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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gas Prices: $1.369 per gallon!

I am having trouble believing it - I paid $1.36 for gas last night at a Kroger gas station. I feel a bit guilty about gloating, but it just feels so good. :)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Matthew Chapter 9, verse 36

"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."

Harassed and Helpless - that's what we are. We are Powerless in this world. That's because were fallen flesh in a fallen world. We're helpless to overcome it. That's why we need Jesus - to overcome the world for us.

I grew up with cows and sheep. I must say that sheep are stupid. As a teenager, I felt nothing but contempt for them. I didn't feel compassion for sheep. Sheep will do the wrong thing, go the wrong place - it's maddening. But I did learn that you cannot yell at or bully a sheep to do the right thing. Now a cow you can yell at, and out of fear she'll go the right way. With cows you can motivate them with either carrots or sticks. For sheep, the sticks just don't work. They get all upset and become self-destructive. Yelling at sheep doesn't work either. You need so be patient, calm and confident. You cannot rush sheep. But they will follow you if they know your name and trust you.

And isn't that how we humans are? The stick of the law didn't work for us. We just couldn't follow it to righteousness. We need carrots. We need love. When Jesus sees us, he sees sheep, and feels compassion. He is the Good Shepherd. He will lead us to green pastures.

Yet in my humanness, since I see sheep and feel contempt, I project that emotion on to God. I assume that when he sees me, harassed and helpless, wallowing in the same self-destructive sin again and again, he sees me with contempt. But the Truth is that God sees Jesus, not me. And Jesus sees me with compassion, not contempt. It takes a lot for me to overcome my inate prejudice and believe Jesus actually has compassion for me. I feel shame at my actions. I don't want Him to see them. But he sees and doesn't shame me. He loves me.

So back to the verse: & tie it in with the Celebrate Recovery concept of Powerlessness. I am powerless over my addictions, over my hurts hangups and habits. But instead of feeling shame over this, all I need do is accept that I am a sheep. Normally this would be scary - I wouldn't want to be a sheep out in this world. The world is mean & dangerous. But we have a shepherd. A Good Shepherd - one who calls us by name, etc. And so we can submit ourselves, as sheep, to the shepherd. We can follow his voice. Our alternatives are all self-destructive: we can flail about in panic, damaging ourselves and all around us. Or we can try to fight back against the world - we can gang up with others to fight off the wolves. Can you imagine a group of sheep out in the wild, surrounded by wolves? Can you imagine someone hands them some sticks & rocks and says "come on, fight for yourselves, you outnumber the wolves"? It's ludicrous. So why do we think we can take on the world in our own strength? It's not even a matter of us fighting along side of Jesus. It's a matter of us getting safe behind him, and letting him fight the wolves for us. As a sheep, there's no other way for us. We're just not made for fighting wolves. A right understanding of our relationship to God means we would willingly and gladly get behind Jesus. No sheep would step in front of the shepherd and say "don't worry, I'll fight off this wolf for you". And there's no shame or embarrasment in that.

And yet, there's this lie I keep hearing - a lie about how it's my responsibility to fight the wolf. A lie that I'm less of a man if I'm not able to fight the wolf. A lie that there must be something wrong with me if I'm not able to fight off the wolf. A lie that I'm scared or chicken or weak and that I let others fight for me because I'm a coward. So I need to embrace, instead, the Truth: I am a sheep. I am helpless and harrassed. I am not made for fighting wolves. Jesus is my shepherd. He is made for fighting wolves. My job is to get behind Jesus and be a sheep. And since I am a sheep, I will feel no shame at being one. I will instead be grateful that I have a shepherd.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

I've given thought & prayer over today's votes. I'm still not clear on the specific votes I will be taking, but one thing is clear: God is Sovereign. Period. So no matter who wins the presidency, and no matter who 'controls' Congress, we need to come to grips with the fact that God's Will is done. That should influence our attitude toward those who assume office in January.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Veritas Google

I Google, and Google sets me free.

Results of some Google Searches, 10/20/2008:

gray: 193,000,000
grey: 183,000,000

potato: 45,700,000
tomato: 41,300,000
eggplant: 9,320,000 - I wouldn't have thought it so high

mccain obama: 110,000,000
biden palin: 21,100,000
mcpalin obiden: 5570
mcbiden opalin: 6

saddam: 25,500,000 - more than biden/palin!
paris hilton: 60,200,000 - that's just shameful

bush nuclear: 3,830,000
bush nucular: 3,810,000 - sad or
bush nuculer: 3,740,000 funny?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Gwinnett County Commissioner Primary July 15

Last evening we had a visit from Gwinnett Co. District 1 Commissioner candidate Bruce LeVell. He's the first candidate to come door-to-door to our house. I was pleased an impressed. One thing I took away from our conversation was that Duluth is still a neighborhood run by small-town politics: everyone knows everyone else. It reminds me of back home in Pine Bush, NY. Just that here, the scale is bigger - what with a million people in Gwinnett Co. now.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Rebuilt Ropeswing

Thanks to my friends, Frank and Kristin Hoffman at, I rebuilt our rope swing over the weekend. I used a swing hitch to secure the rope to a Sweet Gum branch which overhangs our back yard.

I used solid braid, multi-fiber (polypropylene, nylon, polyester) rope, 7/16" diameter (purchased at Home Depot). This has a working load of 300lbs, so I doubled up the rope. I tied a swing hitch at the top, and secured the loose end with a stick so it cannot work out of the knot. I then used overhand knots on the rope all the way down so that the kids can climb up the rope.

At the seat, I use a 2x4 with a single hole drilled through the middle. Thread the rope through the hole & tie an overhand knot under the seat bottom so the 2x4 rests on that knot. I leave a little 'tail' on the rope that I can use as a handle when giving the kids a big push on the swing.

I chose my rope so that it won't stretch with age or use, nor will it shrink after a rain. The swing is about 13 feet high off the ground.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Alkaline Battery Recycling

File this under 'you would think it not so hard'.

I cannot find any place to recycle my spent Alkaline Batteries. Just the regular old Duracell AAs. The best I could find is that the local Whole Foods takes them, but not at this location. But he has heard of the Big Green Box program, and people are asking him to get one for this store.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Excellent reading on Autism

I'm currently reading a book, With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child, written by Keiko Tobe. This is Japanese manga - a right-to-left reading graphic novel. It is an excellent depiction of the struggles faced by families with disabled children, specifically with Autism.

I found myself getting emotionally caught up in the struggles of the parents to raise their Autistic son, Hikaru. I identified with many of the issues they fought against, was hurt when they were hurt, and joyful when Hikaru connected emotionally with his parents.

I found my copy at the Gwinnett County Public Library (Duluth branch).

Monday, February 4, 2008

Numbers of Man and God

The number of God is three. The number of man is four.

God is the Trinity, three-in-one. I visualize this as:

God-Father <-> God-the-Spirit <-> God-the-Son

There is the person of Father, and the person of Son. The relationship between them is the expressed as the person of Spirit. Thus two entities, plus the relationship between them, equals three.

With man, created in the image of God, the two entities are Soul and Body, with the Mind being the expression of the relationship between the two. Then man has an additional relationship, with God, expressed as the Spirit.

God is timeless, existing simultaneously in all time, existing outside of time. But humans are mortal, existing in time. Mortals are in the image of God, operating in a world of three physical dimensions, plus time. Thus our number of dimensions equals our ‘number’ of four.

Perhaps our Spirit is the expression of timeless God into the physical world where time is a dimension: our Spirit is that line segment of linear time that is inhabited by our three-part human nature (soul-mind-body)?

Or here is another picture:

Timeless God is a sphere. Man-in-time is a line, infinite in only one dimension. The intersection of our line with the sphere of God can occur at only a single point. That point is our spirit.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Homo Insensatus

That means 'Irrational Human'. A play on Homo Sapiens - "wise human".

Here's a thought: maybe the defining feature of human beings is not our great thinking power, our 'rational' superiority to other animals. Perhaps our differentiating property is that of being the only animal to act irrationally.

After all - we seem quite able to describe all other animal behavior as part of a grand scheme to further the species, if not the individual. It seems that only humans act to the detriment of the individual and the species.

And I'm not just talking about acting on our emotions - the bane of economics and policemen alike. I'm talking about our tenacity in believing things like Freewill, the Self, God and the concept of "I" without being able to defend them philosophically. Despite the best efforts of the materialists and determinists out there, most people doggedly believe that they actually have the ability to control events, to make choices from among possible alternatives, etc.

How many other animals, once convinced that something is not possible, will keep trying it anyway?

btw - I found only one other relevant web citation of 'homo insensatus' - that for a 2005 Barnard College roundtable discussion.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Philosophy - Mind-Body Duality

Warning: Big Thoughts ahead!

I'm listening to a CD now in the Modern Scholar series - Colin McGinn (Rutgers Univ.) speaking about the big issues of Philosophy. It got me to thinking. Here's my take on it all:

The concept of “I” is my Soul. This is the Self. My Self is separate from my body (yes, I’m a Dualist).

A Soul is linked to the body by the non-physical Mind.
A Soul is linked to God by the non-physical Spirit.

My body is a physical entity. In it is the brain, also physical. My Soul links to the body by way of the non-physical Mind, which links at the point of the Brain. Thus the brain is the body’s access point that can accept interface with a non-physical entity. I’m not sure exactly what about the brain enables the interface. I believe that the interface itself must be initiated by the mind, at the direction of the soul. Thus a body/brain could not seek out and adopt a mind. However, once the interface is established, the link is two-way, thus the body can affect the Soul through the conduit of brain-to-mind contact.

This configuration allows that my mind can be separated from my body, which corresponds with various phenomena we see in the world.

Problems to wrestle with:
From whence does the soul come?
Is the soul a one-off? Is it re-incarnated in another body?
Does the soul operate in time or out of it?
Where is the expression of the concept that we are created in the image of God?

Animals have brains, so do they have minds? Can there be a mind without a soul? Animals do not have souls, but do have consciousness. But consciousness seems to be in the mind, as opposed to being in the brain only.

Is it possible that a soul could setup a mind-interface with an animal’s brain? My configuration does leave possible this option. Unless there is something specific about the human brain only that allows the mind-interface to be established with a soul.

So, perhaps, there is another entity at the level of soul that establishes mind-interfaces to the brains of animals. Could this be Gaia? or God himself?

So far I’ve explored the soul-to-body-via-mind connection. What about the soul-to-God-via-spirit connection? How do I draw parallels between the mind and the spirit?

So – Chris Jamison is comprised of the physical body, the non-physical soul and the two interfaces of mind and spirit. I interact with God through my Spirit. I interact with the world through my body: an intermediary between the non-physical soul and the physical world. See, I need some means to bridge the gap between the non-physical and the physical world. Since God, as my soul, is non-physical, no bridge is needed for communication.

Let’s look more in detail at the soul-world link:

My soul connects to the body through the mind. The mind’s contact point in the body is the brain. The Brain is physical, the mind is the non-physical interface to it. The brain is not directly connected to the world either, but connects through the body via Sense Organs. It is also connected directly to the body. So the brain has three avenues of communication:

a) connected to soul via the mind
b) connected to world via the sense organs
c) connected directly to the body

Note what is not said: the brain is NOT connected to the world. Neither is the mind connected to the world.

Let’s take an example: my body tells the brain that it’s thirsty. This is communicated to, or perceived by the mind. The mind directs (wills) the brain to tell the body to look for water. Now the brain directs the body to seek water. How is this seeking accomplished? Through Sense Organs. In the normal case, the sense organs may perceive true water in the world, and communicate that to the brain. In an illusory case, the brain’s message to the sense organs includes a perception of water already seen. In this case, the sense organs feedback directly to the brain with the image supplied. This is a mirage; an illusion. Thus the brain receives the same image, whether real or imagined, of water. But in one case the sense organs perceive real water, while in the other case the sense organs perceive imaginary water. The brain itself cannot distinguish between the two.

In my professional work, as a computer programmer, I often work with systems that have a single processing engine receiving input from a ‘hopper’. This hopper can be fed by several systems, including the processing engine itself. But the input from hopper to processing engine serves data that does not necessarily convey information of its original source. Thus part of my job is to determine if I need to know, within the processing engine, the source of the data. If I do need to know this source, then special steps need to be taken to make sure the source is maintained within the data as it is passed through the input hopper to the processing engine.

In my construction of the mind-body configuration, the body’s sense organs correspond to this input hopper. They don’t perceive meaning or process information. The only take in sensations [from the physical world] and communicate them to the brain. The problem is they can also take in sensations from other inputs (for example, the brain itself). But when problems of perception occur, I believe they are the failings of the brain. It is the brain that applies filters and prior expectations to the input of sense stimuli. This is a good thing, for example, when we shut off the input from ears so as to sleep. We know they are not entirely shut off, since we can hear our children cry out in the night for help, while simultaneously ignoring the chiming of a clock announcing the hour.

Here’s my graphical representation of these ideas…

Text & Image rights reserved by Chris Jamison January, 2008. Usage terms: if you use this, please give me credit, and reference this blog as well as my home webpage: And send me an email, too! I'd like to know that someone found it useful.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Every Season

On Sunday we sang this song, Every Season, from the album This Mystery by Nichole Nordeman (songwriter & lyricist). While singing it, I was struck by the beautiful rhythm of the lines.

Every evening sky, an invitation
To trace the patterned stars
And early in July, a celebration
For freedom that is ours
And I notice You in children’s games
In those who watch them from the shade
Every drop of sun is full of fun and wonder
You are summer

And even when the trees have just surrendered
To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
And sending us inside
Still I notice You when change begins
And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and what's to come
You are autumn

And everything in time and under heaven
Finally falls asleep
Wrapped in blankets white, all creation
Shivers underneath
And still I notice You when branches crack
And in my breath on frosted glass
Even now in death, You open doors for life to enter
You are winter

And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced
Teaching us to breathe
What was frozen through is newly purposed
Turning all things green
So it is with You and how You make me new
With every season’s change
And so it will be as you are re-creating me
Summer, autumn, winter, spring

Beautiful stuff. See her website here to listen:

Speaking of Every Season, now is the time of year in Duluth when January turns mild. Every year I have lived here, there is a one to two week stretch in mid-January when the sun is bright and strong, making the days warm (60s). It is ideal weather for pruning the trees and shrubs outside. Soon it will turn cold, grey and rainy for two months.