Thursday, December 28, 2006

about Saddam

The Vatican joined Human Rights Watch today in calling for clemency for Saddam, saying that executing him would simply be responding to crime with more crime. I suspect there's not really much chance this will have any effect, and that come jan 31 2007, saddam hussein will be dead.

As I understand it, average evangelicals believe he will experience "eternal conscious torment" in hell. George Macdonald would argue that he'll eventually repent and get out of hell. I haven't read Brian Mclaren's latest book, but it is my understanding that he would argue against the eternal consious torment position.

I wonder what the average Muslim belief is as to Saddam's experiences after death?

I honestly wonder how *anyone* can ascribe to the eternal consious suffering position and at the same time claim to experience communion and love for and with and from god.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Quote of the week

This from Byron's post Fearless Service III. For me, it captured perfectly and instantly what it feels like to be human

We are all dying, giving birth astride a grave.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Blog Tag

I've been tagged in a game of blog tag by Helen Middenhall of Love is the Most Excellent Way (although I know her from conversation at the edge, which is closed for a week for the holidays). The way the game works is if you get tagged, you have to post five things about yourself that people probably don't know. Here's my five.

1. I used to spend time playing the guitar and singing, and even wrote some songs quite a while ago.

2. I was the acting associate manager of a domino's pizza store for a little over a year back in the 90's, and we were held up at gun point and all bound with duct tape. Fortunately, no one got hurt. They never found the bad guys or the money.

3. I have a 4.0 grade point average over my most recent 60 credits (I can hardly believe it). I'm expanding my undergrad degree from bachelor of arts in psychology to bachelor of arts in psychology and international studies.

4. My favorite type of schoolwork is mathematics--I find it beautiful and orderly and it just works really well for me.

5. I've travelled to 25 countries in my (still relatively short) lifetime.

(I'm tagging Jim at Doable Evangelism, Jonathan at The Nautical File, Paul at People Against Fundamentalism, Banzai at The Banzai Chronicles, R at Dragons Fly and Monkey Tea, Megan at Bag End and Justin at Ramblin' Again)

Stop the execution of Saddam Hussein!

Human Rights Watch today called for Iraq to reverse it's decision to execute Saddam Hussien (scheduled to be implemented in less than a month). Rick Dicker, director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch, was quoted as saying

Imposing the death penalty, indefensible in any case, is especially wrong after such unfair proceedings. That a judicial decision was first announced by Iraq’s national security advisor underlines the political interference that marred Saddam Hussein’s trial.

This seems to me to be a case where Christians could try to take steps to stop something which their founder also stopped at least once! Jesus words about the death penalty, if I remember correctly, run along the lines of the idea that we should only execute someone if we ourselves are free of guilt.

Moreover, would you want to be executed after a mockery of a trial like the one Mr. Hussein underwent?

Your thoughts?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

update on wayne and calvary fellowship mountlake terrace

Two weeks ago I posted here about my experience with a charity working party from Calvary Fellowship Mountlake Terrace and Pastor Wayne. In that post, I complained a little about ... proselytization by Wayne.
So I wanted to continue the story. Helen at CatE suggested emailing Wayne and just letting him know that I had felt a little uncomfortable with his multiple invitations to his church in spite of my repeated rebuttals. So I did. And then a very strange thing happened. Wayne emailed back this totally normal, humble reply in which he apologized. I was kind of astounded, as most of my experience with "Christian leaders" has been that they aren't about to apologize for coming on too strongly. Thankyou Wayne. You rock.
So as it turns out, my best friend Walter, who originally invited me to the work party, also invited me to go with him and his wife to the Christmas Eve service at Calvary Fellowship. And since I didn't really have any better options, being home alone and all, I decided to go. Just kind of a way of staying out of trouble, if nothing else...although that doesn't really work, since I generally don't like the tenor of my own thoughts when I am sitting in a Sunday Morning Church® service, which this more or less was.
There was, however, an incident which made me like Wayne even more. Before the service, I went up to say "Hey". And he said "Hey", and "How's it going--good to see you again." And I said "fairly ######--my wife and children are on a beach in Port Macquarie right now, while I rot in this dark cold raining lonely hell". So anyway, a man and a lady came up to us, and Wayne knew the man, and he asked him "So, is this your mother?" And the man said "nope, it's my girlfriend". Oops. So after they moved on, I told Wayne how that had happened to me at Megan's cousin's wedding, when I turned around and asked Aunt Meredith (who is, by the way, one of the most delightful people I've ever met) if John, who is actually her brother, and who was sitting next to her, was her son? Like "So is John your son?" Oops. Poor Megan turned six shades of pink. And then I told Wayne how I had gone afterwards and apologized, and lovely Meredith had been fine with it. And here's the kewlest thing. Wayne picked right up on that, which I hadn't at all intended, and he said "That's a great idea--I'm going to go apologize right now." Very kewl.

Alas, I should have known better about going to the Christmas Eve service. As is usual, my thoughts were mostly negative and confused. Some things that bothered/confused me:

1. They sang a bunch of Christmas carols with lyrics that just didn't work for me. The lyrics talked about Jesus being the savior, his glory over the whole earth, his causing oppresion to end, the wonder and beauty of experiencing his love and joy all around the world, and so forth. You know--typical Christmas hymns. Meanwhile, I was sitting there thinking that 25000 children will die today from starvation. Most of the people sitting in that service probably spent upwards of $1000 on Christmas presents, which would buy ... for instance, needed antiretroviral medications for 17 HIV positive children in the developing world for all of next year. Where is all the love, joy, peace, salvation, glory, etc which Jesus is supposed to have brought? When millions (yes, millions!) of children have HIV/AIDS? When 25000 children die every day from starvation? When armed conflict is the modus operandi of international relations? When .... well, clearly I could go on. Name your poison. I tend to always experience this oversized disconnect when I sit in Sunday Morning Church® services. It's a big part of why I almost never go to them anymore. Pastor Wayne asked god to bless and protect us as we do our family celebrations and partake of our feasts tomorrow. Mainstream christianity is no longer counter cultural--it's become this completey bastardized mezcla of Jesus/the gospels/the bible and typical culture within our country--so that it is fairly easy to be a christian and pursue the "American Dream", which of course, implies the "Developing World Nightmare".
stepping off soap box now. See. This is why I just shouldn't (there I go, shoulding on myself) attend Sunday Morning Church® services. It accomplishes nothing good, and actually creates a lot of negative vibes.

Christmas eve video

I really like Sarah McLachlan's voice, and this song, although it doesn't quite acccurately describe my situation, very much captures my feelings this christmas eve. E'joy.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


I honestly can't decide if the only thing worse than being in las vegas is playing blackjack all night at EQC, or if the only thing worse than playing blackjack all night at EQC is being in las vegas.

U.S. Worst ... uh, that is, West Airlines cancelled my lovely 9AM flight out of Las Vegas on this past Monday morning because their stupid plane almost never made it out of calgary earlier because of mechanical problems. The stupid ... bitch (I hope I got this right. Megan's always reminding me: guys are ########, and women are bitches--cause I tend to get confused as to which word goes with which gender...) behind the counter for U.S. Worst was the worst. Here's my reconstruction of our conversation:

Benjamin: So do I at least get a $200 voucher for future travel since I'm having to stay in this city for another FIVE hours?!?

Lady: (with attitude) No! We have the right to cancel your flight and get you out on another flight the same day! No one else is getting a voucher! Why do you think you should get a voucher?!? We're giving you this (piece of crap almost worthless) $5 food voucher for the airport (which *doesn't* cover alcohol, so it's really basically useless!) so you can get some food while you wait (for FIVE FREAKING hours!).

Benjamin: God I hate this city. This city is such a hellhole of a place. There's no place I'd rather not be more. (now did I get that double negative right? reminds me of a funny I saw in a book at University Bookstore a couple months ago. It was in the form of statment and response:
Statement: There are lots of instances in the English language where a double negative equals a positive, but there are no known instances where a double positive equals a negative. .......

Response: Yeah, right
(am I allowed to jump up and down levels like this? I mean they do it in Arabian Nights, but whoever wrote that is probably a better writer than me))

Lady: (with more attitude (not that I don't have some attitude)) Well, we're from this city, and we think it's a very nice city, and I'd prefer it if you'd just keep your opinion to yourself!

Benjamin: Well, I guess it could be worse. We could be stuck in Bagdad or Tiajuana. Although at this point Tiajuana doesn't really seem all that bad....

Thankyou for letting me rant. I don't know anyone from Las Vegas at all. I can't imagine any scenario where a person could both be reasonably intelligent AND like Las Vegas.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday Video: Pachelbel Rant

Today's video comes via Helen's Conversation at the Edge, one of my very favorite blogs. Actually, I stole the idea of Friday Videos from Helen. Her web site is a place for fascinating conversation between Christians and atheists. Thankyou Helen!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

dragon virgin birth and self pity

In the news today: In a process called parthenogenosis, a female Komodo Dragon at the London Zoo has fertilized herself and is expected to give birth on or around Christmas Day, having never had sex with a male Komodo Dragon--a solstice virgin dragon birth. This process has been seen in smaller reptiles before, but never in these largest of reptiles. For a slide show of our very own Seattle Woodland Park Zoo Komodo Dragons, click here. Aren't they gorgeous?

So I am feeling rather sorry for myself, all alone at Christmas time, and the faith group which I would have like to attend tonite, Monkfish Abbey, is not meeting because some of them, including the abbess, are participating in the Fremont Arts Council Winter Solstice Feast. Poor poor poor poor poor poor me. Maybe I can find some nice fundamentalist kool aid or some polonium 210 somewhere.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A time for everything

My friend Eva preached one of the most brilliant sermons I've ever heard on the passage from Eccesiastes about there being a time for everything. It was brilliant because she focused on "a time to hate" and talked about the excellence, necessity, and christianity of hatred.
Here's the negative half of the passage

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: ...a time to die, ... a time to uproot, a time to kill, ... a time to tear down, ... a time to weep, ... a time to mourn, ... a time to scatter stones, ... a time to refrain from embracing, ... a time to give up, ... a time to throw away, ... a time to tear, ... a time to be silent, a time to hate, ... a time for war.

My friend Helen Mildenhall asked on her blog "Do you have any traditions you observe at this time of year?" I thought for only a moment and realized that the main tradition I observe at this time of year is to feel and think in even more depressed and negative ways than I normally do. My friend Anuj said to me a couple days ago that it is his perception that I am a fairly negative person. I told him that this is also my perception, and I try not to feel too negative towards myself for being too negative. hehe. Some people just see the dark sides of things. It's easy and comfortable for me to do this--it comes as naturally to me as walking or ... reading and writing. The trick, I think, is to increase my skill in the area of loving people, and loving myself, without having to completely wrest my personality--to somehow grow in my ability to see the good and to embrace hope in order to balance out--not to destroy, but to balance out--my darkishness.

Here's George's entry from Diary of an Old Soul for December 16

The life that hath not willed itself to be,
Must clasp the life that willed, and be at peace;
Or, like a leaf wind-blown, through chaos flee;
A life-husk into which the demons go,
And work their will, and drive it to and fro;
A thing that neither is, nor yet can cease,
Which uncreation can alone release.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday videos

Two really long videos today

Sit Down for Change. Stand Up for Peace!

I'm out of town right now, but apparently there are 1 million people without electrical power in the greater puget sound area, and some of my friends in seattle have been told that it will be several days before their power is restored. All this after a huge wind and rain storm last night with 90 mile per hour gusts. Yikesola. I'm glad my lovely family is away in Oz, so they don't have to be there in this while I'm *not* there. I'm kinda sad I missed it. I remember in St Kitts in 1998, Laurel and Matt and me going out and dancing on the quayside in the enormous rain which flooded the city and caused enormous damage, which we as a crew then went out and worked for three days to help clean up.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Have increasingly come to realize over the last week or so that being married to Megan mega rocks, and ... being single, back in the day, pretty much sucked. One of the worst things about being single, which I never realized when I was single, is that variable length time period between climbing into bed with the lights out intending to fall asleep and actually falling asleep. When one is single, one is somehow utterly and enormously alone during that time period.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

tax dollars for churches to evangelize prisoners

What do arkansas, alabama, virginia, colorado, florida, kansas, missouri, south carolina, and texas have in common? ... Well, they are all red states. All but Kansas and Colorado had educational segregration required by law before Brown v. Board of Education. And all their attorneys general have signed amici curiae briefs in support of the appelant in Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, et. al. v. Prison Fellowship Ministries, et. al.
Well--it's related the story today from the New York Times entitled "Religion for a Captive Audience, Paid for by Tax Dollars". It seems that under (surprise surprise) Bush and co, there has been a proliferation of religion based rehabilitation programs in prisons across the U.S., all paid for with tax dollars. And it seems that courts have been finding lots of the organization running these programs guilty of unconstitutionally using their tax funds to "evangelize". However, they generally just get a slap on the wrist and no more money. A court in Iowa, however, finally said "enough is enough" and has ordered Prison Fellowship Ministries to pay back US$1.5 Million, saying that "this all added up to an unconstitutional use of taxpayer money for religious indoctrination" and that "the constitutional violations were serious and clearly foreseeable." And what exactly is Prison Fellowship Ministries? It's the organization founded by right wing evangelical commentator and watergate criminal Charles Colson. Funnily enough, Colson spent his watergate related prison time in a prison in alabama, whose attorney general is now helping the organization Colson founded.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

monkfish, calvary fellowship, and HHJJ

(a monkfish)
I had a lovely time at ThursdayPM/Monkfish Abbey. I felt very … safe, and understood, and … familiar. Brilliant. Like the fact that such a time/place exists makes me lean toward believing in god and that she loves me.

On the other hand … I’ve made a committment to do something service oriented every week for these 7 weeks while my family is gone–kind of an attempt on my part to stay out of trouble. So today I went with my excellent friend Walter to help out at the monthly … thing where guys from the church get together and go out and do service for people in the community. Oh–it’s a thing that they do at Calvary Fellowship in Mountlake Terrace.

I almost cried when Andy told us about the family we were going to help today–they have a one year old who has cancer. So about 10 of us went over to their house and just did a bunch of odd things that needed doing to try to help out. It was fun kind of working and talking with the guys.

