12.16.2007

Distractions

There seems to be an inverse relationship between the nearness of exams and the necessity of studying and the peculiar urge to do anything but study. If Y is the necessity of studying and X is the nearness of exams, then a graph of Y vs X might look something like the following:


This is readily evident from the utter lack of utility in this post. Oh well, I suppose I shall slip my neck back into Agamemnon's strap of fate. Fare thee well.

11.14.2007

Conundrum


This is a question which has been going round in my head for a couple of weeks now. I know I've asked a couple of you prospective readers about this already, but I wanted to get feedback from a larger audience (and I thought it might encourage you to verbalize your ponderings John ;)

So, without further ado

Are there ever truly moral dilemmas for a Christian? (By moral dilemma, I mean a situation in which one would be forced to choose the lesser of two evils.)

I could elaborate but I don't want to limit the scope of the discussion, so I'll refrain from examples. I'm sure you can think of a couple.

Any and all comments are welcome!

Excelsior

10.30.2007

Moments of Clarity

(photo by Jonathan Gerrans)

I've come up for a breath of air, pushing aside Aeschylus, Churchill, and Copland, dodging Bok's globules and avoiding those pesky exculpatory clauses. It's too easy to lose oneself in the flood of information pouring into our skulls during this fleeting period of time called college. I'm afraid I've missed some priceless opportunities in my mad acquisition of letters and numbers--but I am grateful for what I haven't missed

Sitting in my orange-plaid recliner, listening to Thomas Tallis' Spem In Alium while cutting out felts
Taking time to go to the dulcimer concert, and the organ concert, and the other organ concert:)
Talking with a friend I haven't seen in months
Walking down the promenade in the fall sunshine with Emeric and having the kind of conversation one can only have with a five-year old
Making gargantuan sub sandwichs out of three feet of french bread, two tomatoes, an onion, some sprouts, rosemary basil cheese, and some pickles!
Getting to talk with and learn from Mr. Lampart at the nursing home
Working in the garden and getting to sample the arugula:)
Cutting out snowflakes and coloring with the kids in kindergarten Sabbath School
Singing until I can't sing any more at hymnsing

I'm learning to treasure these little things--moments that do little toward getting my homework done or accomplishing my to-do list, learning that piece for orchestra or clearing off the stack of bills on my desk at work. Yes, there are many important things I must do, but. . .

I'm thankful for the moments of singular beauty that God sprinkles throughout our days.

Excelsior

9.06.2007

Pictures from Camp

I decided to put up a few pictures of summer activities:)



About to take Bekah on a super-cool-awesome boat ride!



Bet you can't guess what I'm doing in this picture... :)



My parents and I on top of St. Regis Mountain




Sailing! (very little wind this trip:-/)

Other activities included climbing high peaks, windsurfing, fort-building, skiing (only aquatic-style, sorry), caving, canoing, the new sport of upside-down-standing-up kayaking, trailriding, loon-listening, and star-gazing :D

Brief Update

Ok, so as you might have already figured out, I'm not at camp anymore. I'm currently back at Southern trying to juggle clubs, jobs, orchestra, various other responsibilities, not to mention 19 hours of classes. So, while I must admit that I'm shamelessly excusing my obvious lack of posting activity with the aforementioned activities, I feel certain you will agree that they are rather important excuses.
As for camp this summer, it was pretty much amazing. I saw God working quite literally in the lives of the kids I was privileged to get to know at camp--and it was AWESOME! If you haven't gotten the opportunity to share the incredibly good news of of the Gospel with somebody before, let me tell you, it's probably the coolest thing you'll ever do!
So that's life, hopefully I can find a moment in the near future to detail some stuff.....if Barry will stop giving me so much work in the SA office! :P
Thanks for tuning in to this brief update. Now, back to you....

Excelsior

6.15.2007

Saranac Lake, Here I Come!

Well, I'm off to camp... I'll be checking this (and writing, perhaps) rather intermittently in the near future, so be forewarned:)


Excelsior

6.06.2007

Thoughts on Friends and Non-Conformity

This past weekend my family and I journeyed down to Shenandoah Valley Academy in New Market, VA to attend graduation. It was a lot of fun to see friends that I haven't seen for a while and just reconnect.

I don't know why, but I always feel slightly bewildered by the realization that things aren't the same as when I saw them last. I guess one facet of this feeling is the security mechanism that we put up to filter out small changes that happen around us; a built-in continuity generator that keeps us safe, until a significant aberration intrudes into our consciousness, forcing us to recalibrate our concept of "normal." Another component is the fact that I'm looking at things through a different lens than I was last time. Perhaps the view hasn't changed as much as the viewer. . .

Anyway, I came away with two impressions that I wanted to jot down. First, godly friends are truly priceless! I'm amazingly blessed to merely know so many remarkable people, let alone to be able to consider them friends! In high school there were a few people who were really special and God used them to impact my life in a huge way. But then going to college, specifically Southern, has opened up a whole new treasure chest. I can't wait until Heaven!

Second, I was struck by the ubiquitous blending of the common and sacred. I guess this is more a commentary on modern culture than anything else. Everywhere I looked, I saw people trying to grasp the World in one hand and Heaven in the other. The clothes worn, the music played, some of the speeches; a common sentiment seemed to be "How can I have a secular lifestyle and still enjoy the benefits of spirituality?"

Perhaps the reason this stood out to me was because of what I've been reading in my devotions, and I've been noticing a recurring concept of "set-apartness." Many times God will say something like "I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from the nations." In fact, I started researching this theme and it's all through the whole Bible. In case you're interested in checking this out, here are a few references: Ex. 19:6, 23:2, Lev. 20:23-24, 26, Num. 23:9, Deut. 4:6-7, 7:6, 14:2, 21, 18:9, 26:19, 28:9-10, Ezra 6:21, 9:1, 10:11, Neh. 10:28, Ps. 4:3, Jer. 1:5, Eze. 11:12, John 17:14-16, Titus 2:14, 1 Peter 2:9,... You get the idea. Over and over again in the Bible resounds the cry, "Be different!" "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind!"

“The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."
~Brennan Manning

Enough wavering! Enough 'lukewarmness' It's time we as Seventh-day Adventist Christian youth start really following the Lamb wherever He goes, start being the light of the world, start being the salt of the earth! That's what being a follower of Jesus is all about; being in, yet not of. . .

Anyway, those are some of the things that have been rattling around in my head. What do you think?

Excelsior

6.05.2007

Profundities

A picture of Einstein playing his violin.
I found an Einstein quote on Lorrie's blog that I hadn't heard before, and it made me laugh! :D That inspired me to list a few of my favorite Einstein quotes. Enjoy!


Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. (Very!)

The grand aim of all science is to cover the greatest number of empirical facts by logical deduction from the smallest number of hypotheses or axioms.
(The goal of science summed up in one sentence!)


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

The environment is everything that isn't me.

The faster you go, the shorter you are.
(It helps if you understand this equation: l=l_0*sqrt(1-(u^2/c^2)), wh
ere l_0 is the length in the frame of reference at rest, l is the length to the observer, u is the velocity of the object, and c is the speed of light.) :)

A sad kitty. You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat. (Sheer genius, you must admit:)

Fond of animals, Einstein kept a housecat which tended to get depressed whenever it rained. Ernst Straus recalls him saying to the melancholy cat: "I know what's wrong, dear fellow, but I don't know how to turn it off." (Chestnut shares a similar malady.)

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. (For example, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle)

The more success the quantum theory has, the sillier it looks. (Very true!)

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.

When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, it seems like two minutes. When you sit on a hot stove for two minutes, it seems like two hours-- that's relativity.
(Well, that's one kind of relativity!)


There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.

Excelsior!

5.10.2007

Summer Superlatives


Hello,
Well, as you may be able to tell, I am not the most prolific blogger of the bunch. However, I have finally managed to find the time to add to my collection of musings.

School is out for the summer, and just in time, too! I don't know if I could have survived another week. I've been enjoying the simple pleasures of being at home, like getting scratches on my legs and dirt under my fingernails while clearing brush off a potential garden plot, pulling weeds, trying to contain erosion by our creek, mowing the lawn, trimming broken limbs, and just generally finding excuses to be outside.

Lest you think that I've only been working, I've also found some time for flower-gazing, frisbee-playing, dog-appreciating, creek-sitting, as well as devoting plenty of time to book- and magazine-reading! It's so nice to be able to actually read all the articles I've been laying aside until "after exams." And Mom's food....fresh-cooked asparagus and homemade baked beans and cornbread and delicious soy black raspberry coconut ice cream (Christy's contribution;) and one of the best things...no minimum to fret about!
It's also been very refreshing to be able to have plenty of quality devotion time. There's nothing quite like spending time with God while sunbeams and birdsongs drift in through the window.

Solomon also appreciated the value of the simple blessings God has given us:
"18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God." Ecclesiastes 5:18-19



And listen to what Jesus had to say!
27 “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Luke 12:27-28

God has richly blessed me with a plethora of good things, from delicious food to my devoted German Shepherd, Chestnut. Satan has lots of exciting, enticing sins waiting for me on my computer screen and in magazines, but these flashy distractions are also strangely unsatisfying and sadly temporary. I've come to the realization that while the world's pleasures might be entertaining, God's way is so much better!! By the marvelous, mysterious grace of God, I am choosing to be captured by the infinitely more valuable joy of an Eternity with my Creator!
Excelsior

1.22.2007

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... (I'm leaning strongly toward the former;)

This past Sunday I spent three hours doing one homework assignment. It was hard; it was fun. It was hot; it was cold. It was long; it wasn't long enough. It was fulfilling; it was disappointing. It was miserably wet; it was chokingly dusty. It was pitch black; it was blindly light. It was, in short, a study in contrast.
Now at this point, some of you know exactly what I was doing, but I suspect that that most of you are completely lost. I'll try to explain*.
Somewhere between 3000 and 5000 years ago there was quite an upset on the earth, analogous to a starfish trying to eat. The earth's crust was pushed up into jagged mountains, some of them forming here in Tennessee (well, hills at least.) Now here's where it gets interesting. Inside these mountains, the rock underwent tremendous pressure changes. The rock that used to be under a great deal of pressure beneath the ground now had a lot of pressure removed. This caused the weaker sections of the mountains (especially in softer rocks, such as limestone), around joints and layers of rock to fracture and then shatter. These faults in the rock expanded, spreading through the weaker sections. Aided by water, continued movement, and time, the shattered pieces disintegrated further and settled, leaving openings in what was formerly solid rock. Today, thousands of people around the world (myself included) enjoy walking, crawling, squirming, and otherwise exploring these fissures in the earth.
This semester I have the opportunity to take a class in the art of caving, and one of our assignments is to go on at least three caving trips. This shouldn't be too hard, as Southern is fortuitously located right in the heart of TAG, the most concentrated area of caves in the United States! In fact, we have several caves right here on campus, of which one, the Student Park Cave, is open to the general public regularly. During recent excavation in the summer of 2006, near the Student Park Cave, another opening was uncovered, and to the excitement of the first few people who looked in, it had bats in it (in full hibernation), as well as a flow of cool air. This meant that it had to go somewhere, because remember, this entrance had previously been covered up! So, several cavers donned their gear and ventured in to the previously unentered (to our knowledge) cave. Unfortunately, they rounded a corner about 15 in and were met with a wall of fill which almost completely sealed the tunnel. But, at the top there was a small gap between the mud and the roof of the cave and through this opening, cool air continued to spill out. This gave our friends hope of eventually breaking through the cave fill and exploring the cave further.
Which brings us up to my class assignment. Our professor told us this story and announced that there was going to be a cave dig on Sunday and anybody who went and stayed for the whole time could count it as one of their trips. I was excited about getting to work in a virgin cave and planned to go. Unfortunately, Sunday dawned cold (~42° F) and rainy. However, a few (8) of us braved the weather and met outside the cave around 12:00 PM. We commenced excavation around 12:30, and although hampered by lack of equipment (1 bucket, 1 big tub, 1 little shovel, 1 hammer, and 2 little picks) we proceeded to break out and haul away chunks of clay. Being of a slight build, yours truly got to dig and the front of the line quite a lot, which consisted of lying on your side/back/stomach and trying to wrench out hunks of mostly dried mud and then passing them back to the next person in line. We alternated digging and passing and standing outside in the rain for about 3 hours, before realizing that we had more pressing matters to attend to. Although total distance traveled was probably about 15-20 feet and we didn't succeed in breaking through anything or even spying an end to the mud, we found fulfillment in the sheer amount of dirt that we did move and the momentary excitement of finding several small bones lying on top of the dirt. I know it doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun, but for this male, the combination of rolling around in the mud, digging a hole, and spending time underground with enjoyable company was a blast!

Excelsior
(or perhaps in this case, Devexus ;)

*For those of you who know something about geology, I understand that this is not the generally accepted version of how caves were formed. However, I believe that this theory fits better with empirical evidence and it is also consistent with my belief that a catastrophic worldwide flood and its aftermath formed the geological structures we see today. See Cave Formation by Rock Disintegration by Douglas E. Cox for a more detailed explanation of the theory.

1.15.2007

Musings On Saddam Hussein's Demise by J. Van Ornam


Hey guys, just to let you know, these are not my thoughts, but I thought they were so profound, I wanted to share them with a wider audience. Do yourself a favor and check this article out. I'll be interested in reading your reactions.
Excelsior