Monday, March 31, 2008

H2O - "The Equalizer"

Water, H2O...two Hydrogen atoms bonded to one Oxygen atom. It's all around us. It's in us - about 60% of our body weight is made up of water. We drink it, consume it as part of the food we eat, we play in it, we use it to get around, we breathe it as water vapor.

It's life - without it there is death - with it there can be life.

The properties of water are somewhat unusual, the solid state of water (what we refer to as ice) is not as dense at the liquid state. That is somewhat unusual, but without that little natural oddity ponds, lakes, oceans and all bodies of water would be devoid of life once the temperature dipped below it's freezing point.

We call water a "universal solvent" - it holds many things that we need to live.

71% of the surface of Earth is covered in water - we live on a small portion of the remaning 29%.

Water is important - water is life.

I thought about some of this last week as I watched two men step into a pool of water we call a "baptistry". I watched as a man about 5 foot 8 inches dunked another man about 1 foot taller and much heavier than he. If the smaller man had to pick up the larger one off the floor outside of the baptistry using just his right hand (like he did in the baptistry) there is no way it would have happened. He would have thrown his back out, and the larger man would have fallen back and cracked his head on the floor.

But water is special.

If you're not convinced then just think about how God has used water.
- He used it once to destroy all but a handful of people and a bunch of animals in the world.
- He used it to bury the Egyptian soldiers chasing his chosen people in the Red Sea.
- He used it to make a point for Jesus' first miracle, turning ordinary water to wine.

He used it to allow us to share in Christ's death, burial and resurrection. He could have asked us to do some other sort of series of tasks that would have "looked" more like what had actually happened...He used water. Cleansing, healing water.

And...he made us bouyant so that a 5'8" man could baptize a man more than a foot taller than him and a lot heavier. God made water special and He wants all of us to pass through it before we're done on this earth. Every person...people we will never see or meet, bankers, lawyers, salesmen, mothers, fathers, basket makers, messengers, CEOs, rich, poor, young, old, free, slave, murderers, tax evaders, democrats, republicans, men, women...everyone.

Water is "The Equalizer"...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Ultimate Lord of the Rings Trivia Question

We found another, so now here is the full question and it's answer:
3/31/08 - I found another!

There are 9 actors/actresses in the LOTR Trilogy that have ties in 12 other "blockbusting" trilogies - who are they, what are the other trilogies (or more) and their roles?

Hugo Weaving (Elrond) LOTR & The Matrix (Mr. Smith)

Orlando Bloom (Legolas) LOTR & Pirates of the Carribean (Will Turner)

Ian McKellan (Gandalf) LOTR & X-Men (Eric Lehnsherr / Magneto)

John Rhys-Davies (Gimli and Treebeard) LOTR & Indiana Jones (Sallah)
** He didn't appear in "The Temple of Doom"

Christopher Lee (Saruman) LOTR & Star Wars (Count Duki / Darth Tyranus)
*** Star Wars II & III (I consider them 2 separate trilogies) - check LOTR:Return of the King EXTENDED version (to consider him in all 3)

Ian Holm (Bilbo) LOTR & the Alien Quadrilogy (Ash)
*** LOTR 1 & 3; Bilbo did not appear in "Two Towers" - He was only in "Alien", the first of the "Quadrilogy". Also interesting, is that Ian played in "Alien" with John Hurt who had just played Aragorn in the first "Lord of the Rings" movie in 1978.

Karl Urban (Eomer) LOTR & The Riddick Trilogy (Vaako) & The Bourne Trilogy (Kirill)
**** If we include Bilbo, we have to include Eomer. LOTR 2 & 3 (Eomer did not appear in "Fellowship of the Ring") - He was in "The Chronicles of Riddick" which is just barely a "trilogy" because there are 2 live action movies (including "Pitch Black") and a third amime movie that sits (chronologically) between the two.

***** He was also in "The Bourne Supremacy" which (at this point) is a trilogy. (thanks for the help on this one).

Cate Blanchett (Galadriel) LOTR & Indiana Jones (Agent Irina Spalko)
****** OK, this is gettin crazy - Cate is in all three LOTR movies and she is in the new Indiana Jones movie "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"

Brad Dourif (Grima Wormtounge) LOTR & Alien Quadrilogy (Dr. Jonathan Gediman) & Child's Play (Charles Lee Ray/Chucky) & The Exorcist (James Veranum)
******* OK, stay with me...
Brad is a busy guy... He is in the last two LOTR movies (extended versions), Alien Resurrection, All three "Child's Play" moves and The Exorcist

“Much ado about Nothing” (Circular Reasoning III)

I just finished (well sort of) a book called "The Book of Nothing" - I say that I finished it, but I gave up on the last chapter.

It was interesting at first, then it just became a solid noise of blah, blah, blah... I love science and I have a passing interest in mathematics - this book is an exploration, of sorts, into the concept of nothing - zero.

It turns out that in the big picture of human existence on earth the concept of zero is very new. In fact, a few hundred years ago it was considered heretical to propose the idea of nothing of a vacuum. Another thing I learned from this book is that as little as 100 years or so ago, we thought that space was filled with something called "ether". It's amazing how far we've come in our understanding of God's universe in the last 100 years or so.

Barrow, the guy that wrote the book acts like a guy that knows way too much for his own good. The fact of the matter is, for all of the words in his book, he just doesn't get it. I feel bad for scientists that continually look for answers to existence in the "laws of nature". They conjecture what cannot be seen from what they can see.

I'm used to this, I've heard it all of my life, but one good thing about this book is that it allowed me to see inside the mind of just such a scientist. It gives a good look at how someone tries to take God out of the world. It goes back to something I've discussed before that we all do - "Circular Reasoning".

However, this guy takes it to the Nth degree... The reason I finally had to put the book down was because he was 5 or 6 circles into his reasoning and it was just nonsense. The last few chapters of the book are filled with conjectures based on the statements he made in the first half of the book. I believe that you can convince yourself of anything if you spin yourself in enough circles.

As far as I can tell, it comes down to this. There is a force in the universe they are calling the Lambda factor. The Lambda factor was something that Einstein postulated but later refuted. Cutting through pages and pages of droning about vacuums, cosmology and quantum physics, the bottom line is that any time these scientists can't make the numbers match up they pour the difference into the Lambda factor. The Lambda factor, in a nutshell, is a force that cannot be calculated, seen or measured but affects matter, gravity and energy in some fashion. They believe that it's there, but they can't say what it is (exactly), how much there is or how much it affects the other things they can see.

I appreciate a good, healthy curiosity about our surroundings - many, many great things have been discovered because of that curiosity. However, when you look at the facts -over and over and over again over the course of decades and centuries - and still take what you don't know and turn it into something that you are sure you just missed or cannot find yet or cannot be explained then it's not science anymore - it's agenda.

I expected an objective discussion on the facts instead heard a long lesson on circular reasoning. It reminds me of…

Bedevere: Quiet, quiet, quiet, QUIET! There are ways of "telling" whether she is a witch!
Villagers: Are there? What? Tell us, then! Tell us!
Bedevere: Tell me. What do you do with witches?
Bedevere: And what do you burn apart from witches?
Villager: More Witches!
Other Villager: Wood.
Bedevere: So. Why do witches burn?

Villager: Because they're made of.....wood?
Bedevere: Goooood!
Other Villagers: oh yeah... oh....
Bedevere: So. How do we tell whether she is made of wood?
One Villager: Build a bridge out of 'er!
Bedevere: Aah. But can you not also make bridges out of stone?
Villagers: oh yeah. oh. umm...
Bedevere: Does wood sink in water?
One Villager: No! No, no, it floats!
Other Villager: Throw her into the pond!
Villagers: yaaaaaa!

Bedevere: What also floats in water?
Villager: Bread!
Another Villager: Apples!
Another Villager: Uh...very small rocks!
Another Villager: Cider!
Another Villager: Uh...great gravy!
Another Villager: Cherries!
Another Villager: Mud!
Another Villager: Churches! Churches!
Another Villager: Lead! Lead!
King Arthur: A Duck!
Villagers: (in amazement) ooooooh!
Bedevere: EXACTLY!
Bedevere: So, "logically"...
Villager: If...she...weighs the same as a duck......she's made of wood.
Bedevere: and therefore...

Villager: A Witch!
All Villagers: A WITCH!

Monday, March 10, 2008

“Love ‘Em Anyway…”

Sometimes you just have to love people anyway – regardless of what they are doing or what they are saying.

What do you do when confronted with a terrible, completely fallible statement from someone that you believe "knows better"? From a mature, knowledgeable, stable "elder" – the kind of person you typically look to in times of confusion. I'm a firm believer in giving those around me the benefit of a doubt as we go about our lives around each other. Not a one of us is perfect, especially me, so why would I expect it from anyone else?

One of my favorite shows is "Dharma and Greg". That might seem strange to you, but I love Dharma's character – yeah, if I met "Dharma" in real life, I would probably think she was really weird. There are so many things about her character that people are drawn toward. In one episode, a greedy real estate lawyer is trying to squeeze her parents into selling their home so he can build a golf course on it. Greg knows the guy and describes him as a "snake" - Dharma disagrees even once she has met him and his wife. They ARE pathetic – a cliché about money, greed and all the trappings of the world. After she meets them for the first time, the first thing she says is "I feel so sorry for them…" – Greg can't believe it and she points out that there is good in them, even if they don't see it.

As I have said before, one of my most favorite accounts in the Bible is when Christ meets the woman at the well. She is low – an unwanted person in her community. Christ sees through all of the muck and garbage tied to her and sees her heart and speaks to her heart and she responds. Here is an ultimate example of how to look at others from our God, a man that walked this earth and felt our pain and looked deep into those around Him.

When I read the account of Jesus' encounter with the woman at the well, it's sensational, it's wonderful and once you know the whole story about who she is and who He is, it all makes sense. I think that it can be easy (…er) to reference that account when I encounter people similar to the woman at the well. We normally have compassion for those of low or (seemingly) no fortune. Our hearts easily break when we see someone that has fallen on hard times and they are not dealing with it well. We want to help them; we may be less inclined to "judge" them harshly because of the extreme nature of the situation.

But what do we do when someone that "knows better" says something really, really irrational?

It's harder to feel compassion, to look past that statement or action and remember all of the good in them. When another Christian says something that just knocks you off your feet or tendency is to attack, to smother the person with reprimand and correction. In some situations, that may be necessary…however, sometimes I think it's just better to move on. Remember all of the great things that person has done in the name of The Lord, how tirelessly that person has worked, how much given – sacrificed.

Sometimes we just have to let it go and just love them anyway…

"...Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:7-18