Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sea Stories - Guess the Story

I know I haven't posted many sea stories - only the cockroaches so far, actually. But here's a quick an easy post that should be fun. The marine in this photo is then-LCpl Melang. He is in Saudi Arabia in the middle of the desert doing something. Your part is to guess what it might be. Right or wrong, I'm looking for humor - so a good guess is a funny one. After the weekend I'll update this post with the true story behind this photo.

Edit 4/2/07:

Here are the good humor awards:

We have some potential foodstuffs here. Transposer from Blogster speculated on the possibility for this to be a white lightning distillery to curse the bad guys while Irishkungerod from Xanga speculated that he was churning butter.

There was also speculation that there were profits to made out there. BroinJC from Xanga considered that loose change could be found buried somewhere out there.

Kymmeigh at Xanga came up with my favorite. She wondered if perhaps Melang wasn’t sweeping the desert. This would be on par with some of the endearingly asinine orders passed down from much higher up the chain of command. I could hear some brown-nosed junior officer comment, “There’s entirely too much sand in this desert! We need to clean it up before the General’s inspection.” (I’m sure the Colonel doesn’t have this problem.) Of course, by the time it would get to a junior NCO, like I was, overseeing the operation, I would have to make the comment just for GP, “Hey, Melang! What’s your stinkin’ problem!?! You missed a spot right over there! …and there! …and there!”

Of course, those of you who guessed that Melang was burning poo guessed correctly. We had portable open-air 4-holers. We dug a hole next to ours for urine because urine doesn’t burn very well. We would designate two holes for use for two days. Every other day we would burn the two receptacles (we called them “honey pots”) we had been using as well as the pit using “mogas”, which I was told was a mixture of diesel and regular fuel. The burning waste was stirred with a spare tent pole. We would also burn our trash because we had no regular trash pickup. Then we would put lime in the bottom and let them mellow for the next two days while we used the other two holes.

Here’s the story. In the photo you will notice a mound of sand and a shovel on the right. This is from the hole dug for the purposes of burning the trash. After it was burned, we would fill the hole back in and cover the ashes.

We had built the camp and established the camp guard. For some logistical reason it was determined that the cooks would have their own camp outside of the main camp. For chow, they would load up a hummer and come into the camp to serve it in an area designated for this purpose. They always had extra and would offer it to our guards as they departed. We stocked this extra food and would snack on it or trade it at the gate with the drivers of supply trucks for additional supplies. We traded some to the Seabees for building supplies and built furniture (tables, chairs, shelves, etc) and floors for the hooches. We also dug a refrigeration hole in one of the hooches and were able to keep some foodstuffs relatively cool. Someone had eaten a sandwich and considered the bread to be old. The last few slices of the loaf ended up in the trash.

We had a Sergeant (not me – I was a Corporal at the time) who had always seemed like pretty stable guy. However, you never know who’s going to snap. He came by the burn site while the trash and honey pots were burning and noticed the bread that someone had thrown away. The flames had not yet risen to the point where the bread was to be burned.

“Hey! Someone threw away some perfectly good bread!” he exclaimed. He went up to Melang and grabbed the stir stick. Now the end of the stick had a long metal tip for the grommets on the canvas panels of the hooch. The Sergeant used this metal tip to spear the bread and hold it over the fire to toast it. When it was done, he plucked the bread off the stick and ate it. Of course we asked him how he could eat poo. “It’s burning. It’s sanitized,” he said.

With our extensive food pantry, we had to fend off the desert mice. These mice had a tuft of fur on the end of their tails. Every last one of us had a throwable knife and were itching for practice. Every time a mouse entered the hooch we had to watch our feet because knives would follow the mouse along the ground. Outside, we had designated a burial area and made a small sign marking the resting place of our “confirmed kills”.

On a more reflective note:

We were requisition experts. Aside from trading at the gates, we had learned to play the system and had set the camp up with a couple of TV/VCRs. Some had their VHS collections sent and we would have movie night not unlike what you might have seen on MASH. We had made an antenna out of com wire, but the only thing we could pick up way out in the middle of the desert was CNN. Go figure. We had also managed to land ourselves a field laundry and shower tent complete with a water purification system and holding bladder. Going out to the shower, we wore flip-flops. This kept the spread of fungus and other transferable foot maladies to a minimum. The problem was once one stepped outside the shower tent and trudged back through the sand to the hooch, one’s feet were covered in sand necessitating the final washing of one’s feet at the hooch in the little foot tubs we had bathed out of before.

5 Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
6 So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, "Lord, do You wash my feet?"

7 Jesus answered and said to him, "What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter."

8 Peter said to Him, "Never shall You wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me."

9 Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head."

