October 06, 2005
March 02, 2005
yea, it's been a while...
Before the throne of God above,
I have a strong, a perfect plea,
A great High Priest whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in heaven He stands,
No tongue can bid me thence depart,
No tongue can bid me thence depart!
When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there,
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me,
To look on Him and pardon me!
Behold Him there the Risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I Am,
The King of glory and of grace,
One with Himself I cannot die:
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God,
With Christ my Savior and my God!
One with Himself I cannot die:
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God,
With Christ my Savior and my God!
holy crap... so much homework... i've spent four hours on greek homework today and that was just to keep up with the class, not even putting a dent in the massive backlog of lessons (six behind and counting)
January 16, 2005
so i went on the winter retreat this weekend. and it brought up a lot of stuff i hadn't expected it to. things i hadn't thought about in years.
one of the songs we sang a lot was:
fall on me
ever so gently
washing, washing my filthy stains
with your love
breathe on, breathe on these dry bones
and break these chains, and break these chains
set me free! set me free!
set me free, Lord, set me free!
now this is probably one of my top ten favourite worship songs. i like the words and i like the melody. when i sing it i am reminded of important things. i can tell that the person who wrote it cared about the way it came together and wanted to be faithful to the gospel and to its purpose in corporate worship. i sing 'breathe on these dry bones' and am set to resonance by ezekiel's powerful and amazingly impossible vision of dead dry bones coming back to life, i sing about the breaking of chains and remember that Christ came and is coming to overthrow the regime of sin and death and set us captives free. when i sing this song i long for the day when the skies will open and everything will be set to order, working harmoniously and towards the purpose of God's glory.
nevertheless this song also, i think, has some problems with it. i see no understanding of the communal aspect of christianity. the song asks God to 'set me free'. in that i fear it has been infected with individualism. how can we, knowing the bondage in which we have been held, not ask for the loosening of our brothers and sisters' chains, especially those in countries where they are being beaten and persecuted for the sake of the Lord. how can we think about dry bones without our hearts breaking for this western culture, which has fallen so far from its first love, trapped at the temples of materialism and individualism and autonomy and rationality, modernity and postmodernity.
i also worry about the climactic height of the song. the emphasis is put on being set free, but there is nothing after that. there is no conception of why we are free. in john 10, Jesus tells His disciples that He is the gate and the good shepherd. lovingly He leads His sheep from the wild terrain around us, full of hungry wolves and slippery cliffs, INTO freedom. and freedom is a sheepfold. a pen. a place within God's laws. a place where we are safe to be followers of Christ. but leaving that place enclosed by God's law is not freedom at all, but death. we are set free for a purpose, to serve God by heralding the return of the King and doing everything we can to make this world ready for that Day.
but actually, i don't want to talk about freedom right now. i want to talk about what i just did. (hint: it was a pretty reformed thing to do). that's right. i used reason to talk about why i liked a worship song. in fact, i find i am rarely able to 'turn off' my rational analysis. this is probably due in some part to my personality, but mostly i think it is because of my upbringing in a family and a church tradition which put a strong emphasis on reason. i have not figured out whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. i know it's a frustrating thing. sometimes i want to locate the anti-dualism indicators and ism-o-meters in my brain and hit them with a metaphorical sledgehammer so that i can, as the-philosopher-who-shall-not-be-named might say, 'experience reality in the totality of its aspects' or 'engage in pretheoretical thought'. (side note: i knew they were calibrated too sensitively when i started pointing out the thomistic dualisms in the hymn 'joy to the world'... "and heaven and nature sing"... oh the nature / grace split... you are driving me crazy)
the situation is made more complex by the fact that, as i mentioned above, rationalism is one of the major idols of our culture. hyper-rationality is not unknown in the reformed tradition. and as annoying and dangerous as i find the current trend in emotionalism and anti-intellectualism in the contemporary north american church, i have to recognize that the church of my mom's and previous generations was often so concerned with theology and capital-R Reason that it completely steamrollered over the needs of the very broken people it was called to heal, both inside and outside the church. these two extremes have been battling it out since at least the time of jonathan edwards in the 18th century and probably since the very first generation of the Church. i bet st. peter and st. john argued about this stuff. the rock vs. the one Jesus loved. what an interesting discussion that would be.
it's all about finding the centre ground between these two extremes. and i'm not sure how to go about that. good thing we have the Holy Spirit. whether you come from a more reformed or more evangelical tradition, give thanks to God for the way His Spirit has blessed and guided your tradition and ask him to help you see the good in the others.
