Thursday, March 31, 2011

Love Wins: A Heart's Response, part one

I'm not interested in using my blog as a personal journal. I see personal journals as something that only you and your mother are interested in reading. At the same time, though, there is a first time for us all. "Love Wins" was quite a challenge to my way of thinking, and it has sparked a lot of thoughts. It's scary, dangerous territory, because some of it runs counter to ideas and truth that have been given to me. This is a scenario where I think the stream of conscious approach may be helpful to some.

The problem with me having an opinion about "Love Wins" is that I'm not a Bible scholar. I understand this is shocking to many, but the truth is that I don't know Greek, or even Hebrew. This is distressing because Rob Bell often goes back to the Greek and Hebrew to make his case for why his theology is truly biblical. Well, good for him, but I have no idea how good or accurate or faithful his scholarship is. On the other hand, I have no idea how good or accurate or faithful the scholarship is of the bible scholars that I trust. On one level I have no earthly business evaluating Bell's theology because I'm just not educated enough. As usual, when it comes to matters like these, I will give the disclaimor that all thoughts and conclusions are provisional. I reserve the right to backtrack, revoke, equivocate and renounce anything stated below.

Is it possible to detach yourself from your expectations--the pressures that pull you, the things that tempt you, the doubts that nag--and just respond objectively? Can I speak without hurting people I love, without pissing off at least one group of people who think a certain way? Can I disclose the voices of my heart without affirming them as true or right? Can I express myself just to kind of see what is there, and sort out the business of hard truth from emotion/longing/wondering later? I don't want to believe the wrong things because I don't want to dishonor God, but is that just my holy covering? Is that just a cover story for my raging ego that doesn't want to be wrong? Is that the true motivation, that I be right and all others be damned?

My honest reaction is that I like what Rob Bell has to say. I haven't decided, and probably won't for a long time, if he is more wrong or right on the business of hell, but his perspective is fresh and exciting. The strongest part of the book for me was where he was emphasizing that Evangelicalism is in grave danger of stressing getting your ticket punched for the next life over living this one to the fullest, to the most abundant. Amen. I've been feeling that way for awhile myself, and I am sometimes rescued from it. I often feel like my heart says, "You're saved, now just hunker down, endure life and all of its meaningless banalaties and shuffle off this mortal coil and onto real life." Bell won't let us get away with that. He acknowledges that heaven and hell are places Out There, but they're also Here and Now. They are our choice, right now.
Why am I attracted to his ideas? Is it just that I've been wanting to abandon my conception of God for a long time because it isn't socially acceptable, and so I'm abandoning ship for the first person to come along that even offers a pretense of intellectual feasibility to a more culturally attractive theology?

No, I don't think so. A lot of people, including myself, would accuse me of that, but I don't think that's what it is. There is nuance, here, people. I can not agree with everything that Rob Bell says and still appreciate him saying it. I appreciate what's being called his "biblical imagination." He is right that there is a hell of a lot we don't know. Bell does a brilliant thing and points out that darling of the Reformed, Martin Luther, said himself that if God wanted to save someone after their death, who are we to say God can't do that?

The book is a powerful reminder that all of the Bible is true, but it doesn't contain all truth. There are a lot of things the Bible does not comment on; we have to be ever so careful to not get dogmatic in those areas--one way or the other. We shouldn't assert as truth things that the Bible doesn't define (there is purgatory, etc.), but we have to keep our minds open to the fact that there is so much more to God, his work and character that we have NO IDEA about. Bell reminds us that Jesus is constantly trying to tell us that when we get to the next life we are going to be surprised.

I like the idea of the surprise coming in the next life creating mystery and excitement for this one.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

We Gotta Talk to Each Other

I don't know much about Eugene Peterson, but I know he wrote The Bible.

