31 May 2010

The Mansions of the Lord

In honor of Memorial Day, here's one of my favorite hymns: The Mansions of the Lord. It was written in honor of the soldiers who died in Vietnam, but it applies to all wars. Inspired by John 14:2.

Ach, it's an incredible song. I start tearing up just listening to it. :)

The Mansions of the Lord

To fallen soldiers let us sing,
Where no rockets fly nor bullets wing,
Our broken brothers let us bring
To the Mansions of the Lord

No more weeping,
No more fight,
No friends bleeding through the night,
Just Divine embrace,
Eternal light,
In the Mansions of the Lord

Where no mothers cry
And no children weep,
We shall stand and guard
Though the angels sleep,
Oh, through the ages let us keep
The Mansions of the Lord

25 May 2010

The choices, the choices

I've got so many different Music Monday songs I'd like to do, it took until Tuesday to decide!

Right. You're not buying that.

Ahem. Anyways. This week, I've decided to share one of my favoritest (is that a word?) pieces of classical music: Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky. Isn't "Modest" an amazing first name?

He's got such a range of emotions in this piece - from quiet to show-stopping. Good stuff. Enjoy!


23 May 2010


Aaah. It feels good to be this close to home... Even though home is still 600 miles away.

Just saying.


20 May 2010


Well, the funeral was today.

Wait a second, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Last night, there was a visitation for friends and family (and whatever morbid members of the public who read the obituary). The first hour was only for relatives and my Uncle's closest friends, and it was open casket. It was pretty disturbing to see him in the casket. The funeral home had dyed his hair red and put makeup on him to hide his dead complexion. His little girl had put Lammy, her favorite stuffed animal, in the casket with a drawing of her and her Dad. Barry didn't look anything like he used to - more like a sculpture from a second-rate wax museum than the body of my Uncle.

The funeral was today. My other uncle is in the Minnesota Police Pipe Band (yes, he plays the bagpipes. He's awesome like that) and he got the pipe band to come and play for the funeral. It was held in a scale model of the Hagia Sophia, and while the 'scale model' part sounds cheesy, it was actually quite beautiful, visually and acoustically.

My aunt Nancy asked me to read in the service, which I did - Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, the "there is a time for everything" passage.

After the service, Barry's casket was escorted out of the chapel to the pipe band, and everyone drove to his burial plot. It's beautiful, sitting in the shade of some big shade trees on a sunny hill beneath a mausoleum. Everyone else was so sad and hurting so much that I started crying, which was embarrassing because right around then, people started meeting and greeting each other. Bah. Don't get me wrong - I love my Uncle dearly, and I do miss him, but it's not very pleasant to meet some awesome cousins with tears and mucus running down your face. >:(

The cemetery staff shooed everyone away, and we drove to a loft to have lunch and talk. I was whisked into a whirlwind of meeting obscure relatives whose names I've forgotten.

Now, throughout the whole thing, I kept thinking that the funeral and the pomp going into it was far too serious for my Uncle. After all, he was the type who would try to outrace the mosquitoes on his boat rather than wait for them to fly off (true story, we did that once. He wasn't touched, but I got a couple hundred bites. Yes, I counted). No, Uncle Barry would be wanting a wake, in the true Irish style, Guinness and all. He got one, actually. After the official lunch, Aunt Nancy and her close family and Barry's friends headed off to a pub.

There are far too many songs to express how I'm feeling, so I'll leave that to tomorrow's post. So, instead, I'll go crash on the couch and watch a documentary about people dying in World War 1.

Also, I'm in no mood to talk with people, so emails, chats, anything will be deleted if they arrive tonight.

18 May 2010


I've heard it said about extended family that if you don't know where you've been, you don't know where you're going. I'd prefer it be said that if you don't know where you've been, there's no way you can get away from there.

I've never really liked visiting my relatives here in Minnesota. It's unpleasant coming into the middle of a family disfunction that's been in existence for the past 50 years. There are members of my extended family that are all right by themselves, but once you get them in a group, boy, do things heat up quickly. Usually, this isn't too bad, because we come around Christmas or in the summer, and the family only gathers for a couple hours one day of the visit.

