28 December 2009

Morgan Freeman: The Power of Words

On the church calendar, today we remember the Holy Innocents. They were the little boys ordered killed by Herod in his desire to make sure the Messiah that the Magi spoke of would not live (Matthew 2).
Unfortunately, extrajudicial killing, torture, and "disappearances" continue. Please help.

25 December 2009

let it get loud

“It might get loud.” So says the Edge, U2’s innovative guitarist. In the movie of the same name, director Davis Guggenheim brings together Jimmy Page, the Edge, and Jack White to discuss their love of—and to play—the electric guitar.

Page does the Edge the honor of referring to his playing as “sonic architecture.” The movie begins with White using a Coke bottle, hammer and nails, wood, a single strand, and a pickup, and he finishes by saying, “Who said you needed to buy a guitar?” Still, when Page—after speaking of the limits of volume and his desire to find sustain, starts playing the momentous chords of “Whole Lotta Love”—that’s when the guitar gods stir from their slumber.

Here’s where I admit my biases. I can appreciate what Jack White is trying to say, but in my humble opinion, Page and the Edge are light years away from him—and, of course, they’re light years away from each other. (Another way of putting it is that I love Zeppelin and U2, but not the White Stripes.) But however different their own styles are, the film brings them back together, and they’re just three guys playing together.

So while my wife is cooking, it’s not a bad way to spend an hour and a half of a Christmas day!

11 December 2009

running for running water

We awoke this morning to discover that our water pipes had frozen overnight. With no running water, we drove into town (we live out in the country) to use the bathroom at the church and to buy some bottled water at the store. I’m aware of the ecological nightmare that bottled water is, but this was an emergency! Or so we thought…

Before leaving, we called the plumber and left a message on his machine. Upon returning, we found that he had left a message on our machine. He was planning to arrive in about an hour. After putting some heat tape on the pipes, the water was flowing freely.

In about two hours, we had regained a substance that millions, if not billions, of people around the globe still do not have—clean, easily available water. Something to consider the next time we’re tempted to simply waste some H2O.

03 December 2009

a day to look in the mirror

A week from now, Thursday the 10th, is Human Rights Day.  Unfortunately, it seems like it's becoming a day whose cause fewer Americans care about.  Glenn Greenwald notes that a Pew Research Center poll released today indicates that 54% of Americans believe torture is "often" or "sometimes" justified.

Whatever the statistical margin of error for that percentage, it seems clear that about half of us aren't even as concerned about it as was Ronald Reagan when he signed the UN Convention Against Torture.  Ironically, it was his predecessor, Jimmy Carter, who made human rights a key focus of US foreign policy.

Politics aside, it is disturbing that the spiritual state of our nation has regressed to this extent.