Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fall Fest

We had our annual Fall Festival at Old Hickory last night. It was lots of fun. I'll post a little more about it on my other blog, but I was proud of my outfit.

It is funny when you know people are staring at you, but are trying not to appear like they're staring at you. Many of the people at church genuinely could not figure out who I was (as in "Who is in that costume?"). Harriet, who was working at the main desk, glared at me from the moment I got out of my car. It wasn't until Carolina spoke that she figured out who we were. I had a good time!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Use Your Allusion: Brobdingnagians

In Swift's Gulliver's Travels, book II, Gulliver encounters a race of enormous giants called Brobdingnagians. The kingdom of the Brobdingnagians is peaceful and orderly and has no known enemies, but the king of Brobdingnag keeps a standing army anyway. Supposedly, the kingdom and government are established on principles of reason and logic.

The giants are used in Gulliver's story to satirize the grossness and selfishness of mankind. The king of Brobdingnag even refers to Gulliver's human race as "the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth".

"Brobdingnagian" can be used as an adjective to describe something or someone huge or colossal (such as the cost of our present war in Iraq).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


From the time I got to Harding, I always said, "Why do they have all these other restaurants on campus? Taco Bell would be perfect here, but I bet it will never happen."

Then for 4 years, I lived on the west side of town, and the closest Taco Bell was all the way over on the east side of town. And what happens as soon as I move away? BAM! Taco Bell. Now in Harding's Student Center. Lucky.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

Police were called to a day care where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.

Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He's all right now.

The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference.

The butcher backed up into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.

To write with a broken pencil is pointless.

When fish are in schools they sometimes take debate.

The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

A thief fell and broke his leg in wet cement. He became a hardened criminal.

Thieves who steal corn from a garden could be charged with stalking.

We'll never run out of math teachers because they always multiply.

When the smog lifts in Los Angeles, U.C.L.A.

The math professor went crazy with the blackboard. He did a number on it.

The professor discovered that her theory of earthquakes was on shaky ground.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Back from Arkansas

Carolina and I went to Arkansas this last weekend. It was the closest thing we've had to a vacation since December, and it was much needed. I went there to perform a wedding for some of our friends from the church in Rose Bud. As far as I can tell, everything went smoothly.

In between wedding events, we made it a point to see as many people as we could. It's amazing how many friends you can make in one place. We made the rounds at Harding's campus, and went to as many people's houses as we had time to. Some we managed to see out in public, but only briefly. And of course, there were several people we didn't get to see. Hopefully, none of them will take it personally. There are only so many hours in a weekend.

I think the highlight of the weekend for both of us was getting to go to church again in Rose Bud. We have really missed everyone there. It was great to see that Phil Thompson is doing a good job there. (Not that I really doubted he would) The church is still strong and friendly. Attendance was good, so we got to see almost everyone. I think the most important people we got to see were Wayne and Ruby Davis. Wayne has Lou Gehrigs' disease. When I got to Rose Bud, Ruby's health was already not so good, but Wayne was pretty lively. He's a true cowboy. At this time, the disease has caused his muscles to deteriorate to the point that he can barely take a few steps, and has to use a wheelchair most of the time. He's kept an amazing attitude, and has been truly inspiring. Before we left Rose Bud, he asked me if I would do his funeral, and we talked about some of the details. In all likelihood, the next time I go to Arkansas may be for his funeral. He's ready to go whenever God calls him.

We went and had lunch with a crowd of Rose Bud people at the Rambler, and I sat next to Wayne. It was very special to me, because I'm aware that every time I see him might really be the last time. I really care a lot for him and his whole family, and I'm glad I had another opportunity to tell him so. He always lets me know that he thinks of Carolina and I like his children. In fact, most of the Rose Bud church views us that way. They take a lot of ownership in who we are, and they have every right to.

It was a visit that we had really needed to make. Things are going well for us in Nashville, and things are going well for our loved ones back in Arkansas. I see all of this and I know again that God is good.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Turned in my keys

Well, I turned in my keys today and had the final inspection on the house we'd been living in by the church building (the green one on Jones St.). I guess that's some kind of landmark or something. As soon as our new house is presentable enough, I'll put up some pictures. I'm glad to say that my landlord, who I've known for much of my life, continued to be the kind of stand-up individual I had always thought he was. It's nice when people don't let you down.

