Sunday, December 14, 2008


It's snowing here in Washington. As I left for work the flakes had started coming down. The kids caught a glimpse of the shallow white ground cover as I was headed out the door and yelled "It's Christmas!!!, can we open our presents?!?" I told them their education had been neglected and that it wasn't christmas every time it snowed, and Brandy explained that Josiah had asked before "when is christmas?" and she had told him that it was christmas when it snowed, as she hadn't expected to see snow anytime soon. So I smilingly told her she's been miseducating our children and we laughed about it as she had the kids come look out the door at the snow falling as I headed for the car.
We'd watched the first half of "Amelie" before I left, as that was all I had time for. It's very funny so far, and like all french films I've seen it's also very existential.
The definition of existentialism (according to that wonderful cauldron of common knowledge which is wikipedia) is "the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject – not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual. In existentialism, the individual's starting point is characterized by what has been called "the existential attitude," or a sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world."
At first I would think that existentialism would be totally Christian thinking, but it's really not. There's a huge existential element in christianity, on the personal level: we're addressed by God and Jesus as feeling, acting humans, and God Himself seems to be the same. Overall something very hard to put in a graph or a diagram. But at the same time we're given a stability that pure existentialists don't have, since we have things that never change (The promises of God), and we know some basic answers for basic questions like "Who am I, where did I come from, where am I going" but between all that there's still a huge realm of unknowns that to us seem absurd/meaningless except in the light that they're part of the divine plan somehow.
Speaking of absurdity, I've been feeling somewhat out of touch with reality lately. I think in part because I'm working nights, and haven't gotten out of the house in fully conscious mode in a while. Also I think it's the isolation; as I have no believing friends (the kind of friends I can hang out with I mean, I acquaintances galore, but I miss having friends, and I miss my friends back in MN.) - Except, of course, Brandy, who I am grateful for, but without babysitters our times together have been between the hours of 10pm-3am, not the best time for hanging out. Lord willing we've got some potential babysitters lined up for the near future (some girls from church). Then again, all my ethereal-ness could just be brain chemistry gone awry, in which case this too shall pass soon enough.
Meeting w/ a faculty member from SPU Monday morning, he read my letters to the editor and has a group of people he meets with who want to change the course of SPU in a somewhat more scriptural direction. I pray that goes well, and I pray it's not political.
My role in youth group is interesting... I haven't seen or talked to any of the guys for about three weeks for more than a few seconds, because Sun. grp has been cancelled for the past three weeks (well, one of the weeks there was a guest speaker) and with my kids running underfoot it's impossible to have any real conversation after service. We end up going to the church coffeeshop and sitting down to watch them for half an hour or so til we go home. So my plan of getting to know the guys @ Youth Group has thus far flopped.
On the upside I'm going to be off work for over a week during Christmas Break, that's going to be very nice. We're planning on going down to Centralia to visit w/ the relatives down there. We'll also most likely go up to Nate and Marielle's at some point then too.
Read "The Spiritual Brain"-a book on non-materialistic view of the brain/mind connection which confirmed my earlier theories, but it was written by a neurosurgeon of the Teilhard De Chardin variety. (kinda cosmically new agey). Also read "Napoleon of Notting Hill", which although it has its moments isn't as good as the other Chesterton I've read. Finished Isaiah and am on Jeremiah 11, listened to "Hood" by Stephen Lawhead and am now listening to CH Spurgeon's autobiography on MP3. And reading through A.E. Wilder-Smith's Autobiography as well. Plus, if anyone feels like passing it along to Paul back in St. Cloud, the puritan devotional he gave me had been a constant encouragement.
Well, I think that's it for now.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

To make an edifice alive

I feel like I should say something to you about the things you should believe
but my words would all be floating bricks with nothing underneath
always falling down in piles and I cannot build you up
left with a heap of lettered blocks that say all I've not been living
and I know I know deep down I don't have what I'd be giving
I've would be writing verbal checks with the debts up to my neck
He would be formed, revealed in me
but we're industrial now, and birth's slow going
would I chop up a tree that's growing
and call the branches fruit?
then why would I preach all the things I've never been
and why would I hold to your eyes all the things I've never seen?
I need the fountain found again
that pours foundations made of life
let him be all he is in me
and let him cut me like a knife
remove the things that shouldn't be
and cause the good to grow
til I'm again a living tree
who lives the good he knows

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I watched "Expelled" some time last week by myself at the School, and then ordered it on Netflix so that Brandy & I could watch it together. When it arrived, I remembered that for the past two or three weeks, our computer hasn't been reading DVDs. But in the spirit of persistance I put it in anyway, and the laptop spit it out, and I put it in again, and again it was regurgitated, and another ten or more times, then I went into the bedroom to the other computer and tried it in that one, and to my surprise that one wouldn't take it either! SO I washed it off and cleaned it, and tried a handful of other times, then handed it off to Brandy and left the room to let off some steam. I asked God what was up with this-especially as it's something I figured he'd approve of us watching, and then he birthed the realisation in me that I hadn't really consulted him at all so far-I'd been trusting in the law of averages. So I went outside where Brandy had put it in the laptop for the fifth time or so since I'd left, and grabbed her hand and said we should pray. So I prayed and asked God to make it work, seeing as this is probably the first really edifying thing we've watched in a while, and asked him to make sure it was an edifying watch. As we said our "Amen", the DVD 'took' and the menu screen came up. After a short and heartfelt prayer of thanks, we watched the movie (which, by the way, was excellent). Then we had a good long conversation springboarded off of the topics touched on in "Expelled", and I decided that this was the first time in a while I'd prayed for something supernatural with the expectation that it would happen. Brandy objected that she does and has fairly recently prayed in such a way, and I said that I do too, if it counts prayers for the universe to be rearranged to avoid inconveniencing us (for our car to run, for us to get more money, for our health to be good) But when was the last time we'd prayed for God to work a miracle that would be to His Glory for the purposes of His will being obeyed and accomplished?

As a result of that conversation I've realised that prayers for cars to start and money to appear can be pure superstition, on the level with rubbing a lucky rabbit's foot, as opposed to prayers which seek the will of God to be supernaturally worked out with our cooperation. One starts from the nature of Christ - For God's will and Glory, and the other starts from our desire to be comfortable - loving our life here in the world. I definitely think that God's will and glory can result in our comfort, but I don't think that the comfort should come first, and I think I've been relegating the power of God to disaster relief lately.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

This is upside-down, you'll have to read it last message first for it to make any sense, but It's a conversation I had with an intelligent guy in the Youth grp. @ church.

No, I don't think anyone is completely un-biased, not even us; but I think it's possible for someone to be biased towards the Truth (but the problem is, a man would have to either discover the truth first in order to be biased towards it-an impossibility-or, if Truth happened to be a Person, then Truth would have to reveal it/Himself to that man...Sound familiar?) An easier way to talk about it would be to say that it's impossible as a human to be completely objective. We're all subjective because we've all got a point of view, we're each limited to OUR five senses, OUR reasoning. In order to have full objective knowledge of ANYTHING, you'd have to have full objective knowledge of EVERYTHING (since everything is interrelated) i.e., Omniscience. And no one has any hope of that kind of knowledge unless they happened to be an infinite, eternal, transcendent Being (again, does that sound familiar?)As Madeleine L'Engle said: "you have a point of view, I have a point of view, but God has VIEW"I do believe that the scientific method (hypothesis, repeated empirical testing, observation, theory) is a pretty reliable method for discovering things about the observable universe - but a lot of things called science aren't strictly "science", they're heavy on storytelling and light on scientific method (disciplines like evolution, psychology, sociology, history etc...). As long as we consciously discern the difference between what has really been observed and what is story-being-sold-as-truth we're pretty safe, but even then it's still not an infallible method because it relies on fallible subjective human observation.As to the reason WHY it's generally reliable? Materialists don't have an answer, all they can do is point to technology or chemistry (the "hard" sciences) as their poster children and say, "see? it works!" But WHY it works, how the scientist knows that he knows what he knows? - they don't have an answer. But as a Christian I do. A reasonable God created a reasonable universe that operates on reasonable principles, and he created us in his image with the faculties of reason and perception (not total, but sufficient and real) so that we can really discover things about the creation we're a part of. Which is why it's widely recognized that the Christian philosophical position was historically a midwife of sorts to science, because the original scientists all believed that they lived in a real, reasonable universe created by a reasonable God and could therefore be tested and observed.
Materialistic "Science" lacks humility (humility=choosing to "know thyself") and so it falls. Of course, We as Christians can get ugly and ridiculous too if we aren't scripturally humble, if we don't recognize our ignorance and limitations and give our answers with the "Gentleness and respect" we're commanded to.It's been really enjoyable to have the chance to talk with you about these questions, I'm just glad that someone else is asking them! These are important questions for me too and I've spent a lot of time thinking praying and reading about these things - I appreciate that you're taking the time to talk/type with me too.
Peace in Jesus,

----------------- Original Message -----------------
From: T.Date: Nov 6, 2008 5:47 PMAlright, so what i am getting out of this, is what i have been thinking about over the past couple of days. Bais is all over the place. When they (evolutionist) find evidence or do experiments, they already really know what they are looking for, so they just make it fit. just like you said, they ask, "how it fits in the tree" not, "is there even a tree" (evolutionary tree). So my big question is, is science even creditable as it is, because everyone has a bias toward something. For example, if me and you were to conduct the same experiments or find the same things that the evolutionist do, then we would come to two completely diffrent conclusions. Is it possible to not be bias? Thanks for talking this out with me. It has really made me think. Also, you have given me the most logically answer i have heard. I appreciate you talking to me.

