Thursday, February 21, 2008

I've converted.

I've seen the light and now have a personal relationship with Mac.

This was shamelessly stolen from my favorite webcomic (sorry Jonathan) Penny Arcade .

mac conversion

EDIT*** OK, the sizing is a bit off. I'm new to this Mac thing. :)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Is this the end, or the beginning?

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, "Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?" Jesus said, "You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. Whe night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light . I am the world's Light."

John 9:1-5
The Message

Just got back from San Francisco yesterday. First a shout out to Blank Frank (his blog is listed on the right of the page, the "Ex-con" one.). Frank by the time I got to Turk I was too stinkin' tired to walk to Taylor. Next time I walk 4 1/2 miles in SF I'm not gonna wear boots. I yelled your name at Turk and Hyde.

I went with some friends to visit a community that calls itself ReImagine. They are essentially a church without a building, a group of people that have chosen to live in close proximity to one another in an intentional (as in specifically chosen and willed) community and try to live in the way of Jesus. They meet on a weekly basis for a hospitality night, share a meal, and discuss their faith and journey together.

Two noteworthy things happened while we were there. Mark Scandrette, the founder (along with his wife) of the community, made us awesome whole-wheat banana and chocolate crepes for breakfast.
Photobucket Photobucket

Secondly, we went on a prayer walk starting in The Mission District, through The Castro, and ending in The Tenderloin. It was suggested that you periodically stop and reflect on what you'd seen. In some of the areas it was really easy to see darkness, to see the brokenness of the world. We saw addiction (drugs, sex, consumerism), mental illness, apathy, economic disparity and injustice. It would not take much work to see some of the situations as hopeless.

Two things you were to consider were how God was already present and working in the situation and to view everyone, even those that are so easy to judge as the maker of their circumstance, as worthy of God's love and our love. At the end each participant (except Joshua, who is a lazy bum) wrote a poem based on their experience. Such as it is, find mine below.

Cherry blossoms and concertina wire
Buddhist temples in Lutheran castles
Freedom from fear and t-shirt rainbows
Open Bible locked on Fridays
This is not the end
This is only the beginning


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

No drug reps were harmed in the making of this post.

If you've ever wondered why prescription medications are so expensive I've got the answer. Popcorn. Well, that, and clipboards, and coffee cups, and neat little folding cubicle calendars, and clocks, and computer mouses with floating plastic fish in them, and pens. I mean really nice pens, the sort that you get angry at yourself for losing.

Today, all over the United States pharmaceutical reps walked into doctor's offices and clinics and dropped of tons of free swag with their products name on it. I should know because I picked up about 20 nice pens and 4 packages of microwave popcorn at a local Behavioral Health office and redistributed it to my coworkers back at the office. I've also been invited back to the office for when the company rep is going to feed them in a few weeks and give his speal about how great their drug is. You should see the stacks of stuff these guys give away. My insulated plastic coffee mug that I use on daily basis was picked up from a rep. One of my clipboards, a lovely blue plastic one with a green clip, came from a rep. My sticky notes (I'm nearly out) came from a drug rep. And all my best pens. Some of them are metal ones that are made to accept ink refills when they run out. It's crazy.

I just read online that drug companies spend anywhere from 7% to 30% of their sales on advertising. Let's assume for a minute that its only 7%. What the hell do their sales figues have to look like for all the swag I see given away only add up to 7%?

Anyway, here's a package of popcorn that I picked up today. Read the label.

It is comforting to know that there is no active drug in the popcorn. I do believe they left some of the inactive variety in there for flavoring. Hmmmmmm.... that's good psychotropic popcorn.


I love Mr. Deity. I actually enjoyed the first season more than the second, current one. The second season just hasn't seemed to match up, until this one. This is what I've come to expect from that crew.

What I like about the show is that it's intelligent and irreverent without being disrespectful. You can tell that the writer(s) are fairly theologically literate and have really wrestled with the issues presented. God bless these guys, even if they don't know what to think of God. :)


There's two things that I don't like. It's when someone sensationalizes while discussing an issue, and the other is when someone doesn't think about what they say. I did both above. I should have said that the swag given away is *one*of*the*reasons* pharmaceuticals are so expensive, rather than it being "the answer" to the issue.

Secondly, I'm sure than swag only makes up a portion of the advertising budget. There are TV commercials intended to get us to hound our doctors about medications when we don't even really know what the hell they do. I also wonder how they classify the expenditures on dinners and cocktails for doctors and lunches given at clinics. Is that "advertising" per their definition.

Monday, February 11, 2008

They will know we are Christians by our doctrine?

I have to credit my friend Jonathan for the title of this one.

"To love is to know God precisely because God is love. The emerging community, at its best, can teach us again that love must be the first word on our lips and also the last, and that we must seek to incarnate that sacred word in the world. I recently heard a well-known speaker say that if faith does not cost us something, than it is nothing. Only much later could I respond: if faith does not cost us everything, it is nothing. Orthodoxy as right belief will cost us little: indeed, it will allow us to sit back with our Pharisaic doctrine, guarding the 'truth' with the purity of our interpretation. But orthodoxy, as believing in the right way, as bringing love to the world around us and within us... that will cost us everything. For to live by that sword, as we all know, is to die by it."

(pg. 3)

How (Not) to Speak of God
by Peter Rollins

I'm starting the above book, and just ten pages into it its helping crystallize and articulate things that have been rolling around in my head for years. Its good stuff.

I remember when I was in college taking History of the Ancient World. We began to discuss the Torah (first five books of the Tanakh, or Old Testament) from an historical stand point. The professor pointed out that the language used at times (e.g. "no other gods before me" in the Ten Commandments), seemed to indicate that the author may have believed in the existence of many deities, but chose to worship only YHWH. In short, Moses, or whoever wrote the books in question, was not a monotheist, that individual was what is termed a henotheist. Well, this thought bounced around for a few minutes in my little modernist "the Bible is inerrant" brain, knocked some stuff over, and was promptly expelled. (I will not presume that any inerrantist cannot deal with this issue. It is to say that I could not deal with the issue at the time).

It brought to mind whether Abraham was monotheist, not to mention a host of other characters. Could these great men of faith, my spiritual fore bearers, have walked in such great error? What about David's Mighty Men, who supported him in administering his kingdom? Was it time and effort spent in vain on their part? Did they just die and go to hell? (I know, no concept of Heaven or Hell yet.)

As I've grown older and learned more the issues only become more muddied and the previously sharp lines between categories of "Christian" and "Nonchristian" have become like pencil marks rubbed with a wet thumb.

The early Christians did not have a cohesive New Testament that we so readily refer to now. They had a multiplicity of books that circulated, some of which we now recognize as part of the Canon, and others we do not, like the Gospel of Peter with its giant angels and talking cross and the Gospel of Thomas with naked sayings of Jesus with no framing narrative. For the sake of discussion let us put these aside and deal only with the canonical gospels.

Mark has a very spare christology. It would be difficult to derive the Deity of Christ if all you had was Mark's account. Additionally the oldest manuscripts of Mark hint at the resurrection but leave out some of the meatier stuff.

What if you were stuck with Mark, like some communities probably were? What if you believed in Jesus' teaching and his sacrificial death, but weren't quite sure about the resurrection and had no concept of him being the Incarnation of God? Would that be enough?

Was the possibly henotheist faith of Moses enough? The even more probably henotheistic (?polytheistic?) faith of Abraham enough? What of the loving service of David's Mighty Men as they served him, as he served his God?

Now, some of my conservative evangelical brethren (and sistren?) would readily say that the Christians that had no faith beyond the words of Mark sadly went to Hell. They would probably do the same thing with David's fellows. Moses and Abraham would be a bit stickier, in that they are affirmed as men of faith in the Bible. This might be dealt with by an adamant insistence that they were monotheists, otherwise they wouldn't be described the way they were. Who knows, maybe that's all right. They might make a loophole declaring a different "dispensation" for that period of history. It was ok back then, but we can't get away with it now.

Let me suggest another possibility. Maybe we always have and always will struggle to know God for who He is. Maybe we still see through a glass darkly and only know in part (1 Cor. 13:12). Maybe its more about doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God (Mic. 6:8) rather than being absolutely certain about all the details.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Yes, I know by definition its propaganda.

This is technically propaganda, then again the Gospels are technically propaganda too.

It's damned good propaganda. I get teary eyed when I watch it. That's probably because I'm a ninny.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Its been snowing in Paradise.

Its been snowing here lately, never really enough to shut the town down. I love the snow. I'm not quite sure why beyond the color. I think it has something to do with how it dampens the noise and keeps you from seeing long distances. It seems to make the world smaller, simpler, and less harsh.

What does that say about me? Hmmmm....