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A Complementarian Defense of 5 for Yell

The student body elections campaign season has started up again here in Aggieland. Look anywhere and you’ll see screaming sophomores holding bedsheet-PVC pipe contraptions sporting forced puns for their candidate. Naturally, this time of year sparks a heated controversy over Yell Leader – the entrusted guardians of the Aggie Spirit. Every cycle, it seems the debate flares up over the nearly invincible death grip that 5 for Yell has on the position. Many say that 5 for Yell undercuts the democracy of Texas A&M, crowds out the other voices, and prevents the Yell Leaders from ever representing anything more than the Corps of Cadets. I’d like to step in and offer some spiritual guidance.

Two fundamental assumptions of the anti-5fY crowd are that (1) non-Corps members ought to be represented by the Yell Leaders and (2) that not being represented somehow undercuts the intrinsic value of the non-reg community. I think that both are false. First, consider something non-controversial. Nobody contends that a non-reg fresh off the street should be Reveille’s handler – that is clearly something only members of the Corps should do. On the opposite end of the spectrum, nobody objects to non-regs and Corps equally filling and contending for many of the other offices on campus, including Student Body President, chief student officers, and group project leaders that make sure everything gets submitted to eCampus on time. This is because we recognize what’s called complementarianism. That is, every Aggie, Corps and non-regs, are equal in their essential dignity and human personhood, but different and complementary in function with Corps headship in the dorm and in Kyle Field. In other words, there is neither male nor female, reg or non-reg, redass nor 2%-er for all are one in the 12th Man. So, everyone implicitly understands this concept. However, what about the specific role of the Yell Leader? Is this a position that is open to everyone or one that has be sacredly reserved to be fulfilled by the Corps? To answer this question, rather than making up answers as we go, we must go to the Sacred Tradition as encapsulated by the teachings of our past Presidents. The explicit teaching of St. Rudder on the requirements of Yell Leader can be found in his correspondence with Corps Commander Matthew R. Carroll in 1969.

“…likewise also that non-regs should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and Comfort Colors, not with orange attire, but with what is proper for non-regs who profess the Aggie Spirit—with good bull.  Let a non-reg learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a non-reg to teach Tradition to or exercise Yelling over a cadet; rather, they are to remain quiet until instructed to hump it. For the cadets were at TAMC first, then the non-regs; and the Corps did not kill Ol’ Army, but the non-regs did and became transgressors. Yet they will be saved through humping it—if they continue in excellence and integrity and loyalty, with selfless service. Let Yell Leaders each be the zip or sergebutt of one division, managing their pissheads and their own outfits well. For those who serve well as Yell Leaders gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the Spirit that is in Aggieland.” (1 Matthew 2:12-17)

As we can see, Rudder is straightforward – the non-regs, while a valued and legitimate part of the Aggie Community are not open to being Yell Leaders. While I will be the first to admit that 5 for Yell isn’t perfect, they nevertheless are the most faithful embodiment of the Aggie apostolic teachings. This election cycle, I ask that you consider these words and ask yourself if you want to subvert the clear teachings found in this Rudderian epistle.

Disclaimer: This is not serious.

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Saving Christmas from the Grounding Objection

Background
Molinism is a view of divine providence that harmonizes complete divine sovereignty with genuine human freedom. The primary concept is God’s middle knowledge. God’s omniscience is conceptually divided into three logical moments. First is His natural knowledge which consists of all logical possibilities (i.e. everything that could happen). Last is His free knowledge which consists of a comprehensive knowledge of the actual world (i.e. everything that did happen, everything that is happening, and everything that will happen in the future). The content of this category of knowledge comes from God’s creative decree; God created freely, hence the name free knowledge. In between His natural and free knowledge (and prior to the creative decree) is a category called middle knowledge. The content of middle knowledge consists of what are called counterfactuals of creaturely freedom (CCFs for short). These are statements about what a free creature would do if she were in a certain set of circumstances. The upshot is that with knowledge of these CCFs, God can meticulously and sovereignly order a world according to His pleasure without obliterating human freedom nor sacrificing His foreknowledge.

With such an attractive position, it may be difficult to believe that some people reject the idea of middle knowledge. It’s posited that these CCFs don’t actually have any semantic content; the only truths are what could be the case or what will be the case; there simply isn’t anything that would be the case. This is a version of what’s called the “grounding objection“.
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Why Coffee Cups Are Objectively the Best Gifts

Christmas is in just a few days and you’re still trying to find that one gift for that one person. Don’t worry; I’ve got you covered for this Christmas and every other gift giving occasion with this secret I figured out about 3 years ago.

When getting gifts for people, there are certain characteristics that we look for. The main ones I can think of are utility, personality, durability, and cost efficiency. The coffee cup maximally optimizes each of these categories.

Utility

Over half of the U.S. population consumes coffee and/or hot tea on a daily basis and more consume these drinks on a weekly basis. So, even if you barely know the person, the probability is in your favor for getting something that has a decent amount of utility. Also, at the very least, they could use it for a secondary use such as holding pencils or decoration (if it’s a collectable mug).

Personality

Coffee mugs have nearly a maximal amount of personal customizability. Think of any picture, logo, design, poster, artwork, etc that someone would enjoy. It can be put on a coffee mug! Anything that can go on a t shirt, ball cap, cell phone cover, and car bumper can go on a coffee cup. That’s not even to mention the endless amount of design variations on the cup itself. There are camera lens shaped mugs, TARDIS mugs, bullet mugs, brass knuckle mugs, shark mugs, rabbit mugs, etc etc. Also, don’t forget the ace in the hole: hand made coffee cups; they’re at any pottery place which are surprisingly ubiquitous.

Durability

Next is the durability criterion. With minimal exception, a decent porcelain mug will last around 20 years. If we expand our discussion to include thermos type coffee cups, both Tervis, Stanley, and many other companies make products with lifetime warranty (although, this affects the customizability and cost efficiency to a certain degree). Nevertheless, the coffee mug passes on the durability criterion.

Cost

Lastly is the cost efficiency. The average cost of a decent mug is $8. This is the perfect price for a gift; it’s manageable by most people, it’s above the $5 “cheapskate” threshold yet underneath the $10 “wow, I only spent $5 for you and now I feel guilty” threshold. Moreover, coffee mugs live on spectrum which allows price flexibility given your relationship to the gift-receiver.

Summary

In summary, a coffee mug has high utility value, maximal personal customizability, and great durability all at a high cost efficiency making it, objectively, the best gift. Now, you probably are aware of the stigma against coffee mugs as gifts. You yourself may have thought “what! A coffee mug is a stupid cop out gift!” If this is the case, it is my hope that you will reflect on the evidence presented and give deep consideration to this worldview. If you don’t hold this view, I ask that you join me; together, we can change the hearts and minds of our culture to accepting coffee cups as the best gift.

/s

Taylor Series Sanctification

In Christian theology, there is an important distinction between the doctrines of justification and sanctification. Briefly stated, justification is God’s forensic declaration that a Christian is righteous. That is to say, when God looks at the Christian, rather than seeing that individual’s own “righteousness”, God sees the imputed righteousness of Christ. Reflecting on justification often raises the question “Well, if Christians are considered righteous, then, why don’t they act like it?!” This then leads to the doctrine of sanctification. Briefly stated, sanctification is the process by which the Christian is conformed to the image of Christ and begins to imitate Christ. In other words, sanctification is the process by which the Christian is shaped into being righteous.

Conflation of these two can lead to some dangerous theology. On the one hand, one could collapse everything into sanctification and state that unless one acts perfectly, then one is not saved/justified; this is called works-righteousness and is often associated with legalism. On the other hand, one could collapse everything into justification and state that at the moment of repentance, one is more or less free to do what they want; this is equally as bad as the previous error.

Are there any parallels to this process?

Sanctification is often compared to pottery making pointing to verses like Ephesians 2:10 (Christians are the workmanship of God), Romans 9:21 (the potter is sovereign to create vessels for honourable use and dishonourable use) and many, many others. I think that another parallel can be made with mathematical approximation formulas; specifically the Taylor Series (and related Maclaurin Series). The Taylor Series can be used to approximate any function about a point in the form

f(a) + f'(a)(x-a) + [f”(a)/2!](x-a)^2 + [f”(a)/3!](x-a)^3…
Essentially, you stick a line on a point of the graph you want to approximate and then progressively get closer to the picture with each successive iteration. Now, suppose that the original function is Christ and it becomes fairly easy to see the parallel. The life of the Christian is to become a power series representation of Christ while on Earth. In other words, as the approximation line conforms to the image of the original function, Christians also conform to the image of Christ.

There are problems with this analogy as there are problems with all analogies. For example, the process of sanctification is a more involved, multifaceted process whereas the Taylor Series involves discrete succession of individual components. While sanctification is a continual, ongoing process, a Taylor Series approximation occurs in individual segments.

Solving the Trolley Problem

The trolley problem is an extremely popular thought experiment used to examine ethical presuppositions. The idea is that there is a runaway trolley car that is headed towards 5 adults stuck on the track. There is no way to stop the car and all 5 will be killed if hit. There is, however, a nearby button that can be pushed which will switch the trolley to another track. The catch is that there is a single child stuck on this track who will be killed by the trolley. So, what do you do? Do you pull the switch, saving 5 adults by killing child or save the child by killing the 5 adults?

The Solution: This will take some set up. First, take out your handy Geiger counter and wire it to the button. Next, take out a radioactive sample that has a 50% chance of decaying and giving off an alpha particle within the time it takes for the trolley to reach the switch point on the track. If the sample decays, the Geiger counter will trigger the switch and the train will hit the child. If the sample doesn’t decay, the train will continue on and kill the 5 adults. Lastly, turn around and walk away, never looking back. Since you have not observed the outcome, the trolley is in a state of superposition having both switched to avoid the 5 adults and not-switched to avoid the child. The downside is that the trolley has also switched to kill the child and not-switched to kill the adults. The good news is that it is no longer your problem, but rather the problem of the next potential observer.

/s