• Community,  Theology

    Social Justice, or social mercy?

    I’ve recently been bothered by the term “social justice” as it relates to Christian cultures. Don’t get me wrong – the actions that come from social justice: feeding the hungry, helping the needy, caring for the widows and etcetera are all basic fundamentals of Christianity. Jesus himself commanded us to do these things! But according to the apostle Paul. “Mercy triumphs over justice” (James 2:13). So if Paul was correct, shouldn’t we, as Christians, be concentrating on social mercy instead of social justice? Maybe its just a matter of semantics, but maybe not. Consider the following: Mercy implies lenience and compassion. Justice, however, implies retribution not based on compassion, but…

  • Music

    The Top 5 albums of 2008 that aren’t getting the attention they deserve.

    One of my favorite things about this time of year is sifting through everybody’s top 5, 10, 25, and etcetera lists. A particular favorite category is that of the years top albums. This year has produced an excessive amount of great music -so much that I’ve been having a hard time making a list of my own. But while sifting through everyone else’s lists, I’ve found several albums missing that deserve a lot more credit then what they got this year. Most of my picks are mentioned on some lists, if you dig enough, but their merit is somehow forgotten. So, without any further wait, here is my top 5…

  • Comics and Graphic Novels,  Movies and Film

    The Dark Night Joker…

    With all due respect to the late Heath ledger, I was not all that impressed with the Joker in “The Dark Night.” Why? Well, let me say this…why so serious Joker? Ok, let’s look at the Joker in TDK. He was real. He was very real. He could be the escape convict that lives down the street. So, why is this a bad timing? I mean, isn’t the Joker supposed to be real? The answer is simple: Yes and No. The Joker is supposed to be very real, yet surreal at the same time. While the Joker in TDK did a great job of the former, they forgot the latter.…

  • Coffee

    What happened to Starbucks?

    I’ve been thinking about how back in the day Starbucks was the best coffee one could buy. I lived on the stuff myself. Now its a bit substandard compared to a myriad of less bitter, less over roasted coffees. So what the hell happened? Well, it was a combination of two things: 1) Starbucks has expanded dramatically! According to seattlepi.com, starbucks has grown from just over a thousand stores in 1997 to over 16,000 stores in 2007. With all mass-produced products, there is always a drop in quality control, and Starbucks is no exception. Point in case, the automated coffee makers they installed circa 2000. As someone who was, at…

  • Music

    A quick word about Albums, Audio Files, and Itunes

    Tonight I am listening to the new Iron and Wine album, “The Shepard’s Dog” for the very first time. Its absolutely incredible (would I be writing about it if it wasn’t?). I could go on and on about it, but I’m only four tracks into it. But I do want to talk about something; about a folly of music files, and the possible death of a standard album practice. Track 3 “The Shepard’s dog” fades into track 4 – so its impossible to know where track 3 ends and track 4 begins. Nothing new mind you, its been done for decades. In fact, its pretty much a standard on album…

  • Music

    In Rainbows does not blow…

    There’s good news and bad news about the new Radiohead album, “In Rainbows.” The bad news is its not as good as “Ok Computer;” The good news is its not as bad as “Hail To the Thief” or Thom’s solo album. If it had been as bad as the two latter mentioned albums, I might have to refer to it as “In Rainblows.” In all seriousness, I like it -which is saying a lot considering the expectations I put on a band like Radiohead. They seem to be the type of band that is full of potential, but sometimes sinks to the lowest and/or laziest common  denominator. So when they…

  • Comics and Graphic Novels

    Iron Man must die!

    Iron man must die! Or at least be thrown into the depths of the Universe – fitting punishment considering that’s exactly what he did to The Hulk. Serioulsy though! I am mad at the execs, writers, editors, and everyone else at Marvel Comics. Granted, I have yet to read World War Hulk, so I’m only dealing with the aftermath of Civil War, but to praise outright facism! I’m sorry, this is just plain WRONG! I suspect there’s a method to their madness, but that method might be make Iron Man one of the major heros because the Iron man movie just happens to be coming out in what, six months?…

  • Music

    Portable Music: Quality vs Convenience

    Its interesting how the trends in music mediums go back and forth between quality and convenience. Vinyl, for instance, was (is) a great format – especially if you have the right equipment (12+ band equalizers, decent speakers, et al). Pretty nice quality, but totally inconvenient, especially if you wanted to take your music with you. After vinyl’s hay day, we had 8 tracks, and then cassette tapes. Both formats were convenience, but left much to be desired when it came to sound quality. Then came CDs. CDs were / are wonderful quality, and even a bit convenient, though they do tend to skip and they like to develop nasty scratches.So…

  • Music

    An open letter to Bono…

    Dear Bono, Before I go on with this letter, I want to tell you how much I respect you. You have deep convictions on what you feel is right – and you don’t back down from those convictions. Once more, you use your position as someone in the limelight to further your positions on social justice. You don’t even take political sides. Republican, Democrat, Conservative, Liberal…it doesn’t seem to matter to you. You just want to get things done. Again, I respect you – immensely. Having said all that – I’m a bit frustrated as a fan. I have been listening to U2 for seventeen years now – longer than…

  • Music

    Berbatti’s Pan – then and now

    My first experience with Berbatti’s Pan was maybe five years ago. I won tickets to a show (featuring the now late Eliot Smith), and couldn’t find anyone to go with me. It creaped me out that I would have to go by myself – I had never been to a 21 and over venue. I chickened out at the door, and walked away – thus blowing my chance to see probably one great show. A year or two later, my now favorite band, Over the Rhine, was playing at Berbatti’s. I decided to throw caution to the wind, and went for it. It was everything I expected it to be,…