Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Praying for Puppies?

One balance I've often struggled with in prayer--especially group prayer--is taking everyone's issues seriously but not making prayer some kind of trite grocery list of suggestions to God. What do you do when someone says their dog needs prayer because it's going to get a shot? Or that their grandma got a bad watermelon at the store that she can't take back?

On the side of accommodating, and even encouraging, any and every request are a few things. One, I believe that God is intimately involved in the world and that there isn't anything that escapes his awareness. So on some level, anything that is a concern to someone is a concern to him. Second, I don't believe I have the right to judge the validity of someone else's experiences. So if someone says they are anxious, sad, or angry about something, my reaction shouldn't be to dismiss it as stupid. It may be something that wouldn't matter to me were I in their shoes, but apparently it does matter to them. Third, I believe that God answers prayer. Prayer is not just something God uses to shape us (though it can do that), he has invited us to shape his involvement in the world through prayer.

On the side of not wanting to accomodate seemingly trite prayers are a few other things. One, the Bible doesn't give us many examples of the kinds of prayer. Prayer in Scripture is rich and is far more about the things of the kingdom of God than it is about minor inconveniences or pains. Two, prayer requests like these tend to make group prayer time less meaningful and more routine. It's easy to make a list, check it twice, and talk out loud about it under the pretense of it being prayer. Sometimes it may be prayer, but I know that there are many times I've just prayed for someone's request without passion or desire because I thought I had to. Many times these requests seem to come out because someone really wants to say something, just give an update on their life and not know when else to do it, or spread some gossip. Third, this reinforces that Christianity is all about "me" and God giving me what I deserve. I don't have time to write about all the things that are wrong with that and how that thinking has neutered Christianity.

Something that motivated this is an article I came across by JoHannah Reardon on group prayer. Again, there's no hyperlink button on this computer, but if you're up for cutting and pasting it's at http://www.christianitytoday.com/smallgroups/articles/artofgroupprayer.html.

Your thoughts on the topic?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sufferin' Sucky-tash

It has come to my attention that as of late the brothers lee have not been taking their blog to the rack. They have not put the blog in the corner pocket, sicked the dogs on it, ruffled its feathers, given it a once over, rocked the blog house, eaten it for breakfast, owned it, showed the blog who its daddy is, taken the blog downtown to Chinatown, or held its feet to the fire.

Their blog has not been served, whooped, updated, run ragged, lam blasted, held accountable or judged with a severe judgment.

It has been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

I have been in touch with the brothers lee and their blog and they offer their sincere apologies. They have assured me that the blog will no longer be neglected, willy-nilly, haphazard, up in the air, out to lunch, gone fishin', or taking a smoke break.

I hope this gives you some solace, peace, hope, giggles, and hyperbolic exclamations as it has me.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Trash Talk

Something you may not know about me is that I like sports talk radio. I started listening in Denver during football season because I love football, but it hooked me. There are limits to my enjoyment since talk radio people have perfected the art of saying the same thing fifty times before moving on when there's not much to talk about, but overall I like it.

Yesterday I was listening to said talk radio and they were talking about the U.S. Open (golf). Apparently the course is really tough this year and so their topic was whether the golfers were competing against each other or against the course. What a stupid question! If they're playing the same course then they all have the same difficulties to overcome, so of course they're competing against each other.

This post has ended up being lame, but the question just annoyed me. It's my blog, I'll do what I want.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Strange New Land

Today I went into the bookstore at Huntington College (University) to see if the books were in since the class I'm teaching starts next week. While I was waiting for someone to talk to me I thought I'd take a quick look-see around the store to see what they had. Since I worked in the greatest bookstore in the world for almost three years (I'd like to send a shot out to all my former bookstore co-workers and homies) I'm interested in other bookstores, especially at Christian educational institutions.

I came to a bookcase that had the bestsellers listed. I want to preface what comes next by saying that I'm sure they took this list from some other place that lists the best selling Christian books, so I'm not hatin on them directly or anything...#1 on the shelf was something by Joyce Meyer. On the next shelf down, at #4 was Joel Olstien's book "Your Best Life Now."

Not wanting to launch into a judgmental (prophetic?) tirade, I will just say here that I think there are a nearly infinite number of books that would be more edifying for the followers of Christ than these. I hate that my alma mater is promoting them.

I'm not in the Denver Seminary bookstore anymore. Perhaps if I just close my eyes and recite the incantation, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no..."

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

B is my fave letter

Last night I was listening to Simon & Garfunkel while playing Settlers of Catan with Erika. As we were wrapping up the game, "My Little Town" was playing. I really love that song and it got me thinking...Is it possible to be nostalgic for a time when one wasn't yet alive?

When I was younger, I used to think I sure am glad that I was born when I was, because of the goings-on in the world of my youth (i.e. the Twins winning the pennant in '87 & '91 & Kirby Puckett was playing). Television was very widespread, etc. etc. Now I am older.

As I become more enthralled with film, theology, literature, music and philosophy, I also become more convinced of the amazing culture of the '60s and '70s. Check these stats.

-Music: On the mainstream scene, there were the likes of the Beetles, Simon & Garfunkel, the Mommas and Poppas, Leonard Cohen, Peter Paul and Mary, and many other incredible folk acts. On the non-mainstream, we had Nick Drake, Harry Nilsson (his performances, the music he wrote was pretty big) and a lot more that I don't know, because I wasn't alive.

-Film: These two decades saw some of the great works of Godard, Resnais, Ozu, Malle, Cassavetes, Brakhage, Bunuel Rohmer, and a whole host of other French New Wave greats. The good thing about film is that I can still enjoy, but I'm so far behind.

-Theology: This was the time for the likes of Moltmann, Pannenburg, Kitamori, Gutierrez, Cone, and many other people whose work is to this day being applied, but still remains insanely good and ground-breaking.

-Philosophy: Derrida, De Man, the climax of continental philosophy, latter Sartre, etc. Dang.

-Literature: Here we find the best work of Vonnegut, Burroughs, and probably a lot of other people I should have read by this point in life.

I understand that these examples represent only about 1% of culture in the '60s and '70s, but to some extent it seems that the cultural movements represented by these people point to at least a segment of the population and culture of the time. I also recognize the turbulence of the times politically. At this juncture, however, we once again have pretty turbulent political times.

I also recognize that it is easy to romanticize either the past or the future, especially for things we didn't personally experience. Having said these things, I am nostalgic for the '60s and '70s. When I am exposed to the cultural artifacts I expressed, it makes me long for a time I wasn't even around for. Plus, the Purple People Eaters were around in the '70s. It makes me wonder about the legitimacy of such pining. I'm sure those of you who were alive for these times can set me straight.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Deja Crap

Last night I had the misfortune of watching a movie called Deja Vu. It has Denzel in it and I've liked a number of other movies he's been in so I mistakenly thought to myself, "It must be all right Trevor, relax."

Some of my favorite crappiness from it...how they found a way to "bend" space (not saying that could never happen, read on) and that you couldn't send anyone back to the past, and they had never tried to send any object back, but they just happened to have the equipment laying around to do both...that when Denzel and the woman in the movie were trapped in a car underwater he kicked out the windshield and she escaped but then he insisted on trying the door, couldn't get it open, and drowned (perhaps the through the windshield method was beneath him)...he died but then mysteriously was still alive as the self that didn't know what was going on (don't ask)...his car was plowed by a semi but he remained unhurt and the car/jeep didn't appear to be affected at all.

Anyway, I don't think I would recommend it unless you like to watch crap.

The End.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nas & Nostradamus with NOS

As I go through life here, I am realizing that I am at least two months late in learning about close to everything. I enjoy music and the new happenings, but usually find out about great stuff long after. Here are a couple examples.

-Over the last year, I have been increasingly enamoured with Hip-Hop, especially the Stones Throw crowd. A couple months ago, they announced that they were releasing an album called Ruff Draft by J Dilla, who died last year. I was really excited because I thought Donuts and The Shining were the only solo albums we would ever have from him. I emailed Paco about this "exciting new album." He was glad for my excitement, but pointed out that Ruff Draft came out long, long ago and this was a re-release.

-The slow uptake is automatically built in to living in Denver, America with film. I usually miss great new films, because I watch trailers on international sites, and then forget about them until they have been on DVD for about a year. Anything "new" to me is at least a year old.

-I am also bad at knowing what new authors to read in fiction-land. There are billions out there and all but about 4 are terrible. I don't have much time to read what I want, so I don't want to read crapp-ies. I learned about McSweeney's about two months ago, a great gang that has been around for over ten years.

That was all to say that I am continuing my inability to be on the cutting edge. Yesterday Shalom David told me Greg Boyd has a blog. I was so excited, so I went there (gregboyd.blogspot.com) and realized this had been going on since September of last year.