Use Your Allusion: Xanthippe

Xanthippe (Ξανθίππη in Greek) was the name of Socrates' wife. Though we don't know that many bits of factual information about her, there are quite a few stories about her. She was apparently much younger than her husband, and she had a reputation for having a very sharp tongue. Supposedly she was the only person to ever beat Socrates in a discussion.

One story goes that after having a very heated quarrel, she emptied the contents of a chamber pot on his head and he responded, "After thunder, there generally falls rain". Later in life, apparently Socrates remarried, but in reflecting on Xanthippe, he said, "Marry or marry not; in any case, you'll regret it."

Quite a few works have alluded to Xanthippe, including Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. If you want to refer to a woman as a nagging wife with a sharp tongue, you can say she follows the ways of Xanthippe.

I think it's best put by Henry Fielding in his book The History of Tom Jones, where he describes a shrewish woman named Mrs. Partridge:
She was, besides, a profest follower of that noble sect founded by Xantippe of old; by means of which she became more formidable in the school than her husband; for, to confess the truth, he was never master there, or anywhere else, in her presence.
On a personal note, while I certainly do not consider my wife a Xanthippe, one of the things I liked most about her was her ability to outwit me and to keep me in my place, and she's much funnier than I am. People tend to flatter ministers too much, and we probably like it too much. She's very good at keeping me in my place as I need it.

This is one of those allusions that people might appreciate unless they understand it. You could tell a woman "You remind me of Xanthippe; the wife of Socrates himself!" She might be flattered if she doesn't know any better. I found this entry at the online Urban Dictionary where some girl is rather proud to have an "amazing" name after a woman in ancient Greece.

It's kind of like a few years back when Reebok named one of their womens' shoes after a mythical creature, the Incubus, because the name sounded cool. Then some women started to protest when they learned that Incubus was actually a demon who would go around lying on women in their sleep in order to rape and impregnate them. Hence, it is very important that if you're going to use an allusion, you had better know to whom or to what you're alluding!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Carpet Ball

I recently went on a retreat with my youth group to Camp Christian in Burns, TN. It was a really great weekend. The kids were well-behaved and participated really well. I had good help from the parents, and therefore we also had great food to eat and snack on. I also discovered a new game while I was there called Carpet Ball.

The game is like a dumbed down version of pool. You have a long wooden table kind of like a trough with a carpet-coated interior. (Apparently, it looks best when you use superbad 1970's carpet like what is pictured) You use one set of pool balls (solids on one end, stripes on the other). At each end of the table is a big pocket where the balls can be knocked into.

Each person sets up his/her balls in whatever way they desire, then the two players take turns pushing the pool cue ball towards their opponents' balls. The goal is to knock the other balls in without the cue ball going into the pocket. If the cue ball goes into the pocket, then whatever balls were knocked in that particular turn are taken back out and placed again on the table wherever the player desires within the lined-off area. The game is over when one person knocks all of the other person's balls into the pocket.

It doesn't look like it'd be that hard to build one. It was a lot of fun!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I've been trying for a couple of years to get someone to give me a good definition of what an "evangelical" Christian is. I can't as of yet discern whether I am one or not. One friend told me that basically anyone who would fit in with James Dobson's audience could probably consider themselves evangelical. Then again, it seems that many who use this label tend to downplay the importance of baptism and the Lord's Supper, which makes me feel a good bit distanced from the bunch. But I think on social issues I fit in pretty well with them. Is being evangelical more about one's theology or sociology? Can you get more than two or three "evangelicals" to agree on a strict definition of what an "evangelical" is?

So again, how should one define "evangelical"? And if any of you do consider yourselves evangelical, please tell me what it is about you that makes you one.

Just curious.

Maker of the Universe

I'm a huge Phil Keaggy fan. He's one of the most talented guitar players alive, he's a brilliant songwriter, and he's a passionate follower of Christ. Much of his music I like is instrumental acoustic guitar stuff. But many of his songs have lyrics, and he has a very Paul McCartney-ish voice that I enjoy.

I was listening to a live DVD of him that I have, and I noticed a song I hadn't payed much attention to before called Maker of the Universe. The basic idea is that when Christ died, he died by elements which he himself had created. To me, this really deepens the idea that God gave his only Son for us, providing our perfect sacrifice. God not only gave the sacrifice, but he even provided the means by which his son suffered and died.

These words really made me feel a deeper appreciation for what God has done for me, and I thought I would share the lyrics with you here.
The Maker of the universe,
As Man for man was made a curse.
The claims of Law which He had made,
Unto the uttermost He paid.
His holy fingers made the bough,
Which grew the thorns that crowned His brow.
The nails that pierced His hands were mined
In secret places He designed.

He made the forest whence there sprung
The tree on which His body hung.
He died upon a cross of wood,
Yet made the hill on which it stood.
The sky that darkened o'er His head,
By Him above the earth was spread.
The sun that hid from Him it's face
By His decree was poised in space.

The spear which spilled His precious blood
Was tempered in the fires of God.
The grave in which His form was laid
Was hewn in rocks His hands had made.

The throne on which He now appears
Was His for everlasting years.
But a new glory crowns His brow
And every knee to Him shall bow.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Use Your Allusion #6: The Boulder (or Labor) of Sisyphus

This is one of my favorite allusions. In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a king of Corinth who committed a variety of misdeeds on earth, and was relegated to punishment in Tartarus.
His punishment was that day after day, he was compelled to push a large boulder up a steep hill. Every time, as soon as he got it to the top, it rolled down again. Thus, he had to begin pushing it up again and his labor never ended. So if you are stuck in some sort of labor that seems both endless and fruitless, you can refer to it as a labor (or boulder) of Sisyphus, or as a Sisyphean task.

I think this particular allusion can be useful in churches of Christ as we discuss the idea of "restoring" the early church. When I took John Mark Hicks for Restoration Theology, the point was made that we can never really "restore" the early church. Restoring should be thought of as an ongoing process toward which we are always working. I personally disagreed with that, and I argued that while we might not be able to attain moral perfection, to restore the doctrines and practices of the early church is something I believe is somewhat attainable. I stated that the Restoration Movement is in fact a boulder of Sisyphus if it's not possible to ever reach what we're working towards.

In the end, I think that the selection of a better metaphor (at Dr. Hicks' prudent suggestion) helped to clarify. Education seems to be a better comparison. While we can never have exhaustive knowledge of all things, we can learn and mature in a very real sense, and we can stand on the shoulders of those who've gone before us. Because of doctrinal intricacies and cultural differences, it might not be possible for us to be a facsimile of the early church, but we can--and I think we have--made good strides in returning to basic Christianity.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I'm a hard listener to please. I can pick apart most anything I hear, and I seldom like newer music because I prefer the older original music that inspired it. That aside, I've recently found a band that I can finally get excited about other than Radiohead. (I may post some thoughts about their upcoming CD later) As much as I love Radiohead, there new stuff always leaves me wishing they could go back to their OK Computer days. I miss some of their catchier stuff. The new stuff is good in its own way, but OK Computer was a landmark album, and I don't think they've topped "Paranoid Android" since then.

When I was on a Mexico mission trip this summer, a video came on for a band called Muse that I hadn't seen or heard before, and I really loved it. It's a song called Knights of Cydonia. It's kind of like spaghetti western meets kung fu meets space lasers. The video is pretty entertaining, but the song was really well written with lots of dynamics.

So I bought their latest CD on iTunes called Black Holes and Revelations. It is just not often enough that I've bought a CD by a recent artist where I like listening to the whole thing. Sure I love Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, because every song on their albums is usually worth hearing. But now, too many artists have gotten away with releasing one catchy song with junk for the rest of the CD. That's been the blessing of iTunes with the ability to only get the good ones.

But this time I splurged, and have been happy with it. I've been listening to the CD in the car back and forth from wherever I've been driving, and it continues to be good. They've been accused of being a Radiohead rip off, and the lead singer does have a very Thom Yorke-like voice. But they have some really original sounding songs, and not every song sounds alike by any means. Nearly all of them have lots of variation within the structure of the songs. If you like Radiohead, you might want to try Muse.

The other good thing about them is that they tour around the US some, from what I can tell. I've wanted to see Radiohead for years now, and they almost never come around here.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A couple of bits of my weird sense of humor

Please feel free to disregard this post. This is entirely for my own sake. There were a couple of passages I came across last week that struck me in a way that they hadn't before.

For one, Don quoted from I Corinthians 9:27 where Paul says he "buffets" his body (ASV). I got to thinking that I also like to buffet my body. Particularly at Cici's Pizza and at the New China Buffet.

With the teens, I studied from Luke 15, which has 3 parables about something being lost, then found again. First a sheep, then a coin, then the prodigal son. What if the first and third were more closely connected? When the son comes home, the master orders the servants to kill and prepare the fatted calf. What if he had ordered them to prepare a fatted sheep instead, which also happened to be the sheep that had originally been lost? It would be a bummer for the sheep.