Saturday, September 10, 2016

Rough Sketch of What the World Would Look Like Without the Reformation

​German nobles would not have had as strong a uniting force which to rally around in order to throw off the yoke of the Papacy, so Germany would have remained Roman Catholic longer. England would not have become Protestant, so Spain would not have launched the Armada, so Spain would have remained the naval superpower of the 1500s-1700s, and Spanish Catholics, rather than English Puritans, would have colonized America. Consequently, there would have been no American Revolution, and thus, no great democratic experiment with a Constitutional Republic built on principles of religious liberty. America may today instead be a Roman Catholic monarchy, with the primary language being Spanish. The world would have fewer, if not NO democracies, and worldwide, women would still not have the right to vote, slaves would still be publicly owned in the West, and it's quite probable that the "Enlightenment" of atheism/humanism would not have taken place, so evolutionary theory would never have become a prominent belief. Consequently, even if we had television, cinema would be much more boring, without movies like Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. Because Darwin is the single most important direct influence on Nazi Germany, the Holocaust would not have happened, neither would WWI or WWII, so the British would never have conquered Palestine and Israel would never have been given to the Jews. Jewish settlement would still have occurred, because that was organic, due to antisemitism. However, the likelihood that Israel would have been recognized as a country by the international community would be much lower. Nor is it likely that the state would have been a democracy if it were created in this alternate timeline.

The 'enlightenment' was, together with sects and heresies, one of those necessarily possible but unintended/unwanted consequences of the greater religious liberty Luther et al created by making faith much more individualistic by giving everyone access to the Bible.  Instead of facing secular politics as our biggest internal frustration, we'd still be seeing roman catholicism as the greatest threat to peace and liberty on earth. There would not have been an American Civil War because the Protestant abolitionist movement would never have been a big enough influence to elevate it to the level of national politics. Consequently, there would have been no civil rights movement. Ironically, racial tensions might be perceived to be less strenuous, if only because the disparity in treatment of the "races" would never have confronted the nation's conscience, because there would have been no one to advocate for the oppressed. Since technological innovation of the industrial/post-industrial era was almost entirely a product of American ingenuity, enabled by our political liberty and economic prosperity, in a Roman Catholic America, the inventions like the cotton gin, tractor etc which made the necessity of manual labor obsolete would not have been invented, so slavery would still be seen as a practical necessity with a strong economic incentive for maintaining.

Is your mind blown?

~ Rak Chazak

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Poem: Fountain

If you fill an empthy bottle, it is prone to overflow
It can hold no greater quantity than it was made to hold
But the ocean, though it's always full, is ever being filled
It cannot rise above itself, not even if it willed

If you turn a full glass over, it will drain until it's dry
but a fountain, ever spilling, loses nothing by and by
It will flow and pour continually, and never lose a drop
But the drinking glass, designed to bear, will flow until it stops

Is the ocean now deficient 'cause it cannot be increased?
Is it lesser than all other bodies: rivers, lakes and seas?
Or is the very nature of its greatness, to be sure
in that it is the source of ALL the water, and no more?

Is a fountain failing to be prudent with its store
if it always runneth over -- will it soon be there no more?
Is there something wrong about it if it doesn't keep a lid
on its oh so precious contents, and let it thus be hid?

If you think so, then, you have no clue, the purpose of a fountain
is not to stay immobile, like tranquil, distant mountains
The essence of its beauty is to always overflow
which could never be accomplished if the current were to slow

Fountains don't run dry, because the water that they spill
returns at once, and purposes the fountain to refill
Fountains fill and empty all at once in the same motion
So are they therefore any more deficient than the ocean?

God is always loving us and giving us Himself
Consider, then, the fountain, and let us now dispel
the myth that says that giving implies loss of what you give
God did not begin to die because He made us live
He doesn't grow more hateful as He showers us with love
More of Him on earth does not make less of Him above

Everything is from Him, and it ultimately does
return, because it's for Him, too, and that's including us
We cannot hope to weaken Him, or strengthen Him, at that --
He's perfectly self-sufficient, and that's the simple fact.

Inspiration for this poem:
"[God’s pleasure] is a pleasure in diffusing and communicating to, than in receiving from, the creature. Surely, it is no argument of indigence in God that he is inclined to communicate of his infinite fullness. It is no argument of the emptiness or deficiency of a fountain, that it is inclined to overflow."
~ Jonathan Edwards
~ Rak Chazak

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Random post, AWPATT-style: Prince Hans's Frozen Heart

So I've been bouncing around Youtube commenting on people's analyses of Frozen and Tangled. I recently watched Frozen for the first time, two weeks ago, and then rewatched Tangled. I am very inspired to write a lengthy Christian analysis of the themes, and will endeavor to do that after finals are done (c. May 20).

But for now, I wrote something I thought was worth sharing, and am going to copy-paste it here.

This is on the subject of the Frozen plot twist where the 'nice guy' prince turns out to be a heartless, manipulative jerk. Some people have cried "feminism!" As a Christian man, I disagree and am thrilled to pieces that they made a pivotal plot point about warning girls against trusting a guy whom you barely know, just because he seems nice and you have feelings for him.

So, someone on a comment thread under such a video had said that the plot twist was foreshadowed in Hans's behavior earlier. You're blind if you didn't get suspicious when he proposed marriage on a whim, but here's where my ears perked up for the first time:
As a genuine 'good guy,' myself, the alarm went off when Hans said "I love crazy!" No. Flat out, no. No sane guy actually thinks that. Either he underestimates what 'crazy' is, and is naive, or in denial, OR if he actually gravitates toward legit 'crazy,' then he's self-destructive, or worse, a chauvinist with a broken ability to relate to women, where he feels like if he can 'conquer' them, that he's a strong man. Guys don't like 'crazy' because they genuinely like 'crazy.' They like fighting it, defeating it, destroying it. A guy who says "I like [a genuinely negative quality about you]," be afraid. Because it means he doesn't respect you enough to be honest with you and be a positive influence in your life to be there for you and help you overcome your problems. If he relishes in your problems, it's because it makes him feel better about himself, and more secure, to think that you're inferior to him, or maybe that you can't do better than him because no one else would want you. That's why guys go for "broken" girls. They're insecure, and think that if they persuade the girls to overlook their flaws, that they'll develop an emotional co-dependency and never leave him, no matter how bad he behaves. A true good guy will not praise negative character qualities, but he won't treat you like you have no worth or value because of them, either. A good guy acknowledges both the good and the bad, and doesn't try to present himself as a perfect guy who never conflicts with your expectations. A good guy does not encourage destructive habits, but offers himself as a friend to you, to help you become a better person, if you want to do that by trusting him. And a good guy will never rush you into a relationship. I don't want to risk rambling, so I'll stop there. And I hope that's good advice for all the young women out there to take into consideration. Please listen to me. Just like how you know things that we men can't understand intuitively, THIS is something any honest, thinking man knows and can confirm to you, but that maybe you can't understand intuitively. Trust me on this. Guys who say they 'love crazy,' or something similar to that, are guys to be very very wary of. Take care!
~ Rak Chazak

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

2016 Primary

This has to be quick.

