Baseball – Why It’s More Than a Game {VIDEO}

A piece I wrote for

We’re always looking at how we’re different from one another:

whether it’s political beliefs, religion, race,

who your friends are, or who your enemies are.

When I was five years old I already knew all of these differences.

So did my brother, and we didn’t exactly get along.

Then he handed me a bat, and taught me to hit a ball with it.

And suddenly, we had something in common.

I learned how to play a game,

but it’s so much more than a game.

It was where I learned that even if you’re taller than me

I can still out-hit, and out-run you.

It was where I learned how to fail, and that it was okay

because you were going to fail too!

I learned that enemies could be friends.

It’s an incredible game.

Baseball changed everything for me

by teaching me that when you step up to home plate

with a bat in your hand

no matter where you come from,

who you are,

what you’re used to,

or what you know –

you’re still ninety feet away from first base.

Thoughts on the Grandest of Noses

Before I continue, let me just disclaim: I had a hard time writing this, because I didn’t want to. Yes, I’m devastated to have to live in a world without Robert Engel – known instead to me and the rest of his “grandgeese” as Grandpa Bob – and without my future kids getting a chance to know him like I have, as well as all the rest of my friends and loved ones. But what I mean is it’s a shame for me to try to sum up how he meant to me in a few short paragraphs: it was much more fun to live it, and this account of him is more than likely going to fall short. Well, this is me giving it a try anyway. So here we go. Continue reading

Its a good day to burn a heretic!

C.S. Lewis,

Billy Graham,

Justin Martyr, John Wesley, J.I. Packer, John R.W. Scott, the Westminster Confession of Faith,

William Lane Craig,

Rob Bell

they’re all wrong. I know this for a fact because I have been thinking about theology way longer than these schmucks have… thus my interpretation of the Bible and anyone else who agrees with me carries divine authority that I will call logic. I am definitely not driven by emotion or egotism.

Strangely authoritative and confident on who is going to hell,


Does Sexual Addiction Exist?

This is from a paper I wrote for my Human Sexuality class last fall. The most marks that were knocked off of it were based on my over-reliance on John Davies as a source, and I figure I could probably use some of William Glasser’s work as additional reference, but the fact is that there just isn’t much out there on this view, since it is not a very popular one – a lot of people base their careers (or adversities) off of what I’m warning against. My hope is in the very least that people pay more attention the complexity of this issue rather than oversimplify.

We live in a highly addicted society.  There are drug addicts, smoking addicts, gambling addicts, alcoholics, workaholics, shopaholics, et cetera.  Ever since Carnes wrote his book Out of the Shadows in 1991, it seems like sexual addiction is everywhere.  Western society is highly and intensely sexual after all, but exactly how accurate is it to attribute repetitious sexual behavior to external factors, as if the person involved had no choice otherwise? Continue reading

Attribution: Tom Hits Mary

excerpt from the book The Myth of Addiction, using Harold Kelley’s ANOVA model of attribution:

“Suppose we observe one day that Tom is hitting Mary, and that we have information available (of whatever type – observations, second-hand reports, stereotypes, prejudices etc.) about the pattern of consensus, consistency and distinctiveness surrounding this act.  For example, it is just Tom who hits Mary (low consensus), he seems to hit Mary quite often (high consistency) and he also hits other girls (low distinctiveness).  In these circumstances, we are likely to explain the event in terms of a negative property of Tom; he is aggressive, unpleasant, a bully, and so forth.

Imagine, however, that our information suggests high consensus (other children also hit Mary); high consistency (they hit her often); and these children are not generally noted for hitting other people (high distinctiveness). In these circumstances, we are likely to attribute the act to some disposition of Mary; perhaps for example there is something she repeatedly does that test everyone’s patience.  Whatever the truth of the matter, we are likely to attribute the behaviour to a negative property of Mary.”


consensus               HI           or           LO

consistency             HI           or           LO

distinctiveness         HI           or           LO

Using Kelley’s three dimensions, we have seen how the pattern LO, HI, LO leads to explanation in terms of negative attributions about Mary.  It is amusing and instructive to consider other alternatives, and to try and predict the type of explanation which might be forthcoming. Some patterns are quite easy, others are more subtle. For example, HI, LO, HI implies that there are particular situations in which Mary gets on everyone’s nerves (i.e. a person x situation interaction); and LO, LO, HI suggests that the incident was due to some unfortunate and unforeseeable circumstance.”

In reading this I can’t help but go back to a conversation I had with my friend Lauren yesterday. We were talking about being quick to pick out things in other people that annoy you. She says that we do that because we are the ones that possess that trait. Because we know so much about what it looks like, it is much easier for us to point it out in other people, and it annoys us, because we don’t like to have that behavior. Yet, instead of correcting it within ourselves, we pick apart other people. It’s a crisis of self-awareness.

This concept has been messing with me recently.

My friend Tim gave me an object lesson in this a couple weeks ago. I have a tendency to call other cars on the road parts of the male anatomy in a derogatory manner. I call this one car an asshole because he makes a mistake that I myself make all the time. Tim, who has known me since diapers, swiftly and confidently shares his observation that I recognize it so well because it’s my area of expertise; I know an asshole on the road when I see one. …

For the next 20 minutes I just sat there waiting for the light to change to a color that didn’t reflect my attitude, coming to a slow and painful realization that he was right… that I’m either the only one or the quickest one finding fault in these situations (low consensus)… that I do this quite often (high consistency)… that I tend to do this with a lot of people (low distinctiveness)… and to add to the ANOVA model (sorry, Kelley), that I seem to always do this strictly with people that possess traits very similar to mine (we’ll call this ‘high commonality’).

That’s a LO, HI, LO, HI, in case you’re counting, or in other words:

Nathan hits Mary with behind-the-back remarks because he sees his own negative traits in her, and this is his own passive-aggressive way of addressing dissatisfaction within himself as a person.

The Myth of Addiction

This is an essay I wrote last semester during my study abroad term in Leicester, England. It was for the class “Psychology of Love and Attraction” and was written about John B Davies’ book “The Myth of Addiction”. I’m going to expound upon this later in the semester when I work on my thesis for Human Sexuality class about whether or not sex is addicting. You’ll notice I wrote like a true Brit for this essay spelling words like behaviour and centre like so. When in Rome?

Throughout the medical community, the psychotherapy community, and especially the news media, a stereotype exists about drug addiction and recovery. This stereotype is quite a few years old and it is based around the notion that a person becomes dependent on pharmacological drugs while simultaneously sidelining his willpower. This notion paints a picture of the drug that pharmacologically enslaves the user upon first or second contact and dooms him to a life of utter helpless dependency. This inevitably becomes a deadly lifelong pursuit of a fix to match the involuntary dependencies and the need to resort to drug pushers and shady dark alleys; as author John Booth Davies puts, “life becomes a nightmare of withdrawal symptoms, involuntary theft, and a compulsive need for drugs which cannot be controlled.” (Davies 1997) Davies, however, seeks to paint a different picture. In his book The Myth of Addiction, he proposes the idea that none of these stereotypes necessarily have to be true, but that they are a fabricated idea by drug institutions and forcibly accepted by the user. “The helpless junkie only exists because we all want him/her to exist; and because drug research continues to make naive use of what people say about their addictions.” (Davies 1997) Davies states that most people that use a certain drug really just use it out of their own ambitions, because they enjoy using it. He stresses learned choice over learned helplessness.

Continue reading

A counter-cultural weekend

Ah, Branson, Missouri.

The Bible Belt’s Vegas.

Instead of strip clubs and casinos, these neon lights indicate enough twangy country music, slapstick comedy, and gaudily dressed cowboys singing the national anthem to make me vomit red, white, and blue. One is more family friendly, but both are indubitable ways to live an empty life, void of responsibility.


Last weekend I visited my family while they were on vacation before moving to Italy, as dictated by Uncle Sam. Silver Dollar City is like a Renaissance fair, if by “renaissance” it is implied the time period in the poverty-decimated South after an unsuccessful run at cessession. It serves as a family meeting place a couple times a year now, and before that we were season ticket holders. It’s not too bad though, there are some exciting rides and fascinating displays. My H&M/obscure band shirt wardrobe tends to stick out like a sore thumb, but letting your inner hillbilly out can be oddly therapeutic. Life can’t all be npr radio and books. I’d like to see a book teach you how to have a rootin tootin, good ol Ozarkian day in the sun. (I’m sure it could, but usually the most experienced in this area aren’t the of the book writing variety…)

My ‘flaming liberalism’ apparently still embers, in spite of it all. I was in line for a ride today, when the lady in charge took notice of my apparel. Wouldn’t you know it, I was wearing my “Jesus Loves Pornstars” shirt, referring to XXXChurch ministries. I guess this radical message of Jesus loving everybody, particularly social pariahs, is a message unfit for public exposure, since she threatened to have me thrown out of the park if I didn’t zip up my jacket or turn the shirt inside-out. I was well on my way to pariah-hood myself. Yikes.

I didn’t want trouble on this particular day, so i gave her a “really?”, and zipped,
for the duration of the ride, anyway.

It got me thinking about how incredible it is that, in name, this part of the United States of America is the epicenter of cultural Christianity. BibleBeltTraditionalThe Bible Belt. No where else in the world are you going to find such a dense sociopolitical institution of Christian fundamentalism as you will find here. It’s incredible. It’s like Indonesia or Iran for Islam. We have Christian businesses, theme parks, schools, and entertainment industries. I find it incredibly discouraging however, that in all the time I have spent in this region, I find myself being alienated more and more alienated with the more questions I ask and the more serious my theology becomes. There are Christians everywhere here, but I find it really hard to find a church that seems to have their priorities set on following Jesus’ teachings rather than electing politicians.

When I left to study abroad in England, I was honestly pretty worried that the only church I would find would be some cold, ritualistic cathedral with the 30 or so fragile remaining Christians in Europe reciting sing-songey liturgies of dispair and agony. I did not expect to find a passionate church so excited about grace, love, and serving others while having an adept understanding of their theology and the realities they face as a church in western society, like the one I did find.

No flags, no attendance boards, no political ultimatums, no appeal to tradition over effective ministry, no blaming other denominations.

Just church. And a sense of urgency. It’s Europe, after all… the belly of the beast, right? They don’t have time to screw around.

You know, we could use that in the ‘epicenter of Christianity’ in the South.

The last day we spent at Silver Dollar City, I wore a shirt with a slightly less in-your-face message, but equally alienating me from my audience…