27 March 2009

WHERE I STAND [0]: Introduction

Taking two previously proposed series and combining them into one, I plan to write here about where I stand on various subjects, on issues, and in current debates. While I certainly will have a point of view to explain and back up with at least some rational, I am not an unchanging or unchanged person. I have titled these exercises "WHERE I STAND" because they will speak of my present state of thought.

I have believed and embodied different things in the past and guess what, I probably will to some degree in the future. As a friend and I discussed earlier this week, the older we get not only are we made more aware of the possibilities of what to know we also become less certain, or at least dogmatic, about a lot of what we believed/knew before. Does that make me "loosey-goosey" in my beliefs, unable to make a decision on anything? No, not at all but I do spend more time thinking before I decide and speak, though as many of you know not quite enough time. Even as we "decide" I hope our goal is to know more and ultimately toward as much truth as possible. Eager, curious, and questioning discussion is key, not proud debate. There is always more to learn.

Part one coming soon.

22 March 2009

IMG Worship Songs: March 22 2009 (+ video)


We had a great morning at Inner Metro Green, though we dearly missed some friends who have been on our journey for a long time.

Here are the songs from this morning's service at IMG. Jonathan Sigmon joined me making his debut on electric guitar while Keith Slesser, on half of our usual worship musicians, delivered a great talk about the book of Job. Sigmon wrote a really pretty accompaning part for a newly finished song "Lord Christ" which boosted my confidence in the tune a bit. Thanks Siggy!

PSALM 13 (HOW LONG O LORD) - Brian Doerksen
/ Steve & Karen Mitchinson / Daphne Rademaker
Communion: LORD CHRIST - Chris Flinchbaugh

Here is a video (courtesy of metrogreentv.com) of part of our Sunday service which contains the new song. Yeah, I forgot the note at the beginning of each chorus but otherwise I think it set well for the Eucharist. Unfortunately technology captured neither his preface to communion here nor his great sermon. I guess we'll just have to use primitive brain power.

16 March 2009

Washington Post: A Gate-Crasher's Change of Heart

A friend and I have been talking about the practicalities of Jesus centered, and otherwise, non-violence vs the theory of redemptive violence when it comes to issues of personal conflict and even those of the state. How we deal with these conflicting approaches, it so happens, colors our theologies and worldviews pretty heavily - one through the other depending on how it works for you. Important? Seems to be. For now I offer a recent (not Gandhi) real world (no Jedi mind tricks) example of one of both of these theories in play. Don't think the theory of redemptive violence was involved? What do you think the gunman was trying for one way or another? Redemption. Redemption of his act toward goods for food, redemption of lost wages toward paying a bill, redemption of lost trust toward buying a present for his little girl... We don't know, but most likely it was some flawed attempt at redemption now matter how twisted the mode.

Some of you may have read this article via other postings or heard about from my never stopping mouth but I am determined to keep it in circulation.

A Gate-Crasher's Change of Heart
The Guests Were Enjoying French Wine and Cheese on a Capitol Hill Patio. When a Gunman Burst In, the Would-Be Robbery Took an Unusual Turn.
By Allison Klein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 13, 2007; Page B01

A grand feast of marinated steaks and jumbo shrimp was winding down, and a group of friends was sitting on the back patio of a Capitol Hill home, sipping red wine. Suddenly, a hooded man slid in through an open gate and put the barrel of a handgun to the head of a 14-year-old guest.

"Give me your money, or I'll start shooting," he demanded, according to D.C. police and witness accounts.

The five other guests, including the girls' parents, froze -- and then one spoke.

"We were just finishing dinner," Cristina "Cha Cha" Rowan, 43, blurted out. "Why don't you have a glass of wine with us?"

The intruder took a sip of their Chateau Malescot St-Exupéry and said, "Damn, that's good wine."

The girl's father, Michael Rabdau, 51, who described the harrowing evening in an interview, told the intruder, described as being in his 20s, to take the whole glass. Rowan offered him the bottle. The would-be robber, his hood now down, took another sip and had a bite of Camembert cheese that was on the table.

Then he tucked the gun into the pocket of his nylon sweatpants.

"I think I may have come to the wrong house," he said, looking around the patio of the home in the 1300 block of Constitution Avenue NE.

"I'm sorry," he told the group. "Can I get a hug?"

Rowan, who lives in Falls Church and works part time at her children's school, stood up and wrapped her arms around him. Then it was Rabdau's turn. Then his wife's. The other two guests complied.

"That's really good wine," the man said, taking another sip. He had a final request: "Can we have a group hug?"

The five adults surrounded him, arms out.

11 March 2009

NEW MUSIC: St Vincent - "The Strangers"

New St Vincent music from the lovely Annie Clark makes me happy. The album ACTOR will be out May 5. Enjoy.

