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Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year, etc etc...

So I think I'm gonna write some posts this week about my favorite things from 2010 (ie, favorite book, favorite album, etc etc). Let me know if you have any requests.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A confession...

I just haven't felt like blogging lately. I know that I have not finished my "I Believe..." series. I might not ever finish it.

I've had too much to say.

I've had nothing to say.

Take it for what you will.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What I Believe (part 20)

I believe that some people care way too much about Facebook.

Because I've felt unnecessarily concerned about what everyone else would think, I've been deleting more and more "friends" who have had access to my Facebook profile. I'm sure some people will take offense to it. I'm sure most won't care.

I wish everyone wouldn't care.

Its just Facebook. Its not the real world.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What I Believe (part 19)

I believe that when millions of people are excited about Day After Thanksgiving sales it should become clear to us that our lives are losing meaning.

PS- Celebrate Buy Nothing Day instead.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What I Believe (part 18)

I believe that some days its hard to believe anything.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A post about makeovers...





Gunther has been getting a makeover. Its gonna be a slow process, but I had to start doing something about the emerging rust spots. A lot of sanding and a little primer went a long way:



(You can ignore this one. I need to post pics on here to host them so I can post them on the VW forum I am a part of. But, if you're really into engine bays, here's what mine currently looks like:)



I also got a makeover. I had some serious sideburns and a mustache for a while. Its gone now. But here's a photo for you to know what a real creeper looks like:

Monday, October 25, 2010

What I Believe (part 17)

I believe that it is impossible to call yourself a follower of Jesus and to support war, violence, and militarism.

People have a hard time with this. I don't. I don't support the death penalty. I don't support war of any kind (particularly the ones we/the US are/is involved in now). And I wish my 50% of my tax dollars didn't go to support the military. My reasoning for this? A mix of my theological perspective and common sense. But, if I only look at things from the perspective of being a follower of Jesus, there's no way I see anyone being able to justify supporting any of the 3 things listed above.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What I Believe (part 16)

I believe that a life not invested in one's community is a life that is lived too small.

People who don't have good social networks (and I'm not talking about Facebook--that's not real), who don't actively participate in civic opportunities, who aren't engaged in community activities, who don't do stuff in their own neighborhoods... these people lead small lives.

Things that shouldn't matter much become big issues for people who don't have big issues to deal with. Life is meant to be lived. We are meant to make this world better--even if its in small ways. Everyone has something to offer the world and the community in which they reside.

Go. Live. Be. Move. Breathe. Take risks. Be crazy. Be spontaneous. Eat. Drink. Laugh. Love. Get involved. (Is this becoming a motivational poster? I'll stop.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What I Believe (part 15)

I believe that the lottery does what the church has not: offered hope for something better.

I could probably write a novel on this. I could probably rant all day on how we've all failed as Christians. I could probably get so depressed I'd contemplate suicide. I could probably get so angry that I'd say a lot of things I don't mean. But I won't. I'll just say that I believe the church's job is to provide people with a hope for something better and a way of getting there. So when the church fails to do that, people look other places for that hope. People (in America anyway) are finding new hope in things like consumerism, anti-depressants, fast food, and the lottery.

"Hope is subversive, for it limits the grandiose pretensions of the present by calling into existence the possibility of something better." -Walter Brueggemann, Prophetic Imagination (HT: Ben Kickert)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I like this guy...

He's no Ryan Adams musically, but he's got some great things to say:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What I Believe (part 14)

I believe that the existence of a highly evolved race on another planet could explain everything.

Seriously.

I'm not saying that aliens exist. I'm not saying that their existence answers all of our questions. I'm just saying that if there are aliens out there, and if they are highly evolved, then they could be the answer to all of life's big questions. What if they had been here to earth in the past? What if they had seeded life on the planet? What if they didn't seed life here, but they interacted with us in the past in ways that convinced us they were God/gods? What if all writings of faith regarding a God or gods were actually talking about aliens who had visited here and interacted with us?

What if?

Like I said, I'm not submitting this as a rational response to all of life's big questions. I'm just saying that if we, at some point, make contact with aliens, it could change everything about what we know. Honestly, I think this is the only thing that could derail my belief in God. But I don't see such an event happening.

To be honest, the one and only Michael Meece spurred on these thoughts. He should write a blog solely on this topic. But he's avoiding the vanity that I so readily accept by blogging often. Anyway... just wanted to give him credit.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What I Believe (part 13)

I believe that we are all born with a clean slate.

In other words: I don't believe in original sin (ie, that humans are born fallen/sinful/predisposed to evil/etc.) I feel like most of the teachings on original sin come from a narrow view of two sections of the New Testament (Romans 5 and 1st Corinthians 15). Then too, most American Christians adhere to the doctrinal teachings of Calvin, Luther or Wesley--all of whom claim that man is inherently sinful (though in slightly different ways). I just don't see it as being a Biblical concept. I see it as another major issue within Christianity that more people look to Augustine for answers rather than to Jesus.

(If you'd like some specifics, I'm not a Pelagianist. But I think the Augustinian view on original sin borders on Manichaeism. "Adam and Eve" may have wrecked the human environment, but I don't think they passed on sinfulness simply by procreating.)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What I Believe (part 12)

I believe that God does not exist is the same way the we humans exist. For instance, God is not alive in the same sense that we are alive (mainly because our existence depends on a brain, heart, blood, and oxygen all working together internally in our bodies).

I think I would make two main subpoints with this statement: 1, God is other/unique. This is why God is called "holy," because God's existence is set apart from our own; 2, God is not a "he." God is also not a "she." Then too, God is not an "it." God just doesn't have a gender. Its not offensive to use any gender terms when discussing God, in my eyes. Sometimes its best to refer to God as "she" to make a point/statement.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Too funny...

I thought this was hilarious. Can you imagine how long it would have taken Bush's writers to come up with a joke like that? I'm glad Obama has brains and charisma.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What I Believe (part 11)

I believe that "eternal conscious torment in hell" has more to do with Plato and Dante than it does with anything found in the Bible.

Am I saying that I don't believe in a place called "hell" where people who choose not to "accept Jesus into their hearts" are tormented in fire for ever and ever and ever?

Yes. I am saying that I don't believe the Bible teaches anything like that.

Is that clear enough?

What I Believe (intermission)

I believe in Cheesus.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What I Believe (part 10)

I believe that both Creationist and Evolutionist perspectives do a poor job of explaining our existence.

(We are here. On this planet. Breathing this air. We've made buildings. I'm typing on a computer. We drive cars that have engines lubricated with oil that run on gas combustion. I can fart. I can talk. I can sing. I can run. How wild is that? I don't think we're accidents. Humanity being here on this planet, living our lives is just too much for me to handle. I can't rationalize it. I would like a good explanation for why I'm here. Why we're here. How we got here.

And, to be honest, I don't feel like a Creationist or an Evolutionist can provide a complete answer to those questions. Maybe they do generally--but not when it comes to specifics.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I still believe stuff...

I've been slacking on my "What I Believe" posts. I'll keep it up. Promise. Work has been busy and I've been spending quite a bit of free time fixing the VW. Stay tuned. They'll resume.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The new addition:

1972 Volkswagen Super Beetle

I haven't decided what I'm gonna call it. I'm bringing it home tomorrow. I'm sure I'll have periodic updates.












Sunday, September 19, 2010

What I believe (day 9)

I believe that there is chaos in all of us. The concept of "ex nihilo" is not to be found in Judeo-Christian scriptures concerning Creation.

