Be a Bibliophile

I am a firm believer in making books a part of the quotidian routine. When I was young, I read voraciously – mostly because we didn’t watch TV, except Wishbone on PBS, which was about books anyway – and often had three or four books going at a time. That continued into my teens, when my parents used a lot of literature in the homeschool curriculum we followed. In that way, I ended up getting a great basis in good books before I left high school.

But I went to a college where everyone was awarded a Bachelor of Science – even the “arts” majors – and I think I read about five books that weren’t straight textbooks in those four years, and three of those only because they were in a literature class. Reading stopped being a priority for me, and I forgot how much fun it was.
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Leading through Service

Every so often a buzz word catches on in the business world. It might be "synergy",  "positioning" or "the long tail" (I kid you not) but somehow, some way, through the magic of pop culture an innocuous word suddenly starts appearing in boardrooms across the nation. Often times the people uttering the words can't even define them, but that doesn't stop them from encouraging their adoption. Usually there's a banner company like GE that advocates its acceptance and business leaders (who are more rightly called followers in this regard) flood to training seminars to learn the habits of those who have proven effective. It's management by the masses and usually the process leads to nothing but the readiness to adopt the next guru's cure.

A few years ago, the cause of hysteria in the business world was "servant leadership" Books from previously unknown authors abounded. Everyone was willing to get in on the act - to help leaders learn how to act like servants in order to further their own causes. This organizational mindset even had religious undertones which carried it further upstream. The idea was that if leaders embraced the notion to give of themselves for others, that they, and the organization would be better off. In certain respects, it worked.  Given the choice between leading humbly and leading with pride, the former is bound to beat the latter in the long-run every time.
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Who am I: Juno and the Crisis of Identity

“Know thyself.”

That’s what the oracle at Delphi told Socrates (see: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure), prompting Socrates to go an a quest for understanding. It’s good advice, and like all good advice, comes across as devastatingly simple and easy.

One of the problems I criticized Juno for previously was its perspective on marriage. The father claims that marriage works when you find someone who will love you “for exactly who you are.” It’s a nice sentiment that a lot of us probably share. It’s certainly a line I use anytime I want to be angry or upset with my wife—“Just as I am, dear! Take me just as I am!”

Of course, when Juno’s father initially chastises her for having a baby, she laments, “I don’t know who I am anymore.

Tags | Film

No-Names for Jesus

“Christian mission is no longer a matter of missionaries from the West going to the rest of the world. Rather, the growth of Christianity in Latin America, Africa and parts of Asia is eclipsing that of the Western church. In the third millennium of the Christian era, Christian mission is truly global, with missionaries from all places going to all people.” (Escobar, Samuel, The New Global Mission, InterVarsity Press, 2003).
When God promised Abraham that all nations (that is, all people groups) would be blessed through him in Gen 12:1-3, he was revealing his global plan of redemption. God may have chose the Israelites to reveal his plan through, but, he was making way for every person, throughout the globe and throughout all time, to receive redemption and come back to him in whole hearted fashion.
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10 (oops, make that 7) things I hate...

It's not easy being a Christ follower these days because, as I've said before, the name "Jesus" and most of the other God words used to declare loyalty to Christianity are used to justify everything from greed to hatred. If that were all there was to it, I'd throw it all away and never look back, but Jesus Himself, the redemptive story of history, the remarkably captivating ethic of God's kingdom, along with all those Christ followers embodying humility, love, simplicity, and generosity are all too compelling - intellectually, emotionally, historically, philosophically, and more.

Still, there are plenty of frustrations for those walking this road. I remember watching 10 Things I Hate about You while my kids were in High School. A young actor, Heath Ledger, played the boyfriend. He would go on to play a groundbreaking role in Brokeback mountain. Never mind what you think of the ethics of homosexuality; in the real world, real people wrestle with longings that don't fit into tidy categories, and I'd argue that this film brought the conversation of a painful subject into the public arena. That there's a church group standing outside Ledger's funeral shouting hateful slogans because of his role in this film sickens me. Once again, "Christians" are adding fuel to already inflamed misconception that all Christians hate gay people, and would rather shout at them than know them, love them, learn to be friends with them, listen to their story.
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Tags | Film

U2-3D: Even Better Than the Real Thing

Yesterday I drove almost two hours north of my home in Eugene, Oregon to my nearest IMAX theater in order to see U2 3D, the new concert film by veteran rock group U2. It was an amazing experience, not to be missed by even casual U2 fans.

U2 3D is a live concert film, shot at nine stops on the South American leg of the Vertigo Tour in 2006. Longtime U2 watchers have been able to enjoy a number of DVD releases of their shows, but the difference here is that the concerts were shot using nine pairs of Sony CineAlta cameras to produce the first-ever 3-D multi-camera live shoot. More than 100 hours of footage have been edited down to an unforgettable 85 minutes of sheer musical energy and excitement.

U2 always puts on a great live show, but to see them projected in three dimensions on a large screen gives you an experience that may even surpass actually being there. The temptation might have been to throw in a bunch of cheesy 3-D effects to wow the audience. Instead, you just get a great concert experience that makes you feel that one moment you are right on the stage with the band, and the next moment that you are on audience level, trying to see past the sea of raised hands. And yes, there are some pretty startling moments: when Adam Clayton swings his bass guitar around and it seems to protrude right out of the screen; when a jumble of projected words and phrases collapse and rain down upon the band; and when you want to ask the person in front of you to put their arms down so you can see—and then you realize they are part of the film. It is wonderfully larger-than-life. To quote the title of one of their songs, it might be “Even Better Than the Real Thing.”

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Tags | Music

Friday Poetry #3: Linford Detweiler

Today’s poem comes from Linford Detweiler, the piano-playing half (usually) of Cincinnati husband-wife musical duo Over the Rhine. Linford and his wife, Karin Bergquist, write some of the most heartbreaking and celebratory songs I’ve ever heard, and have garnered much critical acclaim. They’ve been making music for about twenty years, but if you’re just discovering them, let me recommend their two more recent albums, The Trumpet Child (which you can stream on their website for free!) and Drunkard’s Prayer (my personal favorite). They have an incredible story. It would be a mistake not to check them out.

Linford is a wordsmith and writes poetry as well, most of which you can find here.  He writes in the tradition of the Beats, in rhythmic free verse.  Some are conversational and some are more like impressionist paintings; some are quite long, and others are brief.
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The Best of Best

I have the best of best friends on the planet.

She knew I was getting ready to be out on the road on business for several days. She also knew that quite a few of our favorite shows actually have new episodes coming on while I would be on the road (she has satellite tv and DVR—she’s cool).

So, this morning, when I fired up my computer at work, there was an email waiting for me from her titled, “Reminder List.” In that email, she had carefully listed programs, days, and times of new episodes between now and when I return (11 hours in all!). I just need to follow her list when I program my VCR before I go and I’ll be home free.

It’s a thing of beauty.

But you what’s even more beautiful? Having a friend who knows me that well, who understands my life enough to know that a list like that is not only practical, it’s kind. She gets how much I enjoy tv, how watching beloved shows is a fun reward after spending time on the road. And she also knows that sometimes I’ve been a bit challenged in my taping skills (how many times has she heard my, “I can’t believe I messed up taping that show!” stories?) and is willing to lend a helping hand.

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Aushua - No Harm Done

So sorry for the long absence. A wedding, honeymoon, and preparing to move to Mongolia comes with a list of tasks that keeps my hands off the keyboard. The phrase that's been stuck in my head for the past week or so is, "there is never enough time." Though Kim and I are doing our best I know there will be loose ends here and, even worse, relationships we didn't get to invest in as much as wanted to before we left. It makes my heart heavy.

I'm sure there will be plenty of writing done on that in the future. In the mean time, here's a song that I have this weird mixture of pride and pure enjoyment in when I listen to it.

I've been blessed to have worked at New Noise with some of the most talented guys I've ever met, but at the same time I got to live with some amazing musicians as well. The four guys in Aushua lived in my house together for over a year - two in the house with me and two sharing a bunkbed in a dorm-style arranged garage. I first met Phil when I was at Concordia in 2002 and we sat next to each other in an English class. He answered a roommate ad I placed a few years later and lived with me for a year before his two brothers, Eric and Lee, and their friend Nate moved in.

I've gotten to watch them grow up as a band and as people over the past year especially as they went from a band that looked clumsy and awkward on stage to a band that is commanding and passionate. The easiest, and laziest, comparison you can make about Aushua is that they sound like a young U2 but from all of the VH1 Classic concerts they watched at the house I know they have influences ranging from Echo and the Bunnymen to Bruce Springsteen.

That's what makes a great band now that I think about it; they watch, they listen, they learn. I would come home from work and the four of them would be on the couch with some key bachelor recipe of frozen pizza or some kind of potato dish, attentively watching a classic concert of bands you have to be reminded of. Most bands mimic - like when you walk into a Guitar Center and you hear the endless sea of flubbed Zeppelin or Green Day riffs. Great bands pull pieces from their predecessors or peers and make them their own to the point that its their subtleties that make them truly great and Aushua has that. Their sense of melody in all of the instrumentation will be the first thing that you notice, but that just opens the door to you hearing the atmosphere and space that exists between the layers in their music. Because of their influences their music sounds familiar and new at the same time, but at the same time completely distinct. That distinction is what I'm proud of, the maturity; but thats probably just because I know them.

Anyway, I hope you love it as much as I do and that my small words might give you an appreciation for who they are as a band. Just press play on that little grey player at the top of this post.

You can visit them online at

I'll write more soon.

There's just not enough time.



Tags | Music

Angels, Satan and Demons

Bruce & Stan interviewed me on their TV show, Christianity 101 about what the Bible calls the spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12) and how this affects the Christian life.

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