Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Prayer time

I used to have a sidebar that listed current prayer requests. I found, over time, that they became less and less current and eventually removed it completely. However, I still want to bring up a few items for prayer, and I ask that you remember these.

Mrs. E's grandfather is in pretty bad shape. He had a section of his intestines removed about a month ago, and he has just not been recovering well. He's been a little sick, and more than a little depressed at his current condition. He is a man who loves the outdoors, and loathes being inside for any length of time. He cannot even sit still through a church service, and has to go stand at the back to have some motion and freedom. As a boy he would leave home and walk around, going to visit his sisters (who were much older) or just walking, for days at a time without telling his parents where he was. Even as he aged, he was always sitting outside rather than inside, and still took several walks every day. For a man like this to be confined to a hospital bed must be horrible. We're going up to Temple to visit him Thursday and Friday; we fear it may be one of our last visits, but pray that he recovers.

In the last few weeks, we have had a series of close friends move away. At the end of July, some of our oldest and closest friends left Houston for Tennessee. We cannot imagine not seeing them as often as we had, and already miss the game nights playing Clue. Last week was the first week we had to adjust to one of our newer friends, but who has become one of the closest, having moved. Her daughter is our daughter's best friend, and vice versa, and they still have not caught on that they won't be seeing each other as often. After her divorce, there was no real reason for her to stay here in a town where she knew very few people; she decided that if the chance arose she would move to be closer to her family. The opportunity came, and she is starting a new job there. We'll still see them periodically, as she brings her daughter down for visits with her dad, but not nearly as often. The move of this friend is also hitting Mrs. E hard, though she understands why it has happened and how it will be good for them. And another set of friends, also relatively new, are moving to Canada with his job (the bums!) sometime in the next few weeks. Honestly, we're at a bit of a loss with so many friends moving away at once.

Finally, Mrs. E and I are taking an intense marriage course right now called
Dynamic Marriage (based around the books His Needs, Her Needs and Love Busters by William Harely). Over the next eight weeks we'll be looking at our marriage perhaps closer than we ever have. We already see some good coming from this, to strengthen and improve our relationship. We've watched too many close to us recently whose marriages have fallen apart, and we want to do all we can to make ours one that will last. Please pray for our growth through this process.

Thanks, everyone, for taking time to pray for us and our family.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Music Review: Tell Me What You Know from Sara Groves

Oh, tell me what you know
about God and the world and the human soul,
How so much can go wrong
and still there are songs.
In 2006, Sara Groves took a trip with Gary Haugen (of International Justice Mission) to Rwanda. What she saw there changed her – maybe not radically, but in an accumulation of subtle shifts. Her latest album, Tell Me What You Know, is in a way her conversation with us about what she experienced. Listening to Tell Me What You Know, I cannot help but believe she learned about hope; hope in the direst of circumstances, hope to endure and overcome.

Sara Groves - Tell Me What You KnowAt times stylistically a little different from her previous work, this album has an overall energy that pulls you from one song to the next as Sara explores this theme of hope. The album opens with "Song for My Sons" which is, as you would expect, for her sons (and daughter). As Sara liltingly sings her hope for her sons, you hear your own prayers for your children. But, to be honest, when I play the album I find myself wanting to skip through to the next song "In The Girl There’s A Room" – not because "Song for My Sons" is a bad song, but because I know what is coming up next. "In The Girl There's A Room", from which the above chorus and album title are taken, is a song that sticks in your head. Inspired by stories from IJM (and co-written with Charlie Peacock), Sara looks inside each of these people and finds hope in the face of sorrow and pain and horrors. "In our hearts and souls / an unstoppable refrain / hope stands in defiance". The chanted verses and catchy chorus pull you into the rhythm of the song and stay with you, and "In The Girl" is one of the highlights of the album.

