Saturday, October 27, 2007

Happy Halloween!

This whole post is really just to show off the Pumpkin I carved a while ago. (I made pumpkin bread and garlicy pumpkin seeds as well. Yum!) I was pretty proud of this little guy, he had a lot of personality. But, he rotted really fast, and started attracting flies, so he's in the garbage now.

Moving on to something overly romanticized:

Halloween. It's time for little kids to put baby powder in their hair and walk around with bed sheets on and ask neighbors for candy. I have always really enjoyed Halloween, and I'm glad to be at a place in my life where I'm thinking about what my little daughter will be doing in a few years. And how much sweet, sweet candy I'll get when that cute little girl goes begging for sweets. Mmmmm....

Things in the Elek house dorm are going pretty well lately. Rachel is having a lot of pain right now because her pubic bones are separating. (Because the bones are a circle, when they spread in one place, the pinch in the other.) It's really painful, and it's hard to see her in pain. I don't know how I'll do in labor... but I'm pretty sure I'll be in a puddle of my own drool on the cold tile floor through most of the process. Sorry Rach.

Actually, as I was typing this, Rach touched my arm and said that she thought she felt her first Braxton-Hicks contraction! YAHOO! So, I guess we're officially on the home stretch.... here goes nothing.

Anyway, I just wanted to stop in and send a quick update saying things (other than the pubic pain) are still going pretty well. We look forward to bringing little Norah home, though it's pretty scary to think about becoming a Dad. I think I realized how scared I am when I came home yesterday and Rachel was balling on the couch--snot running down her face and everything. I asked her what was wrong and she cried saying "I'm just watching A Baby Story." I laughed, and sat down with her to watch the last bit of the episode. It's just crazy to watch something like that and realize that I'm going to be in a hospital room just like that in just a few weeks. I can't wait, but man, I'm nervous. Ready or not, though, here goes.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I know sports don't really matter very much. And I know professional baseball is easily among the most corrupt games in the sports world. But, it still sucks to be a Cleveland fan. Again.

When I was a boy, I watched the Browns come so close. Then, a little while later I watched the Cavs come so close. Then, a little while later, I watched the Indians come so close. Then, a little while later, I watched the Cavs come so close. Then, a few minutes ago, I watched the Indians come so close.

I am SO sick of "Next Year."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Why Study World Religions

Recently I have made up my mind to obtain a Ph.D. in the History of World Religions. Many people have asked me why I want to do this, and the question deserves an honest response. Answering the question requires an adequate understanding of the motives behind the question itself. It is my belief that people who ask me “Why are you going to study World Religions” are really asking one of three things:

1. Why World Religions? Those who ask the question this way, are merely curious as to why I am interested in World Religions.

2. Why World Religions? Those who ask this question believe that there is a difference between the study of Christian things and the study of Non-Christian things. Devoting oneself to the Non-Christian things robs one of the opportunity to engage in the Christian tasks of Evangelism and Devotion.

3. Why World Religions? People asking the question this are usually trying to caution me against learning about World Religions because they are afraid that Academic exposure to the study of World Religions will degrade my orthodoxy and transform me into a Universalist.

I will address these three very different questions in reverse order.

In response to the Third Question: Firstly, allow me to say that Universalim holds no water. It is not possible for all religions to be correct. If all religions were correct, then it would be true that Jesus was God, and that Jesus did not exist, and that Jesus was a prophet. This is a logical impossibility. It is not even an antinomy, it is the Kantian non-entity. Impossible. Universalim makes no sense whatsoever. To say that everyone eventually meets God even with incorrect beliefs is not Universalism, this is either a lazy form of Buddhism, or a nameless Religion.

Secondly, some Christians fear that the study of other faiths entices Christians to leave the Church. There is merit to this belief, because many Christians who study other faiths end up leaving the Church. However, fault the individual for this, I fault the Church. I have taken part in many Christian worship opportunities that I felt were spiritually bankrupt. In my opinion, someone who has been exposed to authentic Christianity will not leave it for authentic Buddhism, Atheism, Hinduism, etc. However, someone who has been exposed to bankrupt Christianity would justifiably exchange that for another faith.

In response to the Second Question: With all due respect, this is a form of Dualism which Christ did not seem to support. Christ did not seem to find a gap between the sacred and the profane as did we. This is not to say that Christ did not believe in sin, he most certainly did. He most certainly believed in the devil, and in evil. However, Christ seemed to think these things were spiritual in nature, and not physical. Christ did not think that being a fisherman, or a prostitute prohibited one from becoming a true disciple. When describing the Kingdom of God, Christ did not say that Heaven was like a great worship service, he said that it was like a farmer, yeast, mustard, treasure, a merchant, a net, a king, a landowner, a banquet planner, and ten virgins. Christ compared the most sacred of places to the most ordinary of places. I do not believe that there are “secular” career paths, and “christian” career paths. I do not believe there are “secular” studies and “Christian” studies. Christ is ruler of all, and therefore everything we do should be Christian. We should not have our Christian practices and our everyday practices. Everything we do should be Christian. If my study or my practice prohibits me from doing my Christian duties of Evangelism and Devotion, I must blame myself, not my field of study. Likewise, engaging in a “Christian” field of study will not encourage me to Evangelize or Devote myself more than if I engage in any other field of study. The power of Christianity is in my love, not the book I’m reading.

In Response to the First Question: I find World Religions fascinating. I am blown away by the devotion others show toward their stories and myths. I am amazed that even today, people all across the globe are devoting every moment of their lives, every decision, every action to a theoretical construct which can never be proven true or false. I am fascinated that whole civilizations have been founded on hierarchies of myths. I am just passionately driven to understanding what Religion is, why it compels mankind, and how it has impacted the History of Civilization. I will never be able to fully study these things, but I would be remiss if I failed to engage the question merely because of its enormity. I want to study world religions for the same reason that Olympic swimmers want to swim.

And, (if I am honest about my understanding of Scripture) I want to study the History of World Religions because Christ wants me to study the History of World Religions. Christ is the supreme sovereign over my life, and I believe my passion for World Religions comes from Him. And, I would be doing myself a severe disservice were I to ignore that call.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tribe Wins! Tribe Wins! Tribe Wins!

I was curious about the MacBook's "Time Lapse" setting, so I videotaped myself watching the Tribe Game.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Update: Busy Busy

So... it's been a while since I've posted, but I'm sure you can all forgive me. Here's the top ten of things that have been keeping me busy:

1. GREs
I've studied for the GRE's twice in my life. The first time Heather Battles and I "studied" at Panera Bread every Tuesday. She for the MCAT and me for the GRE. She's an M.D. now, and as of last week, I hadn't taken the GREs yet. So, I had Rachel sign me up, and I took them. I really should have studied more, but I spent most of my study time preparing for the Math section. I figured it would be better for me to relearn the rules for exponents and statistics than to try to memorize every twenty dollar word in the English Language hoping to see fifteen of them on the test. So, after a few days of Math review (and realizing that a Math prep test took me just under 12 hours to complete.) I drove up to Pittsburgh on Thursday and just took the test. I got a 570 on the verbal, and a 600 on the math. I'm not sure if those are good scores or not, but everything I've looked at say they are anywhere from slightly below average, to slightly above average. So that's good. They aren't out of the ball park, but they probably won't make any one think I'm mentally handicapped when I apply.

2. Grad School
I'm applying for Grad Schools right now. I have to speak with some of my old Professors from Malone to get some advice (if you're an old Professor from Malone, and you have advice... ) but right now I'm looking at University of Chicago, Duke, Princeton, and Boston University. My hope is to study the history of World Religions wherever I go. U Chicago has a pretty great reputation, and I hope to study there. But it's ULTRA expensive, and I'll need some serious fellowship opportunities if it's going to work out. We'll see. If you have any other ideas let me know... I'm somewhat afraid that the GRE scores will knock me out of the competition for some of the schools I've listed.

3. Norah and Rachel
We just had our most recent Sonogram today. It's so neat to see her moving around and sucking her thumb in there. We're reading her Peter Pan right now. I bought a beautifully illustrated copy a few years ago, and Rach and I are reading it to Norah when we go to bed. She seems to like it and kicks around a lot while I read.

4. Work
Work is nuts right now. Lots and lots and lots going on. I've had to do some serious dancing around the "regular office politics" lately, and there have been some factors that make work very difficult from time to time. I can't go into specifics, but that's been eating away at my time for sure.

5. New Database
I'm working on a new database to house the information for the Student Conduct process. Our old database was in a program called FileMaker Pro. It wasn't a very good program, and was very difficult to use. Once the program was set up, we couldn't access the data very easily, so we are in the process of switching to Microsoft Access. Because no one in the office (including me) knows how to use Access, I've taken it upon myself to learn the program and set up the database. So I've spent a few nights and days curled up next to the University's thirteen hundred page edition of "How do Use Access" learning how to create a viable database. I think I'm there and when I get the kinks out of how to secure the database on the server, it'll be up and running.

6. Learning to cook indian food
Yum. I love it. But it takes a very, very long time to create curries sometimes. We went to an Indian food class a while back, and I can't wait to get back to the Indian grocery so I can pick up some curry leaves, and "estrogen." (We didn't know what this particular spice was, but Hari kept calling it "Estrogen." Later we learned that he was actually saying that the spice's flavor was "astringent." Seeing as I haven't grown boobs or anything I can only assume that it was "astringent" and not "Estrogen.")

7. Reading all the books you have to read before you can have a baby. Baby Wise... Baby Signs... How to be a Daddy... THE Book for First Time Daddy... The Baby Name Bible... (We're done with that one) The Father's Survival Guide... Jesus and Pacifism... All the books you need to read in order to qualify as a guy who can change a diaper without breaking the kid. I think I have a long way to go, but at least I now know a heck of a lot about breast milk, moisture wicking gel, and how big FREAKING HUGE 10 cm is.

8. Watching the Browns
Go browns. Seriously... we're looking like a real team. ESPN even said that the game against the Pats would be a good one to watch! Really?! Someone told people to watch Cleveland? Wow.

9. Watching the Indians
BAM! Take that Joe Torre... Kenny Lofton's smiling his rear end off because you wouldn't start him because he's black, and now he knocks you right in the mouth with two hits and four RBIs and ties the record for post season stolen bases all in the same night. Way to go Cleveland... no one should be able to compete with the pay roll of the Greedy Yanks, and yet here you are, showing "The Man" how it feels to get kicked in the shins with steel toed boots... thirteen times. Keep at it boys!

Indians over the Yanks in 4! I said it!

10. Death of Will Ruberg
Will Ruberg passed away last week. He was a great guy, and was dating one of the students that Rachel and I are working closely with. Rachel and I met him on our second New Orleans trip. He came out to help rebuild the city, and we later learned that he lived in the city when he was a kid. At first I was intimidated by him, because he just looked like such a "cool" kid, but later I realized what a fun and energetic guy he really was. I liked him a ton. Needless to say, his death is a serious blow. We're working with Kate (his girlfriend) to try to help her cope... but honestly, how do you possibly "cope" with something like that. I can't imagine being in her shoes... it's just terrible. Please be praying for the Ruberg's and Kate.

That's will on the far Right. Look at that smile.
We'll miss you Will.

I'm finished with this post, and I can't help but think how terrible it is that I don't spend more time talking about him. I'm sorry. This isn't meant to be a memior for Will, just a description of what's going on in my life right now... it seems a very selfish way to talk about him. I'm sorry Will, but I know you wouldn't take any offense.