Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Simple Pleasures

I’m sitting at work and there is currently a thunderstorm brewing outside, and I really love thunderstorms. So I decided to write an entry about the simple things in life that really make me happy. So here are my top five (top as in off the top of my head…well not literally) simple pleasures.

1) Thunderstorms
I’ve always loved them from my earliest memories. I love watching them because I think about how amazing God’s creation is, and lightning makes me think about His power…it really gets me pumped when there is a large crash close to me.

2) Basketball
Basketball wasn’t my first love, but man it has been the most passionate…obviously I’m referring specifically to love for a sport. While I rarely get a chance to play, when I do just walking on the court gets me so excited. I love just the feeling of being on the court…honestly I’m more confident in myself when I walk on a court than anywhere else (including meetings about my research…the one thing I spend 90% of my time on).

3) The Fall (not the biblical fall but the season)
Just in general it is the perfect time of year. If you want to go running or playing any kind of sport outside it is at the right temperature. If you are hanging out you can where shorts and a sweatshirt and feel totally comfortable. Not to mention the changing of the leaves, this makes for an awesome run in the woods. Oh how can we forget that it is football season and you can go to the cider mill…man this one is starting to get me a little excited.

4) Smell of a spring rain
Oh yeah, that smell when a warm rain comes down. It just screams of life and rebirth. Everything about it is just awesome.

5) BBQ’s
Now I don’t like to cook, but if you give me meat, flame, and a beer I’m all over the cooking. I don’t know why but just hanging out cooking a piece of meat over a flame really is cool…seriously it is.

There are numerous other items that come to my mind, but in the spirit of just listing the ones that were off the top of my head I will stop.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


I was driving to watch the Pistons play this evening (man what is wrong with them), and I spotted a bumper sticker that read “celebrate diversity.” I wasn’t going to write anything about it because being a Christian, white male it is difficult to criticize such a statement without being labeled a bigot. Then I got back home and decided what the heck I’ll give it a shot.

Now I have no problem with diversity, but diversity by itself doesn’t make for a better community. Anyone that disagrees with me is probably only thinking of the horrible acts of bigotry from the past. If diversity equals a better community then it would be important to recruit rapists, murderers, and child molesters (not to mention racists) for the university. Certainly if I said this to the person that has the bumper sticker than they would respond with something along the lines of that isn’t the kind of diversity I was talking about. So I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, and will even make an assumption about what the kind of diversity they want to promote…homosexuality (I’m assuming this because it was written in rainbow colors).

Before I say anything I want to make it clear that I do not include a homosexual in the same category as the argument I made above, and I would welcome them into any group that I’m involved with. Now if someone is non-Christian I have no right to say anything about what they chose to do (1 Corinthians 5:12-13), but I do object to those within the church that would try to say it is alright (while it makes no difference to me personally, scripture is quite clear that homosexuality is a sin). This then brings up the question of why Christians would push for laws that promote our beliefs. Well any Christian that has really tried to follow the law given in Scripture knows that it is given for our good. That means following it will lead to the happiest possible life here on earth. Obviously as concerned citizens and as voters we’ll promote laws that, in our eyes, will be best for society. Besides I would expect any non-Christian to support laws that promote their own beliefs.

As for the hot button topic of late (gay marriage), my objection to this has gotten me a meeting with the vice president of student affairs here at UofM. She had written a letter to the newspaper stating that in order to promote diversity and tolerance we had to come together as a university and fight the law that was passed in Michigan denying gay marriage. I wrote here personally to point out that what she was promoting was the complete opposite of diversity…she wanted everyone in the university to agree with her to promote diversity (either I don’t understand that word or what she was stating is the complete opposite). I also talked about how to say it is discrimination to not allow gay marriage is just flat out false. What they are actually requesting are special privileges offered to married couples (in the eyes of the state that is all marriage is…it isn’t a bond in the eyes of God to them). If they wish to fight discrimination then work to take away those special privileges, otherwise I might as well say if they got it than they are discriminating against me, a single. I do wish to add that I had the meeting with the VP and it was really a pleasant talk…she apologized for not conveying her intended message more clearly, and we talked openly about numerous personal topics including race, abortion, faith, homosexuality, and job ethics. I walked away with much respect for her even though we certainly don’t see eye to eye on every subject.

Now even though I’ve stated that diversity isn’t necessarily a good thing, I do believe in certain cases it is advantageous. For instance if two equally qualified candidates are trying to get into UofM, but one is from a minority group then I say the minority individual offers more to the university and should be accepted. That person offers more because they would have a higher potential of offering a unique perspective on life. All I’m really trying to say here is that (1) diversity doesn’t equal an improved society, and (2) that while we need to love the person we don’t have to agree or support their agenda (I can be friends with a homosexual, but I will not support their agenda that contradicts my beliefs).

I’m really quite nervous about posting this because I’m afraid I haven’t been clear enough and will be conveying something I didn’t intend…if that happens I’m blaming it all on Sherry who has been pushing me to post something. I would have posted something lighthearted but all my ideas have been about serious stuff.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


So in my entry entitled “Why do I do research?” I talked about the 1% of research that really makes someone want to do it. Well tonight the eureka of science hit…I’m probably over playing this because we didn’t discover anything new, but we had success with something that’s been really troubling us. All the work and trouble that has been bothering me has been with respect to getting an image of dots…seriously. I wanted so desperately to get a picture that was nearly entirely black with small white dots.

I had hoped to have this image in February, but for numerous reasons I really didn’t even start trying to get it until a few weeks ago. As of this morning we were no where close to getting it…my estimate was that we might have it by middle of next week. Then after dinner I went back to the lab and spent a little time with the system and got something that looked pretty good…I then called Sherry since she knows more about it than me. She came down and confirmed that my images looked good. We then decided to go for the mother of all white dot pictures (I’ll spare you the details that make this difficult and special of a picture). Even before we started we both agreed that we won’t be disappointed if we failed…since we should be excited that I finally got something decent. Well in only a little while we had done it…the joy was so great that we really couldn’t believe that it happened. Not only had we got it, but it went so smoothly after being able to get nothing for so, so long.

Now I get a chance to bring home my point about how it can be so difficult to do research. Right now is one of those very rare moments when things work and you can celebrate, but like I had said thanks to the nature of research you can’t even truly share joy or sorrow with anyone. Below I’ve attached the picture that gave Sherry and I overwhelming excitement…no one else on this planet (excluding our research team) should get excited when they see this picture. Man it is tough being a nerd…but I am what I am.

Little White Dots of Joy (actual contrast is much better)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


This afternoonI was talking with my advisor and he mentioned that he would have to go to a conference in Amsterdam. This led into a conversation about how marijuana is available there. So I guess while I paid no attention to the conversation it must’ve had an impacted on me because it had me thinking about weed while driving home this evening.

From this train of thought I decided to write an entry on the chronic. I was thinking of two stories related to it. The one is kind of a sentimental story, and the other is a funny story. Based on my mood I have to go with the funny story here. Now I have never smoked marijuana, but I’ve been around it quite a bit. As a result no one has ever really believed me that I’ve never done it. It also didn’t help that while I was in high school my behavior kind of mimicked that of the class stoners…this is the story that I was thinking of.

Basically every morning I would get up really late for school, put in my contacts, and speed off to school. Since my eyes were dry the contacts would hurt really bad giving me bloodshot eyes (strong indicator of a weed smoker). Then I would arrive just after the last bell would ring (I was tardy to class every single day, but my coach was the teacher and if he gave me a seventh hour I won’t be able to practice), and would walk into the school with all the stoners that were smoking in the parking lot. They would even say as I was walking in “hey man why don’t you just smoke with us in the morning.” To which I would reply, “no my eyes are bloodshot because of my contacts,” and their response would be “ha ha, yeah us too…our contacts are dry.” I would then head to class, walk in late, put my head on the desk, and take a short nap. I did this basic routine for my entire junior and senior years.

