I really hope this column will bless you. You can read the most recent column below and previous columns at the archive.
I read an interview with a pornographic actress once. She talked about the frequent response of men when they see her in public while accompanied by their wives or girlfriends. The men would approach her and say with an obviously false inquisitive tone, "You look so familiar. Where do I know you from?" She described the temptation to ruin that man's relationship by answering him honestly.
I miss Jean-Luc Picard.
When I think of truly great male role models, my mind always goes back to Captain Jean-Luc Picard, the captain of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Above and beyond my run-of-the-mill, nerdy Star Trek fascination, Picard stands out in my mind as the last great male role model on prime-time television. His character was an impeccable balance between strength and human vulnerability, emotion and restraint, intellect and action and confidence and humility. His closest confidant was Dr. Beverly Crusher, the ship's chief medical officer. It seems he ate breakfast with her every morning because he valued the opinions and perspectives of a woman. There sat in the captain's chair a man who was competently and unapologetically in command of the ship, using his authority always to accomplish the mission set by his superiors and for the good of his crew simultaneously.
A woman once expressed in a question-and-answer session with apologist Ravi Zacharias that she struggled with the God of the Bible because of God's words to Eve in Genesis Chapter 3. She said, "I can't believe in a God who doesn't believe in me as a woman."
The third chapter of Genesis is on the third page of the little Bible I keep on my desk.
One of the greatest appeals of the CBS show "Undercover Boss" is how it regularly features caricatures of the person you don't get along with at work getting what they deserve. Often, an employee featured in the show will act rudely or unethically in front of the company's owner without knowing it. At the end of the show, the executive inevitably confronts that person, and that person often loses their job.
In an episode that aired last December, the kitchen manager at a Buffalo Wings and Rings was berating and cursing at his employees loud enough for customers in the front to hear. He was particularly demeaning to what he later discovered was the CEO of the company. Here was a man who was given a leadership position in a restaurant. He was given authority and he misused it. It seemed for a while that he was unstoppable until the boss stepped in. Even then, he allowed the kitchen manager's abuse to go on for a little while and kept his cover. At the end of the show, however, he was summarily dismissed.
My long-running obsession with science fiction is probably the natural consequence of my background as a completely unapologetic nerd. Relatively recently, I was sucked into the BBC show "Doctor Who," which is about a time-traveling, human-looking alien who prefers the company of British humans in his travels as he explores space and time, setting right the wrongs committed by any number of alien species across the cosmos.
The doctor's arch-nemeses are the Daleks. The Dalek motto is "Exterminate!" You cannot negotiate with them. You cannot make peace. The only thing the Daleks want to do is kill everything. Even when other antagonists in the series try to ally with the Daleks against the Doctor, they refuse and proceed to try to exterminate all parties involved.
Bad news, parents: Summer is already more than half gone.
In just a little longer than a month, students will head back to school and a special minority will walk into a completely new environment. Former fifth-graders, accustomed to being the oldest, biggest, most mature students with the most freedoms in the school will suddenly become sixth-graders. They will be thrown into a system in which they are not in charge, where they are actually at the bottom of the pecking order.
I hated sixth grade.
Essentialism reigned for 2,000 years.
Beginning with Aristotle, philosophers had an almost standard belief that all things and beings had an essence that defined their purpose and existence. For instance, a knife's essence is the blade, and its purpose is to cut. They argued over what essence was, but never about whether things or people have an essence.
I love Legos. As a kid, if I wasn't playing with my slingshot or toy guns outside, I was playing with my Legos inside. I love how open Legos are. I could create any other toy I wanted from them. A bucket full of Legos was the only toy I ever needed because Legos let me create, and I could do anything I wanted with the things I built. Interestingly, I could never create another me.
Even as far as artificial intelligence has advanced in recent years, we, as a species, have yet to create anything that can rival the creativity, intuition and learning power of humans. It seems to be a rule of being that the created is always inferior to the creator.
I have a 4-year-old daughter who has an amazing imagination.
One day I sent her to timeout. My children sit in timeout in the corner between the door to our garage and the coat closet in our house. Her few minutes were up, so I went to go get her when I heard her voice whispering. I paused to listen.
"OK, are you ready to marry your husband? You're going to have a very happy life with the closet door knob. OK, here's your flowers."
She had made pretend friends out of the doorknobs to the two doors, and was presenting a leaf she found on the floor as a bridal bouquet. I didn't even know how to respond to her indomitable imagination. I just asked her if I could officiate the wedding. My closet and garage door knobs have been happily married for several months now.
"Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Viorst was one of my favorite books as a child. Alexander woke up on the wrong side of the bed with gum in his hair, and every page of the book chronicles how everything that can go wrong in the daily life of a young boy did go wrong for Alexander. I got picked on a lot as a kid and I had more than a few bad days myself. There was always something cathartic about someone else's bad day.
God loved Nebuchadnezzar. God loved him so much, he gave Nebuchadnezzar dreams about the future.
The first time we actually read Nebuchadnezzar's words in the book of Daniel, he laments a mysterious dream that he had in Daniel 2. It was of a large statue made of different materials that was destroyed by a rock and replaced by a mountain. Though Nebuchadnezzar had not told him what the dream was about, Daniel revealed that God himself had given Nebuchadnezzar this dream. God used the dream to show Nebuchadnezzar the kingdoms of history that would follow his and to show him how the Kingdom of God — represented by the mountain — would supplant them all. Nebuchadnezzar praised Daniel's God because only a true and powerful God could reveal another man's dream along with its meaning.
There's a new girl in my youth group. The other day at church, she told me she had "the Force." Being the Star Wars nerd that I am, I understood this to mean she was claiming to be able to move things without touching them and do mind tricks.
And she was right.
In the state of Texas, it is illegal to shoot a buffalo from the second story of a hotel. Neither are you allowed to sell you own eye. In our state capitol, you may not carry wire cutters in your pocket.
I discovered each of these when I searched for Texas' strangest laws. You can find list upon list of laws for almost every jurisdiction in America that we might call "strange" because governments around the country passed laws that seem to exceed, or at least no longer perform, the proper function of government in comic ways.
On Christmas Eve in 1814, British and American delegates met in Ghent, Belgium, to sign a treaty. The Treaty of Ghent formally ceased hostilities between England and the United States of America, putting an end to the War of 1812. But no one told our soon-to-be seventh President Andrew Jackson nor the British forces sent to capture New Orleans until several weeks later.
On Jan. 8, 1815, the Battle of New Orleans broke out with British soldiers outnumbering Americans by more than 2 to 1. The American victory, however, was decisive. The number of British killed, wounded or captured was 2,034 — about a fifth of the total force. By contrast, only 62 Americans were killed, wounded or missing when the engagement ended on Jan. 18.
Humans are experts at destruction. In our history on this planet, we have demonstrated an amazing ability to break and kill. When you consider the things we actually manage to build and create, we seem to excel most at building things that destroy.
Most of the inventions we now enjoy in the modern era were the product of war efforts. Planes, computers, the Internet, orbital flight, nuclear power, GPS, wristwatches, stainless steel and even the microwave oven all have their origins in war in the 20th century alone. Our most successful efforts at creativity were stumbled upon as we intentionally sought out ways to kill each other better.