An impossible task.

Alright, I'll be the first to admit that our government has made quite a few mistakes in its long history. But, last night I watched Blood Diamond and it got me thinking, quite idealistically, of course: Does our government have an impossible task?

As it stands right now the government has 2 groups of people to please: those within its borders, and those on the outside. Those within cry for peace or justice or a mixture of both for those on the outside while at the same time crying for all the things that make us comfortable(lower gas prices, diamonds, clothes, hair straighteners, shoes, plasma screen tvs). Those on the outside either hate us for what we have and what we do, or they love us for what we have and what we do; they either want to wipe us out and redo the structure of this country and its government, or they want to meticulously copy and conform to everything we do. These two groups separate, probably, in that one group sees us crying out for justice and the other chooses to focus on our consumeristic nature superseding any efforts towards justice. This may all seem rather obvious, but there's other things that are very obvious to the world and our government that haven't really penetrated our heads that are focused on getting to the next level of Halo 3, getting the newest MAC lipshade, or on updating our facebook status.

For instance, Saudi Arabia. I would hate the United States if i was a resident of that country. Saudi Arabia is the richest country in the ENTIRE WORLD. So, suprisingly, it has an insane number of refugees and homeless. How is this possible in a country with as many resources as S.A. could have such depth of poverty in their country? How? I'll tell you. The corrupt regime that runs the country uses all of the money on (besides lavish living for the royal family) funding for Wahabist groups. What is wahabism you ask? and why haven't your heard of it? Well, probably because: a. you weren't researching this (because neither was i. this information was given to me...luckily) b. you heard it and it was too uncomfortable. But, what is it? The most extreme sect of Islam.

"Some Wahhabist books and pamphlets teach that Muslims should reject absolutely any non-Muslim ideas and practices, including political ones. A study by the NGO Freedom House found wahhabi publications in a number of mosques in the United States preaching that Muslims should not only "always oppose" infidels "in every way," but "hate them for their religion ... for Allah's sake," that democracy "is responsible for all the horrible wars of the 20th century," that Shia and other non-Wahhabi Muslims were infidels, etc."
[thanks wikipedia.]

While there are these mosques in the U.S., they are even more prevalent in and throughout Europe and Asia. The expansion and spreading of their teaching is primarily funded by the revenue received from the oil exports of Saudi Arabia. Who requires the most oil? We do. Interesting. So? What do these refugees think of us when we preach our message of freedom and democracy? They think we are selfish, hypocritical. And its true. "A man cannot serve two masters." A country cannot serve two masters. Either we work towards an end that would see the saving of many lives, or we focus on our lives, and how we can become more comfortable..if that is possible.

It's a choice. The government cannot please our consumeristic, selfish citizens, while at the same time living up to its duty as a world power. I'm not naive enough to think that anyone will be willing to give up their comfort for the lives of others who reside permanent discomfort. I'm not naive enough to think that anyone will be willing to to turn off "The Real Housewives of Orange County" to think about the real problems that face our world. I'm not naive enough to think that people will turn off all the noise that they consciously surround themselves with to listen to the cries of help that are being suppressed by evil regimes throughout a large part of our world. I'm not naive enough to think that people will give up the luxuries that go along with freedom to help release the escalating number of slaves that are are in bondage throughout this world. I'm not naive enough to think that people will stop worrying about whether or not their water is filtered, or whether they should get the FIJI water bottles or the Aquafina, without worrying about the people of Fiji, many of whom have water that is unfit to drink. Maybe I am naive enough to wish it.

One of the biggest trials facing our government will be convincing the residents of the United States that many of the world's problems are due in part to our rejection of simple living. Even if they decide to be bold enough to tell the American public, they will surely not be heard. And even if we did listen, we wouldn't believe it, because nothing is ever OUR fault. No, only our government can be blamed. The citizen is always right, ironically, like the customer. Perhaps we've developed that little trait due to our time in the shopping malls. But, that's only our response if the accusations are heard. But, they won't be. No, we'll be too busy drowning out the noise with our ipods, our HD 1080 TVs, our guitar hero and Rock Band games.

And life will go on.

For us.

For a while.


Exposition Vs. Entertainment.

Last night i went to a college group called "Crave" at Saddleback Church. This church is MASSIVE. This is also the church who is led by Rick Warren, author of "the Purpose Driven Life", which i have not read. Aside from the quick judgements i have a tendency to make about mega churches and self helpish books, it is important to remember that the Word is proclaimed here at Saddleback. They are also very globally aware with a large HIV/AIDS initiative program (with which a graduate of taylor is big part) and many missions teams going out throughout the year. With that being said, here is my problem:

When my friend and I arrived, worship had already begun. And by worship i mean, rock concert. Light show, bass way to loud, everything way to loud. It was entertaining, thus it was distracting. However, what i was being distracted from was a bunch of worship songs in which the focus was on feeling. How God's love makes me feel. What about the deeper, more meaningful, less emotive implications of His love? These heavily emotive and contemporary songs definitely have their place, but when they take the place of those songs (primarily, but not limited to, hymns) which are so deep and rich in theology, then we know there is a problem. The choice of feely songs, coupled with the rock concert feel that was being promoted, perturbed me more than a bit. I'm not one to promote the traditional-like services, but i could have used a little organ or something. I felt like i was being bombarded with an ultra sensory experience, like they were trying to create a feeling within me. It bothers me when Christians decide that entertaining a person is the only way to move them. If we really believe what we believe, shouldn't the implications of what we believe be quite moving in and of itself. Enough to move mountains some might say.

As I sat thinking, and talking about this with some people afterwards, the words of my dear teacher from my high school expository writing class came to mind. Over a few classes we discussed what came to be called "the age of exposition" and "the age of show business". As may be clear to you, we currently live in the latter. Whereas in days past, the days of Abe Lincoln and the like, people would speak in a highly complex and expository manner that required much attention to retrieve the depth of the words, nowadays, those who speak in front of people tell jokes, recite anecdotes, tell moving stories, speak in short, often trite, sentences so as to not lose the focus of those who may be listening, to entertain, and to push people towards a feeling of joy, pain, empathy, or panic, whichever emotion best suits his or her purpose as a speaker. This is the age of show business. Entertain them, draw them in and create an emotion because if we can make them feel like they are in need of something or make them feel excited, then we have done our job. WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. Granted, often it is necessary to speak things in simple terms, so as not to lose people along the way, but we can't water things down and present a gospel that is based on the feeling that you get when you step into church. Its wrong and its a lie. And its sad.

The saddest part is that when this feeling disappears, what is this new believer left with? If you are drawn in based on a feeling, life without that feeling will seem wrong--after all, you were reeled in under the impression that Christianity creates that feeling. Christianity will turn out to be yet another spiritual disappointment. That is the tragedy of it all. Its not that it is bad to be entertained, but when entertainment giving way to emotion is substituted for exposition giving way to understanding (and then, most likely, emotion), a person is left with a poor substitute and is cheated out of something much more real.

I do, also, understand what a difficult job youth and college pastors have. How to be "relevant" and also retain some sort of "church-like" aspects. This is why i think that meetings like "Crave" are just a testament to the difficulty of finding a balance, and an example of a church that chose to be more "relevant" than traditional. Ok. thats fine. I just hope that this isn't where these students go for church. I hope that this sort of thing is considered more of a social gathering than a church service. That is my hope, but unfortunately i think i hope in vain.

I end with my favorite verse of one of my favorite hymns:
"Be thou my wisdom and Thou my true Word. I ever with Thee and Thou with me Lord. Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, sill be my vision, oh Ruler of all."



Don't start books unless you can finish them, you do yourself, and the author, a great disservice.

