Monday, February 28, 2011

February Flood

the week prior brought two winter snow storms. with 8+ inches on the ground, the rising temperatures Sunday night saw most of the snow melt away.
then a torrential downpour and thunderstorm brought 2 inches of rain per hour.

louisville, ohio was subsequently flooded on many sides.
©2011 tim beck

Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Review: The Know-It-All

The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the WorldThe Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

it may have taken me 3 months of casual reading, but i am finally completed A.J. Jacobs 400 page The Know It All. it's about his trek through the entire Encyclopedia Britannica; every volume, every word.

Jacobs' witty writing style is entertaining, to say the least.

i also enjoyed Jacobs' book The Year of Living Biblically.

this is a nice book, probably not the kind of book that will bring non-stop reading, but it is worth the time, even if it takes you three months.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Review: Out of Babylon

Out of BabylonOut of Babylon by Walter Brueggemann

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

how does empire fit with faith in God? this book dives deep into the old testament (and i mean deep), particularly with the apparent constant struggle with those who empowered their will and rule over them. For many years God's people spent time in exile - in captivity - courtesy of the Babylonians. The Babylonian empire displaced the Israelites.

Walter Brueggemann explores this struggle and draws comparisons to 21st century christians living in the midst of the American empire.

i won't lie, this book is heady. Brueggemann is heady. i probably missed some of the main points of the book. they probably went way over my head.

i still liked the book - but i wished i would have enjoyed it more.

i was drawn to the book because i am drawn to the Old Testament stories of when the Israelite were in captivity - in exile - particularly the story found in Jeremiah 29. God gives them interesting instructions (vs. 1-14), often missed by Christians who focus on the popular Jer. 29:11 passage.

i am also drawn to the commentary on how christians aught to live in the midst of the current empire of which we reside: America.

i get frustrated that too many christians appear to follow political parties and/or the constitution OVER the Word of God. i was hoping that this book might shed light on that.

Brueggemann subtly discusses and brings to light comparisons from OT empires to current, modern day western empires. I wish it would have spent more time on the present. maybe it did and i missed it.

over all, there are a few chapters that make this book worth reading (the first and last chapters were phenomenal). perhaps you'll get more from the middle parts than i did.

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Monday, February 07, 2011

what if there were no sports?

[thoughts after watching my team, the Pittsburgh Steelers lose Super Bowl XLV last nite]

it's not to say that watching and/or rooting for one's favorite competitive sports team isn't stressful. it is, or it can be. but not stressful in the same way that sticking to a budget is stressful or driving on icy roads is stressful.
but competitive sports - at any level - certainly will bring pressure beyond measure to one's life - and i'm only speaking from a spectators perspective.

but if i were to think about how much time i've spent watching and rooting for my favorite teams - it would no doubt boggle my mind. much of that time was spent enjoying the sport and enjoying the moment. but when it all comes to the end - something else generally rears it's ugly head: a hard truth that competitive sport will inevitably bring... disappointment.

the biggest challenge to Joe Spectator is that no matter what, only one team wins. which means almost everyone, at some point, will be let down.

let down.

there are 32 teams in NFL. only one wins the Super Bowl. that leaves 31 teams and fans disappointed. some are so used to the disappointment that they wallow in it (hello, Cleveland Browns fans?)

there are 119 Division 1 collegiate football programs. only one wins the national championship. that leaves the majority of the people disappointed. more so because some might argue there is no equality when it comes to getting to the national title game, let alone winning it.

Baseball has 30 professional teams - but at least disappointed fans can revel in rooting against the Yankees. so we've got that going for us. which is nice.

oh the dismay of sports. it happens on every level. ever been to a soccer game for 7 and 8 year olds? listen to the parents on the sidelines and you'd think it was the World Cup (minus the Vuvuzelas).

why do we do this to ourselves? we are crazy for sports... it rules us. it kills us. sometimes almost literally. i remember 5 years ago when the Steelers made an improbable run to the Super Bowl. During the divisional playoff game against Indianapolis, with the Steelers up by 3 points, Jerome Bettis attempted to run in for a game-clinching touchdown (that would put Pittsburgh up by 10 points) when the ball was knocked away and fumbled. the Colts picked it up and nearly ran it 99 yards the other way for what would have been their game winning score. When the fumble occurred, some guy in Pittsburgh, watching on his bar stool at his favorite watering hole, fell to the floor and nearly died of a heart attack.

Sports kills us. heck, even the first marathon runner died after completing his task.

and although most people don't literally die after seeing their team lose - it does seem to take a little piece of our soul away. no matter what, the losers experience... loss. so in that way, it is kind of like a death to a part of our self.

but then the cycle begins a new. we wake up and we wake up and after a few days or even weeks of 'mourning' we sports fans rise up - ready to embrace the next challenge or the next season of competitive recreation. as the old adage goes: "there's always next year!"

and then next year comes... and disappointment comes... and we are let down all over again.

but at the heart of every sports fan is something special. something no one can take away... HOPE. hope for the future. hope for our team.

and as long as there's hope, there's a chance.

"so you're telling me there's a chance..... YEAH!"

and that is what makes sports beautiful. and that is what makes us keep watching and rooting. because you never know when your team might just make it and win it all. or maybe it's self-deprecating and we really just love the pain.

i don't know. ask me in a few days or weeks. by then i'll be thinking about next year.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

lost journal entry: rooted in love

[journal entry from january 2010 - some of which was inspired while reading Forgotten God by Francis Chan]

(left side) holy spirit.
help me to see you. understand you. feel you. be empowered by you. pray to you. recognize you. remember you. love you. invite you. long for you. realize you.

the Holy Spirit: a gift from God.

(right side) rooted in love.
analogy of the H.S.
before the Holy Spirit, the ground is dirty, full of sludge. the Holy Spirit rains down and infiltrates the soil.
mixes with our waste, our manure.
the rain brings regeneration... fueling an unstoppable life force.
takes the tree from 'mere existence' to 'true, full life'.
new life is the result. (john 3:5-8)
("you can't change the fruit without changing the root")

underneath the surface, the roots 'drink up' and the Spirit flows.
as a result, the Spirit flows through - gives new life to the tree and brings green leaves.
what once just existed - is now living in color.
the Spirit gives life. (John 6:63)
the Spirit flows, mixes with the roots, flows into and mixes with the life blood; the heart.

the heart filters the Spirit of God through our roots (veins) which leads to an outward sign of life (green leaves/pure joy); an outward sign of Love.

[this journal entry inspired me to create the following video. the image i drew was inspired by a painting by Paige Medlock titled 'open heart surgery']

description of the above film
(so called) artist::tim beck
time lapse photographer::jen beck

this was our 1st attempt @ any sort of time lapse photography.
used Canon 7D - bulb 25 - 100 iso (i think)

we had some trouble with over-exposure - but this was our 1st attempt.

drawing was inspired and based on the painting 'open heart surgery' by paige medlock

i titled this 'Rooted in love'.
symbolism: where we are planted depends on what kind of fruit we will produce.
the holy spirit rains down upon us... giving life to our tree of life. the roots connect to the heart. the holy spirit's power, comfort and guidance infiltrates the roots or veins that go to the heart. the heart then pumps out a life blood that produces productive, vital, "life-to-the-full" fruit.

that fruit is love - and it can't help but manifest itself in us. the Holy Spirit pumps the love of Christ through our veins and gives us the ability to love God and love people.