Sunday, May 31, 2009

Driving Advice, Austen Style

Setting: Anne is riding in a carriage with an Admiral and his wife. 

"'My dear Admiral, that post! we shall certainly take that post."

"But by coolly giving the reins a better direction herself they happily passed the danger; and by once afterwards judiciously putting out her hand they neither fell into a rut, nor ran foul of a dung-cart; and Anne, with some amusement at their style of driving, which she imagined no bad representation of the general guidance of their affairs, found herself safely deposited by them at the Cottage." (From Persuasion). 

This scene reminds me of driving with Mom and Pop :-)


Google gave me a link to, which has this to say:

Have you ever wondered how Biblical prophecy impacts the Genesis debate? Curious about how Intelligent Design Theory reconciles with Biblical theology? Want to see a powerful approach that is already causing many to walk away from young-earth creationism? How about a close look at a topic that is dividing international young-earth creationist organizations behind closed doors?

Beyond Creation Science is unique because it explores the connections between Christian views of prophecy and creation. This book shows how and why old-earth views, which dominated Christians in the 19th and early 20th century, fell out of favor with modern conservative Christians because of the meteoric rise of a particular view of end-times prophecy. Better yet, this book explains how recent developments in biblical studies regarding biblical prophecy could very well be the undoing of modern young-earth creationism.

Beyond Creation Science examines every major tenet of young-earth creationism by focusing on what the Bible actually teaches about Noah's Flood, the Tower of Babel, the nature of the fall and God's curse on Adam, and the nature of Christ's redemption of his people.

Beyond Creation Science also grapples with the proper relationship between the Bible and modern science and presents a long future as a key to Biblical worldview and practice. This third edition, 532 page book is the culmination of 6 years of research and writing by authors Timothy P. Martin and Jeffrey L. Vaughn, PhD.

A few answers: of course Biblical prophecy and Genesis are intertwined! It was in the garden while the fructose was still on their tongues that God told Adam and Eve of the Second Adam He'd be sending. And no, I'm not curious about how ID reconciles with Biblical theology. I know how it does! Jesus Christ intelligently designed the world. And did a snappy job of it!

A few questions: why are the authors of this website so excited about a division in the young-earth creationist camp? How am I supposed to believe that what you say is correct, that this issue is dividing young-earthers "behind closed doors." Are all of your "facts" as hard to check as this one? How in the world can you say that a long future is key to a Biblical worldview? Jesus Himself told us "Behold, I am coming soon!" (Revelation 22:12). Hmmm... maybe you don't see Jesus' coming as the end of the world, then?

Overall, this site struck me as delighting in a division they could capitalize upon. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's how it hit me.

James Ussher Was a Literalist (And So Am I!)

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. {Ge 1.1}  The beginning of time, according to our chronology, happened at the start of the evening preceding the 23rd day of October (on the Julian calendar), 4004 BC or 710 JP."  (Ussher, James. Annals of the World. Green Forest, AR: Matser Books Inc., 2007, p. 17.).

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Northanger Abbey

Okay, so I'm loving this book.  Absolutely loving it.  Besides the humor that I keep chortling over, there's hints of a society where Christianity was much more than the norm than the exception:

"It was Sunday, and the whole time between morning and afternoon service was required by the general in exercise abroad or eating cold meat at home..."

"'If I understand you rightly, you had formed a surmise of such horror as I have hardly words to—Dear Miss Morland, consider the dreadful nature of the suspicions you have entertained. What have you been judging from? Remember the country and the age in which we live. Remember that we are English, that we are Christians. Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your own observation of what is passing around you. Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known, in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing, where every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies, and where roads and newspapers lay everything open? Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?'


"Her thoughts being still chiefly fixed on what she had with such causeless terror felt and done, nothing could shortly be clearer than that it had been all a voluntary, self-created delusion, each trifling circumstance receiving importance from an imagination resolved on alarm, and everything forced to bend to one purpose by a mind which, before she entered the abbey, had been craving to be frightened. She remembered with what feelings she had prepared for a knowledge of Northanger. She saw that the infatuation had been created, the mischief settled, long before her quitting Bath, and it seemed as if the whole might be traced to the influence of that sort of reading which she had there indulged."


(From the heroine's brother)
"Dearest Catherine, beware how you give your heart."

Friday, May 29, 2009

PB & J: Paul, Baptism, & Jesus

"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel - not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power." (1 Corinthians 1:17)  How can a C-of-C'er read this and not freak out?  If I believed the act of immersion was required to be saved, then I would be confused or livid after reading this.  Why would Paul give people only half of what they needed?  That'd be like feeding people D-amino acids and watching them starve while thinking they were being nourished!

I think this verse reminds me of 1 Corinthians 3:6: "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow."  There's stages in the Christian life.  Before the seed of the Gospel can be planted in a person's heart, their "heart-soil" must be prepared.  For some this is easier than others, because of differences in familiarity with Scripture, openness to talking about spiritual things, and the state of their will.  When all is ready, and that person chooses Christ, the seed is planted.  Since they've chosen Christ, are they saved?  Yes!  Is this all there is to the Christian life?  No!  There's so much more to learn and do.  As James 1:4 says, "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  One of the first acts of obedience is baptism.  But this act of obedience happens after a person surrenders their life to Christ the first time.

So, Paul came through with the seeds, and some of the people he taught chose to accept the seed of the Gospel.  He was out spreading the word as fast as he could: he was a spiritual Johnny Appleseed.  He did some cultivating, through his letters and visits, but there were others like Timothy who were the heavy duty cultivators.  It's a pretty neat picture.  One person didn't have to try to be Johnny with the seeds, Johnny with the watering can, Johnny with the hothouse, and Johnny with the pruning shears.  It's a body of Christ thing.

Summer Kickoff

Hey everyone,


This summer we want to us as a group to spend time learning how to process through and discuss social issues together and how to learn to view the hot topics of our day through the lens of the Bible and Christian community.  To do that we want to encourage you to take part in a 6 week Bible study where you will study scripture and meet regularly with a small group to really learn how to submit your studies as a grad student to the Lord.  We also want to encourage you to join us as we go through both a small series of books and movies that we hope will help you learn to address specific issues that may come up in your walk with the Lord as an academic.

To kick things off this summer, we are going to watch the movie Expelled and discuss our thoughts over snacks.  We will meet at ______'s place... on Friday, June 5th at 7pm.  We will also take some time and discuss other plans for the summer, such as planning a camping trip.  I hope you all can come!


Yeah!!!  That's the latest announcement for the GradCru group.  Boy, this is going to be fun!  I'm going to come up with a way to introduce this that ties in with Christ.  Oh yeah!  I got it!  Science is all about giving innovators their due.  How is it, then, that the first innovator -- Christ -- isn't acknowledged for what He's done?  I'll share some Scripture that describes Christ as Creator, and a passage that shows that one of the signs of the end is that people will reject His role as Creator. 

At the end, I'll have a sheet with some discussion questions.  For example,
1) What does "Jesus is Creator" mean?
2) Is Jesus the Creator? 
3) If Jesus was not the Creator, how would that change your worldview? (i. e. Should Christians care about evolution?)
4) Where do you stand on this issue?
5) What are some ways that Christians view evolution?
6) What are some ways that non-Christians view evolution?
7) What questions did this movie raise for you?

I need to watch this film and make a list of the key players.  Putting that on a sheet and handing it out should make the discussion a little easier!  I can also hand out Dr. Noebel's worldview chart that shows how foundational evolution is to every major worldview besides Christianity and Islam.  Another thing that would be good to hand out would be links to places like the Discovery Institute, and a list of books for more information (Behe's Darwin's Black Box and Berlinski's Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions for starters).

What are some other things you'd recommend that we discuss before/after watching this?

I want to do some creation- and evolution-related food.  How 'bout primordial soup (for a snack, it could be morphed into primordial fondue or salsa)?  Mutant cookies (either a sequence of cookies showing the purported progression of animals or a cookie that's a combination of animals)?  Seven-layer salad (double duty)?  Protoplasm (JELLO)?  Anything in sets of seven (the creation week) -- for example cupcakes with light/dark; water and atmosphere; sun, moon, and stars; etc.?  Warring gummy worms picketing with toothpicks ("I am your Great, Great, Great Grandpappy," "As I am now you once were; as you are I will one day be,"  "Don't be so specieist," vs. "And Charlie said... and there was blight," "Intelligent design or stupid design?" "Survival of the Fattest," etc.) and toothpicks in little sausages or others food?  Bananas with handy sayings written on them?  A cake with quotes from creation (And God said... and there was)?  Evolutionary tree (raw brocolli)?  A portrait of an evolutionary man who ended up being a pig (a tooth) on a cupcake or cookie?  The flood (ice water)?  Man made from clay (gingerbread Adam & Eve)?  Dirt (oreo pudding)?  Icthus fish, icthus fish with feet, icthus fish eating ichthus fish with feet on cupcakes?


The new faddy word of the season is "uber."  I was curious to know the source of this handy prefix, so I - of course - turned to wikipedia.


The crossover of the term "über" from German into English goes back to the work of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. In 1883, Nietzsche coined the term "übermensch" to describe the higher state to which he felt man might aspire. The term was brought into English by George Bernard Shaw in the title to his 1903 play Man and Superman. During his rise to power, Adolf Hitler used Nietzsche's term in his descriptions of an Aryan master race. It is through this association with Superman the hero that the term "über" carries much of its English sense implying irresistibility or invincibility.

Interesting, interesting.  I'm not going to say that a Christian should never use the term "über."  But I think it's important that we know the roots of the terms and objects we use.  For example, I wouldn't say that it's wrong to own a VW bug.  I do, however, think it's wise to understand that "VW" stands for "volkswagen," or "people's car," and Hitler saw himself as reaching out to the people, or "volks" through this and other innovations.

I'd like to add to this brief account of the word "über" by pointing out (via my undergrad philosophy prof and G.K. Chesterton) some of the fuller implications of Nietzsche's idea of the superman.  In becoming an "übermensch," a person must necessarily cease being a person.  These übermensch that Nietzsche envisioned would have a privileged status in the society they inhabited.  There would be two systems of society: one for the normal man, and one for the superman.  The underlings would need to follow traditional codes of ethics, to maintain order.  But the supermen?  Ah.  They would truly live in a state of  "create your own morality."  From the five or so minutes we spent on this philosophy in my Mayterm class, I don't know the telltale signs of having a superman on your hands.  Chances are, it wouldn't be as simple as exhibiting X-ray vision or being disctinctly allergic to Kryptonite.  As I see it, many powerhungry people have already convinced themselves they've made the transition, and are fully justified in living by their own set of rules, instead of anyone else's.  Hmm... I'd say that Nietzche wasn't the first to come up with an idea of certain beings above the law.  And fortunately for us, there's examples of how to deal with this kind of folly.  Wasn't there a king named John, and oh yeah -- a document called the Magna Carta?  Oh yes.  It reaffirmed that no man is above the law.

Yes, you're right: there is one exception, and through that exception, all Christians have become exceptions.  Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the Law.  But notice His treatment of the law!  He didn't call himself an übermensch, or Superman.  He didn't proudly flaunt His status above us, mere men.  Instead, He made it clear that He did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them.  Also, the same freedom that He enjoyed, He offered to us by suffering, dying, then living for us.  As Jesus said in John 10:11-12, "...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep."  Through His sacrifice, He gave us grace: "For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace." (Romans 6:14). "So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God." (Romans 7:4)  This is heavens and earth away from Nietzche's folly.

So, you want to gain power?  There is "...incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.  And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everthing for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way." (Ephesians 1:19-23). 

Meet Christ.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chad lookalike

If someone was going to play my cousin Chad in a movie, I think it'd be Sam Worthington.  Granted, Sam'd have to work out the "hey y'all" instead of the "g'day mate," but hey!

The Lord's Side

He was bruised for our iniquity.  A spear plunged into His side pierced His heart, releasing water and blood, and confirming His death.  And yet, hundreds of witnesses saw Him for forty days after He rose again.  What a great God!

It's this side, this scarred side, that He offers to all of us who will come.  He's all about invitation, sacrifice, and redemption.  I remember reading a book review where the reviewer was praising the author for presenting his troubled life without any hint of redemption.  Having read not that book but another one that presented a troubled life with no redemption (Apples and Oranges was the title), I'd rather not be depressed again, thank you very much.  I'd rather read a book that is one story of redemption right after another.  I'd rather meet a God who tells the first couple (and the first couple of sinners) not only the effects of their sin, but also the plan of redemption He's going to bring to redemption.  That's the kind of God I want to serve.

Last week I was going through titles of movies finding material to watch and discuss with my Bible study group.  Boy, was that fun.  Still, it was sobering.  At one point as I looked through the titles I had accumulated, I really started realizing how Christ calls us to come and join Him, in joy and in suffering.  Some of the heroes/heroines were Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons, Sophie Scholl in the movie by the same name, and countless Christians in Obsession, about Islam.  These are my heroes.  But look at what they went through!  But look at what their Master went through!  I don't know what's going to happen in the future, but I wouldn't want to be on any other side except the one they're on: the scarred side of Jesus the Christ.

Last night I caught up on my YouTube studies (:-) by watching some classic Ann Coulter.  Two interviews (if you could call them that!) stood out to me.  The first was a group attackfest back on January 12 of this year.  Ann was on a show called "The View" which featured such forgettables as Whoopi, Barbara Wawa, and a couple other younger women I'd never heard of.  Since I'd never watched the show, I thought I better watch the footage of before Ann appeared.  I'd never heard so much blather in my life.  The women sat around a table gossiping about various actors and actresses, and gave callouts to them, assuming that their show was as important to the actors' lives as the actors' lives were as important to their show.  Two or three of them, Whoopi and Wawa included, performed a strange gesture when they talked about an actor in the hospital.  As they talked about thinking of him, they put their two hands together and brought them down.  At first I thought, "Are they trying to bring up prayer without using the word?"  But then I saw the utility of such a gesture.  They never verbally explain what it means, so it's "create your own meaning."  It could as easily be Buddhist as Christian.  It's delightful -- to syncretists.

But the gooey sweetness and forced airs rapidly gave way to the true women underneath.  As soon as Ann Coulter became the topic of discussion, the sap ran wild.  Barbara Wawa read a passage aloud, spitting out the words.  It was obvious that she was showing her audience what Their View should be on this person.  Ann had written about the number of famous "half" black/"half" white people who had rejected the white mothers that raised them, and instead praised the black father that had abandoned them.  The erudite members of The View decided that Ann had no way of understanding the situtation because she was a blonde.

Ann was invited out to join them, and to say that the fur flew would be a gross understatement.  I've always known that girlie fights can be more insiduous and vicious than guy fights, and here was ample evidence.  I think the two things that made this fight most appalling was that a gang of six were attacking one, and throughout the interchange the six let all their ickiness shine through, but if Ann so much as called attention to the fact that they were not allowing her to speak, she was attacked all the more.

They took issue with Ann's analysis of (unmarried) single motherhood.  (Ann clearly distinguishes between unwed mothers on the one hand, and widows and divorcees on the other).  Ann said that she was simply presenting numbers: 80% of criminals in prison are children of single mothers.  She describes single mothers as giving their child the worst lottery ticket in the world, and when a woman becomes pregnant out of wedlock, she advises them to marry the father or to give their child the best lottery ticket in the world: adoption.  Ann described the tripling rate of single motherhood as a success that the Left had engineered to attack the nuclear family.

You can imagine the histrionics that this clearheaded onslaught on satanic propaganda produced.  One woman, visibly distressed and running her hands through her hair, conceded that Ann had some nuggets of truth in what she said, but accused Ann of having no compassion.  Are you part of the solution; are you talking to potential single mothers?  She demanded.  Are you telling them about birth control?  Ann calmly responded that yes, she is part of the solution, but it's important to recognize what glorifying single motherhood is doing.  It's perpetuating the problem.  Whoopi had no idea how to combat Ann in the world of ideas, so she blandly stated (without citing anything) that the numbers Ann presented have been disproved time and time again.  She then asked the irrelevant question, Do you have children?  Are you married?  On both counts Ann smiled and said, No, but it doesn't make the difference in the facts I present.  Later Wawa tried to muster a sweet voice and explain to Ann that some women want to have children, even if they're not married.  These women are able to provide for their children.  (Notice that Wawa cannot combat the statistics Ann presented, either.  Instead of acknowleding the unavoidable point, she chooses to defend the fact that not every child of an unwed mother will go to prison.  Ann never said they would: she simply talked about the increased odds that they would).  She then asked her equally irrelevant question, Do you want children?  The sympathies of the audience became apparent as they erupted in applause. 

As the conversation switched back to "half" black/"half" white children, it became increasingly embarrassing to see Whoopi, Wawa, and company struggle to produce even basic repartee, let alone cohesive arguments.  With six to one, their strategy finally dissolved into angrily talking over Ann, oddly reminiscent of the scence in the final Prisoner series where a cloud of shrouded maskees drown out the Prisoner's attempts to speak to them.

When Ann's statements about Obama proved more than Wawa could bear, she decided to turn the topic to something she stated was more current -- Ann's description of a president who died decades ago.  Way to go, Wawa.  Couldn't you have at least admitted that you couldn't stand the fact that Ann was discussing actually current events with so much candor?  So Wawa went back to Ann's book.  Ann asked her to read it like she might read Mein Kamf, as she did before.  Wawa looked pained, but one of her apologists told Ann how much offense she took at this comment.  When Wawa read again, it was in a tone so modulated and mild that Ann told her she could do the audio book.  She read a passage where Ann addresses the misconception of JFK's reign as being comparable to Camelot by pointing out that the media never got around to talking about JFK's venereal disease or drug addictions.  It seemed to me that Wawa was trying to take an example that multiple Republicans and Democrats might be expected to agree on: that JFK was awesome.  In showing Ann's view of JFK, Wawa might have hoped to alienate Ann from as many people as possible in a short amount of time.

Some of what this interchange taught me is that when people cannot respond to your arguments, they'll just try to drown you out.  Also, appearance becomes a huge issue, and some will truly believe that unless you're black you can't comment on anything about blacks.  Finally, know your stats, but don't expect liberals to listen to them.

The second interview was one with Katie Couric.  In it, Katie tries the same shtick that failed Wawa so decidedly: the "I'm sweet little ol' me, talking to a hellhound."  Katie used the same tactic multiple times: she would bring up a quote of Ann's, give her own description of why it was wrong, give Ann a few seconds to reply, give her own ending comment and without taking a breath say that we can't settle this today and move on to the next topic.  It was a forced "I must have the last word."  I've experienced this with various people in various "discussions" I've had, but it's much easier to see what's going on when you're the observer, and not the person being attacked.  In forcibly claiming the last word and breathlessly saying that there's no point in discussing a topic any more, the person is strangling discussion.  They're afraid of further discussion, so they're cutting off the topic's air supply while their point is still floating.  It's an extremely cowardly tactic.

Ann had some good reminders.  A favorite tactic of liberals is to completely disregard a conservative's ideas, and instead try to find "the one quote" that can make a person look like a freak, and then dismiss them.  The goal here is to find any conceivable reason to write a person off, and rationalize your rejection of a person.

Couric was a living example of this.  She also demonstrated the same regrettable tendency to study an individual data point (a single quote from Ann's book) while intentionally ignoring the trend from which she abstracted the data point.

Seeing Couric's interaction with Ann reminded me incredibly of conversations I'd had in a past campus group.  I don't think that Couric claims to be a Christian, but a gal who used the same tactics as Couric did.  Thinking of it now, a passage apt to this group is:  "I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.  Keep away from them.  For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites.  By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people... I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil."  (Romans 14:17-19)

Seeing Ann surrounded by harpies possessed by the desire to conquer her reminds "our struggle is not against flesh and blood."  I honestly believe that those six women didn't understand their own furor to best her.  As Ann spoke truth, the cockroaches of falsehood (I mean sinful ideas, not individual people) scurried to hide from the light or pull the plug.  In trying to live a doctrine of false compassion (let's glorify unwed singelmotherhood!), these women had turned their back on true compassion (let's think about what's best for this woman and her child).  There is thesis, and there is antithesis.  Either unwed single motherhood is good for the vast majority of children or it's not.  The six on the view disagreed with Coulter on this, and they couldn't both be right.  All the tripe about tolerance and non-judgementalism went spiraling down the drain, and they tried with all their might to attack Ann.  I see this as the closest I might ever get to seeing the spiritual battle happening around me.  The camp given over to satanic ideas may seem calm enough, as long as no one challenges them.  But when someone given over to Godly ideas dares to speak truth in their presence, the demons start swarming.  Hate can be covered over in gooey sweetness, but it's still just sugar-coated.  The bitter rage cannot be hidden forever, and possibly not for even thirty seconds.

God bless those who are bold enough to proclaim His truth, even when they are encircled by howling banshees.  God's side: I wouldn't want to be by any other.

Awesome clip

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009


One of the problems with IVF is that you've got more in the freezer than you want to put in the oven.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Y'know how it is, when you see something so beautiful you don't know how to respond?  Yeah, that's how it is watching the movie Bella.  Mom and Pop, thanks for telling me about it.  It's amazing!

Did Jane Austen have a brother?

"Ah, Mother! How do you do?" said he, giving her a hearty shake of the hand. "Where did you get that quiz of a hat? It makes you look like an old witch. Here is Morland and I come to stay a few days with you, so you must look out for a couple of good beds somewhere near." And this address seemed to satisfy all the fondest wishes of the mother's heart, for she received him with the most delighted and exulting affection. On his two younger sisters he then bestowed an equal portion of his fraternal tenderness, for he asked each of them how they did, and observed that they both looked very ugly.  -- Northanger Abbey

Monday, May 18, 2009


The next time I'm in town over a weekend, I think I'll go to First Christian Church.  On a previous post, I confused this church with Windsor Road Christian Church!  I've been to Windsor, but not to first!  There's some really cool things happening at First Christian.  There's a Dorcas sewing group, plus they have a list of "Essential Books" for highschoolers that recommends anything by C.S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer!  (Okay, so it also says anything by John Piper.  Nothing like a little Calvinism on the side!).  Also, they're listed on the Living Alternatives website as a major sponsor of their April 18th fundraising event.  YEAH!!!!  I'm definitely going to go check this place out!  They even have a Sunday night service!  And I have yet to see any mention of their pastor.  I mean, I'm pretty sure there is one, but his picture isn't plastered all over the website!  Here's a list of all the ministries FCC is involved in.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Liberty grants. Applications being accepted.

"God grants liberty only to those who love it and are always ready to guard and defend it." -- Daniel Webster, as quoted in Bill Federer's daily American Minute.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

You've now entered the Twilight Zone

"The Democrats and _________ were no better able to explain the severity of the ________ than the Republicans and _________.  Nor did they agree on how to end it.  They were sure only that the political situation called for massive federal appropriations for relief and public-works employment and the courage to try solutions that had not been tried before." 

What'll it be?

Choice A
Barack Obama, recession, George "Dubya" Bush

Choice B
Franklin Roosevelt, Great Depression, Herbert Hoover

(Taken from Polakoff, Keith I. Political Parties in American History.  New York: Newbery Award Records, Inc., 1981, p. 326.  The year of publication should give you a clue.).

Go, Ben, Go!

DISCLAIMER: This is in the idea stage!

So we had a meeting about the research symposium today.  The gal who's headed it up for the past three years is letting someone else take it for a whirl.  And there's four of us who have stepped up to help out!  The other three are incredible guys, and today we chatted after the meeting about possible speakers.  One guy had the idea to bring in an MD who does clinical research.  This would make the event more useful for M1s.  Another idea was to bring in Ben Carson!  I'm going to look up his honorarium, to see what kind of cost we're looking at.  It was really neat to see the response when I brought up this idea.  Nobody shot it down.  Instead, we tried to think of ways it could work.  If his cost is really high, someone else had the idea to have him speak twice, to two different groups who could split the fees!  Whether the first speaker or Ben Carson can come, I'm really excited about the prospects!  The keynote speaker is the heart of the event, and I am really excited that this year it's going to be a winner!

Plenty of Torpor

"Give people plenty and security, and they will fall into spiritual torpor. When life becomes an extended picnic, with nothing of importance to do, ideas of greatness become an irritant. Such is the nature of the Europe syndrome." -- Charles Murray

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mission Possible

"My mission was mostly combative, to try to insist – beginning at school – there was another way of looking at things." -- Bill Buckley

Show Me Your Idols, and I'll Know Who You Are

I honestly can't explain why I read our chancellor's emails.  But I do, and sigh.

Here's a few tidbits from his latest:

"[Commencement] is a time when we can say without adornment that we have fulfilled that great promise of the Morrill Act of 1862 to educate this state's bright and motivated young
people and that we have ignited their curiosity and passions, and channeled
their boundless idealism for the betterment of the world."

I think you can only talk about the "boundless idealism" of students if you've never TA'd.  That shows you anti-idealism (pragmatism) like nothing else.

"There are so many wonderful snapshots when I look back on this academic
year and sift through the countless meetings and speeches, the casual talks
with faculty, staff, and students, the investitures and lectures. Or the
pleasure of just walking across the Quad as students rush between classes.
Those moments confirm to me how vibrant this university is and how engaged
its people are in the issues that concern our nation."

Okay, so students rush to classes.  But once they're in those classes, what are they being taught?  Do you ever sit in any of them?  Are students engaged in indoctrination or taught to critically evaluate what's spouted to them?

"One snapshot in particular was the morning I sat at the Krannert Center for
the Performing Arts with two of my grandchildren listening to Aaron
Copeland's 'Lincoln Portrait.' I thought back to my earliest memory of that
piece - listening to it on the Mall in DC and hearing Adlai Stevenson
recite the wonderful words that included the phrase 'the occasion is piled
high with difficulty.'

Way to name drop.  Hmmm.... who is this Adlai Stevenson guy, anyway?  Oh, yeah!  The guy who wore a hole in his shoe campaigning only to be defeated by Einsenhower two separate times, the guy who was known as an egghead, and, most notably, the guy who was a character witness of Alger Hiss.  Yeah, that guy.  He's your hero?

"It struck me that those words are being used with increased frequency and
decibels lately as we as a nation struggle with the recession, two wars,
and, lately, even the swine flu."

Wait, wait, wait.  Have you been listening to too much psycobabble again?  Since when does swine flu compare to our two ongoing wars?  Man.  It's okay to admit that you're a civilian and you might not face in a lifetime the kind of danger a serviceman faces in a day.  It's okay to admit that we may be equal under the law, but we're not equal in our bravery.  It's okay to laud the men and women that are braver than us.  It's okay.  It'd even be okay to give a shout-out to the ROTC members on this campus, who are not only facing the paltry threat of swine flu with us, but preparing to face the definite threat of a bullet or mortar.

"The reason that Illinois is such a great institution with limitless
opportunity, and will remain as such long past our short tenure here, is
its people (all of you reading this especially) and our broad, diverse
offerings - our palette of arts and culture, science and technology -
Krannert to NCSA, if you will. Commencement is a time to remind ourselves
of our greatness."

You really do see man as the measure of all things, don't you?  And hold it.  Even if we were as a campus as great as you say, what benefit is there in contemplating our greatness, except in inflating our egos?   If a man as great as Rene Descartes could say, "I am indeed amazed when I consider how weak my mind is and how prone to error," who are we to boast of our greatness?  Many great men with streams of accomplishments (such as Roger Tsien) do not boast of what they have done, but minimize it, and focus on what is left to do.  Even greater men boast only of God and His work!  This is the example we should follow.

"Commencement should also make all of us proud to be stewards of Illinois.
As such we must continue to be mindful that in all that we undertake
excellence must be our ordinary and only standard, whether in teaching, in
research, or in service.  That is one of our most precious core values, a
value, by the way, controlled more by motivation than by resources.

How do you define excellence? 

"Last fall when the recession hit its downward stride I said that my only fear was that in responding to the crisis that we would turn away from our bold ambitions and retreat into the hard shell of average... In fact, the opposite happened. You continue to amaze. You continue to follow the creative path of extraordinary. You chose to move forward toward a future less bound by the present and the past, while, at the same time, adhering to the bold values which have defined this great university."

A future less bound by the present and past, eh?  Why is this your goal?  Is it a correct goal?  If I told you that my goal is to live in the present, but understand the influence of the past and the ramifications for the future, what would you say?  Do you believe in progress for its own sake?  What are you interested in progressing the university toward?
       You mentioned that "excellence" is a value of the university, but what are the other "bold values" that you speak of?  Are they too bashful to be named, or are they reverentially named, but nonexistent?  When an undergraduate completes his requirements and receives his degree from this university, is he equipped to communicate wisdom eloquently?  This is the goal of the education at Wheaton according to its president, but what do you see as the goal of education?  While we're at it, what is the goal of man?  Too philosophical you say?  This goal is what shapes all policies at the university because it stems from the worldview of those who guide the university.  Who is your hero, your idol?  Adlai Stevenson?  Do you share his worldview?  Do you want to share it with the students on this campus?  What about the worldviews predominant on this campus will enable students to understand their place in the universe, encourage them to love and not shoot their fellow classmates, and believe there is ultimate reality they can probe and understand?  Do the worldviews predominant on this campus encourage a man to look at his fellow man with compassion, or is compassion only possible by borrowing ideas from Biblical Christianity?  How do the worldviews predominant on this campus ultimately take as God?  If this assessment is incorrect, and the God of the Bible is real, what does that mean for eternity?

Divide and Conquer

"Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it." -- Rene Descartes
(quoted at

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Argonne National Laboratory

What do you get when you combine 750 PhDs in a workforce of 2,800, $530 million per year, and 1,500 acres?  That's right.  Argonne National Lab.  Argonne has three major focuses: basic science, applied science and engineering, and scientific user facilities.  I was with a group of students that recently toured the Lab's crystallography facility.  This facility is housed with the syncroton in an exceedingly ugly, yet functional building.  Let's just say that Argonne spends its money on other things beside looks.  The two staff scientists we met with walked us through the crystallography process, from growing to shipping to loading and analyzing.  Students around the country work to crystallize their proteins, then ship them in liquid nitrogen to Argonne.  Once here, the crystals are mounted and delivered to the "beam line" -- analysis pods tapping into the synchroton which produces x-rays.  Basically, even if its speed is constant a particle moving in a circle is constantly accelerating because it is constantly changing direction.  These accelerating particles release energy in the form of x-rays as they accelerate.  I must say that my picture of tapping into the beam line is fuzzy and probably wrong.  Most of the terms used to describe the process made it sound as if the deliverable was water, not radiation!  A system of mirrors is involved, this much I know.  A staff scientist showed us a retired mirror which is likely the most flat object my eyes will ever encounter.  If I remember correctly, the mirror is level to within a few nanometers as you travel across its surface.  At various points along its circumference there are crystallography pods that have a room where X-rays are remotely diverted from the beamline down to a mounted crystal.  The angle at which the crystal is mounted and the X-ray interacts with the cyrstal is varied, and a set of diffraction patterns is obtained.  These diffraction patterns are delivered to a researcher's computer a few feet from the crtstallography chamber.  When an adequate number of diffraction patterns have been obtained, a researcher can analyze them and (hopefully) determine the crystal's structure.  The diffraction patterns can be "stepped through" in a way similar to an MRI.  In the old days, solving a single crystal structure was  enough to get you a PhD.  Today, with the speed of analysis burgeoning to a previously inconceivable value, a single cyrstal structure can be solved in a few hours in a best-case scenario.  Several members of my lab have several solved crystal structures under their belts -- and their graduate career is in nowise finished!
     Questions such as "How did you come to Argonne" and "How are you funded?" opened up several interesting stories.  One of the crystallographers told us bluntly that she did not publish any papers during her graduate or postdoctoral careers.  In a publish-or-perish academic world, the professorial track was not for her.  Besides, she said, she realized that her personality was not conducive to a professorial role.  So, she came to Argonne.  Another staff scientist said that he has focused on user services since grad school, and write user software as his research.  Thus, an environment such as Argonne's is a perfect fit.  These two crystallographers, are completely supported through government agencies.  Others at Argonne raise their finances through private industrial sponsors.  Over lunch we met with a scientist who did just this.  He said that the funding has influenced many of his career choices.  Before coming to Argonne he worked in private industry.  What struck him was that marketing professionals were the ones making key decisions.  PhD-level scientists were told to work on whatever was profitable at the moment, and often ended up following fads instead of taking the risk of predicting where the market would go next.  At Argonne, he warned us, the overhead is very high.  With no tenure, you can stay only as long as you are profitable.  The base cost of hiring an additional staff member is so high that it dwarfs the differences in the salary of a BS- and PhD-level scientist.  Thus, PhD recruits are favored over BS recruits: if you are going to pay the base cost, you might as well hire a PhD.
     The place was fascinating.  It was clear that the people here were at the top of their game.  It must be heady for those working there, and it showed me that grad school is clearly preparation for what comes next.  Competition and achievement are definitely expected in whatever field a person chooses after grad school is complete.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

"Read Carmen's Mind"

This Ira Carmen sounds like quite the character... and he teaches at UIUC!

Open mouth. Insert money.

What's the phrase?  Oh yeah.  "Put your money where your mouth is."  (Note: the literal interpretation of this statement is generally discouraged by mothers and other health professionals because of the germ-ridden state of most forms of currency).  You say you're a hard-core Democrat?  Or you say you're a red-blooded conservative?  Well, do your political contributions harmonize with the song you're singing?

If someone was to check out your financial contributions, what story would they tell?  "You can't look that up" you say?  Fortunately or unfortunately, you can.  Hmm.... Google your name, city, and the word "contribution."  And see what comes up.  It's pretty scary at how accessible this information is.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Have and eat

I can have my cake and eat it too, but only if I take your cake.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Goodness of Fit

For the materialist, there is nothing beyond the physical world.  Any supposed hint of a reality beyond matter is bogus, and the only way to discover laws about this world is empirically.

Thus, for the materialist, the word "truth" means only "that which I have personally discovered to this point, or which I accept from someone else's inquiries."  Everything is relative, even intertial reference frames.  Therefore, if two materialists disagree, the discussion would be about "your truth set doesn't intersect with my truth set, and you should change to my truth set."  With two subjective truth sets at war, no objective standard is available.  If one materialist is stronger than the other, he could force the other to pay lipservice to the other truth set, but even then the change is from one subjective truth set to another.  Thus, the words "What right do you have to impose your morality on me?" is completely consistent with the materialist's presuppositions, and resulting worldview.

The Christian believes that there is something beyond himself, beyond humans, and beyond the physical world.  Some hint of these things is available to every human and can be discovered (albeit imperfectly) through empiricism.  But our chief source of certainty is God and His revelation.  He peels back a corner of the curtain and reveals truth directly to us at times, through creation, Scripture, His Son, His Spirit, and all four working together.  

Thus, for the Christian, the word "truth" does not mean "my truth."  It means absolute, God-ordained truth.  Thus, when one Christian says to another "What you've done is wrong," the first Christian is not saying "Your truth set does not intersect with my truth set."  Instead, he's saying "There is an absolute standard of truth, including definitions of good and evil.  And your actions are violating those standards."  The issue is not, then, that one Christian is imposing his subjective set of truth on another Christian.  It's that one Christian is calling another back to the objective truth that God ordained.  

Physical strength ideally doesn't matter, and one Christian pulling another back from the precipice is not an act of arrogance ("My ideas are better than yours"), but mercy ("Come back to God's way!  I'm not saying that my thoughts are better than yours, or that my truth is better than your truth!  There is only one truth: the one created by the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  I didn't invent it: I just recognized it when God showed it to me!").  Every person has some grasp of truth, but also has accepted falsehood.  We can only assess our worldview's "goodness of fit" because there is a standard we are comparing our ideas and lives to: Christ.  We know how close our lives are to the standard (R^2=0.999? 0.888? 0.222?) because a perfect line descended and made Himself known.  To use another example from math, our lives are about approaching an asymptote ordained by God.  What would our lives looked like if we no longer strove to approach the asymptote? And while we may not reach the asymptote in this lifetime, we can desire to reach it, and strive to reach it.  In the process, the Spirit is preparing us for Heaven, where we will be made perfect.  Don't you groan for that?


Most of my mistakes in grammar come from my abhorrence of ending a sentence.  Come on!  End it!  Stop hedging with a dash.  Stop splicing with a comma!  Use periods more than colons, periods more than semicolons, and periods more than parentheses.  End it!

"Emergency does not create power"

"Emergency does not create power. The Constitution was adopted in a period of grave emergency. Its grants of power to the Federal Government and its limitations of the power of the States were determined in the light of emergency and they are not altered by emergency."—U.S. Supreme Court (1934, 290 U.S. 398), as quoted on <>

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Seeing Fantasy

Now here's a site with incredible fairy tale illustrations!


Eric, in my lab, ended a safety email with "Bravado seldom leads to a long healthy life."  It makes for an interesting biography, though!

Lookin', Lord

So, I'm lookin' for a group of Christians to fellowship with on Sunday mornings.

And I found... prayer from 6:30-7:30 M-F at TCBC. Woah! I stumbled across this because of an article about Brian McMurray that mentioned that he worships at Covenant Fellowship Church. Let me get this straight: this fellowship has eight different prayer times each week?! Mornings, Monday through Friday from 6:30-7:30, as well as evenings, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday. The Wednesday one goes from 10PM - 3AM?! Woah: this is amazing.

They have two Sunday services. One's at 9:30, and the other's at 12:30. They also meet from 7-9PM in the Wesley Foundation.

So why am I looking any further? I want to see what else is out there. This church's list of events said nothing about their being involved

I also looked to see if there were any Messianic Jewish fellowships nearby. There's a whole listing of the ones in Illinois, blessedly! The closest one is in Springfield, though. That's a 1:26 hr. drive, and their website hasn't been updated since 2007! Ah...

I looked up Life Chain Urbana to see who's coordinating it here in Champaign-Urbana. (I actually didn't know until last year that it was happening!) Here's the sponsors: John & Myrna Buyno. The pick is at 1:30, on Kirby Ave. at Hessel Park, and the Life Chain will be happening from 2-3PM. So where do these sponsors go to church?

According to a news story about their prize-winning, abortion-themed parade float, St. Matthew's Parish. (Another nugget from the story is that Mr. and Mrs. Buyno have started a pro-life group called "Life is for Everyone," and their church also has a pro-life "Respect Life Committee.")

Okay. This is feeling more and more like a lit. seminar. Should I start with an application and find a technique, or start with a technique and find an application? After trying the first approach multiple times, I found that the second approach was much better. So instead of looking for churches and finding out later if they care about abortion and other frontline issues, I'm going to look at abortion and other issues in the area and see what churches are involved. I started this a couple months ago by calling the two crisis pregnancy centers in town and asking what churches they would recommend. Birthright is Catholic-based, and when the gal knew it was a "Protestant" church I was looking for, she recommended TCBC. The lady from the other center recommended TCBC, and Midwest Believers' Church. I'd been to TCBC before, but was not excited about the message of some of the songs we sang, the organ, and the view that some of the members/Bible teachers take toward Scripture's teaching about politics (and more broadly, worldview formation). I tried out the Midwest Believers' Church and found myself in the midst of Olsteen-esque health and wealth gospel preaching -- from a woman. The woman was yelling "Hallelujah" and "Ha, ha, ha" over people that responded to the altar call while calling song requests over her shoulder to her husband who was tinkering away on the keyboard. It was pretty wacky, and I knew that her premise -- that God doesn't want us to be poor or sick -- was unScriptural. I left as soon as the "Ha, ha, ha's" started, and didn't turn around.

I loved the worship and sharing at Stratford Park, but thoughts I heard during my first Sunday there were reiterated in a myriad of ways. In the first sharing time I attended, it was right around election time. A man stood and talked about how as Christians we have no part in the poltical process, but must sit by and watch what happens. With a chilling symmetry, this is the same line that the teaching elder and his wife took when they talked to me about the role of their church and the culture wars.

So... I'm looking!

Wow -- a search for "prolife Champaign" showed there was a 40 Day Vigil in Champaign starting in April. People fasted and stood outside Planned Parenthood. Is this still going on? Ahh... I see. It was from February 25 - April 5. Their kickoff rally was at the Newman Center on campus. Woah!!! That place's a hotbed!!!! There's a video featuring the national director, David Bereit, and a local contact person named Michael DeClerck. Woah. I looked through the calendar to see if people had signed up for time slots to hold vigils at the local Planned Parenthood. But no one seems to have signed up. Boy, that's sad. Hmmm... I wonder where Mr. DeClerck goes to church? (Note: the next 40 Day Vigil will be held September 23 – November 1, 2009, and they have a facebook group: 40 Days for Life. They have a national website, too).

ording to an article about this year's 40 Day Vigil in Champaign, DeClerck is a member of the Newman Center. All roads, it seems, lead to the Newman Center. (Check out this article, by the way. It's great to hear from local people why they care enough to do this).

lists 1893 as the date the first Newman Center was founded (and one of the co-founders was a medical student!). They're named in honor of John Henry Cardinal Newman, who encouraged Catholics to attend non-Catholic universities (see the website for his society here). The centers are oases that encourage Catholics in their faith. Hmmm... what do ya know? The UIUC St. John's Catholic Newman Center is the largest in the nation, and a model one to boot!

Okay, so that river went into the ocean of the Newman Center, as well. Hmmm... looking... This is interesting: Find a Champaign ministry through Great! No ministries listed under any subject! Looking... (Incidentally, I came across the Illini Collegians for Life website! Lots of good stuff, along with some junk. For example, they advertised a speaker who is working to end the death penalty: "
Jennifer will be speaking at the YMCA on Wright Street on April 23rd, at 7:30pm. In addition to the speaker, students in a university social justice course will be reading some of their poetry as well as the poetry of local prisoners in the Champaign jail. There will be snacks, as well as entertainment by Brazilian samba band Desafinado." Now if that isn't PC (shall I saw culturally Marxist?), nothing is. Oh great. It gets worse. Another anti-death penalty event featured the "Buddhist teacher" of an executed criminal. Where's the discernment, folks? On the awesome side, students from this organization have gone to several March for Life events! Their sign had a quote from Thomas Jefferson: "The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government." They also had a protest against a Planned Parenthood gala on campus Also, take a look at the Cemetary of the Innocent they put out on the Quad, April 10, 2007. Woah! How'd I miss that?). Illini Collegians for Life partners with the statewide organization Students for Life of Illinois.

"Prolife churches Champaign" had some hits. And on another rabbit trail, I found a letter from October 2007 by Joy Pace, the head of the Pro-Life committee at her church -- Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in Champaign. She urges her readers not to trust Planned Parenthood with their kids. She speaks of the bonuses Planned Parenthood awards to students they've trained to convince kids on campus to have abortions. Wow. This is evil.

Cool! Here's a directory of pro-life churches in Illinois "
whose leadership is courageous enough to speak out on this issue." But none listed in Champaign or Urbana? Urggh! Ahh... it is only for Central Illinois. Fortunately they do have a list of links to explore. Here's the website of the Illinois Right to Life Committee.

Neat-o! Here's a story from January of this year about John Paul Deddens speaking at First Church of the Nazarene in Galesburg. They have an annual prayer service for life. Problem: Galesburg is 2:23 hrs. from here! Urggh...

Umm... here's a hit! Living Alternatives listed sponsors for their 2008 fundraising event, and First Christian Church of Champaign is on there! All of the other listed sponsors are businesses! I wonder if their preacher talks about abortion? (Incidentally, Living Alternatives notes that
"The cost for us to advertise monthly in the area phone books is a little over $1,000 a month! That is $250 a week or $35 a day! That seems high, we know, but what is a life worth?")

Ahh.. I'd forgotten. First Christian Church was also one recommend by Living Alternatives when I called them. And it lists Living Alternatives on its website as a ministry it supports. But I went there one Sunday and found that they're a semi-mega church. That is, it's huge, has an weekly operating budget bigger than my annual salary, and looking to get bigger. Yikes!

Great. Looking for "Urbana prolife church" found an article by the Urbana Theological Seminary weighing in on the Octomom debate. Here's their efforts, which shed darkness on the subject: "
Who would be so bold to appeal to religious traditions which might assert that Ms. Suleman should not have pursed children at all as a single woman with no husband? We can be thankful that those dogmatic, culturally insensitive statements have been banished from the public square, rightly condemned as discriminatory and an affront to both our collective rationality and autonomy. After all, judgments stemming from such religious strictures are unfairly restrictive, and call our unencumbered pursuit of fulfillment into question... But unlike many of the scurrilous, vitriolic comments leveled by rights-respecting citizens who want to ensure that their tax dollars are never put toward supporting this misguided mother and her newborns, the church ought to be the one place where all of our assumptions are critiqued by the community of faith, by brothers and sisters significantly shaped by the wisdom discerned in Scripture, which certainly includes the truth that 'the kingdom of God belongs to such as these' (Luke 18:16b). " Thank you, UTS.

Switching for the time being to another topic, I've found a church not to go to. Church of the Brethren
Champaign, IL, with the Rev. Paul S. Kohler as pastor, participated in the 2006 Evolution Day2009 event, though sadly a church from my hometown (Christ Lutheran Church) did, and the number of participating churches more than doubled from 467 in 2006 to 1,049 in 2009).

OK. Looking for "Worldview church Urbana IL" came up with a link to "WorldViewEyes," a ministry directed by Dr. Richard Knopp, who is the president of the board for Christian Campus Fellowship. His full CV is listed on the website, and "[
and were congratulated for it. Clergy were encouraged to assure their congregants that there need be no conflict between "religion" and "science": just accept evolution! (To give them the benefit of the doubt, this congregation was not listed as participating in the m]uch of his graduate work focused on the relationship between science and religion." He obtained his PhD from UIUC, in Philosophy. He currently gives seminars on apologetics, and stands strong in creationism! He has spoken to the med school at Peoria on "The Compatibility of Faith and Science." He's had two retinal detachments in his left eye. Hmmm! Worldviews! Campus ministry! Sounding good!

This ministry's homepage lists their weekly events, including Lifegroups (small groups), and a weekly worship service at 7PM on Thursdays. They offer rides to area churches, including the Vineyard (the closest thing we have to a megachurch), TCBC, Stratford Bible Chapel, and First Christian church. Hmmm... here's the question: I wonder where Richard Knopp goes! The seminary he teaches at is in Lincoln, IL, which is a 1:27-hr. drive from here.

He taught an apologetics course at First Christian Church of Champaign back in 2001. He was also a deacon of that church from 1982-1983. (And, interestingly, he was "Youth & Bus Minister" for a Christian Church in Florissant from 1972-1974 and Youth Minister at First Church of Christ in an Illinois town from 1970-1971. Currently he's listed on Facebook as being in Peoria. (And comparing this profile picture to the one on the CV, it looks like the same person).

(And if he doesn't live in Chambana, maybe he can recommend a church with a solid emphasis on worldviews! Maybe there's one that's hosted him for a WorldViewEyes conference!)

Okay... I'm going to email Dr. Knopp and ask what churches he would recommend in the area that maintain a strong, Biblical worldview. Yeah! His email address is listed here.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

There's only two options

"It's not intelligent design.  It's stupid design!" -- James White, summarizing Dan Barker's insistence that any design in nature are due to design by natural selection, not an intelligent designer.  (Check in later for a full review of the debate held on campus, April 30, 2009).

Friday, May 01, 2009


Navigators has a 20-somethings ministry called "better2gether" or b2g.  They're holding a conference in Chicago on July 30-August 2.  Here's the details and the registration page.  The cost is $280 per person which covers lodging and chow, and the venue is Loyola University.

Oh... that makes sense!

There comes a day when you start realizing why things consistently go the same way.  You start seeing a pattern and start wondering how that pattern's come about.  The explanation comes by recognizing the assumptions you have: the consistently inadequate amount of time you've spent on something, or the unreachable standard that you've set for yourself.  Perfectionism is the ultimate negative thinking: the cup ain't full until it's perfectly full.  No wonder perfectionists never feel satisfied with themselves!  To be completely satisfied with ourselves we'd have to be perfect, and none of us are!


"Ideas shape the course of history." -- John Maynard Keynes
(Keynes sounds like "Canes")

Oh yeah, brother.  And your ideas are sure shaping my country's history!

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.