Thursday, January 31, 2008

Guillermo Del Toro to Direct Peter Jackson's Hobbit Series

Check it. I loved Del Toro's work in Pan's Labyrinth (one of my all time favorite movies). I'm excited to see what he will be able to do with New Line's budget for The Hobbit series. And it's reassuring to know Jackson is still at the helm producing.

Lord Save Us From Your Followers (Unofficial Release Date)

I got my hands on an early release copy of Lord Save Us From Your Followers back in October, and absolutely loved it. I have been keeping an eye out for a release date with out any success; until yesterday. A friend told me she had attended a pre-release screening. Dan Merchant (director) was present and said they are considering a summer 2008 release, but are still on the fence because of a pretty strong lineup already slotted for this summer.

Honestly, I don't think they can risk pushing it back any further. A lot of the content is extremely relevant with the upcoming presidential election. But that's just me.

I'll post word as soon as I hear anything new (because I know there are a few of you anticipating it's release).

Last night I had to commute out to PCC's Rock Creek campus for my hybrid sociology class. My roommate didn't have his truck in Portland so I plotted a route using public transportation. I absolutely love it! For less then the cost of parking at PCC (not to mention the cost of gas) I was able to make it out and back, completely stress free (as opposed to be stuck in stop and go traffic on the freeway), and was able to do a solid 2 hours of homework and reading.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Resurrection & Life in Crime & Punishment (3)

We looked at the life of Dostoevsky in Part 1. Then the plot and central action of Crime & Punishment in Part 2.

Now we will explore the climax. After committing two murders, a transformational God moment occurs in Raskolnikov's life.

Before confessing the murder to the authorities, he goes to Sonia and asks her for a cross to wear. “It’s the symbol of my taking up the cross” (Dostoevsky 517) he ponders. It is Sonia who has “the conviction that an all-merciful God could provide universal forgiveness for the sins of humanity – and for Raskolnikov as well.” (Freeborn 69) It’s Sonia, whose words he recalls on his way to confess. He was told to confess his murder at the cross roads at the center of town.
‘I am a murderer’, He trembled remembering that. And the hopeless misery and anxiety of all that time, especially of the last hours, had weighed so heavily upon him that he positively clutched at the chance of this new unmixed, complete sensation. It came over him like a fit; it was like a single spark kindled in his soul and spreading like wild fire through him. Everything in him softened at once and the tears started into his eyes. He fell on the earth on the spot… (Dostoevsky 520)

Before continuing on his way to the police station he quietly murmurs the words “I am a murderer” (521). Up until this moment he defended what he had done as not being a crime. Porifory Petrovitch had discussed with Raskolnikov on a previous occasion the topic of Nikolay’s religion. Nikolay had wished to suffer purely for the sake of appearing better to God. “It is not a question of suffering for someone’s benefit, but simply, ‘one must suffer’” (448). Porifory went on to say “this [confessing of the murder] may be God’s means for bringing you to Him” (454). Raskolnikov had understood the meaning suffering and did not want to turn himself in if he did not have true repentance. However, it is at this moment that he comes to true remorse in his heart and is ashamed of his crime.

Work Cited

Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment, New York: Bantam Books, 2003.

Freeborn, Richard. Dostoevsky, London: Haus Publishing, 2003.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Turkish Asure

The Rosegarden Turkish American Cultural Center was handing out free cups of Asure (Noah's Pudding). My taste buds can't stop raving about this stuff. I know it doesn't look all that appetizing, but check out the ingredients.

Ingredients: Dövme (dehusked wheat), Chickpeas, Dry white beans, Rice, Water, Dried apricots, Dried figs, Raisins (seedless), Almonds, Orange zest, Sugar, Rose water, Walnuts (not crushed),
Pomegranate, Pine Nuts, Cinnamon, Sesame seeds, Molassas.

It is one of the oldest and best known desserts of Turkish Cuisine. Legend has it that when Noah's ark rested on dry land, Asure was the soup they made with all the remaining ingredients that they could find in the ark. It is traditional to share with friends and family, but since you are not with me in the library as I read this, here's the recipe: Turkish Asure

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Harvest Community Church

I had a crazy (but AWESOME) weekend with a group of high schoolers from Harvest Community Church. Nightstrike/Homeless for a day/Walk-Abouts/Prayer Walks/Loving on the homeless/Leadership Lessons... it was an exciting 3 days.

Gasper, a good friend of mine from Slovenia, stayed with me for a couples days. I had a blast showing him around Portland. I introduced him to Nightstrike and he got the chance to work with the team a bit and share his testimony.

I don't have a chance to share any stories (and there are some good ones!) because I am swamped with school work. But, thank you for your prayers if you had been lifting up the team this weekend.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Quick Update From the Campaign Trails


On another note, Holy COW! I thought it was getting a little cold in the NW!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger

Hollywood lost a very talented actor today. I was especially anticipating his role as the Joker in The Dark Night.

But, I find it interesting that people make such a fuss about the death of someone who is placed on a pedestal for looking good, when there are 1,000's of children dieing a day from curable diseases in Africa (Or even that we take the time to educate ourselves on the lives of Hollywood celebrities, but not on the sex-trafficking of children!...I'm guilty of this, not sex-trafficking, but of being ignorant. Just thought I would clarify that.)

It's important to be honest with ourselves about why we are feeling compassion.

There is a striking quote in Beyond the Gates (Shooting Dogs) by a reporter. She is wrestling with the compassion she felt for the human suffering she had witnessed in Bosnia, but now in Rwanda, she feels nothing; simply because of the color of their skin. This is brutally honest.

It's important to be honest about how selfish we can be with our compassion, because this is at direct odds with true compassion.


Not that Heath Ledger's life is any less valuable (on the contrary, it is of priceless value!); but I can't help wishing that he would of sent some of the drugs he OD'd on to Africa, and saved a couple hundred lives, instead of wasting one.

Monday, January 21, 2008

LOVE146.org

Leading up to MLK Jr. day, I wanted to educate myself on a social injustice that is occurring in our world today. When I was at Mission Connexion on Saturday evening, I attended a workshop on child sex trafficking. My eyes were opened to how big this issue is. This is not a detached issue that is occurring in isolated locations on the other side of the planet. It is a globalized criminal activity (2nd most profitable behind drug trafficking), and it's happening right here in America as well...on Craigslist nonetheless! (See: Craigslist "Call to Action" Campaign)

As if we needed further evidence of the depraved broken world that we live in.

LOVE146.org has a wealth of information to educate yourself with. I encourage you to watch the movie about how the organization got started. Then take a couple minutes to browse the "Get Educated". I was pleasantly surprised with the fact that the "Get Involved" section has a lot of really applicable, tangible, impactful, EASY ways to be a voice for the oppressed, especially the 146 ways to get involved.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Christ's Body in the Tomb

There is an intriguing piece of art that plays a central role in The Idiot (It is also mentioned surrounding the events I posted about earlier in The Essence of Christianity in The Idiot).

The painting in question is Christ's Body in the Tomb by Hans Holbein the Younger in 1521 (One of the greatest portraitists of the early modern period and also contributor to Martin Luther's translation of the Bible):









(click for higher resolution)

It is said that after reading a description of the painting in Letters of a Russian Traveler, Dostoevsky made a special stop to see the painting at the Basel museum (Switzerland) a year before publishing The Idiot. Upon seeing it, Dostoevsky even stood on a chair in the museum in order to study the painting more closely and mentioned to his wife, "A man can even lose his faith from that painting!"

I can relate to Dostoevsky's comment. When confronted with the vivid reality of a decaying body in the tomb it forces one to confront the nature of faith; faith in a dead man's resurrection. This would make a great piece of art for an Easter service.

What do you think?

2nd in Nevada?

Look at my boy go!. Who would have thought the "unelectable" Ron Paul could get 2nd?

Here is one of the best TV interviews I have seen:

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Future Begins

I don't care if this makes me a geek, I'm flipping out right now! So excited!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

SOC376: Social Change

Oh man! The gears are turning, the juices are flowing, I'm getting excited!

I'm about halfway into the first book for my Sociology class this term, A Short History of Progress. This truly is a fascinating read on the depravity of human nature (aka. we screw things up time and time again because of our selfishness). I also read an excerpt from Lifelines From Our Past on Kinship Societies, and a short essay by Jared Diamond called "The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race". Anyone want to take a shot at what that might be? Later in the term we will be reading (I'm not going to lie, I already started it) PowerDown, which is a forecast of society by taking a brutal look at some of the crises stacked against us.

The class is a hybrid. Half in the classroom and half online. There is a lot of potential for great dialog on the discussion board. It will also be a good excuse to process what I am turning over in my brain and then repost it on my blog as well. So keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks!

The Pusuit of God: Restoring the Creator-Creation Relation

This will be my final post in the series I have been doing on The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. From Chapter 8, Restoring the Creator-Creation Relation:
"Our break with the world will be the direct outcome of our changed relation to God. For the world of fallen men does not honor God. Millions call themselves by His name, it is true, and pay some token respect to Him, but a simple test will show how little He is really honored among them. Let the average man be put to the proof on the question of who or what is above, and his true position will be exposed. Let him be forced into making a choice between God and money, between God and men, between God and personal ambition, God and self, God and human love, and God will take second place every time. Those other things will be exalted above. However the man may protest, the proof is in the choices he makes day after day throughout his life." (Pg. 96-97)
Those are questions that I seek to have penetrate ever aspect of my life. Where's your money going? Your time? Where are your dreams directed? Your heart? What are you living for?
"Anyone who might feel reluctant to surrender his will to the will of another should remember Jesus' words, "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin" (John 8:34). We must of necessity be servant to someone, either to God or to sin. The sinner prides himself on his independence, completely overlooking the fact that he is the weak slave of the sins that rule his members. The man who surrenders to Christ exchanges a cruel slave driver for a kind and gentle Master whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light." (Pg. 98)
So maybe a better question then the one I proposed above would be; what is keeping you from living? When we are restored to a right relation with God we are liberated to truly live, freed from the chains of sin and our old self. Having been convicted of sins in my life, as I read these words I can feel nothing but unhindered joy and excitement in our kind and gentle Master!

As you may have noticed, I skipped chapter 6 (The Speaking Voice) and 7 (The Gaze of The Soul). Not because they were bad, but simply because nothing really jumped and met me where I was at in life.

I did, however, really enjoy the last two chapters in their entirety.

The whole of chapter 9, Meekness and Rest, was an excellent breakdown of Matthew 11:28-30, "...My yoke is easy, and my burden is light". We can only arrive at this point if we get over ourselves and behold God.

Chapter 10, The Sacrament of Living, was a good summation of a holistic approach in our lives. Not living a divided spiritual life and a separate secular life while feeling guilty about the secular life, rather a single unified life pursuing God.

---
Chapter 1: Following Hard After God
Chapter 2: The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing
Chapter 3: Removing the Veil
Chapter 4: Apprehending God
Chapter 5: The Universal Presence
Chapter 8: Restoring the Creator-Creation Relation

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More Hobbit Details

Little information has leaked since we first heard The Hobbit had been given the green light. Elijah Woods was able to pull some tidbits out of Peter Jackson after exchanging some emails.
"I haven't spoken to [Peter Jackson] directly about it [but] I've e-mailed him, and as far as I know the two films that they're doing, one will be 'The Hobbit' and another will take place between the 60 years that happened between 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings,'" the once and future Frodo enthused to MTV News, possibly confirming rumors that the second planned film would not be a Part II, but instead a narrative bridge." (FirstShowing.net)
In other news, I just ran into someone at Cafe D reading The Shack. I am so excited this book is getting around. A woman whom I barely know ran into me at church last night and said "I heard you have been promoting The Shack! I am reading that book right now and absolutely love it!" Not that it is a bad thing, but I'm really curious, and slightly amused by, how this word is getting around that I am promoting a book.

I finally got my hands on Consuming Jesus and The Divine Embrace, both of which I have been greatly anticipating. Unfortunately, I will have to put them on hold until I finish The Idiot, The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, and get on top of some reading for my Social Change class (I'm really excited about this class by the way! It will probably be the topic of many posts in the near future).

Back to Spanish homework...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Order Coffee on Your iPhone

Now that is so utterly useless, and yet simply amazing! You can find more mock ups over at gizmodo.

In other news, MacWorld 2008 starts on Monday! Here's a great list of what to expect (along with a few dreams).

Friday, January 11, 2008

Voice of The Constitution *UPDATE*

I love this man. He is a voice of the Constitution. I applaud this man for his courage and nobility in facing such insurmountable odds.



*UPDATE 11:58pm* FOX pulled the video off YouTube! Someone uploaded it again so you better watch it while you can!



1000's of clips from the presidential debates have been uploaded on YouTube, but FOX decided to pull this one because of terms of use violation!?!? FOX will truly learn the lesson of blowback on this one. I love the power of the internet.

Whether he wins the election or not, a revolution has been started. I hope his name goes down in history as igniting the lost spark in the Republican party.

Oh, and can I say that I officially loathe FOX? In my mind, they have lost what little credibility they had left as a news source (And I used to be a Fox junkie, as little as a year ago). I'm sorry it had to be this way, but after this our ways must part.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Justice Served *DELAYED*

Yesterday I was at the Clackamas County Courthouse.

My mom was thoroughly shaken a couple weeks ago when a sheriffs car pulled up to our house. Even more so when he asked for me. I'm sure questions were racing through her head; something along the lines of "what is he REALLY doing on Friday nights?!" Fortunately he was only delivering a suopena for me to testify in court against a drunk driver I had called into 911 a few months prior.