08 March 2009

Thoughts on Bill Maher's RELIGULOUS


Tonight Megan and I watched Bill Maher's (REAL TIME w/ Bill Maher) film on religion called RELIGULOUS. You might find this odd, but I've been looking forward to this film since I first heard about it almost a year ago. Why? I have found that often Bill's critics are a little more unfair towards Bill's witty criticisms rationality than Bill is when he gets off track. Oh you bet he gets a little over the top but what do you expect, he's an comedic entertainer but a thought provoking one for sure. Perhaps that is why he is so demonized . Do you remember in the weeks after 9/11 when he set the record straight on people calling the terrorists directly responsible for the attacks "cowards"? Bill was right, their acts were heanous but they certainly weren't cowardly. Bill's show at the time, POLITICALLY INCORRECT, was ultimately cancelled because of that statement and the advertising withdrawal that followed. So, it is true, I like Bill Maher's rationalism even if I don't always think the often mocking icing on the cake is helpful.

RELIGULOUS did a good job of making fun of fundamentalist religion in many of its forms. Bill often made valid observations regarding the absurdity of doctrines and the way in which the religions' followers alternately have attempted to follow teachings as close as possible and skimp on the really hard stuff. Unfortunately the amount of theatrical editing-in of religious reenactment footage into interviews and other scenes made Bill's reasonable points come off as snobby and sensationalist.

Megan pointed out that he spent very little time with religious moderates who, I think, may have enlightened Bill's understanding of certain theology with yet others which can and do support more rational, and yet no less spiritual or Jesus-centered in my case, points of view. I say "Jesus-centered" because more time is spent in the film talking about the religions of the of the Bible than any others and because Bill's knowledge of Jesus' teachings seem to better than my own growing up going to church at least twice a week, on youth group leadership teams, and playing in the worship music band.

I recommend the film as entertainment and hope that those of serious faith might also thoughtfully consider Bill's, and many other's like him, relevant questions concerning what we proclaim as irrefutable and essential in our faiths. What things truly are at the centers of our walks? Are they the correct things?

Three out of five stars.

Available now on DVD.

04 March 2009

A return to blogging

Today is my third wedding anniversary. "Happy Anniversary Megan! I got you me sick in bed today as a gift! I hope you like it." Yeah, fun. Two days in a row I've gone to work and ended up back home after a few hours. Not tomorrow though, I'm determined. BTW, I really like being married to Megan. She truly is wonderful.

If I don't chicken out, over the next few months I will be posting two alternating blog series: Things I Believe In: ___________ and Things I Don't Believe In: ____________ . I suspect that I sometimes will write at length while at others I will be as brief as possible. Don't expect deep subjects every time but I am sure occasionally I will surprise even myself. Hopefully there will be some conversation to fill in the gaps.

On to other things. Lately I have returned to comic book reading. After searching through my mid 90's issues of THE FLASH to find a particular artist's (Oscar Jimenez) run to compare to one of the classic Spanish artists we had seen at the Guggenheim, I rediscovered the fun, mystery, and moral struggles found in Mark Waid's writing and comics in general.

Presently I find myself immersed in very polar titles: WATCHMEN and JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA. The later is Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's famous 80's dark maxi-series that deconstructed the superhero concept and sparked more attention for more adult themed comic books and graphic novels. You will be able to see a film version starting this Friday in theaters but you undoubtably already knew that. Without ruining the story, in WATCHMEN the public lose faith and trust in the heroes and the heroes do in-kind. The results aren't pleasant. No kidding.

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA deals with a rather large cast of heros made up both of founding members from as early as the 1940s to teenagers newly discovering their powers, what their roles are in the world, and sometimes what it means to take on the moniker of a hero past with all the baggage and former glories attached. The JSA originally disbanded post WWII as "most of the Society chose to disband and retire rather than appear in front of the fictional Joint Un-American Activities Committee, which demanded that they unmask themselves...". Sound familiar? [In actuality readers became more interested in western (cowboys etc) comics than masked superpowered heroes.]

A great difference between JSA and WATCHMEN is that the individual heroes didn't all remain out of commission and more importantly they didn't let the fear manipulated public opinion change the kind of justice they defended and enforced. In the most recent series the teams theme can be, and is often, summarized as "the world needs better heroes." Sappy? Sure, but it does. In the DC comics world it is the JSA led by a cast of experienced but not quite jaded do-gooders. I wonder who will finally take the lead in our real one.

A bonus for, at least, the first 26 issues has been the majestic painted cover art (and occasional interior art and story ideas) by Alex Ross. See his and Mark Waid's masterpiece KINGDOM COME for a wonderful take on the hero mythos intertwined with Biblical text and themes.

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