Sunday, November 30, 2008

"You're not your freakin' khakis."

So we didn’t buy anything on the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday—which, by the way, I find to be a very appropriate name). We weren’t “sticking it to the man.” We weren’t changing the systems. We were just taking another step.

We stopped shopping at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. We still shop at Target. So are we making a huge difference? No. Are we taking a step in the right direction? Yes.

We started trying to eat local as often as possible—cooking local food and eating at local restaurants. Do we always do this? No. Is it making a huge difference in the lack of accountability at supermarkets and fast food chains? No. Is it a step in the right direction? Yes.

We are trying to sell one of our cars to take us down to a single car between Brittany and I. Do I still ride the scooter (which is gas powered) a lot? Yes. Does it get 70 mpg and save us a lot of money on fuel? Yes. Do we still go on road trips when we want to? Yes. Am I opposed to flying in planes? No. Are we making a huge difference in American’s addiction to oil? No. Are we taking a step in the right direction? Yes.

That’s the thing with all of this. We’re trying to move in the right direction. The steps we are taking aren’t near as drastic as others—we even have some friends who are taking more extreme measures to change our country and world. But we are taking steps. We are trying to change.

That’s why we didn’t shop the day after Thanksgiving. In doing so, we weren’t changing all that is evil within our capitalist economic systems. We were simply taking a stand and saying we will not take part in things like this anymore. We aren’t perfect. We’re not ready for a lot of steps yet. But that’s why I say “steps.” One at a time, we’re working our way towards a goal of living in a way that is both environmentally sustainable and conscious or product origins.

I don’t want to say too much about retail extravaganzas like Black Friday for fear I’ll hurt someone’s feelings. (I obviously don't think ALL purchases made on that day were bad ideas or a waste of money.) Then too, I realize full well that I’m as much responsible as anyone else for humanity’s current state—so I admit my hypocritical tendencies. But after hearing about this, it’s hard to be quiet. Are the sale prices worth all this? Is this what people need to get excitement in their lives? Do children need the next Tickle Me Elmo or video game system so bad that it’s worth all this madness? Advertising like Best Buy’s “You, Happier” campaign makes me want to vomit. To sum up Tyler Durden, advertising and media and marketing has us chasing cars and clothes and crap we don’t need.

I guess I say all this for two reasons: 1, to defend my actions and worldview; 2, to remind us all that we have to change. We should be responsible for the things we purchase. We should spend less on useless gifts. I encourage everyone to check out the Advent Conspiracy. It’s a great first step for those interested in taking one.

On a side note: Brittany and I have figured out a legitimate and legal way to setup back enough money to move to Europe before next Christmas. We’re keeping our fingers crossed…

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Socio-Political Animated Films and Me

This movie blew me away. 90% of the movie has no real dialog. Its brilliant.

I know this movie is aimed at children, but it has a lot to say to adults. People in the movie become totally reliant on technology, which, eventually, results in their becoming fat and stupid. Their insatiable need for buying larger amounts of cheap products results in the destruction of the earth--mainly through the overwhelming amounts of waste. They are all so absorbed in the technology they've been surrounded by since birth, that they're all totally unaware of the world around them. The connectivity brought by technology has caused a lack of real relationships and active lifestyles.

Not only is there all of this stuff going on under the surface, but it has laughs. I loved it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

According to you, God must be lonely...

I've talked about Doug Pagitt's book "A Christianity Worth Believing" on here before. Its a great book--well worth your time to read. But just as great as reading the book was getting to go to the book tour stop in Nashville, helping setup the lights and sound, and hanging out with Doug, Tony Jones and Mark Scandrette. When Doug was doing his book reading/share time, he was talking about his opinion on tracts--and it was a enlightening moment.

