Going the Distance

I believe Rocky Balboa is perhaps one of the premiere thinkers of the past two generations. Oh sure, he doesn't have great grammar and he wouldn't know the difference between Erasmus and Locke (I don't either come to think of it), but the guy has life figured out. Need proof? Read this quote from the latest movie:

"Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done. Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that! "

Wow! Now that's what I'm talking about.

I can't believe how truly great Rocky really is. The character has such a simplistic approach to life that just works. He believes in people. He believes in good. He believes in hard work and going the distance. And really thats all it takes. The guy works hard; he's generally good to everyone he comes into contact with, including the competition, and people love him for it.

What's more, he knows what love is. Now call me your stereotypical guy, but I think one of the best portraits of love in movies is that of him and Adrian. Probably just about every girl I know right now is gagging themselves, but the Rocky series portrays a true lasting love. Its not based off of anything magical except for two people who believe in each other and who help each other out. After you get past all of the big-screen hype, that is what it is about.

If you need a bit of inspiration in life, then do yourself a favor: go see Rocky Balboa. That includes you ladies!


Time Person of the Year

Time, that magazine Republicans love to hate, has bestowed you the honor of being the person of the year! I couldn't believe it myself! I thought you were fairly incredible, but now that Time says you are I'm sure of it. Don't believe me? Click here for the proof.

My friend Liz thinks this is a cop-out, but still I'm pretty proud of our accomplishment. And when Time puts it in their oh-so-eloquent manner I think they are right. The fact that I am vain enough to sit here and spew my thoughts, or the fact that you would post a video of your photo for the last six years is not much to talk about. But the fact that nearly everyone is either contributing or consuming Web 2.0, and that it has leveled the playing field in many arenas is incredible.

So I'm sure that I'll continue to contribute to this endeavor in the coming year. Look for more blogs where I ramble on incoherently simply due to my narcissism. Or perhaps I'll actually say something useful one of these times. A novel thought indeed - but meanwhile its probably best to amuse yourself on YouTube.


Worth the Read

I don't believe I've ever highlighted somebody else's post. However, I read this post today and was touched by its troubling content and the sincerity from which it was written in. So please read and think/pray about this:



Words of Wisdom from Unlikely Barnyard Animals

"Why did you do all this for me?" he asked. "I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you."

"You have been my friend," replied Charlotte. "That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die... By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heavens knows anyone's life can stand a little of that."

~Charlotte's Web


Popularity Invasion

I'm very distraught about something. It seems true nerds are being overrun by imposters. In fact, if we were the least bit hip we'd probably say there are a lot of "posers" out there invading our world. Somehow, with the invention of the Internet and popularity of tools like Facebook and IM, it has suddenly become cool to be nerdy. And brag about it!

The thing is, these people aren't really that nerdy. Is it truly nerdy to like a show like "Lost" and be obsessed about it? Or to say you are a "Trading Spaces" nerd? C'mon people, these aren't nerdy issues. These are popular culture issues. Stop invading our Trekkie world where we dream of multiverses and where we truly wished we lived in the Shire. Do you truly know how much RAM is in your laptop? Or even how RAM works? Seriously people!

I'd love to write more on this subject, but I've got to boogie to Justin Timberlake.


Neglecting the Double-Edge Sword

So I'll just be honest and admit to you that I've neglected God's word for some time. I sometimes get in the rut that thinking prayer, contemplation, and philisophical musings are enough to keep me connected to God. And perhaps in a lot of ways they are. Not everyone after all has the ability to read or even has the ability to own a bible. So surely, as Romans hints at, there are plenty of other ways to get at God's truth. But, as I was reading tonight I remembered why I stopped reading. It's stinking painful sometimes! Ironically, as I was looking the verse up in which I wanted to talk about, I read the previous verse which says this:

"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12, NKJV).

And boy did the writer of Hebrews hit that nail on the head. The next verse pierced right through my soul and spirit which reads, "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account."

A couple of things tonight. First, its important to stay involved in God's word. I'm the biggest hypocrite at this because I know enough of scripture to be slightly dangerous. So I can get away looking like I know the Bible fairly well, but I so often miss what God is trying to tell me TODAY. Merely sitting around pontificating about "the church" or talking about your struggles with faith and God is not enough. You've got to get in there and read, wrestle, and fight with the word of God.

Second, God sometimes really scares me. And I think He should! When I was a kid I used to lie in bed at night going through my day, wondering if God was really going to read off all the things I had thought and done that day that were bad when it was my turn on Judgement Day. Then, as I got older, I learned about grace and sort of forgot about that fear. But still, Hebrews 4:13 should strike a bit of fear in our hearts. I don't think that grace gives us the right to wrecklessly sin. Not even the "small sins." We need to actively pursue a righteous life and not test the limits of Gods grace.

Finally, don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of grace. I just think its good for me to dwell on the fact that God sees everything I do, and knows everything I think. I'm not a very good person when my thoughts and life are revealed, and while I may have everyone else fooled, I cannot fool God.

So break out the double-edged sword and be prepared to be pierced to the very marrow of your soul!


Dangers of Love

"There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entaglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness."

The context of this quote is the fourth love in C.S. Lewis's work, charity. That being the case, I realize this isn't necessarily referring to romantic love. In fact, I think it refers to all types of possible relationships where love is an outlet of the relationship. Whether it be family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, or a significant other - love is a dangerous and murky territory to enter. It requires an investment and yes, true deep love does require vulnerability.

However, I know I must so often be on guard in falling in the trap that C.S. warns against. Because love requires us to be vulnerable, it so often hurts us when it doesn't work out like we want. When that happens my natural reaction has always been to return to something safe - those hobbies and little luxuries of life. To me, in high school and college, it was always running and academics. Both outlets always offered a consistent positive reward if investment was given. Not so with people, and thus I had to make sure I didn't close up in these worlds alone.

And really that is still a danger today, if not more so. The more I try to love the more I realize it hurts. Losing a family member that so much was invested in - hurts. Having friends move to foreign countries or even different states where you don't see them as oft as you'd like - hurts. Trying to get to know a girl where ultimately there is no reciprocation - hurts.

But, that is why Lewis gives us a strong urging at the end of this paragraph. I end with it. "...But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly same from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell."


Sock it to the Devil!

I got an email a little over two weeks ago from one of my best friends. He wrote, "It's time we beat this. I'm sick of fighting this all the time. This month we're going to knock it out!" And thus began our month long attack against a certain sin that has plagued us both. We have both confessed to each other that we struggled with this problem, but beyond a few brow-beating sessions we had done little to change it.

Then we started our attack against the devil. Or as I like to say, "Ew-aw! Sock it to the devil!" For the past two weeks we've been praying everyday for each other and ourselves that we can beat this. We IM or call occassionally and talk about our struggle. Sure, its hard to say that I'm having a hard time with this and its an embarrassing subject matter to talk about. But its working!

And I feel myself becoming pure again. And feeling better and better about my relationship with God and others. Its amazing how this stuff works! Which makes me wonder - how much are Christians really addressing sin? I know that I've tried, but with little to no effect. In fact, it seems like it is easier for me to focus on making myself a "nicer person" then it is to address sin in my life. I've even used the excuse, "Well I'm a fallen man, this is just my vice, and what can I do?" Doesn't Paul himself say he does the things he does not want to do and that the flesh is weak? However, I'm starting to think that sin can be beaten with the power of God, the Holy Spirit, prayer, and a good friend on your side.

So I urge you, if there is sin in your life, to talk to a dear friend about it. Then work together and fight it. It is a wonderful feeling to give the ole devil a one-two punch and really mean it!


Good luck Republican Singles!

I don't know why GMail thought this was a valid advertising suggestion, but it did. I believe all my dating woes have come to an end:


The site advertises itself as such:

"Welcome to the internet's liberal dating service! Democrats, Greens, Vegetarians - Progressive singles of all flavors meet at Democratic Match! It's completely free to join and initiate contact with thousands of fun, cool, forward-thinking liberals!"

On behalf of all of us living here in the conservative Bible belt who never thought we had a chance to meet someone a bit more 'forward-thinking', I say thank you democraticsingles.net!

P.S. I promise! Something serious and thought-provoking soon.


November 1st

Today is the first day of Christmas music. Enjoy.






Everything Bad is Good For You: Part I

"You know what your problem is?" Not too many good conversations start off in this manner. However, recently I was at a retreat when one of my friends, Kari, started a conversation in this very way. I wasn't really sure where this was going because the question seemed to have no context, but she quickly went on to say, "You try too hard. You actually try not to like things and you even seem happy of your ignorance on not knowing much about pop culture. You may be missing out on some good things you know."

She was right - to an extent. I sort of like saying that I have no clue what happens on Gray's Anatomy and am very proud that I could probably count the number of reality TV episodes I've watched on one hand. But, with all things, I'm inconsistent and can't keep up to my own standards of pop culture snobbery. I do watch things like Everybody Loves Raymond, West Wing, and starting this past weekend - Lost. I also started a book entitled Everything Bad is Good for You which discusses the merits of popular culture and how it is actually making us more intelligent. I grew up with the mentality that watching TV pretty much made you less intelligent, and so this book is definitely trying to blow that paradigm out of the water. But more on that in a later post.

Last night Stephen, Jen and I got to talking about what was actually good for us to consume from pop culture and what was not. We all admitted to the guilty pleasure of laughing at things that perhaps were funny but very inappropriate. In fact, in thinking about it, the standard seems to be if it is funny or highly entertaining than it is ok. God surely knows we wouldn't ever contemplate living the way those characters would and its ok if we laugh at their foolishness and the humerous situations their lifestyles create. A great example of a show that is definitely on the edge of questionable is Seinfeld. I find that show as funny as the next person, but I will admit to watching episodes that made me blush where sex was talked about so flippantly that the show totally defied the Christian concepts of purity, holiness, and honor within marriage.

I'm conservative but I don't go to the extent that we should banish Harry Potter and have a public book burning because he is a wizard. Indeed, we can decipher between fact and fiction. And perhaps, while I'm not a huge consumer of popular culture, I should only partake in what is actually good for me. What do you all think? When and where do we draw the line between being conservative and enjoying what popular culture gives us?

I'll end with this -- "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." -- Phillipians 4:8



"People who bore one another should meet seldom; people who interest one another, often."
~C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

I love C.S. Lewis. Sometimes I feel like he's my long lost brother, or perhaps my friend Peter. I feel so close to him, that on occassion I call him C.S. But seriously, I think the man is brilliant. I told my friend Ann the other day that I was pretty sure he was the modern day Paul. Naturally she retorted, "Perhaps in the circles you run with." Sometimes I think he is as beloved amongst searching Christians today as Paul was in his day.

Recently I've been reading The Four Loves, which has really made me contemplate how I interact with people. The "four loves" he discusses are: "affection", "friendship", "eros", and "charity". If I was prudent I would read the section on charity before I say anything more, but since I'm young and foolish I'll spout some of my opinions recklessly.

I really like the quote this blog starts with, and I love C.S. Lewis's definition of friendship. He makes a very marked difference between affection/need based friendship and true friendship. Friends, he says, often meet with this typical opening expression, "What? You too? I thought I was the only one." I think this is the reason that whenever I meet someone who is crazy enough to go run before the sun dawns they are my new instant best friend. This shared interest is the true bonding point of friendship.

Another favorite quote corresponds with why it is hard for some people to have true friendships. Lewis writes, "That is why those pathetic people who simply 'want friends' can never make any. The very condition of having Friends is that we should want something else besides Friends. Where the truthful answer to the question Do you see the same truth? would be 'I see nothing and I don't care about the truth; I only want a Friend,' no friendship can arise...There would be nothing for the Friendship to be about; and Friendship must be about something."

So the question becomes then, are many of our friendships true friendships or are they of some other nature? Often times our friendships are affection/need based. A "friendship" occurs if that person meets certain needs of yours, or you meet needs of theirs. This occurs more readily in "friendships" between the sexes and is often why these types of relationships struggle. Because they are more driven off of a give and take basis, they become more prone to hurt, anger, and ultimately destruction since the relationship is not based off of a shared interest.

I'm not sure what this all means. Certainly I shouldn't align myself with only runners. Or computer nerds. Or guys who like to talk about girls. But I think it does mean that I shouldn't just pursue friendships for the sake of friendships. It does me no good to fake interest in OU football, in attempts to make a friend. That person will see through me quicker than a Texas touchdown, much like I will see through them if they cannot even eek out a 12 minute mile. I think, though, it makes me evaluate my friendships that might possibly be need/affection based. If we are just using each other to meet some unfulfilled need, there might be a deeper issue that should be addressed. But then, there is this fourth love called charity....


A Plane Encounter

I saw her as she neared gate 32. Amongst all the harried flyers stressed about their delayed flight, she was different. Far from exasperation, her face carried a sense of peace, bemusement, and lightheartedness which I found refreshing. It didn’t hurt that she was cute.

Group after group boarded the plane. I was to sit near the front of the plane, so I was the last group to be called for boarding. My group finally called, I noticed she was just now getting on as well. I board, find my seat, and notice that she had been behind me all this time only to hear her say, “I believe I’m sitting next to you.”

Terrified, I remained quiet for nearly an hour. Even as I age my shyness remains, much the same way it exuded itself in my youth. There are essentially three socially-acceptable opportunities that one has a chance to engage someone on an airplane: takeoff, beverage distribution, and landing. Takeoff had come and gone, and we were nearing the end of snack time. Heart pounding in my chest, my mind raced to think of a stimulating, yet appropriate opening question.

“Are you stopping in Chicago, or going somewhere else?” I ask.

After a slight pause, surprised I have the ability of producing sound with my vocal cords she responds, “Just stopping in Chicago.”

“Oh, that’s nice,” I reply. “Do you live there?”

“No, just meeting some friends. I live in Boston and this is the furthest I’ve ever been in the Midwest.”

I saw my opportunity and took it. “Are you kidding me?” I ask incredulously.

From there we entered into a lively discussion about the Midwest, where she asked me what there was to do out here – the implications being obvious.

“Oh probably the same things you do out there. What do you do in Boston?” – “Oh sleep.” -- “Yep, you can definitely do that here. Although normally I line-dance whenever I’m not at the rodeo.”

She looks at me in disbelief, and the conversation takes off with all my southern charm and her New England civility. I realized there was a world of difference between her and me, and I also realized I had never talked to someone so seemingly similar but so very different from myself.

When I traveled to Japan I expected to be different. Even in Europe and Australia I had no expectations of having remarkable similarities between the locals and myself. But talking to her, someone who was fresh out of college and had a very professional job like my own, I expected to relate more. The differences quickly became visible as I realized I was more boisterous than her, while she was more well-mannered. She loved the city and the “pubs”; I liked the countryside and Gatorade. Both of us were highly educated and well-traveled, but I appeared to be someone who was posing as an intellectual and world-traveler. She, on the other hand, made it appear that it was as natural for her to fly to Europe as it was for me to drive to Texas.

The conversation ends and I return to my book, spending the remainder of the flight in silence after a rewarding half-hour conversation.

The plane eventually started its descent and I realized that there probably should be no landing talk. My bravado gone, I waited for the plane to land and turned to her and said “Have a good time in Chicago.”

“Have a nice weekend.”

I never caught her name.


Fear, Tradition, and Dirt Roads

I went to bed early last night. Not because I was tired, but because I was full of fear. Then I tossed and turned starting about four till I woke up. I always have trouble sleeping whenever I'm upset or worried about something. This morning I had good reason for lost sleep - I was going running.

I graduated from college over three years ago, and during my days at OC I was a fairly successful athlete and scholar. My philosophy on life had been that you can be great at anything if you put your all into it, and if you make the necessary sacrifices. Then I graduated. I decided it was time for a paradigm shift and that my new objective was going to be fun. I threw discipline to the wind and started having a good time, forgetting what it mean to regularly train or study on a consistent basis.

Now three years later I am about twenty-five pounds heavier, a whole lot slower, and probably much duller then I was back in my OC days. But this morning the spark and drive from college was reignited.

You see I went running with a guy who was a freshman when I was a senior, and also with one of the best runners the state of Oklahoma has ever known. I knew what I had become and what I had been, thus the fear existed of how these two guys would demolish me out on the road. For this reason alone I have mainly ran by myself for three years, telling myself that it was ok to be slow. It is a natural result of age after all, right? Out on the road though there is nowhere to hide - you either have it or you don't. And this morning I certainly didn't.

But I hung on for dear life with my friend Wade and ran the fastest ten miler I have ran in years. Afterwards I dry-heaved like the good ole days, over and over again. However, I realized something in that whole experience and that was I do not like mediocraty. I enjoy life by doing things well, and sometimes that means having discipline and working hard. There was a real thrill in having worked myself to the breaking point this morning, and my self-esteem skyrocketed.

And a traditiona was born! We decided that we would start getting together every Saturday morning, when most people are still asleep in their beds, and run a long run together. What a strange way for God to answer prayers though! Just last night I was frustrated with God in that I felt lost and alone, with no one who I really connect with. And while I don't know these guys well yet, I do know that if we do continue to get together and run we will form a very deep bond. There is just something in sweat, eccentricy, and a dirt road that brings people together. Or at least us crazy runners!


Seth Examined

For weeks I've been promising a post on the Ashley Stockingdale series, and while it has been sometime since I've completed the books I haven't been able to come up with a suitable blog. I've thought of posting everything from a three-part series examining the three main characters, to a simple one line post that would read, "These books are ridiculous." I think I'll compromise though and tribute one blog to our dear friend Seth, and conclude with the fact that this series was truly ridiculous.

Short biased synopsis for those who haven't read the books (beware, spoilers!):
This series was popular in our class at church by many of the girls in class, and thus I thought I would see what all the intrigue was about. Essentially the plot consists of a self-centered, materialistic, over-indulgent Christian female who is a successful patent lawyer in Silicon Valley. Her main goals in life consist of shopping and trying to get married. Enter hapless computer engineer, Seth. He's a sweet guy who is incredibly itelligent and balding. Unfortunately he suffers from being socially awkard like the rest of us guys who don't have a clue. Ashley is in love with him, and they even date for a considerable time although eventually he isn't ready to commit. Thankfully Ashley is rescued by a pediatrician doctor who looks like Hugh Jackman (whoever that is) that must have memorized all of the romantic lines from Casablanca. The story ends with, surprise upon surprise, her marrying the cute, suave guy leaving the computer engineer in the dust.

Seth Examined
I really liked Seth in the first book. Probably the reason why is because I identified with him the most. As much as I would like to think I look like Hugh Jackman and can quote Emily Dickenson, truth is I probably am a lot more like the goofy, bumbling Ben Stiller. Unfortunately we never get all of Seth's story and we are left to wonder what his life consisted of before the Ashley drama started. I like to think that he tried to start relationships with several girls who broke his heart, and thus he gradually becomes increasingly more passive in his attempts to meet girls. So by the time he becomes interested in Ashley he is so confused of what a girl is looking for he doesn't know what to do.

Unfortunately this perspective is never told, and we see Ashley constantly ragging on him for being a weak, timid male. Thus we start to see the true nature of Ashley in that she has no understanding of humans outside of herself. Even in her relationship with Kevin (the cute doctor) we constantly see how the relationship revolves solely around her which was frankly disheartening.

Back to Seth. In the end I was disappointed by him, because he wasn't bold enough to put it all out on the line. When he finally got up the courage it was too late, and he had missed his opportunity. However, in some ways I think Seth got the better end of the deal since I was never a big fan of Ashley! :)

This is a very consise editorial, and I'm afraid it doesn't do the series justice. The books were ok, although should only be taken as a merely entertaining read. The editor missed a ton of mistakes, and the books will only truly be relateable for probably ten years since they are inundated with current cultural trends which will eventually fade. But, if you are looking to kill some time and perhaps some brain cells, knock yourself out! You may even learn there are more brands of clothing then Gap and Old Navy.


Diminishing Returns

"About a Boy" starts out with the main character segmenting his life into chunks of time. Granted most of these chunks either involve him getting a massage, or watching worthless British game shows, but this is how his daily activities are dictated. His life flows along very smoothly as long as he can fit everything into these perfect divisions. Recently I've been feeling like my life is much the same way. Here is my day-to-day activities for Monday thru Friday:

5:20 - 6:10: Wake up, go run
6:10 - 6:30: Stretch
6:30 - 6:45: Shower, get dressed
6:45 - 7:05: Eat breakfast, prepare lunch, clean kitchen, brush teeth
7:05 - 5:00: Work
5:00 - 7:00: Study Greek / Eat Dinner / Go to meetings
7:00 - 9:00: Bible study / Greek class / church
9:00 - 10:00: Study Greek or pretend to and actually read a book/magazine I find interesting
10:00 - 10:30: Read Bible, pray, go to bed

The scary thing is I'm trying to figure out how to actually make more time to do other things in this schedule. My running time is going to get pushed up more and more as my runs get longer, and it appears I will have to study harder at Greek if I want to make an A.

Which has made me realize that you eventually reach a diminishing returns point when you suffer from a lack of time. You cannot do everything exceptionally well, especially the more you try and do. So what do you let slide? This is my struggle right now. I love running and being in shape way too much to give up running every morning, which also means I have to go to bed relatively early. I have a great job but it has high expectations so I can't really slack off there. That seems to leave only one thing: Greek.

To those of you who are not very studious, that seems relatively easy! The thing is, the last time I made a B was in Calculus senior year. I pretty much adopted the philosophy in college that there is no reason you cannot get an A in every course if you devote enough time and attention to the subject. I still believe the same holds true in graduate school. Perhaps I'm a bit delusional, or perhaps I just have not been in a subject that I haven't been able to wrap my little dendrites around yet. But Greek seems to be pushing me on both areas: its time consuming and its stinking hard!

So I don't want to give up and settle for a B just yet. But I'm wondering just how much I kill myself for this one. And perhaps, moreover, how much do I kill myself for grad school? I started the M.A. program because I was bored and felt like I was watching too much TV. Its always good to know more about the Bible and thus it seemed a prudent thing to do with my abundance of time. Even now my primary motivation is to know more about God by taking these clases. However, that nagging GPA issue looms over my head like the dark cloud that it is. Blah! Plus having friends, a life, and perhaps a bit of relaxation wouldn't be a bad thing either. Any words of advice from any of you that have worked hard in the scholarly world I would appreicate.

I just looked back at my schedule and realized "blog time" was not on there. I must get back to it!


More Inaccessible than Jane Eyre

I have been disconnected from the world for nearly five days. That's right, I am without my BlackBerry! Last Saturday while we were camping a torrential downpour (I just like using the phrase 'torrential downpour') occurred and my BlackBerry fizzled out. Since then I've been without not only a phone, but constant email and Internet access. Really and truely, I don't know how I'm functioning.

Actually, quite nicely! Its kind of nice to be disconnected from the world. Instead of feeling the necessity to immediately respond to every email or phone call, I feel like I have a justified cause to take my time in returning correspondance. Now, by taking my time I mean within a few hours, but that is way longer than the usual immediacy a BlackBerry imposes.

Which has gotten me thinking how our communication expectations have changed over the past five years. Five years ago I had voice mail and email in my room only. Thus I could only reasonably be expected to return a message from the point I returned to my dorm. So typically this would be given at least a half-to-full day turn around time. With the increased use of cellphones though not only do I feel the expectations to get back immediately, but be available almost 24/7 to answer the call since my cell should be with me at all times. Now that I have a Blackberry the same is true with email. I had a friend the other day at work that was shocked it took him 45 minutes to get a response back from someone. 45 minutes!

I think your communication expectations are somewhat determined by your technocratic status. People with only landlines have a different set of expectations placed on them then their cellphone counterparts. The same is true between people with email at home as opposed to BlackBerry devices.

This doesn't seem quite fair though. Oh sure, I still have a choice whether or not to respond to work after 5:00 and I have set a rule for myself to not reply unless its an emergency. But at what point do you become accountable for knowledge? At the time you receive it?

I wish life was like the days of Jane Eyre. I remember while reading the book how easy it was for Jane to disappear, and how nice that would be. Jane was completly distraught with her trust and love being violated, and thus she runs out in the middle of the night. No attempts to discover her location prevailed. Because she did not have a cell phone, email, or any other device which is not location specific she had the ability to disappear forever. That really got me thinking about how all of our communication mechanisms have changed the expectations of our relationships.

Ok, well ironically, on this communicative medium known as a blog I'm having a hard time getting my thoughts out. If you want to know more, just call. I'll get back to you in time. :)



One year ago on August 25th my mom passed away. It was a day that was bittersweet. We were thankful that her body and soul now had the rest she deserved, but sad to no longer have her with us. She had suffered bitterly since she discovered that she had cancer, and literally hung onto a small thread of life for her last couple of weeks on earth. I remember praying that God would just give her relief, because it was the most horribly painful position I'd ever seen anyone be in. I never talk about that, and probably never will again on this blog.

I've missed my mom in the past year a great deal. I think I may have taken her for granted all these years, because only when she is no longer with us do I realize what a great woman she was for our family. She was the glue that tied us all together. In a family of all boys, that would naturally be the case. She was also the most spiritually strong in our family. Daily she would pray for us individually, bringing before God whatever struggles we were each undergoing. She was also the model of true Christainity - always trying to do what was right, and never one to deny that she had made a mistake.

In listing these things its funny what I remember most. It isn't that she was terribly funny (although boy could she get carried away!), or extremely creative, or even overly brilliant. It is those fruits of the spirits that she so readily portrayed that I remember. Which is probably why God wants us to develop them so much, because they are what truly matter most. We might be remembered for being an enjoyable person to be around, but more importantly it seems we'll be remembered by the quality of our life in our relationships to others.

Yeah, I miss my mom. But it is a strange kind of longing I have for her. I miss her in those times of need that only a mother can provide comfort. Confusion over why people are behaving in such a way, life becoming overwhelming, and simply when you need a pep talk to keep on going. And its in the future that I will miss her too. She will not be there when I get married one day, and the wonderful girl I marry will not get to know her either. Never will she see her grandchildren, nor see me graduate from grad school, or move into my first house.

But life goes on. It must. And just like we live for Jesus because of the great sacrifice he gave us, so also my family lives for my mother because of all her daily sacrifices she never failed to give us.

So thanks mom. I love you and miss you.


Giving God a Helping Hand

So I said I was going to write an article on what I thought of What a Girl Wants, but I've been told that I must read the final installment in the series before I rave and rant about the grave injustice done to poor computer engineer Seth. Let me finish the final book, and then you can all peer into the male perspective of a book that makes the Baby Sitters Club look like "Leave it to Beaver" of the girly genre. (For the record, I have no idea whether you italicize, place quotes, or underline a T.V. series. Don't ask me why, but referencing "Law and Order" was not sufficient as a primary source for moral justice in philosophy class.)

The last couple of days I've learned many important things, or rather relearned them. Last night's lesson at church, coupled with tonight's Bible study reminded me that God is in control. For a type A personality, this is very hard to remember. I am constantly trying to lay out the fleece for God to see if He likes my plan. How rarely He does I've discovered! For some reason I foolishly think that I can come up with these great plans, manipulate this given situation, or place myself in this arena, and then pray to God and tell Him to get to work. I'm well aware that "the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16, NIV) and thus I fully expect my prayers to be answered in the way I deem appropriate. Shoot, I can move mountains if I have faith as a mustard seed, and I think I'm at least at the pumpkin seed level by this point.

But asking God to be who He i s not, and trying to bend His will to my own is not what He is after. Now I am one that continually struggles with the issue of God's will vs. free will, and I still don't have a solid answer on that but what I do know is that God is the potter, and I am the clay. And much like the pot in Jeremiah, I sometimes get bent out of shape. Thankfully God molds me back to something useful. Perhaps its time I let God do the work. I've got a bedtime to meet anyways, and He's got an extra eight hours on me (not to mention at least 10,000 years more experience*).

*Just trying to give a nod to all those young-earth people out there! :)


A Mushy Kind of Post

"I always like to know everything about my new friends, and nothing about my old ones."
~Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Trusting Oscar for pearls of wisdom, or at least his charcters in Dorian Gray, is a risky endeavor to embark upon. I recently finished Dorian Gray, and while I found Oscar's wit far exceeded my own, I did not agree with much the guy had to say. However, this quote is one that I've heard many times and I've thought about it quite a lot recently.

When I was in the social-service organization Outreach, an evangelistic/ministry type group at Oklahoma Christian, I became skilled at meeting new people and making new friends. Inclusion was one of the greatest aspects of Outreach and was a place that all types of people felt welcome. Several mission trips, and a few excursions overseas, further developed the ability to meet and love new people and I quickly found that I really enjoyed getting to know others. There is always so much to learn from new people, and they always seem so more incredibly interesting than myself anyways.

However, this past month I've had the opportunity to spend time with some of my "old friends." My friend Melissa, who is probably my longest lifetime friend, came in and we spent several days catching up and reminiscing. Then I spent quality time with some of my best guy friends - Peter and Travis - on a road trip, and I also had the chance of seeing a close friend, Alayna, from Arizona this morning. Add on top of that a very heartfelt note from my friend Ann in Brazil, and I am left feeling very content and blessed by my friendships.

So I don't quite agree with Sir Wilde. Yes, I love learning all about my new friends. I get a sense of wonder when hearing all about their adventures, hopes, dreams, and more for the first time. But there is great joy in knowing that you have friends you can count on, who will love you regardless of how quirky you are even if you happen to get grumpy at around 10 o'clock, and who will make you feel relatively normal when you confess your neurotic thoughts.

Sorry for waxing nostalgic in this post, but I felt this quote pushed me to speak on what a great blessing friendship is. Now I bid you adieu, I have a friend in from California this afternoon to hang out with!


This Just In

I promise, I am working on a real post! I've already got a couple ideas in mind including a thought Oscar Wilde led me too and my thoughts on the book popular amongst girls in my church called "What a Girl Wants." However, today as I prepare these thoughts I wanted to give you some quick third-person blurbs of randomness.


After a bitter separation that has lasted over three years, Travis and Blake have recently reconciled their differences to come together once again for a collection of Christmas favorites. Many of you were taken by storm when Volume I came out, and Volume II promises to do what many sequels can't - top their initial release. If you are interested in this rare blend of Christmas flair, send your mailing address to blakewell@gmail.com or post here on this entry and we will get a copy out to you hopefully by November 1st. (For the record, we never broke up - we just took a fourteen year vacation.)


Facing insurmountable odds, and overcoming a lengthy surgery recovery, Blakewell has announced that he will break 1:30 in the Dallas marathon. "I am tired of laboriously trotting along doing 8-minute miles day in and out. It's time to shake it up." stated Blakewell in a recent conversation in his head at Heifer Park. While this may not seem spectacular to those of you who remember his former self, this marks his pledge to rejoin the running world and leave the jogging penguin's in the dust.*


After a recent, moving experience up in the South Dakota area, Blakewell has decided to trade in his khakis for a pair of leathers and form Heaven's Angels. Ok, so maybe there is already a group called Bikers for Jesus out there, but all the same this man is ready to evangelize on a hog. "Sojourners can wait (referring to his life-long dream of being 65, having an RV, and traveling the country helping others). Nothing against Mr. Honda, but its time I break out my leather-bound NIV and reach out to the modern-day proverbial chariot." - noted Blakewell upon return from his life-altering road trip.

*See Runner's World for penguin reference.


For Fear of Omission

Sandwiched between trips, I felt I should write a quick blog. I just returned from San Diego where I attended the ESRI User Conference, also known as geek central. After careful thought I believe I agree with my dear friend Melissa in that this conference qualified more as a geek event than a nerd event. Geeks are often a bit eccentric in their interests, and lack the social prowess to have restraint in their enthusiasm. That certainly was the case here, and yes, I will admit that I raised the roof, threw out the Arsenio Hall, and went to a map viewing. How can you restrain yourself when you can do 3D spatial modeling?

Next up is Mt. Rushmore. Or at least that is the plan as of 1:50 today. Our plan has gone all the way from Montana to Chicago, with even Texas in between. So let’s hope the car points north when we head out tonight.

Well it is hard to resurrect a rather dry post, but sometimes what can you do? I’m sure between the four of us boys we will have plenty of in-depth conversations from the foundations of the universe to girls, so out of all that I’m sure I’ll have something more fascinating when I get back.

Farewell and good luck!


Can I Get a "What What?"

Getting comments on your blog is a funny thing. The success of a blog entry can be determined by the number of comments left, especially if you have a relatively regular flow of visitors who like to leave their two cents worth. Now this is not always the case - some blogs may resonate so much with a reader that they feel it might be too personal to post their response. I've read blogs like that, and perhaps I've even authored a few myself. Other blogs, as you find out when talking to your brother at Waffle House, seem like a stretch. Apparently a mere hypothetical about what might the United States have been like had the union lost still doesn't propagate the respect our dear friend Honest Abe deserves. Shame on you is all I have to say!

Certain subject matters or literary devices seem to have predictable results though. If the blog is fairly witty, humorous, and enjoyable many people will leave a comment. However, if the subject is about religion, a blogger stands a 50/50 chance of getting comments. This outcome seemingly depends on whether people agree with you or not. One subject that everyone will weigh in on is matters of the heart (i.e. females). People will post faster on a good relationship issue than any other topic I can come up with. I would trump this card in times when I am desperate for some comment affirmation, but due to the fact that I’m usually not sure whether the muse of these articles is also an avid fan of the blog, I try to avoid hints and allusions for maturities sake.

That said, and knowing I have a 50/50 shot at good comments, I wanted to blog about this verse I came across yesterday while reading Proverbs. Proverbs 29:11 reads: “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.” The Proverbs has been a challenging read this month. I was encouraged to read one chapter a day by a website I listen to regularly, and took the challenge. Some days I failed and had to read two or three the following day, but tomorrow I will determine what to look for in a woman* and be done with the book (read Proverbs 31 if you don’t know what I’m referring to). Perhaps that would make for a good post?

So anyways, it occurred to me that I am much like a fool in many ways according to the Proverbs. The prevailing theme in America is: “do what feels good and makes you happy.” This is seconded by the fact that feelings and emotions are what truth consists of - all reason and wisdom is insensitive, cold, and heartless. I think Solomon would think we were very foolish in how we base a lot of our philosophies.

I’ve said too much as it is. Solomon also has much to say about the man who runs his mouth or pen. Good night!

*Yes, you theological scholars. I am shallow enough to think Proverbs 31 is really about a virtuous wife. I recall somewhere back in my OC days that this really isn't the case, but us untrained liaty must make do with our literal approaches.


Thank You Abe Lincoln!

When was the last time you sat down and earnestly was thankful for Abe Lincoln? What? Never! Well I think its high time to reconsider and perhaps look for the aurora borealis so you can time warp to tell the man what a good job he did.

You see, last Saturday night I went and watched a great movie called the Confederate States of America. This movie asked the hypothetical question of what would have happened had the confederates won the civil war. Now I'll admit, I usually don't ponder such questions unless I'm sitting in U.S. History class. I know some of you probably think that all I do is sit around all day and ask such questions as "What would have happened had Frosted Flakes not been invented?" and "What if Russia was a wee bit smaller and a lot less cold, how would have World War I have turned out?" But I don't!

However, last night a few of my friends, a bunch of OKC elites who laugh as if they were an a tennis match, and I entertained this question at the OKC Art Museum Theater. Let's just say we better be thanking our dear friend Abe and his Union buddies a lot. Basically it boiled down to the fact that if slavery had persisted we would have been a slave nation forever. Now those of us who were born after 1865 (I hope Google was right on that one!) can't even fathom this type of mindset. If the confederacy had won though we would probably have at least one or two slaves ourselves. This might result in a much cleaner bedroom, but probably a much more dismal world.

It is amazing what freedom does for a place. America is so attractive to people, even today, because of its freedoms and equal rights. It doesn't matter if your black nor while, male nor female, Jew nor Gentile - oh wait - this is starting to sound like Paul! But seriously, we pretty much love everyone here which has brought us all sorts of talent, opportunities, and has made us a great nation.

The movie showed how many important people, cultural nuances, and more that we would have lost had slavery continued. Harriet Tubman was sadly executed for War Crimes. Susan B. Anthony moved to Canada giving Canadian women the first crack at voting rights. Jazz was deemed too wild and banished from our land. On and on the movie showed how one pivitol war affected our mindset up until even today.

So next time you are in Washington D.C. go up to Lincoln and tell him thanks. You might even give him a hug. He always looks a bit somber and unappreciated.


Greener Pastures

Where are you from? This question never had much meaning for me until I began college. Then I became distinctly proud of being from Missouri. Not quite the same type of pride that a Texan has in blessing someone with their magnanimous presence, but a more subtle pride in being slightly different than the majority of my Oklahoma/Texas college peers.

When I graduated though and started residing in Oklahoma I had a new problem on my hands. Now I wasn't returning home every summer and living at my parents' house. In fact, I even quickly earned an earmarker of Oklahoma status - an Oklahoman license plate. Things were going southwest and quick! Yet I held on to my Missouri driver's license and rest assured that I would never ever truly call myself Oklahoman.

Last year I caught my break and moved about as far from Oklahoma as a person humanly can - Japan. I loved Japan and I thought I saw a glimmer of light at the end of my yellow tunnel. Yet, when tragedy struck I found myself returning to a place I felt comfortable in, loved, and wanted. That's right - Oklahoma.

And strangely, over the last year, I've started to like the place. Just this summer I've been to two beautiful parts of the state I had no idea existed - Robber's Cave and Tallequah. And even in day-to-day speech I sometimes catch myself telling people I am from Oklahoma City.

On Monday that transition will be complete. I will have bought my first home here where the land is grand, if not a bit yellow. I never saw myself settling down here, and in reality still don't. But for now at least I'm an Oklahoman. Perhaps that isn't such a bad thing. Sure I long for green trees, rolling hills, and even an occasional natural lake. But for now this is home.

Time to go ya'll. I'm fixin' to go on a walk.

P.S. To my wonderful brother Marc: this article is in no way to change your mind about L.A. I would have painted a prettier picture if it was! :)


Thumper's Mom was Right

One of the most important lessons I ever learned came from being in the play Bambi. My only theatrical performance was in first grade, and I believe our costumes were made out of grocery bags and crayons which didn't seem to matter at the time. I don't remember a single one of my lines, but I do remember one from Thumper's mom: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." This made a lasting impression on me and is still a rule of thumb I try to live by today.

That being said, I was reading Proverbs 10 tonight and was surprised by some of the wisdom Solomon dispensed on usage of that powerful tool, the tongue. For example:

v. 8 The wise in heart accept commands,
but a chattering fool comes to ruin.

v. 10 He who winks maliciously causes grief,
and a chattering fool comes to ruin.

v. 19 When words are many, sin is not absent,
but he who holds his tongue is wise.

You get the point. I don't think that Solomon is saying that we all should become mimes so that we don't come to ruin. In my extremely shy youth I would have wholeheartedly agreed with that logic since I didn't begin talking until college. But I do think he is instructing us to be prudent with our speech. Paul further supports this in Ephesians 4:29 when he says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

This makes me wonder how much of my speech is hollow, shallow, and unnecessary. Do I delight in building others up, or in tearing them down? Should I be more careful with my wit and moreover my sarcasm? Humor is highly valued in American culture. Sometimes I think it is valued more highly than wisdom, or in knowing when not to speak. And often we write things off that we say by blowing it off as a joke. If we make fun of someone we just say that we are "merely kidding." I'm not saying humor is not good or enjoyable, but perhaps more emphasis should be placed on building one another up rather than quipping one-liner tear downs.

I'm done. I won't type myself into ruin tonight.


Too Many Humans, Not Enough of our Ancestors

Yesterday, against my better judgement, I went to the Witchita Zoo with my friend Stephen. I've never been crazy about zoos, which also is probably why I'm still single. What girl in her right mind is going to like a guy who doesn't feign excitement over enslaved kangaroos? But before my entire female readership base (all three of you) leave for more sensitive male blogs let me explain.

You see, the reason I don't like zoos is because I'm a runner. Or was, before I got the SlingShot2. Seriously though, any runner who goes to the zoo cannot help but to feel a little sad. Next time you go to the lion, bald eagle, or cougar exhibit notice what all three of these magnificent animals are doing. Sleeping! Why? Because they have essentially twenty square feet to move around in. There is nowhere for them to open up and extend their legs/wings into full stride. Instead, they sit there and sleep for our enjoyment. That's why I like zoos.

But that's not why I am writing. The reason I'm writing is because we need to curb procreation. There are just too many people in this world and it has got to stop! In fact, just this morning I was reading that we were going to hit 300 million people in America around October 17th. And of course the same thing we know about compuonding interest is true with people, thus I see no end sight until the avian flu hits.

What I did learn from the zoo though is that homosapiens seem to be the only group doing well in this world. Every other creature known to man is on the decline, including our ancestors the monkeys. They are doing really bad from what I could tell of multiple exhibits. It kind of makes you wonder though why many biologists work so hard to save them if they truely believe in survival of the fittest.

Anyways, the moral of the story is one baby a piece people! This should cut the population back in half in only a generation and then we won't have to move to North or South Dakota, about the only place population is actually declining. Who in their right mind wants to be forced to do that?


Devil is Deceptive as Always

The devil is unbelievably clever. For some time now I've been frustrated with my spiritual life. I don't feel like I'm growing, although I feel like I think and learn more about God everyday. That seems incongruous to me and is extremely troubling. Then today at church we had an interesting sermon on "God Bless the USA." Let me just say when I saw that topic in all its PowerPoint glory I was not thrilled. Another lesson on why America is apparently God's chosen nation was not what I longed to hear.

Over the course of the sermon something happened. I realized that I was getting frustrated over the wrong things. As my preacher laid out how the prophets had great love for their country and people, and I reflected on thoughts I heard earlier from Jacob's Well about how the Bible is not wholly devoted to the afterlife, I realized that I had been overly critical. Augustine's Confessions then slapped me across my face as I listened to his earnest yearnings on knowing and understanding God.

That's when it occurred to me that over the past few months I have lost my focus. I have become more concerned with petty issues of what is taught in church, how people interact in our class, dating, etc. and no longer was earnestly seeking God. Sure I could tell you how American theology is a little confused over why God "chose America", or perhaps what's wrong with how my church does things, but that gets me no closer to God. The devil had tricked me yet again!

You see, sometimes we get worked up and have righteous indignation over the wrong things. Or at least I do. We get frustrated with our churches because they are not meeting our spiritual needs. We even gossip about people in our classes, or we decry the liberal left for their wayward ways. Yet when we discuss these things we consider them of the uptmost importance and can go on for hours, days, even weeks with great religious fervor trying to solve these issues. Instead our focus should be on knowing and God and better serving Christians and non-Christians alike.

So here is hoping towards a renewed focus. I hope to focus less on being critical (always hard for someone who thinks a lot and reads a number of random books that have a critical bent), and more on truly understanding and feeling the love of God. It will be tough, but a worthwhile endeavor. I'm on to you devil!


And so it began

A year ago about this time it began. I was reminded of this in two ways yesterday. First, I had a bad dream. I occassionally have dreams about my mother many which include images of the last few weeks of life with her. Last night was of a different variety in that for a period of time I believed my mom was still alive and I got to talk to her again. While this is pleasant during the dream, waking up is another matter. The second reminder was from my mother's best friend who emailed us to send us her sympathies since it was June 28th that she was first told that my mom had level three ovarian cancer.

I won't retell the roller-coaster summer that was the summer of '05. I'd like to spend this next portion of my blog reminiscing of how I've grown and life has gotten back on track, and everything is now coming up roses for me, but I won't. God has, however, blessed me in numerous ways, and I'm extremely thankful for His help in the last year.

No, I'd like to just be honest and say that things have changed. While I've always had a jovial disposition, I at times am quite sad. I feel my own mortality daily, and am fearful of my own death. Even more I'm afraid of the death of my family and friends. Somehow this mortality deeply affects my outlook on life and how I view the world. I can't quite place my finger on it, but the things that are considered trivial seem even more so now. Gone is my joy of being continuously goofy, flippant, and silly - replaced by a measured sobriety tempered with somberness.

I love God. I believe in God and always will. However, I have a hard time being like Paul in his zeal. Perhaps I will grow more and more into the stature of his ways where I can one day say "To live or die, all is but gain for Christ" [paraphrase]. And maybe like James I can count it pure joy when I am tried. But I feel more like David who got frustrated, depressed, and even felt desserted by God. Like David though ultimately I believe that God is good and just and will praise His name all of my days. Lord, come quickly.


More Like Sugar Than Salt

Being cool. It's what we are all about.

Wait, I'm sorry. You are above being cool. In fact you are the salt and the light of the earth. Being cool is nonessential to you, instead seeking and serving God is your purpose and you have no need to get caught up in the ways of the world.

Then why do I feel we are very similar, if not a tad nicer, than our worldly counterparts? Why do we sit and watch hours of reality television that primarily consists of people plotting, bickering, and making meager attempts to prove Darwin's survival of the fittest law applies only to them? Shouldn't we be reading and memorizing scripture instead? Why could we readily rattle off pop culture facts much easier than the listing of the twelve apostles? Why do we associate only with people that look and act essentially like ourselves. Do not even the tax collectors do that?

Being cool. It's what we are all about.

You see, I don't think we're that much different than the world we live in. I'd like to think we are but I think many of us desire to appear tolerant, even "loving", foregoing our call to be different. We have thus made idols of things like not using curse words and abstaining from alcohol to prove that we are different. Maybe we won't even smoke, but what child with a D.A.R.E. education would?

Please excuse me. I need to go watch Gray's Anatomy.


A Bobo's LIfe

A few years back a good friend called me a bobo. I had no idea what he meant at the time, although when he explained the term to me it made sense and mostly fit my situation. Recently I've been reading the book Bobos in Paradise: The New Upperclass and How They Got There which defines the term. A bobo, you see, is a combination of the words bourgeois and bohemian. These words have historically stood in stark contract of each other. Bourgeois stands for "of, relating to, or characteristic of the townsmen of the social middle class" while bohmeian is defined as "a person with artistic or literary interests who disregards conventional standards of behavior." Up until the past four decades, it was impossible to be both rising middle class and nonconformist at the same time.

Yet that is not the case today. Today's bobos struggle with their affluence, increasing work demands, and societal concerns. They want to be depicted as carefree, yet often they are moderately wealthy and materialistic despite their despise for wealth and over-involvement. Coming after the age of baby boomers, when excessive work and busyness was valued, bobos want to generally have a good time despite their position in society.

This peculiar circumstance is one I am all too familiar with. As a Christian my despise for worldly (i.e. materialistic) concerns increases the struggle between my bourgeois and bohemian tendencies. I am deeply aware that it is "easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than a [wealthy] man to enter the kingdom of Heaven." Yet I enjoy my job and situation. How do I balance the ways of being a bobo and a Christian? What impact does living in perhaps the richest nation of all time have on my ability to know and love God? As society places labels and terms upon our generation, how does tha affect how I view Christianity, and moreover, God?

So there you go. Possibly a new term; perhaps some interesting questions to ponder. Think it over - I'm going to go enjoy a bobo's life.


Bronte Makes My Knees Go Weak

Now this is good writing:

"Arraigned at my own bar, Memory having given her evidence of the hopes, wishes, sentiments I had been cherishing since last night--of the general state of mind in which I had indulged for nearly a fortnight past; Reason having come forward and told, in her own quiet way a plain, unvarnished tale, showing how I had rejected the real, and rabidly devoured the ideal;--I pronounced judgment to this effect:-

That a greater fool than Jane Eyre had never breathed the breath of life; that a more fantastic idiot had never surfeited herself on sweet lies, and swallowed poison as if it were nectar."

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (Ch. 16)


Post-Bloggism or Exercising My Free Will

Peter's dad, in a spurious attempt to send Peter and I out of blogging retirement quipped, “Of course post-modernism eclipsed modernism, but I believe a new age has dawned – post-bloggism.” Yes, it was indeed said that eloquently because, well, he’s Peter’s dad. The boy came from somewhere you know. (My apologies to those of you who don’t know Peter – I’d give you his facebook ID but I’m opposed to such things and I imagine he is too. His blog however is: Http://peterrice.blogspot.com.)

However, it is my brother, not Peter’s dad who is forcing me out of retirement – at least for tonight. Apparently my lack of blogging has slowed down traffic on his site. So this is my meager attempt to generate more revenue for him

My topic tonight is the age ole question – free-will vs. determinism. Since I just had surgery and I am oddly obeying doctor’s orders and have the faculties of one arm, I’ll keep it short and say nothing of consequence on the subject at all.

Let me say this. It is a vitally important question. The reason is because by defining our viewpoint on the issue we identify our understanding of the nature we have with our creator. This comes across in how we speak of God, our prayers to Him, and even how we evangelize. So without giving you any insights – dwell on this issue for just a bit. It will do you good.

WC: 240
1A: 13 min, 18.5 WPM
2A: 3 min, 80 WPM


Some Effort Required

I recently signed off from the bizarre world of FaceBook. For those of you who don't know, Facebook is a service which allows you to broadcast to the world important things about yourself including: your favorite books, your political affiliation, and most importantly your relational status. Anyone can search for you, although you have to grant people "friend" status to view your entire profile.

For awhile I thought it was mildly amusing as I tried to acquire as many "friends" as possible. Naturally I couldn't keep up with the college crowd who boasted some two-to-three hundred friends. I was a decently popular guy in college, but even at the height of my quasi-popularity I was not filled with the delusion that I had that many friends.

Then it dawned on me. This tool, while attempting to make life easier and draw people closer, had added one more layer of superficiality to our high-tech world. It allowed people to know me without them ever talking to me. It allowed old friends to stay in touch by "writing on my wall" instead of making a phone call or writing an email (which is another subject altogether).

So I removed myself from this madness. People who know me and want to stay involved in my life will be in regular communication with me via phone, email, or physical interaction. Those who would like to get to know me should not think that finding out I like Star Wars from a website draws them closer to me. Instead they should go through normal channels of relational development to build a friendship. Even a blog should not be used as a substitute for true human interaction, although it often is!

Don't get me wrong - I see the value added in all technologies. I just like to make a strong case for the good ole days. Yes, that's right - the '80s.


Don't know? Don't shrug!

I threw my shoulder out of socket. Again. This time it was the shower. Last time I was sleeping soundly in bed, only to have the rudest awakening of my life. There never really is a good time to throw one's shoulder out although if you're going to do it, then it's best to be near an ER room with good anisthesia drugs.

The interesting thing about throwing out your shoulder is that, for a brief period of time at least, you find out what its like to miss a limb. Now granted, I currently have released myself from my sling to write this article, but for the better part of the weekend I have been living life with only one arm to function.

What's been more interesting though is that I've become more aware of my nonverbal communication skills. You see, apparently I shrug my shoulders a lot. This I never knew until I derived great pain from performing the act. Apparently I don't know a lot. But last night, during the midst of dreaming I even shrugged my shoulders, so I must be nonverbally communicating to my subconcious friends. Strange, I know.

Tis all. I'd write more but I am slowly becoming a democrat as I watch the West Wing. However, I was urged to write a post today and I'm making good on that request. Perhaps more inspiring thoughts to come, but for today a trivial expose on my shoulder. And please, if you see me in the next few days...side hugs only please!


The Side Hug

I think its time we eliminate the side hug. Perhaps we should replace it with the enthusiastic high-five.

You see, you have your two types of hugs: full-frontal and side hug. The full-frontal communicates care, concern, and closeness. The side hug seems to say, "Nice to see you...now be on your way." Its almost like the proverbial question of "How are you?" asked merely out of politeness.

Now I realize that the side hug probably started occuring because of two main reasons. First, there was some concern amongst churchfolk that full-frontal hugs could arrouse sexual tension between a man and a woman. It might send mixed signals and confuse both parties, thus we should clearly communicate with perhaps a few pats around the shoulder, "Hey...you're...a...good...friend." Thus we came up with the side hug to avert this all together to show people that we're close, but not that close. The second reason is because somewhere along the way guys were educated to the point that they realized that giving hugs showed they had some degree of emotional depth. However, going in for the real deal posed too much of a threat to their masculinity, so they came up with the side-hug as a worthy compromise.

Here's what I'm proposing. The high-five can send a much stronger message of warmth and concern then a 3-second side hug. So if you can't come to terms with a full-hug, than the high-five will suffice. This would work particularly good on dates that doesn't go as expected. Recently I was on a date and I was given the side-hug. I'm not ignornat, I knew this meant that I was now her new "good friend." Wouldn't it have been such a better story though if we ended on a high five?


Not so Enlightened

I love the scientific method. The first time I remember seeing it in motion was when attempting to prove that plants living in sunlight are going to be far better off than plants sitting in my teacher’s closet. The second experience I believe was seeing those very same plants reacting positively to Aerosmith.

Thus from a very early age I was taught that all of my life questions could be solved by this simple five step process. I naturally applied it to everything I came into contact too, including girls.

Then postmodernism stepped in and rocked my world. I suddenly realized that all questions could not be answered by the scientific method. Apparently everything cannot be proven, and the world is not composed of questions that can be tested, proven, and summarized in a nicely packaged theory.

Nowhere has this proven more evident than with dating. I’ve played “the game” horribly and succeeded however briefly and won. I’ve played “the game” great and lost mightily. I’ve watched 10 Ways to Lose a Guy and read Pride and Prejudice and applied my new found knowledge to the female gender only to come up wanting.

I think the thing I’m realizing, and yes I’m a bit late on this one, is that no two situations are the same and you cannot apply a given set of rules to each new person you are interested in or go on a date with. Profound I know. However if you do figure out a fool-proof five-step method, be sure to let me know.


Why Jesus Didn't Date: The Super-Hero Conundrum

Note: The following is not in the least bit to be regarded as a theological exegesis on the life of Christ. It is merely a humorous idea that popped in my head while taking a shower. Ideas like this are probably what will get me kicked out of the OC Grad Bible program.

Many a times when discussing dating with friends, or perusing literature on the subject matter, the question arises, “Why don’t we have Biblical examples of Jesus dating? He’s supposed to have gone through everything we have but he sure missed the boat on this issue!” Certainly the omission of what was going on in his life between twelve and thirty does lead one to wonder that he might have hit the local galleria a time or two with a beautiful Jewish woman.

After watching many movies involving super-heroes, and namely Batman and Spider-Man come to mind, I think the answer is pretty clear. If you are going to be a super-hero, and let’s face it, Jesus is the apex of super-heros, then you have to make some sacrifices. The reason often given is the danger and potential life sacrifice involved in saving the world, and typically the hero knows that its not good to get emotionally attached for fear of either than person being held hostage in each subsequent sequel or for fear of not being able to make the necessary sacrifices for mankind when its time to save the world.

We can easily see how Jesus, who had prophecy after prophecy predicting his demise for the salvation of the world, could see this as a slight relationship hazard. How could you start a family knowing that at the ripe age of thirty-three you would be ridiculed and eventually hung up on a cross? That would not be easy to explain to his three year old.

Now thankfully what Jesus did give us was a perfect example of how we should interact with others. Granted there are a few family interaction techniques I would probably avoid amongst the Blackwell clan. Not to say that I haven’t tried the line a few times on my family, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” The pursuant Christmas wasn’t quite as white as the previous.

No, Jesus actually does teach us in his interactions with all of mankind how to deal lovingly with people, and that includes those we date. And I’m a bit thankful that there aren’t explicit rules from him that go something like, “Thou shalt only give a hug on the first date.” Not that I would be worried about eternal condemnation if that were a rule.


Putting Things in Perspective

I think we as human beings like being melodramatic. At each new point in our life we like to throw up our hands and say, "Good gracious -- life is stinking hard!" I mean, I've only really probably gone through a few stages thus far but I remember thinking in the prime of my teenage years that no one understood just how difficult it was to be a teenager in the 90's. We had it rough: no war, the Internet was being created by Al Gore, and Bill Clinton was leading us to unfathomable economic prosperity of untold measure. What is a hormonally driven teenager to do?

Now I'm twenty-five and I've finally transitioned out of college and into the working world. Life is filled with new complications as the hormones have slightly dampered and I now have more concern about my future: where will I live, who will I marry, must I become a monk at 35? All valid and reasonable concerns.

But then I went to Tealridge today, the assisted living home near Oklahoma Christian, for a mid-afternoon worship service and I realized that I was just another player in God's great game known as our physical life. Each stage of our life is filled with new challenges, and its our responsibility to handle them with joy, wonder and amazement.

I mean, seriously, one day I'll have to deal with a child who will be the first human being who has ever successfully messed with my sleep cycle. Those will be trying days for sure! And, shortly after that I'll be scheduled for my mid-life crisis in which I'll have to go buy a Honda Accord 2026 to make me feel better about myself. What fun times I have to look forward to!

My point is this: appreciate the stage you are at and live it to the fullest. God is rather ingenious with us on this point, because if we live out each time frame in our life with faith we will continually mature and grow. I did not arrive at 16 when I could finally drive, and nor have I arrived at 25 now that I have a good job and Mr. Honda.

There is a reason for each stage and that is for God to work on you. Even admist being single and perhaps facing uncertainty and loneliness, God is using that time to develop dependency on Him and perhaps even weaken dependency on others.

No, I have not arrived. I won't arrive till I hit my final destination. What a journey its going to be though!