Thursday, September 12, 2013

HSA Reunion, Day 1 and sports

After packing, my brother and I headed to the airport to give a ride to some long distance attendees. The drive was uneventful and after about an hour of light chatting we pulled into camp at 1:00. Most people weren't expected to arrive until around 6:30. Upon arrival I scouted out the premises and tried to blend in with all of the team leaders who had come early to set up.

While touring with a group of equivalently eager early arrivers we stumbled upon the ga-ga pit. ga-ga is a game common in Pakistan. It is a variant of dodgeball played in an octagonal court. After winning the first game, my brother who was also the leader of my team's rival. sauntered onto the court. After explaining the rules to him we played again, and I remained the champion, catching my brother out. I didn't get the chance to play any more ga-ga ball, but I was quite content with just the two games.

This turned out to be the standard, there wasn't much time for sports, but just enough to expend excess energy. During the rest of the week I played two games of volleyball and several games of ping-pong, and that was it. I was very happy with this balance, because it left so much time for deep discussions.

The rest of the day was fairly straightforward. Trying to meet people by asking them questions from the signature book (see socialization is easy, all you have to do is read). Opening ceremony (done in Mac's brilliant comedic style). And then everyone ended up singing hymns around the campfire (built by yours truly) until the rain started convincing people to go to bed around midnight.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

HSA Reunion, Introduction

Last weekend I attended the HomeSchool Alumni national reunion. Although I had low expectations going into it, be the end of the week I became convinced that it is an incredibly valuable event for young Christians.

I expected to meet new people whom I would have things in common with. This was my main purpose for going. However, just this year alone I've made so many new friends in the local Christian homeschooled community that I didn't think it was necessary to branch out further, at least for a while.

I expected to sing praises to God with others who enjoy it as much as I do. Again, I can do this with my local friends anyways.

I expected some good lectures and discussions about theology and orthopraxy. But I wasn't sure that people would be able to look past their differences and see why we should discuss our disagreements.

I expected to have fun playing various sports. I already have been playing sports with two different Christian groups every week, plus Church events.

These expectations were not enough to convince me to go, in the end I went because I trusted my friend who is the leader of this organization when he told me I would probably find it worthwhile. And I'm glad I did. I plan to explain how these expectations exceeded in the following posts.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

First multitrack finished!

I finally decided that I needed to complete a whole song today, here it is.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Beauty: God's creation vs. man's

The topic of beauty has been brought up once again, and once again I find my opinions to be in the minority. Instead of saying that art should not be allowed to surpass nature, they are saying that art is by it's nature unable to surpass nature in terms of beauty.

Their argument is quite simple. This is my understanding of them. "God is perfect(ly beautiful), and man is not, therefore what God creates must be more perfect and beautiful than what man creates." Also "man's art is an imitation of God's art, therefore the most perfect it can be is no more beautiful than what it is trying to imitate." Before countering these with my own theoretical arguments, I would like to bring it to the practical level.

Which is more beautiful, an ancient forest, or a cathedral that was made from it? The bird singing, or the cello? The raindrops or the fountain? Don't let mundaneness get in the way of beauty. It may be hard to pick one side over the other. You find a tree in it's natural state, you think it looks quite good but it could use a trim. You trim the tree, and you think it has become even more beautiful than it was. But how is this possible, did you just improve upon God's design? Or did you make it worse? Here is my answer.

God designed the tree so that it would look better after you pruned it.
And he designed you, so that you could prune it, and make it look better.

This shows how incredible God's design is, not only did he design the trimmed tree, the fountain, the cello and the cathedral. But he also designed the way they would be built and designed. So, can we create art more beautiful than God can? No, clearly not. But we can create things more beautiful than what God gave us here on earth. I'm sure that heaven is more beautiful than human artist's renderings, but that doesn't mean that nature must always be more beautiful than art.

Apparently, if I make this post too long, no-one's gonna wanna read it. I think I have sufficiently rebutted their arguments, but if I didn't, drop a comment and I'll try to clear things up.

P.S. If you haven't yet, read my last post "Art and the idealist."

Friday, January 28, 2011

Art and the idealist

Before I say anything else, I should say that I can be a bit of an idealist at times, so I admit I might be a bit biased here. Also, I will attempt to explain the difference between an idealist and a perfectionist, then I will define art, and finally I will show why idealism and art fit each other so well.

To my mind, a perfectionist is someone who examines things, sees their flaws, and tries to fix them. And idealist is someone who examines things and looks around their imperfections and admires the ideal, or the icon, of the thing. Although the difference between the two are quiet small, the outworkings of that difference can be great, here is an example. An idealist and a perfectionist watch a SAICFF film, the perfectionist sees some poor acting skills and thinks about how they could be fixed. I, the idealist, don't even notice any lack in acting quality even after it is pointed out to me, instead, I see only what it was supposed to be, the icons, or the essence, not the actors, really, I can't see the actors unless I try hard.