Greg talked about some stuff concerning memorial day that I was thinking through a lot on Monday. How do I approach Memorial Day when I am entirely against war and am not truly a part of any kingdoms of the world, while at the same time, I greatly respect people who literally put aside themselves and their lives for a cause? If my beliefs about world systems cause me to disrespect persons, I am missing the message of God, just as those who uphold pragmatism above the call of the Kingdom are missing the message. I think the problem lies in the fact that many persons think that if I don't support the government they gave their life to, I do not support them. This is seen in those who think that those opposed to the war in Iraq do not support the troops. Logically, this is a false dichotomy. Yet emotionally, it holds fast.

I especially run into this personal conflict at the Seminary when there are people in the military that go to the Seminary. On the one hand, I love the people in the military. On the other hand, as followers of Jesus, I feel that my brethren and sistren in Christ who are in the military are so drastically missing the message of the Gospel. Back to the first hand, there is a need for Chaplains. I do not think we should abandon the people in the military to themselves, just as I would not others to abandon me to myself. Back to the other hand again, if we take the call of Jesus seriously, how can we be effective Chaplains, because being a chaplain necessitates support for the cause and nation and all that. Otherwise, you will alienate yourself and drag morale.

These are the issues I struggle with very personally. I draw a comparison to how Dr. Sanders used to teach us that sometimes people need a pastor, not a theologian. I.e. Somebody's brother dies and you say, God has a reason for this. Sometimes I wonder if this is the same, but it's not. What I am talking about is intensely ethical and cuts to the heart of the Gospel. It is not some theoretical theology. The Kingdom of God is the very basis of our life and breath as followers of Christ. In that Kingdom, there is no room for violence, only love. This love is so subversive and insane that we would sooner be murdered in brutality than bring a hand against the object of our love. And the object of our love is every living human being. There is no place for dual citizenship. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God or kingdoms of the world. The Kingdom of Love and Peace is breaking into this world because of the love of Christ in us and through us. If we ever believe that a human is our enemy to be treated with violence, we sacrifice the presence of the Kingdom of God and make a mockery of the cross.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Freebad, where Bad is Free

As we get a late start to the week, I thought we could take some time to reflect on some bad reflections. Because in the race against time, there is only time to race. This weekend I watched the Fountain again. I really enjoy Aronofski, somtimes in spite of myself, but I tend to think that he has as unique a voice as is possible in the current state of filmmaking. So here's why you should watch the Fountain.

1. In some ways it conforms to somewhat specific tenets of story-telling, but in a more general sense, it defies story-telling convention. This is done in perhaps not a completely unique way (i.e. comparisons to Three Times, Science of Sleep, etc.), but it does defy the conventions of what American studios offer. Because this is the context in which Aronofsky was working, I am glad to see the funding of slightly better filmmaking in America. This is also probably why he had such a hard time keeping funding and had to restart a couple times.

2. There is almost no CG in the film. The first time I saw this, I did not know this. I knew Aronofsky had an aversion to CG, but I figured for all the sweet effects and background he had sold out. He had a budget and was making a sci-fi film. Why not use CG? I'll tell you why. Because your movie will be artistic instead of lame. But how, you ask, did we make the surreal space backgrounds. Micro-photography. All those amazing pals are chemical reactions on a microscopic level. How interesting, Aronofsky tells us to think, that microscopic reactions can believably be used as space-scapes. The universe on the head of a pin, and all that crap. Sheesh.

3. As you may know, I watch more tv and movies than I should. You may also know that I watch more American things than I should. Often, Erika gets sick of me saying when I watch such things, "We got it. You didn't have to feed it to us. Let us live in ambiguity for a second. If we don't understand immediately, we will survive. Maybe we will even have to think." There is no room for the need to reflect on what you have seen in American movies. They spoon-feed everything to you with fillers in between just to make sure you never get lost. This is why if a film is remotely mysterious, we think it is the enigma of the universe. Case in point, The Da Vinci Code. Before I saw it, countless people told me it is super-hard to follow if you haven't read the book? Really? Because what I saw was a mildly entertaining detective movie that left me wondering for about three seconds before resolving everything according to the rules of every other detective movie ever made. Back to the point, The Fountain lets you sit in ambiguity for awhile. In many ways, it reminded me of 2001, but this comparison may be too easy because of the space stuff and the last man nd birth from death and all that. Regardless, when I first saw 2001 as a youngster, I really enjoyed how it let me think. It let me draw conclusions. It didn't force itself onto my brain. The same is true of the Fountain.

Why do I post this here? Because most of you hate my movie tastes. You think that I'm lame and arrogant because I think film should be a medium for art far above and beyond a medium for entertainment. Well now we can have both. We can meet in the middle at the Fountain. That's why I want you to see it. Unless you are a stone, it will touch you in your heart-bones, but not with cheesy, over-the-top love stuff. It is beautiful in its subtleties. Does it make Aronofsky the greatest living director? By no means. To say so would be preposterous. But it is nice to see American directors who are able to navigate the mainstream studio garbage and produce stepping stones to true film-art for American audiences such as Jim Jarmusch or some Stanley Kubrick. Nevermind that the Fountain got a limited release and mostly only played in art-house theaters. So go see it. We can talk about it. We can draw different conclusions on its message and ending. It'll be nice. It'll show us how people see things differently. It will make us recognize the soundness of Jarmusch saying that his movies don't mean anything until people see them and that he doesn't control what his movies mean. Hurray Derrida.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Some Comedy

You may have seen these videos produced by a youth group. Flashbacks to Mystery Science Theatre.

Friday, May 25, 2007


I'm supposed to put a dislike now, but I'm not in the mood, so I'll quickly say I don't like working on my thesis. This should not come as a shock. There.

This morning at Caribou, there was a guy who is a fifth generation carpenter. That is sweet. I want to get into woodworking once I graduate. Problems: I don't have a place to do that. I don't have the tools to do that. I don't have the knowledge to do that. I don't have decent health insurance, so if I cut off my finger, we'll be out a few thousand dollars.

So I guess I won't be crafting beautiful furniture any time soon. But maybe I will someday. I think this desire may be genetic, because my father is a master woodworking craftsman. Plus, I'm really into Anabaptism, which includes simple living. The close relatives of Anabaptists are Amish, and we all know the Amish are incredible at making stuff out of wood. So I guess I'm destined to work on wood.

Personal update: I'm playing bass at Herman's Hideaway in Denver with my friend Josh Saturday night. I'm getting paid for this, which is something I was unable to accomplish in 9 years of bass playing. So that'll be nice. If you're around, come on out. The show starts at 8:30.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

David Ray Griffith's Legacy

Yesterday morning, Erika asked me where the Color of Water was. I retrieved if for her because in her defense, my library system is somewhat ridiculous. The reason she needed it was that all the teachers in her school were getting their picture taken with their favorite book. This got me thinking...what is my favorite book?

First, I think the prospect of selecting one book is preposterous (a sentiment I know Erika shares). There is too much out there. Therefore, in the very least, I have to break it down into categories.

-Without a sense of history, I can tell you that my favorite book is The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem. I know this is kind of an obvious Lethem pick, but I don't care. For Lethem, I thought Motherless Brooklyn was somewhat weak. Amnesia Moon was a good time, but I've never been a monstrous fan of science fiction, even though I recognize the value of the headier sci-fi authors. But I am consistent. The Sirens of Titan is one of my least favorite Vonnegut books. Which means that when amazing authors write sci-fi, it is always one of my least favorite works. You Don't Love Me Yet was really fun, but not as brilliant. I do love As She Climbed Across the Table a great deal. So I guess Fortress of Solitude wins for the "write-what-you-know" aspect.

-With a sense of history, I guess I would say either the Plague by Camus or The Idiot by Dostoesvsky. I love existentialism very much, especially fiction. I really enjoyed Crime and Punishment, so I guess I brought those positive feelings to the Idiot. As what seems to me to be the absolute contrast to Crime and Punishment, I thought these two went well together. And the Plague cuts into the heart of humanity in an excellent manner.

-Memoir - A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. Again, the obvious choice, but this beats out the rest because elsewhere Eggers has proven himself to be a literary master in all genres, not just memoirs. This is why I like him better than Sedaris or Burroughs, although I still like them very much also.

-Film - It's gotta be Movie Wars by Jonathan Rosenbaum. This book was extremely formational for me as I was in the beginning stages of taking film seriously. Plus Rosenbaum is a film prophet for our time. This pick is reinforced by his excellent film scholarship and reviews all over the web.

