Popcorn Medievalist

. . . for i had perceived that reality is a frightening place, and i did not wish to live there . . .

Location: Canada

Monday, April 24, 2006

How Did Koalas Get to Australia?

How did koalas get to Australia? Sounds like a pretty stupid question doesn’t it? But some people just don’t seem to get obvious stuff like this, so let me spell it out really simply for you: God led them there.

It all really goes back to a time 4351 years ago when God caused all the water to run out of the oceans and onto the land. Now some people are skeptical as to how, scientifically speaking, such a phenomenon could have occurred. For these people I have two words: water viscosity. Simply increase the viscosity of water and watch as it pulls itself out of the oceans and along the land, up the mountainsides until everything is covered. Everything, that is, except Noah’s Ark. That’s because Noah’s Ark was built out of gopher wood, and as you probably know, gopher wood is water-repellent.

So naturally the water caused all the people and animals to drown. That’s why God had told Noah to build the Ark actually, to save the animals from extinction. So Noah put two of each kind of animal on his Ark, except for dinosaurs because they had already been extinct for millions of years. Anyway, after forty days and nights the water viscosity returned to normal and the land all drained off again. So Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Ararat and there was a rainbow and stuff, and the animals all got off the Ark.

This is where we get back to the koalas. After the Great Deluge God told all the marsupials to go to Australia, except opossums. Now of course Australia is a good way off from Mount Ararat., like 10 000 kilometres really, and some marsupials are happy to just eat grass and hop along all day, but koalas are a different story. Koalas are tree-dwelling animals that like to sleep a lot and really aren’t much good at long-distance travel on the ground. But the real problem of course is that, as we all know, koalas will only eat the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, and there aren’t really any eucalyptus trees at all en route across Asia to Australia.

Are you getting a little worried at this point? O you of little faith! God didn’t leave the marsupials to find their own way to Australia; He sent them a Pillar-of-Fire cloud to go before them and guide the way. And every day He rained down eucalyptus-leaf manna for the koalas and koagas to eat. There used to be koalas and koagas; koagas were pretty much the same as koalas except they were purple with pink noses and they groomed themselves a lot. God the koalas and the koagas that they could eat the eucalyptus-leaf manna every day of the week except on the Sabbath, but when He said this the koagas were too busy grooming themselves and weren’t paying attention, and the next Sabbath day they ate the manna and God struck them dead. (I think we all know the real reason God struck them down, those fruity koagas.)

So the marsupials plodded on across Persia and India, Myanmar and Thailand, and at the end of forty long years they arrived in Singapore. Australia was still a 3 000 km swim! Well that was a bit much, so God ordered all the marsupials to jump into the sea and He sent giant whales to swallow them up. Then the whales swam down to Australia and threw them up on the beach. The marsupials picked themselves off the sand, shook out their pouches, and thanked the whales. Then they looked around at their new home. It was so beautiful! It was paradise! And the koalas looked and saw a eucalyptus tree! They climbed up into the tree and feasted on its leaves, they were so delicious! Wow! And that’s how koalas got to Australia.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Blogging in the Clouds

So here I am in Nepal. What can I say? It's been quite an adventure so far---climbing mountains, crossing glaciers, getting in trouble with yaks, chatting it up with the Sherpas. And lots of clean air and beautiful scenery. It's a great place to think about important things like life-vision and destiny. I thought about a lot of important things. And also about important new theories, like my theory that I like to call "The Mountain Model." It proposes that altitude is the first determining cause in human history.

Alright, you're thinking, Dave haven't you already killed off any chance of your blog ever being taken seriously? Why do you continue in this madness, driving still more nails into the coffin of your poor, once-promising scholarly blog? And why is it that you need to dribble kerosine all over the coffin and light it with flint instruments? And why do you then have to gather the ashes in a small cast-iron kettle and mix them with ammonia and pour them down a latrine? Why must you repeatedly belittle your intelligence with this cheap, second-rate farce? You're self-destructing! You're losing it!

