Saturday, May 29, 2004

Am I the only one who had these records as a child? I don't remember much from them, but they ARE fun to listen to now.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Lesson from children's choir:

We took the kids into the sanctuary last night to practice being on stage for their upcoming gig on Sunday (BTW, I'm a "helper", I don't actually lead the tykes). We ran through their song once, with most of the kids swaying and making faces, many not singing at all, etc. Then the director gave a short speech about how important it is not to distract the congregation from worship during the service. She also told me that on the next run-through, I was to find the three children who were doing the best job at standing still and watching the director so that they could get a piece of candy after the rehearsal. Suddenly all the extraneous behaviors stopped. All of the kids really paid attention well. I identified six who never took their eyes off the director at all, so those six got the candy. I was amazed at the enormity of change precipitated by a tiny little contest.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

One thing strikes me as very wrong with this, namely the fact tht someone would name a child "Jinger."
I hereby declare that all govt in Oregon is stupid until such time as they prove otherwise.
For some reason this big story doesn't seem to match well with this. Of course the bad news of the latter is that it holds out the possibility of a repeat of the 2000 election.

Monday, May 24, 2004

My brother points out something (which he admits he didn't think up himself) about the establishment of pornography in our society. Has anyone had an ideas about this? Should we refuse to stay in hotels which have signed deals with porn providers? Are there any major hotels which haven't? I'm not interested in ideas about self-control here, but about whether there is something proactive we should be focussing on.
Had a long weekend out of town, ergo no posts. Some good visits with friends. One complaint, and I won't mention names or places here, but at the (PCA) church we went to Sunday, the pastor was completing a sermon series on an OT book and barely made passing reference to the text in the sermon. I always hate it when I see christian teachers who don't find the scriptures interesting enough to talk about. This is an area that my own church is very strong in. I guess what Chesterton said is true about the purpose of travelling being to give you an appreciation for home.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

I don't have any way to push this other than just saying it again: I'm still raising money for my mission trip to Ukraine in July. I would love to have some support from a few blog buddies out there. Last year we had one couple we only knew from the 'net send us some support, which was fantastic. I just ran the budget numbers for this year's trip and it came out at about $2600, which is higher than last year and higher than I had originally anticipated for this year, so I'm feeling a bit pressured now. If you are at all curious about what we'll be doing, I'd love to tell you more. Just pop me an email or leave a comment with your email on it and I'll be glad to let you in. The ministry we are working with has the most amazing results--about 90% of the participants from summer projects come back for continued bible studies in the fall.

Small contributions are just as welcome as big ones too :)
Someone should invent a smell-sense equivalent to the word "deafening". "Overpowering" just seems to generic.
I guess I could turn this into just a book report blog.

Yesterday I read Will D Campbell's booklet, Race and the Renewal of the Church, and I was surprised to find it the best and most cogent piece of writing on race I've ever seen. What surprised me about it was that it was written in 1962. I tend to imagine that all progree in thinking about race in this country has happened since then. One of the stiking points he makes is how, after the 1954 integration decision, liberal churches started saying that we should practice integration because it is the law. Why does the church need a law to tell it to ignore race?

He also highlights a key point which I have seen brought out by much later theologians, which is that the church is not primarily a social reform institution, but a community. "The sin of the church is not that it has not reformed society, but that it has not realized self-renewal. Its sin is that it has not repented. Without repentance there cannot be renewal."(p. 4)

He also talks about how the Romans considered Christians to be a "third race". Coincidentally, I heard Orson Scott Card on the radio last night take up that same theme speaking of Mormons. Card was quite open in saying that many common social rituals of our culture would be one's he could only imagine rather than experience, such as having coffee with someone. I wish I could link to that interview, since he so wonderfully stated so many things about how the church should see itself vis a vis the United States.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

I was reading von Clausewitz last week. I didn't get much out of it, frankly, but I decided it had been collecting dust for too long. What I was really struck by was the opening:

We must first define war. We shall not begin with a pedantic definition, but confine ourselves to wasr's essence: the duel. War is nothing but a duel on a larger scale. If we would unite in one conception the countless uels of which it consists, we should imagine two wrestlers. Each seeks by physical force to overthrow the other, render him incapable of further resistance, and compel his opponent to do his will.

War is thus an act of force to compel our adversary to do our will.

He goes on to speak of how the use of force has no theoretical limits and that the side which does not limit it's brutality will thus have an advantage.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Finished reading The Brothers K last week (among a bunch of other stuff). This easily goes on the list of best novels I have read. It was certainly better than any novels I read last year. Were it not so plainly (though not faithfully) based on a Russian novel, it would be a contender for the mythical Great American Novel. Stan Hauerwas recommended it to me (though I'm sure my brother had done so years earlier as well), by saying it was about the only important things in life: God and Baseball.

On the not so serious side I also recommend Noah Adams' (of NPR fame) little book Piano Lessons, a diary of the author's attempts to learn piano as an older adult. Includes plenty of piano trivia which was new to me. I'm halfway through, but it has been engrossing so far.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

I supose I've been remiss in not mentioning my own brother's recently resurected blog.
News in our country still stinks. How is it that I didn't hear that the president of Chechnya and a bunch of other people were blown up two days ago at a public ceremony? And yet and on the little news scrawl on CNN yesterday I saw info about the new Jessica Simpson tour. I guess the Chechens haven't paid their bribes to the reporters to get top coverage.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

35 today

If you are one of the first 165 people, you could go buy me something from my wish list.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Just had an interesting three hour meeting with an acoustical architecture consultant. Our church is looking to build its final sanctuary and our in-house architects decided, wisely I think, to hire an acoustical specialist. David Egan literally wrote the book on architectural acoustics and was quite a source of ideas and knowledge. It's nice to have people in our church who think ahead about these sorts of things.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Putting two and two together:

Some recent email exchanges with Todd, coupled with a few of the comments here, got me thinking about Nehemiah. Nehemiah, to put it bluntly, kicked ass among "God's people". He said "what on earth do you think you are doing." He made them consider that if they wanted to be called God's people, they needed to start acting like it. And this at a very perilous time, a time when the existence of the nation was hanging in the balance, a time when most would say ,"we have more pressing issues right now." To my mind, this is the proper context to view the violence of Jesus in the temple. Jesus was the new Nehemiah. Jesus spoke to "God's people" without holding anything back, even knocking some things around in the process to get some attention. This is decidedly NOT, as I understand it, a justification for the use of violence, speaking generally, among followers of Jesus, unless by violence you mean following the examples of Jesus and Jeremiah. It is certainly not an example of making war.
God's sense of humor?

Why is it that I am a shy person who really loves meeting new people?

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

If this isn't the ultimate use of the web, I know not what is. That is, if you define best use of the eb as an outlet for bored people.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

A now for a finalist! I hate making this choice. I think I'm going to have to go with the Singer book. Mark's entry (Wittgenstein) was really equally as good, but there just wasn't as much of it. I'm not really biased against shorter books. It's just hard to choose sometimes. Round two should be after I come back from Lviv, Ukraine (Early August). (No, I'm not leaving now, just need time to collect the other books and stay within my book budget)
Looks like there are some good titles for round two, so I have high expectations.
Under pressure from certain parties I will now finish round one of my contest book reviews. Just to review (extremely weak word play on my part), I accepted ten suggestions for great books from you, my delightful readers. For my convenience I'm splitting the entries into 2 groups of five, with a finalist from each group.

Review # 4: The Collected Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer

Certainly the longest book of the contest. I don't know if I have made this widely known, but the parsimonious part of my personality prefers longish books. I feel like I'm getting my money's worth. I have never once complained that a book was "too long." So many of the stories in this volume were just terrific that I don't worry about the one's which I didn't enjoy quite as much. The better (IMHO) stories were those set in the small Jewish settlements of Poland. Many of these were similar to children's tales like Grimm's, but often focused on the evils attendent with sexual temptation. One of the back cover reviews mentioned "wry eroticism", but the stories were never titilating. Rather they were full of the wisdom that one finds in, e.g., Proverbs chapter 7. Of course this is but one of many themes in this volume, but I thought it was the strongest and most thought provoking ideas of Mr Singer's writing.

Review #5: Religion and the Rise of Western Culture

A marvelously quick tour of the place of religion in medieval Europe. Traces the history of the ups and downs of the church, both east and west, from the decline of Rome to the 1300's. One serious complaint is that it really was, umm, too short. Each chapter (or some paragraphs) would seem to be good book length studies in themselves. I would have forgiven this if there were some sort of comprehensive bibliography attached, but alas, there was none. Did serve to renew my interest in learning more about medieval Europe.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Hey! Found a lecture by John Perkins we can watch.

Does anyone know someone in Nashville who would consider putting me up for a week (June 28-July 2)? That's when the PTG convention is, and I'd be a lot more likely to go if I could avoid paying for a hotel (plus possibly chat with some fellow believers). Lemme know, wouldja?
I have just (completely on my own) come up with a marvelous way to keep you, my valued reader, entertained. Mt brilliant and original idea is this: I will merely choose at random a nearby book and tell you what I find on page 23 of said book. Let's try it and see how it goes. This is from Mark Leyner's The Tetherballs of Bougainville (note: I feel an odd but unexplainable urge to merely quote the fifth sentence, but this seems so absurd that I will ignore the desire and hope it subsides):

I should be set off by commas. It is a big deal!"

And he grabbed a souvenir scrimshaw engraving tool, which I'd gotten at the New Bedfor Whaling Museum gift shop several summers ago, and he plunged it into his left thigh, I'd say at least two to three inches deep.

"All right, I'll put the commas in," I said.

Dad evinced no sensation of pain, impervious as he was, thanks to the PCP. If anything, impaling his thigh with the scrimshaw graver seemd to mollify him. He certainly made no attempt nor manifested the slightest desire to remove it, and later, while we were trying to come up with a more colloquial way of saying "bound to the wheel of endless propitiation of an unloving and blood-hungry divinity," Dad absently twanged the embedded tool as he mused.

Another fascinating and potentially mitigating factor emerged during my father's trial for killing a security guard who'd apprehended him shoplifting a Cuisinart variable-speed hand blender and a Teflon-coated ice-cream scooper from a vendor's kiosk at an outlet in Secaucas. (The imposition of the death sentence in New Jersey requires "first degree murder with heinous circumstances." In this case it was determined that the weapons used in the commission of the homicide were the purloined instruments themselves--the hand blender and the ice-cream scooper. The lower torso of the security guard, who'd pursued my father into a subterranean parking garage, had been almost totally pureed, the upper torso rendered into a hundred neat balls.) Unbeknownst to me Dad had an extremely rare hypersensitivity to minute levels of gamma radiation. An eminent astrohygienist from Bergen County Community College testified tatonce a day there's a 90-minute gamma ray burst originating from colliding comets within the Milky Way. She was able to link each of my father's most violent episodes (including the grisly murder of the security guard) to a corresponding gamma-ray burst. My father's intolerance was so acute, she contended, that exposure to as little as 15 picorads of gamma radiation resulted in extreme neurological disturbances.

Alright, fine, I went SLIGHTLY onto page 24. So sue me.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

On things no one cares about but me: we had a guest pianist of sorts at church today. I assume she's an undergrad piano student at one of the nearby schools. When I came in at the end of the first service I heard a rather unusual postlude going on. Turnes out to be Debussy's Masques; not a piece I'm familiar with, but a nice change of pace anyhow. Then for the prelude for the 11 service I hear the prelude in F# major from book one of the Bach WTC. This is a piece I play several times a week, usually after each time I tune a piano. Was definately weird to hear something that I can actually PLAY. It's one of the easier pieces in that book. I'm sure you feel better knowing this.