The senior pastor, Wayne, was along, and he was a reaonably kewl guy, but he did try at least 4 times in our conversation to convince me to come to some event at their church. So that didn’t feel very … excellent. I find it especially … unfortunate since just now looking up their web site I see they have this almost at the top of their main page

Secondly, by being friendly, but without being annoyingly aggressive. Some people want to check out a church without being “cornered”, and we respect that.
I didn’t even want to check out their church–I said right up front “I don’t go to church”. Now I feel like maybe I was somehow wrongly taking advantage of the opportunity they provided for me to fulfill my service task for this week while failing to allow for the implied associated … aggresive invitations. Or maybe I’m excessively sensitive. Hmmmm….

(some) christians make me nervous. Like again, on Calvary Fellowship web site, in the “our purpose” section, right at the top they say

Our purpose at Calvary Fellowship is to glorify God by pointing people to Jesus Christ, Who alone is sufficient for our every need.
Now not only is it monga wierd to capitilize pronouns referring to god, it also strikes me as very very strange to say of anything or anyone “who alone is sufficient for every need”. What does that mean exaclty? Because it seems to me that in order to say something like that, you either have to seriously wrest the word “sufficient”, or else you have to be brain dead (I mean as in a human vegetable–oh dear–I don’t mean to be crude–Eliza could help me out here–I mean literally completely cut off from almost all sensory experience or even consciousness) so you don’t see or feel the gargantuan enormitude of the need.
(I seem to have climbed onto a soap box. I’m stepping down now)

I think this might be related to HHJJ…

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Friday Videos

Two treats from Leonard Cohen--First--a cover of his "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley

And secondly, a very recent iteration of his "Tower of Song" by him and U2!

Today's video selection inspired by Jonathan at The Nautical File. Jonathan rocks. And his blog tends to make me hungry--a unique attribute among all the blogs I read.

The Iraq Study Group Report

WARNING: I am about to attempt to put a SHOULD on you. Don't say I didn't warn you.

It seems reasonable to me, in light of the fact that our government has spent 400 Billion of our dollars creating the current disaster zone in Iraq, that every American should read through the Iraq Study Group Report. It's only 160 pages. If you can't read the whole thing, at least read the letters from the co-chairs and the executive summary, which are pages 4-8, and the recommendations, which are from pages 33 to 62. Surely it's the least we can do to try to get a bit outside our Fox/CNN news, insular American heads. I suspect most of you will not do this. You'd rather go watch the football game, or whatever. Typical ugly americans, the lot of you. (my sincere apologies to all my non-american readers. I don't mean you.)

Here it is: The Iraq Study Group Report

My overall impression: 2 things:
1. The guys who wrote this report are bordering-on-insanely hopeful
2. Reading this report helps one to begin to get an understanding of just how much "we" bit off in the decision to invade iraq, and just how difficult the chewing has been and will continue to be.

A couple quotes:

There is no action the American military can take that, by itself, can bring about success in Iraq
While it is clear that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is moderating the violence, there is little evidence that the long-term deployment of U.S. troops by itself has led or will lead to fundamental improvements in the security situation.
U.S. military forces, especially our ground forces, have been stretched nearly to the breaking point by the repeated deployments in Iraq, with attendant casualties (almost 3,000 dead and more than 21,000 wounded), greater difficulty in recruiting, and accelerated wear on equipment.
The number of refugees and internally displaced persons within Iraq is increasing dramatically.
All of our efforts in Iraq, military and civilian, are handicapped by Americans’ lack of
language and cultural understanding.

Dancing Bush--have fun

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Quiz results

My Results from the "Do You Want the Terrorists to Win" Quiz

Your 'Do You Want the Terrorists to Win' Score: 100%

You are a terrorist-loving, Bush-bashing, "blame America first"-crowd traitor. You are in league with evil-doers who hate our freedoms. By all counts you are a liberal, and as such cleary desire the terrorists to succeed and impose their harsh theocratic restrictions on us all. You are fit to be hung for treason! Luckily George Bush is tapping your internet connection and is now aware of your thought-crime. Have a nice day.... in Guantanamo!

Do You Want the Terrorists to Win?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

And here's the quiz results based on me answering the questions using my best guesses for the answers of a fictional character who is a sort of amalgamation of my extended family (I mean my FOO etc.--not Megan's family). Yet another reason to boycott Christmas, and it's ... associated gatherings of extended family.

Your 'Do You Want the Terrorists to Win' Score: 0%

Congratulations, Patriot! Wave your flag proudly, stand tall, and bask in the glory of George Bush's America. The terrorists will never win so long as there is a sufficient number of people like you out there. Never question, never doubt. You are on the right side. America's side. God's side. Rush Limbaugh has told you so. Rah rah, go Bush!!

Do You Want the Terrorists to Win?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

My year round wish list

My list of all the things I want during this season of the feast of the incarnation, and anytime.

1. I want to never again do any of the things after the doing of which I hate myself.
2. I want my granddad to be prosecuted for his crimes, and I want all my aunts, uncles, mum, and my nana to be emotionally healthy enough to testify against him in court.
3. I want my mum to be cured of cancer. Permanently.
4. I want God to come to me in a dream, like he did with Solomon, and say "okay, what do you want me to do for you?" and I want my answer to be something a good deal better than "How about a new porsche?". (and, by the way, also better than solomon's stupid ass answer)
5. I want my dad to be cured of heart disease, diabetes, chronic pain, and ... food addiction.
6. I want a fucking vaccine for malaria, and I want to see it made available to everyone who needs it.
7. I want Jeffrey Sachs to agree to be drafted to run for president of the United States.
8. I want the other 791 people on the list of the world's billionaires to follow the example of the first two people on this list, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, and use their (obviously) high intelligence levels to figure out how to best give away enormous chunks of their wealth.

What's on your wish list?

Monday, December 04, 2006

the dark side of christmas

I'm boycotting Christmas. It's something I want to do every year, and this year I can get away with it, because my lovely family is not here. Why don't Christians ever acknowledge the dark side of Christmas? (the flippant sarcastic benjamin wants to say "for the same reasons they don't acknowledge the dark side of anything--happy happy joy joy--jesus took my burdens and he rolled them in the sea, never to remember anymore etc. etc.") But what about this passage from Revelation 12(which is included in the Christian holy book!)

A great Sign appeared in Heaven: a Woman dressed all in sunlight, standing on the moon, and crowned with Twelve Stars. She was giving birth to a Child and cried out in the pain of childbirth. And then another Sign alongside the first: a huge and fiery Dragon! It had seven heads and ten horns, a crown on each of the seven heads. With one flick of its tail it knocked a third of the Stars from the sky and dumped them on earth. The Dragon crouched before the Woman in childbirth, poised to eat up the Child when it came. The Woman gave birth to a Son who will shepherd all nations with an iron rod. Her Son was seized and placed safely before God on his Throne. The Woman herself escaped to the desert to a place of safety prepared by God, all comforts provided her for 1,260 days. War broke out in Heaven. Michael and his Angels fought the Dragon. The Dragon and his Angels fought back, but were no match for Michael.

Just try not to picture a 10 horned seven headed dragon in the delivery room, hanging out to feast on ... well, you get the picture.

And this one from Matthew 2

Herod, when he realized that the scholars had tricked him, flew into a rage. He commanded the murder of every little boy two years old and under who lived in Bethlehem and its surrounding hills. (He determined that age from information he'd gotten from the scholars.) That's when Jeremiah's sermon was fulfilled:

A sound was heard in Ramah,
weeping and much lament.
Rachel weeping for her children,
Rachel refusing all solace,
Her children gone,
dead and buried.

I think we let this go because we've heard it too often. Try to picture ... George Bush personally ordering the slaughter of hundreds of 2 year old children because he wants to make sure he maintains his power and wealth. oh, wait a minute ...

What about the fact that while we happily spend enough money to finally put all the retailers in the black for the year, mostly on total crap which we don't need, 750,000 people worldwide will die of starvation in the month of December?

I dare you to choose not to buy any christmas presents this year, and figure out how much you *would* have spent on christmas presents, and then give just half that figure to the social justice agency of your choice. and if you can't think of any, see some of the ones listed under "areas of moral clarity" to the right.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

My beautiful wife and wonderful children have left me

for seven weeks so that Megan can attend her sister Rachel's wedding and they can all hang out in sunny Port Macquarie, Australia with Megan's lovely family over Christmas (and maybe go swimming on Christmas afternoon at lovely lighthouse beach, where Megan and I were wed in 2000. It's in the distance in the photo). If you pray, please pray that all our relationships will be sustained and strengthened during this time, and that I will use the time here alone wisely and productively. Thankyou

Mark Driscoll apologizes, Protest called off

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church, met with protest organizer Paul Chapman and other concerned leaders on Thursday night. He has said he is sorry about the hurt his words have caused and realizes he needs to stop using such inflammatory language, he has been removed as religion columnist for the Seattle Times, and the protest Sunday has been called off.
Read Mark's blog entry
Read protest organizer Paul Chapman's blog entry

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday Videos

The Meatrix

PMS survival tips

Thursday, November 30, 2006

why Bill Clinton is a hero-100,000 children treated for AIDS!

This in the brilliant excellent good news for the week section.

So here's a question for all the clinton bashers who think george bush is so wonderful. What has w ever done to compare with today's news that the clinton foundation is helping to ensure that an additional 100,000 children have access to HIV drugs in 2007? Yippee! Try to imagine what this means for just one child in the less developed world, and then multiply by 100,000, and just try not to smile. And then remember that it means the same thing tomorrow, and the day after that, and every single blessed day of 2007. Rock on.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Guest blogger--why I am joining the protest of Mars Hill in Seattle Dec 3

Shari Macdonald Strong expressed so perfectly the reasons I am joining the protest of Mars Hill in Seattle on Dec 3, I thought I'd just repost her letter here.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Why On Earth Would I Want to Picket a Church? More on the Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill Seattle Action

To: Mark Driscoll
Mars Hill Elders and Deacons
Acts 29 Church Planting Network
Seattle Times

As a Christian woman who is planning to participate in the planned December 3 protest at Mars Hill, I wanted to write to explain my reasons for wanting to do so and to share my concerns about some of Mr. Driscoll's recent teachings and writings.

Let me start by saying, I appreciate Mr. Driscoll's recent blog post, in which he amends his previous blog entry about the Ted Haggard affair and about the dangers of pastor's wives "letting themselves go." In particular, I am grateful for the gentle tone of the post. I believe that if this were the tone that he was known for, there would not be this current firestorm of emotion around his teachings.

It was the Ted Haggard post that brought Mr. Driscoll's teachings most recently to my attention. However, I live on the West coast and have heard of him before. I know both that Mark Driscoll is a very powerful man and that many, many people – a large percentage of which are women – have left Mars Hill Church and sometimes the larger church as a result of Mr. Driscoll's teachings. I also have heard that many people have sought therapy after leaving Mars Hill, as a result of the damage done by his teachings. That last statement, of course, is based on hearsay, so I went online to read some of Mr. Driscoll's writings and to listen to some sermons. In addition to the comments about women "letting themselves go," here is some of what I encountered (in random order):

• Derogatory comments made regularly and consistently about people who disagree with Mr. Driscoll's theology, labeling them not only wrong or liberal, but "wussified," "#######," "chickified," and "effeminate" (e.g., "if the Christ you serve is just a really nice guy – I hate to tell you, but you serve a weak, effeminate, ####### Christ").

• Mocking and undermining another denomination of the Christian church:
“The One God has kindly told us who He is—Father, Son, and Spirit. But some chicks and some chickified dudes with limp wrists and minors in 'womyn’s studies' are not happy because two persons of the Trinity have a dude-ish ring. So, in an effort to copy-edit God, some folks at the Presbyterian Church (USA) who have free time because no one is going to their church have decided to consider new names for God.”

• Comparing women in leadership to "fluffy baby bunnies":
“All of this [the Episcopal church appointing female and homosexual leaders] has led this blogger to speculate that if Christian males do not man up soon, the Episcopalians may vote a fluffy baby bunny rabbit as their next bishop to lead God’s men. When asked for their perspective, some bunny rabbits simply said that they have been discriminated against long enough and that people need to “Get over it.”

• Stating/implying that men are the only demographic that matters:
The question is: “If you want to be innovative, how do you get young men?” All this nonsense about how to grow the church – one issue: young men. That’s it – that’s the whole thing. They’re going to get married, make money, make babies, build companies, buy real estate; they’re going to make the culture of the future. If you get the young men you win the war – you get everything; you get the families, the women, the children, the money the business: you get everything. If you don’t get the young men you get nothing.

• Calling strong women who disagree with his interpretation of Scripture "godless" and saying the Bible has "a low opinion" of them:
If it’s a godly woman who has a godly agenda who has something godly to say, then she can speak. If she’s an ungodly woman with a godless feminist agenda that she borrowed from the serpent, like her mother Eve in Genesis 3, and she’s on some tirade mission to represent all women, which is what sometimes happens, women nominate themselves to represent all women… – I love it when the national organization for women, for example, comes out and says, ‘…and representing women…” What women? Did they take a vote? Did all the Christian women vote? Did the mothers vote? Did the wives vote? No. You don’t represent all women. You represent a liberal feminist constituency. Period. Not all women. Not all women. But there are women who will rise up like that, saying “I speak for all women. I champion women’s rights. I champion women’s causes” (sarcastically). We say, that’s not a problem if it’s in accordance with the rights and liberties and dignities that are afforded to a woman in the Bible. The Bible doesn’t have a low view of women. It just has a low view of some women."

• Making fun of strong women and mocking feminists:
"The question is not: Will someone be offended? The question is, who will it be? Will we offend God, saying, you know what? This is an old book, you’re kind of an idiot. I have some other opinions. I went to community college. I have a degree in women’s studies. I have a pushup bra and clear heels and opinions! [Congregation laughs.] The question is, who will be offended: God or us? And if we are offended do we really believe that God doesn’t know what he’s talking about or that this really isn’t God speaking to us? Those are the issues on the table. 'As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches.' He’s speaking here about godless feminist women who are on an agenda, beatin’ a drum, plantin’ a flag in the ground, “We’re for women! We’re for women! We’re for women!” He says, 'You know what? We’re for Jesus.' Wrong mission. Women are great, as long as they’re for Jesus."

• More making fun of women and feminists:
"They [feminists] will say, “You need to treat me like a man!” None of you women want that. No woman wants a man to treat her like another man. Because if we do…you cry. That’s true. [laughter and applause in congregation] Also: " The problem with women, though, who want to be treated like men, is as soon as you do, they say, "You know what, you hurt my feelings. I'm a girl."

• Mr. Driscoll implies that Brian McLaren has sex with goats because he accepts gay people into his church.

• “…women who don’t respect godly authority are demonic.”

• Rather than Mr. Driscoll simply saying that he disagrees with the lifestyles of young men who work in coffee shops and suggesting an alternative or challenging them, he makes fun of them. He uses shame to get men to do what he wants, calling them "chickified," "limp-wristed," "#####," "#######."

• More mocking of women who disagree with him, painting women who have opinions as "hot-headed" and "emotional," and more implications that God doesn't like these women:
"some women think they can do everything on their own" and that if men sit by idly like cowards because they don't want to get into with with their hot-headed, emotional, wives, eventually the women will take over the church, and then the church will go to hell."

• Undermining women's efforts to hold him accountable for his words, implying that the raising of theological questions by a woman is the same thing as them calling the Bible "ridiculous," and calling the squelching of a woman's intellect and voice "sexy":"Does it say, "Ladies, don't have any questions"? Does it say that? No. Does it say, "Ladies, don't disagree." No. Does it say, "Ladies, don't think for yourself." When you disagree, when you're super-theological, when you're all fired up, the first thing you don't do is start yellin' at the pastor and yellin' at the church, firin' nasty e-mails, and declarin' war and puttin' together a, a, little group of, you know, feminist women with guns who are gonna make a difference."
If you're married, you go talk to who? Your husband. You say, "Sweetheart, I was readin' The Bible, I think it's ridiculous." And he would say, "We should probably talk." "Honey I was readin' the Bible, I don't understand." He should say, "Let's, let's study that together. Let's take some time, and study -- together. Now some of you will protest and say, "THAT is SEXIST!" As a married man, I will tell you, it is sexy. That's what it is. There is nothin' hotter than a wife with a great new testament, commentaries, concordances, and questions. That is theological foreplay. It's awesome. Because now you're connecting at the level of then heart and the soul and god is honoring of that."

• Mocking homosexuals:
"I am myself a devoted heterosexual male ####### who has been in a monogamous marriage with my high school sweetheart since I was 21 and personally know the pain of being a marginalized sexual minority as a male #######."

There is more, but I believe I've more than made my point. Frankly, I am upset, I am concerned, I am angry, and I am embarrassed to belong to the same religion as Mark Driscoll. I am deeply offended – not by God, but by Mark Driscoll. If I believed that Mr. Driscoll's words and attitude were reflective of the God of Christianity, I would walk away from Christianity altogether. I read at least one report of a former Mars Hill member who has. Unfortunately, as the Christian religion writer for the Seattle Times, in addition to his other roles, Mark does for many represent the face of Christianity. As that representative, he is showing the world a religion that is mean-spirited and unkind, one that depends upon mockery and shame, ######### and disrespect, smugness and name-calling to make its points.

I am sure that Mr. Driscoll has many fine points and I am not calling into question his love of God or Jesus or the Bible. I am, however, pointing out that his demonization of everyone who deviates from his absolutist claims is causing vast damage to individuals, to the community, and to the church. Perhaps he is trying to be hip and funny and provocative. But the price of this approach is far too high.

Again, I appreciate Mr. Driscoll's clarifying blog post about the Haggard situation, although I wish he had said "I'm sorry, I was wrong" instead of simply saying he'd been "misconstrued." Mr. Driscoll should apologize publicly for all the things referenced above, for the mean, flippant attitude with which he is attempting to deliver the gospel.

In the original, offending blog post, Mr. Driscoll wrote: "At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness…" If he realized that the post would make him "more despised," then why say something he already has recognized as being despicable? Mr. Driscoll has had to apologize publicly for his abuse before; on March 27, 2006, he apologized for comments made on the CT Leadership blog, in which he (among other abuses) implied that Brian McLaren had sex with goats because he accepted gay people in his church. John Piper also has censured him for being "clever."

Yet Mark Driscoll continues to deliver messages filled with meanness and sarcasm and mockery of those who have different opinions or theological positions, and the congregation laughs whenever he does this. Who is holding him accountable? Who, among the Acts 29 community and/or Mars Hill, is talking with him about this, saying: "Mark, you can't be this mean. This has to stop"?

I realize that I am exactly the type of strong-willed, opinionated woman that Mark Driscoll believes to be "an ungodly woman with a godless feminist agenda that she borrowed from the serpent, like her mother Eve in Genesis 3." I do have an opinion about this matter (though I don't have that pushup bra he accused all feminists of having), and I feel it is my responsibility to stand up and say something. Mr. Driscoll will likely see this letter as fitting his example of those "super-theological," "fired up" "feminist women with guns who are gonna make a difference." I admit, I do hope to make some difference in this situation (no gun, though); unfortunately, I don't really expect this letter to change his heart.

I am, however, appealing to those surrounding him: Please listen. Please understand that Mark Driscoll's teachings and his harsh, unkind, mocking words are hurting women and hurting the church. Please set up some form of accountability (or, if one exists, a stronger form of accountability). Ask him to get some therapy. Until he can control his words and his tone, please ask him to step down as the religion columnist representing Christianity for the Seattle Times. Listen to his sermons with a discerning ear and hold him accountable for what he's teaching; if the tone of the above comments continues, remove him from leadership. Ask him to apologize, publicly. Most importantly of all, please set up some kind of information-seeking group within the church to hear the stories of people who have been hurt by Mr. Driscoll and his teachings – and be willing to act upon what you learn.

You have the power to do something about this. All I have is the power to write this letter. And to stand outside the church, holding a sign. Which is why I still plan to attend the protest on December 3. This isn't an attempt to be divisive and it isn't an attempt to persecute anyone, as some Mars Hill members have claimed. It's simply an attempt to say: "Somebody please do something. Please stop this." The question is: Are you listening?


Shari MacDonald Strong

Guest Blogger "hereandnow"

"hereandnow" posted at in a discussion entitled "What Makes One Person More Caring than Another", and I found the thoughts helpful and provocative, so I thought I'd repost here.

"Two very interesting sources that address the initial question of what motivates responses of caring/indifference in this world are a short academic work by Alice Miller called The Drama of the Gifted Child and a recent movie made in South Africa called Tsotsi. Drama basically comes down on the side of these traits being nurtured by our experience of pain and suffering in early childhood. Not everyone responds the same way, but Miller makes an interesting case for the way things unfold. Tsotsi, on the other hand, is based on a novel, so I assume very fictionalized. The main character is ruthless, but in the midst of his ruthlessness, he begins to experience a sort of transformation due to stealing a car with an infant in it. It deals with personal transformation of character from ruthlessness to compassion with out being trite or unrealistic (sort of).

