it's in the pudding.

so let's take a little journey and remember time past....

i had a beard.

and then i shaved my head.

then i had a little fun.

yeah i just need to be wearing my admiral's outfit for the british royal navy. i actually left it like this for a couple of days.

then i thought i could be cool like this guy, but couldn't pull it off.

so this is me.

well it's been fun all. sorry to blog about my beard so much--but come on, you know you liked it. guilty pleasures.



oh razor, my old friend. it's been so long.


relocation reflections

so now i'm here in kc. gone from manhattan--a 6 year chapter of my life come to a close. it's been a lot to process emotionally. fortunately i haven't had time for any of that and i'm keeping busy enough to not have to dive into it all. sure that's not healthy. i'm not sure transitions ever are off the start. still, that's no excuse and i think it's important to take some time with these things.

one of the ways of doing that is while working. trust me while you're pulling a thousand staples out of a window frame over and over your mind isn't exactly riveted. it allows for lots of thoughts. we need to get some music up in there. but until then at least there is the beckoning silence.

there was something today with pulling off the plastic from all these windows. for years they have been sealed, cutting off the outside world and its cold winds and menacing bugs. no longer. as the plastic is pulled away, the neighborhood can really be seen for the first time in quite some time. the church is up on a hill so you can see a lot far away. and you can see a lot up close. the windows aren't so great. in fact they are pretty awful. thin glass single-paned for little to no insulation, that would matter more if it weren't for the many large gaps in every window. no screens. from the outside maybe it isn't so noticeable, the change in these windows, the removing of this plastic veil. but we are seeing much that is new.

relocation brings up lots of things. there is what is left behind. of course we aren't fully moved in yet so a lot of what i am leaving isn't fully left yet. but manhattan is gone. and it was a wonderful place. much of what made it wonderful was the people, and a lot of those whom i was closer to are leaving--so it's different now anyway. but that doesn't change that it's past and lost. it will always hold a special place in me.

we met a guy the other day--alex. one of the first of many we are sure to meet. even just talking with him in a short conversation i can see so much of how inept i am to understanding these people that live in a very different culture, which leaves me dependent on God for many things. so i enter that culture with humility, but i also have to be strong--for these people will push on you and try to get anything they can out of you. not all of course, but many. we have to know what we are about. and that's hard because we only know so much, and some of what we know is more what we are not about. i won't get into those things now though. maybe another time.

i also find myself thinking about comfort. i've been saying for years that i don't want to live a life that is just about keeping myself comfortable. of course, once you start to experience discomfort then a nice couch with low lighting and a big tv playing baseball in the background sounds pretty good. it's easy to get overwhelmed in this new place. there are lots of things, and probably even more we do not see. oppression comes quickly. the task seems daunting. the work seems never-ending. the cracked thin windows, the holes in the walls, the leaking roof, the collections of mold, the lead paint, the wasp nests inside the building, etc. it's a long list. but we're not there for that. the task is simple. love people. sure it's ok to spend some time getting things fixed up to make it more livable and all--but i don't want to just create a new place of comfort. no, that won't do. peace yes. that's different. livable. sure. i don't want to freeze in the winter or be stung by multiple wasps at night. but if i am, that's not the end of the world. put on a sweatshirt. hang a mosquito net :). and don't take with you the gods from the house of your father when you go out of the land and into someplace new. comfort be damned.

man i hope i don't eat those words too much.

move your life, not just your stuff.


moving day

goodbye manhattan. i'll miss you.

hello kansas city. what a new place you'll be.

this is going to be way too much for one day....


matthew perryman jones + katie herzig

"where the road meets the sun"


two quotes

"The tragic is inevitable. The comic is unforeseeable."
--Frederick Buechner

"The fairy tale does not deny the existence of...sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of the deliverance; it denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat..., giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief."
--J.R.R. Tolkien




this is a real trailer for a real movie, unbelievably enough. and you absolutely have to watch it. who's up for seeing it with me!?!?

review here.


put down the flag

recently i tried to explain to someone why i no longer considered myself an "evangelical." it was a little difficult, because she had a different religion and didn't understand all that term entailed. maybe you don't understand either--i'm not sure that i do either. and maybe it doesn't really matter. maybe labels and titles are something that just get us into more trouble than they're worth. old distinguishing marks that were worn like a badge of honor undergo a change in meaning as time passes, especially when any old anyone can choose that mark for themselves.

actually i don't know if i ever would have called myself an "evangelical," though i went to one of their churches and schools. the term conveys a lot of things--different probably to different people. in many ways evangelicalism has become the face of american protestantism, where many outside of the church and in wouldn't be able to tell you the difference. if you don't happen to know it is a label for denominations to distinguish themselves, usually by a strong emphasis on the bible at the center of all and the need to "save" others.

i've never really been big on denominations. you could call my theology lax, but the difference just never seemed like that big of a deal to me. i think there are important things to be gleaned from every tradition--and more evangelicals should be reading catholic writings, past and present. and more variety beyond that as well--other traditions, other religious literature, classic literature, foreign lit, modern poetry. but hey, i have an english degree so of course i would say that right?

that's not really the point of what i wanted to say in this post--though it connects because i believe current evangelical americans are the greatest offenders, particularly on the political front.

we put our rights above our call to love people.

i mean "rights" in a couple ways. first i mean it in the sense of what we deem to be right. our truths. our beliefs. people gotta get their beliefs right because it's faith that saves us right? we can worry about all that lovey crap after they are good and saved. and what's more it is generally the more loving thing to do to show a person where they are wrong. funny how many evangelicals have a different idea of what "love" is than everyone else. call it sanctified if you want, but i think i cor. 13 might have something to say about that.

in the second and i think far more accepted sense, i mean it in the more traditional sense of the word. we have our rights as citizens of the usofa, as human beings. it's right there in the declaration of independence. it's in our beings, our fiber as americans. life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. and we as american christians agree. evangelicals have done a fair job trying to convince everyone that the founding fathers were devout men of the christian faith. my question is why? i'll give you the puritans and the pilgrims--but the founding fathers, well that's just not historical for the most part. did they do it in order to try to absorb these principles into christian practice so they wouldn't have to be different? or was it more out of insecurity? trying to hold onto the puritan idea of america being the new zion, the new city on a hill?

but perhaps you are asking what's wrong with these principles in the first place? aren't we afforded these rights? well in a way yes. perhaps that is true as humans we should have these rights--they fit within our natural sense of what justice should be. the only problem is that they aren't the way of Jesus. i could have said "they aren't christian," but that wouldn't sound right--they have become quite "christian" indeed.

read i corinthians 9. it's all about paul giving up his rights for the sake of the gospel. read philippians 2. it's all about how Jesus did not hold onto his rights as God but humbled himself. perhaps that's the best word for it: humility. americans have taken the humility out of christianity.

we will love people as long as it doesn't interfere with our rights--our ability to live, our independence, and our own happiness. that implies a lack of sacrifice, but even more it shows which is our priority. we believe in our own rights more than we do in the call to love people. our love has no teeth. who will give up their "happiness" for another? who will submit themselves to losing their independence for the sake of others? who will really lose their life--that whole greater love hath no man thing. nah we'll just leave all that to Jesus. he did it all for us right?

well are we disciples of Christ or are we not? are we Christ-ians? no it seems we would rather be the people who toe the line and follow the rules--our wonderful puritan heritage in its distortion there. and that's how people begin to think that being a christian is all about following rules. the problem is well-intentioned christians think this too. following the rule of grace and belief and no love in action beyond writing a couple checks. maybe that's too harsh, but our sense of "following" Jesus is almost laughable. american evangelicals--what gospel are you reading?

life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? there are the core values of america. and yet it's exactly our ability to lay down these rights that makes us Christian, that makes us truly loving.


how life can turn

it's that time of year here in manhattan. things are wrapping up. people are pushing through the final barrage of tests and papers and projects to reach the point of relief--no more school for the summer or for good. some are facing graduation, and the next step in their life. it's an interesting thing to observe again (this being my sixth spring here), especially being removed from all of that school stuff now. from my perspective it seems as if it all is a little blown out of proportion. of course, it's easier to say that being free from those old burdens. looking back they don't seem so heavy. why do we let them hold us down?

although this year is a little different for me. when i went through the whole graduating fiasco, i knew i wasn't leaving manhattan. it had a different feel for me. it wasn't quite so exhaustive. the change of being out of school didn't have to go with a change of location. but now that i am moving on, i don't have the accompaniment of the end of school. i don't have the sense of completion like when you finish your last final. i do feel like my time here is complete. yet it is not culminating in some sort of harrowing finish. no. it is just sort of drifting away, edging closer to the moment when i will move and be gone from this place i have called home for 6 years. 6 years. that's quite a chunk of my life. how do i find closer on this season?

i went to a concert tonight. and in an odd way it actually led me in that direction a step or two. i saw the appleseed cast at the kathouse. i also saw them there nearly 2 years ago, right at the start of my two years out of school here in manhattan. it was an odd symmetry, bookending this season with a random concert. some of the same people surrounded me at the show. others who were there the first time are off in places distant from my life.

i got there a little early this evening. so i had a drink and watched the royals game. in the midst of that and after i had a lot of time to think. maybe it was the drink but i was feeling a little melancholy. it's been an interesting 2 years to say the least. i walk away from it now not quite sure what i've given and what i've gained. i sense more what i've lost and what has changed.

manhattan has had an odd sort of comfort about it. there is much more that i would want out of life than what i've had here. but at the same time i felt very content in the simple comforts and undemanding lifestyle. and yet i sense that i've somehow come to a point where i no longer see and realize all the things that are lacking. i see some of them still--but others i have become so used to living without that i just grew accustomed to the lack. i can't put my finger on all of what those things are. i could name some of them. others i feel i have even forgot what was once a need or blessing regular in my life. hopefully some of those things will be reclaimed.

still, i have gained much in my time here--mostly in new relationships. some other things too. God had me here for this time for a purpose i'm sure. i feel it cost a lot--more than i know in some ways. it gave back too. and i know i will see those things even more as i move away from it.

anyway. i'm not sure any of that is at all interesting for anyone else to read, but whatever. i guess to sum it up it was a thoughtful/feelingful night and i tried to express that somewhat--though admittedly not very well. so hopefully better next time. stay tuned dear readers. more on the flip side.



so shed your clothes.
like a child who cannot bear the incumbrance.
free from the sticky cling of overheated cloth
your skin can then share the air.

no longer hide the imperfections.
the marks, the moles, the scars, the hair, the flab.
and cool yourself with the generated air,
rotors at your command--
set just to your liking;
consideration passé.

no more fashion.
no more folly.
just a bare chest,
and no hand on that heart.

i've always preferred the cold.
you can always put more on to bundle up,
it doesn't work the same the other way.
and comfort just can't be found.

so wrap yourself up,
you've seen them in the desert--
they know how it's done.
because either way
sooner or later
the sun is going to come out.
and you'll wake from this night's dream,
burned or frozen.


blaise pascal

I have often said that man's unhappiness arises from one thing alone: that he cannot remain quietly in his room.


That is why play and the conversation of women, war, and high offices are so sought after. Not that in fact they bring happiness, or that we imagine true bliss to consist in money won at games or in the hares that are hunted; we would not accept these if they were given to us. We do not seek that easy and peaceful life that allows us to think about our unhappy condition, nor the dangers of war, nor the burdens of office, but the bustle that turns our thoughts away and diverts us. --Reason why we prefer the hunt to the kill.
That is why men so love noise and activity. That is why jail is such a horrible punishment. That is why the pleasure of solitude is incomprehensible. In fact, the greatest source of happiness in being a king is that people constantly try to divert him and to procure for him every kind of pleasure. The king is surrounded by people who think only of diverting the king and of preventing him from thinking about himself. For, though he is king, he is unhappy if he thinks about himself.
This is all men men have been able to devise to make themselves happy. Those who philosophize about it, and who think people are quite unreasonable to spend a whole day chasing a hare they would not have bought, scarcely know our nature. The hare does not save us from the sight of death and the miseries distracting us, but the hunt does.


A man lives his life free from boredom, playing every day for a small amount. Give him every morning the money he can win that day, on the condition that he does not play: you make him unhappy. You may say perhaps that he seeks the entertainment of play and not the winnings. Make him, then, play for nothing. He will not get excited about it and will be bored. It is not, therefore, only the amusement he seeks. A weak and passionless amusement will bore him. He must get excited about it and trick himself into imagining that he would be happy to win what he would not accept on the condition of not playing. He must fashion for himself an object of passion to excite his desire, his anger, his fear for the fashioned object, like children who become frightened by the face they have darkened.