June 30, 2006


Far better is it to dare mighty things and win glorious triumphs - even though checkered by failure - than to take rank with the poor spirits who neither enjoy much or suffer much. Be wise, they live in the gray twilight that know not of victory, nor defeat. Nor true sorrow nor true love. ~Theodore Roosevelt

Social justice has never been my specialty. I worked at a soup kitchen once, which didn't really move me that much. I watched the kids do their thing, and it really just felt like my school cafeteria in Victor, only slightly more colorful (they went with blue and green on the walls, Victor opted for hospital white). Call me insensitive, I probably am.

Lately I've heard a lot that makes me wonder about the effectiveness Christians have on the world around them. I mean, what better way to reach people than the way Jesus did - by helping them. He spent a lot of time with people that society didn't really like that much - lepers, the blind, gentiles, tax collectors, Roman centurions ... all undesirables according to Jewish law.

My aunt, a woman who has a huge compassion for those less fortunate, told me a story once that I'll never forget. She was with the Peace Corps at the time, and wandering through some jungle trying to get relief supplies to a group of people, when they walk into this clearing full of mud huts and mostly naked natives. What caught her eye was the huge two-story white clapboard house with a picket fence owned by a missionary couple who invited the weary group in for lemonade. When asked about their mission, they explained that their sole purpose was to inform the locals that they were sinners.

As if that's all there is.

No, "Jesus loves you," or even "repent, and you'll be forgiven." Apparently, they had the natives build them a landing strip (to get supplies to build their house), for which the missionaries payed the tribe a pot. I'm all for shiny things, particularly when they involve food, but a pot's value, at least where I come from, doesn't really outweigh the value of an airstrip(yes, we could ask if the pot represents a more permanant dishware solution, eliminating hours of tedious work carving new pots because the village idiot burned up the last cooking pot, but why?)

I've often wanted to answer my Aunt's implicit questions about a faith that tells people that they're sinners and does nothing to help them, and then exploits them. But I can't - all I can do is appologize for the insensitivity of the people that embarrass me too. If we are to follow scripture clearly, then as Christians, we are bound to make the world a better place day in and day out.

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." [Ephesians 5:1-2].

If we are to imitate Jesus in all things, our primary concern is people. The only people Jesus ever condemned were the religious leaders who refused to see the spirit of the scriptures! It is after this passage that mimos (greek for "imitate") is named; we strive to imitate Christ in our daily lives.

And so I give you several organizations that deserve your support. To be clear: this is new to me too; of anyone, I am the worst at helping anyone but myself. I say we all try this together. I do not ask you to simply contribute money (it's easy to donate and think your job is done), but ask yourself, how can you bless the world today? How do you imitate Jesus in the world around you? Do you pass right by those homeless people day in and day out on the way to meaningless meetings without ever thinking about offering a meal? Do you pass by the same exhausted looking coworker every day without asking if she's feeling ok? Maybe, can you help? Have you asked your mailman his name? What hope have you given the world by waking up today?

World Hope
Invisible Children

We do this not because it saves us, or because it could save others. We do this because it is right, because it is good. It is good.

"The time has come to realize
And see the plan you've been designed for
So face the fear of all unknown,
And see the heart inside
So open up your eyes ..."
[Jeremy Camp]

June 27, 2006

Music in the Church

As a senior in college, I was required to either write a thesis or take a senior seminar. I chose the thesis, mainly because it was the only way I'd get the registrar to approve my major. When I set out to write said thesis, I decided to go with a question: where does music fit into the world of the Christian? This required a lot of research, which was painstaking (mostly because very few people ever asked this question) and eventually, my paper turned into a description of the emerging church, where our culture has come from and perhaps where it may be going. The music part became a bit of an afterthought in lieu of something that, at the time, I thought was more interesting.

Part of the reason I made the change, though, was because of the rather boring answer I stumbled across. Now I think I may need to re-examine my position and explain it further. But I've noticed quite a few people talking about the subject of Christian music in the past several weeks, and I decided I want another crack at it.

Most people seem to be complaining about the stuff. I used to be a huge fan of the "contemporary Christian music" (CCM) scene, until about a year and a half ago. To be fair, my tryst with CCM was the result of a semi-depraved childhood; I grew up in a very traditional presbyterian church where the organist played all our hymns half-tempo and where nobody cared about being culturally relevant; the question hadn't even come up. Then we left.

When I got to the next church, the reason we stayed was one Greg Campbell and the fact that he asked me to play saxophone on his worship team - music was what I loved, and that someone would take an interest in it with me was almost too good to be true. That was when I discovered that people had been writing music like the rest of the world for years, except that nobody had bothered to tell me. I was hooked; most of the "secular" music I'd encountered had left me wanting more. I didn't realize that I'd just been listening to the wrong "secular" music; turns out that pop and r&b and boy bands really aren't my taste, but I couldn't find anything else. But I fell in love with the music of Michael W. Smith, Twila Paris, and especially David Crowder and Jars of Clay.

I still have a great respect for Michael W. Smith's music, and I remain a huge fan of David Crowder and Jars of Clay. Add to that Jeremy Camp, Kutless, Switchfoot, and Caedmon's Call. They're probably still the music I listen to the most. But my view has changed. I used to think (especially when I discovered this music for the first time) that one shouldn't listen to "secular" music because it would poisen the mind, like, why would you listen to "bad" lyrics when you could listen to "good" lyrics (I think I used to equate "good lyrics" with "lyrics with the name Jesus in them").

I've changed my tune, so to speak, since then. As I began investigating postmodernism, it seemed to me that the music of Christian circles was rather shallow. It was never very musically intricate, the poetry was sort of lame, and the same "christian" cliche's kept appearing over and over until every song, regardless of the artist, began to blend together. (What I love about David Crowder is his ability to use words like "intoxicating" and apply them to his love for God). It got me thinking, do these people have any idea what they're saying? Do they think about what they write or are they just trying to write another piece to use next sunday?

I think now that music is simultaneously nothing special and something very intimate. Music, and indeed, all art, is a means of expression for a Christian community. Look at the original music of a community and you'll be able to tell a lot about them. At the same time, music is not the equivalent of "worship." You can worship through music. But we worship with our very lives, the way we live and breathe in this world.

The hebrews knew this; the reason that nobody likes reading Leviticus or Deuteronomy is because those books are full of the rules for a good hebrew to worship God. They're not musical rules, either; they apply to everything from the sort of fibers to use in their clothing to the way to sacrifice a goat on which day of the year. The mundane was still worship for the hebrew people. Likewise, we who call ourselves followers of Jesus, while not bound by rules, are called to live a life of worship. A life of worship. Not "on sunday we worshipped so well in that song the band played," but our. whole. LIFE.

Music, in this worldview, becomes something of a problem. I love music, but I'm coming to think that maybe paid worship pastors aren't such a good idea; it gives the wrong idea, like the only time we worship is on sunday at a corporate gathering. Even if we had the most amazing music in the world (which we don't, I'm sorry, John Mayer and Linkin Park and U2 and Eminem write better poetry than most so-called "worship artists"). Music is a form of personal expression - poetry and the music that goes with it are a way of expressing the raw emotions and yearnings and rhythms of our primitive souls. It's also communal expression - the psalms are an entire book of music written to sing together to God. But let's not elevate music to such a high place that it overlooks other worship - the way we prepare an onion to sautey into spaghetti sauce, the way we walk down the street, the way we talk with our friends ... the way we serve the poor and take care of our environment. In everything we do, we worship.

June 24, 2006


The second law of thermodynamics states that any system left to itself will naturally progress towards entropy. Entropy is a fancy word for disorder or chaos.

What the second law doesn't state is that a person can enhance entropic effects quite easily, by acquiring an EED, or Entropic Enhancement Device. The most common models of these devices are organic in nature, carbon-based, quadrapedal, and have names like "spot", "fluffy", or sometimes, "Wisdom." Most commonly, they are referred to as "dogs."

A dog is, "any object that is perpetually on the wrong side of a door." While fairly easily acquired, no one has, as of yet, determined the easiest proceedure to allow them to reach their full potential as EEDs. I believe I may be of some service to the scientific community in this matter.

Allow the EED full access to your living room, backyard, or if possible, both. Leave as many soft items around as you can; paper towels, socks, and powered computer cables generally work to this effect. Merely allow your EED 1-2 hours in the contained space, and you will witness an increased rate of entropy.

Other EEDs are now in testing. Small children, anarchists, and the Christian Coalition are among the latest subjects under study. Among failed experiments include ants, trees, and schools of fish, for all being too organized. Our most promising study is the Christian Coalition, for its ability to absorb massive amounts of energy and still produce entropic results.

Travel History

I've been thinking about writing this post for a while, but until now I've never been quite sure how to say what I should say. Bear with me.

I've traveled a lot for a guy my age, most of it made possible by two pairs of very loving grandparents. I'm a citizen of the United States, and of my home country, I've seen parts of Colorado, Hawaii, Washington (Seattle), Massachusetts, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Saint Thomas (in the USVI) and of course, I've run all over my home state of New York. That doesn't mean I don't want to see more, just that I've seen a lot (for example, I'm still due for a trip to visit Florida and perhaps Georgia someday, and I'd love to see California and Oregon).

I've been outside the US quite a bit. I'm also a citizen of Switzerland, and have visited my home away from home four times. I've also been to England, Canada, France, Germany (sort of) and, of course, Australia. Again, I'd love to see as many countries as I get the chance to see; I want to visit Jerusalem, and I really want to see Italy, Brazil, Ecuador, maybe a few African countries, and perhaps China or Bangkok. Japan would be cool too.

Point is, I've been to a lot of places where history was made. I've never been much of a history buff until my junior year of high school, when I was introduced to a different form of history. My AP US History teacher, Mr. Olson, taught us through stories. I'd never considered that history was anything but dry facts, and so the idea that real people did real things that might affect me ... got me thinking. But, as these things go, any progress got put on the backburner until my senior year of college, as I wrote my thesis on postmodernism, when I realized that I had to research 2000+ years of the history of religion in order to write anything profound ... and found myself enjoying the stories I uncovered.

It wasn't until I wrote that paper that I began to appreciate the places I'd been.

Of all the places I've visited, only a handful of them were ever appreciated on any level for their historical significance. But I also know that, in particular, my Dad's mother (my Grandma) really wanted to take me to places where I could learn about the history of the world I live in, to experience first-hand the stories, and open my eyes to a world bigger than the one I found in my textbooks. All four of my grandparents, but Grandma especially, have hoped so much that I'd learn and grow from my travels. Instead, I spent a lot of those trips complaining about boredom. I didn't really want to be there with my family, I wanted to be home doing fun things (which of course meant anything but what we were doing at the time).

As Liz would say, I was such a pill.

And for that, I am deeply sorry. I never really appreciated the value of the gift I was being given. Instead of the architecture and the stories and the people and the culture that I had the chance to explore, I focused on the boredom and the achy feet and the hours of staring at what I thought was nothing important.

And so this is an appology directed mainly to my grandparents, for putting up with the whining and the complaining and the begging and pleading to go home. It's also a thank you, for their patience and for exposing me to the world, and while it took me years, I finally am starting to understand what you see in this place.

There is still yet hope for your grandson.

Wedding Bells

Congratulations to Rob and Meghan! They're (finally) getting married.

Fun fact #1: Rob and Meghan began dating the same day that Liz and I did.

Fun Fact #2: Rob was the best man at my wedding (and that's where this picture came from).

They're a beautiful (and sickeningly cute) couple who are both close to God's heart. I'm proud to count Rob as one of my closest friends, and it's been a priviledge to get to know Meghan; I can't wait to get to know them as a married couple.

Congrats today you two, and have fun in Alaska - you've earned it.

June 23, 2006

My Horn

This is my french horn. Her name is Mara. I named her in a writhing fit of peer pressure when my friend and roommate Jeff informed me that he'd named his guitar "Suzanna," and then asked me, "so what's your horn's name?" Fortunately he never got around to further humiliation by asking me to name my saxophone.

I named her a girl's name because a) I like that name, it's cool, b) because I'm a guy and that's just what we do, and c) because I don't put my lips on things named after guys. I just don't swing that way.