So if that's what you're thinking then all I can say is, "Well now, aren't you just so clever?" Now according to the Mountain Model, there are two classes of people throughout the world, highlanders and lowlanders. This is the basis of all conflict in history. The highlanders live up the mountain and the lowlanders live in the valley. The highlanders are forever doomed to lower status in this societal order. This is because of soil erosion. The soil from the top of the mountain is forever carried downward by the small streams that run down the mountainsides.

The soil erosion benefits the people in the valley, enriching their land at the expense of the highlanders. The lowlanders accept this accumulation of soil from the lands of the mountain class as the natural ordering of things; they prosper and thrive, their crops yield well in the rich valley soil, protected from the strong winds that blow across the unprotected mountainsides. Their animals feed well on the healthy grass which grows thick and lush, well nourished and well-watered. The valley people monopolize trade and education; their work is made easier still by the latest in modern farm machinery. Their children enjoy every privilege and are taught to sneer at the mountain folk who come down occasionally to trade for the few items that they can afford.

The highlanders find their land forever being depleted; their crops do poorly, their animals are thin and cold and search the bare, rough slopes for a little scraggly grass to sooth their hunger. These poor folk labour slavishly all day to scratch together enough food to fill their stomachs. From a young age their children must work too. Some highlanders work as servants for valley people who treat them like dogs and pay them a pittance. The highlanders are forever struggling on the edge of survival. They hate the lowlanders with their fancy imported hats and their expensive wines, with their exorbitant price controls on the foreign goods that they sell to the highlanders, with their arrogance and their sneering looks.

Now, the story finally climaxes when the highlanders become so enraged by the lavishness and the oppression and the arrogance of the lowlanders that they gather their men together and they come down the mountain. They easily overpower the softened valley people. They massacre all of the valley class, and then they dig up the soil from the valley and carry it up the mountain in tin buckets along the goat trails until the mountain slopes are as richly soiled as the valley. It's a lot of earth to move, but eventually all the soil is evenly distributed. The result of all this is a stateless, classless utopian society in which everyone lives happily ever after.

I love happy stories like this one, where people learn to share and in the end everyone is friends. Where you don't have to concern yourself with the contributions of individuals to society because what really matters is how the corporate spirit of the oppressed class triumphs over injustice. And it's about mountains. Mountains are nice, I think that's really why it's such a good story.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Genghis Khan and Bob Jones Sr: A Study in Similarities and Contrasts

It is perhaps at the risk of being lampooned that the Popcorn Medievalist broaches this subject, doubtless a touchy one amoung fundamentalist Christians and old-school Mongolians; and so I will tread lightly, as I am---some might say---a delicate soul who lacks the stomach for being the target of hurtful ridicule.

So first of all, who are these men? I assume neither of them are universally recognized figures, rightly or not.

Genghis Khan was a great Mongolian general, warlord and emperor who lived in the thirteenth century. He was the founder of the vast Mongol Empire which at its height stretched from China and South-East Asia across Asia, the Middle East and Russia and into Eastern Europe. The Mongol Empire was the largest empire in history until European colonialism. Genghis Khan ruled as the Great Khan (emperor) of the Mongols from 1206 to 1227, when he died and left the great empire to his descendants. During his career he united the various nomadic Mongol and Turkish tribes of central Asia and the steppes, and then he led his armies farther and and through more countries than even Alexander the Great had done.

Bob Jones Sr. was a fundamentalist Christian evangelist from the southern United States. He is perhaps most remembered today for founding Bob Jones University in South Carolina, one the leading fundamentalist Christian institutions of higher learning in the world. Jones served as the university's first president. In his own time, however, Bob Jones was best known for his evangelism; he commanded a large following throughout the first half of the twentieth century through his reputation as a fiery preacher and his early use of radio broadcasts to reach mass audiences. Like the great Khan, Jones left his empire to a family dynasty that continues to this day (the Bob Joneses).

So what do these two individuals have in common? I have identified several different areas of similarity and points of departure between these remarkable men.

First off, there is the matter of race relations. Khan and Bob both generally took a middle-of-the-road approach to race relations. In Genghis' case, that meant complete Mongol supremacy over conquered nations and occasional large-scale massacres of rebellious people refusing to submit to Mongol rule. Jones also followed the usual conventions of his society in, for example, restricting Black students from enrolling at his university until 1971, and accepting monies from and campaigning politically for the KKK; all of which was certainly ordinary practise among American fundamentalists of the time.

An important point of departure between Genghis and Bob is in their views on Roman Catholicism. The Khan generally took a fairly broad-minded approach to religion, permitting the local practise of different religions throughout his empire, including Roman Catholicism. Whether he had any specific views on the Pope, for example, is rather unclear. The Jones family, on the other hand, was always known for its colourful views in this area; Bob Jones Jr. for example wrote after the death of Paul VI, "Pope Paul VI, archpriest of Satan a deceiver and an anti-Christ, has, like Judas, gone to his own place."

I want to point out some differences in dress. You may note in the above pictures that the Khan has a pointy moustache and a long neck beard. Jones, on the other hand, is entirely clean-shaven. This matter appears to be of some importance to the Joneses, who dictate BJU student policy as follows: Men's hair is required to be traditionally styled with a conservative cut. Hair must not be colored or highlighted and is not permitted to be shaved, shelved, tangled or spiked. Sideburns may not reach past the lower opening of the ear. It is recommended that men be clean-shaven at all times. Furthermore, the Khan is not wearing a tie and he has a head covering; this also runs afoul with Jones' sensibilities: Morning dress consists of the following: dress shirt (no denim or chambray) with tie, dress or ironed casual pants (no jeans, cargo, carpenter, or sloppy pants), dress or leather casual shoes. Sweaters should show shirt collar and tie knot. No sweatshirts are allowed. No hats are allowed indoors except in the gymnasium.

In the end I think what mattered most about these men was what they left behind. Genghis Khan left behind an over-extended empire which fell apart rather quickly and left little impact on the countries and cultures which it had for a time lorded over and tyrannized, although it was responsible for temporarily facilitating greater communication and trade between the East and the West. Bob Jones Sr. on the other hand left Bob Jones University, which is known for its staunch conservatism, rejection and banning of all popular culture after 1960, and hostility toward interracial dating.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

On Being a Heretic: Pros and Cons

Heretics! Heretics! They're everywhere! What is one of pious persuasion to do? Theses heretics defile every level of society and culture with their vile devious words. They practise the Abominable Kiss, at whose mention all who are of humble heart tremble and groan. And they tend to be anti-sacerdotal. Such wickedness requires organized, militarized resistance.

So what about the other side of the story? Do heretics have feelings too? Are they capable of thinking, or are they zombie people, like all those people in Cairo in the movie, The Mummy after they were affected by that plague; and they chanted, "Imhotep! Imhotep!"?

Furthermore, is it worth it to be a heretic? And I'm asking this from a purely economic perspective. There are obviously a lot of factors to be worked in.

On the pro side, may I suggest that heretics tend to have significantly less religious bureaucratic overhead. They have a lot fewer big cathedrals and abbies; they're more rooted in the "Mom and Pop" model of clerical government. There will, of course, be exceptions to this and to my other examples, but economic historians should simply try to find averages, am I wrong?

A second advantage to being a heretic is that, if you get enough heretics together, you can actually confiscate church property. What successful group of heretics hasn't plotted to do this sort of thing? Anything you can seize from the church is just about pure profit, and there's plenty there for the taking. If a tree is ripe with fruit, why not harvest it?

Also, heretics will generally make greater allowance for free enterprise, because they're mostly city people who don't indentify with the serf laws and stuff like that. Some of them had tried the "growing rye with primitive tools and ox-plows" lifestyle, but it wasn't for them. I suspect many of us are familiar with this "existential angst" you might experience when you aren't fulfulled in your work.

Of course there are some downsides to being a heretic as well. For one thing, there's the threat of eternal damnation, and it will probably be pretty expensive to buy yourself back in good with the church if at some point you have a change of heart, so don't just jump into this stuff, do your homework.

There should be some concern over the possibility of eviction. The faithful might get tired of having you around and simply throw you off your property. As you can see in the above picture of Cathars being evicted from their homes in Carcassone, this frequently can mean complete confiscation of your possessions. The one woman in particular seems not to have even been left with a small cloth to cover her naked body.

You will also have to worry about violence at the hands of the faithful. Maurading mobs of the righteous can be devastating for your infrastructure and other invested capital. And of course there is mortal peril---don't let the Inquisition get you. Especially nasty are Crusades called against your particular heresy by the Pope; the faithful are given full rights to your property if they can kill you. This tends to bring out a lot of land speculators. And consider fully the economic implications of premature mortality; it might not seem like a big deal in a society where the life expectancy is only 30 years, but any reduction in your lifetime is time that you can't earn and enjoy economic capital.

In conclusion, I have to say the advantages to being a heretic seem too small in relation to the risks, but a wily heretic could likely make a good career of it. I think we also have be open-minded about the possibility of non-economic factors in the question of whether or not to become a heretic, however silly that may sound to most of us...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Counterpoint in the Babble

How very long it has been since my last blog. The page by now seems to have fossilized; it would almost be rude, it would seem now, to add to what I have come subconsciously to assume to be a finished work, a relic of another time. Why bother? Why try again? You try something out, and if it doesn't work you move on...

Well, I'm going to give it another shot. Who knows? Maybe there's still something worth saying - a counterpoint in the babble, a pattern in the disarray, beauty in the bumbling attempts to make some sense out of life.

If life is like flying an airplane then most of the time we can't see where we came from or where we're going, but sometimes when it's not too cloudy we can sort of make out where we are right now. I like to think that I'm the pilot and I can go where ever I like; but I think more often we're passengers - we choose our destinations, buy our tickets and then settle down for the flight. How could you change where you're going once you take off? And anyway, who would want to?

The painting was done by Abel Grimmer, a Flemish Baroque-era painter. I love the colours. Look at the colour of the water. Brilliant.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Over the Fence

A five-foot-high fence runs from Kitty Murray Lane down past the Whaley Teaching Garden, separating the Redeemer lawn from the wilder areas beyond. Today, it suddenly occurred to me: How many times had I walked by that fence? How many times had I gazed absent-mindedly across the fence into the wilds?

For four years, I have lived within sight of that fence, and yet not once did I ever think to explore the territory beyond it.

Somehow, today was different. Perhaps it was the beautiful spring weather. Perhaps it was that liberating feeling that you get at moments of peak stress when you feel that anything can happen. Whatever it was, the fence—so long taken for granted—suddenly lost its psychological power to confine. The climb was made easy by a tree that stood conveniently close to the fence; with a hand on its trunk, it was an effortless vault. Entry into a forgotten territory.

For four years, I have been within a minute’s walk of this spot, and yet this was the first time I had ever been here.

The ground is still a bit soft; it’s covered in a sparse underbrush of grass and small bushes. Farther back, I see groves of small trees. I explore the area. The dead weeds crack under my feet. I duck under the branches of the small deciduous trees—still bare, but the buds are coming out. I see a rabbit. Amidst the trees, I find five golf balls. Looks like someone’s been playing some golf. How long have they been there? Who knows . . .

The experience is memorable. But it makes me think: How many other fences have I forgotten about? How many other barriers have I taken for granted for so long that the possibility of crossing them no longer even enters my mind?

Well . . . this is supposed to happen, isn’t it? If we didn’t live within boundaries, our lives would be chaos. As we settle down, our lives become more focussed and our vision narrows, so that we can use our energy where it’s needed. How else would we ever get things done? So we take our piece and we run with it. The ideals and the possibilities of our youth are gradually forgotten.

Somehow I find this thought unacceptable. It makes me very sad. The youth in me is screaming against it; he’s still determined to hang on, but I think deep down I know that he’s losing the fight . . .

No! It’s wrong! I will not lose the fight! I will not stop believing that anything is possible! I don’t want to lose the ability to see the fences! I have to remind myself. I have to look for them. And at least once in a while, I have to be able to hop over a fence and explore the wilds.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

The Story of Mr. Wrigley

Yesterday it rained a lot, and all the worms crawled out of the ground. It made me think, ‘Wow! This must be a good day for lazy birds!’ Like birds that sleep in and don’t usually get the worm . . . well you know, a day like yesterday just proves that sometimes you can be a really slothful loafer and still cash in big time!

I thought it was sad to see so many worms getting squashed underfoot, but I guess that’s unavoidable, so I don’t know why I didn’t just walk on them too.

I found one really cool-looking worm. He was pretty big and he wriggled around a lot, so I named him Mr. Wrigley; I carried him around with me for a while, but then I knew he needed to go home again, because you know, he’s wildlife.

I talked about the worms with my good friend Karmyn, who was walking with me. She thought the worms were cool; I showed her Mr. Wrigley; she said that those worms would probably make really good pets for children, because they can’t hurt you—like they don’t bite and they wiggle around a lot and if you break them in half they can still wiggle. And if you eat them they aren’t even poisonous. So she thought they would be ideal pets for her children. And I thought, ‘Well Karmyn, if your children looked like birds, you could probably feed them worms.’ I guess she thought that was kind of a dumb thing to say . . .

Friday, February 27, 2004

A Posting
Well my friends, I really haven't posted anything since the last life age of the earth, but---lest you should suppose that I have departed to the far Allysian Fields---I have returned at last to these long-neglected cobweb- strewn spaces. Gently and patiently is life breathed into the dry bones. . . The dust, suspended thickly in the air, is stifling---and yet. . .

You know, It's really a lovely day today---the sort of day on which one naturally casts aside responsibility long enough to take a walk through fields of melting snow and reflect on the meaning of life. . .

Here's a brief thought for today:

There are no facts in the real world---only generalizations, theories, and beliefs. This thought has not struck me in this manner before. Reality is not made of facts---reality is fulness, but facts are little captured pieces of reality, and no number of them can represent reality any more than pieces of beef can represent a cow. Reality---any reality---is far too dynamic and complex to be understood with the mind alone; it has to be embodied.

Monday, November 17, 2003


How long had I followed that dreary path, the day that I came to the crossroad? How I had laboured, each day a tiring and protracted necessity, driven only by a hope and by a determination that I should not return to the place from whence I had come, the place which I despised.

Arriving at this spot, I beheld that the pathway opened into a vast courtyard stretching far around; a thousand roads diverging into every direction—beckoning me; each pregnant with promise of meaning, of latent joys, all the things which might be sought after to make one whole. The possibilities dazzled, the choices overwhelming. I was filled with a vigour then that I had not known before. I felt the weighty burdens fall from me. I ran around the courtyard; I cried out in my excitement; I leaped into the air.

It was then that I heard the soft whisper: “Do you like what you see?” I looked around in surprise and I saw that it was the voice of my mother, who had come up behind me. Before I could answer her, she spoke again: “My son, you have come to this place to receive your calling. Do not set your heart on these; your path is already chosen,” and she pointed me back to the way by which I had come—the one path which alone was not beautiful to my eyes, for too well I knew its treachery.

I rebuked her, saying, “Have I indeed come all this way, to a place of such possibilities, to be returned to the place from whence I came, the place which I despise? Surely there was some meaning, some purpose in this long and agonizing journey. Surely I will not abandon my quest just as it opens up to me!”

But my mother spoke again and said, “The other paths were not intended for you. This path is your birthright, the way of your forebearers since the beginning. You will return down the path to your home, to the place where I bore you; and there, in the fulness of your weariness, you will give up your spirit. This is the fulness of your purpose.”

I responded in anger: “Surely I am not bound to follow the meaningless path of my forebearers; surely I may choose my own road!” As I said it, I looked into my mother’s face, and I was suddenly struck by how much resemblance there was to myself. And then I knew in my heart that the words which my mother spoke were true, that I could not take any path but the one which led back to home.

My mother stroked my hair, and she whispered to me, “Be at peace, my son. When you have gone from this place, as you journey home, you will learn to love all that you now despise, and all that you have seen here will cease to concern your heart. When you have returned home, you will be ready for the completion of your purpose.”

I had but one more question to ask my mother before I departed for home: “Why then have I been brought to this place, brought before these other paths?” She answered me, “My son, consider this matter long, for it is in pondering this question that you are going to find yourself.”

Thursday, October 23, 2003

That Which the Heart Most Desires

You searched through all the world for it.
You couldn't see that you already had it.
There was only one way you could ever see it for what it was---
You had to lose it.
So I took it away.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Reflecting on Small Invertebrates

Today I was watching little red mites crawl around on the concrete in the warmth of the sun, and it dawned on me that there is such a huge variation in sizes amongst the small invertebrates that are such a familiar part of our backyard landscapes.

Those mites are about half a millimetre long. I thought to myself, "Just think if you were a little red mite. An earthworm would be a thousand feet long!" It's true. Earthworms are very normally 200 times as long as red mites. There isn't any living thing on earth that's that much bigger than us! That's three times as long as the highest redwood. Imagine the Bank of Montreal Tower lying on its side, squirming around and eating dirt.

Now think about how big we are. Multiply your actual height by 3 000 to find out your "mite height." By that calculation, I'm about 19 000 ft tall, which is roughly the elevation---above sea level---of Mount Logan, Canada's highest mountain. Do you feel big now?

We live side-by-side with these little invertebrates, yet we experience the world in such completely different ways. A little slab of concrete is like an enormous parking lot. A shoe is like an asteroid. Do they think that we're gods? We come crashing out of the sky without warning, and we thunder upon the earth like walking mountains, crushing inferior life forms beneath our feet and not even realizing it, cutting down mile-wide swaths of thousand-foot forests with our push mowers. We have more power than they could ever imagine. We are so much bigger, so much more intellegent, so much more powerful that we really couldn't care less about them; they're only here for such a short time and then they're gone. But it's really a matter of perspective, isn't it?

Now as I sit here the seriousness is setting in. What if some one really was that much bigger than us---that much more intellegent, that much older, wiser, more sophisticated? Would he have any reason to care about us? I mean, really, why should God care about us more than we care about a mite? It isn't a fair comparison, of course. We're just fellow creatures along with the mites. But God cares enough to make and sustain us and the mites and everything else. And God wants to spend time with us. He cares so deeply for us who are so small. Maybe you don't think mites are worth thinking about. God's perspective is different; he doesn't see things like we do.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Reflections on Understanding

Today’s thoughts and theories are tossed into tomorrow’s rubbish heap; but one might yet hope that some day a tramp will pick through all that rubbish and uncover something of true value.

Truth is one indivisible entity; it is the sum total of everything in the cosmos—every atom, every burst of energy and pulse of light, every thought and every feeling of every living thing throughout the entirety of time. Every part of the truth is connected to every other part. You can not understand anything completely unless you understand everything. The truth, therefore, is contained in the fulness of all things. Because the unity of the whole is broken, true understanding is impossible. No one can discern the whole truth about anything on his own. The discernment of each person is meant to complement the discernment of all the others. However, sin has destroyed the unity of the whole of the cosmos. No person is connected to the whole. Each person’s discernment is limited by disconnectedness and by the misunderstanding which this causes. If all people were connected by respect and by appreciation for each others’ gifts as well as for God and the creation, then a collective understanding of truth could arise, and many things could be discerned which now remain matters of dispute.

In order for us to understand things better, we should strengthen our connections to as much of the cosmos as possible, and we should train ourselves to be aware of the interconnectedness of the people and things around us. I have found it to be beneficial to meditate on the possibilities of connectedness in simple objects around the house, or in a park. Who made them? Who used them, and who will? How might these objects have related to these people, and how does this tie all these people to me? We can foster our connectedness to others relationally. By serving other people in Christian love, we come to appreciate them and learn from them, and we can share in their discernment and they in ours.

Friday, October 03, 2003

This is a poem which I wrote last spring during a difficult time of personal wrestling. Although I don't entirely support the perspectives that I have voiced here, I believe that this is one of my deepest and most profound writings. It explores the restless search for hope in the midst of an apparently overwhelming emptiness and apathy. Enjoy :)

Weary From Walking

Weary from walking,
Long having wandered
Dusty desert roads,
Looking for what had been.

Searching in emptiness,
Seeking after something
Taken away too soon,
Too cheaply.

Haunting dry desolation;
Not knowing how or where.
Those who were there have gone;
They have forgotten.

