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Monday, January 29, 2007

half-life

isilme'amin,

in a few months, i'll go back to Fresno, my home. for now, and for the past three school years, i've had two halves of a life instead of one whole life. i know i've blogged and spoken of this before; i'll assume you know what i mean.

life is alot different here.
  • i have to answer to professors instead of parents
  • i live with peers instead of siblings
  • i have to get up in the morning
  • i have less friends
  • the friends i do have here, aren't as close
  • i depend on others for rides when i go out places
  • i sing and play less
  • i write songs here (i've only written one at home)
  • less play, more work
  • less peace, more stress
  • i'm more oriented by my life's content than by my personality
    • (not sure how else to describe it; i'm less me here)
at first, i hesitate to say life here isn't as good. that's not quite true; it would be better to say i enjoy life at home more. that's not to say i don't enjoy it here; i do, mostly. and sometimes i don't enjoy life at home. but still, overall, i'd easily pick life at home over life here. each has its good and bad aspects and experiences; life goes up and down no matter which half i'm living.

one thing that makes home better, is the knowledge that i'll always come back to it. here, it seems like everything i do is temporary. i can start (or allow) a new friendship, but i know it's going to be over before long. i can get a job, but only for a few months. i can let Dave put me on the adult worship team rotation, but i might as well have him ask me about it each time, since the total will only be about 3 times more... and then i'll be off the rotation for good.

but when i'm visiting at home, i can start something knowing that even though i might leave it, i'll be coming back to it eventually.

one thing home has that VU doesn't, is family. ironic that it took my leaving for VU (as well as one or two other major events/influences) to improve my relationships with them. kind of like that irony where you don't know how much something matters to you until you lose it. i have friends both here and there, but i only have family there.

one thing home lacks, though, is the learning that happens here. i'm in class most weekdays, soaking stuff in. alot of the facts i absorb will eventually leak back out, but i learn more than just facts. for example, i'm not just learning things, i'm learning how to learn things. i'm being taught what to think, in some cases, but above that i'm learning how to think. that doesn't happen as much at home, unless you count learning about people and myself through experiences, as opposed to learning about theories and methods through words.

~ ~ ~

my life is sort of like my friendship with you. right now, it (our friendship) exists through the limited mediums of internet and telephone contact. as long as we're separated by these 1,162 miles, it's like we're living half of a friendship.

just as the disconnect between me and my home life hinders my ability to be me, the distance between you and me hinders our ability to be us. why? because, as i've said in other posts, we are whole persons; i am more than a mind with which you communicate, and more, even, than a heart with which you empathize.

i was thinking today as i walked back from Dogterom class, how vulnerable i am as a whole person, to my physical environment. smelling someone's perfume could bring back memories of some significant relationship in my past; thus what happens to my body happens to me as a whole. if it starts raining, i'm put in a better mood, and that affects everything i do that day. how often am i vulnerable to the moods of other people? how often am i spiritually attacked? not nearly as often as i'm affected by my physical environment.

being friends across this distance, attenuates who we are (not 'you and i,' but 'us').

just as my life here is different and not necessarily worse (at least at first glance), my friendship with you is different and not necessarily worse. our conversations would be very different, i think, if we only talked with each other in person. in fact, our friendship would be very different today if we had never talked online, but only face-to-face. we may have missed out on some very significant interactions, had we always lived next door to each other.

but it's just as obvious to me that we're missing out on things, as is. there's a great deal that our friendship is lacking, in comparison to my friendships with Caleb and KT and Evan and my little sister Leah. Leah and i rarely have conversations, but we have a good relationship. what does it consist of?? well, when i come home from VU she yells my name and pounces on me, and doesn't let go until she has to. she asks me to play Disney songs whenever my iTunes is running, and sometimes i watch parts of her movies with her. i've also watched movies with KT and Caleb and Evan, and though i love conversing with those three, i could go for weeks without a serious conversation; i'd be mostly content to just be with them.

it's a strange way of missing someone, i guess, but i resent the circumstances that keep us apart, even as i experience & express great gratitude for what we do have. and might i be so bold as to say: for all your misgivings about physical closeness in general, and for all your talk of 'nightmares' and 'cooties' (lol), i don't think you'd complain much about living close by, if that were somehow the case.

i should get back to my homework... i hope you're not as tired today as i am.
=) or if so, i hope you find more nap-time than i do.

less than three
me

Saturday, January 27, 2007

being a Christian is easy

this is Korey from the band Skillet, answering some questions for a review online. the topic is 'best friends;' Kim is Korey's bestie.

Q: How has Kim helped you in your walk with God?

Korey: The best thing about Kim is she doesn’t just talk about Christ and have wise counsel, but her life exemplifies what it means to be a radical Christian. The main thing about her that continues to challenge me is her simplified faith. If God says it, she does it, regardless of the consequences

...a what kind of Christian???

what other kind is there?!

this just shows what the world has become since Christ left. back then, Christians had to use secret codes and signs to communicate in public. they could lose their homes, their lives, their children's lives, if they proclaimed Christ as LORD. Constantine did an incredible thing when he made Christianity legal, and Theodosius something incredible again when he made Christianity the only legal religion of the Roman empire.

incredible, and devastating. i think one of the reasons living faithfully is so difficult for me, is that 'Christianity' is so easy.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

epistewhatta?

in the Western/sci-fi TV series Firefly, there's an evil barbarian race known as the Reavers. legend says these bloodthirsty creatures were once normal men, but were transformed by some unspeakably horrific experience that somehow drove them insane... so insane, that in their new form they would butcher themselves first, before launching their campaigns of terror against the universe.

what kind of horrific experience could do that to a man?

according to the legend, these once-men flew their starships to the very ends of the universe. as they looked out into the infinite black of nothingness, the paradoxical anti-existence of the void simply blew their minds. unable to comprehend the concept of a limitless limit to reality, their psyches simply imploded.

~ ~ ~

the series is completely fictional, and even within the story itself, the legend about the Reavers' origin isn't accurate. (i won't spoil it for you. go rent the movie Serenity, the counterpart to the series.) but, it reveals something true about human nature. i think so, anyway.

some of you know (from an older post) that questions, for me, very frequently beget more questions. that's certainly the case with epistemology.

Q: how do you know that your computer keyboard exists?

"well, i can feel it. i can hit someone over the head with it, and hear them yelp."

sounds great. (and funny! 'yelp' is a funny word...) but here's the thing, what if you only think your keyboard is making him yelp? or what if he's acting? what if what you think is a keyboard, is actually not? or what if that substance that it's comprised of, doesn't really exist?

"that's stupid. then why do i feel like it does?"

because your body is designed to interpret its experiences in a certain way. and since all you have is your own flawed interpretation of a supposed reality, you can never prove with absolute logical certainty (to anyone else, or even yourself!) that any of your interpretation bears any resemblance whatsoever (let alone perfect congruity) to the reality that you suppose is there.

=)

"...uhm. but... but what if a million people also believe it's there?"

see, now you're using the right word. believe. that's different than knowing. when you believe something, you don't know it with perfect certainty, but you're convinced of it. i think everyone would be convinced of the reality of your keyboard, if you simply demonstrated for them.

let's change the question, then.

Q
: why do you believe that your computer keyboard exists?

ah... much better. let's look at the most obvious reason.

A: because the nerve-endings in your fingers are transmitting electrical signals to your brain, which has been hard-coded (that is, you knew how to do this since birth) to interpret such signals as evidence of particularities in physical reality with which you're coming in contact.

solid so far. of course, the brain is very capable of misinterpretation, especially during dreams. so this can't be trusted fully, or taken on its own as conclusive evidence that the keyboard exists. but it's helpful. let's call it the sensory standard of epistemological apprehension. or, if you're lazy like me but not a big-word-lover like me, you can call it "my body tells my brain that this is real, and that's how i know what i know about this keyboard."

tiny problem there, of course... once your body tells your brain, how does your brain tell you? and what are you?!

we'll leave that one alone for now, though. ¬_¬ sheesh...

let's look at another answer.

