Archive for September, 2009

Our 1st Seminar!

We had our first “seminar” today!  At first, I thought I was going to kill myself.  Tom wanted to do the first part “his way” and he was going to let me do the second part in more of a St. John’s style.  Well, the first hour was terrible; all we did was talk about the meter of the poem, the “differences” between Hesiod and Homer, which were completely bogus.  I know they have differences, but I know it’s not “Hesiod wrote for poor people and Homer wrote for educated people.”  Anyway, I thought I was going to pull my hair out.  And when we start my part of the class, there were a couple of minutes where he seemed to be unwilling to let go of the reins.  For instance, he asked the ‘opening question,’ which consisted of him asking the kids what they thought the word “aegis” meant.  I wanted to cry.  Of course they didn’t know what it meant!  His entire question served to do was draw blank stares and ended with Tom answering the question and then proceeding to another question along the lines of “who was this God?”  I almost screamed, and unable to control myself I jumped in before anyone could answer his question.  I asked, “what is the significance of Hesiod’s genealogy of the Gods?” 

This first question didn’t elicit any great response, but it allowed for the beginning of a discussion that ended up involving 4 out of the 5 kids. (the unfortunate girl refused to speak, “I don’t know” was honestly the only words she uttered.)  And at the end of the seminar, one of the ADD boys, Michael, asked a question.  He didn’t ask a stupid question, and at the same time I don’t think he realized that it was a significant question.  But it showed that he had been mentally involved in the conversation and was actually wondering why something in the work happened.  I was so happy I could hug him!  I think he’ll benefit a lot from this style of seminar, he’s already a talked, and he’s a quick thinker.  He hasn’t really developed the ability to form opinions quickly or to develop any real form of argument.  But he’s young, and you can always hope!

After the seminar Tom told me he was just going to make me the “coach” of the seminar (he loves the sports analogy), which means I get to lead them from here on out.

It’s pretty clear at this point.  I need books, and I need people and I need them to mix.  I want to lead seminars and read books with people for the rest of my life, there’s not really a question in my mind; I would be happier than a kid in a candy shop.


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Awkward Conversation at WaffleHouse

So while I was home this week I spent a couple hours one night at the local Wafflehouse.  I went there to read and recuperate from the day’s stresses and activities, but I only went once during my time there because I had one of the most awkward conversations imaginable.

I was sitting in my little booth reading away.  A couple booths over one of the waitresses was trying to get a game of spades going with some weird guy I had never seen before and a cute girl who I had seen a couple of times.  While we were playing we had a normal conversation, talked about who we were, what we did, etc.  Well, the pretty girl at one point exclaimed “you know, I just want to start having more intellectual discussions.  I get so tired of always talking about people’s social life.”  I agreed, and we went ahead and finished the spades game.

Well, after the spades game I went back to my table and got back to reading.  Ten minutes later pretty girl comes and plops herself down in my booth.  At this point I was pretty happy, because she was attractive, a psychology major at JMU and supposedly intelligent.  At the time I was reading the bible so she began by asking if I was Christian, and I followed up by asking if she believed in God. (and thus begins the conversation’s downward spiral.)  She answered my question with the following “I believe in science.”  The remainder of the conversation consisted of her staring at me blankly, maybe piping in now and again to say “oh, that’s interesting.”  Or, “well at least your not like other Christians, they’re so close minded”  (you can tell I held back very much of my opinion, and she assumed that just because I seemed intelligent, that I must be liberal)  In any event, it was terrible and awkward.  I couldn’t get her involved in the conversation, no matter how trivial I tried to make it.

The worst part is she wouldn’t leave!  It would’ve been very awkward if I had gotten up and moved to another booth, or asked her to leave so I could read again.  She just sat there blankly smiling and making an inane comment from time to time.  Finally I made up some excuse about going to see friends and just left.  How sad, she was very pretty.

