Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas and a Poem

Aloha! Howdy y'all. I'm heading down to San Antonio tomorrow to celebrate Christmas with Mom and Daddy and friends. In the meantime I'm enjoying work. Tonight several friends and I went and saw Avatar which was amazing.

This is a poem I wrote for our church's Christmas Eve service.

The Shepherd’s Memory

The slumbering fields are filled with terror
The shekinah of God engulfs the watchmen.
Ancient uncreated light that shone on Moses
Shrouds the shepherds’ hearts in fear.

Fear not! the command, and their tremblings cease.
Peace! Not death. Peace and joy the news.
This night Savior, Messiah, LORD
The end of Herods and Romans and Sin born this night.

The Army of Heaven, fiery seraphim, mighty winged cherubim,
Host upon host rending the heavens in praise.
Glory to God in the Highest, Glory Glory Glory!
On Earth peace to those chosen in God’s pleasure.

The sheep abandoned, at rest in green pastures,
The watchers gone to see the truth lying in the manger.
Bethlehem stirs at the news of the light in the field,
At the coming of David’s son to David’s city.

An old man at the end of his days,
A life of darkness, herods, romans, and sin,
Hears a voice crying in the wilderness.
He lays down to rest in hope remembering,
“Glory to God in the highest and on Earth peace in God’s grace”.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Happy Work and Alaska Birthday

It's been way too long since I've put anything on here. Today (10/8, it's technically the 9th as I write, but I've not been to bed yet.) I celebrated the 8th anniversary of my 29th birthday. It was a pleasant enough day. Some friends took me to Baker's Square last night for pie after youth group. On Monday I started work in the Acquisitions and Rapid Cataloging Division in the library at Northwestern University. It's a half-time position focused on copy cataloging books for the Art and Africana collections and other stuff as necessary. I've already got a big project focused on finding records for a large collection of 40 years worth of exhibition catalogs from California art museums. I'm still looking for something to fill in the other 20-30 hours of the work week.

Tomorrow (10/9) I'm joining my college friend Paul for a short trip to Alaska. We're flying up on Friday and I'm coming back Wednesday. It'll be fun spending time with Paul and seeing the Anchorage area.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Happy Birthday to my beautiful niece, Cora. She is three and her arms are longer than this. You can see more picture of Cora and her adorable brother Cohen here.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Happy Birthday Cohen

Happy first birthday to one of the cutest nephews ever to be a nephew.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Update, Verse, and Quote of the Day

Not a whole lot has changed around here. I'm still looking for a job and have applied for customer service positions at a couple of companies in Deerfield. I've been reading various stuff and watching too much t.v. and the occasional movie. My small group is on a hiatus but we've been having a good time with the youth at 3-D on Wednesdays. The weather has been pleasantly cool and dry but not very sunny.

Verse of the Day:
"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing." James 1:22-25 (ESV)
--I was struck by this when discussing it with the youth a couple of weeks ago. Someone who looks in a mirror and immediately forgets what he looks like is no better than a person who didn't look in the mirror at all. The action is of no benefit to him. Likewise, someone who reads scripture but does not put it into practice is not benefited by the act of reading. Scripture is good for many things, but is worthless for reading divorced from obedience.

Quote of the Day:
"There is an unbridgeable chasm between the book that tradition has declared a classic and the book (the same book) that we have made ours through instinct, emotion and understanding: suffered through it, rejoiced in it, translated it into our experience and (notwithstanding the layers of readings with which a book comes into our hands) essentially become its first discoverers, an experience as astonishing and unexpected as finding Friday's footprint on the sand.... To be the first to enter Circe's cave, the first to hear Ulysses call himself Nobody, is every reader's secret wish, granted over and over, generation after generation, to those who open the Odyssey for the first time. This modest jus primae noctis, or 'first night rights' assures for the books we call classics their only useful immortality." Alberto Manguel The Library at Night pp. 218-219

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Verse and Quote of the Day

Verse of the Day:

For who is God, but the LORD?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
The God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless." Psalm 18:31-32 (ESV)
-My friend David preached this morning on Psalm 18. You can listen to the sermon here. One of the points that struck me was the reminder that in Christ we are fully righteous and blameless. In verses 20-24 David rejoices that God has dealt with him according to his righteousness and here in verse 32 he acknowledges God as the sort of that righteousness. When we respond to God in faith, taking refuge in him and acknowledging our sin, then we truly respond in righteousness.

Quote of the Day:
"Let justice and praise become my embrace
To love you from the inside out." "From the Inside Out" (video with lyrics) Hillsong United
-I've really liked this song since the 3-D winter retreat and this is one of the lyrics that continues to stick with me. The theme that God loves mercy rather than sacrifice is so strong throughout the Old Testament and into the ministry of Jesus. Correct worship is crucial to a life pleasing God, but without obedience, mercy, and justice in the rest of our lives, it is worse than inadequate. The Father seeks those who worship in Spirit and in Truth and they only do that who live in obedience by seeking justice as they praise Him.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Life at Home

There's not been a whole lot going on here. Steve and John and I went to see Transformers 2 when it came it. Steve's analysis, "It was explodey." I enjoyed it but the action scenes are pretty confusing. I reread the Harry Potter series in six days. That was fun. I also watched the collected Babylon 5 movies. I've done lots of other reading. As I told Ann and Daniel, it was nice being back in my church where we do communion and most of the singing after the sermon. Services that just end after the sermon always leave me feeling a little incomplete now. I want that community response time. I spent yesterday afternoon and evening at the Arlington Park race track with some friends. I didn't bet anything, but I did pick the winners in two races, and got the 1st and 2nd horses in the last race (there were more than two horses). After the races were over there was live music from a Dylan tribute band. Charlie noted he couldn't understand what they were saying, so they were probably pretty authentic. There was also a great fireworks show. Maybe the best fireworks show I've ever seen. There were a couple of moments I thought were the climax of the show and if they had been, I would have thought it a good show. As it was I thought I was going to go blind from the sheer concussion of the finale, let alone the flashes. Then we spent 45 minutes trying to get out of the parking lot; that was less fun.
Life's going on. I'm still looking for a job. We've got a new crop of students in 3-D and that's always fun.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Verse and Quote of the Day

Verse (well, passage) of the Day:
"If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life." I John 5:9-12 (ESV)

Quote of the Day:
"We pray to God because we believe in him through Jesus Christ, that is to say, our prayer can never be an entreaty to God, for we have no need to come before him in that way. We are privileged to know that he knows our needs before we ask him. This is what gives Christian prayer its boundless confidence and its joyous certainty. It matters little what form of prayer we adopt or how many words we use, what matters is the faith which lays hold on God and touches the heart of the Father who knew us long before we came to him." Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p. 181.
-It doesn't matter what words we use or what form but only that in prayer we express our faith in the living and loving Father. I need to be reminded of that too often.

