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On troubled wide receivers, the Nuclear Family, and the Genealogy of Christ

Posted by Chance on November 3, 2013

Two wide receivers from my alma mater, Oklahoma State, made headlines this week.  Justin Blackmon is entering rehab and is suspended indefinitely from the NFL, and Dez Bryant has emotional outbursts on the sideline.  The interesting thing, to me, is that these two people come from, what seems to be, radically different backgrounds.  Dez Bryant was born to his mother at the age of 14 and lived a very troubled childhood.  Justin Blackmon came from what seems to be a stable two-parent family with a Christian faith.  When Justin Blackmon came out to the NFL I thought he would be different from the somewhat troubled Bryant.  That perception ended quickly when Blackmon received a DUI before his first NFL snap.

A stable family goes a long way toward helping someone on the straight and narrow, but it is no guarantee.  And just because certain boxes are checked in a person’s life (Christian, parents never divorced) doesn’t mean that everything is just great.  We cannot honestly speculate about a person’s life.

This whole thing has made me think about the value we place on the stable nuclear family, especially cultural conservatives like myself.  We focus a lot on how things should be, but I think we sometimes forget that great things can happen out of the non-ideal situations.

When we look at the Bible, especially the genealogy of Christ, we see a whole history of non-ideal situations.  One of Jesus’ ancestors, Rahab, was a prostitute.  David was an ancestor to Jesus, but it wasn’t through the virtuous Abigail, it was a woman with whom he had an affair and killed her husband.  Even Jesus was born as a sort of stepson of Joseph, with step siblings.  I wonder if the family dynamics were awkward there.

I don’t know if all this stuff really relates.  All I know is that bad stuff can happen with people arising from a stable family, and that God does great things out of messy situations, including broken families.  And don’t forget, the story of Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon is far from finished.

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Is there a line between passion and disillusionment?

Posted by Chance on August 13, 2013

For quite some time, I was passionate about politics.  I would spend my lunches at work reading political articles, blog about politics, and debate politics in comment sections in this blog and others.  

Over time, however, I started to disconnect myself from it.  Part of it was set in motion by political events going on all the way back to 2006.  As someone who is libertarian-minded, things are far from the ideal no matter who is in charge, but that’s been even more so the case over the past 6 and a half years.  So, I’ve paid attention to what’s going on for the most part, but I have also detached myself from it in a way.  

Part of this has been good.  I feel like I’ve actually grown spiritually; when things started not going the way I wanted on the political scene I learned to put less of my faith in politics and more in God.  It hasn’t been easy, and there are still times I worry about the world my kids will grow up in, but worrying doesn’t do anything for me.  

As far as just being less passionate about politics in general, it remains to be seen if this is good or bad, or just neutral.  I miss being passionate about issues.  I felt intellectually alive as I started to form my own opinions about things and developing an overarching political philosophy.  

But, to be passionate is to be disappointed.  To be passionate is to be angry, and I won’t want to be angry.  It’s hard to pay attention to things and emotionally invest in them and not be disillusioned.  I’ve thought several times about making comments on Facebook or Twitter about the way things are, but it wouldn’t be therapeutic.  I found a blogger today with whom I seem to agree on everything, but to follow him and read his articles is to bring back these negative emotions and questions like “why doesn’t everyone believe the way I do, the truth just seems so obvious?”

So, I will continue to, on Twitter, to follow people who make me laugh and people who talk about sports.  If I listen to talk radio, it’ll be about the Broncos Super Bowl hopes.  If I debate on the internet, it’ll be about if Oklahoma State’s defense will be any good this year or what U2’s best album is.   

So, I feel that, for me, right now, I have to choose to either be happy or to immerse myself in political issues.  It may not be a choice everyone has to make, and it may not always be the choice I have to make, but for me right now, that is my choice.

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The new judgmentalism

Posted by Chance on March 15, 2013

Many Christians have learned not to be judgmental about the “usual sins.”  We’ve learned how to be more graceful with those who commit sexual sins, or are addicted to alcohol or other substances.  However, this has been replaced by judgment toward other sins.  

Many Christians in the blogosphere have posted about the sin of gluttony and/or how sexual sin isn’t the only thing they have to look out for.  And they are right.  But it seems like some bloggers and many commenters chime in with glee about how wrong it is to eat a bacon cheeseburger.  Some have even suggested that the food Chik Fil A serves produces the sin of gluttony while standing against the sin of homosexuality.  

First of all, in many cases, the sin of food and the sins involving sexuality are, in some ways the same, but in some ways different.  The sins of sexuality involve more explicit boundaries.  God says that we are to have sexual relations with our wife or husband, and that’s it.  There are still many reasonable questions in the Christian community concerning sexuality, even involving husband and wife, but for the most part, God’s commands are pretty clear.  

Things are different with food.  Is it a sin to eat a bacon cheeseburger?  No, I don’t think so.  At least not necessarily.  Is it a sin to eat 3 a day?  Well, probably.  But issues with food are different.  Sexual sins are different in that I can’t display sexuality in moderation.  I sleep with my wife.  No one else.  I am commanded not to even look at a woman lustfully.  It is not like it is okay to lust after a woman, as long as I do it only once a day.  On the other hand, I don’t believe I’m sinning by eating a bacon cheeseburger or a deep fried chicken sandwich, in moderation.  

Sexual sin and gluttony are similar, in that, anytime I try to find satisfaction, apart from God, that is sinful behavior.  But also, I have to take care of my body, including being mindful of my diet.  Usually the former will lead to the latter.  That is, if I try to fill some need by food, that will lead to issues with moderation.  

People always tend to be more judgmental toward the sin that they do not struggle with.  Sometimes this judgment is complemented by a lack of understanding about the sin.  So, many are quick to point out how sinful overeating, or even being overweight, is.  And really, a lot of it is just old-fashioned be mean to overweight people disguised as Christianity.

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Thoughts on the Fiesta Bowl, a month and a half later

Posted by Chance on February 15, 2012

So during my lunch break I decided to rewatch the Fiesta Bowl on iTunes.  I don’t know if anyone cares about my thoughts on a game that happened quite a while ago, but here goes anyway.

  1. Only about 10 minutes of it was somewhat enjoyable.  I think OSU had the ball for about 18 minutes, and not all of that time was very good.  But for those 10 minutes…man.
  2. The announcers really talked about Andrew Luck a lot.  I know he’s talented, but it got over the top when the announcers said that the only thing he did wrong was calling heads or tails.  Then again, Stanford had the ball most of the game. 
  3. At the risk of sounding cocky, once Stanford was held to a field goal in OT, the game was already won.  I fully believed we could score a TD from 25 yards out.
  4. Most of the time, the end-around to Blackmon doesn’t work that well.  It worked great against Baylor in 2010, where he ran something like 70 yards for a touchdown, but most of the time since then I don’t believe that play has gained much yardage.
  5. I really wish the pass to Colton Chelf would have been a touchdown to end the game.  It would have been a climactic finish, but instead I was sitting around hoping Squinky wouldn’t have the last laugh as the announcers state that only a “collapse” by Oklahoma State would give Stanford a chance.  At the same time, it was great that Sharp got the winning point.
  6. Gundy made some great calls that makes him relatively worth his pay – the call in the 4th quarter to go for it on 4th down, and icing Stanford’s kicker. 

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Linux is awesome, but its a proprietary world

Posted by Chance on February 7, 2012

I mentioned in an earlier post how I decided to run Linux as my home OS. However, I recently switched back.

I wasn’t completely happy about switching back – I didn’t miss the antivirus programs and frequent and slow reboots.

Ultimately, though, Linux took too much time and effort to do everyday tasks.  And I wasn’t the only one using the computer. My wife has some computer smarts, but she doesn’t know the ins and outs of Linux.
I wanted to do basic tasks like watching flash videos on Firefox. Other things weren’t so much an issue of Linux, but issues of software availability on the platform. I had to work hard to get Adobe Digital Editions to work with our Nook, and I couldn’t upload pictures directly from Picasa to Facebook. Skype worked with my webcam – most of the time.  And, when I saw a show (Fiesta Bowl 2012) on iTunes available for purchase, I loved the idea of something so simple as simply buying an iTunes video and being able to watch it on my computer. I don’t have to make calculations in my head about what it would take to get such a thing to run in Linux.

So, I decided to make the switch back to Windows.  I sort of miss having an OS with which I can tinker, but having an Android phone has helped in that respect, as I still have something I can play around with.  It’s also nice having an OS in which I don’t have to tinker to get things to work.

As I’ve said before, the strengths of Linux and those of Windows are why I would like to get a Mac someday.  At its core, a Mac OS is Unix (like Linux, only proprietary), and it has commercial support.  Until then, my Windows machine works fine.

Ultimately, though, I wish someone Linux would take off in the commercial desktop world the way Android has.  I don’t know all the details of hardware vending and propriety drivers, etc… works, but Android doesn’t have the issues Linux does because phone manufacturers are willing to adapt it to their phones, and software developers are willing to make apps that make them money.  I’m not sure why such a system has never happened for Linux, at least on this scale.

Posted in Computers, Technology | 1 Comment »

One button, two buttons, three buttons?

Posted by Chance on February 4, 2012

Coding Horror posted on the idea of one button for the iPhone.  The

iPhone 4S

author, Jeff Atwood, likes the idea of the one button for its simplicity, but hates that it has to be overloaded (having multiple functions) to achieve so much functionality.  This means that it has different behaviors based on what screen you are (home vs. inside an app), and how the user has to long-press, double press, triple press, etc… to get different behaviors.

My wife has an iPhone, and I have an Android.  I actually like the single button on the iPhone based on its simplicity, but I also like the 4 buttons that Android offers.  Although toddlers are not the target audience of a smartphone, my 3-year old can operate an iPhone much more easily than an Android phone.  I see Jeff’s point though, it becomes complicated when the button has to be used in different ways (i.e. hold, double click), and this could get even more complicated if the iPhone continues to gain additional capabilities (i.e. Siri).

I do like the Android way of doing things, although I would tweak it.

4 button Android phone

Of course I like the home button (which will be standard for smartphones for some time to come), but I love the “Back” button, and the “Search” button.  But I’m not a fan of the “Settings” button.  This button is seemingly powerful, but it takes getting used to.  When I started with Android, I kept forgetting about this button, whether on the home page, or in an app.  With an app, it’s even worse, because sometimes it does something, sometimes it doesn’t.  And the behavior changes based on what screen you are on in the app.  I believe that it is up to the app developer to make the options visible within the app itself.

 

 

Apparently Google agrees with me on this issue as well. The capacitive buttons will be replaced by software buttons. This time there will be a Home, Back (which will be on the left- makes complete sense), and a sort of Task Manager button.

What happened to the Menu button? On apps that offer the function, it will be represented by three vertical dots.  They don’t always appear in the same place, meaning you may need to hunt for them. This will likely cause confusion for a while, but as developers update their apps for ICS as they did for Honeycomb, getting to settings and other functions will hopefully be less fraught.

Android ICS phone with software buttons

Or, another way of putting it.

ICS/Google is moving away from using a menu button in favor of having a settings button within the apps UI. But legacy apps (apps not updated for ICS) will have an extra menu button pop up on the G-Nex so you can still get to the settings.

This is perfect.  In the event that there is not a settings dialog in the app itself, a software menu button will appear indicating that settings can be changed.

I’m not running ICS (which is Android 4.0), but I think I like this setup the best, at least theoretically. I’m not sure about the “Multitasking” button in lieu of the search button, but then again, it may make multitasking easier.

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Does God control sports?

Posted by Chance on November 14, 2011

So, for most of my life I’ve grown up with the idea of a God who follows the deistic model when it comes to sports.  That is, a God who does not interfere whatsoever in sporting events.  I was talking with my wife about this, maybe a year ago, or so and she disagreed with me.  That is, she didn’t necessarily believe that was the case.  I forget her exact reasoning, but it made sense.  It was something along the lines of “how do we know God doesn’t?”

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense.  As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more and more accustom to a God who controls everything.  I’m not saying we don’t have free will, but I believe the decisions we make and what we are going to make all fit within his framework.  I look at where I work and where I live, and they all fall within his master plan.  Whose to say sports don’t do the same?  Why would God be involved in every aspect of people’s lives but then decide to back off on this one thing?

My inner dialog goes like this:

“Well, that’s not fair if God favors one team over another and is involved in competition, that doesn’t seem fair.”

“Well, I believe I got this job because of God’s providence and direction for my life, and that means someone else didn’t.  Does it seem fair that God picked me in this job over someone else?”

“You’re right.  You’re so smart.”

Look, I know this is a weird idea, but here’s the thing.  I believe God is involved in every area of our life.  And the people who play sports, and even those who follow sports to a much lesser degree, have sports occupying a major part of their life.  Are you going to tell me that God completely butts out of that area?  People learn valuable lessons from sports, including games won or lost.

That being said, I don’t believe we can infer anything from the win-loss column of our team.  We can’t say our team won all of their games because of their mission trip to Africa or they lost all their games because they partied too much.  The Bible is clear that we cannot know why things happen, see the book of Job or the story about the blind man.  Bad and good things happen in every arena of life, and we don’t always know why, so I believe this is true for sports.

Posted in Christianity, Sports | 1 Comment »

Why I don’t use the Chrome Browser

Posted by Chance on September 27, 2011

 

I like many things about the Chrome browser.  It starts up extremely fast.  It has a nice interface and looks ahead of its time in comparison to Firefox.  But, I still use Firefox.

One thing I love about Firefox is its smart bar, in which you type any term and it will search your history and pull up matching URLs and web-page titles.  This doesn’t work as well in Chrome.

Let’s take a look. Click on the pics to see full-size.

In Chrome, I view an article in PCWorld called “Amazon Kindle Tablet Could Shake Up Tablet Wars”.

I close Chrome and reopen. I type “kindle”.  I don’t get the article I just viewed.

Now I open Firefox and visit the same page.  I close Firefox and reopen.  I type in “Kindle”, and I see the site I just visited, 2nd from the top.

I personally like to be able to easily retrieve sites in my history.  I’m surprised Google doesn’t exceed in this area.

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Credit cards and alcohol

Posted by Chance on August 23, 2011

Dave Ramsey has a lot of good financial advise.  However, he does not believe in credit card usage whatsoever.  Now, looking at his article he makes a lot of good points, and I can’t disagree with most of them them. I do believe it is possible to use a credit card, reap the benefits, and pay the balance off.  That being said, I do agree with his point about “When you pay cash, you can “feel” the money leaving you. This is not true with credit cards.”

However, my pastor said something yesterday that was quite wise.  Christianity is about principles, not rules.  When you focus on following rules and not principles, you can miss out on following the voice of God. I feel that by saying “credit cards are prohibited”, it amounts to legalism.

Also, the arguments I’ve heard against credit cards seem familiar.  “Credit cards destroy people and families.  So many people use them irresponsibly.  People can’t handle credit cards”.  These sound very similar to arguments against alcohol.  Some Christian denominations believe in abstinence altogether.

I do believe abstinence from both can be a very wise decision for many people.  Unfortunately many people cannot handle either and end up harming their lives.  But I believe a key principle in the Christian walk is that of discernment and hearing God’s voice.  My pastor said it well.  “People want rules, they don’t want to listen for God’s voice.”

I’m not saying that is why Dave Ramsey is saying to not use credit cards, or that he is suffering from legalism, or anything like that.  And after reading the article I want to evaluate how I use credit cards.  But the philosophy of  “never use them, never ever” is not one I agree with, and doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone.

Posted in Christianity, Philosophy | 4 Comments »

Thoughts on college

Posted by Chance on August 22, 2011

So, as I was reading an OSU sports blog (one I greatly recommend visiting if you like Oklahoma State sports), the blogger mentioned that today is the first day of school for many college students, including OSU.  The blog had a poll regarding how we feel now that summer is over, and one of the answers was “I have a job, I’d walk a 5k on broken glass for 1 more semester of college”.

As someone who now has a job and is out of college, this is a viewpoint to definitely consider.

College was a lot of fun.  I was on my own and pretty much independent.  I wasn’t a party animal at all, but I rarely went to bed before 1 or 2 am, and the dorms (sorry, residence halls) were a lot of fun, as I hung out in the Parker Hall lounge or played foosball.  Although I was flat broke, usually going to Denny’s to order a side of fries, I had a lot of fun.

College was also a great time of mental stimulation.  Whether it was the classroom, an opinion article in the O’Colly, or a discussion in the lounge, I was faced with all sorts of viewpoints different from my own and had my faith challenged.  It was in college that I started to have a passion to follow along with my aptitude for math, and learned basic ideas about how the universe worked in Physics 1.  It was also then that, through the O’Colly and some comic strips posted on someone’s door, that many libertarian ideas of mine started to take root, although lying dormant for 4 years.

Most importantly, I met my wife there.  I remember when I first met her, although we didn’t start dating for a year after that.  She is definitely the greatest thing that happened to me at OSU (although 2002 Bedlam was pretty sweet too).  I sometimes look at my life and feel that, if this was a movie, she’s my happy ending.

That takes me to where I am now.  Now I have a job.  I can afford to order a full meal at Denny’s.  This stage of life doesn’t have the spontaneity of college life, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I now have my wonderful wife and two great kids.  I also have a job that I enjoy, one that challenges me.  While college was great, and sometimes I miss what it offers, that was in the past, a season of my life.  Now I enjoy this one.

Posted in Culture | 2 Comments »