Point 1: I must vote.

Romans 13 says "be subject to the governing authorities." Well, not only does that mean being a responsible citizen, and civically engaged, but it means that because America is a constitutional democratic republic, every one of us IS the government, inasmuch as we vote to elect our representatives who rule on our behalf. So we have an ethical obligation to vote to promote godliness and reject evil.

1. I cannot vote the lesser of two evils. If it's Donald Trump v Hillary Clinton in November, I can't vote for either one of them by arguing that it's worse if 'the other one' gets in. It's unacceptable if either one wins, and I will not positively endorse either one. If you had to choose between Satan and the Antichrist, would you vote for either of them? No, you would refuse on principle and deny the "either-or" choice you've been faced with. It doesn't matter that they're not the same person, they're functionally the same thing and you can't vote for that.

2. I can't not vote, per the above Romans 13 discussion. Delegates are apportioned based on how many people live in the districts where people vote. That means that the delegate count goes to the candidates as if everyone voted, meaning that if you don't vote, you're letting everyone who does vote, vote on your behalf. You delegate your responsibility to the people who aren't too apathetic to vote. If they choose evil, that means you chose evil. You let them represent you without speaking your dissent.

3. The only conclusion then is that if it's a choice between two godless visions for America, then I must either write in a candidate, or - if that's impossible where I happen to live - literally write in to my representatives, announcing my dissent.

This is not about changing the future or influencing the election. It's great if you can. But this is about standing up for righteousness. A vote for righteousness, and against evil, is never wasted. Are we trying to glorify God, or worrying about whether we can feel important/like winners?

Thankfully, there is a choice. This election, I'm happy to see that there is at least one candidate running that doesn't make me cringe over his position on any policy that I know of. I won't go into every little detail of why, here, but that candidate is Ted Cruz.

Here are the main, non-policy-related reasons for my endorsement:

1. He might actually be a Christian. He doesn't have to be, to be a good candidate. And a true believer may not be a great leader. My understanding is that Ronald Reagan was a believer, but he wasn't altogether savvy in managing people in his administration. Cruz is a politician in a good way, in that sense. But to the point: his priorities are God first, and everything else second, which is a sight to see when nearly every politician in the country seems to be political for the sake of being political (also known as "establishment" politics).

2. What most encourages me in this regard is twofold. He can a) actually give credit to his opponents, without acting like the campaign is a zero-sum game that means he has to put everyone else down, in order to win. This is shown in his C-SPAN video calling Mitch McConnell a liar, where he gives credit to Bernie Sanders for opposing crony capitalism, and credits Marco Rubio for his defense of Israel. Second, he b) has self control. Compare how he reacts to being personally attacked, to how Donald Trump reacts to ... well, anything. One of the main words I can think of to describe the difference between the two, is that one lacks self control, and the other is self controlled. Christians who are evaluating someone else's profession of faith should take both of these two points under consideration. They, especially the latter, demonstrate spiritual fruit. And even if they don't prove that Ted Cruz is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and calm with a spiritual calm, they definitely make him stand out as a candidate. Wouldn't it be nice to have a president who doesn't feel compelled to lie or ignore the accomplishments of his opponents lest it conflict with his narrative? Wouldn't it be nice to have a president who doesn't lash out when attacked, but keeps his cool and doesn't let his enemies see all the cards he's holding?

3. His track record is consistent in one key regard: he holds the policy positions he does based on what the Constitution and the Law allows him. Why is he for deporting illegal immigrants? Because federal law requires it. It's not that he necessarily thinks that's the best solution to the issue moving forward, but he, unlike Obama, Trump and Hillary, recognizes that you can't just take whatever position on an issue you want, regardless of what the law says. If a candidate opposes deporting illegal immigrants, at present, then that candidate is advocating for violating federal law as President. In a Constitutional Republic, what we should do, is to change the law. Then go about being lenient with regards to who to deport. Otherwise you're lawless. And the candidate who disregards the law can't be trusted because you can't know what they're going to do -- the law is no indication.

That's why Cruz shines. Immigration isn't even a huge issue for me personally - I live in the Mid-Atlantic, and my career will not be one that cheap labor competes with, so I'm not being directly hurt. But I am so impressed by Cruz's submission to the law, that this alone makes him the best possible candidate in decades. You can actually trust him, because he will be limited by the law. He SELF-limits. This is another sign he's possibly a true believer. Obama selectively chooses when to disregard the law. Cruz would not. This is one of the biggest points of frustration that people have with Obama. And we have a chance to elect a candidate that will actually be beholden to the law and the will of the people, not to an agenda that he will pursue relentlessly at the cost of weakening the foundations of government.

This will suffice for now. I wanted to post to have something on the record.

~ Rak Chazak

Saturday, March 5, 2016

"Proud to Be An American" - rewritten

What would the words to the tune of this classic song be, if it were written after America entered a time of persecution? Or the inevitable road thereto?

If tomorrow all I see as wrong
was turned instead to right
and my countrymen, in darkness trapped,
would finally see the light
I'd thank the Lord above that He preserved me to this day
'Cause the Cross still stands for freedom
and they can't take that away.

Yea, I vowed to be an American

when at least I once was free*
But I'll still forgive the men who lied
to take that right from me
I refuse to stand up next to you and pretend it's still the same
though there ain't no doubt, I love this land
God save the USA!

