Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Spider Web Apologetics

I wonder if Cheryl Hayashi’s mother taught her, “The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout”? If she did, it was an investment that paid off. Hayashi, an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of California / Riverside, received a MacArthur genius award this week. Along with the prestige of being named a MacArthur Fellow, Hyashi received a $500,000 grant that will enable her to continue her research.

The subject of her studies? Spider silk. According to the foundation’s website, Hyashi is “a spider silk biologist revealing the architecture, properties, and function of spider silks and the possibilities of developing new synthetic materials.” What she teaches about spiders is simply amazing.

For instance, Hayashi has concluded that “Some species of spiders produce as many as six different silks, each with specific mechanical properties and functions . . .” Some of these compounds have tensile strength and elasticity greater than that of modern steel cables. Other spider silks are more durable than carbon fiber.

Her research is increasing our understanding of spiders and has “. . . the potential to influence the development of biomimetic material for a variety of applications, from biodegradable fishing lines to medical sutures to protective armor cloth.”

All from the posterior end of an arachnid.

There’s something else I wonder. I wonder if Cheryl Hayashi believes God created spiders, or that they are the result of evolution. If she is like the vast majority of biology professors that teach at our major universities, she has staked her tent firmly in the evolution camp. I don’t pretend to know anything about biology. Frankly, I struggle to handle theology, and it is my field. But for the life of me I can’t figure out how someone, anyone really, can look at a creature so complex that it can create six different types of silk based on the mix of chemicals secreted from it’s backside, and not think, “This creature is divinely designed!”

A spider web played a faith-building role in the life of Nien Cheng, a Chinese woman jailed in 1966 during Mao Zedong’s “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.” Locked in a small damp cell, Cheng shared her space with a tiny web-spinner. Huddled in the corner of her cage, she watched as the spider “swung out on a silken thread, attached the strand to the base of the bar, and swung another, then another. It worked with purpose and confidence weaving a web of intricate beauty.”

Cheng later wrote,
I had just watched an architectural feat by an extremely skilled artist . . . My mind was full of questions. Who had taught this spider to make a web? Could it really have acquired the skill through evolution, or did God create the spider and endow it with the ability to make a web so that it could catch food and perpetuate its species? . . . I knew I had just witnessed something that was extraordinarily beautiful and uplifting. Whether God had made the spider or not, I thanked Him for what I had just seen. It helped me to see that God was in control. [Charles Colson, The God of Stones and Spiders, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1990), pp. 18-19]
Maybe I’ll think of Hayashi and Cheng next time I see something with eight legs rappelling from the ceiling on its self-made silk rope. Instead of swatting, perhaps I’ll stare and ponder the amazing God who created such a complex and wonderful creature. Until my wife sees it, that is. Then I’m afraid the itsy bitsy spider will have to go after all.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A year's worth of rules

New York author, A.J. Jacobs just invested an entire year trying to keep every command in the Bible. MSNBC details his rule-keeping regimen. Following regulations included the simple - not cutting hair - to the difficult - not coveting his neighbor's flat screen.

Grace is a much preferred path, I think.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Stretch run

The Cubs are 1.5 games up with eight to go. If we can get past the Pirates we have the cellar dwelling Florida Marlins followed by Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, the Brew crew faces must-win St. Louis and wild-card hopeful San Diego. God is good.

Sam, Scott, did I just jinx the whole thing?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The South East Conference

My friend, Debi Pugh, passed along some thoughts about the SEC to me earlier today. Interesting, considering her roots are all in Kentucky . . .

It's football season again, so here are some revealing facts about the SEC teams.

Q - What does the average Alabama Player get on his SATs?
A - Drool.

Q - What do you get when you put 32 Arkansas Cheerleaders in one room?
A - A full set of teeth.

Q - How do you get a South Carolina Cheerleader into your dorm room?
A - Grease her hips and push.

Q - How do you get a Georgia Graduate off your porch?
A - Pay him for the pizza.

Q - How do you know if a Mississippi State football player has a Girlfriend?
A - There is tobacco spit on both sides of his pickup

Q - Why is the Kentucky Football team like a possum?
A - Because they play dead at home and get killed on the road.

Q - What are the longest three years of an Auburn football player's Life?
A - His freshman year.

Q - How many Florida Freshmen does it take to change a light bulb?
A - None. That's a sophomore course.

Q - Where was O. J. headed in the white Bronco?
A - Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He knew that the police would never look at LSU for a Heisman Trophy winner.

AND FINALLY (drum roll and cymbal crash.....)

Q - Why did Tennessee choose orange as their team color?
A - You can wear it to the game on Saturday, hunting on Sunday, and picking up trash along the highways the rest of the week.

Nine games left!

With nine games left, the Cubs are one game up on the Brewers. I've never prayed for a baseball team before, and I'm not going to start now. I can't help hoping, though, that God is a Cub fan!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Response to Freeganism

Southie Rod Bisher was moved to eloquence by my freegan post. His inspiring response, abbreviated here, is well worth the reading. To read his complete response, email Frankly Speaking at the link to the right of this page.

People have the right in this country to make choices and our people, in military, and government fight for those freedoms. However, in this internet age of information, when people who are citizens of the United States, promote this type of socialism, these incidences stir me to my core.

Many of you know my son Patrick is in training as a Navy S.E.A.L. We have a number of people here at SLCC who have either served their country in the military or have loved ones serving currently. Also, we have people who have served in positions at the state or federal level,
as owners of companies and small businesses or CEOs in the corporate sector, all kinds of professionals and people who work for an honest day's wage. All of whom understand some basic tenants that people like these "freegans" refuse to recognize. They were given a birthright of freedom, but because they refuse to take ownership, do the work, and take up the mantel of responsibility, they, like Esau, they have sold it for bread and a bowl of stew.

The last line of the Navy S.E.A.L creed reads,
"Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail."
Charles Colson wrote, "The root of duty is the gratitude for what others have done." But these "freegans" seem to have given up on the ideal which is America, and do not recognize the duty that others have done. They choose a life of escapism instead of participation in life. They haven't chosen to study the great successes of our country or the people in it, people who started with nothing, and because the cared about others first, became great influences and had much prosperity.

Contrary to a lot of advice they may have heard out there on how to live successfully, or perhaps build a prosperous business, integrating compassion for your fellow man with lucrative opportunities is the real secret to security and happiness. It's the knowledge that what you're doing is making a difference that makes you feel worthy of the privilege as a U.S. citizen and even the comfort of wealth. But even long before the wealth comes, having a compassionate attitude along with sound business acumen (which can be learned) goes a long way towards increasing your chances of attaining dreams, and/or wealth, and influence. . . .

The ideals held by people who are bent on living socialist values are the ideals that continue to plague any free society. Not only here at home, but all over the world, the United States is constantly fighting for social freedoms, economic freedoms, property and ownership freedoms, and religious freedoms.


If one searches the scriptures, one can see that capitalism is a Godly system, socialism is man's corruption of it and Satan's twisting of the truth. Capitalism and free enterprise are the opportunities that are carried on the winds of freedom. . . [In] the free wind of freedom, the Stars and Stripes still wave, and by the grace of Almighty God 'we will not fail'.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

You can say "no"

Wally turned me on to a news story about a German man who is turning down his recent $4 million lottery winnings.

The idea blows me away. Of course, there are plenty of folks who reject a far greater gift - salvation. We can say "no" to God. Unless you're a Calvinist. In which case you can't say "no," or you can't say "yes." Apparently the whole thing is out of your hands. I think. Maybe.

The cat lady

I learned that our Administrative Assistant, Micki, has ten cats. Cool. Her "secret sister" gave her this nifty "Crazy Cat Lady" action figure today.

A freegan by any other name . . .

My buddy Erick gave me the 411 about a group of folks who have taken vegetarianism to a whole new level. They call themselves "freegans."

What is a freegan? Glad you asked. According to their website,
Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed.
Sounds reasonable, right? Unpack their nice little definition, though, and you will find folks dumpster diving for food and freeloading off hard-working folks.

They practice "eco-friendly transportation" (hitch-hiking), "rent-free housing" (squatting), and "voluntary joblessness" (unemployment). My father's generation called them "bums." You can call them whatever you want, as long as you don't call them late for supper. And its free. And doesn't contain meat. Good luck with that.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

South Pole (barn)

South is finishing up a new pole barn. Just outside my window, a dedicated crew of Southie volunteers have been working for about two (or is it three) weeks to build it. We'll be using it for storage, mostly. Rod asked me to post it here so fellow "Southies" can check it out.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Rutgers fans shame on you

My blood is boiling after reading Mark Diiono's column about the Rutger - Navy football game last Saturday. After you read it yours will too. Apparently, the future white-collar workers of America got all liquored up and, from the safety of the stands, harrassed the Navy players. Okay. Fine. That is football.

But Saturday they crossed the line from fan to fanatic by personally attacking men who, following graduation, will be protecting their right to be jackasses at football games.

I sent an email to NCAA President Miles Brand asking him what he intends to do about it, and I urge readers of Frankly Speaking to do the same.

Progress at GLCC

It is ironic that, on a day devoted to remembering the destruction of two iconic American symbols and those who perished in New York, Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania field, steel began being hung for Great Lakes Christian College's Doty Center.

Those who perpetrated the hateful acts of six years ago cannot withstand the onslaught of the Church of Jesus Christ, and those being prepared for ministry at GLCC.

Thank God for the work of Great Lakes and for this new tool in the education of student leaders for the church of today and tomorrow.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Colts roll . . .

The Colts absolutely dismantled the New Orleans Saints last night. I told my buddy Fred that this is the finest team to take the field in the 21st century. He says its early in the season. He's right, I guess. But then again, his Michigan Wolverines just got beat by. . . well, let's not talk about that.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

My cultured ear

So it turns out I like classical music. It surprised me, actually. I never saw it coming.

As I anticipated my move to Lansing, I looked forward to listening to Lansing's Christian radio station. WBCL was what we listened to back in Butler, and I wanted to continue a steady diet of CCM. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy listening to Smile FM. I especially enjoy hearing Rob Dale's weather forecast. (Shameless plug for a fellow "Southie.")

Nevertheless, I find myself listening to more and more classical music on WKAR. There is just something . . . soothing about their music. Their announcer (it seems wrong to call him a "DJ") exudes calmness as he intones:
And now the 23rd symphony by Italian composer Aldente Rotini. The prime number symphony. Rotini composed this symphony during his dissipation years, and for that reason the 23rd is sometimes referred to as the Baccardi overture. Here performed by the Prague National Symphonic Orchestra under the direction of Marco Polo.
Ahhhh.

The announcers on WKAR don't even try to "hit the post." DJs make "hitting the post" - trying to fit as many words as they can in before a song's lyrics kick in - an art form. A good platter spinner can give you the time, weather, traffic, stock tips, relative position of the moon to the earth and the solunar table before Garth or Carly or Bono ever spits out a word. Its all so hurried. Contemporary radio, including CCM is rushed, intense even.

Not classical radio. To talk over the music is unthinkable. Its not real time.

So I'll order my Taco Bell and hurry back to the office, careful to avoid exceeding 35 mph on Miller Road. I may even make a call on my cell if I have to. But by the time I get back to 6300 Aurelius, I'll be feeling pretty good. Because whatever I'm having for lunch, I know I'm dining on Rotini (or Haydn or Mozart).
Who knows. Maybe I'll even contribute a few bucks to WKAR's annual fund drive. Now if I could just get past that thing with NPR.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Commitment versus Surrender

Going through my journal entries from May of this year, I came across something Larry Carter preached at South: "Commitment means I am still in charge. Surrender means letting God be in control."

I preach commitment all the time. Larry is right, though, and that means I need to refine my vocabulary a bit. And while I'm at it, perhaps I need to refine my thinking and my acting some, too.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Chocolate

Mrs. Frankly brought home a giant chocolate bar from our bank earlier today. There was a mix-up with our checking account and, after straightening it out, our "personal banker" told Tracy, "You need this." It's nice to have a banker that understands our needs.

The whole chocolate thing reminded me of something that my buddy Erick Riddle wrote to me yesterday:
A good piece of chocolate has about 200 calories. As I enjoy two servings per night, and a few more on weekends, I consume 3,500 calories of chocolate in a week, which equals one pound of weight per week.

Therefore...

In the last 3 1/2 years, I have had a chocolate caloric intake of about 180 pounds. I weigh only 165 pounds, so without chocolate, I would have wasted away to nothing about three months ago!

I owe my life to chocolate.
Erick, I can completely relate.

Monday, September 03, 2007

My favorite month

September is here - my favorite month. For my DeKalb County, Indiana friends, the reasons are obvious:
  • The Auburn-Cord-Dusenberg Festival. 100,000 people descend on my home county to buy and sell classic cars. Since my cousin married into the Kruse auctioneering family, I've been blessed to have some free tickets to the festival come my way over the years. They've been worth every penny someone else paid for them. (And much appreciated.)
  • High School Football. The Eastside Blazers opened play and I wasn't there to see their collision with the mighty Garrett Railroaders. I did see the Grand Ledge Comets play and it was a ton of fun. Still, I miss Chuck cheering "First down! Move those sticks!"
  • The National Football League. The Colts open Thursday night against the Saints. Back to back? I think so.
  • The DeKalb County Free Fall Fair. My home county's fair is the last in the State of Indiana. This year, for the first time in many years, I won't be working the morning grill at the Bar None Saddle Club. I plan to stop in on Friday, though, and enjoy the great food and fine company.
  • Deer season. The quest for a big buck begins with the Michigan youth hunt later this month. Perhaps we'll bring home a wall-hanger this year. But even if we don't, we'll bring home plenty of good memories.
  • Color. The leaves, they are a changin'. I'm actually looking forward to the drive to and from work each day as I enjoy the splash of autumn hues that dot the roadside.
Yep. September is my favorite month. Sure glad it's here again!