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.