Book Review: Francis S. Collins, The Language of God

With my school and work schedule being what it is, I have not had a lot of time for non-school-related reading lately. But I was able to find time to devote to this book by one of the foremost scientific minds of our day.

This book is a must-read for anyone with any interest in the creation/evolution debate-or, for that matter, anyone who has ever struggled with the question of whether or not science and belief in God can coexist. Francis S. Collins, head of the Human Genome Project and a devout Christian, takes us through his own spiritual journey and sets out a framework by which we can reconcile science and faith. Collins does a good job of presenting scientific ideas in a manner that does not require a wealth of scientific background knowledge to understand (although at times it gets decidedly cheesy and sentimental–especially the songs that he wrote at various stages in the completion of the Human Genome Project, which appear in the chapter on the human genome). At 234 pages (not including the appendix and notes), this is not a very time-consuming read. Continue reading “Book Review: Francis S. Collins, The Language of God”

The Bulldog Tooth Bonus Feature: Is Ookie Coming Back?

With Michael Vick pleading guilty to dogfighting charges, it seems like a good time to break out the old bulldog tooth and turn it toward the question of whether or not he will play football again.

I don’t think so.

Even if the NFL declares Michael Vick eligible to play after he serves his sentence, there is a huge PR hit that the Cons (or any other NFL team that would dare to consider having him) would have to be willing to take for his sake.  I don’t see that happening.

There’s always Arena Football, but most of the Arena Football League teams are owned by NFL owners and the same PR concerns apply.  Also, in Arena Football the game is sped up considerably, so quarterbacks have to be able to throw quick, accurate passes in a very short time.  This is so not Michael Vick.

There’s always Canada, but does anyone see Michael Vick going up there?

Message to Michael Vick:  Should you ever decide to grace this little neck of the blogosphere with your presence, here’s some free advice for you.  If the best nickname that your peeps can come up with for you is “Ookie”, that’s not a good sign.  You would do very well to dump those peeps and get new peeps; otherwise you are almost certainly headed for trouble.

Fight Club 11: The Heart of It All–Who and What Are Forming You?

I think it is about time to start making a move toward shutting down the Fight Club series.  (Won’t Michael Vick be disappointed?  Oh wait.  We don’t do dogfighting here at the Fight Club, so what does he care?)

This time I would like to address the issue of spiritual formation.

I waited until the end of the series to address this because I believe that spiritual formation is the most fundamental of all the issues that I wanted to address.  An awful lot of the trouble that I see in the world of evangelical Protestant-dom has to do with the kind of believers and disciples that we are, and the forces and influences within our evangelical culture that make us into the kind of disciples that we are.

So what is spiritual formation?  Spiritual formation is the process by which we develop as believers and disciples over the course of our Christian lives.  Now, a lot of this is the work of God inside of us as He directs our lives and experiences in order to transform us into the image of Christ.  As you read the Bible, you will see quite clearly that there are certain things which God has promised to do for us in order to affect this transformation inside of us.

But there is a human component to the process of spiritual formation as well.  This is clear when you see that different believers progress spiritually at different rates.  Some will show incredible growth in a short amount of time, while others will go for long stretches of time with no apparent signs of growth at all.

This is also clear to see when you look at how different believers respond to similar situations in life.  Notice, for instance, the difference in how a Catholic and a Baptist would react to the prospect of a night at the theater with dinner and drinks beforehand.  Or the difference in how a charismatic of the health-and-wealth variety and a hard-core Calvinist would react if a close family member were to become critically ill. Continue reading “Fight Club 11: The Heart of It All–Who and What Are Forming You?”

The Road Trip: A Positively Indispensible Part of the College Experience

This summer I had the opportunity to engage in an activity which is an absolutely, positively indispensible part of the college experience.  No, I’m not talking about Spring Break.  I’m not talking about having gobs of people over to my place for wild parties where everyone gets wasted and the cops get called.

I’m talking about the road trip.

It has been a while since I’ve gone anywhere outside of the southeastern U. S.  And this summer I wanted to do something that at least had some resemblance to a road trip.  So on my most recent visit to Louisiana I traveled the full length of the Natchez Trace Parkway on my way home. Continue reading “The Road Trip: A Positively Indispensible Part of the College Experience”

Book Review: Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart

I’ve not had time to do much reading of anything not related to school over the past year or so, yet somehow I still managed to squeeze in the time to read this little book by noted Catholic teacher and writer Henri Nouwen.

This book is written primarily to priests and lay ministers who serve in parishes, schools, universities, hospitals, and prisons, but I believe its message is applicable to all of us who desire to see the kingdom of God advance in the world in which we live, whatever that world may be.  It addresses the challenge which we all face in retaining a vibrant and meaningful connection to Christ in the face of a world of ever-increasing darkness when so many are adapting, becoming discouraged and disillusioned, or living more for their own name than the name of Christ.

Nouwen looks to the writings of the Desert Fathers (and Mothers–some of these were women) of the fourth and fifth centuries.  They lived in a time when active persecution was no longer a threat–Roman persecution of Christians had ceased some time earlier with the ascension of Constantine–but the threat of assimilation into the world was just as real as ever.  The Desert Fathers (and Mothers) reacted to this by separating themselves from the world–literally–through flight to the deserts of Egypt.  There they became influential leaders in the Church and served as witnesses against the destructive power of the world and to the saving power of Christ. Continue reading “Book Review: Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart”

I’m in a Weird Place

Well, I am now over a year into re-embracing the role of college student after having been out in the working world for several years, and I thought I might reflect a little bit on what it feels like.  I will say this:  it is definitely a weird place to be.

On the one hand, I am not really at home in the world of college students, because I fall outside the traditional college age.  On the other hand, I am not entirely at home in the world of single professional adults either, because my circumstances are so radically different from most of the people I know who fall into that category.

For example, just imagine what it would be like if I were to attempt to pursue a romantic relationship with anyone in my present circle of friends.  I’m not saying that I am considering this; the demands of school and work would leave me with very little time or energy to devote to the pursuit of such a relationship.  Still, college students are among the most resourceful and ingenious people on the face of the earth.  If a college student wants to go to Spring Break and does not have a car, he will build one out of duct tape and dental floss.

So imagine what would happen if I were to attempt to apply that legendary resourcefulness and ingenuity for which college students the world over are known, towards the end of providing a meaningful relationship experience on a limited budget.  Most of the women I know who are at my age and season of life are well established in high-powered careers and would probably not stand for that.  At best, someone out there might find it cute or amusing. Continue reading “I’m in a Weird Place” They Didn’t Have This When I Was in School (the First Time Around)

Today I would like to take a look at another way in which the world has changed since I was in college the first time around. is a subsidiary of Ebay where you can buy textbooks online for a fraction of what they would cost new.  I found out about this from the professor in one of my classes this semester.  What you do is this:  Go to your college bookstore and make a note of all the books that will be required in your classes for the next semester.  Be sure to make a note of the ISBN numbers.  Then go to  Click on “Textbook Superstore” and it will bring up a window where you can search for your books by ISBN number.  Enter the ISBN numbers of your books, and it will bring up the books.  Then you buy them.  It’s that simple.

But here’s the rub.  It usually takes about a week or two for the books to ship by standard media mail (I am assuming that if you are interested in this you would be using standard media mail, because college students are usually looking to save money in any way they can.)  So you need to be sure to order your books for the upcoming term as close to the end of the present term as you can; that way you will have your books in time for the start of classes.

I ordered all my books for the upcoming fall semester through  When it was all said and done, after all the shipping charges and everything, I wound up saving about five dollars over what I would have paid if I had gotten used editions at the bookstore.  Enough to buy one gallon of gas in some parts of the country.  But as a college student, you don’t turn your nose up at any amount of money that you can save.