Thursday, November 30, 2006

For all you city dwellers, this is hilarious!

I've been sadly blogless lately, but I found this priceless piece of cyberspace. Check it out.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I woke up yesterday morning, thanking God for all that I have. Despite everything I've struggled through lately, I'm incredibly blessed. I just wish I could be more consistent in that posture of thanksgiving. Maybe it needs to become one of the cornerstones of my daily prayer. I've forgotten that far too often.
I broke my day-after-Thanksgiving tradition today--I didn't go shopping. Over the years today's been the only day I look forward to waking up pre-9am (more like 5ish). But I decided to do something different this year. I became one of the many who participated in Buy Nothing Day--an international protest against consumerism. Every time I came back to the States from 2.5 weeks in Poland, the consumerism was something that frustrated me. But I still am a part of my culture and I love to shop. So, I seized upon my cashpoor status this year to honor Adbuster's unofficial protest and didn't leave my house. There was plenty of internet time today, but none of it utilized the plastic. I know my statement is small, but it's valuable to me.
As a part of my non-shopping day I watched Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth. For those of you who know me, you know I'm not a crunch-granola environmentalist by any means. I've always recycled, but not to the point of nuttiness. I keep my energy consumption down and use public transportation, but mostly for economic reasons. I'm sure there's more I can do to reduce my global impact.

At any rate, rent the film. It's very well done and directed toward all of us science nerds who like to see the data. Let's use that information to push us toward being better stewards of our planet. We all need to be more aware of the climatic changes that have happened over the last 100 years. It's no accident that fossil fuel combustion increased exponentially in that time period.
K, I'm officially off my social justice soap box. Go forth and leftoverize.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Love-Hate Relationships

Sometimes I hate my city. Boston has atrocious traffic that I am often at zen peace with...but this is not the case when I'm running late and driving in places I don't know well. This happened to me 2 days in a row and I wanted to scream. I was hating the rain, hating the dark, hating the pedestrian whom I didn't stop for that later knocked on my window and told me off about not stopping. ARGH! Needless to say, I didn't get where I needed to go today. I'm SO taking the T to my appointment tomorrow. I don't care if it takes an hour...I just can't stand driving in the city any more this week.

But sometimes the love of my city is so strong I'm afraid my heart might burst out of my chest. I had one of those weekends, playing tourguide to my brother and his girlfriend, sharing this place I adore. I felt like Carrie Bradshaw in the S&TC episode "I Heart NY." Saturday night we met up at Park Street and hung out there for a few minutes. An atypical street preacher was there, not so far from us, yelling with all his might. He wasn't condemning anyone, but rather reading parables of Jesus. Once I finally got a handle on what he was saying, I recognized the words of the prodigal son:
"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son." (Luke 15:21, NIV)

The breath was sucked out of my chest. I have long seen Boston as one of the prodigals to whom I am called to preach. I remembered the call again, sitting on that brick wall, listening to a wild-eyed man scream out words of redemption rather than damnation.

No matter how I feel on any given day, I'm here for a purpose.

8But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
9you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, "You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off";
10fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:8-10, ESV)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Life is Stranger than Fiction

I spent a lovely afternoon at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, enjoying what may be our last glorious weekend before winter sets in. My brother and his girlfriend are in town and we've had a string of dinners out. Bertucci's, Silvertone, and Chau Chow City. Tonight was my first Chinatown experience. It was good but not anything better than I've had elsewhere. Anyway...

Since being a tourist is tiring, I urged our little gang to take a load off and see Stranger than Fiction. The film intrigued me and I hoped it would be good. It was. We all crammed into a crowded theater, ready to laugh. I have to admit I was expecting to laugh more, but there was an elegant wittiness about the entire film. It was gossamer, fine chocolate, and wine. Good stuff.

When Will Ferrell's Harold Crick gets past determining that he's not a schizophrenic, the film hits its stride. Crick seeks out a literary scholar (Dustin Hoffman) to find out who his life's narrator could be. The scenes between Ferrell and Hoffman are brilliant, deadpan comedy.

I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but I must comment on a theme that Angela brought up. Once Crick determines that he is not in control of the course of the narration, he finds unkempt, chain-smoking recluse author Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson). Overwhelmed by the fact that her character is real, she admits to Crick she is trying to kill him in the novel and has fashioned the ending. She gives him the entire work which he then passes off to Dustin Hoffman. He reads it and tells Crick that the book is Eiffel's master work and it must not be changed--even if it means Crick's imminent death. The conversation between these two men is the pinnacle of the film and the crossroads for Crick is reminiscent of Christ. What was it like to read the book, knowing that this end was coming? Was the conversation between Ferrell and Hoffman anything like the one between Christ and God in Gethsemane? Something to think about in a new way.

