Friday, June 28, 2002

Oh, come on. Is that the best you can do to try and discredit the President of the United States? Let's all say it together: Barbara and Jenna Bush are private citizens. Can you say that? I knew you could.

Now, there is apparently no proof other than the accounts of intoxicated eyewitnesses. Two old German ladies thought that another Indian patron at the concert I went to last night was V.S. Naipaul, but they were wrong. Lloyd Grove seems to be giddy at the possibility of the Bush twins being arrested, but given the fact that they didn't cause trouble, didn't get caught by the police or ID-checkers, and the only witnesses to what would be a misdemeanor crime were drinking, I somehow doubt it'll come to that.

Now, I have to ask: would it be okay if we followed (okay, stalked) Lloyd Grove, called the police when he was speeding, and generally mentioned that he picks his nose in public, has a mistress, and never donates to the Salvation Army at Christmas (assuming all these things were to be determined in the course of an investigation, of course)?

Leave the girls alone (let me pester them...)

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Yeah, I'm going native. I can name all monarchs of England since the Norman invasion in order, but not all 43 presidents.

William the Conqueror, William II, Henry I, Stephen, Henry II, Richard the Lionheart, John, Henry III, (end of Plantagenet dynasty) Edward I, Edward II, Edward III, Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, (end of Lancaster dynasty), Edward IV, Edward V, Richard III,(end of York dynasty), Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, "Bloody" Mary, Elizabeth I, (end of Tudor dynasty), James I (VI of Scotland), Charles I, interregnum of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector Richard Cromwell, Charles II, James II, William III (of Orange) and Mary II, Anne, (end of Stuart dynasty), George I, George II, George III, George IV, William IV, Victoria, Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI, Elizabeth II (current Hanoverian/Windsor dynasty)

UPDATE: The OMC can name all US and Confederate presidents.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

That's right, children, HokiePundit actually followed through on a plan! So far, Veritas and JunkYardBlog have RSVPed, with the rest pending.

Oh, and if you were wondering, the URL is right here. I've posted my latest post on religion there as something to try and get the ball rolling, so check it out.

Woo-hoo! It's about time the government stopped promoting idolatry! I refuse to pledge allegiance to a flag or any other object, and impressionable children shouldn't be tricked into doing it either.

Whew! I finally replied to the emails that have been languishing in my mailbox (where there is much weeping and gnashing of teeth...). I feel pretty bad about losing track of them and not responding earlier, but I suppose it's better to be very, very late than to never respond at all.

Meanwhile, having stupidly taken a three-hour nap before going to bed, I've been up most of the night. Aided by two cups each of tea and hot chocolate and a can of Sprite, I'm still fairly alert (what? who said that? the gnomes are stealing my underwear!). I've also been catching up on my reading. So far, I've read Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, I'm mid-way through The House of the Dead by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and I've got Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham (author of The Razor's Edge, one of my favorite books, and one vastly superior to Catcher in the Rye's pointless angst) and Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo next in line. Meanwhile, I'm also working on reading all of the Old Testament (I'll admit to skimming portions of Leviticus and Numbers...), and I'm also half-way through Lee Strobel's The Case for Faith. Basically, Strobel goes and interviews noted apologists such as Peter Kreeft, Norman Geisler, and Ravi Zacharias (among many others) for their answer to some of the toughest criticisms of faith in general and Christianity in particular. It sorta-kinda pretends to be unbiased, but it's obvious to everyone, including the author, that it's a book of apologetics. In any case, since the answers come from the best, they're pretty persuasive. In any case, it's a must-read for Christians interested in defending their faith to atheists and agnostics. Along with Vincent Carroll and Dave Shiflett's Christianity on Trial, it's part of a one-two punch that should leave most critics reeling.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Single White Male, 20, seeks other like-minded Xtian bloggers for group-blog. Willing to split cost of regular hosting on BlogSpot. Disdain for UVA a must. Place inquiries in Comments section or email HokiePundit.

UPDATE: Okay, I've created a blog for this, and it's tentatively called Department of Theology at University of Blogistan. I haven't invited anyone to join yet, but I plan to shortly. I'll start by inviting perhaps four or five of the Christian bloggers I'm most familiar with, and then branch out from there (incidentally, I'd like to share maintenance powers, if any of the invitees are interested). Basically, I want a place similar to Libertarian Samizdata where people who want their theology straight-up without posts on sports, camping trips, school, or other secular things can go. The material doesn't have to be original, and I'd welcome reprints from members' sites (perhaps guest writers as things progress). Ideally, in truncated form, this is how it would look:

KH: [agrees with LF's comments, comes to utterly different conclusion]
CB: [Catholic vs. Protestant thoughts on Virgin Mary]
LF: [agree in part with both CG and MB; forms separate conclusion]
CG: [concern with aspect of MB's post; own thoughts on repentance]
MB: [thoughts on repentance]
HP: [talks about nature of hell]

Make of the initials what you will.

