Essays

I’ve written, and posted to this blog, several essays on various topics. This page serves as a list of those essays that are not about the background of the Shine Cycle or Strategic Primer. Essays about movies and books are also listed separately.

Essays about the Christian faith:

Thanksgiving and the Liturgical Year

For the past several years, I have marked Advent, Christmas, Easter, and other liturgical holidays, and Thanksgiving Day, with seasonal posts.

Thanksgiving

My first Thanksgiving post, in 2009, was one that every subsequent one has included by reference, is the most lengthy, and is still what I would point people to when asked “What are you thankful for?”

Thanksgiving Day in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 brought addenda, as each year brought both new blessings and the memory of long-standing ones.

Advent

Beginning in 2010, I have marked Advent by devoting the Saturdays in that season to a special “mini-series” of posts about the season.

In 2010, I posted about how Jesus’ incarnation was both “long-expected” and unexpected, and about his Second and Last Advent.

In 2011, I wrote about how preparation for Christmas requires us to understand our need of a Savior and how Advent is a season for penitence. I also marked the week of Gaudete Sunday.

In 2012, I wrote about what I called “the three sides of Advent,” the anticipation of Christ’s coming, his “coming in judgment”, and his future “coming in glory”.

Advent 2013 was devoted to three Advent hymns, as part of the larger series of favorite hymns, listed below.

Christmas

My practice of marking Christmas with seasonal posts began before this blog; the first, copied to the newborn blog a week after I had posted it on Facebook, reminded readers that the Christmas season begins on Christmas Day and runs until Epiphany.

In 2009, I argued that Christians who object to the abbreviationn of “Christmas” to “Xmas” are both ignorant of history, wrong, and “straining a gnat and swallowing a camel.”.

In 2010, I wrote about how Christmas is a celebration of the fact of the Incarnation.

In 2011, I considered how Christmas ought to be celebrated.

In 2012, I argued that Christmas is a time for “overwhelming but not unmixed joy”. And I mentioned a new-to-me yet traditional Christmastide greeting.

In 2013, I attempted to debunk the popular notion that “Christ was born ‘that first Christmas morning.'”.

Others

I wrote brief meditations for Ash Wednesday 2012 and 2013.

For Easter 2012, I wrote about how “the Gospel of the Resurrection”. Then, seven weeks later, I meditated on the importance of the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost.

My “seasonal” posts in 2013 were mostly posts about hymns, which, again, will be covered below.

Soon after Epiphany 2014, I wrote a tangentially-related post about “Believer’s baptism”, “falling away”, and infant regeneration, which I’ll mention again below.

Sacraments and Liturgy

The sacraments are one of the topics I have returned to most often on this blog.

In January 2010, I mused on the question, “What is a sacrament?” That March, the day before Pentecost, I reflected on baptism specifically.

In February 2012, I discussed “the operation of the sacraments”—“what’s going on” when they are administered. And in September of that year, I warned that erroneous teaching on those points is a sign of “creeping Pelagianism.”

And, as I mentioned, in January 2014 I wrote about “Believer’s baptism”, “falling away”, and infant regeneration).

Liturgy is another topic I’ve written about more than once. In “De re liturgae”, I argued that since every church has a liturgy, whether it calls it that or not, churches ought to think about their liturgy-by-whatever-name. Later, I wrote at some length “Against Inanities”.

Faith in Politics

Several of my posts filed under “Faith” are also about political topics, often having to do with how Christians ought to fit into the United States.

First, I asked, “Whom do we serve? By our words and actions, whom are we serving?”.

I argued for the principle of charity in disputes, debate, and argument.

I looked into what it might mean if we are “Christ’s ambassadors”.

Primarily reasoning from Scripture, I looked at the purpose of government.

And on the eve of the 2012 election, I collected some “thoughts on the time”.

Hymns

In February 2013, I began a mostly monthly series of posts looking at favorite hymns, in reaction to the removal of all but a token hymn or two, and often 19th- or 20th-century “hymns” at that, from the services church I then attended. While I intend to link to the individual posts both here and in the introduction to the series, that will have to wait for now; you can read all the posts by browsing the “Hymns” category.

Others

One of the posts that gets the most visitors from “random” Web searches is a July 2010 investigation of Scripture passages relevant to “coming down from a ‘Spiritual high'”.

I have several posts about prophecy and promises. First, in 2011 I wrote about the importance of distinguishing between the two, and about the purposes for which prophecy is given.

I collected my thoughts about the origins issues.

I objected to “calendar confusion” in less-liturgical churches.

I looked at what “the free gift of salvation” means.

Technology

Once I started writing “miscellaneous essays” I had sort of expected that “technology” would be one of the biggest topics of this blog. But that hasn’t really happened; there are only a few dozen posts in the “Technology” category as of this writing.

There’s an occasional, intermittent series of posts about “unwritten programs”—programs that should exist, but, to the best of my knowledge, don’t. They are listed on their own Page.

Games

Back in 2011, when the “Facebook Platform” was new, I noted the absence of a “mathom” “game”.

Later that year, I described what I saw as the “unserved market” for educational games.

One of these days I plan to write a computer game based on the Shine Cycle concept of “Imperial Robo Cards”.

Others

I ranted briefly about limitations of the now-defunct Google Reader and Facebook profiles

I looked into social media tools for writers–though that post is now several years old and hasn’t been updated with new research.

I noticed that I was on WordPress and all my friends seemed to be on Blogspot, and lamented the incompatibility of their social features. (WordPress’s “Publicize” feature answers my need, I think.)

I explained what file formats I can read and prefer, for anyone tech-savvy enough to choose what format to send a file in and compassionate enough to care.

I wrote about the importance of software testing, and of developers dealing with those tests properly, and about the importance of using distributed version control.

I argued for the wider use of cryptography.

And in May 2013, I publicly introduced my “overlay” for Gentoo Linux.

Politics

I’ve written a few posts about political topics (as well as a few that I’m content to let molder in the archives):

In response to a 2009 column by Ellen Goodman, I wrote “Gay divorce? The left’s fundamental misunderstanding of matrimony”.

And I wrote two “thought experiments” to explore sides of then-current issues everyone seemed to be neglecting, jurisdiction and responsibility.

Debate

In my high school career, I came to love the “academic sport” of cross-examination policy debate. To contribute to the correction of flaws in the way it is practiced, I argued for consistency of argument between as well as within debate rounds and for the principle of charity in debate and argumentation more generally, and crafted a “critique” of the appeal to authority.

Projects

Two of my major projects are the Shine Cycle and Strategic Primer, which have their own pages. And I mentioned some of my minor (eventually-planned) projects under Technology above. But there are others.

Poetry Book

I’ve written, and posted here, a fairly large volume of poetry. So some years back, I realized that I had more than enough poems to fill a book, and embarked on the project to make a collection out of my best poems.

The first mention of this was in September 2010, when I asked for help choosing and improving poems. I made the same request in 2011.

I formally announced my intention to self-publish a collection a year after that. And that fall, I came up with the idea of organizing the collection around the cycles of a year.

From September 2011 until January 2013, on Thursdays I ran “Poetry Archive” posts, posting links to a smaller selection of poems and asking readers which of those they preferred.

After closing my “Poetry Archive” feedback-requesting experiment, I posted its results, which poems had received the most “votes” from “likes” and favorable comments (not just in connection with the “Archive” posts). (I recalculated those statistics, after losing my spreadsheet in a disk crash and
with almost a year to accumulate additional data, and posted the new results in December 2013.)

Over the course of 2013, I posted about my progress on the project roughly quarterly, including posts I linked to above and ones in March and July.

Others

First is my ongoing quest to get out from under my “data backlog.” I wrote about that when I got through one part of it in October 2012.

Eventually, I’d like to organize all this information I’e been filing away into a collection of “Compendia of Knowledge”.

Reintroductions and Retrospectives

From 2010 on, at the end of each liturgical and civil year I looked back over the past months.

In 2010, since there wasn’t a previous retrospective and I went back to the beginning of the blog, my blog-retrospective took three parts. I posted a look over my life in 2010 at the end of December.

I began 2011 with “a look forward”. That June, I realized that I had never given a proper introduction at the beginning of the blog, and so spent a week reintroducing myself and my work. At the end of that liturgical year (in November), I looked back over the year on the blog, and at the end of December I looked back over the year in more general terms.

The retrospective at the end of the liturgical year in November 2012 was in two parts, plus posts looking back over the more specific weekday “departments.” Instead of doing a personal retrospective at the end of the civil year, I set goals for 2013, followed by a reflection/melancholy-musing post beginning with “Auld lang syne”.

November 2013 brought a liturgical-year-end retrospective. At the turning of the civil year I reviewed the previous year’s goals and set new ones for 2014, and wrote another retrospective rammble.

Birthdays

A few times I’ve written posts to mark my birthday.

The first was originally on Facebook, and so lost its date in the conversion, but was written to describe how I felt on turning 21. Three years later, I was briefer and more retrospective.

Books

My book reviews have their own Page, but I’ve also written several other posts about books in general.

I objected to “edginess” in art, including fiction and poetry.

I discoursed on what allegory is and is not. A revised version of that essay later appeared on the Holy Worlds blog.

I thought about fan fiction, and identified five categories of it.

While cataloging our family’s book collection, I learned a lot about the history of book numbers.

I collected some of my thoughts about audiobooks.

I described the phenomenon of “falling in love with fictional characters”.

And I discussed the “rewind” model of time travel.

Miscellaneous

I’ve written a number of other “miscellaneous essays.”

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