Thursday, April 22, 2010

Damn, this thing's still here?

Whatever happened to web rot? Maybe I should mothball this blog and start afresh...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Something wayward of truth

The elections are coming up in just over a week and I'm trying to decide who/what I want to support.

The various state and local ballot measures are straightforward, since they are specific actions one either votes for or against, and all text of the proposed laws is also given in the ballet info booklet they sent me. The majority of them I'll be voting against because they mostly want to spend money on things. In general I think the government spends too much money on things already, so only if it's really necessary should more money be spent.

There are a handful of local political positions to be voted for--school boards, various citiy officials, and so on. These are meaningful elections, but I'm so ignorant of local politics that the choice for me may as well be random.

The same goes for the state, albeit to a slightly lesser degree. I very rarely see clearly how state issues directly affect my life, so voting for those officials is almost equally meaningless.

Finally, one gets to the federal elections, and, while I don't think this is what our founding fathers envisioned, my level of knowledge about how the government's actions affect me is most acute. Defense spending directly affects my job, national security idologies directly affect my ability to move and act in our society, and federal programs with national scope directly affect the taxes I pay.

So in order to make an informed vote, I've been attempting to research the candidates as best I can to figure out what they're about. Naturally I've been getting emails from my friends with political satire and the like, but those are good for little more than a chuckle, if that. Unfortunately, despite my earnest research, I'm discovering a disturbing state of mind emerging.

No matter who I read about or what they're saying, I'm overwhelemed with despair. I don't believe I can trust anything the candidates say about themselves or each other. I don't believe that things are going to improve regardless of who's elected. I don't understand enough about most of the issues to even have much of a position on them myself.

The more I think about it, the more it feels like an exercise in futility. Things are just too complicated and I'm just too disinterested. I can't seem to overcome the feeling that I really don't care who's in office, and that it really doesn't matter, because in the end it never has, and never will, depend on me in any way, shape, or form. What can I do but live my life within the constraints of my circumstances and do the best I can to live some approximation of I'd like to call a life?

In the end God is responsible for those in power, since none can have power but what He gives them or allows them to have. Am I being irresponsible for thinking I can maybe just leave the whole matter in His hands and wash my own of it? We supposedly live in an age of enlightenment and unprecedented empowerment as members of our society. Gone, for the most part, are the tyrants and empires of the ancient world, but to me here and now it doesn't seem too different than what I imagine any citizen of them experienced. 99.9% of everything around me is entirely out of my control, and even the 0.1% I'm implicitly claiming control over is tenuous at best.

But perhaps I'm just being lazy. I suppose I'm insinuating that I merely want a world that somehow works "properly" without my having to think about it. Such a utopia would certainly dissolve the concerns I expressed above. But I'm not going to get that utopia in a fallen world. Instead I will get a world driven by greed and self-interest, dominated by those whose desire is to dominate, unconcerned about the most vital of my petty interests unless they're shared by the majority. Personally, I want nothing of it other than to be left alone.

Maybe I should make that my universal ideology: I'll vote for whoever will do the best job of leaving me alone and ensuring that others leave me alone. I'll call it the Isolationist Platform. I'll vote against anyone who wants to take my money/freedom/etc. or tell me what I can/can't do with it. I'll vote for anyone who can ensure that the government and other people can't do the same. Unfortunately that'll never work.

So in the end (since I'm tired of writing now) I typed a lot of words without really getting anywhere. I still need to figure out who to vote for, or else give in to apathy and not vote at all. The biggest problem with indifference, however, is that I would be relinquishing my right to complain about the state of things since I chose not to affect them.

Maybe I'll just vote for myself, except that I'm not old enough to hold office in D.C. just yet...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's in the cards

Aye aye aye. I said I'd keep up on this and I just keep forgetting about it instead.

Well, here's a quick update, stream of consciousness style.

School has started up again. Took my first midterm this morning and couldn't finish one of the problems because I couldn't remember the definition of the complex arc-tangent. Alas. I stayed home sick with a cold most of last week but I at least got to enjoy a spell of extra-warm weather in my home rather than gazing at it wistfully from a climate-controlled building full of stale air. I'd like to start dating again, but I just can't seem to find anyone I really want to go out with. Oddly, I'm not as unhappy about this predicament as one might think. My ex-girlfriend snubbed an invitation to celebrate my birthday at a local restaurant. Never mind the fact that I only invited people I genuinely enjoy spending time with. Her response was essentially "I can't, only because you're my ex-boyfriend and I'm dating someone else now." Well, she can kiss my ass. That was over a year ago. Get over yourself already. I've let my hair grow out and it's causing me to have zits in it. Gross. But I want to shock my folks so I have to keep it until I see them. I'll be happy to get rid of it, although I actually think I look better like this. Life is full of contradictions. Tomorrow will be my "long" day: 11 hours plus a bible study in the evening. I'm planning a month-long vacation to Japan next summer, God willing. Still have to get in touch with my host family to see when they'll be available. I'm thinking of flying business class so I can use my laptop on the whole flight. My new cellphone is pretty cool. No, I didn't get an iPhone. I won't ever be shackled by the Cult of Steve. But my phone can play NES games because I've hacked it. Hooray for customization. I desperately want to start writing music again, but I have no time. I also want to take piano lessons, but I have no time. I'm getting to be in pretty good shape thanks to DDR and semi-regular exercise at the gym. I'm enjoying it at least, even if no one else is. This weekend I have to research the candidates for the election, both state and federal, as well as the ballot measures. I'm taking voting seriously this year, even though politics is painful to me. I was reading about the Constitution on Wikipedia today, and it almost made me choke up. What a shameful thing our nation has become. We need another revolution to restore liberty to our corrupt police state. Question is how to do it without violence, and how to get everyone to see how much ground we've lost since 2001.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Oh, and by the way...

...the "blond" part is COMPLETELY optional...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Is it REALLY too much to ask...

...for a cute blond Christian girl who's into snowboarding, Japan, and electronic music?

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Rant of a Closet Ascetic?

I hope no one bothers to read this post.

Asceticism, or the abstinence from various worldly pleasures, has a long history in the Church. Today I think it's regarded as more of a novelty than anything, although I occassionally hear a sermon on fasting from time to time. In any case, it centers on the idea that we can hone our spiritual senses by depriving our physical senses by various degrees.

Had I the choice, I would take it to the extreme and do away with the body completely. I'm frequently struck by a distinct revulsion of having to reside in a body. It's slow, impudent, and disgusting. It's slow because I'm constantly limited by its inability to accomplish the motions which I desire from it. This can be remedied to an extent by tedious and frustrating practice. It's impudent in that it presumes to command me through constant desires which can only be put off for a time at best. Would that I could do away with desire, but more on that later. Finally, it's disgusting because it is messy and foul. It takes in pleasant substances and emits putrid ones. It generates unpleasant odors which require repeated tending lest they become noxious. It is susceptible to an endless array of poisons and diseases and decay mechanisms.

There is great beauty in math and physics and the inner workings of the universe. The precision and harmony of it all astounds me every time I think about it. There is great beauty and order in music, even in the sometimes discordant and arhythmic stuff I listen to. There is tremendous art in the universe everywhere you look. I will even concede that there are some amazing processes at work within this corpse of mine, (and all of this points to God's genius, to be sure) but I am daily put off by its willful lusts and repugnant secretions.

How I long for the sterile incorporeality of the angels and the heavenly beings! It would be so nice to be as light the itself, pure and precise, untethered to the whims of this piece of meat I inhabit--intellect uninterrupted by peevish desire.

I really think it's desire that I'm most repulsed by. And I mean purely physical, sleep, sex, etc. I have no problems with desire for justice, or love, or approval, or God Himself. Only I constantly find that my physical desires shove their way to the front of the line, rudely supplanting any nobler desires in their insistent demands to be met. It positively evinces hatred in my heart when I consider it! I want to tear the flesh away from my soul and be rid of it forever!

But this runs against Biblical theology. Oh yes, God gave his own Son a body like mine to inhabit and suffer inside and die in in order to accomplish my salvation. When he was resurrected, he was resurrected into a body, albeit a transfigured one. (I wonder what that transfigured body is like. Does it stink when it sweats? Does it want sex? Does it hunger for food? Does it need to shit after a meal?) So my hatred of my body is a hatred of how God has made me. Well, sue me. I didn't choose this. Had I been able to know a priori what it would be like I might have politely declined.

Perhaps my diatribe has more to do with the fact I'm trapped in a fallen body than anything. The physical desires that constantly demand my attention are only so belligerent because my mortal flesh lives in constant rebellion against God, or mastry by any force. It desires to do as it wills and opposition be damned. Then the failure is mine for not having the willpower to suppress it. That idea brings me no comfort.

This probably has everything to do with Paul going round and round in Romans about doing what he doesn't want to do and not doing what he wants to do. Story of my life, and maybe yours too. But what frustrates me the most is God's apparent apathy to rectify this situation. Uncountable times I've cried out to God for freedom from or control over the desires of the flesh. Exactly zero times has this ever happened the way I needed it to. I recall reaching the conclusion when I was a teenager (regarding sex, then, but it has broader applicability now) that if desire in my members won't be mastered then it is better to cut it off. I still lean in that direction.

What more does my soul need to learn from being persistently overruled by this rotten shell? I know that I am fallen, that I am sinful. I know that I can do nothing holy of myself. I know that I must depend on God for sustenance and health and life. I know these things! Why then, must I still suffer under the duress of this detestable clay? If I can't change things, WHY THE FUCK DOESN'T GOD DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT? I've only been asking Him to for years!

I want to please God. I want holiness, and purity of thought and action. I want to be what God intended me to be BUT NOTHING CHANGES no matter what happens. All I want is clarity and peace. Is there freedom in death? Something in my soul won't let me seek that as an option, though I am tempted to find something reckless to do that I might speed myself towards death if it brings that liberation.

I'm horribly frustrated these days. I've made no progress as a person or a Christian in years. Indeed I feel like I'm even regressing, losing the profit of previous soul labor, and I don't understand why. My prayers are weak and selfish. My faith is emaciated, and only clings to the very basics. I'm no servant, except of myself. I'm not in any shape to support a wife, or raise children, or lead someone to Christ, or teach the Gospel, or even be much of a friend to anyone. I'm harsh, and critical, and pessimistic, and disappointed, and impatient, and cross. There's a smouldering anger at everything and nothing that lies just below the surface and boils forth at the slightest provocation. It's not a violent anger, just a spiteful, dolorous anger. I can feel it burning in my chest now even as I type. It makes my soul writhe and ache within me.

I barely even want to try anymore. Each day is either boredom, routine, restlessness, or all of those. I would seek God--I know I need Him desperately--but He holds even less interest for me than my smattering of half-attended-to hobbies. I'm less eager to spend time with Him than the last of my friends. Some folks are simply enraptured at the mere thought of the Lord. I struggle to even remember Him during the day. A.W. Tozer used to spend hours at a time face down, spread eagle on the floor of his office in silent worship of God. I wish ANYTHING were that captivating, let alone God Himself.

Why can't I see it? I feel like I'm somehow missing the point. I know what I believe about God and about Christ and about how it affects me, and I do believe it. That isn't for debate. What I can't grasp is why it hasn't changed me. Maybe my perceptions of what being saved is like are wrong. Maybe it doesn't change anything in this life. But that feels wrong. My friend Mabi has changed dramatically in the last 9 months as a result of a major overhaul of his faith. Meanwhile mine's hardly idling. It's hard not to be a little jealous.

I don't know what to do. I'm not expecting any miracle answers here, if anywhere. I should probably get counseling, but in the back of my head it seems like that would ultimately be a waste of time. I've never seen anything more than temporary improvements from anything I've tried, and that includes seeking God, praying, Bible study, and the like, which means the fundamental problems have never been solved. It's hard to even articulate them, although this post was largely an exercise to attempt it. But it's late now, and I do have to get out of bed tomorrow, whether I want to or not.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

The Unhappiest of Ironies

I pity you who wait with baited breath for me to post again. Joel even relies on automated means. Come to think of it, he's probably the only one who reads this blog for that very reason. Alas.

