Sunday, January 24, 2010

By the way...

So I have now actually relocated my blogging activities, limited though they may be. If you're interested, the new blog is at Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 31, 2009

A reality check

Tee hee...

Compliments of xkcd.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Look at the stars..."

One of the best birthday presents I may have ever received was four tickets to see Coldplay at the Gorge, which I, my sister and two friends did last night.
It. Was. Amazing. Whether they’re aware of it or not, I really think these British guys are doing God's work. The whole concert (and the general experience with their music, especially the newer stuff) was/is a celebration of beauty, it seemed to me. Their music is so positive, but not in a saccharine or forced way. Their performance was so opulent, visceral, beautiful…yes, I would definitely say transcendent. While other contemporary musicians are whining about breakups or bragging about their sexual conquests or just making angry noise, Coldplay is (are?) making music that is genuinely uplifting in a performance whose passion and beauty really smacks of the divine. I realize this is flowery, melodramatic language on my part, and this may be due somewhat to how exhausted I still am. But I honestly believe it to be true. And it’s just one other reason why I think God is most definitely at work in today’s pop culture; even though there is a great deal of ugly, insincere, wasteful garbage out there, there is also a great deal of stuff that is charged with creativity, beauty and energy that can only come from God, because it is from God that these things flow.
Coldplay, obviously, seem(s?) to form one such conduit.

Friday, July 10, 2009


If I've been paying any attention lately to the philosophical battle in which the Church is entangled, I've learned that there are at least two worldviews which are fundamentally opposed to everything a good Catholic stands for. The first is materialism; the idea that the physical is all there is, that life came about from the random crashing of atoms, asteroids and amino acids and that any perception of love or beauty is merely an evolved reaction brought to you by neurotransmitters. The second is relativism; truth is what you make it, and everything is different for everyone. At least, that's more or less the perception I get of both these ideas.
One thing that both of these worldviews have in common is a proclivity towards atheism. Not my cup of tea, for reasons that should be obvious to anyone who peruses the archives of this blog. The second would be the idea that there is little or no "system" to the universe--the reality, whatever that may be--that we find ourselves in. The funny thing is that I've been finding myself to be more and more sympathetic to this latter idea.
Lemme 'splain.
A little over a year ago a friend of mine gave me a book that shook me and my worldview up a little bit, called Wild at Heart, by John Eldredge. One quote in particular from that book that has stuck to me is simply this: "There are no formulas with God. Period." Now, perhaps I'm extending Eldredge's meaning further than it was intended; I'm not sure. But I've taken that quote and its meaning very much to heart in the past year, it seems. It used to be that I would feel guilty for doing something if the good in it wasn't clearly stamped out and obvious, or if I couldn't find clear meaning in it at all. Eighteen months ago I might not have allowed myself to, for example, listen to the music of Say Anything, because they cuss a lot and sing about sex, etc. etc. But now I do, and why?
Because I like it. I like their music.
Ulp. Sounds a little dangerous, perhaps. But if there are no formulas with God, is it possible that, for example, He is in fact leading me closer to Him via the rather visceral lyrics and spastic melodies of Say Anything, perhaps as sincere expressions of human experience?
Man, that sounds so gross and intellectual. Blah. But hopefully you know what I mean.
Here, essentially, is what I'm getting at: We know that God is present in the world; despite the panicked assertions of some, we could even say He permeates it. Yes, there is also a great deal of evil, but the goodness and power of God far outstrips it. Also, we know that someone who earnestly seeks Him will find Him--knock and the door will be opened. If we sincerely ask God that His will be accomplished in us, then it will be, in some way or another. We do our part by living by the basic moral precepts that He has outlined for us via Scripture and the Church, and He, in turn, will guide us according to the situations, feelings, opportunities and people that come in and out of our lives.
Beyond the aforementioned basic moral precepts, life is not a maze to be navigated, not a complex and unforgiving game with inscrutable rules. It's an adventure, constantly new terrain to be explored because there are no formulas.
Anarchy! Anything can happen! Gasp! Yes, I use the word "anarchy" pretty loosely here. Forgive me, it just looks so cool with an exclamation point next to it.
Aaaanywaaaay....perhaps the conclusion that I've just outlined actually is dangerous and wrongheaded--after all, it does cause me to empathize with the relativists somewhat, simply in that it gives me the impression that human experience is, in fact, much more individualized than I'd first thought. I'd welcome criticism from anyone who may care to offer it. In any case, it's something to think about.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Concerning oceans

So I spent the last few days in Lincoln City, a medium-sized tourist trap on the Oregon Coast. Having gone there at least five times before in the past, I dunno, eight years, there is little here that is new to report. The place still has the seagulls, the brine, the kelp and crabshells and gross green streaks of foam that it has had for millenia. It also has the omnipresent nautical themes, cozy beach houses and surprisingly frumpy atmosphere that it has probably had for the past century. Assuming it's existed that long; I don't know.
It sounds like I speak disparagingly of it, as if I'm sick of the place. And, I'll be honest, the town has some kitschy-ness about it that doesn't entirely agree with me. Because I'm so cultured, doncha know...
But there's something undeniably special about the ocean. Even when I'm walking along the beach, freezing because of the absurd wind and trying not to yelp as the airborne sand flays my legs, I get a kick out of it. Well, "a kick" is perhaps not the right phrase. But it always seems to pull me into a sort of pleasantly contemplative state. The sand whipping my legs, for example: it occurred to me as I was getting exfoliated down there on the beach that this was eons and eons of geological matter flying past me, getting itself all over my clothes, into my shoes, my hair. Like the centuries were delivering me a personal beating. That's a bit of an honor, is it not?
Then of course there are the waves. And the way the sea and the sky melt together into a white haze on the horizon, like it really is the edge of the world. One can easily see where people got the idea of a flat earth.
Then there's the distinct pleasure of coming inside after getting beaten up by the sand and the wind and the surf and the chill, taking a shower, flopping onto the couch in a warm living room, cracking open a can of cream soda and waiting for assorted family members to wander in so we can all turn on a movie. That's when you look up at the bizarre ships-wheel light fixture and think to yourself, "life is good."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Oh man, how do I do this again?

Assuming I still know how to write (and assuming I don't change my mind again and toss this blog in the trash like I originally planned), I would like to share some thoughts regarding...robots. I think. Yeah, robots. As in how often does a person typically end up feeling like one?
As in "emotional range of a teaspoon," to quote Hermione Granger....
Oh dang. I don't know how to write. Not like this, anyway. Perhaps a fictional approach:

Model 062390, Class A was not always Model 062390, Class A. Sometimes it was just Otto. Or, more appropriately, sometimes Otto was just Model 062390, Class A. Every once in a while his eyeballs would roll upward and he'd discover that good old Class A metal plating encasing his head, or he'd look down and it would be wrapped around his chest. And then there was the wretched insert. Sensors fed from the plating, a la acupuncture, into his spinal column where they gracefully wound upward to the insert. The insert would then interpret the input from the sensors accordingly.
Now don't misunderstand, the insert did not control Otto's brain, by any means. But it sure could raise a racket. Otto wasn't personally inclined to take its advice, but that inclination, practically speaking, meant very little when he wasn't able to tell if the voice he was hearing was it or Daddy. It was very adept at impersonating Daddy. Otto would have dearly liked to somehow reached into his own skull and yanked the thing out. But things don't work that way, obviously.
One of many tricks the insert had up its sleeve was convincing Otto that he was not, in fact, Otto but rather Model 062390, Type A. It could do this very efficiently by snaking a mechanical tendril into his chest and restricting the movement of his heart.
Otto knew the heart wasn't everything, by any means. That was one thing Daddy always reminded him of, and he knew (but didn't always feel) it to be true. But to feel the heart thump in his chest was very reassuring, and when that didn't happen (or at least happened in a stunted fashion) he, well, felt less like Otto and more like
Model 062390, Type A.

