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Showing posts from 2007

Limbs, Limbs, Everywhere

Today was the first official day of finals, but they were all postponed, due to a massive ice storm that swept through all last night and most of today. We knew it was getting bad last night when we started hearing limbs being torn off of trees due to the ice accumulation. Weather reports said we had about an inch of ice accumulate. The power was out for most of the day, and limbs are still falling from trees. Some students had limbs crash into their cars; luckily, nobody on campus was hurt (at least not to my knowledge). The entire town looks like a war zone. All I could think of all day was that this place looks like a post-apocalyptic wasteland - straight from the movies. It's eerie. I walk along the streets and see limbs, limbs, everywhere. I hear limbs falling around me. I am afraid to walk under trees, because they are all sagging dangerously low to the ground, ready to snap.

I took some pictures around campus. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get the best one yet. At the …

Philosophy and Poetry

I have just finished two remarkable books.

The first is by a neat philosopher named Mortimer Adler, called How to Think About the Great Ideas. He uses the Great Books of Western Civilization to introduce and develop topics like love, peace, justice, punishment, human nature, democracy, progress, and much, much more. I could not speed read through this book; it was simply too dense. It was a mental workout, and it did a splendid job of whetting my appetite for more.
How to Think about the Great Ideas: A

Around the same time, I finished a poetry anthology, Americans' Favorite Poems, edited by laureate Robert Pinsky. This is the first book of poetry that I've read all the way through, and, like Adler, Pinsky has definitely whetted my appetite for more.
Americans' Favorite Poems: A

Halloween Dance

The school's annual Halloween dance took place in (COLD!) barn last night. I wasn't so impressed with the dance, but there were some really funny costumes. My sister and her fiancé, David, dressed up as a cookie and the Cookie Monster, respectively. I went to the dance as the Fire Lord, along with my friend Ashlen, the Ice Queen. My roommate dressed up as Kain, a vampire character from a video game series.

Last night was also the last night of shaving for the next month. Campbell Hall takes No-shave November seriously. So, I got in one last clean shave and a haircut (after washing out all of the spiking glue).



Before



After

Life Update

Well, I haven't been very faithful in updating my blog, so I have a lot of time to make up for. I suppose I'll talk about my classes.

World Lit is still my favorite. So far we've read The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis, Symposium by Plato, The Odyssey by Homer, Medea by Euripides, Phaedrus by Plato, and The Metamorphoses by Ovid. Now we are done with the Ancient Greek and Roman ideas of love, and we are moving on to the Hebrew ideas of love. Thus, we are reading Hosea, Song of Songs, Ezekiel 16, and eventually The Epic of Gilgamesh also. I love reading this kind of stuff! It's so much better than reading through a textbook, or surviving only on lecture notes.

In Basic Philosophical Concepts, we had to read two books: Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult by DeWeese and Moreland, and Love Your God With All Your Mind by Moreland. I really wish we could have covered these concepts with a book that wasn't loaded with typical Evangelical trite answers to all of the "evil…

Check Out the Hair!

Honors Program Trip

This last weekend, some of the honors students took a trip up to Kansas City under the guise of educational advancement or something like that. Really, we just wanted to get away from school and go to the Renaissance Festival. You can view my pictures of the trip on facebook if you like. Below are some others' pictures. We first went to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and then traveled to the WWI museum (missing church - it was a Sunday). We spent the next day at the Renaissance Festival having fun (and missing school - it was a Monday). It was a blast!



Outside Buca di Beppos



At the Renaissance Festival with Lady Calhoun



I don't think I make a very convincing pirate....



This stupid art museum guy wouldn't tell me where the lavatories were.

Back in the Exercise Groove

Since I stopped working out at the Valencia YMCA (due to my movement away from the Valencia/California/Whole West Coastal area), I've felt guilty about not having a regular exercise routine. Well, it looks like I've gotten back in the groove. I've been utilizing the indoor pool here at Sterling College. Every other morning, my roommate and I get up a little early and head over to the pool for some heavy-duty swimming. I'm still trying to get some of the strokes down, but that doesn't matter so much; I'm just happy that I'm back on my track to health.

