After finishing my junior year at Penn State, I suddenly felt a desire to start writing. It came out of nowhere and was surprising for someone who always felt like writing anything was a burden. But I felt this urge to document what I was thinking about. What I was reflecting upon.

It started with some thoughts on the Penn State Scandal. And then transitioned into my thoughts on what faith was evolving into for me. What was Christianity all about? What was becoming increasingly important to me? And what implications did that faith have on the most mundane of day-to-day parts of life to the largest philosophical questions we all ask today?

For me, the goal of writing is not to obtain any particular following or gain a certain number of likes for any one post. At least I try to remind myself of that. Getting these thoughts written down helps me to align what is often a jumbled mess of disconnected ideas. And hopefully, the end product comes across as a somewhat polished and coherent message. That’s what I hope to get out of it anyway.

And along the way, my prayer is that some of these posts can connect with friends and family in a way that encourages them, opens new worlds, and maybe, just maybe, starts new two-way dialogues that are beneficial to all of us.

If you like what you’re reading please comment, follow, or message me. Have a great day!

Is Geography the Key to Understanding Our Political Adversaries?

When your full-time job is civil engineering, your work doesn’t tend to make for lively conversation at parties. This fact is only made that much more evident when you happen to be married to a nurse with years of emergency room and ambulance stories. You might be surprised to realize stories about infrastructure can’t hold…

The Devolution of the Super Hero and the Decay of Social Capital

While everyday that passes can certainly be considered just another day in the books, there are particular events that you know, even as they are still unfolding, will remain the topic of conversation for years to come. The types of events that will likely make there way into textbooks. That our kids and grandkids will…

Is Santa Real?

What traditions haven’t been altered in some way by the year 2020? Family gatherings delayed indefinitely. Vacations postponed if not missed altogether. Holidays without the whole family around the table. Even regular events like apple and pumpkin picking, made a little less comfortable with masks on. One can only imagine how different Times Square will…

A Few Thoughts on Our Current Political Climate

I forgot just how much I dislike election years… But as November 3rd gets closer and closer, the temperature gets up all the more. Tensions are running high for most everyone and I’m no exception. Over the last several years since this past presidential election cycle got underway, I have on several occasions wanted to…

The Chocolate Bunny and Idolatry Today

It’s quite possible that I will never be able to shake this song from the popular Christian children’s show VeggieTales out of my memory bank. The musical number was none other than “The Bunny Song” from the Rack, Shack & Benny episode. I mean this episode had everything! Crowd favorites Bob, Larry, and Junior were…

7 Tips on How to Have Good (Difficult) Conversations

During incredibly tense and raw moments like these, our ability (or lack thereof) to have good and constructive conversations about sensitive topics becomes all the more apparent. Desiring to talk to those closest to me and grapple with the implications of recent events us as individuals and communities, I’ve spent much of the past couple…

The Hidden Meaning of Onward

One of the best perks of being a parent is seeing your kids enjoy things for the first time. Whether it’s petting a baby bunny, wading in the water, or tasting cake and brownies, the overwhelming joy they experience is contagious. The world is infused with wonder not just for them but for the parent,…

The Illusion of Omnipotence in the Midst of a Pandemic

“If 20 formative years of your life involve a major terrorist attack, two recessions, exorbitantly expensive and unnecessary wars, tangibly worsening inequality, climate emergencies, and incompetence during a global pandemic, it might make you think things aren’t good.“ Well that’s a pretty sobering post to find in your newsfeed on Facebook… Odds are you have…

A Different Messiah

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” Jesus…

The Upside-Down World of the Joker

One of the most compelling television series to air in the last decade and a half was Breaking Bad. The show displayed so brilliantly what happens when Bryan Cranston’s character Walter White, realizing he has terminal cancer, makes a seemingly altruistic decision to make and sell drugs during the time he has left to provide…

Don’t Sleep on Woke Christianity

Bryan Stevenson the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and one of the main protagonists of the movie Just Mercy recently had an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air Podcast. (Yes, I listen to NPR at times. Don’t judge me…) The interview was certainly thought-provoking and Stevenson brings his share of insights to the conversation from…

WALL-E and the Prodigal Son

Beyond its charming love story and the adorable personification of a little trash compacting robot, WALL-E gave its viewers much to meditate on. WALL-E truly is a masterpiece in storytelling. Conveying most of the story with so few words, the story is strikingly simplistic and yet filled with incredible depth. This 2008 Pixar movie has…

Can We or Should We Read the Bible “Literally?”

It’s hard to imagine there was a time before books were so widely available. Before we could walk into a Barnes & Nobles, grab a coffee and pastry and peruse the thousands of books available. Before we could download straight to an e-reader within seconds. But what is probably even more difficult for us to…

What Scandals Can Show Us

I can remember where I was eight years ago when the news about Jerry Sandusky broke. It was the first weekend of November. A rare weekend that was free from Blue Band commitments since the football team had a bye week. I was scrolling through the Facebook news feed when I saw our drum major…

Advice for Life in 5 Words

A friend asked a seemingly simple question on Facebook a few months ago. The question was, “If you could give your best advice in 5 words what would you say?” Of course there were a variety of answers provided, but one that was mentioned by several people. The advice was “Don’t Change Yourself for Anyone.”…

The False Dilemma of Hannah B. and Luke P.

I like to think I’m a good husband for being willing to watch The Bachelor and The Bachelorette with my wife. At times (actually pretty often), I’m sure she would disagree. I’ve try to cut back on the jokes I make regarding the overtly shallow and hollow conversations they have. And I try to limit…

What in the World are Spirits?

You may not know this, but I’m a bit of a board game enthusiast. Yes, I’m self-aware enough to know I’m a nerd. Ever since being introduced to Dominion in college, I’ve often been searching for newer and even crazier games to play with friends and family. And I have accrued quite a collection over…

Who is the Holy Spirit?

I wouldn’t say I was an avid reader growing up, but there were several books that I thoroughly enjoyed reading as a child. The Lord of the Rings, The Hardy Boys, and Harry Potter come to mind immediately. When I first read them, I appreciated these books simply for the story. The joy of an…

Social Justice in a Post-Christian Society

Avengers: Endgame was a unique theater experience. I can recall going to see many several of the Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies shortly after they hit the big screen but those experiences pale in comparison to that of watching Endgame. I couldn’t find more recent data on how many people…

Why Today’s News Cannot Create Good Conversation

If you’ve ever been to the Judgement Free Zone of Planet Fitness you would know that in addition to their free Tootsie Rolls and Pizza Mondays, most of their gyms have a row of televisions in front of their treadmills, ellipticals, and exercise bikes. The TVs are set to a variety of channels usually including…

Why Today’s Politics Cannot Create Good Conversation

Well if you’re a Phillies fan, you’ve probably found the past few months pretty frustrating. It seemed like we were set up for a competitive season with off-season acquisitions and early season success, but the wheels have since fallen off and we sit in a position of hoping to land a wild card spot unless…

I Was Woke and Didn’t Even Know It

One of the unanticipated benefits of keeping a blog I have discovered is having the ability to revisit some of the ideas you held in the past. Similar to how a familiar song can help you instantly recall memories of your past, rereading what you wrote can remind you of what you used to be…

What Pawnee and San Francisco Have In Common

I feel like I was late to the party. It was just within the past year that I started watching Parks and Recreation on Netflix and it only took a few episodes to realize what I had been missing out on. I mean how can you not laugh at Ron Swanson’s over-the-top libertarian approach to…

Jordan Peterson and the Question of Belief

Within the past few months I stumbled upon Jordan Peterson. And by “stumbled” I mean, I was binge watching his videos for pretty much all of November and December last year once I was introduced to him. Some of you may know exactly who I am referring to and I’m sure many of you have…

Why We Shouldn’t Throw Away Fairy Tales

One of the things I most look forward to as a father will be the opportunity to read stories to my son. Morgan and I have already started the habit of rocking him to sleep while reading books and I am excited for when he’s old enough to really engage with the stories. For some…

The Lenses Through Which We See the World

Once a year I have to go see the optometrist. Each year it’s the same old tests. “What are the smallest letters you are able to read?” To which I always reply, “I cannot read the big E without my contacts.” I’m usually laughing as I mention it because I know it’s an E but…

For Those of Us on the Naughty List

I’m so excited for the Christmas season. Every Christmas Eve for several years now, my family has watched Elf. It’s become a tradition, and I tradition that I really hope we hold on to for years and years to come. I’ve probably seen it close to 30 times and can proudly quote a majority of…

Longing for Something Different

This past year has seemed especially difficult. Natural disasters, international tensions, shootings, bombings, all on top of our personal hardships that wear us down repetitively. And while it seems like this year has been particularly difficult, which I believe it has been, these hardships have always been a component of the story-line. Just a couple…

4 Common Misconceptions About Eternal Life

Despite growing up going to church, I never really understood eternal life. I was fine with the idea of being surprised at life’s end as to whether or not heaven exists. I mean I’ve been a “pretty good” person so I’ll live life and then confront whatever may be next when it’s in front of…

Changing for Better or for Worse?

Well these past four years sure did go by fast, and upon reflection it’s amazing how much I believe I’ve changed since my freshman year. I can remember auditioning for the Blue Band and then thinking that so much of my self-worth was riding on that result. I remember planning to pursue engineering because I…

Unanswered Questions

People act weird sometimes… I mean, isn’t it strange some of the habits we have? All of the tendencies and social norms that we adopt as we age. They are natural reactions that are cued by scenarios that we are presented everyday and they are almost all dictated by what society as a whole has…

Relatability

It’s been about nine months since I started this blog, and I have yet to write about my initial vision for these posts. What is “The Modern Shepherd?” I mean, I titled my whole blog after this, and to this date I have yet to really touch on its meaning. Modern…. meaning contemporary, or current.…

The Danger of Relativity

I thought taking philosophy during my last semester was going to be a fun and “eye-opening” class that would be great to end college with. But early in the semester I am realizing that it wasn’t exactly what I expected. Fun at times, but often frustrating, this class has opened my eyes. Everything is relative…

The Chief Good

Inspired by Ethics by Aristotle. It still hasn’t hit that I’m about to start my final semester here at Penn State. And the crazy thing is that there is still an unsettled feeling about the next step. But do we ever feel completely comfortable about what life brings next? Going from middle school to high…

Excommunicate the Band Geeks

Visiting home for the weekend just a week ago, I got the opportunity to see a high school football game for the first time in three or four years. Ahhhh…. The glory that is Friday night lights. Hard to believe so much time has past, and well, after being at so many Penn State games,…

The Cardboard Box

What if you lived in a cardboard box from day one of your life with a few other people who have also lived there since birth? All you can recall is the plain brown inside of this cubicle you call your home. You can’t hear anything outside of it and you don’t know how you…

Lies, Lies, Lies…

“You’re not smart enough.”                   “You need to cheat to get a good enough score.” “You’re ugly.”                                                       “You are going…

Chick-fil-A: Shedding Light on a Divided People

Who knew the statements of the president of a chicken sandwich serving restaurant could cause such a divide in our country? We’ve seen recently the horrific actions of one man shatter our community, but know the speech of one man is causing an uproar across the country? Lately we’ve seen how the American society is…

Lunch and Learn

This summer, I have had the privilege to work with some absolutely amazing coworkers. And just like any job we have, the end goal is to look back and have something to take with you going forward. There are many things I can take from this summer; and many of them aren’t environmental engineering-related at…

No Clean Cut

The results of Freeh’s investigation on the “Penn State Scandal” have troubled me to the point where I have a hard time figuring out what to feel or think. And it’s not just the findings listed in the report, but the way everyone is reacting to the news. I really think most people are conflicted…

MISSION: Speed Limit

Driving from State College to Roaring Spring everyday and then driving home several weekends, I have been logging thousands and thousands of miles and hours upon hours upon hours of time on the road. With all that time, you’re bound to analyze, and maybe over-analyze certain things. It even brings back weird memories, like the…

The Manila Folder

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that you knew as it was unfolding, would be one you would never forget? A conversation that would be life-changing because its message was exactly what you were looking for at that time? I was blessed to have one this past week with a great man, a fellow…

Needed?

I really miss those weeknights under the lights, playing soccer against county rivals back at Daniel Boone High School. I was never a natural at soccer, and it was a sport I really had to work at. Not the most agile, I can remember running hills, doing plyometrics, and just trying to be an asset…

In the 99 or the 50?

I will always remember the group of students who “occupied” our student union building for what seemed like months in protest of…. maybe Sbarro’s or was it Panda Express. Regardless of their success/failure in the HUB, the “occupy” method was a very visible protest of the 99% vs. the 1%, and has been an interesting…

Mr. Charles

Six one-hour driving lessons with Mr. Charles in his black Hyundai Sonata and I had enough. “Look left, right, left. If you’re clear, you’re moving.” He said this word-for-word at every stop sign we came to, which quickly became too many stop signs. His gray hair, black glasses, and excessively boring voice stick with me. I can…

The Lost Lesson of Joe Paterno

The trial opening last week reminded me of how crazy this year was to be at Penn State. The accusations against Jerry Sandusky coming to the public’s attention, followed by Joe Paterno’s firing, the dreadful riots in downtown State College, and a beautiful candlelight vigil for the victims of sexual abuse all within a week. Then…

The Rule of Five

I was grabbing breakfast with a very very good friend of mine and he asked me, “Have you ever heard of the ‘Rule of Five’?” Initially I thought of the Japanese lean manufacturing process started by Toyota that consisted of asking the question “Why?” five times. Here’s an example: Why did you go to the…

The Relationship of J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter

I was a ginormous Harry Potter fan growing up. Waiting in line for each book, I highly anticipated each successive story to the series. I wasn’t much of a reader, but when a new Potter book came out, my next two days were devoted to reading, eating, and maybe a couple hours of sleeping. I think…

Are you a Devon Miles?

Ahhhh yes…. Devon Miles. Nick Cannon’s character in the movie “Drumline”. I’m guessing many of you have seen the movie but for those of you who have not, I’ll quickly summarize it. Devon is a drummer from Harlem who is recruited to join Atlanta A&T’s drumline. He was a talented drummer at his high school…

Go Big or Go Home

On Memorial Day weekend, I was playing a dice game, called Dinger, with my extended family. We were sitting around the table taking turns trying to get to the winning score of 10,000 points. On each roll, you can take what you’ve accumulated or you can roll again with the risk of losing everything you’ve…

Welcome!

“With great power comes great responsibility.” This may be one of the most cliché quotes due to its excessive overuse, but it remains to be a true statement. Lately, I’ve been considering what God is calling us to do in this life and have changed Uncle Ben’s quote around slightly. “With great blessings comes great…


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