Archive for January, 2003

January 30, 2003

“A major television network recently aired a documentary featuring the music of bands formed behind the bars of maximum-security prisons. The producers actually went inside the prisons to film the videos that featured the inmates.

Now this is hard to take in on many different levels. But one thing is more obvious: It is absolutely clear that the great modern crime is to prevent people from doing whatever it is they want to do. One reviewer mentioned the rights of the inmates to get their music heard. Another cited the rights of viewers to know what goes on inside those walls.

But now listen to a comment made by the producer after the filming: ‘The first thing that surprised me,’ he said, ‘was the air? Floating in the air, palpable and just out of reach was the unmistakable stench of evil.’ (Footnote 1: VH1 News, Oct. 23, 2002) What he did not specify was whether that stench of evil came from the inmates, the music, or the producers.

When morality is carelessly sacrificed on the altars of art and information, mention of evil seems strangely out of place. Ironically, before terrorism became a household word, mention of evil on national programming would have seemed out of place, too. As a country, we have grown far more comfortable using the word evil, and with due reason. And recognition of evil is good, in that it leads to a knowledge of the Good, for how could we recognize evil if good did not exist? This is why Lewis called evil a parasite: Evil cannot exist without good.

But there is a danger in labeling evil without understanding our need for the Ultimate Good. When God is taken out of the picture, evil is misunderstood. Apart from God, evil becomes reasonable. You see, Lewis also reasoned that wickedness is the pursuit of some good in a wrong way. You can be good simply for the sake of goodness. But you would not do something wrong simply because it is wrong, but because it was in some way satisfying or useful. The lesson in this must be clear: Apart from God, we readily forget that this same evil, prevalent in the hearts of prison inmates, is present in the hearts of all.

I am reminded of Reinhold Niebuhr’s ripe warning: ‘The final enigma of history is therefore not how the righteous will gain victory over the unrighteous, but how the evil in every good and the unrighteousness of the righteous is to be overcome.’ (Footnote 2: Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man: A Christian Interpretation, Volume II. Human Destiny (New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1964), pp. 43.)

God has done what we cannot do. Jesus Christ is the only man ever to live a perfect life. As a stream becomes stagnant when it is cut off from the spring, good things, like morality, apart from the Source of Goodness become something less. He is our righteousness. In Him alone can we overcome.”


January 30, 2003

It happens when you speak a language all day that is not your native language–you start out sharp as a tack in the morning, conjugating verbs like nobody’s business. Midday, your processing starts to slo-o-o-o-o-w down. By the tail end of the afternoon, you can hardly formulate a syntactically-sound sentence. Your mind is officially a lump of play-dough. It’s time to decompress. This is what I experienced during my year in Barcelona, and am revisiting this phenomenon now every Weds. and Thurs. of the week. Speaking another language is a taxing thing. By the end of a whole day of it, your brain is just tired. Whew. However, the sun is setting on another Thursday, and I’m grateful for it.

A good day. Fog infiltrated the lower level of the Bay Bridge this morn, causing full traffic stoppage at a few points. Yikes! Still made it to my IEP on time; thanks, God. The second IEP of my lifetime went well. Sometimes in my anxiety, I forget that He is right there with me.

My hands reek of play-dough. Time to decompress. Anyone try stroopwafels at Trader Joe’s yet?? WOW. Good stofe.

January 29, 2003

The time: 5:39 post meridiem
The view out of my bedroom window: rosy stratus clouds with gray undertones, moving slowly south
Listening to: The Art of Eating a Peach on All Things Considered

A good day full of kids. Am exhausted and managed to crawl out of it with a few ounces of energy to spare. This due to the fact that most of the boys I saw today in therapy estuvieron un poco, digamos … traviesos. Translation: They were all over the place. Whew. God is good, tho. I am alive.

Preschoolers are being added to my caseload in droves! Okay, not lit. but I have seven which is way more than I had envisioned having at the outset. Thankfully, I don’t see them all at once (that would be nuts). I have four on Weds. and the balance of them on Thurs. They’re pint-sized blessings. (grin) And they’re finally starting to open up and talk now. Woo hoo! Therapy can finally begin.

I have the second IEP of my life-time tomorrow. God, for Your grace.

Have not checked it out as of yet, but my crony Matthew just sent me an email about the Truth and Life Conference at Master’s:

“The Master’s College has a once a year conference in the spring where they bring in some of the best speakers and theologians in America. Last year they had R.C. Sproul, and I think John Piper, amongst others. This year they brought in Art Azurdia, and Erwin Lutzer.

The media group at college has put ALL the Truth & Life conference sessions and the seminars online (free!) at: I especially like Art Azurida’s sessions, Dr. Grant Horner’s seminar, and Dr. Street’s seminar. I hope you find them as enjoyable and challenging as I have.” Worth a glance or a listen.

Am flying to Vegas for a convention this week-end. Can anyone recommend must-sees for a first-timer?

Side note. C. Garamond’s birthday was Sunday, the 26th. The guy was born in 1480 and he fathered the Garamond font. Long live typographers!

January 28, 2003

First day of the spring semester. Hectic morning at Buen Dia, then running across town to school. Passed a new cafe on the way. (Mmm.) Get the car parked in the structure without too much hoopla. Running into classmates in the hallways, we detail winter breaks of yore. Spiraling lines in the bookstore. After class, a line just to get in to the bookstore. Uau. Let out of class early. Wouldn’t be the first day without an early release. A good day.

At the moment, my flatmates and I are discussing the morning shower schedule (pronounced shed-yool). Melissa thinks aloud, Am I getting in the shower at 6:45? I mean, I’ll get out of bed at 6:40 and then into the shower at 6:42. No, it’ll take you one minute to walk to the bathroom, Alejandra replies. At this point, Melissa’s knees buckle. She collapses on the floor in a paroxysm of laughter. Discourse about past shower habits ensues. Are we having this conversation, really?

So, I think I’m going to go take a shower now.

January 26, 2003

Was listening to the To the Best of Our Knowledge on NPR just now. They do a good job expounding the latest scientific theories to the layperson and combining them with the human experience. It’s not a show devoted just to science, however. Their themes run the gamut–language, race, culture, religion, just to name a few.

They just aired a great show on religion and science and the increasing marriage of the two to expain the how and why of the world.

Now more than ever, seasoned scientists are subscribing to Intelligent Design theory. Scientist and writer Clifford Pickover, over his years in his studies, has come to believe that the world we live in seems to almost be tuned to evolve. Take how stars shine, he said. If the numbers that control the nuclear reactions in the stars altered even slightly, there would be no life. Another scenario. If the world were to expand a little faster or a little slower, even by a millionth, there would be no life. Amazing. So, what or who is tuning our world? Could the fine-tuned design of our world be accomplished by natural selection? Evolution?! Bah. Stuff like this only points to a higher being, an Intelligent Designer. Goes the same for morality. Could we have written our moral conventions? Are they historical and social constructs? I think not. The existence of our moral law implies a moral law giver. (God.) Sorry, I know I’m missing a lot of steps in these arguments, but I’ll leave the explication of them to those who do it best … C.S. Lewis, J.P. Moreland to name a few.

The scientific argument for God is an exciting one and if anyone’s curiousity has been piqued even just a little, I’ve heard that Michael Behe and Phillip E. Johnson are excellent writers on the subject.

It’s so thrilling to read and hear about defense of our faith. My prayer for us as believers: that we may be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks us the reason for the hope that is in us, humbly and thoughtfully. I’ll leave my keyboard to eat dinner now.

January 26, 2003

Odd occurrence last night in my sleep. I dreamt that I was crying (can’t recall why, of course). I woke up in the middle of my dream to find my green pillowcase wet and my eyes blurred with tears. Strangeness. Talking to Melissa in the morning, she remembers being woken up in the middle of the night and hearing me cry and say something. Apparently I talk a lot in my sleep, in Spanish sometimes, too.

Woke up to a good day, notwithstanding my soporific crying. Had a let’s-recreate-as-much-as-we-can-before-school-starts-kinda-day.

After a few errands and clips of This American Life, Melissa and I stopped by the Randall Museum for Mushroom Day. The museum sits atop a hill in a neighborhood north of Castro and Market, which makes for arresting views of the City. And arresting views were to be had today, for sure. The weather was amazing, sunny and warm, nary a cloud in the sky; about 65 degrees. And we were surrounded by mushrooms at Randall Museum. Edible and non. Had a really great little something to eat there–mushroom soup–a steaming brown concoction of shiitake and crimini mushrooms, herbed chicken stock and wild rice. Wonderful. Melissa and I shared a mushroom marzipan afterwards. She almost choked on the cocoa powder. Death by cocoa powder.

We then met Brian at Scharffen Berger for our long-awaited tour of the company. Sat for an hour while the tour guide detailed the vicissitudes of the cacao bean. I’ll spare the details. However, I will say that the smell of 200 pounds of cacao beans roasting is intoxicating.

Later, we dined al fresco at Plouf, a French restaurant on Belden Place. Belden Place is little alley in the Financial District closed off to street traffic. It’s lined with small European restaurants cheek by jowl, and on one end of the alley, a basement Burger King of all things. Anywho, eating dinner outside under strings of white lights was formidable, but the food left a little to be desired. Relaxed conversation tho, and interesting people-watching.

Now, am watching My Wife Is An Actress, a French film. All the music in the film is composed by Brad Mehldau. Right on! Pleasant surprise considering he’s one of my favorite jazz pianists. He gets it. He really does. So many of his compositions are thoughtful and melancholy, almost mournful. Conducive to contemplation, def. His treatment of old standards is great, too; deft and complex. A great musician, all around. So young, too.

One and a half more days until the start of the spring semester. *sigh*

January 24, 2003

Time: 10:16 post meridiem
Temperature: 55 F Mostly Cloudy
Humidity: 100%
Fog: Akin to pea soup. The fog horns are sounding.
Wind: Calm 0 mph

My first IEP rocked!!! Which can only be attributed to the grace of God. It was originally slated for Weds. morning, but the mom was a no-show. She simply ‘forgot’ to come, I found out later on. We rescheduled for this morning, which I have to say, allowed time for my nervousness to evaporate. Not to say that I wasn’t all pins and needles this morning. I was, but less so. And I can’t explain it, but as I drove in bridge congestion to Oakland this morning, I felt a serenity that could have only come from my Maker. Praise God.

The meeting itself went smoothly. I thought it was going take forever to run through the Parents’ Rights; in the end, we were out of there in a half hour. The mom and I had some nice dialogue about her son and I was able to impart some advice to her about her son’s disorder (hopefully helpful).

On the way back to the City this afternoon, I called my mom to tell her about my IEP. She asked why I had called this morning at 8:40 am. I told her I hadn’t. The phone rang, and after four rings she picked it up. “Hello?” she said. No one. Dead air. She glanced at the caller ID box to see my cell phone number. She immediately called my phone and left a message saying, “You called?” She said, that at that point, she was driven to pray for me. Her exact words. That was ten minutes before the start of my IEP. Can you believe that she was praying for me at that moment in time?! She had no idea what I was going through or doing at the moment. Just an urgency to pray. The thing is that I didn’t call her this morning. During the time that she said I “called,” my phone was sitting in the deep dark recesses of my purse, on mute and keyguard activated. I really didn’t call her. Can we chalk this up to plain coincidence or divine providence? I would like to think the latter, but in the end, don’t really know. Am thankful for my mom’s prayers, however. For God’s amazing grace and for everyone’s encouragement. Couldn’t have done it without y’all. Thanks for all your well-wishes and eProppage. And funny dialogue. I’m feeling better and am ready to amble through the City once more.

January 21, 2003

How could this happen? I’m sick! And my first IEP is tomorrow! Alright God, will need a mammoth dose of Your grace tomorrow. Keep my mind sharp (because as of now it feels like jelly). May my eyes be steadied on You and not my current sorry state.

Well, I won’t be going into work today (Buen Dia). Yesterday, it was still debatable–thought I could nip this thing in the bud with extra Vitamin C and Wellness Formula. But today, a full-fledged cold. Okay body, I’m resting today.

January 20, 2003

A new day and I have just joined the land of the living. Good morning!

Lord, that I not dred my responsibilities, but be thankful for them. Help me to replace my trepidation with courage in the task at hand. Use me in my weakness, for Your glory.

Col. 3:17

January 20, 2003

It’s going to be harder to fall asleep tonight than I thought.

Found some solace a few nights ago in this passage from Escape from Reason:

“It is an important principle to remember, in the contemporary interest in communication and in language study, that the biblical presentation is that, though we do not have exhaustive truth, we have from the Bible what I [Schaeffer] term ‘true truth’. In this way we know truth about God, true truth about man and something truly about nature. Thus on the basis of the Scriptures, while we do not have exhaustive knowledge, we have true and unified knowledge.” (p.17)

Every few minutes I hear kids screaming and playing outside. My imagination run wild or no? I know that tomorrow’s prob. a school holiday, but what would kids be doing up this adult hour, and outside in the cold?

I wonder how accurate these personality tests are. I just took one on and it looks as though I am what Jung would categorize as an INTJ. Introverted INtuitive Thinking Judging. A slice from the INTJ description:

“INTJs know what they know, and perhaps still more importantly, they know what they don’t know. INTJs are perfectionists, with a seemingly endless capacity for improving upon anything that takes their interest. What prevents them from becoming chronically bogged down in this pursuit of perfection is the pragmatism so characteristic of the type: INTJs apply (often ruthlessly) the criterion ‘Does it work?’ to everything from their own research efforts to the prevailing social norms.”

Hmm, maybe not too far off the mark.

Looking over my schedule for the spring. Arrrgh, am I ever going to have enough time to take Latin?! Will this dream ever be realized. It’s becoming more and more of a pipedream as the years go by …

More random, disconnected thoughts/events of today. Just bought a big book of Mad Libs to be used with some of my Oakland kids in language therapy, of all things. Wow, if I could count the number of hours I devoted of my childhood to scratching in nouns and adjectives in Mad Libs … whatfun!

This always happens … if I stay up long enough I get hungry. A trip to the kitchen, methinks, is in line right about now … what is the least detrimental food I can eat at this hour?