Sunday, December 02, 2007

Talking to the Grands

I just got done talking with Grams and Gramps. Grandma and I talked about school, and Christmas, and, oh, things. I'm excited that she and Grandpa, my parents, my sister and brother and sister-in-law will all get to see each other over Christmas. Yippeee! I told Grams that sometimes it's easiest to get stuff down over school breaks, because everything's quiet and there's fewer distractions. She said it was the same way at her work after hours. The phone might ring, but not nearly as often as during the day. There wasn't anyone else around, so you didn't get into conversations. She could get a lot done in those hours.

Grandpa and I talked about the trucking business. I'd never thought to ask him how he became a truck driver. He said that after he was in the service, he tried indoor jobs but he didn't like dealing with paperwork. It might take days for someone to track down an all-important sheet of paper because there was so much stuff to go through! He had driven hot-shots around when he was in uniform, so he decided to try something similar, but as a civilian. He took a driving test with a local trucking company. The guy giving the test just cautioned Grandpa to watch out for the top of the truck (possibly because there were some places it was unsafe to drive these tall vehicles). Gramps landed the job, and stayed with this very same company for forty years and at least two buyouts!

It's so fun to talk to Grandma and Grandpa! They've seen so many different places, and changes over the years. It's really cool to hear about their lives, the people they knew growing up, and how they made decisions.

It's easy for me to lose sight of the fact that history was once the present. I tend to see history as time fixed in formalin: matter you can take a slice of and study under the microscope. But it's not that at all! When Gramps got out of the service, when Grams and Gramps decided to get married, when Dad and Aunt Debbie came along -- those events were lived out in living color.

It also shows me why free will is such an intriguing concept. While I, from my position in time, see all those events as fixed and inevitable, at the time they were tenuous and unpredetermined.

So at this point in the present, I have the choice to examine the past, and let it guide my choices for the future. I'm glad Grandma, Grandpa, and I can share this time.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The two sides

There's at least two sides to everything, as they say.
I've known it, but I was reminded of it tonight.
Sometimes, as I try to decide on something, it's as if Satan was whispering, "It's too early." At the same time, I know God says, "Today is the day of salvation."
So I listen to Satan, because I want to wait.
Then, when I change my mind minutes, days, or months down the line, Satan screams, "It's too late." At the same time God looks at me and says, "Today is the day of salvation."

I used to think that a good friend is someone who smiles and nods while you talk. Then I found out that lots of people do that, and only some of them are listening; only some of them are your friends. Sometimes the best friend you can have is the one who cuts you off when your monologue gets boring. If they didn't do it, the next polite person you repeated your "great story" to would have to be bored, too!

So if a true friend tells you how things are, and doesn't simply second your whims and wants, which is a true friend: Satan, or God? Satan, I've found, acts as if he's on my side when he wants to convince me of something. If I want to get out of work by citing a starving belly (which has never yet starved), he seconds it. God through the Holy Spirit might remind me to keep at what I should be doing, and enjoy the fruits of my work later!

When my flesh cries out, Satan cries out with it, trying to sway my resolve. God, on the other hand, often tells me to ignore my flesh and focus on Him and His Way.

When I listen to my flesh and to Satan's secondings, I always look back at the decision with shame. But when God, my true friend, helps me find the better way, I look up at Him with even more reverence than before.

As Jesus said, "I call you friend!"

Saturday, November 17, 2007

It's easy to get wrapped up

Yeah, it's easy to get wrapped up in grading.

You find that some students care more about presentation than others.

You have to learn it is possible to study a report too long.

'Cause if you're going to get anything beside grading done,

You've got to focus.

Thank God for Turkeys

He carries 'em

He carries 'em:
the Burdens, and
the Wants, and
the Tears, and
the Pain.
He carries 'em.

A French Chemist

He emerged from the pile of silica gel -- I couldn't have stopped him if I'd wanted to! You see, I was running a column and I couldn't leave the hood for more than 35 seconds at a time. So I was amusing myself by playing with the spilled silica. That's when Pierre, here, made his appearance. Though his nose is upturned, he seems to be smiling. Perhaps he's sniffing at my lack of finesse in the lab. And he's right! My column nearly ran dry as I created him!

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Let me tell you: Scrabble is a great game. When our family went to San Antonio two summers ago, I played it with my sister-in-law and had a blast.
Last Sunday I played with some friends, and they showed me "Speed Scrabble." In this version, everybody starts out with seven tiles (as in a normal game). The difference is that instead of playing on a board with everyone adding to the same group of tiles, each person makes their own set of words. As soon as someone has used up all their letters, they call out, "Take two." Everybody -- whether or not they've used up their tiles -- takes two tiles and tries frantically to work it into their words. I was definitely out of my element: I usually had more tiles that needed to be made into words than completed words. But the worse I did, the more I wanted to play again!
Fortunately, they had a dictionary nearby so that you could check on words that were unfamiliar. (You're just supposed to check on words you'd already thought of -- not browse for new words!) One guy used the word "adze"!
I bought my very own version a few weeks ago, and I decided that it was high time that I learned to play Scrabble better. Some night last week I sat down and started my own version of Speed Scrabble, starting with seven tiles and adding letters by increments of two!
Last night I used every up tile in the box to make the setup shown above. And yes, I'm very proud of it. That's why I had to take a photo before I cleared it off!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Letter to Dan Burton

My aunt sent an email today describing a bill coming up in the US House of Representatives. I decided to send a letter to my representative, Mr. Burton. Here it is:

I urge you to vote no on ENDA, H.R. 3685. If this bill were passed into law, it would violate the consciences of people like me. I am currently a student, and while I'm not in a hiring/firing role as of yet, I have been on the other side of the interviewing table. What bills such as this one seem to forget is that a person hiring for a job must be selective. Some jobs can only be done by certain individuals. A person who is not fit for one job may be fit for another.
For example, as a teenager I worked with kids in a summer program for about 6 years. I understand how kids, especially younger kids, believe much of what a person in authority tells them. Because of this vulnerability, kids need to be protected. Different people (parents and child caregivers) have different standards on what they want their kids to be exposed to, and those businesses which deal with childcare should have the ability to make hiring decisions based on those standards.
Before I was hired for my summer job with kids, I had to have a background check cleared. If a person applying for this same job had had a past history of molesting children, they would not be eligible for this type of job. Why? Because there would be significant risks involved in hiring such a person -- that person might become a repeat offender.
The person in the hiring role has a significant responsibility in selectively determining who would and who would not be suited for the job they are filling. In our society, it is at least recognized that child molesters are not typically suited for jobs involving childcare. But what about a more grey area: hiring a lesbian for a job involving childcare.
Previously I mentioned that parents and child caregivers can have different standards when it comes to their children's exposure. Some parents and caregivers would invite exposure to lesbian workers while others would prefer that their child not be cared for by someone who was lesbian. Shouldn't a childcare provider be able to respect their own beliefs, and the preferences of the parents whose children they are caring for?
The reality is that many people involved in "alternative lifestyles" are very eager to recruit others to join with them. Some parents realize that a child of five is not ready to handle questions such as "do I want to be a lesbian?"
Forcing any individual to hire someone against their conscience is a grave error.
Thank you for taking the time to read this email.
God bless you

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Chief and the Tree

I received an email this morning inviting me (and many other students) to a Town Hall meeting this month to discuss sterotype themed parties here at UIUC.

This leads me to wonder: how has getting rid of the Chief at UIUC solved any racial issues?

Getting rid of the Chief seems to be about as effective as cutting down what some referred to as the "white" tree in Jena, LA.

Take it or leave it, this is how I see it:

1. A problem is noticed.
2. The problem seems too big or incomprehensible to solve at once, but the public demands action.
3. To quell murmurings, a school administration takes action in a highprofile (but useless) manner.
4. Congratulations abound from some quarters that "the problem is taken care of."
5. The problem continues because the action taken does nothing to alleviate the situation.

On the UIUC campus, I have yet to see that abolishing the school mascot has improved anything. I believe that those calling for his removal at the Town Hall meeting on the UIUC campus were simply pushing to see what they could accomplish by complaining loudly enough.

In changing such a highprofile aspect of the school, I believe school administrators were trying to show publicly that they are willing to make changes on this campus.

A similar motivation might have led the school administration in Jena, LA to cut down the "white tree" on the school grounds. While concerned parents were not holding town meetings pressuring the school to cut down the tree, the administrators might have hoped that such public action would send a positive message.

But are the Chief and the tree simply decoys that we have conveniently directed our emotions against?

Is there a deeper, more fundamental problem with our thinking that is leading to white/black divisions in our society?

With the Chief gone, it is harder to say that the school supports racial profiling. With the tree gone, no more nooses can be hung from it. But have these public amputations done anything to change individual hearts and minds? Do these drastic and largely useless actions indicate that many school administrations have no solution to racial profiling and racial conflicts?

Pummelling highprofile decoys will not alleviate problems. The core problem must be addressed. "Racial" unification cannot be based on evolutionary principles or baseless appeals to love your brother: it can be based on Christ's love and God's purpose.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

No matter how small

Why is it that more is heard about preventing animal experimentation than preventing techniques which kill human embryonic stem cells?

May we realize how precious these tiny children are, and stop any procedures which take their life.

May I stop living as some Germans in WWII did, ignoring those being slaughtered.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Genuine? Fake?

I just spotted a genuinely entertaining test on the bbc website.

The idea is to show lots of different people smiling. It's up to you to decipher which one is genuine and which is fake!

It made me genuinely smile. :-)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

No Hero

(I recently wrote a review for the movie "Inherit the Wind," and got a little carried away. I've included it here, and hope that it will spawn some discussion).

As I see it, both Darrow and Bryan were mistaken. Both thought that the best way to preserve their beliefs in future generations was to limit the information that was presented to children. Did either trust the vehicle of critical thinking?

If you want to see an incredible work of American propaganda, see this film. This movie sets up a false dichotomy in a heavy-handed manner, with two figureheads representing the two most commonly-portrayed responses to evolution.

There are many bizarre aspects to this story which are never addressed in this film. For example, Scopes never did teach evolution in the classroom. Also, this film does not explain that this was a "show trial" designed to attract attention to a little-known town.

I am interested in evolution and its alternatives, but I do not agree with either Darrow or Bryan. Still, I am struck by the overtly anti-Christian sentiment that is expressed in this movie, and the more or less subtle moves (such as casting a more handsome and charismatic actor in the part of Darrow). Even though I cannot identify with Bryan's stance, I wonder how this film makes a positive statement about tolerance when it casts one man as an utter fool, and the other as an informed, suave thinker.

In the actual case, Bryan gave an incredibly weak defense of a literal interpretation of Scripture as it relates to evolution. If he had been better grounded in the Bible, he might have done much to convince an American public at a crucial time.

Given the limitations of this film, I am surprised that it enjoys such popular acclaim. If you are looking for a sensitive (or even accurate) rendition of a major trial in US history, look elsewhere.

If you do watch it, I recommend that you inform yourself of the actual events, the backgrounds of Darrow and Bryan, and the views on evolution which are not even addressed here. For example, why not present both evolution and special creation in classrooms, and let the students decide which to believe?

Darwin's book had been published in 1859. By the 1920's, shouldn't students have been at least learning the basic framework of Darwin's thought so that they could critically evaluate it? Couldn't they also have been taught the basic ideas of special creation, as well?

Here it is 2007. Even today we do not have a "freemarketplace of ideas" in school classrooms. In our educational system Darwinistic evolution is now the rule rather than the exception, an exact reversal from Darrow and Bryan's day. The recent trial in Kansas shows the current state in our public school system: Darwinistic evolution is taught, while alternative views are suppressed. With the emphasis on diversity and tolerance in our country today, why is it that these competing ideas (evolution and special creation) cannot both be presented to students?

Is this truly a "tolerant" situation? Do we trust the vehicle of critical thinking?

I am not trying to say that evolution and creation should merge. These ideas are mutually exclusive. No, what I strongly believe is that on a question such as this one, students should be presented with the various viewpoints and allowed to decide which they will follow.

For a fuller understanding of this story, see Inherently Wind.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

You can't blame physics for everything!

You can't blame physics for everything. And, you can't explain everything in terms of purely physical means. A case in point is offered by Einstein himself:

"Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. How on earth can you explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love? Put your hand on a stove for a minute and its seems like an hour. Sit with that special girl for an hour an it seems like a minute. That's relativity."

So there you have it.

(image credit:

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Facts, Plus Interpretation

At the end of my last blog, I mentioned that NPR might not be entirely balanced in its reporting of Israeli vs. Palestinian conflicts.

To demonstrate what I meant, I found this article on NPR, from July 20th of this year.

The title looked hopeful: "

"Israel Releases 256 Palestinian Prisoners"

But NPR's analysis was much less than hopeful. Instead of praising the Israelis for their act of mercy, the article hints that this is something Israel is long overdue in performing. No effort is made to contrast the Palestinian's prisoner policy to that of Israel's.

Rest in Peace

Joseph was favored. He enjoyed his father's gifts and honor until the day his brothers' envy gurgled up and he found himself at the bottom of a pit. When they sold him into slavery, he could have despaired and let himself fall into a life of anger, revenge, or even indifference. Even as his life cycled between favor with Potipher and prison, Joseph faithfully served his LORD. Ultimately, Joseph was freed and was appointed to a position second only to that of Pharoah. When he was given the chance to take revenge on the brothers who had hated him, he wept instead. Through his position, he secured a place for all of his family in Egypt so that they could escape the famine that was sweeping across their country.

Joseph was faithful to God, and God was faithful to him. Joseph was reunited with his father and lived the remained of his life with his own people in Egypt. As surely as the generations of Israelites passed on, the story of Joseph was passed on as well. One Israeli, Moses, recorded Joseph's story in written form and might very well have seen the case enclosing the mummified remains of Joseph. It had been Joseph's wish that his body would be taken back to his homeland when his people once again left Egypt.

His wish was honored, and up until seven years ago Joseph's mummy had been undisturbed in its resting place in Israel. But the story does not end there. In 2000, a Muslim mob raided the site. Since the Palestinian Authority had agree to preserve historical sites held sacred by Jews and Christians, the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak had his policemen withdraw from the site.

But the Palestianian Authority did not uphold their agreement. Instead, the Palestinian police allowed the site to be completely destroyed. Within hours Joseph's tomb had been burned to the ground. Within days the site had been razed by a bulldozer.

You can read the full story of the tomb's destruction here.

As a Christian, I love to hear the stories of the men and women who have served God faithfully. Joseph's story is amazing to me: instead of sinking into self-pity and despair, he lifted his eyes to God. We must remember his story -- we must remain faithful to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

We must also remember this attack whenever NPR or other "news sources" portray Palestinians as helpless victims of Israeli violence.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

War -- It's On

At least Muslims realize a war between worldviews is on...
A lot of Americans seem to think that if we just ignore the Muslims, they'll just leave us alone -- that the war in Iraq is not linked to our security here at home.

This is so strange to me: in WWII, if we had turned tail during our engagement with Hitler's army, would we have expected him to forget about us?

Aren't Muslims at least as interested in world dominion as Hitler was?

And where is the regard for occupied nations, and the implications for these people if US troops withdraw?

How is that America's spin doctors can use the word "withdrawal" and Americans do not equate this with "defeat"?

How is that

The Nietens' son has a website at
He posted Osama's letter to America from 2002, which includes a detailed description of why muslims fight...

Here it is: Why We Fight.

God bless you all.

Friday, July 06, 2007

For my parents

[Spoiler alert: the author of this blog is out of the habit of writing. Continue at your own peril.]

It's been a while since I've had any pictures on Mom and Dad's fridge. So I thought I'd help them out a bit. Here we go...

Summers hold many memories. Sunflowers blooming, crickets chirping, grasshoppers spitting, June-bugs squishing, etc. Basically, summer means bugs.

But it can also mean clubs. (Who says I'm not poetic?) Many long years ago, a friend and I taught 5-Day Clubs together. We worked with boys, girls, and Snuggles puppets. Y'know: "Go ye into all the preach the Gospel to EVERY creature."

CEF taught me many things. The number one thing I learned was to trust God. The number two thing was not to get your yarn stuck in your Bible zipper. The number three thing was not to let seven-year-olds pelt you with cold, soggy sponges while your hostess laughs at you. The number four thing I learned was that I could be very long-winded (but you don't believe that, do you?).

Each year God ministered to my soul through the kids I worked with. He showed me that even a shy, stick-in-the mud person like me could share Jesus' love.

I wish you could meet the kids. There was one girl who introduced herself by saying, "I'm weird." When I told her I was weird, too, we became good friends on the spot. Then there was the boy, Javier, who wanted to say his verse so bad that he'd work on it all the time we were in the bus. Then there was the girl who wanted to volunteer her friend to "get saved"! Then there was the child who prayed that Mary Slessor, our missionary, would live until the next day so we could hear what happened to her in the story!

I love teaching kids (usually), and I love singing about Christ. One thing I did miss during my CEF summers, though, was physical exertion. You don't usually build up too much of a sweat, even when you've packed your bag to the brim with Bibles, songs, puppets, bandaids, Aspirin, and TUMS (some items sold separately).

This summer, I embarked with five people from my lab on a 5K journey. I quickly learned that it's much more impressive to give distances in kilometers, because it sounds so much longer. I mean, what sounds longer: 5K or 3.1 miles? See what I mean?

So five of us ran it, and five of us survived. Given that track record, we might just try it again next year.

Given the look on my face, though, I might be asking myself -- WHY?

After viewing pictures such as the one posted above, I began asking myself other questions, such as "WHY NOT?" That's how I decided to get some plastic surgery done.

Now, thanks to Dr. Nife's expertise, I find that my face is much more... flexible.

So, whether your summer involves CEF, physical exertion, or plastic surgery, I hope that you'll do it all for the glory of God. For in Him we live, and move, and have our Being.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Advice to kill

Some folks in my lab have taken to referring to the Internet as a "he." When we're debating the names of the McDonalds characters, we "ask Internet" to see what "he" thinks.

There's a lot of lighthearted information on the web, but then there's also... advice to terrorists?

This article has portions of a manual posted by terrorists for terrorists.

The manual, which is written in Arabic, advises potential car-bombers to avoid attracting attention by obeying parking signs. It also recommends the speed a carbomber should approach their target.

Yaakov Lappin, the author of the article, notes:

Due to the large number of British Muslims who are affiliated with al-Qaeda, some terror plots have not been picked up on the radar screens of UK security forces, including the botched car bombings in London on Friday, and the subsequent attack on Glasgow's airport on Saturday. Those attacks showed, however, that the cell which carried them out is unsophisticated, and that its members are in the 'kindergarten' stage of complex jihadi capabilities, despite the attempts of veteran al-Qaeda commanders to communicate their experience and tactics around the world.

Image source:; retrieved 7/2/07

Saturday, June 09, 2007

A few definitions

Avarice: that's when you eat the entire pack of pretzels before anyone can see what you are doing.
Beatitude: that's when your attitude matches up with what Christ wants it to be.
Coulomb: that's when a military coup is sprung in Lombardy.
Dominion: that's why we put broccoli in the freezer, and broccoli doesn't put us in the freezer.
Evidence: that's what we want to "see" -- "video" L. "I see" -- in order to be convinced
Flimsyness: that's when a Kleenex disintegrates when it gets wet (and why you don't wash your pants with the Klennex still in the pockets).
Generous: that's what a person gives you a quarter for a cart at Aldi's when you don't have one.
Harpooning: that's what we're supposed to be doing, as fishers of men.
Indifference: that's when you ignore the fact that there's only 2 sheets of paper left in the office printer.
Jalopeno: that's what you don't want to get lost in your salad at Mike's Pizza.
Kelvin: that's when "0" is really cold.
Luminary: that's what Jesus Christ is.
Macroscopic vs. microscopic: that's when you look at the structure of citric acid while you put vitamin C into your mouth.
Naval Natal: that's when you have your birthday while at sea.
Opulent: that's what my God is: He owns every head of cattle on every single hill!
Pluralistic: that's what our society claims to be, while being singularly bent on Satan-serving.
Queenly: that's what Mother Earth purports to be; but "Mother Earth" must bow to King Jesus.
Realistic: that's what a 64-oz. drink from the gas station is.
Surrealistic: that's what watching your brother or your friend get married is.
Tested: that's what the disciple's life must be.
Undivided: that's what our hearts must be.
Vestige: that's what's left of the world's knowledge of God.
Watching: that's what our eyes should be doing, 'til Jesus comes.
Xenophobic: that's what the Hollywood crowd is when someone like Mel Gibson makes a movie like the Passion.
Yarmouth: that's when a kitten sucks on a ball of string.
Zealous: that's what we're must be, for the glory of God!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Getting hot?

Polar bears drowning. Glaciers melting. Penguins sunburning. Depending on who you listen to, you may...

1) be convinced global warming is not occurring.
2) be trying to find what's fact, what's hype, and what's blatant falsehood.
3) not care.
4) be convinced that global warming is occurring, humans are predominantly responsible, and nations or the UN should step in with extreme measures to curb global warming.
5) be somewhere else in your ideas.

Clear and Present Dangers talks about social engineers who use seeming crises to manipulate citizens. With every assurance that "all" scientists support the idea of global warming, I grow less sure of it. It's going to take more than Mr. Gore's melodrama to convince me!

The place I'm looking today is a series on "The Deniers" of global warming. The series was written by Lawrence Solomon for the National Post. Even the first few paragraphs show some of the names and credentials of qualified people questioning the establishment. You can take a look.

(Image source is here. No animals were harmed in the course of writing this blog.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mind drones?

Are Christians mind-numbed robots? One BBC news article seems to support that theory.

The article tells how evangelical Christians cannot agree on global warming. Jerry Falwell is saying that the issue is still inconclusive while other evangelicals are signing onto global warming initiatives.

According to the article, the students at his brainchild, Liberty University, submissively follow his lead. Or, as the BBC puts it, "His word is taken as gospel by the university's students."

I'm not going to say that the BBC reporter who penned this piece of news went into the story with the intention of showing Christians as mind-numbed drones. By the end of the article, that's definitely the implication.

I don't know if there are student discussions being held on Liberty University's campus regarding global warming. If there are, that certainly was not mentioned in the news article.

This isn't the first time I've seen this perception of believers. The first time I met it face-to-face was when I talked to a professor last semester. We were discussing Christians and creationists. His take on creationists specifically was that they become creationists by accepting the word from on high: the opinion of some well-respected, science-ignorant leader. It's never by personally searching out the issue and coming to their own conclusions.

What do you think? How far should Christians take the word "sheep"? Are Christians more likely to take someone's word blindly than the average citizen? How does this jive with the example the Bereans gave? And what is the lowdown on global warming?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Word Solution

...the words evaporated, leaving only their meaning behind...

Some conversations or lectures are more more dense than others. There's no denying it. That's why some classes involve hurried pen scratching and others involve doodling and jotting.

Some conversations are filled with words that dilute their meaning. Others are full of concentrated thoughts. To get the same meaning across, the first type of conversation must be muuuuuuuuuuuuucccccchhhhhhh longer than the other.

When you're confronting someone, you sometimes have to dilute your meaning to make it less caustic. But make it too dilute, and you risk not getting your point across at all...

But regardless of the stylish words you choose, after they evaporate, only the meaning remains...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

When science and art touch

I was looking for papers, honest! But at the Materials Research Society website, I stumbled across the following image...

It was submitted by Ee Jin Teo from the National University of Singapore. It is entitled “Ancient of Days” -- from classical art to quantum art. As you can see in the lower left hand corner of the second image, this is on a 100 micrometer scale!

Amazing what people can do; amazing what God can do!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Unashamedly sentimental

It's not that the tape is anything special, it's just that I stuck it on my watch to remind me (as if I needed reminding) that my mom was coming today.
It's not that I'll never get another email from my sister that I keep this one saved on my laptop, but she did send this one.
It's not that this is the only message from my dad on my voicemail, but this one is from my Dad, and so I am going to keep it.
Yeah, I'm unashamedly sentimental.


Why is it that "freedom of choice" extends to the pregnant mother, but not to the homosexual?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Um, hmmm...

This passage is meaning alot to me right now:

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if He did not spare the ancient world when He brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if He rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. (2 Peter 2:4-10)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Gift from the Fairy

I'm convinced that I can find the hardest way to do something. Not that that's an especially useful skill. Maybe the evil fairy at my christening bestowed this upon me. All I know, is that I've got it. And hey -- since I've got the gift, I might as well use it!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Mac? PC?

I just read an interesting post by a LAPTOP writer.
He describes his two-week long "test drive" of a jet-black Macbook.
While I currently own (and adore) my own Macbook, it wasn't a hard decision to choose it, given that I have used a Mac ever since I can remember. What this author shows is a completely different approach, since he's oh-so-used to Windows operating systems!

I've got to thank my dad, brother, and grandmother for introducing me to a computer that's a joy to use. Thanks so much!

Yeshua -- alive!

The Messiah is alive!!! He's risen, just as He said!!!!
Over 2000 years ago, several women went to mourn over their friend. But their mourning was turned into amazement when they saw that Yeshua was not dead, but alive!

You, too, can have that joy of salvation!
Look to Yeshua -- the author of life!

Thursday, March 29, 2007


There will be a conference here on the UIUC campus on Reclaiming the Christian Mind.
It sounds very timely, but I'll actually by in Missouri during that time!

We are so blessed as Christians in this country: there is still the opportunity to "dialogue" on these issues. Some of our brothers and sisters don't have that opportunity. Instead, they face death because of their committment to Christ. Just today I read an update that on March 21, 2007, three Indonesian school girls were attacked and killed. Their remains were dumped into neighboring village. A fourth girl survived the attack, but had significant injuries including nerve damage and a dislocated jaw.

God be with this little sister.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

This Point

There's a finger in my face,

and I cannot see around it.

Now the whisper "There's no grace"

slowly burrows in my hair --

It surrounds me with the fear

that It is right.

It's so easy to live here: in a permanent state of guilt. And yet, in that state it's so hard to face life.

Today I read a passage from Zechariah (it's chapter three, verses one through ten). I don't remember ever seeing this before! It reminds me of a story Mr. Bollenbacher handed out on Sunday, which showed a Christian in a court custody battle: Satan was accusing him, and recommending damnation...

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?"

Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes."
Then he said to Joshua, "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you."

Then I said, "Put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by.

The angel of the LORD gave this charge to Joshua: "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.

" 'Listen, O high priest Joshua and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,' says the LORD Almighty, 'and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.

" 'In that day each of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and fig tree,' declares the LORD Almighty."

What a picture! Satan lives to accuse. In fact, his name means "accuser"! But God, our God, doesn't delight in accusation. He loves mercy, not condemnatation. He does not point the finger. Instead, when we confess it all to Him, He lifts us up.

See also...
Confronting Guilt in Motherhood
How to Handle Guilt
Matthew 11:28-30
Hebrews 10
John 3:17
John 8:31-34

2 Corinthians 3

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Chapel on a Hill

I didn't expect to feel the wind so strongly. I had just climbed the steps up to the Chapel, and the wind was blowing through my hair, and whipping through the building. You see, the walls had come down.

A bunch of people were working on the Oak Hill Chapel. What had started with a reevaluation of the roof had led to wide renovations, including the reconstruction of the walls. Now there was a team of people tearing down walks, knocking down chimneys, and planning how best to redesign the Chapel.
I got to watch for a bit on Saturday, and I couldn't believe how quickly the group (Donald, Patti, Duck, Hazel, Chad, Nathaniel, David, Ann, Lori, Tida, and Rebekah) had worked! Where there had been brown metal siding there was nothing. Where there had been insulation, dry wall, paint, and windows, there was just plain ol' air.
But that was how it had started. Dr. Carl Painter had an idea for the chapel, and began building it on a beautiful hilly spot overlooking a valley of trees. That was before the electric company decided to run a line within feet of the Chapel. Dr. Painter (I called him "Grandpa" more often) took it in stride, and negotiated a contract where he helped to clear the trees for the line. With his sawmill, some grandkids, and the LORD, he felled trees, and then planed many of them into boards.
He built a solar kiln in his sideyard and began curing his own lumber. And he continued his building. I have memories of Grandma cooking a fantastic supper. The family would gather around, and then the question would come: "Where's Grandpa?" Somehow, he usually managed to be the last to stop working, and the last to the supper table!
Grandpa didn't sit in just rock a rocking chair: he rocked the world he lived in. He often wore white slip-on shoes, jeans, a red-flannel shirt, and a baseball cap. He climbed all over the ladders at the Chapel, and was the overseer of all that went on. Of all the times that I saw him at work, he never appeared to be anxious or worried about how the Chapel would turn out. He just kept on working, whether those of us in family could be there to help out, or not.
We all had different amounts of construction experience: Some knew roofing and wiring backwards and forwards, and someone showed a lot of us cousins how to nail a nail right. (I think one of the pieces of advice was -- don't hit it like a girl!) Some could whirl a Bobcat around like it was on ballbearings, and could level the parking lot next the chapel. Some installed the ever-present yellowsandstone into the Chapel itself. Some laid the tile in the baptistry, and showers.
As time went on, the door widened for jobs beyond construction. Some had incredible visions for the future of the chapel. Some brought signs to point the way to the Chapel and the Intelligent Design Resource Center. Some painted I-beams. Some decorated the Chapel with flowers, and tablecloths, and pictures, and curtains. Some brought beautiful plants to decorate the ground around the Chapel. Some brought brooms, and dustpans, and trashcans. Some labeled the drawers in the classrooms and kitchen. Some organized the books on the shelves. Some made even more bookshelves.
And for every event that was held at the Chapel (it seems to me!), there was always a feast. Somehow the most talented cooks in the county seemed to convene at Oak Hill Chapel and make the most delicious food imaginable.
But even as Christ said -- the food the soul lives on is more than just bread. Through creation meetings, Bible studies, work days, and youth retreats, the nourishment of God's Word was spread as a feast.
So here was the wind, back again. But it couldn't whip away the work that was going on. It wasn't strong enough to blow away the people who were determined to carry on the project. And so it was that one man, living for God, started something that continues to bless people, and spur them on. Even when an electric company's plans seemed to limit the man's plans, God made a way. And He continues to make a way: just as in the times of Nehemiah, God raises up men, women, and children to continue His work -- in His time.

Ogre of the Universe

Tonight I felt like the ogre of the universe. I messed up on the copper sulfate/sodium ascorbate/alkyne solution I was making, so everything was worthy of grouchiness.
Am I short-sighted, or what? My uncle has a brain tumor, my aunt has taken on a new job, my sister and Mom just ended spring break and started back to classes... there's so many more things important than my stupidity. Why can't I ever just realize that?
But no, I trump up my "setbacks," and forget about the bigger problems that people around me are facing: a grandmother dying, an uncle being diagnosed with cancer, brothers and sisters in India and other countries enduring persecution, and the list goes on.
In short, whenever I try once again to become ogre (or is it ogress?) of the world -- I need to take a look around me.
Then my pitiful self will realize: you need to stop your stupidity.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Becoming all things to all people

I've been reading my brother and Dad's blogs, and I thought I'd post some of my comments here, as well... (yes, you may call this intellectual laziness if you will :-)

One passage I just thought of is 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
"Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."

The following comments are in reference to Eli's blog from yesterday.

You might want to reverse the names you've applied to Libby and Berger. I started reading Libby's bio on wikipedia, and couldn't get through his "Creative Writing" project. This man has a seared conscience. His writing and Anna Nicole Smith's life are indications of the crude sexual perversions in this culture. And, boy-o-boy, it's everywhere. And I hate it.
Frankly, I was surprised to hear your opinion on Ann Coulter. It seems that the verses "Answer a fool according to his folly" and "Don't answer a fool according to his folly" apply here. Not every worldview is rational, and not every person will listen to logical, well-explained reasons.
Amy Carmichael was once trying to explain who God was to another woman. She tried all sorts of approaches, and tried all sorts of good phrases. But the other woman just didn't understand. Finally, Amy pointed to a flower near her bedside. She told the woman, "God made that." Then the glimmer of understanding shone.
It's definitely a stretch to compare Ann's approach to Amy's, but if Ann's object is to make her liberal colleagues think, then she may be close to it. Her approach still has to be perfected, though: it seems she's elicited a spinal reflex, and bypassed the liberals' cortex.
Finally, I think it's hilarious how quickly the three Republican frontrunners hasten to distance themselves from her. They sound like three blind mice scampering after public opinion.

My observation, for what it's worth: people may passively agree with an idea that they do not want to actively defend. When Ann Coulter denigrated Edwards' moral character, it put her opponents in a rather awkward position. To disagree with her was close to vouching for Edwards' moral uprightness. If you could not vouch for his character, then the strongest statement you could make would be: "Well, that may be true, but you shouldn't have said it!"

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Want it, Have it?

(A photo from February 26th showing the ossuaries exploited by the Film "Jesus' Tomb." Simcha Jacobovici (farthest left) was the director, while the film was produced by James Cameron (next person right) -- Photo from the National Geographic).

Sometimes you get what you want, and sometimes you just pretend you do. A recent article in National Geographic tells about ossuaries attributed to Jesus, Mariamne (possibly Mary Magdalene), and their son. But of course, this has been decried as nonsense, because everyone knows they actually had a daughter.
Scratch that last sentence: my authority is not the latest best-selling thriller, but Scripture. There is no evidence from Scripture that Christ ever married. But this seems fact is deliberately rejected by some, possibly in the interest of a fortune to be made.
While the Discovery Channel's president talked about the extreme significance and ramifications of the find, Israeli archaeologists and a Greek Orthodox priest (among others) presented another side. Stephen Pfann, from Jerusalem's University of the Holy Land stated that "The pool of names that was available during the 1st century A.D. in this country was very limited," and tombs have been found in the past which list the occupant as Jesus son of Joseph. The ossuary is not remarkably decorated, and there is no absolute evidence linking Christ to the remains of the poor guy in the ossuary who just can't stay buried.
Where has this world come from, anyway? I'm kind of surprised that the movie which trumps the 20-year-old, already-published find was even made when a ridiculously similar movie ("The Body") starts with the exact same story, minus the wife and kid.
Scripture, though still pure and God-breathed, is not regarded by many people as an ultimate authority. One person (who questions the film's intent) maintains that Christ and his family were from Nazareth, not Jerusalem. While he is well-intenioned, he is overlooking the Biblical account which gives the location of Christ's murder and burial (and resurrection, raise God!) as Jerusalem.
I am increasingly led to believe that tomb raiders aren't just interested in the booty inside the tomb anymore: there's plenty more to be made in the movie theatres. If people swallowed "the DaVinci Code," their esophaguses may be extended enough for more swill. And if watching people slurp it up isn't enough, it's sickening to hear the words "Good stuff!"


Line Street C of C is hosting a praise gathering in Evansville, IN. There's a bunch of info at There's going to be a "musical explosion" on Saturday, and you are oh, so invited! Our choir is going to practice every Wednesday night up until then! Exciting times!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Coming to a university near you

There are many excellent, thought-provoking individuals in this world. Listening to them can be medicine for the soul. There are men and women who understand important issues and can speak eloquently about worldwide poverty, intelligent design, the history of this nation, or even the war in Iraq. Speakers such as Alan Keyes, Ann Coulter, and Judge Roy Moore are bringing Biblical concepts such as accountability, truth, and morality back into the public arena.
But these individuals were not the ones invited to speak at this university next week.

Cindy Sheehan was. The title of her talk will be "One Person Can Make a Difference." I agree with the title of her talk: one person can make a difference. But I have to point out that people can make a positive or a negative impact on their surroundings.
I could tell you what I think right now, or I could let Ms. Sheehan speak first. (Note: The source of the Sheehan quotes in this blog are from a Sheehan-favorable interview at (9/29/05). To read more, take this link.)
So we will give her a mike. Back in 2005, Sheehan explained that her message was her own: "I'd been doing this a long time. I'd been on Wolf Blitzer, Chris Mathews, all those shows. I'd done press conferences. It was just the intensity that spiked up. But my message has always remained the same. I didn't just fall off some pumpkin truck on August 6th and start doing this. The media couldn't believe someone like me could be so articulate and intelligent and have my own message." (She's right, of course: intelligent people don't usually fall off of pumpkin trucks.)
Her message includes such pills of wisdom as "It's a political war. Not only should we not be there, it's making our country very vulnerable. It's creating enemies for our children's children. Killing innocent Arabic Muslims, who had no animosity towards the United States and meant us no harm, is only creating more problems for us."
Of course, the evil in our country has clearly concentrated itself in one man, namely George W. Bush: "I've called George Bush a terrorist. He says a terrorist is somebody who kills innocent people. That's his own definition. So, by George Bush's own definition, he is a terrorist, because there are almost 100,000 innocent Iraqis that have been killed. And innocent Afghanis that have been killed."
There is hope, at least, since, "[w]hen our military presence leaves, a lot of the violence and insurgency will die." (And Sheehan always takes a thoroughly realistic view of the situation).
For Ann Coulter's assessment of Sheehan and her stakeout at the Bush ranch, read this article. Now in 2007 a campus group may describe Cindy Sheehan's message as "powerful and provocative," but Ann has this to say: "Liberals demand that we listen with rapt attention to Sheehan, but she has nothing new to say about the war. At least nothing we haven't heard from Michael Moore since approximately 11 a.m., Sept. 11, 2001."

If the provocative (if oft-heard) message from Sheehan is a shot in the arm, you will want to dose up on the Friday Forums which will take place through April. These weekly forums are being sponsored by the YMCA in town.
The "Young Men's Christian Association" was originally a ministry to young men flocking to the cities, and was aided by strong-hearted believers such as D.L. Moody. Today the YMCA impacts the community by (among other things) hosting Friday Forums.
Of course, the YMCA isn't the only host. A variety of churches including the First Mennonite Church, the Wesley Church and Foundation, and the McKinley Church and Foundation are also cosponsors. What follows is a list of three abstracts from this semester's Friday Forums.

This week (March 2), it's "Sparta and the New Jerusalem: Religion, Violence and American Redemption." As described on the local YMCA website, "This talk will examine relationships between Christian
faith and violence in twentieth- and twenty first-century America,
paying particular attention to assertions that involvement in and
exposure to violence can offer redemption to individuals, communities,
and the nation."

One month before, on February 2nd, you could have heard "Profile In Courage: Fighting Religious Intolerance in City Politics." Dean Kodenhoven was here to share his story: "In his town, former Mayor Dean Koldenhoven fought for the right to establish a Muslim Mosque over local Christian objections and paid the political price. Koldenhoven spoke out against bigotry and religious intolerance and was presented the JFK award, which is presented annually to an elected official who has withstood strong opposition from constituents, powerful interest groups or adversaries to follow what she or he believes is the right course of action."

Th February 16 forum was on this happy topic: "The Political Lessons of the Ishmael and Hagar Story: Reading the Bible with Hannah Arendt." It was presented by Bruce Rosenstock, an Associate Professor of Religious Studies here.

"The story of Ishmael and Hagar in the book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible tells the story of a mother and child driven from their home by Abraham and Sarah. This story challenges us to think about our duties to those who have been displaced and exiled from their home in general. I will talk about this difficult story, the way the rabbis interpret it, and how the modern philosopher Hannah Arendt helps us to think about the "rights to have rights" that is the basis of all other human rights."

Personally, I'd rather read the Bible with the Holy Spirit as my guide. But this is definitely an intriguing passage, and was likely chosen because it is entirely free from political undercurrents. It involves Israelis heartlessly pushing a woman and son from their home, giving them only a skin of water to refresh themselves. This passage choice was definitely more favorable than other Scriptural accounts of displaced persons. There's more of the matriarch shown in this account than in the one involving a family fleeing a ruler hellbent on murdering all two-year-olds. And while it may not contain any of the rocks-as-pillows, stranger-in-foreign-land, or night-spent-at-bottom-of-well material, the story of Hagar and her son Ishmael has much more potential for adding fuel to the Israeli-as-aggressor theory.

If the Muslim apologetics from Sheehan & Co. were combined and I swallowed them as a bolus, I would be leaving today to enlist -- in the forces of Al Qaeda.

To those attending the Sheehan tirade, I bestow upon you this parting gift. In Sheehan's own words, "Most people, if they came with me for a day, would be in a coma by eleven A.M." For others of us, it doesn't take quite that long.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Ultimate Fan

Almost a month ago, I was talking to a gal who loves the Chronicles of Narnia. We got started on the topic, and an hour later, we still had so much more to talk about!

Lewis' books, and the recent Disney movie, have quite a following. This site shows a contest (through February 23rd) for the "Ultimate Narnia Fan." One candidate has reconstructed a good part of Cair Paravel, and enjoys reenacting battle scenes. Each candidate has a movie posted.

Take a look!

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Tomorrow the Grad-IV group is having a talent night. There's the promise of pirate ballads, original skits, and hoots and hollers. I signed up to read something, but there's only one problem: I don't know what to read! So, I'm going to write here instead. Actually, I'll post a picture, because I haven't done that for quite a few posts! Here goes... enjoy!

And of course, I can't stop writing just yet! The site ( that the picture is from had this (and other things) to say about the first Chronicles of Narnia film (from December 18, 2005):

Clearly, nobody involved in the film was especially concerned with C.S. Lewis' allusion to the central story of Christianity. And why should they be? Isn't it a good story - one of the greatest, most primal of stories, in fact, along with the Greco-Roman and Norse myths on which Lewis also drew? Of course, it is true that Lewis did see the books as preparatory texts in Christian spirituality, easing the way for the juvenile reader's encounter with the real thing in later years.

However, given that the Narnia books are, in Andrew Adamson's estimation, generally read by children between eight and 13, this seems a fairly benign version of indoctrination; Lewis seems to be assuming his readers will be innocent of hard-core religion at least until their teens. There is none of that scary stuff about getting a child at seven and making him God's for life.

All Lewis is suggesting is a spirited romp with centaurs, beavers and a rather unpredictable lion: make of it what you will. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is hardly likely to deprave and corrupt nature's young atheists; most children don't even get the metaphor and, if they do, it is probably because the God-botherers already have them in iron thrall.

Now that Lewis has been signed into service by the American evangelists, however, all this is cast in the light of that disquietingly foreign religion, with its cheesy excess of good cheer, glib materialism and suspect political connections.

Any "Christian subtext" thus becomes "dodgy", as Zoe Williams has noted. The implication of that "dodgy", she wrote, is that Christianity is "inherently unsound, as if it had, without our noticing, ascended to the ranks of anachronistic wrong-headedness, like Nazism or hissing at single mothers".

It seems unfair to everyone, including - but perhaps not especially - C.S. Lewis himself. Forget those awful evangelists for a moment. Really, there is no good reason why a fantasy story should not be based on Christian narratives and iconography. Our entire culture, after all - most notably the laws of the land - derives from a Judeo-Christian understanding of the world. There is no good reason why he should not recount the Resurrection, albeit using furry animals instead of humans as dramatis personae.

There has to be a good case for knowing any of these stories, emblematic as they are. Does anyone, especially a thinking atheist, actually want to argue that children should be told less about anything? Surely not.

So bring on the lion, bring on the minotaurs, bring on the dancing horses. Apart from anything else, the pious don certainly knew how to spin a yarn.

Earlier in the article, the woman who played the witch in the movie was quoted.

"The Christians are welcome," she says, with composed irony. "As everyone is welcome. Honestly, the connection had to be explained to me. And the more I got to know about Lewis ... I know he was a very devout Christian and that he was capable of writing, as he did his entire life, very obviously Christian tracts. This is not one of them."

Narnia is undoubtedly spiritual, she says, but its world derives from myths and legends that prefigure the religion of tracts. "In fact, if anything - and I cannot believe I am going to say this - I think it is almost anti-religious," she says.

My first thought once I'd read this was, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18) Sometimes it really hurts when God's truth is totally misunderstood, misrepresented, or deliberately twisted or ignored. In this instance, however, I just couldn't believe how blind the authors (and actress) were to Lewis' message.
If I had no clue what Christianity was about, after reading this article I might conclude that it was somehow caught up in pedophilia. After all, Christians have an "iron thrall," and use "fuzzy animals" for their own devices!
And to top it off, "There is none of that scary stuff about getting a child at seven and making him God's for life." Good gracious! This almost made me laugh!
Of course, in CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship) we talk about how much better it is for a child to come to Christ at an early age. That's one reason why there's so much urgency in our message: each generation needs to have the opportunity to know Christ themselves, and not depend on their parents' or grandparents' faith.
That being said, I have never considered witnessing to be a way to "get" people. If I was into headhunting, I probably wouldn't be living in a quiet little neighborhood with no weapons within a 10 mile radius!
I can't help but contrast the article on the Chronicles of Narnia to my Grandma's view of things. Her prayer has always been that "not one of them be lost." That prayer was first of all for her five daughters, and then, over the years, for all of us grandkids. Her request was not that all of us would be brainwashed into believing some stale, stinking dogma that oppressed women and glorified pea-brained men. Instead, she wanted all of us to truly KNOW Christ and worship Him.
That's why all of us cousins have heard about Him from the beginning of our lives and onward. Our mothers, fathers, and grandparents wanted to share with us the sweetness of knowing Christ. Since they were convinced of the veracity of Scripture, and the incarnation of Christ, they wanted us to know about it too.
Praise God for men like C.S. Lewis who have found new ways to illustrate the gift of God's Son, Jesus Christ. And praise God for grandmothers, grandfathers, and parents who pass on God's truth to their families.
LORD: thank you for your gifts!

Here's a sign

I think I've been in the lab more than the kitchen lately...
Tonight I decided to make chocolate-chip cookies. When I noticed that my brown sugar was getting lumpy, I thought about finding a dessicator to put it into. When I added the leavening, I referred to it mentally as "sodium bicarb," instead of "baking soda." Then, after finishing my cookies, I thought "I better put the reagents back."

Sad, sad, sad.
Hmmm... maybe I should empty the waste receptacle (the trash can!).


From (February 13, 2007):Link

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is apologizing for saying the lives of the more than 3,000 U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war were "wasted."

During his first campaign trip this weekend, the Illinois senator told a crowd in Iowa: "We now have spent $400 billion and have seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted."

He immediately apologized on Sunday, saying the remark was "a slip of the tongue."

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a Freudian slip as a "verbal mistake that is thought to reveal an unconscious belief, thought, or emotion."

If we assume that O'Bama is apologizing because he really is sorry for what he said, why is he sorry? Here's a couple options:
1) He realizes it was an arrogant and heartless statement; he doesn't believe it, and he's sorry he said something he didn't mean, or
2) He realizes it was an arrogant and heartless statement; he still believes it, but he's sorry to make his opinions so plain.

Monday, February 12, 2007


If you doubt the effects of relativity, take a nap. You'll soon experience
time dilation (was that only a half hour?), and length contraction (you'll curl up).

What, you don't believe me?

Friday, February 09, 2007

I saw you

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me

and the light become night around me,"

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day,

for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place.

When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

your eyes saw my unformed body.

All the days ordained for me

were written in your book

before one of them came to be.

(Psalm 119:11-16)

I went to the talk expecting to see a technique.
I left having seen a life.

If there's one image that I wish you all could see, it would be this: a karyotype from a human embryonic stem cell.

A karyotype shows DNA pictorially. In the picture in this blog, you can see 22 separate, paired somatic (body) chromosomes, and then one final pair that determines the person's sex. (For more on karyotypes, see wikipedia).

The karyotype in this entry isn't the one that I saw during the talk. But it is similar in its format and content. Two karyotypes from two humans would be similar enough to conclude they belonged to the same species. And yet (excluding identical twins), each person's DNA is distinct enough that no two karyotypes can be exactly the same.

That day (January 19, 2007), I didn't look at the X/Y chromosomes, so I don't know if she was a girl, or he was a boy. And the presenter didn't allow his audience to dwell on the image.

But he showed it nonetheless: his point was that the cells he was using were, indeed, normal. But the point I understood was -- this is a person.

While he said repeatedly "human embryonic cells themselves are not much to look at," and that "they're kind of boring," I now realize something completely different. While he described the cells he worked with as a type of "uncarved block," which you can "mold" into what you want, I now realize that one aspect of this little person was finished to perfection. While many of this little girl or boy's characteristics were not allowed to blossom out, one aspect of their development was complete. The nuclei of their parent's sperm and egg had fused, and the resulting DNA of this person was distinct and individual. Their genetic code was perfect.

She was someone! He was someone! His/her karyotype is unique, and his/her cells are currently being cultured by scientists scrupulous to incubate cells whose uninformed donor no longer exists on earth.

I saw you, little one.
For one fleeting moment
your life touched mine
your life touched mine

(Image credit)

Cartooned Contrasts

As I perused the listing of past speakers here at UIUC, I found that on November 3rd, 2005 a speech was given. It was called “The Slow-Motion Suicide of the American Empire.” It was presentated by Ted Rall. The previous day he delivered a lecture at Foellinger Auditorium.

As the school website described the speaker, "Rall is an internationally known journalist, columnist and cartoonist, as well as an outspoken critic of the Bush administration." His cartoons are posted online, but I've decided not to provide a link, in the interest of discernment. He portays Bush as a buffoon, and provides a distinctly liberal view of current events.

In his February 1st, 2007 cartoon, he spotlights Bush, thrusting such words as "I'm not addicted to Crystal Meth-Heroin Speedballs of any kind" into his mouth. Bush is, of course, decked out in a general's medallion-strewn outfit.

In his February 5th, 2007 cartoon, he portrays a drip-nosed Bush lecturing a mass grave of Iraqis. His words? "Step up and finish the job, you lazy, good-for-nothing Iraqi bums!"

Question 1) Is this what Rall considers funny? Question 2) Why would such a cartoonist be invited to a college campus to speak? Question 3) How does his pessimistic view enrich his audience?

Translation: if you're looking for good humor, look elsewhere.

Another option is to find cartoons by Wayne Stayskal. Granted, he comes from the other side of the political fence, so you could say that I'm more likely to appreciate his work from the word "Go." But reading his cartoons doesn't inspire me to go out and puke, which is the effect that other cartoonists' work has had (see above).

Instead, Staskal's work helps me see irony in a situation. For example, in his January 22nd cartoon, Stayskal shows a man ringing a doorbell. He's holding a sign with the words "Hillary for President." As he rings, the curtain at the front window parts, and a sign saying, "Nobody is Home" pops out.

In his January 1st, 2007 cartoon, Stayskal shows someone taking a poll.
Question Man: "Would you vote for Hillary?"
Man in house: "NO!"
(Next frame)
Man to wife: "Would you believe somebody asked if I'd let Bill back in the White House again?"

Of course, if you sympathesize with Hillary and her campaign, this cartoon probably won't be as funny to you. But does it sicken you?

Question 1) Why is this funny to Stayskal? Question 2) Why isn't a cartoonist like Stayskal invited to campus to speak? Question 3) How does his view of reality affect his audience?

It's just a constrast I see when I read the cartoons by Rall, and those by Stayskal. How do they treat those they don't agree with? Do they libel them, or do they poke fun? What is their view of reality?

You may think I'm overanalyzing, but I think this is an important point. Yes, we have free speech in this country (praise God!). But how do we choose to exercise that right? As for me, I'm no Bush-lover. At the same time, I'm no America-hater.

Rall obviously disagrees with Bush, and mocks his speech, clothes, intention, and morals. He distorts Bush's appearance into a nearly unrecognizable form, and has him freely uttering nasty or even unpardonable phrases.

In the examples given above, Stayskal has no need to portray Hillary directly. Even is known about her character and history that the comments of other characters is enough. He doesn't have to question her drug use to cause his readers to laugh. He doesn't portray her with frizzed-out hair, staring eyes bounded by mascara, and a mouth screaming vehemently. But of course, he couldn't do that because that would be "hate speech."

Are liberals (with their American death wish) willing to use the label "hate speech" on their own words?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

When your enemies

So this group is trying to rebuild a wall. And a governor of a nearby metropolis (Mr. Tattenai) peers into the work going on, and reports them. He writes to the guy who oversees the area, and says (in effect), "Make them stop." Granted, he's more smooth than that, and asks "Who authorizes this," but the entire letter is basically that of a guiling busybody.
At one point his letter reads,
"We questioned the elders and asked them, 'Who authorized you to rebuild this temple and restore this structure?' We also asked them their names, so that we could write down the names of their leaders for your information.

This is the answer they gave us:
"We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished. But because our fathers angered the God of heaven, he handed them over to Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldean, king of Babylon, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon."

The letter's sent, and for a while Mr. Tattenai was probably pretty smug, but there's more to the story. (If you want to hear it, see Ezra 5 and the following chapters).

But the point that I saw was --

When your enemies quote you, use it as an opportunity to glorify God.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Chief

Last night I didn't go to sleep for a while. I had heard about a meeting on this campus, and I looked up the digital feed online. After watching the opening "prayer," I was very glad I hadn't attended in person.
I don't think I could have contendly sat in a chair during this meeting.
As soon as I can, I'll be posting some of the comments that people made.
The controversy is over perceived racism on campus, and of all things the symbol that reportedly causes the most offense is the "chief" who is the campus mascot.


I just got my VOM update by email. The verse at the top really startled me. I never remember reading this before.

"Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
(2 Timothy 3:12-15)

So now I'm wondering -- why am I NOT being persecuted?
But also, it reminds me of those who are actively being ridiculed, beaten, mocked, and punished -- because of their belief in Christ.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The White Rose

Age is not a prerequisite for wisdom. Sophie Scholl, a 21-year old German student in 1943 Munich, showed this. Her family knew her as a softhearted girl who had frail health. But Nazi interrogators found her to be eloquent in her beliefs and inflexible in her stand. Her story is told in the German-produced film "Sophi Scholl." She and her brother Hans were members of the White Rose -- a resistance group dedicated to opening the eyes of their fellow students to the horrors that Hitler was unleashing. While so many people remained silent or were forcefully silenced, a few loyal Germans spoke out.
Hans and Sophie's efforts centered on the production and distribution of pamphlets that spoke unflinchingly about Hitler and the war effort. They were arrested while placing pamphlets in their university's atrium. Some of their words survived the war: in the memory of their interrogator, and in the transcripts of a meticulously diabolical Nazi regime. A few seconds of newsreel also document the court scene, which was nearly as open and fairhanded as Jesus' own trial. Those being interrogated calmly answered questions while the president screamed uncontrollably.
Sophie and her brother did not see the end of Hitler's reign of terror, since they were executed by their own countrymen. And yet they stood firm until the end, bravely defending the ideas they cherished. Though they did not survive the war, their idea did. We must take it up now. Every life is precious, and we cannot stand by and watch the slaughter of the unborn, the elderly, or the mentally impaired -- whether the slaughter is occurring in Nazi Germany or the United States of America.