31.3.04

If Yesterday Were the Last Day

If yesterday were the last day of school, everything would have made sense.

I woke up early Tuesday morning to what I thought was the sound of crickets; a lot of them. Which is a little weird when your inside the city, nearly downtown. I quickly forgot about it, but when I left my house the sound was loud as ever. To my surprise, at the end of the alleyway, maybe 10 feet above the ground, were dozens of birds wheeling around in a tight circle for no apparent reason. As I know nothing about birds, I thought it looked cool, and did my best to prevent thoughts of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” from entering my mind. That effort was to no avail; I looked around, and thought the trees looked weird; it took a minute, but I soon saw what was making the noise. Nearly a dozen trees, with no leaves on them, had a bird on every branch, twig, or space. Cool and creepy; my pace quickened. Soon I was past them, though they later flew over my head, going north somewhere.

The rest of my walk to school was normal, except that it is the first time this since fall that I saw people walking around with no jackets. Everything breathed change, it was in the wind, and the bus smog.

My first class was supposed to be a presentation, but the presenter skipped out. “So what shall we do this class?” We started class 30 minutes late, and studied Psalm 1, it was very relaxed. During my third class, the teacher answered his cell phone, in the middle of the lecture, and talked for a few minutes with his girlfriend. The whole class was laughing and saying Hi. Once again, everything breathed of change.

My last class, which was actually the last class for that course, was fun. All year the students had been presenting on various books, this day the Prof. presented. Then he took us all out for drinks and food.

Everywhere I looked were people outside, having fun, not rushing to get indoors. Playing ultimate, and football; we almost had class outside. There was a spring smell on the air, and everything breathed of change.

Of course, I have to face the reality. There is a week of school left, I have 3 finals and 2 essays outside of normal classes, and I won’t be officially finished until Apr. 21st. Still, if yesterday were the last day of school, everything would have made sense.
The Day After Tomorrow?

There is a new movie coming out this summer, which I think looks good, called The Day After Tomorrow and as you have probably guessed, it is a post-apocalyptic (or during the appocalypse) movie. Based on global warming, huge climate change caused by the drastic change of large ocean currents due to polar melting, some of the trailer's most stunning scenes are of New York buried in snow. Looks cool. Why do I bring this up? Well, I heard about a new environmental problem. Yipee!! Ever heard of ocean dead zones? They are near the top of the list of emerging environmental problems according to the UN-EP. To much fertilizer and chemical runoff gets into areas of the ocean, accelerating the growth of algae, which then dies, consuming oxygen, and eventually up to several square miles of ocean has no oxygen. In the last 10 years the area of known dead zones has more than doubled. On top of that did you know that 14% of the world's population relies of fish? goodie goodie.
For more Info. go here, or look it up on google.
Thanks to a friend of mine, John, for pointing out this new environmental issue (really... I am not sure if that was sarcastic or not).

28.3.04

It is the custom of unbelievers to speak as if the air of Palestine were then surcharged with belief in the supernatural, miracles were everywhere. Thus they would explain away the significance of the popular belief that our Lord wrought signs and wonders. But in so doing they set themselves a worse problem than they evade. If miracles were so very common, it would be as easy to believe that Jesus wrought them as that He worked at His father's bench, but also it would be as inconclusive. And how then are we to explain the astonishment which all the evangelists so constantly record? On any conceivable theory, these writers shared the beliefs of that age, and so did the readers who accepted their assurance that all were amazed, and that His report "went out straightway everywhere into all the region of Galilee." These are emphatic words, and both the author and his readers must have considered a miracle to be more surprising than modern critics believe they did. Yet we do not read of any one was converted by this miracle. All were amazed, but wonder is not self-surrender. They were content to let their excitement die out -- as every violent emotion must -- without any change of life, any permanent devotion to the new Teacher and His doctrine.
... G. A. Chadwick (1840-1923), Gospel of St. Mark [1887]

Rational conviction, even when it can be had, is very different from commitment... Commitment to Christ is a matter for the entire person, not for his mind alone; and intellectual conviction (if, indeed, it can be had at all without the whole person being involved) is not the whole business. But the whole business, precisely because it concerns the whole person, can never be achieved in defiance of the intellect. Reason, though not the whole, is part of personal response.
... C. F. D. Moule, The Phenomenon of the New Testament [1967]
As you might have guessed, if you read into the previous post, and if you noticed the comments on The Heresy, I have recently been reading more about the situation in Iraq. With the goings on with Clarke and such, how could I not?

It seems that everytime I delve into the issues surrounding the war and occupation they have all gotten worse. The report on my last post details many of the misleading, and outright lies, from the leaders in the U.S. If what Clarke says is true (go here or here or here, and thanks to Leighton at TheHeresy for those links. Also check out this for some comments on how the WhiteHouse is responding to Clarke, and many more links to follow if you want), well thats just more fuel on the fire.

I get more and more cynical about the government, ours, the U.S., or anywhere. I mean, I know that government can't really change people, or the world, but I used to think that honesty wasn't to high of an expectation (naive, i know). I may disagree with someone's stance, but if they are a person of integrity at least I can respect them. I also used to take for granted people were honest until I knew otherwise... at least in matters of government, it sometimes seems that the opposite strategy, though uncharitable, may be more accurate. I know the cynicism is bad, and I hope I don't get to the point where I assume guilty until proven innocent, but the Bush administration is certainly straining the bonds of my charity.

If you care about/are interested in the Iraq war and Bush and all that, you might want to check out: This report by minority staff, special investigations. Its from the House of Representatives webpage.

25.3.04

Jesus communicates
Heart is expressed through words
The darkness within

(A butchered Haiku. Can you do 6-6-5? its still 17 syllables...?)
The primary cause of the [denominational] divisions is the institutionalism and organisationalism of the churches, which, without vivifying the life of the believers in them, smothers or drives it out of the ekklesia, and makes [the churches] merely dead institutions. Christians who really have life in Christ cannot exist within such a corpse and will at last have to come out of it. But in almost all cases, those who have come out of dead institutions want to have in their place another institution or other rituals and ceremonies, only repeating the same error. Instead of turning to Christ Himself as their center, they again seek to find fellowship and spiritual security on the very same basis that failed, not realizing that it is the institution that is killing, instead of producing, life in Christ. Even the Bible itself is interpreted and understood in various ways, and so always becomes the center of sectarianism. Just in the same way, dogmas and creeds cannot bring Christian unity, because human minds are not so uniformly created that they can unite in a single dogma or creed. Even our understanding of Christ Himself cannot be the basis of unity, because He is too big to be understood by any one person or group, and therefore our limited understandings do not always coincide. One emphasizes this point about Christ, another that; and this again becomes the cause of divisions. If we will only take our fellowship with Christ as the center of Christian faith, all Christians will realize their oneness... All our fellowship, however varied, is with the same Lord, and the same Saviour is our one Head.
... Kokichi Kurosaki (1886-1970), One Body in Christ[1954]

22.3.04

Oh boy! Another preview I have to pass on. Saved looks hilarious. Their main site is down, so even though it is in english and I understand what the movie is about, I still have no idea whats going on.

21.3.04

"Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?" James 2:21
"Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith...What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness." Rom 3:27, 4:1-5
"You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." James 2:24
"For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law." Rom. 3:28
(All NRSV quotes)

One seems an implied contradiction, the other seems a blatent one. Of course there is much more going on here than any of these verses alone can show. So I have an essay to write, on this stuff. Some interesting points. Not everyone believes that these verses can be made to match. Some view them as balancing each other, much the same way that Provebs, Ecclesiastes, and Job balance each other. Others view them as evidence of a conflict within the early church. And of course, there are many explanations as to how they work together and/or are complementary. Next, there is a huge body of scholarship on Paul and Romans, issues range across an incredible spectrum, and pretty much nobody writing on Romans or Paul tries to deal with James. On the other hand, nearly everyone who writes on James has a section as to how these verses work together, or don't work together.
Add some translational stuff, and the fun just never stops. Did you know that some scholars argue that the phrase "Faith in Jesus Christ" (i.e. Rom. 3:22) can be translated "the faithfulness of Jesus Christ" (i.e. Hays, Wright). Stick that in there and see what it does. Also that James 2:18-20 is one of the most difficult passages in the NT? An alternate translation to part of it is: show me your faith by your works and I will show you by my works, my faith." (i.e. Robert Wall)

You know what else I wonder? As much fun as I am having learning about all this; how many people really care? Does it matter? Those who believe will find a way to make it work, because they want to. Those who don't will find a way to show contradiction, because they want to. Most people won't think about it, since there are much more important things going on in our lives. Right?

