Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chris Christie's Silver Lining

Cross-posted from Blue Moose Democrat.

Everyone has something they bring to the table. US Attorney Chris Christie, the Republican nominee for Governor of New Jersey in this year's election, may have a few ethical questions, but no one is all bad. Seriously, I am a huge admirer of the level of fandom this guy has for Bruce Springsteen. I can only aspire to be Chris Christie. From the New York Times:

[Christie] has attended 120 Springsteen concerts, in places as far away as Paris and London, and once ducked out of a Trenton fund-raiser — “Gotta go, another event!” he said — and raced to Philadelphia, arriving at the Spectrum just as the band was cranking up “Badlands.”... Over the objections of aides, Mr. Christie is insisting he will attend Wednesday’s concert — despite a crucial debate on Thursday — and at least one more...

Mr. Christie said he did not have any illusions that he could win Mr. Springsteen’s endorsement. Asked how he would feel if Mr. Springsteen backed Mr. Corzine, he said that would be tough. “But in the end, I was a fan 34 years ago. I’d be a fan afterwards,” Mr. Christie said. “It is now just too much a part of my life.”

At times, the passion seems to overtake his life. In 2003, his second year as United States attorney, Mr. Christie went to 9 of 10 Springsteen concerts at Giants Stadium. He skipped one at the insistence of his wife, Mary Pat. “It gets to be a little much,” she said.

As a prosecutor, in preparation for a news conference after a major arrest, Mr. Christie would close his office door and pump himself up listening to songs like “Prove It All Night” and “Jungleland.”...

His wife got more than she bargained for in 2007 when he finally relented to her pleas for a Paris getaway: He checked the Springsteen tour schedule and proposed four days in Paris and four in London. “We can do whatever else you want to do,” he told her. “I just need two nights.”

CHRIS CHRISTIE, YOU ARE THE MAN. But that said, re-elect Jon Corzine anyway.

And in related news: the Boss has a new song!!

Bruce Springsteen performs his new song Wrecking Ball at Giants Stadium


(The photo, btw, is of a cowboy-hat wearing, sweat-drenched me at the Boston debut of the Seeger Sessions tour in 2006.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Love Trees!

These pictures are amazing! NPR reports that Michael Nichols, a photographer for National Geographic, has come up with a new method that allows him to take a picture of an entire Redwood tree at once, something I had previously thought impossible.

National Geographic sent Nichols to spend an entire year in California's redwood forest. His mission was to capture the majesty of some of the tallest trees on Earth, some of which date back before Christ. And if you've ever photographed in a forest, you'll understand the challenge this presented. There's no capturing the awe one feels before these monoliths that measure, in some cases, upward of 300 feet.

In a recent lecture at National Geographic in Washington, D.C., Nichols described his frustrations. Eventually, though, he devised a way to do redwoods justice. It involved three cameras, a team of scientists, a robotic dolly, a gyroscope, an 83-photo composite and a lot of patience.

For a short video and a really cool slide show, visit the article at NPR.org.

On a related note, here are two of my Twitter Tweets from yesterday:

"It took me 3 weeks, but I finally went for a walk in the park by my house in Omaha - Miller Park with a golf course, trees, & a pretty pond." "Don't take your local parks and trees for granted! Embrace them! It is out in "nature" that we humans got our start. That is our home."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Musical Monday: Jars of Clay

This song, "Silence" by Jars of Clay, came up on my iTunes shuffle the other day. I know I've heard it before since I've listened to the album the whole way through, but I can't say I remembered it. I really like it. It's haunting and it's searing; it is made even more powerful by the fact that the question, presumabley asked of God, is never answered: "Where are you?" And in that, I am reminded of one Friday morning when a holy man lay dying, and asked our God, His Father, "Why have you forsaken me?"

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Episcopal Blogosphere On Baseball and Sarah Palin

Two posts from around the Episcopal blogosphere I wanted to pass along - one political, one not.

The first is touching and fun. H/T Andrew Plus.



And in this second post, Padre Mickey notes that by her own party's standards, Sarah Palin may qualify as unpatriotic.

Remember back during the Dark Ages Bush Regime when the Dixie Chicks, while performing in England, stated that they were ashamed that George W. Bush was from Texas? Remember the furor which ensued? I recall hearing that it was wrong, treasonous even, to criticize the president while visiting a foreign land!

Sarah Palin went to a COMMUNIST country [China] and criticized President Obama. Of course, IOKIYAR, so her comments are probably Patriotic Commentary. And makes Baby Jesus happy.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ring Your Church Bells 350 Times On October 25

Bill McKibben, a scholar at Vermont's Middlebury College, may be the most prominent climate activist in the country. He's been behind many (most?) of the biggest global warming demonstrations, including a 2006 walk across Vermont that was at that time the largest anti-climate change action in history, a day of 1,400 decentralized protests around the country in 2007, and the annual DC college student gathering Power Shift. He is the author of many books about nature, climate change, and even faith.

