Friday, August 25, 2006

Wes' Request

We has made a request for our favorite modern novels or books of poetry. You can e-mail him at or post it on his sight. I have to give it some thought. There are a few books I may have in mind and will post it shortly.

posted by Out Of Jersey | 6:51 AM | 1 comments

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Book Tag

I got tagged by Reforming Slacker so here are my answers:

1. One book that changed your life

I know this is an obvious answer. No other book has meant more to me.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once –

Though I am mostly done with my Vonnegut phaze I can't get enough of this novel. I even went and saw the movie in the theater. It still moves me to this day. I think I'm over due for a read.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island - See number one, it's the only book that I can read over and over again non stop.

4. One book that made you laugh –

I can't get the image of him singing The Oscar Meyer Wiener Song as Billie Holiday. It is a riot. Plus his days as a performance artist. A classic.

5. One book that made you cry –

I felt wiped out after reading this book. I could hardly believe how things had turned out.

6. One book that you wish had been written – How To Get Churches to Stop Sniping at Each Other And Come Back Together To God (Subtitle: That means you stupid, stop your Sniping!)

7. One book you wish had never been written – Many of the books I read in my late teens and early 20's. They didn't help me in understanding God or His will for my life. Just made me focus on myself more instead of Him.

8. One book you’re currently reading –

My fourth or fifth attempt at this book. I get a little farther each time. In this case I joined a reading group that is going to spend the next year going through the book. That should be around the right speed for me.

Along with the companion:

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read – The list is too long for me to have just one. I can't do it. There is one book coming out in a month that I am especially looking forward to getting.

Tagged: Millinerd, Left Cheek, My Irrationalities, Wilmer and anyone else who may want to do it.

posted by Out Of Jersey | 7:14 PM | 8 comments

Music Fan

Your Taste in Music:
80's Alternative: Highest InfluencePunk: Highest InfluenceSka: Highest Influence80's Pop: High Influence90's Alternative: Medium Influence
Got this one from Carmel. No real suprises. Don't worry Too Lively, I'll do the book tag shortly.

posted by Out Of Jersey | 6:53 AM | 0 comments

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Greatest Band Of All Time

It was watching this performance on Saturday Night Live that made me a huge fan of the Pogues. Probably my favorite band to this day. This song is from their album Peace and Love.

posted by Out Of Jersey | 8:33 PM | 5 comments

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Madonna Gets Crucified, Rick Warren Saves The World, And a Ramsey Finds Some Peace

I am greatful that Lutheran Zephyr has saved me the trouble of having to think too hard about Madonna. Seriously, what has she done lately except bit by bit destroy Guy Ritchie's talent? I am not impressed by anything she has done. She tries waaaaaay too hard to be controversial.

Rick Warren is going to be spotlighted on Fox News this weekend. I have to admit, I am intrigued and will hopefully catch it.

And I hate to admit, for years I felt the same way this guy did about Patsy Ramsey.

posted by Out Of Jersey | 7:31 PM | 3 comments

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Newest Cube Heads

It has been a while since I've done this. After a summer of trying to figure out if I were glorifying God by keeping this blog or not and a falling out between myself and another blogger with a lot of stupidity on both of our parts I went through my blog role to clean it up a bit. Get rid of ones I hadn't really read all that often or had fallen by the wayside for various reasons. I also took a cue from one of my newer cube heads to have a trial run of blogs I had discovered. Many are culled and few are chosen. I try to choose blogs that not only do I want to read, but to try and find ones you'd like to read. So here are a few of the newest cube heads.

  • Lutheran Zephyr - besides stealing his idea to have a trial run, he has the distinction of being a fellow Philly guy he is a beef vegetable stew of personal warmth and intellect. It didn't hurt that he's a Phillies Fan.
  • Strange Culture - a person after my own heart. He really does look at the strangeness of culture. He is well rounded and quite knowledgeable throwing a lot of good stuff my way.
  • Metal Dad - proof positive that cool doesn't die with age, marriage, or children. He is the man. And brilliant to boot. An intellectual metal head. Isn't that supposed to be an oxymoron? In his case, no.
  • Left Cheek - I should have added this guy a long time ago. It is just slacking that kept him from being made a full fledged cube head. Wit and intelligience are a dangerous combination. He comes out with both barrels.
  • For God, Family and Republic - another slacking on my part. He manages to keep three blogs going (which can reached on his main blog) when I can barely manage to keep one going. He's humbling.
  • Religious Liberal - Egadz! Has the cube rev become a liberal!!?? Don't worry I haven't left my politically agnostic ways. It's good to see what other believers are saying.
  • Don't Eat Alone - Food and poetry, what a great combination. One warms the heart, the other the spirit.
I welcome these newest members to the Cubisphere with all rights and privileges attatched hereto. You'll receive your ID cards in the mail shortly. Send them some cube love.

posted by Out Of Jersey | 6:48 PM | 10 comments

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Doodling in the Pew Hymn Book

We had a very a-typical day at church. The worship leader was away which meant someone else had to take his place. He does a good job. Though in my mind it doesn't matter what type of music is used for worship as long as it's done for God's glory. Also the pastor and the youth pastor were on vacation. Who does this leave to give the sermon? Who shall take the pastor and youth pastor's place when they are unable to speak? One of the elders was chosen. An older member of our congregation, a man who's been around the evangelical block more than his few times, who felt God had laid on his heart for about a year on not letting Humanism corrupt society. Admittedly, this is a message we have all heard before. How the humanists have taken God out of school, how christianity has lost its way, and we lost our moral compass. I'm not going to lie, when he started to go down the laundry list of America's ills I had a difficult time paying attention. I wasn't the only one. In front of me one person played a game on his phone and another read. Behind me several people were talking. It got annoying. I got quite angry at all of these people. We should be listening to the word of God in order to test the spirits in order that we may be doers of the word. I am forgetting about the plank in my own eye. I have dozed off, doodled, and let my mind wander more often than not. If only the messages were always timely, or spoke on how I may have a better life, or whatever. No. Perhaps not. Aren't we supposed to have a reverence for the word of God?

posted by Out Of Jersey | 1:40 PM | 8 comments

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Atheism Turns Hateful

I am not one to usually cry wolf. Most of my experience with people who disagree with me has been at the very least civil. Until I found a new version of hangman on an atheist web site. I have never noticed such hatred towards the people of the church before. At least, not in America. Pray for the hearts of our brothers that they may come to know Him.

For the time being I'll just stick to playing a different game. Hat tip to Samantha Burns.

posted by Out Of Jersey | 3:27 PM | 7 comments

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Poetry Thursday - The Ghazal Take 2

Last month I posted a poem I wrote in a poetic form known as a ghazal. We asked me who I'd recommend who wrote in this form. There are many great poets who have used the form over the past millenia. Rumi who has been widely translated, but didn't write solely ghazals and Ghalib who is much lesser known and sadly not as widely translated. There are a few books I go to time and again when I am feeling in the mood for a ghazal fix:

Agha Shaid AliCall Me Ishmael Tonight: A posthumous collection of ghazals written by one of the best poets of his generation. He died way too soon. His love for poetic form isn't just academic. All of the poems in this collection are meditative and deeply spiritual. I use his works as a guide for my own for he attempts to use poetry to explain what can't always be put into words. There is a modern myth that writing in fixed form is confining and restrictive. Ali liberates the poems through form.

Agha Shaid Ali, ed. -- Ravishing Disunities: One of my favorite anthologies. Ali selected a who's who of poets who best utilized the ghazal like: W.S. Merwin, Dianne Ackermann, Paul Muldoon, & Marilyn Hacker. Though all of the work is pretty strong it can get tired at times. It also lacks the faith based core which makes Ali's work so transcendent.

Robert BlyThe Night Abraham Called To The Stars: Robert Bly is the Bob Dylan of poetry. You never know what he is going to offer with each book. He focuses on translation for one volume, then he writes nothing but prose poems, ending with poems he wrote each morning before breakfast. I can't keep up with him which is good because it keeps his work fresh. He manages to put out a consistent body of work. Though I wish he'd stay in one place long enough for me grasp what it is he is trying to do with his work. I am wary to include this book because he plays looesy goosey with the form. He takes liberties with several poems to make them not strictly ghazals. I include it because he was willing to go beyond the definition to claim the form as his own.

The poem I chose is a looser version of the Ghazal. I do not know when the stricter form came into play. Either way, this is a brilliant poem. I love how he writes himself into the poem.

The Clay Cup

If King Jamshid's diamond cup breaks, that's it.
But my clay cup I can easily replace, so it's better.

The delight of giving is deeper when the gift hasn't been demanded.
I like the God-seeker who doesn't make a profession of begging.

When I see God, color comes to my cheeks.
God thinks -- this is a bad mistake -- that I'm in good shape.

When a drop falls in the river, it becomes the river.
When a deed is done well, it becomes the future.

I know that Heaven doesn't exist, but the idea
Is one of Ghalib's favorite fantasies.

posted by Out Of Jersey | 6:19 PM | 2 comments

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Wrestling To Know God

Jacob wrestled with God through out the night by the river side saying he will not let go until he gets the Lord's blessing. That about describes how I wrestled with knowing God. I have been up and down the theologic spectrum. To seek after God is an incredible joy. There should be a warning that along the way we may get knocked around and hurt.

Many well meaning people try to help, but in their well meaning we can be lead astray. How many times in the Gospels did you see the people who come to Jesus completely missing who He really is? It happened to the apostles on more than one occasion, even after viewing the risen Christ. As I listen to a lot of preachers and read a lot of books I am stuck with either all sunshine without consequences or nothing but judgment. You can't turn around without getting an either/or perspective of who God is.

Most recently I finished reading Brennan Manning's The Ragamuffin Gospel”. There is a little bit of controversy surrounding Brennan. Theologians have attacked him saying he's a universalist (which he denies in the last section of book), or whatever. There is no wonder since he focuses entirely on grace and how God loves us even at our worst. He never discusses judgment or whether you have to accept Christ as your Lord and be Born again. At least not in this book. Sadly, his one sided view can invalidate his message in my people's minds just as Jerry Fallwel's message is lost.

I do not want to become a legalistic person or one so blinded by grace that I lose God's true nature. These are gross over-simplifications with a limited measure of truth. To quote Tony Campolo it is like we are are like mixing manure with ice cream. Once we pick out the turds (thank you Colbert) we at the very least can begin to sort out who our True God is. Where is the God of wonder, the God who brings us to our knees and makes us want to do nothing but praise and worship Him?

AW Tozer'sThe Knowledge of the Holy” Is a much more balanced look on the nature of God. He says:

I think it might be demonstrated that almost every heresy that has afflicted the church through the years has arisen from believing about God things that are not true, or from overemphasizing certain true things as to to obscure things equally true. To magnify any attribute to the exclusion of another is to head straight for one of the dismal swamps of theology; and yet we are all constantly tempted to do just that.

For instance, the Bible teaches that God is love; some have interpreted this in such a way as to virtually deny that he is just, which the Bible also teaches. Others press the Biblical doctrine of God's goodness so far that it is made to contradict His holiness. Or they make His compassion cancel out His truth. Still others understand the Sovereignty of God in a way that destroys or at least greatly diminishes His goodness and love.

I do not see a book like this being written today. Do not read it if you want to feel good about yourself or think God'll give you goodies for praying a certain prayer. You will get a reclaimed understanding of the omnipotence, omniscience, and self-sufficiency of God. Our heavenly father who does love us in spite of our sins, though there are times he will punish us out of love.

Dahli's 'The Last Supper' is rarely considered whenever
you mention his artwork. Though this work has a new age
feel it still has this loving and transcendent quality. Christ and God
are elevated above man, yet still very much a part of humanity.
Who'd have thought a work like this would come from such a character.

The majesty and wonder of God is an important aspect of our faith. Tozer comments on the loss of majesty is just as valid today:

I refer to the loss of the concept of majesty from the popular religious mind. The Church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low, so ignoble, as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshiping men.

posted by Out Of Jersey | 7:44 AM | 5 comments