29 June 2011

1.5 Feet.

That's what they say is the distance between the head and the heart. The Bible makes a parallel distinction between knowing, and tasting and seeing.

I've always known the truth behind Psalm 32,
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
I've always known that it is good to be forgiven, that forgiveness is a gift, that forgiveness is something to be sought after and given away freely, but to taste and see that being forgiven is a blessing? That truth has for a long time been sitting 1.5 feet away.

Forgiveness brings peace, and a deep sense of fulfillment. When we lack that, we're probably lacking forgiveness. When we long for that, we're probably longing for forgiveness. When we feel cursed, it is probably because of our sin and its shameful exposure.

But God is good, and He is quick to forgive us our sin. He is quick to lift the curse which keeps us from Him, by the blood of His own son, and bestow upon us blessing after blessing after blessing,
I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
My good friend Piper once said that grace is not just pardon, but power. And because of the power of grace, not only are we forgiven, but we also can forgive.

27 June 2011

Dinner Party Roast.

B: "I once knew a man who left no room for the beautiful things in life (trust, love, forgiveness) because he could not stand the ugly things (hurt, pain, disappointment). That man's name was Jeremy Bentham. Jeremy Bentham everyone!"

Speaking to S.

N: "We have a different kind of self discipline. You have the self discipline to be always doing something. I have the self discipline to know not to."

26 June 2011

The Missing Piece.

The first time I saw jenga pieces, I took them and built things. I thought that was how they were used. I built towers, and bridges, and houses. And then, when they ran out, I thought, wow, what a crappy kit.

Before we had grass in our backyard, we used to make rivers in the mud. We'd wait till it rained, and as water poured down the gutters, we'd redirect it by creating crevices in the earth. We created this entire new world, complete with miniature mountain ranges, intricate canyons, and jenga bridges. It scared the wits out of our parents, and we were in trouble for weeks. But I saw the power of how many tiny forces, with enough time and persistence, could change things. And how that change, many times, was mutual.

I've had trouble interacting socially since I can remember. If reverse engineering means analyzing the ways input is processed by a computer into output without access to the inner workings of the machine--then I've been reverse engineering social interactions since I was a child. I did not come hardwired with an understanding of the social protocol that most people find so easy to adhere to. I did not inherit that innate capacity for cluing in on social nuance that everyone else seems to have. I observed. And I imitated. I carried out the scientific method as best I could--forming hypotheses, conducting experiments, analyzing results. Trial and error were my best childhood friends. And I'll still call them up from time to time to catch up and whatnot.

I work with a startup; me and some friends came together and decided to build iPhone apps and stuff. We want to work with social media, social networking, etc. In a somewhat literal sense, then, I am a social engineer (and no, not the bad political kind). Yet, it is a most ironic title. Our goal is to identify some key human insight and to attempt to address that longing that we all have for something which does not exist, with something that does. If I had a key human insight, it'd be that we're not alone. And an undertaking to bring people together, in substantive, meaningful ways, would be my goal.

24 June 2011

Three lines stick.

I'm in love with this song. The lyrics are brilliant,
Do you love me enough to let me go?
The first and second persons in this sentence are ambiguous. We immediately question, who are they? Who is you? And who is me? Do the two me's point to the same person, or could they be different?

If we take this sentence in light of Jesus's words in Luke 9:23, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." We see a new, nuanced, and complex variety of love that isn't immediately apparent. We see a love dependent on counterintuitive laws--that a person must lose himself to find himself, and that in attempting to hold onto himself, will only lose himself. And we see a love that distances itself in order to bring itself nearer.

And then it comes undone. It ravels apart. And we see: If I loved me enough, I'd let me go. The most selfless thing and the most selfish thing meet at one place--the ends you mean to accomplish while acting in self-interest turn out to be the ends that you actually accomplish when acting in the interest of others.
But every seed dies before it grows
Seeds, and death, and life are a recurring theme in Foreman's writing, an allusion to John 12:24, which itself is an allusion to Christ's death and resurrection. In this line, we encounter the passion of Calvary, the sign of Jonah, and the empty tomb. We discover the cost of discipleship, and the fruit of following Jesus. We glimpse the nature of sanctification, and the birth-pains of righteousness.
Breathe it in and let it go
Every breath you take is not yours to own
Our understanding of property and ownership in today's society is largely socially constructed. Native Americans had no concept of it, and thus, when they were first exposed to it with the arrival of European conquerers were heavily exploited. The Bible tells us a few things about property: (1) We possess both less and more than we think we do, (2) What we have we have received as gifts, and (3) We are stewards of our gifts, appointed by our Master.