10 Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean;

(From John 13)

For Christians, it doesn’t matter how good we are in this fallen world. We cannot become perfectly clean because we still live here. We are dependent on Christ to make us clean.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

It's in the Code

I've been coding some new tools for work so my mind is filled with an unspeakable language. Don't believe me? Despite the apparent words, you can't verbalize the punctuated syntax. Try reading this aloud:

Private Sub Button1_Click(ByVal sender As System.Object, ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles Button1.Click
Dim currentField As String
Dim currentRow As String()
File1Index = 0
PathFile1 = OpenFileDialog1.FileName
Using MyReader As New Microsoft.VisualBasic.FileIO.TextFieldParser(PathFile1)
MyReader.TextFieldType = FileIO.FieldType.Delimited
While Not MyReader.EndOfData
currentRow = MyReader.ReadFields()
File1Index = File1Index + 1
LineIndex = 0
For Each currentField In currentRow
LineIndex = LineIndex + 1
If File1Index = 1 Then
Select Case currentField
Case Is = "PartQty"
PQIndex = LineIndex
Case Is = "PartMat"
PMIndex = LineIndex
Case Is = "PartRemark"
PRemIndex = LineIndex
Case Is = "PartRemark2"
PRem2Index = LineIndex
Case Is = "PartRemark3"
PRem3Index = LineIndex
Case Is = "PartRef"
PRefIndex = LineIndex
Case Is = "PartL"
PLIndex = LineIndex
Case Is = "PartW"
PWIndex = LineIndex
End Select
Select Case LineIndex
Case Is = PQIndex
PartQty(File1Index) = currentField
Case Is = PMIndex
PartMat(File1Index) = currentField
Case Is = PRemIndex
PartRemark(File1Index) = currentField
Case Is = PRem2Index
PartRemark2(File1Index) = currentField
Case Is = PRem3Index
PartRemark3(File1Index) = currentField
Case Is = PRefIndex
PartRef(File1Index) = currentField
Case Is = PLIndex
PartL(File1Index) = currentField
Case Is = PWIndex
PartW(File1Index) = currentField
End Select
End If
Label1.Text = currentField
Catch ex As Microsoft.VisualBasic.FileIO.MalformedLineException
MsgBox("Line " & ex.Message & "is not valid and will be skipped.")
End Try
End While
End Using
End Sub

Ok. It's not supposed to wrap, but you get the idea. And this is Visual Basic, so it's easier to read. It makes the tower of Babel seem like it must have been a cake walk.

This is rather simple code. More complex programming can have millions of lines of code. And we have yet to create a program as complex as the simplest self-reproducible genetic code with all of the code for the molecular machinery required for self-reproduction that would have had to be in place in order for the first molecular machinery to be made. (Oops! That's kinda circular, isn't it?) And to think, it all happened by accident. (Mff. Let me get my tongue out of my cheek.)

You know, I'm still debugging my simple program. I wonder how the first genetic code that happened on "accident" was able to debug itself...

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Logical discord, Spiritual Harmony

This rather long post ties together a few topics under one conceptual umbrella. I had considered breaking it up, but the application would be lost because topics subsequent to the underlying concept would hardly stand alone. Therefore, I came up with a composite title that simply doesn’t fit in the title fields most blog hosts provide. Let me apologize at this point for such a long post. It is hardly exhaustive and provides only a few areas where the central concept is applied. I have made reference to the scriptures and haven’t as of this writing provided book, chapter and verse references. I may add some in the near future. On to the body of the post…

Logical Discord, Spiritual Harmony, Reformation Theology, Confession and Baptistic Baptism

There is a concept on which I’ve posted before in my original blog at blogspot. I have referenced it in a few posts since, but I want to refine and expound on it here. When I talk about the bivalence of temporal reason and the univalence of the eternal God, these are very specific terms that I’m about to explain to you. I’ve never precisely named this concept. I’ll call it “Logical Discord”.

Consider who God is. We observe a natural order of cause and effect. If something happens, something else happening caused it. Since this something else is a happening, something else happening caused it. It is inconceivable that this chain of causes and effects goes back infinitely. The scientist may seek to trace the cause of everything known back to the big bang and then plead ignorance as to what caused the big bang. Without knowing for sure the precise chain of causes and effects, the concept that an uncaused cause must exist. Since this cause is uncaused, it is indicative of something substantial that is foundational to the world we know, but doesn’t carry the same rules. This something we’ll call “Eternity”. We’ll call the uncaused cause the “First Cause”. Because the First Cause is substantial and foundational, the First Cause isn’t confined by Eternity, but rather defines it. We’ll give another name to the First Cause: “God”. (There is a way to derive qualities or attributes of God, but this isn’t pertinent to this discussion.) This is called the cosmological “proof” of God. It is not a proof of the existence of God, it is a proof in the sense that is a temporal definition of God.

Since God is substantial, He is the source of existence and it is invalid to ask whether or not He exists. Given the flow of thought through history, the terminology I’m using is with respect to, and contrary to, the broad philosophy of existentialism. In general, existentialism holds that existence is foundational to substance. Here, I’ve derived a quick apologetic for the notion that substance is foundational to existence. If I didn’t think that this post wasn’t going to be long enough already, I’d go into some theoretical physics and demonstrate the continuity of this foundation inherent in the very physical structure of the temporal cosmos. But this would be an unnecessary digression.

I’ve mentioned Eternity. Here’s a shocker for most people: Eternal does not mean “infinite time”. Time is “Temporal”. Eternity is timeless. If the Eternal God is foundational to Temporal Creation, then infinite time is a temporal manifestation of eternity. Ahh, but I’m jumping ahead.

Temporality is, by nature, “Bivalent”. Bivalence is the quality of having two values. In logic, these two values are “true” and “false”. Existence, the temporal quality of being, is not absolute. It has boundaries. If I look at myself, I can see a fairly distinct edge to my body that demarcates where my existence ceases. If I were truly absolute, my existence would continue infinitely in all directions, including through time. This is impossible since existence is temporal. And eternity is the cosmological center of absolute. There is a questionable disunity to my existence in that I am not the same person I was years ago. I have eaten and breathed. I have cast waste off from myself. The molecules that comprise my existence have changed themselves constantly since my birth. Nevertheless, there is continuity to my existence that I owe to God. Therefore, while my body is physically different, there is a pattern that has followed. I look about the same. I have scars where I had injuries although the molecules are different. I have memories and cognitive abilities that demonstrate this continuity. I have a beginning that was caused by my parents. The beginning of my existence was construed from the existence of genetic material and cellular matter from each of my parents. Did that separate genetic material and cellular matter cease to exist? No. It became me. What was it before it became me? It was my mom and dad. Therefore, my continuity is of my parents and their continuity is of their parents. This is traced back to a single set of parents. If we accept the veracity of the Bible, which I do, those parents are Adam and Eve. This continuity is a manifestation of the Absolute.

But the fact that we have bounded existence is bivalent. Inside the boundaries, existence is true. Outside the boundaries, existence is false. Since God is eternal and absolute, there is no boundary to His substance for there to be a “true” or “false”. Therefore, God is single-valued or “Univalent”. (Univalence is most often used as a descriptor in chemistry. However, its usage is valid outside of chemistry.) The problem with univalence is that it is impossible for us to grasp. It would seem simple since it only has one value. Consider this: if everything in the world were precisely the same hue of green, we would have no concept of color in general or green in particular. As temporal creatures we require the contrast of false to comprehend the true. There would be nothing that was not green against which to compare the green.

Given the discourse to this point: while creation is temporal, God’s creating is eternal. Since God is substantially outside of time there is no “time” for God when creation didn’t exist. Consequently, there is no “time” for God where our future doesn’t already exist. The six days of creation were created as a demonstration for us.

This takes an interesting turn when we consider that God, being eternal, created something that was not. Effectively, God creates that which is not He. This is the incomprehensible (to us) bifurcation that establishes the bivalent pattern of existence in the temporal cosmos. Consider that the incarnation of God in the person of the Son as the man, Jesus the Christ, took the form of a temporal creature. His death is after the form of God creating that which is not God and His resurrection is after the form of the eternal relationship between God and His creation. After all, does God give us temporal life? Well, yes. However, God also gives us eternal life. In a fallen world, is it better to pursue a good temporal life at the expense of eternal life or to acknowledge Christ’s gift of eternal life at the expense of our temporal life.

Lest you balk, consider this statement made by me to you: If I’m going too quickly for you, just stop me. Well, you can’t stop me, because I’m already finished. The end of the article is written. You just haven’t gotten to it yet. And at what would you balk? You may be thinking, “Jim, you’re a hyper-Calvinist! That’s heretical!” Let not your heart be troubled. A discussion of Calvinism from this quasi-philosophical framework is the next section of discourse.

But first I need to mention a few more things by way of approach. First, while we have Logical Discord between temporality and eternity, there is Spiritual Harmony in the manifestations of the Eternal in the Temporal. With regard to the human psyche, the seat of the will, the manifestation of the Eternal is evidenced in our motivations, our inclinations. I’ve written before that the human psyche is comprised of competing inclinations. These inclinations are fed from various sources such as sociological context and stimulation; diet, past experience, etc. The strongest inclinations are the ones that inform our behavior. Inasmuch as we identify with one inclination or another seems to be an inclination in and of itself. However, this sort of inclination normalizes the inclinations with which it identifies thus strengthening them. Paul seems to convey this concept in his letter to the Romans when he denigrates himself for not doing what he wants to do and doing what he doesn’t want to do.

For humans, one other factor remains. This is our receptiveness to the spiritual. This is to say that we can gain information from… what? What is the spiritual? If God is absolute and eternal, then does the absolute and eternal constitute the whole of the spiritual? Are angels and demons part of the eternal or part of the temporal? Is the physical world we are familiar with the only temporal cosmos? Is the spiritual world some relatively imperceptible integrated aspect of the natural order? Is this part of what “the heavens” are? The fact is that we don’t know exactly, and this exercise is mere speculation. We argue from ignorance. All that is reasonable to conclude is that God is spirit and the spiritual is also the medium by which the Absolute is manifest in the patterns of the Temporal. This information is available to us through God’s revelation in the scriptures. What is also available to us is that the fruit of the spirit speaks to our motivations and only our behaviors indirectly. Where we temporally view and judge behavior, God judges our motivations. We can do the right things for the wrong reasons. We can do the wrong things for the right reasons. What is true from the previous paragraph is that we have a combination of right reasons and wrong reasons and an overarching inclination (our identification) toward one set of reasons or another according to what we know and assent as true.

This is the harmonization of the spiritual where the logic is discordant.

Consider the debate between Reformed theology and autonomous free will. There are three positions in this debate, although too often only two are characterized. There is the position, as I have mentioned, of autonomous free will. This position doesn’t necessarily deny the sovereignty of God. However, there is no general consensus on how precisely God’s autonomy squares with our autonomy. The second position is authentic Reformed theology characterized typically by John Calvin’s five points. This position accepts that God is absolutely sovereign while maintaining that free will is compatible with God’s sovereignty. This is why a good descriptive reference to this position is to call it “compatibilism.” True Reformed theologians, while assenting to free will, do not, however, believe this free will to be “autonomous.” That is, there is nothing that informs our decisions that God has not created realizing the impact that such would have on our decisions. Because the logic becomes discordant at this point, the Reformed position is often mischaracterized as a third position. This third position is often called “Hyper Calvinism” or “Fatalism”. This position denies that humans have any free will at all.

The spiritual harmonization of compatibilism lies in the motivations of human beings. If our motivation is to exert our free will over and against the will of God, then God acquiesces inasmuch as He leaves us to our own devices. Since we are temporal, we essentially live the balance of our temporal lives yet on the foundation of the Eternal. While the existence of such a one may perish, his spiritual substance remains paradoxically separate from the Eternal. Since eternal life comes from God, this substance is eternally (timelessly) dead.

However, if our motivation is to relinquish our right to will freely, then we rightly attribute this motivation to God. We acknowledge from this that our will is free from sin, although we yet struggle with sin from within throughout the temporal process of sanctification, and this through internal confession (not to deny the necessity of external confession). Our motivation is to assent to God’s worthiness of His sovereign control over our lives (worship). We therefore become free agents to bear His will. Once again, the logic is discordant because we cannot approach a univalent God with a bivalent understanding, but the spirit is in harmony because we have negated the paradoxical effects of a fallen world by submitting our will to God.

I offer myself humbly as an example through confession. If you have skipped to this point without reading the above, what I am about to say will not be fruitful. For it is in confession that spiritual harmonization is realized through submission. This is not a confession of a behavioral sin. This is a confession of a spiritual struggle – a temptation. Some of you who have read my writings for some time may recognize a certain lack of focus or a meandering thought. My confession is that I have been distracted. I won’t get specific as to what has been distracting me, but suffice it to say that it is a spiritual battle. Inasmuch as I must rely on God for strength in the battle, I have been successful in remaining faithful. The stakes are very high and God is faithful in His providence. There are very few with whom I have trusted even this scant information. There is only one to whom I have disclosed the particulars of the battle. There is none aside from myself who understand the full import of the battle.

One solution to the culmination of the battle is that I find a way to meet certain sociological needs. I have many acquaintances, some of which are among my fellow bloggers. It has come to my realization, however, that I have no close friends. I work in virtual solitude, eat alone, read alone, write alone and often rehearse alone. When I am privileged to converse with another, I typically submit to conversation that revolves around their interests. (Kim at Xanga has been a recent exception to this. I am acquainted with a good friend of hers who lives in my area and Kim, during her solitary work life, has been good company via the Internet lately. Thanks for hanging out with me, Kim. I very much enjoy your company.) To date, God has not provided a close friend. This is one I’ll connotatively define as someone who knows where you hide the key to your back door, and knows he (or she) is welcome to use it – and this both figuratively as well as literally. However, God is with me Himself. His presence and my consequent submission to Him have strengthened my faith if by fire. Therein is His provision and spiritual harmony in the midst of logical discord.

To restate, internal confession negates the paradoxical effects of a fallen world through submission. This happens certainly to the believer who ascribes such a state of affairs to the work of God through His Holy Spirit. The justification of such a one is temporally eventful and eternally absolute (timeless). However, the fact that God’s Spirit works in the heart of the believer to achieve a submission of will is indicative of something else we learn from God’s revelation in holy scripture. This is that the believer is “indwelt” by the Holy Spirit.

It can be argued, yet seldom is, that paedobaptism (infant baptism) is practiced because of the eternal state of the believer over and against the mere act of manifesting this faith. However, since the faith is not manifest in this infant, it is disingenuous to assume that it will be. One must develop some theology that assumes either universalism or the insecurity of the believer, neither of which is Biblical.

Instead, it is prudent to pray for and profess the faith to those who have not confessed and manifested submission, withholding baptism until such a time as they do so and consent in obedience to the rite of baptism ordained by Christ as the method for demonstrating the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Where “baptism” is a transliteration of the Greek word meaning “immersion”, the reality of the spiritual harmony is that the individual is immersed in the work of the Holy Spirit and His teaching through the discipleship offered through the Body of Christ. This is evident in the great commission. Baptism itself, being representative also of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, is therefore doubly a representation of the logical discord of God’s bivalent creation and the spiritual harmony of His univalent provision of eternal life.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

We Have Broadband!!!!

We have broadband at the house now. I can upload and download information at an alarming rate. I can watch videos without waiting an hour for it to download. I can upload videos from home. Neat programs like Google Earth work blindingly fast.
What did we ever do without it?

Before broadband, we had dialup. This was great. We had e-mail. We had access to all sorts of information. We could contact people without the expense of long distance. We could do banking without having to go to the bank or send a check through the mail. It was a wonderful tool for cmmunication.
What did we ever do without the internet?

Before the internet, we only had just a computer. We could type documents and save them to be edited and printed at will. We could play neat games. We could set up a budget and have monetary calculations performed automatically. We could store information like recipes and encycolpedia without taking up precious shelf space.
What did we ever do without it?

