We walk along the shore to our favorite fishing spot. I walk on the sand. He walks on the water.
Though we left early, the sun is already beating down on us. I look forward to reaching the coolness of the cove. Our tackle boxes are blessedly light. We have brought no food; we will eat only what we can catch.
I lower my protesting body onto the ground, shifting to find a comfortable seat. I am not as young as I used to be. He — he seems just as old as he always did.
We cast our lures. He leans back, stretch his arms, and adjusts his hat. I pull up a blade of grass, and reflexively begin to chew. I close my eyes.
I pop the clutch, ram the gearshift into place, tap the breaks. Swearing, I yank the wheel right to avoid the crash just up ahead. I don’t even allow myself time to think about the fate of #51 and #132, though I’ve known them both for years. I see an opening, and I lower my foot to race towards it.
The Malacci brothers are right on my tail, like a pair of yapping hounds scenting blood. I ignore them, for now. My eyes are fixed on the Hogg, two lengths ahead on the inside track. He’s good, I’ll give him that. Veins like ice, the mind of a poker player, and more trophies than bricks in the brickyard. He’s not going to make any stupid mistakes.
I grin. That’s my one advantage. I know that the only way I can win is by taking gambles no sane driver would consider. I slow down almost imperceptibly. The roar of the Malacci’s engines tells me they’ve taken my bait. It is soon drowned out by the beating of my heart. As if in slow motion, everything finally clicks into place.
This is it, the moment I’ve been waiting for. My chance to shine. All the years of study, the endless hours on the track, the sleepless nights, the humiliating defeats, it all comes down to this one split second of action.
I slam the pedal to the metal…
“How’s work?” he asks.
“Stressful,” I reply.
She is the embodiment of beauty. And as deadly as she is beautiful.
I crouch motionless on my branch, watching her. I’ve been at this for days, weeks, months. Maybe years. She must be aware of my presence, but gives no sign. Or perhaps even no thought. To her, I might just as well be another part of the jungle.
My mouth goes dry. I tighten my hands on the vine net I have so carefully woven during my long vigils. Tracking her movements. Learning her patterns. Identifying her weaknesses. Measuring her strength.
This will not be easy. If all I wanted was to kill her, I could have done that long ago with the spear back in my cave. It is easy — and tempting — to lob death from a distance.
But her beauty has captivated me. It is the height of folly, I know — but I mean to capture her. I should have slain her the first day I saw her, when I first discovered a feline predator had invaded my hunting grounds. There’s plenty of game to go around; but a man alone like me can ill afford to take chances. One swipe of those knife-like claws and my life’s blood would fertilize the ground.
True, she has never shown an inclination to attack; though she would give a warning growl if I prowled too close to her kill. But this is my land. I have conquered it with my own blood and sweat, using tools shaped by my own two hands. I will not spend my life skulking about in fear. Yet neither do I dare harm this creature of the night who brings beauty and danger to my home.
I must master her, or die trying.
I measure the distance between us, and I pounce…
I pause to catch my breath, straightening my arms and legs to hold my back against the side of the ventilation shaft. Getting into the building was child’s play, and even a 100-foot climb like this one has become routine. The real danger lies ahead.
I close my eyes to review the mental map I had so laboriously constructed. As I do, visions unbidden unfold behind my eyelids. The explosions that started me on this perilous quest. The shining city I hope to build. The years I’ve spent toiling in the shadows, with countless more yet to come.
I shudder, remembering the close calls and failed missions that litter my past. Then square my shoulders, glance upward, and resume my climb. No time for fear. Or regrets. I’ve got a job to do.
I finally reach the horizontal shaft that will take me to my destination. It is low, but wide. I spider crawl for a dozen or so yards until I reach the dim light of a vent. Glancing within, my breath is taken away by the beauty of the jewels I have to come to steal: a brilliant sapphire and a fiery ruby. Woven about with lasers, booby traps, and alarms. Timing is everything. The slightest false step and all my hard work will be in vain.
I slowly lower myself on a winch to avoid activating the motion detectors. I puff smoke into the room to reveal a maze of lasers, then contort my body into unnatural positions to reach the glass case containing my prize. I hold my breath as I delicately trace a circle using my diamond cutter. I pull on the suction cup, and the disc pops out easily.
Too easily, it turns out. The case was filled with gas under pressure, which the chemical sensors in the room quickly sniff. The darkness is shattered by wailing klaxons and blinding spotlights. I shade my eyes and look around for the inevitable response.
From a series of concealed hatches in the roof pour a stream… of monkeys? Howler monkeys gibbering, swinging, tossing fruit. And other things.
I sigh as I sink down the floor. Monkeys. Why did it have to be monkeys…
“Yeah. I know, son. Trust me. I know.”
He turns and looks me in the eye.
“Don’t worry about it. You’ll do fine.”
I leap upward, arms stretched to the extreme. My fingertips barely graze the leather, but somehow catch hold. I land hard, my legs already pumping. I stagger, but keep my balance. It is a long way to the end zone, but there’s nobody in front. The crowd goes wild.
I glance back. The cornerback who leapt for the ball with me is just now scrambling to his feet. Out of the corner of my eye I glimpse the Man who passed me the ball. It should be impossible at this distance, but I could swear I see him wink.
He has given me everything I need. All I have to do now is run the race that is set before me.
I lift my eyes, and charge…
Yesterday my precocious 4-year-old said he wanted to be baptized. I don’t think he’s ready yet; our church doesn’t baptize kids until they are at least seven.
But, how would I know if he was ready?
What is the minimum someone needs to truly understand in order to authentically embark on a lifelong journey of discipleship? In short, how should you explain the gospel to preschoolers?
At Catalyst One Day, Pastor Andy Stanley explained how North Point Community Church‘s Sunday School curriculum focused on hammering home a small set of basic truths at each stage of life. Surprisingly, perhaps due to the decentralized nature of North Point’s ministries, I couldn’t find them written down in one place. Here’s what I’ve been able to compile.
We have decided that our primary goal in Waumba Land is to introduce our kids to their heavenly Father. That’s why everything that we teach can be boiled down to the following Three Basic Truths:
- God made me – CREATOR
- God loves me – FATHER
- Jesus wants to be my friend forever – FRIEND
We want our kids to know:
1. I need to make the wise choice. [Wisdom]
2. I can trust God no matter what. [Faith]
3. I should treat others the way I want to be treated. [Friendship]
1) Authentic Faith
You have to believe and trust in Jesus Christ as your personal savior if you want to go to heaven. But faith in Christ also allows you to live on earth in a daily relationship with a heavenly Father who loves you unconditionally. As an all-knowing and all-powerful father, you can trust him to lead you the right way.
2) Spiritual Priorities
God designed you to have a relationship with him. Your intimacy with him will provide the foundation you need to face whatever life can possibly throw at you. His friendship with you provides ultimate fulfillment and security.
3) Moral Boundaries
Purity paves the way to intimacy. The most important thing you can do is to establish specific guidelines in your dating life. You need to learn how to protect your body and emotions by honoring God’s plan for sex and morality.
4) Meaningful Friendships
Your friends determine the direction and quality of your life. If you walk with the wise, you grow wise. Spending time with the right kind of friends definitely helps you grow in a positive and healthy direction. Scripture also teaches that the companion of fools will suffer harm. Learn to build healthy friendships and avoid unhealthy friends.
5) Wise Choices
In light of your past experiences, present circumstances, and future hopes and dreams, you need to ask yourself, “”What is the wise thing to do?”" Good decision-making is more than simply choosing between right and wrong. It is the skill of applying scriptural principles so you can make smart choices that will protect your future.
6) Others First
Scripture teaches that God has created you to do good works and that he has given you unique gifts and talents. Discovering those gifts and using them to make investments in others is the key to lifelong fulfillment.
7) God-Given Authority
To have authority, you must be under authority. The parents, teachers, and leaders that God has placed in your life are there to guide you and guard your potential. The greatest lesson you can learn is to respect and honor those who are in authority.
My son Rohan is now “4 and 3/5ths” and will be graduating from Hearts and Hands Christian Preschool in the fall. We are wrestling with which school he should attend next. The primary criteria are:
- Christian formation
- Academic challenge
- Convenient location
This appears to be Open House season, so I need to compile a list of candidates to start scheduling and ranking them. I figured I might as well do it online in case others find it useful or have suggestions.
The list below is based on the above criteria. The further it is from home (Santa Clara) or work (Cupertino/Sunnyvale), the more outstanding it needs to be in other dimensions for me to consider it.
- Area Schools | Santa Clara Christian School Area Schools | Association of Christian Schools in the Santa Clara California Area
- Santa Clara County, CA Private Schools | PrivateSchoolReview.com
- Best Santa Clara, California Private Schools. Compare, reviews & ratings.
- Private elementary schools Santa Clara, CA [Yelp]
- Map | Santa Clara Christian School Map | Association of Christian Schools in the Santa Clara California Area
Schools to evaluate (top picks in bold)
- Achiever Christian School | 540 Sands Drive San Jose CA | Jan 26 @ 11 AM
- Bethel Lutheran School – 10181 Finch Avenue, Cupertino | Jan 13 @ 12 PM
- 1175 Hillsdale Ave. San Jose, CA | Calvary Christian Academy
- Campbell Christian Schools | Christian Education | Campbell, CA 95008
- Casa di Mir | Montessori School | 90 East Latimer Avenue Campbell, CA 95008 | Jan 27 @ 2 PM
- Champion School – 4660 Erastus Dr, San Jose | Jan 24 @ 9:15 AM / Jan 27 @ 10 AM
- challenging curriculum without excessive homework burden
- limited parent access to teachers (?)
- Challenger School | Jan 23, Feb 2, 7, 15
- Map - Strawberry Park, off Lawrence Expwy
- Grace Christian School! | 2350 Leigh Ave. San Jose, CA 95124
- One-room schoolhouse
- Los Altos Christian Schools | Feb 7 @ 9 AM
- Los Gatos Christian School | Jan 26 @ 10 AM
- Milpitas Christian School | 3435 Birchwood Ln, San Jose
- Monarch Christian Schools | 1715 Calaveras Blvd, Milpitas | Jan 25/31 – Feb 7/15
- Monarch Christian Schools are based on Christian, Biblical principles and beliefs. A strong foundation in the basics is blended with the “hands-on” Montessori techniques.
- 1715 Calaveras Blvd., Milpitas, CA 95035 – Google Maps
- Monticello Academy: Philosophy
- Rainbow Montessori Child Development Center
- San Jose Christian School | 1300 Sheffield Avenue, Campbell
- Santa Clara Christian School – Santa Clara Preschool | Santa Clara Elementary | Jan 24 @ 6:30 PM
- Santa Clara 220 Blake Ave | Sierra School | Feb 12 @ 10 AM
- St. Clare School | Jan 27 @ 9:30 AM
- St. Timothy’s Lutheran School | 5100 Camden Ave. • San Jose | Feb 2 @ 9 AM
- Sunnyvale Christian School | 445 S. Mary Ave. Sunnyvale, CA |
- Valley Christian Schools: Elementary School | 1450 Leigh Avenue San Jose
Secondary criteria to consider include:
- Year-round schooling
- Extended day care
- Hot lunches
- Associated preschool (for his little sister)
This is an expanded excerpt from the emergence discussion from the Partially Examined Life Citizen Commons. We studied the classic More is Different: Broken Symmetry and the Hierarchical Nature of Science by P.W. Anderson. Their discussion software butchered my reply, so I figured I should clean it up by reposting it here.
It is difficult to have productive disagreements around “emergence” and “reductionism” because of the vague, confusing,and downright inconsistent way these terms are used. To help clear things up, I propose we talk in terms of the following levels.
- The Original Physical System. The actual thing “in and of itself” [what Kant said we couldn't actually know] (e.g., water).
- The Theory of that System. A highly accurate model of that system, along with its “obvious” consequences (e.g., the atomic formula H2O).
- Emergent Properties. Phenomena that appear very different than the original characterization of the system, but can nevertheless be derived from it (e.g., snowflakes).
- Fundamentally Different Systems. New systems that appear to rest entirely on the original system, but whose relationship to it can not be formally derived from the theory (2) due to scale, complexity, or added context (e.g., the global water cycle).
- Designed Systems. A system built using components of the original system, yet whose structure reflects the influence of an external system (e.g., a ski slope).
From this perspective, “reductionism” is only of practical value between (2) and (3), and only of conceptual value in talking about (4). Reductionists who try to identify (1) and (4) in the same way as (2) and (3) are overreaching.
On the other extreme, we have creationists who equate (4) with (5) — and too often get away with it because their reductionist opponents who equate (4) with (3) are making equally-faith-based arguments!
The poster child for this sloppy use of terminology is the idea that “non-deterministic consciousness emerges from the interaction of deterministic atoms.” While most modern philosophers disagree with that claim, they disagree in very different ways:
- Compatibilism argues that consciousness is also deterministic, but unpredictable, so it feels non-deterministic.
- Panpsychism argues that atoms are non-deterministic, and that their non-determinism “emerges” in consciousness.
My sympathies are with the panpsychists, because compatibilists seem to be confusing the deterministic Bohr model (2) with the underlying non-deterministic quantum system (1). On the other hand, given our current understanding of the brain the panpsychic explanation doesn’t qualify as “emergent” as defined in (3), since we can’t demonstrate how quantum entanglement can exist at the scales necessary to influence neural activity.
Perhaps the best resolution at this point in time is to acknowledge that consciousness is a — at the moment — a “Fundamentally Different System”, and be humble about the fact that better theories (2) or derivations (3) may or may not show it to be emergent in the future.
One of the most controversial aspects of Knight Club is that it treats pride (“By Myself”) like anger (“Not Fair”): an emotion which is prone to sin, but is not necessarily a sin — and can even be a virtue.
While it is true that the vast majority of Bible verses mention pride in the context of sin, a number acknowledge its positive role. Here are some that are often translated using the word “pride.” The words “glory” and “boasting” are also used. The point isn’t to quibble about specific words, but to point out that the same general concept (independence, ambition, self-reliance — whatever you want to call it) can lead us towards both good and evil, depending on whether it is submitted to God.
- Galatians 6:4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,
- Romans 15:17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.
- Romans 11:13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry
- Romans 4:2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about–but not before God.
- Philippians 1:26 so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.
- 2 Thessalonians 1:4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
- James 1:9 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.
As well as a few of the negatives, for comparison:
I want to be a Whole Christian.
I want to love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength, and be part of a worshipping community with others who do.
I want to love my brothers and sisters the way Christ loves me,
my neighbor as myself,
and my enemies.
Especially my enemies. For I have discovered that I only see the log in my own eye after I find grace for the speck in someone else’s.
Christianity has been practically defined by our divisions and labels since at least Acts 6, if not Mark 9. I myself have enjoyed many such labels over the years. Protestant. Fundamentalist. Conservative. Evangelical. Reformed. Orthodox. Charismatic. Postmodern. Missional.
I continue to honor and cherish those traditions, even as I critique them. But I no longer want to be defined by them. Especially since they are largely defined by what (and who) they are not.
I want to embrace all of Christianity. Not just the Catholics, liberals, and traditionalists who disagree with me on doctrine and practice. But everybody and everything that has been part of Christian tradition — the good, the bad, and the ugly. The heretics and the persecutors. Torquemada and televangelists. Crusaders and Conquistadors. Pedophile priests and southern slaveholders.
I don’t agree with them. I have serious doubts about whether I’ll see some of them in heaven. But I am content to let Jesus sort the wheat from the tares at the end of the age.
Because all of them are my people. Their sins are my sins. Their failures are my failures.
For only by embracing their failure can I hope to transcend it; instead of repeat it.