The other night, while listening to a Christian radio station in my car, a DJ was talking about Google’s Ngram viewer. Google’s Ngram viewer has digitized data from over 15 million works of literature. The DJ made an intriguing insight. He took the position that words communicate culture. His logic was that changes in culture can be seen by both the emergence and frequency of words used over various time periods. If we believe the adage that we tend to speak about those things which occupy our thoughts, wouldn’t that apply to what we write as well? Most likely, right? Continue reading
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34, NASB).
In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? (Psalm 56:11, NASB)
when words serve as shields, from what do they protect,
if not often the guise of self-righteousness as respect,
for words side with sins when used to shield, though save as a sword,
when responding with Truth to that which is deplored, Continue reading
the silent calling of blind love falls upon deaf ears,
as days turn into months, and months—years,
the grace that patient love offers is deterred,
as relationship retreats into fears recurred, Continue reading
To say that a thing is good is merely to express our feeling about it; and our feeling about it is the feeling we have been socially conditioned to have.
But if this is so, then we might have been conditioned to feel otherwise. ‘Perhaps’, thinks the reformer or the educational expert, ‘it would be better if we were. Let us improve our morality.’ Out of this apparently innocent idea comes the disease that will certainly end our species (and, in my view, damn our souls) if it is not crushed; the fatal superstition that men can create values, that a community can choose its ‘ideology’ as men choose their clothes. Everyone is indignant when he hears the Germans define justice as that which is to the interest of the Third Reich. But it is not always remembered that this indignation is perfectly groundless if we ourselves regard morality as a subjective sentiment to be altered at will. Unless there is some objective standard of good, over-arching Germans, Japanese and ourselves alike whether any of us obey it or no, then of course the Germans are as competent to create their ideology as we are to create ours. If ‘good’ and ‘better’ are terms deriving their sole meaning from the ideology of each people, then of course ideologies themselves cannot be better or worse than one another. Unless the measuring rod is independent of the things measured, we can do no measuring. For the same reason it is useless to compare the moral ideas of one age with those of another: progress and decadence are alike meaningless words.
~C.S. Lewis, The Poison of Subjectivism, p. 73
a world claiming truth found solely in self,
within identities of limitless varieties,
an idol of independence placed upon a most prominent shelf,
while succumbing to sin and its subjectivities, Continue reading
With its hands reaching up towards the morning light, the sea smoke arises from the ocean’s depths, much like a tsunami’s swell.
The mist dispersing the waking sunshine as though shadows masking angels’ love. Nature’s beauty both subdued and accentuated by its intemperate veil.
“Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks.” ~Plutarch
“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” ~Robert Frost
“When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.” ~JFK
“Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.” ~Carl Sandburg
the words form from deepest thought,
those not yet voiced but needing acknowledgement,
theories from within—never formally taught,
soul’s introspection granting encouragement, Continue reading
“The angels are so enamored of the language that is spoken in heaven that they will not distort their lips with the hissing and unmusical dialects of men, but speak their own, whether their be any who understand it or not.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“All God’s angels come to us disguised.” ~ James Russell Lowell
“The guardian angels of life fly so high as to beyond our sight, but they are always looking down upon us” ~ Jean Paul Richter
“Angels descending, bring from above, echoes of mercy, whispers of love.” ~ Fanny J. Crosby
“If trouble hearing angels’ song with thine ears, try listening with thy heart.” ~ Terri Guillemets
oh my angel! with thy voice ethereal sweet,
i beseech you, dare entreat,
this lowly man, firmly held to ground,
permit my ears to hear thy sound, Continue reading
“The difference between sentiment and being sentimental is the following: Sentiment is when a driver swerves out of the way to avoid hitting a rabbit on the road. Being sentimental is when the same driver, when swerving away from the rabbit, hits a pedestrian.” ~ Frank Herbert, science-fiction writer
“I am not a sentimental person.” ~ Jack Kevorkian, “Dr. Death”
“High culture is paranoid about sentiment. But human beings are intensely sentimental. ~ Thomas Kinkade, artist
Humans are sentimental. However, I believe that how one defines being sentimental—and exhibits sentimentality in deed—determines whether one views being sentimental as a destructive or constructive emotional response. My intentions within this writing are to:
- Examine how being sentimental is capable of being both destructive and constructive
- Elaborate on how I view and apply sentimentality in my life (focusing on the constructive)
- Consider how aspects of sentimentality may function in the process of Christian sanctification
“We all have a personal pool of quicksand inside us where we begin to sink and need friends and family to find us and remind us of all the good that has been and will be.” ~ Regina Brett, journalist
We know how the story goes…
Our hero is wandering through the jungle with some companions, and one of them treads upon quicksand. The companion quickly sinks—making every effort to escape a sandy grave. At the absolute last moment—as the entrapped companion is nearing submersion—our hero finds a vine or branch for them to grab hold; pulling them out and saving them from a certain demise.
