Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Some great pictures by an amateur photographer living in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, the city of my childhood.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Accidental world

A Baha'i friend and I recently met for dinner at an Indian restaurant, with a buffet straight from Vedic heaven. We talked about all the turmoil in the world and how we might, in some small way, mollify some of the pain and conflict around us. Most of the Baha'i faithful work for world peace. My friend supports the United Nations financially and believes that disputes between nations will one day achieve pacifism.

There are many reasons why I do not believe complete unity between nations will ever be possible; I could discuss theories of human nature and emphasize the inherent traits of greed and corruption and revenge and lust. Or I could make my point by addressing the limitations of living in a broken world of famine and drought and the innate drive toward self-preservation when one is threatened with extiction. I could make my case using Scripture, pointing to verses about the poor always being with us and reapers sowing and brothers against brothers.

My Baha'i friend believes that if the people of the nations somehow were able to really know the other, that this level of intimacy and understanding would solve most discord. Knowing is loving.

But I want to talk about accidents.

Suppose my Baha'i friend asked me to pick up his grandchildren from the airport. God forbid, but suppose, caught up in conversation, I missed the red light and his grandchildren were stripped from him. My friend then finds himself at a crossroads. Does he forgive and embrace me and we continue our friendship, or does he seek restitution, or even revenge?

Assume my friend chooses to 1) forgive me. Is it possible to return to the former level of intimacy? Or will the pain of loss prevent my friend from sharing the part of him that is so necessary for the transparency of friendship? Or perhaps my friend 2) cannot forgive me and breaks fellowship? Or maybe he now 3) hates me and seeks my destruction?

I assert that the loss due to accidental misfortune creates an impenetrable wall of sorrow. I further assert that this sorrow can only be consoled from without by He who heals. Therefore, it is only He-who-heals who can unite daughter with mother, son with father, brother with brother, wife with husband.

The greatest contribution I can make toward the reconciliation of the sorrowful is to remain receptive and vulnerable to the touch of He-who-heals.

"Blessed are the peacemakers."
"If you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one."

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Quantum Physics and Spirituality III

At the risk of being tiresome, I am going to briefly summarize the physics topics covered each week so that we will remain on the same page. Or you can skip to the conclusions that we reached during the discussion by skimming down to the appropriately named heading - conclusions.

Last Thursday our DVD series covered the problems surrounding the calculation of the speed of light. (Not the speed it travels, but it’s relative speed.) Physicists at the close of the century struggled to determine what the speed of light could be measured against. Anyone who has taken an introduction to physics course knows that objects can only be said to be in motion relative to another object. The earth is in motion relative to the sun and other planets, a car is motion relative to the earth, a tennis ball is in motion realtive to the tennis court and the player, etc. But what is the motion of light relative to?

Aether(ether), theorized the physicists. Something must exist everywhere, on the earth as well as in the great vastness of space, that is static. Something that light is moving relative to. Otherwise light does not adhere to Newton's laws of motion. Therefore, physicists said, a substance - which they called ether - must exists. An invisible, unmoving substance surrounding all that is.

This theory held until Einstein sent physicists scurrying back to chalkboards around the world. That's next.

About half the group did not show up as Doug was away at a conference and, unfortunate as it may be, there is no discussion without Doug. At least not yet. Those of us who did show up fumbled with some of the ideas, but the discussion quickly came to an end, as George Costanza would say, "... of it's own volition." And so, as we await the return of author, speaker, pastor, blogger, physics discussion leader Doug Pagitt, I will address the comments of a certain Jon P., prognosticator extraordinaire.

Jon questions the scope of our knowledge compared to the knowledge of God. He also questions if more knowledge equals more love. (I hope I am representing his position correctly.) I agree with Jon that our knowledge is nothing more than a whisp of quickly evaporating smoke in comparison to the knowledge of God. God, claiming to be the basis of all knowledge, dissiminates such knowledge at his discretion and pleasure.

Jon and I are in agreement that more knowledge does not equal more love. I may pursue countless PhD's without ever gaining the knowledge, or love, of a child (or a mentally retarded person).

But our physics discussion does not aspire to acquire more knowledge, rather we hope to see hidden things anew by attempting to shift our starting-point.

We all have a starting-point. This starting-point - the intellectual, spiritual and emotional pad from which we launch - influences our praxis, that unreflective, habitual way of behaving. We engage the world, others and God based on this starting-point. Our behaviors spring from it. The very actions we put into practice in the act of loving God are based on it. If our starting point, for example, is justification by faith alone, we engage the world accordingly. If our starting point is tradition and iconoclasm, we act upon the world differently as well.

What is your starting-point?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Literary Journey

I spend my days looking for God in books. One of the first books that I can remember reading that impacted me was Holy Sweat, by Tim Hansel. I came across it recently and couldn't get past the first few pages. Here is a short list, in semi-chronological order, of the books that have led me to how I see God today.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
Lessons from a Sheepdog, by Philip Keller
The Normal Christian Life, by Watchman Nee
Walk Across America, by Peter Jenkins
The Walk West, by Peter Jenkins
How Should we then Live?, by Francis Schaeffer
Money and Power, by Jacques Ellul
The Jesus I never Knew, by Phillip Yancey
Heaven - Your Real Home, by Joni Eareckson Tada
The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Portofino and Saving Grandma, by Frank Schaeffer
The Mars Hill Review - (postmodernism issue), Mars Hill Review
The Sacred Romance, by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge
Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Marie Rilke
Of Human Bondage, by W. Somerset Maugham
Traveling Mercies, by Anne Lamott
Saints and Villians, by Denise Giardina
The Existentialist Posture, by Roger Shinn
Ways of Seeing, by John Berger
I and Thou, by Martin Buber
God in Search of Man, by Abraham Joshua Heschel
Is it Righteous to Be?, by Emmanuel Levinas
The Mystery of Being: Reflection and Mystery, by Gabriel Marcel
Waiting for God, by Simone Weil
Three Outsiders, by Diogenes Allen
Life with Picasso, by Francoise Gilot
A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
Hey Nostradamus!, by Douglas Coupland
When the Heart Waits, by Sue Monk Kidd
The Source of Life, by Jurgen Moltmann
The Conflict of Interpretations, by Paul Ricoeur
The Fratricides, by Nikos Kazantzakis
Silence, by Shusaku Endo
A Soldier of the Great War, by Mark Helprin
The Art of Listening, by Neil Pembroke
Malccolm Muggeridge: A Biography, by Gregory Wolfe
Jesus: The Man Who Lives and Jesus Rediscovered, by Malcolm Muggeridge
My Name is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok
Lost in the Cosmos, by Walker Percy
A Tragic Sense of Life, by Miguel de Unamuno
The Resurrection of the Son of God, by N.T. Wright

I am currently spending my evenings reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and The Complete Jewish Bible, a very interesting translation by David Stern.

