30 December 2005

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SUBVERSIVE CHRISTIANITY Most recently I finished this short and packed-full work by Brian Walsh. For those of you familiar with Walter Brueggemann's THE PROPHETIC IMAGINATION, this work makes a great companion piece as it sets loose many of Brueggemann's concepts, based on the prophet Jeremiah, in modern Western history and is certainly easier to read though no less devestating. Even for those looking for an introduction to those topics, perhaps with less an eye for Brueggemann's sometimes thick style shoud give this and Walsh's more recent work with Sylvia Keesmaat, COLOSSIANS REMIXED: SUBVERTING THE EMPIRE.

All are available and recommended from my favorite book store Hearts and Minds. These are books for a New Year. These are books that truly call us to celebrate the coming of the Christ in what He enables if we only will grasp for it.

Every one of Brian Walsh's read books have changed my mind and slowly that is seeping through into my life.

08 December 2005

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Two weeks ago I finally rented this eye opening quality film on Robert McNamera's present and past perspectives on the Vietnam war, his time with the Ford Motor Company, and serving in WWII. This is was certainly the best spent time in front of a television screen in a long while. I strongly urge you to check it out the next time you are going to watch a movie even if you seldom like documentaries; this one is is brillantly put together. And for those of you wondering, it is NOT really an anti-war movie at least not in any obvious sense. That is all up to what the viewer does with the information. Oh! I almost forgot, Philip Glass did the score. Mmmmmmmmmm.

Check out the trailer and site:
www.sonyclassics.com/fogofwar


Other films I have viewed in the recent monthes:

THE LAST TEMPTATION OF JESUS CHRIST - Does not warrant the controversy if viewed the whole way through. Yet on the whole it is rather long and somewhat pointless seeming and there is plenty left unquestioned that still rub me wrong about it even though I know it isn't intended as anything but fiction.

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY - Tim Burton's reimagining of the Dahl classic. I felt that the look and majority of the film's feeling was spot on but the OMPA-LOMPAs really annoyed me and occassionally the framing of the picture in the factory was a little claustraphobic. Not a really great use of time.

BORN INTO BROTHELS - Not the dark and convicting film that I thought it would be. Others I know feared this as well which is why it has taken me so long to see it and why they still haven't. Really this movie was a joy to watch even as the film went on and the setting came to the fore. Recommended.

26 October 2005

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From today's Prism ePistle:

HOW CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY IS DIFFERENT FROM ROOMING WITH FRIENDS
by Sarah Jobe

When I first tried to describe our “Christian House of Hospitality” to my sister, the conversation ended something like this:

Lisa: So basically, you’re just living with your friends.
Me: Well, not exactly. We keep space open for people who need a place to stay.
Lisa: Well, yeah, we let people crash on our couch, too.

And it got me thinking. How is Christian community any different from just rooming with friends? I have lived with other people my entire life: my family, roommates, then housemates. We loved each other and tried to hold each other accountable. We talked about God and sometimes prayed together. We screwed up, fought, and forgave each other. And if someone we knew needed help, we were sometimes willing to open our doors, our table, our wallets, and our beds.

So how’s that any different from my life now? Well, in a lot of ways, it’s no different at all. God gives us this communal way of living because God knows we will flourish, we will become our best selves, when we live and work together. Because giving and receiving from one another is how we were created to live, there is something inside us that drives us to those kinds of practices naturally. Poverty can also force people to these practices naturally. If you don’t have much, you quickly learn to depend on others, share space and resources, and pray daily for your needs to be met. One reason Jesus favored poverty was because he knew that the poor could engage in communal life much more easily than the rich.

But poverty can also make us guarded and manipulative. College roommates might sometimes look like Christian community, but eventually someone will come along who you can’t welcome — after all, you never know who might steal your laptops. While we can surely stumble onto communities of hospitality without naming them as such, our practices become more deep, consistent, and simply possible when we self-consciously claim our communities for Christ’s welcoming, inter-dependent, prayerful living. I’ve noticed that when we do claim our communities for Christ, there is one notable difference from when we are simply living with roommates: our level of intentionality. That is, we do what we do on purpose.

