Monday, May 24, 2010


(Photo by calico_13/Flickr)
[My brother called me up one night in 2007 when I happened to be working late at the office. At that point, I was a Software Quality Assurance Engineer and on this particular night that meant I was babysitting some critical jobs that were running, making sure they were completed successfully by the start of business the next day. I don't miss that part of my former career, but it was fortuitous this night. When my brother called me, I was bored. And the story he told me, which had just actually happened to him, captured my imagination. With a few hours to kill, I gave the story the creative writing treatment.  This is probably my favorite piece of my own writing. The only theological reflection I have on it is that I'm grateful for my brother's and my imaginations, and I'm grateful for interesting people in the world that we're blessed with encountering, if only we place ourselves at the ready...]

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

U.S. politics catch up to postmodernism?

From Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA 22802, USA
[Note: a different version of this post appears on my other website,]

So far I've only written about politics one other time on this blog, and that's an intentional move. I've never been too cracked up about politics as they're conceived and practiced in my home nation, the good ol' (although not that old) U.S. of A. For most of my voting life, I've been a registered independent, although had to declare an affiliation back in 2008 to participate in the interesting Iowa caucus system. Recently, I've avoided most news outlets that primarily focus on politics and that's been nice. But today, I got the bug to just peek at and read this top story: Activists seize control of politics.

So read on after the break to catch some of my thoughts on politics and more...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The world from atop the shed

From Prairie City, IA, USA
One of the things I thought of while reading through my journal a few weeks ago was to take some of my meager creative writing efforts captured there and stick them somewhere else for posterity. This thought continued to percolate as I read Donald Miller's excellent book on stories and life. So here's one of those pieces, which I wrote one February evening in 2006.

I'll classify it as a word picture and not a story. There is a character (me) but no plot. Just a description of a shed and the backyard of the house where I grew up in tiny little Prairie City, Iowa. My author self speaks to the reader (which also appears to be me) with the benefit of not being time-bound. There is a rooted period of time in the account but it shifts to the past and the future based on the full sweep of my memories as a then-26-year-old. My immediate family and a few of my childhood friends might also register some recognition by reading this. I've made only a few editorial changes from the original, so the style should be fairly true to what I was feeling four years ago, while still working on my BA in English.

So read on after the break for a short piece from the pages of my journal...

Monday, May 10, 2010

So many myths, so little time

From Harrisonburg, VA, USA
Perhaps based on the success of the show on the Discovery Channel, I've encountered a raft of books this year that are in the myth-busting business. Early on in January it was Greg Boyd's The Myth of a Christian Nation (2006), which I got a few chapters into before getting too busy with the spring semester. Boyd also recently published The Myth of a Christian Religion (2009), which sounds fascinating but I haven't looked into it. It sounds like the negative image of Brian McLaren's new book, A New Kind of Christianity (2010), which I also haven't read. Phew! All this newness and debunking of myths makes for a long reading list to a guy who gets excited about both of those endeavors.

So between my spring and summer classes this past week, I quickly read through William T. Cavanaugh's recent The Myth of Religious Violence (Oxford, 2009). It was recommended to me by my theology professor, Mark Thiessen Nation, with whom I had a number of conversations last summer while taking a course at the Summer Peacebuilding Institute called "Faith-Based Peacebuilding." Mark wasn't teaching the course but made some great contributions to my learning in it. Among the long list of authors and scholars that Cavanaugh critiques is Scott Appleby, who wrote one of the textbooks used in the course, The Ambivalence of the Sacred (2000).  With such a tight timeframe to read this considerable book of Cavanaugh's, I didn't bring my full capacities to bear, but I'm still grateful for what I was able to pick up. Read on after the break for my reflections...