Custom Search

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tuesday's News

I feel beat.

Today I was able to get the last of the sheetrock hung for my project and I also began mudding. I am thankful to have a brother in law that knows how to do things better than I do and that he can show me how to do those things better.

Tomorrow- MORE MUD! Then I'll let it dry. Then I'll mud again. Then I'll sand it. Oy, big ventures.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, May 28, 2007

Today's Progress

Since I typically have either too high of an expectation or a real lack of final output, I do have to say that I am satisfied with today's progress.

I now have all of the rough sheet rock hung in the bathroom. I got caught up initially trying to figure out how reframe around an unmovable pipe but I eventually figured it out.

So tomorrow I can finish hanging the sheetrock for the rest of the room that is off of the bathroom. I hope to have that done by mid afternoon. Then once that is done I can clear the room out of all the remainder of unneeded materials and junk that's in there and I can get to muddnig and taping.

Thank God for Internet Radio to help me through the insanity while I work.

Labels: , ,

This week

Today is Memorial Day and I'm taknig the whole week off of work. I started working on a home remodel project back in November that still has not been completed and I am tired of looking at this room in the shape that it is in.

I've torn all of the walls out, insulated, installed new windows, and I am now trying to get all of the rest of the sheetrock put back on the walls.

It is crunch time and I need to work like I'm getting paid.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, May 21, 2007

Action Jeans Finally, you don`t have to decide between wearing fashionable jeans and doing karate.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

From Evangelical Christian to Theological Agnosticism

(This post is a follow up to the previous post entitled Deconstruction At Work)

I have recently been given the suggestion to try and invite my readers into my spiritual journey that has led me to where I am today. The suggestion comes from one of my former college professors and friend, Dr. Gary Nebeker. I will try and keep it brief, and yet still try and accent the more vital points as they happen.

My Childhood
I grew up in what was probably the typical upbringing for my time. My dad was struggling in his self-employment and so my mom had to go back to work to try and make enough for ends to meet. I am the older of two kids. My dad also liked to work on cars and help out a friend of his who did body work for some amateur racers. My mom specialized in printed media.

We went to church almost every Sunday morning, usually also on Sunday nights, and then as we got older we attended youth group on Wednesday nights. That makes a regular three doses of religion a week for nearly 18 years. My first experience came when I was about 6 years old.

I remember sitting in the pews of Grace Baptist Church, thinking about other things, when suddenly I started listening to the Pastor. I heard him saying something about the need to ask Jesus into your heart or you would go to hell where there was fire and punishment that lasted forever. As a six year old I was pretty rattled by that and decided that I should probably do that so that I didn't have to go there. So with every head bowed, every eye closed, and everyone looking around I decided to stand there and repeat the prayer in my head of what he was saying. I didn't go forward or go talk to the pastor afterwards. Later that I afternoon I told my mom what I had done and she wanted me to tell my dad. I don't remember why it was so hard for me to, because I knew that this wasn't an issue that I'd get into trouble about, but I just had a really hard time telling him. I just sat on the floor and cried. I was scared and nervous, but after I told him I then felt better. Within a few weeks we started talking about baptism.

I wanted to be baptized because it seemed like the good and right thing to do. I had seen so many other people up on stage do it and it didn't seem like such a bad thing. So we talked to the pastor about it. When we talked it was just he and I. I don't remember my parents being there. We were in his office which seemed to be dark except for the light that was shining through the window. He asked me some questions and then he seemed to be satisfied so we went out and talked to my parents about it and set up a date for it to happen. The date came and I then got dunked.

The whole experience seemed a bit odd to me, but I was only six. I remember changing into the baptism robe, going into the tank, going under, and then getting out, drying off, and getting dressed. That was the end of that because afterward we were having an all church picnic outside which meant that there would be a lot of food and I could play. I do remember, though, the people who then congratulated me later on being baptized. I didn't really know why they were doing that or what it meant. I just said thanks and kept playing. Life after that was just "normal" stuff for a kid; school, playing, church, little league...etc.

We stopped going to Grace Baptist Church when I was probably in 5th or 6th grade.

Things did get a little more interesting for me as I approached the end of my Elementary School days. I experimented for the first time with smoking [cigarettes that my neighbor used to sneak from his mom or sister] and I had my first look at a dirty magazine.

As I got into Jr. High, I got into fights fairly regularly. Not because I was a rough kid, but mostly because I was either picked on for my size or I accidentally said the wrong thing at the wrong time. My grades were horrible because I didn't have much interest in school. I would have rather been out riding my skateboard or drawing something. I apparently liked the 6th grade so much that I did it twice.

In the meantime, we had left Grace Baptist Church and started attending Airport Baptist Church. I really don't remember why we left there but we did and so I had to get reacquainted with a new batch of people my age. We weren't there for very long though. We visited for about a few months and then found ourselves visiting another church on the other side of town, First Federated Church, this time it was non-denominational. We attended there for about a year or so but it was strange. The church was huge; I think the biggest in town at that time. They always put on the best Christmas and Easter musicals, and they were the first church that we went to that had a full band that played during worship...I mean brass, drums, strings, backup singers...the whole deal. I thought that was cool, but I didn't really have any friends there. There may have been 1 or 2 others that I went to school with at the time but we were all there for the same reasons- we all had to go there for our parents so we may as well have fun. At the time their youth pastor didn't really do anything for me, although we did later become friends when I was in college.

The only draw to that church for me at that time was this girl that I met whom I could have lived without. We eventually broke up, which didn't impact my world in the least. The timing worked out also that for whatever the reason was, our stint there was done. Next stop, Capital City Baptist. This is where things really get interesting.

Into Jr. High/High School
After shopping around for another church for a while we ended up landing at Capital City Baptist Church on Des Moines' north side. It was new and exciting. The building was new, the people were nice....and the girls were really good looking. I didn't have any friends there yet because no one from my school went there. I was now, at least a little more, interested in going to church. By this time, I had taken an interest in politics and this place was really Republican. They preached about Heaven, Hell, Sin, and all that stuff, but when they talked politics I was all ears.

When I was in 9th grade things really sucked. I was at a new school with only a few people that I knew. I still had very little interest in education and I didn't really want to be around a lot of people. As the year went on though I did find myself making friends and getting around a bit. My grades were really bad though, so that caused a lot of tension between my parents and I. I spent a good amount of time grounded. That year, the beginning of the spring of 1994, I went into a near suicidal depression. I decided to tell a close friend of mine about it. He then cared enough to tell one of the school counselors. Before I knew it, I was then called into her office and then later that day checked into the hospital. I then spent about 6-8 weeks in mental rehabilitation both inpatient and outpatient. I think that it was really needed because of the previous 14 years of angst that had built up inside of me. I got a chance to tell my parents things that I might not have otherwise had the chance to. I got to apologize to my sister for the mean things that I had done to her as we grew up. I even made things right with people from my past at that point. I really wanted to clean my life up. [Oh, I failed to mention my experimentation with inhalants right before this time]

I was diagnosed then with having Unipolar Disorder. That essentially equates to common mild/moderate depression. Manic thoughts with depressive manifestations. I was then prescribed the antidepressant Prozak. It really seemed to work so I went back to school to finish out the year and then summer came.

That summer we took a much needed family vacation out to the Northwest Coast of Washington and Oregon to visit family. At this point in my life I was able to enjoy it more than I ever had in the past. There was something about being in the country and in the mountains or on the beach that put me at ease, but before we went out there I met with a "spiritual renewal" counselor to see if he could help me with aftercare from my time in the hospital. We agreed to start meeting after my family returned from vacation.

While on vacation I became reacquainted with a cousin of mine. He and his wife were very dedicated Christians who were just trying to help me. They had heard about my depression and everything that goes with it, so they lent me an audio cassette that contained either a sermon or lecture on the subject of Spiritual Warfare. After listening to it I became intrigued at the idea of spiritual power and I quietly said a prayer one night asking that if Satan were real he would show me by giving me some of these powers that I had heard about. Nothing happened though. I didn't start worshiping him, I didn't kill any animals, I didn't spit on a Bible...nothing changed. I still went to church and sang the songs; everything stayed the same.

After we returned from our month long vacation I began to meet with my new Christian counselor. He was a nice guy who had 5 kids. He worked in real estate for his main job but did free Christian counseling at night. My dad had lived down the street from him when they were kids. I was also accompanied by another guy from our church whom my parents respected. I won't go into everything that happened there but I will say that we went through Neil T. Anderson's book The Bondage Breaker in about a week's time. At the end of the week I truly felt like I was a brand new person and my life did begin to change radically.

I now studied like never before. I read the Bible more in one summer than I did my whole life. I wanted to go to church. I threw away all of my secular music and books. I stopped watching movies with violence and bad language. I threw away old writings of mine that were of a non spiritual nature. I began to cut ties with my non Christian friends. Things were really different for me. It was really difficult for my parents though because they were fairly nominal in their faith. They began by hoping that this guy would help me, and now I had become a religious nut. My consistency in behaviour was also testimony enough to the psychologist that I could go off of Prozak.

When I returned back to the youth group at Capital City Baptist Church I got our family in trouble. I was now so "on fire" for God that I was looked at as a radical. I was often asked to meet with the pastors about things that they had heard me either asking questions about or teaching others. I spent many hours with them examining the Bible and debating various issues. Since it was still summer, I had the time to be able to devote 4-5 hours a day in Bible reading and study. The more I read and studied, the more questions I had that challenged their Baptist way of thinking. I was eventually more or less put on probation. Simultaneously, the Youth/Music Pastor had been trying to pursue my dad to get him to play the part of Peter in the upcoming Easter Cantata. My dad's work schedule was too busy so he declined. Now there we stood, I was "too spiritual" and my dad lacked "real dedication." Also while that was going on, the church began to divide over the issue of a building project that had been offered. Church politics got the best of everyone and this led to a split. We, and several other families, went off with a group headed by the guy who went to counseling with me and we then started Family Bible Church.

Family Bible Church was a cozy gig. It allowed us to be ourselves. We studied the Bible pretty intensely and had a very tight nit group. We really were like a family. Nothing cultish about it; we just all really worked together. We met in the pastor's home or other homes around town. We often had other get-togethers outside of regular church. My dad and I got to sing with some of the other guys, which we really liked, and it was just a great time. But eventually all good things come to an end. Whatever the reasons, my parents decided that it was time to find a new church.

This new church hunt was especially hard for me. I had now developed friendships with people at school from a very diversified spread of Christianity. Though we all had acceptance and tolerance for each other, all of my studies were leading me to a more Charismatic/Pentecostal/Word of Faith view of the Bible. My parents seemed pretty set on finding another Baptist church and I tried to encourage them to try not to limit themselves so much denominationally. But they knew that I had become more charismatic then they were. We finally ended up landing at an Evangelical Free Church by invitation of my grandparents who had gone there for about a year before we did. 10 years and an "almost divorce" later, my parents are still at that Church, but it's terribly yuppier now than it has ever been.

Anyways, our time at the Evangelical Free church was what could be expected. They taught about man's sin, his need for redemption through Christ, Heaven, Hell...all of the regular stuff. We were in agreement on Sin and Salvation, Biblical Inerrancy/Inspiration/Infallibility...but I came to find out that the Youth Pastor, and all the other pastors there, were Post Tribulational Rapturists...and what's worse; they were also Calvinists. I felt the friction, but it wasn't a big enough thing to ruffle me too badly. I did, however, often feel that there was a real lack of Bible study in youth group. So to compliment that I would often visit other churches on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights [mostly charismatic churches].

My parents grew in concern for my Pentecostal ways so they eventually had me meet with the Youth Pastor about it. We met several times for several hours discussing various issues really to no avail. I felt like the more we talked and the more I head his position, the more it only seemed to solidify my own. So following suit, I had begun to think about making plans to attend RHEMA Bible College in Tulsa, OK. Unfortunately, my dad told me that if I planned on going there that he would not support me financially or otherwise. I really struggled with what to do at that point.

A few months before that, I had what I was convinced was a vision from God concerning my future. I had the dream in my first round of sleep followed by what I felt was the interpretation in the 2nd round. The dream told me that "Under you, many shall fall by fire." I didn't know what that meant really. Would I be a revivalist? An Evangelist? A Preacher? I didn't know but I just knew that it would be something with power.

Then in the spring, I had received what I believed was another "message" from God. It wasn't a vision or an audible voice, but it told me to lay aside everything that I had been studying on my own and just prepare for what God was going to do. So I prayed about it and made the decision in early summer to go to Grace University in Omaha, NE. This was an exciting and scary adventure for me. After all, I would be moving to a new city and living on my own, learning about God in a Christian college...etc.

College was a great experience for me. It would have been better if I would have known more what I was doing. I met some great people, I had some good work experiences, I learned about money and the lack thereof. But more than anything I was challenged mentally in a way that I had not been before.

To make a long theological story short-
I went into college a charismatic- I came out more conservative [the college was conservative]
I went into college a fundamentalist- I came out a little more moderate [the college was fundamentalist]
I went into college an Arminian- I came out a hybrid-Calvinist [the college was more Calvinistic]
I went into college a Mid Trib Rapturist- I came out a Post Trib Rapturist [the college was mostly Pre Trib/Pre Mil Rapturist]

My second year at the college I didn't know that I had Sleep Apnea. Because of that, I was tired enough that I ended up missing enough of my classes that I was failing. My work was still completed in good quality but my grades dropped because of my lack of attendance. I ended up with less than a 1.0 GPA

After College
Later that summer I received a letter from the college asking that I consider not returning until I was able to perform in a more serious academic way. I had already decided though that I wasn't going back. I needed to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. You see, right before going into my Freshman year of college I had gone on a church mission trip to Mexico. I fell in love with the country, the language and the people. I really believed in my heart that I was being called to one day return there as a missionary. That is where my college education came in. I knew that it could probably get me there. But into my second year I started to find my interest shift toward sociology/anthropology/philosophy. Before I knew it, my desire for missions had slipped away.

So I'm now back at home after having decided not to go back to college. I just wanted something normal in my life. I wanted to get married. I wanted to find out why I was always tired even though I was sleeping so much. I wanted to get a regular job. I just wanted something normal like everyone else.

I do admit that during this time I felt burned out from the whole Christian college scene. I felt like there were people there who had hurt me in certain ways. I also felt like the academia of it all had temporarily sucked the spirituality out of me. I felt like it was permissible for me to take a "break" from it all, but I knew that it wouldn't last long.

Before I knew it I was back at my parent's church with them trying to find my place among those left there my age. It was hard though because the "College & Career" class never had consistent attendance of either people or frequency. So I found myself becoming part of other groups. I attended the Drake University college ministry groups, I even found another church that was more routine in people my age. [That's where I eventually met my wife] But it still seemed that no matter what I did, no matter what formula I tried to follow, that I just couldn't swing back into the same spirituality that I possessed in High School. I then found myself swinging to and fro from the trees of thought.

Why doesn't this seem to work? Where is God. Why am I not hearing from Him. What should I be doing differently? What if I would have made different choices? Have I messed up God's will for my life?

When I found no immediate answers to these questions I then started to find myself wondering if Christianity was the only way. Perhaps there is something else out there. Perhaps God has a place for everything in the the Universe. Maybe all of these various religions are just God's various avatars through time.......

I had all of these thoughts until one day when I was sitting in church. While I was debating with myself over these issues it seemed as though God quietly spoke to my mind and told me that the reason for my confusion was that I was looking from the wrong perspective. I was at the bottom looking up and I needed to be at the top looking down so that I could see how He sees. Fair enough, so the journey began again.

I got back into Bible study, prayer, fellowship, etc. I did feel a newfound sense of commitment to God again. It felt easier to forgive those who had hurt me. Forgive myself for doubting. Forgive my choices, and all the rest. I was back on the road to recovery...until a few months later when I started having doubts and questions about my faith. It was also around this time that my wife and I were getting ready to get married. She was a Christian during this time, but not very committed or strong in her faith. It wasn't until after we got married that I started to feed my doubt a diet based solely on my emotions and experience. My beef against Christianity was based on the previous two ingredients. I wanted to call myself an atheist but I didn't really know exactly what all that entailed.

Eventually though, once again I found myself swinging back to biblical reasoning only this time it seemed like it was with more fervor and passion. I wanted to retrace my steps, and the steps of Christianity through history. This search led me to read more of the Bible, more history books, more apocryphal literature, etc...and I began to see that there was more to historic Christianity than just being a Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Reformed, etc. What I began to see initially was just how different the modern church appeared to be from the early Christian Church. As a reaction I started to wonder just what all happened that took it so far from its roots, and how can I try and recapture some of that authenticity in my life. The problem with that approach though is that reconstruction requires deconstruction....and we are really not fully capable of achieving that the way we think we can. So once again I found myself setting off on a new trail in my search for truth and direction.

Initially my studies showed me that some of the pet doctrines that are held to today have evolved somewhat since they first began. That's become a very large looming problem with religion in general- the metamorphosis through time. One of the first areas that I began to see this in was the area of Dispensationalism and Eschatology. I believed very firmly in a "Rapture" that would one day take all of us Christians home...but then I started to see how the whole idea of such a concept didn't really originate, or at least become more widely accepted until between 1830-1850. It was a relatively new doctrine that was initially rejected, but now very widely accepted. So after more study and listening to many formal debates on the subject I came to hold more of a Reformed Partial Preterist/Amillennial view.

The second major area was that of Final Retribution. I had once believed in such a thing as a literal Hell with real fire and real torture that literally lasted forever and ever. Through more study of both the Bible as well as historical and literary research I came to settle with my new belief that the Bible both supported and taught Annihilation in its pure and original context. But in order to arrive at that conclusion I had to first abandon the notion of reading the Bible as being 100% inspired and literal. The second thing I had to do was be open to extra biblical sources to help me determine the meanings of words.

I then hit a nerve in myself one day when I asked myself how exactly should I read the Gospels. Should I read them in their raw form and accept them at face value and assume that every word is timeless, or should I try and keep them in their historical and cultural context? Perhaps look at them as going back over court records or something like that; words that must be left only within the context of their time and place. I finally came to settle on the notion that Jesus probably said what he said in his day because of the things he was up against....but if he delayed his first coming until today the words and issues might be very different. That then allowed me to be able to remove that much more of the requirements to read the Bible literally in all regard. It allowed me to stop looking at the Gospels as historical records and consider them to possibly be more liturgical in nature.

The bottom line was just that I could no longer rely on all of the tradition and formal training that I had previously received. So many ideas, in light of stepping outside of the box that had been set for me, begged so many additional questions in my mind. So in my continued search for answers I thought that the best way to find out what Christians believed was to listen directly to Christians. I then scoured the Internet for whatever reading material or recorded debates/conversations/lectures on any and every possible subject. It only led me deeper into confusion and frustration. I found that all of these various people, who all claimed to be followers of the same God seemed to be describing very different gods in their presentations. I found that these students of the Bible, who were all supposedly filled with the same Holy Spirit that leads to ultimate truth, were all led in different directions. So many chasms, disagreements, nuances, was an extreme source of confusion, especially since many of their arguments were compelling, and based on scripture. So I found myself then almost back to square one. My conclusion then became that we all needed to ultimately define what Biblical Truth was for ourselves and then just personally live according to it. No need for debate, strife, disagreement; you do your thing and I'll do mine. But I still couldn't find what exactly mine was.

The icing on the cake for me was that January of 2006, after feeling a sense of depression for about 5 or 6 months, I finally went to the doctor and was put on prescription antidepressants. In trying to properly assess why I was depressed I simply could not make sense of it. Was it because of my sin? I wasn't hiding anything. Was it because of someone else's sin? I didn't think God worked that way. Was it so that God could show his glory? What does that mean anyways? Depending on who I talked to about it, I would get varying answers. I had my own little "Friends of Job" society.

Eventually in my studies I started seeing interesting things. The biggest issue was that in order to make sense of the total message of Christianity you had to first accept its tenets and then you would begin to understand its doctrine. In other words, you couldn't just pick up a Bible and come to these main doctrinal conclusions on your own, you had to be shown them either by someone else or by the Holy Spirit to begin to understand them. So I wanted to try and step back a bit and trace things back to the beginning.

I found that in order to understand Paul you need to understand Jesus. In order to understand Jesus you needed to understand the law and the prophets. The problem here was that the more I studied the law and the prophets, the more I saw their inability to stand on their own. I saw that even within Judaism, of which Christianity was supposed to be based on, there was much debate as to the meaning and purpose of their own scriptures. I read a lot on the possibilities of the stories of Creation, The Flood, Job, Jonah...all of these stories being myth and not fact; according to ancient reliable rabbis. If they are myth then how can we know whether or not to trust them?

So what have my studies since proven? I have come to have many suspicions about the Apostle Paul really being a true follower of the real teachings of Christ. He only quotes the words of Christ 3 times in his letters. The rest of his writings seem to be extremely mystical with regard to doctrine and a surface retracing of his Old Testament citations shows them to be either sincerely misunderstood or out of context. He was initially a solitary teacher of his mysteries. Jesus' appearing to Paul could not be fully verified even from the Bible's account. The accounts of the encounter in the book of Acts have two conflicting stories. There is really no more apparent reason to believe that Paul has any more credibility than Joseph Smith.

Who was Jesus really? We have 4 main Gospel accounts [at least the ones that made the final cut] that each have some discrepancies in their stories and their dating. It is therefore suspect that any of the original disciples actually finished writing any of them. It seems, given the time period, that there is probably truth mingled with legend. It is very likely that the original document that the Gospels are fashioned after is called Quelle or Q. It is a collection of only the sayings of Christ. That very well may have been the source document but recent archeology cannot provide any sure fire evidence for its existence. At any rate, when you take into account the contents of each Gospel account and compare it to its dating for origination, you will find that as time went by the stories did get a little more elaborate. And if we can accept these Gospels as they are, then why couldn't we accept all of the other Gnostic or extant Gospels and miscellaneous writings as also being true? They too contain mysterious and odd sayings and doings of Christ.

But just assuming that Jesus really did say and do everything that is recorded, how does it square with the Old Testament? It really doesn't. It is apparent that there is a real disconnect between how the people of his day interpret their Bible and how he does. He comes along and completely turns the tables upside down on everyone with "new teaching" as they often call it. Now, I think it would be extremely difficult to try and imagine being alive in those days to see all of this happening but what we can assume is that a reasonable doubt in those days would probably lead people into question by default. Jesus never directly claimed to be born of the virgin nor did he ever directly claimed to be God. Our modern hermeneutics would teach us that we can fairly conclude that he did, but I find that to be unfair to the text. It is also very unfair to the text to suggest his coming as a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. That is the difficulty with prophecy; it is extremely vague and claims of fulfillment lie solely in ones ability to interpret hindsight subjectively or presuppositionally. There is never any way to be able to fairly test external realities against spiritual claims of this nature.

Over all, I found/am finding that the biggest difficulty that I have with all of this is the level of intellectually dishonesty among many religious people. They often believe that the burden of proof is on others to prove that Christianity is wrong, rather than the burden of proof being on them to show it as being right; and their ace in the hole for dealing with this tension is "faith." The commodity of faith becomes the get-out-of-jail-free card. This can be especially evident with many issues pertaining to how the invisible qualities of God are clearly made known through Creation. Paul is speaking of still fallen creation at this point, and yet the clear characteristics of nature are contrary and inconsistent with what is revealed in the Bible. So how does one acquire even such general revelation through nature?

Many of these issues stem back to the advice that was given to us by our College President, who was a very fine man. "Think Critically" was what we heard whenever he spoke. Thinking critically has now brought me to this place. It is amazing how much different things look without the cloak of presuppositionalism or assumed indoctrination. When all one has are the naked pieces of evidence before him, it is hard to naturally come to such an elaborate conclusion such as Evangelical Christianity.

My conclusion thus far is this- At this point, with the evidence that I have before me, I must concede to theological agnosticism. If everything about Christianity is true, then I would have to concede to 5 Point Calvinism which believes that faith stands apart from reason and is only given to an isolated number of indiscriminately elected individuals, of whom I am apparently not one of them.

None of this is an attempt at trying to hurt anyone's faith, just simply an account of how I have progressively lost mine. If I had the time I would attempt to be much more concise and thorough in my examination of these and other issues...but for now I think that will be enough.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell is dead

LYNCHBURG, Va. - The Rev. Jerry Falwell, who founded the Moral Majority and built the religious right into a political force, died Tuesday shortly after being found unconscious in his office at Liberty University, a school executive said. He was 73.

I do not believe the homosexual community deserves minority status. One's misbehavior does not qualify him or her for minority status. Blacks, Hispanics, women, etc., are God-ordained minorities who do indeed deserve minority status.

-- Rev Jerry Falwell, USA Today Chat, quoted from The Religious Freedom Coalition, "The Two faces of Jerry Falwell"

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, May 14, 2007

Raising my rates

Over the weekend I had to come to terms with the fact that I am not making enough with my side business to really make it worth anything. If anything, I'm probably actually losing money doing what I'm doing.

If any of you don't know about it, I have my own side business called Custom Computer Works

I do PC repair and consultation. I work with a lot of different issues for residents and businesses.

The trouble that I was having for quite a while was that I wanted to be able to bring in some additional income, but I also didn't want to have to charge people too much for my services. There are so many places around that charge $50-65/hour. I really feel that might be a bit much. And why do I think that's too much? Because I am a miser; a cheapskate! I don't like to spend any more money than I have to, but I guess that life doesn't always afford me that convenience.

So over the weekend I decided to revisit my costs and what I would charge people for my services. I think I've hit a happy medium. I think that I've come up with rates that will put some more cash in my pocket while still being very competitive with my prices.

Now I just have to see what a guy needs to do to build his customer base.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, May 11, 2007

Life or Death

He's kind of cute, isn't he?

Not in my book.

I have mice in my garage in an old bathtub that we used to store corn in that we used to heat our house with over the winter. They started nesting there and now there are about 15 of them.

My wife got close enough to their nest and was moving things around enough that she may have stirred up some dust. Some of that dust may have been inhaled by her. If it was, then she runs the risk of contracting Hantavirus. Hantavirus, if not detected early on through flu-like symptoms, has proven to be lethal. There is no cure for the virus itself but if doctors can treat the symptoms before they escalate then the patient can be saved. Of the last 6 cases reported in the state of Iowa only 1 person died.

