Sunday, November 30, 2003

And Now, For Your Amusement...

...your host will bang his head against the desk, realizing he made a big mistake. As medieval Homer would say, d'oheth!

UPDATE: God works in mysterious ways. Patience is a virtue. That is all.

Free Song of the Day

Everything Went Numb by Streetlight Manifesto, from the album "Everything Goes Numb."

"Ski mask (check)
Sawed off (check)
Guilty conscience, fear of death (check check check)
Everything went numb when he stumbled upon what he thought
Was going to be another means to the end
The silence
The sirens
It all went down like his nightmare the night before
I don't want to hear
I don't want to be near
I do what i got to do just to keep my nose clean."

Streetlight Manifesto is essentially the continuation of "Keasbey Nights"-era Catch-22, with about half the latter band leaving to form the former. Ska is basically dead as it's own genre, but in Streetlight Manifesto, it has been catchily combined with punk in a way that should satisfy all ska-core fans. Tomas Kalnoky's fast-paced and thoughtful lyrics, combined with a slower but meaningful horn section make a nice contrast. It's what I'd call "sad ska." Happy ska is song about your girlfriend leaving you or how much you like beer; sad ska tends to be more instrumental and the singer just doesn't sound happy. Most, if not all, traces of swing have been eradicated, and so while it's a lot harder to dance to this, it's addictive to hear. To me, it sounds a little like Russian or Klezmer (ethnic Jewish) music at times. I got the album and told my parents to give it to me for Christmas; it's going to be painful to wait. As good as the "Keasbey Nights" album is, I'm told that "Everything Goes Numb" is even better.

Warning: Babble Ahead!

I've been thinking this evening, and while it may be drivel, I thought I'd put it out in the open. As one old saying has it, I'm going to run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes it. It may be a little jumbled, but then, so is my head right now.

I believe in some form of destiny. It may be Predestination, or something else, but the point is that I think that there are some things that are meant to happen. These things may not happen, but I think God is most glorified if they do. This ties in with things like talents and spiritual gifts; we're expected to use what we've been given for the glory of God, especially by giving everything we have to God. What we have belongs to God anyway, and we therefore have no right to it, but it seems to me that when we surrender things to God, He always gives them back, better than before.

One such thing is marriage. I'm a young guy; I obviously think about girls a lot. I think, and hope, my intentions are honorable (by this, I mean that they are seeking the will of God). Like everyone, I make mistakes and have lapses, but I think the overall trend is towards good rather than sin. Now, I think some people are meant to get married and raise a family. Others, for God's own mysterious reasons, are meant to remain single. I don't think that either is necessarily better or worse, but that each comes with its own benefits and trials. If I'm meant to eventually get married (I don't know whether I am or not, but it seems to me to be more pressing to develop beliefs about marrying than remaining single, as the latter is the current status quo, and so I can consider that more at my leisure), then I need to know why I'm doing it, what characteristics to look for in a girl, and the slightly more minor questions of when to do it and where to live.

I've been told by non-Christians and some liberal Christians that what I'm about to say is horribly sexist and awful. In my defense, I say that I honestly and truly try to respect women, and hold them in no less esteem than men. I do believe that the man is to be the head of the relationship and, later, the family. The woman is to be his helper. "Husband" literally means "master of the house," and he is the one who ultimately must make decisions. He may delegate authority, and he may choose to defer to his wife, but that is up to him. This doesn't make him better than the woman. It is a debt of servitude to the good of the wife and the family. The more expendable person is the husband; the wife is the more valuable part of the relationship. It's like my relationship as Rank Captain to my rank in marching band: I speak with the director and have authority over them to have them do my will (which, to be legitimate, must be the will of the one with authority over me), but I must also serve them by helping them solve and band-related problems, preparing their drill charts, and monitoring the position of the rank against other ranks during marching. I lead and am given authority, but my job is to serve my rank so that they may do the task given to them by the director, who is my superior and is the one from whom I take my instruction. Now, the girl I marry should be someone capable of helping me in doing God's work, but also someone who likewise depends on me to allow her to the work God has given to her. Essentially, the marriage allows us both to work better than if we were on our own (though, as I've mentioned, some people do better work on their own, and so marriage would hinder them).

