I confess Christ. Do you put the sword to my neck and ask me to deny Him? No, you don't. You only ask to be left alone, for me to respect your beliefs and way of life without the oppressive, intolerant suggestion of my own. Today, however, I must respectfully refuse that request. I say respectfully because I do not force you to continue reading. But I hope you do.
Earlier this morning, I prayed to God in the name of Christ to save my life. Now, several hours later, I'm writing to you in the hope that you will be even an inch closer to repeating my prayer. Not long after my request, I spoke to a fellow laborer about the end of the world and realized that the uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach was the response to my prayer. Would you like a translation? Here it is: Share.
Evangelist John R. W. Stott wrote that "we are debtors to the world, even though we are not apostles. If the gospel has come to us (which it has), we have no liberty to keep it to ourselves. Nobody can claim a monopoly of the gospel. Good news is for sharing." It's an extrapolation of Romans 1:14, which reads, "I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise" (KJV).
Stott called the shared knowledge of Christians good news, but I can understand the resistance unbelievers might feel toward that term. 'You're trying to tell me good news? What's with all this you're-going-to-burn-in-Hell stuff, then?' I don't believe in Hell, though, and give no credit to it. I believe in Heaven. Everyone will die, and the meaning of death is nonexistence. If Hell is death, then it, too, is nonexistence. The good news is that it's possible, with Christ, to fight death and win. Thus, Christianity is about a possible and awesome reward, not the coercive threat of a punishment.
I don't mean to get theological on you, so I'll leave the above paragraph at that and move on. I did want to put it out there, though.
I'm not perfect. I've made mistakes and have probably broken every commandment, including murder. (Keep in mind that Christ warned us that the commandments go deeper than their surface meanings, so that causeless anger and lust can be considered murder and adultery.) I have even feared for my life. My eternal life, that is. I don't want to lose it.
Which is why you're reading this blog. My prayer for salvation, a renewed request directed at the Almighty Savior, led me to recognize the need to share with you all my beliefs. I'm generally the kind of person who recognizes that most people don't want to be bothered with religion and that some of the most influential witnessing occurs when people simply interact, in a Christlike manner, with people instead of trying to shove doctrine and fear down their throats. But I also feel, at times, that sometimes you just have to say something. You have to make a public declaration. Earlier today was one of those times. And this is my declaration. I declare Christ. And I declare, with all honesty, that I want to see you in Heaven.
And I want to be there myself. When I recognized what I was feeling this morning, I also recognized that I'm still on the path. I may mess up sometimes, and I apologize if you see me misrepresenting my Savior. But He's still there for me, and despite the uneasy feeling (the need to speak out) of earlier today, I felt joy at knowing that God still had assignments for me. I have been feeling, lately, inadequate, and maybe this blog will be inadequate to convict anyone of the truth, but it's an assignment, and I'm proud to serve my God with it.
If you follow the way, then I don't have to ask you to pray for me. If you don't follow the truth, then I need to pray for you. And when we all follow the life, we can pray for each other.
Cars are expensive. I don't even know how much it's worth to bother having them. I used to think living in a city would be the worst, but I think if I could live in a place that had decent public transportation and that I could simply rent a car whenever I wanted to take a vacation or visit family a few states away, it would be better than dealing with the cost of having cars. Let's take a look.
A quick Google search gave me an estimate of about $28,400 for the average price of a new car bought in the United States. Let's couple that with the average gross income: $42,000. Given a standard 40-hour workweek and 52 weeks in a year, the standard person probably works close to 2,080 hours a year. Let's subtract 120 because of time off, vacation, etc., spanning about three weeks. That's 1,960 hours, meaning that each hour spent working earns the standard American $21.43 per hour. That's pretty close to what I would have guessed without Googling standards, so I feel assured that it's a good estimate.
Given that number, the standard American needs to work 1,325 and a quarter hours in order to earn enough to pay for that car. That is 67% of the annual earnings. Of course, the car lasts more than a year, but people have a tendency to continue buying things that take longer than a year to pay off. It all adds up. You know what else adds up? Gas.
Another quick Google search showed the average miles driven by any one person or vehicle to be about 15,000. That's the number used on fueleconomy.gov to compare fuel savings between vehicles. Another estimate I saw on the first page of results was 12,000, so for the sake of being conservative, let's use that number. The average fuel economy of US cars was, five years ago, about 19 miles a gallon. Automakers have upped that number of course, so I'll bump that number up to about 25. It's probably a very liberal bump. So the average car will go use about 480 gallons of gas each year. Multiply that by about three bucks and you're spending $1,440 on gas each year you own that car.
You know what else you spend on that car? Necessary maintenance and repairs. If you're doing what you should, you'll get oil changes four times a year, for a total of about $100 if you do it yourself. Add tires every once in a while (another $300-400), brakes (maybe $100), and the likelihood of having something else happen (add an emergency budget of maybe $500). You won't spend all that every year, but every few years you will have to put in another investment to keep your car going safely.
Oh, and did we forget insurance and registration? Approximately $100 a month, if you're lucky, and you're spending an extra $1,200 a year. And that's a very low price. But Google tells me the average is more like $1800.
All told, you're looking at about $32,600 in one year on a car. Of course, each year you own the car divides $28,400 of that cost into another way (the second year divides it in two, the third year in three, and so on). However, each year also adds gas, insurance, registration, and service/maintenance.
Google results are actually giving me varying opinions on how long people keep the same car, but the range is from four to 17 years. I can't believe 17 years myself, and a lot of the answers are around five or seven. We'll go with seven. Which means you get to spend quite a bit less on that car per year (28,400 divided by 7 is 4,057), but add approximately $29,400 to that cost over the total of seven years. That's seven multiplied by $4,200, which is the difference between $32,600 and $28,400.
In case you didn't realize, the indirect cost of the car over the course of its time under one owner is enough to buy another car again. That's kind of crazy and rather sobering on its own. Which means that, okay, you spread the direct cost of the car, $28,400, over a period of seven years, but you've doubled its total cost, meaning that you're effectively paying for the car in the equivalent of three and a half years. The price over three-point-five years is $8,114 per year, meaning 378 hours of the year spending working toward paying off the car. That's slightly more than 19% of your work time. Effectively a fifth. That means when you clock in at work at nine o'clock in the morning, every minute you spend until 10:36 is spent working toward your car. Or from the end of your lunch break at one until 2:36. Or from 3:24 until you clock out at five. Doesn't matter which 96 minutes you pick. Just pick 96 minutes of your workday and think to yourself during that time, "Right now, I'm earning my car."
Did I mention interest? People don't go to a car dealer and drop down $28,400 for a new car. No. They get auto loans. They get to have interest added to their bill at the average rate of about 5% continually compounded over five years. A loan calculator tells me that this adds about $3,756 to the cost of the car because of interest.
Once you realize the enormity of this, and then realize that cars are only one of many high-price items that can be broken down this way, then you will realize how impossible and misleading the American dream is. And you might just realize how the system has already won. You are its slave, and there is almost no way out. You lose.
Note: Yes. Many people do not buy new cars. But if you're buying a used car, you probably aren't any better off, comparatively, than the person who can "afford" to purchase one straight off the assembly line. And you don't very often keep used cars for as long as new ones. Also, do you make $21.43 an hour? I didn't think so.
I checked my course survey results today. I sort of wish I hadn't. The following are exerpts.
"I expected to learn something more, but I defiantly did not."
I believe the same student also wrote:
"Some graduate students are sufficient teachers, but Mr. Urias is not one of them. Classes are useless and his monotone voice puts all students to sleep. Even when we had meetings with him, his feedback was never insightful and I felt like I've never learned in this class."
and, in response to asking if anything needs to be changed:
"For one, our teacher needs to be audited."
That was for the morning section. A few people had slightly critical things to say (such as desiring a bit more harsh criticism rather than compliments), but as far as heart-stabbing words, this student had the monopoly.
Now for the noon-straddling section:
"Most of the time it was difficult to understand things he was saying like when he explained how he wanted everyone to do an assignment."
I really didn't think it was that hard. I often asked them if they wanted clarification, and sometimes they asked and sometimes they didn't. I guess that's the problem with open-ended assignments, such as, "Write an argument about any subject you care about except X, Y, and Z. Make sure to address your opponents concerns and to choose a side rather than only comparing options."
"He should try to make a real agenda. I feel like he was quite lax and so he took the easy road when it came to teaching us. Sometimes he forgot what he assigned us the day before and that is unacceptable when it happens over and over again."
This one hit me kind of hard because I know that I do take the "easy road" because teachers have to streamline things in order to actually get things done. I don't know, however, about forgetting all these assignments. I didn't give them many assignments except journal entries and other do-it-for-your-own-benefit assignments. And those don't require collecting or anything. The rest were essays, and I didn't forget about those. The word "unacceptable" is also kind of painful in this context.
"the instructor is different. i think he is more of a student teacher than a teacher. like a substitute. idk thats just my opinion."
This one is somewhat concerning but actually makes me laugh a bit.
"I did not really enjoy this class because I found no real structure to each lesson. most of the time we would write something, get together with our groups and critique each other and then that was it for the day. I don't feel like I actually learned a lot."
There were exceptions to this, but I agree.
"I didn't learn anything from this course and now I'm afriad of what's going to happen to me in my sophomore english class."
Hmmmmm. I don't know.
"i was disappointed, this was my only class that never started with prayer. only one day were texts given and that was an odd way to use them."
Weird. I had plenty of prayerless classes. And now for one of the worst ones:
"I feel like I wasted my time and my money. All we did was free write (journal) and write essays, on which he didn't give us very good feedback to help us grow. I'd rather take the course again next semester but not as a joke because this class surely was one."
I think that I'll be okay. It was just a bit of a shock.
Ashley and I were shopping at a store. She couldn't find what she wanted until a cashier dude came by and, I guess having heard her say something about the sizes, said to her, Oh, we have that one in more sizes. So she went with him to the register and, just like with movie rental stores, he grabbed the item in her size from a drawer. During the transaction I took a few last moments to look for something for me to wear. I didn't find anything, and when I looked up, Ashley was gone.
The man told me which direction she went. (This part of the store, or this store itself, was at the corner sort of. There were two directions, diagonally, to go, left or right.) I went right, and found her. I called out, "Brittany!" She didn't respond. Then I realized that that was my sister's name, so I called Ashley but she didn't respond. I think she went into the bathroom. And I tried to look and wait for her, but it wasn't working, and I started to panic. It was like she had disappeared.
In my dream I was also working on my project papers. But instead of project papers, they were weird reports. The one for Dr. Jones Gray and Dr. Pittman included a section on dairy. So I was trying to write that. I was trying to do some research, but I was also trying to get some firsthand knowledge from this store hotel megaplex thing in the dream, where I had lost Ashley. It was huge and we sort of lived there.
The strangest part of the dream was when I was actually in a mostly-recognizable place: the English Department. I was sitting at the Table, and perhaps the department itself was a slightly different size or shape, but the Table was there, and Dr. Closser's office was where it should be. It'd very odd for me to have dreams in real places.
As I worked, at the Table, on my project papers, Dr. Closser was talking to me. He said a lot of things and showed me a lot of things, including a bunch of gifts he had made for various people for the holidays. He gave me a bag and said it was my family's gift. Sure enough, there were six cups, each with a name on it. Four of them were for my parents, I guess, as a sign of respect for elders or something. The other two were for Ashley and me. I drank mine there. It was beer Dr. Closser had brewed himself.
Later in the dream I realized I hadn't brought the rest of the gift home so I had to do that. Also, I needed to take a shower (at the hotel store megaplex thing) and I went back to my room to get a towel, and I realized that I hadn't been there a couple of days because of some (adventure? assignment? day trip?) reason. I stepped on a towel or something and thought how amazingly soft it was, prompting me to think, What have I been doing that a towel seems like the most luxurious thing in the world?