A: because the people around me agree that the keyboard exists.

this is an interesting one. first of all, how are you convinced that those people around you exist? and secondly, you have no idea what epistemological standards they are using to convince themselves of the keyboard's existence. what if they're using bad standards? why are you convinced that they're all correct?

and yet we trust in this social standard of epistemological apprehension all the time. policemen get eyewitnesses to a theft, and if all the testimonies agree, then the criminal's plea of innocence don't help him very much.

how about another?

A: because the keyboard appears to be following all the laws of physics. if it were flying around and talking, i would tend to disbelieve it was actually a computer keyboard; but since it's acting in the same way as other inanimate objects are supposed to (responding to my touch, not moving unless it's moved by something), i am convinced it's real.

also very interesting... we admit that it appears to be acting within a set of norms, and it makes sense logically (another standard! we have a double-yolker here!) that a keyboard that didn't actually exist probably wouldn't be bound by the laws of physics, which we also believe in, by the way. we don't actually know that such laws exist.

let's look at a new standard. and, we'll need a new question for this one.

Q: why do you believe that God exists?
A: because the Bible begins with, "in the beginning, God..."

this one is kind of cool. the Bible itself doesn't try to prove the Bible is true... it simply assumes you'll accept it as true when you begin reading. it doesn't give a logical argument for the pre-existence of God, nor does it appeal to other authorities to confirm what it says about creation. it just says it, point-blank.

this is the Biblical standard, by the way, or maybe the evangelical standard. it isn't the Christian standard, because some branches of Christianity give Tradition (e.g., the writings of the early church fathers) an epistemological value equal to the Scriptures.

~ ~ ~

now, there are other standards we could consider. but i just wanted to explain the concept of epistemological standards, rather than list them all exhaustively. i couldn't do that if i tried, anyway.

the point is, all of us make use of multiple standards of epistemological apprehension every day, without even thinking about it. contrary to what you may have heard, you aren't really taking a 'leap of faith' when you sit in your chair and expect it to hold you up. it's pretty well-supported by your standards of knowing, that the chair is there, ready to catch you when you fall (on purpose).

here's the new question.

Q: where did these standards come from???

lol i love it... so fun, to think about this stuff. how did we come up with these standards?

well, i personally think we were designed with the sensory one. seems to me like the social one was on purpose, as well, albeit indirectly, perhaps. the Biblical one... well, that one exists because we need some kind of transcendental truth, some epistemological standard that's beyond ourselves, which we need in order to appeal to the existence of some thing that's beyond ourselves. or some One Who's beyond. or whatever. if we're going to try finding evidence of something that cannot be apprehended by conventional standards, then we have to appeal to some standard that goes beyond the limitations of our logic. that is, when we say the Bible is true, we have no evidence for such a proposition. but after that proposition is accepted, a myriad of other truths can be derived from it, using (for the most part) just a single standard as the foundation. transcendants are cool that way.

but all lines of questioning must eventually come to the point where we admit, "i have no evidence to support that."

where did you get that hat?
at the store.
prove it.
here's the receipt.
how do you know the receipt's not wrong?
i was there when i bought it.
prove it.
check the security cameras.
what if the film was tampered with?
then ask the clerk.
he might lie.
look man, you're just going to have to trust me.

there's the transcendent... if asked how Blue convinced him, Red has to admit, "well, i don't really have a reason, other than that i wanted to. i mean, there was evidence, but in the end it came down to what i wanted to believe."

this whole post, i've been setting something up. here it is.

just as the once-men couldn't explore the far corners of space (reality) without facing and dealing with its incomprehensible limits, we must eventually come to the boundaries set for us by human limitations. we must learn to accept the finite scope of our epistemological faculties... or else go insane.

actually, this whole post is setting up for another post. but that's for another day, and a separate blog entirely.

thanks for reading.

EDIT: here's a link to a post that cooperates-with / follows what you've just read.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

if i were[n't] me

tonight, after watching four movies about ocelots, two clips of peeps exploding in microwaves, and a video about how great youtube is... i wondered to myself, "would it solve anything if i robbed myself of my internet connection?"

and i answered, "nope... that'd be treating the symptom. you're just lazy."

procrastinators are interesting people. they are kind of like daredevils... good ones. (by good, i mean talented.) they can take risks others can't, and emerge victorious. like the time i wrote a fifteen-page paper in 5 hours. or the times i've read entire books on the day their papers were due. or the time i was supposed to preach a sermon in the morning, and i stayed up all night preparing it. (got an A on that, btw.)

the thing is, i guess i'm proud of my ability to work efficiently, but i still wish i couldn't do it. i think i would be less lazy (a little) if fifteen-page papers took me 15 hours to complete.

this is what an average 24-hr period looks like, for me.
(i got the 'homework' average this way: [hours in one week] divided by [7]. most of the other averages were taken this way as well.)
  • e-mail: 30 minutes
  • myspace: 30 minutes
  • electronic games: 2 hours
  • class-time: 2 hours
  • homework: 1 hour
  • meal-time: 1 hour
  • watching tv/movie[s]: 1 hour
  • 'net surfing/chatting: 2 hours
  • organizing things: 30 minutes
  • sleep: 9 hours
hmm... that still leaves 4.5 hours unaccounted for... o.O weird.

anyway, my point is that i spend more time playing than working. now, it may not seem like much, but keep in mind, the above estimates are on an average day. it's much more common that i do no homework at all on most days, and then do several hours of it in one day, just like it's more common that i watch several hours of movies in one day, and then ignore the TV for the rest of the week.

furthermore: i give my best time to playing, and my worst time to working. just like Cain and Abel gave the best of what they had to God, i give the best of what i have to myself. and by 'myself' i mean of course my own comfort/pleasure, as i mentioned in the post previous to this.

but if i weren't who i actually am-- that is, if i were who i wish i was-- it would be the other way around. my best time would go to work-type stuff, and then whatever was left over would be for rest & entertainment.

kind of hard to make sharp distinctions between work and play/pleasure. oftentimes i enjoy my theology homework, and my class-time. chatting with peeps sometimes amounts to hard work, e-mail is important for my success as a student, and organization is just something i enjoy (weird personality trait, imho). i do a better job in classes, and in life overall, when my world is organized.

nonetheless: i'm not as disciplined or responsible as i'd like to be. of course, i'm not willing to discipline myself as much as is necessary to get to that point, but that doesn't mean i'm completely complacent or apathetic.

this post was going to be longer, but i think that's enough.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Romanian logic

my first roomfriend, the a-may-zing Bill Deans, used to accuse me of using Romanian logic to confound his silliest arguments. my last name is Romanian, but trust me, i have no idea how that happened. *shrug* i bring it up because one of my new profs this semester is Romanian. Crinisor Stefan. his first name apparently means 'little lily.' =D wow.

so today, Romanian logic tells me this: i blog much less often when i have 1) nothing to do, or 2) too much to do.

this takes me back to an earlier thought, i think... i'm not sure whether i blogged it or not. it's a self-critique, and it goes like this: judging by the way i spend my time on a day-do-day basis, my highest priority in life is my own comfort and pleasure.

i arrange my desk the way i like; i turn down the lights, close the door, turn on the music. 'what do i feel like doing?' i ask myself, and if the answer is 'sleeping,' then i'll sleep, even if i have homework. and if the answer is 'i'm thirsty,' i scrounge for coins and head down to the vending machines to get one of those iced teas. and if i feel like blogging, i blog. "if i feel like it" seems to be the prerequisite for almost everything i do.

i find that critique-worthy at best, and pathetic at worst.

the solution, of course, is to discipline myself (this definitely goes back to an earlier post) by regularly engaging in activities which i feel like avoiding. i wonder how much chance there is of such a thing happening. but then i think to myself, 'it's not about chance. it's about choice.' and that's probably true. but that means i have to give up my highest priority.

and then i have to ask myself this Q: what would i be giving it up for?