Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Xmas!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

song of the day

Simple, Starving to be Safe (live) by Daphne Loves Derby. DLD is one of my favorite bands from the past few years. This song is beautiful. And Kenny the singer has such a great voice.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

James Bond, Greenleaf, and Hancock

First I'll get Hancock out of the way. We watched it on DVD with Jo's parents tonight. My one word review - okay. Not great, not the worst film I've ever seen, but it really didn't hold my attention too well. If you've got something more productive or more important to do, don't bother with Hancock.

Second, James Bond. Since Jo and I are living with her parents for awhile, we have free babysitting. So this past Friday we went out on a date. We actually did dinner AND a movie, something we haven't done in a long time. Dinner was Zaxby's and the movie was the new James Bond flick, Quantum of Solace. 2 thumbs up, 5 stars out of 5, etc. I thoroughly loved it and think Daniel Craig is by far the best Bond. One complaint I heard about this film was there weren't a lot of gadgets, but who cares when you've got such great action. Loved it!

Lastly, Greenleaf Vineyard Church in Chapel Hill, our new church family. We're in the process of moving to CH to help Greenleaf Vineyard Church anyway we can. But we had yet to actually meet the people there or go to one of their services, mainly because we were in Philly. But now, since we're in VA and only 3 hours away, this past weekend we drove down to CH be a part of Greenleaf's Sunday service for the first time. It was weird because there were all these people there who know us because Rodger and Angela have been telling them about us. But we don't know them, at least we didn't until we met them. They still probably know more about us than we do about them. Jo and I were both a little nervous about meeting all these new folks that have been hearing about us for a few months. But meeting them made things better because they are an awesome group. Now we absoultely can't wait to move to CH and be a regular part of that body.

Friday, December 12, 2008

song of the day

Before we left Philly, my good friend Dave Campbell made me a CD of some cool tunes. This is one of the tracks on there. I'm diggin' it! This group is from Sweden, which makes them instantly cool. Anyways, check them out!

Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks

Saturday, December 6, 2008

PHL to ROA

In a nutshell, we moved. We're not in Chapel Hill yet, but are several large steps closer to being there.

Here is a brief synopsis of the past few days. On Wednesday some great friends helped me move us out of our house. Then Thursday we had the settlement on our house then drove from Philly to Roanoke, VA. Yesterday we unloaded the truck. Today, we're relaxing.

Now here are some details:
Our house sold in an extremely sluggish housing market. It only took 45 days to sell, and considering the market, that's amazing. At the settelment on Thursday, we ended up making a little money on our house. And by 'a little', I really mean a little. I was handed a check for $6.14. Yes, you read that correctly. We'll end up getting some money back from escrow, which will be about $300, but the profit was only $6.14. The fantastic thing is that we didn't lose any money.

After the settlement on Thursday, we left Philly to come to Roanoke. As soon as we hit the expressway, I realized that the rental truck was painfully slow. I called Jo and said, "This is going to be a long trip." On the whole way down, it never got above 61 or 62 MPH (going downhill) and usually stayed at about 55 MPH, and that was with the pedal floored. We left Philly around 1:40 pm and arrived here at 11pm. So a 6.5 - 7 hour drive took 9 1/4 hours. Hurt me! I was getting passed by everyone, and I mean everyone because the speed limit the whole way was either 65 or 70. So I was 'that driver' - the one going so painfully slow that other drivers zip by like they're standing still.

Since we're staying here in Roanoke with Jo's parents until I can find a job and we can find a place to live in Chapel Hill, we brought all of our stuff here to store. Unloading the truck yesterday was so much easier than loading it. They have a huge garage and a huge walk in basement, so the unloading was rather painless. No stairs to climb or descend. No moving stuff out of attics or up basement stairs. Just right into the garage or right into the walk-in basement.

Last night, after the truck was unloaded, I was going to move the truck from the driveway to the street and it wouldn't stay cranked. I tried several times, but it would not keep running. I did manage to get it down to the street and kind of park it before it died. It didn't need to be back until this morning, so I didn't worry about it too much. I just planned to get up this morning and try to crank it again. And this morning, it wouldn't crank at all. So I called Budget and to explain the situation (they were very helpful). About 2 hours or so later, a mechanic came out to try to fix it. He was a real country boy and it took my ears a minute to get used to his drawl (I'm from the South, but my ears are used to hearing East Coast speak). Long story short, he couldn't get it to run either. He told me, in his mountain man/ mouth full of chewing tobacco speak - "You ain't gotta worry 'bout this truck no more." And about an hour after he left, a tow truck came and got it.

On the trip down I had these terrifying visions of a breakdown or a crash where all of our stuff would either have to be unloaded from a broke down truck onto another, or strewn all over the interstate because of an accident. But neither of those happened. How awesome though that the truck didn't break down on the drive from Philly! And as a bonus, I didn't even have to return the truck, a sweet deal if I ever heard of one.

Now we're just relaxing, trying to rest up and enjoy a few days break. I don't have a job right now and that's okay. Being here in VA will be like an extended holiday. So we're here, about 4 big steps closer to being in Chapel Hill. The great thing is that CH is only 3 hours away from Roanoke, which makes job hunting and apartment/ house hunting much easier.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

the last days

That's right, the last days. Not THOSE last days of 4 horsemen and all that other apocalyptic stuff, but my last days. Specifically, my last days here in PA. Its been great being here in PA for the past 3 years. Today I have my last day at work. Tonight we'll spend our last night in our house. Tomorrow, I'll walk out of our house, get in the moving truck, and drive away for the last time. And early Thursday afternoon, we'll leave PA and drive south towards VA. And this may be the last time I'll be in PA, maybe for a while, maybe ever.

A lot has happened here. We've had 2 kids. We bought and sold our first house. We made some amazing friends. We were a part of the best church that, up until now, we've ever been a part of. I shoveled snow for the first time ever (a real novelty the first time, but not so great after that). We bought our first minivan (making us official grownups - I knew that when I stopped drooling over pickup trucks and SUVs with large tires and high ground clearance and started looking almost exclusively at minivans that I was growing up).

Whenver I leave a place and go somewhere else, I think of what I will and won't miss. I will miss lots of things here - Blue Route Vineyard and all our fantastic friends there, our house, some aspects of my job, Rita's water ice, Iron Hill, Total Wine in Delaware. There are also things I won't miss - east coast drivers, east coast abruptness (otherwise known as rudeness, but I'm trying to be nice), having to buy beer by the case, some aspects of my job, etc. These are not by any means exhaustive lists.

