's money - God knows they take mine! I don't want to jinx this - knock on synthetic particle board desk - but it feels like things are turning around for me these days. So to recap, I have a little more money, a little respect for my hard work from Big Brother, an opportunity to be on a "steering comittee" (which sounds uber-cool when I say it...like its some Senate thing or something) now I just need a girl, a cute dog and an iPod. :)
I have a hard time remembering to go to all of the different blogs I want to keep up with. All that laborious clicking...I mean...sheesh, who has all of that extra energy? But there are these programs called RSS readers that take all of the blogs (and many other regularly updated webpages) and create "feeds" that you can subscribe to. It is very close to subscribing to a newspaper and having it delivered versus going out each day to a newsstand. The RSS agregator I use is called bloglines. Once you have set up a free account with this service, you simply bookmark 1 page. This page has ALL of the feed from all of the other blogs all listed on one screen. This is very cool if you want the info brought to you. At the bottom of this page there is a blue box that has my feed information. Once you have and RSS reader (or agregatoras it is sometimes called), this will be the "feed" your reader uses. You will simply click on the box and it will ask you if you want to add it to your feeds. You say yes and go from there. The other method is to open up your reader, cleck, "add feed" and type in my site.
It is a popular exercise among ''thinkers" in every discipline to question even the most accepted of assumptions within their field. Some dissent is correct and does us a great service in our struggle to understand creation; and some dissent leads us to fall off the planes of logic upon which wisdom is built. That said, l will be cautious as I proceed, aware that I may unwittingly align myself with the latter. As the product of a Christian upbringing I have been imbued with this notion of a rich ''personal walk" with Christ, to be received as payment for my sound theology and not having sex before I am married. I was told countless rags-to-riches tales of disallusioned non-Christians having epiphanies that led them into a perpetual state of pseudo-orgasm and spiritual rapture once inside the church. I felt ashamed of my own lack of "relationship" with Jesus. As a counter-point to this inadequacy, I should mention that I have had some events in my life that seemed a little too coincidental not to be supernatural...I have had a successful run of it as a leader within Christian circles. All of these things convince me of the reality of my relationship with God, but through it all, I have always felt a sense of righteous duty, rather than overwhelming love as my source of strength. I do believe that a personal relationship is possible, but rare, and not necessary for salvation. In fact, there are big problems with presuming to be friends with God when you are merely a Christian: you quit looking for the actual thing because you think you already have it; it is prideful; and it introduces a lot of obnoxious and trite customs into an otherwise beautiful religion. We stop eating when we are full, we stop drinking when our thirst is sated, and we stop pursuing a real relationship with God when we feel things are as good as they get. I have not yet harnessed the wind of human fickleness or stopped the dam of knee-jerk selfishness. So instead of pretending I have, I am abolishing my pretenses and offering my pathetic allegiance to God as it is and asking him to make our relationship, in his time, what it should be. There was, "a disciple whom Jesus loved;" I hope to be a Christian that achieves this greater intimacy as well - but I will not angle for it through prideful appropriation, instead I will be contrite and hopefully maleable as he bends me to his service.
Here's a letter I sent all over the place...I'll let you all know if I get published in the local paper :)
Last week I visited my family in Kansas and spent a good deal of time with my sister. One evening we visited her youth group, the following are some thoughts I had during the night. I read a banner that was hanging or a wall at my sisters youth group meeting room and it had notes from many of the students to God, expressing their love for him, and thanking him for his love for them. That coupled with their giddy optimism reminded me strongly of a time in my life when things made more sense to me...That is not to say that I "understand" less now - but it almost seems that the more I understand: the less life makes sense. The sincerity with which these kids sang worship music set up a high standard that made my worship seem to fall out like gravel. It was an ache that somehow felt good in a longing sort of way, like catching a whiff of "home" but knowing you can't ever return. Kinda sad when I read it over again, but I guess its good to know that that part of me isn't dead...
