Monday, January 24, 2011

Sam's Journey (Free E-book)

Last year, I sent off a manuscript of some writing that I had done in the past.  I was hoping that Victoria University Press would like my idea for a poetry book and would publish it, or a version of it.  They rejected my submission but were very nice about it.  I consider the writing to be rather immature for the most part, but thought I may as well offer it here for free (link to view/download is at the end of this post).
I also decided that I may as well post my cover letter to show how the proposal was completed.  Maybe it will inspire another writer who has thought it would be to far-out or too difficult to have their work published.

To whom it may concern,
I am writing to you with my proposal for publication of my manuscript of poetry and prose.  I hope to convince you that this is worth publishing, or receive advice from you about where to have this work published if it is not a project in keeping with those of Victoria University Press.  I believe that there is a market for these writings but, more important, there is also a need for people to be able to receive comfort during hard times through the experience of others who have made it through their own struggles.  
My experiences of loneliness and depression, at a time when I was struggling to find companionship, make up the majority of the poems.  There are several sections of the manuscript, beginning with works that show a little about me and how I looked at myself and the world at the time of my life when I wrote this.  Following that is the largest section dealing with my loneliness, feelings of love for a friend, and struggles to find a source of comfort in the lack of love in return.  The remaining sections are more meditative about the world around us, with the final section being a word to readers about coming through the struggles and ending up in a positive place, with love satisfied.
There is a flow to the entire manuscript, with the theme of a journey being the key to interpreting the works.  The beginning is very inward focused, showing the beginnings of maturity that a teenage and older person would be able to relate to.  As the journey progresses, the writings become more outward focused with snapshots of the details of the world around us, and then finally a scene of other people.  The process of looking for love and then arriving at this wonderful place is another journey seen in the manuscript.
Each work within the manuscript can be taken as a one-off for meditation and study, meaning that this would be a very accessible publication for a wider range of people, or for educational purposes, perhaps in high schools.
If published, this would be a work for New Zealanders, by a New Zealander, and of a type that I have not seen in any book stores, despite having a clear subject matter of interest to many.
I would envision this to be a short work, in a pocket sized book.  There would be room for people to write their own ideas or doodle pictures while reading, personalising and intensifying their experience while creating a legacy which could be passed down to children.  It could easily be carried for quiet meditation over a coffee at your local, or suitable as a thoughtful gift for friends.
The entire manuscript is enclosed, along with a brief CV.  I have no recognised writing references, though I have written various types of proposals, speeches, presentations, sermons, bible studies, technical documents suitable for other teachers, formal and informal reports, and more recently a number of blogs (some are listed on my CV).  I enjoy writing, and I enjoy completing projects, being more than able at receiving criticism and feedback to improve and produce a final design that meets the needs of interested parties.  Hopefully you will see that this qualifies me enough to work with you in having this work published.
Many thanks for your time and consideration.  I look forward to hearing back from you.
Sincerely, and once again hopefully,
Samuel Hight
Link for free e-book: Sam's Journey (on the page you can select to save/download)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Trust and Truth in Science and Religion

Some trust in Science, some trust in God, some trust in both.  There are truth gaps in both Science and Religion that force us to trust if we are to continue to live by it.  It is our past experiences within that realm that will inform us whether we can safely place our trust  there or not.  The same principle applies to human relationships, favourite authors, Internet providers, and a host of other fields with unknowns that we commit to based on what we already know about them.  For now, we will look at trust and truth in Science and Religion.

Is there enough truth for us to trust in what we trust in?
This is not so much a difficulty in the Science realm, because the scientific method is formed to be able to make rational sense of observation of the universe.  Any theory or hypothesis that does not square with experimental data is replaced with an updated one that does work.  It’s a clear and simple, common sense process of human exploration of the natural world.  It doesn’t always work though, as it relies on fallible people to spot the inconsistencies in a theory, and even then it might take a while for people to be willing to let that theory go, especially if they have been making good use of it for a long time.  This gives rise to the question, “How much truth has to be compromised before the trust is compromised?”

Take the case of the dinosaur bones found with blood cells preserved inside.  Actual dinosaur blood.  Read the journal article for yourself here (or here for one of the articles at  It seems that any rational scientist would have to make a choice, assuming he or she holds to dinosaurs existing over 60 million years ago along with a much shorter decomposition rate for organic material.  The choice would be between which theory is wrong.  Either dinosaurs didn’t live that long ago, or blood cells decay at an impossibly slow rate under particular conditions.  Trust in that portion of science must drop away, otherwise enough trust has already been built up that the scientist would safely assume that more evidence will come to light to explain how both can work.

When it comes to the bible, people are not so willing to trust.  
If we start on the same grounds that we might start from with science, we can see that there is no difference in how we can apply our trust to the bible.  There are truth claims, some of which are obvious and easily believed and it is a wonderful resource of accurate wisdom about human nature and life principles that work.  

However, there are gaps and contradictions that don’t seem to make sense and there are claims that we can’t know anything about through “natural” means of knowing.  Yet the parts that we can believe should convince us that it is worth looking a little deeper before throwing the baby out with the bath water.  Some contradictions readily dissolve with the right context or understanding of how God is working through history.  Others are not so easy to deal with, much like the science situation above, and require a re-think of past ideas; yet there is no reason to think we should dismiss the lot.

God of the gaps
Scientists are quick to accuse believers of “invoking the god of the gaps” .  When things in the universe don’t stand up to the claims of the religion (a gap in knowledge) then a miracle or mysterious action of god is used to cover the gap.  God of the gaps can be seen as a faith that the gap is a part of god’s plan or something that we can trust Him about despite not understanding how it fits in with the rest of reality.

What many scientists don’t realise is that they use science itself as a god of their gaps.  Scientists will come across something such as the dinosaur blood cells discovery and then say that “science will discover something that explains this, it’s just a matter of time.”  This is essentially putting faith in science to cover a gap in knowledge (or a contradiction in current knowledge).

Both rely on faith/trust but for different reasons
Science builds our trust with accurate accounts of physical reality.  The bible builds our trust with accurate accounts (primarily, but not exclusively) of moral/philosophical reality.  These two different reasons make it hard to compare the trust that we place in each, but that does not mean that either is totally wrong.  When each encounters a truth that stretches the bounds of belief, the adherents to that field (science or a particular religion) must decide if that claim is too far out for that system to adopt.

As a final note, I have focused on the bible, and by implication Christianity.  This is because I am a Christian and have explored the claims of Christianity more than other religions.  After looking at the other major world religions (and some minor ones also) I decided that they didn’t match with reality enough to bother trusting.  In short, where a religion makes their god lower in stature than man or who requires sub-standard payment for mans sin, I don’t think it can be true.  That is another discussion for another time though.
Some useful links

God Exists Because...

Before I was a Christian, I philosophised with some of my fellow teenage smoking buddies that there must be a Creator of the universe.  Sharing a Marlboro on a random playground some time during a warm summer night, we reasoned it out very simply.  If things have causes, then there must be something that is the first cause.  That first cause that made time and space is outside of both, and is not bound by either of them to have a beginning moment or a beginning place.

Developing that further, if we (very reasonably) take the currently expanding universe as something that has a beginning, we have to wonder how that beginning came about.  It is more reasonable to think that a creative force did it than to think that it was caused by a mindless force.  A mindless force cannot be a first cause because it will just sit there mindlessly with no reason to do anything as wonderful as start a universe.  Complicating the argument with multiple universes and other rubbish ideas just shifts the first cause.  I say rubbish because they miss the point and just mess up the clarity of something simple, beautiful, and easy on the eye when you look at it under the correct conditions of mind.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Benefits of Parkour

I was interviewed for this video assignment and some of the footage is from parkour classes at the school I teach.  Damien is really getting stuck into developing the NZ parkour community!