Life at Annie Daniel Camp

On Thursday after I had left Chattanooga to come up here to Franklin, Cora prayed that God would "help Uncle Everett at camp, Annie Daniel Camp." That's my new name for Ann and Daniel's place. We've been having a good time. I got to experience several different kinds of Indian food: sambar, papadam (probably not spelled that way), idlis, green bean curry-very good, curry made from ridge gourd, and some other things, as well as delicious staples like goat biryani. One of the many great parts of Annie Daniel Camp is that the food is so much better than in other camp kitchens. I took Ann to get a library card where we enjoyed the beautiful and remarkably comfortable Williamson County Public library public reading room. We watched an Indian action comedy (several have pretty rough language but I don't think this linked one was too bad), a Tyler Perry play on DVD, A Man for All Seasons, and several Russell Peters sketches on YouTube. Neither is the activity planning skimped upon. The camp directors have had us out playing tennis (an aggregate 20 min. good tennis in 3.5 hrs), swimming, walking at the beautiful Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Art Museum, and riding around looking at houses while Ann practices driving. We also played the MadLibs card game which is fun even if lamely designed. They have a fine Sunday School class and we heard a sermon which good on the whole even if a couple of parts were quite irritating (other sermons from the series available here). After church we went out to lunch at the Bombay Garden with the camp directors' friends Dora and Santosh and their beautiful daughters. The restaurant was crowded for a birthday party and managed to be hotter inside than outside (no mean feat in 90+ degree weather), but the food was good and the company better. Also the birthday family shared some really good cake with us. I'll be sad to leave. I'm not looking forward to a 9 hour drive with no air conditioning, but I am looking forward to being home and I expect to enjoy the scenery as I travel across western Kentucky and then up the Illinois/Indiana border. I'll be taking the ferry at Cave-In-Rock across the Ohio, which should be fun and the Wabash Valley isn't entirely uninteresting.

BTW, this is post 200. Huzzah!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Verse and Quote of the Day

Verse of the Day:
"And behold, a prophet came near to Ahab King of Israel and said, 'Thus says the LORD, "Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold I will give it into your hand this day, and you shall know that I am the LORD."'" 1 Kings 20:13 (ESV)
-I find it interesting that despite the evaluation of Ahab that there was no King of Israel more evil and perverse, God still gives him opportunities to respond and repent such that when he does repent momentarily after being confronted with the murder of Naboth God commutes his sentence onto the next generation of his family. God will even forgive Ahab.

Quote of the Day:
"It is pathetic to see people preparing for ministry who don't know yet how to give. This is like an athlete entering a race without knowing how to run. If we haven't learned to give money, we haven't learned anything. Ministry is a life of giving. We give our whole lives; God should have ownership of everything. Remember whatever we give God control of He can multiply and bless. God's blessing is not so we can amass goods, but so we can be more involved in his enterprise." John Wimber, The Way In Is the Way On, p. 123-124
-In this chapter on worship, Wimber lists five phases of worship: 1. Call to worship 2. Engagement 3. Moving into loving and intimate language 4. Our expression in worship 5. Giving of substance. The whole chapter, which consists of reflections by both John and Carol Wimber is a good reminder that all our life is to be worship and of the central importance of worship in the Vineyard Movement.

"'Now you're thinking like a scientist,' said Ender. 'Now, now please think like a sleeping person. We have a long day tomorrow.'" Orson Scott Card, Ender in Exile, p. 286.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Verse and Quote of the Day

Verse of the day:
"Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, 'So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.'" I Kings 19:2 (ESV)
-There are a lot of instances of this kind of vow in the Old Testament. Just this morning as I was reading it struck me that it comes true exactly for Jezebel. She vows that if she does not do to Elijah what was done to the prophets of Baal, then even worse shall happen to her. The prophets were slain. Jezebel fails to kill Elijah and is later killed by Jehu and there is not enough of her left to bury. I just found that very interesting.

Quote of the Day:
"If there is no element of asceticism in our lives, if we give free reign to the desires of the flesh (taking care of course to keep within limits of what seems permissible to the world) we should find it hard to train for the service of Christ. Where the flesh is satisfied it is hard to pray with cheerfulness or to devote oneself to a life of service which calls for much self-renunciation." Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of the Discipleship, p. 188-189.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Verse and Quote of the Day

Actually it's quotes first and then the verse. I've been at Geron and Lydia's the last few days having a great time. Now I'm in Franklin with Ann and Daniel.

"This is my butt. That's where the poop comes out." Niece Cora, 2.
"I can't see my hiney." Also Cora.
"I like Domino's because it's greasy and I grew up on it. I like Papa John's because it tastes good and it's made out of food." Ann

Verse of the Day:
"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." James 3:17-18 (NIV)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Verse of the Day

"By the word of the LORD a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering. He cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD : "O altar, altar! This is what the LORD says: 'A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who now make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.' " I Kings 13:1-2 (NIV) The prophecy against the altar of Bethel almost 300 years before King Josiah of Judah fulfilled it as told in 2 Kings 23:15-20.

Extreme Build Completish

Sorry I haven't had quite so much time to get the final Extreme Build updates up. We were hit pretty heavily with rain on Thursday morning and afternoon, though still nothing so dramatic as Monday's lightning strike. That threw our schedule off quite a bit. I spent Thursday afternoon doing more ladder holding for people putting up soffits and siding. I caught a guy when he started to slip down, so I felt validated. Later in the day I helped bend metal to cover the outside of the eves and the bird boxes. Thursday night we went back after supper and I helped fill dirt back in where a strip had been dug out along the foundation for patching. Friday was a whole day of work as we tried to make up some of the time we lost to the rain. I built scaffolding along the back of the house to put up the top of the siding and deal with the eves. Most of the morning and early afternoon I spent working on bending the metal and putting up the bird box covers. As Daddy testified earlier in the week those things are a pain to deal with. I also worked on putting up the concrete forms for the front walk and putting up the metal in the back. The Meadors decided to call it a day after supper time but there were several folks out at the site deep into Friday night painting and finishing various jobs.
Saturday morning we thoroughly confused the poor hotel clerk trying to pay with a few different credit cards but eventually got it sorted. Back at the site the house was looking pretty nice since all the exterior work was done once we got the shutters up on the front windows. They also had shutters that went along the front door. I think that's weird but there you go. I helped out with various odd jobs and then helped Dad and Ricky cut shims for the window sills. We had a good lunch and then a dedication ceremony. The site leader estimated we were 95% done at the dedication. Some folks are going to come back next week and finish the job. All in all it was 10 days with over a hundred volunteers to build a house for a single mom and her sons. It was a good job.

After work on Saturday I headed down to Chattanooga to spend a few days with Lydia, Geron and the babies. It was a nice trip down. Cora and Cohen are so cute. On Sunday we heard a good sermon from their friend Merridel on James 4:1-10. We're having a grand time, except Geron's sick.

Amusing quotes:
Cora was playing with one of my shoes. I walked toward her as if I was going to take it away.
Cora: "Don't!"
Everett: "'Don't' what?"
Cora: "Don't, Ma'am!" -I never could get her to tell what she didn't want me to do.

"We Nazarenes have a problem with people who say 'Once saved, always saved.' But what about people who say, 'Once sanctified, always sanctified?' Ask your pastor about that when he comes back."

"Just trade those for whatever you want." Lydia in a game of Settlers of Cataan after a roll got me six wheats while I was on a wheat port.

"If you're not sure what to do, focus on collecting commodities you like in real life. For instance if you like weaving you could work on getting wool. Perhaps you're into carving, then wood is the stuff for you." Geron, quoting from Lydia's hypothetical Settlers of Cataan strategy guide.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Verse and Quote of the day

"For by me [Wisdom] your days will be multiplied
And years will be added to your life." Prov. 9:11 (ESV)

"We cannot know what God's purpose is in each event and every detail. But we can know that every event, each detail, is part of God's purpose. Everything is grace. Job's sores were grace. Job's abandonment was grace. Jesus' abandonment at the cross...was grace. Our abandonment is also grace." John Wimber, The Way In Is the Way On, p. 74

I'm really enjoying this book which is a collection of Wimber's sermons, articles, and book chapters about the life in Christ. It's dovetailing nicely with The Cost of Discipleship and with stuff I'm learning here on the build. I often find that I want to just quote whole chapters from both Wimber and Bonhoeffer.

Extreme Build Update

Tuesday afternoon we focused on hanging the ceiling and putting up the drywall. One of the crew leaders was telling me what was involved and said it would involve a lot of holding stuff and screwing up. I said, "I can screw up." That's a little harder than it sounds. I was able to hold up my meaning all right and after I put a few in I could do hers as well. On Wednesday I helped build more scaffolding and put up siding. Mostly though I was a ladder prop and a vinyl cutter. Still, it was a good day. For supper on Wednesday night the Georgetown Baptist folks went as a group to the Country Cafe in Pine Knot, some of the best fried chicken I've ever had.

This morning we found out I've got a crack in my distributer cap. Bummer.

Random EB quote:
"We brought out some big bottles so we'll be able to reuse the water." One of our organizers--he meant we'd be able to refill and reuse the bottles.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Verse and Quote of the Day

"The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
Your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of Your hands." Psalm 138:8 (ESV)

"'Let your speech be Yea, yea, Nay, nay.' This is not to say that the disciples are no longer answerable to the omniscient God for every word they utter, it means that every word they utter is spoken in His presence." Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p.153

Extreme Build Update

LIGHTNING! Yesterday afternoon we felt a few drops of rain and heard some distant rumbles of thunder. Suddenly there was a bright light and one of the loudest thunderclaps I've ever heard. Across the road from our build site most of a tree came down in the woods, less than a hundred yards away. "Everybody off the house!" yelled our foreman. Guys came down from where they'd been working on the roof. People put down metal tools. Bob said he'd felt a tingle just before the strike. It was very exciting. There were a few more drops of rain and another nearby lightning strike before it cleared up and we started working again.
Daddy spent the afternoon working on bird boxes, pieces that go under the eaves at the corners of the house. Gina Whittle and I spent out time putting up nailers for the drywall ceiling and then installing some sheeting inside the front of the attic over the porch. The house is really coming together. Most of the roof was on by the time we left for supper and the electrician was nearly done with the wiring. And nobody got hurt or struck by lightning.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Verse and Quote of the Day

"This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:11-12 (ESV)

"The truth is that the Lord's work is humble caring. Everybody should serve this way, and we should do so gladly. We learn how to be servants of the Master by imitating the way our Master serves the Lord. Jesus did the Father's bidding on earth; in fact His Father's will is all He did! He spent many hours in fellowship seeking His Father's will, living a life of total dependence on His Father's presence, voice, and directives." John Wimber The Way In Is the Way On
pp. 27-28

Extreme Build Update

I got down here Friday night after visiting my friend Cindee in Indianapolis for lunch. We had our kickoff cookout and it was good. We spent Saturday working and got the walls and roof trusses up. I got to set up scaffolding on the one side of the house that needed. We didn't have enough, but since it's only for one side of the house we were able to make do. I also worked on putting up OSB sheeting around the walls. It was a long day but good. Even though there was a long stretch where a lot of us had to wait while they worked on the roof trusses it felt like we got a lot done. On Sunday we worshipped with the First Baptist Church of Whitley City, including my cousins' aunt Lana and her husband. I also found out that during the week we'll be working on the afternoon shift and I'll be in Daddy's crew. I'm looking forward to a good week.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Verse of the Day

I'll be gone on Extreme Build in Southern Kentucky with Mom and Dad for the next week. Then I'll be spending time visiting Lydia and Geron and Ann and Daniel in Tennessee. I'll try to update things as I can.

Verse of the Day:
"But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you might have life in his name." John 20:31 (NRSV)

"The cross and the works of the cross, the poverty and renunciation of the blessed in the Beatitudes, these are the things which will become visible. Neither the cross nor their membership in such a community betoken any merit of their own--the praise is due to God alone... It is by seeing the cross and the community beneath it that men come to believe in God. But that is the light of the Resurrection." Dietrich Bonhoeffer The Cost of Discipleship p. 134

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Verse of the Day

"We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground which cannot be gathered up. But God will not take a life; he will devise plans so as not to keep an outcast banished forever from his presence." 2 Samuel 14:14 (NRSV)

I found this argument really interesting. The speaker is the "wise woman from Tekoa" (also the hometown of the Prophet Amos) who has been sent by Joab to David to intercede for Absalom. Just like Nathan in ch. 12 she sets David up by telling him a story to which he responds with judgment and then turns his judgment back on him. Her claim is interesting because on the one hand we have manifest evidence from throughout the history of the people of Israel that God will indeed take a life but that he also devises plans to restore the outcast. Just a very short time after this encounter David will himself be banished from God's presence when he flees Absalom's rebellion but commands the priests and the ark to remain in Jerusalem saying, "Then the king said to Zadok, "Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me back and let me see both it and his dwelling place. But if he says, 'I have no pleasure in you,' behold, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him." (2 Sam. 15:25-26). David is only able to return to God's presence after Absalom is defeated. But there is also the ultimate divine plan to restore the outcast, Jesus' death and resurrection for those who were his enemies and banished from God's presence by their sin.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Chicago Mission Trip

I spent the weekend at Roseland Christian Ministries on the South Side of Chicago. I went down on Saturday morning with about 20 other volunteers from my church. We spent the day working to renovate a house on a block that is known as "Skid Row". There has been a lot of gang and drug activity on the block. In recent years RCM has been running a homes program where they will buy a foreclosed house, renovate, then rent or sell it at reduced price to local families. The house we worked on will be a rental or may be used to house summer volunteers. We spent the day on several projects in the house. Some painted cabinets, porches, rooms, or the upstairs floor. Some cleared weeds and trash from the yard. Some laid down tile in the kitchen and bathroom. I got to work putting up joist brackets under the porch and helped Mark do the trim in the kitchen. He did most of the measuring and cutting while while I smoothed surfaces, pried off boards to be replaced and nailed down the new trim, and generally supplied a second pair of hands. Mark and I stayed late to try and finish our job after everyone else had headed out. We didn't quite make it but we got to do a walk through before turning out the lights and locking up. I don't know what it looked like before we got there, but the upstairs looked fantastic where the team had been scraping, cleaning and painting all day. The house isn't done but I could really see that we had made progress.

In the evening the team served supper for women and children at The Strong Tower, RCM's short-term living shelter. Mark and I didn't make it back in time to be part of the supper crew but I did get to hang out with the children and play Simon Sez and Duck Duck Goose after dinner. Later we had a short devotional and worship time before same of played Clue and then turned in for the night.

During our devotional time David, the director of the homes program, and his wife Laura, the Volunteer Coordinator for RCM, shared with us about the history and vision of the ministry. This was a neat time. I had been in a small group with David during my second time around at Trinity and had met Laura on occasion. It was very encouraging to hear their vision for the ministry and some of the things that they had learned. We heard about families who had been settled in homes who had then been able to take out equity loans to send their kids to college or start a business. One of the houses that RCM had taken over had been a notorious drug house where someone had been murdered with an axe. The ministry bought the house after the gang was driven out and renovated. It's now owned by a lady from the church who tells the gang members and drug dealers to get out of her neighborhood but also that Jesus loves and is willing to save them too. David describes it as a model of how God works. He is a God of restoration, taking fallen sinners and making us new. Their vision is to see Skid Row become Reformation Row. Laura talked about working with the women at the shelter. When she was in seminary she expected that God would work through the things she said to people. But she has learned that He works even more through her presence, through her willingness to be there and listen and help. They share the gospel and tell the people about Jesus' love, but they are there in the neighborhood living that love. It was a powerful time and honor to be able to serve with them and to be able to pray that God would encourage and continue to support them in the ministry.

