Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Honesty is such a lonely word..."

(ten points to who can identify the title)

[file under: doubt, introspection]

There's a flame-war in its last legs between two Christian bloggers. I won't go into too much detail or take sides, but I want to address one of the issues brought up. One of the bloggers is a pastor by profession who writes really intensely personal, confessional blog posts full of doubt and fear and sound and fury. The argument between this person, his opponent, and their various supporters became about whether a person's online persona should match their in-person persona. For instance, the pastor said that he certainly doesn't say from the pulpit the things he writes online. The other cried hypocrisy.

This brings up a serious question that deserves some consideration. If I write things online that I wouldn't want my Sunday School class to read, isn't it hypocritical in some way? Should I be writing things for public consumption that I feel the need to hide from those closest to me?

The knee-jerk reaction I have is, "What am I gonna do, sanitize my writing so that it's so phony that no one has any use for it?" Of course I'm not gonna do that. But that's not really the issue. The question isn't, should I change my writing; the question is, should I change myself?

I have tried to be as honest as possible with you all in this forum. I have shared my fears, my frustrations, my concerns, even my stream-of-consciousness thoughts on my "crazy, pent-up days." If I have ever edited myself, it has only been because what I was saying shamed me too much when I saw it in print, or I realized it would be of more harm than benefit to you for reading it. I have done my best not to harm with my words.

The real issue, I'm starting to see, is not necessarily that I'm a "different" person online than i am in real life. It's that the real person I am, in both settings, is a person I'm not really proud of. A person full of selfishness, laziness, apathy, pride, blame, anger, and immaturity.

I know that some of you will quickly respond that I'm a decent guy, a nice guy, I'm doing my best, nobody's perfect, and so on. And I want you to know that I really appreciate your encouragement. It really means a lot to me.

But being a good enough guy isn't good enough anymore. I'm tired of being just okay. I can't shake the feeling that I've been called to something more, something higher, and at this point in my life, I'm treading water, wasting time.

I've become dissatisfied with settling. I think this is supposed to be encouraging, like I'm on the brink of some kind of personal change or growth or something. But all it is so far, is discouraging and scary.

I'm gonna continue to be as real as possible with you all, in this context. I will try harder to let my speech be "full of grace, seasoned with salt," but I'll still be honest.

Just forgive me if I grimace a bit as I share all of this honesty.

Blogging isn't just a letter; it's a mirror. Once the words are there before me, in black and white, it's hard to hide from what they show. My hope is that I won't be the man who sees his image and forgets. I want to be able to use this experience to see where I'm at, and what I need to pay attention to in my own heart. Maybe then, I'll grow into the person I want to be. Maybe then, I'll get to where I'm going, or at least get moving that way.

Something Cool

I Samuel 22:1-2:
1 David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father's household heard about it, they went down to him there. 2 All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him.
Lemme set the scene. Saul, the king of Israel, has been unjustly turned against David, who was anointed to be the next king. He has tried to kill David a few times, though David did nothing to deserve it, and is currently hunting him throughout the countryside. David has been on the run, and even fled to an enemy country to escape Saul for a while.

On the run, hunted, harried, David finds a cave. His family hears of this and meets him there.

Then, the Word says that all who were "in distress or in debt or discontented" gathered there.

This really spoke to me the other day.

For those who are called to lead God's people in some fashion, that calling of leadership doesn't stop when we are going through hard times. Even in our grimmest hour, we are still called to lead, and we can give guidance and encouragement to others.

I don't know about you, but I find this encouraging. As a Sunday School teacher, I sometimes feel like a big hypocrite, and the Enemy starts whispering in my ear that I have no right to lead people. I'm troubled and hounded and harried by what's going on in my life, and I think, "How can I be a leader when my life seems so messed up and jumbled right now?"

But through these two verses--which could easily be seen by someone else as "filler"--God lifted me up a little bit. It was as if He said, "Look Dave, even my best guys have rough weeks and months. Times and seasons where it feels like they are failures, or a step away from everything crashing in on them. Even in those times, I call them to lead, and empower them to lead."

So here's something cool for you, especially those of you who are "leaders" in some way (even if it's just as the person your friends go to for counsel): Don't let your circumstances make you doubt your calling. Trust in the One who called you. He'll give you the endurance to persevere.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Outrage (edited)

This story makes me so ******* furious that I could spit blood. I'm physically ill right now.

You know what REALLY sent me over the edge?
"I've been praying a lot and that's been a real source of strength for me. I really believe God has a plan for us all. I have a choice, and that's part of my plan."

I am so... My hands are shaking. Really trembling. I'm so upset.

It's MURDER, Amanda. God has no place in that.

Of course, he probably has no place in profanity-laced blogposts either. So what do i know.

I just... I know I'm gonna regret this, but sometimes I look at our culture and I think, "How can we consider ourselves enlightened? How can we consider ourselves God-fearing in ANY WAY, when this holocaust happens in the name of Convenience, and the newspapers report it as if it were somehow HEROIC? How are we any different than the barbarians and pagans of the past?"