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I’m back

This past week has been miserable.  I’m sorry I can’t really fill you in on the details of what happened, though I think most of you already know.  The whole event has made me realize how important living a healthy life really is.  By ‘healthy’ I don’t mean eating vegetarian, taking yoga, and sipping soy-milk. (though I do recognize the benefits of those activities for women, I don’t think it can be healthy for a male to immerse himself in the feminine culture.)  Nutrition and one’s physical condition are factors in my happiness, but there is also the need to be well ordered and to live productively.  If you remember the post from awhile back about the elusive nature of happiness.  I still think that is true, and maybe there isn’t a certain method of gaining happiness.  But right now, I do know there are many things I do that make me unhappy and even more things that I don’t do for my own happiness.  I often make poor decisions regarding my mental and physical health, but I think that is because I rarely valued happiness for its own sake and most of my decisions were the results of stupid reasoning and misplace values.

Tune in later for an awkward story from Wafflehouse.  (which definitely makes the list of places that do not contribute to a healthy existence.)

I also hope to make up a short list for myself of actions and decisions that contribute to happiness, along with  list of those that don’t.

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The Longest Day

I’m sorry I did not post yesterday.  I had to come back to Harrisonburg for the rest of the week, and there was no time to post anything.  Please be praying for me and my friends for the next couple of days.

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Today Baptists came up in conversation.  Lianna piped up saying, “Aren’t those the ones who quote scripture at you but don’t know what it means?”

I happen to sympathize in some ways with Baptists, but I couldn’t help but laugh.

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Elusive Happiness or “I ain’t got a formula”

The other night I found myself at that pass when one feels helpless.  I wrote the following:

“Happiness is so damn elusive it drives me insane.  Honestly, what can one do to grasp it? Can we grasp it?  It’s not that there aren’t times when I enjoy myself and feel optimistic, even in these past weeks there has been days of that nature.  I’m no stoic; I don’t have the disposition for it.  Yet I do not have the means, either material or spiritual, to take hold of all that I want.  Naturally my mind leads me to the conclusion of ridding myself of some desires and working towards being happy with what I do have.  But goodness, it’s not as if I grasp at all that much. Maybe I do?  If I did grasp at too much, the fact remains the same: I cannot imagine myself happy otherwise.

I find that I am happiest when I’m not merely distracting myself, but exerting my will towards some purpose.  Even in this knowledge I find myself often cursed with the inability to exercise my will. How weak am I?  I often wonder if man’s will increases with age, or if he only becomes resigned to former aspirations.  I have a feeling that both paths lie open, especially to people my age.

Supposing I were to gain a will, would that protect my happiness?  I watch people thrash about, in no particular direction.  They are lifting up every stone hoping to find happiness underneath it.  I’ve often thought “how sad” and mentally separated myself from them.  But who does not try and lift the stones?  We generally tell ourselves that the bigger the stone, the surer the happiness.  There is of course the question, are we looking in the correct places? Is there anywhere to look or only work over which to labor?  And if it is the labor, then one needs, surely I need, a stronger will.  Even so, I have not given up the hope that happiness can be found in people, in loved ones.  Because while I do feel good when I’m working towards something, I feel light and happy when I’m with the people who I care about.

I think men need both labor and loved ones – both take a will.”

How strange is this thought?  When I began I felt absolutely frustrated by the elusiveness of happiness. I felt trapped, not by circumstance but by reality.  I end the confusion with some coherent answer, and think to myself “well there’s something to that.”  And maybe there is, but this is an answer I’ve come to repeatedly.  I’ve held this opinion for years.  In that time I’ve been quite happy and quite unhappy.  Basically, I don’t think I can actually concoct a formula for happiness.  There is no science to the issue, too many variables involved.  The best one can do is work toward what he understands to be good.

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Roses are red

rosaryToday Tom gave me a Rosary.  Well, he gave them to the kids, then he gave me the extra one.  


Take note: the women in the center is Mary.  Don’t pray to her. I think the instrument you see to the left is used for that purpose.  So, don’t use them.  Or else John Calvin is goin to get real angry and tell Jesus on you.  We will see how well your desire for intercession goes then!

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