Farewell Lennie...Thanks for the memories

Today is a sad day in television history. One of the best actors of all time died from the best television show ever: Law and Order. Below is a consoling email my friend Mark wrote that poignantly displays the love and depth of emotion felt for this great man.

Lennie Briscoe Posted by Hello

Dearest Blake,

In the immortal words of C.S. Lewis, "When pain is to borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all."

I am deeply grieved to hear about the loss of the great Jerry Orbach who not only touched our lives, but redefined the way we look at Goodness, Dedication, and true Justice in America. Yes, our great detective Lennie Briscoe is gone. And yet, we feel him in each re-run.. He lives in each new episode...and we sense his gentle, sardonic, spirit in each fluttering piece of caution tape that seems to sweetly echo "Lennie...Lennie". He kept the Law and Order of our hearts for years never once demanding anything from us, but constantly giving and seeking out Justice for the wronged, and vengeance for those who turn their eyes away from the Law of man. In the spirit of Lennie Briscoe, I have compose a poem that will hopefully help you cope in these dark days...

I remember....
I remember you leaving the show, Lennie,
Less than a year ago
We ate cake all together ,Lennie,
saying we'd miss you so
The cake had letters of icing Lennie,
In colors of white and blue
We never knew as we ate the cake
that cancer was eating you too.
And so I say goodbye, Lennie,
You left us all in tears
So we'll go on with Law and Order
Thanks for all the years.

So my dear Blake, although this is a sudden and bitter farewell...let us rejoice in the hope we have in season DVD's. May peace be with you.



Giving the Amish Ammunition

I am torn between writing my observations on the Collective Soul concert I went to on Saturday evening or writing about the Internet. I'm probably one of the few people nerdy enough to go to a rock concert and actually analyze the event, people, music and philosophical message. My favorite concert of all time would certainly have to be REO Speedwagon and Styx where the lead singer of REO profoundly told us that during this time of terrorism and strife we should all love each other. Profound. Too bad Jesus beat him to the punch on that one! Odd how philosophy coupled with drunks climbing posts and ripping their shirts off don't seem to mix, isn't it?

But alas, I have really been wanting to talk about online communication. As most of you know, one of my many plans for my life is to go to grad school and get a degree in sociology so I can study the effects that the Internet has had on people. This desire came after observing the dramatic change that came across the OC campus from pre-laptop era to the post-laptop era. Now people from my younger brother's class can probably not fathom a time where they didn't IM or email each other on campus, but I'm here to tell you that reality existed not but four years ago.

What fascinates me most is how people change and how situations change over the Internet. People seem to be much more free with what they say online then when they are in public. Once shy people now feel license to release all those pent up ideas they might have. People you might normally never talk to be it that cute girl in science class, your ex-girlfriend, or my extremely cool brother Marc are now approachable.

Obviously there are some positive and negative side effects of this digital revolution. Perhaps the most positive side effect is that it gives people an outlet of communicating. People whose voice would never have been heard can sign up with a blog and write long essays such as this to feel like they're contributing to the world in some way. People who are too shy or awkward in social situations can now make friends that otherwise might not have been possible. People who have a hard time dating can go to match.com or eHarmony.com and date very attractive women (or at least that's what the ads have me believe). Great stuff!

There is an old adage in religion that anything good can be abused and turned into evil. Pretty much that's what sin is, a good thing gone wrong, but that's a random tangent we won't chase today. But the positive effects just mentioned are conversely the negative side effects as well. Suddenly people stop having face-to-face communication and spend more time communicating through IM, email or blogging than in real life. People can become aggressive online and say things they wouldn't dare in public since all social rules are now discarded. Writing and content becomes sloppy as people start to have 'IM think', as I like to call it.

True, that's one side of the pendulum to the other, I'm just intrigued by it all. From Xanga websites to Blogspots, from online dating to IM and chat rooms, and even to RPG the Internet has certainly changed life as we know it. As with all technology we must ask ourselves if it's been for better or worse? One way or the other don't expect me to become a Luddite anytime soon.


