Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wally and the Raid

If you like this story, here are the first two Wally stories: The Scandinavian Club, Wally and the Athiest.

"Wally! Trouble!"

Gabe panted as he ran up.

Wally, Tom, Robert and Sarah were eating lunch in the cafeteria. Gabe made five.

"What?" Wally said.

Gabe took a few deep breaths.

"I was walking down the hall behind Steve and Collen coming out of class ... the teacher kinda made me stay a bit late ... but anyway, I heard them say they're going to raid us tomorrow!"

"What do you mean, 'raid us'?" Wally said.

"I mean raid! Get us suspended!" Gabe said. "You know how we ..." He stopped, looked at a nearby table, then lowered his voice. "You know how we pray after lunch on Fridays over near the fence? Well, Steve found out about it and told the rest of the Athiest Club, and they reported it to Ms. Stoneman and Collen said they're going to raid us - the principal and Ms. Stoneman and the school rent-a-cop are going to raid us, I mean, and I think the members of the Athiest Club are going to come along to make fun of us. At least that's what Collen said."

The group was quiet for a moment, then Sarah said, "I guess we should call off our prayer meeting tomorrow."

"Hmmm," said Wally.

"I think the Atheist Club is mad at us for what we did to Dimkins a while ago," Robert said.

"Ha! they've always been mad at us," Sarah said.

"Yeah!" Gabe said. "I think they're mad. I heard Steve say something about getting back at us."

"Shhh! Quieter," said Wally, then asked, "Gabe, did Steve or Collen see you?"

"No, I'm positive. They never looked back at all."

"Okay," Wally said. "Don't bring a pocket Bible or wear a cross or anything else Christian tomorrow, and we won't do any praying then, but maybe we should still have our meeting ..."

Robert's face lit up. "You got an idea, Wally?"

"I think so..." Wally said, looking at the ceiling. "But we're going to have to move fast... Let's see, Don't Steve and Collen always wait for Ryan out front near the flagpole after school?"

"You mean Ryan Gilford, president of the Atheist Club?" Gabe asked.


"Yeah," Gabe said. "I see them every day."

"Good, good..." said Wally.

After school the five walked quickly from their classes. Gabe had been on his best behavior and was free to leave class on time. A friend greeted Robert in the hall, but Robert just waved, kept walking, and called out that they'd talk later. The team needed to be in position on time.

Sarah and Tom stationed themselves at the corner of the hallway, chatting, but Sarah watched the front door over Tom's shoulder. Wally hid just around the corner near them.

Meanwhile, Robert and Gabe loitered out front, talking near the flagpole, close to Steve and Collen.

Then Sarah pushed her glasses up against her forehead. It was the signal. Ryan was coming!

Wally saw Sarah's signal and walked around the corner, waved at Sarah, and headed toward the front door.

There in front of him, approaching from the other side, was Ryan.

They met at the door.

"Hey Ryan!" Wally said.

"What do you want?" Ryan said, walking out the door.

"Hey! Have you heard of the ontological argument for God's existance?"

"Yes," Ryan said, stopping near the front steps and looking at him. "And it's gotta be one of the worst in your bag of tricks."

"Really? Why do you think so?"


Gabe, seeing that Steve and Collen hadn't noticed Ryan and Wally talking, said to Robert in a loud voice, "Hey, there's Wally talking to Ryan. I wonder what they're saying. Maybe Ryan's about to get converted."

Steve and Collen looked up and saw Ryan talking.

"More likely Ryan's going to DE-convert Wally," Collen said, looking over at Gabe.

They watched Ryan talking and Wally nodding his head thoughtfully.


"Well," Wally said, when Ryan finished speaking. "I actually think there is more to the ontological argument than that, but I gotta go right now. But thank you for your observations. I really appreciate it," he said, briefly laying a friendly hand on Ryan's shoulder and smiling at him.

Wally headed for the sidewalk and Robert said, with a smirk towards Steve and Collen, "Hey, let's go see if Wally converted him."

"Nice work," Wally said later, lying on the grass with his feet up on a park bench as the others drank sodas. "Now for part two. Let's hope they play their part." He closed his eyes and felt the sun.


They sat in a circle during lunch break the next day, off to the edge of the school grounds, on the grass near the fence. Heads bowed.

All except Sarah, who occasionally lifted her head a bit and glanced back towards the buildings.

"Nothing yet," she said. "Oh, wait! Yup, here they come!"

"How many?" Wally asked.

Sarah raised her head slightly once again, as if she were bowing up and down in prayer.

"Looks like ... about 12 or 13.... Mr. Andrews, Ms. Stoneman, that chubby security guard... plus Ryan and the gang."

"Woo hoo!" Wally whispered. "We're going to catch us a principal, too. Let us know when they're about 25 feet away, Sarah."

"Okay... 5-4-3-2-1, Now!" she said.

"Hi Mr. Andrews and Ms. Stoneman," Wally called out, waving, then standing up and approaching them. "Have some cake!" he said, holding out a couple slices of cake on paper plates.

Mr. Andrews and Ms. Stoneman, the security guard and all the athiests stopped and looked confused.

"It's chocolate!" Wally explained, when they hesitated. "We made it especially for the Athiest Club, Mr. Andrews, but you guys can have some, too!"

Robert and Tom and Sarah brought cake to the others.

Gabe dropped back and began filming. He'd get this on line in a few hours.

"Look at the cake," Wally said, pointing to the unsliced portion. "It says, 'Welcome Athiest Club' on it. We've got some lemonade, too, if you want some."

Ms. Stoneman, who had been marching side by side with Mr. Andrews, had discretely dropped back a few steps. This seemed to be a matter in which the principal should take the lead. The security guard was a step behind her. He glanced repeatedly down at his cake.

The athiests held back even further. Steve, behind the others, quietly took a bite of cake.

"Wally..." Mr. Andrews said, holding the cake uncertainly.

"Wally, we saw you guys praying out here just a few minutes ago."

"Praying?" Wally looked baffled. "Oh!" he said after a second, as enlightenment hit him. "No, no! We were just huddled around cutting the cake and trying to keep it hidden so it'd be a surprise. Did we surprise you, Mr. Andrews?"

"Uh... Wally, I think you were praying."

"Oh no, sir! It was just a nice surprise for the athiests, sir."

Mr. Andrews sighed, glanced down at his cake for a moment, then looked up.

"But how did you know the Athiest Club was going to be here?" Mr. Andrews asked.

Wally put on a gentle, saintly smile, pressed his hands together and looked at the sky. "Well, sir," he began, "I heard a voice - a very quiet voice - that told me ..."

"Wait!" said Mr. Andrews. "This does not appear to be a topic we can safely discuss at school."

"Yes, sir," said Wally, looking contrite.

"Would you like some lemonade with the cake, sir?"

Mr. Andrews sighed and looked down at his cake for a moment.

"Yes, Wally, I think that would be nice."


As they walked home, Tom chuckled. "Did you guys hear what Collen said when they were walking away?" he asked.

"What?" Gabe said.

"Well, he was all sarcastic and said to Ryan, 'Gee, I sure wonder where Wally could have heard that we were coming out here to get them busted? Tell us again, Ryan, about how Wally wanted to talk to you about the ontological argument. Yeah, right. The ontological argument. That is sooo easy to believe.'"

"And then Ryan yelled that it was the truth and then it kinda went back and forth like this: 'You BLEEEP moron! You BLEEP! You're the BLEEP! You're a BLEEPING BLEEP!' It was pretty entertaining."

Wally smiled and sighed. "Yeah... Ya know the only bad part about the whole thing?"


"I didn't get any chocolate cake."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Four Web Utilities

I've recently developed four new super-specialized Web utilities for about six people out there in the big world:

CountDuplicates.com - Enter a list of lines and it will tell you how many times each line appears in the list.

FilterLines.com - Enter a list of lines and it will remove any lines except those containing the word or phrase you enter; or it will keep only lines containing the word or phrase you enter.

RandomizeList.com - Enter an ordered list of lines and it will scramble the list.

DeDupeList.com - Enter a list of lines and it will remove duplicate lines.

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Two Mountains

I've been reading some books about painting (a hobby of mine) and ran across a description of how to paint mountains.

Basically the book said that mountains up close have clear colors and shapes and that the colors get duller and the shapes less distinct with distance.

This sent my mind off in a totally unrelated direction.

It seemed to me that if you stood on Mt. Alpha and looked around you, everything would be pretty clear. Trees, rocks, streams, annoyed grizzly bears, and so forth. But if you lift your eyes and look far off across the wide valley toward Mt. Omega, it would look faded and indistinct.

However, if you drove the 47.5 miles across the valley and then hiked up Mt. Omega, then it would be wonderfully clear. Bears, gold mines, cliffs, trees and ticks would all be obvious. But then, if you look back at Mt. Alpha, you would find that it has become fuzzy and indistinct.

And this seemed to me to be a parable of how we Christians need to think about such doctrines as the Sovereignty of God and Free Will.

If you consider just the sovereignty of God, everything is quite clear. God is in charge of everything and that's that. But, then, if you glance up from Mt. Sovereignty and look over at Mt. Free Will, Mt. Free Will is hazy and difficult to understand. How can people have a free will if God is in charge of everything?

But then, if you drive over to Mt. Free Will, it looks pretty clear. People have a free will and they can make real decisions. But then if you look back at Mt. Sovereignty then it becomes indistinct. How can God really be in charge if humans have a free will?

Both mountains are completely real. You can climb each one and examine it in microscopic detail, but if you look at one from the other, the one you are not standing on is indistinct.

As humans, we don't have a God's-eye view. We can't clearly see both at the same time, as God can. But we can see them one at a time, and we can trust that though we may not be able to understand them both together, God can.