As some of you may know, I used to be quite heavier. Here is a picture of me in December of 2003 (my Sophomore year in HS):



I remained about this weight throughout the rest of my Sophomore year, and my entire Junior year. I'd half-tried different types of diets, but never stuck with them for long. After my Junior year, I decided that it was about time for me to lose weight. That summer, I lost a full 30 pound…

School trip to Denver

The mission group from Sterling College took a trip to Denver Colorado during Fall breather this year in order to work with Denver Urban Ministries, otherwise known as DenUM. The ten of us set off Friday afternoon, and returned just in time to see the sun set on Monday.



On Saturday, we cleared out an area in the city that will eventually become a playground. That night, we stopped by Buca di Beppo for some Italian food and explored some of downtown Denver.







On Sunday, we visited a mega-church with a Sterling College alumnus, and then packed food for DenUM, who provides it to people who cannot afford food. That night, we went to the Scum of the Earth Church, which is attended by a lot of homeless or otherwise "grungy" people. I thought it was a really powerful experience. Afterwards, we went to St. Mark's coffee shop to hang out with another SC alumna and some people from Scum of the Earth.





In the meantime, we stayed with a very generous family, that of president Douglas'…

Three Cheers for Pederasty!

That is, in World Literature, we finished Plato's Symposium last week. Reading through the Symposium made me wish that I knew classical Greek and that I could read it in the original language. That said, I can sense through this translation (Jowett) Plato's genius in constructing his dialogs between Socrates, et al. The pederasty issue distracted form the beautiful things the characters had to say about love, but it made for really interesting classroom discussion.
Symposium: A

SC Update

Now that I've had two full weeks of classes, let me tell you how they rank:

World Literature: Simply the best. Class (and online) discussions are exciting, even vibrant. We are tracing love through literature (currently reading the Odyssey).

Greek: Foreign languages are exciting. 'nuff said.

Foundations of Servant Leadership: It meets only once a week, but the people truly make up this class. It's filled with the honors students, and there are some truly great people in this class. We just took the Gallup strengths quiz, and I got completely different answers from when I took it two years ago. Oops.

Basic Philosophical Concepts: The only thing that saves this class is the interesting readings. So far we've covered basic logic and metaphysics. Classes are a toss-up: sometimes interesting and sometimes dull.

Introduction to the Old Testament: The book we're going through is fairly interesting (The God of Promise and the Life of Faith by Hafemann), and the lectures are alw…

My eyes! Oh! My eyes!

So I've had glasses since my Freshman year of high school. This last December, I made the leap to contact lenses. For the first month or so, they worked out great. Then, in California, my left contact started freaking out. Long story short, I didn't wear my contacts much while in California. When I came back to Kansas in May, I went directly to my eye doctor, and he gave me some antibiotic drops. I've probably pumped around 10 gallons of fluid into my eyes by now, and the problem doesn't seem to go away. Oh the frustration!

The Compleat Gentleman

Although Brad Miner did not intend it, I think he may have written one of the best books on sexual purity. The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man's Guide to Chivalry is loaded with history, wit, and lots and lots of G.K. Chesterton quotes. He gives the modern gentleman three archetypes to aspire to: the warrior, the lover, and the monk. All of these attributes are topped off with what he calls the art of sprezzatura, which speaks more to the gentleman's conduct of life than to his character.

I think every other book that dealt with this topic (at least that I saw) gave you a list of things a gentleman should do. Always walk on the side of the sidewalk closest to the road when walking with a lady. Always precede a lady when going upstairs, and let a lady precede you going downstairs. Listen to jazz music. Learn these facts. Say these things in those situations.

Brad Miner does none of this. He shows you what a true gentleman is at heart - let the specifics work themselves out - b…

College Update

Well, I'm moved in! My room mate is nice, my dorm would be nicer if it had air conditioning, and my classes all seem fun! I'm currently working with a couple of professors on campus to formulate an interdisciplinary major, geared towards the great books. It looks like it will work out nicely.

In World Literature, we are reading such works as Plato, the Odyssey, Dante's Vita Nuova, Medea, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and Metamorphoses. We will be following the theme of love throughout all of these works. In fact, our first reading was C.S. Lewis - The Four Loves. I found it a delightful little read - very insightful.

I decided to join the symphony band and start taking piano lessons. I'm rather more excited about the latter. However, we do have an interesting band mix this year - half of our performers are saxophones! We'll have a sweet sound.

I also finished Sam Harris's Letter to a Christian Nation a little over a week ago. I found the book troubling. Many of the thing…

Sense and Sensibility

I'm taking a break from Austen temporarily. After Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, I'm reading Melville's Moby-dick. Afterwards, I will probably start on Mansfield Park or Northanger Abbey. In any case, I'm saving Emma for last, because I have a feeling I will like it the most. Sense and Sensibility was good, but I didn't like it as well as I liked Pride and Prejudice. It was her first work, and I think it shows. Don't get me wrong - it's still a great book. I mean, come on - it's a classic for crying out loud!

Sense and Sensibility: B

Moving a Piano to Texas

A couple of weeks ago, I learned that I could be of assistance to my Uncle Zachary - he is a pianist down in Austin, Texas, where he just graduated from UT in Piano Performance. He needed a piano moved down to his apartment so he could practice tuning and playing.

Luckily, my grandfather (his dad) has a spare piano in the basement of the church he presides over in Hutchinson. So on Monday, I went to said church, along with my mom and Uncle Josh (Zach's brother). Together, we worked taking that piano apart as much as we could, and then got a couple more guys to help us move it, a table, and some chairs up the stairs and into the back of my truck. It was a tight fit!

I then set off, at about 4:00, for Austin. The trip was a challenging one; I battled fatigue, delirium, and stale pretzels - lots of stale pretzels. At about 2:00am on Tuesday I arrived at my Uncle's apartment.

On Wednesday, my Uncle and his friend took me to a fancy sushi restaurant. Then, we went to a park and enjoye…

Like Econ 101, but Interesting

Another economics book finished! Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science by Charles Wheelan lays out basic economic principles in an interesting manner. Although the author comes from the Chicago school of economics, he gives many different perspectives on the topics. Some of the topics I've heard discussed before: how to save endangered animals from poachers, adverse selection (relating to used cars and insurance companies), &c. Some of the things the author covered are considered more boring and weren't discussed in The Undercover Economist or Freakonomics, such as how the Fed operates and index funds (although I found these things very helpful). My favorite chapters dealt with globalization and development economics. The book didn't become very thought-provoking until the epilogue, where Wheelan asks several questions about what the world will be like in 2050. The one that I found most interesting was this:

How many minutes of work will a loaf of bread cost? .…

Jane Austen on Leithart.com

Dr. Leithart has been posting some pretty interesting things about Jane Austen and her books. Since I'm going through Austen's books at the moment, they caught my attention in a special way. Here are the recent ones he has done:

Christian Politeness
Jane Austen and the Presbyterians
Austen and the Stuarts
Ideology of the Picturesque
Darcy and Elizabeth
Austen the Abolitionist?
Austen the Romantic?

Dr. Leithart also has a book (which I will probably read someday) on Austen's works, titled Miniatures and Morals: The Christian Novels of Jane Austen

On Bullshit, and What's the Matter With Kansas?

I took a trip to the Hutchinson library the other day and picked out a few books. I read the first one as soon as I got home. On Bullshit, by Harry G. Frankfurt, is a very small book. It is about the same size as my hand, and spans a mere 67 pages. The author, who happens to be Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Princeton University, makes some very astute observations regarding the subject mentioned in the title. At times, the book is hilarious; other times, the author made me put the book down and ponder what he said; still other things made me sad for the current state of some of today's politics and radio personalities. His conclusion is fascinating:

The contemporary proliferation of bullshit also has deeper sources, in various forms of skepticism which deny that we can have any reliable access to an objective reality, and which therefore reject the possibility of knowing how things truly are. These "antirealist" doctrines undermine confidence in the value of disinte…

Sterling College

For those who are interested, here are my classes for the Fall of 2007 at Sterling College:

NT Greek I
Introduction to the Old Testament
Basic Philosophical Concepts
Public Speaking
Introduction to Computers
World Literature I
Foundations of Servant Leadership

This comes out to 17 credit hours for the semester. I'm expecting it to be much more laid-back than my first semester at The Master's College, because I was taking 18 credit hours there, which included saxophone practice (which takes about 12 hours per week, even though it is counted as 1 credit hour). On top of all of this, I had work study to deal with. Needless to say, I was almost overwhelmed my Freshman year.

