Category Archives: Blog

On friendly chit-chat and inspiration

Last Thursday, I had the chance to sit down and chill for a couple hours with Derek Webb. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of Derek Webb, probably one of my favorite musicians. I’m a lyric guy and Webb’s lyrics on his last few albums have resonated with my heart and faith more then any other (and the music isn’t bad either).

My wife and I went to the concert Thursday evening, ran into a couple from our church there, and then (thanks to the wives smooth talking) wound up eating chips & salsa and onions rings at the Kitty Kat Club with Derek Webb after the show. We talked about life, kids, and our ironically red, white and blue chips. All in all, it was just a great time getting to know some new friends.

It reminded me of a brief visit I took to The Simple Way several years back. Many people know of Shane Claiborne and The Simple Way nowadays, since Irresistible Revolution came out. Before that, I’d read about Claiborne and the wall street money drop and had connected with him when he visited our college. And I wanted to go see what this magical community they had going on out there in Philly.

My brother and I went for a quick visit and Shane showed us around the place, took us on the roof where they were growing plants in old appliances, in the basement where they gathered clothes to give away and the modest bedrooms where 5 people where living. What quickly set in though, was that it was not magical at all. It was a handful of people, normal people, just trying to live out their faith. I came home from the trip eager to build that sort of sharing and community into our own lives. And we did.

It took only a few minutes of conversation to realize Derek is just a normal person with a normal life too. Not every line that comes out of his mouth is “I’m trading comfort for human life and that’s not just murder it’s suicide.” He tweets, hangs out with his kids, plays music, and says controversial things sometimes. And a couple hours hanging out moved him out of the celebrity category (which is a good thing).

I was reminded of two things. One, I don’t need to try and say something controversial or brilliant all the time. As the audience on this blog grows, I feel a growing pressure to impress, but I don’t need to. It’s okay to be normal. Two, celebrity or not, we’re all on a journey. I don’t have any fantasies of becoming BFF with Derek Webb, but I am reminded that we daily have the opportunity to enter into others lives and I’m inspired to find others nearby to walk along that journey with.

“My friend did you know you are my brother”

I Will Pay You To Eat Chocolate

Yes, you heard it right folks, step right up; come one, come all; I’m gonna pay you to eat chocolate. Do I have your attention now? Good. I’d like to embark on a bit of an experiment with five other willing participants. I’d like to encourage others to eat chocolate in the same way I have. A few years ago, I decided to start eating Fair-trade chocolate. To put it bluntly, I was bothered by the idea of purchasing products that were harvest by children in slavery. I’d like to encourage others to make the switch to fair-trade chocolate and today, I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

Here are the specifics:

  • I will take five participants (the pockets are only so deep). In the event that we have more then five interested, my wife will decide whose in and whose out. This is intended for people I know personally, but anyone is welcome to inquire.
  • I will pay for the difference between what you would normally purchase in conventional chocolate and the cost of switching to a fair trade option (up to $20 a month). For example, let’s say you typically by 3 chocolate bars a week at $1 a piece (total $12 a month). Instead you commit to buying fair trade chocolate bars at $2 a piece (total $24 a month). I will give you the difference, $12, to make that switch.
  • This will mean doing less impulse buying (vending machines or checkout lines) and planning ahead a little (ordering online or visiting a local co-op to stock up).
  • I’ll check in each month to discuss how much you spent. I will ask for you to track it. The goal isn’t to abuse my generosity, but to provide an incentive for others to make the switch to Fair-trade.
  • I plan on continuing the experiment for 6 months.
  • If you participate you will need to commit to purchasing and eating/drinking only fair-trade chocolate during the 6 months.

So, how does that sound? Interested in joining me in this little experiment?

Fill out the form.

Need more info on the Chocolate industry?

Professional Sports: Another Opiate for the Masses

I’ll start by saying, I watched the Vikings game last night and I was into it. I’ve watched a few games this season, urged on by the throngs of die-hard vikings fans around me, and some old nostalgia toward Favre.  That being said, I haven’t been able to watch a sports event recently without this line from Noam Chomsky coming to mind regarding professional sports:

“It offers people something to pay attention to, that’s of no importance. That keeps them from worrying about things that matter to their lives that they might have some idea of doing something about.”

Now, I’ll be the first to say, I’m not immune to the draw, the entertainment and excitement involved in watching, or playing, a good game. I just finished reading a biography about Major Taylor, a black cyclist in 1900, and the most interesting thing about it was this competitive drive and spectacle of the race. I say all that to say, I don’t make this statement from the other side pointing my finger, rather I’m asking you to think through this with me.

Q: Does the media, professional sports and entertainment news, distract us from the important issues?

Infographic Discussion: Healthcare

Once a week I’d like to post an image or infographic, without much commentary from myself, in hopes of evoking some discussion. I post lots of the random images and graphics and things I come across on my tumblr, but that’s not as conducive to discussion. I’ve seen this thing called “Wordless Wednesday” around the blogosphere, but I’ll probably be posting things with words usually. So, without further ado, here’s the first open discussion…
(From National Geographic, click to enlarge)

2009 Year in Review

No good blog would be complete without a year end review (or year beginning, I guess). Probably the best way to jump back on the blogging bandwagon is to reflect on where I’ve been the past year. Mid-2009 saw my blogging taper off quite a bit, but not before we had a few great discussions. Here’s a quick list of the Most Commented Posts (written in 2009, starting with most commented):

The blog also saw the launch and ruminations of many of the different things I’ve been doing this year:

Finally, here are some interesting stats about the year, and compared to previous years on the blog:

postsperyearI wrote just 121 posts this year, significantly less then previous years (most of those before June).

commentsperyearThere was also less commenting (940 comments), though on a post:comment ratio it was the best year,  averaging 7.7 comments per post (you .7 commenters know who you are).

Looking Toward 2010

So, what do you have to look forward to in 2010? Regular posting at least. I’m shooting for one thoughtful post a week (less thoughtful ones on an “as needed” basis). I’m also hoping to read 30 books this year, a more modest goal then 52 books in 2008, but also more practical with two toddlers running the house.

Your 2010 Resolution

The only thing I’d ask in return is that one of your 2010 resolutions be to stop by and comment more. If I only post once a week or so, can you resolve to stop by and add your thoughts a couple times a month? It’ll be a growing experience for both of us. I’d love to hear what your other 2010 Resolutions are, so stop by and leave a comment.

I never intended to quit (Don’t worry, I’m not)

I never intended to completely stop blogging, though the sporadic posting and long absences the last few months might indicate such. I just planned on slowing down, and I have, but somewhere along the way I’ve lost my rhythm too. I used to, and I intend to continue, journal my thoughts on any subject that would pass through my mind. As blogging gained momentum, it became the primary avenue for that flow of thought, and when I cut back a little, I found my consistency in writing disappeared. I don’t intend the next few weeks to be any better, but I wanted to assure you I haven’t quit (and I’m not dead).

That said, I figured I’d give a brief update about what’s been happening around here. I have been fairly productive the last couple months, here’s a rundown in no particular order:

  • Got our bike shop up and running.
  • Petitioned Wheaton College (my alma mater)  to think seriously about it’s choice for it’s next president, particularly as it relates to diversity.
  • Was published a few places.
  • Worked on a handful of website projects.
  • Ran a “Best of the Northside” contest on InsideNorthside (800 Fans on Facebook)
  • Was hired as a “community reporter” working with northside non-profit organizations (details still being worked out, but I’ll let you know more when I know).
  • Got a YW membership, enjoying the pool.
  • Got a piano, so glad we did because my wife is an amazing piano player.

I’m sure there’s more just can’t think of it at the moment. This has been a bit of a rambling post, so I’ll stop now. Enjoy.