5 Jul 2010
Night falls slowly on the river,
where the water is more luminous than the sky,
and the gladsome sun catches windows one by one
to signal its farewell, and kindle lamps within.
And the sun shines singly from each chink
in the scaffolded skeletons of half-made buildings.
And the crane with its swinging load
is an angel with a censer, making evening sacrifices:
here where the sun goes to its rest,
where the edge of night meets the edge of day.
And the burning clouds are the smoke of incense,
a prayer offered not with words
but with silence rising into a greater silence,
and the angel's uplifted hands are an offering:
to the morning star,
to the clouds and thick darkness,
to the unapproachable light;
to the wild sea,
to the steam and the stormclouds,
to the river, the giver of life.
It's been a year and a half since I updated this website. Back then I saw it mainly as a vector for sharing software I was writing, but now I'm going to start sharing poetry instead. I've got a couple different poems up already, plus some commentary on each explaining what I was thinking or going through as I wrote it.
1 Nov 2008
Resolved: to live with all my might, while I do live. (Jonathan Edwards)
People keep pressuring me to join Facebook.
I'm usually a late adopter of new technology. I got my first email account in college. I began using a cell phone a little over a year ago. My phone sounds like a phone, takes no pictures, and doesn't play Tetris. Supposedly it can send text messages. I haven't bothered to discover how. So for now, this is my good old Web 1.0 home page. I'll switch to Facebook when I'm darn well convinced that it will improve my life and won't just be another distraction or a surrogate for real human interaction.
As an introvert and a geek I'm tempted, especially in my social life, to lean on computers. To send an email instead of using the phone. To hang out in web forums instead of talking face-to-face. To google for information on that attractive woman I just met instead of asking her out for coffee. Everything is easy on the internet: I can say whatever I want to say, because the person on the other end is only half real to me. There's no reason to be nervous or unsure of myself.
But I don't want life to be easy. I wouldn't trade a thousand virtual friends for one person I can meet for lunch, or go hiking with, or pray with, or trounce in Settlers. I'm less eloquent in person than I am over email. I shut down when surrounded by strangers. Making a phone call to someone I don't know well still freaks me out. But I'm okay with that. Rutherford says it about faith, but it applies to all the risks we take in life:
If my waters would stand, they would rot. Faith is better for the free air and the sharp winter-storm in its face. I prefer modes of communication that are difficult, that require effort and demand full attention.
I used to use IM, back in college. It's addicting. I'd log on, and suddenly I was surrounded by friends, all wanting to talk to me. For a freshman living 1500 miles from home for the first time, that was a huge comfort. I caught myself, at times, not even conscious of which friend I was talking to, just so long as I felt like someone was listening. I could talk to ten people at once, and surf the web, and check email, and play a computer game, all at the same time. When I'm not physically present to someone else, it's all too easy not to be mentally present either.
That, in a nutshell, is also my problem with Facebook, web forums, etc. They give you the feeling of being connected, but face-to-face human contact is infinitely more valuable than virtual community. They provide a huge quantity of stimulus, but not much quality. And besides, I waste too much time on the computer already.
So for now, the voyeuristic tendencies of you folks who got here by googling me can be satisfied by the sidebar on your left. On the right is the actually useful stuff. And for you social media junkies who need to know immediately when a friend's status changes from "eating a bagel" to "clipping my toenails," there's even an RSS feed that I'll update whenever this page changes. But if you actually want to connect with me, send me an email or better yet, invite me out for lunch.
8 Nov 2008
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (Isaiah 58:6-7)
Yes, I'm a Christian. I always hesitate to say so, because I know people will make all sorts of assumptions about me, most of them negative. But let me tell you about this Jesus fellow:
He hung out with the outcasts, those who society considered unclean, unacceptable, without value. And he accepted them. He wasn't just trying to fix them. Going against his culture, he showed such respect for women that he shocked even his own disciples. He loved everyone, even those he knew would betray him. He called his followers to live simple lives, free from materialism, and to give generously to the poor. He spoke out against social injustice and against self-righteousness, against a religion based on rules for judging others and dividing "us" from "them". And he died asking God to forgive those who tortured and killed him.
That alone would be inspiring. But Christians also believe that Jesus was God clothed in human flesh. And if Jesus is a perfect reflection, an exact representation of who God is, then I'd say we're in pretty good hands. You can't look at Jesus as God incarnate and still worry that God is angry and vindictive, that God is just watching for us to mess up in order to punish us. You can't look at Jesus and not believe that God is on the side of the oppressed and the weak.
So that's what I believe. And I don't believe Jesus came to earth just to get punished in our place because God was angry and needed someone to beat on. I believe that he was born in human form so that we could be made anew in his image: human, but with God dwelling inside us. I believe he came to set us free from everything that might hold us down, and to empower us to reflect Jesus, to be filled with God. And that, as far as I'm concerned, is very good news.