Okay, I've done some thinking, and I've decided that my head is about to explode. In order to let out some of the mounting pressure, I'll reveal the course of thought that brought us to Situation: Critical and request attempts to prove me wrong.

I occasionally take ideas that have occurred to me, and try and take them to their logical conclusion, to see what limits might be present, and what something actually means. Reading the Bible, I came across 1 Corinthians 7:8-10, where Paul basically says that unless you really can't control your urges, you shouldn't get married. This obviously means no fornication, either. Out of curiosity, I looked in the index of my New American Standard Bible, which includes a synonymous phrase with each entry, so "raiment" might have "clothing" next to it in italics. Only, there was nothing next to fornication. I went over to, and was told that it was "[s]exual intercourse between partners who are not married to each other." Well, what is intercourse? A synonym is "exchange." Thus, sexual intercourse must be an exchange of a sexual nature, or, in other words, things that a heterosexual would not do to people of their own sex. Well, apparently since fornication is sexual intercourse with someone not your spouse, then things you wouldn't do to another woman if you already had a wife are banned. If this is the case, then pretty much anything beyond holding hands and a kiss on the cheek is off-limits.

I've checked my logic, and I can't find mistakes. However, since it's my own logic, that means I'm the last person who should be trusted to evaluate it. Any thoughts?

Sunday, June 23, 2002

Quote of the Day:

"With great power comes great responsibility."
-Spider-Man's uncle

The Rest of the World has a problem [insert your own joke here]. Unsurprisingly, it's the United States. Surprisingly, however, is that it's soccer.

For the longest time, America was pretty hapless at soccer. This worked well enough for all parties, since the Rest of the World could pretend every four years (not counting the Olympics) to be equal, with Uruguay and Germany being on a level playing field (I crack myself up). The US wasn't very good, and that was okay since we didn't really care, either. This offended the Rest of the World, but the fact that we would never come close to winning the World Cup helped console them. It was kind of like the UN, since the US didn't really care about it and everyone else pretended to be equal.

The apple cart has been upset. The US did better than Portugal, Argentina, Mexico, Sweden, and France (so did Senegal (snicker)). We did as well as Spain and England, falling out only when facing the mighty Germans (who all look as though they're ready to sit down and design a car or climb into the cockpit of a Messerschmitt and kick some tail). That wasn't supposed to happen. Looks like Happy learned how to putt. Uh-oh...

Illusions have been shattered. For the longest time, America was a power in baseball, basketball, hockey, and just about every other sport which we cared anything about (as well as things like speed-skating, which we don't). Now, we're kicking donkey and taking names at something that most Americans couldn't care less about. You can almost anticipate the UN resolution condemning this American simplisme. The Rest of the World has riots and wars when games don't go the way they want; Americans go to the bathroom in overtime.

U-S-A! U-S-A!

Once again, the Derb has an excellent piece on NRO, detailing the problems with having non-contiguous parts of one state. Now, I will pretend to know more about world politics than I really do and blither for a bit.

Just as an idea to put on the table, what if the Israelis started a policy of seeing (not "recognizing") two Palestines? Divide and conquer and all that. Every time there's a bombing, tanks roll into the West Bank. Gaza is given some bonuses, such as reduced time at checkpoints, and generally treated like a citizen of the world. Eventually, Gaza is recognized and the West Bank is somewhat-permanently occupied. The Palestinians would now have a state, and Israel could say that it's done what it could, but, gee, only a few Palestinians wanted to listen!

Or, they could just let the tanks roll through Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt, not stopping until Baghdad, Riyadh, and Cairo. Whichever.

Okay, lots of stuff to blog about, so off we go!

First, this piece on Elvish propaganda (via InstaPundit). I think I can elaborate. After all, don't the races in Middle Earth resemble some of the powers that be in today's world?

First, as Mr. Moritz notes, we have the Elves. Who else could these be but the French? They do nothing, make up stories about their past glory, try to boss the other peoples around, and then claim credit once all the hard work has been done.

