Refusing to Remain Silent

Testing, testing. Is this thing on?

It probably isn’t, but here I am anyway.

A lot has happened over the course of the year since I last wrote here.

My wife Jade and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary this month, not with fancy gifts but with several special dates over the course of this past week. Notably, we stuffed ourselves senseless at Willie & Reds in Hagerstown, Indiana; I had never heard of the place before, much less eaten there, but their smorgasbord’s food was delicious, the selection right up my alley. I’m glad Jade introduced me to it! It was, I think, our second choice; I wanted to revisit the restaurant we ate at in Metamora, Indiana, on our wedding day, but they’ve since closed down.

Three years doesn’t seem like such a long time, but Jade and I have been together since my daughter was about a year and a half old; she’s five now, so damn near literally, Jade and I have been together for a lifetime, if not our own lifetime, yet.  Continue reading

Christianity Needs a Preacher

I once wanted to become a preacher.

I believed so fervently in the Bible that the thought couldn’t escape me that the more I learned about it, the more I should share what I learn with others. It felt only natural. (Or supernatural, as it were.)

My church gave me a few opportunities to preach, and I cannot lie, it was fun. I knew what to say to get shouts of “amen!” and “preach!” from the pews, and when up there, my usual fear of public speaking seemed to fade completely.

Those opportunities came when I was a fairly cookie-cutter Baptist fundamentalist. I stuck to the doctrine and expressions and talking points that were oh so very familiar to the listeners.

I preached, but I didn’t challenge.

I didn’t challenge because I wasn’t challenged.

Baptist fundamentalists, not unlike so very many other sects of Christianity, have a groove into which most of their adherents can fit into without causing much friction.

Far too closely to the end of my life as a Christian, though, I learned that Christianity cannot exist in a frictionless environment, that Christianity must shatter the grooves so many people fit snugly into, upending not just worldviews but whole lives, redefining the fates of its adherents in such a way that, frankly, I had never seen before.

I never had the opportunity to preach this radical new (ancient) form of Christianity. My faith was swallowed up by knowledge, and so I cast off the vestiges of Christianity.

Part of me regrets that decision.  Continue reading

Christianity Is under Attack‽

The first chapter of Ken Ham’s The Lie begins with a bold statement: Christianity is under attack! I’ll let the inimitable Jon Stewart speak on that notion as only he can:

Yes, the long war on Christianity. I pray that one day we may live in an America where Christians can worship freely! In broad daylight! Openly wearing the symbols of their religion… perhaps around their necks? And maybe — dare I dream it? — maybe one day there can be an openly Christian President. Or perhaps, 43 of them. Consecutively.

Christianity has a pretty sweet ride here in the United States. In my county alone, there is just about a church for every 250 people; they’re everywhere! Pastors and church leaders are respected members of the community. Church or worship service-like programming can be found on television at all hours of every day. The President of the United States has a spiritual advisor who is a Christian, and next to a highway in Kentucky, a 1:1 scale model of Noah’s ark stands as a brazen testimony to Judeochristian fundamentalism.

If there is an attack on Christianity, at least here in the United States, it’s not a very overt attack. So let’s look at what Ken Ham is talking about here. Continue reading

keyboard keys on a styrofoam background; the keys spell out "FUCK HATE"

When Hate Hits Close to Home

Update: WTHR covered the events described below.

Twenty-one years ago, I met a kid in the neighborhood my mom, my sister, and I had moved into. It was a Friday afternoon, and we hung out on our front porch, looking at and trading collectible comic book cards, a hobby I had recently taken up and which he was leaps and bounds ahead of me in.

We were well underway with our card trades when my dad arrived to pick my sister and me up for the weekend, at which point my friend and I realized we didn’t even know each other’s names!

As we got to know each other, I’d learn that Chris — his name is Chris, by the way — very much enjoyed comic books; if memory serves me, the walls of his room were lined with comics displayed in plastic sleeves. I’d also come to find out that the guy had a passion for pranks. I remember he tried to convince me that he had a twin, and that I could tell them apart by the direction the hair swirled on the crown of their head. Chris also had a few of the younger kids in the neighborhood convinced that behind the shrubs by his house was a portal which led to a realm of dragons, so that was fun.

As we grew up, I moved to a neighborhood a few streets over and made friends with a new group of kids. Of course, I had to bring Chris into that group! He fit right in, and the pranks naturally continued, though usually at my expense, such as when he and our friend Michael tried to convince me that they had become vampires. That was a weird couple of weeks.

Vampires. A monster in the woods near the house. Our own pet cemetery. Believing one of us to be demon-possessed. An exorcism on a household. Fun times! Innocent, naïve times.

I loved my town growing up, and I certainly never understood the hate shown to it by so many of my peers. I still love my community, but it’s far less rosy than it was back in those days of childhood.  Continue reading

Ken Ham posing next to a dinosaur exhibit

Introducing “The Lie: Evolution”: An Examination

Some years ago, never mind how many exactly, I had the opportunity to attend an Answers in Genesis conference featuring Ken Ham, their founder and president, and another gentleman whose name I cannot recall but whose presentation was much more targeted toward children.

At the time, mind you, I was a fundamentalist Christian with a passion for creationism. I spent my time debating the merits of “creation science” in a number of online forums, and greatly enjoyed seeing the Ken Ham live and in person. I even dropped $60 or so on a collection of around ten Answers in Genesis publications.

cover art of "The Lie: Evolution," featuring an apple-shaped globe with a bite having been taken out of itAmong those books was The Lie: Evolution: Genesis — The Key to Defending Your Faith, (Seriously, the book basically has two titles for some reason) written by Ken Ham, “a very popular and effective speaker with American church audiences,” according to the blurb.

When I heard Mr. Ham being an “effective speaker,” he described what he considers one of the primary reasons why so many scientists accept evolution despite having the same evidence available to them as the clearly scientifically superior creationists: they wore different “glasses” which colored their interpretation of the evidence available to them. Continue reading

Raising My Daughter in a Broken World

When I first set out sixteen or so years ago publishing content online, I did so as a naïve child, using what little of a homepage I could build to unite my chat room friends, to socialize with a few local friends via guestbooks, and to share a little bit about my interests.

The skills I picked up would soon be put to use in force when I became a Christian in the fall of 2001. I wasted no time in putting together website after website to spread the gospel of the conservative Baptist church of which I had become a member.

What began as largely static websites would blossom in time to blogs, message boards, and more, smaller projects than I care to try to count.

Much of what I wrote about was very abstract; I dealt with doctrine and theology, and I treated the world as if it were black and white — this is good, that is bad.

There was never a weight to my life, and I remained comfortable judging the world from behind my screen, disconnected from it all.

Flash foward.  Continue reading

A Fully Modular Phone

Almost four years ago to the day, I asked for a modular phone.

In the years since, I’ve learned that I would never want to use an Android device, but still, the idea of a modular phone? It almost happened.

(And yes, I’m aware that there are other phones with modularity, though none were as close to my original vision as Project Ara seemingly would have been. The in-development PuzzlePhone, though? It looks beautiful!)

Featured image: © Google

The Universe in a Teaspoon

There are 1.648×10^23 molecules in 1 tsp (4.929 ml) of water. There are three atoms in a single molecule of water, meaning there are a staggering 4.943×10^23 atoms within a single teaspoon of water.

This means there are more atoms held in that teaspoon than there are stars in the universe (3×10^23 stars, according to research published in 2010 by Pieter G. van Dokkum and Charlie Conroy).

The volume of the Pacific Ocean, according to the NOAA National Geophysical Data Center in 2010, is 1.339×10^23 tsp, which is significantly less than the number of atoms in a single teaspoon of water.

I’m amazed that within something as seemingly insignificant as a teaspoon of water, there might as well be an infinity of atoms. Those atoms can themselves be broken down into subatomic particles which can be broken down still into tinier objects still, such as gluons.

The mind boggles.

a young girl, missing one of her bottom teeth

Jet Fuel Can Catastrophically Weaken Steel Beams

I hope your experience is different, but in my circle of experience, there are still people who well and truly believe that something incredibly conspiratorial occurred on September 11, 2001 — that the impact of two aircrafts could not have caused the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

It doesn’t matter how often the conspiracy theories are debunked, people still believe it.

This may frustrate those of us with a more rational approach to the situation, but it certainly should not surprise us.  Continue reading

Every Viewer an Editor

In the future, realtime graphical rendering will be advanced to the point that no movie will need to be produced using live action. Any plot, actor, animal, location, or prop will be rendered at will according to the preferences of the end user. Don’t like Matt Damon in a movie but do like Ben Affleck? Download the Affleck package (combining animations, skins, and voice patterns), insert into the movie, and there you go. Fancy changing the macguffin from a cosmic cube to a rubber ducky? Swap the prop preference, and wham-o!  Continue reading