Category: Essays


Prior to my belated engagement announcement post, the last post on my blog was from October of 2017. I went an entire year without any new posting. Yes, I have been in graduate school, but there has been plenty of time in which I could have blogged. But, you see, in that time I’ve been active on Facebook. I’ve been active on Facebook for years, but I’ve gotten especially drawn in this year. I joined a group for Christian singles late last year, and that community has taken most of my energy for writing. Social media has become a black-hole for me.

And this is sad. I have had many adventures in Germany and Poland and Czech Republic which I could have written about. I could have written about milestones in my relationship with Jess. I could have written about theological questions I’m working through. I could have written about history, or written some new poems.

Instead, I’ve mostly been reacting on social media. And I’ve started to notice how it effects the way I think and act. There is a place for engaging on a social platform, but I found that I start reacting to what others do and say, and I am less proactive myself. I don’t formulate new ideas the same way. My posts become more about soliciting reactions rather than exploring a topic.

I hope that as I start writing more frequently, I can become more proactive in my thoughts and in my online presence once again. We’ll see how it plays out, I guess.

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As is obvious if the history of my posts on here is looked at, I haven’t been active for a year on this blog. During that time, many exciting events have transpired. Of these, the most exciting is that I started up a relationship with Jessica Evans, an English classmate at my university in Germany. We started dating in January, made our relationship official over Valentine’s Day weekend, and, this September, I asked her to be my wife!

She was visiting my family in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, and I took her up to the top of Mount Greylock to propose to her. My father proposed to my mother on the same mountain, and I wanted to continue the tradition. I then took her to dinner at Ye Old Forge Restaurant down in the valley.

Below are some pictures of us on Greylock, and of our engagement rings:

Exactly 500 years ago – on October 31st, 1517, a monk named Martin Luther changed the world. Concerned about the serious errors he that he believed were being taught by the Roman Catholic Church, he wrote down a list of 95 problems that he believed needed change, and (depending on the historian you talked to) either nailed them to the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenberg, or else mailed them from Wittenberg to the archbishop of Mainz. Whichever way it happened, that event is how all the turmoil started.

I am studying at Brandenburg University of Technology, and my blog has been silent for a few months while I adjust to my studies. But I wanted to write something for this special time, the 500th year since Luther started the Protestant Reformation. But what is the Protestant Reformation? What happened 500 years ago that was so special? What is so important about this list that Martin Luther made? Today, as I travel out to Lutherstadt Wittenberg, the birthplace of this theological revolution, this post will upload and you can learn the basics of just what makes that day so remarkable.

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Though I’m busy with packing and preparing to go to Germany, I do want to write a short post on a current topic: Google and free speech in a market economy. Google has been taking a lot of flack recently for some of their decisions regarding speech in the workplace and websites from which they generate revenue. They fired James Damore for advocating positions that they felt detracted from a healthy working environment; after GoDaddy stopped hosting the neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer, Google picked up the domain only to also drop it after a few hours; they threatened to pull ad revenue from an alt-right leaning political opinion site because a particular article was written by a former contributor who participated in the “Unite the Right” rally; a far-left site claims that Google is reducing their exposure; and there are many other such accusations of censorship of all kinds.

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Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

God desires us to worship him. But, if we have an unresolved conflict with someone, that will hinder our worship. In the passage above, Jesus explains that before we offer up service to God, we need to first reconcile any conflicts we might have with someone else. Does anyone hold anything against you? Are there any conflicts you have yet to resolve?

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A hamburger sandwich. Photo by Len Rizzi, public domain in the US. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by User:VulcanOfWalden.

It is now a truly international phenomenon: Millions of people throw down patties of ground beef on a grill, cook to order, and slide the meat onto buns to make a sandwich. And the popularity of the hamburger shows no sign of dying out any time soon. But what is the history of this favorite sandwich? Where did it come from?

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Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Phil. 4:8

What do you think about? Spend time pondering? Your mind and heart is from what all your actions stem. Do we spend time thinking about how we can help others? Improve their lives? How we can better take care of the world that God has placed us in? Do we think about things that please God, about doing what is morally right?

If you are a believer, God has given you the power of his Holy Spirit to do this. Through God’s power, you can discipline and train your mind to be focused on things that are right.

You see it every day at home, every day at work. It is a commonplace tool, so commonplace that I usually do not give it much thought, yet it is nearly indispensable. It is the broom. A great deal of ingenuity and effort went into the creation of this important tool. Today, we will learn a brief history of its development.

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The standard flat broom. Sleek and efficient when compared to its predecessors. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Uploaded by User:Mauzile. CC BY-SA 4.0.

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Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

Is God your boss? When you go to work, who would you say you are working for? According to Paul in his letter to the Colossians, we Christians should work as if we are working for God. Because, in fact, we are working for God. Even if your boss is not around to see your work, God is. If you feel your work is underappreciated, know that God has seen it and will reward you for it. If you are slacking in your work, know that God sees this too, has forgiven you of that, and has given you his Holy Spirit to help you work better. So, remember that when you go back to work: God is your boss, and his praise will last for eternity.

In the final part to my series on Russian colonialism, I looked at the the Russian efforts to colonize the Caucasus. In that discussion, I mentioned the country of Georgia. That mention led me to write about today’s topic: The medieval-era Kingdom of Georgia.

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Tamar of Georgia. 12th/13th century mural by an unknown artist. Public domain, uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by User:Kober.

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