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.

The Soundtrack

October 28, 2007 — 1 Comment

There’s a great scene in High Fidelity where John Cusack has records strewn all over the floor of his apartment. Its obvious he is organizing them, but when asked how by his friend, he reveals that he is organizing them autobiographically.

Apparently, I’m not the only one that does this, but I seem to group my CD collection into discographies related to certain times of year and certain periods in my recent history. So in a sense, there is a mini-soundtrack to roughly each semester that I was in college and even throughout most of high school.

In that vein, it would seem good for everybody involved to reveal just what the soundtrack is for this autumn, simply because you need to know what to be listening to in order to fully enjoy your autumn.

So anyway, here’s the current discography:

  1. “Chase This Light” Jimmy Eat World
  2. “Colors” Between the Buried and Me
  3. “Autumn of the Seraphs” Pinback
  4. “Lost Ocean” Lost Ocean
  5. “Brother, Sister” mewithoutYou
  6. “Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV Vol. 1 & 2” Coheed and Cambria
  7. “Vheissu” Thrice
  8. “Make Sure They See My Face” Kenna
  9. “Sirens” It Dies Today
  10. “The Alchemy Index Vol. 1& 2” Thrice
  11. “As Daylight Dies” Killswitch Engage
  12. “Rockin the Suburbs” Ben Folds
  13. “Phantoms” Acceptance
  14. “Come Now Sleep” As Cities Burn
  15. “Singularity” Mae
  16. “Menos El Oso” Minus the Bear
  17. “I’m Only a Man” Emery
  18. “Almost Here” The Academy Is…
  19. “Doppleganger” Fall of Troy
  20. “Mute Math” Mute Math

Well there you go, hopefully that helps your choices next trip to Best Buy, or next perusal of amazom.com  Its way past bedtime, ideally the next post will have a little more thought provoking substance. Or maybe that’s wishful thinking, we’ll see.

The List(s)

October 21, 2007 — Leave a comment

Its been a while (since I’ve listened Staind), but I think its time for another top ten list.

These used to be rather frequent, and it is time again for them to emerge to the forefront.

Bullet point blogs used to also be in vogue, maybe I’ll bring those back someday.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about a list like this almost every time I finish working out, so we may as well start the list with that, so here in no particular order is my current top ten things:

1.    The feeling of slight uncoordination and general weakness after a good, intense workout; you know, the kind where you are almost certain you will be sore the next morning when you stumble out of bed at 4am and try to empty your tank in the dark, hoping nothing is obstructing the pathway to the porcelain bowl oh so close to where you sleep at night.

2.     Slightly similar, but also unrelated, the feeling of hunger around 6pm after not eating too many calories throughout a long day of classes and work.

3.     The smell of the air on a fresh fall morning. This one is actually the simplest to describe.

4.    The absence of sound at 4am and the feeling of solitude from the top of the Marquis parking garage overlooking the Dallas skyline, magnified by the intensity of God’s presence in that moment.

5.    The beautiful simplicity of mewithoutYou’s “Brother, Sister” amplified through a car stereo, mixed with the sounds of traffic on I-20 wafting through my open windows as you drive away from Arlington mid morning on a day off.

6.    The serenity of reading Herodotus on the benches adjacent Davidson and Chafer Chapel in between Spiritual Life and Intro to Theo on a slightly breezy, perfectly clear autumn afternoon.

7.    The energizing effect of studying Horrell’s Theology notes late at night set to the sound of Between the Buried and Me’s newest magnum opus “Colors” (Note: this is not compatible with items 3 & 4, however it pairs perfectly the night before item 5, please use caution if re-enacting)

8.    The inspiration from watching the sunset behind the Dallas skyline on a crisp early evening with just enough clouds to reflect the sun’s dying rays of light before dusk encompasses the area and the air becomes pleasantly cool enough for the donning of a hoodie.

9.    The seeds of friendship, sown in the fall semester of the first year of many more to come at a new school, that with careful time and attention (and a well-discerned amount of water) could bloom into life long bonds and partnerships in future endeavors in this life and the next.

