Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A little more on politics and religion

I'm reading The Gospel According to America by David Dark. Mike Rowell lent it to me, as he is a most excellent fellow. My previous exposure to David Dark was his book Everyday Apocalypse, which discussed the beautiful and revelatory in pop culture. Two thumbs up from me. Anyways, Dark's definition of "apocalypse" is that of revelation. In this context, he asserts that the Church is to be revelatory, questioning the assumptions and power claims of the existing world systems. Profound thinking. In this newest book, Dark is wrestling with being a Christian in America. The problem that Dark points out is that America believes its press releases and has established itself as a de facto religion. What is worse is that the Church has reinforced these opinions, rather than debunking them through the application of the prophetic word. As Dark says, "When the church is the blind, uncritical endorser or 'spiritual' chaplain of whatever the nation decides to do, it has largely renounced its vocation as the body of Christ. It is neither the salt of the earth nor a light to the nations. And it has traded its worship of a crucified Jew for a devastatingly tribal idolatry." Peter Leithart points out that partaking of communion is proclaiming the death of one who died as a political dissident. Crucifixion was the punishment for political rebellion. As we are called to take up our crosses and go to Him outside the camp, we must be prepared to see the political ramifications of this call. In contrast, I just finished rereading the original Dune trilogy. Funny how books change when you get older, eh? Frank Herbert knew a thing or two about how the powerful wield their power, and one aspect that he constantly points up is the corruption of religion to support specific political ends. To the powerful, religion is just another tool to control the masses. And it makes me wonder if we as Christians are sufficiently discerning and suspicious of the religious claims of the powerful. Are we playing our prophetic role? Or are we just dupes of the powerful, bound to them by chains of superstition and religion? (A previous article on this topic can be found here.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Wal-Mart report for 8/30/2005

(The previous report is here.)
this is an audio post - click to play
After recording this report, I realized that I had indeed been to Wal-Mart recently to purchase some shelving. When I went to the front desk to pick up the shelves, I was joking with the clerk, asking her if she was going to buy it for me. Her response was telling: "I work for Wal-Mart; I can't afford that." Ha ha only serious. (The next report is here.)

Friday, August 19, 2005

Hitherby Dragons: In His Teeth

Hamburgler struggles to save the world from alien invasion. No, I'm not making this up.

Pictures of Justice

So, I had a dilemma. I have steadfastly avoided putting pictures on this blog. After all, this is a blog about words, not pictures. At the same time, I really want to share pictures of my new son. So, my compromise: text hyperlinks to pictures of Justice. Perhaps it's hair-splitting. Perhaps you don't care. But, be that as it may, here they are. Picture One Picture Two Both of these were taken mere minutes post-delivery. Doubtless more will be forthcoming as we take them. Right now, though, he is sleeping, and I intend to let sleeping babies lie.

It's a boy!

On August 19 at 12:33 a.m., Justice Daniel Ben-Ezra was born. Mother and baby are both well. More details later. EDIT: It's later! 8 pounds, 12 ounces and 21 inches long. Mother and baby are still well. I am tired.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Baby Level Yellow

We're still here. Crystal's labor has slowed down quite a bit, and the midwives have gone home for now. That being said, Crystal's labor has not stopped, so we know that her body is still moving things forward. Please be praying for Crystal. She is very tired and frustrated. Pray that she would continue to trust Jesus' good care for her, and pray that she would soon be able to hold her child.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Baby Level Red Redux

The midwives have been summoned again. Things seem to be progressing again.

Baby Level Orange

Well, things seem to have slowed down, so the midwives are leaving for now. Of course, Crystal's contractions picked up almost as soon as they walked out the door. Biology. Grr. I think that it's part of God's way of keeping us humble or something. Why these babies don't come with a digital display showing "Time Left Until Birth" is beyond me.

Baby Level Red

Guess what, people? We're at Baby Level Red! Further news to come.