Its hard for me to be extremely sad and look for closure right now. Partially since phone calls, Facebook, blogs, and emails mean I'm in almost daily contact with most people I know. But also, since Jo and I have been married, we've had big transitions every few years and this is just one more biggie. In brief,we came back from China in 2001 and got married. We moved to France in 2003. We moved to Morocco in 2004. We moved to PA in 2005. And now we're moving to NC. Jo and I just look at each other and say, "God please let this be the last big transition for a while, please?" We'd love for our kids to grow up in Chapel Hill. We'd love to really plant ourselves there and really invest ourselves there. We'd love for lots of things to happen.

So in these last days, 'mixed feelings' is definitely the way I would describe the way I feel. But as cliche as it may sound to some people, I find my greatest comfort in the promise of Jesus, "I am with you, always."

Sunday, November 30, 2008

our little Jedi in the making

Adelle has a way of saying things that is really interesting. When Rodger and Angela visited us recently, they pointed out that her phrasing is very Jedi-like. She says things like "I should have a snack" and "I should go outside", almost like she's trying to use her burgeoning Jedi powers to persuade us. Next she'll be saying things like "you should buy me that toy" and as she grows up it will be things like "you should let me stay out later."

And, as an added bonus today, here are a couple of Thanksgiving pics:

Dogpile! - Adelle uncharacteristically jumps on top of our friends' sons














Evie's 1st Thanksgiving
. Yummy!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Amazing Race marching

The Amazing Race, one of the few shows I would put in the category of "I love it" had an extremely funny scene in last weekend's episode. This guy Dan is not retarded (nothing against the mentally challenged, but the only word I can think of to describe him is retarded. He should get an award or something for this.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Day!

Happy Turkey Day! And speaking of turkeys, click here for some funny photos of our soon to be ex-president. I don't necessarily dislike the guy, but man he takes some funny funny pictures. Here's just one to whet your appetite. Enjoy!

Monday, November 24, 2008

'God's dead, what now?'

I was talking with one of my colleagues, who was an English teacher for many years, about Obama and how many people are looking at him as a messiah type figure. This is something that Obama admits he can never ever live up to. Then my colleague was talking about the idea that when there is no God, people make their own. The he shared some interesting quotes from a couple of poets which deal with the idea that 'God is dead' or rather that He's dead/ dying in our society. So I looked up Eugene O'Neill (American playwright and author), one of the guys he quoted. Here's a quote by O'Neill and a then passage that mentions Nietzsche in connection with O'Neill (emphasis mine). I think these passages very describe well what has taken place in Western society.

The sickness of our time
The sickness of our time lies in the death of the old God and failure of Science and Materialism to give any satisfying new one for the surviving primitive religious instinct to find a meaning for life in, and to comfort his fears of death with.
[O'Neill, “Letter of Aug. 26, 1926,” printed in “As Ever, Gene”: The Letters of Eugene O'Neill to George Jean Nathan, ed, Nancy L. Roberts and Arthur W. Roberts (Cranbury, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 1987, 84.]

Nietzsche and O'Neill
...But closer background inspection [of the philosophical contexts of certain works] exposes Nietzsche's and O'Neill's abdication from a God as a reconstructive move that critiques the deceptive man-made gods of their times. In Derridean terms, both writers preserve the existence of a God-function and only shift the ontology of its contents from the transcendental to the immanent: the individual takes over metaphysics and becomes his or her own god...

Eugene O'Neill was part of the intellectual movement that swept Western thought during the twentieth century, and swept the “old gods” out of its philosophy—and life. But unlike most modern thinkers, O'Neill was uncomfortable with the void left by so drastic a denial. His life, and especially his writings were a never-ending search for “new gods” to replace the old, gods that would be meaningful to modern men. http://www.eoneill.com/library/review/19/19n.htm

Thursday, November 20, 2008

song of the day

Knife Party (acoustic on the beach) by the Deftones from the album White Pony. This is one of my favorite all time songs:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

change of scenery

If you don't understand the significance of the postcard, its this: we're moving to Chapel Hill, NC. So I thought a little pre-greeting would be in order. In short, our house is selling (we close on it Dec 4) and then we're off! I don't have a job yet, but its possible I could keep my AWM job and work remotely. So we'll see what happens.

Read Jo's blog for more details.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

self-help critic

A guy names Steve Salerno wrote a book called SHAM: the Self-Help and Actualization Movement. I read the first chapter of it online yesterday. Steve is an outspoken critic of the self-help movement in America. He views this movement as having handicapped American society and talks about some of its ramifications. Interesting stuff. Steve also has a blog called SHAMblog.

Here are a some excerpts from the first chapter of his book:

Quote from comedian George Carlin: If you’re reading it in a book, folks, it ain’t self-help. It’s help.

Recovery, Victimization theory...the message became Your needs are paramount here. It’s all about you. Recovering a healthy sense of self entailed forsaking your excessive or unhealthy concern for others—for in the twelve-step universe, such excessive concern came to constitute the pitiable emotional quagmire of codependency....

In his brilliant book Fat Land, Greg Critser points out that more than a generation’s worth of faddish weight-loss programs have served only to produce the fattest generation of Americans on record (Not insignificantly, weight-loss programs have become, in essence, self-help programs...

Divorce in 1960 claimed about a quarter of all marriages. Today it claims about half. Although thankfully that statistic is trending back down, American marriages have the highest known failure rate in the world...But how many Americans walk out the door because they no longer feel compelled to suffer so-so marriages in silence? Worse, how many Americans has SHAM conditioned to think their marriages are so-so, when in reality they’re pretty normal?

Nowadays, young marrieds of both genders may be a tad too focused on their own fulfillment, with catastrophic effects for domestic tranquility. I first interviewed David Blankenhorn for a magazine assignment in 1988, and he told me, “I think people today are less forgiving in relationships, and more inclined to walk at the drop of a hat.” He made an interesting point about the famous JFK quote “Ask not what your country can do for you . . .” and its relevance to a wholesale change in society’s perspective on the institution of marriage...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

pizza party

Our friends Mark and Abby had us over for a 'make your own pizza' lunch this past weekend. It was big fun and also a really great idea, especially for kids. Here's Adelle and me rolling out some dough. I have no idea what I was laughing at.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

yes, no, and Don Miller

Yes: I voted for Obama.

No: I don't think he's the antichrist.

Don Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, has a fantastic post on his blog which deals with politics, Democrats v. Republicans, and Christians.

Friday, November 7, 2008

reading and listening to...

Before I switched from Xanga to Blogspot about a year ago, I used the 'Currently reading' and 'Currently listening to' tools all the time. Does Blogspot have something like that? If so I'm ignorant of it. In lieu of that here are just a couple plain old lists. Who needs fancy blogging tools anyways?

Books I'm currently reading

Duma Key by Stephen King - King continues to show that he's a master storyteller. His recent books have all been good, especially Lisey's Story. I've also been trying to read some of his older books that I've never read like The Dead Zone and The Shining. Along with Salem's Lot, The Shining is one of the 2 King books that I couldn't read parts of at night because they were so creepy/ scary.

How to Read the Bible for All its Worth
by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart - the subject is evidenced by the title, but the book goes deeper into Bible reading and talk about things that help the reader understand the Bible as it was understood by its original authors and audience.

Power Healing
by John Wimber - for anyone who's interested in healing in any form. The first few chapters are autobiographical. The rest (that I've read so far) is about specific types of healing and how to address them. Has lots of stories, many of which are firsthand events from Wimber's life and ministry.

Airframe by Michael Crichton - This book is not all that great so I'm reading it really slowly and might not finish it. It certainly doesn't compare to Jurassic Park, Sphere, or my favorite Crichton book, Timeline. I only learned today (or may be it was yesterday) that he died. He was a great American author.

Books I'm recently read
Neuromancer by William Gibson - Gibson originated the idea of the matrix which the Wachowski brothers used in making The Matrix films. He also coined the term cyberspace. A must read for sci-fi fans.

Wizard's First Rule
by Terry Goodkind - this book was amazing. I may have blogged about it but if I did, I forget. If you like fantasy or sci-fi, I highly recommend this first book in the Sword of Truth series. There's actually a TV series called The Legend of the Seeker that will begin airing soon which is based on these books. It looks like a quality show.

Music
The newest songs by Norma Jean and mewithoutYou. 2 great bands who continue to put out great music. Not for everyone, but great just the same.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

election day perspective

"It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes."
Psalm 118:8,9

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween 2008

I'm not a big fan of Halloween. Mainly because I can't get candy the way little kids can. Anyways, here are pics of our girls. Adelle and her best friend Carmen were both Cinderella and Evie was baby Tigger. They had lots of fun.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

another reason to say 'No!' to Starbucks

I don't like Starbucks. One of my goals in life is not to go there which is really not a hard goal to accomplish. Apart from reasons like a profusion of waste (paper cups, plastic lids, plastic stirrers, napkins, etc), poor quality of their coffee, and a lack of cleanliness in most S'bucks I've been to, Jo recently told me another reason to not support S'bucks. Every S'bucks leaves their water running. In order to keep their water tasting fresh, they leave it running all day long. All day. Not 10 minutes or half an hour, but all day long. Jo confirmed this with her friend Mary who worked at S'bucks for a long time. Its common operating procedure. So she's decided to stop giving her money to them. She's not asking all her friends to boycott. She's not going to stand outside the nearest one with signs. But she is considering the big picture regarding how she spends her money and what she's supporting.

So Jo's not asking people to boycott S'bucks and neither am I. Its easy to blog "Boycott!!" or shoot off a mass email saying, "Boycott Starbucks!!" But instead I'd rather see us be people who think about what we do with our money. The latest Relevant magazine has several articles about this in its latest edition. It doesn't look like they've got the articles on their web site yet, but probably will have them there soon.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

economic woes

As a result of outrageous inflation in Zimbabwe, this whole stack of bills is worth $100. Yes, one hundred American dollars equals this entire pile of Zimbabwean dollars. And you thought our economy was bad! Click the photo to see more.

Monday, October 27, 2008

a couple of good movies

Rescue Dawn
Yesterday I watched
this film which is set in the Vietnam era. I actually finished watching it the same day I started, something that is quite rare for me these days. I did have to watch it in 3 segments, but I watched all 2 hours of it in the same day. Anyways, Rescue Dawn stars Christian Bale (the latest actor to play Batman), Steve Zahn (he's been in lots of stuff), and Jeremy Davies (Saving Private Ryan, the TV series Lost - he plays Daniel). It chronicles the true life story of a Dieter Dengler, an American pilot in the Vietnam War era. His plane gets shot down over Laos and he is taken captive and then put into a small prison camp with other POWs. Dieter creates a plan to bust them out. Christian Bale (the big star in this film) is a great actor, and I enjoy Davies' quirkiness, but the acting I really appreciated was done by Zahn. He really shows his versatility here. This is a great film especially if you're interested in war stories.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Despite the clunky title, this is an excellent movie. It's a long one (160 minutes), but worth watching. If you like Westerns you'll like this one. The title pretty much explains what the movie is about. In short, it focuses on the James Brothers (Frank and Jesse) and their gang of bandits and leads up to the assassination of Jesse. The storytelling is excellent, character development is well done, the acting is great, and the visuals are really geourgeous. The film is set in the 'Old West' so we get to see lots of mountains, Old West towns, farmsteads, etc. It stars
Brad Pitt, but like Rescue Dawn (above), I was impressed more by the 'lesser star' than by the big star. Casey Affleck (Good Will Hunting, Oceans 11,12, & 13) is one of those actors to keep your eye on. He will be one that keeps getting better and better (unlike his brother Ben).

I also saw
Max Payne starring Mark Wahlberg in the theater. If you're thinking about dropping 9 bucks on this one, hang on to your cash and see it on DVD. I love Mark Wahlberg, but this film seemed a bit flat and the plot a bit thin. Its not bad, but it wasn't fantastic either.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mike (a.k.a. "way outside my comfort zone")

Before you start reading, know that this post will be a long one. Okay, I warned you.

I got back from Chicago on Friday evening. Jo and the girls had gone to see her folks because I was out of town and I had intentionally not arranged for someone to pick me up. I decided to take public transit home because I was in no hurry. So there I was waiting for the bus when a guy walks up and sits on the bench near me. He asked me if I have change for a five dollar bill. I looked and didn't have change, but thinking he needed a dollar for a transfer (in Philly you need a transfer to get from one bus/ trolley/ el/ train line to another) I gave him a dollar and said, "Take this, consider it a gift from God."

Then he (Mike is his name) started chatting with me, telling me he was from Seattle and that he'd come to Philly to try out for a new NBA D-League team, the Erie Bayhawks, a farm team of the 76ers. Apparently a guy Mike had met before at a tryout in Reno a few months ago told him to call him if he came to Philly and Mike could stay with him. But this guy hadn't been answering his phone either before Mike left Seattle or at the moment when he had just arrived in Philly. So Mike kept trying to call with no answer so he was stuck. He wasn't exactly sure where he needed to go for the tryout, didn't have enough money for a hotel, and didn't know anyone is Philly. His plan was to go to Center City Philly and figure something out. When he asked if the buses at this stop would take him to Center City, I said no, but the train would take him there.

Here's where we get to the 'way outside my comfort zone' part. During this whole time, the Holy Spirit was pressing hard on me, telling me I needed to let Mike stay at our house. I quickly started making excuses but the Spirit would not let up. So I let Mike walk away to go find the train, but the the Spirit was still pressing. So after a few minutes of excuse making, I yielded to the Spirit, left the bus stop, and went to find Mike. When I walked up, he looked at me like, 'what?' So I asked what he planned to do when he got into Philly and he had no clue. I invited him to come stay the night at our house. He looked at me again with that 'what?' look and said, "Really?" and I said yeah.

As we sat waiting for the bus, he was talking to his girlfriend on the phone telling her that I was going to let him stay with me. She must have said something like, "Mike, what did you do to make that guy let you stay with him?!" because Mike said to her, "I didn't do anything at all; this is totally God!" And after that the conversation turned even more toward spiritual things. He'd already asked some questions that I answered in such a way that made Mike know I am a follower of Jesus. So as we were waiting for the bus, he asked me more even questions which led me to tell him Jo and I had been missionaries, we now work for the mission, etc. Mike then started sharing with me about the church he's been going to for the past 6 or 7 months. He told me that whenever he's there, he feels God's Presence. And then he asked me about my tattoos, always a popular topic of conversation when other people see them. Turns out that he had recently gotten his first tattoo, praying hands with the word 'Faith' above them. So the more we talked the more we connected on the topic of God and spirituality.

Eventually the bus came and we got on. About a hour later, after a bus ride and a transfer to the trolley and walking 1/2 mile, we got to our house at about 7:45pm. Long story short - we went to get Chinese food, then got on the computer to figure out where he needed to go, then both went to bed because Mike planned to get up early the next morning. Mike wanted to get an early start because he was going to have to take a combination of trolley, subway, and train to get to the tryouts, which turned out to be in New Jersey about 45 minutes away by car. So he was up early and out the door by 7am.

As Mike was leaving on Saturday morning, my parting word to him was, "Mike, God wants you to put Him first." As he walked out the front door, he told me he would call to let me know how things turned out. He also told me he wouldn't forget how I helped him. I've heard that line from people that I've helped in the past so I wasn't extremely hopeful about hearing from him, but sure enough, Saturday night, I got a call from Mike telling me he'd gotten to the tryouts okay and that he was in a hotel near there with another guy. Then he actually called me again yesterday afternoon. I missed the call because my phone was on vibrate and I didn't notice he'd called until I was about to go to sleep. But I'll give him a call today and see how things went.

He flys back to Seattle tonight and plans to spend today sightseeing in Philly. So please pray for Mike after you read this. And if you read this after the day its posted, please pray that Mike would yield himself completely to the Lord Jesus. Pray also that his church will really shepherd him towards full trust in Jesus.

The big thing I've been learning over the past few years is learning to hear the Spirit and obey immediately. I'm sad to say that I have disobeyed lots of times, making excuses to justify my disobedience. But this time, I had no excuses.
Jo and the girls were out of town so Mike would be no threat to them. The worst thing that might happen is that he would attack me in my sleep and rob me of the little bit of cash that I had. I knew I could keep Mike out of some trashy hotel, homeless shelter or worse, off the streets of Philly (where there is more than one murder per day). Although I hesitated at first, the Spirit was insistent and thankfully I relented. Jesus is teaching me how to usher in the Kingdom little by little and in this whole event, the Kingdom came in a small way.

I learned first hand about true hospitality by inviting Mike to stay with me. God brought somebody across my path who urgently needed some serious hospitality. He used me to minster to the 'stranger and alien'. Its funny because I'd just given a talk at Moody about what it means to be spiritual. I'd framed it in the context of holistic ministry and that caring for person in one fashion (physical, spiritual, etc.) is to care for the entire person. I'd encouraged the students to help those who need help, be a friend, house the homeless and do other Jesus type stuff. And the Lord called me out on what I'd just shared and gave me an opportunity to practice what I had preached. Having Mike at our house wasn't a hardship and I was blessed by spending time with him.

I also have been realizing that my car separates me from people. Getting out of my car and either walking or taking public transit puts me in contact with people. And since we who follow Jesus are in the people business, leaving my car behind occasionally is a good things. But its not about whether I drive or get to my destination some other way; its about intentionally putting myself around people. Because ministry rarely happens when I'm riding in the car (or sitting on the sofa for that matter).

Lastly, I'm not sharing this story to lift myself up or get pats on the back from people. I write this because I'm rejoicing over what happened and to encourage you the reader.
And by the way, if you're trying to picture Mike, he's African-American, about 6'2" or 6'3" and totally dresses like a basketball player (baggy pants, hoodie, etc).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I forgot my pants

No this is not about a dream I had the other night where I forgot my pants (although I do have those from time to time). This has to do with reality. I am writing from Moody Bible Insitute in Chicago where I am representing my missions agency at Moody's yearly missions conference. And I forgot my pants.

When I was packing yesterday morning to come here, I packed everything else I needed: nice shirts, my nice shoes, toothbrush, soap, underwear, socks, some books, a fleece jacket in case it gets a little chilly here, and even dental floss. But somehow I forgot to pack any pants. I realized it a couple of hours after I got here. I wore a pair of jeans to travel out here, but I have presentations to give and Moody requires that we not wear jeans.

I had a seminar to give at 11:30 this morning so I decided to go buy some pants at the nearest Salvation Army. As I was just about to leave campus to go get some pants, I bumped in to a student that I met here 2 years ago. We chatted briefly then I said, "I'm going to ask you something weird. What size pants do you wear?" He isn't my exact size, but it was worth a shot. He said "yeah sure, come to my room" so I went and tried them on and they fit well enough. A little snug in the waist, but long enough and they looked nice enough to stand in front of people and talk.

When I went to do my seminar, I introduced myself like this: "Hi, my name is Jamie. And these are not my pants." My seminar went well by the way.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Go Pigeon! Go Pigeon!

If there was ever any doubt that Pigeon John is the single most talented hip hopper/ most fun guy on the face of the earth, here's proof. Go Pigeon!!!

The Pigeon John Dance


Live @ 103.1 FM


Live on the Tom Green Show

Thursday, October 9, 2008

a few movies I've seen recently

Vertigo, Rope, and Rear Window
All of these are Alfred Hitchcock films and all of them star Jimmy Stewart. Until I saw these, the only Jimmy Stewart film I remember seeing was Its a Wonderful Life. But he is/was a diverse actor with a lot of talent. I'd also not seen a Hitchcock film before, not that I remember, so I thought I would go to one of masters to see how a film should be done.

All three Hitchcock films are great. Vertigo is one of the all time classics films and Rear Window is great too, but Rope was my favorite of these three. It is great because of the technique Hitchcock used to shoot it. He shot the entire film in one apartment set. And instead of doing lots of cuts and edits, he filmed it in 10 - 15 segments. So there are only 4 - 5 edits in the entire film. Which means the actors would act for 10 - 15 minutes straight rather than having lots of small cuts. I can only imagine how many takes it took them to get through each segment.

Iron Man

Compared to other comic book to film adaptation disasters that I've seen (like Daredevil and Ghost Rider), its purely amazing. In general, its one of the better comic book films made, not as good as Blade or Constantine, but definitely as good as the first two X-Men. This is a great movie even without knowing anything about the comic. Robert Downey Jr is so awesome in this film. And I love Terrance Howard who plays James Rhodes (you can also see him in Hustle & Flow, Crash, two of my favorite films). It took me a while to recognize Jeff Bridges. See it!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Marimba Ponies

My supervisor Dennis shared this with me. This video starts out all cute, then goes into straight up amazing. This group of Japanese kids aged 4 - 12 are awesome!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

3 things

Just when I thought Christian marketing and retail couldn't get any more ludicrous, I saw this today. In case you can't read the text at the bottom of the photo it says 1 in 3 Trinity Energy Drink. The website describes at as "Fused with the Fruit of the Spirit." Yes, now we have a 'christian' energy drink. Seriously? Words can't express how much this bothers me.












Okay, that was something I hate, now here's something I know I would love. I mean 'Love' with a capital 'L'. Its called the 'Fatty Melt.' It is made by sandwiching a hamburger patty between 2 grilled cheese sandwiches!!! I think this rivals the Krispy Kreme bacon cheese burger. Why didn't I think of this before?













Lastly here's a really great site called Every Monday Matters. It has 52 activities for each Monday of the year for people who want to make a difference in their world. I think this is an awesome idea. Check it out!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

stay together for the kids

Here is an excerpt from a really awesome article:

Separation Anxiety: It’s a National Epidemic, So Why Do Couples Continue to Divorce?
"Having watched all four seasons of Intervention, I find myself fascinated by the common denominators among addicts. In most cases, the addict has suffered a severe trauma sometime in his life, and three such traumas surface more than the rest. The first two are sexual molestation and close proximity to a killing...But perhaps the most common trauma experienced by the show’s addicts is divorce..."

If you're intrigued, you'll find the rest of this article in Salvo magazine. Salvo is a really great magazine by the way.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

(ir)relevant to our culture

Does anybody remember Nitro Praise from the mid to late 1990s? I had a friend/ roommate in college who LOVED Nitro Praise (NP from here on out). He's this geeky kind of guy who would never go to a dance club, but who would blast NP all day long if you would let him. If you haven't heard of NP before, let me fill you in: It was a series of Christian CD's which took contemporary praise music and set it to dance club beats (mostly techno type stuff). Imagine a song like "As the Deer" set to techno. Its not pretty. Its actaully a bit annoying and not very enjoyable. But Christians were way into it because it felt okay to listen to dance music because the songs were all praise songs.

So why am I talking about NP? A few weeks ago Matthew Paul Turner blogged about a new video game called Guitar Praise. That's right, folks, Guitar Praise (GP). GP is a Christian copy of games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. The official website says this:

"Strap on the guitar and play along with your favorite bands—tobyMac, Relient K, Flyleaf, Newsboys —and more. SHRED the riffs…THUMP the bass…BLAST that solid Christian Rock!"

You get to 'rock out' to shredders like Petra, Chris Tomlin, and the Newsboys. There are a couple of rockin' bands on the song list (like The Crucified - one the best metal bands ever, Christians or not), but most of them are songs that I could never shred, thump, or blast. Apparently the same company that makes GP also makes a game called Dance Praise.

Anyways, I have serious biases against 'christian entertainment'. It just simply is not (in my opinion) the way we should live as believers, continually separating ourselves from our culture. I read an observation recently, maybe in Relevant magazine, about how Christians in general are not counter-cultural, but have become merely another sub-culture.
So instead of innovating, many 'christian' products tend to be knock-offs of regular products (Guitar Praise for example). I tend to be biased against things labeled 'christian' because many are cheesy and often of low quality. I didn't say 'all things' but many, even most. So if I can help it, I never set foot into 'christian' retail stores.

I see no need for a plumber who comes to Christ to become a 'christian plumber'. In the same way, I see no need for an artist who follows Jesus to label everything they create 'christian' or for a believing software designer to call his products 'christian software.' Etc, etc, etc.
There is something beautiful about simply being a follower of Jesus.

Friday, September 26, 2008

what flavor is that ice cream?

Just when I thought I had heard everything, I read yesterday that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has petitioned Ben and Jerry's ice cream company to substitute the cow's milk in its ice cream with human breast milk!! This is no joke. You can read the official letter on PETA's website.

PETA thinks that by doing this they will reduce the suffering of dairy cows. A blogger named Sadie Stein responded to this by saying, "Apparently no consideration is given to the lactating women who would need to be "milked" to make a single pint of Cherry Garcia..." (link) . Sadie also posted part of Ben and Jerry's reply to PETA: "We applaud PETA's novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother's milk is best used for her child."

PETA got this idea from a Swiss restaurant which had planned to use 75% breast milk in their cooking. However The Times Argus, a local Vermont newspaper (
Ben and Jerry's is based in Vermont), went more into depth and reported that the Swiss restaurant called Storchen "ran afoul of health regulators in Switzerland. The restaurant made headlines in Europe when it began advertising in German newspapers looking for human breast milk, but the plan was scrapped after government inspectors threatened to take legal action." If you want to read about how crazy the Swiss are about animal rights, check out this great article in Salvo magazine. Some people have too much free time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

look carefully...