Freakonomics: This was a great book. The author set out to solve the riddle behind some of the most perplexing and sometimes inane patterns in society, using the rarest of all methods: empirical evidence. He tackled such issues as the negative correlation between abortion and crime; the likelihood of cheating among sumo wrestlers and american school teachers; and why crack dealers still live with their mom's. The book was always interesting, sometimes funny, and occasionally irksome - with regard to his copout conclusions about abortion. How the Irish saved civilization: I picked this up, upon recommendation of a friend. The book takes two tracks, simultaneously. The first is a chronological history of Europe, beginning just before the fall of Rome, and ending in earnest at the Renaissance (he does speed through subsequent history up to present day in the last couple pages). The second track is biographical sketches of some of the preeminent figures during those times; including, Augustine, and St.Patrick. I have a special place in my heart for the rough, genuine, and yet subtle people that come from that part of the world. I finished the book convinced of their contribution to humanity through their pursuit of knowledge while the rest of the west was crumbling Letters to a young Conservative: Dinesh O'Souza was an analyst for the Bush Sr. administration; as a foreigner, born in India he offers a unique perspective on the American political debates. He is a consumate conservative with a contrarian flair. This book is a series of letters written to a college student named Chris that outline succinctly the conservative stance on a variety of issues along with a brief rationale as to why. The book is good at what it is good at and that is outlining a series of stances - it is not a thorough defence.
Well, I will be taking a sabattical from blogging for about a week (I do reserve the right to post while I am away; however :) I am going to Kansas to visit my mom, her husband and my sister. I am looking forward to spending sometime sitting on a back porch staring at vast expanses of corn for hours on end while drinking coffee. It is kind of like what I experience day in and day out in Detroit, except in Detroit I stare at vast expanses of blight and drink coffee...so I guess the coffee and the staring are the same...well two out of three ain't bad. I have been thinking a lot about balance again lately. I see the necessity for balance in so many areas. I was talking to two of my new friends J and A. J and I talk a lot of religion and politics; usually he is further left than I am, but for all of the right reasons. So I talk about the benefits of capitalism, in that it makes services better, cheaper, and distributed more effectively. He will usually bring up the exploitation that is woven into that system. The cool thing about our talks is it has for me crystallized a thought that has always been there but never fully formed. After talking to people that believe in communism at some length, and then thinking about the benefits of capitalism, I have come to believe that the solution is a hybrid. I believe the best system would be Macro-capitalism, with pockets of voluntarily Micro-communism. In the macro sense, we need the natural checks and balances, competition and the distribution that capitalism provides; but we need the sense of community, hey-can-I-borrow-a-cup-of-sugar, social nets of strong families and churches. The problem is, right now that symbiotic relationship is being screwed up by both sides. The church is a miserable failure when it comes to operating in a sense of community, it no longer even has congregants (which is a far cry from 'brother' and 'sister' already) now we have been downgraded, I kid you not, to "Giving units." That is a verbatim description for the office held by the average guy that came to a church on Sunday, at a church I used to attend. Decisions are made in one of two ways: By comittee, and by fiat. This is typical though in most churches. Then, we have the government that wants to keep you on its tit from birth to death through its myriad big brother programs. Social security, welfare, food stamps and 'we are keeping your money even if your kid doesn't attend school here' school systems are all socialist constructs to keep us needing them, and paying them. It is like a couple from Jerry Springer. The Church is impotent and the State is smothering. I will probably write more on this later...
The ideas for this mini-epiphany came from a few sources. One of the people that alluded to this principle most directly was my boss. He mentioned it with regard to a specific situation, but I feel its application is much broader. The theory that I am toying around with, came about when I began to think about the differences between perception and reality, and how this gap could be leveraged to add more enjoyment to life. In econ 101, I learned about this principle that stated that up to a certain point, adding resources to your production would add a signifigant amount of yield. The problem is, after the equilibrium point - all additional resources yield proportionatly less and less results. Oprah magazine ran a story that basically said: You will make the greatest advances in your happiness getting up to 40K...each dollar after that is less and less satisfying. The same with music, in my experience. I can listen to any music in the world - and I try to "broaden my horizons - but I usually come up short when I expect to find the next band that will blow my mind. I guess have learned that there can only be one 'Hootie and the Blowfish' for each generation
EOG Test Question Defies The Rules Of Football The state's test writers tried to come up with a math question about football and ended up with a fumble. Raleigh, NC --On an end-of-grade test this month, seventh-graders had to calculate the average gain for a team on the game's first six plays. But the team did not gain ten yards for a first down on the first four plays and would have lost possession before a fifth and sixth play. Athletics director Gene Daniels of Apex's Salem Middle School says whoever wrote the question didn't think it through. Mildred Bazemore is the chief of the state Department of Public Instruction's test development section. Basemore says the question makes sense mathematically and has nothing to do with football. Associated Press Ethan Edwards , Web Producer created: 5/21/2005 5:07:25 PM Last updated: 5/21/2005 5:22:29 PM ...I read the above article on some Raleigh NC, news website and sent the station this email: "I laughed when I read your online article about a poorly written word problem on a middle school math test. I found it ironic that the source you contacted on the side of the educators apparently has two spellings for their name, 'Mildred Bazemore is the chief of the state Department of Public Instruction's test development section. Basemore says the question makes sense mathematically and has nothing to do with football.' Thanks for the chuckle! :) " ...Well, I found it ironic...
