All Now Mysterious...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Thoughts from the Daily Walk

I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ is the divine, resurrected Son of God and the Savior of the world. I accept the necessity of His infinite and eternal Atonement. I have accepted the invitation to enter a covenant relationship with Him and to live His teachings the best I can each day.

But I am not always a good Christian. I stumble. I falter and fall. I backslide. I don't always live all the truth I know. Nobody does--not that I'm trying to use that as an excuse, but it reinforces, at least in my own mind, the absolute and inescapable need for a Savior.

I know many people who are better Christians than I am, my wife first and foremost among them. I try to surround myself with good people, and I find in my circle of associates many people more faithful, more dedicated, and more knowledgeable about spiritual things than myself. I try to learn from them whenever I can.

I readily acknowledge that there are good people among all faiths--and good people of no faith at all. I appreciate their commitment to the community and to the betterment of humanity. I seek to follow their example.

But I have to say this one thing: If you are not a Christian--if you do not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, if you do not read, ponder, and pray over the words of Christ, if you have not committed yourself to walk daily in His footsteps--then please do not presume to tell me how to live my own religion.

Specifically, please do not try to tell me that I'd be a better Christian if I supported your particular political and/or social agenda.  Don’t try to tell me, “A good Christian would do {whatever}.”

Unless you are a Christian, you don’t really know what it means to be one, nor what “a good Christian would” really do.  It isn’t something you learn from observation.  It’s something you learn by doing.  I know this from experience.

Walk the daily walk, and then you can talk the talk.  Otherwise, you have no credibility and no qualifications to try to counsel me in my daily walk.

Why would I want advice from someone who doesn’t know as much as I do?

Above all, don't tell me what Jesus would do.  Learning what Jesus would do, and then learning to do it, is the whole point of the daily walk.  The way to know what Jesus would do: “If any man will do his [the Father's] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”  (John 7:17)  Jesus Himself said that.

If you're not a Christian, how can you claim to know what Jesus would do?  Or, in the words of Jesus Himself, “[H]ow knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?”  (Mosiah 5:2)

At the heart of it all, Christianity isn’t about social justice or libertarianism or ‘tolerance’ or gun rights or race or gender or immigration or any of that.  It’s not about politics.  Christianity isn’t essentially about rules and regulations, nor even about codes of conduct.

At the heart of it all, Christianity is about developing a personal covenant relationship with Christ.

And if you don’t have a relationship like that, why would I want advice from you about mine?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Today's Awesome Mix(es)

When we do labs in my classes, I put on some music in the background. I have what I call the Big Classic Rock Lab Mix on my hard drive.  It’s got 175 songs or so.  I fire up WinAmp (yes, I still use it) and hit random play.

Here are the songs from today’s classes.

1st period:
Carry On Wayward Son (Kansas)
Dirty Laundry (Don Henley)
Don’t Look Back (Boston)
Fantasy (Aldo Nova)
Gimme All Your Lovin’ (ZZ Top)
Heartbreak Hotel (Elvis)
Hotel California (The Eagles)
Invisible Touch (Genesis)
Just What I Needed (The Cars)
Make Me Smile (Chicago)
More Than A Feeling (Boston)
Mrs. Robinson (Simon & Garfunkel)
Only Time Will Tell (Asia)
Ooby Dooby (Roy Orbison)

3rd Period:
Subdivisions (Rush)
Sultans of Swing (Dire Straits)
Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond)
The Heart of Rock and Roll (Huey Lewis & the News)
Tom Sawyer (Rush)
Unchained Melody (Righteous Brothers)
We Will Rock You (Queen)
What About Love (Heart)
When The Heart Rules The Mind (GTR)
Who Can It Be Now (Men at Work)
You Got It (Roy Orbison)
25 or 6 to 4 (Chicago)
Africa (Toto)
All I Need Is A Miracle (Mike + the Mechanics)

I’d say that’s a pretty decent playlist, wouldn’t you?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Meditations upon Blasphemy and Idolatry

I can understand not wanting to represent Mohammed or any other living being as a way to avoid worshipping idols.  I think it’s a bit of an overreaction, personally, but I can understand the reasoning behind it.

I can also understand having a feeling of reverence and respect for someone who is important to you and your belief system.  Furthermore, I can understand feeling upset or even angry when you feel that others are not showing that person—be it Mohammed, the Buddha, Saint Paul, Pope Francis, Joseph Smith, or whoever—the proper degree of respect and tolerance.

But when you declare that any word spoken against a person is blasphemy, have you not, in your mind, at least, raised that person’s importance to something like that of a god?

When you declare that any slight, real or imagined, against your designated object of veneration must be punished swiftly and by violence, has your reverence not crossed the line into worship?

Isn’t that a form of idolatry too?

That’s the horrific irony of the atrocities perpetrated against the French people this week.  A small group of religious terrorists—let’s identify them for what they are—killed nearly twenty people for the commission a sin of which they themselves were guilty:


Playoffs? You're talking about playoffs?

At the end of the regular season, there were two obvious choices for the BCS Championship game: defending champion Florida State, who was riding a two year, 29-game winning streak, and top-ranked Alabama, who had just blown out Missouri in the SEC title game. Sure, Oregon, TCU, and Baylor all had great seasons, and I guess you could mention Ohio State (although that loss to VaTech was ugly), but Alabama and Florida State were locks for the title game.

Under last year's system, that is.

This year there's a playoff. And when faced with the task of playing their way into the national championship game against top-level competition, neither Alabama nor Florida State could pull it off.

This is why a playoff is better. There are no "could'a, would'a, should'as". Either Ohio State or Oregon will be the undisputed national champion because they won the title on the field, not in the polls in November.

Now let's get that playoff expanded to 8, 12, or 16 teams so that ALL the great teams have a chance to play for the title.

Friday, January 02, 2015

And That's How We Start 2015

Okay, so I've officially had my first weird dream of the new year.

I was driving around town in our newly-registered minivan (we literally got it registered the day before yesterday) when I got pulled over. The officer asked for my license, registration, and proof of insurance, all of which he took back to his police cruiser. Several minutes later, he returned with a very expensive ticket for "Operating an Unsafe Vehicle".

I read over the ticket (which was four pages long) and couldn't make sense of it, so I decided to ask the officer for an explanation.

"Can you tell me why I'm getting this ticket?"

"Your vehicle has an unsafe driving control system," he told me.

"I don't understand what that means," I countered.

"Your vehicle has a CRX-{something unintelligible} driving control system. It's outdated, and it makes your vehicle a hazard to all the other vehicles on the road."

"So," I said, trying to understand, "is it because it's an older car? Do a lot of cars have this system?"

"Not many," he said. "It's mainly just yours."

"So what do I do about this? How do I fix it?"

"You can have your vehicle retrofitted with an updated driving control system. But it'd probably be more economical just to buy a new vehicle."

"So just to be clear," I inquired, "this ticket has nothing to do with my driving. It's just about the car. If I were driving any other car, I wouldn't be getting a ticket right now."

"That's correct."

"That's crap."

The officer suddenly got rather red in the face and clenched his teeth. "What did you say?"

"I said I disagree with your assessment of my vehicle and your interpretation of the law, and that I intend to challenge this citation in court."

He glared at me. "That's better," he grunted, and stomped back to his patrol car.

And that's when I woke up. Seriously, what the heck was that?

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

When Teachers Dream

So I had an interesting dream last night. I was in the morning review for my summer class, and one on my students came in all excited and said, "I just got a job. I'm going to be working in a chemistry lab!"

The rest of the students started cheering and offering their congratulations. After a minute, I had a question.

Me: So, where are you going to be working?

Student: It's a start-up company. The guy's opening his own laboratory. We're going to start off in his garage until he can find better lab space.

Me: And you're going to be working in this lab?

Student: Part-time. He's also going to have me buy the chemicals for him and meet with the customers.

Me: I see.  {beat}  You do realize you'll be working in a meth lab, right?

Student: No, I asked him about that. He said he couldn't tell me very much about our manufacturing process because it's still proprietary, but he promised me we wouldn't be doing anything illegal or dangerous.

Okay then, as long as he promised....

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

On the Bright Side, She's No Longer My Problem in Six Weeks

Last week Miss B, the other chemistry teacher in my school, did a lab for her classes, and I didn't.  Her lab apparently involved ice cream.  Naturally, there's been no end of moaning and complaining on the part of my students who have friends in her class.

Yesterday, one of them (who's a little whiny under the best of circumstances) was in full-on complaint mode.  As I was beginning class, she called out, "When are we going to do another lab?" I answered something nonspecific, as I was trying to concentrate on attendance and other start-of-class logistical stuff. She wasn't impressed. "Miss B's classes do labs every day. We never do labs in here."

(For the record, I don't do as many labs as I'd like, due mainly to the fact that I'm teaching this class as a new prep this year. I've been pretty much making it up as I go. Next year will be better. But we do some labs, and Miss B does not, in fact, do labs with her classes every day. I checked.)

Class proceeded as usual from there, and I was giving the day's lesson. As is part of my method, I asked the class a question to get them thinking about what we had just talked about. And, as usual for this class, I had very little response. So I decided to take advantage of the moment.

I pointed directly at the whiner and said, "We will do a lab next time in class if you can answer that question right now."

Her answer was priceless:

"Uh, what was the question?"

Yeah, we're not doing a lab tomorrow.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Toxic Dreams

Okay, I had a pretty strange dream last night. I was attending a conference where I was going to present an invention I was working on. It would analyze a blood sample from a person who had been poisoned, identify the toxin, and synthesize an appropriate antidote.

I was talking to a group, including a few current and former students, at the opening mixer. Another guy overheard our conversation and bragged that he had been working on a new toxin that would kill a person slowly, but with absolutely no physical discomfort. And then, to demonstrate it, he pulled a syringe out of his jacket, grabbed a random woman in the crowd, and injected her.

The police subdued the guy immediately, of course, and I was sent to a lab with several other scientists to see if I could get my prototype working. It took us about two hours, but we finally got it to work. We rushed back to the mixer, but by the time we got there, the paramedics had just stopped administering CPR, saying there was nothing more they could do.

So we gave it a shot. One of my students gave the woman a shot of adrenaline, and her heart started beating again. I took a blood sample and fed it into the machine. After a moment, the machine gave us a printout of the poison and produced a small vial of a proposed antidote. We gave it to her and waited to see what happened. After an hour or so, her condition stabilized and she was talking to everyone about what she had experienced. The invention worked, although in light of what had happened, the organizers cancelled the rest of the conference.

The epilogue was kind of weird, too. The man was brought to trial, of course, and I was asked to attend as a witness. The prosecutor argued that since the man had clearly intended to kill the woman--he had bragged about it, after all--and had succeeded in stopping her heart for several minutes, that he had in fact committed murder, and that subsequent actions taken to revive the victim didn't change that fact. The defense argued that that was ridiculous--the guy clearly couldn't be guilty of murder if the victim were still alive. But the judge allowed it, and the jury eventually found him guilty of first degree homicide.

And since murder by poison was a capital offense in that jurisdiction, the guy was sentenced to death by lethal injection.

Maybe I shouldn't eat pot pies right before going to bed....