Friday, January 30, 2004



By Michelle Branch, to be played on stations like Star 98.7

Turn it inside out so I can see-uh

The part of you that's drifting over me-uh

And when I wake you're--you're never there

But when I sleep you're--you're everywhere

You're everywhere

Just tell me how I got this far

Just tell me why you're here and who you are

'Cause every time I look

You're never there

And every time I sleep

You're always there


'Cause you're everywhere to me

And when I close my eyes it's you I see

You're everything I know

That makes me believe

I'm not alone

I'm not alone

I recognize the way you make me feel

It's hard to think that you might not be real

I sense it now, the water's getting deep

I try to wash the pain away from me

Away from me


And when I touch your hand

It's then I understand

The beauty that's within

It's now that we begin

You always light my way

I hope there never comes a day

No matter where I go

I always feel you so


'Cause you're everywhere to me

And when I catch my breath

It's you I breathe

You're everything I know

That makes me believe

I'm not alone

You're in everyone I see

So tell me

Do you see me?


Commentary: Paul of Tarsus said, "For in him we live and move and have our being." He was speaking of God as one who undergirds all existence, in whom we live and breathe. Another Paul, the physicist Paul Davies, once said, "I was drawn to the idea of God as a sort of 'timeless ground of being' on which the cosmic order is built." And if all men and women are the image of God, we see glimpses of him everywhere and in everyone.

There's a not-very-insightful online discussion of Branch's faith here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004



"Chop Suey", to be played by System Of A Down with loud instruments

Wake up (wake up)
Grab a brush and put a little makeup
Hide the scars to fade away the shake up
Why'd you leave the keys up on the table?
Here you go create another fable

I don't think you trust, in, my,
Self-righteous suicide,
I, cry, when angels deserve to die

Father (mother)
Father (brother)
Father into your hands, I commend my spirit
Father into your hands, why have you forsaken me?
In your eyes, forsaken me
In your thoughts, forsaken me
In your heart, forsaken me

Oh, trust in my, self-righteous suicide
I cry when angels deserve to die
In my self-righteous suicide
Why cry when angels deserve to die


Commentary: true suicide or death to self and sin means living for righteousness. A self-righteous suicide is something I wouldn't trust in either.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004


University, Diversity, and Discrimination

When I was in high school, I applied to nine universities. I got rejected by some. In the judgment of those admission committees, I was probably believed to be unprepared. And I may very well have been. Admitting me, only to watch me fail, wouldn't have helped me or the university. Alternatively, to admit me and then lower the grading standards for me to "succeed" would in the long run not help me and would denigrate the reputation of the university.

The truth is universities must have standards; they stand or fall by them. The reason places like Harvard and Princeton and Oxford are so well known is that they are believed to have high standards, and produce very qualified leaders in the various disciplines and vocations of our society.

Standardized tests, admissions requirements, grades, hiring procedures, peer evaluations, tenure reviews---all are necessary to any university, since the institution of the university is itself part of a larger political and social order whose ideals and standards it should uphold.

The university can even be defined as an institution for the preservation and transmission of standards for many kinds of human excellence: excellence in wisdom, prudence, art, science, skill, even athletics.

Only very recently have we heard talk of diversity as a term to designate a distinctive area of excellence to be fostered by the university. Does the emphasis on diversity indicate the discovery of a new human excellence?

There must be something new here, something good and true and beautiful, but it is hard to tell. The reason is that the new use of the term "diversity" obscures what its usage aims to effect. The "celebration of diversity" has come to represent a kind of liberation from standards themselves, standards understood to produce homogeneity by systematically excluding and oppressing whatever is "different."

To be continued...

Sunday, January 18, 2004


A Trip to Vegas

Yes, a trip to Vegas some time ago, when civilization grew tiresome.

"I wanna see the good stuff," says Dana. "You gotta go to Vegas and figure out for yourself what that is for you."

As we drive through the mountainous desert, we went over the list of the top 100 American movies, trying to figure out how many each of us had seen. I'd seen about thirty. From what others said, I realize a few I want to see, like The Godfather, Stage Coach, Easy Rider, and Full Meteal Jacket.

After drinking myself silly from wine-in-a-box the night before, it was comforting to be in my right mind. I was in a good state to be driving, but Kyle was behind the wheel instead. After discussing the movies, we need to relax, and experience one of those moments of quiet reflection which punctuate our times together. We're listening to Motorhead, Sam's choice. I'm grateful.

Dana and I take up the back seat. He talks to me a bit about his sales job, how he does it and what it means to him. Then silence again as we look out the window at the clean canvas of desert pavement, the surface on which we and our parents built our lives and our meaning. So many possibilities. And then a great dread fell upon me, as upon Abraham many years before.

"You know, a lot of things that are wrong elsewhere are okay in Vegas," Dana inserts into the silence.

"Prostitution? Hasty marriages?" I ask.

"A lot of things, Shane," he replies forebodingly.

"Yeah. I like being able to walk around with alcohol and leave it anywhere," Kyle adds in his humorous, yet frighteningly serious way. We pass Baker, gateway to Death Valley, which boasts of the world's largest thermometer. It's one of those towns whose elevation is higher than its population. Which says a lot in this part of the country where elevations hover near sea level.

I look forward to wearing my eye patch for a while, so I can open it in the midst of Vegas madness.

Dana has already won $2000 at craps, daydreaming.

We all look out the window, and carry on.

As the sun was setting, I fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over me. On one side, I saw Yahweh, and on the other, an impregnable darkness, like words without truth. Inside of me, I could see I was staring down a beast whose ability to reason had atrophied, whose heart was sinking in darkness. Like the Congo in Joseph Conrad's story, we rode that highway further and further into the heart of that darkness. Who or what would be my Kurtz? Could I overcome him? Help me, Yahweh.

Monday, January 05, 2004


Shane's Banished Word List for 2004

In the spirit of the Lake Superior State University 2004 List of Banished Words which Jessica pointed out to me and which includes such gems as 'metrosexual', 'punked', and 'bling-bling', I thought I would rack my philologist brain and try to think of some words or phrases which are Mis-Used, Over-Used and/or Generally Useless.

pimped out - related to bling-bling; all dressed up and ready to go, like someone who procures customers for whores. I think the final straw is when I heard Jessica's 11-year-old nephew use this, without knowing its origin.

that's gay - Not gay as in homosexual, but gay in that grade-school "That is so gay!" way, i.e. lame, wrongheaded, queer in the original sense. That woman's hairdo? Gay. That book jacket? Gay. The fact that Dick and Lynne Cheney won't talk about their lesbian daughter? Gay gay gay.

so ... - as in "that's so yesterday" or "I so don't want to hear that song". I've found myself using this a few times, thinking it quite a clever device. It's another novel way of turning nouns or verbs and other parts of speech into adjectives. But it grows tiresome. In some cases, one can simply say 'really' or its synonyms. In other cases, the phrase must be completely rethought.

make no mistake - Right after 9/11, I heard almost every single Bush official, especially Bush himself, use this phrase, as if it were some passphrase for CIA field operatives to set in motion some previously dormant yet meticulously designed Red Alert plan. Can't we simply say, 'I mean this seriously' or 'Heed my words' or the King James 'Verily, verily, I say unto you' or something more creative? Unless of course it is a passphrase...

road map - as in a road map to peace in the Middle East, or a road map to progress in Mars exploration (in NASA-speak). This phrase will probably have to remain, but it's really just a tentative speculative plan, which is based on many unknowns in the future. It pretends to portray as concrete that which is entirely unknown. I can almost imagine that business-trained Osama Bin Laden is sitting somewhere revising his Road Map to the Utter Destruction of America for distribution to middle management.

like - this useless conversation filler should go the way of 'ugh' and 'umm'. I like, kinda, uh, don't wanna use it anymore. It is perpetually banished.

If you can think of more, please add them...