Friday, October 24, 2008


One of the most beautiful things about the Internet is that you can glimpse, examine, or immerse yourself in worlds to which you do not really belong. I'm not meaning anything dirty or illegal here; but, face it: There are groups which you may respect, may love and admire, but into which you will never really fit comfortably in a one-on-one situation. The Internet allows you to visit those groups -- hang with them, in a way -- without the discomfort of being visibly out-of-place.

OK, an opening paragraph like that screams for examples, so I want to share some of my favorite places to go where I feel like an interloper (but a respectful, admiring one):

Songville: This is a blog by songwriters for songwriters. I am not, nor -- alas -- shall I ever be, a songwriter; however, I love this site. Not only is it run by my favorite songwriter, Carolyn Arends (admittedly why I first visited the site), but it is chock-full of great creativity-inspiring advice and ideas. And, as a sort-of writer in my own right (without the musical ability), I can really appreciate any adrenaline boosting smack-to-the-head for my wayward muse.

Freedom's Journal Magazine: This beautiful on-line magazine is a conservative, Christian journal from an African-American perspective. I am obviously super-white (especially since it's been almost two months since I've visited the tanning salon); but, unlike, apparently, many middle-class suburban whites, I've always lived in racially-mixed neighborhoods. To me, growing up, The Cosby Show reflected reality --those were the families in my neighborhood. So, it was heart-breaking to learn, as I grew older, of the terrible history that Blacks experienced in the U.S and realize how much that legacy still clouds and stunts inter-racial relationships today. And, unfortunately, it began to change my comfort level. I started to get that hyper-sensitivity to anything racial when speaking with my African-American friends and neighbors; and, though I strive to fight against it, that still affects me today around my wonderful neighbors whom I love very much.

Reading Freedom's Journal reminds me that, as a Christian with conservative values, I have a lot more in common with many in the Black community than with the secular, libertine Caucasians that populate this particular corner of Eden known as the Pacific Northwest. I am still too timid to discuss politics or faith with my neighbors; but, FJM gives me hope that one day we will find a shared set of American Christian values and really come together in Jesus's name.

The Western Standard: Ah, Canadians! I love them. And, to find Canadians who are not afraid to stand up to the post-1967 weirdness of Euro-Canada is a cool thing, indeed. Now, I am not Canadian -- nor, unlike my friend, Princess Holly, do I wish I were -- but reading this on-line journal makes me feel a little Maple-leafy inside, and, more than once, "O Canada" has swelled to my lips unwittingly.

American Chesterton Society: Now, this is an iffy inclusion. G.K. Chesterton is by no means loved and admired by Catholics alone. He is a Christian for all seasons. However, he is a famous Catholic convert, and they have every right to claim him as ardently as they do. So, visiting Chesterton sites and attending Seattle Chesterton Society meetings is akin to being on the warm-up bench at the big game. C'mon coach, put me in! However, I remain a little, lonely and lowly Protestant in a sea of awesome Catholics. Again, though, we have far more in common, theologically and culturally, than we have divisions. And Gilbert Keith is way too cool to stop indulging in him simply because I attend Calvary Chapel and not Our Lady of Perpetual Indigestion.

Messianic Jewish Communications: Again, I am not a Jew, nor do I play one on T.V., but I love this resource site and have used it often. I think that Messianic Jews are brave in their conviction to live their lives as Jewish believers in Christ. Unfortunately, that too often separates them from Gentile Christians who celebrate Sabbath on Sundays and usually no traditional Jewish holidays, and from the larger Jewish community, which, lamentably, seems more ready to accept secular Jews than those who believe in Jesus. I highly recommend this site -- especially for Christians wanting to immerse themselves in the Judaic history of the Church and the Jewish nature of our Savior.

So there are a few of the sites that I love, despite my never really fitting in to their larger communities. Of course, that is the greatest thing about the world's getting smaller -- we can find common cause with people from whom we might be separated in life. We can simply cut through the diabolical and divisive forces of first impressions and surface differences, and delve into our shared reply to the question at the heart of every matter: How ought we to live?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Physician-Assisted Suicide (For a Light, Fun Topic)

Well, physician-assisted suicide, or "death with dignity," will be on the ballot here in Washington this November as I-1000.


And, I have squishy feelings about it. I'm wavering on how to vote.

As a Christian, I do not believe that I have a right to take my own life, no matter how much I do not want to suffer in an illness. To honor my Creator, I need to trust Him with the time and manner of my death. As a daughter, I do not want my father to end his life early if, God forbid, he should have a fatal illness. I want him to be here on earth with me for as long as possible; and I will gladly take care of him and treasure him until his natural death.

However, I think it is silly and presumptuous to say that, because I feel strongly that physician-assisted suicide is immoral and unacceptable, no one should be able to contract with a physician for drugs that would end what he perceives as unreasonable suffering.

For me, this topic, unlike abortion, has myriad grey areas. Abortion is the taking of another's life -- a life so innocent and unable to speak for herself, that she deserves every protection under the law. Physician-assisted suicide, though, is only about taking one's own life. And, as disgusting and God-dismissing as that is, it is questionable to try to legislate that. Anyone who wants to may take his life at any time; and, for his survivors, it would be, I think, far easier to walk in upon a drug-overdose suicide than many other kinds.

There is, of course, a terrible precedent set by insisting that life loses some of its value in suffering. I cannot help but think that it is a bad idea to hide away end-of-life issues, because it marginalizes and disregards those who are vulnerable and dependent. Our society needs more lessons in compassion, not fewer.

I think that I will probably vote against I-1000 on November 4. This is just too much of a slippery slope for me. Plus, I will have to answer to the Most High some day for every action, every decision, and every thought. This initiative is not God-honoring; therefore, I cannot vote for it. But, I can certainly see the other side's point of view. It is a tough, highly personal issue.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Well, I broke down and joined Twitter. Updates will post on this blog's sidebar and also here.


Is Your Whole Worldview in His Hands?

How biblical is your worldview? Mine is, according to this test from Worldview Weekend, 87% biblical.

Why does worldview matter, anyway?

Well, there is probably no better way to predict how a person will react to unforeseen circumstances and what decisions he will make in the hum-drum of the everyday.

For self-identified Christians, worldview is the dividing line between those who see Jesus as guru and those who see Him as Lord. I always find it quite amusing when Christians take on the sophisticated view that the Bible is largely metaphorical and not meant to be taken literally -- even up to the crucifixion and resurrection. Of course, Jesus Himself saw scripture as historical in nature -- He believed all of the things that post-modern Christians like to mock. The funny thing is, He was there; we weren't; I'll take Him at His word.

My lowest score on this test came in the section dealing with American civil law. I do not think that our country's founding was quite as biblically-based as the creators of the test do. I could certainly be taken to school on this. I know, for a fact, that the nation as a whole has always been more biblically adherent than our leaders. Some of our founding fathers were Christians; many were Deists. I do agree, though, that they used the Bible as one of their models for forming a just government; they also looked to Plato and Rome and British law.

Anyway, this was an interesting test. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Addictive Fun (But For a Good Cause)

Free Rice! Free Rice! Free Rice!

No, our Secretary of State has not been taken hostage (so far as I know); but, here is an addictive and fun and educational site that also helps get food to vulnerable people around the world.

Basically, this is a quiz site with a twist: For every correct answer, sponsors of this site donate 20 grains of rice through the U.N. World Food Program. Doesn't sound like a lot, does it? Well, you'd be surprised how quickly it adds up. I just started playing the vocabulary quiz yesterday, and have probably played less than 1/2 hour total, yet I have donated more than 3000 grains, so far.

I encourage you to visit and play and see if you do not learn a few new words in the process (there are also math, geography, chemistry, and foreign language quizzes). And it is great to watch the little cyber-bowl fill with rice as you show off your linguistic prowess.

Happy Playing!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Life Mosaic

I found this fun blog doo-dah on my friend, Kadie's, blog (I think her blog is private, so I will not link to it and blow her cover):

Make a Life Mosaic!

These are the Q & A's that describe each of the photos (from left to right):

1. What is your first name? Justine
2. What is your favorite food? Cheeseburger (And how stoked was I to find this image of the best cheeseburger in the world -- the In-N-Out Double Double? So . . . hungry . . .)
3. What high school did you go to? Claremont High (I chose the water down the drain because it most aptly described my opinion of high school.)
4. What is your favorite color? Blue (Gotta love this guy floating in the breezy blue sky.)
5. Who is your celebrity crush? Bobby Jindal (Hubba, hubba!)
6. Favorite drink? Starbucks Gingerbread Latte ("It's the most wonderful time of the year . . .")
7. Dream vacation? Ireland
8. Favorite dessert? Fruit Tart (I actually had this at my wedding, instead of the traditional white albatross)
9. What you want to be when you grow up? A writer (OK, technically, there is no elusive career for which I long; however, I always have a vague, guilty feeling that I ought to be a writer + what a cool pic, eh?)
10. What do you love most in life? Laughter
11. One Word to describe you? Optimistic
12. Your flickr or nickname? Goober (But only Jason is allowed to call me this. Don't even think about it . . . seriously, don't even think . . . you're thinking about it right now, aren't you?)

Here's how to make YOUR mosaic:
1. Type your answer to each of the questions above into Flickr Search.
2. Using only the first page, pick an image.
3. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.
4. Copy the mosaic image (right click, save image as) to your computer.

And, here are the links to give credit and love back to the photographers who posted to Flickr and allowed me to create this lovely diversion:

1. Pirate Justine, 2. burger 3. fountain redux, 4. Just hanging around, 5. 1/14/2008 Bobby Jindal, The Governor of Louisiana, 6. I <3 Starbucks 7. Irish Farmland, 8. fruits tart, 9. writer's teeth, 10. Funny, 11. Wake Up (It's a Beautiful Morning), 12. Goober