I had debated on whether or not to call 911, but I finally realized that not only was his reckless driving putting himself in danger, but the lives of others on the road. After speaking a couple times with the District Attorney on the phone, he explained my role in the case was an essential piece to the puzzle. I came to the conclusion it was worth it to miss my second day of classes to make sure he faces the consequence of his actions.

Unfortunately, the hearing was bumped back to March 25. I still thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Sitting down and talking through the process with the DA. People watching for an hour outside the courtrooms while I was waiting. And finally, walking past the man I accused outside the courthouse.

Okay, that last one wasn't exactly enjoyable. I'm not going to lie. I was scanning the vicinity for the closest police officer and I definitely was watching my back before I got in the car. Good thing I was borrowing a friends car in case the guy got the plates.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Essence of Christianity in "The Idiot"

Ever the theologian, Dostoevsky, in The Idiot, includes an interesting dialog between two of the central characters. The conversation takes place between two men. They are good friends despite both being awe-stricken by the same crazy woman with the beautiful name of Natasya Filippovna (she's the dark, allusive, spontaneous, moody, confident type). Rogozhin questions Prince Myshkin (the "Idiot") as to whether he believes in God or not. In response Prince Myshkin recounts a series of 4 encounters that happened over the course of two days the previous week.

First he had a 4 hour train ride on which he conversed with a man of “rare courtesy”, was a well known scholar, and who also was a devout atheist. He then arrives at his destination only to hear a story of a murder that occurred the previous night. A man, though "not a thief", murdered his friend for his silver watch he had been tempted by. It is said he “went up to him cautiously from behind, took aim, raised his eyes to heaven, crossed himself and, after praying bitterly to himself: “Lord, forgive me for Christ’s sake!” – killed his friend with one blow, like a sheep, and took his watch.”

Rogozhin has quite a laugh over this second event responding, “Now that I like! No, that’s the best yet! The one doesn’t believe in God at all, and the other believes so much that he even stabs people with a prayer!”.

The third event occurs the next morning Prince Myshkin is taking a stroll through town and comes across a drunken soldier who offers to sell a silver cross for twenty kopecks. The cross, of Byzantine design, is obviously made of tin, but he buys it all the same. The soldier stumbles off to "drink up his cross", quite pleased that he was able to dupe the Prince.

And this is where it gets good…
Prince Myshink “went along and thought: no, I’ll wait before condemning this Christ-seller. God knows what’s locked away in these drunken and weak hearts. An hour later, going back to my hotel, I ran into a peasant woman with a nursing baby. She was a young woman, and the baby was about six weeks old. And the baby smiled at her, as far as she’d noticed, for the first time since it was born. I saw her suddenly cross herself very, very piously. ‘What is it, young woman?’ I say. ‘It’s just that a mother rejoices,’ she says, ‘when she notices her baby’s first smile, the same as God rejoices each time he looks down from heaven and sees a sinner standing before him and praying with all his heart.’ The woman said that to me, in almost those words, and it was such a deep, such a subtle and truly religious thought, a thought that all at once expressed the whole essence of Christianity, that is, the whole idea of God as our own father, and that God rejoices over man as a father over his own child – the main thought of Christ! A simple peasant woman! True, she’s a mother…and, who knows, maybe this woman was that soldier’s wife. Listen, you asked me earlier, her is my answer: the essence of religious feeling doesn’t fit in with any reasoning, with any crimes and trespasses, or with any atheisms; there’s something else here that's not that, and it will eternally be not that; there’s something in it that atheisms will eternally glance off, and they will eternally be talking 'not about that'.”
I find it fascinating that Dostoevsky's view of Christ, in a book first published in 1868 and in the midst of the Eastern Orthodox church, was so relational. I absolutely love how Dostoevsky makes the "simple peasant woman" the brilliant "theologian". Through the power of the Spirit we are all made able to know God. It is not some higher calling reserved for the super-spiritual. And I also find his understanding of faith quite interesting (especially in light of much more discussion about atheism earlier in the book).

I should add, after hearing the fourth encounter, a much sobered Rogozhin asks if the Prince is still wearing the tin cross; which he is. He then asks to exchange crosses, being a common custom symbolizing spiritual brotherhood.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

informal NIGHTSTRIKE

I love my friends.

With Nightstrike on a hiatus until January 18th (the director is taking his sabbatical), a few of my friends and I were itching to get back out and serve. On Friday night 12 of us got together at Winco and spent roughly $10 on 4 loaves of bread, peanut butter, jelly, and hot cocoa. We carpooled downtown. I opened up Liberation and we put together walk-about bags for 3 groups. Each bag had just over a loaf of PB&J's, 20 socks, and carafe of Hot Cocoa with 20 cups. Before hitting the streets we spent some time in worship, prayer, orientation to prepare our hearts and minds, and read through Matthew 5:1-16. We spent the next 2 hours on the cold, wet, and windy streets of Portland serving our city and loving on people.

I was really challenged by something Marshall (the director of Bridgetown) said a couple months ago to a group of 120 volunteers before Nightstrike. He questioned whether this would still happen if Bridgetown wasn't there? Would the Church still be alive and active? (For a great quick read on what the healthy Church looks like using different analogies in Scripture, check out Mark's Lesson #2: The Church as the family and body of Christ)

I am so blessed to have a great group of friends who are pursuing what living a Christ-centered life looks like in the context of being a young adult in the 21st century.

And since when does AOL know how to advertise?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Resurrection & Life in Crime & Punishment (2)

I am a quarter of the way through The Idiot (It pushes 600+ pages). In typical Dostoevsky fashion, the central characters have been meticulously developed and the plot is only now starting to pick up. It is getting nearly impossible to put down.

After providing biographical insight into Dostoevsky's life and journey to God in part 1, I will introduce the central character and the key plot elements of Crime and Punishment that parallel Dostoevsky’s own religious experiences and values.

Raskolnikov was brought up in a devout religious family. This is apparent from the start of the novel when he receives a letter from his mother and sister. She worries if her son still says his prayers and “believes in the mercy of our Creator and our Redeemer” (Dostoevsky 41). She continues on to reminisce of a day when he used to “say your [his] prayers at my knee…” (41). Although Raskolnikov has come on hard times and lost his childhood focus on Christ, he still desires the comfort provided through the connection with God. After having a vivid dream of the murder he was planning to commit, he falls to his knees and prays to God, “Lord, Show me my path - I renounce that cursed…dream of mine” (63).

After rationalizing the murder with human methods, he is thrown into a downward spiral of paranoia and regret. Once again he tries to find comfort in prayer, but can only laugh. It was not at the act of praying but at the person who was trying to pray - the person that had just committed two murders. Desperate and broken, he asks the little girl Polenka to “pray sometimes for me, too” (198).

Days after the deed has been committed, regret tears at Raskolnikov’s body and soul. He confronts his mother, but stops short of confessing the murder to her. He simply tells her she can’t follow him where he is going, “No, but kneel down and pray to God for me. Your prayer perhaps will reach him” (510). After his mother blesses him and signs him with the cross “for the first time after all those awful months his heart was softened” (510). Consequently he is torn apart by regret of the murder. True earnest repentance starts to penetrate his once cold heart.

Work Cited

Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment, New York: Bantam Books, 2003.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

10 Resolutions for Mental Health

-Piper posted the following on the Desiring God blog. This list had been shared with him by one of his professors when he was at Wheaton. This list really struck me as having as having potential for positively impacting my day to day life. Going into 2008 I am going to make an effort to observe these guideline. Hopefully I will post on my thoughts after a couple weeks.

1. At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above and about me.

2. Instead of the accustomed idea of a mindless and endless evolutionary change to which we can neither add nor subtract, I shall suppose the universe guided by an Intelligence which, as Aristotle said of Greek drama, requires a beginning, a middle, and an end. I think this will save me from the cynicism expressed by Bertrand Russell before his death when he said: "There is darkness without, and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendor, no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing."

3. I shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event, filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities. I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parentheses in my existence, but just as likely ladders to be climbed toward moral and spiritual manhood.

4. I shall not turn my life into a thin, straight line which prefers abstractions to reality. I shall know what I am doing when I abstract, which of course I shall often have to do.

5. I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.

6. I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their "divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic" existence.

7. I shall sometimes look back at the freshness of vision I had in childhood and try, at least for a little while, to be, in the words of Lewis Carroll, the "child of the pure unclouded brow, and dreaming eyes of wonder."

8. I shall follow Darwin's advice and turn frequently to imaginative things such as good literature and good music, preferably, as Lewis suggests, an old book and timeless music.

9. I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead, as Charles Williams suggested, "fulfill the moment as the moment." I shall try to live well just now because the only time that exists is now.

10. Even if I turn out to be wrong, I shall bet my life on the assumption that this world is not idiotic, neither run by an absentee landlord, but that today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course I shall understand with joy as a stroke made by the architect who calls himself Alpha and Omega.


And in other news...

- Kenya is looking at a small scale Rwanda situation. (See news.BBC.co.uk or www.nytimes.com) Pray for our brother and sisters on the other side of the world.

- For all you fellow Leopard users: Ultimate Leopard Tweaking Guide.