June 27, 2003 On "Suburban Spirituality"

See the essay at http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/007/1.30.html

The cover story of this month's Christianity Today caught my eye- Suburban Spirituality. "What a curious notion", I thought. Is spirituality something that can be relegated to place? In a sense, the sacredness of space is something that can aid in focusing our minds on the good, the true and the beautiful. But to limit ourselves by allowing place to dictate our relationship with God is surely what Jesus spoke against in his discourse with the Samaritan woman at the well. But that's not what the essay is about.

Quoting mystics, sociologists, and literary figures , David Goetz wends his way through a description of the foibles of suburban life as he lives and views it. I could not begin to relate even though I live in suburbia myself. I was amazed at the disconnect I felt from the lifestyle that was described, and wondered if there was anything authentically Christian about life in the burbs as he portrayed it.

We hear of experience in the "poky" little church and learn that genuine spiritual progress doesn't happen without a long-term attachment to a poky local church. While I am against flightiness, the cure is developing a true servant spirit that does not look to the church for "feeding" the soul. I think the case is overstated when the author contends "but the maddening frustration that prompts someone to leave one church for another may be the precise thing that holds great potential for spiritual progress‹if one stays."

I agree that the places where God has built the most spiritual "muscle" in my life have been in places of spiritual resistance.But there are many reasons for leaving a local church for another more Biblical one. I won't ennumerate them here. Flightiness is an indicator that one is not there for the right reasons to start with and that mentality smells like smoke and is from the pit of hell.



At one juncture, the author likens the fly fishing discipline of "mending" to spiritual discipline.

The author describes the notion of dead drift:

"Mending is one of the key activities in effective fly-fishing. The current, uneven across any given stretch of river, pulls the line unevenly, eventually pulling at the fly under the water. The fly-fisher must periodically flip only the line that lies on the surface (tossing it either forward or back, depending on how the line bows), thus creating slack so the fly beneath can continue to ride naturally with the current. The better one is at mending, the better the results.

Mending may be a key image for spiritual development in the suburbs, to "experience the depths of Jesus Christ," as the classic work by Jeanne Guyon, the 17th-century Christian mystic, put it. The trick for the lover of God is to learn how to become better at mending one's life, to make small adjustments on a regular basis in order to avoid the speed and clutter of modern living."

There is a fundamental flaw in this illustration. Fly fishing is ultimately an activity of deception. The successful fly fisherman attempts to master and utilize the accoutrements of the sport to mimic the natural action of a real fly in order to fool the fish into accepting the fake as real. the fly fisherman strives for imitation, not authenticity. Indeed many in the church of suburbia have mastered the nuances of the suburban spirituality around them so effectively that they DO have a well developed spirituality- but does that really have anything to do with Jesus? I am not ultimately interested in either spirituality ir religion. The scriptures reveal the alternative- living, moving and breathing In Christ in whatsoever you do- eating, drinking, working...



Press on...


The title of the article promised answers to offer solutions to the problems of suburban spirituality but ends up recouinting the symptoms without offering anything practical. It remains abstract as revelaed below:

"A spiritual life lived well is a life lived in the thickness‹in the space beyond and including the three-dimensional form of the moment. But it's this fatness or richness of life that we often obviate by striving to advance in our career, move to the bigger house, get our student a soccer scholarship, make sure our kids get in the tag program. "The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments," Abraham Heschel writes in The Sabbath. "[I]t is not a thing that lends significance to a moment; it is a moment that lends significance to things." "

No, it is not. the only goal is to be conformed to the likeness of Christ apprehending the reality that we are crucified In Him- in the mundane as well ans in the transcendental. Evacuation is not the answer- immersion amd incarnation is. And that will make you look very different than what Goetz is decribing in the essay.



Eugene Petersen's 1999 take on the letter Jesus might write to modern suburban Christians was more helpful than the current article.


He recommends a solution- immerse yourself in the OT prophets to help wend yourself away from the oppressive secular culture that defines so many lives of those who name the name of Christ.