January 13, 2005
you might want to think about replacing the three-ring hole puncher from the seventies. i know it is from the seventies because it is that orangey-yellow sort of coloured metal that was no longer produced after nineteen-eighty-two. it only punches holes in one sheet of paper at a time. i'm pretty sure that we can find the money for a new shiny modern one considering the multi-million dollar expansion project that the library is currently undergoing. also, regarding that project: what the crap is going on right now? i'm pretty sure the construction people are pounding metal filing cabinets with large sledgehammers. not sure how that builds libraries. that's why i'm a humanities major.
dear january thaw:
welcome to ontario. enjoy your stay. stay as long as you like. just go away if the d*mn ladybugs come back
we're not friends. you make me feel like crap. let's make a deal. you don't bother me for the rest of my life and i won't whine about you.
dear crabby joe's employees:
that mini-blackout last night was fun eh? i still can't believe that you guys turned down our gracious request to help finish the beer before it got warm. what are regulars for anyway?
dear jerry seinfeld show:
your show is an accurate depiction of my dorm. that frightens and bewilders me. i did not realize that my dormmates and i were jewish yuppies before watching two seasons of you.
dear dorm room:
no matter how much i whine about how messy you are, you don't get clean. i don't understand.
January 05, 2005
death by a million
first day of classes... i forgot how boring school is
today we learned that five classes times one syllabus per class times one lengthy explanation of a syllabus per syllabus equals THANATOS. also first classes always get out after like 25 minutes, which would be nice except that i have classes all bunched together so i keep having half an hour to wander around school thinking of ways to commit suicide.
it's great to be back. oh how i missed redeemer... kimber and i heaved great sighs of joy when we saw the multitude of no parking signs that constitute the driveway into school... it's the little things in life....
also... they're building something... possibly a library... but from the perspective of this student huddled in the computer lab it sounds like an invasion of giant alien insects... i'm a little worried, i won't lie to you
December 31, 2004
well team, people keep telling me to update so here goes.
life goes on in the g dot r. i have managed to avoid doing the greek homework that beckons me like the irresistible grace of... hmm i think i'll stop there, that analogy was going to be pretty calvinist-geeky plus a bit blasphemous... what's more, there is nothing at all gracious about the third noun declension in greek. grammatical gender i can deal with as long as there's some easy way to tell what gender a noun is. maybe if it's masculine give it an -ος ending or if it's feminine give it an -η or -α ending (yea those were greek letters, i'm aware that i'm a loser for installing a greek keyboard) but if you're going to assign gender randomly... oh third declension we are NOT FRIENDS.
i also finished knitting my scarf... i had a few, um, issues casting off but it looks okay. i might knit mittens now. and if i do i may or may not have a string between them so they won't get lost. you may call me a little kid now but we will see who is mocking whom when you can't find your other glove and you're ten minutes late for class.
but most likely we'll have a warm winter since i finally bought myself a jacket. curses. oh my luck... it never fails to fail me. good thing i have natural charm and razor-sharp wit to save me
i mean it
ok moving on again... watched the trailer for the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie coming out next year (i.e., in 2005). i'm torn. on one hand, the first movie was deeply disturbing, second only to the wizard of oz in the 'movies made for kids that kids should never see' category... on the other hand, mm the j depp and tim burton... last time they got together we were given the amazingness that was edward scissorhands... if anyone can do this justice it's those two.
maybe edward scissorhands can make a cameo. he could be cutting hair in the background or something. this makes me want to tape kitchen utensils to my fingers and run around the house again... not that i've ever done that before... why are you looking at me like that
onto something completely different... an unfortunate side comment i made to jehan at last Church in the Box has managed to ruin one of my favourite christmas songs for me... you see in 'Joy to the World' one of the lines is 'and heaven and nature sing'... i pointed out the possible link to thomistic dualism and the grace/nature false antithesis... now i can't sing it with a straight face
i went ice skating with gayle yesterday at the public rink in downtown GR. then we had lunch... i paid for my sandwich with a ten and got four bucks back... that is, four one dollar bills. ugh. how i loathe one dollar bills. where is canada when you need her, eh? the united states is at it again... we can't seem to design our money properly... they've got new fifties out and they're even grosser than the twenties with their nasty two-coloured designs and washed-out tones and little numbers printed randomly all over them. we've decided that the reason the dollar is so low is that no one wants to buy our ugly money. i sure don't but if anyone wants to give me some of the ugly fifties i guess i won't complain too much.
so really if the goverment would just make the money pretty the demand will go up and the price will rise and the canadian dollar will go back down to two cents US where it belongs so i can get cheap education. thank you federal government. you're more helpful than... um, than...
well i'll get back to that one some other time.
what a year this has been eh? i feel a lot more than a year older than i did a year ago, though strangely i don't feel quite nineteen. i guess i'm still catching up. maybe if i pretend to be thirteen i'll have another growth spurt. here's to catching up with all the eighth graders of the dutch sort. oh dutch people... you are too tall
timmy signing out.
December 19, 2004
The Turn of the Tide
by C.S. Lewis
Breathless was the air over Bethlehem.
Black and bare
Were the fields; hard as granite the clods;
Hedges stiff with ice; the sedge in the vice
Of the pool, like pointed iron rods.
And the deathly stillness spread from Bethlehem.
It was shed; wider each moment on the land;
Through rampart and wall into camp and into hall
Stole the hush; all tongues were at a stand.
At the Procurator's feast
The jocular freedman ceased
His story, and gaped. All were glum.
Travelers at their beer in a tavern turned to hear
The landlord; their oracle was dumb.
But the silence flowed forth to the islands
And the North
And smoothed the unquiet river bars
And leveled out the waves
From their reveling and paved
The sea with cold reflected stars.
Where Caesar on Palatine sat at ease to sign,
Without anger, signatures of death,
There stole into his room and on his soul a gloom,
And his pen faltered, and his breath.
Then to Carthage and the Gauls,
Past Parthia and the Falls
Of Nile and Mount Amara it crept;
The romp and war of beast
In swamp and jungle ceased,
The forest grew still as though it slept.
So it ran about the girth of the planet.
From the Earth
A signal, a warning, went out
And away behind the air.
Her neighbors were aware
Of change. They were troubled with a doubt.
Salamanders in the Sun that brandish as they run
Tails like the Americas in size
Were stunned by it and dazed;
Wondering they gazed
Up at earth, misgiving in their eyes.
In Houses and Signs Ousiarchs divine
Grew pale and questioned what it meant;
Great Galactal lords stood back to back with swords
Half-drawn, awaiting the event,
And a whisper among them passed,
'Is this perhaps the last
Of our story and the glories of our crown?
The entropy worked out? The central redoubt
Abandoned? The world-spring running down?'
Then they could speak no more.
Even them. They were as flies in a web,
In their lethargy stone-dumb.
The death had almost come;
The tide lay motionless at ebb.
Like a stab at that moment,
Over Crab and Bowman,
Over Maiden and Lion, came the shock
Of returning life,
The start and burning pang and heart,
Setting Galaxies to tingle and rock;
And the Lords dared to breathe,
And swords were sheathed
And a rustling, a relaxing began,
With a rumour and noise of the resuming of joys,
On the nerves of the universe it ran.
Then pulsing into space with delicate, dulcet pace
Came a music, infinitely small
And clear. But it swelled and drew nearer and held
All worlds in the sharpness of its call.
And now divinely deep, and louder, with the sweep
And quiver of inebriating sound,
The vibrant dithyramb shook Libra and the Ram,
The brains of Acquarius spun round;
Such a note
As neither Throne nor Potentate had known
Since the Word first founded the abyss,
But this time it was changed
In a mystery, estranged,
A paradox, an ambiguous bliss.
Heaven danced to it and burned.
Such answer was returned
To the hush, the Favete, the fear
That Earth had sent out; revel, mirth and shout
Descended to her, sphere below sphere.
Saturn laughed and lost his latter age's frost,
His beard, Niagara-like, unfroze;
Monsters in the Sun rejoiced;
The Inconstant One,
The unwedded Moon, forgot her woes.
A shiver of re-birth and deliverance on the Earth
Went gliding. Her bonds were released.
Into broken light a breeze
Rippled and woke the seas,
In the forest it startled every beast.
Capripods fell to dance from Taproban to France,
Leprechauns from Down to Labrador,
In his green Asian dell the Phoenix from his shell
Burst forth and was the Phoenix once more.
So death lay in arrest. But at Bethlehem the blessed
Nothing greater could be heard
Than a dry wind in the thorn,
The cry of the One new-born
And cattle in stall as they stirred.
December 18, 2004
December 09, 2004
Well, the pre-procrastination, procrastination and paper seasons have passed and it is time for the fourth and final phase in the drama that is each semester at the RUC... that's right... exam time.
i figured i should fill everyone in on the momentous happenings in the life of timmy over the last couple weeks... let's just say that the screwing that occurs to me on a regular basis has become near-continuous... with apologies to will frickin' ivy, i have no choice but to appropriate his terminology of 'ownage'.
My name is Tim Van Alstyne, and i am a victim of ownage.
oh no and i am not talking about pansy partial ownage here. no i am clearly a wholly owned subsidiary of the RUC and of pretty much every other individual and organization in my life. the ownage that has occurred in various aspects of my life have merged together to form a ginormous 'ownage monster' that is proceeding to devour me.
How am I owned? let me count the ways. in the interests of not being a complete jerk, i will freely admit that a combination of poor planning, apathy and absent-mindedness on my part had a role to play in the development of this saga. nevertheless the number of external factors that have combined in just the right way to screw me is frankly incredible.
1a) the fact that i was given four days to pay $650 for a plane ticket to amsterdam for my spring break missions trip,
1b) got two flat tires,
1c) have no on-campus job (more on this later) and
1d) and the vagaries of the weak-dollar economic policies of the current american president which have led to a ridiculously strong loonie
1) combine with the result that I have come up substantially short on my tuition payments. so now i get to go home and beg my credit union for money, likely at absurdly high interest rates, so i can come back to school. cuz if i have to live at home next year ill friggin die
2) i am on the cusp of failing the physical education class again. for those of you who do not know the saga, this current section is my third attempt to pass what is the most insanely easy class offered at any postsecondary institution anywhere. however to pass this class one is required to either 1a) work out for two hours a week or 1b) lie and to 2) go to class at 8 AM and to 3) hand in a multitude of insignificant labs and exercise logs. thanks to my mad organizational skills and early-morning abilities i have managed to fail this class twice (well, i dropped it failing the second time). it may or may not happen again depending on whether i ace the exam. any normal person at this stage would have a good chance to pass. however i doubt that karma will pass up the chance to screw me over once again. jehan, cheryl, you can probably tell joyce she's got a good chance to have someone to sit with in class next semester. the way it looks, i did manage to get all my labs and logs in but one of each of them was late, so that's two automatic zeroes. and i wrote my midterm without having studied, so that mark could be as low as 55-60 or as high as 70-75... i'm a pretty good guesser plus a lot of it was common sense, so i'm pretty sure i passed it.
Basically if i ace the exam i'll come out with a C, and if i do OK on the exam i'll get a D.
3) thanks to don russell, former director of financial aid and on-campus employment at the RUC, i received no on-campus job. well that is not precisely accurate. in fact, i did fill out the form last year stating that i wished to receive a job this year. i also noted that i did not want to continue the job of changing the sign, which is quite likely the worst job at redeemer, i can't think of any worse ones anyway. nevertheless, in spite of this and also the fact that as an international student i am supposed to receive priority placement since i cannot legally work off-campus, i was re-assigned to this job. (for a more in-depth discussion of this shitty job, including how i never got paid for the work i did, check out this post from February and this post from September).
Well, I was planning to put together all the emails i'd gotten from my boss telling me to change the sign so that i could, well, get paid. however the charger for my laptop battery (or whatever, i don't really remember what exactly was wrong) broke so i couldn't charge the battery, and when i got it back from Best Buy (the US version of Future Shop) the emails from my boss (and only them, nothing else) were gone... so i not only had no documentation of working, but i had no contract or anything in writing... essentially i was screwed.
i decided to go talk to my ex-boss and ask to be paid for working twice a week for three months, plus once this year. i knew i'd worked more like three times a week many times but i was aware that i couldn't precisely document it so i understimated my work history. i explained to him my math and told him it worked out to 37 1/2 hours here. he agreed. let me repeat that: I go "I have worked 37 1/2 hours and have not been paid" and he goes "I agree. You are owed 37 1/2 hours worth of pay."
