Monday, October 31, 2011

Theological Trick or Treat

A little palate cleanser for you.  I'll try to post on family Halloween antics and shenanigans and all that stuff later on, but I came across this little video and was compelled to share.

I would guess that the majority of people that bother with our blog are Christian, as we ourselves are.  I'd also guess that most if not every one of you, have at least heard of Lewis's Trilemma.  It was popularized by theologian and writer C. S. Lewis and goes something like this:  Lunatic, Liar, or Lord.  It means simply that Jesus of Nazareth made claims about himself so unheard of, so profound, so magnificent, that he was either (a) completely crazy (b) perpetrating an incredible hoax, or that (c) he is precisely who he says he is.

Now, you can believe that or not.  The trilemma's Wikipedia entry falls all over itself to present reasons why the idea's absurd.

And what about a fourth option added by some modern scholars?  Legend.  How do we know that followers of Jesus didn't simply make everything up?  Did Christians add dubious stories over the centuries since Jesus lived?  How can we know the Gospels are reliable at all?

Majestad and I have been trying to finalize the girly-girl's name.  You dig through books, you look at lists of popular names by decade, by country or language of origin.  The names are usually ranked by popularity.  You even wander through your family trees looking for particularly slick family names.  (I've quit pointing out to H.M. that the new name would by definition become a family name, but whatever.  I just work here.) 

Choosing names is the prerogative of every parent.  Some do it carefully and well.  Some give out painfully boring handles.  Others saddle their kids with ridiculous, acid-trippy ones with superfluous "Y"s or unintentionally hilarious initials.  Similarly, fiction writers get to pick their character names.  And that's where this video comes in.

If you yourself were to cook up characters for a new novel about a certain place and time and culture, would you get the names just right?  I mean, would they be used in correct proportion?  Would your geography be accurate?  The food?  The law of the land and its subtle politics?  Dr. Peter Williams would like to let you in on some powerful new evidence, especially about the proper names in the New Testament.

The clip is just under an hour long.  Okay, DO NOT sissy out because of the length.  It's extremely engaging and understandable, and you've likely never heard anything on the reliability of the Gospels quite like this.  So that's the 'treat' I have for you... and if you're a believer, it's required viewing.  (Yes, I went there.)  Enjoy.

Not convinced, are you?  Most of you won't be.  The overwhelming majority of folks won't bother.  Because most of you have things that you rate as more important, as more urgent.  Places to go.  Appointments.  Kids filling bathrooms 3 inches deep with water.  I completely understand.  And I'm certainly not here to nag, or to be the village scold.  I'm just some fool dad blogger, after all.

But not bothering...  not taking the time to know, truly, for yourself alone, as a layperson (i.e. non-'clergy'), is why we're losing the knowledge war in churches today, and losing it badly.

And that's the 'trick,' isn't it?

(UPDATE:  I've added the Q&A, which comments on another important question or two.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Mountain Yak, Part II

Continued from Part I:

(Special thanks to my wifey wife for letting me cheat off her notes.  Straight up, I didn't remember doing half this stuff.)
Okay, to review:  We started out nice and bumpy, with chilrun covered in dried yakkity-yak and nauseous pregnant girls picking assorted er, stuff out of hair in the bathtub at 5:45 am.  We burned the two hours before the rescheduled flights by watching The Little Mermaid.

Majesty was good enough to point out that Jack pretended to be a puppy dog for the entire two hours of wait time (his "Jack the DAHWG" alter ego).   It was like we'd released a psyched shih tzu loose in a movie theater.  The kid did great on the flights and passed clean out in mid-takeoff during our second leg flight.  H.M. says The New Kid apparently loved flying, and that she was dancing and doing flips the whole trip.  Maybe we've got another good traveler on our hands.

On the first official family hike since circa 2009, Jack did very well.  We hiked methodically about 4 1/2 miles and he was a real pro.  Keep in  mind, 4 1/2 miles in 3 year old mileage is like hiking from L.A. to New York.  Roughly.  Uncle Jesse, NaFANiel and Elijah saw a BEAWH!  He was booking it through the forest and across our trail so fast that none of the rest of us oblivious tourists saw it.  Good thing, too; would've been my 3rd sighting in about 2 years.  I don't want to fool around with math that will eventually go against me, bigtime.  Oh, and Jack really bonded with his big boy cousins.  Had a blast hanging out with them on the trail and otherwise.

We hit a little snag on the the 2nd family hike.  Jack yanked his own card and said he was done virtually the moment we stepped onto the trail.  Snacks didn't work.  The allure of chocolate didn't faze him.  He cried and fussed and issued typewritten threats via his attorney (he couldn't get cell service to CPS).  As a last resort, I let him ride the elephant until the elephant's neck and shoulders were screaming.  Then, in a stroke of pure, Wile E. Coyote genius, I emptied the venerable blue backpack and we strapped him in there like a 36.5 lb iron dumbbell (the luggage scale at the check-in desk isn't just for looks).


Lessons:  You'll allow your wife to convince you convince yourself that child carrier backpack thingy from years past needs to stay down in storage after your sprog hits 3.  Because y'know, they're too big to ride in there.  They'll get bored.  They won't like it.  You.  Are.  Mistaken.  GRAVELY mistaken.  Take that sucker.  Pay the airline the extra 827 clams to check it.  Do whatever you have to do, but get it on the silly plane. Personally, I'm taking that pack along until the chilrun are about 19.  Because let's face it dads, you never really know who'll need to be carried up the mountain.  And down it.  And back to the car.  And over to the potty.  And back to the cabin.

I'm expecting to strap Majestad into that thing someday.  Heck, if things go my way, a hulking, 6'6" Jack will carry me up trails in it.  That's where this whole thing is headed.

Anyway, even if I wasn't, H.M. was pleased Jack was up in the makeshift carrier.  There were ahem, allegedly some pretty steep drop offs that perked up her motherly Spidey-sense.  The hike itself was worth it, and ended with a really neat waterfall.  Poppa egged Jack on to get in the water... accompanied by guess who.  I'm usually not a squish about cold water, but let me just say, about 2.9 seconds in that water and it felt like several ice picks were being driven through my feet.  Jack made absolutely no indication of pain.  Showoff.

He clambered up the big boulders at the falls while we gave him as much supervision as was possible.  And H.M., at 5 1/2 months pregnant, didn't hike fast, but kept up really well.  The hike back, and the interminable hill I carted Jack up on the way back just about ended me.  You wanna induce a heart attack get in instant shape?  Strap your kid to your back and hit the stair climber.  Sheeshkabob.

We stayed in and played in the cabin the next few days as it rained and some cooler weather pushed through the area.  Jack collected neon colored leaves, and threw rocks in the pond.

I'm told he thoroughly enjoyed playing in the hot tub with Poppa, reading with Bebe and spinning quarters (?) with Aunt Gena.  I think I was out one of these days trying to kill myself on a hike.

We went to Cade's Cove one day, which is very touristy, but still a must-see.  Most of the original white settlers to the region lived in the Cove.  Jack loved this and didn't mind temps in the low 40s in the slightest.  We had a picnic out in one of the deserted meadows down the hill and behind the old white Primitive Baptist church building.  Afterward, Jack got in there and lead our group (and some passing strangers) in singing, prayer and he even preached a brief sermon.  Majesty says she used to go there in the summers with Bebe and Poppa so its sort of fun to see Jack there now.  Continuity is an amazing thing.

We visited quite a few old home-places with (very old) original log cabins and barns.  Jack had a supreme blast going in them and climbing the old handmade ladders.  He especially liked the corn cribs, probably because we couldn't easily get him out of those.  Wildlife was everywhere, with lots of deer and turkeys and even a couple of bear cubs.  Some idiots were about 30 feet from the cubs getting pictures.  They seemed not to worry about where mama bear might be lurking.  It's one thing to ignore danger, but these folks acted as if they were at the zoo.  We skipped the Darwin Award(s) waiting to happen and got outta there.
The morning we left for home, it was 35 degrees near the GSM.  The moment I got out of the car in Houston, three mosquitoes swarmed me and bit the fire out of my forearms.  It was 82 and sunny.

It's a weird way to say welcome back.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Mountain Yak, Part I

Yeah, yeah, so I missed a week.  I was busy.  I was actually busy in an entirely different state, one with legitimate, discernible seasons.  And (live) trees that were red, orange, shocking yellow and this deep purple, winey color.  And mountains.  Real deal mountainous mountains.

I let some of the more adventurous (and sadistic) in-laws talk me into hiking to the top of a few of them, too.  My knee wasn't too happy about that, but peer pressure says you gotta go up, and up I went.  In so doing, I burned up most of the marital capital I had accrued over the summer to hike up to the AT and nap on a Thermarest in (melting) snow with my bare feet in the sun.  But dude, there was a mighty steep toll to get there.

Like say, a yakstravaganza:

We packed up and prepared to skip town bright and early one Saturday.  Everything was ready.  I mean everything.  We were going to walk out the door in 5 minutes, and had planned on eating a proper breakfast during our layover in Dallas.  The bags were in the truck, and I was waiting downstairs with a tremendous caffeine buzz.  Great Smoky Mountains, here we come.

Then I hear Majesty yell, "Jack is sick!" from his room and I rush up there.  In the darkness, all I can see are spatters of red all over the bed (and uh, Jack).  It looks just like blood.  I mean, just like it.  Great.  An axe murderer has chopped up my son into carpaccio.  Really great.  Or he's been juggling with my carving knives.  But no, thankfully (?!) we've got yak everywhere.  It has to be what, 1,000 to 1 odds that he'd get sick the morning of the big family vacation, right?

Lessons:  Grape tomatoes look all innocent and cute sitting there in the produce section, twittering at you in little voices that they may not be as big as a regular tomato, but their flavor sure is, buster.  Know this:  those shiny red little suckers have a sinister side.  And apparently that side is unmasked when you eat about 6 pounds of them along with your breakfast-for-dinner.

Thanks to my double super secret weapon flight app, I'm on the phone to American in minutes.  They gleefully extract an easy $150 for rearranging our flights and I was glad to pay it.  So we sit there watching The Little Mermaid with a (now generally clean) Jack sitting on a beachtowel on the sofa.  Y'know, just in case this ain't "over" over.  The disgusting load of bedclothes in the laundry room spins and hums.

But hey, watching TLM with a caffeine high is delightful.  Sebastian?  Pretty darn talented.  It does bug me that King Triton is that ripped at his age.  Does he pump weights with the bullion that falls to the sea floor?  And the Sea Witch reminds me of my fourth grade math teacher, no kidding. 

I've lost all notion of what I was talking about.

Oh yeah, we did make it to the mountains, with no more er, projections from Jack.  He was in great spirits on the flights up there.  To celebrate, we stopped for some authentic, local, mountain-type food.  The kind the Indians and first settlers to the area would have enjoyed...

Homemade fudge.

(Going native is delicious.  Don't let any fool tell you otherwise.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Tinkerjack Strikes Back

Only have time for a short note this week.

Jack keeps on developing new nicknames for himself.  Naturally, he wants to remain anonymous to protect himself from reprisals from the folks that run this joint.  Like, well, us.  This week's noms de guerre were inspired by Peter Pan:  "Jack Pan," "Captain Jack" (knew that one might show itself someday) and my personal favorite... Tinkerjack.

The swordfighting schtick from Pan is pretty funny these days - Jack er, Jack Pan shrieks out "Dis time you've gone too fahwh!" as we duel furiously with red and blue plastic golf clubs (note club pic below).  Luke and Vader, eat your hearts out.  If it means anything to you, The Sprog insists on wielding the red lightsaber golf club sword.  Coincidence?  Methinks not.

 This one demands a little explanation.  The babyproofing in the house is now almost totally compromised.  Even the single cylinder deadbolt I put in a week or two back probably won't withstand the Named Storm and his drill.  And yes, that is my three year old using fake powertools to gain access to dangerous chemicals.

Beatles.  Seatbelts.

Coming soon to an alphabet near you.
Oh yeah.  Majesty heard Jack calling "Julio" on the phone this week.  The "phone" these days is usually the hose sprayer on the kitchen faucet that looks surprisingly like a early 20th century phone earpiece.  Thank you for that, Mary Poppins.  Anyway, H.M. wasn't able to hear much of the conversation.  "It sounded big," she said.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I promised Majesty a more serious post this week.  I said my thoughts were still very scattered and unorganized about this whole new baby DURL thing.  They still are, to the point of being unintelligible.  But I have this week's post to er, post and you people evidently have some spare time to burn.  So we're stuck in this thing together, aren't we?

The events of the past few months have made me realize a few things.  For instance, that I enjoy the slow surprise of it all.  You never know all at one time how your life will turn out.  You get glimpses, clues, and sometimes, like last week, definitive information that colors and changes your understanding of what your future can be.  I very much like how life unfolds one square at a time, like a great big topographical map.  We see a bit more of what's ahead of us on each sunlit square.  Some places you've been to already, but most you can only imagine.

And that's the really jarring part of finding out you're going to be a parent again.  And of being told what flavor the kid is, or any really big news you hear.  I'm suddenly (G0d willing) not going to be the parent of an only child.  We're going to have a few, now (again, G0d willing).  And that's a very different future image to project in one's mind.

Is any of this making sense?

Let's have another try.  Leonardo da Vinci is said to have toted the Mona Lisa around with him for years.  He reportedly tinkered with the portrait off and on, and lamented in later life that he never finished it (or really any of his other works, for that matter).

We all have an image of ourselves.  And the 'big' events of life (and sometimes even the small ones) shape that image.  It's being updated and adjusted continually.  Maybe it's just a brushstroke here or there.  But there's really no way to predict exactly what will change over time, or how the portrait might look afterwards.  Furthermore, I believe that different artists can be at work on that image concurrently:  we ourselves, our friends and family, our circumstances, our enemies, and even - hopefully - God, Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  As you might imagine, some artists do a better job than others.

Anyway, I'm delighted by the reshaping of that image of ourselves.

Another obvious point this brings up is that it's a very good thing that life reveals itself slowly because we generally have time to cope with the changes, good or bad.

So I turn now to coping with a tiny little girl that doesn't kick too much, seems to sleep all the time, and loves classical music to an inordinate degree.  Really.  Isn't fazed by sugary stuff, very cold things her mother might drink, or my voice.  She kicks for classical.

The chiquitita is refined.  Dude, that bodes ill for all us yokels.