Friday, December 30, 2005
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Tonight was our first session (which means that yesterday was the interminable drive). We have Pastor Ronnie Stevens bringing the word, Aaron Spiro is taking us before the Lord in worship and Anneli Anderson is painting in the background while Ronnie teaches. Pretty cool.
Our theme is "shaken to the core" and we're looking each day at Isaiah 6. I was very pleased to be introduced to the fascinating science/art/pictures of Gary A. Glatzmaier, who has graciously given us permission to use his "photo" of the molten core of a gas giant (as soon as he figured out that we weren't trying to use it to advance intelligent design). This, of course, explains the mechanism that likely plays a major role in maintaining the banded zonal winds on the surfaces of Jupiter and Saturn.
There's about a thousand people here and I would say the vibe is very very good. Seems like the Lord is gearing up to really do something awe-inspiring here.
You can pray for me... on Saturday I'll be trying to help us focus on the "Sent" part of our week, introducing all of the missions opportunites for students within CCC. You can check out the recruiting website I'm working on, which should be mostly ready to go by Saturday.
Overall, having fun, seeing old friends, enjoying doing ministry together with my family. Pretty nice. And how's it going out there in cyberland?
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Saturday, December 24, 2005
For all you silly nonsensical people out there who believe that Saint Nicholas was just a regular Christian who did some good stuff once, now is your chance to be proven completely wrong... by SCIENCE!
That's right. Science now allows us to watch Santa's progress around the globe, and proves that he is the red-covered magical reindeer-driver we all have come to know from animated television specials.
1) Do not live where dinosaurs live.
2) Do not go to places with names like "Skull Island." There is a reason they are named that. You don't want to go there.
3) If you are a woman and you happen, against all my advice, to go to a place called Skull Island where dinosaurs live then you should not spend any time relaxing in your cabin wearing only a slip and a flimsy robe. You should always be wearing a safari outfit with boots on, because it is highly likely that the natives will try to sacrifice you to something, or a monster will become obsessed with you or that enormous prehistoric insects or vampire bats will attack.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Okay, scary warning out of the way, here's what I liked. This novel tells the story of a little Greek town under the Turkish occupation near the beginning of the 20th century. The town is planning for the passion play of the following year (a festival in which the entire week of Christ's passion is played out in real time by members of the village). They choose the players for Christ, the apostles and Judas and then the story begins as the members of the play begin to take on the characteristics of the people they are meant to portray in the passion play.
Here's what is amazing: this novel is really, truly, at-the-core about the Burning Hearts Revolution. Manolios, the shepherd chosen to play the role of Jesus becomes more and more Christ-like as the year advances and most of the action of the novel comes from this continuing transformation. We see people throughout the novel who are pagan (the Agha who rules the town), secularists having an outward form of Christianity (the village priest), some who are actually still worshipping Apollo and the Greek gods but using Christian names, and then those who, for the first time, are interacting with Christ and allowing him to transform them.
It's a fascinating story, and manages not to give all its surprises away until the last page. Nicely done, easy reading, at turns funny, moving and passionate.
As near as I can tell it's out of print. The link above will take you to Amazon where there's some used copies (as cheap as a dollar!). Let me know if you read it so I can call and just demolish you with questions about your thoughts on it.
20yrold: --but I'm not going to do that because I am in college.
8yrold: What are you studying?
8yrold2: Are you going to be a teacher?
20yrold (offended): A professor!
8yrold: I don't like English.
8yrold2: I'm not very good at it.
20yrold (supposed future professor): Well, English isn't for everyone.
Seeing White Christmas on the big screen was a big treat! WC was the first movie filmed in Vista Vision and I was amazed at what a difference seeing it on the big screen made for this movie. It was funnier, more affective and generally more fun. I don't think I have ever seen it in widescreen before last night. Bing Crosby! Danny Kaye! Rosemary Clooney! Good stuff!
Special thanks to Mom for watching the kids and to Krista for being a good movie buddy, coming up with the idea and asking Mom to watch the kids. Special thanks to me for being a deep lover of movies and especially our old friend the holiday musical.
It appears, first of all, that you are completely torn on the monkey question. A full 31% of you said "AAAAH ANYTHING BUT MONKEYS!" and another 31% said that you wouldn't mind monkeys coming through your computer if they were teacup monkeys. Who knew everyone liked teacup monkeys? As a special bonus to my loyal readers I have included this bizarre article on monkeys controlling computers with their minds alone. And of course it's completely true.
As to how tough I am, the overwhelming response was that 41% of you feel that I am "tough like a teddy bear". OH YEAH? WHY I OUGHTTA... WELL... I OUGHT TO... UH... getting tired of yelling. Losing energy. Someone hold me! As a special bonus to my loyal readers I have included this bizarre article on teddy bears controlling computers with their minds alone. And of course it's completely true.
And when it comes to subscribing to this blog 62% of you would rather live in another country! I have a link for using your computer to control the minds of others and make them do whatever you want (live overseas, sign up for your blog). But to be honest it's just too creepy.
Me: Okay, Z, what color Barbie do you want?
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Here is the key fact you need to know in realizing that sideburns are in: I have grown some.
(NOTE: It might be important for you to realize what my definition of "in" entails. Here it is. "In": Whatever it is that Matt is currently doing. What he used to be doing is "retro" what he soon will be doing is "visionary.")
I have never had self esteem problems, as I have always been a part of the "in" crowd.
I have included a picture of Ambrose Burnside, the civil war general who gave us the name for those hairy fashion statements.
And just to show that Ambroses's fashion sense is not an historical fluke but a visionary act of genius, I have also included a picture of sumo wrestling sensation "tiny" Takanotsuru.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Note: This is for posterity, so please be honest as you vote.
Anyway, we've got about a quarter of an inch so far, which doesn't do much other than make our compost pile look pretty.
The photo above is the work of
Kenneth Libbrecht, who has a whole series of books and calendars and whatnot chock full of God's exquisite little sculptures. Neat!
Meanwhile, I am hoping enough piles up around here for me to take the kids sledding at the elementary school down the street!
My youngest daughter ("A") turns three years old in nine days. And she can't get enough lip stick. About a week ago she told us that she had some lipstick upstairs, went up and grabbed it off the bathroom sink and has been applying it once or twice a day since then.
Me: Why do you need that stuff?
A: I just do.
Krista says that A told her "it keeps my lips moist."
Where do they learn this stuff?
Warning: Do not use her chapstick if she offers it because it is really destroyed and yucky.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Me (yelling from downstairs): Then use it honey.
A (sound is getting closer): I already went.
Me (moving toward stairs): Go get on the potty.
A (still getting closer): I already went poop.
Me (almost in view): *Sigh* Where did you go?
A: In my hand.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Also, I was interested to see that the advertising campaign for "Brokeback Mountain" (the story of two cowboys that pretty much without meaning it "fall in love" and then "have some sex") that they use the phrase "Love is a force of nature." Again we have this emphasis on something unavoidable, unstoppable and possibly unwanted.
Which of course brings us to the end of love. When we fall, we get up again. "Forces of nature" (yes, even hurricanes) abate in time. So love may pull our strings for a while but in time sanity returns and we have no obligation to keep going.
It seems like such a capricious force. "I never meant to cheat on my spouse, but, well, I fell in love with someone else." What a tremendous steaming pile of crap. Excuse me. Love made me say that.
And of course I have to believe that at some level what we are talking about is physical attraction. One of the reviewers of "Brokeback Mountain" referred to the human sex drive as one of the core motivators of human beings. Right. Maybe in a liscentious and hedonistic society that is incapable of teaching human beings to desire righteousness and self control. Oh, wait. I forgot I lived in America.
I'm not sure what we're talking about but it sure ain't love.
Some new suggestions:
"I got steamrolled by love"
"love knocked me out"
"love mugged me"
"love blinded me" (oops we already say that)
"love kicked me in the head" (I like that one)
"love bit me in the nose" (nice!)
"love gave me an excuse to have sex with whomever" (good one!)
"love casued me to be committed even though times were hard" (whaaaaaat?)
"Love taught me to be faithful to my spouse"
And so on.
What does this show us? Well. Maybe that too many of us have never been loved. Or loved someone else. That's just a guess. Add some sayings of your own!
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Krista and I joined forces to list everywhere in the world we have ever been. It amounts to about 5% of the nations in the world. Hmmm. Have to work on that.
And now, I would like to point out to the Presidents (or whatever) of East Timor, Nigeria, Spain and Chile that I clearly had nothing to do with "that little issue" you mentioned to my lawyers.
Make your own, I don't care you big Copy Cat.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
I have a couple of friends who work "in the industry" and they saw "King Kong" this week. The basic feedback I'm hearing is that any frame that has an enormous gorilla in it is well done and satisfying, and every scene without an enormous gorilla is lame. Then again, I guess we could say that about most movies. Anyway, my friends say to lower your expectations so you can enjoy the movie.
Dearest Television-- I remember in my youth what an essential part of my daily life you were... school days, weekends, early mornings, even in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep, you were always available for me.
Then I grew up and you seemed to lose some of your sparkle. And then I moved to Asia, and I remember losing any ability to understand you, though I loved it when you acted out sumo wrestling for me.
And lately I have found you an inconstant companion at best. It seems like you are always saying the same thing over and over. Locking you in the closet doesn't seem to make much difference.
To be honest, I find most of what you have to say insipid, boring, alarmist and laughable. But I'm still looking forward to seeing you tonight, dear friend. You are one of the few people I try to make time for every day. And even though "LOST" is a rerun tonight, I'm not sure I've seen it. I guess what I'm writing to say is, thank you. Thank you for being the kind of friend that requires minimum interaction (although I must admit I like yelling at you at all the time).
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Mom: What's the "key" to Christmas?
Z: These keys from the tree!
Mom: I mean, what is the main reason for Christmas?
Z: Santa Claus!
Mom: No, I mean whose birthday is it?
A: Mine! (it's true... her birthday is the 27th)
Mom: Who else?
Z and A: Jesus!
Z: I was too afraid to talk to Santa Claus last year. I didn't know what to say to him.
Me: You could just tell him thank you for the gift.
Z: No, I mean I don't know what to say when he asks me if I've been good this year.
Me: Well, what do you think? Were you good this year?
Z: I don't know. Do you think I was good or bad?
Me: Well, you were good a lot of the time, but sometimes you were bad.
Z: I'll just tell him I was good all the time.
Me (laughing): That would be lying, though. That's not good.
Z: He's just pretend, Dad. He wouldn't know I was lying.
Me: I guess that's true.
Z: Only Mommys and Daddys know if you've been good or bad.
Monday, December 12, 2005
The jerkiness usually goes away tomorrow morning.
1) My wife is an actual, certifiable genius (in the sense of having an exceptionally high intelligence quotient, not in the sense of being either a tutelary deity nor in the sense of being "slightly smarter" than average people).
2) I have an actual phobia of sharks. Not a reasonable, "One should not swim with carnivores larger than you with many rows of sharp teeth" but a "I don't like to swim in swimming pools in the dark just in case a 15 foot long shark somehow got in here" and "I am a little nervous about posting pictures of sharks to my blog" full-fledged phobia.
MY IDEA: What if we lifted all the hunting restrictions against great white sharks and killed them all dead?
MY ONLY CONCERN: Would this create a huge imbalance in the ecosystem that would eventually cause the earth to spin out of orbit and into the sun?
MY THESIS: No, it wouldn't. We would be fine, in fact better without the nasty sharks everywhere. Yuck! I don't like them one bit.
MY RESEARCH: Krista's (my wife) thesis for college was called "Stability in a two-population predator-prey interaction". In this paper she proved mathematically (using chaos theory math and a whole bunch of other voodoo) that the introduction of a certain predator fish to this lake in Africa would inevitably result in the destruction of the native species (she was right). So I figured she could give some insight into this question of whether destroying every great white shark on earth would mean minor inconveniences or a happy happy place for all of us.
Krista falls into the "skeptical of the benefits of killing sharks" camp. She claims this would create a massive shift in the ocean's ecosystem (although she admits it would likely balance out eventually). Her argument is much too lengthy, intelligent and probably-right for me to include it here (it would undermine my own argument).
As a rebuttal to her arguments, which I will not include here, allow me to say: I bet there would be more dolphins and more fish we like to eat if we eliminated sharks.
As to her disturbing question, "Don't you think God made sharks for a reason?" allow me to answer, "Yes, as a punishment for eating from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil."
CONCLUSION: I know you agree with me. Look, for instance, at the following pictures. One is the ocean with sharks, one is the ocean without sharks. One is a picture of the tooth of a significantly-larger-than-a-great-white megalodon, all of which are extinct and I think we are doing just fine without them. Okay, to be honest I chickened out. I am not putting even a picture of those things on my blog. But you know what they look like.
Christmas list addition: harpoon gun.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Guess how much this whole meal cost? I do not want to make you cry so I won't tell you. Start in the lower left where we have a lovely Fish Dish... yum... followed clockwise by shrimp, roast duck, some sort of soup, this great corn dish-thingy, rice, something-I-don't-know-what-it-is-but-good, the best tofu ever, then on the inside we have sweet and sour pork and broccoli. Man. I am hungry.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
I told them before they left not to be afraid of the Beast, that he was only pretend. Z said, "I KNOW he is only pretend." A said, "First he was the beast but then he turned into... something ELSE! Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaa!" I am not sure what that means but it is apparently very funny.
(Note: as I look at the Beast more closely I think I might have been afraid, too. He looks like an enormous dust mite with a blue jacket.)
(I think about this for about ten seconds).
A: Oh yeah, jet lag.
Friday, December 09, 2005
Thursday, December 08, 2005
You may have noticed that I recently disparaged Michael Crawford's Christmas album. Well, as it turns out my wonderful Mother-in-law (Hi, Janet!) noticed, and also noticed that she gave us this self-same album. This could create a whole 'nother series of postings about knowing who is reading your blog. Anyway, so, here's my explanation on Crawford's Christmas. You see, Crawford is also the "original" Phantom of the Opera. That is, the original Broadway phantom. The original screen phantom was Lon Chaney. So, the problem is, every time I hear Michael Crawford's voice I see the Phantom very clearly in my mind. So when he is singing "Jingle Bells" I see a man with a disfigured face and a cape dashing through the snow. I have posted a picture of the respectable Mr. Crawford looking his Christmas best, and then a picture of what is happening in my head when I am listening to this album. So, I guess if I ruled Christmas I would still allow this album, but not in my Christmas Court. So listen away, lovers of Crawford Christmas!
As you can see I made it home from Asia today. The trip was good, and while I didn't see everyone I hoped to see, I saw many of them. Here is what was waiting for me when I got home. My kids made "welcome home" cards. It makes me wonder what the dads who never come home are thinking.
Station Two (upon entry to Japan): Do you have any food items that you need to declare, sir?
Me: No, I do not.
Station three (at the US entry): Do you have any food items to declare, sir?
Station three: Step aside to the agriculture and food declaration line.
Station Four (the Agricultre import lane)
Aggie: Do you have any plants, fruit, vegetables, meat products or food?
Aggie: Are you sure?
Aggie: You don't have any plants?
Aggie: You don't have any food?
Aggie: Are you sure you don't have any food at all?
Me: I guess I have one granola bar.
Aggie: Granola bars are fine. Put your bag through the X-ray machine.
Station Five (unpacking)
Me: Hey! Look, a big pack of walnuts! I forgot about these.
The quite lovely TSA lady pointed to the X-ray screen (you know, the one you always look at as you walk through security and wonder how they can tell what anything is), pointed at a long, skinny object and asked, "What is that?"
Me: I don't know.
She: You will have to open the bag, sir.
Me: My friend is sending back gifts to America. I'm not sure what it is.
(I suddenly realize this sounds ridiculous... in this age, not to know what you are carrying for a friend onto an airplane! I see that I am in trouble. She points to the large, sealed cardboard box in my bag. I pull it out and she slits it open and starts unloading the contents... I am curious, too, to discover what this oblong and potentially dangerous object is and start digging through. I find... some chopsticks?)
Me: Is it these?
She (looking at the screen): I am not sure. Are they metal or wood?
Me: I don't know.
(At this point we both bend simultaneously over the bag and knock our heads together.)
She (rubbing her forehead): Okay. Pack it up again.
Me (rubbing my forehead): Is that what it was? The chopsticks.
(She shrugs. Me, too. I go to get my boarding pass.)
Comment #1 (to the TSA personell at the airport): Why aren't you stopping anyone else? This is totally inappropriate. I am going to write a letter to your airline and get you fired. Why aren't you stopping anyone else? This is the last time I am flying your airline.
TSA officer: (Stony silence as she goes about the grim work of patting him down)
Comment #2 (to the flight attendant; our eavesdroppee sits two rows behind me. I can hear him as well as smell the very powerful medicinal odor of something... I think a throat lozenge): You mut have some room in business class because I am going to get very uncomfortable in these here chairs. They are too small. And I'm going to write a letter about that security woman and get her fired.
Flight attendant: (good-natured laughter)
Comment #2 (cont.): No, I'm serious. Now see what you can do about this here chair.
Comment #3 (to the flight attendant as he is leaving the plane): Jesus loves you, and have a Merry Christmas.
So, sit back, relax and enjoy as I pull the sparkling jewels out of their common settings and place them here upon the velvety backdrop of my blog, where you can see them shimmer and twinkle without all the distractions of everyday life.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Nope. I'm not allowed to take guns when I travel. Today was a great travel day, though.
I somehow was able to print out a boarding pass on-line (which Northwest Air later assured me was impossible). I joked that maybe it was because I was a "VIP" and apparently they thought that might be the case because they didn't charge me for excess baggage. My flight left early, I had a choice of 30 movies (only one or two good ones of course), they moved me to a seat with no one next to me so I could stretch out, I got fed dinner, breakfast and dinner again, stretched my legs in Tokyo and then here I am... and with all my bags.
So. I'm here. Now for the marathon of meeting with people!
p.s. I didn't try it, but in Japan I saw a brand of water called "Pocari Sweat." Mmmmmm.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
I would do away with several Christmas albums.
Also. Trump would not be allowed to say "frickin'" during a kid's Christmas song (as he did on Letterman last night). In fact, he would not be allowed to sing Christmas songs except: 1) in the privacy of his own Tower 2) at church 3) while Christmas caroling.
I know, I am a harsh master. But I still hope you will vote for me to be in charge of Christmas next year.