-Theology - Dang, but there are probably two for what they did for current theology. The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder. There are other works by Yoder on more specific aspects of peace-making that I may like more, but the Politics of Jesus has the widest audience and seems to have done the most to influence current theologians that grasp the nature of the Kingdom of God. Also, Christus Victor by Gustaf Aulen. Again, this is for what it did for modern discussions on the atonement. Everybody I love owes their theology to Aulen. Although, I guess Aulen owes his theology to Early Church theology. So I guess I'd like to take a moment to thank the Early Church Fathers and Mothers for reading Ephesians and Revelation in the context of the work of Christ. Also Process Theology by John Cobb and David Ray Griffith gets honorable mention for clearing up many of the misconceptions I held about Process Theology.

-Biblical Studies - This is a toughy because my heart has mostly checked out on biblical studies, at least as an academic discipline. So I haven't been reading much outside of thesis work. For that, Men and Women in the Fourth Gospel by Colleen Conway definitely takes first prize. Outside thesis work, there are a couple. Voices from the Margin by Sugirtharajah is a perennial favorite for a few reasons. The writings are excellent and profound. Perhaps more importantly, I think (maybe it's just the circles I'm in) it has made the task of post-colonial biblical studies more widespread. If you've talked with me about biblical studies, you will know that I think the heart and future of Biblical studies lie in two places. Post-colonial and socio-rhetorical criticism. This leads to the second mention. I guess Roman Wives, Roman Widows by Bruce Winter is my pick for this because it combines the insight of socio-rhetorical criticism with women's liberation in current and ancient understandings.

-Philosophy - Metaphysics were always my favorite subject in college and they still are. I don't much care for apologetics, epistemology, aesthetics, ethics, etc. Not that these aren't important (well, except maybe for ethics and apologetics), but I don't like them very much. So, even though a textbook is a lame pick, I will go with Time and Space by Barry Dainton. This was very enlightening for me. I didn't retain a lot from college, but I did retain most of what I learned from Time and Space, although this is probably because I returned to it.

So those are my picks. There are lots of other categories, but I don't think I'm that interested in them, so there. I guess if you gave me the classic Desert Island question, I would go with one of the books out of NT Wright's Christian Origins and the Question of God Series, because a desert island is probably the only context in which I would read every word of one of those, and that would be good for me.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

It's a Must

Trevor will be relieved to know that now...only one month after our epic journey, I am posting the barely legible notes from the Denver-Aurora-Huntington Voyage. While we would like to think that the primary purpose of this sharing is for the enjoyment of all viewers, it is far more likely that this will serve as an online reminder to the two of us of a heavenly host of inside jokes.

-We forgot to get directions to the hotel Trevor got on Priceline, or the Priceline confirmation number. Therefore, there are phone numbers and email info scribbled all over the notes. We called Mikkin to get the info, but it wasn't on the email. We called Erika later and she checked every email account Trevor or Michelle has ever had, and there was no info. We called Priceline but you have to have your confirmation number to talk to customer service, which is what we trying to find. In the end, we think the order was cancelled because Trevor and Michelle closed their bank account...even though they left enough in the account to pay for the hotel. But it worked our for the best because it was so rainy that we had to stop before Des Moines anyway. This leads to

-This was the windiest trip in the history of trips (including sea voyages and the boat trip in the Perfect Storm). At one point the doors of the truck almost blew off when we opened them. This also caused our truck to average 52 mph the first day.

-At one stop, we went to Taco Bell in the gas station to get lunch. When we walked in, it was empty and all the employees were sitting around the restaurant. We walked up to the counter and they looked really confused concerning what we were doing there and what possible intentions we could have. They ambled behind the counter and took our order. We continued to be the only people in the restaurant while we waited for them to prepare our meal. When it was ready, we were standing right at the counter waiting for it and the lady still yelled, "Order 158," and looked around the restaurant before handing us our meal.

-I was slouching a lot in the passenger seat, and the seatbelt attached really high, so most of the time, the seatbelt was going from my airpit to my neck and the top and across the top of my belly at the bottom. Trevor thought that was hilarious.

-We stopped at a place called "Fat Dogs"

-We made up a number of stories together that may be considered inappropriate, but the title of one of them was "The Mystic Moustache"

-We saw Jeffers St.

-Trip Theme: Passing up good exits to get farther and not having any exits after that.

-Quote of the Trip: "It's sad when you can't see the seatbelt." - Ryan

-We played tons of Settlers of Catan, but I unfortunately did not write down the final scores. I think the first night was 2-1 Ryan, second night - 1-1, and last night 1-0 Trevor, but I'm not sure.

So that is the rundown on the trip of a lifetime. We probably should have taken more notes, becuase much more hilarious stuff happened.

Monday, May 21, 2007

You Will Buyyyy Me A Terry-Cloth Robe

It's Monday morning and I'm giving myself 15 minutes of stall-time before I start up thesis work again. Blech. So last week I was trying to finish a chapter, which is why there was no bloggery, only 1 comment. Unfortunately I failed my task, but I'm hoping that the next two days will afford me the necessary time to finish that chapter. In the meantime, we are currently missing two likes and one hate. Consider this an extravaganza. I guess I'll go one hate and then two loves, so that we can all have a nice pick-me-up for the beginning of the week.

I hate Colfax events all summer in Denver. This includes events such as the Colfax Marathon, the Denver marathon, cinco de mayo, the gay pride parade, etc. Before you accuse me of hating runners, people from Mexico (this is not meant to be an all-encompassing term for Latino people, rather Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday), and gay people, let me clarify. If you're not familiar with Denver, Colfax runs from Kansas to Utah, so it is relatively infinite. Another name for it could be 15th street, because it is at 1500 North. The church we attend is on 16th street, or 1600 north. We, however, live in south Denver. This means that we have to figure out a way to cross Colfax. Every event all summer long takes place on Sunday mornings all along colfax. The only way to get past colfax is to take I-25. However, there is no good exit to get to church from 25. If you take auraria, it is too close to colfax, so there's insane traffic. If you take 17th, it takes you to Mile High at Invesco, which is sweet, but not helpful for getting to church. So you have to take 23rd, then go northeast to 17th street and go all through downtown where the stoplights are terribly timed. Ultimately, this turns a 10-15 minute trip into a 30-40 minute trip. In addition, we typically don't think to find out if such events are taking place, so we end up driving up Broadway until traffic is completely stopped at about 12th. When this happens, we usually give up and go to church at night. The ultimate reason I hate all of this is that it makes us late for church. Personally, I don't really care about that. Judge me if you want, but I don't really connect very well with singing worship. I dig liturgy and that usually comes after the word. But Erika loves singing worship time. And as you might expect, if Erika's grumpy, I get grumpy. I know this all makes me sound like a whiny Christian. Do I want events to cease? Absolutely not. It is really fun to see various cultures gather downtown and celebrate their commonality (from running to ethnicity to sexual orientation), so I certainly do not object to these things. My problem is with the city of Denver. They should build a sweet car-bridge over Colfax at various points in the city. Perhaps at every other road downtown. Or even better, there should be a car crane, where you pull onto a platform and a crane picks you up and drops you on the other side of the street. That would be outstanding.

The two things I love this week are similar but different. Both are related to coolness. Specifically, what is hip and urban these days. The first is social awareness. At least in Denver, it is becoming extremely chic to be conscious of human and global concerns. This is evident in the increasing amount of coffee shops advertising the earth-friendly, fair-trade coffee they sell. It's hip to go to the farmer's market and support local farmers instead of produce conglomerates. Even Wal-Mart is going green, which is a hilariously bad ploy to improve their image, but that's another topic. Insanely high gas prices are making people much more conscious of the amount of gas they use. I see people everywhere on bikes. A lot of the people at my church ride bikes or scooters, and the people at my church are insanely hip and urban. I don't fit in at all. It's become cool to help people. That is outstanding.

The other hip thing that I love is the evangelical embrace (in certain circles) of the Christus Victor model of the atonement. As some of you know, I have a very hard time with all other models of the atonement because of the hypocrisy of a Kingdom of Peace and Non-Violence being brought about by an act of violence that was willed by God. This discussion is infinitely beyond the bounds of any online discussion. For our purposes here, let me just say that within this framework, the Christus Victor model is both biblical and incredibly good. Especially the narrative Christus Victor (read Denny Weaver). Amidst all of this, it seems that the Christus Victor is back in style. Among evangelicals, it has not enjoyed much endorsement thanks to a combination of its adoption by Liberation Theology and a misunderstanding of it which fundamentally married it to the Ransom theory. Since evangelicals seem to not like liberationists or ransom, it was typically rejected. But now that some evangelicals realize how sweet non-violent liberationists are and that christus victor can stand free from ransom, it is back and better than ever. Case in point, Greg Boyd has championed the cause of the furtherance of Christus Victor, preaching on it at Rob Bell's church, writing books on it, naming his organization after it because it is the foundation for liberation and social activism. Also, according to David, at his Anglican church there was preaching on it yesterday, and this coming Sunday there will be preaching on it at my church. It is the hip deal as well it should be. I believe David is writing something on it, so check out his bloggery. Please enjoy Christus Victor, because it is an amazing example of God working out good from the actions of evil free humans. What beauty is found in Christ's destruction of sin and death. For now, this is outstanding.

I hope you enjoyed the marathon. You probably don't like my notions on the atonement. They are multi-faceted and require extended explanation, because particular understandings of the penal substitutionary theory are deeply ingrained for many people. Just so you can breathe easier, I do believe in penal substitution, but the manner in which it took place and the definition of various aspects of it vary from orthodox notions. But that's another day and another dollar. And I have to get to work.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

How to Respond?

I'm interested in some input on something. On my other blog, Infuse, my friend Cory did a post called "Reimagining Evangelism" and then someone left a comment I had some serious problems with. I tried to respond without personally attacking and it went two more comments from there.

So here's my question--How do we respond in situations like this? Situations where there is a disagreement between two believers. If you take the time to look at the comments how would you have responded? I'm not really interested in taking one side or another. Maybe a better question is how would you have responded to me if you took the other guy's position. I'm just trying to think through how these things could be beneficial instead of combative and patronizing.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Blessed be the Tie

It's Friday, so that means it's time for some mish-mash-applesauce. But before I get into things, let me begin by saying that the book Choosing Against War by John D. Roth is really excellent. It's from a small publisher run by a Mennonite couple called Good Books. They have all these amazing peace-making resources that are brief and extremely accessible. Choosing Against War is not so brief, but it is very accessible for everyone. It contains both excellent stories of peace-making and outstanding exposition of what it means to be a peacemaker and why all Christians should be. Plus it's only 10 smackers list price. So check out goodbooks.com, because they can use your support and they are sweet.

On the other end of Lake Snow-tip, I really hate it when companies use the same song forever in their advertisements (or adverts for our British friends). I know, this is two weeks in a row in the media. I will branch out like a green tree viper patiently waiting for prey sometime, but for now, my belly is full and I need to just coil up in a tree (sorry about the snake metaphor Trevor). The most dastardly offenders here are Pizza Hut and KFC (who are part of the same company...coincidence?). Pizza Hut uses some Smashmouth song, a band whom I could write an entire hate entry about. I don't hate the members of Smashmouth, but their music is the target of my deepest negative feelings. Why does anybody like them? They're terrible. They're worse than terrible. All of their famous songs are covers. They make a traveshamockery of music. Meanwhile, people really like them.

Then, like the slightly more handsome but worse-behaved younger brother, KFC, has been using a remix of Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd for about 36 years in their ads. If there's one band I hate more than Smashmouth, it's Lynyrd Skynyrd. I hate Southern Rock and L.S. is both the father to many bad bands and the worst offender. I think I like Neil Young mostly because of his feud with L.S. The only thing worse than a terrible piece of garbage song is a worse remix of said garbage.

I'm pretty sure there is a lot of music out there, last time I checked anyway, which means that either the marketing people at the Pizza Hut/KFC/Taco Bell conglomerate are beyond lazy, or these musical crimes actually work with the target market. I shudder to think of the latter as truth.

Coming in a close third is Subaru who uses some Cheryl Crow song. And here we have the unholy trinity of musical styles I hate. What a bad idea. Perhaps the only thing that could be worse than these three is Outback Steakhouse's recent assault on Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games by Of Montreal. I don't know if it's worse to use a currently terrible song until eternity, or to poorly rewrite the lyrics of an excellent song by a fairly unknown band so that it looks like you wrote great music but don't know how to write decent lyrics (i.e. "Life will still be there tomorrow" or "Every day is Mother's Day"). I guess God will be the judge.

Bringing redemption to the terrible world of marketing music are UPS (who has recently used the Postal Service), Cesar dog food (using the Magnetic Fields), Target (using Badly Drawn Boy), and the University of Phoenix (not just using the New Pornographers, but using one of my favorite songs by them). So thank you for bringing us a refreshing drink of life-giving water in the midst of our desert dehydration and exhaustion. Had you not come along, we surely would have died with sand in our eyes and despair in our hearts.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


A couple nights ago at my parents' house I noticed something I hadn't noticed in the 12 years that I lived there. I happened to glance at the dishwasher, which had been there since the house was built, and the brand was "Lady Kenmore." That made me laugh. I don't think anyone would get away with a brand like that today. So I was thinking of some other brandnames that could be equally stereotypical.

Caucasian Saltines "The Cracker cracker"
Whitey Bread (great with mayo)
Rich Boy Tennis Rackets and Golf Clubs

This isn't turning out to be too funny or interesting so I'll quit now.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Semper Reforandum

Really quick, I'm reading some reformation commentators on the Samaritan woman at the well (fyi, the reformation is when exegetes switched from thinking she was an amazing portrait of conversion and mission to thinking she was the town whore who was too silly and sarcastic to understand anything). Here's my favorite quote so far on her going to preach to her town...

"(The Samaritans) did not believe through the word of the apostles, who were chosen by Christ and sent to preach the Gospel, but through the word of a woman, a person of the inferior sex, and a private citizen not called to the ministry of the word."

Hilarious. He (Musculus) concludes that once in a while he can be okay with a lay person, "even a woman" being somewhat useful in the kingdom of Christ, but only with "acquaintances and friends."

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Maturity Incarnate

I was working in the only coffee shop in Huntington today, sitting in the corner, not because I was being bad but I find it interesting to watch people as the enter and leave, especially in a small town. Near the end of my time there a man walked in, probably in his late twenties or early thirties. After he had ordered his coffee he turned around and I read his shirt. It was in the style of Abercrombie and Fitch and it said "Grababootie and Pinch." I can't even fathom what happened in his mind to make him think that buying and wearing that shirt was a good idea. First one to wear that all day at Den Sem gets $5 from the Trevster.


I'm at work, so it is a good time to do some posting. I'm currently looking at the 2007 Trade Catalog for InterVarsity Press. It has the usual hodge-podge random action that I don't know what to do with. There are some sweet babies springing forth into the autumn mist for all humanity to pass on to their children and their children's children, and there are some sick, withered dogs who should be put out of their misery, but because IVP is evangelical, they don't believe in euthanasia even for dogs, so they put them on life support and distribute them.

On the sweet end, Ben Witherington is continuing his insane pursuit to write a legitimate scholarly commentary on every book of the New Testament with Letters and Homilies for Jewish Christians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Hebrews, James and Jude. Because I believe Socio-Rhetorical criticism is the rightful heir to the Biblical Studies throne that will usher in a glorious new age of understanding for all. Another volume I anticipate with margarine is the McGrath's The Dawkins Delusion. Here's the thing...I'm not a hater on Dawkins or any other atheists, but I thought that The God Delusion had some very weak sections, especially the atheist apologetics section. There are far better arguments than what Dawkins offers. Overall I thought The God Delusion was a decent systematic atheology. I just hope that the McGraths assess fairly and kindly.

On the goofy end, there are a few stink-bombs. First, Timothy Paul Jones who received an Ed.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (mecca for everyone I disagree with) and is currently senior pastor of a baptist church, wrote a book called Misquoting Truth, which is an assessment of Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus. Here we need a few disclaimers. 1 - I just chatted with Dr. Blomberg and he read the manuscript for this was excellent, so I'm probably wrong. 2 - I really like Bart Ehrman a lot along with a lot of the people looking at early Christian literature. I really have a hard time with a lot of Baptist things (I'm trying to sound nice here, because we're all part of the body), and I have a huge problem with Southern Baptist Seminary (Bruce Ware works there, enough said). Therefore, I have two biases that keep me from thinking this book will be any good. So those 2 things being said, what kind of credentials are a doctorate in education and being a pastor for responding to one of the leading early christian literature scholars today? That's what I want to know. Other potential lame-o is Church, State and Public Justice: Five Views edited by P.C. Kemeny. Ideally, this is not a bad book to publish. It's good to talk about this and think through this issue from various perspectives. Here's the lame part...there are all the perspectives you would expect (Catholic, Baptist, Pluralist, Mainline Protestant Perspectives), and then they have anabaptist as one of the perspectives...Ron Sider. Why Ron Sider? Yes, he has anabaptist tendencies, but it seems like he is giving up on them in some of his ideas on government involvement for solutions to poverty in his most recent book, Just Generosity. Why not get a real anabaptist? I'm sure Thomas Finger, Denny Weaver or Arnold Snyder have time to crank out a chapter on anabaptist views on kingdoms. But alas, no such luck. At least they tried.

There's the IVP update. Hopefully we'll get the Orbis or WJK catalog soon and I can drool waterfalls of literary desire.

Monday, May 7, 2007


For this first in a series of things I love, I must allow my personal studies to smash with my personal life (I know, weird, right?) I am still working on the Samaritan Woman at the well. I can't fully go into it here, but one of the main problems for feminist interpretation is the way she is portrayed as sexually immoral. The main problem for evangelicals/traditionalists is how she is portrayed as an effective missionary, fulfilling the various tenets of being a true disciples/apostle. The result is that many feminists reject this story as androcentric because of the underlying patriarchal bias that displays God as faithful husband and Israel as unfaithful wife. In turn, many traditionalists undermine her witness and apostolic virtue because of her questionable past. This truly is a sticky wicket, and until now I have had a hard time knowing how to navigate it. Then today, I read Sandra Schneiders.

She wrote a book in the early 80's called The Revelatory Text (the early 80's were the best time for Johannine studies. Also of note are Staley's The Print's First Kiss and Robert Alter's The Art of Biblical Narrative). In her conclusion on what to do with this tension, she says, "There is an intrinsic tension between the total inclusivity of this world as ideal and the lingering sexism in the idolatry/adultery prophetic metaphor, which carries a God/male/faithful versus human/female/faithless domination and subordination dynamic, at least potentially. They are not two worlds set side by side. And the disciple-reader cannot exit from one to enter the other. We inhabit a complex situation that is “already” and “not yet.”

After this, here is her conclusion, "The feminist reader is not called to overlook the “flaw” in this passage, much less to appropriate it into her or his self-image as a Christian or to legitimate its effects in family, society, or Church. She or he is called to struggle for the transformation of this world into the world of discipleship that the text, imperfectly but nevertheless really, projects."

I love it so much. It combines so many things that I believe are right...the messy tension of inaugurated eschatology, the genuine Anabaptist vision of the Kingdom of God (not the separatist mis-application that people like to point at to delegitimize the beauty of it), liberationism, etc.

I hope that I took you with me enough here to understand the significance of this. If not I am sorry. That is my greatest weakness. That is not meant as some sort of arrogance. I do not necessarily expect you to track with me on something I have been researching for two months and set up in two paragraphs. Anyway, this is my love of the week. Actually two...Johannine scholarship in the early 80's and Sandra Schneiders as a significant part of that.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Sweet Gary Indiana

As you may have noticed, I have failed miserably at the question of the week, but I take refuge under the umbrella of Trevor's question of the century. That gives me 100 years to slack off. So in an attempt to reclaim a weekly Brad, I will be providing one thing per week that I really dislike or hate. However, in an effort to achieve balance and harmony in the universe, I will also share something I love (yes I mean hate and love in the completely meaningless modern sense...stay tuned for the notes from our trip for further examples). The love will come early week as a pick-you-up. The hate will come later (like today) as a downer that can be easily relieved by the advancing weekend. This means that this week there is only hatred...

I hate things with people dancing in them. Some dancing things are okay. When the dancing is legitimate and people who enjoy real dance can take it in, that's great. Also, when dancing is hilarious, that is great. For examples, movies like Center Stage that Erika as a dancer really enjoys fulfills the former. The Nextel commercial with the guys dancing in their office fulfills the latter. These are the only instances that are okay. And I do not enjoy the former, but I recognize the value of its presence on earth for those who enjoy serious dance.

Now that that's out of the way...I hate crappy dancing in things so much. Here are some examples of the most heinous offenders. The silhouette dancers on mortgage ads on websites, any commercial for a woman's product with women dancing (slim-fast, play-tex bras, and things like that), EVERY Nancy Meyers movie, Dancing with the Stars, So you Think You Can Dance, any other tv show or movie with dance in the title (note this does not include Breakin').

These are only the worst offenders. There are plenty more out there. I think that maybe my problem with most of these is that they undermine dance as an art-form. But it is probably more that they annoy me so bad. I feel like I am unable to put into words my contempt here. Also, on comedies, when there is dance, I think it typically displays a lack of creativity on behalf of the writers. There are exceptions to this, but rarely.

Some who have known me since anytime in my life will note that I dance for a variety of personal exaltations. I can't know where to stand on this. It is a nice outlet for my positive feelings, and it seems that many derive enjoyment from such displays, and to an extent I enjoy consequential ethics, but it also betrays my underlying desire to keep dumb things out of the world. Who knows.

PS- You are welcome to share one source of irritation with us as I just have. This is an open dang forum. Speaking of dang, my band name is Dang Nation now.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Wet Truck

I am not the offical bearer of the tales of the road trip. That title and position belongs to one Ryan Lee. However, because I participated in the trek from Denver to Aurora (IL) I feel entitled to make some comments until the true sage of roadtrip revelry decides to post.

The theme of our trip was rain and diesel. With a title like that I'm assuming a movie is forthcoming. I learned that rain is wet and soaks your clothes and that diesel is smelly and stays on your hands even when you wash them. It is not fun to drive in driving rain and it takes a lot of diesel to drive a moving truck. Raindrops kept falling on my head and diesel allowed us to keep on truckin.

I was disappointed that we did not have a CB radio to make trite conversation with truckers. However, we were given the insider trucker signal of flashing taillights to indicate thanks for letting them in a few times which made me feel like the illegitimate child of the trucking world. I was a child, but one who wasn't really wanted.

Well, if you couldn't tell yet, I'm really just passing time until Ryan posts. His entry will provide more detail and fun than mine.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tusen Tuck (I have no idea how to spell that)

Everyday I have to drive to Littleton to drop off Lydia and go to the seminary for work and to a coffee shop* for my thesis. This means that I see SUVs galore. Billions of SUVs. The only people who don't drive SUVs are some people who appear to be my age and high schoolers. I hate SUVs so bad. Times a hundred. So bad X a hundred = more than most things. I especially hate the giant long ones. Chevy Suburbans are probably my number one. Arg.

In the midst of all these houses on wheels, it got me thinking, we should only be allowed to have reasonable cars. That then led me to think, we are allowed to get these "cars" because of freedom. This then led to thinking about the free will God gives us. He is really nice and trusting, because SUVs show that when we are allowed to make a free choice, we almost always botch it up. We make the worst decisions. With the array of vehicles out there we pick giant beasts that destroy the environment and give us an invicibility complex (in case you're wondering, yes I am speaking metaphorically now, but also literally). We could be responsible, but we waste our money and the earth's resources to have an ugly piece of garbage larger than the first space shuttles. So thousand thanks to God for free will, because I'm pretty sure you knew we would abuse it and make stupid self-destructive decisions. That is not meant to be sarcastic. I'm saying God is amazing to love and trust us so much for the possibility of us making good decisions, even though he "knows" we won't.

This also made me think of a classic I keep coming back to. I get super-judgmental of SUV-owners and think, I'm glad I don't use all the gas they use. But then, my car does still use gas. And, not often, but sometimes I drive at higher rpms to get better acceleration, which is a major gas-burner. This points to the bigger issue of me constantly comparing myself to other people. Like with my thesis, I have slacked off too much, but I have a friend who has slacked off more, so I feel alright about it. But I have another friend who was dedicated and is graduating on time. Then I feel not alright about myself. This is sort of a silly example, but I do this with all kinds of stuff. I feel a burden to help the marginalized in my city, so I do a little to help. But I feel good about it when I compare myself to a bunch of my friends who don't do anything. But then I feel bad when I compare myself to my friends who do way more than me. So I think my canon should be Jesus, but then I get to feel bad 100% of the time. I guess that's why grace is so excellent. And I guess this means I just need to buy a trailer for my bike so Lydia can ride in there and I can start biking again. There's a good american solution...buy something to fix the problem.

*Side note - While I was typing this, I accidentally typed coffee ship. That would be awesome. Not a boat, because we already have those. But a coffee space ship. You could fly up and hang out with coffee and other people who like coffee. Bring along a few books to read. My favorite coffee shop days are rainy, but maybe I would like space days better. I don't know, actually I would probably take rain over space.

Time to Bed Down

Because Trevor is leaving in less than a week, we are trying to hang out as much as humanly possible. The factors that effect this include but are not limited to, Trevor has to pack, our children, our wives, our jobs (well, my job. Trevor doesn't have to work to get paid anymore), my thesis, sleep, both of us being sick.

Regardless, last night we managed to squeeze about 1.5 hours in. In this time, we got in two games of the Settlers of Catan. Here I do not mean to gloat. Rather, I think it is very important to make the results known for the sake of information sharing. Having said that...

I Dominated Catan. Catan was settled twice by me. The first game was a pretty straightforward, methodical destruction of Trevor's hopes and dreams of being able to lay down roots for the generations to come in Catan. Instead, they will have to work as hired hands under the reign of Count Ryan. Fortunately for them, I still believe in the Kingdom of God's current presence on earth, so I will serve them as their master. That's how it works. So really, I guess it's better for Trevor's descendants than mine. But mine will find themselves becoming more whole as they submit themselves to Trevor's offspring. And all of this does not negate the land I dominated. I will keep that. But I will be happy to let Trevor and his family travel along my longest road.

The second game was quite different. On every six, Trevor got a brick and a wood, i.e. a road. Needless to say, I did not even attempt the longest road. Plus, he got the road building d. card. As much as it hurt my soul, I was set up to buy many D. card, 5 out of 6 of which were soldiers. This made me uncomfortable, but I decided that as the leader of the soldiers, I could train them to convince the thief to leave by serving him and talking to him in a loving manner, leading him to the recognition that Trevor's part of Catan was a better place for him to live. In this way, I had the largest army, but we were the first non-violent army in Catan. In the midst of Trevor's crazy road building, I lay in wait like a tree viper, keeping perfectly still for three days in order to lay waste to an unsuspecting otter. And Trevor the Otter was laid waste. However, I snuck up and only won by one point.

All in all, a good time was had and everyone is welcome to come visit Catan whenever they like. Since I own most of it, you can stay wherever you like. I recommend sheep-land, because it reminds me of New Zealand, which is a nice place. The only down side is, you'll have to get your own transportation to the island, because I do not have the Seafarers expansion pack.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

Yesterday, one of the greatest literary minds of our time died. I don't know what I can say that would possibly give appropriate tribute to Kurt Vonnegut. That is why this post is largely fragmented thoughts in no particular order (I think Vonnegut would have liked it that way). I am glad that he was able to enjoy some of the recognition he deserved in his lifetime, an experience many of the greatest authors do not get to have. Perhaps it is wishful thinking, but I think that we grasp only a fraction of the power and influence Vonnegut will have that will trickle down through the generations. As part of a literary movement that redeemed the 20th century, Vonnegut's voice was truly unique. Even though we will miss him, he's probably in heaven right now, finally getting the answers he needed his whole life to the savagery of war and life on this planet that gave him what he needed to become a genius. And once he gets those answers, I'm sure he'll give God a hard time about the platypus. It is amazing that he lived as long as he did, given his insane amount of smoking. For this reason, I believe God sustained him to continue writing. 84 years are a lot for a man with his habits and suicidal depression. In his honor, I have made an exception to my rule of the blog image being unrelated to the content. Please share your favorite work of his and why.

Mine is Player Piano. Chuck Palahniuk has said that no author's first work is worth reading (a rule he is also the exception to). Vonnegut slides past such a maxim with ease and grace. Player Piano sets the foundation of themes that Vonnegut returned to his whole life. Yet he was never sedentary or redundant. He did break his own rule of writing (no suspense), but he can hardly be blamed with the resultant Player Piano.

I seriously will miss you, Kurt. But you live on in our hearts, and your works make you an immortal voice in our world. Thank you, and God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut.

Strawberry Jam

Lately I've been praying a little more, which is by no means bragging. I'm talking about praying once a day instead of once a week. I really suck at prayer, which is sad because my theology makes prayer insanely important. Regardless, this has led to a few thoughts on prayer that I will now share.

1. It is hard to pray when you're really into theology. I find myself all the time when I'm praying thinking things like, "wait, I just prayed for something that I don't believe God would do" or things like that. Half the time I find myself analyzing anything I am going to say to make sure it lines up with what I believe about God. I think this is something I am going to try to stop doing. I don't want to pray in ignorance, but I also want my praying to be more natural. This leads to the next thought.

2. I have been taking Lydia to the people who take care of her during the day (our pals Angie and Chris, Big Up Yourselves). I hear it's good to talk to babies, so I often carry on conversations with Lydia in the car. I realized the other day that the feeling I have while I am talking to Lydia is the same as when I am talking to God...namely that I am carrying on a conversation with myself because I am talking to a being that can't respond to me. Let me be clear, I DO NOT believe that this is how it actually is with God. Instead, this is how it feels. These are the only two relationships in my life where I do not hear any audible response from the person I am talking to. I think that's why prayer is so hard for me. I'm not very ethereal.

3. A few weeks ago we were praying (Erika, Lydia and I) and many times I feel like I systematically think through what I need to thank God for and what I need to ask Him for and all that (the asking part is about other people, I'm not sure how I feel about praying for ourselves, at least about certain things, see number 1) and then I wrap it up and call it a night. Erika was praying and at the time she was feeling overwhelmed by life and feeling some ground-level aspects of depression. As she was asking God for help with this she started weeping. Then I started crying because I thought, here is God's daughter crying desperately before Him for comfort while I emotionlessly go through my list of stuff to talk to God about. I want to be more like Erika, laying bare my heart and soul before the God who loves me more than I know. I had this amazing image of God telling Erika that his heart was broken for her.

Those are my thoughts. Read it and weep.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What a Weird Forest

Approximately one month ago, I read a book entitled God's Rivals by Gerals McDermott. This was a great time, because in many ways McDermott eloquently and researchfully (yeah I made it up...do something about it) explained what I think I have believed for a long time about other religions. In brief, he argues that there is truth in other religions, but it is only a part of the whole truth that we find in Christ. While the subtitle (Why has God allowed other religions?) betrays his Calvinism, the content of the book is extremely worthwhile.

All of that is to say that I have been thinking more about the presence of some truth in other religions over the last month. Consequently, I wonder if sometimes our poor interpretation of truth in Christianity leads to other religions having contributions to Christianity from time to time. In the midst of all this thinking, I am doing research on the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Let me paint a little picture for you.

In the average Jewish mind, probably because of the success of the Macabbean Revolt and the subsequent "Pax Romana," the Messiah had come to take on an extremely political bent. The pharisees (who represented the masses) typically hoped for a Messiah who would come overthrow Rome and take over the world in a glorious age for the Israelites. This did not characterize all pharisees, as there was about as much diversity of belief as there currently is among evangelicals. However, this was popular opinion.

In the average Samaritan mind, there was a very different Messianic expectation. Please remember that to most Jews, Samaritans were worse than normal Gentiles because they were half-breeds worshipping a perverted version of Yahweh conflated with other regional from Northern Assyria. The Samaritans only accepted the Pentateuch as Scripture, so here is their expectation. The Samaritans expected a Messiah called Taheb. Taheb was not a political Messiah, but a teacher. This is why the Samaritan woman says "I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will proclaim (or explain) all things to us." In addition, their expectation was that Taheb would be like Moses, leading them to redemption.

Which version of Messiah sounds more like Jesus? Yet this is not meant to throw Judaism out the window. The author of John has Jesus saying (probably not authentic), "salvation is from the Jews." So Israel is still great and chosen here, but they got their Messianic hopes wrong. Therefore, the Samaritans had a picture of Messiah that was closer to the truth, even the truth still came through God's chosen people, the Jews.

Now fast forward approximately 1910 years (from the writing of John, not from Jesus' encounter with the woman), and what does this tell us? Perhaps we have sweet things to learn from other religions. This is not to say that other religions contain more truth. Instead, when people from other cultures (including religions) approach similar things to Christianity, perhaps we can learn from their perspective on it. For example, research has shown that the meditation practices of some buddhist monks make them more compassionate and empathetic than people from any other religion (I don't know how you research this...Giles believes the researchers went and punched each other and they calculated how many tears the poll participants shed). That research may be bunk and ridiculous, but they notion of meditation that leads to greater compassion for the Other is something we should learn from. There are probably a lot more examples, but I need to get back to work. Thus...in summary...Don't just talk, listen.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Good Friday

Below is something I posted on my blog last year on Good Friday. This has become a very meaningful day for me each year. This weekend is the most important in the Christian calendar and truly engaging Christ's death makes me more ready to truly engage his resurrection.

Today is Good Friday.

For those who followed Jesus, their hopes died with him. And as we enter into this day and experience it again, our hopes die with him today. There is no true salvation. The kingdom of God will not come. We have invested our hearts with him and he is gone. There is nothing to live for and no hope in death either. There is only despair, hurt, anguish, and pain. Everything we have believed and hoped for is dead.

Today is Good Friday.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


This morning I responded to Isaiah's incessant calls for Mama by going in and getting him up. He didn't seem too disappointed it was me. I took him up out his crib and we walked by the window. I noticed through the crack in the curtains that it looked like it had snowed. I pulled to curtain back and Isaiah exlaimed, "NO!" (It's not that he doesn't like the snow, he just hasn't mastered the "s" sound yet so that's how he says snow. I probably should have written "now" but then you'd think I meant "now" which isn't what I mean.)

When I got out to my car I discovered that despite little snow on the streets I had about 4-6 inches on my car. A big March snow is kind of a tradition here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Lately I have been thinking a lot about how any of our notions of God must inherently be ignorant to some extent, because God is so much greater than us. The result of this is that I think we should be very full of grace in theological exploration and be extremely hesitant to use words such as heresy. Obviously, there are avenues of revelation that give us a foundation to make propositions about God. I'm not advocating absolute ineffability. In the midst of these thoughts, I am doing thesis research, and I came across this polar opposite quote from none other than John Calvin...

"We are not to essay anything in religion rashly or unthinkingly. For unless there is knowledge present, it is not God that we worship but a spectre or ghost. Hence all so-called good intentions are struck by this thunderbolt, which tells us that men can do nothing but err when they are guided by their own opinion without the Word or command of God." -From Calvin's Commentary on the Gospel of John.

This is Calvin's explanation of Jesus telling the Samaritan woman at the well that the Samaritans worship in ignorance. I don't really have time to go into all the details of why Calvin is very misguided in my estimation, but suffice it to say that once again he fails to interpret the Bible with any notion of the infinite grace of God. P.S. If you're in the market for a commentary on John, do not get Leon Morris' commentary in the NICNT series.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Poor Timing

I don't understand the sequence of neural firings in some people's brains. Today I walked into the bathroom at Starbucks and had to wait as someone was already positioned in front of the urinal can. (For the record it was not one of those small Starbucks bathrooms you're supposed to lock, that would have been awkward.) I leaned nonchalantly against the wall, practicing the virtue of patience in the face of discomfort. Then the dude in front of me did something totally whack.

I heard him flush the toilet and so I prepared to assume my rightful place, but he continued to stand there in the relief position for at least ten more seconds. Could it be possible that he had flushed before finishing? My fears were realized when I finally made my approach(after he left) and found the water to be a color that water is not, unless it contains additives (by that I mean yellow).

Why in the heck would he do that? What is the point of flushing if you're planning on adding more to the pot? Did he just get bored and think watching the swirling water retreat would pass the time? I believe this man may have a disease--one I will call premature flushulation. I believe his brain tells him that it is time to flush before that time has actually arrived. There is no cure for this disease, but there is help. If you or someone you know struggles with premature flushulation, please contact Ryan Lee for a free kit on helping you cope.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Show Ruiners

I hate freakin' commercials. Last night was the most insane display of a proliferation of commercials I've ever seen in a single TV show. Michelle and I are finally caught up on Lost so we turned it on to see the most recent episode. I think there were six commercial breaks in a one hour show (that's not exaggerating, there were at least 5, but I think it was 6). At one point there was only five minutes of the show between breaks and the longest stretch was ten minutes.

So now I'm going to start taping it because it made me not even like the show that much. How I wish I had DVR.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Kickin It

The last couple days I've been thinking about how much I'll miss the weather of Colorado when we move to mosquito infested Illinois. It's been absolutely amazing here the last couple days and my experience tells me it is most of the time here.

The thing that made me realize the depth of my loss was the chance to sit outside with my brother for about an hour on two consecutive days. We just sat together, talked, and enjoyed both the company and the weather.

I know this is a sappy one, but I really will miss it!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Time for Thads

Just in time for the weekend, it's question of the week time. I saw this lady on the Colbert Report the other day from China who does lots of economics stuff. She said that they have cities that manufacture particular items in China. I had heard of this before, but I always thought it was the made up fantasy of some awesome kid. What is not awesome is when people do not receive decent wages for working in these factories, but that is a discussion for another day. The question at hand is...

What city would you want to live in?

I think I would probably go for pogo-stick city or Heelys city. Heelys are the shoes with wheels in the heels. This would be the two most amazing cities in the world. Everybody would pogo or heel their way wherever they are going. What sweet glory these would be. They would have heel-through or bounce-through windows at fast food restaurants. In fact, I think they should be like the twin cities in Minnesota, so there's lots of pogoing and heeling back and forth. And maybe it could be like the Jets and Sharks in West Side Story, but with bouncing up and down and wheeling around. The possibilities are endless. Oh man. Now I'm really bummed that I don't live in either of these cities. I need to go find some tissues.

Ugly Coffee

I like coffee. You might even say I love it--in a watered down American cultural sense of love. It hugs my tastebuds and puts a hop in my step.

What I don't like is nasty coffee. The kind that makes me wish I was drinking V-8. You know the kind I'm talking about. Coffee that sits in a plastic bin on the grocery store shelf, pre-ground, for a good two weeks before you buy it. The kind they serve up in Sunday School classes. You choke this coffee down because you want to be drinking coffee, but your tastebuds pay for hours with the fugly aftertaste.

I found another such coffee today. I know many will disdain me for saying this, but I think Panera's coffee is nasty/ugly/fugly. I have had two cups of it this morning. I didn't like it at first, but I thought my buds just had to adjust. Certainly Panera's coffee has to be good. But now, two hours later, the stench in my mouth has only grown worse.

And what stinks most is they have free internet so I like to be here!

Waaaaah (That's Me Crying)

Last night I went with Oz to see Armor for Sleep, Underoath and Taking Back Sunday. First, let me say that this show was super-duper. Underoath brought the thunder from above and Taking Back Sunday kept the fury alive. But allow me to get to my point here.

WARNING: These are nostalgic complaints that may remind you of old men griping about the good old days...

The kids these days have absolutely no musical etiquette or respect. If you are unaware, Taking Back Sunday is really hip with the teenagers. This was an all ages show, so Eric and I were mostly ten years older than everybody there. Here is my list of grievances...

1. Cell phones. When I was in high school, when you looked out at the crowd, you would see the glow of a bunch of lighters in the air swaying back and forth. Now you see the glow of a thousand cell phones taking pictures that turn out terrible, or the glow of cell phones of people text-messaging their friends. You (or your parents...more likely your parents, thus the problem) shelled out 30 bucks to see these bands live and you are spending the whole time text-messaging, an activity you could do sitting on the couch, which costs nothing. One guy in front of me spent the whole concert trying to get pictures and text-messaging. I'm not sure he paid attention to anything the whole time. Ridiculous.

2. Crowd Quality. Last night I was a part of easily the lamest crowd of any concert I have ever been to. The cheering lasted approximately one second after each song. When I saw Keane, the crowd didn't stop cheering until the next song started THE WHOLE SHOW. When Keane left the stage, my hearing got messed up from the insanity of people cheering the whole five minutes it took for them to come back out for the encore. Last night, the cheering stopped by the time TBS got off the stage. About 30 people at the front started a pathetic TBS chant that lasted about 25 seconds. This was at the same venue as Keane, so it can't be crowd size. I felt bad for the band. Their lead singer came out after about one minute because I think he knew that's the best we would give him. What a lazy audience. Silly.

3. No Respect for the Rock. This is similar to the last one. Some of Oz's students were at the show and they left before TBS even finished their pre-encore set. They were wandering around the whole time. They went and bought stuff at the merch table while Underoath was playing, and it was underoath stuff. You go to a show to see the band. Figure out another time to buy stuff. These guys were not unique either. People were wandering around not paying attention the whole time. The whole side wall was full of people sitting around the whole time. Save yourself 30 bucks and sit in your room with the bands cranked way up. It's the same experience if you're going to just sit around. Here is the worst part. A whole bunch of the crowd left before TBS was even finished with their first set. Not only this, but they left during the most gut-busting, face-melting, mind-blowing explosion of rock in I'll Let You Live. Unbelievable.

I guess this is what I get for still liking metal/screamo. I want to go see Brand New on the 30th, but it'll probably be the same story. I guess I should stick to folk and canadian rock shows. The crowds there are super, but they're my age. Kids these days. It makes me worry about what shambles the scene will be in by the time Lydia is a teenager. Perhaps I will feel better after the RJD2/Pigeon John show next month (that's right RJD2 and Pigeon John, it's gonna be off the chain).

Thursday, March 8, 2007

(Not) Trash Talking

I feel like I have been slacking as Ryan has out-blogged me by about 4 to 1 in recent days. This has come as a surprise since he blogged about once every six months when he had his own blog. I think it's because he wants to show that he is cooler and awesomer than me.

The reality is that I talked him into playing "who can hit the softest" when we were younger and I'll never forget it. I got to hit him and he thought it was bueno because he won by hitting softer. Maybe that's because he's a pacifist. But I'm the one who used a pacifier.

What's the point of this you might ask. It sounds like you're picking on your brother. But that's where you would fall into the old trap of thinking one person is picking on another because they bring up the manipulations of their past. And that, my friend, is the oldest fallacy in the book.

Bocce Ball

I subscribe to the NPR podcast "This I believe," because most of the time there is some pretty great nuggetry. I just listened to the one from this week, and it was monumentally outstanding. Read the transcript here. It will blow your mind with honesty, intelligence and profundity.

I will also tell you that I needed this today. Yesterday I went to a "peacemaking" presentation at lunch-time that the DMIN office put on at the seminary. The guy presenting turned out to be a hyper-fundamentalist wanting to Reclaim America for Christ. We're talking straight-up christian imperialism. We got free pizza and it was totally not worth it. It was totally a fear-based fight for your rights as christians message. So thank you NPR, for making me feel better today.

Also, I have sucked at the question of the week, I know. But I thought we could ride out the question of the century for awhile.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Beebop & Rocksteady

I'm about to make a potentially completely illegitimate claim. Are you ready?


Here is the insanity descending upon us all on one fabulous tuesday...

-Neon Bible by the Arcade Fire - I have only listened to the iTunes preview, but it seems that like hope in James, it does not disappoint.

-Pocket Symphony by Air - I can't believe how much I love Air. Plus this includes a track with Charlotte Gainsbourg on vocals. What an amazing gift.

-No, Not Me, Never by the Photo Atlas - I know what you're thinking...this has been out for a year. But this is the Stolen Transmission release, which means sweet new artwork and presence on iTunes new release zone, which may perhaps equal more listeners for this incredibly deserving Denver band.

-From the Plantation to the Penitentiary by Wynton Marsalis - New Wynton Marsalis release...I need not explain.

-Four Winds EP by Bright Eyes - Once again, Bright Eyes blows us away with a release that has a pop feel. What? Yeah I said it.

-Don't Quit Your Day Job by Consequence - Here's Consequence's much-anticipated full-length follow-up to Take 'Em to the Cleaners and this time, we have the great Kane West producing and making appearances. D-Dang.

There might be some other stuff I am foolishly unaware of, but I think 6 releases that on their own would make it a good Music Release Tuesday combine forces to easily take the title of best Music Release Tuesday of the year. So that's a challenge to the remaining Tuesdays in 2007. Beat this Tuesday. I dare you. Ya heard.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Robot Dogs 4 Tomorrow!

Yesterday around noon, I was eating some lunch, and I turned on the old tv. I was flipping around in limbo because there is no NFL, and the AFL was on. If you are unaware, the AFL is the Arena Football League, the NFL's illegitimate nephew. Yesterday's match-up was Kansas City vs. Chicago. Apparently KC won the title last year, something I was entirely unaware of. As I was watching it, I was conflicted. Why do I dislike the AFL so much? They do lots of cool stuff, like nets on the sides of the uprights, so you can catch a missed extra point and run it back for a TD. Also, it's sweet to smash people into the wall and stuff. I guess I don't like it, because I want it to be the NFL and it is not.

So I was wondering if it was lame for me to watch the AFL and enjoy it, and then the best kind of product placement kicked in. I realized one of the commentators of the game was Ron "Jaws" Jaworski. I freakin' love Jaws. The times when he is on PTI are the greatest gems of the show. When he talks about football, I listen. So when I realized the AFL was something he could get behind and support, I felt great about watching it. I know that he probably only did it because he gets a bunch of money, but I don't care. With Jaws on my side, I will proudly begin loving the AFL more and more each week. Go Colorado uhhhh...I don't know what Colorado's mascot is. I only started getting into the AFL yesterday. Give me a break. Also, I don't yet know if I'm supposed to hate KC the way we do here for the Chiefs in the NFL, but I'm good with hating the title holders...even though the beat Chicago by about 200 yesterday. I guess they're pretty good.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

O Yonder Purple Star

Michelle and I were ordering some takeout tonight--from the On The Border (our nearest imitation Mexican restaurant), and I noticed a fancy little purple star next to some of the items on the menu. "What in the heavens could this signify?" I wondered out loud in my head.

I scrolled to the bottom of the menu and there was they key to answer my question. I found out that they purple star means that an item is a "border favorite."

I've seen things like this on many menus, something to identify house specialties, but I have no idea what value these are. Near as I can tell a "border favorite" is the most expensive thing in a certain part of the menu. I guess it's the owner's favorite because it makes her or him more money.

I was not seduced by the purple star.

Get Lost!

I am usually pretty skeptical of TV dramas. Not that there aren't some I enjoy, but it seems that over time one of two things happens--1) The same plot plays out week after week (e.g. CSI, Law and Order) 2) The story starts out awesome and then slows to a crawl so they can fit in more seasons (Prison Break).

When Lost first came out I remember people talking about how great it was, but I figured it would just be another disappointment so Michelle and I never took the time to watch it. I'm not really sure how it happened but a few weeks ago we decided to check out the first season of Lost on DVD. Now, a few weeks and many late nights later we've finished season two. Needless to say we love it!!

I really do think this is the best TV drama I've ever watched. I recommend you get Lost with us if you haven't already.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

You're Welcome

Here's this week's action from Tim and Eric Awesome Show. I have to say this was probably the weakest episode thus far, but it's still like comparing two amazing sandwiches (meatball and philly cheesesteak, for instance) as opposed to comparing an amazing sandwich (perhaps the Big Abe) with a plate of applesauce.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Nice Change

One of the pastors at Southern Gables went to a recent celebration at DU. I don't remember exactly what it was for, but it was put on by the Vietnamese Student Club (I'm sure that's not exactly the name of it). One of the things he relayed they did there really seemed incredible to me.

At one point they played and sang the Untied States' national anthem. Then they played and sang the Vietnamese national anthem. After that they had a moment of silence. Our pastor was told that the moment of silence was to remember and show respect to everyone who died in the Vietnam War.

This seemed like a response that could be affirmed by Christians. No matter our views on war we can all agree that it's horrible (yes, I stole that from Donald Miller, but at least I admitted it). Anyway, I just thought that was great and that I'd share it.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Domination Station

Last night we had some pals over to watch the Oscars. As per the custom, we had an Oscars contest and here are the results.

We guessed 12 different categories:
T4. Beth Osberg - 2
T4. Erica Morrow - 2
T3. Eric Osberg - 3
T3. David Morrow - 3
2. Erika Lee - 6
1. Ryan Lee - 8

LEE'S DESTROY! You know it's hard-core because I hate all caps and exclamation marks. David accused me of cheating, but there's no way. Oz was watching me as I entered everyone's guesses including mine. And with Lydia's crying, David kept track of the last half of the winners, so he saw that my answers were in.

The only prize in this contest was my ability to go on here and tell the world that I completely ruled the contest. I had more than double the points of anyone else (except Erika).

This post may seem arrogant, but I have to cling to what few victories I amass in this life. So here's to me.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Question of the Century

Since Ryan has been introducing new features on the blog, I thought I'd join in and introduce one myself. I am calling it "Question of the Century" (read in your head with lots of reverb).

Here's how it works--every one hundred years I will ask a question and you will answer it--either with a comment or in your head. I hope this makes sense, I know it's difficult.

This century's question is--What is your favorite candle scent? Why?

I know that's two questions, but cut me some slack, it's once a century.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Hip-Hop is on Life Support

I was just flipping through the channels and the little info pad at the bottom on CNN said "The State of Hip Hop," so I stopped because I love me some hip-hop. As I'm sure you know, I only like certain types of hip-hop, the likes of which are almost never on the radio (except Nas, Kanye, Ghostface, Common, Outkast).

Regardless, they had a DJ from HOT 107.9 in the ATL, which is THE hip-hop station for the whole world. This guy used to have a giant show, but he was very disillusioned with the example hip-hop was setting for the youth, especially those without a father in their home. He became a Christian and started a ministry called The Spirit of Hip-Hop. Apparently this show is blowing up, but the sweetest thing (you will see this in the blurb) is that they not only try to redeem hip-hop, but they are also an active presence in the community, providing meals and doing other sweet action.

I'm not trying to be judgmental jeff, but a lot of times, it seems like celebrities compromise their influence when they become Christians by reducing the gospel to personal salvation. But with the Spirit of Hip-Hop, they have some good dang theology. In the interview, the lady asked if he tries to change the people he works with. He said, "I can't change people and that's not my job. That's God's work." He also hasn't established this "us vs. them" mentality that seems to infiltrate celebrity ministries. It seems to be kind and loving enough that HOT 107.9 advertises them and works with them. Anyway, I was super-impressed and you should be too...for the kids.

Friday, February 23, 2007


As we speak, my pal (police athletic league) Shalom David is studying for comps. Naturally, this means that he started a blog to figure out some way to have short distractions from the peeing-into-the-Atlantic-to-raise-the-water-level task that is studying for comps. So please go check it out.

Also, you will see this link along the side these days. What do we have if we don't have each other in this life, right? It's the dogpound.