Monday, October 31, 2005

Strut-and-Tie modeling of Deep Beams

Okay, so I won't subject all of you (heck, I don't even know most of you) to the pain inherent in the title of this post, so you can thank me if you ever get to know me. In any case, the more silent member of this little country has decided to post not because he has anything important, brilliant, or witty to say, but rather to momentarily anesthetize himself to the aforementioned pain. Why am I in grad school again?

Today's musings are brought to you by the bastardized phrase "spiritual leader." As previously mentioned (albeit indirectly) by the lady of the land, things have been more than a bit crazy over the last couple of weeks. These happenings have caused me to ask myself for the nth time what it means to be a spiritual leader. My interpretation of scripture passages such as 1 Cor. 11 and Eph. 5 would lead me to believe that as the husband, I have certain responsibilities of headship (particularly spiritual headship) in our family.

Before anyone reading this closes the window and writes me off as some Southern Baptist misogynistic nutjob, please know that I don't think this means that I am any better than my wife, that I have a closer place to God, or that I am right any more often. It just means that for whatever reason, I have this leadership that I don't necessarily want, that I don't feel adequate to, and that I'd really rather run from (those of you who are picky about ending sentences in prepositions can bite me).

Even though I don't understand this concept and don't really relish it, I do want to follow God's will for my life. I believe that since He designed the system, His way is best. This leaves me where I started. . . wondering what it means to be a "Spiritual Leader." I think I will start by praying more for my wife and family. That will be followed by praying for wisdom that the decisions I make in this role would glorify God. I think only clear direction from God will alleviate this feeling of inadequacy because He is the only source of adequacy. Praise be to God.

Happy Reformation Day and a happy All Saints Day since I probably won't write again before then.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Postcard from the Edge

An update from Chandra-land...

Things here are pretty good (although a bit shaky). Highlights include our football team FINALLY putting up another W (albeit only against Duke) ; fall weather setting in, making local wildlife much more likely to curl up in laps and purr as a result; as well as our five-star restaurant offering a fantastic bean soup and a creamy pumpkin cheesecake.

The lows, however, have been an extreme blow to the economy (with massive job lay offs), a ridiculous hike in gas prices (a conspiracy with the bean soup chef, maybe?); and the rumored insanity of the royalty.

(It's not easy to be a dictator, thank you very much!)

The Queen's loyal consort also appears to have lost his mind/internet connection.

The much-renowned think tank has also been doing a lot of pondering lately. Where do Chandra-land's national worth, value, esteem & pride come from, anyway? From our natural resources? Our military might? Our stock market? Or do we gain both our assets and our worth from a different source?

Why has God smiled upon this little land, anyway? The customs are often bizarre and sometimes offensive. And that's AFTER we joined the UN. Before then, we were downright savages! Why on earth would God smile on us in our helpless estate and choose to lift us up out of the mire? What could He possibly gain by pledging assistance in excess of tens of billions of dollars to clean up this poor little nation and begin the life-long process of making it a place worthy of Him to live in... and yet moved into right at the moment that He began reconstruction?

Each day is a new celebration of Independence Day in Chandra-land. Independence not from taxation nor from unfair representation, but rather from a cruel dictator named Self, and from the wages of sin. Independence from the overwhelming guilt and frustration of trying to run a government on limited resources and for foolish, personal gain. The insane royal family likes to pop up fairly often, make ridiculous claims to the throne, and then limp off into hiding once the true, perfect Ruler gently but firmly makes himself known. What a great place, not because of anything inherent in the land, but rather because of God's ownership and protection of it!

And now, it's time to fire the press secretary who fancies herself to be quite clever! Or at least, for her to go to bed. Even benevolent dictators need beauty rest, after all!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Emerging Church

This is a delicate subject. I have good friends, that I respect highly, who are big fans of the emerging church. So I pray right now that I will be able to continue to show respect to them, while giving my opinion on the matter (and hopefully making some good points along the way!).

