Thursday, January 27, 2005

I've got off suit ace and a pair of duce from the flop. . .

I don't have cable. Appearently though every cable channel in existence is in some way shape or form featuring Texas Hold'em. The game mystified me largely because I didn't really understand it. The flop? turn? river? However, over Thanksgiving my brother explained the rules to me, and then 2 fridays later or so I played it at church with some teenagers (using board game money, so relax . . .i'm not that bad of a methodist). To make a long story short (to late), I recieved a gift card from Wal-mart from one of Abigail's realtives and I invested in World Championship Poker (and a Asajj Ventress Star Wars figure but that is neither here nor there). World Championship Poker is good for multiple reasons.

1. It is cheap. Only $20!!
2. It features multiple types of Poker. Of course it has Texas Hold'em. It also has the other two types of Poker I know how to play, five card draw (thanks to my dad) and seven card stud (thanks to Data and Commander Ryker). In addition to that it has like 9 other types of Poker I have never heard of.
3. Crazy Chracter custominzation. Why is it games like this and golf have the most in depth chacter creation process? Anyway you can make your character competly unique which is a good thing.
4. Online play. This is the best part and why I got it. I can play cards with people when ever I want, and the best part it doesn't cost me anything! Even better, if I do something stupid like go all in with a pair of threes and lose, I just exit re-load and start again all of my money intact.
5. Not many people use it, but the game fully supports the Eye-toy so you can see the people (or in my case see Darth Vader which I focus the Eye-toy on) and try to call their bluffs.

If you have an X-box or PS2 and especially if you are online and want a change of pace then I highly recomend this game, and after all it is only $20!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

I'm a Seqoya Farmer

I read a quote recently that being a youth worker is a lot like being a Seqoya farmer. A Seqoya farmer will never see the seeds he plants come to frutiation, and that is largely true with youth ministry. Every week I preach to kids in the morning, and every eveing I try to help the learn Biblical truth in a fun way. I also spend several hours a week just trying to build relationships with a wide variety of teens. The thing is that, will I actually see a lot of tangible growth in the time that I have them. Just like in trees, when they are young most of the growth is in the roots, not in the height, so outwardly it looks like there isn't much growth but underneat they are getting their roots in place. I have been thinking a lot about this lately, because I have been tempted by the thought "is this worth it?" Obviously the answer is a resounding yes. The fact that what I say seems to make no impact on their life makes me doubt it, but when I can really feel the Holy Spirit doing His thing, and when afterwards a teen who seemed to not be paying attention looks at me reflectly and says. "that was deep" I know I have to be doing something right. Anyway, here is a brief overview of the topics that I will be covering at youth group meeting for the next month or two. If you have any creative spurts and have ideas for things to do for these topics please, please let me know:

1/30 Anger

2/13 Spiritual Gifts: Part I

2/20 Spiritual Gifts: Part II

3/6 Big Questions: How can I really know God is real?

3/13 Big Questions: How could a loving God send people to hell?

Big Questions: Why does God allow suffering?

Big Questions: Which is right Creation or Evolution?

4/17 Big Questions: Which is right Creation or Evolution 2?

Saturday, January 22, 2005

My Childhood is nothing but Communist propaganda!

First there was the revelation that I discovered several years ago that the smurfs were a bunch of commies. Today, I stumbled on a website that shows me that mario was in league with Lenin! At least that is what the Internet says, and it must be true:

And it makes sense when you consider that after Mario the most popular nintendo game ever is . . Tetris. . .It is indeed a conspiracy

Friday, January 21, 2005

Come to the Dark Side . . .We have cookies

At least that is what a T-shirt I saw today said. Sniker Doodles aside, this is an issue I am considering. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a game I despertly need to play, and it is one that I will be starting this week. Now I know in the game there is a choice between Light and Dark, and I don't know what to chose. When it comes to my Role-playing I am usually the straight laced Captain America type, so it should be an easy decision. However, how many games actually let you go bad? I know the obvious answer is play it twice, but RPGs and replayability don't go well for me. With the exception of Champions of Norrath, I have not been able to bring myself to re-play an RPG (though I am wanting to play through Gladius again.) So I need your opinion, do I stay a part of the Jedi who have defended the galaxy for 1,000 generations, or do I learn the power of the dark side?

Saturday, January 15, 2005

It is official

This summer we will be fulfilling one of our dreams as a couple and going to Scotland together. Abigail as spent untold hours over the past 6 to 9 months reading all she could and signing up for every (and I mean every) mailing list she possible could. It finally paid off because she found really cheap tickets, so we are going! Today we are leaving to go to a bookstore to plan some specifics, but we do know that we will be spending the entire time in Scotland, and a lot of it will be in the northern parts.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Witch King returns!

I got my computer back today, which is a good thing. The better thing is that it didn't blow up when I restarted it. I know this doesn't apply to anyone who reads this, but I highly recommend Field's computer systems in Corydon. The guy is really cool. Not only did he test the computer to make sure it would work (and not charge for that), but when he tested it he mentioned that I had Firefox on it, and I said that one of the reasons I liked using it is that pop up spyware didn't bind to it, like IE. He installed an updated version of Adaware on the computer and removed . . .311 objects . . . Let this be a lesson to you, update frequently!

Monday, January 10, 2005

Revenge of the geek

If you know me, then you probably know I have a little obsession with a little story called Star Wars. Now really, I think it just barely counts as little obsession, especially compared to where it was like 5 years ago. However, I have recently indulged this obsession A LOT. First off, ever since I have been online enabled I have been playing a lot of Battlefront. . . probably to much. . . no actually I know to much. In addition to that I got some money for Christmas. I immediatly used some of it to get Knights of the Old Republic for the PC because target had it on sale (less than $15!). On Saturday we went to a bookstore. Theoretically we were suppose to be looking at stuff for a hypothetical trip to Scotland which Abigail did. However, I could not resist the siren call of Star Wars comics. So I read the entire Infinties series, which is where they take a small detail from the movies and change it. For example for a New Hope, Luke fails to destroy the Death Star. He then goes to Train with Yoda while Leia becomes evil. Eventually Leia and luke face off and, in the end Yoda crashes the Death Star on the Emperor's head. I also read vol. 1 of the Clone Wars. Finally, more money I was given for Christmas who couldn't find anything I would like was used to buy Star Wars novels, which is something I have wanted to do for some time. I got Republic Commando: Hard Contact which is a tie in to the upcoming video game and Dark Rendezvous which features Yoda. In addition to that, Wal-mart had a new batch of Star wars figures including random Cantian aliens. I can not pass up random aliens so I got Myo (a Cyclopes alien who appears for about 1.2 seconds in the cantina). This is a big deal because it is only like the 6th figure I have bought in about a year and a half. Finally, I have not been able to play it yet, but for Christmas Abigail got me the Star Wars minatures starter set. This is a collecitble game like Mech Warrior. I have read the rules and it is basically the d20 rpg system devoid of the roleplaying elements and streamlined for combat. If it turns out Abigail will play it with me ever, it very well could become very addicting.

Friday, January 07, 2005

The Good News and the Bad News

The good news is that my computer is on it's way to being fixed. I spent five days being jerked around by the people at Shutttle, who apperantly consists of three people who take turns picking up the phone after it has been on hold while they are busy playing Monopoly or something. After, finally getting the price of a new power supply and hearing how much they were jacking up the shipping, I got frustrated and decided to try another route. I called a local computer repair place, and he had a power supply in stock. I knew it wouldn't fit, but I was optimistic. Of course his power supply was to big to fit, but he did hook it up and we discovered that the computer does indeed still work and the motherboard was not damaged. He also found the needed part from one of his distributor websites. So I should have my computer back by Wednesday.

The bad news is that I have somehow or another contracted Pink Eye. I have no idea how, because I have not been around anyone who has it, but never the less my eye is pink. Incidently, I have always thought Pink eye to be the best of diseases, because you have to miss days due to how contagious it is, but it doesn't make you feel sick.

Hidden Paper

“What is truth?” This is the question that Pilate asked Jesus in contempt while trying him. While Pilate may not have been seriously seeking an answer, Christians have been seeking to fully answer and understand the answers to that question since the day that Pilate asked it. Questions related to truth, “existential questions” as Paul Tillich, might say are always one the mind of people, but a theologian has to do more than just name the questions. As Stanley Grentz points out “theology necessarily entails the quest for truth.” (Grentz 11) This leads the theologian back to the foundational question “what is truth?” For Christianity to have any sort of viable claim as a creed wroth believing in, then it must have a truth claim, and this truth claim must come directly from God or else it is not truth to begin with. The natural by product of claiming truth is that if something is inherently true that means that anything that counteracts the truth is untrue. This had led some modern day theologians to abandon the notion of truth altogether. One example of this is Michael Miller who prefers to deal with religious claims as statements of belief instead of truth (Miller 209). Such a line of reasoning can gain great traction in a religiously pluralistic society, and dealing with statements of beliefs over truth claims can do a great deal to open up religious dialogue. However, statements of belief are not strong enough to deal with what Tillich calls Ultimate concern. Tillich writes, “The religious concern is ultimate.” (Tillich 11) That which is ultimate requires ultimate consideration and ultimate answers, which can only be best expressed as truth. The semantic use of truth can be problematic, but when dealing with the existential questions, truth is the only word that best represents the gravity of what the answers entail. Historically, Christian thinkers have had little problem espousing their truth claims, and again the natural result of these claims is that the claims of other religions have to be wrong. It is from this line of thinking that C.S. Lewis accurately states that being a Christian means thinking that when other religious differ from Christianity then “Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic-there is only one right sum, and all other answers are wrong.” (Lewis 35) The truth that comes from God is absolute, and there is only one right sum. However, what Lewis fails to point out is that multiple equations can equal the same sum. The truth that comes from God, the sum of Lewis’ existential equation is right. Thus, the better question is not what is the truth, but how do people understand the truth that comes from God.
The truth that is from God is best understood as revelation. Revelation is the truth of God that God has revealed to creation. To properly address revelation there are two considerations that need to be taken into account. The first is the nature of revelation and the second is the source of revelation. In dealing with the nature of revelation there are some absolutely key concepts to understand. Naturally the first and most crucial aspect of revelation is that it comes from God, because revelation is God making God’s self known to creation. The second most crucial aspect of revelation is that there is interpretation to the revelation. Clark Williamson strongly makes this point: “Revelation cannot be separated from interpretation. We can not say, first there is revelation and then, later, the community interprets it. To name an event as revelatory is already to interpret it.” (Williamson 63) One of the fundamental aspects of God is that God is. When God reveals Godself to Moses in the Exodus account God gives God’s name as “I AM WHO I AM” or as any Bible worth its pages will include this name can also be translated as “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE”(Exodus 3:14). Scripture recognizes as a God who is, and if God always is then the simplest conclusion is that God is infinite. God’s infinity is in direct contrast to the finitude of creation. Thus when God reveals Godself to creation, it is the Infinite revealing Infinity to the finite. The natural result of this is that it impossible for the finite to fully grasp the infinite. That is to say, it is impossible for finite to know that it knows that it fully grasped the infinite. Thus, all revelation, and thus all truth, is understood as interpreted truth. The apostle Paul writes about this predicament, “"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12). The truth of God is revealed in revelation but creation can only see this revelation as a “poor reflection in a mirror.” The final aspect of the nature of revelation to be considered is to whom the revelation is revealed. Revelation is both simultaneously specific and general. Revelation must occur in a historic time and place. As Williamson points out: “Unless God gives it, there is no revelation; unless someone receives it, there is no revelation.” (Williamson 45) Revelation must be to a specific person or specific community in a specific context for it to be revelation. However, since revelation is God revealing Godself and God always is, then that means that the revelation always reveals Godself. Thus revelation is contextually applicable and eternally relevant. The eternal relevance of revelation means that revelation is general as well as specific. This line or reasoning does have its critics, including Tillich who wrote, “Revelation. . . is invariably revelation for someone in a concrete situation of concern. . .There is no revelation ‘in general’”. (Tillich 111) To better understand the function of general revelation it might be helpful to turn and consider the source for revelation.
If all revelation is interpretative, then there are sources from which interpreted revelation must be understood. These sources point towards revelatory truth and thus these sources hold authority over the formation of religious doctrines and creeds. Williamson argues that “God may reveal Godself in, through, or by way of whatever means or media God pleases.” (Williamson 51) Thus for Williamson revelation may come through any form that God chooses, and anything could be a source of understanding God’s revelation and thus God’s truth. Likewise Miller agrees with Williamson that these potential sources needed to be evaluated by certain criteria, namely the criteria of appropriateness, credibility, coherence, relevance, and moral plausibility (Miller 245). However, Grentz disagrees with this notion and claims that the “norms of theology” are three fold and include “the biblical message, the theological heritage of the church, and the thought-forms of the historical-cultural context.” (Grentz 16) Much of protestant Christian thought in recent years as turned to the slightly misleading named Wesleyan quadrilateral. The quadrilateral holds that scripture, reason, tradition, and experience are valid sources for understanding revelation and forming religious formulations. In recent years the quadrilateral has been abused to point that some students of theology treat all four sources as equals. John Wesley, for whom the quadrilateral is named, would never have gone for such a notion. Wesley considered scripture primary, and on multiple occasions he declared it the only authority (Maddox 36). The quadrilateral does have its problems, as John Warrick Montgomery explains, “All multiple-source views of the subject matter of theology are, however unstable. They tend to give preference to one source rather than to another.” (Montgomery 281) This fatal flaw in a multiple source view like the quadrilateral is revealed when multiple sources disagree. When the sources are in disagreement then one must decide which source has primacy, and is thus the single source. Thus, the question is what is the best single source, and out of the choices given by the quadrilateral the answer has to be scripture. In matters relating to God reason, tradition and experience all stand on scripture and are validated or invalidated by scripture. Grentz acknowledges this assertion, “Because the Bible is the universally acknowledged foundational document of the Christian church, its message functions as the central norm for the systematic articulation of the faith of that community.” (Grentz 17) Remember because God is infinite and God’s revelation is eternally relevant that means that God’s revelation is general, and that means that scripture is not only the source for understanding but it is also the general revelation of God.
Grentz agrees with this revelatory view of scripture. Grentz makes note of three ways in which the Bible is revelatory. First, the Bible is “derivative revelation.” That is the Bible records the ways that God revealed Godself in historical settings namely to the people of Israel and in the historic person of Jesus of Nazareth. Second the bible is mediate revelation. This means that the Bible records the essence of God character and appropriately reveals that to the reader. Finally the bible is “function revelation.” The scripture themselves are God’s revelation. This means that scripture points “beyond itself” and reveals God. (Grentz 396-397) As mentioned previously, truth is God revealing God’s self. Thus, the scripture can and should be understood as truth.
The scripture as truth is inerrant. That is to say the Bible as it is God’s revelation and God’s truth is without error. Thus, the bible to be God’s truth must be fully inspired by God, and for the bible to be a general source of revelation it must be absolutely authoritative in all theological matters. If the Bible is indeed to be considered as revelatory then it must be solely inspired by God. This is not to say that the Bible miraculously fell from the sky. The Bible was written in historic settings, but this does not mean it is not inspired. This returns to the argument on general revelation. The Bible was contextually relevant as specific revelation and is eternally applicable as general revelation. The Bible itself also argues for its inspiration and authority. Perhaps the most blatant and well known example of this is 2 Timothy 3:16 which states, “All scripture is God breathed.” 2 Peter also testifies to the inspiration and authority of scripture, “Above all you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Spirit. “ (2 Peter 1:20-21) Because scripture itself considers itself inspired, that means scripture has to be treated as revelation. To deny that, denies the validity of certain scripture, and if some scripture is denied then the whole book has to be tossed out as a source. If one is take the Bible seriously as a source of theology, then it must be accepted in full or denied in full. Obviously, the argument here takes the bible seriously as a source which means that its claims of inspiration need to be taken seriously. Thus, “We find that the Bible draws its authority and inerrancy from the indisputable fact that it is inspired by God.” (Challies)
If the scripture is inspired by God then it is God revealing God’s self which does mean scripture is truth and as God’s truth must be inerrant. This also means that scripture is revelation which means that scripture is open to interpretation. This causes a return to the Wesleyan quadrilateral and cast the thought process in a light that probably lines up much better with the views of Wesley. Scripture, as God’s revelation, is the only source of authority, but this authority needs to be interpreted to be understood and it through reason, tradition, and experience that this interpretation is viable.
For Wesley reason was the primary way of defending his theological assertions. Maddox summarizes Wesley’s own position on reason, “Wesley characteristically restricted the role of reason in theology to organizing and drawing inferences from revelation. He showed little concern for providing a rational foundation for the claims of revelation.” (Maddox 42) Wesley used reason as a means of interpreting revelation found in scripture, but not as a theological source in itself.
Tradition can be a troubling method of interpretation, because it is hard to define what constitutes tradition. Christian tradition can not just be the history of the church, for church history contains unspeakable acts and doctrines that were used to destroy and oppress. Thus, a further filter of interpretation needs to be applied to Christian history to determine what from the historical record can be used as tradition. The best filter to be used is one that Wesley applied to determine if the Holy Spirit was present, and that is the spiritual fruits: “love, joy, peace patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Kinghorn 142) Christian history and doctrines become viable traditions useful as a means of interpretation only when the fruit of the spirit is found within.
The final useful tool for interpreting scripture is experience. In Wesleyan terms, this experience is best summed up in the idea of assurance. A major aspect of Wesleyan theology is the personal knowledge that one is assured of their salvation. This assurance is a work of the Spirit and thus must be personally experienced. However, this personal experience is not revelation on its own, because the experience only confirms what is already in scripture. Using experience to confirm scripture was common for Wesley. Maddox writes, “His typical way of expressing this was that experience confirmed scripture. Actually something more fundamental was taking place; experience was being used to test proposed interpretations of scripture.” (Maddox 46)
God has revealed Godself to creation and by doing so God has revealed truth. In C.S. Lewis’ equation this truth is the sum to the problem, but how individuals get to that sum is open to interpretation. Despite the assertions of other theologians, this argument holds that scripture is sole method through which God revealed Godself. God’s revelation in the past is recorded in scripture, and God’s revelation in the present and future through the Spirit is grounded in scripture. Despite the assurance that believers have from scripture that scripture will reveal Godself, there is still the issue of interpretation, and interpretation is the questions of figuring out what the equation is that equals the sum of God’s truth. Because all people are finite beings, we can never truly “know that we know” that our theological interpretation is correct. Theology is a matter of intellect but it is bound to matters of the heart, so even though it is impossible to ever know, one must put their feet down on the most solid rock they can find by interpreting scripture through the lens of reason, tradition, and experience. Only by doing so can theology ever successfully inform faith.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

What makes computers work?

The answer to the question is smoke. Because when the smoke leaves the computer it stops working. I sadly, now know this from experience because on Saturday our computer blew smoke and stopped working. Apperently, the power supply burn out/blew up/ committed Hara-Kiri I am not sure which but it is definatly and literally fried. The good news is that according to one computer expert person, when the power supply goes it usually does not damage anything else. We should get a replacement power supply in less than two weeks then we will know. For the time being, I brought back my computer from church (which is the old one I used during college).