Archive for 2004

Play it again sam…

December 30th, 2004 No comments

New Year’s is upon us. I probably won’t be around until after, so I hope you all have a great celebration to usher in the new year. For many, it is hard to have hope at this new year with all thr troubles going on around them. It is important to remember that God is there in the good and bad times and is always there to fall back on. We are all in this adventure called life together and shouldn’t forget one another. God has called us all to something higher, no matter what our situation is. God bless you all and remember to pray for your loved ones as well as your enemies.

I will leave you, once again, with a really meaningful song. I know I have posted it before, but I really like it and it truly speaks to what the new year should mean. Plus it is my blog and I can do what I want. :)

Five Iron Frenzy - “New Year’s Eve”

It’s New Years Eve and I’m full of empty promises, I half pretend to keep this time, just like last year. The band is loud and I’m wandering the shadows, wishing I was never here. I persevere. A crowded room, these whitewashed tombs, they raise their glasses high, they kiss the past goodbye.

This New Years Eve, I’m waiting for tomorrow. My heart is on my sleeve, and yes I still believe, this New Years Eve, will turn out better than before, I’m holding on, still holding out, until they close the door… on me.

It’s New Years Eve and I feel my insecurities, are haunting me like ghosts, this sinking quicksand. And then with thunderous praise and lofty adoration, a second passes by, yet nothing changes. I hate my skin, this grave I’m standing in. Another change of years, and I wish I wasn’t here.

A year goes by and I’m staring at my watch again, and I dig deep this time, for something greater than I’ve ever been, life to ancient wineskins. And I was blind but now I see.

This New Years Eve, something must change me inside, I’m crooked and misguided, and tired of being tired. This New Years Eve, I’m waiting for tomorrow. My heart is on my sleeve, and yes I still believe, in You.

Shalom and God Bless you in the new year, may YOU be new as well.
Blessings, Matt

Categories: Meaningful Song

Tsunamis and the news

December 27th, 2004 No comments

By now I am sure most of you have heard about the devastating earthquake in Asia. The power of nature always amazes me. The sad thing is that the people of the region never really expected anything like that. Many of the areas hit hard had plenty of time to react but not much was done. If you never expect a massive earthquake there, why bother prepare tsunami warnings? India now has plans to install warning devices. Too bad it had to come to something like this for that to happen.

Tsunamis are an amazing force of nature. The speeds and power that is released is quite terrific. I hope everyone prays for those in the region that are affected by this devastating event.

I also suggest checking out a few blogs to get information about what is going on over there rather than the normal media. There have been numerous bloggers from the region talking about this and are worth checking out. The Command Post has lots of good information with other links. Rajanar is from the area and has some interesting commentary. This Blog is dedicated to getting information about relief, how to support, and current news about and by the people affected. If you check one place out, head there. As usual, Tim Blair has lots of good information and insight as well as many links.

I don’t really like watching the news because of its disjointed nature. I have made a few comments about that in other places and when talking about Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death”. News is usually completely de-contextualized and usually has very little meaning to those watching it. The “Now This” mentality is not one I appreciate. One thing I appreciate about blogs is that they are written by real people, usually somewhat involved with the situation or have special interest in what they are talking about. News casters seem to be more interested in the sensational side of the story, not the actual content. Bloggers pick the topics to talk about because they care about them. The problem that car arise is validity of the content. Although with such issues as rathergate, we should also worry about that issue with the MSM (main stream media). Many respectable bloggers will offer cross references and links to their sources and will try to offer unbiased information along with biased commentary (I do say try, because it doesn’t always work). It seems that the MSM tries will often only have a mixture of the two: biased commentary that is presented as unbiased information. In short, check out multiple sources of information; don’t just rely on the MSM.

As an example of why I dislike tv news I offer a slight rant. I was watching one of our local stations (can’t remember which one) and one of the newscasters offered us something along the lines of this: “See how the tsunami has affected tourists from our area later in the broadcast.” I can’t remember the exact way this was said, but that is the gist of it. This tells me a few things: firstly news is completely sensationalistic and secondly they don’t really care about people. 24,000 people have just died and we are supposed to be worried about travel problems for people in our area? I don’t even know those people from “my area” and even if I did, I still would not be concerned for delayed travels. Ok, rant over.

I know this has been somewhat of a ramble, I apologize for that. Please pray for those in Asia and for those helping to get things fixed up.


Interesting animation from NOAA over here. (requires quicktime)

Some very disturbing video can be downloaded from here. (right click and select “save as”)

Another animation can be found here.