Any suggestions?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Quantum Physics and Spirituality II

This afternoon Annie and I took Silvi to the park for her first solo on the swings. She loved it; her face broke into a huge smile each time the swing reached its apex and she experienced that brief moment of weightlessness.

Silvi was completely unaware of the physics involved during her time on the swings. She didn’t realize that she was proving Newton’s theory that the natural state of an object is to remain at rest unless acted upon by a force. Nor did she understand the reason she didn’t float off into space was due to the pull of the huge ball we call earth beneath her. She also didn’t realize that each time she passed close to the earth that she, too, was pulling this “ball” toward her, however slightly.

She just giggled and smiled her gummy smile.

I, on the other hand, understood at least the basics of the physics involved in the movement of her swing. Which brings me to my question: How did my comprehension of the physics involved in the operation of the swing influence my interpretation of that gummy smile?

We watched two more parts of the physics series at Doug Pagitt’s home last Thursday night; about a dozen of us, most in our late 20’s to mid-30’s crammed into his living room to watch a DVD of a professor walk us through the foundations of Classical Physics. We haven’t begun our study of quantum physics yet, as it is important to grasp the basic principles first.

Doug began the night by summarizing the purpose of the discussion. (I’ll paraphrase to the best of my recollection.) “There have been three major paradigm shifts in thinking and speaking about the cosmos. The first was formulated by Aristotle; his theories about the division of the heavens and the earth was the prevailing view of the universe until Newton provided a largely accurate description of the movement of planets and all objects on the earth. These scientific “laws” ruled until Einstein and his “Theory of Relativity.”

“The way we see our world influences the way we see, and speak about God. As science changes, so does our theological view and language. Because of Aristotle’s influence, the Church spoke of the God “up in the heavens” and humans “down here on the earth.” With Newton, the Church began to speak of the God of order, the God of absolute “laws,” and the clockwork universe."

"Einstein shattered this mechanistic view of the cosmos with his theories of relativity, and people’s perception of their place in the universe shifted once again. The Church however, has been slow to reconcile with these new findings, and continues to use Newtonian concepts to speak of God and the world.”

“The findings and language of quantum physics are poised to address the spiritual questions being asked today.”

That brings me back to my question: How does my understanding of the cosmos influence my relationships with those I love? My wife? My daughter? My God? If I had an Aristotelian view of the world, would I have interpreted my time with my daughter differently? If I had lived under the strict influence of Newton, would Silvi’s gummy smile have struck me more one way than another?

How much is my love for God influenced by my view of how the world works? And can I grow in my love for Him, and others, by studying quantum physics? Time will tell. Unless it’s all just relative.

Friday, October 07, 2005


A problem is something which I meet, which I find completely before me, but which I can therefore lay siege to and reduce.

But a mystery is something in which I am myself involved.
Gabriel Marcel

Friday, September 30, 2005

Quantum Physics and Spirituality

Last night was the first of an eight-week discussion on Quantum Physics and Spirituality, hosted by Doug Pagitt, pastor of Solomon's Porch. We met at his home to watch the first two episodes of a 24-part series on Quantum Physics, then discussed how this revolution in science might help us to better understand God.

Pagitt's premise is that we (the Church) use too many incorrect metaphors to explain the universe and spiritual matters. Most of the Church continues to use Aristotelian or Newtonian language when speaking of God. These ways of talking about God convey the idea of a mechanical universe, one that can be figured out, a world that is static, controllable. Pagitt purports that the language of Quantum Physics is a better method of communicating the relationship between the world and the heavens.

I'll post more on this later.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Movie star

Another very busy week of shooting. A company has hired us to recreate scenes from famous movies, starring some of the executives. Today we shot the President of this company with money to burn dressed as the Gladiator against a blue screen. I can't get the sight of his white, knobby knees out of my head. Tomorrow is the CEO as The Godfather; thursday is John Wayne and then "Doc Brown" from Back to the Future. We've rented a Delorean for that shoot. Austin Powers and The Men in Black round out this extraveganza.

I've always wanted to shoot movies.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


These are the tickets of Silvi's first "official" concert. The concert was much better than I expected; lead singer Chris Martin sang in front of a huge video display, and the light show was flawless. They played all of Annie and my favorites, and Silvi was completely awed by the lights and 20,000 Minnesotans losing their usual Scandanavian reservedness. Silvi was the only baby we saw there, and stole the show. So many people stopped to play with her or yelled as they walked by, "First concert? All right!" We had some small earplugs for her, and they were very needed as it was deafening. She eventually just rested her head on my shoulder and let the sleep take over. Too bad she won't remember any of it. We took pictures, which I'll post later.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Garrison Keillor

Last night we introduced Silvi to the spokesman of all things Minnesota, Garrison Keillor. He was reading from his new book, an anthology of his favorite poems, and read his excellent introduction to the book. I was encouraged to hear him say that it is still quite hard for him to write, that he still has to sweat his way through the process. It seems to come so naturally to him. Catch the audio from last night on MPR radio's live webcasts.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


"Theology is supposed to be the study of the fire and light that burn at the center of the world. Theologians have reduced it to the turning of pages in a catalog of ideas — a kind of butterfly collection for the mind.

As soon as we regard God from without as a mere object of knowledge, or a mere occasion for speculative study, without freshness of heart and the unrest of love, then all is over, and we have in our hands nothing but a phantom and an idol."

Hans urs von Balthasar

"Lovers are the ones who know most about God; the theologian must listen to them. Love must possess the innermost heart of man and must then 'reorganise' him. Man is then able to be a fragrance of Christ in the world."

Hans urs von Balthasar

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Back to "normal"

Our family get together is over, and we're just kind of taking it easy. We were so busy last week: concerts in the park almost every night, including an excellent Irish festival, swimming, amusement park, museum, and playing with the kids. Wore me out. Coming back to work was hard, as it always is after so much freedom and fun.

We have a long shoot tomorrow, followed by some boating and jet skiing on saturday at my bosses house. Last year I messed up one of his jet skis; let's see how it goes this year.

I'm spending the evenings working on making my documentary series a reality. I now have a website (www.narrowridge.com), although there's not much to it right now. I hope to begin shooting this two-hour series next summer. It'll take all winter to write them. Then there's raising some money. But one thing at a time.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Pollack, meet Allen

WOODY ALLEN: That's quite a lovely Jackson Pollock, isn't it?

GIRL IN MUSEUM: Yes it is.

WOODY ALLEN: What does it say to you?

GIRL IN MUSEUM: It restates the negativeness of the universe, the hideous lonely emptiness of existence, nothingness, the predicament of man forced to live in a barren, godless eternity, like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void, with nothing but waste, horror, and degradation, forming a useless bleak straightjacket in a black absurd cosmos.

WOODY ALLEN: What are you doing Saturday night?

GIRL IN MUSEUM: Committing suicide.

