Monday, January 31, 2005


As I was leaving work today, I looked to the west and saw a beautiful sunset. My first thought was "this is so beautiful it ought to be a painting." But why should I somehow think that the sky is a canvas somehow unworthy of such beauty?

Consider that a painting is but the application of soluble dyes to paper or parchment, a limited perspective that cannot capture the intricate detail of a single sunset. Is it more amazing that we can create such small works of art (even a mural with the surface area of a city would be dwarfed by the size of a sunset), or that such beauty can be painted in the very air itself?

Imagine that you had the freedom to move about a single sunset and examine it from the infinite perspectives from which it exists. Here, behind a tree; here from on a roof; here from above the clouds. If you turn around, you see the colors that light the sky painting the whole horizon. How could a two-dimensional canvas ever show such magnificence? And yet, these colors change moment-to-moment as the sun rises and sets every day.

Should a sunrise or sunset be less valuable because we know that it comes through the refraction of light as it hits the atmosphere in our locality at a sharp angle, preferring the red end of the spectrum instead of the normal blue? Or should we celebrate that the Universe is so designed that the sky has been painted twice a day since the beginning of the world with a unique display never again to be seen?

I once had the marvelous experience of flying from Salt Lake City to Reno as the sun was setting - a flight chasing the sunset. As the plane left the terminal, the sun was dipping behind the mountains. As we rose, the sun reappeared, brought back from our new perspective. Not until we began to circle for descent into Reno were the last colors of that sunset fading, such that by the time I emerged from the airport night had fallen.

As the flight went just so much to the south that I could not see the sun itself suspended in the sky, I got to watch clouds change ever-so-slowly from a dazzling orange to a soft pink, fading in the background to darkness. I considered myself amazingly fortunate to see such a thing, and yet most of the people on the flight closed their window shades, hiding from the beauty that was out there whether or not they cared to see it.

Only a few children on the other side of the plane noticed, reminding me of something I read in C.S. Lewis (who I believe was inspired by G.K. Chesterton in this): that we see repetition as mundane and so we attribute a deist's clockmaker to the role of God - one who sets the Universe on its course but does not take part, whereas perhaps to God daisies are not all alike because of simple genetic repetition, but because God loves those daisies and like a child amused at a trick says "Do it again!" That sin hardens us to the simple pleasures and that "our Father is younger than us, for we have sinned and grown old."

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Image of God

What does God look like?

When you consider the Almighty, what images come into your mind? Clouds? Sunlight? An old man with lots of white hair? A book?

Take a moment.

Take another moment.

Of many images that come to my mind, one of them is usually not Christians. I am used to seeing God as a great ideal - the perfect Christ, or a seperate-from-the-world spirit. But not the otherwise mundane people sitting around me in church. We are there to think about God, to sing to God, to pray to God, to learn about God. But it should be more than that.

We are there to be God.

Not that we transform ourselves into divinity - not that I myself am actually God, or that any person around me is. But the Church is the body - the flesh - of God in the world today. Why would God do such a thing? Why would he entrust his image to us - lustful, murderous, prideful creatures of dust?

1) To demonstrate the power of God to transform and change.
2) To grant us a share of God's work - the redemption of the cosmos.
3) Because it is utterly unexpected.

Honestly? I don't understand. I'm sometimes not even grateful. Because, as has been stated before and will be stated again - in this life, to some people, I will be the face of God.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


"God is good" she said.

Instantly, synapses in my mind lept into place, dictating the proper response, grilled into us both with unrelenting repetition by a mutual friend. He has a saying "God is good all the time. And all the time, God is good." I knew the answer, and yet I hesitated.

She paused, almost as though uncertain how to respond, as though a call-and-response method of authenticating a stranger in the night had not been passed.

"All the time" she said, pausing only slightly before continuing "And all the time..."

Still, I knew the answer. But I hesitated. Every nerve in me seemed to scream out - "Just answer the phrase, you dolt! You look like a fool sitting here nodding your head. Finish the phrase and continue the conversation into safer territory!" Every nerve... except my mouth. It cruelly refused to obey my commands.