(H/t to PunditGuy)

Also, if you want to help out, check out the Tsunami Help Blog (which I linked to earlier, but it really has massive amouts of information and points to places to help out.)

I would also like to point to World Vision as a good charity to donate to.

If you want to help out the red cross you can do that directly through Amazon here.

I don’t know if this is true or not, I apologize if it isn’t. If it is, CNN has something to deal with. I found thos on this guy’s blog.

This morning on CNN, the anchor lady was talking to the weatherman, and for some reason she showed him the cover of the New York Times, which has a picture of a mother weeping over the bodies of her dead children. The weatherman said, “Hmm, oh my. They probably couldn’t swim very well.”

I am sure he was taken off guard, but still, how moronic and insensitive.

The “stingy” US government’s aid contribution as of 12/29: $35 Million and 2 Naval Groups as well as “much more”.

Amount France has offered: about $135,000 US (although to be fair, some are reporting that it could be around $20 Mill US)

Amount Germany has offered: about $2.7 Million US

Amout Amazon users have donated as of 12/29 and 1:45 PST: $2.55 Million. $3.8 Million as of 1:00 am 12/30. $5.38 Mill as of 12:15 PM 12/30.

Scrappleface readers have also given over $3000, just from that site!

Stingy, indeed.

People from all over the world have been donating huge amounts of money. It has been a very heart warming thing to see. Government keep on adding on more funds and resources, people are giving of their time and money. That truly is the Christmas spirit.

This article shows that the American people have (as of 12/29) already donated $18 Million of their own funds. Well done.

Google has set up a page for relief help, check it out.

I have set up a page of satellite pictures from DigitalGlobe, check it out.

[UPDATE VIII: The original post and comments are no longer available. :( Sorry!]

Categories: Around the World

In the words of Tiny Tim…

December 25th, 2004 1 comment

God bless us every one.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Shalom and blessings,

Categories: Religion

Christmas a pagan holiday?

December 24th, 2004 1 comment

Sol Invictus (or Saturnalia) was a festival to celebrate the birth of the “Unconquerable Sun” at the winter solstice when the sun starts to “grow” again (at least in the northern hemisphere). It has been suggested that Christianity has adopted the date of Christmas to be aligned with this pagan Roman festival (as early as the 4th century). What does this suggest about the nature of Christmas?

But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. (Malachi 4.2 NAS)

Christianity truly made claim to that festival. Instead of worshiping a pagan notion of our sun conquering darkness, God’s Son came to be worshipped as the conqueror of darkness.

Christmas comes from the Middle English Christemasse literally meaning “Christ’s Mass.” I hope that Christians can reclaim this true meaning. I know this seems so cliché to say now, but really, this is the ultimate Mass. I am not Catholic by any means, but I can at least understand the importance. Go ahead, call it X-mas, I am ok with that, I know what X means.

I will try to save the typical “This is what Christmas is really all about…” I am sure you have all heard it, but are you living it? Do you really believe it? While the King James Version is not the most accurate, I think their rendition of Luke 2.14 is still appropriate and should be followed.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

The more accurate (like from the NAS)

Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased

is just as appropriate for this season. God is pleased with His people (even though he usually shouldn’t be) and has given us this celebration of the birth of the incarnate son. He is so pleased with us that He sent the Incarnate to die as the Suffering Servant for us. I encourage everyone to really look at who this Baby Jesus is and what He will do for us all. I leave you with this passage, I hope you will mediate on it, I hope it will bring you to tears in the realization that the tiny Baby Jesus whose birth we are about to celebrate is the same Jesus who took brutal beatings and a torturous death for us. Isaiah 52.13 - 53.12 from The Message

Just watch my servant blossom!
Exalted, tall, head and shoulders above the crowd!
But he didn’t begin that way.
At first everyone was appalled.
He didn’t even look human—
a ruined face, disfigured past recognition.
Nations all over the world will be in awe, taken aback,
kings shocked into silence when they see him.
For what was unheard of they’ll see with their own eyes,
what was unthinkable they’ll have right before them.”
Who believes what we’ve heard and seen?
Who would have thought GOD’s saving power would look like this?
The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And GOD has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
on him, on him.
He was beaten, he was tortured,
but he didn’t say a word.
Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered
and like a sheep being sheared,
he took it all in silence.
Justice miscarried, and he was led off—
and did anyone really know what was happening?
He died without a thought for his own welfare,
beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
They buried him with the wicked,
threw him in a grave with a rich man,
Even though he’d never hurt a soul
or said one word that wasn’t true.
Still, it’s what GOD had in mind all along,
to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
And GOD’s plan will deeply prosper through him.
Out of that terrible travail of soul,
he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
will make many “righteous ones,”
as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly—
the best of everything, the highest honors—
Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch,
because he embraced the company of the lowest.
He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
he took up the cause of all the black sheep.