10.    The reviving effect of putting one’s feelings to music in the solitude of one’s dwelling, with other soul’s unaware of what you are emoting, but knowing One can hear your spirit put to sound.

So there you go, that the current list. On this list at least you could try it out for yourself, most of it is completely free to experience, but you will need to following in order to fully experience the list:

  • An apartment, or dorm room
  • Access to a gym, or other workout facility (Word of Life even has the semblance of a gym)
  • Alarm clock (in order to wake up at 4, or at this point 5 could work too)
  • A copy of mewithoutYou’s “Brother, Sister” (can substitute “Catch for Us the Foxes” or Mae’s “Everglow” or “Singularity”)
  • A car (with a stereo, and usable windows)
  • A copy of Herodotus’ Histories, or if you prefer a more readable history, Susan Wise Bauer’s History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome
  • Access to the Dallas Theological Seminary campus (for extended stay would require ID, which only comes with student status, which can get pricey, maybe substitute other suitable outdoor area, not unlike the Schroon Lake facility operated by Word of Life, or their lesser known Hudson, Florida campus)
  • A copy of J. Scott Horrell’s Theology notes (can substitute Chuck Sheide’s notes, or maybe even Ingersoll’s Bible Survey notes, but Horrell seems to work best)
  • A copy of Between the Buried and Me’s “Colors” (could substitute Opeth’s “Ghost Reveries,” but would need to move the time to late afternoon and relocate to outside, if staying in and at night for a more ear friendly listening substitute Minus the Bear’s “Menos El Oso”)
  • A well worn hoodie (or hooded sweatshirt, zip up or pullover)
  • An assortment of people you know somewhat, but haven’t quite progressed to that stage of “close friends” yet.
  • Access to assorted musical instruments
  • Ability to play said instruments
  • Aspirations to create a perfectly alliterated list for no real reason whatsoever

So I should probably get back to reading, but hopefully the above gives you a rather vivid picture of what I’ve been enjoying doing recently. Its helpful for me at least to put thoughts into words (as opposed to putting thoughts into zip locks bags which helps no one) and also reminds of me what all I have to be thankful for and am able to enjoy by God’s grace on a daily basis.

Momentary Digression

October 17, 2007 — 5 Comments

Autumn is finally setting in, or at least I hope it is. By Autumn of course, it just means the highs hover around 80ish as opposed to 90ish, but the air is nicer and we actually had some much needed rain, as well as a couple of nice cloudy days (something I would not usually crave, but after so many “nice” summer days, I could go for a week or two of overcast, misty, rainy days).

One thing that usually tags along with autumn -and this is key- squirrels.

Now, I have no idea how you feel about squirrels, or what you might think of a blog about squirrels, but the only I have to find out is to just throw this out there (and you can send it right on back if you like).

So…yes, squirrels. I’m not exactly sure why, but I feel the need to chase squirrels when the opportunity presents itself, which now just happens to be the campus of an esteemed school of higher learning. Its similar to the way I feel compelled to chase armadillos that I would see around the Word of Life Florida campus, with the only difference being I haven’t caught a squirrel yet (I let the armadillo go in case you were concerned, no harm done). At any rate, maybe its just my natural instincts kicking in and the squirrel would make a nice lean dinner. Probably not, but other excuses are not coming, so I’ll stick with that one.

The key with squirrel chasing is to find out which tree the particular squirrel is calling home at that time. He won’t venture too far from there, and its also where he will immediately run when he feels threatened. The strategy then is to subtly figure out which tree he is likely to dart towards, and then equally subtly, block his path.  Now this is in no way cruel, its more a practical joke on the squirrel. Squirrels mind you are not the most intelligent of rodents, its a little known fact that they inadvertently plant several million acres of forests each year from their misplaced acorns/nuts. So needless to say, the squirrel is more confused than anything not so much scared.

Anyway, this usually provides for amusing interactions with nature from time to time, although maybe the squirrels don’t find it so amusing, but again, they don’t seem to have the best memory. So far, no real harm has befallen them, except for that one that I ran over and then gave to someone as a birthday present (I’m from Tennessee, what did you expect?) But that’s the beginning of a whole different blog for a much different time. Probably one titled “Things I Did at Camp that Generally People Found Amusing.” But that’s not the title of this blog, so I’ll go ahead and stop here and start paying attention to the class I’m watching.

Starving for Autumn

October 8, 2007 — Leave a comment

It somewhat defeats the purpose of recreating a blog if one never writes in it.

That was the best segue I could offer, this blog might be quite random, but those are usually the good ones once I am done having my way with them.

Anyway, life has been, well, good. It can be mundane at times, there is not the level of excitement that seemed to pervade my first year at Word of Life, but again, Steven was a catalyst for most of that, and he is still in Tennessee (at least until Wednesday when he comes down here to visit). At present though, if there is any excitement, it is usually up to me and Wendall to compose, and while he is usually willing, I am usually preoccupied with either a paper, a project, some independent research, or occasionally something related to school (thought I was going a different direction with that one didn’t you?) It all comes down to life management, something I am endeavoring to perfect from week to week. It’s not entirely vital at this point given my current workload, but it will be eventually, and I’m sure a nice, smoothly flowing schedule will be quite conducive for the later years of seminary life.

My only complaint at this point is the lack of seasonal fluctuation. I mean I don’t ask for much, but c’mon Autumn, where are you? I mean, I’ve been leaving you messages or your machine since late August, hoping you’d be here by at least your birthday, but alas, September 21st came and went. Anyway, if you happen to read my blog (which you should) and see how much I miss our times together, maybe you’ll hurry up and head down here to Dallas. I realize the rest of the country for the most part hasn’t been graced with your presence yet either, but they can wait.

This may be an appropriate time for a slight liver update (there really is no segue for that, much less a better time to insert it into to a narrative like this). Eating less and eating better is paying off, although I have had Jack in the Box two nights in a row. Last night out of necessity, tonight because it was just so good last night. Hopefully all the vegetables from earlier and the scoop of Perfect Food Super Green Formula will balance it out (or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part, but I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough). Eating less and managing food better does have its advantages, such as not wondering what to do for last minute meals, and also not having that nasty feeling after eating 30 wings from Buffalo Wild Wings just because they were only $0.40 (however, eating only 24 wings doesn’t have that same impact, so its usually a safer bet). Any way, moral of the story, eating better leads to better time management, better sense of well-being, and clearer thought processes. Also, I’m finding I enjoy the prolonging of the feeling of hunger as it is all the more satisfying to finally eat.

Week 3 of no coffee started today with little fanfare.

As far as closing thoughts go, I’m not sure there is much else to say, I have a few unfinished thoughts swimming around in the reservoir of my mind, which should keep them busy for a few more weeks before they find whatever else it is they are looking for and then force there way out into the open sunlight after being couped up so long. Until then, I’ll probably be reading if you need me, don’t hesitate to call.

Toxic Relief*

September 27, 2007 — 1 Comment

I remarked on the phone the other day how my life tends to be rather ironic; usually in a comedic sense, which I suppose is the point of irony. It’s kind of like God’s way of making sure you don’t take everything too seriously, or at least so that you don’t put to much faith in your ability to work out the details of your life. So far this sounds rather theological in nature, but before going to far down that road before bedtime, let’s go back to the ironies in my life.

Case in point, I just posted a blog under this one with a lovely picture of a quad espresso over ice in a tall cup. Sometimes I get 6 shots in a grande, sometimes I get an iced 6 shot venti caramel macchiato, irrelevant I know, but since I moved to Dallas my coffee consumption increased from the usual drink in the morning to that plus 16 or so ounces of black coffee goodness in the afternoon to make it through class.  Running the numbers I was looking at roughly 750 mg of caffeine on an average day (a shot is 75mg, black coffee is 20 mg an ounce). While this should work in my favor, it really was not in any way, and to make matters worse, I was getting rather angry at times, rather easily, usually in traffic since that is all Dallas is come 5pm or so. Coupled with a general lack of focus, poor skin tone, a bad taste in the mouth (which had been around since the summer)  and slightly grey circles under the eyes, there could only be one conclusion.

