Saturday, December 28, 2002
I'm off to sunny San Francisco for the San Francisco Bowl vs. Air Force (Dec. 31, 7:30 EST, ESPN) until about January second, so no blogging until then. Perhaps a piece on the social contract and when and why we may disregard it upon my return?
Tuesday, December 24, 2002
A friend of mine recently sent me (and one of the listservs on which I participate) an article about a Christianity vs. Atheism debate, which sparked some of the natural gas that tends to make up my thinking. While the resulting conflagration wasn't exactly the Hindenburg, I thought I'd share it. I also decided not to use any more stupid metaphors until at least midnight.
I'll start by declaring my stance. I believe that the Bible is infallible, properly understood. There are times where idiom is used, places where small details are missing (by this I mean the name of a village, for example), times where I would've phrased the translation from Hebrew or Greek better in order to convey what is meant, and places where we too often read specifics into generalities and vice-versa. That said, I fully believe that God created Eve from Adam's rib, that Daniel's friends were thrown into a fire and were unharmed, and that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. God is present, and may intervene at His discretion if we ask Him (praying). I believe in that we have free will, though defining this is difficult, since I don't necessarily know enough to say what kind this is.
One of my favorite quotes is by Benjamin Jowett, and is "My dear child, you must believe in God in spite of what the clergy tell you."
The problem with the clergy is that while they are usually very well-meaning, they're also human and subject to the same faults and problems of vision as the rest of us. Thus, we have silly situations where not only is Christianity divided into several major and minor schisms, but some of the adherents to different denominations refuse to even share Communion. There have been stupid wars fought over things as major as whether or not the Pope is God's prophet on earth and as minor as whether the Trinity should be symbolized by three fingers up or three fingers down while crossing oneself. Major or minor, an unclouded look at our Christian faith shows that neither of these matters. Too often, those not of our faith see only these exchanges, and thus can be excused for thinking that they represent Christianity and not just Christians as fallible humans.
The very core of Christianity is the "Great Commandment." Jesus says to one who asks which of the Commandments, which the questioner considers to be the Ten Commandments, is the greatest that the greatest is to know that there is one God, and to love Him with all our heart, mind, and body. He then says that the second-greatest is to love our neighbors in a like manner, and that all other commandments are based on these two. When Christians say that a certain practice is wrong, it ought to be because it violates one or both of these laws. Too often, we simply say that "the Bible says _____ is wrong," without explaining what we mean. A cookbook says not to add too much salt to your stew; the Bible says not to gamble. What's the difference? It's not just that we believe the Bible to be the literal Word of God, and thus worthy of our obedience based simply on that. It's that Christians believe that
gambling violates one or both parts of the Great Commandment.
There can, of course, be plenty of debate over whether or not things are in violation. Is taxation okay because it helps those less fortunate, or is it wrong because it takes from a person without their explicit consent? I don't mean to answer questions like that in this post, but merely to use it as an example. All sorts of issues are questionable, and while I believe that the status of them as either legitimate or in violation can be determined, reasonable people may disagree. If one does seek to honestly obey the Great Commandment, though, it's hard to go too wrong.
Many nonbelievers say that, as rational human beings, they need more proof before making a decision. Christians are typically aghast at this, and feel that if eyewitness accounts of miracles, the power of prayer, and the world around us isn't evidence enough, then no matter what evidence can be produced, it's not going to be considered enough. There were two things that convinced me. The first was looking at a diagram of the human body in my Anatomy class, and just deciding that the most reasonable explanation for something as complex and well-designed as the body must be conscious design, and that a Creator must therefore exist. Secondly, I noticed that when I tried following the part of the Great Commandment about loving my neighbor (also called the Golden Rule), things seemed to work better. I was happier and more productive, and it almost seemed as though I was luckier, though I eventually realized that this "luck" was simply my patience and faith paying off in the long run by not panicking.
This is Christianity. Whether or not to use alcohol during Communion, whether the Pope can speak infallibly, whether or not it's right to have priests are all important in their way, but they should never get in the way of the basics. Christianity reveals little, if anything, that we didn't already know, both as a culture and as individuals. Christians are called to serve others, even if it means their own death. To me, the main symbolism of the cross is recognizing that Christ died for this belief, and that we should be willing to do the same. Everything else is secondary, and can wait if it begins to get in the way of loving and serving others.
