Wednesday, September 27, 2006


It's no secret that New York City has a large Jewish population--from those who embrace their Jewishness merely as a cultural identity to orthodox believers recognizable by their yarmulkes, to the stricter sects such as the Hasidics who's public displays involve both dress and grooming.

Jews are, of course, not the only religion represented when walking down the streets of New York. Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, and others have, as part of their religious practice, clothing and ornamentation that sets them apart, that signifies their beliefs in a glance, that proclaims without a word exactly what it is that they adhere to and stand for. There is no ambivalence. There is no confusion. It is not something they could hide if they wanted to. Indeed, their appearance itself is a form of evangelism.

And it got me thinking...

What if Christians had to do the same?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Allow Me To Introduce Myself

My sister recently sent me this. Usually, I groan every time I see one of these in my mailbox, but sometimes, as today, I am in the mood for a little introspection. Instead of merely firing it back, I thought it might be fun to post it instead. Enjoy.



CURRENT LIVING ARRANGEMENT: A pre-war studio in New York City's Upper West Side

PREVIOUS LIVING ARRANGEMENTS: A quaint, one bedroom apartment in an over one-hundred year-old Victorian house in downtown Colorado Springs, and before that, an Italian villa with a vast balcony overlooking a medieval castle on one side and a grove of scented oranges on the other.

ROOMATES: My beautiful wife, Stephanie and my cat, "Cleo"patra

YOUR CURRENT OCCUPATION: I'm back to being a student. After some years working, I am in grad school at NYU, getting my MA in Cinema Studies.

YOUR PREVIOUS OCCUPATIONS: Producer at a video production company, Aircrewman in the U.S. Navy, Newspaper Reporter, church janitor

HOW MUCH DO YOU LOVE YOUR JOB?: I love being a student! I've so missed the learning environment. I could do this forever.



RELIGIOUS?: “Fear God and obey His commands; there is no more to a man than this.” – Ecc. 12:13

SEEING ANYONE?: Stephanie, my wife!





FAVORITE DRINKS: Baileys, Bloody Mary, Caparina, Gin and Tonic, Vodka Gimlet, Mojito, Guinness, Sam Adams


COFFEE--BLACK OR WITH ADDITIVES?: As black as can be. My Great-Grandfather had a saying, “There is no such thing as strong coffee, just weak men.” Now that is philosophy to live by!

FAVORITE TIME OF THE YEAR: Fall, when the leaves change, the air chills and the first scents of winter spice the air.



“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

“Delight is to him -- a far, far upward and inward delight – who against the proud gods and commodores of this earth ever stands forth his own inexorable self! Delight is to him whose strong arms yet support him, when the ship of this base treacherous world has gone down beneath him. Delight is to him, who gives no quarter in the truth, and kills, burns, and destroys all sin though he pluck it out from under the robes of senators and judges. Delight, topgallant delight is to him, who acknowledges no law or lord, but the Lord his God, and is only a patriot to heaven. Delight is to him, whom all the waves of the billows of the seas of the boisterous mob can never shake from this sure Keel of the Ages. And eternal delight and deliciousness will be his, who coming to lay him down, can say with his final breath – O Father! – I have striven to be Thine, more than to be this world’s, or mine own.” -- Herman Melville

“I have sworn, upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” -- Thomas Jefferson

“Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry."-- Mark Twain

"For I seek not to understand in order that I may believe; but I believe in order that I may understand, for I believe for this reason: that unless I believe, I cannot understand."-- Anselm of Canterbury

FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH: Anything on the Winter Olympics

FAVORITE MOTION PICTURE DIRECTORS: Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, David Lean, Akira Kurosawa, Woody Allen, Ingmar Bergman—believe me, as a film student I could go on for pages

THINGS WHICH DRIVE YOU TO RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION: The suppression of truth, injustice, racial prejudice, a man striking a woman

WHAT DO YOU ADMIRE MOST IN OTHERS?: Honor, empathy, humility, integrity, honesty, fortitude, strength of character, depth of intellect, class; a person who personifies love as defined in the Scriptures.

FAVORITE MAGAZINE: Without a doubt, National Geographic. I also subscribe to Christianity Today, The New Yorker and Entertainment Weekly.

FAVORITE SMELLS: Rainfall on freshly cut grass; pine on a cool mountain breeze; newly cut cedar; a blazing camp fire; a heady ocean draft; an expensive perfume on a beautiful woman

FAVORITE SOUNDTRACK: Legends of the Fall by James Horner, Lawrence of Arabia by Maurice Jarre, The Thin Red Line by Hans Zimmer, etc.

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK WHEN YOU WAKE?: The news--I awaken to several hours of Morning Edition on National Public Radio.

WEBSITES YOU VISIT DAILY: IMDb,, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Metacritic, Apple Movies

FAVORITE FOODS: Absolutely anything that comes from the sea!, Italian pastas, curry dishes, Asian, etc.

FAVORITE ARTISTS: Sandro Botticelli, Gustave Klimt, Leonardo de Vinci, Maxfield Parrish, Caspar David Freidrich, Norman Rockwell

DO YOU LIKE TO DRIVE? Obviously a question invented by someone who has never had the joy of depressing the gas petal on the autobahns and autostrada’s of Europe!

THUNDERSTORMS--COOL OR SCARY?: There is little more terrifying or awe inspiring than a calamitous lighting and thunder storm!

IF YOU COULD MEET ONE PERSON DEAD OR ALIVE: One!? Riiiiiight! Jesus Christ, Theodore Roosevelt, T.E. Lawrence, William Shakespeare, Alexander the Great, Orson Wells, C.S. Lewis, Mark Twain, Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Leonardo di Vinci, Aristotle, Cary Grant, Galileo, St. Paul, Marcus Aurelius, Charlemagne, St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Marco Polo, Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, Anselm and Abelard, Francis Schaefer, Thomas Merton, Henry David Thoreau, Brennen Manning, oh, did it say just one?…

WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE WRITERS?: Homer, Shakespeare, Thomas Malory, Sir Walter Scott, Henry David Thoreau, J.R.R. Tolkien, Pat Conroy, C.S. Lewis, Arthur Conan Doyle, Beowulf's Anonymous, Milton, Jane Austen, Joseph Conrad, —believe me, as an English Major I could go on for pages

WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE POETS: Shakespeare, Whitman, Tennyson, Browning, Wordsworth—believe me, well, once again you get the idea

IF YOU COULD DYE YOUR HAIR ANY COLOR, WHAT WOULD IT BE? I’m going to have to go with my brother on this one, “The color that makes your hair stop receding!”

WHAT IS ON YOUR WALLS IN YOUR HOUSE? Garden scenes from Van Gogh and Monet, masterworks by Michelangelo and di Vinci, images of home and family, my Black and Whites of every major European city I have had the pleasure of setting foot in, Venetian masks, etc.

WOULD YOU EVER SKYDIVE?: I already have!


DO YOU SMOKE?: Cigars and pipes


FAVORITE SONGS? Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 “Ode to Joy” by Ludwig van Beethoven, Sym. No. G minor, K 183 by Mozart; “Toccata and Fugue” by Bach; “Nessun dorma” by Puccini, "The Knight's Dance" from the ballet "Romeo and Juliet" by Sergei Prokofiev; and more contemporarily, "How it Ends" by DeVotchKa; "Adiemus" by Adiemus; Hallelujah by Rufus Wainwright; "Clocks" by Coldplay; "Somewhere Only We Know" by Keane; "Butterflies & Hurricanes" by Muse; anything by David Gray or U2

FAVORITE TV SHOW CURRENTLY AIRING: Battlestar Galactica, The Amazing Race, How I Met Your Mother, Lost


FAVORITE MOVIE: Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia, Dead Poet's Society, The Village, Citizen Kane, Lost in Translation, Lion in Winter, 2001, Dark City, A Man for all Seasons, Snow Falling on Cedars, Army of Darkness, Moulin Rouge, Cinema Paradiso, The Bicycle Thief, Hiroshima Mon Amour, The Seventh Seal, Amelie, Rushmore, Couching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Motorcycle Diaries, Heat, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Shawshank Redemption, Ran, The Seven Samurai...oh hell, anything by Kurosawa...


FAVORITE ZOO EXHIBIT: If there is an aquarium, I am there; the big cats or birds of prey

DO YOU PLAY AN INSTRUMENT?: No, but I want to learn the piano

DO YOU SPEAK ANY FOREIGN LANGUAGES?: A smattering of Italian and French

WHAT ARE YOU FAVORITE HOBBIES: Films, photography, writing, reading, travel, any activity that leads me to the mountains...

WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU READ LATELY: Jonathan Safran Foer's "Everything Is Illuminated" and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" by Michael Chabon, "March" by Geraldine Brooks, "God's Politics" by Jim Wallis, "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson, and, of course, innumerable textbooks!

FAVORITE MUSEUMS: The Uffizi in Florence, The Capitoline in Rome, The Riksmuseum in Amsterdam, Denver Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Air and Space

WHAT MUSIC HAVE YOU BEEN LISTENING TO LATELY: Ben Folds, U2, David Gray, The Beatles, Coldplay, Bob Dylan, Sigur Rós, Keane, Queen, Mozart.

FAVORITE PLACES YOU'VE LIVED: Manhattan, Italy, Washington D.C., Colorado Springs, San Diego

PLACES YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE RIGHT NOW: Exactly where I am (New York City), Okinawa to see my newborn new niece, back in Europe where I intend to live again one day soon

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PLACES ON EARTH?: The canals of Venice, the Cuinque-terre, the Melk Abbey in Austria, the emerald-green sea-cliffs of Ireland, Prague, the Swiss Alps

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Proud of you sis!

I'm so proud of my sister.

Over the weekend, wait, let me start earlier than that...

Several months ago, she decided to start her life anew. Tired of the cold and dreariness of Michigan, where she's lived since getting out of the Army several years ago, she packed everything she owns into her car (including her two cats) and alone, drove across the country to San Diego, California, where she'd always dreamed of living. She also knew what she wanted to do when she got there. Become a police officer with the San Diego Police Department.

The first hurdle is crossed.

This weekend she had two tests leading to academy placement. The first was a written test which she knocked out easily. The second was a physical obstacle course test. She was the only female to pass it.

Other hurdles remain over the upcoming months--background investigations, polygraph tests, interviews--but I know she will attack those with the same ferocity with which she's confronted everything else. If all continues to go well, she'll begin the 71st Police Academy in January.

Proud of you sis!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Happy New Year!

This weekend marks Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish new year and the beginning of 10 days of repentance before God and man leading to Yom Kippur.

It is a holiday that I, as a Christian, have never before celebrated. But as with the kosher lifestyle and each Sabbath I've kept the past month, I observed Rosh Hashanah with my cousin and her husband.

Haim came to the United States from Israel to study music. He fell in love with Monica. She converted to Judaism during an arduous two year process and they were married soon after. If you've seen the delightful Keeping the Faith you know their story. Minus the priest. And the karaoke.

At sundown Friday night, we sat at the table and Haim prayed in Hebrew. The meal we sat down to included new fruits, round challah bread symbolizing the cycle of the year and apples dipped in honey to signify a sweet new year.

It was a beautiful evening and I've been honored to worship beside them. I look forward to doing so often in the upcoming years.

Happy new year and may it be sweet and full of the forgiveness of God and your fellow man.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

And They Shall Handle Deadly Snakes And Not Be Harmed

So Christians have been in the news a lot the last few days (no, not the Pope's comments on Muslims--though I'll probably comment on that soon enough).

Too bad it's not for anything remotely of substance or praise.

Today, Fox announced it is creating a new division, FoxFaith. A branch of the same company that produces Fox News (the only news broadcasters who will be raptured to be with the Lord, I once heard a pastor say from the pulpit) and of course, "Beverly Hills 90210," "Melrose Place," "Married With Children," "The Simple Life," and "Temptation Island" (which those same gushing believers conveniently like to overlook) will now release as many as a dozen films a year specifically for Christian audiences who generally shun cineplexes but may be wooed in after the success of such films as "The Passion of the Christ" and "The Chronicles of Narnia." Here's hoping it's fair and balanced. Maybe O'Riley, Geraldo and Coulter will get cameos. Amazing what a single, biased, demographic-pandering news network will do for a company's image with sheep with blinders on.

On other news, e-mails have begun circulating this week that mere days before his death, Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin made Jesus Christ his Lord and Savior at a Pentecostal church in Australia. And there was much rejoicing. This seems to happen anytime somebody "nice" dies. "Thank God he became a Christian before the end." "Yes, it was all in God's perfect plan. I always knew there was something special about him." "Yes, it's a great comfort to me knowing that he is in Heaven right now." Too bad it isn't true.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I And Not My Wound Endure

The thing that one is struck by when visiting Ground Zero is not so much the absence of the buildings as it is the presence of space. This is lower Manhattan. There isn't a square foot here that doesn't have built upon it some tower of glass and steel. So to have this much open space in the middle of everything is eerie, unnerving.

I first visited the site last week. A friend recommended that I spend some time there alone before experiencing it amidst the tumult of bodies that would inevitably decent for the memorial service today.

I was reminded of the Scriptures when Christ violently expelled the money-changers from the temple. Everywhere I turned, vendors sold cheap trinkets and mementos. Visitors stood, posing for pictures in front of the remnants of carnage with idiot grins on their faces like they were hamming it up with Mickey Mouse.

Very few posed for such pictures this morning. Though the usual cacophonous din of voices filled the air at 8:45, they lapsed into silence at 8:46 when the bells of the city’s churches began to toll, marking the time the first plane plunged into the North Tower. Commuters and sightseers stopped what they were doing and stood, rooted, listening as the names of the thousands of dead began to be read out by their family members, streaming into the core of the sunken pit in order to pay their respects. All we could do was look on through fences and cry.

I could not help but think of a graduation ceremony as the names were read. Name after name after name. For hours it went on, with only brief interruptions.

9:03. Another moment of silence to signify the exact moment when the South Tower was struck by the second plane. The names continued.

9:59. Exactly five years ago this minute the South Tower imploded and fell in on itself. The names continued.

I began to walk, circling the massive site and trying to take it all in. The day was bright and nearly cloudless, just like that day five years ago. Monolithic flags snapped in the breeze or rippled on the sides of buildings. Uniforms of NYPD and FDNY officers were everywhere. Conspiracy theorists peddled their DVDs and pamphlets, marching in the street. Buddhist monks chanted for peace. A man was shouting that the end of the world is at hand, sinners beware. Jetliners, safe and sound on their way somewhere, roared overhead, making us all uneasy. Tourists splashed their hotel maps with tears. Mourners inserted flowers and taped photos of their loves ones to the fences, only to fall to the sidewalk in anguish. The names continued.

10:29. A final moment of silence for the collapse of the North Tower. The names continued.

Somewhere around noon, the names ended and a chorus of trumpets erupted in Taps. In eerie stillness for a gathering this large, the crowd dispersed, slowing seeking out the subways that would return them to work, to sightseeing, to a home or office of contemplation.

As usual, after class tonight around 10 p.m., someone suggested stopping at a pub for a pint or two. Usually I’d take them up on the offer, but not this night. I wanted to return to Ground Zero where, for tonight only, the “Tribute in Lights” had been resurrected.

I didn’t go alone. No one had any pints. Ten or so of us gathered at the World Trade Center, gapped at the twin, blinding shafts of light so high they seems to pierce heaven itself, and traded stories about where we found ourselves on that horrible day.

It seemed fitting that my day began and ended at the same place, awash in the same emotions.

Five years ago tonight, I stood before the Pentagon and watched it belch flames into the night’s sky. Tonight, I stood before lights of a very different kind.

It was a day of pain, it was a day of hope, it was a day in which I felt I was that much closer to realizing that, as Mayor Bloomburg said this morning, it was I and not my wound that would endure.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Dirty Rotten Muslims

Recently a non-American friend sent me some pictures of Muslim protests held earlier this year. They were sent without any commentary whatsoever and so I do not know the depth of her opinions on this matter. Indeed, the pictures were part of a forwarded e-mail that she was simply passing on. I've always known her to be a balanced and even-keeled individual and I've no reason to doubt that now.

The images are legitimately terrifying. They were taken in February during a London protest by Muslims angry over the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad in Scandinavian periodicals. One cartoon showed Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban. Another depicted him telling dead suicide bombers that he has run out of virgins with which to reward them. For Islam, any portrayal of Muhammad is idolatry and therefore blasphemous. For their part, the Europeans thumbed their noses at concerned Muslims and fell back on freedom of speech.

In these images, some of which I show here, Muslim protesters carry placards denouncing the West, championing an Islamic overthrow of Europe and, in fact, calling for the destruction of all who stand in their way.

Doubtless, whoever originally started these series of pictures on their way through cyberspace wanted to expose Islam's decidedly barbaric nature.

Whoever they are, they have a point. I'm sure these images constitute the feelings of the overwhelming amount of Muslims the world over. Obviously Islam is reprehensible and truly barbarous, a hateful, murderous and insidious religion.

Nothing at all like Christianity which preaches love, forgiveness, grace and mercy.

Ut In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus