Archive for August, 2010

August 31, 2010

Its Begun

by Vince

MJ and I started our move today. More boxes to carry, trucks to fill, and long days ahead. That may take a toll on what I can churn out here. Look for pieces by Joe and Mike as they have the opportunity to chime in.

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August 31, 2010

Notes From The Stall

by Vince



A tumblr blog dedicated to pictures from bathroom stall walls. You can find just about anything on the Internet these days.

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August 31, 2010

The Best I’ve Seen of Glenn Beck

by Vince

This is a more humble version of Glenn Beck than I am use to. He dives into Liberation Theology and goes south when he throws Marxism into the mix. This is a decent video of Beck in the end.

August 30, 2010

My Faith, My Voice

by Vince

The group behind the new commercial, “My Faith My Voice,” describes itself as a “grass-roots effort by American Muslims from across the country,” and says it has “no affiliation to any one organization or school of thought.”

Read the full story here.

August 30, 2010

Beware of Clearances

by Vince

This gives a few good laughs.

August 30, 2010

Obama and Islam

by Vince

Angie Drobnic Holan and Brendan Nyhan wonder why 1 in 5 Americans believe Barack Obama is a Muslim:

Americans with the strongest dislike of the Democratic president and his policies are much more likely to say Obama is a Muslim. Pollsters say people’s beliefs about his religion may actually be an effort to equate him with a faith they dislike.

Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at the University of Michigan, has found that when people are fiercely partisan, they are less likely to change their minds when presented with factually correct evidence that contradicts their views.

The article continued on defending Barack Obama’s faith by saying even though he hasn’t consistently attended one church, he has been attending several. Also, Obama consults with spiritual guides each week and carried his Bible around when he campaigned in 2004 for the Illinois Senate.

I am left wondering why he has to even defend himself? It seems pretty clear that there is a fear of him being a Muslim because other Muslims fly planes into buildings. Do these “christians” know that some Christians treat their wives as second rate citizens because the apostle Paul told he readers to emulate him? Whether Obama is a Muslim or a Christian, can’t he be valued as our President and respected regardless of his religious affiliation? I see this as secretly airing out fears of Obama not being a Christian and seeing anyone, especially a Muslim, as a dangerous person to run our country.

I am just left wondering why this all has come up now. This was a big topic during his 2008 campaign for presidency. Could it be rearing its head again as midterms are upon us?

August 30, 2010

Play of the Day

by Vince

He is still in high school..

August 30, 2010

Back to School, Back to School

by Vince

Today is the first day back to school for most public schools and colleges. I have been given different messages on Facebook about this day:

First day of classes. Yuck!

Back to school. Back to school, to prove to Dad that I’m not a fool. I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don’t get in a fight.

First Day of Class! Call the police! Someone stole summer!

One stood out to me:

“All you people complaining about school need to stop. You don’t know how good you have it until you have to leave!

It has now been two years since I have been out of college. College went really fast. I look back at my first days of each semester: receiving big syllabusss, feeling a bit overwhelmed, buying expensive books, figuring out how my schedule will work out and fit in studying, leisure, meals, and everything else in between.

That type of world experience is different than post-college, deemed “the real world”. Stressing over how you are going to fit so much work into a 15-week course is different than figuring out how you are going to pay your bills each month. I tend to disagree though with the statement of college being almost better than the real world. Sure, college generally puts on you less life responsibilities than when you are out, but the “real world” gives you a different and new group of freedoms in life. College is dubbed as free living and your only concern is to study for classes and not drink too much. Real world life, at least in the 5 or so years after you graduate, gives you the freedom to follow your passions with little holding you down or back. If you have the courage, you can ditch your job that you hate and volunteer doing something you love or work at a job that doesn’t pay well but brings life out of you. Unfortunately, factoring in college loans and other debts can complicate this.

This is all difficult to explain and can sometimes only be fully understood once you live it out. For now, enjoy class if you are enrolled. On the same note, enjoy what you do and take the courage to follow what you love. Let freedom ring in your life and seek activities and a lifestyle that lets you be free* to live.

*I don’t mean this to say not have kids or take a job that makes you sign a working contract. I see it as important to live a life that brings you life and doesn’t drain life from you. I can speak from experience that if you must live for a season in a life-draining situation, you can learn a lot about yourself in it.

August 30, 2010

The Only Thing White People Have to Fear…Ctd.

by Vince

Michael R. Drane wrote about Glenn Beck’s Saturday gathering. He focused on the fear mongering of some of the attendees which can be followed back to its source: Glenn Beck. Because the Honor Rally was headed up by right-wing demagogues (Beck and Sarah Palin), it is easy to equate this with their usually diatribes that are at times harsh and often times polarizing.

Here is some of what I gathered. A flickr grouping of pictures here. A clip of Alveda King speaking at the rally here. Next, a contradictory blip from Sarah Palin here: how can you say in one breath that you wan to limit government and its spending but continue to let our military and its spending balloon and go unchecked?

In the end, I am trying to look at this event as unbiased as I can. I haven’t read anything that reported any incitement of racism at the rally. Some believe that some groups tried to go in and take pictures to fish for any type of racism. I will leave you with the below picture.

