Alice Cooper on God and the Devil

This is from the linked news article, which involves a lengthy interview with Alice Cooper.
"You couldn't believe in God without believing in the Devil. I always tell bands that the most dangerous thing you can do is to believe in the concept of the Devil or the concept of God, because you're not giving them full credit. When you believe in God, you've got to believe in the all-powerful God. He's not just God, He's the all-powerful God and He has total control over everyone's life. The Devil, on the other hand, is a real character that's trying his hardest to tear your life apart. If you believe that this is just mythology, you're a prime target because you know that's exactly what Satan wants: To be a myth. But he's not a myth, of this I'm totally convinced. More than anything in the world, I'm convinced of that."


infuriating neighbors

That is to say, neighbors that are infuriating, not infuriating the neighbors. A new family moved into the apartment directly above ours last night, and they are out of control. Last night I was up past midnight working on a school assignment - the same one I'm currently trying to work on. For the entire evening and into the night, past midnight, there was an unholy cacophony coming through the ceiling. Voices, thumping, things sliding on the floor, electric appliances, televisions: you name it, they were doing it. They apparently have at least two small children that have mistaken the apartment for some sort of race track, because they seem to do nothing but run back and forth above me with the occasional pause for yelling and screaming.

Last night I actually went upstairs and knocked on their door (something I have never once done) asking them to quiet down because it was past midnight and my wife and I were trying to sleep, an endeavor that was largely unsuccessful due to their racket. The dad (I assume) opened the door after I knocked about five times...they were understandably wary of someone knocking on their door past midnight. I told them I lived downstairs and was trying to sleep. I don't think the guy knew english very well, but I'm pretty sure he got the gist of what I was trying to say. He said "I just came" by which I believe he meant that this was their first night in the new place. I told him that it was fine and I'm sure they weren't doing it on purpose, but could he please keep it down because it's late and people are trying to sleep. My request met with marginal success...the bumping and talking became less frequent, and I figured it would be easier to go to sleep than go up again and try to get them to be quiet. After all, little kids in a new place, you can expect them to be excited on the first night, you don't need neighbors getting on your case too.

I've been working on this essay since 3pm today, here in my living room. I have left the house once or twice since. During that time there has not been a span of longer than 2-3 minutes without some ruckus from upstairs. As I type the kids are running back and forth above me, their feet creating an annoying and irregular thumping noise traveling across my ceiling. It sounds as if they're constantly moving large pieces of furniture up there, throwing things at the ground, and knocking things over. I can not believe people could make so much noise so incessantly and so inconsiderately. I mean, seriously. For 8 straight hours? What the crap. That is why I'm typing this post, to try to express my frustration, because it's at a high point.

I'll probably be up late doing schoolwork again...and I hope I don't have to make another visit up there. While moving this week puts a bigger crunch on things, I don't think I could stomach living underneath these people for a day longer than I have to. I thought our previous upstairs-neighbors were bad. This family puts them to shame. And they sometimes played bass guitar through an amp. Good Lord, help me. I want to bang on the ceiling like a crazy man till they shut up. Either that or bang on their stupid faces. Just kidding. Kinda.


variety show fundraiser

Tonight the youth group did a variety show fundraiser thingy. It was a big chaotic but everything came together alright. Thankfully Crossroadians are used to going with the flow. The night featured accordian music, spoken word Metallica, me getting smashed with cake, and more. I think it was a success overall, and I learned a lot for future iterations of the event. Ricky did a great job as emcee and helped smooth out the chaos with his sense of humor. I'm interested to know if he cleared his little stand-up bit with Nicki ahead of time. Heh.

More A's beating the Angels, more fun doing youth ministry, less getting smashed by cake, less being stressed. I'm out.


Protester Yells at Hu; Bush Apologizes

Protester Yells at Hu; Bush Apologizes - Yahoo! News

I'm not one to get all morally indignant and stuff (usually), but the whole US-China thing is sort of annoying. If you just look at it from the perspective of Bush and the other so-called principled people who stand up for what they believe in...

China forces women to have abortions - I heard somewhere in the vicinity of 30 million annually, which makes sense if you consider it's a country of over a billion people. Child labor is rampant, and they ship kids from one province to another in order to increase productivity. China is a land devoid of human rights, where people are controlled and kept down and incredibly mistreated.

So let's say you're somebody who says they stand on principle, and isn't afraid to stand up for what's right. Would you sit there and have a meeting with someone who lords over an oppressive, human-rights nightmare like China, and say absolutely nothing about all that bad stuff going on? How can anybody with any pretension to a pro-life position play nice with "President" Hu, who forces abortions on women who have the gall to become pregnant without authorization?

It just seems a bit lame to me. All those people getting screwed over in China, and for the sake of their economy the rest of the world (or at least most of it, including the U.S. and our so-called principled leaders) pretends none of it happens. That's all.


i had a dream fremont was nuked

You know how some people say that if you die in a dream, you die in real life? It's not true, in case you're wondering. This morning I woke up thinking I had died. I had a dream that for some strange reason I was back at Washington High School taking courses for a Master's Degree. I was in the office doing some paperwork after roller skating to school and making an inappropriate joke, waiting to get my schedule. So we're standing around talking and all of a sudden in the direction of southern Fremont there are two blinding flashes. First a semi-small one, then a massive one that momentarily blinds us all. After this everyone started screaming and we all hit the deck, as we could see and hear some sort of destruction coming our way. I honestly thought I was gonna die and it all seemed real - I just started praying and thinking of how I wouldn't get to see Janelle and the baby anymore, wondered if they were okay, and I prayed that they'd be fine. Imagine my relief when I woke up in my bed.

So if a nuke goes off in Fremont, you heard it here first.


happy easter

So Happy Easter to you all, I hope you're having a good one. I'm currently waiting for Janelle to get home, she stayed during the second service at Crossroads to help watch the little kids.

I ran into one of the women I wanted to shame by declaring their foolishness in assuming I was having a boy. I went up to her after the church service and said "We're having a girl," and as I was proceeding to say "in your face" she interrupted me with some sort of girly shout of glee and a torrent of encouraging, happy, and excited things poured out of her mouth. I didn't really have it in me to continue to try to rub her wrongness in. Sometimes people make it so difficult to be a right proper curmudgeon!

This past Friday, on Good Friday, I helped put together a bit of a Good Friday worship time. Instead of a church service, we set up the church building with four worship "stations." People got a paper that guided them through each station, and at each stop they would spend time reflecting on something different, all in the vein of Good Friday and in an attempt to give Easter some context.

The first station was about our need for a savior - it was a reminder that all humanity is sinful, that we all mess up, and none of us can justify ourselves before a holy God. We had a list of Bible verses people could look up to remind themselves that they're in need of some divine intervention, and we also had some bitter herbs and saltwater on a table. In Jewish tradition, bitter herbs serve as a reminder of the bitterness of captivity in Egypt - we used them here for people to taste as a reminder of the bitterness of sin, and as a reminder that we are all in captivity to the darker parts of ourselves when we're without God.

The second station was about the life of Christ. We had a list of verses about Jesus' life that people could look through to remind themselves of the kind of life Jesus lived. He healed the sick, loved the untouchables, and called the religious to a life of submission to the Father and participation in the Kingdom of God. he claimed to be the Messiah, and stirred up some trouble. So we had Bibles out for people to look stuff up, as we did at each station, and a TV showing parts of the recent movie, "The Gospel of John." I really appreciate the guy who played Jesus in that, I think He did a great job and I enjoyed his interpretation of Jesus' attitude during some of the scenes.

The third station was for communion. We had a table with some bread and juice and candles, and encouraged people to read an account of the Last Supper in the Bible. The night before His crucifixion Jesus gathered His disciples, washed their feet, and shared the Last Supper with them. At that time they had no idea what He meant when He said "this is my body, broken for you," and "this is my blood of the new covenant." So we encouraged people to take the time to sit and read the account and take communion themselves.

At the last station, we had a large wooden cross laying on the ground, with some nails and hammers near it. We also had the Passion of the Christ movie showing on a screen there. The text in our handout reminded them that Jesus died for our sins and our imperfections. He lived a perfect life and didn't deserve this fate, but endured it for our sake. People could, if they wanted to, drive a nail of their own into the cross, as a tangible reminder that we are the cause of and reason for Jesus' sacrifice. So often we sanitize the story of Jesus' Passion, and forget just how much we need Him. Christians can get awfully self-congratulatory and talk about how Jesus died for all those sinners, all the while forgetting that we ourselves are in desperate need of God's grace. It was particularly moving/touching/disturbing to watch the scene of Jesus' crucifixion, with the Romans driving nails into Jesus, while hearing someone pound their nail into the cross.

And that was it - after people went through those four stations, that was the end. Good Friday doesn't have a happy ending. Jesus is dead. This man who came, living a perfect life, performing miracles and loving the rejected, was betrayed and crucufied. What must that have felt like for those who loved Him? Saturday must have been a really dark day. And we invited people to live in that Saturday and try to give Easter a real context. On Easter we celebrate Jesus rising, but so often we forget how He died, why He died, and our part in all of it. Easter was a lot more joyful for me after having gone through that stuff with Good Friday.

I think we'll do it again next year, with some more fine tuning and whatnot. But overall I was happy with what we did - mostly because unlike many ministry endeavors, this was only about bringing people to a place where they could, individually or with their families, focus their attention on Jesus. It was so awesome to see parents going through with their kids, reading scripture, telling them the story, as a family. It was great to know that nothing about that night was bringing focus anywhere but on Jesus - and when you're doing that, you know that you're doing the right thing. So unlike many ministry tasks it was easy to know that this "worked," if only for the reason that its complete focus was on Jesus. I want every ministry work to feel that way.

Okay this post has gone on quite long. Have a great Easter!


more on the daughter thing

To answer Netters' question - I wasn't sure what to expect going into the ultrasound. I was, in fact, quite intent on not expecting anything. Multiple women at my church had made a point of telling Janelle and I with a high degree of certainty that we were having a boy. They used such scientifically sound indicators as feeling sick and having heartburn to prove we were having a male child. Of course I questioned their assessments and told them their old wives' tales had no sway with me, but they brushed aside my objections and said with all conviction, "it's a boy, you'll see." So when we went into the ultrasound place I was actually hoping we'd have a girl, if only to prove these people and their prognostications wrong. So when the doctor-type-lady told us we were having a girl, I cheered. Being the graceful type, there's nothing I love more than shoving someone else's errors in their face, which is something I will gleefully do the next time I encounter these women.

I have also decided, after having a day to reflect on it, that I am very excited about having a daughter. I think it's going to be awesome. Now that I've been able to see the baby forming (although I must admit some of the angles during the babyview yesterday were pretty frightening) and hear her heartbeat - and now that I know she's a she - she's a lot more real to me. I'm excited to meet her and take her to A's games and tell her how great she is and see what she's going to be like. I'm going to like being a dad, and I think I might even be able to get over the fact that I'm going to be wiping someone else's butt.


it's a girl

Today we discovered that the baby Janelle's carrying is in fact a girl. In 12-13 years I will be a very paranoid man.



I was out of commission for most of yesterday. As I mentioned before I was super sore, exhausted, and if I moved too fast I'd get light-headed. I felt miserable and so took it easy most of the day. I stayed home with Janelle and rested, drank my fluids, took my medicine, and watched the A's game before going to bed earlier than usual. So today I just have a bit of a cough, which aggravates a headache...but I feel much better.

I also feel great about the A's after the last two games. Yesterday they fell behind 4-0 pretty quickly, and the past couple years they would've packed it in and lost against a quality team like New York. Instead, though, they pulled it out and whomped the Yankess 9-4. One particular moment sticks out in my mind - the A's had bases loaded with one out. It seems like just about every time they're faced with that situation they find a way to screw it up. I was convinced they'd continue that trend, but apparently Frank Thomas is unfamiliar with that custom because he belted a bases-clearing double. I've gotta say I love the look of our team, and I have high hopes for this season. That may of course be my downfall come October...but the A's are going to be a lot of fun to watch this year. Yes yes, it's just one series, but I am so glad it's baseball season once again.


marco! scutaro!

Good old Scutaro, comin through in the bottom of the 9th. The game last night was great, with lead changes, stressful situations (Yankees were 1-15 with runners in scoring position), Giambi heckling, and an A's victory. Couldn't ask for too much more. I took a student from the youth group with me and he too had a good time. I'm glad I went to this game for free instead of the Monday game for sixty bucks. Huzzah.

This morning I woke up with a lot of aches and pains. I feel exhausted and my body hurts, but I'm not sure why. I think I might be coming down with something...I've never had the flu before, and I hope this isn't it. But I definitely have something going on with me. Not good timing.

I'm trying to find a video that's somewhere between 30 seconds and a minute, 1 1/2 minutes max, that has a lot of footage from storms/rain/flooding/damage to homes, etc. If any of you billions of readers know where I can get my hands on one that'd be cool. I'm putting together a project for school, I present this upcoming Monday and I want some kind of clip like that.


play ball

Here we go...the beginning of April, the beginning of another season of baseball, the sport that now rivals football in my heart. I love almost everything about baseball. I love that it's a half-hour away - if you're bored on a summer evening (and you actually have the time, which is something different entirely) then you can hop over to the Coliseum and watch the game for a few bucks. I love that during the season there's always something to talk about, and more often than not there's a game on. I love the battle between pitcher and batter - and sometimes between pitcher and catcher, deciding whether to throw the high heat and blow it past them or trick em with a curve ball. I love the glimmer of hope in a two-out rally, the crushing despair of watching one fall short, and the utter elation of a walk-off hit. I love the marathon - that even if your team blows it for a week they can come back and make a run of it. I love the hope of Opening Day, when every team is 0-0 and even the Devil Rays can lead the Yankees in the standings.

Baseball is freakin sweet, and it's on again. Tonight the A's play the Yankees - provided the game isn't rained out. Due to school I won't be able to attend tonight's game, but because of the generosity of one Julia Walker, I'll be sitting field-level tomorrow night to watch Rich Harden torch the Evil Empire. It'll be cold, it'll probably be rainy - but I don't care. Bring on the Big Dogs, bring on the trash talking, and bring on the unadulterated elation and devastating disappointment that is baseball.