While I believe my close friends always knew I really didn’t, I certainly think this caused some of my acquaintances to wonder if I was a stoner. At the time I really didn’t care what people thought so I didn’t make any big attempt to clarify the fact that I didn’t smoke. In fact I think due to my odd sense of humor I kind of enjoyed the misunderstanding…I really enjoy ironical situations. Even today I this can give me a good chuckle while thinking about it.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Summer 2004

On Thursday evening I got a call from my buddy Anthony letting me know he was in Columbus for the weekend. He came up from North Carolina to visit our friends Kristy and Carla (sorry I don’t have a picture of them). So of coarse I had to take this opportunity to hangout with him. It was so much fun hanging out with them playing basketball, tennis (Kristy and Carla won a match but Ant and I still hold the series lead), and eating.

Anthony and I playing our guitars

I met Anthony during the summer I worked for NASA’s Langley Research Center. He was my roommate, and we became good friends real quick. I didn’t expect to really meet anyone during that summer that I would get along with (I was expecting unathletic, non-Christian nerds), but man I couldn’t have been more wrong. The first day Anthony and I hit the basketball courts and dominated them…I knew it was going to be a fun summer when I found out he played division 1 ball, and he said the same thing the first day when I dunked on a guy that told me not to try anything and he won’t embarrass me. Plus since he was Christian we were able to discuss our faith and various Christians issues…seriously I couldn’t have asked for a better roommate. In addition to Ant, I was also able to meet several other people that I became friends with and still stay in contact with.

Mary looking cool

Mary and I became pretty close just hanging out and playing guitar together, but when we decided to read the Purpose Driven Life together our friendship really matured. I actually wasn’t a big fan of the book, but going through it gave us an opportunity to share our beliefs and various trials that we were going through. I got a chance to talk with her briefly this weekend after she graduated from Elon University…Congrats Mary!

Rock and Roll being attacked by a giant lobster...we've all been there.

Another guy I lived with was Zach…now this guy is just plain and simply the man. That will be the only time I refer to him by that name because the only name that properly suites him is Rock and Roll. Rock and Roll would plug his guitar into the amp and just let out pure rock…he just couldn’t help shredding his guitar. Besides being the rockingest guy I know…he is also wick smart. When I met him he was just finishing up his bachelor at Duke, and now he is at Stanford getting his masters. The only sad news from him is that from what I hear there is little rocking currently taking place...grad school will do that to you.

Julianna and I at the final banquet

Finally we have Julianna…she cracked everyone up. Now Rock and Roll was certainly the rockingest guy around, but Julianna would give him a run for his money. She would come over to our apartment, pick up the guitar, turn up the amp, and just go to town on whatever came to her mind. Plus she was Ant and my cheerleader during the greatest beer pong winning streak in the history of mankind (this is an unofficial title). Now she works for NASA on the launch pad at Cape Kennedy.

I wish we would be able to hangout more, but sometimes that just isn’t the way it works out. Instead I just have to enjoy whatever time I do get with them.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


When I started this blog I said that I wanted to be more proactive in my procrastination. Well it is about 5pm and I should be working but lack motivation...therefore I should write a post. In just over 4 weeks I will be heading down to Memphis to conduct this research experiment that will hopefully produce the bulk of the the data I'll need to get my PhD. Unfortunately the preparation for this test hasn't been all that great, and since I'm the manager I feel quite stressed and a little guilty. It has become all too apparent to myself that I won't be able to get the work done in time for the start of the test. This has an even worse affect on me because when I don't think I can do everything the right way I really don't want to do anything...hence the reason I'm writing a blog instead of mastering particle image velocimetry.

Me working hard...I don't know why but my desk is actually clean (photo by Sherry)

Every once in awhile I have thoughts about the possibility of having this experiment completely bomb, and the result would be basically me starting over my PhD. So instead of being done in a year or two I would have like another 4 years or so. Even though these panic thoughts hit me from time to time, I know that we will pull this off. While I think I'm not that good with preparation (at least for a large scale project like this), I am quite confident that when I'm running the experiment we will get good data (I don't have a great answer why I feel this...I just do). Even though this is going to be 13 weeks of 16 hour days, I'm really actually looking forward to getting it started because once it begins we actually start accomplishing real goals. I suppose this is the result of my competitive nature and my love of being the underdog.

Well since I'm not getting any work done I suppose I should go running. I hate running, but I love the results of running. (1) When I stop running I feel great, (2) it helps me work on self discipline since every single step I want to stop, (3) gives me time to think, and (4) this is my God time (I run in the woods, and I don't see how anyone can be out in nature and not know that God is there with you). So I'm out...I would have to say this is the least organized post I've written to date.

Side Note: I've found it quite interesting that my conversation on the shape of blue to be more controversial than evolution. However the evolution post has certainly increased my readership. Normally I have about 10 visitors per day, but since I posted that one I’ve had over 70 new readers.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Evolution Debate

This past Sunday I was having a “family” dinner with some of my friends, and we were watching the Simpsons while eating. I’m a big fan of the Simpsons, but I do not like the way that they portray Christians. This particular episode was on evolution and basically they had the Christians “ignorantly” protesting the teaching of evolution in schools. Now I actually enjoy arguing against evolution, but typically I won’t start the debate since the majority of people simply don’t care. Then tonight on my way home from the lab I was thinking about it and decided I should write a blog about it.

My first thought was to point out all the weaknesses in the evolutionary theory, but then I talked myself out of it because it isn’t fair to ridicule a theory without some one offering a counterpoint. Then I thought I should point out the strong case for intelligent design (e.g. irreducible complexity...I highly recommend Darwin's Black Box by Michael Behe), but I talked myself out of this because I simply haven’t read anything on it in over a year. So the arguments are quite foggy in my head, and I won’t be able to do them justice. As a result I decided to approach this from a more universal point.

People argue that the “fact” of evolution should be taught in school or that intelligent design should also be taught along side evolution. I would like to present a different question: why should either be taught to grade or high school students? They say evolution (I’m referring to Neo-Darwnism macro evolution) is a scientific fact, but it has never and will never be observed in nature or the lab. Micro-evolution (small variations between generations within a given species) is a fact, but it in no way proves macro-evolution…in fact one might say designing something to be able to adapt to its environment supports the theory of a designer. Now all I’m saying is that evolution is only a theory and that it should be left out of schools because it is only a theory. It is in no way comparable to the scientific fact of gravity, which has been observed both in nature and the laboratory. So I say why don’t we just teach the youth of America the facts of science that we know, and leave the theories to academia. I don’t see it likely that any theory about how polymer additives reduce drag in pipes will be presented in high school (this is the research I work on and the phenomena is a well established fact, but the mechanism of how it works is still theory), but the scientific community insists on teaching the theory of evolution…why? So don’t teach evolution or intelligent design…teach them science and the ability to think objectively.

Another interesting point to me is that this is being pushed so hard into schools in spite of the fact that only 15% of Americans believe it…seriously check out this CBS News report from 2005. 51% say that God made us the way we are right now and another 30% say that we evolved but with the guidance of God (I won’t but I can show how weak this stance is…perhaps another time and place). The reality is that those that believe evolution treat it as a religion and force it on others under the guise of science (as someone who loves science this really frustrates me). I am happy to see that they aren’t hiding it as much anymore…why else would they start putting their Darwin fish on their cars other than to be like Christians and proclaim their faith.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Is Blue Square or Round?

In honor of Tommie (aka VinnyL, Moses, T tha Dream) I shall write a short entry that he shall fully appreciate. For those that don't know Tommie, he is one of those guys that if a romp were taking place you could see in his eyes that he is a man that would do anything.

I shall start with the question that has plagued mankind for half of an eternity…is blue round or square? Now we all know that yellow is round (and drinkable as Tommie himself has proven…this is a true credit to him and I encourage everyone to look into yellow elephant) and red is square, but what is blue. Now it has been purported that blue is in fact a square with rounded edges…I say that is in fact simply avoiding the real question and offers no intellectual understanding. In my opinion blue has no choice but to be round…how else can you explain a blue moon. While I’m not an expert by any means on the shapes of colors I do not believe that I am an intellectual moron…these are questions of intuition that every intelligent individual must agree upon. However I shall offer further evidence for my case for the few that might claim that blue was in deed square…I point to the sky and it testifies to the validity of my statement…if blue were square you would certainly see sharp edges in the sky…I challenge you to find me one. Not to mention the blueness of the water that surrounds us…show me square water and I will show you water that longs to be freed.

Conclusion…Blue is Round!!!

(for those that feel that you just completely wasted five minutes of your life...I may offer some explanation in my next never know)

Friday, May 12, 2006


I’m currently reading Paul Brand’s The Gift of Pain, which I selected as a change from all the C.S. Lewis I’ve been reading. I’ve only read one other book by Brand, but I really love the stuff he writes. He simply presents the human body in all its glory, which in turns brings to light numerous truths…the other book I read, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, relates human body parts to the various parts of the Body of Christ.

Anyway, I’m about half way through the current book and the entire book so far has been describing how pain works the result of painlessness…which is the true problem that cripples lepers. One of the interesting things is that Brand explains how pain signals are constantly being sent to the brain, but in the subconscious a decision is made whether to listen to it or not. An example is when you sit in a first you feel fine, but if you don’t move you start to listen to the subtle messages saying to move. If you don’t move the signal will become stronger and stronger. What makes this interesting is that the brain actually gets to “decide” if something is painful or not. As a result if someone is really focused on something the pain messages will be ignored…Brand said that he can tell if his lectures are boring by how often the audience readjusts in their seats.

I told you this because while I’ve been thinking about pain a short story from my youth came to mind. It was the first time I shaved…I was probably about 4 or 5 years old. I had watched my dad shave in the mornings and thought for some reason you take this device and rub it all over your face each day. So one day while I was taking a bath I decided I should do this. I was playing in the tub and getting my “shaving” done when all of a sudden I noticed the bath water was really red. Then after a few confusing moments I figured out the red water was the result of numerous cuts on my face. I immediately started to scream, my mom came and got me, and then I spent the rest of night laying next to my dad while he held a towel on my face to stop the bleeding.

What made me think of this story was that I never felt a thing while slicing up my face because I was focused on having some fun in the bath tub. Once I realized I was bleeding my focus was put on the cuts, and man it didn’t feel good anymore. The body is a funny and marvelous thing.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Troy and Free

So the church I'm a part of in Ann Arbor, New Life Church, is currently sending some of its staff and members to East Lansing to help get a campus ministry going on MSU's campus. Of the people taking this huge step in faith are two close friends that are/were on staff with New Life. While both these guys have helped get me involved in the church, and I admire them both for their faith, they certainly are two different men. We are the Body of Christ and they are certainly two different parts of the body. Yet together they will make quite the asset for getting the campus ministry going. It is really hard to believe that they both came to Michigan as nonbelievers, while in Ann Arbor accepted Christ as their Savior, dedicated their lives to the work of the Church, and are now heading out to a new campus to expand the Kingdom.


Troy and I met at the start of the fall 2004 semester. I was in search of a church in Ann Arbor that I could get involved with, and New Life really fit the mold of what I was looking for. It is a church that doesn't bend when it comes to scripture, dedicated to introducing college students to Christ, and completely welcoming to anyone that is interested. However I wasn't sure if I would fit in, but Troy immeditately invited me to join his Small Group/Bible Study. I quickly saw that Troy was an exceptional man. Three words come to mind when I think of Troy; humble, loving, and honest. If I'm being honest, before meeting Troy it had been probably since grade school that I took anyones advice on my faith. I was pretty sure I had learned all I needed and could work on learning to listen to God's voice. Troy, without even trying, gave me tons of intruction. His humility told me that he wasn't trying to show how he was better than me, his loving nature assured me that he really only wanted the best for me, and his honesty helped me open up to him. I latter had the pleasure of leading the group with Troy, which allowed me to recieve direct instruction from him on my leadership skills...thanks Troy, you can't be replaced.

John Freeman

John is a pastor at New Life, but you will not hear anyone call him pastor Freeman, John, Freeman, but simply Free. What I quickly learned is that there couldn't be a more fitting name for him. He is both free from the pointless constraints of this world and basking in the freedom that Christ offers through the cross. While he seems a bit wild for a pastor (even a campus pastor), he is totally serious about the things that truly matter in the world (his wife and family, tending to the believers he has been entrusted with, and seeking opportunities to spread the Gospel). I never really got to know him until last summer when I began leading the Small Group while Troy was in Florida. Each week we would have lunch once, meet in a large group for discipliship, and usually get together to watch the Pistons or something fun. During this time I gained a lot of respect for Free and came to think of him as a friend.

These two men have really been a core component of our Off Campus ministry at New Life, and their absence will be impossible to replace. However I certainly know that they are doing the right thing leaving the church because they both were called by God (basically against their own wills). I was fortunate to have been instructed by these two, and blessed to have become their friends. I look forward to seeing how they will be used to change MSU's campus, and East Lansing isn't too far.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


Last night I had the pleasure of getting together with some old friends from my undergrad. There were so many reasons for us to celebrate (Joe’s birthday, Cinco de Mayo, Patrick O’Neill’s graduation, Matt being back in town) that we just had to get together (well Joe couldn’t make it but we called him plenty). Three of my former roommates were able to make it (Nic, Matt, and Stacy – pictured below).

Nic, Matt, Stacy, and Me at the Sharks Club in Waterford

It really felt like I just went back in time to when we all lived together out in Kalamazoo. It is so nice to have friends that even though you don’t get to talk or see them very often when you finally get to spent time with them it is as if you’ve never missed a step. It is hard for me to decide how I should write this because I’m making the assumption that not too many people will read it that are a part of this group. I want to just reminisce about the places we went and the people I saw, but I don’t see much point in that. Instead I think I’ll just take this opportunity to introduce my faithful readers to my roommates from North Campus Village. Since Joe wasn’t in the above picture I have to add another picture below that has Joe in it (along with Iben, Hank, and Fender – our guitars).

Me (holding Iben), Nic (holding Hank), and Joe (holding Fender)
This was such a great group to have lived with. Now there certainly were our problems, but we really acted more like a family than just a group of friends living together. While the time I lived there was the busiest year of college, I really can’t think of a time that was more enjoyable. We started off the year with a party (read Blood and Pepper for some details), went through the school year hanging out all the time, and then had a blast over the summer. The absolute best part was that nearly every night all of us guys (Nic, Joe, Matt, and myself) would just sit around and play our guitars for hours. Now I’m not that good, but when you have others that can really play including Nic Weatherly of the Weatherly Band playing you actually can sound good. I guess so I don’t just ramble through this post I’ll just give you my favorite memory for each of these guys from this period.

There are two memories that come to mind for him. One is when he was writing a new song, Cloud Nine, and as soon as he finished it he shared it with me. It was such an honor because he put so much of himself into that song and then to want to share it with me as soon as it was complete really was awesome. The other is how he would come in my bedroom at random times in the night, sit on my bench, and we would just talk about whatever was on his mind. The talks were some times about how excited he was about something or about problems, but either way I was glad to trade the sleep for the honor of sharing in my friends joy and sorrow.

Well there are a lot of stories that come to mind, but from the house it would have to be him deciding to get Shaq, an Australian shepherd dog. While Shaq did all kinds of annoying things (replacing our alarms with his barking and using my room as his own personal toilet), our entire house really loved Shaq. The best thing is that thanks to this dog Matt’s first born son won’t have to be named Shaq (Shaq O’Neill).

Oh it would have to be pickle juice and wings. Joe and I liked to play darts and one night while finishing off a large jar of pickles we were playing some cricket. For whatever reason Joe dared me to drink the rest of the pickle juice (about half a gallon), and said that he would buy me 10 B-dub wings if I did it. I made it about half way and had to tap out. I then told him if he could finish the rest I would buy him 10 wings. Well he took it down like a champ…I was impressed. The following week we went to B-dubs to payoff my debt to him. Even though I had dinner already I decided to get 20 wild wings (I just love them so much and it was 30cent wing night). I finished those and said I could eat another 20 wings easily. The deal was they’ll buy half if I can eat them all…I said lets do this. I flew through those wings and still had room. I then said I could eat another 20 wings. Everyone we were with started offering money for the next 20, and after some twisting of my arm I went for it. This time in hopes of beating me they got extra wild sauce that they added to my wings. I made it through the first 10 easily, but the last 10 was a real struggle. However I was able to get down all 60 wings…this maybe my greatest accomplishment to date. I went home that night feeling a little drunk even though I didn’t drink any alcohol…yeah I got drunk on wings.

My favorite memory of Stacy is just how she has an amazing ability to loss her stuff. Nearly everyday you could count on her walking out the door for work, waiting a couple minutes, and then her running back in the apartment looking for something. Typically it was more a question of just how many times she would return. She really cracked me up and I loved hanging out watching Law and Order with her (none of the other roommates would watch it, but her and I would watch it together).

Well now everyone has met these wonderful friends of mine…I miss them and love that we were able to have some fun together like old times.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


I wrote this post sometime last week, but I didn’t post it because I wanted to wait until I had written out my thoughts on each of these topics. However I started to write the first follow up and realized that they would be way too long to post. Maybe I will just write them and give links to my opinions on each topic some time in the future. Either way I figured I would still post this one since it is only an intro to something that’s been on my mind for the past couple years. I warn you that this post doesn’t have much to do with my life, but is only some thoughts that I’ve wanted to get down on paper.

So over the past several years I have enjoyed studying Christian apologetics as well as plenty of reading on Christianity in general. My top recommended authors are C.S. Lewis (general), John Eldredge (man’s heart), Lee Strobel (intro to Christian apologetics), Paul Brand (pain and beauty of God’s creation), Philip Yancey (Grace and suffering), and Michael Behe (intelligent design). I was fortunate enough to be raised in a church where your faith was something that you were expected to think about. I’ll never forget when my pastor told me that he was human and could be wrong so when he teaches us something it was our job to make sure that it was consistent with the teachings of the Bible. To a 10 year old boy an adult telling you that it is your responsibility to correct errors by them is pretty exciting. I took this challenge serious and whenever he said something that I wasn’t absolutely sure was consistent I would look into it and try to challenge his statements. This had three major effects on my life: (1) it resulted in me obtaining an intimate knowledge of what the Bible says, (2) it brought to light doubts that I had inside and forced me to take an honest look at them, and (3) it made my faith my own at a young age…I was not spoon feed knowledge that was suppose to be taken at face value. I saw the reality (of coarse I didn’t and still don’t understand it fully) of Christianity.

Now as I’ve grown and matured in my faith I have been more honest with myself and perhaps “critical” of Christianity. Don’t misunderstand “critical” here…what I mean is that I’m so sure of the reality of Christianity that I try to find tough questions that may disprove Christianity. This way I can dig out potential stumbling blocks for others as well as strengthen my own faith as I search of understanding. With my attempts to disprove Christianity I have settled on four levels at which it can be argued against. They are as follows…

1) Why have a god at all? (Atheism vs. Theism)
2) Why can’t there be multiple gods? (Monotheism vs. Polytheism)
3) Is Christianity consistent with the world around us? (Christianity vs. Science)
4) Is Christianity consistent with itself? (Christianity vs. Christianity)

Each of these questions are formed from some basic claim that Christianity makes. (1) Well His name is “I AM”…so we have to back that up. (2) Our claim is not only that a living god exists, but that he is the one and only God that can grant us eternal life in heaven. (3) According to Christianity we are intimately linked with God’s creation. Thus we would expect both our beliefs and our perception of reality to be linked, and that is what we call science (man’s perception of reality from his/her senses). (4) Well this is somewhat obvious…if Christianity made mutually exclusive claims about itself then we would have to conclude that it is non-rational and should be ignored.

As stated above, I won’t be writing a hundred pages explaining my views on each of these questions, but in the future I hope to at least give you links to my thoughts. For now I simply want to point out that if someone wants to argue against Christianity they have to attack at one of these points. Quite often when I’ve gotten into a discussion with someone that wants to refute Christianity the lack of focus in the discussion typically prevents any real explanation to be made of any topic. So my one suggestion here is to try not to answer too many questions if you are in this situation and if you are the one challenging then try to really focus your question (if you have a solid case then limiting the conversation will only make your point clearer to the Christian).

So now that I’ve written this I wonder why anyone would want to read it…not to mention that this seems more like advice then a blog. People don’t read blogs to be given advice. They read to find out weird/interesting details about their friends lives that won’t normally come up in conversation. Then I decided that the only solution to this dilemma is to point out one simply fact…it’s my blog and I’ll post what I want.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Inner Rings

For those that don’t know I’m stealing the title from the annual “Commemoration Oration” given at King’s College by C.S. Lewis in 1944 (later published in The Weight of Glory). The idea of inner rings has really been on my mind lately. I’ll make an attempt to explain in a few words what is meant by inner ring, but for a thorough understanding of what I’m talking about read Lewis’s conclusion to his space trilogy, That Hideous Strength. Basically I think it can be best explained by focusing on the typical high school setting. Within the high school there is say a quarter of the students that might be referred to as the “cool kids.” They are an inner ring, however even within that group there exists smaller even more elite groups. So the way to picture it is concentric rings like an onion cut in half. While my example makes it sound like inner rings are bad, I’m not thinking of the elitist type of groups for this blog, but more the your “best friends” that form your own personal innermost ring. These groups may have a positive or negative effect on you, but either way I find it quite fascinating how they form and what they are like. Lewis wrote/spoke on it mainly because he saw it as the primary way in which the world will affect your walk with Christ.

At every stage of my life I can pretty easily narrow my friends down to a handful that would form my innermost ring. In high school I had the 4-bangers, during my undergrad the Waterford guys (and a Pigeon), during the summer was the BBM crew, while working for NASA the Poor Souls, and now in grad school the OC. What really makes these groups an inner ring is that each one has its own language or key words that will let those within it know that you belong. This is so true with friends…just pay attention when you are hanging out with a friend and you feel comfortable with them, but then their “best friend” shows up. They immediately start talking in some kind of foreign language and suddenly you feel like you totally don’t belong with that person anymore.

Now I’ll make my point really clear…for each group I’ll just list words. If you are a part of that inner ring or at least that part of my life it will make some sense or possibly bring to mind numerous stories. However any ring that you weren’t a part of the words will just seem like gibberish or at best pointless.

Mohair, Beast, Black Velvet, Ron Style, Grande Marqi, cloves, the shed, po-po hunting, pregame subs, tip 21 w/ rum, warehouse ball, Hacker, 40 in 4-4-1, gummy worms

Waterford Boys
Tabasco, Shaq, 60 wings, Blitz, Chavez, mini-kegs, trickass, chaches, the Gathering, Taco Bell, Ben and Jerry’s, Good Ass Dave, 3am talks, goldfish, Miller Lite, kiss of the cross, come here girl I’ll hold you close, taquilla, Eldora, Beav, Hank, Lawrence, Iben, Fender

BBM Crew
Tucson, Boring Oregon, DJW, JB, honey wagon, Elmer, the rock game, Ann Landers, Lucky, Rascal, chocolate, icy wing, Oh did ja now?, 2lb steak, hiking at night, waders, sexual harassment notification, fishing

Poor Souls
Rock N’ Roll, sleep, highway, movies, enjoy yourself, tennis, Sunday church, rocket sled thing, drop tower, autonomous vehicle

Now this group being that it is current I can’t really do the same thing with. In fact out of all the groups I believe this one is truly the least defined ring. It actually shows the full complexity that makes the inner ring hard to define (even for Lewis). See OC really isn’t a fair description of my “inner ring.” That is already a pretty large group and is part of an even larger group, NLC. One chain would be NLC – OC – OC (Wed) – Ocdudes, but that line excludes many of my closest friends. See at this point in my life there really are numerous splits with numerous overlapping rings. Lewis talked of the stability of rings and how the members aren’t obvious until it stabilizes, and that some may never stabilize. Based on the structure of my life I really don’t expect this one to ever stabilize, but even with an unstable system I’ve already formed some of the deepest relationships that I’ve ever had in my life.

At this point I don’t really feel like adding a conclusion to this because I really haven’t finalized my thoughts on it. Plus it feels so incomplete not even mentioning how destructive it can be for someone to try to get into a ring. I just find it so interesting how these inner rings (the best friend ones) form without anyone noticing or even trying to get into it. They simply just form because of similar interests and a common bond. Alright I’m going to end with that.