Saturday, September 30, 2006

Just Say Nope to the Pope

"The most radical attack (against the popes) came from Oxford don John Wyclif. He argued that whatever political or religious authority church leaders had was based on their moral authority, so the decrees of an immoral pope had no weight at all. In fact, even a righteous pope was only the bishop of the city of Rome: the head of the worldwide church was Christ alone. He ended up concluding that the papacy - good pope or bad pope - was the Antichrist.
Wyclif challenged the universal idea that the church was the final authority over Christian life and belief, preferring to see the Bible as God's only revelation. Rome held the Bible in equally high esteem but insisted that only the church could interpret it reliably. Wyclif had no faith in Catholic hierarchy, and so his followers translated the scriptures into English to let ordinary people hear God's truth for themselves. This was anarchy, said the bishops; translation unauthorised by the church was bound to be twisted and heretical. 'Condemn the word of God in any language as heresy and you call God a heretic,' replied Wyclif"

As I've said before, I so regret not taking a church history class at seminary. This stuff is so interesting. I think Wyclif may be my new hero. It's hard to tell though. This book really is A Short History of Christianity. If any of you know of anything a bit more meaty, yet not too academic, let me know. I'm interested in reading more.

Source: A Short History of Christianity by Stephen Tomkins

Thursday, September 28, 2006


"John Patrick Shanley’s 2005 Pulitzer Prize-winning Doubt (it also won the Tony Award as best play that same year) is a riveting exploration of paranoia and suspicion in the Catholic Church. Set in a Bronx parochial school in 1964—just as the Vatican II reforms begin to transfigure the Church—evidence of a priest’s wrongdoing comes to light. Sister Aloysius, a strict school principal and traditionalist nun, faces the decision of a lifetime: Does she openly accuse a priest and give voice to her fear of his sinful actions, or does she bury her suspicions and leave room for doubt? This intense and personal power struggle between Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn ultimately calls into question both faith and justice in the shadows of this cloistered institution."*

We saw this play last night at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. It was great! Everything about it was top notch. The story, set in 1964, seems ripped from the headlines of not too long ago. The ending of the play is open ended. You don't really know if the priest is guilty or not. And, in the end, it doesn't seem to hurt his ministry at all. I found myself thinking back to my days in ministry and the fear of gossip. One accusation, false or otherwise, would have been the end of my ministry. Every minister faces this. It's part of the deal. Ministers have to be careful and take precautions to prevent even the appearance of wrongdoing. In the play, the priest's ministry is saved thanks to an aging, senile Monsignor. Should it have been? Was he guilty or not? We all have our doubts.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Time Enough At Last

A fellow blogger is culling his book collection down to his "deserted island picks." In the blog he asks what books would I keep? Ask and ye shall receive...whether you want it or not.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Boy's Life by Robert R. McCammon
Alas Babylon by Pat Frank
The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale
Riptide by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Ice Station by Matthew Reilly
The Dresden Files novels by Jim Butcher
The Harry Potter novels by J. K. Rowling.
Fragments by James F. David
Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon
FlashForward by Robert J. Sawyer
Hunter by James Byron Huggins

Jean-Michel Basquiat by Richard Marshall
Jean Dubuffet: Towards an Alternate Reality by Jean Dubuffet and Mildred Glimcher
Howard Finster, Stranger from Another World, Man of Visions Now on This Earth by Howard Finster

On Writing by Stephen King
The Writer's Block by Jason Rekulak
The Write Brain Workbook by Bonnie Neubauer

The Bible
What's So Amazing about Grace by Philip Yancey
Dangerous Wonder by Mike Yaconelli
Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts by Steve Turner
Following Jesus without Embarrassing God by Tony Campolo
Walk on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madelaine L'Engle

Comics and Graphic Novels
Elfquest by Richard and Wendy Pini
Fantastic Four Visionaries Volumes 1 -4 by John Byrne
Essential X-Men Volumes 1 -2
Bloom County (all of them)


That's all I can think of right now. It seems to be a fairly lowbrow selection. Guess this is about all it would take to entertain a neanderthal like me. Of course, I would want to take along a few books I haven't read yet...say about several hundred. My wish lists at Amazon and the library go on for miles and miles. They don't make a boat big enough to get all the books I would want to take to an island. But you know, right about now, being on an island with nothing but books seems like such a grand idea. If that happens, I hope I don't break my glasses like that dude on that Twilight Zone episode. That would suck.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

You're Really Full of Bad Church

The other day, I was messing around with the magnetic poetry on the fridge at work. Someone had come up with "You're really full of church." Being the rascal that I am, I searched the fridge for a word I could insert to change this boring phrase into a masterpiece. I found the word bad, inserted it, and now it sings.
In all seriousness, I think this phrase is full of truth. There are folks out there that are just full of bad church. Bad theology, bad relationships, bad leadership, bad leadership, bad worship, and bad preaching. I know because I am one of them. I am in the process of trying to figure out what I believe in regards to everything. I am keeping some stuff and tossing other stuff where it belongs. My "Dark Night of the Soul" is shaking the foundations of my faith. Some of it wasn't very solid ground to begin with. I've wanted to give up on Church and God and the whole business but, like Jeremiah, I have a "fire in my bones" that won't go out. So, this remnant of belief is getting rearranged. It's been a good/bad experience but mostly bad. So, all you Bad Church Casualties, hang in there. There just might be a light at the end of the tunnel.
But then again, what do I know? While messing with the fridge poetry, I also came up with "Change your manners. You'll please the dog." Brilliant.

Special thanks to Mark for the appropriate church sign.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Ladies & Gentlemen...THE LOST DOGS!

Yeah! Last night, Sarah and I attended a concert by the legendary Lost Dogs. For those of you who don't know them, let me introduce you. From left to right: Michael Roe (The 77's), invisible Steve Hindalong on drums (The Choir, City on a Hill), Terry Taylor (Daniel Amos, Swirling Eddies), and Derri Daugherty (The Choir). It was a great night. These guys are all fabulously talented and funny as crap! Sarah enjoyed it a great deal and told me that she wished they had talked more because they were so funny. It's true. Mike and Terry traded bons mots back and forth. They covered subjects from the Tribulation to Derri being the girl of the band. I have a bit about "on-the-road snacks" on video and I'll post it if someone can tell me how to convert Quicktime video so I can edit it in Windows Movie Maker. One of the funniest bits they did had them rating themselves from being anointed to in the flesh with the Throne Check-O-Meter. Good stuff.
But in the end, it's the music that drew me there. These 4 guys are responsible for some of the greatest music ever recorded and performed in the world. Mike Roe is one of the greatest, yet unappreciated, guitarists around. It was a shame they had Derri on bass because he is also a guitarist w/ a unique style. There were so many songs I wanted to hear but they couldn't do them all in the 2 hours they played. They did do Blessing in Disguise which is one of my favorites.
They played at Calvary Fellowship in Mountlake Terrace. (Mike said, "Welcome to the most professional show in Mountlake Terrace tonight...welcome to the only professional show in Mountlake Terrace tonight.) Today they are headed north for a Calvary Chapel Pastor's Conference. Mike said that they were going to do the same show sans all the dirty jokes. Terry said that he was going to rebuke the pastors. These dudes are crazy. They embody the image that Christians don't have to be stuffy, legalistic, judgemental turds.
Long live the Lost Dogs!

PS: Check out my photo site. I will post some more shots from the show when I get a chance.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Graffiti Church in Manhattan

Watch this then read my comments below.

Um...I don't remember reading "Thou shalt not play hard rock music in thy religious meetings" or "thou shalt not look weird for weird's sake" in the Bible anywhere. Personally, I think wearing a shirt with a decorative noose around your neck is pretty weird...and darned uncomfortable.


Black Order by James Rollins - "A sinister fire in a Copenhagen bookstore ignites a relentless hunt across four continents. Arson and murder reveal an insidious plot to steal a Bible that once belonged to Charles Darwin, the father of evolutionary theory. And Commander Gray Pierce dives headlong into a mystery that dates back to Nazi Germany and to horrific experiments performed in a now-abandoned laboratory buried in a hollowed-out mountain in Poland.
A continent away, madness ravages a remote monastery high in Nepal, as Buddhist monks turn to cannibalism and torture. Lisa Cummings, a young American doctor investigating the atrocity, is suddenly a target of a bru-tal assassin working for clandestine forces that want the affair buried at any cost. Lisas only ally is a hidden pilgrim, Painter Crowe - director of SIGMA Force, an elite command of American scientists and Special Forces operatives - who is already showing signs of the baffling malady that destroyed the minds of the monks.
Now it is up to Gray Pierce to save both Painter and Lisa - and a world in jeopardy - as SIGMA Force races to expose a century - old plot that threatens to destroy the current world order and alter the destiny of humankind forever." *

I must be getting tired of this genre. Or these guys are just not delivering like they used to. I didn't really care for this book very much. The story was never clear and there was too much going on...too much bouncing back and forth between storylines.
I'm getting a little tired of these thriller genre guys all copying each other. Once someone does something cool, they all jump on the bandwagon. Ever since The Da Vinci Code, Matthew Reilly, James Rollins and Preston/Child have all been obsessed with finding the next cool object that can be used in a bid for world domination. Geez. Give it a rest. I don't care about Charles Darwin's Bible or the gold eye that used to sit atop the great pyramid or the petrified left ear of Albert Einstein. I'm starting to think that Reilly and Rollins might be psychically linked or maybe they are the same guy. There's been tons of copying going on between those two. And what's with the giant monster animals. Giant hyenas, giant seals, giant jaguars...giant, giant, giant. It's getting cliche. You guys need to take a deep breath and come up with some original stuff. You guys were the authors I looked forward to. Now, not so much. You've all gone way down the list for me. You're now down at the bottom with Crichton whom I gave up on a long time ago.
I wonder. Crichton lost it and was replaced. So, where are the replacements for these guys? Anybody got a clue? If so, let me know. I need some good books to read.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Veggies Cause Controversy

And no, I am not talking about the killer spinach.

Apparently Veggie Tales is being aired on NBC and Christians are up in arms that content related to the Bible and God is being edited out.
"Had he known how much he'd have to change the show — including Bob and Larry's tagline, "Remember kids, God made you special and he loves you very much," that
concludes each episode — Vischer said he wouldn't have signed on for the network
Okay. When will Christians learn that the world-at-large isn't going to do right by them. Vischer, in my opinion, made a huge mistake by not discussing such issues before any contracts were signed. "Hello? McFly?" If you'd like to read the whole article, click here.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Cyril and Methodius

Gosh, I am enjoying this book on the history of Christianity. It really is showing me that the church has been screwed up from day one. Here's a little tidbit that really hit home.

"They (Germans) condemned the religion of Cyril and Methodius on two grounds: it was not in Latin, like Catholicism; and they had omitted the words 'and the Son' from the creed. Cyril and Methodius of course explained that the filioque clause was a western addition to the original creed, and that Latin was not the only or even the original language of the liturgy ans scriptures; that communicating with people in language they could understand was what mattered, holiness lying in the meaning not the sound of the words."

I can't tell you how many times I've heard things like that over the years. Things like, "I can't go to that church anymore because that preacher doesn't use the King James Bible." It really amazes me how ignorant people can be...especially religious folk. They know everything they've been taught in church, right or wrong, but they don't know the Bible. I had someone get angry with me one time because I told them that Jesus taught his disciples (and ultimately us) how to pray. They didn't believe it and when I told them I would show it too them they said something to the effect of, "Oh that's right. Just shove your seminary education in my face. You're so smart and we're so dumb." Geez!
So, I guess what I'm saying is...and I think it's been said before somewhere...that we should work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). Work it out. Read. Study. Pray. Don't just believe what the preacher man is telling you. Go find out for yourself. Then it will really feel like it's yours.

Source: A Short History of Christianity by Stephen Tomkins

Chick Tracts

Does anyone out there remember Chick Tracts? I do. When I was young, these things were all over the place. I actually had some of the tracts and comic books because I liked the art. Whether you agree with his tracts or not, the artwork by Jack Chick and Fred Carter is pretty amazing.
Well, it seems those tracts are still being used. Since I started working at Taproot in February, I have found one or more Chick Tracts in the upstairs lobby ladies restroom during every preview week for every show. And for each show, it's a different tract. I don't know what this person's ulterior motive is. I would guess that they know that Taproot is a faith-based theatre because they obviously attend every show. I guess they figure the messages of the shows aren't enough. These folks need a little extra push. Or at least the ladies upstairs do.
So, what do I do with those tracts I find. I keep them. I've used sections of one in one of my collages. If I could afford it, I'd get a copy or two of every one.

First AC/DC and Now This!

A few years ago, Hayseed Dixie turned the music of AC/DC into bluegrass. Now, someone has done it with Van Halen. It's called...wait for it...Strummin' with the Devil. They even have Diamond Dave on one track. (Let's face it...the Davester probably needs the work) If you want to check it out further...go here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


...all my troubles seemed so far away. Not really. Just seemed like a good opening.
Yesterday was an interesting day. It started fairly normally. Just your typical day of cleaning a theatre trying to get ready for opening night. It was about midday that things started happening.
One of my co-workers was fiddling with one of the exit lights so I stopped to give her a hand. Turns out the bracket was broken and it was hanging by a wire. (One of the actors from the show, the 6' 6" one, ran into with his head the night before) Well, neither one of us thought anything of it so she pulls out her Toolmaster Deluxe (you know, those thingies that have everything in one) and starts to take the bracket off the ceiling. Well, next thing I know she screams and slumps into the chair. She got quite a jolt. So, she recovers, we turn off the power at the breaker (DUH) and another co-worker finishes taking it down. I'm glad she's okay. I feel bad because just a minute before it happened I pretended to zap her! I said I was sorry about a hundred times and I told her her new 'fro looked great.
I spent the afternoon working on a backdrop for the Road Company. (not my norm but everyone is swamped) As I was leaving, I went to say goodbye to my wife and got to meet Grant Goodeve (of TV's Eight is Enough among other things) He's in the Christmas show and was getting measured for costumes.
Later, after a brief time at home, I went to my djembe lesson. Two more folks showed up this week and we had a great time. We laughed alot. I really like our instructor. He's very knowledgable but he smiles and laughs alot. He makes it fun...even when we are sucking.
After that, I arrived late for a meeting of the NW Artist's Group. It's a group of creative folks from our church that get together occasionally and share about what's happening creatively in our lives. Last night, we each shared artwork, poems, or whatever with the group. Jeff read us the prologue from his new book. I shared some collage. Other's shared poetry and Allen read part of a play he's writing. It was a great night. I hate that Sarah couldn't be there (due to getting the show ready to open) but next month we're going to host it at our house.
So, all in all, a good day. A day of shocks and drums and creative expressions.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Talk Like A Pirate Day

Arrr, mateys! 'Tis Talk Like A Pirate Day today so shiver yer timbers and keelhaul yer landlubbers. Now, everybody sing...Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me! If you want to check out the official site, go here.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Critic's Choice

I've been listening to some old Chicago discs I picked up at the library. It's great to hear their early stuff again after so many years. Contrary to the 80's and beyond Chicago Light that we all know and loathe, these guys used to rock. And other than Blood, Sweat and Tears, I can't think of another rock band that incorporated horns as well as they did. (Speaking of which, there's a tune on the new Toto CD that has horns arranged by James Pankow and it's killer) Listening to these old songs, I came across this one that I don't think I'd ever heard before. As an artist, writer and all-around creative person, these lyrics really hit home.

What do you want
What do you want
I'm givin' everything I have
I'm even trying to see if there's more
Locked deep inside
I'll try
I'll try
Can't you see, this is me
What do you need
What do you need
Is someone just to hurt
So that you can appear to be smart
And use a steady job
Play God
Play God
What to you really know
You parasite
You're dynamite
An oversight
Misunderstanding what you hear
You're quick to cheer
And volunteer
Absurdities, musicals, blasphemies
Oh Lord
Save us all
What do you want
What do you want
I'm givin' every thing I have
I'm even trying to see if there's more
Locked deep inside
I'll try
I'll try
Can't you see, this is me

Critic's Choice written by Robert Lamm

Keep the Magic Alive!

Someone sent me a forward the other day. I don't usually pay attention but this one was pretty good. It had to do with growing up in the decades of the 30's thru the 70's. It focused on the fact that we grew up not wearing helmets to ride our bikes and shooting BB guns and playing outside until dark and not having video games and cell phones and the like. At the end of it, it talks briefly about the imagination of these generations of people compared to the imagination of now. I'm not printing it here because, frankly, it is well-intentioned but not all that well-written. But it got me to thinking about the imagination of childhood and it disappears over time. The previous post quoting Robert R. McCammon says it all so much better than I can. But here's a little blast from the past...something I wrote back during my seminary days. I think it reflects my ongoing to desire to retain the wonder of childhood.

In the world of an adult, there is no magic. The magic is "churched out, spanked out, washed out and churched out."* When we, as adults, attempt to fan the dead embers of magic back to life, we are sometimes labelled rebellious, silly, irresponsible, childish, insane and immature. We, as adults, are, however, allowed to embark on spiritual quests in the pursuit of the enhancement of creativity. Why? Why can't we be creative? What has happened to our imaginations? Where has the magic gone to?
Childhood was full to the brim with the magic. We only have to journey back in our memories to find remnants of it. We should remember back to times when a bath towel tied around our neck transformed us into the Man of Steel or the Dynamic Duo. A lawn sprinkler in the grass provided more enjoyment than the fanciest Olympic swimming pool. A majestic oak tree would become a castle full of knights or a spaceship filled with wondrous beings with awesome powers. A broken branch from that same tree would become a gun and pine cones served as grenades. Dirt clods made awesome bombs because of the puffs of dust they became on impact. The Archies sang Sugar, Sugar and their sounds became our sounds as we put on faux concerts for our parents on the back porch. A box of blocks and a cheap bag of army men made you the master of the world. Monsters and dinosaurs roamed the flickering images of our television sets when we stayed up too late watching the Creature Feature and then came to life again the next day with a little imagination and some art supplies.
Those were the days when you would ask your parents how Santa Claus would get in your house because you didn't have a fireplace only to be told he had keys to everyone's houses. A day playing in the woods with your buddies, building your forts and your treehouses, was perhaps the greatest sense of community you will ever feel in your lifetime. Back in those days, Red Skelton was the funniest man on earth, Bugs Bunny was king and we discovered the Beatles through Alvin and the Chipmunks. Ships orbited the Earth, men walked on the moon, but children flew to outermost reaches of the galaxy. Why? Because they had their imagination. A child could do anything, be anything, write anything, draw anything...create anything. The imagination was limitless. Why did we have to grow up and place limits on ourselves? Why do we throw the magic away?
We need it back. Adults need the magic, if only in small doses every once in a while, to feel young and immortal, full of life, and to believe that they can conquer at least their little corner of the world. Keep the magic alive. Store part of it away in a private place. Let it be free once in a while. Take it for walks, read it a story, draw it a picture, write it a poem, or sing it a song. Don't lock it up or it will die. Let the magic live. In it's life, we may find more of our own.

So, that's why I make art, beat my drum, write poems, read books, and whatever else I do that may seem foolish to the workaholic society we live in today. I am trying to live and not just exist.

*From Robert R. McCammon's Boy's Life

Do You Believe in Magic?

"You know, I do believe in magic. I was born and raised in a magic time, in a magic town, among magicians.Oh, most everybody else didn't realize we lived in that web of magic, connected by the silver filaments of chance and circumstance. But I knew it all along. When I was twelve years old, the world was my magic lantern, and by its green glow I saw the past, the present, and into the future. You probably did too; you just don't recall it. See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing the magic. We are born about to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God's sake. And you know why we are told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildnes and youth, and because of the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they'd allowed to wither in themselves.
After you go so far away from it, though, you can't really get it back. You can have seconds of it. Just seconds of knowing and remembering. When people get weepy at movies, it's because in that dark theater the golden pool of magic is touched, just briefly. Then they come out into the hard sun of logic and reason again and it dries up, and they're left feeling a little heartsad and not knowing why. When a song stirs a memory, when motes of dust turning in a shaft of light takes your attention from the world , when you listen to a train passing on a track at night in the distance and wonder where it might be going, you step beyond who you are and where you are. For the briefest of instants, you have stepped into the magic realm.
That’s what I believe.”

- Robert R. McCammon from Boy’s Life

Friday, September 15, 2006

Speaking of Rosie...

Rosie O'Donnell certainly didn't wait long to cause controversy in her new gig at The View. While discussing the 9/11 anniversary and the war in Iraq, she said,
"Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America where we have a separation of church and state. We're a democracy here."

Those of you who bet she'd piss somebody off within two weeks, please step forward and collect your prize. You win a DVD of The Flintstones movie and a Koosh ball.

Driving Miss Rosie

A co-worker of ours had her car stolen the other day. Thankfully it was recovered sans her laptop. I was asking her today about the condition of the car. It's in good shape but here's what she found when she got her car back.
- The plates were in the trunk but the plate holder was missing.
- There was a branch from a rose bush in the trunk.
- There was dirt in the car.
- There was a small spot of Wite-Out on one of the vents.
- The car smelled of BO.
- It was found parked in front of a fire hydrant.
- The car had been driven 75 miles and used half a tank of gas.
I'm sure the gang from CSI could figure this one out in a heartbeat. Here's my theory.
A couple of kids decide to steal the car for a joyride. While on their Ride 'O Joy, one of the kids decides that while they have the car, they need to pull a heist. Something special. Something that will live in the annuls of history. A nursery heist. They quickly make their plans, drawing a diagram of the master crime on the vents of the car. Finding a nursery, they boost several rose bushes and beat a hasty retreat. While driving around reveling in their victory, one of the kids has a relapse of conscience and decides that they must make up for their dastardly deed. They immediately find the nearest church and plant the rose bushes, hoping that God will forgive them for their floral filch. While planting the flowers, they worked up quite a sweat. Now, the only sin they must atone for is the swiping of the car. They find the nearest Office Max and purchase some Wite-Out to erase their plans from the vent. They then pull up to a fire hydrant, thus insuring that the car will be discovered, and leave. And the license plate holder? Well, Christmas is just around the corner and plate holders make the perfect holiday gift.
All foolishness aside, it was surmised that these hooligans were huffing Wite-Out. I hear if you do that, it erases everything in your brain. Perhaps that didn't work so they moved on to flower sniffing? Maybe next time they should lick a few frogs. I hear that works too.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Prosperity Preaching Part II

Here are a few random quotes from the Time Magazine article about prosperity preachers. It's a good article. Grab an issue and read it.
"Rick Warren, whose book The Purpose Driven Life has outsold Osteen's by a ratio of 7 to 1, finds the very basis of Prosperity laughable. "This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy?", he snorts. "There is a word for that: baloney. It's creating a false idol. You don't measure your self-worth by your net worth. I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. Why isn't everyone in the church a millionaire?"

Baloney? I have a stronger word, Rick. Wanna know what it is?
"Who would want to get in on something where you're miserable, poor, broke and ugly and you just have to muddle through until you get to heaven?" asks Joyce Meyer, a popular television preacher and author often lumped in the Prosperity Lite camp. "I believe God wants to give us nice things."

So now it's a sin to be ugly? Thus saith Joyce Meyer, beauty queen!
"Yet he (Jesus) spent far more time among the poor than the rich, and a majority of scholars quote two of his most direct comments on wealth: the passage in the Sermon on the Mount in which he warns, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth ... but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven"; and his encounter with the "rich young ruler" who cannot bring himself to part with his money, after which Jesus famously comments, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

It's all there in black and white. Unless you have the red letter edition.
"I don't think I've ever preached a sermon about money," he says a few hours later. He and Victoria meet with TIME in their pastoral suite, once the Houston Rockets' locker and shower area but now a zone of overstuffed sofas and imposing oak bookcases. "Does God want us to be rich?" he asks. "When I hear that word rich, I think people say, 'Well, he's preaching that everybody's going to be a millionaire.' I don't think that's it." Rather, he explains, "I preach that anybody can improve their lives. I think God wants us to be prosperous. I think he wants us to be happy. To me, you need to have money to pay your bills. I think God wants us to send our kids to college. I think he wants us to be a blessing to other people. But I don't think I'd say God wants us to be rich. It's all relative, isn't it?" The room's warm lamplight reflects softly off his crocodile shoes."

I'll bet that crocodile wishes he had read Osteen's book. Maybe he'd still be alive and not a pair of shoes.
"Poor people like Prosperity," says Stephen Prothero, chairman of the religion department at Boston University. "They hear it as aspirant. They hear, 'You can make it too--buy a car, get a job, get wealthy.' It can function as a form of liberation." It can also be exploitative. Outsiders, observes Milmon Harrison of the University of California at Davis, author of the book Righteous Riches, often see it as "another form of the church abusing people so ministers could make money."

Exploitive? Nonsense. Now, get out of my way. I have to go buy a lottery ticket and a pack of smokes.
"That language is reflected in Your Best Life Now, an extraordinarily accessible exhortation to this-world empowerment through God. "To live your best lifenow," it opens, to see "your business taking off. See your marriage restored. See your family prospering. See your dreams come to pass ..." you must "start looking at life through eyes of faith." Jesus is front and center but not his Crucifixion,Resurrection or Atonement."

Do churches really preach about Jesus anymore? How old fashioned.
"Last March, Ben Witherington, an influential evangelical theologian at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky, thundered that "we need to renounce the false gospel of wealth and health--it is a disease of our American culture; it is not a solution or answer to life's problems." Respected blogger Michael Spencer--known as the Internet Monk--asked, "How many young people are going to be pointed to Osteen as a true shepherd of Jesus Christ? He's not. He's not one of us."

To that I say, "Amen!"

Source: Time Magazine

Preaching Prosperity

"Osteen has done more than anyone to spread the prosperity gospel into the Christian mainstream, says journalist Van Biema. His article in Time cites a recent survey that found 61% of American Christians believe God wants them to be financially prosperous. "The more shocking finding from the study is that 31% of Christians think that if you give God money now He will return it to you later, in spades, so to speak," Van Biema says.
"That really is not part of standard, orthodox Christianity," adds Van Biema. "There had been some brakes on (Christianity) moving toward materialism, but those brakes are gradually being released and you're seeing more and more people saying 'Well, why wouldn't God want us to be rich in this lifetime.'"

This is a huge problem in the church these days. I don't know where they are getting this stuff. Jesus was the Son of God and he didn't have two nickels to rub together. You can read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Djembe Lessons

I had my first lesson last night and it was fun. I found out that I know exactly squat about the correct way to play. But that's why you take lessons, correct? The teacher is cool...very knowledgeable. There's only two of us in the class and it was iffy as to whether it would be enough for him to justify coming out for the lesson (he lives on Vashon Island) but, in the end, he decided that between us and the advanced class, he had enough. (WHEW!)
So, between last night and today, I've forgotten more than I remember. I am going to take a tape recorder next week so I can record the lesson. I've got to find some time here in a bit to practice. How in the world am I going to find time to work, practice djembe, make art, write, take an acting class, be in the Christmas play and spend time with my wife? Geez, how did all that sneak up on me like that?
Anyway...I love the lessons and hope this is an ongoing thing. I love drumming. I have really missed making music these past couple of years. I miss being in a band jamming with my friends singing and playing great old songs. I hope the drumming will fill that void.

The Wrong Pastor

Sarah and I auditioned for the Christmas musical/play at church on Sunday. Today we found out the results. I got a small part as The Wrong Pastor which, in a way, seems appropriate for me. Sarah got the part of Aunt Pookie after Jeff told her to try the part "just for fun." She nailed it!
After seeing the results, I suffered the briefest bout of envy and then got over myself. I had hoped for a slightly bigger or more colorful part but, after auditions, really didn't know if there was a part for me. Honestly, were I to cast the thing, I would have made some of the same choices Jeff made. I told Sarah as we left that I wasn't sure there was a part in it that I could play. And seeing as how we are doing this partially to get to know folks, it's a great deal to just be a part of this.
Another factor is that I am taking an acting/performance class at Taproot in a few weeks and it's a big time commitment. So, I wasn't out for the lead anyway. I'm also taking djembe (african drum) lessons and that is also a big commitment. Plus, I am really dedicated to making art right now and I would not enjoy life if I didn't have time for that.
So, brushing envy aside, I somewhat joyfully embrace the upcoming busyness of fall in Seattle...which is a good thing because the butt indentation on the couch needs time to redistribute.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child - As the Museum of Natural History in NYC gears up for an opening that will save their reputation, Agent Pendergast must find a way to stop his brother Diogenes from fulfilling his evil plans, whatever they may be.
This is the third book in a trilogy, the first two being Brimstone and Dance of Death. This book is really good, hearkening back to the days of Relic. This book is really fun and action packed. The last two have dragged a bit. It's all been building up to a clash between the Pendergast brothers and while it doesn't quite deliver the way you'd expect, it's still pretty satisfying.
I've read that the authors are working on the next Pendergast novel. I wish they'd hang this character up for a while. In my humble opinion, their best books are the ones without Pendergast (with the exception of Reliquary).
Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things by Ted Naifeh - In this graphic novel, a moody middle schooler moves into a dusty old mansion with her family and her eccentric uncle. She soon discovers she's surrounded by a world filled with faeries and goblins and the like. Things are a big scary until she learns to use these things to her advantage.
I picked this up on a lark. Saw it on the shelf at the library and thought I'd give it a go. It's not bad. The art is really good and some of the stories are fun. I particularly liked the one about the changling. I've discovered that there are other books in the series so I may try to track them down.
30 Days of Night by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith - Barrow, Alaska is the northernmost city in the USA with arctic temperatures and a season where the sun doesn't come up for 30 days. This proves to be the perfect hunting ground for a pack of vampires. Mayhem ensues.
This is a true horror comic. It is extremely violent and bloody. I picked it up because I read a review that said it was good. It's clever, and I hear it's being made into a movie, but I don't think it will be winning any major literary awards. The dialogue is scarce. I read it quickly. The art is very dark and took some time to get used to. I believe the artist incorporates photographs underneath the paint. It's quite interesting and some of the panels are very good.
There are others in the series so I may try to read them but, like I said, this isn't for the faint of heart. If you're a hardcore horror/vampire fan, you'll probably like it.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Arius and Athanasius

I'm reading A Short History of Christianity by Stephen Tomkins and it's very interesting. It makes me wish I had taken more courses that cover this type of stuff in seminary but I was a former art student rebelling against the call of God. Why would I want to take a course in church history or theology or apologetics or hermeneutics (which, I was disapointed to find out, had nothing to do with Herman Munster). Ironically, it turns out that some of my favorite classes were Old Testament Survey and Systematic Theology. That doesn't mean I aced them all but I did okay for myself.
Anyway, back to Arius and Athanasius. These two guys couldn't get along. I won't go into details because I wouldn't be able to explain it correctly. Let's just say they couldn't agree on issues surrounding the divinity of Christ. Athanasius was for Christ as deity, Arius against. In the end, Arius lost. Amidst all this history, I found these few sentences of particular interest.
"Doctrinal propaganda war spread throughout the east. Arius wrote pop song with lines like 'the essence of the Father is foreign to the Son.' Their arguments were parodied on the pagan stage."

I find it funny that the arguments of Christians were parodied by pagans back then because that never happens nowadays. And we Christians don't do anything that's worth making fun of. I don't know where Jon Stewart and SNL and all these other funny people are getting their material. They must just be making it all up.
Jon Stewart: "Did Pat Robertson or Benny Hinn do anything funny this week?"
Writers: "No Jon.
Jon Stewart: "Well, then make some stuff up. We need material.
Writers: "Yes Jon.

As Dr. Evil would say, "Riiiiiiigggggghhhhhht." I started reading this book because I'm on a quest to try and find out why the church is so screwed up today. It looks like we're just following in our forefathers footsteps. I feel much better now...I think?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Clone Wars

Last night, Sarah and I attended a play at ACT called A Number. I didn't realize until we got there that Kevin Tighe was in the cast. If you're old enough, you'll remember Kevin on the old TV show Emergency! If you're younger than that, he has been on Lost playing Locke's father.
The play concerned itself with cloning and it addressed some pretty good issues about whether human cloning is right or wrong. The play takes no stand either way, allowing you to make up your own mind. Kevin Tighe plays a father who reveals that his son is a clone and that the original son is still alive and that there are about 20 others roaming around. The other fellow in the cast played the clones. As the father confronts 3 of these "things" including the original, the ethical and moral issues play out. The original is quite a villian and, at one point, the father asks if he is going to hunt them all down and kill them. Wow! What a movie that would make, huh? Man finds out he's been cloned so he tracks down and kills the others so that he can be unique again. Ah, but at the end there is a twist. He finds out he's a clone and he has killed the original. Maybe I'll pitch this to M. Night Shyamalamma-Ding-Dong. He loves those twist endings.
Anyhow, the play was only 55 minutes and raised some interesting questions but the dialogue was a bit annoying due to the way it was written. There were many unfinished sentences with the characters running on top of one another. I know it's a stylistic choice, one I didn't enjoy. The other guy who played the clone was very good. He played three characters that look alike but have different personalities. He did a very good job changing his accent and body language to create the characters.
After the play, I treated my lady to some dessert at The Cheesecake Factory because she had had a rough day and we all know that chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake can make a bad day better.

Christians Using Their Imaginations?

"Midrash is the playfulness - and I say this in a loving way - with which the rabbis embraced biblical texts, filled in some of the blanks and missing pieces, and tried to seek God through the stories they told. The Bible itself is a very sparse account, and it needs us to be able to read it and make it come alive for us - it requires an imagination. I think what you've done with the Christian Scripture is something Jewish; you've filled in the pieces with Midrash. I didn't know that Christians were allowed to do that."

- Jewish rabbi speaking to Anne Rice about her book Christ the Lord

Source: Relevant Magazine Issue 19

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Manageable God

"Americans are known for liking big things. Our cars, meals and homes are all pretty big compared to those found in most cultures. It's ironic then that so often our concept of God isn't very big at all. We've reduced the 'Creator of all' to the 'man upstairs' - someone understandable, explainable. No wonder we've lost our sense of wonder about God.
I'm sure we have lots of reasons for trying to shrink God down to a manageable size. We like control. We fear surrender. We crave certainty. Sometimes we're so busy trying to run the world ourselves that we overlook the opportunities we have to see and remember just how big God is. Whatever the reason, when we shrink God, the result isn't just less wonder, it's less life"

Source: Chris Mitchell from A Place for Skeptics

Monday, September 04, 2006

Art Drought

This is me. I haven't been inspired lately and just can't seem to make myself sit down and make art. I think I messed myself up. I was in a groove doing my collages but I really miss painting and working larger so I started experimenting with some new techniques and now I'm stuck. I need get over myself and do what I always tell Sarah to do and that's to just sit down and do something...anything. Just slap some paint down or throw together a collage...anything to get the juices flowing again. SIGH!
If artists waited until they felt like making art to actually make some, there would be no art in the world.

When Doubt Overshadows Belief

" questions far outnumber any answers I've received. Early questions like,
God, where are you in all this?
gradually gave way to,
God, did you really speak to me at all, or was it just my own ideas and desires being wrongly attributed to you?
And then, questions like,
Do you really speak to and lead people at all, God?
eventually led to,
Do you even exist?"

1) Belief Requires Trust

"Believing in God is quite different from believing God. Eighty-five percent of Americans claim to believe in God, but very few of us really reorient our lives around that belief."

2) Belief Is Not the Absence of Doubt

"Rather, trust is most often deepened in working through the presence of doubt."

"Sometimes the greatest act of faith is in the doubting."
- Fyodor Dostoevsky

3) Belief Demands Action

"You can always tell what a person really believes by his or her actions."
- Jonathan Edwards

Source: Scott Larson in A Place for Skeptics

Uncle Terry, Pharmacist

My Uncle Terry works for Publix in Florida and he is being highlighted on the Publix Careers site. I don't know how long it will stay up so I'm preserving it here.

"At the age of 5, going door to door selling Rose Bud and Cloverine Salve to neighbors and friends, little did I know that the groundwork was being laid for my career as a pharmacist. Listening to their concerns about aches and pains, giving a smile or hug, and saying, "Let me know if you need anything more," taught me patience and understanding of others.
Fulfilling my parents' dream for one of five sons to obtain a college degree, I achieved that goal in 1969 from the University of Florida College of Pharmacy. Years of working in my own pharmacy then taught me customer service and the satisfaction of going that extra mile - whether it be lending a listening ear, sharing a simple smile, going in a few minutes early or staying late, delivering prescriptions to invalid patients who cannot drive, and yes, even returning to the pharmacy after closing to give that much needed prescription.
Publix has allowed me to continue those early-learned values of concern and caring for people. In working for Publix, I have found that doing whatever it takes to help someone, be it customer or employee, is the PUBLIX WAY. Thank you to my parents and Publix for allowing me to serve others."

Why Do You Do What You Do?

I find this site very interesting. Artsy and gimmicky and cathartic all at the same time. Reminds me a bit of Post Secret.


"Steve Irwin, the hugely popular Australian television personality and conservationist known as the "Crocodile Hunter," was killed Monday by a stingray while filming off the Great Barrier Reef. He was 44." (Associated Press)

This dude was extreme and I guess he went out the way he would have wanted to go. G'day, Steve.

Cruisin' Seattle

Sarah and I persuaded Adam and Heather to accompany us on an evening cruise last night. We had a good time. Before the cruise, we went by the gallery where Sarah and I have art. Sarah has sold two pieces and I have sold none. Way to go, baby! We then headed down to the waterfront and grabbed some dinner and drinks at Red Robin. We sat outside by the water and it was very relaxing.
The cruise was also very relaxing. During the summer, they run late cruises thru the locks so it was great to be out on the water during dusk. It was a beautiful evening. I took our new camera and will post some shots to my Flickr site when I get a chance. One of the unique things about last night's cruise was that the salmon were running. After we went thru the Ballard Locks we saw dozens of King Salmon (or Chinook) jumping. They are pretty big fish (around 50 lbs according to our guide) and it was amazing to see so many in one place. I hope we get a chance to go to the locks by land and see the fish ladder. I guess we should go soon while the salmon are running.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Photos on Flickr

Sarah and I sold our washer/dryer and used the money to purchase a digital camera. I took it out for a test drive the other day while walking the neighborhood and it's a great little camera. I've been trying to get back into the photography thing lately. I've pulled my old Pentax out on occasion and taken some shots but this digital camera is going to save us money on film and developing. I'll be posting some of the shots I take on Flickr so check them out sometime if you have a spare minute.


Sorcerer by James Byron Huggins - "Retiring to rural New England, ex-detective Michael Thorn discovers a mysterious skeleton in his new home! When it suddenly disappears, his investigation unearths the stunning revelation that the bones belong to an ancient Egyptian sorcerer who fought Moses! Can Thorn defeat the necromancer before he wreaks havoc on the world?"*
I've read Huggins before and enjoyed it. I own copies of Cain and Leviathan and hope to get my hands on a copy of Hunter soon. I also plan on reading Nightbringer. This book, however, doesn't seem to be one of his best. The only thing I think it lacks is character development. It's a rip-snortin' action read. It's got killer sorcerers, an ex-cop who is tough as nails on the outside and a teddy bear of a family man on the inside, the elite ninja Catholic squad called the Assassini, priests, nuns, and a quaint little town that doesn't know what's gonna hit it. What you don't have is adequate background on any of the characters. Sure, you like them because they are trying to protect a woman and some kids but it would have been nice to find out a bit more about them as people. That said, I still enjoyed it but not quite as much as his others, my favorite so far being Hunter. If you want to read some Christian fiction that fits the mainstream market, look for Huggins. He's better than Peretti when he's on.

* Source: