Chick’s Medical Mystery Solved

08/31/2008, 12:30 pm -- by | No Comments

What caused this CODE BLUE?

If you picked “He went into shock after he was confronted with the truth about Jesus,” you’re a winner!!

Yes or no, turkey?!

©1984-2008 Chick Publications, Inc. Reprinted without permission as fair use (parody).

Clash of the Titans LXXXIX: Text Messages

08/29/2008, 1:00 pm -- by | 6 Comments

In this corner, opposing text messages, is Josh!

And in this corner, in favor of texts, is Steve!

Listen, I don’t hate texts, okay. And I’m not the parent in that cell phone ad that needs some smart aleck kid to show me how to send them. I actually enjoy receiving the occasional text, and rarely, when necessary or convenient, sending one. I’m willing to concede some usefulness. So calm those angry thumbs for a moment.

But here’s the thing: texts have become completely ubiquitous. They account for a ridiculous percentage of some people’s total communication. And they are not without their drawbacks.

First, there’s the cost. Many cell phone plans now offer an unlimited text option, which has at least helped to curtail the spiraling costs for those too oblivious to do so themselves. But this will still add a not insignificant fee to your monthly commitment. And for those not inclined to take this route, there will be a fee not only for texts they send, but also for those they receive, whether they want to hear from every clown in their address book or not.

I hear you. The cost is minimal. But the cost to the English language is catastrophic. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are all completely decimated. This so-called shorthand, first popularized in chat rooms and instant messages, is now pandemic, and an entire generation that spends so much time writing is — somehow — completely incapable of writing.

I get it. It’s hard to type on a phone, so shorthand is easier. I’m certainly no fan of pushing the same button up to three times to produce one letter: yet another reason I prefer to use my phone for talking. I like having actual conversations, raising the level of discourse somewhere above three letter quips and emoticons. I like actual human contact and real social interaction, yet I see people surrounded by readily ignored friends, heads down, thumbs blazing. No, thanks.

*click click click*

Oh, hi! I apologize — I was sending a text message to some of my friends, telling them the great news that Gov. Sarah Palin will be John McCain’s VP nominee! What a good example of the power of the text: rather than calling each of these people individually, possibly interrupting them, possibly being forced into making small talk we don’t have time for right now, instead I just typed out a little message (“Palin Palin Palin”), and viola! It was like my own little news broadcast!

What Lileks (I think; I can’t find the quote! I wish I’d texted myself) said is so true: text messaging is the closest thing we have to beaming thoughts directly into people’s heads. When my phone buzzes, I’m truly excited — there are all manner of interesting people in my contact list, and I can’t wait to see which one has fired a thought my way. Maybe an interesting observation, maybe a long-forgotten reference to a shared experience, maybe the continuation of a philosophical debate: whichever, whatever, I want to see it. I guess I’m sorry Josh’s friends are so boring.

Yet text messages are not intrusive (my phone never rings and I have an unlimited plan); if I’m busy, they wait. This is different from phone calls. Get a text and you can answer right away, wait, or let silence speak for you. Texts provide a combination of distance and familiarity that makes actual communication possible. There are no guarantees, no strings, no promises — just thoughts, beamed between minds.

I agree with Josh when it comes to “shorthand”; I hate it too. To me, the value of text messages doesn’t come just from their speed and utility (although my Qwerty keyboard is super-fast). No, I love how they combine the heft and clarity of the written word (like an email) with a natural limit, like a prose haiku! If you really want to communicate in a text, you have to seriously think about what you want to say and how best to say it. Something that helps us communicate better, faster, and more thoughtfully? Text me anytime!


Quote of the Day, 8/29/08

08/29/2008, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.” — M.L. King, Jr.

A Medical Emergency — Chick-Style!

08/28/2008, 5:00 pm -- by | 4 Comments


©1984-2008 Chick Publications, Inc. Reprinted without permission as fair use (parody).


Joke of the Day, 8/28/08

08/28/2008, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

How do you know a singer is at your front door?

Can’t find the key; doesn’t know when to come in.

Bible Discussion — Acts 5

08/27/2008, 1:00 pm -- by | 3 Comments

This week, progresses to the next chapter of Acts.

Genesis: 1-4 | 5-9 | 10-14 | 15-18 | 19-22 | 23-26
27-29 | 30-32 | 33-36 | 37-39 | 40-43 | 44-46 | 47-50
Exodus: 1-4 | 5-8 | 9-11 | 12-14 | 15-18
19-22 | 23-26 | 27-30 | 31-34 | 35-40
Romans: Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3 | Ch. 4 | Ch. 5 | Ch. 6 | Ch. 7 | Ch. 8 (I)
Ch. 8 (II) | Ch. 9 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15-16
Luke: 1:1-38 | 1:39-2:40 | 2:41-3:38 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
11 | 12 | 13 | 14-15 | 16-17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24
Esther: 1-2 | 3-5 | 6-8 | 9-10
Acts: 1 | 2 | 3-4

Much like Mike refers to in his reprinted article today, this time in the growth of the early church was dangerous — and exciting. The disciples had just seen with their own eyes the powerful example of the only One worth giving their lives for, and they were prepared to take whatever risks were necessary to tell the world.

For the first time I began to think about the motives of Ananias and Sapphira. Why sell the land, keep back part of the price — then give the rest to the church? How does the song go? “Say a prayer but let the good times roll — in case God doesn’t show.”

What if this doesn\’t work out? What if I don\’t love God’s people, or they don\’t love me? I need something to fall back on. Maybe this was not about the couple’s greed as much as it was being unwilling to sell out completely and throw their lot in with God’s people.

Maybe it\’s less about money and more about keeping your options open.

Perhaps this is an obvious point I\’ve just failed to notice, but I find it very interesting that the passage does not say that anyone killed Ananias and Sapphira. They simply fell down and died.

Gamaliel’s argument is a little odd. He gave examples of two men who tried to lead revolts and were killed as a result — I’m not sure why the other members of the Sanhedrin didn’t just say, “Uh, yeah, why don’t we kill these guys too?”

When Gamaliel gave his advice about leaving the apostles alone to see how things would work out in the long run, he mentioned Judas of Galilee from the days of the census, as an example of someone who amounted to nothing.

Did anyone else just automatically change that to Jesus of Galilee, keep reading, then say, “Hey, wait, what did he just say? Who the blinkers is Judas of Galilee?” To which Gamaliel would’ve replied: “Exactly!”

Chloe: Fallen Shadow
Steve: Colonnade
David: Healing Shadow
Josh: Jailbreak
Connie: Peter’s Shadow

Continued here!

Battle of the Bands LXVII

08/27/2008, 1:00 pm -- by | No Comments

Here’s the next group of band names from Acts — and the Esther band name finals!

Annas and the Sanhedrin moves on…




Best of Mike: Of Football, Falling Planes, and False Attachments

08/27/2008, 11:30 am -- by | No Comments

Originally published September 10, 2007.

Like all of us, I remember exactly where I was six years ago Sept. 11. Those were days while we were both in school, days before we had children, days for sleeping late. So I woke up around 8:15 or so and hopped in the car to the Acme to pick up my Daily News, which I planned to enjoy with a nice cup of coffee. I didn’t have the radio on, which I suppose was unusual. I went in and bought my Daily News (Bobby Abreu was on the back page and the Phillies had a crucial series with the Atlanta Braves coming up) and I saw some employees huddled around a TV. I left the Acme around 9, flipped on KYW News Radio, and it was obvious the world had changed forever. Mixed in with the grief and shock I felt that day was an emotion it has taken me six years to admit to myself, much less to any of you:

I felt alive.

Now, mind you, I don’t mean to say that I liked what was happening that day. But there was a sense on that day that, for the first time in my life, what I was living was real. There was a vitality to the day; when I went to the seminary where the students had a prayer meeting, I kissed Jill goodbye with more intention. The love I had for my colleagues was deeper, as we exchanged warmer hugs. The frustration I felt at some of my would-be prophetic colleagues for their easy answers was more than academic.

Perhaps I felt that for the first time in my life, I was part of something real. Perhaps, in fact, I felt so alive because I felt — maybe for the first time, really — that I might die.

The miracle of the day, or maybe not a miracle but common grace that God gives all of us, is that I was okay with that. I felt like I might die, but still I felt completely safe, like there was a life no terrorist could touch inside me. I felt like the course of my life was being altered by something enormous and world-shaking, that suddenly being a Christian was going to be a dangerous and underground thing again, and at the same time I felt completely assured that I would be okay as an alien and a stranger on this earth — or at home in heaven.

I still haven’t sorted out exactly why I felt that way on that day. But I think that it had something to do with the fact that, for the first time in my life, everything was up for grabs. For the first time, all the things that tied me down no longer had their power to bind. All the secret peace treaties I had drawn up with America — “You protect my body with military might and provide me with a prosperous land, and in return I’ll serve God” — all those treaties were now null and void because it became apparent that America could not keep them. I think I felt alive and safe in God on that day because everything but God was under threat.

Henri Nouwen wrote and spoke extensively about “false attachments.” A “false attachment,” for Nouwen, is when you give your emotions, your heart, to something which ultimately disappoints. In The Genesee Diary, Nouwen talks about how he so often allowed his spirits to rise and fall based on his number of speaking engagements, his perception of how others looked at him, and even whether or not he received mail. As he saw it, he allowed so many things to dominate his heart rather than the One who would free it to be all it could be. I think on September 11, 2001, for the first time, I saw my false attachments for what they really were — powerless to deliver the satisfaction I believed they would. Those terrorists intended it for evil, and indeed wrought great evil through it. Yet on that day, I think I saw what I will clearly see when the Kingdom comes in its fullness: I saw that all earthly kingdoms and peoples were powerless, and I saw that there is only One who is worthy to be attached to. This, I think, is why I felt fully alive.

Fast-forward six years to a time when I did not feel fully alive: Sunday’s Eagles-Packers football game. The Eagles are historically ill-prepared for season openers, and managed to lose a game to a vastly inferior Green Bay squad which spent most of the day unable to get out of its own way. And I was angry. In fact, I was so angry I watched the Giants-Cowboys game in hopes that somehow, someway, both teams would lose, or at least make each other miserable in the process. I wasn’t quite to the point of hoping that players got injured, but I was actively hoping to see some disappointment. The Giants scored an early touchdown on a long pass to Plaxico Burress, but then they botched the extra point and their punter got squashed in the process. This was good, as I saw it, because everyone was disappointed.

I wondered today how things have changed in the last six years, a full fifth of my life. All I know for sure is that today I am still experiencing residual anger about the capricious bounces of a football, while six years ago I felt alive even though planes were falling all around me. This is the power of false attachments, and to be honest, I have no idea when they came back. I have no idea how I got here; I have no idea when exactly I signed away my birthright for this mess of pottage. All I know is that false attachments creep back in when no one is looking, and if we are not vigilant against them, we are complicit in their power over us.

May God save us, his people, from false attachments; and may it not happen through terror, but through a re-birth only his Spirit can provide.

Quote of the Day, 8/27/08

08/27/2008, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“One cannot think truly about a story with which one is not sympathetically engaged. Love is sometimes blind, but contempt is always blind.” — Fr. R.J. Neuhaus

Once Upon A Time (Part Six)

08/26/2008, 10:30 am -- by | 4 Comments

Read part one, part two, part three, part four, and part five! Or read the entire story, all at once, here!

All activity ceased. Suddenly every single human being was staring in the prince’s direction, her eyes wide and her breath held. The prince froze, as well, waiting for the women to attack him.

The nearest woman knelt by his side and cooed, “What\’s the matter, deary?” and clutched him to her buxom bosom.

The prince detached himself from the woman and cleared his throat. “I — I need to see”¦” he chose his words carefully, heeding the dragon\’s words. “I need to see the lady with the magical powers.”

And so it was that the young and dashing prince found himself in the presence of the great and terrible sorceress Vashti, who had stolen away all the women of his kingdom. “Can I help you?” the villainous Vashti asked.

She didn\’t look like a sorceress. She looked like a rather ordinary middle-aged woman dressed up like a man, just come in from her gardening. What\’s more, her throne — for she was the president of the government, which the prince\’s guide called a “democracy” — was not very majestic. It looked more like a desk.

The prince cleared his throat awkwardly. He had more expected to battle the sorceress in the bowels of the earth, his sword against her spells, or perhaps on a vast plain, his skill against her cunning. Instead he was in an office, having been relieved of his weapons before entering. “No need for these barbarities,” the guard had said, picking the things up with her fingertips and grimacing before tossing them in a pile of other weapons. The prince had assumed the other weapons belonged to other noble princes who had fought and courageously died for the sake of their womenfolk. Perhaps he would join their ranks today, though he didn\’t particularly want to. He preferred to return home in time for some soup.

The prince cleared his throat a second time. “Where have you put the women you stole from me and my father\’s kingdom?”

“My father\’s kingdom and me. The pronoun is always last,” President Vashti corrected, then looked down at a memo on the desk. “What did you say your name was?”

“I am Prince Charming of the —”

“Oh, yes.” She cut him off. “Your father is a dirty lying scumbag.”

“You will not speak of my father with disrespect, woman!” the prince roared, reaching for his sword and grasping air.

“Woman?” the woman repeated, not even rising from her seat but succeeding in making the prince tremble with the look in her eyes. “I am President Vashti to you, worm. And don\’t you forget it.”

“Yes, ma\’am.”

“As I said, your father is a dirty lying scumbag. The fact of the matter is, we got so sick and tired of dealing with you idiots that we left. We warned you, but you never believed us, called us your little women, told us not to worry our pretty little heads, ordered us back to our hearths and to hush the baby. Meanwhile, you ran the country into the ground with your greediness, licentiousness, and plain stupidity — honor, you called it. So we packed up in the middle of the day, right in front of your gaping faces, and we left. So you can go back and tell your father, young man, that we\’ll be back when we damn well please!”

There was a little cheer from a guard in the hall. The prince stared at President Vashti and said, “Mother?”

The president stood and tidied her papers before straightening her vest and striding from the room. “Evil sorceress, indeed,” she muttered.

When the prince arrived back at the castle, admitting a sound defeat at the hands of the guileful sorceress, he gave his father and the whole kingdom a detailed account of his heroism and courage, then delivered the terrible news that the women had developed a highly successful society and intended to peacefully take over their country within the week.

At these foreboding tidings, the king said, “Man, that woman is stubborn,” and continued gnawing dejectedly on his beef jerky.

Joke of the Day, 8/26/08

08/26/2008, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

What do you get when you drop a piano down a mineshaft?

A-flat minor.

The Council’s Ruling — News Source

08/25/2008, 5:00 pm -- by | No Comments

This and every Monday, the Bweinh!tributors, having convened in secret for hours of reasoned debate and consideration, will issue a brief and binding ruling on an issue of great societal import.

This week’s question — What is our most trusted source of news?

The Council was unable to reach a majority ruling on this issue.

Steve offers this opinion, joined by David and Job:

In a crisis, I turn to the television news networks; for all their faults, they have the resources to report the truth when it counts.


Kaitlin offers this opinion, joined by Tom:

I try to seek out media which support views opposite to mine. That way, I know that the good news I hear is more likely to be true, since it does nothing to help the biased sources’ cause.


Chloe offers this opinion, joined by Erin:

I prefer to listen to the same news story a few times from various sources in order to find the information being repeated. I trust those bits the most. Also, The Onion.


Connie offers this opinion:

Instant crawlers from Fox or CNN. Before they have a chance to spin it too much. I check the newspapers later for details and updates.


Djere offers this opinion:

Vinnie, the shady guy who hangs out down by the dog track. He always picks the winner.


Tom offers this opinion:

Town Crier. Narrow in scope, but close to the source.


Erin offers this opinion:

What I see with my own eyes. In the words of Frank Herbert: don’t count a man dead until you’ve seen his body. And even then, you can make a mistake.


Josh offers this opinion:

If it’s on the Internet, it has to be true.


MC-B and Mike played no part in the determination of this issue.

Next time: What part of a song most affects whether you will like it?

One Hundred Words (31)

08/25/2008, 2:30 pm -- by | 2 Comments

I heard this in Target’s shoe section on Sunday:

Mom: Don’t you pull that tooth out, Morgan Bradley!
Daughter: Why not?
Mom: Because the tooth fairy is off tonight.
Daughter: No, she’s not! Really?
Mom: She’s in Jamaica. Didn’t you know that? She’s on vacation. I wish I was in Jamaica with the tooth fairy.

Later, the daughter wandered the shoe aisles, preparing to ask for Hannah Montana paraphernalia.

Daughter: Mom! Mom, where are you?
Mom: (sneaking around the aisles) Mom isn’t here right now! Please check back later. (snicker)
Daughter: Mo-om!

I could enjoy being that kind of mom.


Four Weeks (Part Four)

08/25/2008, 9:30 am -- by | No Comments

Read the series in parts: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

We didn\’t plan to bring John to the wedding, but when we found out the reception was taking place on the grounds of a zoo, it only seemed fitting. And his suit was already in the trunk, after all, wedged in at the last moment by our mother, ever hopeful that we would change our minds and sneak him in. That\’s how I found myself parking in the terraced lot of a random South Carolina church, angled to block the view of passing cars, while my brothers donned the traditional, oppressive wedding garb of our people.

The Palmetto State was hot and sticky, like a candy bar sent through the dryer, and as I amused myself by releasing the emergency brake and watching John scurry to keep up with the trunk, I found it hard to fathom the state’s near-myth status in the rural Northeast. How many people — young women, especially — had I heard confess their ambition to leave New York for the temperate beauty and utopian job market of South Carolina? Slow-cooking in a black suit, the attraction puzzled me. If I\’m going to give up snow and seasons, I demand climatic perfection: Honolulu, San Diego, Omaha. This was just Florida North: sweaty, crowded, and muggy, with fewer snakes and better drivers.

The wedding itself was most notable for the objection; the objection was most notable for the $50 the groom paid to obtain it. I suspect that this combination may have also made the couple’s ride to the reception quite, er, notable.

At the lovely baked potato reception, we took a place behind the dance floor, so as best to ruin the pictures, and celebrated our friend’s wedding with a group of Syracusans, many of whom I may never see again. Nothing in life comes alone; when you open your door to one thing, you spread it wide to a world of unintended, unexpected consequences. One downside to a month-long trip of reconnection is the awareness, the repeated, painful awareness, that everything ends. The arriving is sweet, the staying divine, but there is, too, always the leaving. Without it, the joy would have no meaning; alongside it, the joy can never be complete.

After a stroll through botanical gardens, we were off again, driving in shifts through dark Virginia and a foggy D.C. We slept for a few hours in the parking lot (and, later, the well-appointed youth room) of the Exton Community Baptist Church, before joining Bweinh!’s own Rev. Mike Jordan and his church to worship. You can actually listen to that sermon right here. Running on three hours of sleep, I didn\’t doze off once.

Mike had family and a then-very pregnant wife to attend to, so soon we were on Staten Island, introducing John to the wonders of White Castle — and then my brothers were off, heading home, leaving me to complete the next portions of my trip alone: New York City, California, New Mexico. The long drives had ended, but the long flights were dead ahead.

Quote of the Day, 8/25/08

08/25/2008, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“History is a tragedy to those who remember, a comedy only to those who forget.” — D. Frum

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