The reality, however, is that quicksand is rarely, if ever, as dangerous as presented in the movies… Continue reading
As the Fall semester concludes for me, and the year is quickly coming to an end, I thought it would be interesting to share a book review I wrote on Tanya Luhrmann’s When God Talks Back: Understanding the Evangelical Relationship with God. This is a purely academic writing–in fact, it is my last paper submission of this semester. My review focuses on cautioning readers of research-driven books to consider the researcher’s/writer’s personal background, values, and convictions when placing weight on their words. This is especially true when evaluating qualitative research. While I found Luhrmann, a religiously pluralistic non-Christian, to be an exceptional writer who undoubtedly conducts methodologically sound research, the epistemological, ontological, and axiological lens from which she observed evangelical Christians produces inferences that fail–from my perspective as a professed Christian–to encapsulate what it is to truly experience God in relationship. In short, as a non-Christian, she misses the need to focus on Christ. Thus, she provides a perspective of Christianity that views the supernatural as a psychological construct. While I admire her intentions and professional acumen as a researcher, I struggle–after reading her book–to see her research accurately describing my own experience as a Christian. To experience God requires more than what she calls “imaginative prayer.” Rather, it requires faith, hope, love, and action [through relationship] focused on Christ’s leadership, through His Word. My review is provided below:
When God Talks Back (Luhrmann, 2012) encapsulates four years of anthropological, ethnographic research focusing on two congregations within the Vineyard fellowship of churches. Within those four years—for differing periods of time—author, Tanya Luhrmann, participates in various church activities that include attending services, local conferences, and participating in a weekly house group; trying “to learn, from the inside out” (p. xx). Supplementing her ethnography, she interviews members from both churches—more than thirty total. From these observations and interviews, she then conducts experiments to delve deeper into the psychological aspects of prayer and sensory overrides (e.g. voices and visions). Continue reading
“Love will thaw. Of course!” ~Queen Elsa
“Wanna build a snowman?” ~Princess Anna
Frozen is a wonderfully constructed animated movie that I believe speaks at surprisingly great depth about the relationship between fear and love. As is true in real life, all of the characters in Frozen—except for, maybe, Olaf the snowman—have unique challenges in dealing with fear and loving others in a healthy manner. After having watched the movie a few times, I believe that the movie’s screenwriters developed the characters to possess personalities that would accurately reflect their behaviors in the story–grounding this fantasy tale with a realistic human element. Within this writing, I share my thoughts about how fear affects the ability and manner in which the movie’s major characters exhibit love towards one another—as well as its likely effects on their self-perceptions. With each character’s fears being different in scope and focus, these fears influence their ability and manner in which they love others to varying degrees. Character examinations will begin with Hans of the Southern Isles–who very well may not be capable of anything other than self-love. Concluding these examinations shall be Queen Elsa of Arendelle, who in my opinion is the most complex–and in many respects, the most realistic–character within Frozen. If you are curious as to how I can justify a woman whose magical powers can control winter’s elements as the most realistic character in the movie…you will just need to read onward. Continue reading
“He’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight.” ~Jim Gordon in The Dark Knight
The Batman from the Dark Knight Trilogy
Over the past week, I watched the Dark Knight Trilogy—just one of numerous times I have done so. I find it an exceptionally well done movie trilogy. And if I was to select a favorite comic book super hero, it would most likely be the “Dark Knight,” Batman. Those who follow the comic book universe are aware that many comic book series periodically “reboot,” as the ever-growing stories become convoluted, eventually losing plot continuity. Characters’ stories will often be revised to more reflect the times; though, the core elements of comic book characters are often treated sacred–unchangeable. However, these slight changes in a character’s development allow for story reinventions—introducing new themes within the stories. In such a way, Christopher Nolan’s presentation of Batman—and the story told within the trilogy—leaves his version as my favorite incarnation of the Dark Knight.
(Please note: if you have not watched the trilogy, you will encounter spoilers by proceeding) Continue reading
I’ll wait… Continue reading
my beloved ms j…
let’s pretend we made amends and we’re still friends
and rather than a poem you’ll likely never see, you chose to spend this day with me
during that time I had with you, there’s so much that i’d want to do Continue reading
Originally posted on Facebook–September, 2009
I am a small town guy.
I was born in the oldest seaport in the country. A place stuck in time, with an aging population committed to family and tradition. It is a love-hate relationship I hold with Gloucester. So beautiful, yet, so ugly. Henry Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Rudyard Kipling all spent significant time writing by Gloucester’s harborside. Fitz Hugh Lane, Winslow Homer, and Edward Hopper were all inspired to create priceless paintings that have kept the city’s captivating seascapes safe for the ages. Only years ago, however, did Gloucester once again obtain international notariety; this time for the infamous “pregnancy pact.” And like many small towns, news spreads faster than fire…
I am a small town guy. Continue reading
Originally posted on Facebook–December, 2012
Monty: Why did you say that I was a loser?
Simon Wilder: Winners forget they’re in a race, they just love to run. You try too hard.
~From With Honors (1994)
This evening, I took a break from studying and watched what is one of my favorite—if not my favorite—movie, With Honors, starring Joe Pesci (Simon Wilder) and Brendan Fraser (Monty Kessler). The character of Monty Kessler is a driven, highly motivated Harvard student, whole-heartedly focused on graduating “with honors” (Summa Cum Laude) from the renowned institution. The last hurdle for Monty in achieving his goal is to complete his senior thesis. Without getting too inundated with details, Simon Wilder, a bum who lives on the campus, comes upon the only rough draft of Monty’s not-yet-completed —only 88 pages…well, now 82 page—senior thesis. Intent on reacquiring his senior thesis, Monty—who wants to get into government to help people—treats Simon as “less than human,” having him evicted from the boiler room of the Harvard library…during the cold of Winter. Simon ultimately leverages the thesis draft to survive the winter with Monty’s help. Continue reading
Originally posted on Facebook—June, 2014
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” ~John 15:7 NASB
“Yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.” ~Romans 4:20-21 NASB
For years, I have written notes sharing my thoughts on subjects that I believe to be essential within biblical teachings—often returning to topics repeatedly. Such topics include: love, trust, faith, hope, humility, forgiveness, sacrifice, truth, pain, and suffering. These topics arise repeatedly throughout scripture, giving credence to their importance. As should be the case given such context, I try to look at these topics through the lens of Jesus—all things pointing to the cross. A Christian’s convictions should be centered on the crucifixion and resurrection; otherwise, there is no foundation for a Christian belief system. Scripture tells us to believe in God’s character, His love, His forgiveness, His mercy, His sovereignty, His consistency, His omniscience and omnipotence. We are told to have faith in Him—to believe in Him; centering ourselves on Him. We are to possess an attitude of thankfulness and reverence towards God…an attitude of trust. There is good reason for this, when you understand how vital it is in guiding your path:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” ~Proverbs 3:5-6
Belief is a powerful ally…or enemy. There is much to suggest—within both a biblical and secular context—that belief strongly influences individuals’ attitudes, establishing their behavioral intentions, which often leads to the actual intended behavior. In the 1970s, psychology professors Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) proposed the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), which states just that: beliefs > attitudes > intentions > behavior/actions. More precisely, the theory suggests that individuals’ behaviors are dependent on both their attitudes about the behavior, and how others will react if they actually perform the behavior (i.e. take action). Continue reading