Friday, March 31, 2006

Prayer Is Unhelpful

According to a study led by Dr. Herbert Benson, people who were prayed for by strangers did not fare any better than people who were not prayed for. The study took place over 10 years and involved over 1800 patients. In the study, 1/3 of the patients were told that strangers were praying for them, 1/3 of the patients were not told that strangers were praying for them and 1/3 of the patients were told that strangers may or may not be praying for them. Researchers then gave the patient's first name and first initial of their last name to people in three different Christian prayer communities and asked those people to pray for the strangers. After doing this study for ten years, those who were prayed for did not fare any better than those who were not prayed for, and those who knew they were being prayed for actually had 9% more complications after surgery.

The study said nothing about people who are receiving prayers from relatives or friends, and said nothing about the power of individual prayer. The only thing this study evaluated was the power of intercessory prayer between strangers. The faith basis of the patients was not divulged.

All in all, I find this study very interesting. What does this tell me about prayer? If I, as a committed Christian examine these results and see that they contradict with what I would like them to say, will that do me any good? No, instead, I look at these results and I see what they are telling me. Maybe this is not the truth about the conclusions that this test draws, but the results of this test seem to conclude some things for me:

1. It appears as though there are a lot of people offering a lot of prayer that falls on deaf ears. The question is, does God refuse to listen to so many prayers, and if so, why?

2. Praying for people because you want to prove that prayer is effective won't work.

3. Let's be honest. Attempting to scientifically study the effects of prayer will always prove inconclusive because the power of prayer is based on immeasurable factors. Either Scripture is right, and the power of prayer is based on the authenticity of faith, something that is impossible to measure imperically, or Scripture is wrong, and prayer is useless. Even after an exhaustinve test, we still don't know much.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Getting Credit Card Applications in the Mail?

If you are like me, then you might be getting more and more credit card applications in the mail each week. I was researching into this bothersome junkmail and it turns out: the four major credit processing companies, Inovis, Transunion, Equifax, and Experion are all permitted to sell your contact information to companies for promotional offers. Everyone in America has to have a credit score, these four companies keep up to date information on you, and sell that information to credit card and insurance companies. All of this is perfectly legal, and pretty annoying for me.

Well, I called Transunion and asked them to take me off of those lists, and they did. (They have to, it's the law.) They also gave me a phone number anyone can call to remove their names from these lists. I called the number, and now my name and contact information is blocked from credit card companies for use in promotional offers.

If you are getting these mailings, and don't want to any more, call (888) 567-8688. You will go through an automated process to update your mailing information, and then choose to have that information blocked from being sent to credit card or insurance companies for the next 5 years. That means no more junk mail from credit cards or insurance companies for the next 5 years. This will not block companies from checking your credit score, which you'll more than likely find helpful, but it will restrict them from being able to send you junk mail.

That's all. I was bothered by the junk mail, and found a way to stop it. So, I figured I'd pass the information on. There you are.

I feel like I've stopped thinking.

This job is really big. I have a ton of work to do every day, and I rarely get free time to myself. Being so busy has taken me away from having much time to myself. I am always around college students who seem to only think about what is in their best interests, and I am no longer having deep discussions with my friends. All in all, I feel like I have stopped thinking about things. I used to be a very inward thinking person who was constantly examining the world around him and thinking about all sorts of deep crap. Lately, all I can think about is "When am I going to see Rachel again?" and "When is this semester going to be over?" I know that this is largely because I am excited about getting married, and I work about twelve hours a day. I just wish I could find some more time to be reflective again. I want to read a deep book again. I want to write a paper again... I want to be an intellectual again. I guess I haven't really stopped being an intellectual, but sometimes it feels that way.

Pardon me, I have to go play Hapland 3. If you haven't played Hapland 1 or Hapland 2 yet, I would recommend loosing an hour or twelve of your life clicking on these stick figures. It is possibly the single most frustrating and addicting thing I have ever done in my life. And I used to smoke cigarettes!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Iraq Documents

So, this is interesting: The US Government has claimed that they have no evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in Iraq at the time of invasion. They have also decided to allow us to view the information for ourselves. If you go to you can find a listing of a documents and audio tapes discovered by American intelligence. It's a ton of stuff to sort through, and almost everything is in Arabic, but this is the first time our Government has posted such sensative information so quickly after a major event. I can only assume that the political motivation is something like: "We already told everyone we were wrong, now if we show them why we are wrong, some of them will come to a different conclusion." And so far, this strategy is proving correct. Many right-wing analysts are already claiming that the documents incontrivertibly show that Hussein had WMD and planned on using them against America.

I don't know what the documents say, and I don't plan on reading them all, but I thought this was interesting, and figured I would post information about it.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Happy day.

I just wanted to write and say that I had a deliriously happy day today. It isn't often that I am irrationally joyful for an entire day, but today I was. I'm not even sure why. I am sick with a chest cold, my Fiance just left and I won't get to see her for a few weeks, I just got back from an excellent weekend and now I'm at work again, it took over five hours to file my federal income taxes, I didn't sleep much last night, I missed dinner, and it's Monday. But for some reason, all day long, I was just skipping glad. I really don't get it. All those things together should mean that I hate the world today, but... not the case.

I just had a really great day today.

That's all. Now, I'm tired and I'm going to bed.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Rachel, You're not going to like this post.

Rachel doesn't like it when I go on rants in my blog. She say's I sound mad. I'm not sure I like it either, but at any rate... this is what I want to say:

I am upset with the way the problems in this country are being addressed. And I'm uspet with how I'm addressing those concerns myself. Here's the thing:

I just went to a blog and read a post which was essentially a string of things that are wrong with America. Poor people. Lots of Guns. Blacks in Prison. Violence in School. Prejudice. Economic persecution... etc... and I'm sick of the talk.

Yesterday Kerry Kennedy came to campus at WJU to talk about her book which apparently has a whole lot to say about helping the poor. Several students skipped out on their committment to do a bread run so they could go hear Kerry talk about helping the poor. They gave up plans to help the poor in favor of hearing someone talk about helping the poor. Ugh.

I know I do this sort of thing a lot, and I'm doing it right now. But I am just a little sick of the talk. I guess what I'm saying is: when it comes to talking about things like poverty and injustice, put up or shut up.

Monday, March 13, 2006

New Technology Found

So, I just now found out how to link to a website. Now, you might not find this all that intriguing but I certainly do. I mean, I feel like everytime I go to someone else's blog I see these links and I'm always jealous. I think to myself, "How come that guy is so cool he gets to have links in his blogs."

At any rate. I'm just happy to have found the way to link people to other parts of the web from this part of the web. Now I think my blog is going to be much more useful for people, and maybe people will start coming here more often to read things.

Maybe not.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A New Look

I realized today that my blog is over a year old. So, I decided to give it a new look. Let's hope this works.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

More on GW's Folks

It appears as though George Bush's Domestic Policy Advisor was arrested this week. It appears as though he walked into Target with an empty Target bag. He then put merchandise off of the shelf, into the bag, and went to the courtesy desk. At the courtesy desk, he claimed that he did not have a receipt, but wanted to return the merchandise. He was credited the money and left. A store clerk caught him doing this, and not knowing who he was, reported him to the police. Police investigations have turned up over $5,000 credited to his credit card from similar transactions.

Funny. The Domestic Policy Advisor is a petty theif. Boy am I glad GW is in charge.

How much longer till 2008?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Teacher Censored

A teacher in Denver, Colorado was put on unpaid leave today because of a lecture he gave concerning President Bush's State of the Union Address. In the lecture concerning the address, the teacher said that on the recording, some of Bush's speech "sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler used to say. We're the only ones who are right, everyone else is backwards and our job is to conquer the world and make sure that they all live just like we want them to."

This reminded me of when I told my students that the Boston Tea Party was a terrorist act and I had parents calling in demanding that my boss reprimand me.

I just wanted to throw that out there. Bush may not be Hitler, but his Presidency is laced with crap I would only have expected from crappy 80's political fiction. Our Government is spying on citizens. (I actually have a resident whose father was put in prison because he said "Allah" too often on the phone. His uncle was shipped back to Syria.) Our Government is involved in an unprovoked war. Our Government has denied that Terrorists fall under the Geneva Conventions and therefore it is legal to torture them. All in all, I don't think Bush is equivalent to Hitler, but we should be reminded of where a destructive regime like that of the Nazi's began. We must learn from history. The minute society starts thinking it's okay to fire history teachers because they told the class that the President's speech sounded a bit like propaganda... I don't know... it's just a scary road to go down.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Wedding Plans

Can I just say that planning a wedding sucks?

I talked to my buddy Sean the other day and he told me that planning the wedding was one of the best times of his life.

I wish it were so for me. This is very, very hard.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Phenomenon

So, if you sit down and type crap for a minute or two on your computer, you'll get something like this:


At first this might just look like a string of incoherent letters... but there is something sinister lurking here. There is a code here that tells us something very, very important.

Here, I'll help. Take a look again at the sting of seemingly incoherent letters. I'll capitalize the important ones for you.


Just so you realize that I'm not talking about something that is not a real phenomenon... let me illustrate just how common "The Phenomenon" is. Notice how many times "The Phenomenon" occurs with slight breaks in our string of "incoherent" letters.


Hmm... convniced? "The Phenomenon" is real. There's nothing you can do to deny that. The question is, "What does 'The Phenomenon' mean?" Good question friend.

If you take the letters asdf and convert them to morse code, you get this:

.- ... -.. ..-.

Not all that interesting. Yet.

If you convert that into binary code (with the .'s being 0's and the -'s being 1's) you get this:


Still not intrigued? Well, it just so happens that if you convert 010001000010 into its decimal form, you get:


So, asdf stands for 1090. Hmm... things are heating up. What is the significance of 1090?

The year 1090 just happens to be 2 years after Christodoulos of Patmos, supported by Emperor Alexius I Komnenos, founded the monastery of Saint John the Theologian on Patmos. Remember, the guy's name is Christodoulous and he was from Patmos (the island St. John was shipwrecked on when he wrote Revelations the Christian book about the end of the world) and he founded the monestary for St. John on the isle of Patmos. Does 1090 really connect to Christodoulous? Well, Christopher Sholes the inventor of QWERTY (the name of our keyboard layout) gave us more signs that he wanted us to look toward Christodoulous. See, the year 1090 is also the year that Yusuf ibn Tashfin conquered Granada. Home of the Moorish palace "Alhambra" which was the exact same place that Christopher Columbus went to ask Queen Isabella for money to support his trip across the sea. Mr. Sholes obviously wanted us to catch the link between Christophers, asdf, and the end of the world.

So, what does asdf tell us about the end of the world? Web developers know that asdf is the most common string of letters someone will hit if they are just playing around on the internet. Web developers have to submit keywords to search engines for their sights. In order to catch people who are just goofing around, many web developers submit the letters asdf as one of their keywords. As a result, if you search for asdf on Google, you will find over five million websites. What does this have to do with the end of the world?

Well, "The Phenomenon" is obviously tied to the internet. And the internet is also called the World Wide Web. (Which is where the www comes from.) In the Hebrew language, every letter also represents a number. The Hebrew number equivalent of "w" is the number 6. So, the World Wide Web, www, in Hebrew, is "666." This is the mark of the beast. And St. John's book of Revelation tells us that the beast will be marked 666 and everyone in the world will buy things through the mark of the beast. Internet purchasing has gone through the roof, and we are all buying things through the mark of the beast.

So, what does "The Phenomenon" tell us? ASDF tells us nothing less than "The Internet is the Anti-Christ. The Anti-Christ is here. The end of the world is upon us. If you buy anything on the internet, you will go to hell."

I guess I should write a book or something.

For those of you to whom a point must be made with a sledge hammer: What I am really saying is that people who write books like "The Davinci Code" and "The Left Behind" series are just playing clever games. asdf means nothing. And if you really think that the painting of a red headed man behind Jesus in Leonardo Davinci's "The Last Supper" means that Jesus wasn't God, then you probably shouldn't buy anything on the Internet.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ash Wednesday

So, today is Ash Wednesday. The beginning of Lent.

Traditionally, everyone in the church wore ashes on Ash Wednesday. The palm fronds from last year's Palm Sunday were burned in the church on Wednesday morning, and then a priest would place a cross of ashes on every attendants head at the end of morning mass. The attendant wore the ashes throughout the day, and after sundown, returned to the church to have the ashes washed off. The ashes served as a sign to the wearer of his or her own mortality, and was a sign of mourning. The parishoner was in mourning not only for his or her sins, but also for the upcoming death of Christ on the cross.

I'm not sure why, but celebrating Ash Wednesday is much less popular for Protestants than it is for Roman Catholics. On Ash Wednesday, even now, many Roman Catholics will go to mass in the morning, and wear ashes throughout the day.

Three years ago, when I found out about the Catholic practice of wearing ashes on Ash Wednesday, I decided to do so myself. Because I am not Catholic, I didn't want to go to mass to have them placed on my head, so I just did it myself. That morning, I wrote down some sins that I have been struggling with, and burned them in a bowl on the porch. I then donned the ashes and went through the day. That day was a very powerful day for me. I was constantly aware of the ashes on my head, and was made constantly aware of my sins, and was therefore in near constant prayer. When I finally washed the ashes off at the end of the day, I felt the relief that I think we should feel when we realize just how deep our forgiveness goes.

Wearing ashes that day affected me so strongly, that I have taken to wearing ashes on every Ash Wednesday. In some ways, I feel stupid for wearing ashes, because my ceremony lacks the sacramental overtones of the Catholic Church. In the Catholic Church there is a big mass where the palm fronds from last year's Palm Sunday are burned in a sacramental dispenser and then the priest mixes in holy water and holy oil while saying four ancient prayers and then burns incense next to the ashes for two hours before he can begin dispensing them to parishoners. I put them on myself in the kitchen this morning after burning a piece of paper in an old coffee pot, but that's okay. Maybe my little ritual would be more meaninful to me if I went to church and had more ceremonially blessed ashes placed on me, maybe not.

In any case, wearing the ashes and fasting on this day help me to remember how fragile my life is, how dependent I am upon God, and how sinful I am. Though I don't usually see a whole lot of value in wallowing in your own sin and guilt, doing so one day out of the year seems, to me, appropriate. And so, today I'm wearing ashes again.

While these ashes might be helpful to me, and they may make me feel good the next day, I have to remember how useless this tradition really is. I have to keep in mind the words of God seriously, who through Isaiah wrote: "Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?"

The day these ashes serve to tell the world I'm pious instead of telling me that I'm sinful is the day I stop wearing ashes on Ash Wednesday. Hopefully, by the end of the day today, I'll be more conscious of things in my life that I need to change.