The End

When you title a blog "Better Things Ahead" you are setting a high standard. It indicates that the future will be better than the past. Or, it could be seen as a blanket excuse against any poorly written entry. After all, if the promise is that there will be better things ahead, the reader can always assume that time will only improve the blog's quality. Its kind of like an inverted warning side; instead of instructing you that there are sharp curves ahead, this blog's title indicates that if this entry causes you nausea, don't fear, there will be smooth sailing eventually.

In truth, though, the title of this blog has no relation to the quality of the writing (my apologies to those of you who were already hoping that future entries would demonstrate a marked improvement.) This blog is about work and about life, and anymore those two are the same thing. As business students will tell you, you always are supposed to know your end-goals before launching a plan, In the final analysis, its the end that matters; the degree to which you achieved your original intentions, that determine whether your plan, and your life, was a success.
And so, this blog is written as a reminder that we should look towards the end. At the time, we recognize that what happens along the way is how we determine whether we end well. How do we reflect God's glory in a world that loves the darkness of sin? What does it truly mean to be a marketplace Christian and how do conduct our life, and our business, in a manner that honors Christ's love? Is being a Christian and working in a secular organization dymaterically opposed propositions? Why do they have a whole section in the paper called "Business" anyway?

I Blame Star Wars

Some days I feel like an absolute Luddite, part two.

I’m perhaps one of 137 people left on the planet who still gets the TV Guide in my mailbox every week. Not only am I dealing with ink on paper, it’s actually getting delivered by snail mail. Positively archaic.

Well, until someone figures out how you can soak in a tub and enjoy TVGuide. com, I’m sticking with my system. Besides, it gives my postman something to do.

The issue that arrived on Tuesday was dedicated to, joy of all joys, science fiction. Now I get it—not everyone is going to have that response. I realize not everyone is a scifi fan. But I am…and proud of it, particularly scifi in the movie and tv world. Words and catch phrases like “space-time continuum,” “Incoming wormhole!” and “So say we all” actually mean something to me.

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The Devilish Irony of Lust

Sin is ironic. 

That is, it stems from our ignorance about our actual motivations and the potential consequences for our behavior. 

Consider the sin of lust (which, he noted ironically, if you want to be ‘authentic’ is a great sin to confess because everyone suffers from it).  Lust is sometimes portrayed as a desire for sexual activity that is too strong.  For men, it frequently (and unfortunately) leads to viewing pornography.

But here the (devilish) irony kicks in.  What presumes to be an overwhelming love for the body—for other bodies—actually leads to a rejection of bodies entirely.  In a provocative article in New York Magazine (that is too risqué to link to here), Naomi Wolf points out that young men who surrender to their desire for pornography lose interest in living, breathing women.

Online Aesthetics, Internet Kindness

This morning, on my way to work, I opened the latest issue of the New Yorker and was drawn into an article entitled “Friend Game”, which covers the MySpace-related suicide of thirteen-year-old Megan Meier. You can read the full article here.

You probably read the story and were as outraged as everyone else; Megan was first wooed, then harassed by a fake sixteen-year-old boy whose MySpace profile was set up and maintained by neighbors, parents of a friend with whom she’d had a quarrel. The situation eventually came to a head, and Megan hung herself from a closet rod with a cloth belt. Months passed before the reprehensible details came out, and the community – and worldwide – reaction has been loud and clear, but the adults responsible for the harassment haven’t legally committed any crime and can’t really be prosecuted.
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Fathers of (but not In) the Home

“We now know.”

Those are three very fun words to utter. They’re a trump card in any conversation, because what you know is coming next is some utterance that comes from the royal priesthood of scientists.

“We now know…” Try it sometime. Your friends will be in awe.

For instance, we now know that divorce widens the relational distance between fathers and teenagers.

Game. Set. Match.

Of course, that conclusion (which probably cost hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars!) is not all that interesting or surprising. The really interesting part is buried in the article:

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It was my last day in Philadelphia and I was trying to fit in everything I had missed on my agenda.  I was torn between trying to see everything on my list, and taking the time to take some photos.  When I have a camera in my hands, nothing else seems to matter.  The clock stands still.  People around me disappear.  External noises and distractions fall silent.  It's just me and my camera. 
I decided I was going to fit in as much as I could without getting obsessed with taking photos even though I had decided to take my camera along.   I'm not sure why this made sense at the time...but it sounded like a good idea.   One stop on my list was an indoor farmer's market.  I had heard the Amish had some food stands there and I had a hanker'n for some "Shoo Fly Pie." (Being Pensylvania Dutch, this is a staple for any family function so I wanted to get a taste of something that reminded me of my childhood while in town.
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Jesus and the Buddha - Word of Promise

      Jesus was a teacher. That’s what the word “master” means in the older versions of the Bible. Jesus was also called “rabbi”, which is another word that means “teacher.”

           However, there is a theological danger in viewing “teacher” as the Lord’s primary role. The path that liberal theology took in the nineteenth century began with viewing Jesus as primarily a great teacher, even as the greatest teacher of all times. The problem is this: what Jesus taught was not essentially different than what great teachers had taught before. Moses, the Buddha, Socrates, Solomon, Lao Tse and other great men taught people how to live, think and act in ways that turned their hearts toward others.

Pregnancy is Not a Punishment

Pregnancy is not a punishment.

I haven’t seen Juno yet, but it is inspiring no little amount of debate.  The latest blow comes from Caitlan Flanagan in the New York Times, who calls it a “fairy tale” for the way it depicts the adoption process. 

The movie “Juno” is a fairy tale about a pregnant teenager who decides to have her baby, place it for adoption and then get on with her life… The final scene of the movie shows Juno and her boyfriend returned to their carefree adolescence, the baby — safely in the hands of his rapturous and responsible new mother — all but forgotten…And that’s why “Juno” is a fairy tale. As any woman who has ever chosen (or been forced) to kick it old school can tell you, surrendering a baby whom you will never know comes with a steep and lifelong cost.

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Learning From a Cheapskate

I was watching the Today Show the other day, and on comes this guy by the name of Jeff Yeager. Matt Lauer, who was doing the interview, has dubbed Yeager "the ultimate cheapskate." Indeed, that's the name of a new book he has written. Mr. Lauer was very respectful and seemingly quite taken with Mr. Yeager and his sometimes amusing eccentricities when it comes to saving a buck. (One amusing/disgusting example that stuck out was Yeager's advice to take the barf bags from the airplane when you fly, because "they make great sandwich bags.")

I have to admit that I was impressed with the interview and the almost childlike innocence that Mr. Yeager displayed. This was no schtick. The guy actually lives his life in such a way that frugality is a virtue, not an oddity. Maybe I was ready to hear his advice, because I've been doing some thinking lately about the state of the economy, my own included. There's a lot of gloom out there, some of it coming from people who have heretofore been optimistic about America's economic condition.

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Dancing With Truth

In recent discussions of the emergent church and the influence of postmodernism on modern Christians, there has been a lot of heated discussion about the nature of truth. The debate usually goes something like this:

One side says that truth has to be discovered in the context of our lives—that our culture, our upbringing, our experiences (or lack of them) all contribute to a difficulty in arriving at simple propositional statements that are true everywhere at all times. And our fallenness and human limitations stand in the way of our being able to grasp it in simplicity. Truth must be found in the living of our lives. Now, I have some sympathy for this kind of thinking. But I am not prepared to give up the idea that truth can be expressed rationally and in propositions. Absolutes may not be easy to get at, but I think it is intellectually lazy and irresponsible to give up on them and simply drift into some sort of Christianized version of relativism where the truth is whatever is true for me.

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