Thursday, August 30, 2007

Theoretical Question

If you have cancer that has a chance at being successfully treated, but a small chance, is it wrong to not have that treatment? Is it sinful to let the cancer run it's terminal course?

This hypothetical person is 60ish, no wife, maybe but probably does not have any kids, and if he does they're adults.

Sin or not sin?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ah, the Oblivion of Youth

I'm sitting at the breakfast table with Aly flipping through the pages of National Geographic and come to spread on Pakistan. I flip the page and there's a gun battle with terrified people ducking under a rain of bullets. In the background, past the cordite and horror is a white horse running at top speed.

Before I can react and turn the page so Aly won't see it, she points at the stallion and says brightly, "oooo, what a pretty horse!"

It's not in what you see, it's in what you're looking for...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Magnificent Obsession

I've been confusing two books in my mind and in a couple conversations. "The Magnificent Obsession" is not the story of Peter Marshall, the senate chaplain. His biography is "A Man Called Peter" which is a tremendous read.

"Magnificent Obsession" is about a Doctor who was transformed by the Bible. NOT by the God of the Bible, but by the Sermon on the Mount. He read the beatitudes and realized that they summed up "religion." He eschewed church, the singing of songs, and prayer, but believed the beatitudes were the key to life. This belief remade him; he became truly a great man (just not an eternally great man).

I understand his belief, though. I recently had one of the most moving times of devotion in my life. I'm reading only the red letter text; the words of Jesus, himself. God opened the doors of understanding as I read the Sermon on the Mount, and more specifically, the beatitudes. Jesus presents the formula of prayer later in the SotM, and the formula of living a Christian life in the beatitudes.

I do firmly believe that salvation is through acceptance of Christ crucified in my place, so unlike the doctor in the book, worship, thanksgiving and prayer are an outgrowth of faith and must be observed for the power of God to be released in your life, but take a fresh look at the "blessed are..." and see them for the keys to life they are. The rest of the SotM maps back to the beatitudes. It's an amazing devotional. Check it out.

The Concept of Hell

I bought a Christian book on Amazon the other day. A new feature on Amazon is to list discussion groups relevant to the book topic you've selected. One of the discussion threads was "Does Hell Really Exist?"

The discussion was one of vitriol on both sides, sadly. A poor writer broached the subject and atheists and self-proclaimed witches lambasted the guy for believing in Hell. He got defensive and left the Beatitudes in the dust to (badly) trample all over these guys, leaving a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Still more unsettling was the "logic" evinced in the con-arguments.

"The very concept of Hell is abhorrent!" Well, yes, I should hope so; it's a nasty place.

The logic to follow was that since it was such an abhorrent concept it couldn't be true. "Not that I believe in your God," they said, "but if He's so loving, there couldn't be a Hell."

Okay, so a misunderstanding of who God is contributed to the problem, but the real horror of the logic is that since the idea is so bad, it couldn't be true.

Seems kind of backwards. Rather than concern themselves what is true FIRST, they start with the idea of it and reason in reverse, and thereby get the conclusion wrong. See, they're saying 1) Horrible concept. 2) Therefore it's not real. 3) Therefore laugh at anyone who believes it.

Instead is should be: 1) Determine if it's true 2) Oh no! It's true! What do I do? 3) Repent and be saved.

The capper was a fellow who simply said, "I'm a Christian and I know there's no Hell." What kind of Christian are you when you believe most of what Jesus said was a lie? (This begs the question of those who say the Bible was written by men, not God, so it got some things wrong. Besides being logically a poor conclusion, the further illogic of following 'parts' of the man-made doctrine is ridiculous. As Lincoln said, "if it is not true, then tear it up! If then, we can't bring ourselves to destroy it, we must live by it then." He was referring to the Constitution, but it applies to the Bible as well.)

Jesus spoke mightily of grace, forgiveness and the Kingdom of God, but he spoke equally mightily of Hell. While I firmly believe that the courts of God must be that which urges us forward, it doesn't hurt to have the very real goad of Hell to lend some urgency.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Spaced Out Astronaut

We get all sorts of bizarre behavior from Hollywood celebrities, most of it keyed to the excesses of their lifestyle.

I remember when news broke about Kim Nowak, the space shuttle astronaut who flew into Orlando and wore diapers on her drive to the Space Coast so she wouldn't have to make any stops (3 diapers, to be precises, she must have drunk a lot on the plane). Then she accosted her rival for the affections of another astronaut with pepper spray and abduction. I remember being as stunned at this whacked out behavior as everyone else.

But we shouldn't be.

Think about it; Navy officers have to be go-get-'em folks, and they're trained in combat. Astronauts wear diapers on their missions (urine in zero g would just be nasty). So as weird as Lady Kim's actions are to us, they are excessive extensions of her lifestyle. Criminal extensions, but in character nonetheless. We can look at them as way out of the norm, but for her they aren't that far outside the norm.

I've been struck how nonchalant she's been about the crime versus wearing the ankle bracelet. We think "let the punishment fit the crime" but to her she planned and executed a mission that didn't quite work. To her it is excessive punishment.

I mean, if Malissa was running around Orlando in diapers shooting people with pepper spray and roughing them up that would be way strange and we'd visit her in the nut house, but for a Navy Officer/Astronaut, maybe that's not soooo strange, but just a little strange.

Would a jury of her peers be other astronauts and navy personnel? If not, can she get a fair trial?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

If a man falls asleep and makes a terrible racket with no one to hear it, does he still snore?

I had a splitting headache last night that Tylenol was not touching, so I took one of my sleeping pills for the first time since Lynette got home.

Apparently I snore loud enough to beat the walls down when I'm under the influence. Enough so that Lynette relocated to the couch (I've always been a snorer but this was beyond normal and she couldn't wake me up to shut me up). I found this to be tremendously funny, but Lynette didn't. Go figure...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Global Warming

A lot of conservatives deny it exists. I don't. Global warming is occurring. It's probably a part of a regular cycle, so I don't think it's cause for concern, since it will cycle back again at some point. I do think that humanity has a fractional role in global warming, but I don't know that it's the doom that so many people think it is.

Man has been effecting the planet in fantastic ways since we were created. Sometimes willingly (like the disastrous "ecological planning" of Yosemite, which almost destroyed it) but most often unwittingly, which often has positive effects.

Consider the earthworm, for example. Worms are not indigenous to the Americas. The native Americans didn't have any worms before 1750, and it was one reason the Indians didn't invent the wheel. The Americas were heavily forested, and without worms, the detritus on the forest ground was over two feet thick. Wet, dead leaves, logs and branches were piled high everywhere that wasn't cleared out for a village. Wheels were impractical.

The the Jamestown colony came and with it eventually came ships to pick up tobacco. Now, you can't bring an empty ship over and then fill it with cargo, you need ballast. So in France and Spain they filled the ships with dirt, and since they didn't bother to sift the dirt, they also shipped over earthworms. Once in America, they offloaded the dirt and reloaded with devil weed.

Within a year, the forests of New England and eventually all of America had naked floors. Earthworms processed the two to three feet drifts of detritus back into dirt, creating more usable land and the introduction of the wheel. Both Americas were transformed into a completely different environment within ten years.

All because of accidental worm distribution. And the impact of thoughtless humanity.

Further, there were less than a dozen indigenous animals in the Americas. Most of the critters Felicity so loves weren't here before Europeans came over.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Okay, read the post below, because this is follow-up.

I tend to live in my head (oooo, big surprise), and as a result I'm only observant when I want to be, which is almost never in the car.

On the way to church, over a road we've taken hundreds of times, Charli asked, "is that a junkyard?" Yes, it was. I'd never seen it before. I started to look at the buildings we were passing (I wasn't driving) and discovered several companies I'd never known about before.

Then, driving down my own street thinking about the previous post, I started looking at the oak trees that give my neighborhood it's name. These I have admired before, but this time the sight was on the edge of transcendent. Nature, any nature, can do that.

In fact, there is an ancient folktale about a boy who decided to destroy Hell, so he journeyed to that rather nasty place (a feat unto itself) and planted a small seed. A shoot emerged with just one leaf and one small flower.

All of Hell came to a stop. Demons came from the farthest reaches to see the little plant and to weep.

Just think what an oak tree could do...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I've been looking at the photos Lynette took in Washington. It's easy to forget how beautiful it is there, especially when the pictures are taken on clear, sunny days. I'm surprised that they don't make me want to go back (understand, I do want to visit, but for my family not the geography).

It does make me long for beauty, though. For the most part, I'm an indoor, climate-controled kind of person. I don't even go barefoot in house. Nonetheless, the awe-inspiring sight of nature unfettered is about the only way to truly lose oneself to the embrace of God.

Florida has it's sights. The beaches, the Everglades, many and huge lakes, but it's all from the same flat vantage point. I loved the different flora when I moved here, and still do (call me silly, but looking down at Bahama waters from the deck of a cruiseship is the best of both worlds), but the sight of and from mountains is hard to top. There is a brooding, contemplative nature to forested hills and snowtopped peaks that Southerners can't enjoy.

So why the South is the Bible Belt and the North is the most atheistic part of the country, if not the world, I'll never understand. Microsoft, Boeing, Warehouser are all surrounded by forests; the technical world cozy with the natural world (which is, I think, the supernatural world). Yet the wealthy of the Northwest encourages a man-centered lifeview. Incredible.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

They're baaaack!

They're exhausted, my back's killing me, the dogs are ecstatic any they're still on Mountain Time.

I'm not taking the sleeping pill anymore but it's a long, ragged fall back to normal sleep. I didn't sleep much last night, so I should be tired enough to sleep tonight, provided the muscle spasm recedes.

Ben and Charli look taller, Lynette and Aly look shorter. It's kind of funny...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

God has a sense of humor...

I was trying to spiff the place up for Lynette and the kid's return tomorrow, and spent several hours pressure washing. What began as a sore back turned into muscle spasms, which make it very difficult to move. So I'm applying a heating pad, then cleaning until it hurts again, then more heat, followed by more cleaning... the things we do for love.

You know how there are people you just click with? Instant friends. Then there are those you don't click with. Not dislike, just no click. That's my problem with my dog (who I can talk about on here because he can't read -- I'm pretty sure Rainy could, so it's a good thing we clicked). R.J. is a nice dog. I don't dislike him, I just don't really like him all that much. I've never had that with a small dog before. I don't generally like big dogs (with the exception of Fritz, who is the coolest big dog on the planet). Grizzly and I have finally clicked, but poor R.J. needs his kids back for a little attention. I almost feel guilty about it, until I remember that I feed and water the mutt, so he's not suffering.

Just a few rambling thoughts, thinned by painkillers...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Lynette and the kids are camping in Chewak over the weekend. Chewak is just outside Winthrop, which is on the eastern side of the mountains. Yesterday they drove up through the mountains (they counted 122 waterfalls last summer, wonder if they'll count again). They pitch a tent beside a river at the base of a small mountain that's perfect for hiking. My sisters and their families, plus seven dogs are with them to scatter the ashes of my brother-in-law.

It's too dry for campfires this summer, so no s'mores or roasted hotdogs. Luckily there are four trailers with fully equipped kitchens.

When I spoke to them last night, they were in Winthrop getting ice cream. So much for 'roughing it.'

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

One more week!

This is the kidlings riding my sister's horses. Amazingly, they still want to come home...

Monday, August 06, 2007

Annual Triple Birthday Celebration!

Brian, John and Matt all got a year older (today, actually; we just celebrated yesterday). Watched a movie filmed during an earthquake or by a cameraman with delirious tremens that wasn't worth ten bucks, but then we went to Chili's and enjoyed buddy talk for a couple hours that were worth a lifetime.

It's good to have friends with history. Brian and I can crack each other up with a few words that no one else understands. They all forgive me when I get on a soapbox and we can offer each other words of wisdom and silliness all at the same time. It's their birthdays, but I'm the one who feels like I've been given a gift.

Y'all rock!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Wrap Your Mind Around Nothing

Consider this: Atoms are 99% space. There is the nucleus, and orbiting around that are the electrons. Nothing mingles into that orbit of electrons (at least not without a nasty explosion) and the orbit is relatively large, so the atom is almost entirely space.

You and I -- and every material thing -- are composed of atoms, Q.E.D. you and I are 99% space. You really are an airhead!

When Scripture talks of this being a world of shadow, it is quite literal as well as figurative.

Now for a logic breaking question: If you are only 1% here, where's the other 99% of you?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Adventures is Ambien

Ambien is a prescription sleeping pill. Being a complete insomniac without Lynette, they are the only way for me to get any sleep (the only night I attempted it without, I was wide awake all night).

It's a fascinating drug. I take it a half hour before I want to be asleep and either read or watch a DVD episode. It's amazing, the next day I remember reading or watching, but I've forgotten everything else. If I finished a book, I had no idea how it ended.

Even more fun is the relative clarity of being on it before laying down. I feel awake and alert, then I stand and WHOA NELLY! The bottle says it causes dizziness, but really it turns you into a giant Weeble that wobbles but doesn't quite fall down. The upper body moves faster than the lower body, then you overcompensate and lean perilously back.

I haven't fallen down, yet, but last night I broke a mirror. Our full length mirror is now a half length mirror. No one was hurt, although the dogs wouldn't come out of their walk-in closet bedroom the rest of the night.

Cleaning the mess up while on Ambien was an experience. I didn't want to cut myself, but the floor seemed to be moving at a different speed than the walls. I had to clean it up though because their were shards all over the place and the dogs have eight bare feet among them. No cuts, and the only shards I missed were those that somehow made it onto the bed.

Lie down and you got out instantly, then you wake up the next day at 7:45. It doesn't matter what time I go to bed--11, 1, 3-- I'm awake at 7:45. The first couple weeks I wasn't groggy in the morning. I am now a little. And I think there's a little fuzz throughout the day.

This time without my wife and kids, while no fun at all, would be torture without that little pill. I hope I don't still need it when they get home (in TWO WEEKS!).