12.24.2005

The Republicans Have Lost My Vote

Why?

Searching without a warrant
Torture
Incarceration without a trial
Spending
Arrogance

Of course the Democrats never had my vote.
Why?

Abortion
Spending
Left wing radicalism
Arrogance

So if any one has any ideas on a good third party, let me know.

If you want the long version of why I have shifted, keep reading.


Five years ago I was a complete Bush apologist. I was so gung-ho about him that even before I knew about blogs, I would e-mail editorials to my friends, (which I doubt they read ; ) )

Why did I support Bush? I thought he was a real Christian. (I still think he is sincere) He is pro life. He talked about keeping the military home prior to 9.11. And he talked about "compassionate conservatism" and faith based initiatives.

I completely supported him after 9.11, and on Iraq, because I believed that Iraq could develop weapons of mass destruction. And I didn’t really think it mattered that Saddam wasen’t tied to 9.11. He was a terrorist of his own peple and paid the families of Palastinean suicide bombers thousands of dollers. The guy was evil and I thought he should go.

Today, I am officially saying I am no longer a Bush supporter, nor a Republican supporter. In the past I would always say I was independent, but in reality, I always voted Republican.

Why have I shifted? A couple of things. I have libertarian sympathies that Republicans have completely not lived up to. My view of morality in politics has shifted, which is to say, I have a greater concern for the environment and the poor. Though I’m not really convinced that government can solve these problems, as long as were going to run a deficit budget, I would rather spend it on the poor than the military and corporate welfare. As far as the military is concerned, I want a top-notch military, just smaller, and with less un-necessary weapons.

The thing that provoked this post though is the spying on Americans. That is the last straw. I no longer trust Bush, and if he broke the law, I say impeach him. I don’t care if every time it occured it was warranted, and didn’t really hurt anyone. It is a horrible precedent, and completely inexcusable! What is protection from terrorists if we give up what they are trying to take away? When you add this to torture and incarceration without a trial, we are looking remarkably similar to a police state.

I would love to see a third party emerge, so in the future, that is almost certainly who I will be voting for, someone other than a Republican or a Democrat.

12.21.2005

Happy Anniversary


We spent the weekend in San Diego celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary. (Dec 20th) Have I ever mentioned I have a great wife? I do, I have a GREAT wife, a beautiful wife, a sporting wife, a great cooking wife, (I cook too though not nearly as well) a wife who loves and respects me, and most importantly, a wife who puts God first.

Joey, I don’t know what I would do without you. Thank you so much for marrying me, I am truly a blest man because of it.

Being Church

So in my last post I promised to share what I think it “really means to be the church”. The following is by no means exhaustive either on the subject or my own perspective. Please read the two previous post’s to put this one in perspective. Doing so will help you know where I’m coming from.

With the problems of consumerism and individualism as givens, the idea of “going to church” (a flawed thought to begin with, but you know what I mean) needs to be transferred to the home/cell/small, whatever you call it, group. This is because the traditional worship service/sermon format only aids and abets the evils of consumerism and individualism. (yes, small groups can do this too) However, that doesn’t mean that we need to do away with the weekend service, though I think this may be wise in many cases. What I really want to advocate is not so much a shift in actions, though that is inevitable, but more a shift in definitions, and focus.

The leadership of a given body of Christians should focus their efforts, time, energy, etc, on the small groups and their leaders. The primary teaching and worship time should be in the small group. If people can only make one event on a given week it should be their small group. When people say “I’m going to church” they should mean their small group. Ideally this phrase would fall out of use. Instead people should talk about being the church, and spending time with their extended family, their small group. It wouldn’t be about going to get something, but about being there for your extended family.

What happens at a given small group needs to be indigenous to the local area, so I can hardly speak for everyone, but this is one snapshot. On Sunday mourning 6-15 people meet in a home for brunch, say 9ish. Fellowship and eating last an hour. This is a time for people to be real with each other, to be honest, sharing their joys and pains, being a family. Then people gather for worship through art. (i.e. music, reflective painting, poem or scripture readings, etc…) This would last 45 minutes give or take. Then there is a short 15 minute monologue lesson on a given topic. Think imaginatively here. It could be the small group leader, a Hollywood movie scene, the “head pastor” or another person via a recording, or a news snippet. Are you worried about all the small groups being on the same page? With the right set-up, the head pastor could digitally tape a short lesson and e-mail it to the small group leaders along with a lesson plan each week. The purpose of this 15 minutes of teaching is to frame a conversation in which the real learning takes place, a typical small group discussion lasting for an additional 15-45 minutes. (how often have pastors bemoned the fact that little "sticks" through mere audio learning?)

A group like this can better embody what it means to “be the church”, being family, carrying and loving one another. A second weekly church event could center around serving others, missional fellowship, or a time of large group teaching and worship (what we usually consider going to church today)

Obviously this is not original with me, many churches are already doing this, and I simply know about it from discussions in class. But I am very quickly beginning to “own” the perspective. What may make me different than many is that I don’t think it is the end all be all of being the church in the 21st century. Rather I want churches to consider what it looks like to “be church” in their zip code, confronting the bad and affirming the good.

Starting a new church along these lines would be relatively easy compared to transitioning a church with the old paradigm. Therein lies the challenge I have really been thinking about. Obviously, in that setting one would need to move slowly and cautiously. In the beginning I think you would try to simply change the definitions. You may do very little differently in either the cell group or the weekend church service, but slowly, in conversations and teaching, you would move the locus of the church from the weekend service to the small group. Then, when people really began to own their small group, and consider it an extension of their family, you could begin to phase out the weekend service; if that was the appropriate thing for your setting. This is just a guess, but I think a transition of this nature may take 5 years, give or take.

Having said all this, remember I’m just a 24 year-old seminarian who has no experience yet thinks he knows everything. ; )

God bless, and please leave some feedback, good or bad. Your comments will help me think about this critically.

12.16.2005

The Medium is Not Condusive to the Message

A couple days ago I pointed out that “seeker sensitive: may be more “missional” than some would like to imagine. But today I’ll give you the critique of the “seeker sensitive” model. This post and the previous post come out of a 10 page paper I turned in this past quarter entitled Seeker Sensitive and Missional? In it I offered not only the critiques but the responses as well. If you want a copy of my ramblings, just e-mail me.

So what are those things that are said to be sinful about the “seeker sensitive” approach? Below are two of them. (and here, here, here, and here are a whole bunch more)

The first is that it does not present the “whole” gospel, a critique levied by both conservatives and progressives. A conservative perspective would point out that many of the sermons preached in the Bible were hardly of a seeker sensitive nature. Instead, we have Peter forcefully telling the people of Jerusalem that it is they who are responsible for crucifying Jesus. Whatever part of the Gospel is shared in a seeker sensitive way, it is usually not the part about judgment, and sin. The more progressive in the Church would like to point out that most suburban churches are likely to have a reduced view of what the gospel or “good news” is. “What about the serving the poor and the sick?” they would say. “What about justice, and systemic evil?”

