Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Change, please.

I had the privilege of talking with the author Donald Miller earlier this summer after he spoke at a conference I attended in Atlanta, Georgia.
Author of several books including "Blue Like Jazz" which sold over a million copies in the U.S. and appeared on the NY Times bestseller list over 45 times. This particular event was hosted by a group called "Orange" and was dedicated to youth, their education, and the furthering education of their leaders and organizations.
One of the things Don Miller said in his introduction about his life was that growing up fatherless, often angry and without direction, he was first told he should write "almost in passing, by someone that I had silently truly admired." This seemingly random statement wasn't in fact, random. It was carefully thought-out and intentionally expressed to him as a young man because this older man who would later prove to be very, very influential in his life wanted to call out and encourage a very specific gift in Don's life. God used that comment to awaken in Don a passion he never knew existed, and he began writing, writing, writing.
As I listened to Don speak, my mind whirred, soared through valleys and over mountains of ideas, young men I could encourage, people who had done this for me, and my thoughts were the equivalent of absolute haywire.
However, none of the above is the direction that I'm going in now. As the months passed, so did the vibrant colors and bright hues of the statement Mr. Miller had shared with me--but the statement itself has remained rooted firmly in my heart.

On our way back from spending an afternoon lunch of chili, cornbread and Christmas cookies with my lovely girlfriend's grandparents, she and one of two friends crashed out in the passenger and back seat of the huge, comfortable Oldsmobile during the 45 minute drive back to campus. It was just before finals week, and the effects of day upon day of cramming had taken it's toll, they were out. The second of my beautiful girls' other friends and I quietly talked most of the way home. Both of us quite verbal, it was no problem at all filling the miles and the minutes with topic after topic. God, school, our relationships, the future, where we were from, and cultural differences and other current events in our lives. Lightly we flew over every topic, conversationally sharing but not diving too deep into any one subject. When I asked her about what her fiancé was interested in doing after he graduated from school with his Undergrad degree in Cinematography, she said
"you know what I'd really like? It would be amazing to do documentaries that expose social injustices. I would love to do that for the rest of my life. I would write them, he could film them, and we would make a difference."
Her heart was to serve, love, and make a change. But taking this one part of what ended up to be a much more involved conversation aside, something...falls short.


What intrinsic value is there in telling a true story about something horrible happening to evoke a response or reaction if there is no change to come from it?
An injustice being exposed holds no value. "Raising awareness" of something very wrong does nothing--to have knowledge of a subject only brings worth to the person receiving the information. It furthers nothing with the topic or situation.
A hundred thousand people can know about child prostitution and the person who exposed it has still not accomplished anything or done a good of any kind.


Hawaii no longer sells bananas agriculturally anywhere in the United States other than in it's own State. The fruit now is imported from "mainly developing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as in Asia and Africa. (http://www.unctad.org/infocomm/anglais/banana/market.htm)"
Let's project a social injustice on this fact for the sole purpose of giving an example.
You are writing an agricultural column on bananas, and while visiting a plantation in Thailand, you uncover the truth that it is a standard practice in Thailand to hire children to pick the bananas for fourteen hours a day and pay them only seven cents an hour, which is 3% of what could be considered a cultural minimum wage for that country.
To return home and write a story on the child labor that features pictures of their scarred, bloody hands, malnutrition and horrible living conditions would bring to those children no value. It is instead allowing their misfortune and their stories to become an article on a website, a brief insignificant blip in history.
In a few months or a year, maybe even that same reporter who wrote the original piece on them will eat a banana that came from that same plantation.
So what changed?

American companies contract with individual wholesalers overseas to purchase and re-sell their merchandise-- whatever it may be -- here in the States. The purchaser is not forced to buy the bananas picked from the children in Thailand's bloodied hands (which is again, a projected injustice. I have never heard of this happening, and if it does is merely coincidental) we choose to. Our corporations that do the buying and selling of imported goods from places where there are not minimum wage laws, child labor laws, worker safety laws, working condition laws, or places where they exist but are not enforced, can impose them and demand that on the contingency of being purchased, those standards be upheld.
Is it financially wise to make a demand of that severity on the provider of your products? Probably not. Is it ethical? There ARE such things as business ethics, occasionally grey or paradoxical though they may be, they do exist (contrary to popular belief and publication).
What about the consumer, blindly swiping left and right, choosing daily and sometimes hourly between credit and debit, avoiding labels and never glancing twice. With the sheer staggering numbers of imported goods we unknowingly purchase thousands of a year, to research and know the origin of each would be futile.
So what then? What is a realistic solution to an epidemic of blindness that affects nearly every person with an income and purchasing power of any kind, personal or business-related.
There, lying static, inert and lifeless beside the problem, is the solution.
Business ethics.
Creating a documentary to show an injustice does nothing for the now publicized but still just as wrong, wrong. The wrong is no less wrong now that more people are "aware" of it.
In fact, juxtaposing that truth, the wrong if anything else just becomes MORE wrong as the public realizes the origin of their product but does nothing and continues to purchase it which in turn, supports and enables that same injustice. Ethics.
A grey, subjective term, it's application to business is lost in the exchange of dollars and cents, stock options, quotas and somewhere in there the separation of church and state plays a big role: faith is left waiting at home while you go to work.
The ethics of making a decision to enable a wrong to continue are never removed when ignored. Companies have the option to illuminate and bring to the table non-business-related issues and make them a part of their business. Suddenly importing shoes from a manufacturer that uses child labor overseas becomes an issue. The pay scale of workers starts to matter. Change can happen.
Jesus never left the workplace, he hasn't abandoned business ethics, and is still holds the only true defining, deciding truth behind what a "moral" is.
We are not called to bring to light every international evil carried out, but if we do feel led to serve someone by telling their story, highlighting a social injustice, or hold someone/something accountable for a wrong being committed, ask yourself this: what change will come of my sharing of this?
What am I willing to do differently because of this? Is Jesus asking me to become involved and a part of making a difference for these people that I see being hurt or taken advantage of? If none of the above apply, then ask yourself...why tell the story?
How is it different from entertainment?
The heart.
This doesn't mean taking it to the extreme "don't tell any stories unless you can or are willing to do something about it." It does mean to evaluate what you say and why you say it. Too often we lose the value in a story because it becomes the ambient filler of space and time, and our senses of wrong are dulled as we are barraged with emotions and no home for them.

Donald Miller's life was changed because someone followed the lead of the Holy Spirit and became involved in his life.
Don's life was changed.
Change did not happen to Don when someone told their family at home about a kid at school with no Dad who wrote so well but didn't know it, or when they blogged about how they admired Don's writing even though he had a rough family life.

Tell stories, tell stories, tell stories. But don't cry wolf and allow them to cushion your conscience as "I can't do anything about that" becomes a standard lifestyle response.

What CAN you do something about?
What has God called you to become a part of changing?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Unconsciously Filing Away

On a campus of about twelve-hundred undergrad students, he was very likely one of the most aggressive personalities to attend classes. He was just under six feet tall, weighed easily two hundred and sixty pounds, and constantly flipped his hair sideways across his head while he talked--which was often. "Hi there! I don't think I know you. Are you Ricky's brother?"
I smiled. Yes, this time I was. It's nice being recognized that way.
"I could definitely tell. First time I saw you I was like 'ooh' because there was no way you WEREN'T his brother. You two look so very much alike, you could be twins." The words were a highway of speeding tickets and twelve-car pile-ups. Speaking as rapidly as he could, often his words stuttered, bumped into each other, and swelled, tossed by the furious tempest and whirlwind of a mind that tossed his sentences too and fro. Ryan often made eye contact while he spoke, eager, earnest and sincerely seeking affirmation.

"Yep! We've been brothers for twenty years now, it's time we finally got along I think."

"Oh yes, yes, yes. I'm not surprised, you see, Ricky is one of my very good friends here on campus. 'Ryan' he says, 'you are a very easy person to get along with'. And he means it. He definitely means it. I love Ricky. How is that guy? I haven't seen him in so long, we're both so busy...you know. I have two majors and a minor. I used to have three then I dropped one because of health reasons. How is he? How's Ricky?"

Standing there listening to Ryan, I amusedly noticed that he was as close to a grown-up, real-life Piglet as I've ever seen. Belly all tucked in a too-small shirt, words tumbling every which way, and just as sweet as can be, Ryan reminded me so much of the Pooh cartoon character.

"Ricky's good, he's been really busy getting ready for finals."

"Oh, that's good. That's real real good. You know, I am too. My parents sat me down when I graduated high school and said 'Ryan, we want you to get the very best education possible, so we're sending you to JBU. You know, I never would have thought I'd get to come here, but look at me. Here I am, studying for finals. Yes. Yes, yes, yes. My Mom works in a factory down South of here two, almost three hours, my Dad worked at the same place and that's where they met, of course now that he's retired on disability he's been at home ever since, and here I am about to get my degree in May. It's good James, isn't it? It's real, real good.

Ryan was hungry. From the moment we first met until now, I hadn't realized it but he was hungry--hungry for the same exact things I was, the same thing everyone was, but he was actively, honestly and blatantly looking for it.
Humanity is hungry.
We are hungry for affection, hungry for others to know our stories, hungry to share ourselves, be approved, liked, and loved. Ryan simply asked me for it. I'm sure he could be categorized under a psychological evaluation as having Asperger's, or an autism spectrum disorder of some kind, and it would probably be true. But while we were talking I realized that many, many of the things that Ryan said to me or asked of me in that interaction were things I ask silently of my friends, my family, and most people. Ryan and I were in so many ways identical, and yet because he didn't hide it or even seemingly try to hide many of his needs in his social life, it was astonishing how quickly I attempted to put him in box.

1 Timothy 4:16 "Keep a close watch on how you le and your teaching. Stay true to what is right for your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you."

In a moment of admonishment and startling realization, when I thought I was "reaching out to" Ryan by spending time with him I was in fact making myself into someone I wasn't. His awkward, fast way of talking was who God had made him to be, but it wasn't so different when he asked for my approval. It was a verbalization of what I have done so. many. times.
I look forward to the next time we get to hang out, and maybe I'll get to learn some more from him.

"Did you know that most police officers who have had to deal with a crisis of some kind with there job have experienced varying levels of PTSD? The a-type personalities that are recruited often to fill the roles of those positions tend to stuff their feelings down inside and just try to 'tough it out' when in fact it's been shown that even just three one-hour counseling sessions would dynamically reduce the divorce and domestic violence rate in the country's police force by over thirty percent in the first year?"
Didn't know that.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Early Start

I walked by the family at the front of the store and subconsciously slowed my step, curious to see what would happen.
Three young children, all varying ages under seven were vying for the attention of their parents and getting nowhere fast. As I got closer it was apparent they'd been ignored for some time, and were getting desperate. Finally the oldest, a boy about five or six, ran up to the cart, jumped up on the side, and straining over the edge of the basket, grabbed a gallon of apple juice and threw it onto the ground.
The DVD kiosk was close by, so I stopped in front of it entirely unwilling to miss out on the events that were unfolding before me. What happened next was astonishing. The boy quickly followed the gallon of juice to the floor and laid down on the big square tiling, his head right next to the purchase. When his Dad leaned over to pick up the juice his son sat up, wrapped his arms around his father's neck and said in his little southern accent "Dad, I need to tell you something. Dana needs a diaper change." The Dad stood up and peeled his son's arms from around him and said "don't you throw anything on the ground or you'll get smacked. Mom'll change her in the car" and he put the juice back in the cart.
Over and over the kids had tried to get their parents' attention. Something was wrong. In their little minds, there were really important matters at hand, an emergency even. But who they were, their size, the usual noise volume they kept at had drowned out the importance of their problems, and completely understandably so. Then, in a moment of brilliance the oldest child did something extreme that he knew would first, get his father's attention, and second, bring his Dad down literally to his level forcing him to have to interact with his son and hear what he had to say, important to him or not.
The son set aside the risk of punishment for what he did because he was looking for the results of his actions, not the cost. He put his toddler sister's needs before himself, laid on the floor, and did what was necessary to make sure she would be taken care of, because in his young mind, he couldn't be certain.
Standing there at the 99 cents a night film rental kiosk, I watched one of the most vivid, astonishing and aggressive displays of leadership I've seen in a long time come from someone four times younger than I am.
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

becoming accustomed

I fell asleep the other night only to awake a few hours later--something was crawling on my shoulder. I sat up a little and a spider dashed frantically from my right shoulder, across my bare chest, and off into the heapy pile of sheets I generally sleep next to. Needless to say, I was quite awake. I turned on the lights, stepped on several legos (yes I have legos) and tossed the sheets around a little. If the tiny demon had a heart it was racing as he fled across the bed and leapt...right into my trash can. Triumphant I immediately then and there, took out the trash. 
Having moved rather quickly with barely any notice (just about a month) from Denver to Arkanasas, I find myself approaching old nemeses.
Hello, bad attitude and poor outlook on life. Haven't seen you two in such a blatant, bright light in quite a while.
Who is that at my door but the old feelings of depression and occasional loneliness? I've kept you from visiting me just by sheer busyness these last few years. I thought we'd ended things more permanent than this...
Self-doubt and insecurity? Why are you here?
And the list goes on.
Yeah, why ARE you here?

Arkansas has more spiders than Colorado. While this is an unscientifically founded statement, it sure as heck is true for me. At home in Denver, I'd seen only maybe a dozen spiders over the past few years concluding with the one that ran across me in the middle of the night. Here in Arkansas...nightly I see them every time I set foot outside. There are loads of them during the day scurrying around underfoot and along walls or curb sides, and even more at night. I guess they love to bask in both sunlight and moon glow. It's a little disturbing I guess. But now I'm more used to them. Last night I was talking to my sweet Jessa on the phone and I found myself absentmindedly watching four of them tackle each other, long writhing, spindly legs poking every which way jerkily.
In Denver, a spider was something that caught my attention. I woke up during the night knowing something wasn't right, and it wasn't. There was an intruder, an eight-legged problem that needed to be solved.
Here in Arkansas, I live with them. Maybe it's the lower altitude, the warmer weather, or more friendly humid climate. But they're here, they're everywhere, and it's normal.
What bothered me last night was that many times more of a bigger, uglier, grosser breed of spider was playing in front of me and I was alright with it. The one in Denver was smaller but still pretty big, and it scared the righteous daylight out of me.
I have become okay with living around so many spiders.
And I don't like that.

J.I. Packer wrote "Sin invades the switched-off mind. Jesus said in John 8:12, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" As I address these things invading the privacy of my world and my mind, I do not ever want to be okay with them. The creeping feeling of eight-legged depression, selfishness, pessimism, self-doubt and so on...I want to never just watch them play on the wall beside me. It isn't about where I live, that's secondary. The world is full of places that have tons of spiders and also have none. I will travel and live where there are plenty or few, and I will live in plenty or few myself. It's about the struggle, and about my decisions.

The average age of a full-term newborn is approximately 7.5 lbs. I've had the opportunity to work with babies  that have only reached 30-31 weeks in the womb. The tiny ones that weigh almost nothing, cannot breathe or eat on their own, and have the tiniest little tubes coming out from their bodies. They simply do not have the bodily coordination to breathe or swallow yet. Heart wrenching, breath-taking, and amazing, it is a physical manifestation in the most literal sense of the "miracle of life." It was over a year ago that I got to work with them and their anxious, hoping, and more than dedicated parents, but something that has stuck with me since then is that those children were fighting. Every day, moment-by-moment, the tiniest human beings on earth fought for the chance to live. We are built with that sense in us from conception, the drive to live and survive.
It makes what I go through each day pale in comparison. It is that encouragement that I found recently.
I was not created a "defeated" person with problems so inset in me that I can be considered just a series of failures. No, I was created with a purpose, created lost so I could be found, and with failures that bring me back to my knees and back to who Jesus is.
Psalms 36: 1-2 warns of what I could be "an oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: there is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin."
God, please help me to always hate the things in my life that directly go against what you want for me. To never get used to them in my life and make it a normal thing that they bring me down, like I deserve it. Help me be like the neonatal infant baby who doesn't ever stop fighting and doesn't know otherwise. I don't want to eat or breathe on my own.

Hebrews 3: 13 says "Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness and become accustomed to the spiders."

Psalms 32:8 "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you."

Monday, October 4, 2010


The Captain leaned back against the door frame and he began to explain."I had to leave my job as a Nurse for the prison. I couldn't do it anymore."
My mind leaped ahead as I thought "sure. The prisoners were cold, violent and lied all the time. I can understand that." That wasn't it. What he said would haunt me for a long, long time.

"One day I had a patient kill another patient." The room grew absolutely silent--the Captain was being sincere and vulnerable with us.

"One of my patients told the other one that he was going to kill him. The patient begged and begged the guards to keep him away saying "please, please don't let him in the medical ward. He's going to kill me. He said he's going to kill me." The man came in anyway through the hall that leads to the medical ward which comes right from out there in the yard. You have to be searched to get in, but somehow the man was able to bring in a ten-pound weight and homemade knife. "

The Captain then proceeded to quietly describe the relentlessly cruel, cold, and indisputably most brutally violent murder I'd ever heard of in my life.

"The only way he could have brought that weight in was if one of the guards had let him. That's when I realized that in the future I might one day make someone mad by not giving them a med they ask for and they could just come in and kill me. So I quit my job. But that wasn't what I couldn't reconcile.
The man who killed my patient had consecutive life sentences--he wasn't set to be released until the year three thousand thirty-five. My patient, the one he killed, was an outspoken child molester who was in prison for the fifth time and set to be released in a week. He had told the man "when I get out I'm going to find the first seven year old boy I can and--." That man killed him because he didn't want my patient to ever be released from prison.  "

I sat in silence. This story the Captain told, it had no conclusion. It was...a behemoth that devoured soullessly. Where was the redemption in what happened? Was that justice was served to the man who deserved it? That both men were in the prison system? Did the guards pay the man to carry out the unspeakably horrific act?
I couldn't--I couldn't understand this.

Here was a problem so huge it cannot be fixed. The justice system, Federal employees, murder, evil...it all was too much.
Saturday night I drove. I drove and drove and drove. My mind dogged the subject, at once both exhausted tirelessly. What was the answer? Was there one?
And slowly, slowly the shattered glass began to reflect light.

Everyone on earth knows of The Problem. The problem of humanity, the problem of pain, the problems of evil and sin. Whether or not they choose to believe in how and why these things are or take place, is up to them. Wealthy and starving, Christian or atheist, the world knows it's not perfect.
What was it that Jesus did in a world with so much hurt?
He reached out to individual people. The forgotten, the well-off, the prostitutes, those ready to believe and those who were about to stone in righteous anger. Jesus began his work at a very young age by teaching in the Synagogue, by doing the miracles of the water into wine and by healing the sick or the blind. Jesus healed not by abolishing blindness, but by spitting in the mud and wiping it on a man's eyes.
Jesus, the Holy Spirit, God the Father, they changed humanity by changing hearts.
On an individual basis.

This problem of a man who brutally murders another man, the guard who allowed it to happen, the victim who lived a sick, twisted life and desired to do unspeakable evils, this problem is not unsolvable. There is a fix. And it begins by hearts that are changed. The prisons, the judicial system and every other area of the world that is so apparently fallen can be changed by individuals who reach out and change hearts. By following the guidance of the Holy Spirit and sharing Jesus with them. The guard, the prisoner, the murderer and the evil man...each one of them needed the same thing.
And it's the same thing I need.
It's by grace alone I wasn't the guard, killer, or child molester. That is what each one of those men and the whole system needs. The grace of Jesus. I have been given a gift that every person on earth needs.
My purpose in life is about sharing that gift and serving the One who gave it to me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thinking deep on a drive.

The other day while I was driving and I started thinking about the people in life I respect the most.
Why do I admire them so much? What was it about them I appreciated so much that made them stand out from all the rest of the people I know?
Then I began thinking of who in life has had the greatest influence on me. People that I have wanted to emulate, be like, copy--even become. Why did I want to become them? Had I?

Humility. Of the traits I found myself both admiring and desiring to imitate in my own life, what stood out to me was that many of the people I loved so much are humble. What does that even mean? 
"God created the world out of nothing, and as long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us." -Martin Luther

Luke 22:26 says "The greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves."
This verse might as well have never left the original language it was written in. It has for the last twenty-two years of my life had absolutely no bearing on my life whatsoever. I'm sure every time I've ever read or heard that verse spoken it has had little or no weight on my heart. Now I look at it and wonder, how do you live like that?
How can I, a naturally selfish person who out of impulse looks for the shortest line, changes lanes frequently and ends prayers quickly because I'm hungry even BEGIN to understand what this means?
Luke 5:8 Peter cries out "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man" which is how I've lived my entire life.

It is the fullness of the Spirit that makes me take in Christ and live as if He is in my life. Not anything I do.
Andrew Murray writes, "...the reality is that external teaching and personal effort are powerless to conquer pride or create the meek and lowly heart in a person."
Jesus came as a man not to be served, but to serve. That is key. The connection I am beginning to realize is that it is not through my own empowerment I am redeemed, but through riding the wake of Christ that I begin to realize what humility truly means.
I have been given a tremendous gift of grace, a learning curve in life that allows me to pursue relentlessly becoming exactly it is that Jesus has for me to be. Unlike drag racing, I do not have a straight line I need to adhere to, but instead the freedom of the law to live in. I can chase after becoming a godly man and discovering what it is God has for me without worry that I'm going to mess things up or fall short. 
It isn't about the end goal, it's about the journey. It's about following Him moment by moment. 

