Good things in small packages

I know I was touched by God Incarnate this morning.  It was awesome.

Today we had a special healing service after the two usual ones at church.  There was laying on of hands, anointing with oil and some good praying and music.  I played and sang a couple chants on piano.  It was free-flowing and simple, leisurely yet concise.  It was rather unlike our usual weekly white Protestant fare, in which church is a more individual endeavor (though not nearly as personal).

Since I was playing piano, I did not go forward to be anointed with oil during the healing service, but I wanted to be anointed afterward.  Those who had helped officiate (a pastor and a few ‘Ministers of Care’) were scattered about the room,  so I turned to the closest other person, a short, cute kid certainly no more than 4 years old.  I called him over and said, “I didn’t get any oil for my head during the service.  Would you help me?”  He nodded.

I picked up one of the bowls of oil and handed it to him, kneeling down to his level.  He dipped his left index finger into the oil and slowly, deliberately traced it down my forehead – then across, in order to complete the cross.

His mom then came over and helped him say a prayer for me.  She told me he really likes church.  I told her, maybe he’ll end up getting stuck here too.  I hope someday, particularly if he does end up going into ministry, I can find him and tell him this story.

Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.”  I’ve been exploring the idea that Jesus is, among other things, an ongoing, at-any-moment manifestation of God Incarnate, one who shows up in others (and maybe even me? Whoa…) from time to time.  Today, I’m convinced that Jesus showed up personally to me and blessed me at the hands of this awesome little kid.  Thanks, Ethan!

And now, for something completely different…

While teaching kids with learning disabilities in Las Vegas, I became convinced of the tremendous power of music as a learning aid. Students who had difficulty with rote memorization seemed especially to benefit from musical mnemonic devices.

My process for teaching kids to easily compute multiplication facts is simple and twofold:

  1. Teach kids how to skip-count (count by multiples)
  2. Teach kids how to multiply using skip-counting

In order to teach my kids how to skip-count, I created several funky songs to that end.  They may be listened to, downloaded and shared freely*:  Skip-counting songs

And here is my method for teaching the songs and how to multiply using skip-counting:  Instructions (pdf)

I will periodically add more songs, so stay ‘tuned’ (Har!).

*provided you don’t turn around and sell them, etc.  Full terms of the license found here.

President Obama's Inauguration Speech

President Obama's Inauguration Speech

Made on Wordle using this transcript.

God and Election 2008, cont.

In this video, Mike Blejer offers another look at the role that God may have had in this election.  (My take can be found here.) Mike’s a friend of mine from college, and is an emerging comedian in the DC area.

The moment of victory

This video greatly captures the surprise moment as I experienced it Tuesday in downtown Chicago.  I was standing before a screen just like this.  I doubt I’ll ever forget it.

One Day More

The Gospels According to…Wordle?

Wordle is a site that enables one to create text-based art, where the size of each word is proportionate to the number of times it appears in the text.  Very cool.

Matthew:

Mark:

Luke:

John:

(Thanks, Wordle!)

Yes! Score one for the vegetarians!

This video, called Battle at Kruger, is absolutely unbelievable. I don’t have anything useful to say about it, other than that it should be viewed by everybody. This testifies to the power of one individual with a camera, in the right place at the right time.

Wise words from Barack Obama

I’ve been getting pretty irritated at Hillary Clinton lately, especially following the debate the other night, but this made me smile:

Just two more months…maybe sooner.  Cross your fingers.

Rev. Jeremiah Wright – in context

For two weeks now, the vast majority of media coverage surrounding Barack Obama’s pastor, Rev. Wright, has been a straw man of epic proportions. After combing through countless sermons in order to isolate individual phrases that might be “shocking”, the media has successfully constructed a false caricature of Rev. Wright – and we’ve been beaten over the head with it for the better part of two weeks.

Rev. Wright’s comments seemed crazy. (“God damn America!”) They seemed indefensible. (Following 9/11: “America’s chickens have come home to roost.”)

Then, only after the storm started to die down, Rev. Wright’s comments actually appeared in context:

In Isaiah and elsewhere (how about Rome??), God does indeed curse the nation who puts herself ahead of God. The injection of context to this issue makes it immediately apparent that Rev. Wright has been unfairly demonized throughout this entire process. His words are not only justifiable in context, but dead-on. It’s serious, well-founded theology – and it’s a far cry from the ugly caricature of that we’ve been spoon-fed by the media for the last two weeks.

Now, let’s turn to Rev. Wright’s comments following 9/11. He was roundly criticized for saying that “America’s chickens have come home to roost,” which was the extent of the sound byte. Here’s the full context (it’s long, but it’s glorious):

So let’s get this straight: for two weeks now, the media has been claiming that Rev. Wright has “blamed America for 9/11,” when in fact, Rev. Wright was quoting – in context – a white ambassador? And Rev. Wright gets two weeks of bad press for this???

Say it loud: the talking heads are not your friend!

The willingness of so many to accept the character assassination of Rev. Wright just underscores the need for all of us to think for ourselves during this election season, and not blindly accept ideas constructed from 30 second sound bytes.

For additional reading on how much the “30 seconds per sermon” approach sucks, go here. For more videos of Rev. Wright, go here.