fireworks for the dogs

June 30, 2008

I learned today that animal shelters across our nation report more runaway dogs on July 4 than on any other day.  If you can overlook the melodramatic opening (story of a German Shepherd named D.O.G.), this article by the US Humane Society has some good tips on how to keep your dog safe amidst the festivities.  (Turns out cats love fireworks–inviting them to take a ride on a Roman Candle or to rip into a pack of blackcats just after you’ve lit the fuse might be one way to include this special animal in your evening of celebration.) 


(Eat your heart out Martha Stewart.)  I haven’t had a weekend this domestic in a long while.

In addition to trying my hand at a brand new recipe (i.e. Double-Berry Butter Cake with Vanilla Rum Custard or [the second option] Lemon Whip), I finally made a start at commemorating last summer’s beach trip (via photo-album).

I’ve only completed a fourth of the book, but I’m loving the album already!  Here are a few of my favorite pics:

(Isn’t that really all that needs to be said?!)

props to my buddy, josh

June 26, 2008

So … my all-time favorite album commemorating unrequited love is a little-known freshman project entitled About A Boy.  It just so happens I was suffering through my own season of prolonged & traumatic heartbreak when introduced to classmate/song-writer, Josh Bales (who told me such raw materials had been the inspiration for his first album).  Of course, I prefer to forget the fact that he was wrestling with (and writing songs about) such themes at age 16, while I was merely sulking in the company of his reflections … at age 28.  But catharsis, thank you very much, was had by all.  And yes (take this, ex-loves-of-our-lives), we’re the better for it!

Now, though, it seems we’ve both turned a happier-corner.  Just today, I uncovered Josh’s latest project –which (though-country) showcases his style & finesse in a way that’s distinct and (let’s go ahead & say it) more accomplished than his other stuff.  (Though my favorite song may still be a number from his album just priorHymn for All the World, a ditty Josh performed on graduation day in the company of a few hundred church leaders … commissioned to serve across the globe.  I cried.)  

In any case, I’m giddy to think I get to enjoy this old companionship (and now) in some brighter (more countrified) spaces!

(Thanks to that E-free church conference) … I’ve spent the better part of the last two days learning about holistic redemption in non-American contexts.  It’s been encouraging to hear stories about God’s intervention–directly and/or through His children–to show compassion and care for many in desperate need. 

I am struck–anew–today by the stark economic contrast between “my world” and the way most of humanity lives.  Such awareness forced me to do a little digging today and even more reflection (hopefully more still to come!) on what’s behind all this (disparity).

Maybe you, too, will find this website on Global Issues (or its accompanying article on Poverty Facts and Stats  a useful tool.

For the next couple of days, I’ll be attending the E-Free Church leadership conference.  Tonite, I accessed my hotel room (via key-card), only to find I’d walked into a space already occupied by someone else.  It was definitely a strange sensation to “walk in” on someone else when I expected to be settling into my new home.  (I confess, I banished quickly the thought that this was a premonition of things to come, as I seek to “settle into” my denominational “home” these next few days.)

I expect there will be some churches and church leaders who plan and approach life much differently than I, but I’m really hoping to invite those different perspectives to sharpen and shape my own.

I know it’s getting ridiculous that I’m regurgitating (verbatim) phrases, paragraphs, and (let’s face it) near-entire chapters from Wright’s latest book, Surprised by Hope. It’s only that I’m wanting to fully digest and (then) gain health from such important nutrients. (The metaphor seems none too strong, as I find myself badly malnourished regarding [what I’m coming to believe is] true Christian hope.)

So for my very own sake …

But when we reintegrate what should never have been separated–the kingdom-inaugurating public work of Jesus and his redemptive death and resurrection—we find that the gospels tell a different story. It isn’t just a story of some splendid and exciting social work with an unhappy conclusion. Nor is it just a story of an atoning death with an extended introduction. It is something much bigger than the sum of those two diminished perspectives. It is the story of God’s kingdom being launched on earth as in heaven, generating a new state of affairs in which the power of evil has been decisively defeated, the new creation has been decisively launched, and Jesus’s followers have been commissioned and equipped to put that victory and that inaugurated new world into practice. Atonement, redemption, and salvation are what happen on the way because engaging in this work demands that people themselves be rescued from the powers that enslave the world in order that they can in turn be rescuers. To put it another way, if you want to help inaugurate God’s kingdom, you must follow in the way of the cross, and if you want to benefit from Jesus’s saving death, you must become part of his kingdom project. There is only one Jesus, only one gospel story, albeit told in four kaleidoscopic patterns. Heaven’s rule, God’s rule, is thus to be put into practice in the world, resulting in salvation in both the present and the future, a salvation that is both for humans and through saved humans, for the wider world. This is the solid basis for the mission of the church.

–N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope