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Dealing with Depression

World Mental Health Day is October 10th. Obviously this post is late for that, but is published with the intent of bringing awareness to mental health issues.

Depression is something that you really don’t fully understand unless you have been through it yourself. Even observing it in a close friend or loved one still doesn’t give you a full appreciation for the condition in my opinion. So since I have had to deal with my share of depression over the past couple of years, and since I’m starting to feel better finally, I’ve decided to share my perspective on it.

To begin I want to distinguish and define what I am referring to with the term depression. What I’m describing here is not a synonym for the sin of acedia. While both of them have many of the same physical signs: apathy, laziness, despair, dejection, sleepiness, lack of motivation and desire, etc the causes are different. Acedia is a spiritual disease which affects behavior. Essentially acedia is Hell on the installment plan; that is, a person has decided to no longer follow God [for some reason] and by doing so is gradually rejecting God and gradually progressing towards Hell. Depression, as I’m referring to it here is a physical condition which affects behavior. It refers to a chemical imbalance in the body which affects the overall life of a person.

Now don’t get me wrong here, I think there is a definite spiritual dimension to depression. There are times when I am angry at God and think He has just abandoned me and left me to an awful life. There are periods when I don’t bother doing any sort of personal spiritual devotion or practice and I feel like I am wasting my time on Sunday mornings. There has been real damage done to me spiritually while going through this, and I suspect it will take me quite a while to repair it and get things back on track.

However, I want to be sure that I distinguish between the two because I think Christians have a tendency to spiritualize everything and I want to make it clear that what I am talking about has a physical cause, not a spiritual one. I recognize that there is a spiritual dimension to it, but I am not talking about a spiritual disease. Depression as I define it is not something you can just pray your way out of or try harder and be cured from. Depression as I define it is something where you are basically helpless until you get yourself physically back to health.

Causes and Symptoms

Depression has a myriad of causes and identifying and treating the correct one can take some time. In my case it has really ended up being a hormone imbalance which has been further exacerbated over the past few years by the stress of graduate studies, not sleeping well, and not being able to get the rest I needed post-seminary. Basically it was depression caused by severe burnout. The hormone imbalance itself is quite treatable and since having resumed Clomid finally I feel much better physically (don’t get me started on how terrible my experience with the healthcare system in Sarasota was). The rest and sleeping well has been harder to come by, but since putting out the fires that suddenly popped up when I got back and actually treating my hormone issues I have finally started to sleep better and I am finally getting rest.

The main symptom I noticed during my depression was that my mental acuity was gone. Everything I did took longer and was far more difficult than normal. I could stare for 30 minutes at my computer writing a paper and not type a single thing and have no idea where the time went. My thoughts never moved from my brain to my fingers. This is a big problem when you’re doing graduate level work; you need to be at 100% mentally to do this level of work.

There were other significant symptoms as well: lack of energy, no motivation, no desire, no pleasure in previously enjoyed activities. I actually tried to avoid people as much as possible so that I wouldn’t have to talk to them and interact with them. I didn’t want to do anything because nothing was fun or enjoyable and I knew it would just be a waste of time for me.

Supporting Yourself While Depressed

Over the course of my experiences with depression I’ve discovered several things that were helpful in dealing with the symptoms. This is of course just my list based on my personal experience and not a substitute for professional medical advice. There, you have a disclaimer.

Identify the cause. I think this is the most important step because it can help understand and make sense of what is happening to you. For me I knew that I had been pushing myself way too hard and that several things did work out the way that I expected to them to. Add this all up and it is a ton of stress to deal with. I also knew that my testosterone was off because I went to a doctor and had it tested. Overall I’ve found that knowing my life was very stressful in seminary (especially the final 2-3 years) along with being able to point to a biologically identifiable marker such as imbalanced hormones really took a lot of the unknown out of it for me. As a result my depression wasn’t some mysterious thing that came out of the blue, but something with identifiable and correctable causes. I think that knowing this really brought me a lot of peace about the situation.

See a doctor and a therapist. You need help to get through depression. A doctor can provide the help you need physically and prescribe the correct medication to get you feeling better. A therapist can help you work through all the emotions and feelings you are experiencing. You really need this combination of care and not just one or the other. Depression might be physical in origin, but it affects you emotionally and spiritually also, so you need to make sure you take care of yourself in all of these areas.

