Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Trojan Horse

Anastasia Goodstein noted this little gem the other day. NPR has basically an op-ed saying that tossing the Trojan is the new engagement ring. Perhaps but I'm not sure that there is a lot of data to support what the young man is contending.

Regardless, it seems to me that the very idea of Trojan or not seems to miss the point of what Pendarvis Harshaw calls "healthy sexuality." Regardless of how Trojans actually got their name, I think there is a least an allusion to the infamous Trojan horse. Trojans protect the "city" from the little "soldiers" inside. Absent the Horse and the little soldiers run amok. The sign of healthy sexuality, at least for most time and places, is not that pregnancy doesn't occur but that it can occur because the partners are in a life long committed relationship that can support the birth of a new person. So I agree with Harshaw that couples should ditch the Trojans but they shouldn't do it because they are sure their partner doesn't have STD. They should do it because they are serious about committing to children in their future. I know that sounds old fashioned and naive but I think that to not hold couples to a standard based on the potential children rather than their own pleasure is to denigrate the challenge and hope of children while raising people with a self centered ethic.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Facebook growing up

I'm not a fan of MySpace because of the chaos. I can't read people's pages. I know some like creative anarchy but not me. That's why I'm a Facebook guy. I'm also a fan of new changes that are apparently coming regarding the spamming of apps and the amount of information that goes out on my feeds. Seems like it isn't real yet but you can preview here.

This should be a boon for folks like me who want to be friendly with my students and youth in my congregation but who also want to be an adult. Controlling these features will allow me, and them, to protect themselves while still interacting.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Printing Press

In line with the last post, for the geeks out there fascinated with the rise of the book as a model of how new media emerges in society, there is a series of videos on Gutenberg. I found them at Tall Skinny Kiwi. They aren't short bits so prepare to spend a little while watching them. Give up a re-run of something to watch a documentary.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Marko put me onto this website

Besides being quite cool in their own right, these images remind me of the remediation effect of old media being transformed by new media so that the old is not exactly the same but the new still depends on the old. When print first came into existence the type faces all looked like cursive writing because readers were not used to fonts such as Times New Roman. New, the printing press, transformed old, hand writing, into something that was different yet the same. For me, this is especially pronounced in video where the first standard TV shows looked like plays. Now, the old medium of plays has been sufficiently remediated to come into its own as a new form. Web 2.0 is further remediating that new form. The cycle continues.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bustin' a Sag goes personal

A while ago I noted this article about youth pastors trying to stay hip past their younger years. In general I know that I'm not hip so this has not really caused me a problem. Recently however, my brother gave me some shoes that may push me into the bustin' a sag territory. Can I wear these shoes?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Web 2.0

In the waning days of my time here at St. Andrew's I'm doing some culture workshops with parents. I've been struggling to be relevant and practical but I think that it is working in general. I showed them this video last week and then we debriefed it. I was amazed at how connected I am. I had never reflected on the integration of the different forms of media that I use are. I do not use flickr which seems to be the biggest void in my media consumption. If you haven't seen this, certainly worth the 5 minute watch.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Christians and Torture

My friend Phil recently sent me a link to a documentary that appeared on CBC. Perhaps because I'm moving back to the States, I was interested enough to listen. I"m glad that I did.

We arrived in Princeton the first time in September 2000. I stayed up all night to experience my first presidential election with real live Americans. That didn't work out so well. A year later Vivian was in Manhattan on 9/11. Still somewhat shell shocked by being aliens and newly alienated by our host country, the invasions started. First Afghanistan then Iraq. I remember arguing passionately that this was a mistake, that America shouldn't do it. We loved our time in America but it was a difficult time for us. We struggled to reconcile our great Christian friends with a country that could allow and perpetrate atrocities like Abu Ghraib.

This documentary is about a young man who is both an intensely devoted (and orthodox) Christian and an interrogator at Abu Ghraib. I won't spoil it but listen to it. This is especially important for youth pastors as they are the ones who should be having these kinds of conversations with young people. This guy entered the reserves at 17 and wore his dress uniform to his prom. That sounds like youth ministry to me.

