Friday, December 31, 2004

Why I watch CNN

I am watching the news this evening. Here are two options I have: FOX news, which is showing all the party that is going on in NYC and dedicating the broadcast to our troops to remind us that they are uber-patriotic, or CNN, which is running Anderson Cooper 366, showing new info on the tsunami and telling stories of people saving people, etc.

It just amazes me. In a time when we need to be made aware and perhaps reminded of what has happened, one network just seems concerned with keeping the status quo and entertaining us Americans. Would we rather be entertained than moved to do something?

Maybe I am too rough, but I think that we need to be aware of what is going on. No not aware, but to really wake up. Stop our silly parties and realize what is going on.

But perhaps that is just the wine talking.

New Year's Resolutions...

...will be posted tomorrow perhaps.

In the meantime, here is an article a friend of mine showed to me. It is Holly's and my hope and ambition to do something like this in the next several years.

Cheers, don't drink bad beer, and drive safely.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Please Help.

World Vision:

A 9.0 earthquake has unleashed devastating tsunamis on coastal areas throughout Asia, killing more than 80,000 people and leaving a million homeless. World Vision is responding; now we urgently need your support.

Your gift today will rush food and Family Survival Kits to Asian countries affected by the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami, and provide other relief as needed.

Each kit provides things like blankets, tarps for temporary shelter, water purification tablets and cooking supplies. We will also provide other critically needed relief response, such as food or medicine, where needs arise.


Other places to donate:
Catholic Relief Service
Christian Aid
Church World Service
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Lutheran World Relief
Mennonite Central Committee
Mercy Corps
World Relief
World Vision

Monday, December 27, 2004

Two observations.

First: Our Christmas tree at home has all white lights. Some twinkle and some are solid. Neither is better than the other, but they are both intriguing in their own right.

Second: Watched Saved! again tonight. What a great film. So funny. So touching. But the second observation is that I am (was) Mandy Moore in that film. Sitting downstairs in my mom's house reminded me of my zealousness of my youth (and perhaps of my now as well). I am Hillary Faye... or at least was.

Third to Last Page

Beautiful. From Douglas Coupland's Life After God:

Now-here is my secret:
I tell it to you with an openness of heart that I doubt I shall ever achieve again, so I pray that you are in a quiet room as you hear these words. My secret is that I need God-that I am sick and can no longer make it alone. I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem to be capable of giving; to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness; to help me love, as I seem beyond being able to love.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Time To Decide

Just about to finish reading my first book of the Holiday season and ready to begin anew. Should I go with Soul Survivor or this one?

A quote from Tony in the second choice: "There will be those who contend that I have been a little too daring in this book, that I went a bit too far in honestly expressing what I do and don't believe. To people who think that way, let me say that I subscribe to T.S. Eliot, who states that only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.' I believe that we evangelicals have a long way to go if we are to be respected as a people who are willing to engage the world with something other than the pat answers that it has come to expect from us."

Sounds good. I am going with option number 2. Time to go.

Coming Home

It's always a strange thing. Texas just isn't my home any longer. I guess it hasn't been for a good while. Not that my family isn't here, but I am not here, you know?

Most everyone's got religion in Texas and it allows them to feel superior, to feel safe, to feel chosen, to feel like they've got the corner on the market of truth... the war is on behalf of the righteous, the only news network that isn't tainted is FOX, and their picture of Christ must be him with sword in hand ready to pick a fight with any person who doesn't bow to his set of beliefs (or the beliefs of American Christians).

I don't get it. Really. I don't get it. I sat in the car for a good while today pondering it. I guess I am an alien in this land.

I feel sick in certain settings back here in Texas. Sad that so many people see the world as something to wage war on... and I guess the saddest part is that I was one of those people years ago. But now I feel like a stranger, a minority.

I was telling Holly today that I don't even feel like people would respect my thoughts/beliefs/opinions if I brought them up. I said I am beginning to feel (in at least some small way) what I must feel like to be some minority in an overwhelming homogenous majority. I feel alone in so many ways.

It amazes me. It amazes me. I cannot believe that people cannot see themselves in a larger story that encompasses all people. But my eyes are just being opened.

It's not that people back here don't care; it just seems like so many of them have their view of the world and nothing that challenges it can be even weighed. I just don't get it. I just don't get it.

I think I am depressed.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Luther, et al.

I just finished watching Luther in the car on the way to New Mexico. Good film. It is put out by a Lutheran Society and an art company. It had some cheesy parts, but it does portray a fairly fair picture of Luther... as far as I know. Very inspiring film. Very informative.

Any one else seen it have any opinion of how it stacks up to "history"?

A quote I loved: People tried to make me a fixed star. I'm not. I am a wandering planet. No one should look to me for guidance.

It is so fascinating how what he set out to prove was taken out of his hands and turned into something so sad, but then there is more beauty later...

His biggest thing was not denying Rome, but rather holding Rome accountable... being responsible for God's church. I think that is a good perspective to keep in the whole 'deconstructionist' mindset. Seek to keep the Church near to Christ's heart as opposed to tearing it apart.

[Ryan, are you hearing yourself? Take heed.]

Doug, of course, has been saying several things along these lines... this is not a time just to critique and not just to 'return to Luther's ideals' but to move into fresh understandings of God in our time amidst our people in this world.

Anyway, New Mexico is beautiful. Relaxing and reading futher on in Life After God. A good read. Time to hang with family now. Cheers.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Hmm?

A probing question was raised to me recently...

Is America a culture of lies?

Honestly, I don't even know where to begin with this one... whether with the actual culture itself or with the government or certain people in either of those two categories.

Thing is: Lisa, Holly, and I are leaving tomorrow morning at 5am to head to New Mexico and then Texas for the holidays. I don't have time to negotiate thoughts here on the blog.

But perhaps you do have some time to think out loud about that question? How does it hit you? What does it provoke from you and what does that tell you about the question and yourself? Anyone care to comment?

Cheers!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Hugh's Advice

to me is...

You might think about cutting yourself a break, and learn how to work on your own shine to allow those around you to shine as well. Fix yerself and you fix the world, my friend.

So, today I was wearing my shirt that says "Stop Terrorism By Sharing". I know... it's very reductionistic thinking, but really, it is just a shirt to provoke a knee-jerk response (I am sounding like the Crossfire guys)... you know, to get people to re-think about a situation that seems very black and white.

Anyway, I haven't really gotten many responses on the shirt when I've worn it. But today, I was standing in line at Boney's (our local grocer) and this elderly chap said, "What does that say, Sonny?" and I told him. And he took a moment to think.

I was about to begin explaining how it is about how those who do not have often use force to get and yada, yada, yada... but he beat me to the punch with this quippy statement: "I'll share with 'em. I'll share my ammunition."

Nice. But you know, he's welcome to his own opinion. I just kinda lowered my head and smirked.

So, I was walking outside after getting groceries and this guy comes up to me and says, "Hey man, got any change?" and I say, "Sorry man, no cash." I even think about making some joke about accepting credit cards, but the moment passed.

Here's the thing: I had 3 or 4 bucks in my pocket and I knew it. I didn't want to share it.

So, note to self. When wearing a somewhat self-righteous shirt about sharing being the root to problem-solving in a needy world, I oughta act on my own convictions instead of trying to tell others what to do.

I have decided to not wear that shirt in public again until I can get my own shit straight. Or at least a little less crooked.

Some new audio on Emergent Village

For those of you who enjoy NT Wright's thoughts and ideas, but do not enjoy having to read his books [read: people like me], you might check out these audio clips. Wonderful. And there are also some clips from the Asbury Theological Conversation that Emergent sponsors every year. Hope to make it to it next year perhaps.

Much to do today. Time to move.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Angels Smiled Upon Me

I got a 75 in Spanish after getting a B on the final. I ended up finding a way to study and that made all the difference.

Life is speeding up before coming to a slow-down on Monday.

Cheers to a end of the year where perhaps we can bless others. I typically get so selfish this time of year. Holly and I are experimenting with giving away as much as we are giving to each other this year. I think we will be purchasing 20 fruit trees for a country in Africa, as well as HarvestPaks, and drought-resistant seeds for Haiti.

If you are interested in being a part of this "giving-revolution" you can go here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A Deer In The Headlights

I might fail my Spanish 102 class this semester. I did poorly. And the truth is, I know I could have done better.

Now, let me say, I can be a pretty good student, but man do I know how to BS! But the thing about foreign language is that it is very hard to BS around. Seriously.

So last week, I went to ask mi profesora if I even had a chance of passing, should I repeat the course, yada, yada, yada. And she said, "Ryan, you just didn't put enough time in."