----------------- Original Message -----------------
From: JudahDate: Nov 6, 2008 1:33 AM
Hmmm, lets try this again, except it'll only be about half as long 'cause I'm annoyed that Myspace erased the 1st draft.But basically, yes, I think that the story of evolution doesn't account for what we, as human beings, have experienced about ourselves for all of recorded history-or what we experience about ourselves in the present as individuals.The word "worldview" is getting thrown around a lot lately, some people call it "metanarrative", "grand narrative", or "controlling story" - but that's really what it all comes down to when we talk about interpreting evidence. The dominant grand narrative of our day (at least in academic circles) is reductionist materialistic Darwinism. So whenever some paleontologist digs up an australopithecine skull, the first question he asks is "where does this fit in the evolutionary tree?" He never stops to question the existence of the tree in the first place because it's the establishment story. Same with any discovery of a biological function, their first question is "how does this fit into the evolutionary process?" - Either way they by reflex are finding something that exists (a skull, a genetic mutation,) and presuming that it must fit somewhere within the story, it's just a matter of where (ever heard of "the scientific community"? it really is a community). But none of them seem to be able to live consistently with their presuppositions (the things they take to be basic facts-that they are fundamentally meat machines, complex accretions of chemicals and chemical reactions) What they spend their lives researching they deny every day- when they choose and ponder, feel the pangs of conscience or love.
Our story (the Scriptures) I believe is much more comprehensive, and accounts for the observed facts a lot better than materialistic neodarwinism. All that being said, I don't think evolutionists are stupid, and I don't think the story of evolution is entirely unconvincing - but taken to it's logical conclusions it's insufficient.
Microevolution... I guess it depends on what you mean by "evolution", and "species". It's undeniable that the mechanisms claimed as "mechanisms of evolution" exist -mutation and natural selection happen, there's gene flow and genetic drift; but I just don't see them doing what Neodarwinism says they've done. I'll take the example of microevolution that's given in the textbook I'm reading: Sickle cell anemia. Yeah, sure, there's mutation taking place, and natural selection, but that, like all the other examples of "microevolution" I've read about is a corruption or loss of information that's already present and selection for or against that-no new information being created. They don't seem to have any convincing examples of the kind of evolution it would take to account for the degree of change they're trying to account for (the biological diversity we see today). So you have guys like Stephen Jay Gould talking about punctuated equilibrium to try and explain how it could happen, rapid evolution in isolated populations (something no one has, of course, observed) to try and tweak the story to fit the facts. But it just doesn't seem to fit.
There ARE things that don't seem to fit in either story though, like how we haven't yet found human remains in the lower strata (I'd like to know why). I think that we (as christians) could do a lot better at fitting observed facts into our story if we had anything near the funding or governmental support or academic community that the establishment does...but we don't. Ultimately though, if we've determined our story fits the facts, then that means there really IS a God who is there, in your room and mine, and we can know Him here and now through Jesus. That's really the final test of its reality.
Peace in Jesus,

----------------- Original Message -----------------
From: T.
Date: Nov 4, 2008 1:51 PM
i can see exactly where your coming from. so in the big picture, they are trying to reduce us into something that we can't be, if we just look at the physical aspects then maybe, but if we borden our view and see that we are smart and have a spirt, mind and can think of our selves in the third person, evolution is impossible? so wait... do you think evolution is true in micro, like just in a speices?

----------------- Original Message -----------------
From: JudahDate: Nov 3, 2008 4:57 AM
I agree with your main point. That's one of the reasons I've been buying and reading college textbooks lately, I want to know firsthand what the professors of Anthropology/Biology (who hold to neodarwinism) have to say about their position. I think the difference between your analogy and the C/E issue doesn't touch one important point: in your story the doctor's diagnosis would be testable in the present, (it's not an attempt to say how things got the way they are today, like evolutionary theory) so it's something everyone would be able to observe for themselves in the present. If in the present I DID see natural selection and mutation (both of which ARE testable in the present, and which I believe take place) acting the way that most evolutionary theorists say they did, I would have a lot harder of a time hanging on to the biblical account of things. But to be honest I don't see that happening.
On the chimp note: DNA codes for physical characteristics. It makes sense that if two organisms are physically similar, they'll be genetically similar. Physically, It's pretty plain that we do have a lot of similarities with the great apes-but I don't think that our physical bodies are all that we are, do you? Even in the genesis account it seems to say that we're physically made out of the same stuff, "out of the ground" - physically we're on the same playing field as the animals (you might want to check out Ecclesiastes 3:18-21 on that too). That is why I think modern anthropologists have such a hard time trying to figure out what-if anything-fundamentally separates humans from animals, because they reduce life to its physical component and think that that's all we really are. But I believe from scripture and experience that we have a non-physical component too, a spirit, which is made to commune with God on a higher level than the animals.Okay, this is a lot longer that I'd meant it to be. I'll stop here.

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: T.Date: Oct 29, 2008 9:36 PM
This is one of my blogs.... please read it:Okay, so i was thinking, what if we had all the doctors in the world come together, very well educated (they are doc's after all), and they came up with something called "cancer" and said it would kill you over a short period of time, really just eating you from the inside out and it wasn't really treatable. But there was a group of religious people that said, "no, there is no way that God would do this to us, we are way to important to him", even though all these well educated doctors said it was true, well on the other hand, these people were not.
If you as a person with common sense, looked at this situation wouldn't you go along with the doctors?This same principle applies to modern day evolution vs. creationism, and this is why people tend to think evolution is more believable, because all the experts in that field say it is, but all the church people go in and say, "nope isn't true" without having any education in the matter.Tell me. Am i totally off base? comment my page.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Deliver me from muttering

I feel like an automaton, I need to return to the only place I love
I need to go back to the face of God
what is that faint noisethat background buzzing
is that my complaint growing thorns around my soul?
Ever finding all that's wrong
when bread comes falling from the sky
I don't like the color
and I have to bend over to pick it up
When I am fed, I am bitter that I must chew my food
a muffled dying, whining drone
bitter and tepid like coffee left out all night
God, Throw out the whole pot and start something better brewing
if it takes heat and pressure let some thanksgiving start to pour
'cause my whining is a slow suffocation
all these carbon monoxide mutters have left me with a headache in heaven
and I need to get your fresh air
You're the only one who loves me
so please give me CPR
and let your breath get me breathing out
grateful truths and thankful hymns,
til the sun comes rolling up over the hills
and the rain comes to wash the dust out of my soul
so I can see how for me everything runs on your love
and how everything is a wrapped up gift
and I can thank you,and we can talk again.

I got to push a bus last week. I was on the way home, when our bus stopped for a very long time at the intersection. I looked up and saw that the driver was getting out to help the driver of another bus that had stalled in the middle of the intersection blocking all traffic. Apparently she had hit a "dead spot" a part of the electrical power cable that holds no charge (the Seattle buses use electric power within city limits). Our driver came in and let us know it would be a while til a truck could be sent out to tow the other bus out of the way. It was about 11pm by that time, and I knew that if we were delayed that long, I wouldn't get home til about 3am. So I asked the bus driver if I could push it out of the way. He brightened up and said, "you know, it doesn't actually take that much to push one of these things, we could probably do it." I replied, "lets do It!" and jumped up out of my seat. The driver patted a heftyish mexicano guy who was occupying a seat towards the door of the bus and said "come on, you too!" and so the three of us hopped off, rolled up our sleeves, and pushed the bus a good five feet til it passed the dead zone and kept on going on it's own power, the driver waving at us as she left. So we hopped back on our bus, I made it for my transfer, and got home at about midnight.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I wake up in the Mourning and realise she's not there

What can I do when half of me is gone?
when my heart has flown away on steely wings
with all the warmth that used to clothe my peace
then what is left for me?
When I close my eyes I can see her skin
when I am alone I hear her breathe
I am on pause, I am in a rage
and all the sweet breeze of order
the other half of our metaphor
all the auric beauty that is painted with her name
is vanished like a morning mist
in the deathly light of another day
and I am left sitting in a cage
my T-shirts are my sackcloth
and my showers are all dust
while I say that I am not thinking of her hair
and the smooth curve of her neck
as it slopes like an alder tree to meet her shoulder
when I say I am not reaching for her in my sleep
my blood is beating too hard
for those lies to be believed.
I am an unwilling abstinence
from her face and from her lips
and I am at war with distance.
If I could mail her a kiss
wrap it in satin to keep it soft
could I send her a blank piece of paper
to let her know all the things that need to be spoken
with my cheek touching hers
If i could catch a bird
and teach it to sing
and tell it why I miss her,
how she is like a sunrise
that hasn't come for too many days
than I would convince it to migrate to your side of earth
and tell you the gospel of my love.
And then, maybe then
It would give her its wings
so she could fly back to me.

