Monday, September 29, 2008

Moose X-ing

Thanks for making this season watchable every 5 days, Moose.
Thanks for all the great pitching duels you had with Pedro back in the day.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Name Of The Best Within Us...

And there it is, Atlas Shrugged is crossed off my list.

A lot of people have seen me reading it on the train, at work, at school. I talk about the book pretty often to those I think that will listen. I think I'm one of 2, possibly 3, people that enjoyed it.

"It's too long! I skipped all the big speeches."
"It's too dense! I don't care about the philosophy. I just want to see what happens next."

But for me, reading it was nothing short of joyous. It was a celebration of values and of goodness, of what is best in a person: integrity.

In fact, that's probably the reason why I've been toying with the idea of turning my back on Christianity as I've been reading it. I don't expect this to cause a big stir. That's primarily because only 2 or 3 people seem to read this anymore. That's fine.

Notice that I didn't say I would stop believing in God. No, I think the preponderance of evidence is too heavy to be dismissed outright at this point. It's that I am thinking about knowingly turning my back. There are several reasons for this and I'll be happy to speak with anyone at just about any convenient time about them. I only have one rule in any conversation: you must never ask me to shut off my mind at any time.

If someone says to me: "You can't know everything, Stanley. Sometimes you just have to believe." I will never acknowledge that person's existence again. That person will have made themselves a non-entity in that world. I will immediately cease any communication and without anything as polite as a "Thank you" or "good-bye" I will end the conversation and leave.

There are many ways to ask me to shut off my mind:
"You just have to have faith."
"Some things are just unknowable."
"You have to let your heart lead you."
"How can you put God in a box?"
"Do you think you can understand God?"
"Logic can't give you every answer."

You see, I think many of those statements have factual value. If anyone says them in the context of a conversation to me, it will not be stated as fact but as a plea and a request. I do not believe I can understand God the way I can understand Newtonian gravity, calculus or a car. But why would someone say that to me unless they wanted me to give up trying to understand God? Or why would someone say that unless they believe my understanding of God is irrelevant? Those are not arguments to believe in God, they are arguments for pneumatic suicide.

And then there are ways to ask me to subjugate my rational faculty to another authority:
"What about all the people that depend on you, Stanley?"
"Don't you care about all the people you teach?"
"Why don't you stop being so selfish?"

If anyone lays one of those claims upon me, they will also become a non-entity in my life. Look, I know my education and intelligence intimidates a lot of people. I don't demand you talk to me. I think that prayer often works. Pray for me if you are scared to talk to me. And if you do talk to me, don't be afraid to say you don't know something. I don't know a lot of things. But I know when someone is twisting Scripture inappropriately to show me something that's not there, and I know when someone is clutching at straws to find some purchase. If you don't know, don't be afraid to say it. I won't think less of you for it.

I'm not at a point where I definitely want to leave behind all that I've invested. I've given about two-thirds of my life in service to God. I had dreams of giving God the rest of it. But there are some issues that demand resolution before I go forward. I will decide one way or the other whether I should.

This is the way things should be. The only way to go is forward. I would have truly died if I did not come to this point. Stagnation is death. Mediocrity is death. Think about all of life. What is it? Movement. Goals. Progress. What is truly still? The inanimate. The corpse. I am thinking about destroying everything that I've spent the past 10 years building but I think I'm in a better position than the church goer who never questions, never asks, never wonders, never grows in anything but the number of Christian songs learned and aphorisms memorized. In fact, looking back on my spiritual biography, I believe it was only the vitality of my walk that could bring me to this point. I only write because I care and I want to know.

But there are a lot of things that trouble me. For anyone that wishes to speak to me about this, the following, in no particular order, are the major issues:

  • Grace: If I cannot earn it, why should I be happy to have it. The idea of grace troubles me deeply. Why is it considered a good thing? It's like becoming part of the great herd of imbeciles who think that winning the lottery is a good thing. It destroys lives. If I cannot earn it, then I cannot earn it. I say this fully understanding that I am a sinner, that I have indeed sinned and that I deserve all the wrath that an omnipotent God can inflict on me.

  • Charity and duty: I remember as a child watching a commercial on TV for the Christian Children's Fund. I felt terrible that I had so much while others had so little. Now I ask the question, "Why?" Why should their need become guilt for my capacity? I do not blame them for their condition. And I acknowledge that they have very few options available to them to change it. I also acknowledge that they might benefit from my spare change and scraps. But why are they entitled to it? If they are not entitled to it, why should I feel guilt about witholding my support?

