( Sunday, October 26, 2008 )

One of our universities recently made a survey of the reading habits of the American public; it decided that forty-eight percent of all Americans read, during a year, no book at all. I picture to myself that reader — non-reader, rather; one man out of every two — and I reflect, with shame: 'Our poems are too hard for him.' But so, too, are Treasure Island, Peter Rabbit, pornographic novels — any book whatsoever. The authors of the world have been engaged in a sort of conspiracy to drive this American away from books; have in 77 million out of 160 million cases, succeeded. A sort of dream situation often occurs to me in which I call to this imaginary figure, 'Why don't you read books?' — and he always answers, after looking at me steadily for a long time: 'Huh?'
(Randall Jarrell, Poetry and the Age--1953)

( Saturday, October 25, 2008 )

The Problem of Sight

I'm sure you know what it's like when you can't seem to fall asleep, no matter how tired you are or what medication you're on, and your brain starts racing through massive amounts of inconsequential/nonsensical information. Right?

A couple nights ago I was cursed with an acute case of insomnia. No kidding, I might have slept for a half an hour the entire night. It was horrible. I was exhausted, but I could not make myself go to sleep. I kept looking at the clock, trying to convince my brain that it was absolutely necessary. But all my brain would do was continually calculate and re-calculate how much sleep it could get were it not calculating and re-calculating how much sleep I could get.

And then I thought about my future. I thought about the exams I'd just finished. I thought about gas prices. I thought about red wine and its heart benefits. I thought about Christmas and traveling. I thought about where swear words come from. I thought about what I'd have for supper the next day (or, as it turned out, later that same day).

And then I realized something that horrified me greatly, and cemented my fate to a sleepless night: I never stop 'looking'. When I close my eyes, I'm not really shutting them off. I'm just looking at the inside of my eye lids. So no matter what I do, my eyes are always on, always seeing, never resting. How terrible.

I spent the next few hours thinking, "So this is what the inside of my eye lids look like. Huh." (And, of course, I spent the entire next day wanting to re-examine them.)

( Thursday, October 23, 2008 )

I Hear Destiny Calling

This is the best thing I have ever seen. My life has new meaning as of this moment.

( Wednesday, October 15, 2008 )

Nicotine Patch? Try a Stupidity Patch

People are funny. And strange. And mind-boggling. (Ok, there are a lot of adjectives that would fit, but those will suffice here).

I saw this picture the other day, and while making me laugh, it also made me wonder how the vacuum in some peoples heads doesn't cause their skulls to cave in. Or, if that is happening, why aren't we hearing about it?

It reminded me of something I saw a few weeks ago: a car in front of me sporting a bright pink bumper sticker that read, "Help End Breast Cancer!" In the driver's seat, a woman, casually holding her cigarette out the window.

To quote a moron: "Doh!"

( Monday, October 13, 2008 )

The Language of God

I just finished reading a book called "The Language of God," by Francis Collins, who led the now-famous Human Genome Project. It's a fantastic, challenging book. It was also a much needed read.

Talking to a couple of friends over the last year or so who are either scientists or science students, I've been learning quite a bit and finding my beliefs about certain topics changing. So when I first heard about Francis Collins and his book, I knew I wanted to read it. And I'm glad I did. The best I can explain it, it reaffirmed my faith. I hadn't lost it, to be sure, but there are always those intense doubts that nag at the back of my mind. And there's almost a sense of fear in exploring those doubts, because there's the possibility those doubts could be well founded -- and if those doubts are valid, what will happen to everything I've based my life around?

I've found that's the tricky aspect of faith. There are times where it feels as if it's perched precariously on something very shaky. What I've come to realize, though, is that a lot of times it is. It's like my faith as a concept is a brick wall, and as I age and grow I keep adding bricks. But I'm not always quite sure where I'm putting those bricks; I'm taking instructions from someone else (who might not even be sure themselves, but they sound confident so I listen). And by the end of the day, when I stop to look at my work, it looks more like a Jenga puzzle than a fortified structure. And as I study and learn and challenge and change certain beliefs, the whole thing starts to shake and sway. But not wanting it to collapse, I stop trying to change anything and instead decide to live in this atrophied state of borderline faith, refusing to think any deeper than will get me through the day.

But what kind of life is that? How is that Truth? Is truth so unstable?

In maters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search for truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it.
(Saint Augustine)

Collins quotes C.S. Lewis a lot in his book, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that it was C.S. Lewis' logic that led Collins to become a Christian. In fact, they share similar testimonies: well-educated atheists who, when attempting to put the question of God to rest, actually found an undeniable logic to Him. C.S. Lewis is one of my favourite authors, and a lot of that is because of how logical his faith was. I was really impressed with Collins for similar reasons.

It isn't hard to imagine that a good number of Christians (evangelicals mostly, I imagine) wouldn't (or aren't) too happy with the book. To accept the conclusions in it would require some serious shifting in beliefs that many of them (or, I should say, us) have held onto for a long time -- though usually without very good reason. But I don't mind telling you that the more I think about and read on the topic, the more and more I find new wonder in God, new reason to believe, a better wall to build on. For the first time in a very long time, I don't feel afraid to face my doubts.

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

[If] the existence of God is true (not just tradition, but actually true), and if certain scientific conclusions about the natural world are also true (not just in fashion, but objectively true), then they cannot contradict each other. A fully harmonious synthesis must be possible.
(Dr. Francis Collins)

( Wednesday, October 08, 2008 )

Warning! Spoilers!

If I didn't know my life any better, I'd think I was slacking. I mean, seriously -- over a month since my last half-hearted post? Really? Come on!

But no. No no no. No, my friends, no. There has been no slacking. Rather, there have been other things. Such as being alive. Trying to remain alive. Doing things to support my habit of being alive. Like working. And trying to better my chances of remaining alive through education. Being alive is a full-time gig. I can't just drop it on a whim to come and write something on my blog.

Tonight, though, between attempts at studying and preparing for class, I decided to do something else: look for meaningless crap on the internet. I'm pleased to tell you it was a smashing success. As they say.

Without further ado, may I present Spoilers For Every Movie Ever Made.