Tuesday, November 28, 2006


It has been said by scholars that monotheism "emerged" gradually into more and more well-developed human civilizations, as a reflection and indication of a more highly organized political and social system.

It has also been said by "enlightened" scholars of academia today, in the 21st century, obviously the pinnacle of highly-developed societies, that monotheism is a myth, fit for "unenlightened" fools from the Dark Ages. Now we must believe that our origins are from gobbledygook, more disorder than even polytheistic religions teach.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

What I Am Thankful For

Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

Psalm 150

Just thought I'd throw that in because it's Thanksgiving today. So here's a short (perhaps trite, but true) list of what I am thankful for.

1. My parents, for always loving me and helping me with everything. Although they are across the country, I can always count on my mom for her Friday morning call, and my dad for his periodic email commentaries. I'm also thankful that I have somewhat of an extended family, not large, and scattered about, but I think of them often and pray for them.

2. My friends--I still can't believe I have so many wonderful friends, especially because of Advent HOPE. They are not only wonderful people who are loving and loyal, but a good influence as well. I've made a lot of good decisions the past few years because of their influence. Today I'm going to my friends Minnette and Ben's home for supper, along with a large group of our Bible study girls.

3. Especially my best friend Monica, who strangely enough doesn't seem to get tired of going to Target with me and putting up with my craziness and lack of coherent speech.

4. A big fluffy cat who loves to curl up on my lap when I'm reading. What more can you ask for?

5. A nice place to live in a terrific community, a little garden, nice things, plenty of food and clothing, etc. Sounds cheesy but you can't neglect that.

6. Living in a place where you can enjoy the mountains, ocean, desert, big city, gardens, museums, concerts, everything within about an hour's drive.

7. All my cute students who are growing up to be lovely people. They work very hard (most of them) and are developing great skills of concentration and intellect in the process. And most of their families are great to work with, too.

8. The sun. The atmosphere. The balance of oxygen and other elements. The angle and speed of the earth's rotation. The fact that no enormous comet has yet crashed into the Earth. Think about it.

9. Just open an anatomy book or any nature book and try to tell me that all this just happened. Show me someone who actually believes in evolution over millions of years, from single cells into frogs and monkeys, etc., and I'll show you someone who really does believe in myths and fairy tales!

10. Through prayer, I have been able to overcome some bad habits this year. (hope it sticks)

11. Again through prayer, I have been able to overcome some of the difficulties and depressing things I've dealt with for much of this year. (hope it sticks, too)

12. Sea otters, pandas, penguins and African pygmy falcons.

13. Target.

14. Wonderful music, like Mahler symphonies, Brahms chamber music, etc. etc. etc.

15. My violin, to play them on.

16. I'm halfway done learning the Glazunov violin concerto!

17. Down comforters.

18. Blogger with a large storage capacity because this could go on for a while.

19. Friends who love me enough to keep reading this far.

20. And for the most important thing: God, who loved the world so much that He gave us His only Son. I heard the best quote at church last Sabbath: "The love of God is like the Amazon River flowing down to water one daisy." (author unknown) Not only did God give us everything we have on earth, He created the entire universe, and we have no idea what wonders are out there for us to enjoy eventually. Also He gave us His Law, so we have not only a standard but a divine standard to live by, so we can learn to grow up in His character. And if that wasn't enough, He has done and is doing everything possible to avoid destroying us along with our sins, and that is to come personally to live with us, and even be killed by us, so He died instead of us, just simply because He loves us and also, oddly enough, probably even likes us, because He wants to be with us. Compare that with all the other world religions, of various gods killing each other and generating bastard children in soap-opera style, or forcing people to sacrifice to appease the volcano, or tantalizing people with paradise if you do good and eat your vegetables or all kinds of hell if you don't, or of frogs losing their tails and turning into monkeys and eventually your uncle Charlie. I've made my decision.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Steph the Violist!

I've been undertaking an interesting project lately--I've become a violist! No viola jokes, please! Yes, I'm battling the enormous beast (see picture).Thanks to my co-worker April's husband, I have a viola on loan. It's not too hard to play, although it's a little more tiring because it's huge. I can hardly reach the pegs! The hardest part, though, is reading the music. (In case you're interested, viola music is usually written in alto clef, which basically means that middle C is smack dab in the middle of the staff, rather than just under it as in treble clef or just above it as in bass clef. It's pretty much just used for violas. However, sometimes it changes to treble clef, too.) I'm starting to get the hang of it, though. I've been playing chamber music with my friends Jenn, David, Adrian and Jolene. In fact, we are having our first performance this Saturday night, at the Loma Linda Villa. My debut as a violist!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


A great example of the gullibility of the American Consumer...

The other day I joined the usual crowd of thousands of worshippers in the Shrine to American Capitalism (Target) to buy a comfortable pair of headphones for my iPod for exercising. I found a pair I liked, and there was another pair of the same brand and style in white--it looked at least, for all the world, like the exact same headphones, just a different color. But the price tag for the white pair: $11.98; for the black: $4.99. I searched and searched the box for any hint of difference, but everything was exactly the same, word for word. I even hailed a young shrine priest in the traditional red-and-khaki garb and asked him if he knew of a difference besides the color--and price--and after investigating the boxes thoroughly as well, he reached the only obvious explanation for the discrepancy: the white headphones match the iPods. (iPod headphones are traditionally white. Of course.) Who could be caught listening to their iPod with black headphones?! Horrors!

I am the proud owner of a pair of black headphones. Which match my iPod just fine, thank you. (It's black.)


I've been having trouble adding pictures to my blog, but this time it worked...I had to add my favorite panda picture I took at the National Zoo. Pandas, along with racoons, penguins, and Asian small-clawed otters, are some of my favorite animals, and I will gladly make a pilgrimage across the country to see them (although I guess I can just go to San Diego, huh...) This is the superstar celebrity Tai Shan. All of us spectators were in agreement that the tree was a bit too thin for him. We got to watch him climb this tree and settle in for a nap--two hours later when we came by again, he was approximately in the same position.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Maryland and Washington DC

A couple of weeks ago I took a trip to Maryland and Washington DC to visit several friends, see fall colors (for the first time in 5 years...boy, did I miss them), and attend a National Symphony concert.

The first friends I visited were Kyle and Amy, who used to live in Redlands but moved to Frederick, MD this summer. Amy is a violinist and used to be my RSO (Redlands Symphony Orchestra) buddy. I visited with them and their 3-year-old daughter Madilyn for a few days, and we went to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the zoo in DC, and Harper's Ferry.
(Yes, there was a glass wall between Madilyn and Amy and the sloth bear.)

On Sabbath I visited another Amy, with her husband Dan. This Amy is Monica's sister-in-law, who also happens to have been one of my closest friends during my freshman year of college at Southern. We went to the Spencerville SDA church, then to potluck (very similar to the potlucks we're used to here at Advent Hope), then for a walk around a small lake to see more fall colors.

Saturday night I took Amy and Kyle to the National Symphony concert at the Kennedy Center. I was very excited to go because they were playing a piece my friend James Lee composed, called Beyond Rivers of Vision. It was an exciting piece, filled with amazing orchestral colors, using every instrument you could imagine. I'd definitely have to listen to it several more times to catch all the intricacies of it, but it was easy to follow how the themes developed, especially in the first movement. The first two movements were powerful and driving, and the last movement ended in a beautiful, flowing gesture that kind of just disappears into eternity.

But the most exciting thing about James' piece to me was the ideas behind it, and how he had the courage to describe them all in the program notes. The piece is about rivers in the Bible (especially the Tigris) and the prophets associated with them (Daniel), also the great river that flows from the Throne of God (he mentions Rev. 22:1-5 in the program notes!). Here's a little quote from the notes: "It is, however, the deep and sincere importance of the vision received that takes precedence over the location of the particular river." He goes on the explain how the visions deal with eschatological subject matters, then says, "we must look beyond the rivers themselves and study the vision." Then he quotes Gen. 2:10-14; 3:7, 24; Daniel 10 (especially vs. 1-6); and Rev. 22:1-5. All of this for an audience of several thousand in a major concert hall in America's capitol city. Go James!! (I'd recommend reading the entire program notes.)