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TQ: Jobs

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:18 AM

Here are my answers to this week's TQ from Mark.

1. What was your first real job; part of full time? Cutting the grass on weekends doesn't count unless you worked for someone other then yourself.

If it has to be working for someone other than myself, then I guess I still don't have a “real job,” and probably won't for a long while. ;) Nevertheless, the self-employed (and/or “freelance”) person that I am, the first memorable money producing job was probably doing some Perl development in 1998 or getting my first sell of advertising (to Microsoft, incidentally) on a site I was producing in 1997.

2. What was your worse job ever? How long did you last? What made it so bad?
Taking job to be project, since I've never really changed jobs: I'd say producing an auction metasearch a few years back. The pay was very good (I kept raising the price because I wanted out of the project, but the client was willing to pay even my escalated pricing), but it was just a miserable, mindnumbing project of combing HTML pages for traits I could use to figure out where key data was at auction site after auction site. It lasted a few months, ending after the site launched and no one seemed to care to use it.

3. If money were not an issue, and you could change careers right now, what would you start doing?

What I hope to be doing in 5-6 years. Teaching theology and religious studies at a college (four year, perhaps liberal arts, not Bible college) or university. My primary focus would be in the philosophy of religion. In an ideal world, I'd also be able to dabble in my other academic interests, particularly literature and economics. Money isn't the issue, credentials are — I need to get through at least a masters, if not a Ph.D. before this is going to happen.

4. My mother has said countless times that she would rather work for a man boss then a women boss? What is your opinion on the subject of male vs female bosses?

I have never taken well to bosses, I'll admit, hence why I've found being my own boss a much more ideal situation (though, in reality, doing my job means every client is my boss). I'd have to say it depends much more on the individual than the gender — I've worked with and under both men and women; both can be hard at times.

5. What do you think the ultimate job (for anyone) would be?

To me, I think the ultimate job would be an academic job. What could be better than exploring your favorite subject, doing research and writing on it, and teaching it to the next generation of those interested in your field? Of course, I realize I find academia much more appealing than many people do. I tend to think there is no one ultimate job, to be honest.

Note: The questions on this page written by Mark are governed by the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.5 license. I believe my responses are allowed under fair use and therefore are not licensed under the Creative Commons license (I don't want people messing with adapting my personal opinions, thank you very much).

Long, Tedious Meme

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:16 AM


•_ What is your salad dressing of choice?_
Typically, Thousand Island.

What is your favorite fast food restaurant?
White Castle.

What is your favorite sit down restaurant?
Lewis and Clark's in downtown St. Charles.

On average, what size tip do you leave at a restaurant?
Average is probably 15%, although I “default” to 20%. If the service is good, 20%; mostly good, 15%; questionable, 10%; bad, 0%.

What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick of?
The beautiful thing known as a potato.

Name three foods you detest above all others.
Tuna, Herring, Raw meats of any kind.

What is your favorite dish to order in a Chinese restaurant?
Broccoli chicken fried rice.

What are your pizza toppings of choice?
Either the deluxe/supreme or pepperoni and onion (depending on the type and place).

What do you like to put on your toast?
Homemade jellies, preserves, apple butter, etc.

What is your favorite type of gum?
I don't chew gum.

What do you consider to be your best physical attribute?
I have no idea.

Are you right handed or left handed?
Right handed. I wish I was bi-dexterous like my grandfather was.

Do you like your smile?

Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
Do splinters count?

Would you like to?
No, I don't think that sounds like much fun.

Which of your five senses do you think is keenest?

When was the last time you had a cavity?
To the best of my knowledge, never.

What is the heaviest item you lift regularly?
Computer components — monitors, mostly.

Have you ever been knocked unconscious?

If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
No, thank you very much.

If you could change your first name, what would you change it to?
I'm not sure, but something “interesting” while not being “crazy.”

How do you express your artistic side?
Poetry, photography and web design.

What color do you think you look best in?
This isn't something I've ever really thought about. Yellow?

How long do you think you could last in a medium security prison?
Not very long.

Have you ever swallowed a non-food item by mistake?
Paper stuck to food, perhaps. Seeds, pits, etc., yes, I use to do so quite often.

If we weren’t bound by society’s conventions, do you have a relative you would make a pass at?
I certainly hope not.

How often do you go to church?
Most every Sunday. More often if you count going there for meetings and other “work”-type things.

Have you ever saved someone’s life?
I don't believe so.

Has someone ever saved yours?

TQ: Religion in Four Points

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 10:53 PM

My answer to this week's meme from Mark.

1. What was your very first relgious experience that you can remember.
Anyone who answers Baptism, or equivalent for other faiths, will be sacked. ;-)

Baptism. :P Well, actually, that might be quite true, if I was a Baptist. Aside from being ornery, that would depend. Do you mean the first religious ritual I participated in in a meaningful way? I guess that would probably be a Christmas Eve or Good Friday service at some point; the candle light and darkness probably caught my attention in such a service long before regular Sunday services meant much.