>The Four Loves by: C.S. Lewis(25% done)
>The Wasteland by: T.S. Eliot (30% done)
>Freakonomics by: Stephen D. Levitt (50% done)
>The Tipping Point by: Malcolm Gladwell (20% done)
>Til We Have Faces by: C.S. Lewis (25% done)
>David Copperfield by: Charles Dickens (pg. 89 of circa 800)
>Through Painted Deserts by: Donald Miller(just bought it. read 10 pgs tonight)
>God's Passion for His Glory by: John Piper(still trying to find a place to buy it.)

seriously. I'm task oriented. I hate things being unfinished...so why on earth am i not over halfway done with any of these books? Its a mystery for the ages.

the fact that i cannot stay focused in no way says anything negative about any of these books, or these authors. In fact, I've thoroughly enjoyed all of them--well actually, the jury is still out on Til we have faces...but I''m also only a quarter of the way through it, perhaps i should give it another 100 pages.

I hope all of you follow through on things you begin. Its a trait i am going to try to acquire pretty soon here.


Alex, Severe Mercy, Personality Tests, and things of that Nature.

I love it when i don't talk to a friend for a while and then get back together with them and its just like old times+a few more months of wisdom. Its encouraging to have time apart so that the ways they have grown are more easily seen or more visible because you aren't interacting with them daily. What a joy.

Today Alex and I discussed our favorite book, a Severe Mercy, and the level of awareness of one's life that a person must have to write such a book. Primarily the gift of looking back and seeing the ways God was involved in certain situations and the ways that particular instances were directed without you even knowing it. We also talked about the discomfort that sanctification involves. INTERESTING parallels were drawn between personalities and the process of becoming more like Christ. She mentioned the difference between a personality test she took when she was a freshman in high school and the one she took recently. She said that it had evened out a lot and she had become more of an introvert. All of you who know Alex know that she has not, in the past, been introverted, by any stretch of the imagination. But, she sees the ways the God is teaching her to listen and in the way she is becoming more Christ-like. Its interesting because I've been watching this process and the personality test was just a small indication that she's changing. I once was told that Jesus was ALL the personality types perfectly, and that's why his ministry was so effective(besides the fact that it was life changing), because he was able to communicate fully to everyone in the ways they needed to be spoken to. So, as we become more like him we begin to even out a bit, less extreme perhaps? Its also interesting to note that some of the most Christ-like and amazing people in my life happen to also show no extremes on those kinds of personality tests, they are pretty even. This doesn't mean, at all, that they don't have personality or flair or idiosyncrasies that make them very different from other people,but maybe they've just progressed to a place where, through added wisdom, they've learned to interact in a way that makes them more likely to understand, relate, and appreciate acting in different ways that are appropriate for each circumstance. anyway. just something I've been thinking about and discussing with my sweet friend.

sidenote: I've always hated personality tests because i thought they put people in boxes--however--looking at them from this perspective, they seem to set people free from the boxes that they've been put in their whole lives.

love it. lovin' St. Louis.


Finals approach quickly.

Well. Its 2:20am..and i have a final at 9am tomorrow. I love this. I love college life. I was made for this. I like the pressure. I like the late nights. I love the idea of it all.

Biology at 9am. 60 multiple choice questions. I probably need a B or high C to get an A in the class. Do-able.

History of Philosopy at 3. I'll be studying all day after a power nap and lunch. I really want to do well on this test.

On tuesday i have a 9am 1.5 mile run for Fit for Life. That will be interesting. I'll probably walk some it...its been so long since i've actually done anything active. hah. oh college.

Later in the day i have a Logic final...for which i am NOT at all prepared and then i have a Biblical Literature final..hopefully that will go well. I have to Ace that final to get an A..otherwise i get a B.

Anyway. Time to memorize needless facts for Biology...but on the brightside...at 10am tomorrow will NEVER have to take another lab science again. Its a beautiful thing.

Get some sleep for me tonight!


A quality addendum.

And one more thing about this word.

Even if I didn't think it hurt the way we view a specific person, after talking with Samantha about it, we realized that it says something about everyone else. If you say that one person is "quality" and thus attribute worth to them in that way, then you also, implied in the statement, differentiate their worth from another person's worth. I'd say everyone has worth, and thus everyone is "quality", but then the word becomes useless if everyone can be labeled as such. Interesting. Its just an interesting word choice.


"QUALITY"--a misnomer.

Maybe its just Taylor. Maybe its the people i talk with.