Hmmm... I look through the archives and I'm like, "Well, actually this looks pretty decent to me. Maybe I should keep it."
I'm so decisive. If I change my mind again, the new one would be the second blog I've created and deleted in as many days.

Moving on...

Why, you may ask, would I change blogs when I have a perfectly functioning (albeit rather abandoned) one right here? not sure.
But I've gone and done it. So if you are at all interested, the new URL is
All you faithful readers out there...;)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The theological significance of "Toy Story"

Yeah, this is actually something I've been wanting to write about for a while. There's this one scene from Toy Story that I keep thinking about, a scene that I guess you could say gets at the crux of the movie's themes (all movies have themes, especially the ones for kids). Funny thing, this scene also, if perhaps unintentionally, gets at the crux of the theme of being a human. That, kids, is called anthropomorphizing. But more on that later...
Anyhoo, the scene I'm thinking of: Buzz and Woody are in a very sticky situation, waiting on the nasty green carpet in Sid's bedroom for Sid himself to come along and blow them sky high. Well, blow Buzz sky high. He's duct taped to a rocket and his little plastic arm has popped off, lying limp and useless a few feet away (sheesh, this all sounds so horrific out of context). Woody is stuck under a milk crate with a toolbox stacked on top of it, making futile attempts to escape. Finally, in frustration, he asks Buzz for help. Buzz responds:
"I can't help. I can't help anyone."
"Sure you can. You can help me get this box off, then we'll get out of here and make a break for Andy's house!" (or something to that effect)
Andy's house, Sid's house. What's the difference?
Woody: Oh, Buzz, you must not be thinking clearly!
Buzz: No, Woody, for the first time I am thinking clearly. You were right all along; I'm just a toy. A stupid, puny, insignificant toy.
Woody: Whoa, hey, wait a minute. Being a toy is better than being a...a space ranger, pal.
Buzz: Yeah, right.
Woody: No, it is. Listen, when Andy plays with you do you think it's because you've discovered planets, made friends with aliens or defeated the evil emperor Zurg? No. It's because you're a toy; you are his toy!
Buzz: But why would Andy want me?
Woody: Why would Andy want you?! Look at you! You've got wings, you glow in the dark, you talk! Your helmet does that, that whoosh thing! You are a cool toy!...As a matter of fact you're too cool. I mean, all I can do is (pulls string in his back, we hear a recorded yelp: "Thar's a snake in mah boot!"). Why would Andy ever want to play with me, when he's got you?...I'm the one who should be strapped to that rocket.

Apparently Woody's words did have an effect on Buzz, because within minutes he's shoving the tool box off the milk crate and the two of them are off on their glorious escape. Anyway, now that I've paraphrased that whole scene...
The question being answered here is: what makes our existence worthwhile? What if we can't go to the moon, write the great American novel, become a high-powered executive? What if all we can do is spout cheesy lines?
That doesn't matter.
Guess who Andy represents in this picture? Right. Our worth lies not in our achievements or abilities, but in what we are. We are humans, made in the image and likeness of God, with great beauty and great potential thereby. Every. Single. One. Space rangers and cowboys alike. Of course, the realization that our ability and achievements are not the most important thing is a little hard for us to swallow. We, like Buzz, think that our value as "just us" is a poor replacement for all the other awesome things we thought we were doing. But when we do accept, things are so much better. Think of the movie's opening scene, where Woody is riding across the "desert plains" and all sorts of yadda yadda yadda, and doing it from the guidance of Andy's hand. He's having the time of his life.
And so will we, when we realize (however slowly) that we alone cannot be all that hot stuff. When we realize that with God, however, we can go to infinity and beyond.
(what was that I said earlier about spouting cheesy lines...?)