Eat and supplement correctly. This is something that I think might not get enough attention when it comes to treating depression. To be sure I don’t think you can cure depression with a healthy diet and supplements alone, but I do think they can be a tremendous help. You can exercise your Google muscles and find out what a healthy diet is if you don’t know, so I won’t get into that here. What I will get into here though are the supplements that I found to helpful during my bouts with depression:

  • Probiotics. I found the Garden of Life brand worked the best for me, but RenewLife worked pretty well also. I started taking them because I noticed my bowel movements were, shall we say, unpleasant and runny. I also felt like I hadn’t eaten even though I was eating regularly. I took this in the morning before breakfast and then had a Greek yogurt for lunch which had more probiotics in it. I’ve been able to drop the supplement since starting Clomid, but I still eat the Greek yogurt for lunch.
  • Creatine. This is primarily used by athletes, but I found it was helpful during depression also. One of the problems I had was feeling physically weak, and creatine basically is supposed to make you stronger (that’s the overly simplified version anyway), so I figured I would try it to see if it would work. It did. From my understanding it is actually a pretty safe supplement and can be used for several months at least. It might not work for you, but it is worth a shot I think. Since starting Clomid though I’ve been able to stop taking this as well.
  • Multivitamin, B-Complex, Fish Oil. I took all these to make sure that I was getting all the nutrients I needed and to help with stress. Nothing special about these, but make sure you are getting quality versions of them. I found Nature Made vitamins work pretty well personally.
  • Magnesium. I’ve found Magnesium to be helpful with energy. Even though I generally eat foods that have magnesium in them I found a supplement in addition to them to be helpful. There has been some speculation that there is a link between magnesium deficiency and depression, so I decided to try it and see if it would work for me. It did. I took it at lunch separate from my multi, B-complex, and fish oil supplements because calcium can apparently interfere with its absorption.

I found these supplements helped tremendously during my depression. They didn’t make me feel “normal” or anything, but they at least made me functional so that I could get out of the house and do at least a few things. It really took Clomid for me to start feeling better and closer to normal. I still take the multivitamin, b-complex, fish oil, and magnesium supplements though because I do weightlifting 4x a week find them to be beneficial while expending so much energy.

Treat yo’ self. This is last on my list, but I think it is the most important. When you are dealing with depression you need to take care of yourself first and not worry about others. So do what makes you happy. I like video games, so I played a lot of video games. Other people might like painting, or walking, or photography, or any number of other things. I found that the way to counter all the negative thoughts and feelings I was having was to have fun so I could start having happy and positive thoughts and feelings. It didn’t happen overnight, and it hasn’t eliminated all the negative thoughts, but at least now the good and pleasant thoughts are outweighing the negative thoughts.

Supporting Someone Who is Depressed

Depression is not only hard on the person experiencing it, but also on those who are close to them.  Here is one list of things to do. And here is another. Here is mine:

Recognize that they can’t just ‘get over it’ or ‘snap out of it.’ The tough-love approach will not work. Depression is not simply a mental state. It is a mental state caused by a chemical imbalance. It requires medication and professional medical care. Exercise might help a little, it did for me, but it didn’t cure my depression. There is nothing a depressed person can do about their state and trying to ‘motivate’ them out of it will only be harmful.

Recognize that what you are seeing is not who that person really is. When you are depressed you think all sorts of crazy things about all sorts of people and situations that are most likely highly inaccurate. In my experience I found that I was unable to view a situation accurately from a wholistic perspective, but instead generally misinterpreted people’s body language, words, and actions to mean that they didn’t like me. I wanted to think otherwise, but I just wasn’t capable. Little things that would ordinarily go unnoticed by me, or at least not bother me, really got under my skin and irritated me.

Learn about depression and the signs of suicide. The more you understand about depression and its effects the better the position you are in to be able to empathize with someone who is dealing with it. I was never suicidal in my depression, but I certainly understand why some do arrive at that place; you are just so absolutely miserable that you do not want to live.

Try small gestures. Depression isn’t just a lack of motivation or desire for career or life ambitions, it’s a lack of desire to do anything, including basic hygiene, cooking, cleaning, etc. A small gesture such as a meal, or cleaning their rooms, or even a haircut could go a long way and tell that person that they are still loved and not forgotten about.

Be patient. It takes time to get out of depression and it takes time to heal from the effects. I have found that even though the feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness are gone the experience and thoughts surrounding them still remain floating around in my heading just waiting to be triggered by some event and come flooding back in. So just be patient with them and let them take their time.

End the Stigma

For some reason there seems to be some sort of stigma surrounding depression and discussing it, and this needs to end. Essentially depression is due to an organ malfunction, and that organ is your brain. There is no stigma surrounding heart failure, or liver failure, or kidney failure, but for some reason when your brain is malfunctioning no one wants to talk about it or knows what to do about it. So hopefully this post will contribute in some small way to ending this stigma and educating people about depression.


When Failure Isn’t Your Fault Part 2: Why I Still Have Faith

In my previous post I related some of the feelings and frustrations related to not having achieved any version of “success” in my life. In this post I will continue that discussion into how my faith has been affected by those failures.

