December 30, 2008


the church faces a seemingly endless series of challenges with each year it progresses.  new contexts & cultural shifts.  challenges to authority and tradition.  reinterpretation of doctrine and scripture.  and the list could go on.  oftentimes, these struggles are viewed only negatively, with the result being a walled-in version of God’s people that excludes instead of includes, that pushes people & cultures out instead of welcoming them in.  many advances that our world has experienced could be complimentary to our faith, rather than destructive.  like the established religion of the time rejected the concept of a round earth or an earth that revolves around the sun, so can we get stuck in our traditions and comfort ruts, be they in science, theology, music, or even technology. Read the rest of this entry »


16 things

December 29, 2008

From Facebook:

alrighty…cause folks asked me to & cause i thought it’d be fun, here’s 16 little known facts (some might call them inane details) about the man known as jdh.

1 Pittsburg: even though i’m a die-hard Cleveland sports fan (which the fact that i’m a sports fan at all may be news to some folks), i much prefer the city of Pittsburgh as a city and have spent more of my life in it than Cleveland. i do still hate the Steelers. i just love their city.

2 The West Wing: i view the tv show The West Wing as one of God’s gifts to humanity. it makes me a hopeless emotional wreck often, spurred me on in asking a girl out once, likely played a role in my political leanings, and gives me hope for politics in general even though i know they’re incredibly hopeless.

3 abnormal friends: i have two (that i can think of) “virtual” friends (meaning friends who i came to know & only know via the internet). dan & josh. dan i met back in the day when i had a xanga account & so did he & we would read each other’s and comment. josh i met through his blog and our little experiment in Amir’s Taxi Fund.

4 childhood: most kids set up lemonade stands when they’re growing up to earn cash & whatnot. i, however, didn’t do lemonade stands…i set up a rock & shell museum at the end of my yard along the sidewalk. i collected rocks & seashells from all over & researched & labeled them. business never really picked up, though.

5 blog: i relaunched my blog over Christmas break & i’m pretty pumped about it: i was going to label this as shameless self-promotion, but i think a list of 16 things about yourself pre-defines the entirety as such. Read the rest of this entry »

Battle Royal

December 29, 2008

The holidays are a time for many things, one of which is a great time for connecting with students.  No school = lots of free time = fun to be had.  With this in mind, a group of 8th grade boys raided the Domanion (my dubiously named house – “the domain of man”) for a Lord of the Rings mini-marathon. 

Lord of the Rings is rated PG-13 for “epic battle sequences.”  Which, interestingly enough, are the parts of the movie that most held the guys attention.  We quickly coined a few terms…everything amazing became a “battle royale” (royal being pronounced “roy-elle”, as opposed to “royl”)and everyone amazing became “so & so is totally hard-core.”  In between the on-screen battle royals the guys created a few battle royals of their own, with spilled glasses of lemonade being the only casualty.

I called it a mini-marathon because we didn’t make it all the way through.  We decided to go for the extended versions, which chart out at 3:30 (Fellowship of the Ring), 3:45 (Two Towers), and 4:10 (Return of the King).  Our gathering started a bit later than we’d planned & was interrupted by a few spontaneous games of foosball, so we charged our way through about half of the series listed above, clocking out a bit over half-way through Two Towers when parents started showing up. Read the rest of this entry »

Guest Author: Joel Bruerd – Christmas Thoughts

December 23, 2008

It seems like everyone is (appropriately) taking time to jot down some Christmas thoughts or some advent reflections.  While I’ve had a few cross my mind, I just haven’t had the time to sit down and properly develop them.  However, my good friend, Joel Bruerd, sent these thoughts out this afternoon and they resonated deeply with me.  He was kind enough to let me repost them here…I hope you’ll take a few moments to let our unseen God speak to you…

“Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace, goodwill to all.”

Here is a slice of an idea…  (no, it’s not a volcano)


Last night I was up to my elbows in oil-y pastels exercising the right side of my brain.  It’s a relatively easy art-form.  For those whose last art class was as a teenager, pastels make a nice re-entry medium for impressionistic sorts of smudges.  Blobs, shapes and smears seem to be the most fun so far.  One drawback is that the colors don’t mix well.
That’s what photoshop is for.

Christmas this year has impressed me with a particular thought and I’ve tried to capture part of the idea with art.  My imagination can run but here’s the thought. Read the rest of this entry »

Where in the World…

December 20, 2008

carmen-12…is Carmen Sandiego?  that show used to be one of my favorite shows growing up, particularly due to Rockapella’s compelling outro (for an amazing flashback to the past, go here…unbelievable mullet, ridiculous suspenders, and so much more).


over the last couple years i’ve had the opportunity to develop materials that give a birds-eye view of a myriad of social justice issues that are out there, but that we are often largely oblivious to.  i’ve presented these in a few different formats, including overnight retreats called “world immersion experiences” and also 1-3 hour seminars called “being worldly.”  one piece of these presentations has addressed the fact that most of us know very little about world geography.  and if we don’t know where a country is located, it makes it much less likely that we’ll care what’s happening in that country. Read the rest of this entry »

poverty of love

December 19, 2008

From Josh Reid @ Barclay Press:

“The overwhelming nature of the world’s needs too often paralyzes the church—and so we do nothing. We see that a meal, a haircut, and a warm sleeping bag are really not changing any of the underlying causes of peoples’ hardships—and so we do nothing. When we act this way we reduce poverty to something that can only be measured in dollars and we objectify people by reducing them to a problem. Read the rest of this entry »

Current Series: Christmas Conundrums

December 18, 2008

my friend, Andy Jack (who has since shut down his blog), gave me an idea in November for a December series.  so toward the end of last month i asked students for any questions they had about Christmas…no topic off limits.  from there we (my interns & i) sorted the questions into  4 general categories & have used them for the basis of our lessons this month.  week one i did a lesson i called “the myth of the nativity,” all about the things that we believe to be true about the Christmas story that aren’t.  week two was “the real meaning of Christmas?” talking about how the holiday has evolved over the years and where the traditions we use to celebrate it have come from.  week three, Chrissy is leading a lesson on Mary.  and on week four i’ll be doing a lesson on the wise men (which is appropriately falling after Christmas).  

it’s been a lot of fun researching each lesson and learning a lot about Christmas along the way.  i had no idea how much i didn’t know.  which seems like a constant lesson i’m learning these days…i have no idea how much i don’t know.  it’s somewhere in the category of a lot.  or more.  but after being out of formal education for going on 5 years, i’m really enjoying researching, studying, and pursuing a variety of topics, from the nativity story to world geography to adolescent development.

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