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Journeying On

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:38 AM

It's been a rough couple of weeks. It's a long story I'll save for another time, but I wanted to post something rather than completely disappear from my blog.

The basic result of the last few weeks occurrences is that I have had to rethink some things I have been doing. Sometimes it is time to move on. I don't like moving on from this or that thing that I have been doing for years, but sometimes it is the right thing to do. I had to make the decision to move on from a project I have been involved in for years this week.

I'm looking forward to focusing on new things… some of which I may be able to detail here soon.

Love at First Sight

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:59 AM

My good friend and misguided political pundit Jason used a song from Brandy in his Facebook status yesterday. It was a quip about the impossibility of falling in love overnight. I got a little carried away as part of my response, so I thought I'd use it as a blog post for your concern or amusement.

Objection 1. It seems that love at first sight, or at least the close proximation thereof, is not possible. For love is too deep a thing to occur so quickly.

Objection 2. It should be noted that if the thing were not impossible, past occurrences would at least suggest it unwise.

On the contrary, the thing seems quite possible and is retold throughout literature, for example, Dante's love of Beatrice and the many cases of love (often crossed with mistaken identity) in the works of Shakespeare. These cases resonate with humanity, and only that which is “the mirror up to nature,” as Hamlet says, resonate with the soul.

I answer that the objections confuse the thing's accidents with its substance. That love is complex and deep need not be tied to a particular time frame always, even if it is frequently. Neither should its most close resemblance to its ideal form be taken to imply that it cannot occur less ideally in its material realization.

And, we may add that what wisdom is with concern to this matter is difficult to discern. If it were Romeo's fate to fall in love with Juliet, was it unwise merely because it led to their mutual demise? Or was it ultimately wise since it was in accord with fate? Perhaps Romeo would have killed himself later out of depression when Juliet was betrothed to another had he not fallen in love overnight but rather more slowly. Would there have been a net gain in happiness then? Likely not, for maybe Juliet would have secretly remained an admirer of Romeo and hence would kill herself too. In any case, unrequited love would have unnecessarily been involved then, as both Romeo and Juliet would have mistaken the views of the other, heaping further sadness upon their souls before their untimely deaths. But having already married someone else, Juliet would now lead to two broken hearts rather than one.

Moreover, though the ideal form may take time to develop, the ideal form is not actually achieved even over long periods of time for, as it is written, a curse exists upon love (Gen. 3.16). Therefore, if one only considers romantic love by its ideal form, then it does not exist in the present human condition. But even the objector does not accept this premise, which is indeed flawed.

Reply to Objection 1. As we have seen, this is based upon a confusion of form with its material realization.

Reply to Objection 2. Likewise it has been shown that the wisdom of the occurence is none too easily judged. To assume the accident of unwise decision is the essence of love at first sight is a matter of confusion. It may be proverbially true, but should be taken as something to which possible exceptions can occur.

LIVE from Shelbyville

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:34 AM

Well, I do not usually blog when out of town, but for grins here I am. I am in rural Indiana, south of Indianapolis for my grandpa's 89th birthday. It was a tough schedule given what I need to accomplish this week while on “break,” but it was nice to share the day with him (sadly, my last living grandparent).

Tomorrow I head home and back to the grind. Hope all are doing well.

(This message courtesy of the wonders of AT&T 2.5G EDGE service on my iPhone in the middle of farmland… Ironically with a better signal than I get at my house since AT&T messed up my coverage.)

Requiem to My Grandpa

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:47 PM

The Death of Ivan Ilych is especially touching for those who have witnessed the prolonged suffering and death of a family member. Ilych increasingly becomes aware of his own mortality and how it is going to rob him of his “perfect” life.

It reminds me a lot of my grandfather. My grandfather was always a fixer of things and just a great person to be around. Few people that knew him did not love to be around him, and often people who had just met him would willingly spend long periods of time talking to him. He savored talking to people and would equally enjoy talking and spending time with both family and strangers who would lend an ear and time. He had a fascination with a great many things and lived what one could consider a really picturesque life, heading toward his eighties as a happy person enjoying his time in retirement.

It was a fire just about four years prior to his death that destroyed his picturesque existence. He became one that often had angry outbursts – like Ivan Ilych – and things seemed to fall apart around him. While my grandmother did not reciprocate with anger, the fire brought to the surface the beginnings of dementia that had not been apparent previously – thus, like Ilych, my grandfather was not only suffering because of his own problems, but also because of my grandmother’s problems.

The thing we did not know at the time was that the anger was actually being brought out as a side effect of the rare cancer that was developing inside of him. Like Ilych, symptoms – such as weakness and tiredness — started to become more apparent, and different doctors tried different solutions with different diagnoses for a good deal of time, until the real villain became apparent. Despite being told he had no hope, my grandfather refused to listen and continue to fight – just hoping to beat the unbeatable enemy within.

The worst symptoms came out about a year before his death and as they slowly ripped away parts of him, leaving less and less of the person we knew and loved and more of the angry person caused by the side effects of the disease to the brain, it reached the point where we – like Ilych’s family – desired less and less to be around my grandfather lest there be another violent outburst. It was a most cruel end to a most wonderful person.

In one of his more lucid moments, however, my grandfather related something very hopeful to my mother. He said his favorite season was always the fall, because fall represented a beginning. Consider this for a moment. After the spring, summer and bright early autumn colors of life, we reach what – at first – appears to be the beginning of the end. Yet it is only through the ending of life as we know it that we can really begin. Without the ending that is autumn, there can be no springtime of resurrection. As my grandfather himself worked through the fact that he was in the fall of his life, he eventually gained a new hope and peace recognizing he was heading forward to the springtime.

It is not being dead that needs to be feared, but the process of dying. Hope springs again, for we know the promise of the Father through the work of his son. Once we can get beyond the shedding of our leaves in a final burst of color, we make way for the innocence and wonder of spring.

Saturday Six on Photography

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 7:25 AM

Here's a meme on a topic near and dear to me. Photography! Feel free to put your answers in the comments.

  • Do you use a Digital or Film camera?

Digital — I've been all digital for seven years now.

  • Do you print the photos yourself or get them printed for you?

Usually, I'll send them to Walgreen's. But I print very few photos.

  • Do you upload your photos to sites such as fickr or photobucket?

I typically use my own photo album that I host, but it is down for the moment. I do post some photos to Facebook, since it helps with sharing them.

  • Do you photo anything and everything or does your camera only come out on special occasions such as birthdays etc.?

Everything, of course. I feel sorry for cameras that only come out on special events. :(

  • When was the last time you upgraded to a new camera?

December 2007 was when I moved up to my current Canon EOS 40D. It has been a great camera so far, with well over 10,000 photos shot on it. I have every intention of seeing how its 100,000 picture shutter rating works out.

  • If you could have any camera on the market which one would you choose and why?

Probably the Canon 1Ds Mk III. Why? That's easy. It is one of the most powerful cameras on the market, fully weather sealed and full frame. And, since price wouldn't be an issue in this question, I might as well go for the top, right?

More practically, I'd probably lean towards the Canon 5D Mk II. Like the 1Ds series, it is full frame. But it is lighter weight, smaller, has the new DIGIC 4 processor and has a HD movie mode that really intrigues me. It would be a nice compliment to my 40D with its APS-sized sensor. In many ways, I'd probably use the 5D Mk II far more than I'd ever use the 1Ds Mk III.

The Times: Does Love Make You Sick?

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:01 AM

One of my news hound friends who sends me whatever is going on in the news sent a quirky little piece from the Times of London appropriate for this weekend. The article is disappointingly cynical about love, but some of the quotes were good for amusement. I do have to deconstruct the conclusion and provide my own take on the matter, however. :)

Romantic love can be so confusing that sometimes you simply want to give up on the whole thing and concentrate on the nature of dark matter, or macroeconomics, or something else less tiring.

Any article that realizes that macroeconomics and love are roughly as comprehensible has something right. However, while macroeconomics has done vastly more harm than good (I'm looking at you, Lord Keynes), love is — despite the pain — ultimately a good thing as part of the creational intent for human beings. The pain may be a result of the Fall, but the Fall has not managed to totally corrupt God's handiwork.

Plato said that love is a mental disease. Modern researchers agree enthusiastically, categorising love as a form of madness and echoing what psychologists have been telling tearful patients for years. (There are certain shrinks who refuse to treat people in the early throes of love because they are too insane to do a thing with.) Currently, scientists are having a genteel academic squabble over whether love most closely resembles the manic phase of bipolar disorder or the characteristics seen in obsessive compulsive disorder.

Insane, indeed. For my money, I think OCD fits better than manic phases. Either way, if that was all one thought about love it might be reason to argue against it. Sadly, the author seems to find the whole idea of love troublesome enough to start arguing that at least certain key parts of it are mere cultural baggage,

The idea that every human heart, since the invention of the wheel, was yearning for its other half is a myth.

Well, maybe the author was right; that yearning doesn't go back to the wheel. It goes back further, to the Garden, to Adam. For all the splendor and goodness of God's creation, not everything was good. “The LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him'” (Gen. 2.18 NIV). One of the three creational mandates for humanity from God is marriage and really the yearning of the heart is the yearning for Eden, the yearning to achieve the creational intent God has for us.

Some have questioned that intent's validity post-fall, especially in the present era. Yes, Adam and Eve enjoyed for awhile something more perfect than can exist in the fallen world, but that doesn't invalidate the creational design here any more than the difficulty of labor eliminates the properness of working or separation from God argues against worship. While the article raises some interesting points, outside of a creational understanding of the world, it ends up missing the point.

But, come on, the macroeconomics reference was amusing, wasn't it?

A Good Start

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:44 AM

The bug I caught a few weeks ago still has me moving slowly, but the New Year is off to a good start for me, I think. My parents, my uncle and I had a nice little party with a nice meal accompanied by a nice, friendly Wii competition. :)

Happy New Year, everybody!

Unwell Cleaning

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 7:13 AM

Well, I seem to have caught some bug that's held me down the last few days — I even had to miss teaching Sunday School yesterday. I had a few symptoms for most of last week, but kept thinking it was allergies; apparently it was a bug of some sort that was just taking its merry time to attack.
It finally hit early Sunday morning. I think (hope) I am on the mend, but it has been a bit frustrating moving so slowly just a few days before Christmas.

On the bright side, I've continued to catalog my books (I now have 212 of my books in a computerized catalog) and I've sorted through about two years of unsorted papers from classes and put them in appropriate (real) file folders.

So, at least I can feel like I accomplished something, right? ;)

Semester Finished

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:43 AM

Well, another semester is checked off, and with it, I am ever so slightly past the half way mark of my seminary career. I find it amazing I've been at Covenant for two years now, or — more properly — will be so in January. I have learned a lot, been pushed hard, been worked on by God and have had the pleasure of getting to know many brothers and sisters in Christ. It has been hard, even painful, but good.

And speaking of pain, I have completed the first part of Hebrew. That feels tremendous, and means I can look forward to… the second part. The first two weeks of January, I will be in an accelerated Hebrew class dealing with weak verbs and other nasty things. The class itself is for two and a half hours per day, but it comes coupled with an estimated six hours of out of class work a day. It will be Hebrew Bootcamp. And that makes me nervous.

But, once I get past that, hopefully I will have completed most of the “feared' milestones at Covenant. Others include Greek, of course, and Acts and Paul, which I completed this semester.

Still, there are two years to go and undoubtedly many surprises therein.

Too Many Things at Once

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:45 AM

Tomorrow is going to be crazy, as will be at least part of Tuesday. Going into it, I am already tired and I have much more I need to get done. But, at least then we will be at Tuesday night and I can hunker down for an exciting night of election coverage.

Remember: Vote John McCain on Tuesday, November 4!

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