Friday, May 26, 2006

Party Girl, Shake! Shake!

You asked for it Stephy, here it is! Bono forgets half the words! He starts taking his cue from the audience, who obviously remember the song better than he does. Funny stuff!

Here's another one you can dance to. I don't think I ever heard it before yesterday, and I have no idea why. Malachy and I have been going "Shake! Shake!" ever since we heard it!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

U2 Gems from YouTube

Found a u2 video from the year I was born! Bono's schtick is way over the top, even for him, and those pants would be illegal in most states, but this video is worth watching for The Edge alone. FYI, he's just 16 or 17 in this video!

Street Mission, 1978

If that last video explains what endeared them so quickly to the gay club scene than this one explains what endeared them to the rest of the world.

Electric Co., 1981

Monday, May 22, 2006

Blogging the Bible

Over at Slate, David Plotz (a "proud" but not "terribly observant" Jew) has committed to reading the Bible, cover to cover, and blogging about it. Check it out here.

Here's a taste for you:
God tells His newly minted man and woman that they rule over world and its creatures, including, as the King James puts it—"every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." What a superb phrase! It's perfect for insects, terrorists, and children.

Bono and Africa

NBC Nightly News has a couple of new videos worth checking out. One is Bono's "video blog" and the other one is a preview of tonight's story featuring Rick Warren's thoughts on Bono.

"He's the real deal," Warren says. "He knows what he's talking about. Bono understands what I call 'the stewardship of affluence and influence,' in that God does not give us either money or fame for our own ego. But we're to use it. It's a stewardship. And I love the way that he's leveraging the fame that he has — for good."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Happy Birthday

By the way everybody, my blog is a year old! (A year and two days, actually.) It's been a dull year, but blogging about it has been kind of diverting. Big shout out to everyone who's been around since the beginning (especially the Friar, who was the first stranger to make me feel welcome in the world of blogging.) Thanks guys!

Friday, May 19, 2006

'Debunking the Debunkers"

What would C.S. Lewis have to say about this Da Vinci business? That's the subject of Joseph Loconte's editorial in the Wall Street Journal today.

All you John Rueben fans out there...

John Rueben is having a great day over at YouTube. Click on the image to watch his tongue-in-cheek "TV Pilot."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

More Buechner

Frederick Buechner has a great little book called Peculiar Treausres: A Biblical Who's Who. Imagine a dark twist on a Sunday School primer. That's Peculiar Treasures. It goes through the characters of the Bible in alphabetical order. Here are a couple for you:

He let the Times fall to the carpet beside him. It was the usual recital - a new tax plan, the danger of oral contraceptives to women over forty, the mayor's special committee on child abuse. He pushed his glasses back on his forehead and with his thumb and forefinger massaged the loose flesh under his eyes. Through the club window he could see a woman in slacks waiting for a bus, a boy with a pony tail walking a dog. Sombody had the TV on in another room, and he could hear the rise and fall of canned laughter. He lit a cigarette and let the smoke drift out of his mouth without exhaling it. The city sky was turning brown with the approach of dusk. Then suddenly, as if it has been only yesterday, he remembered Eden.

The leopard...the starling...the rose - he rememberd giving each its name, remembered the green river, the shy, green girl. He could no longer remember why it was he had felt compelled to leave it except that it had something to do with asserting his independence. Beyond that, he had only the dim sense that somehow a terrible injustice had been done, or possibly a terrible justice.

He saw the flame of what must have been the sunset flash like a sword in the upper story windows across the street. When the old steward brought him his third martini, he called him Pete. Actually, his name was Angelo.

(Genesis 2-3)

There's something a little sad about seeing anybody for the last time, even somebody you were never particularly crazy about to begin with. Agrippa, for instance. He was the last of the Herods and after him that rather unsavory dynasty came to an end.

When Saint Paul was on his way to Rome to stand trial, King Agrippa granted him a preliminary hearing, and Paul, who was seldom at a loss for words, put up a strong defense. He described how on the road to Damascus he had come to believe Jesus was the Messiah and how all he had been doing since was trying to persuade other people to believe he was right. He said the fact the Jews were out to get him showed only that they didn't understand their own scriptures because the whole thing was right there including the prediction that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead just the way Jesus had.

After he finished, Agrippa came out with the only remark he ever made that has gone down in history. "Almost thou persuadest me to become a Christian," he said (Acts 26:28).

Almost is apt to be a sad word under the best of circumstances, and here, on the lips of the last of his line the last time you see him it has a special poignance. If only Paul had been a little more eloquent. If only Agrippa had been a little more receptive, a little braver, a little crazier. If only God weren't such a stickler for letting people make up their own minds without coercing them. But things are what they are, and almost is the closest Agrippa ever got to what might have changed his life. It's sad enough to miss the boat at all, but to miss it by inces, with a sainnt right there to hand you aboard, is sadder still.

(Acts 26:1-28 KJV)

Your dose of 'cute' for the day

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mem-Ories, Like the Corners of My Mind ~sniffle, sniffle~

Found this video at Google video. Looks like it's from the recording of Student Impact's CD, Alive. That was so much fun. We did a two night concert and brought in Richie Biggs (Newsboys, Switchfoot) and it was mixed down in the tunnel under the stage...and didn't Mitch throw up? Or was that another night? Anyway, it was awesome, and the CD was named one of the ten best worship albums by CT magazine, so I think some of the awesome-ness came through. This is My Glorious by delirious, and at the tail end you can hear the band go into Revelation 19. Hopefully whoever is posting this stuff will put that one up next!

Willow Creek Community Church in the News

  • Willow Creek and Gene Appel are featured briefly in the Today Show story called 'DaVinci Code' Critics See Bright Side. I couldn't figure out how to link directly to it so if you want to watch you have to scroll down and look for the video bearing that title. There is also a video called Church Split over the 'Da Vinci Code.' No Willow Creek, but I guess it's alright. ;)

Willow Creek, like many evangelical churches around the country, is in the midst of running a multiweek series of Bible studies based on "Da Vinci." The first two Sunday services in the series drew more than 44,000 people [combined attendance], church spokeswoman Cally Parkinson said.

"There's a huge response to this thing, and churches are really seeing this as an opportunity to turn what has wrought so much ill, for good," Strobel said. "There is a segment that wants to boycott, picket and protest. But I turn to Paul in Acts 17, who comes to Athens where [the people] are idol worshipping, and he's pissed off and wants to smash the idols. But instead, he engages them.

"[St. Paul] quotes their books to them! He's read their books! He'd seen their movies, so to speak, and he's speaking their language. So he reasoned with them and used it as a bridge to bring them the gospel. So that's what I'm hoping people do."

The evangelical Christian community's passion for movies is of a recent vintage, said Mark Noll, co-founder of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College, who is widely considered the leading historian of American evangelicals.

Since the massive success of "The Passion of the Christ" -- based in no small part on the support it received from evangelical Christians -- evangelical Christian billionaire Philip Anschutz's "family-oriented" film company, Walden Media, had a smashing success with "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," which it co-produced with Disney.

"The Polar Express," "Gods and Generals" and, most recently, "Flight 93," all have been marketed toward an evangelical audience.

"By way of a long historical comparison, there certainly is just an assumption that it's appropriate to be active in this medium, or about this medium, and that certainly wasn't there before," Noll said.

As recently as the 1950s, most evangelical Christians were decidedly anti-movies, he said. Wheaton College, an evangelical institution, only has allowed its students to watch movies since the late 1960s.

Read the rest of the article here.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Are Women the Enemy of the Church?

That was the topic of discussion at church this week, three weeks into our four week series discussing the themes of The Da Vinci Code. Gene Appel did an amazing job. When it comes to discussing gender issues - whether it be in marriage or in ministry - nobody beats Gene Appel.

To read Willow Creek's statement on Women and Men in Ministry click here.

One of the highlights of the service was when all the women prayed together:

May we be women who acknowledge our power to change, and grow, and be radically alive for God.

May we be healers of wounds and righters of wrongs.