Short Term Missions

Tall Skinny Kiwi has a quality response to a good article on short term missions. I'm posting this mostly for folks at St. Andrew's who are about to send a group to Winnipeg. Many of the 10 things that TSK talks about, St. Andrew's is doing. In the ongoing discussion around where mission at a denominational level should go, I think articles like this should add substantial grist to the mill.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Definitely, Not

I don't watch tons of movies in theaters these days with two kids and all. I happened to have rented this little romantic comedy so that my wife would watch it with me (she's not so big on No Country For Old Men or The Savages, two other recent viewings).

It was good as far as these things go. There are three women who are real characters who could all possibly be "the one" that the male lead has his daughter with. It keeps you guessing and interested. That is the "definitely" part.

The "not" part however is the way that the movie treats divorce. I understand divorce happens and that no one involved started their marriage hoping for it to happen. My issue is not with the divorce. My issue is with the way that the child is portrayed as not suffering any ill effects from the dissolution of her parent's marriage. The story arc could go towards a reconciliation, clearly the desire of the child, but it doesn't. That is likely realistic. When the arc doesn't go for reconciliation because the male has always loved another more than the girl's mother and the child endorses this enthusiastically, I think we are in some sort of guilt induced delusion. The girl expresses close to no empathy with her mother and is excited about her father's realization that he never loved her mother as much as he does someone else.

If you feel guilty because you want your child to endorse your decisions regarding divorce and past loves but know that there is no realistic way for that endorsement to happen, this is your movie. Otherwise, go to the vault and get When Harry Met Sally. No kids involved there.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


I came across this bit recently. I don't normally get involved in PC(USA) politics and am not qualified to comment directly on this issue except to say that this is one of my fears in the PCC. Without pointing fingers, the whole Trinity (Oro) / Connexus thing needs to be looked at otherwise we as a denomination could potentially be headed for similar tragedies.

Perhaps others who read this will have more knowledge of the actual motion but I think that the general principle applies - there are good ways of dealing with conflict and bad ways. Sucking up thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting about physical buildings seems to me to be a bad way of dealing with conflict, especially when you consider that the call of the Gospel is to go forth into the world as peacemakers, feeding the hungry and loving the unlovable.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Does Google Make Us Stoopid?

As some of you know I am an inveterate reader of the Atlantic Monthly. This month Guy Billout writes a brilliant article on the role of the Internet, specifically Google, in shaping the way we think. I'm all about thinking through these things. Shane Hipps gets at some of this stuff through the same path (Marshall McLuhan). Still, we need a lot more thinking on this as we struggle with a church that is Biblically illiterate. The argument goes that not only is the church Biblically illiterate, it is increasingly becoming just plain old illiterate.

The Film Club

I learned about The Film Club by David Gilmour while driving home from school some Monday. He was getting some award and I found the idea intriguing. Allowing your kid to quit school (something more parents should consider) and watch movies with you as their guide. The book was interesting. I read it in a day and so it could make an easy airplane read.

The brilliance of Gilmour's method is the third thing. People need a "third thing" to focus on so that they can enter into a relationship. I find this often with men and it may be why golfing is so popular. The trap is that we allow the third thing to bear the weight of a real relationship. The release however that we can find in looking through and past the third thing to each other is more than worth the potential trap. Gilmour succeeds in his attempt to reach Jesse, his son, through movies. He doesn't try to teach Jesse but rather to relate to him and he does so through a third thing near and dear to both of their hearts.

My beef with the book is that I don't really like the picture Gilmour paints of himself. My relationships with women bear little resemblance to his and if that sounds marginally critical, it is. His convoluted relationships with the myriad of women in his life may help him empathize with his son but I struggle to feel sympathetic towards his poor choices.

As well, there was nary a word about any sort of spiritual life. Neither Gilmour seems to have any interest in faith. Given the candidness about so much I don't think this is an omission of choice but rather an absence entirely of anything that could be characterized as religious in the Gilmour family. In the end I'm saddened that the elder Gilmour seems to hand on a legacy of tortured and torturing relationships with women to his son. Of course this legacy is handed on with the brilliance we might expect from a distinguished man of letters. It is not a legacy that I would like to hand on to my children however so while I will try the Film Club when they get older, our club won't happen in a spiritual vacuum.