Was it because I doubted the answer? It is something I had been wrestling with. God is good. And yet I am hurt, lonely, confused, and very uncertain about my future. I do not look at my own life and find the proof in my statement. I look to the best evidence I know - the cross. And in that, I find certainty.

Was it because I was too dumbstruck to speak? Graced with the rare opportunity to have a conversation with a woman over a subject beyond how best to plug in her microphone, had I used up all the wit I had slowly stored up; like one painstakingly saving drops of dew for but a single glass of water now consumed in a single, savage gulp?

Or was it because several years spent in a cycle of cynicism rendered me unable to respond in such a simple way. Had my doubts gnawed away my core of simple faith that radiated from this woman until in this instant I could see the shadow cast by my doubt in that brilliant light?

Whatever the reason, the conversation ended akwardly. She left, repeating the phrase to herself, as if for reassurance. I resumed work on the computer.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Social Fundamentalists

I heard on talk radio today that Christie Todd Whitman, former governer of New Jersey and a liberal Republican (yes, it IS possible) has a new book out in which she fears that the more conservative wing of the Republican party is taking over. From the sound of the host's voice, she evidently uses the term social fundamentalist, and does so in a negative way.

I am reminded of a quote by Tony Campolo that I must use once again. "Why is it when someone talks about the 'religious issues' in politics they are always talking about homosexuality or abortion, things that Jesus never mentioned? Why is it not instead about helping the poor, or blasting hypocrisy - the things Jesus really cared about?" (forgive the paraphrase, but I hope I conveyed the intent).

I think I would like to be a social fundamentalist, but not in the negative way the f-word seems to convey today. I have firm beliefs in the authority of scripture, the existence of moral absolutes, and the person of Jesus Christ. But I would like to see those of like mind do more than talk about helping the poor.

The masses knew of Jesus for what he did. And while I do not call for a wave of miracles to sweep the country, I would like to see an army of people whose love for God calls them to love the world. To have evangelical Christians not known for their strict attention to the "rules" they have set up around the scriptures, but for their excitement concerning the "good news" that their very name derives from.

What can I do today? I can think of two areas of my life that need daily attention.

I can love the people I meet at work, on the road, and online. I can treat them with the dignity they deserve of creatures made in the image of God. I can put them first, knowing that our Lord himself came not to be served but to serve. I can care about their lives, suffering as they suffer, rejoicing as they rejoice.

I can realize that I am entrusted with resources to be used for the good of the Kingdom. I can adjust my spending habits, spending less on myself so I may have more to spend on others. I can be generous with my posessions as well as with my time.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Human Body

In the Likeness of God is a compilation of two books written in collaboration by Phillip Yancey and Dr. Paul Brand. I have reflected to an extent on how interesting our bodies are, but Dr. Brand spent many years as a surgeon treating leprosy. His thoughts on the amazing systems that have to work for our bodies to function normally have kept me up too late at night, often reading for hours after I should be asleep.

The reminder that our bodies are collections of individual units of cells that have become so uniquely specialized and cooperative that I can sit here, recalling information I read when light bounced off of a page, registered on thousands, millions of cells in my eye designed only to send out an electrical signal when light or perhaps only a specific wavelength of light strikes them, my brain - a collection of further individual cells - interpreted the electrical signals from my eyes and turned that into information to be stored away, which I now recall and send to my hands, with muscle cells in both arms contracting and relaxing in the precise order that allows my fingers to be leveraged into the positions of keys on a keyboard: while my kidneys, intestines, back muscles, heart, lungs, diaphram, stomach, eyelids, and a host of other organs do their job without me even thinking about it.

Computers seemed complex just a week ago. Now I find myself reminded that I am "fearfully and wonderfully made." The most elaborate supercomputer is dull by comparison.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


I remember studying Inertia in Physics classes in both high school and college. I know we had to learn several formulas for the calculation of the moment of inertia for various objects.