The Human Struggle

The Marathon. No event, perhaps outside of the Ironman, shows the human will more clearly than the running of 26.2 miles.

This weekend I had the great pleasure of watching the Dallas White Rock Marathon and seeing my two friends Lana and Sarah attempt this great feat. I was training to do this race myself with them, but due to mitigating circumstances (a knee injury and surgery - blah!) I had to forgo this noble goal.

But not only did I get to see my two friends run, I also got to see a wide variety of people participate. Tall and short, fat and skinny, young and old, all were out running the "Rock". One man even jump-roped the whole course while another man, certainly over 50, carried the American flag the entire way!

The amazing thing was watching the average person, probably never an athlete in their life, do something that less than 1% of the world has ever done. To see the determination, the raw grit, and the joy that comes from this trial is surely a testament to the gifts that God has given us.

Training and running the marathon teaches us that we are capable of things that we would never have believed possible. I ran a marathon three years prior and the last ten miles were ten of the hardest miles I ever ran in my life. Never would I have thought that I could put my body through such torture, but through sheer determination, plus a little help from my parents, I did! Knowing that I accomplished that puts new perspective on any other challenge before me that if I really want to do something, I can.

This may seem a little overly cheesy or corny tonight, but go out and try a marathon yourself. You just let me know and I'll give you a training plan and everything. No one is exempt from saying they cannot do one. Unless you think your less capable than an 80 year old man!


Careening the edge...

Tonight I shall write extemporaneously on some thoughts, troubles, and issues that have been brewing in my head for the past couple of weeks. Perhaps even the past couple of months or even years, I'm not sure yet.

My friend Gabe loves postmodernism, or at least likes to talk about it a lot. I've been somewhat leery of the concept until I recently read The Younger Evangelicals and after a visit to B&N tonight and reading a few chapters of Brian McLaren's book, A New Kind of Christian, I've started to believe that it's more then just a buzzword.

The problem lies in that I now seem to be on the brink of something, but I'm not sure exactly what. Perhaps a lot of post-modern philosophers feel the same way. But in my mind I feel uncomfortable with the world and church that I'm presently a part of. Being a right-wing conservative Republican fundamentalist no longer brings the joy that it did just over a month ago. Nor does the idea of being a leftist liberal Democrat sound attractive. So where to fit in? Truth be known - I don't.

So I find myself careening on the edge. Not really wanting to throw off my modern philosophy cloak and wrap myself in the blanket of post-modernism, yet feeling somewhat seduced by the idea all the same. Sometimes I worry about liking things because they are different, new, original and somewhat renegade. That is not my goal with this exploration at all. The goal is always, and should always be, the truth. Where I go from here, your guess is as good as mine...



There are a couple of books in the Bible that it is ok to skip right over. The minor prophets? Eh...who needs them. Revelations? Too confusing! And anybody who has ever tried to read the Bible from start to finish has certainly faltered to some degree -- unless you have much greater tenacity than I -- when reading Leviticus, Numbers, or Deuteronomy.

But wait! Should we be so flippant about these books? Why are they in the Bible anyways? Why are they ignored in Bible class and sermons for the most part? While reading the great book, Younger Evangelicals, I read about a church who spent an entire year on the book of Leviticus and experienced radical growth. So I decided to give this book a second chance and see what was in it. Here's what I found:

"...If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord's commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter they are guilty. When they become aware of the sin they committed, the assembly must bring a young bull as a sin offering..." (Lev 4:13-14)

"...If a person sins and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord's commands, even though he does not know it, he is guilty and will be held responsible. He is to bring to the priest as a guilt offering a ram from the flock, one withouth defect and of the proper value." (Lev 5:17-18)

"...If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the Lord by deceiving his neighbor about something entrusted to him or left in his care or stolen, or if he cheats him, or if he finds lost property and lies about it, or if he swears falsely, or if he commits any such sin that people may do -- when he thus sins and becomes guilty, he must return what he has stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to him or the lost property he found, or whatever it was he swore falsely about. He must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day he presents his guilt offering." (Lev 6:2-5)

And that's just some snippets I found in the first 6 chapters. My initial reaction, bad as it may sound was, "Well no wonder the Israelites tried to find a way out and followed other false gods who let them live a little." My second reaction was, "Well thank goodness we're not under the old law!" But I think both thoughts seriously miss the point, and I think overlooking this as "old law" also loses some value as well. Don't get me wrong, I know its in the past but...

...but think of the extreme high standards God set out. A heavy sin offering was needed to pardon even the unintentional, unknown sin of a man. Can you imagine having to offer the modern-day equivalent of a ram for something you did unintentionally? Imagine having to repay your neighbor a fifth over what you had lost or stolen from him or her? Wow!

What gets me though is that these difficult rules make you think twice. Sometimes I think my attitude is "Oh well, what does it matter if I sin? I can pray, God will forgive me, and on I go with life." If however I sinned and knew I was going to have to sacrifice a ram, or for more practical sakes an equal equivalency of money, I would probably think twice. Perhaps what we've lost in the New Testament is that reverence for committing sin since we can seeming "get away" with it so easily.

So go read Leviticus. And if you really want to have some fun all you wild girls out there go read Numbers 5 and see what you think!


The Fear of the Lord

This is a work in progress, simply some thoughts running through my head as I fall asleep each night that I have put together.

I am afraid

...of knowing God

I am afraid
to truly follow Him
to truly give
to truly love others like myself
to truly take up my cross

So I will hide

I will read about Him
I will study the Bible
alone, in study groups, in church
I will sing praises
I will give of my time,
my posessions
I will talk to my friends about Him
I will even pray

Still I will hide.

I will hide
behind the television,
behind my books,
my magazines
behind time with friends,
behind movies,
and mindless activity

because I am scared,
of truly knowing Him
of not being in control
of turning my back on sin


I am more afraid...
of not knowing God.


Move Over IE, the Fox has Arrived

Since I'm always posing as a theologian, psychologist, or philosopher I figure today it's time to hold true to my roots and talk about something I truly understand: computers. So today I am going to inform my reading base of the new browsing tool known as Firefox. This handy-dandy browser is a great replacement for IE (Internet Explorer). In fact, some people love it so much that they're writing break up letters to Microsoft. These are the kind of people I hang out with at work. :)

So what are the benefits of this new browser? Here is a quick run-down:
  • Tabbed browsing (you can now have two or more web pages open in one browser Window. Wonderful!)
  • RSS reader (this is way cool, this keeps you updated with sites when they change. For example, once you've downloaded Firefox and returned to this site you will see an orange button on the bottom right of your browser. Select this and then in your bookmarks you will automatically know when I've had a new post. Very cool!)
  • Pop-up blocker (oh sure, I'm sure you have one from Google by now, but now its integrated and you don't need a third-party add-in)
  • Tight integration with Google (search from the toolbar)
  • Download manager
  • It's not Microsoft! Oh don't get me wrong, I love Bill Gates, but every other day Microsoft has a new patch for its product or their is a new bug that hackers can tap into your computer with through Internet Explorer. Firefox, partially because it holds so small of a share of the market, does not have this problem.
So try it out and then, if you feel emotional enough about it, go ahead and write that break-up letter to Microsoft. You won't be the first...

Other Articles:
CNET's Review
Forbe's Review
FireFox Homepage



If Gabe can do it, I can to is typically my motto. With that in mind I filled out an eHarmony profile to find out more about myself and my view of relationships. Now mind you there is a hefty fee for actually getting paired up with a "compatible" match, so I won't be getting into an online relationship anytime soon, but I've got to admit it was quite interesting. So, although my original intent of this site was just to blab on about random musings I have, here are some insights into my soul provided by the eHarmony. The first list is the 10 "must-haves" if I'm to be in a relationship. It's quite sad that they limited me to 10, because the first time I chose the list I had 31! The second list is the 10 "can't stand" things that I could certainly not live with in a relationship. So enjoy this random insight into my idea of relationships...

10 Must Haves:
I must have a partner who is gentle and kind.


I must have someone who is good at talking and listening.


I must have someone who isn't afraid to take a risk and who see s life as an adventure.