McKibben's latest project is 350.org. 350 ppm of carbon is the sustainable limit for our planet, as in 350 parts of carbon out of every million parts of atmosphere. The planet currently sits at 390 ppm, a number that, if left unchecked, will raise ocean levels, raise ocean temperatures, and create drought in some regions. The phrase "350 or bust" is not just fancy rhetoric to paint on your car - if we don't get that low, scientists like IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri and NASA's James Hansen say that we WILL bust, end of story.

McKibben and his staff are organizing a "Day of International Climate Action" on October 24 to raise visibility for and awareness of 350 as a number and goal. It's easy to get involved: get a group together, register on 350.org, and then take a picture of y'all doing something to highlight the number in your community, like the pictures in this post (the one at right is a garden in Cameroon, and one below is using endangered Greenland ice!) and at 350's Flickr page. One simple thing you can do is ask your pastor or other church leader if your church can ring its bell 350 times, either on the Day of Action or the next day, a Sunday. Here's an e-mail with some great ideas sent to the Episcopal Ecologial Network list:

On Sunday, October 25th, parishioners from St. Paul's Memorial Church (Charlottesville, Virginia) will ring our church bell 350 times as part of an international campaign called 350.org to urgently call our community to awareness and action in addressing the global climate change crisis. 350 parts per million is the goal for this campaign as it is the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. Human activity currently emits 385 parts per million of CO2 globally and is rising rapidly, a trajectory that will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. To tackle climate change we need to move quickly, and we need to act in unison—and 2009 will be an absolutely crucial year. This December, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark to craft a new global treaty on cutting emissions. The problem is, the treaty currently on the table doesn't meet the severity of the climate crisis—it doesn't pass the 350 test. In order to unite the public, media, and our political leaders behind the goal of 350 ppm, 350.org is coordinating a planetary day of climate action on October 24, 2009.

Please note St. Paul’s is ringing bells on Sunday, the 25th, at 11:30 after our Sunday morning service. We invite all the churches in the Virginia Diocese and especially our local Region XV to join St. Paul’s in taking action on this day to support the 350 goal by ringing the church bell or hand bells 350 times. We held a similar bell-ringing event last December that included a letter-writing campaign, cookies for families, and banners created by our youth groups, and it was a memorable and compelling event. This year we are recruiting other churches in town so that on Sunday the 25th around noontime, our community will hear the church bells echoing from the hills.

Please see http://www.350.org/plan and St. Paul’s Green Team webpages for additional ideas and materials on how your congregation or community group can join in.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Top Ten Reasons Men Shouldn't Be Ordained

Hilarious satire using the anti-women's ordination camp's logic to show why its actually MEN who shouldn't be ordained. Hey, same logic, same theology, different result - how can you argue with that? Excerpts from the list at christian feminism:

10. A man’s place is in the army.

9. For men who have children, their duties might distract them from the responsibilities of being a parent.

6. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. This is easily demonstrated by their conduct at football games and watching basketball tournaments...

2. Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep paths, repair the church roof, change the oil in the church vans, and maybe even lead the singing on Father’s Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the Church.

H/T the Rev. Scott Gunn's Twitter feed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

Health NGO Giants Lecture Dartmouth Freshmen

Tracy Kidder's "Mountains Beyond Mountains" was the required freshmen reading book for the summer before the Class of 2009 (me) arrived at Dartmouth College. The book is about the amazing health work done in Haiti by Paul Farmer, Ophelia Dahl, and Jim Kim's NGO, "Partners in Health." During orientation, we all attended a prominent geography professor's lecture about the book.

Mountains Beyond Mountains is also the book for the Class of 2013, but do they get a professor's leture? Nope. The little knuckleheads get a panel of Dahl, Farmer, and new Dartmouth president Kim. Wow; lucky twits. Worst class ever.



Dahl, btw, is the daughter of my favorite childhood author, Roald Dahl. Wow.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

RIP, CDA Wine Cellar

One of the best restaurants in Coeur d'Alene is closing. 'Twas my parents' favorite and my grandfather's favorite, and while I was never a huge fan of the food, it did have a great wine selection and atmosphere.

That's right, the one place for fine dining downtown that wasn't owned by Duane Hagadone - The Wine Cellar - is no more. This is big local news - almost everyone knows this establishment even if they've never been in. It was where my family ate the night my brother graduated high school. It was one of two places I went out with my parents this past summer. It shall be missed.

Get Out North Idaho has the full story.

Monday, September 14, 2009

See you next week (again)

I will be spending the next few days on retreat at a Benedictine mission house for my new job in Nebraska. I'll be back in action here at Wayward by the end of the week. My political blog Blue Moose Democrat, on the other hand, has pre-written articles set to automatically post all week long, so be sure to check for new content there daily.

Musical Monday: The Little Willies

Did you know that jazz icon Norah Jones also sings country music? Yup! In addition to her own albums, she is one of two lead singers for the band "The Little Willies," named for Willie Nelson. Here they are with one of Nelson's songs.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Bible Is Long, Yet Life Is Short

One problem – or at least, problematic challenge – with the Bible is that it packs far too much information into far too little space. This can be quite aggravating for someone trying to digest a book in only a few days.

Take Acts, a book I’ve been working through the past few days. The first four chapters alone are full of amazing stories with important meaning: the selection of a new Apostle, the Holy Spirit descending upon the Apostles, the use of many tongues, Peter’s sermons on the importance of Jesus and the meaning of Christianity, the lifestyle of the first Christian communities, Peter and John healing a man at the Temple, their arrest, Christ’s acceptance of Gentiles, and so forth. These stories raise so many questions:

  • What, if anything, do the lifestyles of the first Christians – “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need” – say about modern American consumerism and individualism?
  • Acts 1-4 make it clear that being a Christian is about far, far more than belief and evangelicalism. Do we, the current church, take the challenges of joining the Christian community and of sustaining our brothers and sisters seriously enough?
  • Peter seems to downplay the role of Pontius Pilate and the Romans in Christ’s crucifixion, focusing instead on the crowds, the Jews. Other New Testament passages make it clear that Christ’s relationship with the political powers of the day was instrumental in his death. So, what was the balance between the rejection of the crowds and the power of the government, and what is its importance?
  • What does it mean to be “Spirit-filled?” Is a born again experience, the descending of the Spirit, necessary to a Christian faith? Are Christian faiths that practice “speaking in tongues” grounded in strong theology? Is there a role for faith healing in the modern church?

John 6 is another action-packed passage. In just 71 verses – three pages in my Bible – we get the disciples’ doubt, the feeding of the 5000; Christ’s rejection of a crown; the calming of the storm; a lesson from Christ on the danger of seeing as believing and the importance of faith; Christ’s statements that He is the “bread of life,” that He will “Raise them up on the last day,” and that through Him we find “eternal life” (or, as Brian McLaren argues, “life of the ages”); part of the basis of the Eucharist; a verse that may support the doctrine of pre-destination; the disciples’ lasting commitment to Christ; and Christ’s prediction of Judas’s betrayal. All this IN JUST ONE CHAPTER!

So what is my point? It is this: anyone who claims to understand the Bible is almost assuredly speaking from a position of arrogance. There is far too much here to grasp in one lifetime. This is especially true of young Evangelicals. It takes decades of devoted, full-time historical, literary, and spiritual study to even begin to have a solid grasp on this material.

You might argue, but it has been said that God doesn’t give us anything that we can’t handle! And I would agree – but what does the world “handle” mean in this case? Perhaps we aren’t called to fully understand the Bible. Perhaps our call is to live a life of study, a life of challenge, and a life of constant growth, and to never wrap ourselves in the false arrogance of certainty. It is there in that constant state of immaturity and openness that we find Christ’s infinite love and acceptance.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Garrison Keillor Doing Well After Stroke

Gut wrenching news - I'm so relieved it sounds like he'll be okay! Prayers! From CNN:

Garrison Keillor, author and host of the folksy radio show "A Prairie Home Companion," was being treated Wednesday for a minor stroke he suffered over the weekend, a hospital spokesman said.

Keillor, who turned 67 last month, was admitted to St. Mary's Hospital at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, on Sunday night, spokesman Karl Oestreich said in a news release.

"He is up and moving around, speaking sensibly, working at a laptop, and it's expected he'll be released on Friday," Oestreich said.

"He plans to resume a normal schedule next week."

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Health Care Confusion, Glenn Beck, Van Jones, and More

A reminder that my political posts are now at MyDD.com and Blue Moose Democrat. At Blue Moose Democrat today, I blogged about Van Jones and Glenn Beck, then shared several quality summaries of the proposed health care bills to help make sense of it all. Also, I blogged about Texas Governor Rick Perry in one post at MyDD and Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd in another.

Musical Monday: Dropkick Murphys

In honor of Labor Day, I give you the Worker's Song from the ever-awesome Dropkick Murphys.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

See You Next Week

I'm heading out tomorrow morning on a four-day grand roadtrip to Omaha, Nebraska, where I will spend the next nine months at a church job. Highlights of the road trip will include camping in Badlands National Park, seeing a dear college friend of mine, possibly hiking in the Bitterroot Mountains, and more. I was originally going to prepare blog posts to go up in my absence, but I didn't get around to it, so this will be the last entry until Saturday at the earliest. See you then!