2. What was the one event in your life where you made the conscience decision to explore your faith because you wanted too, not because someone told you too.

I don't think I've spent a lot of time not exploring my faith since Confirmation, which was probably the last time I was semi-forced to explore it (though after awhile that too was something I enjoyed). I'm just a curious guy, I suppose.

3. Was there ever a time in your life when you questioned if you had it right? If yes, what was that event?

Sure. Lots of times there are little nagging doubts, although not significant ones. Probably the last really significant time was one Easter evening a few years back — a dark cloud of doubt came over me, but only for the evening. Over the last few years I've picked up what a friend and mentor of mine calls the “nonchalance of faith,” I think. I don't generally question whether my basic beliefs about God are right, even if I question and explore some of the specific doctrines.

4. What is your biggest pet peeve with “religous” folk? General answers please, nothing personal or specific.

I think I most dislike what I'd call an overly strong air of “religiousness.” I become disturbed by people that always seem to jam a bunch of pious sounding words in their phrases (especially when it comes to group prayer) — it seems to me usually these people only sound “highly religious” and that they lack the substance of faith. Often they are self-serving too; for example, using the phrase “it's not about us, it's about God” to a complaint often means “I don't care if you disagree with this, I'm right” or “I know I'm stepping on you, but you should 'turn the other cheek.'” I should be careful here, because I'm sure I've been guilty of this too, but this would be my biggest pet peeve of those who are “religious” (be they actually believers or just people joining the “Sunday morning social club”).

Among believers, I would say my biggest pet peeve is anti-intellectualism. Christians are so worried that scholars are out to destroy the church (which may be true of some, but certainly not all), that many opt to basically reject any attempt to facilitate a dialogue or synergy between intellectual, secular pursuits and faith. In not so many words, the rule is that faith must either dominate the other pursuits (hence “fixing” the results because the answer is already known and thus no investigation ought to be done) or the other scholarly tasks should be forgotten altogether. This is hogwash. That's not to say that the Bible is not the final authority, but if it is truly correct (and I believe that it is), we do not need to force everything else to affirm it. We should simply accept that eventually mutual affirmation will come about without any need of us “helping God win.”

I believe that lack of faith in the idea that fully independent means will eventually corroborate God's Truth (or at least never contradict it) has much to do with the modern caricature of Christians as lemmings without curiosity. If at times we were willing to honestly say, “Such and such is a mystery, and while we cannot explain how this works in God's plan right now, at least it encourages us to dig further into understanding God,” I think the world would gain a much greater respect for the Church in a way that is good. That is, it would not be the church compromising to the world, but rather the world seeing that yes, they too can become Christians without taking their minds off at the door to faith.

Note: I don't direct this at any of my blog readers. Really.

Note: The questions on this page written by Mark are governed by the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.5 license. I believe my responses are allowed under fair use and therefore are not licensed under the Creative Commons license (I don't want people messing with adapting my personal opinions, thank you very much).

FridayQ's: Foreign Places and Lovely Spaces

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:09 AM

Michael has been doing this meme for a little while, and I thought I might give it a try, doing the past two weeks worth in reverse order. The first one is on foreign countries, the second on romance. If you'd like to answer the questions as well, feel free to do so in the comments.

FQ1: What's your native language? Do you speak any foreign languages? If so, how did you come to learn them?
English. I'm working on Koine Greek, presently, although the my main goal is to be good at reading it, not speaking it (who exactly am I going to speak it to?). This is my second time around with Greek, previously through books, now via a Greek instructor. As I've said before, I probably should learn Spanish someday soon.

I have friends and acquaintances who speak the following languages as their native tongues (in order of frequency that I converse with them): Romanian, Spanish, German and Swedish. If I was really good at languages, or at least had lots of spare time, I think I would try to learn all of the above; I feel bad that I know at least one person from each of the above language groups who probably speaks better English than I do, yet I cannot say one iota back to them in their native language or even another language native to neither of us (unless I time travel back to meet the apostles and greet them in Koine Greek :)).

FQ2: What's your native country? Have you visited any foreign countries? If so, which ones?
The good old US of A. I have not been outside of its borders; I was suppose to go on a trip a few years back, but a family emergency canceled that and other opportunities have not arisen.

FQ3: Are there any foreign foods, books, movies, or other items that you are particularly fond of? Name some of your favorites.
Foods, yes, most definitely. Probably my favorite foreign food would be Mexican, although I'll admit that I'd generally prefer the Americanized versions at Taco Bell over authentic Mexican food (not that I don't like the latter). Next would be Italian; I love finding a restaurant still owned by an Italian family and ordering a pizza from it. Chinese would probably be next; I really like egg rolls and broccoli chicken fried rice, among other things. I like a lot of German foods too, but I'm not sure how Americanized what I've eaten has been.

