Back in the race

So its early Friday morning already. Rewind.

Monday's dinner went well, then we went home and went through our annual family prayer requests. Each year we all sit down and share what our requests were for last year and what God has done with them in the past 365. Then we share our goals/PRs for the coming year. Its something we all really look forward to.

Tuesday the rent's took off for their day with their friends, shopping and eating and whatnot. We stayed and cleaned and prepared. I took off for a bit to pick up some belated X-mas gifts (wines) and get some of my all-time favorite hot dog goodness.

The evening was nice, families and fellowship and fun. Then it was Wednesday and I flew all day and really didn't feel like writing much of anything. Then it was today, and I worked, then met up with the kids from Texas. Times Square, Burger Joint, Columbus Circle, Central Park, UWS, back to the 'boken where we closed down Maxwell's, and that brings us to the now.

Thursday's past but here's the links anyhow:

I feel kind of bad mocking them, but hey - it ain't exactly the Gospel approach. Move to South Carolina and secede!

For someone who's attempted a few drawings in ballpoint pen, I am sufficiently impressed by this.

Rest easy - Congress has (finally) concluded hearings on just who exactly did, in fact, let the dogs out.

You may have heard about the recent sale on ebay of the grilled cheese sandwich bearing the likeness of Jesus. I guess anything is possible when it comes to spiritual visage revelations in cheesy snack concoctions.

If you've seen the tsunami footage, and your brain works anything like mine, you may have thought of the last scene in Deep Impact, where the asteroid causes a massive tsunami to hit the Eastern seaboard. You see the water rush out to sea to help form the oncoming wave, much like we saw in reality after the earthquake recently. Then I read this. Not exactly comforting.

And, speaking of hot dogs, how about a shout out to some good ol Grover boys, keeping it real in the 'burgh. Can't wait to get back and be a patron.



So where am I? I've made it to Monday night. I'm taking the family to dinner at one of our fave restaurants in a little while, and tomorrow is helping sis with the prep for the big party. Both my parents and some good friends of theirs will both celebrate their 30th anniversary tomorrow, so the kids/grandkids (none grand on our side) are apparently sending them off for the day while we prepare some big event for tomorrow evening. I'm not entirely sure. But it should be great. I hope.

Then Wednesday is a day all up in the air, literally. Clean the joint Wednesday, work Thursday, welcome the Texas delegation that evening, commence wild weekend. I'm not really sure what they've planned at this point. But it should be great. I hope.

Friday night my plane got in with 17 minutes before my next was due to take off. Not a problem at most airports, but I was in Dallas. At quite the far end of the double horse shoe from where I needed to be. Hustled to the train to find that the station I was at was closed. I was at the head of the pack of charging Christmas eve commuters, so I had a fighting chance. You feel like a running back with an endless supply of line-backers and free safeties in front of you. And you have a back-pack on. Good times. Made the flight, somehow.

Saturday was the Christmas regular, that night lil bro and I stayed at grandma and grandpa's place in the mountains, and on Sunday morning I had my second favorite day of the year. Rode Volkl's new Armada, a pretty light ski (even lighter than my enduring fave, Salomon's 1080) that could still hold the slope, even at high speeds (60-65 mph). I have a feeling I would have liked it a lot better (and let it ride a little faster) at 170cm, maybe even 175cm, due to its light construction, but all they had was the 165cm, so I had to deal. They had a wide-angle C-rail that I couldn't seem to get the hang of, but not for lack of trying. Some pretty significant sore spots to show for that, but nothing that I won't be over in a week.

Shot back to the city in time for evening service, keeping the rent's pacified, as usual. Little bro is having some of the same problems with them that I did at that age, so he had a good long day of venting on the lifts, which I think he needed. He's definitely handling it better than I ever did.

And I've been sleeping, which I think is my body's general response to not sleeping very much in a long while. Last night I cleaned up on leftovers and was out cold in front of a movie before 10. I'm not getting nearly as much reading/writing done as I had hoped, but I'm ok with that. I'm happy to eat and sleep and little else, at least for another 24 or so.

You may have read the comment attached to my Christmas morning post (In Hoc Anno Domini) and thought "???"...I was doing a little blog surfing on Friday and leaving comments hither and yon, and found this post by Julie. Go ahead, read it, I'll wait right here.

Says Julie:
...what I take the teachings of Jesus to be are: LOVE, TOLERANCE, FORGIVENESS, COMPASSION...

Respondeth I:

I have to disagree just a tiny bit with "what (you) take the teachings of Jesus to be..."

Tolerance doesn't belong in that list. Jesus wasn't tolerant. He didn't tolerate the young rich man who wouldn't forsake his riches and follow him. He didn't tolerate Peter when he mouthed off about Christ's coming death ("Get thee behind me, Satan"). He certainly didn't tolerate the moneychangers in the temple. Many times in the gospels, the Greek words describing Jesus' anger were incredibly strong ("bellows," "snorting," etc.). He saw the wrong things for what they were, and He wasn't happy about them.

But thankfully, God is a just *and* forgiving God, not a tolerant one. He didn't tolerate the sins of humanity, instead, he came to die for them. Toleration wouldn't need to come and die for our sins, it could just sit back and tolerate.

You see, forgiveness requires more than that - it requires that you take on the burden that someone else would have been required to carry. If my brother wronged me, he has that burden. I can choose to let him carry it, or forgive him, and I accept the burden of his wrong.

That's what Jesus did for us on the cross. He didn't look at our sin and say "that's ok, no sweat, we're cool." He looked at us and said "I love you so much that I would die to make right the burden of your wrongs."

If that's not love and compassion, I don't know what is.

Hopefully that gives you some insight on her seemingly randomly placed comment. I'm not really sure how I conveyed that "Jesus and God [are] about damnation and judgement (SIC)," but there you have it. I'm not really sure why she wouldn't have responded in the comments section of her own blog, as most people would have, but then again, maybe I am. Regardless, I now have a blog quandary that I haven't had before - comments I don't like.

If everyone's going to be saved, why did Jesus have to come and die in the first place? Or why is there even a Hell?

Hope to check in again by Wednesday and get back to regular blogging by then. Working on some good stuff, check back soon.


In Hoc Anno Domini

When Saul of Tarsus set out on his journey to Damascus the whole of the known world lay in . There was one state, and it was Rome. There was one master for it all, and he was Tiberius Caesar.

Everywhere there was civil order, for the arm of the Roman law was long. Everywhere there was stability, in government and in society, for the centurions saw that it was so.

But everywhere there was something else, too. There was oppression--for those who were not the friends of Tiberius Caesar. There was the tax gatherer to take the grain from the fields and the flax from the spindle to feed the legions or to fill the hungry treasury from which divine Caesar gave largess to the people. There was the impressor to find recruits for the circuses. There were ers to quiet those whom the Emperor proscribed. What was a man but to serve Caesar?

There was the persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?

Then, of a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.

And the voice from Galilee, which would defy Caesar, offered a new Kingdom in which each man could walk upright and bow to none but his God. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. And he sent this gospel of the Kingdom of Man into the uttermost ends of the earth.

So the light came into the world and the men who lived in darkness were afraid, and they tried to lower a curtain so that man would still believe salvation lay with the leaders.

But it came to pass for a while in divers places that the truth did set man free, although the men of darkness were offended and they tried to put out the light. The voice said, Haste ye. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come upon you, for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

Along the road to Damascus the light shone brightly. But afterward Paul of Tarsus, too, was sore afraid. He feared that other Caesars, other prophets, might one day persuade men that man was nothing save a servant unto them, that men might yield up their birthright from God for pottage and walk no more in freedom.

Then might it come to pass that darkness would settle again over the lands and there would be a burning of books and men would think only of what they should eat and what they should wear, and would give heed only to new Caesars and to false prophets. Then might it come to pass that men would not look upward to see even a winter's star in the East, and once more, there would be no light at all in the darkness.

And so Paul, the apostle of the Son of Man, spoke to his brethren, the Galations, the words he would have us remember afterward in each of the years of his Lord:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty where-with Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of .

Vermont Royster, 1949


Bonus link

Forgot to add this last night. Charl has completed his solo circumnavigate. Some interesting reading, even now that its over. This is something I hope to do before I die, if I can. I'm looking to find a new adventure to follow, so if anyone knows of one, please point me towards it.

Leaving for the airport (flight delayed, should be a fun night), and don't expect to post tonight as I won't be home til well after a midnight clear, and I'll probably be busy eating. So a very merry Christmas to you and yours - may your celebration of the birth of our Savior be joyful, and as you receive earthly gifts, may you be focused on the eternal gift.

In the meantime

I'm not much for gifts but I've received some cool stuff that I really dig this year. I'm blessed to have good friends with good taste. Warm, joyful feelings for me.

Odd day. Slammed at work for a few hours, then left with everyone for our boss' Christmas party - tapas in Tribeca. Good food/drink, and then we all took off. Walked south through the lower end of Tribeca - still feels weird down there. Home by 4ish, surfed/read/SOF'd for a few hours. The flights are all full tomorrow thanks to weather today pushing a lot of people back. So it looks like I have to settle for the evening flight, which will put me in LATE tomorrow night. So there's no real urgency to pack tonight. So I'll do it in an hour tomorrow morning. Que sera sera.

Its Thursday. We link.

More than you ever wanted to know about the 12 days of Christmas. You may have heard some of the history/legend/whatever you decide to call it behind this song, but I'll bet you can't accurately name half of them before looking.

Ever wondered what the computer thinks before it beats you down in chess? Wonder no more.

Burn an hour perusing Sam's collection of cool video clips. And for those of you stuck in the city for the holiday, maybe check out what's going on at the park, or help a hungry person, or take a tour (click on the tour schedule link for more).

And speaking of volunteering, the rapidly growing youth group I work with is in need of more leaders to help, well, lead kids. Go here, and come check us out sometime. Working with the youth group is my reason for still being in NYC today, its meant that much to me.

I've been dabbling with RSS feeds lately, one online one in particular being Bloglines. The nice thing about an online one is that you can log onto it from any connected puter. But the thing I don't like about RSS in general is that it takes away from the experience of a given page in the first place. And I like to experience the pages that I go to on a regular basis. I suspect I'll end up using RSS to just review sites that I like to keep up from time to time but am not a regular reader of.

Thanks to some crafty maneuvering and some considerate friends, I now officially have gmail invites coming out of my ears. If you're still using hotmail, or yahoo, or whatever, you don't know what you're missing. Email me (via my profile) if you'd like one.

And finally, NYPress had a good feature last week that pointed out the gross shortcomings of the conservative right when it comes to environmental protection. I've always been a bit of a greeny on this issue, so I found the article interesting. I believe the church, in large part, rarely esteems its calling to be good stewards of this earth as fully as it should. It is curiously understandable - the Christian's natural focus is on the completed work and the hope secure of a new heaven and new earth, but nowhere in our wonderful promised gifts lies an excuse to shirk our temporal, God-given duties. We should be respecting and caring for this world in the light of what it truly is: His creation, not ours.


Death itself

Someone outside Washington has been shooting men and women without concern for race or age. The attacks have been both methodical and random...

We are always looking to make some sort of sense out of murder in order to keep it safely at bay: I don’t fit that description; I don’t live in that town; I would never have gone to that place, known that person. But what happens when we can’t say that—when there is no description, no place, nobody? Where do we go to get our peace of mind?....

The fact is, staving off our own death is one of our favorite national pastimes. Whether it is exercise, checking cholesterol, or having a mammogram—we are always trying to find out what the profile is—and then make sure we do not fit it. But a sniper taking a single clean shot, not into a crowd but through the sight, reminds us horribly of death itself. Despite our best intentions, it is still, for the most part, random. And it is absolutely coming. – Ann Patchett, New York Times Magazine, October 20, 2002



4:58 AM. Sit up, wide awake. What to do? I could go to the office again, like Monday. Got a good head start on things, so I'll look good in today's meeting regardless...so why bother? Well then, what to do? Could read. Could write. Could blog. No. Run? Too cold. Well, you're not going to get back to sleep, so you better decide on something.

This is the basic conversation I've been having in my head every morning for the past couple weeks, right around 5 AM. Not sure why I keep waking up then, but I'm going to have to learn how to fall asleep a little earlier if this trend is going to continue.


I was on a roll there for at least a few days of getting a single solid post done at the relative end of each day. Yesterday got a little nuts here in the office. Had a chance to rendezvous with the older sister I never had for some catching up, which was cool. Thanks, yo. Then back to the 'boken to meet up with George and a few others, and all of a sudden it was 11PM and the only thing I had put in my body the whole day was a small flock of Grey Geese. Which meant one thing: straight home, straight to bed. Can't remember the last time I went down in the PM, so that was pleasant.

I'm going to try to avoid any more rabid Geese attacks in the near future - I'm usually pretty good about that - so I should be able to maintain my new goal, of sorts, to write once a day. I'd really love to kill my post titles and times and go on a little more calendar format, but those are all things that will probably have to wait until I finally get around to building my own site from the ground up (tentatively slated for early spring, when football ends). I've got some decent design ideas worked up for it, so that's something to look forward to.

The holidays look like this:

Today - Playing Santa with George for some Angel Tree kids, then doing a few personal Santa visits around Hoboken (I found the perfect time to shop in NY - the week before Christmas, at 7am. All the stores are open, and no one's there. Its positively painless.)

Tomorrow - Work in the morning, then the office party @ Flor de Sol or something of that nature. Possible Geese attacks, but I'll be on guard, as I need to get home and pack for the journey home.

Friday - Try and catch a morning flight on standby. This either means I'll be home mid-day on Friday and have an afternoon/evening to chill, or I'll spend the day reading in EWR, and get home at the stroke of midnight. There are a very few select days in the year that I desperately wish I had an iBook. Friday will be one of these days. Either way.

Saturday - Normal Xmas routine.

Sunday - Northstar with Jonny. Try not to get hurt, have to stay healthy for Whistler. Evening church.

Monday - Possible return to Tahoe. Up in the air.

Tuesday - Party for Mom and Dad's (and their good friend's) 30th anniversaries. All the kids/grandkids from both families are putting it on at our place, then sending them off for the rest of the evening. Then I pack.

Wednesday - Return to the right coast. Possibly work.

Thursday - Work, then welcome the Texas crew for a couple nights' stay.

Friday - Times Square. Under much duress from the Texas crew.

Saturday - Football at J-lo's. Laugh at AP and Russ during the UT/Mich game.

Sunday - Church and re-charge for the onslaught that will be January.

I don't plan to give the blog any serious down-time, but who knows how it'll go? I've got a number of posts I'm working on as drafts, and will have to draw up a few more if I'm going to hit the daily goal. Hope to alternate between well-thought-out issues posts, and your standard run-of-the-mill updates, spiced as normal with pictures and the occasional linkery.


A stitch in time

As previously mentioned, I've already started another blog to list my pet peeves with Blogger's interface.

Today I noticed a new quirk that deserves notation here, however. The clock on my blog posts is always wrong. I used to think that it generally just pulled up whatever time it was when I started writing the post, and unless I updated it at the end (you can select the time and date that you want the post to say), it just posted the time that I originally started the post. Makes sense - you're typing on a remote page and when you publish it to your blog, it takes the time you left in the field. Theoretically it should update to the time of publish, but I guess they didn't think of that.

Anyway, I did not write yesterday's post on snow and my evening constitutional and whatnot at 12:45pm - which actually would have been well before most of what I described in that post even occurred. I actually wrote it late in the evening, though I don't think nearly so late as 12:45am, so I don't believe it was an am/pm issue. My theory is more intricate: Blogger's timing thing is just plain screwy.

I've since "corrected" (for lack of a better term) the time/date on said post to an 12:45 AM (on the 20th, today), seeing as I'm not sure exactly when I wrote it.

In the past I've paid little or no attention to the time on my posts, frankly I wish I could make it go away (another thing to peeve about), as I don't really believe in time in the first place. Going forward, however, I'll have to make more of an effort to ensure it is at least relatively accurate, so as not to confuse the reader. I believe I've done a respectable job of making sure the dates were right, and looking back a few posts, it looks like posting times are fairly accurate, to the best of my recollection, but I digress...

Perceptive readers will note updates to the sidebar, and the really perceptive ones will note I now have a Gmail address instead of the old yahoo one. I also have 4 Gmail invites for the first 4 really perceptive readers to email me at the new address. I hope to work on categorizing my links under clickable, expandable headers over my Christmas break, if there be any time for it.

If I published this post as it currently stands, it would say I wrote it at 5:29pm today. Foolish Blogger.


First snow

Today was church in the morning, then the youth group's Christmas party. I accompanied the carols with my harmonica, it may have been half decent. A gift exchange was completed with much yelling and shouting. Then I took a couple of the guys up to see Jean Luc - the kid who dislocated his knee a few weeks ago at Young Life camp - he's still laid up and looks like he'll have surgery next week. Lots of getting my butt kicked by teenagers at Halo 2. I played respectably, thanks to my regular practice with Soldier of Fortune 2, I have the basics of watching your radar and playing corners smart, not forgetting to utilize my grenades, etc.. X-box controls are so vastly different from a keyboard and mouse, though, that I didn't stand a chance in my rookie performance.

I went underground at 72nd and came up inside of Port Authority, and when the bus doors finally opened in Hoboken, there was white stuff on the ground.

This is, hands down, my favorite day of the year. Always is, every year. Most years (in the past 5) it happens while I'm at work, so I was particularly joyful and thankful that it happened today, allowing me time to enjoy it. My second favorite day is, of course, the first day I hear my heel click into the binding, but this is far and away the first.

Its a bittersweet day, in its own way, as most truly wonderful things are. Your inner spirit, full of such joy - your cup running over, whispers in the background that your excess should be shared with others. A great painting, or piece of music, a perfect glass of wine, or a day spent sailing - all wonderful things in their own right, but most fully experienced in communion. I haven't met many people in my life who understand my exuberance in this occurrence, which seems so commonplace to most folk, I suppose.

A long walk to the point tonight to just survey the city and feel the cold. Wind, ice, and a white dusting for the world. What's better than snow? God thought the concept up before time even began, just to make me happy. Even the numbness in my face gives me hope of things to come. A little more than 6 days from now, I will, Lord willing, experience my second favorite day of the year, home in Tahoe, with my brother.

This has been a good year and God has, by grace, done a lot in and for me, and I am thankful for all of it, and not thankful enough. I've quoted Steinbeck before, but it still rings true:

Do you realize that I am twenty-six now? I don't. I don't feel twenty-six and I don't look that old, and I have done nothing to justify my years. Yet I don't regret the years. I have enjoyed them after a fashion. My sufferings have not been great nor have my pleasures been violent.

I have no complaints tonight, nor should I ever. I am at peace in a good, pleasing, and perfect plan.

All good things lie in the vision of God as all rivers come from and are in the ocean. Why are your emotions and minds unsatisfied by all the things you see here? Just as you bring a great ship into a narrow channel and she cannot sail, but runs aground, yet if you give her a sea room and depth she runs like the wind—so here! All that delights you on earth, all the comforts we have here are like droplets, inflaming and not satisfying the appetites of the soul. But the lamb will lead you to fountains of living water. – John Flavel


So far so good

Saturday hasn't killed me yet. I may just survive.

By 3am this morning it was pretty clear that I was right all along about today. I decided total avoidance was the best bet - no office, no social engagements, just avoidance. Went for a ridiculously long run up towards the GW, walking tomorrow should be fairly painful. This afternoon was laundry and waving my terrible towel as the Steelers became the first team to win 12 straight games this season. The last two teams that won 12 straight games in a season were the Patriots (last year) and the Broncos (1998). Both teams went on to win the Super Bowl.

Right now I'm avoiding writing up my lesson for tomorrow. Its not going to be a long one, that's for sure.

Got the blues, real bad. Ain't been this bad since Oakdale, one of you might remember that. Heck, I can draw again. And play harmonica. If my fingers were healthy, I'd be playing guitar like Hendrix, no doubt. Yes, I know, Hendrix didn't play the blues, exactly.

I think maybe I didn't communicate what a great thing the blues can be when I last wrote about them. They're not all ice cream and puppy dogs, mind you, they are the blues. But they bring so much with them. I've only ever been at my most creative when I've been blue. Its the only time I've ever been able to draw anything worth nodding at, and my ability to do anything musical increases tenfold.

My sister wants me to start sculpting again, even has a venue she wants to place some of my pieces in. Sometimes I wish I could get everything I did together in one room, just to get some pictures, remember some of the inspirations. Who knows, maybe I will.

The one thing that the blues obviously are not positively affecting are my abilities to write. I haven't been reading nearly enough in the past few years to be writing at a decent level right now - if there's one thing I've determined about some of the best writers - its that they all seem to be very well read. Makes sense. I've been working too damn much. Thanks to my new perspective on that, combined with my hand problems (and the associated inability to go to the gym), I've been finding a lot more evening time to read. I just wish I could remember more of what I do read.


Lust (and Santa Claus)

You have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall not commit adultery." But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

In the entire sermon on the mount, that's about all Jesus had to say about lust. The verses that follow give some tough guidance on how to respond to your lustful human nature, but this is the core of it.

Matthew 5:27-30 was the subject of last Sunday's high school lesson. I touched on how, as if it weren't already hard enough to remain chaste, Jesus walks in and announces that anyone who even thinks lustfully has sinned. And we, being sexual creatures, find it nigh on impossible to get through a single day without a lustful thought of some nature. But the heart of this teaching isn't actually about lust. Its about love.

Christ is showing us here that our tendency to lust after others actually is proof positive of our complete misunderstanding of love. Society's general understanding of love is one that simply turns other people into objects for us to desire, which, at the end of the day, is actually lust.

And the focus of lust is the self.

Lust is an interesting (deceptive) sin in that the focus of lust isn't what you would be first led to notice. We generally think of the object of the lust - that's the problem after all...Why if it hadn't come along, I never would have thought to lust for it. But lust is, in fact, a sin of complete selfishness. It really has very little to do with anyone else but you, because it objectifies another person and thereby eliminates their person-hood - makes you the only person in the picture. It looks to see how the self can benefit from or exploit them as the object of desire. Gratification of the self is the end goal. The object of the lust is simply a vehicle.

Love, in truth, is the opposite of this - it lays down its life, puts its own desires to death, realizes that we are not here for ourselves, and sees others as children of God.

Christ is implicitly teaching us in this verse - not just setting up a rule or law that we should avoid breaking - but setting a standard that we should seek to go above and beyond. We are challenged to totally change the way we think about others, from the ground up.

Right. And this has, what, exactly, to do with Santa Claus? Find out here.


Things to click on

Some Thursday evenin' linkery...

First off, if you haven't heard, cell phone numbers are now game for telemarketing. Register yours here to avoid them.

Need to get married? Fast? Blaire has about 15 days left at this point.

This job predictor is dead on accurate, as far as I can tell.

I think I've linked to this before, because I think I wrote about what my amendments to the rules would include, however the rules of shotgun are pretty dead on, notwithstanding.

General Tso, a "man before his dish." I no longer feel ignorant. I can now order with an air of erudition.

Urban Dictionary. Cool.

At least one tip to diztopia, a new (to me) blog I've been reading with a large grain of salt.

Its already Thursday. Tomorrow is a LONG day filled with way too many appointments for a Friday, but I'm still a bit behind in the new market. Which, I found out today, may, or may not, include dogs. Yes, there was a dog in one of the showrooms. It did not have a bikini on.

Saturday is going to be a bad day, I don't know why yet. About two weeks ago I started dreading this Saturday, in particular. I've cancelled on most of the things that came up: helping some friends move, a brunch, a movie invite, an invite to go duck hunting in Arkansas (really), my plans to complete my photo essay, delivering Angel Tree toys here in Hoboken, and my hopes of going to see Unsilent Night, to name a few. I may do some of them (not the hunting), but no commitments. For starters, I may have mentioned that Friday is planned to be long, so I'm going to need at least some time on Saturday to prepare Sunday's lesson. And some time for the normal clean up of the mess I've made during the week. And this is all assuming I don't feel compelled to head into the office for the 3rd or 4th Saturday in a row, I'm not sure which. I'm just not looking forward to it. At least the Cooke's Christmas Spectacular is Saturday night. I have that to look forward to.

Sunday is church, high school group, then we join the junior high group for the Christmas party, in the church offices. And then we write.

Tonight is drawing. Then a pizza.

(is it not just sheer irony that Blogger's spell checker doesn't know what the word "blog" is? that and other rants on my Blogger's complaints blog, I'm trying to start, here)



of the sculptures on display that I've made a first effort to photo-document. I've only got the first few at this point, I hope to get the rest and then present a decent album. Who knows when.



So I've realized that I don't take any pride in my work, whatsoever. This is both good and bad.

I've been learning about pride for many years. Lewis called it the complete anti-God state of mind, spiritual cancer (in his chapter entitled "The Great Sin").

The real black, diabolical Pride comes when you look down on others so much that you do not care what they think of you. Of course, it is very right, and often our duty, not to care what people think of us, if we do so for the right reason; namely, because we care so incomparably more what God thinks.

I think perhaps that one of the truly horrible things about pride is that the more you are aware of it, the more conscious you become of its ultimately destructive work, the more likely you are to be prone to it, if only for the fact that you know what they don't. "To whom much is given..."

The Bible certainly doesn't have anything positive to say about pride. Don't take my word for it, to quote the host of Reading Rainbow.

But at the same time I feel I should have some sense of dignified satisfaction at the end of the day. Not that I should walk out with my head higher than some guy selling newspapers on the street - but rather that I should have the same attitude as if I were him, or anyone else.

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, "Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well." - MLK, Jr.

If I've come in, and worked hard, and have done a good job, I should feel that, right?

I don't feel it. I don't know that I ever have. There've been a few times when I knew I really kicked some ass, but there've been innumerably more times I kicked something else (the wall, the desk, the file cabinet, etc). I just don't have it. I need to find something that gives me that.

And I don't think that's pride, at the end of the day. I think that's fulfillment. That's what I want to hold my head up. Satisfaction. Not arrogance.

Those who imagine they can attain to holiness by any wisdom or strength of their own will find themselves after many labours, and struggles, and weary efforts, only the farther from possessing it, and this in proportion to their certainty that they of themselves have gained it. – John of Avila

(good weekend. fast, but good. i think i spoke to at least saturday at this point, sunday was church, high school group, youth leaders meeting/fellowship, saw Ocean's 12 with J-lo, Kat, and AP, then back to the 'boken for a few or more beers with old SNF crew. MNF is currently in progress and although i am in the running to win my pool this week, i'm being good and staying home and writing.)


First time for everything

I'm blogging from the counter of a bead and fabric store on 6th Ave between 37th and 38th. They have computers here set to the homepage for the store, so you can search the shelves around you right from the computer. So I figured while I wait, I'd write.

I'm holding a roll of fabric that cost Brec $521. Crazy. Its a piece of cloth. Anyway, apparently half a grand's worth isn't enough, so she's shopping for more with Grace and Anna. They came up to the city to shop for her wedding dress stuff, and we're going to get lunch at one of my favorite burger joints in the city. Then, if it looks like there will be enough light, I'm going to conduct the first phase of my photo-essayical journey to


Unfortunately that's the point at which the store clerk realized I wasn't browsing for beads on their website. No worries, the girls were about done shopping. Walked uptown for lunch. I hit the first 20 blocks or so of Otterness' sculptures display, along Broadway on the UWS. Got some decent pictures, enough to start working with, at least.

Back to Hoboken, work on the lesson, head over to Jeremy and Joel's Christmas Bash. Good times, nice to see everyone. I haven't been getting to the Hoboken service as often as I used to lately, due in part to my lengthened schedule with church in the city.

We're starting our series on Moral Boundaries in the high school group (we've finished Authentic Faith and Spiritual Disciplines, most recently) - which should raise plenty of interesting talk, the most interesting being tomorrow's. So I need to spend a bit more time getting comfortable on that tonight.

Giving these talks has been interesting. Its hard to present the subject manner in a really personal way, sometimes, because, well, hey, I'm not the perfect person. You get a real feeling for why the NT writers called leaders to a higher standard. Spiritual disciplines was a great example - I had some great material to give on prayer, but mine's been the last prayer life to point to as an example. Yeah, I've had some growth this year, but only because up was the only direction it could go.

I've been feeling something today that I can't remember feeling in months - actual sleepiness. Not just tired - I feel that a lot, but droopy-eyelid tired. What a great feeling. Hopefully it won't last too long, I've been getting a good amount of stuff done lately in my spare hours.



I have more than a couple posts I haven't published...they're just sitting out there. Some of my recent posts probably shouldn't have been published in the first place, but hey...there they are. Still need to put an update on the attitude post. Guess I'll have to postpone that til the morning, I'm in no state now.

Poker was earlier this evening. Boy I needed that. Thought about it all day, just waiting for pizza and beers and football in the background while cards were dealt. Thanks to Joel and Darrin I laughed harder this evening than I have in months. Suffice to say I left with more money than I came with. I played one hand wrong. One hand. Didn't get a lot of good hands, but I played well. Pretty good night.

I'm getting more and more affirmation on my writing, which is making me both encouraged and skeptical at the same time...I think instead I just need a job with a gun.



I've been a bad blogger lately. Haven't really made the time to work on decent blog posts, so I've been cheating with quotes and whatnot. When I have tried, I haven't gotten out exactly what I meant, and my recent post on attitude is proof positive of that. I'm going to put some update on to that post when I'm done with this one, time permitting.

Funny the ways we talk about time. Most times we don't have nearly enough, and often you'll be out of time, but sometimes we have plenty. Sometimes we have to make it, and often we feel like we've lost it. You can borrow other peoples' time but you can't really keep it for yourself.

Anyway, yeah I've been busy with things, and I can hear the waambulance coming in the distance. Whatever. The norm. I haven't had nearly as much time on my hands (ah, there we go again) as I did a few months ago when I had things down pat in my old area. I'm convinced I will never again have such time, as long as I'm in this area, because things are basically a total disaster no-longer-waiting-to-happen here. I've got that nervous-escapism feeling pulling at me...

So...where are things? Over the past couple weeks since Turkey time, I...got ridiculously behind here at work...made a big presentation to my SVP that actually went half-decent, did a focus group on VOIP, got invited to go duck hunting in Arkansas by one of my vendors (had to decline, but maybe bow hunting for deer in NJ?)...

Did an Angel Tree day (buying/prepping presents for kids who's parents are incarcerated) with the youth group kids last Saturday, that being sandwiched in between time at the office, then helped big C get the Christmas tree - its a big one. Sunday was church, youth group, meeting with Jenny and Greg, then home to work on my blues. That evening was a going away party for a couple and their new son who are moving south to find a real place to raise a child. This week has been just about as crazy as last, although I'm being demeaned slightly less here at work as I've chosen to simply not communicate with certain individuals. Monday night was MCM, last night was HFG, and presto, here we are.

Cool stuff I've seen lately (because hey, I just sit around looking for this stuff, after all):

- A good article about a totally awesome idea.

- Snow cam from Whistler, I'm not going until March but I already find myself checking it on occasion.

- I've linked it before, but Tom's exhibition is still up on Broadway, although I read it was supposed to go down in November. I hope to see it this Sat.

- NY/NJ apparently don't get the idea of a good, ol' fashion ski swap, but at least they have a giant freakin sale - George and I hope to go and salivate Saturday morn. Also, I sent this to Charlie at MUG and he actually used it. And he tipped Kari Jo Cates from church this week. Not entirely a bad fellow.

- Sponsor a soldier. Cool idea.

- Neat spot to help you find your not too obscure quotation.

- Jeremy and Joel's (and now you can effectively add Sara, Andrew, Jenn, Matt, Marcy, and Becky to the list) X-mas party invite, which is also a game. Currently I am atop the leader's board, although I expect significant challenges before the party actually commences and awards are handed out.


George Herbert

The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?
My God, no hymn for Thee?
My soul’s a shepherd too; a flock it feeds
Of thoughts, and words, and deeds.
The pasture is Thy word: the streams, Thy grace
Enriching all the place.
Shepherd and flock shall sing, and all my powers
Outsing the daylight hours.
Then will we chide the sun for letting night
Take up his place and right:
We sing one common Lord; wherefore he should
Himself the candle hold.
I will go searching, till I find a sun
Shall stay, till we have done;
A willing shiner, that shall shine as gladly,
As frost-nipped suns look sadly.
Then will we sing, and shine all our own day,
And one another pay:
His beams shall cheer my breast, and both so twine,
Till ev’n His beams sing, and my music shine.
– Christmas (II)



The SVP for my division at work has been toting a quote with us lately, trying to use it as inspiration. I'm going way, way out on a limb here to comment on it, but its Sunday night, I'm on my own time, and, well, shoot, it needs to be said.

Its a Chuck (Charles) Swindoll quote, and she always prefaces it with something to the effect that "she thinks he's a motivational speaker..." etc.. She keeps it on her desk and had it printed up for all of us. I didn't put it on my desk. Funny thing is that I'm probably the only one of the 100+ people working for her who actually knows who Swindoll is. Here's the quote:

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company ... a church ... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude ... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you ... we are in charge of our Attitudes.

I may be relying a little to heavily on my far-too-faulty memory, but I'm pretty sure her quote was edited to not include "...a church ... a home." Makes sense, using it in a business sense, but it kind of betrays a bit of who Chuck is and what the quote is really aimed at.

But Chuck's aim, if I may be so bold, was a bit off in the first place. At the end of the day, its just another one of those warm fuzzies that really doesn't do you a lot of good because, while on the surface it may seem to make sense, if you drill it down, you realize its ludicrous.

In reality, we as humans are much more a product of what happens to us, what is done to us, what we experience, than we are of our own choices. To suppose otherwise is a rather recent, western, individualistic, and poignantly prideful point of view. In fact, we are much more the product of the relationships we have had and the models we have seen - the things that people have done to us, the ways we have been treated. We were not created to be solitary beings, we were created relational. There's no way to get around that.

An anxious heart weighs a man down,
but a kind word cheers him up.
-- Proverbs 12:25

An easy verse to trivialize. Often all we need is love. We need the touch of kindness.

What we don't need is some stoic resolve that shrugs off the world and determines to maintain a level attitude regardless of how we are treated. That's not just brash, its practically inhuman. It can't be done.

There is nothing wrong with reacting to the ways in which life treats you, but your reaction is not 90% of the picture. To so over-value attitude leads quickly to a gross misunderstanding. Let the reader understand that I in no way am trying to make excuse for inappropriate reaction to poor treatment, or shrug off the responsibilities of grace and mercy that we bear. Yet, in exercising these duties, we must not always expect that our attitude will remain completely within our control.

Even in laughter the heart is sad,
and the end of joy is grief.
-- Proverbs 14:13

"Since humans die, joy inevitably ends in grief. The party always ends, all relationships of love die and cease. Some member of a family will see every other one around the dining room table die."

Everything we want in this life will eventually be taken away from us in death. And I'm supposed to rely on my attitude to get me past that?

Our inner spirit is so much more complex than the "attitude" position allows for. The various world views will tell us that our problems are physical, or emotional, or relational, or existential, or moral...but these all reduce the complexity to one simple facet. We can't do that. As Hamlet said to Horatio, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Each heart knows its own bitterness,
and no one else can share its joy.
--Proverbs 14:10

We are alone. No one will ever fully understand us. We can't even ever hope to fully understand our own selves. Because our most fundamental relationship has been damaged, we cannot, in this life, experience a complete joy. We know that something is missing.

Attitude isn't the answer.



OK a couple random things.

Yesterday I did a focus group for VOIP (if you don't know what it is, look it up), which was cool. They basically surveyed how I would normally respond to the product, purchasing and installing it. I ripped Best Buy's customer service a few new holes...they had it coming.

I am one of the few that subscribe to the notion that basically everything in our lives should be computerized (call me Borg, if you must). When I wake up in the morning, it shouldn't be my alarm clock, it should be my computer waking me up, in a soothing, motherly, "its time to get up" voice. The water should be turned on in the shower to my optimal temperature, and when I get out of the shower, the bathroom fan should switch off, and I should hear the sound of NPR in the background as I begin to shave. My bedroom fan should switch off after I've finished sitting on the bed to put my shoes on, and as I'm leaving the house, the radio shuts down, the alarm arms itself, and the computer wishes me a nice day. When I get home at night, the alarm de-arms, the computer tells the phone to stop forwarding home calls to my cell phone, and the heat/ac re-acclimates the house to my preferred conditions. The computer asks me how my day was, reminds me of the 2 bills I need to pay and the memo I phoned home to remind myself to blog about later, and then asks me if I'd like to have dinner ordered out.

Point is, there are a ton of ancillary technological devices in my home that should either be a) eliminated or b) synched with my computer to become one with the home experience. So I welcome VOIP with open arms (and I seek to put Best Buy at the bottom of a river at the same time - see HC's comments on the recent WSJ article that outlined their seemingly ridiculous new consumer strategy, here).

Met a gal from Venezuela on the commute back to the 'boken from the focus group. Her contract with EOC (the gas company) comes up on the 15th of this month, and she doesn't really know what she's going to do for work. She seemed incredibly articulate, albeit having a (very) slight lack of fluidity with the English language. Said she had an undergrad and an MBA from her studies back home. Mentioned how much foreign countries don't really give those due credit in the job interviewing process.

I couldn't help feeling bad for this girl. Not only was she really looking for someone just interested in talking with her (I had originally asked her when the train came, we ended up talking about our siblings by the time we were on the train), but she was noticeably brilliant, and held back by the fact that she was foreign. When she found out that I worked for Macy's, she told me she was thinking about applying for a sales job on a store floor. Just from our brief conversation I could tell that she could easily manage a planning division in our company.


I think this is fairly conclusive proof that we're rapidly approaching the Terminator scenario.



There's a feeling I can get when I'm skiing that I've never felt anywhere else in my life, ever. Its been roughly 255 days since I last felt it, and at this point I'm practically getting the shakes to feel it again. I need snow, and I need air.


Soren Kierkegaard

Imagine, to mention the supreme example, imagine Christ at the moment when He was silent before the Counsel: imagine the infuriated mob, imagine the group of dignitaries - and then imagine how many a glance they directed towards him, their eyes upon Him, only waiting for Him to look at them so that their glance might convey their mockery, their contempt, their pity, their insults, to the accused! But He discovered nothing, lovingly He concealed the multitude of their sins. Imagine how many an abusive epithet, how many insults, how many taunts were shouted at Him - and each participant was so terribly insistent that his voice should be heard, so that, above all, it might not seem that he had been so indescribably stupid as to have missed the opportunity, as not to have been there participating in common with everyone else, hence as the true instrument of public opinion, in insulting, in injuring, in mistreating an innocent man! But he discovered nothing; lovingly He hid the multitude of their sins - by discovering nothing. And He is the pattern: from Him the lover has learned, when he discovers nothing and thereby hides the multitude of sins; when like a worthy disciple, "forsaken, hated, bearing the cross," he walks between mockery and pity, between insults and lamentations, and yet discovers nothing - in truth more wonderful than when the three men walked unscathed in the fiery furnace. Still, ridicule and insults really do no harm, if the one insulted does not harm himself by discovering them, that is, by becoming resentful. For if he is resentful, he discovers the multitude of sins.

But if not...

Great article here that hones in on Western society's all but complete loss of literary Scriptural awareness. Or, as the article says, "Our culture...has all but lost a Christian world view."

Rewind. World view. Do you know what your world view is? Hint: its based on your presuppositions. Do you know what your presuppositions are? Answer: what you think before you think. Something Chilton stuck with me.

Key quote:
We cannot rely on those to whom we communicate to have an understanding of the basic premises of faith because they may have never been exposed to it.

The article is written by a major in the US Army, hosted by the Officer's Christian Fellowship. Its really good, and if you've read this far, you should stop and read the article.

Another key quote:
You may be the only Jesus your friend, co-worker, or neighbor ever sees.

And should we find this surprising? God, in His wisdom, uses us. "We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. . ." (2 Cor. 5:20).

Anyway, the article sites a story I've heard before, albeit slightly altered. Some brief research on the issue reveals the following (I'm not completely sure that this is the entire true story, as the first relation I heard assumed some differences, but this is close enough):
In early 1940 the British and their allies sent a force of some 350,000 men into the low countries of Europe to stem the tide of German advance into France, Belgium and Holland. Caught in a brilliant pincer movement by the invading German forces the beleaguered British Expeditionary Force was pushed back to the beaches of the small Belgian town of Dunkirk. To everyone’s surprise the Germans halted their advance to regroup. As England and the world waited for what appeared to be the sure and certain annihilation of 350,000 men a three word message was transmitted from the besieged army at Dunkirk. It read simply, "But if not." The British people understood the biblical import of the cryptic message. It was a reference to the Old Testament book of Daniel, where Daniel and his friends chose death rather than worship an image of the pagan king, "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up" (Daniel 3:17-18). The British Expeditionary Army, surrounded, cutoff and on the brink of destruction was declaring to Britain and to the world that even in apparent defeat they were, in fact, victorious. The message, more eloquent than a sermon delivered in St. Paul’s Cathedral, galvanized the British people. In a matter of hours thousands of boats of every description headed across the dangerous waters of the English Channel and, at the risk of their own lives from enemy fire, began the evacuation of the heroic but beleaguered army in what historians now refer to as "the miracle of Dunkirk."

Another article that sites the same story can be found here, albeit with a more classical literature approach. Also a great read, this one gives some poignant insight into the state of our society's approach to literature at large. This article is truly fascinating. As we stand in abject horror of the decline of literary awareness in the face of technological advancement, we can only wonder if we are, in some strange, necessary way, very much like the "the ancient Greeks [who] regarded the rise of reading as cultural decline..."

Read them both.


The blues

First off, I love Firefox. Why anyone would use any other program with which to browse the internet is beyond me. Also, I hate Microsoft and especially Service Pack 2, which is currently annoying me.

But I am happy.

And I am sad.

And I am not manic.

I have...

the blues.

I don't have them in a B.B. King sense, I don't have them with soul, mind you. But I have them. I've had them before, I'll have them again. They come and go. If they stayed, I'd be either rich or dead right now, and probably neither would be a good thing. Irregardless (I love that word), I've got them.

I didn't know I could play harmonica until today. I was playing guitar but couldn't get my blues to flow through it. Then I remembered that somewhere in my room there was a harmonica. A couple hours and a couple boxes of junk later, I had my harmonica. I've got 3 songs worked out already - a Christmas one (tis the season, after all), a blues classic (naturally), and an original. Mind you, I've never actually played harmonica before today. But I've got the blues. They are an amazing thing.

What I've got is a lot on the brain. Good things, things I need to work on, random things, the perpetual cold-weather-has-arrived-now-I-must-ski-itch, work things, things I want to read, pictures I want to take, pictures I want to draw, future plans things, just things. I've got too many things right now, and there's other things, that want to add themselves to the list. I feel like a bouncer at Club Thoughts.

"Sorry, you're not on the list."

And its all adding up, and its giving me the blues. Its an interesting feeling. You feel both blue and inspired. Its an interesting time to get them. I've re-awakened the writing muscles, and quite possibly the drawing ones (they seem to follow naturally), and all of a sudden I feel creative after a couple years lapse. I'm very happy. Yet, at the same time, I feel like a wet sponge. I can't absorb any more at the moment.

I told a friend once that "I almost constantly feel like I could live and work here for the rest of my life or not another second, and can never tell which one I feel more of at any particular moment."

Sleep is out the window. I've got a ton to do, and it will be done.

The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.


Strange Day

It was supposed to be raining all morning but apparently it died down by about 4am, when I got up. By the time I got into the city, one thing was clear, it was going to be warm. Suited up, headed up to the UES, kicked around for a while.

Met Bare Naked Ladies (the band). Some moo-moo couldn't take a decent picture of us with them on my camera, and I'm not going to post the bad ones.

It was fairly windy so we didn't get the balloons way up there. Had a decent scare in the middle of Times Square when we caught a tailwind that pushed one of BB's eyes straight into a lone traffic light, right above where a bunch of Army dudes were sitting watching the parade. Then near the bottom of TS, a cop asked me if I could stop the balloon so their buddy could propose.

She said "Yes." Saw the Bartholomews and a few others when we were stopped right under Redeemer's offices, then caught a similar tailwind just as we tried to make the turn off Broadway onto 34th street. This time BB was trying to take out Katie Couric and Matt Lauer, and I'd estimate it came within about 5 feet of their booth.

Wrapped up, suited down, came home, watched football, crashed. Went to Tony's for a delightful dinner with 9 others. There was no football on there so I had to leave in order to catch the second game. Walking home it was blustering and actually cold, like jacket cold. Strange day.



I have way too much to be thankful for, this year as ever. No list could be complete, but I offer at least a few, in no particular order...

- For family, which I can't wait to see at Christmas.

- For my summer this year. I had a really great summer. Fall's going just as well.

- For friends, near and far. I don't deserve you all.

- For my fellow youth leaders - I get to watch you be agents of change in the lives of our kids. I'm excited about where we're going. Roger. Over.

- For my job, as hypocritical as that may sound. And the parade. As wet as it may be.

- For NBA players who aren't in it to brawl with fans or promote rap albums. Also I'm thankful for the 6 game win streak my Kings have gone on to turn around a rough start to the season. Watch out, Seattle.

- For my first trip to Canada planned for this Spring. I can't wait.

- For challenges. I'm learning a lot right now and I know there's a lot more to learn. I'm working for change, and by grace, I just might see it happen.

- For this blog. It got me re-started on writing, at least a bit, and now I'm hoping to get my act together and get some good material down in the next year. I'd like to determine whether or not there may be a future for me in it.


Playing favorites and the work of Charity

I talked recently with a friend about the tendency to play favorites with people. This is especially easy to see when you work in youth ministry. There's kids that you just click well with, kids you bond with faster than others. And then there's the kids that you don't bond with, sometimes even the ones that might grate a little bit on you, push your buttons, even. I suppose we very often experience this with our peers in age as well. But, very often, we make a point to surround ourselves with those who don't grate, for obvious reasons. Working with youth, however, forces you outside those packs that you would normally make a point to run with, and it provides more opportunities for the experience of favoritism.

Aside from youth ministry altogether, the church does a wonderful job in forcing the individual to face this issue. I've heard it said that a church is a group of people, thrown together, who if not for the reason of Christ, would likely have never chosen to get to know any of the rest of the group on their own volition. I mar the way I first heard it put, but hopefully I convey the idea. There's people in my church who I would, outside of it, never actively have chosen to associate with.

All this serves to portray me as quite the horrible person. And, while I don't contend to be all well and good, I don't believe that such feelings are not in fact evil.

Consider Lewis from his chapter on Charity:

I pointed out in the chapter on Forgiveness that our love for ourselves does not mean that we like ourselves. It means that we wish our own good. In the same way Christian Love (or Charity) for our neighbours is quite a different thing from liking or affection. We "like" or are "fond of" some people, and not of others. It is important to understand that this natural "liking" is neither a sin or a virtue, any more than your likes and dislikes in food are a sin or a virtue. It is just a fact. But, of course, what we do about it is either sinful or virtuous.

Natural liking or affection for people makes it easier to be "charitable" towards them. It is, therefore, normally a duty to encourage our affections - to "like" people as much as we can (just as it is often our duty to encourage our liking for exercise or wholesome food) - not because this liking is itself the virtue of charity, but because it is a help to it. On the other hand, it is also necessary to keep a very sharp look-out for fear our liking for some one person makes us uncharitable, or even unfair, to someone else. There are even cases where our liking conflicts with our charity towards the person we like. For example, a doting mother may be tempted by natural affection to "spoil" her child; that is, to gratify her own affectionate impulses at the expense of the child's real happiness later on.

But though natural likings should normally be encouraged, it would be quite wrong to think that the way to become charitable is to sit trying to manufacture affectionate feelings. Some people are "cold" by temperament; that may be a misfortune for them, but it is no more a sin than having a bad digestion is a sin; and it does not cut them out from the chance, or excuse them from the duty, of learning charity. The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you "love" your neighbour; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less. There is, indeed, one exception. If you do him a good turn, not to please God and obey the law of charity, but to show him what a fine forgiving chap you are, and to put him in your debt, and then sit down to wait for his "gratitude," you will probably be disappointed. (People are not fools: they have a very quick eye for anything like showing off, or patronage.) But whenever we do good to another self, just because it is a self, made (like us) by God, and desiring its own happiness as we desire ours, we shall have learned to love it a little more, or, at least, to dislike it less.

Consequently, though Christian charity sounds a very cold thing to people whose heads are full of sentimentality, and though it is quite distinct from affection, yet it leads to affection. The difference between a Christian and a worldly man is not that the worldly man has only affections or "likings" and the Christian has only "charity." The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he "likes" them: the Christian man, trying to treat everyone kindly, finds himself liking more and more people as he goes on - including people he could not even have imagined himself liking at the beginning.

We're called to work at this, just as we are called to work on so many things. I often metaphorically view my life as a small boat in the middle of the ocean. There's large waves all around, and I'm tasked to row up the daunting face of each one. I am convicted of sins of pride, and I row the face of that wave with vigor. I may feel that, by grace, I've made some progress. But as I see over the wave, I see not the horizon, but the next wave. Selfishness must be rowed against. Then anger. Then lack of Christian charity. And who knows what the next wave will be. And all this time, not for a second should I be so blithe as to think the pride wave has been soundly defeated, he's often the next wave waiting in the wings. As are all the rest. In fact, I have good reason to believe that I will not very likely face all of the various temptations to sin that the Devil offers humanity, but I will rather face many of the same ones over and over again.

I'm finishing my recent read-through of the Old Testament, and every time I read it, from front to back, it is a story of people turning away from God. Again and again and again. To the point that you want to scream "How ignorant could these people possibly be? How could they not learn???" And then I realize that there's a reason God is telling me the fullness of their story.

At the end of the day, though, life isn't about work. This life, this temporary existence, involves much of it, and we are called to do it well, to God's glory. But life, in its fullest definition, is something already accomplished. Its about a work that already was done. This is the source we have for finding our temporal work even at all doable, reasonable, or worthwhile. Be it our work in the sense of our vocations, or our work in the sense of striving to be more like Christ (and both are intertwined, as well) - our work is a joyful response to the completed work.

We row with a smile.


The only fatal thing

Funny that I've only been doing this a short while, yet I can actually feel a real need to get on and write, at times.


I've re-discovered my urge to write, lately, and not just in the blog sense, mentioned above. I've decided its now or never. I'm going to start writing as much as possible. Going to start carrying the notepad again, going to go through the old notes and type them up, going to get some ideas put together.

Just today I finally had a new plausible book idea, I haven't had one of those in maybe a year. Added to the list.

Gene Fowler said it best: "Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead."

The sermon today was on work and I got convicted that I'm not doing the right thing. I think writing may be it, I just need to discover how, exactly.

I've pulled out my all-time-fave Mere Christianity, looking for a quote I can't quite yet find, that I need to send to a friend. In the meantime, here's this:

"...We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down in content with anything less than perfection."

(note to self to find quote and review sermon notes on forgiveness)

There was a guy sitting next to me at the Open Forum tonight (Motown and the relationship of the sexes was the theme) and he read a GRE/CAT test prep book from the second he sat down until I left (before the Q&A). He was on a completely different mental level from me, either in a good way or a bad way.

You know that feeling you get when someone's walking at you and you both veer to miss each other, but you veer in the same direction, and have to do a little dance to actually pass? That's what my life feels like.


The Parade

My recent email to friends and family regarding my early-morning activities on Thanksgiving Day:

Hey all -

That special time of year is approaching us again. The holidays. A heart-warming time of year when families everywhere gather to practice time-honored traditions, like killing a tree and then dressing it up in the center of your living room, or risking your life by stringing multicolored lights on the trim of your roof. Or maybe you'll decide to walk around your neighborhood and sing songs to complete strangers.

But one of my favorites is the day where friends and families gather to gorge themselves carbohydrate-rich food and then watch grown men try to maim each other in the interest of moving an inflated pig skin in a given direction. And what better way to begin Thanksgiving Day than by yet another one of our very sensible and noteworthy traditions: watching huge inflated objects (possibly, but not necessarily pig-skins) as they are dragged through the streets of Manhattan. Its parade time.

Look for the one that looks like a giant yellow bird (aptly named "Big Bird"), which is neither free-range, nor hormone free, and would probably take about 9 years to defrost if fully frozen. Believe me, you do not want to see the size of this bird's gizzard. Anyway, look for me somewhere beneath it - I'm the guy in charge of getting the balloon safely dragged through the streets without killing any bystanders (innocent or otherwise). You may feel inclined to brag to your friends that you "know the guy who's fate hangs in the balance of that big yellow bird's flight."

It might not be as much fun as being forced to kiss a person for the simple reason that someone hung a traditional weed from the ceiling above your head, but hey...its tradition!

Happy Thanksgiving.



Simultaneous Movie Format Releases?

(Linked Title, click to go to the original article)

Mark Cuban wants simultaneous movie format releases (i.e. releasing a movie on DVD and in theaters on the same day), as noted here on Wooba. Here's what I had to say (comment left on Wooba):

What a dumb move on Cuban’s part. He should stick to what he does best, owning basketball teams (actually, I’ve been impressed with the way he’s handled the Mavericks and his relative celebrity status – he seems like a good guy).

I’m sure there’s lots of people like you, Dan, who aren’t hopelessly addicted movie-goers. I guess to take the addiction metaphor to its full extent, Netflix would be like the marijuana of movies, whereas the theater is crack cocaine. You pay more because you need it. Sure, you may have a pot thing on the side – who doesn’t – but that’s not what really gets you up. So yeah, there’s probably lots of your garden variety movie marijuana types, satisfied to sit at home and watch from the comfort of your couch.

But then there are also a lot of people like me. We can’t wait for that movie to come out on DVD. That would be months! There’s a lot of days in a month! There’s a lot of hours in a day! Do the math!

I hate the fact that I paid $20 bucks to take a gal to see The Incredibles last weekend, but I needed to go. I needed my fix. I’ve actually seen a lot more movies in the theater this past year than ever before, not sure why.

But the point here is that if I could pay roughly $2 bucks to Netflix National Treasure today, well, you’re never gonna see me in a theater again, ever. That’s at least $8 bucks a movie I’m saving. $18 if I take the gal. Average it at $13 per movie, and my DVD collection is gonna grow sizeably in a hurry.

Yeah, they may see a slight jump in DVD sales/rentals, but the $13 bucks I’m saving is $13 bucks they’re losing. I win. If the whole industry were to go this way, movie theaters would be kaput. I pay to see the basketball game because its a real experience with real people. Comparing that to movies is apples and oranges. Or I guess you could say marijuana and coke (I goofed and said "pot" here on wooba), not to mix metaphors to much…

I guess its ironic that I can so easily compare movies to drug use, yet somehow I can’t sufficiently assuage the guilt that would come along with Bit Torrenting a few movies. Or maybe its just that I can’t afford a $10,000 settlement with the MPAA.


Thursday linkery

- Go here to find the page with the updated link for the best Mac ad parody ever. I posted on this before, but this is an updated link as the old one is dead. Click on the first link (Mac Parody) to download the file. Worth every second.

- MUG has the best view on the West Side stadium proposal that I've seen yet.

- Have the urge to go hunting? I mean like right now? Well here's one more thing the internet can do for you. Frankly I think this is a horrible commercial endeavor, and wonder if this guy would also sell his soul for a profit. Although I probably think its terrible for different reasons than most would. Yeah, so an animal dies, that happens every time I go to Burger King, life goes on. However, speaking as an experienced hunter, there are some serious fundamental issues that these guys are making pretty light of. This site is not going to foster any kind of respect for the power of the weapons being used, in fact its probably going to do the opposite. Perhaps even worse, it doesn't foster any respect for the hunt. I agree with what the Texas Wildlife Association had to say: "Hunters have an obligation to be present to deal with the full consequences of having taken the life of the animal, to do otherwise...is an abdication of your duty as a hunter." The respect for life and the power to take it is an integral part of hunting that this guy is looking to do away with in the interest of turning profit. That being said, I would actually be interested in the target shooting, if only because the whole idea bears an eerie resemblance to the remote-control cannon scenes from The Jackal.

- Need a word that rhymes with "utopia"? Well, there's plenty, just type it in here. 3, 4, 5, or 9 syllables...take your pick. Helpful for all you up and coming poets.

- I've been reading some of the back-issues over at First Things, a subscription is probably in order, although as near as I can tell you could just wait and read the articles a month or two later when they put them up on the site. Keller quoted an article from this magazine in a talk he gave Monday at a cool bar on the East side, the first meeting of "Christianity Uncorked" - an idea a couple guys had to get people our age together for drinks and discussion of the Christian faith. Pretty cool combination if you ask me.

- The International Dark Sky Association - the Light Pollution Authority. Bit of a wacky idea for a whole "association," but then if you've never seen the stars from high in the mountains, away from civilized, well-lit areas, well then you've never really seen the stars. So I get where they're coming from. Cool pictures from the blackout last year.

- Cool site - virtual walking tours of Manhattan, listed by street. Read on the first page why they're called Songlines.



Well I was hoping to post an official 100th post to the blog, but apparently I did that about 8 posts ago. Blogger's dashboard, well...I've complained about it as best I know how already.

Ah, well. In belated honor of my mini-milestone, some facts about AKOT, with a caveat. I have to assume that since both my profile and my dashboard are not giving me an accurate total posts number, the rest of my numbers in the profile are understated as well. So the following are probably low, but should give us an idea:

Avg. Posts per Week: 4
Posts written: 92 (actually 107, this one is 108)
Words written: 31,919 (that's it?)
Outbound links: 155 (again, so few?)
Profile views: 137

As for the rest of my stats, they come from a source outside blogger, and I have no reason to believe they are inaccurate:

Total page views: 1376
Daily uniques (non-repeat views): 679
Average daily count: 9.9
Average daily visitors: 4.88 (factors in unique views)

www.blogger.com and www.google.com are my top referrers, which makes sense. There's some other info out there like repeat visitors and the browsers people are using to view the site, but nothing that really stands out.


Never enough of it

Blogging will likely remain light for at least the near future. There's a lot to be done around the office, there's more market to see, there's plenty of youth stuff on the weekends, and a little thing we call the holidays are bearing down on me like a freight train. I hate this time of year if only because I know that sooner or later, I'm going to have to go shopping. And I hate shopping. Unless its for skiing stuff.

I've got plenty to blog about, really, I do. Lots of things you'd only see in the city, movies, things I'm learning, things I want to learn, politics, big issues, life. I just don't have time for any of that stuff right now.

I want like 3 years off so I can just read. I've got so much I want to read. I think I'll go do that now.


Death and the ever present possibility

- Arafat's dead. Let me just say that in the history of people who I would *not* want to be, especially right after they went to meet their maker, Arafat is a close second to Hitler. If you take the first 3 verses of Genesis 12 at all seriously, you see why I would not want to be this guy right now. Most Protestant faiths will eventually admit that all sin is sin to God, and we're all dead in our trespasses. There's a certain level on which I really can not compare my sins of, oh, let's say, anger, for example, against someone else's sins of murder. They're all sin to God. But we also generally assume that there are is some spiritual strata of which we will be aware when we live in eternity. We assume that there will be levels of prestige (for lack of a better way of putting it) in our Heavenly existence. Is it such a stretch, therefore, to speculate that there may be hotter spots in hell, specially reserved for the uniquely cursed?

- Scott Peterson's guilty. Of one murder. Hey, at least the great state of California can get it 1/2 right, huh? Their court systems seems to have made leaps and bounds since OJ.

- My apologies for missing the opportunity to throw out a decent thank you to Veterans everywhere. Believe you me, it's not just on one day of the year that you have my complete gratitude and respect for your service to our country and defense of our freedom. God Bless you and yours. And to my friends in the now 229 yr. old Marines - Hoo Wah!

- Is it just me or has the liberal media promulgated the term "Evangelical Christians" more in the past week and a half since the election than they have in the history of the world, combined??? What's with that? What a scam? Where's all the questioning of Kerry and the Atheist vote (or lack thereof)?

- Also, I've started a second blog, in hopes that blogger will notice my blog, address the issues, and make some changes to their system at large. Its actually a blog I've started in hopes that there will one day be no need for it. I've only just begun it, and you can find it here.


About anger

Tim Keller, the pastor at my church, Redeemer, is working through a series on Proverbs this fall. Each week deals with another one of the main life issues that Proverbs addresses - trusting God, lust, greed, etc.. A few weeks ago, the topic du jour was anger.

God does all things as part of his perfect plan, and before time, I know He planned that I would hear that sermon on that day. I think that, sometimes, we can most clearly see the beauty of His plan in action in the midst of our greatest moments of conviction. That's what this sermon was for me. What follows are my notes from the sermon. I'm going to listen to it again as I type them out, in an effort to fully round out my notes. They’re long and probably largely unstructured, but I wanted to type them out all the same (blogger won't allow for normal notation tab functions to group sub-texts, so you'll just have to make do).


Tim Keller: The Healing of Anger
October 17th, 2004 - Redeemer Presbyterian Church, East Side Morning Worship Service

Text: Proverbs 14:29-30; 15:1,18; 16:32; 19:11,19; 24:28-29; 25:21-22

29 A patient man has great understanding,
but a quick-tempered man displays folly.
30 A tranquil heart is life to the body,
But passion is rottenness to the bones.

1 A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

18 A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension,
but a patient man calms a quarrel.

32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.

11 A man's wisdom gives him patience;
it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

19 A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty;
if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.

28 Do not testify against your neighbor without cause,
or use your lips to deceive.
29 Do not say, "I'll do to him as he has done to me;
I'll pay that man back for what he did."

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the LORD will reward you.

- What is wisdom? In 1st Kings 3, Solomon prayed for a heart that could determine right from wrong. Wisdom is not less than being moral and good, but knowing what the right course of action is in vast majority of situations that the rules do not address. You will not become a wise person until you learn how to handle anger in yourself and others

The 4 things you must know about anger to be wise:
I) Dangerous Power of Anger
II) Basic Goodness of Anger
III) Why Anger Goes Wrong
IV) How it can be Healed

I) Dangerous Power of Anger

- Anger: the dynamite of the human soul - can disintegrate and destroy:

A) Your body (v. 30 - passion is rottenness to the bones) - it has been medically proven that anger is far worse on your body than any other emotion - leads to heart disease and all kinds of physical ailments

B) Community (v. 18 - a hot-tempered man stirs up dissention) - when you get angry you throw words around like weapons - words have an enormous power

C) Your wisdom (v. 29 - a quick-tempered man displays folly) - after you cool off from anger, you feel like a fool, because you were - your view is distorted and you make foolish decisions

D) Your will/ability to make smart choices (v. 19 - if you rescue him, you will have to do it again) - of all the emotions, anger is the one most like an addictive substance - it leads you into denial / hides itself. Denial leads to more anger, more problems, and therefore even further anger to remain in denial about it. (Citation of a Psychology Today article that quoted a letter to a newspaper counselor about her advice to a mother to let a child kick the furniture to get the anger. The writer spoke of her younger brother who grew up kicking the furniture and now kicks not only the furniture, but now his wife and kids. 20-30 years ago, venting your anger was the cure. Secular psychology is beginning to see the addictive nature of anger.)

II) Basic Goodness of Anger

Slow anger (v. 32 - He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty) - the ideal is slow anger, not no anger, or blow up anger

- it is a sin to never get angry, and it is a sin to blow up in your anger

- Eph 4:26 (Paul) "be angry, but sin not" - an imperative: not "you will be angry" but "you should be angry (sometimes)"

- John Chritensen (early American preacher) - perfect summary of anger: "He that is angry without cause sins, he that is not angry when there is cause, sins. For unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices."

- Slow anger is an attribute of God - Ps. 103:8

- Exodus 34 - Moses asks God to "show me Your glory," God responds "I will declare My name for you...I am the Lord, slow to anger."

- Many New Yorkers have an issue here: "I believe in a God of love, not a God who gets angry." If you never get angry about anything, you don't love anything. Anger is a love response to a threat to the object of your love.

- Becky Pipper: "Think how we feel when we someone we love ravaged by unwise actions or relationships. Do we respond with benign tolerance as we might towards strangers? Far from it. Anger isn't the opposite of love, hate is, and the final form of hate is indifference. The more a father loves his son, the more he is angry at the drunkard, the liar, the traitor in his son. And if I, a flawed, self-centered woman can feel this much pain and anger over someone's condition, how much more a morally perfect God who made them."

- Love in its uncorrupted origin is moving to deal with a threat - anger is love in motion to deal with a threat toward that which you really love (to disintegrate the threat) - to see what your heart loves the most, you need only ask what you are defending.

- Romans 1: God is continually angry because He loves us; in the Gospels, Jesus (continually perfect) was angry at the moneychangers in the temple (John 2), angry at the religious leaders (Mark 3), angry at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11) - Greek words describing his emotions were incredibly strong (bellows, snorts with anger) - He gets angry but sins not.

- Individualistic cultures emphasize personal rights and over-value anger as something that should be expressed, whereas Moral/Traditional cultures emphasize the family and see anger as something that should be repressed. The Biblical approach sees both the Basic Goodness and the Dangerous Power

III) Why Anger Goes Wrong

- (v. 28-29): anger disproportionate / inappropriate to the cause - our anger is disordered.

- Augustine: Disordered Loves - we take good things into ultimate things, instead of loving them, we look to them for the ultimate comfort only God can give. Ex. of romantic love - turning the need for the other person into an absolute necessarily disorders the love.

- Disordered love creates disordered anger:
A) Disordered in its causes: we are angry for ourselves, not injustices done to the oppressed. We get incredibly angry over causes we shouldn't be, and we do not get angry over causes that we should be.

B) Disordered in its proportions: our anger usually feels uncontrollable

C) Disordered in its goal: ordered (loving) anger seeks to do surgical strikes against the anger (like a parent seeking to destroy the foolishness in a child). Loving anger goes after the problem, not the person.

- Levels of Disorder:
1) Things that make us angry every day

2) Things we haven't been able to forget or forgive (heats up level one - like a man
slighted by a woman who is more prone to be easily offended by all women)

3) Things we've decided we need instead of God (family, job, etc) - the bedrock anger of self-pity against God Himself (heats up levels 2 and 3)

IV) How it can be healed

A) Have to admit you are angry: get in touch with the reality of it – you must own and admit it. People commonly say: "You deserve anger, but I'm not angry" (really means "You deserve anger, but I'm above you"). Even owning up to your anger is an act of vulnerability / weakness. Refusal to do this not only prohibits reconciliation, but also heats up level 2 angers, and creates a "root of bitterness" (Heb. 12) - roots become shoots become trees become forests. You become utterly controlled by your anger.

B) Analyze your anger: (24:28-29) - (self talk) - Angry person speaking to himself - anger is not so much because of what you've lost but because of what you tell yourself that you are defending (most often your pride / ego / self-esteem). Citation of Jeremiah 45 (KJV) "Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not." We must question what is so important to us that we get angry - this question identifies our idols. (Example of mother who had God's love as an abstract idea but son's love as an idol - couldn't forgive anything that would come between her and her son's love)

C) Transform your anger: (15:1; 25:21-22) - When you experience anger, don't be angry back, but rescue the enemy from the anger. Wisdom literature of ancient world goes over the top in using this redemption language with enemies. Example of dealing with a child's disordered anger: a) give into it - evil wins, b) fight back in anger - evil enters your life as well, or c) surgical strike: get mad a the foolishness in the child, insist on the truth gently, and absorb the anger and the pain.


- Proof that we are mad at God - when He became human, we were angry. We got our angry hands on Him, and He absorbed our disordered anger and said "Father, forgive them." He took not only our undeserved anger but also the cup (ref. to OT cup of anger) - the anger we deserved: ultimate example of loving the sinner and hating the sin - the ultimate surgical strike - taking this into our lives will heal the level 3 anger.

"Jesus said: 'Love your enemies, that you may be children of your Father which is in heaven.'

Of course you say, 'All this about loving enemies is not practical. Life is a matter of getting even, of hitting back, of dog-eat-dog. Well, maybe in some distant utopia the ideal will work, but not in the hard cold world in which we live.'

My friends, we've followed the so-called practical way for a long time now. Time is cluttered with the wreckage of communities which surrendered into hatred and violence. We are going to follow another way: we will not abandon our righteous efforts. With every ounce of our strength we will continue to rid the nation of the incubus of segregation. But we will not in the process relinquish our privilege and our obligation to love. While abhorring segregation, we will love the segregationist. This is the only way to build the beloved community.

To our most bitter opponents we say 'We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will continue to love you. We cannot obey your unjust laws, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as it is to cooperate with good. But throw us in jail, we will still love you; send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community and beat us, and we will still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down.

One day we will win freedom, but not only for ourselves, we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and so our victory will be a double-victory. The great military leaders of the past have gone, and their empires have crumbled and burned to ashes, but the empire of Jesus, built solidly and majestically on the foundation of love is still growing. May we solemnly realize that we shall never be sons of our Heavenly Father until we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us as He did for us."

-- Martin Luther King, Jr.