Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Wired article on Bittorrent

You could think of BitTorrent as Napster redux - another rumble in the endless copyright wars. But BitTorrent is something deeper and more subtle. It's a technology that is changing the landscape of broadcast media.

"All hell's about to break loose," says Brad Burnham, a venture capitalist with Union Square Ventures in Manhattan, which studies the impact of new technology on traditional media. BitTorrent does not require the wires or airwaves that the cable and network giants have spent billions constructing and buying. And it pounds the final nail into the coffin of must-see, appointment television. BitTorrent transforms the Internet into the world's largest TiVo.

One example of how the world has already changed: Gary Lerhaupt, a graduate student in computer science at Stanford, became fascinated with Outfoxed, the documentary critical of Fox News, and thought more people should see it. So he convinced the film's producer to let him put a chunk of it on his Web site for free, as a 500-Mbyte torrent. Within two months, nearly 1,500 people downloaded it. That's almost 750 gigs of traffic, a heck of a wallop. But to get the ball rolling, Lerhaupt's site needed to serve up only 5 gigs. After that, the peers took over and hosted it themselves. His bill for that bandwidth? $4. There are drinks at Starbucks that cost more. "It's amazing - I'm a movie distributor," he says. "If I had my own content, I'd be a TV station."

During the last century, movie and TV companies had to be massive to afford distribution. Those economies of scale aren't needed anymore. Will the future of broadcasting need networks, or even channels?

via Gen Kanai

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Tsunami disaster

The tsunami disaster is hitting home for us here. Two of my friends and coworkers were in Thailand for beach holidays, and as of yet, nobody here has heard anything from them.

Sifting through the reports of the damamge and death, seeing pictures of little children dead in their parents' arms, I'll admit, gives me some real theological trouble. It is almost easier, thinking about God and all that, to hear of disasters involving human evil, because there humankind and all its evil choices are clearly the focus of the blame. But what to do in a situation like this? Just cry and shake your head I guess.

I remember reading an interview with the famous agnostic Charles Templeton wherein he describes to the interviewer the photograph that led to his loss of faith:

"Was there one thing in particular that caused you to lose your faith in God?" I asked at the outset.

He thought for a moment. "It was a photograph in Life magazine," he said finally.

"Really?" I said. "A photograph? How so?"

He narrowed his eyes a bit and looked off to the side, as if he were viewing the photo afresh and reliving the moment. "It was a picture of a black woman in Northern Africa," he explained. "They were experiencing a devastating drought. And she was holding her dead baby in her arms and looking up to heaven with the most forlorn expression. I looked at it and I thought, ‘Is it possible to believe that there is a loving or caring Creator when all this woman needed was rain?’"

As he emphasized the word rain, his bushy gray eyebrows shot up and his arms gestured toward heaven as if beckoning for a response.

"How could a loving God do this to that woman?" he implored as he got more animated, moving to the edge of his chair. "Who runs the rain? I don’t; you don't. He does — or that’s what I thought. But when I saw that photograph, I immediately knew it is not possible for this to happen and for there to be a loving God. There was no way. Who else but a fiend could destroy a baby and virtually kill its mother with agony — when all that was needed was rain?"

That really bugs me.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Wendell Berry, from Sex, Economy, & Community

...That possibility, though little honored, is well known; its most famous statement is this: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you." I did not include this idea as a precious possession of our civilization because it is not one. It is an idea given to our civilization but so far not accepted.

In times of war, our leaders always speak of their prayers. They wish us to know that they say prayers because they wish us to believe that they are deeply worried and that they take their responsibilities seriously. Perhaps they believe or hope that prayer will help. But within the circumstances of war, prayer becomes a word as befuddled in meaning as liberate or order or victory or peace. These prayers are usually understood to be Christian prayers. But Christian prayers are made to or in the name of Jesus, who loved, prayed for, and forgave his enemies and who instructed his followers to do likewise. A Christian supplicant, therefore, who has resolved to kill those whom he is enjoined to love, to bless, to do good to, to pray for, and to forgive as he hopes to be forgiven is not conceivably in a situation in which he can be at peace with himself. Anyone who has tried to apply this doctrine to a merely personal enmity will be aware of the enormous anguish that it could cause a national leader in wartime. No wonder that national leaders have ignored it for nearly two thousand years.

Erich wins

Erich wins Christmas Wish Post of the Year 2004.

Silent Night: The Power of Christmas

Saturday, December 25, 2004

John's Christmas appeal...

Just got a merry christmas email from Oleg and Rita in Vladivostok, Russia. It is looking a little chilly there, but it reminds me of home. Like really does. That could be my Dad's farm yard.

Anyway, check out Oleg and Rita and their family. They are two very big-hearted people who live together in a foster-family situation with all these kids in Vladivostok.

I know I have said it before, but in case you missed it, you can help them out with the expenses of helping out all these kids. Just go over to and give it some thought. There are a few homes being supported through that page. Oleg and Rita's specifically is here.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Merry Christmas from Japan

Christmas card 2004
Originally uploaded by fatblueman.

Smile or else

Originally uploaded by fatblueman.
Well, I tried and tried to get a good family Christmas photo for the yearly Christmas card, but after too many tries, this was the best that we could do. So what follows is what happens on Christmas cards when your kids are at an uncooperative age:

See next post...

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Vernand Eller from the preface of Christian Anarchy

Why, I asked myself, did I always wind up on the wrong side of each of the Christian Left's enthusiasms--peace, justice, equality, liberation, feminism? After all, I was supposed to be part of that gang, not an outsider. Yet no matter what was said or implied about me, I knew I was not a "conservative" over against their "liberalism." I was every bit as unhappy with the positions of conservatism as with those of liberalism. So, being neither a radical, a liberal, nor a conservative, what under the sun was I? What other option could there be?

The chapters here following will recount my discovery of the rather easily identifiable but almost entirely subconscious and submerged tradition of "Christian Anarchy." And with that tradition I had found my home and am at peace. All of my battles of the past thirty years now fall into place and make sense. Now I can see a consistency throughout; I knew what I was doing but didn't have name for it.

I really do believe the key was in coming up with the requisite terminology: "anarchy," with the derivatives "arky" and "arky faith." All along, of course, Scripture itself provided the terms that should have led us to this understanding but had not. Its talk of "the powers" would have done it--except that we automatically identified those only as the evil powers we were eager to combat and not at all including the good powers we embraced. Likewise, both with Jesus' "being not of the world" and Paul's "not being conformed to the world," we read them as counsels to separate ourselves only from the world's bad powers and certainly not from its good ones. Consequently, lacking an explicit terminology, even the greatest Christian anarchists--from Jesus on down--have not had themselves or their condition identified in a way that would make possible explicit consideration, analysis, and debate.

Vernand Eller from the preface of Christian Anarchy

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Face off

Originally uploaded by fatblueman.
And I just love this one so I had to post it....

Christmas photos

Originally uploaded by fatblueman.
A few family pics up on Flickr for anyone who wants to see.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Christmas song of the year

Evey year I seem to find a new Christmas song that really does it for me. Couple years ago it was Dave Matthews Christmas Song. Last year it was Sarah Maclaughlan (man, how do you spell that) with Song for a Winter's Night.

This year the winner is Fairy Tale of New York. Track it down, but get the version by The Pogues, not the one by Pilate, which does nothing for me at all.

Erich's Internet Emporium of Interesting Historical Tidbits

I did some high school history teaching, and it was my college major, so maybe that is why I am interested (I mean other than the fact that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it :-). I tune in at every opportunity for Erich's mini-history lessons. Today's I particularly liked, because it presents an aspect of truth-telling that is rare in the context I come from. Link that to the fact that i think such truth-telling is foundational to True Worship, and you have a post worth re-posting. Anyway, check it out. This guy is all about balance. I seriously wish I could have long talks over beers with him...

World War II has often been called "the last good war." It is so termed because it seems that the good guys and bad guys in this war were obvious. The Nazis and the Japanese were militarily aggressive and, in retrospect, had clear genocidal tendencies (at least the Germans). In addition to that, the Germans and the Japanese seemed to dismiss out of hand any of the rules of war. The terror bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam associated with the Nazi blitzkrieg tactics clearly displayed Hitler's lack of distinction between civilian and military targets. How could these not be the bad guys?

Well, clearly they were, but the good guys weren't always as good as post-war mythology was apt to say.

Read the rest here.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Vicarious Atonement vs. Christus Victor

Something I want to read later...

Vicarious Atonement vs. Christus Victor

Herbansprawl sponsored ad...

I just got an email from Smith, Funk, and Strauss. The "Smith" in that equation was the guy who recorded my whole CD for basically nothing, and to whom I am eternally indebted.

But it is not that debt that is motivating this post. Because the fact is, these guys make amazing music - deep, intelligent, and moving songs that don't leave you sad or bored. In fact, I will post one here for a few days for you to listen to, as of course in return you will all promise to go straight to their website and sign up from what I am about to describe:

They are going to live on the web! January 8th, at 5pm, Pacific Standard Time. These guys have perfected the live event known as a house concert, and this time, you can choose the house! It's ten dollars Canadian (which is like a buck and a half American, isn't it??).

So check it out here.

Update: Hey, and I just wanted to say that, if you would, please spread the word around on this one. I think it would be a brilliant thing if such grassroots, internet-type concerts were to take off. And it seems to me they would fit hand in hand with blogs, in that wonderful place where creativity and expression meet with some of the more democratic opportunities provided by the web....

... and if it goes real well I might steal the idea...

He is not risen, he is here...

Mahikari claims that this is the last resting place of Jesus Christ. They teach he died on the same day as Yoshikazu Okada (The founder of Mahikari and now considered by them to be the God of salvation for humankind) on June 23rd (May 4th of the lunar calendar), although around 2000 years apart.

...Yoshikazu Okada's claims, that Jesus was of Japanese descent, trained in Japan, escaped the crucifixion, returned to Japan, and eventually died there, and that all Christians have to go to Japan to receive salvation...

Size matters

"The Hutterites (who came out of the same tradition as the Amish and the Mennonites) have a strict policy that every time a colony approaches 150, they split it in two and start a new one. "Keeping things under 150 just seems to be the best and most efficient way to manage a group of people," Bill Gross, one of the leaders of a Hutterite colony outside Spokane, told me. "When things get larger than that, people become strangers to one another."

via Len

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Jubilation. I thought it was appropriate that this was kanji number 2001 in my textbook. Because that is somewhat how I was feeling. Now I am up to 2042 kanji learned, in exactly the time I had planned. Setting and accomplishing a large goal. New thing for me. Think I will try it again soon. Next project: the rest of the Japanese language...

Monday, December 13, 2004

And quotes from Generous Orthodoxy

And I sent off my copy of G.O. to a friend but I snatched some quotes from it before I did. So I will post a bunch of them in the days to come. My favorite one first. When I want to note something in a book I am reading, I draw a line beside it in the margin. This one got three lines, and it was just in there as a footnote:

Having read this sentence, you may perhaps better understand why I believe a person can affiliate with Jesus in the kingdom-of-God dimension without affiliating with him in the religious kingdom of Christianity. In other words, I believe that Christianity is not the kingdom of God. The ultimate reality is the kingdom of God, and Christianity at its best is here to proclaim and lead people into that kingdom, calling them out of smaller rings, smaller kingdoms. Christianity at its worst, using the definition in this paragraph, can become a sin when it holds people within its ring and won't let them enter the kingdom of God. Jesus diagnosed the religious leaders of his day as doing this very thing.

And another related one:

In the previous chapter, I suggested that Jesus didn't come to start another religion, which would include the Christian religion. I wasn't kidding. I do, in fact, believe that. That the Christian religion formed as it has is not surprising. It was no doubt necessary and in many ways good, and I know God is in it, and I am in it, too. But "the Christian religion" is neither the ultimate goal of Jesus nor the ultimate goal of God, in my view. Rather, the goal of Jesus is the kingdom of God, which is the dream of God, the wish and hope and desire of God for creation-like a parent's hopes and dreams for a beloved child.

And if your are wanting to reference this and wondering the page numbers, sorry. I scanned the quotes in by taking digital photos of the pages, which only caught a fdew of the page numbers, and so you're just gonna have to take my word on it... it's all in there.

And in the book McLaren points to this article by Joshua Masssey, His Ways Are Not Our Ways. Good read. Kind of a postmodern missiology. Go find out what a Muslim follower of Jesus is.

More from DF

Dwight expanded on his post from before, and I just want to put it here for later:

Ryan Pettit wrote a thoughtful response to my "Christianity maybe an antichrist" entry of 12/4. He graciously critiques my post, offering seasoned rational for his claims.

Ryan began his response by offering three definitions of religion, these are useful. He stresses his third definition as the most precise, as it positions a person for thoughtful engagement with the religions of the world. Religion, he writes is: "a system of ideas and behaviors that assist participants in relating properly to their God and the rest of the world." That feels pretty solid.

The Second Movement of his response began with the powerful statement, "Religion is your friend, Christian." I returned to his definition of religion, and I thought, "ok, I can mostly buy that." From my perspective in laying out his rational for the Christian defense of religion he almost underscores my initial post.

What is the religion that God accepts according to James?

I want to be clear that I am not trying to throw out History, or Orthodoxy. That is not my intention. We are who we are in large part because of "the great cloud of witnesses" that came before us. To throw out history is to fail to know one's social-self. Anyone who seeks to know God in Christ by the Spirit will find themselves sitting under others who have also walked with God.

If God wanted a religious humanity would we not see signs of religion in the pre-fallen state of the Garden of Eden? Instead what we see is a relationship between God and humanity that is tacitly intimate without need of religion. Or maybe we'd see signs of religion in the New Heaven and the New Earth, here again we see relational imagery in contrast with religious imagery. Our Lord Jesus Christ makes for an interesting study for religion. After all Jesus Christ is fully human and fully God, so if one wants to see what a "religious human" looks like, a Christian will look to Christ; and if one wants to see how God sees religion, a Christian will look to Christ.

Jesus Christ was religious. After all, he was a Jew - a Rabbi. Jesus didn't walk around areligiously, he was thoroughly Jewish, in fact there was no option. This is one of the most important aspects of the incarnation, Jesus was more radically particular than most Western Protestant Christ-followers are comfortable admitting; Christ was born into a social/cultural tradition; he was born to a specific family, etc. Jesus did not magically appear out of thin air he was reared in such a religious context that likely he would have scarcely been aware of his religiosity (certainly not as we think of religiosity today). Kind of like a fish being aware of water. He lived at a time and a place where there were a handful of distinct groups; for our purposes we could say Jews of that day saw two groups: Jews and Gentiles.

So Jesus Christ was a Jew but he was different Jesus first concern was not Judaism; Christ's concern is better described as a passion for His Father, love for one another, and the Kingdom of God. What do we defend when we defend religion?

Ryan's hermeneutic tweaks a phrase I used. His reworking of my statement reads, "[God] wants us to live fully human lives, and that can only be accomplished if we live according to God's instructions." I find it interesting that King David breaks almost all of the Ten Commandments yet he is called a "Man after God's own heart" while the Pharisees of Jesus' day kept all the laws and Christ called them "white washed tombs." So what is God looking for? To suggest that God is looking us to live according to God's instructions may be to miss the point.

Len Sweet, in his own unique voice says, "There is no point to Christianity;" there is only Christ (I hope you hear Trinity when I say Christ). To make a point is to set up an idol.

I loved Ryan's emphasis on Divine narrative. The idea that God reveals Godself to the world through history and that part of the privilege and responsibility of those walking in the Way of Christ is to live into that tradition and pass it on. Of course tradition is never passed on without bias and emphasis; this is why prophetic voices are so important, and why religion can be so dangerous. Religions of any stripe often kill their prophets. The gospel which each generation receives is as tainted as the gospel each generation will pass to the next; this is not a reason to despair or give up on faith, rather, it is an act of faith - it is an invitation to live in the Spirit.

By the grace of God and as best as I am able, I love God; thus I love learning more about God. So I study theology. But I study theology carefully and confessionally, for the study of theology can very quickly become an I/It relationship rather than an I/Thou (see Buber). Christian theology is the ongoing joy of the people of God. After 14 years of marriage I still delight to discover the wonder of Lynette; to see her in new light, to be surprised by the beauty of her love. That's not too far from Christian theology. Theology might be described as the perichoresis of soul, text and culture with the Spirit of God.

In passing on tradition we run into the issue of institutionalization and reification. When I was a preteen looking forward to attending my church's youth group, the youth group decided to hold a youth retreat. Everyone loved it. The next spring they held another retreat. Well, the following year the spring retreat was a given. By the time I entered the youth group the spring retreat had been institutionalized. The group that created the retreat to serve the group was now serving the retreat. This is reification in action. Peter Berger handles this masterfully, "Reification implies that man is capable of forgetting his own authorship of the human world, and further, that the dialectic between man, the producer, and his products is lost to consciousness" (Berger 1989, 89). As a Christ-follower writing to a different audience then Berger was, I would want to stress that Christian religious tradition is not a human creation apart from God. After all, the hope of Glory is that we are in Christ and Christ is in us. God by the Holy Spirit is the unifying person of the social construct we call Christian religion.

Earlier I suggested that Ryan's "Christian defense of religion" might underscore my initial post; let me briefly unpack this. Ryan's defense is one that every human takes. We return to what we think we know to be true because it feels solid. It's a lot like a battered woman returning to her abusive husband; a classic case of our solution being part of our problem. Christ always comes to us and says, "Surrender your confidence in anything but me. Trust me."

God in grace uses this "Balaam's ass" we call Christian Religion. God has used it and I trust/assume God will continue to use it until the great day when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. The day when religion melts away and we see and are seen, we know and are known, and the oneness at the tail-end of Christ's High Priestly Prayer is experienced in fullness.

But until that time we live in the paradox of honoring our traditions while deconstructing them as an act of love. This is a relational move of faith, trusting in the Holy Spirit of God. It is ancient-future (to borrow from Robert Webber), but it is neither ancient nor future – it must be both. And so I am a student of theology, who loves the church of Christ, yearns for the relational reign of God and question all of it to the Glory of the Triune God reveled in Christ and present by the Spirit.

Religion loves rules; Christ breaks them. People rely on religions; Christ bids us to trust him. He invites us to lay down that which we think we can and should rely on to become humble servants, hosting meals of bread and wine to a hungry and thirsty world - not religiously but out of Divine love.

Ryan, thanks so much for the gift of engagement. Midrash is the work of the church, its the process of Orthodoxy; may God continue to give us grace as we wrestle, as we live and as we love.

Monday, December 06, 2004

One more for the Christian Anarchy files...

Christ trumps all religious systems. Jesus Christ did not create a religion, he lived meta-religion; no religion could contain him. Though he was a Jewish Rabbi, he didn't teach the law, he fulfilled it. When Christ-followers brought Christ with them into the Greco-Roman world Christ transcended Hellenistic religious systems thus Christianity was deemed a threat. The life of Christ is a threat to any system. Just as God's Kingdom is too large for the church; Christ is too large for Christianity.

Christ refused to serve the religious structures of his culture instead chose to serve people, especially the people being marginalized by the religious structures. This is one of the reasons why Christ is killed by religious structures; because Christ demonstrations the failures of those systems. The way of Christ renders the "point" of religion obsolete; Christ makes all religions antichrist… including Christianity.

The "more excellent way" which the Apostle Paul describes to the church in Corinth is Christ's way; it is the way of love which trumps religion.

God has no interest in creating a religion; rather God has always yearned to do life with people who simply live their tacit knowing/experience of Divine love. God does not want Christians; God wants humans. Christ, who is fully God and fully human invites us to live his life. "His life" is life in the Spirit of God.

via Dwight

Friday, December 03, 2004

New keyboard

It seems to take a lot to motivate me to write something on this blog, but today I got a new keyboard and that is doing it for me. Gotta test this thing out. Ok well, everything seems to be working fine.


Another good answer

Ooo. Another good one:

Q. To what extent does a biblical view of God's justice and mercy "drive" your thesis?

A. By its very nature, grace entails that no one deserves it. So, since everyone is a sinner, God could justly leave us all to suffer the consequences of our rebellion. He has no obligation to show mercy to any of us. Synergists like Charles Finney have argued for the accessibility of salvation on the basis of God's justice, but I cannot do so. When God showed himself to Moses, he described himself as "the Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Ex 34:6). God spoke his last and fullest word in his Son (Heb 1:2), and in Jesus we see a God so tender and compassionate, so troubled by the plight of people suffering under sin, and so passionate about delivering them from all forms of bondage, that I think we have much reason to be hopeful that God's grace and mercy to sinners will be very great. So the mercy of God is a much larger driving theme in my construct than is his justice.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Good answer

Good answer in an interview with a guy named Terrance L. Tiessen whose book I want to read:

Q. Some evangelicals will wonder whether your proposal doesn't dull our motive for mission. But much of your life has been invested in missions. Briefly, how do you respond?

A. I am well aware of the concern that the nerve of missionary motivation will be cut if we inform people that God can save people without the ministry of missionaries. In earlier years I shared that concern, and I appealed to people to go and send and pray for missionaries because without that human witness, people would be irrevocably damned. When I came to believe that Scripture did not support that view, I also noticed that the New Testament provides very strong motivation for missionary work without ever basing its appeal on this ecclesiocentric or restrictivist ground.

The good news concerning Jesus is God's ordinary means for bringing sinners into relationship with himself and maturing them in communities of faith that provide a small foretaste of life in the kingdom of God. Evangelism is not just about getting individuals saved from eternal condemnation, it is about bringing into being new covenant communities of people in and through whom God is working to turn back the ravages of sin--personal and social--and to establish his reign on earth. It is hard to overstate the blessing of knowing that we are God's people, who live in his love and constant care and whom he gifts to be a blessing to other believers and to the world. If we really love people and want them to flourish, we will want them to be part of the church and of God's continuing work of transformation in and through it. I believe that we should rejoice in the thought that some of God's elect are among those whom the church, in its weakness or disobedience, has not reached with the gospel, and at the same time be passionate about serving God's purposes for the well-being of those people, here and now. Few things are more exciting to a missionary than the surprise of finding that God has been at work before we arrive with the gospel and that people's hearts are already turned toward God and eager to receive his fuller revelation. Why would it disturb us that God may have saved some of those people, particularly ones who had lived and died in the years before we got there?