Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Feel-Good Remake of... The Shining

What happens when you combine You-tube, humor and one of the great scary movies of all time? You get the remake of The Shining trailer.

**facebook users, this is a feed from my blog that has video- click HERE.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Is It Time to Make the Mac Switch?

For many of us, Mac is an unknown world. We have tasted the Kool-aid on the whole ipod thing and the itunes thing. But the Mac computer still feels a bit out there. We see the Mac users swear by their machines. We see their mouths water as once a year they watch Steve Jobs pull out another lighter, sleeker version of their favorite toys. So finally, Mac may have created something that causes me and the other 94% of computer users in the US (96% worldwide) to make the change...the macwheel!

*facebook users click here- the mac wheel!

Monday, January 19, 2009

He Saw It From The Mountaintop

Today marks one of the most significant Martin Luther King holidays ever. It falls on the eve of the inauguration of the nation's first African-American president. Troy Jackson, a friend of mine who pastors a church in Cincinnati, came out with an excellent book on Dr. King called Becoming King. The book is about King's life before he was a national figure. It chronicles his life while he was a 25 year old preacher and pastor of a church in Montgomery, Alabama. Not too long after he was there, a seamstress at a downtown apartment store boarded a bus and refused to give up her seat to a white woman. Mrs. Park's case sparked a boycott that lasted close to a year and was one of the pivotal events that thrust this young preacher onto the national stage. Troy's done the world a great service with this book that provides us a look at a very human young man who would become "King".

This past week, I have watched several of Dr. King's speeches. One of the most inspiring is his "Mountaintop Speech" where it seems he knew that his time had come to an end. The clip that I embedded into the blog only gives the closing. There are several significant passages in the speech that move me including this one about the Good Samaritan's and the Priest's response to the man in distress:

"And you know, it's possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it's possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

Good words for all of us to take to heart as we honor Dr. King today. He concludes his speech about not being afraid of anyone because he has been to the mountaintop and has seen the promised land. Of course we know that he was shot and killed the very next day. Part of me wonders if in his mind's eye what he saw from that mountaintop looked a lot like inauguration day tomorrow.

Friday, January 16, 2009

pro life versus PRO LIFE

On the weekend of Sanctity of Life Sunday, it's interesting to note the shift taking place in the way that young Christians are defining pro-life. I have seen it happening for a few years now and it seems to be gaining momentum with the recent election. These young people are expanding the definition beyond abortion. Two articles that I read this week speak to this shift.

The first is called 'Life' Movement Evolves by Tom Krattenmaker of USA Today. He writes-

Christians have taken up a fight for global good, targeting human trafficking
and the sex trade industry that tortures souls around the world. Consider this a
new face of the "pro-life" movement.

And the other one is Redefining ProLife from Skye Jethani, managing editor of Leadership. He writes,

Christians have always been pro-life. During the Roman Empire when
infanticide was rampant, it was Christians who retrieved abandoned babies from
outside the city walls to raise them as their own. But it was also the church
that gave unprecedented dignity to slaves, women, and social outcasts. Some have
even hypothesized that it was Christianity's appeal to the disenfranchised
masses that fueled its rapid expansion.

But since Roe vs. Wade, the way "pro-life" has been defined by many
evangelicals has been very narrow. It has simply meant anti-abortion. But now
that seems to be changing. Growing numbers of Christians are embracing a wider
ethic of life. Jim Wallis has called for a Christian agenda that is pro-life
"from the womb to the tomb." That means valuing people after they are born, and
not just before. It means pursuing social justice, equality, education, health
care, and human rights. It means fighting poverty and advocating for those
without a voice.

Will this redefinition take root? If so, what will this do for the "Pro-Life" movement? Will it bring more people in and strenghten the message or water it down so that it loses its focus and passion?

Whatever happens, it does seem that this conversation is a healthy one to have. Poverty and injustice are issues that all people of faith must address whether or not they are included on the pro-life agenda. By drawing added attention to these needs, the conversation might be as good as the end result.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Changing my mind about changing my mind

I just read an article in Newsweek about when scientists change their mind. Tucked away at the end of the article, the columnist throws in a little interesting finding about people's happiness and their ability to change their minds.

"Let's end on an up note. Like every other psychology researcher, Harvard's Daniel Gilbert believed that people are happier when they can change their minds. But in 2002 he and a colleague discovered that people are generally happier about irrevocable decisions: once you are locked in to a decision, you tend to focus on its positive aspects and ignore the negative ones. But if you are allowed to change your mind, you ruminate on both the positive and negative aspects of the choice, which makes you less happy. Inspired by his findings, Gilbert proposed to his girlfriend. Since the "till death" vow makes marriage an (almost)irrevocable decision, the result is that "I love my wife more than I loved my girlfriend."

The article has little to do with this study, but it really made me think. Could this be why our culture is increasingly unhappy? We are inundated with choices. We can't seem to commit to anything. Vows scare us. We like to leave our options open, in case something better comes along.

Maybe the ability to change our minds and not fully commit to anything actually creates more uncertainty which leads to more stress, more anxiety and more unhappiness.

But maybe not.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

What to do with a Forgettable Year...

2008 was a year that many would like to forget. The worst economic situation since the great depression and unemployment soaring while our retirement accounts and the value of our homes headed south. To add insult to injury, it was a leap year WITH an added second on the final day due to a slower earth rotation. It was a year that just didn't want to go away.

Ahhh, 2009. Fresh starts, new resolutions and goals.

But what do we do with 2008? It happened. It's part of us, part of our story. We cannot simply delete it. A few thoughts...

1. Celebrate what you can.

It couldn't be ALL bad. And like mom used to say "count your blessings". It might sound corny, but it's old wisdom that doesn't expire.

And really there were some amazing milestones, even collective ones that we can look back on and celebrate. It would be a mark of an ungrateful person who didn't celebrate even the small positives during the last year, even if they were all small positives.

2. Learn what you can.

The biggest downer of 2008 for most people was the financial crisis. It is no secret that part of the problem that got us to this point was our collective bad decisions on credit, consumerism and lack of savings. That's a recipe for disaster. The lessons are obvious. Consume less. Save more. A priority shift in our spending from disposable, consumable goods to long-lasting, altruistic investments will help all of us get over our hangover of excess.

The same look can be given to any bad situation we faced this last year. I looked at quite a few things that I needed to learn from. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but unless we learn from our past mistakes, we're not making any progress, just repeating bad habits.

3. Move on.

One of my favorite passages in scripture is from Philippians 3, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on..." It's a great lesson for all of us that the past is really a memory, or a collection of memories in our heads. No matter what happened in 2008, we can't stay there. Press on is Paul's way of saying "move on towards something better."

So goodbye 2008. You'll always be with us, but we will not dwell on you. We will not let your mistakes defeat us. We will take what we can to make 2009 better and we'll pack the rest of you up in a box and put you on a shelf to collect dust.

Happy new year.