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!