The Spiritual Discipline of Chicken Wings

 wingsI love chicken wings. But I don’t just enjoy eating chicken wings because of their obvious deliciousness. I do it as a spiritual discipline.   Before you dismiss me as either being sarcastic or idiotic, hear me out. I am being serious. Eating Chicken Wings is a Spiritual Discipline and I will explain how.

I owe my conversion to the joy of Chicken Wings to a friend inviting me to partake. When I declined, he inquired as to the reason I would refuse such culinary awesomeness. I responded that it was because of the bones. “Well then I got good news,” he said cheerfully as if he was about to both make my day and debunk my objection in a single swoop.  I sat afraid at what he would say next, anxious he was about to claim that “boneless” chicken wings were anything other than glorified chicken tenders which spared grown men the humiliation of ordering off the Kids Menu. But he ended the sentence with insight not just into wings but into the world, “You don’t have to eat the bones….you just eat the meat and spit out the bones.”

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How to Anger English Majors

I love languages.  I specialize in the “dead” languages of Greece and Rome.  But the history and development of languages has always fascinated me.  I was hooked the first moment I heard about Indo-European (which was first hypothesized by William Jones, whom I hope is a long lost relative).    One thing I firmly believe about language is that grammar is primarily descriptive not prescriptive.  Though it does give us rules about (prescribes) HOW to speak, it is mainly a reflection of (describes) how we in fact DO speak.   Languages change.  And as languages change, so do the rules.

One group of people who just don’t get this is English majors.  Maybe because they enjoy knowing the rules and condescending to those who don’t, who knows?  And so, in defiance of our self-appointed grammar overlords,  I give you 2 things that are absolutely true about English but which will absolutely infuriate English majors.

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The Jones Hegelian Movie Hypothesis

Summary of the Jones Hegelian Movie Hypothesis:  Every movie is the Hegelian synthesis of two previous movies.

Every truly great idea has a birth narrative.  This particular idea was conceived while I was departing the theater at the conclusion of the movie Pearl harbor…you remember, the one with Ben Affleck and that other guy….as I was walking to my car, I realized I had seen this movie before…twice…or more precisely, I had seen pieces of this movie in two previous places.  Pearl Harbor should have been subtitled: Saving Private Titanic.  And that’s when the idea for the hypothesis hit me.  That is when I realized that every movie can be understood as Hegelian synthesis of two previous movies.  Continue reading

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Shepherding a Child’s Thumos

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Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.
-Colossians 3:21

When it comes to parenting, the verse I keep coming back to as the cornerstone of my parenting philosophy is Colossians 3:21.   Paul commands us to parent our children so as not to provoke, irritate, exasperate, embitter, or drive them to resentment. He doesn’t say give them whatever they want. He also doesn’t say avoid discipline. Paul clearly expects parents to do things for and to their children that the children might not like (hence the command in the previous verse to the children to obey) but Paul desires parents to treat their children in such a way as not to embitter the children and more importantly so that they don’t lose heart. The Greek word heart here is “thumos”, and means “strong feeling and courage.” A person without a thumos has become discouraged, passionless, timid. We don’t want children like that. We want obedient and respectful children…but children that still have their thumos, their passion, their life, their energy, that drive that makes them uniquely themselves. Continue reading

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Chesterton on Easter

“On the third day the friends of Christ coming at day-break to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.”
-G.K. Chesterton
The Everlasting Man

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Jack Bauer Ethics

In honor of the reboot of the TV show 24, here are some thoughts I had regarding its original protagonists Jack Bauer.

To be honest, I was never a huge 24 fan.  The first time I saw it, I loved it.  Eventually though, the premise gets a little too predictable or tired. Not everything fits neatly into 24 hour-long episodes.  One thing I always admired, though, was the consistent moral position of Jack Bauer.  Continue reading

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Scylla and Charybdis: Between Fear and Courage

According to Greek Myth, Scylla (pronounced SIL-ah) and Charybdis (pronounced kah-RIB-dis) were monsters that inhabited opposite sides of a channel of water, sometimes imagined as the Strait of Messina separating Italy from Sicily.  Scylla, a former lover of Poseidon, had been transformed into a hideous beast by the poisoned bath salts of Poseidon’s angry wife Amphitrite.  Charybdis was a massive underwater beast, later rationalized as a whirlpool, that would drink in ocean water three times a day and spew it out again.  Sailors had to choose how to navigate the hazard.  If you sailed too close to Scylla, she would snatch 6 people from your ship, but the rest would survive.  If you went to close to Charybdis, you risked your whole ship being sucked down and destroyed.  “Caught between Scylla and Charybdis” was the ancient equivalent to our “stuck between a rock and a hard place.”  Continue reading

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Wrestling with God’s Wrath

“The Wrath of God.”  Just say the phrase and I guarantee you people will cringe.  I know I do. If there is any attribute of God that no one wants to talk about its His Wrath. Maybe some people want to…hose weird people on the news that give Christians a bad name by thumping their Bible and taking pleasure in telling people they are gonna burn in hell.  But for most of us.  The wrath of God is at best an uncomfortable topic and at worst a source of fear.  But if we will look beyond our surface gut response, if we will wrestle what the wrath of God really means,  we will be shocked to find something incredibly important, significant, satisfying, and helpful.  Continue reading

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Anfractuosity: The Case against Christianity as Wish Fulfillment

A common criticism levied against religion generally and Christianity specifically is that it is simply wish fulfillment, a human invention to help us manage our anxiety in the face of a chaotic world and eventual death.  Wanting something to be true doesn’t make it true.  And Christianity is just whistling in the dark to keep our hopes alive.

Some answer such arguments by saying that just because we desire it to be true, doesn’t mean we are inventing it.  Starving people didn’t invent the idea of food.  Human longing could be an indicator of truth as opposed to falsehood.  Others counter that advocates of wish fulfillment desire Christianity to be untrue and therefore, using the same criteria, their position can equally be falsified as wish fulfillment.  To my mind, the most satisfying answer to this objection, an answer that honestly deals with the objection rather than obfuscate or accuse, comes from C.S. Lewis’s work The Problem of Pain.  Continue reading

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Robinson Crusoe and the Goodness of God

Most people haven’t read Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe.  When asked, most people muster a vague recollection of a story involving a man shipwrecked on an island, learning to live in a primitive wilderness all by himself. Many who attempt to read it either lose interest because Crusoe doesn’t even get shipwrecked on the island for several chapters. (much like Moby Dick, which takes a hundred pages to get Ishmael out to sea).  Those that persevere frequently complain that the book becomes a tedious literary version of a survival guide, a “what to do if you are ever stranded on a desert island,” kind of book.  Most people, not needing such a manual, pass on the opportunity to read this work…to their loss.  Robinson Crusoe is more than just a Swiss Family Robinson-style book on how to survive in the wilderness.  It is a meditation on the Goodness of God and mystery of Divine Providence.  Defoe’s preface, which is not included in many modern editions for some reason, makes this point explicit: Continue reading

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