Monday, March 30, 2009

Experimental Blog (aka "xblog")

I was looking at an old friend's Facebook page, and she had posted some pictures from high school - in class, hanging out, etc. We're talking early 90's here, and I just had this sudden wave of nostalgia. Does anyone remember feeling like "man I'm now in high school, it's now the 90's, society has now zenithed, and I'm at the top"? Is "zenithed" a word?

Friday, March 27, 2009

My Experiment With This Blog

The article I mentioned on the last post plus some interesting thoughts I had at a coffee shop today got me thinking about something.

Okay, so you have blogs. Like Collideoscope. Blogs that you read, perhaps hear about a cool link or hear about something going on in the author's life. That's on one end of the spectrum. Then you have Twitter, which is basically a "micro-blog", a one sentence update on what's going on in someone's life at the time (e.g. "I missed my bus"). From what I just gleaned from the quick video promo of Twitter, we're talking no more than 140 characters per post.

So what about something in between? Like a three sentence blog that says something like, "I was at a coffee shop today and saw these two older guys having great face-to-face conversation. But then there was this group of twenty-somethings sitting at a table and they all were at laptops with headphones on. Occasionally they would mutter something to each other. Isn't that an interesting generational gap?"

Basically something strikes you and you blog it, but not a real blog, and not a "tweet" either.

So I'm going to try it here starting Monday. 3-5 times a week, in addition to regular blogs, I'll have quick plugs like the one above. I want you to tell me if you think it's interesting, boring, dumb idea, whatever, and we'll see what happens.

Rockin' Robin Says Tweet Tweet

Steven Levy writes an interesting article for Wired magazine's February issue called The Burden of Twitter.

He talks about the responsibility he feels to keep up with his numerous blogs, twitter posts, Facebook status updates and the like while also feeling some sense of worry that he is sharing too much of his life with people he doesn't even know.

Says Steven:

Because of time constraints and just plain reticence, I worry that I'm snatching morsels from the information food bank without making any donations. Instead of healthy, reciprocal participation, I'm flirting with parasitic voyeurism.

So, driven by guilt, I try to pitch in. I post Facebook status reports, send iPhone snapshots to Flickr, link my Netflix queue with FriendFeed. But as my participation increases, I invariably suffer another psychic downside of social networking: remorse.

The more I upload the details of my existence, even in the form of random observations and casual location updates, the more I worry about giving away too much. It's one thing to share intimacies person-to-person. But with a community? Creepy.

The point he ultimately makes is one that, I think, deserves some discourse:

We hear a lot about privacy violations by Big Brother and Little Brother. But what if the fault lies not in our siblings but in ourselves?

Interesting paradox, don't you think?

Jonny Lang At It Again

I'll let it speak for itself, but my suspicions that Jonny was going to weather his conversion well are being borne out. I'm buying it. Tuesday. Sharp.

Too bad the whole record isn't him, despite the fact that there seem to be a few other choice tracks (Robert Randolph with the Clark Sisters, to name one). I just find Jon Bon Jovi's toss in a bit of a stretch, sort of like when Black Sabbath's Ronnie James Dio recorded God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen for a Christmas compilation in '08. Although, as vocalists, I like them both.

As for Jonny, as well as Michael Macdonald--straight pentecostal jamming . . .

Oh, and click on "Listen," if you want to hear the whole song, "I Believe," featuring Jonny Lang.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Short Attention Span

I was driving with my 16 year old niece this evening, running errands, and I noticed the way she channel surfs the radio. Like, there's no possible way she knows what's playing on a given station because she may stay on a station a nano-second before moving on. Once she hears one chord of something she recognizes, then she stops and listens. But if something is not engaging her immediately, then it's time to move on.

And not only does she not listen to something long enough to even know if she'll like it, but commercials are definitely out. And tonight four or five stations were playing severe weather warnings for our area and the incessant beeping would not have caught her attention if I hadn't said something.

Now once she finds something that qualifies as "a good song", then we have to turn it up to mind numbing levels and sing along.

So what does this say about getting messages (such as the Gospel) through to today's kids? I don't know, exactly, except that it appears to me that a spoken/sung message (as on the radio) has to really stand out from all the rest or be really familiar to get a notice.

Link of the Day

Here is a cool website that lets you create a word cloud out of text you provide.

