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So, my dad got a new car stereo for his birthday. After taking a bit to come, it finally came, and had all sorts of self-install stuff with it. Save a bit of money and such.

Today, then, I got to installing the stereo and the new speakers. Not too bad. Only I’ve never done anything like this before. My cars have always had too much trouble simply running for me to ever worry about audio, let alone installing it myself.

Seminary, you might be surprised, doesn’t teach these sorts of things.

I should have prepared a bit. Turns out I needed a screwdriver of type I had, but not one long enough to fit in the quite out of place spot it was located (it wasn’t a normal type of screwdriver, by the by, one of those fancy kinds…. no, I’m not talking about a philips).

Then I realized I had to crimp some wires in the wiring assembly adapter. Yeah. I needed crimping clamps. That’s what I called them. When I went to radio shack I realized I needed to buy some insulated-crimp butt connectors. So, I crimped and connected, and did all sorts of other things, including trying to figure out how to take off the dash cover when there was no possible way to get a certain bolt I needed out. I finagled. That seemed to work, and so I got in the radio. Then a bit later the speakers.

Six hours and a little bit more I turned everything on. There was power. Only the radio was stuck in demo, and no button seems to be working.

It does beep nicely, and makes a sound when you leave the face plate on, and it lights up with verve. I put a cd in and it played that. Only once I turned it off I can’t get it to play anything anymore. Just a demo telling me about the features I can’t seem to use.

So that’s my day. And since I have no confidence whatsoever about my stereo installation skills I haven’t any idea whether it’s me or the radio, whether it’s a setting or something peculiarly broken.

I do know that I’d much rather wrestle with the complexities of God in this world and the complications of understanding the Divine interactions.

Installing car stereos just right, however, is plain too tricky.

a realization

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Running through knee deep snow for a couple of miles is good exercise. Even if a person only ends up running about half it because it’s rather a bit better exercise than one expected, and the snow was a little deeper than assumed. Well, even if it was only knee deep for a part, and shin deep for another longer part, and for the slightest bit just ankle deep, it’s still good exercise.

It’s also a beautiful way to spend a bit of the afternoon.

Happy Spring

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Right now, at 10:26 local time, and whatever time it is in other parts of the world, the Sun is directly over the earth’s equator.

Winter has come to an end.

Happy Spring!

Happy Spring to you!

well then

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Band Tailed Pigeon

Out and back again

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Every so often, maybe once a year or so, I peak my head out of my social situation and have a look around to see whether there is something afoot. Sometimes, over the years, I’ve done this and made some kind of big step, embracing something which is “out there” even if there is significant mystery involved.

I went to Wheaton under that outward expansion, and then later on to Fuller, though Fuller was the second or third post graduation peeking about that finally clicked.

Recently, I’ve had a look out about again, spending much of December through February a lot of other places than where I’m at, even if sometimes I didn’t leave where I was at. In my mind I wandered afield, and had a look around, curious if maybe my services were being called forth in this wider world once again, curious if maybe there was an end coming to this more focused inward journey. I honestly have been feeling a bit antsy, with much the same sort of inner push that had always pushed me into a curious direction, and the last time I felt it so strongly I came up to these mountains, or rather I should say I felt it about 6 months before I came up, and somehow knew there was a call for me here.

I took a class. I talked about church and ministry and possibilities. I called friends near and far, thinking there was a renewal of my own soul, and so that should be reflected among people I may not have seen for a while.

Now, I figure I’m at the end of that road. No one answered. No one called. I looked out and everyone was busy about their business and there wasn’t an answer for me. There was a hint, and a murmur, and what I assumed to be whispers. It was only the wind, and now the breeze has died down, and now my heart is weary of looking outwards when it is clear that being neither here nor there is the absolute worst position for my soul. If I cannot be there, then I must be here, with all that means. And likely what this means is the end of an even longer road, a road traveled along with people I’ve known since I was a teenager, even if friendships took longer than that to blossom.

But they are busy about their lives, the tram is now full and leaving the station, and somehow I misplaced my ticket in my other coat. Ah well.

Why write this now? Well, because it seems more potent than a mere turn of emotions, and because I’ve learned to never fully assume that what I’m feeling is entirely limited to what I’m feeling. There’s that wee chance that something is going on about this world, and it’s worth noting such a mood as this.

I guess I picked up a the various lives of Christian saints for a reason then. If there’s no room in the inn, I guess I’ll see what the caves have to offer. What I hate is that coming to the end of such a road is so entirely couple with an enormous and almost overwhelming sense of personal lack and frustration. It’s a reality that I have little to go by except my own faith and my own self-confidence to push me into realms I would not have otherwise discovered. When these falter… well, that’s something, and it’s not pretty. They’ve faltered, and that forces me into a reexamination, and it makes me realize I have to step back again. Things were whispering but they were not talking, and I’m oh so weary of nothing but whispers.

Whispers are all I have ever known, and I’m thinking tonight what I thought were words were for all this time nothing more than a branch stirred by a breeze. Which leaves me rather decisively out of luck, as I’ve walked too far down a road now to turn about.

Where else would I go?

So what was it? I think it was a lot of things, a lot of my own waning enthusiasm and the messages which never seemed to get returned to me. Fine and all those things, for it is my confidence that the Spirit is at work, though I would prefer a more active sort of work than an always and continual isolating paring of my being. I didn’t realize until today, however, that St. Pats day had more of a weight to me than I realized. Spending time with my brother was fun. When he and a work friend were the only ones, indeed the only ones to even reply to something. I figure that’s something. And I realized that with my own irritations I needed to hear voices of friendship and comfort and commitment.

There are times we need friends, and these aren’t always due to some massive emergency. We just need to know, sometimes. And I know now. And that leaves me feeling like spending more time in isolated reading, and casting off prior realities for the potential of new, whenever that comes. I just know I can’t live neither here nor there, and as there is nothing but a tease, I have to deal with here. And I don’t know why, but I imagine there will be things which speak of wisdom in coming years.

But, frankly, tonight I’m sad, and I’m deeply sad. That’s all I’ve got tonight.

Saint Patrick’s Day

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Ah, yes today is Saint Patrick’s Day. To celebrate one should eat corned beef and drink a guinness. Or, if you’re more spiritually minded I heartily suggest a reading of Patrick’s own words, inspirational to be sure.

If’n you’re even more interested here’s a wee paper I once wrote in seminary, suggesting that while Patrick was a man of the West, he was heartily influenced by the folks from the east.

Faith and the future

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So I finally got around to watching Serenity last night. Good movie all around, except I think it lost some of the aspects which made me love the series so much. It’s not about the action, it’s about the moral complexities each character faced as they came from diverse approaches to life. It was always about the characters, and the characters can’t get too much coverage in a two hour movie. Personally, I think that’s partially why the movie didn’t do as well in the box office. The show was, above all, about relationships, with the plot giving a context for that. Had Whedon lost some of the action, and put in more of the interaction, I think the movie would have caught on with broader appeal, and introduced the show to a wider audience. As it was I thought Serenity was a lot like the last episode of Angel. The story has been axed by corporate executives, so let’s go out with a blaze of action and glory. Very good, but ultimately unsatisfying as the plot points were not what drew me to the show.

This is all besides the point of this post. Firefly, and Serenity, have a curious aspect I’ve not heard developed overmuch, though as I walk in limited circles I may have missed a whole conversation. The setting of this show is 500 years in the future. As far as I can tell Firefly/Serenity is the only show about the future where Christianity is still existent. It exists much as it exists now, as a way of light amidst the confusions of real life.

Indeed, I would be hard pressed to find a better portrayal of a Christian minister than is found in Firefly/Serenity. Shepherd Book is an absolutely unique character in the annals of television and movie history. I’m curious why Christians didn’t come out and support this show more. Who else assumes Christianity would be a galaxy wide religion 500 years from now, and is willing to wrestle with the complexities of faith in complicated moral situations?

Even though I was among the 4 people who watched the show when it first aired on television I took all this time to watch it because I wanted to absorb it rather than just get through it. I am glad for my patience in this respect. Some stories are worth dwelling on, and extending their influence beyond a few weeks, or a couple of hours. This is one of them. Sadly Whedon (the writer/director) isn’t given the chance to develop the characters. Firefly, in my estimation, could have been the most important show ever on television, and the most important media discussion about Christianity in the last fifty years.


Internet tomfoolery

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No, not that kind. The kind in which other people who do things online encourage you to answer deeply personal questions and it’s sort of worthwhile to do for some sort of world wide web collegiality.

So, my good quaker friend (or my Friend buddy), encourages me to detail my life’s goings-on. I’ve been, as they say, tagged:

Four Jobs I’ve Had
-mail carrier
-assistant manager at a tutoring business
-retail sales guy (Miller’s Outpost)

Four Movies I Can Watch Over & Over
-Lawrence of Arabia
-Rivers and Tides

Four Books I Have Read Over and Over (I’m saying other than books o’ the Bible- I read some of those a lot)
Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide-Douglas Adams
Complete Short Stories -Mark Twain
Musashi – Eiji Yoshikawa
Philokalia, four volumes — various authors

Four Places I’ve Lived
-San Dimas, CA
-Wheaton, IL
-Pasadena, CA
-Santa Barbara, CA

Four Places I’ve Vacationed

-New England
-Tombstone, Arizona
-Channel Islands National Park
-Northwoods, Wisconsin

Four TV Shows I “Love”
-My Name is Earl
-Firefly (sigh)
-Wonderfalls (sigh)
-the Simpsons

Four Favorite Dishes
-corned Beef
-roasted salmon wrapped in bacon
-steak, cooked medium marinated with cinnamon and Guinness

Four Websites I Visit Daily
Christianity Today online
First Things
Too Tough for TV
Mere Comments
(politics and news websites got kicked out for Lent, and maybe longer)

Four Places I’d Rather Be Right Now

-On a 1,000 acre ranch in Northern California
-Sailing anywhere
-Kayaking on a large isolated lake, or in the ocean
-sharing a tasty beverage and good conversation with a close community

Four Things That Make Me Warmly Happy
-hearing the wind blow through the forest trees
-feeding and watching wild birds
-kayaking and sailing
-Talking deeply with people I respect

Four People I’m Tagging With This
Jon (with the hope he would actually really start using his website)
– Christina

Reading the Bible

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Apparently, and this might shock you, people don’t read the Bible all the way through. Now, while you get back onto your chair and recover your senses after that revelation I should add that I’m not talking about heretics, atheists, or secular humanists. Most Christians don’t read the Bible all the way through. Take a minute to let the shock of this wear off before you continue reading.

Now, are you feeling better? I know this is a bombshell to most people’s sensitivities. “Of course,” the good Christian might say, “Everyone reads their Bible. Especially Evangelicals, what with their waving around the Word so much, lifting their Bibles high in moral exultation. They definitely read it, because that’s the whole basis of their various declarations on all manner of religious and societal topics, such as church government, evangelism, other religions, and manifold moral and cultural phenomenons.” (note, the previous quote is from the Acts 2:7-11 school of dialogue).

The fact is people don’t read their Bibles. Well, they read parts of it, that should be noted. Generally the same parts as the other people, in order to win their badges in competition or conversation (which often is the same thing). “But publisher Zondervan said that while 91 percent of Americans own at least one Bible, only 22 percent have read through the entire text.”

What is there to do? Some have come up with supposedly ingenious approaches to overcome this reality. Even if they don’t answer why ingenious is spelled with an “ious” while regular old genius is spelled with a plain “ius” they do seek to get people into the text with a broader view in mind.

Personally I am inclined to agree with Professor Schultze, mentioned in the article, not just because I had him for a very excellent class on Isaiah while in college, a class on the doctrine of Scripture, and spent a lovely Sunday afternoon in his living room with other class members. This helps my inclination to be sure, as tea and cake generally will do, but it is more that I am inclined to agree with him because I think he’s mostly right, which is in most cases the best reason to agree with someone. If someone is going to spend a short amount of time reading the Bible, one would certainly be better off really, really getting to know a whole single book of the Bible, rather than chapter headings and summaries made by someone else.

The problem with not reading the Bible, or only small bits of it plucked from its various branches, is one begins to understand Scripture as a source for prooftexting, getting the right verse to make your argument, rather than letting your argument come from the whole of the verses. The Bible becomes a tool, a collection of aphorisms and apologetic arguments, and in doing this curiously limits one’s understanding of God. It is limiting because one can become very good at telling the Bible what it says by picking and choosing, infusing your telling with theological weight and using terms such as Proclamation, or the Word, or Scripture to give authority to that which you’ve basically made up for yourself, or heard someone else make up.

However, in the methods and books suggested in this articles we run into another problem. Going too quickly and the Bible becomes nothing more than a textbook, with the chapter headings and key points and Major Characters all pouring into the same basic mold as a Cliff Notes version of Shakespeare. Cliff Notes are helpful to be sure but there’s a reason Shakespeare is famous and its not because of the brilliant summaries which can be distilled from his descriptions of Danish history. The brilliance is found in two parts: the story and the details. Lose either the story or the details and you’ve got an old English guy writing pulp fiction. Losing both the story and the details is what Cliff Notes do, and my guess is what these reduced Bibles do. They give the outline, the bare bits, but do nothing to give a real feel of the flow, or the connections between incidents, or do that most important part of a real story, namely draw you into it.

These methods make reading the Bible a project, or an assignment, or otherwise make it academic and entirely not interesting, and it should be entirely interesting. If it is burdensome, then a person will go back to whatever approach of appropriating God they had before.

I would heartily suggest a “year through the Bible” sort of approach, such as this one. This puts a person into a rhythm, and makes reading Scripture a habit to keep. Plus it’s easy to do, and mostly free. My approach to reading through whole Bible was entirely not free, in fact neither method was.

That’s a good hearty way of going about things. However, it’s not my initial recommendation. Because even when reading through the whole Bible in a year’s time a person can get bogged down in the details, losing themselves in the laws, or begats, or curses, or characters. They can finish the whole Bible, multiple times even, yet never really get a feel for the plot or the story. A person, in my estimation, is best served by getting a sense of the flow of Scripture then leaning into the details increasingly. Now, that sounds like the methods the article suggests, but its not. Because chapter summaries don’t give a feel of the flow, just more details removed from the story.

However, I have it on very good authority that something like the Picture Bible would be a marvelous approach. Indeed, if I was teaching a class for new Christians, or really on introduction of the Bible to anyone, I would encourage each person to read through the Picture Bible two or three times before jumping back into the regularly written version. This is how my own approach to Scripture was built, and I’ve learned that this is also a significantly effective approach to teaching literacy in general. Start with the story:

I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.

I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

I love to tell the story; more wonderful it seems
Than all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams.
I love to tell the story, it did so much for me;
And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee.

I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
’Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.

The problem, for the most part, is folks like to tell a story they really don’t know all that well. Which is why getting to the whole of Scripture, in whatever manner works, needs to be a renewed discipline.


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For the Simpsonphiles out there, here’s a fun little thing that a British tv station put together. It’s a live action version of the Simpsons opening.