James 4:6 says "God opposes the proud." This directly affects and deals with me, as I am by nature of my humanity, prideful. But this is not a stand alone statement. "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." And it is there I must live. 
I suck at the daily tasks of submission. Serving, praying, thinking about holy things, these things don't come naturally to me. But God delights in me, His child, somehow anyway. I am promised this, told this, shown this, and time and time again reminded that it isn't about me. It isn't about me. 
It isn't about me.
It's to the glory of God.
Donald English says in his book The Message of Mark, "At the source of all Christian service in the world is the crucified and risen Lord who died to liberate us into such service." Our service then, my service, is not what brings about humility. It is the act following the submission of my heart to His, recognizing that I am not deserving of any pride. None.
I cannot serve my way out of this prideful hole my life so often exists in. 
Instead, I need to recognize my position as recipient to a huge kingdom, my place being to serve that kingdom and in as many ways as possible, effectively communicate the love and sacrifice that Jesus is to our hurting world.

What I have admired most in the people I respect are their humility, how effectively they communicate, how often they choose to serve, and their love they have for others.
These things come from a perfect Savior who promises the same to me. I can become what I see and long for.
It starts with the decision to realize with humility that I have been given much; many opportunities to serve, many chances to love, and more than both combined to live the way Jesus has asked me to.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Making Progress

I read this article in the New York Times today and found it really encouraging.

"Craigslist, by shutting off its “adult services” section and slapping a “censored” label in its place, may be engaging in a high-stakes stunt to influence public opinion, some analysts say.
Since blocking access to the ads as theLabor Day weekend began — and suspending a revenue stream that could bring in an estimated $44 million this year — Craigslist has refused to discuss its motivations. But using the word “censored” suggests that the increasingly combative company is trying to draw attention to its fight with state attorneys general over sex ads and to issues of free speech on the Internet.

The law has been on Craigslist’s side. The federal Communications Decency Act protects Web sites against liability for what their users post on the sites. And last year, the efforts of attorneys general were stymied when a federal judge blocked South Carolina’s attorney general from prosecuting Craigslist executives for listings that resulted in prostitution arrests.
“It certainly appears to be a statement about how they feel about being judged in the court of public opinion,” said Thomas R. Burke, a First Amendment lawyer at Davis Wright Tremaine who specializes in Internet law and does not work for Craigslist. “It’s certainly the law that they’re not liable for it, but it’s another matter if the attorneys general are saying change your ways.”
Attorneys general and advocacy groups have continued to pressure the company to remove the “adult services” section. A letter from 17 state attorneys general dated Aug. 24 demanded that Craigslist close the section, contending that it helped facilitate prostitution and the trafficking of women and children.
The “adult services” section of Craigslist was still blocked in the United States on Sunday evening. “Sorry, no statement,” Susan MacTavish Best, Craigslist’s spokeswoman, wrote on Sunday in response to an e-mail message.
Analysts said that if the block was a temporary statement of protest, it could backfire because of the avalanche of news coverage that the site had received for taking down the ads.
“I’m very convinced that this is permanent, even if it was not their intention to make it permanent,” said Peter M. Zollman, founding principal of the Advanced Interactive Media Group, a consulting firm that follows Craigslist closely. “I think it will be difficult, if not impossible, for them to go back and reopen that section without really running into a buzzsaw of negative publicity and reaction.”
Attorneys general in several states said they had so far been unable to get any information from Craigslist.
“If this announcement is a stunt or a ploy, it will only redouble our determination to pursue this issue with Craigslist, because they would be in a sense be thumbing their nose at the public interest,” Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut attorney general who has headed the campaign against Craigslist, said in an interview by phone on Sunday.
Mr. Blumenthal said Craigslist’s outside lawyer had been in touch with his office, but that the lawyer had not clarified whether the shutdown of the section was permanent, or said when Craigslist might make a statement.
Even though courts have said that Craigslist is protected under federal law, Mr. Blumenthal said part of his mission was to rally public support to change federal law.
“Raising public awareness is extraordinarily important, because it increases support for changes in the law that will hold them accountable,” he said. “Their view of the law, which is blanket immunity for every site on the Internet, never has been upheld by theUnited States Supreme Court, and I think there is some serious doubt.”
Richard Cordray, the Ohio attorney general, said in an interview by phone on Sunday: “We’re taking it at face value. I think it’s a step forward, maybe grudging, in response to the efforts of the attorneys general.”
But Lisa Madigan, the attorney general of Illinois, was more skeptical about Craigslist’s intentions. “Certainly because of the way they did it,” she said, “it leaves an open question as to whether this is truly the end of adult services on Craigslist or if this is just a continuing battle.”"

Friday, September 3, 2010


There are many, many things I would do in life before I'd say on paper that God isn't real.
Anything, for that matter.
That's probably the single most terrifying thing to me I can possibly imagine doing, ever.
It's my greatest fear.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Random thoughts...this is a blog, right?

Today was such a Saturday. I woke up and shared the kitchen with three other guys as we sleepily staggered around bumping into cabinets and fumbling through drawers looking for ever-elusive forks, making breakfast, and figuring out what was happening on our respective schedules for the day. It reminded me how thankful I am to live with four good friends, and how richly God has blessed my life.
The morning turned into a warm afternoon, and the search online for a new washer/dryer continued.
"What about this one that's four hundred?"
"That's really more than I wanted to put in towards one, even if it was quite a bit nicer."
"I know, but this one is more green."
"Look, if you want green let's go with the two-hundred dollar one and I'll buy a five dollar can of paint and make it green."
"Did you get an email back yet?"
"No, that means it's probably gone right?"
"Yep. I bought it and I'll put it downstairs and none of you can use it."
"You're a jerk."
"You wanted a green one."

And so on. It wasn't that much different than the banter I heard from the five little girls I babysat for a housechurch meeting that evening.
"Okay, in this one then you're a bear."
"And then since you're the bear we all have to run around and you chase us."
"And then since you're a bear, we can escape by hiding under the blanket, and that means we stand in the middle."
"So we're all running, and you're chasing us."
"And then that's a safe base right there."

The beautiful slow ending of summer, a warm evening and home-made dinner of sausage gumbo and rice. Jason, Andy, Ryan and I spent several hours talking about Da Vinci and what a brilliant man he was, stood around the computer and "oohed" and "aahed" over his artwork, and speculated about how AWESOME the weapons he had imagined and drawn out for us to get excited about.

It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
      -Leonardo Da Vinci

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I went belly up.

That's right, I've officially given in.
I tweet.
It's not like that's what'll do me in or anything though. I'm sure the sinus arrhythmia will get me first.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Featured Article

I read an article in the magazine "Time" today that listed their rather disappointing list of top ten things "kids these days will never experience." Here is what they listed.

Camera Film
Landline Phones
Real Books
Being Lost
Music Videos on MTV
The Glory Days of Nick at Nite
Tan M&M's
Arnold Schwarzeneggar, the Terminator

Now if you're anything like me (i.e. human) you looked at the above list and thought "huh?" And while an editorial piece that starts with "the top ten things" is just that, a perspective or opinion...COME ON. Really? Tan M&M's? YOU CAN'T TASTE THE COLORS. And why did Arnold Shwartzy make the list with his Terminator movie? This is a list for kids! Oh, and that's right, I went there. That doesn't stop the brown M&M's from being the least best, but that also is a matter of perspective.

