Monday, March 30, 2009


I often forget that words can have real impact.

A positive recent example --- I was talking with a guy who I’ve only known for a couple weeks and he asked me what I do for a living. When I answer a question like that I’m basically in auto-pilot. I mean, I could be talking about the weather or a video game or something, it’s just small talk for me. But I forget that for the other person, religion may be something worth commenting on. I’ll say that I’m a Youth Director with kids 5th grade through college juniors, I’ll say that I’m a Seminary student (usually explaining that it’s a graduate school for Bible stuff) and I’ll get one of a few interesting responses:

1. “Oh, interesting.” And the conversation will quickly move on because the person is slightly uncomfortable with the mention of “Jesus,” “Christian,” “church,” “God,” etc.
2. The person will start dumping all kinds of stories and thoughts on me. I imagine this is similar to a low-level politician who as soon as he tells someone what he does, that person starts telling him how to fix the state, country, and the world. Or no, actually, more like a doctor who meets someone on the sidewalk and they pull up their shirt to show him some nasty rash. That’s kinda what it’s like to tell people you work in ministry --- some people take that as an open invitation to share their thoughts. And I say right on! It’s so much fun to get into conversations like that.
3. The person will start asking a lot of questions because it’s rare they’ll bump into someone who has the type of job I do. These conversations are also tons of fun, and what fascinates me is how open the person usually is to what I’m saying. If you, the blog reader, are having trouble with your evangelism --- just go enter Seminary! People you bump into will box you into a stereotype almost immediately, so you can “get away with” saying all kinds of things. People expect “pastors” to mention God every now and then. As an undergrad it was more hit and miss – there were times I had to earn credibility before I could broach the topic, whereas now it’s what I do --- people don’t feel preached at when they know I’m simply telling them where I work and what I do.

The guy I started this post talking about was the #2 type of response – he started telling me about his childhood and how he had recent questions about God. I’m uber-thankful God uses me in ways like this sometimes.

But my words don’t always build others up. >-< There are countless examples of how cruel I can be with my words, the most recent example being a fight I got into over instant messaging an old friend. Why do I hurt people the way I do? Why can’t I stop being this ugly monster of a person who does/says things that tear others down? Is it because my heart is evil? Is it because of that human struggle Paul describes in Romans 7? Sigh, intellectually I know it is. ☹ But oh man is it hard to remind myself --- to shut down all the lies and doubts I have about myself by remembering the value that God has put in me.

And in the meantime, during this process of learning as I go, I’m sorry to those I hurt. Deeply, deeply sorry.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


One of my favorite quotes of all time:

(Vivian Bearing walks on the empty stage pushing her IV pole. She is fifty, tall and very thin, barefoot, and completely bald. She wears two hospital gowns - one tied in the front and one tied in the back - a baseball cap, and a hospital ID bracelet. The house lights are at half strength. Vivian looks out at the audience, sizing them up)

Vivian: (In false familiarity, waving and nodding to the audience) Hi. How are you feeling today? Great. That's just great. (In her own professional tone) This is not my standard greeting, I assure you.
I tend toward something a little more formal, a little less inquisitive, such as, say, "Hello."
But it is the standard greeting here.
There is some debate as to the correct response to this salutation. Should one reply, "I feel good," using "feel" as a copulative to link the subject "I" to its subjective complement "good," or "I feel well," modifying with an adverb the subject's state of being?
I don't know. I am a professor of seventeenth-century poetry, specializing in the Holy Sonnets of John Donne.
So I just say, "Fine."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Nerdy thought

Okay, so you can skip this entry if you're not into computer games.

[Are those people gone now? Good.]

Now those remaining --- you can skip this entry if you're not into World of Warcraft.

[If you're still reading it means at least a small part of you embraces your nerdy/dorky side, to which I say cheers!]

I've been playing a little bit of WoW again lately and I've noticed that players will sometimes choose character types that represent their real life personality traits. Have you noticed this too? Take my main, for example; He's an undead frost mage:

It's all about control. If the frost mage uses his moves skillfully, then no one ever touches him and he takes no damage. He freezes attackers at a distance, doing high damage to single targets. Unlike fire mages (who have rampant uncontrolled damage), his damage is thoughful and can be very lethal.
When he runs out of energy (mana) he has to sit down for a while, eat, recover. But in general he can last quite a while without needing to recharge.
Mages can teleport to different locations, meaning they hop around between groups of people. If combat gets heavy they blink away, get into a safe position, and then may start doing damage from that safer location. They'll often slow someone down and run away from fighting rather than face them head on --- for this reason they're rarely defeated unless taken by complete surprise.

