Saturday, April 29, 2006

Dancer, Warrior, My Daughter

Sarah and I were out last night to a going away party/video game party for Anmarrie, we took Dance Dance Revolution along. Not only did Sarah sweep the competition from the dance mats, she also swept them from the batelfield. She took top spot in more than one round of Halo 2. For the last couple of rounds they handicapped her to keep the game even. I'm so very proud :)

- Peace

Friday, April 28, 2006

Law: Blessings and Woes

Psalm 1 tells us that blessed is the man who meditates on the law of the Lord, day and night. But in Luke 11 Jesus says to experts in the law, woe to you.

At first glance, I'm tempted to resolve this tension by concluding that meditating on the law is fine as long as you do not become an expert. By that interpretation, I think I'll do just fine.

But, I'm a computer geek and two things come to mind. First is jUnit/nUnit - a suite of automated tests you can create to make help find mistakes in the software you write. You write a whole bunch of tests designed to sniff out your problems. You run these tests (like an examination of conscience) to detect errors as early and often as reasonble so you can fix errors. It makes fixing problems a lot easier because you have less places to look and your recent actions are still fresh in your memory. Are the Ten Commandments and the books of the Law like unit tests we should be running on our lives to help fix things before they cause trouble? If so, the Law is a blessed thing indeed.

Now the second thing that comes to mind is online role-playing games. The scourge of those games are "player-killers". Other players that run around plundering and looting your stuff, beating up your character, when all you want to do is make a few friends, live, and let live. The games often have "rules" and some "peace rooms" and guards to "assist the innocent". But these rules aren't published anywhere and are quite complex.

The player-killers know the rules inside and out. They know exactly what can and cannot be done without being flagged as "an agressor". They know how long the "agressor flag" lasts so that guards will assist them instead of you if you try to retaliate after this special amount of time goes by. They know sneaky and underhanded legal tricks. And they know how to whine to the administrators if you do something "illegal" in your attempt to defend yourself. The rules/laws now become an extra tool "player-killers" can use to beat up on newbies or smaller groups. Their aggressive and bullying behavior is precisely what drives them to know the laws really really well.

And perhaps this is what Jesus is getting at when he explains to the experts he rebukes them: "you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them". Jesus has said earlier that the entire point of the Law is to help us love God and our neighbor. But many of us prey off the misfortunes of others. And in our quest to sate our greed, we then use our knowledge of the Law to exploit, bully, and take advantage others. When we do this, we are not holy at all but in fact we have become the opposite of holy.

So when we use the laws like unit tests to check up on ourselves and correct our flaws, Psalm 1 applies and we can rest easy knowing we have chosen a blessed path. But when we use the laws (or theology, or the "system") to take advantage of others, we have become perhaps the most reviled thing in the New Testament: a Pharisee.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Question for ThirtySomethings

My new pet theory is that thirty-somethings like myself grew up in "unusual times" and was wondering if my own anecdotal evidence matches other people's.

When I went to the same Church as Dave, I noticed something really odd at the young adults group. While the group was mostly comprised of devoted Christians, most of them were following a path at odds with the direction their parents gave them. Namely, their parents were fairly nominal or even downright opposed to the Christian faith. I noticed this same pattern in several other young adult groups as well. Conversely, this Church had devoted Christians of my parents generation whose children had stopped attending Church. This was so prevalent that I began to think of this as the norm. Strong Christians coming from a strong Christian family seemed the exception rather than the rule.

But maybe that was just an unusual phenomenon. I hardly think that the flow of Christianity in a nation's history consists of two groups of people flip-flopping to the other side. I really don't think we should be rewording the hymn "Faith of our Fathers" to "Faith of our GrandFathers". Surely God's grace isn't like a good Star Trek movie, subject to the curse of the odd-numbers.

I look at the young adults now and the active Christians tend to come from, surprise surprise, strong Christian families. I'm beginning to think that's the usual pattern and that my generation was a little weird in that the Christian faith in the young usually seemed opposite to the parents.

Anyone else noticed stuff like this?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Plan

Well I'm running a bit behind with getting on top of my bike ridding for 2006. Start of April I had a grad total of 42 km done, so now I'm in catch up mode. I'm at 283 km as of this morning. Here's the plan for the rest of the year to get me to 3800 km without having to rely on ridding in December.