I know you've probably seen the "Gospel tract" before--here's an e-version of one. They attempt to explain the whole story of God in a short, concise manner so as to convince someone to "personally invite Christ" into their life. (I use quotations only because I'm quoting the text from the page, not because I'm poking fun at what its saying.) Anyway, a lot of times these tracts show man and God separated by some great void that sin has created. (See here.) Doug made the point that God, who is (according to the diagram) all by himself on the one side of the void, must get lonely over there.

I've been thinking about that a lot. Not the joke. I got the joke. It was very funny to me. But I've been thinking about the separation from God that these tracts proclaim. One of the most beautiful teachings within Methodist doctrine is prevenient or preceding grace. (Decent explanation here.) It basically boils down to the idea that God is always part of all of our lives--his grace, his love is an active part of every individual's existence.

That's my problem with tracts. That's my problem with a lot of evangelism styles. They always boil it down to the "fact" that we're broken people (which I agree with) who are sinful (which I also agree with) and because of that, are separated from God (that, I don't agree with). I think God is always part of every life. For instance...

I think we all have an inherent sense of morality. Try cutting in line at the water fountain after recess at your local elementary school. Try cutting in line at Wal-Mart during their Day-After-Thanksgiving-Sale. Try sleeping with your wife's best friend, tell your wife about it, then blame it on her. Try living in Columbus, Ohio and supporting the University of Michigan. Try eating more than two Big Bufords from Rally's. There's just some things you KNOW you shouldn't do. You don't have to be told. You know.

That's just one example, and to some of you, that's a piss poor example. There's plenty of others we could talk about. But the point is this: there exists all kinds of evidence that God is at work in the life of every human. God isn't on the opposite side of some void or chasm, waiting for us to "invite Jesus to be our personal Lord and Savior." God is involved here and now--pointing us towards a better way. God's grace is present in all of our lives.

Psalm 139:7-8
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

Friday, November 7, 2008

No more guessing...

All the votes are in.

This is a big deal.

I wait in anticipation. I'm incredibly curious to see what this change in administration brings us. I don't think Obama is the answer to all my prayers--my hope rests in Jesus. Obama was just a better choice than the McCain/Palin ticket. A MUCH better choice...

Regardless of what you think of him, its a historic day: our first black president. As far as change goes, we'll just have to wait and see what happens come next year...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Interesting news...

For those who care:

Emergent Village is undergoing some major changes. Read about it here.

Emergent Village has been such a huge catalyst for change (re:much needed change) to the structure, practices and conversations of the American church. Indeed, many of the people associated with EV have been encouraging and helpful in my own journey in figuring out what it means to be a follower of the way of Jesus in this day and time. I kinda saw this coming when I filled out the survey they talk about in the press release--but its good to see that they are being consistent to meeting the need rather than building the institution.

"High five!" Tony Jones and all the good people of Emergent Village. Thanks for what you've done and can't wait to see what's next.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

National Set Your Clock Back An Hour (For Some Reason) Day

The Road Hog (part 2):
I've almost got two thousand miles on it now.

The Eagle (its what makes The Scooter into The Hog):
Recognize! And in case you were wondering--the answer is "yes." The eyes do light up.

The Guitar Cabinet (I built it out of solid red oak. It's sexy.):
Who doesn't love green velour?

The Cabinet Rear (its loaded with a Celestion Vintage 60 and a Jensen Vintage Ceramic):

And now...

Prepare yourself.

The Goatee:

Its been with me for about six months. A little skanky, but very dignified:

I'm gonna donate this to the Locks of Love program:

I'm gonna miss it. My face feels weird now. Perhaps that's why I look so odd here:
Merry Christmas, Brittany...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pictures! (as promised)

The Girl (Penelope Jane Ryan):

The Boy (Capo Hemingway James Ryan):

The Shoulder (before Wes Carter):

The Shoulder (after Wes Carter):

The Plinko Board (I built this at the request of Jason for the youth):

More to come! This is all it'll let me load for tonight. I've got pictures of the scooter, some new pedals, my finished speaker cab, and Halloween. High five...