Monday, September 27, 2004
I've been very busy lately, but I'm not sure how I could describe how without violating confidentiality. I've been very stressed, though, so any prayers for patience, endurance, and wisdom would be appreciated very much. Thanks, and take care!
Friday, September 24, 2004
The reason I support Bush is because I believe him to be a decent, sincere, and honorable man who has the best interests of America at heart, even though I don't always agree with him 100%. I believe John Kerry to be an opportunist without any positions of his own who has the best interests of John Kerry at heart, and who views people like me as the doormat on the way into the White House.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
BH: I actually have a writing intensive course, auditing this year, and everything we have to write is pretty much up that alley. Your opinion on a specific topic, and they can't tell you your opinion is wrong. So basically it's just about hacking enough out to qualify.
Me: So why are you auditing it, then?
BH: No. It's "Auditing"
BH: The class.
HokiePundit: "I may be slow on the uptake, but I'll get there eventually."
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Mark Butterworth took a picture and played around with it. The results are very pretty, and definitely worth checking out.
I've spent plenty of time and effort in the past trying to talk about Predestination vs. Free Will, when who else but C.S. Lewis should have already done it for me, and in just a few words? From The Great Divorce:
"For every attempt to see the shape of eternity except through the lens of Time destroys your knowledge of Freedom. Witness the doctrine of Predestination which shows (truly enough) that eternal reality is not waiting for a future in which to be real; but at the price of removing Freedom which is the deeper truth of the two. And wouldn't Universalism do the same? Ye cannot know eternal reality by a definition. Time itself, and all acts and events that fill Time, are the definition, and it must be lived. The Lord said we were gods. How long could ye bear to look (without Time's lens) on the greatness of your own soul and the eternal reality of [the saint's] choice?"
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
There's a part in the movie Fight Club where Tyler Durden tells Narrator that "You are not your job, you're not how much money you have in the bank, you're not the car you drive, you're not the contents of your wallet, you're not your [expletive] khakis." Among the many good tidbits in the film, this is one which struck me lately. At church this past Sunday, we were talking about blessings, and it occurred to me that we often define ourselves by them.
To varying extents, we get defensively jealous about the things we have. For some people, no matter how bad the place was in which they grew up, it'll always be "home" for them, and you'd best not diss it. In a similar matter, conservative Episcopalians will mock the heck out of our church, but when other people do so, then it becomes offensive. My parents like to tell the story of one of the times when we moved, when one of my sisters was very young and still in diapers. The boxers had come in that day and packed everything up, including all of her toys (well, other than one or two my parents had packed in their travel bags). My sister watched all our furniture, rugs, her toys, and everything disappear. Not long afterwards, she went to the bathroom, and one of my parents went to change her. When they tried to take off her diaper, she started crying and held on to it for everything she was worth, at it was the only thing she seemed to have left. It was a messed diaper, but it was what she had, and she was darn well keeping it. This is nothing new; check out Judges 18:24, when the idols Micah (not the prophet) has made for himself are stolen, and he begs for them back even though they obviously can't even protect themselves, let alone him.
Similarly, when something which forms a major part of our life is criticized, we take it personally. If someone told you that your job wasn't important, you'd be offended. It's annoying when my horn playing or dancing is mocked. When people criticize my truck, I get upset. The problem is that my horn playing, dancing, truck, etc. don't define who I am. People may have a legitimate point that their dancing is far superior to mine, or that their truck is much more powerful. However, the thing to remember is that even in the case of skills that I've learned, I wouldn't have them if I hadn't been placed in certain situations by factors beyond my control. And because these things were given to me by God, sacrificing them should not harm me personally.
(more later; I have a headache...)
Saturday, September 11, 2004
Be sure to check out the Western Michigan Preview over at Tailgatefever.com. Of course, one of the premiere sites for Virginia Tech athletic commentary is Techsideline.com, but let's face it: all of Tailgate Fever's content is free, and it's a whole heck of a lot funnier.
Incidentally, we beat Western Michigan 63-0 today. We've played them for each of the past three years, and they have yet to score against us. They had three missed field goals today, though at least one, and possibly more were tipped. And, to be honest, we didn't deliberately run up the score. WMU played well; the problem was that whenever they made a mistake, it seemed to result in a Hokie touchdown. At least four of the touchdowns resulted directly from turnovers, we got a hand in on a punt or two of theirs, and several of our late scores were simply the result of our backups doing a great job. Personally, my favorite was when we tipped a pass, one of their offensive linemen caught it and was immediately swarmed by people from both teams, and in the confusion, one of our defensive linemen ran up to the outside and suddenly found himself with the ball. He looked surprised for a moment, as if to say "wait...this is the football...shoot!" before running it in for the score, unnoticed except possibly by one Hokie and one Bronco player several yards away. As he ran it in, he seemed to be shrugging, saying "heck, I'm not going to ask questions on this one!" I don't have anything against WMU, and in the end I have to admit that I was hoping they'd score so that we wouldn't have to shut them out. I don't know if we play them again, as they're from the MAC and we're now ACC, but I'd imagine that they're probably just about sick of playing us. The band played well; our show featured the Hokie Pokie and forming the "flying" VT logo and then flipping it. Our Freshmen didn't seem to get lost, and everyone had a good time. Next week we host Duke, in what is likely to be another blowout (if it's not, we're in some seriously deep trouble). After that, we host N.C. State, which I suppose could go either way, though we tend to do well against big-name teams who come to Lane Stadium (having beaten LSU, Texas A&M, and Miami in the past few years).
UPDATE: There are two things which I forgot to mention. First, this is apparently the third time the defensive lineman mentioned above, Jason Lallis, has scored. Sheesh! Also, before the game, we had a flyover by a B-52 bomber, which was awesome. In my five seasons in the band at Tech, I've seen flyovers by a B-1, a B-2, a B-52, several groups of fighters, and several demonstrations by the Army's Golden Knights parachute team.
As important as the wedding ring will be to signify to whomever I marry that we're united as one, I think that the true symbol will come in the form of a different ring; namely, the key ring which has copies of the keys to my truck.
As a birthday/Christmas/graduation present, my parents got me a 2003 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab pickup truck. It's silver, it's got 4WD, and it's got a Leer cap on the back. Basically, it looks like this (the silver one), except with the aforementioned cap and with Virginia Tech license plate frames. I like it a lot. Twice, my parents had told me that they wanted to get me a new car, and twice I'd told them that I was okay with using our 1994 Ford Taurus station wagon. Finally, they told me that as my two youngest sisters (twins) were both now old enough to drive, that we needed it for one of them so that they could get to work after school, and that was enough to get me to consider a new vehicle. My parents had been thinking of something like a Toyota RAV4 or a Honda CRV, but I looked and both had tiny engines and not all that much cargo space. This was bad, as the two main things I want in a car are power and space (yes, I'm an American male, why do you ask?). Over at one Toyota lot, I wandered over to randomly look at the pickup trucks, and noticed, to my surprise, that the Tacoma Double Cab was (with the manufacturer's discounts for both vehicles applied), the same price as the RAV4. However, it had a much bigger engine and a lot more room to carry things. I tried very hard to find a used truck over the next few weeks but there were no good ones available, which is no surprise as most pickup truck drivers drive theirs essentially until the whole thing collapses in a heap and dies, which sometimes happens around the 200k or even 300k mark.
I like how I've got enough space to lug all my furniture down to school, and yet am still able to get enough acceleration to drive and merge on the Beltway in the local style. I really like the sound system as well, though given that the Taurus had no CD player and one of my sisters had blown out the treble on the speakers (how, I don't know), the standard Toyota system would have a hard time not comparing favorably. I like how there is a seemingly-random button that I can push to suddenly change the fuel mixture and add about 70 horsepower. Due to an incident on a trip to Chester, it has now become de rigeur to "Fire the Booster" at the slightest provocation. However, the real reason that I love my truck is that it's great for ministering to others. I really like to help people. With this, I've carried couches, a load of dirt, several dozen boxes of tap shoes, and countless full loads of backpacks/suitcases and carloads of people. There have been several times when trips simply would not have happened had I not had a vehicle as capable as my truck. I had a lot of these things in mind when I decided on this particular model, but I never dreamed that I'd be able to use it so much, so soon. Again, it really brings me great joy and fulfillment to be able to serve others in this way, and there are very few things for which I'd trade having the Tacoma.
One thing that I don't like, though, is having people criticize my truck. Now, I could understand it if you were saying something like "you should've left the back open" or "I think that maroon would've been a better color." Those are things on which reasonable people can disagree, and I can easily see the merits of such comments. Things that get to me, though, are comments like "only a V6? My truck has a V8," "Yours is really just a big station wagon," or "if it's not a manual, it's not really a truck." The model does not come in manual. If it were to have done so, I still would have gotten an automatic, for essentially the same reason as I prefer power door locks and windows to manual ones. It's called technological progress. It's also the reason I have a CD player and not an 8-track. Stick-shift is old and busted; automatic is the new hotness. For that matter, if a person doesn't like my truck, then perhaps they shouldn't be bumming rides off of me. The way I was raised, you don't complain about a person's car when they're giving you a ride. I'm sure there's something about not looking gift horses in the mouth and beggars not being choosers that would be relevant to this.
All this is to say that I am extremely fortunate, not only to have such a fine vehicle but also to be able to use to serve others. I hope you like my truck as much as I do. It is truly a blessing for me to have it, and I am extremely thankful.
Monday, September 06, 2004
So with all this talk about yielding lately, don't you think that you need to sacrifice everything, and that holding one thing back is a recipe for disaster?
Yes, actually. Whether you're holding back from God in one area or in all of them, the point is that you're still putting your will above God's. However, let's clarify: it's not so much that you need to actually sacrifice everything, but rather that you need to be willing to do so. Abraham was absolutely willing to sacrifice Isaac, but God chose to give Isaac back. On the other hand, Jephthah had to sacrifice his only daughter (Judges 11:29-40), and all of the apostles except John were executed.
Well, do you agree that if we're responsible to anyone or anything except God, it prevents us from serving Him?
Well, we can't serve two masters.
And, Paul says that he thinks that it's better for believers not to marry. After all, if your wife or children need help, then your efforts are going towards helping towards believers, rather than witnessing to unbelievers, right? Though all believers will be Saved, it sure seems as though those who truly want to be His and to serve Him need to be willing to sacrifice the possibility of getting married so that they may fully serve.
I see your logic. That's probably the reason why the Roman Catholic Church refuses to allow its priests to marry. It's certainly true that you miss out on a lot of opportunities to minister if you're obligated to your wife and children, rather than simply yourself.
Christ Himself even says that we must hate our parents and our siblings to follow Him. QED.
Hold up just a moment. You've made a good argument so far, but let's not forget that God instituted marriage before the Fall of Man. He also even commands it at certain points, as when he told the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute. Marriage is even a model used to explain our relationship with God, using the Church as the bride of Christ.
Okay, so we've got a problem then. We're constrained if we marry, yet we also know that God approves of marriage and even commands it at times. Work your way out of this one.
Well, just as it says in Ecclesiastes, there's a time for everything. Let's look at the example of the Deacon Philip. It seems to be the case that he was single when he'd fled from Jerusalem and ended up meeting the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39). I have a hard time imagining him having the ability to be in such a position had been wed. However, when we run across Philip again, he's playing host in Caesarea to Paul on his trip to Jerusalem (Acts 21:8-9), and he's got a wife and four prophetess daughters. Clearly, Philip's marriage was required for this to occur. God uses us differently at different times. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that no matter what choice we make, we're eliminating a whole host of other opportunities from consideration. If I decide to spend an hour reading my Bible, that's an hour when I'm not, say, serving soup to the homeless. Likewise, if I spend time taking my kids to a baseball game, that's time when we're not serving others.
That sounds pretty selfish to me.
At first, it does. However, ministry doesn't always have to be active. For some people, simply seeing a loving marriage that works is a huge encouragement. Single people, while free in many regards, are also limited in others. If I have a married friend who's having trouble with his wife, what do I as a single man know to help him out? There's also a bit of a cultural bias against single people at a certain point. It's one thing for a married guy to coach a team or mentor a child, but if the guy is single then people often think that there's something wrong with him, and that he may even be a pedophile. Whenever you go down one path, some opportunities are opened and others are closed forever. The question, to me, seems to be "What does God have in mind?" I hope to be single as long as it is His will, and married as soon (assuming "if," of course) as His will dictates it. And, there's no point in rushing things. Not only do you risk marrying the wrong person, at the wrong time, or laying a poor foundation for your life together, but you're also distracted from doing God's work. We as Christians seek to do all that is commanded of us, but how will it be on our wedding day to realize that so many of the things God had appointed for us to do while single never got done? Speaking for me personally, I'm in no rush. If I get married before I'm thirty, I'll still probably be ahead of my family's average. And, more importantly, I'm seeing God working a lot in my life right now, in areas where I would have no or diminished effectiveness if I were married. God has a plan for each of us; worrying solves nothing.
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
I've been thinking and praying lately, and some things have been coming to mind. Incidentally, I apologize to anyone who's been coming to this site in hopes of finding more than self-absorbed ramblings of a grad student, and were hoping instead for more Theological Forays or things like that. Maybe I'll get back to those at one point, but at the moment, I'm a grad student who is quite often self-absorbed, and what I've been considering lately is more how to apply God's word to my life and less how to examine the doctrine itself.
When I came across a devotion in Oswald Chambers' My Utmost For His Highest on yielding to God, it started this whole line of thought. His big point was that instead of seeking to be active and asking God to bless our endeavors, we should instead be willing tools of God. God is not our co-pilot, someone to take over when we need a break or can't do something ourselves. HE IS the force that created and sustains the universe. He created us, and knows far better how to fulfill us than we ever could. Our mistake comes in thinking that we can muddle through on our own. We look at ourselves, whether we're smart, funny, popular, good-looking, rich, athletic, kind, or whatever we may see as our strengths, and we try and take on the world with those. However, the old line about how "to a hammer, everything looks like a nail" is appropriate. God can't use us properly if we're trying to use ourselves to do something other than God's will. Very often, what we perceive as our greatest strengths are really our greatest weaknesses, and what we think are the things that most keep us down are those things which make us effective tools.
I look at myself, and I'm proud (not necessarily in a good way) of many of the things that are true of me. I was raised in Northern Virginia, where I can lay claim to some Southern-ness but still speak without a huge accent. I'm Episcopalian, which is more-or-less the aristocracy of Christianity in America. I'm proud of my lineage, knowing that I have neither nazis nor slaveholders in there, and that very many of my ancestors died in war. I received a good education, go to a fine university, and am often considered smart (I think people are confusing "smart" with "well-educated," which isn't the same thing). Now, did I actually create any of these things myself? One could argue for the Episcopalian and Virginia Tech things, but those are more products of me being from a middle-class family in Northern Virginia than anything else. Nonetheless, it's easy for me to become prideful, and so one way I deal with fear, anger, frustration, and the like is to act, well, snobby. Sometimes it's a conscious decision; more often it's not. I don't think that I actually am snobby, but I think I may perceived that way, and so it's an easy stereotype to crawl into and defend from when I'm feeling attacked.
These things that I mentioned above as seeming strengths are clearly weaknesses on my part. For most or all of them, I could easily find major downsides to them (being Episcopalian right now, for example). And thinking about that jogged my mind on something else. I think that, too often (which is ever), we as Christians yield areas of our life, consider ourselves to be good people, and retain areas of ourself where we want God to do our will. In effect, we're bargaining, saying "Lord, if I do all these things, then I've got this one small favor I'd like..." It doesn't work that way, and I suspect that God may specially refuse to grant that request. Whether it's the desire for a girlfriend (I'm a guy; girls reading this may feel free to substitute "boyfriend"), wanting to get a good promotion or job, or simply wanting people to appreciate what you're doing, the area you refuse to surrender is the area which God will beseige and Satan will send defenders. To truly be cleansed and useful, and to be fulfilled, we must sacrifice our entire selves to Christ. So long as you allow that one cancerous part of you to remain, your whole body is vulnerable.