Anyway, as I sit here sipping a glass of Don Julio 1942 that my roommate gave me for Christmas (he's the excessively generous type...), I'm waiting for my icepack to finish re-freezing so I can ice my back again. I got adjusted on Friday, but I needed it again because I somehow managed to get my neck and upper back all bound up again. Fortunately my chiropractor is really cool and didn't charge me anything because it only took about 10 minutes.

See, I went snowboarding this weekend. My first time on the slopes since I blew out my knee last year. It was wonderful! I bought a new board in August after deciding I had outgrown my old one (which I'd had since high school). It's an "all-terrain" type of board, suitable for any type of snow or riding style. It's got plenty of room for me to grow in it, but not like so many potted plants.

The weather was great, the snow was great, I didn't fall over too much which was great, I stayed in a cabin mere miles from the hill which was great, I had two friends with me which was great.

There was only one part that wasn't great. Two people came up with me, both girls. I met both through my church's singles fellowship, called "20s". Sonja I've known for a couple of years. She's like an older sister in many ways. Lots of fun to hang out with. The other is from Louisiana who's over here studying Art Therapy at a small private college in SF. She's cute, but I haven't seen much of her since she first came because her class schedule is unfortunate. I really didn't know much about her before we left. Not even that she skis.

So yesterday afternoon we're up at Squaw Valley enjoying some great spring conditions. Sonja was having some trouble navigating turns on her board, so I tried to give her a lesson in the morning. She was a little flustered and embarassed, I think, but hopefully some of the things I showed her will make her riding more fun in the future. She decided to hang back after lunch and practice on the easy slopes so I went with the other girl to see some other parts of the mountain that she'd explored by herself earlier.

We were having a good time on the slopes, which aren't very crowded on a Sunday. I suggested we try heading a little further down the hill to see what was available from this other lift, so we headed over and began our descent. She was maybe 20 yards ahead of me when I saw her pop over a small ridge and disappear. In her stead I saw a cloud of snow and flying skis and poles. I approached her location (cautiously, in case there was some obstacle or something) and found her on her side, clutching her left leg.

Not good.

I stopped next to her and helped gather her things, but she wasn't that interested in them. She was in a lot of pain from whatever had happened. So I opened her bindings so she could get her feet out (which took quite a bit of strength to do gingerly) and helped her spin around so she wasn't lying head first down the hill. She said she caught her ski in a lump of snow and heard something pop in her knee. That sounded disturbingly like what happened to me.

So I stuck her skis in an X in the snow (The normal symbol for caution/injury) and raced down to get ski patrol. By the time I got back around to her they were already there and loading her into the toboggin. They told me where the clinic was and I said I'd be there as soon as I could.

To add insult to injury (pardon the pun), my CD player somehow fell out of my pocket while I was heading down to get someone's attention. So I slowly re-traced my path, but unfortunately didn't find it. It's silver and white, which isn't very conducive to finding in the snow. I did find someone's digital camera, though. So I turned that in and counted my player as a loss. Guess it's time to get a solid state player or something...

So the three of us had agreed to meet by the lockers at 3:45. It was only 3:15, but I was hoping Sonja might be inside. Sure enough, she was right there, futzing with her bindings (which I thought were a bit close together when I looked at them before). Thank God. I told her Erin was injured and we headed down to the base where the clinic was. The doctors had already looked at her but still needed to do X-rays when we got there. So sonja and I went back to the cabin and packed everything up and returned.

So here's their diagnosis: She tore her left ACL. I don't think I ever posted about it here, but that's exactly what I did last year in march at another Tahoe resort. This better not be a trend--that everyone I go skiing with injures their left ACL like I did.

Anyway, it was an ordeal but we got her home. Her mom back in Louisiana panicked and bought her a plane ticket home for TOMORROW at 6AM. Travelling is the LAST thing she should be doing right now, so I hope she doesn't go, but we'll see what happens. I gave her the contact info for the surgeon who did my knee, but her dad is some kind of medical so-and-so who knows every practicioner in their town, so for better or worse, she may end up staying back there for a while.

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