Monday, October 24, 2005

Shiver Me Timbers! Hoist the Mainsail! My Virtual Seagoing Adventures and Much More!

Greetings to all who read this!

I’ve embarked on a new book.  Demon of the Waters: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Whaleship Globe, by Gregory Gibson.  It’s nonfiction!  Yes, it’s true: I read other things besides science fiction and fantasy.  It’s a very interesting, exciting true story, which is believed to have been the inspiration for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.  Reading it has the strange effect of making me both happy and sad that I did not live in the Nantucket area in the mid-17th century.

I was amazed to learn that those people routinely sent their sons out on 3-year whaling expeditions around the world starting at the age of 14, and a man might be a captain by the age of 20.  I just love all that seafaring adventure stuff.  As I said, I’m torn between the fantasy of it all, and the horror of what it must have been like for most people.  Life aboard a whaling vessel was not a joy ride.  Especially for the “green hands”.  I don’t honestly think I could have survived that stage of my development, had I lived in that time and place.  I probably would have been hung from the yard-arm or made to walk the plank.

Now on to other things…

I haven’t seen any new movies since my last post (except to see Batman Begins again on DVD, which is awesome), so there’s nothing to report there.  Not much new to report in the music department either.  I’m still listening to Switchfoot’s Nothing is Sound.  I did briefly pick up Depeche Mode’s new CD called Playing the Angel at the bookstore and listen to the samples.  I don’t usually like Depeche Mode much, but there are a couple of tracks on Violator which I like.  I first heard the track World In My Eyes (click on that link and hear a clip!  Cool!) on some movie soundtrack or something, I think, and that got me interested.  The new CD really sounds good (which is to say that the tracks sound more like the two tracks that I like than the ones I don’t like).  I may have to pick it up when I have some spending money (which may be a while).

Now what to talk about?  I enjoyed Sunday School last weekend.  For some reason the  trendy leaders of the class have decided to give it a new name.  They’re calling it “The Jesus Code”.  I guess that’s supposed to call to mind Dan Brown’s novel The DaVinci Code, but it seems weird to me.  I’m afraid I’m never going to be able to call it that.  

The class is going to be basically a Bible survey class, covering the whole enchilada in about 4 or 5 months time.  Last week we raced from Genesis 1:1 through the end of Joshua.  It was interesting and fun, but there wasn’t much discussion, which is the part I really like.  There is something to be said for getting a bird’s eye view of the Bible sometimes though.  We Christians like to analyze each verse in minute detail, or each word, or even (believe me I’ve seen this too many times) each syllable or punctuation mark.  But a lot can be learned from looking at the broad strokes, as it were.

The teacher seemed to take a very literalist approach to everything.  Of course, many of my dear readers will probably take his side on things like the 6 days of creation and the world-wide flood and others, but I think this guy went even farther than many of you would.  For example, in the book of Genesis we read that God “was grieved that he had made man on the earth”, and that he “would wipe man that I have created from the face of the earth”.  After that, it goes on to talk about Noah, and how he found favor in God’s eyes and God decided to spare him and his family.  

Well, this teacher took the words of this passage extremely literally, to the extent that he said that God actually regretted that he had created mankind, and really and truly planned to completely destroy mankind, but changed his mind after considering Noah, who was the only righteous person on the earth.

To me, this seems absurd.  I cannot believe that God really thought this way.  In my opinion, the things written there in Genesis describe the events from a human viewpoint, but do not really reveal the mind of God.  God cannot be said to change his mind, or alter his plan based on things he did not think of, or anything like that.  What do you think, dear readers?  Am I off my rocker?

The best thing that happened at Sunday School was when a little discussion did get fired up.  The teacher was talking about when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on a mountain.  He described the whole story quickly, and made a great deal of all the soul-searching and heart-wrenching Abraham must have gone through the night before he was to journey up to the mountain with his son.  Of course, the Bible does not breathe a word about this night of agonizing, but I don’t doubt that it may have happened.  However the Bible does tell us one very important bit of information that the teacher completely skipped, which effects the story dramatically, in my opinion.  Of course, I had to call attention to this, which is what got the discussion started.  

I wonder if any of my dear readers can tell me what that element of the story was, that my teacher skipped over?  It’s so important to this humble blogger to receive comments from his readers.  Maybe this little challenge will inspire you to click that link and leave me something.  What was it?

(If my wife Molly reads this, please don’t leave a comment giving it away.  I know you know what it was!  I’m hoping to hear from other readers!)

Until next time!


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Sunday School, and Other Things

Greetings to all who read this.

It’s been a while since my last entry, so I’ll try to fill this with all the thick, juicy information you’ve been craving.

First of all, a bit about blogging in general.  Do you know how hard it is to do this?  It’s frickin’ hard, as the Napoleon Dynamite might say.  First, you have to find the time to write, and then you have to think of things to write about.  This isn’t the same thing as a diary or a journal, where you can just let yourself ramble on about nothing at all, or pour out your innermost thoughts and feelings.  This thing might be read by your wife, kids, friends and relatives and who knows how many perfect strangers and law enforcement personnel, so you’ve got to be careful!  

Next, movies.  Since my last entry I’ve seen Wallace and Gromit.  If you haven’t seen it yet, drop everything and run to the theater now, because it is great. This may be the first time since The Return of the King that I went into the theater with high expectations and left feeling they had all been exceeded by the movie I had just seen.  If you’re a frequent moviegoer like I am, you know what I mean.  I can’t say enough wonderful things about this movie!  It was cracking good!

On to music: I said I’d tell you what I thought about the new Dave Matthews Band album Stand Up.  Well, it’s pretty good.  I don’t think it’s nearly as good as Everyday (and those are the only two Dave Matthews Band albums I’ve heard, by the way).  But what I’m really excited about right now is Switchfoot’s new album Nothing is Sound!  Wow!  I didn’t think they could pull off an album as great as Beautiful Letdown, but they’ve sure come close!  I love it!  I picked it up last week at the Barnes and Noble with some birthday money I got from my sister-in-law Lee Ann Kuruganti, and in gratitude, allow me to plug her website!  Go there now and let’s really drive up her hit counter!  It’s at 2075 right now.  I want to see that thing reach 3000 by tomorrow night!  You have your orders, dear reader! Click that link!

Now to other things.

Since Sunday, I’ve been thinking about Sunday School.  Last Sunday was the first day of the new “Adult Education Class” which is what we old-time churchgoers used to call “Sunday School”.  I love Sunday School.  I’ll be perfectly honest: I’d just as soon skip church and just attend Sunday School.

Last week they handed out a little questionnaire, on which we were supposed to write about things we’d like to talk about in future classes.  Questions we’d like to have answered, and so on.  If you know me very well (and if you’ve read this far, you probably do), you know that I wrote quite a bit.  I have a lot of questions I’d like to have answered.  

Why don’t I just tell you what I wrote?  Maybe some of my dear readers (you are the most intelligent people I know – and in some cases don’t know) have some enlightening comments they’d like to share.

First of all, they had the usual questions which were just put in there to determine if I am “saved” yet or not.  One of them was “If you were to die today and God were to ask you ‘Why should I let you into my heaven?’, what would you say?”  I let out an audible laugh at this standard Four Spiritual Laws question.  Oh the memories!  I answered it as follows: “I would tell him he made a promise to me, to never leave me or forsake me, and to save me, and is obligated to let me in!”  Not the standard answer, and sure to raise some eyebrows.  I wonder if they’ll think I’m saved?

Next they wanted us to write about our biggest “Bible question”.  I had to think about that, because I’ve got a lot of ‘em.  I decided to write about the question of biblical contradictions.  My question is not about any specific “contradiction” in scripture.  I know full well that any specific contradiction can be reconciled with a little circuitous reasoning.  The real question is: Why isn’t God clearer about things?  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard preachers contradict each other about what the Bible is supposedly so ”clear” about.  When I was a kid I remember one Bible college professor telling me that it was possible to prove anything from the Bible, and it’s true.  Why isn’t it clearer?  If God wants us to know the truth, why does it appear to be so obfuscated in the Bible?

I’m going to have to dedicate a future blog to my favorite Bible contradiction.  It would take too long to write about it here.  Something to look forward to!

Now back to that Sunday School questionnaire.  The last item was the catch-all “is there anything else you’d like to talk about?”  In that space I wrote the following:

“In the Bible, Jesus us called ‘the savior of the world’. How can he be the savior of the world, if the world is not saved by him?  And if the majority of people will ultimately be lost, in what sense is the world ‘saved’?”

Now my wife is probably afraid that we’re about to be kicked out of the church.  My asking that question (and the particular conclusions I came to) got my family kicked out of the last church we were members of.  But they can’t do that to us at this church, because we’re not members!  Haha!  Got ‘em there!  They can’t deprive us of what we don’t have!

And with that I really must close.  I’ve been writing for over an hour, and it’s time to get to work.  Don’t forget to leave a comment before clicking outta here!  I want to know what you, my dear readers, think!


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Birthday Ruminations

Greetings to all who read this!

Well, I’m 42 today, how about that?  Join with me in the resounding chorus (with respects to Mildred and Patty Hill):

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday dear Timothy….
Happy birthday to you!

Now, click over to and send money to!  Do it now!  They take credit cards!

So what am I thinking about on my birthday?  Well, I’m 42.  What kind of an age is 42?  When I was in my 30’s I felt like I was still young.  Then turning 40 was kind of a milestone.  Then 41 felt like something because it was my first birthday after turning 40.  Now I’m 42.  What’s that?  It just feels old.  

You know what’s amazing to me?  Last night my wife and I and my son Jesse played Settlers of Catan together at with a guy from Germany.  Jesse’s in his room, Molly’s in our bedroom, and I’m in the living room, the other guy’s in Germany and the computer on which we’re all playing is sitting in Belgium.  That just boggles my mind.

When I first got started with computers, I was writing dBase and Turbo Pascal code on a CP/M server.  We had to keep the server at a constant 60 degrees, so I had to keep a jacket and gloves in my office and wear them all the time.  I sat shivering in my office day by day, thinking I was really on the edge!  In my college classes we had to submit complicated JPL commands to the IBM servers just to get our C code to compile, but at my office, with Turbo Pascal I could just hit ‘R’ and my code would compile and run in a jiffy!  And 64K of memory to play with!

Then I remember the first time I heard about the “Internet”.  I was in the Zachry building at Texas A&M, in a state-of-the-art computer lab called the “Crystal Palace”.  At that time, the Crystal Palace was the only place (that I knew of) on campus with access to the Internet, and my very first introduction to it was to learn that a fellow student was going to have an “Internet date”.  This, I was told, was where a student at one university would converse with a student at another university in real time over a network which connected all universities called the Internet.  Talk about cutting edge!  

Then I remember when people started to talk about computer “viruses”.  They were pretty few and far between in those days, but quite destructive.  Writing a program that would, say, format the hard drive or clear the boot sector was a piece of cake back then.  Since the Internet wasn’t very widespread, it was something you only rarely heard about.  Most of them would come with a message like “legalize marijuana” or something.  

I remember I had a co-worker who had a collection of viruses.  It was a little stack of diskettes, each one of which could infest your computer with some malicious code.  I thought that was pretty cool, but he must be having a hard time keeping up these days!

Well, that’s about all the time I have today to write, so as usual, please don’t click outta here without leaving me some comments!  I love those comments!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Serenity - What to Read - Music

Greetings to all who read this!

Well, it’s midnight and I’m a-bloggin’.

Last weekend I saw the movie Serenity, so I’ll talk about that for a minute. I saw it twice, once with my wife Molly, and once with friends, and son Josiah. This is the first time in a long time that I have intentionally seen a movie at the theater twice, so that oughtta tell you something. I loved it both times! In fact, I may have enjoyed it more the second time, which is really something!

Molly and I, along with our older kids, have been big Firefly fans since before it was cancelled. We watched it when it was on Fox. We were so hooked, and could not believe it when it was cancelled. I just hope the success of this film inspires Mr. Whedon and his bosses to bring the series back. Maybe “Firefly: The Next Generation”? If that happened, and J. Michael Straczynski created a really great Star Trek series (as has been rumored), my sci-fi world would be complete.

Regarding reading material: I’m in-between things right now. I finished Omega (recommended) and haven’t replaced it with anything. I may start on The Engines of God, another by Jack McDevitt, but I’m kinda thinking I need a break from him. Maybe something other than sci-fi? Maybe non-fiction even! I thumbed though William Craig’s Enemy at the Gates at the bookstore the other day. It’s the novel that the movie was based on, and it was marked way down. I liked the movie, so I might like the book. But I didn’t buy it.

So I’ll put it out to you, dear readers. What should I read next? Something inspiring maybe? Enlightening? Thrilling?

I read Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time recently and loved it. I also liked Jack Miles God: A Biography (a Pulitzer Prize winner, but not for the orthodox. The section on Job changed my life), Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, and Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. Those are all great books that I’ve finished recently. What do you recommend? Leave me a comment! Write me an email!

Music-wise, I’ve lately discovered the Dave Matthews Band. They’re really U2-ish in the way their lyrics are usually packed with sometimes enigmatic meaning, which is something I like. I’m going to listen to their new CD for the first time tomorrow (picked it up at the library) so I can’t comment on that, but I can recommend Everyday as a good choice. I heard the song “What You Are” at church believe it or not (our church is so hip!), and was immediately hooked.

Well, it’s 1:00 am and I’m starting to drift away. Let me know what you think, whomever you may be! Don’t click out without leaving me a comment to read!