WOODY ALLEN: What about Friday night?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Our neighborhood

After all the unpacking we've been doing, we took most of last night off and walked down to the water, where a local rock band was doing some decent covers of eighties favorites. Tons of people out, enjoying the night at the Lake Harriet Bandshell, swimming, feeding the ducks or taking advantage of the breeze in their sailboats. We really like our neighborhood; getting kicked out of the last place was definitely a good thing.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The next ex-family car

Our transmission blew on our "new" Passat. Four months. Our third car in 12 months. I loved that car. Sure, it had some quirks. Annie hated it. Maybe it sensed that. But I thought I looked pretty cool driving it, aside from the sweat streaming down my non-air conditioned face. And so we look for the next ex-Tom, Annie and Silvi family car. In the words of Jurassic Park's Ian Malcolm, "I'm always on the lookout for the next ex-Mrs. Malcolm."

Monday, August 01, 2005

Where is...

There's a scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark that captures how it feels trying to find a shaving razor on Monday morning when you've just moved and you're late for work.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Moved in

I'm not sure how many muscles there are in the human body, but I feel every one of them. Thirteen hours, a muggy 90 degree day, moving out of a third-story apartment - I needn't say more. I'm at our new coffee shop around the corner on a beautiful August morning with Annie and Silvi, and we are so happy to be here. The move, though exhausting, went off without any major problems. We had the help of Jon P. (thanks - how are the arms? King size bed anyone?) and a guy I had only met once, Dan G. A friend of the Halls, he came through when my not-so-fit body nearly called it quits for the day. He saved the day, running up and down the three flights of stairs.

So we're home, the cat is exploring every new corner, and we're feel like this is somewhere that we can stay for a long time. At least a year or two.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

New apartment

(click map to enlarge)

We filled out an application for a new apartment (here). We find out later this week if we have been accepted. We are moving to a very nice community called Linden Hills, only a few blocks from the water. Although the apartment is a little small and lacks the charm of our old apartment, it's clean, a two-bedroom, and steps from nice shops, cafes, bookstores, and the beach. We haven't started packing yet, and we move on saturday. I want to back a pickup truck up to our third-story window and dump everything into it. Annie is not excited about that idea.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Let chaos reign

We're moving sooner than we expected. We have to find an apartment in the next nine days. I suppose if NASA can launch the space shuttle on schedule, we should be able to find a two bedroom flat quickly. Oh, wait...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

We never met

One of the great evils:

"The loneliness of modern man before men whom he associates with but does not meet."

Yesterday one of the staff at my company who has worked here for nearly five years quit. He and my boss got into a heated conversation where the employee lost his cool, packed his stuff and his leather chair and walked out the door, throwing his keys on the table.

I followed him into the parking lot, hoping to dissuade him, but his mind was set.

We all work in separate offices. Most of the time our doors are closed, and it is possible to go all day without talking to another person. I have worked here two years and have not been in everyone's office. We have a staff of nine. I don't know most of my co-worker's last names, nor do they mine.

Five years. I barely knew this 50-year-old man, but I liked him. No one else tried to stop him from leaving. Not the two guys in the offices next to his who had worked beside him for those five years. Not the office manager who had daily contact with him.

They all just let him walk out the door, then resumed their routines.

The tragedy is that most spend their whole lives amongst those they never meet.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Get out

They knocked on our door at nine in the evening with a piece of paper telling us that our building has been sold and we need to find a new home. They are turning our apartment into condominuims, for sale to the highest bidder. And so we are homeless, again. We have some time to look for a new place, but that is not the point. We like our home. Our coffee shop. Our evening walk. Our park. Our worthless video store on the corner. Our chinese take-out restaurant.

The home of our first born.

We'll find a new home but, man, am I tired of moving.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Lightning storm

Last night we witnessed an incredible lightning storm. For nearly an hour, the skies over Minneapolis raged with fire in every direction. Silvi, her eyes open wide, sat on my lap in our darkened apartment and we watched as Thor, god of thunder, sought to set the earth aflame.

Novel and documentary series

One thing about my personality that I wish I could change is the propensity to work in bursts rather than consistently and steadily. I continue to doubt my will to finish my novel. I keep getting sidetracked on other projects I want to work on, like the documentary series I recently outlined called "Along the Narrow Ridge." It is a six part series that examines the philosophy and ethics of Martin Buber, Emmanuel Levinas, Gabriel Marcel and possibly Kierkegaard, although perhaps just briefly. Much has been written about Kierkegaard already, but maybe there is room for my perspective.

Commitment to these projects demands faith. Faith is all too often quenched by debilitating fear.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Quiet summer days

Life is quiet right now. Work has slowed way down. Installing upgrades and learning to use the new programs Motion and Soundtrack Pro. Playing alot with Silvi. Took her over to the park last night until the birds we call mosquitos chased us inside. She is a happy baby, and brings so much light to our home.

This weekend we'll spend time with both families. Maybe go swimming again. Silvi loved the pool when we took her last week. Just a quiet summer week.

Things about me

1. Orange button-up plaid shirt
2. Blue jeans
3. Black Skechers

1. Apple G5 Computer with Final Cut 5.0/After Effects/Motion/Soundtrack Pro etc.
2. Glass of water
3. Lots of BetaSP tapes


1. Live in Paris
2. Read The Brother's Karamazov
3. Write a novel
4. Direct a film
5. Create a philosophical documentary series (ok, that's five things)

1. Good listener (What?)
2. Able to empathize easily (Get over it.)
3. Laid back (Homer Simpson is my hero)

1. Anti-social (Get away from me.)
2. Too Intense (Tell me about your relationship with your mother.)
3. Not laid back enough (Gotta' change the world.)


1. Norwegian (or Swedish, depending on when the borders were moved)
2. Scottish
3. English (Maybe a little French in there too, according to Mom)

1. I was voted most artistic in my senior class
2. I've gone scuba diving at night
3. I've seen Caro Diario more than a dozen times.

1. Shite! (without the Irish accent)
2. Yes, Fred. (My boss)
3. Hey Anne, how's the wee one?!

THREE PLACES I WANT TO GO (that I haven't already been to)
1. Buenos Aires
2. Berlin
3. Rome

1. Uhh, uhh, gaaaa, uhh (Silvi calling me)
2. Babe
3. Tomas, no mas


1. Narrow Ridge
2. Blackstable
3. Encounters on the Ridge

1. An editing studio and camera gear at home
2. My own private theology and philosophy library
3. A brand new 2005 black VW Passat
4. More babies like Silvi

1. Annie
2. Pizza
3. Silvi after her bath
4. New Car smell (which I rarley experience)

1. Annie
2. Silvi
3. My family (that should keep everyone happy)

1. Speedos (hold the applause, please)
2. Cowboy boots
3. Bicycle shorts
4. A bow tie

1. Come on, five o'clock!!
2. Is my car going to make it home?
3. I should be editing, but I'm blogging.
4. What's on the tube tonight?