Friday, September 17, 2010

What I believe (day 8)

I believe that the Bible is valid and can be trusted. I would not use the terms "inerrant" or "infallible" to describe it, though.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What I Believe (day 7)

I believe a literal interpretation of the Bible is naive.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What I Believe (day 6)

I believe that our stories are just as important as the narrative established in biblical texts.

In other words, our lives matter. Our stories matter. Nothing ended when texts were canonized. We are a continuation of the story arc begun in Genesis 1.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What I Believe (day 5)

I believe that my salvation is somehow tied to yours.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What I Believe (day 4)

I believe that an understanding of time is an important part of an understanding of life.

For instance, I think that time is either not linear or that God is bound by it. I've had two great conversations on the matter in the past week. Both were talking about it from an unbiased perspective (by that, I mean that they were not defending God's position in it all, but simply discussing their views on the matter of time). One friend was saying how he believes that time is cyclical and the other was saying how he believes that time is consistent and linear. Both had great points. I blogged about this a bit a while back myself. From my worldview and theological perspective, its impossible for time to be linear and God to be outside of it. Time may very well be linear; and if that's the case, then God is bound by it just like the rest of the universe.

Its complicated, I know.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Went camping this weekend. Didn't use a computer. I'll pick it back up tomorrow with the "I believe..." statements.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What I Believe (day 3)

I believe that most of us don't have a clue who Jesus really was.

Pray for my wife--she has to live with me.

So I always surprise poor Brittany whenever I come up with my next hair-brained scheme. This week, its the desire to own a classic VW Beetle. We've been a "1 Car Couple" for a while now, and I love driving the scooter, but occassionally, it'd be nice to have a car. I just see an old Beetle as a logical solution to said problem. I'm going to post pictures on here, not for your viewing pleasure, but as a way to host them when I post to forums. I'm not a VW expert, but there are plenty out there. So I'm searching for a car and posting pictures for the experts to give me their opinions (and sending Tim pictures and asking him lots of questions).

I love my wife. She has to put up with me.



Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What I Believe (day 2)

I believe that all humans have libertarian free will and that understanding this is essential to a fulfilling existence.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What I Believe (day 1)

I believe in God.

(That statement needs a lot more explanation. And I'm not willing to give it. I'll simply say that I believe in the existence of a God who, in some way, is responsible for the actuality of the universe and the contents thereof.)

Monday, August 30, 2010

What I Believe (or, A Preface)

I haven't felt like blogging much lately. So I decided I would try something: every day for the month of September, I'm going to make a short post about what I believe. I don't know exactly what that means, but essentially...

-I'll post daily for a month
-I'll try to keep each post as short as possible (a sentence or two)
-Each post will start with "I believe..."

That's all I got. Tomorrow is Day 1. Thanks for reading along...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Today is Glenn Beck's "I have a scheme" speech...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
I Have a Scheme
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Well...

I haven't been writing much.

I think I may be done with blogging.

I dunno.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Bday gift for Penelope...

Hey engineer people: can one of you build this for me? I get tired of throwing Penelope's bone for her all day.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mystified...

I overheard someone speaking of the recent heat wave in Kentucky. She was saying...

"We were at a pool party at the country club and heat was just oppressive!"

Really? Oppressive? The heat at pool party at the local, private country club?

Oppressive?

I found it humorous and sad all at the same time. What a poor choice of words. We just don't get it sometimes, do we?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Its a double rainbow all the way!

I wish I could be as excited about blogging as this guy is about a double rainbow he sees in Yosemite National Park.

PS-He's gotta be on acid. Or drunk. For reals. No one gets this excited about a rainbow.




"What does it mean? Its too much! What does it mean? Oh my God. Its so intense."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tweet, tweet...

I'm on Twitter.

I know, I know--I caved. Finally. I'm been fighting it for 2 years. Oh well.

You can follow me here: theycallmeJDR

Monday, July 12, 2010

The other woman in my life...

Don't worry. Brittany already knows about the other woman in my life. I've truly fallen for her. We've never even had a real conversation. I love her mom and dad, and thought after she arrived that I would learn to like her. I didn't have to learn. There was no time involved. It was love at first sight. I'm not sure how she feels. She slobbers on me a lot and cries whenever I hold her.

As cute as photos like these are:


...these types of faces are my favorite (it reminds me she is her dad's daughter):


One day, I'll tell her. But until then...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I don't cry often...

I'm emotional. I'll give you that. But I don't cry often.

However, when art strikes me the right way, it can quickly bring me to tears. I cried when I watched Pixar's film "Up," pained by the beauitful narrative they were telling. I cried standing in Museo del Prado in Spain, awed by the history and beauty I was surrounded by. I've cried several times when leaving good concerts, awed by the music that stirs my soul.

I've been reading John Irving's "The Cider Hour Rules." Its an absolutely fantastic novel. About 3/4 of the way through, he drops this bombshell and I lost it:

"No, not in a better world!" he cried. "In this one--in this world. I take this world as a given. Talk to me about this world!"

Sitting alone in my house, getting ready to take a shower, I cried.

We can speak of a more optimal world. We can speak of heaven. We can speak of dreams and wishes of different lives. But right now, all we have is this world.

I'm tired of speaking of things and using phrases like "if only." If we are going to change what is, we better start dealing with things as they are. This is the world we live in. Not some other world. Not a theoretically different place. This earth. Now. This is what we have.

I want to be part of changing the world. God, I wish I knew where to start.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The long and short of it...

I said on Facebook recently that believing in God is difficult on some days--its not that I don't believe, its just that I struggle with that belief more on some days.

I wrestle with the existence of God--a higher being out there who is completely unique and other. And in my life, this causes some complications. If there is no God, then all of this is meaningless. Life has no point. We are born. We die. And things keep moving on. Add to that: if there is no God, then Jesus could not have been deity.

If I start questioning the deity of Jesus, then I have to question his resurrection. There would be no point in his rising from the grave if no one else is going to rise from the grave.

So if there is no God, and Jesus wasn't deity, and there is no final Resurrection, then this is all meaningless. There's no future hope of all things being made right.

Two things:

1-I can see how some people can get to a point where they become Christian Atheists. They no longer believe in a Creator God or the deity of Jesus, but continue to follow the way of Jesus. They see the teachings and message of Jesus to be of the utmost importance to living a fulfilling life and to making the world a better place, but the concepts of afterlife are gone from their worldview. Their decisions and life choices still matter as they affect the world and the people in it--however, morality has no eternal effects.

2-I still believe in God. As much as I've been wrestling with the idea, I can't get past the fact that I'm here. You're here. We're all here on this planet. We have these ridiculously efficient bodies that breathe this perfect combination of earth's air and drink this water and reproduce in the craziest way and laugh and love and fart and think. There are these mountains and these animals and these rivers and these days that go by with a sun and moon and stars. I just can't fathom that this was all an accident. I just can't believe that something didn't make this happen. There is more of an explanation to life than the Big Bang offers. As simplistic as the anthropic principle is, I think its the only argument I'll never be able to get past when having this discussion.


What about you? Is there a God(s)? If yes, why do you believe in him/her/it/them? If there isn't a God(s), why not? What does that mean for your life? What does it mean for the lives of all humanity?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

And this is my chest now.



I've got another tattoo session in the not-too-distant future. But I love what I got done today. It hurt. A lot. But that's not gonna stop me from getting the rest done.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This is my chest.


And this is the last day my chest will look like this.