From the traitors in the SCOTUS
to the shills inside D.C.
which mock the pains of you lot.
They seethe, conspire, deceive.
From newsstands lined with who's who's
to the online blog charade
there's lies in every American's heart
and it's why we ought to pray

That the proud should flee from America
and return to humility.
Let us not forget the God who died
to save my soul from me.
And I'll gladly stand up (du du dum) next to you, at the firing squad some day
so there ain't no doubt, I'm not a man
who puts country above Faith!

How about it?

~ Rak Chazak

* - reference to a famous Reagan speech.

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free"

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Text quote repost

My friend sends me quotes from what she's reading from time to time. I have hardly any opportunity to make posts, but retyping pithy texts is something I can get away with with my schedule.

"Polygamy is, and ever must be, fatal to female dignity and happiness: this, or at any rate concubinage, was practiced, no doubt under mistaken views, by the patriarchs; not that it was ever positively sanctioned by God, for from the beginning He made one woman for man, and by the providential and remarkable fact of the general equality of the sexes as to numbers, He still proclaims in unmistakable language the law of monogamy, but to use an expression of the apostle, He winked at those things: He did not regard it as innocent or convenient, yet He did not say much about it, or punish it, but left it to punish itself, which it most certainly did."

John Angell James, Female Piety

~Rak Chazak

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Personal Life Update: Short

Just a post to inform that I'm still alive. I've never had such a full schedule before, that I've actually depended on carrying a calendar with me to make sure that I don't miss deadlines for things on any given day. I feel so very 'adult' because of it. It's a different experience, to know exactly just how much time I have--and don't have--to do anything, like studying or blogging, and I think it's helpful to keep me motivated and busy. A side effect is simply that extracurricular activity takes a back seat while I work on keeping abreast with homework assignments, so that I'll still have time to study for exams on top of it.

More to come, just no guarantees on when or where or how much. :)

~Rak Chazak

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Movie Review: Chappie, Jupiter Ascending, Dawn of the Apes, Divergent

What Does It Mean to Be Human?

Each of these big blockbuster movies answers this question in different ways. Perhaps it's a byproduct of our postmodern culture's existentialist angst, but the big-screen movies these days seem to be doing a lot of the following: taking stock of fundamental questions of human nature, civilization, consciousness, matters of right and wrong, etc. If you're watching the action flicks for imagination fodder, you won't be disappointed, but you may miss the overarching plot.

Allow me to invent/define some terms for the sake of this review:

The "plot" is the obvious problem that is directly presented to the audience.
The "sub-plot" is any theme with importance but which may appear to be a distraction at first, since its connection to the plot isn't immediately clear (and if there is no connection, the flow of the movie suffers).
The "meta-plot" is the implicit, overarching theme that the movie makes reference to without ever explicitly addressing. Basically, if you pick out the theme, and ask "what would this cause the characters to be concerned about, or do?" then you have the meta-plot.

Plot: Simba grows up orphaned and has to somehow right the wrongs that his uncle Scar has perpetrated on the African Savannah.
Subplot: Simba's relationships with his father, Nala, Timon/Pumba and other characters.
Meta-plot: the quest to figure out what's important in life / growing up, becoming a man. Whereas the theme is "manhood," the meta-plot could be summed up as "Simba has to discover something in himself (a sense of duty/honor), and/or find his purpose in life, which will drive him to confront Scar, and help him win."

And the import of the meta-plot is communicated more through the subplot than the main plot. If all you're doing is following along CBS-tv-drama-style, you'll know why the characters are going from one place to the next and such, but you won't grasp the significance, and come away with the real message (intentional or unintentional from the director's/producer's standpoint) of the film.

Let's dive in.

****            ****            ****            ****


The last 4 [not-yet-reviewed by yours truly] sci-fi movies I remember watching all had a common theme, explored in very different ways. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes answered the question, "what does it mean to be human?" through exploring the human-like qualities of the fictional ape characters. Chappie asks the question "what is consciousness?" by exploring the journey of learning of a robot, who rapidly traverses formative childhood and copes with the innate badness of human beings as he "grows up." Jupiter Ascending asks, "what is the worth of a society?" or "what makes life worth living?" and answers it through the parallelism of a jaded teenager who feels like she's wasting her life cleaning toilets, compared to jaded interstellar aristocrats who seem to live for nothing but to keep on living. Lastly, Divergent asks whether conformity is necessary for social stability, and asks if suppressing individuality through human government is a) possible or b) promotes peace, or tyranny.

Each film seems to invite the suggestion that how one responds to struggle is what reveals--or defines--one's humanity, and since without struggle, there is no plot, let's investigate the central struggles of these four films.

Last call for spoiler warnings

Friday, August 21, 2015

Joseph Stalin's Relevance to Modern Selective Moral Outrage

"One single death is a tragedy. One million deaths is a statistic."
~ Joseph Stalin, leader of the USSR and responsible for 50-100 million deaths as a result of his tyrannical political regime.
This very line was actually quoted in an article I read in 2009 on the humor site entitled "What is the Monkeysphere?" The presentation makes reference to evolutionary assumptions, but there is a psychological truth underpinning the practical conclusions. That is known as Dunbar's Number, which is variously hypothesized to be between 50 and 300, and it represents the total number of people that any individual can maintain thriving relationships with at any one time. Thriving, so that any impact on one of those people will be emotionally significant to the person who is friends with them. It is only within this theoretical limit that a person has the mental capacity to feel a connection to others, so that they are vicariously affected by positive as well as negative impacts on that second person. Such as promotion, award recognition, the birth of a child....or losing one's job, illness, or death.

Cracked's "Monkeysphere" thesis is that outside of the people we know personally (or know enough about to feel a connection with, as in celebrities or famous people), if something good or bad happens to another person, we simply aren't affected. We don't care, because we don't know. They are too distant for it to matter to us on an intimate level. We can think about it, but we are severely limited in our ability to feel about it.

People do have the capacity to train themselves to be concerned for others that they do not know. We have a great capacity for developing selfless compassion and to practice treating distantly related people with an equity approaching that we give to more intimate friends and family, through the exercise of empathy. We act toward strangers as if it were deeply affecting us or someone close to us, knowing that for that person in question, the pain or joy really is close to home.