I bring you with no further ado, the Authoritative List. The list that should've been but wasn't. The top ten list of (loud booming voice) NO CONTENTION!


The Top Ten Things Kids These Days Missed Out On Unless You're Willing to Bring It Back
Calvin and Hobbes. Rebellious, sarcastic, insightful, brilliant, and very much 6, this cartoon strip is the epitome of greatness in picture publishing hilarity and just all around a riotous good time.

Winding the cassette tape back in with a pencil while hoping the whole time that the music wasn't ruined, which it never was. If you haven't had to do this then..I don't really know. I don't know why this is significant or important, but it's definitely important for some reason. Maybe so your Donut Man songs could be played and danced to over and over again.

Barney. Love him or hate him, this disgusting and vile contemptible influence of feigned innocence is nonetheless one of the most famed characters of all time to be subjected to fake or pre-meditated killings. Every child knew how they would kill Barney.

Sesame Street. Not Elmo's World. The real show, the one that portrayed adult personalities like all-around angry individuals that were green and hairy, elephant-sized downers, clueless birds that walked around all the time doing not much in particular, aggressively happy small red people, always hungry individuals that were ruled by their sweet tooth, two men who lived together as just friends and sang together often, and interracial informational musicals that obviously pre-dated Dr. Laura's comments.

Walkie-talkies. Their inherent joy is entirely lost on a generation of cell phone users that are in on a family package that includes their own data plan and smart phone beginning at age 7. "But we want to know where our little Craig Bumblebutt is all the time, and this way I can reach him!" Nice. Hence the dead, lifeless stare when I explain "look Craig! Now you can go across the street into the neighbors' yard that has the pitbull and I can stay here in the living room and we can talk to each other! That's what these are for!"

Roller Blades. I'm not exactly sure where they went, when they disappeared, or how come they still aren't one of the most awesome ideas on the planet. They even work really well. Was it the seven minutes they took to put on or take off? Or was it the exponentially worse feet smell you assaulted the world with then they finally came off? Did too many people die in roller blades? Were they finally banned from being used in public by the United States government? We don't know. But they're gone. And the nineties hair styles are coming back without the footwear to accompany them, and it sucks.

Legos. While you may argue pointlessly that "they are still very popular" or that kids these days "DO PLAY WITH LEGOS" you are very, very wrong. While still very much present, they are only alive in spirit. Legos themselves are dead. The Lego sets you buy in the store are what I affectionately call the "Michael Eisner" version of the toy. The core pieces are still barely present, but the prices are more expensive somehow. Whole Star Wars sets of battleships and speeder bikes now come with a grand total of about...twelve pieces. There are so many different kinds of lego pieces now it's difficult to find blocks and squares i.e. "I need a six-long, I'll trade you for my four-long or a chair, which is really rare" is very much dead. Here's to you real Legos. Kids don't realize how much MORE fun it was back in the day. And if you don't know who Michael Eisner is, you're probably not agreeing with or understanding any part of this list.

Easy-Bake Ovens. The only thing easy about them was that they were easily the worst idea ever concieved. Complicated, dangerous, expensive and poorly marketed, these violations of all children's rights in America were around for a long time...AND YOU CAN STILL BUY THEM. Why. Why? WHY? They have made the top ten list because thankfully today's children don't know what they are, but please keep it that way. It's a good thing kids today missed out and continue to miss out on them.
Blisters on Your Left Thumb. Unless you somehow have preserved a Nintendo 64 for the last eight hundred years, it's very, very difficult to get a blister on your left thumb any other way than the hours of laughter and joy that the gameplay provided.  

Pogs. Because playing for keeps when you're not allowed to isn't as fun with anything else on earth


If any of the above you truly, truly miss, don't worry. They're not completely gone. Montana still thinks most of the above is so great and has caches and volumes upon volumes of everything that used to be awesome.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010


It's a beautiful day here in Colorado. Just exactly the kind of day that makes you wish you were outside hiking in the mountains with several close friends, admiring the view occasionally, but mostly watching where you step to make sure you don't trip on a squirrel or tourist. Colorado hosts a unique culture, one fraught with differences and smoothed over with a healthy layer of tolerance frosting.
Content to silently disagree with most of it's residents, the State will likely be a "swing state" for many years to come. It matters here what you think, it matters that you vote, and it matters if you think you don't need to stop at a stop sign. This isn't California, you can't get away with that very much here. Once, sure. Twice, probably. Three times, no surprise. But into the four's, five's and sixes...you're tossing the dice in Vegas.
If you live in Colorado you know all about but don't actually go to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, therefore it's novelty is preserved. The gourmet, classy, creative and original candy shoppe is to tell family about and take them there when they visit. Along the way you can point out to them any one of our hundreds of Cannabis "Pharmacies", Colorado's "little grass shacks" that dot the landscape conveniently, springing up like...mushrooms after a rain. Hm...ironic.
Jean shorts will never go out of fashion, nor will khaki cargo shorts or pants with zips at the knees. They are no longer in style, but never did nor will go out of style, if you can wrap your mind around that concept. A paradox, yes, but it works. If you wear glasses you wear black, plastic rimmed ones, and you ride your bike to-and-from college with a book bag that you wear across your chest and to the side. The city of Castle Rock essentially doesn't exist unless you're traveling there that day, then when you get home it fades from memory again. Sitting uncomfortably in the middle, Denver in the North and Colorado Springs in the South do everything better than Castle Rock, and that's where mostly everyone lives.
We are passionate about our current events, but are open to most other opinions. We argue politics gently and listen well, smiling a lot. It doesn't necessarily mean you're right, but we're definitely not California. Or New York, for that matter. We want you to be able to afford to live here, so there is a house in your price range in an area you prefer. Every time. Every band comes to our state so New Mexico, Phoenix, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Nevada don't have to host as often. Nebraska can and does host all their own bands though. If you don't or haven't lived in Colorado you have either very close family friends or relatives that live here. Currently. We love our Broncos, but just as many people turn out to support the Red Sox as they do the Rockies when we play each other here at home. If you like another football team and live in Colorado, that's fine. You still have to love John Elway though, that's non-negotiable.
If you have a college degree but aren't using it or don't know what to do with it, come to Colorado. Our Starbucks will hire you, as will our Home Depot, mega churches, hotels and grocery stores. You can live with the other students from your school you know that live here and have a house together, and if you like you can go back to school pretty easily. During the summer it rains, during the fall it freezes over, during the spring it gets chilly and during the winter, summer peeks through randomly to keep that bicycle close to your front door. Our October 31st through early April is when it snows, and our weather is kindly tempered by warm days, our snow leaves just as quickly as it came, not turning to poop colored debris for more than a week at the longest. We're not New York.
Come any day of the year close to or far from election time and you'll still be offered a petition by equaling numbers of left and right "ists." Sign which ever one you want, but don't scream at them. Don't worry about a drive-by shooting. We don't say "hella" here. Our traffic doesn't really ever stop, although it does slow often. We get angry and flip birds but don't carry shotguns under our seats. We have hundreds of parks, overall good customer service and almost no lakes. Our desert is far away, which is how we prefer it, and the smog is kept to a minimum. We have no ocean, we have mountains. Get a jeep instead of a boat, they're cheaper.
We'll give you directions to where you need to go and Colorado people love the outdoors.
We're not California.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

To my younger sister.