On Sunday morning a few of us stayed behind to clean the volunteer space at RCM while the rest of the team served a breakfast for the community at Roseland Christian Reformed Church. We ended up serving breakfast for 30-40 members of the community, some homeless, our 20 volunteers, and 50 folks from Iowa, The Gospel Singers Male Chorus of Oskaloosa, Iowa, with their wives. It was a delicious breakfast and interesting time talking to the men from the Roseland neighborhood who were there for breakfast. After breakfast we celebrated Pentecost at the church. It was a great service with joyful worship, good singing by the Iowans, and a powerful message from Pastor Huizenga about how the God who reigned at Passover, Sinai, Calvary, and Pentecost is the same God who reigns today.

I was touched by the time we spent there and I hope it was a good warm up for next week's Extreme Build in Whitley City. It's good to be able to serve.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Recent Reading and Quotes

I think I might have mentioned that I've been reading a lot recently. My general reading regimen for several years has been to read a Psalm and a chapter of Proverbs and part of a devotional book every morning. I just finished Future Grace, by John Piper, and have started The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, for my morning book. Until February I routinely listened to an audio book whenever I drove somewhere by myself. This year I decided to reserve that for long trips so I've mostly been listening to music in the car. I'm excited about my upcoming trip to Kentucky and Tennessee because I'll get to listen to audio books again (among other much more significant reasons, of course). For the last two-three years I've been reading epic poetry at lunch time. I've been following a more-or-less chronological path through the western epic poetry tradition. I'm about to reread Dante's Divine Comedy. Before going to bed I read the daily selection from the one year Bible and part of another book. Often my night book is something chosen seasonally. I read something about the incarnation or life of Jesus for Christmas. Something about the atonement and/or resurrection around Easter. I might read something about sin or holiness for Lent. For several years I've attempted to work a book on the Holy Spirit in for Pentecost, but I've only managed this once. Currently I'm reading Piper's book A Hunger for God as my bedtime book. I also try to read several other books as well. I usually have a fiction book I'm working on, The Two Towers currently. I try to read something work related fairly regularly. The last three months that has alternated between something about job searching/finding who you are and something related to libraries or information science. I've almost always got several reading projects up in the air.

Recently I started journaling thoughts and interesting quotations from my morning and evening readings. I write down a summary and a verse or thought that sticks out from whatever my scripture reading is and I write down significant quotes from my devotional books. I've also been keeping a journal of whatever else I did during the day and other things read or watched. That accounts somewhat for my absence from the poor neglected blog. I've really enjoyed this practice and am curious to see how it holds up when I get back to work.

Anyway since I'm doing all this reading and writing I thought I'd reinstitute my verse/quote of the day practice. I might also try again to put up short reviews of the books I read but that might be too much. If I do that I'll try to warn you so you can skip on to whatever interesting might happen around here. So without further ado, I give you...

Verse of the day:
"The fear of others lays a snare
But one who trusts in the LORD is secure." Prov. 29:25 (NRSV)

Double-dip Quote of the Day:
"When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave work and home to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther's, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time--death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call."

"The yoke and burden of Christ are his cross. To go one's way under the sign of the cross is not misery and desperation, but peace and refreshment for the soul, it is the highest joy. Then we do not walk under our self-made laws and burdens, but under the yoke of him who knows us and who walks under the yoke with us. Under his yoke we are certain of his nearness and communion. It is he whom the disciple finds as he lifts up his cross."

Both of those are from chapter 4 of The Cost of Discipleship, "Discipleship and the Cross". I really wanted to just quote the whole chapter.

In a completely unrelated note I took applications to several local bookstores today and had encouraging interactions at three of them (nothing wrong with the others, just no news). Between these and the registrar job I mentioned in the previous post, I might have good job news next week.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

General Update

Used to be Colonel Update but got promoted. Applied for job in local college Registrar office. Might hear something. Up to the usual, mostly reading, watching t.v., youth ministry, and small group. Not much exciting going on here this month. Heading to the south side of Chicago for a short mission trip this weekend. Heading down to Kentucky and Tennessee for the Extreme Build and visiting on the 5th. Sentence fragments as least as much fun as run-ons.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Updating Again

I'll use punctuation this time. I, might? even/ use-it properly! as the pos,t goes on.

Another two weeks have passed. I don't have a job but am applying for an interesting position at a local high school doing original and copy cataloging for their library. Otherwise I'm still looking. Thanks to Jenn and Matt for the USAjobs suggestion. I haven't checked it out yet but will tomorrow or Tuesday. I'm having a bit of trouble in that I don't really feel the sense of urgency I should. I like being laid back but usually it's a bit too much.

I had a good time travelling with Matt and Rebekah down to Elkhart, Indiana for the Chicago Area Theological Library Association Spring meeting at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary. The theme of the meeting was "Library as Place". We heard a report on an ongoing research project about student use of seminary libraries and the plans for an addition to the Library at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne. That also led into a discussion of reading as a practice and the future of printed books. In the afternoon we heard a presentation on the new library at AMBS. It is a green building (not in the same sense as a "blonde house", but environmentally speaking). We had done a presentation for the Trinity library staff last year on trends in library buildings and I had done some research on the AMBS library then, but wasn't able to do a tour at that time. It was nice to see the building and what they had done. You can read about it here.

I mentioned somewhere that I'm auditing a course at Trinity College, History of Middle Earth, with Dr. Steve Fratt. For that we've read the Silmarillion and the Lord of the Rings with a lot of reference to Karen Fonstad's Atlas of Middle Earth. Tolkien said that he was attempting to invent a mythology for the English and we've been trying to approach our discussions as though we were reading actual ancient histories. It says something about his work of world building that people believe it passionately enough to try to argue and puzzle out ways in which it can consistently hold together. We've also been playing a number of games. Dr. Fratt is developing a set of games based on the battles of Beleriand in the Silmarillion and game versions of the Battle of the Hornburg and the Battle of the Pelennor fields from LotR. On Monday night we'll be playing his version of The War of the Ring which covers most of the events from LotR after the Council of Elrond. Last Monday we went as a class to the archives at Marquette University in Milwaukee where they have Tolkien's original manuscripts for LotR and the Hobbit, as well as other bits of Tolkiana. I had seen a lot of this collection when they held a museum exhibit at Marquette's art museum a few years ago. Still it was cool to see it again and to hear archivist Matt Blessing's presentation. We saw a number of manuscripts and lots of original artwork. Often when Tolkien was dealing with a knotty problem in the story he would map it out and it was fun to see these maps, including the original map of Erebor from The Hobbit. It was a good time also to fellowship with Dr. Fratt and my classmates on the ride up and walking around Milwaukee.

As I said, the rest of life is going well. Several of the youth went on Wednesday to set up bedding at a homeless shelter before our group meeting while others of us stayed back at the church and prepared bag meals for the homeless. My adult small group is nearing the end of our study of the book of Romans and our church just had a really awesome missions Sunday this morning. Yesterday I attended a session at Trinity for alumni and this springs grads focusing on resumes and job searching and in the afternoon I went to a Christian Youth Theatre production of The Wizard of Oz that some kids I know are in. I'm getting to do lots of reading and t.v. watching and am generally enjoying myself. Steve was sick this weekend but it appears not to have been H1N1 flu and I didn't pick any of it up myself.

That'll do. Maybe next time we'll try a sentence fragment update.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Run-On Sentence Update

Poor neglected blog we'd better get something up here before there are more knock knock jokes I'm looking for jobs and hanging around i've read a bunch of Ender books this week someday I'll get them back to Geron we had a great time in Kentucky you can read about that at Jim's blog it was good seeing Jim and Tara and the kids and seeing Mom and Dad and they were fun to travel with I saw the Cubs lose to the Cardinals today at Wrigley Field it was a perfect day if you were in the sun we were cold in the shade so it was only a really good day my friend Tom had free tickets a few rows up behind home plate and invited me to join him his wife and our pastor I'm generally doing ok it would be nice to have a job but it is also nice to be free for a while we had good Easter and Good Friday services though not in that order I sang in the Easter choir I've applied for a couple of jobs locally but am having trouble finding something I am both interested in and qualified for tomorrow I'm going to Elkhart Indiana for a one day library conference I'd been registered for before the job disappeared I'm looking forward to it and travelling with my former coworkers Steve and I are considering a road trip to the Pacific Northwest in May once his semester is done if I don't have a job yet I guess that's an update is it hypocritical to eschew punctuation but still use apostrophes if you want to email me don't use the tiu.edu address it may get forwarded but there's no guarantee use emeadors@gmail.com Aloha y'all

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Haiku alert and Thoughts on a sunshiney day At a lakeside park

Had a job I liked.
"Each person their book, each book
Its person" was good.

Changes certainly arrive
Clouding my spring with shadows.
I number my days.

The March lamb watches
As I wander the lakeshore.
She doesn't know my grief.

I warned of haiku.
The warm sun heats poetry
In the changes' midst.

Seeking open jobs.
God gives growth outside of my
Comfortable past.

Rippling waves roll in
And draw my mind to vision.
Pachomius calls.

Old dreams return in
The vacuum of my purpose.
Is this an exit?

Don't say I didn't give warning. Weather forecasts I saw during the week called for rain, clouds, and chilly temps. yesterday. I ran into Trinity in the morning to use the computers and get some job search books, planning to go home and clean my desk in the afternoon. Instead I ended up at Independence Grove in Libertyville walking around the lake meditating on scripture, my new life situation, and composing haiku.

One of my goals for the first two weeks after my black Friday was to spend time examining myself and listening to God for direction. I didn't want to leap at library jobs without some sense of confirmation that that's where I should be. My first haiku draws on Indian library theorist S.R. Ranganathan's 2nd and 3rd law of library science. The first is, "Books are for use." The second is, "Every reader his (or her) book" The third, "Every book its reader." I am personally committed to the idea that reading, and by extension any encounter with media, is [potentially] transformative. There are people walking about whose lives could be changed by an encounter with the right book. One of the joys of working in a library was knowing that I was contributing to that process. I was recommending resources for the library to purchase and trying to make those resources discoverable in our catalog in such a way that once found the reader could be linked to other resources that were related in some way. Not always on, say, a Tuesday afternoon, but whenever I stepped back out of the workflow and thought about what I was attempting to do, I took great satisfaction in being part of that process. Even moreso when I was a direct part of helping someone find what they were looking for, or what they could have been looking for had they known it existed. To zoom out yet another level, the thing that we encounter in the books, the music, the movies that changes and the encounters we seek through those means are tastes of the true encounter with God and at Trinity I was a part of facilitating that encounter as well. I want to continue to be part of those encounters, even if it means taking time away from the library work to get a library degree or if it means moving from the secondary to the primary encounters.

Another thing that struck me on my walk was the return of an old dream. For a long time I've wanted to thought about forming a semi-monastic community that would host a retreat for pastors and lay people. I sat on the shore of the lake and watch the wind blow in little waves and thought how I'd love to have a big house or a couple of houses on a lake shore where people could come for rest and prayer when they were weary. In some of the fuller pictures in my mind there would be a community like a Bruderhof that lived and worshipped there with whom the visitors could join in worship and for meals or not, as they preferred. Maybe we would live together but work in a nearby town or towns. It's never been a developed vision in my mind but it came in strong on Saturday afternoon. I'd like the community to be self-sustaining so that it wouldn't have to raise support or charge fees from visitors, though it would accept voluntary donations if people felt so led. Obviously such a place would have a nice library.

Just some of my thoughts from Saturday. The main thing I know about my situation is that there are opportunities here now, or on their way, that I would never have seen if I was still cloistered beneath Aragorn and the Argonath cataloging DVDs.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Update with Patrick's Breastplate

Quick update: I'm doing pretty good with the whole job thing. There are a few reasons that I think it was a good thing for me and I hope that it will be a good thing for Trinity in the future. I'll blog more about some of that later this week probably. Also, by way of fair warning, there may be haiku. My feelings are a mix of sad and excited, but mostly I'm just myself. I've got other stuff to think about.

You may have noticed that it is St. Paddy's day. The following is the hymn attributed to St. Patrick and known as the "Lorica" or "Breastplate of St. Patrick" in Joseph Sanderson's translation. Let's worship forever the God of Patrick's worship.

I bind myself to-day
To a strong power, an invocation of the Trinity.
I believe in a Threeness, with confession of a Oneness,
in the Creator of Judgment.

I bind myself to-day
To the power of the birth of Christ, with his baptism,
To the power of the crucifixion, with his burial,
To the power of his resurrection, with his ascension,
To the power of his coming to the judgment of doom.

I bind myself to-day
To the power of the ranks of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of the archangels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preachings of apostles,
In the faiths of confessors,
In the purity of holy virgins,
In the acts of righteous men.

I bind myself to-day
To the power of Heaven,
The light of sun,
The brightness of moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depths of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rocks.

I bind myself to-day
To the power of God to guide me,
The might of God to uphold me,
The wisdom of God to teach me,
The eye of God to watch over me,
The ear of God to hear me,
The word of god to speak for me,
The hand of God to protect me,
The way of God to lie before me,
The shield of God to shelter me,
The host of God to defend me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the temptations of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against every man who meditates injury to me,
Whether far nor near,
Alone and in a multitude.

I summon to-day around me all these powers
Against every hostile merciless power directed against
my body and my soul;
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heretics,
Against the deceit of idolatry,
Against the spells of women and smiths and Druids,
Against all knowledge which hath defiled man's body and soul.

Christ protect me to-day
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wound,
That I may receive a multitude of rewards.

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in breadth, Christ in length,
Christ in height.

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks to me,
Christ in the eye of every man that sees me,
Christ in the ear of every man that hears me.

I bind myself to-day
To a strong power, an invocation of the Trinity.
I believe in a Threeness, with confession of a Oneness,
in the Creator of Judgment.

Salvation is the Lord's,
Salvation is the Lord's.
Salvation is Christ's.
Let thy salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.

Friday, March 13, 2009


The Crossing, a Christian Celtic/Folk music group took Robert Burns' dirge poem "Winter" and gave it a chorus and a melody that I love. Here are the words with the chorus:

The wintry wind extends his blast,
And hail and rain dost blow;
Or, the stormy north sends driving forth
the blinding sleet and snow:
While tumbling brown, the burn comes down,
And roars from bank to brae;
And bird and beast in covert rest,
And pass the heartless day.

"The sweeping blast, the sky o'ercast,"
The joyless winter-day
Let others fear, to me more dear
Than all the pride of May:
The tempest's howl, it soothes my soul
My griefs it seems to join;
The leafless trees my fancy please,
Their fate resembles mine!