But it is not the natural thing for people to do. And even when they do, they often compartmentalize it. The irony is that it's sometimes easier to help strangers than to help people you dislike, simply because you don't know them enough to find something about them disagreeable.

See, it's because the 'Monkeysphere'  finds application both in harmonious relationships, and in acrimonious relationships. Just how you would be more devastated if your spouse, parent or sibling were knifed to death in front of you, but feel a hollow sorrow, or simply hollowness, when you hear of knife attacks on the other side of the globe, you also find it much easier to hate the influential national pundit who is promoting things you think are terrible, than to hate the nameless, faceless foreign terrorist who may or may not be responsible for anything in particular. We find it hard to get worked up about generalities, but when we connect it to something specific, then we become emotionally invested.

Lately, we are being exposed to numerous examples of the tragedy/statistic dichotomy that Joseph Stalin opined about.

Many lions die every year, from natural causes, from hunting, or from poaching, but when a lion with a name, who is described as a "national treasure," dies, the social media sphere whips up outrage.

Upwards of 30 million people are currently using the website Ashley Madison to hook up with other people hoping to cheat on their spouses without being caught, and there is no outrage at all. In fact, the company was planning to go public, meaning that people would buy and sell stocks, betting on the success of a company designed for the explicit purpose of facilitating and encouraging the destruction of marriages. And not only that, but when news broke recently that credit card information from users on this site had  been compromised, there was outrage. Not at the adultery, which is legal, but at the hacking, which is illegal. We now live in a country where violating the trust of your closest confidant is so passe' it's expected, but if someone dares to expose the adulterer, how dare they violate such a sacred thing as another person's privacy?

This is an abomination. Not the adultery itself. The fact that the whole country doesn't bat an eye. The fact that the country not only sees it, not only tolerates it, but defends it and gets offended by those who attack the assumption that your adultery should be kept secret out of respect for you, as if the adulterer's feelings need to be protected! As if THEY are a victim, and not the one they cheated on!
Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. ~ Romans 1:32
30 million adulteries is a statistic.

But one single adultery is a media frenzy.

It turns out that Josh Duggar (and side note: 15,000 US government officials, at last report earlier this morning) was one of those 30 million.

The unknown millions don't cause much offense because of Dunbar's Number -- people watching simply don't know that many people, so it's too overwhelming to make sense to care about. But if someone they know of is involved, then they become more invested.

It's weird.

If what Josh did was considered wrong by the culture, there would be numerous headlines like the following:
"30 Million Shameless Adulterers in the USA."
"Expose of the Shocking Infidelity of 15,000 US Government Officials."
"Hooray! Ashley Madison Hackers Give Cheaters What They Deserve!"

but I have seen none. Have you? What I have seen are headlines indicating shock over the hack, not shock over the adultery. I've seen the morning news indicating that the Pentagon is afraid of employees being turned by blackmail -- but they apparently couldn't care enough to intervene to stop them from putting themselves in positions of indiscretion that could lead to blackmail in the first place. And I've seen the cliche'd criticism of Josh Duggar -- but not for his adultery.

Josh isn't being attacked because he's an adulterer. There's nothing wrong with adultery in the eyes of the nation. So it's not moral outrage. Josh is being attacked because he's promoted, and lobbied for, the advancement of morality that considers adultery to be wrong. He's being attacked because of inconsistency, of living a double life, being two-faced, being a hypocrite. And for once, the social-media complex is right on that fact.

But this begs a very poignant question.

Is this how we treat people who act inconsistently with their stated beliefs?

What a merciless society.

No, the truth is that there is a spiritual dimension to this. The enemies of God (meaning demons) are delighted with the opportunity to attempt to discourage others from considering Christianity, by finding themselves a Christian caught in public sin which they can slander and shame and smear to stain the conscience of every unbeliever who hears the news. Christianity must be worthless, after all, if it doesn't even restrain people from being child molesters, porn addicts and adulterers. So goes the attack.

And also in the spiritual dimension, people KNOW that adultery is wrong. You can't find anybody who would heap so much vitriol (here I'm making reference to social media postings by private individuals, which anyone can find to read with little difficulty) on somebody who is caught breaking their own rules. This sort of hatred is not inspired by conniving contestants on "Bachelor in Paradise," or of partisan politicians who promise to fight corruption, and take massive campaign donations from special interests, or even high profile celebrities who are caught in affairs or divorce.

The animosity derives from a crooked conscience that knows no mercy, which nevertheless has the imprint of the Law of God which inspires revulsion at sin. They hate Josh's infidelity because infidelity is wrong, even if they don't consciously admit it or even know it. They "show that the work of the Law is written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their conflicting thoughts accusing or even excusing them." (Romans 2:15)

The outrage against Josh Duggar is not just a sad commentary on our own nation's hypocrisy and double standards when it comes to morality. It is PROOF that even despite our "liberated" consciousnesses, everyone is equipped with a God-given sense of right and wrong, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20) when denying the Bible's prescriptions for ethical conduct. There is no foundation for morality outside of the Biblical Worldview, so conversely, when someone senses outrage in their heart over the actions of Josh Duggar, their "conscience is bearing witness" to God's existence and the universality and absoluteness of His law. Which means that they are accountable to Him for what they do, and will be judged by His standard.

We are no better off than Josh, then, by the time we come face to face with this fact:

And the challenge I leave to the Duggar Family critics, who don't have the same outrage for the 30 million other Ashley Madison users,

Joseph Stalin mocks you from the grave.

~ Rak Chazak

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Josh Duggar Revisited

I simply can't say it better than this person did.

As for myself, my only response initially was "There but for the grace of God go I."

I had very little interest in the Duggars, except for a mild curiosity, having heard of them through a friend and Ray Comfort behind-the-scenes videos where he apparently knew them personally. It was the media hype that led me to get more involved. There's been lots of opinions, favorable and unfavorable, but very little --though noteworthy where it has appeared-- Gospel preaching. Todd Friel's Christian Post article was one of the few I saw that addressed the initial scandal well. Now when Providence orchestrated it so that Josh's infidelity was exposed in the Ashley Madison hacking scandal , my hope is that Josh can be a model of Biblical repentance, much like the monstrously-immoral King David who, when he got caught having murdered the husband of the woman he cheated with, responded in such a way that God introduces David in Scripture as "a man after my own heart."