I talked to my academic adviser, Dr. Lederle, today. I am very privileged to have him as an adviser, because he seems a very sensible man. My options for college are abounding: either I can

1) double or triple major in economics, religion and philosophy, and/or literature,

2) make up an interdisciplinary major, combining…

An Optimistic and Inspiring Look at Poverty

I have been thinking a lot about world poverty lately, and even more so since I started reading Jeffrey Sachs's truly wonderful book, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time. Sachs starts out by giving a general overview of the world's condition. He has some pretty heavy things to say about all of the needless dying from fully treatable diseases. Common themes throughout the book:

We can eliminate extreme poverty by 2025

Traditional arguments about why poor countries are poor (e.g. corrupt leadership) are too simplistic.

The UN programs are the means for achieving economic progress.

Poor countries are in a poverty trap that they cannot escape without foreign aid.

The health situations in sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia are inexcusable and are keys to explaining why these areas cannot escape poverty.

The Bush administration, and the Western world, generally is neglecting it's responsibility and making terrible decisions.

A little under a third of the book is d…

What To Look For In A Wife

I've been compiling a list of desirable traits to look for in a wife. Hopefully, I won't use this list as a cut-and-dried litmus test (e.g. "Well, you met criteria #1-32 and #34-49, but you didn't quite cut #33... sorry."). Rather, my goal is to get into the habit of thinking seriously about girls' character traits and personality. I think too often guys are too shallow in deciding whether or not a girl would make a decent wife. For example, I think many guys have these criteria:

1) The girl is cute
2) The girl gives me attention
3) The girl can make me laugh

If these three are met, the girl is determined by the guy to be a "nice girl" and a "good person" and he gives himself permission to pursue her affection. Don't get me wrong - these three things aren't bad things to look for, but if left by themselves they leave too much room for disaster.

So, I went outside the other night and though long and hard about what virtues to look for in…

Oaxaca

Well, I've returned from the great state of Oaxaca, Mexico. I made some big decisions while I was down there. God showed me that I should cease my college activity and go directly to missionary training school, after which I will probably go to Saudi Arabia to evangelize among the Muslims.

Just Kidding.

Actually, the trip was very exciting. Unlike last year, we stayed at the base every night and didn't venture out into any of the neighboring Mixteco villages. Rather, we ministered from the nearby market town of Tlaxiaco. My team, consisting of 7 guys, dug a water well in the middle of a cornfield for a lady named Margarita. The work was good, and the guys I was working with had a terrific attitude about it. It was also really cool getting to know some of the youth group from Westbrook Baptist Church, who I traveled with.

During testimony night, one of the kids, D.L., had prepared a 6-page testimony that pleasantly surprised me. In it, he outlined how he thought Christians were to…

Some Miscellany

New House

Finally we are moved into the new house near Hutchinson. In addition, we have a buyer for the old house. Things are working out nicely. I'll post pictures sometime soon.

The Fourth of July

I was very excited to be home for the 4th of July celebrations this year. Sterling prides itself in its holiday festivities for this event. Unfortunately, a series of complicated events moved the festivities to the weekend. The fireworks were supposed to be on the evening of the fourth, but torrents of rain rebuked that idea. Luckily, I have friends who are prepared to spend hundreds of dollars on their own personal stash and invite me to partake in the explosions thereof. My dad came down from Wichita, so I got to spend a couple of days with

A Serrated Edge: A Brief Defense of Biblical Satire and Trinitarian Skylarking

This short work by Douglas Wilson proved highly entertaining and moderately helpful, not only in explaining why it's right to make fun of people, but why modern evangel…

The Black Hills

I got home from the Black Hills early this morning. As far as I could tell, everybody had a blast. Bonus: I met two very awesome people - Matt and Dan. There is nothing quite like a camping expedition to get acquainted. All of the photos are on my profile on facebook, but I'll put a few of them here to give you an idea of what we did.





Here I stand in front of the beautiful rolling black hills. This is still in the first day of hiking, so I still feel as if I'm alive.





Ann ponders the meaning of life.





Our campground for the first night. Although it's dispersed camping, we stumbled upon a relatively convenient bit of forest for the number of tents we had.











At lunchtime on day #2, we took a break on the tops of these rocks and took in some great sights. We were close enough to see Harney Peak at this point.





On the morning of day #3, the remaining campers hiked out of the wilderness.





And then they stabbed me with walking sticks.





We saw a television advertisement for these new P'zon…