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Me, opinionated?

Some time ago I was having dinner with a friend from work. He asked me if I had an opinion about a situation. I said that I did. I also said that if he asked, I would probably always have an opinion.

I live me life pretty much constantly judging and evaluating. While I may sinfully do this at times, much of the time, I am just trying to learn what is good and right about a given subject. I almost always have an answer that I am working form. I try not to be too attached to my view especially if it is one that is relatively new or out-of-step with my community.

In addition, I am always looking for my opinion to be reformed by scripture, the facts, experience, history, teachers, etc. I wouldn't want to be a fool who arbitrarily picks a position and arrogantly refuses to change. However, I don't want to be the aimless fool living the unexamined life.

I picture my kids someday quoting one of their dad's favorite proverbs as they are arguing for their point. "If I didn't think I was right, I would change my mind."

All this to say, please, comment. I love a good discussion.

What's SOL mean?

I was sitting at a table with one of our VPs and a couple of consultants when one consultant said, regarding a customer's situation, "Then they're SOL."

Now, I was raised in a some what sheltered environment, but at 30 I've heard just about everything. Considering some of the movies I watch, I think I have seen and heard just about everything, but apparently "SOL" has somehow slipped through the cracks.

So, I asked, "What's SOL mean?" There was an awkward silence, and everyone looked at each other as if to say, "No, you first." I don't know if the hesitation was because of the corporate setting or because no one wanted to offend my virgin ears. As the highest ranking officer, the VP explained that it meant they our out of luck and said that this was the difference between state schools and Baylor.

I couldn't believe it. Once again, I accidently reinforced my image as the nice guy who probably doesn't even know how to sin. It is almost as if people like to think of me that way. Is it possible for people to see me as a real human being who like them is desperate for the grace that only comes through Christ.

There are definitely times when I wish I had the radical-change testimony, but I am thankful that God has saved me from some of the consequences of sin that I did not commit merely because of my sheltered upbringing and often self-righteous obedience. For this I am all the more in need of God's grace.

Dethroning human arrogance with an evolutionist

The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the cosmos.

- Stephen Jay Gould

My first reaction to this quote was to notice the irony. An evolutionist concerned about the dethronement of human arrogance was a combination I had not considered. In thinking about Gould, I decided to read a little. In my internet research, I happened on this article regarding NOMA. NOMA stands for non-overlapping magisteria. That is non-overlapping teachers. It is Gould's reflection on a statement by John Paul II's address Truth Cannot Contradict Truth in which he supports the view of neo-darwinian evolution and the idea that science and religion are two distinct domains and that the church only has authority to teach in religion.

I must say that I was surprised by Gould's grace. So-called Christians could learn by reading a Jewish agnostic on how to deal with opposing or nearly-opposing views. While I suspect Gould might have had a less tender tone with creationists in my own country, I suspect an honest inquirer would have received a generous welcome.

In many ways, Gould's tone reminds me of on of my favorite professors, Dr. Charles MacKenzie. Dr. MacKenzie is of Gould's generation, and it makes me wonder if there were be any room for real dialog if I ever reach the academy.

If I had the opportunity to talk with Gould about this quote, I think my first point would be that while one might think that the history of science would have dethroned man, it has actually had two effects in the opposite direction. In one sense, human life is regarded very lowly. Abortion, abuse, rampant materialism in the face of world poverty, high rates of suicide and depression all show the low estate of man's appraisal of himself. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine a society more dedicated to the human individual than western 21st century culture. Francis Sheaffer gives great insight into how this came about in his Escape from Reason. Ironically, NOMA is in some sense a product of the fundamental problem in modern philosophy.

I would say that in the above quote, Gould is delving into the magesterium that he most often back away from. He was commenting on religion. For it is only in light of God, that man can be both properly humiliated and glorified as a creature created in the image of God. And, it is only in the light of God that creation can truly be seen for what it is.

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Spring 2006 Blog-a-thon

Having just read the beginning of a series on self-discipline at stevepavlina.com, I have resolved to embark upon a 26-day blog-a-thon. I have at least 40 ideas for entries lying around. This doesn't even count the movies I haven't entered. I am guessing in the next 26 days I will run into a few more ideas.

Mark Miller recently mentioned the phenomenon where you have such a backlog on which to blog that you write nothing at all. I too have expereinced this. Courtney and my mom have mentioned that this violates my "if it's worth doing well, it's worth doing poorly," proverb.

Now that this is out, I'll start on my first post.

Blog reading for newbies

If you are interested in keeping up with the blog for the next 26 days, I would suggest using RSS. RSS is a way for people to publish articles from their website. It is a good way to keep up with a lot of different websites that so that you don't have to go to the site to just check for new items. An RSS reader checks for you and keeps up with whether or not you have read the article and provides a consistent interface for reading articles.

Wikipedia's entry on RSS is a good place to start learning about RSS, or you can just Google RSS. You can download readers for free and keep up with all manner of news from my fairly irrelevant ramblings to world news from CNN. There are also web RSS readers like Google Reader or BlogLines.

While your looking at Web 2.0 technology, take a look at del.icio.us (my bookmarks are at http://del.icio.us/midnighthour and Technorati.

Time for bed.

Progress is a Vector

For the non-mathematicians out there, a vector has magnitude and direction. A scalar has only a magnitude. This sounds like some sort of quote. I have never heard it, so I guess I will take credit for it. If you are trying to get somewhere, and you just run fast, you may actually be delaying your arrival. Why? Because you may not be going in the right direction.

Sometimes, at least at my job, progress is mistakenly interpreted as a scalar. This means that it as long as you are running fast, things are OK. The problem is that later you find out that all you have been doing by going fast is putting more distance between you and your destination. Now, don't think that we are complete fools at PDI, we do seek to set out in the right direction. In fact, we look at the map, compass, stars, and everything thing a good explorer uses to set our course. The only problem is that sometimes, we leave our instruments at the dock. We don't really check them until we run aground somewhere and borrow the instruments that are available.

This is why Extreme Programming's concept of steering is so important. You check your course against the correct course (the customer's needs) and adjust along the way. The more often you do this, more efficiently you get to your destination because all your work is heading in the right direction.

Sometimes it is better to go slowly and more precisely in the right direction. Otherwise you can spend more time recovering from your speed in the wrong direction.

Redeemer Community Church

I just thought I would point anyone looking for a good church in the East St.Louis area to Redeemer Community Church.

My good friend Rusty Mosley is the pastor there, and I am sure that the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ will be both preached and lived.

They are starting services on Feb. 27th, and I am excitedly waiting to see what God will do in the comming months.

Two Kinds of Stupid




SillyOpening

Originally uploaded by bheathr.

There are (at least) two kinds of stupidity that run rampant in this family. Stupid might sound harsh, but just wait.

First there is Courtney. She has some mechanical difficulties. This picture demonstrates one of the problems this creates. This is not the first time Courtney has demonstrated there there are some usability issues with zip-lock bags. Another problem this deficiency causes is with making paper airplanes for our boys. She has to keep a model to copy for every flyer.

Secondly, there is me. Sunday, I was walking back from Sunday school, and noticed that I didn't have my keys. I asked Courtney if she had them. She didn't, so I went to check if I had left them in the van. As I walked up to the it, I noticed a sound. I had left the car running the entire time. That way it was warm for the church-going theives.

You can bet there are more stories where these came from. It is good to have a sense of humor.

Bono At Prayer Breakfast

I thought this was pretty interesting. Bono is not exactly who you would expect at Bush's prayer breakfast. I don't know exactly what strip of Christian Bono is, but think I could have said almost everything he did. I am not sure I agree with his politics, but I agree with most of what he said. I am not sure if I think it is right to tax and give the money to others. I definitely prefer voluntary giving. I suppose you could argue that the government could be a type of Robin Hood hero. However, it is awfully hard to see it that way.

I especially liked what he said about justice vs. charity.

Is this normal?

I just got finished watching my two older son's (4 and 2.75) repeatedly taking turns slugging each other in the back and saying, "Ouch." Boys really are different than girls.

This makes me think of a conversation I heard recently. I heard Soren crying. Then I heard Gage say that he was sorry. Soren said that he did not forgive him. Gage said, "You have to." There was about a two-second pause. Then Gage said, "Do you want to play shoot-down (a game where you just try to knock each other down)?" Soren says, "Sure." Then they happily start to run around and knock each other down.

I am sure there are great things about having girls, but I sure enjoy the quick recovery of the hearts of boys.

Updated: Shortly after I wrote this I came across this blog entry from the JollyBlogger.