August 30, 2010

Theology and the Cross

by Vince

Mike Potemra talks about an NYC church he found:

One of the most common criticisms of U.S. Evangelicalism today is that it has become bland and sentimental, offering an easy solution to . . . well, to what exactly is not clear, because there is a greater reticence now than in the past in talking about sin. So it’s refreshing to encounter a place like Times Square Church in New York City, where both the hymns and the preaching declare unflinchingly the need in which men and women live — despair, addiction, disgrace, sin — to provide the rawest context for the religious message.

Kudos to Potemra for finding a church that he can connect to! I can see two different strands of Christian theology that were part of my life over the last four years.

The first was what was active within my time at college. I didn’t take part in it all but took note to what I saw or heard about. Much of it was evangelism based (e.g. – serving hot dogs to inebriated college students to show them the compassion of Christ as well as foster conversation), fellowship (bowling, bon fires), and theology pointing to contemporary writers/theologians such as John Piper, Donald Miller, John Eldridge, et al. This wasn’t by any regards a “hell, fire, and brimstone” group nor was it homogeneous.

The second was less community based but built upon a few key friends and my wife. This loosely associated group focuses less on evangelism or “witnessing” because generally our gifts were not in that area. This group wore compassion, hospitality, and in someways a privatized faith. When I say privatized, this “group” still claims Jesus as they Way for them but doesn’t place salvation over a holistic relationship when they meet someone. This group values people who are not Christians and doesn’t place them as second-rate citizens until they accept JC. This group reads Jacques Ellul, Henri Nouwen, Andrew Marin, Reinhold Niebuhr,  Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, Shane Claiborne, et al.

The second strand can definitely be seen as bypassing sin (the Cross). What I see this as is not forgetting about sin but not staying at the Cross. Jesus died but also rose. His resurrection got us past sin and gave us His Helper (John 20: 19- 23) and personal relationships (John 21) . Another difference between the second and first strand is the view of sin, Satan, and the battle against the rulers and authorities (Ephesians 6:12). The second strand doesn’t see every problem as blamable on sin but takes into account the human aspects: our past decisions, our family upbringings, our habits, and our influences. Leavened throughout all of those human aspects of life are variances of sin (or non-life) but the second strand doesn’t see that you can just “pray away” that spirit of lust, greed, or other sin. You have to take it one step at a time and not much in life is simple enough to be explained in easy terms.

August 29, 2010

Find Nature in Your Life

by Vince

Jonah Lehrer reads over a few studies encouraging us to be close to nature:

Kuo then measured the two groups on a variety of tasks, from basic tests of attention to surveys that looked at how the women were handling major life challenges. She found that living in an apartment with a view of greenery led to significant improvements in every category.

What happened? Kuo argues that simply looking at a tree “refreshes the ability to concentrate,” allowing the residents to better deal with their problems. Instead of getting flustered and angry, they could stare out the window and relax. In other words, there is something inherently “restorative” about natural setting – places without people are good for the mind.

My office view was a borough street. My house is surrounded by some trees but in a suburban neighborhood of sorts. MJ has always said that where we live (for only a few more days) is not country enough.

Lehrer wraps up the post nicely:

I sometimes wonder if, when we look back at the mass cognitive mistakes of the 21st century, we’ll worry less about the internet and multitasking – people have been multitasking forever – and instead fret about our turn away from nature. The human species is urbanizing at an unprecedented rate. (In the next century, at least 3 billion people will migrate to cities.) And yet, we’re only beginning to understand how living in dense agglomerations of perfect strangers, surrounded by skyscrapers and concrete, actually affects the brain. This work on ecopsychology is an important start.

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August 29, 2010

Living Backwards

by Vince

Aids PSA Topsy 90 human Mix-Simian H.264 2 from Human Music & Sound Designon Vimeo.

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August 29, 2010

The Zen of Busting a Cap

by Vince

EVERYONE FOREVER NOW is an episodic motion-based media project. It is an examination of the collective wisdom and expression of human actions.

By William Hoffman & Daniel Mercadante

I don’t own a gun and never got into hunting so I never knew or understood the psychology behind busting a cap. I love these kind of Vimeo videos.

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August 29, 2010

Quotes for Sunday

by Vince

“If you’re a Christian, I’d love it if you remembered that your first citizenship is in God’s Kingdom, the second is the world, and the distant third is the United States.” – Michael Drane

‎”Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

August 29, 2010

The Only Thing White People Have to Fear…

by michaelrdrane

… is fear itself.

A quote on the Washington Post’s website from supporters at Glenn Beck’s rally yesterday summarized all that I believe is wrong with the Tea Party movement. “We are fearful of our Constitution being taken away from us,” a woman in a Statue of Liberty hat said. Any party founded on fear will remain so paranoid and inward focused that its impact will be stunted at best and destructive at worst.

One of the most disheartening observations of yesterday’s events was the division of the two marches along racial lines. This is the exact opposite of King’s Dream and it is more evidence of fear within the Tea Party. Look at the history of the Civil Rights movement. Is their any better word than fearful to describe men who would anonymously kill black Sunday-school children, turn dogs and fire-hoses on unarmed, peaceful civilians, and bomb residences where families slept? When people are fearful, their natural tendency is to organize in a group around some commonality and demonize the “other” or “outsider”. We have seen this tendency in Nazi Germany, Jim Crow America, and now the Tea Party (herehereherehere, and here).

I think Dr. King understood the destructive tendencies of fear better than any of us do today. He said, ““Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated.” As I thought of Dr. King and his Dream, I made a few reflections on just the past week alone:

I have been the only white person in my church, on a bus, in a store, at a park, and in my neighborhood. Never once was I insulted, aggrieved, mocked, jeered, harassed, harmed, or questioned. I’m here because I know that not too long ago, I too had the mind of a Tea Partier. I didn’t believe in the existence of white privilege. I trusted a free-market to fix all woes. I believed that if the government stayed out of everything, we’d all have more freedoms, everyone would do what they ought, and we’d all freely take care of each other. That’s a myth fostered by people who are scared and protect themselves by gathering together with as many other like-minded individuals as they can. I’m here in my neighborhood now because I know that if I would have continued in my sheltered, separated existence, I would have never known or communicated with people who were different from me, and I would have grown into a fearful, hate-filled man.

I would love it if you joined me. I would love it if you said no to today’s popular doomsday rhetoric and yes to the Dream. If you’re a Christian, I’d love it if you remembered that your first citizenship is in God’s Kingdom, the second is the world, and the distant third is the United States. Finally, I would love it if together with Dr. King, we would “all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”

August 28, 2010

The Commonplaceness of Prejudice and Hyperbole

by Vince

For the important part of Newt Gingrich’s interview, tune to the 3:00 mark.

Newt makes a few comments that have been replayed and analyzed countless times. Newt calls the group that wants to build this mosque radical Islamists (no proof to back that up), they have no interest in reaching out to the community (no proof to back that up, and the essence of the mosque being a community center contradicts Newt outright), they are trying to make a case about supremacy over America (no proof to back that up), and he finishes up with the unintelligent hyperbole comparing how we would never let the Nazi’s put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum, therefore these “radicals” shouldn’t build their mosque. MJ doesn’t know half of the nitty gritty details about this and when I told her that comparison, she knew right away that Newt was talking about two different things.

I gave this a lot of thought while I was on vacation. Beyond Newt’s unfounded demagogic assertions, I see at the core of this the utilization of hyperbole and prejudice. In Newt’s comparison, the victims are the Jews and Americans while the persecutors were radical Islamists and the Nazis. The problem with this comparison is that Newt twists the facts and blurs the lines between radicals and moderates.

I am not very knowledgeable on contemporary Nazism but I would guess there are not many moderates within that party. Within Islam, there seem to be many moderates and the mosque push is headed up by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who was utilized under the George W. Bush presidency. Rauf is seen as a radical because he sees America as partly to blame for 9/11. Do you become a radical terrorist sympathizer when you point out a blatant flaw in America?

I wrap this up with the inner workings of prejudice. In one way or another, many citizens of America have been hurt by 9/11. Some who have been hurt by what radical Islamists committed on 9/11 still hold that hurt today. That isn’t what I am addressing. I see that when we are hurt by a certain person, we respond by placing them within a larger homogeneous grouping. Take Muslims for example. They are only a few thousand around the globe that will turn their religion into jihad. There are 1.57 billion Muslims in the world (23% of the total global population). Look at the damage a few bad apples have done. As we place this certain person into its homogeneous group, we not only lie to ourselves about who they are but insert hate into the equation. I feel we react this way only out of self-protection. We are afraid of this person/group because they hurt us and in a way to take away our feeling of vulnerability, we make ourselves think that they are simpler than they are. This gives us the one up on them and ends any conversation and ultimately any chance of redemption. An dated version of this that I am currently reading is the view of African Americans in Atlanta during the beginning of the 20th century.

This all is right up Joe’s alley when he said how powerful our minds truly are.

August 28, 2010

How Arabs View the Anti-Mosque Showdown

by Vince

Several Arab commentaries describe the Muslim world’s opinion on America’s inner conflict over building a Ground Zero mosque. This is helpful to read to see how those in the East view the rise of hate and Islamophobia in the US and the repercussions that could come from all of this.

August 28, 2010

Hyperbole Watch

by Vince

Don’t you love when unknown demagogic groups make nonsensical statements for millions of viewers to be washed over by?

When will the white Right accept that they do actually have partial blame for 9/11?

August 27, 2010

War is Always Political

by Vince

Duh!

The current approach promotes soldiers to lie about their sexual orientation. You are punished for telling the truth. Is is patriotic to lie? Is it in line with white Christianism to lie? Look how far the debate of whether being gay is a sin or not has gone.

August 27, 2010

Song of the Day

by Vince

This song has really caught my ear. I thought the video and its theme was decent but I love the song. OneRepublic continues to impress me and has become a new favorite music group of mine.