Sunday, December 30, 2007

"Why Intelligent Design Fails", by various scientists

I picked up this book at the library to see if it would challenge my thinking and maybe help me better understand the reasoning of secular scientists. The book has several valid arguments against the concept of ‘intelligent design', including bits about probability and the simplicity of one-celled organisms. However, there were a few points in the book that I cannot resist poking fun at. Of course, not being a trained scientist from a prestigious university, I cannot understand any of this on my own and should just follow the teachings of the majority of qualified scientists, who obviously know better. Ahem.

This is shamelessly paraphrased, biased, and otherwise irreverent.

1. ‘Dogs and cats share certain characteristics. Therefore, they must have a common ancestor.’

WTF? Oh, yea, that’s real good science, that is. What ever happened to verifiable and repeatable? That’s right, I learned that in junior high, so therefore it doesn’t apply to real science.

2. ‘Death is equilibrium’. Death brings balance to the force, I guess. So is genocide just equilibrium on a large scale? Since mankind is a random accident, and morals grew out of necessity, the majority of secular scientists would have to admit mass murder is simply survival of the fittest. Should I believe them on this point to, or is now a good time to insert my religion?

3. ‘Blueprints require a designer, but recipes don’t, so cells follow recipes, not blueprints.’ This statement is a summary from a couple pages of writing. Obviously, these men don’t cook.

4. Wasp nests are built through a ‘dumb process’ (exact quote) and do not prove that someone designed wasps to build nests, because, you know, not all wasp nests are perfect, and um, yea. They’re just a bunch of dumb animals getting together and not knowing exactly what they’re doing and a wasp nest just happens to emerge…wow, I wish I was that dumb…

5 Nature is ‘self-organized’. Which means my children are just un-natural. Yes, yes, through a naturalistic process, a hurricane organizes itself and promptly wreaks havoc on the rest of nature. Ants organize themselves, as does DNA and the congress. This therefore proves that God is not necessary. Nice leap of logic. I would almost call it ‘faith’.

And my personal favorite….

6. ‘Evolution erases evidence of itself’. That explains why there is no evidence for it, of course. Oh, oh, but the fossil record! How could we forget that? ‘With a few bones and a good theory, we can prove anything!’ Again, somewhat paraphrased, but that’s the basic premise behind the ‘proof’ that dinosaurs evolved into birds.

I’m not making this stuff up, folks. Remember, I don’t have a degree, so I’m not allowed to!

Friday, December 28, 2007

the 'bucks

I have a love/hate relationship with Starbuck’s, affectionately referred to as “the ‘bucks”.

Stereotypical/hypocritical. Hypocritical in that their original logo was a mermaid with huge (bare) tracts of land, but they recently kicked a nursing mother of a store b/c she might offend the other patrons. Hypocritical in that they try to give an artsy, anti-establishment, progressive kind of feel to their shops, yet they are an enormous profit-making corporation, and every store looks alike. And that is also why they are stereotypical…

Dependable, good coffee and perky baristas. Often I go to small, local coffeeshops and am consistently assaulted with weak coffee and grouchy workers. What are you trying to do to me, man? This is my addiction. Yes, Starbucks is not really a progressive, artistically-inclined small business. Yes, they are trying to take over the world, along with Disney, Wal-mart, Google, and Microsoft. But heck, I’ll gladly whore my principles for a decent cup of joe…so Starbuck’s it is.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas comes just once a year. Thank God.

Well, despite my frightfully bad attitude towards Christmas, it was a rather pleasant experience this year. Nobody got too many obnoxious gifts or overdosed on sugar. We kept things pretty simple and tried to focus on people outside the family, and overall, the time felt rewarding and enjoyable. Definitely not relaxing, but not too exhausting, either. Life will soon settle back into a normal pattern, the days will lengthen, and we will have several months of holiday-free living before Christmas season hits again.

Oh blast, I have to take the decorations down next week…I knew I was forgetting something…

Saturday, December 22, 2007


There are many things that I give away, and expect no return. Time. Money. Food. Encouragement. Friendliness.

But not my love.

Its very nature should demand that love is given away freely, with no strings attached, no spoken or unspoken expectations, no thought of oneself at all. Is that not what love is- seeking the best for the other, not yourself? Yet somehow I assume that if I love, I should therefore be loved in return. Because of course, love is risky. It can be spurned; it can be manipulated, it can be mocked. I want to guard against that, preserve myself- so I cautiously only love those whom I know will love me in return, and if their love seems to be growing cold, I carefully withdraw my own feelings. Take my stuff, take my attention, take whatever else you want- just leave my heart intact, please.

I see now that God deliberately places people in my life that I must love, even though they may never love me in return. Yes, it is a risk that I would rather not take, similar to jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, but the alternative is much worse- to harden my heart, wrapping it safely in a casing of stone, to never be hurt, and to never truly love.

Friday, December 21, 2007

does dark chocolate count as sweets?

I’m a (recovering) sugar addict, and am trying to make it through the holiday season with a minimum amount of sweets. I had a lot on Wednesday so I’m hoping to abstain until Christmas Eve (and then binge.) But the cravings are setting in, and I’m trying not to think about a container of Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans sitting on the shelf just inches from the computer…

About this time I begin to have a theological debate within myself. Did God predestine me to eat chocolate everyday? In my struggle against sin, is it my will-power or the holy spirit that prevails (or the chocolate?) Why doesn’t the bible give us exact answers about these deep questions? And the really big one- does dark chocolate count as ‘sweets’?

Did you notice how many of my posts revolve around food?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Living Well in a World of Oppression


As a working-class American, I have to face the fact that while I whine about not having enough grocery money to buy beer, my brothers and sisters across the world are literally starving to death.

How do we respond to the overwhelming despair in the world around us? Do we harden our hearts, change the channel, and order pizza? Or (even worse) do we watch the movie about the horrors of living in Africa and then demand why our government isn’t doing more (WTF?)??

As an individual, I have had to come to the realization that I am not the Messiah- I know, that came as a shock to me too. I cannot save the world. I cannot even save one person. Heck, I can’t even save myself. Does this mean I do nothing? No. I can help those around me (to the best of my ability) and I can look for ways to ease the suffering I see. I can love my family and be faithful in taking care of them. Globally, I can help at least a few people- and help those who help them, with my finances, my time, and my prayers.

Because even though I am not the Messiah, I do know the Messiah. I know the one who can truly make a difference, more than any person or government or brilliant idea. And I know that he listens to prayers- even secular scientists have to admit that prayer is effective (they just don’t know why). So rather than sitting here feeling guilty over my prosperity, or complaining that my government isn’t doing enough, or working myself to exhaustion to fight all the evil around me, I do the work God has given me- and I pray for the Sudanese. And the drug dealers around the corner. And the little girls in brothels across the world. And the Mexican immigrants. And on and on and on…

Friday, December 14, 2007

Happy Birthday, Veronica

Yes, yesterday was my birthday, and I am now a whopping 31 yrs. old. Oddly enough, it doesn’t feel any different from being 30.

For my birthday present David found a hardback copy of George MacDonald’s Lilith. George MacDonald was a mid/late 19th century Scottish author who is considered the father of modern fantasy. He was also a Presbyterian minister (defrocked because of his unorthodox teachings) and a friend of Lewis Carroll, that morphine-influenced writer of Alice in Wonderland. Interestingly enough, MacDonald (to my knowledge) never partook of any funny substances, yet his books are more tripped out than even Alice. However, unlike Alice’s adventures, MacDonald’s work always whisper (and sometimes shout) at deeper underlying meaning, and so in that sense they have that very realistic feeling that my life means something, somewhere, I just can’t figure it out right now. His works also gift every aspect of our life with spirituality, not in the pantheistic sense but in the sense that nothing is prosaic or unimportant. And so Phantastes was a source of inspiration for the young, atheist C.S Lewis to consider many things about life and eventually Christianity.

What exactly do I love about MacDonald’s fantasy? Well, I asked David that at breakfast this morning- “Why do I like George’s work, dear?” and he said,

“Becuase it’s freaky.”

Yup, that sums it up nicely.

Monday, December 10, 2007


The cookies on the countertop are calling my name.
"Eat us! Eat us!" they cry out sweetly.
"No! I don't want you! I'm not hungry! Go away!"
"We will if you eat us!" they respond.
"I want to be good! I don't want to gain weight! I don't want to add unnecessary sugar to my body!"
"But we taste so good! We make your coffeetime special!"
"Get behind me, foul tempters! Spawns of Satan! Full of peanut butter, chocolate, and ginger! With dark brown sugar and melted chocolate, baked fresh in my oven...oh yum...."
I concede defeat.

dinnertime doldrums

Nine out of ten housewives agree- cooking dinner each night SUCKS! You don’t want to fix the same meal each night. You also want to serve your family something (relatively) healthy. And perhaps most importantly, all the ingredients have to fit within the dismally small ‘grocery budget’.

Add it all up, and basically I’m regularly cooking things at least one member of the family won’t like (too bad for them; this is when it comes in handy to be a mean mama).

My feelings about all this have gotten worse and worse over the years. It doesn’t help that dinnertime comes in the afternoon, when my Hispanic bones are crying for a siesta and we’ve already had a full day of school. But lately my heart has been convicted of these bad attitudes, and I have been contemplating the more global (to use the parlance of our times) and historical perspectives of eating.

Mealtimes, I believe, should be a time where we gather together to nourish our bodies, to enjoy the good things God has provided for us, and to appreciate our family. They should not be a ‘stuff-your-face-as-fast-as-you-can-so-we-can-get-back-to-important things’ kind of activity that the American culture typically practices. I am the person primarily responsible for facilitating this daily family ritual. I want to approach it with love and a desire to serve my family, not as another heavy burden added to my breaking back.

As with most things, recognizing the problem is half the battle, and as my friend Amy likes to say: “Progress, not perfection.” So do I get to order pizza tonight?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Shoe Event Horizons and other inane thoughts

I haven’t felt like posting anything lately. I’ve thought of stuff to write, but nothing that seems really that worthwhile.

SO…I’ll mention one of my favorite passages in Science Fiction literature.

“The Shoe Event Horizon” from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, by Douglas Adams.

As you of course already know, an event horizon is the (theoretical) point at which time and light get sucked into a black hole- therefore, the point at which ‘events’ no longer happen.

A ‘shoe’ event horizon is the (theoretical) point at which a society can no longer support the number of shoes that are manufactured and collapses into ruin and myth. It happens something like this:

Factories produce shoes more cheaply, so more people buy more shoes. So more shoes have to be made, more cheaply, so that more people buy more shoes, thereby necessitating the creation of more factories and more shoe stores, until the only thing that the society manufactures or sells is shoes, and civilization crumbles.

As far as we could tell, Puerto Rico is approaching its shoe event horizon, as it seemed that about half the stores we saw sold shoes.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Pulp Fiction


Having made that clear, let me say that Pulp Fiction is one of my favorite movies ever.

It is difficult to explain what it is that I love about it. Oh, all the usual things- unique, well-written stories, great acting, humorous dialogue (if you don’t get easily offended by constant foul language and vulgar conversation), intriguing directing- but the whole package goes way beyond the technical details. It shows the crime world in all its gritty self-centeredness, without glorifying it (like the Godfather) or moralizing about it. These are real people, in unusual circumstances, making real decisions that impact their lives in rather unexpected ways.

To me, the best example of this is the section of the movie called the ‘Bonnie Situation’. The two hit men of the movie- played by John Travolta and Samuel Jackson- have a shared experience: another character shoots them several times, point-blank, with a large-caliber handgun. They should have died. They don’t even get hit. The wall behind them is littered with bullets, but they are unscathed. One hit man sees it as a freak occurrence and goes on with his life of crime; the other realizes it to be a miracle and repents of his lifestyle. And he is the one still alive at the end of all the stories. How oftend do you see that kind of thing in a Hollywood flick? And that's just one small aspect of the movie- Pulp Fiction is just as unique and shocking, a decade later, as it was when it first hit the screens.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Proof that we're weird

Malachi came downstairs this morning and told me he had a night mare last night.

I expressed concern, and asked him to tell me about it.

He was being chased by ducks, he said.

Six-foot ducks that would sneak up behind him, knock him over, quack, and say “Hah! I got you that time!”

David and I laughed hysterically, but did tell Malachi that ducks can be very scary- especially six-foot, talking ones.