Saturday, November 29, 2008

Racism talk @ Oakbrook

Click here to download the pdf of the manuscript. Click here to see all the local pictures used in the talk.

Again thanks to the Howard Co Historical Society and the writings of professor Allen Safiano and local author Ned Booher that greatly aided my research of this topic.

Here's a great post on the subject by pastor & author Shawn Wood.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My week and prayer

It's been a busy one with lots of meetings. I think between Wed & Thurs alone I had eight meetings. Some one-on-ones and some group meetings. Some were very personal and some were strategic. Some filled me up and some were draining. In some of those meetings I was "just a guy" and in some of them I was "a church leader/elder."

There's really only one thread in common in all of the encounters: them, me, God.

It sounds elementary but I try to keep those three things in mind in every meeting. In every communal gathering there is the probability that they'll unknowingly bring in some junk and that I will unknowingly do the same. And then there's the high probability that God wants to use them to say something to me, and if God has really lost all His senses, he wants to use me to speak into them or to the situation.

And so lately in my attempt to keep my sanity, be effective and come somewhat close to living the life that God wants me to, I have taken to one of my mantra-prayers; little sentences that I say aloud or to myself throughout the day. This one is based on how Jesus answered the question, "What's the most important thing?!"

I pray: "God, help me to love you radically, others unconditionally, and myself appropriately."

I find that if I can live out of that focused prayer, I'm less likely to force my agenda, fail to listen to someone or marginalise them, think I know all the answers, or interact out of a funky view of myself.

Give it a try. Or make up your own mantra-prayer that fits your life.


Monday, November 17, 2008

What is it?

a.) Tea pot for one?

b.) Watering pot for an indoor herb garden?

c.) A neti pot?

It's c. I've had it for a few months now and I'm nutty for neti. Using a neti pot is a way to irrigate your sinuses.

By doing my "daily neti" I've gotten off Claritin. I seem to breathe better and likewise feel better. Here's a handy info page about neti.

And here's a girl demonstrating it on youtube; although she doesn't show putting in the sea salt and she doesn't do it long enough. For hours of bizarre fun just type in "neti pot demonstration" at youtube ;-)

I'm also finding it helps in this season of furnaces & car heaters drying out my nose.

I bought mine here but you can get them locally at the Sunspot Health Food Store. I will admit I initially thought a bit odd, but I'm hooked. Give it a try.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Oh, the things I've heard...

(sigh) I really hate getting into politics in public forums. But, this is my attempt at perhaps quelling some of the misunderstandings that I'm hearing in my neck of the woods. This is not a pro-democrat piece, it's pro-truth and pro-civility. For the record I vote for the person not the party; I voted for republicans & democrats in the last election.

1. "Obama is a Muslim."
False. He's a Christian. Just because his middle name is "Hussein" doesn't make him a Muslim or a terrorist; in the same way that having the last name "Schwartz" doesn't make you Jewish.

2. "I'm scared he's the anti-Christ."
False. Again, he's just a Christian with a weird name. Here's a great article that explains it more in depth than I care to.

3. "He's a socialist/Marxist..." (because he wants to "redistribute wealth.")
False. Since our little country began, we've all been putting our taxes into one pot and the administration in power and our elected officials decide how to spend it. We all put money into the pot & they doll it out--also know as "redistributing." This is just how we roll in the U.S.

3. "He's going to ban guns/hand guns."
Does not appear so. Here are his words:

"I believe in the Second Amendment, and if you are a law-abiding gun owner you have nothing to fear from an Obama administration...Here's what I believe: The Second Amendment is an individual right. . . people have the right to bear arms. But I also believe there is nothing wrong with some common-sense gun safety measures."
Read more here.

4. "He's pro abortion."
Actually he wants to reduce abortions by 95% over the next ten years. (Please don't get into some holy war posting on this subject. This is complex. I know my conviction. I also acknowledge that legislating a non-universal conviction and taking into account a bevy of circumstances is a quagmire.)

5. Parting comment:
I specifically included pictures of Bush and Obama with their families to remind us that politicians aren't robots; they're people with families.

The press, culture and even evangelicals entice us to talk ill of politicians as if they are targets, not people. And if an issue doesn't line up with our theology it gives us license to be malicious. As a person of faith, if I talk or think about anyone in harsh, gossipy, or untrue terms I am not a very good reflection of my Savior.

Jesus could have railed on the Caesars or the system; but he didn't. He paid his taxes too. Focused on the higher calling. And how he was to be used along the way.

So let us focus.
And not be haters.
Peace to you and your family, Barack.
Peace to you and your family, George W.
Peace to us all.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Beatles Concert a Blast!

After MONTHS of preparation, Oakbrook's music team put on a Beatles concert to collect food for an area food bank and to give people an excuse to go to church. And our 1,250 seat auditorium was SOLD OUT!

From the time the church doors opened at 6pm the building was electric. It seemed that nearly all of the 1,250 people were there early to get their general admission seat. The auditorium doors remained close til 6:30, before which, the walk-ways and huge children's hallway swelled with lines of expectant Beatles fans. No unruly Cincinnati Who fans here; everyone in line with good spirits.

And a splendid diversity; grandparents, parents, teenagers. People who saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show and those who didn't know who Ed Sullivan was. This concert on the heals of another election that seems to leave people divided or embittered, found those same diverse people standing next to each other in line. Smiling.

In a time of election, frightening economy, and a year of $4 a gallon gas, 1,200 people came together, smiled together, sang together. Had FUN together.

That sounds simple, but I don't think we know how much we need to have fun until we realise how long its been since we've tasted it. We all drank of it together last night. And it does the soul good to know that in a packed house, we're all together. Just for tonight. Just for 90 minutes. In our splintered world, we were all on the same page for the night.

This is the power of a concert. No discussion, no topic could align all those people. Talk and topic could only quickly divide us. But the power of a concert and the broad range of Beatles fans somehow sent us all home humming the same tunes.

60-somethings in Buicks. 40-somethings in mini vans. 30-somethings in foreign sedans. 20-somethings in Vibes and Grand-ams, teenagers in whatever mom and dad gave them. All humming Hey Jude, Strawberry Fields, or Good Day Sunshine. That is a phenomenon. And we all shared in it.

And it just could be that part of last night's magical spirit was that nearly everyone on stage, backstage, in the booth, greeting, working the Cafe and parking cars, is trying to stumble their way through what it is to follow Christ. And that before we did our pre-show run thru, we split up and prayed over the auditorium.

We knocked ourselves out for months and long Saturdays so perhaps someone who simply likes the Beatles might come and be curious about what happens in this big room on Sunday mornings at 10 am.

And I guess I have to admit for risk of sounding too noble...for all of us, it was pretty darned fun just to be a part of it.

Mike Wise's concert pictures on FaceBook.
Rehearsal pics 1. Pics 2. Pics 3.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Highland Park in the Fall

Click here for some fall pics I took in November in Highland Park.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fall Desktop Pics

These are two Kokomo Fall shots I've taken recently. The woods is coming in the drive at Oakbrook. The sunrise was shot today driving south on Dixon Rd close to Harvey Hinklemeyers. With the fall colors I've been keeping my camera with me whenever I can.

To download: left click to get the original size 1440 x 900 pic (which is a wide desktop format). Then right click on the large pic and choose "save as" and save to your desktop.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 D

Top: My new Nikon 50mm f/1.8 D prime lens.

Bottom: Same lens with Adorama rubber lens hood.

Through the help of a couple pro photographers and the infamous Ken Rockwell website , I purchased this "fast" lens to get better indoor and low light pics without a flash.

Below is a pic of my friend, Tim, without a flash. I like the natural look this lens makes possible. It also has a modest focal area. Notice how his face is in focus while the bass neck & his hands are fuzzy. This was shot with the ISO @ 800. (I had to shoot @ 1600 with the Nikon kit lens and the pics were grainy and lots of blurring if the subject moved at all.)

Below is a pic Slater took of Sandra's Wed night dinner. Again this is natural dining room light, no flash.
Click here for pics that were taken at our Beatles concert rehearsal with low light. Several of the pics were taken by my 13 yr old son, Slater. Others were taken by my friend, Dave Bottomley, and they graciously allowed me to actually take a few ;-)

Instead of me rambling on about photography matters I don't yet fully understand, allow me to send you to this page on Ken Rockwell's site. Also check out this page about low light photography.

This is a prime lens which means it is not telephoto. To frame the shot, physically move closer or farther away. Many professionals are shooting portraits, weddings etc with prime lenses.

It's been less than a week since it arrived in the mail and already I don't know how I lived without it. For $109 it adds a huge amount of versatility to my Nikon D40. By the way, for the D40 crowd, this lens is MANUAL focus; but for the price I don't mind doing the focusing ;-)

I purchased the lens from Adorama on Saturday and it was delivered by Wed.

UPDATE: New lens coming soon from Nikon: 1.4 50mm prime auto focus, compatible w/D40. As of this entry it is not yet available. But will be in my "wish list."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Truth isn't Relative

I had an interesting conversation at the dinner table with Meg the other evening. Turns out at Kokomo High School they had their own election for president. Meghan said, "Everyone is voting for McCain because Obama is a Muslim."

It took me several minutes to explain to her that Barack Obama, although his name sounds like he may be a Muslim, is a Christian.

It pains me to see how a country like ours with all the potential to be informed, aware and even intelligent, can be otherwise.

This is not a pro-Obama piece. It's a pro-truth piece. It's a piece warning us about the danger of prejudice; warning us to be careful of thinking that every Muslim is dangerous and only Christians are good. Warning us about believing every email or blog post.

I saw a scene from the presidential race that was both a high and low point simultaneously. A lady said to John McCain, "I can't trust Obama...he's an Arab." (low)

McCain shook his head, took back the mic and said that Obama was not an Arab and was a "good man." (high)

It seems there is enough real fear in our world these days economically, globally, militarily. We don't need the fear of misinformation or ignorance.

Peace to McCain. To Obama. To the lady at the rally. To the dull. To the intelligent. To us all.