28 April 2010

You got a tat?

One of my squadmates just walked into my room and saw my tattoo.

"Nate, you have a tattoo? I didn't think religious people did that. Doesn't the Bible say you can't?"

"Yeah, in Leviticus 19:28. But Leviticus 19:27 says not to trim your beard."

We launched into an interesting conversation: my squadmate wants a tattoo, but didn't think he should because "religious people" look down on it. He then asked if I was familiar with the hymn "It is Well with my Soul" - apparently, his great-grandfather wrote it. After losing everything in the Chicago fire, he decided to start over with his three daughters and his wife in Britain. He sent his family over, planning to join them soon, but the ship sank on the way and only his wife survived. When he took a boat over, he wrote the song when he came to the spot his daughters drowned.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way
When sorrows, like sea billows, roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul

He and his wife decided to restart once more in Israel, so they began doing ministry there. To this day, my squadmate's family owns hotels and hospitals there, and my squadmate has been there a few times. We talked of the conflict, how the Palestinians have been blocked from his family's hospital. It's a horrible conflict.

We even talked about doing a mission trip there, and I recommended he come to BSU so he can make some connections and maybe we could line something up for the Spring.

I never really thought my tattoo could open doors like that.

RunAmoc now available

Soft Star Shoes has finally released their running moccasin, called the RunAmoc. Guess who submitted the name?

Picture from softstarshoes.com

The shoes have undergone lots of testing since their conception, and they look pretty sweet. They're also available in red perforated leather and solid 'chocolate' suede. The perforated leather will be welcome for summer runs: solid suede can get warm, but it would be good for winter.

They're fitted with Vibram outsoles, in two options: a smooth 2mm sole for street wear, and a bumpy 5mm sole for trail wear.

Some reviewers seem to like them even more than Vibram FiveFingers. FiveFingers will still be best for wet conditions, I'm thinking, but we'll see.

I already ordered my pair - I'll review them once I test them. I think these will be my go-to shoes for general summer wear and may take over my FiveFingers' spot, too.

24 April 2010

Restless

"I could go east, I could go west, it was all up to me to decide..."

I'm restless: I usually am. I want to explore, to experience: the forests, the mountains, the rivers.

I want to go on a trip with no itinerary. To load some camping gear in the saddlebags of my motorcycle and take the roads that look most interesting. To sling my hammock between aspens and birches and mangoves and watch the stars move across the sky. To hop off the bike and run through the grasses, the forests, the surf.

Would you go with me?

19 April 2010

Someone lost the key to my bike room. So my bike, which got wet this weekend, is locked up, and I can neither clean nor ride it.

After yanking on the door to no avail, I changed plans: trail run to who knows where.

A quick run back to my room, a change into my FiveFingers and running clothes, and I was good to go. Headed down the battle ramp, across the parade field, and caught Falcon Trail. It's a sweet trail, follows a ridgeline down to the golf course, then loops around to the south of the base after a jaunt through a pine forest. After the turn to the south, I hopped on to the golf course to head back up, using the mountains as a guide.

Some golfers gave me weird looks, but the grass was soft and the sun was shining. After about fifteen minutes, I found myself back on familiar trails, and picked up the pace to get back to the squad.

Found a couple blisters on my pinky toes - a little bit of sand got in there and rubbed around. No big deal. Vibram's site doesn't list the KSO's as good for trail runs, but I think they are, if you lend an eye to where you step. Running in them feels a lot better, more natural, smoother.

Every time I run in them, I'm even more convinced we were designed to run, and we were designed to do it without cushioning and arch support and stiff soles.

14 April 2010

The missing link

Recently, scientists used Google Earth to find new fossil sites in the Cradle of Humankind. Two of those hominid fossils come before any Homo- species, and a recent Discovery News article says they're the "missing link".

But there are many problems with the article: first, the missing link argument is a terrible argument. When a "missing link" is found, it really only creates two more "missing links", to infinity. To solve the missing link problem, scientists would have to find an infinite number of "transition species".

But, according to evolution, every species is a transition species. And evolution is not linear: it's like a tree. The Discovery article implies these new fossils are the direct ancestors of Homo Sapiens, and that there's one line of direct lineage. There is not.

What can we learn from this? The missing link argument is basically worthless, hominid fossils do exist, and the theory of evolution is a fitting explanation for them.

God created the Heavens and the earth, and he breathed into man the breath of life - that much is certain to me. Science and the Bible must be in agreement: God created them both. I just don't know where the agreement is right now.

A ella

An assignment in my Spanish class presumed I was a poet - which I am not, writing a poem to my lover -which I have not. This, then, is what I wrote. Read it, if you can. If I tagged you, it's because you speak Spanish - no te preocupes, no escribí a ti.

Yo quiero viajar contigo
Por los mares y por los ríos
También en paises fríos
Y tú, ¿vendrás conmigo?

En invierno, iremos al norte
Donde se cae mucha nieve
Pasaremos los noches breves
Por lo tanto que voy a amarte

09 April 2010

Thou shall not murder

It's a tough question: can a Christian fight in war? The Bible seems to go both ways - Jesus told his disciples to love their enemies (Matt 5:44), but he also told them to buy swords (Luke 22:36).

Aaron Stern, Pastor of theMILL at New Life Church here in the Springs, came to talk to one of my Bible study groups here at USAFA. His thoughts and the Bible passages he used are some of the most helpful I've seen as I've struggled with this.

There are three main views Christians take when it comes to war:
  1. Pacifism - the Christian cannot fight in any war
  2. Activism - since all governments are created by God, the Christian is duty-bound by his government to fight in every war
  3. Selectivism - the Christian fights only in just wars
I believe selectivism is the best view, and the one that most closely aligns with Jesus' teaching and the Old Testament. But what is a Just War? It boils down to two criteria: the war must punish evil and/or protect innocence.

This is what God does in the Old Testament - both through and to the Israelites. He uses the Israelites to punish the wicked Canaanites; He uses the Babylonians to punish the wicked Israelites. "He does not leave the guilty unpunished" (Numbers 14:18).

But then, thousands of years later, Jesus comes along. He says things like, "Blessed are the peacemakers" (Matt 5:9) and "All who draw the sword will die by the sword" (Matt 26:52). What happened? Did God change? Is there an Old Testament God and a New Testament God?

No.

Romans 13:1-5 is a critical passage here.
1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
Context is critical: remember that Paul is writing to Christians in Rome. These Christians were crucified, stoned, and burned by the thousands. They were used as torches to light the Colosseum during parties. They were torn apart by lions in the Colosseum. Paul is not saying, "obey this government because it's good," he's saying the government was established by God. That's not to be confused with a theocracy, of course. We must not forget: we may be agents of God's wrath, but that does not mean America is fighting God's war. Believing they were fighting God's war has led many churches, rulers, and nations into trouble: from the Israelites (Numbers 14:39-45), to the Crusaders, to the people of Salem.

But let's get past the context and to the point: God has established the government, and the government bears the sword. The Government is the agent of God's wrath. Today, the military is the sword of the government - and as part of that military, we are the sword. We do not bear the sword for nothing.

However, looking around Romans 13, we see that the end of Romans 12 is all about love: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (v. 21). How do we go from love and good to war and punishment? Aaron Stern made the distinction between civil and spiritual rights: Jesus made it pretty clear that we should defend civil rights - he told his disciples to buy swords (Luke 22:35-39) - but preached peace when it came to spiritual rights.

Why? God's kingdom is not established by human government or violence. When Peter cut off the ear of the high priest's servant, Jesus rebuked him: Jesus wasn't going to save the world with a sword. But there is still a place for just war, since there is still evil to punish and innocence to protect. The Christian soldier chooses to participate in these just wars.

But what does the Christian soldier do when his government engages in an unjust war? He has taken an oath, "without any moral reservations or purpose of evasion", to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States". Well, first of all, I think we can say an unjust war would be against the Constitution. In other cases, the Christian soldier would have to take his cue from Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3).

Some would say that even if the war is just, war is always the greater evil. I disagree, largely due to something I learned from a Rhodes Scholar and Navy SEAL. This guy had done a lot of humanitarian work, and a lot of war. I asked which was the best way to overcome evil. His answer was clear: there are not two options - there is a continuum. Sometimes, both violence and compassion are necessary. To quote the Bosnian refugee he quoted, "Thank you for what you're doing here [humanitarian work]. But what we really need is for the Serbs to stop burning down our houses."

Sometimes, war is necessary. At least, until that day when we will fight side by side with our Lord.