Sunday, August 31, 2008

John McCan't...

I don't get it. I really don't get it.

Why would anyone in their right mind vote for John McCain? Why?

I've only been able to discover two reasons someone might vote for him as president of the US:

1-He's a Republican party candidate and they're voting Republican no matter what. (Why they'd do that, I don't know.)

2-He's "pro-life." (I put that in quotations because he's not 100% pro-life. He's about 75% pro-life when it comes to his voting record and past statements on his stance.)

I can't find any other reason someone might vote for him. And those two don't make a lot of sense... actually, the first makes no sense. But the second makes some sense. I just don't see how you can boil everything down to that. You want to support someone who doesn't support the killing of babies, right? But what about the Iraqi babies he doesn't mind killing? I'm pro-life, sure. But I'd take it a step further: (to quote Rick Warren) I'm whole life. I care about the child after its born--about its healthcare and education and the economic circumstances of its family and so on. Being pro-life is a big picture issue. Its not just a political stance. Being pro-life isn't about voting Republican. In the same vein, for a president to call himself/herself pro-life, they need to be more holistic about it than simply being opposed to abortion.

I'm not the biggest Obama supporter. (I'm actually a big Clinton supporter, but that's old news and another post). But telling people I'll vote for Obama brings with it a set of assumptions from a lot of folks. Collin and I talk about this all the time: I'm not a Republican, I'm not a Democrat, I'm not a conservative, and I'm not a liberal. But sadly, in the current US political system, people assume that if you're not one, you're the other. Please don't. Just because I'm opposed to John McCain doesn't mean I'm opposed to right-wing political stances. Just because I'll vote for Obama doesn't mean I'm pro-abortion. My world view is much bigger than that.

Voting for a president is such a big decision. I hope we put all of our thoughts, feelings, logic, reason, and experience behind who we vote for. This is the next four years for all of us, but the repercussions will last much longer than that...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

the Windy City...

The wife and I are specifically not having kids for a while for several reasons--one of which is that we want to travel. We like our freedom and want to see as much as possible while we're young and we can. With that in mind, we headed to Chicago last weekend.

I would have blogged daily while there, but the internet was $12 a day in our hotel room--so that was outta the question. Here's a weekend recap:

Day .5-
We drove up Thursday night, got into town late. So it was just part of a day there, hence the Day ".5". Anyway, to save on parking fees, we just parked in the long term long at Midway Airport then rode the train into the city. Great idea, saved us a lot of cash. But it also provided some interesting experiences over the course of the three days we were there. For instance, that night, a guy got on the train who looked visibly upset. Brittany said he must have suffered from Terrets Sydrome as he was shaking his head and repeating the phrase "Mother F---er" over and over and over. I was glad when he got off at the first stop. Anyway, we get to our hotel smack in downtown Chicago: the Palmer House Hilton.

Its a beautiful lobby and facility. Absolutely beautiful. We thought we'd got such a great deal by booking on and we did (financially). But as we got off the elevator, we started to get worried. We made a right hand turn, went down one hallway, another right hand turn and down another hallway (with a lower ceiling), then a left hand turn and down another hallway (with even lower ceiings), then finally to our room. It reminded Brittany of the movie "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" when they go into the hallway where everything gets smaller as they walked--we laughed about it. Then we opened our door... to our closet with a sink. It was tiny! Clean, but lacking any real amenities and it was friggin tiny! But once again, for what we paid, to be staying in the location we were, it was fine. We walked around downtown for a while then called it a night.

Day 1-
We slept in and had a quick breakfast at some little coffee/bread cafe then started walking around the city taking in all the sights. We hit Michigan Ave/the Magnificent Mile, Millenium Park, Navy Pier, Water Tower Place and all that jazz. We had dinner at the original Geno's Pizza--Chicago style is oh-so delicious. Then we walked to the Chicago Institute of Art where it was free to get in from 5-9 (apparently they are remodeling the contemporary section and the American art section, so we missed most of the good stuff). Some girl was walking around talking on her cell phone (loudly) the whole time--I about went ballistic. Brittany said it would have been wrong and illegal to take her phone, snap it in two and the punch her in the face... so I didn't.

We finished the night with smoothies from Caribou Coffee and watching the Olympics back in our closet. Barack was in town, but called and said he was too busy to hang out. We were disappointed.

Day 2-
Yay! My birthday! Twenty-freakin-five.

We got up early for breakfast at this great little cafe called the Bongo Room--real modern, minimalist place. The food was to die for. I had banana pancakes with a graham crackers crust covered in a vanilla cream and three berry sauce. Wow. Just wow. Then we got on the train and headed out to Oak Park--Frank Lloyd Wright's old stomping grounds. We got to see his house and studio. Instead of paying for the tour around the area (he designed 20 other houses in the neighborhood), we just followed the people around who were wearing head sets. It was amazing. The dude was so far ahead of his time and the houses are simply breath-taking.

We headed back to the hotel around lunch and took a nap--we had a big night ahead. Went to a place called Opera for dinner and holy freakin crap, it was (as with breakfast) to die for. Modern Chinese cuisine, creative/modern Asian decor, and a very witty/very gay waiter made it an incredibly enjoyable dining experience. We caught the train back to the theatre district as we had tickets for the musical "Wicked." If you've never heard of it, "Wicked" is a re-telling of the story of the witches from the "Wizard of Oz." The story is very well written and the music was astounding--I've never been to anything like it. It was the first Broadway-caliber show I've ever been to and it was the highlight of our weekend.

It was a different sort of birthday. I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Day 3-
Donuts and coffee from Dunkin Donuts and we were on our way back. (Sad faces from Brittany.)

It was a great weekend. I'd post pictures but we're still without a camera so we didn't take any. But it was memorable and the first of many trips to come. We've all only got one life to live so we'd better make the most of it while we can. Brittany and I have decided that we want to live life to the fullest--see, do and experience as much as we can. It may not be some people's picture of what life should be about, perhaps our choices and decisions aren't agreed on by all people... but dammit, this world is beautiful and life is wonderful and we're gonna soak it up.

I want to die knowing I've truly lived.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

There's a snake in my boots...

I like Greek food. Hummus is the bomb. Falafel is some great stuff. I don't know if I like Greek as a language simply because I've never taken a class on it and don't know much at all about it. The country of Greece seems like a neat place. I bet I'd like it. I just wanted to get that out there so you know that I don't have any issues with all things Greek.

But I've really been bothered by this dualism of the physical and spiritual. I've really tried to figure out where the idea came from. Apparently, the answer was easier to find than I expected...

Christians have a tendency to take stories, holidays, Scripture, etc., and make them fit their cultural understanding of it all. For instance, take a gander at paintings of Jesus and Mary. Most European artists paint a lily white version of both. Or you can look at Christmas and Easter. Neither were originally "Christian" holidays, we just adopted them as our own and modified them to fit our view of things. Its not out of the ordinary for Christians to contextualize things to accommodate their cultural understanding.

The followers of Jesus were originally mostly Jews. A lot of historical documents addressed the Christians (in the early years) as a sect of Judaism. It didn't take long, however, for Greeks/Gentiles (non-Jews) to begin converting to the Way of Jesus. This posed some major issues. Greeks didn't cut the foreskin off of their penises. Greeks would eat a lot of things that a good Jew wouldn't come near. Greeks weren't allowed in the Temple and most of these Jewish Christians still went to Temple to pray. Long story short, these were two very different cultures colliding.

The book of Acts in the New Testament has lots of stories about the tension between these two groups in the church. At one point, Paul even goes to Jerusalem to discuss with James and Peter what Jewish guidelines Greek converts should be held to. Jews were still the majority at this time. But that didn't last too long. In fact, some of the books written later that are included in the New Testament document the flow of Greek culture into church. Though the term isn't used in the Bible, Gnostics (a sect of Christians who believe that knowledge {Gnosis in Greek means knowledge} equaled salvation and that temporal things, like the body, were evil) were butting heads with others in the church. These were just our first indications that more trouble was on the way.

Post-New Testament, the church changed dramatically. Greco-Roman culture overtook the church. As Christianity made its way across Europe, the majority of new converts were no longer Jews holding to Judaic law and culture. These people were Greeks who held Socrates, Plate, and Aristotle in high reverence. Then Constantine comes along and makes Christianity a protected religion of the state. Augustine, who is considered one of the major shapers of Western thought, was actually a convert from a form of Gnosticism. Though he improved some of the thoughts on the "equality" of body and soul, he furthered the idea that the two are separate.

In Gnosticism, the physical world was tainted and lesser than the spiritual world. Therefore, the body was separate from the soul because it wasn't as important from the soul. The body was earthly and evil. (Some sects even held that Jesus was never crucified because he couldn't have a body because the body was sinful. They said we just "saw" it happening, but it never happened.) The soul was spiritual and would have been God's main concern. It follows that if the soul is God's main concern, it should be our main concern as well, right?

Its easy to see that this line of thought still affects the church and Christian thought today. I'm sure people won't like reading some of this. Some people will argue that this dualism is held in Scripture. But to be honest, the only way you can read the New Testament and come out with the understanding of a separate body and soul, of which the soul is more important, is if you read it through a world-view that has been heavily influenced by Greek philosophy.

I think we are a holistic being. Matthew quotes Jesus as saying "Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." Mark and Luke quote the same thing, but they add "... with all your strength" as well. I think Jesus was reminding us that we're one, whole being. Not separate, but one.

In light of all that, lots of people have told me that I put someone's "physical" needs above their "spiritual" needs. That I overemphasize the "temporal" and am forgetting about the "eternal." I'm not here to argue that one is more important than the other. I'm pointing out that they're the same thing. To verbally tell someone about the God who loves them and desires them to be a part of His story is the same thing as making sure our friend Rick under the Church St bridge in Nashville has food and water. I think 2 Timothy 4:2 is on the same plane as Matthew 25:31-46.

Doug Pagitt makes the point in his book "A Christianity Worth Believing" that "when we minister to people, we minister to the whole person. This is the implication of holism, not that we pick one side of the old debate between caring for physical needs and caring for the soul but that we understand and live in the reality that the "difference" between them is not what we may have thought it was."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Michael Phelps is a freak of nature...

I don't know if you've been watching any of the Olympics, but you should catch up on Men's Swimming if you haven't seen any as of yet. Michael Phelps is a freak! The dude can swim... fast. He's unbelievable to watch. (Plus his neck is the circumference of an average car tire.) But that's just an aside...

My wedding was one of the best days of my life. I'll breathe my last breath knowing that the decision to marry Brittany was one of the best choices I made on this earth. Our wedding was a celebration of that love and it was tremendous.

With that being said, I'm not a fan of attending weddings. I know, its selfish. I wanted people to come to mine and then I'm not enthusiastic about going to others unless I'm really close to them. Ah well... atleast I admit I'm selfish. But anyway, I struggle at weddings because of what is said a lot of times.

I hate when people talk about "soul mates." (Brittany told me she remembers when I first said that to her--she was so upset. Now she understands where I was coming from and what I mean. For instance, when a marriage ends in divorce, are those people not soul mates after all? Is their soul mate still out there? Was their first marriage a mistake? What about the kids from that non-soul mate marriage? Its a complicated issue for me...)

I hate it even more so when its taken a step further and its talked about that "God made these two people for each other." Its pretty much the idea of "Christian soul mates." That's probably some of the worst theological talk one could possible make. I am a Creationist. I believe that God literally made the universe and everything in it... including humanity. However it worked and however it was done (including how long it took), I find to be trivial. To me, the important part is that God/Jesus/Elohim did it. Anyway, in that same vein, I believe God made people for him. (Which is a complicated issue within itself, but that's another post.) We were created with a bigger purpose that marriage to another human.

For Christians to talk about "two people, who were made for each other" sickens me. To imply that we are made for marriage is horrible! Horrible for the reasons I've already discussed and because it puts so much emphasis on marriage. What about singles and people who never get married? Did God not "make someone for them?" Are they doing something wrong that they are not entitled to a soul mate? Is their life incomplete because they haven't found "their" significant other?

I think we can "over-spiritualize" choices in life. Like prayer before meals and softball games being a requirement, we can miss the point entirely if we aren't careful. If you've gotten to really know someone, to really love them, and you can't see a future without them, then rock and roll on it. But that's not the point of our existence.

I told a friend one time that I feel like most Christian college ministries are just free dating services. We emphasize it to the point that people feel like they must find someone to marry. A lot of Christians are so eager to marry, that they go with the first person who comes along. (Is sex really that important? By no means! I've heard Shane Claiborne talk about the fact that we can live without sex but we cannot live without love. Marrying for sex is like flushing happiness down the toilet.) The New Testament, quite frankly, encourages singleness. Let's be honest: there's a lot of inherent freedom in being single. You can go where you want to go and do whatever you want and need to do without having to worry about anyone else.

I'm rambling at this point. I obviously don't have a problem with getting married or with weddings--I'm married and I had an amazing wedding celebration. Brittany and I just attended a great wedding celebration this past weekend. I just can't believe what we do with Biblical texts sometimes. I can't believe what we tell our kids and teenagers. I think, at the end of the day, if God created people for each other, our existence is meaningless. It turns the Way of Jesus on its head--life becomes about something it is not. And I find it sad...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

With the wife gone...

Brittany was outta town all last weekend. To fill my time, I finished a couple of projects I had been working on. (The one I was most excited about was my speaker cabinet I had made of red oak. I finished the exterior of it and MY OH MY is it lovely. I'll post pics when we get a camera.)

Besides that, I watched movies. Movies Brittany would not want to watch, specifically. My reviews are as follows:


Fantastic. I really love Will Ferrell anyway, but thought his last couple of movies haven't been so great. ("Old School" and "Anchorman" set the bar really high, you know? "Talladega Nights" and "Blades of Glory" simply didn't live up to my standards. Though "Stranger Than Fiction" was top notch.)

I like this movie. It was vulgar and over the top and hilarious. I've heard his other new movie, "Step Brothers," is funny as well. So maybe Will is on the up and up. But if you don't have kids (the language is bad) and you like his brand of humor, try it out.

Hot Rod

Andy Samberg is a funny, funny man. He (along with Bill Hader) keep SNL alive right now. I expected this movie to be comical but stupid--and it was. It just wasn't as comical as I had hoped.

The movie has its highlights. Like when Rico beats up a guy with a parking cone or when Rod and his step-go nuts on each other at the end. Laugh out loud moments. They are just few and far between. It was okay. But just okay. Nothing to write home about.

Shoot 'Em Up

Clive Owen is a jack of all trades. He does romance movies ("Elizabeth"). He does drama ("Closer," "Children of Men"). He does a historical/action/romance ("King Arthur"). He does action ("Sin City"). And to be honest, I've enjoyed them all. Same goes for Paul Giamatti--he can play a stuttering introvert ("Lady in the Water"), an ambitious old-school cop ("Illusionist") and even a guy trying to find his way in life and love ("Sideways"). Once again, I generally enjoy his roles and movies.

This movie surprised me. It was a caper style action film--unexpected story line, interesting characters, lots of violence, great dialogue. I liked it a lot. Stylistically it fit somewhere between "Snatch" and "Sin City." It wasn't a top ten or anything, but it was well worth watching. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Rocket Science

You gotta watch an indie film occasionally. Not too long ago, Brittany and I watched a British indie film called "Death at a Funeral" and we loved it. (British comedies are great--they like to use the f word and their brand of dry wit cracks me up.) But the low budget films like this are typically well written and shot in ways that aren't typical of such movies.

This movie takes awkward to a new level. Once again, though its not a British flick, the humor is very dry. It had me laughing out loud a lot at the incredibly odd situations it threw the main character into. Its focused on figuring out love in the teenage years. But all in all, it was fantastic. The end catches you off guard a little bit and perhaps doesn't resolve like some people would want it to. And you don't understand the title until the final two minutes. I would label it "subtlely hilarious."

So there you have it on JD's movie reviews.

My blogging has not be as prolific as usual. Jason has been putting me to shame lately. For that, I apologize. I've been really busy. I know, I know. That's not an excuse. Forgive me. I'll be rolling again before you know it. Until then...