Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Three posts in two days? I'm on a roll.

I guess a lot of things have been ruminating in the past two weeks. Here's another one.

I've composed a new phrase to live by. It might seem harsh, but I'll explain it.

"Be sure you're worth the words you use to say what's on your mind."

I've noticed that people are often extremely superfluous. We talk on and on about unnecessary things. Our words are fluffy and ultimately mean little in the grand scheme.

Of course, as Naomi Watts says in one of my favorite movies, "If we only spoke when there was something to say, the human race would soon lose all power of speech." But please--please, please, please--if you're going to say the superfluous things, say the important things, too.

People waste words. Perhaps words are (to borrow an economics term) "public goods" that cost us no money and are in endless supply. However, the consequences of ill-spent words can be more than we instinctively foresee.

Do we even know what we mean, who we are, the truth we think we try to communicate?

"Lightly men talk of saying what they mean...when the time comes to you at which you will be forced to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you'll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they listen to the babble we think we mean?"

Liberty is natural and instinctive; but ethics are a rational restriction we impose on our own behavior for a greater ultimate good. Perhaps we say what comes to mind, break the ice, tell that story you happen to think of as a result of a funny coincidence...but what are we saying? Do we consider that speaking is an action, and one that requires ethical consideration?

My most compelling ethic lately has been Authenticity. It takes true courage and honesty to be authentic--to live as God made me, owning my own personality and passions, and to remember that it's His image that I bear. Yet we humans are hasty and thoughtless in our anger, but hesitant and shallow in our encouragement. To love is to value, to know truth. We take for granted our priceless proximity and depart alone, undiscovered, unfamiliar.

Consider the value, impact, and meaning of your words and your life. Live as the image-bearer and co-heir that God made you to be. Then tell me something that's worth the words you use to say it.

Monday, March 30, 2009


"Good intentions never set a man free."

Chew on that one.

another revelation. seems like I should have learned this a while ago...

Though my spring break had little "break" in it, I've changed my thinking a lot in the last week. And actually, it had little or nothing to do with the fact that I was in Nicaragua on a business-as-missions trip.

The thing that proved to be most compelling throughout the week is that I am OVER-COMMITTED. And I take no pride in that fact. Truly, the more I think about it, the more I feel humbled by my own arrogance and irresponsibility in taking on so much.

No one sees any of this. They all see the "involved," "competent," "responsible," and "efficient" Elena. I don't know how I manage to keep that cover, but underneath -- my friends, I've been drowning this past month. I've been entirely overwhelmed by the multitude of things I'm committed to doing. And to add insult to injury, whenever I tell people what I'm busy with, instead of feeling proud of myself I only feel ashamed of how arrogant I sound. "Oh, I have a meeting, then an interview, then another meeting, then an article to write, then I'm applying for this-and-such position..." WHO'S REALLY IMPRESSED???

No one. And certainly not God. Isn't that the purpose in the end--glorifying the one who deserves it?

Of course, I can rationalize all of these tasks and obligations--and I do. I do SO well. "This will help me develop skills in leadership and management! I can glorify God through that." "This will develop my skills in communication and writing! That will glorify God, too."

But what really glorifies God? REALLY.
Ultimately, it's simple. There's no task, no duty, no obligation, no responsibility, no skill, no activity that will help me glorify God. The thing that glorifies Him most is BEING. That's what he created me for, that is my vocation and my calling. "Not to undermine the consequence, but you are not what you do." If whatever I do enhances my BEING, my life, my truest, simplest, most authentic and honest state, then it is worthwhile. That is my criteria from now on.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Prove Me Wrong

I was wondering the other day how sometimes the time just seems to slip away... I go into the library with the best of intentions (which "never set a man free," i.e. they're not significant without action) and end up leaving an hour later with 7 books awkwardly exploding out of my arms and not having accomplished anything. Dang library system. They put bunches of related books into the same section so you just glance at one and then the next...of COURSE it's going to be way tempting. I'm obsessed with books. And more books. One of the greatest joys in my life are my BOOKS.

If only I could learn on my own time. I think I'd actually get a lot more learning done, really. Give me Tocqueville, Charles Taylor, Adam Smith, Thomas Sowell, Dinesh D'Souza, and C.S. Lewis and I'll be busy and happy for years. (Though I do confess, I fear that I would one day end up like my econ prof who lives alone in a house full of books. While I admire him for earning six degrees in everything from math to theology, t's certainly not my ideal...more like my greatest fear.)

So anyway, I have like, 30 library books in my room right now. No, I have no shelf space for them so yes, they are scattered on the floor and on my desk. However, I will tell you that I have skimmed probably half of them. ... No, no, that's a good thing. Usually they pile up and I never get a chance to open a single one of them.

Where am I going with all of this? I don't know. Books are addictive and that's it. If only I could stop time while I read.

The title of this installment refers to why I read, I guess. Learning/knowledge is my telos; I learn everything from books and they dispel my false ideas and reinforce the true ones.

At the same time though, the title could refer to my tendency to rationalize my bringing so many books back to my room. Maybe give me a good argument for leaving them in the library and save me from myself next time.

It's late.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I HATE the game "Mafia"

It's by far the most tedious and non-stimulating game ever invented by bored people at a party.

Even so, I had a blast tonight at Spiegel's house. We played ONE round. ONE round of Mafia. It lasted THREE hours. ONE round of that game, THREE hours of my life. And it would have been so dull if it wasn't for a couple of simply excellent people there, specifically Christian Leman and Kyle Holloway. Granted, Kyle was murdered early on in the game, but even so.

Fortunately, when I'm tempted to wallow in misery for whatever reason (or pretty obvious reasons) God reminds me that my happiness does not depend on one person or one circumstance. The amazing friends I have even beat sunshine for reminding me how much God loves me.

I'm too exhausted to write anything profound. Maybe that will come tomorrow. Right now I'm just stoked that I got to hang out with some great people for the evening. Yes--truly great people.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Determination is only weakened by waiting and my patience is already thin.

The best things in life don't just happen to you. You have to seek them out.