Friday, December 20, 2002
That's right, I saw the new Lord of the Rings movie. Who wants to touch me?
(mild spoilers ahead)
I enjoyed it. There are very high expectations when you begin with something as good as The Fellowship of the Ring to follow it up with something of the same high quality. The Empire Strikes back was pretty good, while Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was fairly awful. The Two Towers is different from its predecessor. In the first installment, there was a lot of introduction. Meet Frodo. Meet Frodo's lovable friend, Sam. Meet Gandalf the Grey, Aragorn the Secret True King of Gondor, Legolas the Uber-Archer, Gimli the Dwarven Comic Relief, Merry the Somewhat-Sensible Comic Relief, Pippen the Hapless Comic Relief, Boromir the Foreshadowed, Saruman the Mean, and all that. We learned that the Ring is too powerful to safely exist, and must be destroyed by taking it to the enemy's lair. There's a lot of soul-searching. In this episode, however, what we get is a lot of fighting. I'm not kidding. We see men vs. orcs/uruk-hai, men vs. wolf-riding orcs, men vs. men, men and elves vs. more uruk-hai than you can shake a pointed stick at, trees vs. orcs, and probably some other permutations I've forgotten.
There are also new introductions. We meet Theoden, king of Rohan, and his nephew Eomer and his niece Eowyn. We see his evil advisor Grima Wormtongue. Gollum, quite simply, is awesome. I honestly think that he, or at least the actor who voiced him, should get an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
The Two Towers wasn't quite as faithful to the book as The Fellowship of the Ring, however. Some of the changes were pretty minor, such as not visiting Treebeard's house, while others were somewhat odd. It's been a few years since I last read LOTR, so it's possible that I may simply have forgotten these things, but I don't remember Aragorn falling off the cliff or Elrond leaving so soon. I won't say that they took away from the experience, but I was a little baffled.
The trouble with writing a review such as this, especially when you've read all the books, is that it's very easy to give away a lot of important things, so I'm going to err on the side of caution and stop. Once The Return of the King is released next year, I may be able to start spilling my guts.
Go see this movie.
Wednesday, December 18, 2002
Sick of Bing Crosby? Try these:
Oy to the World (via Dispatches from Outland)
Christmas Eve in Sarajevo
Will this site manage 20,000 (~3,000 when we subtract my own visits) hits before 2003? Only time will tell.
I don't know how much my compadres in Blogger Bowl 2k3 would appreciate knowing that I only made one change in my roster all season long (I wish I hadn't, since I was trying to see how well I'd do with a completely computer-selected team). I'm fourth place out of ten, which is probably far better than I'd be if I'd actually managed the team.
I'm sure there's a lesson in there somewhere, but I'm too busy studying for my Research Methods exam to find it right now.
Read this, now. All of it. It's worth your time.
(link via InstaPundit)
Gun ownership is one manifestation of the basic human right to not be harassed. It is a right and a responsibility, and one that requires maturity. Despite not owning any guns (okay, I own a Powerline Airstrike 240 pellet pistol, but that doesn't count at all), I'm a member of the NRA. I'd like to own at least one, and hopefully several firearms and learn to be a decent shot with each of them. I'm pretty nonconfrontational, and I strongly prefer diplomacy, debate, and negotiation to force and coercion wherever possible. If, however, your opponent is demented or simply believes that he stands a better chance of getting what he wants than being hurt or killed, then you need to up the ante and display how far you're willing to go. A man with a gun can only be beaten by ambush/tactics, by his own incompetence, or by risking your own life. A man trained to use his gun properly is only going to be vulnerable if you can sneak up on him or you're very lucky. In any of these cases, your chance of gaining his property while remaining unharmed is very small, and thus smart criminals know that they should only prey on the defenseless. However, there will always be lunatics, and it's imperative that citizens and society be able to use whatever means appropriate to prevent harm from coming to themselves. If someone like Jesse Ventura decided he'd like to have my guts for garters, there isn't very much I could do unarmed, short of hoping to evade him. If I had a pistol, I'd be in a much better position. Even if we were both armed, my assailant would have to work much harder to get me, and if he had any sense would look for an easier target. This is also where the value of concealed weaponry comes into play. When you don't know who might be armed, you have to start with the assumption that everyone is potentially armed, and this should deter most would-be attackers from their crimes.
This argument also works on other scales. The US has the best defense in the world, and could easily defeat (or at least contain) the conventional forces of nearly any opponent without much of a problem. No sane country threatens us with more than trade restrictions or a UN condemnation. Only North Korea is insane enough to think of doing so. Terrorists may threaten us and our true friends and allies, they know that not only will we attempt to kill or capture them as soon as we can find them, but that we can actually do it. If you threaten Sweden or New Zealand, you're not going to have Swedish SAS knocking at your door or a Kiwi drone launching missiles at your SUV. Send maniacs to crash into our buildings, and we'll kill your leaders, ravage your followers, and, when we find out who helped you, beat them to a bloody pulp as well. Smart people leave people like us alone. We're not worth the risk. And for the lunatics, there should always be interdiction, SDI, and pre-emption.
Tuesday, December 17, 2002
While I think we all already knew that DavidMSC needed help, he's finally admitted this. Help him out.
And yes, I expect the Comments box to be filled to capacity by comments from Christian.
(link courtesy of Will)
I wish I was gay, so I could get chicks.
(courtesy The Roommate)
We have assumed control.
We have assumed control.
We have assumed control.
I had intended to add several new people to by blogroll, but got distracted by whining about how little time I had. I suspect I've still left off some people, but it's 2AM, and thus my memory's not exactly perfect at the moment.
The roses and envelope, please.
And the winners are:
Pulver Press in the Consie Christers category and SCSTT and Ravenwood's Universe in the Fighting Gobblers category! Let's hear it for them and drive up their hit counters!
The rest of you can get the fudge out.
Well, unless you're a visitor (we call them "VIPs" here), that is.
|"God will not suffer man to have the knowledge of things to come; for if he had prescience
of his prosperity he would be careless; and understanding of his adversity he would be senseless."
|You are Augustine!|
You love to study tough issues and don't mind it if you lose sleep over them.
Everyone loves you and wants to talk to you and hear your views, you even get things like "nice debating
with you." Yep, you are super smart, even if you are still trying to figure it all out. You're also
very honest, something people admire, even when you do stupid things.
What theologian are you?
A creation of Henderson
So some say I'm Aquinas, and some say I'm Augustine...will a sainted cage match be necessary?
On the other hand, it does shore up my credentials as an Augustinian Wonder Boy...
I'm going to be up all night studying for my Latin final in a few hours, so I shall blog every so often to give myself a rest. When I started randomly saying "ceno, cenare, cenavi, cenatum...hic, haec, hoc, huius, huius, huius" at work today, I knew I needed a break.
(link and post title courtesy Josh "Can't Spell My Own Last Name Properly" Baugher)
Yesterday, I made the blissful discovery that when I turn Internet Explorer's security level from Low ("Gullible") to High ("Paranoid"), nearly all pop-ups disappeared.
You cannot run Blogger under those settings. A brave little scout post was sacrificed so that General HokiePundit could know this. "No problem," I said, "I'll just use Netscape when I blog!"
Silly me. You can't use Blogger Pro with Netscape.
So what I think I may do is just switch my settings for the time I blog, and then immediately turn it back on.
Also, while I was at work today, my computer accessed this page ten times in a row (either that, or my roommate has some odd fetish). Odd.
Friday, December 13, 2002
You know, I just noticed something. Nearly all the movies and songs I have (at least here with me) are somewhat...not exactly bittersweet, and not exactly depressing, but...sort of sad or tired. Maybe tragic is the word for which I'm looking (just to clarify, I've been making an attempt not to end my sentences with prepositions). For movies, I've got A Bridge Too Far, The Man Who Would Be King, The Way of the Gun, RAN, Gettysburg, Play Misty for Me, King Ralph, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Ghost Dog: the Way of the Samurai, and The Razor's Edge. As for music, I've got Reel Big Fish with songs like "Beer," "Where Have You Been?" "Everything Sucks," and "Sell Out," NOFX with their usual depressing punk stuff, Kansas' "Carry On, Wayward Son," Sublime's melancholy reggae, the Canadian Brass' baroque, Eminem, Christian music by the Insyderz, O.C. Supertones, and Audio Adrenaline, the Gin Blossoms' alternative, and the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack (oh, and let's not forget The Police). I suppose Cake, Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American," and Eddie from Ohio are pretty optimistic, but that seems to be it. Now, I'm assuming that I'm not projecting something onto what I hear, but it seems like everything is tragic, and that really gets me down. I'll admit that (very) deep-down, I'm a romantic, and the idea of the tragedy of a person going down fighting despite knowing that they cannot possibly win or even survive appeals to me. Still, that's not the way life is, and I'd like to get past it.
Of course, I've just finished the Civil War chapters of my abridged version of Churchill's History of the English-Speaking Peoples, so that might be part of it.
"I mean, I'm Episcopalian, right, so it's not like I'm a big literal Bible guy or anything, but still, this is Jesus we're talking about here."
-Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer (via Kevin Holtsberry)
The headline and the story in this story don't really seem to have much to do with each other. Yes, Moby insulted Eminem in an interview, and Eminem retaliated by insulting Moby in the song "Without Me, " with lines such as the following (warning: somewhat obscene):
"And Moby? You can get stomped by Obie*
You thirty-six year old boy fag, blow me
You don't know me, you're too old, let go
It's over, nobody listens to techno..."
*Obie Trice is another rapper, shown in the video picking up a meditating Moby and dumping him on the ground (a man in a rabbit costume then walks by and kicks Moby while a cartoon thought bubble saying "Nirvana at last!" appears).
However, Eminem never advocated violence against Moby. Furthermore, there's no evidence that these thugs were Eminem fans (I actually have both Play by Moby and Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP, so I can claim neutrality). What I think we've got is a case of a newspaper desperate for a story.
If you'd like to judge for yourself, the video can be accessed at the Eminem website, under the Audio/Video section (obviously, it's obscene, so you've been warned).
Thursday, December 12, 2002
...which means that I'm about 1/4th done with my paper for Political Theory 3016, due tomorrow at 5PM. I'm supposed to analyze Fight Club from the perspectives of Karl Marx and Michel Foucault, with such things as the power of the norm, the panopticon, and modes of production. I haven't decided whether to stay up all night on it, do some now and the rest after a nap, all tomorrow, or something in-between. As I seem to do my best writing at 4AM the day an assignment is due, I'll probably stay up late, complete most of it, and then finish and revise it after I wake up.
After that, I need to try and learn a semester's worth of Latin over one weekend, and then be prepared to analyze a twenty-page paper for my Research Methods 2024 class. Posting will be sporadic, as is my wont.
As you may know, I work as the server in the Dietrick pasta line MWF during lunch. I've gotten to where I know what a lot of the regulars want, and they all seem to appreciate it. The athletes are easy to remember, not only because they usually want a heaping plate of pasta drenched with sauce and tend to be huge, but because they're always very polite and friendly. I don't think any current members of the football team are there, but there is a redshirt Freshman and a Junior who just transferred from NC State who I always chat with, and who are pretty cool guys. Today, not knowing that I was already going to the game, one of them offered me a ticket to the San Francisco Bowl, right out of the blue after I'd wished him luck on his finals! I felt bad having to say that I didn't need it, but I was stunned that he'd think of me, his pasta server, and offer to give me something as valuable as that. Wow.
Also today, my friend told me that her roommate liked it when I'm the server there, since I'm always happy and brighten her day. It's weird, since several people have told me lately that they like how I always seem to be happy and never let the world get to me. All I can say is that if that's how I come off, I'm really pleased. I tend to think of a pessimist who's trying hard (with mixed success) to be an optimist. I don't really pretend that I'm happy when I'm not, and I generally try to look on the bright (or at least ironic) side of things. I've been told that saying about how if you try to smile enough, eventually you'll just smile of out of habit. Hopefully, optimism works the same way, and so I'm very happy that people think of me the way they do.
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Dude! You have an American Attitude! Sweet!
You're a gun-toting, bar-dancing, y'all-saying, TV show-copying,
war-waging, ass-patting, hamburger over-eater.
Take the What the Hell Kinda Attitude is That? Quiz at aka cooties
(warning: spoilers ahead!)
I think by now, we all know that there is no Santa Claus. Well, at least I don't think there is. If I end up with a SHeDaisy album in my stocking, I'm going to know that I was wrong and that Santa's slightly displeased with me.
I'm not really in favor of parents pretending that he exists, either. It's easy to forgive your parents if they tell you something wrong that they thought was true, but it's a lot harder if they admit to you that they've been lying. I've known people who never forgave their parents for that lie. Besides, while your seven-year-old may be mature enough for the revelation, what happens when he tells his little brother? It's best to be up-front about the whole thing, and preferably not to even bring it up.
I bring this up because some muddy-thinking vicar in England has told children in his congregation that "Santa Claus is dead." That might normally be dismissed as just a slip, but he then went on to tell them that the reindeer would burst into flames if they had to travel as fast as would be required. Predictably, the parents are upset. However, it's their own fault. Can't you just see it now?
Mother: "Tommy, he was wrong. Santa Claus isn't dead."
Tommy: "I thought the Bible says no one could live more than 120 years."
Mother: "Well, yes, but that's different. What matters is that Santa is alive."
Tommy: "So the vicar lied to me?"
Mother: "Um...well, no, but...in a matter of speaking, I...look, Tommy, there are going to be presents under the tree this year from Santa."
three years pass
Tommy: "So, mom, Santa doesn't really exist, then. Didn't you tell me that he did?"
Mother: "Well, yes, but that was because you were young and we didn't want to spoil Christmas."
Tommy: "Didn't you guys get really mad at that vicar for telling the truth, when it was you who was lying?"
Mother: "Um...that's different. He didn't understand Christmas."
Tommy: "Isn't Christmas supposed to be a time for giving and to celebrate Jesus being born?"
Mother: "Ask your father."
Look, the minister made a mistake by telling the kids that Santa Claus is dead in the way that he did. I would also think it poor judgement to explain all the gory details of how crucifixion kills a person to kids as well. However, that doesn't mean that he's entirely in the wrong. Ideally, he would've said something like this:
"Children, do you know Santa Claus?[pause for "Yes! Yes! I do! Me too! No you don't! Yes I do!" from the tykes] Yes, that's right, the man in the red suit who give presents. Well, let me tell you a secret: Santa Claus is really Saint Nicholas, a very good man who lived many years ago. He would give presents to poor children and be nice to everyone. He died a long time ago and went to heaven and is looking down on us from up there, but do you know what we can do?["Yes! No... What? He hit me!"] We can remember him by giving to those we love and people less fortunate than us. Jesus said that we are to be nice to people, since we like it when people are nice to us...."
He could go on from there, and I doubt there would be much of an outcry from the parents. This entire situation has, as typical of the Anglican church, been very poorly handled, and I hope everyone can learn something from it.
As you may know, I work at Dietrick dining hall as the server in the pasta line at lunch. Today, I was talking to one of the managers during a lull, and I noticed that he was wearing a Mr. Hanky the Christmas Poo (from South Park, to those ignorant of pop culture) tie. Call me crazy, but a manager of a cafeteria wearing a tie with a picture of poo seemed like just a tiny bit of "interesting" judgement.
Meanwhile, I'm not allowed to wear a necklace outside my shirt, and I'm theoretically not allowed to wear a watch.
Oh, I remember what I meant to say in the post below. If you have the opportunity to take any class from Dr. Ewing, Dr. Davis, Dr. Papillon, or Dave McKee, do it. The same goes for Dr. Opell and Dr. Turner (in the Biology dep't).
Next semester, I'm taking Elementary Latin (1106), Imperial Russia (3614), History of England (2156), International Relations (3616), Constitutional Law (3346), Symphony Band (3314), Morality and Justice (1304), and Introduction to the Internet (1604). Yes, I already know how to use the internet. It's called a free A, just like the Geography of Drink course I intend to take next semester. My GPA will thank me.
(to the tune of Good King Wenceslas)
(it may take some effort and creativity...)
"Zelenyi was of Moscow, fought for Blind Vasili
From Novgorod down to Kiev, until 1450.
Zavist was his faithful wife, bearing him fine sons, three.
When Ivan Bolshoi was crowned, Zelenyi gave loyalty.
Ivan searched far for a wife, decided on fair Sophie;
Related to the last Caesar, she was quite a trophy.
At this stroke he gained the crown, he was proclaimed Tsar,
Let all who love Russia know: he was our first gosudar.*
The Mongol Horde was keen to fight, to Moscow was their thrust.
Facing them was brave Ivan, armed with Western harquebus.**
Zelenyi scared the Mongols stiff, started their retreat.
Ivak met the Golden Horde, them he did defeat."
-from my final paper for the Russian history class
*gosudar means, approximately, "lord protector."
**Yes, I know harquebus rhymes with caboose, and not thrust. Call it poetic license.
Other info: Zelenyi and Zavist are made-up, and I don't think that either is even a real name. Vasili II ("the Blind") was the Grand Prince of Moscow who triumphed in the Russian civil war of 1430-1450. Ivan III ("the Great," or "Bolshoi" in Russian) was his son, and it was he who defeated the Mongol Golden Horde under Khan Akhmat at the Battle of the River Ugra. This battle is one of both my and my teacher's personal favorites, since both armies, after a brief skirmish, panicked and ran away from each other. During their retreat, the Golden Horde ran into the Nogai Horde under Khan Ivak, who killed their leaders and took over, leaving the Russians alone and thereby releasing them from Mongol control. Princess Sophie was the niece of the last Byzantine Caesar. Thus, Ivan III believed that he had the right to the title Caesar ("Tsar" or "Czar" in Russian), and had himself proclaimed as such.
Enough melodrama. I've been studying the social contract far more than religion lately, and so the theology is a little strained right now. I tend to work better when I'm actually replying to something (typical reactionary that I am).
Finals start this Friday. I've already turned in my final paper for my Russia to Peter the Great class, and ended up with an A- on both the paper and in the course, which isn't too bad (I could've gotten an A if I hadn't slacked off). Friday is when my Political Theory paper is due. I'm supposed to analyze one from a list of movies (I chose Fight Club, since I a) have it on DVD, b) understand it somewhat, and c) don't mind watching it over and over, as opposed to, say, Braveheart or Gladiator) from Marxian and Foucaultian perspectives. It shouldn't be hard, so long as I put forth the effort required. Tuesday is my Latin final, and then I have my Research Methods final on Wednesday. After that, I'll be home and working at the animal hospital over break, when I'm not seeing The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and going to the San Francisco Bowl.
Yep, the Hokies are going to the San Francisco Bowl. I'm excited, since I'm getting paid to be there from the 29th to the 1st, and I get a free seat at the game. While I've crossed the Atlantic eight times, and been as far as Toronto and Orlando, Montgomery, Alabama is the furthest west I've ever been, and that was probably at least fifteen years ago. I'm so glad I did band. By my count, I've been on trips to Disney World, Hershey Park, King's Dominion, Toronto, Georgia, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Charlottesville, Lynchburg, and now San Francisco, getting paid for many of those trips (I could've gone to Lubbock, Texas, as well, but I decided my GPA wouldn't be able to survive it that semester). Unfortunately, as the San Francisco Bowl isn't very major, only 100 of the 330 Marching Virginians will be going. Some sections were cut entirely, and others only have a few representatives, so the Mellophones were lucky in that eight of our twenty-three members will be going. There's a point system, where you get varying numbers of points for being a band officer, being a Rank Captain or Section Leader, for each year you've done MVs, and for each time you've done Pep Band or a music ensemble. Six of our seven Seniors (or Super-Seniors, in one case) want to go, and have points varying from nineteen+ down to eight. Of the people with three years, I've got the most, as I'm a Rank Captain and have done both Pep Band and other ensembles every year so far. That would normally leave one spot, which would probably be taken by a Junior who's a music minor and has done a lot of ensembles, even though she's only been a horn for two years, having transferred from the flags. However, we've also got a Sophomore music major who may have more credits than one of the Seniors, bumping them. A lot of people are really getting shafted, and I feel bad.
Unfortunately, doing my laundry interrupted my blogging, and I forgot what I was going to say (I'll post it later when I remember). To Sherry, Stefie, and all the other college bloggers: good luck on finals!
Semi-relatedly, using "Pundit" as part of my blog-name has been paying off, though I didn't foresee it. I was just mentioned in one of Silflay Hraka's mutilated carols, and I've been part of the Essential Pundits section with Insta and Vodka (yeah right, like you don't know the link) over at Jay Zilber's (thanks to both!).
Unrelatedly, I'm also now a poster over at Sgt. Stryker's Daily Briefing, though I have yet to contribute (a pattern in my life...). I'm thinking that I'll divide my commentary between here, SSDB, the Theology Dep't, and CampusNonsense, though I'm not sure how at the moment. Watch this space for more info (yes, I'm semi-back in blogging...am I pathetic at quitting or what?).
Friday, December 06, 2002
Sometimes I feel like I'm just so far from Heaven. I know the truth of loving God and loving my neighbor as well as anyone else, but there are so many times that I don't that I despair of ever doing the right thing. I don't doubt that by simply trusting to God's guidance, I can be a useful tool and a trumpet of the Lord. However, I simply can't, won't, or don't. I do believe that I AM (among many other names) is the one and only true God, and that it is he who created and sustains everything that is, was, and shall be. I have a decent understanding of many areas of theology and apologetics, and frequently debate these with those who oppose Christianity. The trouble is that my faith (beyond what I stated above) is primarily academic and based on what I've reasoned out, rather than "felt with every fiber of my being." I believe in Christianity as a theory, rather than a law. It promotes good, doesn't contradict what I know about God, and is historically plausible. The trouble is that I live in constant fear that in my examining everything I can to verify the truth of this, I'll stumble across something that will prove it all false and that I'll be left with nothing. I consider my beliefs and actions ceaselessly, making sure that I'm consistent and, more importantly, that what I think and do lines up with God's will. I refuse to accept the easy denunciations of God and religion based on feelings of unhappiness ("If there was a God, he wouldn't let me be sad..."). There are many claims of inaccuracies in the Bible, and upon examining these claims, I have yet to find any of actual significance (the worst I've found are things like a list of, say, twelve villages when the passage says that there are thirteen). I'm not afraid of those attacks, since I know that they're useless. What I fear is something of catastrophic proportions that would shatter everything. I mean things on a Neo-taking-the-red-pill level.
The area where I would say that my theology is most deficient is in regards to Christ. Academically, I know that Jesus Christ's teachings were God's words. I know that Jesus fulfilled the OT prophecies of the coming Messiah. I know that, though innocent, he was crucified, died, and was then resurrected on Easter. However, the significance of all this eludes me. On my path from atheism/agnosticism to Christianity, I spent a lot of time considering myself an Arian, and I'm not entirely sure that I've left that behind. As with many other things, I know the truth and what actions I need to take as a result, but it's actually doing them that is the trouble. It's as though I can see all the numbered dots, but just can't convince myself to draw the lines.
The thing is, I'm stubborn. While not especially competitive by nature, I'm fiercely protective. While I don't think that I believe as I should, I know that I'm wrong, and that those who do believe are right. I have defended and will continue to defend those beliefs, even though I don't (as yet) share them. If it meant destroying myself and going to Hell so that those who believe may continue to do so without being assaulted by the evil of the jealousy and covetousness of the unbelievers who see them, I like to think that I would. I'm sure you've seen the formerly-evil character in films whose main contribution is something like "I know I haven't earned Valhalla, but I'll hold them off as long as possible for you." I sometimes flatter myself to identify with him.
A problem I have is deciding to what extent realism and idealism should govern me. Pure idealism would say that I resign from school (I've downloaded illegal MP3s before, which is stealing and thus a violation of the Honor Code) and work as best I can to support myself and help others. Pure realism would say that the most important thing is to get a Master's degree (or higher) and connections among the powerful, and use that power and influence to help other people. If I had ten dollars, should I give it to a hungry child right now, or should I invest it be able to feed hundreds of hungry children in a few years?
In the Bible, especially the Beatitudes in Matthew, the ideal is constantly advocated. However, in Matthew 10:16, we are told to be "shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves." I don't know how to reconcile these, but I'm trying.