Sunday, August 26, 2007

New Job

Most of you out there already know this, but recently I started a new job. As of August 1st, I am the Registrar for the Duke Divinity School. I went to seminary and graduated from Duke, so it is extra special for me to have the opportunity to return there to serve. I see my job as making sure students graduate. I handle all of the behind the scenes stuff that allows students to register for classes, transfer credits in from other schools, and check to make sure they meet all of the requirements necessary to graduate.

So far I am really enjoying my job because it combines two things that I love. A large part of the job is administrative, and I love administrative work when it serves a noble purpose. In this case, I care very much about this administrative work because my behind the scenes work goes a long way to ensure future Christian leaders are being academically formed. The other part of the job is working with people. I work very closely with students, faculty, and Duke University administrators. Some of the most interesting people in the world work and study at Duke, so it is a privilege to be a part of such a diverse collection of talented individuals.

I think my favorite part of the job is signing Enrollment Verification letters. Quite often students will come to me to verify their enrollment and send a letter stating so to insurance companies, church denominations, banks, etc. I love signing my name and then taking out this huge piece of metal that stamps the official Duke seal on the letter. For some reason, I get a kick out of it every time.

It is the little things in life that amuse me...

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Last week Laura and I spent some time in Iowa visiting friends and family. We flew into Omaha, Nebraska and rented a car we affectionately referred to as a "roller skate" (it was a 2007 Chevy Aveo). We drove to my parents place in Ankeny, Iowa (by Des Moines) and had a blast hanging out with the family. We went to a water park and Adventureland. My little sis got engaged, so at one point the women went shopping for wedding dresses while the men got poison ivy playing disc golf. I miss seeing my family on a regular basis, so I definitely cherished the time I spent with them.

After a few days we "skated" up to Sioux Center, Iowa to have a triforce reunion. My buddy Tony was recently called to serve as a pastor in that area, and we were visiting for the first time. Highlights of that trip included a surprise birthday party for Angie, playing darts and washers, and eating at the Pizza Ranch. Of course, the best part of the trip was meeting Stevie for the first time. I love being an Uncle and it was really meaningful to interact with him.

All in all, I think we traveled close to 3500 miles in six days. I only wish those scientist would speed up the development of that whole teleportation thing!
The Triforce & Stevie

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Myth of a Christian Nation

"The Myth of a Christian Nation" by Gregory Boyd is a book that did a good job of coherently presenting a lot of random thoughts that have been rolling around my head for the past few years. Basically, the main thrust of the book was to destroy the myth that the way to revolutionize the world for God is by taking over the kingdom of this world. It is a somewhat popular thought right now (although it is waning) that many of the problems in our nation and even the world could be solved if we got the right "Christian" leaders in positions of power. However, this was never Jesus' plan while he was here on earth and he talked about the creation of a new kind of kingdom. In fact, one of the temptations Christ had to overcome before he began his ministry was the lure of worldly power.

Instead, Christ came to institute a new kind of kingdom. A kingdom that is all about transforming love and not coercive power. One theme that Boyd touched on over and over was contrasting the idea of "power over" versus "power under." It is a myth to believe that the best way to gain power is through force, but Christ demonstrated a new kind of power, a power that comes under others. Christ, even though he was God, did not consider equality with God as something that should be grasped by humans. Instead, he emptied himself and loved others by being a servant. That is the type of power that will change and transform the world.

The book also briefly touched on this common conception that the Founding Fathers of America were Christian and set this nation up to be a Christian nation. Many people tend to idealize our past and think that we need to return to the golden age when our nation was purely "Christian." However, this has never been true and American history has been stained with war, oppression, and violence from the very beginning. This truth was especially fresh on my mind have recently read Howard Zinn's history of America.

All in all, I thought it was a pretty good book. I would definitely recommend reading it if you are looking for an alternative way to think about what Christians should be doing in America.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


"1984" by George Orwell is a fascinating and well written novel. It imagines a world where the government seeks to control every aspect of society, including one's own thoughts. The novel follows the story of Winston, a mid-level government employee who eventually rebels by starting a love affair. The government monitors almost every aspect of people's lives, and it uses fear as a means of control. The reason why the government seeks absolute power and control is that it is seen as a means for immortality. If the government achieves complete control over humanity, it will last forever. This book also introduces and describes the concept of "Big Brother," where the government monitors every move of its citizens.

This book is certainly not for the faint of heart as it is quite graphic at points. Orwell does an amazing job of describing human nature and the struggle to stamp out the human desire for love and beauty. The book may also be a little prophetic, as our own government is seeking new ways of control in order to maintain peace and prosperity. I certainly do not think that our government or any government will resort to the measures used by the theoretical government in 1984, but it is important to remember that societies will never be able to survive by seeking absolute power and control, and that governments who attempt to do so will only create pain, suffering, and death. The divine spark simply cannot be stamped out of the human race through means of coercion.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Mayer Concert

On Tuesday night, Laura and I went to a concert at Walnut Creek in Raleigh. It featured John Mayer, but also included James Morrison and Ben Fold. First of all, the concept of a concert was really fascinating to me. I was blown away that thousands of people would pay $25 - $150 to hear a guy sing ballads about his broken relationships.

I guess it helps to be a ridiculously talented musician. Great musicians was what made this a great concert. All three were really good. Ben Fold played the piano in a way that I had never seen before. I always liked John Mayer, but it was not until I saw him live that I understood and appreciated what an amazing musician he is. I know just enough about play the guitar to recognize when someone is really good, and he is insanely good.

I definitely recommend catching this tour if you get the chance.