Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We've got jokes

This is the kind of thing that's funny only when you live in a seminary town.

But I do, so it is.

A calvinist arrives at Heaven's gates and sees that there are two queues going in.   One is marked "predestined," and the other is marked "free will."  Being a good calvinist he wanders over to the predestined line.  After a few minutes an angel asks him, "why are you in this line?"  He replies, "I chose it."  The angel looks surprised, "well then, you should be in the free will line."  So our calvinist, now slightly miffed, obediently wanders over to the free will line.  Again, after a few minutes another angel asks him, "why are you in this line?"  He sullenly replies, "Someone made me come here."


For a different type of chuckle about calvinism, try this piece from Christianity Today.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I'm Down with O.P.C. (Other People's Content)

Yeah you know me.

Life's a bit hectic right now, so instead of posting my own brilliant (or, more accurately, "brilliant") thoughts, I'll just link to some better-articulated thoughts from more articulate people.

First, a quick shout-out to my friend Dan's new startup, Wylio.com. Wylio is a tool for bloggers who need good (free) artwork. Enter your search terms and it finds creative-commons material that you're free to use in your blog. Choose your size and orientation (twss) and get your embed code. It's dead simple, and I've used it for every image in this post.

HMK Soul Doubt Show Invite 5x5 Aphoto © 2008 H. Michael Karshis | more info (via: Wylio)

My friend Jim Zartman not only plays a pretty mean guitar, he's also a pretty good thinker. I REALLY liked his post on Gollum, but for sheer quotability you can't beat this post on doubt.

I was watching this movie where the main character was talking about the philosophies she lived by and one of them was, “Never take advice from someone you wouldn’t trade places with.” I like that, not as a general rule, but as specific to situations. For example, I wouldn’t ask advice on being a father from someone who I thought had bratty kids. When I look at the lives and read parts of books from guys like N.T. Wright or C.S. Lewis, I know I would rather be like them than like Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins.

Coca-Cola Coolerphoto © 2007 Kevin | more info (via: Wylio)
And via kottke, here's a fantastic mind trip on the egalitarian merits of Coca-Cola and America. I'd meant to use this to explain why, contrary to trendy opinion, Walmart is the greatest economic equalizer in the history of the world. But odds of getting that written are small. Instead, I'll leave you with the relevant quote and let you work the logic out yourself.

What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

chaospro_mandelbrot_718photo © 2007 flickrnospam | more info (via: Wylio)
In case you weren't aware, Benoit Mandelbrot died last week. As in, the Mandelbrot set. He was kind of a big deal. The-man-the-legend-Jonathan-Coulton (who wrote the most famous song about a living mathematician that I'm aware of) had a fantastic pseudo-eulogy, which contains this gem.

Not to get too heavy on you, but truth itself has a kind of fractal component – you can be right at one scale, but then zoom in and discover you had it all wrong. I stopped trusting people with absolute opinions the day I understood the answer to the question “How long is the coast of Britain?” is “It depends.” Not coincidentally that was the same day I discovered Mandelbrot. That was the question that led him to invent a new branch of mathematics by creating a way to quantify and discuss this kind of weirdness, and it changed the way we think about all sorts of things.

Lightworkers-in-the-grassphoto © 2005 Chris Jackson | more info (via: Wylio)
I'd say that Rachel Held Evans is the best professional writer I know, but that wouldn't be saying much since I don't know many professional writers. Instead, I'll say that she's one of the very best writers that I read, which is saying quite a bit when you consider that I get over 800 items a week in my RSS reader. Even when I don't agree with Rachel (which doesn't happen very often), I can't stop reading her prose. It's fantastic. For example, try this recent post on cultivating a gentle spirit:

I don’t know for sure, but I think that maybe God is trying to tell me that I’ve got to stop reacting so much, that I can’t allow the little ups and downs in my day to affect me to the core. Gentleness begins with strength, quietness with security. A great tree is both moved and unmoved—it changes with the seasons, but its roots keep it anchored in the ground.

IMG_0752photo © 2006 Simon East | more info (via: Wylio)
One of my favorite athiests, David Friedman, wrote a fantastic short piece entitled "Separation of Church and State or Public Schools: Pick One." David is "an academic economist who teaches at a law school and has never taken a course for credit in either field." He's riffing on a previous post of his, which is itself a riff on Volokh's recent reprint of its classic "How Separation of Church and State Was Read Into the Constitution (Hint: the KKK got its way)."

This suggests a more general point—is the existence of a public school system consistent with a serious commitment to the separation of church and state?

I think the answer is that it is not. While teaching a fundamentalist version of the origin of life is indeed taking a side in a religious dispute, teaching a conventional account of biology and geology is is also taking a side in that dispute, just the opposite side. I do not see how I can honestly tell a fundamentalist that it is a violation of the separation of church and state to teach children that his religious beliefs are true but not a violation to teach children that they are false.

I've had several normally thoughtful people tell me recently that this election campaign was the least civil ever, and that our country is trending away from civility. It's possible, I guess. I certainly wouldn't know, since I don't own a TV or watch election coverage (actually, election coverage in 2008 is what convinced me to finally cut the wire completely). But my general suspiciousness of "it's getting worse all the time" thinking received a boost from this brilliant piece:

Some final thoughts:

There's no speed limit.

Here in Lexington, man eats his own beard.

Donald Miller is, and always has been, the man.

Well, this blog post is long enough for now. If you're interested in seeing what I'm reading, follow me on Reader or subscribe to my Shared Items RSS feed (top right, "What I'm Reading).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

(Not even remotely) Authentic Thai Peanut Chicken

Hello, Blog! Instead of deep thoughts, today I'm using you to jot down a recipe for a friend. This dish is not what a food critic would recognize as Thai Peanut Chicken. It does have four things going for it, though:

1. It's ridiculously easy
2. It's ridiculously fast
3. I always have all of the ingredients in the house
4. My kids love it.

Without further ado:

1. Start boiling water. Trust me, the sauce is fast. Cooking the pasta is the hard part. Use whatever pasta you want to get rid of... I generally go with either macaroni or spaghetti noodles. Once the water's hot, give it salt and oil. If you have peanuts in the house, throw in a handful.

2. Throw some minced garlic and chopped garlic in a cast iron skillet. Top with some EVOO and give it some heat... start getting the flavor out of the aromatics.

3. Add 2T of soy sauce, 1T of rice vinegar, 1T of lemon juice, and 1T of brown sugar. Mix it up and add a can of chicken.

4. Once the chicken seems to be a little bit flavored, add half a cup of creamy peanut butter. I've done will with Kroger, Peter Pan, and Jif. Doesn't matter that I can tell. Go wild. Add 1T of milk. Keep stirring the mixture and make sure it doesn't burn. It'll probably get too thick; just add some of the water from the pot o' noodles. Get a nice creamy / slightly runny consistency. Cut the heat to the skillet.

5. Drain the noodles (and peanuts, if you've got 'em), add to the skillet, and mix. Serve with a small bottle of Frank's Hot Sauce... I find this dish to be really bland as-is, but my kids love it that way. Judi and I are pretty free with the hot sauce, which makes it a ton better. We also ruin the authenticity even more by mixing in peas. Sounds odd, but it tastes fine and it gets the kids a vegetable.

Enjoy! If you make any improvements, I'd be glad to hear about them.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Profession, Vocation, Occupation

Preface: This was written but not published when we were getting ready to move. Now that I do have a job, I came on to blogspot for the first time in a month and realized I'd never actually sent this out. So here it is, in its time-warped "glory."


One of the most common questions I've been getting about the move (and I've been getting this from my grandmother, some high-school acquaintances, and everyone in between) is what I'll be doing once I get to Lexington. When I give the honest answer ("I have no idea") the followup question is always the same: will I be in professional / vocational / occupational ministry. I don't usually play the deconstruction game, but let's check this out a bit. Imagine this conversation between myself and a hypothetical friend.

HF (hypothetical friend): So, Micah, are you looking for a role in professional ministry in Lexington?

MrO: Let's talk about that word "profession." We take it to mean a line of work or a trade. But if you check it in the dictionary, you'll find that it's actually a matter of allegiance... we profess vows to a religious community, or profess a faith, or profess a belief or opinion. Only one of the four definitions given by Messrs. Miriam and Webster has to do with economic activity, and my understanding is that even that was once a matter of allegiance... I profess allegiance to a guild or a trade.

I used to joke that pastors are professional Christians... they get paid to do what we're all supposed to be doing anyway. But that's not really the right word on my part. The reality is that ALL followers of Jesus should be professional... we should "Hold firmly to the faith we profess." So in that sense, any ministry I do should be professional.

HF: You know that's not what I mean. What I mean is, are you looking for vocational ministry in Lexington?

MrO: That's a funny word, "vocation." It's from the latin voca, which means "to call." Your vocation is your calling. It's what people are talking about when they're "called" into ministry. Eugene Peterson, though, has an entirely different take on it.
During his seminary education in New York City, Peterson worked with a group of artists. They were dancers and poets and sculptors, and they all worked blue-collar jobs as taxi drivers, waiters, and salesmen—whatever they had to do to pay the rent and put food on the table. Soon enough Peterson realized that “none of them were defined by their jobs—they were artists, whether anyone else saw them as artists, and regardless of whether anyone would ever pay them to be artists.” That is to say, being an artist wasn’t a job for them, but a vocation. Their jobs simply kept them alive so they could pursue their vocations. “Their vocation didn’t come from what anyone thought of them or paid them.”

So if I'm getting paid by a church, that might mean that my ministry is NOT my vocation. Not saying that's definitely the case, of course, but the real question is "would I do this even if i wasn't getting paid for it?"

HF: That's not what I'm talking about. What I mean is are you looking for an occupational ministry in Lexington?

MrO: You know, "occupation" is another funny word. We use it to...

HF: Your being needlessly pedantic, and it's really annoying.

MrO: Hey man, you're just a literary device that lets me order my thoughts. It's a pretty well-established one, too, started by Plato. I mean all of the Socratic philosophy we have is just Plato pitting Socrates against...

HF: Dude.

MrO: Right. Anyway, there's two ways you can take "occupation." It could be a trade, but it could also mean holding territory for an invading force. And that's what we believe about the Kingdom of God... that we're the beachhead of a Kingdom that is breaking through into this world. It's fully present but not fully realized; both "already" and "not yet." Right now it's only here in part, but soon it will be here fully. The dam is currently bursting... right now there's a trickle of water at the ankles but before long there will be a wall of water that sweeps a new Kingdom into existence. It's a Kingdom entirely without borders or even governments, except for one King.

And so for the next season of life, my next occupation is Lexington. That's the beachhead I'm occupying, that's the territory I have my eye on. That's where my ministry is, and that's what it means to do "occupational ministry."

HF: What. Are. You. Going. To. Do. To. Make. Money.

MrO: Oh, my job? I have no idea.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cleaning out the hard drive...

It's my last week at work, so I'm getting ready to give back my work laptop. I've found lots of stuff on here that I'd forgotten, but here's my favorite. Little jab at all of my friends on Twitter.

Venn Diagram of Personality Disorders and Social Media

Of course, since this blog auto-feeds to my Facebook account, I'm probably well into the "Narcissism" category.

Expect to see a torrent of blogging this week, as I publish all of the little things that I'd stashed away to share "later."

That Martin Luther King, Jr... he's not bad

Everybody knows MLK, right? Everybody knows he's a good guy who did good stuff. But I've never actually been exposed to his writing before. I've heard lots of things ABOUT King, but until recently I've never actually read his own words.

This guy was a force of nature.

If you've never done it, you should go read Letter from a Birmingham Jail. I'm working through it for the first time, and I'm staggered by the guy's depth of thought. This man wasn't just a good orator, he was a great thinker. The whole thing is quotable, but this part was big for me right now:

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever... If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent-up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides--and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action.

I'm not an oppressed minority. But I do sometimes think "I shouldn't feel this way." I think I should force myself not to be discontent.

News flash: it doesn't work that way.

Instead of trying to force myself to feel differently (or just happily wallowing in my discontent), it's far more constructive when I identify positive behaviors and channel any discontent towards those behaviors. MLK figured it out over 50 years ago, I'm figuring it out today, and you may have figured it out years before me.

But if it's new to you, or if you've forgotten, now is a pretty good time to start.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy Belated Father's Day!

Here's another gem from Team Vegas. This was produced a couple years ago by my friends at Canyon Ridge Christian Church. I meant to post it on Father's Day, but I was out of town. Better late than never, I guess. My new brother-in-law sent me this gem, though, so I figured I'd post this video in retaliation. I've shrunk this to fit on my blog, but it's really worth watching full screen. Multiple times.

Little-known fact: at one point, the folks at CRCC asked me to leave my job at the Yucca Mountain Project to come be the Director of Communication for the church. I was slightly underqualified, but they didn't have a ton of applicants. Then, out of nowhere, a new guy named Adam burst onto the scene and got the job. My discomfort with that lasted until I met him, at which point I knew that the church had made the exact right decision. He was way more qualified than I, on multiple levels.

For example, he's the one who drew this video.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Scary pictures

I just realized that the "About Me" picture on this blog is a little bit frightening. I jokingly attached it to my Google profile 4 years ago, and I never got around to changing it. Don't be afraid though... I'm really not a crazy television preacher. I just play one on TV.

This is really old... early 2006. I shot it late at night with Andrew Stephens, Clara Uwamu, and Jonathan Capelle. In case you can't tell, we were a little bit slap-happy by the end. Good times, good times.

Knowledge Acquisition Through Comic Books (Homeopathy and Vaccination edition)

This is cool. This guy writes explanations of scientific issues. Lots of people do that. But this guy does it with comics.

First up, Homeopathy. It's really good. After that, try Vaccination and Autism.

The vaccination one was especially interesting to me, since we had a lot of questions about vaccination with our kids. Here's a couple extra links:
  • Alison Singer, executive vice president of Autism Speaks, stepped down to form a new autism research group. Her reason for leaving? Despite study after study that showed no link between autism and vaccination (some of those studies by her own organization), Autism Speaks insisted on continuing to look for a link. Every dollar that goes towards this non-link is a dollar that won't go towards actually finding a cure.

  • Here's a study showing autism numbers aren't actually going up. Instead, what used to be diagnosed as "mental retardation" is now being more accurately diagnosed as autism. Actually, combined rates of retardation and autism have decreased in recent years, possibly due to better prenatal care.

More information on Wakefield here if you want it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


This is one of the cleverest things I've seen in ages. So great, so sweet, so smart. I want to be this guy.

Even people without cars need validation.

Friday, June 25, 2010

And now, your moment of the opposte of zen

Earlier today I was leading an outreach at VCC's Summer of Service. Before long I realized the group I was with was from Indianapolis, Indiana... the ancestral Odor homeland. A quick conversation made me realize they lived just a mile or so from where I grew up. This conversation followed:

ME: That's awesome. I lived right by there. Went to Lawrence North High School.

KID: Cool. That's where I'm going to go next year.

ME: Go Wildcats, right? I wonder if the teachers I knew are there... I graduated in 1998.

KID: I was born in 1998.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Here Comes Some Change

So, two big things happen tomorrow morning.

First, I turn 30. The Big Three Oh. I'm now no longer a twentysomething. Can you be a thirtysomething? Is that a thing? Anyway, that seems like a big deal. Another decade, take stock of life, etc.

The second thing that's happening tomorrow? I turn in my letter of resignation at my work (Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati, OH). My last day will be no later than Friday, August 20th. I say "no later" because we may end up moving earlier if I get a job that wants me sooner.

Yes, you're reading that correctly... I have not yet found a job. I'm leaving my current one without having anything lined up. Not that I'm unhappy at the Vineyard. Quite the opposite, actually. I love the church, love the people I work with, love the work, etc.

Nope, I'm leaving VCC because it won't be realistic to commute from Lexington, KY, where we'll be living when Judi starts her PhD in the fall. Not only did she get accepted to Asbury Seminary's Biblical Studies doctoral program (they only took 8 students this year, presumably 4 New Testament and 4 Old Testament), she also got an amazing scholarship. I'm ridiculously proud of her... she got into a VERY competitive program and will be going to school for free. Again.

No word yet on what I'll be doing. Corporate trainer? Chik-Fil-A manager? Bank teller? Manager at an Amazon warehouse? Work at a church? I have no idea.

I see the next chapter of life rapidly approaching, and it looks like it's gonna be a blast. But I'd be a liar if I said that change didn't make me nervous.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fixing the wireless on a Revo 3600

Keywords: Acer Aspire Revo AR3610-U9022 Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Wireless Chipset Realtek RT2860STA

Both of my regular readers can safely ignore this. I've traced down an annoying problem and can't find the solution posted anywhere. This post is to document the solution for future Google searches.

I'm playing with a cool net-top box called the Aspire Revo 3600. It's a $300 desktop computer whose entire box is about the size of a large paperback. It's strong enough for general desktop use, packs a great GPU that lets it drive a high-def display over HDMI, uses almost no power, and is dead silent. Oh yeah: and it runs great with Linux.

Only problem is that there's a bug in the recently open-sourced wireless driver code, so when you boot it up for the first time you won't be able to find any wireless networks. Searching forums will lead you to download the source code for new drivers, recompile it, rip it out, try a different patchset, recompile it again, etc. Don't do that... you'll hate yourself. Instead, do this as root (sudo -s):

mkdir -p /etc/Wireless/RT2860STA/
touch /etc/Wireless/RT2860STA/RT2860STA.dat
service network-manager restart

That's all, ladies and gents. Try the veal, and don't forget to tip your waiter.

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's great to make mistakes

Or so I'm told. If I was ever to make a mistake, this might be relevant to me.
“We must expect to be making mistakes all the time. We must be content to fail repeatedly and to begin again to try to deny ourselves for the love of God…

We want to shake off the hateful thing that has humbled us. In our rush to escape the humiliation of our mistakes, we run headfirst into the opposite error, seeking comfort and compensation.

And so we spend our lives running back and forth from one attachment to another.

If that is all our self-denial amounts to, our mistakes will never help us.

The thing you do, when you have made a mistake, is not to give up doing what you were doing and start something altogether new, but to start over again with the thing you began badly and try, for the love of God, to do it well.

(Merton, Journals, Oct 7, 1949, II.372)

Actually, I make mistakes all the time, and I tend to do exactly what Thomas Merton says I shouldn't. I avoid the mistake and either seek comfort instead in people who tell me it wasn't really a mistake, or I go do something I'm good at so that I can feel good about myself.

Resolved: After doing something badly, I will do it again and try, for the love of God, to do it well.

I need some Growtivation

While cleaning out my neglected Reader feed (sidenote: holy cow does that stack up if you leave it alone for half a week), I found this gem:

Satire should cause readers a little pain, instead of nudging them to laugh at people they already hold in contempt.

In the spirit of true satire, then, I offer this:

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

It hurts because it's true. Observant and/or culturally savvy readers will be aware that this video is shamelessly stolen from a far more well-made piece of work:

So... the church video is an inferior rehash of a pop culture phenomenon? I don't think I've ever seen that happen before.

Still hurts because it's true.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Signs of the Apocalypse: Slap Chop Rap

Hey, it's not every day that you get to reference the culinary genius that is the Slap Chop while you're talking about the book of Revelation. Good times, good times.

Here's the video:

And here's me:


Correction: I said that the idea of the Rapture started in the late 1800s, but as soon as I got off the stage, Jim Zartman pointed out that it was actually 1806. Way off.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Poly Ticks

So our Hot Topics (Topix?) series continues apace. Last week (4-15) we talked about politics, it being tax day and all. I figured my message would frustrate some people, but I didn't get many nasty letters. Either the people able to be frustrated have already bailed on me or it went better than I thought. Judge for yourself.


Then, in a curious twist of fate, right before I posted this I saw one of the guys I highly respect wrote something similar in his blog. I know great minds think alike, but I'm not sure what that has to do with Joe and I.


My main point was that getting too interested in politics is tricky because politics is ultimately an expression of power, and it's impossible to chase after power while also chasing after a servant's heart.

I really wanted to make this joke during my talk, but I figured only one person in the room (Doug) would get it, so I left it alone. I need more hardcore nerds at the Lift.

EDIT: My clever introduction got cut off by the recording equipment. Just pretend that I said something witty.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Go Team Vegas!

A great video to go with a great song.

Actually, it's kind of a weird song. The primary line ("You give and take away") is taken from the book of Job, which is always an awkward place to pull theology from (since God disagrees with most of the statements in the book). I don't believe that every apparently bad thing in life is God "taking away" or that every apparently good thing is his "gift."

That's beside the point, though. The core issue expressed in the song is one I can get behind: loving my God no matter what my circumstances. For better or worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, my love is not based on my situation.

EDIT: And once again, Blogger cuts off half of the video. If I posted on here more frequently I'd probably have already moved to Wordpress or something. Click through to see the whole thing or to see an absolutely great video channel.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Literally Ironic

So I get home from the Lift, where I taught on the Bible (what it's for, why it's important, what the main story is, etc). I also talked quite a bit about why I don't like the word "literally" especially as it relates to the Bible: the word's so misused and misunderstood that it doesn't help us be clear in what we're saying. I don't believe that Jesus was a literal person, I think he was a historical person... he actually existed in history, not just literature. Nobody says that Abe Lincoln was "literally" President.

AAAANYWAY. I got home and checked my Reader, and what do I see? Perfect synchronicity!

NOTE: This doesn't display well in blogger. Click the picture to see the whole thing. Or subscribe in Google Reader or something.


If you've not browsed the entire archives of the brilliant webcomic XKCD, you should go do that right now. Or maybe just watch this a few times and hum it for the next four days. Whatever. I'm not here to judge.

Incidentally, if you want to hear the rest of my crusade against the word "literal" you're welcome to give it a listen:


Now if I could just convince a few people that rain on your wedding day isn't actually an example of irony, I could consider it an evening well-spent.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Easy 5-Minute Pecan Monkey Bread

We had this for breakfast and might make it for dinner too. Grands Biscuits are on sale for a dollar this week, meaning I should be able to grab half a dozen for free (with coupons).

1 pie pan
1 roll of Grands biscuits
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
cinnamon (whatever looks right)
Pecans (I have no idea how many)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Put butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar in a bowl and nuke for 20 seconds. Mix.
3. Crush/dice pecans into bottom of ungreased pie pan. I didn't really measure, I just kept adding until the pan had a thin layer across the bottom. Pour in the butter/sugar concoction.
4. Open biscuits. Using kitchen shears, cut each biscuit into quarters and add to the pie pan. 1 container of biscuits should fill pie pan almost perfectly.
5. Bake at 400 for 11-13 minutes. Let cool slightly, then invert into a cookie sheet.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Regret Minimization

Insert witty and/or sappy introduction here.

This is the dude who started Amazon... he's kind of a big deal.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My blog, now with 80% less content!

Hey, at least I'm actually updating. So what if I'm shamelessly stealing the most amazing stuff on the internet.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Church is On The Move

Somehow that statement will never quite have the same meaning ever again for me.

This is a great little piece of moviemaking... the well-set-up shots, the heavy use of tilt-shift, the awesome choral number, the fact that the church actually drives in front of the lyrics, etc.

The theological issues are more troubling, if you care to think that way: moving the "Church" (I'm ignoring the building/body issue because it's too obvious) over a hundred miles just to "keep it safe for eternity." Nothing about mission, nothing about engaging the culture, nothing about anything except "keeping it safe." Yowza.

But if I'm really being honest, I have to admit I don't care about the theological issues. It's just a good excuse to show a great video.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Everyone has things they're good at and things they're not.

Everyone's list is different.

I'm strong at problem-solving (among other things) and weak at delegation (among other things). You're strong at some things and weak in others. The process of moving from weak in a skill to strong in it--the process of moving from incompetence to competence--has four stages. It might sound simplistic, but it's been a useful approach for me.

1. Unconscious incompetence - You're bad at this and don't even know it.
2. Conscious incompetence - You're bad at this but are aware of it.
3. Conscious competence - You're good at this because you're aware of it.
4. Unconscious competence - You're good at this without thinking about it.

There are plenty of things you do where you're a 4 already... you're good at this without thinking about it. What about the stuff where you're a 1, though? What do you do about that?

As I said, delegation is hard for me. It's not something that comes naturally... my natural approach is to do everything myself. That works great if you're trying to lead 2 people, or 20. 200, not so much. For 2000 (the number of individuals hypothetically under my care) it's a train wreck. So this is an area where I'm really trying to get better.

After 4 years in this role, I've finally moved solidly out of stage 1. I'm not good at delegating and I'm aware of it. It doesn't come naturally, but at least I'm no longer in denial.

I've begun, over the past 18 months or so, to move well into stage 2. Now I'm conscious of my lack of competence. I've begun to have times where I'll think to myself "If I was good at delegating, this is probably something I'd delegate." I've begun asking myself the question "If I was good at delegating, what would I do in this situation?" Sometimes I know the answer and sometimes I don't. When I don't, I try to find out (by reading about it, my sitting and thinking it through, by experimenting, or by talking to someone who IS strong in this area). Once I have an idea of what someone might do who's good at delegating, I try to do those things, no matter how unnatural they feel. It's not natural for me to give away anything critical, but that doesn't mean it's not the right thing to do.

I have faith that at some point, my awkward attempts to delegate will begin to bear some fruit. By mimicking the behaviors of competence, I will at some point begin to look (from the outside, at least) like someone who can delegate effectively. Internally, of course, it still won't be natural. I'll be like the kid shooting a free throw for the first time, standing in front of the hoop and repeating to myself: "Feet on the line, shoulder-width apart, two dribbles, line up my hand on the seam, deep breath, bend my knees, ball to the shoulder, straighten up, shoot, motion in the wrist, follow through." But if the ball goes in the basket then it's a success, no matter how unnatural it feels at first.

Eventually, the pattern of behavior will become so ingrained that I'll be able to do it without thinking. Like a muscle memory whose steps are programmed into my brain through repetition, I'll just think to myself "delegate this" and the steps will come naturally. I'm not anywhere close to this yet, but I know I'll get there someday.

So what are you good at (a natural 4)? And what things could you be better at? This progression really works in a wide variety of settings... from cooking to conflict management. Give it a try... the behaviors of competence can be learned, and you can learn them.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Getting my head straight: It's really an honor

Today I tried to walk (with a new friend) from the Atrium at church to my office. I bet I got stopped 20 times by people I know, and almost none of them were just "Hey Micah good to see you." Over half where "Thanks for your voicemail I'll call you back tomorrow" or "Hey did you get my email" or "Are we still on to meet this week" or something like that. I've kind of taken for granted the number of people I interact with in a given week, but as I walked with someone who barely knows me, I was absolutely stunned at how bizarre this must look. It felt like every person in the hallway wanted to talk to me.

Recently I've felt burned out by the amount of communicating I've been doing. My level of connection is the highest it's ever been. I've always been the crazy extrovert in my social circle, so it takes a lot to max me out relationally. Recently, though, I've been there. That's a big part of the reason this blog has been neglected... I didn't want people to think "What, he has enough time to blog but not to respond to my email?"

This afternoon, as I sat in my office and tried to catch up on email, voicemail, and messages of all kinds (I've gotten a dozen calls or texts since getting to my desk), God really pushed home the point that it's an honor to be involved in the lives of so many people I care about. I've been badly behind on my communication for a month now, which makes me feel like a failure for big chunks of my day. And I'm not denying that I need to do a better job at keeping everything going.

But for the rest of the day, I'm going to forget all of that, and just focus on what a privilege it is to have so many people care about me, and so many people allow me to be a part of their lives. It's really amazing that someone as awkward as me can have so many people in my life.

Now, back to that email. Let's see if I can clear out one more folder before I go home.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Much better than Transformers

Oh. Yeah. Baby.

It might even have a decent script, but I won't care. And I usually care about such things. But it's not like the original series wasn't a WEE bit formulaic itself. So I doubt the reboot will suffer much.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Free as in Freedom

Working my way into our next teaching series.

This is from Hafiz, a Sufi poet from the 14th century.

The small man
Builds cages for everyone
He Knows.
While the sage,
Who has to duck his head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
For the

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I recently checked my list of drafts and discovered that I have over a dozen brilliant posts that never got quite completed. Apparently I'm better at starting projects than finishing them. Shocking.

A couple of bookkeeping points, and then a question for both of my readers. First point: I have a new post up over at The Theology of the Tweak. Check it out. Second point: my lovely wife has ended her old blog and started a new one. Check it out.

So, I've got two rants ready to go. Which one do you want? The one about how Pat Robertson and the Emergent Village are exactly the same? Or the one where I dismantle the "Merry Christmas is better (and more spiritual) than Happy Holidays" meme?