This is probably going to become an increasingly irrelevant post as you continue to read.

That is just a courtesy warning I extended to you as the reader, you are free to ignore it and wander into the deepest recesses of my ramblings after a relaxing day off spent almost exclusively at Starbucks reading and thinking.

For starters, while I should note that Dallas boasts a rather healthy supply of restaurants, and not shabby ones at that, several key eateries that compose my diet remain lacking. They are as follows:

  • Quaker Steak and Lube (all you can eat wings during lunch)
  • Shane’s Rib Shack (self explanatory)
  • Zaxby’s (chicken goodness)
  • Five Guys Burgers and Fries
  • Blue Coast Burrito (best chips and salsa)
  • Fuji (hibachi steakhouse w/drive thru)
  • The Gondolier (best pizza)
  • Che Guevare (s/p?) (next best chips, best quesadillas)

I felt obligated to at least place the above in some category in your mind for you if hadn’t heard of the wonders of Blue Coast, the ubiquitous effects of eating at Five Guys, or could not discern whether Quaker Steak involved and oil change or not. At any rate, it should obvious how my spring break will be spent. That’s right. Eating. Oh and probably sitting at Starbucks all day reading and writing silly blogs like this one.

Moving on, I picked up an old school copy of Moby Dick on Friday, along with an even older school illustrated hardback copy of the complete works of Lewis Carroll.  Twas brillig and slithy toves indeed, right?

There’s nothing quite like reading all old book as the sun sets and a gentle breeze starts to blow, all the while being serenaded by the afternoon jams of your choice.  It is the essence of what Sunday afternoons are now about. At least in my world that is.

In hindsight, I realized I worked almost 40 hours this week in addition to the 14 hours of class.

Somehow it didn’t seem all that bad, almost as if something carried me through it in what felt like my own strength, but certainly couldn’t be. I think there’s a name for it. Oh that’s right. Grace.

Musically, no one that I listen to regularly seems to speak more of grace than As Cities Burn. For example, from “Empire:”

And I was a middle son,
between two wayward ones.
I was more deserving of my parents love.

I had an angels smile,
hiding a vultures bite.
I had no use for your redeeming blood.

Aren’t I glory, glorious?

Glory, glorious.
Aren’t we glory, glorious?
Aren’t we worthy, worthy of hearts at our feet?

Cause I was a pharisee,
I never saw my need for grace;
Then your love came to me
stood next to mine, and I saw that I was poor.

Show me I was poor.
Show us we are,
show us we are.

Glory, glorious.
We are glory, glorious.
Not from what good we have done
but from being the least.

Or a little more explicitly from “The Hoard”

They say that good boys walk straight on white lines.
Good boys keep their livers clean,
And smoke out of their lungs.
‘Cause it’s all about what you’ve done,
Good boys don’t make mistakes to learn from.

‘Cause when heaven comes,
They won’t be caught being young.

Grace make your way to the well,
To those who deserve it.
After all they’ve earned it.
But vain, it’s in vain,
‘Cause they don’t need it.

They’re steady, steady breathers,
Who won’t lift a finger for the gasping weaker.
You just hoard your hollow completion,
Like it’s something wearing thin.
Like it’s gonna get you in, When heaven comes.

‘Cause when heaven comes,
I swear it comes in love.

Grace make your way to the well,
To those who deserve it.
After all they’ve earned it.
But vain, it’s in vain,
‘Cause they don’t need it.

Now I let go of your hand somewhere between,
Love and what it demands of me.

Grace make your way. 

Now the lyrical content is a little sparse, but you can either pick up the album, or download the songs off of iTunes if you really want to hear the emotional force with which the idea is delivered.  It seems to grab my attention every time. Which is why I’m going to see them along with Emery tomorrow, making for a rather good show with at least two excellent live performances.

But back to less significant matters.

I can’t really tell why my typing is deteriorating, or whether my keyboard is not tracking with my fingers as well as it used to. My laptop has been through a lot, transport and such, as well as intense usage. It may be on the way out. Hopefully not.

I didn’t realize how scene this Starbucks was until now that I am here after dark. That’s usually when they come out, or at least that was my experience at Turkey Creek, wading through the nocturnally natured adolescents noting band t-shirts here and there of artists I like, and then wondering whose music tastes it reflects more on.

That is probably the topic of another post related to the evolving sub-culture I am sometimes more apart of than others, but will probably undoubtedly surface in the coming weeks, or months.

In light of this, I should probably stop before digressing into even more meaningless drivel. For more insightful writing, see the update to the Marturo blog.

Until next time, keep the dream alive.

oh how sweet the sound
I know it saved but is it changing a wretch like me
oh my God how sweet is the sound
I once was blind but now I just look away

Living in Subjunctive

February 22, 2008 — 1 Comment
Life is very much becoming more and more in the subjunctive mood.

Not that it is bad or anything at all…

It just needs to materialize into a more indicative reality.

Starting a band…

Researching the heart…

Crafting dialogue…

Studying theology…

Incessantly reading…

Planning the ultimate road trip…

Hedging out a sabbatical month…

Plotting out recording time…

Looking for inspiration…

Reflecting on the Trinity….

Chasing sunsets…

That about sums it up, but as you can see there’s a myriad of possibilities of what may come to pass (hence the reference to the subjunctive mood of the Greek verbal system).

However, the difference lies in changing what may come to pass into what is coming to pass.

May God guide the process as it steams along…

Time Shifting

February 18, 2008 — Leave a comment

I suppose an update of some sort is in order, I mean when did I write in here last again?

Hold on, I’m going to look it up…

Ok, so its been about two weeks,  hopefully no one felt deprived of meaning in their life. If you did for some unknown reason, we should probably discuss it in person.

Anyway, not too much has transpired, but nothing really stays the same either, otherwise, there any kind of an update would be meaningless.

This past weekend we (you know who you are) had the pleasure of going to Passion Dallas, which was amazing to say the least. Rather than explain the whole conference, the curious can find more here.

It was refreshing in more ways than one, and it was long overdue to hear a compelling message on the Holy Spirit.

My thoughts, I’m sure, on the content of the weekend will be forthcoming, for now, just know that some friends and I went, and if you live anywhere near DC or the ATL you need to go to one of the remaining two.

Other notable changes are as follows:

  1. Ascension back to the consumption of the infamous 6-shots-over-ice-in-a-grande-cup-no-room beverage at Starbucks.
  2. Trying to finish a workout by 6am and using the remaining part of the morning before work for reflection and pleasure reading.
  3. Purchase and subsequent viewing of the Flight of the Conchords 1st season on DVD.
  4. Journeying into the exciting realm of philosophical theology.
  5. Rediscovering the full range of albums on my iPod.
  6. Contemplating the Trinity at an ever-increasing frequency.
  7. Mastering the art of timelessness.

Now this last part probably necessitates a certain measure of explanation.

Philosophically speaking, I realize I cannot actually achieve timelessness, but from my perceptive abilities I can in practical reality somewhat easily attain the otherwise impossible.

Its been a gradual process stemming from some interesting research from a friend of mine back in Knoxville and can be somewhat encapsulated in a book by Stephan Rechtshaffen called Time Shifting.

Basically, time can somewhat be understood as an objective measurement of reality that does not necessarily have an object existence of its own, that is, one’s perception of the passage of time is extremely subjective.

If you have a stopwatch you can easily illustrate this to yourself by starting it, closing your eyes, and then opening them when you think a minute has passed.

More than likely you will be wrong.

Anyway, if you want a lot of the philosophy underlying it, read the book, but otherwise, here’s something practical I have found to help divorce myself from being driven by time and have since started experiencing a lot less anxiety and stress about getting things done, and have also found plenty of time to do everything I need to do.

Sounds somewhat enticing doesn’t it?

To experience just a little bit of the freedom try the following sometime when you can legitimately take an entire day off. You can still work on homework, reading, etc. But for the most part, try to spend the day away from the normal surroundings, preferably alone, something probably more of a sacrifice for most than for me. Anyway:

  • Take a piece of black duct tape and cover the clock in your car.
  • After waking in the morning, try as much as possible to not look at the clock on your phone, it’s preferable to actually turn it off, but you can just as easily not look at it very much.
  • If you usually wear a watch, don’t. If you want a dramatic effect, write “NOW” on your wrist instead.
  • Go somewhere else for the day (I usually go to Arlington). If you happen to be in Schroon Lake, this would be Sarasota Springs for you. Anywhere else, just drive 30 minutes away.
  • This tends to work fairly well on Sundays for me, you can still go to church if you want to, just avoid knowing what time it is.
  • Take whatever you feel you need, Bible, laptop, ipod, book of choice, notebook, blanket, guitar, camera, pool chemicals, your apron if you think you may want to pick up a random shift at some Starbucks, these are just a few ideas to get you started.
  • Spend the day doing whatever you feel like, irrespective of the passing of time.
  • Odds are you will probably only become aware of the time when the sun starts setting, at which point you could call it a day and step back into to reality, but again that’s up to you.

I would be interested to know if anyone happens to try this adventure. Depending on how entrenched you are in the time-space continuum, this could be fairly radical for you, but there’s something rather freeing and invigorating about not caring what time it is.

In essence, you really only have the present, and as such, should only be focused on what is happening then, and in order to do so, knowing the time is irrelevant.

Having permanently duct-taped away my clock in my car, driving has become even more relaxing for there is no time apparent from point A to point B. I know what time it is when I leave so I will make it wherever I need to be, but I also leave much earlier than I used to so traffic matters little, and in a very real sense, I can’t get there much faster regardless of whether I know what my time looks like or not.

So anyway, that’s a nutshell of the recent developments.

There was a rather sharp epiphany while on one of these timeless excursions last week, which will turn into a project for Trinitarianism and will probably appear on the other blog in short segments at some point.

The forthcoming synthesis of my neurocardiology research, philosophical reasonings concerning the nature of the Trinity, and understanding of psychology in light of the Bible is in the making. Hopefully it all comes together as lucidly on the paper as it is unfolding in my head.

But we’ll see…..

Somewhat of an update…

February 5, 2008 — 1 Comment

Most of my blogs seem to start out with, “its been a while hasn’t it?”

This one started out with “most of my blogs seems to start out….” which is in fact totally different.

But not by much.

Not too much has transpired in the life and times of Nate Claiborne, except for the now occassional third person reference.

Other than that, just living the dream, working 3 jobs (sometimes 4), going to school, and rocking out with the windows down when the weather allows.

Speaking of rocking out, its probably time for some kind of updated list of current music. Very heavy in rotation right now:

  • Once Nothing “First Came the Law”
  • The Mars Volta “The Bedlam in Goliath”
  • Kings of Convenience “Quiet is the New Loud”
  • Athlete “Beyond the Neighbourhood”
  • Minus the Bear “Menos El Oso”
  • Oh Sleeper “When I am God”

Over the weekend, I had the idea to start writing about music, not so much in the above way but in a more philosophical way. Everything for me tends to break down into musical analogies and philosophical dialogue, so why not combine the two. Some of it probably had to with reading Aristotle “On the Soul” (or De Anima if you prefer) and listening to some rather heart stirring music (it was the above Mars Volta if I remember correctly). I realized how much, to use a somewhat lame metaphor, certain albums from my past pull at my heart strings. In wanting to dig into that a little deeper, I started thinking through how to verbalize it somewhat, or at least carefully analyze it so as to not ruin its mystery, but at least make it a little more accessible to others so I am not perpetually in my own little world of music, isolated from the rest of the culture I currently live in and engage on a daily basis.

I will not dogmatically so no one really connects with me in this respect, but in recent past (i.e. since high school) I have used the albums of the current season of my life to create an emotional road map that could be traveled again at a later date. For instance, the soothing melodies on “Eria Tarka” from The Mars Volta’s debut Deloused in the Comatorium,  immediately take me back to the beaches of Florida circa 03/04. The chorus of “The Ocean” from Mae’s Everglow brings back memories of spring semester in New York, and song that all too many people chose to belt out in between class sessions. The opening onslaught of “Your Little Surburbia Is In Ruins” from August Burns Red’s debut Thrill Seeker puts me on a cloudy Pensacola beach, early in the morning on a rather emotionally stirring road trip. Even Between the Buried and Me’s magnum opus Colors takes me back to last semester and cramming furiously for a Horrell exam.

All said, its easy for me to get lost in my own history at times, especially having some points to share with so many different people, but no one really to tell the whole story to; but I try to avoid getting too entangled in my own personal history. Music though, for better or worse, is a part of my life, more so I think than most people, although I am not denying that many of you who will read this could do an even more detailed smattering of songs and life moments similar to the above. It is though intrinsically tied to my memory of my past few years of life, and as such, my album collection could very easily be sorted autobiographically rather than alphabetically, but apple has yet to add that as an option in music customization.

Maybe one day…

Buckeyes and Backseats

January 9, 2008 — 2 Comments

Its finally time to resurrect the bulletin point blogs.

Quick note, the new Radiohead is amazing, so the first album you purchase this year should be In Rainbows

It was really nice when I got back to Dallas, smelled like spring even. But that changed rather quickly.

I did a lot of reading over break, none of it having anything to do with school.

Because that’s what breaks are for right? Either that or sleeping, but honestly, who does that?

So I think I’m going to use this blog primarily for narratives about my life past and present (but not future) rather than serious conversation (which can be read elsewhere).

We’ll see how this works with the simultaneous idea of going back to bullet blogs.

Its a little known fact that the Cincinnati airport is actually in Kentucky.

I suppose they ran out of space in Ohio for it.

Which seems odd if to think if you’ve ever experienced Ohio like I have, an experience including but not limited to vast empty spaces, as well as the back of a patrol car.

Apparently Cedarville is in a rather small town, and happens to have to security that takes note of strange vehicles cruising on to campus late at night.

Or maybe it had to do with being the week after the shootings at Virginia Tech.

At any rate,  I was picked up by the campus police.

Who apparently had not had many people incarcerated in the backseat, because the officer instructed me to get out when we got to the appropriate dorm I was supposedly staying at.

To which I replied “These doors don’t open from the inside.”

At this point one should note that the conversation had fortunately been less than serious up to this interchange.

Unless being told about how cold Minnesota is during winter is serious business.

But one should also note, I had just met the guy whose dorm I was crashing at, and he had decided to go to bed in the interval between my arrival and subsequent departure to retrieve my personal items from the car.

Enter stage right campus police officer banging on dorm room (while holding my license, which incidentally bears no resemblance to me currently) of sleeping guy who barely knows me, but must now vouch for me.

Cutting to the chase, it all ended with awkward laughter and talk of an underwear fire a few nights previous.

Then I slept on a random couch in dorm full of guys I didn’t know and didn’t bother to introduce myself to.

But again, it was coming up on finals week, and I don’t really think anyone cared too much.

So there you have it, Ohio in a nutshell, the rest is just crudely paved interstates and the statue of touchdown Jesus just north of Cincinnati (google it).

Oh, and apparently they have a college football team incapable of competing in a real conference like the SEC.

But really, who wants to talk about football?

There was a really sweet indie band in the late 90’s called American Football, everyone should find their self titled CD.

So now that’s two CD’s you need to find.

I better let you go so you can get on that.

Try Amazon.

You know, the website?

Not the rainforest. Or at least what’s left of it after the vegetarians get done with it.

But I digress…

An unorthodox approach…

January 1, 2008 — 1 Comment

So here we are, another year has gone by.

Overall this has been a better year than some in recent past, as far as years go.

To illustrate, here’s the rundown of the past years of this decade

2000: Technically this year was the last of the 90’s, but am I typically the kind of person to point out technicalities? Don’t really remember much other than a lame New Year. This was in the middle of my sophomore year of high school. And the later half included my 16th birthday and the start of my last full year of high school (full as in more than just two English classes).  Fun fact, I did not actually get my license until I was almost 17.

2001: This year was much better. In the spring I went to Spain/France for three weeks, which was probably three of the most amazing weeks I have had the pleasure of enjoying. Not that the year needed any help being incredible, but roughly two months after getting back from Spain, my family and I flew to Las Vegas and then proceeded to put 5000 miles on a rental car in a little over two weeks by driving it up through to Yellowstone, over to Seattle/Vancouver, and then down the entire west coast to San Diego and the eventual Mexican Border by way of Redwood National Forest, San Fransisco, Los Angeles, and the OC before it was the OC. We also saw a good bit of Las Vegas, but after a previous road trip a decade ago (’99) we already been there, done that. The look on the rental car associate’s face was priceless.

2002: Hard to top 2001, so in a way, I didn’t even try. I did manage to graduate high school, turn 18 somewhat anonymously, record an album of songs I had written, buy my own recording studio equipment, set up shop in the attic, and then spend the better part of the last half of the year writing and recording and unfortunately working at Lowe’s.

2003: Similar to the end of 2002, lots of recording, but a decision at some point was made that would change the course of my life permanently. Sometime in the spring I decided to go to Florida for a year with Steven to go to Word of Life Bible Institute, becoming the first of many rather pivotal springtime decisions. The first of part of the year proved rather lame, but the fall quarter in Tampa more than made up for it; made a lot of new friends and somehow managed to be elected student body president. This was also the beginning of my development of social skills; which somehow culminated rather intensely at the end of the year due to a decision I made while drugged up on hydrocodeine after a vigorous fight with the oral surgeon over my wisdom teeth (which I still keep in a cup on my desk for obvious reasons). The fall had not been my most clearheaded semester of school, a pattern that will further develop below.

2004: Due to said decision above, I made several significant friends the remaining time at Word of Life, and even started dating someone. Not that I hadn’t dated in high school, it just wasn’t as intense, or long lasting at this relationship turned out to be. Had an amazing rest of the year, and again, made a decision that would alter the course of my life by opting out of a full ride to study recording industry and instead embarked on an education geared towards the ministry. This meant a year of school in upstate New York, which proved to be a rather intense year to say the least, jump started by a rather awful fall quarter, continuing a cycle that would take several years to break.

2005: This year started out rather cold to say the least, but in keeping with the cycle would gradually warm up come spring, starting with a fragmentation of a relationship (doublespeak for getting dumped) and a trip to Argentina (referred to elsewhere). Negatively, some of the decisions and determinations made on that trip resulted in later failed relationships, but the determination to focus on developing guy friendships resulted in a focus on discipleship over the summer the high school guys in unit had not seen before. Needless to say, summer of 2005 was easily the best summer of my life, for more reasons than I can list here, and it was at that point that a direction in ministry was solidified, further guiding the original decision made the year before to pursue that sort of training. But alas, the fall entailed an all too inclusive work schedule and a slipping off into spiritual mediocrity that would take more than a year to correct. On the positive side, the jobs at Starbucks and MCR that I started that fall still fund my bank account now (although not to the extent that they once did).

2006: The start of this year should have been a signal that it would be a rather awful year as a whole. While I was the one who ended the relationship, it was really more like my hand was forced by the infamous “non-breakup, breakup” You know, the kind where you have to actually do the formal breaking up because the other party was too irresponsible to verbally end something that they emotionally ended almost a month before. Anyway, this did not bode well for the rest of the year. Positively, I started working on finishing my degree through Liberty online, and then proceeded to do so until August of the next year, negatively I decided to go back to camp to recreate the magic from the year before and even more negatively, decided to start dating someone I knew in my heart was a horrible match for me. But unfortunately I had lost faith in myself to make good intuitive decisions, and being in the spiritual wasteland that I was in, there was no guiding of the Spirit to be had. What followed was the worst relationship to date, the worst fall semester to date, and one of the least profitable or enjoyable years in my life.

2007: Not being able to plunge much deeper into mediocrity, this year could only get better, and in fact it did. Last New Years was rather lame. But fun fact: I had my first beer in celebration of it. Maybe the context with which it was consumed led it to also be the only beer I’ve ever had, but this probably was not the Blue Moon’s fault. At any rate, thoughts of alcohol only bring bad memories, so 2007 was as dry as they come. Not long after this, the spiritual awakening process started at Passion, which then a couple of months later culminated in breaking off a potentially lethal relationship and not long afterwards, having the feeling impressed upon my spirit that I should go ahead and apply to go to Dallas Theological Seminary in the fall, which I did. From this point the year only continued to improve. The summer was enjoyable and I made two really good friends rather unexpectedly. Other than working in a less than desirable environment for the better part of the fall semester, and accumulating a rather nasty debtload, the fall broke the previous cycle of mindless decision making and poor positioning for positive outcomes in life management. In other words, I stayed focused and made the necessary adjustments to stay spiritually on track and mentally alert, thus having a rather promising first semester of seminary and as an added bonus made many incredible friends.

Which brings us to now, New Years Eve 2007, with me, alone, sitting in Starbucks typing this out rather partying like a rockstar. Not that I have ever really partied like a rockstar anyway (although one could argue by being my own band I’ve more than earned the right to); but it seems unorthodox to say the least to somewhat care less about any New Year’s festivities.

In some ways, due to several decisions above, it feels like I am running a different race of sorts. I don’t march to the beat of a different drum, I am the drummer making the beat. In one of my many leather bound books, John Maxwell, says, or probably knowing him, quotes someone else as saying “Its not that nice guys finish last, it’s that they are usually running in a different race.” This fits nicely next to Tommy Nelson’s “Nice guys finish last, bad guys go to hell,” as a nice caveat when confronted with a status different than the rest of the world around you. But maybe it’s just my nature to prefer introspection and refocusing at a time like this, rather than socialization and debauchery. Although one could easily also posit, without anyone else to Carpe New Year’s, it seems rather pointless to do anything that will knowingly pale in comparison. This really is not related to being a nice guy per se, but for some reason that quote keeps popping in my head when thinking through my divergences from the mainstream. It does not necessarily bother me, it’s just something I ponder from time to time, now being one of those times.

I am going over to Steven’s girlfriend’s house in a few minutes to celebrate with them, but part of me secretly would like to go somewhere where nobody knows I am and celebrate in silence. The only real problem with this is the lack of a good place to do so. Unfortunately my secret places are both several hundred miles away, and one is additionally enveloped in frigidity. Anonymity can be a bad thing in excess, hence the trouble most young college students get into away from home and any accountability, but in some instances, when sought for the right reasons, anonymity can be rather empowering and centering, especially for approaching a new year and potential to further ingrain good habits and engender new ones.

So here we are.

It’s been a good year.

I’m not really fond of the number 8, I will miss writing 07 in logbooks, journals, personal checks, and papers. But given the momentum, 2008 could develop rather nicely. I will be interested to see what life impacting decisions get made this spring. The negative part of the cycle was broken this past fall, but hopefully that does not cancel out the positive part that usually takes place late winter/early spring; although the placement of Dallas’ spring may alter the timing of things. I shudder to think what might happen if it just went straight to summer. That would throw all this speculation off now wouldn’t it?

Hope everyone has/had a happy New Year. I’ll be up bright and early goal setting and semester mapping, the perfect way to spend a day off, especially if you include a good dose of college football and all you can eat wings, which unlike tonight, necessitate the company of others to fully enjoy.

Now departing…

December 29, 2007 — Leave a comment

It seems in some ways I am writing a few days behind my thoughts.

 

For instance, the last entry was conceived of several days before it came to fruition, and again, this entry reflects thoughts from earlier in the week.