A second critique has its genesis in the person of Marshall McLuhan, who said, concerning communication, "the medium is the message" (This is a huge concept that I’m not going to go into here. Click the link to find out more.) With this in mind, pastors have some serious thinking to do. If it is true that two of the most potent, anti-gospel aspects of our society are consumerism and individualism, what does that say about the mediums we use to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ?

In a seeker sensitive service, nothing is done to confront them. Even if the words of the sermon address it, the medium encourages it. In most mega churches, individuals come with a great deal of anonymity, and effectively consume the worship. They get an emotional high from the professionals up front, without ever participating in a real community. Even for the serious Christian, the format of the mega church worship service is highly individualistic. It is one way, from the professional to the customer; and at best, returned one way, from individuals to God, irrespective of what is happening around them.

How is my neighbor this morning? Do I know their name? Could they tell me if there was a crisis in their life? Would I tell them if there was one in mine? The seeker sensitive worship service is not conducive to what it really means to be the Church.

So what does it “really mean to be church”, I don’t know. But that won’t stop me from telling you what I think in my next post. But before I do, what do you think?

12.14.2005

Every theology has a context...

To understand many of the methods in this book, you need to understand the context in which they were developed. Otherwise, you might be tempted to copy things we did without considering the context. Please do not do this! Instead look beneath the methods to see the transferable principles on which they are based.

I decided we would make no effort to attract Christians from other churches to _______. We would not even borrow workers from other area churches. Since I felt called to reach unbelievers, I determined to begin with unbelievers.

You won’t be able to transfer our context. Every church operates in a unique cultural setting. To artificially plant a _______ clone in a different environment is a formula for failure.

So which cutting edge, emerging church, missional guru said all this?

None. They are the teachings of non other than the routinely disparaged, Rick Warren, in his much maligned book, The Purpose Driven Church. (at least here at Fuller.)

It’s not even him so much, at least not him as a person, rather it’s his way of doing church, a way that is said to be, on it’s best day, not sufficiently cognisant of its culture, and on it’s worst…down-right evil. More on that tomorrow.

What I’m getting at with these quotes is that while there may be some valid critiques of the “seeker sensitive” approach, I think what happens at many “seeker sensitive” churches may be more missional than some might like to imagine.

Think about it. If your trying to reach culturally Christian suburbanites, many of whom work in a corporate environment, is it any surprise that CEO models of pastoring, combined with a “professional” service flourish?

I like much of what I hear in the “emerging” conversation at Fuller and in blog land, and I’ll probably end up being involved in some of it. But I think that all too often there is a bad case of group think going on. What is being suggested is good, but it’s not gospel, and I believe that many that don’t speak emergingese or missionese are doing it none-the-less.

The emerging church does not have a corner on being missional in the west.

12.12.2005

Ten on Three

This past quarter I took three classes: Christian Ethics, Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) and Forming the People of God. Here they are in ten words or less.

Christian Ethics: Euthanasia...Pacificism...Kingdom of God...Systemic Evil.

Pentateuch: Exegeses...Higher Criticism...Judgment & Mercy...God’s Narrative

Forming the People of God: Missional...Discipleship...Culture...Forms of Church...Practical Helps...Legal FYI’s

The best part of each though were the prof’s. A professor makes or breaks a class. Fortunately I had three really good one’s this past quarter, Mark Lau Branson, Erin Dufault-Hunter, and James Butler

12.11.2005

Missionaries Get the Emerging Church

Ryan had this to say about his conversations with missionaries on the emerging church.

"...What resonated with him? A focus on Jesus stories, yep. All of life sacred, no split -- yep. Church service replaced by hospitality as the primary connecting point, check. Dialog in humility, acknowledging errors, yes. Recognizing truths in the host culture and religion, yes. Holy Spirit was there before the missionary, yes. Indigenous local, almost pagan looking worship, yes. Leadership in teams, yes. Lots of prayer and spiritual activities outside the service, yes, yes, yes..."

Read the whole post here.

12.10.2005

"He's not a tame lion ya know, but he is a good lion."
Mr. Tumnus

New Job

Finished up my second day on a new job yesterday. I’m working as a “recycling specialist” for a company called Tomrah Recycling. Basically I help you sort your recyclables, weed out the stuff we don’t pay for, weigh it, and print your cash voucher. I think its going to be great cause I don’t have to do much thinking, and I get to rub shoulders with some great people.

At our site, people can turn in their cans one of two ways. They can use a “reverse vending machine”, or if you have a lot of stuff (or not) I can weigh it.

12.09.2005

Done!

Yahoo!!! I'm finally done with my finals. I just printed my last paper, so for the next 25 days, I have nothing to worry about in conjunction with school. Meaning I can get back to a normal routine, which coincidentally includes blogging. I look forward to telling y'all about what they been learning me in this hear school, so stay tuned for more wild tales from the crypt (i.e. cemetery, i.e. seminary)

12.01.2005

Missional Small Groups

There is a church in Las Vegas in which only 14 of their 25 small groups are listed in the church service directory. Why? Because the other 11 don’t have a start/stop time.

Instead they function as a family, 2’s and 3’s getting together several times a week, most of the group getting together once or twice a week for whatever, celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, just generally being a family, being the people of God. Not that they are totally insular, plenty of new people come; the friends of the people that are already a part of it, in fact at any given time, as many as 50% of the people might not identify themselves as Christians.

Got any thoughts, what might the pros and cons be?

11.29.2005

You Might Live In Wisconsin If...

If you have ever refused to buy something because it's "too spendy", you might live in Wisconsin.

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from November through March, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you have worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you might live in Wisconsin.

If your town has an equal number of bars and churches, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you have had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you know how to say Oconomowoc, Waukesha, Menomonie & Manitowoc, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you think that ketchup is a little too spicy, you might live in Wisconsin.

If you have either a pet or a child named "Brett," and know how to pronounce "Favre" correctly, you might live in Wisconsin.

11.28.2005

Focus on the Family

When Jesus focused on the family here is some of what he had to say.

Luke 12
51Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.
52From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three.
53They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

Mark 3
31Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.
32A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, "Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you."

33"Who are my mother and my brothers?" he asked.
34Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers!
35Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."

Matthew 19
29And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother[f] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

Luke 14
26"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.

11.27.2005

Thanksgiving in Phoenix

Zipped out to phoenix to see Joey’s great aunt…had a good time…saw my cousin and his fiancé as well…that was cool…Phoenix is a nice city, very new…and the drive wasn’t bad for a six hour haul.

11.23.2005

A Non-Sensical Question

Tony said:

About then, another guy spoke up: "OK, then why don't you just put the argument to rest and make a definitive statement about what Emergent believes about absolute truth."

I replied, "Emergent doesn't have a position on absolute truth, or on anything for that matter. Do you show up at a dinner party with your neighbors and ask, 'What's this dinner party's position on absolute truth?' No, you don't, because it's a non-sensical question."

So true.

11.22.2005

Saddleback Critiques

So I visited Saddleback Church this past Sunday. It was part of an assignment for which we have to visit a church and ask two questions based simply on our observance of one service, what does this community understand the word “church” to mean, and what does it understand the word “gospel” to mean?

There are no shortage of critiques of the “seeker sensitive mega-church” model. They are generally along the lines of wattering down the gospel, being too individualistic, not being critical enough of the corporate jargon it is swalling, and on the whole being a fairly singular model. (i.e. white, suburban, middleclass)

I think many of these are valid, but I’m starting to tire of all the complaining I hear. (some other time we will have to talk about the difference between a “critique” and a “complaint” if there is one)

If my favorite model (this month), the house church, was sweeping the nation, no doubt there would be no shortage of critiques of that, probably along the lines of also being too individualistic, possibly cultic, power abuses, no accountability, etc...

So in response to the critiques of the mega church model I’m starting to ask questions like:

Would a missional community with high church sympathies look a lot like saddleback?

or

How would a church in Orange County that is "true to it’s zip code" be different than Saddleback?

Got some thoughts? Go ahead and leave a comment.

11.18.2005

The Context of the Law

My Pentateuch proff made some good points in class yesterday.

He asked, “What do we do with the mosaic law, particularly the parts we find shameful, for instance laws regulating the treatment of slaves, or the prefrences given to men?”

The “right” answer is along these lines. Divide it up into three categories, ceremonial, civil and moral, with only the latter applying to us today. The problem, (as it so often is) is in the application. For starters we often write off huge sections of the Bible without giving them a second thought, and when it comes to deciding what parts are moral, we pick and choose.

Instead, Butler suggested, we should try and find the point behind the civil or ceremonial law, asking, “what is the contemporary equivalent?”

In other words, it’s all about, that’s right, my favorite word, drum roll please…

…contextualization, du da!

Of course this is fraught with problems too, people being what they are, we are apt to contextualize the meaning right out of a passage. There are certainly times when the meaning is all too clear, but we just don’t want to hear it.

That said, take a new look at Leviticus, and ask the question, what is the contemporary analogy, or at the very least the principle behind the rule.

Here are a fiew just for fun.

Lev 4
13 If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD's commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, they are guilty.

Lev 7
22 The LORD said to Moses, 23 Say to the Israelites: 'Do not eat any of the fat of cattle, sheep or goats.

Lev 19
9 When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.

33 When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. 34 The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

11.14.2005

My Redemer died...for what?

Some thoughts on the question I asked last week.

"If Jesus came to redeem the world, why isn't the world more redeemed?"

First a recap of the responses I got, they basically fell into two categories, the “God is sovereign” crowd, and the “we have free will” crowd, both of which have there own way of accounting for this very serious question. I think that answers on both sides were true to their perspective, and of course one must be more right than the other (or maybe they're both wrong ; ) However this is not a debate I am in the mood for today.

I think the question above, is really about an entirely different subject. The question by itself has a technically correct answer, but the question rarely stands by itself, rather it is asked by real, hurting, people that can’t imagine a good God allowing the reality that is their circumstances.


If when talking with an actual person in search of an answer, we reply with a “O’ it could be so much worse”, or a “God didn’t cause it, he only allowed it” we are not doing ourselves, our God, or our hearer any favors. Are these answers correct, sure, do they suffice, NO!

My non-answer, leans on the Roman Catholic perspective which is much more conscious of our suffering Savior.

Our God DIED! God’s don’t die, yet ours did…

As protestants we tend to say, “Jesus died and ROSE AGAIN!”, but we do so at the expense of the DIED part.

What this means is that Jesus, better than anyone else, can identify with our suffering. Regardless of what the “right” answer is, to the “why?” question, we have a hope that words can not express, and a God who understands grief that words can not express. Which is important because it is often unspeakable grief, or identification there with, that provides the motivation for the question.

So if asked “…why isn’t the world more redeemed” point people toward the cross, and not just the empty cross, but the one with a tortured Christ as well, a Christ that understands that we too suffer, sometimes unspeakably.

Maybe then the questioner will be able to hear the “right” answer.

C.S. Lewis - An Evangelical?

My friend and community mate, Greg, makes some great points in regard to a recent Christianity Today article about C.S. Lewis. Read it here.

As a side note, I must say Greg, I'm suprised to find you reading Christianity Today. ; )

11.12.2005

McLaren at Fuller

On Tuesday I attended a lecture given by Bryan McLaren. Here are a few of his points in no particular order.

Many are rightly against various dangerous risks in postmodernism.
What about modernity? What are the dangers there?
If we are going to complain that postmodernism has terrible side affects, will the church offer an alternative, or will it continue to protect excessive confidence.

This modernity vs postmodernity debate is the tale side of the coin.
Instead lets talk about colonialism and post-colonialism.
How have the things that led to colonialism infiltrated our own churches?

We often package the “West” with the Christian faith.
People of the 2/3 world are trying to figure out how to un-bundle JC from the “West”.
The “gospel” of the west is entirely too thin.

We can say unequivocally that the world is changing, period! Epistemology and postmodern debates are the past; they are a “Western” debate that has nothing to do with where we are emerging to. They can only be useful if they help us move into the present.

My reaction: cautious acceptance. I have no doubt that the way the world and people see themselves has already changed and will continue to do so. What to do about it is the big question. In one sense I have the answer, “be missional”, don’t just do stuff, stuff at times called missions or evangelism, stuff divorced from our regular lives, but rather be something, be missional, be the church, be who Christ created you to be.

Now…what does that look like? I have no idea…ok I have some ideas, but I wouldn’t call them facts, and I certainly wouldn’t prescribe them for your use, what “being” looks like is something you and your community in conjunction with the Holy Spirit will have to decide, and not just once, but maybe everyday.

ok...not really everyday ; )

11.10.2005

Homosexual Politics

Another post direct from ethics class. We are discussing homosexuality, and the professor is asking for suvility, saying that good people disagree, and that is comes down to hermenutics, which at a certain level is correct, but it goes so much deeper than this. On both sides the battle lines are drawn, and long ago we became enemies. If I am a homosexual, I am not going to put up with you denegrating who I am, and it is not simply a hermenutical dispute.

My response: Call it what it is, we're enemies...

...but love your enemies!

I.e. not Jesus busting out the whip, but Jesus becoming human for our sake, dying for our sake, reconciling us to himself.

What would it look like for us to stand firm in our commitments, yet truly love our enemies?

11.09.2005

My Redemer lives...for what?

I would love to get some feedback on this next question.

"If Jesus came to reedem the world, why isn't the world more redeemed?"

It is a question that Jews in light of the Holocaust, and others questioning the Messiahship of Jesus, have been asking for centuries.

Got a thought...an answer...or maybe a followup question?

Go ahead and leave a comment, lets get some dialog going on this one. I'll share my own thoughts in a future post.

11.06.2005

Kid Engages in "Higher Criticism" ; )

Nine year old Joey was asked by his mother what he had
learned at Sunday school.

"Well, Mom, our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind
enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelites out of
Egypt.

When he got to the Red Sea, he had his engineers build a
pontoon bridge and all the people walked across safely.

