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Off the top

A blog dedicated to the Source of everything good.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

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Monday, January 30, 2006

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

End of the Spear: a brief commentary

I stated a couple days ago in my Bits and Pieces post that End of the Spear had only been in my area for a few days. Well, apparently it was kept on longer. I saw it today.

It's a good movie. The gospel is there (in Waodani “terms”) and the story of forgiveness, of “laying down the spear,” is there too. It's not 100% historically accurate (what movie ever is?), but the gist is well-told, and with poignancy.

The bulk of the action features the exploits of the Waodani themselves as explained in dialogue subtitles; it’s dramatic and exciting if a little hard to follow in places. Some explanatory/background text at the beginning of the movie would be helpful. (My husband, who’s really good at following movie plots, got most of it.) I wouldn’t say that the acting is stellar, but the portrayals are effective. The Waodani are fierce, though the missionaries seem rather goofy, even worldly, and naive, if good-hearted (why they don’t pray more is a mystery).

I would’ve liked to see Steve Saint’s friendship with Mincaye (Mincayani) fleshed out more. The movie ends rather abruptly with Mincaye’s confession and Steve’s forgiveness (the event of which as portrayed is historical fiction, but does bring the, uh, point home). But there’s a great video clip* during the final credits in which Saint describes moments from Mincaye’s visit to the U.S., including his impressions of a restaurant drive-thru and a grocery store!

A statement in the credits explained that half of the movie’s profits will be donated toward aid of indigenous peoples such as the Waodani.

For background on the story and comments on End of the Spear, see this article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A timeline can be found at the End of the Spear website (linked above).

*the clip is from Beyond the Gates of Splendor, a documentary of the Waodani and Mincaye's relationship with Steve Saint.

addendum: A fascinating five-part video of an interview with Steve Saint and Mincaye by CBN News can be found here.

yet another item of interest: Steve Saint himself actually appears briefly in the movie and is stunt pilot of the Piper aircraft, an exact replica of the plane flown by his father.

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Bits and Pieces, 1/27/06

just give me Jesus

Jollyblogger “recycles” an “oldie but goodie” with a timeless, relevant-to-the-minute message:

It is not accurate to think 'the gospel' is what saves non-Christians, and then, what matures Christians is trying hard to live according to Biblical principles. It is more accurate to say that we are saved by believing the gospel, and then we are transformed in every part of our mind, heart, and life by believing the gospel more and more deeply as our life goes on.

He speaks of his own journey out of legalism:

He [his pastor] explained to me that salvation was all of grace but so was sanctification. In thinking that the gospel justifies, but obedience sanctifies I had gone down an inevitable road of legalism that was destined to ruin my relationships, sap my joy in following Christ and wear me out. In this little story I have only focused on the relational troubles my legalism produced, but the fact was that I wasn't all that joyful and burnout was always around the corner.

So, at that point I began a long process of understanding the gospel. I'm still not getting it to be honest. Of course I do get it intellectually, but intellectual comprehension is not enough. Understanding the gospel isn't a matter of getting a set of facts straight in your head, it is about believing and resting in Christ every moment of the day.

Pastor Wayne illustrates the difficulty of maintaining moment-to-moment reliance on the gospel: as soon as one has a “truth” realization, pride jumps in and tries to claim it –

The gospel reminds me every day that I am still full of pride and self-sufficiency and this is hard to face, especially for such a fine Christian as myself ;-). Even coming to understand the things I just talked about presents its own struggle because there is now the temptation to think that I have a better understanding of my own sinfulness and need for Christ than you do. "Wretched man that I am, who will free me from the body of this death?"

Indeed, a predicament and question common to us all! Praise God for the answer: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25)


put the spears away

ChristianityToday features an article addressing the controversy that surrounds homosexual actor and activist Chad Allen’s appearance in End of the Spear. In Christian Studio Explains Hiring of Gay Actor, there's an excerpt from Steve Saint's email to Christianity Today Movies regarding Allen's hiring:

I could not imagine how something like this could slip through a professional screening process...After I got over the emotional shock of realizing that a man who has chosen to live a lifestyle in stark contrast to my dad's would actually be playing his role in End of the Spear, I realized I would likely be held responsible for that decision. I wanted the issue to go away. Finally, I realized I was going to have to face what was happening, and there was little chance of coming out unscathed.

Saint had a dream, in which he was
being chased by a mob of Christians who were angry with me for having desecrated ‘their story.’ The answer to their hostility was easy: Just ask Chad to remove himself. But as quickly as this thought came to me, I found myself standing before God. His look was not as compassionate as I had expected. God said, ‘Steve, you of all people should know that I love all of my children. With regard to Chad Allen, I went to great lengths to orchestrate an opportunity for him to see what it would be like for him to walk the trail that I marked for him. Why did you mess with my plans for him?’

I didn’t get a chance to see the movie; it was in my area for only a few days.

(update: I did, in fact, see the movie; it was around for longer than first rumored. Comments above.)


speak the truth in love

In a post titled A Spirit of Fear, Mr. Dawn Treader asks what the Christian’s approach to “the culture” ought to be.
Am I seeing a real trend line, or am I adding to a spirit of fear about rampant moral relativism in our culture?

The ensuing discussion is most interesting, and gets at what I think is a crucial point. From a comment by Rob Ryan:
I think tgirsch's point still holds in that many people who believe there is no objective morality are not in the least offended when others assert that there is. I think morality is subjective, but it would be silly for me to take offense at assertions to the contrary. After all, mine is almost certainly a minority view, and I am a pragmatic person. As you say, it is the tone that really matters. I can take offense even with statements I materially agree with if they are put forth in an arrogant or condescending manner. I think, and I hope, that most others feel the same way.

Whether or not his view that morality is subjective is a minority view or not, his final statement is important.

A previous post is mentioned, the body and comments to which contain more excellent discussion, including this comment by Brian (referenced in the post by the author, Jeff Clinton):
People don't care what you know till they know that you care.

Does this mean that there are none who are hostile to the truth itself but only to the way it’s presented if done so in an offensive way? No, I don’t believe so. But (you knew there was going to be a “but” ;-) ), an offensive presentation may certainly keep a person who might otherwise see the truth from seeing it.

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If you look at the spot in "family "dinner" below where the lamp is attached to the ceiling, you'll see what's in this photo

Thursday, January 26, 2006

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The boards seen at the bottom of this photo have their continuation in "family dinner," third photo below.

(Can you figure out where the water pump light is in relation to this view?)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

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water pump light B&W Posted by Picasa

Ever feel like a French terry shirt?

jersey-knit fabric is smooth on the outside, lightly looped on the inside

(for that fine fleecy feel)*

*from the L. L. Bean online catalog

(update: the catalog's been updated and so has the description...)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

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This is the last installment in this series, which is "explained" in this post. Comments are welcome.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Quote for the day

Idealism can be talked, and even felt; it cannot be lived.

-- C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy

(Lewis is not referring to idealism as a standard to be upheld or a goal to be striven for, but as wishful thinking such that consists of ideals which cannot stand in the face of reality.)

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Four-year-old plays the trumpet

...and he’s not too shabby! Check this out: Prodigy, 4, Plays One Mean Trumpet

When you first see Geoffrey Gallante, he looks like any other four-year-old. He loves doing puzzles and learning flags of foreign countries. But, while other kids are still learning their ABCs, Geoffrey already knows his musical keys.
Geoffrey plays trumpet, and is so good that he jams with a jazz band on Friday nights.

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Great embouchure, Geoffrey!

He's got a big sound, too, for a four-year-old! (There's an audio link with the article.)

It'll be fun to watch Geoffrey's development as a player. I wish him all the best.

(Long ago there was another youngster who got a start on the trumpet, though much later and less auspiciously:)

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me, age 7

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Friday, January 20, 2006

More off the top

Yeah so I’m guilty of plagiarism. What can I say.

Maybe I should move to Canada. Or pursue a new business opportunity...

I could just go see a show.

Bag it all -- how about a haircut!

doorways 4 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Faster than a speeding bullet

Way faster!

Today’s “science class” at the L. family homeschool was even more exciting than usual -- we watched the launch of the New Horizons mission to Pluto live via NASA webcam. What made it especially exciting was the anticipation that had built up through two previous delays (from Tuesday to Wednesday and then today) plus today for about an hour (“T-4 and holding”) due to cloud cover. But shortly after the “green” signal was finally given, younger son was chanting along with the countdown and getting a real-time taste of what he’s been learning about space travel and the solar system from his science book.

New Horizons is headed to edge of the solar system to collect information on the properties of Pluto, its moon Charon, and the Kuiper belt beyond. It will pass our moon at approx. 11:00pm EST tonight (after just 9 hours of flight – Apollo 11 took three days) and reach Jupiter during the spring of 2007. After receiving a boost from Jupiter’s gravitational force, it will hurtle on for another 8 years through the remainder of the solar system.

My sons especially enjoyed hearing reports of the spacecraft’s increasing speed as it left the earth’s atmosphere – the last we heard it was doing close to 17 000 mph (during the second stage). It will reach 36K mph after separation from the third stage and eventually cruise at 47K mph. Cool, huh?

*(a bullet can travel 3500 mph, apparently)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

doorways 3: open door Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Intellectuelle update

If you've got a minute, stop over and see these recent posts at Intellectuelle:

Ashley reflects On being transatlantic, on what it means to both be transient and to feel at home.

Sarah shares testimony given by herself and Joe Carter before the Illinois State Legistlature concerning realities of “therapeutic” cloning. Supporters of said cloning apparently have Egg in the face.

I offer an essay on The experience of truth.

Stay tuned for the addition of a couple new members to the Intellectuelle team.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

The doorway series

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Don’t ask me what it is about doorways...

Some of the first photos I ever took (around jr. high age) were of objects with bold shaped light-vs.-dark patches. I took a ridiculous number of shots of the wall lamp just inside my bedroom door plus part of the door opening. I tried every angle, composition, and light value combination/variation possible. I loved the juxtaposition of the round shapes (the lamp and its shadow) vs. the linear-angular shapes (of the doorway & door shadow). I also loved the smoothness and contrast of the various “panels” of tone created by these objects and the lighting.

Now here I am, ever so many years later, still finding lines, shapes, angles, and various shadings of color fascinating in juxtaposition and in abstraction. What I like most about the abstraction, however, is that it’s not completely abstract (which, to me, would spoil the purpose of the abstraction). What’s fun about it is that much of the association with the entity of origin can be retained while certain elements are partially isolated and given a different relationship or suggestion of relationship. This also means there is no “right” way of viewing such a photo (though I would say that there are wrong ways of viewing it). The suggested relationships are open for exploration/interpretation.

There is another reason I like lights and doorways. Light, of course, has lots of associations: guidance, illumination, clarity, boldness (juxtaposed with its constant companion, shadow: obscurity, darkness). Doorways indicate passage, entrance, exit, shutting out. Combine these elements and you get suggestions about life: open doors, closed doors, doors opened, doors left shut, doors behind which there is clarity and light, doors behind which there is mystery and shadow. Or combinations of these. I also like the metaphor of the door hinge and the door knob. The hinge is what allows a door to open or close; the knob, of course, operates the mechanism by which the door can be opened or shut by an outside (or inside) agent.

Enjoy this series; I welcome your comments.

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

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