yeti found in siberia.

note: the picture above is unrelated to the news regarding the yeti. this was taken in 1994 by some fishermen in Nepal. it is still uncertain whether the individual in the photo was one of the fishermen or not.

thirty minutes ago i got an email from my friend john with the following subject line:

Yeti.

could there possibly be a better email subject in existence? there is literally nothing coming to mind that would beat the excitement of reading an email with that subject. i suppose “Sasquatch” could maybe compete, but to me, the Yeti is much more interesting due to its supposed climate and extremely reclusive nature. also the Yeti is foreign – Asian, in fact – which adds to its curiousity.

i opened the email and found a link to an article all about how a group of russian researchers have found “indisputable proof” that a yeti has been discovered in siberia. the research team can honestly say, with 95% confidence, that there is a Yeti living in northern Russia somewhere. let’s review their evidence and draw our own conclusions…

the evidence is rather exhaustive – strands of yeti hair in a cave, complete with footprints nearby and a bed-like sleeping structure. not only that, but they found dozens of signals that the yeti uses to mark his territory. the report claims that the yeti is a muscular creature with “grayish or reddish-brown hair” and slightly larger than a human male – “around 6-7 ft tall and between 200-400 lbs”.

cave + hair + prints + bed + territory markers = muscular gray/red/brown haired slightly over-sized humanoid. clearly this is indisputable. how could anyone argue against it?

i suppose one might say “6-7 feet is a large range…so is 200-400 lbs.” or maybe they could say, “they have a tuft of hair, but they think he could be three different colors – red, brown or gray?” or even, “didn’t they think to set up a video camera or something in the cave?” i guess one could ask, “couldn’t it be a bear? or a wolf or something? doesn’t that fit the exact discription?” or how about, “what did they gather that makes the yeti muscular? clearly there must be some females on that research team just hoping he’s a muscular heartthrob.”

one might have asked those things, but obviously they would be misguided possibilities. as stated before, this is indisputable, so it would be unwise to suggest that it could be disputed. this is obviously factual. can’t wait for it to be captured and put on display in a museum or a zoo somewhere. i think i’ll name him Abe (short for abominable).

-apc.

jacob’s well.

outside of a couple book reviews, i’ve been rather silent on the ole blog. life transition will do that to you, i suppose. i hope that as life moves into it’s new phase that i’ll slowly find my rhythm and writing again. writing is truly a value to me. i’m not entirely sure that i’m even a good writer, and i’m also uncertain if i write for the benefit of others or simply for myself. regardless, i enjoy it and i tend to find myself living a fuller and fresher life when i get to write. so here i am.

as you may or may not be aware, over the last 4 months i’ve transitioned from my role at Hillcrest Covenant Church in Prairie Village, KS, into a new role at Jacob’s Well Church in Kansas City, MO. different states, yes, but only a few miles away from one another. i am so thankful for Hillcrest and the years i was apart of the culture and life of that church. it will always feel like home being around the people of HCC.

being a Jacob’s Well is terrific. such a fun and lively climate, and it is truly an honor to be apart of that community and that staff. my new role has me taking on more responsibility and ownership of the ministry i’m involved in, and i’m quickly learning and growing in ways i haven’t been able to in my previous years of ministry. being apart of a new culture is so interesting – learning, listening, and discerning every little detail of a culture that i am trying to infiltrate. i’ve made my short term goals to get to know all the kids names and connect with anyone who could have something to say as far as the youth ministry goes. i have loved getting to knew a new staff and group of volunteers, and can’t wait to see what God has in store for the youth ministry at Jacob’s Well.

i’m also learning that i don’t exactly know what i’m doing. gasp. which if funny to think about following a month of interviews trying to make myself sound like everyone’s dream hire answering all questions like i have a clue what i was doing. which, at the time, i tried to convey as best i could that i didn’t yet know what the answers to their youth ministry needs were. students would ask me, “will you take us to worlds of fun/power play/the moon?” and i would respond with, “probably, but i can’t guarantee anything yet because i don’t yet know what will or won’t work around this place.” i am slowly meeting people, developing relationships, and trying to discern what’s next for a ministry that i am learning more and more about every day.

the last thing i’ll mention is what i’m learning about the importance of relationships in ministry. everyone who read that sentence is like, “well duh.” i guess what i’m saying is that its really hard to teach, love, learn and grow together when we haven’t actually experienced any life yet together. even something as simple as teaching on sunday morning is proving to be difficult until i know my audience on a deeper level. until we have some fun together, i don’t have a clue what these kids are interested in hearing or how i can best speak into their life. without relationships, ministry is next to impossible, and jumping into a new environment has taught me that first hand. as i’m getting to know each student, my love for them increases and so does the ministry capacity within me.

ah, i’ve just written 650 words in 5 solid paragraphs. clearly this won’t be a well read blog post – that’s why twitter is so effective. all that to say, i am so thankful for this new opportunity. i get really excited every time i think about how God opened doors and aligned everything for me to step in at Jacob’s Well. what a joy and a blessing to be apart of this new place.

