Friday, July 31, 2009


Many strange and unexpected things have happened this week. A few include:

I saw the Pastors I work for, Nick Nye and Joe Byler perform at Columbus's hottest gay night club. It's a long story but at one point I ended up in the VIP room.

The Monday night bike ride stopped by Columbus's Buddhist temple. We frightened the Laotian monks, who in turn gave of a tour of the facility. Very hospitable.

Tragically I was at a murder scene before the cops arrived. A man was stabbed repeatedly and died later at the hospital. Two men across the street were laughing at him as he bled to death. They were both arrested. It grieves to see a human created in the image of God treated this way.

I also led my team to victory in a game of touch football, which as most of my friends know is atypical for me to excel at sports. Well because of my recovering ankle I had to be all-time quarterback, which means I was partly responsible for every score, even an interception returned for a TD.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tim Strader or Tom Joad?

My boy Tim just pretty much threw down at a listening session regarding the USDA National Animal Identification System. Watch what he and Kentucky legend Wendell Berry had to say!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Keller on Material Salvation

"Christianity... is perhaps the most materialistic of the world's faiths. Jesus's miracles were not so much violations of the natural order, but a restoration of the natural order. God did not create a world with blindness, leprosy, hunger, and death in it. Jesus's miracles were signs that someday all these corruptions of his creation would be abolished. Christians therefore can talk of saving the soul and of building social systems that deliver safe streets and warm homes in the same sentence. With integrity."

-The Prodigal God (112)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Eventually I reach a point at shows where I just get bored and wish I was playing... I mean I look at the band and I'm like 'why should they have all the fun?'"

- Jon Badgley, while at a show tonight  

Just when I thought I hated Jane Austen

First sentence:

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains" 

This is already exponentially better than last time

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Betraying a Limited Vocabulary

I recently was at an Urban Outfitters and found a trendy little vocabulary book, which was in the clearance section as I suppose being intellectual is once again moving out of popularity. Well, I opened to the "V" section and was disappointed to discover there was only one word on two pages I did not immediately recognize or even use regularly in conversation. As my friends with more well-endowed diction (such as Toto, Sonium, Darren, or Jon) will readily testify, my linguistic arsenal is fairly limited, yet I aced this simple test. So basically, I came to the conclusion that at some point elementary vocabulary was redefined as advanced.

The following Harold Best quote seems to be especially pertinent.

"Mass culture is a culture that has lost this kind of love and respect for its language. It is a culture marked by the demise of a reverence for words and for their careful placement within an idea and its articulation. This demise cannot be fully understood without the recognition that the loss of a truth center allows us to use words not only untruthfully but also with carelessness and little thought of accountability... No words are left to express magnificence without resorting to the same words with which we have described the commonplace...

To what extent do we Christians pledge ourselves to forsake verbal worldliness- taking language in vain- and discipline ourselves so thoroughly as to be able to go into every catechetical and creedal corner and ever societal setting to articulate, eloquently and precisely, what it means to explore the full counsel of God and articulate this to a culture that has lost itself in meaninglessness?"

- Unceasing Worship (192-194)


Northstar, Seagull Bags, Paradise Garage, Urban Outfitters, Luck Bros. Coffee Shop, and the North Market.

Posing with Drew and Paul for a Polaroid portrait- in uniform with bicycles.

Introducing Drew and Paul to the craziness of the Monday Night Ride, which featured the return of the police helicopter.

Calling 911 for the first time in my life when a drunk kid lost control of his bike and smashed his face.

Logging in over 40 miles in one day with the GNC.

Delicious send-off brunch at the ill-named German Village Coffee Shop.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mini-documentary on the 930

Sojourn Community Church from The Austin Stone on Vimeo.

Some kids from Austin threw together this little documentary/video tour of The 930.  Great introduction to what we're all about at Sojourn and how we view our city and our facility.  

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sojournings: Psalm 87

1 On the holy mount stands the city he founded;
2 the Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.
3 Glorious things of you are spoken, O city of God.
4 Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon;
behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Cush- "This one was born there," they say.
5 And of Zion it shall be said, "This one and that one were born in her";
6 The Lord records as he registers the peoples, "This one was born there."
7 Singers and dancers alike say, "All my springs are in you."

Here is a very intriguing Psalm. It begins in verses 1-3 by celebrating Zion (Jerusalem) as the city of God. God's special presence was found in the Temple (the "holy mount") where the people of God could come to worship YHWH.

A shocking transition occurs in verses 4 and following. The Sons of Korah list a "role call of nations", including Egypt, Babylon, and Philistia: all major enemies from Israel's history. Instead of the anticipated imprecatory judgement usually reserved for the enemies of God (cf. Psalm 58; Psalm 137), these nations are said to be recipients of the blessing of God!

In The Mission of God, Christopher J. H. Wright comments,

"The expectation clearly is that 'Zion' will ultimately come to include not just native-born Israelites but people of other nations who will be adopted and enfranchised as citizens if the city, with as much right as the native born to be registered there by YHWH." (490)

I found the following sentence especially shocking:

"Significantly, YHWH is here also named Elyon (v. 5), the original name of the God of Jerusalem, with strong connections to Abraham (Gen. 14:18-20)."

It's an amazing picture: the enemies of God being being given the privilege of gathering to worship him. More so, YHWH, God's special covenantal name, is also made known as the more general "Elyon". This more general word for God, often translated "most high", is used concerning Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-19) and by Balaam (Numbers 24:16).

For me this about settles contextualization issues concerning what word to use for "God" in other religious contexts (an issue I have been musing about for several years now). The God of Israel is the God who adopts people from all nations- even those who are his enemies. Ultimately any human word is insufficient to communicate the infinite glory and holiness of God. But we see in this passage that God takes our flawed words and ideas and reinterprets/recapitulates them: ultimately in the work of Jesus Christ.

Verse 7 gets it right: this is cause for singing and dancing!

Codex Sinaiticus

I'm geeking-out about this right now. 

Monday, July 13, 2009

Putting the Material back into Materialism

I bought the bag. (Not the one pictured... a different one.)

Here is my reasoning/ justification:

1. The bag I bought earlier this summer was very uncomfortable on longer rides. The strap was not padded and cut into the shoulder when hauling a heavy load.  Also the Rickshaw laid across my lower back which was causing back pain I never had when I was using a backpack. 

2. The Seagull fits snugly, like a backpack. The Rickshaw slid around like crazy- needing readjustment every couple of blocks. It sometimes even ending up in my lap when riding on cobblestone. I've had more than one close call when trying to finagle it back into place while riding. 

3. The Seagull is 100% waterproof. I got caught in what seemed like a monsoon the other day and it would have been nice to not worry about the contents of my bag. 

4.  The Seagull is a locally manufactured work of art.  For me, buying this bag is a little like buying a Turkish Rug in Istanbul.  It's a beautiful, indigenous piece of culture that is intimately connected to the place.  It's almost like buying a small piece of the city to take with me all over the globe. 

5. It's hip and I can be a materialistic bastard sometimes. 

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I was there!

Aaron Weiss at The930 from Sojourn/The 930 Art Center on Vimeo.

Here is the entirety of Aaron Weiss's solo performance that kicked off Cultivate Beauty Month at Sojourn. Thanks Drew for posting this unforgettable show!

Crema or Crappa?

Whoa! James Hoffman just destroyed everything I thought I knew (and loved) about espresso.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Never use a big word when a diminutive one will do."

-Jon Badgely (heard from philosophy professor) 

Harold Best on Worship

"worship does no stop and start, despite our notions to the contrary. Once we place emphasis on specific times, place and methods, we misunderstand worship's biblical meaning. Worship may ebb and flow, may take on various appearances and may be unconscious or conscious, intense and ecstatic or quiet and commonplace, but it is continuous. When we sin, worship does not stop. It changes directions and reverts back to what it once was, even if only for an instant. Repentance- the turning from and  (re)turning to - is the only solution." (19)

"We do not go to church to worship. But as continuing worshipers, we gather ourselves together to continue our worship, but now in the company of brothers and sisters." (47)

-Unceasing Worship

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Andrew Murray on Humility

"'He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he can he love God whom he hath not seen?' - 1 John 4:20
What a solemn thought, that our love to God will be measured by our everyday intercourse with men and the love it displays; and that our love to God will be found to be a delusion, except was its truth is proved in standing the test of daily life with our fellow-men. It is even so with humility. It is easy to think we humble ourselves before God: humility towards men will be the only sufficient proof that our humility before God is real; that humility has taken up its abode in us; and become our very nature; that we actually, like Christ, have made ourselves of no reputation."

- Humility (29)

Merton on Self-Idolatry

"Where was my will? 'Where you treasure is, there will your heart be also,' and I had not laid up any treasures for myself in heaven. They were on earth. I wanted to be a writer, a poet, a critic, a professor. I wanted to enjoy all kinds of pleasures of the intellect and of the senses and in order to have these pleasures I did not hesitate to place myself in situations which I knew would end in spiritual disaster- although generally I was so blinded by my own appetites that I never clearly considered this fact until it was too late, and the damage was done.
Of course, as far as my ambitions went their objects were all right in themselves. There is nothing wrong in being a writer or a poet- at least I hope there is not: but the harm lies in wanting to be one for the gratification of one's own ambitions, and merely in order to bring oneself up to the level demanded by his own internal self-idolatry. Because I was writing for myself and for the world, the things I wrote were rank with the passions of selfishness and sin from which they sprang. An evil tree brings forth evil fruits, when it brings forth fruit at all."

-Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain (231)

Quick Links

Why did no one tell me about this madness going on with Derek Webb? CCM's most controversial figure just may be in the process of taking the roof off the whole industry.

Speaking of which, another long time CCM fringe favorite Jars of Clay was recently interviewed on Coffee Geek! Great reading for coffee aficionados and fans of socially conscious post-evangelical folk rock.

My friend Badgley has a blog now. The first entry has an abridged history of web-logging, which is largely based on completely new historical research. It is as thought provoking as it is ground breaking, and I can personally vouch the recent events referenced are indeed factual.

And finally, those who haven't checked out my friend Tyler Deeb's art/design should immediately. He doing some killer stuff.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Bag Lust

Shortly after I bought this bag, I found out that Columbus, OH is home to one of the premier handmade messenger bag companies, Seagull Bags. In fact, this company is known internationally in the cycling community for just about being the best (although less popular than Chrome or Timbuktu).

So I biked up to their factory today in Clintonville, where I found a modest room filled with huge rolls of fabric and five hipsters sewing away at works in progress.  The small entry way was filled with an eclectic assortment bags and accessories, including hand-sewn cycling caps and hip pouches. After examining the product in person I was impressed at the meticulous detail and craftsmanship that went into each bag.  Right now I am trying to justify how purchasing a second messenger bag could possibly be reconciled with the life of simplicity that I have the desire to live.  So far, I can't do it. 

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Spirit of the Disciplines

I am currently making my third attempt to read The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard. Ironically, I simply have not had the fervor or the perseverance the two previous attempts, but the old cliche proves true in this situation, as I am now approaching the end.

It has been a very challenging read on multiple levels. For one, it's about spiritual discipline... which by definition isn't easy.

It's also been difficult because theologically I am very uncomfortable with the idea that we progress in our sanctification through human effort- albeit sincere and pious. This is where I am more Lutheran: sanctification is growing in your understanding (and I would add experience) of your justification. So when Willard writes that we can become like Christ by doing things I am very hesitant to say the least.

However, when Willard provided a concise definition, I was very much in agreement:

"In the simplest possible terms, the spiritual disciplines are a matter of taking appropriate measures. To reject them wholesale is to insist that growth in the spirit is something that just happens all by itself."

In more Reformed terms, spiritual disciplines are God's ordained means of sanctification. We use hammers to drive nails into wood; we become more like Jesus when we study the scriptures, pray, fast, and exercise numerous other disciplines. Agency is no threat to divine sovereignty.

Nevertheless, even as redeemed persons we still struggle against God's plan. The following quote captures this incredibly well.

"The persistence of evil rests upon the general drift of human life in which we all share. It rides upon a motion so vast, so pervasive and ponderous that, like the motion of the planet earth, it is almost impossible to detect. We delude ourselves about the sustaining conditions because we wish to continue living as we now live and continue being he kinds of people we are. We do not want to change. We do not want our world to be really different. We just want to escape the consequences of its being what is truly is and our being who we truly are." (p225)

Instead, the Christian life offers an alternative to the complacency and self-indulgence of sin. In this sense, the spiritual disciplines are a means of experiencing God's grace.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I Choose the City

by Francis DuBose

I choose the city...
Not simply to live in it,
to see it,
to hear it;
But to touch it;
yes, to embrace it,
to hold it,

To feel the wild glory of its
pulsating soul,

To move over its wide,
hurried broadways,

To stand stilled and sobered
at the nowhere of its dead-end streets,

To be trapped with it in its
pain and problems,

To be at once chilled by its ill
and covered with its confetti.

I choose the city because I choose God,
Because I choose humanity,
Because I choose the divine-human

The struggle which will be won
Not in the serene path through
meadow and wood,
among the bees and birds, and flowers,

But in the city street
Made by the hand of man
Through the gift of God--
Main Street: the final battle field,
The scene of the ultimate struggle,
Where man chooses right
Because he is free to choose wrong.

Babylon, dirty and daring--
Babylon, yes--
Babylon today--

The New Jerusalem!

Francis DuBose, Mystic on Main Street, Chapel Hill, NC: Professional Press, 1993, pp. 78, 79.