The Festival of the Bestowment of the Head Node

And lo, it was on that day that the son of eagles did consider of his openMosix cluster, and took from it the best, the head node, and did present it as a sacrifice unto lord Bob. For, in that dark time, the lord Bob had but one device of computing, yet for the troubleshooting of the network Pong program he did require another. With no thought to his own recompense, the faithful Nate did offer up his head node and his offering was pleasing unto Bob. And thus, with the head node in his right hand, the lord Bob slew therewith the requirements of his graduation. Let all celebrate on this day that Nate has performed a worthy service to the realm. It shall forever live in our memories. Let it be so.

Week of Bestowment Announcement

Citizens, I know you are all quite anxious to begin your enjoyment of this most holy and blessed week of Nate month, but I feel that the events of last year must be addressed. While the idea to dress a manatee in a cape and fly him around the city using a construction crane was certainly in the spirit of Nate month, the clean-up costs were quite substantial. Also, there has been a suggestion that parts of the activity may have violated workplace safety regulations. While I would never urge restraint during such a festive occasion, I must ask you to consider whether any parts of your celebration could violate local ordinances, and, if so, to delay those activities until the last day of Nate month to avoid interfering with official proceedings. Thank you for your attention.

Arbitrary Punishment

Last week I read a very interesting article. I know you probably don’t have the time or inclination to read it, so here’s a quick summary: A young man from Denver, Colorado was arrested and jailed for armed robbery. After ten years in prison, he comes home a changed man. He starts a family, finds a good job, and becomes involved in his community. After five years of freedom, he is told that his release was a mistake, and he is re-arrested and carried back to prison, where he is to remain for at least the next forty years.

The article raises many interesting questions for me. It highlights the dangers of overly broad applications of existing laws. It shows how handing out punishment without discretion can be good politics but cause terrible pain. It begs the question of whether harsh sentencing actually creates worse criminals. Would it be better to give shorter sentences, or at least early parole possibilities to younger offenders, so that they can have the chance to use their prison time to prepare for a better life? Could showing grace to criminals cause some of them to change their ways? However, one thing has really haunted me.

At the very end of the article the imprisoned man is being interviewed at the jail. He says that the reason why he’s back in prison is because he failed God while on the outside. He gives a few examples, which include coaching a soccer team some Sundays instead of attending church services, not praying often enough, and not studying the Bible regularly. I feel for him. For most of my life I viewed every setback as a sign that I was failing God in some way. It was easy enough, whenever things went wrong in my life, to find an instance of my own moral failings in the not-so-distant past.

Over the past few years, though, I’ve begun to question that viewpoint. It’s not that I think sin doesn’t matter. Rather, I think sin is its own punishment. I hope that someone in that prison can tell this man that cutting him off from his family and community is not God’s method of encouraging greater faithfulness. The fact is that we live in a broken and decaying world, filled with the fruit of mankind’s evil. Bad things happen to the faithful. Sometimes, it seems like they suffer more.

If suffering from evil deepen our relationship with the one who rescued us, that is a wonderful thing, but we shouldn’t think that was the intention. We have an enemy who wants to destroy us, mind, body, and soul, and we have a savior who wants to restore his entire creation. Sometimes we make progress toward that goal, and manifest his kingdom on earth. Other times the world attacks and destroys something beautiful. Either way, we press on, not because we fear God’s whip on our backs, but because we long for the day when all the world will see him face to face.

The Perfect Garden

A man decided that he would make the best garden there had ever been. He bought a beautiful plot of land on the top a mountain, with picturesque views in every direction. He brought in truckloads of the finest black mulch and laid it out in perfectly straight rows. He gathered the most expensive seeds he could find, and carefully hand-painted intricate designs on each of the shells. He set each seed on its own white pedestal with a bronze nameplate and a large glossy picture of the fruit it could grow. Finally, he built walls and a ceiling over his garden to keep it safe from the weather. It was an amazing thing to behold, and he spent many hours admiring it.

The man visited his perfect garden every day, observing his seeds carefully. If he noticed any seed starting to crack, he would throw it out and replace it with another. No imperfection was allowed in his garden.  As the weeks passed, the thrill of his new garden began to wear off, and his visits became less frequent. They became weekly, then monthly, and eventually yearly, though at each visit he was sure to rid his garden of any seeds that had cracked or had odd green or brown things growing on them.

One night a terrific storm rocked the mountain. The wind shook the walls of the garden and the frame creaked. A massive gust ripped the roof from its place and sent it spiraling into the valley. Pounding rain poured into the garden for the first time, turning the carefully planned rows of black mulch into a sea of mud. Winds whipped through the garden, knocking the beautifully painted seeds from their white pedestals. They sunk into the watery mess. The perfect garden was ruined.

After the storm had moved on, the sun rose over the remains of the perfect garden. As the weeks passed, green sprouts began to appear in the black soil. Eventually the man returned to see his perfect garden, but he found a shocking sight. The beautiful order he had spent so long creating was gone, and in its place, plants of every variety filled the damaged garden.