All posts by Jim Stitzel

Jim cultivates interests in a variety of areas. He is an avid storyteller, specializing in (dark) speculative fiction and webcomics. He is also a professional code wrangler and dabbles in amateur photography.

Open Mind

It’s interesting to me that the word ‘open-minded’ has been paired with ‘rational’ and ‘pragmatic’ in the second frame of this comic strip. The reason for this is that ‘open-minded’ and ‘rational’ are actually on opposite ends of the continuum from one another. The word ‘open-minded’ is a product of our post-modern culture, where to settle into one opinion on a topic is to be considered ‘narrow’ and ‘close-minded’ and ‘intolerant.’ ‘Rational,’ on the other hand, is a remnant of modernism, where facts can be sifted through the sieve of the mind and truth discovered. Absolute truth. ‘Open-minded’ lends itself to relative truth or NO truth; ‘rational’ lends itself to the discovery of a single, absolute truth. So, to find these two words paired in the same sentence as complementary to one another is something I find VERY interesting…..

Hodge-Podge

Ok, a couple of different thoughts……

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I’m pretty discouraged today at the way my fleshly lusts have pretty much pre-empted my other pursuits. For instance, I now have a PlayStation and a VERY cool video game to go with it (thanks, Hon! ). But the trouble is that this week it has completely consumed my free time, and I’ve gotten very little else done, like my house chores, homework, or even spending time with God. I hate that I’ve become so undisciplined. I don’t think it helps that my bedtime has been chaotic, and most nights I’m lucky to get 6 hours of sleep.

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A quote from a website I stumbled across:

“Anyone who wants to glorify God more fully by moving from theology (The study of the nature of God and religious truth) to doxology (An expression of praise to God…which is the heart of worship)!”

This is a good start, but it’s missing a step. How about: Theology to Doxology to Methodology? i.e. the study of the nature of God to praise and worship of God to practical application in daily life — and actually DOING it! Our generation has this really bad habit of studying and praising and forgetting about the doing. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not condemning what this study group is doing. I am merely suggesting that another step be added to the mix, one that is all too often forgotten…..

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I’m noticing a lot of discouragement and heartache is going around right now. For those of you struggling, I’ll be praying. For those of us not, we need to gather around those who are and offer Christian support. We are needed, and now is the time for us to step up and take our responsibility to show God’s love, compassion, and encouragement.

Road Most Traveled

He travelled the path alone, and so he had no one to blame but himself for the way things eventually turned out. The path was well-worn, indicating that many travelled this way. As it was now, though, there was not another person in sight. The sun was high in the sky, no clouds to obscure its bright face. The birds chirped cheerfully to one another.

He was enjoying his walk and the things he experienced along the way. The last village was particularly enjoyable, though the old woman’s warning left him feeling slightly disturbed and advice very confused (“Make sure to take the left fork. The other is dangerous. But if you find yourself in trouble, simply stop and turn around”). It wasn’t something he particularly wanted to reflect on, and so he made a deliberate effort to push the memory further to the back of his mind.

His journey continued into the late morning. The walk was not particularly difficult, the path following a relatively straight course and only slight rises and falls in the geography.

Eventually, the path topped a particularly tall rise, and he looked down the hill to see a dark wood ahead. It had a forbidding look about it. The path he was on went straight into those thick trees. However, he noticed that just before the treeline, another path split off that seemed to follow the edge of the wood.

He thought, “Well, I can just follow this secondary path around the wood and rejoin the main path on the other side.” And so he did, forgetting the warning he was given earlier in the day.

He walked along this new path for some time with no resistance. He thought to himself how much better this path was, how much easier, than if he had followed that other path into those dark woods. Surely, that journey would have been much more difficult.

As he was thinking to himself, he suddenly slipped and found himself sliding quickly down a hill that the path had dropped over. He was sliding toward a particularly nasty looking patch of brambles. He panicked and tried to claw his way back up the hill, but the struggle only accelerated his descent, and soon he found himself caught in the clutches of the brambles. The barbs cut into his skin, and every effort he made to get away only entangled him further. He had forgotten the advice to stop struggling. He didn’t know that even now, that advice would serve him well.

But then, he did remember. Only he remembered the woman and not her words. He cursed her, believing she had tricked him to go this way, when the fault only lay on himself. He had tried to find an easier way to his destination, and now his journey had been hopelessly delayed. He wondered if he would ever be able to get out of this mess…..

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It is interesting to watch people I know created problems and crises for themselves by the sheer power of their own poor decisions. And I know that these people should know better because I know that they have been advised by their close friends and family that their actions are going to prove to be ultimately self-destructive. Yet, they do not listen, choosing instead to take their own path, to do their own thing, because it is easier or because they would rather have immediate satisfaction rather than long-term fulfillment. And it scares me, too, because I see bits of myself in these people, the poor decisions that I myself make, and the consequences of those decisions can be very hard to live with. I can only pray that I make good decisions and that I can be humble enough to heed advice and turn from my bad decisions when I make them.

Life Is Painful

Life is painful. And the sooner I come to terms with that, the sooner I can get on with the business of living Christly and of fulfilling obligations that I am responsible for. Ultimately, I don’t really like to have to struggle and work hard, and it is especially difficult for me to struggle to improve in the area of my spiritual life. And yet, a big chunk of me desires improvement in this area, to be able to force myself out of bed in the morning to spend some time with God, to be able to actually be a strong spiritual leader for my wife, to defeat the pleasures of the flesh that have this irritating tendency to dominate me — in a phrase, to be a Godly man and husband. And yet the ‘old man’ dominates, inflicts his laziness upon me, and I am powerless against it.

But life is painful. And the funny thing is that I expect it to be otherwise, and so I keep treading water, hoping it will get better of its own accord. Yet, it never does. So, the thing to do is to face the pain, the hardship that goes along with growing, and fight the pain and fear and goes along with daily living, seeking my Savior all the way, and hopefully encouraging others to do the same while I’m at it.

And if I really want to go into the helping profession, then I really best get at it soon, or chance wrecking my whole ministry…..

Discontinuity

Finally! Some quality content with some actual depth! (I told you it would pass.)

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A discontinuity of thought that has been niggling at the back of my brain for the past couple of weeks finally came to the forefront of my mind tonight as I was driving home from school. It has to do with the now infamous Janet Jackson incident and the outrage that followed. The outcry of condemnation that I heard on every front was one of shock, embarrasment, and even disgust that such a thing could happen during family programming. What I wonder, however, is why anyone was even surprised. To be honest, immoral acts run rampant in our culture today, in everything from music to art to television and on and on and on. So, I wonder, when we fail to deal with the existence of immorality everywhere else, why we are surprised when it spills over into family time, into that “safe” zone. I wonder why we condemn one ‘minor’ act of immorality while overlooking more blatant displays of the same. I wonder why we are surprised, let alone shocked and outraged, when the snake on the path that we have been ignoring suddenly strikes out and bites us on the foot.

Tsk, tsk, people. You can do better than that……

Exhaustion

Exhaustion is the bane of my existence. When my body is weary, the whole of me suffers. My mind slags, my heart droops, my spirits resigns. Sometimes, I get depressed. Other times, I get irritatingly cynical. I always get apathetic, and when you want to walk the Christian life well, that is not a good thing. Oddly enough, I tend to think that the first line of defense spiritually is to take of self physically, including plenty of rest and healthy diet. Makes sense, then, why Christ spent so much time tending to the physical of those in need before tending to the mending and restoration of their hearts.

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I think I need to lay off the coffee. Two full travel mugs, and I feel really edgy. Lots of caffeine like that does not agree with me, and since there is a caffeine allergy that runs in my family, I guess I am playing with fire.

Bupkus

Ok, I promised I would come back and revisit this book I’m reading. I’m working my way through it (slowly!). It’s an intense read, to say the least, and I am finding that I just don’t have much time for ‘casual’ reading with my current class schedule. But I just finished the introductory chapter, so let me summarize it.

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The author is a physicist who originally started as an atheist. Throughout his work, he eventually came to the conclusion that God exists and that a future resurrection of the dead to eternal life will occur (and that this is all provable). He states that the universe has already been existence for at least 10 billion years and will continue for at LEAST another 10 billion, but more likely for another 100 billion+ years in the future. God, in his theory, is in actuality something called the Omega Point, basically the end of time/space/etc. He claims that as a necessity to his theory (and by implication proven through his calculations), God is not yet fully Being, that His Being will actually only occur in the future, at this Omega Point event. He does claim that his God is personal and that his God loves us, and thus will resurrect us. Heaven and Purgatory exist (or will exist, to be more precise), and Hell might exist, depending on a future condition (a.k.a. variable) of the Omega Point event (i.e. the end of all time and space). According to the author, the resurrection of the dead will occur for all those who have died in the past (but not for another few billion years, at the end of time), but that it will occur as an emulation performed through the computers of the future. The dead will be resurrected to this state of being (which he claims can be proven to be identical to our current state of being), and that it will be a state of “continued individual becoming.” Additionally, he states that neither Western Christianity, nor any other major world religions, fits well into the Omega Point Theory. He states that the Omega Point Theory merely proves the two things that every religion shares — that God exists and that He will grant immortality to us. The rest of the book will be used to flesh out these thoughts/theories more fully.

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Already, I’m barely out of the introduction, and I’ve discovered that what this scientist postulates does not match up with the God that the Bible proclaims. I would not say that this scientist is a Christian (and based on his own words, I do not think he himself would claim to be a Christian, necessarily, either; in fact, I think it would be far safer to say that physics is his religion), though he believes in God, because his view of God (and his view of an inevitable and undiscriminating resurrection of all to essentially the same place) does not match the Scriptural proclamation of the Gospel. I plan to continue working my way through his book because I believe in giving everyone a fair chance to voice their opinions (and frankly, I curious to see where he goes with this).

Ghosts

The call was to talk to a psychic about a possible haunting. The couple had only lived there a short time. In fact, the house was only two years old. She had taken a picture of him, and the print, when it came back, showed perfectly round spheres of light distributed throughout the photograph. She had also seen a little boy (not her own, as she had no children) sitting on her staircase, resting his chin on his hands. These were only two instances of at least half a dozen she mentioned. And she wanted to talk to the psychic to determine if her home was, indeed, being haunted. I never heard the outcome of the conversation because I had to leave for work before the psychic actually came on the phone. My guess is that they were involved in something that attracted this kind of demonic attention, in which case, even moving from that house would not relieve the oppression. Those things have a way of following you…..

Later, another caller wanted to talk to the psychic because he wanted to know how to attract ghosts to his home. He thought it would be pretty cool to have several ghosts to “hang out” with, something like a conversation piece. He thought it would be fun to open his cupboard to get a box of cereal out and find one of his ghosts buddies sitting there (reading the label, or somesuch thing). I don’t think this guy even knew what he was asking for. Dangerous…. and extremely naive……..