Art is anything created by man which gives glory to God primarily through it's beauty. To further convince you, I shall give examples as to what is not art, according to this definition.

1st. Nature is not art, it is beautiful, but was not created by man.
2nd. Paintings drawn by humanists and atheists are much less likely to be art than paintings by a Christian, because those who purpose to give glory to God are more likely to do so than those who don't.
3rd. A plow is not art, it gives glory to God through industry. Similarly, a vaccine is not art, it gives glory to God primarily through healing.

Now, some would say that art should never surpass nature, and when an artist has done so, he has, in a sense, tried to be greater than God. I completely disagree, nature, as we see it now, is fallen, and the imagination of man can surpass it. We are clearly called to make nature more beautiful, that is one of the tasks Adam had in the Garden, and one of the tasks we still have today. But how can we reach a goal if we do not know what we are aiming for. If the artist only draws nature as it is now, imperfect, than we cannot see our goal. So, I submit, that the artist should strive to make his art as beautiful as possible.

Now, I admit that as fallen humans, we cannot comprehend perfection, so we should not fall into the temptation of calling the art of Thomas Kinkade "too perfect". To do so shows a misconception of perfection. However, we should be able to say that it is be better than are current reality, and that's okay.

Now, who should have the task of creating this art, which will be used as a blueprint for Christians taking dominion over nature? The perfectionist, who only sees the defects, or the idealist who only sees the positive attributes? My answer is the idealist, because he is more likely to be optimistic in his portrayal of perfection, while the perfectionist can't help being somewhat of a pessimist. Also, the idealist is more likely to be more imaginative.

PS. I admit that I am a bit late on this post, the topic was suggested to me several years ago after having written an essay response which went somewhat against the current "public opinion". And I was only inspired to write tonight because one of my sisters told me I needed to post.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More music :)

I was going through my music tonight, and decided I wanted to show what great variety I listen to. In the likely case of you all not appreciating the massive amounts of diversity in these songs, I suppose I will be forced to admit that I do not have a wide variety after all. But I'm fine with that. :D

So without further ado, I present my "far out" songs. (In the sidebar.)

PS. This "variety" only includes music with words, I have yet to organize lyricless music.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My ten favorite artists (7-10)

7. Gas House Gang.

The winners of the 1993 Barbershop Harmony Society's international competition.

Pros: Really incredible harmonies and chords.

Cons: Too many love songs. :p But seriously, a lot of their songs aren't very deep.

8. Charlie Zahm.

Singer of Traditional songs.

Pros: Powerful voice.
Cons: I'm not a big fan of most of the songs he sings.

9. The Antrim Mennonite Choir.
Better than Mormons right? :p

Pros: Hymns!
Very relaxing.
Can hear every part distinctly, good recording.

Cons: None really, but be careful, they may put you to sleep.

10. Vocal Spectrum.
Another Barbershoop quartet. Won the same competition in 2006
BTW. Even though the Lead sounds like Weird Al in the first verse of the song I linked to, he doesn't usually sound like him.

Pros: Basically the same as the gas house gang.
But they sing the Barber of Seville Overture. :)
Cons: Don't sing the William Tell Overture. :(

Whew. I've finished!

I will NOT resort to using the power of the tag, But if you have read this I would like to see your top ten favorit artists also.

Monday, August 30, 2010

New look, and more importantly, new music!

I cleaned up my blog a bit and got the grooveshark widget. I've only got 90 songs on right now, but it automatically updates with my grooveshark playlist, so It will change pretty often without warning. :D

Sunday, August 1, 2010

My ten favorite artists (part 2 of more than 2)

6. Acapella
Yet another men's quartet. 1982-current

Wait a second, that's not fair. Why do THEY get to name their group after a musical style? Well, actually acapella isn't really even a word, it is just a respelling of "a capella" which means in Italian "In The Manner of The Church". So they aren't cheating.

Although the members were swapped out a lot, they kept the same style for the most part. But they sounded best when they had two black guys and two white guys singing together. (This was the case in several of there lineups) These guys are number one on my list a lot of the time, but they somehow didn't come to my mind until I had decided on the first five.

Some of there other good songs are here and here.

Sorry, I have to leave now.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My ten favorite artists (part 1 of 2)

I've said a lot about music recently, so I've decided that for my sake, as well as yours, I should post a list of my favorite artists. Keep in mind that the order changes with my mood, but this is the normal order. Click on the band's name to hear one of their songs.

1. Ernie Hasse and Signature Sound.
A Gospel quartet, and part of the Gaither group.

Pros: Very young for a gospel quartet, they put a lot of energy into their music. And their voices don't have the distinctive indistinctness of old singers.
Very happy/joyful sound.
Totally awesome bass singer, and the other three are excellent as well. All of them can and do take the melody.
Cons: Sometimes it seems like they are more into the show than the meaning of what they are singing. But maybe their showiness is just really noticeable because they have to exaggerate their motions for stage singing.

Summary: I like most of the songs they sing, but I don't really like their original compositions.

A band of five guys who decided to try some acapella albums. Previously they had done 80's CCM.

Pros: Five people allows for some pretty incredible harmonies.
They can interperet music very well IMO. They have incredible voice control and they know how to use it
Cons: A few of their songs are too "jazzy" for me. Which means their harmonies get so close that it is annoying.

Summary: I like most of their acapella songs, but I don't like their "pre-acapella era" songs. And Some of their jazzy songs can give me a headache.

3. Gaither vocal band.
Another Gospel quartet. It changes members about every year, the only constant one being Bill Gaither himself.

Pros: Hand picked and trained by Bill Gaither.
Many Many Many songs over almost twenty years.
Cons: Some combinations of singers are worse than others, I don't really like their current lead Michael English, he sounds way to "country."

Summary: They have a few songs I don't care for, but they have so many good ones!

4. Steve Green
CCM singer who was a lot more popular twenty years ago

Pros: Incredible voice.
I got to see him in concert, the only concert I've ever been to, so doubtless that helped him get higher on my list.
Amazing voice.
Lot's of passion, you can tell he believes what he sings.
Cons: He definitely was creating his own style of music, and a some of it seems quite bland, but that is just my opinion.

Summary: He is probably my favorite soloist, but a lone voice can only sound so good, even if it is the best one in the world.

5. Michael Card
CCM artist and songwriter, with a high tenor voice.

Pros: Really deep, meaningful and thought provoking lyrics.
Cons: All though he has great vocal range I don't think he has the same vocal qualities as most of the other singers on this list.

Summary: I'm not sure why I'm doing summaries, since they are basically the same thing as the pros and cons... He writes new music which some how attains the qualities of old music.

I'm going to bed now, but I have four of the next five all ready picked out. I just have to decide on #10 and then write.

Monday, May 10, 2010


I have often received comments regarding my ability to stay calm when other people would be panicking. There are several different ways in which calmness can come about. The most common way in our culture is to simply not care. This could be called the "so what?" phenomenon.

Bob: Dude, that kid's about to fall of the cliff...
Jim: So what?

Before you jump to any conclusions, let me say this. "So what" is not always bad. And it is one of the tools which I use frequently. For example...

Bob: The Seahawks just lost the superbowl!!!
Me: So what?

Mind you, "so what" as a phrase is often disrespectful, so you usually have to rephrase your statement. But the concept can be used correctly. But it is most often used improperly, resulting in a very bland society. For if one does not care about anything than he can not be cheerful.

But the above trick cannot give true peace. True peace can only be had when one trusts God completely. Without faith, "so what" can only give a sad and lonesome illusion of peace.

I don't remember the exact time, but I do remember that it was a point in time, a long time ago. When I decided that if I was going to trust God, I actually have to trust him with everything. This means that I cannot/shouldnot worry about anything. But rather, continue to labor in what is good, trusting that God will use my work for his glory.

@EthanS Chill, relax, and calm down. Believe it or not I was already most of the way done formulating this post in my mind when I saw your comment. (And yes, I was planning to post it tonight.) I've also got a few more ideas I want to post about.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


As you can see, I put music in the sidebar, try it and let me know if it works or not. I don't think it has the ability to start playing automatically, so you have to click play. I chose this player because it has all the music I like, though it only let's you have twenty five.

Also comment on the songs themselves, which ones you like, and which ones you don't like.

Monday, January 4, 2010


1 Corinthians 1
12 What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas "; still another, "I follow Christ."
13Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?

The Catholics seem to have read only the part that says "I follow Cephas," for they have set Peter as the head of the Church.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Progressive theology...

...Even if it is true now, it isn't true anymore.

...Can be described as the French revolution of theology.

...Disregarding all traditions, and former interpretations of scripture, because all of history's greatest theologians must be stupider than you, the modern thinker.

If you couldn't tell, I'm not the biggest fan of "progressive theology."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Book review: Private Journal of Henry Francis Brooke

This is one of the many books which I added to my books list to read early last year, but never got around to finishing. Anyways, I finished it over Christmas break, and overall I must say it was a very good book. The first part of the book is written by Brigadier General Brooke about his travels in India, the second part is letters to his wife from various peoples regarding his death. In his journal Brooke talks about the uselessness of sorties outside of the citadel where they are besieged. Also during the siege, he recommended two Lieutenants for the Victoria's cross for carrying a Sepoy* to safety under heavy fire.

Shortly afterward, the journal ends, and the letters tell that he died while trying to carry one of his wounded men back into the citadel.

Earlier in the journal, he writes of his travels through India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and of the beauties and horrors of that land.

*A Sepoy was a native Indian who fought for a European power.

The book can be read here

The next book on my list is "Three months in the southern States by Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, a character whom many of you will read about in "The killer angels."

I started this book in the summer, and the main thing I remember is that while coming through Mexico and Texas all he ate was Bacon and bread. Unfortunately Texas was as far as I got while trying to read it in the summer, because I got sidetracked by Chesterton.