Another highpoint on the album is found in "I Saw What I Saw". This was actually the first song I heard on the album, as a video of this song overlaid with clips of Sara in Rwanda was released on YouTube several weeks ago (the video can be viewed
here). Sounding like the piano-driven work of Add To The Beauty, "I Saw What I Saw" recounts how her experience in Rwanda has changed her life.
your pain has changed me
your dream inspires
your face a memory
your hope a fire
your courage asks me what I'm afraid of
and what I know of love
Sara gives us a pair of songs serving as calls for action with "Love Is Still A Worthy Cause" and "When The Saints". In "Love Is Still A Worthy Cause", she addresses our frustration and desire to give up when things do not go as we would wish them; she implores us to press on in our work for God. "when you count the cost and all seems lost / love is still a worthy cause / when you're pressing on though your strength is gone / love is still a worthy cause." With "When The Saints", Sara takes a turn on the traditional song. Instead of focusing on the hope of marching into heaven to see old friends, though, she turns to marching into the battle we face every day to live for God. Beginning with a reference to Jeremiah 20:9 (which goes back to her song "Jeremiah" from The Other Side of Something), Sara talks about the passion to act in God's name and, again, the frustration of so much to be done. "I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard / I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars." Dwelling on the courage and passion of those who have gone before, she calls us to join in step and join in the fight where we can. ("When The Saints" is already available as a single from iTunes and in retail stores.)

The songs "Honesty" and "Abstraction" look at just how well we know ourselves and how well we can know others. With the latter, Sara sings about how, no matter how well we think we know a person, there are depths that we cannot fathom. When we try to understand a person, even ourselves, there is too much for our limited humanity to take in and out of necessity we leave reality and enter the abstract, the simplified, to try to grasp the entirety of the person. In "Honesty", inspired by
Dietrich Bonhoeffer's thoughts, she encourages honesty with ourselves as a step towards salvation "only the truth and truthfulness can save us now." Both are very compelling and deep songs requiring us to take a fresh look at our lives and our perceptions of those around us.

With the song "Say A Prayer", Sara is remembering the trials of a childhood lost (or taken away) in the struggle to survive. It was inspired by the prayers of a teenage girl, kidnapped from her home in Southeast Asia and sold into slavery in a brothel in a foreign country. She endured eight months of forced prostitution - with the others mocking her faith in God to save her from this life - before being rescued by an operative of IJM (a scene recalled in a line in "When The Saints"). Sara brings her sorrow and hope to life in this song. "The Long Defeat" is a call for endurance and encouragement in our daily struggles with sin – we've already lost the battle for perfection, but as we continue to strive for this goal we must not shy away from the fight that seems impossible. She prays for inspiration and guidance and relief. With "It Might Be Hope", Sara nicely summarizes the overall theme of the album, how hope lingers on and can still be found in everyone. She closes the album with "You Are Wonderful", an offering of praise to her Savior and friend, Jesus. Given the normal stylistic models of modern praise and worship songs, you might expect this to sound flowing and somewhat grandiose – you'd be wrong. Sara sounds like a girl talking to her good friend in a simply presented, almost bouncy lyric.

How good is the album? Some of the songs don't work for me as well as I would have hoped, "You Are Wonderful" and "Song For My Sons" being examples of this. (Not to say they are bad songs - I actually like the beat of "Song For My Sons", but for some reason it still doesn't work as well as I would like.) There are other songs that keep running through my head as I hear the melody and ponder the words and meanings, such as "In The Girl There’s A Room", "I Saw What I Saw", and "When The Saints". The rest, though not the songs I am first drawn to, I find grow on me more every time I listen to them (it'll take me a while to unpack everything in "Honesty" and "Abstraction"). I would recommend this album to anyone who likes to hear well-written music sung with passion and vibrancy. Overall, it is a very good album and continues Sara's proclivity for producing thought-provoking and entertaining music well worth listening to.

Tell Me What You Know hits the stores on November 6th. You can hear more song clips, read the lyrics, and pre-order a copy at
Sara Groves' store.

(P.S. I would like to thank Christy at
INO Records for providing this pre-release. She's such a nice gal!)

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Public Service Announcement

TelemarketerFor those who did not know and do care, the "Do Not Call" list of phone numbers that telemarketers have to consult and avoid is not a permanent list. When (if) you signed up, if was to be on the list for five (5) years; since the list is now five years old, the earliest adopters are about to be dropped from the list. If you wish to register for the first time or renew your phone number's presence on the "Do Not Call" list, you can register on-line at It may take as much as a month or two before the calls stop (as the companies only have to update lists monthly) but before long there will be more silence in the house. But, if you're really lonely and just want someone to talk to, don't sign up and chat away with the telemarketers - you have my permission.

Credit CardsIn a related note, did you know that a similar list exists for credit card and insurance applications? Well, it does! It is not as thorough as the "Do Not Call" list, and only covers companies who get their lists from Equifax, Experian, Innovis and TransUnion; but, with these blocked, the number of applications for pre-approved cards and insurance should drop dramatically. Go to and you can register to be excluded from lists for five years by filling out the on-line form. If you mail in the form, you have the option of having your name excluded permanently. They will ask for your name, address, social security number, and birth date - ick! BUT, you are only required to give your name and address; they ask for SSN and birthday to help "ensure and expedite" the process. Personally, I would say don't give them anything but your name and address.

Hope you find this helpfull!

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*awkward silence*

I don't know what to say. Don't be a Lindsey.

And don't forget our old friends, the Crash Test Dummies!
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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Poll: What do you wear to work?

What do you wear to work?

How does it affect your personal attitude?

How does it affect how others at work respond to you?

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Monday, September 17, 2007


Hypothetical Situation #1: You are driving down the road, when traffic slows to a stop at a red light. The person behind you, driving a truck and pulling a horse trailer, fails to slow down and rear-ends your car, doing non-negligible but non-critical damage to the read of your car. You proceed to do all the usuals, trading contact and insurance information, and only later find out that their insurance had lapsed. What do you do?

  1. Talk to the person, and try to arrange for their reparations of your car.
  2. Talk to the police and/or a lawyer and begin some form of legal action to recover damages.
  3. Let it drop, since the damage is no-critical.
Hypothetical Situation #2: Same as the above case, with the exception that the person who rear-ended your car is not reachable (phones disconnected or unanswered, etc.). What do you do?
  1. Talk to the police and/or a lawyer and begin some form of legal action to recover damages.
  2. Let it drop, since the damage is no-critical.
Hypothetical Situation #3: You enter into a business relationship with a friend, investing a fair amount of money into the venture. As time goes by, you begin to realize that your friend was a poor choice as business partner and discover that bad management and actions of dubious legality are resulting in the total loss of your investment. What do you do?
  1. Talk to your friend and either force him to straighten up or vacate the arrangement.
  2. You cease your part in the business.
  3. You begin legal action to possibly recover some or all of your lost investment.
Hypothetical Situation #4: Same as case #3, with the exception that the business partner is not a friend, but simply a partner. Same choices as above.

Hypothetical Situation #5: You discover, round about, that someone or someones at work have been talking badly about you - rumors, gossip, exaggerations, half-truths and outright lies which are both malicious and damaging to you personally and professionally. You quickly discover who has been doing this. What do you do?
  1. Vocally denounce the rumors that have spread and try to clear your name.
  2. Speak to the person/people who have initiated this to find out why they are doing this and try to get them to stop.
  3. Quietly speak to your boss and/or their boss to clarify the matter and defend yourself.
  4. Ignore the matter, though hurtful, and trust that your life will speak for itself.
Multiple answers for each question are allowed.

I propose these hypothetical situations as a continuation of the discussion begun in my previous post on Christianity and indemnification. "Defend" in the previous post seemed to be more narrowly defined by readers than I had intended. A good discussion was had on gun ownership, but I intended the topic to be a broad discussion of defense of self, possessions, honor, etc. What does it mean in our daily lives to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile? (Luke 6:27-36, Matthew 5:39-41) As to the above questions, I don't know that I have good answers - even though several have not been "hypothetical" in my life. As before, I have to ask myself why pursuit of justice ends and vengeance begins. Where is my forgiveness? Where does the legal system that we have, and the protections it allows - which are, mind you, ordained and allowed by Jehovah - cross the boundary of righteous behavior?


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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Amoeba Soccer

Today marked the first soccer game in Lil'E's potentially fabulous career. Under 5 soccer is some of the funnest stuff to watch. You know they just don't get it. They try and try, but you have to tell them five times a minute which way to go and what to do. And they move around the field like an amoeba. Here's a shot of Lil'E doing the right thing. Yeah!
Lil'E's first soccer game
(She's the girl in green in the middle. The guy in green really tore up the field.)

It's a crazy process, if you've never been through it. The park had cops directing traffic in the parking lot. Since last week's game was rained out, she actually had a chance to practice before her first game. The uniform she got - sized "youth medium", aka it almost could have fit me, the chubby thirty something man. Crazy. About two minutes into the game, Lil'E got the ball and was moving it down field when someone on the other team kicked it away from her. She stopped, drooped her head, and ran to me on the sidelines crying. Four years of teaching her to share seems to have left its mark. Now I have to deprogram her for game-time only. Transform her from kind, gentle little girl to ruthless soccer fiend. Yeah!


Friday, September 14, 2007

Musical Mish-Mash

  1. If you like free music, go to FreeCCM right now. For the exchange of your e-mail address (which they only use to tell you about when new music is available on FreeCCM) you can currently download songs from:
    • Phil Wickham - "Sailing on a Ship" from Cannons
    • Chris Rice - "It Is Well With My Soul" from Peace Like A River: The Hymns Project
    • Fee - "Grace Will Be My Song" from We Shine
    • Todd Agnew - "Our Great God" from Better Questions

  2. I recently discovered that Charlie Peacock did a best-of album back in 2003, called Full Circle. Only he didn't just slap the old music on a new disk, he asked friends he's worked with to collaborate on re-making the songs with him. Good stuff! The opener is "In The Light" (for those who didn't realize, he wrote and recorded this song long before dcTalk was a band), with Sara Groves sharing vocal duties. The music is done by Béla Fleck and Phil Keaggy, whose interplay between banjo and guitar is wonderful listening. Here's a clip:

  3. While we're talking about Sara Groves, Stephen pointed out that she has a video from her upcoming album Tell Me What You Know out. Watch it now.

    "I Saw What I Saw"

  4. Last of all, while we're talking about Sara Groves' new album, I am expecting to get a pre-release copy in the next day of two. Look for a review to show up here sometime the last week of September.
That's all for now.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

The quandary of Christian indemnification

I don't know if you have followed the story at all, but Mary Winkler appeared on yesterday's Oprah, talking about her conviction, her freedom, and her life. As a reminder, Mary Winkler is the woman who shot and killed her husband, Matthew, in May 2006 and fled with their three daughters to the beach. Matthew Winkler was the well-liked preacher at a small Church of Christ in Selmer, Tennessee; the defense that Mary presented shattered the perceptions of those who knew this couple. I have followed this story over the last year with some interest: I, too, grew up in a small Church of Christ in Abilene and my uncle, many years ago, preached with Matthew Winkler's grandfather. I could know this family, seen in a hundred others I've known in my life.

First, let me make it clear that I don't want to debate the conviction and sentence that she received: the courts evaluated the case, based on evidence, and decided that a charge of intent to kill was not appropriate; thus, manslaughter and the relatively light sentence (which, incidentally, Mary Winkler herself told Oprah was too lenient). This decision was made by people who did not have a vested interest in the case or in the people, but rather in the law, and I will trust and accept their wisdom. Clear? No rants from anyone (regulars or visitors) about how she should be locked away for decades, or the abysmal state of the American Justice system. If you want that, go somewhere else. Now. Thanks.

What I do want to discuss is something that I see going on in the aftermath, and how these actions pertain to the calling of Christ's disciples. (This case simply serves as a convenient example, but we've seen it happen in many others as well.) What is occurring, and what commonly occurs, is the family of the victim, Matthew Winkler's parents, are seeking to terminate her parental rights and are suing for $2 million in a wrongful death case. Basically, what it comes down to is that they are, intentionally or unintentionally, trying to make it impossible for her to move on with life. And this is an understandable reaction: their son is gone, even the image they held of him is broken by testimony in court, and all this was done by one of the people they trusted most. In a similar circumstance, I am confident that I would also have the strong desire to act in a similar manner. But, what I ask myself is this: should I, as a Christian, seek this kind of redress?

What cause do we, as Christians, have seeking punitive damages? The sin of the criminal action is (or should hopefully be) dealt with in a criminal proceeding. To my (imperfect) understanding, what passes in civil courts seems to fall squarely under application of such biblical commands such as found in Luke 6:27-36

27"But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29"Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. 30"Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31"Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33"If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34"If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35"But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36"Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
Where, I ask myself, does indemnification fit into such teaching? How can we righteously scream "Make 'em pay!"?

Time and time again, I read news of a criminal given a long sentence or having his life taken for his crimes, and see that the victim's families are there nodding approval. It is rare, indeed, to find the families offer true forgiveness and sorrow over where the criminal's life has taken him. So I ask, where do our actions transition from pursuit of justice to pursuit of vengeance?

Does forgiveness end? All good Christians know the Lord's Prayer "Forgive us our sins, as we forgive others", and so we readily offer forgiveness. But does that forgiveness include forgetfulness? Are we willing to remove the stigma of an offense committed and truly accept with love a brother or sister? In this case, the Winkler's do not seem to be able to do this, as they seek to forever terminate Mary Winkler's parental rights. I don't know their motivations, and I realize that wise actions do include limitations (don't give a drunk a drink is the common example). But is this not, at it's basis, also a denial of complete forgiveness? Does God tell us "I forgive you, but I'll never trust or use you again"?

We ask of a person actions demonstrative of remorse (repentance) when they have committed a wrong. In fact, a big part of the lenient sentence for Mary Winkler was her sorrow over the death, whereas many others are tried much more harshly because they lack remorse. But, do we also ask for proof that they will never sin again before extending our trust and forgiveness? I think, often, that we do just that, judging their hearts to justify our own. This is as true for the murderer as it is for the panhandler on the street corner. We decide on their worthiness for mercy and grace, and we act in accordance with our desires to force them to be different - sinless, perfect, or at least trying really hard. But that's not who we are asked to serve: the Christian should love and serve their enemies as readily and joyfully as though loving and serving their Lord.

One final question I have is this: How should Christians seek to defend themselves? Even more basic than this is should we defend ourselves at all? I spoke about
living the life of Isaac recently. He never defended himself, stood up for his rights or his property. No, he just moved on; Jehovah was with him wherever he went, not in the lands where Isaac had been but in Isaac himself. So I find myself questioning the righteousness of any type of suit for redress, be it against a believer (as Paul chastised the Corinthians for) or against an unbeliever.

I have many opinions on these questions, some more recently developed than others. But none are so firmly held that I will not reevaluate my theology in light of God's word and will. Elucidate me - what do you feel about these questions? More importantly, what do you believe is God's will in these matters (beyond personal feelings)?

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

All the roads that lead to Euphrony

Taste-o-VisionI recently asked all of my "loyal" readers where they come from, why they read, and what their perfect sundae would be. I actually had "loyal" readers respond - although only one listed their sundae selection (thanks, MammasBoy). Since interest was so low in sharing sundaes, I have officially scrapped the project of adapting Taste-o-Vision to my blog. Your loss.

My last post seemed aimed at amusing myself. At least, no one else got the joke. Again, your loss.

Today I bring you a selection of what brings strangers here. At one time, my top incoming search was for "Dora the Explorer". Alas, Dora has been usurped by ultrasounds. It would seem that lots of people are interested of those funny pictures of our innards. Here's the list, compiled from incoming searches from the last week (including the searcher's choice of spelling and capitalization):

3 week old embryo
character and attributes of the holy spirit
22 week fetus
optometrist glasses
ultrasound images of cmv
belated birthday present
how fast were the pitches in 1927
counting songs
Boy with and without glasses
ahab, was he a god fearing person
8.5 days pregnant
fast in conclusion
8 week 2 day ultrasound
video of "end of the line" by traveling wilbury
backing accidents
free ultrasound Houston
TAERT (I actually used this, but why anyone would search for it is beyond me)
Picture Dag
Bob Ross
donne meditation XVII analysis
birth plan
baby swing recall with ducks
what is neil peart worth
men who cut their "own hair"
touched by the holy spirit
t (actually, this simple search was repeated more than once)
last night got to do it (umm, what "it"???)
Acoustic Versions Susan Ashton
Halloween menus
paperclip outlet stupid kid
let my hands do God's work
lead paint toy recall
jimmy needham
the 3 tenors (big after Pavarotti's death)
In a way, each of us has an El Guapo to face (a personal favorite)
high white blood cell count face
wanted what my dog got
buddy rich vs animal
how to say thank you in a funny way
because I love I love her

I don't expect this to interest anyone, particularly. I'm just amusing myself. As usual. Ignore the strange kid in the corner.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Book Review (abridged)

The Princess BrideLet be begin by making clear that this is a book review and not a movie review. While I love the movie, I am specifically talking about the book The Princess Bride, S. Morgenstern's classic novel, abridged by William Goldman in 1973. Let us then continue.

