09 September 2011

CHURCH AS PORN (?)

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Church as Porn - by George Elerick from Bubble Up TV on Vimeo.

Even as a teenage worship music leader I was bothered by what seemed to be a group obsession with musical orgasmic experience as the ultimate form of Christian worship.George hits on some similar things here and quite provocatively expands on them. I welcome thoughts from the churched and non-churched alike.

08 July 2011

BRIEF THOUGHTS: PATRIOTISM

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I struggle with what most consider patriotism or at least with how it is publicly displayed and regarded. I love my fellow country-people. the good things that have come from this nation throughout history, and many of the grand ideas of the founders, but despite that I still feel like an outsider when the topic comes up. One day perhaps I'll be able to put my finger on it. Until then, this is what I could muster on patriotism for July 4th:

There is a beautiful ethic of oneness that we can all appreciate in patriotism. Redeeming it from a nationalism of better-thans to an open, neighborly gratitude is the tough thing with which we are tasked. May all of our neighbors be blessed today. 
  

18 June 2011

RECIPE: CHOKLADBOLL - COCONUT CHOCOLATE OAT BALL

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This sweet combination of, mainly, chocolate, coffee, sugar, coconut, and oats is often made by children in it's native land of Sweden. My wife and I discovered them for the first time after a long shopping trip at IKEA in their little food market. I think we ate most of the box on the way home. Each time we've been back since we've ended up taking more boxes home with us than we had before. Last time we even found a recipe card for a version of the chokladboll. Making my own excited me to no end.

A few months later I remembered the card and gave it a try. It was good but different. The mousse-like taste I was accustomed to was gone and overall it was a bit dry and not-sweet. I started looking on the internet for other versions and found quite a few. So far I've made it at least five or six ways, and after adjusting each recipe with bits of others, this is the one I've come up with that I love. 

Note: I try to restrict myself to one or two of these a day when they are around. Good luck with that. 


CHOKLADBOLL 


Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups quick oats [generic store brand]

2 cups powdered/confectioners/12x sugar [Wholesome Sweeteners Organic….]

6 Tbsp baking cocoa powder [Equal Exchange Organic, Fair Trade…]

1 tsp vanilla extract [Frontier Organic…] added with the coffee

2/3 cup non-dairy butter [Earth Balance Original…]

8 Tbsp cold, very strong coffee: at least double-strength*

Flaked unsweetened coconut


* With prescribed liquid amount: make using (A) two cups worth of coffee powder brewed, (B) two servings of instant powder dissolved, or (C) espresso shots. Adjust potency as you like. Regular or decaf. 
Process:
1. Brew coffee with one of the above methods.
2. Mix oats, sugar, and cocoa in a large bowl.

3. Incorporate (stir and mash) butter into the dry ingredients until the consistency is even.

4. Combine cold coffee and vanilla extract and add to the mixed ingredients. Mix until incorporated.

5. Line a small bowl or pan with flaked coconut. You can add more as needed.

6. With your hands, roll the dough into 3 cm (1 inch) diameter balls. Resist the urge to make the ball bigger. A quarter size or smaller is ideal both to keep it together and for enjoyment.

7. Roll each ball in the coconut and place on a tray
8. Chill chocolate balls for a few hours before serving. And as long as you can in the summer!

Number of servings: about 30 chokladboll.




The final product.

29 May 2011

WHAT HAPPENS TO MY PROJECTS

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If you ever wonder why I rarely finish the things I start or properly record and/or release almost any of the vast cache of music I have written, here is the answer. Minus the getting drunk part.Warning to the young or easily offended: therein is one swear word.


21 May 2011

BRIEF THOUGHTS: THE ISRAEL/PALESTINE CONFLICT AND CHRISTIANITY

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There has been much talk in the media and among the common person about the unending conflict in Palestine. Self-righteous and religion laced rhetoric has exploded in the wake of last week's speech on the topic by President Obama. If you don't know the details, you can read about it via NPR: http://www.npr.org/2011/05/20/136491809/obamas-ideas-on-israel-face-tough-reception .


The strain of Christianity I grew up in largely saw Israel as always good and the Palestinians, led by Yassir Arafat, as always bad and not on the side of God. As I grew up I started to question this more and more. I don't assume  that stance anymore nor do I assume a stereotypical  "liberal" view of the opposite. Instead I view it politically through the lens of ethics and religiously through arc of the Biblical narrative and the teachings of Jesus and together I end up with something messy and incredibly un-simple. This is how life is and how we must look at any conflict whether it involves our best friend or whom we perceive as our enemy.


Here are some of my brief thoughts, culled from internet discussions, on the Israel/Palestine conflict in how it relates to Christianity in its varied forms.