It hit me last week and it hits me now as I am trying to study for my 1pm final that I have today.

Ryan, you just didn't put enough time in.

I realized how this has become a theme in my life (or perhaps it has always been?) where I want to commit-like I was so excited to take these Spanish classes-but in the end, I opt for the half-ass approach. Perhaps this happened with my attempts with Timber, Anchor Point, other things?

Here's what struck the chord this morning. I was reading my vocab for this test and one of the words is la vecindad-the neighborhood. And I remembered how Doug and Shelly over at Solomon's Porch were doing this thing when we were out there called Vecinos which was a kind of VBS for Spanish speaking children in the church's neighborhood. And this morning I thought, I wish my church community could do that. In fact, there are a great many things I wish that we would do.

So why don't we? On to the deer in the headlights comment.

I get so many ideas in my head and then cannot commit to a single one. Like going off payroll. I had dreams of what that could help us achieve philosophically and lifestyle-wise as a family and as a church. But it didn't go as I wished. We are not all pulling equal weight. And sure there are things that I could do to inspire, so many things I could do to help along, but so many ideas, so many things going on in life, who has time/ability/energy/willfullness to commit to one thing/direction/vision and go full-ass (as opposed to half-ass) with it?

And then the time comment hits me, too. Putting in time means allowing for things to take time. Things take time. Change takes time. Re-calibrating lives takes time. Re-imagining the gospel of freedom takes time.

Hmm. Just rambles, I know. But I feel this morning like I cannot even commit myself to reading this material that I must know for this final that I must pass in order to pass the class, you know? Like it is hard for me to just sit and do it. What's wrong with me?

I don't have time to figure it out!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Google: Constantinian Christianity

And I read a couple cool links on historical Christianity.

Interesting little brief history: "As far back as the Council of Arles in 314, the Church saw that 'to deny the State the right to go to war was to condemn it to extinction.' Faced by this dilemma, the Church turned its back on the teachings of the scriptures an the example of three centuries of pacifist practice. Rather, an emphasis on the principles of natural law justified changes in theological reflection and attitude. Right had to be defended and wrong had to be rectified. It became easy to identify right and justice with the causes of Rome and the Church, and wrong, with that which stood against them."

Dean Next Time Around?

You think it's possible that it could happen? He has always struck me as a good candidate. I appreciated his opposition to the war and his passion for what America could be.

In Howard Dean's latest column on DMA: "The pundits have said that this election was decided on the issue of moral values. I don't believe that. It is a moral value to provide health care. It is a moral value to educate our young people. The sense of community that comes from full participation in our Democracy is a moral value. It is a moral value to make sure that we do not leave our own debts to be paid by the next generation. Honesty is a moral value."

Manifest Destiny, 1845

From my textbook (as I am prepping for my US History final)...

Expansionists emphasized extending the “area of freedom” and talked of “repelling the contaminating proximity of monarchies [read: bad governments] upon the soil that we have consecrated to the rights of man.”

Sound vaguely familiar? Setting up democracy? Freedom is on the march? Repelling evil empires?

Seems like Manifest Destiny didn't end with the US's expansion to the West.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Just one of my favorite books...

... is Brian McLaren's A Generous Orthodoxy. If you have the time and the desire to stretch your understanding of reality and God and stuff, this is an amazing book.

There is also a Generous Orthodoxy blog that I bloitter at. I read it this evening. It was one writer's favorite quotes from the book.

A quote from A Generous Orthodoxy: "Having read this sentence, you may perhaps better understand why I believe a person can affiliate with Jesus in the kingdom-of-God dimension without affiliating with him in the religious kingdom of Christianity. In other words, I believe that Christianity is not the kingdom of God. The ultimate reality is the kingdom of God, and Christianity at its best is here to proclaim and lead people into that kingdom, calling them out of smaller rings, smaller kingdoms. Christianity at its worst, using the definition in this paragraph, can become a sin when it holds people within its ring and won't let them enter the kingdom of God. Jesus diagnosed the religious leaders of his day as doing this very thing."

The mission...

... of God is not to get people into a church... nor is it to fill a person's head with theological abstractions... nor is it to make a person feel like Jesus is their girlfriend or boyfriend... you know, like 'in love with him'...

The mission/heart/dream of God is the redemption of Creation. It is the re-creating in each of us (and in all things). It is, as Jesus said, putting things in their proper place.

What a different way of thinking about our reality: things in their proper place, things out of their proper place... helps us move beyond good vs. evil. The ancient Hebrew understanding is not of a good vs. evil, but an understanding like Jesus' of things in their right and proper place and those things out of place. Was that redundant?

PS - For those of you who read this blog often, pardon my hiatus... I am finishing this semester in school and wrapping a great deal of projects up for our businesses... Cheers!

Friday, December 10, 2004

Yah, what Rose said...

I met Rose last night. She gave me a neologism to share. It's hers, not mine.

Bloiterring - the act of perusing blogs with no intention to comment on them or interact with them; usually performed by a person with no blog that is their own

I am a huge bloiterrer. You? If you are, do not comment.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

A New Kind of MP3

I am listening to Tim Keel's "A New Kind of Christian" series on my computer as I am working this morning. Very good stuff. Some of the series is here at the Jacob's Well website.

I think Jasen got these to me. Thanks Jase.

He is talking about Bible worship... Bibliolatry. What an interesting notion, but it's a hunch I've had for a while. That it's not just about the Bible; it's about the story of God and humanity. And it's not even about the story; it is about the God behind the story. It's about the God behind it...

I have always found kindred spirit with CS Lewis' quote, "The Bible is not the Word of God, but the cradle for the Word of God."

I might go further and say the Bible is a cradle for the Word of God.

Right now, Tim is saying that most Christians worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Scriptures. I love it. He is also talking about how the Pharisee's used Scripture to contradict and challenge and judge Jesus in his time and how Jesus responded to them by saying that the Word of God was not in them. Such an interesting challenge for those using the Bible to 'slay' the world rather than 'help' or 'heal' the world.

Hmm.

Relevance-Resistance

Just a snippet from the same article:

An Emergent definition of relevance, modulated by resistance, might run something like this: relevance means listening before speaking; relevance means interpreting the culture to itself by noting the ways in which certain cultural productions gesture toward a transcendent grace and beauty; relevance means being ready to give an account for the hope that we have and being in places where someone might actually ask; relevance means believing that we might learn something from those who are most unlike us; relevance means not so much translating the church’s language to the culture as translating the culture’s language back to the church; relevance means making theological sense of the depth that people discover in the oddest places of ordinary living and then using that experience to draw them to the source of that depth (Augustine seems to imply such a move in his reflections on beauty and transience in his Confessions). Relevance might simply mean wanting to understand why so many young people have said that attending U2’s Elevation Tour and hearing Bono close the show with choruses of “Hallelujah” was like being in worship (but a whole lot better).

This kind of relevance will also include the recognition that the church becomes relevant precisely by offering something that the culture does not. In a loud and frenzied world, that may mean creating a space where people can bask in silence and rest in liturgical rhythms. In a world of superficial entertainment, it may mean throwing parties that nurture deep and authentic community. In these ways relevance and resistance begin to look more like dance partners and less like competing suitors for the church’s soul.

So often the church is renewed “from the edges, not the center,” as Rowan Williams has pointed out. As we attend to what is emerging at the edges of the American scene, we would do well to keep that lesson in mind and to heed Williams’s further advice: “Be grateful for new things happening, even if they are not easily digestible.”

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Emergent Article

Here is a good article about what Emergent is doing. I find it to be a better article than Chrisianity Today's "The Emergent Mystique"... although I didn't mind that article so much either.

Word on the street is that this magazine does not leave articles on-line for very long, so I'd get on it now if you are interested. It's here.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Landover Baptist Church

My buddy sent me a link to this site. It is a site I checked out years ago. All I can say is I am glad that he/she/they are still at it.

Note to faint-hearted subscribers to this blog: this site is heavily satirical... or is it?

My favorite part of the site is their bumper stickers. If they weren't so frickin' expensive, I'd get one!

or

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Crusades in Darfur

I just watched a troubling and informative video on what has been happening in the Dafur region of the Sudan. I have been in and out of several conversations regarding this crisis, but I have never been properly informed as to what is going on and why it seems to be continuing. This video answered many of my questions. And I got it here at Save Darfur.org .

What a sad story told of one people in Sudan performing a sort of ethnic cleansing, ridding the country of all the "Black Afrikans" to make way for the pure race of the Arabs. Wow. So sad. You couldn't help but recall thoughts of WWII. That is not too drastic a comparison to make.

And for those who were making comparisons between Hitler and Hussein, I can now understand the connection. I mean I could always understand it, but now I see it.