I recently reread one of the great all-time classic novels of daring-do, The Princess Bride. A great work, well-abridged by William Goldman (who penned the scripts for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President's Men, and Marathon Man, among many other great works), this is by all measures an enjoying read. The funny thing of it is this: just after I finished reading I caught a snippet of an aural review for this on NPR (it being the 20th anniversary of the movies release). Interested, I went to the web to track down a text of this review. I was, admittedly, shocked when I finally found the text and discovered it to be a 500-plus page treatise on the novel, the movie, and the Goldman abridgement. The original book was only 1000 pages, and Goldman's "good parts" version only reached a little over 300 pages; finding so long and convoluted a review puzzled me, especially after hearing a more concise version on the radio. So, as a public service, I have decided to offer up an abridgement of the review, and forgive me if this action seems ludicrous (but it is).

Unfortunately, no copy of the original review, written by the leading Florinese expert in the U.S.A. - Professor Bongiorno of Columbia University, exists on the internet (don't ask how I found a copy, but I have some good sources). So take my word on this - I try to remain true to the review of the spirit of the novel, as captured by Goldman's abridgement. A great part of the Bongiorno review focuses on the satirical nature of Morgenstern's original (truly a classic) and the skewering of Florinese and Guilderian royalty. He includes in-depth discussion on why Morgenstern hated doctors (infinitely preferring miracle men to any sawbones), the exquisite detail paid to foliage, and laments on the slow destruction of landmarks such as the Cliffs of Insanity and the famous Florin/Guilder Fire Swamp by tourists (which he lays at Goldman's feet, of course). Here goes nothin'.

The Princess Bride, written by Simon Morgenstern, is a classic tale of high adventure, true love, revenge, giants, fencing, despair, and hope. The abridgement, by William Goldman, is as equally forgettable as Morgenstern's masterpiece is memorable. (Me again. How's that for getting things going. In two short sentences, Bongiorno presents his bias openly and sets up Morgenstern as the greatest author since God Almighty laid down the Ten Commandments. The whole review comes across with these kind of overstatements. Personally, I loved both the original - for its satire, though it goes slow at times - and the abridgement for the fast-paced action and for the insights on the difficulties of winnowing out the "good parts". Back to the review.)

In opening the pages of this great work, you find yourself transported to the lush forests and grasslands of Florin, jewel of Europe (see what I mean about foliage), where we find the plight of the common - though not so common - man. We find Westley, the archetypical rags to riches character combined with the abilities of any great adventurer, as an orphaned farm hand. His true love, the beauty Buttercup, hardly knows he exists until she realizes that other women notice him; then loves burns bright. As Westley goes to seek fortune to win Buttercup's hand in marriage, she progresses to becoming the most beautiful woman on earth and dwells in sorrow over Westley's supposed demise. Through capture and befriending by the Dread Pirate Roberts, Westley quickly becomes one of the greatest fighters and thinkers of the world, returning only to find that true love has become the princess and is to be wed soon to Prince Humperdinck, the greatest hunter ever (note the abundance of great people), who secretly plans his brides murder and war with Guilder.

Through confrontations with Inigo, Fezzik, and Vizzini, Westley reclaims his love, braving the fire swamp, only to lose her again to Humperdinck. Tortured for months by the cruel, six-fingered Count Rugen (killer of Inigo's father) Westley is finally rescued by Inigo and Fezzik, the very people he defeated in rescuing Buttercup, and resurrected by Miracle Max (he was, after all, only mostly dead). The trio proceeds to again rescue Buttercup from the foul Humperdinck, avenge Inigo's father, and evade Brute Squad's to find freedom and happiness.

Based strictly on historical events from the extended period of conflict between Guilder and Florin, Morgenstern . . . (
Sorry, me again. At this point, I feel, Bongiorno goes over the deep end and the proceeding 500 pages is, at best, unfathomable. At times he even slips into idiosyncratic dribble. I thus spare you the rest and conclude with this: read the book! You'll laugh; you'll cry; it's better than Cats. Take my advice and go get a copy now. If you get a more recent copy, you'll even be treated to Goldman's abridgement of the first chapter of Buttercup's Baby, the also-classic sequel by Morgenstern. Unfortunately, due to ongoing litigation between Goldman, the Morgenstern estate (represented by a family of lawyers by the name of Shog), and Stephen King (who has many Florinese relatives and an intense interest in doing the abridgement) the full abridged sequel has yet to see light of day. Keep hoping!)

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Who are you people?

And why do you keep reading over my shoulder?

No, seriously, who are all of you people who read/view my ramblings? According to
Feedburner, I hit an all-time high of 30 subscribers to my feed. I don't even begin to have a clue as to who all of you people are, but you must be gluttons for the ramblings of a rheologist to keep checking out what I have to say. (Or, maybe not, considering the interest in my last several posts. Maybe I'm really all alone, here, in the dark and cold recesses of the internet. *gulp* Mommy! I'm scared!)

Subscribers pie chart

Okay, so seriously (Wait, I already said that, didn't I? Well, I mean it this time.) who are you and why to you read. It can't be my poor attempts at witty banter, and surely it's not my magnetic personality (although that would be cool). Maybe it's my penchant for parenthetical statements (or not); maybe you are all rambling rheologists just like me. I don't know.

Tell me, please, your name and
bailiwick. If not your bailiwick, then what is your milieu? What brings you to these parts of the bloggosphere (should that be one "g" or two)? Finally, what is your perfect sundae?

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Natural Disaster: The Kids Game!

Dear United Nations,

Thank you for giving everyone the opportunity to plan for and possibly mitigate natural disasters in an
80's-style video game. I sincerely appreciate how you were so deftly able to teach me the importance of defences, warning systems, and community building opportunities in the face of floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes. I promise that next time I will not place the hospital on the beach, without proper structural supports, before a tsunami hits. In retrospect, that was probably not the best move. Same goes for building the emergency shelter as a grass hut when a wildfire was likely. My bad.

Tsunami Scene

Most important, I want to thank you for preventing me from demolishing, willy-nilly, the existing infrastructure of a community for the base purpose of building up my hotel empire. I can only assume that this is symbolic that you, the United Nations, are deeply interested in every community - large or small - and of the power you wield sufficient to prevent greedy "players" from taking advantage of the common man.

Wildfire in Progress

I am eagerly awaiting the famine, pestilence, and genocide editions, which I will play with equal fervor. Until then, I will have to continue to practice my skills at staving off these basic natural disasters.


P.S. I love your
other kid's offerings, as well.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Livin' la vida Isaac

Let's just begin by saying this: I'm no Ricky Martin. If you know me at all, you'll know that I am not a person who leads a crazy life - I may be a slight bit on the crazy side of things, but I am about as safe and predictable as they come. So, having established that I'm not livin' la vida loca, I will say that I have become rather enamored of the life of Isaac recently. In fact, if their is any one person whose lifestyle I am trying to emulate (besides Jesus, of course) it would be Isaac. I'm trying to live la vida Isaac (insert catch latin rhythm here).

Okay, what am I talking about? You know Isaac, right. Not the one on The Love Boat, serving up the drinks to the guest star of the week. The one that was offered up as a sacrifice by his father, Abraham, and was spared by God. Yeah, that one. What part of his life, you might ask, are you emulating? Probably the two things you know offhand are his near sacrifice and his lying about Rebekah being his sister to the king, Abimelech (just like dear old dad). Okay, you probably also remember that as an old man with failing eyesight he bestowed the blessing on Jacob, his younger son, instead of Esau when Jacob and Rebekah conspired to trick him. What part of that am I emulating?

Well, there's more to his story than just these Sunday School highlights. Take, for example, his time among Abimelech and the Philistines (read along in
Genesis 26). Jehovah had set out from the start to bless Isaac. Despite the lie about Rebekah (which was told to the king, of all people), no harm came to him when the truth came out. You see, Jehovah wanted Isaac protected - even when Isaac was not fully trusting Him. And so the king who could have easily had him killed for such actions instead was more worried about how he or his people might have sinned in ignorance of the truth. And the blessings continued, we see, as Isaac was blessed with a crop one hundred times larger than what he had sown (Genesis 26:12). Sure, you say, who wouldn't want to live this life? Cue the Joel Osteen quotes and lets all have the health and wealth gospel, eh?

But, you know what, the prosperity gospel only works here if you conveniently ignore what happens next. You see, Abimelech clearly recognizes the hand of Jehovah on Isaac's life, and he's afraid because of it. The Philistine's were jealous, stopping up Isaac's wells to try and hurt him, and Abimelech "asks" him to move along. What did God's blessing bring Isaac? For a time, it made him homeless as a nation turned against him. But what does Isaac do? That's the real question. Read closely and you'll find that Isaac - wait for it - moves.

Okay, you say, who can fight a king? Of course Isaac moves. But read on. Jehovah continues to bless him in his new home just down the road. And the Philistine's continue to quarrel with him. In each conflict Isaac pulls out his sword, rallies his servants, and drives off the people treating him unfairly.

Well, maybe not.

Just like with the king, when he finds contention with the locals Isaac simple moves along. He doesn't grumble about being treated unfairly. Never once does he lose his patience or trust in Jehovah. And Isaac is maybe one of the most peace-loving people recorded in the bible - not once do we see him with sword in hand preparing to smite his enemy. In fact, because Isaac was so continuously blessed, Abimelech eventually comes back to him, more or less with hat in hand, and begs Isaac to make a treaty with him. Catch that? A king, a nation, is making a peace treaty with one man, who happens to have never threatened them with violence.

When I say I trying to live like Isaac, I'm not saying that I want material blessings or international recognition. I'm saying that I want to learn to live in such a way that everyone, and I mean everyone, knows without a doubt that I have been touched by God, filled with His Spirit. Full of peace (
Matthew 5:9). Content with whatever happens (Philippians 2:14). Not suing for redress of unfair treatment (Luke 6:27-30). Filled with Godly wisdom. (Hey, Isaac was wise enough to know both of his children well. Well enough that, when blessing Esau, he knew just what blessing Esau needed. And yes, Isaac blessed both Jacob and Esau.) A simple man, living life in such an obvious way that people knew Jehovah and responded to Him - just because they knew Isaac.

You know what: since I have been consciously trying to live like this, I've actually noticed some results, in my life and in the people around me. During the 40 Day Fast, I made a point of trying to be private in my fast. To do this, I had to notify one person, who would have been buying me a birthday cake at work, that I would be forgoing that cake. I did this for simplicity and privacy in the fast, so I would not be acting the holier-than-thou fool standing over my own cake and not eating. She was so moved by what I was doing, and who I was doing this for, that she got a bunch of people at work to chip in and make a donation to
Blood:Water Mission. Just me, trying to work out my own salvation, and in the process moving others to compassion and to do something beyond themselves. To make it clear and not imply any type of arrogance here: Nothing. I. Did. Caused. This. I was just working on me and my God. It was God who did that, and touched these people; and He did it through my being obedient to Him.

Blood:Water Mission in actionI've made it a point to have a photo that Blood:Water sent our family nearby most of the time. Something I can look at and remember who and what I've been praying for with them. I kept one photo in my bible; it needs replacing now. Some good friends at church had a learning moment with their two boys, recently, teaching them that the water they had wasted was not to be taken for granted. The boys had turned on a sprinkler and left it on all day, so to teach them a lesson they got to move a bucket of water one cup at a time - working hard for water, like people who do not have it so easily at hand do. I saw her blog post and talked to her the next day after church. I showed them the picture in my bible, thinking it would help drive home the lesson to the boys. It did: the boys (5 and 7) decided to start giving monthly to Blood:Water Mission. Wow. Simply by reminding myself of God's mission to touch peoples lives, others have been moved to touch lives, too. Again, nothing I did, there: Jeff and Erin taught the lesson, not me, and did a good job of it. At best, I helped provide and outlet for the lesson to be applied. Not much, but a lot.

That's what I'm trying to do, living like Isaac. Not much, but a lot. Simple things. Focus on my need to be with God, my need for His grace and righteousness. Let God show through me, be known through me. Let God work, let me be His tool. Get myself out of the limelight, let God's hand on my life be seen. That, I'm convinced, is when things really happen. We say it all the time, that we can do nothing but God can accomplish all things. Well, now I'm just trying to live it. Livin' la vida Isaac.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Hey, baby, do the hustle

Baby Loves DiscoOh yeah, its real. Grab your kids (7 and under only), slip on your platforms, gold chains, and leisure suits, and get your moves on. It's Baby Loves Disco. I really don't know what else to say, except burn, baby, burn! And the only thing that is slowing us down from going is the cost: $12 per walking human.

Apologies. I feel I really left a lot on the table with this post. Honestly, when Mrs. E first told me about this I thought there is just so much material here to work with that it was a natural for posting. Alas, I came to the plate and struck out on this one. Pathetic and shameful, really. If I were a Brant Hansen or a Shaun Groves, with a true spiritual gift of sarcasm, then you would have enjoyed this post and come away laughing. I promise to do better next time.