20.3.04

I haven't been posting much lately. I like stating the obvious. Lots of work to do in school, blah blah blah. 2.5 weeks left, and then finals :)

More importantly though, is this trailer. Its in Japanese and I don't have a clue what is going on, but it sure looks sweet. It would be wonderful if this movie were translated into english someday, or else I learned Japanese... Right.

11.3.04

"for he who always hopes for the best becomes old, and he who is always prepared for the worst grows old early, but he who believes preserves an eternal youth."
Soren Kierkegaard Fear and Trembling

Perhaps this explains why many have thought me 21 going on 40? One of the things I have always said is hope for the best and prepare for the worst... is this in some way a lack of faith? or what does it say of my faith?

7.3.04

I'm home. I've been home since tuesday, after the surgery. Which went well. I was hopped up on morphine for Tuesday, then on T3's wednesday. These, though very different magnitudes, probably have about teh same effect on me... not that the morphine doesn't effect me, but that the T3's effect me a lot. Extra strength tylenol (thursday) makes me feel drunk, so just imagine what the more powerful stuff does. Fun times. I am healing up, able to move around again, which is good because I am hungry a lot.
You would think being home for 5 days in a row, I would have lots of time to get lots of work done. And I have, but I haven't got lots of work done. Enough, but not lots. I blame it on the drugs :)
Depending on how I am feeling, I hope to go back to school tomorrow. It's just a question of how much I can walk.

Good times.

1.3.04

With the "Passion of Christ" just out, and all the hype and blah blah blah, could I really avoid saying something about it?
I saw it back in January at a sneak preview, and very much enjoyed it. Superman, one of my roommates, saw it on saturday with his Fiancee, and they both really enjoyed it. So, on Sunday, Superman and I talked about it a little bit. We talked about how we liked the rawness of the movie, and we liked how some of his teachings were mixed with scenes from the passion, and all of the things that you have probably talked about if you have seen the movie. Then Superman said something a little bit different.

"One thing I really appreciate is that Gibson earned himself a place to make this movie before he did it, and then he made an excellent movie."

This, of course, led us into a discussion of evangelism, how it is done, how it might be done, and how it should be done. It seems, to both of us, that very few Christians put any effort into earning a place to speak. People should listen to us, and if they don't, we will just talk louder!!! On the other hand, we can both think of times when it is not possible, nor appropriate to earn a right to speak. Ideally, we must admit, Christians would not need to earn a right to speak, since people should give us a fair hearing, just as they would anyone else. But lets be honest, this is not an ideal world, and if we ever had anything close to that kind of ideal world we have lost it (wether by our own fault or otherwise).

"In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Mt 5:16). How often, at least within evangelical Christianity, is this model for evangelism ever followed? "The primary function of the church is not evangelism, but to be a place for the dwelling of God on the earth. This requires that people grow and receive God and occupy their place with God. That would have a natural effect of evangelism. What we want is not just evangelism that makes converts. We want disciples...and if you are intent on making disciples and keep on that track, evangelism will take care of itself." Dallas Willard goes on to say that this does not preclude any special efforts in evangelism, but he makes a very good point.
Here is an update on what is going on.

Its been a week and a day since I returned from reading week, and I might finally be starting to get over Chapter withdrawal, as well as home and family withdrawal to. I had my appointment with the surgeon last week, and I did get my wish: It went quickly and well, and the surgery was scheduled quickly. Tomorrow in fact. I am a bit nervous about that; its a day surgery, they are doing it incision style, and I don't expect to be out and about much for a few days. The thought of someone, no matter how qualified, cutting into me, pushing aside layers of skin and muscle to get to a rip in the mesh which blocks my intestines, and place a rubber thingy there... well, its not to appealling.

I finished all the homework I needed to over reading break, and have lots more to do for this semester, so hopefully I will be able to put my downtime to good use and get a good amount of reading done. I did a presentation in my Hebrew Poetry class, which apparently went well (I have my marks back). But I honestly feel so inadequate in that class. I am no good at poetry analysis, nor do I understand the intricacies of the Hebrew language. Nonetheless, it is an excellent class.

I finished another of James Clavell's novels, King Rat. James Clavell, if you don't know, is an excellent author. He wrote Shogun, which is by far his most popular, and so far it is still my favorite. King Rat is a close second though. It's about a Japanese internment camp, during WWII, in Singapore. Besides being an good look into life as a POW (of of Clavell's fortes is his clear, high quality, grasp of whatever culture, or situation, he is writing about) it is also a interesting, accurate, and somewhat troubling glance into human nature. I would highly reccommend it.