KM for Month Running Total
Jan to April
400 400
May 550 950
June 550 1500
July 550 2050
August 550 2600
September 550 3150
October 450 3600
November 200 3800

- Peace

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Next Blog Upgrade

Part of using the free blogspot hosting is that little menu bar at the top, they call it the Blogger NavBar. Me I ignore it, but it does bring some trafic by the blog and I of course check out the other sites to see if they've linked to IdeaJoy or if it's just random trafic from the Next Blog button. As of late the trafic from Next Blog has seemed less random. The other blogs are often using simillar key words to the current posts on IdeaJoy. Give it a spin and tell me if I'm imagining it.

- Peace

Friday, April 21, 2006

Leonard Cohen and Last Exile

I picked up the The Essential Leonard Cohen a couple of weeks back, and Mike lent me the anime series Last Exile at the same time. I've been struck by the similarities between the two. Both draw on a wide range of traditions to create a new unique voice. Cohen draws on the western Cannon, Jesus, democracy, the music industry are all in his mix. Last Exile mixes traditional 2d animation with3d CGI effects, while it doesn't always work, at times it's brilliant. Last Exile also draws on wide range of culture, from 1930's Sci Fi to 1800's Military. Neither Leonar Cohen nor Last Exile spend any time explaining themselves. Both just drop you into their worlds, you have to get your bearings as you go.

- Peace

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Burying talents (part two)

We can all agree that our family is our number one mission field. We also know that serving our family is full of fairly menial tasks that resemble foot-washing and carrying the cross. But what of all the unused talents? Why does serving the Lord seem to involve so many wasted gifts and unused talents?

Consider Peter, he was strong enough to drag a net of 153 wet fish (this could easily be close to 500 pounds!) and to slice off someone's ear (I still wonder why Jesus ordered the disciples to bring swords before he was arrested). But Jesus said that he didn't even need Peter to be strong enough to dress himself. Consider Stephen (Acts 6), he was singled out "as a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit" to fulfill the glamorous role of... waiting on tables. And then he dies in the next chapter. Consider Our Lord whose insights into the human heart make Eugene Petersen and Pope John Paul II appear like ignoramuses by comparison. He ended his teaching ministry to get nailed to a tree. Consider Maximilian Kolbe who trained for years in a seminary - then volunteered for death by lethal injection so a young man with wife and children could escape death. And the list of prodigious scholars, musicians, and athletes who gave it all up to serve the Lord goes on and on and on.

We all know that the greater good of loving others far outweighs the value of the unused talents. But why does God give us all these talents and gifts and not ask us to use them? Couldn't he give these talents and gifts to someone who would live in such a way so as to use these talents and gifts in the service of the Lord? Why do we even have these gifts to begin with if we are not going to use them? Perhaps the words of Our Lord can answer this question.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds
(John 12:24)

Perhaps we should view the "wasted gifts" not as "buried talents" but as "buried kernels". And perhaps within the paradox of allowing God's gifts to go unused in order to serve him there lies the reason behind.... giving things up for Lent. It gets our priorities focussed on loving others instead of efficiently using our gifts to maximize our results.

At times I think we should be singing "Our God is a wasteful God" for he seems less concerned with efficiency than we are.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Rachel Hikes with the Shadows

Rachel Hikes with the Shadows

Monday, April 17, 2006

Jesus Needs to be Converted? A Rant.

Then the King will say, "I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you
did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was
me--you did it to me."

Matthew 25:40

Somewhere along the lines evangelism got mixed up with loving people. FRED (Friendship Relationship Evangelism Decision) is a classic evangelical formula. But if the love between Christians is the primary way we reach the world, does that leave us off the hook for taking Christian love to the world? Hell no!

It does free us from 'loving' people because we hope to convert them. It frees us to love them because Christ first loved us. What do you get the God who has everything? You love his kids.

The good Samaritan is the classic story of being a good neighbour. The first people who heard that story could never imagined a Samaritan evangelising a Jew. Even the miraculous healing of lepers had only a 10% conversion rate. Our programs pale by compassion.

- Peace

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sunrise Pilgrims

Sunrise Pilgrims

Friday, April 14, 2006

The indirection of Jesus

Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples--when they see the love you have for each other.
I've been haunted by this passage of John for a while now. As far as I know this is the only place where Jesus talks about how disciples would have influence in the world. I've been asking friends for other examples and we've come up blank.

So what if this is it.? The key to reaching the world is for disciples of Jesus to love one another. How insanely indirect is that? Maybe it's not about technique, being relevant, creating sensitive spaces for seekers, speaking with moral authority, being post whatever or any of the other things I've been obsessed with. It undermines much of what I have thought about evangelism and Church life. It's both freeing and scary all at once.

to be continued...

- Peace

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Burying my talents?

I was wondering if any Christians feel the way I do after they become a parent...

After I converted to Christianity, yet before I became a parent, I felt very much like the servant who used two talents in an attempt to serve his master. (The first was music ministry, the second was apologetics). I used these two talents heavily, God blessed me richly, and I enjoyed it all (I don't know if anyone other than myself benefitted from these talents but that is a question for another day).

And then the kids arrived.

Over the past six years, I tried a few times to use those old talents but found that it just wasn't working out. Yes, it is possible to play the piano in Church with children crawling on your lap but when they started banging on keys, it seemed obvious that for everything there is a time, and that time is not now. Yes, there were and are plenty of opportunities to get involved with Church outreach programs, but when the wife got exhausted, kept going hard despite a weakened immune system, and got shingles, it also seemed pretty obvious that my timing was way off.

And so the past six years have been characterised by a lack of use of those two talents. At first, it was hard for me to give that up but I have come to see my wife and family as sufficiently important to give up these preferred activities. After all, Our Lord interrupted his "teaching" session with the disciples at the Last Supper in order to wash their feet. Surely changing diapers and cleaning vomit and milk off the floors (thank you Lord, for giving me the wisdom to drive the plague of carpets from our house) have an important place in my own responsibilities as follower of Christ. Overall, I have learned to find a measure of joy, peace, and satisfaction in my more mundane activities (like replacing a toilet, sanding a cupboard, or disposing of dead mice) which far outstrips what I had during my years as a single Christian exercising his talents.

And yet, while at the plow, I turn my head back (yes, I know this makes me unfit for the kingdom of God), and remember those two buried talents and wonder: "what will the Lord say to me?" He warned us that the worthless servant that buries their talents will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:29).

Any other Christian parents ever feel like their talents are rotting away due to lack of use?

Sometimes literal is good

Foot WashingThere is far more going on in John 13:1-15 than a literal obedience to wash one another's feet would capture. Still it was enligtening to actually participate in the literal washing of feet. The sense of contact with another. It wasn't just ritual as we'd just finished painting with our feet so they needed real scrubing. We shared our common hesitancy to show our feet to one another. We took the chance to pray for each person as their feet were washed. I was truly moved.

Sarah and I spent Saturday afternoon with some folk from Xalt working on art for their Sunday evening gathering.

- Peace

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Crushing Blow

The rockumentry of Nordic 'band' Hurra Torpedo. Paste has it on the April/May DVD, Mike and I watched it on Saturday and laughed muchly. My favorite line is at the end of Band Breaks Up where the lead singer explains that even as a solo act the preasure will get to him and he will break up, but he'll get back together with himself.

Yes I know it's viral marketing for Ford, but it's very funny.

- Peace

Monday, April 10, 2006

Not Feeling Skinnier or Anything

A very short part of my morning bike commute takes me on a shared pedestrian / bike path. This morning a young girl, grad three or four commented to her Dad that even though she had started walking to school she "wasn't feeling skinnier or anything". From the tone of her voice you could tell it was a real concern for her. I nearly wept.

- Peace

Friday, April 07, 2006

Sufjan Stevens, Free MP3s

Sufjan Stevens :: Free MP3s + Lyrics there's a nice selection of his new stuff and older. Sufjan was named Paste Magazine's Artist of the Year. Download some tracks and find out why.

As seen on Wired's Listening Post.

- Peace

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Lisa, who comments here everyonce in a while has started her own blog. Love the title!

- Peace

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

AvantGo RSS Reader

The AvantGo service downloads news to your PDA so you can read it when offline. Great for the bus or when standing in line somewhere. They've added an RSS Reader so you can get more customized streams than the same thing you heard on the news. I used it to get my flickr contact pics, but it didn't work with the headlines from Paste. It's still in Beta so there's hope.

- Peace

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Galaxie 500

Galaxie 500