Crusades these were. Hitler to make his perfect Christian-Ariyan (sp?) nation-empire. These Sudanese people with their Arab-Muslim nation-state.

Christian crusades and Muslim crusades and several other religious-ethnic crusades dot the map of humanity. When will it end? When will we learn to value different opinions... others not like ourselves... fellow brothers and sisters in this thing called Humanity? God, when am I going to learn to value different opinions? All people?

Education is so key. Learn about Islam instead of saying that it is a religion of evil people. Try conversing without being aggresive to further your point.

[Hey Ryan, are you listening to yourself? Better take note of what you are saying.]

Here are some things I found online...

Omar Foundation's Glossary: "One of the three major world religions whose basis is monotheism, i.e. belief in one God. Islam is a way of life that highlights willful and voluntary submission of one's heart and desires to God and a commitment to his guidance. Literally, Islam means to make safe and secure and free from evil."

Islamic Relief's website: Islamic Relief is dedicated to alleviating the poverty and suffering of the world’s poorest people.

'Whoever saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind' Qur'an 5:32

Do you see how a few 'bad apples' can spoil a whole batch? I remember a friend how was in Iraq when the US bombed Baghdad and said that people in Iraq were calling war-supporting Americans "militant Christians". Wow.

It's worth thinking about.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

New Recording

Go here to hear Clover's latest demo.

We are in the beginning stages of recording our new album. Hopefully it will be done by Spring 2005. 5-7 new songs.

The Dentist

I just came from the dentist. A year-long project getting Holly's and my teeth back to some sense or sanity. Turns out that travelling on the road with a rock band, drinking sodas all day, and not visiting the dentist for several years is a bad thing.

Who knew?

Twenty something fillings later, Holly and I are back on top. I have that feeling like just after you changed your oil, gassed up, and vaccumed and washed your car, you know?

So, a conversation the dentist and assistant had whilst drilling out my decay was regarding a recent Oprah episode where she found a woman with 9 kids (4 hers and 5 her brothers) who were living in a 3-bedroom apt and she was working like 2 jobs, one being at Starbucks. Anyway, Oprah took this woman away from work and bought her kids toys from Toys-R-Us and then bought her new furniture and then topped it off by buying her one of four houses! Wow. What generosity.

But my dentist was a bit cynical and skeptical regarding this 'benevolence' since it was all on national television. He made the comment that giving done in private means more to him... or at least he respected that more. And the assistant nodded.

And I was thinking about Jesus' command to let your giving be in private (or was that your praying?) and stuff like that. Make it up in your mind what you are going to give, yada, yada. But I am thinking, maybe people watching Oprah will be inspired to give money away to people more in need right? I mean that's valuable as well right?

So, I have wanted to share some of my givings and how it's changed people's lives, but I feel like it would be a self-glorifying task, not to mention did Jesus talk against it? I don't remember. Need to do some research on that. It's something I am torn on. Giving secretly (and run the risk of other people not seeing you and being inspired) or giving openly (and run the risk of pumping ego or passing judgment on those not giving).

Hmm. I'm stumped.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Holly says...

Ryan, you like what you like and you hate what you hate. You make up your mind and then you can't be swayed.

I hate "Everybody Loves Raymond", "That 70's Show" and enough other things to cause her to realize that this is a defining piece of who I am. I hate that I am that way. But I guess I can't be swayed.

Banned UCC Ad



I just read Will's Blog regarding the United Church of Christ's ad which is available to view here.

A wonderful ad. So sad that the networks have pulled it in light of the recent "anti-" mentalities that seem so popular in this past election. That saddens me. It seems like people have grown particularly more and more closed-minded.

Then I read this:
Blog for America: "Here's what CBS had to say about it:
'Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations,' reads an explanation from CBS, 'and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks.'"

John 3.16

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only son."

Notice that God doesn't hate the world or want to just rescue people from it? He loves the world. Like, he cares about it and wants to help work things out, not just take people away from it.

Sometimes I think American Christianity is more about escapism than about Tikkun Olam (the Jewish notion of healing the world). Sad.

Everything, everything... in it's right place... it's right place... This is the Kingdom of God. This is the heartbeat of the Creator.

A New Kind Of Fundamentalism (somewhere else or here?)

If you don't read Jen Lemen's blog, you should. She has some very thoughtful, developped conversations on there.

Here post, a new kind of fundamentalism, is very probing.

Just thought I would let you in on it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Prophetic Imagination

This blogger has read a book that is on my wishlist (Walter Bruggeman's The Prophetic Imagination) and has made some comments about it. They struck me as subtlely profound.

my four walls: the basic premise of the book is a radical interpretation of the prophetic traditions as dismantling the dominant culture and kingdoms of this world. the job of the prophet was and is to (re)awaken the consciousness of the people to the freedom and sovereignty of God over and against the apathy and oppression of the dominant culture. the prophet does this through criticizing (which involves imagining something other than the current system and acknowledging the freedom of God) and energizing (by awakening a hope and vision of a future for God's people). In other words the prophetic imagination creates an alternative to the current system.

Brueggeman's critical interpretation of Solomon's kingdom says, 'He had traded a vision of freedom for the reality of security.' the overtones of the whole book have shaken and awakened my thoughts on the role of the church in the world. we live in a time and place in the USA that has traded the reality of God for security. that involves the oppression of others to sustain our way of life. it also places God under the rule of the president and leaders of the world. God is not free to do anything that would contradict our current system or criticize the 'success' of the USA. the job of the prophet is to dismantle the current regime and call God's people to renew and remember their covenant with him"


Wow. Nice.
this is an audio post - click to play

re-imagining repentance

...is kinda redundant if you know much about the word repent... or at least if you know what i know about it... its less about the churchy definition of 'turn or burn' and probably something that is a little more common knowledge... that is, there are good, healthy ways to imagine our reality and bad or unhealthy (or evil for those of you who are hard-core old-skoolers) ways to imagine it... and how we see our reality guides our lives... point is, when jesus commanded these people in the gospels to repent, he was saying, 'you have been viewing reality only partially'... repent... or re-imagine your reality, your possibility, your values, your mission... you are a part of creation, not separate from it... so live like it!

in light of my some of my new understandings of reality, particularly stated in this post, i must ask:

if we are to be all-embracing of people, truly valuing a multiplicity of understanding and opinion, then how do i understand jesus' words, "repent for the kingdom of god is at hand"?... good question really...

well, this should not be limited to a 'salvation' (as many think of the word) passage so much as a continued salvation passage... let me explain...

jesus was saying this to religious people in his day... nominal religious people, perhaps, but people who 'knew the right stuff' just the same... so he wasn't call people to some 'conversion' experience or anything... he was calling people to re-calibrate... something we must continually do to ourselves... and each other?...

so repentance actually might look like helping people see their reality in a more full picture... now, anyone can do this... and of course we can do it for ourselves... but we can also do it for each other... but only when it is solicited... or is that too modern to think that way?...

well, those are just some thoughts... i think i might continue on this topic of 'how people change' in subsequent posts...

Monday, November 29, 2004

Ghandi and Incarnation

"We must become the change we want to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

Now more than ever is the world in need of people actually being the body of Christ.

Anyone else find that picture of the body of Christ being made up of hypocritical, miserable people (myself included in that) really screwed up? But this is the picture of the master Creator with creation, making beauty from ashes and bringing healing in broken places.

Now more than ever (is that a little over-dramatic?) we must become the change we want to see in the world. We need to live the dreams of God, not just try to accomplish them through action. It seems that Jesus' notion of change often began with people: individuals, groups, families, nation-states, etc... not with programs or with propositions or with politics.

Now I am not saying that politics and Jesus have nothing to do with each other because politics are an extension of our humanity, but I am saying that we musn't get the cart before the horse. We must become the change we want to see in our world. We must become the love of Christ... the Incarnation of Christ. We cannot beat people up in order for 'good' to triumph. Peace by means of violence is ridiculous. Forfeiting the now for the later is heresy.

We must become the change we want to see in the world. And now.

History? What History?

"What is history but a fable agreed upon?" - Napoleon Bonaparte

I am reading my history lecture for the Mexican-American War this morning and I am reminded of this quote as well as another: "He who wins the war writes the history books."

The typical American view of this war is so fascinatingly one-sided.

Below is a part of the lecture that I am still thinking about. Manifest Destiny is a dangerous mentality and one we must be wary of even now. As if God is on the side of America once again. Hmm.

Lecture 11: "Still another view of the Mexican War was that of the fourth  school of historians offered by Albert K. Weinberg. In the American imperialistic concept of Manifest Destiny lay the impetus for the American advancement beyond the Mississippi that led to war. But Manifest Destiny reflected more than a mere hunger for land, for Americans saw themselves as the messiahs of a special way of life, of a democracy conceived in an idealistic as well as in a nationalistic sense. Democracy was symbolized individual freedom; men moved westward in order to expand its sphere of influence. The expansionists had come to believe that the free, strong by nature of their freedom and not the weak, impotent because of the autocratic character of their institutions would inherit the earth. God had willed that a weak Mexico had to succumb before the advance of his own chosen people, Anglo-Saxon Protestant and American. Is this true? Was it Manifest Destiny?"

Bumper Stickers Ethics

As I was taking Holly to work this morning, I sat behind a huge Ford F-350 for a mile or so and got to read it's bumper stickers... of which there were many.

Three caught me off-guard though:

The first was the word "ISLAM" with a red circle around it and a line cut diagonally through it, insinuating "no more Islam". The second was a huge American flag. The third was a "United We Stand" sticker.

And I thought, "No, we do not stand united. I do not seek to eradicate Islam as you seem to. No, I will not stand with you under some nationalistic banner that allows you to think this way. No, I do not agree to be a good citizen of this nation I must hate Muslims. You, sir, are wrong. We do not stand united."

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Embrace: It's the new Accept

Well, we are home. After driving an accumulated 1300 miles or so over the holiday, we are home. Sleeping in our own bed tonight. Yes.

Selah.

Began the week by heading to Santa Cruz to be with Holly's family. We were there from Wednesday to Friday morning. Came back to O-side and then headed out immediately for Vegas to see my mom and sis and her boyfriend. My sister's boyfriend, not my mom's.

So, to pass the time I got a library card Tuesday and checked out a book on tape. I wanted The DaVinci Code since Holly hasn't read it yet and I liked it so much... but it was checked out. (And the Library doesn't have that cool guarantee that Blockbuster does.) So I checked out Gilgamesh. Fascinating ancient Babylonian tale of these two guys and their adventures in a polytheistic world... I only listened to Disc 1 (of 4), but plan to finish the book later.

Holly's dad had The DaVinci Code on CD, so we borrowed it for the latter half of our travels. Yeah. Great book. Wonderful story, probing questions, fun wanderings between history and fiction.

I gotta tell you, one of my favorite themes of the book is that the church is not the only carrier/bearer of truth in the world. The book goes to many extremes to pound this point, and I think it is a worthwhile conversation to have with the book, with yourself, and perhaps with some friends... that perhaps God doesn't just use "The Church" to be his agent of truth and goodness in the world. Perhaps "The Church" is but a small part of God's work in this world. Hmm?

I was speaking with a friend earlier today, sharing with him this thought and he made a statement about how he wishes that there was a church where people who do not care about church or religion (but who are deeply spiritual) could go to belong and be accepted. And it struck me. The word 'accepted' implies that they are different. It implies the same thing that the world 'tolerate' does. That it is not an integration as much as it is an allowing of them to be there. Almost like they must be given a certain amount of time to get used to 'our way of doing things' or whatever. Accepted.

What if we created more places where people were valued and embraced? Where people can bring their 'crazy ideas' about life, faith, sex, and God and we can value what God is teaching all of us? Not just 'accept' those whose opinions are different, but actually seek to see life as they do? To try to value their eyes, ears, and thoughts about the world in which we live.

Embrace: It's the new Accept.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The Shawshank Redemption and Life

I promised I would not blog this weekend, but I just had this idea and I wanted to quickly share it and then get back to family stuff.

I was just thinking about that scene in the beautiful film, The Shawshank Redemption where the old guy (what's his name?) finally leaves Shawshank Prison. He becomes a free man again. But remember what happens? He freaks out. He simply cannot make it. He has spent life 'inside the institution' for too long. He could not adjust to the way life should be, you know?

Thing is, he wasn't made for Shawshank Prison; he was made for a free life.

So I was just reading this poem about how men toil, and I was remembering how part of the curse that God put on Adam was that he would toil greatly and never be fully satisfied and all that jazz. And the stuff he said to Eve, too.

But here's the deal: I don't know that it was prescriptive as much as it would be descriptive. You followin' me here? Like God wasn't saying that you must remain in these shackles of toil and meaninglessness (though many of us do), but rather, now because of what you have done, this happens.

It also makes me think about another implication of this: that those of us who have been 'in the institution' for so long (ie. the church proper) are finding it hard to really exist 'outside the institution' and some even would probably go back because of a fear of how to live in this new way beyond institutionalization.

Were we not made for institutionalization? I don't think we were. Were we not made for toil, meaninglessness, pain in child labor? I don't think we were.

We can choose to continue to be products of our decisions or we can decide to change. But it is up to us to decide to change.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Audio and a Quote

So, I just put links to 6 songs on the right down there for songs of "The Cobalt Season" as well as some roughs that will be recut and on Clover's new record.

And a blog I came upon via Will with a post worth reading as we are considering all we have to be thankful for...

poet in motion: A Time to Lament: "If there is one thing that we can learn from [Lamentations], and from the Bible in general, it is that when bad things happen we should lament them.  We might be able to put a clear label on things.  Was that good?  Was it evil?  Was it from God or not?  But regardless of those categories we can say this: 'It is lamentable.'

We have just such a situation in a country called Iraq today.  Christians argue over whether or not the war that is taking place there is justifiable.  Hopefully, we are open and sensitive to each other's views.  I personally believe that this war is unjustifiable, ungodly, unholy, etc.  Maybe I'm wrong, though.  Maybe.

In any case, we ought to be able to agree on at least one thing.  This war is lamentable.  We ought to be able to agree that it is with great sorrow that we kill the enemies we were taught to feed.  Even if it has truly been necessary to disregard the advice of our neighbors, as represented by the U.N., this too should be cause for lament. 

There should be no doubt, despite our differences, that Christians everywhere should be crying out to the Lord for a speedy end to this war.  We should be pleading with God for the safety of innocent civilians.  We should cry out for peace.  This is a time to lament."

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Health and U2

Can I just say that I love the new U2 record.

Some favorite lines (or scroll to the bottom for my thoughts):

"Miracle Drug:
Freedom has a scent
Like the top of a new born baby's head

God I need your help tonight
Beneath the noise
Below the din
I hear a voice
It's whispering
In science and in medicine
"I was a stranger
You took me in"


"City of Blinding Lights"
The more you know the less you feel
Some pray for, others steal
Blessings not just for the ones who kneel
Luckily


"Yahweh"
Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, tell me now
Why the dark before the dawn?

Take this city
A city should be shining on a hill
Take this city
If it be your will
What no man can own, no man can take
Take this heart
Take this heart
Take this heart
And make it break


"Love and Peace or Else"
I don't know if I can take it
I'm not easy on my knees
Here's my heart you can break it


So, the whole "I'm not easy on my knees" line struck me today as Holly and I were driving around. There is a book out that I have on my wishlist called Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalog that has been inspirational to me, even if just as a title.

Here's the thing. Religion for me when I was growing up was about 'praying things out' or 'helping people find Jesus'. This phrase of getting up off my knees is very provocative because I have seen too much on my knees and not enough of me out doing the work of the kingdom of God, you know?

But here's the thing, Evangelicalism might be a good move for someone who has never really considered their good deeds to be connected to the Creator. Does this make sense?

Here is an old post about this ongoing conversation in my life: multiplicity in healthy movements... or how someone can be moving in a completely different direction than me in order to become healthier.

So, for me, the liberation movement or the social justice movement seems a healthier place for me to journey towards, but perhaps that is not for everyone. Perhaps some people need to spend more time on their knees or reading their Bibles... just as much as I need to spend less time studying my Bible and on my knees and more time with the poor or helping people.

Hmm.

Monday, November 22, 2004

U2 and Spin



I just finished reading this month's Spin interview with U2. A great read... even if the writer of the article is a bit of a U2 skeptic.

Some of my favorite quotes:

Bono: "There is this cliche' that artists are pure and business people can't be trusted. Well, in my life I've met a lot of artists who were real assholes, and I've met a lot of businessmen who walk their dogs. So these things aren't true. We need new thinking."

From the article: [Bono] wants people to realize that the war against AIDS is much more significant than the war against Iraq."

The article continues to inquire about the lack of 'politiking' on this record. Many have said this is a very un-political record.

Bono responds: "What came out of me was the other things in my life I wasn't tending to: My family, the hypocrisy of my own heart, and my father's death. I mean, why am I not spending more time with my kids? Why am I trying to save other people's kids instead? How can I sing about love when I am never at home? There are a lot of things that need to be addressed in the world. But those things just came pouring out of me."

