The Dentist from Sesame Street: A True Story

I have had a rather bizarre day. It was actually kind of funny from someone else’s point of view. So everyone, have a laugh at my expense. =-P

I have nothing personal against dentists. I remember braces, having some baby teeth removed, fluoride treatments, a root canal, and my wisdom teeth removed. I have had several dentists, an orthodontist, an endodontist (root canal doctor {my one root canal was a doosy}), and an oral surgeon. I don’t even mildly despise any of them. I should brush more thoroughly and flossing would be a good idea too. But today was a doosy of a day.

I go to a dentist that caters to kids because of my insurance. There are toys and video games in the lobby and cartoon characters in every room. In my examining room, Bert, Ernie, Cookie Monster, and Oscar the grouch are staring out of the four walls at you. But it is still a dentist office. So today, I go in to get four cavities filled. (P.S. Go to the dentist every year, don’t skip! There, dentists, I advertised for you. Ha!)

The first thing I find out is that one dentist is out and the other is covering for both. GREAT! I get an overworked dentist. He is a professional; he can handle it. No problem, I think. Then I get the anesthetic—Three shots of the stuff. One causes a nerve jolt that shoot straight up my mouth to my eye! Wow! I am thinking—That was unusual. I’m also remembering that my oral surgeon told me that there was a very minuscule chance having my wisdom teeth out could damage my optic nerves causing blindness. Short story shorter, my face goes numb! Well, half of it. Do you know what it is like having one numb nostril? It’s very like a congested nostril except you can breathe through it. Here is the funny part though-you can breath through it, but you can’t tell that you can breathe through it. You can’t tell you’re breathing.

I am starting to get use to this artificial congested nostril when my ear goes numb. My ear! Oh, and all the ear couldn’t go numb; no, just one little flap that covers the ear hole. My face feels like I should look like “Sloth” the deformed man on the Goonies. Then my neck gets involved—one of my neck muscles goes numb. I didn’t know that one muscle could stand out so much when numb!

Oh, I get to look in a mirror and notice my lips won’t move in sync. My left side moves first and the right side goofs off and does half of the movement a half-beat behind the left side. I can really see why Bill Cosby thought that dentist offices were great places for comedy.

Then comes the first filling. Whosh! I am lowered into a position that causes all the drool to leave your mouth and roll out the side of your head into your ear! Q-tip anyone?

They drill out the cavity-which is a simple one-then smear a play-dough like stuff on my tooth and use UV light to seal it into a ceramic. Of course, dentists have these wonderful UV ray guns. It’s like, “Here, let me sunburn that filling into your tooth. I’ll give you some aloe for your tongue later.” Then off goes my dentist to work on some small boy that has been waiting with a stunned look on his face like you see in refugee movies.

They raise me back up to normal sitting height, and all the blood rushes from my head to the rest of my body. I wisely use this time to wipe the drool out of my ear. My face’s right side feels like I have had cotton balls sewed beneath my skin. It kind of still feels like this.

After dealing with whatever the other patients had, my dentist is back. Two assistants are in the room to help the doc get through my deal fast! Off we go. I return to a position of nearly standing on my head and the dentist starts drilling away. It doesn’t hurt, but WHY do drills have to resonate so wonderfully in your head? I could feel the vibrations in my skull!

The dentist and the assistants are crowding in and I start to panic. I don’t have claustrophobia, but there was something about having hands, small appliances, water, air, and vacuum shoved into your mouth while the rest of two people hangs out three inches from your face that closely resembles claustrophobia. I am able to hang on to my dignity-and not throw them off like I am being attacked by gigantic drill salesmen.

By the way, a dentist’s chair improves your prayer life. As the chair goes down, prayers go up.

Finally, after lots of drilling, he allows me to regain a normal sitting position. He quickly explains that one of my cavities was very deep and immediately prescribes two pain medications. He says he’ll give me some Motrin and because he doesn’t want to “leave me with nothing” he prescribes another more doosy of a medication. A massive dose of motrin is NOTHING? I start to feel worried. By the way, two of either of these pills are the size of a tube of chap stick. Life is weird and sometimes feels slightly unfair.  

On the way home, I felt very emotional. This for me is saying a bit, I am normally even keeled. I realized something. Dentist visits push you out of your comfort zone. The dentists don’t want to do it, but they can’t help it. They have to lower your head to the air space your knees normally inhabit. They have to make your face feel like it’s about to flop off your skull like a wet towel. They have to drill through your teeth with high pitched whinny drills. They have to; it’s the only way to get the gunk out of your teeth.

God does the same thing. He doesn’t want us miserable, but He has to shove us out of where we are comfortable. He has to; it’s the only way to get the gunk out of our souls.     

  Anyway you all have a nice day. And remember to floss once a day and brush completely.

Batman and the Life Boat Test

I saw the new Batman movie, Dark Knight, a week or so ago; and honestly it caused an interesting moral conundrum. For those of you who haven’t seen it and want to, I will be discussing the plot’s climax so: WARNING Spoilers follow.

I liked the movie over all. The special effects were slightly cheesy and the laws of physics didn’t apply fairly throughout, but that’s normal for superhero movies. It basically revolves around the cities reaction to the mad man Joker. He kills, blows things up, and otherwise attacks the sanity of the (not quite) fair city of Gotham. Batman, the police, the DA, and the people of Gotham all have to act to stop this mad man. Oddly, Joker puts everything he does into the context of a moral test. Batman has to turn himself in or Joker will kill people, the Police have to remain honest in the face of enormous bribes. Throughout the entire movie the Joker wants to test ethics and morals.

It reminds me of those situational ethics tests; the most popular of which is called the life boat test. “You are on a life boat with three other people lost at sea. There is an old woman with bad arthritis, a five year old girl, a scientist working on the cure for cancer. There is only enough food for all of you for two days. If you throw one member overboard, there will be enough food for a week. Who do you throw off?” Unfortunately, our world runs on situational ethics. Abortion and Euthanasia are two good examples of that; we say that murder is wrong, but we will kill those we consider unwanted. The Joker in the “Dark Knight” attacks the people on that level. At one point, he breaks a pool cue in half leaving a jagged piece for three men to decide who of them was going to get the one open position in Joker’s crew. He gives Batman the choice of saving one of two people. But the best examples of situational ethics are the two moral dilemmas that Joker gives to the people of Gotham.

The first dilemma comes in the movie when a worker at Wayne Enterprises goes on TV to tell everyone that Bruce Wayne is Batman. The Joker calls the program and says that he will blow up a hospital if somebody doesn’t kill that worker in one hour. Of course that is not enough time to empty the hospitals of Gotham. The Joker basically says, “Okay. You think murder is wrong. Well, unless you murder one person, I will kill lots of people.” What happens? The police protect the worker, empty the hospitals, and a last ditch effort to kill the man is thwarted when Bruce Wayne “accidentally” puts his sports car between the police car and the would be killer. The final result, Joker blows up an empty hospital.

The second dilemma is even more direct. Joker puts a bomb on two ferry crossing the harbor. One is carrying civilians; the other prisoners. Each ferry has the detonator to the other ferry’s bomb. If one of the two doesn’t blow the other up by midnight, Joker will blow them both up. Another dilemma, “Kill those people to save your people.” Talk about a life boat test! It’s funny to me who shows up as a hero here. 

The first is the captain of the civilian ferry. After the civilians vote to blow up the prisoner’s ferry, the captain won’t blow them up. When asked why, he says, “We’re still here.” He understands that the prisoners haven’t blown him up. The threat of violence to himself doesn’t sway him. It’s a little weak, but it is a moral stand. He didn’t go with majority rules; he understands that right and wrong are beyond a vote.

The second hero acts differently. He was a prisoner on the prisoner’s barge. He threatens the warden to give him the detonator so he can “Do what you should have done ten minutes ago.” He grabs the detonator and throws it out the window. He takes the high road, puts himself in jeopardy, and does what is right.

This is where all life boat scenarios fall apart. They forget heroes. The people on the barge forgot this too. They didn’t remember Batman. They only thought that the information provided was the only information. Joker was stopped before midnight. He was hanging upside-down with a bat-errang around his ankles and his detonator was smashed. He couldn’t blow both ships; he couldn’t fulfill that end of the life boat test. 

Situational ethics dies in the face of true right and wrong morality. Even though the Joker made it hard, no one had to murder anyone. The true heroes stopped it. People need to realize in the “life boat tests” that a rescue ship can come on day one just as easily as on day five. Circumstances beyond our control can be favorable just as easily as they can be unfavorable. Why does your morality change in the minor heat of circumstance? It shouldn’t. Batman was a hero, the police were heroes, and the convict and the ferry captain were heroes. WHY? Because they did what was right no matter what. (At least in these two dilemmas, in the story’s conclusion everyone decided to embrace situation ethics with a bizarre zeal that undermined the whole point of the movie. {Hollywood is stupid like that sometimes.})  

A major problem with situational ethics is that it requires no external input. Batman thwarted the Joker. The rescue ship was prompt. Each time situational ethics seems so easy and nice a monkey wrench called real life messes it up.  Right and wrong, however, aren’t messed up by real life. Wrong is still wrong and right is still right no matter what. End of story.

Plain Vanilla Yoga

Yesterday, I started school meetings. This school year is off and running. However, a bizarre circumstance happened. I was reading in Ruth today about how Ruth “happed” to Boaz’s field. I guess I am in the same boat because yesterday, I happed to an interesting coffee shop. I was exploring the area around the school. It’s on the other side of town and I was very early for the school meetings. So I found a coffee shop-after I found a Sonic and a Sunflower supermarket. Right next to this coffee shop was a place called Dahn Yoga and Tai-Chi. They had brochures right outside so I grabbed one.
It is interesting to me that so many students at Victory Christian School are heavily interested in Manga, those backwards printed Japanese comic books. So what does a yoga brochure and Japanese comic books have in common–Chakra. Apparently, the idea of the Chakra came from India and is believed throughout the orient. From what I could gather in the little digging I did, Chakra is the 6-8 circles of consciousness that can exist in a person. They claim each of these circles affect a person’s health spiritually, physically, and mentally.

The weirdness continues; this yoga place claims that yoga and the other assorted mystical beliefs can “develop inner peace, develop growth of your true self, control your inner power [called Ki], learn to use your healing powers on yourself and others.” Okay, I admit this stuff is plain creepy, but why would some new age yoga school bother me? Again we go back to those Manga, one of the most popular is one called Naruto. It’s about a boy ninja named Naruto, all of his super-human powers; in fact every ninja’s super-human powers come from controlling this bizarre energy source called Chakra-The 6 to 8 circles of consciousness of eastern mysticism. 

At this point, some of my students would accuse me of saying that Naruto is evil or watching Naruto is sin. I love my kids; they are so funny sometimes. I am not making this into some kind of attack on Manga, but there is a danger here. The students like coffee and Naruto. Suppose they “hap” upon the Yoga place. They already have interest towards this place. Students have told me how cool they think these Chakra ninja’s are. Would they buy into all this mysticism? I hope not. But the brochure has testimonies of people that think this mystical exercise program has cured depression and controlled diabetes. Not that exercise can’t do those things, but they aren’t blaming normal exercise. They blame this chakra-ki eastern mysticism. They blame this institute that says focusing your chakra and ki will help you heal yourself and others.

I know the allure of entertainment and I can see how these simple comic books are full to the brim with eastern Mysticism and spiritism. That can be dangerous; we tend to get more involved in things that we are interested in. It is important to warn these students that they might be trapped by the devices of Satan. After all, Satan wants to destroy them; and getting them involved in the New Age movement and Eastern Mysticism will definitely do that. 
But what is really demonic about this whole Chakra thing is that it has an element of truth to it. It’s description in Naruto and in the research I did both have the endocrine system in mind. Each Chakra or state of consciousness has a corresponding gland. Even in Naruto the Chakra points are closely associated with lymph nodes. Can exercise of the body affect the endocrine system? Of course it can. If a chocolate bar can produce endorphins and a roller-coaster ride can cause an adrenaline spike then a regimen of exercise can affect your emotions. Remember Satan always offers his best apples first. Here I think it’s these stretching exercises called yoga. A person will try it and find out it does affect their mood; they do feel more at peace, etc. etc. But that doesn’t prove the mysticism; although it is presented so that it looks like it does. Then Satan comes along with this whole bizarre philosophy of Chakra and energy healings and Ki power until a person is totally duped by the New Age movement. It’s sublte and deadly.

Anything that comes along needs to be looked at carefully and hard questions need to be asked. Is this right? What does this mean? What is the point? What should I do about it? Is this wrong? To many times we just let new issues come at us and don’t even do enough digging into them. It takes effort but finding the truth is worth the work. 



The Slaying of the Dragon of Gogen Heights

This short story is one of my writing teacher’s favorites. It depicts a  knight trying to kill an evil dragon despite the efforts of a midieval environmental group trying to stop him. I consider hyper-environmentalism flawed. Animals are wild beasts that will kill, destory, etc. They don’t have the reasoning ability that God gave man. The Slaying of the Dragon of Gogen heights (PDF)

Join the Revolution

Today, it seems that Christianity is more like a sport than a lifestyle. For many, Christianity is the getting ready for church on Sunday morning, listening to a sermon, reading a bit from the Bible, and praying before a meal. It’s being at least decent in morality, and being able to point out that one’s behavior is average if not better than average. They don’t live Biblical Christianity. Instead they have substituted a weak and easily abused cultural Christianity.

But like so many things, one bad trend leads to another. The weak cultural Christianity has paved the way for another diluted form of Christianity. For lack of a better term, I will call it the cause Christianity. For those involved here, Christianit is another name for those that support their cause-whether Biblical, a-biblical (not for or against), or un-biblical. Some fundamentalist have done this with their Fundamentalism; but they are not alone. Everyone seems able to define Christian however they please in our world. For crying out loud, sodomites have used this same idea to support outright sinful perversion. Christianity is not a code word for your cause; and God is never on your side-you always have to be on His side. (Joshua 5:13-14) Saying or acting like Christianity is somehow summed up in a political, denominational, social, or even religious cause is wrong.

The best is hard to live, and right is not easy. It’s simple though. Here is the deal-If you want to be a truly Biblical Christian, you have to live the Bible. That is both simple and difficult. Joshua was given the great charge of leading the people of God into battle; and before the conquest started, God gave Joshua the recipe for success. It’s Joshua 1:8. It include three simple steps: first, know God’s word; two, consider/apply God’s word; and three, follow God’s word. It’s not complicated and comes with a promise-You’ll be prosperous and have success.

Joshua, with that simple plan, conquered the enemies of God and acchieved victory. He was so close to God that, one day, Joshua commanded the sun and moon to stand still-and they did! God listened to a man-unlike anything that has happened before or since. (Joshua 10:14) Joshua made a revolutionary difference in his day and culture.

It could happen again. God hasn’t changed. But Joshua 10:14 happened after Joshua 1:8 and Joshua 5:13-14.  No one would expect that God would use a person to change the flow of human events if that person refused to listen to His word and His plan. God wasn’t on Joshua’s side: Joshua was on God’s side. Joshua read and followed God’s word and plan. That’s really the only way it will work.  

A couple of weeks ago, I thought about changing how I hand out tracks. I thought maybe I should say, “Join the Revolution.” It’s kind of silly, but theologically it’s right on the money. We are in a war-just like Joshua. We are also in enemy territory. (John 17:15) Each Christian should be a member of the real Earth Liberation Front–Helping free mankind from the bondage of sin and destiny of hell. And unlike environmental terrorists, we can actually make the world better for our having been here.

So, wanna join the revolution? It’s simple-know God’s word, consider and apply God’s word, follow God’s word. It will be a battle-the world wasn’t kind to Christ and won’t be to his followers. It might cost you-many have given their lives for true Christianity. But most importantly of all-you’ll be a success to God.


David M. Zahn