I’m in a highly procrastinating mood right now, so I’ve been updating Web pages like mad the past few days. Here’s the reason why – for the first time in a long time, I have time to think. Like I’m not behind on anything. This is a first for me for a while. Like the past 3 or 4 weeks, seriously, I haven’t had time to live. I basically don’t live, do things that living people do, but just survive. Anyway, I finished a problem set last night and now I am on time in everything. Partly because 2 of my classes had midterms, which kind of shut down work for a week also. Anyway, I have stuff do, but I’m not like frantically behind anymore. So today I got a haircut, did some leisurely things, the first time in a while. It was a great great feeling.
Anyway, my last entry was probably meaningless to almost everyone who read it, and if you didn’t read it, it’s even more boring than usual so you can probably skip it. It’s all about sports. The thing is, in my mind, there’s somewhat of a tension between sports and Christianity. Like sports is just so inherently competitive, it’s like, how can that coexist with Christianity? You know what I mean? And we all know people who get just way too competitive when it comes to sports. Like yesterday I was talking with some people about an acquaintance of ours, and he is honestly the most just good person in the world, in every way. But he’s got one weakness – basketball. He’s just maniacally competitive on the court, and it’s almost scary. Like he regularly fouls out and gets very heated during games. I know that several of you know who I’m talking about. Anyway, it’s strange, because honestly, it’s his single weakness. And that happens to a lot of guys with sports.
So, you know, Henry’s last page is all about his competitiveness, and whatever, and it’s actually related to my last entry because it’s like, sports is inherently about competition, you know? And like he said, there’s no place for competition in Christianity. So it just seems like there’s this tension there, like how they can coexist.
I’m sure they can, like Albert Shim, again, does it pretty well, and I know some people who are witnesses on the court. But there does seem to be some tension there. Anyway, professional Christian athletes kind of confuse me. So like, I think many of us admire famous Christian athletes like Kevin Johnson and David Robinson and whoever. So are they really glorifying God? We always say they are, and they play to glorify God. But how does that work exactly? Are they glorifying God because they’re an example to the public? Is that why they’re glorifying God? Or is it inherent in their sports that they’re glorifying God? I guess my question is whether the reason they glorify God is because they’re an example, I mean public. So if you were like some scrub curler, I mean, does that career glorify God? Trying to be the best curler you can be? I don’t know, it’s just confusing to me.
I think though that running is the only sport that can really glorify God. I’ve never seen Chariots of Fire, but everyone says it’s great and you know that quote that everyone says. It’s the only sport that can glorify God. I mean, even Paul mentions it, right? Running for the prize? So the only way you can be holy and an athlete is if you’re a runner. Like Nathan Nutter. Otherwise it’s just because you’re an example. I’m being a dork now, but whatever.
The thing is, Paul mentions other things too, so does that make everything he mentions holy or good? For example, he talks about war a lot, like the helmet of righteousness, the sword of truth, the (I can’t remember what the are at all so I’m just making stuff up) breastplate of something or other, the soldering iron of justice. So is like war good? Battle and all that stuff?
The way this came up is actually (to me) a really interesting story. There was this debate on rec.music.christian about a month ago about whether drinking is wrong. This debate came up because at Cornerstone, this Christian music festival, this one band was saying how never drink and then the band that came after them (first band was Three Crosses, second band Vigilantes of Love) kind of slammed him, saying how there’s no evidence in the Bible that says that drinking is wrong, although it’s cool if you want to believe that yourself.
So rec.music.christian lives for controversy and this huge debate came up, and the general consensus seems to be that drinking is OK in moderation, and as long as it is in accordance with the laws of the land (in regards to age and such). I’m pretty sure this is what most of us believe also. Anyway, the arguments for it I’m sure you’ve heard before. Like, you know, Jesus first miracle was turning water into wine, so I mean, he must have thought wine was an OK thing. Also Paul instructs Timothy to take a little wine for his heart or something. You know. And all the verses against it usually talk about drunkenness and moderation issues.
But there were some interesting issues that came up. First of all, some people claim that if you don’t drink, you can’t fully relate to certain parts of the Bible. For example, Jesus is called the new wine, and in many parts of the O.T. it talks about how the new wine and the grain abound and how that’s a good thing. So some people said if you never drink wine, you can never understand or relate to these verses, or why the people that wrote it considered it such a good thing. So it’s like you read that and you conclude, ok, so wine must be good, but it’s bad for me. So some people say you won’t understand that.
Another bolder claim was that it’s ok to get drunk. Their reasons for this stem from the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ first miracle. We can gather from that passage that since they had run out of wine, it was a time where some people are drunk, because the host says that usually people bring out the poor wine at the end when people are already drunk. Thus, since Jesus did the miracle, he’s tacitly giving permission to the goings on, including the people getting drunk, and in fact providing a way for people who are already on the verge of getting drunk drunk. Also since the host says it’s good wine some interpret that as meaning the wine is strong. Thus they conclude two things – strong alcohol is OK, and it’s ok to get drunk. All of the arguments I’ve just mentioned by the way are wrong but I found them nevertheless interesting.
OK, so I was talking with Cy Kim and Gilbert in the car on the way back from our Grad Student Hangout that one Friday night about this all, and brought up the first argument, how if we don’t have experience of drinking, we can’t fully understand the Bible, you know, fully relate to what it’s talking about. And of course that’s hogwash and Gilbert I believe brought up that war thing as a counterexample. So like, if we never go into war (and war with breastplates and swords, no less) we won’t fully be able to relate to those things that Paul talks about. You know, which is kind of true. I guess though that it’s not important that we be able to relate fully to it. That’s not really the crucial thing.
So that’s how it came up and I guess the question that remains for me is whether everything Paul mentions is good. In particular, you know, his war imagery. So does this mean war is good? I think most of us, you know, kind of view war as a necessary evil. But is it actually a good? Tell me what you think, because I have feelings but not compelling arguments. I mean if war is bad, then why does Paul encourage us to think in those terms, which are evil? He’s basically saying, look at it like a war. But is war bad? Am I just lame?
A related issue, I think, is whether the death penalty is OK. I’ve gone so far back and forth on this one it’s crazy. I literally thought about it for a week straight in high school, in preparation for my ethics class (go Bellarmine) and I don’t know. So C.S. Lewis thinks it’s OK. He says why in Mere Christianity, but I don’t think I was ever really really compelled by it. But the Pope thinks it’s wrong; there was this big deal with him and that in St. Louis when he came. Speaking of which, you know, Mark McGuire met the Pope there, and this one magazine or newspaper had this comparison of the Pope and Mark McGuire and it was pretty hilarious. You know, they’d have categories like height, weight, etc. and compare the two. The funniest was the category weaknesses. Under Mark McGuire it says “low outside corner.” Under the Pope it says “infallible.” That killed me. It was just so ludicrous, comparing those two. Anyhowzers.
Anyway, yeah, the Pope thinks it’s wrong. I don’t know. The more I think about it, the more unsettled I get. Especially after seeing Dead Man Walking. Good movie, but it’s like, all it does is raise questions, at least for me. On the one hand, it’s like, how can you take this person’s life and his possible chance for future salvation? But then, it’s like, but how is it fair that he gets that chance for future salvation when he took the same away from the 2 kids he murdered? But then, who are we to do the same? I don’t know. Like I said, C.S. Lewis has ideas about it but I can’t fully remember that. You can probably tell that I’m more comfortable with the anti death penalty side, but I’m not firm on anything. I’m sure there are compelling arguments how the death penalty is compatible with Christianity, it’s just I don’t know them. So inform me.
Anyway, I had to research the pro death penalty side in high school. There are many many arguments, some really interesting. Some are heartless. Like one goes, you know, prison overcrowding is a huge huge problem (it is a serious problem) around the nation, and it’s like, you know, they’re on death row anyway, just taking up space. Let’s just kill them and make room and save money. I mean, it’s not worded like that, but that’s the jist if you cut through all the crap. Pretty cold.
Other arguments say that by keeping inmates indefinitely on death row (they are usually there for years and years and years. It’s crazy how long they stay there. Decades.) is cruel and unusual punishment, which the Constitution disallows. Meaning, they are expecting to die, but we just extend it indefinitely and keep them in this state of tortuous unknowing waiting, which is pretty cruel. And it actually is, if you think about it. But I don’t know. Of course the pro-death penalty people’s solution then is just get it over with and kill them quickly, rather than get rid of the death penalty. Oh I should explain; in some states, they get around the death penalty by sentencing them but the governor never enforces it. So you get lots of people on death row. Which is effectively not having a death penalty.
Another argument counters the anti argument that the death penalty devalues human life. What pro death penalty people say is that actually, by having the death penalty (for appropriate crimes) we actually affirm the value of life. Because when someone murders another person, by having the death penalty, we are saying that the what that murderer took was so valuable, so precious that they deserve the most harsh punishment we can give, which is the death penalty. That is, what they took is so valuable, to reflect that requires the most severe punishment. Anything less would cheapen the value of what (s)he took. So in order to show that we value life, we need to have the death penalty. It sounds really twisted on the surface, but you can see how that kind of is.
Of course there’s this basic conflict (that’s relevant in America) about whether the death penalty actually is cruel and unusual punishment. And it’s hard to resolve that if you disagree. I will say this, though, based on what they say about the electric chair, that is definitely cruel and unusual. Yikes. Of course, in other countries, where cruel and unusual punishment is OK, that’s not a problem. I guess Urbana worship team should go there. Ouch!
Other arguments go like you need it (the death penalty) to act as a deterrent to potential murderers. Like if you have it, these people will think twice about killing someone. This kind of gets into a philosophical issue, like what the point of sentences are. If it’s to strictly punish, whether it’s to reform, or whether it’s to act as a deterrent to others. Anyway, I can’t remember the statistics but if I think that doesn’t work; the murder rates in states with and without the penalty are roughly the same, other things being equal.
So one thing about Texas is that they have no qualms about using the death penalty. It’s insane there. They are so death penalty happy. I grew up in California, so what happens here is like every time there’s a death due, it’s a fairly big deal, I mean it makes the news, there are vigils, it’s pretty rare. But it happens. Maybe a couple a year? Maybe less? It’s pretty rare in any case. So like in Texas, it’s not news at all. They execute the most people out of any state by far, like 20-30 people a year. The next highest state is like 6 a year or something. It is seriously crazy. Texas is just an interesting place. You gotta go there.
There are some other random things that I’ve found that have made me happy for no particular reason. You know those kiosks in the lobby of Gates? With the directories. I realized that what it is is just Netscape, but you don’t see the title bars on the screens. I found this out because one morning, the screen was that intro Netscape screen, like what happens at Sweet Hall before the first screen comes up. The reason that made me happy is because, I mean, the building is named after Bill Gates, but the kiosks are running Netscape, baby! Yeah!
I found out that at In N’ Out, there’s this whole code that everyone (except me) seems to know that’s not on the menu. For example, you can get it “animal style.” OK, most of you probably know this already but it was a revelation to me. You can go up there and say, I want a cheeseburger animal style and they’ll understand you! Anyway, I want to figure out how many codes there are. I don’t know how to find out.
I have also been happy because I’ve been healthy. Nearly everyone I know has been getting sick, some severely, but I’ve been totally healthy. And I realized the reason why that is is because the past 3 weeks, I’ve seen no people expect for Jieun. And of course seeing Jieun is good for anyone’s health. Even Dave I rarely see. Anyway, it’s been a reason to be thankful.
Also, I realized how much I like the NavPress studies. You know, the LifeChange book series. Our grad study on Wednesday was very good, at least for me. Just very thought provoking and challenging. It’s consistently that way, and I really appreciate that. It was especially good on Wednesday because I had missed the previous week, due to too much work, and it was just refreshing. Anyway, this is in contrast with the studies we’re using on Sundays for YAG, which suck. I mean, they just totally suck. I get very little out of them. In fact, I get nothing from them. The other week, we went through the study, and I just thought to myself, “I got nothing out of that study” so I asked a few questions at the end. My thinking was, you know, that sucked; let’s just look directly at the passage and see what we can get from it. Because you know, the Bible is always good. Just the studies suck.
Another thing that’s made me happy is the realization that I’m happy. Does this make any sense? What it is is this. It’s been a pretty tough quarter, just always really busy and always really stressful. But through it all, as tough as it’s been, there’s been this underlying happiness in my life. And that’s encouraging to me. It just makes me think that regardless of my situation, I’ll be happy, and that in turn makes me happy. The greatest thing is that I just feel so content with life. Like, I don’t really feel unsettled or unsatisfied at all; there’s this fundamental content. I mean, not with everything, but fundamentally so. It’s almost bad, because I guess as Christians we shouldn’t feel too comfortable and content in this world, huh? That’s actually something I need to work out. But obviously, being unsettled doesn’t mean not having joy. But I guess that’s hard to figure out.
Another great thing is how everyone is getting hooked up, and how everyone is going to Viennese. This also makes me quite happy. I’m actually really excited for everyone that’s going and simultaneously I feel absolutely no urge to go myself. I’m sure most of you know why I’m not going; you’ve heard by now. But what it is is that last year I had the best (literally the best – no one has ever had as good a time as I did) at Viennese. It was magical. That’s the most accurate word for it. So I can go again because it would be like, you know, it would take off some of the magic, the specialness of last year. Also it costs 1.21 jigillion dollars, which helps the decision making process some. Anyway, it’s fun to see people getting excited about it, and literally everyone is going, which is cool. The other benefit is, me and George get to go to the Arizona game, baby! Woo!