Well, actually, this picture was the day I started P90X. It doesn't look much different now. But tomorrow, it shall have tattoos. So, while it will be the same chest tomorrow, it won't be tattoo free anymore.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Oh, Stephen Hawking--you're such a card.

So, in my last post, I started talking about the concept of time and how it affects my worldview. Keith Ward, an Oxford philosopher, proposes the idea that before Creation/The Big Bang, nothing was happening. It was impossible for God to be doing anything without space and time. Ergo, before the start of time, God simply was.

Time is a weird thing. I've always talked about time as being linear. There is time past, time present, and time future. We exist in time right now. We don't exist in the past still and we don't exist in the future yet.

But God is unique. God is other. God is not us. If God created time, is she limited by it? If God did not create time, is she limited by it?

When discussing time and theology, I've been told numerous times that we are limited by time but God is not. Meaning, that we are stuck in our present spot in linear time but God is still in the past, present in the here and now, and already in the future. I've just kinda taken that for granted. I just assumed that was right. However, that certainly brings up some issues for me.

I have a friend who asked me: "If time only exists here on earth, and heaven is another realm of space and time, then did Jesus really ever leave heaven?" At first, I thought this was funny. And it is. But its troubling at the same time because it points to holes in our understanding of time.

I believe that we have libertarian free will. We, as humans, have the ability to choose to do or not to do whatever we want. I don't think God intervenes in human choice. As I worked through my understanding of God and the problem of evil and while back, I came to several conclusions: 1, God is good and loving; 2, humans have free will; 3, humans can choose to do good or bad; 4, God can't intervene when bad/evil choices are made because God can't undo what hasn't been done yet. (You can search in the bar at the top left side of the page for the posts on this. Just search for "The Problem of Evil." Make sure and read all four parts.)

(To explain answer #4 a little better: I think that God can't see beyond the choices that haven't been made. Does that mean I'm saying God isn't all-powerful? Some would say yes. I say: "not necessarily." I know it sounds like a Deist thought, but I can't honestly say that I believe that God intervenes in human affairs anymore.)

But if God is outside of time, then none of this makes sense. God would be able to see all of the history of the universe if she is unhindered by space/time. God would already know the choices we make and the outcomes of said choices if she is outside of linear time.

So, I've come to the following conclusion: either (1) God is not outside of and unhindered by time or (2) time is not linear.

I'm fine with either being correct... mainly because I know I'll never have a real answer. Oh sure, I'll have some good guesses--but that's all they'll be. I mean, if Stephen Hawking can't prove linear time, then I don't have a chance.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Oh, Richard Dawkins--you're such a card.

So I started reading the book of John this week (as in Saint John as in the 4th Gospel of the New Testament of the Bible as in the Black Sheep of the Gospel Writers). Its such an interesting book. Matthew, Mark and Luke are so different from John's book.

He starts off not by telling a biography of the life of Jesus, but by using some flowery language to talk about Jesus himself. Its the whole "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God... etc etc." I love how poetic it is. But it makes me think. Those words hit me funny: "In the beginning..."

In the beginning of what?

Genesis starts off the same way. "In the beginning, God created..." That's so weird. It's not like its saying "At the beginning of the 17th of January, 4 billion AD..." or "At the beginning of LOST season 5, Jack..." or "At the beginning of the movie, Marty McFly..." Its saying in THE beginning. Not a beginning. But THE beginning. The ultimate beginning. The start of it all. The origin of everything. Ergo, I can only begin to understand this if "in the beginning" is referring to the start of time.

I think the Bible is asserting that Genesis 1:1 is the beginning of time. But God was apparently around before that. And if God was around before that, what was God doing?

Keith Ward has just written a book in response to Richard Dawkins talking about why he feels that there almost certainly is a God. Its a complex philosophical perspective to flesh out, and though I haven't read it, the book is supposed to be decent. Anyway, in the video below, Ward asserts that God couldn't be doing anything before the start of time. There was nothing to do--there was nothing before the origin of the universe because of the lack of space and time. Ward says (around the 41 minute mark):

"In other words, its not just that you go back, perhaps, 13.7 thousand million years to the Big Bang and you say: "Well, what happened before that?" Incidentally, the answer to that is: nothing. Because, at the Big Bang, space and time originated. So before the Big Bang there wasn't any time. Therefore, there was no before the Big Bang. So, what happened before the Big Band? Nothing! That's very unsatisfactory, but its true... So what was God doing before time began? Augustine said (quite correctly): nothing. He didn't have any time... So you've got to think of creation as the dependence of every time upon some non-temporal being beyond it."

That's interesting. Its not that God was resting or just hanging out... God simply was. Nothing could be happening without time, according to Ward.

Time is a crazy concept. And I wanna write more about it. So I'll post a 'part 2' before the week is up. I've got a lotta questions bouncing around in my head. One of my most important personal theological perspectives hinges on this matter, so I need some room to think.

Be back soon.

Keith Ward: "Why There Almost Certainly Is a God: Doubting Dawkins from Metanexus Institute on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Music and the movement...

I'm often asked what my favorite song is. I can't ever nail it down. I'm pretty sure it'd probably be "Holiday In Spain" by Counting Crows. But that's my best guess. I'm still arguing with myself over this one. I probably always will.

As of late, my favorite new artists have been Mumford & Sons (British folk) and The Tallest Man on Earth (aka: Kristian Matsson, folk). Both are beyond incredible. I have decided that I would love the Avett Brothers more if their CD's resembled more of their live sound. Brittany has fallen for Old Crow Medicine Show. The new Band of Horses album has disappointed me. There's not enough reverb. It just doesn't have the same ballsy feel as their last two, "Cease to Begin" and "Everything All The Time." The new Swell Season LP is great while the new Modest Mouse EP doesn't really excite or disappoint me. The National moves me in ways I didn't expect--their mellow, sultry sound is terrific. I've also taken a liking to Noah and the Whale as they can arrange some very dynamic, emotional songs with captivating lyrics.

I've tried to think of what started all of this. What were the first songs that really struck a chord within me and made me what to write and sing? There are certainly early influences that impacted me a lot. My dad always had country music playing in his truck. My sister always had the latest cassette from New Kids on the Block, Michael Jackson or Paula Abdul. My mom always had the oldies playing in the car and loved to sing. But what particular songs? I've narrowed it down. I think the following three songs were catalytic in my musical life:

1- Say It Ain't So -- Weezer

2- Motorcycle Drive-By -- Third Eye Blind

3- Long December -- Counting Crows

I could name a million. Some came before, some came after. But those three moved something in me. Those three changed me in some way.

What about you? What songs impacted who you are? What music makes you feel a little more alive?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Prepare to waste 5 hours...

Wikipedia is an incredible website. Its a cultural phenomenon. Who would have thought five years ago that an open-source encyclopedia would be successful, much less this huge? I love the idea that information edited by many would/could be more accurate than information selected and edited by a few scholars. Granted, I wouldn't use Wikipedia for a research paper. But if I want to find quick info on about anything, I search for whatever I'm curious about followed by "wiki" so that link comes up first. Need info on the first moon landing? Its there. Info on the Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills and Nash? Its there. Info in the human reproductive system? Its there. Info on the history of tattooing? Its there. Info on anything else you could ever want to know? Its probably there.

I came across this great site tonight. Copybot has put together a link list of the 50 most interesting articles on Wikipedia. Bookmark it. When you're bored, read through some of the articles. You'll soon be a wealth of knowledge and interesting facts.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New look... again...

I'm working on it. Be patient with me.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Den of Satan...

You probably thought I'd be writing about Lifeway Christian book stores or Glenn Beck's living room. But you're wrong. I'm talking about Wal-Mart. Yes, that evil cistern of waste and rape: Wal-Mart.

I think that Wal-Mart is a stain on our society. Its bad for so many reasons. "Like what reasons?" you ask. Well, here's a few:

1- They exploit their workers. (The typical pay rate is terrible. The average worker makes less than $20,000 a year yet Wal-Mart profits reach into the billions annually.)

2- They burden American taxpayers. (Most employees don't get health care from Wal-Mart, so they're encouraged to seek public assistance. Guess who pays for that?)

3- They destroy local economies. (Most local businesses don't sell the cheap crap from China that Wal-Mart sells internationally in huge, bulk amounts. Ergo, local businesses lose shoppers and eventually close. When a Wal-Mart opens in a town, it typically causes more jobs to be lost than it creates. Do they care? No. They still profit.)

4- They have a huge negative impact on the environment. (Importing. Shipping. Manufacturing. Waste. Etc etc.)

5- They brainwash people. This is what I wanted to write about tonight: how Wal-Mart brainwashes people. It convinces people to buy a bunch of crap they don't need. Wal-Mart offers cheap, sweat-shop-produced items and people buy it because they see the huge displays with the rollback prices all over the store. (Last I heard, 70+% of their items were made overseas. A recent PBS documentary says that number is closer to 85%.)

Here's the rub: Wal-Mart doesn't have to have the lowest prices. In many cases, they don't. They just have to convince people that they do. And that's how they've been successful. They've got most of the world convinced that they can't afford to shop anywhere else. In this recent economic recession, all they had to do was run commercials that looked happy and cheerful and told people how low their prices were. These commercials have contained subtle hints that people can't afford to shop anywhere else. And that's simply not true. But they run ads all over the country reinforcing the idea in people's minds. (Read here.)

We (re: americans, humans, consumers, etc) should think about where we shop. Brittany and I haven't shopped at Wal-Mart in years (on purpose). Has it changed our lifestyle at all? Yes--for the better. Are we poorer? No. We probably have saved money because we don't get sucked in to buying a bunch of junk that we don't need anyway.

There are better places to shop. Like locally. Eat local. Shop local. Live local. As much as possible. But even if you can't, Cosco and Target both run better businesses that Wal-Mart. There are plenty of chain stores that treat employees well, give back to the neighborhood, and sell decent products. You don't have to shop at Wal-Mart. Moreover, you don't need to shop at Wal-Mart. An easy first step away from the consumeristic lifestyle that advertisers are convincing us to live is to cut ties with Wal-Mart. Its liberating.

Read up. Be informed. Boycott Wal-Mart.

Great article here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Rolling with them polar bears...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bumper Sticker Doctrine...

I think the worst phrased ever used by any Christian ever probably involved something to do with the word "predestined." I think the second worst phrase ever used by an Christian ever is "Let Go, Let God." That's awful. Plain awful.

What does that even mean? It makes no sense.

What am I supposed to "let go" of? And by doing so, how does that "let God" does his/her/its thing?

I think this falls under the category of Bumper Sticker Doctrine. People thought it sounded good. Its short. Its ambiguous enough that people can think it means all sorts of things. Done. They put it on stickers, motivational posters, and office paper weights.

I don't find a Biblical text anywhere that supports this kind of thinking. Nor can I think of any reasoning to actually make a logical statement to support the phrase "Let Go, Let God." It makes me angry. Its so frustrating. I know people mean well when they share these types of things, but it makes me wanna punch someone.

On a happier note: my favorite bumper sticker I ever saw said "God is coming and boy is she pissed." That's great. My second favorite said something much more offensive.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Ahhhh, Espana...

Spain was simply one of the most incredible places I've been. Barcelona is so full of art and life and beauty and culture that you know it from the minute you drive in. The week and a half Brit and I spent there last year was some of the best days of my life. We talk about going back often. We're planning on going to the UK next spring, but its tempting to return to Spain.

No matter what, though, I won't be running with the bulls. Pamplona seems like a cool city. It'd be a neat place to visit. But every time I see a photo like this, I'm quickly reminded of why I eat cows and not run among their horned brethren.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Four Fine Minutes:

This guy is so good.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Dear Reader: Some Questions...

I don't feel like talking. You should talk.

Should the toilet paper go over or under?
-For me, its over. I'll change the direction of the roll if I'm at someone's house and its rolling under. For real.

Wad or fold?
-Me? I do both.

Favorite band?
-Too tough a question. However, if I could be in any band, it'd be Counting Crows. If I could be a solo musician, I'd be The Tallest Man on Earth (aka, Kristian Matsson). Or myself. I like me, too.


Your turn.

Lately...

Lately, I've just run out of things to say. Or the desire to type the things I want to say. Life has been busy and I've been busy enjoying it (or busy complaining about the things I don't enjoy). That, or I've become apathetic about a lot.

Who knows?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Christian conferences...

I was reading a blog today that had just put up a brilliant post on Christian conferences. Parts of it are totally satirical and outrageously hilarious if you are familiar with emerging forms of church (ie, both postmodern forms and Reformed forms). I was gonna link it, but posting the full article seems more appropriate. You can check out the entire blog here: Cheaper Than Therapy.

PS- The best line is "Why We believe in Depravity of Man and the Sovereignty of God but Are Still Right about Everything." har har har! I love this. I laughed out loud multiple times while reading it. It is sheer genius. Truly brilliant...

Here's the post:

"Taking cues from other conference directors and creators, I am going into the business of creating and managing events. It should work well for me. I have put together multiple events during my life and used to be a concert promoter. In fact, I am partnering with a friend in Tampa Bay to put on next week’s Sustainable Faith conference in St. Pete featuring Shane Claiborne, Doug Pagitt and Danielle Shroyer. It should be a great event.

As I try to create my own brand of conferences I have decided to move towards absolute perfection. Too many of these conferences are trying for absolute diversity but failing miserably. Last year, friends put on such a conference in which all the speakers were women. This year, the main conference happening in a few weeks is diverse, but still over populated by men with beards (I called it the Beards of Theology event). I just received an email concerning an event in Atlanta this fall that attempts diversity. The main speakers are an African American woman, a Native American man and a white guy. This is good, but don’t women hold a higher percentage in the USA? Not, 100% like that conference I mentioned, but something like 51%-49% (I am not actually looking it up).

So, here are 2 conference ideas. The first is for progressive, emerging, Social Justice Christians. It takes a lot of work and will get me very little money since they demand everything be free or discounted (each wants an insider deal and is a poor Democrat). To make up for it, I will put on the perfect Reformed Evangelical Christian conference. I can charge a lot of money (the advantage of high salaries, big church budgets and Republicanism) with very little work.

IDEA #1


CATYLATE or CATYL8
Cost: $9.99
Location: still looking at UCC churches and seminaries in mid-major cities

21 speakers:
11 female/ 10 male
8 White
4 African American
4 Latino (representing Mexican, Caribbean, Central and South American ethnicities)
3 Asian (representing Korean and Chinese, along w/ another)
1 multi-ethnic (hopefully Jewish or Arab in there- preferable both)
1 Native American
5 will be Gay or Lesbian
10 former Evangelicals (at least 2 former Baptists, 2 former Charismatics, 3 former fundies from Liberty or a Bible college)
5 mainliners
2 Catholics
4 other faith traditions

Presently, as I try to determine speakers, I realize that I need some people to play multiple parts with the coupe de grace being someone representative of 3 groupings. This is harder than trying to make the seedings for the NCAA tournament.
Music will be led by a good natured bearded folk singer with “edgy” lyrics about doubt and never-ending crescendos… and his girlfriend.

Each talk will be 18 minutes because TED is 20 and we want to be even better than TED. Topics include "How to Be Liked by Everyone that is not a Closed Minded Fundamentalist," "What churches can learn from the spirituality and community building in dolphin communities in a pluralistic age," "Why Christianity is not really superior to other religions, but kinda is," "Post-Colonialism is not just a catchphrase--it actually means something," "Social Media: a Force for Good or a force for Great," "Open Source Theology Using a Closed Source Technology," "Life After Jesus and Why Everything we Ever Learned in Church is Wrong and the TV show LOST is Right," along with a discussion of "Why Shane Claiborne, Rob Bell and anyone too successful aren’t really in our camp."

Since I will undoubtedly lose money on this, unless I can get everyone to come for free and get some suckers to sponsor it. I still need to make some bank. For that, here is the perfect Conservative, Reformed Conference:

Conference #2
Our Gospel is Bigger than Yours
Cost $599.99
Location: Nashville with telecasts in Louisville, Dallas, Seattle, LA and Orlando

Speakers are 10 White Men, 5 of which wear suits and 5 of which cuss and wear Ed Hardy shirts.

Music will be led by a good natured bearded folk singer with “edgy” lyrics about sovereignty and reworkings of really old hymns of proper theological content all with never ending crescendos … and his pregnant wife.

Each sermon will be 45-50 minutes long, unless more time is desired. Topics will include "The Primacy of Sovereignty in Theology," "The Primacy of the Word Primacy in Preaching," "The Primacy of Men in Relationships," "The Primacy of Church Discipline," "The Primacy of the Pastor’s will being done as an indication of His role as God’s Appointed," "The Primacy of the Heresy of Emerging Christianity," "A Discussion of the Heresy of Brian McLaren by the 10 speakers in which no one is allowed to dissent from the norm," "Why Our Bible is better than yours," "Why the Atonement is Not a Rose, but is a Tulip" and "Why We believe in Depravity of Man and the Sovereignty of God but Are Still Right about Everything."

At Conference #2 these words will be banned from use unless used disparagingly or in a mocking tone: contextual, justice, equality, emerge (and variations), process, doubt, pluralism, LOST (the TV show), conversation/ dialogue/ discussion and Brian McLaren.

At conference #2, these words must be used by all speakers. If unused contract is rendered null and void: Primacy (at least 4X per talk), sovereign, penal substitution, discipline, Gospel (as defined by us/ and as a hammer), orthodox, lost (people), sin, preaching, elder.

At conference #1 all these word usages will be reversed."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Uh oh...

Brittany started a blog tonight. Its still a work in progress, but do yourself a favor and add it to your blogroll/blog feed/RSS feed/Google reader.

check it here: Eco Boutique

I love my wife.

Monday, April 12, 2010

As a follow-up...

I just finished Chuck Palahniuk's "Haunted" last week. There was something in one of the later chapters that jumped out at me. It reminded me of what I wrote last week--perhaps it explains a lot about some of the things I've said and written over the past few years:

"...consciousness raising is rooted in complaint. What so many people call a bitch session. In communist China, in the years after Mao's revolution, an important part of building a new culture was allowing people to complain about their past. At first, the more they complained, the worse the past would seem. But by venting, people could start to resolve the past. By bitching and bitching and bitching, they could exhaust the drama of their own horror stories. Grow bored. Only then could they accept a new story for their lives. Move forward."

I want to tell a better story.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Salsa, Redefined:

Do yourself a favor--go get a jar. Now. And tortilla chips.

Its salsa... redefined.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Labels

The blog posts aren't coming as regularly lately. I don't know why. I just don't feel like writing as much. Forgive me.

However, I've been tossing around this idea of writing about "Christian Humanism" for a few months. Here's the long and short of it:

When I was attending church in high school/college, I heard the phrase "secular humanism" a lot. (Granted, I attended a very fundamental, conservative Baptist church at the time.) Needless to say, the "secular humanists" were not looked upon in a positive light. Apparently, them and the Democrats were largely to blame for the state of our country. I didn't really know what "secular humanist" meant (much less know an actual "secular humanist") and didn't want to ask. I never really bothered looking into it for a while. When I did, I was surprised.

Humanism, in itself, isn't such a bad philosophical mindset. Sure, it finds itself at odds with organized religion most of the time, but I don't find that to be a major problem. The thought that we, as humans, should uphold reason, ethics, and justice should be foundational in all of our lives. But here's what it boils down to: a lot of (re: most) humanists reject organized religion. So Christians don't seem to pay it much attention. I, however, feel differently.

I think you can boil humanism's main view down to this: we are all to be the best humans we can be. We should live lives to our fullest potential and keep reason, ethics, and justice at the forefront of everything we do.

As someone who believes in libertarian free will, this idea merges perfectly in my head with the thoughts that are already there. I think God put us here with the ability to choose great good and great bad. (I wrote a post of the philosophical necessity of this a while back and about Process theology, you can read that here if you'd like.) God didn't make robots. God didn't lay everything out for us. We have to make a lot of decisions. And, unfortunately, people make a lot of bad decisions. But, if you were to merge the teachings of Jesus with the idea that we are here on this earth to live to our fullest potential, then I think you have some dynamite. For this reason, I don't mind calling myself a Christian Humanist.

That's it. I was going to write more, but I'm not. I want to keep it simple. I'm tired. Tired of fighting. Tired of having to explain myself. I've realized that I've attached lots of labels to myself. I've been trying to explain myself to people. I've been trying to deal with all the pain that "friends" and other Christians caused me. I wanted to write about labels I put on myself so I could explain things... hoping people would understand. Hoping people would see that there is reason and logic and faith and hope behind the changes that have happened in my life. Hoping people would see that it was okay and normal for me to be different from them. But here I am, three or three and a half years later, still trying to explain myself.

And I'm tired of it.

These labels, these boxes, just don't make sense anymore. They're not enough. I'm a Christian Humanist, but not really a Humanist. I believe Creationism has its merits but not without science and its thoughts, viewpoints, and discoveries. I'm an exclusivist with inclusivist leanings, so does that make me an inclusivist? I'm an annihilationist that doesn't believe Heaven or Hell (as physical locations) even exists yet. I believe in libertarian free will, think Calvinism is a joke, and Arminianism doesn't answer all the questions surrounding the matter of salvation. I think a literalist reading of the Bible is naive and a total metaphorical reading misses the point. I work for a church but have a lot of issues with the way institutional church does things. I am anti-war, anti-violence, and anti-militarism, but don't know if I could call myself a pacifist. I'm opposed to most Republican politics, but sure don't buy into enough of what the Democrats put out there to say I'm one of them. I'm a guitarist but really don't know enough about music to call myself a musician.

Life is complicated. We're complicated. Too complicated to put labels on ourselves all the time. The things I call myself, they are not who I am. I've tried to use them to describe myself, explain myself, hoping people would understand. But most of those people still don't understand because they haven't taken the time to get to know me.

ME.

For this reason, and more, I'm going to be more intentional about staying away from labels. They aren't helping me. And the people I was using them for, I honestly don't care about anymore.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A bright post for a Monday morning...

The older I get, the more I open my eyes, the more I see that the truths, values, progress and path of America are at odds with the way and teachings of Jesus.