I wonder why it is that inertia seems to be true in life, as well. As far as I can tell, there is no way that formulas relating mass, velocity and the human spirit could be solved. And yet everyone knows that once you begin doing something regularly, it becomes easier and easier to do it, and it often takes something to make you stop. The reverse is also true, when nothing is happening, that begets nothing happening.

Perhaps the reason I am single (either as a cause, or as a result) is that I have trouble expressing love, not just to women Iwas attracted to and had known for ages, but to anyone. I have trouble being open, being vulnerable. It affects my friendships, because this causes me to be distant from people. It affects my Christian walk, because disappointment with God leads me into emotional shutdown. But what upsets me the most is that it affects my relationship with my family. I love them all. But I can't bring myself to get close. I want to, and yet I don't. Why?

Perhaps it is that I feel like a far from perfect son. My degree was a dead end, wasting the talent that I was blessed with as a child. Where the men my age that I know and could use as a benchmark are universally married, pursuing jobs that they could stick with for their lives, with the requisite career advancement, with half owning their own homes already, I live in an apartment, have never been on a date and am stuck in a go-nowhere job. And yet, in the only category that I know counts in the end, I find myself unable to give my dad a hug and say I love him. I want to, and yet I don't. Why?

Forgive me for the introspective jaunt the last couple days. This, in particular, is something that so dominates my thinking tonight that I cannot begin to think of anything else. I doubt that it is of interest to anyone else, but that's why you can just skip to another post.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Islands and Continents

"No man is an island unto himself..."

The Evangelical tradition places a lot of emphasis on the individual and that person's one-on-one relationship with the Almighty. I feel that... far less often than I would like. But many things in my past I have taken, not from my own gut feelings, but from the people around me. Do I have the Spiritual Gift of Teaching? I have been told often that surely I do, but I have more than a few doubts of this. I am often told at work, and more than a few times by my pastor that I am a very positive and happy person, yet for me to feel simple melancholy and not a deeper depression seems like a good day. So who do I believe?

Do I take the word of those who are perhaps a more unbiased observer of me than I am of myself? This is not an unlikely assesment - I have hurt more than a few people by what I felt to be well-chosen words at the time, revealing that my own desire to be (or belief that I belong) on a certain path makes it very easy to find observations and conclusions that will lead to that result. Premise: I will always be single. Observation: I have never been on a date, and am working on my 27th year in life. Conclusion: I am unattractive, perhaps repulsive to women - my very attention could be a undesireable element in their life. Result: I am unable to speak to women, being gnawed at by self-doubt until said prediction comes true.

On the other hand, should my life course be directed by people who do not know everything about me. Most conclusions other people draw are, by their very nature, based on incomplete data. If I choose a positive countenance to avoid the hassle of having to tell people "Well, I'm feeling despondent and lonely because the Valentine's Day advertising push is kicking into high gear" when they ask how I am doing - people will then naturally assume that I am doing well. I can't help but try to read people's body language, and so I try very hard to not send the same "tells" that I notice in others. Meaning - when I lie, I can often do so convincingly if I choose to. But if my facade is what people use to identify me, how can I trust their conclusions?

Trust misplaced is a deadly arrow. But too many people assume that this only means trust in others that is misplaced. But overconfidence in one's self could lead to even more calamitous results.

Who then do we trust?

Monday, January 17, 2005

Reality Check

It is easy to get lost in your own little world some times, to become fully absorbed with the ins and outs and ups and downs of making it through a day. To go to work, eat lunch, come home, entertain yourself and not think for a moment of anything else.

Through some random websurfing through the few sites I know, I came across this video. You need Quicktime to see it, but I highly reccommend taking the time to do so.

The answer to Phillip Yancey's titular question in Where is God When It Hurts is another quesiton: "Where is the Church when it hurts?" I believe the Church to be the "Body of Christ," not just that it is diverse in its members, but that it is the presence of God in the world. God can work in many ways, but I believe that the defining way that God works in today's society is not through signs and wonders, but through the most mundane people doing the most mundane things. Average people who do their small part to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to touch the untouchable.

To Whom Much is Given, Much is Expected.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Worship Techies

I sit here in the sound booth at my church, passing time until the next service (44 minutes and counting), and I recall an event that happened about 4 months ago here.

We had a "Ministry Fair" at the church - an opportunity to show everyone what ministries were available and give them a chance to volunteer if they so desired. It was a good idea, and the Dave that runs the video got together with me, the Dave that runs the sound booth to put together our booth to advertise the "Worship Tech Ministry."

I created a Power Point presentation to advertise it, he set up his video camera with a TV to show people themselves as they walked by. These were meant to be attention-getters, things to invite people over so that we could talk to them about what we do. We were there for a solid hour and a half... and one person came over to ask about how to serve. I passed the time mostly by nibbiling at the pineapple-upside-down cake the Mom's Ministry had baked.

I was trying to figure out later what happened - why no one had come over. I mean, we run sound, computers and video. We get to work hand-in-hand with the worship team and the pastors to make sure they look and sound as good as we can make it. We offer valuable insight when dramas and other special events are being put together. We're cool, right? And then I realized the truth: I am, in many respects, the leader of the church A/V Club.

Perhaps the truth did not hit me sooner because I had never known of such a club when I was in school. But that description is the most fitting I can come up with. I embody the lack of social skills and mastery of arcane knowledge that comes with the turf. I am more comfortable trying to simultaneously run the house lighting, cue the spotlights and the sound board while watching the stage to make sure everything is going as planned than I am trying to talk to an attractive and available woman (beautiful married women or those that are spoken for or otherwise off-limits I can, of course, speak to with ease).

I am the reason mankind will never split into two seperate evolutionary branches as in H.G. Wells' The Time Machine's Eloi and Morlocks. It is my experience that for the most part a man's command of technical knowledge and his ability to communicate with and woo women are inversely proportional, therefore as technical knowledge increases, the chance that one's genetic information will be passed along to another generation decreases proportionally.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Single's Awareness Day

30 days from now, we will go through the annual ritual of spending elaborate ammounts of money, where prices are artificially high because of increased demand in order that we might demonstrate our eternal fidelity to our soulmates. Or something like that. I'll likely be sitting at home alone, glad to have spent most of the day at work to keep me distracted from said day (unlike last year, in which Valentine's Day was a very empty Saturday), eating some sort of quick-cook pasta dinner, and watching the most unromantic movie I can find.

I would love to give attention to to those women I have found interesting, but my fear is that, contrary to popular sentiment, it is less about the gift than it is about the one who gives it. Romantic flowers and chocolates given anonymously might seem to be a gesture that would leave a woman wanting to find out more. But the truth is that she in all likelihood wants that admirer to be a certain person, and the grand moment of "Look! It was me!" would turn into a "Oh... it was... you." Worse than fearing that rejection would be watching this horrible revelation sneak across her face. Watching her excitement at possible futures melt in this withering blast of reality.

I have read and agree that one of the hardest parts about being single is knowing that there is no other person who "just delights in you." A partner, a companion, a friend to share these sorts of days with.

So, for anyone out there who is married, dating, or otherwise very inward focused I ask you one thing: if you have any single friends, this February 14th, let them know that you were thinking of them. Feeling unwanted or forgotten on the day devoted to "love" is hard. To actually be so on that day is harder still.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

A Sad Day

For context, you must first read this story.

Can someone please, please explain to me how "Congress shall not make any law respecting the establishment of a religion, nor preventing the free excercise thereof" has grown into such a monstrosity?

I believe in the Judiciary as a way of balancing the powers of the other branches of government by making sure that the laws that are passed and the actions that are carried out are governed by the laws of the land. But anyone watching one one-thousandth of cases going through court right now knows that things are crazy.

How do we have oversight on judges that will rule that a Biology textbook disclaimer reading "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. The material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered" and somehow discern that this statement constitutes the establishment of a religion?

Perhaps after hundreds of years of case law building on case law we have come to a point where the original law is mindlessly buried.

For the record, I am undecided on evolution as the manner in which life came to it's present state in the world. I believe that God created every living thing, but I do not know if the mechanisim by which He accomplished this is similar to the evolutionary framework set before us, if creatures were created essentially whole and as they are, or somewhere in between.

Truth be told, I do not care. I honor God as the source, the Intellegence, the Designer. I find discussion on the topic of "how" to be amazing. The more I see of the intricacies of life, the more amazed I stand of the One who put it all together. I think that to encourage "an open mind" in regard to such theories to be a sound scientific principle - theories work by giving us, not a full conclusion, but an idea that is continuously tested, refined as appropriate, discarded if need be.

Evolution I see as having taken the place of an article of faith for those who do not see a need or place for a higher power in the world. As such, it is seen as, to quote the Black Prince in A Knight's Tale, "beyond contestation." This should be an insult to every scientist. Science dies when a theory is moved to the sacred shrine beyond question.

Scientists everywhere ought to weep this day.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Anyone who has seen me at a college football game knows I can get... a little aggressive in cheering for my team. I think one of my most inventive lines when verbally chastizing an official was "The stuff I cough up in the morning could officiate this game better than you." Not that I generally cough things up in the morning, but it's the point that...

At any rate, I cheer until I go hoarse, and that's before the game even starts. I get thrilled when I see an impressive play, I get dejected when I see an impressive play by the wrong team. I am vocal and involved. I do the same when watching a game alone if it concerns a team I root for. I once nearly punched a hole in the ceiling at my parent's house jumping up and signalling "Touchdown!" by... raising my hands straight up as I jumped.

I often come across as a very mellow person, but I can become a raving lunatic if sports are involved.

So, assuming that what I believe is true - that I, a sinner in hostile rebellion against the God of the Universe, was pardoned when God in His infinite mercy sent His only Son to die in my place, and that through this sacrifice, I am not only forgiven but adopted as God's son, destined to reign with Him through the countless ages of eternity - why can I barely muster a head nod to signify my agreement with these truths?

"Emotionally Constipated" is a phrase I glean from Disney's rendition of Tarzan, but it seems very appropriate for my plight and that of other Evangelicals I know. Why do these truths not light a fire under me until I cannot help but leap into the air, shouting praise to the wonderful God?

Why do I not shout for joy?

And worse,

Why is my first reaction one of shock-and then one of vicarious embarassment-when people do?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


If you have not yet seen the Extended Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, go watch it now. When you are through, watch the short film in the special edition about the young filmmaker that inspired the song "Into the West" that closes the movie. In particular, watch the first of the two fils he made which are included on this disk.

There is a line in that film about "Things so beautiful it makes you hurt to look at them." I had one such moment while visiting the Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive. The link of the day took my breath away.

For me, beauty is an echo of a perfect world now shattered, a reminder of how it ought to be. Beauty reminds us that death and decay are not how things were meant to be. I love sunsets, not just because of the colors, but because of the brilliance of the sun peeking through the clouds that so often obscure our vision.

Sometimes to make it through the day I grit my teeth, stare at the ground before me and stagger forward one step at a time. And then, as for Sam on the slopes of Mount Doom, I spy "beauty that this darkness cannot touch." And while I long for the day when I need not view that from a distance, I am encouraged in the meantime just knowing it is there.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Yelling at the Radio

Why do I listen to Talk Radio? Ask me on different days and you will likely get different answers. Some days, it's that I just want something in the background where I know I will get the news at least every hour. Some days, I care what is happening in the world enough to want to hear what others have to say about it. But on a day like today, I seem to listen simply to get aggravated.

At one point, I verbally responded to the radio, and then had to explain that I was in fact addressing the radio, not the other person in the room with me at the time.

I understand that a talk show host wins no viewership points for being bland and inoffensive. They are better if they can polarize people and get responses, even if such responses can be negative - it shows people are listening, and it makes for more interesting radio than some person's monologue.

But need they also try to appear as all-knowing, all-experiencing deities of life? I get personally sick of hearing our local host address almost any interesting or unique facet of a person's life with "I've done that," or in the rare instance that the host has no such personal experience, he always knows someone who does.

But my greater pet peeve is that of condescension. Not in the good way that Philip Yancey describes in Disappointment With God, but the "you are obviously too foolish to grasp the simple concept I am trying to communicate to you" kind.

The Rules of Talk Show Hosting
1) You are always right. About everything. If you should state that the sky is green and the grass is blue, people are morons if they do not agree with you. Should they try to pin you down by asking questions, say something like "You get your own show and then you can ask the questions."

2) The Founding Fathers were the all-knowing deities of how to make a government. You shall invoke their name to stir up a sense of political nostalgia for the "good old days." You shall not mention that those days included the evils of slavery and rather overt discrimination.

3) You shall not ever admit that you don't have any experience with something.

4) There is never any middle ground. One of these two options is evil and to be reviled at all costs: Bill Clinton or George W. Bush. On no occasion shall there be a spirit of cooperation, unless it involves getting everything you want and a bag of potato chips.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Name, Part Three

Uglifier the Third

At the moment, I am approaching 27. I am not old, and have no such illusions. But I am out of college, beginning a career, and have yet to ever go on a date. There are roughly two categories of singles in the world: those who are single by choice, and those who are single for lack of other options.

I do not think I am beyond the theoretical possibility of successfully interacting with a woman, I just have yet to have much luck with it. One thing that has limited my options in the past and will likely continue to do in the future is that I don't want to be in a situation where she is interested but I am not. I have had my own heart broken, and while I do not think of myself as a heartbreaker, I'd hate to leave someone else in that situation. Josh Harris wrote some books on dating, courtship, and a Biblical model for how men and women should interact, and while I would not fall in line with every conclusion that could be drawn from it, I do believe in the principle that we ought to guard each other's hearts. I'd rather be dateless for life than lead someone on, knowing there was no future and thus setting her up for heartache, in order that I might be less lonely for a time. Of course, incurable shyness and the utter inability to think, much less speak, coherently in the presence of a lady might have something to do with it as well.

One thing I gain from feeling like a very out-of-place (at least in my experience in the church) late-twenties single is that I can see how this group is easily overlooked. I have seen many ministries spring from a "I remember what struggles I had at that point in life" heart for service, and that is likely why my church created at the last reorganization a "College Group" and a "Young Married's" group (or class, at least). Not many people have the experience of being single when approaching 30 (now ominously closer than 20), and thus it just doesn't come to mind. I am, therefore, in a good position to speak for those in my shoes and let the chuch leaders, who I admire and respect, know that there is a need, a gap, that could fruitfully be filled.

I have read one good book on the subject, as most seem to presuppose marriage happening sooner or later. I value beyond words a book that does not offer trite answers ("You have so much more time as a single to dedicate to God," "I felt more lonely after I got married when my husband had to go away for a weekend than I ever did when I was single," "God wants you all to Himself") but rather advice from a fellow pilgrim, including answers to advice given with the best of intentions and advice from someone who has encountered the same difficulties.


I love football. Well, I generally do. This season, both for my hometown college team and for my choice of professional teams was not so hot (a combined...7-21, most of which was the painful 2-14 of the 49ers). I find myself watching the NFL pregame show for the Packers - Vikings game today.

I am always struck by how much... utter nonsense I hear being spoken. I once heard a saying - "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach." While that may be true on some levels, I discount it for the most part, knowing many teachers personally and knowing I may get slapped if I make that assertion. But it may be more true that "those who can't get cushy jobs talking about it." Here we watch a bunch of "experts" pontificating to almost painful lengths on these games.
I value commentators for helping to make a game understandable to those who do not know it as much as I. But in an effort to squeeze more commercials into a block of time, the "pregame shows" grow to unimaginable lengths, and the useful content to airtime ratio gets frighteningly small. I watched the FOX pregame analysts talk about a small issue from a lost game a week ago - Randy Moss dared to leave the field with 2 seconds left to go. Yes, it was an unsportsmanlike thing to do. But was the offense so grievous that we needed fifteen minutes to talk about it? I think not.

Really, I like pregame commentary to do two things: talk about the team and/or players I want to see to well, and laying out some key matchups in the game. In game, I want to know what the penalties are when they are called and hear interesting statistics as they are compiled. I have heard commentators so wrapped up in their irrelevant talking points that they ignore the 15-yard penalty that just crippled the offensive drive in progress on the field.

Can't they just read my mind and deliver exactly what I want?

Well, maybe yielding the innermost thought in my head just to get better TV is going a bit far.

Then again...

Saturday, January 08, 2005

The Name, Part Two

Uglifier, Part Two

Can I help it if I generally listen carefully to what people are saying and question things that seem out of place? It has always seemed to me that people ought to mean what they say and say what they mean. It also seems that the more important the thing being said, the more closely scrutinized it ought to be. And that, therefore, people talking about eternal salvation or damnation ought to be taken very seriously indeed.

Where is Hell? I believe that it is in fact a real place, a fact which ought to motivate me more than it does. I also believe that people will go there, and the crowd will be larger than just the "really bad" people. So why is it that the one detail I recall from a discussion of that subject in a college-aged class at church, the one thing I distinctly remember is being told that, according to the Bible, and possibly in some way that we cannot see directly, Hell is down inside the earth.

It is good to have friends of like mind. Where once we sat close enough to talk under our breath to question such statements, we can now exchange a glance, and have an understanding that says "yes, I thought that, too." I have experienced and heard of them experiencing moments of disappointment when we looked for the other's glance and did not find them looking back.

But the question could be posed: if in fact the questions are important enough to disagree with, and if we are talking about lofty things in the spiritual realm, why keep the questions to ourselves? Why not challenge the idea, that others may at least benefit from the dialog as our questions are answered?

Possible Answer#1: Most of the teaching I know has been done in a lecture format. You receive instruction from those wiser, you do not talk to them about it. And even most of the discussions I have been in are very clearly directed at a different goal, and my petulant questioning in such circumstances was dismissed as "chasing rabbit trails."

Possible Answer#2: The question, while concerning lofty spiritual things, is usually not a keystone issue - it is usually an assertion made as an aside, not as a primary point. Why distract from the goal?

Possible Answer#3: It feels better to quietly question and feel smart than ask the question and have the answer leave me feeling the fool.

But, perhaps as a response to seemingly innumerable small questions, I find myself regarding less seriously the teaching I receive. We have limited time here, and I find myself more wishing that we reached out to the sick, the poor, the widows, the aliens. I like doctrine, and I have spent time discussing such matters, but a good friend would describe us for these sorts of discussions as pseudo-intellectuals.

And, at the end of all of this, I see the path the now more liberal mainline denominations trod. More and more time spent on social concerns, with matters of lofty supernatural concerns diminishing into the background. So where's the balance? I believe truth is important and ought to be defended, not ignored. Yet at the end of days, what matters more is what I did for "the least of these"

Low Visibility

Snow. Lots of snow. More snow than we have had in over a decade - quite possibly cumulatively.

And I have to work. Really, all I want to do is go build an igloo by tunneling into the piles of shovelled and plowed snow in the apartment complex.

I managed to recapture some of my youth with a quick snowball fight with some friends Friday night after we picked up the unfortunate one in our group that had to work that evening.

The day may come when all I Want is to hide inside and stay warm. But it is not this day!

The Name, Part One

According to, a part of the definition of Ugly is "objectionable." I'd use the phrase non-conformist, but that phrase has gotten so much mileage that I'd rather something different.

How am I an ugly evangelical? That will require some time to develop, so bear with me if I do not spill all the beans at once.

Uglifier Number One: I am not a firmly entrenched Conservative Republican. I almost always vote that way, because I am both fiscally and socially conservative. But to simply toe a party line is meaningless. For George W. Bush to claim fiscal conservativisim is nice, but piles of new spending programs do not fit this mold. While I believe that tax cuts genuinely increase tax revenue in the long run, I do not believe you can simultaneously cut taxes and increase spending and expect anything other than budget defecits, which are death to any economy when carried over a long time.

To never question what those in authority tell you is to invite people manipulating you.

To always question it is to be frozen without action.

Where do we find the balance?