But, if i hear the word "quality" one more time, OR if i let it slip out of my mouth, i may decide never to speak again.

Since i believe this to be a pretty localized problem, you may not understand... allow me to give you the typical instance in which this word is used...

Girl A: "I met this guy tonight at the Extra Credit Seminar. He was telling me all about his goal to be a medical missionary in Rwanda and his desire to let God direct his path, even if that is not where he's supposed to be. We got into a long conversation about God's call and what that has looked like in each of our lives..."
Girl B: "Oh girl, that boy sounds quality."

Quality? Really?

Yes, he seems like a nice boy. I'm sure he has many qualities that are admirable. But, he, not unlike every other person on the planet, is a human. Thus, he also has many qualities that are a result of his fallen and depraved nature.

Perhaps we say "quality" to try to make an assertion about a person's good qualities outweighing his bad qualities--big problem--we can't see all these qualities. So, when we use this adjective, we are saying that those qualities that can be seen are more important than those that are concealed.

Perhaps when we say "quality" we are trying to speak about a specific quality--most often a genuine heart for the Lord. Well, be more specific. Please. It seems that when we objectify people and create this "quality" persona, we fail to use Jesus's standard. We no longer see the ways that people truly reflect Christ's character, but instead we see the way that they fit this visible standard.

So is that boy quality? Is that girl quality?
NO. Jesus is quality and when people seek after Him, their lives begin to be changed. Sometimes slowly, sometimes more obvious to the human eye--but who are we to say that just because someone is more visibly advanced in this journey, that he or she can be titled quality?

I feel like this word means a lot more than we realize.

Here, though, is my fundamental problem with the word: "character with respect to fineness, or grade of excellence"--that is the definition as provided by dictionary.com. GRADE OF EXCELLENCE? How dare was make the worth of people's lives based on what they do, on what we see? How can we see what is in the hearts of people?

By using this silly word, we raise ourselves up to the level of a judge. We give OUR stamp of approval. Well, its a good thing they don't need it.

I may seem to be making a huge deal out of something rather small, out of a 7 letter word, but its not the word--its the idea. I can't remain silent about something that i feel to be SO wrong within the Christian community, even in places where the world "quality" hasn't permeated the lingo of the people.

From here on out, if you here me use this word--you may slap me.

I hope you found some QUALITY words in the post :P


Christmas Pick-A-Date+Biology Presentation=Entire Weekend

Basically, I had an incredibly stressful, Excretory system research filled weekend, with the exception of Saturday night which was spent on a fun Pick-A-Date in Indy. Samantha and I went went our dates, Brandon and Joel (and the rest of our wing) to a formal dinner in the DC, then Joel and i performed a sneaky, covert mission to hide a potent cinnamon broom in Brandon's room while Sam distracted him(Sam and i have been planting this broom in people's room because its a funny prank that causes no damage--just clears the sinuses), then we left for Indy without Brandon suspecting anything. After the Christmas music filled ride, we got to the Sports Comedy club an proceeded to watch a marginal improv show, but it was still fun. Then we drove down to the Indy circle, maybe 2 miles away, and walked around in the beautiful, freezing cold night. The Christmas tree and city scape provided a picturesque atmosphere. After walking around for a bit (which hurt my feet desperately), we walked back to the car and drove home, singing "baby its cold outside" (the ella fitzgerald edition) numerous times. Quite the night. We got home at 2ish in the pouring rain, which, luckily, was not yet ice.

Samantha and i got up at 11, and from noon yesterday until 2am, i did nothing but compile a 44 slide presentation, 40 minute speech, lesson plan, assessment questions, demonstration and 10 page paper for Biology class. That all culminated at 8am his morning. now its over. Thank the Lord God in Heaven who sustained me through that.



Samantha and I dressed up and delivered our Christmas cards to some people today. We walked around in tacky scarves, vests, santa hats, and big pj pants spreading Christmas cheer to all! And in about 1 hour we leave for our Winter Formal. We are still looking like we do in this picture, sooooo i guess you could say we have a lot of work to do to look at all presentable. Pictures and descriptions about tonight to follow. :)