09 October, 2008

Ode to Hannity - by John Cleese

Dear John Cleese,
You are a genius.

Ode to Sean Hannity

by John Cleese

Aping urbanity
Oozing with vanity
Plump as a manatee
Faking humanity
Journalistic calamity
Intellectual inanity
Fox Noise insanity
You’re a profanity

13 September, 2008

Book Vases

I am a used book-fiend. I have personally visited 90% of the used-bookstores in Chicago and most of my collection is previously owned. While the rest of the nation focuses on getting people to actually read, I'm tilting at the windmills, trying to get people who buy books to find used ones first. Why print more when there is ample supply? I'm not going to get into my whole huge list of reasons why used books are cooler than corporate-sellout-newbooks, but I did stumble on some things to do with books that can't be sold or recycled (heavy glue in the bindings).

Designer Laura Cahill re-purposes used books using a bandsaw and test tubes. One minute it's a 1988 reprint of How to Use Microsoft Windows 95 and the next it's a beautiful (and waterproof!) flower vase.


"My idea of using second hand books came around after doing research into common unwanted objects. One of the most common unwanted objects that can be found at either charity shops, car boot sales and sometimes on the streets are books. I discovered that the glue in old books make them extremely difficult to recycle. Aware of this I challenged myself to turn the second hand books that I had been collecting, into desirable objects such as furniture, lighting and ornaments."


"I took a hands-on approach and started experimenting with the possibilities in which books can be used in other ways; I developed a number of delicate yet practical designs. Using traditional methods of book binding I transformed them into valued objects. My designs transform local waste, not only adding value but also creating art forms which are aesthetically pleasing."

In my effort to showcase the creative re-use of unwanted objects, I hope I've piqued your imagination. Hat Tip to boingboing and Chris Brooks.

Q: What is your most common unwanted item?

10 September, 2008

Meet Ashley Adam

Ashley Adam (Ash to many of her friends) is a Case Manager for kids in foster care. I tracked her down to the Starbucks on Belmont and Clark and she gave me permission to interview her for my blog.

me: So you know how these things work, right? I talk and then you try not to be shocked with my ridiculous questions...
Ash: Yeah, but I'm not sure I can be as witty as NPR.
me: Oh, I gave that up a long time ago...or have I?
Ash: Ask me a question already.

me: right right, sorry. ok, What is the least listened-to song in your iPod?
Ash: Another Night by The Real McCoys
me: Why is that?
Ash: I used to rollerskate to it in 8th grade, but who listens to that anymore?

me: What is your favorite tree?
Ash (without hesitation): Weeping Willow
me: That was quick. why?
Ash: They always seem so sad yet very wise.

me: What is your most useful trick that you use for math?
Ash: A calculator

me: What is your most feared animal?
Ash: Wolf Spider
me: Why?
Ash: Well, it's my most realistic one. I wouldn't want to be chased down the streets of Chicago by a Jaguar or a Cheetah!

A very good point.

Disclaimer: Ashley Adam consented to marry me on July 24, 2008. She blogs over at step lightly...

04 August, 2008

Another Reason Why I Love My Job

My boss went to Argentina and Brazil and bought me this coaster as a present.
Viva La RevoluciĆ³n!

31 July, 2008

a haiku

Zombie trips jogger
a lighter snack: delicious
Gamy yet robust

in honor of: Zombie Haiku

Write your own in the comments!

23 July, 2008


I just started playing around with a new site that is mobilizing users to get off the keyboard and meet up for real life "gatherings." The premise of Roov.com is to connect Christians in ever-widening concentric circles from Local Zipcode to Nation-Wide.

"Roovs are the the things you have done, are doing, or that you want to do. They’re a reflection of your everyday life. Share your
Experiences to inspire, ask questions to get answers and help others accomplish their goals." You pick from available roovs or create your own.

From the Roov Blog:

I had dinner a few nights ago with a guy named Dave that I just recently met. I met him at an art show of a mutual friend. He made me see my friends in a completely different light. He started with asking a few questions that together were very, very telling.

First, he asked me, “How many friends do you have on online on your ROOV thing and Facebook and whatever you have?” I told him I have over a thousand and he scoffed. He asked, “How many friends do you have?” I started to think of how many of the 1000+ people I would call a friend. In the middle of my thinking and making that “uhhhhhhhh…” sound we all make, as we enter into that pensive state of pondering, he stopped me. He asked me the exact same thing, but with a tone that let me know he was asking a deeper question than I was answering.

It turns out, the odds against having a true friend are pretty steep.

This site is building off of the model of online social networking that has made Barack Obama's grass-roots campaign so successful; its another attempt at melding high-tech with high-touch with an passionate/activist/christian spin added to the mixture. I'm very interested in new initiatives that are aimed at improving community by harnessing the power of the intertubes.

Some of my Roovs:
Create Music
Grow an Urban Garden
Go Skydiving

Change Christian Art and Music

15 July, 2008

Ok, Fine.

I've been trying not to address the fact that I'm blogging again after 2 months of dead air. Obviously, I've failed in that. In (a grudging) celebration of my return, I'll share a menagerie of web sites/apps I've been haunting for a while.

Hulu.com: Best internet TV I've found. (They have Hell's Kitchen!) Tv is bad for you though, don't give in. I got in on their beta release a few months ago and got stuck. Great interface, streaming...fun time. Perfect for a quiet night at home.

Piclens: Absolutely stunning media addon for browsers. Wowsers. You gotta see what this baby does to a google image search on a 24 inch iMac screen!

Pandora: Anyone who loves new music and likes to have their tastes codified needs to explore what this (FREE) streaming personalized internet radio can do for them.

Politico.com:BEN SMITH ROCKS (he helped me get over my primary-fatigue...I needed to hear more arguments from intelligent, articulate Hillary supporters)

Wonkette: Beltway Gossip - Even if it is a little offensive now and then...wonkette makes fun of everyone, and especially Ron Paul Moonies (which endears me to no end).

Twitter: I finally got it, linked it to my cellphone and then to my facebook so I can text updates to my FB status without using cell-phone-internet. (this is why it looks like I'm on FB ALL the time, haha)

Drudgereport: I didn't want to mention this site...mostly because it embarrasses me to realize that everyone else has been following this salacious gossip-hound for the past few years and I just discovered him in February.

Homegrownrevolution: Very detailed blog on Gardening and Sustainable Living within an Urban Context. Take back the lawns! Grow Food! I love it.

What am I missing?

07 July, 2008

At the end of a perfect day

Short List of Things that made today perfect:

  • Moderately on-time to work
  • An episode of 30 days on the lunch break
  • Post-work brainstorming
  • Free Ride to Dominick's
  • Food Purchase!
  • Free Ride Back from Dominick's
  • Feed the Kittehs!
  • Well-Executed Bow-Tie Dinner for two
  • Spontaneous Rock-On-Mocking {Devil's Horns to MTV}
  • Humidity
  • Roommate-Karaoke
  • An Ice-Cold-Beer before bed
  • Companionship with la Femme parfaite

from the sandman

My buddy Dhiraj copied this out for me in one of his fantastic (and always thought-provoking) emails.

from the sandman: preludes and nocturnes
morpheus (lord of the dreamworld) vs. choronzon (demon)
the game in hell
choronzon: "i am a dire wolf, prey-stalking, lethal prowler"
morpheus: "i am a hunter, horse-mounted, wolf-stabbing"
c: "i am a horsefly, horse-stinging, hunter-throwing"
m: "i am a spider, fly-consuming, eight legged"
c: "i am a snake, spider-devouring, poison-toothed"
m: "i am an ox, snake-crushing, heavy-footed"
c: "i am anthrax, butcher bacterium, warm-life destroying"
(morpheus abandons the offensive and goes his own way in the game)
m: "i am a world, space-floating, life nurturing"
c: "i am a nova, all-exploding, planet-creating"
m: "i am the universe-all things encompassing, all life embracing"
c: "i am anti-life, the beast of judgment. i am the dark at the end of everything. the end of the universe, gods, worlds...everything"
m: "i am hope"
(demon unable to respond)

Yeah...good stuff.

28 June, 2008

Prosaic Graffiti

Walking south on Milwaukee ave between california and damen this evening, I saw a few words spraypainted onto the sidewalk intermittently. I noticed a similar technique used on N.Clark st between irving park and montrose. As the sentance was flowing in the direction opposite mine, I decided to record the words in reverse and here is the result:


Quite the esoteric use of sidewalk.

27 March, 2008

AmeriCorps Interns are Smart!

My friend Josh interning at Harambee (via TechMission Corps) has some good thoughts on growing up in a racially polarized society.

(another TechMission Corps friend) is also blogging about her difficult experiences working with urban youth at Breakthrough Urban Ministries.

Evan (ok, they all are part of TechMission Corps but he has a position at TechMission itself) runs a great blog about all sorts of city-justice-tech.

Jon (who is interning for Pui Tak Center) writes about the Asian-American experience in the city.

23 March, 2008

Darkness of Holy Week

Lent through Easter is my favorite time of the year. I feel a sense of solidarity with all of the scattered church during this period of the church calendar. We are so divided by little theological foibles, it's difficult to see past the different positions on transubstantiation and baptism style to the part where we worship the same God and follow the same Christ. Lent is taking on the suffering of Christ. When we suffer, I believe that suddenly these titles and denominations mean much less than they did. The human propensity for in-group/out-group definitions spilled into places that Jesus' ministry abhorred. The Kingdom of God is about breaking down the barriers that separate us from one another. It's goal is to undo the sinful effects of Babel and the Fall. When we further divide ourselves by denomination and political-affiliation, we are undoing the work of Christ.

That said, I spent most of this week in Catholic Churches all across Chicago. Wednesday night, I attended Tenebrae services at St. John's Cantius, the Archdiocese of Chicago. Tenebrae literally means Shadows. The service is a celebration of the darkness that hangs over the Easter Holiday in the preparation of Holy Week. It was incredibly moving. Most of the service is responsorial psalm singing. The psalms are intoned in the traditional chant using texts set down before Vatican II. In between several sets of the psalms, the choir responds with early-Renaissance pieces and the lessons are chanted as well. There are 3 parts to the service, focusing on Christ's Betrayal, His Passion, and Death. The three lessons come from Jeremiah, St. Augustine on the Psalms, and Paul's Epistles. The service begins with limited lighting, fifteen candles on the lectern and six on the altar. Throughout the singing of 15 psalms and choral responses, the candles are slowly extinguished until the center candle remains. This candle represents the life of Christ. Near the end of the service, a celebrant removes the candle and holds it on the altar while the choir sings. At St. John's Cantius, the Choir sang Allegri's Miserere Mei, Deus, a piece that I once sang (one of the quartet), as a member of Musicam Sacram. At the end of this fifteen-minute, yet agonizingly beautiful piece, the Christ candle was hidden from view. Suddenly a loud rumbling noise filled the darkened cathedral. Everyone in the pews was striking the benches and floor, symbolizing the earthquake at Jesus' death. I wanted to cry out, to express the tragedy of what I was feeling. This was one of the most hauntingly beautiful moments I have ever experienced in Church. When this finished, the candle was brought back, and using this as one of the only illuminations in the room, we left in silence.

I don't care about where I am next year during holy week, I will fly back to Chicago for this service.

Thursday Night, I celebrated Passover with a Seder at a local Catholic ministry for UIC students and then went on a Pilgrimage with them and their priest to 9 different Catholic Parishes in the Chicago-loop area, including the 2 oldest Catholic churches in the city. The point of the 5 mile walk was to visit the different churches that had moved the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of Repose and pray in them. Often between churches, the group would pray a decade of the rosary with a recitation of Pope John Paul II's Luminous Mysteries by the priest. They understood that I was not catholic, and therefore I could pray however I wanted. We had lively discussions about what religion I was and what the differences are between whatever-I-am and catholics. I ended up praying in Latin most of the time, since I know the prayers better in Latin than in English. The ranges of experience in the different churches we visited were vast. Old St. Pat's was nearly completely darkened with the faithful constantly walking in and out, singing together: "Stay with me, remain here with me, watch and pray. Watch and Pray." This text is from the Taize Community. I don't know if they intentionally planned the Taize singing, but it added a wonderful and mysterious reminder of the Disciples' failure in the Garden. After the walk was finished, I spent the rest of the night keeping vigil with Jesus in the local chapel. Most of the time I wasn't directly in the room, but apparently tradition has it that someone should remain awake all night keeping watch with Jesus. Several pilgrims came to the chapel to pray with us for a time as well.

Friday, I slept. I woke up around 3pm and meditated for a while, and then slept again.

Saturday I attended an Easter Vigil service at Holy Name Parish, the oldest Catholic parish in Chicago (It survived the fire!). The service was energetic and very corporate. There is a strong African-American presence there, and its cultural influence permeated the liturgy, the music and the overall ambiance. I really had a wonderful time. I felt like I had found this amazing ice cream and then someone showed me how to put sundae toppings all over it! We celebrated the Easter Fire and the Lighting of the Easter Candle, processed around the church and followed the ancient liturgy. It's actually one of the oldest that we have. It starts with Genesis and Creation and moves through God's Faithfulness throughout the Bible. The tenor of the entire service is excited, hopeful and very happy. They welcomed new initiates into their family and baptized converts.

All in all, this has been a very fulfilling Lenten Season. I have discovered a lot about myself and where my place is currently. I am asking a lot of questions, and my horizons are very large. I hope these experiences will help inform my approaches to the Emerging Church.

Agnus Dei, quitolis pecata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, quitolis pecata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, quitolis pecata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

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08 March, 2008

Chiditarod 2008 or A Study in Altruistic Libertarianism

The Chiditarod is a 5 mile shopping cart race through Chicago's north side neighborhood Wicker Park. Contestants dress in outlandish costumes with more-or-less congruent themes. The overall goal of the race is to raise canned goods for charity. This year, (March 1) they brought in more canned goods than they could weigh and filled several pantries twice. There were technically 6 checkpoints set up at bars with judged contests like a fashion walk, a skit, a haiku recitation...etc. The full results should be up on Chiditarod.org soon.

"Teams are encouraged to do whatever it takes to win. Offering bribes to the judges and sabotaging other teams are part of the fun." - Satta Sarmah and Hilary Powell

A team that won finished very well, cheated massively: a scheme with multiple teams instantaneously leaving and arriving at checkpoints. The founder of Kill Joy then volunteered to check judges' scores and helped with a little creative math. The roller derby team, Windy City Rollers, had a dedicated sabotage team of close to 20 people wracking mayhem and sowing discord. Teams duct-taped other carts' wheels, zip-tied carts to poles and other carts, stole carts and hid them, blocked off entire roads with cellophane wrap and linked arms across intersections singing raucous peace rally songs.

The Chicago Methods Reporter embedded 10 journalists with handy-cams with different teams. The resulting video-reports are posted here.

Team CPD'oh
dressed their mushers as donuts being chased by a CPD car(t). The 13th precinct wants the cart when they're done.

I want to participate next year...if I still live here...if not, I'll fly back.

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01 March, 2008

On winding up again And quarterlife

I was pretty sick this week, I'm getting over a respiratory (read:bird) flu. Knocked me flat for about 3 days and squashed my will to write. I could have come up with a few zingers on drugs in American society and the big cold-virus pharma, but I didn't.

I decided to let myself get really bored on the internet and see what I discover.
I found a kind of internet forum paradise. Imagine: No Trolls, tons of respectful online LISTENING, love for newbies, camaraderie...I was shocked.
I'm still shocked. quarterlife.com.

I found this tv show on hulu (a TV streaming site...really cool, you should check it out) called quarterlife. The premise is that 40 is the mid-life crisis and 20 is half of mid. It's about some kids my age struggling with big concepts into their macbook iCams on a vlog/blog site. The site actually exists and it actually works. I love the show, it apparently got picked up by NBC and its pilot had the worst ratings ever. I blame that on its prime demographic. Most people my age don't think watching TV is cool. The acting is really great for the most part; the characters are real and the plot is believable.

I think that this site is part of a new online movement. As bandwidth speeds continue to increase, I believe we will see a sharp spike in the number of people communicating via video. Of course, this is no crazy prediction...people have been forecasting the end of keyboards for years now. However, this is a step for me. I decided to sign up for quarterlife.com so that I can practice my vlogging skillz. It's the new wave.

Oh, and anyone who hasn't seen Ellen Degeneres talking to 88 year old Gladys in Austin, it is hilarious.

If you want to see my embarrassing efforts, drop a comment.

20 February, 2008

Urban Aesthetic and Reanimation

Despite many recent posts to the contrary, this blog is supposed to be about the Urban Aesthetic; the rediscovery of forgotten value. I want to write about the rebirth and renewal that I see every day in cast-off things. My goal in community development is to find value where I live. This disinvested neighborhood needs to be appreciated and nurtured, rejuvenated and loved. The Urban Aesthetic is finding new use -inspired by the muses of necessity- for unwanted things, ideas and people. For lack of a segue, I give you:

The Reanimation Library

The Reanimation Library collects books that have been deemed useless and out-moded by the rest of society and returns them to circulation as a resource for "artists, writers and other cultural archaeologists." It is based in Brooklyn and claims to harbor books from "thrift stores, stoop sales and throw-away piles across the country." My boxes of forgotten books are no longer the only collection of its kind. The curator is slowly scanning interesting pictures from the various volumes, re-envisioning library like Dr. Frankenstein saw rotting corpses.

All the pictures are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 license. creative commons license

(This means you can use the images, but you can't make money off of them and you must credit to the source.)

The curator, Andrew Beccone has this to say about his delightful collection:
Although unbeknownst to me at the time, the collection that would become the Reanimation Library began at 3:19 P.M. on September 8th, 2001, when I purchased Karl U. Smith and William M. Smith's The Behavior of Man: An Introduction to Psychology for $1.37 at a Goodwill in Saint Paul. Although I had frequented thrift stores since the early 1990's, I had rarely purchased books from them. I was absolutely amazed by the quality and number of graphics in The Behavior of Man, and my subsequent thrift outings became focused on finding more books like it. This turned out to be easier than I had thought: once I began searching thrift stores, garage sales, library sales, and junk stores, I found many more books filled with diagrams, illustrations, and pictures covering a wide expanse of human knowledge. And the surprising thing was that for the most part, these books had been removed from the public sphere of information - they were the unwanted discards of libraries and personal collections. It was fortunate for me, although somewhat confusing, that no one seemed to want these books. [emphasis mine]
I have seen too many boxes of unwanted books sitting by the curb after an unsuccessful yard-sale. I have probably taken too many boxes of those books home with me too, but if you want to hear complaints, talk to my bookshelves. Mr. Beccone is encouraging a new environmentalism: reuse before recycle. Or maybe this is recycling...or maybe both at the same time. The point is: someone found "useless, unwanted things" and has turned them into something new and beautiful. These books have been rescued from their societally abandoned ash pile and are being digitized (and improved) as an affordable and shareable medium.

This reminds me of Christ. He is in the business of making all things new: my neighborhood, our political system, our ways of life. He restores my soul, our souls. The restoration that he brings to our lives allows us to holistically renew the communities around us.

If you have had any meaningful interactions with the Urban Aesthetic lately, drop me a comment. Anyone want to roadtrip to Brooklyn?

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19 February, 2008

Goody Goody Link Drops!

Small sampler of what has held my attention recently:

"...It's because the editors of the NIV pee sitting down..."
Video of a sermon; the Man's Church meets the KJV.

America: Seven Deadly Sins by Geography
from Forbes.com via Tall Skinny Kiwi

Library DDR
I will trade you a Rock On rating on Symphony X for 3 overdues and a lost book. <BB>

Where's The Banned Beef?
The life of a dairy cow. That's enough for me.

Emergents Do Not Hate Scripture!
At least, that's what the conspirators want you to believe!

Apparently Karl Barth is fine for Wheaton, but Tony Jones is not...

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15 February, 2008

On the Results of Political Activism

Disclaimer: None of the activities mentioned in this post took place during paid Americorps time.

On Feb 12, I posted a facebook event to help publicize a donation drive for Obama. Being Lincoln's birthday, this event which was originally promoted here, sought to commemorate the connection between Lincoln and Obama by encouraging his supporters to donate $5.00 and $.01, the denominations we use to honor our former president. I had a lot of fun putting everything together and my group potentially raised about $500 for Obama (not bad for a little inspired facebook trolling).

Now that you have the background information, I can get to the point. I found the responses to my invitations much more interesting than the awareness and fund raising they generated. Many of the Ron Paul supporters (or Paulites as I like to call them) immediately left anti-Obama/pro-Paul messages on the wall of the event. I didn't mind very much that the messages were there, but I think a better response would be to create their own events to reach people instead of piggy-backing on my own work, so I deleted most of them. (Ack! Obama Supporters Censor Free Speech!) In case you didn't know, I can't stand Ron Paul...but I deleted the Hillary and Huckabee comments also [Get Your Own FB EVENT!].

I find political banter to be highly entertaining and I love hearing arguments for and against my chosen candidate. (however, I do not enjoy being baited...unless it's done in fun.) However, some of the responses directed personally at me were disturbing. They showed up in my FB Inbox in response to notes I had sent to all of the people I invited.

The first one reads:
I don't know that this response really deserves another riposte, but note the fact that the responder is calling my faith into question. All-caps signifies Yelling in an online medium. The main point of the argument is based on a fallacious email being maliciously spread by uninformed forwarders. Perhaps this is why the less-educated states are going for Hillary? I'll come up with a terse yet kind response to this later.

Here's the second of note:
"Chris, I will not help nor vote for a candidate who supports the murder of the unborn. Also, could you help me understand how those who say they know Jesus Christ can adamantly advocate such an individual? I am trying to wrap my mind around this."
This one is more insidious and just as fallacious as the first response. Again, my faith is called into question and the basis of outrage is mis-information. Oh goodness, I could talk for hours about churches that tie their Christianity into a political party (on both sides of the aisle) and Christians who only believe what James Dobson tells them. I grew up listening to Dr. Dobson. I like him as a person. His radio shows engaged me with interesting topics from a young age. Adventures in Odyssey totally rocked. However, I think he's allowing his political affiliation and societal standing to influence his interpretation of scripture. It's a different facet of a syncretism that is vehemently condemned from traditional pulpits across the country.

I started to respond to the second responder in an angry fashion. It suddenly occured to me that this person was probably feeling as cynical toward me as I felt in reaction. I know from previous experience that this person has no understanding of social justice or racial reconciliation and makes no effort to mask contempt for the concepts. Instead of being very very mean, I ended up responding harshly, but with a personal vulnerability. My deepest thoughts on abortion are too personal to share here, but if you want, I'll relate them privately. Overall, I don't feel that attempts to legislate this issue out of existence will work. I agree with what John Perkins said (at Wheaton, no less):
"I believe in the Right to Life...that means ALL life, not just the life of the unborn..."
I believe in the right to Life, as well as the right to Live. We cannot neglect one for the other.

This interview with Barack Obama, published in Christianity Today, was written by my friend and former classmate Sarah Pulliam. It showed me a politician who understands the need to balance religion and political office. His Christianity informs his actions, but his Christianity is not informed by a voting bloc.

Election issues aside, I think this whole facebook exchange has shown me that we need to pay closer attention to what political candidates have said instead of considering someone's support for them to be a tacit acceptance of a socio-political issue (and then questioning their faith). No one should become a one-issue voter. None of our choices are good enough for that.

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13 February, 2008

Mixed Media

Barack Obama Won Maryland!!

To be honest, I am shocked. I had expected Hillary to squeak by him in my home state. I remember so many people in PG county, MontGo county and pretty much everywhere around Frederick county (quite red) ADORING the Clintons while they were in office. Oh, heh...I just said 'while They were in office,' oops. :)

Obama actually carried my home, Frederick County by 3%. County-by-county Results

"We will not allow our dreams to be deferred..."
He mixes his literary/cultural references so well.

Ok, enough gushing. Although I may have raised close to $500 for him through a FB event...I'm not allowed to campaign or raise political funds for anyone while on Americorps time, and I don't.
Ok, really enough.

I'm headed out to Wheaton in the morning to hand out promotionals for the upcoming CCDA Conference in Miami. Dr. John Perkins is speaking for the annual Missions in Focus event there. I'm super excited. Interestingly enough, the man who inspired me at the MIF in 2005 will be a plenary speaker at CCDA08: Rev. Soong Chan Rah. He and I are acquaintences, we've had lunch a few times. I would love to study under him and Dr. Mary Nelson at North Park Seminary.

CCDA (Christian Community Development Association - where I work) has finally rolled out its new website. There are still things for me to fix and interesting taxonomy issues, but we are very happy to see the fruit of our labors. TechMission has done an excellent job in creating new online resources for us. Anyone who wants to subscribe to our eNewsletter (assembled by yours truly) can sign up right on our home page.

Ok, enough plugging.
I have to be up early. Goodnight!

04 February, 2008

Why Politics Make Me Cry...sometimes

The last time I remember crying because of politics, I was 8, and Bush Sr. had just lost to Clinton. Now I find myself heavily invested in politics again, but this time, all of the potential I see has brought out this emotional response. I'm not the only one reacting this way. Across our country, a wave of the sorrowful past is crashing down. We ride the crest on the swells of Yes, we can.

Nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices crying for change

I have been following this election closer than I have followed any other. For the past year, ever since Barack Obama announced his candidacy, I have been glued to polls, fund raising estimates, outbursts and politicos. I was fascinated with Obama after the 2004 Democratic Convention. I am even more fascinated with him now.

It is funny to think that I fall directly into my demographic; pre-to-post-college grads. It's also funny to realize that all of my friends except one or two are supporting him with me. It says something about how I've changed and something about how my friends have changed.

My earliest memories about Bill Clinton (that made an impact) had to do with disgrace and adultery. He taught me a great deal about adult life and the consequences therein. I also grew up listening more to impersonators of Clinton on Rush Limbaugh's Radio Show than I did to Clinton making speeches himself. My fondest memories of Hillary are tied into a remix of "All I wanna Do"(...is rule the world), sung by someone sounding like the First Lady. An auspicious backdrop to be sure.

I like both candidates, but Obama has resonated with many of the ideas and ideals that I hold to be precious. Consistently, he has offered policy ideas that make perfect sense to me. I find him to be a student of history, not a revisionist; he is someone willing to stare the ugly parts of this country in the eyes and not back down.

Quick note on why I'm voting Democrat:

I simply find their attitudes towards the people of the world to be closer to what Jesus meant when he said "Love Your Neighbor." Of course, there are bad people that call themselves democrats, but even a system that doesn't work perfectly is better than a system that promotes unrestricted capitalism (which I think is a pretty good economic idea, but sucks as a religious one). One side of the aisle glosses over the sins of the past while the other gives them a glossy finish, framed on the wall of "progress." Like I've said before in previous posts (here and here), I'm firm in my belief that we all need to think globally, not just nationally, or as a state. We are all interconnected communities. Man's actions and political policies do not happen in a vacuum. I think that some of the ideas and strategies of the republican party could work, I simply think that these strategies have other interests in mind. This sort of thinking runs both ways. I want a president who understands these realities and wants to reconcile the damages of the past decade. I grew up in the Newt Gingrich era of super-partisanship. The way to get something done in politics was to divide and conquer with superior numbers and filibusters. I believe that it is time for something new, something hopeful.

I want to post soon about my neighborhood. I've got the title written already.

15 January, 2008

Pledge to the Flag Daily

Hillary Clinton thinks that every child should say the pledge of allegiance every day.

"...I personally believe every American child should start the day saying the pledge of allegiance. I did, and I believe every child should.”
I grew up saying the Pledge of Allegiance every day up through most of high school. This is when I thought that it is a Christian's Duty to "submit to the governing authorities," "rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar's." Later in college, I began to understand that national boundaries are man-made; depending on your view of free will, there may or may not be implied approval from God about them. I have come to the conclusion that my first allegiance is to the Kingdom of Heaven, not any kingdom on earth. I am a stranger here and my identity is not of this place.

Religious considerations aside, Americans need to start thinking globally. Prevailing attitudes about other countries, (short-sighted and "unilateral") are mirrored in our disastrous foreign policy of late. We need to think about environmental and quality-of-life issues for people other than ourselves. Pledging our allegiance to a country (in the name of God) is more serious than we think. It could also take on the mantra-like quality of a nightly conversion at bedtime.

07 January, 2008

True Gold

Couldn't resist posting this.

Randall Munroe is a physicist whose full time job now consists of alternately shocking and entertaining the entire internet with his ever-stylish stick figure drawings. Sometimes he adds a little theoretical math and applies it to everyday situations. His comics have been known to contain strong language and may not be suitable for young children. (Hint: hover your mouse over the picture) This particular piece is meaningful to me because I was once a rabid starwars novel fan. I know...hard to believe...

04 January, 2008


Obama on illegal immigration:

"These are people who are trying to make a living. I understand they broke the law. But let me tell you something: if the minimum wage in Canada was $100 an hour ..."

...I'd probably be up there.

Here's his victory speech in Iowa:

I was worried. I was worried that my hopes would be dashed in the political system. I suppose I've overcome political heartbreak before (when Clinton beat Bush in '92, I cried), but we're SO CLOSE this time. I'm thinking about the amount of cynicism I see towards governmental structures generated by marginalized people. Our system needs this. It's not panacea, but it will do a lot of good.

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02 January, 2008

E'en So Lord Jesus, Quickly Come

Music by Paul Manz, text adapted by Ruth Manz

Revelation 21:1-4

Peace be to you and grace from him
Who freed us from our sins,
Who loved us all and shed his blood
That we might saved be.

Sing holy, holy to our Lord,
The Lord, Almighty God,
Who was and is and is to come;
Sing holy, holy, Lord!

Rejoice in heaven, all ye that dwell therein,
Rejoice on earth, ye saints below,
For Christ is coming, is coming soon,
For Christ is coming soon!

E'en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come,
And night shall be no more;
They need no light nor lamp nor sun,
For Christ will be their All!

01 January, 2008


I'm not going to wish you all a happy new year because I think happy is a transient state of mind. Instead, I bid you a New Year of Shalom. May you find true understanding and love in grace.

New Year's Dates
Last night at a New Year's Party I met a young lady named Julie. She is a liberal-Mormon-turned-baptist and fierce American. Her New Year's Resolution for last year was to truly become an American, to try to understand conservatives and blue collar workers, to get a taste for baseball and church and patriotism. She told me that this last year was one of the best ones she's ever had and this year's Resolution is to have a year just like last year. One particularly poignant thing she shared with me was her desire to start a vernacular movement. On her travels from Utah she has been spreading this new paradigm. Consider: how long will we continue to call our dates Two-Thousand-And...? In the last century, we said Nineteen-something. This year is a fantastic time to ease ourselves into the new way of doing things. Instead of two-thousand-and-eight, rather: Twenty-O-Eight. The elision of the syllables between twentY, Oh and EIGHt. Starting this process in 2009 or 2010 would be a much more difficult transition. While we're all trying to remember to write 2007 2008 we should also train ourselves to say it in the most forward-looking way possible. Do it for Julie.

A Declaration of War
I have found mouse-droppings behind my refrigerator and beside my suitcase. This is simply untenable. I saw one today climb out of Gabbie's Trashcan. Attention Mice: This is your last warning. Leave my premises or I will be forced to take Lethal Action (in the guise of self-defense of course). This warning is superficial and is intended to keep yours truly out of a war-crimes trial. I have already purchased said munitions with blood diamonds. Illegal immigrants will not be tolerated! I realize that the economic trade agreement that I made with the gas company means that my sovereign space is warmer than yours, and that I am inadvertently polluting yours, but that does not mean that you are allowed to illegally sneak into my territory and reap the same benefits for which I have worked so hard. If you turn yourselves in, no one will be euthanized, merely deported. You have 10 minutes.

To all of you Proponents of Amnesty for Illegal Mice in My Apartment: Take A Hike!

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