Category: Spiritual Disciplines

Movie Theatre

MennoNerds Lent Vlog – Rebellions are Built on Hope

The following was written for a MennoNerds vlog.


This is probably my favourite photo I’ve ever taken. It was during a thunderstorm last summer with an amazing purple sky, looking out from our balcony. In the centre of the shot is the cross at the top of the Lutheran church right beside our apartment building.

3-dimensional cross from church in front of purple stormy sky

Eucharist as Appetizer

When our local church gathering ended this week, Emily turned to me and said she was hungry. Maybe that’s not that strange – our church ends about 12:15, just in time for lunch, but it’s not particularly normal for either of us. I theorized that the piece of bread for communion may have had an appetizer effect, telling our bodies it is time to eat and making us hungry.

Later in the day, the analogy kept hanging around in my head. Maybe it’s not that deep of a thought and really it isn’t much different than the language of sacrament used in much of the Church, but with different language in a way I hadn’t thought about it before.

Walden blocking TV

On the Loss of a Pet

Walden 1 day after joining our family

This is the first photo of Walden I shared on Facebook.

Our cat Walden passed away last night. We had him for just over 2 years – it was only a few days earlier that Facebook reminded me of the first picture of him I shared the day after we got him, the same one I included here to the right. Like any pet, he could be annoying sometimes, but there was no question our lives were better with him. He was a gorgeous cat, very soft, and had a very loud purr when he was happy – which was often. He was energetic and social, often the life of the party whenever people came to our apartment.

Before I continue, I want to make sure it is clear I know that losing a pet is not the same as losing a human loved one. We talk about Walden as having been part of the family or as our “fur baby”, and that is true in many ways. I neither want to trivialize the loss of a pet by saying it is irrelevant compared to loss of a human nor do I want to trivialize the loss of a human by suggesting that they’re basically the same.

Technology - Bible and Headphones

Thoughts on a Lenten Fast

Twitter logoFor the first time in a few years, I decided to give up something for Lent this year (I have done Ash Wednesday and Good Friday food fasts the past couple years). I had been feeling the urge for some time to take a social media break anyway, so this gave me a good excuse.

Miscellaneous

First, some of the miscellaneous observations so far:

My BlackBerry battery lasts about twice as long. How much of that was directly from the Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram apps operating in the background vs how much was because the screen isn’t on as often for me to check it, I can’t say for sure, but I would guess the former because of the next point. If we’re talking about practicalities of living a bit more simply, this is a more significant one than I thought – I don’t have to worry about my phone being dead by the end of a work day plus Home Church, for example.

Technology - Bible and Headphones

Pacifist Video Games

Fallout 4 cover artI just now came across a fascinating story from back in December about Kyle Hinckley who managed to beat the game Fallout 4 without killing a single person. Well, not really. He managed to avoid directly killing anybody, but he did do things like brainwashing non-playable characters into doing it for him.

Kyle said this to Kotaku:

I’d love to ask [the developers] why pacifism is so difficult in this Fallout … I’m a little disappointed in the lack of diplomatic solutions in this game, it’s a lonely departure from the rest of the Fallout series. My version of pacifism isn’t really diplomatic, it’s more exploitative of the game mechanics to achieve a zero-kill record. In other [Fallout] games, you had a lot of alternatives for bypassing the combat, whether it was with sneaking, speech checks, or a back door opened with lock-picking and hacking. In fact, in previous games (at least 3 and NV), your companion kills didn’t count towards your record either.

I don’t know much about the Fallout games at all, but this is a worrying trend in the video game industry in general. I’m not primarily talking about the long-running question of whether we become more violent by playing violent video games.

The Case for Christ

Approaching Apologetics

The Case for ChristIn my later teen and early young adult years, apologetics were a fairly important discipline to me. I read all of Lee Strobel’s “Case For…” books. Looking back on them, there were some great ideas that I’m glad I picked up in an accessible way there instead of in a philosophy class. There were also a lot of things that I soon realized were really bad arguments, such as the treatment of evolution as obviously contrary to true Christianity as well as a lot of thoroughly-debunked arguments against evolution. I have an easier solution to that one: why couldn’t God create the world and move it to where we are today through an evolutionary process?

Arguing Into the Kingdom?

At the time, the purpose for apologetics was essentially to be able to argue people into the Kingdom. That never works. Discussing issues with somebody may be helpful and I’ll get to that, but if you approach a discussion with the attitude that you need to convince inferior intellects of why you are right, you are never going to convince them you are right. People don’t respond well to being treated as inferior. They get defensive and usually end up further entrenched in their prior beliefs.

Cat meme

The Place of Internet Comments

This is a small site. I probably average one comment every two weeks, after Disqus filters out the straight-up spam. About half of those comments are trolls, which I am defining as somebody who posts to tell me why I’m stupid as opposed to actually wanting any dialogue. It’s usually pretty easy to tell who disagrees but wants to give feedback and who are just angry. I try to engage with those who seem to honestly disagree, even when I have a really hard time figuring out why they would think that – sometimes that engagement even helps me understand why they would think that.

I promptly delete trolls. I have better things to do with my time. More importantly, as the owner of this site, I have some responsibility over everything on it, including the comments. If somebody sees a hateful comment directed at them on my feed, I will delete it because I do not want to be a part of spreading those hateful messages to hurt people. The same is true for my social media channels. Sometimes I will get accused of censoring people I don’t agree with, but I’m not going to endorse those messages in the spaces I control. 

Community - MeowMeowBeans

Peeple: the anti-Gospel

Update: There has been some debate about how real this app actually is. It seems there is a strong chance it is vapourware and will never reach market anyway. Also, after the backlash, their social media pages went down and contrary to previous statements they have said that negative comments do not post without your permission. If true, that makes it sort of like LinkedIn’s recommendation system, but without being limited to professional purposes. As always during something causing outrage on the Internet, read Snopes. I have maintained my original post here because I still think it makes a valuable point, whether or not all the details about Peeple are (still) true.


 

There’s a new app in the world. It’s called Peeple. Its being described as “Yelp for People.” The purpose of the app is to put numerical ratings on people you know.

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Ok, that was about an hour and a half of stunned silence in confusion that this exists.

MennoNerds

Coming Soon: Interview on Men’s Spirituality

I’m happy to let my readers here know that I will be interviewing my pastor, Scott Brubaker-Zehr, about his doctoral thesis on men’s spirituality on behalf of MennoNerds. It should be a great opportunity to learn some more about how men in our churches (specifically, Mennonites in the Kitchener-Waterloo region) describe their experiences with God and how we can do better.

You can sign up on either Facebook or Google+ for updates and a reminder:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/775636505891472/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/events/c8d10moj2i8878kpqfo5urdeu64

You can watch on:

Google+: https://plus.google.com/events/c8d10moj2i8878kpqfo5urdeu64

The MennoNerds YouTube page (it should automatically publish there, but I may be wrong on this one)

Embedded in a post on the MennoNerds website

Kobo

eBooks vs Print Books

Kobo

My eReading platform of choice: Kobo

I’m going to be a tech nerd for a post here. A while ago, fellow MennoNerd Paul asked in our vlog about eBooks vs print books. Here’s how I would summarize the difference, and why for my priorities I tend to go with eBooks.

Pro: Physical Space

Paul mentions how he first had to downside his bookshelf to move. I’ve done the same. Within a little over 2 years, I/we moved from Kingston to Guelph to Toronto to Hamilton to Kitchener. We unloaded a lot of books along the way because we had to.