Saturday, November 29, 2008

Where's the Thanks?

A recently-ended siege in India ends after over 170 civilians die. A post-election riot in Nigeria kills over three hundred. A temporary Wal-Mart worker gets trampled to death underneath a shopping mob right here in the US of A. And the economy is in the tank pretty much everywhere. What is there to be thankful for?

Seriously, count your blessings:

Jesus (beautiful, wonderful, majestic, love, self-sacrificing, teaches me how to be the image of God, how to be a father, how much God loves me)
God the Father (one with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, righteous judge, everlasting love / wisdom / shalom / justice, sanctified and sanctifying, the Father from whom all other fathers derive their name)
God the Holy Spirit (one with God the Father and Jesus, peace, comfort, guides into all truth)
Wife (generous, considerate, activist, Jesus-loving, green and gorgeous-eyed, wide-smiling, funny)
Daughter (joyous, inconsolably cute, attentive, curious... did I mention really, really cute?)
Extended family (three of them! that's three times the fun!)
Affordable rent
Available internet
Clothes, lots of clothes especially for the baby. So many clothes that we trip over them in our room.
Flavored creamer
Steady, free, clean, delicious water
Plenty of food (this may go into negative pile, too)
BubbleLand, (decent) Bank, and Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins right across the street
Wonderful friends (from current and past churches, in community, friends of family, friends of friends,
Facebook (which allows us to keep in contact with friends and family)
The funny
Classic Al Green; and neo-classic Al Green
Readily available public transportation (we live not far from downtown; we live a block away from a train station, we live off three major arteries - Fullerton, Milwaukee and Western) and now, thanks to our friend Roland, we have use of a car (and we live a mile from a major interstate)
Living in the Golden Age of Comic-Book-to-Movie adaptations
A working, cozy kitchen
The English language
My small group
The New York Times online
The kick-off of Nexus Foundation (more on that later)
Short, sweet, well-crafted one-liners
Turkey meats
Being paid for writing (hopefully, more of that later)
Being insured again
Wife's new full-time job
Finding free and affordable (but guilt-free) music, including long out-of-print albums I used to own (on cassette, of course)
Good health
"Let's Spend the Day in Bed" by Over the Rhine
Trip to Colombia this year
Our church
Available money
Drastically lowering debts
0% APR introductory rates for credit transfers (heck, anything lower than 24.99%) into our own bank
"Sentimental Heart" by She & Him
Obama as president (a black man as president. Someone who's actually been and worked with/for the poor in the White House. Yes, I'm excited)

What else?
I'll keep updating as I think of more. But, please, feel free to put a list of your own as well in the comments.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Weekend Links We Like to Link to - Thanksgiving Tradition

I should just call this blog "Links We Like to Link to," eh?

What is Thanksgiving if not tradition? Sometimes slightly altered tradition (this day, both my wife and I will be hosting our first T-day dinner. That's definitely a first). Stuffing (also, I remembered yesterday while serving at my church's homeless ministry, referred to as "dressing"), cranberry sauce, turkey, ham, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, family, fist-fights, parades, watching and playing football, prayers of thanks, Charlie Brown, psalms, turducken, little kids tables, etc. We also need to add to the list reading about Pilgrims (and Puritans) and, of course, flying turkeys.

Books & Culture's book of the week, reviewed by Abram van Engel, a student of the Puritans, is Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates (you may know her from "This American Life" and The Incredibles). She asks, what is worth redeeming from the Puritans' culture?

WKRP in Cincinatti classic, courtesy of Micah World.

Classic Christianity Today article about Puritans' love of music.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Weekend Links We Like to Link to - The Chicago Reader Edition

In a vain and fleeting hope of keeping this semi-thematic, here goes:
The Chicago Reader is a free weekly alternative press that's been fairly progressive and leftist since it was founded by some old hippies back in the day (I wanna say 60's, but it may have been well into the 70's). Due to what is happening to all print media and the ever-decreasing dollar amount for ad revenue being spread about between more media, it's not what it was even a year and a half ago (when they sold it... man), but it still has good reporting, a lot of history and enough generally to make some fuss about. For instance:

Obama! Love the man, love what he represents. And like a South Vietnamese hooker's promise*, been loving him a long time. And I know that The Reader was also optimistic about having him in the Oval Office, certainly over his rival - even if they weren't given to smitten-ness and blind optimism like Rolling Stone and, y'know, me. Certainly not the scary folks here, many of whom protested the cover to the left as being racist. Because, as you must know, no white elected official would ever be called to question at any point by anybody.

gees please louis.

Just to recap, during the week leading up to the election, the Reader had to decide in true Chicago newsie (Dewey / Truman?) fashion who should end up with their cartoon likeness with something snarky in the title. Obama was comfortably leading, so they decided to go with him. However, it may have come on some bad timing, as many people who did not necessarily support Obama for president were nevertheless extremely joyous that a man of color won the presidency. Also, images and soundbites travel faster than any sort of prevailing context. So to some people, they see a picture of a black man together with a title saying, "Hey, don't screw this up," they automatically assume the worse. All of a sudden, it's no longer about the fact that there's finally a Democrat in power, or a progressive, or even a minority and that the world is looking at him to see how he (representing them/us) navigates it all - but now it's about this expectation that a black man is supposed to take our blundering country to even worse depths than imaginable? If this were National Review, maybe I could see that...

Speaking of Obama and Chicago, Ben Joravsky makes the case that Barack will not be Mayor Daley's dummy in DC. In fact, Joravsky argues, Daley and Bush are like best of friends so Daley will need to get in line this time around a definite step-down.

And speaking of zealots who lose people to their cause, here is a letter sent to Cecil Jones at "The Straight Dope" column:

Dear Cecil:

I was shocked by your highly ignorant column on "when life begins" (can't find article). You have a very conservative approach, and a misogynistic one at that. I appreciate your attempt at explaining brain waves. But what your article lacked was a woman's right to her body, and you had an even more disturbing view on rape. Apparently, you need to take a woman's course or ethics course. You included research on a boy's soul being present at 40 days, and a girl's at 80 days, but you failed to acknowledge how sexist that view is. Furthermore, you genderized your "child" at the end as a "he." True, "he" is one of us, but are you responsible for raising him? A woman's body is her own …

If the child was a mistake, it is up to the woman to decide if she wants to keep him/her. Men have used the power of impregnation over women for too long. Too many men do not understand how much work and money it takes to raise children (the same goes for some women). A woman's right to choose is her ticket to sexual freedom. A man's version of when "life" supposedly begins is HIS DEFINITION OF POWER OVER HER. A man does not know and will never be able to understand what having a child is like.

Silly male monkey, tricks are for kids.

Cecil replies:

Nothing personal, arcane_eye, but you're one of the reasons we got stuck with eight years of George Bush.

While I'm sure you're a splendid human being in person, in your letter you come across as a self-centered ninny, and you make the kinds of arguments that drive the religious right to new heights of zeal.
Read the whole response here.

FWIW, I'm not sure if I would qualify myself as part of the religious right, but she drove me up the wall. Fortunately, Adams answer drove a middle ground that I think more people should seek, at least in terms of policy. (I do consider myself pro-life. But for me and friends like me that means more concentration on ending extreme poverty, war, injustice, domestic abuse, etc. then it does trying to make abortions illegal.)

*From what I've heard. In Platoon.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ready for our close-up, baby!

First ever YouTube video. I may or may not take it down soon. In fact, you may never, ever hear from me again, depending on how my wife feels after finding out I uploaded this little ditty. (And yes, I always have hated the song in the background.) Anyway, I think all the hot chicks in this video are smookin'!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Weekly Links We Like to Link to: the Mostly Religious Edition

Roger Ebert on the happy occasions of when religions correct their more hateful and fear-inducing trends.

Speaking of religion, if your blasphemy meters register at a low level, you might not wanna click here, but for everyone else who thought that superheroes (particularly Spider-Man) could've done some major help in the Bible, there's this. (h/t to Wasp Jerky Kevin via FB)

Seth Godin wrote a prescient piece on the power of the organized. (It wasn't all about the economy, y'know.)

And, lastly, Jesus Creed-er John Frye does the woman at the well with a Fundie Jesus (Startled, Jesus said, “How is it that you, a Samaritan, ask me, a Jew, for a drink?”), an Emergent-Talking Jesus (A Samaritan woman-”the other to the second power”-approached the community’s gathering space, carrying the symbol of her status in a harsh patriarchal culture.), an Oprah Jesus (Today’s show will feature a Samaritan woman whose story you just have to hear. Her’s is a story of heartbreak and shame, of isolation and pending hopelessness. I’ve invited her to come and tell us some of her story.), and a Sopranos Jesus:

Jesus: Whattaya mean you ain’t got no man? You got a man. Oh, yeah, you gotta man. You’ve had Vinnie, Rocco, Stephany, Michael, and Bracco. And now you livin’ with Tony. Am I right?

Woman (shocked): How’d ya know?! You got some snitch in town? You got no right to go snoopin’ ’round in my life.

h/t to Scot McKnight

God in our own image indeed.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Weekly Links We Like to Link to: Election Day

One of the biggest, ahem, distortions of the McCain campaign that's ticked me off (but in a laughable sense) is that Obama is a socialist or that his policies are socialist. McCain knows that that isn't true in the least, but that hasn't stopped him and his campaign from attacking him as such - even though his running mate strictly "shared the wealth." It's just a stupid call, it's distortive, it's divisive, it's a bastardization of truth and of the work of governance. Let's just cut to the chase, eh?

Eugene Cho lets us know who he's voting for, without directly saying it. And I love this car:

Millenials, I don't know what to say... I was born at the tail end of the "Gen X" era, so it's not like I'm all that separated from this generation, but I can't help but feel that they are the most coddled and spoiled one ever. But then I have to consider that we are both products of the most divisive generation ever. Boomers were the first generation to not just defy their parents (who hasn't), but to openly and disrespectfully do so. Ayers was part of a generational seismic shift and merely spoke for his confused times when he said, "Kill all parents." Millenials are like the youngest children from that generation, and like most youngest children, they see more primarily than the others the hypocrisy of their parents, who ask us to trust them now that they've well broached the age of 35 and have left us all with massive debt (that we're still adding to) while burning resources at premium rates.
Hopefully, that wasn't just a rant (that too, of course) but may give some perspective to this:

"Gen Y" or "The Millennials" Gets Wake-up Call with Economic Crisis- ...and Have Little Faith Either Presidential Candidate can Halt the Economic Meltdown

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Weekend Links We Like to Link to: The All Videos Edition

Author and Native Sherman Alexie on Stephen Colbert. One of the best non-enlightening interviews (well, maybe indirectly enlightening. I wonder how few Americans are aware of the smallpox-soaked blankets distributed during the Trail of Tears) I've seen/read in a long time:

View here if not working.

And, in the interest of non-partisanship and equal time to the other side, The Daily Show. Here they are with a brilliant, although quite late, send-up of the really insipid attacks that certain Republicans and rabid anti-Obamaites have made against community organizers:

click here if not working.

Jared Diamond of the intriguing Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse books (about the rises of certain civilizations over others, and the fall of others) on sustainability here (sorry, can't figure out how to embed player). For smaller version, and more context, go here. Note: I haven't read Collapse so I'm not sure myself how he would define the collapse of civilization (as he does early on in referencing Bosnia and Rwanda), but my guess is that it may have something to do with genocide. The fall of the civilization, however, according to him, is not nearly the same as the extinction of its people - yet he refers to one people group that did die out and five points that lead to such extinction. So, I'm also curious how he feels Colombia is near this fall.
It's just something that I'm thinking about doing an article on...

And finally, elections are two days away. Everybody knows who I'm gonna vote for. As for you, you can vote however you like.

Make no doubt about it, these middle school kids know their stuff better than most adults (especially those who aren't voting). This cat has the lyrics.