"Then he used his walkie - talkie to radio headquarters for
reinforcements. They sent bombers to blow up the bridge and
all the Israelites were saved."

"Now, Joey, is that really what your teacher taught you?"
his mother asked.

"Well, no, Mom. But if I told it the way the teacher did,
you'd never believe it!"

11.05.2005

Ethics in Teaching and Learning

Not surprisingly there is such a thing as teaching ethics, or theology, or whatever, ethically, much of which has to do with presenting the arguments of your adversaries fairly. It is on this point that I believe churches fail too often. In many instances we don’t even present the other side, and when we do, it is often a caricature, a paper tiger to be knocked over. I'm not saying one needs to be exaustive, and there are clearly situations in which this would be ridiculous, but at the end of the day, we often don't treat our adversaries fairly.

I think the reason this happens is not entirely malicious, rather it has a lot to do with people not knowing or understanding what one’s opponent believes, which raises questions about how or why we come to believe, whatever we believe.

Think about it, why do you believe?

Ok, so you read A Case for Christ, did you read A Case for Muhammad? (not a real book)

You’re a Calvinist, as is your mother and the pastor of the church she took you to your entire life; have you read any other perspective?

What are we afraid of?

If a given belief is correct, it will stand up under the most withering examination.

11.04.2005

Job?

So I'm looking for a job. Retail would work because I am interested in retail management, and communication consulting would be great because that is what I did my undergrad studies in. Some type of non-proff would work as well. So if you know of anyone hiring that wants one of the best associates in the world drop me a line, or e-mail me at davidbest2000@yahoo.com

11.03.2005

Pentateuch Mid-Term

Want to know what type of questions appear on a graduate level Biblical studies test? Here are a few.

Essay Questions
Gerhard von Rad has pointed out that the episodes of Genesis 1-11 are linked by the themes of the spread of human sin and the recurring response of God’s grace. Discuss this scheme, and show how it links the Primeval History of Gen 1-11 with the Patriarchal narratives of Gen 12-50.

In Gen. 12:1-3, Abraham is called to take up a promise. Show how the rest of the Abraham and Sarah stories are organized around the themes of this promise. In what ways can the promise of these verses be traced beyond Abraham to the rest of the Old Testament?

As a result of the archeological discoveries of the 19th-20th centuries, modern interpreters of the opening chapters of Genesis have been confronted with a wealth of comparative material from the ancient Near East. Discuss the ways in which these extra-Biblical parallels may illumine our studies of the opening chapters of Genesis, citing some specific examples from the accounts of Creation or the Flood. Be as specific as possible in alluding to details, both of the ancient Near Eastern texts (naming the texts, the characters, the situations, etc.) and of the Biblical accounts to which you are comparing them.

Identify each of the following with a word, phrase, or brief sentence:
--the occupation of Abel and of Cain
--the third son of Adam and Eve, “instead of Abel”
--Lamech, husband of Adah and Zillah
--he “walked with God; and he was not, for God took him”
--the three sons of Noah
--the son of Noah from whom Abraham was descended
--pillar of salt
--Moab and Ben-ammi
--Ishmael
--Abimelech, king of Gerar
--the land of Moriah
--the land of Nod
--Jacob's father-in-law

10.31.2005

Don't Sodomize Your Neighbor

(Last day on the soap box, I promise)
So yesterday we talked about who our neighbor might be. I’m pretty sure that the story of the good Samaritan in Luke 10 makes it clear that our neighbors include people of different races and from different parts of the world. Now juxtapose that story with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Why did they get the shaft? Cause they engaged in rape and sodomy right?

"Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy."
Exekiel 16:49

10.30.2005

Being Different

My last post talked about “the way we live”.

When my father was growing up “the way they (conservative christians) lived” was something along the line of, “don’t smoke or drink or curse, or go with girls that do.” More recently, various national political stances have been the determining factor of "the way we vote"; something true for people on both sides of the aisle.

As we seek to be people of “the way”, let me suggest that being different should encompass one’s whole being, not simply positions on peripheral issues, important as these may be.

We who call ourseleves Christians need to ask ourseleves, how different are our lifstyles compared to our neighbors? (and for that matter, who is my neighbor?) Sure, I do this, or don't do that, I may even "have a relationship with Jesus." But is the way we live really that different?

I don't think it is...

...except maybe in one area, we (those who have the means and time to read a blog) have a hell of a lot more money than most people, more than 5,566,727,941 to be exact. (give or take a few million)

10.28.2005

The Way

"The early followers of Jesus Christ were not called people of “the experience,” or the people of the “right doctrine,” or the people of “moral values,” or even the people of “the church.” They were called people of “the Way.” They were known for the way they lived, not only for what they believed or valued."

Inagrace T. Dietterich
Cultivation Missional Communities
Center for Parish Development

10.27.2005

Voice over IP

(warning, total advertisement below)

I just got hooked up with a new Voice over IP (internet protocol or VOIP) account from SunRocket. So far so good, when I was shopping around they appeared to have the best features to price ratio, but that's just me. (believe me I”ll be blogging about it if it doesn’t work out)

There are a tone of features and the voice quality is as good if not better than a cell phone. If you have a cell phone (in case the internet connection is out and there is an emergency), voice over IP is the way to go. I paid a flat $200 annual fee ($16/month) for unlimited calling in the US and Canada, and 100 minutes of international calling, plus a ton of extra features. With my sister being overseas, that international time will come in handy. You can read more about all the different voice over IP services from a fairly objective sources at cnet.com

10.25.2005

Doing Ethics

So I’m sitting in Ethics class right now, (typing a blog post, how ethical is that? very, I think) discussing the systematic evil in our justice system. Here are a few of the questions asked:

"The numbers of minorities in prison is outrageous, why is that?"

"The sentencing for people guilty of similar crimes of different races is clearly disproportionate, why is that?"

"Why are so few people sentenced to death for murder, and why are those that are?"

Also discussed were the multiplicity of factors that contribute to crime, particularly juvenile crime.

So my question is, what can we actually do about it. The professor Dr. Dufault-Hunter, is suggesting advocacy, and that’s good, but what would you or I say to a judge or a cop that is in the system right now?

Hmmm…why don’t we ask the prof? (raising hand…waiting…still waiting, uh oh, were talking about something else now…o good were back to juvenile justice…still waiting…she’s looking at me, good, I get to ask my question)

Me: “What do we say to the cop or the judge that has to make a decision this afternoon?"

Prof: “we need to look at the sentencing, I think the judge we read about in No Matter How Loud I Shout, is a good example.”

Me: “about sentencing, earlier we were discussing the fact that so many minorities are in jail, and white people spend less time in jail than minorities for the same crime. These facts would appear to support sentencing guidelines, yet we have been critiquing sentencing guidelines, such as three strikes law, because they result in people going to jail for long periods of time for 3rd offenses of a minor nature. If not sentencing guidelines then what?”

Prof: “the answer goes back to the different levels of holistic ethics that we read about in Stassen and Gussen’s book, Kingdom Ethics, a lot of times we are talking at different levels.”

If you don’t find that answer satisfactory, your not alone, but to be fair it was a bit of an ambush on my part, and the subject as a whole is very challenging, not one that can be addressed in a short question and answer session.

Though I suspect that many of you would disagree quite a bit with Dr. Dufault-Hunter’s politics, I assure you she is none-the-less an excellent teacher.

A bit of reflection following the class period.

The major problem we discussed is the injustice in the penal system, particularly the juvenile justice system. I think there is a great deal of truth to what was brought up, but I’m much less enthusiastic about the solutions, or better stated, the lack there of. What I would like to hear is an actual judicial or legislative proposal, which to be fair I suppose is outside the scope of this class, still, I feel mildly cynical about the whole thing. We have a lot of “smart” students sitting around discussing these things, led by a really “smart” professor, but I wonder how realistic we are being? But then maybe unrealistic forward leaning ideas are a good thing, possibly even prophetic.

Theoretically, we are up on a hill able to rise above the day to day politics and see a clear way ahead, but what if we have climbed too far up the mountain, what if we are completely out of touch with what is happening down below. I suspect that both realities are true to a certain degree. That said, in defense of the prof and others, the lack of a solution does not mean we should not discuss the problems. On the contrary, it is only when we are willing to discuss things that a solution can be imagined.

10.21.2005

New Features

Got a couple new features on this site. They are in the right hand colum, scroll down to check them out. The first is a visitor map, if you’re a regular (or not) I would love to have your pin on here. The second is “Today in history”, which is always fun.

10.20.2005

Postmodern Vocab 101

New cultures require new words, (as do new theologies driven by new cultures) Here are three.

YOUniverse - This gets at the idea that everything can be customized, cell phones, cars, even jeans. No one wants to be a generic “everyman”. We want the power, and for a price, you can have it.

Massclusivity - Every one wants to feel special, wants to feel like a celebrity, wants to think they are getting an exclusive deal that no one else is offered. So while your local retail store won’t shut the place down for you like they would for some superstar, you can get a credit card with all kinds of benefits, special passes to clubs, invitation only extras if you spend X number of dollars, airline clubs, etc…

Gravanity - Graffiti + Vanity – This goes hand in hand with YOUniverse. People want to leave their mark, they love the glory of the byline. Hence custom play lists, blogs, websites and the like. You can have a My Yahoo, a My Discover card, a My ESPN. We leave our mark wherever we can, and in this culture, that is predominately in cyberspace.

10.16.2005

Be Missional...Wherever

This is one of the best posts I have seen on what it means to be missional, what it means to move from “doing” to “being”. That said, I still had to critique it.

So I left this comment: Ryan, On this: "Worship must reflect the culture of the community that is currently part of the church, not replicate current worship CDs, nor 1980s soft rock, nor 18th century hymns."

What if the culture of the church is one of those things listed?

I echo John Morehead's friends in asking, why the either or?

I love what the emerging church conversation is being, but I'm just as proud of what others are doing.(yes I know the being/doing thing is the problem)

What would it look like to be missional, that is, to apply your principles, in rural Wisconsin, (where I’m from) or the average suburb? It might look more like what too many on the emerging church scene deride than they would like to imagine.

Having said that, this is a great summery of what it is to be missional, and I will definately be using it to help those of us in non-urban environments become more missional.

10.15.2005

My Water Bottle

So I was looking all over for my water bottle the other day, and not just at my house, but in classrooms I had been in, vehicles I had ridden in, the Fuller lost and found, everywhere.

I did finally find it…at the back of my fridge, which I’m sure illustrates some theological point…but I don’t care what it is and neither should you. : )

10.14.2005

Please Let Him Live

Thanks for all the great feedback concerning Andrew, and a special shout out to my intentional community for being so supportive. I really appreciate it guys!

I do feel a bit awkward telling this story, sharing how I feel (different from what I think) with the world. I don’t want any glory for myself, (people that say this usually want glory for themselves : ) ) Rather, I tell the story for the most part because in some ways, telling the story and sorting through the articles is therapeutic. (and painful) Additionally I wanted to make it easy for other people to get an idea of what happened.

In case it is unclear from my previous post’s and comments, I personally want Andrew to live. I am convinced that he will make a positive contribution to his piece of society. However, at the same time I have glimpsed some deep rage in myself, rage that is possibly righteous, possibly not, rage that demands justice, and for fleeting moments would like to carry it out myself. In a small way I identify with the victims as well. Both Joey and I, and the Schliepsiek’s (the victims) have been married for about two years, and were in the Air Force. The thought of someone slaughtering my wife the way Andrew slaughtered Andy and Jamie, puts a vengeance filled knife in my own hand; and I’m barely a secondary victim here, imagine how the families directly involved feel. However, at the end of the day, I am concerned for Andrew’s well being, and will do whatever I can to contribute to not only his health, but ultimately to the other people that he will make a positive impact on while in prison.

I think and act this way because of the Spirit of Jesus in me, which causes me to believe that this is the right thing to do, and which gives me the strength to do it. Apart from Jesus Christ, I almost certainly would not have made contact with Andrew after this all went down.

10.13.2005

"Lord Have Mercy"

Today my friend, Andrew Witt, was sentenced to death for brutally murdering Andy and Jamie Schliepsiek, and for attempting and nearly succeeding to murder Jason King.

Below are a few articles which sum up how the trial went, and what happened to bring this all about. But first a few words on how I feel:

Words cannot express my own tortured feelings on this case, though whatever pain I feel pales in comparison to that of the families directly involved.

My perpetual prayer is "Lord have mercy", which should not be construed as me hoping that Andrew is not put to death, which in turn should not be construed as me hoping that Andrew is put to death.

Never in my life have I ever been filled so simultaniously with both love and hate, anguish and malice, and all in an unspeakable disgusting amalgamation of various images of death.

But whatever my feelings, my calling is to befriend Andrew...and so I pray..."Lord have mercy".


Andrew Witt

The Story

Double-murder case to begin Tuesday at Robins

Accused airman faces hearing
(A description of what led up to the murders)

Airman was in ‘state of passion’ during murders, lawyer says


Family members give tearful testimony

Robins airman guilty on all counts in fatal stabbing spree

Family, friends testify on Witt's behalf during sentencing proceedings

Airman Witt gets death penalty

Haunting question remains unanswered in Robins killings
(a complete overview of the situation)

(this page will be updated as more stories come down. In the future you can access the page under Posts of Note in the right hand collum)

My other posts on this topic in chronological order
Feeling like Shit
Please Let Him Live

10.10.2005

Feeling Like Shit

I’m back from the murder trial of a childhood friend, Andrew, who I have re-befriended in light of the fact that he is now a convicted murderer, and has no friends. This was the first time I was away from my wife for an extended period so it was definitely nice to come home and connect with her again.

While in Macon, Georgia, I learned more details of the gut wrenching murders, and listened as members of the victim’s families described the horror of finding out about the demise of their loved ones. Needless to say, it was very painful…a huge understatement.

I then contributed my perspective of Andrew to the jury in an effort to save his life. It is the right thing for me to do, but I’m not sure that sparing his life is the right thing for the state to do. Yet, ironically, I am opposed to the death penalty for practical reasons, believing that some people are incarcerated and put to death that are innocent, not on purpose, of course, but because of direct or institutional racism, and an over-confidence in the authenticity of “eye witness” accounts. But, that’s another conversation.

Needless to say I have a lot on my mind, though for the moment I’m choosing not to deal with it, pretending that everything is fine now that I’m back in Pasadena, away from the heart wrenching reality of two lovers, forced to watch, listen and smell the love of their life being slashed to death…by my friend, Andrew Witt.

10.04.2005

Murder Trial

I’m in Georgia this week; I’ve been subpoenaed to testify as a character witness in the trial of a childhood friend charged with murder. You can read about the case here.

10.01.2005

Fall Classes

So after a certain amount of run around in my own mind, I finally know what classes I’m taking this fall.

Christian Ethics
Pentateuch
Forming the People of God: Congregational Praxis

In othe news, going to India for a year is looking like a more likely possibility, but only God knows what will actually happen at this point.

9.30.2005

Deleted Comments

A word on deleted comments, I only delete spam, something I've been getting alot of lately, and sometimes my own replies for various reasons. In an effort to prevent the spam I enabled word verification. Sorry for the hassel, but it prevents the time wasting spam.

9.29.2005

Long Day

Today has been a bit long. On tue and thur I have class at 8am, 1pm and 6:30pm So I just hang out at Fuller all day, it’s ok, but…

For dinner I had sushi, got to love CA. I can choose from good, Americanized, Mexican, SE Asian, or European food, in addition to good old fashioned hamburgers and pizza.

I haven’t listed my classes for the quarter here yet because I think I’m going to drop one of the classes.

When the prof first entered the room I had high hopes because he was wearing hiking shoes with his kakkies, but as it turns out our personalities just clash.

Today, he tried to say that pastors should get the entire tithe because one line does indeed say this. (Num 18:21) Never mind the fact that another verse says use the tithe to buy some beer, and a rib-eye for yourself. (Deu 12:17-19) The point being that you can’t make a direct translation of tithing passages into the contemporary setting. Which should be kind of obvious since the New Testament never uses the word tithe. Anyway, that was kind of the last straw, so I have to find another class to take.

That’s my day, what was yours like?

9.27.2005

Cool Friends

Two cool blogs for you to check out. One belongs to a friend I made in blogland who I met for the first time in person today, Kyle Bennett, who just arrived here in SoCal. The other belongs to a friend of mine, JR Rozko, who I just found out has a blog.

Both of these guys are fellow fuller fools, and both, like me, are studying theology and culture. Check them out for another perspective on the madness that is Fuller Seminary…a madness I thoroughly enjoy. : )

9.21.2005

A synopsis of my time with the Red Cross

This will simply be a synapses of my time with the American Red Cross, latter some reflections will follow. To see nearly 50 pictures, click here.

In the beginning there is a lot of waiting in line, and whole days are given up while the powers that be figure out what to do with the mass of humanity that has shown up on their doorstep. They were no more prepared to deal with this disaster than anyone else was, but unlike some organizations, they have responded admirably, it seems, at least that is my view from the bottom of the volunteer barrel.



Because they do not provide direct emergency assistance, the heat isn’t so hot on them. Their main deficiency is their inability to deal nimbly with the overwhelming number of volunteers, but to suggest that I or anyone could have done better given the circumstances would be naïve.

If you are thinking of volunteering, here is a snapshot of my experience. It’s not the whole story, but it’s my story.



I made my first contact to volunteer on a Friday, and was told to come back the following Tuesday for training. At that time, we were told we could expect to go out within 24 hours, but in reality we didn’t fly till Saturday. We arrived in Montgomery, Alabama, late on Saturday night, which was too late to be processed at the headquarters (HQ), so we went to a hotel. The next day we were in-processed in a haphazard manner, in which we were never quite sure what or where we were supposed to be. Once we were done with the paperwork, we settled in to wait in the outgoing volunteer area, where people chatted, read, or watched TV. After a while, it became obvious that we were going no where fast, and so we tried to find something to do there at the HQ. Actually, it was mainly Joey that was trying to be helpful, I was busy with the more important challenge of keeping up with what was going on that Sunday in the NFL, but I, too, got to work when she found something for us to do, namely handing out office supplies to whomever was in need. Because Joey is a pro at anything she puts her mind to, we were asked to stay there at the HQ. (I was totally riding her coattails.) We were both given jobs in Logistics, I in the motor pool, and her at the shipping and receiving desk.

Things quickly settled into a routine. We would come in at 8am, and by nine the FedEx shipment had arrived with 30-90 packages that needed to be accounted for, and distributed throughout the HQ.

A word on HQ. HQ was an old K-mart building, each function (i.e. manpower, records, logistics, bulk distribution, external affairs, etc…) had their own section filled with laptops, cords, and paper work. The various functions made up about 250 people. In addition, there was a constant stream of volunteers from around the country. They would fly into Montgomery and then 12-48 hours later, ship out some place to the south. The task of driving these people to their assignment was the job of the motor pool, to which I was assigned.




I found the job enjoyable, driving all over southern Alabama and Mississippi, delivering people and packages to various shelters, and distribution points. The days could be long, but I enjoyed the solitude, especially compared to the noise and commotion of HQ. On the long drives, I got to know a number of people fairly well, including two new friends, John and Scott. I truly enjoyed my time with the Red Cross, mostly because of the people I met, and would do so again in a heartbeat; however, be prepared for a certain amount of bureaucracy that inevitably accompanies any national organization.

See more pictures here.

9.18.2005

A Watery Hell

Yesterday we drove down to the coast, just to the east of Biloxi in a town called Ocean Springs, where the devastation was breathtaking. The homes nearest to the coast were completely wiped out, leaving nothing but the foundation, and a few concrete support beams. Farther inland the homes were still standing, but had to be gutted because they were completely waterlogged, every imaginable thing was piled in a heap of stink on the curb, a testament to the power of the storm, to humanity, and to God, and/or whomever you blame.

How do I feel having witnessed this? Similar to how one feels at a cemetery I think. Reverence, awe, sadness, all were present and appropriate. However, there is a sense in which you don’t want to feel, there is too much pain present to allow it inside, and so you keep your distance, not able to feel what the home owner feels, as you walk among the ruins, a tourist of a watery hell.


(I"ll post some pictures when I get home)

9.12.2005

Our Red Cross Duties

Joey and I are both assigned to the Alabama HQ - Logistics.

Which means we are fetching any imaginable supply, in the motor pool delivering people and supplies across Alabama and Mississippi, or administrating the FedEx table, which means delivering packages throughout the HQ, an old K-Mart, jammed with about 500 people, and all their technology making this thing happen.

9.09.2005

Going to Montgomery with the Red Cross

About a week and a half ago Joey and I looked into the possibility of volunteering with the Red Cross to go and serve Katrina victims. This past Tuesday we got trained on shelter operations, and a number of other things. Today we got word that we are leaving at 7:10am tomorrow on a flight bound for Montgomery AL. (we'll be back in 11 days) From there will be bussed to wherever we are needed on the Gulf Coast.

The training reminded me of what it may have been like shortly after Pear Harbor occurred, for the mass of people that volunteered to serve in the armed forces, the Red Cross, or some other capacity. On Tuesday we were just a rag tag bunch of volunteers being rushed through training by a 30 year veteran of the Red Cross who skipped most of the official training, and instead told us what we needed to know, which wasn’t much, because nothing like this has ever happened on this scale.

I hope to be able to blog while I am down there, but there are certainly no guarantees that internet service will be available, or that I will want to write after a 13-hour day.

Please keep us, and the many that are hurting, in your prayers.

9.05.2005

Holy Horror

Is the Holly Spirit calling you to make horror flicks? Talk to Scott Derrickson.

Here is just a bit of what he said:

To me, this genre deals more overtly with the supernatural than any other genre, it tackles issues of good and evil more than any other genre, it distinguishes and articulates the essence of good and evil better than any other genre, and my feeling is that a lot of Christians are wary of this genre simply because it's unpleasant. The genre is not about making you feel good, it is about making you face your fears. And in my experience, that's something that a lot of Christians don't want to do.

I think that the horror genre serves a great purpose in bolstering our understanding of what is evil and therefore better defining what is good. And of course I'm talking about, really, the potential of the horror genre, because there are a lot of horror films that don't do these things. It is a genre that's full of exploitation, but the better films in the genre certainly accomplish, I think, very noble things.

C. S. Lewis had that very practical wisdom, well stated, in his introduction to The Screwtape Letters, when he talks about how the two great dangers, in regard to our thoughts about the demonic and the devil, are to think too much of them or too little of them.

Read the rest here

9.01.2005

The Lord's Katrina Prayer

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, in New Orleans, and Mobile, and every where else affected by this storm, as it is in heaven. Give us this day their daily bread, and water, and medication, and a dry place to sleep. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive those that rampage with guns, and loot our stores. And lead us not into temptation to complain about the slow response, and the poor planning, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

It Isn’t About America

I was doing some more pondering on my incoherent opinion on Iraq, (read a previous oponion here) due to a post by a solder in Iraq. If you want my whole opinion, you need to read to the end (or just scroll to the end and read the last paragraph)

I can't verify it, but according to Duke in Iraq, the following was published in the Stars and Stripes. I think it represents the feelings of most of the troops very well, and helps show why I have such muddled feelings on the whole thing.

I’d like Jane to witness Iraqi women demonstrating for their right to participate in the drafting of the Iraqi constitution. She could park her eco-van in front of a local Iraqi father whose four children were just murdered by insurgents, or visit the families of Iraqi soldiers who died fighting for a free Iraq

She could witness headless bodies of children floating in the Tigris River and view pictures of mass graves, one showing a child size skeleton still clinging to its mother’s leg. She should protest in front of families clawing at these graves with bare hands, tears streaming down their weathered cheeks. Tell any of those people that this war is wrong.

Read the rest of the post here.

In light of this, does it really matter if there were weapons of mass destruction; is America's safety and security, (or better said, America's financial safety and security) the only thing that matters?

And yet, I still wonder if it was worth it. Mine is a muddled opinion. The reason I think it may not have been worth it is based on the possibly naive idea that there may have been another way, a less violent way, a less costly way, (I’m thinking of the lives and limbs, not the dollars) to get this done.

So when I read of the good that happens, or the horrors of Saddam’s regime, I think “great, praise God something good has happened”, but of course I always here the bad as well, and then I wonder, “could we possibly have done this any other way?” Especially when I ponder on the motives of our leaders.

Not that it mattes. Were in now and we need to find the best possible solution for the people of Iraq, and maybe our own as an after thought.

I guess that is what separates me from the overwhelming majority of…well, just about everyone. I want what is best for the people of Iraq, not that I’m the only one who feels this way, or have any idea what that is, (maybee someone should ask them), but to appose the war based on the idea that it was not in the best interest of America is entirely too nationalistic for me, particularly as a Christian. And yet I’m afraid that the majority that support the war do so for similarly nationalistic reasons, wanting to prove to the world that we will not be beaten. In the end, it isen't about America.

8.29.2005

The Images and Words of God

Christy over at dry bones dance posted a beautiful reflection on creation, God’s word, and our place in the world. You have to check it out! I’ve tossed a few excerpts on here, but you should really read the whole thing. It is one of the best "devotions" I have read in a long time.

Christy Said:

God spoke light and sky, land and sea into existence, so we walk and breathe and live and swim surrounded by the word of God, and we should read the planet like the Bible, hear the ocean like a voice from heaven, and look at trees like angelic visitations. The word of God is eagle and lion and chipmunk and octopus and cocker spaniel. God spoke strong and weak, beautiful and odd, huge and tiny. Every creature belongs somewhere – rivers or mountains or plains or sky – and is a syllable in the language of God.

The story of God asking Adam and Eve some hard questions is an archetype of all the ways we hide in the trees and blame each other for the sad sate of the world. Look at Adam – Eve sure went from “bone of my bone” to “this woman you gave me” in a hurry.

It didn’t get any better from there: Cain killed Abel, and we’ve been killing each other ever since. Sometimes we use guns; sometimes we use words. Either way, we aim for the heart. We all bear the mark of Cain somewhere on our skin. But there is this – the mark of Cain was a mark of protection, not a curse and not vengeance. It kept Cain alive. Cain’s punishment was to be driven from the land, to be a restless wanderer. He would no longer belong. We’ve been trying to find our way back home ever since. In a post-modern world, home lasts as long as a lease and is just the place you sleep between commutes. With globalization, everywhere starts to look a bit like everywhere else, so we feel like we’re always in the same place, but it’s never home. We know more about the personal lives of celebrities than we do about ourselves or our neighbors who live next door. Real people are a bit more challenging and tend not to have a publicist.

So we may not belong, but we are still alive. What would happen if we called each other “bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh” instead of all the other names we use? I think the practice of trying to see the fingerprint of God in the people we meet would change us. In spite of all our differences, we are all made of dirt and the breath of God. The breath of God in us makes us sacred; the dirt makes us mortals instead of angels.

The questioin you have to ask your self is this: Am I going to approach the world and everything in it as FALLEN, but created by God as good, or as CREATED BY GOD AS GOOD, but fallen?

8.26.2005

Fishing Trip

Last weekend I went on a fishing trip to Mamouth, which was my first time fishing in a long time. It was very relaxing and enjoyable, mainly because of the people as much as because of the fishing, actually in spite of the fishing. It was good fishing I’m told, though what I really liked was just being outside, and away from the city. It was a good way to simply relax in the presence of our awesome creator, and a few friends. I caught a few fish, five in two days to be exact, which pails in comparison to the 20 or 30+ that some of the guys caught, but it was fun just the same. Below are some pictures from the trip, click here to see a few more.

Beauty

A deer ten feet away.

David in the watter

8.25.2005

Rudy Carrasco

Last night was my first time meeting someone from blogdom in the real world, and I was not disappointed!

As many of you know I’m doing this internship right now in which I’m creating opportunities for our church to “reach out” or as I would prefer to say “be missional”. Before I can do that effectively, I need to get to know my context, asking questions like “what does it mean to be poor in Pasadena”, "what needs to be done", and "what is being done". This is where Rudy Carrasco comes in. (who blogs at Urban Onramps) He has been here in the LA area his whole life, and has spent the past 15 years at the same ministry, Harambee, which is a Christian school in the heart of the worst part of Pasadena. Which is to say, I think he knows a little bit about the context. I was hoping to interview him for 30 minutes or so, but Rudy takes it to a whole other level, inviting me to help chaperone some kids at a Dodger game. We had more than enough time, not just to talk about serving the poor, but about blogging, and growing up, and any number of other things.

Praise be to God, and a shout out to you Rudy.



Rudy and the kids

8.24.2005

We Need More Critiques

Bryan McLaren is a Christian that engages postmodernity missionally . He has been very influential on many, including myself. One of my profs, Ryan Bolger, recently offered a review of some of his accomplishments in a post entitled Bryan McLaren is the Real Thing, which I hope you will read. However it was missing one crucial element, a critique, so I commented to that effect on Ryan’s blog. I said:

That was really good...but.

Some thinking out loud: I wonder, would it be fitting to voice some critiques, even if you don't share them? Or to put it another way, where does McLaren have room for improvement? That was afterall a pretty one sided review.

On the other hand, if one did have critiques, is it fitting to offer them in public? I mean, pastorally, we don't typically critique people in public. Although what McLaren says is public, so I suppose it could be critiqued publically.

It seems that the issues surrounding the modernity vs postmodernity, and evangelism vs being missional battles are entirely too polarized. Maybee that is why there is no critique here?

Those that do have negative things to say are entirely too unforgiving about what they typically say, labeling people like McLaren as potential heretics, and those that tend to agree with him, which includes me, have nothing negative to say. Shame on me and all of us, we need more critiques of a helpful nature.

8.23.2005

Robertson

On the comments by Pat Robertson…grrr…grrr…grrr…

O’ how I wish he and I were not both considered Evangelical Christians.

I'm not going to say anything else, it's not worth my time.

Fishing

I went on a fishing trip this past weekend, hence the lack of posting. I’ll have more to say about that and other stuff latter this week.

8.15.2005

Spamed

I got my first bit of spam in the comments section.

Big News From The Healthcare Industry!!
+++++++++++Current Profile+++++++++++
XYZ Company
Current Price $0.15
A company with hot new identity solution products
and licenses with over 40 current governmental and
non-governmental contracts in negotiations.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Is this an undiscovered gem priced to go higher!!
Please read the following Announcement in its Entirety and Consider the Possibilities�
Watch this One to Trade!

This and an additional 700+ words appeared this mourning. I changed the name of the company so they don't get advertisement from this post.

Does anyone know of a way to block spam on blogger with out preventing all comments?

8.13.2005

A Painful Reminder

Chaos, pain of 9/11 revealed in recordings, documents

I’m starting to forget...the scabs are coming off but the calluses remain…I don’t even realize it…then a story like this comes along and breathes life into my little bit of pain…it’s a good pain…the type that reminds you that you are emotionally alive.

8.12.2005

Privacy and Garbage

I recently ran across some stories which I found quite interesting. They concern your right to privacy vs the desire of the police to protect us. The stories make for both entertaining and thought provoking reads.

The first story I ran across was on boingboing, which led me to a story from Portland that is three years old, but very interesting. It is entitled...

RUBBISH!
Portland's top brass said it was OK to swipe your garbage--so we grabbed theirs.

BY CHRIS LYDGATE & NICK BUDNICK

My own reaction is one of concern. I’m concerned about privacy and I’m concerned about terrorism and justice for criminals. This underscores for me, the need to elect moral officials that will demand moral excellence from their subordinates. However that desire may fall short of actually preventing abuses to the system, consequently I believe that we do need to reform the Patriot Act, and other laws that infringe on our privacy, but not to the point of leading ourselves wide open to terrorism. There is a very very fine balance to be struck on this matter, and it certainly isn’t easy.

In regards to the story, If I was the police chief, I would have authorized the dumpster diving, and on the other hand, if I was the reporter, I would have definitely taken the garbage…and reported it for all the world to know about.

8.10.2005

Two Stories to Every Side

Mike Todd at Waving or Drowning posted the following today. My coment on his blog follows his post.

Two Stories To Every Side

WARNING: Quasi-political post ahead.

I don't really want to get into the whole Bush is doing well / Bush isn't doing well thing, although I saw some numbers yesterday that seem to indicate more people are swinging over to the "not so much" side, at least when it comes to the war.

This paragraph from an op-ed piece from the New York Times this morning summed it up for me.

"Even many Americans who do not share her views about the president - she arrived in a bus bearing the slogan "Impeachment Tour" - share her concerns about his war leadership. President Bush has refused to ask the nation to sacrifice in any way, so the sacrifice gap has never been greater. A few families, like Ms. Sheehan's, have paid the ultimate price. Many more, including National Guard families, are bearing enormous burdens, struggling to get by while a parent, a child or a spouse serves in Iraq. But the rest of the nation is spending its tax cuts and guzzling gas as if there were no war."

It seems to me that this sense of "dualism" in America right now is unprecedented. Sitting up here north of the border I am horribly troubled by it, yet I'd have a hard time telling you exactly why. It seems that for many (most?) in the US, the war has been reduced to an answer to the question "What's on TV?"

Read that paragraph again. I'd love to hear some thoughts on this.

I responded with:

As a former participant in the war, i can't begin to describe my mixed emotions on this, so here are a few random thoughts.

Most soldiers do not feel supported by the "I support the troops but not the war" line.

taking or aiding in the taking of life is absolutely horrible.

Allowing the taking of life (i.e. by Saddam) is also horrible.

As to the lack of solidarity and rationing of goods, what could we do differently? Arguably the cutting of taxes puts more in the coffers of the government to pay for this thing. But that said, I'm with you, where is the sacrifice.

A part of me wants to see a draft on both men and women that can't be avoided by the rich. But the Military wants no part of this, and I can understand why. The quality you get from forced laber stinks.

By most standards this war "isn’t worth it". And that’s how I feel...now. But what if weapons had been found? And the fact that they weren't, dose that mean that when the sanctions lifted, and they would have, he would not have gotten them?

maybe the war is worth it based solely on grounds of justice, freedom and liberation...but I doubt it, and I'm not even a person, American or Iraqi, who has paid with the loss of a limb or loved one...then again, maybe it is, many who have lost loved ones or limbs seem to think so.

You can read more of my musings under An Airman’s Perspective on Just War, listed under Posts of Note.