Monday, August 25, 2008

So, I'm repenting in dust and ashes from my earlier complaint about my pastor here. Yesterday's message out of Colossians was very full and filling. I came out much encouraged and re-calibrated to the Truth that's in Jesus. So, I feel really bad about my griping. A good lesson on the dangers of hasty judgement.
Then he announced that he was clearing out his library and had a bunch of books out on the tables in the hall. So after the message I wandered out into wonderland. It was a really good selection too, I made out like a bandit with a partial Church History set and the full set of "The Fundamentals" which I'd been thinking of buying anyway. So I was very happy, walking down the hall with a huges stack of books under my arm, and Pastor John, one of the other staff pastors asked me if I was looking for an outlet to teach the word, and suggested the young (pre-teen) group, but was open to see if something else would suit me better. So I asked for his card and he requested that I call and set up a lunch meeting or something to talk about it. So I'm really excited and feeling blessed about that, since that's kind of the reason I came out here.
After church we all went down to Centralia to my aunt's place so that my dad could see his mom and we could all kind of get together. It was interesting watching them get together and tell stories, my dad and his mom emphasize very different parts of his/their lives. At one point I saw him feeling the back of Jaelle's head for something and I asked what he was looking for, and he said really quickly he was checking her skull shape. His mom and uncle were in the room and always give him a hard time for being "wierd", so he quickly said "Nothing" when granny asked what he said. On the drive home I re-asked the question figuring he'd feel more free to say, and he said he was checking to see if they have anatolian bumps, an ethnically specific bump formation on the back of the skull that indicates Central asian ancestry, he and I both have it. Then he pointed out an alternate scenic route that went through all of his old childhood romping grounds. He kept pointing out historical landmarks and geological landforms like the Tenino Plain from back when he was really into geology and archaeology.
I've really enjoyed having my dad with us, we've been staying up all hours of the night talking for the last three nights. He's telling me all about Korea, his life as a young man, a lot of the reasoning behind all our moves and life changes when I was too little to care or remember, a lot of philosophy and anthropology and Cultural information about Korea, Japan and the surrounding areas, it's very rare that I get someone just to ask questions of for a long period who can fill me in on a lot of things I'm curious about. He's also very fun to talk with about the paranormal. I have a little handheld MP3 recorder that I'd bought in MN to record family conversations, but I have forgotten to turn it on for almost every one of the really good conversations we've had.
He took us out for Mexican food the other day, at a little Taqueria down the street, that was nice, although I have a hard time taking things from him. The kids have been swarming him every time he comes out of the room for stories and wrestling and questions, and he's been trying to teach them some korean and little tidbits of linguistics, they've been having a blast.
Josiah said he doesn't look old "'cause he doesn't have any stripes, and that's how you get old, you get a lot of stripes"
(read "wrinkles")
That got us all a good laugh. I really do hope and pray that he will come to believe in Jesus of Nazareth again, that's the only way I can see that things could be any better.

Friday, August 22, 2008

So, here I am at work again. We just went through some training on fire alarm systems, and when my boss Mark was giving us an informational lecture, I was losing consciousness in a bad way. It was good information, but I kept waking up, and nodding off, and waking up, until he said "and soon we're going to go out and test the actual alarms outside so Judah can stay awake" -at which point I asked to break and get some coffee. Which worked for the next 30 minutes of lecture or so.
A man can only pinch the skin on his leg so hard, after all.

Well then, My lovely wife is moving the kids beds into our room for the duration of my dad's stay, I'm happy to have a chance to exercise my very rusty hospitality (Brandy's a natural) and also the 5th commandment. I figured it would be better to let him have a door, I always like to have a door when I'm staying with other people, it makes me feel less like an invader.

It's strange with me, any huge thing I adapt to within the first day so it feels like it's always been this way. I have no gift for novelty. I wonder if it got burnt out of me from all the moving when I was young?
It feels like my dad's always been here.

But it's still strange, trying to resume a relationship which hasn't existed in person for over a decade.
And last time I saw him, he was taller than me.
Everything changes. Well, except Someone.

That's one of the most comforting things about our God, I think. He's a person, and he's a person who doesn't change. Change is like wind, and it's nice to have a windbreak to step into, a feeling of comfort, of home, someplace and someone to go back to when everything around you is rushing through a swift process of change and decay.

I've decided (well, I decided it a long time ago) that the thing which makes our faith in Jesus Christ special, and different, is because it's faith in JESUS CHRIST. and through him, in a specific God, Yahweh, the I AM. He's not just some generic "God" - for there are many "gods" and many "lords" but He's the one we know and believe. The philosophic system can be ripped off or superimposed onto another religion, but we're not asked to trust in a philosophic system, we're offered to place our belief in a specific person, Jesus Christ.

Been reading Thomas Wingfold, there are some points in that book that almost...well...they do...make my eyes water up. I was at work so I had to duck down my head and suck 'em back into my tear ducts.

I keep on expecting life to slow down. At least the maintenance part of it. But it never has, and I'm starting to think it never will. After reading T.W., I decided to try and actually obey something of God's word, the "Do all things w/o arguing or complaining." it's strange to think that I, calling myself a Christ-ian, have not consiously tried to obey anything He says for a long long time.
My dad has arrived from Korea. It has been fun.
We talked a lot yesterday, about all sorts of things. Brandy says I must have gotten a lot of my facial & verbal expressions from him, as well as my head shape.
More to come.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

So here I am at work again, I got here late... I'd asked Nate to change my schedule so I could come in early and get off in time to pick up my dad from the airport. But then after getting off at 10pm last night, I had to take the 2 hour bus trip home, got home at midnight, and stayed up with Brandy for a couple hours.

The bus.
I was kinda looking forward to riding the bus so I could have time to read, but it's not turning out that way. A couple nights ago I rode home next to a black woman tweaking out something serious on meth. NOT FUN. She was little, so I figured if she went crazy canadian on me and tried to stab/decapitate/cannibalize me I'd be able to hold my own, but I didn't feel it was wise to take my eyes off her either. She was twitching and frieking out, devoured her bag of gardettos like the cookie monster, (slammed mouthful after mouthful all over her face making animal noises-crumbs ended up everywhere) she'd keep on twitching like she was having a siezure or something, and shouting and jumping like she was constantly being surprised. I flicked a piece of pretzel off my knee that she'd launched in her ravening, and the movement startled her enough to jump and yell like a psychotic hyena.
Which she kept on doing after sinking into a semi-unconsious state.
Needless to say, I didn't get much reading done. And that's it for my sitting next to crack/meth/other heads on the bus. If they start twitching, I'm gonna ask em to move or I'll move myself, but I've done my share for the year.

On other fronts... Checked out Beowulf for some reading on breaks, a new translation my Seamus Heaney. I've been looking for a translation by JRR Tolien - I could swear I used to have one - but I can't find evidence that one ever existed.

I've been letting lots of people into buildings. And telling ppl to keep their dogs on leashes. I'm trying not to let the power go to my head.

Reading "Thomas Wingfold, Curate" again, it seems like I've been re-reading a lot of books lately. I want to buy that one though, and found a nice site where they do reproductions of McDonald originals.

Watched "Bonhoeffer" the other night, and got so interested I dug out his "Letters and Papers from Prison" to read the last section. Bonhoeffer was a interesting guy, I really like his stuff. A lot of the "new" waves in theology seem to be trying to duplicate his work in a 2-D sort of way. I want to read his "Ethics" to see if he can make the statement: "It's better to do evil than be evil" more convincing than it initially sounds. I'm pretty sure I'd lie if the gestapo showed up at my door and asked if there were any jews inside (providing that the were jews inside), but still I can't really get over the idea of lying being OK.

Also read a book my aunt gave me called "Restoration, restoring the Torah to christians" or something like that. He says we should all keep kosher and observe sabbath + festivals. He makes a decent argument, but I think it still has a lot of holes. I remember almost coming to that conclusion on my own (I should be keeping sabbath etc...) after a month and a half in Israel. I do agree with him as far as the statement that Jews can/should keep the Torah laws, and that they were never abolished. But as far as us gentiles go, I can't buy that having read galatians etc...

Also, reading N.T. Wright's commentary on Colossians where he believes Judaic commandments and traditions to be the heresy Paul's trying to contradict. Which goes directly against how the guy from the other book interprets it. Funny how they can get opposite conclusions from the same book.

I'm very tired.

God's been very good to me, I have yet to be assaulted on the bus, aside from the odd food item splattered on me by druggies, and home has been good as well.
I'm off break now, will write more later.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A little bit of life
Strangeness upon strangeness
Got a call today from the St Paul Police department, there was a little girl that got molested in a library basement somewhere there the other day, and when they searched the records of cards for witnesses, they found that among others, my card had been used that day.
What the heck??? I haven't lived in St. Paul for a year.
So I gave them all my info and dates of when we moved - it's horrible. I guess that's a lesson that even library cards aren't safe to throw away, makes me feel like buying a shredder.

I've been spending the last week in training with the WACLEA campus security training group for IED recognition, an overview of terrorism, bomb squads, gangs, sexual assault and rape, and all sorts of depressing things.
I found out there is a gang problem in WA (still not like Minneapolis), got some info on the local gangs/sets/cliques, watched graphic videos of gang violence, and learned the origin of the major gangs and their symbols/codes.
Before and after that we saw graphic footage of people getting blown up trying to defuse IED's (NOT pretty! people looking fine one moment on video, then with half their face blown off and body on fire the next, still twitching in shock)
We learned that Bin Laden's 100 year plan for war is going just as He predicted and that when we pull out of Iraq & Afghanistan they will follow us here, as that's the next phase in his long-term plan. So we will have to deal with domestic terrorism more and more frequently as a nation, and especially as an extention of law enforcement.
The IED/terror presenters were an englishman who has been dealing with IRA terrorism for the past 15 years or so, and a trainer for the FBI academy who's seen a lot of action out in Afghanistan/Iraq, they let us know that the IRA, of all people, have been training all the terrorists around the globe in explosives, and that Thailand is the worlds hotbed of IED terror right now, and it's -you guessed it-musilms who are responsible there too.
Anyhoo, I am now paranoid. I had to look up a bunch of verses on fear, courage, death and immortality to regain some larger perspective on it all.

Then Brandy calls me and tells me she got a suspicious package in the mail with my name on it, she was afraid to open it - so much that she decided to conquer her fear by...OPENING IT!!!
I asked her never to ever ever do that again, and that I want her whole, not in pieces. There are better ways to overcome fear!

The package turned out to be some saldalwood "worry beads" that my dad sent me from Korea. Oh yeah, he's being forced to come back to the states to re-up his visa, so I may actually see my dad for the first time in a decade and a half sometime soon!!!

Well, there's a lot going on. We've been visiting with my wonderful relatives down in Centralia, we camped out in their front yard (they live on a wooded hill overlooking a beautiful valley in lush green WA) and Brandy spend the next couple days down there while I would go to the classes here in Lacey and come down in the evenings.
Got to chop up some dying fruit tree branches with my cousin Aaron, that was fun. I like Aaron, it seems like we have a lot in common but he's even quieter than me and he's got a girlfriend he really loves so I never get to talk with him. So that was good stuff.
My aunt is using E-Harmony.
My other cousin is leaving for London on Saturday, going to her going-away party on Friday
Got to hang out with my old friend Ian last week, we ran six miles and swam in Lake Washington, then went back to the house & ate curry & drank some champagne, played the Wii for a bit (video games bore me easily) then we went out for some midnight frisbee with his glowing UFO disc out in one of U-district's stunning parks while all the constellations set the backdrop.

My Aunt found an old audio tape of my dad's worship songs, which I converted to MP3 and burned to disc. I am very very happy I have them.

Currently reading:
The Jesus I Never Knew (Philip Yancey)
The New Testament Text, It's Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (Bruce Metzger)
Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis (C.S. Lewis)
He Shall Glorify Me (Oswald Chambers)
1 Chronicles (Jewish inspired compiler)

And I finally finished 1st responder training and got certified for all kinds of emergency medical stuff.

Overall, it's been a very, very busy couple of weeks.
But I think I said that already.
Well, that's the update so far, or at least a small summary.
My aunt found a tape recording of my dad playing guitar & singing some of the worship songs he wrote back in the early 90's.

He no longer believes in Jesus of Nazareth, so It's sad to listen to, but it gives me hope that he once loved the God I worship, and may some day again.
And it's (in my opinion) good poetry.

From the mouth of the tossing sea
a voice cried out and said to me
sing with the howling wind that's mine
and quench the fire that knows no time
just a wave in the turbid surf
alone the power below to serve
compelled to break against the rock
the very heaven above to mock
the fiery lake of restless flame
of burning self and quenchless blame
a dead sea no life sustaining
and death alone within reigning
thick darkness only could I see
slavery of sin and in
without within a putrid stench
my highest hill simply a trench
but on these waves there rode a boat
carried a restful man afloat
who stood and looked within my fear
and whispered softly in my ear
peace, peace, be still, this word came
and echoed from within my frame
my kingdom grows within your heart
and from within I'll never depart
a dove of light hovered above
the waves stilled by an endless love
I found myself upon the shore
and walking through an open door
unfolding as an endless rope
that led into heavens above
a way that glowed with glory's light
ran like a river through the night
unto a mountain made of stone
crowned with the shining golden throne
upon which sat a wounded lamb
who said with words that lived "I AM"
He handed me a loaf and cup
and told me to upon them sup
and bid me look into his face
where I beheld an ageless grace
then in His eyes a fiery flame
displayed the nature of the Name
and on the apple of His eye
I saw the image of the sky
then forms and shapes all rolled away
and deepest night consumed by day
as all the shadows of the past
rested beneath his feet at last
a Zephyr whispered deeper look
and there within the end a book
in which I saw a tossing sea
and read the words "This too in me"
the very waves in which I'd tossed
Where I had realized I was lost
to their torment were just his slaves
preparing those whom His love saves
and holding all within his hand
there stood one like the Son of Man
He smiled at me and then I heard
the endless river in His word
"All this, through me, my Father pours
that He and I may both be yours
and with the Living Spirit be
One Love throughout eternity

On the "Reverse Golden Rule"
I was talking with my good friend Ian at a coffeeshop and we got to talking about "Spiritual" things, sort-of, since Ian's not a dualist or a supernaturalist, especially Buddhism since that's the last conversation we had shared about such things. I asked him about the qualities of buddhism that attracted him, and he brought up the buddhist version of the "Golden Rule" ("Do not do to others what you would not have them do to you", whereas Jesus' 'positive' version reading "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"). Ian said he saw it as superior to Jesus' positive version, since it was less invasive and interventionist. He prefers the Buddhist version.

My contention:
The negative version "frees" us from responsibility to exercise compassion. If I am only expected to leave people alone, following this mandate - though easier - would result in selfishness and neglect. And, of course, it's a lot easier to follow.

The "Good Samaritan". In the parable of the "Good Samaritan", Jesus illustrates what His "Golden Rule" looks like in action. And unlike Buddha's version, it requires action. The Samaritan in the story DOES unto the injured Jew as he would have done unto himself. The Priest and the Levite follow the "negative golden rule" by not interfering. They don't do anything bad to anyone, yet it's obvious how they come up short in neglecting an obvious duty to have compassion on the suffering and helpless.

In defense, a proponent of the "Negative" G.R. might say that they would not want to be neglected by passersby, and therefore would act, but that's using a double negative to result in a positive formulation of the "G.R."

Note Jesus' conclusion: "who was the man's neighbor?...go and do likewise!"
Now, a task much more difficult than definition and defense of Jesus' word - to live it by His Spirit! :-)

Friday, August 01, 2008

It's 3:51 AM and I've got an hour and a half to go.