The next hill,
The next valley,
Nothing but rock and sand.

Eroding resolve;
Being beyond the end.
Abdication to apathy;
Awful silence.

A dove drifts through the sky;
In her mouth she carries a leaf,
A sign for a new age.
It is dry and brittle.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Well, it's more than six hours since I first learned about Blogger.

This third posting is for no purpose other than to point out to all of you fine bloggers that I am now a force with which to be reckoned. [Note here the proper placement of the preposition 'with.' Would you have been so grammatically immaculate?]

I am quite proud to say that my knowledge of HTML code has been adequate to enable me to extensively customize my interface; as well, I have succeded in adding on to this page the "comment" option; on that note, I welcome all well-articulated comments and responses to my writings, including cruel and crushing criticisms of sorts.

I casually invite you to drool over the beauty of my new Blog page, and I welcome you to haunt these spaces vigourously and repititiously.

Thank you considerably.


Reflections on Life and Growth

There are many different ways to die, but perhaps the easiest way is simply to decide not to participate in life.

Life is motion; that is to say, life is bound in actions and in challenges. No action leaves you unaffected; every action, whether good or bad, shapes you and prepares you for more action; it changes you—it expands you. The more you are expanding, the more you are alive.

To fear change is to fear action and challenge, which is to fear life itself. If you try to remain the same and avoid challenges, you will change anyway, in ways that you don’t even realize. You will become frail and you will gradually decay, until you are entirely dead.

Complacency is the beginning of death. Running away from challenges is running away from life. You’re either growing or you’re dying.

So, be continuously expanding. Constantly face challenges, and remember that success is defined by the growth which comes through the process and not by any outward victories or titles which your efforts may produce.

Accept yourself as you are up to this point because that part you cannot change, but do not accept that you will remain as you are in the future. Do not think that things can or should remain the same.

Hey bloggers!

I just learned about you guys today, much thanks to Rob J.

As this is my first experience in Blogging[TM], expectations should not be particularly harsh.

I designate this composition, "Contemplations on a Common Dorm Chair."

So, here we go.


Contemplations on a Common Dorm Chair

This is a story about a chair. The story of this chair has never really been told before, which is in my estimation a reflection on the narrowness and inadequacy of our modern historical documentation. This chair is of a truly international character, having been constructed from materials originating in several countries on different continents. There is the steel--produced in Japan from Chinese iron ore. The polyesther fabric is clearly of Middle Eastern origin. The rubber stoppers on the legs come from the rain forests of Brazil. All of these parts were crafted together by factory workers in Taiwan; I myself have not been to any of these countries and therefore must recognize that this chair has considerably more international experience than I. The chair which presently sits in my livingroom shows clear signs of many years of use; this led me to contemplate the sheer number of people who had made use of this chair. What sort of experiences did they have while sitting there? Were lives changed by these experiences? What joys and heartbreaks has this chair seen? Each person who used this chair left something there, which is obvious in the general wear that the chair has clearly undergone. Do not all the users of this chair share a common experience? They may have nothing else in common, but all have experienced this chair. And what of the hundreds of people responsible for the manufacturing of the chair? I'm sure that these workers didn't think about how this chair was going to be used and enjoyed. Maybe they thought that their work didn't have any meaning or purpose. I can't tell them, but right now I am enjoying the product of their work. I share in their lives in such a small way. We are all bound together. And if one simple old chair could bind me to thousands of people, then what of the endless number of other objects, conventions, and thoughts---none of which I can entirely claim as my own. My shirt was made in Thailand. What about this alphabet that I'm typing in? I received it from others, just like everything else. I am bound to all people of all times throughout the earth. I share in their lives and they share in mine in countless ways that we will never know. My chest is swelling now as I look at the mudane objects around me. And then I see a human being---so much more wonderful yet! The image of God---and the product of the work of a billion people who didn't even understand what they were doing. This is genuine providence at work.

So, the chair really does have something to tell us. Who could have guessed when we started that we would end up here? I want to meet the depressed factory workers who made this chair and thank them. I want to tell them that their work really does matter, and it really is appreciated. I can't do that, so I'll just focus on what I can do. I want you to know that you matter. Thank you.