    I think specifically about my service in church and various fellowships as well. Why is it that the more I have to give, the more I am asked to give? This is the 20/80 rule. 20% of any given group will do 80% of it's work. I look at many groups I've been involved in. Why is it that people with less capability can live their lives in happy stupor while the capable and the skilled must live to serve them? If one is strong, must there be a yoke to tie him down? If the strong enjoys himself, is he not vile and wicked for not spending more time to give to the rest of us. And who is it that gives to him? Why he does not need so very much to survive on, does he? Take some more away from him. Everyone seems to be an excellent judge of how little he needs and how much he can give, but he is a poor judge himself!

    No, that's not exactly right. He may choose for himself. But should he ever choose his own pleasure, he is a wicked man for not sharing it with everyone else.

    The widow and her tithe. I do not understand this story. Are you telling me if a homeless man tithes $50, he is much loved for his generosity but if a millionaire gives $5,000,000 he is a loathsome robber-baron because he did not give $10m? What would be enough? $20m? Everything he had? Why is 'everything' demanded of the rich but not demanded of the poor?

  • Glory: What is glory? Why should God want it? Why should I give it?

  • Pride: Why should someone feel horrible at the fact of his own existence? What kind of anti-life is this?

  • Humility: Related to the above. If someone has a talent, they should never feel joy in it because that is boastful and wrong. When someone compliments me saying: "Stanley you're so smart!" why is it wrong for me to answer, "I know." Or "Stanley you're so strong!", "Stanley, you're such a good teacher!" People tell me that these are gifts from God. And I acknowledge that I have started off well ahead of many other people. But who was it that wakes up at 6:30 every morning to begin his work out. Who is it that works out twice a day, 6 days a week? Who is it that goes online and spends hours researching training methods? Who is it that takes the initiative to educate himself, to take classes, to do homework, to lose sleep and friends? I put in the work and... and I am evil for receiving the credit? What kind of depraved income tax is this?

    "For the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the cattle on a thousand hills are his..."

    To which I ask, then why bother living? Can a man not own the work of his hands?

  • Salvation: We, God's creation, are saved from God because God has sacrificed himself substitutionally, to pay the penalty that he decided for us, without our asking for it, so that we can return to God and live our lives as God's slaves? Did I get the story right?

  • Sacrifice: The more it hurts, the more it's worth. What? Is our suffering a sign of our goodness?

I think that's enough to begin. It's not the total sum and substance. There's more, but those are the big ones. Like I said previously, God's existence isn't something I truly doubt. It's something that I may end up forgetting. These roadblocks have been years in the making and reading Rand has convicted me of how disingenous it was to continue forward while still holding these many doubts, and in fact these kinds of doubts in my heart.

Truly, it's also a result of burnout. No one expects a marathoner to keep running without water or rest for very long. 4 hours? 6? 8? And then what? Death. Car engines, while much more capable, are the same way. How long can you leave an engine at the redline before the thing destroys itself. How long did you all expect to ride this horse? The horse says 'No. Get off my back.' What I am considering is a strike, a work stoppage.

But I can endure these questions a little longer. I don't know how long. I'm still asking them myself. I haven't changed much. The only thing that's changed is that I now want to be a person of integrity. If I have a question, I will ask it. If something troubles me, I will not ignore it.

And really, there's nowhere to go but forward.

Friday, September 26, 2008

This Is John Galt Speaking...

I just got to the section of the book where he begins his speech.

How can a person live, really LIVE, without having read Rand? I feel like scales are falling from my eyes with every turn of the page.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Yankee Stadium Memory: my first game

As tonight marks the end of an era, I'm going to write about the beginning of one in my life.

In my earlier years, I was a fat kid for two reasons. I didn't like exercise or sports and I really liked eating. The two put together was a terrible combination. So I'm not quite sure how it came to be that my friends had decided to take me to a game at Yankee Stadium in the fall of 2000. The Yankees were playing either the Indians or the Braves. I have a feeling it was the Braves, but it doesn't make sense for an interleague game to be so late in the year and I doubt that it was a playoff game.

