An Invitation Back to Faith

I’m writing to those who, like me, would have called themselves Christian as a child but who left aside that faith in the teenage or college years.

My aim will be to show that the reasons—the doubts, the discoveries, the emotions—that led you to set aside faith as you came of age were, although probably reasonable, not ultimately correct. You will see in what I’m about to argue that the reasons that persuaded you then should not persuade you now; that in fact the intellectual insights that moved you away from faith as you came of age were tainted with a kind of naivety, and that the more sophisticated reasoning and greater experience available to a more mature adult not only warrants a return to faith, but compels it.

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In Praise of Modern Board Games

How would you like to discover an activity that will:

  • Board Gamesentertain you and your family for hours each week?
  • pull your kids off of the “screens”—TV, iPad, computer, and phones?
  • create “face time” in your family, with all of you looking across a table at each other, talking, discussing, and laughing?
  • build your kids’ brain power, their social skills, and even their ability to plan and make wise decisions?

Would you be surprised if I said that the lowly board game is the lost ticket to this kind of engagement and fun?

I am selling nothing in this post (truly!). But I believe so strongly in the modern board game, and am so convinced that playing more games will be of such benefit to modern families, that I can’t remain silently any longer. I have to tell you why you need to play a modern board game tonight.

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Keep Taking Steps Forward

In the last couple of posts I’ve talked about a programmer’s greatest enemy: getting stuck. I talked about the various levels of how stuck you can get, from getting stuck while trudging through documentation to getting stuck because you don’t have the resources—passwords, files—that you need to perform a task.

This leads me to my ultimate advice for how to avoid getting stuck and how to get unstuck.

The secret to getting and staying unstuck is to keeping taking steps forward. Simple as that sounds, it is more difficult than it seems, and many programmers never master it.

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Four Kinds of Stuck

A programmer’s worst enemy is getting stuck. Getting stuck on a problem hurts your productivity. Worse than that, it hurts your joy, your confidence, and your soul. Therefore learning how to avoid getting stuck, how to recognize when you’re stuck, and how to get unstuck is a key skill in the quest of becoming a great programmer.

One of the things that helps me both to avoid getting stuck and to get out of being stuck is understanding the different kinds of stuck.

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A Programmer’s Greatest Enemy

A programmer’s greatest enemy is getting stuck. A crucial skill in programming—and one that many of my beginning game programming students lack—is the ability to recognize when they’re stuck, to get out of being stuck, and to avoid getting stuck in the first place.

Indeed, it’s a skill I’m still learning myself, although the contexts in which I still get stuck are shrinking with time, study, and experience.

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Hymns to the Kite God

When I was eleven I saw the film The Dark Crystal. My mother took me on a Friday during the Christmas holidays. I had looked forward to it for months. I saw it and loved it.

The Sleep of Reason by GoyaThe movie haunted my thoughts all the next day—the long-legged striders, the magic, the music. I went back two days later with a friend.

When I came out the second time something had changed inside me. As we rode home in the car my friend chattered away, but I barked at him and leaned my head on the window and felt something dying in my heart. We didn’t play anymore after that.

I lay on my bed until nightfall, gritting my teeth against a pain I couldn’t describe. One by one, my sisters, mother, and father came in and asked me what was wrong. I tried to put words to feelings deeper than words.

The world disappointed me. I wanted a new world, full of excitement and power and possibility. My father pointed out that our world had wonder and adventure of its own—knights and Indians and canyons and caves. I felt sick as he said it. These wonders were too small, too mundane. Is this all the world had to offer? My family left me alone. I writhed away the night.

Something new moved in that day. I didn’t know what to call it; I still don’t. Was it depression? Depression is too gentle a word. The other day I heard a girl say she felt depressed about her shoes. No, this thing wasn’t depression. This was a dark and ancient god moving into my ribcage, playing with me like a cat plays with a mouse, making a kite from my skin and tendons and bones and flying me from the bottom of the sea.

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Glahn’s Law

Some years ago I took a course in journalism from Kindred Spirit editor Sandi Glahn. On the first day of class she established, to the shock and horror of the students, a rule I’ll refer to as Glahn’s Law. It’s simple.

Glahn’s Law: No Be Verbs

In all our writing for class we were permitted two “be” verbs per page. Any more than that and we lost—oh, I don’t remember—a finger or something.

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