Before that, we only had a typewriter and some board games in the closet. If I made a mistake typing, I had to start over. However, it was much neater than my handwriting and looked professional. I remember when the first calculators came out. They made doing math so much easier. For board games, you had to get everyone together in order to play. All that inconvenient socialization doesn't sound too bad. Actually, it was rather nice.
What did we ever do without a typewriter to make our letters look neat?
What did we do before we had calculators for our difficult math problems?
What did we do before we had games to pull the family together?

In days before I remember, we wrote by hand. Only a few centuries ago, the printing press made mass production of written works like the Bible possible. Otherwise, even the founding documents of the USA were hand-written. There was an art to this. Calculations had to be performed by hand. Amazingly, Newton was able to develop calculus. How did he do that without a calculator? We had little time for games. We had to join together to work. Food production and construction took time. Manufacturing was done by hand by artisans who had to learn their trade over a period of years working with a master. Yet, all this hard work seemed to bring neighbors together.
What did we do before this great hard work?

Adam and Eve had fellowship with the Father.

Our advancements are an attempt to combat the curse of the fall. At the fall, we suffered separation, not just rom God, but from each other. Hard work was necessary to bring us together through our fallen struggle. It's not supposed to be easy. I'm not necessarily better off in my fallen struggle now that I have broadband. We are surrounded by amazing tools today. However, the struggle is still the same. We have tools to maintain. They are tools that bring us together in new and different ways...

...but we still have the same struggle.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Rough Outline for Discipleship Training

I've been gathering a few materials and considering a structure within which to place these materials for training Christian mentors. This is why I haven't had much spiritual insight to convey lately. I now have a rough outline and will start to fill in the blanks in the coming weeks.

There are some considerations for developing a course for training more mature Christians to disciple Christians who are younger in their faith. First, the training must address the spiritual maturity of the mentors. Second, the key information overlaps at all levels and any outline is merely a contrivance for imposing linear organization for the purposes of instruction. Because mentors and disciples are individuals with any combination of styles and needs, there is no singe technique that works in every circumstance. Therefore, it is more fruitful to give a set of principles for the mentor to keep in mind rather than hold him or her to a particular methodology. That stated, this is my rough outline. I question its comprehensiveness. If there is anything I have missed, please feel free to point this out (note equivalent terms).



The Great Commission

Goal: Spiritual Maturity and the Use of God’s Gifts

Reliance on God (Piety)





The Struggle for Understanding


Devotional Study (personal situation)

Theological Study (grounded in truth)

Studying With Others


Bearing the Burdens of Others

Fulfilling the Great Commission

Key: Relationships, Godly Wisdom

Considering Others First

Loving Enough to Correct

In the World, Not Of the World

Purpose: Glorifying God Alone



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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Farmin' Convention

We ate in Morganton on the way back from Asheville last night. Afterward, my wife speculated on the convention the waitress had told us about. The waitress had told us that we came at a good time. There had been some sort of convention in town and the restaurant had just recovered from the rush of people from the convention.

Lois mentioned that she couldn't imagine so many fire fighters in one place. That's not what I heard. I said, "I thought she said it was convention of farmers?"

Lois responded, "No! She said it was a 'fireman convention'!"

We about threw up we laughed so hard.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sea Stories

Over on Xanga, the Colonel has been visiting and recent posts have brought to mind some stories from my time in the service of our country.

Introduction to Sea Stories

Despite the deep tradition inherent in the military, things can change quickly. The tale is told of the recruit on his first day in boot camp, while yet in forming, who sat down next to a second recruit who had arrived a day earlier. The first recruit expressed his bewilderment at his new surroundings. The second, eager to bring this new arrival up to speed, said, “Well… back in the ‘old corps’…”

Because of the pattern of change in the military, a tradition of lore helps to maintain a sense of continuity among units. In the Marine Corps, the accounts that make up this body of lore are called “sea stories.” Sea Stories are mostly-true accounts of humor, valor and extraordinary occurrences. This post marks the first of perhaps many sea stories to come from my experiences in the Marines.

(As a note, the only people who cuss worse than drunken sailors are drunken Marines. It should be a foregone conclusion that Marines, while typically honorable in duty, are often rough, harsh, brash… the precise adjective may not exist. As such, I’ll tidy up the language and accounts for public consumption. Also, while these stories are not explicitly Christian, they tell of a culture still alive in the US where thicker skins prevail and people are trained to live life in the most difficult situations.)



In boot camp, there was a special board where recruits could pin photographs of their girlfriends back home. This board was called a “hog board”. It was ostensibly for motivational purposes. The idea was the eventual realization that a recruit’s girlfriend wasn’t worth undue attention while he was at boot camp.

I didn’t contribute to the hog board.

A few photographs that went up on the hog board were perceptibly not girlfriends. One such was obtained by a recruit while our platoon was working a week of mess and maintenance around the base. I was assigned to the permanent personnel chow hall with a few others. I worked in the serving line next to a Corporal of obvious Scottish descent who called me “screaming eagle” for no apparent reason.

When the mess area (dining hall) closed from meal hours, we adjourned to the scullery (where dishes were washed) and pot shack (where large pots were maintained) to clean up. The pot shack was actually a separate room of the building. The reason it was separate was quickly apparent to us. The large scale cleaning of food from the pots attracted bugs… cockroaches to be precise. There was a significant population of them in the pot shack.

One day, one of the permanent personnel on base, a Lance Corporal, offered an attractive photograph to one of the recruits (I don’t recall his name – we’ll call him “Stevens”) so that he could hang it on the hog board. The stipulation was that he sample one of the six-legged delicacies that scampered about the pot shack.

Recruit D’Orville was the member of my platoon assigned to keep the pot shack at all times. D’Orville was from New York City. His father was French, his mother was from the Dominican Republic and he was naturally tri-lingual. He also had a sense of humor. Once one of the Drill Instructors, sensing an opportunity to rag him, asked him where he was from. D’Orville responded with an earnest-sounding, “This recruit is from the moon, sir!” After stifling a chuckle, the DI walked off realizing the game was over with this recruit today.

D’Orville grabbed a cup and went around the pot shack filling it with cockroaches, just so that our hog board hopeful could have his pick of tasty delights. We all gathered around to view the event. The Lance Corporal held up the photograph for motivation. D’orville held the cup up and Stevens rooted through it to find his preference. Slowly, Stevens opened his mouth and stuck out his tongue. He placed the creature with its back on his tongue and its legs kicking for freedom. His tongue quivered as he slowly drew the bug into his mouth. Just as he got it halfway past his lips, it flicked its wings enough to break the surface tension of the spittle on Stevens’ tongue and the cockroach fell to the floor free…

…followed by, STOMP!!!. The Lance Corporal’s boot came crashing down on the hapless insect. “Ooh. Sorry about that. I guess you don’t get the photograph.”

“I can still eat it,” Stevens pleaded.

“Sorry. It has to be alive.”

I think the lance Corporal eventually let him try another one.


Another cockroach story took place in the chow hall behind the Band barracks at Camp Lejune. I was told that this was once in the Guiness Book of World Records, but I have been unable to find it.

Apparently, a cockroach once became too large and heavy to be accommodated by the tensile strength of the ceiling tiles in the chow hall. A Staff Sergeant had obtained his tray of food and sat down to eat. Just then the ceiling tile above him gave way and a cockroach nearly a foot long fell into his tray of food. An officer on duty who had been temporarily relieved from post for chow drew his firearm and shot the beast.


If you’re thoroughly disgusted by these cockroach stories, let not your heart be troubled. These are the only cockroach sea stories I know that are worth telling.

Well… maybe the time in San Antonio we played soccer with a live cockroach…


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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Origins Debate

I’ve been reading comments in some blogs lately about evolution and creation. I gave a class on the origins debate this past fall and analyzes the philosophical foundations that drive the science behind each side. I posted unreferenced class notes on my blogster blog so that my students could access them easily. I submit links to them here for your perusal.

I’m not currently a scientist, but I was a gifted physics major in college:

I am a young-earth creationist and I make that clear here:

In an effort to accurately portray the thinking of naturalistic science, I offered the best arguments I could find in favor of macroevolution:

There are philosophical foundations for scientific discovery and they intersect Biblical revelations of Christ Himself.

These same philosophical foundations have been debated for a couple or few millennia and today this debate has provided the presuppositions for the different sides in the origins debate:

There are especially theological implications of the debate:

Given the presuppositions, here is my analysis of the naturalistic science from above with the re-evaluation from a creation science perspective:

As a parenthetical, with respect to the age of the universe, we must answer some quasi-creationist thinking with respect to the age of the universe:

(By the end of the quarter, I only had time for one loaded class worth of an analysis of genetic mutation.)

I had offered additional materials in the classroom that I didn’t publish in this blog series, but this should give an overview for any who are interested. I encourage you not to simply take what I have here as truth, but to do the research for yourself. I have the references available, but don’t have the time to go back and apply them right now.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Busy Sunday, But Full of Worship

Sunday mornings I get up early, make breakfast, make coffee for my wife, wake her up and leave for the early service. We have two identical services at Western Avenue Baptist Church (in Statesville, NC) and I go to ensure that we have enough tenors for the singing. After the singing, the choir vacates for the preaching. At this time, I go to run sound and make sure the fellowship hall is ready for our 150 member Sunday School class. My wife gets the kids up, feeds them and brings them for Sunday School. After Sunday School, I put the sound equipment up and run to the choir room to join the choir for the second service. Usually we all go home, eat lunch and nap.

Today was different. I left from church and drove to Westside Church of Christ in Charlotte to hear The Good News Singers From Harding University. They are directed by Chuck Hicks, a fellow blogger at blogster known as Transposer. Most importantly he is a brother in Christ. His student singers are likewise Christians and devoted to worshiping Christ through music. I sat and worshiped to some of the most beautiful acapella music I've heard. It ranks up there with Take 6 and Zambian Acapella. I wish I had brought money to snag on of their CDs.

Chuck's Good News Singers features 4 male and 4 female voices. I had considered an un-miked group like this for evangelism a few years ago. No set-up, no instruments: walk into a public area with the singers and a couple of people to stay in prayer. Start singing. Music draws a crowd. Mix it up with a short skit, a testimony and a presentation of the gospel. Be ready to talk/pray with anyone who is interested and leave. I'm a horrible salesman and couldn't generate interest in it. Maybe it's not a good idea. After all, I don't have common sense.

After the concert, I left and zoomed across town to Plantation Estates in Matthews where I sang with The Cantamos Choir. Then it was back to Statesville for Sunday evening church. (Very soon to be Dr.) Jeff Spry offered a well-researched disclosure of the facts - and fiction - behind the recent Jesus ossuary hubbub. (It's not posted at the church website as of this writing. You can check here later if you want to hear what he had to say.)

Busy day? Yes. But I spent it meeting with all kinds of people in worship. And I got to meet Chuck, the man behind the words over at blogster. God bless.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Proverbs 27

Just reading Proverbs 27 after reading AboveAllEarthlyPowers post about friendship. I can't resist a few excerpts and observations:

2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
A stranger, and not your own lips.

5 Better is open rebuke
Than love that is concealed.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
7 A sated man loathes honey,
But to a famished man any bitter thing is sweet.

10 Do not forsake your own friend or your father's friend,
And do not go to your brother's house in the day of your calamity;
Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother far away.

17 Iron sharpens iron,
So one man sharpens another.

The context of this section appears to be an admonition to tend to one's duties now instead of being sinfully distracted. Ahh. Disctractions...

Al Mohler wrote an article regarding media "snacking". Justin Taylor followed it up with some additional observations in an article entitled "Short Attention Span Theater". The general gist of the observations are that our ability to absorb information is being co-opted by the amount of information available to us. This exercise brings to my mind our place in this fallen world.

Think back to the fall where God issued the curse:

Nakedness: In a perfect world, our intimacy isn't an issue - and I'm not talking about sexual intimacy. In general, people have sought to distort this in trying to justify physical intimacy in a sad attempt to fulfill the need for spiritual intimacy.

Pain in Childbirth: We have accomplished great things in medicine, not the least of which is pain management. Because of this we can develop advanced surgical techniques and facilitate healthful recovery. Likewise, my wife can undergo an episiotomy and have a more risk-free birth with less pain. But the pain of bringing forth children extends into their upbringing. Our mothers have given birth to sinners, and we will grieve our parents outside of God's grace. The pain is a reminder that sinners must reprove sinners. Hypocritical? Perhaps, but we have a true authority beyond ourselves for this task, if only we will heed Him.Out of this same concept grows...

The Marital Power Struggle (Gen 3:16b): Even for Moses divorce was granted according to "the hardness of their hearts". Now we have no-fault divorce. If we find we can't get along, we'll split the kids in two and part company. Paul spelled the solution out plainly to the Ephesians: "Submit to one another." And he indicated that this submission was to be sacrificial.

Toil by the Sweat of Our Brow: We need to work - hard - to keep ourselves out of trouble. However, we have built great machines to do our farming for us. In the US we have more food than we can eat. Gluttony has extended to "media snacking". And what is media anyway, but an attempt to work through the effects of God's post-Babel curse.

We long for full spiritual intimacy with others. We cannot have it in a fallen world. for now, we look through a glass dimly, but then we shall know even as we are known. Nevertheless, God calls us to hold each other to account. Here in the Blogosphere, I've just been able to tie together communications of people hundreds, if not thousands, of miles apart. We may be brothers and sisters in Christ, but how can you hold me to account from way over there? I communicate with some of you more than I communicate with many of my neighbors. BroinJC is having a wonderful effect on his neighbors (keep up the good work, Jeffrey). Sunday, I have the opportunity to meet Transposer in Charlotte, NC, and I'm looking forward to it.

I'm not knocking the internet and our use of it per se. But some of you know me better than people I go to church with and see two or three times a week. To them, they see what I do in public. I sing in the choir and offer the occasional solo. However, our conversation may only consist of "Hi. How are you? Fine." In these pages, you can know more of me than they can. However, you can't hold me to task. If I don't like what you say, I can delete your comments.

Let me personalize this. I blog in order to organize my thoughts and generate response that may help me refine my thinking - especially on the heavier topics. I also blog to get excess thoughts out of my system. I generally trim my vocabulary and meter my observations for public consumption, but I have an intellectual capacity that I don't like to talk about (See Prov 27:2 above). So I won't quantify it for you (not that I can) and I won't mention it further except to say that I have absolutely no one other than our Creator with whom I can meaningfully share all my thoughts and interests. Even my dear wife can only handle so much. So, I blog to get it out of my system and read blogs to pan for gold with which to refine my thinking. Otherwise, I keep busy with a multitude of projects.

The point I'm trying to make is that too often we pursue media to "connect" to the world. We have a body of written/audio/video literature to serve as a sociological frame of reference that is growing seemingly exponentially and the extent of which none can fully apprehend. Where the educated once had a small body of literature for meaningful referential discourse, the references today are diffuse among the population and are consequently beyond what can be used for meaningful broad-spectrum high-end communication. We yearn for a healthy diet of spiritual intimacy, but often settle for a bite-sized candy bar that will give us enough spiritual energy until the next post.

Then we log off, turn to our neighbor and say, "Hi. How are you? Fine."