Just like this year, the starting pitching stunk and put the team in an early hole. I noticed that crowds were booing and leaving the stadium. But what do you know, the 7th inning came around and the Yankee offense came alive and home run after home run left the park. Even with less than full capacity, the energy on a weekday night was nothing less than unbelievable. We eventually came back and won that game and the Yankees made themselves a fan for life.

So as I think back to all the great memories that Stadium has given me, I think the only appropriate honor is to carry an invincible optimism into the future that the new Stadium will produce many more amazing memories to cherish.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Iron Mike Mussina, Baddest Pitcher On The Yankees

Big Moose Love.
The only watchable part of this season is your chase for 20.
I hope you make it, Moose.

God Opposes The ...

An honest question for any reader:

What is pride? Specifically, what is the kind of pride that the Bible speaks about in such reprobate terms?

I am proud of myself. I am proud of the fact that I am proud.

What I mean by this is that when I consider who I am, my existence, I feel a tremendous sense of uplift and... joy. I love my life. I love the fact that I am alive. I am strong, smart, capable and after a little empirical testing, I look good. I am socially calibrated, economically secure, and internally strong. I am young and have a world of possibilities unfolding before me, like flowers before the sun of my capacity.

What should I feel in regards to this besides good?

I am happy that I have this set of circumstances with which to engage the world. Many of them are not of my own doing or action. I make no claim as such. Many have been handed to me. Others I have taken by force of will and action.

I have dignity. There are some things that I will not do. I will not beg, I will not chase, I will not ask anyone for mercy.

I often get the word "arrogant" attached to me. It's because people have this notion that I always think I'm right. That is true. When I speak or make any assertion, claim or statement, I have nothing but the utmost confidence in being correct and any contradictory statement being wrong. If I didn't believe in what I was saying, why would I have said it?

Is this the sort of opprobrium that Scripture condemns? Am I a sinner for living and believing this about myself and about how I should act?

These are honest and open, non-rhetorical questions.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

By Our Love

"Love is a response to our highest values and can be nothing else."

If so, then wouldn't it be madness for me to even think about any long-term relationships at this point? I have goals in my life. One of my goals is to never be at a place in my life where I have no higher goals for which to reach. My greatest fear in life is not death, loneliness, abandonment, any imagined torture but rather to stop living and yet continue to exist.

I look at the great herd of humanity and I am beyond disgusted. Christian, non-Christian, it doesn't matter. I look at the lives they live and find them contemptible, an insult to the gift that they've been given.

"Only I think that it's a sin to sit down and let your life go, without making a try for it."

They stumble and meander through life without any idea what they are doing or why they are doing. They never stop the ceaseless motion of life to consider whether they are actually moving towards anything. My greatest fear is to regress into one of 'those' people.

At this point, my goals are not so very high. I believe that at this point, I am too egalitarian, too generous, too free with what I will accept in other people. I do not demand enough, do not expect enough out of other people. And what can this mean but that I do not yet love myself sufficiently?

Some have told me that with wives and the important women of our lives, we must be gentle and kind. Perhaps, at some stage. But in the stage where I am at, the stage of selection, where I winnow out all my possibilities, it would be best to be brutally selective of what I desire in a woman.

And why shouldn't I be exceptionally picky? I know what I bring to the table. I demand equal value. My love is not pity or charity-based. It is not an act of goodwill. It is an act of supreme self-esteem, confidence and dare I say, the right kind of selfishness.

And so I can *afford* to be selective. What would I do in baseball if I knew that I could take as many strikes as I wanted without striking out? Why, I'd wait for my perfect pitch. I'd be the most patient hitter in the world. I'd wait for a pitch that I could put all my heart, all my guts, all my conviction and confidence in and drive that ball a country mile. Isn't that the same situation I face now? Why settle?

No, love is the response to our highest values. Everyday I feel it in my soul, an itch on the inside of my skull; my values grow daily. I am more today than I was yesterday. And I will be more tomorrow than today. Why end that now? Why make a decision based on my current value set?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Because it's Sunday night


Created by OnePlusYou - Free Dating


Created by OnePlusYou - Online Dating Site

Created by OnePlusYou - Free Online Dating
Created by OnePlusYou - Online Dating Service

Thursday, September 11, 2008

On Sexual Choices, a corollary

The following phrases:

"You can't choose who you fall in love with."
"The heart wants what the heart wants."
"I just didn't feel anything for him/her."
"... just wasn't the one."
"... didn't make me happy."

are phrases that when said seriously, with full conviction in the verity of the words, to another person are the unquestionable hallmarks of a truly contemptible person.

I fully believe in what Rand said. Our sexual choice is the sum and substance of our highest values. Who are we? Well, the answer to that is found in who we look for, who we are willing to partner with.

Any view of love that excludes rationality from the picture, that makes it nothing more than a sentiment or an outflow and indwelling of emotion, that makes it nothing more than animal instinct draped in the ill-fitting clothes of civilization, is a deficient view of love, and only deficient people will have deficient views of love.

People who persist and will not change that belief absolutely deserve the misery of togetherness that is coming towards them. If you make your bed, you better be ready to lie in it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

On Chasing Women, by Ayn Rand

"Do I strike you as a man with a miserable inferiority complex?"
"Good God, no!"
"Only that kind of man spends his life running after women."
"What do you mean?"
"Do you remember what I said about money and about the men who seek to reverse the law of cause and effect? The men who try to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind? Well, the man who despises himself tries to gain self-esteem from sexual adventures -- which can't be done, because sex is not the cause, but an effect and an expression of a man's sense of his own value."
"You'd better explain that"
"Did it ever occur to you that it's the same issue? The men who think that wealth comes from material resources and has no intellectual root or meaning, are the men who think -- for the same reason -- that sex is a physical capacity which functions independently of one's mind, choice or code of values. They think that your body creates a desire and makes a choice for you just about in some such way as if iron ore transformed itself into railroad rails of its own volition. Love is blind, they say; sex is impervious to reason and mocks the power of all philosophers. But, in fact, a man's sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental convictions. Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself. No matter what corruption he's taught about the virtue of selflessness, sex is the most profoundly selfish of all acts, an act which he cannot perform for any motive but his own enjoyment -- just try to think of performing it in a spirit of selfless charity! -- an act which is not possible in self-abasement, only in self-exaltation, only in the confidence of being desired and being worthy of desire. It is an act that forces him to stand naked in spirit, as well as in body, and to accept his real ego as his standard of value. He of himself, the woman whose surrender permits him to experience -- or to fake -- a sense of self-esteem. The man who is proudly certain of his own value, will want the highest type of woman he can find, the woman he admires, the strongest, the hardest to conquer -- because only the possession of a heroine will give him the sense of an achievement, not the possession of a brainless slut. He does not seek to ... gain his value he seeks to express it. There is no conflict between the standards of his mind and the desires of his body. But the man who is convinced of his own worthlessness will be drawn to a woman he despises -- because she will reflect his own secret self, she will release him from that objective reality in which he is a fraud, she will give him a momentary illusion of his own value and a momentary escape from the moral code that damns him. Observe the ugly mess which most men make of their sex lives -- and observe the mess of contradictions which they hold as their moral philosophy. One proceeds from the other. Love is our response to our highest values -- and can be nothing else. Let a man corrupt his values and his view of existence, let him professthat love is not self-enjoyment but self-denial, that virtue consists, not of pride, but of pity or pain or weakness or sacrifice, that the noblest love is born, not of admiration, but of charity, not in response to values, but in response to flaws -- and he will have cut himself in two. His body will not obey him, it will not respond, it will make him impotent toward the woman he professes to love and draw him to the lowest type of whore he can find. His body will always follow the ultimate logic of his deepest convictions; if he believes that flaws are values, he has damned existence as evil and only the evil will attract him. He has damned himself and he will feel that depravity is all he is worthy of enjoying. He has equated virtue with pain and he will feel that vice is the only realm of pleasure. Then he will scream that his body has vicious desires of its own which his mind cannot conquer, that sex is sin, that true love is a pure emotion of the spirit. And then he will wonder why love brings him nothing but boredom, and sex -- nothing but shame."

Saturday, September 6, 2008

One step closer

Not much more to go now.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Gather around and hear ye the parable of the man with a stick in his butt. (Tale reconstructed from memory. Not original work. Paraphrased from the HBI.)

In a time not too long ago, and in a place not too far away, there was a man without a spine. Because he had no spine, he could not stand as others did. As you may imagine, he was often stepped on and overlooked, much like a worm. People, when they found him, found him pleasant enough as a person for having no spine, he could take on any form or shape they wished. If his friends were smart, he could twist himself into the shape of smart. Or if they were trendy, he could twist himself into that shape too. But this man without a spine could not find love.

You see, when he found someone interesting he would try to wrap himself around them. What a suffocating situation! The women could not stand such clinginess. With much struggle and hardship, they pulled this man off and left him on the floor weeping and bemoaning his existence.

After having been thrown aside enough times, this man decided that he must have a spine for himself if he wanted to know what love was like. But no one was willing to give him their own spine! "If I gave you my spine, how would I stand up?" they cried. Oh, the poor, little spineless man! What would he do?

He did the only thing he could do. He shoved a stick up his butt. It was very painful. And it didn't look quite right. No one stands like that. And people with spines could bend sometimes. Not so, the spineless man now. He was rigid. Stiff. And people didn't like him as much anymore. Before, he could wrap himself around any idea or shape. Now, he would not bend to anyone's wishes. He was much lonelier now. And much colder now.

But no one stepped on him.

So as lonely and as cold as things were, this was an improvement. Having the imitation of a spine was much preferable to having nothing to hold him up.

No one stepped on this man anymore. Before others would walk all over him without even knowing about it. He realized that no one heard his cries for help. They simply thought, when they thought of him, that he was just another worm in the ground. "Plenty of worms!", they thought.

Yet the man with the stick up his butt still could not find love. He looked here and he looked there, but who could love such a rigid, unbending man? He was certainly more respected. And he certainly thought that this was better than before but he was still miserable.

So he lost hope. Perhaps God hates those who have no spines. "God, why did you make me like this?" cried the man. "God, am I doomed to be alone forever?" he asked an empty sky.

But one day, he found the greatest woman in the world. She was beautiful, yes, but you see, beauty is common. This man lived in New York City, where many women believe they are princesses and dress accordingly. He had seen beauty before. But this woman was also intelligent, kind-hearted, strong and not intimidated by any man. Being such an amazing woman, she could not tolerate most men who lost their spines in the presence of her capability and became placating, appeasing slimes like the man before.

Did God send this woman to torment the man? Is God's humor blacker than the Devil's? These thoughts raced through the man's mind. The man would not be mocked by anyone, not even God himself! "Not even God will laugh at me!" screamed the man in the vast expanse of his interior world.

"Would you like to have coffee with me?" asked the man to the woman.

Over a battlefield of combat-ready coffee cups, barbed-wire biscottis and heat-seeking scones the two launched salvos of opinions and ideas.

This woman had reduced many a man's spine to mush before. She wondered how this man could be so firm in his convictions and sincere in his passions. From where did all this prodigious resilience originate? Men had by this time, offered to buy drinks or expensive gifts for her. He had not bent an inch!

But the man too wondered at the woman. He could not understand how this woman could withstand the force of his personality. Other women were driven away by his rigidity. He had learned to love and care about himself. The women wanted someone to think of them and worship them only. But he grew wise and saw that such women were cannibals who consumed such men. This woman knew who she was and needed no worshippers, but his mind could not grasp such a thought.

And so he tried to bend again. Oh, it was very hard for you see the soul becomes quite stiff when it stays still. And it becomes quite formless when it continually moves. But he tried to bend again and suddenly, he did. What had happened to the stick?

The stick was the first thing that ever gave this man's body a true shape. It was not perfect, but it did the job. The body, you see, is a marvelous thing. It grows and it adapts. It took what the stick started and worked around it. Soon enough, the body grew its own spine, and the stick was no longer.

But it was just as strong as the stick. And the woman saw this. Finally, the man found love. He did not find it when he found the woman. The woman found it in him when he finally found his own strength.

You see children, a man without a spine cannot be loved. He can be liked quite easily enough. Everyone likes dogs. But who sees a dog as an equal and a partner in life? Who can trust a dog with their heart, soul, mind, children, dreams, expectations, hurts, fears, failures, tears? What can a dog do for a person besides stare up with dumb, uncomprehending eyes? To be liked is far different than to be loved.

Children, do you know who the man in the story is?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


For anyone visiting my blog lately, this blog is principally about 2 things:
#1 - my faith and life
#2 - the Yankees.

I have been, and for the forseeable future will not talk about the Yankees that much because they're not doing anything worthwhile. Currently, I hope they do nothing but lose for the remainder of the season so we can get better (and protected) draft picks for next year while we go hard at C.C., Sheets and Tex.