Monday, November 19, 2007


I don't understand women.

I think this is generally true of men in general, but I'm beginning to really understand that I don't understand.

I like understanding things. I've spent my academic career in taking really really complicated things and making them stupidly simple. You can do this with water treatment, rain runoff, soil foundations, beams... whatever. You can't do this with women.

As an engineer, it's unbelievably frustrating. As a man, it's incomparably exciting. This privilege of discovering Woman is one that will never end. There is no answer, only a continuing journey to better understand and know the beautiful complication.

Maybe God feels the same way about His Church. I'm sure we don't make much sense most of the time, but He loves us as we are.

All higher knowledge in her presence falls
Degraded, Wisdom in discourse with her
Looses discount'nanc't, and like folly shewes;
Authority and Reason on her waite,

-Milton - Paradise Lost (Book V lines 551-554)
The adventure to understand and know Woman is great; it is a noble quest that demands the best of Man. With so little of manliness left today, it is no wonder why so few undertake it with the courage and dignity that it deserves.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I went home this weekend and heard my old pastor speak. He talked how our culture is shifting from rigorous and linear Greek-style thinking to a more relational and mosaic postmodern thinking. This new culture is one that appreciates stories much more than we used to. His sermon for 11/10 should be posted soon.

I think I agree. I've been corresponding with a Buddhist and this perspective has greatly helped. In general, people no longer want a rational argument so much as a good story. They don't want to think, they want to feel. They don't want doctrines, they want relationships.

Obviously we cannot compromise the integrity of the Gospel, but the things people want now and aren't getting, are the things Jesus focused on. For a long time, perhaps subliminally, I placed an overly high value on rational apologetics. In evangelism, I forgot how Jesus related most of the time with most people.

Jesus has a very different style. He tells ten parables for every straightforward thing He says. The Bible itself has only a tiny little linear section at the end written by one Greek-ey Jew named Paul. The vast majority of the rest is narrative.

Telling stories is a lot easier than making an argument. In retrospect, it seems nonchristians are a lot more willing to hear a story than they are to bear through an argument (there are clearly exceptions, though).

Stories are built into our DNA. We all know a good story and love to hear them. We spend billions of dollars on movies, novels and performing arts. From the Homer to Shakespeare, storytellers have always had a special place in our hearts.

My friend, a screenplay writer, informed me that all movies have the same structure. Aristotle defined the structure a long time ago, and it's just the way stories are told.

I wrote to my friend earlier today about the beautiful sacrifice Abraham (would have) made of his son and I described how great a story it is. I finally realized it: God loves a great story. We are made in His image, and so we love great stories, too. Our love of narrative is in our nature.

So God has written the greatest 5-act play of all.

  • Exposition - Creation and the Fall (Genesis) - God creates Man perfect, but he falls into sin.
  • Rising action - Israel (Old Testament) - God chooses a people to be His, but they fail to live up to His standards again and again
  • Climax - Christ (Gospels) - The Messiah comes, lives, dies and resurrects, defeating death and sin.
  • Falling action - Church Age (Acts and the Epistles) - Those who trust in Jesus live victoriously in life and hope.
  • Dénouement - Armageddon and Eternity (Revelation) - Christ returns to claim His people and judge the sinners.
Here we see another hint of God embedded into our natures. We can know who God is by this cultural universal, this part of ourselves that crosses across all culture. We know God loves good stories.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Great Outdoors

This is procrastination. Just so you know, I've been writing various essays today about how great I am/how great medical schools are and am sick of writing about it. As a release, I'm going to write about something I like.

I like the outdoors. A couple friends and I decided after our poker game (... no comment on this one) that we would go to Anza-Borrego State Park (It's a huge park in the desert east of Temecula). We saddled up in the Expedition at about 2AM Saturday morning and got on the trail at about 3:30AM.

Before we arrived, I got to test out the four-wheel drive before we got to the trailhead. It was amazing; on 35MPH on dark, twisty, sandy trails with no one in sight or sound at 3AM, windows down, with only the sound of the engine and the violent desert wind. It was so much fun.

Anyways, we started hiking at 3:30AM or so, and realized that there was no moon. We lost the trail after about 5 minutes (or rather, we ignored the trail and went where we wanted to go). We hiked for about an hour in very low light, mostly avoiding the choya (sp? It's a very nasty type of cactus that is nicknamed "the jumping cactus" because of it's tendency to 'jump' onto you from trail sides or 'jump' back and stick you a second time after you pull back from getting stuck). We found the jeep trail we were trying to connect to and made camp at the base of a rocky hill (we don't usually use tents in California, so by 'camp' I mean we threw down a tarp and our sleeping bags).

Once on my back, I looked up at the stars and was almost moved to tears. It was glorious. I've never seen stars like there are in the desert. In LA, you can almost count them, but not in the desert. I really felt like I was in the throne room of God; I saw the stars as I had never seen them before. Talk about proof of a Creator.

We were awakened about two hours later by some Boy Scouts who were getting on the trail just after dawn. I walked around and prayed for a bit before waking up my sleepy companions, and we were of. After going over the first hill, we decided the trail was boring and we picked a mountain to conquer. So we started off the trail.

It was a relatively easy hike, but was sometimes challenging to get past all the vegetation (and the CHOYA!). The desert was surprisingly green and even more alive than it usually is. We even saw some Manzaneta, which definitely didn't belong.

We conquered the mountain and decided it was time for lunch. Once we had eaten, we picked the direction that looked like it would take us back to my car, and we started hiking. Another few hours later, we were back at the car. Another fun trail drive later we were on our way back to civilization by about 1PM.

What's the point? I'm not sure. I had a great time. It was a great hike and reminded me how much I really do need to get outside and conquer stuff (like a pile of dirt and rocks, for example; I struck fear into the hearts of other piles of dirt and rocks with the threat of my boots being atop them!). It was a manly 24 hours that was very refreshing. Kind of like a shower is refreshing for cleanliness, dirt and sore muscles are refreshing for manliness. It was long overdue.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Ambition + Drive

Today and yesterday I was feeling sick (again). I had a conversation this morning and I complained about the worst part: lack of drive.

My classes are the limit of my thinking. I did not have a 1/2-page margin today filled with business ideas, spiritual revelations and to-do lists. I just listened. I think I learned more than I normally do.

However, I'm working on a project with my church, and I have no ambition to do it. I can think of things to do. Before I would have a pressing drive to do as many as I could as fast as I could, and then to think of new things to do. Today I just drifted, dutifully doing my homework.

I feel subdued. Maybe this is how normal people live all the time. It's like I'm normally awake, looking around in every direction, first at the path in front of me, then thinking about short-cuts and potential cross-country jaunts, afterwards up into the blue sky and distant future, finally taking in the scenery. Then back at the trail. It is a lot easier to do what I did this week: keep your eyes fixed on the trail in front of you and not spend time looking elsewhere.

With this level of ambition as a permanent state, I probably would do what all my peers are going to do: settle into a job and just do what I'm supposed to. I would be something safe and secure, working 8 hours a day and making a good amount of money.

Just three weeks ago I wanted to break out and do something crazy and ambitious, throwing all caution to the wind. This week, I just want to stay comfortable. Today, I am satisfied in doing nothing more than filling out applications and doing my homework. My three-weeks-ago self would be appalled!

Should I fight this feeling of mono-pathy (sort of like a-pathy, but with a single-focused concern)? Should I ever strive to be uncomfortable? Or should I settle down when my body wants to settle down?

I think I'm going to have to opt for the first option. I'll try to do the things I would normally do by nature when I am feeling well. If I don't have ambition, I'll fake it.

I'll just re-read Teddy's admonition (conveniently printed at the top of my blog), hop back into the arena whether I feel like it or not, and get more bloody.