Thursday, May 29, 2008

the useless news

about a year ago we did a series in fusion called affluenza. as part of it, we made a short faux-newsreel called the useless news. it was awful...but the script was funny (see below).

USELESS NEWS: the disturbing facts about destructive business practices (like you care)

1. governor granholm has recently announced her $92 million savings plan for the state of michigan, terminating the employment of 500 prison guards thereby setting 5100 non-violent prisoners free. this is a new move in the line of disposable products offered by the state of michigan including: disposable razors, disposable diapers, and now disposable personal safety.

2. 50 million domestic animals were killed in the united states in 2006 including the possum which, according to michigan native BUBBA is the other white meat

3. according to a UN report the global warming outlook is much worse than they originally predicted...which is pretty bad when they originally predicted it would destroy the planet. president bush, though, has a plan. he says if we need to, we can lower the temperature dramatically just by switching from fahrenheit to celsius

experts, however, say that global warming is serious, and they are now predicting that by the year 2050 jackson will be out of party ice

flv to psp

i recently purchased a sony psp and have been stymied trying to find out how to put youtube videos (which are formatted as .flv files) onto my psp.

there are few tutorials on how to do this well...most involve buying software from some strange russian porn sites or nigerian piracy palaces...and none of them are reviewed well and/or claim to work all the time.

but i have found a simple way to make sure any .flv file works all of the time on any psp slim and i thought i'd share it.

1. download the firefox browser extension "download helper" and install it

2. go to youtube and load whichever video you want to download and click on the download helper icon...this will download the file as an .flv to your pc or mac

3. purchase quick time pro (which, imo, is the best file conversion software on the net) and open you .flv file in qt

4. export you .flv as an mpeg4, making sure the output resolution is 320x240

5. transfer the new mpeg4 file onto your psp and - viola! - you're in business


a. you can use a bunch of different web tools to download .flvs, but i prefer download helper because it works all the time

b. you have to have quick time pro to open .flv files

c. you have to have quick time pro to export

d. if you export at the default mpeg4 settings from quick time the file will not work on the psp - they have to be 320x240 (default is 368x25?)

e. when you load the mpeg4 onto your psp you will get 2 files in your video folder...the 1st will be a "corrupted data" file which you can safely erase; the second will be the actual, working mpeg4

feel free to ask any questions if you like...this sort of thing usually isn't my schtick, but i was so frustrated looking for a solution i thought i'd share my findings

btw - i am a holy man, so please don't ask any weird "how to" questions about "nefarious" web activity :)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

god - give me purpose

God –

I confess I have complained about this world,
About my life,
And about your seeming indifference to them both.

I have drifted through my days
Giving little care to why I’m alive or who I’m supposed to be in you.

But I feel your Spirit convicting me of my aimlessness.
I feel like you are now energizing me with clarity
On these big issues.

And though the task is too great for me to change the world
And though my task to affect my own world, too, seems equally impossible
I feel confident in you that I should try.

Even though I will fail
I feel empowered to try
And try
And try
To stand against evil
To celebrate goodness wherever it is found
To honor and authenticate your image in others
And in myself
And – in whatever small ways are possible – to set this world to rights.

I ask for the strength to keep believing that I’m worth something.
I ask for the innocence to keep living like it makes a difference.
I ask for mercy, to demonstrate your concern to this world.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

city of blinding lights

i'm home for a conference right now, staying in the hyatt in downtown vancouver.

it's just like it should be: miserably rainy, overcast, and cool.
just like i remember it
just like everyone who's not from vancouver is disappointed to discover

i spent some time with my great friends last night
laughing and talking about everything from film to crime to theatre to video games and jesus
first at a coffee shop, then at the cactus club, then at red robin for desert

how fun!

it's an amazing privilege to be here and i take it as a gift from god that i was able to work out my schedule to come.

carmel and the kids join me friday and we spend the weekend with mom and dad before heading south to seattle for a family reunion.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

jesus, make me free

God –

I have been a kind of slave for too long.

Whether willingly or accidentally,
I have been made a hostage to my own desires,
My own selfishness,
And my own deterioration.

I cannot escape on my own,
But I want to be free.

Please release me
From the bonds of my addictions,
From the chains of my sin,
And from the cell of my thoughts.

Instead of being bound by evil
I willingly bind myself to you.

I would call you Master
And make myself your slave;
But you have called me friend instead,
So I wholeheartedly accept your friendship
And the freedom you have offered with it.

Help me to live free
And never to wander back into the place of imprisonment again.


more on monsters


i almost forget

the whole reason i started writing about monsters is because of the stories included in this current fusion series "images of atonement"

to help my son "get" all of the different ways that jesus makes us right with god i've written stories.

some of these are the harmatore (which we'll tell in fusion today).

some parents get a little jittery when we create a monster story to illustrate atonement theology. i get why this is, but i'm still trading on the len-sweet-spiderwick-don't-insulate-your-kids-from-monsters philosophy (which, if you recall, is turning out very well so far).

the harmatore has become jake's favorite story, and - perhaps better than anything "smart" and or "big-peopley" - helps him understand the triumph of jesus christ over the powers of evil and the freedom that triumphs makes available to us all.

monsters for children

one of the most provocative things len sweet has said to me is that we rob our children of monsters.

the natural reaction of most parents is to protect our children from anything scary; but, according to len, whenever we remove anything scary we also remove any opportunity for heroism, bravery, courage, or nobility.

that's not to say that we should scare the crap out of kids for jesus, just that we too often take it to the other extreme and try and insulate them from any emotion other than snuggly-kootchie.

taking his advice, i've begun reading more broadly to jake at night. we used to just read thomas or bob the builder, but now we read the spiderwick chronicles. for many parents this is WAAAAYY too much for a young guy to handle, but jake and i take our time and talk through all the bothersome bits.

as a result, he has the best theology: jesus keeps the monsters away

monsters (and evil) exist
and the threat of their presence is real
but great still than any monster (or any evil) is the real presence of jesus christ living in our hearts

how cool is that?

my kid lives from the center of christus victor (if only it were as easy for his old man)

it's cool, too, that it has changed our reading of the scriptures.

we used to read the kids' bibles you can get at your local christian bookseller.

now we're reading an illustrated copy of the message. it's the actual message text (for adults), but illustrated with cool pics for little dudes.

what's fascinating is how differently we read scripture now. the actual biblical text is so much more raw and scary than the kids' bibles (take, for example, the story of can guess how different that is) that i don't think jake could've coped with it apart from our prep with spiderwick.


spiderwick as a pre-scriptural primer.

who'd've thunk it!

forgot to say thanks

it's been a long time since my last vacation; though, thankfully, i'm about to take 5 weeks off in july with my family.

anyway - when it's been a while since you've had a break, you tend to get a little raw. things that don't bother you, bother you. things that don't normally hurt or frustrate you do both which further hurts you (because you realize you're wimpy) and frustrate you (because you thought you were better at being a person than you really were).

so, i've been going through that for a few months now. i'm tired and am not at my best.

however, in the midst of this god has been remarkably cool and i wanted to take this quick opportunity to say thanks to him via blog (though, yes, i do this often through "real" prayer as well :)

first, for the wonderful moments of encouragement that have come my way through the many good and godly people of westwinds. no one writes a thoughtful note or leaves a loving voice mail unless god first motivates them to do so. so, thanks to those people and also thanks to god for working in them.

second, for craig playford who sneaks me away golfing some friday mornings. it always feels like - when i'm at my wits end - craig is there for me to laugh at my mulligan-fetish and let me just be normal. i thank god for him too.

third, for great friends in ministry like our staff at ww and my friends abroad. it's cool to know you're not alone.

fourth, for little material blessings like my mac, 2 running cars, some great books, and the pleasure of watching my son play with speed racer.

and fifth, for times of real comfort and peace in prayer. sometimes, when i've been praying lately, it's felt like a massage.

anyways, again, i just wanted to stop and say a quick blog-prayer-thanks to the hefe of hefes.

Friday, May 9, 2008

10 yr. anniversary today!!

congrats to carmel for sticking it out a decade with yours truly. anyone who knows me knows what a truly remarkable woman she must be.

thanks, babe - they've been the best years of my life and i consider myself the happiest/luckiest/star-struckiest guy on the planet.

all my love is with you forever


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

response to "why can't i own a canadian?"

ok – i've already written this up once, had it glitch out, and am now going to retype this post (with considerably less enthusiasm)

here's a couple things that jim leaves out of his understanding (in bullet form)

1. you can't interpret the bible the same way throughout. it's not 1 book. it's 66 books, written by almost 1000 authors over 1800+ years in 10+ different countries. neither is it 1 genre. it's poetry, prose, narrative, legislative, historical, personal epistolary, and biographical (and then some) in different spots. SO, just because 1 piece of the bible is taken literally doesn't mean that everything should be taken literally

2. things that are specifically cultural are not meant to be observed in a different culture; so the levites and the nazarenes, the proselytes and the kinsman all had different micro-cultures with different rules that the others were not required to live by. consider also that the greeks and romans in the second testament were not required to live by the ancient cultural practices of devout jews. cultural things are not meant to be translated across culture. some things the bible says we should (or should not) do do not apply to us in our world because those things are cultural, not moral or ethical.

3. those things, however, which appear as either do's or don'ts across cultures/authors/times transcend culture and are always binding to christians. homosexuality, for example, is always regarded as sinful activity in scripture.

4. the one caveat to this, however, is to note the movement of scripture along particular issues. so, for example, some people read some of paul's writings and think he is advocating slavery. this is not true. paul lived in a time in history where slavery was an unquestioned fact of life. it wasn't seen as a violation of human rights, it was simply the way the world worked. a comparable modern-equivalent to slavery would be electricity. for the ancients, slavery was the engine that made the world go-round. paul's writings should not be understood as advocacy of slavery, merely as citizen of a world where no one had yet taken issue with it; however, paul's writings always denoted the movement upwards from oppression and enslavement to liberty and dignity. so, since the writing of the second testament paul's writings have been used more than any other set of writings ever written to effect the end of slavery in rome, greece, western europe and – much later – great britain and the usa.

taken together, hopefully, we can see why jim's logic doesn't really hold in matters of biblical interpretation.

to be fair, these things probably need waaay more explanation, but this'll have to do for now.

for more info, see gordon fee's book “how to read the bible for all its worth”

why can't i own a canadian (explanation to follow)

Why Can't I Own a Canadian?

October 2002

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a east coast resident, which was posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted fan,


i'm with jvo at a web 2.0 seminar in nashville, which raises some funny issues for me about life and ministry and the movement of god within.

one of the big ones? i still don't feel like i can be totally honest on a blog...just like i don't feel like i can be totally honest with most people.

by honest, btw, i don't mean i'm deceitful...just that i keep much of my thinking to myself. i try and keep my opinions to myself (by and large) because i'm naturally a contrarian, a deconstructionist, and an iconoclast.

most people, however, don't have the appropriate framework for understanding the ideologically desctructive fervor of their pastor; and, often, my thoughts end up being hurtful to people when i share them, rather than purely purifying in the realm of ideas, philosophies, theologies, and community dynamics.

anyways...i'm blogging my reservations about blogging while at a seminar about blogging so that i don't fully engage the material on blogging with which i wrestle philosophically (though, for now, i'll keep some of those thoughts to myself).