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.