Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Propitiation of a Pirate

In the new Pirates of the Carribbean movie, there is a scene in which Johnny Depp's character has been told he must, in 3 days, find 100 "souls" to take his place on a cursed ship crew or spend eternity there himself. The comedic part comes when he is asked if he can live with himself knowing that he sentenced 100 people to this damnation of sorts. He thought for a moment and then shrugged and said "Yes."

We laugh at this because he is portrayed throughout as the pirate who is the epitome of all that we pretend to despise. He is vile, manipulative, sexually crude, self-centered, and dishonest. We laugh because he thinks for a moment before responding, and there is the hope for a brief moment that he will make the decent decision. We laugh because we knew really wouldn't. In the end, he is so self-centered that he would rather give this punishment to 100 others when it is clear that he is the one who deserves it.

He is as I am.

When we were watching the movie, at this particular point, I leaned over and tried to whisper something to Micah to indicate that I had a profound thought on the subject, but the movie went on, so I told him we'd talk about it later.

Now I will "express opinions or judgments in a dogmatic way. " I suppose it bothered me to laugh at his flippant attitude toward the whole scenario, mainly because I see this attitude in myself. God gave the punishment I deserve to Christ, who never did anything to deserve it, and my response is so often "yeah, I can live with that." I spend a lot of time giving thought to things that are so trivial, and treat my debt being paid as something that "just happened" and I'm OK with it.

Obviously the analogy falls apart very quickly, but I suspect that seeing Captain Jack Sparrow flagrantly display the sins that I hide so well brought these thoughts to mind.

As I throw around impressive theological terms, I hope to remember that substitution means someone else received the punishment I deserved, and that atonement required death to satisfy wrathful perfection. These are a very sobering combination.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Nathan's pontifications on conversations about spiritualization, fornication and moralization with those at your occupation.

If you ever have the urge/opportunity to discuss morals, theology, philosophy or almost anything else of substance with the survey crew you work with........

Resist it.

It won't end well.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

See you at the races

A brief introduction to the people you'll meet at your local 5K

Jen: Jen is hardcore. There's no other way to say it. She probably runs twice a day, looking for negative splits on each successive mile. Hill repeats are her favorite, with tempo runs as a close second. She obsesses about heart rate, breathing rhythm and stride length. At about 26, she will win the womens' race. Don't count on her putting her hand over her heart for the national anthem.

Matt: Matt is the male version of Jen; this is probably approproiate as they are married. Being that both are Type-A and very competetive, expect a large amount of trash-talking between them. Currently, Matt is faster than his wife, but with his recent stress fracture from running too much, she has a chance to beat him this race. Matt normally takes first for the mens' race, but with the injury he also stands to lose to the newcomer, Jacob.

Jacob: Being only 16 years old, Jacob is relatively new to this race. He ran it last year and placed 3rd overall, but the kid has talent. He does not run as dedicatedly as either Matt or Jen, and it frustrates them both that he is naturally so fast. He's currently a high school athlete, but his interest in baseball and girls will probably distract him from making all of his running that he could.

Catherine: Catherine is a bit of a fixture at this race. She, like Jacob, is young, but unlike Jacob, she has run this race for several years. Having been competing from the age of 9, this is her 6th time to compete in this 5K, and she has a bit of a friendship with Jen, whom she idolizes though only seeing her once a year. A year younger than Jacob, she goes to the same school he does but does not compete in running sports there because she doesn't feel good enough. She will win for the under 20 age group.

Britney: Britney runs 5K races because it's currently the fashionable way to be in shape. At her house, you will find video tapes of Tae-Bo and Pilates, and she has gone all out with this running thing for now. She wears New Balance shoes, Nike Shorts, an Under Armor tank top and is ready to go with her Mini iPod. Expect her to take around 40 minutes to finish and be sore for the next several days. Britney just noticed Jacob.

Martin: Martin is around 40, and has been in the Marine Corps for 21 years. He is not particularly impressed with Matt, who is faster. Instead, he knows that he could crush Matt in any real fight and that a 5K race is not the only test of physical endurance. He will probably win the Masters' division race, after which he will probably try, just like he did last year, to recruit Jacob.

Ruth: Ruth is a 64 year old grandmother of eight who has competed all 11 times this race has been held. She runs slowly, but enjoys having the mobility a lot of people her age lack. She runs simply as a celebration of her physical ability, and though she will probably place in the 64+ age group and thus go home with a sweatshirt, that really doesn't matter all that much to her. She also thinks Jacob is cute, but that Britney is all wrong for him. She has tried since last year to get Jacob and Catherine to notice each other.

Jesse: Jesse is Ruth's youngest son, a 27 year old marathon runner and big-time liberal. He is a health fanatic and can probably be seen running several miles before the race, then having a fruit smoothie. After the race, he has bottled water ready. While Matt somewhat annoys Martin, Jesse's pony tail makes Martin flat-out angry. It's OK, though, because while Martin knows Jesse is a total wimp, Jesse knows that Martin could never run 26.2 miles in 3:09:24. Matt and Jacob admire Jesse's ability to run the distances, but are both much more suited to 5K's than he is.

Robert: Robert is Jesse's older brother, a 36 year old lawyer that lives about 40 minutes away. His attire is simple; a T-shirt and shorts, with a sweatband around his receding hairline. He spends most of the time before the race sizing up the competition, starting conversations and dropping hints about his best times and trying to find out theirs, usually to their annoyance. Unfortunately, he's not a very good runner except in his own mind. Expect an injury about a mile in that will require him to walk the rest of the race.

Heather: Heather is a 20 year old collegiate runner and very good natured, friendly, and outgoing. She picks Jen out as a fellow serious runner, who in turn is secretly very suspicious of her abilities. Heather will do well, but would never trash-talk. Instead, she is very humble and encouraging, which makes Jen all the more wary of her. Her college is about an hour and a half away, but she came up with her boyfriend Jonathan, whose hometown is nearby. Heather was listening very intently to one of Martin's stories about Kuwait, and when he finished, she went to find Jonathan, but unfortunately, Robert cornered her.

Jonathan: Also a 20 year old and also a college runner, Jonathan is probably about the 5th or 6th place runner on his team. His 5K times are good, but is more of a 10K runner himself. He had a crush on Jen for a few years before she married Matt, always impressed by women who took running so seriously. He has run this race for four years now, each time, spending a good bit of time listening to Ruth, this year, smiling and nodding, agreeing that yes, Catherine and Jacob really would be cute together. The rest of his time is spent trying to ignore Britney's flirting; the whole time, he is looking around for Heather because he forgot to warn her about Robert. Then he saw her, and saw that it was already too late.

Larry: Larry is Ruth's husband, having been to all 11 times this race has been held, and being that he is on the city board of commissioners, he has the privelege of announcing the national anthem and starting the race for the 12th year in a row.

There are, of course, varying degrees to which these attributes apply to different runners you'll meet. This is just a brief overview, that you can be prepared for the competition at your next 5K road race.
Her broken arm, my broken heart

As you may or may not know, my mom broke her arm last week. She was walking one morning and tripped on an uneven spot in the sidewalk while trying to get a better look at several cardinals that had decided to take up residence in a tree nearby. She fell on her elbow and broke it in two places.

All is well with her arm; the doctor says everything is in place and the splint she has will hold it and a cast is not even necessary. I, however, am highly distraught.

Let's first review the facts.

My mother: A housewife mainly, with a part-time job working with American greetings. Hobbies include crochet, needlepoint, antique shopping, sewing, and playing piano.

My sister: A music student with exercise induced asthma. Hobbies are very similar to my mom's: Playing piano, singing, cross-stitch, scrapbooking, and the like.

My brother: An eagle scout black belt. Hobbies include: running, shooting, canoing, karate, hiking, and rappelling. For his job he handles guns and fishhooks.

Me: A college student intent on going into the military. Hobbies include: Rappelling, rock climbing, shooting, trail running, mountain biking, whitewater rafting. I even went skydiving once. For my job, I swing either a bush axe or a machete, and walk around carrying what amounts to a small car battery.

Now that that is out of the way, which two of the above do you think have ever broken a bone? I'll give you a hint: Neither me or my brother.

Why is this? It hardly seems fair that my brother and I do everything possible, it would seem, to facilitate the possibilty of being put in a cast, or at least having some good scars. But no. My mom breaks her arm walking on a sidewalk, and my sister broke hers skating calmly at a skating rink.

Alas, I am thus in anguish and deep sorrow in my soul. I know that "life ain't fair" but, why do they get all the good injuries? To be fair, I must point out that I have broken two toes and a rib, but nobody ever notices those injuries. You don't even go to the doctor for it. Thus, no sympathy is had. But a full arm cast.....that's good. That's really good.

Oh well. Guess I'll have to take up knitting.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Holiness and Handwriting

Just so you know, the world may be ending.

It seems that the universe as we know it may be ending, the first sign of this being that Hope, Micah, and I were involved in a discussion/argument in which WE ALL THREE AGREED. It was a very strange experience to argue the same things that the two of them were saying against what everyone else in the discussion was saying.

Today, the three of us agree on a theological issue. Tomorrow, the world will be slightly out of balance. You'll notice small things at first. Computers will print sideways on a sheet of paper. Soon people won't be able to walk and chew bubblegum at the same time. Little girls will fall off of balance beams. Politicians will tell the truth, and before you know it, earth itself will fall right out of orbit and the world will end.

Just thought you should be warned.

Also, if you see four strange looking guys on horses riding down the street, let me know.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Thoughts on death and the Dead Poets' Society

Today I attended the visitation of a student with whom I ran track high school. He was shot in the chest on Friday night as part of what seems to have been an armed robbery and died in surgery. Tommy was 19.

As I was standing in the line to speak to the grieving parents, I was wondering what to tell them... "I know what you're going through" was an obvious non-choice. "God will use it for something good" is certainly truth, but didn't seem to be the appropriate truth to bring up at the moment. As for "It'll be OK"...well, maybe it will, but there is no way I'm going to try to assure them of this right now. So I stood there and debated proper eloquence until it was my turn to give his mother a hug, and I mumbled something that was probably less than profound and moved on. I really wasn't that close to him anyway, I tell myself.

So what is my point, and how does this relate to the Dead Poets' Society? In this way: In the movie, Robin Williams stars as a literature teacher who encourages his students to do things like walk around and see the courtyard their own way, to go ouitside the beaten path, basically, to ignore tradition and live by their own rules. And that is the essence of the relation.

My generation is one that prides itself on ignoring tradition. Generation X, or whatever letter they've assigned us, it is expected, will do its own thing. I suppose each generation sees this in the subsequent one, and college is a very special breeding ground for this "free thinking."

But whatever.

My point is that we ignore traditions, and in this case, ritual, to our own detriment. I think that when we hear the word ritual, we envision a Greek Orthodox church service, doing things a very strict and certain way. But today I witnessed a ritual that has helped countless people deal with what might otherwise be unbearable. Funerals carry us through times of unimaginable loss. Without them, I suspect many families would simply not know what to do. So we go through the motions of the visitation, the funeral, the burial, the time as a family, etc, and come out of it all having had a few days to grive, and hopefully able to pick up and carry on.

When we do something simply because 'we've always done it that way,' there can be danger to it. But there is a good chance that people who came before us have dealt with the same things, and maybe we should build on what others have seen instead of scrapping it and starting over our own way.

Take it for what it's worth, which is as always, probably what you paid for it.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The main reason I created this is so that I could leave comments on my friends' weblogs.

That and also the absolute brilliance of rhyming 'pontification' and 'station.'