Wednesday, August 30, 2006

back from Africa

Joshua Claybourn, blogger at In the Agora and recent IU law school grad, has returned from his month-long trip to Africa with one of his roommates from his undergrad days. You can read about, and see pictures of, his experiences here.

emerging church primer

So many other people are doing this already, and one doesn't want to jump on the bandwagon too often, but here goes....

Read Justin Taylor's primer on the emerging church here. It's good and worthwhile all at the same time. Isn't that great?

The top dogs at Fide-O have placed all links to emerging church postings to one post - here.

Some past posts on the emerging church:

Thursday, August 24, 2006

survival of the races

If you've never taken the time to watch before, will you now watch Survivor just because it's become so controversial? It's really not surprising that they've decided to divide up the tribes by race. They have been divided in the past by sex and by age, but the show hasn't received as much attention about such divisions as it has now. I guess division by sex or by age doesn't stir the pot as much as a racial division.

Lisa de Moraes at WaPo has more on this.

UPDATE: Read this by Eric Deggans.

since it's the name of this blog and all...

I should probably make a posting about brownies, huh?

Okay, here you go.

*cue commercial*

Are you in the mood for something gooey and chocolatey? Buy a killer brownie the next time you visit Dorothy Lane Market in Dayton, Ohio. You'll be glad you did!

*cut commercial*
My favorite is the German Chocolate Killer Brownie, in case you were curious. It's the brownie in the very center of the plate up there.

takin' a Jesus paintin'

Andrew Rudd, a fellow Cedarville alum and currently a professor at Malone College in Ohio, writes about the secret life of Walter Sallman. The story involves the hanging of a painting of Jesus' head in the hallways of a high school in West Virginia, the ACLU, and a thief.

borrowing recipes

Would a woman borrow a recipe from another woman's blog? I don't know if she would, Jan, but this man is going to borrow one from Cindy Swanson since he doesn't have one of his own.

the easiest, most delicious banana pudding ever

Thanks, Cindy!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

two articles by an old college friend

Here are two articles by Pastor Mark Vroegop of Calvary Baptist Church in Holland, Michigan. He's an old friend from college, and we toured together in a traveling quartet for a year.

He will be speaking at our alma mater, Cedarville University, in the 10:00 AM chapel service on Thursday, August 31. Sadly, I will not be able to make it there to see him.

Some info from his church website:

Mark has been the Senior Pastor at Calvary since 1996. His passion is to empower believers to experience life change by delighting in God through the Word. He presently serves on the editorial advisory board for HeartCry - A Journal on Revival and Spiritual Awakening, published by Life Action Ministries. He is a bi-annual speaker for Life Action Ministries' Family Camp and published "Revival as Turning from Idolatry" in HeartCry Journal (Issue 17, Summer 2001). For four years he was a member of the Pastoral Advisory Board for Holland Community Hospital, and he is presently serving on the advisory board of the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism.

"This is really by far and away the fastest recorded animal limb movement"

Beware the bite of the trap-jaw ant. They can "bite with a force of over 300 times their own bodyweight."

God made some amazing creatures, no?

Speaking of which, did I share with you that this winged creature recently held court in my backyard?

marie claire thinks I'm made of sugar & spice & everything nice

Back in the fall of 2003, I was walking through the books-and-magazines aisle at a local Meijer. I was looking through the magazine rack, hoping to find something to peruse for a few moments while The Wife was shopping. I came across a magazine called Budget Living, which purported to be designed for those who were frugal (read:nearly broke) but still wanted a stylish-appearing home. I flipped through it, and liked what I saw. There were tips on how to save money on a home, there were ideas on utilizing inexpensive gadgets and gizmos for the kitchen... there were even clothing ideas for women AND men, even though the male models wore clothing that I would never consider wearing. I showed the magazine to The Wife, she liked what she saw, and we became subscribers. I put the subscription in my name.

We received the magazine for over two years, but then we suddenly stopped receiving it. What was wrong? Had our check for subscription renewal gone to the wrong place? Had they lost our address? Were our neighbors stealing our issues?

No, none of that. I received a letter - addressed with my name - from the editors of Marie Claire, explaining that Budget Living had, for reasons unexplained but probably connected to money, ceased publication. Imagine that! Budget Living couldn't maintain its budget anymore apparently, so it went defunct. Since Budget Living and Marie Claire both fell under the Hearst family of publications, we would receive copies of Marie Claire until the time of our original Budget Living expiration.