May we weep with those who weep and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

May we cherish children, embrace the elderly, and empower the poor.

May we pray deeply and teach wisely.

May we be strong and gentle leaders.

May we sing songs of joy and talk down fear.

May we never hestiate to let passion push us, conviction compel us, and righteous anger energize us.

May we strike fear into all that is unjust and evil in the world.

May we dismantle abusive systems and silence lies with truth.

May we shine like stars in a darkened generation.

May we overflow with goodness in the name of God and by the power of Jesus. And in that name, and by that power, may we change the world.

Dear God, please make us dangerous women, Amen.

(From Nice Girls Don't Change the World by Lynne Hybels.)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Another Napping Cat Painting

I don't have any work to show for this week so I'm posting another oldy. This is watercolor, about 9"x11".

Saddleback Struggles to Bridge the Divide Between Evangelicals and American AIDS Victims

Joe Garofoli of The San Francisco Chronicle reports;
Now, with the apologies offered and the buzz faded from an HIV conference that Saddleback hosted for 1,700 Christian pastors in December, two-time cancer survivor Kay Warren is tackling the grunt work behind the promises made that day. And Rick Warren has taken a supportive backseat.
In many ways, she said, it has been easier to help people with HIV in Africa -- because other evangelicals have been trying to make inroads there for a couple of years -- than to reach out to those just a few miles away. She has found herself caught in the middle of the nation's widening cultural gap between conservative Christians and nonevangelicals.

Fellow evangelicals are upset with her frank discussions of sexuality and advocacy of condom use. On the other end, some secular HIV care providers are wary of Saddleback's motives.

Fleming [program manager for Orange County's HIV Planning and Coordination office] suggested that there probably wouldn't be much resistance from skeptical HIV care providers if Saddleback volunteers wanted to do things like stock food pantries, where they would be less likely to be in contact with people with HIV.

Warren said Saddleback members are willing to stock shelves, but she doesn't want church members to be isolated from people with HIV. The point of Saddleback's HIV ministry -- or Care Teams, as the church calls them -- to is to interact with the sick and their families at their time of need, and literally hold their hands.

This is a terrific article - it covers everything from Warren's PEACE plan to some of the tension within the church over the issues of sexuality. Check it out here.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Heads Up

The Today Show interviewed Garry Poole and Gene Appel at church today for a segment they are doing on The DaVinci Code. It's supposed to air tomorrow between 7 and 8.

Fun with YouTube

Malachy and I have a new pass time - looking for entertaining videos on YouTube.

Malachy's favorite is the bike riding dog.

I found these and these of Willow events. Most of them look like pirated video casts of old conferences. It's quite a blast from the past to see Joe, Curt, Matt, Scott and Vonda and of course the old auditorium.

The one that gets me going is this one.
It's the very typical, familiar version of You Are Worthy of My Praise...until these two dudes step up and start jammin' their brains out. Especially the guy in white, his moves would shame a man half his age!

Willow Creek Community Church in the News

'Da Vinci Code' Now a Tool to Win Christian Converts:
Some churches think book and new film are offering a perfect chance for Bible lessons
by Stephanie Simon of the Los Angeles Times.

Though angry [about the errors in the book], Christian leaders say they have nothing to gain by organizing pickets outside movie theaters. That would make them look closed-minded and defensive, when what they really need to counter the power of the film is "a very positive, wholesome, winsome" response, said Josh McDowell, a Christian writer and evangelist in Richardson, Texas.

Besides, "it's probably going to be an awesome movie," said Garry Poole, a pastor at Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago. Poole drew 22,000 to a sermon about "The Da Vinci Code" last month. He hopes that those who came for the sport of hearing a minister take on a bestseller will return this Sunday for another round. Over time, he hopes they will find truth and comfort in the church and develop an abiding faith.

(Garry Poole has not actually delivered any messages in this series yet, I don't know if he will or not, but he was the co-author with Lee Strobel of Cracking The Da Vinci Code.)
In recent years, evangelical pastors have shied away from such dense sermons, preferring to preach practical self-help messages instead. "The Da Vinci Code" has prompted a renewed interest in basic theology — to many scholars' delight.

Simon picks up on one of Strobel's points - that the evangelical community as a whole is not up to snuff on it's history and theology lessons. Hopefully this will help pastors and laymen alike see the value of a basic, working knowledge of these subjects.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Brian McLaren on The Da Vinci Code

Sojourners sent out an email this week in which Brian McLaren gives his take on The Da Vinci Code. Rather than jump into the already crowded waters churning around the numerous factual errors in the book, McLaren asks the important question - why? Why do people want to believe that Brown is right about this stuff? Strobel, two weekends ago, speculated that it is an easy out, an excuse not to have to make a decision about Christ's claims. I think that is only one possibility. Here is what McLaren had to say:

What do you think the popularity of The Da Vinci Code reveals about pop culture attitudes toward Christianity and the church?

Brian McLaren: I think a lot of people have read the book, not just as a popular page-turner but also as an experience in shared frustration with status-quo, male-dominated, power-oriented, cover-up-prone organized Christian religion. We need to ask ourselves why the vision of Jesus hinted at in Dan Brown's book is more interesting, attractive, and intriguing to these people than the standard vision of Jesus they hear about in church. Why would so many people be disappointed to find that Brown's version of Jesus has been largely discredited as fanciful and inaccurate, leaving only the church's conventional version? Is it possible that, even though Brown's fictional version misleads in many ways, it at least serves to open up the possibility that the church's conventional version of Jesus may not do him justice?

So you think The Da Vinci Code taps into dissatisfaction with Jesus as we know him?

McLaren: For all the flaws of Brown's book, I think what he's doing is suggesting that the dominant religious institutions have created their own caricature of Jesus. And I think people have a sense that that's true. It's my honest feeling that anyone trying to share their faith in America today has to realize that the Religious Right has polluted the air. The name "Jesus" and the word "Christianity" are associated with something judgmental, hostile, hypocritical, angry, negative, defensive, anti-homosexual, etc. Many of our churches, even though they feel they represent the truth, actually are upholding something that's distorted and false.

I also think that the whole issue of male domination is huge and that Brown's suggestion that the real Jesus was not as misogynist or anti-woman as the Christian religion often has been is very attractive. Brown's book is about exposing hypocrisy and cover-up in organized religion, and it is exposing organized religion's grasping for power. Again, there's something in that that people resonate with in the age of pedophilia scandals, televangelists, and religious political alliances. As a follower of Jesus I resonate with their concerns as well.

If you agree with Barbara Nicolosi's statement that "The debate is all on hell's terms... You don't debate the Devil. You do not give evil the authority to question God" then McLaren's tone might strike you as indulgent. But what McLaren seems to get and Nicolosi has missed is that it isn't the devil asking the questions, it is our neighbors, our co-workers, and our family members.

Monday, May 08, 2006


Hi folks, how's everybody doing? Don't have anything interesting to talk about but I hate going more than a couple of days without a blog post so I thought I'd just ramble on for a few paragraphs and post that. So here goes...

Beautiful weather here in Chicagoland. Steph and Mark got some yard work done this weekend and, while we are still pretty sorry looking compared to our neighbors, we are no longer the house on the block that screams "white trash" when you drive by. Now it's the guy three doors down. Yipee!

The DaVinci Code series continued this week at church. The music was much the same as last week (awesome) the drama was much more appropriate (about doubt) but the message wasn't quite as solid. The good points were all there but they were delivered in a much less straightforward and serious tone. Which some people might have liked, I don't know. It was about the gospels and you can find great video clips about the gospels at

Speaking of The DaVinci Code...I've kind of stalled now that Langdon and Sophie have run into Leigh and he keeps mentioning the "gospels" found in the Dead Sea Scrolls! What a doofus. Every Joe and Jane with the Discovery channel on their TV knows that the Dead Sea Scrolls belonged to a Jewish sect and contained no gospels.

I watched an unholy amount of TV last week. A lot of it was depressing but the worst was definately Desperate Housewives last night. What a miserable episode! It was like they set out to make each of the characters as ugly and pathetic as possible. Who wants to watch that? Grey's Anatomy, on the other hand, is winning me over. Not as good as say, House or Lost, but better than I first gave it credit for. Dr. Grey's "you can't call me a whore" speech...somebody give that girl an emmy!

I woke up this morning in no pain. I thought, either I've been healed me in my sleep or I'm getting a cold. Since the pain is back now I guess it means I'm getting a cold. I don't know why, but my FMS symptoms tend to ease up at the onset of an illness. Hey, whatever works!

Okay, that's it for now. Steph and I are going grocery shopping this afternoon and then I want to try to get some painting done. Take care!

Friday, May 05, 2006

May 5 - "The Gospel World" from Listening to Your Life

Like the fiary-tale world, the world of the Gospel is a world of darkness, and many of the great scenes take place at night. The child is born at night. He had his first meal in the dark at his mother's breast, and he had his last meal in the dark too, the blinds drawn and everybody straining to catch the first sound of heavy footsteps on the stair, the first glint of steel in the shadowy doorway. In the garden he could hardly see the face that leaned forward to kiss him, and from the sixth hour to the ninth hour the sun went out like a match so he died in the same darkness that he was born in and rose in it, too, or almost dark, the sun just barely up as it was just barely up again when only a few feet offshore, as they were hauling their empty nets in over the gunnels, they saw him once more standing there barefoot in the sand near the flickering garnets of a charcoal fire.

In the world of the fair tale, the wicked sisters are dressed as if for a Palm Beach wedding, and in the world of the Gospel it is the killjoys, the phonies, the nitpickers, the holier-than-thous, the loveless and cheerless and irrelevant who more often than not wear the fancy clothes and go riding around in sleek little European jobs marked Pharisee, Corps Diplomatique, Legislature, Clergy. It is the ravening wolves who wear sheep's clothing. And the good ones, the potentially good anyway, the ones who stand a chance of being saved by God because they know they don't stand a chance of being saved by anybody else? They go around looking like the town whore, the village drunk, the crook from the IRS, because that is who they are. When Jesus is asked who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven, he reaches into the crowd and pulls out a child with a cheek full of bubble gum and eyes full of whatever a child's eyes are full of and says unless you can become like that, don't bother to ask.

-Frederick Buechner

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Original Lemon Still Life

Have I ever posted this one? It was my first still life and it's based on the same photo as the acrylic underpainting I posted a few days ago. I've often looked at it and wished I could do this differently and that differently, so now I get the chance (see earlier post). Unfortuantely, my first go with the oil over the acrylic underpainting didn't go well. I think it might be because I use cheap paints and my yellows just don't have any umph. As soon as I add any thinner or another pigment my yellow just vanishes. It may be time to buy some better paint.

Monday, May 01, 2006

DaVinci Code at Willow Creek Community Church

Last week we started the weekend series on The DaVinci Code. Not many series offer such rich inspiration to the various types of artists that put together a program. Gothic arches, faux stained glass windows, renaissance art, classical music... it was like walking into a different church this weekend.

The result was a very cohesive and mesmerizing program. The music, performed by a whole bunch of strings with a couple of electric guitars and some big bad percussion was the perfect blend of lovely and creepy.!
Even the announcement graphics that cycle before the service had the "look" going, with little messages and images hidden in DaVinci paintings. But I think my favorite had to be the bulletin, which featured DaVinci-ied versions of Todd's adorable hoola hoop girl

Then of course there was Lee Strobel's message. It was titled "Do The Winners Write History?" Folks were just riveted. You don't often hear spontaneous applause in the middle of history lectures, which was what this was, most of the time.

At Lee Strobel's website you can see videos covering the subjects we will be discussing at church over the course of this series. Here is one that answers the question "Was Christ just a holy man who was later declared God by the Council of Nicea in the year 325AD in order to increase the authority of the emperor Constantine?"

Strobel has a ton of fascinating video clips discussing just about every religious question you can imagine at his website. (Include some Ben Witherington just for you Friar!)