Tuesday, April 30, 2002
Abortion: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Womb
Sunday, April 28, 2002
Saturday, April 27, 2002
"Da*n hippies...they want to save the earth, but all they do is smoke pot and smell bad..."
"Fight the power, refuse to shower!"
Friday, April 26, 2002
Thursday, April 25, 2002
"No, we're not having pre-marital sex. I have no intention of marrying her."
-a friend's AIM Profile
Wednesday, April 24, 2002
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.
Ah, those tolerant Europeans. Unless you're a conservative. Or Jewish. Or American.
Monday, April 22, 2002
Absobloodylutely brilliant. Like James Lileks on a nasty, bitter day. Lovely.
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.
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.
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).
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
-Toni Basil, Mickey
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
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.
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.....
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?
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
U2 -Where the Streets Have No Name, Sunday Bloody Sunday, With or Without You
Trammps -Stayin' Alive
Cypress Hill -(Rock) Superstar
Foo Fighters -Everlong
Primitive Radio Gods -Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand
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
Oh, and J-Blog: get thyself a comments link!
You know, I feel like a debit to society for even bringing this up. Forget I even mentioned it. [/subliminal message]
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
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"
Apparently, the Hot Topic now is cloning. Everyone from Congress to the blogosphere (I prefer the term Blogistan, but that
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
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!
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
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
I've also added the US and Israeli flags, since I support both governments in their current efforts.
"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
Thursday, April 11, 2002
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.
UPDATE: SUCCESS! On to the Old Testament (but not today).
HokiePundit: Threatening Yet Powerless
Wednesday, April 10, 2002
Tuesday, April 09, 2002
Monday, April 08, 2002
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'd also agree not to use the Lord of the Rings pun again.
Sunday, April 07, 2002
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
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.
Friday, April 05, 2002
UPDATE: For more on this, you might try my Theological Foray #3.
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
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.
Wednesday, April 03, 2002
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.
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 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.
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.
Tuesday, April 02, 2002
“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)
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.
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.
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.
UPDATE: Whoa. Somehow my quality post was saved! (see below)
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
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.
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 are a freethinker, my son?"
I could see Joseph making an effort over himself.
"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
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.
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.