Monday, December 31, 2007

As it comes down to the wire I would like to remind ya'll about this article

Just a reminder why Barak Obama is the kind of candidate America needs!

Chris' quote of the day about Wyoming

So last night we had a nice little blizzard, I literally couldn't see the mailbox. Thsi morning it is all nice and sunny, but the thought that ran through my head is this.
"Wyoming makes you feel alive, in so far as it attempts to kill you and fails."-Chris Halverson

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

For information about all your Biblical Studies needs!

Tyndale tech. Good ol' Rev. Dr. David Instone-Brewer gives hints and tips about the computer end of doing Biblical Studies.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Real life Shawshank Redemption

Pander? Refreshing honesty?

So is Huck pandering to the "War on Christmas" folk, or is he honestly wishing people merry Christmas.
Also, here's a thought, THIS is why primaries should only start after Christmas.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

This can't be good for Iraq

So Turkey is bombing a chunk of Northern Iraq to keep the Kurds down. They are doing so in the name of fighting terrorism.
Who knows.
Peace, No seriously! Peace,

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Two articles that make one think

So I'm not a global warming skeptic, though maybe I should be, but these two articles got me thinking.
So both the ELCA and the US government are now dealing with Global warming. I just hope it is done in a sound way, not in an indulgences kind of way. Reducing the amount of... for example heat in a Seminary dormatory, might be a better way to deal with global warming than buying global warming indulgences.
I guess I am innately contrarian, I don't exactly like orthodoxies be they liberal or conservative. Whenever a whole bunch of people get together and decide something is true they are going to leave some important truth behind in the process. That said it is probably a really good thing that the US has done a "uturn" on global warming.

Christmas not in the Reformed tradition

Nothing too interesting here, but I thought I'd remind everyone why Washington etc were able to beat up the German mercenaries hired by the British back in the day, because they, being good Lutherans (presumably) celebrated Christmas, while their reformed brothers here in the states did not.
That was your history moment, brought to you by "Historical Musings: history may not be amusing, but it can at least involve musing!"

Friday, December 14, 2007

Obama's "Knock out moment"

People are now comparing Hillary to a Supervillian and Obama to Superman. I'm not exactly convinced. She does come off as being overbearing, sort of assuming everyone's laughing with her, and I would say worst of all assuming BILL Clinton's advisors are HERS. His response to her cackle does deflate her pretensions. None the less, I don't feel if I was an undecided voter this would be enough to push me away from Hillary's camp and toward Obama's. I guess their political personalities are already so well known to me that this clip fits a pattern instead of defining the debators.
In short I am getting the impression that political writers are grasping at anything they can in order to find a fresh angle. Or maybe all the undecideds really haven't been paying attention and this was the first time they realized Bill isn't running again and that Obama isn't Christopher Dodd.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Two speeches on Faith



There are several differences between these two speeches. JFK was running in the general election, thus he was answering questions raised by the new possibility of having a Catholic president. Romney, though his choice of venue, the Bush library, allowed him to have presidential props around him, is not making this larger argument. Instead, he is making the argument that a Mormon can represent the Republican Party, a party very wedded to Evangelical Christianity. This fact influences the flavor of what follows.
JFK argues for a separation of church and state, he argues that politicians are obliged to pick judges and secretaries based on their fitness for office, regardless of their religious viewpoints; he further states in sum that the American electorate is best served when they do the same when picking a president. In short he states that presidents run countries, that is their function, and that being good at that is more important than their faith.
Romney focuses on American civil religion. He focuses on the lowest common denominator when it comes to faith. He is telling the Republican Party that its character is found not in the content of belief, but in the act of belief itself. The common movement of the spirit that goes on in any “spiritual person,” be they Muslim, Jew, Neo-Pagan, Christian, Hindu, Hari Krishna, or Mormon, is the bottom line that his Republican Party stands for.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hitch hates Hanukkah

Basic premise of article is that syncratic Judaism was superior to Judean Judaism. Celebrating the discovery of the Atom is superior to oil burning for longer than was expected.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Theophilus' Banquet (The Gospel According to Luke)

Theophilus’ Banquet
By Chris Halverson

Theophilus had thrown many lavish parties in the past. He was a man of impeccable taste, graces, and subtlety. He also had a queer fascination with the exotic. At one party he had exhibited an elephant to his guests, at another a Scandinavian, and at others multitudes of fascinating creatures.
The meal was going well. The rich had gathered. All were well fed, the wine was flowing, the servant girls were submissive. All there at the table were joyous, and none hated one another. It was as close to being “Rome” as the hinterlands they lived in could be. The guests gathered there waited in anticipation for Theophilus to unveil his latest outlandish acquisition. There was a rumor started by the servants that Theophilus had locked himself in his study for the last week after receiving a package from the East.
Could it involve the previous year’s embarrassment with that Jew-Priest? That was the question on everyone’s mind, yet Baccus Uranus, coming back inside after a severe bout at the pukeatorium, was the only one there graceless enough to ask.
“Haaaave you hearddd from your Jeeeew?” he asked, sitting down next to his father, Roman Governor of the province.
The Governor sighed and looked to his host, “Dear Theophilus,” he smiled amicably, “there are rumors…”
Baccus interjected, “What’s next God-lover? Are you going to niP off the tiP of your manhood? Arrre you a citizen of Roman at all?” And with that he crashed back down onto his triclinium with his father.
Theophilus stood up; all eye went to him. He took a sheaf of paper from the arm of his robe and flattened it down upon the table.
“I, I am a good Roman Citizen, and a God fearer. And because of what God has done I rejoice with joy!”
All had known this, the man’s piety had been hidden in his closet for a long time, but not so hidden that others did not know of it.
“I support good rulers, as would any sane man.”
Baccus wriggled at that, his father had hold of him so the room, now swirling in Baccus’ head, would not prove too much for his lack of balance.
“I will not damage myself, for there is no need. God who is dealing with man in this time and place, has dealt with man for a long time, since Adam, the son of God, the foundation of the one who has recently come.”
“Recently come? TRAJAN came rather well, alllllll over that temple.”
Theophilus responded, “The temple, and Jerusalem itself, was the heart of God, yet through its destruction the good news of God was spread from there to Rome, and beyond, even here in this very room.”
Baccus floated in and out of consciousness as Theophilus continued. He wished the man had brought an elephant again. He liked elephants; they seemed an appropriate image for empire.
“God has dealt with humans since that first man. He worked through patriarchs, lawgivers, kings. The history of these Jews who we have scattered was one that always arched toward peace and justice.”
“Rome has peace. Pax Romana,” muttered Baccus.
“No. That is peace on our terms, a peace of arms… This is a peace for its own sake, not for the sake of commercial interest,” he looked back down at his notes, “This history from Adam, to Abraham, to David, and beyond, came up to the 15th year of Tiberius.”
Governor Uranus looked up from his lightly snoozing heir, “I didn’t know their history was so continuous.”
“Yes, in that 15th year God came to Zechari’ah, a temple official, and told him his wife would bear a son. He questioned God, for he and his wife were both old, and God shut up his mouth. And his wife, Elizabeth was her name, gave birth to their son, named John. This John was the greatest of those born of woman.”
“Whattt ‘bout those born a’ man?” Baccus muttered.
Theophilus ignored him, “This John preached the good news of God and preached…”
“To be fair old people do not generally birth,” the Governor said.
“But if you know the history of Israel you may interpret this thing rightly,” his interjected, “for this miraculous birth is like that of Abraham and Sarah, two figures in the Law of the Jews,” again he looked down at his parchment, “This John preached that people should repent, and told tax collectors to collect no more than that which is appointed to them, and that soldiers were not to rob.”
Baccus guhuffed. For even drunk he knew Rome.
“Then John was imprisoned by Herod the Tetriarch. And that was the end of the age.”
“The age of the Jews?” asked the Governor.
“The age of exclusion of us,” replied Theophilus, “Yet there was another, conceived of a virgin.”
“A virgin? Is that another one of your mythical beasts?” asked Baccus, looking at one of Theophilus’ young servant girls. The girl though was intent on hearing her master.
Again our dear Theophilus ignored him, “Yes. A virgin.”
“How can that be? Virgins do not give birth,” said the Governor.
“Yet in Hebrew prophecy they do. And this lowly vessel, Mary, a young woman, birthed he who scatters the proud of heart, and throw rulers down from their thrones. Therefore rejoicing be to her and her breast that fed him. Her son Jesus. And Mary traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem to birth him, as the scripture of the Hebrews prophesied. He was hailed by angels and shepherds.”
Baccus was incensed, “Shepherds! Pluto and Libitina take me home. What next? Born in a stable?”
“Yes,” Theophilus replied. His audience shook their head. His servants were cautiously interested. “In him a great reversal was beginning. He was circumcised.” Some murmured at this. “And as he grew he began to manifest who he would be. For do not our own histories tell us of this fact? The childhood of a man makes clear what his life will be like. As for this Jesus he was drawn to Jerusalem, and though a child, debated with the great philosophers of the Jews.” Some smiled at this, nodding; this they understood, “And when he grew up he was immersed in water, prayed, and the heavens opened up, and the spirit of holiness rested upon him. With that his ministry began.”
He paused, and then continued, “Jesus was tempted by the lord of this world.”
“Caesar?” asked Baccus in genuine confusion.
Theophilus shook his head, “There are many bad rulers in this world. The one I refer to is the Lord of them all. The devil.
The Governor wondered at the host’s words.
“He was tempted by him, but refused him, so like a bandit Satan, that is the devil, laid in wait. Then Jesus gave his first discourse, re-affirming the Jew’s prophets. He spoke about how they had healed in gentile lands. And Jesus too would heal people. The blind had sight, the lame walked, lepers became clean, the deaf heard, the dead were raised, and the poor heard good news! And this healing caused a crowd to come to him. And he journeyed from place to place preaching.”
“He said blessed are the poor,” Again Baccus guhuffed. “woe to the rich.” The Governor frowned. “Blessed are the hungry, woe to the full, blessed are the weeping, woe to the happy, blessed are the hated; love your enemies.” The servants listened, with small rejoicing and some gladness.
He looked out at his guests, and the servants still listening intently, “You feel that don’t you? You feel… the movement of God in these words. He is built up in you as you hear them, yet this without a proper understanding is lost and dust; a house must have a foundation.”
A few of the multitude in Theophilus’ house nodded at this argument.
“He threw a demon named legion out of a man.”
“Legion?” asked the Governor, “as in a Roman Legion. That seems seditious.”
Baccus shrugged, slumped against his father.
“No. This Jesus is against the crushing strength of military power, against domination not…”
“Rome,” Baccus burped. The servants looked distressed.
“Look, this Jesus loves us gentiles,” Theophilus shuffled his notes, and found what he was looking for, “When the 70 returned… Jesus didn’t allow his disciples to send fire down upon the Samaritans.”
“All right, I just… Go on!” ordered Governor Uranus.
“Okay,” said the host, sweat forming on his brow, worried in his own house, “Jesus continued teaching, in parables, and began his journey to Jerusalem. He spoke of the rich man and Lazarus, he spoke of a poor woman who knocked on an unjust judge’s door until she got what was due her…” he paused, Uranus said nothing, “This man Jesus was able to get a tax collector to give half his goods too the poor. Isn’t that an amazing task in itself?”
Some laughed at this. The two tax collectors in the audience did not.
“And… and… and when he arrived in Jerusalem he predicted that we’d destroy the temple, that it would be trodden down by us gentiles.”
“This is boring,” said Baccus.
“Ah. That’s because the overarching villain has been hidden! Well, that’s where things have changed. In Jerusalem the Satan entered Judas and he betrayed Jesus. At a meal just like this one they ate, Jesus and his disciples did. And Jesus said, ‘The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.’ And so… I would like to try something. Everyone get up.”
All, save the Uranuses, obeyed, though reluctantly.
“Let the servants be seated at the table.”
“This is ridiculous Theophilus. Just finish your damn story.”
The guests returned to the table. The servants backed away from the table.
“Satan came and sifted Simon like wheat.”
“What about the taxes to Caesar? Isn’t there something about that,” the Governor asked, recording in his mind those who were slower to lay back down to the table.
“He says give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and God what is God’s.”
Baccus felt sick as he lay there.
“Jesus was betrayed after the meal. Judas showed a mob where Jesus was, and they took him. Then Peter denied him three times; they took him to the authorities,” Theophilus said, “And get this, though both Pilate and Herod believed him innocent God saw it fit that he would be crucified…”
“As a criminal,” Uranus said.
“Well yes. In fact he was surrounded by two criminals, and even on the cross he redeemed one of them!”
Baccus groaned. One of the servants brought him a plate with bread on it. He refused it.
“And Jesus was buried. After the Sabbath women went to his tomb with ointment and spice, yet they could not find his body.”
“Women,” Baccus said, with a sneer.
“Yet a man appeared to his disciples and interpreted all the books of the Jews, to show that it was right and necessary for Jesus to die. Then when the man broke bread with the disciples they could see that it was him; it was Jesus returned.”
“A ghost!” asked the Governor.
“No he was there, flesh and blood. He had risen. It is a joyous thing!”
“How do you know?”
He paused, “Well… it says he ate boiled fished.”
“Oh, of course, that settles it,” said the Governor, though his son’s stomach was far from settled.
“And then he taught them the scriptures, so their understanding and experience was one. And all nations should know of this, and repent of their sins and be forgive. From Jerusalem to Rome, to here! And with that Jesus ascended into heaven!”
The servants were enraptured.
“Before we leave this night, let us eat bread, all of us,” he specified, indicating the servants, “and think about this story I told you.”
As the bread was passed out the servants rejoiced at being offered a morsel of food.
The Governor said, “This upside down world of Jesus you speak of is blasphemous, the betters would lessers, and the lessers betters. And it is rumored the peasant said he was king of the Jews. We have no king but Caesar.”
And Baccus opened his mouth and vaguely chewed the bread, and as he swallowed his stomach ruptured, and his intestines came out.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Screwtape Emails (In accordance with the Gospel of Matthew) PART 7(end)

Subject: Re: Urgent! We’re undone!
Fire up the hearts of the religious authorities! Spread rumors! Throw Mammon at people! Do whatever it takes to curb this thing!
Then get back here. You have failed me. Prepare for the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Subject: Urgent! We’re undone!
He’s raised. He has come out of his sepulchre. A Shocktroop-Angel stunned the guards; he’s being worshiped! He’s told his people to go out and baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Um… Jesus is going to be a permanent problem; he’s here until the end!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

I vaguely agree with some non-stars

So Mike Huckabee, the most decent Repub. candidate that has a chance, has gotten support from some strange places as of late, Chuck Norris, and other b-level celebrates.
Odd that.
PS I'm in Minnesota with the folks and will have my annual heart check-up tomorrow morning, so prayer is always appreciated.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Calvin and Hobbes-explained

Its a little sick, but kinda funny. At what point does an overactive imagination become insanity?

The Screwtape Emails (In accordance with the Gospel of Matthew) PART 6

Subject: Congratulations
I am overjoyed. Huzzah. I won’t have to throw you back to the torturers!
Take a break, drink and whore it up!
Your beloved father,
your Lord Beelzebul the Belial.

AAR and "spaghetti monsters"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Screwtape Emails (In accordance with the Gospel of Matthew) PART 5

Subject: He’s dead! He’s dead!
I think things are going to be okay. That disciple I mentioned before has betrayed Jesus! And I got a suicide out of the bargain as well!
There was a dinner, some singing, then the arrested him! Peter denied Jesus. I found the chief priests some liars to condemn him, and then they turned him over to the Romans.
Oh! Sir, I’m so excited about my… personal touch, my crowning achievement, my grand slam, my home run, my hat trick! Get this I made the crowd to say “His blood be on us and on our children!” No matter the outcome of this grand adventure I’ve poisoned this event forever!
And then you know what! They killed Jesus! I stood there and watched. He shouted, and slumped down on the cross dead. Many miraculous thing happened, saints were raised, an earthquake, darkness… Yet, I think those were the last rumblings of God. I have killed this God With Us! I have killed him!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Screwtape Emails (In accordance with the Gospel of Matthew) PART 4

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Good news at last!
He attacked the temple! Seriously! I mean wow. This is good. The Roman soldiers looked on. They remembered back to that time when we convinced one of them mooned the temple. I still remember the Bacchanalia of blood we had in hell that day!
The city was tense before Jesus did this. Now… he’s going down!

Subject: Re: Re: Good news at last!
They clog his path! Asking question after question. A Pharisee brought up the Romans! They keep asking about his authority! He’s tricky no doubt, but if you get enough people worrying about their own hides, and power… oh, fear is a powerful thing!
Also I may have found a weakness in one of the disciples. He wants to do good. Hehe! :)

Subject: Re:Good news at last!
Excellent! Stir up that great city. Bring in the Romans. Exploit every tension, ethnic and otherwise, that you can! Bring hell itself to him!

