Hoax Bustin’

August 28, 2004

A great link to keep handy on the favorites menu of your brower is the Hoax Busters web site. This site systematically addresses most of the major hoaxes that are floating around the ‘net as a result of the increasingly rampant use of the “forward” button.

For example, did you know that:

  • Bill Gates is NOT giving away money just because you circulate an email to your friends?
  • The virus warning Aunt Edna sent to you is probably instructing you to delete a completely harmless file?
  • The American Cancer Society will NOT donate 3 cents toward a fund for a dying girl just because you forward a certain email to your friends and family?

Some of the most handy advice on the site can be found on the “How to Recognize a Hoax” page, which describes the characteristics of a typical hoax. Among the obvious give-aways is the following:

“Probably the first thing you should notice… is the request to ‘send this to everyone you know’ or some variant of that statement. This should raise a red flag that the warning is probably a hoax. No real warning message from a credible source will tell you to send this to everyone you know.”

Please remember, however, that Hoax Busters focuses on emails. It does not apply, for example, to information you read in blogs. Particularly mine, which I am certain is completely, totally, 100% reliable. Probably. On most occasions, at least. I think.

As an example of the kind of rock-solid, reliable information you can expect to find on this blog, consider the following: if you forward a link to this blog to at least ten of your closest friends and family members, an eccentric New Guinea aristocrat will donate 3 cents to the Society for the Prevention of Internet Hoaxes.

So what are you waiting for? Spread the word to everyone you know! The hoax victim you save may be your own. (Or something like that…)


Olympic “Media Talk”

August 26, 2004

The aging U.S. women’s soccer team looks a lot more like a group of moms who left their minivans behind to take a two week soccer hiatus than it does your typical international soccer team. That fact alone has made it all the more fun watching them whoop up on the rest of the world for the last two weeks.

After the gold medal match today, I was fascinated to hear the responses these thirty-somethings gave to the interview questions. It was all about everyone but themselves. Each athlete gracefully talked about the entire team, how it never gave up. They talked about their families. About what the victory means to little girls who are playing soccer all across the nation. Nobody took any credit, individually. Nobody gave any credit to any other individual.

Contrast those responses with the typical NFL/NBA-er response: Nobody thought we could do it. Guess we proved something today. Joe had a great game today. He really came through for us. The other guys played a hard game. Gotta give them credit, but we put together a good game today.

Why did Hamm and company view their accomplishment in such a broader context? Why was it not so much about beating the other guys (and/or the media and/or the naysayers and/or the adverse situations they faced) as it was about what they had accomplished for themselves, their families, and their country?

On a related note, did you notice how non-American-athlete-ish Paul Hamm was when he was asked about the controversy surrounding his gold medal? It went something like this: “Its been stressful on me to be sure. A lot of people have said a lot of hurtful things. I really appreciate everyone who has come out and said they support me. It makes me feel better.”

Think you’ll ever catch an Alex Rodriguez or Emmit Smith saying something like that? Not a chance. For them, it would be: “No, I don’t pay attention to that. You can’t pay attention to what anyone else says. You have to focus on your game and not worry about what other people do, because you can’t control that. I’m just getting ready for the next match-up. Now, don’t talk to me about this any more!”

What a contrast. Do you think it is because the olympic athletes aren’t used to handling a national spotlight? Is it a difference in the sports? (In the case of the soccer team) in the gender? Is it the difference between amatuer and professional play?

Anyone want to play sports psychologist with this one?

Nothing but the Blood

August 19, 2004

Speaking of mixing old hymns with new styles of music, have you heard Matt Redman’s Nothing But the Blood? I just had a chance to listen to it, and really enjoyed it. You can hear a sample of the song on Redman’s web site.

Madden v NFL 2K5

August 17, 2004

Gamespot is running an article that compares the features of these two video games. The surprising winner is NFL 2K5, which retails at $19.99, although the article concludes that Madden still has a few advantages in the area of defensive play and franchise mode.
Wow. First, the US basketball team loses to Puerto Rico. Now, the long-time champion of football video games falls to a value priced title. What next? The Rangers in the playoffs?

Wishy Washy on the Worship Wars

August 15, 2004

I keep reading about the so-called “worship wars.” From what I can tell, a lot of churches these days are in upheaval over styles of worship, and especially styles of music. Having come from a faith tradition that long ago perfected the art of worship war-making*, the last thing I want is to get swept up into this sort-of controversy.

So, to those of you who are thinking about trying to recruit me to your viewpoint on the subject, I make this simple request: Don’t make me choose.

Really. I’m not going to pick sides on this one. I intend to be completely and unabashedly wishy washy on the subject until the whole controversy blows over. This isn’t because it is a presidential election year, and I’m trying to get into swing of things. It is because I like music. All kinds. And I love to praise God. In all kinds of ways. And – pardon me for being so frank – but I just don’t want to make a choice.

I like to sing acapella songs – new and old – on Sunday mornings at Highland.

I like the worship songs of Mercy Me.

I like to sing while my dad leads singing at the small congregation where I grew up.

I like to worship with Jeff Deyo and his band. Rock concert volumes. Passionate lyrics.

I like to pray during Oasis (Highland’s Wednesday night service) while the soft sounds of the Zoe Group play in the background.

I like When I Survey the Wondrus Cross. We can sing it however you want: acapella, guitar, piano, orchestra, Chris Tomlin version – you name it. I’m ready to go.

I like Amazing Grace.

I like to sit quietly on the floor – eyes closed and headphones on – listening to modern worship music.

I like the soulful sounds of african-american gospel choirs and the warmth and energy of African youth choirs.

I like to sit at my keyboard, softly playing songs like The Old Rugged Cross and Before the Throne of God Above.

I like the Highland youth band.

I like Handel’s Messiah. Especially the Hallelujah Chorus and And the Glory.

I like passing the hours during long drives by listening to United Live albums.

I like old lyrics (“The hill of Zion yields a thousand sacred sweets/before we reach the heaveanly fields/or walk the golden streets”).

I like new lyrics (“And when I dance with you/I’ve finally found my place/Its so extraordinary in a normal way/’cause I was made for loving You/I was made for loving You”).

I like honest lyrics (“And how could it be/ that you were the one on the cross?/Lifted for all our shame?/And how could it be/ the thorns in those hands/ are for me?/You are the King of all”).

I like to sing the Zaccheaus song with my kids before bedtime.

I like to sing The Lord Bless You and Keep You at ACU events.

So I’ll say it again: I don’t want to choose. Music gives a voice to our hearts. Every one of these experiences gives me a unique and meaningful opportunity to tell God what He means to me. Better yet, many of them give me a chance to make music with others who want to say the same things to Him, in the same ways.

I don’t want to lose any of these experiences. Do I really have to choose?

I sure hope not.
*Those of you who aren’t familiar with Churches of Christ can’t begin to appreciate just how true this is. For the last half century, our small fellowship has – in true Phariseeical form – relentlessly bashed just about every worship practice known to Christendom, upholding our own assemblies (involving no choirs, no robes, no candles, no shouting, no instrumental music, no art, no dancing, no clapping, no shouting, and – above all – no women in any public role) as the model that everyone else should be following. We’ve even managed to get onto each other from time for such heretical worship practices as: singing songs written during the last half century, reading from translations that were completed during the last TWO centuries, clapping, and even disrupting the traditional ORDER in which the various acts of worship are faithfully (if not – on occasion – somewhat dryly) performed.

Funny thing about it is: While I consider myself to be “in recovery” from a lot of the attitudes that have dominated our corner of the evangelical world over the years, I love our little fellowship of churches. A lot of us are deeply committed to understanding what it means to be “just a Christian” – and I think most folks are finding their way back onto a healthier path, theologically, these days.

Olympic Glory

August 14, 2004

I did it again last night. It was at least the ninth time. Before I was even ten, I was transfixed by the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. And my fascination has only become more and more refined over the years.

Last night, I watched the opening ceremonies of the 2004 Summer Olympics.

There is something about the smiles on the faces of those athletes. They come from all kinds of places. Rich countries. Poor countries. Democratic countries. Dictatorships. Communist countries. War-torn countries.

They all smile.

The whole globe is groaning from war, famine, destruction, poverty. But for just a few days, these men and women get to go to a place where they simply get to play.

So they smile.

Some of them have played in NBA Championships and World Cups. They’ve been in places like the olympic stadium before. But they’ve never experienced anything like this.

They can’t help it. They smile.

Some of them are from third world countries where probably grew up in (and may return to) poverty. When they get back, those people will carry stories that will be told and re-told for generations to come.

They smile, too.

I used to think it was kind of neat, but way too ideal. The world could never really be like this for more than a few days, could it? People from every corner of the globe, assembled together for a single purpose? All together in one place: American and Iraqi, Jew and Arab, British and French. Standing together. Singing. Dancing. Talking.


I used to think it was too good to be true. But now I know the truth: Someday, it will be like this. No, it will be better:

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
(Rev. 7:9-10)

Guess what?

Last night, I smiled, too.


August 14, 2004

I’m going to mirror my entries from Blog City over here for the next couple of days, just to see how things go.