"Like a Rhizome Cowboy"... I like the implications...

From TallSkinnyKiwi: "Did you know that the ants do not have a leader calling all the shots, but instead leave pheromone trails for each other to communicate? Of course you knew that - its in the Bible. No professional leadership, but emergence to higher level complexity regardless. Sometimes when i look at the emergent properties of bloggers, I see our hypertext links performing the suame function as pheromones - telling us where to go, where not to go, whats going on."

Sunday, November 21, 2004

thanks to... (part 2)

jasen ashdown, for introducing me to the blog world... and for keeping me (at least somewhat) up to date on the indie-music world...

my beautiful wife, for asking me to walk on the beach with her while she collects rocks and shells that she finds beautiful...

michael toy and doug pagitt, for challenging (sometimes violating) my thinking to get me to think outside my small, narrow world... it hurts sometimes, you know?... but it's a good thing...

my sister lisa, for making me laugh...

jesse nason and wendy faraone, for being a support factor for holly and i whilst the entire christian community seems to follow 'their guy'... let's get some guns and take this country back for jesus, ey?...

matt vancleave, for not throwing off the trappings of the megachurch in hopes that some change may come...

my yoga instructor, for helping me to consider living life 'un-judgementally'... if only i could really do this...

Saturday, November 20, 2004

A Sad Return Home

Well, Holly and I are driving back from Yosemite today 'cause I got real sick last night. We stopped at this Starbucks in Bakersfield and I checked my email and such as we chilled for dinner.

In my in box were five blog comments from the user "in_the_military".

I gotta be honest, after his/her last blasting of me on my blog, I chose to remain silent because you know, it's a free country. He/She can do as he/she pleases.

But some of these comments were so immature that I chose to delete them from the comments section of my blog.

This person has no profile and no blog of his/her own, no contact info left on my blog.

So, I turn my comments to you, In_The_Military:

I am sorry that I have offended you by my blog postings. This blog is a place for me to think out loud, share some thoughts, and dabble in ideas. Most of these notions are not a complete, not a final, not a full picture of who I am or what I believe.

It bums me out that you choose to flame me with insults and immature banter instead of make constructive criticism or honest dialogue. It also bums me out that you hide behind some alias and do not produce anything of merit under that name. All I find is ridicule on my blog from In_The_Military. That's sad. You seem to be a religious person, so at least we can agree that love, not hate, is the way to move to a better place, no?

Perhaps you should create your own blog that could be dedicated to challenging many of the ideas that I have on my blog.

I understand you want your voice to be heard, and I think that is important, even though I disagree with you on many of your points in the comments you have made on my blog. Still, if you want your voice to be heard, perhaps here on my blog is not the best place.

If you have a personal problem with me, I suggest you email me instead of posting on my blog. Perhaps there we could have a real conversation.

Thanks.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Gone to Yosemite for the Weekend.

Just that: I'll be gone all weekend in Yosemite. Perhaps some photos whence we return? We shall see.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb



What an amazing work of art. You can hear it here if you likey... legally. I love these guys, and I am so happy for some new tunes/meditations/prayers/psalms/prophecies.

Someone asked me if I know how to dismantle an atomic bomb.

I said, uh no.

He told me that you dismantle an atomic bomb with love.

Thank you Bono for making such a beautiful 'world policy' so clear.

to Pri(us) or not to Pri(us)?

That is the question.

So Holly and I are considering retiring our old '94 Ford Ranger and buying a used Toyota Prius [read: hybrid]. We love our pickup, but have a few reasons to make the exchange. Now we need to figure out if this is a good exchange to make or if we should keep the truck or what.

Some pros to ditching the truck and picking up a Prius:
1. The truck is at 188k miles.
2. The brakes seem to be in constant need of fixing. Like every 6 months, a new set of pads and rotors.
3. We kinda feel like we should act on some of the environmental sentiments that we endorse. (The Prius is the cleanest car out there according to the EPA.)
4. Oh yah, and we get about 17-20 mpg with our truck. This Prius gets an average of 39 mpg.
5. It'd be nice to carry more people around. (The Prius holds 5 as opposed to our truck which can squeeze 3.)

Some cons that deter us:
1. We own our truck. To buy a Prius, we will pay a higher price because hybrid technology is still so new. Do we want new monthly payment to make? (Even though gas savings alone will be somewhere between $100-150/month on average.)
2. We don't like to look like 'new car owners', you know? Not our bag.
3. The Prius definitely won't be as big, so it might be hard to carry all my gear around.

So, there are some thoughts. Help us make this decision. Should we buy or not?

Grey War

Such interesting times we live in. It seems as if so many people have a black and white view of this war and the US's efforts in Iraq: they were wrong and evil, we are a right(eous) people.

I read these the other day. Eye-opening.

Far Country Tell: "I wonder what happens when we try to hear Osama Bin Ladin’s words as the words of a prophet rather than a madman? Conservative Evangelical Christians have whored their faith (and security) to a political party. America finds its hope and salvation through political policy –foreign and domestic. This was the context in which the now famous “Osama October Surprise” statement was said."

Aljazeera.Net - Full transcript of bin Ladin's speech: "Destruction is freedom and democracy, while resistance is terrorism and intolerance."

This might be worth your time to read. It might help you to understand that they don't "hate our freedom" as much as they hate who we have assisted/supported and oppressed/killed.

I post this not to say, "Yea Osama!", as much as I post it to say, "It's seldom as simple as you think!"

Monday, November 15, 2004

Beyond Legislation to Inspiration

You know, I read somewhere about how laws and legislation are put into affect once society (or an organization or whatever) has lost its ability to inspire. Perhaps it was Erwin's Unstoppable Force? Perhaps.

Saturday evening, Holly and I went out with some friends of ours who live in Nashville. They were in town planning their wedding, so we snagged a couple hours with them at a cool seafood place on the pier in San Clemente. Vibey place and good food.

Tres and I got into some good conversations about legislating morality and all the typical stuff around that: how divorce rates are way higher in southern conservative regions of the US where it is kind of 'socially legislated' than in west-coast or northeast liberal areas. Also talked about the abortion post I had here weeks ago about how most areas in the world that 'outlaw' abortion have higher abortion rates and their practices are way more dangerous; whereas places in the world where abortion is legal (and state-funded), the rates are considerably lower... and it's way safer.

Anywho, the conversation rounded the corner to 'if not laws and legislation, what do we do, Ryan?'

And I was stumped on some levels (mostly governmental). How do we encourage healthy living? How do we inspire good living? How in my own church community am I doing this? (That is another post for another time, once I have actually been working on for a while.)

Well, first it would be a systemic approach as opposed to a 'single-issue' approach. (This is part of my dilemma with the whole Iraq-US-terrorist fiasco.) You see, the problems aren't just divorce and abortion and figuring out how to legislate (whether governmentally or socially).

We began to unpack why so many areas that are southern-conservative (primarily churchpeople, mind you) have the highest divorce rates in the US. We talked about how most of the areas, if you are found out to be having 'pre-marital sex' or even thinking about it, then it is high time to get married to that person... or even more if you are pregnant with his child. So there is this sense of all will be fine as long as they get married. What BS! Or people's advice to me whence in Biola-land, 'if you feel like you just can't wait till you get married, then get married now!'. This is a running sentiment in the conservative Christian circles.

Okay, it's not about throwing all inspiration out the window and saying whoever, whenever, whatever I don't think. But I think that it is high time to start talking more health-fully about our sexuality and how it is natural and yada, yada, yada. (You like me dodging the conversation?) I hope that in the next decades to come, we will see a healthier form of sexuality emerge. You have polar opposites in this nation: the conservative 'don't even think about it until you get married' vs. the MTV 'get all you can' mentalities. (I had to throw MTV in there because they're always the bad guys right?)

How 'bout something more inspiring? Something more self-less, but also something more fulfilled? How about remembering that marriage is between two people (usually... except in the Bible) and God, not the state.

Okay, so back to inspiration vs. legislation. The quote is something like when a society ceases to inspire, it will legislate. Anyone else heard this? And any other thoughts on the matter? And this gets into a whole 'nother range of conversation about God's mission for healing the world: when we cease to inspire others with lives of wholeness, recognized brokenness, and hopefullness, we legislate by saying, 'unless x, y, and z, a person cannot know God really.' Right? Brian has some cool things to say abuot this in an interview.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

favorite googles that found me... and other blogs...

two google searches that have led people to my blog in the last couple weeks made me laugh...

erradicating +ants +safely

and

"in the name of the lord" "jerry falwell" "presumption" "peace"

again, hope they found what they were looking for...

oh, and some blogs i have been reading that i think you might like...

I am looking for God.
Far Country Tell : the wit of jesus and orpheus
jen lemen
Lotus Rising
Theoblogy
weblog :: jordoncooper.com

while i realize that i am new to this whole blogging thing and that many of you perhaps already subscribe to the above blogs, hopefully some of you who do not know these fine people will run over and check out their thoughts on display...

have a good rest of the weekend...

Friday, November 12, 2004

Some quotes on taking a country to war...

Thanks to my buddy Jesse for finding this quote:

"Naturally the common people don't want war. But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."

- Hermann Goering, a Nazi henchman, talking to a prison psychologist and U.S. Army Captain Gustave M. Gilbert when he was in jail.


My sister's friend's quote from Mr. Shakespeare:

'Beware the leader who bangs the drum of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor. For patriotism is indeed a double- edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and patriotism, will offer up all of their rights to the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Julius Caesar.'

- Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

American Empire

A song I wrote several months ago as I came to understand how much consumerism kills. "Came to understand" should probably read, "Am still coming to understand".

An old audio clip here if you wanna sing along.

American Empire by Ryan Lee Sharp

Well you take me out and your drag me around
And I'd do anything 'cause all I found in you... in you
Still you broke my heart with my soul laid bare
But you didn't know, didn't care now did ya?... even care

So I followed you
Because you promised me
More than I ever really wanted yah

Well God damn this American Empire
Can't blame this American Empire
Seems Still I overpaid to be sure I know it
But even still
All these needs and wants and toys and taunts
They follow me everywhere... everywhere

Still I followed you
Because you promised me
More than I ever really wanted and now

I wanna get my money back
I wanna get my life off track
I wanna find my one true friend
If I could just begin again
And I wanna find my way back home
I wanna find I'm not alone
I'm not alone... not alone

Well the money's in the plate
And your life's in my hands
And you wonder if I'd even understand your situation
In this Great Nation
Where the sick heal the sick
And us blind lead the blind
Maybe together we can find what we're lookin' for
What was it we were lookin' for?

So don't follow me
Cause I'd promise you
Nothin' more than what you need

You'd wanna get your money back
You'd wanna get your life off track
You'd wanna find your one true friend
If you could just begin again
And you'd wanna find your way back home
You'd wanna find you're not alone
Friend, you're not alone
Not alone

Hopin' I find my way back to you
Hopin' one day we'll see this through
Hopin' they read me between the lines
'Til then I say I'm fine

And so we don't get our money back
Let's get our lives off this track
Maybe you're my one true friend
Here we go, let's begin again
And maybe we'll find our way back home
Now that we know we're not alone
Not alone

Google Search: "American Empire"

Thursday, November 11, 2004

pulling back the curtain...

i continue to awaken to realize that things are not as they have always seemed... life is more complex than i thought in my youth... i am after all now 27...

in a nation that seems (to me) to be pushing towards a fundamentalist black-white, good-evil, them-us, yes-no, in-out understanding of reality, i seem to move in a different direction...

i move toward multiplicity of understanding and reality... toward seeing context, toward trying to hear all sides... trying to hold many things loosely whilst embracing the dynamic tension of these things... so not too loosely, but not too tightly either... you know?...

here's the thing though, pulling back the curtain and seeing that you are not existing in this vaccum state of the world, is costly... and is scary... and you begin to find in yourself both black and white and good and evil and them and us and yes and no and in and out... and you might not know quite what to do with it... especially when you have been taught to identify yourself as a singular, concrete thing... or against any one thing, one people, one person, etc...

now, i am forseeing possible rants about jesus talking about being for us or against us, but let me remind you that jesus was clear in stating in mark that whoever is not against us is for us... different, ey?...

i dunno all of what this means, but i am trying to get my mind around this whole iraq war situation and all that i am hearing just stirs up in me a sense that we are not a 'holy nation' conquering these 'terrorists' who are a part of the 'axis of evil' and we will bring about 'pax americana' through this...

more on it later... i gotta get to bed...

Pics from Last Night's Show

Enjoy!








The show was so much fun. Thanks to all you who came out... seriously, thanks.

New Album by Jesus out! Jesus Interviewed!

They Will Know Us By Our T-Shirts: The New Album From Jesus

Hilariously worth your time. Really. Really.

No, really.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

I am playing tonight.



+




A merger of The Cobalt Season and Clover for ultimate bliss.

9pm at the Gypsy Lounge in Lake Forest (near Irvine).

Map and info on the Clover site.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

our founding fathers and cain...

From my history lecture: Those who designed the federal constitution in 1788 made no provision for parties and indeed the founding fathers increasingly denounced groups seeking political power as "factions-scheming, narrow, selfish elements pursuing goals contrary to the common good, the bane of all experiments in free government".

From Blog for America: The question: Why should I pay more just because I make more? The answer: Because you are a responsible citizen in a society which believes in compassion and social responsibility, and freedom isn't free.

From Understanding Genesis: The Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" And he said - "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" (Genesis 4.9)

"The Bible wishes to establish emphatically the moral principle that man is indeed his brother's keeper and that all homicide is at the same time fratricide."

From me: I have heard myself and others make comments to the tune of, "She's not my problem" or "That's for him to deal with" or "Sucks for him" or "Wish I could do more, but it's not really my responsibility"... but the point of the story is that it is.

This is our world and it is what we make of it, you know? And these people? Yah, the ones we despise as well as the ones we love are our responsibility to take care of, to help, to be helped by.

Reminds me of Jesus words regarding loving the loveable being the easy thing to do. He called us beyond that to help restore humanity, to bring shalom (lit. health, wholeness, peace) to this earth.

This world is not going to hell in a hand-basket. This world is not God-forsaken. This world is not hopeless.

More Thoughts...

...on the re-negotionation of what we think 'church' is... not how to put on a better service, but how are we to engage people in this thing (community, movement, ideology, revolution, etc.) called the church?...

Tony Jones' blog: "The church participates in the glorifying of God in creation's liberation. Wherever this takes place through the workings of the Spirit, there is the church. The true church is the song of thanksgiving of those who have been liberated."

"The church participates in the uniting of men [and women] with one another, in the uniting of society with nature and in the uniting of creation with God. Wherever unions like this take place, however fragmentary and fragile they may be, there is the church. The true church is the fellowship of love."

Monday, November 08, 2004

a day of mourning...

six feet under will be cancelled after this upcoming fifth season...

one part church, one part politics...

church:

so, i was watching a cnn special program last night where this british guy was interviewing a saudi young man who was talking about how the religion of the militant muslims is not his religion... id be interested to see how the emergent process is going on in other world traditions, you know?... like he was post-militant-muslim... hmm...

along those lines, i found this article from uk online news...

"Christianity will be eclipsed by spirituality in 30 years, startling new research predicts. Our correspondent reports on the collapse of traditional religion and the rise of mysticism."



"In the beginning there was the Church. And people liked to dress up in their best clothes and go there on Sundays and they praised the Lord and it was good. But it came to pass that people grew tired of the Church and they stopped going, and began to be uplifted by new things such as yoga and t’ai chi instead. And, lo, a spiritual revolution was born."


i find it very interesting and even hopeful. you?... like people truly moving from institution and program towards wholistic and organic?... could this be a movement of god?... hmm...

Twice as many people believe in a “spirit force” within than they do an Almighty God without.

i think that is a thoroughly christian concept for a spirit force to be within... i go back to my comment that taoism might have more in common with biblical judaism that christianity does... the notion of god as wholly other is not a balanced biblical concept of god... god as 'out there' or 'up there' is not a hebrew understanding... the veil between heaven and earth is much more thin that we thought...

politics:

a friend sent me this link, but it sometimes doesnt pull up... i did find a word document version... so, if the link doesnt work, download this word doc...

i draw no speculative conclusions, but interesting, ey?...

Sunday, November 07, 2004

a new kind of sunday...

well, i gotta be honest... it's nice to have my sundays not be work days, you know?...

today, lisa and holly and i did the walk for the cure... it rained most of the time, so we didnt take our camera with... but we did snap some shots once we were back in the care and had our starbucks fix in hand...








there were several groups there with clever names... since it was a walk for breast cancer, many were breastocentric... such as team chi-chi or team ta-ta... babes for boobs, judy's jugs... walkers for knockers... ya-yas for ta-tas... ha!...

and to finish off the evening, an amazing sunset...



Saturday, November 06, 2004

Finished (at least for now...)

We finished the piece as far as we can tell. This was meant to be an experiment under some sort of time constraint, you know?

We have had a very confusing season in our lives and continue in it. I saw an El Greco painting last year that inspired this one's concept: a priest looking at Jesus on the cross with a confused face. It was a very evocative painting. A sort of "why" expression.

Here are more pics...







Click for larger image.



A song to accompany will be uploaded sometime this week. Shabot Shalom!

Art Experiment
















And a song I am working on to go with...




More later today...

Friday, November 05, 2004

An experiment...

Tomorrow, Holly and I are going to do an art piece together. Not sure yet what that looks like, but we bought a 36 x 48 canvas today. And it's forcasted to rain tomorrow!

It will be our sabbath-creation (is that an oxymoron since God ceased from creating?). The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. So we take it and rejoice. Will post pictures throughout the process tomorrow.

Until then, this is where we begin...

Thursday, November 04, 2004

What a Great Film.



Saved! is such a great film. Have you seen it? Cause if you haven't, it is a wonderful satire on evangelical Christianity... wonderfully funny and equally moving...

It's a wonderful reminder of how we are all screwed-up, laughable characters in this story of life... Each character has his/her marked flaw that proves redeemed by the end...

A great epiphane moment...

Pastor Skip: The Bible is black and white.

Mary: So everything that doesn't fit into some stupid idea of what you think that God wants, you just try to hide or fix or get rid of? This is all too much to live up to. No one fits in one-hundred percent of the time.

Why does God make us all so different if he wants us to be the same?


Goes great with that whole conversation we have been having here about finding God in your own skin, not in someone else's.

cloves, epiphanes, and self-hatred...

my buddy brad had a posting this morning about how he thinks we are we who we are... seems simple enough... but i have been thinking about it this afternoon...

here again, 'to do'-driven-ryan is out smoking a clove, relaxing right?... and upon first buzz, i realize that i want to go check mail or perhaps go in to get the emails that i just heard hit my inbox... and i am itchin to get up, but i want to finish my clove...

and i think: hmm... is being the person i am a bad thing?... like do i hate myself for wanting to be so 'go-go-go'?... is this a hard-wired part of me or is it something i should seek to overcome?...

i often refer to myself as a 'recovering type a'... like i don't want to be anal, i don't want to be so to-do-driven, but?...

maybe we are who we are and grace is simply letting ourselves be?... so is the 'improvements' for us?... or is a better coming to grips with who we are?... what is the gospel of this?... that we would be free... but from what?... free from who we 'are' or free from who we think we 'should be'?...

freedom has many forms no?...

life as a 'to do' list...

...sucks...

do you live this way?... i try not to, but it is a hard habit to break...

like i am right now watching 'six feet under' season 2, disc 2 and i am itchin' to get this episode over so i can get to the next one so i can get to the next one so i can put the dvd back into the sleve and mail it back to netflix...

is this screwed up or what?...

i love to get things done... it somehow verifies my very existence...

and this is partly why a weekly sabbath is very challenging for me... cause i feel validated when i have gotten things done...

but then, when there is _so_ much to do, i don't do anything... cause i am like depressed about being defined by that that i do... but i am not defined that way...

anyone else confused?... maybe i shouldnt drink wine in the afternoon anymore...

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

sad day...

[pardon the rant...]



today has honestly been a bummer day for us here at 814 n. the strand in o-side...

i have listened to kerry's concession speech and got teary-eyed... i just cannot believe this is happening... and then to realize that it is now a republican-led senate... and to hear bush ask for us to 'come together'... what?...

to me, this is a sad state of affairs... and i am not represented in this country... obviously...

bush is not my president... and canada is looking like a better option every day...

my sister has some brilliant thoughts on this as well... and dave lemen's thoughts as well as jen lemen's friend joi's thoughts... and will's sentiments...

'why so downcast oh my soul?'

...because great crusades are being done again in the name of christ and people are being oppressed by religion again... and again and again...

[or am i being over-dramatic?... yah probably a bit... just a little bit...]

Psalm 20:7

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God."

Dare I say?

Some trust in George W and some in Senator Kerry (I did sorta),
But we will trust in something higher.

I am attempting to wrestle through this, and also to wrestle through some of the comment's I am sure to hear like "Well, it was God's will for the President to remain with us... God sets up and removes rulers... it's in the Bible." or "God is sovereign and acted on our behalf by not letting that evil flip-flopper into office... America can remain a Christian nation."

And I am thinking, did God put Hitler into office?

I mean, it's just interesting that if God acts in a way you deem suitable, He is in control, but what about 9/11 or the holocaust in the Sudan?

I choose to trust that God will continue to move in and across this earth, finding heart's that are committed to helping to bring healing and unity and using these people. There will always be divisive people. There will always be people doing heinous acts in the name of God, but I trust in God and his ways... not in them... not in them...

Sorry if this was a bit cliche'... Just some thoughts I need to work out on virtual-paper.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

the motorcycle diaries...



such an incredible film... please go and see it... it will help to change your outlook on the world...

in the blogsphere, i have found a couple interesting posts regarding this film... they are here and here...

very important movie to see...

Monday, November 01, 2004

on the eve of the election, i know who is going to win...

three correlation theories that i have heard today:

1. if the dow goes down the last month before the election, the incumbent will lose,

2. whichever candidate sells more halloween masks will win the election,

3. if the washington redskins win the game before the election, the incumbent will win; if they lose, the incumbent will lose.

so, the dow is down which leads me to believe that john kerry will win... but then bush sold the most halloween masks this year and that theory has had a 20 year track record of being accurate (i am not making this stuff up) which leads me to believe that bush will win... but, the redskins lost, and the track record of this correlation theory has been exact for the last 18 election years dealing with an incumbent... over 70 years!... which leads me to believe that john kerry is our man...

so, 2 out of 3 says jfk is our man... any other ridiculous but compelling theories out there?...

sources: nps, my sister, and jesse nason... god bless 'em all...

theodore roosevelt's own words...

"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else."

why steps to 'make church more palatable' fail...



some quotes from jordoncooper.com where he is quoting from mcneal in the book, the present future...

The current church culture in North America is on life support. It is living off the work, money, and energy of previous generations from a previous world order. The plug will be pulled when either the money runs out (80 percent of money given to congregations comes from people aged fifty-five and older) or when the remaining three-forths of a generation who are institutional loyalists die off or both.

Please don't hear what I am not saying. The death of the church culture as we know it will not be the death of the church. The church Jesus founded is good; it is right. The church established by Jesus will survive until he returns. The imminent demise under discussion is the collapse of the unique culture in North America that has come to be called "church". This church culture has become confused with biblical Christianity, both inside the church and out. In reality, the church culture in North American is a vestige of the original movement, an institutional expression of religion that is in part a civil religion and in part a culb where religious people can hang out with other people whose politics, worldview, and lifestyle match there. As he hung on the cross, Jesus probably never thought the impact of his sacrifice wold be reduced to an invitation for people to join and to support an institution.

...

Faced with diminishing returns on investment of money, time, and energy, church leaders have spent much of the last five decades trying to figure out how to do church better....
...All of this activity anesthetizes the pain of loss. It offers a way to stay busy and preoccupied with methodological pursuits while not facing the hard truth: none of this seems to making much of a difference. Church activity is a poor substitute for genuine spirituality.

...

You can build the perfect church--and they still won't come. People are not looking for a great church. They do not wake up every day wondering what church they can make successful. The age in which institutional religion holds appeal is passing away--and in a hurry.... Church leaders seem unable to grasp this simple implication of the new world--people outside the church think church is for church people, not for them.

A thought which is reinforced by my reading of many Christian blogs. Church is a club for Christians and is not interested with talking with the outside world.

...

[now my thoughts] wow, i have had so many of these same thoughts, which is why i think that it's not time to 'do church different', it truly is time to be the church, and all that follows that... its not about creating a service where people can come, its not even about a home group... it is perhaps about (as god did with abraham) realizing our identity and helping others see their's as well... and perhaps letting others tell us what ours is as well, you know?...

so, the kingdom of god is not about building a recycling center, it is about involving people in the act of recycling, no?... it is not about building a fixed education institution, it is about encouraging people to learn... it is not about building a new place of worship, it is about helping 'normal people' see the kingdom in their lives... and learn from their goodness and be inspired and inspire... or something...

Sunday, October 31, 2004

joining a beach-cleanup versus having a vial of the antedote...

so i was thinking about this in the car today... how when i was younger i was taught a certain way about christianity, religion, and how to 'share my faith'... i was given this great illustration about how all people are 'diseased' and i alone (or perhaps some of my other christian friends, too) have this 'antedote' that i can give the diseased people...

the disease, of course, was sin...

the effect of the disease, of course, was hell...

and my antedote, of course, was jesus and a ticket to heaven...

so, i have been thinking alot lately (like for the past year or so) about the self-centered gospel that the american church (gross generalization, i know...) has embraced and what that has caused in the western church/missionary movement of late... you know, consumer-driven churches, big 'shows', celebrity pastors, anything to 'keep' people or 'market' to people...

and you know, everything is about the personal relationship with god, which really means becoming a more moral person who perhaps stops associating with certain things in 'the world'... except to convert others with the antedote...

well, anchor point is going through the old testament and we are just now in the part of genesis where god talks to abraham and says some stuff like, 'i'm making this pact with you that i will involve you in my mission of healing the world (tikkun olam) and blessing others'... abraham immediately acts on this in the story of the 3 messenger/angel/whatevers where he lives generously, a theme which jesus revisits several times in all four gospels...

okay, stop for a minute... do you know the word 'elect'?... like as in 'doctrine of the elect'?... alot comes from peter's works i believe... you know, that god 'chose' certain people?... remember?... predestination?...

when i was in high school and college, since i understood saved to be 'going to heaven', i understood 'the elect' as those god allowed into heaven, the afterlife consumation of god's love... i think most evangelicals will embrace this, though many of us always wondered if it was predestination or foreknowledge... doesnt matter for this conversation...

okay, my point: back to abraham, he was called 'the elect' of god, like god had chosen him... but you know what for?... not heaven ever after or some moral superiority or even a place of standing with god that would help him convert others to his religion... it was for service...

service...

tikkun olam - healing the world... redeeming humanity to a more whole place, you know?...

and jesus was the utmost embodiment of this as people spat on him and cursed him (specifically the religous people mind you) as he brought life to the outcast, to the prostitute, to the broken, to the poor... are you hearing this?!?... am i hearing this?...

my god, i am beginning to see...

the kindgom of god is like this: a woman went out to the beach to pick up trash and rake the sand into its proper place... and she found a man on the beach sitting there, looking at himself in the mirror, fixing his hair, preoccupied... the woman said to the man, 'would you like to help me pick the trash up off this beach and put things into their proper place?... the stones in the ocean, the kelp and seaweed... where do they go?...'

the man responds by getting up and answering, the kelp can be used as a fertilizer for gardens and plants since they are very rich in nutrients...' the woman learns from the man, not threatened by his enlightening understandings of the world, the ocean, and how to help heal the place... and on and on...

okay, i need to think about this now... thoughts?... anyone want to build on this parable or create their own around this notion?...

Friday, October 29, 2004

some thoughts on the rise of the number of abortions...

from this blog... please read his entire article there... it really challenges the idea that legislation of morality is an effective means for promoting healthy behavior...

Abortion in Context, from the Alan Guttmacher Institute, has been very illuminating, and has challenged many of my preconceptions about abortion.

Yet, while it may seem paradoxical, a country’s abortion rate is not closely correlated with whether abortion is legal there. For example, abortion levels are quite high in Latin American countries, where abortion is highly restricted. (In fact, 20 million of the 46 million abortions performed annually worldwide occur in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws.) At the same time, abortion rates are quite low throughout Western Europe, where the procedure is legal and widely available. Also, Eastern and Western Europe have the world’s highest and lowest abortion rates, respectively, yet abortion is generally legal throughout the Continent.

If legality is not the determining factor, what drives the rates at which abortions occur in a given country? Clearly, a key factor is the rate at which women experience unintended pregnancies—itself a function of the interplay between a couple’s family-size (and timing) goals and their contraceptive use.

I have previously assumed that, if abortion were illegal, it would be rare. Apparently this is not the case, and I stand correct


i just think some of his thoughts are timely... that is, most single-issue voters are considering the abortion issue bush's golden ticket to their vote... but doesnt this complicate the simplicity of such thoughts?...

punkins and torah...

some shots from church tonight...


















and though not here for punkin carving, still worth including... my buddy jasen... one of my best friends...


confessing christ in a time of war...

jeff was just over and we talked about how sad it is that someone such as jerry falwell is representing 'christian' views of this war... below is a quote from him...

“But you’ve got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops. And I’m for the president to chase them all over the world. If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord.”—Jerry Falwell, CNN Late Edition, October 24, 2004

wow... it breaks my heart that people actually think this... and 'in the name of the Lord'?... wow...

sojourners had posted this response... here's some of it below...

200 Christian Leaders Condemn a ‘Theology of War’. In their statement “Confessing Christ in a World of Violence,” more than 200 theologians and ethicists—many from leading evangelical institutions— wrote: “A ‘theology of war,’ emanating from the highest circles of American government, is seeping into our churches as well.... The roles of God, church, and nation are confused by talk of an American ‘mission’ and ‘divine appointment’ to ‘rid the world of evil.’” They continued: “In this time of crisis, we need a new confession of Christ.”

■Jesus Christ knows no national boundaries.

■Christ commits Christians to a strong presumption against war. Christians have a responsibility to count the cost, speak out for the victims, and explore every alternative before a nation goes to war.

■Christ commands us to see not only the splinter in our adversary’s eye, but also the beam in our own.

■Christ shows us that love of enemy is the heart of the gospel.

■Christ teaches us that humility is the virtue befitting forgiven sinners.

■We reject the false teaching that a war on terrorism takes precedence over ethical and legal norms.

■We reject the false teaching that America is a “Christian nation,” representing only virtue, while its adversaries are nothing but vicious.

■We reject the false teaching that any human being can be defined as outside the law’s protection, and the demonization of perceived enemies, which only paves the way to abuse.

■We reject the false teaching that those who are not for the United States politically are against it or that those who fundamentally question American policies must be with the “evil-doers.”

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Matthew 22.46

"That stumped them, literalists that they were." - Jesus, as quoted by Matthew

photos from home...

for those of you who didn't know, it's been raining pretty hard out here... some pics from home i thought would be nice...

but first, my first brew...




outside it's colder...






it is now clearing up, but there is a nasty goo on the ocean... ooh!...

pride and persistance...

first off, if my posts about politics tend to piss you off, please do not read on... i am not looking for a fight or to prove that my point is Truth... i am also not trying to oversimplify the situation in iraq; i am just expressing my opinion... with that said...

i have been thinking a great deal about the elections upcoming, the san diego county propositions, my local mayor and townspeople to elect here in o-side, and of course, the presidency...

now, a brief history... i have always voted for a republican president... it was a capital sin from where i came from to do anything else... so, in 96, i voted for dole (right?) and in 2000, for bush jr... i really felt like gore was too clueless to know what the american people wanted... i have tended to side with those in the conservative camp, disliking 'big government' for the little i know about it... i also was caught up in morality-legislation, a concept i still struggle with...

when we invaded afghanistan, i was in support of the war... even when we turned toward iraq, i was part of the group-think that is america (sometimes), and with emotion, i supported that effort as well...

am i a flip-flopper?... sure seems so... because now, after numerous conversations with conservatives, liberals, and the rest, i am convinced that the us's war in iraq has been a bad decision... not because it wasnt 'successful', but because i disagree with forcing democracy onto other people just because we hold it to be the most 'liberating form of government'...

a friend i was talking with in new mexico this last week (who had spent a month or so in iraq with a peace movement, caring for the iraqi civilians who had been affected by this mess) and he quoted one of the iraqi people's thoughts regarding this war: "we [the iraqi people] have two enemies-saddam hussein and the united states; please do not confuse our excitement about the de-throning of saddam as an excitement about the us being in our country... they are both enemies..."

now perhaps that doesnt strike you as it does me, but it strikes me...

okay, but onto what i really wanted to talk about in this post... pride and the way of a human...

my greatest qualm with mr. bush is his inability to admit that he was wrong, or that this is a mess... i know that in politics, its hard to 'back down' and i do not necessarily think that mr. kerry would do what i am asking either... it is a problem in humanity: to confuse pride and persistance... do you know that most of the great philosphophers and theologians throughout history have called pride the gravest sin?... the arrogance that says, "i am right, you are wrong, i do not need your viewpoint, i have my own"...

cs lewis writes... “According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea-bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

and what is sad is that this is not only a profound virtue now in the presidency; it is also a profoud virtue in the church of america... i remember reading john ortberg's book, the life you always wanted, and he spoke about how a pastor of a church he had been a part of was an incredibly prideful man... but the church would never address it... he said, 'you know, had my pastor stepped out between services to smoke a cigarrette, he probably wouldnt have made it to the second service with his job still intact, but pride? no one ever addresses pride. in fact, it is honored...'

so, i dunno where to go with this... i think it is a challenge for all humanity to wrestle with pride... i also think that all great wars have had to do with pride: "we deserve this land", "i know god better than you", "our way of life will be better for you", etc...

again, apologies if this is any sort of gross over-simplification... it is simply my thoughts as they are right now...