"The Israelites aren't the original inhibitors of that land nor is anyone that is alive today. 


Notice a major motif of the Biblical narrative is that Israel tries very hard to follow God's way but fails and so over and over again they are removed from the land and/or lorded over by the powerful empire of the time. A specific way that Israel, according to Isaiah and Jeremiah, brings this upon themselves is in how Israel treats the foreigner (or 'the other') living in their own land. Interesting isn't it? And this continues today. I honestly don't think Israel will be at peace until this changes.... that is if you want to take the Biblical narrative as literal and apply it today.


[In the Old Testament of the Bible]... "God's covenant with Israel is always conditional in the Biblical texts. If they don't hold up their end of the bargain God doesn't either. 

Also of note is that while Christians today seem to be rather passionate about Israel taking all of Palestine back even if by force, Jesus, the founder of Christianity, over and over forbade his followers, some of which were part of the violent Zealot freedom fighters, from using violence to reclaim Israel from Rome. As followers of Jesus I find
it curious that many people ... feel they are more entitled than Jesus or His disciples to break with Jesus' Way on this."



08 May 2011

A SUPERHERO SUMMER 2011

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This summer at a theater near you comic book are coming to life. Moving superheros from their known medium with the creators that know them best is a risky endeavor both creatively and financially. The best intentioned and most skilled filmmakers can easily make a mess of a solid character's universe that they either just don't understand or their idea doesn't line up with the times.

With that said, I start with something coming to a regular bookstore near you by one of comics most gifted storytellers and eccentric personalities named Grant Morrison. Grant, having started his Batman work in the late 80s, is most responsible for guiding the major arc of the caped crusader's world for more than the past five years as well as the groundbreaking Animal Man, the modern twelve part classic All-Star Superman, a very fun silver-age styled Flash run, a reinvention of the X-Men franchise, and many many more.

In Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Humanshis debut non-fiction book-length work coming this July, Grant Morrison writes how "these heroes are powerful archetypes whose ongoing, decades-spanning story arcs reflect and predict the course of human existence: Through them we tell the story of ourselves, our troubled history, and our starry aspirations." This I can't wait for and by then we'll know how these next latest film adaptations turned out. 

Being primarily a fan of DC comics I was initially elated to learn that one of my favorite comic scribes, Geoff Johns, was overseeing the production of their film slate including this summer's first Green Lantern film who Johns helped bring back from the bottom of the sales charts in the comic world. The first images of the movie costume, CGI in an odd shade of green, and the frat-boy attitude from Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan highlighted in the initial trailers really had be doubting that this world work. More recently trailers have highlighted the multi-specie space policeman aspect of the comic's mythology which has gotten me at least a little excited about seeing what they can do with it. Yeah I have a lot of doubt about this interpretation, but it'll be nice to see some kind of version on the big screen. I am impressed to see DC go out on a limb on this storied character that up until recently was considered B-list (see my post on Blackest Night).


Without a doubt though, Marvel Comics will make the biggest bang this summer with three films starring three A-list characters: Thor, Captain America, and the X-Men. Both Thor and Captain America have received great response from avid comic readers based on clips and trailers not to mention all the excitement over their team's franchise, The Avengers, which is slated to be released in summer 2012. And while X-Men: First Class, the fourth or fifth in the franchise if you count the Wolverine film, garnered a lot of skepticism based on a perceived lack of respect for established X-Men continuity, since then the trailers have shown that if nothing else it will be a stirring visual super-hero flash-back piece.



Oh and I almost forgot. This summer's semi-annual DC Comics event, Flashpoint by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert, stars my favorite superhero since I was twelve: the Flash. According to the press (USA Today), one can pick up the first of the five issue mini-series with almost no knowledge of the universe or characters because in this series we learned that the world and all its heroes have been altered save for a few including Barry Allen as the Flash. There is plenty more back story if you want it but even without it's a mystery of an alternate but present reality and what it means to the people in it. I'm not sure if actually sounds intriguing to her or she is just trying to participate a little but my wife even said she'd read it with me. I'll take her up on it either way. You can pick up Flashpoint #1 this Wednesday at a comic book shop near you and enjoy the miniseries even if you pick up no other connected titles ever. Or so they say.



It will surely be an exciting summer.
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23 March 2011

WHERE I STAND [4]: A Vegan Lifestyle part 1

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In a week and a half my daughter is due to be born. Sometime after she is born she is going to start asking questions. She will be a Flinchbaugh and my daughter so this should come as no surprise. I expect that questioning to be constant, varied in topic, and no stranger to controversy and things others consider standard practice. With that in mind, here I will answer Jonathan Sigmon's (www.taintedcanvas.com) request to talk about why my wife and I have chosen a vegan lifestyle. This I will do in small snippets as I have time over what I expect will be a wonderous, exciting, scary, invigorating, tiring, and joy bringing next few months... errr years. 


Rye.
In the March 4 2011 edition of The Week I found this reminder of one of the reasons we chose a vegan lifestyle:
"Meat and milk are relatively inefficient sources of protein, requiring far greater amounts of energy and grain to produce than do simple grains and vegetables."


In addition, a meat-based diet requires the use of about seven times more land than one that is plant based -- in other words, vegan or at least strictly vegetarian (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), June 1997). A big motivation, at the time at least, was a desire to be better stewards because of an interpretation of the created in the image of God verses from Genesis 1:26-31. 

"Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day."

To us, and the writers of Genesis, God was, and is, the great steward of creation. Being made in the image, or likeness, of God meant that we are to act in God's stead. We are to be the good stewards of creation. One very intentional and disciplined way that we felt, and still feel, we can do this was to  use the land resources better allowing more for others to use and less energy needed and native plant-life destruction caused for the production of our own food. 



Some German wheat beers.
However, I do drink alcohol and I do so on a pretty regular basis. Here is but one place I could be called out as a hypocrite. Alcohol production, with wheat based beers especially which are my favorite, is very land and transportation intensive. Neither of which, at the levels they exist today, are really great uses of natural resources in the grand scheme of the world food supply and the idea of equality when it comes to human food rights. Are my consumption habits always logical based on my feelings about land use? Not at all. Do I feel somewhat of a license to be a little less responsible in this area because of my vegan lifestyle commitment? Perhaps I have at times, but I don't feel that I should feel this way. Then again I am open to being challenged and expect to be. I wouldn't post here otherwise!  


All of that said, I think the facts about land use minus any faith connection are good enough to factor into one's thoughts on the possibility of a vegan lifestyle. I'll explore more of what went into our reasoning soon.


15 March 2011

ROB BELL'S NEWSWEEK INTERVIEW

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Last night's Newsweek interview of Rob Bell by Lisa Miller about Rob's new book, Love Wins, which released today. I like the way Rob turns some of the questions to what really matters. Reminds me of Jesus' way.


Watch live streaming video from lovewins at livestream.com

27 February 2011

PREVIEW: ROB BELL'S LOVE WINS

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LOVE WINS. from Rob Bell on Vimeo.

I am excited, and proud, that Rob Bell has very publicly gone out on a limb to bring these essential questions into the mainstream of Christian culture. Whether you think they've already been sufficiently addressed or didn't know they existed, I encourage you to take the time for self-investigation and open discussion on this topic with good friends. Don't live in fear. Don't believe in fear.



22 February 2011

DUELING BEATITUDES

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Dueling beatitudes, one is the focal point of Jesus' sermon on the mount which, most people would call, the foundation of Jesus message and the other is perhaps what many, including much of Christianity, has followed since. I hope we can see ourselves a little and learn here.


01.30.11 Dueling Beatitudes from First Unitarian Church on Vimeo.

02 February 2011

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: PORTLANDIA

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If you have access to IFC via cable, satellite, or the internet, may I recommend to you the invention of SNL's  Fred Armisen and Sleater Kinney's Carrie Brownstein: Portlandia. From an elitist Feminist bookstore and the loca-vore/organic/cruelty-free movement to radical cyclists, Portlandia has a lot of fun showing how things get a little crazy even in great ideas.


So far, Steve Buscemi, Kyle Mclaughlin, and other notable fine thespians have been guests. Now I caution you if you can't take a little ribbing about things you might be passionate about or edgy humor, but otherwise do take a trip to where the dream of the 90s lives on. Episode 3 of 6 will be on this Friday. Here are some clips:









11 January 2011

QUOTE OF NOTE: ON VIOLENT METAPHORS

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An excerpt from a statement by the Friends Commitee on National Legislation regarding the January 8 Tuscon Shootings:


Found among many others in the square of Manheim, PA.
"The shooting rampage appears to have been the act of a single disturbed person. His actions take place, however, in a culture where violence and demonization of those with whom we disagree appear to prevail. When violent metaphors permeate our society's discourse, we risk making violence more acceptable. Verbal violence, even if used without ill intent, may sow the seeds of hate and physical violence."


I couldn't agree more. Most of us are guilty of using violent metaphors whether as a joke, to gloat when a favorite sporting event goes our way, or in anger. Hopefully this sad event and the dialog surrounding it, although somewhat polarized and blame happy, gets us all to do a little self-investigation. As a father-to-be, I ask, "What are we teaching our children through this?"


 
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