Jerry Falwell may be a crazy bastard, but he's got one thing right: we are heading in the wrong direction.

Welcome to Nineveh, folks. Welcome to Babylon. Enjoy the ride.

A Christian Literary Family Guide to Finding God in the Spiritual Side of the Christian Message of the Philosophy of PBB... for Unbelievers

This may just be me being a lit snob (or church snob--it kind of blends in this case).

I've found, in recent weeks, a veritable outbreak of books that claim to peel back the layers of mystery surrounding the Chronicles of Narnia, and reveal the super double-plus secret (gasp!) Christian messages contained therein.

Literally dozens of books seem to have been written on the subject. I noticed the same thing occuring (though not in this magnitude) when The Lord of the Rings was filmed. Back then, I could understand it. LOTR is primarily a fantasy epic, and while I'd argue that spiritual themes are certainly present in the books, they aren't that obvious sometimes.

On the other hand.

Let's just pull something out of the air, shall we? How about: Aslan the God-like Lion dies in place of Edmund, and then comes back to life and defeats the Enemy.

Hmm. I wonder who THAT's about. (And don't say The Fisher King.)

Yet here we are, in a deluge of books about the "hidden, secret themes" in Lewis' painfully obvious allegorical works. (And if you want to pull quotes that say he didn't really mean them to be, fine, but I cry BS anyway.)

Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's a situation like one of those Stare-o-gram pictures, in which there is a hidden picture amongst the lines and squiggles. Once you see it, you can't un-see it. Or to cop another, greater Man's line: If you have ears to hear, you're gonna hear it.

So, sure, for those who aren't steeped in Christian tradition, such a guidebook might be helpful. But do you know what would be more helpful? Here, I'll whisper it in your ear. What would be most helpful and effective in explaining the Gospel message in CON to unbelievers is...

[Christians.]

Not books. Not advertising campaigns.

When I see these books in the Christian bookstores (and almost nowhere else), I have to admit, all I can think is, "Great, another book that does the thinking for us--way to go, church!" Because I believe that, if you have ears to hear, you're gonna hear it. And if your ears are not attuned to hearing the truth of God outside of your cathedral walls, you don't need to read a book about a book. You need to read the book itself. And maybe the Other Book along side it. You need to sit next to a lake at dawn, and see the mist rise on the water. You need to listen to "The Joshua Tree." You need to read "Les Miserables." You need to train yourself to listen for truth on cicada wings. Because He reveals himself to us in the sunset and in the sunburnt troubador. In the pulpit and the pen of the honest author.

Enough blather.

If you read these types of books, the "finding the hidden meaning of" books books, don't take this as a slight. I'm really not making fun of you, I promise. I'm just saying, you know, you may not need that at all. Stretch yourself a bit more, and you'll get there on your own. You've got a Good Teacher and Counselor to walk the path with you.

Cleansing the palate

God is good. He provides something beautiful to dispel the gloom and unpleasantness of earlier. (See earlier.)

Thanks to the effervescent Amanda, here's a link to Quintus, who has .zip files of Sufjan Stevens' three Christmas EPs. Highly highly recommended. I'm listening to his version of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" and it's just lovely. Makes me happy. Makes me calm. All will be well, and all things will be well, and all manner of things will be well.

I needed this. Thank you, Manders. Very much, thank you.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Writerly Thoughts

Usually, I find myself moving in and out of times of inspiration. I'm moving into one right now. This usually means that no matter what I'm doing, I'd rather be writing, yet when I sit down to write, I can't put anything coherent together.

Yet, I find myself throughout the day muttering poetic or flowery phrases under my breath. It's like Writer Tourettes. In the middle of very grounded, reasonable emailing to work colleagues, my mind is filled with elusive, fluttering words and descriptions of moonlight or cold or whatever. I can't even grasp them long enough to jot them down. As quickly as I see them, they disappear.

There are even snatches of melody and song lyrics. Of course, I'm not musical, so I can't even remember the tunes.

This kind of overactive "lit" gland is frustrating. And terribly exciting.

You scribblers out there: this ever happen to you?

[by the way, i may be moving back into "Taylor House." renovations may be needed, of course. i'm considering switching to first-person, just to shake things up creatively. so that's exciting.]

Where to begin?

[opening music: "Come on! Feel the Illinoise!" by Sufjan Stevens]

There's so much I feel like I want to say. Not much of it will be of any substance, I'm sure, but I'm here to amuse, more than enlighten. If I can hit the latter, I'm pleased.

So expect some scattershot thoughts for the first several days, until I can recapture the circadian rhythm of blogging again.

To begin: some quick notes.

===

(This could be a post of its own. Ah well.)

I'm now about 65% decided NOT to switch to Typepad. Nothing against the service, which (though unfamiliar) is certainly dandy in its own right. It just came down to a very simple question posed to me by a level-headed young Kansan--"Why?"

