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.


Things you only see in the city

I was on my way back to the office after picking up a Chicken Parm at Lazara's a couple weeks ago. If you've ever walked down 7th Ave in the Fashion District, you've probably noticed the big bronze circular plaques on the sidewalk commemorating various fashion designers. Its called the Fashion Walk of Fame (go to the bottom and click on the buttons to see examples). I'll try to get a picture of one up, but in the meantime, picture this: one of the guys in the white coveralls - part of the 34th street clean-up collective or whatever they're called, busy cleaning one of these plaques. I actually smelled it before I saw it - I was walking into the wind and the scent of cleaning solution drifted through the crowd before he came into view. He had some rags draped over the side of his yellow plastic rolling trash can. But these were no ordinary rags. No, these were the only rags fit for cleaning fashion designer's plaques. These were cloth swatches of pin-stripe suiting fabrics. I had to smile as I passed, and I wished I had my good camera on me for that one.


Awesome web browser hack

Linked title - Hacking Netflix gives you code to put an automatic link button in your browser toolbar that, when you're browsing a particular movie on Netflix, takes you to imdb.com's page for the same movie. If you're using IE you have to paste the code one line at a time (one right after the next in your address bar), then drag the icon (blank, at least in my case) to your links box (on the same line as the address bar). Here's hoping this works on Firefox when I try it at home.

Tonight is babysitting Titus so hopefully I'll be able to finish the long-awaited posts I've been meaning to get out.


The road to hell is paved with...

I have 2 blog posts sitting in draft status that I have every intention of posting tomorrow (which is now later today), right *after* I get my room cleaned. Which will hopefully happen right after I get home from evening service, which I hope to attend right after I get back from the city. I hope to get back from the city right after watching a few friends finish the marathon, right after I've wrapped up the high school lesson, which will take place right after morning service, right after I've rushed into the city to stop by the church offices and pick up the multi-media stuff in time to get it to church and set it up for the Jr. Highers.

My Sunday's aren't particularly restful, so I try to relax on Saturdays. I do love my Sundays, though. Every moment of them.

I'm wrapping up Sports Night and after a couple season's worth of episodes I can only wonder why this show didn't last longer than a few seasons. Its fantastic. I have every good intention of writing a decent review post on it. In the episode I'm watching tonight, one of the anchors just gave away a script slip - "Casey and I are just getting warmed up here in Rockefeller Center." This would normally make sense for a show based on a TV show. However, as I've previously noted, ever single transition shot they throw up of the city is either of the 2 towers or some other part of downtown. Until tonight I had the distinct impression that the show was based in downtown. Not a single shot of midtown or higher. Odd.

I also intend to go back and write reviews on BOB, which I neglected. I plan to buy it so I could always write that at a later date. I also intend to review the books I've recently finished.

I intend to be president some day. You've been warned.



This post doesn't have anything to do with axioms.

Just some thoughts from the day.

Saw an article in one of New York's free dailies (paying for newspapers is so 2003) about EA Sports' NBA 2005. Apparently they let the game simulate the season, and it was my very own Sacramento Kings beating the Miami Heat for the championship next June. Excitement is in the air already.

Also, I remain convinced that this guy is just another Charles Van Doren.

Totally random, if you google "Redeemer Bina S**t" - whatever the heck that means - and don't ask me where I heard about it - you get some interesting perspective from what I think is my pastor's target audience (first result). Second post, about halfway thru the post, start around "I don't spend much time in churches anymore." Very serious language warning, don't go here if you're easily offended. Its cool to be getting so much life application of Scripture from someone who really isn't interested in reaching people like me. Gospel in action.

For the first time in nearly 300, Netflix didn't come in a red envelope.


A W for W

And a sigh of relief for the American public. America has spoken, and it wants more of the same.

I must say I respect John Kerry now more than I ever have. He could very well have dragged this on for days and days, but now he loses with a great deal of dignity. You simply can't cough at a 3M win in the pop. vote with 60% of the population going to the polls. Kerry ran about as solid a race as could be expected of a Senator, and ran a reasonably clean race, all things considered. Not spotless, mind you, but reasonably clean. Even in the debates, when he took issue with the President's stances, even in accusing him of making mistakes, he did so in a professional and not-overly-condescending manner. I think one of the high-points of this entire election year was seeing the candidates actually compliment one another during the debate process.

People like to make quite a stink about our electoral system, most noticeably in an election year, but we really don't have that much to complain about, especially when compared with most of the rest of the world. Granted, there are other systems that may have their alternative benefits, but we've got a decent enough system. To complain about our system is a bit like whining about not having a Ferarri when you drive your M-class to work every day. Deal with it. The greatest thing about our system is that it routinely forces even the highest powers to defend their actions, be it in war time or in peace.

I didn't hear either speech but I look forward to digging them both up this evening. I read this line from Kerry, which is cool: "In American elections there are no losers, because whether or not our candidates win or lose, the next morning we wake up as Americans."

What will be interesting now is to see if the left has to continue in the conspiracy-theory-knee-jerk-reaction to conservative victory, or if they can honestly examine their short-comings and turn things around in time to start gaining some ground back in 2008. Its going to be another rough 4 years for them, especially if significant change comes in the Supreme Court.

I do find it heartening that all 11 gay marriage amendments were solidly backed. Here in NYC, the typical leftist attitude is to scoff at the stupidity of a "homophobic evangelical heartland" (or whatever you want to call it). This response is the continuance of a minority movement that clearly misses the point. People aren't afraid of homosexuals. It's not a phobia. It's a definition. Marriage is defined as the union of a man and a woman, and has particular privileges that are attached to it. A society that begins to pollute such a basic concept cannot, for very long, hold out against limiting any other challenges to it's definition. Once you grant that the definition shouldn't discriminate against sexes, how sacred will the age issue be? Pretty soon its not an issue of "between man and man," but now it becomes "between man and boy." And what about exclusivity to two people? Maybe that would even go before the age issue - no longer "man and man" but "man and women" or "man and men." You either draw a line or none at all. In this election, at least on this issue, logic spoke, not ignorance.

Here's to 4 years of peace and prosperity (and the Repub. majorities waking up and starting do something about the uncontrollable deficit).


In the meantime

I've got a nice long post coming on anger, a subject that's been central to many of my thoughts for the past couple months. Its a bit of an undertaking, but good stuff.

What a wonderful weekend. I finally feel like I really had a real weekend. Friday was the blessed normal end to my week - gym and Chinese take-out. Saturday was breakfast with Tophermo and Nardo at a cool joint in Jersey City that's a bit hard to find - like a speak-easy for swank morning eats. Its just a couple blocks off the water, directly across from the Financial District. Then more gym. George came over and he and I went to DC's to shoot some stick. Back to the lab to blow a couple hours on the puter. Saturday evening was Amanda's Halloween party, the normal 'boken crowd was there and a decent amount of non-bokenites showed up too. I had ushering in the city in the morning so I snuck out a bit early. If pictures surface, I may or may not post. I went as a Hawaiian beauty.

Ushering with the kids, then the congregational meeting in the afternoon. After that I headed over to Roosevelt Island with J-lo to review the next few month's lessons and determine what video clips we want to get put together. J-lo has a TV that is actually bigger than the room it sits in (or so it seemed)...Sunday afternoon NFL made it really hard to focus. But we got through it and she gave me a lift back to the Garden State. I just had a really relaxing weekend. Yeah.

A few other things I may or may not blog on in the near future:

- Things you only see in NYC. This one I'm definitely going to get going on, preferably with picture proof. I have a couple pictures already squirreled away, waiting to be fodder for this line of blather. There's quite a few things I've seen that I either didn't have a camera on me for, or I didn't think the crap-cam on my phone would do justice. I saw one fitting the latter category on my way back to the office from picking up lunch today. Post to come shortly. From NASCAR cars parallel parked on 7th Ave to men dragging buoys, sooner or later you see one of everything here.

- The guidance of the Magic 8 ball. A friend in the office needed to borrow my magic 8 ball for her costume this weekend so I had to dig it up for her. Now its sitting on my desk, and when I'm faced with a particularly tough question, I no longer have to ask myself, "What would Zorro do?" Now I can simply ask the magical ball. "Should I blog about the guidance of the magical ball?"

"You can count on it."


- Sermon notes. I've been thinking about starting to tap them out here, if only to just begin to get many years of hand-scratch on paper. Haven't made a firm decision on this yet.

- Subterranean stories. I by no means want to start another sub-log, NYC seems to have plenty of decent ones so far, but I do have my own personal experiences that I've found interesting enough to write about. Last week on the morning commute, the conductor was closing the doors on the train, preparing to leave Hoboken. The doors open on both sides in Hoboken, as there are platforms on both sides of the departing-to-33rd-street track. Closing the first side, he rang the buzzer, but the doors didn't close. Then he comes on over the PA, noticeably ticked:

"When the bell sounds, it means the doors are closing. DON'T block the doors."

Bell sounds, doors close. Conductor walks through cars to close doors on the other side. Bell sounds, doors don't move, again.


You have to smile when the conductor has a personal conversation over the PA with some moron at the back of the train. You know somewhere back there, somebody's blushing. Or just plain ignorant.

- Other stuff. I had at least one or two other things I wanted to add to this list, but they escape me at the moment, and I've got more than a few things to get done before jetting up to MCM. If I think of them, I'll update this post.

Oh yeah, looks like I finally got my gmail invite, and I am mad pumped. Have to set that up tonight from home. A big "thank you not-very-much" to all those of you who couldn't help me get an invite over these many agonizing weeks. Props to Saidy for the hook-up.

Happy November, everyone.