Tuesday, December 25, 2007

An Environmentally Correct Merry Christmas


The headline on ABC News this morning declared, "Pope Calls for Peace and Environmental Protection on Christmas." I had honestly not expected them to get it right, as I read in the article his real message was not about the environment at all.

"In his homily the Pope called on people to aside time in their lives for God and for the needy. He compared what he called the modern world's rejection of God, to the story of Jesus' birth in a manger, because there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn."

This is a fitting comparison. What good does it do to save the environment, when there is so much pollution in our own hearts, and in mine? Yes, we have been placed as stewards over the Earth; shall we then ignore the greater illness over the lesser one, the unseen over the one plainly observed?

As I examine myself, there is much that can be submitted which I have kept to myself, starting with my use of the time which has been given me. We are all creatures of habit, and in my own life part of this is staying away from socially awkward situations (everywhere outside the house) and becoming somewhat of a hermit. This isolationism is self-feeding and self-fulfilling, for it confirms my own view of myself, that I am basically an unworthy individual. This lie that I have accepted and believed, this snake that I have embraced to my chest, needs to have the light of God's truth shed upon it, to be revealed and cast aside.

Dear God, in as much as I am able I bring to you this small gift this Christmas- my time and my mind. Help me in my weakness. Let your love and your truth be known and come forth in my life. Let me not take this gift back to myself, but in a daily way, given back to you. Happy birthday, Lord Jesus! Thank you for your advent, your gift to us all.

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Youth


I was outside a convenience store last week, and as I was leaving, I noticed a group of teenagers pile out of the small vehicle they were traveling in. As I observed them, they were laughing and talking, their social lives taking center stage, living in the moment, without the cares and concerns of adulthood. I smiled at them, noticing two of them seemed to be a couple, oblivious to their surroundings in the midst of exploring romance.

As I got into my truck, I thought about the "magic" years, both the best and worst of our lives. Everything is magnified. Each moment, each experience, each thought. To us at the time, in the midst of hormone craziness, each event takes on important significance. We long for freedom, to shed the shackles of our parents and to express our individuality. To some, high school is a wonderful time, filled with discovery and friendship; to others, a desperate cage with no way out. To some extent, it is a matter of perspective.

Those of us who have gone through the process of "growing up" can recall numerous events that a picture, a song, a person, or a smell or thought can evoke. As I view myself as I was so many years ago, I could go into lengthy discussions about Mr. Spain's class, my life back then at Ridgeview High, my thoughts and aspirations at the time- the moments that were instrumental, in part, in shaping me into the person I am today. Two things, however, stand out.

One is that as a teacher who has been in the business for many years, I sometimes grow jaded with my students, and can take them for granted, forgetting that they are special, unique individuals who deserve my attention and respect. A word, a glance, an exchange of encouragement and ideas can make for them a special moment that might make a difference in their lives, much as the teachers I looked up to and respected encouraged me.

Another is that it is extremely rare that we give thanks to the *real* author of these wonderful, seemingly magical times. God grants us our lives and it is through His love that we have some how, some way, made it through the odd, awkward age of puberty. Thank you, Lord, for the beautiful, awesome days of my life!

Even though they are most probably gone, there are some teachers that I have not forgotten. Mr. Ed Coley, my 8th grade science teacher at Sandy Springs Middle School; Mr. Thomas F. Barry, Coach Bill Smith, Coach Hershel Robinson, and Mr. Harry Weisgerber from Ridgeview High, and Dr. Robert Ramger, Dr. Gaunt and Coach Caltagirone, from Maryville College and Liberty University respectively, I wanted to take a moment to say, wherever you are, thank you for believing in me.

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Top Turkey Teacher

[Click for larger picture]

This will be a fun article... sort of, hehe. I recently challenged my students, before Thanksgiving. There was a fund raiser by the Student Council for MUST ministries, a local charity that helps folks who don't have a lot of money. I swaggered up to the office with delusions of grandeur swimming in my head, planning and plotting. This would really get them going.

You see, each year they have a Top Turkey Teacher award. There is a picture of a bare turkey that graces the cafeteria wall. Students go up to the stage and can buy a paper feather of different bright colors for the teacher of their choice for 50 cents. They write the name of that teacher on the feather and it then adorns the turkey on the wall, making for a large plumage to decorate the school for Thanksgiving. The teacher with the most feathers gets a turkey.

As I went into the principals office and told her my plan, she laughed at my schemes and gave permission for me to make the school wide announcement.

As I was relating the story to my dad over Thanksgiving break, I asked him "How do you get a child to do something?"

"Tell them not to do it," he replied.

"RIGHT!" I said, as I proceeded to tell him the story.

"Good morning, boys and girls," I announced, as my voice boomed through the corridors of the school. "This is Mr. Houtchens. As you may have heard (and none of them had,) I understand that if I am chosen as the Top Turkey Teacher this year, at the end of the week at the pep rally, I am going to be hit with a pie in the face. Now, students.... I am much too proper... much too dignified... much too conservative... much too formal... much too respectful of my own image to allow this to happen. Therefore, I would ask your cooperation in NOT buying any feathers for me. I repeat, please do NOT buy any feathers for me. Thank you very much."

Of course that got the whole group of them going, particularly students that I had taught both this year and last. Father Kurt Wheeler, a co-worker said to me as he saw me later that day, "You dirty dog," shaking his head and smiling.

Students started making a point of coming up to me and telling me how many feathers they had bought for me. "No, no, no! Don't do that!" I would exasperate with mock indignation. One student came into my class and told me that her parents had given her $30 just to buy me feathers. I just stared at her dumbfounded. Things were escalating to a fever pitch. The announcements each morning gave a daily tally of who was winning. I was in the lead, and it appeared as though I would have to eat some pie on Friday. The story does not end there, though.

As there were TWO pep rallies, one for the seventh grade and one for the eighth, it was deemed (not by me) that I should have to take a pie in the face for each one. I had one last trick up my sleeve to make this memorable, something they would never suspect.

When the pep rally concluded, I was given the microphone. "Boys and girls, as you know I won the Top Turkey Teacher contest, and now I must take a pie to the face. However, the pie I am taking to the face is the MATHEMATICAL SYMBOL PI.

The gymnasium reverberated with their displeasure... BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!
ONCE AGAIN, I HAVE OUTWITTED YOU!
BOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ONCE AGAIN, I HAVE PROVEN MY SUPERIOR INTELLIGENCE!
BOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!
ONCE AGAIN, I HAVE OUTSMARTED, OUTMANEUVERED, and THWARTED YOU WITH MY CLEVERNESS!
BOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!
I was eating it up, grinning like a professional wrestler gone bad.

Thats when I got hit with the pie (I knew it was coming.) I think they may have hit me a little early in my monologue. The reaction of one of my former students behind me speaks volumes. They all cheered when I got my... pardon the cliche... just desserts.

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY!!!!!!

It took a couple of days of hot showers to get rid of the stickiness completely. At the second pep rally *someone* provided enough paper plates and whipped cream for the entire 7th grade faculty to take a shot at me. They lined up eagerly, madness glinting in their eyes, juvenile glee spreading across their faces at my misfortune. It seems my plan had incited my colleagues as well. Its nice to be loved and accepted, even if in a roundabout sort of way.

Perhaps I will need a little work before constructing my secret underground lair and becoming a super villain. However, maybe I should take this in stride... Dr. Evil's plans always go awry too, so maybe I *have* arrived.

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Wishy Washy Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown!


Seattle Public Schools sent out a letter to all of its teachers suggesting that Thanksgiving should be a time of mourning. The mourning, the letter states, is over "rigid fundamentalists" who STOLE fizzy lifting drin... er, I mean, Native American lands and repaid friendship with betrayal. It also states that it is a myth that Thanksgiving should be a time of happiness.

The news I read did not state whether the author of the letter, Caprice Hollins, the district director of Equity, Race and Learning Support had Indian ancestry, not that that would have justified the statement. It also did not state why the author of the article has not immediately and irrevocably deeded any lands and possessions therein to the original landholders in a fit of pique. The article did not answer why being "rigid," a "fundamentalist," or a "rigid fundamentalist" might be considered to be "wrong" or "in bad form" this holiday season. So then, if I was wishy washy and liberal, would that make me better? More acceptable to your school system, perhaps?

We must all FEEEEEL collective white GUILT for the SINS of our ANCESTORS in order to UNDERSTAND minorities better! I don't buy it, bucko. The Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves, the Florida State Seminoles, the county of Cherokee, where I live... these are all tributes to those groups of Indians and ties to the lands history. By and large, the ones offended by such names are liberals who have adopted such philosophies (politically correct ones) and are riding them for all their worth. My old high school, Ridgeview High, had the Redskins as their mascot. When it became a middle school, *someone* changed the mascot to Panthers to keep from "offending" people. I say with pride, I shall always be a Redskin at heart.

Ridgeview High we're all for you,
Our thoughts of thee will er be true.
Passing moments far and near,
Thy memories and praise are clear.
Mighty Redskins we will be,
Always faithful unto thee.
Loyalty and truth be nigh,
To Alma Mater Ridgeview High!

To Ms. Hollins and all those who agree with her, I offer the following disagreement by way of my own definition of Thanksgiving:
Thanks (given to God, by whom we all were made, for our lives, our families, and the blessings of this life;) and Giving (of ourselves to others, traditionally over sharing a meal, such as was done among the Pilgrims and the Indians they befriended.) There, now. Was that so hard?

Happy Thanksgiving to you all =)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Joe Lieberman- the new Zell Milller


There was an excellent speech given by Senator Lieberman which was roundly ignored by the major news outlets, but was covered by the Weekly Standard and thereafter picked up by Fox News. Its candor is refreshing, speaking words which would carry no weight coming from the White House, but whose truth rings soundly. He calls out the Democrats for specifically working towards an American defeat, just for the sake of repudiating our sitting president. There has been some talk of a Huckabee-Lieberman candidacy, which would possibly be able to mount a challenge to the Democratic front runner, Hillary Clinton. The entire speech can be found at Lieberman's website.

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

If a senator gives a speech, and no major newspaper reports it, does it matter? Joe Lieberman spoke in Washington Thursday on "the politics of national security." The next day, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today ignored his talk. Most Democrats will ignore it. But five guys named Rudy, John, Fred, Mitt, and Mike will read it. So should you. To that end, we're happy to provide excerpts from the remarks of the independent Democrat from Connecticut:

Between 2002 and 2006, there was a battle within the Democratic Party. . . . We could rightly criticize the Bush administration when it failed to live up to its own rhetoric, or when it bungled the execution of its policies. But I felt that we should not minimize the seriousness of the threat from Islamist extremism, or the fundamental rightness of the muscular, internationalist, and morally self-confident response that President Bush had chosen in response to it.

But that was not the choice most Democrats made. . . . Since retaking Congress in November 2006, the top foreign policy priority of the Democratic Party has not been to expand the size of our military for the war on terror or to strengthen our democracy promotion efforts in the Middle East or to prevail in Afghanistan. It has been to pull our troops out of Iraq, to abandon the democratically elected government there, and to hand a defeat to President Bush.

Iraq has become the singular litmus test for Democratic candidates. No Democratic presidential primary candidate today speaks of America's moral or strategic responsibility to stand with the Iraqi people against the totalitarian forces of radical Islam, or of the consequences of handing a victory in Iraq to al Qaeda and Iran. And if they did, their campaign would be as unsuccessful as mine was in 2006. Even as evidence has mounted that General Petraeus' new counterinsurgency strategy is succeeding, Democrats have remained emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq, reluctant to acknowledge the progress we are now achieving. . . .

I offered an amendment earlier this fall, together with Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, urging the Bush administration to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization and impose economic sanctions on them.

The reason for our amendment was clear. In September, General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker testified before Congress about the proxy war that Iran--and in particular, the IRGC and its Quds Force subsidiary--has been waging against our troops in Iraq. Specifically, General Petraeus told us that the IRGC Quds Force has been training, funding, equipping, arming, and in some cases directing Shiite extremists who are responsible for the murder of hundreds of American soldiers. . . .

Although the Senate passed our amendment, 76-22, several Democrats, including some of the Democratic presidential candidates, soon began attacking it--and Senator Clinton, who voted for the amendment. In fact, some of the very same Democrats who had cosponsored the legislation in the spring, urging the designation of the IRGC, began denouncing our amendment for doing the exact same thing.

[T]here is something profoundly wrong--something that should trouble all of us--when we have elected Democratic officials who seem more worried about how the Bush administration might respond to Iran's murder of our troops, than about the fact that Iran is murdering our troops.

There is likewise something profoundly wrong when we see candidates who are willing to pander to this politically paranoid, hyper-partisan sentiment in the Democratic base--even if it sends a message of weakness and division to the Iranian regime.

For me, this episode reinforces how far the Democratic Party of 2007 has strayed. . . . That is why I call myself an Independent Democrat today. It is because my foreign policy convictions are the convictions that have traditionally animated the Democratic Party--but they exist in me today independent of the current Democratic Party, which has largely repudiated them.

I hope that Democrats will one day again rediscover and re-embrace these principles. . . . But regardless of when or if that happens, those convictions will continue to be mine. And I will continue to fight to advance them along with like-minded Democrats and like-minded Republicans.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Read Between the Lines


Baptist Convention Expels North Carolina Church for Welcoming Gays

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Delegates to the Baptist State Convention have voted overwhelmingly to expel a Charlotte church for welcoming gays and lesbians without trying to change them.

Myers Park Baptist Church became the first to be kicked out under rules passed at last year's meeting. Those rules say any Baptist church that affirmed or endorsed homosexual behavior would be considered not to be cooperating with the convention.

The vote by the nearly 3,000 delegates came after two of the church's leaders called on them to open their hearts to homosexuals who want to worship with them and to respect local autonomy in interpreting the Bible.

But convention president Allan Blume told the meeting that the Bible calls on believers to turn away from sin. He also suggested that Myers Park Baptist was mostly interested in seeking publicity for its views, not in trying to work within the Baptist State Convention.


Ahhh, I see. So a church is expelled from the Southern Baptist Convention for welcoming gays into their congregation. Interesting. Would a church be expelled for, let's say, welcoming those who have committed adultery? Those who have worked for the IRS? Those who have persecuted the church? Would a church be expelled from the convention for welcoming Jesus? In as much as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto me. Welcoming a person and being an advocate for sin are two entirely different matters. How can one seek truth in a Christian community if they are not even allowed to be present?

Oh, but wait. Scripture states that believers must turn away from sin. So why have you not kicked out all who continue to smoke? Why have you not kicked out all who continue to lie? Why have you not kicked out all who continue to gossip? All who are commies? All who are not politically correct? All those who ARE politically correct? All who disagree with your way of thinking? OHHH. Those sins don't count. I understand now. /sarcasm off

Often times, news blurbs such as the one above only contain part of the story, usually the part that is sensationalized. If this church is truly seeking to be the attention hound of Christendom within the public media, using homosexuality as a means to an end, the problem is with church leadership, not with the congregation.

One must learn when consuming information to read between the lines. Come to think of it, what am I REALLY trying to say in writing this article?

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Eisenhower UFO Meeting



Here is a good article about the February 11th, 1955 Eisenhower UFO meeting at Holloman AFB, during a one and a half day period when his whereabouts could not be accounted for (supposedly for a case of the sniffles.) It contains information I had not yet been privy to. Yes, it is not terribly reliable, considering it is "friend of a friend that is now deceased" information. Nonetheless, many times a grain of truth can be found while sifting through sand. Here is the entire article, with source and another presidential UFO site.

PS I recommend the PresidentialUFO site- FASCINATING!

G. Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

http://www.agoracosmopolitan.com/home/Frontpage/2007/11/09/01937.html
http://www.presidentialufo.com/

Film Of 1955 Extraterrestrial and U.S. President Eisenhower Meeting?
by Ed Komarek

I would like to detail the case of a personal local contact that I had years ago. The contact was Sam Standland who was the biological father of a contactee friend of mine. Extraterrestrial (ET) contact runs in the family. My contactee friend put me in touch with Sam years ago and had me go interview him at his trailer where he lived east of Cairo Georgia about 30 miles. He had contacted the Pentagon to see if it was okay to talk but they did not get back with him right away so I went over to interview him along with my contactee friend.

It would seem that Sam had fallen through the cracks because his military records had been burnt up in a fire in the 1970's. After he talked with me, the Pentagon got back with him and when they found out that he had talked to me they read him the riot act and even threatened a friend of his that I had not had contact with. His trailer was burglarized and all his papers taken and were later replaced with new different ones. He and his friend went out and got drunk together after all this went down. Still he secretly told more of his story to his biological daughter over a period of several years.

I seem to have lost my report on this case but what I remember from the interview was that he had been in the Air Force and flew in the western United States with a group of pilots around 60 I seem to remember, that took gun camera photos of UFOs. This was in the 1950's and I think he said the Air Force had 9 saucers in 1959. He was transferred to the Pentagon where he held a top secret clearance. While he worked at the Pentagon he had access to files where he saw photos of both dead and live aliens. One was where several different types of live ET’s were lined up against a underground tunnel wall. The pictures were taken by Jimmy Doolittle.

I also remember him telling me about seeing pictures of a crashed saucer inside a hanger. The core of the saucer was on a flatbed truck and the saucer itself lay on the floor with a big hole in its side with pipes and things hanging out. He said the craft had hit the ground very hard and the core of the craft punched through the wall of the craft making the hole. He said the core was heavy but the craft itself was light and could easily be picked up by two men.

I had not heard from my contactee friend for quite awhile and yesterday I thought I ought to write up this case for my blog as I have been building up some cases so that others can see a little of the evidence upon which I base my thinking. Today I got a call from this friend and ended up talking with this friend for a couple of hours this evening.

My friend said that Sam also told her about viewing a black and white movie of the meeting between President Eisenhower and human ET’s which I assume was the alleged 1955 meeting. My friend says that it showed the three craft coming down over the runway doing some flight demonstrations and one craft landed and human ET’s came out. They said that they were willing to cooperate and give mankind technology to cure disease and cheap non polluting energy technology if they would make concessions in regards to warfare and other things but Eisenhower said the government was not ready for that and that cheap energy technology would severely disrupt the economy.

The ET’s were lead into a hanger where the men pulled guns on them and said they would be forced to give out the information. The ET’s walked out through the wall of the hanger and went back to their ship and did some more demonstrations like disappearing and reappearing and then left. This apparently contributed to Eisenhower’s heart attack Sam told his daughter.

It is not clear between my friend and I if Sam was involved in briefing other folks like airmen or was briefed for some other reason. My friend also says that Sam told her that he was in North Africa and he watched as two jets tried to shoot down a craft and the jets were disintegrated. He saw this with his own eyes. My friend also said that Sam told her about the military gathering up transceivers scattered about the country by the ET’s that when dropped on the ground would bury into the ground so as to be hard to see.

This story seems consistent with other folks testimony from the 1950's. I thought Sam told me he retired because of a disability in the late 1950's but my friend thinks that he just might have been moved to the Pentagon for work in the 1960's. Sam died a number of years ago so I can publish his name. I remember writing up a report on this at the time but have not been able to find it. There was much more detail but my memory of the interview has faded. I did not want to make this case public because of trouble to Sam and the family.

I do remember that this was the first time I had heard of the name of Jimmy Doolittle associated with Extraterrestrials. I even talked to John Lear about this over the phone and he confirmed that Jimmy Doolittle was involved. He said that when he first got involved with UFOs his mother was concerned and called the family friend, Jimmy Doolittle about UFOs and he said yes they are real but I can’t talk about it. This is a rather small detail but its new information like this that really strengthens a story in my mind. I also had never heard of a crash where the heavy core punched a hole through the outside of the saucer either. He also said that there were crashes before 1947, another thing that I had not heard at the time. I seem to remember the date of a pre 1947 crash as 1942. I think Sam’s story should be taken seriously. There is nothing like personally meeting and talking to people and hearing their stories directly, especially those who do not want to go public because of the repercussions.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Allahu Akbar


Caution: Graphic imagery contained herein

I can't even begin to properly fathom what I have just read, and what I have just seen. I am a Christian. A teacher. I am dedicated to my students to help them get the best science education I can. In Africa- Gombe, Nigeria, to be more precise- there was another teacher in a public school who wanted to help her class. Until some Muslim students complained... then rioted.

The basis of their complaint was that the teacher had touched a bag belonging to a student which contained a Koran. Because the teacher was Christian, touching the bag had evidently "defiled" it, and "defiled" the Koran held within. They began beating this woman, named Oluwatoyin Oluwasesin, and she had to be dragged out of the class and taken to the principals office where she was locked in a bathroom.

Other Muslims outside the school were attracted by shouts of Allahu Akbar! coming from the students. They entered the school and broke down the principals office door, along with the students. The teacher was dragged out and beaten about the head with a tire iron, causing massive blood loss.

The principal somehow managed to free her and took her to a nearby house, but the rioting Muslims went in, dragged her out, and beat her to death. They then burned her corpse, celebrating.

Allahu Akbar.

The liberal response to this is "all they need is understanding." I know if Christians were doing this in the name of Jesus I would be raising holy freaking hell. Instead, we are treated with silence.

When I hear stories like this, it makes me wonder if Bush is right.

I am simply stunned and speechless. Here are the links:
http://neoconcommandcenter.blogspot.com/2007/04/religion-of-peace-beats-teacher-to.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianah_Oluwatoyin_Oluwasesin

Dear God, I pray for this woman who was killed because of her faith in your Son, Jesus. Please gather her to yourself, and be with her. Comfort her family and her husband. Let Your will be done. I pray for those who perpetrated this act in the name of their religion. It seems to me that the real defilement occurred in their hearts. Please forgive them. Help them to see, that killing, murdering others is not something to rejoice in. Do they really desire to see all of us dead? 100,000 shout "Death to America" in massive rallies in Iran. Please help us to see and discern rightly, not with judgment and vengeance, but with understanding and enlightenment of spiritual things which are not seen, by the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.



PS As an afterthought, I checked to see if this post was, in fact, accurate, as the article I got the information from was posted on April 1st. It's all true. I appreciate Brook verifying this in her log.

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Monday, November 5, 2007

I Hate the New England Patriots


I hate the Patriots. Yes, the golden boys of the northeast who can do no wrong. The juggernaut that smashes every team in it's way. I hate 'em. Now, it would be easy to say, "Oh, he's a fan of the Falcons- its crying over spoiled grapes." The comparison between the Falcons and the Patriots records is irrelevant. So why do I hate the New England Patriots?

Certainly they have a great team. An outstanding offensive line. A quarterback in Tom Brady that can make pinpoint passes. This is the team, however, that was caught cheating. C-H-E-A-T-I-N-G. It was enough for the commissioner to take away the teams #1 draft pick next year. The coaching staff was caught taping opponents on the sideline in order to decipher the play calls the opponent was sending in, or alternatively, to read the lips of the coaching staff as the plays were sent in, so a heads up could be sent to the offensive or defensive team captain on the field. This is akin to Barry Bonds' alleged use of steroids. How long were they doing this? It brings the Super Bowl titles the team has won into question. They had the same coach, Bill Bellichick.

Not one player openly condemned the coach for this practice. Not one called him out. On one hand, one does not bite the hand that feeds you. But on the other, one must stand up for what is right.

Secondly, this is the coaching staff that deliberately runs up the score on opponents, pouring salt on the wounds of defeated teams. I am reminded of the Falcons Super Bowl run of 1998. Denver's coach Mike Shanahan had the game won. They were up by a margin that ensured their victory in that game, and the Denver players were celebrating on the sidelines. What did they do? They ran up the score, calling long passing plays, insulting the Falcons for all to see. That memory still burns in my mind to this day. Bellichick and his staff are doing this same thing on a weekly basis. Compare this to Dan Reeves, who, in one year when we were defeating the Panthers by a wide margin, would run the ball to the 45 yard line, then punt, serving to run out the clock on our offensive series.

This is called mutual respect for an opponent. Running up the score is not something that Tom Landry of the Cowboys would ever do, rest his soul. Nor is it something that many coaches of days past would consider. It was an unspoken gentleman's agreement.

I speak from not being perfect myself. Pride cometh before the fall, as we have seen in the case of Michael Vick. I should hope that, when it comes time for the New England Patriots to fall, that the fall would be a steep one. Perhaps Mr. Bellichick and his team would not mind when every other team in the NFL does the same to them as they have done to others. Of course, they would not be around too long should this happen. Shame, that.

G. Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Monday, October 29, 2007

Heroes: The TV Series


There is a new series on TV that I have recently been watching called "Heroes." In it, normal people have been afflicted or blessed with different, unusual genetic powers, such as mind reading, regeneration, invisibility, flight, and the generation of radiation. Some of these heroes use their powers benevolently, others, to commit theft and murder. Note: none of them wear the typical tights one associates with comic books, lending a small amount of suspension of disbelief. One "hero" (the villain of the series, Sylar, a former watchmaker) even has the ability to gain the powers of those he destroys. So he runs around trying to find these unique genetic mutants, and uses his power of telekinesis to gruesomely remove the crowns of his victims heads, skullcap and all. One objective of all the other heroes is to stop Sylar and those who are like him who use their powers to destroy. It's good verses evil, with power corrupting those it touches, to a lesser or greater extent.

Another one of the themes of the show which I find interesting is the idea of everyday people (although truly unique) being able to have an impact on great events that affect us all. It seems as though we as individuals are powerless to make an effectual lasting change in our world for the betterment of mankind. Hiro Nakamura, who can bend time with his mind, tells his friend (who has no superpowers) "It is not our powers that makes us heroes. It is the choices we make."

That being said, I wanted to make two comparisons. First, we have all been like Sylar. We have all cut through bone and sinew without thinking, and sometimes on purpose.

With our words.

I am very aware of this in my own life. At times in the past, I have made statements in an attempt to be funny, in order to be liked and accepted. I have belittled others to make myself look better. How this hurts and wounds others in ways we could never imagine. For the spirit is not subject to being bandaged. One cannot use antibiotics on this jagged, dirty wound. Even if one could suture it up, it would not remove the pain it causes, nor cleanse the wound, nor remove the scars which are left behind.

This also hurts ourselves, for we become numb to the destructive forces we wield so indiscriminately. Like Sylar, the serial killer, we no longer see the pain and anguish we cause, being drunk on revenge or other less than savory motivations.

We must be careful with our words, weighing and measuring them out, especially when angry- choosing not to return wrong with wrong and pain with pain. What is beneficial? What is good? What is truth? These are things which must be considered.

Secondly, I would say this: we all have the capability to be heroes. And we all have a "power" if one would call it that, although it is not "ours" per se, but rather a matter of our very nature.

Prayer.

In prayer, the temporal touches the infinite. Our blindness in our limited earthly view becomes limitless in the act of praying to our Maker, for even though we do not see, He does. The simple act of prayer can release unseen forces, angels, to do spiritual warfare in the name of love, and to do God's will in our lives. In prayer, we humble ourselves, and recognize God's sovereignty and authorship of our lives, beautiful gifts given to us to treasure and give back to Him.

We can have an impact on our world. We can make a significant difference through prayer, and through the choices we make.

So, in light of the above, I ask you this:

Whattya gonna do about it, hero?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Tomorrowland


OK, well, time to come out of seclusion (not that anyone reads this rag.) It's been a couple months since I was last actively writing and in that time I have been fighting off a nasty respiratory infection and trying to stay ahead of my responsibilities at work. Today I go to the doctor for my x-ray results and to see how the antibiotic he has given me has worked. During that time a number of ideas have crossed my mind, and I shall try my best to relate the ones that I can remember.

Among the ideas that have crossed my mind (usually on the way to work) is an intriguing one that has relevance and can make one think, then think again. It involves movie plots and the idea of time travel. Now most of the time when you have a time travel story, one of the protagonists (usually the comic relief) does something stupid and steals something or interacts with something that causes a split in the timeline. Now there are TWO futures, one being the normal one and one being the "new" future where Hitler wins WWII or something equally disasterous occurs and then it becomes a "how do we fix the timeline?" type of story.

The thought occurred to me.... What if, our timeline, the current one, the one that we know, was the one that was messed up? The normal is revealed as abnormal. The real world is exposed as the one being flipped upside down. For example, another group of time travelers show up, who may or may not bear a resemblance to our protagonists. They are amazed at the differences between our worlds.

World One Guy: How do you mean we are flipped around?

World Two Guy: Your politicians.... your lawyers.... they are among our greatest heroes. Honest, courageous, hard working, a model for all to follow.

WOG: Hahahahahaha!!!!!!!! You have GOT to be kidding!

WTG: I am not. [Look of bewilderment]

WOG: (It quickly ceases being funny) But, absolute power corrupts absolutely....

WTG: Thats why we elect people to those positions who are worthy, and upright, and just.

WOG: What other differences are there between the two timelines?

WTG: Your government here kills people based on the definition of their "quality of life." According to our calculations, this idea will continue to grow. Eventually, all who all who disagree with government ideas and programs will be considered mentally defective, and they, too, will be destroyed. It's sanctioned, legalized murder, which will expand exponentially. All religion will be supplanted eventually with government approved philosophies. All thought and action will be brought under control.

WOG: Oh my God...

WTG: You see the necessity for our mission.

WOG: Then if these wrongs are to be corrected, for the timeline to be restored, that would mean the end of our existence.

WTG: Yes.

WOG: We are willing to help you in this, to right these wrongs.

Luke 9:24 "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it."

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Outsiders


As the new NFL season begins, I reflect back on the events that have transpired since the end of the season last year, and since 2001, When the Falcons selected Michael Vick with the first pick in that years draft. Certainly, he appeared to have talents that no other NFL quarterback had ever had. Speed, elusiveness, and a cannon for an arm that torched college secondaries. I have been a Vick opponent for several years now, my objections reaching their height when Vick flipped the bird to home fans at the Georgia Dome. Indeed, I suggested on the Falcons message boards that we trade him after the Green Bay playoff win, and was roasted with angry responses.

There are two ways of looking at this situation. On one hand, Vick clearly has touched a nerve with the American public not only for his unprofessional behavior on and off the field (the water bottle incident at the airport, the flipped birds, giving up late in games) but also in his personal life. Turning puppies who have been domesticated and could become loving members of families into savage monsters which must be destroyed because they represent a threat to society seems to be a particularly heinous act, one which has been committed continuously over the years since 2001, when Vick received his first paycheck.

To my knowledge, Vick has never made any public profession of faith. He has made numerous public professions of a glitzy, gangster-stylized, live-for-the-money/glory lifestyle, and promoted this view towards our nations youth. Yet God views both Michal Vick and I, and everyone else in the same way. We are all flawed by sin. We all have our own individual issues, yet He loves us all the same. Does this mean that I forgive and forget? Yes and no. Vick's private sin has become very public, yet how many of us struggle with gossip? With infidelity of the heart? With pride? King David committed murder and adultery over Bathsheba, yet he was able to repent of that and became a man after God's own heart. He had to live with the consequences of his actions, however, and Israel was at war with its enemies for his entire life.

If I were Michael Vick (a sobering thought), I would make the following statement to the media:

"To the American public, the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons, and their fans: I sincerely and humbly apologize for my actions. All allegations regarding the matters at Bad News Kennels and myself are true. I am canceling my acceptance of the plea deal offered to me by way of my lawyers, and instead this morning will plead guilty and throw myself on the mercy, and justice, of the judge. After serving whatever time is sentenced for me to serve, I will not seek any employment in professional football, but will instead seek to work at an animal shelter, under supervision, in hopes of redeeming myself and my actions. I was wrong not only in hurting and killing these creatures which were placed in my care, but also in dedicating my life to a pursuit of worthless image. Not now, but after such things have come to pass, I would humbly ask your forgiveness."

Eating humble pie is a hard thing to do. For some, it may be much harder than scoring touchdowns in the NFL. I am not holding my breath.

G.Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Friday, August 10, 2007

In Defense of Faith


On Debating Religion (1994) by Richard Dawkins

[ Richard Dawkins, well-known for his books on evolution, took part in a debate with the Archbishop of York, Dr John Habgood, on the existence of God at the Edinburgh science festival last Easter. [Easter '92 ed.] The science correspondent of The Observer reported that the "withering" Richard Dawkins clearly believed the "God should be spoken of in the same way as Father Christmas or the Tooth Fairy". He [the correspondent] overheard a gloomy cleric comment on the debate: "That was easy to sum up. Lions 10, Christians nil". ]

[My responses will be in red italics, enclosed within brackets]

Religious people split into three main groups when faced with science. I shall label them the "know-nothings", the "know-alls", and the "no-contests". I suspect that Dr John Habgood, the Archbishop of York, probably belongs to the third of these groups, so I shall begin with them. [What you mean is that YOU categorize them into three groups, based on on your interpretation of their answers. Do not phrase your statements so as to speak for others. Please continue.]

The "no-contests" are rightly reconciled to the fact that religion cannot compete with science on its own ground. They think there is no contest between science and religion, because they are simply about different things. the biblical account of the origin of the universe (the origin of life, the diversity of species, the origin of man) -- all those things are now known to be untrue. [Known? Ah, you were there with a camcorder then. No? Why what faith you have to place your beliefs in something you have not seen, nor can you repeat scientifically through experimentation, limiting your variables and repeating your results with the same outcome. You cannot repeat the origins of human life, therefore, do not insult my intelligence by concluding that I accept such things merely because they are accepted by others who regard themselves as "intellectual." I chide my 7th grade science fair students for such thinking. I remain skeptical, not of natural selection, but of some specific parts of the theory of evolution, where faith in unproven conclusions comes into play.]

The "no-contests" have no trouble with this: they regard it as naive in the extreme, almost bad taste to ask of a biblical story, is it true? True, they say, true? Of course it isn't true in any crude literal sense. Science and religion are not competing for the same territory. They are about different things. They are equally true, but in their different ways. [True science is limited by the 5 senses; religion includes the spirit of living things and other forms of subjective truth. I am not of the belief that truth can only be found objectively. More on that later.]

A favourite and thoroughly meaningless phrase is "religious dimension". You meet this in statements such as "science is all very well as far as it goes, but it leaves out the religious dimension". [The phrase "thoroughly meaningless" is dependent on the speaker, and their viewpoint.]

The "know-nothings", or fundamentalists, are in one way more honest. They are true to history. They recognize that until recently one of religion's main functions was scientific: the explanation of existence, of the universe, of life. Historically, most religions have had or even been a cosmology and a biology. I suspect that today if you asked people to justify their belief in God, the dominant reason would be scientific. Most people, I believe, think that you need a God to explain the existence of the world, and especially the existence of life. They are wrong, but our education system is such that many people don't know it. [To know nothing, in latin; a sciencia. Do fundamentalists *really* know nothing, or are you simply name-calling? Keep your arguements to the point at hand- name calling is fit for moronic television shows like Jerry Springer. Thank you for qualifying your statement that it is your belief that people need God to prove the existance of the world, and life.]

They are also true to history because you can't escape the scientific implications of religion. A universe with a God would like quite different from a universe without one. A physics, a biology where there is a God is bound to look different. [How?] So the most basic claims of religion are scientific. Religion is a scientific theory. [A historical presumption, which is unproven opinion. By attributing the origin of all religion and religious beliefs to supernatural folk tales, it is premised on the idea that no supernatural occurances whatsoever in the history of all mankind have their origin from God, or the spiritual realm. That has not been established, and it begs the question.]

I am sometimes accused of arrogant intolerance in my treatment of creationists. Of course arrogance is an unpleasant characteristic, and I should hate to be thought arrogant in a general way. But there are limits! To get some idea of what it is like being a professional student of evolution, asked to have a serious debate with creationists, the following comparison is a fair one. Imagine yourself a classical scholar who has spent a lifetime studying Roman history in all its rich detail. Now somebody comes along, with a degree in marine engineering or mediaeval musicology, and tries to argue that the Romans never existed. Wouldn't you find it hard to suppress your impatience? And mightn't it look a bit like arrogance? [Your point is well taken. However, your comparison is not. Romans surely existed, but the mechanism of creation itself of all life on earth can only be speculated and theorized about, not proven. Additionally, if I got into an argument with a student in my class, does that make the student automatically wrong? No. I should hope you would be given the same opportunity should you desire to debate theology.]

My third group, the "know-alls" (I unkindly name them that because I find their position patronising), think religion is good for people, perhaps good for society. Perhaps good because it consoles them in death or bereavement, perhaps because it provides a moral code. [You do not differentiate among different organised religious organisations and also people simply having faith. Is there no difference between the Taliban and the Mennonites? Such labeling is not good. Shall we blame all whites for the lynchings of the past, or any for that matter?]

Whether or not the actual beliefs of the religion are true doesn't matter. [To you.] Maybe there isn't a God; we educated people know there is precious little evidence for one, let alone for ideas such as the Virgin birth or the Resurrection. but the uneducated masses need a God to keep them out of mischief or to comfort them in bereavement. The little matter of God's probably non-existence can be brushed to one side in the interest of greater social good. I need say not more about the "know-alls" because they wouldn't claim to have anything to contribute to scientific truth. [If you had told we, the educated masses, that man would set foot on the moon, or fly through the air, or replace a severed limb with surgical techniques when Newton or Bacon or Hume were alive, they would have the same contempt for you that you appear to have for those with faith. And if I may be so bold, it sounds to me (and this is a personal opinion,) that you are prideful of your intellect. You cannot be wrong. I wonder if those scientists in the 17th century thought the same? Additionally, you state God's non existance as a matter of fact, in your fourth sentence. Frankly, I consider this question to be more important than all science, all social good combined. For if He does indeed exist, (and I grant you credit for qualifying this with your second sentence in this paragraph "maybe,") does this not put those who place faith in your arguments in peril? Finally, you contradict yourself. You state maybe there isn't a God, but then state that there is not. So which is it?]

*Is God a Superstring?*

I shall now return to the "no-contests". The argument they mount is certainly worth serious examination, but I think that we shall find it has little more merit than those of the other groups.

God is not an old man with a white beard in the sky. Right then, what is God? And now come the weasel words. these are very variable. "God is not out there, he is in all of us." God is the ground of all being." "God is the essence of life." "God is the universe." "Don't you believe in the universe?" "Of course I believe in the universe." "Then you believe in God." "God is love, don't you believe in love?" "Right, then you believe in God?" [I accede that pure science itself cannot prove or contend with mystical or metaphysical experience. It (faith) is, for the most part, subjective.]

Modern physicists sometimes wax a bit mystical when they contemplate questions such as why the big bang happened when it did, why the laws of physics are these laws and not those laws, why the universe exists at all, and so on. Sometimes physicists may resort to saying that there is an inner core of mystery that we don't understand, and perhaps never can; and they may then say that perhaps this inner core of mystery is another name for God. Or in Stephen Hawkings's words, if we understand these things, we shall perhaps "know the mind of God."

The trouble is that God in this sophisticated, physicist's sense bears no resemblance to the God of the Bible or any other religion. If a physicist says God is another name for Planck's constant, or God is a superstring, we should take it as a picturesque metaphorical way of saying that the nature of superstrings or the value of Planck's constant is a profound mystery. It has obviously not the smallest connection with a being capable of forgiving sins, a being who might listen to prayers, who cares about whether or not the Sabbath begins at 5pm or 6pm, whether you wear a veil or have a bit of arm showing; and no connection whatever with a being capable of imposing a death penalty on His son to expiate the sins of the world before and after he was born. [I agree with you on this one. However, you show your naivety here, theologically. Man looks at the outer appearance, God judges the heart. Question: Can you bring yourself to the point of considering just how little we know about the universe and ourselves? If we do know little, what are we missing? Just a thought.]

*The Fabulous Bible*

The same is true of attempts to identify the big bang of modern cosmology with the myth of Genesis. There is only an utterly trivial resemblance between the sophisticated conceptions of modern physics, and the creation myths of the Babylonians and the Jews that we have inherited. [And the ancient Babylonians and Jews had the epistomology and phylogeny and scientific understanding to be able to convey these events accurately without even the simple tools of a written language, or advanced mathematics to be able to describe them. You presume too much.]

What do the "no-contests" say about those parts of scripture and religious teaching that once-upon-a-time would have been unquestioned religious and scientific truths; the creation of the world the creation of life, the various miracles of the Old and New Testaments,, survival after death, the Virgin Birth? These stories have become, in the hands of the "no-contests", little more than moral fables, the equivalent of Aesop of Hans Anderson. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is irritating that they almost never admit this is what they are doing. [And you can prove that every event did not happen as related? I certainly can't prove that they did. And to be honest with you, this is what irritates me- your continuous lumping together of ideas and events that should be handled and argued separately. I concede, verily, that in many of my own arguments, I am placing the burden of proof on you. However, this does not exempt you from making verifiable, logical, and reasonable arguments.]

For instance, I recently heard the previous Chief Rabbi, Sir Immanuel Jacobovits, talking about the evils of racism. Racism is evil, and it deserves a better argument against it that the one he gave. Adam and Eve, he argued, were the ancestors of all human kind. Therefore, all human kind belongs to one race, the human race. [Sir, here I must protest. You do not even know the definition of the word "racism." What you refer to is bigotry, and there IS a difference. Know what your are talking about before you refer to it, lest you be found lacking!]

What are we going to make of an argument like that? The Chief Rabbi is an educated man, he obviously doesn't believe in Adam and Eve, so what exactly did he think he was saying? [Obviously? I see no such statement.]

He must have been using Adam and Eve as a fable, just as one might use the story of Jack the Giantkiller or Cinderella to illustrate some laudable moral homily.

I have the impression that clergymen are so used to treating the biblical stories as fables that they have forgotten the difference between fact and fiction. It's like the people who, when somebody dies on The Archers, write letters of condolence to the others. [Well, I certainly cannot find fault with any impression you may have of clergymen. Perhaps, ( and this is just my own thought) if you had spent more time *listening* (I mean here as a counselor would, to try to understand tham and perceive what not only what they are saying but what is behind what they are saying) to clergy that you do not prefer to hear, instead of dismissing them outright, you might have a different impression than the one you have.]

*Inheriting Religion*

As a Darwinian, something strikes me when I look at religion. Religion shows a pattern of heredity which I think is similar to genetic heredity. The vast majority of people have an allegiance to one particular religion. there are hundreds of different religious sects, and every religious person is loyal to just one of those.