Subject: Good news at last!
I’ve been ratcheting up the pressure on him by the scribes and the like! I sent a whole crew in from Jerusalem to argue with him! He’s now decided that he must go to Jerusalem.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Screwtape Emails (In accordance with the Gospel of Matthew) PART 3

Subject: Re: Re: Report
Alas, it is as if this Son of the Enemy has hacked our system. He knew our tricks and has told parables that counteract the pitfalls of religiosity. Further fortifying his disciples from my seduction, he has taught them a prayer. It’s a damn good one too! It involves submission and humility. It continually delivers them from my grasp! And he’s given blessings of meekness too.
There was also a new kind of spiritual disturbance. It was as if Moses had re-appeared. Have gave commandments! Bloody commandments! It pained me to my core. I have been unable to sleep since that sermon on that mountain.
On a side note the Possessors you have sent have been very ineffective. He casts them out and people start praising the Enemy!

Subject: Re: Report
Your have done well. Religious leaders are very often our fifth column; they will likely not be too hard to convince. Men like power and instant rewards.
In fact, try to cultivate this same dispossession in these so-called little salts, these disciples. Nudge them toward a bawdy, showy, piety! Make them think of how GOOD of disciples they can be, over against the other disciples of course! :)

Subject: Report
Jesus follows the Enemy’s… his father he says… will totally. He has christened himself “salt” and “light.” He calls people to repent and to live lives of abundant goodness. He’s infusing people with their natural states, unclouded and compromised by all our works! They follow the Enemy’s will!
Worse still he has chosen to make others little Messiahs, little salt crystals and little flickers of light! Its enough to make you sick!
Every once in a while that same disconcerting feeling, your know like a blackboard screeching—like your stomach has just fallen a thousand feet below the earth, comes upon me, and I know a Prophets words have re-incarnated themselves on this earth.
I’ve begun to rouse the religious leaders into opposing him.

Obama's big speech!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Screwtape Emails (In accordance with the Gospel of Matthew) PART 2

Subject: Your are hereby re-enstated to your previous position
This one is dangerous. I myself have faced “God with us.” I have assessed that he is incorruptible, temptation won’t work. He wants neither physical comfort, miraculous glory, or imperial power. I had hoped to harness that dreadful power of our enemy, Scripture, and turn it against him. That too failed.
For this reason I call on you. You are one of the best Will Symbiotes we have; few humans can resist you. Use every trick of the trade to harry the Son of the Enemy. Work on the hearts of all those who he will come into contact with and turn them against him.
There will be Possessors who will be working parallel to you.
Also spy on him and report to me all that this Jesus does.
PS I trust your stay with the Mad Torturer has gained me your total obedience and submission.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Cubin to retire

I do feel bad about her husband's medical problems, at the same time I'm rather happy that she will not be running again.

The Screwtape Emails (In accordance with the Gospel of Matthew) PART 1

Subject: Re:Re:Re:Fwd: Urgent! Something strange.
He has escaped Lord, he has disappeared to where I do not know. I beg for mercy.
In groveling terror, boot licking, and pre-figured pain,

Subject: Re: Re:Re:Fwd: Urgent! Something strange.
You should have consulted one of our Scripture Agents, you fool. You have played into the enemy’s hands. For it is written, “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more.” Find the boy; don’t rely on human agents. Kill him yourself!
In my Greatness, your Lord Beelzebul the Belial.

Subject: Re:Re:Fwd: Urgent! Something strange.
Oh Tempter, Angel of Destruction, Great Dragon, Father of Lies. I have done as you requested. I have further enflamed the passions of Herod. He is furious, his blood boils, murder… no Slaughter, is on his mind. His rage will surely overturn these prophetic mumblings that are rippling through the air. Have no fear. I serve my lord well.
Your terrified servant,

Subject: Re: Fwd: Urgent! Something strange.
My dear Mephistopheles your superior has informed me of your findings. The worst fiends of the Realm have been scrambling to assess the situation. It is dire indeed. An Underling in Genealogical Collections put together information we have been storing since Abraham and came to a disturbing conclusion. A pattern has appeared! The Son of the King and the Patriarch has arrived!
You were right in feeling this… disconcerting… fulfillmentness, for lack of a better word. Reality is conforming to Hebrew Scripture. Old words like “Behold, a virgin” and “you O Bethlehem” are being materializing into physical existence. This may well be the greatest threat facing the Great Rebellion in generations. There is a child named “God with us” out there. Destroy him by all means necessary.
In my Greatness, your Lord Beelzebul the Belial.
PS Report to me alone. If you contact anyone else, including Screwtape, I will have their heads, and when your return from Earth, yours as well.

Subject: Urgent! Something strange.
Sir, I beg your pardon, for I have a sore report. Something is wrong! Something… huge… is happening. Its as if reality is… curving in a particular direction. I can’t describe it better than that. There are strange portents in the sky, the Zoroastrians are moving toward Jerusalem. There is a report that an angel has been sighted dreamwalking in Bethlehem. I don’t know what’s going on, but its big Sir.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

No more Foundation, no more Universal Bones

Remember my two Blogozines, The Foundation and Universal Bones? Well, they've essentially been sitting there collecting dust for the last 6 months, so I've canned 'em.
Their premises were kinda neat, The Foundation was a place where I'd hoped people could practice becoming thier own pundits, and in doing that they would do their small part in moving the political process from one of style to one of substance, and ideas. There were a few interesting contributers at the start, but people apparently got tired of it. I think the death blow came when I thought we could discuss the meaning of the word sovereignity. As for UB it was fun, and I may try to finish writing "Days in the Cold" someday, but somehow the reality of living in a city in which people are getting shot on a somewhat regular basis has made me feel less like writing about two demented intellectuals mimicking Toni Morrison’s The Seven Days from “The Bluest Eye” and killing the rich and the poor in equal numbers in order to cause society to reflect on social inequity. It was an interesting plot though, not your everyday crime novel.

But, in memory of these two now departed blogs here are two excerpts that I kinda liked.

Universal Bones:

“What does it mean to read? What does it mean to write? When Faulkner put pen to paper was it only for his own edification? Did Steinbeck write for a paycheck? Did Morrison simply communicate?” William asked. First day of class was always the day to make the impression on the students. If they felt he took them seriously they would take him seriously.
“And don’t be fooled, there are some who would say that is all this is,” he said, picking up a copy of The Bluest Eye, “communication,” he threw it down onto the desk of a student in the front row. It’s bang reverberated through the lecture hall.
“That would be enough. Would it not? If all the novel was was a way to communicate with a lot of people that would be enough.” A student in the back row took off his headphones to listen, as William strutted to the other side of the classroom, “But, I contend that a novel is something more. If it was only a means of communication, why use symbolism? Why not simply spoon feed the reader bullet points like a non-denominational preacher?” he saw a few scowls in the audience.
“Do authors simply want to be clever? Do they want to be seen as witty, but don’t have the wit and spontaneity to be so at cocktail parties?” he paused, “that might be part of it,” he got a few laughs, “especially when considering Faulkner,” Fran Applebee and another grad student laughed, “but there is something more. When we read we enter into an experience. Narratives make communication, knowledge, and writing so much more than dots on a page. They make these iota into something more, communication becomes personal, knowledge becomes known, and writing becomes memory. Symbolic truth becomes unpacked and enters into the reader’s experience. These words, vivid masters that they are, change and shape the possibility and reality of the reader.”
The boy who had been wearing headphones in the back was wide-eyed and leaning forward in his desk. He was actually excited.
“Why will you remember this lecture?” William asked, “Not for the general statements about writing that I make today, but for the specifics. Non-denominational pastors wielding bullet points, Faulkner at a cocktail party, and maybe even my gesture, me throwing down a good book,” and so he continued on, quoting extensively from Faulkner’s Nobel Prize speech to describe what made good writing. Before long his 50 minutes were up, and the students were filing out of the classroom, syllabus in hand.

The Foundation:
The July pundit prompt of The Foundation (Martin Luther King Jr. and Bush address the UN)
This month I’m trying something different for the Pundit Prompt. This month write a response to the following speech.

While listening to Martin Luther King’s "Beyond Vietnam" speech I decided to take to heart his message that only when we look at things from the perspective of those we disagree with can we "see the basic weaknesses of our own condition." So I’ve decided to take the claims that the War on Terror and President Bush’s policies in the Middle East are like the civil rights movement, in so far as they liberate the oppressed and spread voting rights to those who would otherwise not have them, seriously. So what follows is a speech Bush could make this July forth to the United Nations that would lend a prophetic voice to his current actions.

Two score and three years ago, a great American, to whom this nation owes a great debt, told America about a dream he had. This dream came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of African Americans who had been separated from the bright promises this nation has to offer and trapped in the darkness of humiliating, squalorious, conditions, that man was not made to live in. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of calamity. But forty-three years later, we must face the tragic fact that we have stopped there.
Forty-three years later, the lives of colored people all around the globe are still sadly crippled by the manacles of tyranny and the chains of oppression. Forty-three years later, the West lives on a lonely island of material prosperity, political justice, and individual freedom in the midst of a vast ocean of poverty, injustice, and cruelty. Forty-three years later, the majority of the world languishes under absolutists, theocrats, and poverty.
So we have come here today to dramatize the appalling conditions played out on the world stage. In a sense we have come to the United Nations to cash a check. When the architects of this, our "last best hope for peace" wrote the magnificent words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they were signing a promissory note to which all people were to fall heir.
This note was a promise that all people are born free and equal in dignity and rights. That all people have the right to life, liberty, security of person and equal protection of the law. It is obvious that the United Nations has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens living outside the West are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, the United Nations has given the people of the world a bad check, which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the giant vault of opportunity that is this world.
So we have come to cash this check—a check that will give the two-thirds world upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this important place to remind the United Nations of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage is the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of different measures of justice to the sunlit path of right government. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift the world from the quicksands of injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
It would be fatal to the world to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the terrorists. This sweltering summer of the two-thirds world’s discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Two thousand and six is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the attacks of the past few years were simply the two-thirds world blowing off some steam and now will be content will have a rude awakening if the West returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility around the globe until the majority of that globe has been granted the universal rights guaranteed to them.
The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of nightclubs and skyscrapers, and rock the very foundation of the world until the bright day of justices emerges. But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold, which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of freeing our brothers and sisters in the Middle East we must not have more Abu Ghraibs, Hadithas, or Samaras. In the process of freeing our brothers and sisters we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our just war to degenerate into uncontrolled aggression. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting terrorism with tenderness for the oppressed.
The marvelous new militancy in the Middle East must not lead us to distrust all arab people, for many of our arab brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We can not walk alone, but we can not afford to wait for the rest of the world to recognize the urgency of now. And as we walk with our coalition of the willing, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We can not turn back. There are those who are asking the supporters of the War on Terror "when will you be satisfied?" we can never be satisfied as long as our bodies are threatened with death, and our cities with explosive destruction. We cannot be satisfied as long as the terrorist’s basic mobility is from a smaller failed state to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as the Muslim in Afghanistan can’t vote and the Muslim in Iraq can only vote for Saddam. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of secret police. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Syria, go back to Sudan, go back to Somalia, go back to North Korea, go back to the failed states and theocracies of the Middle East, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this body of nations will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "To reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small." I have a dream that one day on the rugged mountains of Afghanistan the sons of the Taliban and the daughters of the Northern Alliance will be able to sit down together at a table of kinship. I have a dream that one day even the country of Iraq, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one-day live in a world where they do not fear bombs and their friends do not fear their own government. I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day the Islamic Republic of Iran, whose president’s lips are presently dripping with the word "enrichment" and threats to "cut off hands" will be transformed into a situation where that countries students and many dissenters may take to the streets and walk together and confront their government together. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to Washington with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of this world body into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God’s children, in all the countries of the world, will be able to sing "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if the world is to be put right this must become true. So let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from the heights of the Andes. Let freedom ring from the rolling hills of Paris. Let freedom ring from the Duns of Scotland. But not only that; let freedom ring from the heightening Jabal Akhdar of Libya. Let freedom ring from the snowcapped mountains of Kashmir. Let freedom ring from the heights and depths of North Korea. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every hamelt and every village, from every capital and every country, we will be able to speed up the day when all of God’s children, Arabs and Americans, Jews and Muslims, Chinese and Chilean, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Sunday, November 04, 2007


I think most of us have thought about this one before, I mean Superman's creators were Jewish and thought of him as a golem. Anyway, the comic gives a rather secularized look at this connection.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Obama is the one

Check out Sullivan's article, seriously! It makes a lot of sense. A Obama presidency would move us beyond the silly baby-boomer left-right divide, and defeat terrorism!
"Consider this hypothetical. It’s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can."
So, sorry Mr. Richardson, unless you come up with something fast I'm going Obama.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A question

Can God change His mind? Is God all knowing? Is all knowing the same as experience?
Could God know how things are going to go down, yet in experiencing something "repent of evil"?

Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries

So... this is a group of folk who are working toward inclusion of practicing gay/lesbian clergypeople.
What I find interesting is that this group wanted to find a way to organize itself as a group within the ELCA, but... not of it... so to speak. They ended up using as a model the Word Alone movement!
Odd stuff this world. And the ELCA still hangs together somewhere in tension between these and other forces. What is the center? Can it hold?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Little Green Politics

But it was Bill Richardson who spoke most explicitly on the UFO issue last weekend. Speaking to Dell employees in Texas, Richardson said that if he became president, he would continue his long fight to release top-secret files on Roswell, New Mexico's infamous "flying disc" recovery. In a foreword to Roswell Dig Diaries, a 2004 Sci Fi Channel book, the New Mexico governor wrote that he has never been satisfied with the government's explanation and that the "American people can handle the truth." Considering Richardson makes up part of the "ET Ticket," I guess it should come as no surprise.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Church closed, on account of shooting

Well, the church my reflection group was assigned to go to today, The Philadelphia Cathedral, was closed. Last night someone was killed on its front steps.
It’s a pretty heavy thing.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Visits to Luthermatrix

So I’ve had Google Analytic looking at the people who visit this blog from the last month. People from 175 cities, 28 countries, and 5 continents visit here! That’s kinda cool!
The most visits come from, as would be expected the US, the UK, and Canada. What I thought was unexpected was the countries that have spent, on average, the most time on my site. Syria comes out on top, followed by Taiwan, and then the Netherlands! I’m not sure why that is.
Looking at the network locations the one that sticks out the most to me is the Moody Bible Institute, from which people have looked at my site for 5 minutes…
The top key words people used to find my site were mental stasis, authority sermon illustrations, Chris Halverson, Zorba the Greek quotes, Did Jesus Lust, Eschatology, and… estonian nude boys. I’m still trying to figure out how they found my blog searching for that last one; the closest I can come up with is this one.
And what does all this tell me? When people look for theological, and literary things, they might find my blog. Also, people from all around the world are able to peer into my little spot on the Internet. So I should try and say something somewhat meaningful when I do post. Also, I suppose that the internet can be used to find things other than thoughts on religion and politics (aka nude estonian boys).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Beatitudes Society

These folk came to campus today and gave a talk. They describe themselves as the social-justice-minded-ecumenical-Christian equivalent to the Federalist Society. In other words they are nothing like the Federalist society... they may need to work on their use of analogy. I’m contemplating joining.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Howl Footnote

Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
Holy is God! Holy are the books of Moses! Holy are the Poems of Solomon! Holy are the Prophets!
Holy John and his Baptism!
Holy the angels who ministered to Jesus!
Holy the Spirit of God which rested on Jesus!
Holy the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Howl III

Simon Peter! I’m going ahead of you to Galilee
Where you will see me just as I told you
Simon Peter! I’m going ahead of you to Galilee
Where the terror and amazement will abate
Simon Peter! I’m going ahead of you to Galilee
I did tell you suffering, rejection, death, three days, and raised
Simon Peter! I’m going ahead of you to Galilee
For I expect to see you there in simple garb no bread or bag or belt
Simon Peter! I’m going ahead of you to Galilee
Waiting for you to use your authority
Throw out demons
Anoint and heal the sick

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Jihad the Musical!

I can't remember if I've blogged on this before. I think it looks pretty cool, sort of a "Springtime for Hitler" of the modern age.


Howl II

What status-quo-god of walls and hedges enclosed
their torah and immediately ate up their brains and imagi-
Stasis! Cut off! Tempter! Blinders and obli
gations! Crowds riled up screaming out-
side of palaces! Nude boys running away! Old men
placing verbal traps!
Stasis! Stasis! Nightmare of Stasis! Stasis the loveless! Mental Stasis! Stasis the heavy judger of men!
Stasis the incomprehensible prison! Stasis the cross and nail, soulless courtyard and sabbath of
sorrows! Stasis whose tests are judgement!
Stasis the vast millstone crushing the little ones! Stasis the stun-
ning words “blasphemy”
Stasis whose mind is possession! Stasis whose
Spirit is unclean! Stasis whose fingers
are legion, many armies! Stasis whose breast is con-
vulsing and dumb! Stasis whose ear is a smoking
Stasis fasting before the groom! Stasis laws, not people! Stasis you elder
lovers! Signs you do not see, conspiracies you concoct!
Caesar’s! Authority! Arrest! God of the Dead! Arrest! Immediately Arrest!
Stasis unmasked is named power!
Stasis who tramples children! Stasis who firsted the first and lasted the last! Stasis, snatcher
of widow’s coins! You poisoned
yeast! Robes! Head tables! Devourer! Ostentatious! Hollow! Words! Stasis crying
out demon at God’s Spirit!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

20 years after the collapse of communism (give or take a couple of years)

Check out this slate article, its about former East-block countries staring their past in the face and understanding what’s what. At one point the author, Anne Applebaum, compares Estonia in the 00’s to Germany in the 60’s. This got me to thinking about this wild trip that has engulfed most of my lifetime that some commentators are calling “the end of history.”
The world is still convulsing as it deals with the question of what now? What do we do with the vacuums created by the cutting of that great Iron curtain? Does Western Democracy and Capitalism inevitably insert itself into the rubble that America perceives as the dustbin or history? If yes, what are the effects? What will people say when they are given a voice? Will they parrot our talking-points? By no means! Globalization will not only change the globalized, but the globalizers as well. A multiplicity of claims couched in cultural conxtexts will clash. There will be localists wielding power in response to uncertainty. The back and forth of this new paradigm requires responsibility. No more can we simply say us/them, but instead us/us/us/them/us/them/them/them depending on individual incidents and issues. Look at Frances’ response to the USA leading up to the Iraq war, they were after their own interests. Look at Russia’s power-plays in the arctic, and cyber-attacks on Estonia. Look at the near toe to toe game of chicken America and China played before 9-11. Look at Iran’s audacity. It is like the Greeks, once they defeated the Persians they turned in on themselves. It’s like the end of World War Two, after the defeat of Nazism the allies turned in on themselves.
Perhaps the world is shifting in order to create a new Balance of Power. To do this many nations are drifting away from America to counter-balance the current un-evenness in things geo-political. What form will the opposition take? And as is always the case with dichotomies, how will the nature of this “other” shape our own perceptions of reality and ways of living? Or perhaps I am being too western-centric? When this all shakes out will American-ness and Westernness even be the defining feature of this new balance? Perhaps a North-South divide, as some people speak of. Or a division based on the rural and the urban, the religious and the secular, the mechanized and the industrial?
Or perhaps there shall be no ridged dichotomy (as if there ever is outside of textbooks). Perhaps there will be tiers, the post-industrial west will slumber in its multi-national glory while less developed countries play games of intrigue with one another, asserting their national identities now unfettered by international capitalist/communist paradigms.
I have very little clue of where we are headed, but it feels good to look at where we’ve been, and how that informs where we are.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Howl I

So this is a 4 parter! With all respect due to Allen Ginsburg.
(Chris Halverson)
For Simon Peter

I saw the anointed of this generation destroyed by
madness, flogged, stripped naked,
dragged through Jerusalem’s streets at dawn
looking for his God,
his God, forsaken by the ancient heavenly
connection to the Spirit of Holiness on the cruci-
fix of the noon darkness,
who taught synagogues and lean crowds with the authority of
a prophet-Elijah-John and fed the multitudes bread and fish multiplied
like good yeast
who immediately cast out spirits unclean into swine and
immediately de-possessed the demon possessed
with shivers, shakes
shouts, “Holy one, Son of God” “be silent”
who healed the sick “tell no one” immediately settled the storm, walked on the back of Leviathan,
back behind him howled his disciples, scared as he
restored the sight, afraid as Peter said “Messiah”
who sat down, a master seeking sinners, treating tax collectors, forgiving
sins themselves, mat thrown away, standing, immediately standing still standing
Rabbis aghast at the Rabbi breaking the fast, wedding guest

Scruffy Professors

Friday, October 12, 2007

What Wyoming and Porto Rico have in common

They are the only two regions without Clinical Pastoral Education sites. Not a big thing, but I do think it rather telling.

A Canon within the Canon

So I’m reading Paul Zahl’s Grace in Practice, and have gotten to the section about “a canon within the canon.” Essentially he’s arguing we should read the Bible with the grain instead of against it. To do this we are to fit most every Biblical bit into the categories of Law and Gospel. He argues if we don’t do this, but instead take all Biblical verses as of equal weight we are interpreting the Bible in an Islamic way. Ignoring the diversity within Islamic exegesis, does this make good sense? Doesn’t categorization such as this force things to contort into uncomfortable shapes that do not fully express their actuality?
And further, taking this critique of “canon within canon” a bit farther, can it not also be applied to canon itself? Can we not say that holding the Bible up as authoritative destroys the uniqueness of individual spiritual experience? Or is it only if we assume all spiritual experience must conform to Biblical models that we get in trouble? Can there be for Christians experiences and practices that are non-Biblical that still are Godly?
I think there can be. I think one of the greatest dangers the church faces in confining the Gospel to pre-existent models instead of entering into the dynamism of the Spirit.We are afraid of new acts of grace because they may not look like our present knowledge of grace. We are like children learning. The first dog we see is a Yorky, thus we assume all dogs are Yorkies. Then when we see a St. Bernard we do not recognize it as a dog.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

He's on a mission from God!

So Obama hopes he can be an instrument of God. I'm thinking Harmonica... Seriously though, when Bush used this kind of language I didn't like it, so I should feel the same way about Obama's use of it.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

What is Theology

So our first paper in “Thinking about God” requires us to define theology, we’ve got five pages. I’m going around in circles. Look at some of my first sentence attempts.
 Theology is expressed reasoned conviction about the God of Jesus to a reality in which someone finds themselves in.
 Theology is anyone’s expressed reasoned conviction about the relationship between the God of Jesus and the reality in which they find themselves, which furthers acts of faith
 Theology is all responses to God as revealed through the Bible, tradition, experience, tempered by reason and reflection.
 Theology is the God of Jesus in relation to the reality in which we find ourselves expressed by anyone.
 Theology is reflection on the tension between faith in the God of Jesus and the reality as we know it.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Political theater

I'm not talking about spinning talking points or politicians acting one way in public, another in private. No I'm talking about actual theater. This show looks kinda fun.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A Patient’s prayer

So my spiritual director has had me contemplating how my heart condition relates to my early faith and vis-a-versa. I’ve got a lot of stuff, but this seems decent.

A Patient’s prayer
Good Surgeon, Balm of Gilead. Free me from the fear of pain, impermanence, and uncertainty. Return my rib and renew my heart, that I might live in a resurrection way, spreading life.

My readership

I recently installed Google Analytics in my blog in order to see who all reads me. I assumed it would be a good way to keep track of my parents (as they move around a lot). Instead I found out in the last 6 days 72 people from 11 countries have visited Luthermatrix19!
I was kind of astounded. It makes me feel like I need to add some better content! Like I should start up Short Story Sunday again, or something…
PS I’ve started reading Grace in Practice by Paul Zahl, an Episco-Lutheran. Its really basic, overstuffed with sermon illustrations, but very solidly reasoned.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The African Union gets beat bad today!

So rogue rebels, needing arms and being denied them by thier own organizations, decide to raid the AU post! That's pretty humilating for the peace keepers!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Article for the Seminarian

The Seminary paper has a new section called "Something to talk about" this is what I submitted to them. Think they'll accept it?

You likely remember the recent ruling about homosexuality at the ELCA General Assembly that urged leaders to “refrain from or demonstrate restraint in disciplining” people and congregations who call qualified leaders on the professional rosters of the ELCA "who are in a mutual, chaste and faithful, committed, same-gender relationship." Some may also have heard that the Episcopalian church, to keep the Anglican commune from schisming has pledged to “exercise restraint” in approving gay bishops.
Both groups are urging restraint, but different kinds. The former involves restraint of an authority and a law; the latter involves restraint by an authority figure and a use of a law. Those that have moved the Episcopalians to act as they have did so because they understand law derived from canon to be immutable. Those that brought the ELCA to its decision did so because they believe law to be a means to an end, not an end in itself. One quotes Jesus, “I did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it.” The other, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
Yet, notice this is not necessarily a “conservative” “liberal” distinction, at least not in our narrow Red State/Blue State sense of these words. After all the Episcopalians hold a much more “liberal” position than the ELCA. Instead, the question of restraint, literally, “to restrict or limit,” becomes a question of whose power should people who try to follow Jesus limit? Do we limit the power of absolutes over humans, or try and enforce the power of absolutes in order to limit humans? There is a good case to be made for both.
We attempt to limit the power of absolutes because absolutes become idols, often masks like the Great Oz, hiding behind them the idiosyncrasies of little men. We often become so enthralled by their power that we do not hear the Spirit blowing.
We enforce the power of absolutes because we are sinners; we fall short of the mark and see only a minute fraction of reality, and will defend that little patch of “truth” to the death. If the rule of God seem strange to us the problem is likely on our end.
Is it any wonder Matthew writes about a “narrow gate”? On one side is a post made of bellybutton gazers, on the other is those who make an ideal their god. “Make straight the path.”

Wyoming is first!

So, funny stuff. Remember all that moaning about Michigan and Florida trying to jump to the head of the line... in fact Wyoming is first in the nation for primaries. The differences is people are voting for delegates, not candidates, for the RNC.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Episcopalian vs the ELCA version of restraint

I thought it was interesting that both groups are urging restraint, but different kinds. The ELCA is restraining punishment against clergy who come out, the Episcopalians have decided to restrain themselves from consecrating gay bishops.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm liking Obama more and more

So I'm still backing Richardson, but Obama is very compelling! Check out this latest ad.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Where I want to do CPE

So this is where I've had my heart surgeries done. I'd like to do my clinical pastoral education summer there. Exciting isn't it?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Clinton's warning to rivals via Bill

"I saw female lions go after warthogs while the male just laid there and watched. Which I thought was good preparation for my future, given this campaign, you know. Just sort of lay there and watch, you know... Right in front of our vehicle this female lion caught this warthog, picked him up by the back of the neck, and went like that and broke his neck. It was pretty gory. So much for peace in our time," - Bill Clinton on Letterman.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Rove's view of the Bush years

Bottom line, if Iraq turns out to be a Vietnam, he'll have done a bad job, if it turns out to be a World War Two he'll have done well.

When Bush Comes

In Tehran this is the equivalent to "when pigs fly." Essentially all of Bush's attempts to bring democracy and reform to Iran are causing further suppression of reformers and democrats. I guess Bush could assume he's forcing the Iranian regime to be so suppressive that reformers are forced to fight back?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The real world and the cyber world meet

Today I had the distinct pleasure of meeting The Lutheran Zephyr at the playground behind my seminary flat. We hung out briefly, talked about the Seminary, his meeting his wife there, etc. It was cool, he’s a good guy.
The visit though, was also a little weird. No, Chris doesn’t have seven eyes, or three noses, instead its simply that we knew one another only through blogging previously. Blogging is, lets face it, a rather passive form of communication. You essentially throw this and that thing onto the web and hope someone else finds it interesting. This was face to face, and you realize there is a person on the other end of this computer.
Well, at any rate bloggings pretty cool. As you might remember I met Dan in Alaska a year ago, and now Chris D here in Philly.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

What's up in Iraq

Check this blog out. It's intense, written by a guy over there.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Brian Baird's pro-war editorial

Just thought I'd link to this.
It does kinda make you think. What if we can fix our mistake, what if we are reaching a turning point?
The problem is we've been told we are reaching a turning point so many times, and each time nothing changes. So, as ever its ambiguous.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Hey all. I thought I’d let you guys know that after 6 and a half weeks of flying around America, sleeping on friend’s couches (and those of their parents (Thanks Kyla’s folks!) ), crashing at my parents, and chilling in hotels, I have arrived at Luther Theological Seminary Philadelphia!
I’ve met two of the other Junior (aka 1st year) Seminarians, Kate and Alex, both from the Carolinas. I’ve had dinner, bought bedding, and have plans for church in the morning. All in all an exciting first day.

Friday, August 17, 2007


So my Candidacy Committee has accepted me, so now I know for sure that I'm going to Philly in the morning!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

On the move again

We'll I fly out for Denver in the morning. Each time I re-pack my bags I look at the contents of my life, old post cards from people I miss, books I just can't give away, a weeks worth of clothing, and I get kinda sad.

A: Keep on movin’ keep on movin’
B: It’s a provin’ hard to do
A: Keep on movin’ keep on movin’
B: It ain’t a soothin’ to get that exit cue
A: Keep on movin’ keep on movin’
B: It’s a provin’ hard to do
A: Just one more time in the air
B: All right, fine, we’ll see how I fair
A: Just one more time in the air
B: Okay, but that’s all I dare!
A: Just one more time in the air
B: All right! Fine! We’ll see how I fair!
A+B: Up there, up there, movin’ again
Over there, over there, one more move, one more time
Adue! Farewell! Goodbye!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Yeah, I’m stretching a bit, but toward Plato

Obviously I didn’t bring any nuance to my last post. My apologies. When I wrote that Hebrews 11:15 was talking about reincarnation I wasn’t meaning it in the modern/new age/karmic/etc sense. I was talking about it in the way Plato’s Republic explains the afterlife. Plato envisions a Dante style ending in which the good and bad are judged, and then, after having been punished for a time, all but tyrants are sent back in a new body according to their nature. For example Agamemnon becomes an eagle and a jester a monkey. At any rate I assume the writers of the New Testament are familiar with the cultures which surround them (for example Paul quotes Epimenides and Aratus in Acts 17:28) and that they know Plato. So I think the author may be alluding to the Platonic view of the afterlife, maybe even condemning it.
Read through Hebrews 11. We are being told about how these various figures from the book of Genesis did the things they did by faith, waiting in hope. Yet all of them died without receiving the promise, they died as sojourners. Of course this is the literal truth, but in Hebrews 11 I think it is being talked about in a metaphorical way. They are alienated from the earthy life and yearn for a heavenly one. If this is so, and the author also writes “If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return,” he could also be talking about this heavenly/earthly question again. Thus he could be talking about Platonic reincarnation.
And if he is doing this what is he saying about that metaphysical system? He’s saying man was not meant to be sojourners in heaven, but instead are offered a permanent place with God our Father and Jesus our Lord.
As for the Bible being timeless and disregarding the opinions of man I’d have to say yes and no. Yes, God’s word is our guide, and will always be, but no, it isn’t a magic book devoid of the messes and messages of man. It is a book that interacts with humanity’s funny opinions from a particular time period and a particular place. If the Bible was written today I have little doubt it would use different language, it would have as its backdrop different philosophies and worldviews. Paul would say, “I see that you talk about projecting the I into the Thou,” or “I have been told you are a country of Rule of Law… well let me tell you about the rule of love!” In this instance I’ve been writing about, Hebrews 11:15 it might well be written “yet because they trusted God they didn’t worry about their Karma, or their Dogma!”
That’s my attempt at nuance for the day.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The only way Republicans can win in 2008

So the Republicans want to slice up California. Now if this was done on a national level, that woudl be fine, but as it stands this is purely political, purely partisan. This isn't about Democracy, this is about the Republican party winning by any means.

Reincarnation in the New Testament?

11:13 All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth,

11:14 for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.

11:15 If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return.

11:16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Dying at Resurrection Cove

Okay, so I'm still alive, but I've now realized kayaking is not my sport. Three hours in the open sea is tiring, especially when you don’t exactly know what you’re doing.
I survived.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bad bridges where I'm headed

So I'm headed to Philly, note that Pennsylvania seems to have the worst bridges of anywhere!

Monday, July 30, 2007

How the Brits cover news

So, I've concluded we don't have News here in the US we have gossip and kittens caught in trees. You, my wise internet readers, already knew this of course.
None the less I thought it would be interesting to point out that the reporter cuts through diplo-talk: "even referring to their meetings as full and frank, which is normal diplomatic code for an argument."
And they aren't afraid to call a pig wearing lipstick a pig: "Correspondents say Mr Bush used familiar language, including soaring rhetoric on the subject of good and evil, while Gordon Brown was much more specific, detailing a long list of what the two men had talked about."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I am now a Cantabrigian!

So I now know without a doubt that I've passed my M.Phil in Old Testament.
Permit me a minute to bellybutton gaze.
I can now say I am Chris Halverson, M.Phil. (Cantab)!

Friday, July 06, 2007

I'm back!

Returned stateside yesterday afternoon.
I arrived at London Heathrow at 4am. It looked like a war zone... something about the Tour de France... the driver said... though that made no sense to me and I was rather sleepy when he said it... Anyway I had to wander past all these concrete barriers into a deserted terminal... scratch the war zone metephore... it felt like a zombie movie, the only people you saw were 2-3 people sleeping on their bags.
On the plus size I got a good start on reading Virgil!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I leave on the 5th of July

Well my last day in England will be the 4th of July. Hopefully I'll know how my M.Phil was graded before I leave, but more likely I'll know after.

Friday, June 22, 2007


So I've finally joined Facebook. It is somewhere between a phonebook for email addresses and a stalker's dream.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Summary of An Uncomfortable Bit of Rope: Retellings of the Akedah
Chris Halverson

In this dissertation I begin by describing several recent retellings of Genesis chapter 22, the Binding of Isaac, which I refer to throughout as “the Akedah.” I suggest that this event is perplexing. Then I contend that when rewriters of the Bible retell the Akedah their particular focuses manifest themselves greatly, especially at the points where their accounts deviate from the biblical version. In other words, the Akedah is a literary Rorschach test.
In order to test this contention I look at four retellings from the early second century BCE to the closing of the first century CE. They are: The Book of Jubilees, also known as The Little Genesis, by an unknown author; Philo’s On Abraham; Biblical Antiquities by an unnamed author often called, for reasons explained in the dissertation, “Pseudo-Philo”; and Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities. I finish my introduction by going through the biblical account of the event and pointing out places in the text that may be ripe for retelling.
The next section involves me looking at each of these four authors, their works, and their versions of the Binding of Isaac. I describe how their accounts of the Akedah differ from the one found in the Bible and how this reveals the author’s biases.
Then, in order to explore the cultural and historical backgrounds of the texts, I look at them in synthesis with one another.
Finally, I discuss three modern retellings of the Akedah, which I had mentioned at the start of the dissertation.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

65 citations

Did my Bibliography today. 65 books/articles read, 174 footnotes.
The current draft is 49 pages, 17,400 words,
Its due on Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

My senator died

I once applied to be an intern for this guy. I think my mom did some Veterans Administration stuff with him once, and thought he knew what was what.

Monday, June 04, 2007

All you need to know about Philo

Philo’s worldview can be summed up thus. Man is a mixture of body and soul; the latter requires salvation from the former. The Bible gives us examples of those who have been saved, but if it is properly read it “touches on the personal experience of each of us.” Within it we find the path to salvation from temptation. It gives us hope, calls us to repent, and allows us to achieve “limited tranquility.” Once we have reached this stabilized status we can attain perfection through learning, our natural capacities, and our right practice.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The last formal hall

Tonight was my last formal hall at St. Eds. Nothing special, I ate with an Estonian, a German, a Tibetan, and a Portuguese. We argued whether the garnish on the pork was sea weed or asparagus... Then as I sipped Port outside the College I met the parents of a British Divinity guy. We talked about South Africa and how their son should not anger Muslim extremists with his work.
I realize this won’t be the norm when I go back to the states. I’ll no longer wear the gown, I’ll not be served by English butlers, I’ll no longer select the finest cheeses for my crackers. I’ll be in Philly chillin’ with a bunch of ELCAers.
These last two years in England have been pretty darn cool, but they are coming to an end, 12 days and my thesis is due, soon enough after that I’ll be back in Oregon as if none of this ever happened.
Yet it’s been good. I’ve seen my country from the outside, inside, right side, left side. I’ve experienced a culture where CCTV and Chavs are the norm. And it has happened, my time here has been more than some dream. Two years of my life have been infused with England, and I’m fairly happy about that!
You may not hear from me again until my thesis is done. If that is the case… Peace.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Philo and Plain reason

Sometimes I give short shrift to the basics of the reformation, specifically that scripture was encouraged to be read with a literal meaning and with plain reason.
Wait, I'm a literalist now and all that implies? Nah, not exactly, but if the Catholics of the time read the Bible in a way anywhere similar to how Philo of Alexandria did I'd be nailing thesis to all kinds of things.
As you might have guessed I'm writing up my Philo chapter right now.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Folks

So here's my parents. They are chilling with MTV stars and writing things with their bodies... Mom's on the first D dad's on the first E. Sigh, to be old and carefree.
Back to the Thesis!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Andrew Sullivan put up my window

Not something to write home about I suppose... but when you spend your days and nights writing about child sacrifice it doesn't take much to excite you.... Oh, yeah... I'm writing up my disertation. I've written draft one of my Josephus chapter, I'm finishing up the skeleton version of my disertation tonight (minus a conclusion about what contemporary rewritings of Gen.22 say about modernity.)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Monday, May 21, 2007

Short Story Monday: Space

I left him screaming in his padded room. He was the third one we’d picked up this week. The new Captain was too green; he still believed we can bring them back, he thinks they want to come back, these raft riders, Asteroid miners, and solar pirates.
They don’t. None of them are 1st generation like most of us on the Minnow.
I sat down in the mess hall. Some coffee was brought to me. It hovered gently in my cup. We’ve yet to adequately produce all of Earth’s wonders consistently on long voyages like ours. I took a sip. It was good, though you could still taste the dry shippy bitterness, even in liquids.
“That’s an unhappy face there Iris. What’s on your mind?” Kevin from security said, sitting down across the table from me. He set his stainless steel thermos on the table.
“The Asteroid boy is still at it.”
“Four generations in space.”
“Jeeze. Imagine not knowing where you came from?”
I nodded in agreement and drank some more of the coffee.
“What you suppose his great great grand dad was running from?”
“It might be that he was running too something,” I countered.
“Most of ‘em were criminals though.”
“Criminality is in the eye of the beholder,” I said. His face soured at that. I tried to explain myself, “I think there was a real urge then to, you know,” I took a sip, “to fill the space. To fill space. It’s a very primitive, primeval urge. Dr. Gix Jin said, ‘Space is the womb, the fiminine, passive. Man wishes to fil it. To return from wence he came, to create anew the greatt old pattern, but now writ large upon the canvas of eternity.’ Yeah,” I said, “Dr. Gix Jin.”
I took a sip. Kevin drank from his thermos.
“Its bullshit. They were filth from the gutters of earth.”
“Even filth is motivated by something.”
“Is that why we are out here?”
I sipped the dreadful coffee, “No. Its just a job,” I finished it and left it on the table. I got up.
“See you later Iris.”
“See you Kevin,” I said, walking back to the hospital rooms.
The boy had never been to earth. He’d never felt real gravity, at least of the Earth kind. He’d likely lived on that asteroid his whole life. Yet we want him to be an earthman.
I could hear him still screaming as I neared his room.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The New Christianity

What can I say we are a nation wedded to war.

Christian Aid Week: 250 Pounds

Last Thursday I trotted through the rain knocking on doors along with other folks from Emmanuel URC's Young Adults Group for Christian Aid Week and raised 258.17 pounds, or about 500 US. Not to toot our own horn or anything, but I think we did a pretty darn good job!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Um... this is really bad.

he White House went ahead and reauthorized a controversial, presidential-power-grabbing program deemed illegal by the Justice Department, after trying to extract permission from a critically sick John Ashcroft who didn't quite know what day it was.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Did I mention I'm TTBA editor?


Short Story Sunday:Wiki-schools

Sometimes technology, politics, economics, and society at large, come together in such a way that they create out of disparate pieces something truly novel. Take for example Wiki-schools.
It was the year 2010 the Bush Era ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ had finally run its course. It had broken the backs of the teacher’s unions. Most public schools (in the American sense of course) were shut down. The private sector had moved in. Sadly ‘Teach 4 Les’ a Halliburton subsidiary, was doing no better, in fact much worse, than the old public school system. Then, during the historic Wiki-Warner GoogleTubeNews Corporation merger Rubpert Murdoch announced his company’s intent to enter the teaching sector.
That same year ‘Teach 4 Les’ went bankrupt when its CEO bought a Russian space ship and escaped to a Swiss asteroid along with all the company’s money. Wiki-Schools bought out the ailing and embarrassed company, and received all its no-bid government contracts.
Wiki-schools were ingenious, not to mention relatively inexpensive. For the first two years students were taught to read in intensive at-home one-on-one tutorials. In the third and fourth year students were moved to classrooms where they were taught basic math, science, and internet browsing skills. The remaining six years were self-taught. Students were given a laptop and introduced to progressively more advanced article links. They explored the vast Wiki-School database and in their third OS (Online Study) year were allowed to access non-Wiki sites. At the start of their fourth year of OS they begin contributing their own articles and their final two years consisted of a mixture of contributing further articles and correcting articles of their peers.
Within eight years of their introduction Wiki-schools had become the norm, replacing the few remaining public schools in the United States. Soon Open Source Schools (OSS) were the norm throughout Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Mexico followed suit in 2021 and the Eurussian Union made a similar program mandatory in 2025. That same year UNSP Secretary General Cameron signed the Education Equality Act, which required all Humans, both Planetary and Interplanetary, between the ages of 7 and 16 to be connected to an OSS by 2030.
This lead, directly or indirectly, to the two Homeschool-wars, the Great Crash, the 2nd Life Suicides, the creation of Internet Five, the Second Great Crash, the WOW/Gates War, and the creation of Internet Six. When all was said and done by 2040 equal education was universal.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Richardson's job interview

Kinda funny... we need a western president (and no Texas is not western).

Monday, April 30, 2007

The odd couple

I'd heard that Dennis Kucinich had gotten married, what I didn't know was she is a bit... and 27... and tall.
Kinda cool... kinda odd. Very Kucinich.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Short Story Sunday: The Men that Don’t Fit In

Otto and June had never had any trouble at OJ’s café. Sure the occasional outcast high schooler who smoked in the back would dine and dash, but that’s party of owning a business, right?
The regulars at OJ’s were a vertiable rogue gallery. Beth, Sue, and Ziek were three sculpors that lived together and had come to Wyoming looking for inspiration, and had found it. Then there was Tracy and Dan, an Alaskan couple, who showed up every day midway through their morning run. Dan always had a large Mocha Latte, Tracy a Macchiato. She was half-Eskimo (Inuit she would constantly remind Otto, who’s hearing, and cultural sensitivity were not the best) and often made jokes about being what you drank. Bob and Wayne Wislawski were brothers, third generation locals who both worked their father’s ranch.
There was also a man named Greg. He was big, but as shy as a rabbit or a feral cat. He wore flannel and a brown and gold University of Wyoming baseball cap, bucking horse and all. June got out of him that he was a trucker. He would show up every month or so for a couple of days. He’d park his rig at the Motel 6 over by the car lots. He would eat breakfast and an early lunch at OJ’s. He would always drink, “a regular tea, please.” That was all June saw of him.
Sometimes, after he’d leave, the regulars, to get out of their normal conversational patterns- about the price of beef, the aesthetics of mountains, where abouts the Bram boy was, that kind of thing- would speculate about Greg.
Wayne said he’s went to school with him, Bob denied it. He said it was a different Greg, this one’s hair was brown, the one back in school had blond hair. Anyway he would have recognized Wayne and Bob and said hello if they had went to school together.
Ziek had saw him go to St. Mary’s once. Not that he was religious mind you. But he’d seen him there none the less. Sue thought Greg was cute. Beth was indifferent and wanted to get back to talking about aesthetics.
Dan and Tracy were fairly agnostic about Greg.
Then one night, in mid September, the OJ was having a poetry reading. It was for the high schoolers mainly. Keep them off the street. Something to do on a Friday night in a small town.
The teens read their poems, lonely, about enveloping darkness, unrequited love, the kind of thing that seems to affect only you-and everyone else- at that age. The regulars were there too, because, well, they were regulars.
Otto had just turned the lights back down after the first break when the bullet casings tied to the door rattled, indicating someone had entered the café. There was Greg. He wore his flannels and brown hat as always. He walked widely around the microphone and ordered Earl Grey from June.
While the kettle boiled and the tea brewed Dan stood up, and ambled to the microphone. He said, “I’m an Alaskan originally, and one of the things we Alaskans learn, throughout our education, is poetry by Robert Service. There is one particular poem I had to memorize. I think was forced to memorize it in 6th grade, then again when I was a freshman, Junior, and Senior. Its titled “The Men Who Don’t Fit In.”
And he started, “There’s a race of men that don’t fit in/ A race that can’t stay still.” Greg sat down at a table. He absently plucked at his tea bag with his fingers.
“And each forgets, as he strips and runs/With a brilliant fitful pace,” Dan continued on. Greg was mesmerized by his voice, as it became gravelly and worn- strung out by the cold Alaskan air. His voice howled like a husky and sang like the edge of sled skis on ice.
Sue watched a tear form in Greg’s eye. He looked down at his Earl Grey and plucked the bag out, squeezing it. He then wiped the tear with his finger, still wet with tea. He grabbed for his cup and drank a sip. His mouth cringed at its bitterness, it had brewed too long and stewed.
As the poem neared its close, “He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance/ He’s just done things by half,” Greg took a long ugly draught of the tea, and chucked the cup at a window. Both the cup and window shattered.
June said, “Oh!” in surprise. Sue watched Greg storm out, the door slammed behind him. The shell cartridges smacked hard against the door. Dan, so caught up in the past, conitnued the poem, oblivious to what had happened. Otto fetched a broom.
No one saw Greg at OJ’s again, though Ziek thought he saw him around maybe once or twice. Bob reversed his position. He was now sure he did remember him from High School. Wayne was no longer so sure.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Apparently Abstinence is to hard for Randall Tobias

So, Randall Tobias, the dude who advocates the Bush's ABC program has been caught with his name in Jean Palfrey of DC Madams list of customers. If you will remember the ABC program suggests that one abstain from sex, be faithful, and if all else fails use a condom. Well, A and B didn't work for ol' Tobias, hopefully C did.
Now... I supposed I'm being crude, this man's life is probably going down in flames right now, maybe I shouldn't score political points with the fact that Tobias is kinda hypocritial.
At any rate, an interesting story.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Monday, April 23, 2007

The first integrated prom

I don't know what to think about this, on one hand that's great! On the other hand why did it take so long?
The quote that "it's not a racial thing" seemed rather disengenuous to me... you know, seperating one's prom based on race isn't a racial thing... yeah.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I'm back

Israel...Tons of things to write about, tons to say, but all of it scrambled around in a confused and jumbled mess of experiences that need untangling. A few flashed images to flash before you to give you an idea.
Good Friday, in the holy seplecure, kneeling at the stone where Jesus' body was prepared for burial, I touch the stone with my cross, people are wailing all around me, then I stand up, something hits the back of my head, everything goes black for a second, I step away, behind me stands a 12 foot tall candleabra with a stylized silver crown surrounding it. I ended up with a Holy Bump.
The Old City itself is filled with people doing their job. Their job is to take your money, either by begging, befriendment, or sale. The city is full, a crush of people.
The Kidron Valley should be called the Kidron dip.
The Mount of Olives and the Mount of Beatitudes, both or much more spiritual, you feel like they are places where Jesus would want to be, as opposed to Jerusalem, where he had to be.
More soon.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Off to the Holy Land

So, I just packed my sandals. I leave for Israel tomorrow. I likely won't blog until I'm back. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Short Story Sunday:Those Old Old Stories

“Then El went to sleep,” Abibal said to the children surrounding him. He tucked his hands underneath his chin, beneath his grizzly white beard, “And as he slept tears fell down his face, for his son was dead. Think of this little ones, the Great One, dead! The Son of El dead! So, with those tears darkness fell upon the earth. Mot had killed Ba’al.”
I turned away. He was going to focus on the battle. Their swords clashing, matching stroke for stroke, then Mot’s treachery, and the blade sinking into our god’s chest. The final breath leaving the mouth of our young god.
I once reveled in Abibal’s stories. But that was before the Invaders from Egypt came up from the south. Before they brought their garish tent containing their god, Change. Before they had drove us to the coast. I loved stories of blood and death, until I had experienced it. My mother and father had been put to the fires. Anat, my sister… her head had been beaten against a rock.
What Abibal spoke severed us in the old days. When we were at the height of power, when we inhabited our cities and our towns, we could afford to hear of Ba’al’s return. When we could spare the blood of our children, when we could throw the bones of the first born into pots for The King, then Abibal’s ways made sense. Now though we need all their blood, and flesh, and strength. These stories and rituals only fared us well before these strange Egyptians came.
I wonder how long we can hold out against them. Their host grows every day. The Mountain People have joined their cause. Some say El himself has. They say he has fled from us and declared himself Change’s brother.
I look one more time at the children near Abibal. He shouts, “Sword, sword,” yet he is of a generation who only had to use swords on sacrificial victims, children. He never had to face other men, other men with swords. What will these children see in their lifetime? What will these Strange Egyptians bring to our land? And what of their god, Change.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Zephyr hits a home run

I've always been a bit baffled by those who rail against the feminizing of the church. It isn't like we want Spartans running the church, or Crusaders for that matter.
The argument has been made that "feminization" of the church leads to an abandonment of absolute truth claims. I think instead what is being abandoned is the masculine propensity to assume one's own opinions and interpretations are cold hard fact, and the feeling that it is necessary to push forward these beliefs against real or percieved opponents in a cold hard Neitzchian will to power kind of way. It's the warrior ethos that feels a need to defend against real and percieved threats, barking every time someone says something, instead of only barking when a burglar is attempting to ransack the temple.
Not to say we should flop all the way to the other side and passively be molded by others and never taking a stand like some overrought woman in a bad victorian romance.
In short balance in all things.