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I'm having fun posting videos on Xanga from work. Here are links to two that I've done:

He Reigns

This video is part of a series I did in 2005 after we returned from our first trip to Venezuela. This video is the first in the series and tells the story of our travel to and first day in Venezuela. Our team couldn't get booked on one plane to go to Maracaibo. Consequently, we were split up. Team 1 had a delayed connecting flight and couldn't get rescheduled until the next day. Team 2 (my team) went on ahead and did the first day's medical/carnival and evangelistic service that evening. The place we were ministering was in the approaching flight path for the airport and someone snapped a photo of the plane carrying team 1 to us. After the service, we went back to the hotel and greeted team 1 as they arrived.

AFO Barium Springs Concert

This is a music video I did to include with a couple hours of other missions videos I created and assembled for the missions fair last month. All For One (AFO) is a youth choir that consists of contingencies of youth from a few different churches in our area. They put on a Christmas concert this past year at our church in which I participated. One of the songs we did was about remembering orphans during the Christmas season. The AFO choir had spent some time at the local youth home in Barium Springs, NC. I included photos in the video from this excursion.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Posting Around

I know that there is really nobody who reads this blog. I keep it up if only to have a repository for some of my older significant posts. In any case, I've been around but have made a couple of community specific posts on my Xanga blog.

Specifically, I made the acquaintance of an ARMY Colonel who I discovered is a fellow tanker. So I posted some military photos for him as well as some commentary. You can read this post here.

I've also been called to the carpet about my preferences in colors by the best friend of a woman at church who happens to be visiting. I responded by denying everything and posting how there is nothing PURPLE in my home! ....Okay, I'll fess up. There's a significant amount of purple in my home... and I put it there. See the pictures here.


Thursday, March 01, 2007


Currently Listening
Yo Ire
see related

At work, we have inventory today. It takes the company a couple of days to do inventory, but only one day for my plant. We do epoxy resin counter tops and table tops as well as epoxy resin fume hood liner panels. Both of these products have a couple iterations in colors or qualities. On top of this, we process our own materials. We turn raw ground silica, resin, hardeners, pigments, etc. into unfinished slabs in a process I control separately from our fabrication line. We also cut miscellaneous glass panes for our metal and wood plants.

Note: I’m typing in English and listening to music in Spanish. A man just walked into my office and asked a question in English and I responded in Spanish… !?!?!? …I didn’t think I knew Spanish well enough to be bilingual. Tal es vida.
Back to my post…

Therefore, I manage multiple quasi-independent product lines. However, I’ve managed to lobby for policies in the past that make our inventory so easy a caveman… er, uh, a therapist… er, uh, a gecko could do it. Sometimes I love my job.

My mind is weird – or “wired” differently. Every several months or couple of years it wants to inventory its contents. This means that I have to spend a couple of relatively sleepless weeks while it churns away reminding me of everything I remember. It did this recently. It’s through for now, thank goodness. This is what spawned some of my recent reminiscent posts.

Every Thursday night I meet with a few men. We may have a time of Bible study, theological debate or some such, but we often do an “examination of conscience”, or what could be understood as a “spiritual inventory”. We also often bemoan the fact that there are always some areas of our spiritual life where we could improve. Being Thursday, that’s where I’ll be tonight.

It’s good business to inventory thoroughly. You have to inventory because it’s too inefficient to maintain a perfect inventory on a day-to-day basis. You do the best you can as you go along, but circumstances may cause inaccuracies over time. So it is wise to stop occasionally and get an accurate count of your inventory. You mark down the variances, resolve to do better and get on with business. Likewise, it’s good to inventory yourself spiritually. The fruits of the spirit are what should motivate us. We need to ask if our motivations are true to the Spirit of God. The checklist we use has ten items in three categories. The three categories are Piety (Mat 11:28), Study (John 8:31) and Action (John 20:31).


  1. With what spiritual aids have you nourished your vital union with Christ this week? Examples:

Congregational Worship/Communion

Morning Offering/Evening Thanks

Devotions, Meditation and Prayer

Examination of Conscience

Altar/Chapel Visit

Family Prayer

Blessing Before Meals

Spiritual Direction


  1. What was the Moment you felt closest to Christ?
  2. What is your plan for next week to deepen your piety?


  1. What have you studied this week to better understand Jesus Christ and his mystical body, the church?

Adult Education Class of Congregation

Bible Study Course

Private Bible Study

Bible Commentaries

Books on the Christian Faith & Theology

Christian Periodicals

Pastor Guided Reading


  1. What was the most helpful Spiritual insight from your study?
  2. What will be your plan for next week to enrich your study?


  1. What have you done this week to share Christ with the world so that others might know his saving love?

How have you witnessed to the gospel in:




Total environment

In what way were you successful?

In what way were you disappointed?

  1. What have you done to bear the burdens of others in obedience to Christ?
  2. What was the moment of your most burning witness? Most sacrificial service?
  3. What is your plan for next week to enlarge your witness and service?

These questions are not comprehensive, and they should not be used legalistically, but they do help to keep us on track.

By the way, with this post, that lovely picture of Ised moves down. I was enjoying seeing her picture whenever I visited my page. The color in the background is about the same color we painted the kitchen (Behr called it “Williamsburg Blue”) along with green trim and accents. It’s one of my favorite colors. Don’t anyone tell my wife, though: I pick on her for having purple as a favorite color.

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