Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Every Man Has His Price...

Carlos Delgado, who was recently traded to the Mets part of the Florida Marlins attempt to move back to the ranks of decent Triple A ball clubs, will no longer be "permitted" to protest the current war in Iraq.

For the past 2 years Delgado has refused to stand for the playing of God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch out of quiet protest because he believed that it came to represent he has said is "the stupidest war ever." Apparently the New York Mets have a team policy against "any form of individual protest" while working.

When asked about Delgado's protest Mets manager Willie Randolph said that he expects his players to "stand at attention and honor the flag" during the song.

Now it seems as if someone who has refused to stand out of deep conviction for 2 seasons would have an ideological problem with the New York Mets policy, but you'd be surprised what being on a good team does to one's convictions.

When asked about having to honor the flag during his welcome press conference Delgado said "I think the most important thing about integrity is to realize what your priorities are. I'm a baseball player, I'm not a political activist."

[pause to allow you to reread this statement]

Delgado continued talking about his integrity by saying "I'm employee No. 21," (referring to his new uniform number,) "I'm here to follow orders."

This of course has inspired all the normal ranting from sports talk show hosts and conlumnists. Some have said that the Mets' policy is "unamerican" and Delgado should be allowed to protest, while others say that it's a no brainer to not allow protests because you're getting paid to do a job, not push your own political agenda.

I think the thing that stands out the most to me about this story isn't about whose "rights" are more important, but rather that a "celebrity" who has made some very public statements about his opposition would so willingly change his tune to play for a contender.

Tell us Carlos, how's it feel to know what integrity REALLY means?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

CPT kidnapping

If you haven't come across this yet, three or four (depending on the report) peace activists were kidnapped in Iraq, one being Norman Kember, a member of the Christian Peacemaker Team in Iraq.

" In a "Statement of Conviction," the long-term Team members stated that they "are aware of the many risks both Iraqis and internationals currently face," and affirmed that the risks did not outweigh their purpose in remaining. They express the hope that "in loving both friends and enemies and by intervening non-violently to aid those who are systematically oppressed, we can contribute in some small way to transforming this volatile situation."

CPT does not advocate the use of violent force to save lives of its workers should they be kidnapped, held hostage, or caught in the middle of a conflict situation."
CPT is a group of special concern for many of us. Paco has been through the CPT training and many of the people involved in my church are also associated with various CPT projects. This group is an organization of several "Peace" church groups and are in many places of the world bearing witness to the peace of Christ. May we be inspired and convicted by the witness of peace that these people live out and work toward peace and justice in hope of the release of our brothers and sisters.

Here's an updated article about Norman Kember, the CPT connection form the UK. These are quotes from a friend of his:

"He was only meant to be there for two weeks and he certainly wasn't spying," he said. "It was purely a gesture of solidarity with other people suffering - that's what he was doing."

What is interesting is tracing the role of faith for the people involved, with many references to CPT or the work being done as a "US-based human rights group." While I know some people in CPT would be reluctant to speak of Jesus in their work, I believe that some coverage may be overstating the NGO activist label and underemphasizing the peace church basis.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving...what is it good for?

I thought I'd continue with the budding nihilism on this board in the "what is it good for?" series. If anyone knows anything about me, it's that I'm always tempted by nihilism...but not today... Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite days of life. Ever since I was a boy I always tried to make thanksgiving the best day anyone could imagine. There were the plays that my brother and I put on, reenacting the "first thanksgiving", making hats of all sorts out of paper bags, bringing together indian and pilgrim just the way we were thought it happened at school. Then, while sitting around the table, I would make everyone say what they were thankful for before we started feasting. Also, after the first round of food, I would make everyone play the greatest game ever, 20 questions, where one person would be a person place or thing and everyone else could ask up to 20 yes or no questions to figure out who the person is. Finally, the rest of the day I would beat my brother at video game football, watch so much tv, and then fall asleep under a nice warm blanket in my heated homes to the sounds of loving family and many many things.


But shouldn't I? Aren't I carrying on as much as anyone else that, to quote dusty, "
We are the most conceited, wasteful, destructive culture this world has ever known, and we are only getting worse." Should not my stomach be turning over as I drink starbucks coffee, watch the ad campaign that is thanksgiving parades, and type on a laptop? Shouldn't I be repenting to every pro-military patriotic American that they are right that it is the perpetual war that represents modern american history that ensures my "security"?

I guess my point is this: we can and should be thankful for everything in our lives, and our thanks should be to those around us and to God who is the source of all good things. In the case of most everyone writing and reading on here, we have a lot to be thankful for. We're all eating something somewhere today. We're all warm enough. We're all able to access the internet. Paco, if anyone, would be able to question these things. But beyond just recognizing our surroundings, we have a biblical mandate to relax, enjoy the world, and realize that in so doing we are enjoying and worshiping God.

Jesus, while living his life on the road, stopped in a village to spend some time with some friends and take a load off of his weary feet. A woman named Martha welcomed him into her house and she had a sister called Mary, who sat around with Jesus, and listened to him talk with everyone else in the house. While she may have looked like she had no interest in serious matters, she just wanted to hear what Jesus was saying, trying to take it all in. Martha, however, was distracted with much serving, and she went up to Jesus and said, "doesn't it bother you that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me." But Jesus answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the right thing, which will not be taken away from her."

Let us not be overzealous for service, justice, and right living as we understand it. Jesus has shown the way. Let us learn what it means to be so radically present, living in thanksgiving and peace, that the powers are threatened not necessarily by our strong words or call to radical action but rather our simple life together. May we be a witness to another way, one in which the thanksgiving I have for my life of comfort overflows into the lives around me. Don't get me wrong, I agree with Dusty that faithfully following Jesus requires the rejection of all uses of military force or any allegiance to a body other than the church. But just as much it means being willing to take a seat on the floor, get under a blanket, and be with each other without complaining. It means going to someone's house and feasting as much as having the poor into the church to partake of the Eucharist (and then into our houses). It means drinking wine with friends as much as the consecrated wine of the Supper. It means honest and serious talk about all that is true and beautiful as much as it means serious talk about all that is broken and evil. It means being thankful for the day of Thanksgiving as well as speaking out against genocide, racial profiling, and selective historical memories. Finally, it means celebrating the peace that is present while strongly saying that the only true peace is the peace of Christ and our peace is in spite of the violent powers we live under, not because of it. The easy way is the way of the "unthoughtful evangelical" and the "righteously angry activist protestant," the hard way is the way of Jesus, where these things are all together.

What is more radical? Protesting our own lives or inviting someone into it? Which is more faithful, rejecting Americans or embracing the un-American? Am I more of a Christian if I move to the other side of the world to love someone or if I love the people around me? How can we even be asking this question? Have someone new into your home. Sit at their feet and talk. Or go sit by the feet of someone without a home. Let someone host you. Be thankful together for those things that America (or anyone else) has no control or say over; snow, animals, life, joy, peace, creation. Sometimes we're too busy in the kitchen, "serving," and we boldly go into the living room to tell Jesus to tell all the evangelicals or whoever else to get off their asses and do something and I think Jesus may be saying to us: "Midwest Mindset, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the right thing, which will not be taken away from her."

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Faithless Living

Jonny asked me to expound on this a bit. Which I feel obligated to do, because if Jonny thinks it is worth talking about, than I know I have touched on something worthwhile...

My question is somewhat in response to the idea of "freedom not being free" and our new friend who questioned our lack of support of the troops. Is it simply faithlessness on the part of believers to support war? A lot of people look to the Old Testament to justify their war positions. However, I think it presupposes America as the new "chosen nation", for one. For another, it presupposes that our leaders our capable of knowing the willing of God...I am not quite comfortable offering that level of trust to any presidential administration I have witnessed.

I believe it also presupposes our form of Civil religion is a faith that God reacts, respects, and responds to. I think that is hard to believe. If our main point in war is to "protect our way of life", then we have to be living in such a way that Christ is evident in that way of life. I doubt any of us would believe that on here. We are the most conceited, wasteful, destructive culture this world has ever known, and we are only getting worse. This has nothing to with the Christ I see.

So, if we see the need for military to protect our way of life, does that indicate a faithless life?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Poverty...What is it good for?

There's this idea that Americans fight when things need fighting. Taxation without representation? Fight. The preservation of the Union? Fight. The march of the Third Reich? Fight. A solid majority of Americans got behind these fights. And so we fought. And the "good guys," a.k.a. us, won.

But this idea that Americans fight when things need fighting has some pretty gaping holes (ignoring, for the moment if you will, the pacifist argument). Grenada, Vietnam, Mexico -- for reasons such as "protecting American students," "Soviet containment," and (let's not forget) "failing to salute the American flag."

Dusty, I don't think it's safe to assume that "given there is no draft, that most people involved in the war are supporting it." People sign up for the military to fight the WWIIs, not the Vietnams. They trust that their government won't lead them to war based on questionable/discredited intelligence or for failing to salute American flags.

But even that statement, that people sign up to fight the WWIIs, might be a false assumption. Can we assume that everyone in the military, draft or no, is there because they want to fight? No, no and no. People join for lots of reasons -- to help pay for college, travel around the world, gain technical experience, please their parents, have some pictures in uniform for their congressional run, and get out of inner-city gangs, small town life or bone-crushing poverty.

Sure, there were plenty of people who joined post-9/11 to fight terrorism, but not enough to meet the current needs of the American military. Why else do you think Army recruiters roam Black and Hispanic neighborhoods all over the U.S. looking for would-be soldiers? Because minorities hate terror more than white people?

Like always, America fights its wars on the backs of the poor and oppressed. Can't get white college grads like Jonny Rice to join the Marines? Then check out the inner city.

So my solution for supporting the troops? Speak out for the poor and oppressed. The day we get rid of hopeless poverty and make it possible for everyone to get the technical/academic education they desire (without joining the army), the military establishment will "wither on the vine," as it were. If you stop the primary source of recruitment for the military, you'll make it impossible for our country to go to war without a true-blue "all volunteer" army.

That doesn't stop the government from lying to our faces the next time they want to go to war. But it does make it difficult for them to maintain the military manpower necessary for a war that 60% of Americans now believe was a mistake.

And because it makes it difficult for the military to maintain sustained combat-actions based on crap intelligence and post-terror-attack-furor, I think we'd see the chances for combat-actions (anywhere, anytime) drop dramatically.

So then ideally (at least, in my mind), all that we're left with are the wars most Americans feel were really worth it -- the wars against actual terrorists, or colonial oppression, or genocidal, fascist dictators.

That is, if you believe those wars are worth fighting in the first place. But that's another conversation entirely.

Friday, November 18, 2005

War...What is it good for?

I feel like this subject has been used before, but I have a question that I have been thinking about for a while, and the Midwestmindsetters may be the place for this conversation to have some merit.

How does one oppose war and support the troops? Note, I don't really care if you think this Iraq war is great...I want to know from people that seem to have the ever so fashionable opinion that the war is bad, but we can still support the troops...What does that look like?

Also note, I am not suggesting that we start protests of the men and women of the armed forces. I am suggested that to oppose this war, as I do, how do support our troops. I think getting them out of useless, chaotic war would support them. However, don't we have to assume, given there is no draft, that most people involved in the war are supporting it?

So hit me with it...


What's Missing? CH_ _ CH

About five years ago I remember sitting in a class with Dr. Bergler at Huntington and he talked about one of the most brilliant ideas I had ever heard. He traveled quite a bit visiting different students on PRIME and had the privilege of seeing so many different church signs and it motivated him an idea to create a coffee table book with pictures of the best signs he found.

every time Meri and I pass buy this church in Independence on the way to the movies we both shake our heads at the absurdity, and almost every time Meri asks, "where do they come up with these things?"

Well, the answer is found right here.

701 Sentence Sermons.

If that's not enough, there's 701 MORE Sentence Sermons.

1402 Church Signs. 1 a week = 26+ years of brilliant signs.

I saw this at the Christian Bookstore today and picked it up to see if maybe someone had beat Bergler to the punch. The book is set up in an amazing way. There is the Sentence Sermon followed by...
Effectiveness: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
That way you can be sure to use the most useful

I always thought that everyone thought these signs were super cheesy except for pastors who make their janitors (or Youth Pastors, often viewed in the same light) put the signs up but apparently this is a lucrative industry.

So what are some of your favorites? Post them in the comments.

Monday, November 14, 2005

stupid christian stuff

I thought this would be the perfect thing for all you ipod loving jerks. I know that most of you have higher class ipods, but if any of you have the shuffle, here's a great item that turns your ipod shuffle into a cross that you can wear around your kneck, making explicit your dual love of Jesus and capitalism. I quote from the ibelieve website:

"Inspired by the world's obsession and devotion to the iPod, iBelieve is a replacement lanyard for your iPod Shuffle. It is a social commentary on the fastest growing religion in the world...Just toss your old cap habit, pop on the divine iBelieve and rejoice!"

The Nature of "Belief"

If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth...

So how do we believe?

This is kind of taking Amos question a little broader, but also relating to the nature of salvation as well.

I really don't have much to offer on this account. However, I question the formulaic concepts presented in four point gospel presentations...of, course, I do, because I read too much Don Miller...

What do you guys think about belief?


22,000 Dollars!

Okay I promise I will stop posting money amounts after this. But my parents have collected around 22,000 dollars! This blows my mind. When I first appealed for donations I figured maybe we could get 5,000 or something. I second Erinn's optimism. My faith in HU and surrounding community has been partially restored. Wow! The 500 families living in the village of Bab, now have been given a chance at new life! But there are still more villages that have not been reached and in some ways the situation is still very grimm as the first snows of winter have started to fall. Anyway, thank you for you hard work and for caring a least a little (or a lot).

Meanwhile it seems to be getting crowded around this lil website, huh? That's exciting. Too bad, I am leaving tommorow for a remote village with no electricty for two months. Oh well, I will talk to you guys later I guess.

Oh and I got this amazing package from friends which including many good good things, but now I fully acknowledge that the New Sufjan is amazing! I wish I could have participated in Sufjan week now. Dang

Friday, November 11, 2005

God Hates PA

So I go through these phases. No, not circadian rhythms, though I guess I do have those. I mean these phases where I care to talk about Pat Robertson, and other phases where I couldn't really give a crap what the heck he says.

But he's at it again. And because Jake is abroad, I guess it falls on my shoulders to point out the singularity that is Pat Robertson with his foot in his mouf.

We had elections this week. Not many big ones, mind you. But a few. In one race an 18-year-old was elected mayor in my old hometown of Hillsdale, MI. And apparently, as I was trying to find a link for you, I noticed that I missed his appearance on Late Nite with David Letterman. Rats.

But also this past election day, school board members of Dover, PA who favored the teaching of intelligent design were voted off the island. Or boardroom. Whichever is more appropriate.

But of course, that's not the story. The real story started when Pat Robertson opened his mouth:

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city."

No mention of the fact that they won't be able to turn to Allah, Krishna or alien scientists from Alpha Centauri. But I'm thinking his statement was just truncated by the NY Times and CBS News. It's no secret that Dan Rather is quite the liberal scoundrel and cheat -- a killer of puppies and innocent panda cubs, too, from what I hear.

Robertson continued, "God is tolerant and loving, but we can't keep sticking our finger in His eye forever. If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin, maybe he can help them."

Charles Darwin, indeed. Unknown to Robertson, as a youth Darwin had "excellent athletic abilities, being a swift runner and an excellent rock thrower." Touche, good fellow!

Also, from my understanding of God, and maybe someone could back me up, he doesn't have eyes. While it is true that Jesus does have eyes, from the Gospel accounts, I would contend that if one were to stick their finger in his eye, he would allow said person to stick another said finger in his other eye.

Cause that just the way he rolls.

So Pat....

...oh wait, I just stopped caring.

The End.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


So sure, I'll climb on this bandwagon. Thanks, Jonny, for inviting me. Long have I eyed this beauty of a blog from afar, and now I'll take a turn at the reins. And reign.

I scrolled down and noticed that Jake requested some pertinent, personal info from those who are newly enlisted. Ok, so for those of you who don't read my awesomely great blog every five seconds, here goes.

I now am called Liza, but am the HC alum formerly known as Elizabeth Swart. I live in Denver, am completely broke, and work as a massage therapist for a living. (I know! Weird, but true!) Currently, I am sitting in a little studio apartment in Manitou Springs (for more info, google pot, hippies, lesbians or wicca) borrowing some hi speed net from a buddy. I am almost done with massage therapy school, whereupon I'll probably move back in with my parents like a bum, sit on my bum, and then work 100 jobs to try to pay off my student loan before September when I hope to attend Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. Hopefully, hopey hopey. That would involve an M.A. in Theology and the Arts that is nearly as useless as my B.A. in English.

Ah, my buddy just started playing a drum.

So, that is about it. Woody Allen. Dusty Abshire. Ben & Jerry's Pistachio.

Keep it real. And just 'cause I'm out west don't mean I'm not midwest where it counts.

Universalism: Hopeful or otherwise?

Dusty will probably roll his eyes when he reads this, as I've assumed the role of a "hopeful universalist" for well over a year now. Some of you know, my current situation is one of very little inherent academic stimulation, as I've been working an extremely blue-collar job as a maintenance technician at an apartment complex. This job, temporary as it may be, has brought me into contact with some really raw people, and has caused me to reevaluate my theology of salvation. Here's where I waveringly stand. (And I'm the type of guy who loves feedback which challenge/oppose my views... so go ahead).

Let's just simplify my universalist views into a neat, 3-pronger. First, how can I choose salvation, when I didn't choose my sinful nature. Romans 5:12 talks about how sin entered the world through one man, and thus through one man, salvation entered the world. It seems incongruent to say, "Adam sinned, therefore I have a sinful nature," but also "salvation comes only to those who say 'Yes' to Jesus's gift of life." If Christ really is the second Adam (that is, the reversal of the curse), everyone must be covered in this grace.

Second, lets think eschatologically. Can two separate realms exist eternally? Do not even Calvinist and Arminianist theology hold to the understanding that God will obliterate Satan and evil in the end of all things? Under this belief, one must either believe God will redeem all people (eventually), or that He annihilates all evil, including the condemned. mmmm... anihilationism.... so dark.

Third, lets play the emotional card. There's nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Jesus... I believe this applies for all of God's children, whether walking in hope or hopelessness. If God truly did love the world (nevermind Robert H. Gundry's poor exegesis on the Gospel of John), He wouldn't allow us to terminate ourselves out of ignorance. My mom told me the other day that she lets her kids decide their own path (which I believe is a very loving gesture). She added, that she would only intervene if the child were drowning in their own bad choices. I believe this is also a loving gesture. God allows us to walk either with or without him on earth. He allows us to choose to walk in His ways, which are higher, or to walk in darkness. Hell, I believe, is a state of hopelessness found here on earth, where Satan has control (though limited). Would a loving parent intervene when his child is wandering into traffic? I think so, and I believe God, who wants none to perish, will have that final word.


No More Kids Table!!

As I reflect on the coming festivities of culinary delight that will take place this month, I am reminded of Thanksgiving at Grandma's house and the year that I graduated to the 'Adult' table. Well, after my ridiculous ranting and begging to be a contributor on this blog (embarrassingly enough, since I was already invited, but I just hadn't seen the invitation) I now feel that same way. I am no longer cast aside, segregated to the comments only on this grand Blog. I would like to thank Dusty, for being my first mentor in thinking with a midwest mindset, Jake for always encouraging me to think, and Jonny for sending me the invitation. Today is a great day in my life as a blogger. I pray that I will always live up to this responsibility and always think as a midwesterner...

Wow that sounded, good, maybe I should go into politics?...Besides who needs to influence the lives of students for Christ....

one week and almost three thousand dollars later...

Hi. I'm Erinn and a newbie and have been duly prodded into posting. Judge me not too harshly.

Tuesday and Wednesday I spearheaded a little fundraiser for Pakistan, and the whole thing made me want to be a raving optimist. Huntington University students and professors and community members gave donations (lots of clothes, handcrafts, baked goods, and some artwork) that we set out on a few card tables on campus and at Coffee D'Vine. Over the course of two days, people stopped by and paid what they could for stuff. I was so moved by the generosity of people all around. We had a girl give away a DVD player, a guy who happened to pick up a piece of trash with "When you give, give generously" written on it and decided to write us a really large check, and we had tons of students (even ones who weren't officially helping with our sale) come and help set up and tear down.

I know humanity is messy, ugly and often apathetic, but also deeply beautiful sometimes. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn puts it really well in The Gulag Archipelago when he writes, "The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. Even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained; and even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil. It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person."

I've been thinking a lot in the last year about hope and cynicism. And about the reckless optimism that must have been involved in the Incarnation, and in God ever looking at humanity and not sending floods or instant damnation. I've thought a lot about how representing this God in any way must involve emulation of his great hope. And about how these three really really do remain: faith, hope and love. So chock one up for hope this week.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Ok, I see some new names on the side bar who haven't been introduced/introduced themselves. We need you to at least post once. I mean, tell us who you are, your favorite ice cream, who's funnier: will farrell or woody allen, and finally who's more handsome: sam cassell, dusty abshire, or this guy. Or say something else, I don't care. Anyway, you have to be here for a few months before you decide to never ever post on anything, I mean, even Brian used to post! So say something!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Funds raised for Pakistan Tents!

WOW AWESOME CITY 1999! Thanks everybody for your great responses. So far my parents have collected around 14,000 dollars. maybe we won't send it and I will just buy a subaru. hoho! suburu jokes! anyway I am overwhelmed by the response. together with the money from korea and germany we have almost enough for 500 tents which should be cover the entire village. Keep going though because we are still finding other villages and there are still many people who haven't been reached yet. I am ordering the tents today! You may never meet the people of Bab but it is likely that thier lives will be saved by these tents. Thank you so much! Okay i gotta go

Thursday, November 03, 2005


i'm actively praying for God to present ways to change the life i'm finding myself leading; constantly surrounded by faithfully attending church-going believers. i love these people, but i feel like everyone i'm in regular contact with uses the exact same vocabulary, subscribes to the same values, and talks every day about reaching the lost. just like me.