Do you see the guys standing and sitting next to the policeman? These are not a photoshopped. They are an art form practiced by a Chinese artist named Liu Bolin. He mixes painting (of a person) and photography to produce camoflauge. Here are links to more of his photos:
Design Boom
Galerie Bertin

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

conspiracy?

I heard this on the TV news a couple of days ago then yesterday read this article from the Washington Post. The FDA is banning generic drugs made in India, for what amounts to no good reason. The article says,

"The Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that it was halting importation of 28 drugs made by the giant Indian generic drug maker Ranbaxy Laboratories because of manufacturing deficiencies at two of the company's plants.

Douglas Throckmorton, a physician with the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said there was "no evidence of harm to consumers" from drugs made at the Dewas and Paonta Sahib plants, both in India. He called the import ban 'a preventive action.'

FDA officials said numerous tests of the drugs have found they are not contaminated, sub-potent or unsafe and urged patients taking the drugs not to stop."

There something really fishy about this to me. Here's how I see it: There is nothing wrong with these drugs. They are cheaper than American brand name drugs. American drug companies aren't happy. So they're pressuring the FDA to have these Indian drugs kept out of the country. Conspiracy theory? Maybe. But it also might be true. The pharmaceutical lobby is one of the most powerful ones in the nation. They put lots of pressure on government officials. Why? In short so they can continue to make money. Greed makes me sick.

You might think I'm being paranoid, but it wouldn't be the first time a special interest lobby has changed governmental policy. How about the food pyramid and the USDA's recommendation for healthy eating? Take milk for example - it does a body good right? That's what the adverts say right? And how much milk and dairy products does a person need? What about meat, how much do we need? Are people actually being encouraged to eat healtheir? Is the food pyramid based on what we need or is it based on what special interests groups have paid the government to promote?

Here are a couple of articles if you're interested in reading more:
http://www.oligopolywatch.com/2004/09/12.html
http://www.nutritionalconcepts.com/Articles/USDA%20Won%27tTellYou.htm
http://www.rollcall.com/issues/49_35/vested/3114-1.html?type=printer_friendly
http://nutrition.suite101.com/article.cfm/problems_with_the_food_pyramid

I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I do believe that money runs our government and that legislators aren't concerned about the best interests of our nation, but themselves. There, that's my soapbox for today.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

beach

Last week we had the great privilege of having a vacation at the Jersey shore. Here's a pic of Adelle (L) and Carmen (R) getting doused by the waves:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

serious and not so serious

First the serious. On any given night there are about 73,000 homeless people on in L.A. In a really awesome article called "Finding L.A.'s Hidden Homeless" the LA Times describes the things homeless people do to meet their housing needs.

Next, the not so serious. This has to be my dream cheeseburger - the Krispy Kreme bacon cheddar burger:

Monday, September 1, 2008

my kind of greeting cards

Finally! Greeting cards that truly express the way feel and that I would gladly spend money on. They're called "Unmentionables" and are described like this on the web site:

"Are you too nice to tell jerks how you really feel? Then let these little monsters do it for you. With this handy booklet in your pocket, shabby waiters, chatty strangers and loud-cell-phone-talkers have finally met their match."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

heavy metal monk

This is no joke. Brother Cesare Bonizzi, also known as Frate Cesare and Fratello Metallo ("Brother Metal") really is a heavy metal monk. He is an Italian monk who got 'converted' to heavy metal. How crazy is this? Follow this link to the BBC news story where they interview him and his bandmates. And check out his website. Its weird but he he actually kind of fits into the metal scene (in a weird monkish kind of way) with his fat beard and long robe. Too cool! Watch the YouTube video below (its all in Italian, but shows him performing). Who says monks can't ROCK!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

I'm not really a hater - music

After the last post post about the Olympics, I decided to write something positive. One of my favorite things in the whole wide world is music, so this post is about music I like. First here are just a few 'classic' songs that I can hear over and over again and without ever getting tired of them:
Maggie May - Rod Stewart
Let's Groove - Earth, Wind and Fire
For Once in My Life - Stevie Wonder (it was really hard to pick one Stevie song since they are all so good - except "I Just Called to Say I love You")
I Love Rock and Roll – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
Kiss – Prince
Mayonnaise – Smashing Pumpkins

Also, here is a very incomplete list of some of my favorite all time albums. And for me favorite means an album I can listen to a million times and love it more each time I hear it:

Paul's Boutique - Beastie Boys (I might know every word to this album)
Nevermind – Nirvana
Ten – Pearl Jam
Electric Ladyland – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
American Thighs – Veruca Salt

Parachutes – Coldplay
The Swiss Army Romance – Dashboard Confessional
Rock For Light – Bad Brains
Siamese Dream - Smashing Pumpkins
Led Zeppelin III
Brown - P.O.D.

Street Signs – Ozomatli
Facelift – Alice in Chains
Dirt – Alice in Chains

And lastly, here are the bands, artists and albums I have listened to most over the past 4 or 5 years:

Saves the Day - everything, but especially "Stay What You Are" and "Through Being Cool"
Taking Back Sunday - "Tell All Your Friends" and "Where You Want to Be"
Ozomatli - everything, but especially "Street Signs"
Jack Johnson - everything he's done
Daphne Loves Derby - "Good Night Witness Light" and "On the Strength of All Convinced"
Deftones - everything, but especially "Adrenaline"
Demon Hunter - Summer of Darkness
Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
Corine Bailey Rae
Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon

So what are your musical faves?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Les Jeux Olympics (the Olympics) and a pet peeve

The Olympics are almost over. If you didn'know that the Olympics have been going on, you are weird. I've enjoyed watching them, but there is also one big thing that bugs me - not one single American newscaster or sportscaster or athlete can properly pronounce the name of China's capital city. The 'j' in the middle of Beijing is not pronounced with a 'zh' sound like these folks do, but like the word most words that have a 'j' in them - jingle, jump, jungle, banjo, etc.

Sorry, but this is one of my pet peeves - the mispronunciation of words, and especially proper names. Its like someone pronouncing my name 'jimmy' instead of 'Jamie'. It also irks me because I lived in China and speak a bit of Chinese so it grates on my ears to hear 'Beijing' mispronounced. Lastly I'm flabbergasted that no one in the entire USA taught Bob Costas or Al Roker or any of their colleagues how to pronounce the word properly.

I think that's the first time I ever typed the word 'flabbergasted'.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

spotlight on Neatorama

Neatorama is one of my favorite web sites. Its one of those sites that compiles some of the best, funniest, and most interesting things from all over the web. Its the best of these compilation sites that I've come across. I visit it everyday. So the next time you're bored on the and want to see some funny stuff or learn some cool stuff, head over to neatorama.com.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Into the Wild

I have 2 words for you if you haven't seen Into the Wild yet: Watch It!! Directed by Sean Penn, Into the Wild is a powerful film. Several people have recommended to me and I finally got around to watching it and loved it. The IMDB gives this summary of it:
"After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life."

So like I said, Watch It!!

Also, while I'm making recommendations, if you like horror-type movies, watch Diary of the Dead and The Exorcism of Emily Rose. But please don't watch The Legend of the Black Scorpion. And don't read a book called Soul Thief by Charles Baxter.

Friday, August 15, 2008

some cool photos and bottled water

Here are some really cool artistic photos by a guy named Philippe Ramette. At the left is a sample of his work. How does this guy do some of this stuff? And since he's in the water (not so subtle segue), here are 5 reasons not to drink bottled water.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

More on the Lakeland outpouring

My sister just emailed me an article dealing with the Lakeland outpouring. J. Grady Lee, editor of Charisma magazine, wrote the article on his blog fireinmybones.com. The sad title is Life After Lakeland: Sorting Out the Confusion. Definitely a good article if you've had any interest in what has been going on in Lakeland.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

my favorite hospital show and a great song

In general I hate hospital shows. I hate Grey's Anatomy. I hate House. I really hate ER. I hate hospital shows almost as much as I hate cop dramas (ex: Law & Order: Infinity). But I love Scrubs. I mean seriously dude, I love Scrubs almost as much as any TV comedy ever. And in general I hate sitcoms. I don't watch sitcoms because they usually don't make me laugh. But Scrubs is one of those magical sitcoms that is ACTUALLY FUNNY!

Why am I talking about Scrubs? Well I was listening to some songs from the 1990s yesterday and Poison by Bell Biv Devoe came on. I know, its a cheesy R&B song from the 90s, but its one of my favorite songs. So I searched for the video on YouTube. I found the original early 1990's video made by BBD, and its way too funny, mainly because of the clothes. But I also came across this video of Turk (played by the super hysterical Donald Faison) doing this dance/ lip sync to the song. So that's why I started off with the whole hospital show theme. Anyways, here's the clip from the best hospital show ever, Scrubs. Enjoy!

Monday, August 11, 2008

the nature of Christ

The following passage is something I read yesterday in one of my VLI textbooks. This passage is fantastic. It is in a section dealing with the person of Christ, and specifically the fact that he is both divine and human:

"None of us is humanity as God intended it to be, or as it came from His hand. Humanity was spoiled and corrupted by the sin of Adam and Eve...The question is not whether Jesus was fully human, but whether we are. He was not merely human as we are; he was more human than we are. He was, spiritually, the type of humanity that we will possess when we are glorified. Jesus most fully reveals the true nature of humanity...As the image of God, humans are already the creatures that are most like him" (p. 239, Introducing Christian Doctrine, by Millard Erickson).

Putting this passage with some other things I've been learning, reading and thinking, here are some thoughts:
  • There have only been 3 'real' people in the history of the world - Adam, Eve, and Jesus
  • They alone were what humanity was meant by God to be
  • Our sin nature is not humanity's original nature
  • Adam and Eve traded some part of the image of God, their humanity, for something less than what they were meant to be
  • Jesus in his perfection is left then as the one True Man, the sinless one
Why does all this matter? Jesus is changing us and making us into what we should be, bearers of God's image. He is what we will become. Or as the Eastern Orthodox tradition states: 'He became what we are so we can become what he is.' This all matters because God's desire is to restore what was lost by changing us so we can be like Jesus. He is making all things new, including us!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army

This is the sequel to Hellboy, one of my favorite movies of all time. Starring as Hellboy is one of my favorite all time actors, Ron Perlman. I've been a fan of his since I was a kid. He played the lion-man Vincent in the 1980s TV show Beauty and the Beast, one of the best shows ever. He's also been in many of my favorite movies - Alien: Resurrection, Blade 2, and an amazing French film called La Cité des Enfants Perdus (directed by the same guy who did Amélie).

Like the orginal Hellboy, Hellboy 2 is directed by Guillermo Del Toro, one of my favorite directors. He directed the recent film Pan's Labyrinth. And apart from Ron Perlman, Hellboy 2 also stars Selma Blair, (who looks much cuter with short hair than long hair. Wow, I know I've been hanging out with my wife for a long time when I start making comments about women's hairstyles!), Jeffrey Tambor and Doug Jones. It was a really good as far as sequels go. The costumes, make up, and effects were all great. The dialogue was hysterical. All the characters are so lovable. And while it wasn't quite as good as the first one, it was still action packed and just all around entertaining. I give it 4 out of 5 étoiles.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

the fam

Here are some pics of Jo, Adelle and Evie. Evie is now 3 months old. What bunch of cuties I've got!!

I get to not work at all next week. We leave tomorrow for Jo's parents' house in VA. Its not really a vacation per se, but it is a break from the routine. Viva la Vida!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

recommended reading

Anne Rice is one of my favorite authors. Her Vampire Chronicles books are some of the best books I've ever read. For most of her writing years she has been identified with the horror genre of literature because of these books. In the past few years she had a conversion experience and started following Jesus. In light of this, she decided to write a series a fictional novels about Jesus called Christ the Lord, quite a departure from the Vampire Chronicles.

In the first book, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, we find Jesus and his family in Egypt and follow them as they leave Egypt to return to Nazareth. Rice imagines how the events of Jesus' late childhood and early adolescence might have unfolded. The second book, which I just finished yesterday, is called Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana. It picks up way after the first on left off. It skips to the adulthood of the the carpenter Jesus of Nazareth and the story goes on from there. It takes us from the days just before Jesus started his public ministry up to the beginning of his ministry.

The thing I love about these books is the way Rice portrays the humanity of Jesus. These are fictional accounts based on her research and study, but are also products of her imagination. So they and may not be accurate at all, and that's okay because they're works of fiction. But what she's doing is helping us imagine what Jesus' life on earth might have been like while he was working, laughing, dancing, crying, hungry, thirsty, etc. She does a good job of portraying the tension of his human and divine aspects without taking anything away from either either of these aspects of his being. So here are two more books to put on your summer reading list.

And finally just for good measure here is an absolutely hysterical Snickers ad featuring Mr. T. Apparently, its been banned:

Rocket Science

I watched this on a friend's recommendation and am glad I did. It was really good. I'd give it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars. It centers around a high school kid in New Jersey named Hal who has a really bad stutter. He is recruited by a girl named Ginny for the debate team. One of the main things I love about this I love about this movie is that it is real, or rather realistic in many ways. Another thing I love about it is that it is funny, but in more subtle ways than most movies. I laughed out loud at several parts. You could call the humor 'quirky' or some other word like that. Most of the actors were unknown to me. The only one I recognized is a young guy named Nicholas D'Agosto, who plays Claire's boyfriend on Heroes. The feel of the movie reminded me of Garden State which is also set in Jersey. Anyways, I highly recommend this one.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Coldplay!!

The true test of any musical group is its ability to perform live. Last night I saw an amazing band perform after having to sit through a really crappy band's performance . Jo and I had the great privilege of going to see Coldplay last night at the Wachovia Center. Their set was amazing. They are really fantastic musicians and the singer, Chris Martin, has an amazing voice. They are better live than they are recorded. I also like them because 2 of the guys had a very small role in Shaun of the Dead, possibly the best movie ever. And plus they were lots of fun. Chris Martin is funny and kept making jokes about different things. Coldplay is amazing (have I said 'amazing' yet?). I loved being in this huge arena with thousands of people who all knew the words to the songs and were really moved by the music.

The crappy performance came from the act that opened for them. When I found out that this band was opening for Coldplay , I found their myspace page and listened to them. I knew that I didn't like their music when I heard it there, but I had no clue how bad they would be live. They were entertaning, but not in a good way. Jo and I alternated between sheer disbelief/ wishing we had earplugs and fits of hysterical laughter at how bad they were. It wouldn't be too harsh for me to say that they sucked. They sucked really really badly. And I mean sucked with a capital 'S'. No, make that sucked with multiple letters and all capitals and lots of exclamation points like this: SUUUCCKKKEDD!!!!! The group is called Santogold. If you ever hear of them playing somewhere, run in the other direction, run like your life depends on it. Unless you want a good laugh.

Anyways, Jo blogged in detail about our concert going experience, so go here to see what all she wrote. In short, it was awesome.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

movies characters as caricatures

Last week I watched the film Chocolat for the first time. I'd never watched it before mainly because I'm prejudiced against chick flicks. Jo watched this movie a few years back and tried to get me to see it with her, but I declined. But last week I did. The movie itself was good. I love Johnny Depp and think he's one of the greatest actors ever. The thing that struck me the most about this movie is the way the characters were actually caricatures.

The priest in
Chocolat is a great example. He is a bumbling young guy who doesn't seem to know what he is doing. Plus he is controlled by someone else. He doesn't seem to add any real value to the community except just be a placeholder for the office of priest and guide the congregation through rituals.

This caricaturization is not unique to
Chocolat. Usually, any Christian portrayed on film or on TV is one of several extremes - they're either an over the top holy roller, an idiot, or a hypocrite - or possibly all three. Roman Catholic Christians seem to get the most frequent and worst portrayals. They are widely used to represent Christians and the Christian faith, partly stemming from the externals of Roman Catholicism - the robes worn by priest, the blacks suits and white collars, the habits of monks and nuns - you immediately identify them as a Roman Catholics. These visuals translate well into a medium which uses images to tell the story.

On one hand it bothers me that Christians are portrayed so stereotypically, but on the other hand, I realize that this kind of caricaturization happens across the board in movies. Characters are stereotyped and have qualities which lead to them being not a representation of real people, but to being caricatures of certain types of people. Muslims are terrorists, or at the very least untrustworthy. French people are arrogant and rude. Americans all carry guns and are violent. Etc, etc. Its easier to stereotype than to try to portray people in real ways.

In life this is true too. Its just much easier to say, 'all of group X is like this or that'. It takes more work to meet people in whatever group X is and befriend them. And how many times do we have our dearly held stereotypes broken down once we interact with someone from group X? I'd say almost always.

Sacrement!!

First of all, Les Québécois (French speaking people from Québec) use the word 'sacrement' as a curse word. But with their Candian French accent, its pronounced sack-ra-mon. They also use words and phrases such as "Tabernacle!" and "Sacre Bleu!" as curse words. But that's beside the point.

Recently I was reading some really interesting things in a book I have to read for VLI. This book is really good. Some of the books I read for VLI are as dry as crusty old bread or saltine crackers. They are the kind of books that insomniacs need to get into as they immediately induce sleep. But Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity by Mark Noll is not like that at all.

It deals with Christian history, but instead of it just being a straightforward history book, Noll picks out some of the most important events in Christian history, tells about the actual event, then shows its effects on Christianity as a whole (for better or worse). This book (and the class its a part of) is really teaching me a lot by revealing the history of our faith and showing how things got to be the way they are today.

The other day I was reading a really great passage on the theology of the sacraments as developed by the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. The sacraments are things like Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. The RCC's belief is that "saving grace comes through to people through the sacraments in a social setting... Receiving God's grace depended upon actually receiving the vehicle of that grace [the sacraments], and not so much how one felt about that transaction." Noll sums this theology of the sacraments by saying, "salvation was communicated through and by the sacraments."

I can kind of understand the Roman Catholic Church a little bit better now by knowing more about church history. Hooray for VLI!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

vagabonds and hobos

I found this really amazing photo series on American vagabonds, otherwise known as hobos. Wikipedia defines vagabond as "a (generally impoverished) itinerant person...A vagabond is characterized by almost continuous traveling, lacking a fixed home, temporary abode, or permanent residence. Vagabonds are not bums, as bums are not known for traveling but preferring to stay in one location."

I met a guy like this back in January, a Mexican guy who spoke with a think accent and called himself Steve. He had this beautiful big yellow dog with him, a Lab I think. I had to drop something off somewhere on my way home from work one night and saw this guy sitting with a dog in the shadows. I was afraid to go talk with him, but did it anyway even though it was a little scary. It turns out though that he was the nicest guy you could ever meet and his dog was the sweetest dog ever (once she realized that I was going to try to harass her master). He was sitting in the shadows waiting for it to get a bit darker so no one would give him a hard time. Then when it was good and dark, he was going to walk across the street to 7-11 to guy some Raman noodles which he and his dog would eat for supper. He actually didn't want anything at all from me, although I did give him some money. He told me a lot about his life story, how he got to the US, how he still has a family back in Mexico, and that he was walking south on his way to Virginia or North Carolina, somewhere where the weather was warmer and the people were kinder.

Anyways, I don't know how I should feel about people who choose this lifestyle. But no matter how I feel, these photos are amazing.