Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ben McDonald

This is the Ben McDonald 1990 Score Rookie Card. When I was young I absolutely loved collecting and trading baseball cards. This one was one of my favorites. I loved it not because I had any particular affinity to Ben McDonald, or because he played for the Orioles, but because I wanted a necklace like his really, really badly. I showed this card to my mom that winter so that she would have a visual image of my Christmas list.

I ended up getting a necklace, sort of like this, a little less pricy I'm sure. I loved that necklace and wore it all the time. I'm not sure what happened it to it. I guess I eventually moved on to beaded necklaces, which were made with tiny beads and fishing wire. They were all the rage in 5th grade.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I've really enjoyed the recent post about intuition and knowledge over at Scot McKnight's blog (written by one of his guest bloggers), and the discussion that followed in the comments has been really good also. Good talk about God-of-the-gaps theology (as well as what seems to be Darwin-of-the-gaps thinking by some commenters).

I finally started reading Phyllis Tickle's The Great Emergence. I haven't gotten very far in the book yet, but chapter two on the three strands of society - spiritual, corporeal, and moral - is worth the price by itself.

I want to start a discussion in the next week or so about some slight differences I noticed between NT Wright's Surprised By Hope and Rob Bell's Jesus Wants to Save Christians. In short, the two seem to have different reasonings about why we as Christians should care about the world. Wright uses an illustration of a signpost throughout his book, where Christians are supposed to be the signpost to what is coming when God recreates the physical world. Bell, on the other hand, writes about us making this world into a better place here and now. I think both men obviously want the same thing, but they same to have different reasonings. In Wright's book, he even argues that this world is not getting better (i.e. evolutionary progress) or worse (i.e. some fundamentalist thinking). But since Anna has my copy of Bell's book, I can't get too deep into it right now.

Oh, and Maroon 5 apparently just put out a remix album. Now I am by no means a maroon 5 fan, however I am a big proponent of remix albums and have been a little pissy for two straight years that I can't find my Bloc Party remix album. I listened to some of it on iTunes a little while ago and I like what I've heard. Of course, that would mean having a Maroon 5 album in my library, so I'm in a bit of a quandry.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"I wind experiences around myself and cover myself with pleasures and glory like bandages in order to make myself perceptible to myself and to the world, as if I were an invisible body that could only become visible when something visible covered its surface."

-Thomas Merton

Friday, November 21, 2008


In A Secular Age, Charles Taylor describes the differences in the Western world between the year 1500 and the year 2000. He describes the year 1500 as an age of Enchantment, when people believed that fulfillment was found outside of themselves, and saw non-human entities (angels, evil spirits, relics, icons, etc.) having causal influence over their lives. The year 2000, on the other hand, is marked by progress in the sciences and a greater understanding of the world in which we live, leading to an age of disenchantment. No longer do people believe that angels or evil spirits have any sort of causal influence on their lives, and fulfillment is found within the mind. There are no spirits bringing weather patterns as a result of sin or charity, only the laws of nature describing normal occurences.

For the most part though, Christians still believe in outside causal influences. Only now we cannot hold these beliefs naively, as Taylor would say. A Christian can watch the weather channel and see hurricanes forming along with the atheist. So what does it mean to say that a hurricane is sent as judgment on a city, or to pray that a hurricane not hit? Are certain hurricanes somehow injected with purpose, while others are simply the right mixture of weather patterns and waves?


I want to become reenchanted with the world, but not with any sort of ignorance. To stand in awe of the God who created the stars, while understanding and acknowledging the natural existence of stars themselves. When I was little, I would see with ultimate wonder the beauties of nature as a sign pointing to the creator of nature. And I was a great philosopher then. All children are great philosophers. It only takes a seven year old son repeatedly asking his dad "why?" for every answer the dad gives him about why things are the way they are to see that. It's only when we become older that we become satisfied with simple answers and forget that our questions might actually be bigger than that.


It is one thing for a scientist to tell you the history of cellular organisms, but another thing for the philosopher to tell you the purpose of cellular organisms. As Christians, we have to have open ears, wide eyes, and thoughtful mouths with our dialogue partners in the sciences and philosophies. Because purpose is still extremely important, and that means we still have a place at the table.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Descartes' Skull

This is the skull of Rene Descartes. Across his forehead is a Latin poem celebrating his genius, as well as an accusation of theft written in Swedish. Descartes believed that the mind and body were completely separate things, and the irony of his skull being separated from his bones has been noted by several sources.

