Peace, Love, Jesus

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Last week, I wrote this blog post, and while I was writing it, I decided that there were other things I wanted to say that weren’t really part of the point I was making there. In the final paragraph, I alluded to the other things I wanted to say, but I decided to write another post about it another day. Today is another day.

I go to a Methodist college, and it has really emphasized to me just how much difference there is between denominations. I realize that, just as not all Lutherans are the same, (the ELCA and the LCMS really don’t have a whole lot in common aside from the fact that they both have L’s in their names that stand for the word ‘Lutheran’) not all Methodists are the same, and I can’t make generalized assumptions about what all Methodists believe. I can say, though, that there are specific Methodists who believe certain things that are just not biblical. In fact, one of these beliefs is the idea that the Bible isn’t really completely reliable because it supposedly contains contradictions and is flawed by human error and inaccuracy. There’s no way to respond to that; you can’t really have a meaningful discussion when the person with whom you’re talking doesn’t acknowledge the validity of the ultimate primary source. I’m not entirely clear on what it is that these people trust above the Bible. Their own fallible human logic? Fallible human science? Televangelists? Or, worse yet, their own emotions?

This is not a very complete summary of Christianity

It seems like various denominations of Christianity (and, unfortunately, some congregations in other denominations) like to put their personal opinions of Jesus ahead of biblical teaching. They like the Bible verses that talk about loving people and peace and stuff like that; everyone likes love and peace. If you isolate a bunch of happy, positive, loving, and peaceful bible verses like John 15:9, Romans 8:38-39, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Galatians 5:22-23, (and so on) you can paint a very pretty picture of Jesus and Christianity. As a bonus, you also get a handy guide to how to live a good, moral Christian life. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. Morals are good, and it’s right for people’s morals and values to be determined by religion. It’s just that basing all of your beliefs on a few bible verses and ignoring others results in missing the big picture, and missing the big picture results in distortions in the little pictures.

For example, a certain guest speaker once told my class that Jesus’ main message and mission was social acceptance. After all, the Bible tells us that Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors, healed the sick, and cared about the poor. The conclusion that he drew from this was that Christianity is about being non-judgmental, helping the poor and needy, and love and peace and stuff. Apparently, he thought that any times when Jesus wasn’t particularly docile (Matthew 10:34, Mark 11:15-19, etc.) were examples of biblical self-contradiction and inaccuracy, because how could Jesus be anything other than peaceful and affectionate towards humanity? The goal of this discussion was to lead into a political agenda in favor of increased government welfare, support for Obamacare, liberal economics, acceptance of things like homosexuality, and love and peace and stuff. Not only do I politically disagree with that agenda, (except for the love and peace part) I also think it’s absurd to claim that Christianity necessarily supports those things. Regardless of what you think about Obamacare, you can’t say that Jesus put a very strong emphasis on the issue of health insurance. Regardless of what you think about welfare programs, you can’t say that Jesus put a very strong emphasis on government funding for welfare. When Jesus talked about the government, he mostly said things like “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21), which doesn’t really align him with either of the major parties in current American politics. The Bible has more to say against homosexuality than it has to say in favor of welfare programs, which is already a flaw in the peace-love-and-liberal-politics perspective on Jesus. But, more to the point, this particular guest speaker was using these ideas about social acceptance to bash the more conservative Christian perspective of sin, which is that the Bible means what it says in Romans 3:23 (For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God) and in the first part of Romans 6:23 (For the wages of sin is death). Jesus didn’t say that sin was okay; he said that it was forgiven. He didn’t talk about tolerance; he talked about grace and forgiveness. Even if you can somehow read through the gospels without seeing that, it’s quite explicit in the aforementioned verses in Romans, the beginning of Ephesians 2, and various other places in the epistles, not to mention the Old Testament.

I think that John 14:27 is saying a little more than this.

But this view of sin and salvation was contrary to the points that this guest speaker was trying to make, so I did not exactly endear myself to him when I pointed out that Jesus always said “Your sins are forgiven” when he healed people, and in many other situations as well, so doesn’t that indicate that Jesus saw sin as something serious that required forgiveness? If I had thought it through a little more and if I’d had time right then to look up a few specific Bible verses, I could have done a better job of making the point, but what I did say was already enough to mess up his argument.  (To be honest, he had some cause to be annoyed with me because I had called him out on something else he had said not long before. He had pointed out a self-contradiction in the Bible that wasn’t a contradiction at all when the verses were kept in their contexts. He had quite affably admitted that I was right and then gone on with his talk, while all of my classmates, who had long since characterized me as the quiet one who never talked in class, wondered what I thought I was doing arguing with a respected authority in the Methodist community.) No longer affable, the guest speaker coldly informed me that when Jesus said “Your sins are forgiven”, he wasn’t talking about literal sins and literal forgiveness. What he actually meant was more along the lines of “Your physical infirmities which society views as being indicative of sin have been removed, thereby allowing you to be accepted in society.”

So there you have it. All that stuff about grace and forgiveness and salvation is really just a metaphor for social acceptance. It kind of makes you wonder why Jesus bothered to die on the cross. What was he doing there if he wasn’t paying for our sins? He’d already told us about how much we should love and accept each other, so how much good could it do to die a horrible and violent death? Yes, he did rise from the dead again and keep on saying stuff after that, but what does death and resurrection have to do with the message of being nice to other people? Couldn’t he have done that without dying?

Pictured above: Love

Or here’s another idea. Maybe, the Bible verse 1 John 4:8 (God is love) doesn’t mean ‘social acceptance and being nice to everyone and stuff like that’ when it says ‘love.’ Maybe it has something to do with the very next verses, 1 John 4:9-10, which say “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world  so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins.” And maybe this is also related to verses like John 3:16, which says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life”. And maybe that’s the most important point in Christianity and the most significant message in the Bible.

It’s interesting the way the Bible stops contradicting itself when we stop randomly redefining words like ‘love’.

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Correct Use of Furniture

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It has come to my attention that many people treat their furniture with an utter lack of creativity and purpose. They believe that dressers are for keeping clothes in, beds are for sleeping on, and chairs are for sitting on. The main problem with this way of looking at things is that it involves ending a sentence with a preposition. (That’s not what prepositions are for. This is something I feel very strongly about. There are some things I just refuse to put up with. Prepositions are absolutely not words for ending sentences with.) The other problem with this way of looking at things is that it’s not particularly cool. Therefore, I would like to present this explanation of the real purposes of various pieces of furniture.

Correct Use of a Desk
July 2012

The Desk: Like most types of furniture, desks are best used as a place to stack books while you’re not reading them. Because a desk offers a nice flat surface, it is also an ideal place to do a jigsaw puzzle or to set up a chess board or a scrabble board. Additionally, according to a certain cliché, the quantity and organization of the things on a person’s desk act as an indicator of his or her intelligence.

Correct Use of a Wardrobe
December 2011

The Wardrobe: Although wardrobes are not as standard as other types of furniture due to the fact that many people think that a closet is a perfectly reasonable substitute, they actually serve other purposes which render them essential. For one thing, people can climb on top of wardrobes and sit up there for hours on end, like a cat. The writer of this blog post once did a take-home exam while sitting squished in the 18-inch space between the top of the wardrobe and the ceiling, and made a quite nice grade on said exam. The most significant and useful feature of a wardrobe, though, is that they have more surface area than the wall. When a wardrobe is standing up against the wall, which is generally considered to be the ideal place for a wardrobe, there are three sides still available for use. The surface area of these three sides is considerably greater than the area of the wall that is covered by the wardrobe. The reason that this is a good thing should be apparent.

The Chair: Chairs are useful places for keeping things which do not fit on the desk, because the desk is covered with books, board games, and a jigsaw puzzle. The types of things that can be stored on chairs include more books, more board games, another puzzle, stacks of CDs, or a laptop computer. Chairs are also useful devices that, when stood upon, allow a person to reach objects on high shelves. They also can help a person to climb on top of the wardrobe. A final purpose of chairs is that they are essential to the fascinating sport known as Tipping Your Chair Back and Trying to Balance. In order to play this game, athletes sit on the chair, then tip it back onto two legs (in theory, this could also be done with only one chair leg) and attempt not to fall off by tipping back too far. It should be noted that this sport is considered so dangerous that most parents highly discourage their children from practicing it. The writer of this blog post requests that readers refrain from mentioning to her parents that she has acknowledged in her blog that she is an amateur Tipping Your Chair Back and Trying to Balance player.

Correct Use of a Bed
September 2011

The Bed: A bed is a multi-purpose piece of furniture. During the day, it functions as a useful place to stack books that don’t fit on the desk because of the jigsaw puzzle, board games, and other books. At night, it serves as a place to sit while reading said books. As a special feature, beds are usually soft enough that if one happens to fall asleep while reading, one will be relatively comfortable. Besides this, beds can be used as a place to keep a laptop computer that doesn’t fit on the desk or the chair, and a bed is a good place to sit while using the laptop computer.

Correct Use of a Table
November 2010

The Table: This item completes the list because it (along with bookshelves) is one of the few pieces of furniture that is generally used correctly. The correct use for tables, of course, is as a place for putting food. And books, board games, and jigsaw puzzles.

The difference between introverted and extroverted people

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A while ago, I noticed an internet trend that seemed kind of funny to me at the time. There seemed to be a lot of people uploading videos on youtube in which they sat in front of their webcam and talked about being introverted. They would talk about how extroverted people don’t really understand introverted people, they complain that they’re stereotyped as being shy and/or antisocial, they talk about how incorrect those perceptions are, and they usually at some point comment that the internet has really helped them to open up and communicate with other people. (In most cases, these are people who upload a lot of videos to youtube and have a fairly large following) I also have seen quite a few online articles that made more or less the same points. The reason that I was amused was that there didn’t seem to be a good reason for this trend. It seems funny that people in our society are so quick to believe that they’re in an oppressed minority that common personality traits are now considered to be minority groups. But then I started noticing other types of online articles with titles such as ‘Careers for Introverts’ and ‘Jobs for Shy People’ and ‘Good Jobs for People Who Don’t Like People’. (I’m not sure why people who write about the job market seem to be particularly interested in making this distinction, but that’s where I’ve seen it most) It’s as if the writers of these articles actually think that personality is a bigger factor in career choices than job skills, or maybe that one’s personality determines what job skills that person has. Of course, personality plays a role in determining what kind of job a person can do best, but introversion/extroversion is only one of a wide variety of factors that matter. And those ideas of personality aren’t restricted to people who write online articles. In my experience it is true that most particularly outgoing people don’t really connect with people who aren’t naturally friendly. Some people do make false assumptions about others who have different personalities, and so maybe there is some need for introverted people to clear up some misunderstandings.

According to the Big Five system of personality categorization, (which, unlike the Myers-Briggs system, measures people along spectrums instead of dividing them into categories) I am just about as introverted as a person can be. Most people who know me would probably agree with that. My family would probably laugh and say that unless I lied on the questionnaire, it is clearly flawed, because I don’t know how to shut up. Incidentally, that’s one of the things that the Internet Introvert Awareness Advocates (yes, I just now made up that term) always make sure to clarify; introverted people don’t always keep their mouths shut, they just are only talkative in certain situations. I usually am quiet in social situations, but there are certain topics which, once I get started on them, will keep me talking until someone finds the duct tape and sticks my mouth shut. (Okay, nobody has ever done that to me before, but I’m sure some people have thought about it) But those are fairly isolated incidents which usually surprise anyone who doesn’t know me very well. For the most part, I don’t have much to say except in one-to-one conversations with someone I already know, and on the internet. Classmates are often surprised when, after friending me on facebook, they discover that I actually do have a sense of humor (and a weird one at that) and strong opinions about quite a lot of things.

Unlike most Internet Introvert Awareness Advocates, though, I don’t do things like posting frequent youtube videos of myself sitting in front of a webcam and talking about my opinions or life in general. I have, over the course of two or three years, posted quite a few youtube videos, (43, to be exact) but they aren’t webcam vlogs; the few that actually show me are either scripted skits or documentaries of gingerbread house construction. When it comes to internet communication, I am much more comfortable with blogging, so that I can voice my thoughts and opinions without letting anyone else actually see my face or hear my voice. It’s a lovely system and much less awkward than stuff like talking to people, either by internet video or in person.

This is what free time looks like in my world.

That’s pretty much what it means to be an introvert. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like people, don’t like communicating with people, or don’t have things to say to people. It just means that I’m not really in my comfort zone in social situations, even if it’s just a casual conversation. Extroverted people are in their natural habitat with other people; they like to talk because it feels natural and they like to do everything with friends because they don’t like solitude. Introverted people are in their natural habitat alone. I can and do enjoy spending time with other people, but it’s because I like those specific people, not because I like being with people in general. I also enjoy spending time alone, and it’s in those situations where I am most in control of my brain and can decide for myself what the topic of my thoughts should be.

This is what social interaction looks like in my world.

Random Thoughts on a Sunday Afternoon

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There is no particular reason for this picture to be here, but I like it.

1. One of the coolest things about having a car is that it’s a lot of fun driving home (or rather, back to campus) from church. I don’t know why that would be more fun than driving any other time, but it totally is.

This is how it ended

2. On the website where I play correspondence chess, there’s this one person that I’ve been playing repeatedly for practically the whole time I’ve been using that website, and I’ve almost always beaten him. I don’t know why, because according to his rating, he’s considerably better than me. This last time, I thought for sure I’d lose because I made some stupid mistakes very early in the game that led to him preventing me from castling, taking my rook on a8 for free, and gaining a couple pawns. Somehow, I won anyway. I’m not entirely sure how I managed to do that; it must be because I’m clever.

3. Sometimes I have a weird nagging fear that I’m wrong about what day of the week it is. Today was one of those days. On the way to church, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t really Sunday, so I was glad to see other cars at the church. Just as I was about to pull into the parking lot, I saw a squirrel in the middle of the road. It noticed me at the same time, and was so startled that it jumped several feet straight up, then landed right in front of me again. I had to slow down practically to a stop in order to avoid hitting it, especially because it was so stupid that it still took several seconds to decide to run away. But this story ends happily, because the squirrel survived, and because it was a Sunday, just as I had thought.

4. My hair is insanely curly today. I like it when my hair is insanely curly.

5. Some people may think that I put too much lemon juice in my lemonade. I say I’m supposed to use lots of lemon juice; it’s called lemonade, not waterade. The only reason I use any water at all is that my parents taught me how to make lemonade, and they said it should have water in it. Since I am a very good daughter and always do exactly what my parents tell me, (I can hear my family members rolling their eyes as they read this) I continue to put at least a little water in my lemonade.

6. When I was little, I thought that the part of the Confession that says “…But I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them…” said ‘hardly sorry’ and I was very confused. It was quite a revelation when I learned how to read and saw what it really said. The moral of this story is that learning how to read is awesome.

This is actually the view from the window of my dorm room last summer. I can’t get a picture from my current window that does the view justice.

7. The view from my window is really incredible. I can see quite a lot of the city. Birmingham is beautiful; it has forests and hills and skyscrapers and city lights, and they’re all visible from this little glass-covered hole in my bedroom wall.  Windows are a pretty brilliant idea. I know they aren’t exactly a recent invention, but I still think that they deserve acknowledgement as one of the cleverest human achievements of all time.

8. If there was really any such thing as the fashion police, I expect that they would come to arrest me today. In my defense, I like these socks and I like this skirt and I like this shirt, which is a common link between them, and thus, they go together. Although it’s true that I’m simultaneously wearing horizontal stripes, diagonal stripes, and a floral print, I don’t think that’s really the important point here. The important point is that I’m wearing awesome clothes today. I have such style and class.

9. I am vaguely aware of the fact that if anybody else was to walk into my dorm room and look around, they would inevitably come to the conclusion that I am weird. I suppose it’s already a little strange that the top of my desk is completely hidden under stacks of books, (which are piled on top of a finished jigsaw puzzle) a chess board, and various papers and notebooks. What’s a little odder, though, is that one of my walls has nine pieces of notebook paper taped to it, all of which are covered in letters and numbers. Two of them are about chess games, but the other seven are all records of random stuff written in forms of notation that I had to invent myself.

10. I hate my internet connection. It will hardly ever stay online for long enough for me to actually do stuff. I’m really sick and tired of losing chess and scrabble games just because I keep losing my internet connection. I suppose that those technically aren’t the most important things I do with the internet, but they definitely are the most time-sensitive things. So far today, I’ve won a couple games by playing well and have lost quite a lot of games by losing my internet connection. If there was a list of the most frustrating situations in the universe, unreliable internet connections would be pretty close to the top.

11. Last night, it occurred to me to wonder what would happen if I soaked bits of marshmallows in the paprika water in which I had previously baked apple slices. There’s only one way to find out. They’ve been soaking for half a day now, and I think it’ll soon be time to take a look at them and see if anything interesting happened. If not, I can always microwave them, because microwaving marshmallows is always interesting.

12. I remember the last time I was bored. It was April 12, 2007.

13. Once upon a time, I had a dream in which my brother challenged me to figure out a system of 26-variable calculus in order to convert language into mathematical equations. (Incidentally, as bizarre as that sounds, it really is the kind of thing that my brother and I would think about doing) Even though it was only a dream, I took that challenge seriously, and I am annoyed by the fact that I still don’t know how one would go about doing that.

14. ‘Tis raining, which is odd considering that it was a beautiful, sunny, summery day just a few minutes ago. But actually, this is a very nice summer rain, and I bet it won’t last for long anyway. I’m just really glad that I decided not to leave my car windows open a crack. Oh, what d’ya know, it just stopped raining. That was quick. Alabama weather is weird.

Here is a random picture from last summer that shows the cat messing up the scrabble game my sister and I were playing. It’s automatically a cute picture since it has both my cute cat and my cute sister in it.

15. My vocabulary really is sadly deficient.  For the last couple weeks, I’ve been keeping track of all the words I can find that I don’t know, and the list is outrageously long. Every morning, I write all the new additions to the list on little slips of paper and put them in a box with the others, and then, at intervals throughout the day, I take a few words out of the box, guess what they mean, and look up their definitions. If I was right about what it is, I make a mark on the slip of paper before it goes back in the box; I can take it out once it has five marks.  I’m starting to think I should be using a bigger box for this.

16. Someday, relatively soon, I will be an adult and will no longer live in a college dorm, and I’ll have my own kitchen and be able to cook my own food and will have a well-balanced and nutritious diet. I am looking forward to that very much. Nonetheless, I am currently quite content with the fact that my diet lately has consisted mainly of chocolate oatmeal, peanut butter jelly sandwiches, yogurt, microwaved s’mores, and excessive quantities of ice cream and milkshakes.

17. Great camaduka, that’s a weird-looking cloud.

A Not-So-Private Message to My Sister

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Dear Sister,

You have probably noticed that I just now sent you 114 emails, several facebook messages, a couple youtube comments, a blog comment, and tagged you in a tweet. The reason for this should be obvious. (For any readers who are unaware of the reason, here is a link to my sister’s blog, where the reason can be found.)

You may have further noticed that the topic of almost all of these messages was octopodes. Fun fact: Although both ‘octopuses’ and ‘octopi’ are correct plural forms of the word ‘octopus’ according to most English dictionaries, neither of these is etymologically accurate. The i ending for plural words is used for Latin words of the second declension, but the word ‘octopus’ is not Latin in origin; ’tis Greek. Also, it’s apparently third declension. To be honest, I have no clue what declension means, but that’s not the point. The point is that the word ‘octopodes’ is more correct than both ‘octopuses’ and ‘octopi’. Ironically, the word ‘octopodes’ is not as commonly used as ‘octopi’ and ‘octopuses’ and is not in as many dictionaries. All three are valid scrabble words.

Perhaps you are wondering why I am suddenly so interested in octopodes and why I felt a need to use them as the topic for this spam attack. I cannot adequately answer this question. A few days ago, I happened to come across a youtube video of an octopus, and I said to myself, “Oh, what an interesting creature an octopus is! I cannot decide whether I think it is one of the coolest and awesomest living beings on this planet, or whether I think it is really gross and disgusting. This dichotomy of awesomeness and grossness makes it an ideal topic with which to annoy my sister in return for what she did to me last week.” Incidentally, I shall probably at some point write an entire blog post about why octopodes are cool, awesome, gross, and disgusting.

Moreover, Carthage must be destroyed!

Sincerely,

Your incredibly awesome sister

P.S. Happy Friday the 13th!

P.P.S. You’ll be pleased to know that I have a nasty second degree burn inside my mouth, which I acquired by eating a s’more that I had just burned to death in the microwave. I had to open the windows so that I didn’t set off the smoke alarm. Such is the greatness of my genius.

Stuff that Martin Luther Didn’t Say

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I am a Lutheran, but I usually don’t like hearing about Martin Luther in an academic context. For some reason, history hasn’t really remembered Martin Luther with a great degree of accuracy. In all fairness, the European history course that I took a little over a year ago did an adequate job of describing Lutheranism, although there was one time when my professor said, “For the sake of this discussion, let’s put Calvin, Luther, and Zwingli all into one category.” I highly disapprove of putting Calvin, Luther, and Zwingli all into one category, but at least in that particular class, the textbook and the professors never grossly misquoted Luther.

There was one time, though, that a student grossly misquoted Luther. The professor had asked how Luther believed that people attained forgiveness, and the class collectively answered that Luther said salvation came from faith. Then the professor asked how Luther defined faith, and there was an awkward silence. Half of the class kept their mouths shut because they were curious to hear what everyone else would say, and the other half of the class kept their mouths shut because they hadn’t done the reading and weren’t very familiar with Luther, so they had no idea what the answer was. Eventually, the boy in the back of the classroom who thought he knew everything spoke up and said that faith was when someone makes a personal decision to give their life to God. The professor gave him a look and asked, “Is that what Luther said?” Then the girl in the front of the classroom who thought she knew everything (that would be me) decided not to keep her mouth shut anymore, stuck her hand in the air and yelled something that was a fairly close paraphrase of Ephesians 2:8-9. (The aforementioned girl really should make sure she memorizes stuff better, because the bible shouldn’t be paraphrased when it could be quoted) In this particular case, the girl who thought she knew everything was right, but she did have quite an advantage there, since she was already a Lutheran.

Anyway, I think that the misunderstanding of Luther that I’ve heard most often is that he believed that the Bible is subject to personal interpretation and that personal faith has nothing to do with the church. There was a certain book I intended to quote here, but I have it packed up right now. Anyway, that book discussed Luther as just another Renaissance thinker, and implied that he believed that every Christian is supposed to flip through their Bible, privately choose their own favorite verses, and decide for himself (or herself) what he (or she) believes. In fact, if I recall correctly, that book actually said that Luther was against organized religion. If it didn’t say that, it was certainly implied.

That’s totally not what Martin Luther was saying. He disagreed with a lot of specific teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic church, but he had nothing against organized religion. This is what he had to say about church services:  “…A Christian has need of baptism, the word and the sacrament not as a Christian (for, as such, he has them already), but as a sinner. But, above all, the Order is for the simple and for the young folk who must daily be exercised in the Scripture and God’s Word, to the end that they may become conversant with Scripture and expert in its use, ready and skillful in giving an answer for their faith, and able in time to teach others and aid in the advancement of the kingdom of Christ. For the sake of such, we must read, sing, preach, write, and compose; and if it could in any wise help or promote their interests, I would have all the bells pealing, and all the organs playing, and everything making a noise that could.”- Martin Luther, The German Mass and Order of Divine Service, 1526.

Here is a picture of Martin Luther not saying, “Hey guys, the Bible means whatever you want it to mean! It’s all totally subjective, so who cares what anyone else believes?”

And it is also totally untrue that Martin Luther believed that the Bible was open to any and all interpretation. It’s true that he translated it into German so that more people could have access to it themselves, but that wasn’t so that they’d have the freedom to manipulate the meaning of certain texts by redefining certain words and phrases. Luther wanted to spread the objective truth; he didn’t want to subjectify truth. (Spellcheck tells me that subjectify isn’t a real word. I don’t care. It just goes to show that it wasn’t what Luther was trying to do, because if he was, it would absolutely be a real word now.) Anyway, you can tell that Martin Luther didn’t think that everyone was supposed to decide for themselves what to believe, because if he did, he wouldn’t have had so much to say about theology. Luther wrote loads of stuff; if you compare the quantity of his work to that of someone like Shakespeare, you’d have to conclude that Shakespeare probably spent most of his time sitting around and playing scrabble, except that scrabble hadn’t been invented yet.

The point of this is that people shouldn’t think of Martin Luther as some kind of 16th century hippie whose primary belief was that authority and structure are evil. Also, (and more importantly) people shouldn’t think of Jesus as some kind of 1st century hippie whose mission was to sit around holding a sign with some cliché about love and peace. But that can be the topic of a blog post for another day.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics and the First Law of Thermostats

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I’m not going to pretend that I really understand much about physics, but between my high school physics book and Google, I think I know what the second law of thermodynamics is. It says that in a closed system, the temperature tends towards equilibrium, or in other words, cold stuff cools down hot stuff and hot stuff heats up cold stuff. This explains why ice melts in a glass of water, why putting food in a hot oven makes it cook, and why my parents always told me and my sister that our bedroom wouldn’t be the hottest room in the house on a warm summer day if we’d just leave the door open so that there’d be some air flow.

Technically, a room with a closed door isn’t exactly a closed system, unless the door is totally airtight. Most buildings, though, act as closed systems as long as all the doors and windows are closed. Thus, if the air conditioning is set to a certain temperature, that’s the temperature it will be in that building. Of course, depending upon various details of the building and the air conditioning system, it might not literally be the exact same temperature in the entire building. That’s not the point, though; the point is that if you set the air conditioning at a really low temperature because it’s hot outside, then it will be cold inside. Of course, the reverse applies for furnaces. If you turn the heat up really high because you’re cold, then it’ll get really hot.

It’s annoying to be in a building where the temperature is too high or low, but it’s even more annoying when the temperature outside is at the other extreme. The human body can gradually adjust itself to temperature changes, (through some method that I’m sure relates to the second law of thermodynamics somehow) but it can’t instantly adjust to a drastic temperature change. If my dorm room is about 80 degrees, the library where I work is about 70 degrees, the laundry room in my dorm is in the 60s, it’s 100 degrees outside, and it’s a zillion bajillion degrees inside my car, I’m not going to be comfortable at any of those temperatures.

Therefore, my plea to people in general is this: Don’t set the thermostat temperature so high in the winter and so low in the summer.

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