1. Came here to work
2. Ate a turkey sandwich on wheat at Einstein Bros. Bagels
3. Went to Borders bookstore
4. Played with Silvi for a few minutes before heading to hated job

1. Diapers
2. A couple of books
3. A techno CD for Anne
4. Tickets to see Coldplay (Anne actually paid for them)


1. Annie
2. Silvi
3. My family
4. My friends (that about covers everyone, eh?)

1. Rage Against the Machine (favorite band)
2. Bee Gees
3. Techno and Electronica
4. Patrick Bruel (French pop singer)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The passion of Nietzche

I received a gift certificate to a bookstore for Father's Day and spent a few hours trying to find a good book on the life of Jesus. There was no shortage of books, from Just give me Jesus by Anne Graham Lotz (Billy Graham's daughter) to This Hebrew Lord by liberal John Shelby Spong. As I wandered past book after book, I got more and more frustrated. Surely there was one book that spoke my language, the language of Miguel de Unamuno and Kazantzakis and Nietzche.

I don't want to read another book about atonement or justification. I don't want to hear about the historical accuracy of the synoptic gospels. I don't want to read more about Jesus the Berkeley feminist or Jesus the champion of the Nicaraguan Sandinistas. I don't want Jesus Freaks, The Jesus I Never Knew, Jesus CEO, or to Experince the Heart of Jesus.

Jesus of the suburbs. The suburbs are killing us.

I have yet to find a book with the same intensity of the gospels. Shusaku Endo's A Life of Jesus comes close.

Depressed and beaten, I reluctantly settled for N.T. Wright's Following Jesus. I respect and admire N.T. Wright and his sermons are alive and full of passion. I also bought a copy of Nietzche's classic, Beyond Good and Evil. A much-needed mirror to keep the suburbs at bay.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Baha'i documentary

I'm editing a documentary about the Baha'i faith today with one of the sons of a Hand of the Cause of God. He (Ramin) flew in from London for this edit session to finish up a two-hour documentary on the history of their disciples. In their faith, Ramin is like one of Matthew, Mark or Luke's sons.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Last night Annie and Silvi went to a wedding shower, so I was left on my own for the first time since Silvi was born. I wandered around a bookstore in Uptown and caught the Hungarian film Kontroll.

The entire film is shot in the subways of Budapest, where the main character rides the trains, ensuring that the passengers have their tickets. It is often a dangerous job and he is yelled at and beaten regularly. We find out that the main character is in fact hiding from life in the dark tunnels, where he has taken to sleeping on the dirty concrete floor. His salvation comes in the form of a young girl dressed in a pink teddy bear suit, who guides him back toward the light of the surface world.

I didn't enjoy the film; it is too dark and depressing. I did appreciate it, though. I read that this first time director had a very limited budget, and he was able to use what he had to craft a powerful story. I hope he continues to make films.

Refuge by Tom

The Seers are gone. The Guardians have vanished. The Shepherds have been devoured by the wolves, and their blood soaks the ground. Those who seek to replace them offer no refuge, no place to rest a weary head. They offer only solutions to problems.

I am not a problem. I am a Mystery. Do not try to give me a Name. Only One knows my true Name.

I wander in search of sanctuary. A refuge. You lay stone upon stone yet cannot build a home.

I wander in seach of home.

Monday, June 13, 2005


I've finished five chapters of my novel. The themes of my book spring from an experience I had in Seattle a few years ago, working for a charismatic Christian organization. I let the novel sit for a bit, and reread it today over lunch. I was suprised how much I enjoyed it.

I still cannot fathom any kind of market for this book, but I do enjoy the process and my wife likes it. (At least she says she does.) Twenty or so more chapters to go.

A few of the themes are: How do we engage others? How does God respond to prayer? What happens when we begin to open ourselves to those around us? One of the central themes deals with how we often require that which we struggle to give.

And so, between diaper changes and corporate videos, I'm going to try to finish up this autobiographical, self-aware, and painful cliche' of a first novel.

Then I can move on to the second, less autobiographical, less self-aware and not-so-painful cliche' of a second novel.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Shots and dead birds

We took Silvi for her shots last night. Four of them. I don't think I'll ever forget the look in Silvi's eyes when the two nurses simultaneously pierced her fragile, beautiful skin. Annie and I each held a hand. Her fingers are so small. She was nervous about being held down. As the needles reached their mark, her look of suprise seemed tinged with betrayal. Then sorrow. I, a helpless father, had to betray my daughter. This is where the seeds of distrust are born.

On the drive home, Silvi asleep from exhaustion, I hit a bird and killed it. Two birds, flying together, tried to make it in front of the car. A moment of hesitation by one bird, and then the other was alone.

Some days are just sad, you know?

Dams of Heaven by Tom

When the dams of heaven burst, will you still venture into the night, into the torrent, to follow that small voice calling from the edge of the storm?

As the waters rise, push on. Follow the sound of His voice. He won't stop calling your name.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Back in the game

I played soccer during my teens in southern Florida. Those afternoon practices were so hot that I prayed to be benched during scrimmages. Inevitably, the coach would signal for me to get back in the game, and I would peel myself off the hot aluminum bench to stammer back out onto the field.

That's kind of what it's like to go back to work after a vacation.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


We had a great time away. Our first vacation with Silvi. We picked a fantastic hotel overlooking Lake Superior, with views of beautiful sunrises over the water each morning. The first day was so foggy that we literally could not see more than a few feet in front of the car. We drove around the bluffs, exploring what we could. The next day was gorgeous, sunny and warm. We kicked back on a boat ride along the coast, where we were dwarfed by the huge ocean freighters from all over the world. Silvi slept on my lap, the wind blowing her hair that is always sticking straight up. She wasn't too impressed with her first boat ride.

We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting down by the water and wandering through bookstores and eating ice cream. We capped the day off at an Omni Theater showing of the Mysteries of the Nile, where Silvi sat and watched wide-eyed. Sometimes, when I swing Silvi a little too high, she throws her hands out to stabilize herself. She did that a few times during some of the helicopter shots. I'm just glad she didn't get sick.

It was one of the best times we've had in a while. We weren't sure in the beginning when the lightning struck the transformer down the street, knocking out our cable tv for an afternoon. But as Trading Spaces suddenly lit our screen, we knew all was well in the world.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

North Shore

We decided to drive up to the North Shore along Lake Superior and play at a water park (if it will stop raining). We've booked a room with a balcony overlooking the small beach, and are just going to swim in the pool and eat and watch some cable tv and eat some more.

See you in a few...

Friday, June 03, 2005

I am Free by Tom

by Tom

I am bound. Yet I am free.

I am a lowly slave. Yet I am free.

I am a drowning debtor. Yet I am free.

I am weak and I am powerless. Yet I am free.

I am a small link in a very heavy chain. Yet I am free.

Come, you enslaver, you idolater, you chain-maker, you greed monger.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Packin' it in

It's 10pm and I'm waiting for a graphic to render. Then I'm heading home. Thirteen hours in front of a computer is enough for one day. Two more long days then a four-day weekend. Trying to figure out where to go with Anne and Silvi. Corn fields to the west, wheat fields to the east, Iowa to the south and wilderness to the north. Chicago just out of reach for a two-month-old.


Cain and Abel by Tom

What furious hunger compels us to try to find a synthesis between two irreducible opposites! We are consumed with winning both this earthly life and the Kingdom of the horizon. Flesh and bone and spirit in bloody battle.

Cain fighting with Abel.

This earthly life of pigs and dust and weeping mothers cannot be reconciled with the world of angels and devils and gods born of virgins.

Rest. One is coming who will shatter the divide between earth and heaven. And Cain will feast with Abel.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The verdict is...

Right now the client is in with my boss, watching the video I spent all weekend editing. I rarely watch the finished product with the client; some kind of client relationship thing.

So I'm sitting here, blogging and biting my nails, listening to the program next door. And the verdict is...?

[Updated] Our parking lot looked like a Lexus dealership as the President and Ceo and all the other upper management crowded into the viewing room. I could hear the video next door, and heard them laugh when they were supposed to laugh and cry when they were supposed to cry (well, maybe not cry.) Anyway, they liked it. A few minor changes last night and cut it to a DVD. It'll be shown to a group of 400 tonight.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Reality tv

I find that one of the hardest things for me to do when I'm creating a video is to leave my ego and own way of doing things behind. This short historical program that I've been editing has created some tension between my boss and me. I've been trying to make a real dramatic piece, and he is always asking me to tone the mood down. Less dramatic, more "corporate."

Yesterday I caught a few mintues of a PGA golf tournament and one of their human interest stories and realized that my boss was right. The two-billion dollar corporation I'm creating this program for doesn't want the history of their company portrayed as it really was (I'm having to airbrush out some employees pictures who made problems). They want a glossy showpiece to motivate and inspire, without the dirt.

And so I will give them what they want. They are my client and they should get what they pay for. The world doesn't want the truth. And I have to admit; it makes my editing alot easier.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Saturday at work

Saturday morning. I'm editing a historical documentary for one company and another video for a trade show. A little overwhelmed. Pablo P. said that boundaries are the playground of creativity. I don't think he ever worked in the corporate world.

Back to it.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Chained to the desk

The perfect storm. Projects all due on the same day. Enjoy your hamburgers and your bratwursts. Remember me as I sit in the cave of editing Inferno. Save me a hot dog.


I've got yet another addiction. Silvi has really been responding to my voice the last two weeks, giving me huge smiles when she hears me call her name.

I'm addicted to those smiles. More powerful than a line of coke or slice of strawberry cheesecake. Now I understand why parents will humiliate themselves to no end; they're chasing the smile.

I've got to have my morning fix.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Rainy, cold weekend

Annie and I have been hanging out in the house all day, playing with Silvi and watching movies. In addition to the Metallica documentary, we watched "National Treasure" with Nicolas Cage. Not his best film, but entertaining for a rainy saturday afternoon. If you're in the mood for a Cage film, though, I would recommend "Amos and Andrew."


"Some people will believe anything if you whisper it to them," says Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno.

A whisper is intimate.

It requires that your mouth be next to the ear of the other. Close enough to smell the other, to see the beautiful imperfections that make her human. A whisper requires one person to be still, to allow the other's muted words to float in the silence.

A whisper requires trust.

Trust to allow the other to penetrate sacred space. To chance an embrace.

Walk with me, weary traveler, to stand next to Elijah on that holy mountain, and listen to the whisper of God.

Monday, May 09, 2005


"Love seeks with fury, through the medium of the
beloved, something beyond, and since it finds it not, it

Miguel de Unamuno

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Spring fever

Wicked busy day. Everyone in a foul mood. TV commercials are late. Radio spots are missing. CD training project is two weeks behind schedule.

I just want to go for a walk around the lake.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Maria and Michael Moore

Michael Moore needs to learn something from first-time director Joshua Marston. I watched Maria Full of Grace last night, and was impressed with Marston's careful handling of such a sensitive subject as the drug war. Marston graduated with a degree in Politial Science, and could have easily made a preachy, in-your-face anti-American drug policy film. What he created instead was a subversive story that slowly seeps in and changes you without your being aware of it. He gets you to lower your defences enough for his message to be remarkably effective.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Failed to summit

Annie and I failed to summit Mt. Everest yesterday. The first trip to the mall with Silvi. We thought we were prepared. We had all the gear: Diapers? Check. Wipes? Check. Little hat? Check. Emergency flask of Jack Daniels for dad? Check.

We had trained for this day. Last week, we climbed El Capitan, with an outing to a French coffee shop. It was a flawless evening out. Silvi slept, well, like a baby. Annie and I thought we could go anywhere. We were ready for Mt. Everest. And we nearly perished.

It was that blasted little hat. As Silvi sat in her car seat, riding backwards, that little hat worked itself down over her eyes. And she absolutely hates that. From our angle, we couldn't figure out Silvi's frustration, so we continued to climb, hoping she would eventually fall asleep. That was not the case. We finally pulled over to calm her piercing shrieks, where we discovered her wicked hat. Exhausted, we got drive thru at McD's and headed back to base camp. Maybe next weekend.

Or the one after that.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Sing your song

" We were all born to sing - let not the contrary be said. But it is not a question of being born for the purpose. The fact is that whoever was really born in spirit, and not only in the flesh, sings, and sings because he was born in the spirit; if he does not sing, it is because he was born only in the flesh."
Miguel de Unamuno

How are you going to sing your song, in flesh and in spirit, today?

A Dad

How glad I am to be a dad.
Glad to sit and read to little Silvi, her blue eyes searching for the voice reading The Power of One to her in the darkness.

How sad I am to be a dad.
Sad to hear my daughter cry, while I - helpless - can only rock her and whisper that the sun will soon return.

How glad I am to be a dad. How sad I am to be a dad. Mostly, glad.

Friday, April 22, 2005


I've been reading Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno between diaper changes and making up very cheesy songs for my daughter. He frustrated many of his readers because he usually refused to reach final conclusions. He defied labels. He saw himself as someone full of contradiction, as one who said one thing with his heart and the contrary with his head. For him, this internal conflict was the very stuff of life.

I'm still trying to figure out what God meant when he said to come to him, that he would give us rest. I believe that it is possible to live in the tension of contradiction and be at rest at the same time, but because of our nature, we swing from one extreme to the other. This conflict, says de Unamuno, unifies our lives and gives it its practical purpose.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The wrong questions

I live in an age of wrong questions. Everywhere I turn, it seems those in charge are asking the wrong questions. Abraham Joshua Herschel says that philosophy may be defined as the art of asking the right questions. So what are the right questions when it comes to talking about community, about what it means to be the Church?

I'm more than a little hesitant about addressing topics like community and the Church. They're being talked about everywhere. The reason I feel like I want give my two cents is this: None of the answers that are in abundant supply in countless books, sermons, blogs, and websites answer the questions I am asking.

Can I trust you? Will you trust me?

There's a reason not many are addressing these questions. It's much easier to discuss theology, form and function, worship techniques. And those who do address the questions I am asking often provide ethereal, fluffy answers that don't touch me in my day-to-day life. I've got a little too much Charles Sanders Peirce in me to embrace Thomas Merton. I've got too much Merton in me to embrace Francis Schaeffer. I've got too much Schaeffer in me to embrace Jacques Derrida. And I've got too much Derrida in me to embrace, well, anything.

I hate my questions. So, touchy-feely. So, narcissistic. I want to be satisfied with sitting around talking about things like perichoresis and interpenetration and postfoundationalism. But I'm not. At least not right now. As the Church struggles to redefine itself, I, a branch on the vine, ask: Can I trust you? You, sitting next to me on the pew, on the thrift store couch, across from me in the coffee shop: Can I trust you? Do you trust me?

Trust is the springboard of love. And love is the greatest witness to our age. But if all this touchy-feely stuff is boring you, we could just talk about a great article that I read on theology and science without dualism.

More wrong questions

I've been sitting here, editing a TV commercial for the Minnesota Better Business Bureau, thinking about my post on trust. The MN Better Business Bureau exists because there is no trust. We need an organization to tell us who is trustworthy and who is not.

Am I trustworthy? Would you find my name in the MN Better Business Bureau guide? Hmmm...Back to editing.

Friday, April 15, 2005

And then there were three

The world looks different at 2 am. Silvi is a night owl, and fights the world from about twelve until two in the morning. She beats her little fists against my chest and has more vocal range than Constantine on American Idol. I introduced her to the animated film The Incredibles last night, although she seemed to be more entertained with the collar of my shirt. Sorry Pixar. My $14.99 shirt swept your $100 million film last night in the 0-to-1-week age range.

I feel like I'm supposed to begin writing about the three areas that I want to engage in this journal, but right now I just want to tell you how awesome my daughter Silvi is. Awesome!

Thursday, April 14, 2005


I now understand why new parents are so anxious to send pictures of their new child; there are no words to capture the experience. My daughter, Silvi, joined Annie and I in the wee hours of Monday morning. She was born through laughter and tears and pain. And pain. So small, so fragile. I'll never forget how startled Silvi looked as she left the body of my beautiful, lovely wife. Annie lost a lot of blood. Silvi fell asleep in my arms as we sat next to beautiful Annie, mother, and the doctors worked for two hours to make her whole again. EdTV, with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, the only program on besides Infomercials, helped the time pass, and reinforced the need for Hollywood to take another long look at itself. You never know when a new mother will need a story to help her through the wee hours of a Monday morning.

I've apologized to Silvi. She looks alot like me. Sorry dear girl. Life is hard enough. Annie and Silvi and I stayed in the hospital through yesterday, and Annie slowly began to feel whole again. Silvi helped. So did family. How amazing it is to watch someone's face transform at the sight of new life. My daughter has created community.

(Pictures, and more pictures, to follow.)

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A hallowed day

In a few hours, on this beautiful Sunday, the beginning of a not-so-ordinary week, we are leaving for the hospital to welcome Silvi into the world. Annie and I are at her parent's home right now, and soon all the family, my parents included, will be here to celebrate and wait until we make the mad dash to the hospital.

It is a hallowed day indeed.

Saturday, April 09, 2005


My wife and I often spend Sunday mornings at a local bakery down the street called the French Meadow. It's a time to catch up, to just be with the other for awhile. The French Meadow is in a neighborhood known as Uptown, an area of Minneapolis that attracts young, urban singles and families, as well as many artists. Sunday mornings are packed, and the latte's are superb.

In a way, this bakery is my "church". My wife and I break bread together, our laughter must be some kind of worship and we often reflect on the preceding week with God. And if, as I believe, we as the Church are called to be some kind of witness to the age, surely the sight of a husband and wife loving each other well must count for something.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Tick, tock

Eyes on the clock, waiting, waiting, waiting...

A life observed

My daughter, Silvi, will be born any minute now. At the risk of being a stereotypical new father, I feel this huge, almost overwhelming, desire to change everything about myself, and the world, to ensure that Silvi is safe and loved. As someone who tries to control the chaos of life, I realize just how much there is that can come between that safety and love. Life is dangerous, and love even more so.

I have chosen to call this journal Narrow Ridge because I believe that I must walk along the narrow ridge in this world. I must live between hope and despair, between certainty and doubt, between laughter and tears, between community and solitude. Truth be told, I am not very good at walking the narrow ridge. It is all too easy for me to slide into a life of despair and doubt and sadness. And solitude.

As my daughter joins our family, I realize that I will live a life observed. Lately, I've been feeling as if I'm about to meet my inlaws for the first time and they will be staying with me for a week. I got rid of all our old coffee mugs because none of them matched. We now have six new matching coffee mugs. I sold half of my books. I took three carloads of clothes and lamps and old furniture to the thrift store. The closets have been straightened, the dishes done, laundry washed, floor swept, carpets vacuumed, and we're buying a new coffee table this week. And I bought a soccer ball to lose the spare tire(s).

None of those things, of course, address the real issue. I want my daughter to look up to me, to respect me, to love me. And there's just so many things about me that are, well, unfinished.

This journal is an attempt to share just a little of a life well-lived along the narrow ridge.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Lazy Saturday

Annie's out with her sisters and mom, drinking bad latte's at Caribou Coffee. I'm lounging around, re-reading parts of Peterson's Subversive Spirituality, listening to Midnight Oil, enjoying the sun filling our living room. Doctors ran tests on Silvi; she'll make her appearance when she's ready. Yesterday was her due date. Kind of glad she won't have to endure an April Fool's day birthday. Especially in grade school.

Back to my lazy Saturday morning.


Some friends I haven't seen in a long time stopped over last night to see Silvi. One of them is in the process of leaving his church of eight years or so. I say in the process because he still enjoys listening to the sermons, but he has no fellowship with the huge congregation.

He attended a conference in Colorado put on by Aussies Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, where they spoke of their book, The Shaping of Things to Come. I'd never heard of the book, but I guess it's stirring the waters. My friend and I talked about it, about incarnational living, about this whole community thing. I enjoyed the conversation, but I woke up feeling very frustrated.

I just want to get there. Wherever there is. I've been actively deconstructing Church for nearly five years, and it is so old. Once, when I lived in Seattle, I spent a few hours sitting overlooking the Puget Sound with a prof. from Mars Hill Grad School. We talked about breaking out of the deconstruction circle. He believes that it is possible to break free, at least enough to find some rest. He said that what's often lacking is someone to come along side of us and say, "Psst. Look over here. Here's a small door you can walk through. And I'll go with you.

I feel like I've been walking through a lot of doors. Which one is the small door?And who will go with me?

But I digress into self-pity again. I just need to serve more, read my Bible more, pray more, be Missional. No, no. I just need to do less, allow God's voice to penetrate the silence, become less and less. Wait, I've done all those things. What's on tv?

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Set up, tear down, set up

It doesn't matter how many shoots I go on, it is always accompanied by the same amount of chaos and panic. Alarm sends the first shot of adrenaline at 6 am, then it's racing through rush hour traffic to a place I've never been before. I'll take a side road. Construction! I'm the one with the cameras. I arrive at the huge corporate complex wide-eyed, trying to find the crew - a needle in a haystack. There they are. Now, where's our contact person?

Scope the shoot site, then unload a van full of lights, cables, moniters, sandbags, tripods, audio gear, reflectors, cameras and refreshments. A three-camera shoot. Miles of cables. Sweating in the cold air. Director pacing nervously, looking at his watch, arguing with the director of photography. I'm adjusting the color temperature on the cameras, trying to get them to all match. The actors are sitting around, saying their lines out loud, adding to the chaos. Thirty minutes over. The director yells, "Five minutes." Sound man messes up my camera. Cameras won't sync up timecode. We'll use a clapper. Lay down 30 seconds of bars and tone. Talent in place; change the lighting one last time.

Hit record.

Record 30 seconds of dialogue. Take one, five, eight.

Tear down all the gear; moving to another location down the hall. Same thing all over again. Five more times today.


Monday, March 28, 2005

B.C. (Before Child)

This is the last week of my life that I will be known as Tom: husband, son, brother. This time next week, I will be Tom: husband, son, brother - Father. It hit me yesterday morning when I woke to see the newly assembled crib sitting in the corner, the sheets folded, waiting for my daughter's arrival.

Today is just another monday; what will next monday look like as - Father? What will I see that I don't see today?

I am ready to be: Father. I can't wait to be: Dad.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Easter without guilt

Annie and I have been talking off and on about how we want to celebrate Easter this year. We don't go to church, so that's not really an option. Easter, it seems to me, is about two things: celebration and rememberance. The celebration is taken care of; lots of food and games and movies and laughter with parents and siblings.

Rememberance is a little harder for me. At least being purposeful about it. It's just so much pressure: Sunday I have to contemplate what the resurrection means to me. I'm supposed to be serious and really feel the enormity of what Christ did for me on the cross. When I did go to church, which wasn't often, I never felt like I was doing Easter "right." I wasn't appreciative enough, or thankful enough, or contrite enough. Everyone around me always seemed just a little more thankful for what our Lord did for us over 2000 years ago.

I'm thankful. At lunch, on this first true week of spring, I was driving down the freeway (ignoring that rattle in the engine) with the sunroof open, listening to the Indigo Girls sing about being "free in you." I starting thinking about God and His Son and what this weekend means, and I was very thankful. Does that count? Or does it only count between 11:00 and 12:30 on Sunday morning?

(no comments on my listening to the Indigo Girls, please)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


It's between winter and spring; between pregnancy and birth. Between career and calling. Between apartment and house; between paychecks; between trips to the auto repair shop. Everything, it seems at the moment, is just...between.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Almost ready

Our apartment is almost ready for the pending addition to the family. It's felt so good getting rid of all the junk we've accumulated over the years. Funny how little we actually use. Now, to put the crib together. Have you seen these things? How can there be so many parts for such a small bed?

Saturday, March 19, 2005

My wife

I spent the day with my wife. We cleaned out the closets, taking years of junk to the thrift store. We went to Ikea to buy a crib for Silvi, standing in the long lines Ikea is famous for. We went through our storage, and packed more boxes for Goodwill. And we had so much fun.

I love hanging out with my wife. Even doing the menial and difficult tasks isn't that bad when we're doing it together. Driving home on this cold winter night, the new snow making all things new, I fell in love with her all over again. I can't wait for tomorrow.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Deadlines and editing

Deadlines and editing. Editing and deadlines. These are a few of my favorite things.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


I want to learn to be more predisposed to be interrupted, like Jesus was. (Is "learning to be predisposed" a contradiction in terms?) Jesus, sent by God on this enormous mission of restoring creation, was constantly stopping to talk to whoever had a question for him. Or to share a meal, to ease someone's suffering.

My life is full of interruptions and the truth is, sometimes it drives me crazy. I've got a task to do, people. How do I learn that these interruptions are, in fact, an integral part of the journey?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Two weeks until Silvi arrives and I can't shake the butterflies. Excitement and terror in the same breath.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


I spent the last eight hours with clients, shooting a video in our studio. We talked, joked, laughed, argued and shared a meal together.

Martin Buber wrote in depth about the loneliness of modern man before men whom he associates with but does not meet. What is an appropriate level of "meeting?" The producer-client relationship is most often a false relationship: I, as the video producer, must guard my comments, must watch how I give direction to insure the client will not only continue to work with us today, but on future projects as well. And they realize the power they possess. We ensure that the client is never thirsty, that his jokes are laughed at, that his comments are listened to no matter how outrageous they may be. It is two false selves circling each other in an awkward dance.

Is it possible to have true "meeting" between two false selves? If it is not, is it appropriate to accept the world as it is and treasure the small moments of genuine meeting?

Sunday, March 13, 2005

My daughter's name

I hope my daughter will like the name I picked for her. When she's ten, will she be embarrassed to have her teacher call her name in front of the class? Will she choose to be know by her middle name like I did for a few weeks when I was twelve? Will her name influence the kind of person she becomes, the job she takes, the family she one day creates? What is the power of a name?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


I'm spending the day at a convention, looking at all the latest and greatest digital HD video equipment. "The future of electronic media" the brochure promises. So many tools to make the world look truely spectacular. So few using these tools to be holes in the fence through which others may see the orchard. Oh well, at least I'm out of the office for the day. Maybe they'll have free drinks and cookies.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Deep end of the pool

You ever swim to the bottom of the deep end of the pool and sit there, looking up at the surface? After about thirty seconds, the water pressure begins to squeeze tighter and tighter, and your lungs feel like weights. That's how I feel most of the time right now. It's kind of a bad time, to put it blandly. "Bland" is the taste of the month.

Many of you know that my dad was recently diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. None of the medicine he's taking is working, so he can't stop shaking. The pain of his broken ankle causes the shaking to be more pronounced. Doctors are talking brain surgery, but dad isn't quite ready for that yet. The uncertainty of what the disease will do is always with me.

There's something else that's constantly with me. I've always been horrible with money. They put those magazines and candy bars at the checkout counter for impulse buyers like me. A few years ago, Annie and I had a few bad months out of work. Seven months, to be more precise. There's almost no way to catch up from something like that. It just doesn't go away.

This is supposed to be a good time. My daughter will be born in less than a month. I want to be happy. Truth is, I'm scared most of the time. Afraid for my dad, scared the money people won't let up, afraid I won't be able to show my daughter a life full of laughter. Man, there has got to be a way to get to the surface for a breath once in a while.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Spent the morning designing and authoring a 30-minute martial arts dvd. Nothing special; the client could only afford a few hours of work. So many of these projects are created on shoe-string budgets. It's been good for me. I can be a perfectionist when it comes to video. Having to let the project go without endlessly tweaking it has helped me see what is important and what is "fluff." Maybe I should apply that principle to some other areas of my life.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Type A

Why do all company presidents and CEOs have Type A personalities? I had a shoot with the president of a large, multi-million dollar company this morning, and he was cut from the same cloth as all the other leaders I interview. Where are the servant leaders?

My wife hates my birthdays

I torture my poor wife on my birthdays. Not on purpose, mind you. It's just that I'm one of those people who often feels like life is speeding by, like a Chicago 'L' train packed with passengers that won't stop for me. Everyone is already on the train, heading somewhere, and I'm standing on the platform with my suitcases. Birthdays are mile markers, and they mock me. "Haven't finished that book yet, have you?" "When are you going to start that documentary?"

And so my gift to my wonderful wife this year is that I'm going to try to be just a little less worried about catching that train and be a little more content sitting with her at the trainstop.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Teach them well - Part II

We are born into a situation. The German philosopher, Martin Heidegger, talks about "thrownness," about being "thrown" into the world. In the film, The Bourne Identity, (clearly the better film of the two) Jason Bourne awakens to find himself on a ship at sea. He was shot and can't remember anything about his past or his identity. There is a scene in the beginning of the film where Jason steps off of the ship and walks into a bustling port city. He does not know who he is or where he is going, only that he is equipped with a few clues and some extraordinary talents. He finds himself in a situation, a Story that is already in progress.

My daughter will "step off of the ship" five weeks from today. She will find herself caught up in a situation, a Story that is already in progress. She will be "thrown" into the world with a few clues about her identity and will acquire some extraordinary talents along the way. I am charged with providing her with more clues about her identity, and to teach her some of the skills she will need to understand and flourish in her situation.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Airport display

Busy day. I edited a thirty second spot to be shown in airports in Canada next week. Passengers can enjoy my selection of soothing canned corporate music as they hurry to catch their flights.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Teach them well - Part I

How do I teach my daughter to love God? Many of you know that I'm going to be a father soon. I've been struggling with this question for awhile, and don't have a clue where to begin. I know that my daughter will emmulate me, a scary prospect. It's true, I love God deeply but the fact is, I often muck things up. And I don't want my daughter to love God as I do: I want her to love Him better than I do.

I've been wandering through the kid's sections of bookstores, looking at the religious books. It's a bit frightening, really. Children's Bible stories with pictures of everyone smiling the same sticky-sweet smile. I mean, come on, when David was walking around town with Goliath's head in his hand, I think more of William Wallace than of Big Bird. Of course, I don't believe that my two-year-old daughter will cuddle up with me at night while I flip through a picture book of Braveheart. And so I have a dilemma. Do I buy the Bible picture books with all the sticky-sweet smiling prophets and lepers and warriors?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Dialogical theology

Moltmann believes that truth is to be found in dialogue rather than in assertive dogmatics and theological systems. I would add that for genuine dialogue to occur, trust must be present. Do we trust the other enough to discover truth? Are we trustworthy enough to reflect truth?

Monday, February 21, 2005


I outlined a feature film script over the weekend. Just for myself. That doesn't mean that this script will ever actually be written. I've outlined many such scripts. I just enjoy escaping into another world for a few hours. I listen to music to shape my scenes. For part of the script I was listening to Patrick Bruel, a French pop singer I discovered while in France.

At work, I'm editing a demo for our company, a never-ending project. We keep reshaping it, adding to it. I'm not sure it's getting better. I just finished a 30-minute documentary on the history of the corporation of one of our main clients. They had a showing in front of their employees and got a lot of good feedback. It was a fun project to edit, with about a hundred years of old photographs and films to work with. And now, the monday morning meeting.

Theology of Hope

I went to the Mall of America for lunch. It's only a few mintutes from our office and I enjoy spending the hour reading in the Barnes and Noble bookstore. (I forgot that today was a holiday; hordes of people.) I sat in the cafe, reading Moltmann's In the End--The Beginning: The Life of Hope, in which he states that the world is not moving toward an Ultimate Battle between good and evil. I wasn't able to read his final conclusions, but his assertions would require another paradigm shift from me. I'm getting a little tired of all these paradigm shifts. To have the mind of a child again.

Friday, February 18, 2005


I've written a lot of video scripts over the years. I got my first professional writing job in Colorado, writing science scripts for public school educational videos. I worked for a small production company where I also learned how to shoot and edit these programs. My boss and I became friends, and we would roam around the Rocky mountains in his truck, looking for shots of vascular plants or the changing aspen leaves, listening to Lyle Lovett and talking about his favorite author, William Faulkner.

I struggled to write those scripts. Piles of biology textbooks, hours of research at the library. Revision after revision. I wanted to write programs that would inspire, would make the audience weep. Not science videos for tenth-graders to fall asleep to in Miss Crump's biology class. It was tough.

Looking back, I really don't think much about the writing. Instead, I think of the time my boss and I ran down a dirt road high in the mountains, trying to get a shot of a hawk in a tree. I remember being offered a cappuccino by an orderly while filming a man being "violated" during a cryogenic prostate surgery. And I remember the "power lunches" my boss and I would take, where we would sit for hours and talk about life and God and Jasper Johns and video equipment.

I don't know if I'll ever write those scripts that will inspire people. But I do know that I was inspired while writing some rather dry science videos over a decade ago.

Thursday, February 17, 2005


Six weeks until our first child "arrives." We're still choosing a name: Annie likes Chloe, and I prefer Silvi (shortened from Silviana). We've been calling her "Silvi-Chloe."

So many changes. Annie is spending the days getting our apartment ready, making trips to Goodwill with years of clutter. I'm scrambling to figure out how to make the checkbook balance at the end of the month. We bought another used Passat, which should last a few years. VW's are the best.

"Silvi-Chloe's" arrival is sparking new creativity. I've been meaning to write the Great American novel, direct my "Citizen Kane," and create a Cousteau-esque documentary for awhile. Thinking of having a daughter is giving me new ideas, helping me see things with a fresh perspective.

I once had a friend tell me that I should just create my "song" for one person. Don't try to compose a "song" that everyone will love, just one person. I think I'll write a song for my daughter.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Living Water

I love the way Nikos Kazantzakis writes with such passion. In The Fratracides he examines the constant battle to live in the midst of oppression. Greece is wracked by war, and the main character struggles to remain truely alive during the chaos around him.

How do we remain alive - completely alive - in the midst of the mundane? We, too, are at war, a war against losing our thirst for life. The desert often parches our lips, and we long for water. Like Father Yanaros in Kazantzakis' novel, we must struggle never to let go of the desire to be fully alive.

Christ says that if we drink of his water, our thirst will be quenched. Oh, if we could but grasp his cup with both hands and drink deeply.