Intentionality is important because while Christian communal practices may be good for us, they can also be hard and are often counter to what our culture assumes. You may happen to pray with your housemates, but if you don’t set specific time(s) aside each day, things come up, people lose interest, or you simply forget. You may naturally hold your roommates accountable for their ethical decisions, but if you haven’t made an intentional commitment to give and receive such comments, a roommate’s critique may seem petty, jealous, and unwelcome. Accountability is hard — it’s hard to tell someone you see her going down a harmful path. Without an intentional commitment to engage in such difficult conversations, the most difficult (and most important) comments are more easily left unsaid.

Finally, welcoming the stranger is hard, too. You may naturally welcome folks into your home for meals or to crash on your couch, but sustained commitment to welcoming any and all of God’s children can only happen when a whole community is committed to the practice and the support of one another in the difficulties of that practice. Welcoming people to meals means spending double or triple what you would normally spend on food. Welcoming anyone into your home means running the risk of lost property or even harm to yourself.

Welcoming a person off the street means welcoming their needs, their legal and medical problems, and their lack of transportation. Such radical hospitality runs against the grain of what our culture tells us about security and self-reliance. While radical hospitality might be naturally somewhere deep inside of us, I truly believe we need intentional communities to help us engage in this widely-condemned welcoming. If you’ve simply slipped into Christian hospitality without knowing it as such, you might miss the best part: meeting Christ in the face of another person every single day. Because I know why we do what we do, my eyes are opened to see Jesus hiding in all of our practices. Because I know that our table fellowship is made possible only by Christ’s giving of his body and blood, I see Jesus when we sit down together to eat. Because I know that we pray not simply out of necessity, but because Jesus taught us to pray, I can hear Jesus in my housemate’s recitation of our Lord’s prayer. Because I know that Jesus said when we welcome the stranger, we welcome him, I have the honor and privilege of meeting Jesus each day in those whose needs so quickly overwhelm me.


Because I know that we are striving together to be the body of Christ and not simply roommates, I can begin to see Christ in myself. I can begin to see my own inexplicable, astonishing worth as I see the Christ in me — and that’s a pretty big change from any way I’ve lived before. So while Christian Houses of Hospitality might be friends rooming together, and while friends rooming together might naturally engage in practices of hospitality, I ultimately think that the claiming of communities for Christ makes a difference: a difference in intentionality that visibly shapes the community’s life, and the blessed difference of having our eyes opened to seeing Christ in all we do.


Sarah Jobe lives in Rutba House, an intentional Christian community in North Carolina.

13 October 2005

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"Thoughts on Confession..."
A Key to Freedom: Thoughts on Confession and Related Topics
by Johann Christoph and Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

This came in from the Bruderhof folks this morning. Is it any wonder we have such trouble pushing onward toward Christ's goals for our lives when the practices spoken of here have largely been lost? Do we really desire to live truthfully in the light of Christ? If we do, acting on it we will find hard sacrifice rewarded by wonderful fellowship and open dialogue with our brothers, sisters, and Lord. Read and work on.

12 October 2005

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Megan Kaufman and I will be married March 4, 2006 at The Ephrata Cloister in The Saal ("meeting house") there. We are very excited to be stumbling onto wonderful places, items, and people as we plan this very special day not to mention the foreseeable future. If I continue to write less this is why. Rest assured that there is and will be much to tell. In the meantime tell each other stories of your day while you can still remember them.

28 September 2005

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"Blindly Taking-On and Using Labels Without Qualifiers"
For a quite a while now I've wanted to write a blog concerning the often blind labels of conservative and liberal, the assumption in many circles that there are only two political perspectives -- on CNN Headline News last week I heard the phrase "members of both parties were there" without a qualifier as to which two parties they were referring -- , and the idea that any of those labels would actually mesh with the teachings of Christ and the interests of the Kingdom of God. This response letter to the weekly email newsletter from Ron Sider's organization that I receive will have to do for now.
PRISM ePistle - Wednesday September 28, 2005
Dear ePistle,
I beg to differ with Ron Schott's categories in his letter on "conservative" and "liberal" thought in last week's ePistle. There are many things wrong with reducing political thought to two simple categories of "conservative" and "liberal."

First, the words themselves can cause dangerous confusion to Christians when we fail to make the distinction between political conservatism/liberalism and THEOLOGICAL conservatism/liberalism - the desired distinction being between thought that takes God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible seriously and does not consider that they need to "adapt" to the modern day, and thought that subordinates these realities to human reason and sometimes is simply a religious cloak for practical atheism. Perhaps this is what Mr. Schott means when he says "conservative thought" leads one to submission to Jesus Christ.

But to equate this sort of faithfulness to our timeless faith to plain political conservatism is a mistake on many levels. The word "conservative", spoken in a political context in the U.S., means a number of things that ought to be considered SEPARATELY. For instance, if it is true that doctors who object to abortion should not be forced to refer patients for abortions, does this necessarily entail that taxes should or should not be lowered, that U.S. farmers should or should not be subsidized, or that federal regulations should or should not limit the activities of large corporations? These matters are not inherently related to each other, nor do they, as a group, have such an obvious & clear connection to Christ that we can know He takes the same line on all of them.

The use of the words "conservative" and "liberal" as though they represented grand unifying worldviews or even states of mind (eg. conservatism as hard-heartedness, liberalism as the idea that nothing is anybody's fault, etc) is a fallacy that does nothing but worsen the polarization we're experiencing now. And to tie these "positions" to faith or faithlessness makes it even worse. We now think we know everything about a person, including their relationship to the unseen & utterly free Maker of us all, as soon as we hear their opinion on one Current Issue.

We desperately need to come out of our boxes and listen directly to the words of Jesus Christ. It may be true that subservience to the government is incompatible with subservience to Christ, but if so, might that not also mean (not a "conservative" thought) that if Christ commands us to love our enemies the government has no right to command us to kill them?
- Heather Munn (Champaign, IL)

22 September 2005

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"A short update. "

On the 10th Paul Roby and Megan Corigan were married at the beautiful Peace Church in Camp Hill accompanied by a reading of I Corinthians 13, a harp player, a Springsteen song, a reading of The Gift of Love, and about 140 people. They are off on a cruise at present and I look forward to seeing them upon return. This weekend, tomorrow, I leave for Cincinnati to attend and play in Kim Nixon and Matthias Beyer's wedding at Old St George church which I have heard so much about. I am so looking forward to seeing dear friends and sites there who I have missed. I wish Megan (Kaufman) could go with me but it just won't work with me leaving Friday morning and she having students to teach. Tonight I do get to see her though. :)

I played keyboard for Nathan Horst's worship team last night at Life Center. Mostly did organ, wurlitzer, and string sounds and was generally ok with how it went taking into account the lack of practice and knowledge of this particular keyboard - Yamaha MOTIF 8. It certainly didn't hurt that I had a stellar group of musicians to work with.

Last weekend Megan and I ate some amazing food at Cedars, a Lebanese resteraunt, in the midtown district of Harrisburg. Afterward we watched PEACE, PROPAGANDA AND THE PROMISED LAND: THE U.S. MEDIA AND THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT at the Midtown Cinema which had a Palestinian film festival running (three films). Good film though could have used more background on the conflict instead of the last twenty minutes of mostly harping on the same stuff over and over again. Certainly the film has encouraged me to use the BBC more as a news source at least on this subject.

06 September 2005

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"Berry on Fidelity (or What It is Not)"

To me, this is completely revelatory. It fills in a gap with so much where-as I only knew my understanding was lacking and had no idea where to start.

"Fidelity

... The idea of fidelity is perverted beyond redemption by understanding it as a grim, literal duty enforced only by willpower. This is the 'religious' insanity of making a victim of the body as a victory of the soul. Self-restraint that is so purely negative is self-hatred. And one cannot be good, anyhow, just by not being bad. To be faithful merely out of duty is to be blinded to the possibility of a better faithfulness for better reasons.

It is reasonable to suppose, if fidelity is a virtue, that it is a virtue with a purpose. A purposeless virtue is a contradiction in terms. Virtue, like harmony, cannot exist alone; a virtue must lead to harmony between one creature and another. To be good for nothing is just that. If a virtue has been thought a virtue long enough, it must be assumed to have practical justification - though the very longevity that proves its practicality may obscure it. That seems to be what happened with the idea of fidelity. We heard the words 'forsaking all others' repeated over and over again for so long that we lost the sense of their practical justification. They assumed the force of superstition: people came to be faithful in marriage not out of any understanding of the meaning of faith or of marriage, but out of the same fear of obscure retribution that made one careful not to break a mirror or spill the salt. Like other superstitions, this one was weakened by the scientific, positivist intellectuality of modern times and by the popular 'sophistication' that came with it. Our age could be characterized as a manifold experiment in faithlessness, and if it as yet produced no effective understanding of the practicalities of faith, it has certainly produced massive evidence of the damage and disorder of absence. ..."

- from the essay The Body and the Earth collected in THE UNSETTLING OF AMERICA and THE ART OF THE COMMONPLACE (p115-116)

And, of course, there is much more of value after that.

05 September 2005

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"The Berry That I Promised"

A now underlined section from a dense and overflowing essay in the Wendell Berry collection that I have been reading of late:

"Competition

By dividing body and soul, we divide both from all else. We thus condemn ourselves to a loneliness for which the only compensation is violence - against other creatures, against the earth, against ourselves. For no matter the distinctions we draw between body and soul, body and earth, ourselves and others - the connections, the dependences, the indentities remain. And so we fail to contain or control our violence. It gets loose. Though there are categories of violence, or so we think, there are no categories of victims. Violence against one is ultimately violence against all. The willingness to abuse other bodies is the willingness to abuse one's own. To damage the earth is to damage your children. To despise the ground is to despise its fruit; to despise the fruit is to despise its eaters. The wholeness of health is broken by despite. ..."

- from the essay The Body and the Earth collected in THE UNSETTLING OF AMERICA and THE ART OF THE COMMONPLACE (p102).

01 September 2005

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"A Recluttering"

Tuesday night I stopped over my old place in Shiremanstown, which my mom was just about moved out of, intending to be there only the thirty minutes or so that it would take to pack boxes into my car and head home. All told it took about three hours. I was in the attic for quite a while sweating-through every area of my skin and into my work clothes as I went through boxes of old magazines, paper, comic books, school papers, and family stuff. This is mostly stuff that I hadn't been missing and won't once I choose what I do want to keep and discard/donate the rest. Nice found surprises: issues of PRIZM from the late 90s that I must have picked up at some of the more edgy Christian music concerts I attended, a few drawings that remind me that once upon a time I had a small amount of talent in that area, and A RAISIN IN THE SUN which I don't even remember reading. My mom and I then drove all of these things to my place and quickly carried them up my stairs and into the end of the hall outside my room where they call out to me "You are going to trip over us until you sort us out and you deserve it for what you did (store us away for so long) and will do (get rid of us) to us!"

Megan started teaching on Monday and she does like it so far. We spent Monday night together eating burritos and then at her place. She looked amazing in what she wore for her first day of school but I won't even try to do it justice in description here. I am pleased to say that the drive from Lancaster (there) to Harrisburg (here) really doesn't seem that long and, of course, is totally worth it even with the climbing petroleum prices. Saturday afternoon I will really feel the force of the fuel crisis with my traveling to see Coldplay in New Jersey. Thankfully my mind will be otherwise occupied with the excitement of actually going to the show for free, getting to talk to so many people about fair trade, and riding the wave of glee home anxious to sleep before I must awake early to lead the worship service Sunday morning.

This last week and those to come this month are so full: weddings and their related activities, a record to mix, time with Megan, work at Sears, house church, my Mom's move, and things I haven't found adequate time for. I read a little bit of Wendell Berry last week which I will post soon. He really gets me excited about what is just outside my door, under my feet, and all around sprouting from the ground. It is good to realize and appreciate the wonders of creation.

I am trying write here more often. Your responses and comments do encourage me... whether you like it or not. Haha.


P.S. I should say that Pat Robertson did apologize for his rash statement concerning Chavez but not after claiming that he didn't say it and then that his words were taken out of context. Those last two details are what concern me. So now we need an apology for lying too. Though aren't we all guilty of this kind of cover up? I am.

24 August 2005

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"Assasination, Broken Flowers, a New Record, Good Design, and a Man Named Brueggemann"

Yesterday morning I awoke to hear recountings of Pat Robertson's, former Republican Presidential primary candidate and current 700 Club host of the Christian Broadcasting Network, comments calling the United States government to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. I wasn't so much shocked by the statement but more grieved that once again Christ has been so grossly misrepresented by a prominent church spokesperson, if only self- and media-appointed.

Megan and I talked about it a little last night over the phone before bed. I was having trouble figuring out why Robertson would pick Chavez over a number of other international leaders. To me it seemed quite random. She mentioned that since Chavez has been so outspoken in his criticism of the Bush administration that Robertson's statement likely was a response to defend a party associate from one GOP heavy-hitter to another. From a nationalist/blanket pro-United States, GOP party loyalist, and greater security standpoint this kind of statement makes some sense but as a follower of Christ?

THIS is why nationalism and its littler, more meekly named, brother patriotism are so dangerous ESPECIALLY for Christian brothers and sisters. These are dominant mind-sets of our secular world and they can and will co-opt what should be our Christian alternative consciousness if we give them ground through lip service and blind association. Here is a good response that I found linked in today's PRISM email:
Tuesday 08/23/05 Pat Robertson: Kill Chavez! . To this I say, as others have, "Amen" and add that I will be keeping our brother in prayer. I hope you are able to do the same.


In other less serious news, we went to see, the new Jim Jarmusch directed Bill Murray movie, BROKEN FLOWERS at the Midtown Cinema Friday night. Overall it was enjoyable but it really seemed to lack content. Now I realize that people said that about LOST IN TRANSLATION which I loved. The difference there was that film did an excellent job at taking scenes simply containing travel in a taxi and not just making them look good but actually making them an integral part to the feeling of being lost in a strange, colorful, and almost fantasy filled place. I would say that BROKEN FLOWERS is worth renting if you are a Murray fan and don't mind wading through for a couple of rewarding film moments. Then again, Megan and I might have been a bit hopped up on coffee. We had a great time no matter and always do!

Farewell Flight, who I have filled-in for in the past and whose current and former roster are all friends of mine, have a new website up designed by Kristin Royer at Computers Speak French. Also I heard that they played quite a set at Purple Door. Way to go guys! Check them out while they still play locally: www.farewellflight.com .

For those of you who care about these types of things: You can legally listen to the entire new Death Cab for Cutie record at http://www.mtvu.com/music/the_leak/death_cab_for_cutie/plans/ a whole week early. Enjoyable.

I am presently reading Walter Brueggemann's THE PROPHETIC IMAGINATION. A fine work thus far especially helpful in tandem with COLOSSIANS REMIXED: SUBVERTING THE EMPIRE as it's authors draw heavily on Brueggemann's idea of dominant and alternative imaginations and I myself can't help from speaking of it often in my conversation. Highly recommended even if the writing style can be a tad dense. Visit Hearts and Minds Books in Dallastown PA for these books and other excellent and life changing books as recommended by Byron Borger and his staff.

Almost forgot to mention... As a result of past and present reading, prompting in our spirits, and much prayer and discussion Megan Kaufman and myself have decided to go vegan. So far it has been very rewarding and encouraging to realize the kind of things we can accomplish together that seem so difficult on our own. Highlight substitute food so far: Just Like Honey Rice Nectar.

13 August 2005

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After working a short day at Sears I made my way over to the studio at LCMI where I prepared the studio -- found lighting for the booth, setup mics, made rough mixes ready to overdub onto, rounded up percussion objects, moved around sound-proofing, and ran cables -- for percussion and backing vocal overdubs for Kim Zimmerman's album. Kim Zimmerman, Kim Miller (guitars), and Jim Smith (percussion, vocals) found the studio a little after 6pm at which time we set to work. Congas, shaker, tambourine, rainstick and other mood percussions were added to all tracks but one and we will likely go back later to add djembe to a few. It seems that the overdub booth's ceiling responds to the low end of the djembe by rattling. That is not what we want captured in 24 bit high quality wave files on record. So we will do that elsewhere if the problem is not solved. Experimenting with and deciding on percussion parts really is fun. Especially when there is a large tool chest to choose from. It is amazing how small of a change in a part can clutter or clarify a groove or moment in a song.

Fun night, but now I am tired. Good weekend to you.

31 July 2005

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Listening to N.T. Wright speak from sometime in the past few years while folding my laundry.
"Understanding and Implementing Jesus' Gospel in the Present" is the title which, among other great talks, can be downloaded from
http://www.emergentvillage.com/ for free.

"Jesus accomplished something which the early church then implemented...
... an achievement [that] then has to be worked through"

He goes on to compare the relationship that Jesus has with Paul/church (of the time AND today) to that of a composer and the conductor/orchestra; we, the church, need to be true to perform the piece which has already been written. Some others call it "living out a narrative" or "in a story". And we all are doing it, rightly and wrongly, whether we know it or not. It's worth your time to listen to I think.

current reading: THE UPSIDE-DOWN KINGDOM by Donald B. Kraybill

22 July 2005

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"North of Frackville"

A little over a week ago I played bass for
Farewell Flight at the Camp Hill Borough Building for a United Way benefit. The best of the other acts performing was Koji on the Roof. Not only did Andrew (who IS the band essentially) somehow manage to hush the crowd with simply his acoustic guitar and soft voice, he took us away to a beautiful place with his songs. A place that we often forget to live, where the details of life are strangely intermingled and even when they don't completely please us are still marvelous in their conectivity and richness of color. I recommend Koji.

We spent some time after the show having dinner with Andrew and some other show attendees. August 6 there was to be a day of music at Lower Paxton Community Center which Andrew asked me to play on the acoustic stage. It's been moved to the 20th. I am really looking forward to playing out some new songs since it's been a while. Pushes me to write a bit more as well and to record even a short new collection.... Yikes, I just found out that Farewell Flight is playing Purple Door that day and I should be there to help. Hmmmm. I guess we'll see.

This Sunday I am leading the music for the worship service down in York as Nathan and Katie Horstare visiting family. Joining me will be the multi-talented Aaron Royer and Suzanna Espamer who has a vocal flair beyond her years. There is this Cindy Rethmeier song that I've wanted to do for so long. It's called "You're the One I Love" and it's gorgeously simple.

Megan has been moving into her apartment over the past week. Tuesday, after waking up very early to walk to Lancaster Central Market and eating a wonderfully full breakfast with food from there, we drove north two hours a bit beyond Frackville to Megan's aunt's place to pick up some furniture and visit. They have a trout farm/hatchery there that we got a quick tour of. It's one of the last hatcheries not to use chemicals their process. Megan and I were very proud for this. I also met their three horses having lured them with a bag of carrots out of their stalls into the humid fly-filled outside air. To be fair to the air, it was the horses that attracted the flys. We arrived back in Lancaster where Megan's furniture had just arrived an hour and a half late. Thankfully her Mom stuck around. Furniture is hard to arrange in an unlived-in room with blank walls and so we are sure that the shape will change but for now, the last of four (or five) arrangements we were happy enough with. Or at least we were too sweaty and tired to continue.

A friend of mine, Travis Miller, had an incident with his motorcycle Monday night. It somehow ended up on top of him with the handlebar either slammed against the front of his torso or into it, not sure still. He had to have his spleen removed and part of his pancreas and did spend some time in the ICU after surgery but they are now sure that he will be fine. I found out through a very indirect chain of people with sketchy info. I only knew that the accident happened for less than an hour before I got the rest of the story that he'd be alright. What a strange period of time. If you think of it, keep the Miller family in your prayers. It's always a rough time.

26 June 2005

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Sunday June 26, 2005

Today I am listening to Public Radio much as I rest having strained a muscle in my back. Thankfully it's feeling much better than this morning. Earlier, I sat in the sun writing about distractions (possible and certain) in my life and what proper place they may have if any. Now inside, my laundry is half done and I stumbled upon this lovely segment online about Dorothy Day, Walker Percy, Thomas Merton, and Flannery O'Connor. It's called "Faith Fired By Literature". Here is the link:
http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/faithfiredbylit/index.shtml

It is calming and beautiful in it's necessity and order to fold laundry and with it to sing, especially on a Sunday, of the marvelousness of the life that our God has gifted us.

16 June 2005

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"Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan ?" June 16, 2005

Here are the results of the theology worldview quiz that I took. I must admit that I had never considered many of the questions asked and it should be noted that the way some of them were worded might cause individuals to infer radically different meanings.

I am still reading COLOSSIANS REMIXED, greatly concerned with worldview, and have decided to not be scared of it's implications on my life which are certain upon reading further and faster. Don't get me wrong, I believe in really taking to to meditate on text with true insight - as this is for me - but at this point I am just stalling. I know full well that I can do adequate study and pick up the pace at the same time.

I ran into Tom Sipling over the weekend. It's always a wonderful surprise to see him and get caught up in the conversation of where we are being led individually and as the body of Christ. Such an encouragement. We talked about how we so fear "taking the leap" (not marriage) that we are called to because 1. we don't feel completely certain of the path or feel that we are prepared just yet, 2. we are sure there is now and will always be someone better qualified to fill this role better, 3. we are still SO messed up and we would likely do more harm than good, or 4. we are just scared to step out of our societal and churched conditioning. Personally recently I've experienced the rewards of taking the chance and the new world it has brought... thanks Megan. We must push eachother to do this as a community of believers. Not that every oppurtunity is THE one to take but we will know which are from living in real fellowship/discipleship/acountability (= community of some sort) with eachother. We must. I must. Let's get going.

Here are the quiz results:

"You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavliy by John Wesley and the Methodists."

Try yourself: What's Your Theological Worldview?

24 February 2005

Clementine Skys and Fasting

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Since noon the snow has continued to pour from the sky: now glowing a shade of clementine which is strange for it being night now. Strange but wonderful. I wish I could drink it with snow flakes peppered on top and twinkling throughout. What flavor it would have! Instead I have boiled some water mixed with... water to drink.

Today Luke Foley and I started a monthly practice of a one day water only fast dedicating the day to prayer, intentional acts of worship, discerning God's will for us personally, and seeking His heart. The 21st is to be our normal day unless we forget, again.

Fasting, most often in relationship to food, is something that was frequently preached and partaken of in the church I grew up and served in. In high school I remember sharing lunch period with a friend/fellow youth leader who would remind me of the fast that day as my mouth was full of hot dog. There were other times that we convinced each other to eat so we might perform better on tests or be better musicians that night. We obviously were missing the point of our exercise. Sacrifice without filling the void for the short term is an important step into discipline but long term it brings death to that area. In this fasting I was attempting something Biblical but it set on my personal spiritual foundation which was sadly wanting.

I'm not sure if "to get" or "to hear" should always be the goal with fasting, in fact I am sure of it. That is something I have seen widespread in the church from prayer, to worship songs, and especially when it comes to any kind of physical sacrifice which fasting is. Having God's divine spirit invade our space seems about right but what does that mean? I guess it comes down to that as humans we have expectations for things which because of ambition we often can't help. So that is ok. We should tell our Father what we seek and then let go of it so that we might commune with Him. Let Him surprise us. Let He be the one that "frames" our set apart time together. I think God will blessed in this.

In all the things that we do, we do if for no other reason:
"1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever. 2 Let Israel say: ' His love endures forever.' 3 Let the house of Aaron say: 'His love endures forever.' 4 Let those who fear the Lord say: 'His love endures forever.' " Psalms 118:1-4 (NIV)

Water boiled tastes different than water cold. Go figure. Drink up.

17 January 2005

MLK Day

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This morning on the way to work I listened to members of the Girl's Choir of Harlem read King's "I Have a Dream" speech on NPR. Three times phrases spoken filled my eyes with water and my being with emotion. Feelings of a want for justice, a sadness for the history, and finally a great hope. Monday morning ALL THINGS CONSIDERED (NPR) stories have stirred me greatly the last two monthes. Interviews with the grief stricken parents of soldiers slain in Iraq have also touched me deeply similar mornings. I wonder if each of these times have been mondays. Is this coming out of the esperience of house church sunday nights? This seems to be the best quess that if nothing else a greater sensitivity towards others and a pushing out of borders of what we consider "community" has taken place. This is something to rejoice for! And still much to look forward to.

House church was at the Horst's yesterday. I was out doing sound for the Farewell Flight boys in Middletown just before and since 3/4 of the band does sunday nights with us we moved the start time to 7pm and went with coffee and left over cake from Nathaniel Horst's first birthday party. Yum! Becca Page joined us last night. She is new in town having lived in State College and attended church there with friends of mine at the Antioch churches there. There is a calming presence that abides with her and still sense of something turning underneath. Must be as it is worthwhile when it comes out. These are my first impressions. It's good to have her along when she can. Nathan and I picked out some songs and we had a time of singing worship in the living room. Doing this was one of my favorite parts of house church in Cincy and our first try here was amazing. There as some spontanious praying and words between songs and so much beautiful expressive singing to God. I felt so unified with my brothers and sisters there that night. It's something that lingers with me now and on my outlook about the church in general. I should post some pictures soon.