Dear Sister,

So you've decided to pursue a career in the medical career. I chose the word "career" for several reasons. First of all, the word "job" implies that you simply do that position to earn an income to support yourself and/or a family. The word "career" suggests much more commitment often involving much more schooling or education to achieve your goals, and generally tends to mean you aren't setting yourself up to get to a specific position. A "job" tends to have a set definition, whereas a "career" means more of a field of experience and expertise you will work in. As a PA, when someone asks you someday what that means you do, you'll smile and more than likely start listing various services you provide. Not because that's all you do. Far from it. You will say that because its easiest to understand, and it will encourage the other person to decide whether or not they want to converse further or just leave it at that. In fact ironically, as a PA your job will be pretty much the opposite as you explain to people, but culturally its the most appropriate response to a question so simply put and direct as you will so often get. I say its the opposite because you are simply saying you do those things to help them understand those are the tasks you most often complete, but that is not what a PA a does. As I'm sure you've seen with Mr. Tery, being a PA changes. Often. It is not a safe or secure job. Tery does not wake up prepared for the events that will occur and the patients he'll see each day, he instead wakes up mentally prepared to use the education, experiences and past knowledge he's received from training and reading to deal with whatever situations or patients he sees. There is no preparation, whether in a clinic or hospital. There is preparation for procedures, education preparation for your patients and what they can possibly expect, but not preparation for your day.
More often than not Dianne, your career as a PA will not be exciting. It is however, challenging. Instead of prepared, Mr. Tery is several very important things. He is comfortable, honest, educated, cautious, intuitive, sensitive, empathetic and wise.
Wise is last because it is acquired, not obtained. He had to work hard for years to become wise. Comfortable is first because as a PA his patients decide in the first three seconds of meeting him whether or not they are safe with him. In three seconds every person chooses to trust him or not, so he must be comfortable with them at all times, whether or not he is.
Next he is honest because after his patients have spent any amount of time with him, they know he is. Some PA's are more talented at this than others, use humor or identifying with their patients, but that bears no effect on whether or not they are honest. Comfortable or not, patients must know you're being honest. Tery has received not only the required education he needs, but so far beyond that it can't be measured. The varying degrees he has prove on paper he has completed the necessary classes and testing to be recognized for those positions, but they are only that. As he will earnestly tell you, he's "always learning." The hundreds of thousands of hours he has spent in surgery listening intently to the other nurses and surgeons, listening to conferences, attending classes, reading, looking at images, questioning his own conclusions and attentively listening to his patients cannot be measured. The best PA's in any setting are cautious. Not tentative, not reserved, not any similar word. They are cautious. Waiting in and of itself is only occasionally valuable. It is the protective and intentional aspects of waiting that carry the highest percentage of worth. Often time is inconsequential as a PA Dianne. It's inconsequential because you simply don't HAVE it. Time is working against you, you've got none left, or it is worsening your choices as the seconds pass. But caution, doing the most important things first, always keeping your patient's life, health, and comfort (in order) prioritized, doing what may mean hours of more work, dozens of pages of documentation or what is less than ideal, is what's needed. Your choices, wrong or right, will eventually one way or another disappear. If your patient lives they will always remember and wear your decisions, so doing what is best for them is what is most important.
Intuition follows after caution and always should. As a PA your choices should be affirmed by your intuition because you have the knowledge and experience to know instinctively what's right before you think about it, not the other way around. The knowledge and experience come first, before that they're just guesses that might or might not be right, and a patient should never trust that. Nor should you.
And Tery stands head and shoulders above each of those who wear his title in his field of expertise or peer group because he is empathetic. Not only are his patients almost always comfortable and trust him regardless of what he tells them, the procedures he performs, or how much pain they experience; with each one he chooses to leave his place of safety and identify with what they're going through, their insecurities and fears, and help hold them up. Dianne, empathizing is one of the most taxing, tiring and draining things a person can do. At the end of the day you alone have in a way gone through the same things they have. Not physically, but mentally and emotionally. You come home and have to take all of it off, and learn how to process through each thing while lumping it all together. It sounds weird, but for PA's who choose to empathize with their patients, that's what they have to do.
So at this point I'm sure your head is spinning. It's a lot, I know! Some of this you'll learn in PA school. The majority of it you do naturally, which is one of the most exciting things about watching you move forward in this direction, and the last let's say...34% is why I wrote this letter to you. It's both the most difficult aspects of being a PA you'll ever experience and the part that makes Tery Hursch stand out as the best PA I've ever met. His ability to choose daily to serve others at cost to himself has come from a lifetime of tough decision-making. To figure out what it takes to invest your life into what you're passionate about while still keeping it your passion each morning will never be easy. Life, what you do itself, coworkers, the difficulties of education and learning...everything tears at your passion.
Family, a loving husband, friends...are nothing compared to what happens when you realize your passion means sometimes watching someone you took care of die. Or participating in an abortion to save a Mother's life. Or having to be the one to walk into a room and tell a shaking, trembling seventy year-old man that his cancer results when he's still so in love with the tear-stained little bent-over woman who clings to his arm. There is no need to keep going because the experiences others have had do not define you. You and how you decide to handle your experiences define you. You can learn about all the drugs in the world and what they do, but until you meet your first patient who has used cocaine the entire time their husband was deployed overseas, it won't mean anything.
This is where I have several really, really important thing I want you to think about Dianne. Who do you want to come home to if you drive home crying? There are an unlimited number of nice men in this world, but to find a man who knows how to listen to your body language, set himself and all others aside to come alongside you every time, and a man who chooses to love you in a way that only loving God passionately could create, that is a man worth Dianne. One I might not kill. Is he willing to admit he was wrong? Be attentive to your needs and try to learn when you need space, how to handle when you yell in frustration or don't want to go to bed because tomorrow will be so tough? Those are things that will affect your effectiveness. Life is a challenge.
What about this whole passions thing? What really is a passion? I could look it up, but instead how about you figure out what your passion means. What it means to be passionate about people who don't want you to tell them what you have to. What being passionate means when you have to take a class you're terrified you can't pass. What your passion means when it hurts your family because you can't be with them. What your passion means when you watch a newborn baby take its first lungful of air on this planet. What your passion means when someone brings their beautiful three year-old son back to say a shy thank you, and there's tears in his Mother's eyes. What your passion means when you watch a person walk out with both limbs when you thought they'd never walk again.
No matter what you figure out, what you see, what you learn about your passion Dianne, some things will never change.
The light in your eyes when you get to serve someone is literally a picture of Jesus' face to those of us watching. The special gift you have of being sensitive to who you're helping is something God gave you to bring glory to Him. The sweet spirit you choose to have infects other people's lives in a way that makes MRSA jealous. The potential you have to brighten a room with your beautiful, sincere smile is unlike anything most people have ever seen. And your heart--passionate, fragile and delicate--is made strong through the unlimited, matchless love of Jesus alone.

Don't ever, ever stop fighting to be who God has called you Dianne. Find people who will encourage you to be more like Jesus. Choose every single day who you want to be. And if your oldest brother ever has kids, pay their way through college.
Proverbs 31:29-31
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
Love you Dianne.

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Friday, August 6, 2010

A Spectator

This afternoon I finished my last summer session final, stepped outside, put in my headphones and walked to the light rail. I ended up taking a phone call and couldn't hear very well with all the stop announcements, so I just hopped off at 16th Street downtown and figured I'd walk to 18th and catch the next one there.
It was gorgeous, the perfect day for that. My middle sister's infectious cheery and bright voice melted the recent all-nighter and load of information over the past few days off into the limitless blue sky, and when she said goodbye, hanging up, my phone gently switched to resuming the music I was listening to earlier.
When I walked up to the station at 18th, I glanced around, surprised that most people around me were dressed in suits and ties or formal clothing of some kind. Then I remembered. t
I was in the really expensive part of the district where the buildings weren't just tall, they were new, and where the government court houses had decided to park permanently their broad-shouldered masses covering entire blocks. I smiled politely at the twelve or so people standing around waiting for the F to take them away from downtown, away from work, and home to their beautiful houses.
I ride the D. No one in a suit rides the D line light rail.
As I stood listening to the lead singer croon in my ear lyrics he'd written that doubtlessly meant the world to him, I watched as the city passed by in front of me. Then the city approached me.
"Excuse me" he said quietly, and pushed past me, opening the lid of the trash can I was leaning lightly on absentmindedly. He was in his early thirties and heavily tattooed, although most of them were indistinguishable they were so faded. Filthy blond hair that grew unkempt and ragged mirrored the condition of his clothes, but none of them hid or detracted from the brightness of his piercing, hard blue eyes. Entirely focused and intent on retrieving something salvagable for a meal, he completely ignored the disgust and embarassed faces of the middle-class group standing around him, watching. Just watching.
I will never forget what I saw in them.
It was enraging, I was furious. The moment I became angry at them I realized I was as guilty as they. Quietly I put down my stone that in my mind I was ready to hurl at every one of them. The man who fought for every meal and didn't ask a group of people with a lot of money for a single thing continued to lift pizza boxes, foam containers, plastic bags and empty soda cans out of the way to see if anything might be palatable.
The music in my ears slowly faded away as my mind roared, and before I knew it I was getting off at 25th and Welton. What good were a few poptarts? He'd inherited what I happened to not have eaten for breakfast. If I had gotten hungry this morning, he would've gotten nothing.
I would have been like every one of them, just standing, watching. Would I have put my hand on his shoulder as I walked onto the light rail if I hadn't just given him something? I don't know.
I wasn't wearing a suit and don't ride the F line home, but are we really that different?
There will always be the poor...but God I don't want to be someone who just stands there and watches such blatant hunger.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Convenient, affordable shopping

It’s Friday afternoon. There are about a dozen people coming over to your home for your child’s birthday party. You have most of the things you need, but you’re out of paper plates, plastic cups, you could use a few more sodas and you’d like to pick up one more little something for your son. He’s turning three today, and he’s just now taking on that “little man” side, on his way out the door from his little toddler world whether he knows it or not. Your other two daughters are nine and seven, and are full of personality, lots of their Mother’s side, and argue about sharing a room and play together in decidedly equal portions.
The Costco you usually shop at is about thirty minutes away, and they usually only offer one or two items of any given kind that you might be looking for, and if you find it, inevitably it will be in packages the come by the dozens. By far the best option is a “Super Walmart” that is just about two miles from your home. You hop in your vehicle and drive the short distance in several minutes, park, and go inside. You find your plates, cups, and pick out a brightly colorful Nerf football for your son. It’s time. He needs to start learning to throw.

On your way to go pay, you carefully avoid the black-walled, cordoned off section of the store titled “Adult Services.” You have read that in this area of the store are advertisements, pictures, and contact information for hiring an “escort” service that ranges from $50 for a half hour, to $450 for an hour.  Any gender, race, age or size is available to choose from. The supermarket is able to offer you much cheaper prices on your plates, cups and Nerf ball, due to offering the “thinly disguised advertising for prostitutes” in their “Adult Services” section which brings in a sum total of 30% of their profit annually (1).

When you get home you will find out that the police are attempting to crack down on the amount of child prostitution that occurs in the black walls, but it’s difficult as their ability to filter what happens behind them is limited. The store’s stance is seemingly firm. They require anyone using the “Adult Services” section to immediately report suspicious advertising inside to a national tip-line run by the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They have also released statements explaining that they filter out and manually screen any “Adult Services” ads and will reject any that make it “look and sound” as if you’re selling sex (2). But this is not the case. You have also read commentaries, blogs, and critics reviews saying that it is simply not true, and they’re right.
Today, in your town, where you live, are posted pictures of barely clothed women with only their faces obscured, and the words advertising their services state
“I still have my CHEERLEADER outfit - w4m” The end of her ad clearly states “no freebies!” meaning you will have to pay to enjoy the benefits of her and her outfit.
“UNBELIEVABLE time, UNBELIEVABLE beauty -w4m” Her ad clearly states that she costs $150 per hour, or $110 for a half-hour. (3)

“For 2010, its ‘adult services’ revenue will be three times the revenue it generated in that category in 2009.” is in the statement released by the Classified Intelligence Report on April 30th, 2010. Your plates, cups, Dr. Pepper and Nerf football in the back seat of your mini-van that gets 26 miles per gallon, you head home. You’re a Christian with an accountability partner, someone you’re completely honest with that helps encourage you in your walk with Christ and keep you faithful to your wife, two beautiful daughters, and son. You didn’t go into that section of the store, you didn’t look at any of their advertisements. You love your family and wouldn’t do that to them. But it’s definitely the best place to find the groceries and basic family life-upkeep items you’re looking for quickly and cheaply. Besides, with that small, black section of the store indiscreetly pushed to the back and all the way on the left side, there’s no way you could “accidentally” go in there, so you’re not worried about it.

In my town, from July 27th to August 3rd--a period of seven days--there were 456 ads posted in that section of my store. Often called the online “Supermarket” of sex, during the forty-five minutes it took me to write this article Craigslist posted two more ads in their Adult Services “w4m” section, advertising unquestionably, two women who were once in their life two daughters, nine and seven. Tonight men who once turned three and learned how to throw a football will call, text, email or visit them. 
Never forget that behind each link on Craigslist that says "Adult", whether or not you click on it, are hundreds of advertisements for used PEOPLE behind them. A network in every city across America.

1. http://aimgroup.com/blog/2010/04/30/craigslist-revenue-profits-soar/
2. http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/08/03/craigslist.sex.ads/index.html?hpt=C1
3. Denver Craigslist 3 August 2010, 4:39pm

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I was forwarded a scientific article by a friend today that reported thousands of penguins have been found dead washed up on shore. The Magellan penguins migrate there annually, but usually only ten or so are found dead. Curious as to what could be causing this widespread penguinicide, several dozens or so of them were taken to a nearby lab and opened up to try and determine the cause of their deaths. In each penguin's stomach, they found the same thing: nothing. The poor flightless birds had starved to death. I will miss each one of them personally as they are my favorite animals on earth and have been such since I my earliest memories.
Here's to you little guys. I hope the scientists figure out what happened to ya and fix all the problems that made you all die.
And now I know. There aren't always more fish in the sea I guess.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Growing Simulation

When most days one of our temporary housemates "Brett" spent eighteen hours or more in his room, I decided to research the topic and try to understand it more, as I was literally astonished at the potency and results of his addiction.

“Two percent of gamers [in the Netherlands] are addicted.” This statement comes from the Dutch Daily News in an article quoting researcher Jeroen Lemmons of the University of Amsterdam. Lemmons worked with 851 students for six months researching online and video gaming addictions. (dutchdailynews.com)
Of the online “Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games” or MMORPG’s that are available, World of Warcraft (WoW) is by a significant amount the largest network of players in the world with a total number of subscriptions amounting to over 10 million . Keep in mind “subscription” is a highly qualified term, as a “subscriber” is defined by the game creator company Blizzard as “those who have paid a subscription fee, or are using an active prepaid card, as well as those who have purchased the game and are within their free month of access.

Internet game room players who have accessed the game within the last thirty days are also counted as subscribers, but players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or canceled subscriptions and expired prepaid cards are excluded.” (www.joystiq.com)
With it’s current subscriber base, Blizzard and it’s parent companies will be paid just over $2 billion a year from the players who totaled together now amount to more than half of Australia’s population. With 2 million subscribers in a Europe, 2.5 million in North America, and 5.5 million in Asia, the WoW players added together total more than the world’s ten largest armies added together.

A “Trace Summary” of gameplay done from December, 2005 to October, 2007 (4 days) observing 34,521 accounts concluded that 75% of gamers play longer than 2 hours per day, and 25% play longer than 5 hours per day. The peak gameplay hours were from 9pm-1am, and “even after a long vacation [more than half a year], 20% of gamers still come back.” (Kuan-Ta Chen;http://www.iis.sinica.edu.tw/~ktchen) In the first 24 hours of it’s release, WoW registered 200,000 players who began adventuring, shattering all other MMORPG previous 1 day records. (http://www.insidemacgames.com/reviews/view.php?ID=541)

Online gameplay networking giant Steam (owned by parent company Valve) boasted massive growth in the last year. The site provides access to gamers with over a thousand games available to play each other in multiplayer mode and as of July 16th 2010, 11:58pm a total of 2,074,629 players were online challenging each other (http://store.steampowered.com/stats/).
On 29th July, 2002 Sony announced that it had over 118,000 players logged onto Everquest, another Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, simultaneously. On January 17th, 2008 the 17a Vara Federal da Seção Judiciária do Estado de Minas Gerai (Federal Court of 17th Judicial Section of the State of Minas Geraes, a Federal court in the second richest state in Brazil) ruled forbidding the game sales in the whole Brazilian territory because “the game leads the players to a loss of virtuousness and takes them into ‘heavy’ psychological conflicts, because of the game quests, that can be bad or good.” (http://jogos.uol.com.br/pc/ultnot/2008/01/18/ult182u7954.jhtm).

“Chih-Hung Ko, a neurobiologist at the Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital in Taiwan, and colleagues placed 10 WoW fans in the MRI machine, alongside 10 non-addicts, and followed their brain images while the test subjects were shown pictures of the game...such areas and regions of the brain as the right orbitofrontal cortex, the right nucleus accumbens, the bilateral anterior cingulate and medial frontal cortex, the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and the right caudate nucleus were all noticed to be activated by the pictures. These are the same portions of the cortex that activate when a drug addict fails to take his dose on time and starts withdrawal.” (news.softpedia.com)

"What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather
the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task." These words written by Viktor Frankl in his book “Man’s Search For Meaning” is what I believe to be the fundamental reason for the explosive growth in the gaming media. Appealing to man in the core of his being, online gaming deceitfully seems to answer the deep seated desire of a young man to fight for something.

“Nearly one in 10 children and teens who play video games showed signs of what could be considered addiction to games in a January 2007 Harris poll that the research is based upon.
The poll of 1,178 U.S. kids and teens (aged 8 to 18) found that 8.5% of those who played video games exhibited at least six of 11 addiction symptoms such as skipping household chores or homework to play games, poor performance on tests of homework because of playing, and playing games to escape problems...exhibiting six of 11 such symptoms can lead to being diagnosed with an addiction such as pathological gambling. The Iowa State University researchers adopted the gambling addiction criteria for its self-administered questionaire because there is no current medical diagnosis of video game addiction.
Overall, 88% of youngsters surveyed said they played video games at least occasionally.
On average, they played three or four times each week, with boys playing more often. Boys also played longer, more than 14 hours per week, while girls played more than nine hours.” (http://www.drdouglas.org/drdpdfs/Gentile_Pathological_VG_Use_2009.pdf)

On August 21st, 2009 the world’s largest international news media agency reported
“Video games might be regarded as an obsession for youngsters but in fact the average player is aged 35, often overweight, introverted and may be depressed, according to a U.S. study.
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at the behavior of 552 adults aged between 19 to 90 from the Seattle-Tacoma area.
They found 249 of these, or around 45 percent, were video-game players, with men accounting for 56 percent of these.
The researchers found that the men who played video games weighed more and used the Internet more than other men.” (New York: Reuters -http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE57K06L20090821)

“A study done by Park and Chen differentiate between MMOGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Gaming) and MUDs (Multi User Domain games such as first person shooter multiplayer arenas) and distinguish the reason behind addiction to each type of game.
They use two theories of addiction, Use and Gratification Theory and Flow Theory to explain MMOG and MUD addictions. The Use and Gratification Theory explains how people use media to get specific gratifications such as personal identity, personal relationships, and diversion. These gratification needs can stem from low self-esteen, lack of personal relationships, and dissatisfaction with life.
The Flow Theory explains the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter, totally unaware of their surroundings but enjoying the task and having fun while doing it. MUD players who are good at communicating through text and were socially awkward would be able to make friends through the network.
Alternatively, MMOG players found satisfaction in reaching goals, achieving high scores, and joining teams with the same skill level as them. Addictions to MMOGs were related to the flow experience, while addictions to MUDs were linked to social interaction and the Use and Gratification Theory.” (www.ocf.berkeley.edu)

Jerald Block, MD wrote in his August 2008 article on Pathological Computer Use (or PCU) “Current data indicates around 3% of the 174 million gamers in the USA (5.2 million) play, on average, 45 hours and buy around 2 new games each week. 
In the US, around 2 per cent of the gamers – that is, 4m[illion] people – are heavy users. They average around 40 hours a week, some playing less, some much more. One out of three gamers – 66m[illion] people – play around 20 hours each week. It is people like these who helped generate a record $18b[illion] (£9.1bn) in US sales last year.
In one study from Asia, a typical patient had more than two other diagnoses in addition to compulsive computer use.
Most patients want medication, such as a stimulant, to wake them up during the day. They do not want to change the way they use computers; they just want to sleep less and to work more efficiently.
When technology is used compulsively, it soaks up at least 10 to 12 hours a day; it redefines relationships to include virtual entities and objects, like the computer itself; it encourages processing emotion through the computer.”

The promise of online gaming is a reward it cannot deliver, as it is controversially structured in a way to require the complete attention of the user as well as often a disportionate amount of time from them.
The travesty of gaming is that it offers nothing of significance or value for the gamer’s investment beyond a simulation of both.