Wednesday, September 23, 2009

This is why women should be pastors.

Exhibit A: My friend Karin Maney. You rock, Karin.

The Peace of God from Recycle Your Faith on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The myth of "quality time."

There's no such thing as "quality time" with your kids. Or rather, there IS, but it's worthless. The phrase doesn't have a long history... it came to prominence in the 80s with the idea that you might work 90-hour weeks, but could make up for it on the weekend by taking the kids to theme parks or the beach or something. Work hard and play hard. Make lots of memories in a short amount of time. Worthless.

Kids don't care about quality time... they care about QUANTITY time. Would Jenna love it if we went to the beach every weekend? Sure. But she also loves sitting in the backyard throwing a ball back and forth. What matters isn't that we do amazing things together, but that we do them often. My being home as many nights as possible is a much bigger deal than whether we have huge weekend plans.

That said, she and I have developed a weekly tradition... on my day off, we get up early and make waffles. Since finishing off the Bisquick, we've been experimenting with different "from scratch" recipes and we've finally settled on one. Do yourself a favor and make these waffles. Best part is you use the half-cup measure for everything (including pouring the batter). Minimal cleanup rocks.

Jenna's Waffles

First, mix these dry ingredients:
- 1 cup white flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons brown sugar
- plenty of cinnamon (I never measure)

Then, add these and mix again:
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 2 eggs
- 4 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 banana, mashed with a fork

And for fun, add something like this:
- 1 small handful chocolate chips
- 1 small handful peanut butter chips

We don't use syrup (these waffles don't need it), just vanilla yogurt. Try it... your kids (or your taste buds) will thank you.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Important Lessons from Children's Books

My daughter has a new favorite book: The Little Engine that Could. It's very sweet, and teaches an important lesson. Every time I read it, though, I can't help but think of the definitive poetic version by Shel Silverstein.

Shel was a weird dude (check the link for his first major employer) but the dude could write serious poetry. This is one of my favorites.

The Little Blue Engine, by Shel Silverstein

The little blue engine looked up at the hill.
His light was weak, his whistle was shrill.
He was tired and small, and the hill was tall,
And his face blushed red as he softly said,
“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”

So he started up with a chug and a strain,
And he puffed and pulled with might and main.
And slowly he climbed, a foot at a time,
And his engine coughed as he whispered soft,
“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”

With a squeak and a creak and a toot and a sigh,
With an extra hope and an extra try,
He would not stop — now he neared the top —
And strong and proud he cried out loud,
“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!”

He was almost there, when — CRASH! SMASH! BASH!
He slid down and mashed into engine hash
On the rocks below... which goes to show
If the track is tough and the hill is rough,
THINKING you can just ain’t enough!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fundamental Assumptions Part 1: The God Who Salvages

I wrote this as part of an ongoing writing project with my wife called The Theology of the Tweak. It's been sadly neglected due to our familial addition, but I'd like to get it going again.


The hard part about our Tweak Theology is that it has so many self-referencing assumptions that it's hard to articulate where the starting point is. It's basically turtles all the way down. But there are a few bedrock beliefs that I think can stand on their own before we get into the meat of it.

The very first is that our God is a God who salvages. Joe Boyd told me last year that Wall-E was the most spiritual movie made in 2008, and I couldn't agree more.

Look, we Christians have created all kinds of baggage around the word "saved." It's not really meaningful to us. Does the word mean remotely the same thing when saying "I got saved this weekend" and "I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance?" Obviously not. Forget the comparison of spiritual life and car insurance... aside from that, the word is still being used in totally different ways. Try this on for size, though:

Salvage: to rescue or save especially from wreckage or ruin

Catch that? Synonym for "save" is "salvage" when referring to "rescuing from wreckage or ruin." That's a pretty good explanation of what it means to enter a relationship with God... what if instead of saying "I'm saved" we instead said "I'm salvaged?" I don't know if our egos could handle it ("I don't need salvaging!") but it would be a lot more theologically accurate.

But WAIT! There's MORE!

I'm not going to spend a ton of time defending this (it's a blog post, and it's already too long) unless somebody objects, in which case I'll dive in and tackle it more thoroughly. But here it is:

God's goal is to save the world. I don't mean that just in the soteriological sense, but also in the practical. God's desire is BOTH to offer salvation (saving relationship, eternal life, etc) to every individual, AND to salvage our relationships, our culture, our work, our institutions, and our planet. These things are broken, usually as a result of our own brokenness. God is a fixer by nature, and each broken thing he desires to fix. I'm positing that half on Scripture and half by extrapolating from his character. If you have a great verse I should know please stick it in the comments.

But that's a quick writeup on one of my most basic understandings about life, God, and theology. It's not one that everyone shares (at the very least, it's fair to say that every 5-pointer has already written me off as a heretic) but this is the absolute bedrock of my understanding of God.

Fundamental Assumption #1: God is a Salvager by both nature and choice. It's a fundamental character trait to fix what is broken, which means that His goal is not only to redeem individuals from their brokenness but also to redeem the world: both nature's beauty and human society are fit recipients of his attention.

Or, more simply:

Our God is a God who salvages.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Case for Intelligent Design: Part 1.5 of 3.

I'll eventually finish, I promise. In the meantime, here's a thought on design while I'm unable to access my GMail.

For those just joining, this has nothing to do with "Intelligent Design" in terms of evolution. Rather, it's calling for intelligence in the way we design ministry systems. You can read Part 1 here.