he then proceeded to lecture me for not having gotten on this earlier. an acceptable, valid and expected lecture. i agreed with him that i had no leg to stand on although i silently did not agree with his characterization of this situation as entirely my fault seeing as i was working for school illegally for several months and was never given a contract to sign.
well at this point i was a little nervous. i figured there were two possibilities. either he would say 'ok, i'm going to get you this money that school owes you' or 'ok, i'm sorry but without documentation i can't pay you, hope you learned your lesson'. either would have been fair. i figured i either would get money so i could pay a good chunk of my remaining tuition, or a fairly decent ownage story to tell and a painful lesson learned.
this is where it gets weird guys. this is where all the streams of ownage combine into the great ownasaur that may or may not be devouring me alive, which has caused me to completely lose my sanity over the last few weeks.
he started off on a tangent:
So Tim, what's your GPA?
um what are you talking about i don't understand what do you mean... I'm not sure... I think it's at 6.6 but I failed a class last year, it'll go up when the retake grade comes in.
That's your cumulative GPA. What was your GPA from last semester?
Uh, I don't know... couldn't tell you offhand what the crap i'm so confused.... what does this have to do with the price of tea in china
do you do stuff like this when you're writing papers? what do your profs say?
Um I get by I guess, I usually get B's but I could probably get A's I guess... uh oh where is this going this can't be good
here's what i'm gonna do tim
THIS IS NOT GOOD PANIC PANIC PANIC
I can pay you for 20 hours' worth this month...
CALMING CALMING OK HE'S GONNA PAY ME
... and in January, come back in here...
RIGHT KEEP IT COMING BUDDY
... bring your report card in and we'll look at that and see what happens from there, okay?
WHAT THE BLOODY HELL WHAT ARE YOU THINKING MAN WHAT THE FRIGGIN CRAP THIS IS NOT COOL um... that sounds good... stunned silence
lets recap guys. this is not a dispute over whether i earned 37 1/2 hours worth of pay. this fact is not in question.
neither is this a question of whether i can legally hold redeemer accountable. thanks to the shady way in which i was asked to work illegally for months and never given a contract to sign once i did become legal, there is no way in hell any court would ever award me money. plus i have neither the money nor the time nor the desire to go to court over what amounts to 17 1/2 hours at minimum wage.
oh no. my boss and i both agree on these. however the key point on which i have received ownage is this:
MY PAYCHECK HAS BEEN TIED TO MY MARKS.
This is wrong on so many levels. So, so many levels. It's unethical, immoral and idiotic. I won't deny that the same lack of organization that helped to get me into this mess has also affected my schoolwork. but i'm pretty sure this is not the right way to deal with it.
i feel like a tool for having to point this out but: you're supposed to get paid based on such criteria as how many hours you work or how quickly and well you do the work or how many of a product you produce or how highly the work you do is valued. in my case the wage is set at a fixed rate, the minimum wage.
Things that should not be taken into account when the paycheque is being made out:
--whether or not the employee is wearing an orange shirt
--the number of trees in the employee's back yard
--whether or not the dow jones industrial average is up for the week
--the employee's school marks
i could go talk to the guy again. (thanks to lack of documentation i can't go over his head to his boss). however given the fact that he thought this was a good idea in the first place, i do not think it is wise to insert my severed cranium into the mouth of the lion for a second time in the hopes that the lion will re-attach my head to my neck. or something like that. my best bet is probably to go back to him in january (and this is where the last piece of the ownage puzzle falls into place)...
i can only hope i don't self-destruct as i try to explain away that D- in physical education...
November 20, 2004
Ah, that time of year again. Procrastination. Yesterday I was scheduled to research for my 10-page US History paper on the anti-Federalists and run errands. I ended up going to the mall with Katie and buying a much-needed second sweater (that's right, I only owned one sweater that actually fit me), going to Swiss Chalet for supper with Adrienne, Claire, Tal and Ryan Jones, and spending the evening being distracted by the twin vices of the poker game downstairs and the internet in my room.
Today I spent more time on the internet and hanging out at Alaina and Sandra's dorm before finally going to check out my books for US History.
I'm pretty sure I didn't procrastinate this much in high school. On the other hand we didn't have to do 10 page papers so much.
I have to say, this is probably the least interesting blog I've ever written. I'm pretty sure everyone reading this is sleeping by now.
Hmm... sleeping... nap. Maybe I'll do that before I get started working....