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Psalm 8 Reloaded June 29, 2006

Posted by fajita in Psalms Reloaded.

God, you rock!!! If I were to look in every single place on this earth to find the coolest thing, I would still come to the conclusion that you are the best.

I look up into the sky at night and see the stars, the moon, the Milky Way, and even the Northern Lights sometimes, and think, you’re not cheap. When you do a creation, you do it right. There is more to see and know about this universe than could ever bee known in one thousand lifetimes. Yes, you spare no expense in creating the awesome. Even little kids know this. They are amazed by the moon and stars. They point and say, “look, the moon,” and they are lost in wonder. Is that not praise? Is that not worship? What enemy can say a word about your creation? Their mouths are shut because they are as amazed as the little kids, even though they don’t say it. Too selfish. Too proud.

When I think of all of your wonders in space, the planets, meteors, galaxies and black holes, how huge it all is, how small I am compared to it, how small we all are, I wonder why you even care about us. Really now, doesn’t bigger mean better? Why would you be so concerned about little people on a little planet? Aren’t there bigger and better things to care about? Why us? Why humanity? Although, it is almost like people are little angels, somehow glorious and honorable. You did make people to be in charge of things on this little world. We have to take care of the animals and birds and fish and bugs and all that. We are in charge of little things in kind of the same way you are in charge of big things. Wow, God, you just blew my mind!

God, you rock!!!


Blessed are those surrounded by good people June 29, 2006

Posted by fajita in Grad School Life.
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One thing I am already learning about life in a doctoral program (even though I have not started yet) is that there is much to consider, weigh, and decide upon. Already I have several opportunities, and there are most certainly more to come. Boredum will not be a problem, I can know what for sure.

When facing challenges and tough deicsions, it is good to know that the people surrounding you are good people. Right now, I feel awash in that luxury. So, I am grateful for that.

What makes for a good person in your corner? Feel free to weigh in here, but I’ll get the list started.

1. Honesty. When you have someone in your corner, you want them to tell the truth, which leads into the next quality.

2. Boldness. Sometimes honesty is easy, but sometimes it is hard. Everyone needs people in their corner who have the courage to speak boldly.

3. Generous. Mutual generosity seems to synergize in good relationships.

4. Protective. You want people in your corner looking out for your good and willing to go to the mat in order to accomplish that .

5. Affirming. A person in your corner should be good at finding what is good in you and accentuating that good quality.

6. Committed. As opposed to blind loyalty, which can be very counterproductive, a committed person does not depend on something as weak as agreement in order to remain committed. Rather, that person offers supprt not contingent upon agreement, but upon something deeper and more meaningful.   

Thusfar I have found that I am (and have been for a long time) awash in the kinds of relationships that give me some or all of these qualities. I am finding that my new emerging relationships in grad work are providing the same kind of thing.

So, what are the best qualities of the people in your corner?

The DaVinci Code: A Book Review June 28, 2006

Posted by fajita in Book Reviews, Christianity, DaVinci Code, Philosophy/Religion.
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I am the last person on earth besides Mark Elrod, the read this book. Forgive the 1000 day late review.

Dan Brown’s skill as a writer capable of drawing the reader to the next page is unquestionably fabulous. The success of The DaVinci Code is proof of that.

Now, some might say that it is the content of the book, the controversy therein, that has given him rise to fame. It is not. He’s such a good writer that he presented the already existing controvery in such a way as to catapult the controversy into popular culture in a way Elaine Pagels only wishes she could do. What Brown says in his book is most certainly found in many other places and at many other times. Most or none of his ideas are all that original, I am sure. Rather, it is his presentation of the “facts” through fiction that has catapulted him to stardom.

What is originial is the way in which makes a story from the “facts.” Brown is obviously most intelligent and may just have an enduring novel on his hands. He did what every good writer does: hit major themes (religion, sex, murder, crisis, disillusionamnet, etc) and weave them into a suspenseful tale that pushes the reader into a “what next?” mode that keeps the pages turning.