Baby Level Orange

Recently, I've been ranting about Homeland Security. Some of it has been in my head, and some of it has been in other people's direction. I don't have time for the long version, but the short version is this: emotionally, I feel like Homeland Security=Nightwatch. Somewhat unfair, I know, and I don't have any better solutions right now, but there it is. So, given my perverse sense of humor, as we have entered the last couple of weeks of Crystal's pregnancy, I've decided to use the Homeland Security threat level scale (Green, Blue, Yellow, Orange, Red) to rate our labor probability. So, Green would be no activity, while Red would be "the midwife is coming". Sometimes, it's better to laugh at your problems then gripe about them. All of this to say: currently, we are at Baby Level Orange. Stay tuned.

What people are saying about Legends of Alyria

"This is very neat experiment in presentation, and has rather dramatically increased the likelihood that I'm going to run it."--Neel Krishnaswami, 20' by 20' Room "If more RPG creators would give in to their laziness, I think both the RPG industry and the RPG hobby would be in better shape."--Mike Sugarbaker,

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A little bit more about Babylon 5

I was talking a bit about Babylon 5 last night, comparing it to Firefly, another favorite SF show of mine, and I think that I've figured out part of what appeals to me about Babylon 5. In Firefly, the characters are all rogues, on the run from the law. In Babylon 5, the focal human characters are members of Earth's military. This affects the issues being addressed and, more importantly, the way in which they are addressed. Firefly could be best summed up using Bob Dylan's quote: "To live outside the law, you must be honest." Mal Reynolds has no allegiance to anyone or anything outside the crew on his ship; everything else has been taken away from him. "Just keep flying" is his motto. As a result, the show focuses on the interactions of his crew, which has become his "family". Babylon 5, on the other hand, is about living honorably in dishonorable times. Captain Sheridan has duties and commitments placed on his: his duty to the station, to the military, to the protection of Earth , and to the preservation of peace. Much of the show has been watching him wrestle with the conflicts between these duties, as his duty to protect Earth has brought him into conflict with the government of Earth. How does one live honorably when surrounded by dishonorable enemies? For example, in the last episode that we watched, Sheridan is in an unmarked warship, performing a secret raid into Earth space to destroy a captured Shadow vessel. He is successful in this endeavor, but then an Earth battleship arrives to secure the area. In fact, it is the battleship that he once commanded. Sheridan is still a member of the Earth military, and his sense of honor refuses to allow him to fire upon one of his own ships, even though they are firing at him. Mal (from Firefly) wouldn't have this sort of concern; his allegiance doesn't extend past his own ship. I am not a member of the military; however, I am the citizen of a nation that is rapidly becoming an enemy of the God that I love. As a result, I find that I and my family are increasingly at risk, simply by continuing to practice our beliefs. I love my country, and I desire no conflict with my government. All I want is to live at peace with those around me by being a good citizen and productive member of society. But I fear that my circumstances will not allow this. Stories teach us things, and as I watch Captain Sheridan wrestle with his circumstances, I hope that perhaps I can learn for my own.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Babylon 5

The Babylon Project was our last, best hope for peace. It failed. But, in the Year of the Shadow War, it became something greater: our last, best hope... for victory. The year is 2260. The place: Babylon 5. So, here we are, halfway through Season Three, and can I say that this is one of the best television series that I have ever seen? There's a certain poignancy to it. The overarching story of Babylon 5 is of a world lurching towards war, so, from one perspective, as the Season Three intro explains, it is the story of a noble attempt that fails. The Babylon stations were supposed to be diplomatic stations, dedicated to the peaceful solving of interstellar problems. But that is not to be. By this point in the story, we have already seen the outbreak of a destructive war that resulted in the orbital bombardment and near annihilation of the homeworld of one of the warring races. And worse is to come. And, on the homefront, ruthless men have seized power on Earth and are extending their control through the Nightwatch, a organization of snitches and Thought Police. But, at the same time, it is a show that has made me think. At the end of Season Two, we hear one of the characters muse:
It was the end of the year 2259 and the war was upon us. As anticipated, a few days after the Earth-Centauri treaty was announced, the Centauri widened their war to include many of the Non-Aligned Worlds. And there was another war brewing closer to home. A personal one, whose cost would be higher than any of us could imagine. We came to this place, because Babylon 5 was our last, best hope for peace. By the end of 2259, we knew that it had failed. But in so doing it became something greater. As the war expanded, it became our last, best hope for victory, because sometimes peace is another word for surrender, and because secrets have a way of getting out.
"Sometimes peace is another word for surrender." As I look around at the world I live in, a world where I wish that I could just be left alone to live in peace, I ponder these words, and I wonder what the future will hold for me.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Answer to "Guess the quote!"

The answer to "Guess The Quote": Brian McLaren The entire article is well worth the read.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Guess the quote!

Who said this: “Why do we who claim to be biblical talk so much about accepting Christ as personal savior, which is not really biblical language – and so little about the kingdom of God is at hand, which is at the core of Jesus’ message in the Bible?” I'll post the answer...later.

Doug Phillips on the Mayans

Apparently, Doug Phillips is visiting Chichén Itzá, a major Mayan city. For his commentary and for pictures, visit these links: Beall Summits Chichén Itzá Athletics as Worship Ritual A Culture Worthy of Annihilation This last article was particularly insightful:
As Americans venture into our own world of twenty-first century bio-ethical horrors (raising tiny babies for stem cell experimentation, cloning for body harvesting, vivisecting our own children through abortion to appease the gods of convenience, using the body parts of aborted children for cosmetics and medicines, etc.), we would be well served to remember that advanced technology, civilization, and bloody savagery can dwell side-by-side. They can feed off of each other.

Chesterton on Terrorism

"Why on earth do the newspapers, in describing a dynamite outrage or any other political assassination, call it a 'dastardly outrage' or a cowardly outrage? It is perfectly evident that it is not dastardly in the least. It is perfectly evident that it is about as cowardly as the Christians going to the lions. The man who does it exposes himself to the chance of being torn in pieces by two thousand people. What the thing is, is not cowardly, but profoundly and detestably wicked. The man who does it is very infamous and very brave. But, again, the explanation is that our modern Press would rather appeal to physical arrogance, or to anything, rather than appeal to right and wrong."--G.K. Chesterton, All Things Considered

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


For my birthday, the Lansberrys gave me a couple of books. One of them was a book of Japanese death poems. It seemed like the perfect fit, and I think that they were right. I learned to love art and poetry from the Japanese. One aspect in particular is their love of the transient. Poems about cherry blossoms are so numerous that they are nearly cliché. However, it makes sense in this context. After all, cherry trees only blossom once a year, and they last for only a week. The Japanese understand the beauty of transience. It doesn't last, but it's all the more beautiful because it doesn't last. We don't get this in the West. For some reason, we have this desire to fix things in time, to preserve that which is fading. A person sees a beautiful sunset or a towering thunderhead and immediately thinks, "I wish that I had a camera." I wonder if it's because we are afraid of death. We don't like to think about things passing away. But Creation is filled with the transient. Sunsets, the passing of the seasons, clouds, snowflakes, a single cresting wave...all these things pass away, yet they are beautiful in their time. But, the oddness of God is that the transient repeats itself. The leaves flame with color and fall to the ground, but they return next year to do it again. A single wave breaks upon the shore, but it is followed by others. And it's also the oddness of God that the permanent passes away. The mountains wear away. Nations fall. The sea evaporates. The transient is forever, and the permanent is transient. What a strange world this is.

Doug's Blog: Honorably Leaving a Church

Doug's Blog: Honorably Leaving a Church What he said. (I love having my own blog. I can make "me, too" posts and everyone else just has to deal with it!)


Backwater Report � Al Mohler on the Morality of Nukes Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks that our use of nukes in World War II was reprehensible.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Andrew Peterson: The Far Country

Apparently, Andrew Peterson has a new album on the way, entitled The Far Country. This man is a great lyricist, in the tradition of Rich Mullins, and is worthy of your support. There are some samples of his work on this page. The Far Country cover art

Last night, I dreamed a dream

Last night I had a dream that I died. Actually, it's a little more complicated than that. I knew that I was going to die. A couple of my friends were with me and, even though they were still walking around, their skin was terribly cold and clammy, like Mom's was when I touched her in her casket. They were dead but still walking around, and I knew that I was also dead. The graves were already dug outside, so we were going to go outside and lie down in our graves and be buried. So I said good-bye to my wife and hugged her. Strangely, I felt myself and I wasn't cold. My body was still warm. That seemed odd, but I knew that I really was dead. Doubtless I would start to cool in a few minutes. So I went outside and looked at my grave. I didn't want to lie down in my final bed. I would be alone and I was scared to leave. And I was still warm. I was sure that my body should be cooling by this time, but I wasn't. And then it hit me. I didn't have to be dead! There was another way. Somehow. Somewhere. I should have been dead, but I wasn't. I was still alive, and I didn't have to enter my grave. And then I woke up. My wife lay beside me, still warm and breathing, and I was still alive. So I wiped the tears from my face and curled next to her. I'm still alive.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Philosophy, the Foe of Christianity

Baylyblog: Out of our minds, too: Philosophy, the Foe of Christianity Starring an extended quote from Martin Lloyd-Jones. Here are his final remarks: "The sum of all I am saying is that the evangelical distrusts scholarship and is watchful of it. That does not mean that he is anti-intellectual; it does not mean that he becomes obscurantist; but it does mean that he keeps reason and scholarship in their place. They are servants and not masters."


For all the IT professionals out there, my brothers-in-arms: "Like virtually all of the software projects we've been involved with, clients never seem to know exactly what they want - until they don't get it."—William Vaughn

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Wal-Mart Report for August 4, 2005

(The previous report is here.) Pretty much a non-report, but boy it's fun recording my voice!
this is an audio post - click to play
(The next report is here.)

In A Dark And Quiet Room (Part 7)

(The previous installment can be found here.) I sit up and sigh. I place the quill back in its inkwell. The book is finished. I blow on the last drop of ink, waiting for it to dry before closing the book. On its cover are a dragon and unicorn, entertwined. Below them, etched in gold, is a title. Legends of Alyria. I smile. I know that it's only an imaginary book, but sometimes, just sometimes, dreams push through into reality. Perhaps there may still be time for this one.

Hitherby Dragons: Hard and Cold

Hitherby Dragons: Hard and Cold It's like Memento. Only different.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Duct Tape: It really does fix anything

Astronaut ready for historic fix to shuttle
A hacksaw. Some duct tape. Scissors. A little Velcro. And a lot of luck. Weekend handymen would feel right at home with the tools that space-shuttle astronaut Stephen Robinson has on hand for this morning's chores.
I understand that the duct tape ultimately wasn't necessary. But still, it was far too good a story to pass up.

Leithart on Chesterton on Domesticity | Domesticity I don't care if he was a papist. This is wisdom: "How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute."

The Blind and the Lame

I came across this verse during my devotions today.
And the blind and the lame came to Him [Jesus] in the temple, and He healed them. (Matthew 21:14)
Seems like a good picture of the Church to me. But do we really believe it to be true? Or will Jesus say to us:
Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you. (Matthew 21:31b)
Those who believe they are well are doomed, but the sick will be saved.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A Casualty in My Own War -

A Casualty in My Own War - Because good things can come from Christianity Today. Really.

Church Marketing Sucks: Why We Use ‘Sucks’

Crystal came across this article while perusing the Internet: Church Marketing Sucks: Why We Use ‘Sucks’ In light of the recent furor about some of my word choices, I thought that I'd expose all of you to this. A quote from the article:
Many recall a familiar message by Tony Campolo where he uses the four-letter “s” word. Iterations exist all over the place (including the Internet), but the context goes something like “[This many] children have died of hunger today and you don't give a s--t! In fact, you are more concerned with the fact that I said ‘s--t' than [this many] children died of hunger."
And don't even get me started about Philippians 3:8 and Paul's use of the word skubalon....

Pastor Henninger's Daily Devotional

For the last year, my pastor has been emailing a short daily devotional. We have just begun to archive them at this site. Just in case any of you wanted to know.