Through the night, through the night
Through the night and all
Tho' all my strength be sorely spent
And stars do die and fall
To thee my King I gladly cling
When black winds howl and blow
When all is done and battle won
Let Christ receive my soul

Thou power supreme, whose mighty scheme
These woes of mine fulfill
Here, firm, I rest, they must be best,
Because they are thy will!
Then all I want, (Oh! do thou grant
This one request of mine!)
Since to enjoy thou dost deny,
Assist me to resign.

Through the night, through the night
Through the night and all
Tho' all my strength be sorely spent
And stars do die and fall
To thee my King I gladly cling
When black winds howl and blow
When all is done and battle won
Let Christ receive my soul

I remember singing that at the top of my voice while peddling my bike up the hill to the Welch's outside Northfield the night I saw Braveheart. I love the imagery and the determination. As it happens, I do also like winter. I brought that cd in to the office today. Mostly I was bringing in a bunch of Irish-ish stuff to listen to going into St. Paddy's day. Trinity laid me off today. I'm really glad I brought the Crossing in with me so I can listen to "Winter".

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Quote about Spiritual Disciplines

"Fastings, vigils, meditations on the Scriptures, self-denial, and the abnegation of all possessions are not perfection in themselves, but aids to perfection. The end of the science of holiness does not lie in these practices, but by means of them we arrive at the end. He will practice these exercises to no purpose who is contented with these as if they were the highest good. A man must not fix his heart simply on these, but must extend his efforts towards the attainment of his end. It is for the sake of the end that these things should be cultivated. It is a vain thing for a man to possess the implements of an art and to be ignorant of its purpose, for in it is all that is of any value." Abba Moses

Or to put it in other, more authoritative words, "I have desired mercy rather than sacrifice." Prayer and scripture and all other disciplines and religious actions are worthwhile only insomuch as they lead on to love for our neighbors and, above all, love for God.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Silly quote

I have a recurring nightmare/dream in which an alarm clock is going off and I can't make it stop. Yesterday morning I said to someone else in the dream who was going to turn off the alarm, "It's no use. I've had this nightmare before. There's no way to stop it." When I was describing the situation to Steve and some friends last night I added this, "In the dream I was fully convinced that I was awake. Never mind the 500 lb. wrestler sitting on the floor playing with blocks."

Dreams are weird.

In other related news, I've decided to give up my snooze alarm for Lent.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wrestling with God

So, Lydia's probably right. I oughtn't to put in all that stuff about wrestling and not mention somewhere the Bible's big wrestling match.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Jabbok Ford Conference Center for our main event. In this corner, in a return appearance from Padan Aram, weighing in at not-too-many pounds, The Beersheba Heel Grasper, master of the Bethel Stone Sleeper, Jaaaaaaacob ben IIIIIsaac. His Opponent, from parts unknown, A Man, maybe an angel, perhaps The Lord God Almighty, The God of Abraham and Fear of Isaac!"

So most of us know the story from Genesis 32. Jacob is returning from exile with Laban and gets word that Esau is coming to meet him on the way. Jacob sends out a bunch of gifts of livestock to delay his brother, sends his family across the Jabbok River, and waits. In the night he encounters "a man" and wrestles with him all night. When the morning comes and the man sees that Jacob will not let him go, he puts Jacob's hip out of joint. The man asks Jacob to let him go and Jacob refuses unless the man blesses him. The man renames Jacob, Israel, saying, "You have striven with God and men and you have prevailed." Jacob again asks the man's name, but the other responds, "Why is it that you ask my name?". Then he blesses Israel and departs. Jacob renames the place, Peniel ("Face of God), saying, "For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered." Then he goes on and meets Esau and things turn out generally well.

Over the years I've mostly heard and read this passage as an encouragement to persevere in prayer. Jacob hangs on until God blesses him. Likewise we should press into God for blessing. "The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence and violent men take it by force." There's something to that, especially in light of Jesus' teaching about persistance in prayer in Luke 11 and 18. However, my OT Survey professor, Dr. Beitzel, suggested something different. What if this story was not an encouragement but a warning? Jacob struggles with God all night and is crippled by it, but he will not let go. Jacob is stubborn. One of the most frequent accusations against Israel by the prophets is that they are a stiff-necked people. They will not bend to God's will. Perhaps the name Israel is as much a curse and a prophecy as it is an honor and a blessing. If we lived by faith and trust in a wise and good God, when would it be good not to submit? Too often I wrestle with God not to gain blessing from Him but to prevent Him from taking away my sin. I try to become Israel when I could be Judah ("Praise" and the line that survived) or, better still, Yeshua (The Lord Saves, Jesus), the image He's trying to make me into. Some of us are wrestling, struggling, fighting to hold onto God's promises and blessing. I suspect most of us are wrestling and fighting to hold onto this world; this world that He would replace with blessing and eternity. It's time for most of us to stop wrestling with God, fall on our face, and worship Him.

"Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in Him." Psalm 2:11-12 (ESV)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Wrestling Memories

So following on my previous post, I thought I'd list some of the moments that have stood out over the years as I've watched wrestling. I don't really expect this post to mean anything to anyone else and it's probably the last wrestling related post.

1. Watching Hulk Hogan "hulk up" as a kid. I managed to never make the connection that at the point where the opponent's offense stopped having any effect on the Hulkster was when he was turning into "the hulk." I watched that show and knew about not making David Banner angry but I never registered that aspect of Hogan's name or character.

2. Watching Hulk Hogan crotch Terry Funk on the top rope on a Saturday Night's Main Event title match. Happens all the time, but it was the first time I'd seen it and my 13 year old self was impressed with the cleverness of that move.

3. Watching Andre the Giant turn bad and start choking Hulk Hogan. Even when all the faces came down to rescue Hulk and Hacksaw Jim Duggan broke a 2X4 over Andre's shoulders he still didn't release Hogan until he was satisfied. Given that Andre was the penultimate good guy at that point it was really shocking.

16 year hiatus

4. I started watching WWE one Monday night in June of 2003 when I paused on it while channel surfing. I might have been hooked by the Divas' battle royal championship match which was won by newcomer Gail Kim. I was also impressed by athleticism in the InterContinental title match between Booker T and Christian.

5. Wondering why it hurt Rob Van Dam more if he hit the mat on a missed frog splash than if he landed on a body. Seems like the move would hurt just as much, just in different ways.

6. The Dudley Boys vs. La Resistance.

7. Seeing Rosie, the 400 lb. Super Hero In Training, pull off a 360 splash from the second rope on Sunday Night Heat.

8. Watching Batista bat Maven out of the air when the latter was attempting a drop kick off the top rope on another episode.

9. Chris Benoit showing up for the Raw Wrestlemania Title match contract signing between Shawn Michaels and Triple H and exploiting his Royal Rumble title clause to insinuate himself in their match.

10. Watching Kane basically do a push up to power out of Benoit's crippler crossface to extend a match. Until that point the crossface had seemed invincible and did after that as well. That really made Kane look strong.

11. Hearing Jericho call Triple H, "Trips" for the first time on the Highlight Reel with Eugene.

12. Watching Shelton Benjamin leap three quarters of the way across the ring right into Shawn Michaels' "sweet chin music" superkick.

13. Watching Goldberg pull off a jackhammer slam on 400 lb. Mark Henry.

14. The first time I saw Gail Kim win a match with a submission hold. More than anything else that sold the idea that some of the divas could really wrestle.

15. Evolution's turn on Randy Orton. During the celebration of Orton's title win over Chris Benoit, Orton was sitting on Batista's shoulders in triumph with confetti falling and everyone happy. Suddenly Triple H.'s thumbs up became a thumbs down, Batista slammed Orton to the mat and the beatdown was on.

16. 5'4", 175 lb. "heavyweight champion" Rey Mysterio had 6' something, 400 lb. Mark Henry, "The World's Strongest Man," pinned. In the most logical move of Mysterio's title reign, Henry basically did a sit up holding Mysterio against his chest, stood up, and slammed the champion. Rey went on to win the match anyway, but I loved that move.

17. The build to Batista v. Triple H for the championship at Wrestlemania in 2005. I also loved the movie parody commercials for Wrestlemania that year.

18. Any time Stone Cold Steve Austin would drop co-Raw GM Eric Bischoff with a stunner.

19. The Undertaker's entrance, anytime.

20. JBL on commentary.

21. Hearing about Chris Benoit's death. Benoit was my favorite WWE wrestler. He was portrayed as the ultimate professional, a master technical wrestler. He wasn't flashy but he worked hard and he always gave good matches, even on the rare occasions when they tried to portray him as a heel. It was obvious he was on steroids but he was so much fun to watch. Then in one weekend he killed his wife and his son and committed suicide. It was a shocking, tragic, evil moment.

There. That's probably it for wrestling posts.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Wrestler

I saw the movie The Wrestler last week. I had a few reasons to go see it. First, I'm a Darren Aronofsky (the director) fan. I really enjoyed Pi and The Fountain, and I thought Requiem for a Dream was very interesting. Aronofsky has made some freaky weird movies and I'm generally in favor of that. Second, I've been a pro wrestling fan, or "mark", for a few years and was interested in seeing how that world was portrayed in the movie. Third, there's all that buzz about Mickey Rourke's performance as the main character, Randy "The Ram".

The Ram is a broken down wrestler who was once a superstar but is long past his hey-day. He's wasted a lot of his life on booze, drugs, and cheap sex, while pounding his body in the ring. He lives show-to-show in a trailer that he can't always make rent on. He works part-time on the dock at a grocery store. He has a daughter who hates him, whom he never sees. His only close relationships are playing with the kids in the trailer park, with the other wrestlers and promoters, and with a stripper at a club he goes to. Those relationships aren't close. The Ram has a heart attack after one particularly brutal match and tries to straighten out his life. He tries to restore his relationship with his daughter, he turns his back on the wrestling and starts working in the deli of the grocery store. He also tries to get closer to Pam, the stripper. Unfortunately his life has left him no margin or grace. Pam, who dances under the name of Cassidy, begins to care for Randy, but tries to cut off their relationship because she can't get too close to a customer. In response he goes out for a wild night with his wrestling buddies causing him to miss a dinner date with his daughter. As a result she finally and irrevocably cuts him out of her life telling that she doesn't hate him anymore because for her he no longer exists. He then loses his job in an outbreak of depressive rage and returns to the wrestling ring for a 20th anniversary rematch of his greatest triumph. As he prepares, Pam shows up to prove she does care for him. But now he is set and heads down to the ring. The film cuts to black at the final moment of the match as Randy dives from the top rope in his signature move, presumably to die.

It was an interesting movie. It was a hard story to watch (even more so since I was tired). I like tragedies but there was very little hope to hold onto. Lance Storm, a former wrestler whose website I read, said that despite the great performances he didn't enjoy the movie because he couldn't like Randy and he sees enough of these stories in real life. The commentary is very interesting in approaching the film from the standpoint of wrestling psychology. In a wrestling match it is important to establish your good guy, "face", as someone the audience can like and root for. You can't expect the audience to care about somebody by default. Storm didn't feel that the movie set Randy up well so that we could care about his fall. I can see his point, but as he admits he may be too close to the story. As someone more removed it was easier for me to root for Randy especially as things begin to lighten for him in the middle of the story. To put it in wrestling terms again it was like a glorified squash match where the bad guy, "heel", is demolishing a weak face or no-name wrestler, but the good guy gets some unexpected offense in the middle of the match and starts to look like he might pull a shocking upset, only to get beaten back down in the end.

The thing that I found most interesting about the movie was the way it played with the idea of real and fake. We all know that pro wrestling is fake in a sense. In their terms, it's "worked". It presents itself as an athletic competition, or even duel to the death, but is really a complex, half choreographed and scripted, half improvised performance designed to entertain. Hence the WWE's self description as "sports entertainment." However, within that there is real athleticism and real risk being taken. Even the best trained wrestlers run tremendous physical risks working together. When Owen Hart accidentally broke Steve Austin's neck with a pile driver it wasn't because either man was an amateur who didn't know what he was doing. When Brock Lesnar lifted the 500 lb. Big Show and superplexed him off the top rope and collapsed the ring, they were working together but that was a real feat of strength. It's amazing some of the acrobatics those guys can do and some of the blows they can take. It was interesting to watch The Wrestler from that perspective and to see some of the discussions before the match where guys are working out what will happen. It was particularly interesting to see the in-ring communication because that's something I've heard about but that they obviously don't highlight on WWE programming. Then there's the level of fakery involved with fans. "Randy 'The Ram' Robinson" is really Robin Ramzinski. There's the wrestler who basks in the adulation of fans and the man with a weak heart who works on the grocery dock or deli counter who's lost track of his daughter. At the same time, Randy's relationship with Cassidy is just as worked as his wrestling life. There's the woman he watches on stage and who gives him lap dances while seeming to care for him. But that is a front for the real woman whose name is Pam, has a son, and dreams of moving into a house down near Trenton in a neighborhood with good schools. She's been working him like he works the fans and when her real self encounters his it scares her and confuses him. Obviously overlaying all that is the fact that neither Randy nor Pam is any more real since they're played by Mickey Rourke and Marissa Tomei who may not be any more real either.

As I said, it was an interesting movie. Rourke and Tomei deserved their Oscar nominations and it's well made. It's rough, taking place in the back stage world of pro wrestling and a strip club. It's a hard movie about a hard life and tragic.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I/IV C Random Things About Me

This is a Facebook meme that I've also posted here for the convenience of those who either don't do Facebook or aren't my friend there.

I. I like Roman numerals
II. I like simple math.
III. I like language and think its neat that if I were British I would like simple maths.
IV. I'm not a twin but I am identical to my doppelganger and to anyone who looks exactly like me.
V. My favorite movie that's not a Lord of the Rings movie (they're beyond the category movie) is Dark City.
VI. I am not symmetrical.
VII. I like dark colors.
VIII. To this day I don't know if Ms. Moore's car was an olive green or a dark gray. The same uncertainty applies to the couch in my living room, though it may also be brown.
IX. I majored in Classics at St. Olaf mostly because of Dr. Groton's enthusiasm for the subject.
X. I hated coffee until last year.
XI. My favorite thing about volunteering with a youth ministry is watching students realize that God loves them personally.
XII. I enjoy classical music because of Basil Poledouris' score for Conan the Barbarian.
XIII. I played Lazar Wolf the Butcher in a Trinity College production of Fiddler on the Roof.
XIV. My former boss gave me my job as an act of self defense--that way I'd have to solve the call number problems I kept bringing her myself.
XV. I used to live at a synagogue with a private beach on the Lake Michigan shore.
XVI. My favorite pizza is a double decker from Bill's Pub in Mundelein or Buffo's in Highwood. My favorite cheap national delivery chain pizza is Papa John's. My favorite frozen pizza is DiGiorno's.
XVII. Wordplay is the pundation of all good humour.
XVIII. I'm teaching a junior high class at church about Heaven.
XIX. I wish I were artistic and that I could play an instrument.
XX. I once woke up and found my head was asleep (i.e. my scalp had that prickly feeling other parts have when they're asleep)
XXI. I just discovered that I like graphic novels.
XXII. I don't have a cell phone.
XXIII. Narcisistically one of my favorite movie quotes is, "Gopher, Everett?"
XXIV (or XXIIII at Yale). I saw three Jason Statham movies in the theatre last year.
XXV. I give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wisdom at the Movies

The following is an introduction to a document that I wrote to explain a display I put up in the library to accompany the college's Christian life week. The theme for the week was wisdom. One of the chapel staff members had suggested we do a display of DVDs the library had that portrayed some aspect of wisdom. I put up 53 DVDs of feature films and it looks like almost all have circulated at least once. At least 35 were checked out yesterday.

What is wisdom and where is it to be found? How does one become wise? Scripture teaches us to search diligently for wisdom wherever it might be found. Wisdom, the skillful application of knowledge and insight to daily life, begins with the fear of the Lord. We begin by recognizing our life as a gift that is dependent on the mercy and grace of God. By trusting in the Lord and acknowledging Him in all our ways we are able to recognize the meaning in the order and patterns in the world He has given us and then to apply that knowledge as we seek our way in that world.

Because this world has been founded and established by divine wisdom there is a great deal of knowledge and insight available even to those who do not begin with the fear of the Lord. Certainly anyone can learn to observe those patterns and to recognize the vanity and contingency of our life under the sun. Filmmakers of all faiths are able to portray many facets of wisdom as they assemble their stories on the screen. Some show us the power of wisdom in a particular person’s life such as Atticus Finch, Captain John Miller, or Will Kane, characters who live by a strong standard of right and wrong combined with the knowledge and skill to back it up. Other filmmakers show us wise mentors and teachers guiding their students on the path of life. Sometimes the wisdom comes from an outsider or, apparent, fool who teaches wisdom by the way they question what everyone else takes for granted. Others show wisdom in the lives of tragic wise men. Michael Corleone, Charles Foster Kane, and Eldon Tyrell have great gifts of skill and knowledge but pursue them to evil ends. Some like “Wise” Sir Bedivere even show us wisdom by its complete absence in their life and actions. At times wisdom comes through a journey as we follow the characters away from their home and daily context to new levels of insight into their lives. Some stay home but encounter wisdom as they face sudden changes in the world they thought they knew. Finally, some receive a wisdom that comes from outside their world.

The movies on the display included To Kill a Mockingbird, Saving Private Ryan, High Noon, The Godfather pt. 2, Blade Runner, Chariots of Fire, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Babbette's Feast and many others. It was a lot of fun to think about and put together.

On a completely unrelated note I discovered that I apparently think of work as "home." It's probably not a good thing that I think of that fact as more amusing than scary.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Lord's Prayer with Dante and Dorothy in the Snow

The preaching team at church has been doing a series on the Lord's Prayer as part of our church's prayer initiative. Last Sunday we had an extended worship night that was structured according to the Lord's Prayer. That service was a huge blessing for me.

At lunch I've been reading Dante's Divine Comedy in Dorothy Sayers translation. Today I came across this at the beginning of Canto XI of Purgatorio (p. 150 in the 1955 Penguin ed.). Dante and Virgil have entered the first circle of Purgatory and encounter the formerly prideful struggling under burdens and praying thus:

"Our Father, dwelling in the Heavens, nowise
As circumscribed, but as the things above,
Thy first effects, are dearest in Thine eyes,

Hallowed Thy name be and the Power thereof,
By every creature, as right meet it is
We praise the tender effluence of Thy love.

Let come to us, let come Thy Kingdom's peace;
If it come not, we've no power of our own
To come to it, for all our subtleties.

Like as with glad Hosannas at thy throne
Thine angels offer up their wills away,
So let men offer theirs, that Thine be done.

Our daily manna give to us this day,
Without which he that through this desert wild
Toils most to speed goes backward on his way.

As we, with all our debtors reconciled,
Forgive, do Thou forgive us, nor regard
Our merits, but upon our sins look mild.

Put not our strength, too easily ensnared
And overcome, to proof with the old foe;
But save us from him, for he tries it hard.

This prayer is not made for us - we know,
Dear Lord, that it is needless - but for those
Who still remain behind us we pray so."

Finally, I had a couple of moments of pure weather joy recently as I walked outside.
On Tuesday I came home from work around 4 in the afternoon. As I walked across the hard packed snow that's been in our lot since I don't know when, I thought about how much delight I take in a sunny 'teen degree day with snow crunching under my feet. When I came home last night around 9:30 and I walked the parking lot under the stars and Menelmacar (Orion) shining over the street I had the same feeling. Fresh fallen snow is beautiful, but there's also something about snow that's settled in and is a little dirty and cracked but firm. When it's been there for a while and paths have been tracked through it and its been cleared from the road and the sidewalks it's just a glorious, wonderful thing. I just wanted to share.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Desert Fathers

I'm finally breaking the ice on my blog for 2009. It's been real cold up here for a while and apparently my blogging system froze. I've thawed it.

This afternoon I attended a lecture hosted by the Carl F.H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding. Presumably it will eventually be available for listening there among their podcasts. The lecture was Scripture and the Quest for Holiness in Christian Antiquity by Dr. Bradley Nassif from North Park University. The focus was on the scripture and holiness in the Egyptian Desert Fathers. I don't have time to do a full blog of my notes but here are some of the interesting thoughts and quotes.

The early Desert Fathers had an understanding of the desert based on Deuteronomy 8 and Matthew 4 where the desert is a place of testing and spiritual warfare but also a place of forgiveness, repentance, and new beginnings that came from the ritual of the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16. Because of the ideas of testing and warfare the move to the desert was not a flight from the challenges of living in the world but an advance and desire to follow the command of Christ to take up their cross and follow Him. Also the landscape of the desert offered a place of simplicity and silence where it was impossible to hide from God and one's own sin. The expansive open space helped them to see themselves in proper proportion to God's greatness.

The Desert Fathers believed that one learned scripture by living scripture. The scriptures were not something to be talked about and known but something to be done and practiced. Dr. Nassif pointed out that we often approach the Bible today to learn something new but our chief challenge with scripture is not to learn new things but to learn to obey the old ones.

The Fathers often used scripture in their fight against the "Noonday Demon". So they called the attack of despondency, regret, and boredom that strikes in the middle of the day and tempts one to abandon one's calling in life. The believed in overcoming the attacks of the enemy by fitting the proper scripture to the situation and reciting it to themselves.

Meditation for the Desert Fathers was an oral rather than mental exercise. The meditated on scripture by constantly reciting and practicing its words. It was said that the Desert Fathers were "living texts." Dr. Nassif pointed out in relation to this that it is vital for us to recover the practice of memorization of large swaths of scripture.

"What is the Christian life? I fall down and I get up." St. Antony of Egypt

"Someone asked Abba Anthony, saying, What must we keep in order to be pleasing to God? And the elder answered, saying, Keep what I tell you. Whoever you may be, always keep God before your eyes. And whatever you do, do it from the witness of the Holy Scriptures. And in whatever place you live, do not leave quickly. Keep these three things, and you will be saved."

"Sit in your cell and your cell will teach you everything." Abba Moses the Black