Monday, October 30, 2006

Mocking the devil

This is a repost from about this time last year.

Soon after my wife and I became Christians, the first holiday out the window was Halloween. It was obviously devilish, and we wanted our children to have nothing to do with it.

Back in the '80s and early '90s, Satanism scaremongers like the now-discredited Mike Warnke saw nothing but evil in the celebration of Halloween, and American Christians, steeped in the belief that the end times were upon us, were all too eager to believe the worst about any subject.

As my wife and I grew to understand more fully the sovereignty of God, our views on Halloween relaxed. But we were never completely comfortable with the idea.

Until (2004). Funny how one well-written article can dismantle all manner of faulty prejudices.

You must read the whole article. For one thing, it's short. Well, kinda short. For another, it's rare to find someone with this opinion of what is so commonly believed to be a Satanic holiday co-opted by the church. The truth may very well be the opposite:

(M)any articles in books, magazines, and encyclopedias are written by secular humanists or even the pop-pagans of the so-called "New Age" movement. ... These people actively suppress the Christian associations of historic customs, and try to magnify the pagan associations. They do this to try and make paganism acceptable and to downplay Christianity. Thus, Halloween, Christmas, Easter, etc., are said to have pagan origins. Not true.

Oddly, some fundamentalists have been influenced by these slanted views of history. These fundamentalists do not accept the humanist and pagan rewriting of Western history, American history, and science, but sometimes they do accept the humanist and pagan rewriting of the origins of Halloween and Christmas, the Christmas tree, etc. We can hope that in time these brethren will reexamine these matters as well. We ought not to let the pagans do our thinking for us.

Read the entire article. (This is a slightly different link than what I had last year.)

BONUS: Carve your own online pumpkin.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Apple Store update

Fort Wayne student (and former News-Sentinel intern) Andrew Welfle left a post down below telling me that, yes, there do seem to be plans to open an Apple Store right here in Fort Wayne, at the somewhat-chic Jefferson Pointe shopping mall.

(Photo is of the Apple Store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.)

King Tut photos online

No one is allowed to take photos of the King Tut items. Sorry 'bout that.

But instead, as you wait for us to post our own photos from our trip to Chicago, you can see many of the items we saw at the Field Museum's own web site. Check out the wonderful photos of the traveling exhibit.

Tutankhamun and The Golden Age of the Pharaohs

It's in Chicago only until January 1. After that, the exhibit visits The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, so if you're reading this from out east, you still have a good shot at seeing these priceless pieces before they return to Egypt forever.

Friday, October 27, 2006

We're back from Chicago!

Hi! Our trip to Chicago and The Field Museum went great! We left Wednesday morning and got back Thursday night. Wow, we were tired by the end of it. The drive back seemed to take twice as long as the drive there.

This is our photo of the Sears Tower. I'll post much more later, but we have a busy day today, with me meeting a friend for coffee this afternoon. Plus, we're going to be carving pumpkins with another family this evening. Then, I work tomorrow morning, and Mary has a craft show tomorrow, too!

So, stay tuned for more photos, maybe in a few days.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

New song: 'Still Beautiful'

And here is another song that I intend to perform at The Anchor Room on Novermber 3.

Still Beautiful
By Jon Swerens · Sept. 30, 2006

What if no one believes? What if no one perceives?
What if everyone leaves at the sound of His voice?
What if nobody fears? What if nobody hears?
If they plug up their ears like it’s nothing but noise?

The Word of God is still beautiful
The Word of God, still beautiful

What if everyone hates? What if everyone fakes?
What if everyone takes just the parts that they like?
What if they break the rules and establish the schools?
Teach a nation of fools that darkness is light?

The Word of God is still beautiful
The Word of God, still beautiful

What if every setback were an utter defeat?
Could we rest in the promise it’s all under His feet?

What if Christians behave as if Christ couldn’t save
Unless they become slaves to the law that oppressed?
What if grace were passé and a shackle the way
To show how we obey and deserve to be blessed?

The Word of God is still beautiful
The Word of God, still beautiful

©2006 Jon Swerens

Photo by Steve Linsenmayer

New song: 'We Simply Forgot'

Here a new song that I intend to sing at my next gig at The Anchor Room on November 3.

We Simply Forgot
By Jon Swerens · September 2006

We promised our lives, we promised our gifts
And everything short of the moon
We entered the race then slackened our pace
It seems that we rested too soon
Father, remind us how quickly we tend to forget, with little regret
Father, forgive us for giving ourselves incompletely, and so weakly
I guess we got hooked on a fat pocketbook
And the treasures and trinkets it bought
We heard what You said but we’ve been so well fed
That it seems we simply forgot

With lips that tell lies and with covetous eyes
And with hands over unbroken hearts
We pledge to obey and in less than a day
Our faithfulness crumbles apart
Father, remind us how often we sink in defeat and beat a retreat
Father, forgive us for thinking we still deserve credit, we don’t get it
We tend to lose track ’cause we’re not looking back
At the parables You always taught
The stuff we ignore when we’re keeping the score
Are the things we simply forgot

So Father we thank You for telling us frankly
That thoughtlessness mars all we do
The only things You have forgotten
Are all of the times we forgot about You

You laid down your life, You laid down Your gifts
And you captured each one that You sought
We’re acting like squatters but we’re sons and daughters of You
We simply forgot

©2006 Jon Swerens

Photo by Steve Linsenmayer

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Starbucks takes over Fort Wayne

Just to prove how much corporate hipness Fort Wayne has, we now have 10 Starbucks locations in town. With two more opening soon.

Starbucks in Fort Wayne

That counts one apiece in our two Targets, which also adds hipness, come to think of it.

Let's hope that rumor that we're getting an Apple Store is true. We'll be so hip we won't be able to stand ourselves.

But to mitigate, we have four Wal-marts, with two more to be built over the next year or two.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

How I spent my last two evenings

Creating posters for my next gigs:

I think they turned out well -- after I figured out how to print a color photo on my ink jet printer.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

It snowed today!

Jack Frost likely to make first visit to NE Indiana tonight

But today's snow was by no means the earliest Fort Wayne has received snow.

A trace fell Sept. 25, 1942, according to the National Weather Service. The snowiest October was in 1989, when 8 inches fell.

link to News-Sentinel story

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Miso soup update

The verdict:

Two country miles beyond gross. Salt water with a delicate bouquet of Spic and Span.

original post

"Thy Word is a light..."

This is not a parody.

When was the last time your class saw how "HOT" God's Word is? Open this authentic looking "bible" and begin to share the scripture for the day as real flames are seen coming from your "bible". This full size book comes with a battery operated ignition system. All you supply are the batteries, lighter fluid and composure as your class gets excited. (special note: Fed-Ex shipping is available if you absolutely have to have the Fire Bible for this Sunday!)

Only $44.95!

"Wow, the preacher was on fire this mornin'!"

HT: Between Two Worlds via Blog and Mablog

"The Play"

Have you seen those ads for a Sony HD TV with "Lo-Def" sports? It featured what's called "The Play," the shocking, unbelievable ending of a football game between Stanford and University of California in 1982.

Here's a seven-minute video of the ending of the game. If you like football at all, you'll love this:

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A comic for my dad

The cultural critic: Where my dad and I are way too alike!

Click to see a larger version:

UPDATE: I neglected to mention that this comic is called Arlo & Janis, and is a favorite of mine and my wife's. The cartoonist, Jimmy Johnson, also has his own web site that he updates a few times a week with comics from his archives.

Monday, October 9, 2006

The industrial organic complex

Organic food is better, bucolic and just the right thing to do, right?

BusinessWeek begs to differ in its story: Exposing the organic myth.

(Stonyfield's) main facility is a state-of-the-art industrial plant just off the airport strip in Londonderry, N.H., where it handles milk from other farms. And consider this: Sometime soon a portion of the milk used to make that organic yogurt may be taken from a chemical-free cow in New Zealand, powdered, and then shipped to the U.S.

I feel somewhat sorry for the purveyors of organic food, because it seems they're the victims of their own success, with too much business and not enough organic food:
For some companies, it means keeping thousands of organic cows on industrial-scale feedlots. For others, the scarcity of organic ingredients means looking as far afield as China, Sierra Leone, and Brazil — places where standards may be hard to enforce, workers' wages and living conditions are a worry, and, say critics, increased farmland sometimes comes at a cost to the environment.

It seems the term "organic" is about to become even more slippery.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Making a (wee little) living

Since I'm home nursing a head cold -- feels like an ice pick in my ear -- it's a good time to get all philosophical on y'all.

But first, if you haven't done so yet, go over to my MySpace page and listen to the first song there, "River." It should open in a new window and start playing the song automatically. Note that you can read the lyrics there, too.

Then come back here.

I'll wait.


Now, what if I made such home recordings available for free downloads, with the request for a donation if you like the song? Would you give up a buck or five for the starving musician?

Or do you think more old-school? Do you need to have a CD in your hand for songs to have real worth?

Because, face it: I will likely never even be offered a record contract, nor would it be a sure thing that I'd accept one if offered. But technology has made a contract increasingly obsolete.

I can now record music, including vocals, on my little eMac computer, create cover art and such on the same computer, send the music files and art files through the Internet to a CD printing company, and get my CDs in the mail in a couple of weeks.

Then, I can set up a Web-based store though which I can sell my wares via credit card or PayPal.

Plus, I can send my songs to iTunes and other online music stores and sell them there. (Not that I've actually *sold* any songs on iTunes, but still.)

And then I can sell related merch for exorbitant prices.

I'm not trying to figure out how to make gobs of money with this hobby/calling of mine -- although if anyone has a spare gob, ask for my mailing address. But I am trying to figure out how to make this perhaps pay for itself a little more. (The monitor speaker we just bought? $300.)

So anyway, don't be surprised to see me try some stuff online in an attempt to raise awareness of my music and to raise some cash to support it. Let me know if you have any ideas or comments along the way.

Monday, October 2, 2006

Michael Card, in concert

Anyone who has paid attention to my list of "musicians who have influenced you" would see Michael Card at the top of the list. So when we found out Michael would be performing here in Fort Wayne, Mary and I knew we would be there.

I have ten of Michael's albums on CD, plus another one on cassette somewhere. So I am not just a casual fan. But I haven't kept up with some of his more recent CDs, like his album on the life of the apostle Peter, or on the book of Revelation, or on the book of Hebrews. His songs are intensely biblical and he brings an intense level of scholarship to them.

The concert was a celebration for local church Wallen Baptist's new sanctuary. So Michael brought his album of new music -- full of songs of lament.

But although Mary and I were afraid the concert would be full of music we didn't know, he put everyone at ease very early in the evening by performing perhaps his most well-known song, "El Shaddai." The two-hour (!) concert was a pleasing mix of older and new material. He was even unashamed to play the first song he ever wrote.

Needless to say, we bought his newest CD, which considering the subject matter, has a more bluesy-jazzy flavor to it in parts. Michael natural melancholy now has a home -- especially now that he's not a major label telling him things like he has to follow up a dark song with a happy-snappy song, which happened on his "Poiema" album. Gah.

OK, I've rambled on a bit, but it was a sweet and funny and sad and moving concert. Well done and thank you, Michael.