I will share with you a portion of this letter - and tell me if you find some terrible mistake:
You will love Marie Claire because Marie Claire was created for a very special reader like you... a woman who demands substance, style and reality. Marie Claire helps you expand. Takes you to the corners of the earth to experience its sensations. See for yourself!
Notice anything? Marie Claire considers me to be a woman! "... a very special reader like you... a woman who demands..." Had they not just typed in my name at the top of the letter? Let's see - "Dear Matthew Brown:" Yes, they did. I'm willing to say that the name of Matthew is as masculine-sounding as a "Butch" or a "Jeremiah" or a "Malcolm." My name is obviously a man's name. Now, I went to school with a girl named Mattie, and Mattie is sometimes used as a nickname (though it never was for me) for a boy named Matthew. However, in this case, the girl's legal name was Mattie. It was not a shortened form of anything - it was Mattie, plain and simple. In this case, I don't see how the editors could consider the name of Matthew to be anything other than masculine.

I realize that this was most likely a form letter that a plethora of readers received, and the only thing different in each letter was the name so that the subscribers would believe that this was a personal letter sent to them. Probably the majority of those who received such letters were women, so I can see how the letter would include the "reader like you... a woman" line.

But that doesn't make me feel any better. I may have to watch a few more football games so I can feel more like a man. Maybe I'll go beat a drum in the woods. Or perhaps I'll just go take a shower, and not use the loofah and body wash that smells of musk and vanilla...

Monday, August 21, 2006

bloggers in Wikipedia

So... I was wandering through Wikipedia. I stumbled upon the section under blogging, and I found a list of American bloggers. (See? It's right here if you must look.) Some of the names on there are unsurprising because they've hit it big in the blogosphere (for whatever that is worth), for both understandable and non-understandable reasons. Some of them are called "bloggers" because they contribute to Huffington Post, not because they have their own blogsite.
I did find some names that were intriguing.
  • Dafydd ab Hugh: He's a science fiction author, and has penned several entries into the Star Trek series of novels. His blog is called Big Lizards.
  • Anne Abernathy: She competed in her sixth Olympics this year at Torino, and her nickname is "Grandma Luge." Her blog, Grandma Luge, hasn't been updated since 4/21/06.
  • Dave Barry: Yes, he is the columnist from Miami Herald that you've heard tell of. I envy him for both his writing ability and his house location, but not for his age (he'll be sixty on his next birthday). His blog is here.
  • Jerry Brown: Once upon a time, he was the governor of California and a seeker of the presidency, but now he's just the mayor of Oakland, Cali. His blog hasn't been updated since October 2005. For shame, Mayor Brown!
  • Bruce Eisner: Yah! A fellow psych major! His blog is called Bruce Eisner's Vision Thing.
  • Brian Flemming: He's a documentary filmmaker, known mostly for The God Who Wasn't There. He had an interesting debate with blogger Frank Turk, aka Centuri0n. Flemming's blog is here.
  • Joshua Harris: He once kissed dating goodbye, now he pastors a church in Gaithersburg, Maryland. His blog is named after him.
  • Charles Foster Johnson: He's a jazz musician. He also runs this tiny blog no one ever visits.
  • Al-Muhajabah: She's also known as Laura Poyneer. She's Muslim, and she has three blogs.
  • Ben Roethlisberger: When he's not winning Super Bowls or getting into motorcycle wrecks, he blogs.

Families and healthcare

This is not good news. At all.
About half of adults in middle-income families reported serious problems in paying for their health care while even those in more affluent circumstances said they had troubles with medical bills, a new survey found.

Forty-eight percent of individuals in families earnings between $35,000 and $49,999 said they had either a somewhat serious or very serious problem paying their medical bills in the last two years, according to a study by The Commonwealth Fund. Meanwhile, 50 percent of adults in that income bracket said they had difficulties affording their health insurance.

Meanwhile, 33 percent of individual in families earning between $50,000 and $74,999 a year said they had trouble paying for medical bills while 21 percent of people in families earning $75,000 or more reported such a dilemma. Fifty percent of individuals in families earnings less than $35,000 annually reported such a problem.

Thirty-five percent of people in families with an annual income of between $50,000 to $74,999 reported they had trouble paying for health insurance while 23 percent of those in families earning $75,000 or more said the same. Forty-eight percent of those in families with incomes of less than $35,000 said the premium cost represented a problem. (IndyStar)
We need a healthcare system that works. We need a healthcare system that people can afford, a system in which people must contribute something but also a system that can help those who exist at or below the poverty level. Quality healthcare shouldn't be a luxury - it's a necessity.

