Archive for August, 2007

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Breaking News: “Automatic Messaging”

August 20, 2007

Due to recent discoveries by leading linguists, software engineers at the University of Toronto are developing Automatic Messaging software. “What we’ve discovered is that there are roughly 5 IM (instant messaging) conversations that people have” saidTracy McMillan, head of linguistic studies, at a recent press conference detailing the new software. John Claverty, head of the software engineering program, continued “the key was to find ways to save time for the young people of today. I felt bad for them, having 15 conversations going at once, trying to keep all their friends happy. Dealing with drama” he continued, “We’ve created software based on keywords that automatically provides responses to common questions like, Sup? Huh? WTF? Allowing young people more time to focus on things like studying.”

What is most interesting about this development program is a rare show of cooperation between an Arts faculty and a Science faculty. At a campus already fractured by its college system this move goes a long way towards reconciliation. “It says to the arts colleges, if the liberal arts and sciences can get along, why can’t one Art college get along with another?” Says McMillan.

In other news, squirrels attack philosophy major student, thinking he’s nuts.

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The Great Divorce

August 19, 2007

I’ve just finished reading the Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. This is an allegory probing heaven and hell in a similar way that The Screwtape Letters did with demons. Having read the whole book in a cursory fashion over the last day I am struck with a few thoughts.

One is that Lewis is brilliant at writing not to others but to the individual. By this I mean that at least one of the characters used as an example spoke directly to my faults. I think anyone would be hard pressed to read this and not hear Lewis speaking directly to them at given points. The idea that we have to completely let go of ourselves to have God, and all the ways we can hold on to ourselves, are frighteningly relevant 62 years after The Great Divorce was written.

This particular paragraph spoke right to me:
“There have been men before now who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God Himself… as if the good Lord had nothing to do but exist! (…) It is the subtlest of all the snares”

Another thing about Lewis’ writing in General, and this book specifically, is how accessible the writing is.  The Great Divorce, allegory aside, is also an enjoyable read.  Lewis has a delightful mastery of prose.  As well he has George MacDonald as his Virgil in this story.

My last thought on this book (for this post anyway) is a quote used from Harper’s Magazine.  C.S. Lewis “makes you sure, whatever you believe, that religion accepted or rejected means something very serious.”  Whether you believe in God or not The Great Divorce is an important read to get a glimpse into the spiritual consequences of how we live our lives.

I have a copy I could lend you.

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Friday Five #2

August 17, 2007

Well it’s another Friday and another top five for you all. I’ve been listening to more music but don’t think I have enough new songs to give you a good new selection of music. This week instead will be the top 5 things to come out of the eighties. That is right, I’m under the impression that we can do some work at redeeming the 80s this week.

#5 Peter Gabriel. An artist who can trace most of his biggest hits to the 80s Peter Gabriel may be one of the more brilliant songwriters and arrangers out there. While songs like 99 red balloons dominated the air Peter Gabriel released subversively intelligent music like “Red Rain” and “In Your Eyes”. I say subversive because it also did quite well on the charts. He is someone I hope I get to see live.

#4 Footloose. A fun movie about dancing, rock n’ roll, and the small town mentality. Also has a great song by Kenny Loggins.

#3 The Police. As you can read here I love the Police. They came from the eighties. That is all.

#2 The Princess Bride. I really don’t think you can talk about this movie. All I can say is that it is hilarious, fun, and an all around good time. I heartily recommend it. I’ve linked to what may be the greatest scene in any movie ever. Which also features a line that I frequently use in Risk.

#1 U2. I throw them here because they too are amazing. It’s hard to call a band that has managed to stay relevant and continues to have chart topping albums an “eighties” band. But if you have such classic albums as “The Joshua Tree” released in the eighties there is no choice but to place these guys at the top of the list. The song I linked to has one of my favorite solos of all time in it. As well as my favorite Edge solo.

Notable Mentions… MTV, Michael Jackson, and I was born in ’87, so you can throw me on this list if you want.

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Dating tips for Christian Girls…

August 15, 2007

I think these ten dating tips may be the most important thing a Christian girl ever reads. How I found them is unimportant, how amazing they are is.
My personal favorites are:

5: If he reaches his arm around you… Tell him no one will ever be as close to you as Jesus is. (Or ask if you could “lay hands” on him in prayer)

6: If he tries to kiss you… Remind him that a kiss killed your savior (and you’re not ready to “speak in tongues”)

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Learning to Follow.

August 13, 2007

This was supposed to be a book but I don’t have the attention span.

I started writing about this last summer, but Brant Hansen reminded me of it today a few days ago with this post, (though why this one didn’t do it I’m not sure).

Perhaps we’re not all supposed to be leaders. I for one have noticed the trend that there are a lot of books about leading, leadership, being in charge, getting it your way, being a tyrant… ok, that last one may have been a bit extreme. My personal pet peeve is servant leadership. We talk a lot about how Jesus modelled servant leadership, and how that is to be our model. This seems to become yet another way of justifying leadership positions without much thought into the whole servant part of it.

Interesting fact, the phrase servant leadership doesn’t appear in the bible… ever. The idea of service, helping others, appears lots. It seems that the idea “Jesus was a leader therefore I’m supposed to be a leader too” is a bit skewed. Jesus was (and is) God on earth, and even he was willing to get down on his knees and wash his disciples feet. He was willing to touch the lepers to heal them, not send money, not say a prayer as he walked past, but actually put his hands on their (let’s be honest here) pretty gruesome bodies to help them.

So where am I going with this? I’m not sure. A friend of mine had this quote on his facebook profile and it is startling in its pointedness.

“If we were to set out to establish a religion in polar opposition to the Beatitudes Jesus taught, it would look strikingly similar to the pop Christianity that has taken over the airwaves of North America.”
– Tony Campolo

This, for me, is what the problem is. We want the blessings of the beatitudes before we have the attitude. We want and demand the privileges of leadership like Christ had, before we take on Christ’s character. We even go so far as to avoid, ignore, and even deny the hardships Christ faced to justify our privileged and comfortable positions. Some do it to justify the fact that they look a lot less like new testament pastors and apostles and more like old testament kings.

To a great extent I’m revealing my own hypocrisy here, I’m not much of a Christian or follower of Christ. On the other hand, I don’t claim to be a leader. I’m still working on the servant part, still learning to follow.

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A Saint for Toronto… And Telephones.

August 12, 2007

I thought this was a really cool story.

Regardless of how you feel about the whole sainthood process, the catholic church, or christianity in General, seeing a story about someone who rises above the hardship life has dealt them and turn it into something positive is humbling and inspiring.

Check it out.

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The Friday Five #1

August 10, 2007

In a promise that mirrors the one I made about posting every day, I now plan every friday to give you my top five somethings. It will most likely be music, but if every friday was a top 5 songs it might get repetitive fast. Anyway here are my top five songs this week. (Videos linked to where available)
#5 If I Never See Your Face Again, Maroon 5: Apart from lead singer Adam Levine’s obsession with sex Maroon 5 is a fantastic band. I am currently jealous of Rylan and Kaili’s (my siblings) who are going to see them when they come through Toronto in the fall. I will be on the east coast. The best part about their live shows is that Adam Levine will actually play solos, which never (except for kiwi) appear on their records.

#4 Plastic, Rob Mathes: My sister loves this song, which is from the album evening train. Rob Mathes is a lesser known artist but is behind the scenes doing arrangements for everything from rap to rock to pop. I’m not sure where to classify this one, some soft rock, some jazz, and some pop all make their appearance in this tune. I’m trying to figure out an arrangement of this song for my sister.

#3 Umbrella, Rihanna: I have an obsession with pop. I don’t necessarily like hip hop or R&B but I’m a sucker for a great melody and great hooks. Both of which this song has. I don’t really need to say much about it because you’ve already heard it.

#2 Paperthin Hymn, Anberlin: If you don’t already know I’m kind of a big fan of Anberlin. I hadn’t listened to this song in a while but rediscovered it this week. They are excellent songwriters and this song represents a great part of what they do. Heavy Riffs, Stephen Christian’s haunting vocals and lyrics both poetic and slightly incomprehensible (unlike the Tragically Hip, which are just incomprehensible). The video is pretty good too.

#1 The Clincher, Chevelle: This song is another rediscovery of mine. The melody for the chorus popped into my head last week and I put it back on my iPod. This is Chevelle’s greatest song of all time, from my least favorite album of their’s: “This type of thinking (could do us in)”. Heavy riffage, screams, and amazing vocals and two part harmonies are what make this song so good.