Thursday, December 25, 2008


So, today is Christmas Day, and we have tried with some limited success to scale back our giving and receiving (we did scale back our giving more successfully). As my faith as changed in the last few years, it has become very obvious to me that how I was used to doing Christmas was not how I want to do it in the future. I have spent my holidays bowing down to consumerism, and not to the God I believe in honor of the birth of his one perfect incarnation. I want to change that.
Some things really influenced me this year: the website Advent Conspiracy sums it up a lot of it pretty well. In a world that remains in spots hungry, without water, without medical care, we celebrate the birth of a poor child by spending money. Our house church adopted families again through Share Your Christmas, which was great and I was able to actually deliver to our family in the projects in a really bad part of Durham. Our family was a 28-year-old single mom and her 6 kids. And with Maggie's birth, I've really thought about how we teach her what we believe Christmas is about without being a Scrooge. Hopefully we can have a nice, traditional, fun Christmas without going overboard, diverting some our gift giving to those in need, and including her in our projects to help others.
We are lucky enough to have my family down for a day and now Debbie's family here from all over the country (Seattle, Tacoma, Champaign, and Mebane - the last two can rhyme if you try really hard) and I think the sermon at Duke chapel put that into perspective. On Christmas, we choose to spend time with certain people, and that's a way we love tham. And that's the story of Christmas: that God chose to be with us. I think that is simple and beautiful. I hope we can continue to choose to be with our family and friends, and start to choose to be present to those around us in need.
The Christmas stories in the Bible are set up to show how Jesus birth and subsequent life started a revolution against the powers of the day (Matthew's version set Jesus against Herod and Luke sets Jesus against Ceasar). I hope our lives and our Christmas' can be part of a revolution against consumerism, poverty, fear, and hopelessness.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Five from 2008

Okay, I had a really hard time with music this year. I agree it was a bit of a down year, and an earlier post expressed my mid-year frustration with quality listens. Since then I have spent a lot of effort trying to listen to what others thought was good, and think I came up with a solid top 5.
  1. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes: The one critically acclaimed album that I really liked this year. My wife asked me what kind of music it was. I would call it prog-folk/pop-rock. It's mellow but emotional and interesting. And my panel of one baby thinks it is anthralling.
  2. Tift Merritt - Another Country: Partially biased by her 2 live performances we saw this year and influenced by her amazing voice, Another Country comes in at #2. Lots of diversity on her third album, adding on her country and soul base with some singer/songwriter type-trackas, but much deeper than her previous efforts even without the 1 or 2 really catchy tracks.
  3. Dave Finch- Colors: Biased by family and friendship ties, but I enjoyed Dave's album as much as any this year. One of the hallmarks of music I like is emotion; this effort is brimming with it. Showing influences from Coldplay to Nirvana to 80s arena rock, this truly independant effort was worth the wait.
  4. My Morning Jacket- Evil Urges: I hated this album the first time I heard it, but it ended up being the one that stuck in my head most this year. From the opening guitar in the title track through to the outstanding ballads, I learned to love it all. Even the falsetto.
  5. Chatham County Line IV - Just another solid album from the local bluegrass(ish) band.
Other Favorites:
  1. I loved Skinny Love from Bon Iver, even though the rest of the album is a complete drag. Sorry every official list that loves it.
  2. Brandon Heath's Give Me Your Eyes was one of my favorite songs this year, and certainly my favorite officially religious song.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Would you like a Coke? Yes, Please I'll take a Diet Dr. Pepper.

I love this map....

Fairly accurate in my experience. I grew up using either Coke (mostly) or Soda (some) or Drink (a bit). The first time I heard Pop was from a friend in college from Western PA. College really does open up the world to us, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Blog Preview

Well, between having a baby and being sick, there has not been a lot of activity. I have a lot of blogging going on in my head, so I plan to blog on the following topics when I get a few minutes:
  • Hokie Season Recap
  • Top 5 Albums of the Year
  • Evolving Thoughts on Christmas
  • Why a House Church is Right for Me (Right Now)