12 January 2005

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"Folding It Down and Ascending the Ladder" January 12, 2005

Last night I finally made a new year's resolution solid. Another step forward and upward. On the 3rd I moved my television and dvd player from my room with the intention of storing or using it elsewhere in the house. It instead sat outside my door in the hallway. During it's stay in my bedroom I often found myself switching it on upon coming home as background sound. Quickly it would take over my time. Easily I could spend a few hours (1) watching random sitcoms, (2) news stories that I had already heard covered better on NPR earlier in the day, (3) hour-long dramadies with content not particularly good for my mind tempting me with a reclessness that can be appealing, and (4) on dvds, that despite my discriminating tastes, are still often a waste of money (renting) and time. Neither the time or the money I use are mine. They are God's. I should say though that I will still watch some TV and watch movies just more moderately and with intention as I should all things: my other new years resolution. A big one too.

Continuing my story: Between others using the television downstairs when I wanted to, the dvd player or television being elsewhere, or when wanting to watch a foreign language film which neither of my housemates like I had moved my television and dvd player back into my room two times for a night each. I did catch a great set from Wilco on Austin City Limits (PBS) during one but if I'd gone to sleep instead of that I would have been slightly fresher for waking up at 5am , playing guitar at Life Center for a practice and two services that morning, and for house church which I hosted that night. [We had a great time Sunday morning playing, btw. Ran my Line 6 delay in stereo for the first time too. Big thanks to Johanna and Tiffany for having me along.]

This is getting long... Last night after 11pm I folded down the latter and alone precariously carried my television up into the attic where it now sits beside boxes of out of season clothing, old papers, and other things currently unused. Now if I wanted to use that television I'd HAVE to get someone to help my bring it down and they would likely ask if I really needed it. Perfect!

Megan flew back to Spain on Monday. While here we ate dinner at a decent Viatnamese resteraunt, Viatnamense Garden I think, just down the street from the Midtown Cinema where we saw A VERY LONG ENGAGMENT starring Audrey Tatou and directed by AMELIE creator Jean-Pierre Jeunet. While there are some fun bits in it, don't go expecting another super cute and stylish movie like AMELIE. It's a movie about love held up by war (some of the war scenes are pretty graphic) with a little bit of mystery thrown in. I found the mystery part hard to follow but enjoyed the pay off. We also had dinner with Janelle and Joel Semke last week. Janelle is a fantastic cook. Our conversations kept us at the dinner table long after we finished the meal and dessert. Also received a Christmas gift from Megan, a fairly traded framed painting on cloth from Africa. Near perfect night.

Katie and Nathan Horst made -- that's right, not bought -- for me by hand a scarf! And it took them two trys. I love these people. They constantly inspire me. I am so blessed to have them as friends, occasional band mates, AND fellow housechurch attendees/co-hosts. Nathan and I have started writing for the recording we are doing in conjunction with the
800.000 project. Great things are taking shape. I am happy to be a part SO many quality people. The Horst's son, Nathaniel, will be one year old this weekend. Big party for him on Saturday night. What to bring a person who doesn't read, talk, or walk?

Here's to watching movies with friends and reading and writing much more.

Currently recommended media of worth:
THE LIFE AQUATIC. dir: Wes Anderson. starring: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett... (theatre)
KUNDUN. dir: Martin Scorsese. cinematography: Roger Deakins. music: Philip Glass. (dvd)
GOD'S POLITICS. written by Jim Wallis (editor and founder of Sojourners). Read the introduction and first chapter last night after the move. A very relevant, brand new, and comprehensive work from a truely prophetic and Biblical voice on the topic. (hardcover book)
SLING BLADE original motion picture soundtrack. music by Daniel Lanois and Mark Howard. (cd)
GILMORE GIRLS. The show seems to be back on track this season with more fleshed out town character story arcs, great dialog, and progressivly less reccuring adultry. (WB television)
 
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