Thursday, March 27, 2008

Do We Choose Our Church?


Does LZ make a good point? I hate to say it man, but I am not sure if I see this as serious as the Arminian Vs. Calvinistic argument. When I had painfully left my previous church I took about two years off of serious church attendance to decompress. After a while I new it was time for me to go back. I would never grow as a Christian if I stayed on my own being the lone ranger (as we called it back in the day). I visited quite a few churches in that day. Mostly independent non-denominational start-up seeker friendly services. Not quite what I was looking for. They were all good people. People I do believe, at least on a surface level, wanted to know God. Until I remembered visiting this Presbyterian church a number of years ago and kind of liking it. After visiting there a number of times I decided to become a member. The Arminian side of me wants to say I chose the church. It had a lot to offer, good preaching and music, friendly people, etc. But the Calvinistic side says the church chose me. There was a lot of need for me to serve there. They were coming out of a similar situation as my own and were hurting. Just like I was. Perhaps he is right. It isn't so easy that we choose a church. Sometimes we stay when it is difficult because we know over time God will lead us through it. Or the church will eventually seek to exist. Right now, I don't think I could leave my church even if I wanted to. Something would draw me back. Probably the Holy Spirit with the knowledge that a lot of great working is being done in God's name.

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posted by Out Of Jersey | 5:15 AM | 8 comments

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Rejected: Star Wars Merchandise


I have to admit my inner geek is sorry that these items didn't make it into production. Just from the corniness factor they'd be worth having. Though I have to admit some of those things would look nice sitting next to my Dalek action figure.

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posted by Out Of Jersey | 11:13 AM | 1 comments

Monday, March 24, 2008

Curb Your Enthusiasm




How on earth have I waited so long to catch Curb Your Enthusiasm? How can I have let this happen? I am so ashamed! The show is on it's fifth season and I finally watched the complete first season this weekend. And it has to be one of the painful comedies for me to watch. Almost everything that happens to Larry is so cringing I have to look away, but it is such a train wreck you can't help watching! He is living proof that no good deed goes unpunished. Even when he tries to do things that are right like attend an incest survivors group or help a blind man move his television it almost always goes badly. And not just mildly wrong either. When things go bad, they go really bad! And forget about trying to fix the situation. No one seems to give the poor guy a chance to make amends going for the throat and not letting go. I feel for the guy. I can relate to him. Any TV show that starts off the first episode with getting into an argument with your best friends new girl friend and then sitting with your wife's friend while your pants have an unfortunate bunching at the crotch. It's good stuff.

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posted by Out Of Jersey | 11:23 AM | 4 comments

Spiritual Disciplines: The Stations Of The Cross


I do not know if this actually qualifies as a spiritual discipline, but there was a qaulity to it that makes me wish I could do it more often. I belong to a protestant church so the fact we are actually doing our own version of the stations is interesting. What is sad is that I have already done our stations of the cross more times in the three years at my current church than I ever did as a Catholic. I remember Sister Margaret taking my CCD class around my church's sanctuary going over each of the beautifully wooden hand carved stations. I can't tell you all the time I stared at those pictures totally ignoring mass. It wasn't so much out of spiritual curiosity, but more for the fact that they were kind of gruesome and pretty cool to look at. Our protestantized version didn't offer images. Instead each station was an object that allowed us to touh, taste, and smell the life of Christ. It made it more tangible and real to feel the ropes that bound his wrists, smell the perfume used to annoint him, and eat of the bread from the last supper. At the center of it all was a giant wooden cross we had to nail a piece of paper with a sin to. It is amazing to how meditating on a few objects to coincide with the life of Christ can really make Him more real in our lives. I can't recall the last time Christ felt more personal and alive to me. It was such an act of worship. So powerful. I think if I were to do it more than a few times a year it wouldn't have as much meaning as it does now. Unlike prayer or worship this is such a unique opportunity that it can become trite and meaningless with over use. It is amazing. When I was younger I tried so hard to get away from the older styles of worship, but now I look forward to the opportunity it brings to my spiritual life.

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posted by Out Of Jersey | 5:18 AM | 1 comments

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Aslan Reigns Supreme!


You just can't keep a good lion down. In spite of the juggernaut Harry Potter has become and all the merchandise they have managed to squeeze out to poor unsuspecting parents (a chocolate frog about the size of a bite sized chocolate bar is about $3.00!) it looks like Aslan has pimp slapped some sense into Harry and taken his rightful place in the number one spot.

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posted by Out Of Jersey | 5:23 AM | 3 comments

Monday, March 17, 2008

Good Coffee, Good Food, Good Company, Good Music


Out of all due respect for that certain someone who works at Starbucks and Left Cheek who has been having not the greatest coffee going experiences I have to say I am completely spoiled. Not only have I had consistently worthwhile coffee houses in my past like Flashback Java Joint, Ebeneezers Old World Cafe, Three Been, The Tree House, and believe it or not Borders (before they started to suck!). I can now add Barrington Coffee House to that list. Seriously, I am spoiled. I can walk there in under ten minutes, the food is pretty decent, they make a great cup of coffee and aren't afraid to try a wide range of roasts, but the company is excellent as well. I hate to admit I am a bit slow on the uptake going there. I visited once or twice, but never got in the habit of going on a regular basis. Now with new owners who are just lovely people I try to get there at least once a week. And to top it off they tend to have performers who are more than worth their salt. That is another area where I am spoiled. I have seen people on national tours or get signed to major record labels. I saw Feist and a few other members of Broken Social Scene for $5 once several years before her major label album came out. And this time is no exception. Except this time I got to see two great performers for $8!



Milton

Never heard of the guy. Man am I sorry I haven't before. Though his CD's do not do his voice justice. He has a great husky voice that makes me wish he went a little more blusie at times. Putting that aside he still has written some great music. It isn't often you see someone accompanied with an upright base which made a good complement to his softer folky style. Like so many artists he has been performing for years, flying under the radar while touring the country. It is a shame guys like this do not get much air play. Especially when you take into account how long he has been in the business for.



Carsie Blanton

I was told she looked like Betty Boop. I can safely say that is very true. She is cuter than a bugs ear, writes sweet, jazzy pop tunes that I found myself tapping my toes to. Thankfully she hasn't been jaded by the music business which would ruin her wonderful disposition and style. She is coming out in the right moment as artists like Ingrid Michaelson and Feist pave the way for her to follow in their path when she'll be able to break off from the group and forge a path of her own. She is long over due for a secone album. And I have become such a dork that when I saw her walking through Philly recently I yell out, "You are Carsie Minor!!!" Doh!

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posted by Out Of Jersey | 11:50 AM | 1 comments

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Rant Against St. Patricks Day


For the love of all things wonderful in the Emerald Isle I cannot begin to tell all of you how much I hate St. Patricks day. Actually, it isn't the day that bothers me, it is all the people pretending to be Irish for a day to give them another excuse to get so drunk they puke green. I am offended in two ways. First as a person of Irish descent who loves his heritage and was fortunate to have a few friends teach me some of the finer beauties of the culture. Between the history, music, and literature there is enough wonderful things to keep me busy for the rest of my life. Many of the people have never of let alone paid attention to O'Casey, Kavanaugh, Keane, The Wolfe Tones, The Chieftains (my dad once got free tickets to see them live though he had no idea who they were, but that's another story), The Hot House Flowers...! They do not know the signifigance of wearing green, the shamrock, or tasted a trully fine porter or dram of whiskey.

I am also insulted as a Christian. Much like Santa Clause, St. Patrick was a very real person. He isn't associated with leprachauns or pots of gold. He was a man of God who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slaver on Ireland. Though he managed to escape he felt lead by God in a vision to go back to Ireland and serve the people who once held him as a captive. He was a believer who gave up comfort and wealth to do the will of his Father God, his anam-cara (soul friend), and a pagan culture living in darkness. And for the record, the shamrock is significant because St. Patrick used it to explain the trinity to the pagan elders.

St. Patrick's Life

The Confession Of St. Patrick

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posted by Out Of Jersey | 11:53 AM | 7 comments

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Auralia's Colors: A Review


Jeff Overstreet - Auralia's Colors

I am sorry Jeff. I really tried to like your book more than I did. I really wanted to like it more. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Was it a decently written book? Yes. Was it a better than average written first book? I'd say so. Will I read the next book? Sadly, I am a huge book snob. I am also a writer. So I tend to look at many books I read as a writer. I can recognize brilliant writing and praise it, but I also become very critical when I see things being done in the same old way. First for the positive:

1) I was entertained. It kept my attention and wanted me to finish the book. I didn't feel pissed off after i read it. I didn't feel like I got ripped off from buying the book. I was entertained. I kind of hope it'll be optioned for a movie.

2) A few parts of the book caught me by suprise. Anytime I can read a book and say to myself "Didn't see that coming" is a good thing and doesn't happen all that much.

Now the negative:

1) I felt like I read the story before. I don't see this as him trying to rip a story off, but I do see a lot of fantasy writers taking the same story and re-telling it. The nobody who is secretly meant for greatness. The tirent imposing his will on the lessers. Etc. The characters were of a typical archtype and I am getting a little bored with it. This is why I rarely read sci-fi or fantasy anymore because I know what to expect. The minute they say someone has disapeared from a time long ago you know sooner or later that person will show up eventually.

2) A friend of mine and I used to have a description for anything we read where it felt like a lot of hands had gotten into a piece of work and the language felt unnatural or over stated. We called it workshopped. We'd share a poem we read of someone elses and ask, "Is it just me or does that poem/story/whatever feel workshopped to you?" So many of metaphors felt overboard that it detracted from the story. They were almost too poetic to feel like they came from the authors true voice. And the cleverness of the creatures (fangbear, wyrm, vawn, etc.) was a bit much. Especially when I wasn't given an adequate description of them.

As I said Jeff, I like you and what you are trying to do. For a first book it's well done. Please keep writing. I think ultimately your work will become actualized.

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posted by Out Of Jersey | 11:31 AM | 1 comments

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

And To Keep Going With A Trend...


It seems the idea of Christians and movies has been getting more and more press lately. Here are a few more takes on the subject.

Religion and Ethics News Weekly has a report called God and Hollywood. Apparently in spite of the fact that Passion Of The Christ earned major bucks and Hollywood's promise to capitilize on the trend little has happened as a result. Most of the movies produced were either uninspired or straight to dvd crap.

This is an older post from Looking Closer, but I had completely forgotten about it. Can you guys name 20 recent films that portray Christians in a positive light? A few on his list, as usual, suprised me. Though he seemed to have left off The Big Kahuna. At least now when we see a Christian on TV they aren't only as a psychotic wacko.

Looking Closer also looks at the top ten most redeeming films of the past year.

And again from Looking Closer... A list of 100 Writers Of Faith.

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posted by Out Of Jersey | 5:14 AM | 0 comments

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Hollywood, Not A Christian Wasteland


BeliefeNet has a great post on who are the most powerful Christians in Hollywood. I have to admit that there are a few who suprised me.

And also look at the top films that have positive Christian Characters.

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posted by Out Of Jersey | 9:15 AM | 4 comments