December 31, 2007

Friendly Beasts

We had a great Christmas this year with lots of good visiting with our family. We noticed an interesting phenomenon when we were sorting through pictures yesterday: we had taken far more photos of everybody’s pets then we had of family members. This could be a result of our own lack of domesticated companions or could be that the animals were simply more photogenic then our relatives (kidding…mostly). Whichever the case they make for a nice composition:

I have plenty of philosophical thoughts and discussion tangents running through my head but I feel like saving them for next year.

December 14, 2007

Destroying the IRS

I have a question for all the hardcore Ron Paulers out there. NPR has been providing a lot of coverage on Huckabee since his recent up rise in popularity. They were specifically addressing his plan to completely dismantle income tax by increasing sales tax to 23%. Basically taxing what we buy instead of what we make. This sounds appealing to someone like me who does spend a lot, even though I know there has to be a catch somewhere in there. Anyway, it sounded to me a lot like something Ron Paul would do, and I am wondering how RP might look at this specific plan raised by Huckabee (would he agree with him, would he do something completely different, would he call Huckabee a moron and challenge him to a duel to the death using nothing but sporks)?

December 1, 2007

Dinosaur Oragami

Last week Laura and I went a bought a cheap as free Christmas tree from Wal-Mart and decided to decorate it with origami animals. We went to the library today and raided the children’s section for some extra design’s and hit the jackpot: a whole book dedicated to dinosaur origami. So here are some of our creations:







Horseshoe Crab

Dove (for top of tree)

Cardinal (folded by Grace)

The Two Mice

Sea Turtle

Humming Bird

November 26, 2007

Image of Christ

(I apologize in advance both for this post being too long and not long enough. Most people won’t have the time to read it, but those who do will find that it barely scratches the surface.)

On Saturday Laura, Raghu, Adam, and I went to the Kimball to see their exhibition on early Christian Art. It was a fantastic exhibit showing great examples and leaving me pondering the status of art in the Christian world today. One issue that has been bugging me lately is the debate on images of Christ, which puts me directly opposite reformed thought. While I might not completely embrace the legacy of Calvin, I usually find my self at least respecting his underlying theology. So I dug a little trying to get to the central issues to find our differences(if anyone feels that I have misinterpreted the Reformed position please feel free to correct me).

The debate starts by asking the question: What is the purpose of the second commandment? Very specifically (in the English language) it seems to be prohibiting Idol making and worship. The argument goes something like this: God being a spiritual entity cannot be worshiped through a physical representation. Such a representation cannot properly convey His divine presence even in the slightest and so our worship would naturally fall upon the object instead. Christ is the pure image of the invisible God, so to make an image of THE image would be to try and make an image of the triune God.

On the surface the logic seems to flow (don’t make an image of God, Jesus is God, so don’t make an image of Jesus) but for better logic we must incorporate why we are not to make an image of God. The reason is tied up in the fact that He can not be contained within physical or mental limits. If we make an image we will start to view God as something with physical limits. But God did become something physical, the ultimate physical representation, with the Incarnation. We should be constantly reminded that the Creator of the universe walked in very specific dirt, actually touched very specific people, and was killed and resurrected at very specific locations. Christ, although God, has a physical presence and can and should be represented by physical images lest we separate ourselves from His Incarnation.

As a supporting argument: Christ’s story is told through narrative, where the mind naturally conjures images and is specifically described by John in Revelation. To try and repel any image of Christ from our minds and hands seems to contradict the very nature of the scriptures.

Why did Calvin (and many others) come to these conclusions? Though I think it was in a large part reactionary, I also think that there is a very real observation that creations of our hands can become idols and misrepresent the truth in their subjects. Take this quote from Lewis out of A Grief Observed:

"It doesn't matter that all photographs of (my wife) are bad. It doesn't matter -not much- if my memory of her is imperfect. Images, whether on paper or in the mind, are not important for themselves. Merely links. Take a parallel from an infinitely higher sphere. Tomorrow morning a priest will give me a little round, thin, cold, tasteless wafer. Is it not in some ways an advantage that it can't pretend the least resemblance to that with which it unites me?

I need Christ, not something that resembles Him. I want (my wife), not something that is like her. A really good photograph might become in the end a snare, a horror, and as such an obstacle.

Images, I suppose, have their use or they would have not been so popular. To me however, their danger is more obvious. Images of the Holy easily become holy images-sacrosanct. My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence? The Incarnation is the supreme example; it leaves all previous ideas of the Messiah in ruins."

Still, I don’t think that the banning of images is the answer. There should be a balance, like having an active teaching on the importance and meaning of images. Otherwise we are suppressing a natural imitation of the creative beauty of our Lord and (more importantly) suppressing the very nature of the Incarnation.

"Giotto and Fra Angelico would have at once admitted theologically that God was too good to be painted; but they would always try and paint Him. And they felt (very rightly) that representing Him as a rather quaint old man with a gold crown and a white beard, like a king of the elves, was less profane than resisting the sacred impulse to express him in some way. That is why the Christian world is full of gaudy pictures and twisted statues which seem, to many refined persons, more blasphemous than the secret volumes of an atheist. The trend of good is always toward Incarnation. But on the other hand, those refined thinkers who worship the devil, whether in the swamps of Jamaica or the salons of Paris, always insist upon shapelessness, the wordlessness, the unutterable character of the abomination"
G.K. Chesterton "The Mystagogue"

Futher reading:
A collection of anti-image quotes and verses.
An applicable modern situation for this discussion on The Passion of the Christ

November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Stories

Laura, Grace, and I ventured north of the Texas border to celebrate Thanksgiving with some of my great uncles and aunts in Oklahoma. Besides the tremendous amount of food and beautiful countryside, the best thing about the trip was the stories. I love listening to the assorted tales of my family, so I will try and retale a couple of the more memorable ones.

The Truck Stop

My Uncle Buck and Aunt Sut (whose house we went to) have been in the horse business (among many others) for as long as I can remember. One night they were delivering a horse to someone on the other side of Oklahoma and were headed back home rather late at night. Aunt Sut was in the back seat asleep and Buck decided to stop at a truck stop about an hour from their house to fill up. As he is filling up, Sut wakes up and walks in to use the restroom. After she is done, she walks out to the truck to discover that there is no truck. She walks completely around the store thinking that he might be maneuvering the trailer but there is no Buck and no truck. Keep in mind that it is about 2:00 in the morning. So she walks back in and asks the two Indians behind the counter if the man in the truck paid. They said he did and that he left. Sut takes a seat and waits for Buck to realize that he had forgotten his wife but he doesn’t ever come back. She approaches the clerks again and asks if they can call her husband. After reassuring them that it probably won’t be long distance, they call Buck’s cell phone (not allowing Sut to touch their phone). The resulting conversation:

Buck: Hello?
Clerk: Sir, you forgot your wife at the Flying J truck stop.
Buck: I think you have the wrong number, my wife is asleep in the back seat. (not even checking behind him)
Clerk (to Sut): What’s your name?
Sut: Carra McAdams
Clerk: She says her name is Carra McAdams.
Buck: (slowly turning around) Oh…

The Deer Hunter

This story stars out with Uncle Bubba (Sut’s brother) arriving early one morning on a visit to Buck and Sut’s house. In the early morning twilight he is walking to the door when Sut bust out in a nightgown with a deer rifle. After Bubba quickly starts to apologize for every thing he ever did, Sut explains that the gun isn’t intended for him but a lame deer they saw in their pasture. Bubba takes the gun and kills the deer and asks Sut for her deer tags. Well she hadn’t got them. Bubba after raising a fit about $6000 fines sends her to the local feed store to go and get some tags. So here is Sut at the counter:

Sut: I need some tags quick!
Clerk: Why are you in such a hurry? You think you’ll get a deer today?
Sut: I do believe I’m going to get a buck.

I thought I’d close with some hay bay jumping and other random country activities. Hope everybody else enjoyed their holiday.

November 19, 2007

Cat in the Attic

Update: The cat escaped on Monday. Laura heard it around the side of the house.

It all started Saturday morning when we heard a cat meowing from somewhere near the entry to our apartment. We thought it was a cat which had gotten into our trash we had left outside. It turned out to be a kitten trapped somewhere in our attic/wall, a wall that we shared with our neighbors. So I donned my headlamp and hankerchief (to provide my lungs some protection from the fiberglass insulation) and proceeded to crawl up into the attic. I found the approximate location of the cat (after scaring off its mother) but for the life of me I could not find it. I reluctantly retreated only to tear up the ceiling a little when exiting. Still the needy little cries constantly filled our apartment, so I repeated my trip several times with no success. I even hauled my drill up there and made a sizable hole in a section of the ceiling that dropped down a bit but still no cat. Now Monday morning, it is still crying and my best guess is it is somewhere above the neighbors apartment. Hopefully the apartment people will come today.

Here is a sectional sketch showing where I thought the cat was and where I think it is now: (I have been doing too many construction drawings at work)

And for the sake of randomness, here is a sketch of an Ent:

November 14, 2007

Jars of Clay Competition

Well, I made the first cut for the t-shirt competition. Here is my design and a brief description of the thoughts running through my head:

The incarnation of Christ heralds the arrival of peace into the chaotic, fallen world. It is interesting that our culture should juxtapose this gospel with the stress and disorder of the consumer season. In this design I wanted to incorporate the idea of peace in the midst of chaos by using the imagery of hibernation. The bears remain fast asleep throughout the blizzard above them knowing that through the storm there are the peaceful stars above. As the chaotic holiday season approaches, we too need reminding that the world has been redeemed unto Him who holds all creation firmly in place.

It is supposed to be a cross section of a winter night (J=stars, A=Clouds, R=Storm, S=Trees, OF=Snow, C=Leaves beneath the snow, L=Caves, A=Bears, Y= Ground beneath the bears). I hadn’t used photoshop in a while so it didn’t come out exactly like I planned.

Anyone who wants to see all the other t-shirts designs and to vote for your favorites go here:

November 11, 2007


We’ve had a busy week and weekend around here.

Laura has been preparing for her panel over Auden on Tuesday.

I flew to Harlingen to set up the new Southwest boarding system.

I went to tour several modern houses this weekend.

I finished up my design for the Jars of Clay t-shirt competition.

I went and saw No Country for Old Men last night with Raghu, Adam, and David.

And afterwards we (with Laura in tow) went to a huge Indian celebration (Diwali) at Texas Stadium in which a giant 8 headed statue was set on fire and much weird food was eaten.

October 31, 2007

Really Scary

Happy Halloween and Reformation Day! I have decided to sketchup some concepts of Halloween costumes that would scare me.

From Left to Right:

Rudolf Clausius
Though he is a little scary looking, the real horror is his discovery of entropy which predicts that the universe will eventually reach heat death in which there is no motion or life and all matter and energy are equally distributed.

Joel Osteen
He is the poster boy of the health and wealth gospel and can continually give me the jibblies with his “7 steps to becoming all god has created you to be”.

Supreme Court Justice
They are not elected, are appointed for life, and are the only clear and direct law/policy making branch of the government. That’s pretty scary.

Involuntary shudder. If these ever start showing up in my nightmares, Laura might have to commit me to an asylum.

Ketchup Clown
Combines my loathing of ketchup and Blake’s fear of clowns. Don't ask.

Industrial Revolution (dog)
Is anyone really grateful for mass production?

Oh and here is my jack o lantern. It is some kind of dragon or fell beast.

October 25, 2007

Upcoming Movies

There are not a lot of sequels or big impressive movies being produced over the next couple of months so that means there might be some good stuff coming out. The following is a list of a few that I am looking forward to. As a disclaimer: I am not vouching for the entertainment or moral value for any of these, as I have yet to see them. There are even a few that I know beforehand that aren’t for everyone, especially if you are adverse to violence.

No Country For Old Men (Nov 9)
I have been looking forward to this movie for a while. It is based off a book by the brilliant Cormac McCarthy (All the Pretty Horses) and is directed and produced by the Coen brothers (Fargo, O Brother Where Art Thou). It is set and filmed in West Texas.

Southland Tales (Nov 14)

What could make me interested in a movie that contains The Rock, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mandy Moore, and Justin Timberlake? This line: Directed by the director of Donny Darko. That in and of itself makes it worth seeing (in my little world) and seeing the trailer: it looks like a pretty solid sci-fi, musical, parody of American culture.

The Golden Compass (Dec 7)
I am still a little skeptical being a fan of the book but the latest trailer makes me want to give it a look. As a forecast, I expect the evangelical community to have a feeding frenzy with the source material (greater than Harry Potter and the Da Vinci Code put together).

I am Legend (Dec 14)
I will go see this if only for the preview for the next Batman movie, but it looks entertaining enough on its own. Nice to see Will Smith back to doing end of the world movies (well I guess he only previously did one end of the world movie, but now he has two).

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Dec 21)

Perfect material for Tim Burton. A dark comedy musical about a barber that goes over the edge and starts killing people to give to the meat pie lady for filling. Seems like they got the entire Harry Potter supporting cast.

Charlie Wilson’s War (Dec 25)
Interesting story and it has Tom Hanks, good possibility it will be worth watching.

October 15, 2007

Celebration of Family (In Memory of C.A. Haynes)

This weekend I traveled out to West Texas for my Grandad’s funeral. The service took place out at my great aunt Cathy’s ranch and as you will see from the photos it wasn’t your ordinary funeral. My father officiated from a dirt road to a small gathering of family seated upon folding chairs in the desert. After several stories were told and some songs sang, the grandkids took his ashes up to a ridge to scatter them and bury his boots. Afterwards we ate a huge meal of beef ribs, barbeque chicken, and freshly slaughtered goat with too many sides and deserts to name (this was after a large breakfast of burritos before the service). Needless to say there was a whole lot of eating, all while catching up with family that had grown out of touch.

The thing that many will find odd was the general uplifted spirit of the crowd. There was very little black being worn and posing for a picture at one point Christina asked if we shouldn’t be smiling. Stranger still is the fact that most of my family are not from a Christian background (in any case my Grandad wasn’t). This wasn’t necessarily a recognition of his passage into the kingdom nor was it in any way an irreverent. The only way I can describe it was a celebration of family, the gratitude for a man that brought us all together in life and in his death.

Aunt Cathy's Ranch

people gathering for the service

My dad giving the eulogy

looking back at the service as we go to spread the ashes

(clockwise from top) Aunt Annette, 2nd Cousin Bradon, Uncle Mark, Dad, Mom

C.A.'s sons: Tye, Robert (Dad), and Mark (holding his grandson Bradon)

C.A.'s grandchildren/great grandson/grand daughters-in-law: Corey, Bradon, Josie, Carra, Alex, Heath, Christina, Jacob, Laura

Laura (my wife) and Corey (my sister)

And we eat...

and talk.

My dad preparing the breakfast

My mom preparing for a 4-wheeler ride

My great uncle Bubba

Heath (my brother) holding Bradon

Christina (Heath's wife)


and a baby javilina.

October 2, 2007


This weekend I discovered once again why we should have bought a truck. I built some shelves and a ladder at the UTA wood shop. The shelves were for our DVDs and I designed them to fit together like large legos. The ladder is for my future treehouse which I will explain in a later post.

Our poor little car filled with lumber.

The completed shelves.

The big oak and my ladder (note that the ladder is 14’tall)

September 28, 2007


I don’t own a TV. This is more a statement of my own lack of self control then it is a defiance of culture. If there is a television in front of me and I am anyway remotely bored, I will watch it. So because of this I found myself over at Raghu’s apartment last night in order to watch The Office and hang out. It seems that all the networks are coming out with new shows at the moment because the commercial breaks were peppered with premiers that I must see. I must add that with all the crap being processed out there, I am in no way regretting my decision not to own a TV. But with the temptation to be gluttonous out of the way, I will catch The Office and Lost. Probably on the internet.

So to close, here are a few quotes from Dwight from The Office:

“Whenever I’m about to do something, I think “would an idiot do that?” and if they would, I do not do that thing.”

“I am fast. To give you a reference point I am somewhere between a snake and a mongoose…and a panther.”

“No. Don't call me a hero. Do you know who the real heroes are? The guys who wake up every morning and go in their normal jobs and get a distress call from the commissioner and take off their glasses and change into capes and fly around fighting crime. Those are the real heroes.”

September 25, 2007


If you were a cartoon watching child in the 90’s, you probably had more then your fair share of environmental propaganda (mixed in with all the “Just Say No” anti-drug stuff). My personal favorite was Captain Planet who saved the world from evil polluting super villains. This, along with a kid who was absolutely nuts about animals, probably drove my parents insane on many occasions. Especially my dad, whose job at the time was a government trapper. I remember asking him why he had to kill animals when in my mind they were the innocent bystanders of invasive humans.

When I got a little older I eventually embraced my redneck roots and have been hunting many times with my father. I learned the gravity of killing, and had a very good example in my dad of a proper hunter. We killed for meat not for trophy, cleaning the animal ourselves, and this really impressed upon me a respect of the cycle of life and death.

I have found myself turning back to my tree hugging tendencies in the past few years, and feeling like I am coming to it with a much more mature attitude. In my humble opinion, the conservative right has completely butchered the Christian position on the environment; a large part in reaction to the left’s extreme view on it. Liberals would have us completely cut off from nature, stating that the natural state of the world is humanless. But conservatives would have nature destroyed for the sake of our progress, negligence, or apathy. Neither has a balance view.

Our relationship to the Earth is one of stewardship; God gave us the job of looking after it in Genesis. The picture of a steward is one who greatly trusted by the king is given the power to rule the kingdom until the king returns. This job should rank up there on our list, for it was the very first job given to man. Ideally this would encompass two things.

1. We should be a gathering and passing on intelligence about the natural cycles of the world. This shows us the importance of science and the importance of education; passing on a knowledge base to the next generation. It also shows the importance of being closely acquainted with nature; whether that be hunting, camping, hiking, gardening, getting outside, etc.

2. We should be interacting with our environment in a positive way as to develop a symbiotic relationship with nature. This can only be done when the first is properly executed. In contrast to the humanless nature, humans should pursue a very active role in the natural world. We should be making an earth that benefits both people and the environment.

This is all ideal of course; man has had a dysfunctional relationship with the natural world since we left the garden. As a whole we tear things up for our selfish benefit. But I don’t think that the church should forget what we are striving for.