Sunday, February 29, 2004

IRAQ: CPTers physically threatened, tied up and robbed in Baghdad apartment

"We are here on a mission. My friend has a bomb strapped to his body. Would
you like to see it?" The one with the bomb lifted his sweater to offer a
brief glimpse of a small, rectangular, black box at his waist with a cable
running up to his shoulder. "The bomb is set to go off in 15 minutes, but
we really don't want to hurt you people. You will get out of this if you

I looked at the clock. It was 10:35pm. He pulled out a gun and the bomber
pulled out a knife. When I asked what cooperating meant, he answered,
"That's all right. Youll find out soon."

Saturday, February 28, 2004

This week I attempted a re-entry into the world of blogging: checking out what people are saying, trying to get involved a little in the conversations, and trying to post more often than once a week on my own site. And you know what? These guys who blog a lot yet say that blogging doesn't take up a lot of their time are either wrong, or have some efficiency secret I know not of. This week I hardly did any Japanese study, and that just isn't going to do. I am constantly faced with the fact that the things I really want to do in Japan are going to require me to know the language, so I have to keep my priorities straight. Man, and wait till the music gets going again! I may be fast approaching the point of a "too-busy" life where something is going to have to go. Or at very least a few things are going to have to be reduced.

I am at that very awkward point of language learning where I can understand a lot, and basically communicate whatever I want to (basic subjects), but with brutally poor grammar, syntax, vocabulary, etc. I see why it is so easy and so common to start feeling hopeless, get sidetracked, and give up on study. I mean, I know I am doing better than I ever have, but all I can hear is how juvenile my communication sounds in comparison to all the experts around me. How many times to I get giggles at the "cute" way in which I just said something... I hate that!! And how many times did I do the same thing to learners of English (sorry Ionka)? Note to those of you back home who have English learners around you: don't do that. They hate that!!!

And I can't even read yet! Wow. Marathon pace... marathon pace... just keep saying that.
I am new to xml site feeds but I'm in now. And now I am checking out news readers. Any suggestions on which is the superior one?

Friday, February 27, 2004

Diana had an interesting point about the passion movie as we chatted this morning. She wondered which response seeing the gory stuff will inspire in people:

1. God help me to join Christ in his suffering,


2. Glad he suffered so much so I don't have to!
Stanley Hauerwas' "Tonto Principle":

Some people think that if you have a position of Christian nonviolence, you don't have anything to say because you're excluded from making discriminating political judgments. In a sense that is right. I always say I represent the "Tonto principle of Christian ethics." When Tonto and the Lone Ranger found themselves surrounded by 20,000 Sioux, the Lone Ranger turned to Tonto and said, "This looks pretty tough; what do you think we ought to do?" Tonto replied, "What do you mean 'we,' white man?"
Dwight Friesen says:

I was telling a friend that I believe that ALL philosophy, science, theology and even heresy are a gift from God, often serving a prophetic role for humanity. And all is an invitation to know (in the eastern sense) the fullness of God in Christ.

He responded: "This struck me as an interesting thought. I am curious about ALL - is there no bad? Destructive? Death-dealing? that one should avoid? What about the narrow road?"

This is how I responded:

Consider an application of Hegel's dialectic:

We hold a thesis, a belief - and we are introduced to an anti-thesis (something/someone that challenges out worldview). Relational engagement with the antithesis leads us to synthesis (making sense of our old thesis with the antithesis). The synthesis then becomes our new thesis; and repeat.

When some of us encounter an antithesis out of fear we tend to turn inward, digging in our heels and saying "that can't be true," and the crisis of faith is resisted. Others of us say "whatever" and buy the antithesis, there failure to engage is an inward turn that placates self, and relieves the fear of the unknown.

Synthesis is a leap of faith, and every leap of faith must be understood relationally, it is beyond self. And the process of life and faith continue in this dynamic way.

Every "bad" philosophy can have this impact. That is my understanding of how God brings good out of evil.

The narrow road is the faith journey with Christ. It is not theology or beliefs per se. Destructive, death-dealing things to avoid are refusing Christ's incarnational/missional invitation to synthesis.

It is through synthesis that Christ is WITHnessed to the world.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Is the Jesus movie opening at home tomorrow? I doubt we will see it here for a while. I know it is a pessimisstic first response, but the thought that crossed my mind was, hell ya, that's what western Christianity needs - another portrayal of the death of Christ isolated from his life and message. But I guess art reflects life, and it is being made by a western Christian.

But in fairness, I haven't even seen the movie. Anybody see it and have a healthier perspective?
My one word definition of postmodernity is humility. To me, the recognition of contingency seems appropriately lived out in a stance of courageous humility. Perhaps this is one area that distinguishes my postmodern provincialism from the provincialism of my ancestors: that the large projects of Truth, Objectivity and Civilization have been exchanged for the open projects of internetworked knowledge, living and co-existence.

And again, mmwah, mmwah.
Strange festivals in Japan at the phlog...

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Interesting bit about Angelina Jolie and her work with the UN here. And a journal about her trip to Russia.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Interesting Japanese language point to ponder:

The word for "different" is the same as the word for "wrong".

Is there any cultural significance to that?

But also consider: "Honda" means, "it's a book"...


