Friday, December 31, 2010

My Most Popular Posts of 2010

 I was suprised to see how closely the top posts of 2010 reflect the all time traffic for my blog that I posted yesterday, albeit with one glaring exception. My post on Lord Save Us is no where to be seen in the top 10 (or even the top 20) of 2010. While it's moment in the spotlight has apparently passed, it was a valuable contribution to a very important ongoing conversation about the Christian Church in America.

A few new posts in 2010 gained enough traction to displace a few of the stalwarts that would otherwise fill the top 10 spots.
Tomorrow, to round out my reflections on blogging, I'll post a few of my personal favorites from the all time top 50.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Most Popular Blog Posts of the Decade

 To be fair, I've only been blogging since 2006 and only have traffic data since 2007.
  1. The Church is a Whore, But She's My Mother - This is a spicy yet ever relevant quote by Tony Campolo (quoting St. Augustine) about his view of The Church. It's worth a peak if you haven't heard it before. While this post is 3 years old, traffic has nearly doubled in 2010. Also, it should be said this post has as many views as the next 3 closest posts combined. 
  2. Movies From Sociology Class - This is one of my random posts that somehow found a much wider audience then I ever imagined. It's not one of my prouder moments as a writer, but demonstrates the value of the blog as an aggregator of information. Which leads to #3...
  3. Multiple Word Search Engine - I found this tool when a friend was looking for an easy way to study vocab definitions for class. Over the course of a few days I scoured the internet until I found exactly what I was looking for. As it turns out, a lot of people are looking for the same thing.
  4. Lord Save Us From Your Followers - Through my 3 years of involvedment with Nightstrike (see #9), which is featured in the documentary, I got my hands on an early release. In retrospect this was probably one of the first reviews online. A few months later I posted the release date of the film, which also made it in the top 20.
  5. Lacho Calad Drego Morn - Somehow I managed to interpret this quote from Children of Hurin. Turns out a lot of people were also curious about the meaning of this quote. I'm ashamed that I didn't state my sources. My methods are unknown, even to me now.
  6. Theological Response to the Shack - I felt like this response was fair and balanced in contrast to many of the scathing attacks that were floating around at the time. My own review of The Shack was also in the top 20.
  7. Future of Saab - For much of 2010 Saabs feature was bleak. It appeared Koenigsegg was going to take the helm. It's ironic this post has recieve so much traffic, because this was not the end of the story. Saab would face death and salvation a couple more times before finally being saved by Spyker.
  8. Christs Body in the Tomb - I really enjoyed writing this analysis of a painting by Hans Holbein the Younger mentioned in Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Idiot. I'd like to think of this as one of my more academic contributions to the internet.
  9. Bridgetown Ministries: Nightstrike - These were my initial reflections from 2006 about Nighstrike (making it the oldest post in my top 10), which I would go on to serve at for the next 3 years. God would use this time to transform and define my life in ways I never could have imagined. Will always treasure my years serving there.
  10. Google Reader - I am a staunch supporter of Google Reader. It's a magnificent way to stay in touch and up to date with this fast paced world

Tomorrow I'll post some interesting results specifically from 2010.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sociological Significance of Facebooks Map of the World

This stunning map, put together by a Facebook intern, has been making it's rounds.

But it really got me thinking.

Physical borders are beginning to look archaic. Less an less do we see an ambiguous flag representing a sea of faceless individuals. We are beginning to see others for who they are; as human beings, with friends, family, interests, and dreams.

The global interconnectedness that the Internet allows is creating a new consciousness. I'm not talk about the hive mind that is the web, but a new consciousness of our relationship to our fellow human being, even if that human being is on the other side of the planet.

You can already see how we are thinking a lot differently about issues. Just 50 years ago the average American didn't care that millions of people were starving in Africa in contrast to their lifestyle. It's affecting our morals and constructing a new global worldview (In that sense, it is a much truer all encompassing "world"view).

With the increasing interconnectedness of humanity comes a new age without borders. The age has passed where the Greeks relished in the excess and luxury of water and Americans flippantly consumed energy and resources without thought to those who had not. Increasingly our moral obligation to humanity as one is being revealed. This changes our minds and our hearts and must also change our social structures if we hope for an existence without futilely numbing ourselves to the pain and suffering of the world around us.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why You Must Listen to Mumford & Sons #7

 Reason #7: Little Lion Man

As their first radio release, Little Lion Man is the song that fueled the bands explosion here in the States. After hearing it on 94.7 over 9 months ago, I immediately looked it up online, and got the album within the week. It has since become my least favorite song on the album, which is not to say by any means that I don't like it.

Within the context of the album up to this point, Little Lion Man is one of the more straight-forward songs.

It's a song about self-regret and guilt. He has been living by lies, failing to be the man he was made to be, and in the wake of this destruction he has hurt someone close to him.

Weep for yourself, my man,
You'll never be what is in your heart
Weep Little Lion Man,
You're not as brave as you were at the start
Rate yourself and rake yourself,
Take all the courage you have left
Wasted on fixing all the problems
That you made in your own head

But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really F'd it up this time
Didn't I, my dear?
Didn't I, my...

Tremble for yourself, my man,
You know that you have seen this all before
Tremble Little Lion Man,
You'll never settle any of your scores
Your grace is wasted in your face,
Your boldness stands alone among the wreck
Now learn from your mother or else spend your days Biting your own neck

But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really F'd it up this time
Didn't I, my dear? (x2)

Didn't I, my dear?


But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really F'd it up this time
Didn't I, my dear? (x2)

Didn't I, my dear?

Be sure to check out the other reasons you must listen to Mumford and Sons:

Reason #1: Sigh No More
Reason #2: The Cave
Reason #3: Winter Winds
Reason #4: Roll Away Your Stone
Reason #5: White Blank Page
Reason #6: I Gave You All
Reason #7: Little Lion Man
Reason #8: Timshel

Thursday, December 16, 2010

You Hate Twitter?

  Why it's worth a second look, but not for what you might think.

I often find myself in crowd of friends biting my tongue, while Twitter receives a thrashing. I understand the shallow and vain content that has tainted so many impressions of Twitter. But if this defines Twitter, then you are missing how valuable of a communication tool it is.

While the "low" uses are an unfortunate aspect of Twitter*, by no means does it define Twitter.

Twitter represents a complete paradigm shift in communication. A new form of communication that can be leveraged to solve real world problems and make our communities better. That's a mighty claim, but here are a few glimpses of Twitter in action:
This is just the start.

Have you seen any other stories of Twitters potential in action?What other ways can a tool like Twitter be wielded to mobilize and empower people to strengthen the social fabric of our communities and our globe?

*It is totally possible to regularly participate in Twitter without encountering those who use it for "low" uses. In fact you don't even have to contribute to appreciate it's value. And you definitely don't have to follow people who abuse it just because they are you friends or family. For example, I follow some specified news sources to stay up on things I'm interested in, a few comedians for comic relief, and a select handful of friends and family who occasionally use it to share content I would be interested in.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Best EP of The Decade

 Collision Course by Jay-Z/Linkin Park.

Voting for the best EP was my cowardly way to get around committing to a best album of the decade. I just wanted to start the conversation about your favorite music of the decade.

So wtell me, what is your favorite music (Artist, Song, Album, EP) from the last decade?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Why You Must Listen to Mumford & Sons #6

 Reason #6: I Gave You All

I'm back after a month long fast from blogging but I am still deeply committed to finishing my interpretive analysis of the album Sigh No More by Mumford and Sons.

If you haven't been following every post this far, and don't want to start at the beginning, I would recommend reading my post on The Cave to understand the central movement of how I am interpreting the album.

I Gave You All is another song I find many labeling as a "break up song". It's not, though I confess it was my initial interpretation as well.

We can't leave out lyrics that are inconsistent to our initial interpretation. I find myself applying interpretive templates to songs in order to easily make sense of, and relate to them. In this case, when we confront what appears to be inconsistencies, and allow these to redefine our simplistic assumptions, we find there is a very rich and profound meaning to this song.

First and foremost I Gave You All is a lament.

And because the narrator has not found resolution to his struggle, we are entering in to an immense amount of internal conflict. We see this conflict in the repeated contradiction between the versus and the refrain. The narrator repeatedly claims to have given his all in the refrain, all the while confessing his guilt in the versus.

We begin in a reflective state, which slowly builds to confusion and frustration.
Rip the earth in two with your mind
Seal the urge which ensues with brass wires
I never meant you any harm
But your tears feel warm as they fall on my forearm

I close my eyes for a while
And force from the world a patient smile

How can you say that your truth is better than ours?
Shoulder to shoulder, now brother, we carry no arms
The blind man sleeps in the doorway, his home
If only I had an enemy bigger than my apathy I could have won

But I gave you all

I close my eyes for a while
And force from the world a patient smile

But I gave you all
He's realizing his past in guilt ridden, having unwittingly hurt those around him through his indifference. But he has deluded others, even himself, into believing he has given his all. We know he is after Truth, but now when Truth is painful he is challenging it's validity. The repeated refrain reveals his bitterness, in a sense refusing to confront his shortcomings.
And you rip it from my hands
And you swear it's all gone
And you rip out all I have
Just to say that you've won
But now it has been exposed, like a child with a piece of stolen candy in his pocket. The sham is up, he hasn't given his all. The thing he had refused to give up has been taken. Simply put, I believe this is comfort - a self centered posture in life, not allowing his heart to be vulnerable to those around him.

He is angry and bitter, as the song builds to a climax, spitefully shouting "you've won, and it hurts to be wrong!"
Well now you've won!

But I gave you all...
We saw that his guilt has been exposed from the first verse, yet in the final lines of the song we still hear him repeating his claim of ignorance. Life was easier when he was able to live in the delusion that he had given his all, while still standing back from a safe distance. But now that he has been exposed (to himself more importantly then to others) there's no going back.

If we are willing to allow the rest of the album to provide context to our interpretation of this song then the "you" that he lied about giving his all too is a providential God who's Truth, or ways, are greater then his. The narrator has been humbled by his lack of dependence and submission to God.

God asks us for our all, and how often do we sing in worship that we are giving our all. Our brokenness runs so deep, we routinely follow destructive patterns without even realizing it. As conviction of this reality runs deeper, it often means letting go of things we never knew we were holding so tightly. As one grapples with this, a frustrated lament is a natural response to the hurt of being humbled.

The end has no shiny resolution with a pretty red bow. While it seems that's hard for our culture to swallow, its okay. It's a reality many of us find ourselves in more often then we are willing to admit. This is a lament that can help us to express our frustration while working through it.

Reason #1: Sigh No More
Reason #2: The Cave
Reason #3: Winter Winds
Reason #4: Roll Away Your Stone
Reason #5: White Blank Page
Reason #6: I Gave You All
Reason #7: Little Lion Man
Reason #8: Timshel

Thursday, December 09, 2010

God is Jealous

 Is this bad new or good news?

This often confounding question is explored in the excellent podcast series called Groupthink Rescue. This is the 5th episode, but after listening you'll want to go back and listen to them all.

What is Groupthink Rescue? From the Facebook page (where you can also engage in discussions about each episode):

Groupthink Rescue is a weekly podcast that invites people away from common misconceptions and toward the true gospel of Jesus.

Groupthink is a type of thought within a deeply cohesive in-group whose members try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas.

Our hope is to rescue people from these misconceptions about Christianity, about Jesus, about the Bible, and about church. And our hope is to point people to the true Word of God and to the true Gospel of Jesus.
It's a perfect theological snack to get you through the week.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

What are Your Thoughts on WikiLeaks?

"Proponents of truth and integrity by holding our government accountable" or "malicious terrorists undermining our national security"?

One or the other? Somewhere in between or something altogether different? I'm curious where your opinion falls.

I've linked to articles from different perspectives to help stimulate feedback.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Why Should We Care About Advent?

In fact, why care about the ancient Church Calendar at all?

Rob Bell serves up an engaging introduction to this topic; igniting my own interest in the church calendar which has been kindled over the last couple years.

I ordered Eternal Seasons: A Spiritual Journey Through the Church's Year by Henri Nouwen to help find my place in the rhythm of the new Church Year.

The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life - The Ancient Practices Series and Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God look good too. Should make for some good reading over the next few Church years.

Monday, December 06, 2010

What I Learned From Writing 50K+ Words in 30 Days

More then anything, writing that much sparked an unquenchable thirst to read more!

In retrospect I see how much I drew from life experience to create new ideas. While nothing can be more formative to your creativity then rich authentic life experiences, reading can augment the potential of this creativity exponentially.

My next lesson was achieved by confronting the fear of how much I suck. There was a constant looming question of "what if there's nothing left?" and every word you write sounds more like crap then the last.

But I kept gagging myself, forcing something, anything to come out. Time and time again vomit would splatter across the screen. I would sit back to catch my breath, reflecting on what was written.

And it's brilliant.

Moments earlier I was convinced it's over. It's a dead end. Futile. I'm empty. Failure.

That's only day 3.

By day 7 I began to find comfort in the routine feeling of my inadequacy. But that didn't make it any easier. Multiple times a day, for 30 days straight, I didn't want to write another word. It required every ounce of self discipline I have acquired in my short 23 years of life (the bulk of which came from Cross Country in High School).

I also learned to keep my iPod touch on hand. Always. This is especially useful in bed to jot down the stream of ideas that regularly hits me with reckless abandon when I'm on the verge of falling asleep.

Finally one of the many lessons I learned about the creative process is to discover that which inspires me - and drown myself in it by engaging as many of my senses as possible (Visual, touch, sound etc.).

In a future post I'll share a few creative wells that I personally draw from.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Living the Upside Down Life

Four years ago, along with good friends and the support of my church community, I began acting on a conviction to live out the values of our Christian faith more fully. Not on a two-week overseas mission trip, not once a month at a soup kitchen for the homeless, but daily in our immediate community.

Up until that point, I was king of my life, where safety and comfort were the edict of my kingdom. But as I pursued the Christian faith, it humbled me from this throne that was not mine to claim. My faith invited me to submit my life to be a part of something greater then myself, which consequently meant abandoning my own aspirations for safety and comfort.

This is what led us, and many Christians, to identify intentionally with the poor. It is not required for acceptance in the faith, but I don't think one should be surprised when Christians do choose to reach out to the downtrodden of their community, even at great personal risk to themselves.

I want to be clear that acceptance in the Christian faith is upon one basis: that God the Father and His Son Jesus are in perfect union, that Jesus took on our humanity to identify with us in our brokenness, and bearing our burden, that we may be accepted by grace into divine union with our Creator. We are not accepted on the basis of our particular actions, no matter how zealous, righteous, or loving.

Being touched by the grace of God that meets us in our broken state, draws us to know and worship God, and compels us in an overflow of worship to turn to our neighbor and demonstrate this same grace. From Isaiah 58 to Luke 14 we see value in sacrificing our ambitions for the sake of others and instead identifying with the broken, marginalized, and outcast of society.

However, what A.W. Tozer calls the “self-sins”, prevent us from taking risks and making ourselves vulnerable in order to serve our own community. The self-sins are self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love, self-rights, and self-gratification. These dwell too deep within us, too much a part of our natures, to come to our attention without allowing God’s light to shine into the innermost motives that shape our lifestyle.

Putting to death the self-sins led myself and eight others to restructure our lifestyle which included choosing to make a very impoverished and dangerous apartment complex our home. We felt we would be able to most easily put the grace and compassion of our faith in action to those who are the most visibly downtrodden in our community.

As we prayerfully sought how to best serve our community we did not want to make assumptions about their problems and think we had the solution. We decided to first have a posture of listening, to learn about our neighbors. We began to host weekly community meals with the support of local churches. As this is our lifestyle, not a job, collaboration and unity between churches is necessary.

Going door to door inviting people to a community dinner and talking to people you don’t know can be uncomfortable. But comfort becomes less important as we continue to comprehend God’s glory. God calls us to take steps of faith in our life, and that means stepping out of our comfort and into the fear of the unknown. Will I be appreciated? Will I accomplish anything? Will I be respected? Again, the Christian faith liberates us from the slavery of these self-sins that prevent us from acting.

The community meals were an explosive catalyst for relationships that blossomed into friendships, opportunities to serve and meet felt needs, to learn about new cultures while embracing immigrants and refugees, to create safe space within the community for children to thrive. But we also learned to see the Divine in the mundane. Being available to a depressed widow, not only in moments of emergency when her apartment floods, but a regular presence of love over the course of months. Not only being with a single mom when she is suicidal at midnight, but being an anchor in her chaotic life for years.

And let’s face it. A fair amount of our motive to do good is tainted by pride. How much skill does it take to spend time with a depressed widow or help a single mom clean her chaotic home? Mostly it takes forbearance - and a willingness to give oneself night and day to something that, according to our usual reckoning, is not all that significant.

We learned first-hand through these relationships that while alleviating pain and suffering may sometimes be the fruit of our being with those who suffer, that is not primarily why we are there. Ministry takes courage to be with the sick, the dying, and the poor in their weakness and in our powerlessness. We can’t fix their problems or even answer their questions. As Henri Nouwen says, we dare to be with others in mutual vulnerability and ministry precisely because God is a God who suffers with us and calls us to gratitude and compassion in the midst of pain. You cannot solve all the world’s problems, but you can be with people in their problems and questions, trusting that joy also will be found there.

And indeed, there is joy. Joy in deep meaningful relationships that flourish when there is love and grace demonstrated within authentic community. While many in the surrounding community would rather bulldoze the apartment complex, this upside down life of abandoning comfort and security in submission to God can transform an impoverished crime ridden apartment complex into a home that you love and treasure - so much so that when it came time for my wife and I to leave, we left with a knot in our throat and tears in our eyes.


This article was originally published in Danish on November 25 at is driven by the Danish newspaper Christian Daily and is Denmarks largest website dealing with news, background and debates on Christianity, Church and Faith with more than 60,000 unique readers each month.

Friday, December 03, 2010

In The Shadow of the Christmas Tree Bomber

Except this bomber is a "devout Christian".

As a Christian, I find holding both of these events in my mind together to be a very helpful and healthy exercise. It helps me get into the shoes of Muslims and Somali's who share strong associations to the Pioneer Square bomber.

If not terrorism, God knows Christians are guilty of a good many other wrongs. I delve deeper into the exercise by asking the following question: If someone attended my church and went on to commit a great wrong, how would I feel if someone committed arson against my church?

Yes, terrorism and religious extremism needs to be discussed, but even more important is how we talk about them.

As I skimmed Facebook in the days that followed, amidst all of the frustrated and occasionally hateful clamoring, I was struck by one small voice that took a stand:
"We should pray for him."
I love how this frames the event.

In prayer we are humbled at the foot of the cross by our own brokenness, reminded by God's grace that met us, equipping us to turn and do the same. Hatred is replaced by heartbreak.

How I talk about events like this can either be destructive for our communities and destroy my credibility as an ambassador of Christ or by acting out of humility, compassion, and grace the dialog can be fruitful and glorifying to my King.

To assist in putting on the shoes of our Muslim neighbors I recommend reading this article about the perspective of local Muslims in response to the event.

It scares me to think how easy it would be to pick and choose condemning verses out of the Bible. How would I respond if someone did this to me? How much more productive would the conversation be if we asked them to explain the Quaran instead of foolishly pulling verses out of context and telling them what it means. And what a great start to a deeper relationship.

Listen first. Seek understanding. Be humble.

Another invaluable exercise I have found in the last 5 years of my life is to carefully listen to my internal dialog. This is not the opinions you voice about events, sometimes it is conscious thought, but most often it is simply how events make you feel. These feelings are not out of your control and they should be evaluated. They grow out of your belief system which is constantly evolving, sometimes core values conflicting with minor values, and is never above reproach.

In my own past on multiple occasions I have witnessed evil acts fueled by hate towards a group that is framed as an "enemy" to a group I am affiliated with (whether it be cultural, social, political, national, economic, or religious). While I would never partake in the act, or even voice approval of it, I feel a sense of satisfaction, sometimes joy, knowing the "enemy" has been hurt.

It can be scary to notice these internal dialogues. But challenging them has been a source of significant growth in my life.

For further reading I recommend Donald Millers response. He has an interesting vantage point as he was standing 25 ft from where the would be bomb was. I love his take on extremism, particularly his succinct conclusion on Christian extremism.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

What to Say after 30 Days Away?

After not blogging for a month (with the exception of Elena's early birthday surprise) there seems to be a glut of topics to write about, while no single topic feels important enough to be the first.

To get this silly self imposed burden off my shoulder I'll do a shallow recap of NaNoWriMo: NaNoWriMo made November the single most thrilling month of my life.

And I'm exhausted.

I experienced more writer highs since November 1st then my entire preceding life combined (To be fair, I didn't experience my first writers high until my senior year in high school). I learned as much about writing as I did myself while developing a more rich awareness of my creative process.

I also fell in love with Scrivener.

While I didn't write a single 50,000 word novel, I did write two 25,000+ word outlines. One, an epic dystopian sci-fi. The other, a theological autobiography. (And for good measure I threw in a 1,000 word article that got published in Danish. I'll post the English translation soon.) And the best part - I am super energized to keep working on both going into the new year!

Being away also gave me plenty of time to reflect about whats happening on the blog. If your a regular, do let me know if there is particular content that you find compelling here. I'd love to incorporate that into the renewed vision as it takes shape in the coming weeks.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Signing Off for November

I will not be blogging through the month of November.

Instead I will be diverting all of that time and writing stamina into NaNoWriMo. I have a bizarre vision that has been haunting me for months now. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to dive in head first and see how much depth is there.

As I prepare for my blogging absence, here's a grab bag of items I would have liked to blog about if I had not ran out of time:

I'll see you all back here in December!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

FAA Certifies Missionary's Flying Car (Vid)

I frequently blog about missions and the auto industry, but never before in the same post. That all changes with this jaw dropping video of Steve Saints mechanical creation. I never imagined anything would make me more honored to have met the man - that has changed after seeing this video has well.

"The car, called Maverick, is a buggy of sorts that is powered by a 250-horsepower Subaru engine. The car is light, so that's enough power to propel it from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds. When Saint wants to take to the air, he raises a 25 foot mast that locks a parachute in place, then he flips one switch, which connects the engine to the large propeller at the rear of the vehicle. The Maverick is now ready to soar through the sky.

Saint may use the Maverick to assist the Waodani tribe, but he insists that there are many other uses for flying cars, and that they could prove to be a useful tool for a wide range of commercial applications. I-TEC believes it can built around 100 cars per year and that they should cost around $80,000." -Autoblog

Friday, October 29, 2010

Don't Celebrate Halloween if you are Afraid of Satan

Have you ever looked at the origins of Halloween? I haven't until today.
"The concept, as dramatized in Christian custom, is quite simple: On October 31, the demonic realm tries one last time to achieve victory, but is banished by the joy of the Kingdom.
The festival reminds us that though Jesus has finished His work, we have not finished ours. He has struck the decisive blow, but we have the privilege of working in the mopping up operation." -Internet Monk
Dressing up as ghosts, demons, and even satan is a MOCKERY of Satan because Jesus is victorious. The fact that we can dress our children this way shows our supreme confidence in the utter defeat of Satan by Jesus Christ – we have NO FEAR!

For a Christian to not celebrate Halloween because they think it is evil and are afraid of Satan is the same as not celebrating Christmas because Santa Claus and Rudolph aren't real.

Our culture has distorted the celebration to be sure, in the same way it distorts Christmas and Easter. That doesn't mean we abandon Christmas. No, we define it and celebrate it on our terms. Halloween has very rich Christians roots, and it has a lot of potential to be redeemed and celebrated by Christians for God's glory, not shunned or feared.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Children Don't Learn That They Matter From the Bible

 They learn it from you - your words and actions in their daily life.
"The idea we matter is more important to learn in childhood than in any other stage. And they learn from adults, from whether or not they get off the phone, make eye contact, get mad too quickly, love them enough to stay married to their mom, love them enough to protect them from danger, even from themselves. The message God wants to communicate to children is entrusted to you, to the way you look at them or celebrate them when they walk into a room. If they get that message, the Bible will confirm it for the rest of their lives. And if they don’t, they’ll struggle to believe the overwhelming obviousness of God’s love..." -Donald Miller
This task is not only entrusted to parents. This applies to our nieces, nephews, grandchildren, our neighbors. They are looking to us to know that they matter - to know that they are loved.

The following video about a father and son launching a balloon into space has been making it's rounds for a couple months now. The first time I saw it, it struck me as profound and I wanted to share it but I have been waiting for the right moment. Even if you have already seen it I encourage you to watch it again, but this time watch the boys eyes.

You can see a spark of life igniting in his eyes that will illuminate his path. Because someone in his life took a moment to care, to embark on a journey, to imagine and create something together, to be present.

Homemade Spacecraft from Luke Geissbuhler on Vimeo.

May this be an inspiration and encouragement for you to be present in the lives of children around you.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Why You Must Listen to Mumford & Sons #5

Reason #5: White Blank Page

One of my favorite songs can only be worthy of one of my most bold interpretations.

Just remember, I'm not trying to peg Mumford and Sons as being "Christians in disguise". I find it extremely refreshing that they are authentically exploring faith issues within the public sphere of music. It creates space for thoughtful reflection and conversation - which is exactly what this is.

Right off the bat lets be clear, White Blank Page is not a break up song. The opening verse is a very stark challenge for us to roll away our stone.

Can you lie next to her
And give her your heart, your heart
As well as your body
And can you lie next to her
And confess your love, your love
As well as your folly
And can you kneel before the king
And say I’m clean, I’m clean

The narrator is from the perspective of the redeeming Love/Truth/Maker that has been developed in the songs up to this point.

But tell me now, where was my fault
In loving you with my whole heart
Oh tell me now, where was my fault
In loving you with my whole heart

Building further, I'm going out on a limb with the bold claim that this narrator is Jesus. By being sent "to the brink", He is reflecting on His Passion. How often does hallow religion, void of an intimated and affectionate relationship, result in the clamoring for attention from a distant God?

A white blank page
and a swelling rage, rage
You did not think
when you sent me
to the brink, to the brink
You desired my attention
but denied my affections, my affections

So tell me now, where was my fault
In loving you with my whole heart
Oh tell me now, where was my fault
In loving you with my whole heart

Now, the final chorus stumped me for literally months, because the perspective of the voice did not seem to fit with the rest of the song. Then it hit me as clear as day last week that the final chorus is he a responsitory proclamation of worship to the Passion of Christ.

Aah, aah...
Lead me to the truth and I
will follow you with my whole life
Lead me to the truth and I
will follow you with my whole life
Aah, aah...

By the way, Mumford and Sons rocked my socks off at the Crystal Ballroom on Friday. So did King Charles (his EP comes out in the US iTunes store this week).

Reason #1: Sigh No More
Reason #2: The Cave
Reason #3: Winter Winds
Reason #4: Roll Away Your Stone
Reason #5: White Blank Page
Reason #6: I Gave You All
Reason #7: Little Lion Man
Reason #8: Timshel

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why You Must Listen to Mumford & Sons #4

Reason #4: Roll Away Your Stone

Roll Away Your Stone revists and further develops some themes we've seen already. This is a song about being honest with each other, shining light into the dark places, or "sighs" of our life.

I don't think the imagery between rolling away your stone and the cave is a coincidence. The last half of the song is exploring the reality of the tension that follows after leaving the cave; after submitting to the redeeming force of the love/truth/maker.

Roll away your stone I will roll away mine
Together we can see what we will find
Don't leave me alone at this time
For I am afraid of what I will discover inside

You told me that I wouldn't find a home
Beneath the fragile substance of my soul
And I have filled this void with things unreal
And all the while my character it steals

Darkness is a harsh term don't you think
Yet it dominates the things I see

It seems that all my bridges have been burned
But you say 'That's exactly how this grace thing works’
It's not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with every start

Darkness is a harsh term don't you think
And yet it dominates the things I see (x2)

Stars hide your fires
For these here are my desires
And I won't give them up to you this time around
And so I will be found
With my stake stuck in the ground
Marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul (x2)

And you, you've gone too far this time
You have neither reason nor rhyme
With which to take this soul that is so rightfully mine

Reason #1: Sigh No More
Reason #2: The Cave
Reason #3: Winter Winds
Reason #4: Roll Away Your Stone
Reason #5: White Blank Page
Reason #6: I Gave You All
Reason #7: Little Lion Man
Reason #8: Timshel

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

David Crowder Band: SMS

Lite Brite stop motion. Best music video of the year?

I think so.

Why You Must Listen to Mumford & Sons #3

Reason #3: Winter Winds

The concert is quickly approaching and I don't have a time to do a thorough analysis of each. But Winter Winds is still a beautiful and emotionally stirring reason to listen to Mumford and Sons.

Be sure to check out the other reasons you must listen to Mumford and Sons.

Reason #1: Sigh No More
Reason #2: The Cave
Reason #3: Winter Winds
Reason #4: Roll Away Your Stone
Reason #5: White Blank Page
Reason #6: I Gave You All
Reason #7: Little Lion Man
Reason #8: Timshel

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bloomberg Game Changers: Steve Jobs

Bloomberg put together a compelling overview of the Apple story to date in a video that is <50 minutes. Even my wife enjoyed it. Translation: It’s a great way to get friends and family up to speed as you don’t have to be a technophile or Apple fanatic to enjoy it.

The Bloomberg segment contains interviews from a wide array of perspectives to synthesize the major events along the way. For many of us relative newcomers who have only begun following Apple in the 21st century, watching the segment helpfully puts current events in full historical context.

For example, I recently heard Steve Jobs quoted as telling Nike's CEO to "Get rid of the crappy stuff". At first glance I thought it smacked a tad of arrogance in the "easier said then done" variety. But as you'll see in the Bloomberg segment, the first time Steve Jobs said this was over a decade ago, upon returning to the company he founded. I think it's safe to say he's done it

Some of my favorite insight comes from the former Apple CEO John Scully because of the drama associated with his appointment and the tenuous state of Apple that followed. If this tickles your fancy as well, Cult of Mac recently published a shockingly candid interview with the man; especially worth your time for a glimpse into the methodology of Steve Jobs.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Boba Fett

While this interview with the man behind Boba Fett isn't nearly as thrilling as the read on Chewbacca, any Star Wars nerd will still enjoy.

And don't miss these behind the scene shots of Empire Strikes Back.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Best of YouTube: K-Strass YoYo Master Pranking News Stations (Vids)

To understand the hilarity you just have to watch:

 These landed him a gig on The Office!

"The details are not details, they make the product"

 - Charles Eames.

This would have made a perfect intro quote for my write up about the "breathing" status light on the MacBook.

On the topic of design and Apple, I recommend reading the full transcript of a very candid interview with John Scully, former CEO of Apple. He provides excellent insight into the history of Apple and the methodology of Steve Jobs.
Because Steve’s design methodology was so correct even 25 years ago he was able to make a design methodology – his first principles — of user experience, focus on just a few things, look at the system, never compromise, compare yourself not to other electronic products but compare yourself to the finest pieces of jewelry — all those criteria — no one else was thinking about that. Everyone else was just going through an evolution of cheap products that are getting more powerful and cheaper to build. Like the MP3 player. Remember when he came in with the iPod, there were thousands of MP3 players out there. Can anyone else remember any of the others?

If you read the whole article I think you will be shocked by John Scully's humility, admitting his failures. I found this humility to be as inspiring as the insight about Steve Jobs methodology.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Why You Must Listen to Mumford & Sons #2

Reason 2: The Cave

This is going to be even more evident in my discussion of this song, so I want to address it head on.

I'm not trying to peg Mumford and Sons as being "Christians in disguise". Much to the contrary! They might be Christians, they might be generally theistic, or even none of the above. No matter, I find it extremely refreshing that they are authentically exploring faith issues within the public sphere of music. It creates space for thoughtful reflection and conversation.

Before reading on, I recommend you begin with my introduction to the title track of the album. Otherwise, remember the title track seems to frame the entire album in a message of redemption - confronting the pain and brokenness while pointing to a hope for restoration towards wholeness in life.

The Cave is rich in symbolism and literary allusions, opening with a vivid picture of the desolation left in the wake of ones broken life. Or the "sighs of life", as we previously discussed.

It's empty in the valley of your heart
The sun, it rises slowly as you walk
Away from all the fears
And all the faults you've left behind

The harvest left no food for you to eat
You cannibal, you meat-eater, you see
But I have seen the same
I know the shame in your defeat
The refrain is reminiscent of the hopeful rally call introduced in the title track, but now the narrator is aware he is not alone in this journey. He vividly sees the gruelling bondage of those near him, desperate to help in their liberation. This liberation is now understood to be a process, and that pain is not something to avoid but embrace as a means to growth. It closes with a reminder that the liberation necessitates an ongoing response to the call towards aligning oneself to the design of life.
But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again
The key operator in the title track was "love", now we see it has been interchanged with "truth". The love compels us, but the truth is necessary for the transforming alignment. The "widows and orphans" is a clear representation of the pain that surrounds us resulting from the brokenness of humanity - the fruit of the evil that grips each individual. Finally, ones transformation is not for ones own end, rather, also includes a calling to reach out to others who have been hurt or are in bondage.
Cause I have other things to fill my time
You take what is yours and I'll take mine
Now let me at the truth
Which will refresh my broken mind

So tie me to a post and block my ears
I can see widows and orphans through my tears
I know my call despite my faults
And despite my growing fears

But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again
In the third verse we see a penchant for classical Greek allusions. First, Plato's excellent allegory of the cave, a fascinating story about perception and the revelation of reality. A bold claim is made that this revelation of reality, which seems upside down, gives a new understanding of dependence. Dependence on what? Well, we are gathering quite a collection of nouns used to describe the source of redemption; first "love", then "truth", and now "maker". But it's not just knowing the maker, it's to know his land. To know the land of a ruler means to know his heart, his values, his ways, his laws. This is followed by a likely reference to the Sirens in The Odyssey; a sense that there is a tempting alternate path - countering Love, Truth, and the ways of the Makers land.
So come out of your cave walking on your hands
And see the world hanging upside down
You can understand dependence
When you know the maker's land*
So make your siren's call
And sing all you want
I will not hear what you have to say
The bridge to the final refrain encapsulates the whole message of the song. Liberation through Truth, which refreshes us to wholeness in right living.
Cause I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it's meant to be

And I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again
The message of redemption is further developed in The Cave. We are shamed, broken, faulty, and tempted. But there is hope as we are strengthened, refreshed by a Truth which reveals a seemingly upside down reality and called by name for a purpose as we learn the ways of the Makers land. But we aren't alone in this redemption story, and we aren't satisfied with it being for our own end. We are compelled to be a part of this movement for the liberation of humanity.

Reason #1: Sigh No More
Reason #2: The Cave
Reason #3: Winter Winds
Reason #4: Roll Away Your Stone
Reason #5: White Blank Page
Reason #6: I Gave You All
Reason #7: Little Lion Man
Reason #8: Timshel

*While the recorded version is clearly "land", they are known in live performances to interchange it with "hand". On my initial take, I found "hand" to be more satisfying. Especially in light of the previous line about dependence, as if the makers hand is the sustainer. However, as I developed my interpretation of the song I came to appreciate the much fuller meaning of land. I think the fact that they clearly interchange these two words helps to zero in on a definition.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Time is Passing so Quickly!"

Do find yourself or others saying this more often? Does this bother you? Do you ever wonder why?
I encourage you to ponder this quote from C.S. Lewis.

"At one time I was much impressed by Arnold's line 'Nor does the being hungry prove that we have bread.' But surely tho' it doesn't prove that one particular man will get food, it does prove that there is such a thing as food! i.e. if we were a species that didn't normally eat, weren't designed to eat, would we feel hungry? You say the materialist universe is 'ugly.' I wonder how you discovered that! If you are really a product of a materialistic universe, how is it you don't feel at home there? Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Or if they did, would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always, or would not always be, purely aquatic creatures? Notice how we are perpetually surprised at Time. ('How time flies! Fancy John being grown-up and married! I can hardly believe it!') In heaven's name, why? Unless, indeed, there is something about us that is not temporal."
I also recommending reading the three letters C.S. Lewis wrote to Sheldon Vanauken (the source of this quote) in there entirety.

I'll be reflecting more on the works of C.S. Lewis as I work my way through a class on his life and works.

Stunning 70” Multitouch Table Concept

What's the big deal? It's just an oversized iPhone without the phone. :)

But I think it's safe to say that myth has been busted. The iPad is at 8.5 million units sold, making it the fastest gadget adoption ever (blowing the DVD player out of the water). Form does matter folks.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Scary World of Google (& Other Tech News)

Andy Rubin, vice president of engineering at Google, stated the following in regard to Microsofts new Windows Phone 7 mobile OS:

"I think the screen shots I've seen are interesting, but look, the world doesn't need another platform. Android is free and open; I think the only reason you create another platform is for political reasons."
I get it Andy, you truly believe your product is the bees knees, but Microsoft is a technology company. They make software, which they sell, to make money. The future is mobile. Of course they are heavily invested in building a competitive mobile platform.

Competition (maybe even more importantly then benefiting the consumer) keeps the the market honest and healthy.

The fact that he doesn't seem to understand this makes me think the ideal world inside that guys head is a very scary place.

Not convinced of the spike in Google's Creepiness Meter? Check out this line straight from the CEO.

In other tech news:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Social Network

A flawless script, great cast, stirring soundtrack, and one of the most epic stories of our time.

This review nails it.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Why You Must Listen to Mumford & Sons #1

This is the first and title track of what is sure to be my favorite album of 2010.

Without further ado, I bring you: Why you must listen to Mumford and Sons Reason #1 - Sigh No More

Their music stirs my soul, exhilarating my body and mind. It is not often that I hear a song so enrapturing, musically and lyrically, much less a whole album.

The first half of "Sigh No More" is a stirring reflection on the pain, disappointment, and sorrow that each of us carries from our past. We all have these "sighs" of life when we reflect on the carnage that is left in our wake. This is a revelation that we are creatures guided and divided by an impure heart with a tendency to wander on a dizzying path.

As you will see throughout the album, there are many rich literary allusions. But none are more clear than in the title track. There are 4 direct quotes from Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, one of which even serves as the title (of the album no less!).
Serve God, love me and mend (Act V Scene II)
This is not the end
Live unbruised, we are friends (Act V Scene IV)
I'm sorry

Sigh no more, no more.
One foot in sea and one on shore, (Act II Scene II)
My heart was never pure.
You know me.
But man is a giddy thing, (Act V, Scene IV)
Oh man is a giddy thing,
Oh man is a giddy thing,
Oh man is a giddy thing.*
The last half of the song is a rally call to embrace a love that is outside of ourselves. This love is liberating man from the pain "sighs" of life, calling him out of the aimless path, giving orientation in life, and transforming the impure heart.

Love it will not betray you
Dismay or enslave you, it will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be
There is a design, an alignment, a cry
Of my heart to see;
The beauty of love as it was made to be
Whether the following was the original intent or not is beside the point. If you are a Christian and don't think that is a beautiful poetic proclamation (don't read "perfect", or "complete") of the law and gospel, then, um, I guess you probably don't think I am a Christian. And you probably won't like my analysis of the rest of the album.

The message of redemption in "Sigh No More" is one of the more straightforward tracks on the album. Also being the title track, and musically very much a prologue to the rest of the album, I can't help but think it provides context for understanding the rest of the album.

Speaking of which, I'm going to try and share all 12 tracks before their concert at the Crystal Ballroom on October 22nd. Whether you agree or disagree, I'd love to hear what you think.

Reason #1: Sigh No More
Reason #2: The Cave
Reason #3: Winter Winds
Reason #4: Roll Away Your Stone
Reason #5: White Blank Page
Reason #6: I Gave You All
Reason #7: Little Lion Man
Reason #8: Timshel

*Giddy is an interesting word. And as you will see, Mumford & Sons uses a number of interesting words. I was divided in my interpretation of the giddiness of man, which is why I glossed over it in my analysis. But much thought went into it, so I will share that here. 

I generally feel the giddiness is a negative attribute, especially in the context of the song. Man's giddiness conveys the dizzying disorientation of humanity. We are lost and the "sighs of life" consume us. But, I am not totally against a positive definition either. As if this giddiness is an innate yearning for the hope of true love which follows in the song.

Without significantly changing the message of the song either way, this giddiness is somewhere on the journey between the broken state of humanity and responding to the hopeful rally call to embrace true love.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Blue Like Jazz (the movie) is Back On!

The masses have spoken with their wallets, making Blue Like Jazz the first movie to be funded through Kickstarter.

I believe Blue Like Jazz is a story worth telling, something Hollywood seems to be severely lacking.

The other day I shared about how the book impacted me. Anyone else have experiences related to this book?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

On C.S. Lewis

I have been enjoying my free seminary class exploring and critiquing the theology, works, and life of C.S. Lewis - courtesy of Reformed Theological Seminary by way of iTunes University.

Reading Mere Christianity profoundly impacted me in the summer of 2005. Unbeknowst to me at the time, it was the first step of an exciting and awe-inspiring journey reading every work C.S. Lewis has published.

How and when were you first exposed to C.S. Lewis? How has his writing impacted you? What's your favorite and why?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Gap Enters Race for Worst Logo of 2010

I don't mind Helvetica, especially if it is done well. But sorry, plain black Helvetica Bold has been done, and the blue square (with just enough gradient that you can't tell if your eyes are playing tricks on you or not) only makes the situation worse.

It's getting nearly impossible to use Helvetica without looking utterly derivative and generic.

For a major brand, this has to be one of the worst logo's of 2010.

Originally seen on Brand New: Don't Mind the Gap, or the Square:
Gap Logo, Before and After

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Lets Kickstart the Blue Like Jazz Movie!

I grew up in a Christian context always having all the right answers. If there wasn't an answer, you were asking the wrong question. There was no room for questions that don't have a black and white single sentence answer; no room for questions or frustrations that cause the discomfort of doubt.

However, creating a vacuum where questions and frustrations can't be expressed outwardly does not eliminate them. How much more dangerously they fester unexposed in the darkness within, undermining further truths; as dry rot further spreads through an otherwise strong structure.

Blue Like Jazz found me when I was struggling through a season of life when many in my context considered me to be asking the "wrong questions" that "didn't have answers". These questions and frustrations were mounting a relentless attack and I was helplessly outnumbered, prepraing for my retreat.

Blue Like Jazz helped me understand I wasn't alone in my frustrations, that it's okay to journey through questions, that there can still be peace in the midst of doubt. More then anything, this book created the space within which I could engage my questions and frustrations in community, allowing me to open the shutters and let light in. Slowly the questions and frustrations slithered away once they had been exposed to the rising sun outside.

With that being said, here's the point of this post:

Donald Miller recently shared from his heart about the long hard journey of turning the book into a movie, with all the details of how this effort to resurrect the movie has come to pass thus far.

Especially if the book has been an encouragment to you, consider heading on over to the Save Blue Like Jazz The Movie Kickstarter page and chipping in. Depending on how much change you are able to part with, there is some sweet swag!

Monday, October 04, 2010

What Makes One a Christian?

The Obama video I posted last week sparked a thoughtful dialogue that I was honored to share with so many of you.

A blog I follow just kicked off the following conversation:
My point today is not decide if our president is a true believer or not. No—I want to know what you think makes anyone a believer. Just what makes one a Christian? Is it a specific group of words that must be confessed? A certain set of beliefs that must be embraced? Are there outward actions, such as baptism, that are requirements before one can be “saved.” What is the bottom line for one becoming a Christian? 
Feel free to comment here or head on over to the Internet Monk, and share your response in the comments. Or just troll. It's your choice.

My initial response to the first round of answers: In contrast to the dialogue about Obama, it interesting that we are quick to make being a Christian so complicated when it comes to real people, but in theory it's so simple.

What's up with that?

Saturday, October 02, 2010

How Christians Could Save America's Schools

Elena showed me this thought provoking article on how Christians can be a blessing to public schools.
I’m grateful that our children will befriend kids who come from other backgrounds. I’m grateful for the chance to serve other families. And I’m hopeful that our presence will be a blessing, that others might “see our good deeds and praise our father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). It might be through an explicitly Christian gesture — inviting a friend to Sunday school or saying a blessing before mealtime. Or it might subtler — starting a tutoring program, helping to raise funds for the school, or serving on the PTA.
It’s easy for me to say. We live in an area with some of the best public schools in the state. A group of friends from college, however, has moved into a neighborhood where the schools are, by any measure, in disrepair. Their kids are approaching kindergarten, and they have chosen to stay engaged in their community by sending their children to the failing schools. Some of these friends have joined the local board of education. Others have become after-school volunteers. They are engaged in the messiness —the bureaucracy, the discipline problems, the teachers who are indifferent to their students’ fates. They are engaged because it matters to both their children and the health of their community. They are engaged because caring for the education and economic stability — not only of their own kids, but also of their neighbors — matters to God.
Read more at Christianity Today.

This topic grabbed me as one who spent the better part of my elementary education in a private school and then went to public high school. It's also relevant as the church Elena and I have been plugging in to here in Tigard is currently processing through some really exciting ideas on how they can serve the local public schools