Thursday, August 31, 2006

the truth isn't sexy

the truth isn't sexy

This music video - Constance - reminds us that human trafficing is not a pretty thing. Watching this video and contrasting it to the scripture I'm preaching on this Sunday from the Song of Solomon really shows God's intention for the way we interact vs. the way that people can be objectified and abused.

only in California

A beetle with a jet engine that is street legal! How else can you add 1350 hp to your car?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Katrina, 1 Year Later

Every Sunday we ask for prayer requests during our worship service and every week, one of our 8 year olds asks us to remember the folk who are still suffering from the effects of that storm. This morning, the president said that he takes "full responsibility" for the federal response (or lack thereof). On the one hand, he should take responsibility. After all, he is the president. On the other hand, it is an easy political gesture that allows the rest of the government to escape their responsibility. After all, we have a Republican House and a Republican Senate. They congress has acted, in large degree, as a rubber stamp for the current administration. They must also bear responsibility for what has happened as they have shaped the policies and supported the philosophy that allowed the Gulf coast to languish while we destroy Iraq, allowed real anti-terrorism programs to suffer, and gave tax cuts to the rich. In two months we should vote them all out.

This morning there was an interesting editorial in our paper written by former FEMA head, James Witt and Max Stier. In the editorial they chose to focus on the positive lessons we should learn from the disaster. Basically it is an argument for good government, with good staff, adequate funding, and a long term perspective (all of which were and are lacking under an administration that argues against "big government.") We don't need less government. We need more. It just needs to be efficient and competent.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Lord of War

Last night I watched The Lord of War a second time... this time in preparation for my sermon this morning (I used a clip in the sermon from 1:51:32-1:55:30). It is a profoundly disturbing film on many, many levels and is based on the true story of Yuri Orlov, an arms dealer. The bits that hang with me and make my stomach churn are the statement that our president (whoever he is at the time) is the world's largest arms dealer, selling more in a day that Yuri does in a year, and the liner note that the five largest arms dealers the world are the US, the UK, Russia, France, and China - the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. I watch Yuri with loathing and then realize that he is us as we sell arms through our government and spread the same violence that he does only on an even wider level.

The arms trade is immoral on every level. There must be... there must be a movement to stop the international trade of arms on all levels if we are ever to see peace. Shouldn't those of us who claim to follow the Prince of Peace and who preach the gospel of peace be the first to propose this idea and to work for it?

Friday, August 25, 2006


I received a proof of Spencer Burke & Barry Taylor's book The Heretic's Guide to Eternity and was asked to read it and blog about it. I want to read the entire book before I say much but...

Spencer's primary theme is one of grace... grace unconditional and untamed. Around this theme he says that Christianity must change not only it's face but also its guts. Forms are not enough, the theology underneath must change as well. Adding new media or music doesn't go far enough. It is an argument that I've been making for a while.

This week, I had an experience that underscored this for me. I heard a speaker, tauted as "the stuff" for YA's. And to be truthful, there was a vocal bunch of followers there. But as I listened to the words, I wondered how others would hear the message. He spoke of abortion in a very judgmental way and promised that God would make a way financially for women who chose to follow the pregnancy to term regardless of their situation. He talked about the substitutionary atonement as Jesus died in our place at the hands of a judgmental god.

I left thinking that if that is the theology of the Church, it deserves to disappear. My heart resonates with a God who loves us without strings, of a grace that truly is amazing, of a savior who understands and identifies with our struggles rather than making easy and quick judgements.

I think Spencer and Barry are right on target when they talk about the shifts that must take place. I am not finished with the book yet so I'll say more in a few days. I do wonder as they dismiss the institutional church where they will find community and communal expressions for their faith. I worry about what seems to be a furthering of the individualization of faith... but as I said, I'm not finished with the book and I'm hopful that they'll say more about these issues. Check back later for more.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Whoo Whoo

Three days short of two years on the wait list, today I received notice that I've come to the top of the list to purchase an Analogman King of Tone two channel overdrive box for my pedal board... one step closer to completion.

Whooo Whoo!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Soliton August '06

This past weekend was Soliton. It was my second year to be part of the gathering and I have to tell you that I was really looking forward to it. As things worked out, I missed the first day as my wife was having torn cartilage repaired in her knee, but I got there for Friday & Saturday.

The theme was "hospitality." The concept was stretched in the pragmatic realm as there were more participants this year and because the hosting community - The Bridge of Ventura - lost their space some months ago. The results were that the various sessions were hosted in the Presbyterian Church, member's homes, a park, etc. More importantly though the concept was stretched with questions pushing us to consider the implications of hospitality for peacemaking, evangelism, institutional and personal change...

There will be a lot for me to chew on (as there was in the previous year). The question of what is clean and unclean and how the Trickster transforms the unclean and brings about redemption will be on the burner a lot for the coming days.

Probably the most important part of the event for me is connecting with folk that I met there and may only see there. It is wonderful to know that our ties go across geography, theology, age, and culture.

I would highly recommend that you all put this event on your calendar for next year.

Monday, August 07, 2006

something completely different

For a few months I've been slowly putting together my pedalboard. For an electric guitarist, a pedalboard is the equivalent of a painter's palette. It allows the player to mix sounds and create new colors by manipulating the guitar's tones electronically. Currently I have two or three more pedals to add and the board will be done. For any who care, the board currently includes (in order of signal chain) a boss tuner, a modded dynacomp, an HBE power screamer overdrive, a modded phase 90, a boss chorus, a chatmods deeelaaayyy, a highly modded wah wah pedal, and a Duncan booster. I have a Build Your Own Clone envelope filter in process and, after a two year wait, am nearing the top of the list for an Analogman king of tone overdrive. I'd like to add a BYOC envelope volume pedal and maybe an octave box as well. I'm also slowly replacing all of the cables with Lava Cables ELC cable. It is great cable and very reasonably priced for the quality but the price still adds up when you have that many pedals. On the other hand, having the low quality cable that I had before in that many places really degrades your sound. So as I can, I'll be buying the ELC and taking the blanket off my tone.

My daughter Alexis did part of her college years at Bard college in their art department. I asked her to paint a few pedal boxes for me and she enjoyed it a lot and so is offering her services. Drop me a note if you're interested in having one painted.

First is the second one she painted - the modded Phase 90 which is already on the board. She used reds and oranges because the original pedal was orange so she already had her background color.

The first box she painted was the BYOC envelope filter. BYOC is a company that produces very high quality kits for people to build their own pedals. The boxes come unfinished. A friend of Alexis' is putting the electronics together and she did the box.

These photos were taken before the clear coat was added and unfortunately the clear coal wasn't completely clear. It darkened and dulled the colors a tiny bit. On the next box we'll use something different.<

61st Anniversary

Yesterday was the 61st anniversary of the dropping of a nuclear device on Hiroshima. It was an attack that killed 140,000 people - mostly civilians. Three days later a second device was dropped on Nagasaki, killing 80,000 more. These were sinful acts with absolutely no justification.
In a speech marking that anniversary, Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba of Hiroshima called for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. It is long past the time that that must be done. What we need now are some courageous leaders of nations with nuclear weapons to join in that call.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

the myth of redemptive violence

I participate in a discussion group of Christian musicians where someone asked whether Israel had gone too far. I was amazed at the vocal folk who believe that violence is necessary, at times good, and doesn't conflict at all with one's faith as a Christian. The argument goes that there are some ends that cannot be achieved by any means other than violent ones. There is something cleansing about violence and "right." Indeed, a thread branched off from that one about "moral" violence.

I've shared before that part of my formation was in the historic peaces churches so this idea is repugnant to me. My faith is in a God of love and I seek to follow the Prince of Peace.

It seems to me that Jesus was pretty clear that violence was not an acceptable option. He said, "Love your enemies..." and in Matthew's version, "do good to those who persecute you." In Luke, "do good to those who hate you." As the bumper sticker says, "Loving your enemies probably begins with not killing them." When Peter drew a sword to protect him from the Roman soldiers, Jesus stopped him, "all who take the sword will die by the sword." When violence was committed on him, Jesus received it, asked for forgiveness for the perpetrators, and God used his non-violent act to change the world.

Paul reminds us to feed a hungry enemy and to overcome evil with good.

The earliest Christians refused to take up arms in the face of terrible persecution and the Church grew in the blood of the martyrs.

And what does this myth say about God? We claim to believe in a God of love who went so far as to send Jesus to the cross as a demonstration of that love, yet who would turn around and call for a war that results in human blood flowing to the horses' bridles? We claim to worship a God who counts the hairs of our heads and who knows every sparrow that falls but who doesn't mourn when 14 children trying to flee a war zone are hit with a missile? We claim to worship a God whose love overcomes even the power of death but who cannot come up with a better way to solve the world's problems than through a bloodbath? It doesn't make sense to me. Indeed, that is not the God I worship.

So why is it that people of faith who claim to follow the Prince of Peace cannot see beyond the violence? I think it is a lack of imagination, a lack of faith, a lack of love, and maybe even bloodlust. Lack of imagination because they cannot envision something better... Lack of faith because they do not trust God to work things out, they must do it and the only option they see (lack of imagination) is a violent one... Lack of love because they cannot allow themselves to love their enemies, many of whom may have done horrendous things... Bloodlust because there is something thrilling about violence and we have all known times when the desire for revenge welled up in our guts (I have identified more than I like with Bruce Cockburn's song - If I Had a Rocket Launcher) I know how I would want to react if I was an Israeli and saw Hezbollah's missiles raining down on my home, or a Lebanese watching my children shredded by US made, Israeli dropped cluster bombs.

Violence is not redemptive, it is something to be redeemed from. Those who take the sword, die by the sword. I believe that we have not risked believing Jesus yet. We have not submitted to the command of Jesus to love our enemies. When we do, if we do, we will see the love of God break forth in ways we have not imagined.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

why I like post-conservatism and post-liberalism

A while back, Relevant Magazine had an interview with Tony Jones, the national coordinator of Emergent.

here is a question and answer that Ryan, a friend of mine, quoted on his blog a few weeks ago.

RM: You mentioned earlier that you have lesbian pastors and conservative absolutists. It seems that it would create a tension point when it comes to endorsing that person’s view or platform.

TJ: If you believe that Christianity is—at its very heart—a tension-filled, dialectical endeavor, you have less problems with these tension-filled relationships with believers. Christianity is paradoxical. Life comes out of death. Jesus was fully human and fully divine. We haven’t yet found that there’s anything that justifies us breaking fellowship with somebody else who loves and is trying to follow Jesus. Why would you break fellowship with someone because you have a different understanding of the atonement than they do? Or a different understanding of human sexuality than they do? It seems nonsensical that we’d give each other tests and try to hang it over someone else’s head and say, “Hey, dude. I’m going to break fellowship with you if we can’t come to agreement on this particular issue.” It just doesn’t seem to be the nature of human life. Maybe you’re right. Maybe it will get to a breaking point. People have left. Some people have been very forthright about why they’ve left. I certainly don’t think that the issue of absolute truth is a good reason to break fellowship with someone who’s trying to follow Jesus.

I like it a lot. It is worth reading the entire interview at the link in the first paragraph.