I must have someone who can handle life's frustrations or momentary setbacks with a patient, steady demeanor.


I must have a partner who is bright and can share my understanding of the world as well as enjoy discussing important issues.

I must have someone I can count on to always support me.

Family Life:
I must have a partner who is committed to marriage, home, and family.

I must have someone with a similar deep commitment to spirituality, who shares my beliefs.

I must have a partner who is able to forget about money and focus on the important parts of life.

I must have a spouse who has saved herself sexually for marriage.

10 Can't Stands:
I can't stand someone who bases their happiness on me.

I can't stand someone who takes advantage of people.

I can't stand someone whose main topic of conversation is herself.

I can't stand someone who is belittling, impatient or hateful to people in any situation.

I can't stand someone who sees material items as a measure of success.

I can't stand someone who treats everything in life as secondary to their job.

I can't stand someone who is not emotionally mature.

I can't stand someone who holds a double standard for their actions and those of other people.

I can't stand someone who fails to come through and is unreliable.

I can't stand someone who is obnoxiously cocky.

The thing I like about these lists is that it gets past the superficial issues we so often discuss when talking about our dream someone. As my good friend Mark Barnache said, you want to find someone with the "qwan." Hopefully I spelled that word right but basically the "qwan" is the female version of the Renaissance man. And according to him, she is out there, you just have to be patient and wait on God. He should know; he's getting married January 23rd to a very special lady himself.


And So It Goes

Kurt Vonnegut's absolutely bizarre book, Slaughterhouse Five, officially coined this phrase "So it goes". In the context of the book it references death. Another interesting phrase "So be it" is used by none other than Jason Bourne. The movies fail to pick up on this phrase, but in Robert Ludlum's masterful books you hear it repeated over and over. Both of these phrases tend to lead the reader on to believe that there is no hope. This is how it ends, or this is how it is, and there is nothing else.

My blog has a slightly down tone tonight, mainly cause I'm having one of those sleepless nights. There are challenges in life that are dreadfully difficult to face, and I seem to be in the midst of one of those tonight. My surgery! No, just kidding, although I'm not looking forward to that either.

For the sake of maturity I really won't delve into the matter of the problem. However, like the psalmist David, I will praise God for the work He is doing in my life. The beauty of David's psalms are astounding and I love the layout of many of these psalms. David obviously had a rough life but even in the most depressing of psalms he had something good to praise God about at the end.

So I'd like to praise God for the challenges He has put before me in the last 5 and a half years. Since starting college at OC I've grown tremendously, and on a night like tonight I doubt the truth of that statement, but I know I've come a long way. I'd also like to praise God for the gift of our Christian community. I tremendously love my brothers and sisters in Christ and am thankful for their loving spirits. But most importantly I'd like to thank God for who He is. His example of love, sacrifice and mercy can never be surpassed and while it is often incomprehensible that there is a being who loves us that much, I am extremely grateful.


The Principle of Vulnerability

Why are we afraid to be real? Or am I the only one to have this fear? Vulnerability in my life shapes itself in two divergent areas: fear of not being perfect and fear of being real. Perhaps the two are intertwined, but I'll probably figure that out by the end of the post since I think best when writing.

Lets approach the first fear of not being perfect. The disadvantage of being told your intelligent, or being an A student in high school and college is that you suddenly are afraid to be wrong on anything. To maintain your air of intellectual superiority you have to stick to your guns at every turn and defend rather than explore possibilities. I realize that this fear has been one that has grown tremendously in my life after graduating college with a good GPA. I am now afraid to speak my mind or heart in fear of being looked down upon for not knowing the truth, not knowing the real issue, or perhaps even being narrow-minded (for those of you shocked by this statement, just know that I often hold back!).

This fear is not near as pervasive as the fear of being real. I have long struggled with the idea that we must continually be infallible within the church. When you go to worship you hardly ever see someone suffering, and if someone is failing to be "joyful" they are avoided like the plague. Why is this? My theory is that this superficial surface-level image that is brought to church is a reaction to the legalism we experienced in the church growing up. The modern church (correct me if I'm wrong oh wise Reformation scholar) taught Christians that the one true way to heaven was to be morally and spiritually perfect, a standard which was impossible to uphold. So instead of admitting that we are fallen we tried to portray that we are perfect and free from sin.

The interesting thing is that vulnerability is extremely healthy! My good friend Ann and I used to discuss this principle and how it often brought people closer together even though it seems antithetical to conventional wisdom. I have secretly hated James 5:16 for much of my life. To quote the New King James (boy I'm old school!): "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed." What a thought!

Ok, so I didn't figure it out whether these fears are intertwined, but then again, maybe I'm not supposed to...


Post-modernism continued...

Please go to Gabe's blog to see a continued discussion on this subject matter. His address is: http://gabepeterson.blogspot.com.


The Difficulty of Post-Modernism

Post-modernism isn't terribly difficult to understand. Simply put: everything is ambiguous. Everything is subjective and open to interpretation by the individual. Now my colleagues might say I'm trivialize a broad and diverse area of study but that is the definition I use tonight. And since post-modernism lets me define my terms, I am right.

The difficult thing about post-modernism isn't disproving that it's wrong. To me the difficulty lies in that there may be some truth to the precepts it engenders. As a Christian I realize that there is truth in this world. For there to be truth there must exist absolutes which I have no problem with. What I do struggle with is that not everything is absolute. I'm sure I shocked some people who know me with that statement.

Truth is, no pun intended, that God is infinitely more complex and amazing then we can ever fathom. The problem that modernism and black-and-white thinking has caused is that we've forgotten that fact and limited God to a small cubicle. While Jesus is the right and only way, and yes the road is narrow, perhaps its not quite as narrow as we think.

I'll leave it at that for now because my dear friend Gabe is about to enlighten me. Take care!


Meyers-Brigg Meets the Bible

Recently for work we went off to Tulsa where we did a workshop based off of the MBTI assessment. For those of you who don't know, this is the personality test that tries to pinpoint certain styles you have in how you handle your affairs. For example, the most known trait is that of introversion or extroversion. Introverts tend to draw more energy from within while extroverts draw more energy from being around other people and their external environment.

It occured to me during this test that this may also affect how we approach the Bible and evangelism. I believe this thought has partially been reinforced by the recent responses to my posts.

The second trait is whether or not you are a sensory or intuitive person (S or N). Sensory people like to be involved in the details while intuitive people see the broader picture. People of type N can go from A to Z with nothing in between while people of type S go from A to Z by literally going A, B, C up to Z.

Although this is not an attempt to rationalize the differences between Gabe, Ann and myself I do think it does shed light on how we see the world. Both Gabe and Ann seem to be pointing at the details of ministry such as personal involvement. However, I lean towards the benefit of having Christians involved in politics, the judicial system, the education system and every other public facet of life. Positive influence not only comes at the personal level, it also comes at the broader more public spectrum as well. This is a big part of why I believe that Christians should be involved in politics because the large pieces affect the whole as well as the small pieces.

So perhaps we're both right to a certain extent. Or perhaps this is my type F coming out meaning that I want to make everyone happy. Now that doesn't sound like me does it? :)


Retreating to our monastery

My last post triggered quite a bit of response and thought which is exactly what I had hoped for. Keep it coming! I'm not even sure where to begin and I'm sure I'm not going to be able to address all the issues that were brought up.

I would like to hit on one thought that Gabe brought up concerning a Christian's role in this world. To quote Gabe:

"Who cares if the world is growing more secular...aren't we as Christians really citizens of another kingdom...a heavenly kingdom?"

The thing that strikes me about this statement is how it seems to step away from any involvement on any broad level since we are not to be "of this world." Perhaps that's what monasteries are for, but we are called to be the "salt of the earth" and "light of the world (Matt 5:13-16)." Being the light and salt of this world doesn't mean that we retreat to our monastery or wait till Heaven and simply say "Who cares?" Being the light and salt means that we try to make an impact on the world we live in.

If we look in the Old Testament we do not see God taking a deistic approach to the universe he created. He didn't step away and say, "Well the world's falling apart but it will be better once everyone gets to Heaven." Instead he took action by creating Israel whose original purpose was to overtake Canaan and rid the land of evil. God, during the course of Israel's history, constantly tried to set them straight by showing them the errors of their ways.

Don't get me wrong, I know that it is God's place to judge and not ours. But we are called to "love our neighbors as ourselves" and to do that we look out for our neighbor's best interests.

I will get to the issue of Christians appearing dogmatic and unloving later, I just wanted to specifically address this type of mindset. And Gabe, I still love you, I'm just going to try and help you make the right choice. :)


Vote Values

Disclaimer: This post will no doubt get me in trouble with my beloved Democrat friends. It is a bit too concise and to the point to thoroughly get my ideas across and granted my sweeping statements as always are to provoke thought and dialogue. So have at it!

Church today was especially interesting. How can you beat a service that combines two of my favorite areas of study: politics and God? You simply can't.

The question that arose today was that our nation is under a state of moral decline. This is easily obvious to anyone who has a set of clear moral beliefs. Since that statement could get me in trouble I will state it as a clear sense of Christian moral beliefs.

Need evidence? The issue of gay marriage. Liberal judges over-turning rulings of partial-birth abortion. Constant bickering and back-biting between Presidential canidates. The liberal left waging a hate war against a president who is trying to lead the nation against the evils of terrorism.

Somewhere in our rush to separate church and state and encourage tolerance we got off the mark. Call it post-modernism, call it a bluring of reality, whatever term you may use to define it not every viewpoint is correct and equally right. That philosophy, which is adhered to in our schools, politics, and even religious views is leading us straight into decline.

What needs to be done? Can Christians passively stand on the sidelines? As Kent Allen says: "Vote values." Take an active role in politics and carefully think on the issues that matter. Do not be deceived by Michael Moore or CNN, be selective and rational about what you believe. Perhaps most importantly though is for Christians to get involved. Especially us young Americans who tend to spend more time discussing movies and television and not involving ourselves in the world around us. Its time to step it up a notch and get going. In the words of George Bush, "Let's roll!"


Love Agape Style

Love is a wonderful, troubling, confusing concept for any 20-something. The emotional highs and lows of relationships can leave one drained and disillusioned. Fortunately there is another love that one can ascribe to. Unfortunately it isn't any less confusing, but thankfully easily attainable through the grace of God.

That love, as I'm sure you've deduced from the title, is called agape love. Many of us growing up in the church have heard this word frequently. I would dare to say that there are very few of us who actually grasp what it truly means. Agape love is uncoditional, self-sacrificing love. Perhaps the greatest thing about agape love is that it is not driven by emotion. To quote All Mine to Give, "Agape is based on attitudes and actions" and says "I'll love you whether you love me or not." Perhaps the hardest part of agape is that it requires us to love unconditionally. This means loving someone who has wronged us, loving someone who we deem unworthy of love along with loving people we find easy to love.

I have not even scratched the surface of this great area of study. Our intergenerational connection group has just began looking at this in depth and this study has really made me think about how I treat those around me. I'm sure there will be more on this subject to come.



"...but what can't be argued these days is that bloggers have power and they're wielding it with a simple turn of phrase and a computer keyboard (Oklahoma Gazette, Oct 6)." Blogs are everywhere these days and have even been labeled the new "watchdogs of the mainstream media." Blogs bring new meaning to the term Information Highway in many respects. Certainly a great deal of blogs cover no more then the detail of someone's daily life in that they like cats, boys, and eat panacakes for breakfast. Did I mention they are so in love with Brad Pitt? But at the same time blogs have the capacity to give voice to anyone who happens to fall outside of mainstream media attention, which gives new power to the average Joe.

This blog will attempt to meet these two extremes somewhere in the middle. I won't shed light on the misgivings of Dan Rather's fact checking abilities nor will I bore you with the trivial details of my mundane life. Instead I will hone my writing and thought processes while perhaps shedding to you some light on my worldview and paradigms. Honors kids: eat your heart out.