:: Saturday, May 24, 2003 ::

Five books for online ministry
While messing around with my online bookstore today, I thought I'd post my picks for the five most beneficial books for online ministry (excluding those written by me, of course). These are all "secular" books that have helped to shape my view of online ministry. I wonder what others think about the choices?
Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Life on the Screen, by Sherry Turkle.
  • Give Me That Online Religion, by Brenda E. Brasher.
  • Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web, by David Weinberger.
  • The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business As usual, by Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls and David Weinberger.
  • The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier, by Howard Rheingold.

  • :: Andrew 14:06 + ::
    :: Friday, May 23, 2003 ::

    Friday Five time again
    Something easy for the Friday-morning brain -- and some free product placement for a few of my favorite companies. I'm such a tool for the capitalist machine.

    1. What brand of toothpaste do you use?

    2. What brand of toilet paper do you prefer?
    I have no idea. But I always got a kick out of those old Mr. Whipple ads for "squeezably soft" Charmin.

    3. What brand(s) of shoes do you wear?
    Sketchers is my brand of choice for casual wear. For running, I wear Reebok.

    4. What brand of soda do you drink?
    I don't drink soda.

    5. What brand of gum do you chew?
    Big Red. I love cinnamon gum. Plus, with Big Red, you can share the gospel when you share a stick of gum. How cool is that?

    :: Andrew 07:47 + ::
    :: Wednesday, May 21, 2003 ::

    The theology of Bruce AlmightyInterview with Bruce Almighty director Tom Shadyac
    Searching the blogs, I haven't found much about the theology behind the latest Jim Carrey vehicle, Bruce Almighty, which opens this weekend. We bloggers go on and on and on about the theology behind The Matrix and its veiled references to a deity, but apparently we don't have much to say about a flick that portrays God in a much more obvious fashion.

    For a better look at the theology behind the movie, go straight to the source: the director. That's what ChristianAnswers.net did with an insightful interview with director Tom Shadyac. (Thanks to JuniorHighPastor.com for the link.) A few quotes from the director, probably taken way out of context:

    I think that one of the challenges of the church is to accept humanity for all it is. And I as a filmmaker am not going to deny that. I think it's important to acknowledge that we are imperfect. If you followed some standards today, you couldn't even read your Bible. I mean the Bible is chocked-full of some racy stuff, folks. There is a lot of sexual impropriety, there's a lot of violence, and all kind of things. But the point of the Bible is that it's not about a moment, its about the entire journey. Because if the Bible hadn't ended where it ended, it be a pretty downer of a book. But it ends with redemption. ...

    I think there's subtle messages all over this story. And the great thing is you can take them for what you will--wherever you're at on your particular spiritual walk. For example, I accidentally ran into Father, Son, and Holy Ghost analogies because of Morgan playing the electrician, the janitor, and the boss. Many of these elements were intentional and many were coincidental. Which is one of my favorite sayings: "Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous."

    Christians have a tendency to talk about religious movies as being ones that deal with religion implicitly and it's just not true. This one happens to have it God in it, so it seems like a religious movie, but so many movies can be spiritual movies, but we somehow don't see them that way because they're not about a priest or a nun or a minister. Take for example the movie Scent of a Woman. The movie Scent of a Woman is really the book of Ecclesiastes -- but how many Christians stayed away from it because there was cursing and because he slept with a hooker?

    It's a good interview. Go read it. And while you're at it, check out this report: Hollywood Giving God the Close-up Treatment.

    :: Andrew 13:38 + ::
    :: Tuesday, May 20, 2003 ::

    Work avoidance
    Well, I've been reading through weblogs and news sites for the past hour now, and blogging about a few of them. (Results below.) Such an unproductive day to spend the day off. But the ring finger, sans wedding band, is feeling much better today, the swelling has gone down considerably, and I think the typing is helping the healing process. So, time to get to work on something "productive" -- ah, how Protestant work ethicish of me -- like real writing, book writing.

    :: Andrew 08:34 + ::

    An encounter with the Street Doctor
    Scroll down to the May 18 entry for an interesting story and a picture of David, taken by the Street Doc himself. P.S. to David: Thanks for the photo. (And yes, we do look grand.) I'll post it here soon.

    :: Andrew 08:32 + ::

    Christians and "Survivor"
    I've never watched an entire episode of any of the Survivor programs, but I've been fascinated by the way some evangelical Christians who were contestants in the game used it as a springboard for sharing their faith. And I've wondered why professing Christians would even want to participate in such a cutthroat activity in the first place. This ChristianityToday.com interview with season four winner Vecepia Towery-Robinson addresses the issue as well. In a game with so much deception and maneuvering, it may be surprising that several past survivors have been Christians. In fact, two of the six winners, season two's Tina Wesson and season four's Vecepia Towery-Robinson were regularly shown practicing their Christian faith. For Vecepia, the decision to try out for the reality show was divinely inspired.

    I've also been interested in how others have tried to use Survivor contestants as "Christian celebrities," along the lines of Christian sports heroes like Kurt Warner. One entrepreneurial webmaster, Brent R. High of FaithSite.com, created a Christ-centered fan site for Tina Wesson, TinaW.com, as an evangelistic outreach to the lost in cyberspace. According to this press release on the site, "We are incredibly excited about the possibilities Tina's website holds for reaching lost souls," High says. Unfortunately, the site has not been updated since the fall of 2001, the link to the message boards is broken. What kind of witness is that to the online world?

    :: Andrew 08:24 + ::

    Notes from a church planting conference
    Jon Reid posts some thoughts from the Vineyard Northwest Church Planting Conference and mentions two books I need to add to my reading list.

    :: Andrew 08:07 + ::

    Matrix theology
    Nathan Bierma has pulled together a nice list of links to articles about theology in The Matrix movies, as well as reviews and other commentary, at his Books and Culture weblog.

    For those of you who can't get enough of Agent Smith, visit The Last Free City and enjoy the popups.

    :: Andrew 07:52 + ::
    :: Monday, May 19, 2003 ::

    As expected, bankruptcy
    Received a letter today from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Western District of Louisiana informing me of a creditors meeting in the case of Huntington House/Vital Issues Press, publisher of my first book. It seems Huntington House's parent corporation, Huntington Advertising Agency, Inc. (I never knew it was an ad agency), has filed Chapter 7. (If you click on the Huntington House site above, you'll land on the web page of a group known as Alpha Publishing, and the first words you'll see are these: Our Future is getting brighter! A rather strange statement from an insolvent company.)

    Faithful readers of this blog will recall an earlier post about problems collecting past-due royalties. I finally hired an attorney in order to obtain the copyright for E-vangelism from Huntington House in exchange for forfeiture of the royalties I'd never have collected anyway.

    I won't be attending the creditors meeting. This is all behind me now. Really, it is.

    :: Andrew 18:58 + ::

    The ring is gone, but the finger remains
    The plain gold wedding band I've worn for nearly 18 years was removed from my finger this morning by an RN with a talent for sawing through thick metal. Better to lose the ring than the finger, though, and that was the choice I faced.

    How this came to pass: I jammed my ring finger playing basketball Sunday afternoon. I thought nothing of it; I jam a finger almost every time I play basketball. I pulled the finger back into place and kept playing. It didn't hurt any more than previous finger jams. Throughout the evening, I noticed a slight swelling but thought nothing of it.

    Then I awoke around 4 a.m. today with a throbbing pain in my finger just above my ring and up into the knuckle. Not a good sign.

    I went into the bathroom, flipped on the light, and saw that my ring finger had turned a purplish-red, and the knuckle had swollen to nearly twice its normal size.

    Dyann took a look and we agreed she would drive to the emergency room. It was the first time I'd been to an ER since the summer after ninth grade, at which time I required stitches after slicing open the palm of my hand while climbing a fence. Fortunately, this morning was a slow morning in the ER, and they tended to me right away. The RN sliced the ring right off, using a tiny sawblade that looked like a miniature pizza slicer. The doctor inspected his work and the finger, then prescribed something to dull the pain and some other pill, an anti-inflammatory tablet, and sent me off to X-ray. The X-ray showed no fracture, which I think disappointed the ER doc. He wanted to call in an orthopedic surgeon to take a look at the finger, but I told him I'd follow up with my own physician, so reluctantly he told the RN to put a splint on the finger, and then I was released. I took the splint off about 30 minutes ago. (Can't type with a splint.) So now, the swelling's subsided, the knuckle is returning to its normal size, and the pain has mostly gone away. Which is a good thing, because I took the day off in order to do some writing.

    As for the wedding band, it can always be repaired.

    :: Andrew 07:25 + ::

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