Twenty Nothing

This weekend I had a conversation with an older adult about the attendance of twentysomethings like myself at our church. I expressed a sentiment that not many twentysomethings attend church, based more on experience and intuition than anything. Here’s the facts to back that up, and it’s rather sobering:

80% of twentysomethings said religious faith is very important in their life.
75% of twentysomethings said they prayed to God in the past week.
57% of twentysomethings claim to have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important to them.
31% of twentysomethings attend church in a typical week, compared with 42 percent of thirtysomethings and 49 percent of those 40 and older.
8,000,000 twentysomethings who actively attended church as teenagers will no longer be active in a church by age 30.

(Source: Barna Research Group)

More Wankers

Today I learned a bit more about the U2 Tribute album I mentioned a while back.

It seems Sparrow Records is releasing In the Name of Love: Artists United for Africa on January 27, 2004. A track listing is given, but no clues as to who’s playing what. For that, you’d have to head over here, where we get a few artist song matchups, including:

Nichole Nordeman – “Grace”
Sixpence None the Richer – “Love is Blindness”
Sanctus Real – “Beautiful Day”
Audio Adrenaline – “Gloria”
Pillar – “Sunday Bloody Sunday”

Other artists include P.O.D., Toby Mac, Switchfoot, Delirious and others. It’s reported that all proceeds will benefit DATA.

I’m intrigued to hear this album, but I’m also a bit worried. U2 is U2 because nobody can do what they do. Most U2 covers stink. I’m especially worried when I hear things like this from Pillar, “We just got confirmation that this is going to happen today so we have to get together this Tuesday to learn and practice the song.” You can’t learn a U2 song at the last minute and expect your cover to be worth anything.

I’m also curious to see if anyone took my advice about what Christian band should cover what U2 song.

(Thanks to CCM magazine, where I first learned more about this album, Pillar for filling in some details, @U2 for linking to, and JFHO for having further info. Whew.)

Well it ain’t gettin’ any safer.

I joined the fall retreat with my church’s youth group this weekend. Thanks to an uncooperative work schedule, Abby had to stay behind. But despite going bachelor style, I had fun. Here’s some highlights:

A mile-long trek through the woods in hopes of finding the general among 250 acres while playing Outpost (kind of a lame Capture the Flag). I did manage to spook a deer.

“Oh Faye, this corn is so scrumptious.” (a late night viewing of What About Bob)

Hanging 40 feet above the ground by a caribeener. The camp had a pretty involved high ropes course, and I gave it a shot. Since you’re wearing a harness and clipped in at all times, I wasn’t really afraid of falling. It was more the difficulty of the different elements and the fact that you’re 40 feet off the ground. I found climbing up the rickety ladder at the start, and then jumping off the platform for the zip line to be the scariest parts. At one point while standing on a steel wire I felt an incredible sense of peace. I could have stood there all day.

I’m going to blame it on the unseasonable mood swings the weather’s been taking, ranging from below freezing nights to 80 degree days, or maybe the fact that I forgot my jacket, but I just couldn’t stay warm with a normal amount of clothing. Except for the warmer afternoons, I spent most of the weekend wearing four layers: t-shirt, long sleeve t-shirt, sweater, hoodie. It really wasn’t that cold, I’m just weak. Or too skinny, or something. And last February I’d go out in just a t-shirt and hoodie.

Sitting on the dock of a tiny lake, the surrounding greens, yellows, browns, and sky blues reflected perfectly in the otherwise dark water, on a quiet, 70 degree Sunday afternoon doing absolutely nothing. Forget football or NASCAR, I could have sat there all day.

All in all, the trip reinforced my preference for Fall as my favorite season. It’s cold enough to wear comfy jeans and long sleeve shirts, but not yet frigid; the fabulous colors and crunch-crunch of the leaves, and the absence of bugs.

No comment.

I said the other day that I’ve been wanting to comment on the comments, and today seems like a good time to do it. I’m leaving for a weekend retreat in fifteen minutes, forcing me to be brief and ensuring that I’m not around to further comment on the comments.

Comments are an awesome way to add interaction. Suddenly I’m not just talking to myself. Yeah, there’s always e-mail, but over the years very few people have e-mailed me in response to my thoughts. It happens, but pretty rarely. Comments are immediate, easy, and public. Not only can someone tell me what they think, they can tell everyone else reading my thoughts what they think.

All of that is very cool. But it’s also scary. Suddenly this isn’t just me spouting off about what I think. You can respond, and I’m not sure if I’m ready for that. Faulty logic can be burned, impassioned posts can be slammed. If I haven’t fully discovered my position, I still have to be ready to defend it in the comments.

While the comments do add immediate interaction, sometimes that interaction can be scary. It will make me think twice about what I post. I can always reserve the right to ignore the comments, and I may just do that.

I also have to decide if I’m going to participate in the comments. I see some blogs where the author writes as much in the comments as he does in the blog. While that’s certainly the interaction of community, I don’t know if I’m ready for that. Sometimes I want to say my bit and leave it at that.

So I’m still getting used to comments. For four and a half years I wrote with minimal feedback and interaction — and I can tell you it was surprising enough when someone would respond to my thoughts in person or on the phone. I’ll need some time to get used to the instant feedback.