About this point, you are probably wondering where the irony ran off to, so here it is, while I am a shift supervisor at Starbucks and literally immersed in coffee every time I work (sometimes I like to check the coffee on my bare hands to ensure freshness, some call it clumsiness, I call it quality control) I decided to give it up for an undetermined amount of time. That’s right, tenured Starbucks employee, deciding to stop drinking coffee. Hopefully that satisfies your appetite for irony.

Now about this point, being the good reader that you are, you are probably wondering what the one conclusion from earlier was, or is to remain in the present tense. All the aforementioned signs point to one thing (hopefully just one thing) – Liver toxicity. That’s right, I’ve been working my liver overtime, and its gotten a bit backed up. Rather than delve into all the intricacies of liver function and management, I’ll just note that the liver like it when you don’t overeat and when you do not eat many processed foods, two things I have failed to make accommodations for lately. Also, like alcohol, coffee (especially in nate-sized portions) puts an unnecessary burden on the liver. If my discourse on the liver’s methods has peaked your interests, check out a book by the same title as this blog and find out more.

In light of the coffee fast, everything has remarkably improved. I actually have more energy now from switching to green-tea lattes, mate lattes, the occasional chai, and a nice cup of China Green Tips (usually with an extra bag of Refresh) , not all in one day mind you. and also coupled with taking more vitamins and eating more vegetables (or at least drinking them). Focus has improved, temper has mellowed out (not that anyone really knew I was getting angry) and overall ability to function is improving.

Which is really the whole point of staying healthy, right? I mean, its not really possible to add days to life, but it very possible to add life to my days. By improving my health, I am able to more effectively function, and thus able to be more actively used in ministry. The more time I am not sick, the more time I have to do other more important things. Being healthy, eating natural foods and the like, is not really the end, its more of a means to an end, that end being optimal physical condition so that one can function to their fullest potential.

Its a parallel track to working out. No one goes to work out so they can boast later about how well they can do a lat-pulldown, or how perfect their biceps curl form is (ok, maybe some people do, but why?). No, you go and workout to get a better body, working out is the process, the refined physique is the end result. Nothing could be more foolish than to commit hours to the gym, not with the purpose of building a better body, but simply of performing the perfect set.

In Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard makes a similar analogy regarding the spiritual disciplines and that how they are not necessarily the end goal (there’s no sense in boasting how well you can sit in silence, or how good you are at fasting, although some do) but the means by which the body is brought into submission to God for the purpose of aligning our whole selves to Him. There is far more to it than that, but read the book for yourself, don’t let me condense it and water it down for you.

I was going to continue the argument and transfer it to school, but due to lateness, I’m just going to suspend dialogue instead. Maybe you can make the transfer on your own, what really is the end result of school? Is it a 4.0? Is it some of the things that we usually focus so much of our attention on during our college years, or is it really something else entirely?

Someone else can ponder these, for now, I’m going to work my way to bed and try to squeeze in those 6 hours of sleep before 4am rolls around again.

*originally a book by Don Colbert

Sometimes you get distracted when you set aside time in the mornings to go read, and this happens

There’s something quite powerful about getting up early in the morning and just being alone in solitude. Especially if you happen to live in a large city, and also happen to have access to a parking garage roof that semi overlooks the skyline. It can do wonders for your soul to simply be awake early enough for there to be silence as you observe everything surrounding you and in silence converse with an all powerful all knowing God. Or munch on Kashi cereal. Or actually, you really can do both, as sometimes you might need to multi-task if you also have to be at work at 445am. Breakfast is a must, but nourishing the soul is even more important, so I try to make time for both. Tonight is no exception, and since I have the wonderful privilege of opening tomorrow morning, I should probably go to bed. To help visualize this rooftop experience, here’s what it looks like in the daytime, or more accurately, dusktime:

Not the best depiction, but you get the idea.

More later. Pictures and words. Together.