We are waiting to find out if my wife will develop any of these symptoms or not but it may take 1-5 weeks for them to start manifesting.

So in the meantime, we've started leaving the garage door open so that the neighborhood cats can come in and kill these suckers.

This weekend, I can be found in my HAZMAT suit cleaning my garage.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


I have my own business that I run on the side of my main job. My main job has me slaving for a very large financial institution In my "spare" time I fix "regular" computers here in my neck of the woods.

I typically have good customers that I can help and who kind of keep the code of being nice to their computers. I have another customer though who isn't.

This post is about understanding and communication.

I had a customer show up at my doorstep last night saying that she was having problems with her computer. She also has other problems. The biggest problem is that she lacks the understanding of how to properly operate her computer as well as lacks the descriptive ability to really be able to tell me what the problem is. When I talk to her on the phone she tells me that her computer "shuts down" when she's trying to download a song. When I go to her house to see, I find that it is her crappy Internet connection [four letter word; starts with Juno] has dropped. Then she tells me that she was trying to "download" games from the internet, only to later reveal that they are downloading fine...she just thinks that they are going to install themselves automatically. Or she says that her computer's sound does not work...only to find out that she does get sound; she just can't hear the cheesy MIDI music from lame Hallmark websites

Life is about communication. It is harder when we don't have the words or understanding for how to communicate with each other. It is vitally important in a marriage though. It takes work. We also have to work at it in other relationships as well. We must educate ourselves in the words that best describe and then figure out how to appropriately use them.

Are our relationships suffering discord because we are not being understood, or because we might be giving out wrong impressions or ideas? We should seek be understood, but we should also seek to understand others. That's the most important step to making all of this stuff in life work.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Deconstruction At Work

This is a difficult post to write.

It is difficult for a number of reasons. The first reason is that it is a very large issue. The second reason is that this impacts a large part of my life. The third reason is that it impacts the life of my family.

Over the last year or so I have been hanging on to every ounce of faith that I hoped to have. I have been through this before and have been able to bounce back for one reason or another. Many hours have gone into study, prayer, conversation, thought, introspection...etc. This time just seems harder than the rest.

Anyone who read the last few entries in my former blog The Reluctant Disciple has read about many of the issues that I had been struggling with in regard to being a Christian. Things have not really changed at all, in fact I feel like they are even worse. You see, if I only seek answers and comfort from Christian sources then my need for explanation has been somewhat satisfied, but it still seems so incomplete. So then I also find myself trying to look at the other side of things and other questions arise. The Christian sources seem to have conflicting opinions or seem to use intellectual and interpretational gymnastics. The secular sources point out issues that the Christian sources dodge.

Now, I realize that from the Christian perspective that most of what I am dealing with ultimately boils down to an issue of faith. However, I have to echo a friend's statement that the biblical definition of "the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things unseen" does not offer much help. My argument is that the "substance" is immaterial and subject to perception, and what is the proof of evidence for something that cannot be seen? If something cannot be seen then how can it be evidenced? Now I understand that there are cases, like with wind, where the wind itself cannot be seen but it can be felt. A weather vain can also be used to track the direction of the wind which can more tangibly confirm its presence.

To make a long story short I have decided that it is just not intellectually allowable for me to call myself a Christian any longer. I do still believe that there is a god out there somewhere, probably, but I do not believe that any of the world religions has done proper justice in capturing what "god" is. Although I don't like labels, I would probably put myself somewhere between either a Theistic Agnostic, or a Deist.

The point to this is not to try and get a dialog going with others. If that happens then we can talk, but the point is that over this last weekend I finally "came out of the closet" about it with my wife, who said that she has had suspicions about it for some time.

Now, my wife and I have never really had what I would consider to be a spiritual aspect to our relationship. Sure we would occasionally pray about things or for people, and we would pray for our meals and both agree to read "Christian" books to our kids and stuff, but when it came to actually discussing our views on various theological issues we were usually in disagreement and that usually felt very difficult for me. It was difficult for me because I felt like we needed to be playing on the same team but we were engaging in different sports. I also felt like it was an urgent matter for me to try and win her over to many of my ideas; and I know that it wasn't in attempts to try and appease my ego or need for affirmation, but because I wanted her to think right. Now that I no longer think the same way I finally feel like the pressure is off but now we have a different set of issues to deal with.

I love my wife and I know that she loves me. She is a good woman who has a lot of character, integrity and dedication. She is a great mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt. She really makes my home life enjoyable. I like to spend time with her.

While we both share very similar points on morality and how to live our lives, the major chasm now for her is the destination of my soul. I can understand what that means because I spent about 15 years there. I often felt the same way.

Issues of faith and religion, or lack thereof, can be very sticky in marriage. I know though, that we are both committed to each other and our children.

I don't know if this is just another swing down the low road for me or if this is a more permanent thing, but it feels like it's more permanent.

15 years ago I would have never imagined being here. 10 years ago still no imagination. 5 years ago I probably put my left foot in, took my left foot out, put my left foot in and shook it all about. But I did the Hokey Pokey and got turned around. Now here I am.

No secret sins. No desire to do this in just following after the lusts of my flesh. Just simply here because of my mind. A mind that decided I needed to explore what was outside of the Matrix.

I may continue posts of this nature over at The Reluctant Disciple but I am going to keep doing this blog along the same vain as it has been to this point.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, May 4, 2007

Anti-Bullying Bills

As many people have heard by now, the issues surrounding many anti-bullying bills have a lot of the media talking.

I am not going to get into all of the details surrounding this, but I will cast my 2 cents worth on the issue based on what I've put together listening to the reports.

I think that there are 2 groups here that need to come to terms with a few things. One of the groups is primarily those who are a part of the "gay community." The other group is made up of those who are overly vocal about their objections to them. So what would I say to each side?

To those in the Gay community I would say: There are certain things that any group of people need to understand about their culture and the portion of the world that they live in. You guys are no exception. Our country is in the beginning stages of starting to deal with issues like this as a whole. For a few hundred years it has been culturally taboo for individuals to live "deviant" lifestyles. Change never comes without tension, but I also believe that it is a foolish mindset to believe that if you get loud enough voices to yell long enough that it is going to change legislation to allow you all of the rights that you desire. Whether I agree or disagree with your lifestyle you need to be understanding of the fact that freedom is not without consequence. If you want the freedom to be gay and be open about it, then you need to also understand the fact that the larger majority of this American society does not understand that. The larger majority of our society is made up of either Judeo-Christian or pseudo-Judeo-Christian minded people. If you are going to continue to choose to live in this country you are going to have to live with that. Try to be a little more discreet in your expressions.

To those who are opposed to the anti-bullying legislature I would say: Is it OK to bully others? I understand that much of these proposals are symbolism over substance, but let's think about it for a little bit. Whenever the government tries to step in on your religious beliefs I bet you wish that there were some kind of anti-bullying legislation that you had in your corner besides the American Center for Law and Justice. You don't like the fact that your rights to bear arms and smoke are being taken away from you. You don't like the fact that you can be sued for your expressions. My beef with you is that there are certain things that both you AND the homosexuals need to keep within your own groups.

If you want to stand up and preach out against gays and lesbians, don't do it in the public square. If you want to preach it from your pulpits or engage in a civil conversation with individuals in private then you are entitled to that. What you are NOT entitled to though are your picket signs and your disregard for human worth, gay or straight, and violating my right to not have to hear about your nonsense on the news.

I know that I'm oversimplifying the issue a bit here but I'm just tired of both the Liberals and the Conservatives who are blowing this whole thing way out of proportion.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, May 3, 2007

America is going down the toilet

The day after the massacre at Virginia Tech one of Iowa's finest students decided to wear a ski mask to class at the University of Iowa. Well he wasn't actually from Iowa, he is an Illinois boy.

He decides to show up to class wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and a black ski mask. The students expressed concern but he would not remove it. He was then finally removed from class where he was later seen removing the hood from the sweatshirt, but still not taking the mask off.

He then later appeared before the student senate demanding an apology for the way that he was treated.

Now I am sure that it is not just me, but I don't think that anyone owes this schmuck any kind of apology accept the following:

"We apologize that you are unable to comply with the requests of those around you. We apologize that you are seemingly insensitive to other recent events at another college here in America. We apologize that you apparently didn't receive the proper previous education concerning common sense as it relates to actions. We mostly apologize though that we even have to issue an apology for issues like this since our nation has seemingly castrated itself of any self-survival instincts as it pertains to the rooting out of problematic people like yourself."

We're at a sick place. Thieves can sue those whose houses they break into. Criminals can prosecute the governments who punish them for wrongdoing.

My guess is that America as we know it will no longer exist in another 100 years. We don't have the intestinal fortitude to just be mean when we need to anymore.

Labels: , , , ,