One of the ways that God reminds us of these truths is by giving and taking away. The thing that he gives and takes away from us every day, tens of thousands of times a day, is the air we breathe. Every breath we take is not ours to own--but God is bigger than the air we breathe, and He is glorious.

The Hopeless Romantic.

B: "You know what makes me feel hopeless? It's not that I can't be with you. I mean, not being with you makes me feel sad, but that's not what makes me feel hopeless. It's that there's no one else in the world like you. And don't say I haven't looked. I've gone searching. I have 800 friends on Facebook (that's a joke, I'm kidding), but really I can't find a thing. Haven't even found a poor substitute, or some cheap imitation. Being with anyone but you is settling, and that feeling that I'd have on my wedding day, saying I do to a woman who I figured would just do, is unsettling. It's nerve-wracking. It's unacceptable. I won't have it. And so I feel hopeless because you're one of a kind. And what would a one-of-a-kind type-a-person like you want with a good-fer-nothin dime-a-dozen like me? What could I give you that a thousand other guys lining up to die for you wouldn't? I figured it was this speech, and this spiel, but you've heard it all before. In every rom-com, fantasy novel, and fairy tale. So I'll give you my hearts--no really, both of them--and see if you won't care as they tear each other apart. I mean, seriously, that's what's going on inside of me right now. I'm being torn apart, by my own hearts, by not being with you."

23 June 2011

Heirloom.

I can't stomach the thought that we are passing down to the next generation, a country that is less viable, less good, less competitive, less compassionate than the one we got.

-- Jon Hunstaman, former Utah governor and American ambassador to China, explaining why he has chosen to run for president

Running in the rain.

It's refreshing to step back inside, and wipe the water from my glasses.

22 June 2011

δούλος.

This is not a program to salvage the economy. It's a program for pillage before bankruptcy.

-- Alexis Tsipras, of the Left Coalition in Greece, after Prime Minister George Papandreou's government won a crucial confidence vote on Tuesday; the PM has pledged to implement austerity measures in order to secure $17 billion in emergency loans

19 June 2011

The Good Fight.

I believe every person has a life's thesis, a central idea behind all their creative work (from their writing and art, to the way they dress and speak). Each of us has a unique way of looking at the world, our special insight into human nature, a particular approach of coping with the absurdities of life. If I could choose my life's thesis to be anything, I would want it to be the Gospel: the Gospel's transcendence of categories (no longer male vs. female, Greek vs. Jew, slave vs. free, etc), the Gospel's reordering of criteria (that a proper understanding of finding solutions to problems is fundamentally about learning to pose the right questions), and the Gospel's specific, concrete, tangible manifestation in my life story and the life stories of others. A recurring theme in my creative work is alluded to in the titles of my blogs: the war waging within between two persons with different ends. J. C. Ryle elaborates,
True Christianity is a fight... Do we find in our heart a spiritual struggle? Are we conscious of two principles within us, contending for the mastery? (Galatians 5:17) Do we feel anything of war in our inward being? Well, let us thank God for it! It is a good sign. It is strongly probable evidence of the great work of sanctification. Anything is better than apathy, stagnation, deadness, and indifference. We are in a better state than many. The most part of so-called Christians have no feeling at all... I say again, let us take comfort. The children of God have two great marks--they may be known by their inward warfare as well as by their inward peace.
If you asked me to speak on every cryptic poem I've written, every obscure line I've spoken, I would be able to talk for days. But I think, as with many other things, they may sometimes remain better--even clearer--unexplained. That's Abrams' thesis, and I quite like it.

16 June 2011

Heartbreaking.

We wanted this child to have everything ... That's why we poisoned ourselves at this factory. Now it turns out the child is poisoned too.

-- Han Zongyuan, a Chinese factory worker and father of a 3-year-old who has absorbed enough lead to diminish her intellectual capacity; hundreds have been poisoned by emissions from a lead-acid battery factory in Mengxi village

Funny.

A chocolate offering, yamaka wearing, hair curling, Hebrew speaking Jewish man sat next to us while we talked. Hours later, as he was leaving, he told us that I was a sensible man, and asked me what I was. I answered meekly, "I'm just a person." He told me that I should be lecturing someday, that I sounded like a psychologist or a philosopher. I was tempted, but didn't find the courage, to say, "I'm a Christian. I want to be a pastor someday." I almost wish I had.

14 June 2011

Mexican Nonviolence.

From Time:
Mexican media have tried to label the caravan as the beginning of a civil resistance movement; it has even been likened to Mexico's version of the Arab Spring. That would be premature. The numbers at most of the rallies were small compared with the populations of the cities involved and the movement is far from united, with many different elements trying to get their causes on the agenda. Nevertheless, last week, for the first time, the relatives of those killed have been empowered to come out on stage and tell their stories. With elections coming up next year and Calderón having already said an end to the war on drugs is completely out of the question, policy change is unlikely. But the movement has only taken the first steps of what they say will be a long-term struggle to end the violence and the impunity that propagates it. Says LeBaron: "The seeds have been planted in a desert. It's not sure if they'll grow, but if they do, it will be a beautiful thing."
And again,
"The seeds have been planted in a desert. It's not sure if they'll grow, but if they do, it will be a beautiful thing."

I love the dry, subtle humor.

We know that Hosea was married, the father of three children, and well acquainted with agricultural life. From his use of certain striking figures of speech it has been suggested that he was a baker, lived as a farmer on the land, was associated with the priesthood and the sanctuaries, had a strongly developed sex instinct which he vigorously repressed. With the same right we could suggest that he was a lover of the desert and an expert on lions, panthers, and bears.

-- Abraham Joshua Heschel, from The Prophets

Make room on your calendars.

I have booked my flight to Cali, from Aug 17th to Sept 3rd. Also, my birthday lands between those dates. :)

11 June 2011

Pots, and shards, and clay.

t: god is fair
t: you are so intelligent
t: in everything else
t: except love

08 June 2011

There were three men.

Each had a prized possession, something that he treasured.

The first man was a simple man. He hid his treasure behind his clothes in the closet where no one could conceivably get to them. But one day, armed thugs broke into his house, turned the place upside down, and found his treasure. They knew it was a treasure because he so safely secured it. And they took his treasure and sold it on the streets for the price of two pigeons. The simple man was sad to discover his treasure wasn't worth nearly as much as he had hoped, and worse, that he could not even afford to buy his own treasure back because he had sold all he had to get it.

The second man was more clever than the first. He knew not to make a big fuss about his treasure, for surely that would rouse the suspicion of eager thieves. So he took his treasure and left it on the curb in front of his house. He left his treasure among the trash, for he thought, surely, no competent thief would go looking there. Till one day a trash man mistook his treasure for garbage, and threw it in with the rest at the dump. The clever man was upset that someone had treated his treasure with such disregard, and distraught that his treasure tainted was now lost forever.

The last man was neither simple, nor clever, but wise. He had seen enough treasure go to waste--stolen, pillaged, rotted away--to know that none of it would last. No treasure on earth was essential. He had possessions, but he knew that they were gifts, and that he was merely the steward. His real treasure was stored somewhere safe, where no thief could get to it, no thug could tamper with it, and no simple-minded fool would mistake it for anything else but what it was. The wise man kept his treasure in Heaven.

06 June 2011

Heart deactivated.

Ah, that feels much better.

Stray.

I've discovered where I went wrong.

I listened to my heart.

Silly INTJ, don't you know, hearts are for F's.

01 June 2011

Arab Spring.

For me and many others like me here in the square, we are convinced that peaceful means would not work, since they did not work over the last four months. — Ahmed Obadi, a Yemeni protester and teacher, on the demonstrations against President Ali Abdullah Saleh; violence raged on Wednesday
Four months of peaceful protests, and we've given up?

In some sense, the swiftness of seeing tangible results in places like Tunisia, Egypt, and even parts of Libya, is detrimental to a people's understanding of the worldwide struggle for freedom. Take, for example, the African American Civil Rights Movement which lasted from 1955 to 1968. Even keeping in mind the well-known maxim, "Justice delayed in justice denied", the success of the protests and the dignity of its participants was secured not by their obtaining results, but by their sustaining endurance. Again, consider the struggle for freedom from British colonial rule in India led by Gandhi, which began in 1915 and did not end till 1945. The Indian people did not give up after a few months, or a few years, or even two world wars. They endured for decades without giving in to a lust for violence, and although imperfect, they now have the most populous democracy in the world.

These cornerstone examples of nonviolent movements, though absurdly slow, showed the dignity of a people persistent. That a people persists is a sign that they really want democracy, that they are willing to fight for, secure, and sacrifice for the sake of others' well-being, and not just their own. Persistence is a sign of pure motives. I'm afraid, however, that as a people grow discouraged, disheartened, and impatient, their craving for power also grows, and, consequently, their love for freedom diminishes. My prayer is that our friends in the Middle East do not become disillusioned by resistance to the struggle, that they persevere to continue to seek nonviolent, peaceful means of attaining freedom, and that those with voice and that those with power will do all they can within their power to help liberate oppressed people everywhere because, as my good friend King was once fond of saying, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

You have a voice.

Use it.