Isn't it sad, that though even the nonChristians know that infidelity is wrong, that adultery is legal in this country, but hacking and violating the privacy of adulterers is criminal?

Maybe those criticizing Josh (as their overwhelming primary emotion, rather than sorrow and compassion for those he's hurt) will be provoked by this realization to consider the Biblical foundation necessary for the validation of value judgments about fidelity. Let's pray that souls are saved through this very public scandal.

Again, the link is here. Please read.

~ Rak Chazak

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Poem: Spiritual Eyes

This is rap/free verse. I figured I'd do something different. Basically it's just a long thought with as much rhyming as I could fit in to a page on paper. :)

Spiritual Eyes
Welcome to the beginning of the end of time, and when you find yourself next in line to receive the deceit that's beneath all the lies and disguises, I hope you take note and devote your attention to study all mentions of truth so you won't be confused by emotionalism and half-baked reason, in or out of season, when falsehoods and all good pursuits are reduced to the fruits of intellectualism, or made into a litmus test to prove your patriotism. No, I pray that your eyes will be keen to perceive and discern between true and almost true, you do know who can be trusted, but how can you tell which is which in the field, where the slippery eels who peddle raw deals hide behind every sign of authenticity, concealing their duplicity by acts of omission, with one face in public and one in secret; I tell you, make it your mission to search out their false teaching with which they're seeking to generate division and cause a collision to derail the Great Commission. Who knows whether you came into the kingdom for such a time as this? Don't miss what you're here for, no one can care more than you about what you're burdened to do -- let your yearning drive you to turn your life to an effective tool in the hands of the Master who grants you the zeal to plead and intercede to ask Him to heal the souls of those whose whole life is a joke without hope and an empty lie. The more truth you know, the more fools you hope figure out that they don't know it and need to be found. it's a shame that the same refrain repeats again and again, where people don't study to learn, they fail to discern, and are destined to burn if they don't wake up and TURN -- it's urgent and why won't they listen? The consequences are too severe to be dismissin'. But you can't convert anyone, even yourself, so who can you help unless you depend on the selfless support of the Lord of Hosts who saves to the uttermost and has promised to fight for you -- every word you express is not aimed to impress but offered in prayer for the Father to bless and grant success for His name's sake and not by any other measure -- it's for His pleasure and you heap up heavenly treasure when you trust Him even when the crowd is in a hostile fuss and not a single convert comes up to thank you. We walk by faith, not by sight, and when the night closes in and it might seem like the whole world is against you, don't forget where you are: behind enemy lines, in the fight of your life, with the objective to strive for of helping as many of your enemies as you can to win it. Keep the faith. It's an exciting time to be alive.

~ Rak Chazak

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Boy Scout Shift Was Inevitable, in Hindsight

I realize that the title makes it sound like I was surprised at the change in policy. Not so. I simply want to draw attention to the fact that one can predict things over longer periods of time if an effort is made to keep track of unfolding events and properly extrapolate.

For instance, consider the placement of the BSA change of policy with respect to gay youth, gay leaders, and the disregard and repeal of DOMA.

February 2011 -- Obama orders the DOJ to stop defending DOMA in court.
January 2013 -- ban on women in combat roles lifted by military leaders
May 2013 -- BSA removes ban on gay youth  (scouts)
June 2013 -- SCOTUS rules DOMA unconstitutional
July 2015 -- BSA removes ban on gay adult leaders (scouters)

What's the significance? Only that the purpose of Scouting, from its inception in the UK as well as the BSA's founding ~10 years later, was to prepare youth with outdoor survival skills so that they would transition better into military service. Scouting has always been a recruitment center, of sorts, for all branches of the US military.

So when the military now recruits homosexuals, what logic is there for the military's primary enlistment-driving organization to have restrictions on who may serve, which the military itself does not have?

It was obvious, that when the Military began to permit openly homosexual soldiers, that the BSA would follow suit. After all, because of the close relationship, many campouts and jamborees are held on or near military bases or on public land, and it's to be expected that the US GOVT would rescind their favorable treatment/sponsorship of the BSA if the organization didn't submit to the new morality.

The BSA capitulated without a fight, though, indicating that the leadership is all too keen to please. In light of the rapidity with which they changed to match popular culture, I am truly curious as to whether or not the BSA will soon become 100% coeducational. Will there be a Title IX claim coming soon? What if the girls who want to join claim to be boys (i.e. transgender)?

Hindsight is always 20/20. I'm ready...surprise me.

~ Rak Chazak

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Day That Will Live in Blasphemy

On December 7, 1941, Imperial Japan launched a covert bombing raid on the US Navy's base at Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii. Over 2400 Americans were killed. On the next day, FDR took to the podium and asserted that it would be remembered as "A date that will live in infamy." It was seen as such an atrocity that public opinion swayed away from isolationism enough that America entered WWII, just as the Japanese had hoped to prevent them from doing, with a preemptive strike. But part of the fleet was out at sea, and had evaded the attack.

That was a day that would live in infamy, and which is now almost forgotten. I heard that Japan recently granted, or was trying to grant, itself the right to have a standing military, whereas the occupying US forces had written into Japan's constitution decades ago that Japan would “forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.”

More memorable to Americans, June 23rd, 2015 will not be regarded by most as a cause for despair but a cause for celebration. However, the few Christians in this country regard it as something else entirely. It was on that day that 2 men and 3 women (Justices Breyer, Kennedy, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Ginsberg) usurped the throne of God and professed to create law, let alone ethical truths, out of thin air as if empowered to decree what is good and evil without, and contrary to, the perfect will of God. The opinion, in full, with the dissents, is in a single file here: Obergefell v. Hodges (c. 500 KB)

It was on that day that the judgment America has been heading to was underwritten by its representatives in the abdicated cause of justice. A handful of people have consented to the doom of this country by setting themselves up as enemies of His, and daring Him to do something about it. This is the legacy of the Flower Children and their parents. What will ours be? Will there be anything left to leave?

Romans 1
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting...32  knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

"Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
~ Rak Chazak

Treatise: What's the Deal With the "Friend Zone?"

Talks about boy-girl stuff.
The first time I remember hearing this phrase, it was in a Ryan Reynolds comedy I saw in high school, where the main character was romantically interested in a woman who didn't reciprocate, but considered him a friend. Apparently the vernacular idiom originates from the tv series "Friends," but at any rate, I didn't see the end to the movie. I don't think I missed out very much.

The "accepted wisdom" of the day among adolescent males is that you want to avoid the dreaded "friend zone" because once a girl considers you her friend, you've lost the chance to become her boyfriend. This is based on the unquestioned assumption that men and women cannot be friends prior to becoming romantically involved. It implies that a girl/woman would rather date a stranger than someone she knows. Further, it cheapens friendships by casually disregarding them as anything worth having. The doctrine of "the friend zone" declares that boys should be primarily interested in "getting laid," or at least getting a girlfriend, which these days are essentially the same thing. If a girl is pretty, there is no redeeming value in having her as a friend. And if she won't be your girlfriend, 1) you've failed as a man, and 2) don't waste your time on her.

The fear of being frozen into "friendship" so horrifies modern chauvinists that they'll go to great pains to avoid being the kind of guy that a girl can be friends with, so as to leave her only 2 options: have nothing to do with him, or fall in love with him (not manipulative at all, of course!). The consequence is part of the reason why certain attractive women have difficulty relating to men. Nobody interacts with her normally, so she has no concept of normality. Everyone has ulterior motives, so she's either a cynic, inclined to dislike men, or vulnerable, easily taken advantage of and hurt by disingenuous sleazeballs.

Misogynists have perpetrated a culture of dysfunction. Idiot boys with no respect for women as equals use the words "friend zone" to shame others who are being too courteous to ladies without 'making a move,' and discourage them from being content without intimacy. And many boys/men who find themselves in a friendly but non-intimate relationship with a single woman tend to be restless, frustrated or resentful of the fact that they haven't been rewarded for the time they've put in.

What a shame that many relationships suffer, because young men don't want to be friends with women. What a shame that their insecurity and single-minded pursuit of sexual conquest robs women of healthy relationships with respectful gentlemen who are more concerned with her honor than with their gratification.

Isn't there another way? Oh sure there is. We can stop exposing young women to the dichotomy of "every guy who talks to you wants to sleep with you" and "you're completely alone and no one likes you." But what will that take? Logically, the young men need to figure out that girls are not there for you, let alone for 'the one thing.' That there's redeeming value in having non-sexual relationships. That they can like someone, and not have to act on that by trying to force a "boyfriend-girlfriend" relationship.

But for them to move in that direction, they have to have motive and incentive. Positive incentive, through seeing abstinence as desirable. Disincentivization, through not letting them be rewarded for promoting misogyny, chauvinism, sexism, etc. Girls must stop expecting sex to be a normal part of a casual relationship. Logically, if there's a concern that a guy's just after sex, what's the best way to rule that out as a possibility? Obviously, don't give it to him -- don't let him have sex with you! If he doesn't get what he wants, and he's a shallow fool, he'll leave right quick (in most cases). If sex is not the only thing he's living for, then he'll have integrity and stick around.

This can be expanded beyond sex to include physical affection, kissing, or announcing yourselves as a couple. Some desperate boys can/will hang on as long as they're getting something. The best way to get rid of the ones with selfish intentions is to refrain from any kind of physical romantic intimacy prior to the all-in commitment of the marriage ceremony.

Isn't it ironic how everything always comes around to the Biblical side of things, after a time?


The "friend zone" is a nonsense derogatory term used in reference to a man being friends with a woman without pursuing sexual intimacy, which is intended to shame 'deviants' and justify the chauvinist's view of women as sex objects for his pleasure. It makes men into noncommittal idiots, and women into victims, who either distrust men - to the detriment of their relationships - or trust men far too much, and go in vain from one to the next, searching for the one who won't break her heart.

There is a two-pronged approach to killing this insanity: women must stop rewarding sexists, and men must decide that women are worthy of respect, not to be treated as objectives in a game. Men must get their priorities straight, and realize that integrity of character and permanence of love are more desirable than racking up shallow sexual encounters.

Simply telling them they're wrong won't do the whole job. Evangelizing with Scripture presents a united front, where the claims of "you must treat women ____" are not the disorganized arbitrary cries of feminists, but levied against them with the full weight of the authority of Almighty God.

It is the renewal of the mind by the washing of the Word that supernaturally empowers a man to treat a woman with the dignity and honor she deserves in God's eyes.

If you leave God out of it, have fun doing the same things and expecting different results (something Einstein called insanity).

~ Rak Chazak

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I've Been Here Before: The Manuscript Argument

This theme/series is something I first started in September of last year, with this introductory article. My idea is simply to transparently show what articles I distinctly remember having a powerful influence on me in my process of investigating truth claims beginning in 2010. Each of these articles will be presented in chronological fashion.

So far, I pointed out the "articles we should not use" link from AiG (at the above blog post) as the first epiphany I encountered, which immediately demonstrated the intellectual honesty of Answers in Genesis. Subsequent to that, I looked at their Statement of Faith. Keep in mind that I wasn't doctrinally reformed at this point. But I could tell they weren't complete crazies, so I decided to tentatively trust their claims, but be ready to question the more extreme assertions. And so I did.

For the next week or two, I spent dozens of hours poring over 'the creationist view' of nearly every secular scientific dogma I'd been exposed to since I was old enough to read. What impressed me most was that I wasn't, largely, told "new information." Instead, the articles used what I already knew, and appealed to my common sense to explain it better. The more I kept reading, the more persuasive it all became. But something began to nag me, and that was that though the point of view was internally consistent, one thing was totally taken for granted in every article: the inerrancy and authority of the Bible. Each article made copious reference to Scripture, but within-article, the interpretation and reliance on those Scriptures was never defended. The implicit argument seemed to be, "IF you believe the Bible is true, and the Word of God, THEN you will logically come to believe what we present in our articles." It was a challenge. I was prepared to believe the Bible is God's Word and inerrant, but now I had to go make sure, and find out for myself.

First, was there enough evidence that the Bible was written when it is said that it was written, and that the original texts say what the modern copies/translations say?

