Say It Ain’t So Jo(aquin)!

With the aging of Harrison Ford, my favorite actors over the last few years have been Matt Damon, Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix.

It’s been a tough year for my favorite actors. Tragically, Ledger died of an accidental overdose back in January, and now comes the news that Phoenix is retiring from acting.

At 34, Joaquin isn’t moving into a retirement home just yet. Apparently, he’s taking a break from the movie business to pursue a career in music.

Back when he play Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, I was blown away by Phoenix’s voice, and I have no qualms with him recording some albums, but here’s my basic thought: if people like Jessica Simpson who don’t seem to have talent in acting or music can do both at the same time, can’t Joaquin at least give it a shot?


Does Pro-Life Make A Difference?

I know quite a few people who are opposed to abortion, but whose voting decisions aren’t actually affected by those beliefs.

After all, electing pro-life politicians doesn’t actually have any effect on abortion in America, right? Well, actually, according to this article, it does:

“Most of these authors attempt to make one of two points: either a) that there is little that elected officials can do to curb abortion through legislation, or b) that the pro-life movement has not reaped any real benefits from supporting candidates who oppose abortion. Voters should, therefore, they argue, place greater emphasis on other issues. However, an examination of the history of the pro-life movement and a careful analysis of abortion trends demonstrate that these arguments are deeply flawed. In fact, the success of pro-life political candidates has resulted in substantial reductions in the abortion rate.”
The article then goes on to describe all the ways in which pro-life politicians and anti-abortion legislation have decreased the number of abortions in the United States.

So what does that have to do with the impending election? Well, one of the candidates opposes abortion, while the other, according to another article, is “the most extreme pro-abortion candidate to have ever run on a major party ticket.”

If you’re opposed to abortion, it should be something to think about. I understand that there are other moral issues as well that we have to deal with, but I always come back to Jesus’ words about “the least of these” in Matthew 25.

Who better qualifies as “the least of these” than an unborn child?



In Ecclesiastes 7.16-18, Solomon writes:

“Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise—why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool—why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.”
Those verses come in the context of a longer passage on wisdom, and Solomon suggests that avoiding extremes is a wise thing to do.

Generally speaking, I consider myself to be a moderate sort of guy.

Politically, there are a few issues that I am very, very conservative on, but for the most part, I’m not dead-set on a lot of things and can see both sides of a lot of issues.

Religiously, in the broad spectrum of Christianity, I would certainly be considered conservative, but in my specific religious fellowship, I’m pretty much in the middle (in the past, I would’ve thought I was pretty conservative, but over the last few years, I’ve come into contact with more and more people who have verified my middle-of-the-road-ness).

I say all that to say this: the problem with moderation is that when you’re in the middle, you have to deal with the people on both extremes.

It can be a frustrating endeavor.


A 3,000 Mile Journey

One of the (many?) strange things about me is that I always have numbers flying around inside of my head.

When I walk somewhere, I often count the number of steps that I take. When I see numbers on road signs, I often add or subtract them without thinking about it. When I go running, I often translate my pace into MPH. Yeah, I already admitted that it was strange.

The other day, on the way home from work, I discovered that I had picked up a hitchhiker—a little spider was on my hood, clinging on for dear life.

The distance from the church building to my apartment is about 8 miles, and it got me to thinking—in spider terms, how far of a trip were we making?

After estimating the size of the spider and comparing it to my own size, and making several tedious conversions from inches to feet to miles, I determined that for the spider, the trip to my apartment was roughly the equivalent of a 3,000 mile journey for me (it’s a ballpark figure—I did the calculations in my head while driving and listening to thumping techno music).

I was just reflecting on how traumatic it would be for me to be unwittingly deposited somewhere 3,000 miles away, when I looked down to discover that the spider was no longer on my car—sometime during my calculations he had apparently lost his grip and been blown away (speaking of traumatic).

Yeah, this is what life is like inside of my head.


Let’s Make A Deal

So as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not exactly thrilled about either of our major presidential candidates.

Unfortunately, the political system in the United States is strictly limited to two parties, and anyone not belonging to one of those two parties, no matter how qualified or popular they may be, has no legitimate chance of being elected.

Then I came across VotePact.org, which I thought was pretty neat.

The basic premise of Vote Pact is that a significant portion of Americans don’t really identify closely with either of the two major parties (and specifically with those parties’ candidates in this particular election), but they vote for them anyway because they fear that voting for a third party candidate just helps the party that they dislike the most.

Vote Pact’s solution:

Disenchanted Republicans should pair up with disenchanted Democrats and both vote for third party or independent candidates they more genuinely want. This way they siphon off votes by twos from each of the establishment parties. This liberates the voters to vote their actual preference from among those on the ballot, rather than to just pick the “least bad” of the two majors. They could each vote for different candidates, or they could vote for the same candidate. If the later, it could offer an enterprising candidate a path to actual electoral success.
On the website, there’s a chart to show how, statistically, this is somewhat feasible.

Of course, it’s not like all the people who don’t really like Obama or McCain are a politically uniform group, so it’s highly unlikely that they could ever unite behind a third party candidate.

But boy, I think it’d be cool if they did.


Observation #3

If Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10.38), He probably wants more from me than just holding the right positions on doctrinal issues.


The Compassion Of Christ

There are a lot of passages from the gospels that I could use to expound upon the title of this post, but recently, I was struck by a passage from the book of Matthew.

Matthew 14 starts off with the narration of the death of John the Baptist. John has been imprisoned for speaking out against the unlawful marriage of King Herod, and now, at the request of Herod’s daughter, is beheaded.

John’s disciples take and bury his body, and then go and tell Jesus what has happened.

The Bible doesn’t tell us too much about the specific interactions between John the Baptist and Jesus, but we know that their ministries and lives were closely connected.

In addition to the fact that they were relatives, we know that John baptized Jesus, and that Jesus later had very complimentary things to say about him, proclaiming in Matthew 11.11, “among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!”

It shouldn’t surprise us then, that “…when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself.” (Matthew 14.13)

Jesus was God’s Son, but He was human as well, and sometimes we forget that He felt the same feelings that we do. When He heard that John had been killed, Jesus must have been terribly upset—after all, John was likely a close friend of His and was possibly the one person on earth who somewhat understood Who Jesus was and why He had come. He was upset, and He wanted to be alone.

But by now, Jesus was popular, and the people wouldn’t let Him be alone. When they figured out where He went, they followed on foot. Jesus leaves His boat and comes ashore, and then comes Matthew 14.14, which, in the context we’ve just described, is amazing to me:
“When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.”
Apparently, at the sight of the people, Jesus immediately forgets His own sorrows and sees only the troubles of those around Him. He feels compassion for the multitudes, and subordinates His own needs to the needs of the people. He heals their sick, and goes on to satisfy their hunger by miraculously multiplying five loaves and two fish.

What an example Jesus provides for us! We should never be so engulfed by personal tragedies, political considerations and economic uncertainties that we lessen our ability to feel compassion for the plight of others around us.

Oh that Christians were characterized by the compassion of Christ!


The Etch-A-Sketchist

This guy is amazing—I can barely write my name with an Etch-A-Sketch.

Here are a couple of my favorites.


Whom To Vote For?

So, I don’t know if you’ve heard or not, but there’s a pretty big election coming up in the next month or so.

I’ve talked before about how I’m not a Barack Obama fan. I disagree strongly with his views on abortion, which is a deal-breaker for me, but I have other problems with him as well.

Unfortunately, as a person, I think he’s probably a better guy than John McCain. I come closer to agreeing with McCain on a lot of issues, and, as I’ve written before, in some ways, McCain is a very admirable guy.

But on the whole, he seems to be a big jerk. He’s infamous for his terrible temper, he slept around all over the place on his first wife, and it’s really hard for me to respect a guy who would say things like this to his current wife (and in public!).

So it looks like I’m in need of a different candidate*, and it’s for that purpose that I’m writing this blog post—to accept nominations for a write-in candidate.

The first nomination I received a while back from my brother, and it’s a pretty good one: Optimus Prime.

I think Optimus has a lot of characteristics that would make him an ideal President. Consider:

  • He would bring an entire new meaning to “Commander-in-Chief.” I’m not even sure we’d need an army anymore.
  • International Negotiations: This goes along with the first point I guess, but seriously, can you imagine Ahmadinejad or Hugo Chavez doing anything other than treating Prime with the utmost respect?
  • Over and over he has staunchly supported and affirmed the value of all human life.
  • He’s the wisest and most noble of all Autobots.
But on the flip side:
  • As someone who transforms into an 18-wheeler, Optimus is an inherent and fundamental part of our oil crisis in a way that no other candidate could be.
  • And the big one: he’s not a native born citizen of the United States. Not at all.
So I guess the nominations are still open…

*I actually hope that McCain wins the election, but I’m just not sure that I could bring myself to vote for him. I’m pretty sure that in my state, it won’t matter though, which is why I’m taking such a light-hearted approach to this.


The Master Of Ballantrae

Sunday night, I finished Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Master of Ballantrae.

I’m a fan of Stevenson—I’ve written before how much I appreciate his work, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one of my all-time favorite works of fiction—but I was a little disappointed in this one.

The Master of Ballantrae is a tale of two brothers of noble Scottish birth, and is alsosomewhat of a retelling of the Biblical story of Jacob and Esau, with the rivalry and conflict between the two brothers being the central plot of the story.

Parts of the book read very slowly, but there is a lot to keep the reader interested as well: the setting jumps all over the place, with events unfolding in Scotland, the High Seas, India, and finally colonial America, and as with other Stevenson stories, multiple narrators are used, which helps to give different perspectives on events.

Perhaps most interesting of all is the character of the older brother, The Master of Ballantrae himself, who is the antagonist of the story.

Stevenson thoroughly investigated the nature of evil in the character of Mr. Hyde, but in The Master of Ballantrae, the idea is a little more complex. Speaking of his villain, Stevenson said,“The Master is all I know of the devil,” and indeed, the Master’s intelligence, powers of manipulation and seductive charm resemble greatly the malevolent force described in the Bible, and distinguish him from a Mr. Hyde type of evil.

Unfortunately, for me, all of these good aspects of the book were wasted to some degree by an incredibly disappointing climax.

If you’re a big Robert Louis Stevenson fan, The Master of Ballantrae might be worth reading, but otherwise, skip it—he has much better stuff to offer.


Back At Home

So I know that things have been pretty lame around The Doc File for the last couple of weeks. Sorry about that—I’ve been out of town quite a bit.

Last weekend I was in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to play at an ultimate tournament with a bunch of college friends. We played well, and I had a lot of fun, but I did pull a hamstring in the second game (out of seven) which has been somewhat of an annoyance since.

This past Sunday afternoon, I headed down to the alma mater for the Harding Lectureship, and just returned last night. It was a fun and uplifting time, but unfortunately, I returned sick.

It will be nice to stay home for a few weeks.

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