If you know someone who plays WoW, ask what type of character they are --- might tell you something about their personality.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

6 Reasons I absolutely love living in my new condo

1. Ministry will be done in/through this place.

I've already mentioned to many of you how the timing of this purchase has worked out just right --- and with the events He's already allowed to take place here, I feel very affirmed that this new home will enable me for better ministry.

2. Living alone.

Now don't me wrong, I still enjoy hanging out with people. In fact, I feel like there's always people over for a movie, card game, relaxing, etc. but it's the little privacies, you know? Being able to write without someone coming in to read over my shoulder, or watching a movie without a peanut gallery collecting. PLUS, if the place is messy it's my mess, and if it's clean it's my clean. Haha, that may sound like a strange benefit but it's the first time I've experienced something like this.

3. Ownership.

The first day I lived here I walked from room to room, clicking on and off light switches with a stupid grin on my face. Can you remember the first thing you bought with money you earned from your first job? That's the feeling I have on hyperspeed. Time, too --- when I rented, I kept the mindset of a renter. How much can a place feel like home if you know you're moving again in a few months? Everything was transitory, passing. But now, in this place, it feels like home.

4. Step Up.

It's a step up from my previous places. Period. Green grass, quiet neighborhood, nice balcony where I can read, etc. Instead of drug dealers and loud keggers (both my previous apartment complexes) there are people walking dogs and kids playing. A lot of this complex consists of people like me, in mid-late twenties who are post-college and early career. It all just makes sense. :-D

5. Location.

It's a block from my work/church, next door to a city park and tennis center, grocery store within walking distance, Old Town Scottsdale nearby.

6. Lifestyle.

This one's a bit harder to explain but most of you know what I mean. Living like a mid-late twenties rather than an early twenties. That's clear enough, right?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bill Murray talks about Gilda Radner

This is a beautiful story Bill Murray told about Gilda Radner (both on SNL):

"Gilda got married and went away. None of us saw her anymore. There was one good thing: Laraine (Newman) had a party one night, a great party at her house. And I ended up being the disk jockey. She just had forty-fives, and not that many, so you really had to work the music end of it. There was a collection of like the funniest people in the world at this party. Somehow Sam Kinison sticks in my brain. The whole Monty Python group was there, most of us from the show, a lot of other funny people, and Gilda. Gilda showed up and she'd already had cancer and gone into remission and then had it again, I guess. Anyway she was slim. We hadn't seen her in a long time. And she started doing, "I've got to go," and she was just going to leave, and I was like, "Going to leave?" It felt like she was going to really leave forever.
So we started carrying her around, in a way that we could only do with her. We carried her up and down the stairs, around the house, repeatedly, for a long time, until I was exhausted. Then Danny did it for awhile. Then I did it again. We just kept carrying her; we did it in teams. We kept carrying her around, but like upside down, every which way --- over your shoulder and under your arm, carrying her like luggage. And that went on for more than an hour --- maybe an hour and a half. --- just carrying her around and saying, "She's leaving! This could be it! Now come on, this could be the last time we see her. Gilda's leaving, and remember that she was very sick -- hello?"
We worked all aspects of it, but it started with just, "She's leaving, I don't know if you said goodbye to her." And we said goodbye to the same people ten, twenty times, you know.
And because these people were really funny, every person we'd drag her up to would just do like five minutes on her, with Gilda upside down in this sort of tortured position, which she absolutely loved. She was laughing so hard we could have lost her right then and there. It was just one of the best parties I've ever been to in my life. I'll always remember it. It was the last time I saw her."

*I found out my mom's official work title is "Controller." Hahahahaha.
*Discovered youtube has a ton of bloopers and inside jokes from Whose Line is it Anyways? If you're a fan of the show and have a couple minutes to spare, do a quick search and find one of the many playlists.
*I've been meaning to send out a mass e-mail about my new condo and moving, etc., but this is also finals week for me! So a Hebrew final comes before writing the e-mail, sorry.

Reading: Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski
Listening to: The Muppet Alphabet Album. And yes, it is incredible.

Monday, March 9, 2009


I didn't realize how many books I owned until I boxed them up to move: