Friday, May 30, 2008

Bible Stories

I was raised in a Christian home and taught all the basic stories, but now having to teach them to my kids I realize that I'm really falling in love with them!

We have these great kids' Bible CDs by a pastor named Jamie Soles who puts Bible stories together in a marvelous way.  Both my husband and I are nearly brought to tears listening to his lyrics and how he connects his theology and stories.  The kids love it too and are always asking me to tell them more about the stories he sings.  He sings a great majority of his songs from the Old Testament and he's not afraid to put anything to music--the circumcision song is one of Leif's favorites.

Thinking about Bible stories really helps me see my own life as a story--and everyone's life as one.  God is the great Author and the Bible shows His book of characters that get repeated everywhere you look.  It helps me be more aware when I'm being an Ahab: "Not the Lord's prophet! He only prophesies bad things about me, never good ones." Or a Peter: "Lord you will never wash my feet!" Or a Sarah who laughed when she heard God's promises.  It's also fun when you see the same things going on in others.  The only way to deal with an Ahab is with a Michaiah.  Peter needs a sharp rebuke.  Sarah needs to be laughed at herself.

I find myself praying that my boys will grow with the same understanding of God's stories and see them played out in their own lives.  I want them to identify with the heroic characters and imitate their actions.  Their favorite story is already David and Goliath and Leif often asks me if he can kill giants too when he finds them.

Jamie Soles also has a great song where he sings through Biblical genealogies using the ABCs.  The chorus of the song is Jesus saying, "These are they that speak of me."  We have all these variations of men because they are all saying something about The Man.  They may tell the truth about Him or lie about Him, but they can't help but come from Him.

I Think My House is Sinking...

That's it.  I really think it is.  We have bizarre depressions, nearly holes, that open up in our yard.  I discovered a new one yesterday while taking out the trash bins.  Wow.

Being a former geologist these things get me excited, so I went on-line trying to figure out what kind of rock underlies our house.  I couldn't find it, but here's my guess: we're sitting on a previously-unknown active fault line.  I could go into why, but, then I might sound silly.  Better leave it at my less-than-educated guess.

I'm not too worried.  Our house doesn't have a foundation, so there's nothing to crack.  Besides, the place is old enough to have survived both the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes, so we'll probably be OK...

Friday, May 23, 2008

A New Post

Well now that I know people read this thing, I feel obligated to keep it up.

In my ongoing effort to avoid cynicism I will share something positive, so I will turn to the least cynical part of my life, motherhood.
My sons have taken to collecting rocks from various places.  I'm not sure where they picked this up, except from their mother, the geologist.  They found a really neat one the other day, with a few highly weathered opals on the surface.  I thought it would be fun to break it open, so in a fit of nostalgia I pulled out the ol' rock hammer and pounded away at it on the back patio.  This, of course, caused great fascination on the part of my offspring.

After breaking it open I discovered two things:  (1) That there were some REALLY nice opals on the inside, and (2) you feel really good after successfully weilding a rock hammer.  I would strongly recommend it for difficult or trying times, or even when you're just annoyed.  Caution: Make sure you wear eye protection (sunglasses count).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Life, the Universe, and Everything (or gas prices, global warming, and environmentalism)

Why I am not an environmentalist.

First, a few qualifiers.  I believe that the whole earth is the Lord's and that He has charged mankind with the care of it.  I believe this means to be good stewards, use wisdom, and to be careful with our resources.  I do not have a problem with anyone doing any of those things. I do have a problem with environmentalism as a movement.

It starts today with gas prices.  Why are gas prices so high?  One of our biggest problems, I believe, is a dependence on oil from the Middle East.  We have billions and billions of tons of oil and natural gas sitting under our very own country and yet we allow OPEC to have a virtual monopoly on the oil industry.

How does this happen?  Let's take drilling on the North Slope of Alaska.  The oil companies gave one of my former geology professors a $1 million grant to hike through the North Slope and do geologic mapping.  He took those same maps back to our Structural Geology class for us to look for oil plumes.  There were lots of them and they were huge.  The oil is there.  

But we're not drilling.  Why is that?  The oil and gas industry is one of the most (if not THE most) highly subsidized industries in our country.  They do spend money on exploration and they find lots of oil, but they don't drill.  The reason is because our government gives them money not to.  This is just like subsidies for farmers not to grow corn, or wheat, or whatever.

The resulting scarcity of oil leads to high prices--a cost at the pump, say $2.99/gallon would likely be less than half of that without subsidies.  It also leads to a dependence on foreign oil, like from the Middle East.  When those regions are unstable (has the Middle East ever been stable?) it drives the prices even higher--then ludicrously high.  So why do we subsidize oil companies?  Aside from conspiracy theories, I'm not really sure.  The best guess I have is that it makes for rich oil companies.  And rich oil companies are usually stable oil companies.  

Now, to why I am not an environmentalist.  As a movement, environmentalists look to the problem of high gas prices and demand that our government invest more in alternative energy resources.  Remember, this is the same government that is already paying the oil companies NOT to drill for more oil!  Now they should finance both the oil industry and the alternative energy industry?  By the way, I am not against alternative energy.  People have been using windmills and waterwheels for centuries, so I'm not exactly sure that "alternative" is the best word to describe it.  These things are great and with a little money, some ingenuity, and some smarts some clever people could make a lot of money--and we will never run out of energy.

Why don't the environmentalists want to drill for more oil?  They want to finance the alternative energy industry because they believe in human-induced global warming.  Again, when I was a geology student, around 7 years ago, global climate change was talked about in most of our classes.  It is a difficult issue to discuss scientifically because of the scarcity of data.  We have only been taking global temperatures for the last 80 years or so.  This is hardly enough to show an overall trend.  The last several years (10-15) have been significantly warmer than usual, but most of my professors would refuse to say what the cause of that was.

I did attend a talk by a climatologist who had studied fossilized coral from the bottom of the oceans.  Coral grow at different rates based on the temperature of the oceans.  Therefore, you should be able to track global temperatures based on fossilized coral from around the world.  He had traced estimated global temperatures (these are indirectly arrived at) back to the 14th century, and the temperatures then showed a high spike in temperature, very similar to what we are experiencing now.  There were no cars in the 14th century.

Now, to our conclusion.  Our high gas prices are a multiple result of our dependence on foreign oil, gas subsidies, and a push for alternative fuels.  The easiest solution--build more refineries, drill for oil--is passed over by those who believe that this is our opportunity to start driving wind-propelled cars (which is not a bad idea, by the way).  However, to ask the government to finance the industry (which they already are), when they're also financing the oil and gas industry is a waste of their time and all of our money.


Always a Cynic

Well I knew once my secret blog life was discovered I would have to apologize.  Reading back over my entries I sound like an absolute cynic!  Lest any of my friends be offended, I apologize.

I think that most of what I write comes off as weird unless you're part of the continual, ongoing conversations I have with myself in my head.  No one really gets to be a part of that, so if something sounds bizarre, please let me know.  One of my greatest fears is to be weird (of course, I just admitted to talking to myself).

Saturday, May 10, 2008

If You Only Knew Me, You Would Love Me

Today I was in the liquor store buying some beer.  I got behind a woman who was (of all things in a liquor store) buying a Coke.  She pointed out the small, portable shots that they sell at the register to the cashier and she began lecturing her for selling those.  She was upset that they were marketed toward the "youth" and when the cashier clearly didn't share her feelings, she began to plead that she knew people who were in drunk driving accidents (and that they had been the drunkard) who were never the same afterwards.  I felt sorry for the cashier and told her while I was buying my beer that people have been doing stupid things with alcohol for thousands of years and it wasn't up to her to make sure they were responsible.

Of course, afterwards, I got to thinking about what the self-righteous woman said.  She was really upset about the packaging of the alcohol, and not the fact of the alcohol itself (she did go in a liquor store of her own accord, to buy Coke when there's a grocery store next door).  I realized that her arguments were all the same ones that people use to accuse the fast food industry of making us fat--"I couldn't help myself!  They had such cool advertising!"

There is one type of person that makes their decisions based on who has the coolest packaging.  We call those people children.  My kids always want the cereal box with the most cartoon characters.  Of course, if those same boxes contained things like beer or cigarettes, I understand being a little concerned.  However, this woman was worried about ADULTS making bad decisions based on cool packaging.  If that really is your problem, you have a lot more to worry about than getting drunk.  You are an extremely immature person and a helpless pawn.

Her second plea, based on that you would be sensitive if you knew somebody, also seems ridiculous.  How many people are more sensitive to those they know well, especially those in their own family, than they are to strangers?  I've seen teenagers say horrible things to their parents that they would never say to someone they didn't know well.  I wished now (of course, after the fact) that I had addressed her and said something like, "Well you must not know those people very well, or else you would be a better judge of their character."  I'm supposed to pity someone who was the hopeless victim of cool advertising, bought a bunch of liquor shots, drunk them while driving, and then injured themself?  I don't think so.

Idols for Destruction

I was recounting to my son the other day the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal.  He especially likes the part where Elijah mocks the prophets as they cry out and cut themselves.  

I've been thinking a lot about modern idols, and not television or whatever, but actual, real idols.  I live in Santa Cruz so a lot of the neo-pagans or neo-Buddhists like setting up their little local deities in random spots.  What would happen if the Christians took them on and knocked over one of their little lawn decorations?

I happened to be out mountain biking today, and my ride brings me to the top of a hill where the whole Monterey Bay can be seen.  I was admiring the view and stretching my legs when I glanced down.  Some neo-pagan had set up a circle of stones with some sort of idol/altar thing in the middle.  I looked around, and then scuffed it up with my feet, knocking over the idol.  It was pretty whimpy as there were no worshippers to contend with, but, as always, I rehearsed in my mind what I might say or do if I met them.  Taking inspiration from Boniface, it would be something along the lines of "Jesus owns this hill!  He killed your idol! Repent!"