I've played that french horn since I got it as a gift from my parents (thanks again guys) in 10th grade. My dad came to my lesson that day bearing my new horn in its new case. I remember being very angry at Holly - she was my teacher - because she'd been in on the buying process and never even hinted to me that it was in the works. But it was very shiny, so I forgave her. It's still pretty shiny, just with more scratches on it, and lately my dog has taken to licking the silver. But it plays better than it did when I got it. Or maybe I do, I don't know. I actually remember, as we arrived in the Eastman parking garage, wondering why I saw my dad's car pass us going around a curve, then dismissing it as my imagination.

I've actually been playing french horn since my piano teacher convinced me, in fourth grade, to choose something other than the trumpet for a second instrument. I said, how about saxophone? She said no, I should really ... really ... try the french horn. Since I can't usually withstand pressure from an authority figure (I'm seeking professional counselling), I consented, and it's one of the best decisions I've ever made.

I only mention this becasue of my latest attempt to get involved in our community. I'm a musician at heart - it's one of the things I'm almost good at - and so I thought, why not use that to meet people? So I began searching for orchestras.

I discovered that most orchestras are located about an hour from me by train. Most were farther. However, there is one orchestra located down the road in Preston, a mere half hour by two trams and a bus. And they're playing solo concertos at the next concert.

Which is perfect, because it means I'll get to know my fellow horn players well. See, they don't call them "solo concertos" for nothing; the soloist shines, as do the strings and sometimes the woodwinds, but the rest of the orchestra gets to sit around and count rests. And since, during rehearsals, we end up stopping all the time, nobody actually counts them. Which leaves us, as brass players, with nothing to do but - you guessed it - talk to each other (or, perhaps, twiddle our thumbs ... or when I was in college, sometimes I'd read homework ... but mostly we talk).

So this is good. I start rehearsals in July, but I have to practice. My embechure (the muscles in my lips that I use to play) has grown, or rather, not grown, shall we say ... weak. I'm out of shape. And it hurts to play like you wouldn't believe; the muscles in the lips are among the most sensitive and delicate in the human body, and to jump back into playing after a year and a half is hard. But worth it; I'm enjoying playing again. I'm even prepping a duet to play between horn and piano so I can play with my wife; it's good stuff.

June 21, 2006

The Future

When choosing a career, where does passion fit into the mix?

I've been doing a great bit of thinking about this lately; what am I to do with myself once I leave Australia? Where do I go, what sort of path has God laid out for me? Should I even leave? Do I go to seminary like I'd originally planned? Why? What other career options do I have?

I think the biggest reason I've been nutting through this is my questions about the church in general. Originally, before I started my senior year of college, my plans included seminary, and then moving to some church somewhere and heading up an amazing worship ministry where music was original and cool and converted lots of people. I had high hopes for myself.

Then my senior year came along and, like always, I had to go and question the establishment. I've always been the one asking the seemingly stupid questions. My Uncle Bick took me out deep-lake fishing when I was nine, and when we got home, he was fairly pissed off, asking my parents, "does he ever shut up? He didn't stop asking questions the entire three hours we were gone!"

I couldn't see why we did what we did in church. Why did we decide that singing as a large group was a good thing? Why did we think that "seeker-sensitivity" was a good idea? Were there any seekers to be sensitive to? What's the point of meeting once a week and making ourselves feel good? After a while, I'd been accepted to the program that led me to Australia for a year, and somebody said, "Chris, we'd indoctinate you, but you're moving to Australia." I got worried about my future in worship ministry, and indeed, in the established church - if people think that I just don't get it, either I need to learn, or there's more to the picture.

Since coming to Melbourne, I've discovered that I'm not the only one who thinks like this. There's a whole organization in Australia devoted to those questions I've been asking. I've met them - they're amazing people, gentle as lambs, but annoying to most established churches because they too can't stop asking questions.

And so, where do I go? I don't believe that worship ministry is the place for me anymore. I love music, shall continue to play, but it won't be on a stage in a church somewhere. I don't even think churches should have stages anymore, let alone a presentation on them. Or more to the point, I don't think churches should have buildings anymore, and if they need one, perhaps they need to think about why.

This doesn't bode well for my financial future, however. I have a degree in, essentially, music in religion. It's not very useful for much of anything. I can go to seminary and go work in an established church, I could be a missionary and raise funding my entire life, or spend my life working in coffee shops and kmarts hoping that my family has enough to get by.

Frankly, none of these sound that appealing. But the question remains, how much does my passion for music or for a mission-minded church need to fit into the jobs I use to pay the bills? I suppose it doesn't, but should I have any passion for my job?

That's the clincher.

I've got a few ideas. Maybe be a professor (the top choice at the moment), work with FORGE, write a book, plant a church in the community where I'm teaching ... that one sounds the best so far. Maybe open a coffee shop like Alan Hirshe, or perhaps pioneer the first American Chocolate by the Bald Man. That sounds good too. Maybe I'll change fields entirely and go professional musician, or choose a new field entirely and get my masters in something else (but what?).

The possibilities are endless, I guess. But I'll ask the question anyway, because I'm curious: what do you, the collective internet population, think about woship ministry? What is worship? Where does the institution we call the "church" belong? (and "in a handbasket on its way somewhere hot" isn't a good answer, although it's mildly creative). What about passion? Should ministers be payed?
And maybe, do you have any ideas for what this poor amateur musician could do with his life?

June 17, 2006


A funny thing happened when I stepped onto our new scale the other day. About three weeks ago, we got this new scale so we could keep track of Wisdom's weight. Naturally, I weighed myself for the hell of it, scoffed at the number, and thought nothing of it. But yesterday, when I weighed myself again, I was shocked to discover that I'd lost eight pounds.

Eight pounds! I've never lost weight before, only gained it, so this was a bit of a shock to me. I didn't know what to do except celebrate with a tim tam.

I'm all excited now. Not only is being here rather fun and exciting, but it also helps me lose weight! I'm not sure how ... maybe the fact that we walk everywhere, or that I've been biking again, but ... there it is. Both of us have noticed a difference. It hasn't helped us sleep better yet, but that might be because of the dog, who wakes us up as early as she can to get breakfast and attention (and won't stop barking for an hour until we get up). Anyway, I was excited. Thought you should know.

June 15, 2006


Sally called us up tonight and said she was coming over with slices (brownies) and that she wanted to do a Bible study. This was funny for me, because I've never had anybody tell me they wanted to do a Bible study, least of all spur-of-the-moment. I must admit, it caught me off-guard, which she must have noticed, because she said something like "well, I really just want to be with some friends, so we can just hang out if you want." I told her that she's always welcome, and she knows it, so she came over.

After hanging out for a while, showing off the new mimos blog that I designed, and making conversation, somebody mentioned that she'd wanted to read the Bible. She said, "you know, I got really excited about the idea. Normally I don't, but for some reason I thought, 'I really want to read the Bible,' and so here I am."

"This will be good for me," I said, "I've hardly touched my Bible in three weeks, let alone read much of it." "Me either," she said, "which is why I felt so odd about being so excited."

"What shall we read?" asked Liz. "I don't know," said Sally, "pick something."

We threw out a few suggestions, but in the end, Liz said, "let's read Jude." Of the three of us, Liz is the only one who actually remembers all the books of the Bible. "What, like ..." "Hey Jude" we all said, in unison. We laughed at our dumb joke. Liz started reading,

"This letter is from Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James. I am writing to all who are called to live in the love of God the Father and the care of Jesus Christ. May you receive more and more of God's mercy, peace, and love."

"He sounds really nice," said Sally.


Rarely have I ever enjoyed a Bible study. I've been to plenty of them, and some in college were tolerable because of good company, but on the whole, the only real reason I went was because my friends were there and I wanted to be with them.

I don't say this to be mean to the friends I had there, or to trivialize the things I've learned at said Bible studies, only to be honest and open. But tonight I felt better about reading scripture, like this was how it was meant to be done: as a community. I realize that my previous studies were also in community, especially the Bible studies I did in college.

But tonight, the words of God came alive on the page to me in a way they never have before. I don't know what it was about it; maybe I felt like Jude had written right to me, or maybe it was just the timing of it, or maybe even the company. I don't know. But tonight something changed. I feel better about things, better about God, better about myself because of what I've read.

To me, that is what scripture is supposed to do. It's almost as if it's alive and moving and breathing. It's supposed to affect us, to move us when we're unmoveable. It's not this specimen sitting on a lab bench waiting to be dissected, cut into little tiny pieces for each to be scrutinized. It's a living being waiting to be engaged so it can engage us. We've talked in mimos about how scripture was originally intended to be read in community, but it never quite made sense until now. When I could listen to Liz and Sally read it and then discuss it with them, reading scripture changed from being a burden into a joy. It wasn't my task to bear alone anymore; it was everyone's, and together we could work through it.

I wasn't alone.

June 12, 2006

Good Grief

"Bishop Forsyth calls for patient, not panicked, responses [to the Emerging Church movement]. 'If God had meant us to have the new, he wouldn't have given the old,' he said."

I beg your pardon?

June 9, 2006


It’s no secret that I’ve never been much for sports. Like a fish in mud, sports and I have never gotten along too well, and like oil and water, I doubt we ever will. Sometimes the only thing I feel I can hope for is a sort of uneasy truce. I used to play baseball, as a tyke. My dad was the coach of my little league teams for a few years, and I mostly enjoyed it. But I was always the husky kid who didn’t ever seem to quite … get it when it came to athletics, and eventually, I gave up on them and moved on to things like art, music, philosophy, and science; the things of the mind.

Lately, I’ve had this inkling that I haven’t got too much in common with most of the guys I’ve met here in Australia. We have our faith, and that’s cool, but as far as most conversation goes, I’m still a bit out of the loop. It seems that, even more than in America, sports (especially footie) are built into the DNA of the Australian culture. Even most women here can tell you what their favorite team is and key players and who won what match last week, even if those women don’t care (but most do). It’s not that Australians don’t like to think; they do (Ruth and Pete are both sordid intellectuals who can also tell you that Collingwood beat Brisbane last week).

This makes me very uncomfortable. I’ve always hated sports types, because they always hated me; it was a mutual thing, I suppose. I was the guy who set the curve too high in school, and they were the ones that made fun of me during Phys. Ed. I always figured that they were too busy bashing their heads into the ground (killing off brain cells) to focus on their schoolwork, but I imagine that they probably thought that I was too busy reading to find time to exercise. It’s funny to me that one of my two best friends from college was a football player in high school, but I think that we had so much else in common (music, philosophy, and our mutual faith) that it never really seemed to crop up.

And so I think that my newest project is to learn about this game called “footy.” From what I can tell, it’s something of a phenomenon here in Australia. It’s nothing like American Football, except that they run around on a field with a ball that’s mostly oblong. But even the ball doesn’t quite look the same. The field is oval, not rectangle, and there are no uprights, only four posts of two sizes at each end. Oh yeah – and they don’t wear padding.

June 6, 2006

The Feminization of the Church

I've been part of a conversation on a colleague's blog about the church and the way that it seems to have been "feminized" in recent years. A while back, I wrote an article about the subject, which I've been thinking a bit about today. I've especially thought about a comment that Greg sent me: "You are suggesting (it seems to me) that because men tend to participate less in our events that there are less men in the church. Why must we perpetuate the idea that church is something so spacial. I am not part of the church because of any gathering I attend, or any creed I espouse or and rituals I have completed or regularly practice. I am a part of Jesus' church whether I do any of these things or not."

I've come to (mostly) agree with this position. It was over a year ago that I wrote the first post. I was writing to ask a question: why are so many women in "church" and not men? When I said "church," I meant the group of people that attend what the majority of Americans define as "church," aka the established church.

I still think that my reasoning is valid for that particular question, if you limit the parameters of the question to the established church. In my most recent experience, the numbers even out significantly if you expand the definition to include the missional church. The church plant I'm involved with is significantly more balanced in gender than any other church I've ever been to. To be sure, it's still very small, but we're almost 50:50 (men to women), although the largest group is actually children (so cool).

Basically, the missional church views women the same way it views men; they're people, called by God. In Jesus, there is "no male nor female." This is not to say that men and women are not different, each gender with their own unique abilities (for example, men are better at spacial relations while women are better at multitasking), it just means that each individual is just that: unique and distinct. Scripture never mentions that spiritual gifts are given only to one gender or the other, but to people.


I'm in awe of the latest developments in the world of computers. Seriously, some crazy things are happening at both Dell and Apple. Mostly Dell, since Apple is still trying to catch up (example: they finally got around to using Intel processors). In fact, I went to the Dell website today and discovered the newest development in desktop replacements: the XPS M2010
This thing has serious power, starting with the Centrino Duo processor, dual hard drives, multimedia up the wazoo (including a built-in webcam), detachable wireless keyboard, and a 20.1" widescreen display.

I don't usually write about computers, but it caught my eye. Like Apple products, this one costs a fortune, but it comes with pretty much everything you could ever need in a desktop (including 8 speakers and a subwoofer) and the mobility of a laptop. It's even got its own handle to carry it around.

Close on its heels is the XPS 1710, a laptop with a kick. Definitely more portable than the 2010, and it has funky extras like the lit back and speakers.

Apple has a few new toys too. My personal favorite is the Macbook Pro, which is basically a Dell notebook with a one-button mouse and lighted keyboard. I like the lighted keyboard, the idea makes me happy. And you can load two operating systems onto the hard drive - both Mac OSX and Windows XP Pro, which is what makes me excited about it: I like Apple hardware, but Mac OSX is a pain. And I'm told you can customize it with a more functional two-button mouse.

I must admit, though, it worries me that somebody would buy any of these; it's a lot of money to be throwing around. But they're all still very cool.

June 2, 2006

The Grand Theory of Everything

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. That's what I do: I think, and then I write about it. It can be a problem, especially in times like this, when it creates a ton of work for me.

I've been thinking a lot about rewriting my senior thesis. If you haven't read back that far, my thesis was a 90ish page document that covered 2000+ years of world history (as it related to Christianity and Christendom) and mostly talked a lot about postmodernism. It was a really long read, very dense, and vastly (in my current opinion) incomplete. After my experiences since finishing, after some more reading of other dense material, and after life in general, I've determined that the paper is not only incomplete and (in places) incorrect, but also horribly un-readable. It's packed with scholarly college-talk that means nothing to anybody in the real world. An example:

"Furthermore, the ethoi that define these cultures are never static, and they never completely die when new ethoi arise. An ethos might advance much farther in one geographic area than in another. Different geographic areas may reach the apices of the same ethoi at different times, making a full study of ethoi exceedingly opaque. All this to say that the world is never uniform at a single point in time, and as such, one cannot study ethoi as purely sequential or temporal phenomena, and must set aside chronological biases in order to fully grasp the implications of the term 'ethos.'"

I wrote like a nerd, it was awful. I keep thinking that it's high time to rewrite for content and, more importantly, style. And yet ... it's so much work! I mean, the first time it took me a full two semesters to put together, and then I only barely made my deadline by pulling a few all-nighters. Not to mention all the caffeine I consumed during that period.

On top of this, I have this personality defect that compels me to go all-or-nothing (and yet get it right on the first try) for anything academic. As I was beginning the editing process today (to see where everything stands), I started creating a list of "ideas I'd like to explore" in addition to all the stuff I've already written.

Which means that my little thesis would turn into this grand theory of everything, my every theory and thought combined into one document. The problem is that I can justify it; one of my main points in the text was "holism," the theory that everything is, essentially, linked. It's chaos theory (remmeber Jurassic Park?) for sociology; everything affects everything else.

In other words, my rambling mind saunters from one topic to another without ever breaking for air.

And so I ask you; if I wrote a book, would you read it? I think that it might be interesting, and I'd certainly try to stick to a more readable style (like what I use in my blogs, not that academic horror you saw at the beginning of the post). It's certainly been a dream of mine, to write a book, but all these doubts keep creeping into my head; nobody would read it, I should just wait until I do a PhD before I tackle something this big, I need more experience to talk about all this stuff ... the list goes on.

But would you read it?

Squirrel Squirrel ...

Absolutely priceless. It reminds me of college; the squirrels of UR might as well have been just like this for all the trouble they could give us. My favorite memories include squirrels jumping out of trash cans at us as we'd pass by, giving chase across the academic quad, or my personal favorite, hunting the elusive albino squirrel near Towers.

June 1, 2006

Missionary Exchange

I've been thinking about the phenomenon of sending out missionaries. As a Christian, I've come to believe that being a missionary is something that everyone is called to do; we're to be missionaries in whatever setting we find ourselves in - at the mall, in the grocery store, at the park, at home, and yes, in foreign countries.

The funny thing to me is what happens when we "send out" missionaries from our home congregations (from our local church) to ... somewhere else. I believe that this is something God encourages, but think about it; what happens when every local church starts to send out missionaries?

You start getting exchanges. For example, I started in Rochester, NY, America. But now I'm living in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. So I moved half-way around the world. Fair enough. But now, what happens if people from Melbourne (or Sydney, which is actually what prompted this little ramble) decide to be missionaries to America? I mean, America needs it just like any other nation, and I've heard of missionaries from Africa coming into the States to preach the gospel.

But seriously ... what's the purpose of essentially exchanging missionaries? Wouldn't it make more sense to just keep our own people within our own borders so they don't have to go learn a new language and culture and all that, so they can minister to their own people?

I think there is a reason. God doesn't seem to do things without reasons, and if He told some of us to go from place to place, I think there must be a reason. Here's my thought, and then I'll wait to see what we get from others: the exchange is necessary.

The cultural exchange helps us to see that the world is bigger than ourselves. It helps us to see that we are not alone, and it helps us to learn that God lives and works in all places. God is not static, He's very much dynamic and alive and busy! By working through culture shock and by learning new languages, we grow more humble. We learn that God works in all parts of the world, even when it looks like He's forgotten about a place (think Rwanda or India on this one).

Blogging 101

Blogger, also known as a blog, a weblog, or sometimes, a glogsot.

I love starting and being involved in discussions, especially when they turn philosophical or, as a pastor once called me, "heady." I like to think deep, outside the box, and hard. However, I noticed that most of the people who read my blogs don't comment on them. People, with regards to commenting, might fall into one of six categories:

1) You don't like me.
2) You don't like my writing. I sometimes agree.
3) You have much better things to do.
4) You want to comment but can't because of the settings on my blog.
5) You do comment, and I love you for that.
6) You do comment, but since reading this post, they're insulted and have decided not to comment anymore.

If you're in categories 1-3, please try to change yourself into someone in category 5. It is for those of you in category 4 that I write this post. I've set up my blog so that a person can't comment unless they're a member of blogger. I've done this for one reason only, and that is security: I'm sick of getting "spam" comments that don't really contribute to my discussion or anybody else's, but merely annoy us all.

You don't have to write in a blog in order to be a member (and therefore post comments), but you do have to sign up. Once you're a member, you can comment. Comments lead to discussion, and I'd really like to be able to foster discussion through my writing; it's why I write.


Since "The DaVinci Code" came out, there's been a lot of buzz on the internet, blogs, and in cafes about the role of women in society, in the Christian religion, etc. I'd love to talk about this, but I'm not much good on the subject, I only have my somewhat uninformed opinions. On a completely unrelated note, I read "Rebekah" this past week, a book by Orson Scott Card that takes the Biblical account and other sources to tell the story of Rebekah and Isaac.

I loved it. Aside from the fact that OS Card is an amazing author with a deep writing style and a profound grasp of his subject matter, I'm amazed at his grasp of the Christian faith (I know, I know, Rebekah was a Hebrew, but seriously, read the book and you'll see what I mean). Some six months ago I read another book of his called "Pastwatch", a book that also shows his grasp of what true Christianity looks like. You'll have to read it to see what I mean (most libraries should have it).

Anyway, I found this passage in Rebekah that I loved, and thought that I should share it.

"People don't understand what it means to be a Shepherd," Isaac said, "You aren't a master of the sheep. They're too stupid to have a master because they don't understand obedience - only imitation of the other sheep, and fear of predators. No, a shepherd is a servant of the sheep, protecting them, bringing them to food. And that's what we are to all our people ..."

I sit and wonder, where does this truth apply? Does it apply to missionaries? Does it apply to Christians in general (of course, if you know me, you know I don't believe there's a difference between the two). Does it apply to God and us as human beings? Is it totally bogus?