Saturday, October 22, 2011

New Blog

Greetings Programs!
I'm writing this post to let you know that Strange Wednesdays has moved and changed its name.  You can now find us at Rainydaywednesdays.blogspot.com. It even comes complete with posts by Hazel!  What could be better?  Anyway, the new blog will be updated regularly.  I apologize for my absence, but as you will find out from reading the new blog, the past few months have been a blur.

At this time let us wish a fond fare thee well to Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung and I hope to see you on the new site.
-Mr. Strange

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I'm Going Away Where You Will Look For Me

Hello Peoples,  
    It may have seemed in recent weeks that I had largely given up on expressing myself.  This may have been true. Following the completion of my Student Teaching Portfolio and the following realization that there was nothing demanding my time or energy, I embraced a sort of "bum" lifestyle.  When I say "embraced" I mean that I did so fully.  Waking, if occurring before lunch was never followed with an exit from bed before 1pm unless in the most dire of caffeine related emergencies.  After this, showers were never taken before 4pm, just in time to smell ok for Hazel's return from work. I engaged (or disengaged?) in an abyss of cartoons, sports, and (blech) sitcoms.  At some point I did get kind of excited when I saw Spiderman Unlimited featured on Netflix Instant Stream.  Early in the first episode, however, excitement was followed by a bellowing "NOOO" as I saw what my 12 year old self had hated so fiercely.  In Spiderman Unlimited they gave Spiderman a cape. Yes, yes cry with me, people.  Even after so horrifying an episode I lacked even the minimum motivation to pick up a book and read for more than  a few pages. I don't mind doing nothing.  I can assure you of that, but this was a bit excessive.  Yesterday would have been the last day of my bumming, but nooooo, I just had to get the urge to ride the bike down to my favorite spot by the train tracks to enjoy an afternoon of sunshine, Harry Potter, Jeff Tweedy, and train spotting.  There I lay on the grass, soaking in sunshine and realizing that as much as part of me would have liked to go on unmotivated and unmoving, my future days will have to be filled with hard work, sunshine, and poetry.  Don't worry, I'll even call this one.  This is all a bit "hipsterish."  Believe me, I both know this and hate this.  
     Earlier in the day yesterday I rode to the local post office to send some parcels by our hometown dispatch rider.  Upon my arrival I chained the bike to a tree beside a van in which an old man was smoking a cigarette.  Actually, the way he smoked reminded me of this line from Cormac McCarthy. "They smoked the way poor people sit down to meals.  As a religious experience."  I went into the post office thinking about this, dropped of my packages to the agent in charge of the Pony Express, and exited (just in case you were wondering about the exact order of my actions). I had forgotten about the old man until, as I unchained the bike, I heard a voice behind me say, "You done the right thing." 
"Excuse me?"  I wondered what kind of right thing he had seen me do.
"You done the right thing," he repeated, "chaining up that bike.  I don't have anymore gas."
This led to a long conversation between us about the benefits of bicycles, the state of the world, and the fact that everything around us seems to be in decay.  "What can you do," he asked, "ain't nobody to turn to. People can barely help themselves, much less anybody around them.  There's floods and tornadoes, and there's depression, and people can't even get to work anymore.  What can you do?"  This is when it hit me. Maybe its a part of being 23, or maybe people do it at every age.  I've always thought of life as being about to happen.  I've always thought, "yeah, life is about to start."  What hit me was the realization that life is happening.  Present tense.  I'm graduating from college now, and what do I know? I'm standing at the edge of unemployment and staring into a black void.  I don't show it.  Outside I 'm all hope, but inside I'm 100% panic.  However, my conversation with that very perceptive fellow reminded me of something else.  Jeremiah 41:13 says, "For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you."  And I suppose this says everything.  
     With graduation in mind, I'd like to reflect a little bit over the last semester.      I set off to begin Student Teaching in January of this year with very little idea of what I was getting into.  More correctly, I had many ideas of what I was getting into, but none of them was the right idea.  I did not realize just how challenging, draining, or incredibly rewarding Student Teaching would be. I have learned many theories about education. In class I learned the lingo and the ins and outs of educational philosophy. What I did not learn was the incredible challenge of living these theories and philosophies on a daily basis.

            Enter Student Teaching.  What I found my first day walking through the halls of Walkerville Highschool is that adolescence is dark.  I had forgotten just how dark it is.   I looked through the corridors and where I expected light and hope I saw shadow and apathy.  For possibly the first time in my life I began to understand the severe challenge of being the “light of the world” and a “city on the hill” (Matt 5:14).  There can be no hiding or blending in when you contain light and live in a dark time.  As shocking as this realization was, I honestly believe that this is how God intended it to be.  Are we, the children of the light, meant to live together in our own secluded brightness?  I think not.  We are meant to go into the darkness.  For this reason it was written, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119: 105).  David, the man after God’s own heart realized that he was not called to stay in the safety of light and likeness.  He was called into the darkness to be led by, and dependent on, God’s own light.  With that in mind, I suppose my fears of the future should probably fade.  It seems possible that staring into a black void is where I'm supposed to be, and maybe what I'm supposed to do is to plunge right in.
          
            

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Son of a Gun (Song of the Week and random musings)


Here is the song of the week.  Pretty dang awesome, or so I think.  


George Harrison
My Sweet Lord?

Hello Peoples, 
     Greetings from the end of student teaching.  You may hold your applause until the end of this post.  No really, please, its too much.  Thank you.  I haven't written in a while, little did I realize just how long, and there is nothing more to blame for that than the general craziness of life.  Maybe now that student teaching is over with things will begin to settle down, but honestly I doubt it.

     A while ago, I expressed my intention of taking up cycling as a hobby.  Unlike most of my other almost hobbies I have been rather successful and consistent in pursuing this one.  Just ask Bess, who was forced to go along with me just this past weekend.  In fact, we met one of her little friends on a bike trail.  I remember it well because he decided to take the middle of the path and force me into the mud on the side.  Thank you, friend of Bess.  Thank you vera much. What I've found out about cycling though, or maybe about myself, is that I love the going (You know, the wind in your hair, speeding down hills, flying past children and small animals, its all wonderful) and I hate the slowing down.  But somehow I can't manage to find a route that will take me downhill both there (wherever there is) and back.  At some point I always end up going up hill.  Case in point, yesterday I pedaled out toward a river nearby and loved the first 40 minutes because I was flying.  Even the police told me to SLOW DOWN (or maybe it was just a wave hello) when they passed.  Then I turned around.  Immediately I remembered why, at some point on the way, my mind had softly urged me to go ahead and turn around, and I wondered "why didn't I listen then?"  Leave it to me to love things when they are fun, and then get bored with them as soon as they get tough.  No depth here. Just thinking.  Just expressing my likes and dislikes about my bicycle.  By the way, they now know me by name at the local bicycle shop.  I've decided that, as nice as it is to walk in and be greeted by name, it works out better for them than it does me as there is always a reason that I stop by there.  In other words, the bike shop = Mr. Strange's money.  They really are extremely nice though and if you are ever nearby, I hear they also have a store in Georgia which can be found at the following website habershambicycles.com

     A couple more things....
   1) Hazel is now a Major League Baseball widow. Actually, that may be a little bit extreme, but she does find my tendency to watch or listen to every single Braves game a bit taxing. For that, Hazel, I am sorry, but I promise that it will end (hopefully in October, but if you’re lucky, September).

     2)The "Name Mr. Strange" contest is over/has been over for a while.  The winner: Bonnie from SA!  Congratulations Bonnie!  Does this mean that my name is now Teddy?  Eh, maybe, but seriously Bonnie, Congratulations.  At eight total votes it was a close race, but you pulled it off. 

  3)    A student came up to me a while ago  and said this, "Mr. Strange, have you ever thought about being a counsellor or a psychologist.  Dr. Strange.  You'd be pretty good at that."  If you know me, you may laugh....Now.  It is a long running inside jokes between Hazel and one of our friends that if I became a life coach or a therapist, the suicide rate would skyrocket. The imagined conversations go something like this,
          "I don't know.  I just don't feel good about my life."
           "REALLY?  Neither would I.  Your life sucks!"     
I would like to think that my therapy sessions would sound better than this, as I would charge an arm and two legs, but they are probably right.  Still this held some encouragement for me.  If you have followed this blog you know that at the beginning of my ST experience, compassion and kindness were two things that I struggled with.  Obviously this student had seen something in me that does not come naturally to myself, and what I hope that he say instead of me was a little bit of Christ.
I should be posting again later this week, so stay tuned.   Ok, you may applaud..... .....................now

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Song of the Week

Radiohead's 
Give Up the Ghost
Hello Peoples,  This week's song of the week comes from Radiohead's latest, King of Limbs, which I have finally gotten around to buying after agonizing weeks of not having it.  Thanks to Emusic.com, the album only cost me 99 cents.  Go ahead, beat that legally!  Anywho, this version is just Thom Yorke (or Thom Bjork?  See, I can do it too) with a guitar.  It is quite nice, so please enjoy.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Careful With That Axe Eugene

Hello Peoples,

     Last week saw Walkerville High School on Spring Break and myself without an internet connection.  Though I did  actually write a post (a very long one) I find it better to write, save as a draft, rewrite, publish.  Each of these steps is as essential as the one  before it and I just couldn't bring myself to skip any of the aforementioned steps and deliver to you, my readers, anything lower than my normal absolutely stellar material (Har har har).

     A lot has happened to the Strange family and their relatives recently that has us all more or less reeling.  More correctly, a lot has happened to the Strange family's families and this has left us all a bit stunned.  More on that (maybe) some other time, but at the moment there are just a few things that I need to share.

     My mother and I have a disagreement which has led to a jagged rift in our familial relationship.  It is, to say the least, devastating.  You see, she maintains that Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven is the greatest rock and roll song ever recorded.  I, though I recognize its incredible beauty and rock awesomeness, maintain that in fact the greatest rock and roll song ever recorded is Jimi Hendrix's All Along the Watchtower (yes I know, you know-it-alls, All Along the Watchtower was written by Bob Dylan, but would you consider his version rock and roll? I thought not).  To resolve this dispute we (or I) turned to our resident authority on ear-candy, Bess.  My thoughts were that perhaps her unfamiliarity with the lords of rock would lend her neutrality.  So in order to see, what does a 14 year old girl think is the greatest,  we did what anyone would do. We grabbed a  25 year old AM/FM radio with one speaker and a tape player and we played the songs.  Oddly enough, both songs may have actually sounded better on said AM/FM radio with one speaker and a tape player, but this was not enough to stop 6 yr. old Curious George from walking in during Stairway and declaring loudly, "You call this rock and roll?  This does not sound like rock and roll!"  Oh Curious George, someday you will grow up and see the error of your ways. As for Bess, she realized that she was between a rock and a hard place, namely my mother and myself, and decided very wisely to hide behind the fifth amendment.

     As I mentioned before, a lot has  happened recently to the Strange family's families.  Some of it is, to put it lightly, rather shocking.  Certain things have made me rather angry at certain people.  I can't describe how angry it has made me.  I think its a kind of righteous wrath, but it has been justified (by me) on the basis of, "Well, I may be a sinner, but I would never do this," or "What kind of [no need to type this] would do that?"  I justified my anger because I saw myself as better than certain others around me, but I'm not. Honestly, not one of us is.  In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand describes one character's realization that some people are just plain bad.
But he still thought it self-evident that one had to do what was right; he had never learned how people could want to do otherwise; he had only learned that they did. It still seemed simple and incomprehensible to him: simple that things should be right, and incomprehensible that they weren't.
     Like it or not, some people are actually intentionally bad.  They intentionally do things for the single purpose of hurting others or getting their own at others' expense.  You and I may not be out to get people.  We may not try to be mean (I swear, I don't try) or hurtful, but we still do. With that in mind, we then separate people into the categories of intentions.  We make two categories: those whose intentions are good and those whose intentions are bad. "Did he mean to hurt her? Well then he is bad." "He shouldn't have done that, but his heart really is good."  The fact is though  that no matter what or how we do right, we will always, purposefully or accidentally, do wrong as well.
If we justify ourselves by what we do, we will always come back to the fact of what we cannot: we cannot achieve perfection. We cannot achieve our own justification.  C.S. Lewis describes our state in life without Christ very well in Mere Christianity.
That is the terrible fix we are in.  If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all of our efforts are in the long run hopeless.  But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness everyday, and we are not in the least likely to do any better tomorrow, and so our case is hopeless again. We cannot do without it, and we cannot do with it.  God is the only comfort, he is also the Supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from.  He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies...Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger- according to the way you react to it.  And we have reacted the wrong way.
Yes, we have all made ourselves enemies of God by our every good intentioned wrong action.  Lets add in the ol' Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" and 3:10, "There is no one righteous, not even one" and it becomes annoyingly clear that we all, on our own, suck.
C.S. Lewis echoes David's own words of resting in the shadow of God and hoping in the Lord when He says that God is the "only comfort" and "Supreme terror."  Just how true this is can be seen by looking at how Israel, God's chosen people reacted to Moses when he came down from the mountain with the commandments.  They didn't see God, they saw only one who had met with him and they were so afraid by what they saw that Moses had to place a veil over his face.
     Let me add one more ingredient to this stew of thoughts I've spilled out here.  As I sat at the table one morning at the house in Alabama built by my grandfather and formerly belonging to my grandmother I was angry.  I was angry because it was "simple that things should be right, and incomprehensible that they weren't."  I fumed because some people could have the audacity and ignorance to do petty and ruthless things.  Then I read this
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
I read this and my exact thoughts were, "Dang it, Jesus.  Really?" Now let me tie this all together.  I would like to say that I am the Moses in my life's story, and maybe sometimes I am, but the truth is that we are, all of us, Israel.  None of us is good.  None of us is righteous.  None of us is holy and the holiness of God should make us tremble.  Suddenly my anger was turned to pity as I realized that I am not as good as I think I am.  The only goodness that I have, the only righteousness I possess, comes from Christ.  Stonewall Jackson was known for reminding friends and family that as angry as we may become at others it is important to remember that they are only still "deceived." Like it or not, and I'm leaning toward not, we are, none of us, so much better than the worst of us as we thought. But enter here the beauty of Christ and His continued work in our lives.

This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone,  but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.- Romans 10
Also note, Bess pleaded the fifth, but you don't have to.  Let me know what you think is the greatest rock song in the comments.  Oh, and if it is not All Along the Watchtower then  I am sorry to inform you, but you are wrong.




Its So Cold in Alaska (Song of the Week)

The Velvet Underground
Back when I was, errrr 16(?) I heard this song barely coming in on Album 88 (thats 88.5 FM if you are anywhere near Atlanta).  I immediately loved it and spent weeks searching for a song with the line "Its so cold in Alaska" since that was all I could remember of the song.  Eventually I (along with a friend) found it and now I deliver it in all of its beauty to you. Enjoy.  Stephanie Says

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Back off man I'm a Scientist (Song of the Week)

Greetings Programs,  Its time for the Song of the week!

Guided By Voices
I Am a Scientist

Unfamiliar with the music of GBV? See below.  Familiar?  See below without delay. Ich Bin Ein Nerd!

video






Saturday, March 19, 2011

War Pigs

Hello Peoples,
  Today found me waking early on yet another Saturday morning.  Unlike the previous Saturday, I was  on my bicycle at 7:45 pedaling about the town.  Houses whizzed by or, if I was going uphill, stood almost still. About halfway through this adventure my body realized that it was awake and, what was more, it was active.  Immediately my mind screamed,"WHERE IS MY COFFEE???!!!!" as it is prone to do when caffeinated bliss is delayed.  I did my best to quiet my waking mind and pedaled on.  Flowers bloomed, birds chirped, and on certain streets there was the pungent smell of stale cigarette smoke hanging heavy in the air.  All in all, it was a nice way to spend an early Saturday morning before the rest of the waking people left their houses.  All of this was powered by the music posted below.

  You might not think this would be a nice soothing way to pedal away an early Saturday morning, but if so  you need to change your way of thinking.

    Yesterday  morning I decided I was tired of standing at the front of a boring old classroom.  The white cement block walls were closing in on me.  Simply add a bed against the wall and a toilet in the corner and it would have felt much like a prison.  So, we went outside.  Don't read too much into this, but as I sat on the low brick wall of a flower bed with my students cross-legged on the ground around me, I felt a little bit like Jesus.  Understand, I am not claiming deity.  I have no Messiah-complex. C.S. Lewis writes that we all have an inherent likeness to God that we have been created with, but what is possibly the nearest to God is that likeness that we have to seek and work at.  Its the likeness to Christ himself here on this earth loving all, giving of Himself, feeding the hungry, that we are really after.  I have always had a hard time being merciful and loving others.  I see these two things ("love and mercy" to quote Brian Wilson) to be inextricably connected.  I like to illustrate my lack of these things by recounting to people a time when, at a summer youth group camp, I took a very long and very detailed "spiritual gifts assessment".  While my gifts were very clear when the numbers came back showing us our strengths, my weaknesses were no less obvious.  My eyes were drawn less to the strengths and more to the -4 (yes, negative four) that I had gotten back in the area of mercy.  Very much bewildered by this,  I approached the person responsible for the "class" (this is not what it was, but it gives you an idea) and showed it to him.  He chuckled (?) and told me not to worry about it and it might just be something that I had to work on.  Oh how right he was.
     When I first began student teaching I wrote in my ST journal, "I have to pray and pray that God will have mercy on me so that I in turn can have mercy on others.  I lack mercy.  I lack love."  That was day one.  Now I am on day number (?), have only one week left, and the situation is much different.  I still have to pray for mercy (both to and from me), but my prayers to God and conversations with Hazel have gone from "I want to love others" to "loving others sucks."  As Hazel pointed out to me recently, "You've spent the last few years closing yourself off to others and keeping yourself from feeling.  Now you love others and its probably a hard adjustment to make."  Thank you Hazel, you are correct.  I've been thinking a lot about this. Its hard loving others.  Its hard caring for my students. When we care for others every piece of us may scream (like my body screamed for caffeine on this morning's bike ride) to retreat to isolation; to find someplace safe.  But Christ came to love the world.  Christ literally poured Himself out for us, and if we are to truly be like Him we must do the same.  As Lewis says in The Four Loves, 
To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries;  avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket-- safe, dark, motionless, airless -- it will change.  It will not be broken;  it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.  The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.  The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all dangers and perturbations of love is Hell. -Lewis p. 121
   I said that I felt like Jesus.  Yesterday, sitting there with my students at my feet, I realized or perhaps caught a glimpse, of the awesomeness and vulnerability of a life spent in relentless pursuit of Christ's example; of a life spent loving others.  The masses at his feet took on new significance in light of the class at mine. I realized that a life lived loving others is a dangerous one. Nothing is ever guaranteed, but as Christ loved us and poured Himself out for us, so must we, Christ's followers, do for those at our own feet.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Marvelous Things

Thus one Need-love, the greatest of all, either coincides with or at least makes a main ingredient in man's highest, healthiest, and most realistic spiritual condition.  A very strange corollary follows.  Man approaches God most nearly when he is least like God.  For what can be more unlike than fullness and need, sovereignty and humility, righteousness and penitence, limitless power and a cry for help?
-C.S. Lewis
    This week we have been watching To Kill A Mockingbird in class.  As predicted, this has been a rather interesting experience.  I have learned a few things through showing this film to my 9th graders which if you would like to know you may find out from me personally as I don't feel like posting them here.  Suffice to say that to today's 9th graders depictions of racism in 1930s rural Alabama are nothing.  The brilliant thing about showing this movie to my Civics class, though I can assure you the brilliance is completely accidental, is that the defense loses. Great!  I'm not racist.  I hate no one and I dislike proportionately.  I'm not saying this is great because bias and hatred win out in the end.  I'm saying its great because it illustrates the need of a court system and not just individual separate courts. My students actually understood the need for appellate courts after watching the movie.  Talk about a great illustration.

  What I absolutely love about this movie, and something that I have  become increasingly obsessed with lately, is the idea of a fight worth fighting even when the logical end says you're going to lose. I love that Atticus knows from the  beginning that he is going to lose the trial.  Granted, he knows they have a better shot in appeal (as he tells Tom Robinson), but that doesn't make him give up the fight in  the beginning.  He argues his heart out knowing that the end is not in his favor. This is so very similar to our lives living for Christ.  In the end, victory is guaranteed.  After all, we have victory in Christ.  But our part in that victory is another story.  Will it be our role to die (figuratively or not) for the later victory or will we fight to the end?  Is it our job to gain glory or walk away humbled?  It is not the end that makes us, it is the middle, the life.  I doubt they did, but I hope my students caught this.

    It has been interesting to note that maturity is not limited to an individual basis.  Maturity also exists on a group basis.  The mature pubescent individual, when placed in a group of immature pubescent individuals, will  become immature.  This happening, the group will protest being treated like small children, stating, despite their actions to the contrary, that they are mature "adults".  I am trying to teach them that as we act, so are we treated.  I tried this in reverse, at first, treating them as adults and expecting them to rise to the challenge.  To some extent some of them did this, but to another extent 9th grade is just a fancy name for 3rd.  Point is, there still needs to be order.  They still need guidelines and to be held to them with consequences for breaking them.  This is consistent with God's own setup in the Garden when he told Adam and Eve to eat from any tree but one.  He gave freedom to grow, while still keeping order in their lives.  It is an interesting thing to note that freedom and structure are both necessary for the spiritual and mental growth of the learner.

    Speaking of spiritual growth, I've been reading C.S. Lewis again. I know, shocking.  I can usually be found with a copy of something by Lewis or Tolkien tucked under my arm or nose.  I love a soft lamp, extremely noisy music, and a book. Add to that our good ol cat Aberforth attacking Hazel across the room and the night is perfect.  I have been realizing A Lot lately, my need for God.  Lewis talks about it in the Four Loves the fact that none of us can say to God, "I don't need you.  I just love you disinterestedly."  and yet that is our goal to harness this need we have of God and to build upon it a love that comes from our admiration of God Himself.  It is not enough to love God because of our need of Him only.  We must love God because of Him.  Granted, lately I am very much in the Need-love phase. Student Teaching will do that to a person. Every day I am made more aware of my need for Him, and yet everyday this need for God makes me aware of how much I love Him beyond that.

    Back to education, I also read in The Four Loves last night, from the chapter Likings and Loves for the Sub-human, "Nature will not verify any theological or metaphysical proposition...To discover God we must make a detour- leave the hills and woods to go back to our studies, to church, to our Bibles, to our knees... our real journey to God involves constantly turning our backs on [nature]."  This is, obviously, about nature, which is completely relevant to me.  I mean, whenever I go to the place where the picture in the background of this blog was taken I say, "God is real.  This proves it."  To my mind though, speaking specifically from where I am in student teaching, it says something else.  You see, I have been trying to teach "Truth" with "truth," which I think is not a bad thing necessarily, but it can only, as Lewis puts it, provide the "content" to put into words the faith that we have.  Lewis goes on to say that without nature and his appreciation/experience of it he would have had no concept of fear of God etc.  This, truth is necessary for my students' understanding of Truth, but it is not, ultimately, enough.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Song of the Week

Greetings Programs, 
  It is Tuesday, and that means its time for the song of the week (see below).  Whats great about this week's song is that the video is directed by Tom Scharpling of Best Show fame.  Perhaps the best advice that has ever been given is, "You don't mess with Tom Scharpling" though that actually may come in second place to "Get off my phone!" Any way, enjoy the tongue in cheek humor and all around awesomeness and look for a more detailed post tomorrow.


p.s. do mine eyes deceive me, or is that Jon Wurster and Ted Leo? Seriously, Donald Glover and Jon Oliver as well?  Is there no end to the star studded chaos of this video?


New Pornographers
Moves

*Best Show fans notice the band names on the radio charts.




Sunday, March 13, 2011

Derezzed



If you know me, you know that I am nothing if not a fanatic for all things Tron. This dates back to when, as a youngster, my sister George and I were staying with family (I believe that Bess was busy being birthed at the time and Curious G was not even thought of) who, in a desperate attempt to get me to sleep said, "Sure, if there's anything that will put a kid to sleep this late at night, its Tron!" Oh how wrong they were. What makes this first viewing of Tron even more awesome to me is the fact that it was on lazer disc. How awesome is that? Really freaking awesome. So, in honor of that, and in anticipation of the dvd/blue ray release next month see the following videos each as awesome as the one before. Oh and lest I forget, thank you to the previously mentioned family for their desperate attempt to get me to go to sleep. Now, on to the videos!



















Friday, March 11, 2011

Spanish Air

Greetings Programs,
  Today is Friday and that means many things.  It means that I will, at the end of today, have only two weeks of full time teaching left.  It means that we will be one day closer to the Sabbath.  It also means that we can all kick back and enjoy the 2 days that we have spent 5 days earning.  Thank God for our worker friendly capitalist society! This weekend will see Hazel and myself visiting with friends and family under the umbrella tree.  Very exciting indeed, especially as I have not seen Curious George in person since early-mid January (though he has enjoyed the fact that he has been a regular feature on the Strange family television through the wonders of Skype), and I have the pleasure of drinking coffee with Bess tomorrow.  I'm not sure that she knows about it, or that she will be drinking coffee either, but I suppose I could stand  her drinking a latte (gag).  What is the purpose of latte?  The only people who drink lattes are those who would like to be coffee drinkers, but lack the constitution to actually become coffee drinkers. Oh, and girls.  Girls drink latte.   Did I mention that I will only have 2 weeks of full time teaching left?  This weekend will also see the beginning of White Shoe College's annual Spring Break, a week where we can all breathe a sigh of relief and say a temporary "good riddance" to those gosh darned college kids.
 
  Next week will begin the 9th grade academy Civics class viewing of To Kill A Mockingbird.  I don't mean to make assumptions, but considering that some of my students got visibly angry over an excerpt from the ruling on Brown v. BOE (despite the fact that it ended for the best), showing this movie is going to be, well, an experience. Check back to find out just what kind of experience it is. 

 Last week  I had the hometown depression mentality spoken to me aloud.  A student said, and i quote, "I'm tired of trying and trying.  I've been just trying for 15 years and I've never been able to do anything."  Wow. And now the question for myself and all of you reading this is, what do we do about this?  I find that we christians are great at sending money or taking trips to other places to help the lost, but we are blind to the lost right here.  We are quicker to attribute things to "the way things are" than to a need for Christ.

Now in honor of the weekend:






Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New J.Mascis Album

Hello Peoples.  Happy rainy hump day.  In just a few days J. Mascis will be putting out his new acoustic folk album.  Talk about a different direction than his previous Dinosaur Jr. stuff.  Listen to the full album below.

J Mascis - Several Shades of Why by subpop

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Song of the Week

The Halo Benders
Don't Touch My Bikini

The song speaks for itself.  Just remember, looking is free but touchins gonna cost you somethin.

Arrangements of Shape and Space

    Some things that I have found out recently:


     Yesterday, I found out that if you 1) try to fill your cup with water from the filter like this...






and 2) walk away while the water is pouring, 3) it may end up like this...


Yes, it may seem obvious, but I can assure you that to me it was not. At least it wasn't before I heard the sound of a "kaploosh."  To make matters worse,  after cleaning it up I refilled the cup with water and began to tell Hazel about it, all the while ignorant of the fact that the cup had broken and water was pouring out of the bottom and onto the newly dried floor.

     I also found out at 7:00 a.m. on the dot this morning that if you leave that same cup filled with water on the table beside the bed, Aberforth (the cat) is sure to knock it over.  The funny thing about this morning was that at the moment that he knocked it over I was dreaming that I was very thirsty.  Coincidence?  Probably.  My next thought after opening my eyes was, "My God, the Lord of the Rings is lying on the floor beside the bed!"  
You can see where my priorities lie (on the floor beside my bed near the spilled water).  As you can imagine, after the rush to clean the water before it got to Frodo and his journey to destroy the Ring I found it just a little bit hard to fall back to sleep on what should have been a rainy, sleep filled Saturday morning.  Sleeping in was just not in the cards. It seems like sleeping in general is less and less in the cards recently.  Here is a moment of complete honesty:  For the last 3 weeks I have consistently been plagued with nightmares.  They  have been happening on a nightly basis. I have found myself waking up so tense and anxious because of the thoughts of teaching the next day that I have literally felt like vomiting.  So when I made my way to the living room on Saturday, it was a rather defeated Mr. Strange and one who wanted sleep who began instead, to read his Bible.  
   
  I don't know how you are about Bible reading, but I do know how I am.  I get up, make breakfast, do my Bible study, skim the verses/chapters, move on, watch the news. I do this everyday before heading to work.  If I had a newspaper and a cane I would fit in wonderfully at any local early morning dining establishment.  But this Saturday, I really read.  I sat down on the floor and read from the Psalms for three full hours, and it broke my heart. 

     I read verses like Psalm 3:5 which says, "I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me." and thought, who am I to be stressed out while I sleep?  Seriously, if David found enough comfort in the Lord to sleep well at night, who am I not to? Who am I to attempt anything on my own strength? I also read verse upon verse contrasting David and his archenemies - the scoffers.  David had a pure heart; his enemies had hardened theirs.  David believed in the Lord;  the enemies believed in their  hearts that there is no God.  Suddenly, it hit me that long ago I ceased to be a David and began to be a scoffer.  I wrote in the blog  the other day that I had realized how important it is that our faith be followed by action. This is very true.  The church can no longer be effective if this is forgotten.  Our faith should not be followed with action, it must be.  On Saturday, all of that was flipped around on me.  Seriously, turned upside down to show me how important it is that our action follows from faith. I remember, my first year working at Camp Hope (heavy weights reference) my room mate and I were constantly called into the director's office.  What did we do that resulted in us being called in and scolded so often?  Nothing.  We did everything that he asked of us and more. The problem was that our attitudes and our hearts were wrong.  While our actions were right, our hearts were not.  It was not until we both changed our attitudes and our hearts that the three of us were able to work in unity and accomplish great things. Our actions were not enough.  A few years ago, I turned from God.  You may not have seen it.  I know that I didn't.  It was not a case of action against God (more a case of inaction), it was a change of beliefs. I decided that all that matters is here and now and that it is up to me to accomplish as much as possible while I am  here.  To some extent that may be true, but  I had been in despair for the last couple of years because my focus had centered in completely on this life, here and now.  I was  told that there was virtue in selfishness, but all that selfishness is, is self worship. My faith requires action? Yes, but my action must come from a pure heart.
Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.-Psalm 17:3



Friday, March 4, 2011

Classroom Management With Jeff Tweedy

   One of my classes was plagued with chatter yesterday. End of the world. I'm used to a little bit of it behind my back occasionally, but this was in front of my face.  Despite my nearing constant admonishments to "Please be quiet," "Sshhh," and even one of the famous "Zip it"s, the class could not refrain from what I thought at first was only gossip, but later turned out to be a combination of gossip and random noises.  When I had finally had enough I took a lesson from Jeff Tweedy and decided that if we could not learn and participate as a class, we could be silent and stare awkwardly as a class.  After a minimum of five minutes of total silence I restarted the lesson without further incident.  That's actually not totally true.  I had to move a couple of people to more isolated sections of the classroom, but things went a lot better.  For a hint of what this was like watch the video below. DISCLAIMER:  there is some language so please, if you watch it, keep away tiny ears.

Mr. Strange Needs A Name
  It was brought to my attention recently through someone who has yet to be named (no relation to He Who Shall Not Be Named or You Know Who) that I have no pseudo first nym.  And I ask you, how could I sit idly by whilst my four (4) readers are in agony to know my name? Answer: I could not.  So, I have decided to let you my four (4) readers choose the name for me.  Here's the deal:  If you have an idea for a first name you can write it in the comments section of this post.  Once several names have been suggested they will be placed in a poll for you, my four (4) readers, to vote on.  The winning name may be made my first name and the winner may get a mix cd made by me, Mr. Strange. What could be better?  Many things! So come on peoples, start naming.




*Please, if you know my real name, refrain from suggesting it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Those Evil Natured Robots

     Every day when I get stressed (and every day I do get stressed), I do two things.  First, I take a Tylenol.  Second, I start hearing the voice of Wayne Coyne in my mind (no, I'm not crazy) singing Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots part 1.  The line, "Oh Yoshimi, they don't believe me/ But you won't let those robots eat me" is oddly soothing in the middle of my day.  This fantastic song about evil pink robots making war on mankind reassures me.  No matter how tough my day gets, I'm not going to be defeated.Or maybe I am, but if so, the fight is worth fighting.

  Psalm of the Day
"How long, LORD? Will you utterly forget me? How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I carry sorrow in my soul, grief in my heart day after day? How long will my enemy triumph over me?  Look upon me, answer me, LORD, my God! Give light to my eyes lest I sleep in death,  Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed," lest my foes rejoice at my downfall.  I trust in your faithfulness. Grant my heart joy in your help, That I may sing of the LORD, "How good our God has been to me!" Psalm 13
  Certain siblings and I, actually it may just run in our entire family, have always been very suspicious of people who are always happy.  I don't mean joyful or smiling.  I mean full on June Cleaver nothing-has-ever-been-or-ever-will-be-wrong-in-the-world-it-has-never-rained-the-sun-has-always-shone-care-bears-sesame-street-tele-tubbies-buckets-of-ice-cream-happy-happy-happy-fun-times people.  To these people I often quote the wisdom of the Dread Pirate Roberts, "Life is pain.  Anyone who says otherwise is selling you something."   I think that David would agree with me.  This morning I read this Psalm where David was feeling overwhelmed by the struggles of life, but he ended with praising God because he had faith in the Lord's goodness.  I also read a quote from Edith Stein saying, "Do you want to be totally united to the Crucified? If you are serious about this, you will be present, by the power of His Cross, at every front, at every place of sorrow, bringing to those who suffer, healing and salvation.”  Serving God is not comfortable, but it is good.  It is good because it brings us exactly where we need to be: on our knees and resting on the strength of God.

     In other news, I was informed by a patron of my local coffee establishment that the world is ending.  That's right, the signs have come about, the stars have aligned, the messages have been made evident here on earth that the apocalypse is upon us and the world is over.  Hell fire and brimstone!  I was astonished by this news.  Maybe you won't agree with me in my opinion that the world has been ending (end times) for quite a while now, but I think that you can all join in my skepticism of yet another claim that the anti-christ is here and the world is about to explode. No, its not even skepticism about that. Its more of a fatigue of theories on the end of the world resulting in closeted discussions and paranoia. Granted, with the middle east being in the situation that it is,  the world actually might explode, but that's not what he was talking about.  My question though, for this person and for myself, is if we really believe that the world is ending why are we only standing around discussing the details among ourselves and not going out to make sure that the world is ready for it?  This question has made me come to two conclusions. Either we don't really believe what we say we believe, which would result in action, or we don't really love the way we say that we love, which would also result in action. Either possibility is frightening. Does anyone really believe anything anymore?  Do I really believe anything anymore? If I believe something it should be evident in the things that I do.  Thoughts are not enough. Belief also takes action.  I think that for a long time I haven't believed anything other than the current song on my ipod, the movie on the television, or the latest Braves game.  I've been awfully comfortable and it is hard to really believe anything when you are comfortable.  Maybe its student teaching (which has made me very uncomfortable) and the fact that my faith has finally been put back into practice, but I think that finally I am beginning to believe again. I'm understanding the need to put actions behind my words and thoughts. I would like to say that I am completely 100% happy with this, but I'm not.  I hate it.  I feel pain everyday for the lostness of the world and of my students.  A very large part of me wants to go back to my couch where I can write papers at the last minute, drink coffee for energy that I won't use, and read about people I don't care about.  I've realized though, that I can't do that.  I care about my students and the people around me.  God has placed me on the front lines for the next couple of months of student teaching at least and I am overwhelmed by it, but I am on my  knees and it is good.

But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.-James 2:18

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

I Will Slash You With My Light Saber, Evil Sith

  Sorry for the lack of updates over the past week.  Its been nothing short of exhausting these last few days and I haven't really had time for anything but student teaching.  I know this is naive but I thought going into it that it was going to be a breeze.  What I have found has been quite the opposite. I'm not complaining.  I'm merely expressing my feelings toward the thing that takes up most of my time lately.  Conclusion: Teaching = Great; Student Teaching = Suck.
  
     To help counter these feelings of negativity I have decided to take up cycling.  Why?  Because I hate running.  Seriously, what could be worse than running for the sake of running?  Nothing.  In everything I do I try my best to subscribe to the philosophy of real-life Fonzie, Roland Gorchnick.  He says, "The number one rule to being cool is to never run anywhere.  Ever.  If you are really cool, whatever you are running to can wait for you."  What better advice could be given?  I mean, just last night I was working at the ol' Coffee Shop and there went some dumb college students running by and let me tell you, they were not cool, no sir.  If you need more convincing, think of this.  Would you ever see Lou Reed running?  I imagine not (even if he did have a song called Run Run Run).  You know who did run?  Bruce Springsteen ran when he played the Super Bowl Half Time Show a couple of years ago, and if you saw the results of it you know that he went hobbling all the way back to the Steel Mill.

     Now it is time to become honest with you.  The real reason that I'm not going to run is that my sister is a runner already and the bar is just too high.  Plus, Hazel has recently informed me that there is some level of sibling rivalry between George and myself.  I don't buy into this, but the evidence goes something like this...

        George: "Wa Wa Wa Wa Wa"

        Me: "I don't want a  baby sister"

         Me:  "Oooooh, George can paint.  bla bla bla"

         George:  "Oooooh, Mister Strange can talk.  Everyone likes Mister Strange.  bla bla bla"

          Me: "Oooooh, George runs.  I'm going to bike. bla bla bla"

There you have it.  The sibling rivalry of the Strange siblings according to Hazel.  On the subject of the Strange siblings, I really miss George.  The team of the older Stranges is estranged.  Absence doesn't necessarily make the heart grow fonder, but it does make communication a lot harder.  George, I hope you are having a great time on Mars and if you want a cd from me, I'm going to need a souvenir of Mars from you.  You know what I want and I expect you to bring one to me. No excuses.

      All of this thinking about the older Strange siblings got me thinking about the younger Strange siblings as well.  They are a very special pair who, whether they know it or not, both have me wrapped around their fingers.  If Hazel wants sibling rivalry etc. here is a fictional sample of one of their typical conversations as I hear them from my end of the phone:
     
        Bess:  Curious George,*  lets go play outside/play lego starwars/ mess with each other/ leave each other alone/ignore each other.

        Curious George: I will slash you with my light saber evil Sith.

All of this is to say, I have decided to start cycling so please, stay toward the middle of the lane when you see me on the road.  Thank you.






*Yes, I have a sister named George and a brother named Curious George. If you find this odd, talk to our parents who had sole responsibility for naming us when we were born.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hazel Would

 Last night I was free of work. Brilliant.  I worked very hard while at the school so that I wouldn't have to bring work home.  The only question left to me when I got  home was what to do with all of that free time.  The whole world seemed open to me.  After all, I had the whole night to do whatever my heart desired.  So, what did I do with all of that time, you ask?  I watched American Idol.  Would I normally watch American Idol?  No, but Hazel would.

   Let me tell you about Hazel and myself. I watch films and read books that make me think about life, the universe, and everything.  Hazel watches movies and reads books that make her warm and feel happy.  I listen to music that has the immediate effect of turning away new listeners.  Hazel listens to Justin Bieber and the soundtracks to Glee (I tried.  I swear I did, but I still don't get Glee).  What must this relationship be like between two people with such divergent interests, you may again ask yourself.  Let me tell you.  It could not be more perfect.

My dear sister (we'll call this one George) commented recently that hearts are naturally cold and that ears are naturally deaf.  This is true, but it is not how they were meant to be.  Our hearts were created to be warm and our ears were given to us to hear God's calling to us in the Garden to come and walk with Him.  I believe our whole lives are spent, successfully or unsuccessfully, in an attempt to warm our hearts and awaken our deaf ears. It reminds me of the house that Hazel and I lived in during our first two years of marriage.  This house (almost more of a cottage) was in what could perhaps be the most picturesque setting imaginable for a newly wed couple with one person still in college.  It was awesome.  It was hemmed in by woods, hills, and two tiny creeks toward the back, side, and front of the house.  During the summer time it was the sort of cozy place that would put you to sleep instantly when you came home from work because it was so relaxing.  During the winter however, it was cold.  All of the elements that made the house so beautiful during the spring and summer combined (with a lack of insulation) to make this house the coldest house on earth.  We would walk in during the day and see our breath in the air in front of our faces.  Scientists will tell  you that heat rises, but I can tell you that it seemed as if the cold rose constantly through the floor boards.  And all that Hazel and I had was a tiny space heater.  We longed, and I mean longed for warmth to the point that (and certain readers may remember this) we would sit directly in front of the space heater (which kind of burns, in case you didn't know) just to get warm.

     Life is cold, the world is painful, and it all just serves to make us more keenly aware of our desire for warmth that can only come from Christ who has been made a perfect intercessor because he is a priest forever.  When seen through that lens, even pain  (and it seems like the Strange family has had plenty of it over the last year) becomes another brilliant reminder of the love of Christ.  Seriously, and I wish that I had thought of  this years ago, what sharper reminder of our need for Christ than the pain of absence.  Even death, which is a curse, becomes instead for us a blessing because it introduces us to a new life hereafter and reminds us of our life here now.

What does this all have to do with Hazel?  She is a space heater.  Where I am cold, Hazel is warm. Hazel brings light and goodness to the world.  I see Christ daily, because I see Hazel.  She feels Christ's love where I often have a head knowledge of it.  Hazel is the heart of our home. She makes me praise God everyday even when I want to curse the world.  So let me tell you about Hazel.  She is incredible.



Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Fortune Inside My Head

  Every morning I leave my apartment to head to the school just as the sun is beginning to rise over the hills around the ol' duplex.  And every morning I pray, "Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun.  Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen." I have prayed these words from the Book of Common Prayer every day for the last few months. One might think that such repetition would dull the thought and meaning behind the words.  In my case, one would be wrong.  The constant repetition has served to enhance the fervor with which I pray.  I have always been one of those who sporadically prays for things.  I have always been pretty vigilant about praying consistently, but I have never been consistent in what I pray.  When I pray "Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you" it takes on more meaning than my other, more random prayers, because I'm not just praying, "let my soul rise up to meet you today."  What I'm really praying  is "Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you today, just as yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that."  This prayer has become such a part of my daily routine that it is not just a today thing.  It is a life thing.  Its "Let my life be yours everyday and may I always bring glory to you!"  This is probably clear as mud. What I'm beginning to realize, for maybe the first time fully, is that I have always had such a day-to-day faith that I never realized what a daily faith would look like.  I've spent so much of my time living step by step (which is good and necessary and we should have our eyes on the present) but I neglected the fact that life does not begin and end from day to day, it is constant.  We have to look at each day as a day to continue to seek God and glorify Him, rather than just a way to start fresh.  The work that we begin one day must continue the next. So, when I pray my morning prayer, I'm praising God for the continuous work that He does and not only the new work that He is beginning (as wonderful as that work can be). 
  With all of this in mind, (there is one of my favorite mid-paper lines) the beginning of my day serves as a stark contrast with the way that I feel that the rest of my day goes.  Maybe its just that I'm a new student-teacher, or maybe you can identify with this too, but Jeff Tweedy summed up the way I feel about my days and myself lately. 


Forgive me if I quote too much, but Jeff Tweedy's lyrics have a way of summing up my moods.  This is what a favorite band should do, you  know?  They should be like a best friend-the one you go to when things are great and when things are down.  Thats what Wilco is, musically, for me.  Now to the reason that I'm writing...


"There's a fortune inside your head/ But all you touch turns to lead/ You think you might just crawl back in bed/ With that fortune  inside  your head"
  And there you have it, folks.  My thoughts every morning as I get in my car and head to work, and my thoughts every afternoon when i leave it. I praise God every day, and every day I seek to, through the passing of knowledge and understanding, equip my students to find God themselves.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to corrupt them or be a secret agent for Jesus like certain institutions of higher education have tried to influence me to do.  I believe that all truth is God's truth and if the students can find truth, hopefully, they can eventually find God.   However, every time I try to instruct them (with the "fortune inside my head") it falls flat (all I "touch turns to lead") and I feel like the knowledge that I have of history, government, and God gets flushed due to my seeming inability to communicate it effectively to a class full of students.  I know they "have a God-shaped hole" (another Wilco reference), but I don't know how to help them fill it.  Romans 10:14 says, "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?"  I would like to ask, how do they learn if they refuse to hear and if they refuse to understand? If my students refuse to hear it, can the truth still affect them?  Can the message of truth still be effective even if the messenger is not? I fall so much when I'm trying to stand up right.  So far, my own deficiencies have been both disturbing and a nice reminder of the goodness of Christ and his supremacy over our weaknesses. With this I will leave you with the words of T.S. Eliot and a reminder that everything will work out because its pizza night at the Strange house and "you still love rock and roll" (yet another Wilco reference from the same song).



   If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.





Wednesday, February 9, 2011

American Aquarium Drinkers

It is in human nature that we are created to learn. We learn from everything. In every event, observation, experience, sight, and sound, we are continuously learning. We learn like we breathe. In the song I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, by Wilco, Jeff Tweedy begins by singing, “I am an American aquarium drinker” (Tweedy, 2000). Though it seems pretty obvious that this is at the least an allusion to alcoholism, if we take the phrase out of context (yes I know, this is one of the 7 undeadly sins) there is plenty of truth that we can glean from it. Fish breathe water, which is the stuff they swim in. They take everything from around them and suck it in. Similarly, everything around us teaches us something. We are, essentially, “American aquarium drinkers” in that everything, from “truth, justice, and the American way,” to the music that we listen to and the people with which we converse, teaches us something. With this in mind, what if all the people we talk to are like us? What if they are all self absorbed asses? Food for thought.


Soaking up, integrating, synthesizing, and storing up knowledge for our present and future good is as natural to us as breathing in air to our lungs. We can't help but do it. It is both a conscious, (i.e. studying for a test), and an unconscious (i.e. reading a billboard while driving) action of our minds. It is also one of our deepest needs. According to Miles Stanford, in his book The Green Letters, “Now it so happens that God’s basic ingredient for growth is need. Without personal needs, we would get nowhere in our Christian life. The reason our Father creates and allows needs in our lives is to turn us from all that is outside of Christ, centering us in Him alone. ‘Not I but Christ’” (Stanford, 1975). We, as humans, are like sponges with a need for soaking in from all that we touch. It is through this that we create, explore, and search for ultimate meaning and ultimately look for knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord. Like a sponge, when squeezed, when pressed to action, thought, or deed, what comes out but that which we have breathed in, absorbed, and learned. Learning is not an option. With this in mind, it becomes clear how important what we learn is. Proverbs 1:5 says, Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance” (NIV). Deuteronomy 4:10 says, “Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, "Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children" (NIV). Still again, Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (NIV). We may not be able to filter out everything that we would or should, but we can decide on the knowledge on which we focus our learning.

In her notes on Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand makes the statement, “Second, man is a being with free will; therefore, each man is potentially good or evil, and it’s up to him and only to him (through his reasoning mind) to decide which he wants to be...it is not (and cannot be) the primary concern of any other human being” (Rand, 1957). I would disagree with this on a number of levels. First off, while we agree that man has free will, we can also see that he cannot be either good or evil. Man is fallen and sinful. The proof of this lies in passages such as Ephesians 2:3, “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath” (NIV), and Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (NIV). W see here that man is sinful and fallen as explained in Scripture. Christians will, probably, also disagree with her assertion that man is responsible for decisions only to himself. Like Father Zossima says in The Brothers Karamazov, "We are all responsible to all, for all." There are other parts of this statement that we could disagree with as well, but we will agree with the central meaning that each person has a choice. A person must decide, as Joshua said in the book of Joshua, “whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15 KJV). It is the nature of learning that we must make a choice to see the truth and when we see the truth to act on it. "There are many people who reach their conclusions about life like schoolboys: they cheat their master by copying the answer out of a book without having worked the sum out for themselves." (Kierkegaard, 1992)