Others Thoughts On Thanksgiving

I’ve tried a couple times in the past years to reflect on Thanksgiving, this time I didn’t really know what to say. I’ll leave you with a couple articles I’ve read that I found encouraging.

My only thought this thanksgiving is that I’m going to try and eat a proper amount for myself. Not too much. If there is any way that I could start this holiday season properly it’s to avoid gluttony and keep in mind so many in the world who don’t have enough.

Youtubesday: Camilo, Louis CK, and Dancing Honey Bees

Some how ended up with this sweet song in our itunes, the lyrics sounded good so I looked up more info, here’s a great music video of the song, Camilo, by State Radio, about Camilo Ernesto Mejía

A funny comedian, Louis CK, on Conan discussing modern conveniences

And if stand-up isn’t your thing, you’ll definitely enjoy this BEE-Boy Video, seriously, watch this now.

(the website is actually about the disappearing Honey bee population, it’s sponsored by an ice cream company, but it’s at least a worthy topic)

Finally, Another Blog Redesign

Well, I had nothing in the brain to write for this week, zero posts lined up, so I went ahead and redesigned the whole website. I’ve been working on a few design projects and it inspired me to clean this site up as well. I’m hoping to utilize images a bit more as you’ll see if you go to the home page. Maybe this clean new design will entice some of you email and rss voyeurs to stop by every once in a while.

I think I kept the old design up for almost two years, which is impressive by my standards. I managed to write rather then procrastinate by dabbling in the look of the site. Hopefully this new look will remain for a few years to come as well.

I still have to clean up the sidebar and some of the other features of the site, but all web projects are always in progress. So that’s it for now, nothing fancy, just a note to say stop by and see what you think of the new look. (my secret wish is that this amazing new redesign will push my readership over 300… tell your friends)

Book Review: Terrorism and War by Howard Zinn

https://tryingtofollow.com/wp-content/linkedimages/upload//images/14990000/14994502.JPGI just read through Terrorism and War by Howard Zinn, and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to hear a brilliant mind on the current issues of war and terror. The whole book is just over one hundred pages and it’s in an interview format, as it basically is a compilation of a series of interviews Zinn gave around 2002, just after 9/11 and the Afghanistan war and just before the Iraq war. Zinn is a truly brilliant mind and I feel makes a decent case that war is simply not a useful tool anymore, period.

Some Quotes…

“I think there is a simple test of what concerns bin Laden, whether it is our democracy and internal freedom or whether it’s our foreign policy. And that simple test is: What side was Osama bin Laden on before 1990? That is, before the United States stationed troops in Saudi Arabia, made war against Iraq, and began its sanctions against Iraq. We were just as democratic and libertarian internally before 1990 as we are today. But Osama bin Laden was not offended by that. He was on our side — and we were on his side — in the fight to take control of the government in Afghanistan. The turning point for Osama bin Laden is very clear. It has nothing to do with democracy and liberty. It has to do with U.S. foreign policy. And that turning point came in 1990 and 1991.” p. 13

Speaking of alternatives to war…

The question always comes up about World War II: “What would you have done?” The answer is not an easy one, but it has to start off by saying, “I would not accept a solution that involves mass killing. I would try to find some other way.” The other way is not passivity; the other way is not acceptance; the other way is resistance without war. The other way is underground movements, strikes, general strikes, noncompliance. Even Hitler, in World War II, was at times successfully resisted in Denmark, in Norway, in Germany itself, by wives protesting the deportation of their Jewish husbands. Those methods of resistance don’t ensure a peaceful resolution, because the repressive forces are always strong. But they are means that are more proportional to the end, especially since they are means that are engaged in not by governments but by people, which is a very important consideration. With popular resistance, you have a greater assurance that your end will be attained than if governments are in charge. p. 23-24

On why he doesn’t call himself a pacifist…

I have never used the word “pacifist” to describe myself, because it suggests something absolute, and I am suspicious of absolutes. I want to leave openings for unpredictable possibilities. There might be situations (and even such strong pacifists as Gandhi and Martin Luther King believed this) when a small, focused act of violence against a monstrous, immediate evil would be justified. p. 25

A tidbit that was noted in the book:

According to an article in the Boston Review, “up to 35 million people-90 percent civilians-have been killed in 170 wars since the end of World War II. (Boston Review 24, no. 1, Gabriel Kolko, Century of War: Politics, Conflict, and Society Since 1914)

And I’ll finish with a final quote from the book, of Dwight Eisenhower, our 34th President:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

Random Thursdays

If I could figure out a way to smash random (or some other word) and Thursday together I’d make this a regular weekly posting just like YouTubesdays… Bonus points for someone who thinks of something creative.

Anyways, I do want to share a collection of things I’ve been posting over at On The Journey. Maybe this is just another lame attempt to convince you to subscribe. If you do subscribe you can expect a collection like the one below in your inbox daily, or your RSS reader…

The Kingdom Jesus established is anarchistic in that it recognizes God alone as the arche (supreme power). It thus lives free from all other powers (an-arche [anarchy] means without authority). Governments are part of the fallen, oppressed world system that has been done away with in Christ.  –Greg Boyd

Hate is easy; Love takes courage(via inyourcar)

What if we took all our money and possessions and gave them all to God & had to ask to use them. Would we spend money the same way? -Keane

He also began to suspect, since he was so much busier than anybody else, that he was the leader.” -Kurt Vonnegat, p. 41, Slaughter House Five (via. Keane’s Notebooks)

Before you contradict an old man, my fair friend, you should endeavor to understand him.
-George Santayana (via megaphonic)

No Matter What People Tell You…

But there will be a few renegades and other out-of-step people who will be given eyes to perceive the kingdom. They will listen to the homeless leader who owned one change of clothes, didn’t budget to pay his taxes, and was an affront to self-respecting, responsible believers. -Robert Lupton

Margaret Atwood

Somethings different. (via mudpuppy and www.patrickmoberg.com)

Somethings different. (via mudpuppy and www.patrickmoberg.com)

odds of dying from…

I don’t know the key to success but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.  -Bill Cosby

“Pablo” by Sir X (via. jkleske)

So, have you subscribed yet?

Watch Out! Here Come The Holidays!

https://tryingtofollow.com/wp-content/linkedimages/upload//files/images/DSC_8565.thumbnail.jpgAs I’ve mused in previous years, this is often a difficult time of year for me. As Thanksgiving comes and goes and the holidays roll upon us, I find my values confronted in all sorts of awkward ways. While most of our country spends the last month or so of the year merrily spending and giving all with good cheer, I grumpily mumble to myself about my inability to live out my convictions amidst this mass of Santas. This year though, I’m gonna start earlier. I had some regrets in past years and I’m hoping to try and begin addressing those by being more active this year regarding my convictions. And it starts with this brief post on some of the ways I intend to do that.

  • Mention Buy Nothing Day and Encourage Others To Participate – The day after Thanksgiving begins this insane buying frenzy. Buy Nothing Day is simply an opportunity to refuse to join the consumerism train and creatively oppose it. Last year my brother and I thought about doing something but we passed, maybe this year will actually try it…
  • Make a List – As much as I try and avoid it, there are people who will buy me things and there are actually things I would like to have. Making a list, a modest one, will give the opportunity to fulfill both their need to give and a few of my wants. Look I just started one (don’t you go and get me everything now).
  • Speak up Politely and Informatively about Consumerism – With a little prep work (remembering statistics, avoiding harsh criticism) I think I could carry on a good casual conversation about the issues of consumerism and Christianity that impact my views about the holiday season. There’s even a cool video about it (cool videos convey so much more then my incessant rambling).
  • Start Thinking about Gifts to Give Others and Make Some – In my Scroogish attitude I tend to overlook even the opportunity to be creative in my giving to others. I’ve done a cool thing or two in the past, but this is really an opportunity to show others you care, so I’ll take some time and be creative.

I think that’s a decent start for now. I’d really like to figure out how to begin to teach my daughter that this season is about giving to others, just like every day and month and year of our lives. For now, it’s all about baby steps.

YouTubesday: Worshipping the Consumerism Gods

So, even with the economy the way it is, consumer season is just around the corner. I’m always late at addressing this, and then tend to be hesitant to rain on people’s parade. Therefore, I’m trying to get an early start on addressing the consumerism’s bit. Here’s to great videos to start us off.

Advent Conspiracy is a great initiative to encourage churches to spend the holiday seasoning give rather then buying. This is a great promo.

The Story of Stuff has been around a little while, but now is a good time to watch it a fresh. Go check out the whole video and website at The Story of Stuff, or watch the video (Chapter by Chapter) below.

Christians and Homosexuals: Love’m or Hate’m?

https://tryingtofollow.com/wp-content/linkedimages/upload//photos-ak-snc1/v373/133/18/63914286/n63914286_35019757_7844.jpgI attended a rally downtown speaking out against Prop 8 that passed in California on Nov. 4th. I carried a sign that said “I’m a Christian Against Christians Hating and Oppressing Others.” It has been my experience, that regardless of the motivation or intent of Christians who take strong stances against same-sex marriage, the perception (and I’m afraid it is often an accurate one) is that Christians hate and want to oppress people who practice homosexuality. And so I went, if only to let those at the event know, that not all Christians feel that way. I was glad to be there.

In dialogging with others about the event, I fleshed out some thoughts that I thought I’d share here. I already posted my views on prop 8 and other same-sex marriage bans here. These are additional thoughts, I’d like to hear your thoughts as well regarding this issue and topic.

Regarding why I protested a bill that was voted in by a state majority:

As you well know, just because the majority of people believe something, doesn’t make it right.
And while I agree it might be a decent way to choose nation’s leaders, I don’t believe Christians voting against allowing a secular government to grant legal rights to committed same-sex couples is an appropriate Christian response.
Voting means the …  Read Moremajority of the people who voted agree or disagree with what’s voted on, it is not necessarily a moral compass. I encourage you to stand up as a voice in opposition to injustices when you see them. I encourage you to come along side people who have been oppressed and hated (and this in the name of Christ) and show the what true Christ-like sacrificial love looks like.

Regarding whether I think Christians who voted for Prop 8 are hateful and oppressive:

I believe there are Christians that with no hate or ill intent voted against same-sex marriage, I’m not out to judge the motives of those individuals.
Rather, I’d challenge you to ask every homosexual person you know, who will answer you honestly, if they have ever felt themselves at the receiving end of hate from Christians. I have yet to meet a person who does not have multiple stories that one can only describe as hatred (but don’t take my word for it, ask individuals yourself).
As to the oppression, I think my answer would be similar to above.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

Book Review: Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott

https://tryingtofollow.com/wp-content/linkedimages/upload//images/I/51TXV4QK5RL.jpgIf you’ve had a baby or are going to have a baby then Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott is a must read. It’s a journal of the first year of her son’s life and a true to life parenting story to balance all the “Parenting in Three Easy Steps” types of books.

I won’t bore you with my consistent praise for Lamott, I’ve read a ton of her books this year and have loved every single one. She’s so true to life and makes you recognize the beauty in the little things.

Instead of raving about it I’ll leave you with some quotes and excerpts from the book (Some long, cause I was a huge fan). I’ll start with a couple whole sections:

Have I mentioned how much I hate expressing milk? I do it nearly every day so there will be bottles of milk on hand for whoever comes by to take care of Sam, but I hate the fucking breast pump. It’s the ultimate bovine humiliation, and it hurts, the suction is so strong. You feel plugged into a medieval milking machine that turns your poor little gumdrop nipples into purple slugs with the texture of rhinoceros hide. You sit there furtively pumping away, producing nebbishy little sprays on the side of the pump bottle until finally you’ve got half a cup of milk and nipples six inches long. It’s so incredibly unsexy and secretive, definitely not something you could ever mention on “Wheel of Fortune,” nothing you’d ever find in a Costoo piece about ten ways to turn on your lover — crotchless underpants and a breast pump. I sit there in the kitchen miserably pumping away, feeling like Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby, pumping out a bottle of milk for the little infant Antichrist. Yesterday the refrigerator wasn’t working, so after I produced a small bottle of breast milk, I had to store it in a wide-mouth thermos filled with ice, like it was a severed finger that I was about to rush to the hospital to have sewn back on. It was too ridiculous for words.

And another…

“Last night I decided that it is totally nuts to believe in Christ, that it is every bit as crazy as being a Scientologist or a Jehovah’s Witness. Then something truly amazing happened. A man from church showed up at our front door, smiling and waving to me and Sam, and I went to let him in. He is… named Gordon, fiftyish, married to our associate pastor, and after exchanging pleasantries he said, ‘Margaret and I wanted to do something for you and the baby. So what I want to ask is, what if a fairy appeared on your doorstep and said that he or she would do any favor for you at all, anything you wanted around the house that you felt too exhausted to do by yourself and too ashamed to ask anyone else to help you with?”

‘I can’t even say,’ I said. ‘It’s too horrible.’

“But he finally convinced me to tell him, and I said it would be to clean the bathroom, and he ended up spending an hour scrubbing the bathtub and toilet and sink. I sat on the couch while he worked, watching TV, feeling vaguely guilty and nursing Sam to sleep. But it made me feel sure of Christ again, of that kind of love. This, a man scrubbing a new mother’s bathtub, is what Jesus means to me.”

She has this great line about apologizing to her son for saying mean things about guys.

“I nursed him for a long time tonight. He’s so beautiful it can make me teary. I told him I was sorry for thinking such sexist stuff about his people.”

And this last story is just a touching example of God’s love.

There’s a woman named Anne who took her two-year-old child up to Tahoe during the summer. There stayed in rented condominium by the lake. And of course, it’s such a hotbed of gambling that all the rooms are equipped with those curtains and shades that block out every speck of light so you can stay up all night in the casinos and then sleep all morning. One afternoon she put the baby to bed in his playpen in one of those rooms, in the pitch dark, and went to do some work.

A few minutes later she heard her baby knocking on the door from inside the room, and she got up, knowing he’d crawled out of his playpen. She went to put him down again, but when she got to the door, she found he’d locked it. He had somehow managed to push the little button on the doorknob. He was calling to her, “Mommy, Mommy, and Anne was saying to him, “Jiggle the door knob, darling,” and of course he couldn’t even see the knob to know what she was talking about. After a moment, it became clear to him that his mother could not open the door, and panic set in. He began sobbing. So Anne, his mother ran around like crazy trying everything possible, like trying to get the door to work, calling the rental agency where she left a message on the machine, calling the manager of the condominium where she left another message and running back to check in with her son every minute or so. And there in the dark, this terrified little child. Finally she did the only thing she could, which was to slide her fingers underneath the door, where there were a few centimeters of space. She kept telling him over and over to bend down and find her fingers.And somehow he did. So they stayed like that for a really long time – connected, on the floor, him holding her fingers in the dark. He stopped crying…

I keep thinking of that story, how much it feels like I’m the two-year-old in the dark and God is the mother and I don’t speak the language. She could break down the door if that struck her as being the best way, and ride off with me on her charger. But instead, via my friends and my church and my shabby faith, I can just hold onto her fingers underneath the door. It isn’t enough; and it is.

My Random Stuff Stream

So, I started a separate blog for random stuff. I used to try and do asides on here but they didn’t work how I wanted them to. Instead I moved it here, On The Journey. It’s just everything, completely random. You can subscribe via email and get a once a day update, or you can use the RSS feed. There isn’t comments or anything, just a stream of random. Some links, but mostly images, quotes and occasional videos.

I’ve also filtered into my facebook notes, not sure if it’s a good idea yet, we’ll see. Everyone really liked this image:


I’ll even give you the chance to subscribe via email below.

Enter your email address:

Anyways, I just wanted to plug that site since I’m taking the time to do it. It’s more like my random notebook I guess.