My last post was melancholy to be sure. The flip-side to my feelings of being behind can best be demonstrated by how ahead I am with the quality of friendships I have. For a couple of months, unbeknownst to me, they had been planning a surprise party for last Thursday. The set-up was as clever as any I have ever seen. I was led to believe that I would be spending the night doing security with my best friend; only to be taken to another friends house, where a room full of close friends and great food awaited me. The girl I believe to be the ringleader of this conspiracy, had been doing recon work for some time, and had figured out my favorite foods (off-brand cheetos, chicken and feta in a crossaint, nachos and German chocolate cake - served with vodka/grapfruit in a salt rimmed glass); we celebrated my ability to stay alive so long and then watched "office space"...staying up well into the wee hours of the next morning. These people are friends of mine; namely because I am a picky person, and they have passed my tests of being good-looking, smart, and interesting - and because they put up with (and I daresay sometimes even enjoy) my intensity and philosophical proclivities. Thank you, all of my friends - for your love and respect - and know that I love and respect each of you as well! Here's to me getting my two wishes! ;)
"I want to see miracles, see the world change Wrestled the angel, for more than a name For more than a feeling For more than a cause I'm singing Spirit take me up in arms with You And You're raising the dead in me Twenty four voices With twenty four hearts With all of my symphonies In twenty four parts. I'm not copping out. Not copping out. Not copping out." Switchfoot, "24" Written the day before he turned 25. Last night was my last night in my early twenties. "pencils down, turn your tests in towards the center aisle." It was as though all of the angst about "where I am in life" culminated into two numbers, a "2" and a "5." I think maybe the Jehovah's Witnesses have the right idea on not celebrating birthdays. Charles Russell probably didn't graduate college until he was 30 either. Ok, maybe I am projecting, but it is tough to look around at all of the marriages, graduations and first houses - and not feel a little behind. When I look at momentum though, rather than just position; I think I can live with where I am at. I have built communication and business skills throughout the last several years, through a combination of work experience and self directed study and I see these abilities being put to use more and more. The "catch" is that I cannot prove this yet, because I lack the piece of paper - so at 25 I am still a freshman. My life is now two-stories tall - high enough to have a pretty good view of what is going on; and high enough to look down and have my stomach flutter.
---WARNING: spoiler--- I had heard mixed reviews about "Sideways." The rule seems to be that if you hear mixed reviews, it could be good, bad, or somewhere in between (the rule also seems to apply to movies that are said to be "good," as well as movies that are considered "bad"). For what it is worth I think the movie is "good." The plot centers around Miles - another victim of the trendy cult of the "mid-life crisis." At forty-something Miles, an author and wholly embittered divorcee finds himself organizing a two-man bachelor party for his best friend (its the guy that played Loel on the sitcom, "wings") all the while dealing with his ambivalence towards life. Set in California, much of their trip involves tasting wine from the the various wineries that dot the coast. While I appreciate a well shot, or creative movie, I am a narrative junkie. That is what really carried this high-brow re-tread of "Swingers." The movie's central metaphor of wine, when discussed in the film, suggested to the audience the manner in which we must understand the character development that we are shown - we are supposed to notice the subtleties of metaphor, and linger on the nuanced acting in order to understand the thesis. This thesis is revealed most obliquely in a conversation between Miles and his romantic interest Maya toward the end of the film. Miles finds himself in the company of a woman that is as passionate about wine as he is. As they describe what they appreciate about rare Pinot Grigios there is an allusion to Mile's belief that life must all come together at once in order to merit celebrating its joys. Miles is hesitant to open a vintage bottle that was reserved for a wedding anniversary that can never come, now that he is divorced. Maya counters that when he opens the bottle that that is the special occasion. Essentially, her advice is a mixture of, "don't cry over spilled milk" and "don't wait for all of the lights to be green before you start the trip" If this sounds like movies you have seen before...You have. It seems there are few original plots left to be discovered. Like a toddler, we seem to want the same story told to us over and over again...Unlike toddlers we want to be surprised each time. I liked this plot when it was called "American Beauty," I loved it when it was called, "Good Will Hunting," and I laughed at it when it went by, "Swingers." That this film broke no new ground, hardly disqualifies it from being one of my "new favorite" flicks. I, for one, really need to hear these stories - to stop crying about the milk, and to be patient with the red lights. This story also helped me appreciate the fact that I am not, as a person, a "f*****g Merlot." I have, through my choices and stances, begun to trade my chance for universal appeal for the love of a devoted few - and I am OK with this, as I consider that this principle defines good wine, good movies, and great men alike.
---WARNING: spoiler--- Possibly eclipsing "Titanic" as the most over-rated movie of all time. "Ray" tells the story of the prolific musical career, and backwards lifestyle of one of America's most beloved and, at times, resented entertainers. Ray Charles was born in the mid 20th century and was blessed with the opportunity to perform his music and lead a relatively self-directed lifestyle, impressive by itself; all the more so, considering the disadvantages he overcame to do so. The movie (as best I can tell, without being there myself) accurately depicted living in the "Jim Crow" south as a black man, and offered insights into the difficulties and lonliness that he felt as a blind performer, husband, son, and friend. In addition to the judicious treatment of these issues; the movie was painted beautifully and through its camera angles and effects, had a consistently good "eye." With that said, I was left severly dissapointed with the subject matter. Perhaps "Ray" was too accurate in its depiction of its main character. Ray Charles was a miserable wretch of a human throughout the bulk of the film, and only mediocre after his turn-around. His lonliness did not translate into a deeper love for the women that bore his children (two were shown). The movie was fraught with examples of his selfishness and decisions that led him to hurt everyone that ever loved him. After promising his mother that he would lead a life of self-sufficiency and self-respect; he went on to become a heroin addict, and womanizer. Even his "turn-around" was tainted by the fact that it was only achieved through the triumph of one form of selfishness over another. I do not as a rule hold length against a film; different stories require different amounts of celluloid. I do mind using more than is necessary. I could have swore that the first thirty years of his life were real-time. With that said; I began this movie wanting to like this man for his contribution to civil rights, and for his clear giftedness on the piano; however, I finished the movie finding Ray to be an anti-hero. His lack of charm, lack of integrity, and lack of contrition for the pain he caused, left me wishing Georgia could once again be on my mind - without evoking the image of a junkie playing the piano.
As much as it might be fun for life to make perfect sense - it won't play along, and in fact, seems designed specifically to evade the tentacles of our understanding and our attempts to control it. Case in point; in astronomy, we began by believing we lived on a flat earth - and that did a pretty good job of explaining how we could walk around never doubting that the ground beneath our feet was as straight as an arrow. That theory eventually gave way to a round (spherical) Earth...and of course, because the sun set and rose relative to us, we percieved that we were at the center of the universe...later, we conceded that we (and the rest of the planets) were in fact moving around the sun...then we came to the realization that our round ball of a planet (and its brothers and sisters) were travelling around our sun in a variety of patterns not in the simple circles we first thought...subsequent discoveries showed us that this whole massive solar system was itself swirling within a galaxy, and this galaxy swirling within the universe. At a bible study last night the issue of dealing with idolatry within in the Christian communities was raised. After a lengthy discussion, and many good points made by those that were present, there were still no iron-clad conclusions reached. There was the tension of being commanded by Jesus to forgive "seven times seventy;" seemingly in opposition to "expelling the immoral brother." There was the necessity of studying scripture as the source of our instruction; being balanced with the need to be directed by God's spirit. All of these points are valid - all are derived from scripture. Knowing this only served to make matters more slippery. I suspect that we are in the same position as the early farmer when he first heard that his flat field was actually slightly convex; who then looked out at his straight rows of ancient corn, scratched his head, and declared that while it IS TRUE - it is hard to reconcile with the world he sees around him. We desire a "cut and dry" world for many reasons. 1. We truly want to honor God with our decisions, and see ambiguity as an obstacle. 2. We are perfectionists and results driven people and are offended that life's code will not be cracked for our pleasure. 3. We are fixated on being "right," and not knowing drives us crazy. In any case, our focus must be on being who we are supposed to be, instead of obsessing about the "what ifs." That is not to say that we should give up on the idea of truth, simply because we do not have the faculties to ever possess it in its purest form. Nor does it mean that we should avoid discussing difficult paradoxes which we encounter; on the contrary, it is because we have the confidence borne out of the grounding relationship with God himself, that we can feel safe exploring life's mystery. We can jump from any height with our Father present. Left on our own we try to strip the mystery from the faith intead of learning to love the relationship with God. Life is wet, not cut and dry...and I am learning how to balance the absolutes of doctrine with the messiness of its application. It is not always pretty, but it is real.
Portions of a recent article on the devestating effects of abortion on later, "Wanted" children as posted in news.telegraph.co.uk Having an abortion almost doubles a woman's risk of giving birth dangerously early in a later pregnancy, according to research that will provoke fresh debate over the most controversial of all medical procedures...Dr Moreau said: "Clearly there is a link. The results suggest that induced abortion can damage the cervix in some way that makes a premature birth more likely in subsequent pregnancies."...Her study compared the medical histories of 2,219 women with babies born at less than 34 weeks with another 618 who had given birth at full term. Overall, women who had had an abortion were 40 per cent more likely to have a very pre-term delivery (less than 33 weeks) than those without such a history. The risk of an extremely premature baby - one born at less than 28 weeks - was raised even more sharply, by 70 per cent. Abortion appeared to increase the risk of most major causes of premature birth, including premature rupture of membranes, incorrect position of the foetus on the placenta and spontaneous early labour. The only common cause of premature birth not linked to abortion was high blood pressure...''We have been saying for years that surgical abortion inevitably increases the risk of later problems. It seems that the abortion procedure carries with it risks that women will know nothing about until they become pregnant with a 'wanted' child later on." full article
African-American. The word has a sophisticated feel to it - not too disimilar from Rodham-Clinton, or boxer-brief. Somehow hyphenations seem to describe something or someone with a greater accuracy than previous monikers were able. Hillary Clinton wants us to know that she did not lop off her testicles when she exchanged vows with her pacifist husband. Hanes' newest iteration of the undergarment promises a similar comprimise...A little of the old style you liked, with all of the benefit of the new. Along with the perenial confusion that hyphenated descriptions inflict upon those that would attempt to write them (is it two words or one?), they seem to often carry with them a likelihood that what the are describing is only half of a solution. By touting this quasi dual citizenship, a black person implies, "I am not wholly African"; which is to say, "I would not buy a plane ticket to go fight a war on that continent" (hat tip to 'MM' for that litmus test), and, "I am not fully American"; in other words, "I do not consider myself to be fully a part of the land in which I live" - especially not to the extent that I am able to dispense with the modifiers in referring to my nationality. It is the equivalent to never taking one's clothes off in front of one's wife...Perhaps more comfortable for them, but hardly sending warm feelings to their wife. More than a euphamism that is simply designed to express loyalty to forefathers, it is (or should be) an afront to any who would unabashedly call this country home. The other quite obvious argument against this asinine made up nationality, is that in a country whose citizens are increasingly diverse; it is less and less likely to be accurate. The black population hovers around one eighth of the total population; a consequence - Americans who have come from all over the world, whose skin is as dark as one might find in Africa, are mislabled as "African-American" each day. Whenever we replace a genuine descriptor with a political or social commentary, be it "African-American," or "Nigger," we have lowered the bar of possibility for true discourse. Person of Color. Admittedley a less common expression that "African American;" its implicit meaning (white people can point out code words too, right?) is far more insidious. It is an anti-definition actually. It is as non-specific of a title as is possible, with the exception of stating quite clearly that one is not White. Consider if the term were "persons of foreskin," were in wide circulation to describe ALL of the people in a land...all of the people except the Jews. Would not this cleverly crafted phrase be immediately seen as the anti-Semite pabalum that it is? Of course it would. And this same righteous indignation would be heard across America, if it were not for the fact that white people are given the clear message that they should either agree to any new terminology or just "be seen and not heard." As a small point of fact, caucasians are "persons of Color" as well; what with their melanin and all - unless of course this term were invented for the express purpose of excluding albinos. Discrimination. This word has been the victim of wordism. That is to say; unfair treatment based entirely upon the way it sounded and with total disregard to the contents of its meaning. To discriminate, means simply to be able to tell the difference between things. The same mental tool that causes us to admire MLK for his role in leading blacks out of tyranny, and despise Margaret Sanger for her role in blacks to their deaths. This tool helps us to evaluate our own progress as humans, from year to year. For all that this word could add to the complex dialogue surrounding racial tension in our land, it cannot crawl out from under the weight of the connontation it now shoulders. Gone are "discrimination," "prejudice," "profiling," and "stereotype." They are the lepers of our language; whipping boys for the ersatz attempt at racial equality through newspeak. I might be one of about three people on the face of this Earth that see Martin Luther King Jr. as more than a good name for a street in the ghetto; or as the guy that got me out of a day of work; for I see him as a man whose commitment to justice was unflinching, even to the point of death. Dr. King was a brilliant orator, and I would choose his company right now, during these turbulent times, over nearly anyone's, besides my Father's or Christ himself. His dream, unlike the hateful and ignorant blatherings of separatists like DuBois, Malcolm X, and Farrakan; was otherworldy in its wisdom and magnitude. Had Dr. King known of the mind numbing, straw grasping attempts to hijack his dream through the employment of divisive semantics; it is certain that they would have been added to the list of qualities for which he did NOT want his children to be judged. But instead the militants would have us believe that no black really calls America home; that it is every other skin tone versus the whites (or possibly albinos); but that we are dumb if we can tell the difference. Clearly, it is not the intention of most people who use any of these terms, to willfully perpetuate the cycles of systemic ignorance. Unfortunately, like slavery, and abortion, doing nothing is neccesarily supporting it. It behoves us all; as Americans, as Men, and as Women, as students, as friends, neighbors, as those that learn from history, those that look to the future with a sense of responsibility for it tugging at our gut; to dispense with these mean and underhanded labels and continue instead on the well lit, but uphill path of forming community wherever we are - with whomever we meet.
A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic. ~ Joseph Stalin. "Because bunnies are such adorable little critters, people are hopping mad about a Web site called savetoby.com, filled with photos and even a video of a cute rabbit named Toby, accompanied by a threat on his life. On June 30, 2005, Toby will die," proclaims an anonymous author on the site. "I am going to eat him. God as my witness, I will devour this little guy unless I receive $50,000 into my account." The site also contains several recipes for cooking Toby. One, for Lapin Braise, lists as the prime ingredient: "1 Toby cut in serving-sized pieces." Animal lovers, like Sue Brennan, who runs a shelter called "Rabbit Haven" in Gig Harbor, Washington, are outraged. "I think it's purely emotional blackmail and it was all designed to get a reaction," says Brennan. "The reaction he is looking for is money." She and other animal rights activists have been calling for it to be taken down. " full story Rabbits are legal to eat in this country. No one denies the legality of what these anonymous omnivors are doing; yet I do not hear any cries that "It is a pet owners right to choose!" or "you can't judge them - you don't know their story." Ironically, the owners of the site have recieved several death threats from irate animal rights enthusiasts. Oh, wait thats not irony. Irony means, "incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs." That is the animal rights groups party line: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), one of the most outspoken of such groups, says, "PETA does not have a position on the abortion issue, because our focus as an organization is the alleviation of the suffering inflicted on nonhuman animals." So, while the group does consider humans mammals, we are singled out as being tangential to their goal of "alleviation of...suffering" for animals. On the subject of human animals (the species for which I feel the most connection) there is little ever spoken of the pain caused during abortions. One google click away I found this: "When doctors first began invading the sanctuary of the womb, they did not know that the unborn baby would react to pain in the same fashion as a child would. But they soon learned that he would."- Dr. A. Liley, Prof. of Fetology, University of Aukland, New Zealand. "By 13.5 to 14 weeks, the entire body surface, except for the back and the top of the head, are sensitive to pain." -The Development of the Brain by S. Reinis and J. Goldman "The fetus needs to be heavily sedated. The changes in heart rate and increase in movement suggest that these stimuli are painful for the fetus."-Valman & Pearson, "What the Fetus Feels," British Med. Jour., Jan. 26, 1980. ". . . the hub of the needle in the woman's belly has jerked. First to one side. Then to the other side. Once more it wiggles, is tugged, like a fishing line nibbled by a sunfish. It is the fetus that worries thus." -R. Selzer, "What I Saw in Abortion," Esquire, pp. 66-67 The sad thing is that while all of this information is true, truth has never been as compelling as we pretend that it is. It is true that life begins at conception. It is true that the child that is killed feels that betrayal. It is true that 46 million babies have been slaughtered on the alter of convenience. But like "Uncle Joe" Stalin said, thats just a "statistic." Besides, who can be worried about all of that carnage, when there is a nonhuman animal (more specifically a rabbit named Toby) that is slated to be eaten soon, whose life we need to band together and save.
In no particular order; this is what was on my mind this weekend. First, I talked with one of my friends this weekend, and during the course of our conversation I stumbled on a roadblock I have to being exceptional. I realize that with my father not being around, I don't have the assurance that the path I choose for my life would meet up to his standards. Specifically, as I sharpen my skills in writing, and find myself drawn to the theoretical parts of life - like quantum physics and communications theories - I am drifting from his very clear affinity for here-and-now get-things-done form of success measurement. Is there some sort of adjustment for inflation I can make that would allow me to realistically expect that he would have found my line of work wothwhile, had he lived longer and I could have explained it to him? Can I find some surragate father figures that are as hard nosed as he was (so that their encouragement would be deemed well earned) that also appreciate the type of interests I have? I don't know. But I take comfort in the fact that I understand a little better the dilema I am in. Second, I realized that a big reason I took the most recent church split as hard as I did, is that I have an intellectual and respect based faith; that is relatively low on the one-on-one relational part of being a Christian. In sum, I am a Christian because it is true and it, "works" - not so much because it "feels good." This is partially by choice. Years ago I committed to not be an emotional roaler coaster when it came to living according to the principles of Christianity. And I still believe that that was a good decision overall. I think what I am realizing is that what began as a commitment became a prohibition. Again, I do not have any corresponding epiphay that tells me what to do with this understanding, but I'll kep thinking about it, and look for times when I might be making choices to clam up, and then...try not to.
I was talking to my friend this morning about how effiminate worship music is within Christianity. As I see it, the purpose of worship music is to remind the followers of the religion about the characteristics of God. Is God loving, and merciful, and tender? Yes, yes, and yes. But those three things are as sufficient to express all of who God is, in the way a steak could be described as "warm" and "moist"; accurate, but hardly sufficient to do justice to either. The same God that admonished the Jews of the New Testament to care for the poor through the story of the Good Samaritan; killed a whole bunch of Egyptians because of their disobedience. This God turned over tables in the temple; evicted the early inhabitants of the garden of Eden for their trangressions; and he will judge the Earth someday with the same white hot wrath that was present when he judged Sodom and Gomhorrah. As men; as image bearers of the masculine characteristics of God; as the sex that has populated the militaries of the world throughout all history, we have equal right and responsibility to express in song, word and deed the image WE bear. I want to see songs written that resonate with men, real men, in the same way these songs of Christ's tenderness speak to women. It will be a good day, if ever a guitar tunes, and lyrics like the following come on the screen: "One day we will kick Satan's ass for all the pain he's caused - Hallelujah. He will rot in eternal damnation in a display of justice the world has never before seen. By doing this, the world will be made right again - Praise the God in Heaven that can do this!"