28 December 2008


So I was in Memphis Tennessee at the beginning of December for the "Great Emergence Conference" with Phyllis Tickle.  This was my first time there.  Great city - didn't make it to Grace Land, but I did make it to the Civil Rights Museum.

The Museum is based around the hotel where Martin Luther King Junior was shot, and the apartment across the alley where it is believed that the fatal bullet came from.  Walking up to the hotel those photographs were taken of the slain civil rights leader got me thinking about a bunch of things.  

The first is Dr. King's Mountain Top speech - he made it the night before.  It is clear that he knew he was going to die - at least in retrospect.  It is amazing to hear this - amazing.  Shivers up and down my spine as a sense the conscious knowledge of God.  King did this out of God's calling, and not out of any desire of his own.

The second thing that comes up for me is that he was an adulterer.  It is clear to most Christians that King was a prophet sent from God to bring Good News to the United States - good news that many weren't ready or willing to hear.  He did God's work.  But he was not perfect - clay feet if you will.  He was not the most perfect example of morality.  We cannot discount his words, or God's activity through him, just because of his indiscretion.  But in our present time, we feel that we can do that.  If some falls short of moral standards, many times we can shut out their voice because they aren't living up to what we feel is necessary to be a messenger of God.

The third thing is Martyrdom.
King was martyred - I remember when I was at seminary seeing that he was recognized by the Lutheran church as a martyr, and being very moved by that.  Then being in the presence of the site of his death, and thinking about the Mountain Top speech - I wondered it was appropriate to shed tears or to celebrate the work of God through King both alive and dead.  
It made me think of the story of Perpetua - one of the early Christian martyrs.  She was given to wild beasts - and when the ribbon was nocked out of her hair - she put it back in - because her martyrdom was cause for celebration, not mourning.  How do we celebrate the giving of one's life as testimony to the Good News?

The Joy of Shaving

For a very long time, I had hated shaving... that was one of the reasons that I wore a beard.  But I have to make it clear that there is a better way.  I have switched over to what is called "wet shaving" - it is probably because you end up getting water everywhere.

But any ways - I have started using a shaving brush (Crabtree & Evelyn Best Badger Brush), an old fashioned safety razor (1960's Gillette Slim Adjustable) and some wonderful shaving soaps, and creams.  Gone is the blue goo, and the 3 razor blades tugging at my hairs.  Now I have Almond, and Violet and other delicious scents in the morning, and I actually look forward to my shave, I even miss it on days when I don't get a chance.  I originally started down this road because I figured that shaving soap would be more environmentally friendly.  Then I found out that I got a better shave in the process.

This is just a note to all the men out there who dread shaving: "It doesn't have to be that way."

17 October 2008

McCain and Obama Share Some Laughs

This is video from the Alfred E. Smith Dinner in NYC last night. It is a benefit dinner for Catholic Charities - where many famous politicians show up. The wonderful thing about it, is the light heartedness about it.

It is so great to have some laughs through this rough and tumble election. It is great to see the humanity of these two driven men. Very funny - totally worth the 25 minutes.

05 October 2008

Are Free Market Capitalism and Total Depravity Compatible?

So this might go off the theological/political/financial deepend a little bit, but ever since this whole financial meltdown popped up, I have been thinking about it.  

It seems that there may be some who would inclined to believe in both Free Market Capitalism and the theological concept of Total Depravity.  Let me explain them both briefly:
1. Free Market Capitalism:  The idea that there is no need for government intervention in the market - buyers and sellers will set the price of goods and services.
2. Total Depravity:  Humans are inherently sinful, and unless acting through God's grace will demonstrate their consuming sinful intentions.

So if humans are going to do bad things, how can we trust our economy to unbridled human greed?  I know that overregulation is not good for anyone, but it is also clear for me that the rampant consumerism of our culture is in the process of imploding on itself.  We want larger houses, bigger tvs, nicer cars -  the banks, and stores want to sell and borrow more and more- put those two selfish desires together and we will drag each other over the cliff...

I am not seeking to knock down a straw man - because I could be totally wrong.  Maybe no one holds these two beliefs in their conceptual perfection.  I am just wanting to explore how our faith/theology/understanding of God's role in our lives impacts our day to day lives.   For me this Financial Crisis is a clear example (just like watching Jerry Springer) that is some malfunction in our society at a pretty basic level.

Christians have good news for those who idolize materials, and good news for those who seek money and glory over the care of the widow and the orphan - we just have to figure out how to tell the story for them.

Kabuki Sue

Here are some pictures of my completed bike.

It is a fixed gear (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fixed_gear) bicycle. Basically you can't ever stop pedaling.  It took a bit of adjustment at first, but there is a certain level of connect that you feel with the bike since you can't coast.

Building my own bike was an even bigger adventure.  Figuring out which parts fit, and which didn't.  Making all kinds of decisions about handle bars, gear ratios, tires was fun and confronting.  I have only ever just bought a whole bike - and all those decisions were made for me. 

There was a pretty large sense of accomplishment when I rode this bike with my friend on a mini-camping trip.  And every time I get on the bike, I feel pretty good about it all.

I am still making adjustments - switching between the rear rack and a pannier - and using a messenger bag, and still figuring out the best place for the brake lever, etc.  It is not normal for me, but with this project, I have learned about making the journey enjoyable - instead of worrying so much about the destination.  (As long as the wheels don't fall off ;)

18 September 2008

I just don't get Sarah Palin


Check out this story from ABC. I just don't get her, her rhetoric, or where the McCain/Palin ticket is headed.

I know all politicians flip/flop and bend the truth - but this seems like it is getting a bit out of hand.

14 August 2008

Growing Food / Changing Lives


This is a great story about a skid row half way house for homeless people who have started some pretty serious gardening.

It is such a great story, about people given some help and encouragement actively changing their lives in meaningful ways. Lauren and I have done our first gardening this year, and even though it has been less than a smashing success, the feeling of going out side to get some basil, or mint that you have grown yourself is pretty darn fulfilling.

Maybe next year we won't get blossom end rot on _all_ of our tomatos.

Can Cindy McCain Make it as First Lady?


30 June 2008

Something to do with my free time.

Build a bike!

Why not, all the cool kids are buying/finding old 10 speed frames and converting them into single speed/fixed gear cruising bikes.

So I got myself a Bridgestone Kabuki - it just needed wheels, cranks, gears, tires, a better seat, brakes (maybe). I am trying to make it with all used parts - as much as possible. Certain things are a little harder to find. Any ways - I guess I should take some pictures.

I have learned a lot about fixing/maintaining bikes just this weekend, and it has been a blast. I can now clean and repack the bearings in a bottom bracket.

23 June 2008

Four Spiritual Laws vs. The 12 Steps

I have made it clear that I don't believe that the 4 spiritual laws are the most helpful way to be introduced to the story of God. If you haven't heard of the "4 spiritual laws," before you may just think that it is how Christianity works. Here is the basic story:
1. God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life. (John 3:16, John 10:10)
2. Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life. (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23)
3. Jesus Christ is God's only provision for man's sin. Through Him you can know and experience God's love and plan for your life. (Romans 5:8, I Corinthians 15:3-6, John 14:6)
4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives. (John 1:12, Ephesians 2:8,9, John 3:1~8, Revelation 3:20)

Many people think that this is the way to understand salvation that was announced by Jesus Christ. One thing to understand is that these "laws" were put together in 1965 - and are not some centuries old way of understanding the Good News.

Whether you believe these 4 Spiritual Laws true or not, I believe that there are several very severe flaws in using this as an evangelical too. One example is that speaking to a non-believer about Jesus and using the Bible to back you up won't get you very far in 2008. Many people also don't believe in Heaven or Hell - so this may be another dead end path.

That being said, the 12 steps are based on something very similar to the 4 Laws. These steps show prodigious results in both saving people from horrible demises in life from alcohol/drugs/sex/food/etc., and in bringing them into passionate relationships with God (as each person understands them - Jesus for many in the programs). Here are the steps (Taken from Alcoholics Anonymous):
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His Will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

So what is the difference that one produces dramatic change for many who would turn away from the 4 Laws but are caught up in the mystery of the 12 Steps? And what can we Christians learn about evangelism from the 12 Steps that is missing from the 4 Laws?

For me what jumps out is the practical and observable truth of the 12 Steps. For some one in the midst of an addiction it is painfully obvious that step one is true. Life is out of control. Most addiction councelors will say that a complete failure will bring a person to start a program of recovery. It is pretty hard to convince some one who doesn't believe in the Bible or Heaven or Hell that there is a desparate need to change their lifestyle. The 12 Steps also offer an ongoing change in a person's life. The 12 Steps require a life changing faith. The 4 Laws seem to only require an intellectual belief.

This is one of my largest criticisms of Christianity as I see it: People read the creeds, and "adhere" to statements of faith (if you are a Baptist - because they don't believer in creeds), but this faith has no real daily impact. The 12 Steps outline an entirely new way of life for the person. While I may believe in the virgin birth and the theory of "penal substitutionary atonement" it may not impact my daily life - not the way that my belief in gravity effects my life. With the 4 Laws, a simple prayer/statement fulfills your obligation to God, and the 12 Steps require a changed life.

Though one is harder, it is far more understandable how it could make a meaningful difference in my life today.

17 April 2008

Introducing Grace Marie

We now have another niece. Born on Wednesday morning. Praise God.

03 April 2008

India Thriller with English Lyrics

I nearly fell over laughing the first time I saw this. Oh my. I should have posted this a while ago.

17 March 2008

Time to Relax

I have had the opportunity in the past week to spend some time relaxing and connecting with God. While working as and admin and at my corporate job, I got a little overwhelmed.

Anyways, I took two retreats to two different contemplative centers in a week. That is a good way to do it.

On Wednesday I visited St. Paul's Monastery in North St. Paul. It is a community of Benedictine Sisters that has been there for a while. Most of the Sisters that are in the Monastery are retired - the other ones are out teaching. They worship and pray 3 or 4 times a day, and eat meals together. It is very quiet, and peaceful. I am not Catholic, but pretty familiar with the faith. The highlight of the stay was my time with Sister Virginia. She is a Spiritual Director. What a gift and a joy it was to be with her, and talk through my struggles and questions of God's desires for my life. It is only $60 a night with 3 meals included, and another $30 for an hour with a spiritual director.

During this time when I am only working 4 days a week, and Lauren and I are determining what is next for us, We are seriously considering me spending my Wednesdays at St. Paul's as part of the discernment process.

On Friday night I arrived at Pacem In Terris. I was there from Friday night till Sunday at about 2pm. This is a Hermitage. It is about being alone with God. The advise you to bring only a Bible and a journal. (and personal effects). You are in the woods, and in a beautiful cabin with no electricity and no running water. It was great. I wrote a letter to my Dad (he died in 2001), and also prayed through most of the Psalms on Saturday - using the Coptic Book of the Hours (Available Online). It was great. I also put together a schedule for reading the Psalms - that divides them into 28 nearly equal parts with out dividing the psalms or any of the 5 books of the psalms. I am very happy with it, and will post it soon. The time there was great - even if I thought it was a little over priced ($90) because of the primitiveness. Next time I might just camp instead and save the money. But if you don't want to have to pitch a tent, and sleep on dirt - Pacem In Terra offers you a great way to remove distractions from you life and be still. (Watch out - I might have a career as a Christian retreat reviewer.)

It was a great week. A great time to refresh, and I am so thankful for Lauren for making it possible.

DJ Bob Brown in a Church Basement

Welp - I am sure it will attract a slightly different crowd that some of my old gigs, but I am playing what has been titled a "Resurrection Rave" on Easter sunday in the basement of my church - Solomon's Porch. I am the only dj, and will probably only spin for about 2 hours or so. We have neighbors.

All are welcome, it will be relatively early, and there will be some drumming/drum circles before and after. But we have a pretty decent sound system and I will bring some very good (though a little old) records for the dancing. So here is the data:

Resurrection Rave
8pm - 10pm Sunday March 23rd 2008
@ Solomon's Porch
46th & Blaisdell Ave S.
Minneapolis, MN 55406

Come one come all - no statement of belief required for entry - and no tracts will be handed out ;)

29 January 2008

Human Trafficking


Here is a CNN UK report on the modern day slave trade.

There is an active group in my church that is working on making a difference globally and locally in the trade of human beings. They work with a group called "Not for Sale"

One of the main things that these groups are currently doing is working to raise awareness about the modern day slave trade. So I figure I can do a little bit by posting this video on my blog.

Most of the modern day slavery that we see in the UK and the US is related to the Sex industries - women forced into prostitution - not just by desparate circumstances, but by kidnapping and physical and mental abuse. This not something that happens only in third world nations, but it happens in the UK and even here in Minneapolis - we had a brothel busted in July of 2007, and our church has helped a liberated slave set up house in the twin cities.

If you want to know more you can read these websites:
Is an international organization that can help you get connected locally.
This is the group from Solomon's Porch who are working to help around town.

11 January 2008

Need a Smile?

I love this song - and recently I finally saw the video for Basement Jaxx's Romeo.

It made me smile - and maybe think that humanity has a bit of God's goodness it in. Fun and pointlessly beautiful.

08 January 2008

Calling all Mac Nerds

Are you a mac-nerd?
Do you regularly check any Apple Rumor Sites?
Do you know that the Mac World Conference is Jan 15th?

If so you might really enjoy this game for the upcomming Mac World Steve Jobs key note on January 15th:


This way you can play along at home. I love all the specific rules/definitions of the squares.