Christian Citizenship

A person cannot be both a good Christian and a good citizen. On the surface, this seems untrue. A Christian is someone who should always be striving to do unto others. That means that by definition, a Christian will be opposed to any action which has a victim. A Christian will be against murder, rape, theft, kidnapping. According to the Golden Rule, a Christian should also be against doing things that might harm others such as driving recklessly or polluting the environment.

But it’s a mistake to believe that being a “good citizen” means not leaving victims in one’s wake. A good citizen, according to government agencies, is one who lets the government know who the trouble makers are. A good citizen is concerned with any law breaker, even if the law in question is one of compliance which has no victim. A good citizen is a collaborator with the government, keeping tabs on those around him and reporting them when he deems it necessary. It’s not his job to worry about whether someone’s actions are right or wrong. He doesn’t even worry in every case about whether someone’s actions are legal or illegal. A good citizen worries instead about whether or not someone is in compliance with not only the law, but also prevailing sentiments that the government hasn’t quite gotten around to regulating. This is the government’s idea of a good citizen. This is why every agency has a phone number to report on your neighbors, and it’s why the government will investigate even when the report does not claim that a person has actually broken the law.

A Christian, on the other hand, cannot be so supportive of the government that he forgets his duty to his fellow man. A Christian “must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). And what did He tell us? He said to love our neighbor as ourselves. On this and loving God “depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40).

Posted in General Stuff & Nonsense | Comments Off

Jared’s Papers: Narration: The Elegant Universe Chapter 1

This is a narration from his science reading.

For a sizable portion of the last century, scientists have largely ignored the makings of a serious complication in their model of the universe. This model of the universe has largely been formed by two major theories in physics.

Without a doubt, the two most important fields of the 20th Century have been the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. These fields have together come to describe much of the universe, allowing us to finally gain a glimmer of understanding of the strange forces that govern the world. The general theory of relativity, broadly speaking, describes time and space as a whole, explaining the motions of some of the largest objects we are aware of, from planets to stars to black holes. Relativity tells us that time and space are not fixed constants across the universe. Instead, they remain in flux depending on the way matter moves and other conditions. Quantum mechanics explains the opposite side of the universe, describing how particles inside of atoms move and behave. This field speaks of even stranger wonders than relativity, such as objects that appear out of nowhere and objects with variable characteristics until they are measured.

As far as we can tell, both fields are true. Elaborate, almost unbelievably accurate experimentation has confirmed both of them. Our knowledge of relativity keeps GPS working accurately, while many modern computers wouldn’t be possible without quantum mechanics. Both theories correctly describe the basic nature of the universe. The complication lies in the fact that they contradict each other.

It is not simply that they say mildly different things about the universe. They are too wildly different to be compatible. Any equation that attempts to factor both the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics will fall apart into a string of nonsense. Both theories are true, but both hold the other to be false.

Could it be that the laws of nature are different between the colossal and the infinitesimal? If so, then what size is the dividing line? Scientists have managed to ignore these questions for decades, but it is quickly becoming apparent that they can do so no more. There are circumstances in which relativity and quantum mechanics interact with one another, and we currently have no knowledge of how this is possible. In the inside of a black hole, entire star systems are pressed into microscopic spaces. How are we to calculate what happens next—by using relativity, or quantum mechanics? What of our models of the Big Bang, when the entire universe exploded out of a subatomic space? If two indisputably true theories contradict one another, then how does one make sense of the universe?

The answer, according to some scientists, is to introduce a third theory. Superstring theory, often shortened to string theory, is an attempt by scientists worldwide to discover the basic rules of reality in order to gain a fresh vantage point with which to compare relativity and quantum mechanics. String theorists maintain that from a more knowledgeable perspective, we may find that relativity and quantum mechanics don’t contradict each other at all, and may even compliment one another. They search for the unified theory longed for by Albert Einstein, who formulated the general theory of relativity to that end only to be frustrated by quantum mechanics in his later years. The researchers of string theory seek the ability to define the universe in a simple statement.

Posted in Barefoot Academy for Wayward Boys | Comments Off

Jared’s Papers: Narration: Visual History of the 20th Century

This is a narration from his history reading. He found the topic of interest, so he did a bit of additional online reading on the topic before he wrote this. I think his report reads better than both of his models.

The early 20th Century was a time marked by significant technological advancements. Automobiles slowly began to replace carriages, and the Wright brothers built the first airplane at Kitty Hawk. Geniuses like Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla worked hard to achieve new mechanical marvels, creating devices never before seen on the planet. Guglielmo Marconi was one of these geniuses, a pioneer in the field of long-distance radio communication.

Marconi’s radios were truly marvelous pieces of engineering, capable of delivering messages instantly over great distances, without even wires to carry signals. The nations of the world immediately saw a great future for the device. But as is usual for new pieces of technology, there were uses that were not immediately forseen. The year of 1910 saw the first criminal caught with the aide of the wireless radio.

Hawley Harvey Crippen was a certified doctor from the U. S. A., married to an opera singer who went by the stage name of Belle Elmore. In 1897, Crippen and his wife moved to England, where, with insufficient certifications for medical practitioning, Crippen began to work for a pharmaceuticals company. To make up for his meager check, he supplemented their family income by renting their building to lodgers. Not long afterwards, his wife began to openly have affairs with these same lodgers, provoking Crippen in turn to take a local typist named Ethel Le Neve as his mistress.

While clearly dysfunctional, nothing truly suspicious occurred in the Crippen residence until January 31st, 1910. In the aftermath of a party taking place in their home, Belle Elmore disappeared. Hawley Crippen began to tell local residents that his wife had taken time off to visit America. At the same time, Ethel Le Neve moved into the house, and was frequently seen wearing Elmore’s clothes and jewelry. As his former wife’s friends grew more and more suspicious, Crippen told them that his wife had died while in America, and her remains had been cremated in California. Skeptical of the claims, one of Belle Elmore’s friends in the entertainment industry alerted the local police to the going-ons at the Crippen residence. A Scotland Yard Inspector named Walter Dew arrived at the home with a search warrant, where he discovered a dismembered corpse in the cellar and a suspicious absence of Crippen and Le Neve.

Unbeknownst to the Inspector, the couple had already fled from the house and arrived in Belgium. Crippen had shaved his moustache and removed his glasses, going by the name of Mr. Robinson. Le Neve disguised herself as a young man and claimed to be his son. The duo planned on taking a ship to Quebec, Canada, where they planned on starting a new life together away from the meddling of the law.

Unfortunately for them, the ship they had boarded was in the possession of a wireless radio transmitter and an observant captain. Captain Henry Kendall recognized the pair from the descriptions on local police posters, and used his radio to inform Scotland Yard about his confidence that the fugitives had taken refuge on his ship. On July 31st, Crippen and his mistress arrived in Quebec only to be introduced to Inspector Dew. According to eyewitnesses, Crippen admitted that the suspense of the chase had been getting to him and cheerfully surrendered himself into custody.

Upon returning to England, a trial was conducted to investigate Crippen’s involvement with his wife’s disappearance. While the body in Crippen’s cellar was too mutilated for immediate identification, a scar found on a piece of torso matched a specific scar Belle Elmore was known to possess. The body was also found to contain a high quantity of a poison Crippen was known to have purchased. In November, Hawley Crippen was found guilty of murder and hanged, claiming his innocence till the very end. Ethel Le Neve was acquitted of her charge as an accomplice.

This last century, Hawley Crippen has become moderately well-known as the first criminal to be captured with the aide of wireless communication technology, starting a long involvement between police and new technologies culminating in the modern use of 9-1-1 as an emergency telephone number. The incident was perhaps the dawn of a new age of technology, as new devices began to work their way into fields never considered by their creators.

Ironically, just as a new technology was responsible for the capture of Hawley Crippen, even newer technology might establish his innocence. In 2007, a team of researchers working with tissue samples from the crime scene claimed that the corpse found in Crippen’s cellar had an entirely different genetic structure than Belle Elmore. Another team of American researchers performed an even deeper genetic analysis, and determined that the body wasn’t even that of a woman. While debate rages as to the validity of the tests, there is certainly a new element of doubt in the case. The possibility may always remain that Marconi’s radio transmitter may have caught the wrong man.

Posted in Barefoot Academy for Wayward Boys | Comments Off

Jared’s Papers: Descriptive Writing: The Emerald City of Oz

This is a descriptive writing imitation from LLTL Level 5.

The Nome King was in one of his rages again. Over and over again he stormed from one end of his cavern to the other, all the while shouting and cursing incoherently at the rough stone walls that surrounded him. Every now and then he plucked one of the many gemstones that protruded from the walls, and threw it as far as his short arms would allow across the cavern. Repeated incididents of this behavior had left most of the cavern walls that were within his reach bare of the glittering jewels. A line of dull stone thus struck right through the middle of the jewel-studded walls, serving as a testament to the Nome King’s very violent way of coping with his problems. The Nome King seemed to see this patch of ugliness as yet another outrage that warranted his gibbering, cursing, and the throwing of large objects across the room.

About midway through one of his furied charges across the room, the King suddenly skidded to a halt, ceasing his shouting as an altogether more ominous look came into his eyes. His eyes flitted to the large gong he kept in the room, and in a moment he was savagely beating it, sending its deep rumbles throughout the cavernous complex that was his kingdom. For such a person as the Nome King, a tantrum held only so much pleasure without someone to torment.

Within moments, the Chief Steward of the Nomes had arrived in the throne room, sticking only his head through the main door and into the cavern. A fist-sized emerald barely missed striking him in the face, clattering off the wall beside him. Summoning up a bit of courage, the Steward opened his mouth and began to speak formalities.

A ruby struck him in the eye, dropping him straight to the ground. His vision blurred as the Nome King’s ranting filled his ears.

“You’re not here to speak! Bring me the Counselor! I said, bring me my Counselor!”

The Chief Steward had just enough time to scramble to his feet before one of the largest saphires he had ever seen went flying past his ear. Despite a fat body and short legs, the Steward took off down the narrow halls of the caverns at an incredible speed.

A few minutes passed before the Chief Counselor stuck his head through the door. The Nome King was still angry, but in a subdued way—a silent, predatory rage that conveyed more danger than if he were shouting death threats. The Counselor had seen enough rage from his king to make a fair comparison.
The Counselor entered the throne room, bowing low before the glaring monarch. “You have summoned me, my lord?”

The Nome King’s narrow eyes fixed on him.

“I am angry at the moment,” he breathed softly, slowly rotating a melon-sized crystal in his hands.

“Yes, my lord. Are you appropriately enjoying your anger…?”

“Anger is a poor subsitute for godhood, Counselor. While a good rage gives one the feeling of true power, it is ultimately empty. Boring.”

The Counselor’s eyes drifted to huge crystal. Clearly he did not find the King’s rage to be particularly boring.

The Nome King suddenly threw the crystal into a wall and began his ranting anew.

“My Belt is gone, fool! Every so often I wish for it. I remember the feeling of godhood that accompanies it. I remember the impossible things I could accomplish with it girdled around my waist. But now, the power to reshape this universe is out of my reach. This causes a… certain amount of ire on my part. What, my Counselor, would you suggest?”

The Counselor wrung his hands helplessly. “I have little to suggest, my lord. Surely you in your wisdom can find a much preferable answer that whatever I might—”

“What would you suggest, fool!”

The Counselor swallowed. “Well, my only thought would be that, if your rage is tied to your wanting for magic, then, perhaps, it might be prudent to simply… learn to do without magic.”

The Nome King stood quivering for a moment before falling to his knees with a cry of rage. His clawed hands went to his own face, clawing at his bearded cheeks and drawing blood. Cries of pain mingled with bellows of rage as the King rocked back and forth in this manner. Abrubtly his head moved upwards, his eyes fixing on the Counselor, who had been slowly backing away towards the door.

“You are a fool!” the King shouted, still scratching at his own face.

For the first time, a hint of defiance seemed to manifest in the Counselor. “If I am a fool, then at least I am in good company.”

With that, he turned and hurried out of the room, his heart beat echoing just as loud in his ears as the ear-splitting shriek of the Nome King.

Posted in Barefoot Academy for Wayward Boys | Comments Off

Jared’s Papers: Foreshadowing in the Wheel of Time Series


All great books consist of a well-planned story filled with realistic characters and actions that advance the plot. In many books, the literary technique of foreshadowing is used. Foreshadowing consists of subtle hints about future events in the narrative. It can serve to stimulate the reader’s curiosity about the novel’s ending, or to guide the reader into accepting large revelations later on. Now, if foreshadowing hints at the future of the storyline, then it stands to reason that a longer storyline will hold the potential for more cases of foreshadowing than a shorter one. Such is the case in The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, a fourteen-volume epic fantasy series incorporating no less than four distinct types of foreshadowing.

The first type of foreshadowing is also the most common in the world of fiction in general. This type consists entirely of simple statements throughout the series, which serve to pave the way towards eventual revelations. For example, the character Thom Merrilin tells the protagonist Rand al’Thor that he is “as tall as an Aielman.” This pronouncement is made to the character several times in The Eye of the World alone, until it is revealed in The Shadow Rising that Rand is actually part-Aiel. The frequent foreshadowing makes the reveal more believable. Similarly, the character of Egwene is told on a number of occasions that she may become the youngest and most powerful Amyrlin Seat for hundreds of years—and she does so within the course of the series.

The second major source of foreshadowing in the books are prophecies. While less prevalent in general fiction than the former type, prophecies are still very common in works of fantasy and science fiction. In the Wheel of Time, prophecy takes the form of the Prophecies of the Dragon, written works describing the future actions of the protagonist Rand as he becomes the figure known as the Dragon Reborn. Fragments of the Prophecies are cited throughout the books as Rand slowly fulfills them. While new details concerning the Prophecies may be revealed, it is generally assumed that they will not change or grow in number. Prophecies are a fixed form of foreshadowing, allowing little change in their structure until they are fulfilled.

Similar to Prophecies, but more dynamic in nature, are the Foretellings. Foretellings are similar to premonitions in other works in that within the narrative, they are given within the time frame of the series. While the Prophecies of the Dragon were written thousands of years before any of the protagonists had been born, Foretellings can be new pieces of information that appear in the current period. The character of Elaida gives multiple Foretellings through the series, including the prediction that Rand will be central to many great happenings in the world. Foretellings are essentially new additions to prophecy, or may serve as tools towards understanding the original.

The final major type of foreshadowing in The Wheel of Time is also the most unique to the series. This type is the special power possessed by the character of Min. Min is capable of seeing images around other characters, which hint at the futures of their lives. When she looks at the character of Mat, she sees a dagger with a ruby in it, which later becomes an important part of Mat’s personal story arc. Her power adds a unique flavor of foreshadowing with a visual component.

While many series possess foreshadowing, Robert Jordan was certainly one of the great masters of the technique. His foreshadowing, as is ideal, is both subtle when first seen and obvious once the hinted events transpire. Readers are both bewildered at the level of planning involved and even annoyed at their failure to predict the twists in advance with the clues they were given. The Wheel of Time series, made up of fourteen books filled with delicately placed hints, is truly one of the greatest models of foreshadowing in literary history.

Posted in General Stuff & Nonsense | Comments Off