"Now, I’ll weigh in on what I think the origins/motivations of being either consumed with compassion (other-centered) or indifference (self-centered). I think it comes down to whether we are preoccupied with justice or personal righteousness (I know, we’d like to be equally devoted to both, but it’s a rare person who is). How we derive at these preoccupations is the result of our trying to make sense of the hardships of life, be they from abuse, genetic limitations or just plain stupidity on our part. But, we try and construct systems that make sense of the pain of the human condition (loaded term that I don’t mean to equate with the fall of humanity from any state of grace in Eden). While I generally hate to dichotomize things into either/or, in this issue I do think that we either gravitate towards trying to deal with our own hurt by trying to bring justice into our world, or we deal with it by trying to protect the self at the cost of anything that gets in the way of that protection. Which side of the proverbial fence we fall on will make vast differences in how we treat ourselves and others."

help stop executions!

National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

e - @ b o l i t i o n i s t
December 2006

Please forward and cross-post this message widely. If you received this message from a friend, subscribe free at

Three inmates scheduled for execution in December

Three inmates have scheduled execution dates in December, all of which are slated before December 15. Of the three, one pleaded guilty to the crimes and suffers from mental illness, while another maintains his innocence.

Percy Walton is scheduled to be executed by the state of Virginia on Dec. 8, even though he suffers from severe chronic schizophrenia.

Angel Nieves Diaz is scheduled to be executed on Dec. 13 by the state of Florida, despite the fact that no one witnessed the murder.

Read more about these and the other cases below -- and ACT!

Do Not Execute Percy Walton!

Although Percy Walton pled guilty to the shooting murders of three people, a group of mental health professionals diagnosed him with severe chronic schizophrenia. He has told people that he looks forward to his execution so that he can resurrect dead family members. Walton has suffered from mental illness for years, and he now has no idea that his execution is imminent. Executing Walton would be the same as execution a person with mental retardation, in that he has makes no connections between action and consequence. ACT NOW by contacting Gov. Tim Kaine requesting that he stop the execution of Percy Walton!

Read More and Take Action at:

Do Not Execute Angel Nieves Diaz!

Angel Nieves Diaz was convicted in the murder of a bar manager in Miami, but no one witnessed the crime. Diaz maintains he was out of the state at the time of the murder, and his girlfriend has admitted that she testified against him after being coerced by the police. Also, Angel Toro, who allegedly was with Diaz during the crime, received a plea bargain and is now serving a life term. Diaz represented himself at the trial, even though he did not speak English at the time, and the trial jury was influenced by the heavy security surrounding Diaz during the trial.

ACT NOW by contacting Gov. Jeb Bush requesting that Angel Nieves Diaz's execution be halted!

Read More and Take Action at:

See and act on all current Execution Alerts at

December 5: Jerome Henderson, OH

December 8: Percy Walton, VA

December 13: Angel Nieves Diaz, FL

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

It's snowing!

It's snowing in Seattle.--what a rare and wonderful treat! Millions and millions of enormous soft white fluffy flakes are gently wafting their way down and accumulating! Yippee!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

My Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Version 1.

Dear g*d(dess).

The planet is mostly FUBAR, and your redemption plan doesn't begin to approach being enough. thanks for squat.

Version 2.

Dear g*d(dess).

Thankyou that I live in a country with a per capita GDP of $41,000 while 3 billion people rot in destitute poverty with $700 per year. Thankyou that I live in a country where we are going to spend $1.1 Trillion on defense in 2007 so that I can feel relatively safe while another 150,000 Iraqi’s die. Thankyou that I’m a man so that I can feel relatively safe while one in four women in this country will be raped or sexually molested by their 18th birthday. Thankyou that even though I and my family are among the 46 million uninsured in this country, at least we still live in a country where we are spending $2.2 trillion on health care this year, while over 2 million died and 12 million children were orphaned because of aids in Africa in 2005, and another 2 million will die of malaria there this year, mostly children under 5. Thankyou that I live in a country where the lives of my wife and my newborn daughter were saved during an obstetric emergency, while 500,000 mothers will die worldwide this year from obstetric emergencies that are mostly relatively simple and inexpensive to remedy. Thankyou that I am going to get to obscenely gorge myself on enormous quantities of food today, while also today 25,000 people are going to die of starvation around the world.

God bless (only) America.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

This is freaking kewl

Today minister's (you have to realize, by the way, that I put that apostrophe there for the sole purpose of annoying the heck out of all you people who find that sort of thing annoying) from seven international partners signed a 12 billion dollar agreement to build the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER)--the world's first ever working, viable fusion power plant (well, sort of). They are going to freaking heat up hydrogen isotopes to 100 million freaking degrees and then force them together to make them fuse and thus give up part of their mass as energy, something that normally only happens in totally uncontrollable places like stars and hydrogen bombs. How totally gnarley is that? (answer: very very totally gnarley!). Unfortunately, if you are over 70 years old, you probably won't live to see actual online fusion power plants for electrical energy, which probably won't finally happen until 2040 (or so they predict). But still, it's pretty damn kewl. Now I wonder if we could do this any faster if, for instance, we had taken the 400 billion we've blown on the iraq war and used that money to speed up viable controlled fusion. Oh well. You can read more about ITER on their web site.

Monday, November 20, 2006

god i hate

las vegas.

In this city more blatantly, somehow, than anywhere else, there exists the dichotomy between our rich, ritzy, showy, lit up, clean, perfect, beautiful, glorious, happy, well fed, .... facade; and our poor, filthy, ugly, shredded, despicable, helpless, ... brokenness. It wears on one, perhaps especially one like me, and I sense glimmers of the possibility of me coming to like, and to want more of, and to believe in, the facade. I hate that the worst. it's like the anti-me, coming to gobble me up.

And for you people out there who thing my blog is just too depressing (you know who you are) I found this (I think) pretty freaking gnarly animation of a radial engine from wikipedia (try not to stare at it too long--it has similar powers to Kaa (about whom Kipling writes thusly: "He is very old and very cunning. Above all, he is always hungry," said Baloo hopefully. "Promise him many goats. All this in the story which tells of his powers, Kaa's Hunting, which you can read *now* by clicking on the name, which will take you to that page of the etext from project gutenberg.))


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Who's your favorite speaker?

Stephanie said in a recent comment on this blog:
ben, i like hearing your thoughts on this. i have listened to mark driscoll sermons in hope of finding some redemptive value but instead end up frustrated. so i empathize with you.

So here's my question. Who's your favorite speaker or speakers--the ones where you do find redemptive value--the one's who manage to plant lovely story seeds inside you which bear delightful fruit? If you can, also share links to talks from these speakers.
To start us off--one of my favorites is Dan Allender, who always manages to surprise me and (lovingly) shove me right out of my completely whacked comfort zone.

Monday, November 13, 2006

my thoughts on sex and power in the context of the recent Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill thing

From here:

I think I have a *great* gut feeling for a powerful abusive system when I see it. Call it whatever you want. There’s something inside that recognizes it immediately becuase I lived in something very similar for years, and it was hella hard to get out of, and to get healed from. Driscoll and Mars Hill Church set that feeling off big time, and the more I read about and interact with them, the more conscious evidence there is for my head of what my gut is telling me. It seems to me that perhaps the major problem over there is a misunderstanding of power. I really think that the leadership doesn’t understand the level of the power they have, and the damage their uncareful use of that power is doing. I think there are two possible paths for them. Either they will just continue to be the way they are–this happens to some people–they never really change, no matter how much pain they cause others and themselves. My hope is that it will go the other way for them–that they will come to understand and feel in their heads and in their guts the pain that their misuse of power is causing, and repent, and start to repair. That would be awesome. the sense I get from Mark, and from Lief, is that they have not yet experienced the depths of brokenness that they need to experience in order to *really* understand their desperate need for love, and for jesus. Mark gives very flippant lip service to being a sinner. It’s scary to see unbroken people wielding power.

and from here:

I think that what a man in a position of power like Mark Driscoll (that is, a man who knows that other people look up to him, listen to his teaching, and intend to implement it) should be emphasizing overwhelmingly to married guys about sex is this: We (guys) live in a culture where the overwhelming message is that women are objects, women are worthless unless they are young, thin, and beautiful, women are sexually assaulted, women are beaten–all in all, women have a pretty shitty time overall, and it’s mostly the fault of guys who are saying and doing all these abusive things to women. So in light of the fact that we are swimming in this pool, and breathing this freaking air, our first priority with our wives should be to give the lie to all this crap, and tell our wives both in words and deeds that they are beautiful, period, and that that they are worthy of respect and love, period. Our number one goal in regards to sex with our wives should be to be romantic, and kind, and gracious, and focused on what *they* want. Etc. Etc. Etc. etc. etc.
And if someone in a position of power, like mark, is focusing on anything else when teaching married men about sex, then by default, that is, by not swimming against the cultural tide, he is swimming with it, and reinforcing it.
That’s what I think.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

something lighter

The European Union Commission have announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for Europeancommunications, rather than German, which was the other possibility. As partof the negotiations, the British government conceded that English spellinghad some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phased plan forwhat will be known as EuroEnglish (Euro for short).

In the first year, "s" will be used instead of the soft "c".Sertainly, sivil servants will resieve this news with joy. Also, the hard"c" will be replaced with "k". Not only will this klear up konfusion, buttypewriters kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replacedby "f". This will make words like "fotograf" 20 per sent shorter.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan beexpekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have alwaysben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mesof silent "e"s in the languag is disgrasful, and they would go.

By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing"th" by "z" and "w" by "v".

During se fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan bedropd from vords kontaining "ou", and similar changes vud of kors be apldto ozer kombinations of leters. After zis fifz year, ve vil hav a relisensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun wilfind it ezi to understand ech ozer. Ze drem vil finali kum tru.

And here's Jabberwocky in Welsh. 20 points if you can read this out loud in less than 3 mintues From the jabberwocky variations page:

Selyf Roberts

Mae'n brydgell ac mae'r brochgim stwd
Yn gimblo a gyrian yn y mhello:
Pob cólomrws yn féddabwd,
A'r hoch oma'n chwibruo.

'Gwylia'r hen Siaberwoc, fy mab!
Y brathiad llym a'r crafanc tynn!
A rhed pan weli'r Gwbigab
A'r ofnynllyd Barllyn!'

Cym'rodd ei gleddyf yn ei law
I geisio ei fanawaidd brae--
A gorffwys ger y goeden Taw,
I feddwl--fel pe tae.

A thra pendronai ymhlith y coed
Y Siaberwoc a'i lygaid fflam
A ddaeth, mor wallgof ag erioed
Gan ffrwtian gam a cham!

Un, dau! Un, dau! drwy'r awyr oer
Aeth min y cledd ysgiw, ysgôl!
Fe'i lladdodd, a chan gludo'i ben
Hwblamodd yn ei ôl.

'A lleddaist ti y Siaberwoc?
Tyrd yma, hapllon fachgen!
O jiwblus ddydd! Hwrê! Hwroc!'
Gan wenu arno'n llawen.

Mae'n brydgell ac mae'r brochgim stwd
Yn gimblo a gyrian yn y mhello:
Pob cólomrws yn féddabwd,
A'r hoch oma'n chwibruo.

And here is Carroll's orginal poem:

Lewis Carroll

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought--
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One two! One two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Response from Mars Hill on blog comments

In all fairness, I would encourage those following this whole thing to read this response from Mars Hill Church on Comment 102 at the CatE Post (referenced below) (I guess it's a little late to add that this whole discussion is *not* g-rated)

Can I just say this looks to me like a big powerful abusive system (Mars Hill Church) trying to further squash their victims while maintaining their own apperance of holiness and propriety. But hey, that's just me.

update and change in date of Mark Driscoll protest

So the Mark Driscoll protest (mentioned in the post directly below this one) is now going to be on December 3. Please make a note of it.

Feel free to read about my visit to Mars Hill Church this morning here

And here's today's astonomy photo of the day--the cat's eye nebula

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Protest Mark Driscoll's misogyny Dec. 3 (NEW DATE!) in Ballard

I want to encourage any seattlelites reading here to click here to join in the protest of the misogyny of Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church, one of Seattle's biggest churches. Mark recently suggested on his blog that perhaps if Gayle Haggard had taken steps to be a little hotter, then Ted Haggard would have found it easier to resist temptation. Can you believe that? (For more evidence of Mark's warped misogynist viewpoint, just follow this post at converation at the edge. See especially comments 102 and 109) So is protesting mark's words, and his general misogyny, at the 11Am service at Mars Hill on December 3 (NEW DATE!). I called Mars Hill and asked whether there was any chance of speaking to Mark about this, but was told he is booked up for two years! I left them my phone number and they said they would have another pastor get back to me. So I will keep you posted.

And may I encourage you to check out the 4 minute preview of Jean Kilbourne's Killing Us Softly 3, and perhaps buy the dvd? Jean clearly and concisely shows just how prevalent and how enormously damaging our whole society's underlying "women are only worthwhile if they are young and beatiful" message really is. Just click on the name Killing Us Softly above, and about halfway down the left side of that page click on "Play Video"

Friday, November 10, 2006

an image of mercury's recent transit of sol

On Wednesday this last week, things lined up in such a way that Mercury could be seen crossing the sun from over half of our planet! In the photo below, mercury is the tiny black circle (almost a speck!) to the left of center. You can see a bigger version of the image here This is today's Astronomy picture of the day, which you can have automatically downloaded to your desktop every day using this software These pictures are always amazing--makes me look forward to seeing my computer desktop every day.

Friday Videos

Awesome guitarist! Who is this guy?

White and Nerdy

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Poem by D.

From Eclectic Waters
November 6th, 2006


A small body,

moving like a black bead across linoleum floor,

spins grey thread.

She hangs it like party streamers


rocks, trees, doorframes and windows.

Her webs of small triangles, looped and tied together,

have been dismembered by hats, flailing hands, and squirrels.

Each time, she hides beside the knotted corner, the one in the shadows,


the web break

into frayed fingertips that twitch.

She has sat on the edge of countless webs. When the wind dies down, her legs click forward.


A small body,

moving like a black bead,

spinning grey thread and stretching it out.

I leaned forward, but heard no sigh,

only the click click click of hairy legs against a twig.

A small body,

moving like a black bead across linoleum floor,

spins grey thread.

She hangs it like party streamers


rocks, trees, doorframes and windows.

Monday, November 06, 2006

It's my birthday!!

At left: a victim of an American atomic bomb
Notes from today:

-In The United States, we are halfway through the current season (Autumn, here), but we are *not* halfway through Spring in Oz, because their season (Spring) runs September 1 through December 1 (the meteorological seasons), while our season (Autumn) runs from 23 September to 21 December (the astronomical seasons). Wierd, huh?
--Plutonium was first produced at Hanford on this day in 1944, and used about 9 months later to instantly kill 70,000 people, mostly civilians, in Nagasaki.

(Dammit-my mother told me recently that she read my blog once, and had decided to wait to read it again until a day when she felt really pumped up with joy, since she found it so depressing that she dasn't (now there's a lovely word--"dasn't") start to read it when she's down, or she'll end up really in a pit. So I planned to make today's entry 100% cheerul and fun and happy just for her. but I just *can't*. It's not how I see the world.)

--Today I am 32. Next year, I'll be an adult by hobbitish standards. So I'm entering my last year as a non-adult. I intend to enjoy it!. Following, for your enjoyment, is the four minute version (that is, read aloud, it takes about 4 minutes) of the chronlogically first half of my life (through age 16). And I've left out *all* the really bad stuff (for you, mom!)

My first 16 years, the negativity avoidant 4 minute version

I was born 2 weeks premature on an air force base in Altus Oklahoma, whence I was flown 6 hours later to a larger hospital in Texas, where a surgeon (whose name I have not yet managed to learn, although I'm working on it) and his team saved my life by sewing up my deflated left lung. (I have the scar to prove it!). At age 2, I moved with my family to Wichita, Kansas, where I later met my best friends Sam and Jennifer, with whom I hung out and learned to ride a bicycle and made a fort and learned to ride with no hands! (yippee) and we all went over to Washington Street (the paved street!!) to ride because we could go faster on pavement (yeehaw!) My dad took me to preschool in the mornings on the way to work, and we regularly stopped at a donut shop, where we both ate donuts and he drank coffee, with milk for me. And we *never* told mom (sorry, mom, hehe). My mom taught me to read so I was the most advanced kid in my preschool, and I began my lifelong insatiable thirst for books with the hardy boys books. I buried a cover of a hardy boys book along with some other valuables in a jar in the yard of our house before we moved on. I wonder if it's still there.

At age 8, I moved with my family to Tacoma, Washington, where I attended McCarver elementary and won a distinguished student award from the school district. I hung out with my cousin Kelli, and we had the "hunga munga club". Very very kewl! And I went wading in the summer at Alling Park wading pool. My 3rd grade teacher read the Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe out loud to us, and also Sounder and Pippi Longstocking, and I rode the schoolbus an hour both ways and I would have missed my stop half the time cause I was engrossed in a book, but Kelly saved my bacon. And Kelli fell off the monkey bars and broke her tooth and had to have a root canal. Yikes. My dad spent the year in Turkey fixing military aircraft for the U.S., and we missed him, and we joined Bethesda Baptist Church and my mom and I became Christians.

At age 9, I moved with my family to West Germany, where first we lived in the hotel on Rhein Main Air Force Base for 3 months, and then we moved to a little house in Morfelden, where the neighbor was this scary German guy who spent Saturdays cleaning his BMW down to the level of q-tip pefection and yelled at my parents in German about things occasionally, including our dog barking during siesta time (I suspect they don't call it siesta, since that is a spanish word, but it's the same thing). I spent every waking moment apart from school with my best friends, Gary Branam and Neil Compston. We built forts and played in the woods and wend sledding and rewrote the U.S. Declaration of Independence as independence from school and teachers and all the sins of King George III became the sins of the teachers. We make counterfeit copies of hundreds of thousand of 'merit bucks', our little private school's system of currency used to reward various good things, and we packed our rewritten declaration in a box with these counterfiet bills, and we presented the whole thing to our teachers at the end of the year awards ceremony. Very kewl.

At age 12, I moved with my family to Seattle, Washington, where my dad retired from the air force and started working full time as an auto mechanic. We lived in a tiny unincorporated section of king county called "esperance", between 3 very urban cities. My dad and I built a race engine together and put it in an old beat up GM pickup truck (that's "ute" for the Aussies) and god it ran and sounded sweet and I got my first speeding ticket in that truck. I poked around on the pre-inernet with my 8086 no hard drive dual floppy system which ran at 2 kilohertz. I switched from a tiny little private christian school to homeschooling at age ...15 or so.

If youv'e read this far, thanks for indulging me

Saturday, November 04, 2006

quote of the week and a dilemma

quote of the week: from gladly suffering fools: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. There are Transformers, more than meets the eye. Transformers, robots in disguise."

This made me laugh uproariously. Ihope it may do as much for you.

I ran into this dilemma after revolution conference this weekend. I went away from the conference thinking "ok, I'm going to pursue kindness and justice". And almost immediately I was really unkind to my mother, which I didn't want to be. This was complicated by the fact that I was being unkind to her because I was furious over her (seemingly to me heartless) stance of injustice towards the people of iraq. I had a rather vitriolic argument which ended with her saying outright "If I have to choose between voting for someone who is going to bomb Iraqi children, or someone who is going to bomb [allow for the bombing of] this neighborhood/my children/grandchildren, I'll vote for bombing Iraqi children." god I felt furious, and I was unkind in my fury. Let me just say that I think this is a totally fabricated choice which doesn't exist in the real world. Moreover, I *want* to choose to suffer violence rather than perpetrate it. Furthemore, I think this is the *real* Christian choice (...ahhhh, like duh! the Cross!). the thing is, I just can't seem to translate this *want to* into anything concrete (or maybe I don't *really* wanna!). dilemma dilemma.

Dwight Friesen spoke over the weekend about how maybe being christian means identifying those places/relationships where we are doing the us vs. them thing, and choosing to *be* the "and" which replaces the "vs." in that equation. That is, he says, maybe christ calls us to lean into the relationships where we most experience the us vs. them thing. The problem I see with this is that I hate the way I behave in those relationships, and that's *why* I lean away from them. Dilemmas and paradoxes--how can I escape these mazes and traps? (ahhhh, duh, you can't, you're human!).

At the risk of carrying on at far too great a length, I also want to say that I am enormously happy for Ted Haggart, who can at last begin to experience reality and thus experience god. and I am enormously pissed off at New Life Church in Colorado Springs Colorado, who in their recent press release glaringly display the very attitude which at least 50%ishly led to this whole debacle--namely, a massive refusal and inability to see or acknowledge their own toxic codependent traits and attitudes which led them to be attracted to and live with an addict for all this time. What's enormously sad is that if (that is, as/when) they continue to refuse to look at themselves and ask "now what about *us* made us choose to sit under this addicted person and be so deceived?", then they will just hire a new guy who covers his stuff up better. Very very sad. And if you don't believe me, go ask Jeff Van Vonderen, who deals with this shit for a living.