Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Okay, no.

Rejected Title for My Paper:
Abortion: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Womb

Sunday, April 28, 2002

Weird...my latest post never shows up...curses, it's that liberal media again!

Trying so hard to finish this paper...must not blog...must exercise restraint...Cap'n, she cannae take much more o' this...nnnngggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Saturday, April 27, 2002

Quotes of the Day:

"Da*n hippies...they want to save the earth, but all they do is smoke pot and smell bad..."
-Eric Cartman

"Fight the power, refuse to shower!"
-Protein Wisdom

Friday, April 26, 2002

Okay, Consie God-ists doesn't quite have the same right to it as Consie Christers, so I've reverted. Protestants are at the top, Catholics are at the bottom, and the Episcopalian Blithering Idiot is right in the middle (not that one group is necessarily better than the other, but I had to divvy it up somehow). Jewish bloggers are back in their own section now, but since I haven't seen any theology on their sites, so I figured it wouldn't be correct to lump them in with the theological bloggers (aka Augustinian Posse, aka St. Augustine's Wonder Boys, aka The Catacombs, aka Consie Christers). Look for more theological posts here as classes wrap up.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

It occurs to me that I should be more sneaky. Instead of typing the names of the blogs I visit in to my URL box, I should go to my page and click through. That way, when they look at their counters, they'll see that they've gotten another hit from HokiePundit, and not just a random person. For that matter, I should definitely stop clicking through while viewing my stats. I'll be looking, see that I got a hit from Cal Ulmann, and think "hey, I haven't checked out his site today" and click. Thus, I look like I only visit sites that link to me. I think it's time to wage a vicious and remorseless PR campaign to...well, something. Mission objectives can be defined as they're achieved.

Cap'n Steve has only just discovered the section of blogs that he calls "The Catacombs, " which features sites like Mark Byron, Mark Butterworth, Louder Fenn, Eve Tushnet, everyone else on my Consie Christers links, and several others (I'm not really familiar with Mark Shea, for instance, but I've heard of his site). Personally, I prefer the "Augustinian Wonder Boys" label, but Catacombs is fine (though it does make it seem like we're some fringe movement). It occurred to me a while I ago that this section of Blogistan is sort of a combination of a webring and a usegroup or BBS (though one rarely-mentioned benefit is that there's virtually no flaming whatsoever). However, there's a key difference. If you want to participate heavily, you have to do a fair amount of work. Now, you can always post in the Comments section and be heard, but your voice is utterly dependent on people reading the person you're responding to. To be heard, you have to not only set up and maintain your own blog, but also link to and keep in touch with other bloggers. For all I know, the Pope has a blog, but since he hasn't contacted anyone in this province of Blogistan (if the idea of provinces of Blogistan, such as warbloggers, theology, chat, etc. catches on, I want it to be known that HokiePundit lays claim to thinking it up first), we'll never know. My discussions with the other amateur theologians out there have been of enormous benefit, since we've got such a diverse pool of experience and knowledge. I'm sure you all know this, it's just that my mind is blown that a big name like USS Clueless didn't know of this area (though none of the other "Top Shelf" bloggers comment on it, so I can understand why). Anyway, it's time for bed.

Quote of the Day:
"No, we're not having pre-marital sex. I have no intention of marrying her."
-a friend's AIM Profile

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

While I haven't put up a Theological Foray in a while, that doesn't mean your needs for teen-aged wisdom won't be met here. I've been thinking about depression lately. Like everyone else, I'm subject to fits of depression. It's certainly not clinical in my case, but I would imagine that introverts are generally more depressed than extroverts. Anyway, I'm not in a funk right now or anything, so the Zoloft For HokiePundit fund isn't currently accepting donations. Still, since I have my own blog and can post whatever I da*n (where *=r) (man, I'm a dork) well please, and that includes thoughts on how to cope with depression.
1. Stop dwelling on it. If you're depressed because a friend got hurt or Washington will never have a championship team an any sport ever again, that does no good. It's like crying over spilt milk. I know that you can't just flip the switch and start being happy or not thinking about it, but making the decision to try and find happiness is a good first step.
2. Appreciate the small things. Look outside. If it's sunny, go outside and bask. If it's raining, go outside and play in the puddles (a lot of people I know really like getting wet in the rain, and yes, I'm one of them). If it's just generally sucky outside, close your window and concentrate on what's around you. Did you get an email from a friend today? Did your team win their game? Were you mentioned by another blog? Are your favorite flowers in season? Did they serve corned beef at lunch today (mmm...yes they did!)?
3. Use things you don't understand. I don't know why, but songs like Soul to Squeeze, Short Skirt Long Jacket, and Wilderness always make me happy (as do the videos to Smooth Criminal and Clint Eastwood). I'm not saying to go shoot up or get drunk, but sometimes it does help just to sit down with ice cream and watch a good movie. A little bit of escapism used judiciously can be a good thing.
4. Recognize that some things just aren't going to break your way. The rain falls on both the righteous and the wicked. Personally, I find a lot of solace in my Christianity. I was fairly depressed in high school, and one day it occurred to me that all the Christians I knew were at least fairly happy (I think content is a better word to describe it, but I didn't realize it at the time). As I grew in my faith, it was like a burden was lifted (I know non-Christians don't understand, and I'm equally sure that the Faithful reading this are all nodding and thinking "yep, like a great weight has been removed"). Knowing that you're not the highest power, and thus that not everything that happens to you is your fault makes you incredibly free. As I said, I know this may not ring familiar, but I've found it to be true.

A lot of the time, being depressed and thinking about something is exactly what's keeping you from getting what you want. I remember thinking "why don't girls dig me?" and eventually realizing that who wants go to out with some guy who's only thinking about himself?

In short, to stop being depressed, it's useful to sometimes just psych yourself out of it. Act like you're happy, seek out things that are good, and you'll find yourself growing happier.

Okay, it's official, we're all going to die. Excise bread from the diet. I think so far we're left with water, dirt, and hummus (but I repeat myself).

Pot/Kettle Dep't: The European Parliament booed Jean-Marie Le Pen today for being a "Nazi."

Ah, those tolerant Europeans. Unless you're a conservative. Or Jewish. Or American.

Monday, April 22, 2002

Congrats to John Hawkins on acquiring the latest edition of Child! Do remember that the upgrades in the form of food, clothing, dating money, and school are considered standard.

Eek! Remind me never to piss off Protein Wisdom!

Absobloodylutely brilliant. Like James Lileks on a nasty, bitter day. Lovely.

My mind is blown. This article details Amnesty International's claims of a massacre in Jenin by Israeli troops. Here's a quote from the article:

Forensic pathologist Derrick Pounder from Dundee University in Scotland, who had just returned from Jenin, said the lack of severely injured people admitted to the hospital backed claims that Palestinian doctors and ambulance men had been impeded.

"There were no severely injured in the hospital, and very few corpses. It is inconceivable that, as well as the dead, there were not large numbers of severely injured," said Pounder, who estimated a conflict of this nature and intensity would have produced roughly three badly injured victims to every one dead.

Call me crazy, but is it, just maybe, possible that the lack of bodies and severely-injured people at the hospital may be due to there being a lack of bodies and severely-injured people? Check out this set of pictures from the Israeli government, and tell me if it looks like the Israeli army went in and just kicked donkey at random.

As I'm sure you've heard, Jean-Marie Le Pen of the far-right Front Nationale won second-place in the first round of French elections for President, meaning that the race will be between him and incumbent Gaullist Jacques Chirac, and that Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin is out of contention.

I'm of mixed feelings about this, though I do think that it's a welcome result. Jospin is a crypto-Communist, and represents the worst of what Americans think of when we visualize France. Le Pen, however, is essentially a Nazi. I can understand his frustration with immigrants coming to France, living on the government dole, and refusing to assimilate. However, from all reports, he's anti-Muslim (due to the aformentioned immigration), anti-Jewish (not like France was helping Israel anyway), and anti-American. While I'd like to see France become our friend again, I'm hesitant about someone who's openly opposed to the US. On the other hand, I'm not quite sure what America would actually lose if (yeah right) Le Pen were to be elected. Chirac is considered a conservative in France, but would still show up as pretty far left-wing on American radar. He's been...moderately...non-anti-American, but hey, he's still a French politician. He would still be the best choice for American interests, though a Le Pen presidency could give France a nice jolt and break them of their post-Revolutionary idiocy. Le Pen has virtually no chance, however, since virtually all other parties have thrown their support to Chirac. I think the question is how Chirac will run. He can be fairly sure that he'll win, so his truest colors may show, and he may drift left (or right, for that matter) given an almost assured victory. On the other hand, Jospin was defeated due to underestimating Le Pen, and so Chirac might do well to tack hard right in order to take potential swing-voters from the FN. After all, it's not as if the Greens, Socialists, Communists, etc. will support Le Pen instead. Chirac is going to sleep a lot better these days, knowing that it's virtually impossible for him to lose. You can bet that the left will abruptly cease all allegations of corruption against him. I'm not sure what would happen if he were convicted during his candidacy, but it's possible that Le Pen would win by default, though I suspect Jospin would face off against Le Pen by virtue of gaining third-place.

I realized that while I believe in an individual's right to bear arms, the debate itself isn't especially dear to my heart. So, with approximately 24 hours left, I changed my paper's topic to abortion. I think I'm doing a decent job of describing the "Pro-Choice" position, though I'll admit that I'm attempting to debunk it within the paper by placing the arguments for abortion, including all (pro-abortion, neutral, Pro-Life) terms and definitions, ahead of what will be a much longer section of arguments abortion. I rationalize it in my own mind by recognizing that since abortion is generally legal in the US, the Pro-Life position has to prosecute their case and provide proof, while the pro-abortion side can simply sit tight and point to Roe v. Wade (1973).

Oh, and by the way, there's no sound reason why Bush and Congress haven't passed a Partial-Birth Abortion bill. There was an almost veto-proof majority when Clinton was in office, and it should still be passable, where it would be signed by Bush. I don't think I'll vote for any Republican House, Senate, or Presidential candidates until this ban is enacted. Not that I'd vote for Democrats, but I'll probably just do some write-in votes (if you don't vote, you need to shut your mouth about the government, and since I can't do that, I have to vote in order to have a clear conscience).

"Oh Mickey, what a pity you don't understand
You take me by the heart when you take me by the hand
Oh Mickey you're so pretty can't you understand?
It's guys like you Mickey
Oh, what you do Mickey, do Mickey, don't break my heart Mickey
Oh Mickey, you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind
Hey Mickey"

-Toni Basil, Mickey

Dangit. The following bands that I listen to support abortion:
Blues Traveler, Foo Fighters, Green Day, No Doubt, Offspring, Red Hot Chili Peppers, REM, Sponge (popular bands I don't really listen to include the Dave Matthews Band, Phish, Fugazi, Korn, Goldfinger, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Everclear, Everlast, Barenaked Ladies, PUSA, and pretty much the whole Lilith Tour).

Bands I listen to that don't support abortion:
Insyderz, Five Iron Frenzy, O.C. Supertones, Cranberries, Ben Folds Five, MxPx


Okay, I've decided to divvy up some of my "regular features."

Quote of the Day will now include song lyrics, and will be things I agree with or find very interesting, unless otherwise stated.
Song Lyrics of the Day will now be lyrics of songs stuck in my head, in my player right now, or otherwise generally aesthetically pleasing.
Wednesday Poetry may also include song lyrics, and will be included based on the overall feel and message of the poem.

The Ole Miss Conservative has a great link to an interview with a former abortion clinic owner who has now become a Christian. As you may have guessed, I support Christianity and oppose abortion.

Hypothesis: A ten-page paper detailing the issue of gun control within a structural-functional framework can be completed in 30 hours (minus time for bathroom breaks, a band rehearsal, and possibly classes).

Materials: 30 hours, 3 cans of caffeine (Red Bull, 180, and some other brand; expect a review at some point), 3 Chupa-Chups (all Cherry Vanilla-flavored), 1/2 bag frosted animal crackers, computer, ethernet connection, music, and a sweet toke of a hallmate's ethanol-ammonia smelling salts (mmm...). Hopefully, the smelling salts thing won't hurt me, since had it under my nose for about five minutes, but hey, it's not like any more damage cadklh be donseeeeeeggg.....sdshldskghkl.....

Whither Little Sanity? We haven't had a post in a fortnight, and I'm starting to get worried. Someone check on him, okay?

Sunday, April 21, 2002


which "monty python and the holy grail" character are you?

this quiz was made by colleen

Okay, show of hands: who expected anything else?

The Semi-Definitive HokiePundit Song Playlist (excluding most ska):
Toni Basil -Mickey
B-52s -Rock Lobster, Love Shack
Jon Bon Jovi -Living on a Prayer
Spin Doctors -Two Princes
Dexy's Midnight Runners -Come on Eileen (also covered by Save Ferris)
Devo -Whip It
A-Ha -Take on Me (also covered by Reel Big Fish)
Buggles -Video Killed the Radio Star (also covered by PUSA)
Rick Springfield -Jessie's Girl
Three Dog Night -Summer in the City
Turtles -So Happy Together
Animals -House of the Rising Sun
Romantics -What I Like About You
Peter Schilling -Major Tom
Creedence Clearwater Revival -Down on the Corner
Sponge -Wax Ecstatic, Plowed
Eels -Novocaine for the Soul
Gin Blossoms -Allison Road, Hey Jealousy
Goldfinger -Mable, Anxiety, Here in Your Bedroom
Kansas -Carry On Wayward Son
Pink Floyd -The Wall
Rush -2112
U2 -Where the Streets Have No Name, Sunday Bloody Sunday, With or Without You
REM -Stand
Trammps -Stayin' Alive
Cypress Hill -(Rock) Superstar
Foo Fighters -Everlong
Primitive Radio Gods -Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand

The ever-readable Dave Shiflett informs us that zero-tolerance has now been extended to potato guns (I've never heard them called potato cannon or potato launchers, though I'm aware that a potato gun can also designate something like a vegan BB gun). Sigh. Time to rant.

I'm absolutely sick and tired of zero-tolerance. If it's not likely to be seriously harmful, don't screw with it. My elders are scared and paranoid of us young folk (especially the revolutionaries in middle and high school). It's as though the Springfield Retirement Castle was running the world. The slightest misstep is grounds for having your plans of a career revoked. If you're a normal kid with less than a 3.5, forget most top-tier colleges. Did you leave your knife on the passenger seat from going camping? The Barney Fife/Officer Barbady wannabe at your school (not the actual cop, the guy with the patch on his polo shirt, carrying lethal force in the form of a radio) will have you suspended, and possibly expelled or incarcerated.

Dodgeball is banned from many schools. Exsqueeze me? Baking powder? (See Wayne's World if you thought I just went braindead.) My Powerline Airstrike 240 plastic pellet pistol is enough to get me arrested, should the cops ever search my room. My friend Mike almost got himself arrested for picking up a vent grate a few days ago. Sexual harassment can be defined as anything that makes a person uncomfortable, and that includes whistling and bawdy catcalls.

My conclusion is that the generations of people ages 30-60 have dropped the ball. Yes, there are idiots in every generation. There are people at my school that need to just be slapped around with wet noodles for a while until they stop spray-painting "smash patriarchy" on our library windows. However, I think we generally have them under control. It seems to me that the problem is that the people who we expect to take orders from have begun asking us, not telling us. If you want our input, put up a suggestion box, look through the ideas, and see if what's reasonable and workable. Do not start up a semester-long committee featuring administrators, professors, and students. If it seems fairly reasonable, do it, and you can always stop it if people are upset about it. Everyone is so intent on covering their donkeys that no one ever takes risks.

Knowing that not having a top GPA will prevent you from getting into a lot of colleges meant that cheating was rampant in my high school (there's a little here at Tech, but not much). Original thought was also out. Interpreting the doublespeak isn't easy when you actually want to think. When you're told "now tell me what you think," the correct answer isn't "well, let me see..." The correct answer is to regurgitate exactly what you were told, in different words. If you're really adventurous, you can add "also, there's some Nietzschean/Randian/Einsteinian aspects to this, which made me think hard about it." Creativity is penalized.

Multiple-choice was/is a stupid idea. Instead of studying, a student only needs to skim and then guess. In my European History class in high school, I got the highest grade out of 60 students without studying, and simply using logic rather than knowledge to answer many of the questions. Having learned to think this way, we get obliterated by fill-in-the-blank ("Will there be a word bank?") and essay tests. Foreign language teachers blather on about gerunds and participles, and get upset when we haven't a clue what they're talking about. We didn't learn about them in English, why should we be expected to know them for French? Now that I'm in college, I've been exposed to the horror that is PowerPoint. I hate that program. Teachers should either lecture or just give us copies of the slides. By doing both and just reading what is on the board, you insult us, bore us, and make yourself look stupid. Now, we're getting the first generation of teachers raised on PowerPoint and multiple choice and they're no smarter than we are.

In short, I want more. I want the people who are supposed to hold authority over me to exercise it wisely. Stop sniveling and cowering. I'm not going to hurt you.

Saturday, April 20, 2002

JunkYardBlog gets biblical on Louder Fenn's brother Quieter Fenn (I crack myself up sometimes). For those of you not in the know, when JYB mentions Kerry Livrgren, that's the lead singer of the band Kansas, best known for "Carry On Wayward Son."

Oh, and J-Blog: get thyself a comments link!

Call me a bad person for thinking of it, but there's some room for ambushing people in blogging. I could put a link to InstaPundit, and you'd probably follow it without checking. If I was a real deviant, I'd have put the link to a far worse site. Tremble in fear. I mean, I could go to VodkaPundit's comments section, post as "guy," write something witty and thought-provoking, and put the Bonzi Buddy download as my "homepage."

You know, I feel like a debit to society for even bringing this up. Forget I even mentioned it. [/subliminal message]

I missed it, but No Watermelons Allowed has an excellent post on teaching evolution in science classes. Be sure to check out the comments section, or your're missing out on a lot of good material.

Having established that Louder Fenn reads this blog on a fairly regular basis, I'd like to ask him to add an email address or comments section on his blog. I had a long and brilliant post asking this and attempting to rebut his brother's arguments on guitars and church, but we had a power failure and it got lost (remember folks, Jesus saves, and so should you). I just didn't have the heart to retype it because, well, I'm lazy.

Of course, once I get this silly paper on gun control taken care of, I'll be blogging a lot more. Silly professors, expecting me to actually produce evidence of my learning! [/sulk]

Thursday, April 18, 2002

Today in my Comparative Government class, we had Ambassador Ivan Grdesic of Croatia as a guest-speaker. His talk was on the problems faced by his country as a new democracy (they celebrated their tenth anniversary on April 7th) struggling to improve their economy and security situations. He had been a visiting professor of political science at Virginia Tech two years ago before being appointed ambassador upon his return to Croatia, and was thus a friend of my teacher (the department head).

I have to admit that I didn't do any real research on Croatia before his talk like I should've. While I knew that since Serbia and America haven't gotten along lately it was likely that Croatia had been friendly with us, I didn't know in what way. However, at least from his presentation, it sounds as though Croatia is one of those Eastern European countries like Poland and the Czech Republic that has at least a clue. They're currently applying for membership to NATO and the European Union, since both measures would likely significantly help their economy. As he put it, staying out would mean that Croatia would remain a small peripheral power subject to the will of their more-powerful neighbors. I suppose I can't really argue with that, except to say that I would love it if the US would form an alliance with Britain, Poland, the Czech Republic, and other countries that aren't France (Italy, Spain, Croatia, Turkey, and Denmark all seem to spring to mind). Right now, the EU is the only economic free-trade organization in Europe. Others have floated the idea of making NAFTA into the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, and that sounds like a good idea to me.

I don't hate Europe. However, France and Germany are the biggest kids on the block, and the only possible counterbalance would be one of England, Spain, and Italy. What we don't want is a situation where countries like the Czech Republic that are currently our friends to be swallowed up and essentially have to tell us "my parents said I'm not allowed to play with you any more."

Wednesday, April 17, 2002


"Oh Bjork, Bjork, were you brought by the stork?
Or were you created from butter and cork?
I love you so much that I act like a dork
Oh Bjork, oh Bjork, oh Bjork

I was cruising the channelbox, looking for Mork
Or Fantasy Island with suave Mr. Rourke
But then when I saw her, I near dropped my fork
My heart spun around with incredible torque

She's small, and she's odd like a lepton or quark
She's much more attractive than even Judge Bork
I'd travel the nation, LA to New York
But she's probably in Iceland, so that wouldn't work

If she'd let me, her love I would hork
I'd die for her with help from Dr. Kevork
Let's go to my bedroom, that's where we will..."

-Brunching Shuttlecocks, "Bjork Song"

Well, I posted my answer to the Secret of Life below, and got two comments and no emails. Thus, I'm going back to more worldly thinking on this blog. [sulks]

Apparently, the Hot Topic now is cloning. Everyone from Congress to the blogosphere (I prefer the term Blogistan, but that whore bastard meanie Slotman already has it) to George "Jar-Jar" Lucas is obsessed with clones. After all, science and technology can be wondrous things. Without them, I would've died of pyloric stenosis when I was a few weeks old (though now that I think about it, a recalled painkiller was responsible for it in the first place). Has anyone here ever had smallpox, polio, or typhus? Anyone here on Ritalin (okay, anyone here not on Ritalin?), Prozac, Viagra, or Claritin? Most people have a favorable view of blood transfusions and organ donations, and we're a hair's breadth away from a better treatment for Parkinson's. Being able to grow replacement organs in culture rather than wait for someone to donate (blood, kidneys) or die (most other things) will save a lot of lives, and a lot of money as well. If we were just taking some epithelial tissue and finding ways for it to reproduce, I don't think anyone would have have much of a problem (well, the Greens probably would, but they're very excitable as it is).

However, there are several problems with the rosy scenario above. First is the fact that except for basically the blood and the liver, you can't regenerate what you donate. This means that we need to go to undifferentiated stem cells. These are found heavily in developing babies (especially early-on), moderately in the placenta, and in small quantities in the adult body. There are so many claims out right now that I'm not sure what to believe. The most common one given is that fetal stem cells are the best, since they work most reliably, and that adult stem cells can't always differentiate into all types of tissue. On the other hand, I've heard that adult stem cells are far more efficient than fetal stem cells. No one talks about placental stem cells, though they would seem to be a good compromise. Again, no one would really care if harvesting stem cells was about the same as picking apples. Unfortunately, to get these cells from a fetus, you have to kill a baby. Because of this, I think Bush made an extremely wise decision on stem cells, saying that the existing lines of fetal stem cells may be developed, but no more are acceptable. Of course, no one is happy with this. On one hand, we hear "well, all these abortions are just going to be utterly wasted now" (brilliant deduction, Holmes...). On the other, people insist on burying the cells. Now, not to sound harsh here, but abortion is murder. Also, while the loss of those cells did extinguish a human life, they themselves are not that life. If we don't want that person's life to have been utterly destroyed in vain, we should use what was taken from them to help others.

This brings us to another objection, that of cloning people. On argument is that we're playing God, and also that we're violating a person's rights by potentially having dozens of people just like them running around (imagine two dozen of me at age four -or now, come to think of it, since I don't think I've matured much in 15 years- and picture the carnage and terror). After all, what happens if someone has a clone made of them against their will? To the first objection, I think it's awfully presumptuous and stupid of us to say that we could ever play God. There is nothing we can do that God cannot prevent us from doing. If we're not supposed to clone humans, then some inherent flaw will be found (I don't think simply having an anti-cloning movement is a Divine intervention). I also don't think that if we make clones of a person, we're going to have, say, fifteen people of Darrell Green's skill and character. Sure, there might be general tendencies, but they won't have the some experiences to make them who they'll become. This does skirt the issue of property. After all, at what stage does a cell cease being your body and property? I'm going to get yelled at for this, but this seems similar to rape (after the act). In both cases, your body has been violated, and a human being is being created against your will. According to the US government (and many foreign ones as well), you have the right to terminate that life. Would a person whose cells have been taken be able to terminate a pregnancy in a surrogate mother? Could they demand payment from the clone? Could a clone from a voluntary donor sue the donor if they were unhappy with, say, their astigmatism? And what of identification? There could be "unregistered" clones who are unknown to the government. Also, if my clone commits a crime and all you've got are fingerprints, DNA, and a photo, how do I prove that I'm innocent? Unless we agree to slightly modify clone DNA (and are we still cloning then?), protect donors from lawsuits, and we can find a way to prevent unwanted cloning, I think we're in for some serious troubles.

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

It just occurred to me, but do you know what separates Christianity from all other belief systems? You're asked to love your neighbors and God while you're alive. Now, a good response would be "why not just always do what's in your own best interest?" After all, unless all or at least nearly all people love each other, those who do love are going to get shafted. Christianity's response to this is say that after we die, those of us who actually did love will be resurrected into a community of other lovers. Thus, since we'll all be saints, the system will work. All that remains is to provide reasonable evidence that this claim is true.

I'll probably expand on this later, but I've got class in just a few minutes. Also, good news! I found out today that what I'd thought was a sixteen-page paper is actually only twelve pages, including title and reference pages. Scha-wing!

In his post-script to talking about Catholic orthodoxy/dissent, Louder Fenn says that one should dress appropriately (presumably button-up shirts and dresses) for church, and opposes things like guitars in services. I have to admit that I'm torn on this. I was baptized Episcopalian, and I was raised to know that when you go to church, you'd best be wearing at least a button-up shirt and a tie (and pants), and preferably a suit. When I started returning to Christianity in high school, I decided that since I was most familiar with Episcopal services, that would be the best place to start. I knew that there were two traditional services (at somewhat inconvenient times, since one was really early, and the other one meant I had to hustle to get to my job afterwards) and a contemporary one, but I absolutely refused to go to anything modern. I don't really like most hymns, so I tended to go to the early services where we didn't sing, but I always dressed up. For that matter, I went to a church slightly more distant from my home (there are at least five of pretty much any type of church within twenty minutes of me) since the closest one had a female priest, and that was utterly unacceptable to me. I knew about praise music and all from Fellowship of Christian Athletes, but to me that wasn't the same thing as church at all.

When I first got to Tech, I decided that I needed to find a church. Unfortunately, I was shocked to find that the Episcopal church in Blacksburg had a female priest. However, there was an Anglican Catholic Church about a block away from it, and I looked into that and found that it was basically an Anglican schism that's uber-conservative. Fair enough, I'm pretty traditionalist and conservative myself. I went twice, and both times I was struck by the fact that not only were there only about 25 people in the pews, but that about twenty of them were, well, old. There definitely weren't any other students. What got to me was when the minister started dissing the Baptists from the pulpit. I don't have anything against the Baptists, just a mild difference in preferences. Deciding that I had to get out before I found myself some sort of of nutcase Klansman, I wasn't sure what to do, so I just stopped going to church. My family back home had been sort-of shaking itself out of years of not going to church, and had decided to go to Methodist services. I knew that the Methodists were formed from the Church of England, and I basically considered them very-Low Church Episcopalians. Close enough. I went to services at Blacksburg United Methodist Church, and it wasn't bad. I felt a little odd not having kneeling benches, but that's a pretty small concession. The minister was excellent, and Methodists are known for being pretty good singers, so while I was out of place in that way, I at least had good stuff to cover my voice.

The only thing missing was, well, something. I don't doubt the devotion of the people there, but there didn't seem to be anyone like me who was still searching. No one I talked to in the Wesley Foundation (Methodist student union) seemed to have much of an interest in theology, and they all seemed pretty content. Besides, I just didn't fit in, just as I didn't really fit in at any of the other churches. After Christmas break, I stopped going to church again. I'm taking a class on the New Testament, so I figured that the Bible reading from that and my own theology reading (Lewis, Kreeft, Shiflett & Carroll, etc.) would at least sustain me while I figured out what to do.

While I'd been going to the Anglican Catholic and Methodist services, my roommate Kevin had been going with a friend of his to New Life Christian Fellowship services. Now, NLCF is very contemporary, and I was horrified at the idea of attending. To me, it seemed more like a revival than serious church, and while I figured it was good for general Christianity, it certainly didn't take the place of being in the pews on a Sunday morning and singing hymns. However, about a month ago, I decided that I really needed to be in a community of believers, and since I do Ultimate Frisbee sponsored by NLCF and the Navigators (another campus Christian group), I figured it couldn't hurt to attend services there (I also considered InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's services, but they were at an inconvenient time). I went, and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, I really enjoyed it. I was there in shirt and tie, but everyone else was in t-shirts and jeans. There was a band with guitars, drums, etc. up front, and instead of old, boring hymns (the Wesley brothers didn't exactly write hymns that I liked very much), they played praise songs. I actually knew some of these, and so that was nice. The ministers were 30-ish, and were able to communicate well with the students. There was joking around (not just the Mandatory Chuckle Moment that's standard) and also seriousness. They were the kind of people that had gone through doubts and still struggled with life, but had faith in God's providence. I honestly felt better after that service than at least 95% of the other ones in regular churches that I'd been to. I've been going back every week, and I'm really enjoying it.

I think I've strayed some, but back to Louder's guitars. Just as guitars and regular clothing could be signs of disrespect if not considered well, hymns and fancy-dress can also become a substitute for faith. One joke about the Episcopal Church is that the worship centers around dressing nicely. In the few Catholic churches I've been in, guitars would probably be pretty out-of-place. However, I don't know that it would hurt to try them out once in a while. Guitars and jeans are pretty new, but then, organs and neckties were probably risque at some point as well. It's a fine line, but if you understand what side you're on, I don't think faith will be hindered.

Monday, April 15, 2002

And for the hat trick: Ye Olde Blogge has now been added to the Plunder and Wimmins section.

I figured that two is better than one, so Kesher Talk (who has been linking to me for a long time) is now with that other Knish-Eater, Jay Zilber. Mazel tov!

Okay, it's now a threesome. War Liberal has been added to the Heathens and/or Liberals category.

Mark Butterworth has been en el fuego lately with posts on humor, prayer, caring, and me (HokiePundit). [I'm not sure where I am with all that HTML formatting, so I'll just start a new paragraph.]

Again, I've been thinking, and as Michael Kapsalakis says in a Comment below, I honestly do think I'm close to "breaking the code." The funny thing is, the more I think I'm progressing towards it, the more I'm aware that it was always right there to begin with. This is also where I think a short addendum to Mark's post on humor might be needed. Laughing at something or someone is hostile and aggressive, but laughing with them is an expression of joy. In one of his books (I'm afraid I can't remember, but I suspect it's either Mere Christianity or The Great Divorce), C.S. Lewis expresses the belief that when we get to heaven, we'll look back at our lives and laugh at how silly we all were. Even now, I've found myself laughing, smiling, and generally being at peace a lot more than I used to be. Even little things make me smile, whether it's a pretty day or even just thinking about smiling. I've also found myself laughing when I realize something to be true. I don't mean I laugh when I find out that Japan has a parliamentary system. A few days ago, I was sitting in the library, and two of the prettiest girls I've ever seen were standing a few yards away. I honestly couldn't take my eyes off them; not because I wanted to "get to know them," but just because they were something lovely in a dreary environment, like the daffodils that have sprung up in the concrete planters outside. Well, as they were leaving, one of the girls noticed I'd been watching, and gave me a curious (in the George sense, not the weird sense) look. I laughed. I'd been caught, though it wasn't anything bad.

It's sometimes as if I can see exactly how a Christian should behave, and I'm not even sure what's holding me back. I will say that I think I'm making progress. Mark also talked about caring, and how try as he might, he can't stop caring. He quotes a pseudo-Buddhist (I think we've all played the Zen Master-wannabe game at some point or another) as saying that it's only by becoming detached that we can stop caring and free ourselves from anger and misery. I disagree with the man he quotes. It's important to stop caring so much about ourselves, but it's our duty to care about others, especially the less-fortunate. In the movie Lawrence of Arabia, T.H. Lawrence replies to a question of whether it hurts to constantly be putting his hand in a candle flame with (paraphrased) "Of course it hurts! The trick is not minding that it hurts." The world is going to have some high points, and it's going to have some points where it sucks. Read If by Rudyard Kipling, and you'll see what I mean. Sometimes we're not sure what the best course of action is, or how we can become more aware of the needs of others. The answer there is in Mark's post on prayer. Ideally, your thoughts and your prayers should be no different.

I don't claim to perfectly follow the ideas I've laid out. I'd like to, but I've got a long journey ahead of me, and I don't know what will be thrown against me. I know it sounds silly and pretentious coming from someone who hasn't even hit the age of twenty yet, but I think the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, besides being 42, is to love others, love God, and remember that since you own nothing you possess, you need to take proper care of it.

I know I'm extremely well blessed. I'm a well-off white American male (I'm not being bigoted, just acknowledging the advantages of those) with many decades of life ahead of me. I've got good friends. I'm attending an excellent university in the great and beautiful Commonwealth of Virginia. I've got a loving family. Most importantly, God has somehow shown me how to properly lead my life (if this be revelation, let's make the most of it!). I almost tremble to think what will be required of me in return, but I know that simply doing it will be enough.

"The greatest thing
You'll ever learn
Is just to love and
Be loved in return"

-Nat King Cole, Nature Boy

Sunday, April 14, 2002

It's gone too far. Even my roommate now has a blog. He plays hockey, and thus turned out to be 56% Canadian. I, your Most Excellent blogger, was a mere 22%. How aboot that?

The Section of Everchanging Name has now been renamed "Any Given Sunday," stolen from Ben Domenech's links section. Also added is Heretical Ideas, and since today is Sunday, I thought it would be a good idea. [/weak joke]

I've also added the US and Israeli flags, since I support both governments in their current efforts.

Quotes of the Day (a four-fer!):

"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind" -Albert Einstein

"Once we realize that imperfect understanding is the human condition, there is no shame in being wrong, only in failing to correct our mistakes" -George Soros

"The best form of revenge is to live a great life." -Hungarian proverb

"A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." -Proverbs 14:30

Apologies for the lack of posting, but as a student, it's more important right now for me to study for my upcoming tests and to write my term papers. I'll post as I have time and inspiration, but the levels will be low for about a week or so.

Go check out Will-O's screed on gun control. Very nice.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

I've found that fasting and other forms of deprivation can really help you focus. Some of my deepest insights (we're still talking baby pool here) have come at four in the morning when I've had insomnia. Lent is a time where we give up something dear to us that we can do without in order to discipline ourselves. Likewise, Roman Catholics abstain from meat on Fridays and Orthodox Catholics on Wednesdays and Fridays. In this spirit, I'm going without animal products on Thursdays (nothing special about the day, except that it's the most convenient day for me as a beginner). I found that you can make do with spaghetti and non-meat sauce, salad, bread, and various forms of pastry dessert (I did have to give up my beloved Jell-O, though). My guess is that, especially as Americans, we're pretty much always satisfied. As such, when you've got a huge buffer around yourself, it's hard to think about anything more than yourself. It's as if you can only think so far outside of a certain point, and when that certain area is a full belly and a rested body, food and sleep are all you can think about. Of course, I don't recommend doing this often, but perhaps staying up all night once every three weeks or so is a good thing. We'll see.

Recently on a sleepless night, it occurred to me how God's commandments were actually liberating, rather than restricting. Prior to this, I'd shared the common opinion that while the commandments were a pain, they were a small price to pay in order to get to Heaven. Basically, I thought of them as a toll that God had a perfect right to levy on us. After all, if for several decades of suffering we can earn an eternity of pleasure, then isn't that a great deal? However, it's incorrect to think of the laws as being a burden. Instead, they free us. Think about it. Have you ever met a drunkard or carouser who's actually happy with themself? Think of Sammy Hart in The Wedding Singer. Fornicators and adulterers ultimately bring misery upon themselves and risk things like disease, unintended pregnancy, divorce, and a host of other problems. Each other type of sinful behavior listed eventually causes frustration, misery, and suffering (kind of like becoming a Dark Jedi). If you're free of these and can learn to live simply on what you've been given, what can the world do to you? If you don't get a Playstation 3 when it comes out, what does it matter to you if you don't care? If you save yourself for marriage, you'll never have your heart broken. In other words, you become immune to the troubles of the world. That's not to say that you don't care about the plight of others, since you must do that. However, you can't be hurt. You follow God's word, and become of one purpose with God. Thus, when you die, you're a perfect match to be with God in heaven. If you're simply devoted to something worldly, whether it be food, a woman, or an ideal, you can't be devoted to God, and thus would be miserable in his company. That's why God isn't being cold-hearted in not resurrecting those who don't believe. When you think about it, he's showing ultimate mercy by not condemning them to that eternal torture.

Apologies to those who come here looking for quality thought and reasoning, but I've got a mental block right now. It's probably because I read half the New Testament today, and I'm burned out. If I don't have something semi-brilliant up by Saturday morning, I'll take suggestions for appropriate ways to do penance.

That's right, my Tennessee gun-toting hallmate now has his very own blog. Outstanding.

Almost there...I need to read the following books of the New Testament to have read it in its entirety: Hebrews, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, Galatians, Ephesians, 1 John, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, James, Jude. Counting down...

UPDATE: SUCCESS! On to the Old Testament (but not today).

Dave Tepper has a sister! As soon as I can find some way of making fun of people for having sisters, he'll hear of it.

HokiePundit: Threatening Yet Powerless

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Consie Christers is now Consie God-ists, since I didn't like having Jews separated. Since the American branch of the Anglican Communion is the Protestant Episcopal Church USA, I lumped Blithering Idiot in with the Protists. For balance, I also added Relapsed Catholic and Veritas, though I suppose that tips it slightly in favor of the Pope Addicts. At the bottom, I added the True Views section for resources that I generally agree with, though not always completely. Actual Content (TM) will resume shortly.

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Okay, I think it's just about time to divide up the Consie Christers into Protists and Pope Addicts. As I see it my Protestants are Mark Byron, Kevin Holtsberry, Next Right, JunkYardBlog, Midwest Conservative Journal, and the Brothers Judd. The Catholics are Louder Fenn, Amy Welborn, Krempasky, Mark Butterworth, and Blithering Idiot. Am I right, or am I wrong? My God, what have I done?

Monday, April 08, 2002

By way of VodkaPundit, John Scalzi's analysis of the numbers in blogging is pretty good. Speaking for myself, I've got no clue how many regular readers, occasional readers, or one-time visitors I have. If you look at my hit counters, the green one is supposed to be total hits, and the red one is supposed to be total visitors (feel free to check my last 50 visitors, find your own IP address, see where most of my hits come from, etc.). However, I know both counters are off. Sometimes I get two hits in a row from the same person from the same source, and since my own hits are in red, I know that I've been recorded several times. It's gotten to the point where I can sometimes tell exactly who a particular visitor is just by their IP address (I'm looking right at you, Brian Lee, Cap'n, Sarge, Ben, and several others). Somehow, I'm getting over 100 hits a day (my theory is that I've accidentally coded something addictive into my Template), but I don't know how many of them are repeats. In any case, I'd like to thank you all for feeding my ego by coming back, and invite you to send me any topics (especially theological) that you'd like to see me try to tackle.

The Derb (err...Mr. Derbyshire) has a good column on manners in today's NRO. I have to agree. I've been told that I have very good manners before, but I don't think I'm doing anything that a normal person wouldn't. I'm certainly not doing anything that people in books I read don't do, unless they're some Democrat evil villain or trying to make a point. Derbyshire asserts that the South is probably the last remaining place that holds to the ideal of the Christian gentleman, which is good because that's what I try to shoot for as well. At Virginia Tech, students are generally pretty polite, as they were to a lesser degree at my high school in Northern Virginia (the blue part of the red Commonwealth). We hold the door for each other, generally at least fake attentiveness, and say "please" and "thank you." While this seems normal to me, I've had professors who've lectured elsewhere say that you can always tell Virginia Tech students by the way they act. I'm baffled, but I'd love to hear from people in other places (not just colleges, but other parts of the country, or even ferners) about the state of manners in their area. Here's a short list of general manners it seems to me that everyone ought to know:
1. Say "please" and "thank you."
2. Hold the door for people following a reasonable distance behind you.
3. Help other people carry things if they're struggling, especially girls.
4. Hold the door for girls and allow them to pass before you.
5. Knock before you enter a bedroom, office, or other private space.
6. If you're a guy, walk on the street side when walking with a girl.
7. Guys should at least offer to pay for a date.
8. If you're escorting someone to a dance, even just as a friend, you need to bring a corsage and pay for the food and your ticket.
9. Never just brush someone off. If it comes down to it, make something up, but you have to at least excuse yourself.
10. Do not swear in mixed company. Ever. Or tell dirty jokes. Especially if you're a girl.
11. Don't try to force people to do something they don't want to do.
12. Treat others as you'd like to be treated.
13. Never try to make someone feel uncomfortable without reason.
14. Think of others once in a while.
15. Guys do not wear hats indoors or during the national anthem.

I suppose if you've been brought up to stand when a lady enters the room or to tip your hat, then you can do that. However, you shouldn't fake it.

I wish we could establish some sort of "ring discipline" for people who wear them. I'm not a girl, husband, or Junior (well, I have 61 credits so I technically am, but...), so I personally don't. However, my understanding was that for guys, the right ring finger is for your class ring, your left ring finger is for your wedding ring, and everything else is basically off-limits unless you're a Cardinal or Mafia Don, in which case the pinkie is acceptable. As for girls, I just get confused sometimes. As all guys know, the first thing we look for in a girl isn't a pretty face, ample bosom, child-bearing hips, or a nice [donkey]. We look for an utterly naked left ring finger. A plain gold band or something with diamonds means that they're married or engaged. However, I'm confused by anything else. Is this a promise ring? Does it mean you've got a boyfriend? Are you just trying to tell people you're not dating right now? Does that ring only fit there? Are you just oblivious? If there is a Lord of the Rings out there who can explain this to me, I'd be very grateful.

I'd also agree not to use the Lord of the Rings pun again.

Well, I just got back from my Ecology class, and I was fairly bored for most of the lecture. However, one thing caught my attention: due to the Forest Service's practice of "out by 10AM" for all fires, no matter how remote or small, the amount of flammable material has grown unchecked over the past few decades. Now, when fires break out, they are well-fueled and can climb up trees where they spread throughout the canopy, causing fires of huge scale. Why am I bringing this up? Well, the first thing that I thought of was the global warming that no Biology 2804: Ecology lecture can go without mentioning. If we've seen that human intervention when we don't know exactly what's up can cause huge problems in the long-term, shouldn't we extrapolate that messing with the heating and cooling of the earth is a Bad Idea?

Sunday, April 07, 2002

The chicks ladies over at Spinsters have been going at it over the Jews and Palestinians in Israel. If you like seeing girls fight, then you'd best visit them. When you're done, you might consider visiting with the Jewish Dave Tepper, who does an excellent job of examining the conflict. Should you have time after that, go check out Kevin Holtsberry's take. He combines bulleting with blogging, which is of course the logical conclusion of all this internet madness. Finally, Mark Byron does a good job of examining the Israeli Street (they were the ones not dancing last September).

With all this going on, I'm starting to think I should get off the track of theology for a post or two and actually write about Israel. Maybe.

Saturday, April 06, 2002

Welcome folks from InstaPundit! When I get 300 hits in about four hours, I know something's up.

Also, now that InstaPundit's actually mentioned me, I can move his link from People Who Haven't Mentioned Me to the Rand-y Buggers section.

It just occurred to me, but I wanted to thank the Comedy Central network for being there on September 11th. Coming from my Zoology class at 9:30, I was one of the people in my Physics class that hadn't heard about what had happened. The professor stood up and said something like "I'm sure you've all heard by now...." I hadn't, and I thought it was just a sick build-up to a physics problem (I'm told that another Physics teacher that day actually did do a problem on it). I couldn't concentrate (I have family in New York, and my own immediate family lives in Alexandria, only a few miles from the Pentagon), and so I just got up after about ten minutes and went back to my dorm. I spent about an hour in my RA's room watching the news, had lunch, and then went back to my own room. At this point I just wanted to think about something else, and so I turned on the TV. CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, and CNN all had their news programs permanently on. Networks like USA and TBS were doing the same thing. Even VH1 and MTV had commentary. Finally, I got to Comedy Central (channel 57 on campus, the highest), and they were just starting Coming to America, the great Eddie Murphy movie. For two hours, I escaped reality and put my mind at ease. No other channel realized that normalcy is what some of us wanted, and so I'm indebted to Comedy Central for their kindness.

Astounding. When you combine Legos and church, only good can come of it.

Friday, April 05, 2002

I have to say that I'm not sure I understand all the vitriol directed at homosexuals. Yes, I think sleeping with someone of your own sex is a sin. It's condemned not only in the Old Testament (Leviticus 20:13), but in the New Testament (I Corinthians 6:9) as well. However, we're to hate the sin but love the sinner. Many people say that being a homosexual automatically Dooms You To Hell. This is flawed in two fundamental ways. Firstly, the issue isn't what urges you have, but whether you act on them. This also works the other way, with the question not being on whether you want to do good works for others, but whether you actually try. A non-practicing homosexual would not be condemned. Furthermore, a former practicing homosexual would also be saved. Secondly, while sin does damn you, we should look at the rest of Paul's litany of grievous sins in I Corinthians 6:9-10. We find that in addition to homosexuals, the condemned include fornicators, idolators, adulterers, the effeminate, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers. Did you have sex before marriage? Damned. Sex with someone not your wife? Damned. Been excessively devoted to something other than God or the needs of your neighbors? Damned. Stolen (that includes restaurant silverware)? Damned. Wanted something that belonged to someone else, at the cost of their no longer possessing it? Damned. Gotten drunk? Damned. Insulted someone? Damned. Cheated on a test or tax form? Damned. If you haven't done any of these, then you probably have a visible halo and are being hailed as...well, the Messiah. We're all guilty, and thus all damned (I should be getting pretty high on Google for "damned," shouldn't I?). That's why the benefit of Grace is so wondrous, and also why we're told not to judge others. In accusing others of breaking God's laws, we merely reveal ourselves as hypocrites. By judging others, we actually condemn ourselves. However, by accepting that a person is a sinner and helping them try to break themselves of their sin (whatever it may be), we not only help them but we help ourselves. By loving others, we are loved in return.

UPDATE: For more on this, you might try my Theological Foray #3.

Twice in one day! William Sulik also mentions the idea that the Jews crucified Christ, and thus are scum.

First, if you want to be technical about it, the Romans rendered and executed judgement, and so technically they crucified Christ. However, that's not the point. Jesus had both Jewish and Roman trials, and was condemned in each. This is significant, since the Romans are representative of all Gentiles, and the Jews are, well, the Jews. What this means is that the entire world was responsible for the death of Jesus Christ, not just the Jews. For every claim of "You martyred our Lord!" hurled at the Jews, they can respond with "You martyred your own Lord!"

Everyone today is descended from either a Jew or a Gentile (often both). Thus, we all bear the stigma of the stigmata.

Thursday, April 04, 2002

William Sulik has been pondering what role works play in salvation. Now, I consider myself a Protestant, but I disagree with the idea that faith alone is all that's needed. Usually, Protestants will elaborate and say that good works flow from faith, but aren't essential. On the other hand, Catholics appear to advocate a merit-based system, where the more good works you do, the shorter your time in Purgatory before ascending to Heaven (or, I suppose, a longer time in Purgatory before going down to Hell). William's not sure exactly how good works, well, work, but I'd like to submit an idea. I don't claim it to be a sound doctrine, but it seems to make sense to me, and I figured that there are enough smart people who read this who might be able to say if I'm seriously off-base.

It seems to me that when you do good works, you're making a sacrifice to God. Not of a goat, unblemished calf, or anything like that, but of your time and efforts. What's important isn't how much you do, but that you do what you can, like the Little Drummer Boy (pa-rum pa pum-pum). In Mark 12:42, Jesus esteems a poor woman's gift of two copper coins more than all other donations to the Temple treasury. For some people, they may be able to do something good for others many times a day, every day, for many years. Other people may live in such dire circumstances that only once in their life are they ever able to actually do anything to help someone else. The Protestants do have a point about faith, though. If a grievous sinner were to truly repent, resolve to do good, and then get hit by a train before doing anything, he would still be saved.

Who knows, perhaps I'm the blithering idiot here.

Yes, I've now ordered a St. Augustine's Wonder Boys shirt from Ben Domenech.

Call me a conformist.

The Captain discusses the fact that he's a blogstud today. Part of me is staggered that he gets 3000 hits per day, part of me says "only?!?" I personally would like to thank him for linking to me. He's been one of several major sources of my hits, and has always been very nice to me. I don't read InstaPundit, Virginia Postrel, Andrew Sullivan, or even NRO every day anymore (like you need the links), but I do check most on my list regularly (even the least-visited is checked weekly). I don't know how "the best Stephen" manages to post so much quality insight every day, but I'm glad he's around.

Wednesday, April 03, 2002

Proof that hockey is the devil's sport.

I was a little impressed today to see that Satan had 6 scores and 2 assists.

Of course, the Washington Wizards had God on their side a few years ago, so I suppose it's only fair.

I keep getting Googled for the Powerline Airstrike 240. Maybe by mentioning the Powerline Airstrike 240 again, I can boost myself to #1 on Google, since I've apparently fallen to #4 for "Stupid Hokie Tradition." Drat.

Anyway, I like my BB gun. It comes with both metal and plastic pellets, though you should only shoot the plastic ones at your friends (the metal ones hurt more, but won't kill you or anything). It's...fairly accurate, and can hurt like a [person with an Oedipus Complex] if shot properly. One guy I know bought a laser sight (!) for his, and managed to hit me in the jugular from across the room. It hurt like anything, but I didn't die or get crippled or even cry like usual. The manual says that the clip holds 15 rounds, but I've found that you can get 18 in the clip, plus one in the chamber itself. Occasionally the loading doesn't work properly, but that's usually a result of not pulling back hard enough on the loader. The hammer also sometimes gets a little stuck and has to be re-cocked, but our hall's survivalist from Tennessee found that with a little oil, that clears right up.

While I know that most regular readers of this blog don't care too much about my toy ("NOT A TOY" says the writing on the side of my gun, but I filed off the "NOT"), but if people are Googling for info, I'm here to give it to them. Hasta la victoria siempre! ("Let the party begin!")

I've been rereading W. Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge, and I was struck by the similarity between the Hinduism described and my own views of Christianity. Allow me to quote from a conversation between the narrator and Larry Darrell:

"I should have thought it would interest you. Can there be anything more stupendous than the conception that the universe has no beginning and no end, but passes everlastingly from growth to equilibrium, from equilibrium to decline, from decline to dissolution, from dissolution to growth, and so on to all eternity?"
"And what do the Hindus think is the object of this endless recurrence?"
"I think they'd say that such is the nature of the Absolute. You see, they believe that the purpose of creation is to serve as a stage for the punishment or reward of the deeds of the soul's earlier existences."
"Which presupposes belief in the transmigration of souls."
"Has it occurred to you that the transmigration is at once an explanation and a justification of the evil of the world? If the evils we suffer are the result of sins committed in our past lives we can bear them with resignation and hope that if in this one we strive towards virtue our future lives will be less afflicted. But it's easy enough to bear our own evils, all we need for that is a little manliness; what's intolerable is the evil, often so unmerited in appearance, that befalls others. If you can persuade yourself that it is the inevitable result of the past you may pity, you may do what you can to alleviate, and you should, but you have no cause to be indignant."
"But why didn't God create a world free from suffering and misery at the beginning when there was neither merit nor demerit in the individual to determine his actions?"
"The Hindus would say that there was no beginning. The indidual soul, co-existant with the universe, has existed from all eternity and owes its nature to some prior existence."

I'm sure my atheist readers will think me an idiot for not seeing this as a sign that religion is a fraud, but the faithful may see what I'm getting at. Other than a few details, this is actually very similar to Christianity. Oh, there are differences, to be sure. Christians believe in only one life, and that since you can't actually achieve perfection in this life, you should do your honest best, and perfection will be given to you. Hindus believe that you are constantly reborn until you get it right. It seems to me in both cases, though, that you eventually achieve perfection through dogged persistance. In both religions, sin comes from a previous existence and is endemic to life on earth. We can't destroy it until the world is destroyed, but we can do our best to dampen it.

Sometimes it's good to look at the world through other lenses. I honestly believe that most religions have at least a strain of the Truth in them, and that they can be woven together to form a true ladder to God. I won't say that God doesn't intend for us all to follow Christ's example, but I will say that it's possible that he may have spread the foundations for this differently among different cultures. If you were to tell a Hindu that to get to heaven he had to love God and love his neighbor, I think he'd agree with you. Western religions focus on faith with learning leading to salvation; Eastern religions focus on learning with faith leading to salvation. I don't think we're as different as we seem.

Oddly enough, Netscape Navigator seems to have no trouble with Blogger right now, though Explorer is still processing Eve's addition to the links section. Weird...

I've just added the exquisitely-named Eve Tushnet to my links section. She would've been in Consie Christers, but I figured that the Plunder and Wimmins section was a little small. That's right, I'm using quotas.

Adding to my list of nicknames, I'm now apparently "holy boy."

Judging by some of her comments where I'm also called "Mr. Hokiepundit man," I seem to have my very first vocal un-fan.

I'm not sure whether to be honored, offended, bemused, amused, or what. heathen

I'm always melancholy after my Civil War History class. It's taught by the renowned (seriously) Dr. James I. Robertson, Alumni Distinguished Professor, and is absolutely heartbreaking. The Civil War was the most tragic event in American History, and it's worth remembering. Two sides, both utterly loyal and honorable, were ordered to butcher each other for the sake of pride. The Army of Northern Virginia was led by Robert E. Lee, probably the most brilliant combat engineer to ever come from America. It was his brilliance, aided by Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's daring and J.E.B. Stuart's masterful reconnaissance that allowed the Confederacy to last for as long as it did. These men weren't racists. Lee freed all his slaves before heading off to war, and while a professor at VMI, Jackson taught a Sunday school class to blacks in defiance of Virginia law. On the other side, the Army of the Potomac was assigned the task of killing their brothers in order to save the family. Led by General Meade, a man Lee highly respected, it had the awful task of trying to outfight one of history's best generals. Under Meade was Grant, who fought relentlessly, hammering Lee repeatedly and with terrible casualties until finally beating him into submission. Two of his best generals were Thomas and Sherman. Thomas was from Virginia, but decided to remain loyal to the Union, while Sherman was a Midwesterner who greatly loved the South but was forced to destroy it. If you haven't seen Gettysburg, rent it. It'll sadden you, but that's a good thing. Sometimes it's only in sadness that we can really appreciate the sacrifices others have made for us, and we owe it to them to remember.

I'll do some more posting when I get back from class around 11, but here's an appetizer: according to the History Channel's Egypt, Land of the Gods program, Muslims recognize no distinction between religious and secular places. Thus, mosques are not specially holy. I think this means that we can legitimately bomb them...

Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Quote of the Day:
“Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.”
-Sydney J. Harris (via Apple Seeds)

Very quick bit of apologetics:

Often, people are confused by Matthew 1:23 and Luke 1:31. It seems to them as if the angel told Mary to name her son both Emmanuel and Jesus (respectively). However, this isn't quite so. In Matthew, it is said that "they will call him Emmanuel," while in Luke the angel actually tells Mary to name her son Jesus. Now, Emmanuel means "God is with us," and Jesus means "he saves." This fits very well with the accounts. The people called him the Son of God, which is synonymous with the idea that God is with them. As Christ was the Savior, it's appropriate that his name means that.

Not enough for a Theological Foray, but I thought I'd mention it.

Probably because it's very late at night and I don't feel like going to bed, I'm going to ramble.

It just occurred to me how wonderful this blogging thing is. When I first started, I doubted that more than a very small handful of my close friends would read it. According to my hit counter, I'm getting an average of something like 80 hits a day (some are repeats, but it's still at least 40 different people), which blows my mind. That people far older and wiser (not necessarily connected, but it helps) than I take the time to read, consider, and respond to what I write is very humbling. Through my interactions with other blogs and bloggers, I've learned far more about politics and especially religion than I possibly could've on my own, and in a very short time. Virtually any topic you care to discuss will have several bloggers who are experts on it. We've got professors, priests, a seemingly inordinate number of homosexuals, computer programmers, college students of all majors, housewives, Jews, Christians, Muslims, atheists, Americans, Canadians, Brits, Norwegians, Israelis, Indians...everything. If I wanted to discuss 14th century Swiss art, I bet I could find someone who knew all about it with little trouble. I know I'm rambling, but I just wanted to offer my sincere thanks to everyone out there who has contributed to all this, and especially to those who've taken the time to help and interact with me.

Mark Butterworth [now spelled correctly here for your convenience!] has an interesting take on the role of the Roman and Orthodox Catholic churches, and points out that countries that countries that remain heavily RC or Orthodox are fairly tyrannical, undemocratic, and corrupt. He argues that Protestantism has contributed far more to the world. Personally, I really don't like Catholic vs. Protestant debates, since they hurt Christianity while doing nothing for the rest of the world. Nonetheless, I'll add my comments, for better or for worse.

Countries dominated by the Roman Catholic Church do tend to, well, suck. These include Italy, Spain, Portugal, Latin America, Poland, and Austria (maybe France, too, but I wouldn't blame their situation on the RCC). Countries dominated by Orthodox Catholic churches tend to suck as well, and include the former Soviet Republics, Balkans, and Eastern Europe. Of course, many Protestant countries don't exactly have bragging rights, either. Germany is Lutheran, and they've done nothing more than kill a lot of people. Scandinavia, also Lutheran, is pretty content to let the rest of the world pass them by. Switzerland and the Netherlands are Calvinist, and while Switzerland is, well, neutral in my book, Holland has been doing silly things like legalizing youth in Asia and eliminating their military (though it was probably pretty pointless to begin with). Calvinist Scotland got conquered (though there is the claim that they invented the modern world and everything in it). It seems that Catholic countries tend to be more authoritarian, while Protestant countries are more apathetic.

Basically, all we're left with is England. Now, the Church of England (mother church of the Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is the branch in the USA) isn't Protestant. It isn't Catholic, either. Then again, it's both (very Zen, I know). Basically, what Mark's argument boils down to is that England is the only country to get it's act together, and it's not Catholic. But since it's not really Protestant either (yes, I know it's both at the same time, no more Zen for now), I'm not sure his argument stands up. England has been variously Catholic and Anglican, and does have the influence of the Protestant Scotland. America is also like this, but also has Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. It seems to me that a specific religion is less a determinant of how a country will be than the richness and diversity of it's culture and willingness to assimilate. Rome was pretty good at that, and they went far. England was (and is) pretty good, and they've gone far. America has been the best so far, and we've gone the furthest of all.

Dangit, another quality post swallowed by Blogger. I guess you get what you pay for. I really should consider moving.

UPDATE: Whoa. Somehow my quality post was saved! (see below)

No...it can't possibly be...it must be an April Fool's trick...

But I'll link to it anyway. Damian Penny isn't too happy with the idiotarian press, and has links to Rense.com and WhatReallyHappened.com. Both, apparently, are even more of idiots than Mr. Penny thought.

WhatReallyHappened, apparently oblivious to the media, issues the following header for a link: "Christian Amanpour proves he is an Israeli shill." Now, I know it's not always easy to tell, but last I checked, Christiane Amanpour was a woman.

Meanwhile, over at Rense, David Levy (which, oddly enough, sounds pretty Jewish to my Gentile ears) is in a lather about the same subject. I'll leave most of the spelling and grammatical errors alone, but I'd like to point out that for someone who calls himself Jewish, it's odd that he can't spell "synagogue" properly. I'd also like to address some points of simple logic.
1. The Israelis say one thing. The Palestinians say they are lying. The objective thing to do is to find out who's right, not to immediately declare this evidence of CNN bias.
2. If the Israeli government had convicted Sharon of being a war criminal, why is he Prime Minister? Oh, I know, it's because the Jews secretly control Israel. Wait. Um.
3. Apparently, killing all the terrorists will cause them to direct their attention to America. Two thoughts. Like they haven't already attacked us? What are these dead terrorists going to do, haunt us?
4. If Israel is forbidding all journalists from entering the war zone, then isn't CNN getting a pretty raw deal supporting them unconditionally?

I don't know, maybe it was just an April Fool's Day prank...

Monday, April 01, 2002

Well, I finally got around to linking some of the people I've been meaning to. Under Millennials, we've got the Ole Miss Conservative. Consie Christers include Krempasky, Midwest Conservative Journal, and Brothers Judd, while Protein Wisdom chose the revolving-name category. Also, we've added two new categories. The category of Plunder and Wimmins, from a South Park episode, is for female bloggers, featuring Spinster for the first time, and as the new home for Natalie Solent. Jay Zilber obviously couldn't be put under Consie Christers, since he's Jewish, so he's got his very own category of "Right-Wing Brews."

If you're in my links, but think you're in the wrong category, please let me know. And no, you can't be in a category in which you're not mocked.

That's right, HokiePundit went nuclear earlier today, touching off a veritable firestorm of hostilities in the Comments section. I didn't intend to sound quite so frustrated, but oh well. Better to be too honest than too concealing.

Cal, my argument is essentially that since Jesus said he was the Son of God and resurrected, then he was either a fool, a liar, or actually was exactly what he claimed to be. If he was a fool, then he certainly couldn't have accomplished his miracles. If he was a liar, then he gained absolutely nothing for his lies except death, and didn't even bother to defend himself at his trials. The possibility of him surviving scourging, crucifixion, and burial and totally regaining his health within three days are just about zero. If he was a hallucination, then he was a very interesting one, in that he manifested himself in the same way to different people (even one of his most bitter enemies, who was persuaded to give up his wealth and power for a life of poverty, hardship, imprisonment, and ultimately martyrdom). You would think that someone like Paul, who had Roman citizenship, a high-quality Greek education, was a respected Pharisee who had studied under the famous rabbi Gamaliel, would've given it up if he'd been in it for the power or money, since he could easily have lived an easy life. Similarly, all the apostles had to do was keep quiet or recant, and they would've been able to live out their lives in peace. Yet none of them did this. Why? If the only accounts of the time say that the event was true, then skeptics need to provide something that can fill the "resurrection-shaped void" in the story.

Let me give heavy credit to Matthew for good use of HTML tags in his post. It was like a symphony for the eyes. You godless deaf heathen who sacrifices goats to Macintosh and AOL

Quote of the Day:
"You are a freethinker, my son?"
I could see Joseph making an effort over himself.
"Yes, Monseigneur."
"Do not let it trouble you. You have been a good and faithful servant to your master. God will overlook the errors of your understanding."

-W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor's Edge

You know, something just occurred to me. I'm sick of the "I'll only believe in God if he proves himself uncategorically to me" argument against belief in general and Christianity in particular. It isn't discerning, it's lazy. Of course you're going to believe something that's proven to you in such a way that you'd have to be out of your mind to dissent. When you make that argument, you're essentially saying that you're willing to do no work whatsoever to find the truth, but that you're open to being dragged kicking and screaming to where you need to be. Such a deal.

There is far more evidence that events in the Bible did happen than that they did not. I suppose it would be easiest to point out that there are very few (if any) eyewitness accounts that contradict biblical accounts. Thus, for instance, you at least twelve men (and women) who swear that Christ rose and they touched him. No dissenters, no recantations. You have the book of Exodus that describes the Jews' leaving Egypt and wandering in the Wilderness. You say that there's no evidence of this? What would you look for? These are people who wandered in the desert for forty years! They didn't build cities or anything like that. The only thing that probably was left was their own dead bodies, and the desert is notoriously harsh on bodies.

Sometimes it's just too much. Jesus said in Luke 8:8 "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." I think some people are just argmentative, and not sincere in their search. Other people think that by just listening, the truth will just magically descend on them. And there are plenty of people who are honestly searching, but either "aren't quite there yet" or who refuse to re-examine some treasured belief that's actually a hindrance. I'm sick of speaking to deaf people (no offense, Dave!).

ADDENDUM: Those who claim there is no evidence for Christ except the testimony of the witnesses, I challenge you to prove the existence of Socrates, Plato, or Aristotle. For that matter, I challenge you to prove that Abraham Lincoln was shot in Ford's Theater in 1865. You can't use any eyewitness accounts, and you must prove conclusively that what you believe to be the body of Lincoln actually is his, and was shot where and when purported.

Heh, check out HawksBlog's MartyrWatch 2002. Let me summarize: nope, not yet.

Theological Foray #8: Did Christ Rise?

Well, Easter just finished, and I was thinking some more about Christ. I don't think this refutes Theological Foray #7, but is just a different take on the subject.

How do you know the apostles weren't just in it for the power? After all, there are a lot of perks to being the head of a church!
There weren't an awful lot of perks to being a Christian back then. All of the original apostles and Paul were martyred except for St. John the Evangelist. They were tortured, and none of them recanted. Furthermore, the only disagreements between the apostles were over practice, not facts. You can allege that they were delusional, but not that they were insincere. If they were sincere, then they must have believed that everything recorded in the gospels and Acts really happened. Therefore, they believed that Christ was crucified, died, buried, and resurrected.

Well, maybe they were delusional. How do you know they weren't just hallucinating?
We know that at least twelve people (the eleven remaining apostles and Mary Magdalene) actually touched him. It's possible that someone is so delusional they believe that something is physical when it isn't, but I've never heard of a case of twelve people all agreeing on the details of a hallucination and of having touched it. Again, none of them ever recanted.

How do you know it wasn't just an impostor?
To be successful, the impostor would've had to be good enough to fool the men who'd best known Jesus for the previous three years. They probably knew almost every detail of him, from how he smelled to the hue of his eyes and hair to way he smiled. He'd only been gone from them for three days, and so they would've forgotten extremely little. Also, the impostor would've had to have been given stigmata. To what end? That's pretty far for a prank. The Romans and Pharisees certainly didn't want Jesus to return. The only possibility if it was an impostor was that it was a disciple, and yet we know that the only disciples to remain faithful during the crucifixion were St. John and several women. They obviously couldn't have pulled the faking off, and so this possibility must be discounted.

Perhaps Jesus didn't really die, and was only in a coma.
We know that Christ was crucified with nails (as opposed to merely rope), punctured with a spear by a Roman soldier, and buried for three days in a tomb. To suggest that he didn't die is to say that a man with broken hands and feet, punctured organs, and no food or water for three days was able to roust himself and roll away the massive stone that sealed his crypt. After that, he had the strength to walk on broken feet to his disciples and convince them that he actually died and was risen. If you can find another case in medical history of someone with similar injuries doing so much, I'd love to hear about it.

Okay, so Christ was resurrected. So what?
Only two things in the world are assured: death and taxes. Jesus bested taxes by stating that we should render unto Caesar those things which are Caesar's. Having beaten death, he proved that there's nothing he couldn't do. After all, what in the world is less controllable than death? If he can do anything, than he must be God. And if he's God, then we'd have to be insane not to follow him.

Sigh. Theological Foray #8 just vanished into the aether.

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