Dating should be done with the view of better getting to know a person. Liberties should not be taken. Again: liberties should not be taken. Before you do something, think of your date as your sister in Christ, and consider whether you'd want another person doing what you're considering to your own sister. She may also someday be someone's wife: if you wouldn't want your own wife doing something with another man, consider whether or not you should do it with this girl. Now, getting to know the girl can take many turns. There is one girl I've known since high school, and we meet every few weeks for lunch to catch up and just talk. Another girl and I were in a tough class together a while ago, and so we periodically get together and just hang out. I have no intention of marrying either girl, and I don't do anything with them that would be dishonorable as I've tried to define it before. I'm simply friends with them. However, it may also be that as you get to know a girl, you discover that the two of you complement each other very well, and it may be that a marriage should be something to look into. If this happens, it's probably time to redouble your prayer life. We all want some of the benefits of marriage, such as companionship, sex, status, and other things, but it's easy to be hasty and try and ignore things which are trying to tell you to look elsewhere or to wait. There've been times when I've had crushes on girls, only to feel stupid when I realize that not only aren't they my type at all, but that I've really known this all along. Just because a pretty girl is friendly, and even interested in you, doesn't automatically mean that you two are compatible.

I feel like I've just posted something long, confusing, and condescending about something simple and obvious. I think it's helped to clarify my thoughts. I hope it helps you, but at the very least, I hope that it does no harm.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Oh for Pity's Sake...

Apparently, some easily-riled people are upset with President Bush for pronouncing "Nevada" the same way I do. Now, I'd like to start by saying that this is pretty trivial, like whether you say "Miz-oo-ree" or "Miz-oo-rah" for Missouri. A more pressing question, however, would be: in what way can the middle syllable of "Nevada" possibly rhyme with "gamble?"

Monday, November 24, 2003

Hell, Hell, Hell, Hell, Hell, Hell, Hell.

In my wisdom, I think y'all've heard enough about sex. Thus, it's time for some Hell!

Michael Williams responds to a Dean Esmay post on why he is an apatheist. Williams presents a very good case; one that is worth your time to read. Essentially, his argument is that Hell is the state of human independence from God. If we seek to be like God and surrender our will to Him, then we end up being in God's presence, which is Heaven. If we decide to make our own decisions and ignore God, then we are in a place away from God, which is Hell. When I sin, I'm putting my will ahead of God's, and you'd better believe that there's some weeping and gnashing of teeth when I realize that I've voluntarily separated myself from God, if only briefly. Similarly, I don't think angels and the Saints in Heaven laugh when they think of those in Hell, but simply understand that everyone has gotten to the place they've indicated they prefer.

Free Song of the Day

"Mr. Wright by Liberator, from the album "Worldwide Delivery"

"Living isn't easy today
When everything's empty around you
Will there be someone waiting for me?
Will I be disproven when I go?"

Liberator is a Swedish band with a very hard-to-classify ska sound. This song sounds more like first-wave ska (think reggae with horns), but again, it was made long after the end of the first wave (Jamaican ska). I can't find any lyrics online, so I'm not entirely sure what most of the lyrics to the song are. This is bad, since the song itself is confusing, and being able to see exactly what they're saying would help a lot. Basically, the song is either a proclamation of agnosticism or a humble plea for God to reveal himself. I honestly don't know which it is. The song itself is excellent. I love the tinny sound of the British-accented singer, the fat horn sound, and the general bounciness of the thing. This would be a great song for dancing, I think.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Sex Talk, 24/7

In case the post below, the recent shenanigans in the Episcopal Church, the media, the pop-ups and spam on your computer, and the world in general haven't already made you sick to death of talking and thinking about sex, Mark Butterworth has a good post on it. Check it out, and then go back to deleting ads for reduced-price Viagra.

Gay Marriage II: Return of Gay Marriage!
(Theological Foray #11, for those counting)

Through one of my friends, I began reading Musings, a blog run by a member of the Wesley Foundation at UVA. I'm pretty sure I actually met him a few months ago before a friend's baptism, and if he's who I think he is (I apologize for not being sure; I can usually remember most things I learn about people except for their name), he's a very nice guy. However, as tends to be true with most Methodists I've met, he's also a theological liberal. Thus, this post should not be construed as "fisking," but rather as an attempt on my part, speaking as an Evangelical/Anglo-Catholic, to argue for the theologically conservative view of Scripture and to try and understand some of my theologically-liberal brothers in Christ. That said, it's time to begin.

In a post a few days ago, the Virginia Gentleman argues in favor of gay marriage, and then responds to some of the comments made by myself and others in a follow-up post. I've already written about homosexuality here and here. I will try and bring up the points he's made, as I recognize them, and answer them in turn.

1. One should not comment on the matters of another denomination.
I don't buy this. Something David, the Pope, Billy Graham, Peter Akinola, and I have in common is that we're all Christians. We may respectively be Methodist, Roman Catholic, Baptist, and Anglican, but before that we're in Christ. While matters of church governance, such as if the Presbyterians want to have synods instead of bishops or the Orthodox don't want to have musical instruments in their services, aren't really my business, those matters which speak to the heart of Christianity are as much mine, or David's as they are any other Christian's. We all believe in the truth of the Bible, and, though we call it different things, use reason, tradition, and faith as guided by the Holy Spirit to interpret it. We are all called to follow the Great Commandment (love God and love your neighbor) and the Great Commission (go and make disciples of all the nations). While we may disagree about how to follow these, we cannot restrict ourselves by artificial barriers when we believe we must speak in love to correct our brethren.

2. Homosexuality is different from adultery, incest, pedophilia, polygamy, and other deviant sexual practices.
Yes and no. For the sake of argument, I'll grant you that it is differs from adultery in that a vow has not been broken (though certainly vows could be found to allow for this), from pedophilia in that it is consensual, and from polygamy in that it is between two partners instead of more (though I don't see an argument outside of one man and one woman that would restrict marriage in such a way). I do ask how it differs from incest, though. If I can marry my guy friend, why can't I marry my legal-age sister, so long as we both love each other and want a committed relationship? If you argue that it might lead to genetic problems in the children, would it be okay if one or both of us were sterilized? If dangerous procreation is the issue, then perhaps I could marry my brother. Can I marry my widowed mother or father and, if not, why not? Paul addresses this last issue directly in 1 Cor. 5:1-5. If it is wrong to sleep with your mother-in-law, then I don't see how, without ignoring the authority of the Bible, the practice of homosexuality can be reconciled with Paul's condemnation of it in Romans 1:24-27 and 1 Cor. 6:9-11.

3. Just because something is "physically laughable," it is not necessarily wrong. After all, we don't see conservative Christians protesting airplanes. If something isn't specifically condemned in the Bible, then it's okay. Look at Acts 10:14-15 and 10:28.
Humans certainly don't have wings to fly, but we do have brains to think and hands with which to build. Two men or two women do not have the body parts necessary to create a life (yes, this argument could be applied to sterile couples...that's a can of worms, but as I understand it, Roman Catholic doctrine, which doesn't bind me, says that infertility is grounds for annulment or divorce). Thus, the only benefits carried by marriage are those not especially different from those obtained by incorporating. If you want to give groups of people the ability to form communistic corporations of property to gain tax breaks and inheritance rights, I don't know that I'd try and stop you. However, that is not and never will be a marriage. The argument over committed homosexual partnerships not being specifically banned by the New Covenant (most of the Old Covenant being fulfilled by Christ's sacrifice) is a non-sequitur, as all forms of homosexuality, no matter how loving, are forbidden. By the same logic, you do not have the right to have pre-marital sex or sex with your mother-in-law, no matter how much you love each other. This doesn't mean that we need to vilify homosexuals, as we are all grievous sinners, but that we need to help them with their sin, as we would hope that they would help us deal with our own as they become known. Just as an alcoholic shouldn't go to church drunk or refuse to try and change his ways, a homosexual should not try and obtain religious backing for homosexual marriage or refuse to abstain from his or her sin. People do stumble, but choosing to go on an anti-Biblical path is far different.

4. As imperfect creatures, we can never truly know the will of God. Our view of God's will must always be open to change.
Forgive me, but I think that this argument sounds dangerously close to agnosticism. We are fallible and fallen, but we do have Holy Scripture upon which to base our decisions. Arguments about slavery, the role of women in the church, and a celibate clergy are ones which, while evidence for and against can be found, no obvious answer exists. Homosexuality, along with things such as thievery, drunkenness, and adultery, are specifically forbidden. Though the Holy Spirit may help us discern the answers to things on which the Bible seems ambivalent, I would ask you what other parts of the Bible are no longer valid due to changing views. If one part of the Bible is wrong in essence, then surely the whole thing is of suspect reliability. And, if we don't know which parts are trustworthy and which are bunk, then we are merely picking and choosing to follow the parts that fit our preferences. The only answer in which the Bible retains its authority is to say that it is infallible and thus unchanging.

5. Who are we to judge? We need to love sinners and be accepting of them, as we are also sinners. Any opportunity, such as ministry, that is open to one should be open to all. Christ Himself never said anything about homosexuality; only his Apostles did.
We are not to judge the soul of others, but we can certainly judge whether their actions are sinful or not (as we're all sinners, it shouldn't be shocking that sometimes a person will do something sinful, though they certainly are not their sin but are rather controlled by it). Though we accept sinners as brothers and sisters in Christ, we cannot and must not accept their sins. To be one of God's people, you must renounce your sinful nature and seek to sin no more. Furthermore, not everyone is called to do every task. I cannot get pregnant. Homosexuals must not act on their impulses. Alcoholics must give up drinking. This is not a special condemnation, but has been brought made public by the very openness it requires. Some sins are fairly easily concealed, such as lustful thoughts or gluttony by someone with a high metabolism. Others, such as homosexuality and alcoholism, tend to become public. In 1 Tim. 5:20, we see that sinners are to be rebuked before the church. To receive authority within the church, we read in 1 Tim 3:2-9 that a leader must be upright and blameless. Though we all sin, one who sins publicly and does not repent can hardly be said to meet this qualification. Finally, the argument that Christ never specifically condemns homosexuality simply doesn't hold water. Firstly, most of the Epistles were written before the Gospels; the Gospels were addressed to those already familar with the basics of Christianity but who didn't know the history behind it. Each Gospel writer emphasized different things, and it is my belief that something already denounced as sinful wouldn't necessarily have to be included. Though condemned in the Old Testament, we still regard homosexuality as sinful and circumcision as unnecessary, as the former is also condemned in the New Testament, while the latter is not.

Once again, I say these things not in an effort to harrass or attack Dave, as he obviously cares about the hurt others feel, but rather to try and be like Priscilla and Aquila and correct a fellow believer whom I believe is mistaken. While sympathy for and mercy towards others is to be commended, we must always remember that God's will takes priority over ours, no matter how much it hurts.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Gay Marriage!

If you've got either a lot of time or good skimming ability, Blackavar has an excellent post on the gay marriage decision in Massachusetts and its ramifications on government and civil rights.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Free Song of the Day

Land Down Under covered by Pennywise, from the Australian version of the album "Straight Ahead"

"I come from a land down under
Where beer does flow and men chunder
Can you hear, can you hear the thunder?
You'd better run, you'd better take cover."

Virtually everyone in the Western Hemisphere has heard Men at Work's song "Land Down Under" played to death. Well, Pennywise took it, cranked it up, and made it punk. Now, as we also all know, punk covers are always either incredible or awful. This one is incredible. Of course, the song is about a guy going around looking to buy pot, which works in the original with its flute in the background and acoustic-ness, but it's kind of hard to imagine someone smoking up and playing good punk at the same time. There's no fabulous solo, guitar virtuosity, or tricky key or time changes, but like "Deja Vu" from Furyus-George, it's catchy as anything.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Bear With Me...

I'm swamped with assignments and pretty burned-out right now. Anything more complex than these music reviews is probably going to overload my brain about now, so the deep insights you've come to expect here (suckers!) will have to wait a few days. Of course, I could suddenly be inspired tomorrow and post something that would make Lewis and Chesterton seem like ignoramuses. Probably not, but it's possible.

Free Song of the Day

Deja Vu by Furyus-George

Ah, yet another band whose name is some version of "Furious George." I haven't liked their other songs, but this one seems to be a departure from their usual fare. Except for the intro, it's all skat. The instrumental part isn't really anything special, being just a fairly standard ska/punk background; the song is really a showcase for the singer. The words don't make sense, but I challenge you to not find the song catchy. For those of you who like drama in your music, listen to the climax of the song shortly after the 1:22 mark.

Isn't this Blackmail?

PETA is threatening to run an add mocking Clay Aiken, of American Idol fame, unless he retracts his negative statements about cats and posts a message encouraging pet owners to spay and/or neuter their animals on his website. His negative statement? "I don't like cats."

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Free Song of the Day

There are a lot of good songs out there that have been released as free downloads. Most are available at Amazon or at the band's website (or sometimes, while others have been taken off due to hosting problems but are still considered free. I hope to make this daily, but we'll see. I'll post the song title, artist, album if applicable, a snippet of the lyrics, a brief review, and a link to the download. Most of the songs aren't Christian, and some have language issues. I recommend songs purely on my own tastes, but will try and tell you the genre and let you know of any family-unfriendly issues in the song itself (or the artist, if that's the case). If you like, hate, or have some other opinion on the song, please let me know in the comments. And now, for the first entry...

Keasbey Nights by Catch-22, from the album "Keasbey Nights" (some language in song)

"When the come for me I'll be sittin' at my desk
With a gun in my hand, wearin' a bulletproof vest
Singin' 'mymymy how the time does fly
When you know you're gonna die by the end of the night.'"

This is a very good ska/punk song. Catch-22 no longer includes the members which made it special, with them having left after this album was released to work on other projects. What's so special about this is the fast and catchy lyrics, the effective use of horns throughout the song, and the subconscious realization that you're listening to some high-quality music. Like most ska, the lyrics are somewhat tragic while the music is upbeat (this doesn't necessarily mean happy, but rather that beats two and four are emphasized, which does tend to give a more optimistic sense to the music), but what's different is that the instrumental parts also convey tragedy, rather than being incongruously happy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Alternatively, They Could Buy Part of a Stealth Bomber

TS O'Rama ("Poncer? I don't even know her!") is appalled that his local school district wants to spend sixty million dollars to build a new high school. You know, that's a fair amount of money. Of course, my own little math shows that, assuming a population of 3,000 students, that's $500 per student per year over forty years (or, if you prefer, $2,000 for each student over forty years). Is that excessive? Heck, I don't know. According to one paper, it would cost $80-90 million for a high school in Hawaii ($40mil for an elementary school). In Massachusetts, a high school apparently costs $31.5 million. Nearby Connecticut needs $71mil, though. A high school in Virginia will apparently run you about $50 million dollars.

That's a fair amount of money. My own school district, Fairfax County, has a 2004 budget of $1.67 billion dollars. Each Fairfax County high school has somewhere around 3,000 students. On the other hand, Goochland County has an annual budget of $18.2 million, and built a 600-student high school for $20 million. Heck, renovating my secondary (middle and high) school cost $40 million.

I don't know how much of this is necessary and how much is "ooh, look at the cool stuff we could get!" When they renovated my school (after I'd already left for college), they added "conference suites," among other things. That seems like a waste, just like buying the latest computers so students can type papers.

On the other hand, I don't know how much increasing teacher salaries is going to help unless you make sure the teachers are darn well worth it. I honestly believe that there simply aren't enough teachers around who teach well enough to deserve six-figure salaries. Of course, if we're willing to spend our money on entertainment to such an extent that a rookie in the NFL can make over $200k just sitting on the bench all season, perhaps we can afford a few overpaid teachers in order to bring up the overall quality.

Again, though, I don't think increasing salaries is the answer. My professors here earn a pretty decent wage, and it seems all-too-often I simply get warmed-over third-hand political bigotry such as Bush-bashing passed off as genuine philosophy. One of my sisters had a teacher who was pretty vindictive and spiteful towards her (I still can't figure out why), while another of my sisters incurred the wrath of a teacher simply because she was able to name all the prepositions, embarassing the teacher who'd said that she was sure no one in the class could. Most of the best teachers I've had worked in high schools because they wanted to. My best English teacher also taught classes at George Mason University, while my best History teacher had a doctorate and was the only high school teacher (and an officer) in a prestigious society for history teachers. The teachers at Frederick Douglass Christian School are missionaries who have to raise the $12k it takes to fund their position every year.

When I start teaching, I'd love to make $90,000 per year. However, I know I won't. I probably wouldn't be worth it, and you would have to wonder about the source of all that extra money.

Of course, it might also be worth considering whether or not it's ethically right to earn money teaching when you know part of your salary comes from the lottery proceeds, but that's a topic for another day.

Monday, November 10, 2003

The Pitts

As part of being in the Marching Virginians, I get to go to away games (for free, with financial compensation, on the taxpayer's dime...this must be what it's like to be a Democrat). This weekend we travelled to Pitt, then ranked #19. We lost a very close game 28-31 in the last minute. There were some calls I thought questionable, but since there may have been other things not called, it's not a big deal. We just couldn't get it done.
The Pitt fans this time were a lot better than last time, though still not the brightest lights on the porch. There were shirts that said "What the #%*!'s a Hokey," prompting the band to shout in unison "H-O-K-I-E." Once again, the anti-VT cheer of "A-C-C!" made an appearance, followed by Pitt fans being utterly confused when we started chanting it ourselves. There was, of course, the usual flicking off and profanity aimed at us, the band. Some of us have decided that next time someone yells a stupid cheer at us (we honestly appreciate and applaud clever ones), we're just going to yell back "Your mom is hot!" to see how they respond. We're big on doing the unexpected, I think. Luckily for us, we were afforded several opportunities for being confusing. When our team is getting ready to come out, the stadium plays Enter Sandman by Metallica, accompanied by virtually the entire stadium jumping up and down (on metal bleachers, it's pretty darn loud). Pitt played some song no one had ever heard before, but which sounded suspiciously old. The MVs, being jerks irreverent, responded by doing disco moves. We then got people upset at us by not paying attention when they sang their alma mater, confusing us. I mean, we never play or sing our alma mater, so how should we know we're expected to be quiet (not that we would've been)? At halftime, we proceeded to utterly confuse their fans by having everyone stop and dance during the drum break. I suppose they're not used to the "White Boy," "Sprinkler," "Lawnmower," "Running Man," "Burro," and "Butt" up there. They did cheer the dance, though.

The trip itself was pretty decent. I sat with my friend Chris, in front of Stefie and Leslie, and across from Emily and Miles. As usual, we used masking tape to write things on the windows of our bus that would be visible from the outside. Slogans this year were "MV Horns," "My Horn is Too Big," "All Y'all's Base Are Belong To Us (we're from the South, darlin'), and "It's Okay, We're With the Band." Yes, we're dorks, but we still enjoyed seeing people try to read the messages and completely fail to understand them. Of course, perhaps the highlight of the trip was watching SportsCenter after the game and seeing this clip of Kellen Winslow where he rips the SEC refs, whines, and compares himself to a soldier and football to war. My favorite part was right after he says "You can take that and put it in your papers and make money off it," you hear one reporter say "oh, we will!"

All-in-all, a fun trip. Next up: Temple. Sorry Owls.

Enter Sandman

Dirty, but pretty cool.

(I think you can trust me on this one)

Friday, November 07, 2003

Getting Annoyed

I might've thought that Roman Catholics, fresh off their scandals, would be less likely to throw stones. Short answer: no. Why try and reach out to Evangelical Anglicans and Anglo-Catholics, your closest theological neighbors, in their time of trouble when you can simply snicker at them instead? Talk about wrenching defeat from the jaws of victory. All this talk of invalid Anglican orders rings hollow when Bishop Wojtyla of Rome doesn't even have proof that his own line is valid. I'm thinking that just a wee bit of humility and unity is needed here. Then again, I'm a twenty-one-year-old heretic, so what would I know?

Let me give you a hint: why do you think refugees from the ECUSA usually wind up in Protestant or Continuing Anglican churches? You've got a lot of history, a lot of good theology (not all, but then, neither do the Protestants), the potential for wonderful liturgical services, and name-brand recognition. I'm sure you think of yourselves as modern-day prophets, calling us to repentence for the sin of...well, you're not so clear about that. The sin of what you perceive to be invalid apostolic succession? The sin of some of us not believing in transubstantiation? The sin of not praying to dead saints? The sin of not believing that one of your guys is God's prophet? I just don't get it. It doesn't seem to me to be very different from if you insisted that Christ was six feet tall and I told you that it didn't really matter how tall He was. In short, I think you're getting lost in your own details and metaphors. I respect the Roman Catholic Church, and support the work it does. However, micromanagement is beyond its ken, and it would be nice for them to realize this.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Danger, Will Robinson!

So, I was thinking today (hide the children! bolt the doors! turn off the computer now!) during my International Relations class, and it occurred to me that Christian thinking isn't Realist or Liberal/Idealist, but is actually Radical. Not Marxist, as most Radical thought tends to be these days, but it's pretty far outside the mainstream.

Basically, the reason for foreign policy (and domestic policy, too, I suppose) is that people want their rights secured. They don't want to be marginalized, enslaved, killed, or for anything else bad to happen to them. This is pretty understandable. Thus, people band together into groups, whether they be clans, nations, or other types, and use their combined power to protect the rights of each member of that group. Fights break out when two groups have competing claims for the same thing, whether it be property, land, or the labor of a weaker group. When these fights are perceived as being important enough, groups are willing to sacrifice lives in order to win, thus securing the rights of everyone else in the group.

This has been widely noted as being bad, as no one really wants to die, especially so other people can get the benefits. Thus, suggestions have been made that everyone live in peace and harmony, sharing all and not fighting. It sounds good, but there are problems. Firstly, there is a finite amount of resources, and when there's not enough to go around, conflict arises. Secondly, different people have different ideas as to what is "enough," meaning that greedy or corrupt people want what others have, and are often willing to do whatever is necessary to obtain it. Thus, there can be no utopia while sin exists.

What is left to be done? Seemingly nothing, until you realize that the basic assumption present is that being marginalized, enslaved, or killed is the worst thing possible, and thus that all other alternatives are preferable. If you are not afraid of these things, you're freed from having to hurt others in order to provide for your security.

Why is this radical? It's radical because it means that those who follow this philosophy do not fit into the current political spectrum. If someone threatens to raise taxes, the follower doesn't care. If the follower is imprisoned or enslaved, he doesn't care. The threat of death does not weigh on the conscience of the follower. What does concern the follower is what he regards as more important than the usual concerns. If it is the glorification of and obedience to God, then only those things which could hamper his effectiveness in serving God stir him to disobedience.

Think about this. The Apostles feared neither death nor captivity. St. Paul proclaimed himself a slave. What would it be like if we, as Christians, lived as the Apostles did? Would we welcome persecution? Would we willingly drop everything to go evangelize the unchurched? Would more of us forego marriage and dating?

I'm still turning this over, but it shakes up a lot of assumptions to think about.

You Be the Judge

Is this really funny or in extraordinarily bad taste? Heck, I don't know.


Want to know about the 300 years of Jewish history surrounding the birth of Christ? Look no further! I think that for me, the most interesting thing was discovering that the Herod family were Edomites (not Israelites!) who had been forcibly converted by the nephew of Judas Maccabee. There's all sorts of cool stuff out there (unlike the contents of the link in the post below this...).

For All You U of Wisconsin Fans...

Okay, the internet has officially gotten stupid.


I was driving along today, and lo and behold, I was behind a pickup truck. Not just any pickup truck, though, but one sporting Dixie on the back bumper. Personally, I didn't expect to find Dean voters down here, but I guess I was wrong. On the way back, I saw another, bigger truck with another, bigger flag. I must've stumbled across the party headquarters or something!

(forgive me my sarcasm; I was just defeated as Blue-tunic Link in Super Smash Brothers for the first time ever, and intend to take it out on Democratic presidential candidates)

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

It's Out There

TS O'Rama had a post today where he points to the lyrics of the Avril Lavigne song I'm With You, noting the hunger among people of my generation for something real and true (God). I've noticed this a lot, and, seeing an opportunity for a blog post, am running with it. What I intend to do is list several popular songs of the last few years (if it was on the radio when I first started listening to rock music in eighth grade, or later, it's fair game), include a snippet of the lyrics along with a link, and let you judge for yourself.

Everywhere - Michelle Branch
"Cuz you're everywhere to me,
and when I close my eyes it's you I see
you're everything I know that makes me believe,
I'm not alone, I'm not alone."

Praise You - Fatboy Slim
"We've come a long, long way together,
Through the hard times and the good,
I have to celebrate you baby;
I have to praise you like I should."

How You Remind Me - Nickelback
"Never made it as a wise man,
I couldn't cut it as a poor man, stealing.
And this is how you remind me of what I really am."

There are a lot more out there (I don't listen to the radio all that much any more). It's telling to see, though, how people instinctively know what they need. Romans 1:20 (NLB) says "From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see [H]is invisible qualities- [H]is eternal power and divine nature." We as Christians need to do a better job of witnessing, both through our actions and our words when our beliefs are questioned. I'm as guilty of failing in this as the next guy, but we all need to improve.

Part of Your Complete Breakfast

I like cereal and milk. And no, I'm not in it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Great Sermon

Jim Pace, one of the campus pastors of NLCF, gave a great (if slightly long-winded) sermon on homosexuality a few weeks ago (on Parents' Weekend, no less!). If you've got time, it's worth a listen.

Monday, November 03, 2003

I'm Just Wondering, But... you ever feel as though you're going off the rails on a crazy train? I've felt that way a lot lately.

Incidentally, if you'd like to download a slightly-spotty ska cover of Crazy Train, I've got you, um, covered.

(note: any MP3s to which I like are free downloads by the artists, even if I have to host them on my own sites)

Life Imitates Simpsons

This is actually pretty clever (I mean, for something that's evil and deadly).

You Know...'s pretty confusing being an Anglican and a Hokie. First I read reports involving the AAC, then I see reports pertaining to the ACC. Sometimes, people typing too fast mix these up, which in turn mixes me up. Apparently both are under fire due to things which are relevant to me. The whole SEC/SEC thing has been confusing me for a while, too, but isn't as relevant to me as the first pair. Man, you Protestant Michigan State and Michigan fans sure have it easy...

Sunday, November 02, 2003


After his interception ended the Hokies' second drive, Brian Randall was replaced by Marcus Vick. In case you were wondering, the answer is yes. Marcus Vick is the younger brother to Michael Vick. The fans know this. Everyone knows this. If Michael was Moses, leading us to the national championship game a few years ago, there's an awful lot of pressure on Marcus to be Joshua and to finally conquer the heathens. On one of his first plays, Marcus tucked the ball and zipped down the field for a gain of about fifteen or so, avoiding several defenders and mysteriously staying upright until he got the first down. My friend Will and I looked at each other, and didn't say anything. Basically, our looks conveyed something like "You just saw that. You don't think... Better to stay quiet at this point." I don't know how to describe it, but I do feel sorry for Randall, as Hokie Nation was electrified last night. Vick ran very well and didn't fumble (unlike the Miami quarterbacks, who were constantly dropping snaps), but he also didn't pass much. Now, true, he had one long strike for a touchdown, but there was really no need for him to pass. We had fewer yards, fewer first downs, and no passing yards until late in the third quarter (where the first pass was for -2 yards, keeping the scoreboard neatly at zero passing yards for us). However, we blocked a field goal attempt, had at least two interceptions and a fumble recovery, and ate the clock well. It was an outstanding performance. Nonetheless, I say that it's at least 50/50 that Randall is still the starting quarterback. Vick worked well in that he's more mobile than Randall, but without any real need for passing (his touchdown pass was essentially undefended), there was no need to put him in simply to hand off to Kevin Jones. We're lucky in that we've got two excellent quarterbacks, especially as it's possible that our top wide receiver may be injured and as our top DB/returner was ejected. The Orange and Fiesta bowls are still options for us, so long as we beat our remaining opponents.

UPDATE: DeAngelo Hall wasn't ejected for fighting, and so he'll be able to play next week. He has a bit of a mouth, and it's thought that his ejection, along with a Miami player who actually was ejected for fighting, was a way for the officials to try and settle down the game, as it was in danger of turning into a brawl. No word yet on the status of WR Ernest Wilford, though I've heard the X-rays on his foot were negative.

Also, I had a dream last night where I kidnapped the Miami mascot. Weird.

And Let's Not Forget...

One of my favorite blogs, Mark Butterworth, is back from a hiatus of over a year. He's definitely worth your time and money (buy his books!).

You Will Notice That We Haven't Set Our Town on Fire

Yes, your Virginia Tech Hokies defeated the #2-ranked Miami Hurricanes 31-7 today on Worsham Field in Lane Stadium. After a few series of each side trading punts, our defense finally cracked it open when DeAngelo Hall stripped the ball from the Miami RB and took it for a score. Then Miami tried a kick...which was blocked. Actually, that may have happened first, but I don't remember. They also had a fake kick which should've been a sure touchdown, except their receiver inexplicably dropped the ball. Yeah he did. After that, it was essentially each side trading punts, with occasional Hokie scores and a general sense of "bend but don't break." Lane Stadium was loud.

Near the end, the Miami players were clearly frustrated, and started doing things like late hits and blatant fouls (Kellen Winslow elbowed one of our DBs in the face; the DB was stupid enough to hit back -harder- and got caught). For the last few minutes, it seemed as though every play had two or three yellow handkerchiefs flying by the end of it. DeAngelo Hall and a Miami player were both ejected, which is bad, since he's our top DB and returner. At about six minutes before the end, I noticed an ESPN crew removing the camera from the goalposts. "I wonder why...oh." Our band director had us move into the middle of our section so we wouldn't get trampled, and a few of us who were big guys set up a bit of a perimeter around the band, pointing out the stairs to people and generally keeping them away from the instruments.

I noticed several things at this game. First, it seemed as though whenever a Miami player caught a ball, he ended up paying for it by getting levelled or slammed into the ground. I also noticed that our town doesn't appear to be in danger of being burned in celebration (Main Street is temporarily closed right now, though, as people have mobbed Downtown). However, our fans appear to be declining in quality as time goes on. There were an awful lot of "Muck Fiami" shirts, and plenty that were, um, similar to those. There were also chants of "**** Miami," which is pretty trashy, and "Overrated," which was a stupid cheer because WVU and Pitt have used that cheer against us for the past two years. Still, we did beat Miami while I was here, which was something I really wanted. Now, if we can break even with Pitt for my college career and shut out UVA, I'll be thrilled.

Bring on the Panthers!

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