June 27, 2003 Doings today

In honor of the birthday of Bob Keeshan we turned on the annoying doorbell sound thingy on our office door that plays what for all the world sounds like the first bars of the Captain Kangaroo theme. Read the guy's bio- a pretty amazing resume, I'd say.

The theme is from the original by British composer Edward White. Get the straight dope here. Wonder if the doorbell makers paid their royalties?

"This is a great chicken, a friendly chicken, a chicken that is ready for a relationship," No, it's not the San Diego Chicken or Foghorn Leghorn. Find out more.

Other big news: the national do not call list is online- but try getting in to it- it is swamped and I couldn't connect after several tries even as early as 6 AM this morning...If they'd charge ten bucks a head for processing we could eliminate the national debt.

OK you're ready now for some Cow Carnage at Fling the Cow.

In my day it was Killer Tomatoes. Now it's Nuclear Rabbits.

Get your picture taken with Jesus. (Autograph extra)
June 25, 2003 What Evel Knievel is up to these days... and other esoterica...

Baby Jumping

Frankfurter Converters

June 25, 2003 The Virtual Vatican Museum is now online

    The Vatican Museums went online Tuesday (June 24), making some of the world's most important art works available for the first time to users of desktop and laptop computers, palm pilots and mobile telephones.

The new Web site, reached through the Vatican's main Internet address of www.vatican.va, offers virtual visits to the Sistine Chapel and five other sections of the museums with commentary and pertinent biblical quotations in English, Italian, French, Spanish and German.

Comment: The Vatican site is pretty but it sure is a pain to navigate- maybe it's intended to put flesh to Romans 5:3   "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4   And patience, experience; and experience, hope: " Maybe Jakob Nielsen can help. And see his article,In the Future, We'll All Be Harry Potter. There. I did it- mentioned Harry and the Pope in the same sentence.

Neilsen sees in Potter the wave of the future: Rather than being solid and static, objects will embody initiative and activity. This is precisely the shift we'll experience as computational power moves beyond the desktop into everyday objects.

Check the article for some examples of agency in Harry Potter's objects, and how we'll achieve similar powers in the future:

*Digitally enhanced images from LaserLight shows...

The Future is Fun!

June 25, 2003 Some Presbyterians: Jesus is True, But Not Necessary for Salvation
Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service

Nearly three-quarters of Presbyterians believe that the "absolute truth for humankind is in Jesus Christ," but fewer than half say that only Christians will be saved, according to a new church survey. The periodic poll of members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) found that 70 percent of members, 75 percent of elders, 71 percent of pastors and 55 percent of specialized clergy (such as chaplains) agreed that the "only absolute truth for humankind is in Jesus Christ." When asked if "only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved," 43 percent of parishioners, 50 percent of elders, 39 percent of clergy and 24 percent of specialized clergy agreed. The nature and role of Jesus in salvation has divided the church in recent years. A furor erupted in 2001 when one pastor rhetorically asked, "So, what's the big deal about Jesus?" and suggested there may be other avenues for salvation. A statement passed by the church's 2001 General Assembly affirmed salvation through Jesus but remained silent on the destiny of non-Christians. "Although we do not know the limits of God's grace and pray for the salvation of those who may come to know Christ, for us the assurance of salvation is found only in confessing Christ and trusting Him alone," the resolution said. In other findings, two-thirds of members and 80 percent of pastors and elders believe that "Jesus will return to earth some day," and 86 percent of members and 96 percent of pastors believe in life after death. While 93 percent of parishioners believe in heaven, only 78 percent believe in hell.

And just to give Lutherans their slice of the pie...

We sit in the pew where we always sit,
And we do not shout Amen.
And if anyone yells or waves their hands,
They’re not invited back again.
We’ve got chow mein noodles on tuna hotdish
And Jello with cottage cheese,
And chocolate bars and banana cream pie,
No wonder we’re on our knees.
This is the church where we sing Amen
At the end of every song.
The coffee pot is always on
Cause the meetings are three hours long

Garrison Keillor from "Lutheran Till I Die"

June 24, 2003 The Next Killer App

Check this link out.

The prominence of weblogs anticipates a larger revolution in the world of higher education, as Mary Harrsch notes in her Tools feature. For "bloggers," reaching an audience of peers is no longer a matter of putting a Web page in a digital bottle, crossing one's fingers, and casting it in the chaotic ocean of cyberspace. Thanks to advances in syndication technology, these writers can now have their daily thoughts and insights directly distributed as news feeds to other sites. Harrsch explains how RSS (rich site summary or "really simple syndication") makes this possible. Weblog application programs insert RSS tags, which are simple derivatives of the XML programming language, within the code of logged Web content; this format enables other users to incorporate such content within the template of their own virtual newspapers. By allowing multiple, dynamic currents of information to be periodically monitored at a single site, RSS syndication promotes the timely exchange of current research, insights, and best practices among educators throughout the globe. If you've been looking for the new "killer app," Harrsch suggests, you need to look no further.

The Holy Spirit and Praise

One point of clarification came to mind as I was reviewing a conversation in my mind. In the context of the conversation I threw my two cents in, in regard to an expressed concern over some song lyrics that mentioned, “praise the Holy Spirit”. Upon reflection, wading in on such a weighty topic in such an offhanded way was probably unwise and may have been worth exactly two cents. I’m not sure anything was gained and may have given an unbalanced view on my way of determining a way to navigate such issues.

I’ve encountered the discussion on several occasions and it is noteworthy that there is an unhealthy disregard in the church at large for the subordinated role the Holy Spirit enjoys in the Godhead. I am somewhat uncomfortable in directing praise directly to the Spirit but rather through Him to the Glory of the Triune GOD. Indeed in many services the Holy Spirit is mentioned time and again and the name of Jesus is ignored. I am pretty sure this grieves the Holy Spirit, as it is His nature that the Father and Son be glorified. But it is also wrong to think of the persons of the Godhead as separate beings. This separation of the Holy Spirit in some Charismatic churches has been one of the reasons for of Oneness Theology and the resurgence of modalism.
But that is a feeling not necessarily based on the witness of scripture. Here’s what I think for what it’s worth: I don’t dogmatically know. But I will venture to offer some thoughts along these lines. What follows does not demand a response- I know your time is occupied with other things.

It is easy to state that ultimately, after all, the Holy Spirit IS God. I won’t take time to argue for the deity of all three persons of the Trinity, since that is a given. However some of the verses that show us thae deity of the Holy Spirit may offers some clues to the current question. Holy Spirit is Eternal (Ps. 139:7-10; Omnipresent- Luke 1:35;Omnipotent- 1 Cor 2:10-11, John 14:26,16:13. Creation, impartation of life and authorship of prophecy are ascribed to the Holy Spirit. He is eternal-Hebrews 9:14.

An argument might go: “If God is worthy of Worship then the Holy Spirit is worthy of worship.” So in one sense it's a no-brainer. However the issue is not so simple, since the work of the Holy Spirit requires that He draw attention to, illuminates and teaches us of God. His work is to glorify Christ (John 7:18) The subordination of the Spirit is a present reality. However this subordination does not necessarily mean we are to rob Him of the love that is due. He IS the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ.

I would argue that His present role does not abrogate His nature and His nature is praiseworthy. Indeed, the Son is subordinated to the Father but in Matt 14:33, 28:9, Luke 24:52 Jesus receives worship even before His glorification and ascension. Jesus prays that the Father glorify Him with the glory He shared from eternity. The work of Christ did not preclude him from receiving praise. God is a trinity of persons, three hypostases in one ousia, all of whom are rightly to be regarded as deity or God.Some other verses to ponder-

Matthew 4:10 "Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'
Equality in the Godhead requires equal worship. Each Person in the Godhead is entitled to worship, and we are commanded to worship the eternal Three. "Worship the Lord your God."

Isaiah 6:3 "And one cried to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!'

Here’s an example of triune worship that confirms direct worship to the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The seraphim own separately and worship distinctly the eternal Three. Note that Isaiah 6:8 reveals counsel in the Godhead, "Who will go for US?" Therefore it is perfectly clear that the threefold "holy" was ascribed to the blessed Trinity. Isaiah 6:9 of this chapter, is attributed in Acts 28:25,26 by the Apostle, to the Holy Spirit. It leaves no doubt that the Holy Spirit received direct worship from the seraphim.
Psalms 95:6 "Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker."

That the Triune God was our Maker according to Genesis 1:26. The third Person in the Godhead, equally with the Father and Son, is our Maker. (Job 33:4; Psalm 33:6 ).

In a negative sense Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit and the same lie was a lie to God (Acts 5:3-5). I know of at least one place where the Holy Spirit seems to speak as if He personally received not worship but grumblings from the people.

Exodus 16: 7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, for He hears your grumblings against the LORD; and what are we, that you grumble against us?"

compare with

Psalm 95:8 Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
As in the day of Massah in the wilderness,
9 "When your fathers tested Me,
They tried Me, though they had seen My work.
10 "For forty years I loathed that generation,
And said they are a people who err in their heart,
And they do not know My ways.
11 "Therefore I swore in My anger,
Truly they shall not enter into My rest."

And then Hebrews 3
7 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says,
AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS. Ezekiel 37:9 "Also He said to me, Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live."

Here, I think a case can be made that this is a Biblical example of direct request to the Holy Spirit. We have another such example in Song of Solomon 4:16, metaphorically requesting the breath of life of the Holy Spirit.
John 16:13 "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come."

I like the NASB better:

John 16: 13 "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

I could use your help with the Greek on this one- I audited a Greek course at SMU (figured that was one thing they couldn’t mess up too badly!) and am mostly self taught- enough of a command to use my Kittel.

This verse has been interpreted to mean that the Spirit does not speak of Himself - so the believer should not be occupied with the Spirit either-But does the verse say that? Seems to me the verse means that the Holy Spirit does not speak from Himself, that is, independently of the Father and the Son. As the Son came to serve the Father, so the Spirit is here to serve the Son. This verse speaks of the administrative position of the Spirit. In a similar way Jesus says
John 12:49 "For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak."
It is significant that there is no Scripture to forbid worship or direct address to the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 28:19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,"

The Spirit is equally worshipped and surrendered to and revered, along with the Father and the Son in the act of baptism. It would seem from this example that we can render worship to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit loves us (Romans 15:30 ). Nowhere are we forbidden to love Him in return.

Remember Numbers 6:24-26 is invoking the blessing of the three Persons in the Godhead. (Revelation 1:4,6 ).

Note that the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:5, and in 2 Corinthians 3:17, is designated "Lord". We have the highest authority for the direct request of, and worship of the Holy Spirit.

My bottom line? Subordination is a negative word in our culture, but not Biblically- the worth of the subordinate one is not less that the one subordinated to.

I think therefore that the relationship of the two persons does not demand we deny the Holy Spirit ‘s worthiness to be praised. And ascribing worth to One who is worthy is a just and righteousness thing. It is the most right thing we can do.


So then does the subordinate roles of Christ and the Spirit to the Father necessarily impact how we EXPRESS and DECLARE our praise? If you come to any conclusion, please let me know.

June 23, 2003 God of the Details

No matter how big and no matter how small
Our God is concerned cause he’s God over all
He has the hairs numbered on your head
He’s God on the battlefields or in your bed

There are lessons to learn from the mundane
Just as surely as he makes his presence plain
And no matter the circumstance or the need
Call out to him and he’ll intercede

For nothing befalls you that is not allowed
He sifts circumstances for hearts that are bowed
For nothing befalls you that out of control
And do not fit into his ultimate goal

God of the details, of wherefores and whys
God of the details show us how to be wise
God of the details please open our eyes
To show us that right now counts forever



There is nothing so small it escapes God’s view
So what ever you think and whatever you do
The small things transform and a holy life make
Do all to His glory and for His name’s sake

written May 23, 2003

This is from an assemblage series I did in Memphis. More of these on the way this one is called "Path"

Click for larger version

June 23, 2003 We're Baack!
And the skunks are history!

One of my jobs I was not particularly looking forward to on my trip to see my Mom was to get rid of 4 skunks (not skinks) that have moved in to a brush pile. Gratefully the turkey vultures were at work on the course du jour when I got here- an answered prayer...God takes care of me. That'll make a good "praise" to share this week!

Vulture wins WWF Smackdown!

Origami Vulture- at least the REAL ones fly away when they are done eating.

Origami Skunk- much nicer than real thing.

The Wound that Heals

Had an encounter with a healing poison this past week- My dermatologist has been trating a wart on my index finger that had been interfering with my guitar artistry :-) Anyway the liquid nitrogen hadn't sufficed in three tries so he went with Blister Beetle juice instead. (Guess it's the heel that wounds:-))

Blister Beetles are soft-bodied, usually black or brown, mostly elongate and cylindrical beetles belonging to the family Meloidae. Blister beetles are common insects found feeding on the flowers and foliage of various plants. One group of blister beetles has body fluids that contain cantharadin, a substance that can cause the skin to blister, from which the family gets its name.

So with a little cantharidin painted on it I received a nice big blister/burn within minutes and it almost totally removed the wart over the next week. That made me think of the processes of pain and healing- that sometimes we must cause pain to heal problems- like a surgeon wielding a scalpel, he makes the incision to remove a cancer, An orthopedist may need to break a misshapen bone for it to set properly. In God's economy, short term sacrifice is most often needed to insure long term gain. Actually that notion attains even in fallen economies.

Cantharidin is also known as Spanish Fly of folkloric fame and it is a poison. .03 grams can kill a man. That gives us an idea how depraved men can be- to poison themselves for the sake of self gratification.

It also made me wonder how marvelous God's works are- Can anyone tell me how such a creature could possibly evolve? Only God's unique creation could yield a creature that carries in its own body such a toxin that destroys tissue so quickly that it causes a bird that tries to eat it to drop it within milliseconds thus securing its survival.

And...the Wounds that Heal

The House of Israel lived safely within its portals when death passed over the land. they were hiding behind the blood of the Lamb. So you too hide yourselves in the wounds of Christ.

Look on the Lamb and consider:

* On the Head of the Lamb are wounds that heal your minds in the heavenly joy of repentance. Learn to think with a new mind about God and yourself by contemplating the wounds of his head.
* In His hands are the wounds that heal the works of your hands, making them fruitful again in the service of God.
* In those feet are the wounds that heal your straying path so that you may walk with your Lord.
* On that back are the stripes that heal all your wounds of self-inflicted flagellation or the blows you receive from the world.
* And from the side of the Lamb, where the spear was rammed deeply into his heart, there flows the mystery of the love of God.

It's been said that the only man made thing in heaven are the scars on the glorified body of Christ.

Now for something a little different...

Remember the cahracter in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory named Veruca- my dermatologist reminded me that her name means wart.

You can see which Willy Wonka character you are by taking the quiz at http://lax.gaz.nu/wonka/


I'm one of the movies few nice characters. I'm compassionate, caring, and not selfish or greedy. I am Charlie Bucket! My fate: I inherit the factory and all of the Oompa Loompas from Mr. Wonka. And live happily ever after.


Went to drop off a video I rented at the Shop'n'Save and noticed an article posted by the camera/film department about the virtues of printing your digital photos.They were making the case that so much of the history of the space age is lost due to the evolution of file formats, and problems with incompatibility between software and hardware. Here's an article that echoes the concern. The external links there are particularly interesting. So I think I will print our my blog each week.

Just as I have a hard copy of all my songs, I have written, I am not getting rid of my library, no sir, no matter how many trees I kill in the process.

Don't get me wrong- I like the searchability of so much of what I have and indexing existing hard copies is a lifesaver. So I will go with a both/and approach and disseminate the family archives etc to others in hopes of preserving the past....and the future.

June 21, 2003 More Harry Wildness

I didn't make it to Borders or anywhere else to pick up a copy of the latest Harry Potter offering. I'll wait until the crowds die down as Iwon't be reading much this week anyway.

In the interim, The Door has a readable article this month on Pottermania and also a parody chapter from "Harry Potter in the Lake of Fire" It was inevitable.

From the personal weblog of Anthony Foster @http://anthonyfoster.com/blog/