Why My Family Switched to Apple: Five Reasons

My family home schools. That means computers are necessary and everyone in the family has their own. I have been running a home network of seven computers for the last five years. It has been a nightmare job.

One day I noticed that my personal Mac was never causing me troubles. It was older and slow, but always doing its job. Once a hard drive crashed, but I had backups (which are easy to do) and after an evening of work was back in business.

Vista (outside of the marvelous media center application) has been horrid. Only an eight year old computer in the network (now too slow for most functions) did not constantly blue screen or cause other problems. XP by the end was marginally better, but looked like a Mac from a decade ago and was horrible at networking.

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Poetry Friday: Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson - many an American schoolchild's first introduction to poetry. She wrote highly accessible, whimsically capitalized, incisive, rhyming poetry during the mid 1800s, even though she lived a mostly secluded life.

This one was part of the New York City MTA's "Poetry in Motion" project. I read it while riding to work one morning and thought how many storytellers - especially Christians - could benefit from its exhortation.

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant -
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually

Danny Federici and the E Street Band

Bruce Springsteen’s sound cannot be separated from the E Street Band, especially the evocative keyboards of Danny Federici. I have so many vivid memories of Springsteen shows--from the Coliseum in Columbia, South Carolina (1981!) to The Greek Theater for “The Seeger Sessions.” Last year, I had the privilege of catching Springsteen’s “Magic” reunion tour with the E Street Band at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. Danny was in the house, commanding the keyboards. So the passing of Federici from skin cancer deserves a serious moment of silence and respect.

Although he created several solo works, Federici’s most distinguished recording remains “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy).”  His accordian playing immediately snaps me back to the New Jersey boardwalk and an ocean breeze. Tonight, I play “Sandy” for Danny. As Springsteen sings–

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Tags | Music

C.S. Lewis: Five Books that Changed My Life

Of the Inklings, C.S. Lewis has had the greatest impact on generations of Christian scholars. Inside of the Torrey leadership, I would guess he is the author with the greatest shared impact on all of us.

He certainly changed my life. I am a Christian in great part because of the role his works had in shaping my imagination. I am the kind of Christian I am, because Lewis wrote and lived as he did.

There is no moment I can remember when Lewis has not been one of my primary literary guides. As a child my basement room had a map of Narnia carefully rolled out on a table in the middle of my work space. My first club formed with my brother and a dear cousin attempted a unification of Narnia with all our other favorite writers. We played at Narnia . . . hard enough to scar ourselves with metal swords carefully constructed out of scrap metal.

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Poetry Friday: Billy Collins

Today's poet is Billy Collins, New York City native, U.S. Poet Laureate since 2001 (aren't you glad, in spite of our country's general disregard for the arts in general and poetry in particular, that we have a poet laureate?), and recipient of most of the prestigious fellowships and awards that you can earn as a living American poet. Collins' poetry is simultaneously accessible and profound.

He has a website called Action Poetry, a collection of short films of his poetry, which I highly recommend - especially if you don't "like" or "get" poetry. The poem below is included on the website.

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People always ask me, "Why does Hollywood turn out so many loud, abrasive, empty-headed movies?"  Do movies have to insult our intelligence?   Can't we find something life-affirming instead of soul-draining?    The studios suggest that they simply supply what audiences want.  If we supported smaller, independent films loaded with heart, we'd get more of them.   Here comes another golden opportunity.

The most timely and relevant film at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival was THE VISITOR.  It is smart, subtle and filled with sneaky humor.  It puts a human face on the immigration issue and causes us to consider the cost of our post 9/11 policies. The timeless biblical question, "Am I my brother's keeper?" emerges from the movie.   The performances are spot on, brimming with nuance and intelligence. Basically, The Visitor is a brilliant independent film that will likely by overlooked until Oscar time. You can read my complete review here.
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Tags | Film

The Search for Online Truth

If there's one constant about technology that trumps all others, it's this: change. We can be sure that whatever technology is cool and useful and popular today will be replaced by something that's cooler, more useful, and more popular tomorrow. It's just the way it is.

With truth it's different. Unless you're a relativist, truth doesn't change. We need to know that what's true today will still be true tomorrow. We also need to know that the content we access, whether it's on a printed page or in some kind of electronic form, is trustworthy.

At ConversantLife.com, we are committed to both technology and truth. We are using the latest technology to present trustworthy content by a team of passionate and knowledgeable communicators, all the while inviting our users to comment and post content of their own in the form of news stories that have faith implications.

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From the opening strains of “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” through the rousing finale of “Yes We Can Can,” YOUNG @ HEART makes audience laugh, shout, and celebrate. This inspiring documentary follows the rehearsals of a geriatric choir (average age 80!) in Northampton, Massachusetts. Led with a punk rock ethos by Bob Cilman, the Young @ Heart chorus includes great, great grandparents. It is the most entertaining film I’ve seen in 2008.

Director Stephen George focuses upon the most lively characters in the choir, including 76 year-old, Stan Goldman and saucy 92 year-old Eileen Hall. At the beginning of the film, the camera seems to be laughing at them. Their shouts animate renditions of James Brown’s “I Feel Good” and Sonic Youth’s “Schizophrenia.” Producer Sally George also stages some hilarious music videos to The Ramones’ “I Want to be Sedated” and David Bowie’s “Golden Years.” But soon the satire turns into something far more moving.

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Tags | Film

Wresting With Evil and Hope

Christy Tennant continues her conversation with Makoto Fujimura about the third language…

CT: Tim Keller’s latest book, Reason For God, deals with addressing hard questions that all people grapple with. For example, he delves into the theology of suffering, and all the hard questions that arise simply because “good people” suffer tremendous evil, while “evil people” seem to get off scot free. How does the issue of suffering inform your art?

MF: Tim’s book is apologetical – it’s a resource aimed at defending our faith. But he’s been doing this since the ‘90’s – this book is not just because of “new atheism;” it’s not a response, as much as it is an addressing of genuine questions bubbling in culture for a long time.
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Bananas with Larry Norman

For just over a month now I've been trying to come up with a proper response to the passing of Christian rock legend Larry Norman. Nothing's been adequate, so here are some memories instead:

The first time I ever played for a paying audience was as the opening act for a Larry Norman concert at Glad Tidings Church in Vancouver. My teen-aged brother was the concert promoter (now you know how I got the gig.)

To my brother Chris and me (and to many others), Larry was already a legend back then. We'd freaked out to "I Wish We'd All Been Ready", campfired to "Sweet Song of Salvation", felt dangerous and cutting edge to "Why Should the Devil Have all the Good Music" and worn out our cassettes to "The Outlaw" and "Why Don't You Look Into Jesus". What blew our minds was that Larry agreed to stay at our house (which was our parents' house), and I have a particularly poignant memory of sitting on our couch watching Sesame Street and eating bananas with him.

Tags | Music
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