Tuesday, August 31, 2004

It appears that a sinkhole is forming across the street from my office. And a water main may be busted, since there is a lot of water coming up from the street.

Curiously, one of the depressed (elevation-wise, not emotion-wise) areas is right where that dead pigeon was this morning. Coincidence?
On the way to the office this morning, I had to step around a deceased pigeon, sprawled across the sidewalk. Eww!!

While checking my e-mail first thing this morning, I absent-mindedly took a sip from my large mug (which I use for water). Unfortunately, it was only after drinking that I remembered that I hadn't refilled it this morning. Ugh!!

Let's hope the rest of the day is not as gross.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Making the Grade

"School days, school days, dear old golden rule days."

I've always thought that song was a bit weird-- when has the education of young minds (in the past century, at least) EVER been about "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" ? High school, in my experience, was always a one-upmanship of getting the best grades for yourself, achieving the highest awards, regardless of how many others you trample in your path to greatness. Parents pushing kids to study more, study harder-- or, on the opposite spectrum, kids who didn't care, doing as little as they can to get by, not caring whether that hinders or helps their fellow classmates.

The world of academia seems to be the same way. Cutthroat. Successful publications. Talks. Presentations. C.V.'s and all that jazz. Of course, with my introduction to graduate school over the summer and now in the fall, I think sometimes, students DO put others first in their studies-- bonding with fellow classmates seems to counteract the individualistic success-only trend.

Take for instance, my cohort of 27 students in the TEEMS program. We were yoked together over the summer under tremendous truckloads of reading material, projects, papers, deadlines, silly Powerpoint Presentations, and a tormentuous TA. Now, in our second semester and looking ahead to student teaching in October, we've become a fairly unified group -- we offer textbooks to each other at better-than-bookstore deals, take trains together, carpool, share study tips and study sessions, and provide for those missing from class before they even ask. Admittedly, we are looking out for our own grades and making sure we get our work done first, but it seems much more of a communal society than regular graduate programs where students are only concerned about impressing each other with their wealth of knowledge, writing the most intellectually surprising theses, or pandering to professors. I think this is because we all want to be teachers first, not academics. In our own way, we're preparing to respect our students by respecting each other, just as we prepare to teach students by giving mock lessons to each other in class.

Maybe my introspection comes from re-reading Robinson Crusoe for my 18th Century Fiction class. He does quite a bit of philosophizing in between journal entries and I'm afraid it's rubbing off on me.

Or, perhaps this bit of educational reminiscing comes from our professor's request that we bring a high school yearbook to class on Wednesday. That's a scary thought. I was a complete [pick a Screech-like adjective-- nerd, geek, dweeb, etc.] in high school. Do I really want that fact to be known through photographic evidence? I suppose it's all part of being in a community-- trusting each other with pieces of our past. And since we have quite a few older graduate students, I'm sure we'll get to see some interesting hairstyles, at least. That should prove amusing!

Friday, August 27, 2004

We saw an ad on TV for the upcoming release of The Passion of the Christ, and apparently, the DVD "can be yours forever." Which raises the important theological question:

Will DVD players in the new creation be that back compatible?

Thursday, August 26, 2004

I need to find a new instrument

This is pretty crazy.

I do have a charango at home, but maybe it's time to find something more obscure to pave my way to virtuoso-dom.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Calvin, on the use of God's good gifts

Let this be our principle, that we err not in the use of the gifts of Providence when we refer them to the end for which their author made and destined them, since he created them for our good, and not for our destruction. No man will keep the true path better than he who shall have this end carefully in view. Now then, if we consider for what end he created food, we shall find that he consulted not only for our necessity, but also for our enjoyment and delight. Thus, in clothing, the end was, in addition to necessity, comeliness and honour; and in herbs, fruits, and trees, besides their various uses, gracefulness of appearance and sweetness of smell. Were it not so, the Prophet would not enumerate among the mercies of God “wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine,” (Ps. 104:15). The Scriptures would not everywhere mention, in commendation of his benignity, that he had given such things to men. The natural qualities of things themselves demonstrate to what end, and how far, they may be lawfully enjoyed. Has the Lord adorned flowers with all the beauty which spontaneously presents itself to the eye, and the sweet odour which delights the sense of smell, and shall it be unlawful for us to enjoy that beauty and this odour? What? Has he not so distinguished colours as to make some more agreeable than others? Has he not given qualities to gold and silver, ivory and marble, thereby rendering them precious above other metals or stones? In short, has he not given many things a value without having any necessary use?
(Institutes III.x.2)

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The wheels on the train go round and round...

