Well, I have been roasting coffee for some time now (since Brother Nathan and family came up in March), but not until recenlty did I decide to eliminate or reduce the number of cramped muscles that are produced each 20-30 minute sessions per batch. First I set up the blocks on a military issue typing table and used c-clamps to hold them in place. That held the bowl, so that I am not as likely to lose the entire batch into the grass or gravel. Next I took a magnetic guage holder and rigid armature (can be found at McMaster-Carr), and used some bolts to cradle the heat gun. The armature has adjustment knobs, so I can aim the gun exactly where I want it. All that is left to hack together a stirring mechanism so I can just stand back and listen for evidence of a good roast…
There come times in ones life when you must admit to something. I have admitted to many things, including that I have indeed been wrong on many occasions, and am sure I will be wrong many more times. But there is an admission that I have not made, that I have decided it is time to make. I am stepping out…
I am not a conservative evangelical Christian. I really don’t like christian music, I don’t enjoy singing in church, I don’t even like going to church, I’d rather not set foot in a christian book store, you will not catch me buying anything overtly labeled “Christian”, and I am a little suspicious of any company that advertises that they are christian. I also am saddened by the mixture of Christianity and nationalistic pride, christian leaders that endorse war, fear-mongering from the pulpit, christians that “trash talk” Democrats, Liberals, Feminists, Environmentalists, welfare recipients, presidential candidates, rednecks, Mexicans, Muslims, Catholics, Pentacostals, Southern Baptists, Free Methodists, Athiests, fellow motorists, and … well, anyone. Yep, it really does give me an icky feeling in my stomach. I have it right now.
So what am I? Do I have to say? To those who would claim to be christian, I might seem a liberal tree-hugger, and compared to the average consumer, my ideas may seem to lean toward communism. So, to make things easier, I will outline my core values, and you can make up whatever label you prefer.
I do still believe in God, and that he somehow made this incredible universe at least partially for us, but mostly to enjoy for himself. I think that we fit in there because, as he made us somewhat free agents, we can somehow please him more than the rest of the stuff he made. At some point we took that freedom, and twisted it and that did not really make him very happy. He decided that, at great pain to himself, he would extend a favor to us despite our twistedness, and in fact show us how to undo the kinks.
Yes, I know, I did not mention Jesus, or the cross, or the bible. Those are all parts of it, but the terms themselves do not add anything to the story. I do believe that Jesus was much more than a very wise man, and I think that his personal example, as recorded in what we call the gospels, is probably the best example there ever was. The horrible way that he died, and the events following that death are very significant, but to what extent we will not truely know until later.
So there is the theology section. Now, on to regular everyday life. I believe that God made the world that made me. I believe that God cares not just about people, but also about all the other stuff he made, and if we care at all about God, we will also care about his stuff. When I say “care about”, I do not just mean disapointed if something happens to it. I mean really take an interest, and be actively invovled in taking care of it, in the same way that you would “take care” of your ailing aunt, or your new infant. Not how a gangster would “take care of it.” This means be good to yourself, your fellow two-legged-rational beings, the other creatures around you, the bit of dust that keeps producing the stuff that keeps us alive, and the elements that we are built from. Be good means more than don’t be bad. Being good involves active choices for doing things that are beneficial. There are some virtues that describe this type of good: self-discipline, humility, justice, mercy, compassion, charity, love, and grace.
As it turns out, these virtues were the primary teachings and example of Jesus. Some of the other things he taught or lived were simplicity, intolerance of religious facades, modesty, integrity, perserverance, community, stewardship, and self-sacrifice (literally!). Those are the values or virtues that I see as the core of what Jesus taught and lived. If I take him as a excellent teacher and example, those become the core values for which I yearn and strive. The other stuff? Church service, Sunday school, daily devotions, quiet time, yearly bible, praise music, “the experience”, full-time ministry, excecutive pastors, assistant pastors, “emergent”, neo-conservative, sword-drills, memory verses, alter calls, “the prayer”, christian radio, christian movies, christian products, christian versions of ideas that are already in use, christian America, christian stores, church camp, study bible, teen bible, womens bible, christian fiction. It is just extras. I see it as the weeds that grow up and choke the seed. It is the stuff that keeps us from taking care of the things that God cares about, the stuff that can keep us from doing good.
So, there you have it. I think I still please God. I long to please him now, more than ever before. But now I feel more freedom to follow Jesus more fully than I ever have.
We went on our first camping trip since being back in the country, and
it was a new type of camping for us. Friends* invited us back in
February to camp with them in Jellystone, a camp resort just south of
the MI-IN border (not quite the same as south-of-the-border in SoCal)
and just north of I80 (when I say “just north of” I mean “bordered
by”). We knew that they were all taking pop-ups, but we were not
prepared for the urban-like population density, and the massive motor
homes that were there. They all headed down on Thursday night, and
ended up setting up camp in a summer downpour. We arrived in the
morning to a clear sunny day. Our spot was on the edge of two of the
campsites, and the five families looked a little like a wagon train
camped in a circle. Since we have been outside the camping lifestyle
for a while, we had to procure some new equipment. This time around
it consisted of a 8 man tent (yes a little ambitious for a family of
4), a single propane burner, 2 folding chairs, and a little
battery-powered lamp. Other things were borrowed, like an additional
sleeping bag, a tarp, 2 more folding chairs, and a bike rack. The
camp site only took an hour and a half to get to, and the campground
was equipped with a store, 2 pools, a water park (4 water slides),
planned activities, and even luxury cabins for those willing to pay.
It is a family friendly place and kids wander at will. The speed
limit posted is 51/2mph but it did not seem to apply to kids on bikes.
Our spot was right next to the playground and the athletic field, and
there was usually activity all day keeping the kids busy. It only
rained one night, but it rained a lot.
I took my recently acquired (thanks B!) bocce ball set, and us men
played a few rounds on the field. It was fun to play in a space that
provides for all types of game play. Tony liked to throw the pallino
so far that we could barely see it and our pitches were dangerous.
Paul and I preferred the short game that was more like putting in golf
and a little more competitive.
The best parts were seeing the kids play together, and being able to
spend time with adults around the camp and around the fire at night.
We would do it again, for sure. Only next time we will seal the seams
of the tent before we leave.
*Thanks Lance & Stacy, Chris & Tony, Paul & Missy, and Nora & Matt for
inviting us and letting us settle on your sites.