Monthly Archives: July 2010

Who was your most memorable teacher?

Posted by David
The Sermon on the Mount, Gustave Doré

The Sermon on the Mount, Gustave Doré

How influential have your teachers been to you? There may have been one that lead you into your present career or one that directed you away from a particular path. In our world teachers prove to provide great influence over the paths of both individuals and our society in general.

What if your teacher was to say things like:

  • True joy is for those who are poor, persecuted, meek, merciful and desirous to be good.
  • Don’t retaliate when people hurt you, instead give them something good from your heart, not with the intention to make them feel guilty for the way they treated you, but with the intention to lift their spirit—to just love them.
  • When you give to the needy do so without anyone knowing, not even the person who scans your tax return.
  • Don’t seek to make money, but instead to seek good things that aren’t tangible.
  • Promises are unbreakable bonds, so be be very careful what you promise.
  • If you judge others or engage in outward or subconscious ‘profiling’, you’ll be setting the standard to which you must comply.
  • The words you speak about others behind their back, under your breath or in your heart are just as damaging to you.
  • Don’t worry, be happy.
  • Even if you are locked in the deepest darkest dungeon where the keys have been destroyed and the castle walls above you have been toppled atop the entrance to your hole, there is still one way out.

Would you think he was a fool? Would you think he was crazy?

These are some of the things my teacher told me, I believe every word of it, and I certainly don’t think he was crazy. The trouble is I keep trying to water down his teachings. I think, “He must have only meant this or that only under this or that particular condition, right?”

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

John 8:58

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Happy Talk

Posted by David
Happy Talk - South Pacific

Happy Talk - South Pacific

We watched South Pacific a few nights ago. Although it was a bit sappy, it was truly fascinating. Written just after the WWII, it genuinely had a feeling that seemed special to that time period. The movie itself ws produced in 1958 and had a similar feeling, including an innocence that was a part of American culture just prior to that big shift into which the boomer youth paved our way in the mid-1960s.

Despite the warm feelings that the movie produced inside of me, I was oddly compelled by Happy Talk, the song sung to the two young lovers by the older Tonkinees woman named Bloody Mary.

The last line is “You gotta have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?” This line is pivotal to all of us in our lives here on earth. We must have a dream, because we go the path of our dream. And we all have a dream. But it may just be a dream that someone else has planted inside us, rather than our own. Then we go the path of another’s dream, and that may or may not be where we want to end up.

What’s curious is that happy talk encapsulates the dream I seek. You’ll notice that I started this with “Although it was a bit sappy.” My inner motive was on the defense saying in effect, “I’m not really that sappy.” And why would my inner motive want you to think that? Because in our culture there’s a meme that says, “Smart people shouldn’t really believe in romance and happy talk. Sweetness is not of value. True love and joy is really impossible.” No, our culture injects us with a fear that we won’t belong if we believe in those ‘sappy’ sorts of things. You who do are anti-intellectual, live in a ridiculous fantasy world and really must be a dimwit to believe it to be true. I believed this line of thinking for many dark years.

But it is possible to believe in that reality. Although we will all see darkness and pain in our life, one day, this dream will come true. This is the Joy of John that I spoke of earlier. Dreams come to fruition. It’s the special character of the humanity. It is true to each and every one of us. So, if you gotta have a dream, what’s yours gonna be? It will come true.

Mine is that joy will abound more and more eternally, where each purpose-filled day is bright, new and exciting, where sleepy nights take us to a banquet of dreams, where fellowship is the most sought-after of riches, where God’s love is tangible, material and ever-present` in his son Jesus.

Yes, I’m a dreamer, but thankfully my dream will come true.

Happy talk, keep talking happy talk,
Talk about things you’d like to do,
You gotta have a dream, if you don’t have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?

South Pacific (Rodgers & Hammerstein)

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Why does the left brain control the right side of the body?

Posted by David

I’m pretty excited right now. I just found a minor confirmation of something I’ve mulled over recently. I’ve thought that the reason the right brain controls our left-side motor function and vice versa is due to the fact that we have eyes. See Why are vertebrate nervous systems crossed? 

To understand this idea think about how a pinhole camera works. The light comes through the pinhole and displays the exterior image flipped horizontally and vertically on the film. What was on the right is now projected on the left. It works the same way with our eyes. The pupil in the eye causes the field of view to be flipped when the image is projected on the retina. The left side of the body ‘thinks’ it is controlling the left side, but it actually controls the right, and vice versa. Here’s a nice synopsis of the theory.

So, why is this important? It says to me that feedback mechanisms drive the development of an organisms physiology. And as one might expect, crossed nervous systems are not specific to humans. Fish work the same way. When the early proto fish first developed eyes, it was visual feedback that caused its nervous system to develop in reverse. The evolution of physiology is a direct effect of sensory feedback. It’s not just some random gene mutation that caused the nervous system to cross. Sensory feedback caused the reversal. I expect that this is how all of evolution works. Species develop and emerge based on feedback.

One must then ask, how does this feedback get back into the genetics of subsequent generations?  I conclude that the individual’s genes itself are affected by the sensory feedback. They pass the trait to the next generation, because their genes have been modified by sensory feedback. In the case of a crossed nervous system, why would a gene mutation be preferred for development? There would seem to be no special reason why a species would be better equipped to have a reversed nervous system. 

Another interesting implication has to do with awareness, but as of yet, I’m not sure what to make of that!

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Why is the grass always greener?

Posted by David
Olympic Mountains in summer evening (Mt. Olympus)

Olympic Mountains in summer evening (Mt. Olympus)

My son Peter and I went up to Klalanhe Ridge last night. It felt like the first day of summer here in Port Angeles. We have had a long, wet and cool springtime. I longed to get up in the mountains just for the evening and camp on some rocky alpine ridge. So we went and got there just about dinner time with our bagels and snacky foods. The pale blue and orange evening light lit up the north-facing snowfields to our south and the green mountain ridges to our east. To our north, we could look across the smooth waters of the Strait to Canada. At our elevation, it almost felt as if we could see the permanent summer light of the 67th parallel.

There’s wasn’t a cloud in the sky, so we could sleep under the stars and look upwards into near-infinite space. It was the first time Peter had slept under the stars and certainly not the first nor hopefully the last time for me. The wind in the stunted firs kept us company as well as the summer constellations, a thin crescent moon rising around midnight, and a shooting start or two.

My body isn’t accustom to sleeping on the ground, so it wasn’t the most comfortable night’s sleep, but what better place to toss and turn a bit. When I have a starry sky, sometimes I try to get a 3-D perspective of the nearby stars. To do so, you must make your mind think that the brighter stars are closer and the fainter are more distant. Although this method isn’t entirely accurate, if you can convince your mind of it, the 3-D nature of space can pop into your view of the heavens if only for a brief moment. It’s a very humbling experience and illuminates Psalm 19 when David says that the “Heavens declar the glory of God.”

The heavens declare the glory of God;
       the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
       night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
       where their voice is not heard.

Psalm 19:1-3

Although the experience of sleeping under the stars is delightful. There always seemes to be something missing. In this case, I was thinking, “I sure wish my wife could experience this with us.” But if she was with me, it would be something else. This is the experience that all of us have all of the time. No matter what we’re doing, something is always missing. This is why the grass is always greener.  This is why marriages fail. This is why revolutions occur. This is why people have eating disorders or fall into the attraction of drugs.

But what is missing? There is always something missing for man in this world and I am convinced that this is because we were expulsed from the Garden of Eden and no longer does our  Maker walk physically among us. What we are missing is our God.

Two thousand years ago, this was the big excitement for those who understood who Jesus was. They realized and were filled completely by the knowledge and presence of Emanuel (God with us). This is why we Christians long achingly for the return of Jesus and we know that he is true to his promise. John declares this boldly for us at the end of his Revelation.

Although there may be something missing right now, there will be the day in which we are filled at last.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be fear or pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat on the throne of heaven and earth said, “Behold, I make all things new.”

Revelations 21:4

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Happy Interdependence Day

Posted by David
Lady Liberty

Lady Liberty

Liberty: “George, you know I will always remember you?”
George: “My lady, you need not to lie to me, Dear.”
Liberty: “You have made me who I’ve become.”
George: “You are who you were to be, my lady.”
Liberty: “Will you remember me, George?”
George: “You know I will until the day I die.”

Liberty turns and walks away looking forward toward the horizon. In the following years, George haunts her dreams. She has a few lovers. She builds a rather large fortune spending most of her time in isolation. In her rugged glamor, she makes a close friend or two. At times,  she does lend an honest hand. As she ages, her wealth rather than her charm and glamor provides her success. Towards the end she has little left but her guile. She becomes parched and wrinkled.

There is no joy in independence.
We are all one in the body of Adam.
How many have hung on the cross of Patriotism?
How many have been burst apart by the rocket’s red glare?
Where is freedom when another is bound and blinded by sin?
Only by the grace of the body and blood of Christ.

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  

Luke 22:39-43    

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