Sunday, February 15, 2004

And another one:

Andrews recalls painful personal experiences of rejection by Christian organisations 'in the name of Christ', then he traces Christianity's sorry record in this area. He offers an alternative vision - a radical embracing of the way of compassion as revealed in the life of Jesus. It ought to be our orientation to this Christ-model which shapes our solidarities, not commitment to structures and power at all cost.

The declaration that 'Jesus is Lord' meant something political in the first century; it was a radical qualification of the so-called lordship of all earthly powers. Dave Andrews reminds us that the Church and the many Christian organisations around the world need to rediscover this lesson.

There is another way other than the way of self-righteous power, and that way is the way of other-directed compassion. Andrews tells stories about that way. Stories of ordinary people acting at some cost to themselves to help others. If there is power in the Christian life, it is the power of love and grace. And what has been freely given to us, is to be freely and respectfully shared with others.

from a review on Dave Andrews Christi-anarchy at Jesus radicals:

Dave Andrews describes himself as "a bit of an activist." As such he does not seem to wrestle with this activism as Ellul and Vernard Eller have (and have caused me to do!) He simply assumes that "activism" is what Jesus calls his followers to do. At times in the book he explicitly addresses the activists not to lose hope, etc and it seems as if the word almost is used interchangeably with "Christi-Anarchy." John Howard Yoder made helpful distinctions of the different ways in which the church responds to the world, 1) the activist church 2) conversionist church and 3) the confessing church. I think this book would have been much stronger if he had defined more clearly this activism and taken into account Yoder's distinctions.

The activist church, which looks like many liberal protestant and conservative Evangelical churches, looks outward seeking to make the world a better world rather than a better church. The activist church joins movements already in existence because it sees God at work in all movements of social and political change.

The conversionist church, which also looks like Evangelicalism including YWAM, looks inward. It is the soul of the person that matters. The social structures of society cannot be changed because of the power of sin. Sinful people cannot embody the example of Jesus in their own lives. So what happens is that they end up underwriting whatever regime happens to be in power, because it can't be changed. They try to choose the lesser of the evils, but still do evil!

The confessing church rejects both of these models. It is not a middle ground that synthesizes the thesis (activist) and antithesis (conversionist) models. The confessing church model rejects the equation of being faithful with being effective (which means that both conversionist and activist church's set at least one principle above simply being the church.) The confessing church seeks to simply be an alternative community, to worship Jesus Christ at all cost. Dave Andrews could have used this distinction to show that his new vision seeks to convert people to these alternative "anarchist" "self-directed" "intentional communities" and to influence the world by being such an alternative community.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

I am not blogging much. I realize that.

That is mainly because I am not getting close to the computer very much these days. And the reasons for that vary. One is that Mitch is sleeping in the computer room, and sitting at the computer has got to annoy him, so I tend not to come in here as much. Another is that I have been in Japan now very close to a total of three years, and I am feeling guilt-ridden about the mediocre state of my Japanese language ability. So these days (that's "konogoro" in Japanese - just learned that yesterday...) I am trying to focus the majority of my free time on my Japanese text. And language learning is such a roller coaster. One day I have a conversation that makes me think I have arrived as a fluent speaker. The next I find my self in a situation that leaves me wondering if I have yet made it beyond the beginner stage.

And beyond that, there is general internet boredom. I hit these stages (in the last one, I quit my blog altogether) where sifting through pages and pages of blogs loses all appeal to me. I am in one of those right now. I am sure the time will come again when I will blog faithfully, though I wonder whether I will ever reach the more-than-one-entry-per-day stage again That for me seems to require a sort of depression-induced boredom that keeps me sitting at the computer for hours on end. And things are going too well for that these days.

So let see, while I am here, what could I update you on... Well, we are getting the music going again, and that is making everyone happy. One of Diana's student is a really good fiddle player and so we are going to try adding him to the band mix. I love the weird fusion that happens in adding a violin to a pop/rock setting, and this guy is a freestyler so it should be fun. We are just getting practiced and getting gigs.

In addition to that, I am trying to write more (songs), but life's busyness is making that a challenge. That is what was so great about university: there was so much time to just think and feel and create. I wonder if I will find a space like that again. Maybe when debts are paid. We'll see.

Mitch is a fun addition to the house. He is looking for work and might have found something last night at a club we went to in Nagoya. They want him to be an MC for the techno/house night on Saturdays. Not a DJ, an MC. For house and trance... Neither of us really knows what that means, but he is willing to find out.

The weather is already getting beautiful after a brutally cold winter. I think it went as low as minus three last month! And people still choose to live here. Wow.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

...syncretism, on the other hand, can be addressed head on. the concept is simply meaningless in our moment. it is conceptually undermined by its pervasiveness.

one can no longer speak of syncretism as if one were in possession of a purity of system that could act as an absolute reference point in judging what was syncretistic and what was not. syncretism is a hold over from old missiological thinking that began with an objective, linear, didactic gospel that could be contextualized (branded) and distributed globally like any other product. the end of objectivity is also the end of syncretism and contextualization. the world is much more complex and the gospel is much simpler than these categorical stalwarts of modern theological practice suggest.

Dan, I kiss you, mmwah.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Wrist-cutting the 'in-thing' among youth

K, I was all over the birth of Astro Boy thing, but there are some fads I just won't go out for...

The right way to watch the Superbowl...