After reading the book, I understand what all the fuss is about. The way in which the characters readily undo Sophie’s “faith” (which frankly wasn’t much to begin with), and convince her of a new faith was impressive. Not that she adopts paganism, but rather that she becomes more accepting of it – more accepting and sympathetic toward pagan sex rituals, those her grandfather was deeply embedded into.

But beyond that, Brown uses his characters to place cracks into the faith of long held beliefs by Christians. He makes his characters sound so convincing that you begin to believe that he believes what he is say through his characters. That’s really good writing. What Brown believes personally, I don’t know, but if he did believe all of this stuff in this book, I wouldn’t be surprised. If he doesn’t believe it, then I am even more impressed with him as a writer.

What Brown does that so infuriates some Christians is that he privileges voices that Christians have traditionally marginalized and marginalizes the traditional Christian voice. And he does it with surgical precision. And that’s the thing about a book – you can’t talk back to it, leave comments (like you can to a blog), or really have any say.

That is frustrating for Christians not to have a say, especially with something as powerful and successful as this book.

Some might think that Brown has an axe to grind against the Catholic Church, and he very well may, but that is beside the point. What Brown has successfully done is given rise to a cottage industry of DaVinci Code Books. I am not sure how they are selling, but one thing is for sure, people are talking about faith. People are thinking about the Bible. People are thinking about church. Brown has got people talking baout things that they were not previously talking about. He may have done it better than Mel Gibson did as couple years ago with The Passion of the Christ.

Or, it is possible that all the DaVinci Code functions as is an ink blot that says more about the reader than it does about the book. Maybe all it has done is to firm up people’s pre-existing resolve. Wellll, could be, but I bet there are some who have always had a bunch of questions and are now finally freed to ask them because of Dan Brown’s book.

I say thatnks to Dan Brown for his efforts and his conversation starter. I just hope that Christians can act like Jesus and not like idiots in response to this book.

If you want a smart person’s take on the book,

check this out—–> The Gospel According To The DaVinci Code

3 Months of Grief June 28, 2006

Posted by fajita in family, Grief.

Today marks 3 months from the day my father passed away.

Last night I watched World News Tonight, with Charlie Gibson, and there was a story about the Navy finding a lost WWII sub. They interviewed the daughter of one of the men who died on that sub. She’s of course, in her 50’s or so, but they showed a picture of her as a baby being held by her father.

It was too much for me. I felt heavy, tired, sad. I ate dinner, but I wasn’t really present. My wife said I looked like I was going to go to bed early tonight. It was written all over my face. I ate dinner and went to my bedroom and closed the door.

I wept.

There I was in my mind standing next tom my father’s hospital bed watching him slowing shut down. For some reason they couldn’t keep one of his eyes shut, so there it was open. Eerie. I wept in my bed as I imagined myself weeping by his bed.

Then I was at the funeral. I see him in his blue shirt lying in the casket. He looks like a proud man, though so much broken.

I drift off from weeping to sleeping.

At 8:28 PM, my 6 year old son wakes me up. I tell him that I am sad and he tells me there has to be some way to forget about being sad. He hugs me.

I wake up to tuck my kids into bed. My 8 year old daughter asks me to tell a “Grampa Jim” story. I tell them about how he worked full time as a janitor and also had an early morning paper route. He worked really hard to make enough money for a house and food. Besides my father’s sense of humor, it was his willingness to work his tail off in order to provide for the family financially that I appreciated.  

I stayed awake for a while and then hit the sack at abut 11:00 PM, feeling much, much better.

Grateful June 27, 2006

Posted by fajita in family.

We have an offer on our house. We are likely going to accept it. It’s not a great offer, but when your house is on the market 9 months, any offer is welcome news.

Although the asking price is a little higher than the purchase price we made 5 years ago, and after fees and closing costs, we’re losing a little, we’re grateful.

Why grateful?

I have had a long and hard lesson these 9 months of lowering our price, gettings lots of showings and no takers, getting a new roof (cha-ching), punching calculator buttons, looking at the Minnesota housing market, only to learn that I do not rely on housing markets and equity for my provision.  

It is indeed liberatng to know that there is more to life and provision than the housng market. Over the past several years in the housing boom it has been very seuctive to gain a belief that the market can be trusted. Markets of any kind are not to be relied upon. Used? Sure. Counted on? Faith placed in? Hopes invested in? Not a good idea.

I am grateful to be released from the tyrranny of the housing market. I genuinely do not care that placing money under a mattress would have been a better investment than my house. Why such poor financial sense? Because God doesn’t make financial sense.

My worst case scenario in life involves God loving me as a son. How is that a bad deal?

Buffet Blesses Gates June 26, 2006

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.
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According to NPR, Warren Buffet, the world's 2nd wealthiest man, is giving most of his 37 billion dollars to the world's wealthiest man, Bill Gates. Check it out here. Or read about it in Fortune here.

This is good news. The reason this is good news has to do with the fact that Buffet is giving the dough to the Gates Foundation, famous for funding vaccinations.  

What is novel about this is that Buffet is not waiting around until he dies to get a foundation moving with his wealth. He's goig to be alive to see what good his money does, at least for a while. Also, the fact that he is not creating the Buffet Foundation, is unique. He has no need to celebrate himself with a named foundation when there is one already doing a fine job of helping make this world a better place. He is also avoiding the huge costs of creating a foundation for that much money. Always the shrewd money man.

I am impressed with Buffet's generosity. He's one of those rich guys that you wonder if he really cares. The fact that he is giving away more money than small countries generate with their GDP does not necessarily make him a caring person, but it does at least put that huge capital resource into something worthwhile and not merely into more American consumerism.

So, in honor of Warren Buffet adn his radical generosity, I say, three cheers

Hip, hip, hooray!!!!!

Hip, hip, hooray!!!!!

Hip, hip, hooray!!!!!

A Little Something June 26, 2006

Posted by fajita in A Little Something, Christianity, Health.
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Baptists better stick to Diet Coke and Dasani.

Bono on money to Africa – 2 kinds of aid.

Clint Davis was a missionary in Africa. His blog is worthy.

79 year old woman convicted of murdering 85 year old boyfriend.

What's the best age to marry?

Do you find yourself reading the Bible, but wishing you knew how to read the bible? This one might have some promise.

Huh? June 24, 2006

Posted by fajita in A Little Something, family, Humor.

chewable.jpegSo, I was in Nashville this weekend and went to a palce in Franklin called, The Factory. In the bathroom at The Factory is a vending maching (looks like a gumball machine) that sells the Chewable Toothbrush.

Now, I have been to restaurants with the Cosco sized mouth wash dispensers in the bathroom and that made . I have been to places with free mints in a little basket at the check out. I have seen mint vending machines.

This, however, is something that goes over the top.

My lame-o brother in law wants credit for this "find" and for the idea of blogging it.

You buy this, chew it up, and spit it out when your teeth are "clean." This goes beyond the little finger puppet looking toothbrush thingy that never really caught on. What is the point of this chewable "toothbrush?" If you're really that toothbrush dependent, then you will bring a travel toothbrush with your where ever you go.

Therapy in TV and Movies June 23, 2006

Posted by fajita in Family Science, Media.

I am teaching a counseling course this Fall and I am wanting to gather some TV or movie clips that show counselors counseling. These can be serious or silly.

Here is what I have so far (please add):

What about Bob?

Alias (can't remember which season – anyone know?)

Prince of Tides

Vegietales ("I Love My Lips" music video)

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Who will be #50,000? June 23, 2006

Posted by fajita in Blog Community, Blogging.

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