However, because this visit is occasioned by a funeral, I'll be in close contact with my relatives for this entire week. Not only that, but with Uncle Barry's death, tensions are even higher than they are usually, and a lot of family are coming in from out of town.

If I knew people out here besides my relatives, it might be better, but the fact is, these adults with all their dramas and woes are the only people I know, and they dominate life even when they're not around. When I'm in the house, they're there, and when our family is elsewhere, that's all we talk about. It's really stressful.

This is the explanation for the last quote of Dad's in my last post. The influence of my relatives is great enough that it affects my mood. I've been listening constantly to Coldplay - that's how bad it's gotten. :P

In 50% unrelated news, my Uncle's wife asked me to read a Bible passage at his funeral this Thursday. It doesn't seem like very long ago that I participated in their wedding. So, yeah, I'm in a rather dark mood right now.  The sooner I can get out of Minnesota, the better.

The only good thing I can get out of this is that because I've seen this so many times, I'll be slightly more able to avoid repeating family history in the future.

Well, I've got other business to attend to...


Well, I'm in Minneapolis right now. We arrived yesterday afternoon, aroud 4:30. I got really loony the last hour of the trip - I was cycling through being Igor, Bob and Cassidy, and Yours Truly  rather quickly.

Before I go on, here are the memorable quotes from yesterday and today.

Dad: "I hate to inform you, but you married an opinion."

Dad: "Hey, Problematic - they've got a sushi place here. Too bad we just ate. It's called North Side Bait and Tackle."

Dad: "You look really emo, there, kiddo."
Me: "Yeah, I'm totally rockingt he invisible fringe."

The last exchange was actually from this morning, which I'll explain in my next post.


16 May 2010

Road Trip

So, yesterday, after callbacks, my family left for Minnesota for my uncle's impending funeral. Well, early this morning, 1:54 AM Central time, Barry Hendrickson met his Maker, face to face. We all pray it was in love, not fear.

Today was particularly boring - ten hours of driving through Montana. I figured I'd entertain you with some of the memorable excerpts of the countless conversations.

Mpm: "Look at that! They're vertical rainbow clouds! Pretty! Hey, are you guys seeing that? Hmph. You have no appreciation of beauty. Look at those vertical clouds!"

Me: "This is the most exciting thing to happen to me today! We've finally reached North Dakota!"

Me: "Montana is bigger on the inside."

Me: "Wow, that looks kind of like the Grand Canyon, only with more bumps and less canyon!"

Mom: "Aww, it was prettier back there..."
Me: "You mean back at the Grand Not Canyon?"

Mom: "There's not many animals. I guess it's bring your own wildlife. Oh wait. We are the wildlife."

Mom: "My lip is spasming!"
Dad: "It's because it's North Dakota."

Me: "It's like, you cross into North Dakota, and cars appear. It's like, North Dakota magic or something. Oh wait, cars all gone now."

And my favorite...

Me: "The point is that I'm not causing nearly enough mayhem and slaughter! This is clearly a problem!"

Also along the way, Dad and I got into a nice, deep conversation as to whether love is an emotion or a commitment - and we're still at odds. The funny thing is, our arguments were the same, but they had different focuses.

Also, I got into Much Ado About Nothing. Glee!

Well, I've got to go to bed. It's late here in Bismark.


Bismark. Isn't that an incredibly depressing name?

14 May 2010


Alright, so tomorrow are the callbacks for Much Ado About Nothing. I'm a little nervous about it, suffice to say. I've been called back as Hero, Ursula, and a member of the Watch. Well, it should be interesting.

Currently, I'm at Unexpected Song's house blowing off a little steam and watching the Harry Potter movies. There are some really good lines that have been cracking me up.

Ron: "Ahh... Spiders... the spiders are wanting me to tapdance... I don't want to dance..."
Harry: "You tell those spiders, Ron."
Ron: "Yeah... yeah..." >falls back asleep<

Yes. It's quite relaxing. Also auditioning with me tomorrow will be Lady Specs, Calvin, and Escapist. But anyways, if y'all could keep callbacks in your prayers, I'd greatly appreciate it.


13 May 2010

Call the Lie

This whole week, I've been pretty down. Those normal exchanges of "Hey, how are you? I'm fine, thanks!" have been pretty awful to carry out, because, well, I haven't been fine and there's no chance I will be fine in the near future. It led me to post something I'd never consider posting under normal circumstances in my Buzz account - "Problematic needs someone to call the lie."

That's not actually the point of this post, by the way. But I'm getting there.

See, even though I wasn't feeling very good about things, I still went on trying to pretend that I was more or less okay. I kept lying and saying I was 'okay'. Why? Because I knew no one wanted to know what was really bothering me. News about my Uncle, they could handle, but not really about me. Which works, I guess. It wasn't anything I really wanted to talk about.

Some days, I get fed up with our society. It's just so very shallow. People don't speak what they think, or when they do, it's in a way no one wants to hear. There's all sorts of polite posturing - "Why thank you, you look lovely yourself" and "No thank you, I'm dieting" fill in the place of real conversations, real discussions, real interests.

Some days, that's what's wrong with the world. We're too busy to stop, too busy to think, too busy to care. How many times have I passed a friend I know is down and walked by without calling their lie? When have I cared enough to how they are, really?  It's a troubling thought, that our society is exchanging niceties for actual connections. As long as you pay your social dues, say your please and thank yous, and don't hang out at the snack table all evening, it doesn't matter if you're lonely, if you're sad, if you're jubilant - just don't bother us about it.

We're becoming increasingly private. A central part of Western philosophy is freedom, which goes hand in hand with forming few, intimate connections. But what is happening today isn't just "being private" - it's "being quiet." We don't want to hear your problems, we don't want to know they exist. We want you to act exactly as you always do, where there is no emotional highs or lows. It all becomes balanced in the monotony of "I'm fine, and you?"

We're too busy. Other people's worries bother us, distract us, take up too much time. And that's why we need to be calling other people' lies. Lives without connections are not worth living - no one can exist by themselves. And the social desert we enforce now is doing just that - isolating us by putting up walls of courtesy to others. I can't tell you how I really am because that would take up too much of your valuable time. So we just glide past, smiling, nodding, and drowning on the inside.

It's sobering, isn't it?

11 May 2010

Prayer Request 2

Well, I'm afraid I must trouble you all with another prayer request. You may remember that in the last one, Mom had flown out to Minnesota to be with her brother as he is dying of pancreatic cancer.

This morning we got the news that Uncle Barry has declined even more. My Aunt Nancy stayed up with him all night last night, but he was unable to talk in a coherent way. He was unable to swallow pills or solid food, and has been reduced to sipping at liquids and the like.

My aunts, uncles, and Grandma met with the hospice social worker at noon about what to do with Uncle Barry. After a few efforts, it was understood that he did not want to move to a hospital because he didn't want to see his house "for the last time." The Hospice care has said he might die as early as today or tomorrow, but they can't really say. They also say that Aunt Nancy needs someone to stay with her overnight every night as she attends to Barry.

I'm sure you can imagine how stressful this is for my Mom. She hasn't said this, but I think she feels a little helpless here in Washington when Barry's dying in Minnesota.

Please, pray for my uncle's redemption before he passes, and peace of mind for his relatives.


Update 13/5/2010 : My uncle has slipped into a coma

Running Up That Hill

For reasons I'll explain in my next post (which shall be up shortly after this), I didn't get a chance to post my Music Monday post. So it's a day late.

Anyways, this week, I'd like to introduce you to Running Up That Hill, as covered by Placebo. There have been (I think) 3 versions of this song, but of all of them, including the original, I prefer Placebo's. It's a very muted song - understated melody and harmonies. Whenever I hear it, it reminds me of a post-apocalyptic setting - the world burned by nuclear winter, and the singer of this song and his friend are the only ones left.  I think that's why I like it so much. It's perfect mood music.


Running Up That Hill
It doesn't hurt me.
You wanna feel how it feels?
You wanna know, know that it doesn't hurt me?
You wanna hear about the deal I'm making?
You be running up that hill
You and me be running up that hill

And if I only could,
Make a deal with God,
And get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building.
If I only could, oh...

You don't wanna hurt me,
But see how deep the bullet lies.
Unaware that I'm tearing you asunder.
There's a thunder in our hearts, baby.
So much hate for the ones we love?
Tell me, we both matter, don't we?

You, be running up that hill
You and me, be running up that hill
You and me won't be unhappy.

And if I only could,
Make a deal with God,
And get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building,
If I only could, oh...

C'mon, baby, c'mon, c'mon, darling,
Let me steal this moment from you now.
C'mon, angel, c'mon, c'mon, darling,
Let's exchange the experience, oh...'

And if I only could,
Make a deal with God,
And get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
With no problems [x2]

'If I only could, be running up that hill.' [x7]

03 May 2010

Exterminate, Regenerate

In the same vein as last week, I present you with Exterminate, Regenerate, also by Chameleon Circuit. It's one of the few trock songs I've found that could, hypothetically, have applications outside Dr. Who. Hypothetically.

Exterminate, Regenerate

It's been such a long time since I met you back on Skaro
And I'm pretty sure that you know
That not much has changed since then
It doesn't matter how hard you try to remove me
I think you will agree
That if one of us dies, then the other will too
I am locked in war with you

Exterminate, Regenerate
I thought you always knew our fate
To just keep fighting on and on
While time keeps turning
Regenerate, Exterminate
And even though we are the same
Why don't you hop into your ship
And leave me burning

Even though, as men, we have our contrasts
We're of exactly the same class
And our constant companion is death
Look at you, fashioning people into weapons
How can you say that you're better than me?
We both carry the fire, that is set to devour life

We both carry the fire, that has the power to end life
But what I do with that flame is what separates our types
If it takes till the end of reality to beat you
Then I'll be sure to meet you, at the exit of the world

Exterminate, Regenerate
You know that it isn't too late
To end what seems impossible
And leave time turning
Regenerate, Exterminate
And even though we aren't the same
Why don't you hop into my ship
And we can settle this
And we can settle this

And we can settle this, forever
Yeah we can travel time, together
We can settle this, forever

02 May 2010

Please don't Shoot!

Hey all!

I've been considering writing a post on my views on Creationism for a bit, but debater at heart's comment on a recent post has proved to be the catalyst for a potentially divisive post.  Comments on the below post are, as always welcome, but if you disagree with my opinions, I'd greatly appreciate it if you refrain from calling me a heretic, an atheist, a theistic evolutionist, or any other nasty name that does not represent my beliefs.  I believe in the Creation account given in the Bible, including but not limited to Genesis 1 & 2. I believe that what is said in these two chapters is what really happened.

That said, I am a Big Bang, "Middle Earth" Creationist, which I shall explain shortly.

Big Bang
A lot of times, when fellow Christians hear the phrase "Big Bang" they think of an atheistic theory that has no support in scripture. After all, the Bible never says "In the beginning, God created a particle that exploded and created the universe." I'll address that in a second, but first, let me tell you a story.

In 1927, Abbe Georges Henri Joseph Eduoard Lemaitre, a Roman Catholic priest, published an astonishing theory. Based on mathematics and observations he had made of the universe, he proposed that the Universe was constantly expanding from an original point. Einstein told him that while the theory contained good mathematics, the actual physics of the thing was rot. The theory was scorned by most prominent scientists as unscientific and necessitating a beginning of the universe, something they, as atheists, could not support. They called it the "Big Bang" theory in derision, as if the universe had suddenly exploded one day.

However, a few years after the original publication, Edwin Hubble (for whom the Hubble Telescope is named) observed a red-shift in galaxies far away from Earth.

As an explanation, red-shift and the corresponding blue-shift are two parts of a concept known as the Doppler effect.  The Doppler effect is a product of moving objects that interact with any type of electromagnetic or sound waves - light, energy, sound, etc. As an object moves closer to a fixed observation point, the electromagnetic waves it produces appear to build up on each other, resulting in an apparently higher frequency to the observer. For instance, if you and I are standing on a train platform, the sound the train's whistle makes as it approaches us will go up in pitch because of the Doppler effect; the air is being compressed. As the object, or train, moves away, its waves lengthen and drop in frequency - the pitch of the train's whistle goes down. Red-shift and blue-shift are the terms for the same phenomenon in light. An approaching train would produce a small, but detectable blue glow, while a receding train produces a red one.

But anyways, Hubble observed red-shift from distant galaxies, and blue-shift from closer ones, indicating that the galaxies were, in fact, moving away from a fixed point in space.  There's more evidence and scientific explanation on the net, but it's pretty advanced stuff, and my point here is only that the evidence pointed, and still does, toward a universe that originally started at one fixed point.

When this new evidence came out, other scientists had some serious back-pedaling to do. The previously held theory of a steady-state universe (that the Universe has existed in the same state it is in now for eternity) was gradually dropped; it didn't fit the mounting evidence of a distinct beginning in time and space for the universe we see.  The scientists were left with the reality that the theory they had mocked as a Big Bang was the most viable option left. So after a few changes to make it acceptable to their worldviews, they started propagating the theory. Their addition to the Big Bang theory is that a tiny particle containing everything in the universe floated around for a while and then decided to start expanding one day.  While they can tell us, based on observation and physics, that the universe had a distinct beginning, they can't tell us what happened before or why.

This is where us contrary Christians come in. There is a preference of rejecting out of hand anything that our ideological opponents claim, because these opponents are the ones supporting it, sometimes without examining what they say. For instance, scientists today claim to support the "true" theory of the Big Bang, and we've tended to accept that at face value, and oppose the Big Bang theory. However, what the scientists support is not the real Big Bang theory. They've taken a scientific theory, and modified it to suit their worldview better. While the worldview is justly opposed, the unmodified theory of the Big Bang does not contradict the Bible's account of Creation. I'd go as far as to say that the Big Bang theory is the only scientific theory that correlates with Genesis 1 and 2.  Why?

Here's what the unmodified Big Bang theory and its associated theories say:

- Einstein's General Theory of Relativity states that space and time are intrinsically linked. You can't have one without the other
- According the to Big Bang theory, space had a beginning, and therefore, time had a beginning
- In other words, the universe is not infinitely old.
- We can trace the expansion of the universe back to an infinitesimally small point
- Such a small point in space, containing the entirety of the universe is incredibly unstable
- Said point would begin to expand as soon as it came into existence
- As in, it couldn't exist for a few millenia and spontaneously expand.

What the Bible says:

- "In the beginning, God created the heavens, and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." (Genesis 1:1)
- The universe was created by God
- As Paul says, the universe we observe was created from what we cannot see (Col.1.16-17) and is held together by the power or strength of God's word (Heb. 1.3)
- The universe is finite; God is not
- God created the universe first and then created the earth and all that is on it
- God exists outside of space and time

While these two lists of what happened seem unrelated at first glance, they line up with each other very accurately.

Have you ever dipped your finger into a still birdbath or pond? The ripples spread out from the place your finger first touched. I think that the ripples we see in the universe, the expansion of galaxies starting from a central place, are the ripples of Creation when God first created space and time. God creates heavens and the earth, and that Creation spreads out from what He first spoke it into existence and continues to sustain by His speech.

Perhaps that a bit too poetical for your tastes, so think about it this way. When God created the heavens and the earth in verse 1, He's making the universe.

At this point, I need to say something pretty important. Science is humanity's attempt to describe reality. If the science does not directly contradict what the Bible says about reality, then there is no reason to deny it, or call it un-biblical.

Now, you might be saying that the Bible doesn't say that God created a particle that exploded into the universe. While, I agree, that is true, the Bible doesn't say that, I would also argue that the Bible does not say that God created any eukaryotic skin cells in human beings. This is an instance where science does not contradict what the Bible says. In fact, the theory of the Big Bang lines up so closely with the account of Creation, that first there was nothing, and then there was everything, that in 1951 the Catholic Church declared it to not contradict the Bible. I'm not a Catholic, and you may not be, but I would agree with their statement on this matter.

I'm going to leave my discussion of "Middle Earth" creationism for another time, since this is already one long post.