I think the largest and most significant emotion that I have felt during the past 2 years has been betrayal. Some of this betrayal has come from others, but their betrayal doesn’t really bother me a whole lot anymore. What bothers me a whole lot more is feeling betrayed by God. I can handle people betraying me. It doesn’t feel good, but I can handle it. But what do you do when it seems like God has betrayed you? What do you do when you believe in an all-sovereign God who loves you and wants the best for you, but in reality your life feels like nothing more than a series of crushed hopes and dreams?

I don’t believe that anything that happened to me during seminary was beyond God’s ability to prevent or redeem. From my health issues to the actions of others to whatever. All of it was within His power to prevent. And if He wasn’t willing to prevent it I believe it was within His power to redeem and use for good. Well it has been 1 year since I graduated and 2 years since everything started crashing and burning for me and I’m still waiting for this entire mess to be redeemed. I’m still waiting for the smallest semblance of “success.” Still waiting to not feel ashamed about my lack of accomplishment in my life. To not feel ashamed about being 33 (almost 34) and living with my parents. To not be in an area that feels suffocating to me and seems to hold no future (like seriously, I do not like SWFL). To not feel like I wasted 6 good years of my life and a hefty chunk of change on an endeavor that so far has turned out to be mostly a waste of both time and money.

So why go on believing? Why not just curse God and die? Well, because everything I’ve described so far are just feelings and I do not believe that feelings determine reality. Just because you feel like God has abandoned you doesn’t mean that He has. One of the more useful experiences I had in seminary was being chronically exhausted. I was able to experience just how much different reality felt when I was I exhausted compared to when I was well rested. I learned and experience just how fickle feelings are and how quickly they can change from one moment to the next.

God is not a feeling for me. God is a reality for me. Just because I feel like God has abandoned me doesn’t mean that He has. Reality is independent of our feelings. Furthermore, Jesus Himself, literally God incarnate, also felt the same way:

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Matthew 27.46 (quoting Psalm 22.1; also cited in Mark 15.34)

For me it is a comfort to read these words. To know that Jesus felt abandoned by God, and that I as a follower of Christ feel the same way tells me that I am doing something right. It tells me that what I need to do is endure and persevere. If God can redeem someone from death then He is certainly capable of redeeming my situation also. But waiting for that redemption is hard. Very hard.

When Failure Is Not Your Fault

It seems popular these days to advise people that if they fail it is all their fault and that they need to take ownership of their failure and learn and grow from it. While I think this is certainly the case most of the time, as Captain Picard reminds us above, it is not the only scenario for failure. Sometimes we do everything correct and we still fail. Or sometimes the circumstances of our situation are such that no matter what we do we will never succeed. Perhaps we are aware of these circumstances, but perhaps we are not. It doesn’t really matter in the end because we will not be able to overcome them.

I believe that it is better for failure to be your fault rather than to fail because success was impossible. If your failure was because of something you did or didn’t do, then that means success was likely within your control. You can analyze and reflect on your failure, correct your mistakes, and succeed (or at least improve) the next time. It might not feel good to admit that you failed, but long term it is better to have failed and learned and grown from it.

It is far worse though, I think, to fail simply because the circumstances would not allow you to succeed. To be sure you can still reflect on such failures and learn what you could have done better. But knowing that success was ultimately impossible and that there was nothing that you could do to change that is a different kind of hurt. It’s a hurt that leaves you feeling helpless and hopeless. Whatever things you might realize in hindsight that you could have done better are overshadowed by the feelings of despondency that come with realizing success was never an option.

I feel like my life has been a series of this 2nd type of failure. I feel that even though I have reflected on and learned what I could have done better or improved, that ultimately success was impossible.

Now before I go any further, allow me to explain what “success” in life is for me. At different points in my life I have had different versions of success. At one point success for me was having a family and being wealthy enough so that money wasn’t a limiting factor in pursuing opportunities. Then as time progressed I stopped caring about wealth and just wanted sufficient income to support my family. Then some more time passed and I stopped caring about having kids. Then still more time passed I stopped caring about having a wife. Now I am at the point where for me success is simply being able to support myself and move out of my parent’s house. While the devolution of my vision of success is likely significant it really doesn’t matter for the purposes of this article because at no point in my life have I achieved any of these versions. And furthermore, being able to support myself is a fundamental requirement for all these versions anyway.

So is it possible for someone to try for 15 years and not even achieve the most basic level of success of any version of success he has ever had? Oh yes. It is quite possible.

I graduated High School in 2004. I decided that I wanted to do computer network management, so I enrolled in a program for training in that. I graduated that program with an Associate’s at the end of 2007. Oh yes. Do you remember what happened in 2008? I do. I remember quite well. It was The Recession. Now Florida, where I was living at the time, was one of the hardest hit states by The Recession. In fact we were competing with California and Michigan for the highest unemployment rate. Not exactly something that you want to win. So the economy that I graduated into was one of the worst in U.S. history. And as you might expect I wasn’t able to really even get this career off the ground because there were literally no jobs around, not even in the tech industry in my area.

So with my first attempt at success having failed because of something I could do nothing about I figured I would get a Bachelor’s degree. The only job I had found was at a call center, which I hated but it was money, and since I was considering seminary and needed a Bachelor’s for that anyway I figured it was a good next move. So I enrolled in a web development program at a local University. Unfortunately that program ended up being completely worthless, but between grants and scholarships I didn’t spend any money on tuition there anyway. Not to mention that it really failed to instill any passion for web development in me because it made the practice so convoluted and unclear.

So having failed a 2nd time because of a University’s terrible curriculum I decided to make a 3rd attempt at success. After all, 3rd time’s a charm right?

No. No it isn’t.

Initially I was very excited to have been accepted to DTS. At this point I am 8 years or so out of high school and I still have yet to really start a career due to so many things going wrong. So when I got in it felt like something finally went right and I was for once excited and optimistic about the future. In hindsight though it seems I only got in so that I could fail again. Some of you are aware of the many health related issues that I dealt in seminary (if not they are documented on this site elsewhere) and how no matter what I tried or did I simply could not get things under control. Ultimately these issues cost me most, if not every, opportunity I had post-seminary.

So now I feel like I have failed a 3rd time for reasons that I ultimately had no control over.

And now I am just tired. Tired of failing for reasons I can’t control. And quite honestly I don’t feel like trying anymore. Even when I do get the motivation and the energy to start working towards “success” again it isn’t long before the ghost of past failures shows up and starts whispering to me, “this attempt will also end in failure and there is nothing you can do to change that outcome.”

Now I don’t think that my situation is typical, but I think it does happen. And maybe someone reading this is in a similar situation and needs to know that sometimes failure isn’t your fault. Sometimes the circumstances of your situation are such that you were never going to succeed no matter what you did. Unfortunately though I have no advice or “solution” for when you when run out of motivation and just want to give up. All I can say is that I am right there with you. But if you figure something out, please let me know.

Seminary: Looking Back

Note: This is post is really therapy for me. It’s something that I need to write and say before it starts eating away at me.My time in seminary is coming to an end. As I look back over the 6 years I’ve spent earning this degree I’m not sure how to describe them. Would I describe them as good? Well that depends how you define good. If you mean “pleasant,” then my answer would be a resounding NO. I don’t think I’ll ever find myself looking back on these years and think, “Man, that was so much fun, I wish I had the opportunity to do it over again. Sure there were some tough times, but overall it was an enjoyable experience.”

However, I wouldn’t describe them as bad either; I did finish after all. No I think I would describe them as somewhere in between good and bad, if such a middle ground exists. This verse is a good description I think:

The LORD has disciplined me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.
— Ps 118:18

The imagery in Psalm 118 is the psalmist being surrounded by many nations, and even though he was almost was defeated God saved him from them; even though he was disciplined severely God did not allow him to be killed by them.

I’d say seminary for me has been a battle similar to the one the psalmist describes. I felt I was constantly fighting the whole time and every time I tried to gain the upper hand whatever move I did was immediately countered. It was unreal. And also very frustrating. I survived, so it wasn’t bad, but it definitely wasn’t good constantly being under a perfectly evil combination of low testosterone and chronic stress for 3 years.

Or perhaps it would be better to describe it with a little metaphor…

One day I embarked on a journey in a boat. I didn’t know where I was headed exactly, but I was certain that God had led me to that boat and wanted me to get on it. So I got on it. At first everything was going smoothly. The skies were clear. The sea was calm. Everything looked good. But after a short while a storm came along. Not unexpected. For as long of a journey that I was on storms were to be expected.

However, this storm never left. It stayed and kept raging and raging and never let up. As the boat was tossed by the storm I watched as one by one my hopes, dreams, and expectations were thrown overboard and drowned in the dark, watery, chaotic abyss below. Then despair begins to take hold of me. I begin to wonder if I am the next thing to be tossed overboard. Sometimes I begin to hope that I am next. What good is my life without dreams? Without expectations? Without hopes?

Then finally the storm begins to break. I look around and find that some of my hopes and dreams are still on board! Not everything is lost! I begin to recover some optimism. But it is quickly dashed because before the storm clears completely it smashes the ship into a reef. Now whatever little did remain of my hopes and dreams is lost, gone and drowned in the sea forever. Despair regains its grip on me and I begin to consider just giving up and drowning. But I am able to break out of its hold long enough to notice that there is land a swimmable distance away. So I grab a life jacket and start swimming for shore.

When I get to shore I find cliffs there. So I find a cleft and sit there and wait for the storm to pass. At some point while waiting for the storm to blow over I pass out. When I wake up I find the storm gone. The sun is shining. The Gulls are calling. I can smell the salty sea air. For the first time in I don’t know how long things are calm and pleasant.

I begin to walk along the beach to see if I can find anyone. Eventually I see a man sitting by a fire cooking something. He sees me and says to me, “Come over and eat.” But I don’t go over. I freeze. I know who he is. He’s not a man. He’s the God-man. It’s Jesus. I feel the adrenaline start coursing through my veins. I feel the anger start rising in me. I think to myself: “Oh, I’ll come over there alright. I’ll come over there and beat you with that frying pan.”

Before I am able to move though something — or someone, perhaps the Spirit, perhaps my own reasoning, some combination of the two, I don’t know — says to me, “Is this attitude of yours good? You are weak and need food and he has it. Go and eat.” As I begin to consider this statement I only get more angry — or perhaps I get angry in a different sort of way — because I know it’s true. My dreams weren’t the only the thing to get tossed overboard in the storm; my food went also. I had somehow by some miracle managed to save the water, but the food was lost. I don’t remember when I ate last because I lost track of time in the storm; when you don’t see the sun or moon or stars the days all blend into one another.

As I continue standing I feel the anger subside a bit and I grudgingly drag my feet over to the fire and sit down and eat. I don’t say anything. There’s no point. He already knows and I’ve already said it a million times before. So I just sit. And wait. I still feel the anger, but it is not as great as it once was. So I just sit and wait.

And that’s what my experience in seminary has been like.

4 Years of Seminary: The Struggle is Real – Ministry Calling

We now depart the fields of gloom that were the previous 2 posts in this series for sunnier pastures…although be sure to check them out: Part 1, Part 2.

There were a lot of factors that influenced me to attend seminary, but I ultimately decided to go because I felt that was where God was telling me to go. However God didn’t call me here just so I could learn a bunch of things and inflate my ego. He called me here to form me for ministry.

However discerning specifically where He is calling me has been quite difficult, particularly with my health issues of the last 2 years.

When I moved out here I didn’t really have a clear sense of what I wanted to do ministry wise, and 4 years later I’m still essentially in the same place. I’m an academically gifted and inclined person; I don’t struggle to learn new things and I love to do so. So in keeping with this trait I was initially inclined towards academic ministry. However I don’t really want to do the work of a scholar which involves “increasing knowledge” because then learning just seems like an end in itself to me. I like learning things because I believe the deeper and broader your knowledge the better you can guide people spiritually, which inclines me towards pastoral ministry. However pastoral ministry involves working closely with people which is an area that I personally do not have a lot of experience and confidence in. 

Gifting and inclinations however are only part of the equation when it comes to discerning ministry calling; you also need to discover what you are passionate about. Really what this means is to discover what it is that excites you, keeps you up at night, makes you jump out of bed in the morning, and what you will suffer and endure trials and hardships in the pursuit of. This doesn’t have to be in traditional areas of ministry such as missions, pastoring, teaching, etc, it could also be in the marketplace. So if you are passionate about business for example, running one in a Christlike manner (e.g. sustainable workloads so you don’t burn your employees out, investing in and developing people, etc) is just as much a ministry as preaching from the pulpit on Sunday morning, and just as needed, if you have the passion for it. Or if you’re just an employee at a company doing your job with integrity and treating people fairly and respectfully is also ministry.

At this point I don’t really have an answer to the second part of this equation. On the one hand the reason I have an IT undergrad degree is because I actually do like computers and all the related technologies; I haven’t lost interest in the IT field. On the other hand though the reason I am pursuing a theology degree is because my faith is actually so important to me that I consider it worth it to invest thousands of dollars in learning to understand it better and to use that better understanding for the spiritual benefit of others.  I believe that I have the skills to do either one (though at this point I would need retraining to do IT work again) and could be happy doing either one (mainly because they’re not mutually exclusive options).

I suppose though if you feel burned out like I do (yes my condition has improved from depressed to burned out) it’s hard to be passionate about anything. Many of the people I’ve talked to who did enter full time ministry did so because they couldn’t see themselves being happy doing anything else, and this point I can’t say that in regards to anything.

So I’ve decided to prioritize recovering from my burnout and then seeing where I’m at once I’m back to normal and being honest and okay with where I’m at then. I did come to seminary after all to be formed for ministry, and that happens both inside and outside the classroom. I believe that the struggles of the past 2 years are certainly playing a role in that formation, but what role and the effects of it remain to be seen.

If you know me personally and have any comments or feedback on this feel free to e-mail me, Facebook me, or leave a comment. If you don’t have an e-mail for me you can use

The Chaos of English

When you study other languages you inevitably learn a thing or two about your own native language. One of the things that has come to light this semester is just how irregular English is in its pronunciation. So I share the following poem with you to highlight just that:

Gerard Nolst Trenité – The Chaos (1922) 

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
   I will teach you in my verse
   Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
   Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;
   Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
   Just compare heart, hear and heard,
   Dies and diet, lord and word.

Sword and sward, retain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it’s written).
   Made has not the sound of bade,
   Saysaid, paypaid, laid but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
   But be careful how you speak,
   Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak ,

Previous, precious, fuchsia, via
Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
   Woven, oven, how and low,
   Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.

Say, expecting fraud and trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,
   Branch, ranch, measles, topsails, aisles,
   Missiles, similes, reviles.

Wholly, holly, signal, signing,
Same, examining, but mining,
   Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
   Solar, mica, war and far.

From “desire”: desirableadmirable from “admire”,
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier,
   Topsham, brougham, renown, but known,
   Knowledge, done, lone, gone, none, tone,

One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel.
   Gertrude, German, wind and wind,
   Beau, kind, kindred, queue, mankind,

Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, Reading, heathen, heather.
   This phonetic labyrinth
   Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.

Have you ever yet endeavoured
To pronounce revered and severed,
   Demon, lemon, ghoul, foul, soul,
   Peter, petrol and patrol?

Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
   Blood and flood are not like food,
   Nor is mould like should and would.

Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which exactly rhymes with khaki.
   Discount, viscount, load and broad,
   Toward, to forward, to reward,

Ricocheted and crocheting, croquet?
Right! Your pronunciation’s OK.
   Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
   Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Is your r correct in higher?
Keats asserts it rhymes Thalia.
   Hugh, but hug, and hood, but hoot,
   Buoyant, minute, but minute.

Say abscission with precision,
Now: position and transition;
   Would it tally with my rhyme
   If I mentioned paradigm?

Twopence, threepence, tease are easy,
But cease, crease, grease and greasy?
   Cornice, nice, valise, revise,
   Rabies, but lullabies.

Of such puzzling words as nauseous,
Rhyming well with cautious, tortious,
   You’ll envelop lists, I hope,
   In a linen envelope.

Would you like some more? You’ll have it!
Affidavit, David, davit.
   To abjure, to perjure. Sheik
   Does not sound like Czech but ache.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, loch, moustache, eleven.
   We say hallowed, but allowed,
   People, leopard, towed but vowed.

Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover.
   Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
   Chalice, but police and lice,

Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
   Petal, penal, and canal,
   Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal,

Suit, suite, ruin. Circuit, conduit
Rhyme with “shirk it” and “beyond it”,
   But it is not hard to tell
   Why it’s pall, mall, but Pall Mall.

Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion,
   Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
   Senator, spectator, mayor,

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
Has the a of drachm and hammer.
   Pussy, hussy and possess,
   Desert, but desert, address.

Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants
Hoist in lieu of flags left pennants.
   Courier, courtier, tomb, bomb, comb,
   Cow, but Cowper, some and home.

Solder, soldier! Blood is thicker“,
Quoth he, “than liqueur or liquor“,
   Making, it is sad but true,
   In bravado, much ado.

Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
   Pilot, pivot, gaunt, but aunt,
   Font, front, wont, want, grand and grant.

Arsenic, specific, scenic,
Relic, rhetoric, hygienic.
   Gooseberry, goose, and close, but close,
   Paradise, rise, rose, and dose.

Say inveigh, neigh, but inveigle,
Make the latter rhyme with eagle.
   Mind! Meandering but mean,
   Valentine and magazine.

And I bet you, dear, a penny,
You say mani-(fold) like many,
   Which is wrong. Say rapier, pier,
   Tier (one who ties), but tier.

Arch, archangel; pray, does erring
Rhyme with herring or with stirring?
   Prison, bison, treasure trove,
   Treason, hover, cover, cove,

Perseverance, severance. Ribald
Rhymes (but piebald doesn’t) with nibbled.
   Phaeton, paean, gnat, ghat, gnaw,
   Lien, psychic, shone, bone, pshaw.

Don’t be down, my own, but rough it,
And distinguish buffet, buffet;
   Brood, stood, roof, rook, school, wool, boon,
   Worcester, Boleyn, to impugn.

Say in sounds correct and sterling
Hearse, hear, hearken, year and yearling.
   Evil, devil, mezzotint,
   Mind the z! (A gentle hint.)

Now you need not pay attention
To such sounds as I don’t mention,
   Sounds like pores, pause, pours and paws,
   Rhyming with the pronoun yours;

Nor are proper names included,
Though I often heard, as you did,
   Funny rhymes to unicorn,
   Yes, you know them, Vaughan and Strachan.

No, my maiden, coy and comely,
I don’t want to speak of Cholmondeley.
   No. Yet Froude compared with proud
   Is no better than McLeod.

But mind trivial and vial,
Tripod, menial, denial,
   Troll and trolley, realm and ream,
   Schedule, mischief, schism, and scheme.

Argil, gill, Argyll, gill. Surely
May be made to rhyme with Raleigh,
   But you’re not supposed to say
   Piquet rhymes with sobriquet.

Had this invalid invalid
Worthless documents? How pallid,
   How uncouth he, couchant, looked,
   When for Portsmouth I had booked!

Zeus, Thebes, Thales, Aphrodite,
Paramour, enamoured, flighty,
   Episodes, antipodes,
   Acquiesce, and obsequies.

Please don’t monkey with the geyser,
Don’t peel ‘taters with my razor,
   Rather say in accents pure:
   Nature, stature and mature.

Pious, impious, limb, climb, glumly,
Worsted, worsted, crumbly, dumbly,
   Conquer, conquest, vase, phase, fan,
   Wan, sedan and artisan.

The th will surely trouble you
More than r, ch or w.
   Say then these phonetic gems:
   Thomas, thyme, Theresa, Thames.

Thompson, Chatham, Waltham, Streatham,
There are more but I forget ’em
   Wait! I’ve got it: Anthony,
   Lighten your anxiety.

The archaic word albeit
Does not rhyme with eight-you see it;
   With and forthwith, one has voice,
   One has not, you make your choice.

Shoes, goes, does *. Now first say: finger;
Then say: singer, ginger, linger.
   Real, zeal, mauve, gauze and gauge,
   Marriage, foliage, mirage, age,

Hero, heron, query, very,
Parry, tarry fury, bury,
   Dost, lost, post, and doth, cloth, loth,
   Job, Job, blossom, bosom, oath.

Faugh, oppugnant, keen oppugners,
Bowing, bowing, banjo-tuners
   Holm you know, but noes, canoes,
   Puisne, truism, use, to use?

Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual,
   Seat, sweat, chaste, caste, Leigh, eight, height,
   Put, nut, granite, and unite.

Reefer does not rhyme with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
   Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,
   Hint, pint, senate, but sedate.

Gaelic, Arabic, pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific;
   Tour, but our, dour, succour, four,
   Gas, alas, and Arkansas.

Say manoeuvre, yacht and vomit,
Next omit, which differs from it
   Bona fide, alibi
   Gyrate, dowry and awry.

Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
   Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
   Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion,
   Rally with ally; yea, ye,
   Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay!

Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.
   Never guess-it is not safe,
   We say calves, valves, half, but Ralf.

Starry, granary, canary,
Crevice, but device, and eyrie,
   Face, but preface, then grimace,
   Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.

Bass, large, target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, oust, joust, and scour, but scourging;
   Ear, but earn; and ere and tear
   Do not rhyme with here but heir.

Mind the o of off and often
Which may be pronounced as orphan,
   With the sound of saw and sauce;
   Also soft, lost, cloth and cross.

Pudding, puddle, putting. Putting?
Yes: at golf it rhymes with shutting.
   Respite, spite, consent, resent.
   Liable, but Parliament.

Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,
   Monkey, donkey, clerk and jerk,
   Asp, grasp, wasp, demesne, cork, work.

A of valour, vapid vapour,
S of news (compare newspaper),
   G of gibbet, gibbon, gist,
   I of antichrist and grist,

Differ like diverse and divers,
Rivers, strivers, shivers, fivers.
   Once, but nonce, toll, doll, but roll,
   Polish, Polish, poll and poll.

Pronunciation-think of Psyche!-
Is a paling, stout and spiky.
   Won’t it make you lose your wits
   Writing groats and saying “grits”?

It’s a dark abyss or tunnel
Strewn with stones like rowlock, gunwale,
   Islington, and Isle of Wight,
   Housewife, verdict and indict.

Don’t you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?
   Finally, which rhymes with enough,
   Though, through, bough, cough, hough, sough, tough??

Hiccough has the sound of sup
My advice is: GIVE IT UP!


Weekly Picks 7/28/15


I’m a gamer. In fact games were one of the main things that got me interested in computers in the first place. The games ran on computers, and the better and faster my computer ran the better my gaming experience was. So I learned about computers and how they work so that I could make my system run better. And while I’ve departed from this career path [long story] I’m still a gamer at heart and think I always will be. So I was excited when I came across this ‘Gamer Motivation Survey’ somewhat based on the MBTI. Below are my results.


The two biggest are Action and Social. Action means a tendency to enjoy games that are fast paced and let me blow things up and just cause general mayhem and destruction. Social means games that let you play either against or with other players. I usually don’t pay much attention to story lines or character back stories. My full profile is here.

This seems to be quite accurate to me based on my experience with games. The two games I have enjoyed the most are World of Warcraft [WoW] and Halo. Halo is a shooter and the action is fast paced and the later titles in the series allowed for online play either with or against other players. WoW is slower paced when compared with Halo, but when playing against other players the pace is quite fast and requires quick reaction times to succeed. Perhaps not surprisingly I greatly enjoyed playing a scorch mage during my trek to High Warlord in vanilla WoW, a spec which allowed me to blow people up very quickly and required quick reactions to play well.

You can take the survey here.


The idea in this song I think is pretty obvious so I won’t elaborate on it much. Basically it’s the idea that as a society we have become slaves to whatever corporations and various media outlets tell us is right. We have bought into their ideas as to what constitutes a fulfilled and do what they tell us to do in order to be happy. Lyrics are below the video.

Free drugs, Cheap sex
Fake tans, Big breasts
High times, Pimped rides
Lost days to blackout nights

I need this, I need that
I’m not complete with what I have
If I do this, If I buy that
I’ll get mine, I’ll get mine

I want, I want, I want…

Empty me, empty nation
Emptied us of inspiration
Bastard sons and broken daughters
All bow down to our corporate father

In my iLife, In my iWorld
On my iPhone, With my iGirl
Just one bite to understand
Even Eve couldn’t live without the iPlan


Do this, Buy that
Get my drugs and sex
More drugs, Want sex, Need sex

MTV, MTnation
MTus of inspiration
Bastard sons and broken daughters
All bow down to our corporate father

Theology is taking a break this week, so that it’s for now.

Sorry for the absence

Sorry for my absence of late. The semester has started and has kept me busy and left me with no time to write any posts. I am getting caught up though and will hopefully have time to write a new one for the beginning of next week.

Experience: The Forgotten Tool of Mind Renewal

In my search for a church home one of the branches of Christianity that I have explored is the Eastern Orthodox. One of the benefits of my exploration of this tradition is that it has given me some much needed perspective on my own approach to Christianity as a Western Christian. In the West the basic approach to Christianity seems to be:

  1. Define doctrinal and theological positions.
  2. Live the Christian life (prayer, fasting, Bible reading, other spiritual disciplines, missions, etc…) with those whose doctrinal and theological positions are compatible with yours.

In the East the basic approach seems to be:

  1. Live the Christian life (prayer, fasting, Bible reading, other spiritual disciplines, missions, etc…).
  2. Define doctrinal and theological positions if necessary for living the Christian life, otherwise don’t bother.

Note these are just intended to be rough outlines, not exhaustive definitions.

Each approach has drawbacks and each approach also has benefits. For the West we are generally adept and defining and defending the doctrines of the Christian faith, but sometimes these definitions lead to us to break fellowship with our fellow Christians over non-essential doctrinal issues (e.g. the order of end time events); some doctrinal issues though are essential enough to break fellowship over (e.g. the Trinity, or the full deity and humanity of Jesus to name a few). However the Western approach doesn’t necessarily lead to the breaking of fellowship over non-essential issues.

The Eastern approach has the advantage of creating an atmosphere in which one can live and experience the Christian life with other Christians without being divided over non-essential doctrinal issues. However this approach can leave someone unable to clearly define and defend the Christian faith in the pluralistic religious culture of our day. The Eastern approach does not necessarily lead to this however as there are certainly Eastern Christians capable of adeptly defending the Christian faith in the modern world.

A favorite verse of Western Christians to justify our academic approach to Christianity is Romans 12:2,

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

(Romans 12:2 ESV)

However, if we are going to truly renew our minds and be transformed we must also make sure that we pull ourselves away from our books and live the Christian life. We need to cultivate a lifestyle of prayer and fasting. We need to put into practice and live the doctrine and theology that we devote so much of our energy and time to defining, defending, and articulating. Unless we actually live and practice the faith that we are so zealous to intellectually defend we will soon find ourselves no longer defending it. This is because Christianity demands to be lived, not defined. It is necessary for us to live a life of prayer and fellowship with the Holy Spirit because what we are defending is not a philosophical system, but a way of life.

Academic study is certainly an important ingredient for mind renewal, but the key ingredient to mind renewal is the daily experience of prayer, of fellowship (with other Christians and the Holy Spirit), of experiencing the daily provision and care of God in our lives, of the Christian life. If either of these ingredients is not given enough attention transformation will not happen. Either Christianity will become an academic exercise devoid of any saving (referring to either justification or sanctification) benefit, or it will become so ill defined that one will not be able to discern between what is of God and what is from man or demons.

As a Western Christian I believe that I am guilty of neglecting the experiential ingredient of transformation. I have devoted too much of my time and resources to the intellectual defense of the faith (and this defense is certainly necessary) and not enough to living the faith I am defending. I believe that ideally the academic and experiential aspects of Christianity should be equal in emphasis. If the balance shifts to either side problems arise. This balance must be maintained in order for my mind to truly be renewed and for transformation to happen.