$20 can buy lots of things

I stopped to get cash the other day and got two crisp, new twenty dollar bills. The new bills are pretty cool, though I was a bit miffed then when I went to the grocery store auto-check out, they had little signs that said they didn’t accept the new $20 bill. Apparently it’s too high-tech for the auto-check out or something.

You’d think they’d make the new $20 bill backwards compatible.

And of course, the new bill has a conspiracy theory. If you fold the bill just right it looks like the World Trade Center burning on one side and the Pentagon burning on the other. A second site goes into conspiracies on other bills, which says coincidence to me. Maybe making George Washington look like a mushroom on the $1 bill was a conspiracy about the atomic bomb. Or maybe not.

Have you ever heard the joke about the hitchhiker on the $10 bill? Yeah, you’re supposed to have a friend look for the hitchhiker on the street scene on the back of the bill. When they can’t find him, you shrug your shoulders and say, “Huh, I guess he got picked up.”

[insert groans here]

Money is exchanged for goods and services.

While I do accept donations, I rarely say much about it. Yesterday Steve posted a comment encouraging others to donate. The plug and the donation were mighty kind, Steve. Thanks.

I wanted to say a few words about donating today. I’ve been writing these thoughts for almost five years now, and I mainly do it for myself. It keeps me writing and it’s a fun way to learn more about using the Internet. But it’s also for anyone who else out there who appreciates what I say, however limited that group may be.

I’m more or less asking for your support. I’ve been unemployed since July, and while I am financially stable and still able to make all my payments each month, I’m not swimming in dough. I’ve recently incurred more expenses related to these thoughts, including hosting and Internet access fees. While I took those bills on with the hope that freelance projects would pay for them, it’s always nice if these thoughts can pitch in their fair share.

A straight-up donation is the most direct way to support these thoughts. Consider it a small fee for the content you enjoy almost every day. You’ll pay $10-30 for a magazine subscription, or $15 for a book (or maybe 88 cents if you’re like me), so maybe consider donating $1-5 for this.

Another way to support these thoughts is with I have a referral system set up, so any time you follow a link from this site to and buy anything there, I get a small cut of your purchase. It’s usually a piddly amount, but it can add up. So anytime you’re thinking of making a purchase at Amazon, please consider coming here first and clicking on a link for Amazon.

If you spend lots at Amazon, I’d encourage you to consider supporting other sites that have a referral program with Amazon. It’s like giving away free money, so spread it around. College textbooks, Christmas presents, whatever.

Finally, you can support these thoughts in less tangible ways. If you like what you read, tell your friends. Be a part of the site and post a comment (isn’t that a snazzy new feature? Speaking of comments, I’ve been meaning to comment on that new feature. Some day I will. While I don’t expect everyone to comment, it is reassuring to know that people are reading these thoughts.). When you read these thoughts, remember that there is a person writing them, and he could use your prayers.

All of these are great ways to support me in this endeavor. I don’t expect anyone to actually do them. Like I said, I write this for myself. But if you happen to get something out of it, that’s great. If you want to return the favor and support me, that’s even better.

OK, I’ll stop sounding like a PBS pledge drive.

Article Round-up

The Secret CollaboratorsTime gives an inside look at what Iraqi spies, working for the U.S. with CIA funding, accomplished before and during the war to take any muscle out of the Iraqi Army. It give you some confidence in the U.S. ability to wage a smart war. Now only if we put that much energy into the post-war effort.

Christian Clubbing: Thou Shalt RockThe New Union (sort of) is featured in Time. Actually it’s the New Union’s downtown club, Club Three Degrees. I’m hoping to catch Five Iron Frenzy‘s farewell tour there next month.

A Boy’s Novel Fantasy (scroll down) – Have you heard of Eragon? It’s a fantasy novel written by 17-year-old Christopher Paolini. His parents self-published it, Knopf picked it up and paid Paolini six figures for his next two books. Eragon is now outselling four of the five Harry Potter books. What am I doing wrong?

A paperweight would be nice, but what I really need is a computer.

I’m at the Science Museum again today taking more computer classes. As I was coming back from lunch, I noticed an Apple II E displayed in the lobby. In 1983 the Science Museum’s Computer Education Center bought ten Apple II E’s and began teaching computer education classes.

In 1983 the machine cost $1,395 and had a processor speed of 1.02 Mhz. For those of you who can’t remember what processor speed means, most machines now are in the 600-1,500 Mhz range. My machine at home (almost three years old) is an 800 Mhz. The new iMacs are 1,250 Mhz (or 1.25 Ghz, as they display it). Pretty crazy.

I do think it’s kind of funny that while the computer speed has increased over 800 fold, the price hasn’t changed too much.

Yesterday Morning

Note: A mess of magnetic poetry is spread across my filing cabinet, and every so often I like to make something out of it. Here is one of those somethings.

A hot rain blazes the land
I walk above scorched concrete
almost broken after time.

A haunting stranger from the vast yellow sky
comes down like cold fire
questioning our open eyes.

Old wind breathes clean air,
but we do not drink in
and so translucent eternity looks on.