This is the busiest night I've had so far, since I started the grave shift. I found an alarm going off in the Science building lab, a controlled temp room was overheating... Could've been explosive volatile chemicals for all I know, called in to dispatch and they called the on-call engineer to come take care of it. Then I found some chocolate covered almonds set out in the lobby and fulfilled their purpose for existing.
Then there were the two inebriated dikes walking their four dogs across campus, and whistling for the pit-bull they just lost. I got their info & let them know we'd call them if we sighted their animal.
Then I confronted a suspicious guy (not really) in a biodiesel truck to make sure he had a work order before removing barrels of cooking fat from Gwinn (our cafeteria) to convert into diesel fuel.
Fun fun fun.
Here's a link to where I work
Seattle Pacific University
It's pretty. It gets pretty eerie checking in long basement hallways and empty corridors at night with all the lights off, no one to hear you scream and all that...but I don't think I would scream, I'd probably die fighting silently if it came to it.
Well, well, it's the first. I just checked my bank account and the amount being direct deposited into it for payroll is NOT right, I hope it gets fixed before tomorrow morning, I don't want to have one more thing to add to my list, :"gripe at employer about payroll mistake"
Oi Vey.
(which I think is hebrew for "my enemies"-I should check to make sure.)
Reading "That Hideous Strength", I swear, or would if it wasn't forbidden, that book gets better and more enlightening every time I read it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Will we ever fly our colors?
in the arena where we belong?
"look how they love each other,
facing lions with a song"
In the arena?
and what of fists and guns and war?
what has He put fight in us for
There is a time to hate and kill
the evil in "men of goodwill"
we are wearing bloody clotted rags
and selling soap with promise tags
'this will make us all that clean
forget the wrongs we all have seen'
so throw a vote to the abyss
and let the winner blow a kiss
goodbye to messianic hopes
while the puppet master pulls the ropes.
For the rightful King had come before
but two thousand years have cooled our core
and we leave it to children to adore
too late! their blood has stained the floor.
We have long outgrown our virtues
and memory so please excuse
this clamor for a gimmick King
who will give us all our share of things
and make us feel about ourselves
that we are good and never delve
into our duties and our faults
like an egg without the salt
tasteless hearts about to halt
caught with our mouths full of his straw
our judges have open-sourced the law
and when they come for you and me
we'll stammer that we didn't see
we will not then speak total lies
for long ago we sold our eyes.
Reading 2 Kings yesterday, the story about Naaman the Syrian. A few things I found interesting.
#1, it says that the Lord gave Naaman victories for Syria, apart from any real involvement -pro or con- with Israel. That's just another little interesting tidbit to me that makes it clear that our God wasn't ignoring the rest of the world as He was concentrating on Israel.
#2. Naaman's response to Elisha's Word from the LORD "wash 7 times in the Jordan". I remembered that Naaman got upset and thought that if any rivers would do the trick, the large clean flowing ones in Damascus would do a lot better.
What I DIDN'T remember was Namaan's expected method of healing. Naaman says "look, I thought for sure that he would come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and 'cure the leper'."...
The reason I find that funny is because that process (standing, 'calling on the name of the LORD' while waving a hand over the illness and hey presto! "cure the leper!")
Is what always comes to mind when I think of "healing". It's funny to me that a stereotype of healing has been around for that many thousands of years, and how few times (relatively) it works out like that in scripture.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I missed a chance to give an old lady (well, middle aged) in a walker a quarter...:-(
and I lied without thinking about it. I told her I didn't have any cash - when I did, I had seen a quarter floating around in the bottom of my bag 15 minutes earlier. I don't normally carry cash, so "I don't have any cash" is my stock response to ppl asking for money. My MO is usually to NOT give people money, especially physically well men, but this woman I would've made an exception for if I had been thinking right. Bummer.
AND I lied.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I've got a sore throat.
The only good thing about a sore throat is the deep manly voice it gives me.
I can't remember where I put my Halls...
Today was very relaxed. Listened to Kodo "Taiko" drums on my Ipod during the Bus ride and reading 1 Corinthians 15. when I came in to work I found that I was 2 hours early, apparently my schedule changed without my realizing it. So I took off my ballistic vest and overshirt and wandered down to the library square to read. I'm re-reading "The Text of the New Testament" by Metzger. Then I went down and talked to the financial aid people and made some friends, the guy who I talked to was a Brian McLaren fan, but other than that seemed like a good guy, we had some conversation about authors. I explained where McLaren & I part ways. Then I wandered into the library & checked out a book for Brandy, all of the books I wanted to check out were not where the system said they should be, so I checked with the library personnel who made a solemn covenant to track them down for me. Missing books? What's up with the security in this place?!?
I should obviously spend more time in the library to deter theft. If only I could convince my bosses.
Then I talked to some teenage kids at the Worldview Academy, they were staring at me so I stopped & said Hi. I mainly talked to the boy, and remembered how much work it is to talk to a high school boy - there was so much joking and sarcasm and "out-there"ness it was a chore to stay on point, but he wasn't bad, just a victim of his demographic. Worldview academy seems to be a cool program explaining the Christian Worldview to kids and comparing it to other worldviews to see how it measures up as Truth. The boy seemed unimpressed, but one of the girls actually seemed to have been paying attention. Why do girls care more often than boys, in general? My guess is he was paying more attention than what he wanted to let on.
Their Names were Andrew, Mattie, and Andrew's cousin was in Napoleon Dynamite apparently, or at least in the Yearbook. He said they used an actual yearbook in the film. I hadn't known that Napoleon Dynamite was filmed in Idaho.

When I first came in, I got into a really good discussion with Ray where he asked me to define "Objective" and "Subjective" - he was reading a book by John Piper, which to my delight he really likes. Apparently Flame (the Holy Hip-Hop guy) had gave it to him at a concert in Seattle.
Our conversation went from Objectivity to the history of Postmodernism & the enlightenment, the ghetto, beat downs, pot, buddhism, and Seattle Mariner's merchandise. That was the most fun I had all day. I even got to recommend some of Francis Schaeffer's books to him-and he wrote down the titles!!!

K, the time has come for me to go lock up some buildings. I'm here til 11pm.
That's really late.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I'm annoyed with church services.
There are very few pastors that I can listen to eagerly or gladly, and I'm thinking that our current one isn't one of them. Nothing against him at all, he seems like a strong believer and great guy's just that if I'm taking an hour out of a day to hear the word of God, I'd like to benefit from it in some way. I don't want to just sit in a pew week after week being unexcited.
It would be nice to have a pastor who I looked up to, who I wanted to learn from.
Or even one who presented the things I already know in a way that kept my attention.
One of my major peeves is when a scripture is used out of context. It doesn't mean that it's being used to teach heresy, most of the time the teachings are doctrinally sound - it's just the fact that they're using something as a prooftext that doesn't have anything to do with their topic. It might not annoy me so much if Calvary didn't have such an emphasis on the superiority of "teaching through the word". The whole point of teaching through the word is to give the people a good understanding of the bible overall, but how can that be accomplished when through the teaching the congregation is being trained by example to ignore the 'context' which gets talked up so much throughout the sermon???

Personally, I have more respect and listening power for well thought out heresies.

Well, there it stands...I am annoyed. I don't see the point of occupying a seat and pretending to pay attention - When I explained my pensive look to Brandy she said she wasn't able to empathise - she had been too busy trying to stay awake to notice the misuse of scripture that annoyed me. Great. Then she said she hadn't been able to pay attention to a sermon ever since we got here. What does she do? Just zone out? When I pressed her she admitted that there have been very few times when sermons have really taught or moved her, most of them being Dominic's.
So, there's my dilemma. I really don't like the idea of sitting down for an hour for the sake of convention, I would like to be roused, moved, educated and edified.
So I guess all I can really do is pray for wisdom on what to do. Because I just don't know. I don't want to church hop or develop the palate of a sermon connoiseur, I would just really, really like to be taught. Actually taught, at church for that hour. Is that asking too much?
The people, the people I love, I like hanging out with Christians, talking to christians, They are my brothers and sisters. That I have no problem doing.
The music? It would be nice if we could listen to something that hadn't escaped from the second half of the previous millennium - but I can worship to just about anything so long as the lyrics are decent, and I just skip the ones that aren't. But wouldn't it be nice to worship God with music as it is? Modern music? We don't (for the most part) speak or pray in King James language anymore, why must we worship to musical arrangements from the 60's?

It the back of my mind my church training is telling me I shouldn't complain, yes, I know, but to say I'm just complaining doesn't answer my questions. And I think they need to be answered.

I think I'll go to sleep now.
We don't even know what we want.

Most of the time we think we know what we want, what will make us happy, but then as soon as we receive or achieve it we discover that it wasn't what we were looking for after all. It was definitely not that thing that was going to bring us happiness.
Since it seems like such a constant that we are wrong in what we want, would it be surprising if we turned out to be clueless as to the thing that WILL bring us happiness? We may think we DON'T want that very thing. (Of course, the biggest example would be God, in Christ)
I don't, honestly, want him at all times. But I believe that below all my confused and apparent desires he really is the only water that will meet my thirst, He's what I really want, even if I THINK i really want the used motor oil of sin, some girl to look at, some duty to neglect, some vindictive feeling to enjoy.
Just a little bit ago, I realised as I carried my bible to the couch to read that I didn't feel like reading it. I didn't feel like connecting to God at all, I just wanted to be left alone to do whatever popped into my mind.
But I read it anyway, and after the first couple sips I realised that it was what I wanted after all.
And I accuse women of not knowing what they want!
I guess none of us really know what we want most of the time.
Some would-be pop philosophers tap into this conundrum of desire (the incorrect identification of its object, and following sense of disappointment) and react with a sort of smiley despair & say something like "True happiness is to be found in the wanting, not the having" (Which to my mind seems to be a sideways admission that true happiness isn't to be had by anyone) A paraphrase might for this philosophy might be "Since the disease is terminal it's best to stay on painkillers til it's over."

