Monday, December 29, 2008

Homeward Bound

A week in Arizona has come to an end. In all my travels, I have still yet to see something so brilliant as a mediocre sunset over the Phoenix sky.

It has been a trip of reflection and reunion. I have struggled in my heart with what it means to go "down the slope of repentance and up the slope of faith." I have played a crapload of Settlers of Catan (with the Cities and Knights expansion.) And now, a Southwest Airlines jet is about to carry me back to what is now home, Louisville, Kentucky. "Every stranger's face I see reminds me that I long to be..."


Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Christmas Story: Revelation 12

And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

Now ware arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Stan, the deceiver of the whole world - he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown them, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!"

And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I've returned to the state that formed so much of my identity for so long, the great state of Arizona. It was only just recently that I became a legal resident of the Commonwealth, but the ties to here have been severed for some time now. My parents live here, my paternal relatives live here, many friends from high school are still here. Regardless, I've swapped sagebrush for bluegrass and I'm not turning back. I wish I could articulate my feelings about change, growth, and as my friend Michael Morgan put it, "experimenting with adulthood."

Tomorrow (by Arizona time) is Christmas Eve and provided it doesn't snow more, I will attend my parent's church Christmas Eve service, a service I've gone to for years and years and years. I will be reminded about how much things of change and how much some things haven't, but moreover, I want to be reminded of Jesus Christ and his Gospel.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

'Nuff Said

Wolverine movie! With Gambit! And the Civil War! Big explosions! Loud noises!

I don't know what we're yelling about!

Where Everybody Knows Your Name...

The Irish trifecta that is O'Shea's/Flanigan's/Brendan's was so generous as to donate 100% of their proceeds to Nadus Films, a non profit that a few brother/sister Sojourners spearhead. They're finishing up a top-flight documentary called The New Sudan, but beyond raising awareness of the needs, they're helping to meet them. You can find out more here.

Burger for lunch, fish and chips for dinner, change in Sudan. How awesome is our God?

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I saw my favorite stand up comedian tonight, that being Jim Gaffigan. He was amazing and I can't even begin to describe how genius his comedy is. I didn't stop laughing the entire evening - the only question was the intensity of the laughter.

He ended the night with his signature bit, regarding "Hot Pockets." I leave you with the skit, this version from his "Beyond the Pale" tour. Watch it friends, and laugh.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

It Won't Be Like This In Heaven

I've been getting sick a lot lately. Constant sinus infections and a bout with bronchitis, mostly, but for the second time since Thanksgiving, I'm fighting off (almost debilitating) stomach cramps. I went to the doctor yesterday and I have a course of treatment laid out. Still, it's frustrating not being able to do the work that is rapidly pile up around the office or invest into my beloved community of friends. I've been taking Tylenol in hopes of staving off the pain while the prescription does its work.

The first time this came on, I was on the tail end of that initial bout and was able to gather to worship with my Sojourn brothers and sisters. As I was walking towards the doors of the 930, I met a dear brother, Matt Harner. I told him the quick version of the story, and his first words of response hit me like a wave of comfort and hope.

"It won't be like this in heaven."

My perspective falls so short so often. The pain's been worse this time around but Matt's words have again reminded me of my ultimate hope, and the Christ who puts all of this into perspective.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

"Lifeline": A review of "Slumdog Millionaire," (2008, dir. by Danny Boyle, co-dir. by Loveleen Tandan)

"Who wants to be a millionaire?" I was a (poor) kid living in not-too-small-town South Carolina when I first heard that question asked. Like the rest of America, my family and I enthusiastically watched night after night as ordinary Joes like ourselves sat down in the hot seat, answering questions we could answer, winning money we would never have. I don't remember being envious, though. I remember the excitement of the next question, hanging on every pause, holding my breath when Regis asked "Is that your final answer?"

Jamal Malik is in the hot seat in Mumbai (nee Bombay). An orphan from the slums of Mumbai, Jamal , now sits one question away from 20 million rupees. The show runs out of time for the night, but rather than being spirited off to a studio hotel room, Jamal is thrown to the police for "interrogation." How could a former "slumdog" who now serves chai to telemarketers at those infamous Indian phone banks - how can he know the answers? "What is the God Rama usually pictured holding in his hand?" "Who invented the revolver?" "What American statesman's face is on the front of the American 100 bill?" Truth is, Jamal has been in the hot seat his whole life, and he knows the answers because of the horrors he's lived. He slowly tells his story to the police, and we quickly get sucked into the heights and depths of his life.

I could say more of course. I could tell you about his brother Salim or about the girl Jamal has loved from his youth, but why say more? This movie amazed me in a way I have difficulty describing. Maybe it's the dazzling camera work that Danny Boyle (Millions, Trainspotting) and his co-director for the India shots, Loveleen Tandan (Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair), cook up so effortlessly, sweeping us from the bottom of a sewage dump to the tippy-top of the Taj Mahal. Maybe it's the way that Boyle and Tandan show us the real Mumbai, a city where glory and gore live side by side, (as pointed out by Roger Ebert.) The Indian dance soundtrack (accented by the Sri Lankan border-crosser M.I.A.) is also worth noting/purchasing from iTunes.

As the film raced for its conclusion, I found myself asking the question, "Is the movie going to have a Bollywood or a Hollywood ending?" By Hollywood, I specifically refer to the nouveau Hollywood ending, that one where nothing works out. It's a question that you will have to answer for yourself as you watch. Slumdog Millionaire is a lifeline. Watch this film.

My ranking: 93 out of 100.

For further praise: NBR names "Slumdog" film of the year.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Wrap Up Music: 12/1/08

It's past my bedtime, and I thought I'd burn the last bit of oil by sharing my wrap up music for the first day of the last month of 2008 AD. This song has an odd genesis, with its lyrics originally being pinned by Isaac Watts and known as "Hymn 39," but when it entered the rural hymnal that is the Sacred Harp, it became known by it's tune, "Africa." (No clue why "Africa." There is nothing about Africa in the song.) I first heard it when my brethren in Sojourn Music sang it to our church a few weeks ago. Learning that that version was The Innocence Mission's interpretation, I immediately plopped my $.99 on Steve Job's barrel head and made my best purchase that week.

Now shall my inward joys arise,
And burst into a song;
Almighty love inspires my heart,
And pleasure tunes my tongue.

God on his thirsty Zion hill
Some mercy drops has thrown,
And solemn oaths have bound his love
To shower salvation down.

Why do we then indulge our fears,
Suspicions, and complaints?
Is he a God, and shall his grace
Grow weary of his saints?

Man. Is he a God? What a question to ask and immediately answer. Pleasure tunes my tongue? Now that's Christian Hedonism. This song rocks me and socks me with Watt's confidence in Christ. "Abraham believed God." In the face of everything in this world, in the face of all the lies that the satanic trinity (world, flesh, devil) fumes, what power is there in simply trusting in our loving Father? "Why do we then indulge our fears, suspicions and complaints? Is he a God, and shall his grace grow weary of his saints?" The Scripture tells us he has loved us with an everlasting love. What wondrous love is this, oh my soul!

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I. Am. Not. A. Trekkie. That said...

I (gulp) rented season one of Star Trek: The Original Series a week ago tomorrow from Wild & Woolly Video. They have this killer deal in which a TV season counts for one rental, thus allowing me to rent the 8 disc season for seven days for $4 USD. I have enjoyed watching it, but it proved to be poor marathon fodder. I just couldn't shotgun melodrama - it was way too tense. I decided to squeeze the last drops of juice out tonight and watched the first Trek two-parter, "The Menagerie." It's a brilliant episode, and offers some good blog bytes for another day. I greatly enjoyed the little tidbit (shared in a flashback sequence) that the first ship's surgeon on the Enterprise was one Dr. Phillip Boyce. No relation.

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