Out of all of the sects in the world, we notice an uncanny coincidence: the overwhelming majority just happen to choose the one that their parents belong to. Not the sect that has the best evidence in its favour, the best miracles, the best moral code, the best cathedral, the best stained glass, the best music: when it comes to choosing from the smorgasbord of available religions, their potential virtues seem to count for nothing, compared to the matter of heredity.

This is an unmistakable fact; nobody could seriously deny it. Yet people with full knowledge of the arbitrary nature of this heredity, somehow manage to go on believing in their religion, often with such fanaticism that they are prepared to murder people who follow a different one.

Truths about the cosmos are true all around the universe. They don't differ in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Poland, or Norway. Yet, we are apparently prepared to accept that the religion we adopt is a matter of an accident of geography.

If you ask people why they are convinced of the truth of their religion, they don't appeal to heredity. Put like that it sounds too obviously stupid. Nor do they appeal to evidence. There isn't any, and nowadays the better educated admit it. No, they appeal to faith. Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence. The worst thing is that the rest of us are supposed to respect it: to treat it with kid gloves. [I see your point here, and it is well taken. To question faith is a good thing. "Why do I believe?" The answer is always subjective, because science does not apply well to matters regarding spirituality. Put on it's head, I turn the question back to you: Is absence of evidence evidence of absence? If a civil war battle occured outside my house in 1863, and I went out to look for bullets, guns, pieces of leather, but found none, should I then say, "No battle took place here?"]

If a slaughterman doesn't comply with the law in respect of cruelty to animals, he is rightly prosecuted and punished. but if he complains that his cruel practices are necessitated by religious faith, we back off apologetically and allow him to get on with it. Any other position that someone takes up can expect to be defended with reasoned argument. Faith is allowed not to justify itself by argument. Faith must be respected; and if you don't respect it, you are accused of violating human rights. [Have you considered that the faith of Secular Humanism now trumps the faith of the corporate community at every high school football game in America- in such situations, consider- who is violating whom?]

Even those with no faith have been brainwashed into respecting the faith of others. When so-called Muslim community leaders go on the radio and advocate the killing of Salman Rushdie, they are clearly committing incitement to murder--a crime for which they would ordinarily be prosecuted and possibly imprisoned. But are they arrested? They are not, because our secular society "respects" their faith, and sympathises with the deep "hurt" and "insult" to it. [This is political correctness, not respect for faith. A Muslim is allowed to place a display for Ramadan in the school library for the purposes of "inclusiveness and diversity." What happens when someone wants to put up a Christmas display? You already know the answer. "We don't want to OFFEND anyone." http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewCulture.asp?Page=/Culture/archive/200707/CUL20070710c.html]

Well I don't. I will respect your views if you can justify them. but if you justify your views only by saying you have faith in them, I shall not respect them. [I don't care whether you respect my views. I question your logic.]

Improbabilities

I want to end by returning to science. It is often said, mainly by the "no-contests", that although there is no positive evidence for the existence of God, nor is there evidence against his existence. So it is best to keep an open mind and be agnostic.

At first sight that seems an unassailable position, at least in the weak sense of Pascal's wager. But on second thoughts it seems a cop-out, because the same could be said of Father Christmas and tooth fairies. There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can't prove that there aren't any, so shouldn't we be agnostic with respect to fairies?

The trouble with the agnostic argument is that it can be applied to anything. There is an infinite number of hypothetical beliefs we could hold which we can't positively disprove. On the whole, people don't believe in most of them, such as fairies, unicorns, dragons, Father Christmas, and so on. But on the whole they do believe in a creator God, together with whatever particular baggage goes with the religion of their parents. [Therefore, since we cannot disprove God, and we cannot prove God (with our 5 senses, objectively,) we should all be purely atheistic. There was a family once, who owned a dog. They moved thousands of miles away to the other side of the continent. This family loved their dog, and the dog loved his family. How can this dog travel over a thousand miles to rejoin his family without knowing where to go? The answer is, there is a spiritual component to life, I believe, and it is this spiritual component that can connect with God. The fact is that the dog and his family were reunited. I personally find that faith in only objective truth to be lacking, that other forms of truth are valid.]

I suspect the reason is that most people, though not belonging to the "know-nothing" party, nevertheless have a residue of feeling that Darwinian evolution isn't quite big enough to explain everything about life. All I can say as a biologist is that the feeling disappears progressively the more you read about and study what is known about life and evolution.

I want to add one thing more. The more you understand the significance of evolution, the more you are pushed away from the agnostic position and towards atheism. Complex, statistically improbable things are by their nature more difficult to explain than simple, statistically probable things. [If we cannot understand them, they are not true? This is the argument you are making. I cannot see the curvature of the Earth, therefore the Earth is flat. I call this another word- foolishness!]

The great beauty of Darwin's theory of evolution is that it explains how complex, difficult to understand things could have arisen step by plausible step, from simple, easy to understand beginnings. We start our explanation from almost infinitely simple beginnings: pure hydrogen and a huge amount of energy. Our scientific, Darwinian explanations carry us through a series of well-understood gradual steps to all the spectacular beauty and complexity of life.

The alternative hypothesis, that it was all started by a supernatural creator, is not only superfluous, it is also highly improbable. It falls foul of the very argument that was originally put forward in its favour. This is because any God worthy of the name must have been a being of colossal intelligence, a supermind, an entity of extremely low probability--a very improbable being indeed. [As improbable as a dog finding his family thousands of miles away?]

Even if the postulation of such an entity explained anything (and we [You mean, "I"] don't need it to), it still wouldn't help because it raises a bigger mystery than it solves.

Science offers us an explanation of how complexity (the difficult) arose out of simplicity (the easy). The hypothesis of God offers no worthwhile explanation for anything, for it simply postulates what we are trying to explain. It postulates the difficult to explain, and leaves it at that. We cannot prove that there is no God, but we can safely conclude the He is very, very improbable indeed. [Therefore, if you will forgive me, science is your faith, and mankind is your God, for he then is the highest created being in existence. Let's call it like it is.]

[Consequently, science by itself is a limited resource for originating an entire world view. God is Spirit, and those who seek Him must seek Him in spirit and in truth. Ignoring the spiritual aspect of man does not make it magically dissappear, nor does it refute it's existence. I do agree with Mr. Dawkins on one point: when one studies science alone in the absence of spiritual insight (faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God), it does indeed cause a "draining" of what faith one has. I believe this is spiritually derived from the enemy of mankind. May God protect us, and let us ever be humble to His truth.

True science is not prideful, elevating itself in its own view of intellectualism. It does not demand the non-existence of God due to "statistical improbabilities." Rather, it embraces truth, and humbles itself before the Author of all truth and life.]

This was a lecture by Richard Dawkins extracted from The Nullifidian (Dec 94)

http://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk/dawkins/WorldOfDawkins-archive/Dawkins/Work/Articles/1994-12religion.shtml

Friday, July 27, 2007

The World is Going to End!


Astronauts: Drinking and flying and space shuttles....
Dorothy: oh my...
Astronauts: Drinking and Flying and Space Shuttles....
Dorothy: Oh My...
Astronauts: Drinking and Flying and Space Shuttles!
Dorothy: Oh My!
Astronauts: DRINKING AND FLYING AND SPACE SHUTTLES!
Dorothy: OH MY!
Astronauts: DWINKIN AN FLY INAN SPASH SHULLS!
Dorothy: OH MY!
Astronauts: DWINKN AN AN AN FLYYIN AN.... SPASHULS!!!
Dorothy: OH MY!!!

Astronaut: HEY LOOK ITS THE (hic) ITS TH MIR ! LETS SHOW TH COMMIES HOW TO PARALLEL PARK....

Oops.... BOOM!!!

Give me a break, please. Dorothy here, in my recreation from the forest scene from the Wizard of Oz, represents the politically correct media who are whipped up into a frenzy over the possibility over 2 astronauts since 1969 that have possibly had some alcohol in their blood. The headline on the news today stated "NASA Let Astronauts Fly Drunk." Oh, the humanity! Frankly, if I had to sit on a million tons of explosives, I would probably want a drink or two myself. By the way, I don't drink.

Now Nasa is forming panels and committees to "discuss" the infractions and make "safety reviews" for their "internal policies." I have a better idea. How about using common freakin sense?