The answer to this comes by way of the Manuscript Argument

That link is dated later than I would have read it, but I recognize the content as something similar/identical to what I actually read in Marc/April 2010.
 Simply put, if we take seriously that other historical documents about other historical figures are truthful in that the events they describe really took place when they say they took place (Herodotus, Caesar, Pliny, Josephus, Aristotle and Plato, etc), then by the same standard of assessment, there is no logical reason to question whether the Bible was actually written at the time period which the Bible's writers indicate that their respective books were written.

And as to whether we can be sure that what the Bible we have now says what the Bible of 70 AD said, if we can believe that what is attributed to Aristotle was written by Aristotle, then we can believe that what is attributed to Paul was written by Paul -- since there are 100 times as many New Testament copies as there are copies of Aristotle's works.

The principle of applying an equal standard of historical scrutiny leads to the confident conclusion that what the Bible says is what the Bible has always said, and that the attributed writers really are the ones who wrote the book, meaning that they were indeed eyewitnesses to their claims.

After demonstrating the historical authenticity of the texts, the next logical question is: does what the texts say, logically contradict, or is it coherent? I dove in headfirst. I went looking for alleged contradictions, making sure to leave no stone unturned. There had to at least be a plausible explanation to resolve each one, in order for inerrancy to be a valid conclusion. And the careful scrutiny of these claims is what I will summarize in the next IBHB article. An address of the many alleged Biblical contradictions.

Stay tuned.

~ Rak Chazak

A Model Answer

I don't know details about Dr. Kent Brantly's faith, but per 1 Corinthians 13, "love believes all things," so I'm accepting it at face value as genuine, absent any knowledge of falsity. What I have seen has been encouraging, and I'm joyful over the public testimony he's given -- not of his medical expertise or experience surviving Ebola, but of how a professed Christian faith works in and through every aspect of life, providing the conviction to step out boldly in whatever happens to be one's earthly passion ("whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might." "whatever you do, work as for the Lord and not for men.")

This is the video of his interview on the PBS Newshour that aired yesterday:

Dr. Brantly was there on account of his recent book, Called for Life, and here is the part of the interview that stood out to me:

HARI SREENIVASAN: What role do you think your faith played in all this?
DR. KENT BRANTLY: That’s a hard question for me to answer, because I try not to compartmentalize my life into, this is my faith life, this is my work life, this is my family life.
My faith is an integral part of who I am. It’s part of the lens through which I view everything in life. So, I can’t separate this experience from my faith.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Some people are going to say, look, the difference might not be his faith. It’s that he’s an American and he got literally the best care on the planet for this, vs. all the people who don’t get that, not just in Liberia, but anywhere else.
DR. KENT BRANTLY: I wouldn’t — I wouldn’t disagree with that statement.
I don’t think there is anything special about my faith that saved my life. If anything, my faith is what put me in a position where I got Ebola. And I’m really thankful to the United States government, to the government of Liberia, to Emory University Hospital, to Phoenix Air, to the State Department, all of the people that played a role in providing me with the treatment I received.
I don’t say that, oh, it was my faith that saved me, not those people. I believe God used those people to save my life, not because of my great faith. It just is. And so I give God the credit for it. But I thank all of those people, and I — I love them.

In isolation, those two answers were excellent. It was encouraging to see that thinking faith get national attention.

~ Rak Chazak

Transcript copied from: 

No Good Prayer...

More from my college friends' texts :)

"When you sigh, "if only my prayer were a true prayer," you must be cautioned, because this thought can contain the notion that the quality of your prayer gives it merit. Humble petitioners know that their prayers have no merit. If you believed that your prayers were "good" prayers, then they would be prayers of self-merit. You would then be trusting on your prayer offerings instead of God's gracious reception--trusting in your works instead of God's mercy. If you are waiting to approach God until you can offer "good" or "true" prayers, you are waiting in vain. Humility evaporates when it recognizes itself. The humble person recognizes his pride. A humble person does not see his own prayer as humble. Praying humbly is asking, "God be merciful." ... Pray for humbling grace, so that you might pray as a needy, unworthy supplicant to the great and holy God of the universe. Every cry of broken heart to God is a true prayer. These are the prayers that God delights to hear."

~ Joel Beeke, Developing A Healthy Prayer Life

Further reading: Donatism

~ Rak Chazak

Who Orbits Whom?

This is an excerpt from Female Piety, which a friend texted me.

"This then is woman's true position, and if anything more need be said to prove it from the records of Christianity, we may refer to apostolic language in other places, where wives are enjoined to be subject to their husbands in all things, even as the church is subject to Christ. Nor is the apostle Paul alone in this, for Peter writes in the same strain. Let woman then bow to this authority, nor feel herself degraded by such submission. It has been said, that in domestic life, man shines as the sun, but woman as the moon, with a splendor borrowed from the man. May it not be said with greater truth and propriety, and less invidiously, that man shines as the primary planet, reflecting the glory of God, who is the centre of the moral universe; and woman while she equally derives her splendor from the central luminary and is governed by his attraction, yet is the satellite of man, revolves around him, follows him in his course, and ministers to him."

~ Rak Chazak

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Text Treatise: Epicurus and the Problem of Error

The Problem of Evil is often easily explained by reference to the ancient Greek philosopher (mentioned by way of identification in the Bible, in Acts, where there were Epicureans and Stoics who wanted to debate with Paul) Epicurus, whose pithy presentation is presented below:

The problem with the Problem as stated is that it does not take into account time. Perhaps God does want to destroy evil, and will, but for the time being has a sound rationale for allowing it to persist. This is, in fact, justified by the Bible:
"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." 2 Peter 3:9

There is also the question of evil being a necessary side effect of the free moral agency of mankind -- Love is given freely by an act of will, so making perfectly functioning automatons which lack any aspect of generosity, grace, compassion, or desire is inferior to a creation that includes beings which have the capacity to love others -- and with it the requisite capacity to choose not to.

But moving on from that, here is "The Problem of Error." It is something worth considering for anyone who claims to be Christian but does not regard the Bible as the inerrant, word for word Word of God.

Did God author the Bible, or men?

If God is not the author, then there is no guarantee of its truth.

Moreover, can God lie?

If there are untruths in the Bible, either God lied, or God is not the author. In the first case, such a being is not to be worshiped or obeyed. In the second case, who knows whether the Bible accurately depicts God or His moral Law truthfully? There is no way of knowing, so there is no reason to give it any greater weight than any other human document.

In conclusion, either God is the author of all Scripture, or it has no authority over the activities of men. And if it has no authority, why heed it?

Either the Bible is inerrant, or you have ZERO justification for the authenticity and veracity of the Christian faith. Which is akin to saying that a Christian has no reason to believe Christianity if they don't also believe the Bible. They are like all the false religious adherents in that their "feet are firmly planted in mid-air." They may be saved, but they're still being foolish.

And in many cases, they're not saved. If you believe God exists, how hard is it to believe that God can make sure that His will is known with 100% accuracy and reliability? It really isn't. So non-belief in Biblical inerrancy, while it doesn't force the conclusion that a person is a false convert (i.e. they claim to be a Christian but they aren't saved), but it is certainly strong and worrisome evidence in favor of that conclusion.

'Which is why it's so important for people to think through this issue and get with the program.

~ Rak Chazak

Text Treatise: How Do We Deserve to Be Treated by Other People?

This was a response to a friend's text. I had expressed frustration with the behavior of coworkers and she'd replied with the ever-relevant "anything better than hell is better than you deserve."

Well, there are two levels of "desserts." The one you mentioned is before me always and is a relished bulwark against pride and resentment. Then there is "what we deserve" in the sense of how other humans should treat us if they were acting in obedience to the Law of God and with the Love of Christ. So there is a sense in which it is wrong how you and I and any Christian is treated -- but it's not wrong because we deserve better on our merits, but because God says that there is a better standard by which they should be treating others. So not a dessert in an ultimate sense, but a dessert in the sense of idealized personal relationships.

Basically the ultimate sense is important to avoid sinning by thinking that we deserve any thing, which is pride: thinking we deserve more than we do, which in an ultimate sense is nothing good, and everything bad. The second sense is helpful in addressing grief and other emotions in response to ill treatment: that feeling such a way is valid and appropriate. You have been wronged, and you are not inherently wrong to feel anguished or even angry about it. "But in all your anger do not sin." It's helpful as a perspective on why it's wrong: it's not wrong, what they did to you, because you're hurt. That makes you the standard, and now we're back to pride. It's wrong because it's a sin against God. David after indirectly murdering Uriah: "against you, and you only, oh Lord, have I sinned." If you should be angry at mistreatment, it should be because they're dishonoring God, not because they insulted you. I try to harness my feelings of insult and turn it into zeal instead. To validate the emotions in an appropriate way, with truth.

~ Rak Chazak

Personal Life Update: Rare Consistency

I joined Cross Country when I was in high school, and was pretty mediocre, at first, but the summer between 9th and 10th grade, I ran laps around my driveway (we lived on what was an old farm, so the driveway consisted of two parallel farm lanes that may have been 1/8 mile in circuit) for 20-30 minutes every/other day. It made enough of a difference that by the spring, I was in such good shape that I decided to take things up a notch. Instead of just running for time, I would time my runs and go for distance. And between the summer after 10th grade, and the end of the Fall season in 12th grade, I managed to run nearly every single day (missing a grand total of 20 or 30 days, perhaps), getting to the point where an average run could easily be a 4-mile or 6-mile jog with the mile-splits between 7:00 and 6:20 minutes. I loved the energy I had as a result, and I want to get back to that. It's only been about 8 years since I fell off my hardcore "run every day" routine, but it looks like I'm finally getting back to it.

Following is a record of my runs (longer than 1 mile at a time -- seriously, if your heart rate isn't at target for more than 5 minutes, it's not worth keeping track of), where splits are separated by commas, and stretches with a walk in between are separated by a colon.
Wednesday, July 29: Run 0520 @ 7:20,7:55,9:35  ; 8:35 Friday, July 31: Run 0525 @ 7:50,8:10,9:30  ; 8:10

Tuesday, August 4: 1mi @ 8:10
Wednesday, August 5: Run 0555 @ 7:52,8:12,9:16  ; 8:15 .
Thursday, Aug 6: Run @ 7:45,8:07,9:21 ; 7:52 Friday, Aug 7: Run @ 8:05,8:30,9:45 ; 7:45 Saturday, Aug 8: Run 0535 @ 7:50,7:45,8:50  ; 7:15

Did you see that? ^ I've managed to control my schedule enough that I've run each of the last 4 days in a row  -- did I mention that all of these runs are pre-dawn runs, so that I can escape horse-flies and energy-draining sunlight? I'm so excited :D

My heart rate within the first 30 seconds after any of these runs has tended to be 160 beats per minute. I don't know if that's good or bad, but it's statistically normal for a strenuous workout according to the little chart at the Y.

Some things that are neat for me to note: my first miles are not stellar--but can be, as the July 29 run shows--part of this is that I've been dealing with figuring out how to avoid chafing my heel. Every day a different part of the body feels whiny, but it loosens up after 2 miles, which I find extremely gratifying -- running makes your body feel less achey? Sign me up!

Also, the standard deviations of the individual runs appear to be diminishing, meaning that my performance is getting more consistent per every individual mile, as opposed to getting really good first miles but worse later miles. Compare the 29th with today, for example. There's a 2:10 minute range for my splits on the 29th, and only 1 minute for today's 3-miler. This shows in my enthusiasm for the 4th mile on each day -- it was worse than my first mile on the day I "bit off more than I could chew," but today I had enough oomph in me to run harder on the return mile. Arguably, though, every time I push myself, it improves my ability to do the same work next time. It's just a matter of pounding the pavement, and soon enough I'll be back to breaking the 7-minute barrier without totally gassing myself.
official Phys. Exam bp: 112/70. Good, but can be better! :D. A young woman in my summer class had a blood pressure of 90/45, I kid you not. The professor explained that as long as you're not dizzy, faint, or weak, the lower the better. Such a low blood pressure (she'd been running 4 miles every day and was training for a (half?) marathon) is indicative of an extremely efficient cardiovascular system. The heart doesn't have to work as hard, and the vessels are in such good condition that there's next to zero risk of hypertension or the associated atherosclerosis/blood clots/strokes that come with high blood pressure. I don't know if I can drop down to her level, but it's something to shoot for.

That's where I am in my journey to become hard-core, once again. :)

~ Rak Chazak