Saturday, October 27, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Creative Pumpkin carving again. Take a look. (Photos not that great, but the pumpkins turned out pretty good).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

No Longer Just Hip...

I used to look down on mac users. I thought that they were just trying to be different, iconoclastic, stubborn. I never considered using a mac because all of the software that I was using was PC based. I began to observe some mac users in action, saw their computers, bought an ipod and I was slowly converted. I bought a macbook pro last year and I love it. I just read this quote on line:
Shares of Apple rose almost 7 percent in after-hours trading after the company reported fiscal fourth-quarter profits that jumped 67 percent to cap a year of unprecedented momentum in the company's Macintosh computer business, as well as continued demand for iPods and the successful launch of the iPhone
I looked around at the coffee shop I was studying in today and of the 12 laptop users, 8 were using macs. Mac is really gaining right now. (Reality check, mac's only account for about 8 percent of the computer market. It’s funny, after I read how mac is gaining ground and becoming the popular choice right now, I wonder how long it will take Microsoft to become the underdog that mac was and people will convert to PC to be different. Or, will another movement come along to challenge the big two? My bet is on the second option. So, keep your eye out for it and then buy its second or third generation products as they become cool. By then, the pioneers will have moved on to another product to champion as the new underdog.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Pastor's Dilemma?

What role should a pastor play in politics? For about 25 years conservative evangelicals have been linked with Republicans, even to the extent that it is assumed that we all vote the same and agree on the same issues.

I ask because I saw a local pastor here walking in the Mizzou homecoming parade with a partisan candidate for office. The dilemma here is: should a pastor endorse a candidate on his own time? Is there the potential for parishioners who vote for the other party to get bent out of shape at his active partisan campaigning?

Now, I do not think that any pastor should endorse a politician or party from the pulpit. I encountered a situation in my former church. There was a certain Adult Bible Study class with a member who would openly campaign for the party he used to support. It was a little too early in my tenure to do anything about it, but I would have had them hush things if it would have continued. We even had an involved family leave our church because they were tired of the bias toward one party and antagonism toward the party they were members of.

I guess a pastor could do whatever he wants on his free time, but should he be concerned about parishioners who may disagree or be on the other side of the aisle, so to speak?

You tell me. As for me, I would probably choose to keep my political leanings to myself.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Stranger than Fiction

I saw a film today that just blew me away. (Actually I only saw the last two thirds, but I knew enough of the story to get up to speed on what was happening).
Will Farrell plays an IRS agent who is extremely uninteresting and boring. One day, he hears a voice narrating the story of his life. Upon consulting a professor of literature, he realizes that this particular author kills off all of her leading characters.
Farrell's character goes to the author and bargains with her to spare his life and not kill him off. He is allow to read the ending of the novel to see how he dies, he couldn't finish it so he asked his English prof to read it for him. The English prof has read it, claims that Harold (Farrell's character) has to die. This novel is the author's greatest work (of an already acclaimed career). There's no way out, but the ending is beautiful. Harold reads the story, and comes to grips with the ending, encourages the author to finish it and is resigned to his "fate."
Harold goes forward, knowing that he is going to die, but he knows that his death ultimately plays a great role in something wonderful.
Even as the author writes the ending, she cries out in anger, as if to say, "Why do I have to kill my creation off like this?"
I won't totally spoil the ending, but I went to to see if anyone else saw any of the Christian overtones. One forum poster laid out the theology of the movie. There was some disagreement. I don't see how. That film had so many Christian overtones. Ignoring some of the morality of the lead characters (don't necessarily lead what we would call "Christian" lifestyles) look at some of the scenes.
The lead character realizes his fate and asks for a different ending.
When assured that the ending must happen this way for something beautiful and meaningful to happen, the lead character is resigned to the ending, knowing it will cost him his life.
The omniscient, all powerful author is extremely distraught at what happens to the character.
Yet, because of the obedience of the lead character, there is a salvation (so to speak).
Any opinions on Stranger than Fiction? I thought it was extremely powerful. One of the best films I've seen in a few years.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Best of Both Worlds

Last Saturday at about 10am, I sat at my desk with two computers at the Ticketmaster website and my cell phone in my hand. My wife had her sister and her friend in KC manning their phones. My wife had her phone working and her mother's phone working. For what? To purchase a limited amount of Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus tickets in STL. They released 1000 tickets to the sold out show. I got through and got my wife and daughter two tickets to see this show with the Jonas Brothers as the opening act.
The show, Hannah Montana, is horrible but I will have to admit that she has a good voice. She really can sing. (But the music is awful, but she's not performing for me, but for 10 year old little girls).
The children have such a powerful demographic. If you don't believe me, look at the scalper prices for this concert ($1000!). The sad thing for me? In the past year, I have seen three critically acclaimed bands (one of those bands twice [Wilco], plus Spoon and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin) and if you add all of the attendees to those concerts, they would not equal how many people are going to be at Hannah Montana concert in STL tomorrow night.
BTW, The Cold War Kids are coming to town in a few months. I am digging Columbia right now. Cowboy Junkies are coming (I saw them in 1991). Not going. Sold out in Columbia? Modest Mouse and Alice in Chains.
I will have to let my daughter write a review of Hannah Montana. I am glad I don't have to go but I would have for my daughter. At least she is scandal free and seems like she has a great support system with Achy Breaky Heart singer Billy Ray Cyrus as her father.

Friday, October 12, 2007

My Policy on Returning Calls

Have you ever dialed the wrong number, realized it mid-call and then hung up without leaving a message on voice mail? And then, about 4 hours later, you get a phone call from a complete stranger asking if someone from this number called them? First you wrack your brain to find out who this person is, ask yourself if you called them and then remember and have to explain to the person that, yes, I called, but I dialed the wrong number. That drives me crazy. So I have a policy. If you call me and do not leave a message, I will not call you back. I figure that it may not be important or that you dialed me by mistake and you did not NEED to talk to me so I won't call you back. Is that reasonable? Do you expect someone you call without leaving a message to call back? Are you nutty enough to call a completely unknown number on your list just to see who called? Why? To me, if I let it go, it's just one less thing I have to do or worry about.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Initial Reaction - In Rainbows

I just downloaded the new Radiohead release “in Rainbows”. You can’t call it a cd yet because they are not releasing it in stores or on itunes. You have to go to their website, decide how much you want to pay for it and then download it. That’s right, if you want to pay zip for it (Hunter), you can. If you want a hard copy, you have to wait until it hits stores in December. There is also a boxed set with artwork and several discs that are going to be available then. (I paid 4.5 pounds or about 9 bucks, or about what it would cost on itunes).

My initial reaction is very positive. I like three of the first four songs (“Nude” will probably have to grow on me). They continue to display why they sound nothing like anyone else. Ethereal lyrics, lilting vocals from Thom Yorke, but they still can rock out like anyone. Very versatile musicians who can play the gamut of musical styles from jazz to electronica.
Highlights for me on just a first listen: 15 Step, Bodysnatcher, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi; Reckoner; House of Cards.

Monday, October 8, 2007

A New Bike

I did something today that I haven't done since maybe I was ten. I bought a brand new bike. The last new bike I bought got stolen out of my back yard. I have had a few bikes over the years but they were always hand me downs (even as an adult). Columbia has bike trails all over and we are very close to the Katy Trail so I have wanted a bike.
I bought a mountain bike, but not a real high tier one. I want one that I can ride in the neighborhood but also take on a few moderate trails. Got a Gary Fisher "Mako." Don't know what that means but the bike fit my budget and does what I want it to do.
I rode it tonight and discovered just how out of shape I have become. I have probably gained 10 pounds since last May. I rode the bike for about two miles (with one pretty decent hill) and I was gassed. Got to go everyday now.
Now, I've got to make room for my weights in the garage and I will be set.
Where's MT and Jonny Rocket when I need them?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Concert Review: Spoon at the Blue Note in Columbia, MO

Dragged my wife to see another band. This time it was Spoon at the Blue Note in Columbia, MO. I have been a fan of Spoon for the span of their last two cds “Gimme Fiction” and their latest “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” (I know, stupid name for a cd). These two cds are jammed packed with tight pop/rock tunes.
They opened the concert tonight with five straight songs off their new cd with highlights being “Don’t You Evah” and the very Motown influenced “You’ve Got Yr Cherry Bomb”. Once again, I heard a song live and it changed my perspective of a song (I did not care for the song, “The Ghost of You Lingers.” Highlights from the second cd were “My Mathematical Mind” and “Beast and Dragon Adored.” They played several songs off of some of their older releases, songs that I was not too familiar with. In fact, I had been checking some of their recent setlists and I saw several songs not played in recent concerts. The crowd enjoyed some of their older songs. The biggest reactions were for “I Turn My Camera On” and “That’s the Way We Get By” (which was featured on the Fox teen drama, “The OC.”)
They sounded pretty good, although it seemed like there was some unnecessary echo in places. Britt Daniel, the lead singer and lead guitarist, was also a little adventuresome on guitar breaks, which were a little too noisy for me.
We were probably a little too close to the amps for us, so you know what they say when you think it’s too loud…
Good atmosphere, the band really didn’t engage the crowd until toward the end of the show (which never bothers me too much). We were lucky because they are canceling the rest of their shows this week in order to prepare for Saturday Night Live where they are the musical guests this week.
This is a great band that has been overlooked by far too many.
My recommendation for download: The Way We Get By, Don’t You Evah, They Never Got You (probably my favorite song of theirs).

Monday, October 1, 2007

My Feeble Answer to the Question

In the beginning, when God created the universe, he looked at all he created each day and declared that it was good. When he created man and woman, he declared that it was very good. But things didn’t stay that way. The man and woman disobeyed the only rule God told them to follow, don’t eat from one certain tree. Of course they did not keep that rule, and everything changed. The Apostle Paul noted that when Adam sinned, it affected us all. Death entered into the human condition (see Romans 5). We get sick, not because God decrees it, but because humanity is flawed and infected by sin. And not only that, but if you look at Genesis 3 closely, it says “Cursed is the ground because of you…” The earth is under a curse because of sin. Paul tells us in Romans 8 that creation itself is longing for redemption from the bondage of sin. That, to me explains natural disasters. Something is wrong with our earth.

Now, why does God allow some of these things to happen to some people and not to others, I do not know, but I do not believe that God decrees that we get sick or for tornadoes or floods to strike us. I do believe that God can shine through our calamity for his glory and for our obedience. John 9 shows Jesus confronted by a blind man. His disciples want to know, "Whose fault is this?" It has to be someone's fault. He must have done something. Jesus replies that it wasn't his sin that caused his blindness, but his blindness was an opportunity for God to be glorified. In this case, God was glorified through the display of his healing power through Jesus. But, is it possible for people to glorify God without healing? I believe so. We see people like Joni Earickson Tada serving God in mighty ways in spite of an accident that left her a quadriplegic. I have talked to familied who have been blessed by having a sibling with Down's Syndrome. These are just a few examples of how God can be glorified through calamity or disability. Anyway, that is my reaction. I am sure if I was diagnosed with cancer tomorrow, I might have a different answer, but for now...

I am curious for any of your reactions.