The Notebooks

This blog is not about the overly-sentimental film of a similar title--it's about the chronicle of sermons and thoughts about life in Florida from 2002 to 2005. I'm dealing with an issue currently that I remember hearing about in a sermon from those days, so I set about to find my notes on it. I never found the sermon, but I embarked on an hour-long reliving of those 3 years. Sometimes I was good at journaling, sometimes not. I was alternately rejoicing in seeing my spiritual growth since then and becoming nauseous with the frequency of writing about certain topics.

My life has changed exponentially since then--I guess that's part of the reason why going back there is stranger every time. I've changed and I think I expect people and insitutions in Florida to change, but most haven't. That ought to be comforting, but it's not at all. I'm not trying to say that change is always the right thing and we should just change for the sake of it, but rather it's a part of who we are as believers. We should be constantly refined by Christ to become more like Him. Maybe that's why my last visit there was so sad (excepting 3 people). But maybe my expectation about change is too big.

Friday, November 10, 2006

oh crap

It's back again...that loss of control. I've got $100 in the bank. I just lost my major client. I'm sitting on 3 billable hours of work per week. I'm battling with anger over the position I've been placed in by others. My current place has very little to do with decisions that I made. I am choking to deal with that. I thought I was in control of my own life (lol). I need and want fellowship with believers to help deal with all this loss, but even that's been compromised lately. I am out to sea and it's scary as hell.

Then I found 1 Peter 4:1-2: "Since Jesus went through everything you're going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you'll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want." (The Message)

Oh crap.

And apparently worrying is not loving myself:

My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality. It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. And friends, once that's taken care of and we're no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we're bold and free before God! We're able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we're doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God's command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us. (1 John 3:18-24, The Message, italics mine)

My head in some ways knows God is infinitely bigger than my circumstances, but I am still a rationalist. No matter that I've seen God perform miracles, I don't see them for me. I feel defeated, directionless, and alone. For the first time in my life I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm completely stripped of ambition. I am not depressed anymore, but I need a rescue so bad it hurts.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

zen and the art of voting in massachusetts

so, i arrived back in the commonwealth this morning on a flight that was about 30 minutes early. bonus. then i was all bold and got on the t with a suitcase...during morning rush hour. i had to stand on the blue line, but there was a riverside green line train empty and waiting for me when i got to government center. i scored a single seat with plenty of room to store my green atlantic rolley bag. bonus number two. ang picked me up at waban so i could retrieve ye olde civic, which was not broken into (there have been some car break-ins recently in that wealthy neighborhood). bonus number three. we chilled with baby johnny for a while and then i drove home. i decided sleep was more important than eating so i napped and laid around until about 3pm. then came the inner debate. to vote or not to vote.

i debated this for about 4 hours, whence i discovered the turnout was higher than expected. this didn't bode well for my candidates/issues, so i made my way to the polling place the governmental website said was mine. it seemed kinda far away, but massachusetts is weird, so i went with it. i entered the hub of quincy old folk life--the senior center on southern artery--at about 7:20, expecting to connect my arrows with a magic marker and make my exit quickly. unfortunately, it was not that easy. i was in the wrong place. after having to say "willow street" about 5 times (not exaggerating) to the old ladies at the check-in table, they said i had to go somewhere else. they weren't quick to say where that somewhere else was. eventually, someone looked up the cryptic numbering of wards and precincts, and i was on my way to a school closer to my house. i entered, waited again, repeated "williow street" to the old ladies 3 times, and was AGAIN told i was in the wrong place. they said i needed to go to some elementary school even closer to my house. this had to be the right place. by this time it was about 7:45 and i was beginning to feel disenfranchised--the girl who wasn't even going to vote an hour before was screaming in her head about her democratic right to piss on the local majority party. i finally got to the school and said "willow street" 2 times to the old ladies, said 146 once, and my name once. (they never ID'd me and i had a clear view of the about easy to defraud this election!) AND THEY GAVE ME A BALLOT! yea! i trotted over to the mini jeopardy-partitioned desk and connected my arrows with the black magic marker. boo on you ted kennedy (neither he nor the republican even campaigned for this seat--i didn't know he was up for reelection until i checked the online ballot). boo on you deval "i defend malicious rapists and write to them in prison but i'm a hot black man" patrick. yea for wine in grocery stores (the liquor store lobby was the one against this proposition...hmmm...). i think the only one i might win on is the last. i'm sure i'll pay more in taxes the next few years and illegal aliens will have voting rights and driver licenses, but at least i get the wine at the grocery store--maybe i'll be able to afford it.