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In case any of the four people people who still read my blog after me not writing anything for a month have not yet voted on this election day, I offer the following (Rob – I hope you find these somewhat less nauseating than the McKnight links – but don’t expect any dramatic new insights ;-))

Why Christians should vote for John McCain.

Why Christians should vote for Barack Obama

(HT again to Jesus Creed) As I head to bed here in Europe, a few hours before the polls close in the States, one thing I hope is that however this election turns out, the concept that all Christians “should” vote for one particular candidate is a notion that will die. Now go vote.


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I was asked yesterday if I was done with this blog. The question was predicated by the title of my last post, which I guess I didn’t explain well. Each page in a Navy flight log book ends with a diagonal line through all the blank lines with the words “No Further Entries This Page” (or NFETP) written across it. I was simply reflecting on my final NFETP from August 1998. No, Logomanikos is still alive. I do plan to start writing some more meaningful posts again sometime – soon I hope. Anyway, the question was another reminder of how easy it is to miscommunicate online, and that one should think twice before throwing something on the world wide web for anyone in the world to read if they are so inclined. And with that completely artificial segue…

Two weeks ago, we had a bit of excitement at work when our chapel secretary passed out. We thought it was a heart attack and called 911 (actually 112 here in Europe). He was OK, but left in an ambulance and was taken to the hospital for some tests. (Turned out to be an ulcer.) Then last week, I was lifting weights in the base gym with a couple high school guys when one of them smashed his finger pretty bad – fingertip swelled up, he bled everywhere. I walked him the 200 or so meters over to the fire station to get it looked at, and then waited with him until his dad picked him up. Two unrelated incidents, neither directly involving me, and neither ultimately that serious (though the first was a little scary at the time).

That night, for my daily Facebook status update, I wrote “Steve hopes to end his streak of consecutive weeks interacting with base paramedics at TWO.” I thought it was a good status update: interesting, clever, mysterious – always gotta try to hook some comments, right? Of course no one one asked about it, and life moved on. The next morning, as I arrived at work, the garrison chaplain says: “Hey, your name came up this morning. Something about paramedics at two in the morning?”

What? I was completely puzzled at first; it took a minute or two to connect the dots and figure out what had happened. I realized a colleague with whom I’m friends on Facebook mentioned my status comment in the weekly staff conference call, in the process misinterpreting the word “TWO”, not to mention my ill-expressed tongue-in-cheek intentions. Well, no harm no foul I guess, but it’s pretty interesting how differently information is relayed in this digital world.

So, anyone else have any good stories about crazy untended consequences resulting from communication via the Internet?

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Next week I’m attending my twentieth high school reunion. I’m interested to see what this event is like for me. I have many good friends from high school whom I’ve kept in close contact with. These are the guys I’m going back to see. Here are some of them at my wedding ten years ago (Aly, Dylan, me, Bruce, my brother J.J., Kerry and Rob):

I’m curious to see what it will be like reconnecting with other people whom I haven’t kept in touch with. Will it feel odd and uncomfortable? Will it be interesting? Will dormant friendships rekindle? Will I remember anyone? Will they remember me? Will it feel real or artificial? Will it feel like now or like I’m back in high school again? These are the questions that are swirling in the back of my mind. Not the front of my mind though; I’ve been too busy to really think about this trip much.

So one of the things we were supposed to do for this reunion was create a biography / memory page. It was quite a project trying to sum up a little over half my life on one 8.5 by 11 page. And as I did it, I also had to reflect a bit on my motivation for spending so much time trying to “get it right” and make it look good. How much is my pride driving this project? Do I just want to make myself look impressive for a bunch of people I don’t really even know anymore? Shannon wisely reminded me as I agonized with formatting pictures and margins and so on, “All the people who really care already know what’s happened in the last 20 years of your life.” Certainly good counsel. On the other hand, I do look forward to seeing other people’s pages, folks I haven’t seen since 1988, and I do hope that many of them took the time to really effectively give me some sense of where life has taken them these past two decades. So I’m at least telling myself that I really did all this work for them, not for me. You can opine for yourself about that rationale. Anyway, here’s what I came up with (if you find any typos, please don’t tell me):

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This is Spinal Tap is one of my all time favorite movies. Today I came across this reminder of why:

Go here to see all five videos (apparently promos for an actual National Geographic special). And in case you don’t get the title of this post:

HT: Kevin Corcoran at Holy Skin and Bone.

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We visited Margraten Cemetery today, about 30 minutes from our house. There are 8301 World War II soldiers are buried here. Each of those crosses and stars of David represents about that many more people killed during that war, or 72 million people total. As I imagined what it would feel like to lose one son, the immensity of that grief multiplied that many times was overwhelming. Remember their sacrifice and pray never again.

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When I first heard a that you could play Scrabble through Facebook, I carefully avoided it. Once before I tried out Scrabble on the internet and found what a temptation it could be to be a major time sucker. While I can play a solitaire game against the computer in about 10 minutes, playing a full game against a real person typically takes over an hour. Plus I had a weird text exchange with some stranger in an online game room – creeped me out a bit. But two weeks ago, I caved in and tried Scrabbulous, and suddenly like throwing a light switch, the whole online social networking thing made more sense to me. What a marvelous thing – I can have games going with 5 to 10 people at once (or much more if I let it get totally out of hand), all of whom I know. I log in once a day and check my Scrabble boards, just like I check my email, playing on any that are my turn and perhaps sending a quick text chat message. In that same 10 minutes that I was losing to “Maven”, I can now have a quick recreational connection with several friends all round the world. Like anything “virtual” I suppose, it’s not quite as satisfying as the real thing and games may take months to play, but it’s still a beautiful thing. So don’t worry, if I challenge you, it won’t take hours of your time. At least not all at once! Wanna play?

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Chastain Family - Easter 2006The picture is from Easter 2006. I think Resurrection Sunday will always remind me of cancer and chemotherapy – and the new life that came through that time of “death”.

A couple weeks ago, Shannon and I were reflecting on our personal testimonies. By that, I don’t mean simply “when and how did we become Christians?”, but what are the events, people, and circumstances that have most directly and profoundly impacted our spiritual formation? When (and why and how) did we each feel like we had grown the most, or experienced the deepest transformation? We discovered something interesting. Although going through chemotherapy in 2006 was certainly a huge life-defining landmark, that experience didn’t jump out to me as one of the most formative parts of my spiritual testimony. For Shannon however, those months clearly stood out as the #1 factor in shaping her testimony. She has such clear memories of her feelings, thoughts, prayers, grief, hope, fear, desperation, loneliness, peace and joy. I have some of those memories, but mostly I recall those days being a time of just putting my head down and “getting through it.” My comment to Shannon as we processed all this stuff was that looking back two years later, I feel like chemotherapy was something that happened to her, more than it did to me. Can any of you relate? Does anyone else out there have a testimony that is deeply rooted in someone else’s significant experiences? Has a crisis you’ve faced personally faded away, while remaining forefront in the minds of your loved ones?

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