Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Death & Taxes

It has often been said that there is nothing certain in life but death and taxes. And well, it's mostly true. The vast majority get hit with one or the other every year... some unlucky people get hit with both in the same year. This year is no different for me.

I spend about 6 hours filing my taxes this year. I'm a student on a meger income, so there's no need for a tax preparer, I just usually do them myself. This year, I decided to go completely online for this process, and well, it saved me 2 hours. What really confuses me is the whole:

Write your name in line6c. If your mother's maiden name is the same and your neighbor's third cousin's sister's boyfriend's dog, check the box in line 45938b (this will not affect your taxes). Write your income less $6000.12 in line 132e. If line 12b doesn't match line 173d, then... you're screwed.

I don't mind the tax thing as I know we couldn't function as a society without them, but c'mon! Do the tax forms need to be so complex that a songwriter can't do them? (I know, songwriter... doesn't say much for the math skills, but that's beside the point.)

Doing my taxes online made it simpler and easier. I know death and taxes are the certainties in life... I just can't decide which I'd like better.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Curses! I was abducted by aliens again last night. Would that be a cool way to start a blog? I don't know; I just reckon that it would be awesome to be abducted... by extra-terrestrials that is...

I'm a pessimist today... actually I'm usually a pessimist, although I display a bright-side-of-things attitude whenever I'm around others... but even then, deep in the caverns of my mind... I'm a pessimist. For example, today in economics we had to determine effects of certain things of the ecomony. Well, I was trying to figure out whether a rise in business productivity would decrease unemployment... and then I realized... no matter what happens the economy will cycle back around to bad times... people will eventually loose their jobs... and eventually we all die.

So what does it matter? I thought about putting that on the paper. I'm just, frankly not seeing how a shifting supply-side line though the sales of capital gains is going to help me in youth ministry. First in ministry, there's no such thing as captial (money) or gains (getting more). It just won't happen on my salary. And I'm OK with that... (I am enlightened.).

People complain that the world is going down the toilet... I suppose it's true, I've never heard of anything going up the toilet... except that scary snake story I heard when I was a kid... but I digress... My proof that the "world is going downt he toilet": they got rid of the macs in this computer lab... what's the deal?... I must now suffer through the blah of a Micosoft PC that crashes every .015497513 seconds. After Baylor made its deal (read: conspiracy) with Dell, they began to phase out the macs around campus. The only survivors have been the music school, and we took a big hit last year when they changed the midi lab to Dells. What?!! Do you know how hard it is to write, mix and record music on a Dell? Anyways... I must read for my english... blog more later... so to depress you... just unloading my mind on a Monday morning.

Friday, March 24, 2006

One Nation Under God

I stepped into my cold Jeep this morning and switched on the radio for news, as I do most mornings, to listen to the happenings of this as I drove to class. The Mike Gallagher show was on; this morning's topic was the possible conviction and execution of a man in Afghanistan for converting to Christianity. It's ironic that a free-and-democratic Afghan nation would be exactly opposite of what President Bush and Prime Minister Blair intended.

Secretary of State Rice "urged" the President of Afghanistan to intervene, but the way things look, that seems highly improbable. Most conversations have shifted into whether Islam is a peaceful religion. If so, how can it be called peaceful when it executes people for converting to another religion? Others constantly remind us that Christians were once this way - during the Inquisition. I'd like to believe that Christians have move beyond this state... but I'm not so sure. Christians still advocate destruction of people and nations, not for religious views but for political ones. We don't threaten to kill people in our country, but somehow deem it appropriate in reference to another state.

Point: a democracy can still be a theocracy. When people want 'one nation under God' they can vote it into existence. And when a nation becomes a theocracy radical, errant interpretations of holy scripture can become law and cases like the one in Afghanistan become OK and the norm within the society. Our job as Christians, is not to legislate our beliefs and morals to others who are not Christians and therefore don't hold the same ones we do, but rather to live as witnesses to the changes that have taken place in our live because of Jesus the Christ.

So where should Christians stand on this issue? Prayer. I don't believe that guns and wars are going to solve this problem, in fact they haven't done anything to even lessen it. And Christians who advocate taking sucy actions are much different from those of demanding this man's execution. Matthew 5:38-48 demands a standard of peace from all those who follow The Way. A stand of nonviolence and peace is really the only to display a true relationship of the love who is Jesus.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


I like toast. It's one of my interests. I don't know what it is about that buttery goodness topped with a bit of grape or blackberry jelly. But it is scrumptious. When a day of stress and hard work ends, there often seems to be nothing that can calm my mind: except toast!!!! Yes, the inventor should be awarded with the "Greatest Invention Since Sliced Bread Award" or something. Anyways, I have two papers to work on... must go... have toast later.

Monday, March 20, 2006

A Week in Review

I took my spring break in Keystone, CO. Here's how the week went down:

Day 1 - Nausea meets Cool Games
Drive Time: 9 hours (Waco, TX to Hereford, TX). We loaded up, I took a weeks worth of clothes and about 20 books and of course Rebecca, loaded in a bus and headed accross this great state of Texas. I don't think that any other state is this massive. We played fun games involving movies and such. Although the game I wanted to try was "HEY COW!" This fun game is easily played in Texas. Here's how you play: you lower you window and as you pass a herd of cattle, one person yells out, "HEY COW!!!" How ever many cows turn to look in his/her direction, that's how many points he/she gets. Sounds cool, huh? Oh, yeah today, I also got extremely car sick and nauseas.

Day 2 - Dramamine is My Friend
Drive Time: 9 hours (Hereford, Tx to Keystone, CO). We slept in a basement of someone's house. Nice people, but no heater in the dungeon. Today's trip was much better, after the discovery of Dramamine. I figured out how it works too - it puts you to sleep so you can't be nauseas. Also I made a startling discovery (actually something I already knew, but was just reminded of), people outside of Texas, or the south rather, are rude. Now dont' take this personally, I realize that this is a generalization and all generalizations are in fact false due to their exceptions, but overall people are rude to each other outside Texas. Maybe it's just because I'm used to the over-friendliness of Texans and I've become spoiled, but I am astonished when we crossed the border at how people can be so rude just the other side of the state line.

Day 3 - God's Glory Shouts His Majesty
Colorado is beautiful. The mountains are gorgeous. There is no way that God doesn't exist. Not only the creation of such beautiful things, but our ability to enjoy them is not random. I skiied for the first time today. I do not know how really to do it... also there were "blizzard-like conditions" when the weather said there would only be flurries (they sound so cute - those darn flurries). Also I managed to run in to the only wall on a bunny slope. I landed in the shovels they used to clear away the snow. Also my ski boots are killing me... they're too tight I think. Maybe it will be better tomorrow.

Day 4 - Baby McGruff meets Star Trek
Skiing is like elongating your feet, making them slick, and then sliding down a mountain. No wonder I can't do it!!!!!!!!!! There are things we each do well. Skiing is not one of them for me. I just wasn't there when God passed out the skiing ability (I must have been in the bathroom or something). I did get bigger ski boots, so that did help! But they still hurt your shins like nothing else. Still I found amusment: in the condo's guest book was written, "Love from Robbie, Nicole, Kai & Baby McGruff." I still don't know quite why this is so funny, but who in the world would name their child Baby McGruff, I mean do they want their kid to get beat up on the playground? Also I found a common connection with a good friend of mine: Star Trek: The Next Generation. I know I'm a nerd. But it was a show I grew up on, in my defense. Good acting and good story lines - not that cheesy for those who haven't seen it as the old show. Anyways, much fun and laughter today.

Day 5 - Me and Rebecca
We wrote a few songs today... I really like one of them. It's based on Matthew 5:38-48. The title is from Bonhoffer's "No Rusty Swords" - I'll post it later. Our group took a picture on the top of the mountain this afternoon. Otherwise just a day of relaxtion. It was beautiful.

Day 6 - Back to Texas
Drive Time: 17 hours 28 minutes (Keystone, CO to Waco, TX). I read a bit of Bloesch's Last Things, and also slept quite a bit. We also got hotel discount coupon guides and found the funny in them. One hotel in Waco adveristed that their minutes from all Waco attractions. My question - where are you in Waco that you're NOT minutes from all Waco attractions(3). I was so ready to get back into Texas, where people are nice. There was actually a noticeable difference when we got back into the Lone Star State. I was never so happy to the Waco Skyline gleaming in the night-light. It's great to be back! I now get to rest from my vacation (a vacation from my vacation?)!

Day 7 - Audrey Hepburn rocks my face off!
I like classic movies; I started liking them in High School when we researched and presented on the history of American film making. Some of my favorites are Harvey, A Night in Casablanca, My Favorite Wife (1940), and Talk of the Town. Well, today we canceled all activited for our youth, and so I went to Hastings and bought a few Audrey Hepburn movies. Wow! Now only is Audrey like super-beautiful, but she's a great actress. If you have time check out Charade and Wait Until Dark; Breakfast at Tiffany's and My Fair Lady are also great. It was wet and muggy outside today, so I pretty much just stayed in and watched Hepburn movies. A perfect end to an wonderful week.

For some reason my last post, posted three times, oh well.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Ski Trippin' I Go

I'm off to Keystone, CO for some skiing and relaxing. Be back in a week.

Ski Trippin' I Go

I'm off to Keystone, CO for some skiing and relaxing. Be back in a week.

Ski Trippin' I Go

I'm off to Keystone, CO for some skiing and relaxing. Be back in a week.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Blind Students Must Pass Driver's Ed

Logic isn't always a part of the package when it comes to people who make rules. Chicago schools are requiring blind students to pass a driver's ed course in order to graduate. "Visually impaired sophomores in Chicago schools are required to pass a written rules-of-the-road exam in order to graduate — a rule they say takes time away from subjects they might actually use," an AP article reported.

My question... what the heck were these officials thinking? It's illogical and absurd to have a requirement like this. Why don't people, myself often included, think before we do things? To read the full article click here.

For Mac Lovers...

For those who love all things mac...

this is absolutely hilarious. Will Microsoft take over the ipod? if so, what would it look like? If you have not seen the light and are still addicted to Microsoft, well, you'll see the funny in it too! Have a laugh, click here.

Close Encounters?

Yesterday, scientists annouced that gysers had sprang from Saturn's moon Enceladus, meaning that under all that ice - there is water. Water, scientists say, is the one major component necessary for all life. So? Is there life in outer space? I'm not talking about the little green men from the X-Files, but ocean and plant life, nothing necessarily intelligent, although intelligent life would be really cool.

I do not have a theological problem with extra-terrestrail life, based on my reading of the creation accounts (Gen. 1&2). I believe God made everything and all his creation delcares his majesty. But how would knowing there's life on other planets, and within our solar system, change our views in relation to one another and God? As a whole, I'm just wondering how Christians would react to such a discovery. Either way, it's put to Christians to be Christ's ambassadors, or represenatives, to the rest of the world. So how would followers of the Way respond? Just a question, what do you think?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Somewhat Evangelical

I am SOMEWHAT EVANGELICAL scoring 100 points in a quiz. I'm not quite sure what to make of that. I do not consider myself to be a dockers-wearing, homeschool promoting, anti-gay union advocating, Republican. But I do watch Fox News! I do not subscribe to a 'rapture' theory nor do I send my money to Benny Hinn. Yet, I am still SOMEWHAT EVANGELICAL. What do you score?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Remember the Alico!

Living in Jerusalem on the Brazos has so many perks. One of which is constantly hearing Wacoans citing the city's many claims to fame. Here are a few:

1) The ALICO Building in downtown Waco was once the tallest building west of the Mississippi.

2) Comedian Steve Martin spent his formative years (0-6) in Waco.

3) President Bush's ranch is about a 15 minute drive from where I am sitting now.

5) Waco is home to such rock stars as the David Crowder*Band and Ted Nugent.

6) Elvis used to party in Waco during his Ft. Hood days.

7) In Waco, people like to play with elephants, and then get on national news when they get hurt because of it.

8) And while most don't care to admit it, the Branch Davidian compound stormed by the ATF agents (lead by gladiator Janet Reno) in April 1993 is Waco best known incident. If you mention you're in Waco, folks never fail to respond, "Isn't that where those nuts from the cult were blown up by the nuts from the government?"

Thus, the mighty city of Waco is well known and envied, though not quite to the extent of L.A. or N.Y. But we are W. So, if you're wild about Waco, come join the fun, and you can hear about Steve Martin's formative years too.

P.S. I've set comments to allow anyone to comment, even though you don't have a blooger ID, so just select ANONYMOUS to submit your comment; just please put your name on the comment so I know who you are.

Friday, March 03, 2006

"I... am enlightened."

Just a few things I've recently learned:

1. Most people would rather be shot in the face by the vice president of these United States, than listen to Cher in another one of her "farewell" tours. If you want to change my mind, click here.

2. Knowledge is power. It's funny how when you learn about something, and your view often changes. Case in point: the hole in the ozone layer of the atmosphere. As it turns out, there is no gigantic hole that is caused by my 2001 Jeep Cherokee Sport. I no longer will feel guilty as I pump fuming gasoline into the gussler I call my car, except when it comes to my bank account. Anyway, this propaganda is the result of what happens when scientists don't stick to science and merge into the political realm. This feeding of disinformation would not be around if scientists stuck to science and politicians stuck to politics.

As it turns out, there is a hole over Antarctica, but it is a natural one. It occurs only about four months out of the year when the sun takes a direct angle at the southern polar region. True, the hole when it occurs does increase - sometimes, other years it is smaller. Another claim, that environmentalists and politicians make is that it has been expaning since its creation in the '70 with the increase in use of fossil fuel. Well, true prior to the 1970's we had no evidence of a hole, but we didn't have the technology to detect them to see if there was one until the 70's. Coincidence? Also, if it's as bad as we've all been told, why isn't there any sign of a hole about the North Pole? In fact, ozone amounts have increased over some years - a shift of ozone between latitudes. Even products which are known to cause damage (i.e., CFC's) are naturally occuring on the earth.

The Point: It's not the scientists who have done the research and studied the facts that come to the conclusion that my SUV is the cause of all things evil. Since science is something I generally don't study, I was inclined to believe what others said concerning science, ozone, etc. Now don't get me wrong... I DO think that God made the earth so things are interconnected with one another. Therefore people do damage the earth. But the extreme view that all things on the earth will parish in fire and water because I use too much paper is just plain bogus. It is not the serious scientists that makes these claims, it is those armed with very little information making sensationalist claims and flying off the handle.

Much is the same in Christianity (my field of study). Scholars are some of the most humblist people I know, click here for more. Rather it is those will little information that make outrageous claims, completely unsubstantiated by the facts. Two cases: Women in the church and the Book of Revelation. Women have always had significant roles in the Church including pastoral roles, even in NT times. And the Book of Revelation is not a crystal ball through which we can see the future; rather is the a pastoral letter using the Apocalyptic genre to encourage Christians not to assimilate into the Roman imperial culture. Two other hot issues, these involving Christians pushing for legislation: homosexuality and creation. FACT: Jesus never addressed the issue of homosexuality. Yes, it is discussed in the NT and it is an important issue, but Jesus did not talk about it. However, many Christians first argument is that Jesus said it was wrong... sorry, but if one makes claims about what Jesus said, let's make sure he actually said it. Also the Bible teaches that it is not the job of Christians to make desicions on the moral choices of others outside the Church: 1 CORINTHIANS 5:12. And concering creationism: most scholars do not hold to the fundamentalist position of strict literal interpretation of Genesis 1&2. Rather, they recognize the origins of the traditions and the social contexts of the original accounts of creation. I believe, after much study and research, that the writers of the creation accounts turned traditional creation stories on their heads, proclaiming that YHWH was creator of all things. They did this using a means their audiences would have understood - the creation accounts in the Baal and Marduk cults. I do believe that God created everything, but not that the Genesis accounts are literal, nor were they intended by their writers to be. Many have said that people turn liberal when they study and go to college. But I am not liberal; I am enlightened.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Charles H. Talbert Is My Home-Dog!

There is something about learning at the feet of a great scholar. I have had Charles H. Talbert twice in my time at Baylor. And I have to say that I have the greatest respect for Dr. Talbert. I poured over a zillion (and one) of his books last night as I wrote a critical intoduction to the Gospel of Matthew. Not only is this man a leading scholar in New Testament critcism, he also has a great way of preaching what he believes the NT says.

Talbert has great pieces on topics such as Womens' roles in the Church. Ones of his best books (in my opinion) is THE APOCALYPSE (Westminster John Knox Press: 1994). If you ever see a book by this guy BUY IT!!!!!!!!!

In short, C. H. "The Man" Talbert is just a haus! In other words, he's my home-dog!