Team Redd posted a very interesting article and it got me to thinking. I really agreed with just about everything the author said. To expand on her ideas...

I have to admit that the "emerging church" folks do have a point in that the stereotypical, traditionalist church isn't "relevent" to twenty-somethings. It sure wasn't relevant to me when I was in college. I wanted to be cool, to have fun, and to hell with stuffy traditions. But I think the point that they miss is that what your average Gen-Xer finds "relevant" and what they are actually hungry for are two very different things. They may find things that are trendy, and even trendsetting, to be relevant, but they are dying inside for something else. They want to be cool because they want to be loved. They want to fit in because they are desperate for a support network.

What meant the most to me was that a family of Christians was willing to let potty-mouthed, messed-up me into their home and their lives. Yes, they weren't always very "hip and with it." But I didn't care because both before and after I became a Christian, they loved on me and nurtured me. (And incidentally, let me marry their son a few years later, those suckers! ;) Man I love my in-laws. The way that Jesus lives through them never ceases to amaze me.)

When Paul told us to be "all things to all people," did he mean for us to be fake? Is there a point to being more "openminded" and going through change if the focus is not so much to become more like Jesus but rather for the sake of attracting people to your church?

Let me stop and say that I don't think that all folks who like the ideas and paradigm shift of the emerging church have the sole desire to fill more seats. I do think their hearts are in the right place, and we do need to not get stuck in a 1960's rut. Good for them for being willing to speak up and shake things up. But moving on does not mean dismissing the values and sense of family that have been a part of the church since its inception.

If we are trying to be relevant to a culture that is in search of a mirage, what good are we to offer them that same false hope, just packaged differently?

Friday, October 07, 2005

My Theory

The Georgia Tech football team has been abducted. By aliens.

Scoff if you will, but what else can explain Travis Bell, who kicked 15 field goals in a row last year, missing 5 in a row this season, including tonight's miserable 27- and 24-yard attempts? What other than alien abduction could account for our beloved #21, Calvin Johnson, not making the ridiculous catches that he usually does? (I find it slightly amusing, in the midst of my current pain, that any other wide receiver wouldn't even be expected to make impossible catches, much less be a disappointment to his team when he doesn't...)

I am firmly convinced that little green men have had something to do with this slump we've found ourselves in. Either they kidnapped the team and replaced them with low-grade androids; or they returned them, but only after doing horrible, horrible things to them with sharp, pointy objects.

Either way, our lovely, promising season is now a miserable failure. Sigh. Stupid aliens. Stupid Chuck Amato.


That's it! Chuck Amato IS an alien! It all makes sense now. Wait. No it doesn't.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

3-and-OH vs. 3-and-OUT

Sigh... just two little letters between a 3 and OH record and going 3 and OUT... again and again and again and losing a by a miserable 51-7 and having 3 wins and 1 loss.

Still, a 3-1 record ain't bad. The loss WAS bad, even if Va. Tech is a top-notch team (which they are), and our ability to lose by that huge of a margin is embarrassing, but... I have hope for tonight. Even if NC State does lead the ACC in passing, 3rd down conversions, kick-off returns, etc...

But, for all that, they are still OH and 2 in the ACC. Here's hoping that this time tomorrow, it'll be OH and 3. I strongly suspect the reason that they can't seem to get the job done, although they have outgained their opponents in every game (including a NOT miserable loss to Va. Tech, 20-16, where they had 438 yds. offense to the Hokies' 232 yds.), is because of their nut-case coach. Chuck Amato is such a clown that even the NC State school paper calls him "Chuckles." When asked about their poor record, he said:

"We're not going to flinch. You're not going to see a frown out of me. When adversity strikes, you can do one of two things with your jaws. You can sag them and frown or you can smile and stick your chest out and walk around like you know you're a winner."

What an idiot. I love Paul Hewitt (ah, basketball season) because 1) he WINS GAMES and 2) he's a gentleman who doesn't act like an idiot courtside. But even though he doesn't hop up and down and pout, he also doesn't puff out his chest and grin like a big dummy, for no good reason.

Amato also apparently decided to inspire his players at a recent practice by telling them that their losses were his fault, and then proceding to do several "up-downs" (a weird strengthening exercise that most resembles a dying fish). Are you kidding me? How about instead of making a fool of yourself on the practice field, you get your crap together and coach better? I feel sorry for talented young guys having to try to respect such an impotent little man.

Chan Gailey, if we lose tonight to that jerk, so help me...

That's the nice thing about being not-famous! If we lose, and all my rantings prove to be so much hot air, there's always the DELETE button.

GO JACKETS! I will remain loyal, no matter what our record... but I sure do hope we move up to 4 and 1.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Saying Bye...

My Teacher's Union membership has officially expired. I have now given away a grand total of 11 boxes of teaching materials & supplies. Not to mention the 4 or 5 boxes of JUNK that I threw away. And definitely not to mention the 8 boxes of stuff that I'm keeping. God bless generous friends with large attics.

This morning I took the already loaded up car (you should have seen Kennan & I and 11 boxes all packed into our little Civic) to Bethune Elementary School, and dropped it all off. It was harder than I had expected, and harder than the sorting actually was.

Sorting wasn't easy, though. A LOT of memories. Especially when work has gotten weird lately (don't get me wrong; I love working with college students and sharing my heart with them; it's other things that are starting to wear), it was hard to go through things that reminded me somewhat of the happy times I had teaching. It was also hard to realize yet another way that I'm a statistic: the mortality rate of teachers. No, that's not a typo. It did feel like I was dead or dying most of the time!

But today, going to the school, seeing kids and teachers and secretaries, it was really hard. I do miss it. And I miss weird things. Even beyond the hugs and letters from kids and parents and friendships with my peers, I miss the way the light came through my classroom window (or trailer window) at certain times of the day. I miss the sound of my clock ticking (man, that thing was LOUD!) while the kids did silent, or mostly silent, reading. I miss the smell of the cafeteria (don't ask... because I don't know why; it's not like I ever ate there unless I had the misfortune to forget my lunch that day) and of sweaty kids fresh off the playground and I miss looking down at a perfectly nice white blouse that would be forevermore smudged with grubby little fingerprints. I learned pretty quick to stop wearing white to school.

So, the elementary school teacher chapter of my life is now officially closed, after 3 years teaching in a war zone (South Dekalb County) and a year off, working at the church. I'm a little sad, very introspective, and

RUNNING LATE! Crap! I have to go meet with a student! No time for a potty break! I guess some things never change. It's comforting, though.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Kill Your Television

It's shocking the things I'm willing to watch in the name of a good crime drama. It's bizarre to realize that I'M the statistic (the average person sees x number of murders on television by the time they're 30, etc. etc.). What is it about crime drama that is so addictive? Jerry Bruckheimer owns our souls!!!

I'd like to justify my television habits by saying that it makes me, in my (sort of) white, "middle-class" existence, aware of the horrors of the world. I'd like to claim that it bursts my safe little bubble and makes me see what the world is really like. But I'm afraid it makes me more calloused than if I were to just watch college football and sitcoms. I know what's going on (in a weird, Hollywood-ish way), and I understand that people both do, and go through, horrible things, but in the end... I can change the channel, turn off the TV, or at least turn off my brain and decide that it's all Hollywood, after all, so it doesn't affect me and it's not real.

Have I become so hardened, that dead bodies don't affect me anymore? That I don't see them as human beings, but in a weird, post-modern sort of way, merely as actors liberally hosed down in ketchup? Or has my television become more real to me than reality? Is my television alive? Can I kill it? Murder it? Would Marg Helenberger come striding through my livingroom to sass me in perfect make-up and heels? Would I confess? Would it really lead to a strange plot twist that revealed that I thought my TV was really my great-aunt Marge who I once saw beating kittens, and thus my psychosis would justify my homocidal tendencies?

I'm kidding, people. And I have to go, anyway. Crossing Jordan is coming on next!