But anyway, the skull of Rene Descartes is now kept under lock and key at an anthropology museum in Paris, Musee de l'Homme. In 2005, Russell Shorto went to this museum to see the skull for himself. The director of conservation led Shorto to the basement, where he took the skull out from its box where it is currently kept and presented it for his viewing...

"Voila le philosophe."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Carry The Weight

The new Denison Witmer album, Carry the Weight, is out. I just got it but haven't been able to listen to it much yet.

When I first moved to Pompano Beach in 05 (post Katrina), Denison's last album, Are You a Dreamer?, came out. I drove all around that afternoon and couldn't find it anywhere. Finally, at one record store an employee told me they had been given a promo copy of the album. He gave it to me, with the promise that I wouldn't tell anyone. That cd was so valuable to me that when I got to Brad and Mandi's apartment for Bible Study later that night, I actually brought it inside with me.

Sometimes I would listen to that album at night time while I read Celebration of Discipline or Orthodoxy. That was an incredible year of openness and discovery in my life, embracing Richard Foster and G.K. Chesterton and the emergent church. And Denison's music was the soundtrack to all of that.

"When did we decide that life had to be
All facts and checks, that we lost mystery?"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Books

A few new books that I'm really enjoying or have recently enjoyed:

Born Standing Up - Steve Martin
Descartes' Bones - Russel Shorto
The Best of All Possible Worlds - Steven Nadler
Warranted Christian Belief - Alvin Plantinga

Since college I had written Descartes off as a guy with one pithy phrase ("I think, therefore I am") and an outdated idea ('ghost in the machine'/soul-body complete distinction). But I've recently realized how important Descartes is for modern philosophy, and Descartes' Bones is an excellent history of the man and his philosophy, really well written by New York Times columnist Russel Shorto. Nadler's book is a sequel of sorts to the Descartes book, as it traces his line of thought and the reaction to it through three important philosophers (Malebranche, Liebnitz, Arnauld). I'm a big fan of both of these books, and they are both extremely accessible, historical, fun accounts to read.

I have a few areas of study that I want to try to blog about soon, such as whether God intervenes in life and what that might look like, and whether we actually have distinct, immaterial souls. So I'm going to try to work on that.

Oh, and the Steve Martin book is amazing. Makes me appreciate his stand-up way more than I already did.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

God and the Weird Old Testament

Joshua 10: 28 - That day Joshua took Mekkedah. He put the city and its king to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it. He left no survivors.

Joshua 10: 40 - So Joshua subdued the whole region... He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel had commanded.

Joshua 11: 20 - So it was the Lord himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Joshua 23: 12 - But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you.

(from the TNIV)

I heard Paul Copan, who is a really good philosophy professor at Palm Beach Atlantic, give a lecture-response to the New Atheist Club on God commanding acts in the Old Testament that seem unethical. The most popular example of this is when God tells Joshua to completely wipe out all the Canaanites in the book of Joshua.

First, Copan suggested that the O.T. texts be handled with more care than the New Atheists (Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens, etc) have done in their recent books. Then he gave several suggestions on how to better read and understand the texts, some of which I thought were really helpful. Here are his suggestions:

-Israel would not have been justified to attack the Canaanites without YHWH's command
-Wiping out the Canaanite's religion was the goal
-The language of Joshua was hyperbolic (compare Joshua 23 with 9-12, where 9-12 utilize Ancient Near Eastern terms of warfare)
-The crux of the issue is that if God exists, he has prerogative over human life, whereas the New Atheists seem to think he should have no special place)

I really liked his third point the most, where when the two texts mentioned are compared, you can come away with a sense of hyperbole within the text. He spoke more on other issues involving the O.T. (law of Moses, slavery, sex, etc.), that I might put up later because I really learned from all of the lecture.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

All the Earth is the Lord's

I think one of the drawbacks of the reformers (among the many excellent things they did) was their negative attitude toward natural theology. But I am excited now because I think that nature is beginning to make a comeback in theology. Hopefully a correct view of nature in Christian doctrine can help us better refute statements like this:

“Evolution is part of a much broader and older inquiry and a deeper contest for our intellectual commitment, a contest between a world system that expects every part of the cosmos ultimately to be explainable in terms of natural properties and processes and one that maintains the existence of a fundamental core of unknowability, of supernatural mystery and controlling hand of an eternal non-worldly Being. This may be humankind’s oldest intellectual puzzle.” (from the preface to Keith Thomson's Before Darwin)

Now, my main disagreement with this sentiment is that modern science was founded upon the Christian belief that if God made nature then it would have order and be worth studying. But now certain individuals within the scientific community want to assign a God-of-the-gaps to Christianity, and then dismantle that God by showing how orderly and knowable the world is (Not that we really know that much about the world now).

I just got Allister McGrath's The Open Secret: A New Vision For Natural Theology and am really excited about it, not only as a means of the defense of nature as God's creation but as an eye opening account of nature that leads me to worship God more when I look out at the night sky.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Possible Textual Worlds

The original text from Mark 1: 1-12 has really moved me in a new way lately as I've thought about it. But what if the ending was slightly changed?


from Mark 1:

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

Then, turning from the paralytic on the mat, Jesus continued teaching all those in the house. And when Jesus was done teaching, the man's friends carried him away.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

M83 Appreciation Post

i love M83 because they make me feel like John Hughes is filming my life. They also make me do John Bender fist pumps into the air.

i can't stop listening to this song.

kim and jessie.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Those Emergents

I've read two new books in the last week on the emergent church, one as a pro and one as a con to the movement and its philosophy and theology.

The first is called Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be). Ed Stetzer recommended this book when he was giving a talk on the emergent church a couple of weeks ago on campus, and I noticed that it sold out at the campus bookstore that afternoon. I'm not going to review it now, but I will say that while I don't think it's a great critique in any sense, it is more helpful than some of the other strawman books that have come out on the subject (coughjohnmcarthur).

The other book I read is The New Christians by Tony Jones. As a full disclosure, the only other Tony Jones book I own (The Sacred Way) literally sits under my book shelf to help prop it up. Now, having said that, I will say that I LOVED this book. It offers a background for the group, a look into theology, and a look at some of the churches in practice. I would encourage everyone I know to read it. The emergent idea of a humble hermeneutic is opened up throughout. I don't agree with how far he takes that idea, but it really made me think about my own views of hermeneutic and gave an understanding to where they are coming from.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Getting Past the 'Yom' Debate

This week I wrote down two questions that I have been thinking through related to inerrancy and Genesis.

1. Did the Biblical authors have special insight into how events happened and/or the workings of the laws of nature?


2. Did the Biblical authors use common description of events in order to serve their own purpose(s)?

To affirm question 1, a person would argue that God spoke plainly to the writer or gave that writer some sort of mystical insight in some other way.

To affirm question 2, a person would argue that the author of the text used a common cultural story of the creation of the world in order to tell who created the world.

I will say that I am much more persuaded by view 2 than by view 1, despite what many people will see as problems within the view. View 2 cuts through all of the infamous yom debates (did it mean a literal 24 hour period or a much longer span of time) because it isn’t worried about reconciling scientific understanding of the world with scripture. In taking view 2, it could be argued that the author isn’t wrong about the length of time it took to bring about complex life in the world, because the author isn’t arguing for that, but simply adopting that understanding in order to affirm the Hebrews' God.

Now, I do realize that people will have problems with this view and I expect my own view to be much more refined and nuanced with greater understanding in the future (I’m psyched about finally getting John Sailhamer’s Genesis Unbound to help me with some of my continuing questions). But it does help me gain understanding into the text. I can say that the reason the author seems to be describing normal 24 hour days with evenings and mornings is because that is what the author is describing. If the author intended for yom to mean thousands or millions of years, then he does not do a great job at conveying that through the way that he writes. But the cool thing is that it doesn’t really matter. When faced with cultural explanations with how the world was created, the author’s rebuttal seems to be, “Yeah, well our God did it.” I have a slight feeling that if the author was confronted with modern understandings of the creation of the world he would say, “Yeah, well our God did it.” And that seems to be the greater point of the passage.

I’m not totally satisfied with this view and I hold it extremely loosely. I know that it will bring up questions of what inerrancy means, and those are questions I'm still working through.

Also, to see both sides of the argument dealing with yom, read this post by Justin Taylor and the ensuing comments.

To get a description of what Sailhamer lays out in Genesis Unbound, read this review.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

3 Conversations

I've had three conversations in the last three or four days with people who would claim varying degrees of spirituality, but who reject Christianity.

The first conversation was with a girl whose main problems with Christianity are seeming contradictions, some within scripture itself and some with other fields of thought, mostly related to science.

The second conversation was with a girl who could not come to terms with education and Christianity. She believes that the more educated you become, the less you are able to rationally believe Christian theology. She argued that faith is the antithesis of education.

The third conversation was with an older man who came in to where I work for some coffee. He was buying a book called "I Ching," about eastern spirituality. He told me that he rejected orthodox Christianity, and gave me reasons ranging from hypocrisy to inconsistencies from within and outside the text.

Here is a break down of each of the individual arguments:

1.-The creation account in Genesis conflicts with modern scientific understanding of the world
2.-There are contradictions within scripture
3.-Christianity is not compatible with an educated understanding of the world
4.-Many within the church, especially preachers, are hypocrites
5.-History shows contradictions within scripture, such as Josephus not reporting the mass murder of babies that the Gospels claim that Herod ordered
6.-Many of the so-called miracles within scripture could actually be associated with Satan himself, parading as an angel of light
7.-Jesus was not the Son of God, simply a good teacher who at times had his own share of doubts ("Father, why have you forsaken me")

Three people, from three totally different walks of life and stations in life, and yet all but two of their arguments can be split into two basic categories: contradictions and mistakes within scripture and the relation of Christianity and science. Only arguments 4 and 6 would not fit here. But the important thing is that I believe that a correct understanding of scripture can answer every one of these arguments. That's why I'm going to really try to deepen my grasp of what scripture is over the next few weeks.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Fidelity of Betrayal

Pete Rollins has posted the introduction and opening chapter of his new book The Fidelity of Betrayal, and it looks pretty challenging. His last book, How (Not) To Speak of God has been one of my favorites of the last couple of years so I'm pretty pumped for this one. Here's the intro to his new book, coming out at the end of the month:

The Fidelity of Betrayal

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Expanding Borders

I'm about to expand the borders of this blog a bit so that I can write more often and interact more with my friends. I'll probably post mostly on the things I'm interested in at the moment: science, philosophy of science, the church, the emergent church, music, and some of my other interests. But for now, I'm just going to do one of those fun reading/listening posts.

Currently reading:

The Reason For God - Tim Keller
The Shack - William Young

Just finished:

Darwin and Intelligent Design - Francisco Ayala

About to Read:

Surprised By Hope - NT Wright
The Fidelity of Betrayal - Pete Rollins
Why We're Not Emergent - Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck (I'll review this one)

Currently Listening To:

Radiohead - In Rainbows
Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
Vampire Weekend - S/T

Recent blog posts I've enjoyed:

The Poor You Will Always Have With You - Pete Rollins

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Paper Boy

Five reasons Paperboy is the greatest video game of all time:

-It instilled a proper sense of capitalism
Paperboy was rewarded for vandalizing non-subscribers' property

-It taught a proper work ethic
Paperboy did not get any day off during the week

-It drew a clear distinction between right and wrong
Non-subscribers houses were darkened to symbolize their status as the enemy

-It taught a proper attitude toward work
When paperboy took a break on his bicycyle, killer bees attacked

-It marked a proper contrast between suburbia and the inner city
Break dancers were clearly trouble and were to be smacked with newspapers whenever possible

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Where Are They Now

Where Are They Now?: Molly Ringwald

“You know, I wouldn’t have guessed I would be here in a million years,” Molly Ringwald says as she looks up at the Lincoln Memorial. The two-term senator from Iowa has just spent the last 45 minutes reflecting on all of the twists and turns her life has taken in the past 20 years. Once the ‘it’ girl of Hollywood, she is now the co-author of a bill that would universalize Health Care.

“I do think that my days in Hollywood really helped prepare me for life in D.C. It’s the same rough and tumble mentality here that lots of people had out there in the 80’s. And there are tons of actors here too… Charlton Heston... I see Al Franken every once in a while.”

But life hasn’t always been so glamorous for Ringwald. After the critically panned cheerleader-turned-drug-addict drama Junkie On the Pyramid was released straight to video in 1992, Ringwald knew that it was time to make a career move.

“Sure, I could have stayed in Hollywood, playing sweet girl-next-door types for years to come. But at the end of the day, you have to look at yourself in the mirror, and at that point I just couldn’t do it. I just…. I couldn’t do it.”

Asked if she still keeps up with any of her old cast mates, she looks down to the Memorial steps.

“I really wish I kept up with them better. I know that Emilio is doing good, still working on the screen play for the new Mighty Ducks film. Last I heard from Judd, he was taking night classes at the community college. Anthony called the other day and was trying to get everyone together at some point to eat and hang out, but we’re all just so busy now. I would love to see the whole crew, but I know that all of us just have so much going on.”

At this she says she needs to go, so I quickly ask if she ever thinks about getting into acting again in the future.

“Oh, well, I’m not sure. Maybe if the right part came along. Maybe like a story about a business woman who can barely balance work and her son, but is swept off her feet by her son’s after school karate instructor. Something with a lot of depth and heart like that. I just refuse to be type-cast, in Hollywood, D.C., or anywhere else.”

Friday, February 22, 2008

Surprising Revelations

Surprising revelations we will learn about Indiana Jones in the coming Summer blockbuster Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:

-He now teaches Microeconomics on Tuesday nights at Lake City Community College

-He traded in his trademark fedora for a golf-style straw hat

-He was married for eight months before his wife filed for divorce, citing his insistence on calling her Nefertiti the Egyptian Queen

-He encrusted the holy grail with diamonds and calls it his ‘Sippin’ Cup’

-He spent three years digging for the One Ring To Rule Them All, before learning that it was probably just an allegorical device

-He’s still just a little agitated over that whole National Treasure franchise

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Quotes from Barbara Bush: A Memoir that sound humorous when taken out of context:

“And after I lost that $300 to Nancy over the George “The Animal” Steel versus Brutus Beefcake match, I vowed never to watch professional wrestling again. George laughed when I told him and said I wouldn’t make it six months. Well, I showed him by making it over two years.” (p. 164)

“Sure, we had mounted a full-fledged fight against Drug abuse at the time, but Hookah is not a drug, and I was prepared to fight to the death over it.” (p. 119)

“I had stayed up all that night trying to score tickets on the radio to the Popmart tour. And I knew the first minute I saw Bono walk out on stage it would all be worth it.” (p. 83)

“George and I just kept going back and forth, coming up with new jokes about Gorbachev’s birthmark. At one point he was laughing so hard he nearly threw up his pixie stick straws all over the bed.” (p. 72)

“And I’ll be darned if, right after I let it slip out of my mouth, I didn’t look up and see Ice Cube and Dr. Dre standing not ten feet from us.” (p. 204)

“Ted Kennedy really isn’t as big a fan of practical jokes as he lets on to be. He was mad about the ‘Chalk Burn’ incident for over three weeks.” (p. 29)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My write-in ballot for the 2008 Presidential election

I decided this year, going into the presidential election cycle, that I would first list the issues that I cared about, and then use these issues as a guiding post in choosing who I want to be the next president of the United States of America. That is why I have chosen, as my write-in candidate, Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Can stabilize rocky situations:
Check – Along Came Polly

Has shown solid leadership through natural disasters:
Check – Twister

Will be judicious in the handling of criminals:
Check – Capote

Works well with famous Congressional egos:
Check – Almost Famous

Hearts Hearts Hearts

On this day, February 19, 2008, I wish to make amends with the following people:

Virginia Woolf.

You really shouldn't have committed suicide. But I know things got pretty bad in your head and all. So, I promise, I'll do my best to love you non-judgmentally and only call you The Goat as a nickname and not a snide remark.

Girl at the Burger King drive-thru window who shortchanged me $15 my Junior year of College.
I was piss poor at the time of our exchange, so of course I carried some resentment into post-grad life. But I truly hope that you kept my money in your pocket and put it to good use, like mutual funds or that J-Kwon CD that was so popular at the time.

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala.
I really loved At the Drive-In and i'll never quite understand what impressed your hearts to quit. But with that said, even though The Mars Volta is pretty much a salsa jam band, I'm happy that you're doing what you love. I hope you can do it for years to come. Even though it's really, really terrible.

My friend Christine.
I was only attempting to be funny when I pretended that I thought Maroon 5 was Savage Garden and commented on loving their song 'Truly, Madly, Deeply.' Even though that one Maroon 5 song does sort of sound like Savage Garden, I can see now that my comments were in no way helpful and only covered my own insecurities at having kind of liked Savage Garden in High School. From now on, I'll try to keep all unhelpful comments to myself.

The Ghost of Tom Joad.

Tom, I have to admit that I have been a little disappointed on certain occasions when there has in fact been hatred in the air and you were nowhere to be found. I can see now that you were probably just extremely busy, what with all the newborn babies crying and fights 'gainst the blood and all. I shouldn't hold a disjointed world and busy schedule against you. So all is good and all is forgiven.

Hannibal Lecter.
I hate to say this, but I've never even seen one of your movies, Hannibal. But based solely on rumors and the vicious coincidence that your name rhymes with cannibal, I really judged your character and merit as a human being. I can see now that this is wrong and I vow to you that I will not be involved in gossip against you anymore. It's hurtful, slanderous, and just downright mean. I'm truly sorry to you and all your friends and family that have been affected by this.