 

Maybe its better that way, you know? That way, I don’t write stupid, pointless dribble in here, but rather, well intentioned, thought through ideas and who knows, maybe even feelings.

 

Anyway, Christmas morning I slept in for the first time in a couple of days. It defies logic when you actually think about it. I’ll get up unnecessarily early to go drink coffee and read, or even the unspeakable opening shift at Starbucks Dallas; but come Christmas morning when there are presents to be opened and general merriment to be had, I tend to hit the snooze on my phone/alarm clock repeatedly. It’s been this way for several years, somewhat coinciding with the maturation process and the inevitable life long stage of not really asking for anything super significant for Christmas. But due to an unfortunate incident on a rainy Friday a couple of weeks ago*, I had been iPodless for several weeks, including an excruciatingly long day at the airport. Thanks to Christen though in that case for: a) taking me to the airport, b) waiting patiently while I sorted out flight details** and then c) staying and talking to me at length while we waited for my flight. Before digressing further into the life and times of my airport experiences (the 14 trip home not the longest mind you***), back to Christmas.

 

So Christmas morning, doing the usual languishing on the futon, but gradually emerging from a not so strenuous slumber; and I began to have rather intense feelings of gratitude. This is prior to opening any presents mind you, but due to my properly attuned faculties of smelling and hearing. I overhead the soft Christmas music playing downstairs in the den (a Christmas morning necessity) as well as my parents talking in my absence, not so much about what they got me or anything like that, but you could just tell they were somewhat excited about Christmas. Right about then, the smell of delicious orange glazed cinnamon rolls wafted up the stairs and found a home in my nasal passages. Maybe here on paper (digital paper I suppose) it doesn’t sound that enticing, but put all together after a long semester away, a long trip home, and a long day of work on Christmas eve, it was a very comforting feeling. Not at all for the first time, but I could really feel my parents love for me and a love in return was kindled, as well as the feeling of intense gratitude mentioned just earlier this very paragraph.

 

Getting up to open presents, I found everything was just as it should be, the music, the food, the eggnog, the coffee, the dog, the parents, the tree, the lighting, oh and the presents. Prior to the loss of the beloved iPod (see an earlier entry), I had asked for some books (since I don’t read enough, nor have enough books to read ever) CD’s, sweaters, and a tea maker (because everybody needs a pitcher of iced green tea in their fridge). I was delighted to find all that, as well as the new iPod. I had somewhat expected to have the rest of the list slighted in order to replace the iPod, which would have been fine, but to get the other somewhat insignificant items in addition to said iPod was very pleasant indeed.

I feel in some ways I cannot say thank you enough for what I got for Christmas, but in some ways I already did earlier this year. Having written both of my parents a letter for Mother’s and Father’s Day respectively, I in some ways cannot outdo the quality of that gift. Not that I am anything special (other than to my parents) but when you tell your parents how you really feel about them and thank them for everything you’ve done in raising you, there is almost nothing more left to say. In many ways I realized upon deciding to go to seminary this past August instead of taking off a semester, I knew I would not be coming back to live at home again, unless I can make it through 6-7 years of graduate school and still remain single, which is not impossible, but I have a slight feeling that is not in my cards. I mean I will play the hand I’m dealt, but just looking at the cards on the table and waiting for the river, I have my suspicions. Also, my analogy probably just failed at this point because I do not know my poker terms very well.

 

One last thought before moving on, and by moving on I mean I have reading to do. Because isn’t that what breaks are for? To do all that reading you don’t have time for during the semester, right? I’m staying fairly on track with my reading list, I should be up to 7 by the end of today, which puts me right on schedule to finish close to 14 before settling back into Dallas. It may seem aggressive, but in many ways, it was only towards the end of the semester that I really started to get focused and thereby more productive. Looking at it now though, to get into this entails a discussion of calling, references to one of the books, if not more, that I’ve read since break, and in light of that, I’m just going to make it another forthcoming entry. Stay tuned for details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* My car was violated for the first time while I was turning in a paper and my iPod, GPS, and other various items were stolen (aviators, DVD from Blockbuster). Luckily, my camera was not found in my backseat, and apparently my CD player is impervious to theft because it was still firmly imbedded in my dashboard. More an inconvenience and annoyance, it taught me the value of hiding my things more carefully, and made me less dependent on said iPod.

 

**My original flight was scheduled for 650am, so we arrived at the airport at 530am, only to find my Dad’s name print out on the boarding pass. Unfortunately, we have different first names, or it would be all good. So a few phone calls later, some fancy maneuvering, and I was rebooked for a later, more direct flight (the original one had a three and a half hour layover in Cincinnati). However, it was not until 115pm, and it was currently 7am, two days before Christmas, at the DFW airport. Surveying the options, I decided to hang around the airport, rather than going home to an apartment I had already bid farewell to and risk falling asleep…or worse. So in a sense, I had my layover first, then the lengthy flight. I got home at 8pm that evening.

 

***The longest was a flight back from Buenos Aires (Bway-nos Eyeres) which was delayed due to mechanical difficulties (not something all that comforting before a 9 hours international flight) So after arriving at the airport in the afternoon on a Saturday for international check in of a rather large group, and finally getting on the plane, we sat there for close to an hour, or maybe even two before actually leaving. This would have been no big deal, however, in Atlanta (of all places) we did not have two hours between flights to work with. So we arrived in Atlanta the next morning, only to miss our connection to JFK. If this had just been me, it probably could have been solved rather quickly; but it was not just me. It was me, and 40 other people who needed to be rebooked collectively on a flight to New York. Needless to say, we spent the day in the Atlanta airport. Several things came of this. First, I became immediately all too familiar with the Atlanta airport (which has continued to this day since that seems to be the only place I connect through back and forth from DFW); second, I had Starbucks for the first time because we got our meal vouchers (worth $7) after we had eaten lunch. So, a Venti Extra Mocha, Extra Chips Double Chocolate Chip Cream Frappuccino it was. Third, and last, I experienced sleeping in the airport, after waking up from my sugar induced slumber next to an almost empty Starbucks cup. Unfortunately for this footnote, that would not be the last time I slept on the floor before making it back. Not long after waking, it was time to board, and luckily, this flight made it off without any delays. We arrived in New York late afternoon/early evening, which put us right at the 24 point in transit. We then loaded up the buses for 4 hour drive back to the obscure Adirondack Mountains where the school was located. While I remember it being daylight on the drive back, it was also April, and so I think it was close to 7-8pm when we left. Fatigue comes at you fast at this point, so somewhere south of Albany on the absolute most inane part of I-87, I started drifting off to sleep. So did Lindsay next to me apparently, as I was told later of her sleeping on me (we’ve been friends ever since). However, when we got back to campus, I found myself face down in the floor of the bus, asleep there for who knows how long (well it could not have been more than two hours or so given my departure point into dreamland). So overall, a lot more excitement in this particular airport experience, which clocks in around 28 hours or so (margin of error +/-2hrs). Also, I left my camera on the bus, due to my grogginess in the unloading process. Oh, and my girlfriend at the time had broken up with me in the airport on our way out of New York, but that’s another story for another time and another place.

A picture’s worth…

December 24, 2007 — 1 Comment

Question: What is wrong with this picture?

 

Sunlight peeks gently through the swaying tree branches that stand bearing leaves of various autumnal shades. The air is not too cool, but exceedingly crisp; the breeze is slightly brisk but not yet constant enough to necessitate wearing any more than the standard black gym shorts, light hoodie with hood up, and of course, flip-flops. Forty thousand gallons of water circulate in a contained enclosure of stained and faded aquamarine tinted concrete like plaster. Walking up the steps towards the deck, I am greeted by two bronze elephants, who guard the south entrance to this monumental pool, their tusks brilliant and menacing despite their owner’s eighteen inches of vertically challenged height. They face one another perpendicular to the length of the pool, and tangent to the rising sun off to the far left end of the pool, which still lies in the shade; but in the elephants domain the morning sun reveals the clarity of water chemistry evident of a fairly high chlorine level. In the vividness of the 8am light, every leaf, no matter how miniscule is evident under my watchful eyes as the pole glides effortlessly through this rather infantile cerulean sea. The water as bitterly cold as it is, is enticing in the light cast on it, and the miniature waves cresting towards the stairs of elephantine origin make the water almost seem playful on this particular morning. Colors literally jump off the objects that they appear to inhabit; a spectacle that further deceives the eyes into believing that color is something more than light reflecting off matter in differing wavelengths. This it seems, it just an example of what it is like to see with new eyes, to behold something as banal as a swimming pool with a fresh perspective.

 

Answer: Nothing, unless it would be a problem that the aforementioned picture would have been taken four days before Christmas in north Dallas on a confusing day that fits more in early October than late December.

 

What about this one?

 

The city of Atlanta lies limitless on the ground below. In the total darkness that is a perfectly clear December evening, almost every visible light for at least ten miles in each direction is visible from 30,000 feet above ground. This Delta connecting flight, a veritable tic-tac with wings, complete with a crew of 3 and occupancy of 48, heads roughly due north towards both the north Georgia mountains and the enchanting Smokies of eastern Tennessee. Here however, the land is seemingly featureless, just a sea of lights glowing below the silver streak hurtling through the sky at some 400 miles an hour. Visibility at night is given a new meaning by the glowing full moon rising in the East. Hovering slightly above the trajectory of the plane, the moon reflects perfectly off the body of the jet onto the ground below, illuminating even the slightest body of water or other flat surface. One ceases to attempt to determine the nature of the angles or even the physics involved but merely stares out the window at the ground below as unknown pockets of water on the ground below become illuminated in a flash of silver as the plane passes over them. Can anyone else see this spectacle, or is it an immaculate measure of common grace to behold the wonder of creation reflecting glory back to the Creator from both the night sky and the Georgia ground below? Much like a thunderstorm at night, a full moon and a skyline take on additional magnificence courtesy of a different perspective.

 

Again, nothing is discernibly wrong on either account. The interesting point I suppose is that both of these descriptions are roughly 250 words in length. The real question is, could a picture have communicated more than a 250 word description? In a less than detailed account, was enough information given for you to “see” what I saw? If I had taken a picture in both instances, would ¼ of the picture been equivalent to my description?

 

What I am trying to say may be rather evident at this point, but the intent is to expose the lie that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Hopefully the above in some way illuminates the principle, that in no way does a picture ever outweigh the ability to describe and communicate using words. Words may fail at times to really communicate, but this rarely the fault of the words themselves, but merely the failure of the communicator to use them properly. Sometimes indeed emotion overwhelms one’s ability to articulate what is happening inside one’s heart and head. But the means are not to blame for the intensity of feeling experienced. A disjointed relationship between heart and head and can cause this rupture between the soul and synapse, but a journey into a new psychology of man is not necessarily the point of this particular essay.

 

Much of what is said here is spring boarding off of a book written by Os Guinness entitled “Fit Bodies, Fat Minds.” Commenting on the decline of pictures into images disconnected from the objects they portray, he quotes famed author Isaac Asimov who said “If someone tried to tell you a picture is worth a thousand words, don’t you believe them.” Atheist though he was, he is in no way immune to the perception of a valuable truth to everyone who is interested in thinking more coherently about the nature of society today and human interaction and understanding. In seems in some way now, preeminence is given to communication through images, as if somehow they can communicate anything objectively from image capturer to image beholder. To be sure, pictures and images can communicate something from one person to the next; however, the message is still understood through means of words, whatever the actual language may be.

 

Even further, images have no real ability to convey abstract ideas or feelings. The example Guinness uses is that of Hamlet’s soliloquy “To be or not to be” (which itself is yet another question). Developing his thoughts on the pros and cons of suicide takes him roughly 260 words. Again, is this equivalent to a ¼ of a picture of someone about to make a long incision slicing veins from forearm to wrist? Or even a postured thinker with shotgun in hand and mouth ajar? Or young girl, with pensive, anguished face and white-capped orange bottle in one hand, holding a slender bottle with alcohol of choice in the other?

 

Could the passion that two young lovers feel on the eve of consummation be captured with anything other than words? Could the love they still feel fifty years later to the day be any less necessary to declare verbally? Could the sickness of a young romantic being jilted by the focus of his desire find any other truer outlet than in words? Could the uncertainty of the admired be expressed to the pursuant in an image, detailed and creative though it may be?

 

Although in some sense it is improper to make points by means of questioning the reader, for dramatic effect at least it can be a useful literary device in an essay of this nature, though not so much in a term paper or a thesis. In case you are not completely tracking with the flow of thought, the seemingly obvious answer to all the above questions in my mind is “no.” While this is my position in writing this, hopefully somewhat of a fruitful dialogue may open up, but if nothing else, I have endeavored to underscore the importance of words and their thoughtful use in human communication, specifically as it comes to emotions and abstract thought. Sometimes it is better to see a picture, or an image of something, especially for visually oriented people. However, it should not be thought that the richness of well used words can be drowned out by a carefully crafted and captured image. The power of and necessity of the written word is slowly fading in the rise of handicapped thinking permeating the modern world. In order to be able to articulate oneself clearly, and present beliefs and convictions accurately, one must foster the ability to use words to their full potential, written or orally. It should never be said, “those are only words…” but should be understood that those are words, and they have a meaning and an ability to communicate that is incalculable in value.

 

Hopefully this has not been too “wordy” or worse pretentiously pedantic. This essay has been brewing, as it were, for several days now, and in the comfy chair here at Starbucks after a Christmas Eve open seemed the best time to finally put pen to page, or more accurately finger to key. “The pen is mightier than the sword,” a rather true statement of reality in many cases. However, in case of hand to hand combat, I would in that case defer to the sword. But for matters of the heart, as well as the mind, the pen is the vehicle that carries the impact the farthest, from the closeness of any one soul to God, or the vast distance of one soul to another. Words it seems, are the wisest choice to narrow the gap.

 

In the beginning was the Word…

 

In Him was life, and this life was the light of mankind…

 

Now this Word became flesh and took up residence among us…

 

This it seems was what Christmas is really all about, I hope all who read this have a very merry one indeed.

I should get some sleep…

November 13, 2007 — 3 Comments

Update time…

I was on the way home from work (not from Starbucks, more on that below) and almost started to rock out to the new Jimmy Eat World (Chase This Light), which is worth picking up if you haven’t already; it is rather infectious. But anyway, just as I was about to scroll down to the “J” section on the trusty old iPod (who I briefly named Poddy, before realizing that that was dumb, and decided to continue to refer to him as simply “my iPod”) when I realized what day it was. Of course! It’s Monday, so without hesitation, I just kept going to the “L” section and did the drive home from Addison the right way; jamming to Living Sacrifice’s rather inventive The Hammering Process;very November, and very metal.

After picking up some Chipotle off Lover’s Lane, thus completing the Metal/Mexican Monday di-unity in all its radiant splendor, I headed home rather brain dead after having been up since 340ish and working in one capacity or another. Just to make sure the brain activity screeched to a halt, I sat down to finish up the reading in Charles Ryrie’s Dispensationalism while listening to Norma Jean’s O God the Aftermath (to ensure I couldn’t hear myself thinking through the use of certain hermeneutical methods in dispensational theology versus the usage in covenental theology as well implications regarding the Sermon on the Mount and its relevance more to the Tribulation period, rather than the current dispensation of grace, which is essentially the parenthesis between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel)

Just in case there was any synaptic activity after this was completed (circa 730 pm cst) I figured I would blog about the whole ordeal in rather esoteric terminology indicative of someone with either a pompous view of their own intelligence, or a home schooler that had a few too many vocabulary drills in grade school and may use the rather verbose approach as means of catharsis after a long day, ambitious to have a more copacetic than execrable ending to the day.

At this point you may have questions, I’m sure not the least of which may be “why am I reading this?” Others may include:

  • Is there anywhere worth working besides Starbucks?
  • Where is Addison?
  • Who names their iPod?
  • For that matter, who listens to Living Sacrifice?
  • How is a record classified as “very November?”
  • Is di-unity even a word?
  • Isn’t Dispensationalism just a tool of Satan to cut up the Bible and divide the church?
  • Did Charles Ryrie die recently?
  • “Weeks” of Daniel?

Well, I’m glad you asked (or that I personified you and through literary device asked myself the hard hitting questions). Here are the answers in order:

  • Yes there is, and given the time of my waking this morning, it seemed appropriate to find a new job, which I did, cleaning pools (hey, it pays the same, and is more flexible and less stressful).
  • Just north of central Dallas.
  • People who are not thinking straight, as I was at the time of said naming.
  • A very select, enlightened few, mostly male, mostly musicians, and able to tolerate screaming where melodic vocals would otherwise be used.
  • A record is classified based on which season/month it is best listened to in (Abby if you read this, I should get a bonus for ending a sentence with two prepositions). For instance, 311 is very August. Most Christmas music is very Decemberish (not to be confused with Decemberists).
  • No its not, but it does emphasize the separate but oneness of metal music and mexican food, on Monday no less.
  • No…more on this in a later blog. This is usually an attack of someone with less than literal hermeneutics, or one made from just plain ignorance of dispensationalism as properly expounded upon by Ryrie.
  • No, I actually saw him in the locker room at Baylor the other day, very much alive, and very much not fully clothed. I wanted to introduce myself and ask him if he knew there was library named after him, but then it might be better to meet some other time, when we were both more properly attired, and when I would have my MacArthur study Bible for him to sign.
  • Well, that is a blog in and of itself. It you didn’t go to Word or Life and thus have a minor in eschatalogy/dispensationalism (actually more of a double minor when you count all the classes on the charismatic movement) you are really missing out. Whenever I’m done with my dispensational reading, I’ll throw my thoughts on the matter out there and hopefully it will spark an argument or two. Because sometimes that’s just the best way to learn…

Anyway, wrapping up, I’m in the process of changing jobs, the semester is slowly winding down, we’re in a parenthesis of our own with our two week break of sorts, and not much else is really all that new. I have more to say on the heart, more to say on dispensationalism, and maybe even something to say about the nature of the soul. More coherent thoughts later…

The Heart of the Matter

October 30, 2007 — 5 Comments

Just in case anyone was still in suspense, Metal/Mexican Monday was re-instituted; actually effective last week, which although I failed to mention here, was quite an amazingly refreshing day despite the rain (or maybe it was due to the rain and cold).

Anyway, if you are to new to this, next Monday just remember to eat something Mexican (not a Mexican) and listen to something metal (preferably not from the late 80’s; also nu-metal does not count). I would recommend Chipotle juxtaposed against some August Burns Red, but again, you can do whatever you see fit.

Moving on to something a little more relevant (although metal is still relevant) I have been doing a lot of thinking a lately, maybe even a lot for me.  I’ve been somewhat assimilating a lot of the reading that I have done over the last several months (and since I first started studying theology four years ago) and have been thinking about synthesizing a lot of it into something that could become a thesis. Ideally, it should be something highly theoretical in nature, but that is laden with numerous practical implications. All this thinking has gradually been leading into one direction.

To preface what follows, when I was first studying psychology (circa summer 2006) I found little satisfaction with many of the personality theories I read about and determined that one day I would write my own, but with an explanation of man that was firmly grounded in the Bible. This is phase one.

Phase two involves my readings in Arthur Custance, who is an anthropologist by degree (and in addition to his doctorate in that, he also had an M.A. in Oriental Languages, specifically Hebrew and Greek) but who had built his theology by reading the Bible through 8 times in one winter (yes, you read correctly, that’s 8 times in one long Canadian winter, how many of us have even read the Bible straight through 8 times period?) Anyway, long story short, the philosophical, scientific, theological writings he has produced in his 9 volume doorway papers series are some of the most fascinating thoughts I have ever read concerning theology. He is particularly interested in the biological ramifications of many of the stories in the Bible we give little thought to, particularly the fall of man (only genes can be inherited from one generation to the next, so in order to effectively inherit a sin nature from Adam, it has to be passed on genetically)  and the virgin birth (a woman in theory can conceive on her own, but would necessarily be a female child; for a male child to be born in that way is nothing short of miraculous, but it was also absolutely necessary for Christ in order that he avoid inheriting that genetic abnormality known as a sin nature, which comes from the man’s corrupted seed) just to give two examples that become inexorably linked when one considers the biology.  The point of phase two being that my thinking on theological topics after receiving a firm basis in two years at Word of Life was suddenly being stretched in different directions for a more profound understanding of what man is, what he has become, who God is, and what He has done for man to make provision for his redemption and restoration of the fellowship he was created for in the first place.

Phrase three then necessarily becomes synthesis of previous gleanings into a cohesive whole. I suppose this means I need to write my own multi-volume systematic theology, but rather than jump straight to that, I should probably focus on a more attainable goal in the next couple of years with the expectation that it would become part of a much larger body of writing in the future.

This is where you come in.

Given the background of my thought development, one thing that caught my attention was the heart. We are aware that our usage of the word in English can mean both the organ that pumps blood throughout our body, as well as a reference to our inner selves, which is also the case we find in Greek. What I am wondering is just how much of an overlap there is in the term. That is, could many of the Bible’s teachings referring to the heart be taken both in a figurative way that we usually take it in, but also in a non-figurative physiological way?

For example, Proverbs 12:25 states:

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.

Now the interesting thing about this is that we are tempted to make heart simply stand for the spirit of man, which is what it may very well mean. However, so far as we know, the spirit is not localized in a specific part of the body (which I may debate against later) however the heart obviously is. It would be hard for anxiety to be stored in your spirit, but it could be stored in your heart physiologically speaking and if so would have certain ramifications. That in fact, is what medical science is finding (see Suls J; Bunde J (2005). Anger, anxiety, and depression as risk factors for cardiovascular disease: The problems and implications of overlapping affective dispositions. Psychological Bulletin. 131(2), 260-300, as well as Jiang W, Krishnan RR, & O’Connor CM. (2002). Depression and heart disease: evidence of a link, and its therapeutic implications. CNS Drugs, 16 (2), 111-127) namely that anxiety when internalized, localizes in the heart physically and not only then causes heart disease, but also then leads to depression in the individual who is allowing negative emotions to fester.

The verse, and my subsequent research paper on depression was the first link in a chain of studies concerning the psychology of man, as well as the cardiology of man and how that might have spiritual implications.

My question to you is, what do you think of all this?

  • Is it possible that many of the passages in the Bible concerning the heart could have physiological implications?
  • Could that be where your spirit is localized within your body?
  • If your spirit is localized in your heart, would that help explain the sudden changes in individual’s personalities after heart transplants? (More on that next time)
  • It is possible for the heart to rupture from extreme sadness or extreme joy, when this happens, if one were to be say, pierced in the side, blood and water would inevitably flow out, could it be that Jesus himself died of a broken heart over our sin? (Granted He did give up His own spirit, but he could have done so after it had lost the part of the body it was localized in)
  • When we are saved could there be a little more to the idea of Jesus coming into our heart? That is, could our physical body qualitatively change just slightly upon salvation by the implantation of something new in our heart? (In a sense that you become a new creation by virtue of a change in the fundamental part of your body that stores your spirit?

These are just a few questions, some I have an answer for, others I am still researching and prayerful considering, but at any rate, I would appreciate outside thoughts and concerns as I work towards a synthesis and better understanding of these ideas.