Ok, I know, he didn't write The Bible, but a he wrote a version of it called The Message written in a contemporary idiom. He wrote a blurb for the back of Bell's book, and he commented further in an interview he gave to a blogger. You can read the whole thing here, but I reproduce most of it below. It is wisdom, something I need much more of:


What are your thoughts regarding Rob Bell’s book and the controversy it ignited?  What inspired you to endorse the book?

Rob Bell and anyone else who is baptized is my brother or my sister.  We have different ways of looking at things, but we are all a part of the kingdom of God.  And I don’t think that brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God should fight.  I think that’s bad family manners.
I don’t agree with everything Rob Bell says.  But I think they’re worth saying.  I think he puts a voice into the whole evangelical world which, if people will listen to it, will put you on your guard against judging people too quickly, making rapid dogmatic judgments on people.  I don’t like it when people use hell and the wrath of God as weaponry against one another.
I knew that people would jump on me for writing the endorsement.  I wrote the endorsement because I would like people to listen to him.  He may not be right.  But he’s doing something worth doing.  There’s so much polarization in the evangelical church that it’s a true scandal.  We’ve got to learn how to talk to each other and listen to each other in a civil way.

Do evangelicals need to reexamine our doctrines of hell and damnation?

Yes, I guess I do think they ought to reexamine.  They ought to be a good bit more biblical, not taking things out of context.
But the people who are against Rob Bell are not going to reexamine anything.  They have a litmus test for who is a Christian and who is not.  But that’s not what it means to live in community.
Luther said that we should read the entire Bible in terms of what drives toward Christ.  Everything has to be interpreted through Christ.  Well, if you do that, you’re going to end up with this religion of grace and forgiveness.  The only people Jesus threatens are the Pharisees.  But everybody else gets pretty generous treatment.  There’s very little Christ, very little Jesus, in these people who are fighting Rob Bell.

A Reasonable Statement?

Here is a quote from page 111 of "Love Wins." Is this ok? Is it reasonable for us all to agree that this is a reasonable statement?

"Whatever objections a person might have to this story [that in the final accounting all will be saved and in 'heaven'], and there are many, one has to admit that it is fitting, proper, and Christian to long for it. We can be honest about the warped nature of the human heart, the freedom that love requires, and the destructive choices people make, and still envision God's love to be bigger, stronger, and more compelling than all of that put together. To shun, censor, or ostracize someone for holding this belief is to fail to extend grace to each other in a discussion that has had plenty of room for varied perspectives for hundreds of years now."

Reading it does cause me to get a little bit hot about the Christian cheeks; it flies in the face of a lifetime of affirmation that this is surely not the case, that it is blasphemy to believe otherwise. But. I believe I can, I'm pretty sure it's ok for me to say, from my flawed human perspective: "God, you are great and I am not. You gave us life and everything, and nothing you do can be wrong or evil. If some will burn in hell forever, then I cannot and I will not question your authority to do that or allow that to happen. But from my finite human perspective, the way things look to me, I hope that no one has to remain in hell for eternity. I hope there is way around an awful fate like that. Maybe there is no way, but I sure hope there is."

If my prayer does not resonate at least a bit in your Christian soul, then, will you maybe entertain the idea that you're the weird one, and not me? I fear that it could be me, how about you spend a little time fearing that you may be the odd one out.

A Notice to Outsiders

They iz a fight goin' on up in hizzeer.

More on that in a moment.

One of the subcultures I belong to is that of Evangelical Christianity. I debate over how much I want to disclose about my involvement in that world on this blog. I do not doubt that many who do not share this involvement with me are not that interested in our sordid affairs. Why would you be? So must of the time universal applicables are the order of the day at We Need the Eggs. You know, crap we all can relate to. The non-Evangelical cannot relate to much of my life, at least directly, so why inflict? But I know that isn't entirely true. Everyone's got religion. Everyone has ideas about the universe, how it got here, where it's going, what constitutes right and wrong—that aren't scientifically provable. So each of our lives involves some amount of religion. Talking about religion, any religion, if done well, I think can have a universal appeal.

I am in no way promising that. But I wanted to give a warning. For the next few posts I'm going to go "in-house." I'm gonna put my Jesus/Christian/Evangelical/religious flag up on the pole and just rap for a little bit. If you're not interested please know that I understand more than you can imagine. But I will say that you may find it interesting: I'm going to name names, cut loose, bare a little soul, invite unedited thought streams onto the page that are in no way orthodox or what is commonly thought of as righteous.

So here I go, off on an Evangelical tangent—enjoy the ride or run for your life, I support both responses.


As I said before, They iz a fight goin' on up in hizzeer. This guy, Rob Bell, he wrote a book, and then the Evangelical world blew up. Well...I don't know about that. The Evangelical world blew up, maybe. That's the line. That's what I've been told. There is a lot of buzz and debate and things of this nature going on on the Internet. I do not know, in the grand scheme of things, how big of a deal, how much of a defining moment, if at all, for a large segment of the American church it is. But he wrote his new book, "Love Wins," and it is being perceived as, and may actually be, questioning/subverting a lot of baseline historical Christian dogma.

Unlike a lot of people talking about the book, I have read it (a voracious act of consumption that took less than 48 human hours). I have read it, and I have some thoughts about it, about the responses to it, and further thoughts on God, faith and the journey that is being human.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bath Time, Daddy Style

Nolan loves himself a bath! The other night he was eyeballing the tub, so I thought I would indulge him. He'd already had a bath earlier, but I want to be in the habit of giving good things to my children.


I thought maybe he'd enjoy doing it a little differently.


He did. So It's been a long day, and I don't really have it in me to wax parental about how cute my child is. In reality I have it easier than any other parent on the planet (in case you didn't know, all parents should think this true about themselves), but like I said, I'm tired. So I'll just let the pics speak for themselves: 




As a friend of mine on Facebook says, be careful, because THE CUTE WILL EAT YOUR FACE!
Stupid phone.
there even a distinction? Are they different enough mediums? We shall find out.
So apparently I can blog via text. I think the interesting question is: what makes one thing Tweet-worthy, & another thing text-blogging-worthy? Or is

Monday, March 21, 2011

Your Past Will Haunt You

I had the emotional misfortune of stumbling across some old writings of mine. Being the masochist that you know me to be, I found it only natural to post what I found for the world to see.

Can you read it and catch fragmented glimpses of a troubled youth, a boy desperately searching for love in all the wrong places, prostrating himself at the alter of teenage angst and whimsy, possibly careening towards a dismal future of broken relationships and alimony fraught woes? Yes. Or you can just be momentarily entertained and move on with your day. I suggest the latter; it took awhile to get there, but the story turns out ok in the end.

I render it as originally composed, in the irrevocable all caps. This was written circa 1995, when I was in the eighth grade:

HURT

SHE KEEPS ON SAYING THAT I HAVE TO GO OUT WITH HER. AND I KNOW I WANT TO. BUT I CAN'T, HAPPINESS IS RIGHT THERE AND I CAN'T GRASP IT BECAUSE OF PRIDE. SHE KEEPS CRYING AND SAYING THAT IF I LOVED HER I WOULD GO OUT WITH HER. IF SHE EVER READ THIS SHE WOULD PROBABLY BE MAD AT ME. I CAN'T JUST GO BACK OUT WITH HER EVEN THOUGH I WANT IT SO BAD. AND I KNOW THAT ITS HURTING HER BUT ITS HURTING ME TOO. EVEN THOUGH I SHOULDN'T BE FEELING THIS I'M FEELING PRESSURE FROM MY PARENTS TO NOT GO OUT WITH HER. THAT'S PRETTY ROTTEN BUT ITS TRUE. I'M SO LONELY AND NOBODY CARES. NOBODY WANTS ME EXCEPT FOR SUZI AND I CAN'T HAVE HER, AT LEAST FOR RIGHT NOW. I NEED HER MORE THAN ANYTHING. KIDS AT SCHOOL JUST MAKE ME SICK. IT'S AMAZING, THEY DON'T CARE WHAT THEY ARE SAYING, THEY HAVE NO MORALS. THEY RESPECT NO ONE'S PRIVACY. SUZI AND I CAN'T BE LEFT ALONE FOR 5 MINUTES. YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN ME LAST NIGHT. THERE IS THIS GIRL NAMED AMBER JAMES. THIS ONE PROBABLY HURT THE MOST. I HAD TALKED TO HER ONCE BEFORE ON THE PHONE AND I KIND OF LIKED HER. SOMEBODY CALLED TWICE AND HUNG UP BOTH TIMES. I CALLED HER TO SEE IF SHE WAS THE ONE WHO WAS DOING IT. SHE SAID NO, THEN SHE SAID SHE WAS EATING DINNER AND ASKED IF SHE COULD CALL ME BACK. I WAS SO EXITED (sic), I WAS GOING TO GET TO TALK WITH SOMEONE BESIDES SUZI. WHEN I TALKED TO HER AT SCHOOL SHE WAS ALWAYS NICE AND TALKATIVE, AND JOKED AROUND WITH ME. I STAYED IN MY ROOM FOR ABOUT TWO STRAIGHT HOURS. SHE NEVER CALLED, I THOUGHT OH WELL NO BIG DEAL HER MOM WAS PROBABLY ON THE PHONE, EVEN THOUGH I WAS DISAPPOINTED AND HURTING INSIDE. THEN TODAY AT SCHOOL SHE SAID HI AND EVERYTHING, BUT NOT LIKE SHE USED TO, IT WAS MORE OUT OF SYMPATHY. THAT JUST MADE ME SICK, THERE IS NOTHING I HATE MORE THAN SYMPATHY TOWARDS ME. THEN LATER TODAY I WAS TALKING TO SUZI. AND SHE HAD TALKED TO AMBER. SHE SAID AMBER SAID THAT SHE PURPOSELY DIDN'T CALL ME BACK, SHE SAID SHE COULD NEVER GO OUT WITH ME. IT WAS LIKE A DAGGER GOING THROUGH MY HEART. GOOD THING I DIDN'T LIKE HER THAT MUCH. SHE'S SUCH A JERK I'LL TRY TO NOT EVER TALK TO HER AGAIN, SHE DIDN'T HAVE TO LIE ABOUT IT. I JUST WANT TO BE ALONE, RELATIONSHIPS ARE PRETTY TOUGH THINGS TO DEAL WITH. I STILL DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO ABOUT SUZI, I JUST WANT TO LEAVE, LEAVE ALL PRESSURES OF EVERYTHING.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Words From a Prophet

Like Oprah, I too have many Favorite Things. One of my favorites is setting down with my book and a good cup of coffee on Saturday mornings. This morning I searched in vain for the current book I am reading, The Neon Bible, and to this moment I remain unsuccessful. (I have been reading the book for a few weeks and have misplaced it more times than books I've owned for a decade or better.) Chagrined, I turned to my bookcase to look for an alternate, and I was drawn to a book that, perhaps more than any other book I have ever read, has held sway over my thinking and way of life (besides anything written by a deity). And my misplacement is your benefit, because I outlined the highlights of this book on the inside of the cover, so I quickly flipped open to pure gold. Read the following words from Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" and be reborn:

"To say it, then, as plainly as I can, this book is an inquiry into and a lamentation about the most significant American cultural fact of the second half of the twentieth century: the decline of the Age of Typography and the ascendancy of the Age of Television. This change-over has dramatically and irreversibly shifted the content and meaning of public discourse, since two media so vastly different cannot accommodate the same ideas. As the influence of print wanes, the content of politics, religion, education, and anything else that comprises public business must change and be recast in terms that are most suitable to television."

The book was written in 1985, and as I reflect on this passage one phrase comes to mind: "Sound bite." Indeed, here is the vindication of Postman's prophecy, taken from the Wikipedia entry on "Sound bite": "Politicians of the new generation are carefully coached by their spin doctors to produce on-demand sound bites which are clear and to the point."

 Is it possible that something is being lost in all of the words not being said in an effort to produce an acceptable sound bite? Of course the question is only rhetorical. Isn't that what makes a question rhetorical, when the answer is plainly obvious?

Friday, March 18, 2011

How Christianity Started

I like this. I don’t think it’s going to change anyone’s life or anything, but I think it’s something worth pondering for a bit, if you’ve got time on your hands. You can easily dismiss it, but I would counsel you to not be so confident in your own power of dismissal. I've seen countless Christians easily dismiss the idea of evolution; much to their detriment because I think it makes them look silly. I think the number one response to something like this will be, "Religion shouldn't be judged in this way, if it works for you then that's all that matters." To that I would ask you to consider further: There is no religion that says that. All religions are truth claims--"This is the way that it is." with that in mind, where did we get the idea that religion is to be treated as a subjective, "well if it works for you" kind of notion? To say something easy like, "Well, they all have a piece of the truth," is frankly boring. Only someone who has complete knowledge could make such a statement, and last time I checked ,that ain't you.

"Jason, you've offended me." Look, there are worse things that could have happened to you today--you'll live.

Have fun!





Thursday, March 17, 2011

One Point, Wife

My wife shot a hole through one of my favorite pastimes (if measured by time dedicated to) the other day.

She said my constant tearing down of myself, the endless self-loathing, was in direct conflict with something that I hold even more dear. That being the Gospel; wherein Jesus already covered all of my failures, specifically so I wouldn't have the luxury of focussing so totally on myself & my shortcomings (there's a lot of safety & comfort there, you see).  

Now, you're stupid if you don't think I know that already. But there was just something different about hearing it from her. I had been found out; I was forced to look in the mirror another had held up. It's easy to ignore my own mirror, but if I know someone else is onto me I gotta reevaluate the whole thing.

~Sent From My Cool Phone

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Letter To the Editor

The words hurt, but I figure you deserve to see them. If you agree, then please waste no more of your time on my blog. If you agree, then just go ahead and move on with your life, pretend I closed up shop; there really is nothing more to see, for you, here. Know that if you do, some part of me is already with you.

"Dear Blogger,

Boy, you must think you're really funny. No, really. Congratulations. What a great use of your time. Half of your crap is so esoteric and just straight up out of nowhere that, yeah, I suppose it might startle a chuckle out of the slower ones, maybe. Why are you wasting your time on this blog? There is no central theme or guiding light that binds all of the madness together. Everyone knows the point of blogging is to get people to follow your blog, and then more people, and then you turn those people into an opportunity. Once you have a lot of followers, blogs either begin to make money off of web traffic, or you turn your posts into a book. What's your aim, son? There is no real point to your blog, no galvanizing ethos that keeps people coming back. It's sad. We only have a limited amount of time on this planet, and you're wasting a lot of yours entertaining yourself. You know, there's another word for that. I've heard you tell people that, look, if it's funny to you then it's going on the blog. How's that working out for you? Inside jokes with yourself? Well, again I say, there's another word for that. Please do yourself a favor and shit or get off the pot. No more (trying to be)funny, then introspective, then political, then theological, then some muddled hybrid. Please, no more half measures. Embrace an approach, or else delete this thing.

Sincerely,

Your Subconscious"

p.s. I know it's disgusting, sick and wrong, but I think the "word" he's referring to is the dreaded...M-word.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Think Again: Career Change

Gotta make more money. Consider becoming a mercenary. The perks: choose your own hours, adventure,  exercise the body. Bad things: you might die, might be stabbed in the back by your own government if a deal or prisoner swap goes bad.

~Sent From My Cool Phone

Think Again: Meniscus is Myth

The "Think Again" series features ideas that sounded good when I wrote them down at 3 a.m. But upon morning review, each of these ideas only proved that I am the inveterate racist, barking misanthrope or cool-headed sociopath that I've always feared myself to be. Though I seem to be a hater of all things good at 3 a.m., this doesn't appear to bleed into my daytime life, so I'm not too worried about it.

You do not have meniscus' in your knees. Knee doctors made it up to take your money. They tell you it’s torn, they don’t care. Get out your magnifying glass, get out your Grey’s, it isn’t there*. Greedy doctors, that's how this whole thing got started.


*I checked on this claim when I got to work this morning, and it isn’t true. I just felt I had to tell you that because if you were persuaded, the potential downside to denying the existence of your meniscus' is devastating.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Think Again: Attorney Client Privileges

Today marks the first installment of the "Think Again" series. This series will feature ideas that sounded good when I wrote them down at 3 a.m. But upon morning review, each of these ideas only proved that I am the inveterate racist, barking misanthrope or cool-headed sociopath that I've always feared myself to be. Though I appear to be a hater of all things good at 3 a.m., this doesn't appear to bleed into my daytime life, so I'm not too worried about it.
 
Don't you think attorney client privileges have gotten out of hand? Today I will introduce a bill to the universe that will allow lawyers to be tortured in order to get info about their clients out of them. While it's true that torture is morally wrong, so is being a lawyer, so the two cancel each other out. Once the bill passes, anything that goes on between a lawyer and torture will be permissible; no holds barred.

Danielle: Blogged

I just blogged Danielle without her permission because I was afraid she would say no. 

Creepy, I know. Makes you wonder, has this happened to you? It's hard to say. I would start by checking with your friends, neighbors, coworkers & clergy. Then check the 11 o'clock news & the Drudge Report. If nothing turns up, then I'd figure you're good.

~Sent From My Cool Phone

Re: My Last Blog

There is quite a lot of controversy brewing over here today at WNTE and I want to address it right now before it gets out of hand.

A few moments ago, a one Jessica DesLongchamp posted the following inflamatory comment on my previous blog "Now That's A Nosebleed!":

"Disgusting!!! Yuck, why would you post something like that??"

I don't know what ulterior motives she may have had with the asking of the question, so I can only take it at face value. I know the rest of you found the blog entertaining and informative, but apparently there are some among us who simply don't get it. For those people, I offer the best explanation I can, even though it may not be ultimately satisfying.

The reason I posted the blog cannot be captured by a thought, an explanation or a particular emotion. Usually ideas can be articulated in prose language, but not in this case. When asked why I posted the blog, the only thing that comes to mind is this,

"Because it is bitter/ And because it is my heart." The entirety of the poem further articulates the reason:

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter--bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."

--Stephen Crane

Now That's A Nosebleed!

Sorry, my current livlihood is your misfortune.
















Friday, March 11, 2011

Charlie Sheen, the Media and You

The whole Charlie Sheen Dealio has gotten me quite up in arms, though not the way you might expect. I wrote a piece and submitted it to an online journal I like. They probably won't publish it, so I thought I'd share it with you fine people. It's a Christian website, but don't let that fool you, it's cool n stuff. So yeah, it's written from a Christian perspective, but I don't lay it on too thick, so I think the unbeliever among us might still be able to appreciate it:

One would think you're dishing about the news of the day if they overheard you talking about the Sheen Situation, but seen properly, the circus surrounding Charlie Sheen is only but synecdoche for the day to day operations of our entertainment-media complex. Our entertainment media, which bleeds into our new media, specializes in making money off of sick people. Sheen is only the latest clear example of one of our favorite media projects: exploiting the weak. Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Mel Gibson, Tiger Woods. These names serve as cultural shortcuts to a sense of relief—they are celebrities (i.e. gods), and I'm doing better than them? Yes, I’ll pay a fair price for that smug sense of satisfaction. From the great shores of New Jersey, to the fruited plains that contain the real housewives of Orange County, we are delivered a steady diet of people making messes of their lives, and our tacit marching orders are to laugh, deride and jeer.

The endeavor of naming things is a sacred act that brings clarity to the haze. What is the thing that draws our undivided attention to the fallen celebrity? Are the incoherent ramblings of a substance abuser, as within the case of Sheen, funny? Indulge the question for a moment. What kind of person laughs at their own drug-addicted child? What parent would rush to put a microphone in front of their face, eager to make money from the lunatic ravings? We have universally agreed upon names for parents like that: disgusting, sicko, monster. Now, what's the difference between laughing at a neighbor's child instead of your own? What really is the difference? Are we tempted to ask, as Jesus was asked, who is our neighbor?

How can you possibly talk about the media implications of Charlie-gate without coming off as self-righteous? The last thing I want these words to be viewed as is criticism of our media. Don't confuse that with what they actually are—mere description. I can't criticize our media because to do so would miss the point. The media is giving us what we want. "No, they have shaped our tastes; we have been manipulated at their lead," some might say. To deal with this argument quickly and simply: Nothing the media has ever produced thrived without popular consent. How could it? Anything that doesn't catch on, and therefore generate revenue (to varying degrees, to be sure) is consigned to the trash heap of history. The media is feeding open mouths. Mine included. It’s only a simple gift of grace that I happen to be disgusted by the handling of Charlie Sheen. Most of the time I get in line with the rest of America to laugh at the failure of the week.

Another common response is that it isn't our fault that Sheen is going out and looking for attention. It was his choice. Ah, yes. But have we forgotten that eternally maternal reaction to our petty instincts? Two wrongs don't make a right.

If this were simple chastisement then it would be, frankly, boring; only so much more white noise that I would advise you just as soon tune out. But my hope is that these words ring out as an admission of guilt, and a cry for help. Lord, we are guilty, and none of us is exempt. Lord, deliver us from this body of death that is entertained by the death of others. Lord, make ugly to our eyes the celebration of our neighbor’s fallen and hurting children.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Delighted But Confused

Today Jessica related the following story to me that I thought you might enjoy; plus I have an ulterior motive, which I will explain by and by:

The other day Jess thought she would allow Nolan a little naked time. She stripped him bare and allowed him free reign of the living room. Time passed as she was doing dishes, and she noticed that he was dancing. This is not uncommon for our son, he regularly glories in this unparalleled gift that the Lord has given us. Normally his choice of dance is the knee bob, but she could see that he was holding onto the coffee table and stamping. His legs were obscured by furniture, so she thought she'd go in for a closer look of the new style.

What she found was our son, looking delighted but confused, as he stamped in a pile of his own poo.

That was her phrase, "delighted but confused," and I found it particularly beautiful. It sums up a right orientation to the facts we've been given in this world. God it is beautiful, and you should be thankful for that, but if you're not somewhat confused, clearly you're not paying attention. This is where the ulterior motive comes in: I think it would make a superior title for a blog. Not a blog post, but for the name of the blog. I'm keeping mine, so I offer this gem to the reader perceptive enough to snatch it up. Please post "taken" in the comment field once the deed is done, that way we get no duplicates. I ask for no remuneration, but, as always, donations are always sought after and accepted.


Friday, March 4, 2011

When Will the Christian Insanity Stop?

Mike Huckabee Calls Natalie Portman’s Pregnancy ‘Troubling’



Natalie, you're not a Christian and so I would never expect you to try to live like one. If you ever ask me for advice on how you should live your life then we can certainly sit over a cup of coffee and chat about it, but until that day comes I'll just keep my mouth shut about all that and you should live and be well. Congrats on the baby!

Note: There is a word for people who care more about following rules than they do for the people whom they are chastising: Pharisee. Jesus spent most of his ministry trying to reason with Pharisees--until they finally killed him. I am a recovering Pharisee myself.

Freakonomics, I Love You

I've been checking out Freakonomics radio lately, and you should too! The best part about it, besides all the other stuff, is the refreshingly un-PC approach that Steven & Stephen bring. What's cool is that they don't go out of their way to be un-PC, it just flows from the nature of the fascinating art/science that is economics.

Here is an un-PC take on the sacred American act of voting that is just too good to go unread. The context is they were talking about the fact that of course your vote doesn't make a difference, that elections never come down to just one vote, and if they did they would go to the courts and be decided there anyway. So in actuality we only really need like a thousand people to vote, everyone else's time is better spent picking up trash or doing something else that is productive:

Levitt: "It depends on how you look at [voter turnout]. Economists would predict that almost nobody would vote, so in that regard 50% is quite high. On the other hand, compared to some other countries, especially the countries where they more or less mandate that you vote, it’s pretty low. I think ultimately it comes down to--if you worry about the people who do show up, and you might say, 'Well jese, the people who do show up are the ones who have the lowest value on their time, and the ones who don’t understand that voting can have no benefit, so maybe they’re not the smartest ones who are going out voting'—then you might worry about low voter turnout because you didn’t like the composition of who votes."

The Cure for What Ails (Some Of) You (Us)

“If you had a better understanding of it you wouldn’t be such a dick.”
Tell yourself this the next time you want to get mad at a politician/authority figure over an issue.

It’s not invincible, but you will find it’s reliably true.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court Tries Crack Cocaine

Ok, not really.

This is a new feature I'm starting at We Need the Eggs that I'm calling "Almost Headlines." What you see above was almost a headline I read on the Seattle times. Unfortunely it turns out that the actual headline is much more prosaic and boring, which is:

U.S. Supreme Court tries to crack cocaine case

Please stay tuned for further things that have almost happened, or have almost been said, or would have been cool if actually said, but unfortunately have not.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Idealizing Art in Vain

Do you have a piece of art, a movie or an album, that you told yourself that you liked, only to realize months or years later that you were just lying to yourself? It's an unavoidable function of human psychology that we act out a panoply* of irrationalities every day. My latest discovery of these innumerable irrationalities is the fact that we sometimes want someone else's art to be good, regardless of the facts. As we grow through life we develop affinities for things, and it seems we want those affinities to keep reproducing for us, and so it seems we might try to help those along sometimes. We want to be taken, we want something to be passionate about; we like to like things, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, alas, it cannot be faked. Well it can, actually, but if you’re lucky you can’t fake it for long. In the end it’s exhausting to be inauthentic.

I just re-listened to Garth Brooks’ Scarecrow album, and I now am ready to accept it for the sub par effort that it is. Almost ten years after its release I find I am finally able to cast a cold-eyed gaze on the album. What I find is that the songs are largely soulless and manipulative. The album often seems hollow and forced. A few of the songs I kinda like, but not one of them is as good as any number one from any other of his albums. I get the feeling he went into the studio and said, “Well, I should probably do another album.” Indeed I heard an interview he gave where he said that this album almost didn’t happen because they were 700 songs in and he still hadn’t picked a single one that was good enough to record, and that's finally when he found the first one.


The best part about this is that somewhere in my bitter heart I knew it at the time that the album was sub par, but I was not able to consciously admit it.


When the album debuted I was an enormous Garth Brooks fan, so the releasing of another album was a form of ecstasy for me. I can so clearly remember listening to it and reassuring myself that it was good. But time told the truth, Scarecrow was not an album that would be spun countless times in my CD player, unlike most of the rest of his. I remember thinking “No, it’s good,” in that half-hearted way you tell your friend his open mic act was really good. Then a few weeks ago one of the songs came up on shuffle, and I was reminded of that hard to place feeling that the song was trying too hard and was pulling up short. I ignored the feeling because I didn't want it to be true--I didn't want a hero to have a blemish. But today I instead went for catharsis. It's OK that Brooks' album wasn't that great, it just proves that he is, in fact, human after all.

*Yes, of course I understand that I've signed up for an ass beating by using this word. I couldn't help myself, the Decembrists used it in their latest album and it just looked like a lot of fun.