I'm very glad that's not true.

I FINALLY finished N.T. Wright's "Resurrection Of The Son Of God". I've never taken that long to finish a book (as best as I can remember) It was a very good and informative book, I'll probably write a review of it or something, but not now. I don't think I'll read it again anytime soon, but I'm sure I'll go back and reference it frequently.

I love my job. I'm sure I've said that already. I cant wait to start going to school there again next year. (Lord Willing). I have one concern, My female co-workers have informed me that the student population is 70+% female, and they said that It was my destiny to get flirted with. Apparently (according to them) girls call in for security escorts across campus when they know the good looking guys are on duty. That's frightening to me because I'm such a beggar for compliments of any kind in the first place. I always want people to admire me and say good things about me-it's a weakness I've had as far back as I can remember. So I don't want to end up enjoying any of that sort of attention if it comes my way. I let Brandy know what they said and shared my fears with her. She's always a lot more compassionate than I would be in her position. Apparently she has been getting holla'd at when she walks the 1/2 mile down to the store lately too. My reaction to that thought was less composed.

First responder classes have been going very well. I passed all the practicals in the mid-class assessment, and found out that one of my trainers is a Christian. (I figured she was when she said C.S. Lewis was a good author after noticing me reading "Out of the Silent Planet" on a break). I also got chosen to act as a burn patient for the my classmates to treat in a practice session. I made it fun by yelling for morphine and aspirin, complaining that my burned jeans cost me sixty dollars and accusing my rescuers of trying to kill me. When they asked me if I had any allergies I responded "Fire".
It was a lot of fun.
They'd asked at the beginning of the class if any of us had seen a severe burn victim. I told them Pastor Chik's story, so that was the scenario I was told to act out for the practice.

I got some new and glorious music. Some Japanese Taiko drum music (gets the blood flowing) & some "bellydance" drum music at Brandy's request (which is very dance-able), then I got some Very, very beautiful acoustic fingerstyle guitar music by Andy McKee and Andy Fox that I'm listening to now.
I think there is some music that's like solvent to the soul-as it's playing your consciousness diffuses into it, and when it's over your sould re-precipitates, still reverberating with the vision-like impressions of the music. This is that kind of music.

Going to church tomorrow morning-looking forward to everything except getting up and ready. I'm getting sick apparently.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I woke up at 11am this morning. I was going to go to the DMV -but it closes at 12noon on Saturdays. It's just as well, since I still don't have the proper documentation.

I got offered the 40hr/wk position at work-and took it.
I also got my personal size reference ESV bible in the mail, I'm pretty excited about it. It's just the right size, and it's signature bound. (That means it's stitched in little folded bundles called "signatures" to the spine, rather than glued to the backing. Stitched bindings last longer)

Met a kid on the bus the other day, his name was Aaron. He was a black kid (I say "Kid", but he was in his early twenties) from Michigan-apparently a pretty tough neighborhood in Grand Rapids. He's a Christian, has been from when he was a boy, and started the conversation by saying he liked my shirt & saw me reading my bible & thought that was cool. He reminded me of Averill from St Paul. We got to talking, and he asked for my cell #. I pray for him that things go well, he said he's having some hard times here in WA. I was very glad for his company on the bus, since I haven't really run across any believers to talk to on the bus here so far. It also made me want to give Averill a call. It's so strange to think that there are these people who have affected and been affected by you, who've had heart to heart conversations and shared the good and bad with you, who've had real communion with the Lord Jesus Christ with you, that just drift away from you until they're hard to remember.

I can say I really miss a lot of the people from Minnesota ("a lot" being about 20). I've spent a longer time there than any other place I've ever lived, and that's where I walked through the door into Life, where I met my first Christian friends, my mentors and heroes, my first close friendships in Jesus, my great adventures, the place where I was able to give help to those who needed it, and really get to know people. And now there's so much space between us, space and time. I wish I had a better memory, I wish I put the one I have to better use.

It's good to have a wife, someone who shares my experiences like no one else. So much of understanding and communication has to do with shared experience. Commonality in our vocabulary, our stories, our values, our joys and terrors are largely dependent on common experience. And shared experience isn't something you can go to school to learn, or pay to get, it only comes with commitment, and a shared life.
Granted, we don't share all our experiences, I don't really know very well what it's like to stay home all day and take care of the kids, go to the grocery store, cook and clean, and Brandy doesn't know what it's like at my work or on the bus, but I guess that's probably why we spend the time listening to the stories of each other's days-to do our best to gain what common experience we can through imagination.

Watched "Gandhi" last night with Brandy. After a little research I found he was influenced by G.K. Chesterton and Sundar Singh, it also became clear that what set him apart most from other men were not the Koran's or Vedic teachings, but rather the teachings of Jesus that he attempted to follow. His non-violence was based in the gospels, which he freely admitted. But I still don't know what to think of even that interpretation of Jesus' words. I haven't known for 27 years for sure how Jesus meant for us to carry that out, and I haven't really ever changed my position on violence-using it only to protect the weak. I pray and hope I'm not wrong, but unless I have a revelation I don't think there's enough in scripture to call for strict nonresistance. It would cost too much for such an uncertain interpretation that seems in other parts of scripture to be contradicted.

Sometimes I feel like I have a very, very weak grasp on reality and sanity. I felt that way for part of this afternoon. The only times I don't feel that way is when I'm acting on stimulus-response mode, or when I'm in open communication with Jesus. I was having a hard time until I flipped to John 8:12 where Jesus says, "I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Jesus says that if we follow him, all that darkness and confusion will disappear as His light shows us what everything really is, and is like. And not only will we see all of that by the light, but we'll Have that light. I forget sometimes what it was like before. When I didn't know what the meaning of life was, or what I wanted to do, what I should do. I'm grateful for the difference. Right after reading and trying to memorize that verse, I started reading a Biography of Eberhard Arnold that quoted Jesus' words in John 8:12. I took that as a confirmation.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Just got back from my first responder class.

I asked a lot of questions this time. Probably the biggest impression I came out of it with is that Man is mortal. Very mortal. They were describing all the ways in which one might be seriously injured, for example a stab about two or three inches deep into the center line of the body could pierce the aorta, and kill you in less than a minute, or a broken femur can pierce the femoral artery and do the same. There were quite a few more examples until I raised my hand and asked "Is there any part of the body that isn't vulnerable?!" The answer was basically a no. Then they explained (while we were practicing on the mannequins) that CPR in a lot of cases is simply keeping the organs alive and viable for harvesting because more than half of the time with an unconscious, non-breathing no-heartbeat person they're not going to live. CPR by itself rarely saves anyone whose got no heartbeat, what it does is keep the brain and other vital organs oxygenated til they can get a defibrillator to re-start the heart.

All this got me looking at everyone a lot more carefully, how delicate we are! We're like tissue paper in water, just a little bit of hard current & we're torn to pieces. I found myself acting very gently towards the mannequins, they're shaped like people, so I want to treat them like people-especially the chil & infant mannequins, I feel a lot of compassion on them, even though they're not "real". I carry the infant mannequins like babies, and make sure to set them down gently. It's wierd, but I can't imagine acting any other way, I would feel like I was losing my humanity if I threw them around like some people do. I even defended the baby mannequins when another guy called them ugly babies.

I remember being like that even when I was little, I had stuffed animals and I would treat them like they were alive, I would get furiously upset, scream and fight and cry, if someone was being rough with them or pretending to hurt them. I was that way with animals too. Even back when I didn't want to have any babies of my own (when I was young) and didn't see what was cute or endearing about babies, I still felt an innate protectiveness towards them. I didn't really want to be around them, but I knew they had a claim on me. I knew they deserved my help and protection by the very fact that they existed. I didn't like the fact that they were sticky and stinky, but I would have died protecting them.

I would much rather be this way than any other. I dont want to change. I think Jesus is that way too- "A bruised reed he would not break, a smoldering flax he would not quench."

Why do people have to die? I will be very happy when they don't anymore. It's so horrible to think that human beings will be in hell - but I suppose they will have rejected the gift of humanity so completely by that time that they won't really be human beings anymore.

Its so good to know that Jesus will raise the dead, to never die, that people will be alive and protected, never to be attacked again.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Yesterday I went to the Safeway to withdraw some cash that I needed to pay some legal fees. I had to get a limited power of attorney (I thought) for my dad in order to get a police background check on him for his work in Korea. Apparently they need a notarized, apostille'd background check in order for him to continue working in the country.
There I was coming out of Safeway with my cash, walking through the parking lot, when I saw 2 bald guys in t-shirts guys walking in my general direction. One of them my gaydar registered immediately as a flaming sodomite, so I figured they were two specimens of that species together. Once they got within about 20 feet walking past me, I heard one (the flaming one) yell at the guy who I now realized he was following: "that's a nice round a** you've got, you're gonna be really popular in prison b****!" I shuddered @ first thinking this was some perverse mating ritual, but then the guy in pursuit yelled in his Michael Jackson lisping falsetto "CALL 911" at no one and everyone in the parking lot "CALL 911, HE HIT ME!" he continued making vile comments towards the guy he was following, who was attempting to walk quickly and quietly away as the flamer guy grabbed his shirt and tried to swing him around. The guy broke free and tried to hurry off as the sodomite remained in flaming hot pursuit.

In other circumstances I might have called the police. I figured that guy #2 probably did hit the gay guy, but it must have been pretty minor for him to keep following him like that-I saw no visible injuries - and with the gross commentary I really felt no compulsion to call 911, and apparently no one else did either, because when I looked back up from unlocking my car they were gone and everyone in the parking lot was going about their business.

So then I went downtown, where after a lot of confusing rigamarole, spending $50 to the county recorder's office and paying a hefty fine to the parking ramp attendant (I can hardly call 8.00/hr a parking fee, that's a fine in my book) I got the limited power of attorney. Then they told me that I didn't need a limited power of attorney to get a police b.g. check, I just needed to pay State Patrol 10 bucks and I'd get the report online. That sounded fishy to me so I asked the Sheriff's department in the city hall for a 2nd opinion, but they seconded the recorder's office. So I went home and did the online thing, which felt wierd and resulted in a very small and unofficial looking 1 page form.
So now I've got to actually go into the State Patrol office to try and get them to sign it or something. Then I've got to drive down to the State Capitol to get the apostille (which is like an international notarization)

So that was all very interesting.

Then I got home and Brandy & I watched "Sophie Scholl, the Final Days". It's in German, naturally, as it's a German film. It's about the last week of Sophie Scholl, a German College Student during the last days of the 3rd Reich who was secretly (via literature and graffiti) protesting the war, Hitler, the inhuman slaughter of the Jews and the handicapped; and calling for a student uprising to protest. Instead she and the rest of the protesting students (who formed a society called "The White Rose") with her on campus including her brother and close friends were arrested by the Gestapo. The movie chronicles the interrogations, how she handled them and answered them, and the quick mock trial and execution of her, her brother, and close friend by the german court for treason. It's a really great movie, you get to really feel for and admire Sophie and her brother for how they faced the challenge & fear. Sophie was a christian, they bring that up in the movie well. They show her praying in fear to God to help her not be afraid, and talking to her mother before her execution about trusting Jesus, and telling the interrogating Gestapo that they needed a new, different Germany, a Germany with Compassion, a Germany with God, and telling him that every human life is valuable & created in God's image so they don't have the right to take the lives of the handicapped.
Even Brandy cried, which surprised me. Usually I'm the one who cries during movies like that. I wondered if it might be because Sophie is a girl about Brandy's age, and most movies like that have a guy suffering and dying-it's probably easier for girls to empathise with girls in a situation like that.
I like (such an inept word - need would be better, but not quite sufficient either) watching movies like that. A few I recommend are:

The Mission,
The Hiding Place,
Sophie Scholl, the Final Days,
Beyond the Gates.

And Books:

Tortured for Christ,
The Saffron Robe,
Foxe's book of martyrs

In the 3rd and 4th century, there was a large portion of the Church (at least in N Africa) that idolized martyrs, called the Donatists. They would go to the graves of martyrs and pray there, sometimes TO the martyrs as a modern day catholic prays to saints, as a kind of intermediary - someone who had borne witness to Christ to the point of torture and death, they figured, would have clout to ask favors of Christ to make them likewise worthy.

That's not my kind of Martyr fixation, but I do believe there's something special about martyrdom. And considering what happened in Nazi Germany and WWII Europe over all, I'd say it's only a matter of time before the same thing happens on a larger, more intense & far-reaching scale. So I want to watch movies and read stories like that to keep the right frame of mind when the day comes that I & mine will have to face those circumstances. It will be important to know that we're not the first to be persecuted when the persecution and martyrdoms come, so that I can have strength to stand up for truth and justice for the opressed, to the point of Death. Those movies make me think and feel necessary things, they're like a jolt of caffeine for the soul, to jar me out of the trance of all the amenities and vanities of life as we know it here in the overfed, overentertained USA.

I got my tactical boots today. They fit well.
I'm reading Lilith, by George MacDonald, and understand it a lot better than I did 9 years ago when I read it last.

I had a fun conversation about literature with my co-workers Nathan and Rebecca. Nathan dislikes most C.S. Lewis except for 'Til We Have Faces and Surprised By Joy. Becky likes most of Lewis. I said I loved Lewis' writings but don't understand the point of having symposiums or writing books about Lewis' books. Becky disagreed with me, and went on to say that Mercedes Lackey was one of her favorite authors but is so no longer. We discussed feminism in literature, my annoyance and her defense. I said the way in modern fiction that women are always rescuing men stretches the limits of credibility. She said that the motif of the man rescuing the woman and stealing a kiss at the end stretches it equally. I disagreed, and disagree.

I'm also reading C.S. Lewis' "The Allegory of Love" charting the idea of romance and the value of romance in stories from the middle ages where it began. He makes a good case that it didn't exist as a motif before then, and since then it's become a fixture in our psyches.

I went to my 1st responder training this evening at the Red Cross. I'll be going to the 4 hr classes every tue. & thurs. for the next two months, paid for by my employer: SPU. We practiced "rescue breathing" (CPR style breathing) on mannequins-adult size, child size, and infant mannequins. It was wierd performing rescue operations on an infant mannequin especially, I kept on thinking: "what would this be like if it were real? If it were Enoch or something"?! that made it seem much more serious. I'm glad I'm taking these classes.

I guess that's long enough for now.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Acknowledge and connect, offer and receive
The Ruach Hakodesh.

The true worshipers worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.

I was reading a section in J Gresham Machen's "Christianity in the Modern World", in which he was explaining (in an attempt to counter a false perception as much alive today as in the 1930's when he wrote it) that Christianity can't be boiled down to a shared experience, off of which we build doctrine, but rather a doctrine, from which comes an experience. He used an interesting example: The Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus spoke to her about himself, the living water, and then addressed her situation with the statement about her having no husband. She responds by what seems to be a sidestepping of the issue (her own personal sin) with a doctrinal question-"Where are we supposed to worship? In Jerusalem, or Samaria?"
Machen points out that Jesus doesn't (like so many who want to share the gospel today) brush aside this "rabbit trail" and tell her "Never mind that, we'll deal with that after you've had an experience-let's focus on your sin and it's cure" - no, Jesus answers her doctrinal question with a direct answer, - a teaching about true worship. I appreciated that from Machen, I've never noticed that about Jesus' response to her before.

Later, Josiah asked to see "The REAL Jesus movie" (By which he means "The Gospel Of John" - by Visual Bible) so I put it on for him and sat down to watch. I really appreciate being able to listen to the whole gospel with visuals so I can put what's being said into context. As I watched it came to the part where Jesus is speaking to the Samaritan woman, where he says: "But the time is coming and is already here, when by the power of God's Spirit people will worship the Father as he really is, offering him the true worship that he wants. God is Spirit, and only by the power of his Spirit can people worship him as he really is." I think that's where the doctrine hits the road. When you hear something like that, you can either ask God to give you the power of His spirit to worship him truly, or you can ignore it and worship him falsely-or not at all. It's expressed so naturally, as a doctrine, but it needs to be experienced to be obeyed.

And gosh, God knows I need His Spirit to really worship Him! I know it doesn't come naturally, at all.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Interesting Dei.

On the way to work, I "talked" with a deaf guy who struck up a non-verbal conversation with me at the downtown bus stop in which I got to share my faith with him, then at work, I met Jen the student worker who watched old Battlestar Galactica episodes on her computer the entire day at dispatch while training me in (she also gave me a donut and a handful of pringles! Nice!). Ray,( who reminds me of Robert (Berto) Perez back in MN), came into the office sporting a ghetto fabulous wardrobe and commented on my shirt's new-looking-ness. Joe noticed Ray had gotten a haircut, upon which observation Ray removed his hat for a haircut inspection by us. I said it looked shorter, Ray followed up with a smile and the comment: "I hate white people". I educated him as to my heritage, and we got into a conversation about the jews, and my theory that a majority of the world's population has some sort of Jewish heritage somewhere (since they've been scattered through the whole world for the past 3000 years) then Ray & I got into a conversation about the books of Judges and 1 Samuel, which he'd just finished and I'm still reading through. We talked about our favorite judges and the messed up ending with the Levite who was a class-A hole to his concubine (Ray & I agreed) and the horrible benjamite nastiness which brought it out, the conflict between Benjamin & everybody else plus the ensuing slaughter on both sides and shenanigans in general by the rest of too compassionate (in my opinion) Israel to make sure the nasty tribe of benjamin continued to crawl the earth...bleah. I want to slap that Levite around every time I read that story. The Benjamites and him are what flamethrowers were created for.
Oh, and I ordered two pairs of tactical boots for work. Really cool ones. And processed quite a few applications for the Flexpasses that SPU gives out to FT employees (Think "Multipass", like in 5th element. I do.-that's one of my favorite parts of that movie, when He's trying to get them to believe that Lilu's his wife while she keeps holding up the card and repeating "Multi-pass!" with a beaming smile.)

Anyhoo... On the bus ride home I missed my first bus, witnessed a partial beat-down from a half a block away, (which was broken up by the time I got there) Got a call from my little brother, got lost on the bus system, found my way back, had a gay shirtless heavily-pierced guy at the bus stop prance around in front of me trying to elicit attention which I all to gladly and nauseously withheld, was subject to the bus stopping while the bus driver gave a first and last warning to the people in the back of the bus to stop smoking their ganja, (oh my goodness, I almost got a contact high-and then they had the nerve to deny it with straight faces!) and finally at about 10pm I made it home. Reading "Out of the Silent Planet" (for like the fifth time so far) helped me stay awake. I also read most of J Gresham Machen's "The Christian Faith in the Modern World" (written in the '30s, but perfect for today as well. I've come to the conviction that there are very few really good books out there, and tons and tons of books that are basically attempts to re-write something that an author of a preceding generation wrote with much more skill and inspiration, and then put a snazzy new cover to it and market it like a panacea. Machen's books I'm beginning to think belong in the realm of classics, along with C.S. Lewis & Francis Schaeffer.)

I've just noticed that I use a LOT of parentheses.

And further, I found it's becoming frighteningly easy to put off reading the actual Scriptures of God in favor of reading a book about the scriptures of God. When these moments of realization hit I'm confronted with the absurdity of my choice (why bother reading something that's only meant to enhance that which I'm avoiding?!) So I caved in to the Holy Spirit's influence on my reason and read Matthew 5-7

I read Matt 7:13-15 over and over until it sank in. It's been too long since that one sank in. I've read it a gazillion times, but not often have I read it and stared at it until it comes into mental focus.

If you prayed for me about the apartment's response, I bless you. And may the Lord bless you.

I just called our apartment manager back today at lunchtime, and she informed me (in a very kind voice no less!) that she had credited our account for THREE HUNDRED dollars! That's like 50 dollars more than what I invoiced them for! I told her they didn't have to do that, she said 'no, we're happy to, since you've done the work and all' WOW! That was the opposite of what I was expecting. I am happy. My heart is full of happy juice. A crap free deck and money in the bank! life doesn't get much better.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I spent the better half of yesterday "fixing" our deck.
For the past month, dog feces, dog urine, cigarette butts, ashes, and a mysterious white slime have been dripping on our deck from the people upstairs. After I asked, they scraped the actual piles of crap off their deck, but enough fecal matter and urine were still crusted in the cracks for swarms of flies to want to make OUR deck their home. We've not been able to go out on our deck for the past month because of this, and I've talked to the management 3 times about it. The first time they sent someone out to power wash it, the second time they said they were going to power wash the upstairs neighbor's deck as well but didn't, and we were still left with a stank-nasty unuseable deck. Brandy convinced me to buy a kiddie pool to put out there after she said she cleaned it off and it hadn't rained for a couple days. The kids played in it, came in smelling like dog piss, and in the morning there were ashes floating in the pool. So for the third time I went to the management and asked them to provide a permanent solution, or let me put up some sort of barrier and reimburse me. They said OK to option #2, so I went to Lowe's and went to town. A very kind brother in the lord let me borrow his truck for the day while I worked on the project, and when the day was done, we had a very decent looking second roof made of corrugated polycarbonate sheeting. All for the low low price of 250.00. I wrapped the receipt up in a letter detailing what I expected them to reimburse me and options for reimbursement. Brandy delivered it this morning (she said the woman at the desk didn't look very happy at the figure, apparently she thought I was just going to drape a tarp over our deck to loosely funnel the excess piss towards the edge of the deck. I have a missed call from her on my cell, but aside from the cordless drill that I bought to finish the project, I'm committed to making them pay for it all. They agreed to it beforehand, they haven't done anything effective despite my repeated requests, since they haven't done anything, my kids have been exposed to animal waste, and the deck smells like it, so does the area of the carpet directly in front of the deck door, and really, I could have charged them for labor! It took me half a day to finish! That's not my favorite way of spending my day off.
So, if you could spend five minutes and pray that they would see reason and reimburse me for the whole thing without any trouble, that would be great.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Last night I finished "Evil and the Justice of God" (by N.T. Wright). It was an attempt to explain the relationship between..evil...and God's Justice... which I guess anyone could tell from the title. Basically a response to the old question: "If there was a Good God, why does he allow evil, he can't do anything about it, and therefore he's NOT all powerful, or he won't do anything about it, in which case he might as well be the devil". He does pretty well, I think, focusing mainly on what God HAS been doing about evil throughout history, through Israel, and especially through Jesus' death on the cross, and His Resurrection, guaranteeing the final realization of a New Creation that is free from evil. And what we as Christians are empowered and commissioned to do about evil in the meantime, looking forward to that New Creation as its creatures and living it out in anticipation here and now. One of the ways he highlights that we are to be doing this is forgiveness. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

"Forgiveness doesn't mean 'I didn't really mind' or 'it didn't really matter'. I did mind and it did matter, otherwise there wouldn't be anything to forgive at all, merely something to adjust my attitudes about'...'Nor is forgiveness the same as saying, 'Let's pretend it didn't really happen.' This is a little trickier because part of the point of forgiveness is that I am committing myself to work towards the point where I can behave as if it hadn't happened. But it did happen, and forgiveness itself isn't pretending that it didn't; forgiveness is looking hard at the fact that it did and making a conscious choice-a decision of the moral will-to set it aside so that it doesn't come as a barrier between us. In other words, forgiveness presupposes that the thing which happened was indeed evil and cannot simply be put aside as irrelevant."

And on Art, as a means by which we can educate our imaginations so they are able to anticipate the fulfullment of God's new creation in the future:

"Art at its best not only draws attention to the way things are but to the way things are meant to be, and by God's grace to the way things one day will be, when the earth is filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the the world already seen in advance in the resurrection of Jesus, to the world whose charter of freedom was won when He died on the cross. It is by such means as this that we may learn again to imagine a world without evil and to work for that world to become, in whatever measure we can, a reality even in the midst of the present evil age"

Saturday, June 28, 2008

It's been a long time.

Today I did pretty much nothing.  Nothing productive, anyway.  Brandy & I watched about 10 episodes of Saiunkoku, afterward I researched for far too long to see if there was a third season coming out and if Shuurei marries Seiran like I hope she does.  I read a couple chapters of N.T. Wright's "Evil & the Justice of God" and G.K. Chesterton's "Everlasting Man" (which I started and got 3/4 of the way through a couple months ago only to put aside until now) Watched the 2nd half of Visual Bible's "Gospel of John" with Josiah, layed around a LOT, ate pizza, wrestled with Josiah & Jaelle, watched the kids, tried to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and got halfway through before I realised we had no peanut butter, and talked with Brandy about this general feeling I've been having.

Do you ever feel like there's something you should be doing, something that matters, but you can't really put a finger on it?  Not necessarily something you knew you were going to do and forgot, more like something you know you should know, if only you knew how to find out.  Oftentimes even at work I feel that way.  As if 99% of what I do in any given day (even work) is recreation, and like I'm missing this whole other plane of accomplishing.  Almost like I've forgotten to go to work, but I don't know that I'm employed.  I try to do things that I know I should do, like take out the garbage, and pay bills, and read my bible, but it's not any of those-even they feel like recreation, like "my time".  
It feels like I'm missing the Necessary, the Thing that Matters.  I've decided it must be the will of God.  I need to seek the will of God.   Not for a "big" thing, but just for all my vacuous hours, when I'm laying around the house, or reading, or working, or whatever, it's like another layer that needs to be superimposed over normal life and reorder it.
I wish sometimes that it were a list that could print off every day, that I could check it off, get it done, and not have this feeling afterwards.  But it's not like that.  These things, the will of God, seems to be scattered all throughout the day, so I can't just set aside some time for it-because I never know what it will be or when.  I just know I need to figure out what it is.