People have forgotten. They don't remember what it means to "love your neighbor," much less "love your enemy." People would rather pursue the protection of our rights to own handguns than pursue peace in our neighborhoods. People would rather spend half the American budget on supporting the military, its bombs, its development of new weapons, and America's colonialization of half the world than on making sure that everyone, everywhere had access to clean water, food, and proper medications.

You can read the full story here that inspired this post. There was a video that accompanied it, but its been taken down.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Books

I love to read. A lot. I read as often and as much as possible. And it seems that over the past few months, I've been reading more than I normally do. To be honest, I set aside a lot of the nonfiction I normally read (theology, community development, externally focused church, understand poverty, etc.). That's not to say I haven't ready ANY nonfiction. I have read John Perkins' "Beyond Charity" and "When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself" by Steve Corbett and Briand Fikkert.

However, since Christmas, the rest of my reading has been some great fiction. Here's a breakdown on what I've been in to:


Cemetary Dance
-Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston

Tyrannosaur Canyon
-Douglas Preston

Death Match
Terminal Freeze
Deep Storm
-Lincoln Child

Pulp
Ham On Rye
-Charles Bukowski

Pygmy
Lullaby
Survivor
Haunted
-Chuck Palahniuk

Fool
A Dirty Job
Practical Demonkeeping
Bloodsucking Fiends
-Christopher Moore

All of these authors blow me away. But each writes with such different styles, diction, phrasing, descriptions, adjectives, flow, and approaches to telling a story well.

Preston and Child are great writers, but I've found their books to be best when they write together. The "Pendergast" trilogy is certainly their best work. They write murder/mystery novels that incorporate history, archeology, and just enough sci-fi to make it all work.

Christopher Moore and Charles Bukowski were both great finds. Moore came to me at the recommendation of Rob Bell (PS-I try to read everything he recommends as he's always right about good music and books) and Bukowski came to me at the recommendation of Isaac Brock. Moore writes satirical books with questionable humor and a fantastic wit (he falls into the "absurdist fiction" category). My favorite of his, thus far, has been "Lamb." At times, there are jokes that only a perverted 15 year old boy would get; but, in the end, he was writing good vampire stories way before they were cool. Bukowski uses as few words as possible and ends the story where you least expect it. Not only is his poetry great and somewhat depressing, but his novels feel real and gutsy--like he's putting himself out there without being emotional.

Chuck Palahniuk is a genius. Truly--he's a genius. He writes stories like none other. I've never read anything like him. I tell people that his sentences are written at "100 miles an hour." They blast at you. He uses repeated phrases in the most brilliant and effective ways. His plots leave you guessing all the way through. They sometimes end without any real resolution. He hooked me with "Fight Club," and though the movie was horrible, "Choke" was a great book as well. "Haunted" is the darkest story of his that I've read, and "Pygmy" the most difficult. I think that "Lullaby" is my favorite. You just can't communicate how great of a writer he is. He critiques American culture in a way that makes you hate who we've become yet still see the beauty in our lives. I can't wait to get my hands on "Diary" and "Snuff," then "Tell All" (when it comes out).

These words of these people... they run through me. They invade my heart and mind. They remind me of the tragedy and beauty and humor and love and hate within us all. The authors' words change me each time I read them. They use black and white letters to make words to make stories to make art. They do something so well, that it strongly affects me with each chapter I read through.

I love books. I love art. I love story.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sorry.

I've been busy. I know I promised two more specific posts. Those are coming soon. Swears.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My first post regarding NASCAR...

I used to be a big NASCAR fan. Every weekend I was with my dad growing up, we hurried out to the car after church and flipped on MRN radio. I, for some reason, loved Dale Earnhardt and hated Jeff Gordon. I followed Jeremy Mayfield and Rusty Wallace but never cared for Kyle Petty. I was, unashamedly, a big NASCAR fan.

As I've gotten older, I don't follow many professional sports. I'll occassionally watch some ESPN to keep up with my Fantasy Football league, but that's about it.

However, my dad remains an avid fan of the largest spectator sport in America. One of his friends, Adam Alexander, has worked for NASCAR radio for several years. He's also done some work on SPEED TV. Bowling Green residents may recognize him as the guy who used to be on Greenwood Ford commercials. My dad also says that he is a beast on the golf tee box.

But now, he's crossed over into the big time and landed a spot on network TV as the turn-by-turn announcer for TNT. You can read the article from US Today here.




I know that NASCAR isn't a topic that I normally cover--and I know that Adam probably won't ever read this. But I still thought it was pretty cool.

Adam Alexander--we salute you!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Adventures in the Scion

Brittany and I got a new car last month. Unfortunately, the Honda is leaking everything but gas and the transmission is on its last legs. Anyway, we like the Scion xD a lot. Its funky, has all the options we wanted, and gets great gas mileage. On top of all of that, it seems to be a magnet for interesting events.

Last Monday night, Brittany and I went with Rod and Ben to hear Desmond Tutu speak at Murray State University. We were having lots of fun until we got rear-ended leaving the parking lot. It didn't hurt the car much and, thankfully, the lady who hit us (when her "foot slipped off the break while texting," according the the police report) had good insurance. We all had sore backs/necks and I have a chiropractor working that stuff out.

So then Rod and I set out on a 3 day road trip. Halfway between Nashville and Memphis, we stopped and picked up a hitchhiker--"Ed the Hitchhiker." He was an interesting guy (as most hitchhikers are). We talked a lot. Got lunch together. Then decided to drop Ed back off after a couple of hours as he decided to keep adding tequila to his orange juice in the car. At this point, "Ed the Hitchhiker" became "Ed the Drunk Hitchhiker." After we woke him up and dropped him back off on the side of I-40, we noticed a strong pee smell in the car. This was probably due to the large pee stain in the back seat. So "Ed the Drunk Hitchhiker" became "Drunk Ed the Pants Peeing Hitchhiker."

A couple of bucks at the car wash took care of the stain and smell with the upholstery shampooer and vacuum. It provided lots of giggles all night long. I could never tell when/if he was being honest with us, but Rod determined he was definitely lying every time he said: "That's a true story."

There are times when laughing is the best thing to do.

There are times when I need to be reminded that my troubles aren't that bad compared to other's troubles locally and worldwide.

There are times when I need to remember that stuff is just stuff and people are far more important.

And there are times when you should go over some ground rules with people you pick up on the side of the road (ie, no peeing on the car seats).

Friday, February 26, 2010

And coming soon...

I have three upcoming posts in the works:

1-on the adventures of a Scion owner

2-on the books I've read recently

3-on why I like the term "Christian humanist"

Stay tuned.

PS-Sorry Sheffield. I know you hate teaser posts.

I'm okay with saying it...

I am utterly convinced that when I stand before God one day, I will not be held accountable for what I believed. I will be held accountable for what I did with my life.

This shift in thinking has changed everything about who I am. This is, at the core, the single biggest theological and philosophical shift in my life.

I just wanted to put that out there. I'm okay with saying it. (Its taken me a while.)

More thoughts on this to come.

Monday, February 22, 2010

it IS real!

The Undertaker proves that wrestling IS real. Jason Brown would be proud.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Free will...

I have long been a believer in libertarian free will. I think the notion of predestination is incompatible with the teachings of Jesus of the New Testament. I remember being a freshman at WKU and an older student told me she "used to believe in free will. But Dr. _______ told her she'd eventually come around to understand why our salvation is predestined by God. She said that happened over the course of a couple of years, and it would happen to me, too, as I matured."

That never happened. In fact, I'm much more opposed to any theological notions that deny free will now than I was then.

However, Chuck Palahniuk is changing my life. (I've been reading a lot lately. I mean, a lot. I'll probably do another post soon about all the fiction I've read in the past few weeks.) In his book "Lullaby," he does what he does in most his books: criticizes American culture.

Palahniuk is certainly one of my favorite writers. Every sentence moves at 100 miles per hour. They hit you like a sledgehammer. He'll introduce an idea or phrase early in a book or a chapter then bring it back later in a way that slaps you on the forehead. Every book shocks you. Every story line is incredible. The insight into the human brain is always eye-opening.

In "Lullaby," one of the reoccurring themes is how advertising and marketing affects us. We're not happy with what we have and who we are because we're told we're not happy with those things. We can't believe what we want because we're told to believe something else. We can't be who we want to be because we're told that who we are isn't good enough. We need to buy something. We need to change something. We need this. We need that.

And our economy fails.

And CEO's are still getting huge bonuses.

And anti-depressants are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in America.

And marriages fall apart.

And people don't maintain solid relationships.

And we go further into debt.

And still no one is happy.

Perhaps we don't have free will anymore. Perhaps our capitalist society has taken it away. Perhaps we are too willing to believe what we're told. Perhaps advertising companies and marketing gurus have foreordained the life of the typical American. Perhaps we can't choose anything on our own. Perhaps freedom is "just some people talking." (HT: The Eagles) Perhaps freedom doesn't really exist in this society.

Maybe the Amish are the only free people I know.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Oh boy, oh boy...

I cannot wait to see Pixar's "Toy Story 3." Watch the newest trailer. Its incredible. Then check out this article. The guys at Pixar are geniuses--they put so much thought into everything they do. I mean, the depth they put in a simple trailer is off the charts.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

She said it all...

The Daily News finally published my latest "letter to the editor." (Took them long enough.) You can read my letter here. But a lady commented on it on their website. I think her remarks said it all:

erma5673 wrote on Feb 11, 2010 2:15 PM:

" Mr. Herrin and his presumptions are much of the problem in this country that is run by people who think they are smarter and better than the average working adult. Mr. Herrin, I do not smoke or drink. I have not one single tattoo. I do not partake of any illegal drugs. I do not go to the movie theater or attend music concerts. My husband and I do not drive new cars nor live in an extravegant home. And, yet, health care is unattainable for us. Rising health care costs forced our employers to drop health coverage. Then, the double-edged sword of health care swung down on us as we were denied coverage due to pre-existing condition clauses. So, thank you for assuming that we have no health care coverage because we spend our money on things you deem frivilous rather than assuming that the health care system is BROKEN and in need of repair. "

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Light thinking for a Tuesday night...

I've been thinking about the word "evangelism" a lot.

I'm not sure what that means anymore. I've been trying to get past dualistic notions of "spiritual" vs "physical" and other garbage that doesn't have anything to do with the teachings of Jesus. But even when adhering to a holistic gospel, its difficult to define things like evangelism.

I believe I'm part of God's story. I don't think that ended with the canonization of the New Testament. Its perhaps one of the best things Rod has ever taught me--that our stories are just as important as those that were recorded in the Bible. The story hasn't stopped. The story is ongoing. And if I'm part of it, and I tell my story, is that evangelism?

I just don't think any of the definitions of evangelism I was taught growing up making any sense when I read the New Testament. I don't think I can condense the story of God into a tract, read it to someone, expect them to make some telepathic deal with God, and that make a difference. I just don't. I think that talking through the "Romans Road" with someone doesn't do any good but to convince them that you're out of touch with a postmodern society. I think it was probably one of the weirdest, most awkward things I've ever attempted to do in my life. It made no sense. And then I was made to feel guilty if I didn't "evangelize." Like that's what's gonna make the difference in the end of someone's life--whether or not I tried to convince them in an uncomfortable conversation to agree with my statement on belief and God.

I don't know. I think we have a lot of definitions all jacked up. I saw a video the other day where a well known pastor was trying to explain the term "missional." I think he missed it. He missed it by a mile. But a lot of people were talking about how it was such a great explanation.

Perhaps some people just want to co-opt buzzwords. Who knows? Maybe evangelicals will be calling themselves Emergent so as to be cool in ten years. Or perhaps I get too hung up on definitions. Maybe the living and being is more important than the explaining. Or maybe watching LOST tonight has got me thinking too much.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Puppy Up!

For those of you who know my wife and me, you know we aren't afraid to open our house up to travelers. No--not just randoms from the side of the road. But people we hear stories of, people we meet through CouchSurfing, friends of friends, etc.

In December of 2007, Luke Robinson and his dogs stayed with us. Luke is walking from Austin, TX to Boston, MA to raise awareness for canine cancer research. His journey is called "2 Dogs, 2000 Miles." You can find his website here and his blog here. Though Capo didn't like having large male dogs in "his" house, we liked having them around. Luke's a great guy (as well as a great cook) and we enjoyed their company.

My step-mom gave me a call this morning asking if I watched the Today Show on MSNBC. When I told her I hadn't, she said there was a guy on there who's walking across the country with his dogs. She wondered if it was the same guy--he had long hair and two big white dogs. Indeed it was the same guy! I was thrilled.

You can read more of the story and watch the video here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

LOST

The LOST season premiere is tonight. Am I pumped? Heck yes I am! Its the greatest show that's ever been on television. To enjoy it, you need to be dedicated and imaginative. Also, you should be good at dealing with frustration as there are never enough questions being answered.

I have it on good authority that if you are only going to watch one scene from any of the previous seasons, this is it:

Christopher Hitchens, Part 2

I posted an interview that Hitchens did a while back. He's a surly dude, but can typically do a good job in a debate. He has a popular book called "God is Not Great," if you've never heard of him.

The following is an article from the Portland Monthly. I think the interviewer does a poor job articulating anything concerning the Christian faith, but what I liked reading was Hitchens' responses.

Worth your time. Read here.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The truth is...

I can't stand listening to the radio. Most of the music sucks. I can't stand most of the contrived, unimaginative junk that's out there anymore. There's so little feeling and so much production. More emphasis on rhyming than on artistic integrity.

Point in case: Taylor Swift.

Can I get an "amen," Meece?

Listen, I don't have a great voice. I'm not a fantastic songwriter. Both my brother-in-laws (re: Tim and Collin) can run circles around me when it comes to playing guitar. I'll probably never land a major record deal. But I'm proud of the music I make. Its real. Its not something that a studio or a producer or a label makes. When the guys in eventhesky and I put a song together, its a little bit of us. People like the Jonas Brothers or Taylor Swift or Miley Cyrus or Nickelback or Ciara or Three Doors Down make me sick. These people are making millions of dollars in the music industry because of good studios, good managers, good marketing, and lots of digital auto-pitch correction.

Listen to whatever you want. I have strong opinions about music--I know. But what happened to music with soul? I don't expect everyone to love Death Cab for Cutie or Ryan Adams or Band of Horses or Lucero or Kristian Matsson or Bright Eyes or Neil Young or even the music I make. I just don't expect everyone to love the fake, over-produced, plastic pop out there.

All resentment aside: how in the world does Taylor Swift pull in a million dollars a week?!?!?!!? I mean... come on!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Did something happen to me?

You change. I change. We all change. In lots of ways. For lots of reasons.

I used to go crazy over anything that Apple made. iPod? Got one. Macbook w/ Intel processors? Got one. iPhone? Got my wife one. I got a tattoo instead.

But the iPad?

I just don't care. I thought I would. But I don't. Tim and I had a long discussion about things it should have for the price. Its still kinda cool. I'm sure lots of people will go buy one. I'm sure they'll love it. But I won't be buying one. Not because I want more tattoos. I mean, I do want more tattoos. And I'll get more. Not because I'm not getting an iPad. But because I like tattoos. A lot. But I won't get an iPad because I don't care about getting an iPad.

Does that mean I've changed?

Maybe.

The Windy City...

Brittany and I just spent the past few days in Chicago with Jordan and Tim. It was incredibly cold, but a lot of fun. We got to visit with Jessie and her boyfriend, Jorge. The Museum of Science and Industry was awesome, as was the Shedd Aquarium. We didn't even talk about going to the top of the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), so I wasn't laughed at and tortured by my wife and family. We did, however, eat at a lot of great places, including Frida's, a restaurant owned by Jorge's aunts (again, off the charts good--best guacamole I've ever eaten). We stayed at a boutique place called Hotel Felix (thanks to Priceline). It was what a hotel should be: clean and modern with good amenities and a helpful staff.

I think Brittany and I have decided to forego a big vacation this year. We are still gonna do some weekend trips like this weekend in Chicago. Brit always talks about going to England and Ireland, and I'm sure I'd love to go and complain about food. So we're shooting for the UK in 2011.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Reporters aren't journalists...

Reporters have the easy job. They aren't real journalists. Maybe that's why I found this video compilation of reporters getting pwned so funny.

Favorite moment? As classic as "Grape Stomp" is, I love when the lady hits the reporter with a purse and says: "Put that on the news!"

*Be warned! There are a couple of bad words.


Compilation of Reporters Getting Owned - Watch more Funny Videos

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Latest "Letter to the Editor":

Here's my most recent submission to the BG Daily News Op-Ed section. Brittany suggested lots of changes to the original text--which I made. My first draft was much more scathing and sarcastic; it emphasized the necessity of affordable health care for everyone and talked about how we can afford a public option health care plan if we can afford a trillion dollar war. But, to avoid any angry emails, I cut that stuff out and focused more on Mr. Herrin's apparent bigotry. Its nothing life-changing, but I thought I'd post it anyway since they haven't published it.

"I have a question for Mr. Larry R. Herrin. He wrote on Saturday, January 9th: "Maybe those who buy cigarettes, alcohol, tattoos, drugs, movies, music, concerts, new cars and unaffordable homes should first think about supplying their own health care."

My question is this: are you assuming that people who buy cigarettes, alcohol, tattoos, drugs, movies, music, concerts, new cars and unaffordable homes do so instead of saving those funds for health care? In other words, it makes it sound like you’re saying people could afford health care if they’d just stop wasting their money on other things. If you aren't saying that, then I apologize in advance. If you are saying that, then I must inform you of how grossly inaccurate hasty generalizations (like the one I feel like you made) can be.

I know plenty of people who work hard, yet find they have inadequate funds to make doctor visits when they, or their children, are sick. I feel like all people should be able to visit a doctor and get the necessary medications to deal with health concerns. I dare say you'd have a hard time explaining to a six year old that "mommy and daddy can't take you to the doctor because it's not constitutionally mandated." We all deserve to have quality health care available to us.

But in the end, your letter didn't prompt a response from me because of your feelings on the proposed health care reform. Your letter prompted a response from me because I feel like you're judging all under-resourced and poor people as having a standard of morality that doesn't match yours and a lack of knowledge when it comes to efficiently handling their finances. Please don't assume that all people who are under-resourced or poor are in such a financial state because they spend their money on things such as those listed above. Many people can’t afford proper health care simply because it’s too expensive.

I don't support a certain agenda, individual, or group; I do, however, support positive change and the fight against misinformation."

Monday, January 18, 2010

The new look...

So, to be honest, I'm quite fond of the new layout. I like the art. I like the colors. But, then again, you are the reader, so I want your input.

Thoughts on the new design?

(Oh, and I just figured out that this layout is made for a widescreen monitor. If you can't see the giant squid on the far right, then make your window bigger and check him out. I might need to see if I can compress the background art for a normal viewing ratio instead of widescreen format.)

More than a bank holiday...



I hope today you would take the time to acknowledge what Dr. King did with his life. He said some of the most amazing things. Fought (non-violently) for change. Raised his voice for the oppressed. Gave his life for what he believed.

We've come so far, but have so far to go. Racism is still so prevalent.

May we continue to carry on the dream and be the change that is so badly needed in our world.

Bleh...

I haven't blogged. I've admittedly been slacking. However, with my blog layout being all screwed up, its turned me off from even logging into my page.

So I'm going to overhaul the site. It may take a few days. I'll have to delete most everything except my posts. So bear with me. I'll have it fixed and a new look up soon. Promise.

Friday, January 8, 2010

I shouldn't have to apologize...

For anyone who cares: my blog isn't displaying properly. Its not something I did--I didn't take the links and such down. Then too, I checked the code and its all good. So I don't know what's wrong. Must be a Blogspot problem. Brittany tells me my blog layout is boring, so perhaps I'll change it all and hope it starts loading properly again.

On a side note: Verdi is the best place to eat in town. Consistently the best food. Hands down. Its also the most expensive. Go figure.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Spreading the word...

Matthew Paul Turner is quite a writer.

My wife very rarely reads any blog I recommend. Our interests when it comes to blog reading differ dramatically. So whenever Brittany actually enjoys someone's blog that I read, I know they're either one of two things: 1, an extremely good writer; or 2, an extremely good storyteller (meaning they use things like satire, humor and wit well). So the fact that she reads MPT's blog says a lot to me.

Anyway, he's got some stuff going on as of late. He'll be going to Uganda with World Vision beginning January 17th. Check out what he's up to:

Here's the standard blog link: Jesus Needs New PR

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Such is truth:

"We in the church cannot separate our Christianity from the hopelessness of the urban poor. If so, then something about the Gospel has failed us."

-John M. Perkins


Ever since I read this, I can't get it out of my head. Think about it...

(I keep writing things. Then deleting them. I have so much to say. But nothing says it well. So I won't add anything else.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

How did I miss this?

Terry told me about this video from the Daily Show that aired back in August. I don't know how I missed it. Its no secret that neither Jon Stewart nor I are fans of Glenn Beck. In fact, I rather enjoyed Media Matters' new article on naming him the "Misinformer of the Year." But my dislike of Beck isn't unfounded. I can't stand him for lots of reasons, but mainly because I feel like he doesn't really care about anything. Well, I take that back. I think he cares about making money. I think he cares about being a well known TV/radio personality. I think he cares about convincing people to believe what he has to say. I think he cares about doing a good of communicating what his bosses want him to communicate. I think he cares about his ratings. But I don't think he really cares about the issues he talks about so often on his show.

For instance:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Glenn Beck's Operation
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis


Glenn Beck is dangerous. Lots of people watch his show. Lots of people listen to what he has to say. Lots of people believe what he has to say. These people are lead to believe that what they are hearing is "fair and balanced" and that they can trust the viewpoints they're being pounded with by these news networks.

Glenn Beck gets people to believe what his bosses tell him to make people believe. That's as deep as his passions run. I don't know Mr Beck. I doubt I'll ever meet him. I don't see us being friends in the near future. He may be a nice guy. But, he might be the devil, too.