Friday, May 26, 2006

Dance Dance Evolution

So a friend of mine just emailed me a link to this guy's YouTube video. Apparently, his name is Judson Laipply. He dances through the second half of the 20th century from Elvis to the Brady Bunch to MJ to the Backstreet Boys.

Here's the thing, her email said, "I saw this and immediately thought of you." You'll have to watch it to work out whether that is a complement or an insult. I have to hand it to the guy, though. He doesn't look like much of a dancer and he starts off kind of slowly, but he is pretty schmoove. And he has an incredible amount of energy to keep the act moving for a full 6 minutes. It's well worth it if you've got the time.

Click on the pic to go to the video.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Breathe in, breathe out

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has put together a couple of commercials promoting, yep, you guessed it, carbon dioxide.

It ends with the classic line: "Carbon dioxide, they call it pollution, we call it life."

Click on the picture. If you haven't seen it yet, you're definitely missing out.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A Generous Orthodoxy

Like the movie Garden State and the band Linkin Park before it, I'm coming late to the Generous Orthodoxy party. Most of you have probably already read it (twice). Larry's probably wrestling with some questions about it. Tim has it printed on his church clothes. It's been on my current reading list for a while, but as of today, I'm in Chapter 1.

Actually I just finished Chapter 0, the disclaimer in which McLaren says the words generous and orthodoxy roughly 257 times each. But then, right at the end of Chapter 0, he gives this great explanation of why he wrote the book:

"The people I'm primarily writing for are the Christians (or former Christians) - evangelical, liberal, Catholic, whatever - who are about to leave (or have just left) the whole business because of the kinds of issues I raise in this book. And equally, I'm writing for the spiritual seekers who are attracted to Jesus, but they don't feel there's room for them in what is commonly called Christianity unless they swallow a lot of additional stuff - NOT essential orthodoxy (as reflected in the creeds and as I try to explore here), but rather doctrinal distinctives - the fine print added to the contract of orthodoxy - that are fine to explore and discuss, but threaten to become far more important than the gospel warrants.

Perhaps I'm trying to tell them, "Don't leave! Don't give up! There's room for you!" But maybe I'm just wrong, overly idealistic, naive. Maybe it's not right to tell these people there is room for them in most Christian circles - because there's not.

If that thought breaks your heart, you should read this book.

Many, no, most are happy with their orthodoxy and unbothered about the people who are about to leave or the outsiders who feel unwelcome. I have no wish to disturb them in any way, just as one doesn't want to disturb a hornet's nest (unless, say, it's hanging right in front of your front door and its inhabitants keeps stinging your kids and scaring away your guests). Enough. On to Chapter 1, and why I am a Christian."

The rest of the book may be complete rubbish, but now I have to read the rest. And even if it is rubbish, it may still be worth it just for those few paragraphs, particularly the picture of the problems with the Church being akin to a bunch of hornets that sting your kids and scare away your guests. I'll keep you posted on the book you've all already read.

Friday, May 05, 2006

"I don't want to over-spritualize or anything..."

I have heard this comment made numerous times about not wanting to "over-spiritualize" a given decision or world happening. Usually people say it when they are concerned that they might sound foolish thinking that God might be involved in their life decisions or in world happenings, natural or otherwise. Primarily, the phrase is used for situations that seem too minor or too obscure for God to be involved. "I don't mean to over-spiritualize or anything, but do you think it was God's will for Doug Mirabelli to catch Tim Wakefield in the first Sox-Yankees game of 2006?"

But it has me thinking. Is that possible? I mean, can we over-spiritualize anything? Are there aspects of our lives in which we need to cut back on our interaction with God, both in terms of understanding and expectation? Where do we draw the line, then? Where do we cut God out and where do we keep Him in the mix? Does God care what you eat for lunch today? Does he have an impact on the traffic you'll sit in on the way to work today? Does He have an impact on where you'll work today, what job you'll have next year? How much is He a macro God in charge of all the big stuff and how much is He a butterfly effect God?

Donald Miller says in Blue Like Jazz Chapter 17 Worship: The Mystical Wonder
"It comforts me to think that if we are created beings, the thing that created us would have to be greater than us, so much greater, in fact, that we would not be able to understand it. It would have to be greater than the facts of our reality, and so it would seem to us, looking out from within our reality, that it would contradict reason. But reason itself would suggest it would have to be greater than reality, or it would not be reasonable.

When we worship God we worship a Being our life experience does not give us the tools with which to understand. If we could, God would not inspire awe.

You cannot be a Christian without being a mystic. " For larger excerpt go here.

I guess my point is this: isn't it a slippery slope to de-emphasize the spiritual, mystical aspect that God brings to our lives? Aren't we then on the road to "under spiritualizing" our decisions, choices and world events?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Line Painting

"What do I hope to gain from this endeavor?"
you might ask yourself
Don’t know if I ever had direction or purpose,
or singleness of heart
--Phil Laeger, Blame

Ok, so this song Blame appears in my Quote of the Moment too. It's from an obscure early recording of the great American artist Phil Laeger entitled Live...and Far from Perfect. I was there the night it was recorded, but I digress.

Up until 3 months ago, I was very content with a job that had a very defined purpose--a relatively easy to measure set of results. I was working to see successful implementation of a specific course in discipleship training in Salvation Army congregations in Massachusetts. Lot of work to do, but a pinpoint focus. The only question was how to best accomplish the goal of more corps (churches) implementing the course.

One of the great challenges in the new job in which I find myself is the issue of focus, which brings us to the line painting truck. It's a pretty standard issue dumptruck I saw on the way to work last week. But on the back is tacked an orange sign that says "Line Painting." This truck may have many purposes but for this day, its purpose was singular and decisive. It was going to protect the vehicle that actually paints the lines from being interfered with by traffic. That's all it had to do that day. By fulfilling its purpose of announcing the line painter, it would play a small but significant role in ensuring straight lines on Boston highways for generations.

In the position in which I currently find myself, (which you can read more about in "...a new thing" here, if you don't know what I'm doing), I have great challenge when it comes to singleness of purpose. We have this tremendous macro, universe-sized single focus: to bring men, women and children into a deeper relationship with Christ and His Kingdom by whatever means availalble to us. There are many methods we could choose to accomplish that, many of them wrong, very few of them right. Keeping a straight line from the gift of $85 million to the end result of a more crowded Kingdom of Heaven is extraordinarily complicated.

Then there's the task itself, the job. On a given day, I may be in touch with our excellent architect, our gifted design firm, staff from the City of Boston, members of the Roxbury Corps, dedicated and tenacious members of The Salvation Army Greater Boston Advisory Board, members of the diverse pool that is the Upham's Corner community, etc. On that day, I might be working on a powerpoint for one of the various presentations we make weekly, strategizing a meeting to accomplish some portion of the project, writing for the Salvation Army's internal process related to the Kroc Center, writing for some local Army publication to keep them up to date, finding out what various words and abbreviations mean, thinking about what materials we should use in the construction of the center, trying to understand what the staffing might look like in a place this big, etc.

Then there's my life. Jen's job is cranking up right now to its usual early May fever pitch. She's working harder than I've ever seen her work because she only has two days a week to ensure over the phone and through email that the 85 people who will be at camp are chosen by God for the express purpose of changing children's lives with the love of Jesus. Riley is such an interesting person I would just like to spend all day every day watching and listening to her (until she utters the words, "Let's play family. I'll be the mommy, you be the baby.") Sydney is a different person every time I come home, learning new words, stretching her world, tackling new challenges and all that with her bangs in her eyes all the time (we're trying to get her hair all one length).

So, at the moment, I'm challenged, excited, humbled, amazed, but I gotta say, I'm a little jealous of the line painting truck. It has one purpose, stay behind the line painter and help it to make straight lines. The thought of such singleness of purpose on a minute-by-minute basis is enticing. And I bet the truck doesn't wake up in the middle of the night hoping it's doing the right thing with each precious moment of the day.