Church: It's Been a Long Time, Old Friend...

I’ve been to church thrice in the last year. Once last September because I had high hopes about finding a church in my post-Colorado life that was liberal enough for me…I was disappointed. Once as a big group thing the day after a family wedding. Once with my Mom because it was her birthday.

I went to church last Sunday, for me, and I loved it. Now now ok, before any of you (who know me and my falling out with church) start cheering about how the prodigal son has found humility and returned to what is all objectively right and good, this is a different kind of church. It’s a church that actually exhibits what I have, for some time now (including the time I have been away from church), envisioned a church could be (as it relates to my personal theological struggles). I found this church through a series of blogs and websites associated with the Emergent Village, a movement that I have been following for several years now and truly love what they are doing. Anyway, I found this church not long after I moved to Chicago (fall ’07) and have meant to visit, but for some reason never got around to going until last weekend.

I must say that I am very weary of small church communities, or “house churches,” or whatever you’d like to call them, because throughout my experience with those who’ve fallen out of traditional church settings, I often see these communities form because people are tired of church programming or hierarchical leadership or doctrinal statements or maybe just the sheer volume of people in many churches. I fully respect this, and have been there myself at times. But often what I have envisioned when being around these communities is that the group would do something new, not on a functional, pragmatic, or communal level, but on a theological level. It never seems to be the case, though. It usually ends up being a different setting where the same evangelical theology is propagated. If this is you, please understand that I am not criticizing such communities for what they are, do, or believe (not in this post, anyway), I’m only illustrating how I find this to often be the case, when for a long time I personally have sought out something very different.

This is a church here in Chicago on the north edge of Wicker Park, a very artsy and mixed neighborhood. During the rest of the week the church space functions as an art gallery and hosts a number of community events, such as film showings, Yoga, and so on. It just so happened that the night I decided to finally go, they were having a “where we come from, where we’re headed” sort of night. The pastor had a slide show showing the beginnings of the church and how they got started, their goals and what they work toward and so on. I wish I could have gotten a print-out of the slide show because there were many things that I thought pretty great, but I lacked that always suspiciously absent pen-paper duo at the time. But here are some things that I do recall…and greatly admired about the church. You may find them interesting if you’re curious about where I’m at these days

The LGBT Community – working for gay rights and inclusion both in and outside of the church, subscribing to no such theology that excludes the LGBT community from the church, on an organizational, social, or theological level.

Social Justice, Sustainability, Building Community – pretty self explanatory, stuff I would hope even the most conservative of churches out there are already working toward.

Hospitality – Setting aside organizational duties and standards in favor of welcoming (that is, from the outside perspective) those in the surrounding community.

Understanding Faith and Theology as Dynamic – Seeing the Bible as sacred and full of wisdom, but also understanding that it must be examined in context, not sitting around in a circle and talking about what we feel like it means. Those of you that know me well know that I’ve been stressing this for years now.

Focus on This Life, not the Afterlife – Believing that what we do with our time here is more important to focus on than what becomes of us afterwards (something else that I’ve been stressing for years). Along with this, there isn’t a focus on evangelism, and to use the words of the pastor herself, the open door of this church is not part of a “bait and switch” scheme, either. It is a community that is rooted in Christian tradition, but is not working toward making everyone a Christian. From what I understood, there is at least one Buddhist and one atheist regularly involved in this community.

And in case you’re wondering, no, these are not copied from the church bulletin or website, I put these values into my own words as I recall them. Of course there is a bunch of other cool stuff, like the fact that they are a community of about thirty or so, they do jazz vespers, and they have a potluck dinner every Sunday after the spiritual gathering time; I was invited to stay and was very welcomed by everyone, even chatted with a couple folks for an hour or so afterwards.

The point of this post is twofold: 1) Trying, yet again, to get into the swing of blogging. I already know that it’s something I really enjoy and is a great way to get my thoughts out there and start some healthy dialogue. Or even if it’s really only just good for me to process thoughts in writing, whether or not others read them. 2) To let some of y’all know where I’m at these days. For a more specific version, look forward to an upcoming post of my current, yet ever-changing, statement of faith. It might surprise some of you out there whom I haven’t had any deep chats with in a few years. I’d like to do it NPR’s “This I Believe” style.

Oh, and I think I’ll be going to church again next week.

Check out Wicker Park Grace.


Truth? Nah, I'm Just Human...

Hey, so I came across something tonight that struck me as simple enough that I could blog about it and still get to bed in time - I'm trying not to pressure myself so much about this thing anymore, maybe that way I'll actually get some blogging done. So here you go...I've managed to post something after all.

So...isn't it great when you've been thinking about a concept or idea for quite some time, perhaps even had conversations with people in which you described this concept, and then find that there's other people out there in the wider community who have also been thinking about such things? I do. Anyway, this happened tonight. I was reading this in a document from soulforce.org, and I love it so much because not only is it one of those ideas, but it uses phraseology and wordage that is shockingly similar to the way I describe it. I guess I'm not really shocked that other people have thought about it, I just haven't heard it directly until now. Anyway, it's a relatively simple concept, but I challenge you guys to chew on it, at least a little.

"Even when we believe the Scriptures are 'infallible' or 'without error,' it’s terribly dangerous to think that our understanding of every biblical text is also without error. We are human. We are fallible. And we can misunderstand and misinterpret these ancient words—with tragic results."



Alright, so I'm going to stop bullshitting myself (and all of you) - I've
decided to pretty much put this blog on hold until further notice. I WILL
get around to this again, but life has just been crazy since...well, for a
while. I still love these subjects and everything and I'm constantly
blogging in my mind all the time, I just can't focus on writing it out and
posting it as much as I'd like to right now. So yeah, swing back around
once in a while and hopefully I'll get rolling again here pretty soon.

Behave yourselves out there, kids.


Bear With Me...

Hey all (that is, if I even have any readers left out there), just wanted to drop a quick note on here. I haven't posted in over two months, and the reason is primarily my most difficult semester of school yet. However, please know that I still have lots on my mind and lots to blog about (and I will). But as for right now I'm just trying to survive the semester and maintain a decent GPA. I have finals in two weeks and after that I hope to revisit and post something (and subsequently more often). So bear with me, folks, I'm still around.

Oh, and I love everyone's comments thus far, keep them coming once I write more stuff, please. And I plan to visit and offer my comments on all of yours as well (again, when time is more abundant).


Q + Tree = Dignity.......What???

I must say, I have yet to succeed in getting into the blog rhythm. Many many a thing interest me in the topic under which I created this blog, but so often the subject, as it comes up, frustrates me too much, fades away too quickly, or I just simply find myself too busy to feel justified in spending my time on typing it for the internet world to see...as if I really cared. Well, I suppose I do care a bit, because I like dialogue and conversation, and I'm told that's what blogging is all about. So maybe for a while I'll attempt to blog about things that I can sum up in few words and then perhaps it won't demotivate me so much from blogging at all. We'll give it a shot...

So this one goes back a few months, but I've never been able to let it go in my mind. I have this scholar friend of mine. He is a thorough Christian thinker with a master's degree in apologetics (Christian apologetics, to be clear). A small handful of you who may read this know who he is; most of you don't. Either way, it doesn't really matter, as he will remain nameless. I used to meet with him once a week for breakfast to talk about Christianity, theology, philosophy, etc. Many of the things that came out of those conversations will make it on to this blog at one point or another; some already have. My point is that I am not mentioning him so that I can attack his character. Rather, I am intrigued and often frustrated by some of the things that he believes and argues and thus, they make for good blogging material. I just wanted to make that clear: this isn't a bash-fest.

Moving on, here's one particular topic we talked about one morning over breakfast. We entered onto the subject of the traditional Christian doctrine of hell. This is a subject that I've spent so many hours thinking about over the years that I would actually just like to say "screw it" and get some of those hours back for more productive purposes. However, the devil himself probably couldn't even make that happen, so we'll just live with it. Here's the conversation. I was asking the following question, which may resemble my personal beliefs to some degree that perhaps not even I am aware of. But more importantly, it was for the purpose of discussion.

(from the human perspective) "Why does a finite amount of sin warrant an infinite amount of punishment?"

The following is his response (verbatim):

Well, a finite crime against an infinite being warrants an infinite amount of punishment.

Now here's my response to that (that unfortunately I did not have at the time). Why on earth would someone think this makes sense? From the viewpoint of a logician, this is absurd. The reason so many people in the western church culture would buy this argument (among many many other reasons, I think) is because is sounds really nice. In fact it sounds very mathematical. However, there is no real logical basis for it. Who says a finite amount of crime against an infinite being warrants an infinite amount of punishment? Why doesn't a finite amount of crime against an infinite being warrant a finite amount of punishment? Why does the punishment reflect the victim rather than the crime, or even the criminal? I'm not trying to rule out anyone's response to this, but I honestly don't think an American court system analogy would do any good here, as I'm not talking about a general consensus of morality. This subject is clearly much bigger and unfortunately, abstract.

Anyway, there's the food for thought. Please understand that I am not trying to spark a debate about the existence, reality, consequence, or doctrine of hell. That subject is way too big for right now and I have no interest in going into it as a whole. So please, any thoughts you may have out there should only relate to the above argument, not the topic at large.

There, so much for keeping it short.



So, what follows is a blog (my very first blog ever) that I posted on MySpace shortly after I opened up a profile back in February ('06). I was thinking about it lately and thought that it might be good to post on here. Ok, so maybe I'm being totally lazy and haven't sat down to write anything original lately, but I'll chalk it up to busyness, final papers, final exams, and perhaps general procrastination. But really, I think the content makes more sense for this blog than for MySpace, and it will give "all my fans" something to read. I've refrained from editing it in any way for antiquity's sake, so know that it was written almost a year ago. I have many updated thoughts on this since I've been studying logic in school, but I'll save any such thoughts to the replies, if they so relate.

I've been thinking for a couple of years now that I will someday write a book entitled "Perspectives." Rest assured this will not be a photo book or have anything to do with the artistic mind. Rather it will be a collection of my frustrations with communication in our world...or America, anyway.

So often we communicate with others (or simply respond to incoming words) with a complete lack of respect for their point of view. I'm not even sure that I can use the phrase "point of view" here because of the enormous amount of use it has endured over the years; and I think we have minimized it to be something much less than we realize, not to mention more complex than it really is. I don't mean to say that we do this intentionally or out of sheer malice. But think about the most basic of arguments or frustrations we have with another and begin to understand your conversational partner's basic outlook on the topic of choice. Odds are that you have been in those same shoes (yet another heavily used phrase). Even right now as I write, I myself must think about such things as what each and every one of these words might mean to you, my reader.

I am so damn sick and tired of arguing. For the most part, I gave this up years ago because I realized that arguing has less and less to do with who's right (that is, if right and wrong have anything to do with the particular argument in the first place) and more and more to do with our pride. I once heard someone say that of our deadly vices (envy, lust, avarice, wrath, sloth, gluttony, and pride), the last is our most deadly. It is, of course, destructive in and of itself, but a failure to recognize any of the others IS pride itself, making IT the root of all evil (not money). This is not to say that I don't still have many arguments with others in my head, but I've managed to suppress them a whole lot better over the years. However, this doesn't do anything to change (for the better) my attitude toward certain people, which is another vital component of communication. So whether or not we make any progress in suppressing our tendencies to argue without care for any party other than our own, it has absolutely no effect on our character, which will in turn shine through in our actions nonetheless, communication not excluded.

I think pride "takes pride" in its ability to infiltrate our network of interpersonal communication. How often do we sit down with another and give a crap how the other person is receiving our words? I can sit and complain about how so and so didn't do the dishes (roommates: this is hypothetical), and I can give them a piece of my mind if I'd like, but without doubt I have done the same. The issue here isn't hypocrisy, it's our ability but lack of tendency to soak in the other person's feelings (as best imagined) in THAT MOMENT and at THAT TIME in THE PRESENT. Because we can always go back and reflect and go "oh, yeah, I was an idiot." However, this whole problem has nothing to do with recognizing our faults either, but recognizing them in the moment that they matter. Am I really willing to consider how my words feel to another before saying them myself? Do I really give a rip about how another person is receiving me in my moment of "wisdom" or do I just want to hear myself talk? And here's one: Am I willing to submit myself to the pain that I'm dishing out, not because I necessarily deserve it, but because I want to be in touch with what I'm giving to someone else so as to not succumb to bitter or revenge-driven wrath but rather a character of merciful justice. What if we thought about this when we developed our justice system? I think we did, with respect to our country, but certainly not in our personal lives.

As an aside, I can't help but wonder if Jesus' forgiveness has less to do with our past sins and maybe a little more to do with our present neglect of others. And not "present" in the sense that "I've been struggling with such and such LATELY," but present in the sense that Jesus is there to redeem your shortcoming in the very moment it is happening.


Logic, Subjectivity, & Persuasion...

We all know the phrase “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” Well, in philosophy, it goes something like “be careful what you study, it just might change your point of view…whether you like it or not.”

This is somewhat of a continuation of the previous post. However, the aspect of atheism that I'd like to dissect here really has nothing to do with atheism at all and more to do with perspective, attitude, and persuasion.

I'm currently taking a class entitled Language, Logic, & Persuasion. (it’s essentially an Intro to Logic course), and I've enjoyed this class immensely thus far. One of the most important things to me in any class is the professor. I like a professor who has a point of view but knows how to effectively teach objectively. It matters not to me what their point of view is (in life or on particular topics), but I like to know what they are because it's interesting and helpful to know where he or she is coming from. The following are some thoughts that I began to put together in my head more clearly via several conversations with a fellow classmate of mine (Joe, if you're out there and you find this blog, I would enjoy your comments).

So in the case of this class my professor is an atheist. I have no problem with this and it's of little consequence to me. I knew this from the start because the professor has his own website with course materials as well as personal stuff and I took the initiative to read his bio at the beginning of the semester. It’s interesting but like I said, in the end I couldn’t care less where a professor is coming from so long as they can, in fact, teach objectively. However, I begin to notice certain things...

One, in presenting and dissecting arguments, he has, on numerous occasions, pointed out some classic Christian and theistic arguments and why they are faulty or at least weak. At first this really doesn't bother me much, mostly because he's right in his analyses and they're often arguments against portions of Christianity that I don't personally subscribe to anyway and I really appreciate learning that. But what I've noticed at this point is that not only is he an atheist, but that he likes to embrace opportunities to "point out" Christianity. Still no problems yet, just interesting observations.

Next, I began to notice that he doesn't seem to have a strong concept of deconstruction and it's mental and psychological effects on the individual. In other words, you can't simply crush a person's worldview (which they may depend on to a very strong degree) simply in the name of truth. I say "truth" here as nothing more than the individual's perception of objective truth through the eyes of a subjective experience. He will very casually make comments about theism (particularly Christianity) and do so with a hint of a smirk or attitude that suggests "this stuff is really quite ridiculous and you guys shouldn't buy into it." What I think is interesting is that throughout the course he has never so much as taken an informal survey of the class's religious or lack of religious convictions (which philosophy professors commonly do). There are always some students that will respond in humorous agreement with him when he makes these comments, but what of those who make no comment? For all he knows, they could all be devout Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Agnostics, even Jehovah’s Witnesses (as the professor indicates in his bio that he himself was raised as, but now thinks is essentially ridiculous.....”like all other religions”). I guess the point I'm trying to make in this paragraph is that for those who have been given the “power” of philosophy, which is inherently a very dangerous but infinitely valuable and important study, much responsibility has to be included (Spiderman, anyone?). In a philosophy class (or any class), you’ve got one instructor, and that instructor has free reign to teach whatever he or she likes. And for the simple fact that that teacher inherently has about a thousand times more knowledge than the student, they can twist it in any way they like. Or to quote Jack Black in School of Rock, “all I need are minds for molding.”

In this latter half of the semester we are studying the concept of critical thinking, which could be otherwise described loosely as "reasonable skepticism" or the “reality of belief in something without good reason." This is where the class has taken a turn of difficulty for me, but not for reasons one might guess. The material is fascinating and I'm embracing critical thinking more and more. In fact, I'm discovering that I've been a critical thinker for several years now, but never knew what to call it (the church generally doesn't embrace critical thinking and for obvious reasons doesn't do much to encourage it; if it's not supported by the teachings in the bible, it's not true, and that's really all you need to know). No, this class is becoming difficult because the professor is using a lot of biased philosophy (oxymoron) to make points that benefit his atheistic perspective. Last week after class my friend and I speculated on the possibility that our professor believes the following:

“If you take critical thinking to its absolute limit, you will have no choice but to end in atheism.” (i.e. radical skepticism)

Where this gets interesting is that the whole idea of critical thinking is to evaluate things in the world that people believe but generally have little to no good reason to. Obviously as an atheist it would seem that my professor would say that this includes ALL things that cannot be explained by science, including religion in general (though he has yet to specifically state this). Side note: how does this guy teach metaphysics? But to come back a bit, what’s happening here has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that I’m a theist and he’s an atheist. I really couldn’t care less about his personal beliefs. Actually, if I were the atheist student and he was a Christian professor trying to slip in biased opinions about the absurdity of atheism while masking them as objective philosophical reasoning, it would probably irritate me even more. But what’s getting to me is his attitude toward what he believes and more importantly his attitude toward that which he does not believe, which speaks against his whole background in philosophy.

Ok, so I actually began writing this a couple weeks ago and put it down until now, so I’ve lost a bit of the passion that I had about this particular topic and I’m not entirely sure where I was headed. But I think there’s enough stuff here to serve as, at the very least, some food for thought.

I guess my point, if anything, was that as humans we tend to adhere to the “rationale” that helps our agenda, or more specifically, we tend to buy into the arguments that encourage our point of view (this is the fine line that traverses theistic apologetics). We never seem to give weight to the arguments against our beliefs. We find one argument (with strength level x) to support our argument and ascribe value x + 10 to it. Then we find one argument against our position (also with strength value x) and multiply it by -1, negating it and making our overall position shine above all as undoubtedly true. The overlying problem is that math and logic are not subjective, but the way we present them often is.

If this is confusing to anyone, I will probably go into this a bit more in the next post, so hang tight. If it’s not confusing, please share your thoughts.



Welcome all who have visited and browsed. My apologies for the slow start. It has been a combination of finding the time to gather my thoughts and type as well as avoiding topics that I think about very often but simply don't have the energy to dive into just yet (we'll get there...). I have, however, been contemplating the idea of original sin to a certain degree lately, and I'm thinking I might start there.

But first, I've been having a conversation with a very good friend of mine on a MySpace blog that he actually started (I don't want to take the credit). So far, I've been the only one to reply, so it's been limited to a two-way conversation thus far. So after the last post, I asked him if I could re-post the conversation thus far over here to see what interest it may spark. Please join in and share your thoughts. Let's learn from each other (although I really mean that, I concede that it does sound a bit like an after-school special :) ).


Subject: Atheism

"...atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there is no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning."

~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

I am not sure anyone ever reads these blog things, however I am interested in what people think. I am not looking for "Christian" answers I want real thoughts based upon this quote I found while reading. Please critically think about it and write. If you are not a Christian, please write write write. I really what to know what you think. Thank you, hope I get some good well thought statements.


As a philosophy major I am forced to think about this sort of stuff every day. Approaching this from the subject of logic, here's what I have to say:

"If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning". This argument implies that humans need to have meaning in order to be able to think and reason. It's an interesting notion, but one would have to prove that first, and I'm not sure that it could be done.

Also the comparison that is being made here is committing a classic fallacy known as Weak Analogy. It is suggesting that there is an accurate correlation between "meaning" and "light." This is hard enough to do when comparing two things that might both be physical objects. Here, it's even more difficult because the two things being compared are 1) an idea and 2) a form of energy. The same problem arises with the Teleological argument for the existence of God, also known as the argument from design. To suggest that the complexity of a watch inferring the existence of a watchmaker is the same as the complexity of the universe implying the existence of a universe-creator is another classic Weak Analogy. The primary focus here is that we have a very good understanding of how a watch is made because we (humans) invented the watch, whereas we have no proven idea (only a few theories) of how universes are made. It's certainly possible that there could be a correlation between the two, but it isn't proven as of yet and therefore isn't enough to make an analogous claim.

As I think about it, it commits yet another fallacy known as Begging the Question. It poses a premise that implicitly relies on the conclusion that it is trying to prove. In other words, if the universe has no meaning --> we shouldn't be able to find that out because we wouldn't have meaning --> but the reason we wouldn't have meaning is because the universe doesn't have meaning --> but if the universe has no meaning, we shouldn't be able to find that out because we wouldn't have meaning.....and so on. It's simply a circular definition.

For the record, I don't believe any of this necessarily disproves the existence of God, it's just an evaluation of an argument.


"This argument implies that humans need to have meaning in order to be able to think and reason."

What are we reasoning about if or thinking about if there is no meaning? When thinking about something aren't we trying to understand the meaning of that thing? Asking the why?? Question at least modern science continues to ask that question and modern Christianity. Most are lost if there is mystery. I also could be talking out of my butt.

<> Tony-I am still thinking about the rest. I will answer soon enough. But this is my initial though after a couple of days. :)


I think we need to definite the word "meaning." Does it just mean that something has a nature, a form, a predictable (or even unpredictable) behavior? Or are we defining it as something that has an intelligent design of some sort.

And with regard to meaning and reasoning, I'm not suggesting that our ability to reason isn't the result of our having meaning. I'm only saying that you cannot logically use something to define itself.

Premise + Premise = Conclusion.

If one of the premises relies on the conclusion (which by the definition of logic must rely on its premises), you end up with a circular definition. You would have to go back and think more about why reasoning implies meaning (whatever "meaning" means). But you can't say that reasoning implies meaning simply because that seems to make sense.

This is a circular definition.

P: reasoning
C: meaning

P: meaning
C: existence of god

P: existence of god
C: why we're able to reason

I will admit, I could also be talking out of my butt, this is a tough one to digest, mostly because words like "reasoning" and "meaning" are really difficult to define.


You are right that it is circular reasoning, however in this case what's the problem with that? I also agree that it is hard to define "reasoning" and "meaning". Go ahead and post this on your blog and lets keep talking about it.


First Things First...

I first must admit, I'm really not a big fan of the "blog" scene. I apologize to those whom this refers, but there's something about me writing a blurb about my life every day and expecting the whole world to care that's just a little sad. Now, to those of you out there who write poetry and try to express your artistic side or even your commentary on relevant issues via the blogosphere: right on, I salute you. But if you're writing a blog to tell the world that you had Cheerios for breakfast.....well, you get the idea. My point is that this particular blog won't consist of any Cheerios.

In any sense, you could consider this first post a continuation of the blog description, since I was only allowed a few words up there. In essence, I have spent several years in the evangelical Christian bubble and almost all of that time working in Christian leadership of some kind. I've had influences from all over the place and it has definitely stretched my brain a bit. During my sophomore year of college at a Catholic university (studying theology, no less) I began an intense struggle with and new appreciation for different approaches to understanding faith. That process hasn't ceased to continue ever sense and, as a result, has drawn me farther and farther away from the mainstream Christian sub-culture. For some time I simply avoided the issue by not talking about it with others that I was involved in leadership with. But the more I studied, the more I found that many of the ways in which we do this "Christian" thing just didn't seem to be right. However, for the first time in years I am no longer involved in ministry leadership and I thought it would be a good time to pursue this discussion head on, thus the origin of this blog.

An important blurb: I would still consider myself a Christian in the sense that I believe that there is compelling truth to the life of Jesus and I do my best to follow him. However, many western evangelical Christians might not qualify me as a Christian myself if they were inside my brain, since it seems that there is more to being considered a Christian today than just following Jesus. The unnoticed irony of that statement, of course, is that we do not agree on what it means to "follow Jesus."

So in the following posts I shall do my best to approach more specific issues. If they interest you, reply. If you think they might interest others, tell them. Let's have a discussion and learn from each other.

To spark any interests out there, here are a few topics that I would like to approach (sooner or later):
- what it means for God to be omniscient (all-knowing)
- heaven and hell and why people actually like this concept
- pragmatism and it's role in the development of religions (including Christianity)
- the "authority of scripture" and the fact that there are over 40,000 versions of Christianity
- the role of emotion in shaping our personal theologies


p.s. In case you were interested, the origin of the blog title "A New Paradigm" comes from the honest realization that as I attempt to approach an new understanding of truth, I am undoubtedly influenced to varying degrees by everything I learn. In other words, it is impossible for humans to develop an objective worldview, and even if we could, something tells me that would be quite boring. And even though we do our best to think outside the box, for too long now I think that only means that we've done so only to find ourselves inside yet another box. Here I will do my best to avoid boxes, but I have little doubt that they will creep in here and there.