Next, we have the Dwarves. Living in the depths and formerly opponents of the Elves, these must be the Eastern Europeans. They're basically good people, but tend to get tricked a lot, and thus have a fair level of resentment against the rest of Middle Earth. Smart Men would do well to try and gain the aid of the Dwarves, since much could be gained on both sides.

Thirdly, the Hobbits. These are the British. They're a sturdy, reliable people who won't leave you when the going gets tough. Oh, they prefer tea and elevensies over adventure, but it's their iron determination that usually makes or breaks a quest.

Finally, Men. These are the Americans, the most powerful of the races and the ones due to inherit the world. They're often engaged in petty quarrels and like talking about themselves, but when roused, are truly fearsome. It is Men who do the hardest work, and who get the least credit.

Today I went to the Sung Eucharist services at St. Paul's Cathedral (second-biggest cathedral in the world, surpassed only by St. Peter's in the Vatican). It was absolutely wonderful. If you're ever in London, don't miss out.

On other matters, I'm extremely remiss in my updating of links and mentioning of great pieces by other bloggers. I don't have a ton of time while I'm here, so I can only pledge to rectify the situation once I get back to Tech in mid-August.

This post at InstaPundit got me thinking. Whether or not we agree with what Dr. Hauerwas says, it is at least worthy of discussion. Therefore...

(a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away)

Theological Foray #10: God & America Part Deux

From about March of last year until, well, September 11th, I considered myself a Christian pacifist. I've always opposed abortion, but I also decided that the death penalty was wrong. My reasoning was that since God gave life, it's only his to take away. This even applies to lethal self-defense, and it occurred to me that if some maniac broke into my house and I had a wife and kids, I wouldn't, couldn't use deadly force to stop him. Is this heartless or cowardly? I've changed my mind, but I still don't think so. The way I saw it, anyone could die at any moment (I still believe that, as does pretty much the rest of the world). Thus, who was I to prematurely end the life of this attacker? What if he hadn't had a chance to learn about God and repent of his sins? If he killed my family and went to jail, he'd have time to think and might perhaps be saved. If my family had gone to heaven, then there was no harm done, now was there? Of course, it gets more complicated if my family also needed to come to God. However, I reasoned that my wife and I would've had ample time to come to God, and if we hadn't already then it was our own faults (this sounds exactly like my argument about the attacker, but the difference is that I'm choosing not to take life). I don't believe that God condemns those who are too young to know the gospel, and so I wasn't worried about what might happen to my children's souls.

However, with September 11th, that changed. It's not that I thought America was impenetrably secure, or anything like that. I think it just shocked me back into reality. I'm the sort of person that, while I hate rudeness and cruelty, am generally willing to put up with it so long as it's only directed at me. However, the instant you start going for my friends and family (and country, to a slightly lesser extent), that changes. The attacks didn't really harm me. No one I knew was killed, and the loss of part of New York City doesn't directly affect me here in Virginia (the damage to the Pentagon does to some extent, but not very much). What had happened was that a bunch of ignorant xenophobes, motivated by hatred of my country and my religion, had murdered people. To go in after them and prevent them from killing again fits my criteria for a just war. (Let me digress by saying that I still don't think we should execute convicts, though deadly force in their apprehension is allowable if necessary. In my ideal world, we'd ship them off to some remote prison island where they'd be permanently removed from society, and thus unable to do harm.) I'm not sure if Korea, Vietnam, or the Gulf War fit this description or not (I'd have to examine some of the particulars more closely), but this War against Terror does appear to, at least in principle.

A deeper question is implied, though. I touched on it a little in Theological Foray #9, but only superficially. That problem is that the United States doesn't appear to be a nation fully compatible with Christianity. Christians are not called upon to pursue happiness, though liberty and life should be preserved wherever possible. Christians are called upon to obey those set in authority over them. In reference to governments, there is no mention of whether this authority is legitimate or not, and so it would appear that Christians do not have the right to rebel. The Constitution implicitly does give that right, though, with the Second Amendment. If the populace is armed, the government must respect it, and can't just go tyrannizing. Christians have been called upon to endure tyranny and even martyrdom since Christ, and so there doesn't appear to be Biblical reason to change this. It also changes things that all Americans, by being able to vote, are part of the authority that they are set under.

It also occurs to me that unless every single person lived under a communitarian system such as Christ apparently prescribed, it cannot work. All that would be required is one dissident to claim authority over everyone else, and they'd be obligated to obey him. It seems to me that this is almost similar to how heaven works. In heaven, everyone knows who's in charge and they obey him, not only out of duty, but also out of love. When all your needs are met by one all-powerful dictator, then there's no need for dissent or other authorities. Lucifer and the other fallen angels were cast out of heaven for failing in their duty and not loving God.

What is the moral of this? I don't completely know. If my interpretation of either America or the Bible is off by just a little bit, this whole concern might be rendered moot. That's why these are theological forays, and not authoritative essays. Cheers!

Saturday, June 22, 2002

I went to Foot Locker today, since I needed some new shoes. I saw a pair of adidas running shoes that I liked, and so I asked the clerk for a pair in my size, and he asked another employee to get them. As I was waiting, she came by with a pair of shoes and asked "you wanted the adidas?" Only, not quite. She said "you wanted the ah-dee-dahs?" (it vaguely rhymed with la-dee-dah). Now, to an American, this sounds silly. We know that it's "uh-dee-duss." Always has been, always will be (though on the bright side, they seem to be going back to the leaf emblem they had before, and not that weird three-stripe thingy). In any case, the following is a list of simple words that the Brits get, well, wrong.

"vitt-amins" =vitamins
"pesta" =pasta
"saehlsa" =salsa
"ah-dee-dahs" =adidas

There are more, but these are just the ones I've heard today. I would've mentioned aluminum ("al-ooh-min-ee-um"), except that they actually spell it with an "i." Thus, they're simply guilty of poor spelling, rather than poor pronunciation.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

It's been a tiring day. Let me just say that it's almost frustrating how many attractive girls/womenfolk there are in England. I'm not kidding. I think the secret is in the demeanor. By not seeming to know (or at least care) that they're pretty, an Englishwoman makes herself twice as attractive. (sigh). Seriously, it's impossible to even ride the subway without having some stunning girl in your car. One can't stay in England forever, though, and so, alas...

Anyway, I utilized Jimi Hendrix' facilities. I'm working at the Handel House Museum in London, which is the place where George Frederick Handel lived for many years. Right next door is the place where Jimi Hendrix lived from 1968-1969, and the HHM owns both townhouses. Thus, Hendrix' bedroom is the office, and another of his rooms is the lounge. His bathroom is our bathroom. I've also bumped my head on the tiny, scary stairway from the lounge to the office that apparently members of the Rolling Stones bumped their heads on, many years ago. Apparently, several members of the Stones used our lounge as a guest bedroom on occasion, and fell down the tiny, scary stairway several times after getting stoned. Thus, they were rolling stoners (ba-bump ching)!

Lastly, I'm getting up at 7:30 to watch the England-Brazil game, and I'll use my lunch hour to catch the second half of the USA-Germany game. Being an optimist, I think both England and the US will win (and will hopefully meet in the finals, with America winning, of course). I'll say 3-2 in overtime for England, and 3-3 (4-3) shootout win for the US. I'm sure just to spite me, Brazil and Germany will crush the Good Guys, but perhaps not.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Three things:

1. Blogging will resume later today (it's Thursday here in Britain).
2. I'll respond to the emails that have been languishing in my mailbox. I should have responded to them when I got them, but things are busy here. I offer my apologies to anyone who may feel insulted.
3. I peed in Jimi Hendrix' bathroom today. Details to follow.

Friday, June 14, 2002

Okay, HokiePundit will be on hiatus for a little bit until his internships and such get well underway. I've done a lot of thinking about religion lately, and I need a break where I'm just concentrating on reading fiction, doing a job, and having fun (blogging is fun, too). I'd guess I'll be back in about a week. In the meantime, check out the links to the left, since they're all excellent and come with the Official HokiePundit Seal of Approval.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Yes, there were birthday celebrations and libations yesterday. I won't go into it, other than to say that it's something everyone should do once to find out what it's like, and then never do again if they have any brains at all. Strangely, though, I felt fine this morning (and still do). In any case, now that I'm so much more mature, I'll be going back to pondering religion and theology again before too long.

Monday, June 10, 2002

I'm thinking of adding a short list of "Best Of" things at the bottom of my links. I'll probably include all my Theological Forays, plus a few other things that stroke my ego to remember.

UPDATE: Okay, I decided to just have my basic works, rather than my best works. If you want HokiePundit Digest, there you are.

Today, we celebrate two decades of me. No more teenage angst!