Trains have wheels, right?

Anyway, I rode MARTA for the first time today, the second day of my second semester back in school. You'd think after living in Atlanta for two years now that I would've had the opportunity ride public transportation before, but the closest I've gotten until today was picking someone up at the local station.

Though our church is downtown, it's easier to drive when Gaines has to bring his guitar and other stuff. Besides, there's no traffic on Sundays. Also, since Gaines works in downtown Atlanta now, this summer when I first started taking graduate classes at GSU, we just carpooled. It was nice, since his workplace wasn't far from campus.

This semester, though, all of my classes are in the evening-- since I'll start student teaching in October. It works out great for me, because a girl in my cohort lives nearby and we can ride the train together on Tuesday and Wednesdays. (It's nice to have someone to talk to on the ride down. Among other various and sundry topics, today we had a fun conversation about Baptists and legalism--she's Catholic and went to Mercer for undergrad.)

Anyway, on to MARTA. I think, in some cases, it IS "smarta." For one thing, it saves on parking, and it's also a lot faster during rush hour. Second, it's just as safe, or even moreso, especially since I'm not travelling alone. Third-- I was surprised at the relative cleanliness and ease of use. It wasn't hard to get around, signs were clearly marked, and it was much better kept than the underground in New York or even D.C. (I won't compare it to European Metros I've used, they're just so much older...) But perhaps this is due to the fact that no one uses it?

While waiting in line to get tokens yesterday, I asked another student why it doesn't go all over the city, like in other large urban areas I've been to. Thankfully, there are stations where we live, but for anyone on the west side of town up I-75-- zilch. He described the situation as an endless deteriorating cycle: Lack of funding. People complain that no one uses it, so funding goes down. Since funding goes down, less people use it. And more people complain... you get the idea.

I'll admit it wasn't crowded when I rode it today. I've also heard horror stories about the crazies on MARTA and the unexpected breakdowns. Thankfully, my ride was smooth and uneventful and panhandlers were avoided.

So, I just have to say I'm looking forward to my evenings on the train. I'm still driving down for my classes one day a week, though, just because my last class on Monday doesn't end until 9:45 and there's no way I'm riding MARTA by myself that late at night. Maybe next semester I can move up to MARTA full-time.

Thanks to Trevor for linking to this guy's blog. I kind of like this new-urbanism idea-- it's interesting to read a discussion about areas I've become so familiar with... It also has great pictures of Atlantic Station, which is being built practically in our church's backyard (West Merritts is located in Home Park, right near Georgia Tech). The influx of even more residents into Midtown should be an interesting opportunity for our little light-bearing congregation.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Is your OT a thing of the past?

... asks the main page caption for this article from CNN. As it turns out, it's about new overtime regulations. But at first glance, I thought it might be about Evangelical Christian views on the Bible.

What thinkest thou of Monroe?

A friend and I (and Allison) were discussing various and sundry issues over lunch yesterday, including the Federal Vision, our appreciation for R.C. Sproul, N.T. Wright, and other topics. (We were also discussing the "mystery noodle" phenomenon at the restaurant at which we were eating, but that really doesn't fit into the post very well.)

Anyway, a thought came up: has Sproul made any comments on the whole "Auburn Avenue Hubbub"? I know Junior has had some interaction, but what about the Old Man himself?

Enquiring minds want to know.

You might be an idiot if...

The newest move-ins to our apartment building are a group of young men of approximately college age (we can't tell how many, since we've met like four different ones, but can't tell if they all live there or just hang out). The various boxes and bags they like to leave outside AFTER trash pick-up has revealed their love of domestic brews and the fact they bought a broom and a Clorox mop ONLY two weeks after moving in. Hopefully, the giant neon Budweiser sign hanging outside their door should be coming down soon-- per management's orders.

This weekend we awoke from a nap to discover their favorite drinking activity: apparently, even a visit from their parents can't hinder the enjoyment of shooting inanimate objects with a BB gun off their back porch. Saturday it was a cardboard Corona box.

Then, this morning, I heard some stange popping noises coming from outside... I looked out the window to see that they've moved on from cardboard to a large glass liquor bottle (and I don't think they are practicing moderation, since they haven't yet hit it.)

"What?! These men can't be drunk! It's only nine o'clock in the morning!" I think that's only true in Jerusalem.

Update (9:11 a.m.): The bottle is gone. I think they gave up. I hope so, because I didn't hear them hit it. It's a good thing, too, since we have a LOT of young kids that live in this building and if there were broken glass in the yard it could be dangerous. They all play back there in the afternoons. I'll have to go check it out to make sure. (Did I mention that to add distance they put the box/bottle behind a different apartment-- one where a five year-old boy lives?)

Friday, August 20, 2004

To End All Wars (?)

Just in case you were wondering, it appears that we have emerged victorious from the moth wars. We have discovered a minute number of insurgents this week, but it appears that, by and large, the invaders have been repelled.

Also, last weekend we jumped on the bandwagon and rented To End All Wars. What a great film! Gut-wrenchingly powerful in its portrayal of forgiveness, especially juxtaposed against the brutality of a WWII prison camp (Note: it has an R-rating for a reason, so be forewarned). I'm interested in reading the original book from which it was adapted.

And just so this whole rambling narrative coheres, I must note that we have observed some large, suspicious-looking caterpillars crawling around in the parking lot and on the sidewalk near our apartment. Innocent bystanders? Reinforcements? Who knows. But, as the Colonel in the film responded to the question of what he'd do after the war, I'm preparing for the next war.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

I see the potential for an AWESOME advertising campaign here.

The gods on our wrists

This week, I'm reading through Prophetic Untimeliness, by Os Guinness. Subtitled A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance, this short book discusses the ironic fact that Western Christianity's increased attempts to be "culturally relevant" have left the Church more irrelevant than ever.

The first section is pretty interesting. Guinness begins by highlighting some of the huge societal and cultural changes brought about by the invention and widespread implementation of the clock in the Western world. He notes that other cultures developed a host of proverbs and slogans to describe the Western dependence on accurate timekeeping (e.g. gods on the wrist).

One aspect I find interesting is the linguistic shift resulting from this innovation. Guinness notes how ideas of "civilization" and "progress" were once gauged in terms of spatial measurement, not time. The ancient Greeks, for example, defined "barbarians" as those living outside their enlightened expanse of territory. And the word "progress" was seen in terms of spatial distance covered (like in a journey, a la Pilgrim's Progress). These terms, however, have shifted to having more temporal connotations. Think of the implications found in the terms "Dark Ages," "Middle Ages," and "Modern Age." Thanks to the Enlightenment, we know that mankind is always moving forward, so our current age represents the apex of civilization and development. Obviously, everything before us was hopelessly mired in ignorance. As a result, Guinness notes, we've come to use chronological language ("backward," "Neanderthal," etc. as negative examples) to denote the level of advancement, with the understood fact that everything pre-dating our current age was somehow deficient in their understanding of the world.

And of course, this over-emphasis on time results in the ever-present pressure to be "relevant" to whatever trends of the times arise. Ultimately, this attitude infiltrates the Church, which (as Guinness and so many others rightly note) tragically sacrifices its own relevance for the sake of pursuing "cultural relevance." How do we combat this? Well, I haven't read that far yet. But I'll be sure to let you know.

Monday, August 16, 2004

funeral or feast

This weekend, Allison and I were noting how somber most Evangelical celebrations of Communion (particularly of the Baptist flavor) tend to be. She observed that in many congregations, the sacrament becomes a "funeral for Jesus." Obviously, there's need for introspection and examination in order to "partake worthily," but sometimes the atmosphere ends up being overwhelmingly glum.

P. Andrew Sandlin's article on weekly Communion provides a needed contrast:

In some churches, communion is a time of fear and lamentation and even trembling over sins committed. But the Lord’s Supper is all about God’s overcoming our sins in the atoning death and victorious resurrection of Jesus. So, there is joyous music, laughter, tears and hope — because of what God has done, is doing, and will do in His Son Jesus. The Lord’s Supper is (among other things) a celebration of our victory in Jesus.

"The Left Behind series almost made me regret martyrdom. Right Behind renewed my hope" - Polycarp

Last week, the oft-incindiery discussions on the Derek Webb-board veered into things eschatological. So, I figured I'd re-read Nathan Wilson's Right Behind, because I needed a few laughs. Okay, a lot of laughs. I think the most amazing part about that book was that Mr. Sock helped co-write it without the benefit of a doctorate. I'll have to re-read Supergeddon quickly and get back to my planned reading list. With Allison's tuition and textbook expenses, we're due for another Amazon reward certificate. So many good books ...

Friday, August 13, 2004


Allison would never make a big deal out of this, but I would. As it turns out, she made a 4.0 for her first semester of grad school.

Not too shabby. :)

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Well, at least this is a step in the right direction.

mmm, doughnuts

As if a reward for my miserable morning commute through the rain, the doughnut fairy left a present outside my cubicle. A brief primer on the topography of my office: my cube is in a fairly central location, so the bookshelves in the adjacent corridor become the de facto depository for all communal office goodies. Although convenient, this can easily become an unwanted temptation. But I digress ...

The surprise snacks presented an interesting choice: Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts, as BOTH were represented. I'm sure many, especially here in the South, would argue that the latter option need not even be considered. But, when it comes to chocolate-y, sprinkled-y or filling-y flavors, I think DD actually has the upper hand. Of course, not to acknowledge the unquestionable superiority of the KK glazed would be blasphemy. So how did I resolve my dilemma?

Simple. I selected from each box.


Update: In some sort of sub-miracle, the doughnuts were eaten throughout the day yet not consumed. The naturalistic explanation would say that there were actually multiple boxes left from some meetings this morning, and the owners kept depositing them. But, like the fishes and loaves, or the widow's oil, the doughnuts kept coming, often mysteriously.

Actually, I think it was more like the quail in the wilderness, since I feel like they are starting to come out of my nostrils. Ughhhh.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

U.S. Prime Only

Last night, Gaines took me out for some good eatin'! It was fantabulous.

I think I'm still full. :)

Mmmm.... meat.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

What are the odds?

A Public Service Announcement for those out in Blogdom:

I would be remiss if I didn't note that today is my second wedding anniversary.

In an amazing coincidence, today is Allison's, also.

Who knew?

Monday, August 09, 2004

News From the Front

The moth war rages on. The real news, though, is the discovery of a new weapon that (I hope) will settle the score once and for all. Researchers (aka, me) have been experimenting with various spray technologies to defeat the moth threat. As mentioned in a previous report, I'm trying to limit the spraying of pesticides throughout our home. Also, I'm never sure if it does the trick, since the moths usually are able to fly away. I'm assuming that they flutter off to expire out of sight, but these are uncomfirmed kills. The squirt bottle full of water only seems to annoy them (although it is fun and helps to improve my aim). Lysol has the same level of uncertainty as the poison spray. But, I've finally found the super-weapon.


It drops those little guys like there's no tomorrow. I'm not sure why I didn't think to try it sooner. (Maybe I haven't watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding enough times?) The only drawback is that it requires closer range, but man, talk about results. This weapon, combined with the ruthless kitchen cleaning blitzkrieg and the insidious glue traps, will surely lead to our decisive victory. The moths were able to gain a foothold in the breadbox while we were out of town this weekend. (It must have been something we missed, something not in the plans.) But their assault was short-lived. The weight of inevitability is crashing down on them. Resistance is futile.

In related news, I've discovered a few spiders as well, but they will prove useful against the moth foe. I'm contemplating an alliance with the big, Shelob-esque ones that live in the bushes and breezeways around our apartment. Little do they know that I am planning to break our Non-Agression Pact at an opportune time...

Sunday, August 08, 2004

He Who Must Not Be Named...

has a new name. And a face. (At least for Goblet of Fire. By the fifth film, who knows what'll happen.)

(Thanks to amy's blog for the tip).

Thursday, August 05, 2004

I must choose. But choose wisely.

I drink Diet Mountain Dew. A lot of it. Thanks to my habit, I've accumulated quite a few points under their current web promotion. Like, 105 of them. But, I'm not sure how I should redeem them. There's a list of prizes at the DewU website. So many choices. I've got until 8/18 to redeem my hard-earned points. I predict a lot of sleepless nights agonizing over this choice. (Of course, that could be BECAUSE of all the Dew.)

Any suggestions? (Also, if any of you faithful readers could help me round up an extra 450 points, I could get an X-Box. I swear we'll invite you over to play Halo.)

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


I always enjoy Douglas Wilson's "Presbyterian Fables," but this one made me laugh out loud.

Team Redd vs. Mothra

For the last week or so, the battle has raged at our house. Somehow, we have become besieged by moths. Not the bigger, clothes-chewing ones that live in the closet. Our invaders are tiny, very easy to kill, and appear to have been centrally located in our kitchen. If the internet is to be believed (and when isn't it?), our visitors are, or are related to, India Meal Moths. These little guys set up shop in dried goods like rice and pasta. Before leaving for vacation, I thoroughly burninated (not literally) the cabinet I suspect was their base of operations. I found a pretty nasty bag of brown rice that may have been their HQ, and possibly even their mode of entry into our home. I've tossed quite a number of dried foods, just to be on the safe side, and have thoroughly Lysol-ed areas of the kitchen. Yet, a few stragglers keep popping up, and I get to spent time each night staging "search and destroy" sorties. They're also infrequently appearing in other parts of the house, presumably in search of new food sources.

My question is, does anyone know of any good, cheap ways to rid our home of these uninvited guests? I'm trying to limit the use of pesticides, especially since ground zero is our kitchen. I have a feeling they will eventually all die out if we keep them cut off from food. I would like to speed them along as much as possible, though.

(I'm also hoping for a decisive victory. Last summer's response to the wasp invasion was swift and brutal. They have not returned this year. I'm looking for similar results on the moth front.)

Monday, August 02, 2004

Don't be alarmed, faithful blog readers (both of you). The silence following the previous entry about the malfunctioning HVAC did not denote some kind of office tragedy. We actually spent a long weekend down at the beach in Gulf Shores, AL with the Redd family. Fun was had by all.

Providentially, and contrary to the foreboding forecasts, we didn't get any rain until today (when we left). The cloudy sky actually provided some relief from the sun, and I am returning a slightly darker shade from my usual pale. The water was a tad sea-weedy, but it still felt great. I started and finished A Time to Kill, a perfect page-flipper for reading out on the beach. I simply couldn't bring myself to lug the Institutes out to the beach. That would have been ... well, wrong. I also continued reading through Kipling's Kim, which I had never read before, but Allison (correctly) thought I would like. I'm closing in on the end, and I just realized that my edition of the book has a glossary of Hindi/Arab/other cultural terms and places. Oh well. It's probably better that I figured (most of) them out on my own.

On both the drive down and back, we listened to a series of N.T. Wright lectures from Jesus and the Victory of God (which will resume a place on my reading list in the near future). (Thanks to Al for the tip-off about Regent Radio - I just hope they get some more Wright on the schedule soon! Although, the other featured speakers are quite impressive.) The series was fantastic, and as usual with Wright, it prompted many questions about how Jesus fits into his cultural milieu (versus how we traditionally read the Gospels). Plus, he's quite clever.

We were also able to leave the beach with half of a delicious chocolate/pecan/Jack Daniels pie that my sister made. My parents actually made us take it. I think it was a little too chocolatey for them. Mmm. Chocolate.

Speaking of chocolate ... I think I hear the kitchen calling.