Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Look At My Bookshelves

I recently took a trip to a used bookstore in downtown Salem with the wife and found myself salivating at the goodies that awaited me there. I had to go home and look at my bookshelves in order to make myself purge them to make room for the aforementioned goodies. I've read maybe a third of the books I own (maybe slightly more), including a small collection of fiction, science fiction, and fantasy books on a couple of shelves. Many of these, I'm not even sure where they came from, only knowing that I've never read them. Instead of just dumping them and getting new books, I decided it might be better to plow through them and actually try to enjoy the stories they tell. This explains the couple of books on my "What I'm Reading" list that don't really fit into the usual genre.

The one I finished about a week ago is the hardback version of Dark Winter by William Dietrich. I don't know much of anything about the author, but he does a good job of capturing the cold of the South Pole as a group of scientists spend the long, eight month winter without sunlight, cut off from civilization without chance of leaving. Things start off fine, until people start dying, and blame and paranoia set in.

He does a good job describing and weaving the story, but the end, and the last half of the book, for that matter, were too predictable, as the person deserving the scrutiny (the real killer) is the one never given it. Having said that, it is a good, fast read that I'm glad I took the couple of weeks of evenings plowing through, in order to know if it is worth keeping or selling to take away chaff and add some meatier stuff to the shelves. Having read it now, I'm selling it to make way for new adventures.

More to come, as I clear off my shelves for new (to me) books.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Because I Can

Or because I want to be like Rebecca Marie, here is some photoshop art. It's not supposed to be anyone in particular. Maybe I should start taking orders for portraits.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What Is Gospel?

Upon finishing Brian McLaren's book I took a look at his bibliography and came upon another book that was sitting on my shelf that I haven't read since college. I've dug into it again and can see anew what N.T. Wright was saying, and where McLaren got a lot of his ideas from.

In both of these books, they take a look at what the gospel of Jesus really is. While McLaren's is more user-friendly, Wright's takes a more historical look at the Jewish Paul and what he was saying Jesus' message is. Here is a summation of what Wright says Paul's gospel about Jesus is.

"My proposal has been that 'the gospel' is not, for Paul, a message about 'how one gets saved', in an individual and ahistorical sense. It is a fourfold announcement about Jesus:
  1. In Jesus of Nazareth, specifically in his cross, the decisive victory has been won over all the powers of evil, including sin and death themselves.

  2. In Jesus' resurrection the New Age has dawned, inaugurating the long-awaited time when the prophecies would be fulfilled, when Israel's exile would be over, and the whole world would be addressed by the one creator God.

  3. The crucified and risen Jesus was, all along, Israel's Messiah, her representative king.

  4. Jesus was therefore also the Lord, the true king of the world, the one at whose name every knee would bow.
It is moreover, a double and dramatic announcement about God:
  1. The God of Israel is the one true God, and the pagan deities are mere idols.

  2. The God of Israel is now made known in and through Jesus himself." (p. 60)
This has made me take a look at what is important in the message Jesus was and Paul proclaimed, especially when viewed in Romans 1:
"For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes-Jews first and also Gentiles." ~ Romans 1:16 NLT
Again, Wright sums up this message:
"The gospel, Paul would have said, is not just about God's power saving people. It is God's power at work to save people." (p. 61)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

More Than Meets The Eye

In case you haven't seen this.

New Transformers Movie

Monday, July 10, 2006

A Fresh Perspective Of The Kingdom

I've recently finished Brian McLaren's newest book called The Secret Message of Jesus. He has already gotten a lot of flack from some people calling his book "gnostic", but after reading it, I gather that they haven't read it, and are simply trying to put down anything that calls them to change their outlook on what it means to follow Christ.

From what I gather, McLaren tries to show that Jesus' message was not how to "do church" or even how to "be saved" by the conventional definition, but that he came to bring a shift in how we think and live. He also tries to show that God's kingdom is among us here and now, not just a far-off, future place in heaven. He shows this in quoting Jesus' prayer quite a few times that God's kingdom is come on earth, as it is in heaven, not just in heaven. It is these Kingdom values that are important as we live our lives, not necessarily that we do what it takes to "be saved", but what it takes to follow in Jesus' footsteps, by His example, and in doing so, God establishes His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

One thing I like that McLaren says, is that one book, his book, cannot encompass the entirety of Jesus' message. He says that some things plant seeds, some water those seeds, some harvest, etc. The book is only to spark interest, intrigue, and awakening to do more study on the subject, and to display the Kingdom values on earth, here and now, not waiting until we're in heaven (whatever that means).

I suggest everyone should take a look at this book maybe even more than they should read something like Blue Like Jazz. I think this book covers some pressing issues that every person should take a deep look at in their own lives.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Fun At The ER

Early Wednesday morning around 2 or 3 AM I awoke from my sleep feeling nauseous and with chest pains. I hadn't felt pains like this before and hadn't been to the doctor in quite a few years, so to be safe, my wife and I went to the emergency room at the local hospital.

We arrived and one of the first things they asked me to do is to rate my pain on a scale of 1 to 10, which actually made me laugh, due to a comic routine of one of my favorite comedians. After a few more questions they made me go wait in a room in one of those little robes. After talking to a nurse and the doctor and showing him where the pain was, he decided that it was too high and close to my chest to be indigestion and wanted to do some tests. So in came many more people doing EKGs, chest X-rays, drawing blood, etc. They all showed up pretty good and clear of anything looking like "blood clot" or "heart attack" or something of the sort. We felt a lot better, but my wife made an appointment with our new doctor (this was the first visit) for that afternoon after she got off work.

At our meeting with the primary care physician, he told me it was probably muscular or cartilage related, with my ribs, or the cartilage between my ribs and sternum because my blood pressure and weight were too normal to be worried about blod clots or heart attacks. I had also told him I have been feeling some neck pain over the past couple of months, which led him to believe it was from straining it from strenuous activities, such as playing ultimate frisbee in the park after having done not much of anything physical in a while, and sitting and working incorrectly in front of my computer for too long every day. This made a lot more sense to me, since that's exactly what I've been doing the past few months, looking for work and doing other graphics-related work.

So now I am taking ibuprofin, taking breaks from working on the computer (or not doing it at all), and refraining from keeping my head and body in one position for too long. I have an ugly bruise from where they missed my vein the first time and my wife is tired. I also have lots I want to write about, but I should probably go do something else so my neck and chest don't start hurting again. Don't worry, I'm just fine and dandy, but it doesn't hurt to be safe than sorry.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Cell Phones Vs. Driving Drunk

Cell phone talkers as bad as drunk drivers

This is another study that says that driving while talking on the phone is worse than driving drunk. Maybe they should be giving out tickets for this. It doesn't matter how busy you are, you don't need to talk on your phone while you're driving. Before cell phones, people did just fine waiting until they got home to return a call.

This only confirms what Mythbusters did a while ago in episode 33.

Also, kids don't need cell phones, especially in class. Emergencies used to be when your parents called the office and they came and got you out of class.