Books… well, I guess I have a number of books I like that are from outside the U.S. I mean, technically C.S. Lewis is a foreign writer, but I don't generally think about him like that. If we are going to do translated works, I'll say Jorge Luis Borges's writings, off the top of my head. Or does Dante count?

I'm not a big movie buff in general, so foreign movies aren't a big deal for me. I barely see any domestic movies! What else do I like foreign? Hmm… well, I like German cars (well, Japanese ones are nice too). :) I had some good chocolates from Austria a few years back as well. I'm not sure, perhaps it is too late at night for me to think of these types of things.

FQ NATIVE: If you had to trade your nationality for that of any foreign country, which would you choose and why?

Sheesh. I'm not sure. For practical reasons, I would choose a first world country. I dunno — maybe I'd “become” German, Italian, Switzerland, Sweden or something like that if I am imagining myself being a native of someplace else. If I was going for something a little different, maybe I'd pick Greece, Israel, Japan or Romania. Now, if I we are talking about yours truly expatriating and going somewhere else, I'd pragmatically pick someplace where I could actually communicate easily, which would give me the U.K., Australia, Canada and Ireland. Of those, I'd probably pick Canada or the U.K.

Last Week's FridayQ: Romance
FQ1: What music puts you in the mood for romance?
Not having ever had a “romance,” I guess I cannot say exactly. To me, though, I'd say that I think cordoning off romance into a particular area is rather foolish; it isn't what you are listening to, but who you're with, right? Admittedly, perhaps some music would be a bad choice, but if you love someone, I think all music would seem romantic in her presence.

FQ2: Where is the perfect place for romancing someone?
Similar to what I said above. I suppose I would think some place quiet that is well suited to talking. Perhaps someplace scenic. But, I do not think that need be necessary. I don't like the idea of “romancing” someone though — it sounds too much like a premeditated attempt at selling one's self. Call me idealistic or a hopeless romantic (pun intended), but I think a relationship ought to be formed simply because two people who enjoy each other's company, and are of opposite sexes, find themselves moving from friendship to mutual love. I have no doubt that this is naive, but still…

FQ3: What kind of foods get you feeling romantic?
Well, ditto what I've already said. I would think whatever food it was that one ate frequently with the beloved.

FQ LOVER: How would somebody go about winning your heart?
Just being herself. If she was kind, interesting to talk to and had a good sense of humor, that would go a long way to it. I think ideally, that person would have a lot of the same interests, but enough different ones that we both could have things to talk about in common and things to share that were not. In other words, not one particular action, but just the general way of being is important; this is a gradual process. Can you see a theme here in my answers?

I'll be honest here; I've had one person win my heart — I'm quite sure inadvertently on her part — so this is not idle speculation on this last question. Of course, the problem is reciprocating by winning hers… if that ever happens, it will only be by grace God chooses to grant me, for I am dubious about whether it could ever occur from what I say and do, and it certainly is not aided at all by my appearance.

The Second Questioning

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:32 AM

A fellow Timothy who also happens to live in my neck of the woods gave me the following excellent questions to answer as part of the Interview Game. I now “owe” interviews to seven people. Would you like to be interviewed and receive your own question set of five questions? If so, please say so in the comments. You can see my answers to the last round of the game, here. Without further ado…

1) When and how did you become a Christian?
I became a Christian when I was 14. I grew up in a Christian family, although I had adopted a Pluralist viewpoint and really didn't “get” the Gospel. I equated good deeds with admission to heaven and therefore doubted my own eternal destination at times (the realization that I wasn't “mostly good” was probably one of the few orthodox ideas I had at the time).

I did not want to go to Confirmation, but my mother insisted, and that is where I first really came to an understanding of the Gospel. Within the first few weeks of the program, the students were asked if they had been “born again.” I didn't understand what they were talking about. But, I did soon learn what this meant, and shortly thereafter I prayed to ask Jesus into my heart. Over the years, there have been times that I felt like I've slipped away a bit from that initial plunge, and at those times I've prayed to recommit myself to Christ, but that time during confirmation is definitely when I would pick out as when I was “saved.” (Note: I do affirm the believe in the perseverance of the saints, so I do not believe I ever backslid out of my faith, but I still do see the value in renewing my commitment to Christ at times.)

Like many people I've talked to who grew up in a church but were theologically off-base, I did not have a dramatic conversion experience that makes for a “great testimony.” Much of the process was a gradual change rather than one experience I can point to. I'm not sure one could really have discerned a difference in me on the day before I prayed the sinners prayer and the day after, but God has slowly molded me into a much different person than I was before.

2) What tools do you use for blogging and why do you think they are better than other tools available to do the job?

I use my own blogging tool, known as SAFARI 2, which I hope to release under a Free Software license at some point. It does not have a lot of distinct advantages for blogging, but I have spent a lot of time trying to shoot for efficiency concerning database querying with an eye to making this a tool that can hold up to Slashdotting-like loads of traffic (and therefore, be usable for my company's online publication, OfB). I've also tried to avoid some of the mistakes in WordPress that makes it easy for spammers to post spam, added a “forum-like” view of comment activity and I am working on a new system of categorizing posts that I think will be advantageous for proper archiving of old content.

3) What hobbies do you have that have not yet made an appearance in your blog?

Hobbies that haven't appeared on my blog? I think now that I'm entering into my fourth year of blogging, I've pretty much touched on all of my hobbies at one point or another. Let's just go over a quick list of my hobbies, eh?
  • Theology and Philosophy — primarily theology, but that's only because I've lacked the time to immerse myself in both to the same extent. I love these two fields perhaps too much though — they both should be the means, the windows, to the truth of God, not the end itself. Right now, I'm on a Karl Barth kick (who was repeatedly recommended to me by my professor Dr. Meyers over the past few years). Next up is a book on the “historical Jesus,” pitting evangelical N.T. Wright against Jesus Seminar scholar Marcus Borg.
  • Politics — I enjoy political theory almost as much as the above mentioned subjects of philosophy and theology. Yes, I like abstract subjects that aren't suppose to be discussed in polite company. So sue me.
  • Other readings — I do a lot of reading on the topics above, but I also enjoy good fiction, be it literature (Go Aeschylus!) or a modern novel, such as the Da Vinci Code.
  • Creative writing — I'm the better part of 20 sonnets into my first sonnet sequence. I've written a bunch of haiku and one tanka, one villanelle, and various other poetry, some of which is posted here. I also have a novel and a play in progress at the moment.
  • Photography — I love playing around with my camera, and it shows. I have over 10,000 digital photos in my iPhoto album.

Notice the conspicuous absence of computer related hobbies. I'm burnt out on computers at the moment, so they've been banned from the list. ;) In reality, this really is the case: these days computers the things I work on as a job and I simply don't find it all that amusing fighting with them “after hours” anymore.

4) What one blog do you read on a regular basis that people who read your blog might be surprised about?

I may be proving rather unexciting now. There are only a handful of blogs I read that are not presently in my blogroll. Yours, Sparkle, Mysterium Tremendum (to which I add: et fascinans!), Celerate, the Book of Confusion

5) If I had responded last time you did the Interview meme, what would have been one of your five questions?

“What would you say are the most surprising similarities and differences of living in the U.K. and St. Charles County, Missouri?”

Sunday Brunch: These United States

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 10:08 PM

1) What state were you born in?
The show-me state, Missouri.

2) What state do you currently live in?
Missouri. As Christopher said, “this is going to be a boring brunch.”

3) How many states have you been in? (and yes, driving through counts!)
Eight states, ordered by how frequently I've been there: Missouri (obviously), Illinois (not much more surprising), Arkansas (see a pattern here?), Indiana, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa. I need to travel some, one of these days — I'm in sad shape, I was suppose to travel out of the country a few years back, but that fell through due to a family medical situation, so I've been to eight states and exactly one nation (if you need me to tell you which one, you didn't read this paragraph very closely).

4) If you had your choice regardless of cost, which of the 50 states would you choose to live in?
I love Missouri, and while I haven't traveled extensively, based on the factors I can come up with either based on experience or what I know about places, I don't have a big desire to move anywhere else in the States. I wouldn't mind heading to Southern Missouri, though; the Ozarks are just beautiful. Springfield might be an ideal town for me, not to big but not too small either.

I wouldn't object to living on the western border of Illinois either, but I wouldn't want to live in the middle part of the state — it is too flat. Alton is a nice town, though, for instance. Arkansas would also do pretty nicely.

Now, about states/districts I'd like to see: Most of New England, New York, D.C., California, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, etc. I'd also like to poke my head above the border and visit some Canadian provinces (nothing particular — I'd probably lean to the east, but if I was up in Washington again, I might try to take a day and go up that way).

5) Which of the 50 states would you rather die than live in?
I have a very bad taste concerning Indiana. It is a fine state and has some pretty areas, but as a whole I'd be loathe to live there. But I don't think there is any state I'd rather die than live in. I love the countryside I saw in Pacific Northwest, but I couldn't stand the rain of a state like Washington, despite the beauty of places like Olympic National Forest/Park. I'd also be rather unhappy in states like Arizona and New Mexico where it gets so hot. Missouri summers are hot enough, thankyouverymuch.

As a whole, I'd probably avoid the Southeast too. I'm not a grits kind of guy, so I doubt I'd fit in there. ;)

35 Questions

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 1:45 AM

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