Um. I don't know. "A perfect reason to do anything!"

Actually, I do know. It all started with my friend Trevor and his building (and later neglect) of his own domain. He actually made tee-shirts with the site addy on them. Snazzy in a homemade retro way. I thought, "That's cool, I'd like to do that." The seed of the idea was planted. I would develop "slg-dot-com" into a brand. I'd use Cafepress or something similar to create items with witty, snarky phrases. I would become a known "somebody" in the blogging world (maybe not a Dooce, but someone known widely by their moniker). I would hawk SLG gear. It would be wicked rad to be "that guy."

As this mad plan grew, I realized that it would require a few key things. I'd actually have to create and develop this site, which meant I'd have to pay for it. Worse yet, I'd have to change my blogstyle to fit the name; because the true SLG days are kind of behind me. While still rather geeky, I'm not as lit-geeky as I once was. I certainly don't lit-blog as much as such a name would require. And while still slackery to the max, I'm not as blatantly slackery as I once was. Simply put, when put side by side, I'm more TeacherDave than SLG these days.

The next question is, "What do I want to use the blog for?" Well, basically what I'm doing now. If I get a digital camera in the future, I'll start posting pictures (though not necessarily of me, so don't ask), but I can do that on Blogger for free anyway.

So, the last question is, "Is there a clear reason why switching to Typepad is worth the cost and the trouble of transferring data?" (Rick, you may be able to answer this, having just made the switch.) Because right now, for my intents and purposes, Blogger is still fine. A little wonky from time to time, but the bugs have been worked out, in my mind.

If you have a driving passion for me to be Typepad bound, drop a comment. I have until a week from Friday to delete the free trial account at TP.

===

It kind of freaks me out that the song "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." is so melodic and beautiful, while being so lyrically chilling.

(Needless to say, I picked up this album this weekend. Um, yes. Once again, Marty's pick is a good one. Current fave tracks: Chicago, and Man of Metropolis.)

===

Things like this make me thankful for the internet. Read the whole site. Holy cow.

(And if you don't get the joke, I weep for you. Go here.)

===

I'm wicked ill. Okay, maybe not "wicked" ill anymore, but still rather under the weather. Had to go to the freakin expensive off-hours clinic on Friday. Yet I'm well enough to work. I thought I could come in, cough badly, and be sent home. Unfortunately, my boss has a similar infirmity, so he's less than sympathetic.

What infirmity? I'll link it to spare the squeamish. Nothing serious or troubling. Let's just say massive antibiotics, decongestants, and other meds are involved. I'll be ship-shape in a week or so.

===

This holiday weekend involved shopping of all sorts, too much money being spent, and more fiscal irresponsibility on the part of yours truly. On the upside, I picked up a few CDs, a book, a PS2 game, and three bargain-rack movies. And all I have left to buy is my baby sister's Christmas present (I'm thinking this) and my dad's birthday present (this, if I can find it on sale). So that's good.

===

Watched two worthwhile (for different reasons) films this weekend. The first is "Walk the Line." I'll give my thoughts on that one their own post later.

The other is "The Warriors." No, really.

I can't pinpoint exactly why I enjoyed this campy, violent film as much as I did. Maybe because it was so dated, so archaic, and so knowingly fanciful. Maybe I just enjoyed the idea of a street gang in matching baseball uniforms with evil clown facepaint, weilding baseball bats. Maybe it was Cyrus's street preacher delivery of the line, "Can you dig it?!?" which made it more of a command or a cheer than a question. Or the other famous line from the film, "Warriors... come out and play-yay!" which became more strained and corny and creepy every time the guy repeated it. Maybe it was the almost-invisible cameos of Lynn Thigpen as the radio DJ who acted as a Greek chorus in the film, describing the events that transpire and hinting at what's to come.

Honestly, I did pick up shades of Homer in this film, which I didn't expect at all. Or at least of Greek legend.

If you are so inclined, go ahead and check out the original (there's an upcoming remake which looks like it will destroy and cheapen the cool aspects of the original story, in an attempt to make it more realistic--something the original film rejects from the word go).

Two things: heed the rating. (I didn't see the director's cut, so I can't vouch for that one.) And take it for what it is. You may enjoy it as much as I did.

===

I guess I'm expected to work. More later.

[closing music: "They are Night Zombies! They are Neighbors! They have come back from the Dead! Ahhhh!" by Sufjan Stevens]

I'll catch you up during lunch

I have two things to finish before lunch. During lunch, we'll get all caught up. Or at least, we'll start getting all caught up.

Hope your Thanksgiving was good.

--d.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Day Before Thanksgiving!

Just wanted to say hi and happy holiday.

Be thankful. Tell the people you love that you appreciate them.

Have a great weekend.

PBB Reader Comment Poll:

What is your favorite non-turkey Thanksgiving food?

Mine is my mom's cheesed onions. So bad for you, yet so, so good.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Special Message from Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash

"It ain't me, babe,
No no no,
It ain't me, babe,
It ain't me you're looking for, babe."

Song of the Day

(I may have used this one before, but it gave me a boost this morning.)


I was a teen flat-liner on the joy screen
Dead in the water of life as we knew
you offered me drink,
I wanted more than a sip
But I couldn't let go of the straws
I was clinging to

Giving it over, giving it over
I was flat on my back, I'd slid 'til it hurt
Giving it over, giving it over
You put my head in the clouds
and my feet in good dirt
My head in the clouds
and my feet in good...

Dirt Devils were crowding my head
With lies they spread
They'd convinced me of
what fools know isn't true
Quick as an Outkast rhyme
you took me back in time
Back to the first love I ever knew

Giving it over, giving it over
Got my broken heart healed
and removed from its cast
Giving it over, giving it over
Yeah, I'm giving myself to
a true love at last
Giving myself to a true love at last

You don't know where
the wind's gonna blow
And since you can't take it with you
better give it away before you go
Yeah, I'm giving it over

Greed is the word, it's a verb
Wants to bind us all
Bind us together like a platinum truss
Giving it over, giving it over
I'm putting my heart into treasures that don't rust
I'm giving it all over to a face I can trust

You don't know where
the wind's gonna blow
And since you can't take it with you
Better give it away before you go
Yeah, I'm giving it over

--"Giving It Over," Newsboys

Tuesday Morning Elvis Costello Reference

All the angels wanna wear his red shoes.

Heh, heh, sorry about that...

Sometimes it's better not to hit "post."

I'm in a better state of mind today. Sorry to those who I alarmed by yesterday's post. My first impulse is to write that off to over-reaction, but honestly that's how I felt. However, like so many of my strong emotional impulses, it waxed and then waned. No problem.

The word for yesterday was "pent up." In many ways. But I'm okay now.

We get caught up in the emotions, we pop off, and we move on, yes?

Yes. We move on.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The tension, it's killing me...

So much to do, so many things piling up to do, and all I can think about is what I want to attempt once i'm gone today.

I can hear the pounding of my boss's rubber stamp through the cubicle walls. He's being productive. I'm not.

I'm getting that fenced-in feeling again. It's creeping in at the edges of my thoughts.

In my head, I'm starting to pace. Drag my palm along the wall. Tap my fingers.

Accompanying that fenced-in feeling is the sudden impulse to break something, to smash something. Nothing too destructive, nothing too violent. Just the animal impulse to lash out.

I'm really okay. Really. I'm okay. Really.

[is this discipline? is this what it feels like?]

I'm craving an escape. Even if mental. Even if momentary.

And somehow, I feel guilty for that.

Too much to do. Got to get it all done. Got to keep those plates spinning.

Too much. Much too much.

Friday, November 18, 2005

*tapping fingers and yawning*

I feel like I owe it to you guys to write something today. But for the life of me, I have no idea what to say. There's no burning issue to get off my chest. No heavy emotions. No sudden developments on the romantic front (don't hold your breath, heh). Everything's just kinda mellow. So how about a post of whatever pops into my head? That'll work, right?

===

I had Thai food for the first time today. We always go out for lunch on Friday, and today the boss insisted on a little Thai place in the Village. It was funny, because one of the girls suggested a buffet, and the boss gave this five-minute speech on how buffets were bad, only to find out that the Thai place he had his heart set on was a buffet.

Honest reaction: meh. Certainly not worth the ten bucks (buffet and water, plus tip). I prefer my good ol' Americanized Chinese buffet much better. I did learn two things about my food preferences today: peanut sauce and curry are both on the "gross, no thanks" list.

===

After Thai, we walked a block and a half to TCBY for some fro-yo. Stopped in a few shops. Everything was overpriced but cool. One shop had some really great handmade decorative items, that ranged between "cheesy child's-art-project" and "really cool craftsmanship."

Got yogurt. Then went to Barnes and Noble for a few minutes. The boss wanted a Frapp. (I've got a cool boss.) I bought a writing magazine. I could use some inspiration.

===

I'm also reading Bird By Bird again. It's now in the "1" slot. The way I work the juggling of books in progress, is really a matter of priority. I have the book I carry in my messenger bag, that I read on the train to and from work, and at lunch. This is the "1" slot. Then the book I read at night for an hour or so, every other night. This is usually the book I'm using for SunSco, or a dating book I'm too ashamed to read in public. This is the "2" slot. If there's another book that I started and stopped because I wanted to read something else, it falls into the back-up position. That's the "3" slot. It's not necessary, and doesn't have to be filled.

I usually don't do more than three. Much past that, I just put it back on the shelf and pick it up later.

So, currently: 1) Bird by Bird; 2) the Paul book; 3) nothing yet. Maybe I'll pull out that Dylan Thomas anthology and kick it around a bit.

Upcoming reads: Pride and Prejudice; a C.S. Lewis collection that includes "Pilgrim's Regress" and "God in the Dock"; and a collection of Dickens' Christmas stories, including "Christmas Carol."

===

For those in the know, I had a three-pronged goal of personal discipline and growth that I started on the first of this month. First, health--eating good food and exercising. Second, money--properly spending and budgeting, and paying off debts. Third, writing--getting something down every day.

The other night, I left work late and didn't want to go home. I felt like being around people. So I jumped on the northbound train, instead of the southbound, and went to Chipotle for dinner. Then, after eating most of my overfull burrito, I walked nextdoor to Starbucks and got a Frapp (whatever the "medium" size is), and read my book (Karamazov--I finished it yesterday!). I got back on the train and made my way home, where I sat and watched TV for an hour or two.

It occured to me, before bed, that I had successfully NOT done any of the things I had purposed to do. I had spent money unnecessarily, on food that was bad for me; I didn't exercise that night; and I went to bed, not having written a word.

It was the trifecta of laziness. Way to go, me.

===

I know you don't care, but I have to say, Smallville is rocking my face again. Last night's episode was awesome. Unfortunately, the next one isn't until December 8, when it will be a holiday-themed "what if Lex was good" episode. After that, the new episodes won't begin again until mid-January. I'm really looking forward to the show's 100th episode (airing sometime in February), in which at least one major character is rumored to die. My bets? Clark's dad is a goner. Lex's dad may also bite the big one. An outside bet is Chloe dying, but I really hope it's not true. Not only because she's still integral to the plot, but also because I think she's pretty hot. A very smart, sassy, "Girl Friday" character. Don't want to lose that.

===

I want to go see a movie this weekend, if I can afford it. Either Harry Potter (like everyone else) or Walk The Line, which should be awesome. If I can't afford it, I'll either spring for the dollar movie, or I'll use my "free ticket" pass at AMC and see "Elizabethtown" again.

*checking movie times*

Strike that, E-town is no longer at any AMC theaters. Shoot. Guess there's always video.

===

I'm hesitant about making the switch to Typepad. It's stupid, but I am. First, paying for it is kinda wonky. I'm used to free blogging. That's not the real issue, though.

I'm used to Blogger. You're used to me being here.

I'm not the type of person who deals well with change. Especially when something is so comfortable.

I know, I know. It's just a website. I'll have a new one. You'll all come visit. But it won't be the same. I feel like I've invested something into this stupid collection of zeros and ones. Moving on to something else just feels...wrong somehow. Even if it is just to another page.

Plus, I just got a compliment on my current site design/headings from a fellow blogger and Crows fan. Made me happy. That gives me pause.

This is all sound and fury of course. I'll go ahead and make the switch, I think. I can do more with Typepad anyway. It just takes me getting comfortable with it.

===

I want to be in love.

I know, I know, I KNOW. I swore off that pursuit. I decided that I was done making myself crazy over it. And I am.

But I still want to be in love. I miss that feeling.

That's all.

===

I'm trying to get my money situation straightened out again. I'm waiting on a reimbursement check from work for business trip expenses. It's taking forever, which is putting me in a tight spot. Oh well. What else is new, right?

===

Class is going well. We're finishing Colossians this week.

===

I can't think of anything else. Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Lyric Post

Haven't done one of these in a while. But this line popped into my head, so I wanted to share.

that holds the tears of yesterday.
I've climbed the mountains of regret,
when you're numb you cannot feel the pain.
Then I heard her name across a crowded room,
does anybody know how it feels
to be swimming in a reservoir of soul?
Don't tell me it's for the best.
It only makes me feel worse.
A messiah of circumstance,
in love with being loved.
Then I came across a photograph,
does anybody know how it feels
to be swimming in a reservoir of soul?
I'm lonely, but I'm not alone.
Take me home, I want to go home.


"Reservoir of Soul," Dime Store Prophets

Link-Drop Wednesday

A day earlier than normal. Why? I dunno. Felt like it.

  • Fans of DCTalk's 'nuttiest' member, Kevin Max, will enjoy this interview from May, as well as this very positive review of his newest album, "The Imposter," released last month. (If you missed his last album, "Stereotype Be," you should track it down--it was cool. I expect big things from the new one.)
  • I was really sad to hear the WWE Superstar Eddie Guerrero died. (Stop smirking, I'm being totally serious.) And while it would be easy (and mean) to immediately assume the cause was drugs, the real cause, according to recent reports, was heart failure. Eddie had been clean for four years. He was a showman, an athelete, and a great performer.
  • If you haven't heard of Nooma, you're missing out on what appears to be the new, big thing in church media ministry. (Normally, I'd be saying this sarcastically.) Usually, I'd be the one ripping on the "new big thing," but not so in this case. Nooma is a series of short films by Rob Bell, which touch on some big religious ideas, often coming at them from a different perspective. Really informative, really heartfelt. Very high production values--the films are deftly shot and edited. Highly recommended. On the website, you can watch clips of all of the films, as well as the entirety of the first one (called "Rain"). For the first time in a long time, something popular in Christian culture is actually worth checking out, too.
  • Internet Monk has been on a roll lately. Here's a post on the recent interest in C.S. Lewis' sex life, as well as some thoughts on The Prayer of Jabez and the "Look at Me!" offering (wear steel-toed boots for that one).
Enjoy. Discuss. Disagree. Argue. Comment.

Trying something new...

I'm still not convinced that this is necessary or worthwhile, but I'm trying out a new blog host.

Since you are pretty much the reason I blog, I wanted to give you the opportunity to voice your opinion of the possible new home for my daily bloggerations.

Like I said, this is just a test right now. So don't get all pissy about your site not being listed yet--I didn't want to drop the full blogroll on it until I knew that it would be my real future site.

So, like I said, check it out, and lemme know if it's worth making the switch (to the tune of $50 for one year on the new service).

If you prefer the current design, motif, or theme, let me know that too.

Once again, don't get too excited, and don't switch your links yet. We'll just see how it goes.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Another OBU alum... well, not technically, "alum"...

Add to the list of famous ex-Bison in the entertainment world (that includes Jim J. Bullock and Grammy-Award-winner Dave Hodges) a new entry--Mr. Waylon Payne.

Who's Waylon Payne? A country musician primarily, but you'll see him as Jerry Lee Lewis in the upcoming Johnny Cash biopic, "Walk the Line."

Here's an interview where I found out about his academic past.

Seems like OBU throws out the most interesting people.

"Lord, Save Us from the Deeds of the Well-Intentioned."

I was watching the news this morning, as I became later and later for work. I usually watch the local news in the mornings these days. I used to watch "Good Morning, America" regularly, but I would get caught up in the segments and would lose track of time. The local news is more repetitive, so it's easier to lose interest and get back to my morning routine (usually).

Today, they were giving away a $25,000 renovation prize to the person with the "Ugliest Kitchen in Houston." The winner was a small Hispanic woman in her fifties. Whenever the correspondent would ask the woman and her grown daughter how it felt to win and how long it had been since they renovated, the daughter always answered for them. It could be that the woman didn't speak English as well. But her eyes spoke volumes.

Imagine it: you're on television for the first time ever, you've won a fabulous prize, and you stand there, as people keep talking about what an ugly and outdated and grimy kitchen you have in your home.

This is a kitchen that has been filled with home-cooked meals for family and friends for decades. And it's being discussed, in front of the woman who more-or-less lived in it for all those years, as an eyesore.

As I sat and watched her silently endure this embarrassment for the sake of new countertops, I grew ashamed and a little angry for her.

Now, of course, you might be saying, "What's the big deal? She's getting a new kitchen, so she should be grateful." And I'm sure she's very grateful.

But how much of our charity, how much of our "good works," come at the expense of shaming those we are helping? How much of our giving to those who have less or who have older things not only ends up in their receiving gifts, but embarrassment to wrap them with?

It's not enough to give things. It's not enough to give money. We have to wrap our small kindnesses with humility and honor, so that the people we bless don't feel ashamed.

The post title is a favorite saying of mine. These days, it seems all the more appropriate, as the deeds of the good-hearted and well-intentioned can sometimes be as destructive or disheartening as the works of wicked men.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Political Advertisement


It's not too early to throw my support behind a worthy candidate.

Vote Luthor in 2006!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Another entry for the "Don't associate us with That" File

(Hat-tip: Trav)

The day that any self-proclaimed minister of the Gospel tells people not to bother turning to God in times of crisis, is the day that man needs to step down from his position of authority.

Pat Robertson, you are my brother in Christ, but your words are anathema to the very Gospel you profess. Even Nineveh got more mercy than you are showing. You have overstepped your bounds, and have set yourself up as the spokesperson for a God you seem to have forgotten.

I forgive you, and I love you, but I cannot accept this. I will pray that your eyes may be opened, so that you can seek forgiveness for this ungraceful, shameful display.


[I also feel compelled to add, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." And I ask you, my brothers and sisters, to call me on it if I ever say something so foul.]

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Thursday Link-Drop

Some fun for the rest of your week/end.

  • You can't make stuff like this up. In a related story, Grover the Monster was incarcerated in Uzbekistan for telling children that his program was brought to them by the letter "C."
  • One Slate writer analyzes the "greatest postmodern art film ever." Here's a hint: It's not "Get Rich or Die Tryin' "--but it's not what you'd expect either.
  • Even if you've seen it before, you owe it to yourself to watch it again.
  • Same for this one, which STILL makes me laugh every single time.
  • What's that? You want lots of free streaming albums, including the gorgeous "Elizabethtown" soundtrack? Here you go. Who loves ya, baby.
  • What would it sound like for Dave Matthews to sing "Frere Jacques"? Something like this great flash video. This is from "Mother Goose Rocks," a line of CDs/DVDs of children's songs as if they were performed by major mainstream artists. PLEASE do yourself the favor of listening to the 45-second clips of each song. Seriously. It's been a while since I've laughed that hard.
  • Here's a list of the 100 greatest Internet phenomena. Click on the images on the right hand side to pull up the links/stories. Some of the stuff, I've never heard of. Some of it's fascinating. Some of it's a little risque, so be advised. But all of it is amusing to some extent. It's cool that so many people can be joined by a common experience--even if it is watching little stick men fight kung-fu style.
  • Fun chat-style commentary on classic video games of our youth.

