The Barren Ground

Wanderer, ooh stranger,

For what, why were you rushing hither

As though the Holy Grail may be unveiled here?

Ooh Wonder, has not been seen about,

Since we were forgot and drowned in drought

Since the moon was new and the night went dark

The stars seem so far away,

You tell me, traveller, what you seek to see

In this barren place?

If you enjoyed this poem, Read more from The Barren Ground.

The Value of Feminine Beauty

Why would anyone mistreat a woman?

Women are people. Each of them have their own unique talents and dreams and are far more than their mere looks on a given day. Even so, I believe it ought to be impossible to mistreat a woman simply on account of her natural beauty. The concepts of beauty and abuse simply do not go together.

What is beauty? Everyone has an instinct to recognize it, though defining what it is is not so simple. There can be a tendency in some to have a reductionist view of feminine beauty from a merely sexualized perspective, as though it does not have value in itself but only in reference to some male sexual drive to find females of their species. But is a woman’s attractiveness merely a result of animal attraction?

In some communities, there is a temptation to take the perspective that the way a woman dresses will “tempt men to lust.” I remember my mother asking me whether a girl she noticed in a halter top at my college had negatively affected my male psyche! In all frankness, I barely noticed her, and it was not that she was not beautiful. For all I cared, she might as well have been a radical nudist, and short of inquiring whether she was drunk and needed assistance, I would not have thought very long about it. It might have had something to do with the fact that I was trying to not be late for class, or that I had a crush on someone else. Ironically, my crush happened to never wear such “revealing” clothing, not that it would have mattered at all. What makes a woman valuable is so much more than how little or how much skin she happens to be showing. It seems to me that an encounter with a human woman affects a human man in a far more holistic fashion than that…

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For Naught

Some have a nihilistic approach to life, almost as though they seem to think that life is meant to be depressing. If one would attempt to have a conversation with them, they would encounter a worldview where most goods in life amount to no more than elements of a zero sum game. Yet this clearly ignores the most basic advantage humankind has at their disposal, their creativity.

It is true that there are challenges that we encounter in life. It is sometimes the people to whom we are closest in our lives that are the ones who have abandoned, misunderstood, or ignored us in our time of need. Yet, even so, there are countless examples of the beautiful creativity of humanity, even in the darkest of times. But are these examples merely luck?

It can seem so. It can seem as though the rich must certainly possess the food of the poor. It can seem as though the gifts, talents, joy, relationships, with which some are blessed are somehow only bestowed to a chosen few. The devastation and the sense of imprisonment that the others feel seems very real, as though they cannot escape their circumstances.

In truth, there is still a sense of hope, though not always perhaps in the way that is expected. Animals are born with all of their gifts, abilities, and wealth, so to speak. Humanity, on the other hand, constantly acquires new abilities and new knowledge, and invents novel skills where the given ones are insufficient. As humans, we have the ability to create great things from the little that we have. Human life, no matter how impoverished, is constantly evolving on an hourly basis….

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Do Men Need Sex?

I have heard it said by Christian pastors such as Jimmy Evans that “Typically, men show affection to receive sex. Women give sex to receive affection. ” Does that sound quite right? While it is symbiotic, it sounds like a contract in an economic trade: cold and self-interested. But is not the warmth and companionship of authentic mutual love the purpose of marriage? That’s what I think, but I am not married, so these questions aren’t simply rhetorical.

Nevertheless, I am a virgin, and a male, so I am not sure I can quite fully comprehend the idea that men “need” sex.

Men and women are different. It is pretty evident that mothers respond to things differently than dads do. The ladies do seem to have a special talent for being a bit more relational than the guys on my campus.

Naturally, men and women will probably have different needs in a marriage. But could it be possible that their unique needs in the marriage are different facets of ultimately the same need? Men need to feel close to their wives as much as wives need to feel close to their husbands. However, to say that “men show affection to receive sex” seems to indicate that sex has some value in itself that supersedes that of their wife’s affection or their relationship. As good as it may be, how would having sex for its own sake ever be more valuable than the inner connection that brought the two together in marriage in the first place? It seems to me, rather, that what would make sex valuable is its nature in being one of many ways to express or symbolize that relationship. 

Furthermore, take the case of celibate marriages, some of which are by choice, and others by physical impairments, such as one spouse having cancer or some other physical ailment. Are husbands unfulfilled in these marriages because they don’t have opportunities to have their sexual drives quelled? Is that the only thing on his mind when the “love of his life” is suffering from whatever is ailing her? 

I don’t believe men need sexual gratification. However, they do need physical expressions of the marital relationship. It seems to me that if any two spouses are acting platonic towards each other they are defeating the purpose of being married. In that case, they are no closer to each other than roommates.

Men do desire connection with their wives. They want to be on the same team. Men don’t just want sex, or else they would not waste their time with the sacrifice and devotion of marriage. 

Men don’t need sex; they need their wives.


California Science

After finding that the outdoor water fountain had been long decommissioned, the disappointed siblings joined the group of young adults and families. In the shade and by the door of one of the buildings they listened to the tour guide from the California Institute of Technology. Despite the drought-inducing heat, he was quite charismatic.

“Welcome to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory!”

As they passed through the doorway, the group felt as though they had entered a science fiction wonderland. Everything they saw was shown to have some comment or intriguing fact to accompany it.

“This is a rendering of the Titan IIIE-Centaur. It flew on the combustion of liquid hydrogen and oxygen which meant that only water vapor was produced. The reusable spacecraft aided the launch of both Voyager 1 and 2, which are presently the furthest man made objects in outer space…”

The little almost-six-year-old was with her much older brother who was considering going to school at Caltech the next year. She seemed to be getting a bit excited.

“Mr. Stewart!”

“… their instruments are very compact and are specialized to take measurements with extreme precision. The cameras could capture a detailed image of an acorn from a mile away…”

“Mr. Stewart!”

“… the generator of either space-probe runs on energy from a radioactive core. This powers the internal components, experimental apparati, and the communications signals across tens of millions of kilometers across space.”

“Mr. Stewart!”

The guide looked around until he finally picked out the young person from the crowd.

“Yes, uh, do you have a question, ma’am?”

“Your spacecraft is so cool!”

“I’m glad you think so, ma’am. It can do a lot of other cool things, too!”

The girl’s eyes suddenly became even brighter.

“Can it help Daddy water the strawberries?”

Environmentalism And Subduing The Earth

The Earth is a beautiful place.

Being in the military, my family has moved quite a few times. On these travels, I have enjoyed looking around and observing the beauty of nature in the states through which we drove. I will never forget the calm and stunning peace of the hills in Wyoming!

One thing I have come to particularly notice in these travels is the distraction of sterile plastic products lying in the grass on the side of the road. When I see them, I am horrified by the fact that these unnatural things will never “disappear”. I presume some chips company will be forever remembered on those monuments that are caught in the brush.

Lately, I have been reminded about related issues. I have learned about the affect mining has on ecosystems,  the effect pollution has on life, and, quite horribly, the effect of an oil spill on the ocean. I have begun to wish things were different and that our surroundings would look free, pure and green again.

In saying this, I sound like an environmentalist. However, I will clearly state that I do not agree with a certain breed of environmentalist. I am speaking of those who allow their nostalgia to drive them to the conclusion that Homo Sapiens is Nature’s worst curse to Planet Earth.

Actually, as a Christian, I do believe those words to a certain degree:

If Adam and Eve did not eat the apple…


However, we must remember that the earth was not entrusted to the trees, or to mountains, or any endangered species. God did not tell the gorillas to subdue the earth; He only said for them to fill it.

It was to Man that He gave this charge. It was Man that must find ways to use and shape Nature’s materials of wood, stone and iron. It was Man that must learn to work with Nature’s seasons through farming. Man was supposed to tend the Garden that God created. He still is given this command.

If sons are taking care of the land owned by their father, and have come to the realization that they have been destroying it, is it right that they should destroy themselves for the health of that land? Rather, they should destroy their bad habits, and improve themselves, that they may take better care of the land.

No, our goal is not to make Man disappear, but to use our gift of intelligence to find those chemicals, systems, and methods that best work in harmony with the natural processes and rhythms of the Earth.

Let’s think positively: we have cut down on air pollution, our tools and vehicles are becoming more fuel efficient, and we are coming up with great biodegradable materials to tap into Earth’s natural method to clean up refuse. We are coming up with many great solutions that help the environment!

Because we are human beings, I think we will find more.

I Talked About Kaepernick, Freespeech, and Men with Melanin

I entered a controversy a couple days ago.

I watched.

I listened.

I read.

Kaepernick chose not to stand.

The basis for the argument of those who support him is two things. First, it is that Blacks and minorities and people of color are not being properly recognized by all as having human dignity. Secondly, it is that in America our God-given right to free speech is protected by the Constitution.

Their reasoning is that Kaepernick’s actions are an act of free speech, so they can not be criticized, and his supporters go as far as to accuse all critics as simply trying to evade the core message.

These are interesting considerations. I firmly believe that the first amendment should  be taken into consideration by more of the population and by those in elected office. I, as a black youth, who was considered disposable by my own dark-skinned father before I was born, also firmly believe that all human beings should be treated with respect no matter how they look, even when they are too small to see.

I also like Kaepernick. Good football is inspirational, as is a good life story.

However, my thoughts went further, and I felt that I should share them with my thoughtful classmates.

Kaepernick’s actions are wrong. Despite his good intentions and aspirations to courage, his actions are actually contradictory, at least depending upon what you understand the American Flag to represent. If the Flag is just the team colors of this insignificant mass of humans, then like both Kaepernick and the historical Confederates, I could take it or leave it, because, frankly, our country has a lot of bad ideas as far as teams go.

If, on the other hand our Flag symbolizes the values that we hold as America and as we define in the Constitution, including Freedom of Speech, then to protest by turning your back on the Flag is, in effect, the same as giving a controversial speech while stepping on the First Amendment. This is probably not the clearest way to communicate.

Interestingly, my good friends understood my argument, even those who were still in disagreement. It is nice when one can share their ideas with others. Yes, not everyone may fully agree about everything, but knowing that ideas have been fully communicated is sometimes good enough.

To Have a Father

   Sons should “look again at”  their fathers. This is the etymology of respect, as my dad helped me explain to my soccer coach.

When my family was dropping my dad off at the airport for his deployment, I, what the world would call a stepson, felt I had much to consider. Was I going to represent him well as the eldest son while he was gone? Would I reflect his integrity and responsibility? Would he be pleased with me when he returned, or perhaps, if he returned?

While I thought these things, with many doubts in mind, I admired a young man who was being dropped off by his parents. He was good looking. His father looked like he was in the wise ages of the late forties, and seemed to have been born in India or somewhere in the middle east. I admire those from other cultures because it seems as though they value well the concept of fatherhood. This father seemed very proud of his son, to the point of becoming almost like a child himself in his manner.

As I relate this, I am reminded of times I have seen how families full of teenaged sons marched out of Sunday Mass with the stature of princes following their proud and accomplished patriarch. Could I stand that tall and walk with such a confident and powerful gate?

This son of this proud father seemed quite confident in his existence as son. I witnessed the father walk several feet between the security line and the check-in line, where there was a bowl of candy, to specially select one such sweet and offer it to his son.

However, after a few minutes, with confusion I witnessed the son spit it out into a trashcan. There were no angry looks afterwards, though perhaps slightly sad ones, but evidently, he was telling his parents he did not like the taste.

This scandalized my whole train of thought. Could someone so blessed take such son-ship for granted? I have seen throughout my life instances where sons were not blessed this way.

One such example spent much of his days in sedentary play of video games, and was at home all day because he had dropped out of school. Although his single mother seemed worn and thin, he had weight on him like his father whom I had once seen from a distance. His speech was slurred and unclear, and for his supposed fitness walks, he wore moccasin fur boots. Sadly, none of the strength of manhood was being adequately instilled in him.

I think that it is very important that sons do not squander the gift of a good man in their life. While I still can, I want to emulate the man who has done so much in saving me from a half-fatherless life that, frankly, would have probably led to jail. He is truly a great man, and it would be the greatest compliment to me if he would see his stature in my own sons. That would make me proud.


Photo by Iuliia Boiun on Unsplash

An Aspiration

When I look at the stars, I find it stunning and perhaps startling, that while in our galaxy alone there may be thousands of star systems with exoplanets to explore, There are many, many more galaxies speckling the universe with each its own stars and planets. I see a vast world, like the depths of the ocean, waiting to be dived into.

I have neither the wings of a Cherubim nor am I yet ready or able to withstand such a sublime journey. In the meantime, therefore, I would like to construct and launch a space probe. It would be an extension of my eyes and hands that right now can only barely reach ten feet from the surface of the earth. Using it, I would also like to test new innovations that could revolutionize human space travel. If I but found the time somewhere in my life, this is surely what I would do.

But this is when I stop and reflect, asking myself a poignant question: if I had the time and resources to pursue such an endeavor, would it not be better to pursue service to the poor? As I pass a glance at the television, the saddening image of a child so grievously wounded somewhere on the other side of the world catches my eye and my mind. Do I let it touch my heart? Perhaps. But nonetheless, the two images, the one of heaven, the other of earth, seem to stand as mutually exclusive cares in my heart.

One night, I read from a blog called The MoralMindField and written by  a certain Brian Green. He tells the story of a time when he visited a family on an island who lived in a little tin roofed shack. They, after verifying through him that men had actually been to the moon, and upon hearing that they came back to earth, said that “men should return to the moon again”. His take on this encounter is that these scientific achievements inspire mankind as a whole, including the poor, and may be even a source of hope for them.


So, even the suffering gaze up there, searchingly, longingly. However, I still wonder if it ever brings the questions “What does it mean that God exists?”, or,  “Does he remain out of reach?”

It is quite the contrary, for we are His Hands. I would like to begin an organization in which it will not be merely me, but the poor, the disabled, and the orphaned who will take part in building a spacecraft. Space exploration would not be an occasion of neglect but an opportunity for unity and inspiration, and a reminder of the value of existence. At a time when, for some, little more than the brutal gravity of Man’s suffering seems to exist, it would be a boon to be able to tell the world that, “Truly, someone has flown into the very depths of Heaven.”