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

Monday, March 23, 2009

March Madness: Week 1

After the first day of games on Thursday night I laughed. (Humbly, of course, but still--I laughed.) Bracket host (and 90&9 staffer) Bradley McDonald was ranked below his mother, his father, and his wife. (Rumors had it that his dog was too loyal to embarrass poor Bradley by signing up.)

Now the first two rounds of March Madness have been completed and I'm not laughing (even humbly) anymore.

We've got 15 people participating in 90&9's (almost) annual NCAA pool and--unexpected as it sounds--11 people are ahead of me. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad, but that group includes my wife (10th) and my 11-year-old son who has never done this before, but now thinks he's invincible. (Rumors have it that my dog is too loyal to embarrass me by signing up.)

The Standings (with the good sports placing beneath me not included to protect their jobs and/or academic standings):

1 Kenny Chessor
2 RJ Aycock
3 Shirley McDonald
4 David Bunch
5 Caleb Curry
6 Jaime McDonald
7 Bradley McDonald
7 Marsupial Jones
9 Bobby McDonald
10 Nita Curry
11 Kimberly Rigney
12 Kent Curry

You should've signed up. It's fun!

Here's To Monday

Here's wishing everyone a happy Monday and a great rest of the week.

A day in the mind of Dave: Here's what's going on in my head today.

  • I'm making an effort to read the Bible through this year. I've selected The One Year Bible (New Living Translation). It's pretty cool because it has the daily readings all worked out. You get a little bit of OT, NT, Psalms and Proverbs each day. It's also been interesting reading this translation. Previous Bible read thru's have been King James.
  • Michael Tait will now be the Newsboys' front man on tour. Peter Furler is out. Come to think of it, their voices are pitched similarly.
  • I came across this worship artist by the name of Travis Taylor. As far as I know, he hasn't hit "the scene" which suits me just fine. He makes great worship music with a great retro sound, somewhat like Leeland with much more to say lyrically. We need to be singing his songs.
  • A new biography on John Lennon is out. I noticed it in Ireland but couldn't afford to pony up the pounds (that's currency) on something that I may or may not actually read. It showed up at the local library so I borrowed. I'll let you know how it turns out.
  • Baton Rouge got it's second, second hand book store while I was away in Ireland. This is huge, guys, this is huge. Besides the fact that the second hand book trade seems to be dying, Baton Rouge is not exactly a repository of used book dealers. As a second hand book junky, this makes me very happy indeed.
  • Here's to prayer and fasting. It seems that there has been a lot of talk on the social networks about fasting, and I even joined a fasting group on Facebook. I think it is a good thing because it's like group support for fasters or something. I've also noticed a lot of Daniel's fasts and the like, which I think is good. Maybe some would argue that it's an easy way out, but I don't think so. I think it shows that we want to get close to God and that there are ways to do that in our way-too-fast-paced society.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Strange Fire: Ramblings on Rock Music and Worship

Can music that is not intended to create an atmosphere of worship still be worship?  Can music that is meant to entertain people still be offered as a sacrifice to God?  After reading the most recent musical musings of Ms. Ahrens, I feel compelled to do a little ruminating of my own.  A well-written, thought-provoking post deserves some kind of response from those it engages, even if it is not as well-written or thought-provoking.


If all of life is worship--a concept I deeply believe--then the truest sacrifice is bringing every aspect of oneself under the authority of God.  Entertainment is certainly one area of life that needs to be given to God.  What does this mean in a practical sense?  Does it mean that we should not enjoy or participate in art or entertainment?  Does it mean that all of the entertainment/art that we enjoy should be kid-friendly?  I think the examples given in the Bible demand a more nuanced answer.


But for some reason, when it comes to music, the overwhelming AP expectation is that it create an atmosphere of worship.  The expectation, sometimes becoming as strong as a demand, is that listeners feel uplifted or feel like praising.  The idea of a Christian producing music purely for entertainment, or even music that is not kid-friendly doesn't sit well with many APs.


Sometimes the proverbially tortured artist needs to express his emotions through his guitar.  Sometimes she needs to pour her heart out in song.  And such music may not always be uplifting.  Consider the bitter and hate-filled Psalm 137, the offensively violent celebration of Moses, or the explicit and sexual love song of Solomon.  Can such powerful emotions be musically expressed by Christians today?  Is there room in the Church to receive these expressions of worship, even if they do not create an atmosphere of praise?  If so, maybe musicians will feel more comfortable giving these feelings to God through their music.


josh r

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

U2 - No Line on the Horizon

U2's new and much awaited studio album dropped last week. As you know, I've been an observer of U2 for a long time, both because of their Irish connection and their God connection (this last one is debatable, but hey, at one time there was enough evidence surrounding them that some critics accused them of being a Christian band).

I have not purchased the record, but the band is streaming it at their website so I have listened to it in it's entirety.

I couldn't really collect my thoughts and state how I felt about the album until I read what Donald Miller had to say about it. I think he sums it up pretty well.

Among the challenges he feels the band faced in making this album:

Go ahead and speak your spiritual themes, but don’t get too Christian. It’s uncool. Really uncool. Not that you care but you do. Walk the line between expressing the powerful redemptive themes in your work and translating those themes to a western audience that puts those themes in the box of absurd anti-science and judgmental condemnation. Make people who know Jesus think you’re talking about Jesus but don’t talk about Jesus. And do this with a clean conscious. And mean what you sing.

Continue to appeal to a young generation you may not understand. These kids are into technology. They Twitter and blog and have the attention span of gnats. They think you’re old because their parents like you. but they’ve got the money, so throw them a bone. The twenty-somethings are all crazy about Radiohead.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Return of the Irish Prodigal on St. Paddy's Day

There's nothing like sitting down with old friends and catching up over a nice cup of coffee. Or as it would be in Ireland, a wee cup of tea.

So, "grab a cup o' tea from yer man thar and listen because I've got some great craic for youse".

First let me say hello to everyone, and it is absolutely great to be back here at 90&9 blogging and engaging in the dialogue. The move to Northern Ireland was the experience of a lifetime, and we are so honored to have had the chance to serve the Kingdom in a foreign field

Ireland is as picturesque, as provincial, as divided, and as Irish as you've heard. There's a million little things I'd like to share over the coming weeks, but for now let me just hit on a couple of big things.

  • God poured out His Spirit in a great way, and we were able to see many lives changed by the Gospel message. Besides the thriving work in Northern Ireland, God has just opened a huge door in Dublin (literally in the center of the city).
  • Just because both cultures speak English does not guarantee good communication. The first time someone told me that the "craic" (spoken "crack") was good here I started looking around to see if anyone was stoned.
  • Sixty degrees during the day and forty at night are my idea of the perfect summer.
  • The Irish love Americans. For the most part that is. I guess every culture has the occasional numb skull.
  • Place names like Dromore, Inniskillen, Sligo, Ballemena, and Scarva are cool.
  • Never, repeat never, ask an Irishman for directions. More on this later...
  • Pray for Ireland. Just since we've been home there has been an increase in violence with the threat of more. Regardless of how political this looks in the headlines, it is spiritual. Trust me. More on this later....

So we are now home in the US trying to re-integrate into our society again. Lots of the stereotypes that other nations place on Americans are there because....we deserve them! Yeah. In Ireland you have to go looking for McDonalds and Starbucks. They don't just come to you. So we've had to get our bodies used to 6,000 calories and a milkshake all over again, among a million other subtle differences that you never notice until they are not there.

A couple of things I've found interesting lately:

  • My wife has blogged throughout the journey here.
  • Here is a great article in the Belfast Telegraph about the slang used in Northern Ireland. Scroll down below the picture to the message board. This may be totally lost on anyone who hasn't been there, but I thought it was good craic.
  • Last Sunday our High School class discussed the article Kent blogged regarding the collapse of Evangelical Christianity. My thoughts: it makes a lot of sense. People are more educated now and "because the church says so" won't do it. We've got to re-think a lot of things. And why would the church ever think "political"...see, I told you...
  • Darius Rucker has a song called "It Won't Be Like This For Long" that I heard on the nice entertainment console provided for me by Continental whilst soaring thousands of feet over the Atlantic. I cried all the way through. What little girls do to their daddies' hearts....

Okay, I guess I'm rambling now, but I assure you that I have not kissed the Blarney Stone.

Oh, and thanks for the sure was brill.

Monday, March 16, 2009

March Madness Baby!

Won't you join 90&9's March Madness brackets for fun and glory? You have to create an ID, but it's not intrusive (except to remind you to sign up again next time the NCAAs occur).

If you sign up, at least give one of your real names (first or last) & state you're from so we can share the praise w/everyone.

Here's the info:

You are invited to join my online NCAA March Madness bracket group! To accept this invitation and join the group, click the link below (or cut and paste the link into your browser's address bar). You'll be asked to enter the group's password before you can join. The group password is included below.

Our Group password is: flock

It Goes Something Like This . . .

It's been a few weeks since I've shared with you all the details of my ongoing job hunt. Basically I couldn't take any more of this ...

... so I packed up my suitcase and went to sunny (and slightly warmer) California for a week.

I got home last Thursday and prepared to start packing up my apartment to put everything in storage and move in with a friend when I had a small miracle take place. My landlord called and said he and his wife had discussed it and if it would help me out and make it so that I could stay they would lower my rent AND the company I've been working part-time for increased my hours to full-time until our project launches at the beginning of May!

So, while I'm still in desperate need of a permanent full-time job, and still may have to pack up and move in May, at least one major obstacle is no longer an issue. One small step for God, one giant leap for me!

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Collapse of Evangelical Christianity

We are on the verge--within 10 years--of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity...  Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants.  At least according to a gentleman by the name of Michael Spencer .  In an insightful and challenging (and prophetic?) article, he spells out why evangelical Christianity will fail, what to expect, and the opportunities that such a collapse will give rise to.


Why is evangelicalism doomed?  According to Spencer, it boils down to a confusion of identity and a loss of theological depth.  We have identified ourselves too closely with the culture war and political conservatism.  We teach our young people why they should be against gay marriage or abortion more than we teach them about Jesus.


We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith.


At the same time we have forgotten to teach foundational biblical principles.


Our young people... do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology, or the experience of spiritual discipline and community.


So what can we expect in the near future?  As the evangelical movement begins to dissolve, what survives will certainly change shape.  3 major points:


1. Expect evangelicalism to look more like the pragmatic, therapeutic, church-growth oriented megachurches that have defined success. Emphasis will shift from doctrine to relevance, motivation, and personal success – resulting in churches further compromised and weakened in their ability to pass on the faith.


2. Charismatic-Pentecostal Christianity will become the majority report in evangelicalism.


3. Expect a fragmented response to the culture war. Some Evangelicals will work to create their own countercultures...  Some will continue to see conservatism and Christianity through one lens... A significant number, however, may give up political engagement for a discipleship of deeper impact.


Is there any good in this?  Such a dynamic shift will provide many opportunities for a deeper Christianity.  While mega-church sentimentalists will cling to a shallow, numbers-oriented spirituality, others will choose to deepen their foundational understanding of the Gospel.  While some will try to adapt to the changing culture by emphasizing pragmatic, consumer-driven Christianity, others will follow the example of Pentecostalism and step into a more Spirit-led Christianity.


We can rejoice that in the ruins, new forms of Christian vitality and ministry will be born. I expect to see a vital and growing house church movement. This cannot help but be good for an evangelicalism that has made buildings, numbers, and paid staff its drugs for half a century.


We need new evangelicalism that learns from the past and listens more carefully to what God says about being His people in the midst of a powerful, idolatrous culture.


Change is always painful, but if we believe that God is in control then it is also a process filled with hope that He is changing us into something better.


josh r

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Battle of the (Apostolic) Social Networking Sites

It is probably fair to say that most of us have accounts on at least one social networking site, if not on two or three. Much in the same way message boards were the craze a few years back, social media networks (SMN) such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter have become a common part of our daily (and even hourly) lives.

About five or six years ago Everyone's Connected (EC) became all the rage. It was not intended to be an Apostolic networking site but within a few years it truly seemed as if EC had been taken over by Apostolics. Somewhere around a year ago (sorry if I'm fuzzy on the exact timeline) EC was actually take over/bought out by some other company who completely changed the layout, etc. and the site was abandoned en mass in favor of Everyone's Apostolic (EA) - a site created specifically for social networking among Apostolics and run by Apostolics.

However, the recent announcement by EA that they would begin charging membership fees has created an uproar (and seriously people can someone explain to me why church people always have a problem paying for something that they view as "church" related? bandwidth is ridiculously expensive and the only options are to pay for it through membership fees or allowing advertising) that has people once again abandoning ship and other enterprising folks starting their own Apostolic networking sites.

The Apostolic Report states that several sites have been developed using the same software that runs Everyone's Apostolic, including "Unashamedly Conservative Apostolics" which only allows you to join if you are 1) a conservative apostolic, 2) invited, and 3) if your pastor is also a member. If you're looking for something a bit less authoritarian there is Apostolic Fellowship Hall, which provides such features as,

the ability of users to create Blogs, add posts to Groups as well as create their own groups, add photo albums, and videos to their home page. Advertise in the classified section, create pages, post to the wire (a twitter like feature), add and share bookmarks (similar to sites such as stumble upon, digg and reddit), And post questions which other users may then answer.

You can also try "My Apostolic Network" and "Apostolics Online".

Personally, I'm all for keeping my basic EA account (which I admit is rarely used) and using Facebook for everything else. After all, within a few months there will probably be some new hot technology that will make Facebook a ghost town and I'll have to learn a new technology.

The Robots Are Coming!

In a distinctly Asimovian turn of events, the Japanese robot, Saya, has added another job title to her resumé.  Although in the past she has served as a receptionist at Tokyo University, she is now using her skills to teach elementary school students in Japan.  Those skills include speaking multiple languages, assigning set tasks to the students, calling roll, and perhaps most frighteningly, getting angry when students misbehave. 


Other robots are currently being used as traffic wardens, and one is currently being constructed that will be a companion for those who suffer from Alzheimer's.  Saya's inventor caims that robots with the physical and mental skills of a two-year-old will be available within just a few years.  Not long after that Skynet will probably achieve self-awareness.


josh r

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants

Some amazingly specific, healthy tips for eating at Taco Bell, McDonalds, and especially big winner Chick-Fil-A!

"To separate the commendable from the deplorable, we calculated the total number of calories per entrée. This gave us a snapshot of how each restaurant compared in average serving size—a key indicator of unhealthy portion distortion. Then we rewarded establishments with fruit and vegetable side-dish choices, as well as for providing whole-grain options. Finally, we penalized places for excessive amounts of trans fats and menus laden with gut-busting desserts. What we ended up with is the Eat This, Not That! Restaurant Report Card, which will show you how all of the nation’s largest eating establishments stack up nutritionally."

What I want to know is how White Castle ranked!

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Evolution of Charles Darwin


Who was Charles Darwin?  What were the events and situations that made his view so appealing? Why is he worshiped today as the father of evolution? What were Darwin's bluffs which are exposed by creationists today? What should Christians learn from the silence of Christians in Darwin's day?


Join John Martin and Gateway Christian Church of St. Louis, MO for an in-depth discussion of these questions.  John Martin has a background in zoology as well as a Master's Degree from Urshan Graduate School of Theology.  On the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth,  this promises to be a fascinating presentation!


Click here for John Martin's blog, Creation Moment.


Click here for driving directions to Gateway Christian Church.


josh r

Monday, March 02, 2009

Samson's Side of the Story

In honor of a new week and the 12 inches of snow outside my door we're going for something light and fluffy today (we'll go back to the depressing job search soon enough). Enjoy!

(find more Tim Hawkins on - formerly

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Recreation Of Sudden, Unexplained Cosmic Explosion . . .Um, Scheduled For Spring Or Something

See the diagram up there? This is an overhead, angular schematic of a seventeen-mile long supercollider, a ridiculously expensive, complex and overwrought system of tubes, tunnels and rare-earth magnets.

All to accomplish what? To re-create the big-bang.

I've touched on this before. Never once in all of the neo-Darwinist reporting of this collider's continued problems, is the sheer, penetrating irony ever pointed out; that a universe that supposedly "exploded," unaided and with no purpose emanating from a purposeful mind surely must have done so without a borderline comic, Rube-Goldberg contraption that looks like a prop-cull from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.

Granted, in recent days, particularly the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, we have seen even more hostility to the idea that Darwin's theories are nearly all incorrect. What we haven't seen yet, is equal, sneering guffaws from mainstream science for the goofy substitutions passed off as science, but in reality amount to a godless, theological claims without all that, you know, moral baggage attached to it, like the Cambrian Explosion (the explanation as to why fully-developed species are the only things one can find in the fossil record, with no intermediate precursors).

Of course my favorite of these theories comes from the late Dr. Francis Crick, a co-discoverer of DNA. First, note Crick's assessment of how life on Earth is certainly a scientific paradox:
"an honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going."
How does this supremely intelligent, rational, skeptical mind explain this? With a theory called Directed Panspermia:
proposing that these basic forms, or “life-seeds,” were deliberately spread in all directions by some advanced alien race in an effort to begin life wherever they may have landed.
Anything to to keep from looking into the face of God. Even if we have to build NASA-quality amusement parks to do it.