Take care, friends.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"Something's coming..."

"...I don't know what it is, but it is gonna be great..."

Okay, actually, I do know what it is.

But I'm not gonna tell you. Not yet.

Let's just say, you may need to update your bookmarks in the near future.

Later.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"He said, 'It's better.' "

There isn't a whole lot more I can add to the afore-mentioned review of the U2 concert, but I'll put down some thoughts, and some of my favorite moments.

We sat behind the stage (stage-right side). About 40-50 feet from the stage. Amazing seats for the price. Some friends who went through a ticket "service" (legalized scalpers), paid $200 a piece for upper upper balcony nose-bleeds. Our two tickets were a hundred combined, plus fees.

The opening act was one of the Marley offspring. It was...interesting. There was one guy on stage whose sole purpose was to walk around waving a flag. There were also some women singing and swaying. The main guy (Adrien Marley?) had dreds down past his butt. He danced as he sang, the kind of hopping-skip you often see in reggae acts, swaying back and forth enough to swing the dreds around. You couldn't understand most of the lyrics, but the music was good. I picked out the words "Rasta" and "Jah" a few times, and the word "Zion." I leaned over to my companion and explained what I knew of Rastafarianism.

I got up and went to the swag table in the hallway. Stood in the press of people for about twenty minutes. Listened to the tipsy people behind me curse and complain about the wait. Watched the tipsy people in front of me ask to see EVERY SINGLE T-SHIRT and then send them back one by one. I'm thinking, "You've been in line for twenty minutes, you haven't made up your mind yet?!?" But then again, they were short. Maybe they couldn't see. A guy cut in front of me from the side and was waited on; this caused me to miss out on the last poster available. (There were posters printed up with the date and location of that night's performance. That was rad. I was upset to miss it.) Finally I got to the front, bought my shirt, and went back to my seat a few minutes before the lights went down and the crowd went nuts.

During the show:

--I loved the light curtains. If you haven't seen pics of this, you need to check this out. They were long strings of this round white bulbs that were lowered from the ceiling. They were programmed to do different colors, and even to show animation. Two of the coolest things, besides the many flags during "Streets", were a fighter plane in flight, swooping back and forth, during "Bullet the Blue Sky"; and the animated image of a man walking during "Sometimes..." The man had a circle for a head, and was wearing a short-sleeved white oxford shirt and dress pants, and even though he was in profile, you could just make out the swaying movement of his tie. I thought that was amazing.

--"Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" was just a heartbreaking performance. Bono would be walking around the "ellipse" (a runway built out into the floor, so that fans could stand on both sides of it). Throughout the song, he would turn and sing directly to the "walking man."

--The whole story of the "arrival" of the Edge from outer space was awesome. The U2.com article says, " 'He's from a planet called ZOOTOPIA,' explains the singer. 'The thing about Zootopia is that this planet is also in the future. So Edge had to come back through time and space to be with myself Adam and Larry in the north side ofDublin in the mid seventies. And his spaceship was playing those four notes.' Edge, of course, is now playing the opening four notes of Miracle Drug. 'So when it landed this creature got out: 'I am the Edge.' '' But Bono went on with the story. He said that he asked the Edge, "What's the future like, then?" and the Edge responded, "It's better."

Chills, man. Just, chills.

--At the end of "Sometimes...", while it's just Edge playing, Larry goes out to the crowd-side point of the ellipse with a single, large drum. (I'm not a drum guy, so I can't tell what kind of drum it was.) Then the band starts in with "Love and Peace" and just rips the roof off. Larry is just banging this drum like mad: bum BUM bum BUM bum BUM bum BUM. Then, Bono, after the first verse and chorus, takes over for Larry, and Larry goes back to his drum set to play the rest of the song. Bono sings the song and drums with one hand, on top of Larry's drumming. During the instrumental part of the song, Bono is just banging the heck out of this drum, with both hands: wham WHAM wham WHAM wham WHAM wham WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM. Both hands raising above his hand and then crashing down onto the drumhead. Like a possessed monkey-toy playing the drum. There was something positively tribal about the energy and aggression Bono had.

Too many moments to talk about. Okay, okay, more.

--Someone on the floor had a Texas flag, but with the Irish colors (white, green, and orange). I thought that was neat.

--They played "Miss Sarajevo." I LOVE that song. And he told the story behind it, which I'd never heard. And Bono sang the Italian part. It was beautifully imperfect. Like so much great music.

--Bono did a bit about the CoExist graffiti. That was cool. "Oh, Father Abraham, you need to talk to your sons..."

--He talked about the One campaign, and about how he loved that America, in the midst of its own problems, still reached out to help others.

--He dedicated "Bullet the Blue Sky" to the brave U.S. troops. That was cool.

--While talking about the hurricane relief, Bono broke out into "Old Man River." The Edge strummed, and Bono sang the chorus a few times. Then the band left the stage. (There would be two encore sets.)

--Bono added a line to the end of "The First Time." Originally, the last verse of the song said, "My father is a rich man, he wears a rich man's cloak/He gave me the keys to his kingdom (coming)/Gave me a cup of gold./He said "I have many mansions/And there are many rooms to see."/But I left by the back door/And I threw away the key." During the show, Bono added the line, "But Grace gave it back to me," before singing the final chorus, "And for the first time, I feel loved." Awesome.

--He pulled up a woman on the ellipse walkway for "With or Without You." It was funny though, because you always think of this as a really romantic moment, but the woman apparently felt a little awkward. Clearly, she dug it quite a bit, but there was one point where she started to pull away from his embrace, and he held her to himself, and pushed her head down onto his shoulder. Finally, she stopped fighting, and he finished the song. That kind of made me laugh.

--They played "Fast Cars"!!!! I'd never heard this song before. U2 does flamenco! It was cool because Bono grabbed a Mexican Flag from the crowd ("the tri-color along way from home"), and threw it over his shoulder as he flamenco danced beside the stomping and turning Edge. That was an awesome moment.

--And of course, "Yahweh" and "40" were amazing.

--My favorite Bono lines (besides the post title): "Thank you for coming out, standing in line, and giving us a great life." AND "Sun was shining today - Miss Texas looked so beautiful. Anyway we still got a job to do and for this band it feels like we're just getting started."

I sure hope so.

"Dat dweem wiv-vin a dweem..."

Today, the state of Texas is voting on Proposition 2, an ammendment to the state constitution that defines marriage as being between "one man and one woman," and rejects all similar unions from other states that are not heterosexual. This has been a big deal in the Church down here. There are radio adverts about it on the Christian station. My home church even had an item about it in the Sunday bulletin, encouraging us to all get out and vote. Religious types have been calling on folks to "protect marriage and family."

One would expect that I'd be on board, being the conservative right-wing Christian that I am.

But I'm not voting for this ammendment.

I'm not voting against it either. I'm just not voting.

My reasons for not voting are not as obvious as some folks'. I'll explain this way:

I believe marriage was originally a covenant with God, but one that has been co-opted by the state. In what we in the church commonly call "marriage," there are, in fact, two ceremonies: the legal one (with the license) and the religious one (with the preacher).

I believe that homosexuality is a sin. This is an unpopular and disputed belief. I am learning to love homosexual people as Christ loves them, but I cannot and will not accept and approve of this behavior as an "okay" alternative. The way I understand the Bible, this is not so.

As such, I believe that homosexual marriage cannot be blessed by God, because it is built on the wrong foundation.

Yet I don't support the proposition as written, because while I agree with the first half, I disagree with the second. I can't really find a solid, Biblical basis for opposing civil unions (as wholly secular ceremonies). As I understand it, civil unions are not marriages. For me, that's the difference.

I can't vote to deny someone's right to a legal, state-sponsored procedure, because I don't like their choices. It is not showing the love of God to deny insurance coverage and medical benefits to people because I disagree with their lifestyle.

A guest preacher at church on Sunday said that, instead of spending all of our time defending against people (culture in general, Hollywood, liberals, homosexuals, pornographers and sexual offenders), we should focus on going on the offense, with one single weapon: love. We should "offensively" love the people around us, no matter what their beliefs or circumstances. That's the only way we can truly do the work of God.

There are many sincere people with good intentions on both sides of this issue who would disagree with my parsing of the language, who would go so far as to say I'm turning my back on my beliefs and principles (whichever ones support that person's position, I guess). I'd imagine several of you are in this group. If you want to comment, that's cool. Please do so (respectfully, of course).

But here's where I'm at. I don't condone and will not accept homosexual behavior as anything other than sin. But I refuse to do harm to people Jesus died for, in the name of "defending" an institution that has survived for practically all of recorded time.

Since I can't vote to affirm the one part of the proposition without affirming the other, then I'll abstain. It's the only way I can see to show love.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Do you miss me?

I miss you too.

Thoughts about U2 and Prop 2, coming tonight.*



(*And by "tonight," of course, I mean "tomorrow, if I'm lucky.")

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Whew, and whew.

Time-management and scheduling. That's what I need to work on.

Yeah, that's really it.

Dave needs focus (seems to be a theme lately).

So there we are. No worries about the job. In fact, once I get this squared away, things will improve. So that's cool.

[As to the return of normal blogging, i'm hoping that by Thanksgiving week, I'll have things under control. I'll post sporadically until then, but that's when it should get back to normal. Paz.]

Tuesday, November 01, 2005