Welcome to the personal blog of Greg S. West; Jesus follower, family man, Christian apologist, and all-around egg head. Founder and editor of
The Poached Egg Christian Worldview and Apologetics Network and staff member at Ratio Christi.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tragedy Strikes the West Household! (or, My Dog Peed on CS Lewis)

For several days my son had been saying he smelled something bad in the living room, but no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t. I think my sense of smell has been desensitized due to being exposed to a lot of strong smelling chemicals at various places where I’ve worked. But, then one day, I was walking past my book case when I finally did unmistakably smell something bad—and to my horror, it smelled like urine, and on closer inspection, it was coming from the carpet directly in front of my bookcase. On even closer inspection, it was also coming from the bottom shelf of the bookcase itself. Nooooooooo!

The obvious suspect was (insert “Dragnet” theme song here) THE DOG! I can’t prove he did it, but the rest of the family doesn’t tend to relive themselves anywhere other than the bathroom. Now, our dog Petey is 100% potty trained, but does have the occasional accident (the time when we switched dog food brands on him was the worst!). I stood there in horror as my eyes zeroed in on my beautiful large hardback volume of The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics. Oye… that one was the biggest casualty and a total loss.

"I'm sorry. I just really had to go!"

A few of the books lost were inconsequential as they were just garage sale fodder, but the next biggest losses were the majority of my WWII biographies by some of the veterans portrayed the HBO’s Band of Brothers and The Pacific. With a huge sigh of relief I realized my autographed copy of (the now deceased) Buck Compton’s autobiography, Call of Duty: My Life Before, During and After the Band of Brothers, survived unscathed.

All in all, the money originally spent on the books that were ruined was in the 100s of dollars. Fortunately, I was able to replace most of them with relatively inexpensive used copies via Amazon third party sellers, but unfortunately, in my zeal to replace them I over extended our family budget quite a bit (helloooo Ramen noodles), but we’ll be okay. Sadly, though, I could not find the same edition of the CS Lewis book I had at a reasonable price so I had to settle for a much cheaper paperback version. Oh, well.

I have to admit that I was pretty darn mad at Petey for a few days, but in my anger I was reminded at how much worse were (are) my offenses against God and how quick he is in his mercy and grace to forgive me for them—and most of my offenses are (were) not as accidental or unintentional as Petey’s was, so needless to say, Petey is forgiven. Now, if I could just get him to quit eating my socks!

What are some of your “pet horror stories”? Feel free to share in the comments below…

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Greatest Generation: Why I'm Proud to be a Veteran

101st Airborne troops in France, 1944
When I was around twelve years old I read a book called, "The Screaming Eagles". It was about the 101st Airborne Division in World War II. I was astounded by the the heroic deeds of the men in this US Army division. This book was where I first learned about D-Day and The Battle of the Bulge. After reading it, I wanted nothing more than to be a US Army paratrooper.

While I was preparing to enlist in the army in 1985, I told the MOS (military occupational specialty) coordinator (the person the steers you into the job they want you to have) I wanted first and foremost to be a paratrooper, he informed me that there were no slots opened for that. When I told him that I would wait to enlist until there were, he amazingly enough managed to find me one. After basic training and AIT (advanced individual training), I would be heading to Ft. Benning, Georgia for Jump School.

After jump school I assumed I would be assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, since it was the US Army's only remaining airborne division. Out of tradition, the 101st still had "Airborne" as part of their title, but they were (and still are) instead, a helicopter assault division and not a paratrooper division. Oddly enough, I received orders for the 101st. I was disappointed that I would not be on jump status and missing out on the extra $110 a month hazard pay, but also proud that I would get to serve in such an esteemed unit.

Not long after I arrived at the replacement depot awaiting assignment to a specific unit, I was approached by two NCOs wearing the red berets of a paratrooper, who asked me if I wanted to to be a "lurp". I had no idea what a lurp was (actually, LRRP) so I asked and was told it was short for, "Long Range Recon Patrol", and that their unit was an all volunteer unit (you could not be unwillingly assigned) called the Long Range Surveillance Detachment and that if I met their higher physical standards (which I did), I could be a part of their unit and be on jump status.

Vietnam era 101st Airborne LRRPs
Over the next two years I made nearly parachute 40 jumps with the LRSD, 101st Airborne Division, before receiving orders for the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea, where I spent my last year in the army before my enlistment was up.

If I'm not mistaken, my old LRSD unit has since been disbanded and there are no remaining units in the 101st still on jump status. I really miss those guys and greatly regret not keeping in touch with all my old army buddies. It's now been more than 25 years since I was in the service, but I'm still proud to have served as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division.

But although I did a lot of crazy, dangerous, and often miserable duty- I was fortunate to have never seen combat because the time period that I was in (1986-1990) was a relatively peaceful one for America- I'm not proud because of any of my modest accomplishments, I'm proud because I followed in the footsteps of my heroes, those of America's Greatest Generation; those who fought, bled, served, and died defending our freedom from 1941 to 1945.

There are few WWII survivors left- we are losing about a thousand of these men and women every day and they will soon all be gone. This Memorial Day weekend I encourage you to get on Netflix or Amazon and watch Honor Flight- and make your kids watch it, too.

To all of our veterans and to those currently serving, my humble THANK YOU, is not nearly enough!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Two Favorite Things: Classic Rock & Live Music

Two of my favorite things are listening to classic rock music and going to concerts. Put those two things together and I'm sure it will be a time to remember- especially if I'm with my awesome beautiful wife or just some good friends who appreciate some of the same kind of music that I do.

 I've been going to rock concerts since I was a kid. The first show I saw was Head East in 1979. I was thirteen or fourteen years old at the time. Some of the bands I saw in the following years include Kansas, Heart, and even KC and the Sunshine Band, for those of you old enough to remember "disco". That was back in the days when I had the time to just sit and listen to hours of music with my headphones on (you're welcome, Mom & Dad).

Unfortunately, in those days, the ten to fifteen bucks for a concert ticket- not to mention transportation- was hard to come by, so I missed many of my favorite bands in their heyday. But fortunately, many of those bands and artists have enough of a following to keep touring some 30 years or so later.

The following is a list of bands and artists that I've had the privilege of seeing live through the years. Bands/artists I've seen multiple times are indicated with an asterisk. I'm not including Christian bands (with the exception of Stryper), because I've seen so many of those that I would inevitably leave many of them out- not to mention that many of them don't exist anymore.

The Alarm
Def Leppard
Head East
James Taylor*
Joan Jett
KC and the Sunshine Band
King's X*
Little River Band*
Molly Hatchet
Paul McCartney
Three Dog Night*
Trans Siberian Orchestra
Ugly Kid Joe
White Lion

A few bands that I regret not having seen yet (or will perhaps never have the opportunity to) are: Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, and The Eagles.

What are some of your favorite artists/bands that you've seen live, or would like to see?

Monday, August 4, 2014

My day at an apologetics conference representing Ratio Christi

Greg Koukl and Greg West (I'm the Greg on the right. Photo by Derrick Sisney)
What a thrilling day it was last Saturday at a mini apologetics conference put on by Solace Church in Tulsa, OK! It was quite a privilege to be invited to represent Ratio Christ at this event and a real honor to be able to share the same stage (albeit briefly) with two of my favorite apologists, Frank Turek and Greg Koukl, who were the two presenters at this one day free event.

While manning the Ratio Christi info table with the help of my friend and future Ratio Christi chapter director, Gary Mundt (an MA student in BIOLA's apologetics program), I was able to reconnect with friends I'd previously met from the area (Luke Nix, Caleb Steele, & Jim Burkett among others), make some new friends, and put some faces on a few people I'd only previously known via social media. Quite a few folks made it a point to let me know that they were followers of The Poached Egg and what a valuable resource it is to them. Yep, that always makes my day- but most importantly, I had the opportunity to talk to people about Ratio Christi.

If you're in the dark about what exactly Ratio Christi is and does, please stay tuned as I'll get to that momentarily. First I'd like to tell you a little more about the conference itself.

In the a.m., Frank Turek of Cross Examined lectured on arguments from his book (co-authored with Norman Geisler), I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, with a special focus on the moral, cosmological, and teleological arguments for the existence of God. Frank is not only a great teacher who presents these arguments laymen's terms, but he's very funny and entertaining as well. If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend going to see Frank Turek present if he's ever at an event in your area.

And the same could be said for Stand to Reason's Greg Koukl, author of one of the best books (if not the best) out there on how to effectively argue the truth claims of Christianity, Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions. After the lunch break Greg lectured on some of the highlights of this book, with the main focus being on what he calls the Columbo Tactic- and if you ever see Greg don a trench coat, pull out a (plastic) cigar and do his hilarious Detective Columbo impression, you won't soon forget it! The 'game plan' Greg spoke on takes away the fear of engaging in discussions on spiritual matters that can open doors to sharing the Gospel.

On of the things that struck me in particular was that many, if not the majority, of the 400 or so people in attendance seemed to be new to apologetics, and I noticed that  many of those were purchasing copies of both Koukl's and Turek's fore-mentioned books which got me pretty stoked! All in all it was a great day of fellowship, fun, and learning for everyone who came.

At the conclusion of the event, Gary and I took up our post back at the Ratio Christi information table and continued to talk to people and answer their questions. Some people asked if we had chapters or would be starting them in their area, and some shared stories of their children or other young people they knew who had walked away from the faith after having been raised in church and in a Christian home...

This is why the campus ministry of Ratio Christi is so vital today- forming student apologetics clubs on college campuses around the world, which in Western culture is one of the most hostile environments towards Christianity. RC places trained apologists as chapter directors of these student clubs to help them learn how to defend and commend the truth claims of Christianity- RC is even beginning to reach out to high school students, with our recently launched College Prep Program. And RC is not just about helping students keep their faith intact, it's also about equipping them to be better equipped evangelists. A Christian who is confident in their faith is more likely to be enthusiastic about sharing that faith. I know that from my own personal experience. 

In the last few years, RC has experienced nearly exponential growth, from having chapters on just ten campuses to over 130 today. The demand for new chapters on more campuses has outgrown our current infrastructure's ability to keep up. Although we are slowly growing our staff, and more and more regular donors are getting on board, we are still desperately short of where we need to be in manpower and funding. If you can help by partnering with us financially, you can do so through my donation page via The Poached Egg here. If you are unable to participate with us financially, there are many other ways in which you can help. Simply visit the Ratio Christi website for more information. 

Now in my late 40's, I myself was raised in the church and in a Christian home and yet walked away from the faith and became an agnostic in my early twenties. Sadly, my story is even more common today among young people than it was then, but with your help we can turn the tide!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Hardy Boys

Reading the "Hardy Boys" to my son. I guess we'll have to re-read this chapter tomorrow as I don't know when to quit.

So far, we have read, The Hobbit, CS Lewis' The Magician's Nephew, and a few others.

I remember my Dad reading the Hardy Boys to me when I was about the same age, and soon after, I started reading them myself. I have VERY fond memories of my Dad reading to me, and I hope Jeremiah will someday as well (possibly when he's reading to his son).

Here's to lifelong learning and a love of reading...

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A new home for my family (and a few books)

Although I've helped family and friends with moving more times than I can count, and have moved myself several times, I never realized what a pain moving was until I moved my own family for the first time. It's not the packing and the transferring of furniture and belongings from one residence to another that is such a pain- while although it's hard work, it's really not that big of a deal compared to unpacking and getting everything the way you want in your new house.

Case in point: While we were fortunate enough to have a family member graciously offer to pay for movers to come and move our heavy furniture, we moved everything else ourselves and it took me three days just to get all of my books transferred over to the new house- and once I got them all there I had nowhere to put them other than in the boxes I brought them over in.

In our old place I'd had a custom bookshelf built that held most of them, but I see now that it was a BIG mistake to have the bookshelves built as a permanent part of the house. Tired of the boxes of books being obstacles to getting my family settled in, I decided to take it upon myself to build my own bookshelves this time, only ones that could be dismantled and moved if necessary. Although I'm very much inclined to stay here until the day I die, I suspect there will be at least one or more moves before then as such is the nature of things.

The shelves in the photo below are the final result of three solid days of working on them (and no, I don't plan on staining and polishing them- I think they're fine the way the are as I happen to like the natural look). A skilled carpenter could have likely done the whole project in less than a day, but as I quickly discovered, I'm not a skilled carpenter, and one can see on close inspection (or even in the photo), that many of my measurements were a bit off. Regardless of that fact, I'm happy with the results.

It took me another solid day's work to get my books unpacked and on the shelf in the order I wanted them. The entire assembly is nearly 13 feet long and just under 7 tall. It holds my entire library plus some of my multimedia which I included space for in the middle top two shelves. My Bibles are all on the top of the shelves and my apologetics books take up seven rows.

And guess what else? As you can see at the bottom right hand side, I still have room for a few more books...

Monday, April 7, 2014

Some things you may not know about me (in pictures)

I may or may not be guilty of having taken scripture out of context. That's me gulping water just before getting completely lost. Late the next day we ran into a park ranger who pointed us back to civilization. He said it was just two miles up the trail. Little did I know those two miles were nearly vertical.
I used to skydive.

I was single until I was 42 when I married the love of my life. It's a good thing because I was getting tired of being invited to the divorce recovery group at church.
We have the world's largest lap dog. He literally sits on his mom's lap at least once a day.
Our son makes an awesome Indiana Jones!
I love napping with the dog in my man cave!
I 'd never had a poached egg in my life until just this year. I love 'em!
I have 3 tattoos.

                                      I think tranquilized bears falling out of trees is both funny and sad at the same time.