-apc.

review: water for elephants.


check out my Water for Elephants review over on the Ultra Manly Book Club blog, or read it below. if you’re a dude, i recommend checking out the site.

————-

Disclaimer: I feel I am required to adopt somewhat of a defensive persona when beginning this post. Yes. We are a bit embarrassed to have included this in our book club. However, part of our guidelines for iUMBC is that we are culturally aware of the “popular” books of the day. Sara Gruen’s 2006 novel, Water for Elephants, is considered by many to be “so hot right now. “ So hot, in fact, that felt the need to make a movie out of it starring the Twilight Heartthrob himself (who shall remain nameless due the fact that his name escapes me and I refuse to increase his popularity by Googling it). The convictions of those affiliated with iUMBC tend do disagree with this “so hot” notion. Also, this review contains *spoilers*.

 The book’s protagonist goes by the name Jacob Jankowski, and although his surname would suggest it, he does not play hockey. Instead, Jankowski is a disgruntled old man living in a nursing home. The majority of the text is spent in Mr. Jankowski’s flashbacks to the time he spent in the circus as a college kid. In his final year of vet school tragedy strikes in his family and he copes with the difficulty by running away and boarding a circus train. Seems reasonable enough.

Through a series of events, young Jacob discovers himself working amongst the carnies. He is torn between the circus hierarchy: Workers and Performers. His friends are all workers; Camel, an old sick drunk addicted to cough syrup, and Kinko, a midget whom Jacob once encounters masturbating in their sleeping quarters. So awkward. The reader learns to love and cherish these two quirky men. The tension mounts when Jacob falls in love with a performer, Marlena, who rides an elephant in the circus finale. Unfortunately, Marlena is married to an abusive man, August, who is also Jacob’s boss.

Thus far, this book probably sounds fine, and I will admit that the first 2/3 of this book is decent. The tension builds, it’s an entertaining read, and there are even a couple split lips in the first 200 pages. It’s what happens next that derails this book completely.

The two most lovable characters are easily Camel and Kinko, and at this point in the novel they are both living with Jacob in a storage car near the back of the train. Camel has been poisoned by his cough syrup addiction and is losing feeling to his entire body. Jacob and Kinko are able to make contact with a relative of Camel’s who agrees to meet up with them on their tour and take Camel away to help him recover. Kinko has just overcome his initial hatred of Jacob (partially due to the embarrassment of being caught in the act), and is turning into a terrific companion. What’s going to happen with Camel? Are they going to make it to Camel’s cousin in time? What is Kinko’s roll going to be as the plot develops further?

The answers never come. One night, while Jacob sneaks off to the Performers’ cabin, the author decides that it would be a good idea to have the two most likable characters thrown off the train.

So that’s what happens. Rather than finish their story and have them play a role, their characters are just inexplicably killed off like the unnamed extras in a Predator movie. Only these aren’t just unnamed characters; they’re important names in the book who have storylines of their own. Rather than try and tie all the loose ends together in the end, Sara Gruen decides to take the easy way out and end all storylines that aren’t the sappy love story. It’s lazy writing and it can’t be tolerated.

Once Kinko and Camel were killed off it was easy to find issues with this book I suddenly hated. For example, it becomes very obvious that the inner monologues of Jacob are actually the creation of a female author. Gruen uses situations that play directly to a woman’s emotional state: cruelty to animals, an abusive husband, and a depressed old man who’s younger self was the vanquisher of both the animal cruelty and the domestic abuse.

No wonder women love Jacob Jankowski – he’s a sad old man (tear) whose 23-year-old self loves and cares for animals (sniff, sniff) and who rescues a woman from a psychotic abusive husband (more tears). Talk about dreamy…and a complete waste of my time. These scenarios don’t appeal to men. Don’t misunderstand me here – there are certainly ultra manly men who care about these things – but this is not the sort of thing that gets men amped about reading a novel. It’s geared to women, and it took a poor decision by the author to make that clear.

While iUMBC does not recommend this book to our followers, we do believe that bringing awareness is crucial. Read it if you must, but please continue to spread the word. This book is not well done and is far from manly.

-apc.

life transition: The Decision.

20110614-123827.jpg
as you may or may not be aware, I am entering a transitionary stage in my life. my contract is up at Hillcrest Covenant Church at the end of the month bringing the end of an era in my life. i was first hired at HCC in May 2005 as a summer intern following my freshman year at K-State. since graduating high school I have either been a college student, or an employee of student ministries.

my wife and I have decided to enter into this transition in what we believe to be the best way possible: by traveling to Europe for 3 weeks. both of us will be unemployed for the first time since college, and we figure it is much healthier to view it as an opportunity rather than freaking out and frantically worrying about the future. we may never have a chance like this again. let’s take advantage. the trip has allowed me to be extremely calm about the transition. rather than filling out applications and scrambling to discover my next job, I have been researching airfare, plotting daytrips, and learning the histories of the cities we will be experiencing.

maybe this freedom has been too nice at times. saying that it has “allowed” me to detach from the situation makes it sound like I’m not taking it seriously. to quote darth vader, making it “all too easy”. that is probably somewhat true. I am hoping that the three weeks abroad will give me a little time to process and understand what it is that God is calling me too and where I will land next.

which is where I end up pondering this idea of “calling” over and over again. it amazes me when people say that they are distinctly “called” to a ministry or occupation. I feel like what I will end up doing is weighing my options, picking the one that excites me most and makes the most sense at the same time. which is what, i believe, we all do anyway. no one makes decisions based on nothing. they choose based on pros and cons and they step out in faith that their decision is the right one.

the place where I get tripped up is where I start believing that there is a “right choice” and everything else is the “wrong choice”. that is the way I think. when I pull up at sonic and I have to make a drink choice, I stare at the board and weigh the 32,086 different options trying to determine which is the “right” one for my current state of thirst. do I need a refreshing Ocean Water, or a classic Cherry Limeade, or a spritzed up Dr. Pepper with Vanilla and Lime? this process takes a while and ticks off those waiting for my Decision (capital D, a la LeBron James).

the trip up is a theological one: if i make the “wrong choice” does that effectively limit how God can use my life? obviously not – the omnipotent Creator can and will use me no matter what. so why is there so much pressure to make the “right choice” that God is “calling” me toward? what if I don’t feel “called” to anything right now? is it inevitable that I choose wrong? or does it not matter to God as long as I do it to the best of my God-given abilities? “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do all in the name of Chirst Jesus.” so who decides what the “whatever” is that i am to do?

so in the end I choose to weigh options, make internal pro/con lists and determine the joy I would experience working in different areas. what are my values and how do those factor into the Future Formula? yes, I pray, but it is usually limited to, “God, use me in whatever it is I’m going to do in life.”

so as I go on “holiday”, as they say, that is the current state of my mind. not worrying (yet), but definitely feeling some angst about the decision making process. I’m just thankful the national media isn’t following my every thought and scrutinizing my Decision as if it wasnt the right one. poor LeBron.

-apc.

why i jumped from blogspot to wordpress.

20110518-113632.jpg

i’ve been blogging since 2003. i was on xanga in high school and into college, but as blogging and social media really took off, i decided i needed to make the jump to more legit hosting site. in december 2006 i made the switch to blogspot. some of my friends jumped to the ever-so-trendy tumblr around 2008, but i held strong to blogspot because i saw value in staying loyal to a domain. people would remember it. no one would have to update their RSS feeds. over time, if i invested entirely to one space i would likely have a much more robust blog to show for it.

but last week i finally decided that it was time to move on. here are my reasons:

1. wordpress allowed me to import my old posts from blogspot. one of the reasons i was reluctant to move was because i didn’t want “lose” all my old posts on my new one. plus, my new blog to look like i never wrote anything. it looks a lot better to have posts dating back to 2006 then to have them starting just today. but when i found out i could move all my old posts over from blogspot, it was an easy decision. (although, when i transferred everything, all my old posts got a “>” in front of the blog title and first character in the text body. i’ve deleted it from my most recent posts, but removing it from 500 old posts may take a while. hm.)

2. wordpress is more mobile friendly than blogspot. wordpress has an iPad version of their pages that is way more user-friendly (and awesome looking) than just a stagnant webpage. it also has much better posting apps than blogspot does. when i was in guatemala and trying to update on our trip from my phone, the app capabilities were all third-party and not super easy to utilize.

3. wordpress compiles it’s own site stats. while on blogspot, i had pasted in html for sitemeter, then google analytics, but they were always a little janky with the web stats and they always felt somewhat cumbersome to have to leave my blogspot dashboard and travel to an external site to view the info.

4. wordpress seems to understand where blogging and web presence is moving toward while blogspot hasn’t done much of anything to reinvent themselves as the online world is advancing. this partially has to do with WP’s mobile friendliness, but beyond that there is just a sense that they are moving along faster than other blog servers.

5. wordpress page templates allow for a more interactive blog. i haven’t really begun to utilize everyhting that wordpress is capable of, but i can definitely see how pages can look fresher and flashier than pages hosted on blogspot. i’m excited to explore and see what more there is to WP that i haven’t tapped into yet. WP friends, i could use some guidance here.

anyway. no hard feelings blogspot. you did nothing wrong necessarily, wordpress just seems to be doing a lot of stuff right these days. we’ll see how this goes.

-apc.

dr. martin luther king jr. – the white church’s stance on social injustice.

I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership…I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church…When i was suddenly catapulted into leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the ministers, priests, and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows…In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: “Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.” And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely otherworldly religion which makes a strange, unbiblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular…There was a time when the church was very powerful – in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail
as transcribed in Soong-Chan Rah’s Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church

-apc.