Thursday, September 17, 2009

Between Ourselves and Home Lies 2300 Sea Miles, the Endeavor Straits and the Great Barrier Reef.

"Biological weapon" or "buy a logical weapon," you decide...

OK, earlier this afternoon, I ingested almost a full 3.2 ounce pouch of original flavor beef jerky. That will provide the ability to stay put for the next hour or so while I write this blog post. I consumed a 16 fluid ounce can of Monster energy drink over crushed ice - not chugged, but nursed over the space of an hour or so, including a stint as my dinner drink. This will provide the pep I'll need to stay positive and not dwell on a topic too long... it will also militate against my tendency to shift into malaise, often without notice, as evidenced in yesterday's post.

That was the pre-blog prep. What I bring with me into the actual writing of tonight's post is: a banana (to help me to add colorful elements to the post), some dark chocolate covered cranberries (for an element of mystery, so you'll never know what I'll say next) and a tall glass of cold water, no ice (to keep my mind clear).

See, it's a new form of magic, called "blogomancy", and I've leveled up from "apprentice" to "journeyman". I bet you didn't know that so much went into writing a daily blast of hot air, did you? Usually, all I need to produce a blast of hot air is the beef jerky, but we'll leave that for now...

Well, I guess I'll begin with a Theological Question... if theology bores/annoys you, then skip down exactly 4 paragraphs. Sorry, it's on my brain, so I'm gonna run with it for a bit.

Which would you say describes a greater version of God: A God that knows everything every person will do, say and think, forever, into the farthest stretches of eternity. Or: A God that creates things in such a way that He doesn't know all the details ahead of time, but is still in complete sovereign control over everything that happens, and will ever happen.

You can probably tell by the way I worded the choices which way I lean. For some reason, the vast majority of Christians that I've posed this sort of conundrum to say without hesitation the first one. "Of course God knows everything we will ever do, say -- or even think - all before the foundation of the world. He's God!" How far into forever does that extend? "Forever! He's God!"

To me, that doesn't make sense. That strikes me as an unfathomably boring existence. Where's the sense of adventure, the sense of discovery in that sort of all-pervasive knowledge, I wonder? To me, as great as God would have to be to know all details of everything ahead of time, into eternity, it strikes me as far greater - and more enjoyable and fascinating - to purposely craft an intricate, complex system that is a constant source of surprise and wonder.

I think the side you come down on in this particular issue will directly effect the way you live your moment-by-moment day, as well as your picture of the future. That's the only reason I regularly bring it up. It isn't a "how many angels can stand on the head of a pin" type of thing to me. The "every thought, word and deed ahead of time" belief seems to me to encourage a fatalistic approach to life, where day-to-day deeds don't really matter, since our future is locked in stone based (primarily) upon what we believe - and has been locked in since before God created a blessed thing. I guess it's a Calvinist-friendly approach. The other approach leaves room for the proper stress on behavior that I feel is evident in the Book, plus makes more sense from a logical perspective.

Of course, I won't stress out if you believe one way or the other, or a third. It's just my opinion, and I'm always the first to admit I could be out in left field. Beliefs are funny things. Here's a quote from the Mistborn book I'm currently reading that I liked a lot:

"The right belief is like a good cloak, I think. If it fits you well, it keeps you warm and safe. The wrong fit, however, can suffocate."

I'm still really enjoying the book. In fact, I was nosing around on YouTube for interviews with Brandon Sanderson, to see what he's like, and I found a series of videos from this year where he taught a two-hour class on writing and world-building, which took place at this year's "Jordan Con" in May. The video quality isn't that red-hot, but the content is terrific, especially if you're a reader/writer of Fantasy.

In fact, here are the video links, if you're interested. There are a lot, since the segments are only 10 minutes long, due to the inherent length limitations in YouTube.

Hour 1: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6
Hour 2: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

I especially enjoyed the part where he talked about "discovery writers" versus "outline writers." Plus, obviously, his thoughts on crafting magic systems were valuable as well. All of it was very interesting to me. It makes me want to take a Creative Writing class at some local college or something. Anyway, Brandon seems like a solid fellow. He does say "Um" a lot...

Anyway, the topic of world building fits in with my theological question up above... I mean, God did some heavy-duty, well-thought-out world building with our world, did He not? It would be kind of interesting to take a look at His approach, eh?

Awesome pic. Wish I could find it bigger.

OK, enough of that. Here's some inane daily trivia...

Todayve in History: September 18
- September 18, 1837: Tiffany & Co. is founded, as a "stationery and fancy goods emporium." (Now run along and play, and don't come back.)

- September 18, 1851: The first issue of The New York Times is published. (Someday I think you and I are going to have a serious disagreement.)

- September 18, 1870: "Old Faithful" geyser in Yellowstone park is officially observed and named by Henry Washburn during an expedition of the region. (Don't mind him. He used to be an Irishman.)

- September 18, 1984: Joe Kittinger completes the first solo balloon crossing of the Altantic. (Mr. Parris, you are a brainless man!)

Among those celebrating birthdays on September 18 are: Roman Emperor Trajan (53AD), Frankie Avalon (1939), Dee Dee Ramone (1952), James Gandolfini (1961), Lance Armstrong (1971), and Ronaldo (1976). Jimi Hendrix died September 18, 1970.

Here's a Ronaldo compilation video...

I like that clip, since it not only shows his skill with ball control but also how hard his opponents try to take him out.

Dang, I'm older than Lance Armstrong. Man, look at how much he's accomplished; the impact he's had on this world. I can't help but compare myself to him in that realm, and end up feeling pretty small indeed...

I read the other day about a "success coach" named Steven Covey, who, during his conferences, will sometimes have his audience do an exercise where they all take time to write their eulogies out. "What would you want said about you at your funeral?" The idea is that you fast-forward to the person you'd like to be remembered as, along with accomplishments that you'd like to have actually done and have mentioned, and get a good look at it. You then set those things as goals, zip back to today, and then make it your mission to make all those things a reality, so that when the time comes that you do, in fact, die, then that will, in fact, be your eulogy!

It's an interesting way to look at things, I think. So what would I like said about me at my funeral?

Dave made me laugh. Dave entertained me. I enjoyed being around Dave, and hearing what he had to say. Dave loved his kids with his whole heart, and they knew it. Dave had a strong, unshakable faith. Dave was creative, and left tons of scripts, manuscripts, songs, comics, paintings, poems, sculptures, etc that people can still enjoy even though he's gone. He wrote a novel (or more). He was debt-free. He gave of himself. He traveled and saw places and met people. Dave was unique. Those that knew him loved him.

What else would there need to be? Do I want to shake the world? Be famous? Sometimes. I don't know. I think the idea of the exercise, at least when Covey does it, is to set down more concrete things rather than abstracts - sort of like the "wrote novels", and "was debt-free" types of things rather than "those that knew him loved him"... anyways, it was fun to ponder for a while...

Here's the trailer for a new adventure game called Machinarium that's coming out soon, that's wonderful visually...

You gave me my first glimpse of real life. Then you asked me to go on with the false one. No one can endure that...

I think I'm going to end this now. I'm a free man, and I'm going out the front door. I've been in an odd, sort of mellow, introspective mood of late - I thank you for your patience with me. If you read this far, you have my appreciation. You must forgive me if I say stupid things; my brain has gone to pieces.

Until tomorrow, remember, you are the complete opposite of kitsch. In the kingdom of kitsch you would be a monster.


havah said...

Quotes on the other page! :)

I love the title reminds me of Jacarandas.

Interesting food choices, Dave. Please be prepared to share the choc-covered-cranberries.

Hmm...a theological question...let me think. Well, I have no theological basis, but I think that God knows all the broad strokes, the significant stuff; and the smaller details, like how we might choose to go about something, He's left up to us. Sort of like a parent knows a child well enough to know what they're going to do, but not all the intricate details. Does that make sense? I don't think about things like this often enough, I guess. :(

I'll go check out the video links in a bit -- thanks for sharing them. I've sort-of-maybe-decided that I should start taking my writing seriously. Ahem. o_O

Wow! I'm the same age as Armstrong, and look at all he's done! I feel...rather trivial. What a life I may have wasted.

Great footwork! Man, did you see how that guy right in the beginning deliberately stood on him? Not nice.

Haha...we had the same Armstrong thoughts! Too funny...

Yep, Steven Covey's 7 Habits books are very popular...they actually use the "7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens" book at the school I taught at over here. I've also done that obituary exercise with some of my students overseas. Interesting results!

Interesting looking game. It make me think of Grimm's fairytales for some reason! Have you noticed how many games titles now end with "rium"? Or is it just me?

Anyhoo...great blog as usual. I always enjoy reading them. :)

havah said...

Cool Franklin quote of the day, btw. Love the double meaning! :D

logankstewart said...

A Monster drink over ice?! That's brilliant, David. I'm going to have to try that sometime.

"...a constant source of surprise and wonder and pain and hurt and betrayal (emphasis added by commenter)." Hmm. I prefer to think God knows everything that will happen, but that He gets joy and excitement from seeing it happen as He knew it would. Why does He get pleasure from us worshiping Him, even when He demands it of us? Doesn't that seem rather odd? Personally, if I have to ask for something to be done or given to me, I don't get the joy and pleasure that could have came from someone doing something on their own for me, but I still get some pleasure. Our worship, though required, is pleasing unto God, and I think His knowing everything is pleasing unto Him, too.

You should check out Sanderson's website. He's got annotations and notes from different chapters of Mistborn on there. And all kinds of other goodies, too...

God. World-building. Hahahaha...

Sometimes I like those mellowed, introspective moods. But not when they last overly long.

Anonymous said...

Wait, in your eulogy you hope it says that you "traveled and saw places and met people." I thought you only enjoyed people "from a distance?" :)

Krista said...

Not sure how to answer your question, but you did make a good argument.....You gave me a few things to ponder, anyway.

On Mistborn- You should definitely check out his Annotations that Logan mentioned above, there great! We used them throughout our book discussion..A lot of insight. Especially this one
When we discussed this book for our book club we were trying to figure out who the "Hero" would be in the end. It was a blast! Maybe you should try guessing? I think you might be good at figuring it out in the end..... I'd like to see who you think it would be, anyway.
Also, you might be interested to know that Sanderson does this thing called Writing Excuses here:
Pretty cool?
He has a lot of great interviews about his books on YouTube( I've watched all of them! LOL!) Thanks for those links, though, because I've never seen them before, very cool! Favorite author overload! LOL! Oh, and on his site he has these awesome Mistborn Miniatures, very cool!

I L-O-V-E the picture of the Hot air balloons! Very Awesome!

Now I'll see if I can find me a few movie quotes.....

Krista said...

"You gave me my first glimpse of real life. Then you asked me to go on with the false one. No one can endure that..." - The Age of Innocence

"you are the complete opposite of kitsch. In the kingdom of kitsch you would be a monster." -The Unbearable Lightness of Being

"I'm a free man, and I'm going out the front door." - In the Name of the Father

I've never seen any of these movies.....

Krista said...

Left a comment on yesterdays post, too.

David Wagner said...

Havah and Krista both get 15 points!... but Havah gets an additional 10 points for discovering the theme that ties the quotes together... yep, they're all Daniel Day Lewis movies... excellent actor.

Logan: Your added emphasis is definitely appropriate. I couldn't tell if you brief statement about God world-building was sarcastic, meaning you disagree, or genuinely amused because maybe it's a new thought... I actually think this world/life is merely a necessary step in the grand world-building He's doing for His eternal kingdom, but I could ramble forever on that...

I'll definitely check out Sanderson's chapter notes. I'm about 230 pages in at this point, but something tells me Sazed is going to play a major role in the culmination of this book, and perhaps the series as well. There's a lot going on with that guy...

logankstewart said...

No, the quote definitely was not sarcastic. It was really like an epiphany. I've always viewed God as the Creator of All, but I never actually compared that to world-building in the literary sense. The cogs clicked and I found the connection amusing, but definitely appropriate and true.

Anonymous said...

Well I agree but I think the post should acquire more info then it has.