Notebook of Sand

• Recent Publications
• Recent Projects
• Conferences & Speaking
"Comparing Spatial Hypertext Collections"
  ACM Hypertext '09
"Archiving and Sharing Your Tinderbox"
  Tinderbox Weekend London '09
"The Electronic Nature of Future Literatures"
  Literary Studies Now, Apr '09
"The World University Project"
  St. John's Col. Cambridge, Feb '09
"Ethical Explanations,"
  The New Knowledge Forge, Jun '08
Lecture, Cambridge University
  Tragedy in E-Lit, Nov '07
Hypertext '07: Tragedy in E-Lit
Host for Tinderbox Cambridge '07
Keynote: Dickinson State Uni Conf
Upper Midwest NCHC'07: Speaker
eNarrative 6: Creative Nonfiction
HT'05: "Philadelphia Fullerine"
  Nelson award winning paper
NCHC '05:
 Nurturing Independent Scholarship
Riddick Practicum:
  Building Meeting Good Will
NCHC '04:
  Philadelphia Fullerine
  Lecture on American Studies
WWW@10: Nonfiction on the Web
NCHC '03: Parliamentary Procedure
ELL '03 -- Gawain Superstar
• (a)Musing (ad)Dictions:

Ideas. Tools. Art. Build --not buy. What works, what doesn't. Enjoy new media and software aesthetics at Tekka.

Theodore Gray (The Magic Black Box)

Faith, Life, Art, Academics. Sermons from my family away from home: Eden Chapel!

My other home: The Cambridge Union Society (in 2007, I designed our [Fresher's Guide])

The Economist daily news analysis

Global Higher Ed blog

• Hypertext/Writing

Writing the Living Web

Chief Scientist of Eastgate Systems, hypertext expert Mark Bernstein. (Electronic) Literature, cooking, art, etc.

Fabulous game reviews at playthisthing.

• Stats

Chapter I: Born. Lived. Died.

There is a Chapter II.

Locale: Lancaster County Pa, USA

Lineage: Guatemala

Religion: My faith is the primary focus of my life, influencing each part of me. I have been forgiven, cleansed, and empowered by Jesus Christ. Without him, I am a very thoughtful, competent idiot. With him, I am all I need to be, all I could ever hope for. I oppose institutional religious stagnation, but getting together with others is a good idea. God is real. Jesus Christ is his Son, and the Bible is true. Faith is not human effort. It's human choice. I try to be the most listening, understanding, and generous person I can.

Interests: Anything I can learn. Training and experience in new media, computer science, anglophone literature, education, parliamentary debate, democratic procedure, sculpture, and trumpet performance. Next: applied & computational linguistics, probably.

Education: Private school K-3. Home educated 4-12. Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Elizabethtown College in Jan 2006. As the 2006 Davies-Jackson Scholar, I studied English at St. John's College, Cambridge University from 2006 - 2008.

Memberships: Eden Baptist, Cambridge Union Society, ACM, AIP, GPA.

Alum of the Elizabethtown College Honors Program, sponsored by the Hershey Company.

How *not* to present Christianity
Thursday, 9 Jun 2005 :-:

I get worried when I hear about things like public zoos choosing to depict acccounts of creation.

Although I do believe that God created the universe, I am aware of the fact that this belief does not agree with the results from the scientific community. That's not the issue I want to discuss here. Rather, I want to discuss the sort of reasoning that Christians are more frequently making in order to regain or retain their chance to be part of public discourse.

I'm surprised that so many Christians make arguments like, "well, there's a Hindu symbol and Native American quotes, so we should be allowed to have our imagery and perspective."

This argument doesn't work, for the same reason that token nodding to Hindu or Native American traditions doesn't encourage many people to embrace those traditions. When we put up symbols of Ganesh or talk about the Mother Spirit, we actually puts down those traditions. The people who create such displays are rarely Hindu, rarely Native American. The hushed one that describes these traditions doesn't encourage people to believe the statements made. Rather, it's the hushed tone of a storyteller who knows that it's just a story. This is what Said complained about in his work, Orientalism. By describing the foreign other, we become more comfortable in our own assumptions.

A good example of this sort of discourse is Ellen Kushner's radio show, Sound and Spirit. Ellen takes a single topic, finds examples in many religions, and then plays related music while describing the views of these many religions. The show does the opposite of encouraging religious belief. The common response to her show is, "oh, interesting," or a deeper agreement with the idea that all religions have commonalities and stem from the same (insert here).

By looking in from the outside, we hardly encourage people to be inside, especially when we present so many religions side-by-side.

This is why very few students of religion are dedicated proponents of a single religion. An external, "objective" observation of ritual, tradition, and theory lends itself to a solely-intellectual, comparative conclusion rather than the rich experience of plunging into a life blessed by God.

** * **

If Christianity can only be discussed by the State as another religion with its own quirky stories and held significances, then I would rather not have it discussed by the State.

The forced discussion of Christianity in a context of "religion" only weakens the potential for true faith. Christianity is not an oddity to be paraded with these other views. Thos who try to force others to proclaim the ideas of Christianity will, like Ozymandias, find that the sculptor has the last laugh:

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said -- two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert ... near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lips, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my Works ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Ozymandias, by Peter Bysshe Shelley

Force people, and your legacy will be two trunkless legs of stone and a crumbled sneer.

** * **

Furthermore, I don't think that the proponents of this Creation display are doing it in good faith. They don't really want to equally, fairly display the views of all religions. I can't see them describing the Epic of Gligamesh or any other creation myths alongside the Biblical account.

** * **

The time is over. Christianity no longer retains the significant, unchallenged position it once held in American culture. We cannot go back. It is pointless to grasp at it or try to bring it back. What good can you gain by "winning back the culture" ? Culture is something that springs out from the aggregate consciousness. It is true that secular forces have taken firm control of the culture-definers: entertainment and education. But you can't change this with a law. To change it naturally would take generations.

And after all, what are we Christians to do? Who told us to control the culture? A culture with heavy Christian influences has as many problems as one with few Christian influences, maybe more. It encourages hypocrisy and diluted ideas. Social pressure is a horrible way to introduce people to God, precisely because it often fails to do so.

Besides, a spare majority of Christians who attempt to control culture most usually fails. It failed in England in the 17th century. It failed in the United States as well.

In an age of pluralism, we must be oh-so careful not to set up our little stand in the strip-mall of religious choice. My faith is not a hobby, and I will not sell it like a hobby. It is not just a story, tradition, or mental discipline. I refuse to treat it like just another idea.

We should certainly be excellent in our thinking, understanding, and explanation. But the best way to teach others about Christ is not to put up a diorama of Creation in a Zoo. Rather, it is to live such a Christlike life that people know our faith is more than just a story.

And if you are able to pass on the spark of righteous living in Christ, you won't need to force it down people's throats by means of law. The reality will be evident all around.