Thursday, March 30, 2006

Answered Prayers

Seriously, I want to thank God for this. Jill Carroll has been released from her captors and was never threatened or harmed.

Read her story here, complements of the BBC.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

**Visibly Cringing** So, who really has the best idea of "handbasket"??

Uh.... Yeah....

Hello there folks.

If you've got the stomach, take a look through this article about Ron Luce and Teen Mania in San Fransisco.

Still at odds myself, though I can't quite stomach the harsh treatment of "condemnation" from the city and counter-protestors. I wonder if Luce & TM got permits for their rally -- I believe in free speech, but a rally of that size had to have received approval from some city official. The article doesn't say so thought. But when you boil down things to the core of the issues, it's just the militant language and harsh rhetoric used by Luce that bothers me most. It's not needed and doesn't follow any example that Jesus lived out that I ever read about in the Gospels.

And maybe that's just me....


Saturday, March 25, 2006

Chalmers Johnson Interview

Granted, if you read my blog (and subsequent comments by my "readers"), you'll have seen these links already. I give thanks to my friend Provoked for reading and providing these links. But, just in case, you need some added impetus to read (or just want my "approval" -- HAH!), here are the links to the 2-part interview that Mother Jones Magazine conducted with Chalmers Johnson. Read, think, and enjoy.


On Our Military Empire

Whatever Happened to Congress?

CPT: Sadness, Joy, and True Activism

To those of you who don't follow international news beyond the general headlines, there has been an ongoing series of events concerning the valiant and courageous organization Christian Peacemaker Teams. Back in November, 4 members of this group (1 American, 1 Britons, and 2 Canadians) were abducted by insurgents. Since then, there have been a great many people around the world petitioning for their release, including several secular and religious Iraqi groups. The first 5 links represent a loose timeline of the events, from a BBC Timeline, to the news of Tom Fox's death, to the release of the other 3 men. The concluding link is an article from Mother Jones Magazine discussing how most peace groups in the West have much to learn from the Christian Peacemaker Teams.


BBC Timeline

US hostage in Iraq confirmed dead

British Iraq hostage Kember freed

Joy at Canadian hostages' release

Freed Kember thanks rescue troops

Christian Peacemakers and the Failure of the Left

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Where are we going and how did we get into this handbasket?!?

Here's the arrangement folks. If you want to put into great use three hours of your lives, I encourage you to first read/watch/listen to this Democracy Now! interview between Amy Goodman and Nixon/conservative stragegist Kevin Phillips (1 hour) and then go see the artistic and thematic genius that is V for Vendetta (2 hours). Then, come back and talk to me about the strange mixture of socio-political idealism and pessimism that I've possessed for awhile.

Or, if 3 hours is a bit too much to give, then I don't have much advice for you.

Peace (or Revolution?!?).


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Spring Break Thoughts, Happenings, and Other Random Stuff

Well, my Spring Break is over. "What?!?" you might ask. "Aren't you too old to be on Spring Break?" you might also ask. Understandable reactions, but the benefit of teaching is that you do get this free week of vacation in the midst of the Spring that the average working adult doesn't get. Ahhhh.... the perks of helping to mold young minds.

Of course, those of you who know me well might be of the opinion that the thought of me teaching elementary school children somewhat creepy and disturbing. Rest assured, I'm fairly good with kids -- they like me and I like them. It's a great gig actually.

Embarrassing Admission -- I spent the better part of the week playing a great video game -- Dragon Quest 8. To be totally honest with my readers, I've logged 100 hours on this game since Christmas Day, when I received it as a present from my brother. Yeah yeah yeah.... That's a lot. I'll admit it. I know how such an admission sets in stone my status as King Nerd-Boy. Whatever -- at least I had a great Spring Break, though I didn't get to SXSW to see Morrissey due to a lack of funds (the downside to being a teacher).

I've limited my options concerning seminary down to Biblical Seminary, just north of Philly, PA. This is mostly because I have received a great offer from The Harvest to begin training as a Speciality/Support Teacher, focusing on music, one-on-one attention with kids, and possibly/eventually theater. The crazy thing about this offer is that it came the day after God and I had a rather intense evening talking about seminary and my future, discussing many of the thoughts that I wrote about in my recent post about brutal honesty. Was this offer some sort of answer? I am taking this offer really seriously, as in, I'm taking The Harvest at its word and beginning to apply to summer training classes for Waldorf teachers. Yes -- this does mean that I'm applying to seminary AND teacher training at the same time. Unrealistic? Idealistic? Maybe so, but it's what I have to do, I feel...

Anyway, here are this week's media influences:

Broken Social Scene: Broken Social Scene -- This band is ridiculously talented, though if you're not a fan of slightly avant-garde, left-of-center music, you'll not understand my affection for BSS. 7/4 (Shoreline) is by far my favorite song.

U2: How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb -- One of my fave 3 U2 albums of all time, rivalling only Achtung, Baby and War in lyrical depth and creativity. I cry everytime I listen to "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" because I relate greatly with Bono's own struggles with having personality conflicts with his father. And, oh yeah, "Love and Peace or Else" is the greatest, yet most bombastic track on the album. I think that's why I like it for some reason.

R.E.M.: New Adventures in Hi-Fi -- My belief that this is the most mis-understood (yes, even more than Monster) album in the band's discography makes it also my second favorite, behind only most critic's choice of Automatic for the People. The questions, existential perusals, and thoughfulness of Stipe's lyrics make this a stand-out album, on an album that really doesn't have any "hits" ("E-Bow the Letter, nonwithstanding).

Jets to Brazil: Orange Rhyming Dictionary -- Without a doubt, this is one of my Top 20 favorite albums of all time and probably one of the least recognized albums in the pantheon of indie rock. Blake's lyrics throughout the course of these 11 songs sound like they've poured from my journal at some point. The standout lines come from the same song (Song 10) -- "They're playing love songs on your radio tonight. I don't get those songs on mine!" Sounds too emo for you? These guys are hardly emo -- if the band you came from is Jawbreaker, you greatly pre-date the lyrical cheese that trendy emo spawned.

Ranier Maria Rilke: Duino Elegies -- Simply put, Rilke is my favorite poet. Go read The Book of Hours and prepare to be overwhelmed with awe and reverence.

My Genesis commentary blog

Secretary: Maggie Gyllenhaal & James Spader -- This movie LOOKS a whole lot dirtier than it really is and could have been MUCH dirtier than it really is. The fact that they leave much of their sexual relationship to your mind's eye is brilliant and disavows any chance for becoming soft-core porn. But it's kinda creepy, nonetheless....

V for Vendetta: Natalie Portman & Hugo Weaving -- Produced and adapted by the Wachowski brothers (creators of The Matrix Trilogy) from the Alan Moore graphic novel of the same time, this movie portrays life in totalitarian Britain, akin to Orwell's 1984. The twist is that, instead of the reader/viewer pitying and bemoaning Winston Smith's ineptitude and eventual acquiesence in 1984, Portman & Weaving's characters are equally flawed, and yet believable, to the extent that the obvious satire of contemporary global political powers isn't overbearing and pompous in its criticisms. I think that the key phrase in the movie comes from Portman's character's recollections of a statement her activist/writer father made (paraphrasing): "Artists use lies to expose the truth; politicians use lies to hide the truth." While it might not be for everyone, I really enjoyed this film and hope to see it again soon.


Saturday, March 11, 2006

Read and then visit. They'll appreciate it....

In a brief attempt to grant some much-needed kudos and recognition to some rather worthy candidates, I want to provide the appropriate links to these great people, places, and events of note.

1) My friend Jason Raschen is a film reviewer, currently working for the fabulously witty website Film Lords. I encourage you to peruse his reviews and those of his compatriots.

2) I have several friends who have their photography up for exhibit at Xnihilo Gallery as a part of Houston's 2006 Foto Fest. This year's theme is "The Earth & Artists Responding to Violence" and my friends' pictures are various pictures from this beautiful world of ours. Be sure to go check out their pictures, as directions on the gallery's website.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

I am a feminist....

Therefore, to pay homage to all wonderful women around the globe, I provide these links to my readers so that they might better educate themselves concerning International Women's Day, celebrated every year on March 8th.

Another closely-linked event of relevance that occured on this day is Susan B. Anthony's appearance before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives arguing for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote.

Thus, in conclusion to this short, but (hopefully) informative post, I present to you all a conversation on Democracy Now! between Amy Goodman and Margaret Busby, editor of Daughters of Africa: An international anthology of Words and Writings by Women of African Descent, held in honor of International Women's Day.

Enjoy and Respond....


Monday, March 06, 2006

Amazingly, this wasn't a bit of spam in my Inbox!

Hey hey.... One can never tell just WHO will find your blog. Case in point -- I received the following e-mail from a lovely woman working for a production company as she is trying to get word out about a band that employs her company. I've seen these guys twice myself -- once as they opened for Mae and again as they opened for MuteMath. If you've seen either band's recent tours, than you've probably seen these guys. I will say that I enjoyed them, since they really make it a point to connect with their crowd. But I'm not going to say much more. I'll let the e-mail speak for itself.

((BTW, by doing this, I'm not sure if this means that I'm prostituting out my blog.... Thoughts???))


Hey hey, what's up? My name is Sonya, from Cornerstone Promotion. Came
across your blog and thought you might like a new band that I am
working with...

The Working Title. If you haven’t heard them yet, check them out :]

They’ve done some cool tours with Mute, Athlete, Relient K, Mae, and
Copeland, to name a few. I’ve seen them live a few times and they’re a
really compelling, positive and fun rock band with an awe inspiring
presence (no, really)… and to top it all off, the lead singer has a
great voice :]

You can check out one of their new songs…

The Crash:

Their new CD “About-Face” has no set release date yet, but it’s
expected sometime in June.

Let me know if you dig them or not, I’d really appreciate any
feedback... good or bad :]


My Thoughts as We Begin Lent

This is my introduction to the lesson that I have written for the first week of Lent, having originally posted the lesson itself at Genesis In My Eyes. I felt that I would include this section here on this blog, mostly because I know that I will be writing often during the next 7 weeks upon the ideas, concepts, and intents surrounding Lent. Blessings upon you all as you read....

More than anything else during this Season of Lent, I wish to impress upon adults and children how sacred this time is in the life of individual Christians and in the long spiritual history that is the Christian faith. The journey thought Season of Lent should be the defining experience in what it actually means to be a Christian. During Lent, the Church allows itself to reflect, meditate, and focus upon why Jesus came to this world, what He accomplished, and how His Birth, Life, Death, Burial, and Resurrection have changed the direction of the world in its entirety. Thus, for the children and adults that we both teach and impact by our lives in general, I feel that it is our responsibility to truly embody all that this Season entails.

I approach the task of writing the lessons for this Season, having really only celebrated Lent for the second time in my whole life. Oh, by going to Church with my Roman Catholic father for the first 15 years of my life, I attended many services during Lent, with many Palm Sunday being of noticeable memory. However, since I was not a Catholic myself (as a child, my father never pressed my mother to send me to Catholic Sunday School, i.e. CCE), I did not have any appreciation for the confessional voyage that Catholics, Orthodox, and “high” Protestants undertake during Lent, or any season for that matter. And while I have no regrets over the events comprising my past, as they make me who I am today, I do wish that I could have grown up experiencing community in a liturgical fashion.

I say all that to say this: too many Christians, especially here in the evangelical South, have never made this journey part of their spiritual lives. Thus, even more so than during Advent, the Church should create an environment in which all believers might have the opportunity to experience Christ in a new, yet utterly timeless way. Through these 7 weeks of readings, studies, and reflections of mine, I am looking forward to both lead and travel alongside people as we walk, crawl, stumble, scratch, claw, and eventually run towards the Cross and Empty Tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Current Media I'm Enjoying....

Well, here's to a new series I'm starting....

Instead of keeping up with my running sidebar on what I'm listening to and reading, I'm planning to make regular posts (as in, every one or two weeks) regarding what I've been reading, listening to, and watching. Granted, I don't think that this "series" is of much worth to anyone but myself; in fact, I think it will be illuminating to truly ascertain actually how I spend my time. Thus, if you're interested in a bit of sociological insight into how my time is divided up, read along with me.

And yes, if you feel so inclined, feel free to comment....

Without any further ado, I present the list of what has been a part of my life the past couple of weeks:

Walk The Line : Joaquin Phoenix & Reese Witherspoon (Congrats Reese on your Oscar! I can now forgive you for starring in Legally Blonde, Legally Blonde 2, and Just Like Heaven.)

The Last Gentleman : Walker Percy

Duino Elegies : Ranier Maria Rilke

The Jewish Study Bible : JPS Tanakh Translation

Rabbit Fur Coat : Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins

Illinois : Sufjan Stevens (This was the BEST record of 2005. If you haven't bought it, listened to it, and come to love it, than you have no soul. Sorry....)

The Queen is Dead : The Smiths

Document No. 5 : R. E. M.

Pop : U2

Silent Alarm : Bloc Party (I just can't get enough of this album. Beautiful, frenetic, thoughtful, and a hell of a lot of fun.)

The Everglow : Mae (This was one of my favorite records of 2005.)

Catch for Us the Foxes (This also was one of my fave records of 2005, mostly because the music is so creative, so esoteric, yet so utterly wonderful. And oh yeah -- Aaron Weiss is one of the most passionate lyricists since John Donne wrote poetry.)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Lenten Prayer on Ash Wednesday

Might that I accept the
forgiveness of my sins,
the forgiveness that You've
promised to me,
secured for me,
given to me through
Your Son Jesus'
death on my behalf.

Might that I come to forgive
and live in Your grace and love.

Thus, even though I
(even though we)
tend to think that
my sins
(our sins)
are bigger and greater
than Jesus' sinless sacrifice on the Cross,

Might that we,
as a community,
spend these 40 days
reflecting on Your actions,
listening to Your words,
loving You for all You've done.

Might that we remember
that we are dust
and to dust we shall return.


Copyright 03/01/2006