Friday, July 31, 2009

Snuggie for Dogs

Now man's best friend need not feel left out as the rest of the family sits around looking like they are waiting to audition for Polyphonic Spree because there is now Snuggie for Dogs.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Politics of Beer/The Beer of Politics

So this evening President Obama will hold a “beer summit” with Cambridge police Sergeant James Crowley and Harvard Professor Henry Gates. Each person attending the summit has made their beer choice for the summit that may clue us into the agenda and strategy of each participant going into this discussion. So today’s blog will be a highly speculative blog on how each person's choice of beer might send certain signals to those across the political landscape.

President Obama – Budweiser or Bud Light
There has been some speculation as to which of these two “Bud” beers Obama will actually be drinking though both would be classified as the choice of mainstream America (the broadest appeal of the three participants). If Obama is trying to reach across party lines he will likely go with Budweiser because it is red however if he is trying to strike a tone with his party he will likely go with Bud light opting for the bluer label which will send the right message to his base in the blue states.

While Budweiser is known as the “King of Beers” (a choice speaking of power and authority) the choice of Bud Light might grant President Obama a little more of an appearance of humility (because he doesn’t appear to need to loose weight) so pay attention to how he comes into this conversation for a insight into his overall strategy.

But perhaps his message is more phonetic in the choice of Budweiser in that he wants to be perceived as a “bud” but also as “wiser” than the other 2 fellows at the table. However using that argument Bud Light would speak more of a "light" friend or more of an acquaintance, which may be what would work best for Obama in this situation where he is already known to be a friend of Gates.

Professor Henry Gates – Red Stripe
This is a great choice for a couple of reasons. First, it bolters his solidarity with his own race being that Red Stripe is the most popular beer bottled by country made up of descendents from Africa. Secondly, since the color red is specifically mentioned in its name this could be seen as a gesture to reach out to those in the red states who might tend to be sympathetic to Crowley in this story.

Seargant James Crowley – Blue Moon
Sticking with the red state/blue state debate Blue Moon is a good choice of beer because Crowley is reaching out to those who might more likely side with Gates or at least Obama from the blue states. Then again there is the obvious message of “once in a blue moon” which might allude to how rare it is to drink a beer with the president (or how rare to get caught up in such a heated national media frenzy for that matter). On another note Blue Moon is also the only beer of the three mentioned that is actually owned by a U. S. company (Coors) as Budweiser is now owned by Belgian-Brazillian conglomerate InBev which could be taken as a bit more of a patriotic choice.

Summary – All of this political speculation aside, if I were to judge the participants on the taste of their choice alone I would have to say that Crowley would be the obvious winner (with a slice of orange!) while Gates would come in a close second. As for President Obama, "come on you're the president of the greatest super-power nation in the world, can't you do better than Bud?"

Friday, July 17, 2009

Book Review - Not the Religious Type by Dave Schmelzer

I bought a copy of Not the Religious Type after a few months of reading the posts and conversations at the Not the Religious Type blog launched in conjunction with the book. I had found the ideas on the blog very thought provoking and helpful in my own wrestling with faith and culture.

The title of the book struck me as if it were going to be something of a book on apologetics. I'm fine with books on apologetics but so often those books, while articulating clear reasons for belief, do very little redemptive or helpful beyond that. Thankfully this was not one of those kinds of books!

There seems to be 2 prominent views these days on faith and culture. One version sees the surrounding culture as something that must be pulled away from, that the culture itself is an evil and corrupting force and is the arch enemy of those of faith. This view fails to take into account its own cultural baggage.

The other view in our world these days sees the culture as something which Christians must very much engage or at least account for in Church. While this view of church has shown some promise it has also very much had its pitfalls as some have sought so much to be culturally relevant that they have lost the very distinctive of what being a Christ-Follower is all about.

Enter Dave Schmelzer...
Schmelzer makes the case very convincingly that each of us has cultural baggage, Christian, secular or otherwise, that can be detrimental to following Jesus, but that rather than fighting over issues of one culture over and against another he argues simply for the experience of God wherever a person may be. The way Schmezer sees it is that God wants us to experience him and that each time we do it validates our journey towards Christ. This argument isn't just some abstract argument that Schmelzer came up with but is rather drawn from his own story of journeying from atheism to faith in Jesus. The ramifications are that Christ followers need not spend a whole lot of time arguing with people over beliefs but simply trying to help others to experience God wherever they are. This is a very simple idea but profoundly helpful in my own wrestling with the dynamics of faith and culture.

In Not the Religious Type Schmelzer has articulated ideas on faith and culture that I have felt for a long time but have never quite been able to put into words. This book is a very relevant contribution to current discussion of faith and culture in our world which of late has seemed to deteriorate into constant fighting over beliefs and boundaries.
Not the Religious Type is written in a way that feels as much like a conversation as reading a book (which also makes for a quick read). I hope that more folks get a hold of this book because no matter where a person may find his/herself in their journey or culture, I believe that this book will help them begin moving towards Jesus.