The astronauts face the same situation that *all* of us face in our careers; namely, its unprofessional to show up to work drunk. Any job, any where (unless you are a Hollywood Celeb or part of the Kennedy family, then you get a pass.) Fire them, ground them, do whatever. Don't act like its an unpardonable sin to offend someone with your actions. Jesus offended the Pharisees when they judged both he and John the Baptist. Luke 7:33 “For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ 34 “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’

I would be first to say it's a good thing to uphold the drunk driving laws in this country. Innocents get hurt, crippled or killed. What exactly are you going to run into in space? Not the that astronauts actually *drive* the vehicle- its fully automated- they just look at the instruments. It would be poetic justice, in my own opinion, if the space shuttle were to run into a UFO, causing the UFO to crash into the ground.

Let them explain THAT one away.

The bastads.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

For Nerds Only: Star Trek Vs. Star Wars

When I saw this, I knew I had to link it. An outstanding job of video editing by Dan and Dale Kocevski, this video is a 10 minute production of a fictional encounter between the Star Trek and Star Wars universes. You will need a high speed internet connection. Click the link, and enjoy.


Do You Have an Answer? Part 2


Hebrews 11:1

King James: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

New American Standard Version: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

English Revised Version: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the proving of things not seen.

2 Corinthians 4:18

King James: While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

In my first discussion with Ken, I approached things from a logical point of view, discussing the reality of the existance of God, and how the spirit of living things exists, but is not something that science can address. Here, in my latest discussion with him, I wanted to address the idea of faith (by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast, Ephesians 2:8) Intellectual discussion is one thing, it is through faith that we are able to seek God, know Him, and to know His love.

The discussion has been edited in some parts for grammar and spelling. Additionally, I have re-arranged the order in which responses occur for better comprehension. Additional comments have been made by me in parentheses.

[20:59] You: You told me before that your beliefs were different.
[21:00] Ken: Indeed.
[21:00] You: Tell me about them.
[21:00] Ken: Well...
[21:00] Ken: Mostly, I believe that the individual defines good and evil for themselves, that the majority doesn't rule.
[21:01] Ken: Basically, that a person will not go to hell if they break someone else's rule. Only breaking thier own morals can do that.
[21:02] Ken: And that, logically, from my current perspective, the human being isn't capable of doing evil acts.
[21:02] You: So I am a Christian and I sin.
[21:02] You: Does that mean I will go to hell?
[21:02] Ken: Because if a person thinks something is evil, they simply wouldn't do it.
[21:03] Ken: Nope. Not unless you believe sincerely that it is a terrible thing to do, have absolutely no justification, and don't feel guilt for it.
[21:03] You: What about those jerks who flew the planes into the twin towers? They sincerely believed in what they were doing.
[21:03] You: (Which is kind of scary.)
[21:04] Ken: Indeed. So, in the eyes of them, they were doing the right thing, making it impossible for such actions to be completely evil.
[21:04] You: Thats kind of a slippery slope.
[21:04] Ken: Yep.
[21:04] You: It's called situational ethics, and that's what Scientologists believe, to a certain extent
[21:05] You: and secular humanists as well.

(I refer here to one of the tenets of Scientology, "What's true for you is true for you." EXCEPT, of course, when what is true for the individual does not agree with the church of Scientology. In that case, what is true for you is most definitely *not* true!!! )

[21:05] Ken: Hmmm. I agree...
[21:06] You: When we spoke before, I gave you reasoning from a logical viewpoint
[21:06] Ken: Indeed you did. I guess I'm just tired. Let me think...
[21:06] You: as a teacher of science.
[21:06] You: However, here's the thing:
[21:06] Ken: Yes?
[21:06] You: The way one gets into heaven is *NOT* by being good or bad !
[21:07] Ken: Of course...
[21:07] You: The thief on the cross next to Christ,
[21:07] You: he said "Remember me lord, when you come into your kingdom,"
[21:07] You: and for that simple act of faith, Jesus said today you will be with me in paradise.
[21:07] You: Faith is a heart thing, not a mind thing
[21:08] You: It takes a leap of the heart to say, Jesus, I believe in you.
[21:08] You: Come into me and make me anew.
[21:09] You: Faith is a relationship thing (not a matter of intellect.)
[21:09] You: For God is spirit (remember we talked about spirit, like the dog who found his family) and those who seek God must seek Him in spirit and in truth.
[21:09] Ken: Indeed it does. Though I must ask, what of those that do not have the leap of heart to do so? Or those without knowledge of Jesus? Do they suffer for ignorance?
[21:10] You: I do not believe so,
[21:10] You: although some do.
[21:10] Ken: One sec. I'd like to clarify that I believe in God.
[21:10] Ken: Though perhaps slightly differently.
[21:10] You: The demons believe in God, and they tremble.
[21:10] You: Do you remember that book, the one I mentioned?
[21:10] Ken: Yes. By Howard K. Storm.
[21:11] You: Yes, anyhow, this gentleman found himself lost and alone, after death.
[21:11] You: And he was being called
[21:11] You: by some person that he could not identify.
[21:11] You: As he followed him,
[21:12] You: he began to be attacked by creatures in the darkness.
[21:12] You: Even though he was an atheist, he recalled his youth,
[21:12] You: and he called out to Jesus.
[21:12] Ken: And if he hadn't?
[21:12] You: That made these creatures VERY angry,
[21:13] Ken: Finish first though.
[21:13] You: But they began to back away from him.
[21:13] You: Ok.
[21:13] You: So eventually, he saw this little light in the distance,
[21:13] Ken: So they were frightened by Jesus' name or presence.
[21:13] You: according to him
[21:13] You: and the light was coming for him,
[21:14] You: and the next thing he knew, he was in Jesus' presence
[21:14] You: So he was asking alot of the same questions that you have asked.
[21:14] You: One of them was, who has it right? The Protestants? The Jews? The Muslims?
[21:15] You: (his question was, what is the right way to God?)
[21:14] You: and Jesus answered him,

(Here is where I take a small break from the conversation, dear reader. It would be anticlimactic to tell you what Jesus said to this man during his near death experience. I will, however, relate Ken's reaction to what Jesus said.)

[21:15] Ken: Now that is a wondeful answer.
[21:16] Ken: *wonderfil
[21:16] Ken: **wonderful
[21:16] You: Yes !
[21:16] You: Thats just the way he talked in the New Testament.
[21:16] You: Baffling scribes and pharisees.
[21:16] Ken: Yepp.
[21:16] You: Thats why I think you would find truth there, (as well as in scripture.)
[21:16] You: Storm later in his life became a priest.
[21:16] Ken: Yepp. I don't see a specific set of rules to getting into heaven.
[21:16] Ken: Well...
[21:17] You: Well, I think the bottom line is its by FAITH.
[21:17] You: Believing in one's heart (that Jesus died on our behalf,)
[21:17] You: seeking God
[21:17] You: and trying to know and understand,
[21:17] You: not mans rules,
[21:17] You: but His Spirit.
[21:18] Ken: Hm. I do not seek god. Mostly because I think he has more meaning unfound.
[21:18] You: I encourage you to do so.
[21:18] Ken: Why would you say that?
[21:18] You: At the very least, get that book
[21:18] You: because it is like you said,
[21:19] You: the pursuit of seeking that which is not known is something that is worthwhile.
[21:19] Ken: I'll get some cashola and grab that book, though I'd like to wait a bit. Need to put time and money in other things.
[21:19] You: And in this case, it involves our very selves.
[21:19] You: Ken, its 5 bucks
[21:19] Ken: Hehehe.
[21:19] You: on amazon.com
[21:20] Ken: Okay okay. I'll get it.
[21:20] Ken: AFK
[21:20] You: okay
[21:20] Ken: Ugh.
[21:20] Ken: How annoying.
[21:20] Ken: 1 second...
[21:20] Ken: AFK
[21:22] Ken: There. Good? Oh, and it was actually 15 here.
[21:22] Ken: Not sure why.
[21:22] You: Did you get a new copy or a used one?
[21:22] Ken: New.
[21:22] Ken: Heh.
[21:22] You: Ah, thats why.
[21:23] Ken: Yepp. Plus "our" money isn't as good as the most common.
[21:23] Ken: Or so it appears.

(He refers here to the Canadian dollar.)

[21:23] You: keep an open mind with it; I think you will find many answers that (are acceptable) there,
[21:23] You: or make more sense than some answers you will find elsewhere.
[21:23] Ken: Hehe. I've always thought of Jesus as a guy who'd never really 'tell' you anything. He'd just mess with you a bit.
[21:24] You: Jesus was incredibly insightful.
[21:24] Ken: Of course though, I never thought of the persona of Jesus to be the actual son of god.

(Here I address Ken's thought.)

[21:24] You: There's a story I just heard today,
[21:24] You: of a young boy who was- oh whats the word?
[21:25] Ken: continue...
[21:25] You: he was (whats it called when you live in your own world?)

(Here we continue the conversation, I had difficulty remembering the word, "autism," and we went back and forth trying to recall.)

[21:26] You: The whole thing- you don't respond to whats going on around you-
[21:26] You: you never look people in the eye.
[21:26] Ken: Have conversations with people that aren't there? Or just oblivious to surroundings?
[21:27] You: Oblivious.
[21:27] You: It's something that is extremely rare to recover from.
[21:27] You: Anyhow,
[21:28] You: this family started praying, asking God and Jesus to have mercy on their child,
[21:28] You: who was now 10 years old.
[21:28] You: And he was completely delivered and healed!
[21:28] You: The doctors were astounded.
[21:28] You: This happened in Holland in 1995.
[21:29] Ken: Which makes the boy... 23?
[21:29] You: Jesus has power to heal, (for he was and is the son of God.) He healed people in front of many witnesses.
[21:29] You: Yes about that age.
[21:29] Ken: Hm.
[21:29] Ken: Interesting.
[21:30] You: Thats why the pharisees knew they could not say to him, "You did not heal these people" so instead,
[21:30] You: they said, you healed them through the devil.
[21:30] You: Jesus turned (their arguments) back on them.
[21:30] You: And THAT'S only one of the reasons they wanted him killed.
[21:31] You: They made a big show of how devoted to God they were.
[21:31] You: He put the pharisees in their place because they accused him, not even realizing that it was God that was healing these people
[21:32] You: and because they hated him, they could not even see that.
[21:32] Ken: Hm.
[21:32] You: Jesus saw right through them.

(Here, there is a misunderstanding of words, which I have omitted. Ken thought I was saying that Jesus caused the pharisees to become sickened. I clarified, stating that he turned their words back on them, not the illnesses.)

[21:34] You: He said how can Satan be divided against Satan? If a kingdom is divided, it cannot stand.
[21:34] You: He made them to look like fools in front of the people.

(This is poorly stated by me. Actually, Jesus revealed that these highly religious leaders either did not understand spiritual concepts, or were so overtaken in their zeal to accuse Jesus that they ignored them.)

[21:35] Ken: Well, he didn't. They did.
[21:35] Ken: They made themselves look like fools.
[21:35] You: Yes, many would not have the courage to stand up to the pharisees- they weilded real power.
[21:36] You: It would be like standing up to the roman catholic church in the 1300's.
[21:36] You: All kinds of bad things could happen to you.
[21:36] Ken: Heh. And we all know how well THAT went.
[21:36] Ken: "She's a witch!"
[21:36] You: Very true!
[21:37] You: Well, it is getting late
[21:37] You: and I must camp.
[21:37] Ken: Indeed. Well, have a good sleep.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Cruise as Nazi: How Dare They Insult the Nazi's This Way?


Cruise will not be stopped in his efforts to portray the Nazi official who attempted to assasinate Hitler during World War II. The real life hero's son refused to have any part with the production when he discovered Cruise would be playing the role of his father. The German government refused to allow the production company access to historic sites. So for now, filming has started at a large private studio.

The Nazis killed over 6 million people during the war. They never stated that a cult group which uses a form of hypnosis on its members is compatible with Christianity, however. They also never used deception in order to recruit unknowing innocents; preferring instead the business end of a gun to fill conscription quotas.

Scientologists' top spokesman as a Nazi. Perhaps the comparison is apt, but I think the insult is to the Nazi's.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Badgers Badgering Iraqis


[Above- Bill Murray as "Carl the Groundskeeper" Spackler from the movie, Caddyshack.]

The Iraqi port city of Bazra seems to be having problems with giant badgers. Here's the link to the story http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,22056684-5001028,00.html When I think of varmint hunting, I know of no more determined a soul than Carl the groundskeeper (yes, I know- he hunted gophers- big difference.) Perhaps we could send Carl the groundskeeper to Iraq. While hunting down rodents, he could also take care of the insurgency single handed. Here are some quotes and a video of Carl the groundskeeper to show you how effective he would be.

  • In the immortal words of Jean Paul Sartre, 'Au revoir, gopher'.
  • He's on his final hole. He's about 455 yards away, he's gonna hit about a 2 iron I think. Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac... It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!
  • License to kill gophers by the government of the United Nations. Man, free to kill gophers at will. To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit - ever. They're like the Viet Cong - Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower. And that's all she wrote.

Monday, July 9, 2007

A Letter From Dad


On my 13th birthday, I received a letter from my dad that speaks... volumes. Reading it will tell you what kind of person my dad was and is, and to some extent, what kind of person I am. The ideas that were expressed were appropriate then and touch on such relevant and befitting concepts as peer pressure, the difficulties of puberty and the idea of examining ones own thoughts and motivations.


To Glenn on his 13th Birthday, 6/12/75

Happy Birthday!!!! Here I am on a plane to Chicago writing you a letter! Bet you never thought you would get a letter from me!

Hey, you're a teenager: a fantastic time of your life that brings you from boyhood to manhood. Glenn Dale, my dad, let me live my teenage years as a fun time that you enjoyed in adult life more, because when you looked back on these years, it made you younger in spirit, in thought and in understanding.

Glenn, this is a time you are going to be changing. Changing in physique, voice, mannerisms, thinking and many other ways. You will be changing in a world that is contantly changing as well. You will see great strides in all sciences, medicine and technology.

You will challenge (life's issues) and be challenged in these years. There will be pressures around you to go with the crowd, to be "in" with the group and all the other "together" things that make "civilized" man live in cities together instead of on farms by themselves.

Into the world you are now stepping, I ask of you only what my dad asked of me- Be your own man! Do not be afraid to make a decision but be man enough to accept the responsibility of your decision. Have an opinion, but have a reason for the way you think and why you have arrived at the conclusion that you support. Question everything, get the facts, find the answers. Keep an open mind. Be positive in your approach to life and the many encounters you have with others along the way.

Set high goals for yourself and live up to these goals. Respect life and live it fully. Respect others, but don't humble (or compromise) yourself for them.

When you have children, try to understand them better than I understand you, teach them better than I have taught you, and challenge them better than I have challenged you. But above all, love them as much as I love you.

Happy Birthday, teenager.

Dad

Even though I never married or had kids of my own, I should hope that I have done my best to understand, teach and challenge the students that have been placed in my care over the years. It is my hope that in the process of doing so, that they might see a small part of God's love through me.

Thank you dad, for understanding, teaching, challenging and loving me.

Glenn

Friday, July 6, 2007

Origins


[Inset- I am in the two tone jacket on the left; Lee Becknell leads us in song. Do Lord, oh do Lord, oh do remember me; look away beyond the blue. This picture was taken in my junior year at Ridgeview High School.]

It was a defining moment in my life, one that I shall not forget. For here, in a unadorned, wooden building (no drywalls!) which was owned by a local scout troop, on Liberty Guinn Drive in Sandy Springs, I heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and made a leap of faith, inviting Jesus into my heart and believing that He died for me. My life has never been the same.

That was when I was 16 years old, almost 30 years ago. I went back there after my college years, to look around. The old scout hut where we used to meet, and where I hung out with high school friends (many of which went to rival schools) was gone, replaced by apartment buildings. It was a trend that would continue. The horse pastures next to Perimeter Mall, the freindly neighborhoods next to Guy Webb Elementary- gone forever, a sacrifice to business expansion, but the precious memories are still there within the special places of my heart. Just like this old photograph, they become grey and faded with the passage of time, but remain a part of me.

Lee Becknell was the lead youth minister for a program called Ranch. He was young himself, only 21 or 22 at the time, but he took time out from his schedule to hang out with lowly high schoolers, an investment for which I shall be eternally grateful. He was the son of a local minister, Bob Becknell, of Calvary Baptist Church, Dunwoody Georgia (not the large church, a somewhat small one). At Ranch we played volleyball, had special all-you-can-eat pizza nights, hamburger and hot dog cookouts, and hung out and socialized. It was here that I met people like Eric King, Bruce Dennis, Brannon Becknell, Wesley and Weldon Smith, Laura Vansant, Vernon Terrell, Mike Edwards, and Dan F., who were a blessing to me in my adolescence. I continue to stay in contact with Dan after all these years, and his love for Jesus and prayerful support for me has not waned.

My point behind this biographical story is that one can never tell from planting a spiritual seed what will come of it. Some folks grow and thrive spiritually; others soon wither and dry up, forgetting their spiritual life in pursuit of more immediate physical, materialistic goals. Others are like me, who grow in spurts, being hindered by issues which seem beyond our control. To Lee, and to Pastor Bob, and to all the others who were there, I just wanted to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Glenn Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian