Monday, August 28, 2006

Faith and 9/11: Five Years Later

Five years after 9/11, apparently our faith hasn't changed despite a brief surge immediately after the attacks according to the latest Barna survey. Called Five Years Later: Attacks Show No Lasting Influence on Americans' Faith, the study found that of 19 key dimensions of spirituality and faith, none showed any statistical change from the summer before the attacks.

I remember that time very well, and I certainly thought that there would be a revival. That's certainly what seemed to be happening at the time. People took time off work to go to memorial services, and my church's attendance shot up. But it turns out it was just a spike.

But what's really interesting about this study is that it found that what changed in faith at the time was rather than people becoming more orthodox, they actually were less orthodox. Data for the month after the attack found that "Americans were less likely to feel a responsibility to share their faith; they were less willing to reject the notion that good works can earn salvation; they were more likely to believe that the devil is merely a symbol of evil; and they were slightly less likely to believe God is the perfect, all-powerful creator who rules the world."

So in other words, for a brief moment after the attacks America actually became more emergent.

In all seriousness, the upcoming five-year anniversary of the attacks has been bringing up a lot of memories for me. The initial news reports, the confusions, listening in disbelief to the radio in my office as the first tower fell, watching the planes get stopped dead in their tracks at Orange County airport from my office window, telling a coworker that we were going to war, watching the horrific scenes on television... and lying in bed late that night listening to fighter jets patrol the skies over my home, unable to take it all in. If I wasn't reading about 9/11 now I might be able to convince myself it was all just a Hollywood thriller.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

So, About that Podcast...

...Dorsey and I ended up talking to a full cast of characters, including Ninjanun and the Pete, Craig Bob from Out of Fellowship, Steve and Josh from Stupid Church People, and Erik from Ping!Etcetera... only to find that I had the record button on pause for most all of the conversations. Duh. Many apologies to all.

However, there's no reason we can't do something like it in the future, which is what Godscrum was supposed to be about to begin with. Dorsey and I are up for it, so anyone else that wants to jump in is welcome. We'll probably set up a room in Gizmo or Skype, invite people to call in, and discuss one topic for about 30 minutes.

And this time, I promise I'll hit Record.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Wikimapia: Another Reason Why I Love the Freaking Internet

I love the internet. It's the autodidact's wet dream: information and knowledge at your fingertips, increasingly from wherever you are. Just in the last few weeks the internet has been integrated into how I do my job to a degree that it never had before; most of what I used to have to go to a customer's site to do I can now accomplish using Google Earth Pro. And I can even use the satellite images on Google Maps on my phone to be looking at a customer's site while I'm on the road (not driving, of course). And those of you who read this blog already know how I value and use Wikipedia on a regular basis.

And then today (via this article on daily resource for me), I find out that Wikimapia, a phenomenon I'd never even heard of before, reached a milestone 1,000,000 locations logged by its worldwide user base. In Wikimapia, users identify and describe locations of interest like parks, airports, restaurants, curiosities, you name it. Some people call out "this is where I live"--lame, who cares--but there's some offbeat notations that really bring out the human character of this venture.

Take the Main Street area of Huntington Beach, CA (not far from where I live). A block or two up from PCH, past the surf shop's and Perq's Bar, is a little notation pointing out where the "Fat Guy with a Guitar" usually plays. Click on the link and the logger explains, "Usually there's some fat guy standing out here with a guitar," then goes on to talk about what kind of music he plays and how he shouldn't be teased because he's trying to bring some culture to the staid O.C..

People from all around the world are kicking in. Check out the Chernobyl notes. If you go just to the northwest of the power plant you can see the ghost town of Pripyat, where many of the plant workers and engineers lived. Nobody lives there now.

I started logging some local establishments just for fun. As this tool grows in use, I can forsee it being very useful to just about everybody: businesspeople, travelers, shoppers... you name it. Especially those of us who just love to explore from our browsers.

The internet. Daddy like.

Monday, August 14, 2006

No More War for the Zekester

My family shared a meal on Sunday with my sister-in-law's family. She's a very committed, very conservative Christian who is... well, I think that she would characterize herself as uncompromising. To one person's ear, that's strong and powerful. To another's that might sound very difficult to live with. I've been around uncompromising people and they can be like a thick sweater on a hot day. You just want to get it off of you so you can cool down.

The context here is that the subject of gay Christians came up when my wife explained why it was that we were not back attending our old church. Won't rehash it here... in fact I won't even link to it. It's the damn gay thing again. Nothing sets off evangelicals like the subject of homosexuality. My sister confirmed that she strongly believes that homosexuality is part of this culture's war against Christianity, and how anybody who thinks differently should go read the Bible. To characterize this position, The World (as in gays, liberals, judges, the educational establishment, the media, college professors, etc.) are manipulating the levers of culture in unwitting service to Satan in an effort to pull the teeth out of Christianity and otherwise destroy the cause of Christ.

I had a few epiphanies in the course of this conversation.

One, I love my sister-in-law and found myself full of both compassion and respect for her. She is fully engaged in what she believes to be what God wants her to do, and is willing to pay a personal price for it. So I respect that. I also see her as being very afraid... afraid for her family and her country, if not her faith. So I have compassion for her.

Two, I have come to a fork in the road in my faith: either I reengage in the Great American Culture War, which I fought on the conservative side for the better part of the last 25 years, or I move into a long walk in the undiscovered country of "not-Right". Not in opposition to what I believed before, but as what amounts to a conscientious objector in this bruising left/right Christian/"pagan" kulturkampf that we've made for ourselves.

See, I'm sick of the fight. Well and truly sick of it. I'm fatigued with calling people stupid (yes, even myself), worn out with quoting Scripture back and forth, bored with the hystrionics, depressed with the casulties strewn about the landscape.

More accurately, I'm tired of fighting. I don't want to just ignore the conflict... it's more like I want to take on observer status for a while, maybe mediate, maybe just carry a medic pack and treat the wounded for a while. I found the experience of just appreciating my sister-in-law for who she was a peaceful, liberating one. I want more of that in my life.

But more than anything else, I just want to work and make some money. Our house is a disaster, we need to make repairs everywhere, and I'm working 10-12 hours a day (and commuting another 2-3) so that's pretty much Job One for me. I'm hitting a real growth phase of my career, one I worked very hard to get to, and I don't have a lot of headspace to devote to proving why a bunch of people who disagree with me are wrong. Unless anyone cares to point out otherwise, I suspect I rarely change anybody's mind anyway. Better to conserve my strength. Better to pick your fights... and then find a way not to fight at all.

Peace, man.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Coming Soon: New Godscrum

I haven't done a podcast since February, and I've been wondering just what if anything I should do about that. Just leave the site up so that the archive is available? Post on occasion, when the mood strikes? Or take it on as a discipline?

I still haven't worked that out, but here's what's up: Dorsey and I are going to be in--of all places--Youngstown, Ohio on the same weekend. And since I always intended Godscrum to be a dialog, that's just what we'll do. Not sure what we'll be talking about but I know it will be fun and interesting. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Meet Global Warming's Newest Disciple

Apparently, as recently as October Pat Robertson criticized evangelicals like Rick Warren for signing a declaration calling for the reduction of carbon emissions in order to mitigate global warming. He accused them of camping with "far left environmentalists." His own CBN News Watch posted a highly skeptical piece on global warming.

And then, amidst a brutal East Coast heat wave (following on an equally brutal West Coast heat wave of the last couple of weeks), Pat Robertson has become a believer in global warming. I must say, I was left shaken after that bizarre weather, where it was hotter and more humid in Los Angeles than in Atlanta, Georgia. I kid you not.

Something is up, and even unlikely sources of alarm around global warming like Pat Robertson are being added to the chorus. Regardless of whether or not one is sold on global warming science, the same environmental stewardship that a thoughtful Christian caretaker of God's resources might adopt will yield the same results as carbon-cutting Kyoto would.

Hopefully this signals a broader change among evangelicals. Somebody ought to contact the SBC and see if they have become believers in global warming.