July 27, 2004
Auntie to the power of two
Kylia Praise was born yesterday morning, at 6:07 am. She weighed 8lbs 12oz and is 19 1/2 inches long. She is niece #2. I got the call from my brother, Seth, at 5:22 am and made it to the hospital in Olympia at about 7:30 am in time for Kylia's first bath. It was a very laid back morning at the hospital. Friends of the family Dan and Marie came by early, but other than that it was just Seth, April, Kylia and I for a little while. Such a contrast from Adalie's birth-day. Swarms of relatives all day long and lot of first-baby excitement and craziness. I had to leave at 11:00 am to catch the PHP security tutorial in Portland at OSCON. Today I have another tutorial (PHP and MySQL with Bells and Whistles), so it'll be this evening before I make back up there. My other brother, Brant, was miraculously able to leave work early yesterday and had the joy of seeing Adalie Grace interact with her new baby sister. I am hoping that joy will be mine tonight.
July 20, 2004
Church desecrated in Gujarat
Read article: Church desecration leaves Gujarat village tense
I'm pretty sure I passed through Surat district during my trip to India in February. It was my favorite place of all the areas of Gujarat I was able to witness. Lots of small agro-villages spread out over the district. That was my brief impression, anyway. In one such village we went to the top of a hill and looked out over a very Shasta-esque lake. You could see for miles in a couple of different directionsand no people anywhere. (Such a contrast from the big city I stayed in!) However, in one direction, a village could be seen that was not unlike the one we were presently visiting. It was apparent that any general crime or devastation committed against any number of people within that village could quite possibly go undetected for days (in the absence of any fire, that is). Disconcerting, when you consider that much of the religiously motivated crime against people is committed in these small rural villages where cries for help would go largely unnoticed.
July 15, 2004
Commuter Reading List: Argentina, Tolstoy, and the Corporate Soul
Today's commuter reading list is inspired partially by a grant from chapter one of Dallas Willard's book, The Divine Conspiracy which has been the most timely, inspiring, and refreshing book I have read since yesterday (as I am concurrently reading Richard Foster's Streams of Living Water).
So Mr. Willard says that one of the most important books in two centuries is Tolstoy's Confession ; so, I picked that up at the library at lunch today. Incidentally, there was a concert going on Arts and Music floor (which also houses the books on religion) so after I found it, wandered around the literature section a bit, waiting for a pause in the program, and found a book that I thought Grandma might enjoy while she is recovering at the skilled nursing facility: a book of Christopher Marlowe's poems. Hopefully she'll like it. She's been wanting a book of poems to read.
And yesterday, I picked up David Batstone's book, Saving the Corporate Soul which they also had at the library and as of this morning's commute am finding to be a great read indeed. (Good stories, so far, too.)
But I think the most exciting thing I will read today is the College of Arts and Craft's Fall Course Schedule pamphlet which I picked up at The Real Mother Goose (at the MAX stop which is nearest the library). Would you believe they have a class on Celtic calligraphy on Monday evenings this fall? And the school is just around the corner from my new place. Brilliant. I am very excited. Now to save my dollars for the tuition. Maybe I oughta start charging my clients for web hosting...hmmm...also most brilliant idea.
Also on today's commute, a couple of articles on Argentina and one on Venezuela. Argentina's economic situation is proving very interesting and will probably have far-reaching consequences to countries all over the planet currently indebted to the World Bank and the IMF. (Don't know yet. Have only read the 2002 article. I'm in so much suspense right now!) The Venezuela thing is actually the testimony of Mark Weisbrot (of CEPR) "On the State of Democracy in Venezuela." But the real reason I decided to print it out was <sarcasm> because I was deeply and profoundly intrigued by the name of the subcommittee he was testifying to: "Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps, and Narcotics Affairs". The PeaceCorps guys are trafficking drugs again, huh? </sarcasm> But I digress.
- Argentina's Crisis: The Costs and Consequences of Default to the International Financial Institutions
- Argentina's IMF Agreement: The Dawn of a New Era? | (Printer-friendly PDF over here)
- Testimony of Mark Weisbrot On the State of Democracy in Venezuela before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps, and Narcotics Affairs, June 24, 2004 [It's a PDF]
And finally, today's verse is:
Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Cousin Gavin posts pics from Brazil
My cousin is in Brazil (again) and set up this little blog to post some pics. Gavin's Webpage Muito bom, Gavin! (I think that means 'very good!' - I only knew how to say it, not spell it, so that's what babelfish spit out. =)
Found: Learning Movable Type Tutorials to Help Me and My Friends
Hey guys - found a very well organized and helpful site containing loads of help in learning movable type.
Here's a few that you might find helpful:
- Uploading Images and Photos
- What is Trackback
- Category Archive Pages and Displaying Categories
- Applying MT3 Style Templates to MT2.x (Shawn, you might want to read this one)
- Simple Changes to the Default MT3 Styles
Well, that should be enough for now. Happy learning!
July 13, 2004
Fuse Factory: Um. Wow.
To do: check the Fuse Factory. First glance? Looks *very* interesting and inspiring. Can't wait to give a better look this evening.
Hat tip: TallSkinnyKiwi
What is holiness?
Reading Richard Foster's Streams of Living Water has been a very encouraging, restful, and rejuvenating journey for my mind and my heart. I just finished the chapter on the "holiness tradition." What I found most interesting and enlightening about this chapter was the definition of holiness offered by Foster:
Holiness means the ability to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. It means being "response-able," able to respond appropriately to the demands of life. The word virtue (arete) comes into our New Testament from a long history in Greek philosophical tradition, and it means simply to function well. Virtue is good habits we can rely upon to make our life work. Conversely, vice is bad habits we can rely upon to make our life not work, to make it dysfunctional, as we say. So a holy life simply is a life that works.
Foster goes on to say how contrary this notion of holiness is to our popular idea of it. I couldn't agree more. I'll leave it to you to read about his reasons why this definition is so different from a more popular understanding (see page 83 in the hardcover 1st edition).
But, really, it's obvious. We see the word "holy" kicked around by a lot of people in a lot of different contexts. It'd be interesting to do an informal poll up at the Square to hear what people think that word means. I would be very surprised to hear anyone person define a "holy life" as a "life that functions well." (Although Foster's book was at the Central branch of the library...and the library is only a few blocks from the square...evenso...)
The word "holy" has gotten such a bad rap lately, I think. Especially during this particular time of war. (Holy war this, holy war that.) I think I can safely say that none of the battles of this war have "functioned well" (which begs the question, of course, 'what is a well functioning war' -- um, let's not go there.)
But personally, too, holiness seems like such an unattainable and even old fashioned thing to do. Something that might be attainable for some vague historical figure in a different denomination; because, honestly, did you ever hear of a holy evangelical conservative baptist? Didn't think so. Or maybe you (and I) did. But we just didn't think of their life as "holy."
If I understand and believe that a holy life is simply a life that works well and that holiness is a heart issue that deals with the very core of my personality and the very center of my being, then I am free from a legalistically giving in to actions, attitudes and beliefs that my culture/sub-culture as a collective would have me embrace with religious fervor (ironically enough).
In fact, this understanding frees me from any religious attempts (i.e. following rules and more rules) whatsoever in regard to God or the Bible. Understanding that holiness is a life that works well preserves my uniqueness and individual bond to the Father; it encourages me to remember that my entire being is laid bare to Him; there is nothing hidden from Him; so, neither can I attempt to hide the true state of my heart through any actions or words that may seem to myself or others as "holy" or "righteous."
To be holy isn't to do what everyone else thinks is right -- to somehow "righteously conform" to a set of rules and bylaws and ("Christian") cultural values, essentially coming before the Father as just another cut-out cookie on the baking sheet. No, to be holy goes much deeper than that, even to my very core and it strips away any presumption of righteousness outward action by itself would claim on the state of my soul.
In truth, as I learned from Foster, being holy is more about the striving than the accomplishing, the journey more than the cushy hotel suite at the end of the road.
So what am I striving for? A membership card to workaholics anonymous or an intimate knowledge of God? Right now the answer seems all too clear.
Thanks, Richard Foster for writing another challenging and inspiring book. And thanks Multnomah County Library for stocking it.
July 12, 2004
India: Police Probe Attacks on 'Untouchables'
"The Indian government should immediately launch a full investigation into allegations that police used excessive force against Dalits (or “untouchables”) who tried to participate in a religious ceremony in Tamil Nadu last week, Human Rights Watch said today."
Foreign-policy: The Other Other Battlefield
Secretary of State Colin Powell's diplomatic efforts with Sudan and North Korea have some wondering if Powell's actions are speaking loud and clear of a more effective approach to foreign policy than neocon war-mongering (a term that may be unduly unfair...maybe not.). Here's the article:
July 01, 2004
Irony Alert: Disney is Chief Corporate Evangelist for Civil Religion
Maybe you knew this already, but it was news to me. Civil religion has a corporate sponsor and it's none other than the guys who brought you "The Happiest Place On Earth": Disney.
I knew that Disney seems to pride itself on its uncanny ability to infuse nice thick gooey layers of contrived spirituality and "good feeling" to its various products and services, but what I didn't know was they were offering a bible study guide free with advanced ticket purchase!!! Read on:
In the new film, Disney says Schwartzberg has tried to capture "both the unparalleled beauty of the land and the incomparable spirit of the people".
Indeed, Disney is being anything but bashful about the spiritual aspects of the film. Telephone callers to its advance ticket sales office may order a free bible study guide designed to go with the film. [emphasis mine]
Now civil religion is a deeply rooted tradition in this country, fooling, I daresay, millions into believing that the United States of America is a Christian nation-state. Rubbish. The United States is no more a "Christian nation" than Disneyland a place free of petty larcenists who steal strollers from tourists whilst they meander around Tom Sawyer's Island on a steamboat!
But what really gets under my skin about civil religion is that its spokespersons and representatives target an audience of family-lovin', flag waving, parade-going, politically conservative Christians. Who cares? Well, this just happens to describe the vast majority of my extended family members as well as a large section of my local church. Though I do not always agree with them, these are people that I love.
I am furious that this feel-good message of the "American Spirit" be sold with a bible study to an audience of people who have done nothing more than despise the attitudes, opinions, and creative works of one Michael Moore. A group of people that are more than likely a most attentive audience to the speeches, soundbites, and feature length presentations of civil religion's most fiercest allies. And who are these allies? Presidents, presidential speechwriters, and now, a major corporate controller of the media whose primary audience are family-lovin', flag waving, parade-going, politically conservative Christians. Or at least people who say they are.
This news story is comparable in irony to the movie trailer for The Polar Express. The trailer tells a story of a little boy who hops a magic train to the North Pole and Santa Clause to discover the "true" spirit of Christmas (which apparently is in the form a sleigh bell) and (here's the kicker) all against a musical backdrop of a song featuring the word, "Hallelujah," sung jubiliantly by what sounds very much like a gospel choir. Mmm. Hallelujah. Santa Claus. Hallelujah. Christmas spirit. Huh? Now that's mixed up. But that's what civil religion is all about: mixing it up.
Hmmm. Somthing's amiss.