I'm not saying that healthcare is a job for Big Government. I'm just saying We need something that works.

Christian Native American bands

Mark Byron had an interesting experience listening to bands composed of Native Americans who claim the name of Christ. Two of the groups have their own websites, and Mark has provided the links.

The concert was held at a casino(!) - I'll let Mark explain....

Sunday, August 20, 2006

"Whoever is in control of him ought to make sure he isn't doing things like drinking champagne."

Does this have to be news?
John Mark Karr, the suspect in the death of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, sipped champagne and ate fried king prawns in business class Sunday after being put aboard a flight to Los Angeles to face charges in the United States.
What does it matter what Karr ate? Get him to Colorado, put him on trial, and get some justice for JonBenet.

quote for the day

I think this quote attributed to George Eliot is just terrific:

"It is never too late to be what you might have been."

The quote is framed, along with a picture of a Mary Engelbright character, in my mother-in-law's bathroom. I become very contemplative everytime I visit the bathroom and I read the quote. It reminds that if I become dissatisfied with some aspect of my life and I want to make a change, now is the time to do it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

websites that changed the world

Have you visited any of these lately? Some good folks at The Observer listed 15 sites "that have become the virtual wallpaper of our lives."

Here they are:

The one I frequent the most? Blogger, naturally. I occasionally drift over to Wikipedia if I want some information on a specific topic, but Wikipedia can be edited by anyone so the info may or may not be - but usually is - reliable. I've never heard of - let alone visited - friendsreunited, slashdot and easyjet.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"I'm really focused on work and trying to tune the other stuff out, because it could potentially drive you absolutely out of your mind."

Katie Couric is in preparations for her role as the first female solo news anchor of a major network. Before she's even said her first Good Evening, she's been scrutinized nearly to death. She has said she wants to give a different presentation to the news, so it will be interesting to see what impact she has.
After conducting town meetings in a half-dozen cities last month, Couric concluded that "people are hungry" for more positive stories. She is, for example, working on a piece about an Alexandria foundation that teaches juvenile delinquents how to build boats and helps them get high school equivalency degrees.

"Sometimes when you watch the evening news, it's all gloom and doom -- and some of it has to be, because the world is a complicated and pretty scary place right now," says Couric, 49. "But there has to be a place for more hopeful stories."

But, she adds, "it's not going to be smiley-face happy news." (WaPo)
Will you watch her on September 5? Do you even care? In the age of the Internet and the multiple cable news channels, does anyone watch The Big Three at 6:30/5:30 anymore?

Monday, August 14, 2006

“The November election will teach Dick Cheney and others of his ilk that they cannot use fear to cling to power.”

So saith the senator from Massachusettes, Teddy Kennedy.

Tell us, Senator, what should a person use to cling to power?


Political advantages and favors from lobbyists?

The lasting memory of siblings that were greater than you?

The ability to stay afloat on the waters of Chappaquiddick?


I'm not saying that the current administration hasn't used fear as a means to keep power. Every administration - indeed, every politician - has used some amount of fear to either gain or keep power. During any campaign, you'll hear something like If you elect me, then I will be able to take us to greatness - if you elect my opponent, we won't be as great as we could be and we'll probably be much worse. On the surface this appears rather benign, but there is an element of fear here - the fear that America won't be as secure/strong/wonderful/bouyant/whatever if the opponent wins.

Every person seeking office does this - elect me and we'll do wonderful things, but if you elect someone else, we won't be as wonderful. It would be great to think that we elect leaders on the basic of their abilities or their charisma/charm, but the truth is that we often elect leaders because we fear what the other person will do.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Kitty starts fire

Read the article. Trust me, it's very short. Then come back.

You back? Okay. Several questions.
  • How exactly DID the cat turn on the stove?
  • If the stove was being stored in the basement, why was it plugged in to an outlet?
  • If it wasn't plugged in to any outlet, how else could it have been turned on?
  • Will the owner teach the cat to call 911 if this happens again?

the "green" of gore

It's an inconvenient truth that when it comes to being green, Al Gore isn't so much.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Michael Moore = Paris Hilton

Poor Michael Moore. He must be missing the spotlight something bad to be delivering lines like this from his latest "letter":

Let the resounding defeat of Senator Joe Lieberman send a cold shiver down the spine of every Democrat who supported the invasion of Iraq and who continues to support, in any way, this senseless, immoral, unwinnable war. Make no mistake about it: We, the majority of Americans, want this war ended — and we will actively work to defeat each and every one of you who does not support an immediate end to this war.
He's like Paris Hilton (or Ann Coulter, for you lefties that are reading here) - he'll say anything to get attention. Come on, Mike, go ahead and say it - say that you are actually the icon of the moment.

I thought that the Democrats wanted to show that they are the party of diversity and inclusivism. What Moore and Kos are saying now, especially in the wake of Ned Lamont's victory in the Connecticut primary, is this: Be diverse all you want, but you better think just like me or you'll be turned out.

Added: Mike still posts "letters" from Cindy Sheehan on his blog. Seriously... what's up with that?


Kay Westhues has taken some beautiful snapshots of life in Indiana at her photoblog, Fourteen places to eat. Check it out!

(H/T: Hungry Hoosier)

" Heads pulled off, arms, legs here and there, it was a total carnage really."

Dog mutilates teddy bears. One was owned by Elvis! The funny thing is, the dog was supposedly guarding the teddy bears.

The horror! The horror!

State Fair

In Indiana, one event like no other signifies that the long, hot summer is about to end: the State Fair. Time once again to walk among the cows, rabbits, and hogs with people in tank tops, wife-beaters, and NASCAR T-shirts. Time once again to taste the delightful stickiness of the elephant ear, and to drink the refreshing tartness of the lemon shake-up.

This year, the 150th Great Indiana State Fair runs from August 9th to the 20th. Tonight, Michael W. Smith, Third Day & Jars of Clay will be in concert in the grandstand. To satisfy lovers of country music, Rascal Flatts (August 11), Big & Rich (August 15) and Brad Paisley (August 18) will be performing. To satisfy lovers of American Idol, the Idols themselves will perform on August 17 - we'll have to see if Katharine McPhee will be well enough to attend. The 4-H Sale of Champions will take place next week on Wednesday, August 16. Of course, all visitors to the fair must walk through the Pathway to Water Quality since it's usually the highlight of the day - and a chance to get a cold drink.

Epicurious listed the top ten state fairs, but Indiana was not among them. However, our neighbor to the east, Ohio, made it on the list. I'm a native of Dayton, so I've made several trips to the Ohio State Fair.

Some state fair trivia:
  • Texas is usually the largest fair, with Ohio running a close second
  • Texas, held near downtown Dallas, opens from September 29 to October 22 this year, running 24 days
  • Ohio usually features the Butter Cow
  • Florida has one of the first state fairs of the year, and will take place from February 8 to 19 in 2007

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

house inspection

Today we met with Mike the realtor and Tom the inspector to take an inspector tour of our new house. Tom said that everything appeared to be in great condition and he saw no major problems in the house. Only one family has lived in the house since it was built in 1957, and they took very good care of it - I believe the last person in the family passed away late last year, and the house has been held in estate since then. The only thing to fix is one of the two baseboard heating units in our living room.

The only work we have to do for the house is cosmetic/aesthetic work. Most of the walls have been painted a power-blue hue, so we will paint over that with a yellow-buttercream paint. We'll be ripping up the pink carpet to reveal the wood underneath. The backyard has many overgrown plants. We want to make a few changes to the cabinets in the kitchen so it doesn't look like it's 1974 in there.

I hope to put up a few "before" pictures of the house so you can see the work we have to do. Stay tuned!

Chris Matthews was right!

Hardball's Chris Matthews said it best about yesterday's primary race in Connecticut: "It won't be decided by the bloggers, it'll be decided by the voters who get out there and vote!"

Too true, Chris... too true. Joe Lieberman felt pain, but now he's defiant.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

braided hair

The Sweet (my six-year-old daughter) shows off the top of her head following an afternoon at Libby Lu.

thanks for the traffic, but why are you here?

For reasons unfathomable to me, people come to this site looking for pictures of this country superstar. I think I may have put up pictures of him in previous posts, and that is the only explanation I can think of for why some people come here.

I'm not complaining. My sitemeter numbers have increased significantly. I'm just, you know... wondering why, and stuff...

Update: It's because of this post. There's actually only one picture in the post, but there are links to two more pictures. Apparently, this is generating increased traffic to ole Brownie's site. Crazy, no?

gays vs. gay marriage

At her place of employment, The Wife supervises a man who is gay. We know he is gay because he is quite open about his sexuality, and because he has lived with the same man (whom we all know is his boyfriend) for many years now. We also know he is gay because he takes annual trips to DisneyWorld and to Key West (touted as one of the gay-est places on earth, although I must confess I saw hardly any when The Wife and I were there two years ago). However, we wouldn't know he was gay if we knew him solely by his political views - he's truly one of the more conservative Republicans around. He voted for George W. Bush twice, and he has ranted against Bill Clinton and John Kerry. And, he's against gay marriage.

What??? There are some gay men who don't want to see gays marrying each other? Apparently there are - and I know one.

Mollie over at Get Religion has some great links - she's got a friend who thinks the same way my wife's supervisee does - on this very topic.


I have finally started reading Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz. It's funny how this book has struck such a chord with people. I have several relatives (on mine and my wife's side) who said that they loved the book, and yet I have also read some scathing reviews of the book. I still think it's strange that when I posted that I purchased the book and planned to read it, I received more comments than from any previous post (I've broken that record since....).

So how's it going? I've read a few chapters. I like it, but I certainly can't say that it's a hands-down-amazing book. He begins the book with stories about growing up without a father and spending time at Reed College. We'll have to see how it goes, and I'll certainly give my review of it when I've finished. It is rather strange that this is a book on Christian spirituality, and yet not one Bible verse has been quoted so far.

Here's a few reviews from other folks:

Monday, August 7, 2006

Martha's long ordeal: over

Well, that settles it. "Martha Stewart reached an agreement today with securities regulators to settle civil insider-trading charges, concluding a five-year legal drama that put a dent in her ubiquitous brand." So writes Landon Thomas, Jr., for the New York Times.

Martha will pay $195,000 in fines, which is mere chump change for her (her current net worth appears to be around $970 million). However, she can't serve as CEO or director of any company, including her own MSLO, until Summer 2011. She will be 70 years old before she can control anything again - at least on paper, anyway.

How has Martha fared since she walked out of Camp Cupcake over a year ago? Not too bad at all.
The agreement comes at a time of rising fortunes for Ms. Stewart and her company. Last month, Martha Stewart Living reported improved profits on the back of improved advertising in its publishing and Internet businesses, prompting a sharp recovery in the company’s share price.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

what a friend does

Really: this is as good an example of what friendship is as any other that I've seen.

- from Pearls Before Swine
Proverbs 17:17a (ESV) - "A friend loves at all times..."

you gotta wonder...

When you consider that there was a period of time that passed between creation and Eve's and Adam's decision to bite into that fruit, you just have to ask: what did this beast do during that time?

2 series

There are two great series that I must link to. Read them. They are more worthy of your time and thought than going to Kos' site to read about his glee over Joe Lieberman's impending demise.

Frank Turk's series on marriage, entitled It's Not Up to You: 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Dan Edelen's series on "questions Christians are loathe to confront," entitled Gut Check.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

You might be emerging if...

Some may consider this post on Purgatorio to be old, but I say it's a classic.

I'm certainly not emerging/emergent/whatever and the church I attend doesn't identify itself as such, but I do have The Divine Conspiracy and A Generous Orthodoxy on my bookshelf and U2 CD's in my collection...

tequila before sunrise

Above everything else, the whole situation is just sad. Actor and Oscar-winning director Mel Gibson speeds and is stopped in the early morning hours, the officers ascertain that he's been drinking, and he makes anti-Jewish slurs to the arresting officers. Deputy James Mee, who is Jewish, said he took no "pride in hurting Mr. Gibson." Unsurprisingly, there is controversy as to whether Gibson received some form of star treatment. Gibson has issued an apology, and he has apparently entered rehab. Some say he's a schmuck, others say "it's a nuclear disaster," and Christopher Hitchens believes Gibson is "sick to his empty core with Jew-hatred."

Alcohol is a disinhibitor. A person who is intoxicated might say or do things that normally he or she would not do. I see this frequently at the hospital where I am employed. A drunk person claims to be suicidal, but when the blood alcohol level falls below .08, the suicidal thoughts almost always disappear. Some would say that alcohol always reveals a person's true thoughts, but I'm very hesitant to agree with that. Gibson made some very disheartening statements, but it's hard to know whether he actually believes them or if they were purely alcohol-induced. I'm sure that Gibson wants us to believe the latter. The argument for the former (that Gibson is indeed anti-Semitic) is certainly strengthened when you consider that Gibson spontaneously made his comments about Jewish persons.

Whatever the case, our view of Mel Gibson has now changed, and not for the better...