A Nice New Feature of iOS 8

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You can change keyboards! I’m using SwiftKey, which is the smartest swipe keyboard for iOS. And it works pretty well, especially when you get used to the predictive aspects of it.

In fact, I’m typing with it now. Trying to type blog posts on my iPhone has always been a huge hassle, but SwiftKey makes it easier, at least for most things. Long words are harder; I have to pick them out letter by letter (which is how I typed everything until about half an hour ago.)

So there you go.

Chapel Sermon Thoughts

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Today in DCC Chapel, Abel Lopez is preaching about singleness of heart: “Obey with enthusiasm, as though serving the Lord and not people.”

Rich Mullins quoted Kierkegaard re the beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart.” Mullins says, “To be pure in heart is to love just one thing.” ONE THING.

This connects with the great commandment: “Love the Lord your God with everything you’ve got: heart, soul, mind, strength.” Loving God is supposed to be the wire, the framework, that gives shape to all our affections & desires & loyalties & fears.

Is there ANY one thing that I love, above everything? I don’t know that there is; I spread my affections & attention thin. I love my wife & kids & school & church, and I love my Lord & his Word.

But too often, the one thing I love, that my world revolves around, is myself & my own comfort & whims.

Prayer

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Lord, the week lies ahead of me.  All that I will do, I dedicate to you.

There are students and professors that I can serve.  People who are upset or stressed or overwhelmed, whose hostility and frustration levels are off the charts.  Lord, use me to bring them calm and help them refocus on the opportunities and tasks you have for them.

Be present with me.  Speak through me.


A new week begins.

I have the good fortune of being in a job where I mostly control my schedule.  I have deadlines, etc., but only a handful that I have no control over, and I can shape the timing of how I meet most of those.

The way I generally set up my calendar is that I have big meetings on Thursdays and Fridays.  That gives me whole weeks to push toward and prepare for my big meetings, my big deadlines.

The way I think of it: I like having Mondays to get my head together, to plan and think about the week.  And I like having my weekends to unpack and think through what happened with the big meetings on Fridays.

So: a new week begins.  One of my direct reports has a big deadline today, and I’m deeply involved in getting that proposal ready.  But mostly, today is about big projects that DON’T have immanent deadlines.  Today is about planning and getting ready for Tuesday – Thursday, which tend to be heavy on the interaction.

Moderate Islam? Toward a Litmus Test

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Since the terror attacks in New York & Washington on September 11, 2001, we have been told repeatedly that Islam is a religion of peace. We have been told that the terrorists who attacked us on that day, and those of the same ilk who have attacked US & Western interests & allies since that time, are not representatives of true Islam, but participants in a perverse, twisted version of that great religion.

I want to believe this, I truly do.  But I’m starting to have doubts.

A historical analogy: In the mid 20th century, there were Southern whites who hated what the Ku Klux Klan did.  They hated the lynchings and bloodshed. But did they want to see segregation end, or equal rights for all races?  Did they want this outcome badly enough to act upon it, to take risks in furthering its cause?

They did not. This is the group that Martin Luther King Jr. takes to task in his Letter from Birmingham Jail. They opposed to the methods of violent segregationists, but passively accepted the segregationists’ goals.  Moderation equalled acquiescence.

I fear that the moderate Muslims we have been told to picture, waiting around the world to support the forces of pluralism and liberal democracy from the West, are in the end the same group that Dr. King took to task in Letter.

I fear that these moderate Muslims oppose ISIS and Al Qaeda, not because they disagree with the goals of a worldwide caliphate or support religious pluralism and the right of the individual to religious self determination, but because they don’t like the means the militant groups employ.  

Televised beheadings & suicide bombings are repugnant to them, to be sure. But so is a cafe advertising bacon on its sandwiches, or newspapers visually portraying Mohammed, or speech that insults Islam, or daughters that shame their families by dressing Western, or family members who leave Islam and convert to another religion. To quote Paul Harvey: “It is NOT one world.”

Maybe I’m wrong. I’d love to be wrong.

Can Islam be part of a pluralistic society, where the ideal is for all religions to be protected or not protected equally?

I think it can. 

Assuming it’s people want it to. 

I just fear that they don’t. Not enough of them, anyway. Please convince me otherwise. 

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This past week, the great Jonah Goldberg wrote something like this: “Isn’t it time we quit trying to convince Muslims that the majority of them are moderate, and let the majority of Muslims convince us of how moderate they are?”

To that end, I offer the following set up affirmations. Perhaps these (or a similar set of affirmations) could serve as a litmus test for determining whether a Muslim is truly moderate.

A moderate Muslim should affirm that:

1. The intentional, direct killing of non-combatants is categorically unjustifiable & unacceptable.

2. The use of human shields to “protect” (or propagandize, post-retaliation) weapons, mortar sites, launch sites, ammo dumps, etc., is categorically unjustifiable & unacceptable.

3. National & local governments should be pluralistic, not favoring or protecting any one religious group over another. 

4. Laws cannot penalize, by imprisonment or confiscation, or the threat thereof, any religious group for its existence or for differing from the majority. 

5. Individuals have the inalienable right to choose their own religion, including converting away from the religion of their family & upbringing, without fear of legal repercussions. Government will use its power to protect this right.

Chess

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I started playing chess when I was in 1st grade. For years, it was one of the things my dad & I did together.

I’m a fairly intelligent person, but I’ve never been a good chess player. I enjoy the game, and I’ve tried to improve over the years–books, puzzles emailed to me, etc. But I don’t improve. My tendency when I’m thinking deeply is to develop tunnel vision and focus single-mindedly on what I’m doing. That’s good when I’m working on a theology paper or accreditation report. It’s not so good when I need analyze a complicated set of circumstances, like on a chessboard.

It’s really a broad intellectual habit. I’m great at tunnel vision, deep focus. I’m not nearly so good at seeing all the factors & possible outcomes of a given situation, thinking ahead.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought an iPhone app that trains the user in chess tactics. Maybe it will help me learn to see circumstances & possibilities. Maybe I’ll get better at planning ahead.

Prayer

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Caffeine & Ryan Adams aren’t enough this morning.

I need some clarity; I feel like I’m reading & writing through a fog.

God, brush away the cobwebs.  Send your breeze, your pneuma, like a dry-line through my mind, moving out the clouds and haze and bringing in cool, dry, clear, fresh air.

By your Spirit, let me see and say what is accurate, true, and needed.