I don't completely understand why some conservatives diss soccer. Just because the Europeans and Marxists (but I repeat myself...) like it doesn't mean that Americans can't enjoy it.

Soccer should be beloved of Americans, and particularly conservatives. After all, the Italians call it "the beautiful game" (mostly because they don't watch Team USA...), and while we don't agree with Italy on everything, most people are willing to defer to Italian senses of what is beautiful. Soccer also utilizes one of the greatest things in the US: the Imperial system of weights and measures. A soccer field is 100 yards long, with divisions at 6, 18, and 50 yards. The ball itself has a very anti-metric 60 faces, though the newer balls that resemble volleyballs may be designed to thwart this. When America puts its mind to a sport, we dominate. While the announcer this morning snidely remarked that Americans were only interested in sports we'd invented (hockey was created by an American, though basketball came from a Canadian), he also missed the fact that we tend to dominate the summer Olympics and do pretty well at the winter ones as well. Our women's soccer team is one of the best in the world, and won the last Olympics (if I remember correctly). Soccer also doesn't really promote diversity. Who were the top teams in the 1950s? Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Germany, Uruguay, and England (patriotism at its finest!). Who are the top teams now? The same, with the possible additions of Sweden, Spain, and France (snicker) and loss of Uruguay. America is getting better, and may actually make it to the second round. We're actually ranked by FIFA as #13 in the world, right behind #12 England. Furthermore, new participants who work hard and display skill can upset the old powers (France v. Senegal, Portugal v. USA, etc.), which is the very essence of the conservative work ethic. Furthermore, while the lack of scoring is often called a bad thing for soccer, I have to disagree. If you've ever been in a pub when the winning goal was scored by the home team, you know what I mean. Basketball games, with scores of 106-98, are pretty boring, and there's no real sense of accomplishment. Football's better, but it's very common for a team to score every quarter, often with little effort. Baseball is simply one of the dullest sports I know of, rivalling only cricket.

Most importantly, America has its own name for what virtually everyone else calls "football." If that isn't American exceptionalism, I don't know what is.

Congrats are due to Patrick Carver (aka Ole Miss Conservative) for moving onto Blogspot! I'd noticed a while ago, but hadn't had a chance to update my links. He was also kind enough to list something I said as his Quote of the Day.

In return, the Lyrics of the Day for today shall be from a song I first heard on the OMC's website (his archives are kind of funky right now, or else I'd link to it).

"I must have been confused or vain
to let this evil in my brain.
Lord did I enjoy the change
that you made inside my heart?
Oh here they come
I'm not afraid
there's no temptation I can't evade.
Stand up straight
look through the haze
I begin to walk through the maze
here they come
they're all up on me
but I'm dead to sin like
some kind of zombie.
I hear you speak and I obey
some kind of zombie
I walked away from the grave
some kind of zombie
I will never be afraid
some kind of zombie
I gave my life away.
I'm obliged and obey
I'm enslaved to what you say."
-Audio Adrenaline, Some Kind of Zombie

Okay, some catch-up:

1. I had haggis in Scotland. It's actually not all that bad. It tastes kind of like scrapple, but without the taste of ash. It usually comes with neeps and tatties, which are squash and potatoes.

2. There's been some response to my Theological Foray #9 from Mark Byron, Mark Butterworth, and Kevin Holtsberry. I've read their posts, but I still need to consider it some more. I do appreciate them taking the time, though.

3. I forgot. I had something to put here, but it slipped my mind.

4. That's right, I was going to talk about the new Star Wars movie, Attack of the Clones and the Clonetroopers. Honestly, I had mixed feelings. In the big battle scenes, they were treated as just props to be destroyed at random. To be fair, so were the Jedi, which was a bad thing as well. However, there were some high points. We actually saw them talking, and it seemed as if we were seeing what good Stormtroopers should be like. One was blown out of the gunship along with Amidala, and not only survived, but made his way over to where she was and helped radio for assistance. On the other hand, when Obi-Wan and Anakin were dropped off to fight Count Dooku, two Clonetroopers got off with them. They mysteriously disappeared, which kind of irked me. Also, there were at least three ranks of Clonetrooper, and they all seemed to have personalities. It was a little eerie seeing all the little troopers in training, but not overly so. Overall, I think that a bright picture of cloning was actually put forth. (Via Mark Butterworth".)

FYI: Tomorrow, HokiePundit hits the big "2-0."

I woke up at 7:30 this morning to watch the US-South Korea World Cup game. We ended up tying, but I was surprised by several things.

1. Our team doesn't play the same way that others do. We get an A for effort, and about a C- for skill (compared with teams like Italy and Brazil, which get an A for skill but only a B- for effort). It looked sloppy, but our players kept hurling themselves in front of shots which was useful. However, what surprised me was the enmity the Koreans had towards us. Apparently they're still sore that some South Korean speedskater was disqualified in the last Olympics after an American protested. Eh, whatever. It's just the Olympics. Meanwhile, the Koreans played pretty dirty. There was some roughness from America, but the Koreans were tripping, pulling, and pushing the Americans all over the place. This kind of cheating has really angered me, since it seems to be the norm rather than the exception in professional soccer. In the house league I played in, this kind of stuff was rare. If you got beaten, you tried to catch up. You didn't do stuff gratuitously. Even when those [jerks] from the Saudi Academy beat my team 11-0, we didn't go around kicking them in the knees. However, I've noticed that kids who grew up playing in the hyper-competitive select (also called travel) leagues always played dirty. They had a lot of skill, but they never let that skill get in the way of a cheap shot. It was common for the parents to get warned and thrown out of games (by comparison, I can only think of three parents from my eleven years of house soccer who were jerks like that (two being married to each other) and one who was kicked out of the game for yelling at the referee for not calling a foul after a particularly brutal play that caused the guy's son to be taken away in an ambulance (our coach, in disgust, had us just leave and forfeit the game, since these officiating shenanigans had been going on all game). I'm not envious of the select players. I tried out for and made a select team, which I promptly quit. Since I'd proved that I could make it, there was no need for me to actually put up with these poor-sports. I can honestly say that I was never given a card, despite the fact that I played physically (I'm not that great at ball-handling, but I'm big and fast, so I had a sort of "moving wall" defense which worked very well and was prone to plays that weren't very hard but looked spectacular from the sidelines. Also, one of my favorite things to do was when a small forward (aka striker) was running but not looking where he was going, I'd move over to a place where he'd be running and plant myself, causing him to smack into me (it's his fault, since I was there first) and usually fall down. I don't consider that dirty play, since I didn't actually do anything to him, and it was his own fault for not looking where he was going and running into a spot I had claimed.).

2. I disliked the commentator. He seemed to be very anti-American, constantly making snide remarks. The one that most got me was when he kept calling Bruce Arena "America's winningest coach," you could almost hear him snickering off-mike. However, the color guy was a decent fellow, ranging from neutral to admiring our team for the sheer effort being put forth, since we were playing in Korea to a loud audience that was 90% Korean. The halftime analysts were even better, with great respect being displayed for how Team USA was playing. The game ended 1-1, but it was a good effort on our part.

3. Our team has an odd way of playing. The passing was sloppy, and the Koreans were faster and often bigger than we were. It seemed that we were constantly playing defense due to our poor passing, but through pure dogged persistence, we managed to score a very pretty goal. If we can learn to pass better, we'll be an extremely difficult team to beat. The color guy respectfully noted that with our huge population and diversity, we'll be unstoppable if we can ever find the eleven best players in America.

Okay, I'm back from Scotland. We headed up to Glasgow, where we had a lecture on how the Scottish Parliament works, which was as interesting as anything can be after sitting on a train for six hours. He did win the prize for "best joke told in Scotland during my trip," though, with the following:
Classmate: "Weird, I hear Scottish music coming from that room over there..."
Lecturer: "Yes, it's piped in."

Anyway, we then wandered around Glasgow, which was a decent city, though not all that interesting. The next day, we met with Keith Raffen in Edinburgh, a Lib-Dem MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament), who was a very entertaining guy, though he was one of the "Dirty Dozen" Conservatives that ousted Thatcher. The Lib-Dems seem to essentially be like American Libertarians, sometimes being so right that you want to pump your fist, and sometimes being so mind-bogglingly wrong that you want to bang your head against the table a few times. Anyway, after his dissing of Thatcher and Reagan, I decided not to ask him a softball question designed to stroke his ego as a way of saying "thank-you" for taking the time to speak with us. After that, we had a few hours in Edinburgh to ourselves. The idea was that we would go with our professor to a pub and eat lunch while discussing what we'd learned about the Scottish Parliament. Most of the guys and I really wanted to see the imminent England-Argentina game, while the girls all wanted to go shopping. Our professor, not caring about soccer, wasn't going to let us go. However, the first pub we went to had a broken fryer, so they weren't serving food. As we were walking along searching for another, one of the girls piped up with "Professor, how about we all split so the boys can watch their game?" No sooner had he said that this was okay, and that those who wanted to could accompany him to Holyrood (where the Scottish Parliament building was being constructed), than the girls vanished. The guys were left essentially in a position where we had to go with the professor, and making me realize that we'd been used. In any case, we went to another pub which also turned out not to be serving food, but we watched the first half of the game there since we were all tired and felt like sitting. England scored, and we were happy (though more than a few Scots were going for Argentina since they apparently hate the English, which seems more than a little immature to me). After this, the guys left and we found another pub, where we watched the second half and England hold on to beat Argentina. From there, it was time to look in the shops, which all seemed to be selling swords and plaid. It occurred to me fairly quickly that something was amiss, since every store had virtually the same merchandise at the exact same price. Since none of them had anything in my family tartan, I decided to wait until I went to the Robertson Museum to make my purchases. We then met up by the Scott Monument, which looks like a structure of Pure Evil rising up from the center of the city. If I had to imagine a demonic church rising out of the ground at the Apocalypse, it would look a lot like the Scott Monument. From there, we met a friend of my professor's who was a rabid SNP (Scottish National Party) member who wanted independence for Scotland. I talked to him, and got the impression that while the Scottish may dislike the English, they wouldn't do very well on their own, and besides which have a disproportionate influence as members of the United Kingdom. I had planned to go to Perthshire the next day, to see my family museum. However, one of the girls at our table had been left out of the planning (we all had the weekend free, and were going in different directions), and asked if she could go with me. I couldn't very well say no (don't snicker, I try to be a gentleman), so off we went the next day.
I took a train to Perth, where we got a hotel room cheap (with three beds, which was an unexpected bonus). From there, I travelled to Pitlochry and then Blair Atholl, in an attempt to get to the hamlet of Bruar, where the museum was. However, along the way I walked by Blair Castle, so I decided to go have a look around. Figuring that it couldn't take very long, I didn't have a problem with it. The castle itself was very impressive, with plenty of 18th- and 19th-century expensive stuff on the walls. Unfortunately, it was also huge, and so by the time I finished, my museum was closed. I plan to go to Scotland again while I'm over here, but I was kind of disappointed that I didn't get a chance to see the museum on Saturday. The next day, I headed back to Glasgow, and then back to London. It was a fun enough trip, and Scotland is exceptionally beautiful, but I still wish I'd made it to Bruar.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Theological Foray #9: Can We Live Both the American Dream and Obey God's Will?

I think I have pretty much the same desires as any other guy. I'd like to get my degree (and any further ones if necessary) and get a job that I enjoy and that pays reasonably well. I'm considering the military, but it's not my first choice. I'd like to marry a girl shortly after I graduate with my terminal degree, spend a few years being a starry-eyed young couple, and then start a family somewhere between ages 25 and 30. I'd like to have three or four kids, a dog, my own home, job security, and a productive hobby like car maintenance (or perhaps Biblical archaeology, like Indiana Jones' father...maybe not...). I'd like to send all my children through whatever it takes to get them to their first job, and then live a happy semi-retired life with my wife, with maybe a garden with daffodils and honeysuckles on the back fence. I think it's pretty reasonable, and is just about what most people want out of life.

However, I'm not sure that this ideal is what God wants. Jesus and the disciples lived a pretty austere life, and were told to even reject their families. Several times they went out as beggars with only one tunic apiece. Then we have Paul, who in his letters says to marry only if you think you can't restrain yourself from sex. Looking over lives of the saints, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Mother Teresa seem to be the ideals. St. Thomas More is admirable, and while he certainly was a true martyr, I'm not sure that he lived the gospel to the fullest (I'm not trying to attack his credentials, since I'm sure that St. Francis et al. weren't perfect, either), since he was rich. It seems as if the only way to truly live the gospel is to go dirt-poor and serve others. There's certainly room for Christians in positions of power, but it almost seems as if they're not on the same level. While I don't believe in continuous reincarnation, it reminds me of Hinduism, with St. Francis being at the stage just before Nirvana, and St. Thomas More being a step or two away. Since we've only got one shot, a near-miss is unacceptable.

I think I'm lucky in that I have a grasp on at least one solid interpretation of the Bible. However, I don't know, and I hope it isn't the only way to fulfil what we're commanded to do. Given the chance, I'd like to have a family and also do God's work. This is definitely one area where Comments are heavily solicited, and will be greatly appreciated.

p.s. I know that St. Francis et al. weren't perfect, but I was using him as the ideal of a poor, suffering servant. I'm also not sure if Nirvana is a Hindu or Buddhist concept, but I hope my point was conveyed well enough.

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Just added Dispatches from Outland to the Consie Christers section. Check it out.

Life is Beautiful Dep't: Tonight I went to the Globe Theatre in Southwark to see A Midsummer Night's Dream. I'd never seen or read it before, so I wasn't sure to expect. It didn't seem well to me that we had gotten "standing room" tickets, so I knew I'd be on my feet for several hours (I consoled myself by realizing that I'm on my feet for just as long for Virginia Tech football games, so it's not like I couldn't hack it). Anyway, it turned out better. In fact, it turned out to be outstanding and one of the best and most entertaining things I've ever seen. Afterwards, my group walked across the Millennium Bridge directly opposite the illuminated dome of St. Paul's Cathedral on our way to the subway. It was beautiful. What it did was make me wish I was on my honeymoon with my new wife arm-in-arm, where we'd have some champagne and then fall into a peaceful sleep.

I'm a poet at heart, really. I'm happy.

No Dave, I'm not the one who'll be damning you...

Meanwhile, you're staying firmly in the "Heathens and/or Liberals" section. Sinner.

Okay, I've been slacking in blogging. I've produced exactly one piece of substance in the past few weeks, and I'm seriously behind in my reading of blogs. I try to catch them when I can, but it seems like I just have time for quick glances at Drudge and Instapundit (no click-throughs), and then it's time to get back to London. I've got a few posts on Protestantism/Anglicanism/Catholicism, how to live for God, and other religious things bouncing around in my head, but they're not fully developed yet. My apologies.

Sunday, June 02, 2002

In light of the way this trip is turning out, I've temporarily renamed this blog. I suspect that no one cares what I've had to drink while over here, but for my own edification, I'll list the ones I had in Brussels: Maes, Judas, Kriek, and Corona. I also went clubbing for the first time, which was...interesting. You see, one of the people in our group had a friend from Austria who goes to school in Germany who happened to be in Brussels with his friends while we were there. On Friday, these Germans and most of the people from our group went clubbing, with the result that one German girl was hit upon by all sorts of people, two were crying (one because she was looking, score, and my friend jokingly hit on her, the other because my friend put his hand on her shoulder and she freaked out because she doesn't like being touched), and the other one wasn't talking to the Austrian for some reason. As it was explained to me before we all went out on Saturday, I came to the conclusion that touching or flirting with them was a bad idea, since I was afraid they'd start screaming if I even looked at them. Thus, I danced with the girls from my own group (I got the impression that because I didn't do the bump and grind, I wasn't highly regarded as a dance partner). The German guys were very cool, though. One worked for Porsche, to all the Americans' interest, and both were very shy. I helped one of them ask two of the girls in our group to dance, and it seems like a fun time was had by all. It occurred to me that after three beers I'd lost fine motor control (I wasn't drunk, but I don't like moving if I can't control every single aspect of how I move; if you know me, you know that I walk very precisely, and that I even do other movements with precision), so I just sat and grooved to the music, happy that I'd helped my new friend dance with some pretty girls.

Brussels isn't that interesting of a city. They've got a very quaint town square, complete with Rococo architecture from 1698 and a huge tower that can be seen from most of the city. Other than that, however, there isn't much. There's a huge thing that looks vaguely like an atom from a World's Fair that they slap on postcards, and a statue of a naked little boy peeing. I kid you not. Apparently he put out a fire a couple centuries ago in that pose, and the rest is history. The Belgians make a lot of money selling trinkets to foreigners who will later be embarassed to own them. The most inventive I've seen are a cork with the statue on top so that when you mix drinks, it comes out...well, you know. A close second was a corkscrew with the screw...again, you know where. I felt vaguely dirty near that statue, so I didn't hang out there very much. I did eat a Belgian waffle over there (I'm sure the Belgians don't actually eat them, and just serve them to tourists), which was very good. I got lost a lot, too, which was okay since I found a place that served the best spaghetti I've ever tasted for only about six euros.

Speaking of euros, I found out that the person on the euro coins doesn't exist. Neither do the buildings on euro notes. I'm at a loss to explain this, other than to suspect the French.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?