Merry Christmas to everyone. May God Bless you and your family in this time of celebration and may you realize that God is still there if you can’t celebrate.
May you truly live in God’s Shalom and peace.


Original post with comments. [UPDATE: The original post and comments are no longer available. :( Sorry!]

Categories: Religion

A plethora of movie reviews

December 23rd, 2004 No comments

Coming home for the holidays usually entails eating lots of food and watching lots of movies. I figured I would take a few moments to comment on those flicks that I have seen this break thus far (who says thus?).

The Phantom of the Opera

Phantom of the OperaI wasn’t too sure what to expect from Phantom. I really enjoyed the musical and wasn’t sure if it would transfer to film. I was pleasantly surprised and how well they had done. A few of the local papers (The Seattle Times and The Tacoma News Tribune) gave Phantom fairly poor reviews (although I can pretty much assume I will like a movie of Soren Anderson from TNT doesn’t like it). Both said something along the lines of the movie being too extravagant and overdone. Ummm hello!? (Wow, that is soooo early 90’s) Have these people seen Phantom in the theater before? It is supposed to be extravagant and overdone (After all it is France in late 19th century!)! I can almost guarantee that if you liked the musical, you will like the movie. The script and music was pulled straight from the set. The girl who played Christine (Emmy Rossum) had a great voice and was quite the looker if I do say so myself (come to find out she is 18, of course). Raoul (Patrick Wilson) was also quite impressive (although wasn’t as attracted to him) - he also reminded both me and my mom of the guy that played Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. I would say the only somewhat disappointing part of the movie was the strength of the Phantom’s (Gerard Butler) voice. I think I am used to Michael Crawford’s voice that the role of Phantom was pretty much made for, his voice was always strong at just the right moments and I felt Butler was somewhat lacking in that department. If you had ever thought you would enjoy the musical, then go see the movie, I think you will enjoy it.

Ocean’s Twelve

Ocean’s TwelveOcean’s Twelve was quite an enjoyable sequel to Ocean’s Eleven. I enjoyed the sequel a bit more than the first in that there were more clever jokes and a few more plots twists that I thought were done very well. The “inside” moments between Clooney and Pitt were … savvy (I guess you could say). They also played Julia Roberts’ pregnancy very well that fit with the flow and feel of the movie. I guess I don’t have too much to say about the movie. It was good, clever, funny, what else do you need? The plot kinks they throw in will make you want to go back to make sure you got everything. Check it out.

The Polar Express

Polar ExpressThe Polar Express was worth the money, especially if you see it in 3D at IMAX. Seeing it in the regular theater it was just another cartoon was a nice message. There were parts that I thought “well this is just here to show off 3D” but didn’t do that much for me in the regular theater. When I did finally see it at the IMAX at Seattle Center, I was pretty impressed. The 3D effects really added to the experience in a worth while way. I am not too sure why Tom Hanks was every single character including the women, the train, the snowman, and the Christmas tree (ok not really). If there hadn’t been a cameo by Steven Tyler, I just don’t know what I would have done. I am not too sure if I will buy this when it comes out on DVD, it was good, nicely animated, worth seeing, but not sure if I need to again, I can just read the book.

Return of the King: Extended Edition

Return of the KingThe Trilogy is finally complete. With Return of the King: Extended Edition Peter Jackson has achieved an amazing feat. I should preface this by saying this version is not for the moderate Rings fan. The extended version is around four hours, yes, you heard that correctly. Let me tell you, all four hours are incredible. The theatrical version I was already impressed with and I was really looking forward to seeing the extended version. Embarrassingly I will admit that I actually brought my entire entertainment system (sans TV) home from Canada to Bonney Lake just to watch the Extended Edition. (Insert laughing and finger pointing here) I was glad that I did. The added scenes (as with the previous two extended versions) added so much to the production. Character insights and plot cohesion where greatly added to by the additions. I think my two favorite additions were the battle at Pelennor Fields (such an amazing battle scene in the original that was even better in the extended) and the Mouth of Sauron (great scene from the book that was done very well). There were numerous additions that I was pleased to see. I am still upset that Jackson didn’t like the return to Hobbiton, it was one of my favorite scenes in the book, but I won’t hold that against him. There is also the addition of the commentaries and conclusion to the appendices. The parts of the appendices that I have seen are quite emotional. It is really nice to see what the cast and crew went through and how close they became. There is also a funny Easter egg with an interview between Dom and an unsuspecting Elijah. The Trilogy makes a wonderful conclusion with this extended edition and any fan will definitely have to add this to their collection.

I have also been watching Seinfeld seasons 1 and 2 on DVD and they really are classic. That show set so many trends. “I don’t want to be a pirate!” And Happy Festivus! Let the Airing of Grievances commence!

I was also introduced to Arrested Development over break by my sister. She got the first season on DVD and we have been watching them. I must say, I saw a bit of the first episode when if first came out and it just seemed too strange to me and hadn’t watched it since. Let me tell you, this show is stinking hilarious! Give it a second chance if you stopped watching it! It will be well worth your while. It is very original and clever and the humor is right up my alley, for some reason, and I am not really sure why, but it vaguely reminds me of Family Guy, let me know if you can figure that out.

Movies next up:
The Muppet Christmas Carol – I love this movie
Hero – just released on DVD, great stuff (you can check out my brief comments on Hero here.)
Whatever else comes up…

Hope your pre-Christmas preparations are going well!

PS - this has nothing to do with this post but I found this quote on this guy’s blog and thought it was funny:

If you’re listening to a rock star in order to get your information on who to vote for, you’re a bigger moron than they are.
- Alice Cooper, Rock Star

[UPDATE: The original post and comments are no longer available. :( Sorry!]

Categories: Movies, Social Commentary

Tis the season…

December 22nd, 2004 No comments

A great series of holiday photos with Santa Claus can be seen over here. You will laugh, I dare you not to. (H/T to Althouse.)

Shalom and go have your picture taken with Santa.

Categories: Photoblog

Steven den Beste and USS Clueless

December 20th, 2004 No comments

For those of you that have been an avid reader of Steven den Beste over at USS Clueless, there is an interesting piece over at EuroPundits commenting on how much den Beste contributed to blogging and political commentary. Den Beste also comments on the post and talks about why he left and why he won’t be coming back.

He alludes to the fact that the large majority of his email was from people who were criticizing him and his essays and very few were from supporters. I think this is a pretty sad fact. Even if you disagree with someone, to nitpick every little thing could drive someone mad I suppose. It is too bad that someone who wrote so many interesting essays with such a variety of topics had to leave something that he really enjoyed.

I know that Beste will never actually see this post, but I would say to him: thanks. Your essays were interesting and thought provoking and I will continue to read them and suggest that everyone checks them out. I am sorry that you are going through a tough degenerative disease, all I can do is offer my prayers. Best regards with those things that do still give you pleasure and I hope you recognize that you did have many readers that appreciated greatly what you did there and I apologize that we didn’t let you know more often how we felt. Again, Thanks.

People: go read his essays, pick a topic, do a search and I am sure he will have something interesting to say about it. USS Clueless is a great site, ’nuff said.

UPDATE: Some more thanks and thoughts over here.

UPDATE: Den Beste has just posted a “Best Of” Good thing to check out. (H/T to “Instapundit”)

Categories: Blogging

Just as Appropriate Now as Ever…

December 15th, 2004 No comments

This New Years Eve, something must change me inside, I’m crooked and misguided, and tired of being tired. This New Years Eve, I’m waiting for tomorrow. My heart is on my sleeve, and yes I still believe, in You.

FIF “New Year’s Eve”

Searching for more than mere lies disguised as dogma, tired eyes tend to wander, seek the light. Create in her a sense of awe that sees Your beauty, let Your splendor flash with blinding light. Standing tall all the aspen trees drink water as the rain falls down like laughter from the sky.

FIF “Something Like Laughter”

Night came and I broke my stride, I swallowed hard, but never cried. When grace was easy to forget, I’d denounce the hypocrites, casting first stones, killing my own. You would unscale my blind eyes, and I stood battered, but more wise, fighting to accelerate, shaking free from crippling weight. With resilience unsurpassed, I clawed my way to You at last. And on my knees, I wept at Your feet, I finally believed, that You still loved me.

FIF “On Distant Shores”

And sometimes when we touch
The honesty’s too much
And I have to close my eyes and hide
I wanna hold you til I die
Til we both break down and cry
I wanna hold you till the fear in me subsides

Dan Hill

I know I have posted some of these before, its ok, you can deal with it, I know you can. Read. Ponder. Meditate. Pray. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Go on, you’ll like it.


Categories: Meaningful Song
%d bloggers like this: