Showing posts from April, 2011

book report: A God-Sized Vision by Hansen and Woodbridge (2010)

As a life long resident of Connecticut, but also a life long born again Christian, I have no idea what it's like to not live in a mission field. Connecticut, all of New England in fact, has some of the lowest concentrations of evangelical Christians in the nation. This means most (~95%) of my fellow flinty New Englanders do not share my belief in the Bible as the Word of God, in Jesus as the only savior of our souls, in salvation by grace, in a lifestyle of worship characterized by ethics defined biblically, etc. But it wasn't always so in the history of my neck of the woods. I was encouraged to read the similarity of the culture in New England 400 years ago before Jonathan Edwards witnessed a revival, America's First Great Awakening which broke out in his neighborhood of Northhampton, Mass. Then his grandson, Timothy Dwight witnessed a revival at Yale, in New Haven, Conn. a hundred years later. Dwight's observations show me that no matter who the anti-Christian philos…

workshop review: earth bag building with Patti Stouter

A couple weekends ago, a couple guys from my church and I trekked over to Patti Stouter's house to learn from her how to build with dirt and bags and barbed wire. We want to provide permanent shelter for Haitians in a sustainable, affordable, culturally appropriate, disaster resistant manner and she has already designed and seen constructed a few buildings in post-earthquake Haiti. She has a website, Simple Earth Structures, which has a page for training workshops at her house. Her classes are not just for relief minded people such as myself, though she has had much interest from ex-patriot Haitians who want to go back and do something for their friends and family. There are Americans who want to build additions or entire domiciles out of earth bags for themselves, in the USA. One such couple was also in our class.
The class was great. We worked on rubble bags for the first rows of the foundation. Then we mixed dirt to the right mixture of clay and sand and moisture and added them …

book report: Johann Sebastian Bach by Rick Marschall (2011)

Finishing this book was like eating a supreme pizza but in the personal size, oh so good, but not enough. At almost 200 pages, Rick Marschall, has introduced me to a world I'm woefully clueless about and put an intense desire in me to indulge in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach until my ears bleed. My musical upbringing consisted of pop music then heavy metal then grunge then alternative pop music and now my teenagers listen to hip hop. I find myself as the parent who seeks out the classical station on the car radio and at work as well. I have no clue what I'm listening to, or by whom, but now I know what I want to listen to and it seems that if I really wanted, I could listen to Bach for a long time before anything repeated itself. Marschall brings to the forefront an essential dimension of Bach's music, his Lutheran faith. I love this quote of Bach's, "The aim and final reason of all music should be none else but the glory of God and refreshing the soul. Where…

G.O.S.P.E.L. slam poetry

This was part of our service this morning and it made me cry. It is intense.

G.O.S.P.E.L. from Humble Beast Records on Vimeo.

book report: Our Triune God by Ryken and LeFebvre (2011)

Crossway Books has released another book on the Trinity. Last summer, Fred Sander's book, The Deep Things of God, came out, and I was able to read and review it over Christmas break. It was a phenomenal book. Of course, not everything that can be said about the Trinity has been said, but I was curious how the authors of this volume, Philip Ryken and Michael LeFebvre, would distinguish it. Whereas Sanders approached the subject philosophically, but not to the exclusion of the Biblical revelation, Ryken and LeFebvre approach the topic biblically, but not to the exclusion of philosophy.
This book is half the length of Sander's book. It has four chapters. The first chapter, The Saving Trinity, is an exposition on the opening prayer in Paul's letter to the Ephesian church. The second chapter, The Mysterious Trinity, is more philosophical, but surveys the Old Testament, looking at the bread crumbs left by God to point towards the New Testament's fuller revelation. The third …

book report: The Gospel of Ruth by Carolyn Justis James (2009)

The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules by Carolyn Justis James has all theCover via Amazon ingredients of a nutritious meal for the brain yet still comes across as dry, like an over-cooked meatloaf. The study of Ruth is great. The personal anecdotes are powerful. The writing is good. But it lacks vitality. It might be an air of melancholy, but I'm not sure. There is also a glaring omission.
James has done her research well and presents new insights into this short story from the Old Testament. I am very grateful for the new things she has brought to me from recent scholarship. I also found her personal story heart wrenching. She identifies with Ruth as someone who is also in a marriage that did not produce children. Her ability to identify with Ruth's pain and bridge the distance between a character on the page and her own experience is one of the best aspects of this book. But there was another experience that happened in the midst of writing this book, that …

mountain bike riding with my son

I took my 13 year old son out to ride bikes at Haley Farm in Mystic, CT. It's divided from a state park called Bluff Point by train tracks, but connected by a bridge over the tracks. It had rained very hard the night before, so we went over trail that had become streams. We had a great time. We ended up on the beach at one point, and I had to walk my bike because I was riding a hybrid with skinny tires that sank right in. The trails in a Connecticut forest are clear of vegetation but rocks grow in their place. As I was careening down these trails trying to avoid an endo, I thought to myself, this is so much better than a video game. The video below made me think of our ride, but, to be honest, it was not nearly as exciting as this race video via helmet cam.

VCA 2010 RACE RUN from changoman on Vimeo.

book report: Now I walk on death row by Dale Recinella (2011)

There is a local Thai restaurant nearby that let's you pick the number of stars with each meal, one to five. But experienced guests know they can ask for as many stars as they want. I don't know what the authentic level is, but maybe ten stars, and I've tried three stars and shed a few tears. This book is like a New Englander walking into a Thai restaurant for the first time and picking five stars. This book shocks your senses and makes you weep. It's hard to prepare for the intensity of Dale Racinella's life, his commitment to Jesus, his practical love for the outcasts of our society, and his compelling writing. I read this in one day. I didn't want it to end, but I was exhausted. The complete title explains things pretty well, Now I Walk on Death Row, A Wall Street Finance Lawyer stumbles into the Arms of a Loving God. However, he is not on death row for committing a crime, but to be a volunteer minister to those condemned rightly or wrongly but inevitably to…

Will only a few go to heaven?

I read this passage this morning and was arrested by it. Luke 13:23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” So he said to them, 13:24 “Exert every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 13:25 Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, then you will stand outside and start to knock on the door and beg him, ‘Lord, let us in!’ But he will answer you, ‘I don’t know where you come from.’ 13:26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 13:27 But he will reply, ‘I don’t know where you come from! Go away from me, all you evildoers!’ 13:28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves thrown out. 13:29 Then people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and take their places at the banquet table in the kingdom of God. 13:30 But indeed, …

book report: Rediscovering the Church Fathers by Haykin (2011)

Reading this book was like eating chocolate chip cookies freshly baked but short changed on the chips and salt. Everything in here was good, but there was enough missing to leave me dissatisfied. It's not as if Michael A. G. Haykin has any shortcomings in his academic training. He shares his personal experience of "Walking with the church fathers" at the end of the book, though I wish it was at the beginning. The Toronto School of Theology had a diverse faculty of experts from Lithuanian Hebrew Christians to Jesuit scholars. All of whom encouraged him to continue his study in original languages and patristic studies.
I need to insert some of my story here to clarify what expectations to this book. I'm a low church evangelical who is loves church history and is beginning to engage the primary writings, though not in Greek or Latin, and more of the academic literature, including recently finishingPelikan's 1st volume in the development of Christian doctrine, The Eme…

the UmBlog is 6 years old!

I never remember this day of beginning until after the fact, but here is what I wrote on March 24th, 2005.
Purposes I've grown up in the church and still remain committed to staying with this ship of fools until we reach the sunset and the welcome reception of Jesus Christ. I hope to point out the pirates on our journey but also give a hand to my fellow fools who might be accused of piracy.
I think I'm still doing that, after 2059 posts.

I'm a proud UConn alumnus

from the Hartford Courant