Friday, October 29, 2004

John the meteorologist

I may be bored, or mad from hearing other prairie-types bad mouthing Winnipeg winters (only we are allowed to do that), but I was just spending some time looking at weather statistics. Here are my conclusions:

Calgary: Ok, they can brag a little. Seems winter is not so cold there. Damn chinooks.

Edmonton: Have us by a hair, but not really much to brag over.

Saskatoon and Regina: They got nothing to say at all. Same as Winnipeg.

And before you Vancouverites start getting all smug, check out this one:

January hours of sunshine: Winnipeg - 120; Vancouver - 55.

And here's one for the gang back home. Thiruvanantha, India: January avg - 27 degrees; August avg - 26 degrees. Hours of sunshine, January - 263.

Can get it out of my head...

U2 has a knack for soundtracking my life, and that latest single has got me again.

It's everything I wish I didn't know
Except you give me something I can feel

Uh huh.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Man, that's well said...

So elections are being held in America. We’re watching curiously here. Previously, Iraqis didn’t really take a very active interest in elections. We knew when they were being held and quite a few Iraqis could give an opinion about either of the candidates. I think many of us realized long ago that American foreign policy really had nothing to do with this Democrat or that Republican.

It sometimes seems, from this part of the world, that democracy in America revolves around the presidential elections- not the major decisions. War and peace in America are in the average American’s hands about as much as they are in mine. Sure, you can vote for this man or that one, but in the end, there’s something bigger, more intricate and quite sinister behind the decisions. Like in that board game Monopoly, you can choose the game pieces- the little shoe, the car, the top hat… but you can’t choose the way the game is played. The faces change but the intentions and the policy remain the same.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Strong quakes rock Japan, killing two and derailing train

This wasn't anywhere near us, but it the number of quakes this year is starting to make me nervous. Nagoya is awaiting its own "big one" and we are just hoping that in such an event our old house would hold up. What a weird mental state to live in - any day a huge quake could, no, will kill a bunch of us, and there is nothing to do but get as ready as you can. What are you gonna do? Shikata ga nai, as the Japanese say. Coming from Winnipeg, where the only natural disaster is winter, I am having a hard time with all the time Japan is spending in the news recently. Typhoons, quakes, and even a volcano. What's left? I suppose Godzilla should be along fairly soon.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Joke of the Day

Q. What's the difference between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War?

A. George W. Bush had a plan to get out of the Vietnam War.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Fight peaceful

Fight Peaceful
Originally uploaded by fatblueman.
That sounds right to me.

Jon Stewart responds to his "Crossfire" visit

And it's a bit lighter than that previous clip...


Jon Stewart 'Crossfire' feud ignites Net frenzy

...glad to a part of the hype.

Good comment

I'll give my two cents twice in one day. I think a key point is whether God sent Jesus to die like some sadistic daddy or whether God voluntarily chose to participate in the suffering of the world to show us the path of redemption. I believe option B. The truth is that most evangelicals and fundamentalists aren't really monotheistic - They believe in two gods - the Father and Jesus. The Holy Spirit is sort of this extra subsidiary thing they mostly ignore. Anyway, if there is one God who sacrificed Godself, then God suffers with us. Suffering is inevitable, but if we enter into it, rather than avoiding it, then we find resurrection on the other end of it, and God there with us. Conversion is our continuous journey of death and resurrection.

Anyway, that's how I understand it.

I liked that comment enough to track the person down and add her to my newsreader. From Christy.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Solzhenitsyn on freedom

After the Western ideal of unlimited freedom, after the Marxist concept of freedom as acceptance of the yoke of necessity - here is the true Christian definition of freedom. Freedom is self-restriction! Restriction of the self for the sake of others!

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Daily Dig - Freedom and Security by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

I post this because I am finding it in my life to be very true, when I do it. It is a vital thing to grasp the fact that you are free to do as you wish, but I am finding in so many areas of life, big to small, from eating right to living more simply to making friends in places I normally would not, that it is restricting my own freedom that makes things get brighter all around. Doing that hard stuff that there is no obligation to do in the first place - good things happen there. I guess maybe that's the point of the cross.

Saturday, October 16, 2004


Yep. 'Zactly. What Paul said.

Brothers in arms

Brothers in arms
Originally uploaded by fatblueman.
I think this pretty much captures how Simon is adjusting to the new little brother.

Whew. That was tense...

I am used to Jon Stewart the funny guy on The Daily Show. But check him out on Crosstalk. Starts out funny, but, wow, you find out JS is not all humour...

Update: Man, I'm still feeling awkward.

via Gen Kanai

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Zahar in Vladivostok

We are having a great time emailing back and forth with Zahar, the guy we are sponsoring at an orphanage in Vladivostok. This is the first time I have ever done a sponsorship, but I must say there is something really good about the personal connection. The kids we are connecting with are not just a faceless organization (not that that is always bad... but this is good too!) and maybe they are changing us a little as we try to help them out. And the fact that they are just a two hour plane ride across the water means that the hope of us being a little more involved in each others' lives is a very real one. Already some other friends in Japan have sponsored kids there as well. Maybe we will have to make a connection some time in the near future. I'd better work on my Russian...

Why doesn't someone give some consideration to sponsoring Zhenya or Oksana. Go give their stories a read. It would be about $40 a month very well spent.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

This was supposed to be a comment...

Yeah, a comment over at Maggi Dawn's site, but it said it was too long, so I will put it here because I don't wanna just delete it:

That's an interesting post. Good to be reminded of.

Having come from an "evangelical inerrancy" type perspective, these days I often find myself wondering if the power of what the bible communicates would lose one bit of strength if the bible "inspiration-level" were the same as, say, that of the works written by Plato about Socrates. In that case, the strength of the message comes simply from the truth of what was said. And for me, it is the same with Jesus. My faith in him doesn't flow from the idea that he makes an appearance in a divinely inspired book. It comes from just how convincing he was to me in what he said and how he lived.

My concern is not so much "is what the writers wrote inspired by God" as much as it is "is what the writers wrote true" (ie: not propaganda). Because if it is true, then we have a record of the words and actions of a divine being, of what God wanted to communicate to humankind. And therein lies its authority. Not because a council got together and agreed "these books are from God, these are not".

I can imagine the canon could be different by a few books in this direction or that, and it would have minimal effect on our expressed faith. I mean, with the closed canon that we have, there is already enough breadth and diversity of opinion so as to seem ridiculous at times. Closing the canon seems to have had little bearing on what is orthodoxy.

That's why, for me, centering strongly on Jesus makes a lot of sense. I admit this sets up a kind of biblical hierarchy (Jesus first, epistles and OT informing what he was about) but I think that is defensible. To me there is clarity and simplicity of thought and action in Christ that gets muddled or even ignored when we raise things like biblical inerrancy, church tradition, etc. to places of vital importance.

English folks debating about the atonement...

Blogs can be an interesting way of connecting with things I am sure I would never have heard of otherwise. I have been reading reports about the controversy in the UK over a guy named Steve Chalke and a book he wrote challenging the majority evangelical view of the atonement. That is a subject that always interests me because I think it is one theological point that can have a big influence on our action and expression of Christianity.

I am no fan of a really rigid approach to atonement theology that treats anything diverging from penal atonement as heresy. I mean, the early church had no formal theory of the atonement, yet they seemed to do as well as any of us in being disciples of Jesus. I think that fact points to the possibility that we need to consider and hold a number of theories in tension in order to grasp something of the fullness that God is trying to communicate in Jesus.

From what I heard about Chalke's point of view, it sounds like is putting forth a lot of good ideas that need to be heard. In an article some time ago, I struggled with some of the theology of Christ on the Cross that made no sense to me, and from what I read on Graham's blog, it sounds like I should read Chalke's book; it seems like he is communicating clearly what were just a bunch of muddled hunches for me.

The one thing I don't understand though, and that has a lot to do with not knowing the English context they are in, is why the debate actually arises in the first place. Not that that is at all a bad thing - on the contrary I think it is great that they would all get together and talk these things through. I guess what I would expect to happen would be for Chalke to write the book, get labelled as a heretic and written off by some segment of the evangelical community, and everyone would go on quietly with their lives. I mean, its not the first time ideas like this have surfaced. J. Denny Weaver in America wrote a book full of very similar ideas, and I don't think it even caused a stir (heh, maybe evangelicals just ignored it because they figure Mennonites aren't really evangelicals anyway). And Steve Chalke seems to be quite concerned with remaining an evangelical in good standing, enough so to defend himself vigorously and passionately in a packed debating hall. Rather than just saying, "so what, some people think I am not an evangelical, who cares" he seems to demonstrate that being a member in good standing of the evangelical fold is of great value. Can anyone explain this to me?

Jesus was a Canadian (or possibly a Russian)


I always figured Jesus probably played hockey...

via Conrad

Monday, October 11, 2004

Jesus links personal holiness to getting rid of your money...

I wanted to note this passage because it was making me think today:

37As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited him home for a meal. So he went in and took his place at the table. 38His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the ceremonial washing required by Jewish custom. 39Then the Lord said to him, "You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are still filthy--full of greed and wickedness! 40Fools! Didn't God make the inside as well as the outside? 41So give to the needy what you greedily possess, and you will be clean all over.

42"But how terrible it will be for you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income,[8] but you completely forget about justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things.

At some point I should write what it was making me think...

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Strongest typhoon in decade strikes Tokyo

Wow. That one was supposed to hit us, but veered off. Wasn't so bad here yesterday...

Saturday, October 09, 2004


Originally uploaded by fatblueman.
So there is the first one. One of my favorite little friends. And just as her shirt says.

direct to blog

Apparently I can now send photos from my phone directly to this blog by usinf Flickr. I shall be giving that a try. I have thus far been using Phlog, but it doesn't let me put anything directly on to this one. Very nice.

Friday, October 08, 2004

kanji progress...

By the way, as of today, I am up to 1246 kanji learned. Only around 800 to go. That's eight more weeks. Oh yeah! And then I think I'll learn Chinese after that. I mean, its the next logical step. And Korean too. Yeah, why not...


There is no such thing as a “quick” hello here because it takes you five minutes just to finish the common greeting, which is spoken continuously and simultaneously between you and everyone else present. The trick is never try to answer their questions. Just continue to say your greeting until everyone stops, then answer the last question you heard and then say, “And you?”. Translated, it goes something like this: “Peace be unto you. (And also with you) Are you fine? How are you? Are you healthy? Is your health fine? Are you working? (or…going? coming? – whatever they/you are doing) You’re not tired, are you? Is your family fine? Are you healthy?…(repeat if not everyone is finished yet)” And the whole thing ends with everyone saying, “Fine, thank you.” “Fine, thank you.” “Fine, thank you.” “Fine” “Fine” “Fine” repeatedly, until everyone finally stops.

from Top 10 Absurdities (so far)
By Dee Warren on Uzbekistan

I so completely agree...

So well said Junicus. Today I am walking around in the rain in a t-shirt to celebrate.

In Canada, relief came when spring showed it's face. The snow melts, revealing the smell of bark and brown grass. It's only 10 degrees, but you feel like wearing shorts. Or if you're like me, you feel like stripping naked, and running wildly through the streets with a huge smile on your face because you can feel warm sunshine on your skin.

In Japan, relief comes now. After 5 months of humidity so bad you feel like taking a second shower an hour after the first; where a perpetual layer of grease is everpresent on your face. I carry around a cloth for the sole purpose of wiping the dripping sweat off my face and neck.
I still feel like stripping naked, but not to feel the sun. Instead I want to feel the wind. I want every pore to become a goosebump, and feel chilled to the bone. I never thought it would feel so good to be cold.