Here’s a little treat for your evening surfing… go here. I would give more information or credit, but I don’t speak Russian.
Last night, Heather and I went to see Slumdog Millionaire. Our kids are old enough that we can leave them for a spur-of-the-moment date. So we went down to our local supermarket, bought the discount tickets, and away we went.
And yes, if you heard about the Oscars results, it won just about every award there was to win.
We were glad. It was a triumph of the little guy (in more ways than one).
Anyhow, back to the movie — it is very graphic and disturbing. (Disclaimer: it is rated “R” for a reason — It shook up our reality and made us remember why we went back to Africa to live.) This glimpse into poverty and the harsh reality of life for so many millions is now in the faces of many different millions who may never see that otherwise.
This photo depicts Kibera — the largest slum in Africa. Heather and I have some friends who live there and have visited several times. It is depressing to see sewage running along the walkways. But it is also an exciting vibrant community of people who are making the best life they can out of the least available resources. (Ironically, I took this photo from the water tower at a neighboring tennis club.)
Go see it while it’s still in the theaters. The large screen and sound system will impact you a lot more than if you wait till the video comes out.
There’s a new website that our new government (well, the new leadership of our old government) has created: recovery.gov. I admire that fact that our president wants to be accountable to the people.
I know, I know — the bailout plan will be paid for by our kids out of the growing national deficit. But you gotta look at the bright side. At least there are some good things happening.
Back to the flag… if you watched the video on the website, did you notice that President Obama is: 1) wearing read-white-and-blue, 2) wearing a little flag on his lapel, and 3) sitting in front of a flag? How patriotic can you get?!
Jon Swanson is the executive pastor at Grabill Missionary Church in Grabill, Indiana. He is also a frequent blogger at Levite Chronicles and 300 words a day. We have enjoyed each others’ presence on the web for about three years. We met through our friend Chris Brogan. We both “look at normal things in odd ways”. If you start reading Jon’s blog, you’ll get hooked too!
How did you get started in blogging?
I have written short pieces for reflection for a long time. They were used as radio PSAs 20 years ago, as sponsored radio commentaries 15 years ago, as bulletin cover service settings 10 years ago, and probably for other things I can’t remember. About 7 years ago I started writing for my own sake a journal called “the Levite Chronicles”, a collection of poems and short meditations that helped me keep track of becoming a levite, one who served in the temple in support of the priests. (That’s it’s own post). In 2005, for reasons that I can’t remember, I started a blog at blogger.com with the Levite Chronicles “brand” as a way to move my thinking online. Sometime after that I moved to WordPress.
How do you juggle the real-world of your church job with the virtual world of your on-line ministry?
Which is the real world? There are real people with real pain and real dreams that I first met on-line. Many of these people I have subsequently talked with and then seen face-to-face. Other people I have met face-to-face, in my office, and then have spent significant time with online.
If the question is, how do I juggle time spent with the real people that give money to pay my salary and real people who don’t, that is a different challenge, one that I wrestle with daily. Can I write a post while in my office or only at 11:00 at night? On the other hand, do I answer the email from someone local at 11:00 at night or only in my office?
Because my primary “work” responsibility is spiritual formation, helping people become more like Jesus, I use that as a significant dividing line. If I am writing about productivity, I do that at home. If I am writing about formation, I occasionally do that at my office. If I am answering questions from near or far, I do that either place, because it is about people.
I do find, however, that my time for social media locations such as twitter, varies based on how much interaction I am having with local people.
What’s your favorite post you have created?
The one I am writing next week. And I never get to next week.
What’s the post that caused the most reactions?
I wrote a post called “what I mean when I say pray.” I wrote it sitting in our kitchen, looking at the scene described. It has had a significant value for people who want me to pray for them but can’t quite say that. So they ask for some chocolate milk.
What are some quick tips you would give to a pastor considering adding blogging to his or her mix of ministries?
1. Pick an audience that you want to share your heart with and write. But see them clearly when you write.
2. Make a practice of talking without sounding like church.
3. Give something up. Like TV.
4. Look at it like conversation with people.
5. If you aren’t comfortable being transparent, don’t add blogging. It works best if you are honest.
6. Be careful of “in” jokes. They sound really bad to anyone who isn’t in.
7. Know that people will find you. And they will measure your church based on what they see in what you write.
Are there any in your church that have followed you on-line as a result of your presence on the internet?
There are a couple answers to that question.
1. We changed churches a year ago. People from my old church have kept up with us by following my writing. There are people from our current church that read my blog to find out about me during the interview process and after I was hired. I write knowing that I have a very mixed group of friends.
2. At least a couple people have started writing online because of my writing. I set up a blog for a local pastor friend. My wife is now on facebook.
What encourages you most?
When someone says, “I never thought about God that way.”
What’s the ultimate meal you would share with your lovely wife?
Barbecue brisket from the Coupland Inn in Coupland, Texas. We lived in Austin for three years. Our honeymoon was driving to Austin from Wheaton, Illinois. Barbecue is great there. The Coupland Inn was the best.
Thanks, Jon! It’s great to learn more about you. May God use us for the highest good!
So what is “Bumble and bumble”? It’s a hair salon in Boulder, Colorado. (Boulder is a very cool town, if you have never been there. Or even if you have.)
I didn’t go inside the shop — but I did enjoy their sign. Their designer had fun with the “Bb.”
If I were the sort to frequent hair salons, I might not want a bumbler to do my hair — but the shop is up-scale enough that they must do a good job. A classic example of form winning over substance.
If you own a Macbook or a Macbook pro, this post is for you.
Whenever you need to remove the magnetic power cord, just tip the end of the little block furthest from the computer up at an angle. That allows it to be removed much easier. It also saves wear and tear on the cord at the vulnerable point where the cord enters the shield.
Hopefully you are one of my readers who came from My Part of Colorado.
I moved here because I sort of outgrew Blogger. I called this site “Paul Merrill” because that’s who I am. I’m still in Colorado but thought people might recognize me if my site was named after me. Just personally, I hesitated to name this site with my name because I’m modest (in some ways), but I guess it just makes sense in terms of staking out my real estate on the old www.
A cool thing is that I can change my site name in a minute (to “World of Shiny Bits”) with my url remaining the same. So maybe I will, at some point.
And to those of you who frequent this blog, you may have noticed that this is about my fourth or fifth theme in about as many days. I like this one (Vigilance), as it has a serif font for the body text! Strangely, few of the themes out there use a serif font for the body. (Developers, take note!!) I do admit that this current theme is a bit boring, visually. We’ll see. Stay tuned for another theme coming soon, probably.
So yes, I’m trying out this WordPress thing.
I’m still figuring it out, so if everything doesn’t look like it should, you can forgive me.
One thing I don’t like is image placement — the only way for my images to look correct is for me to center them. And that doesn’t look right. (If I put them at the left, where I like them, there is no padding around the image.) But I’ll figure it out soon.
I’m going to Wordcamp Denver. That should help me fix everything.
Google adsense? I might return to that, after the dust settles.