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Thursday, August 31, 2006


To Work or To Preach?

On the blog Every Square Inch I recently posted some thoughts about “Preparing for Mondays.” In that post, Andre tells the story of George Mueller, a strong Christian who served God through his daily work in orphanages.

The Problem with George Mueller

While I find the story of Mueller encouraging, it also presents some problems for me. It is easy to think of Mueller’s job as serving God, but my job is editing. Mostly, I just stare at a screen all day and work with writers I’ve never met. How can that possibly glorify God? In short, how can normal jobs glorify God?

Andre is keeping me honest. He posted this comment in response to my cynicism:


You make a very thoughtful comment and thanks for sharing Rom 12:1-2.

I like how you reference the solution of your dilemma back to scripture. But I have a followup question - why do you think a businessman or factory worker have a hard time finding a biblical purpose in his vocation?
It took me a long time to respond (in blog years, I guess). In part because my daughter just started kindergarten and my world turned upside-down. But also because Andre forced me to define the dilemma.

Going To Work or To Preach?

Here’s the dilemma in a nutshell:

Does my work itself have value?
Or is my work just a vehicle to do God’s
David Miller of Princeton talks about two approached to work. People tend to see either the intrinsic value or the extrinsic value of work.

TheHighCalling.org encourages people to see the intrinsic value of their work. Someone who believes work has intrinsic value will then serve God by doing excellent work. The better I edit, the more I glorify God. The better an English teacher teaches English, the more he glorifies God. The better a bricklayer lays bricks, the more he glorifies God. The quicker a wood chuck, chucks… You get the idea.

Other people focus on the extrinsic value of work. Os Hillman tends to encourage people to focus on the extrinsic value of work. Workers glorify God by sharing their faith at work or by giving some portion of their salary to the institutional church. Work becomes a mission field where we go to sow seeds. It isn’t so much that the work itself glorifies God, but the explicit sowing of the Word through our work. By this logic, an editor glorifies God by editing text that will explicitly convince people to trust Jesus. A teacher glorifies God by sharing Christ with his students. A bricklayer shares Christ with his coworkers. I don’t know what the woodchuck could do . . . except use his salary to fund the work of the institutional church.

Of course, I’ve over simplified both arguments. And I’ve set up a false dichotomy between Os Hillman and TheHighCalling.org. Os is a great guy, and he helps a lot of people find purpose in their work. (I had breakfast with Os several months ago, but that is another story.) If you are interested in this kind of thinking, Mark Greene of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity masterfully discusses both views of work in a very readable and enjoyable book: Thank God It’s Monday.

Finding Purpose in our Vocation

Finally, I can get to Andre’s question: “Why do you think a businessman or factory worker has a hard time finding a biblical purpose in his vocation?”

This question has two parts:
1) Why do I think this… Well, I’d start by saying it’s just my hunch. As a teacher, I saw a lot of people who didn’t seem fulfilled in their work. As an editor for TheHighCalling.org I’m seeing even more. The rise in books and resources to help people find the purpose of their vocation suggests I’m not the only one who thinks people aren’t finding purpose in their vocation. In fact, Andre’s blog is a way of reminding people of their purpose and admitting our tendency to forget that purpose.

2) Why do people have a hard time finding their biblical purpose in work?
I don’t know.
Jesus makes it pretty easy. Everything boils down to two commandments.

Love God.
Love your neighbor.
That’s it. Even the great commission tells us to make disciples and teach them to obey the commands Jesus has given (which all boil down to the two commandments.)

My daughter and I were talking about this a few nights ago. She’s five. We’re reading Edward Tulane, a great book that’s sort of a twisted Velveteen Rabbit. Edward is a loser bunny, but after some hard knocks he is gradually learning what it means to love others more than himself.

So my daughter asked: “Why is it so hard for Edward to love other people?”

I told her, “I don’t know. People just try to make life more complicated than it is.” Then I got preachy. “Edward doesn’t know how to glorify God in everything he does,” I said. (That’s a phrase from our prayer each night. “God, help us glorify you in all that we say and do.”)

Then I asked my daughter, “Do you know how to glorify God in all that you do? Do you know how to glorify God at school?”

She said, “Yeah, I respect my teacher.”

“Is respect a kind of love?” I asked.

She thought a minute and nodded. “Yeah. I think it is.”

“I love you, honey,” I said with great respect.

“I love you, too, Daddy,” she said and kissed me on the cheek.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Dig Up Some Talent

In response to the Myth of Millions, Andre wrote:
I agree - write for the joy of it. A writer has to write...whether there are potential monetary reward is secondary...you do it because it's how God wired you.
My response to Andre outgrew the comment section, so here it is:

I write because it's the talent God gave me (to mix metaphors with the parable of the talents).

Not to write is the same as burying that talent in the ground.

In short, writing is my high calling.

The thing is--so many people expect God to reward their talent with monetary success and physical comfort. I've even talked with young writers who acted as if God was obligated to reward their desire to write! We expect God to bless our words so that they rise to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. I remember even recently turning in prayer request cards that asked, "Pray that God would give me 5,000 words this week."

On the one hand, I think praying specific prayers is good. On the other hand, those requests bordered on treating God like he was some kind of literary slot machine. If I kept pulling the crank, I'd eventually hit the jackpot.

But God isn't a Greek Muse. He just calls me to write. So I do.

With some luck and a LOT of hard work, maybe someday I'll make some money directly from my writing.

For those interested, I've made exactly $90.00 from my writing in the past five years.

But I've been much more focused lately, and I've got some tangible and achievable monetary goals for the next nine months.

And don't worry, readers, I'm not going to hit up any of you with product or service offers. This isn't that kind of blog.

Three tangents:
1. Check out the new category links in my side bar. Cool! They might even work as tags for Technorati, I'm not sure yet.
2. Also, I added some new stuff to the bottom of each post. If you like something, digg it or add it to del.icio.us!
3. I have to edit a book this week, so I'll be out of pocket for a bit.

Sunday, August 27, 2006



Category: Blogging
Nearly every blogger ends up doing some naval gazing about this new publication medium. I'm no exception. I have at least tried to avoid excessive lint fluffing.

Blogging as Worship
Goodbye Blogging
Gutenberg Blog Scavenger Hunt
Keep “Out of Ur”!
Redeeming Technology!
A Response to Out of Ur
Shep’s Question

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High Calling

Category: High Callings in the Workplace
My work with TheHighCalling.org and FaithInTheWorkplace.com has me constantly thinking about what it means in America for Christians to "take their faith to work." Is it proselytizing? Is it evangelism? Is it just good honest work, done with integrity? If you are looking for definitive answers to those questions, you won't find them here. But you will find me trying to understand how Christians live out God's will in our daily life.

Christ Has Guts
The Coalition for Ministry in Daily Life
The Colbert Report
Does God Call Garbage Men?
Emerging Assumptions
Fellow Work Place Blogger
Hearing the Call
“Heavenly Light from a Stack of English Papers”
Hey, Wanna See My Cathedral?
Higher Calling
Institutional or Scattered Church?
Looking for a Perfect Church?
Never Give Up or Never Give In?
You Need to Read What These Christians Say About Science

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Category: Teaching
Originally, I began this blog as a way to document my favorite teacher stories. As you can see from this list, I didn't write very many. But here they are.

Guest Poets
“Heavenly Light from a Stack of English Papers”
Limestone Literary Magazine
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Cakes

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Category: Publishing
Since June 2005, I have worked as a Research Editor. It doesn't sound like much of a title, but you wouldn't believe some of the things I've learned about the publishing industry. I've shared some of that information here:

An Editor’s Daily Work
Editing Is How You Transmit Your Message
Editing Vegetables Is Just Wrong
Here’s Some Encouragement: Stop Whining!
I Dance Like Everyone’s Watching
A Little Celebration
Lure Fishing Takes Patience
Myths of Publishing (a series)
Not All Writers Hate Editors
A Resolution to Write Less
Turning Tables But Not Cheeks: The Christian Booksellers Association (a series)
When Hollywood Meets Jesusland

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Category: Poetry
After teaching English for ten years and getting a Masters in English Literature, I have become a bit of a poetry junkie. Here are some of my thoughts on poetry and some of my poems:

The Blogger’s Prayer
Easter 1 or Jesus in the Shower” (published!)
Easter 2 or Passion Play
A Five Year Old to Her Mommy
Great Commission
Hill Country Achilles
Sitting in the Choir
Sluicing for Mother
Sunday Morning at the Donut Palace
Working During the Holidays

Thoughts on Poetry
“Dog’s Death” by John Updike
Easter Poetry
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Golly Geez
Guest Poets

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Is the Bible a Myth?

Last year, a speaker at Laity Lodge used the word "demythologization." It's a fancy seven syllable word coined by Rudolf Bultmann, a German theologian. (Sadly, he also became a Nazi sympathizer.)

In this series, I've tried to wrestle with some heavy theological issues. It's not easy reading, but I did my best to make it accessible.

1. A Summary of Bultmann
2. The Problem with Bultmann
3. The Relevance of Bultmann
4. Language IS Reliable
5. Spreading the Word

HillCountryWriter Category: Church stuff
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Category: Church
My official job title with the H. E. Butt Foundation is "Research Editor." That means sometimes I have the interesting task of just studying "church stuff." Sometimes it's the Bible itself; sometimes it's historical interpretations of the Bible; sometimes it's the New York Times business section.

From time to time, I've written generic "Church Stuff." Here's a sampling:

Is the Bible a Myth? Series
Blogging as Worship
Redeeming Technology!
It’s All About Billboards, Bumper Stickers, and a Book
Prophet’s Don’t Get Group Hugs

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Saturday, August 26, 2006



Category: Drama
My wife and I are the volunteer Drama Ministers at our church. Here are some of the scripts we've created and thoughts we've had. Feel free to use/adapt any of the scripts, but please follow

1. Give proper credit.
Email me to let me know how it went.

You can find copies of these scripts in Word format at
Marcus Goodyear's Scripts
Hosted by eSnips

"The Best Kind of Morning" (Boaz’s Monologue to Ruth--not appropriate for children)
“The Cross Shop”
“Easter Morning”
“Meet Captain Andrew Bumblemonkey”
The Five Minute Exodus (with Pirates)
“When I Met Jesus”

Audience vs. Congregation vs. Wild Cheering Fans
The Church Pitch
Drama at Every Church
Getting Started with a Drama Ministry
How God Prepared Us For Drama
On Performing Easter Dramas
Page to Stage (a series)
Whatever You Do Glorify the Lord
Worship and Hospitality

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Friday, August 25, 2006


Myth of Millions or the Long Tail of Literature

When I started working as an editor just over a year ago, I began to learn about the strange world of publication. In this series, I'll be your inside man on books. I'll get you the hook-up, the scoop, the hush-hush, the low-down. This is part three of a series where you'll learn the real deal.

This is the biggest myth I hear from prospective writers. They dream of hitting it big and making the New York Times Bestseller List (more on that soon).

You’ll only make a few cents per sale,” I say, “a dollar or two at most.”

But they know Max Lucado has sold over 33 million books, and they can do the math. $1/book X 33,000,000 books = $33,000,000.

“Of course, I won’t be a Max Lucado,” they think. “Maybe I’ll just sell a humble 3% of what he sells. That’s still a million dollars! I’ll still be rich!

One of my friends in publishing gave me better advice that I shared in A Little Celebration. In the State of the Blog Address 2006, Real Live Preacher shared numbers on his first book that confirmed what my friend told me:

In case you're wondering, I made a grand total of $3600 on the Eerdmans book, RealLivePreacher.com. And this is a book that won the Independent Publisher's Award for essay/nonfiction in 2005. It's a tough world out there for writers.

And Real Live Preacher had an audience.

Writer Randy Alcorn hears similar assumptions from aspiring writers. People ask him, “I'm not a published author but feel God has gifted me to write. Do you think it is a realistic goal to expect my writing to provide my yearly income?” Read his answer. And also go read the general publishing advice he offers on his FAQ page. (You’ll have to scroll down a bit.)

If that’s not enough to depress you, read Greg Johnson’s general discouragement for writers.

“What’s the point of all this schadenfreude?” you ask because you like German words with no English equivalent.

First, I want to dispel the romantic myth of writing for a living. Sure, it happens on occasion. But don’t quit your day job. Most well-known writers had other occupations.

Max Lucado and Rick Warren are both still pastors. C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkein were both professors. Flannery O’Connor raised birds (really). Walt Whitman was a nurse, a teacher, and a journalist. Jane Austen lived with her brother. Shakespeare was a producer. Chaucer was a diplomat. Few writers realize monetary success from writing during their lifetime. (Consider the famous poet, John Keats.)

Second, here is the practical and potentially uplifting part. If you are going to write, write with your eyes wide open. Know that you are investing in a hobby that may benefit posterity. Know that you are probably creating for a very small audience . . and that is okay. As a teacher, I called it gift writing, and it’s the Long Tail of literature.

Third, if you insist on writing for money, then at least be realistic. Your work will need to sell large numbers. That means it will need to appeal to a large audience. And it will need to be very good. If you expect to make millions, you probably aren’t being realistic.

So don’t worry about making millions. Don’t worry about making anything. Just have fun, and treat any kind of publication or monetary reward as a bonus.

Write for pure joy.

HillCountryWriter Category: Publishing
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Thursday, August 24, 2006


Not All Writers Hate Editors

Scot McKnight just got back the edits on his latest book, The Real Mary. If you are a writer, go read his post An Ode to Lil. It details his response to those edits.

I especially like something Bob Smietana says in the comments, "An editor’s first concern is making the connection between writer and audience." That's a good reminer to editors and writers both.

As an editor I'm really just trying to make our writers look good to our specific audience. But so often I get treated like an egotistical, invading general. Or some drunken pirate hack. Arrrggghhh!

HillCountryWriter Category: Publishing
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Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Fellow Work Place Blogger

A guy named Steve started a new blog about Marketplace Ministry. That's a phrase from Os Hillman. Os is a good guy.

Steve asked readers (his small group, I assume) to "share how God has used you at work to show Jesus to coworkers, customers."

The honesty of the question, sitting there on a blog just struck me. Here's my response:

Steve, I've spent the past year or so wrestling with these questions in a big way.

For me, faith at work is only partially about evangelism. There are lots of ways to "show Jesus to my coworkers." Eventually, I'll get around to talking about my relationship with Jesus if/when they ask. But I won't force a conversation about Jesus with my coworkers any more than I will force a conversation about my wife and family.

I also have found that I don't have to force the conversation if I am letting the love of Christ work in me. That is how I accidentally converted one of my students a few years ago. I say "I converted her," but I was only a witness to God's work in her life. It was the biggest miracle I have ever witnessed.

Most of the time my work is lacking in miracles. I usually try to show Jesus just by doing good work. A guy named Earl Palmer says the best way to take your faith to work is to be startlingly good at what you do. Work so well that people will tolerate your Christianity, he says. That seems like good advice to me.

HillCountryWriter Category: High Calling Thoughts
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Monday, August 21, 2006


Myths of Publishing Part 2

When I started working as an editor just over a year ago, I began to learn about the strange world of publication. In this series, I'll be your inside man on books. I'll get you the hook-up, the scoop, the hush-hush, the low-down. This is part two of a five or six part series where you'll learn the real deal.


I don't mean readers are a myth, of course. Without readers no one would publish anything!

I just mean a publisher's inquiry into your target audience has a different purpose than you might realize. It's pretty much commen sense when you think about it. In every good book proposal, the author will discuss market and genre.

Consider Michael Larsen's advice for the general market, Penelope J. Stokes' advice for Christian markets specifically, and Michael Hyatt's advice for submitting to Thomas Nelson.

One of my friends in publishing told me the hard truth about books one day on the phone. He said, "Look, Marcus, publishers will talk about the quality of writing and the value of literature all day. And they believe in those things. But they are not in the literature business. They're in the business of selling books."

Publishing is a business. Don't ever forget that. When a publisher asks about your target audience they want to know who will buy the book. That much is obvious.

But they want to know something else, too.

Who is your audience now? A teacher who has been on the convention circuit for five years . . . already has an audience. A business consultant whose leadership seminar fills up an auditoriums . . . already has an audience. A politician who is about to spend three months on a campaign tour . . . already has an audience.

If you already have an audience now, you can bring two assets to the publisher--your manuscript and your audience.

If you already have an audience, you already have a living, breathing market, with arms and legs and hands and, of course, pockets.

Marketing your book is no longer about turning an abstract audience into a real one. It is simply a matter of telling your current audience, "Hey, I have a book."

So, right now, who's your audience?

HillCountryWriter Category: Publishing
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Friday, August 18, 2006


Myths of Publishing Part 1

When I started working as an editor just over a year ago, I began to learn about the strange world of publication. In this series, I'll be your inside man on books. I'll get you the hook-up, the scoop, the hush-hush, the low-down. This is part one of a five or six part series where you'll learn the real deal.

Also, I'm trying to use technorati tags for the first time.


"What?!" you say. "But authors are like gods. They create a universe and inhabit it with people and weave the tapestry of their fates."

Just stop, okay? It isn’t that simple. Sure, authors have a tremendous role in the creation of their book, but they are hardly like gods creating in a vacuum. They receive all kinds of help from agents and editors and publishers and even ghostwriters.

Read the Acknowledgements page. Those people wrote the book together. You've seen movies written and directed by the same guy, right? Authors are like that. The vision is theirs, sure. But a whole crew of people brought the work to life.

There may be a few exceptions. Authors who disappear into a cabin somewhere and come out with a book that just needs to be retyped at the publisher. But I've never seen one of these monsters.

A word about ghostwriters . . .

Have you ever seen a book by two people? The name you don’t know is probably the person who wrote the book. The ghostwriter. Often, a ghost will interview the author for ideas and vision and sequencing, then get to work on a draft. These collaborative efforts are usually acknowledged with a double byline.

But the law doesn’t require a ghostwriter to be acknowledged at all. If “authors” want full credit, they can buy it. Hilary Clinton bought her ghost’s silence for $120,000. Does that make her an author? What do you think?

And why does this matter?

Other than acknowledging the ethical slipperiness of this wide-spread practice, it matters for people who want to write. Aspiring writers need to understand that their work is a draft. Their ideas and their style are not holy creations. A book is a product that other people will help them refine.

If they don’t want other people to chop up their sentences and change their endings, they should self-publish.

HillCountryWriter Category: Publishing
Technorati Tags: writing

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Myths of Publishing

When I started working as an editor just over a year ago, I began to learn about the strange world of publication. In this series, I'll be your inside man on books. In this series, I'll get you the hook-up, the scoop, the hush-hush, the low-down.

1. Myth of the Author

2. Myth of the Audience

3. Myth of Millions or The Long Tail of Literature

4. Myth of Agents

5. Myth of Bookstores

Update: I originally titled this series "Myths Publishers Want You To Believe," but the more I wrote, the more I realized that title was fake. It created a false division between publishers and writers. Of course, they don't want us to believe these myths either!

HillCountryWriter Category: Publishing
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Prophets Don't Get Group Hugs

Earl Palmer
I heard Earl Palmer speak a few weeks ago at Laity Lodge. That's him on the right; click on him to go to his church. He listed several roles that Christians adopt in their service to Christ. I don't remember them all, but they included things like being a mentor, being a teacher, and being a prophet.

Some people are called to be prophets like Jeremiah and Elijah and Ezekiel and Isaiah. They essentially turned over the tables in their cultures. They called the people back to God.

Our culture desperately needs prophets.

The problem is too many people want to play the role of the prophet without accepting the responsibility of the prophet. They want to turn over the tables, but then they expect a big group hug in return.

It ain't going to happen.

Jeremiah wrote Lamentations for a reason.

In a recent comment Shep said,
I haven't seen Jesus around here lately (turning over tables or righting them) . . . What does one do who is called to tip a table or two?

Well, Shep, thanks for reading. If God calls you to turn over tables, you better do it. But pray hard about it, first. In fact pray hard about everything. Do everything with prayer and petition with Thanksgiving and the peace of God will guard your heart and mind in Jesus.

Because when you start tipping tables, you'll need that peace in your heart and mind. No one's going to give you a group hug.

HillCountryWriter Category: Church stuff
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Tuesday, August 15, 2006


What Does An Editor's Daily Work Look Like?

Every two weeks, I choose and edit the content for FaithInTheWorkplace.com. This site is sponsored by TheHighCalling.org, which means we provide the content and work with CTI to make it as successful as possible. It's a classic win-win partnership. At any rate, I also write the newsletter introductions. So here's a link to one of those. I'm curious what you think.

I was talking with small business owners at my church recently. One man said, "Sometimes I think we advertise too much Jesus at work. We wear Jesus on our business cards like an endorsement from God."

Of course, there's nothing wrong with a Bible verse on your business card, but our work doesn't need such an explicitly Christian message to glorify God . . .

Read more at FaithInTheWorkplace.com

HillCountryWriter Category: Publishing
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Sunday, August 13, 2006


Who Do You Think You Are?

The LA Times recently ripped the International Christian Retailers Show (ICRS) in Denver in their article "Christian Retailers Put Their Print on Products." This is the slightly delayed part four of a series discussing the event, its history, and its implications.

First, I wrote about the history of the CBA. Second, I wrote about Jesus turning over the money tables in Jerusalem. Third, I wrote about God's 21st century temple (our lives) and made a hard claim: if Jesus junk is sacrilegious, then all junk is sacrilegious.

Recently, I have been doing some research for Labor Day Sunday materials. (You can also read about it at Faith In The Workplace.) If you take a look at these sites, you'll see that my job puts me right at one of the tables in the temple.

Essentially, these booklets and sermons are a sales pitch to churches. Does somebody need to come turn over my table? What about Claudia Mair Burney's? She sells fiction marketed specifically to Christian readers. What about Jim Thomason's? He works for a publisher that has made millions of dollars by selling Bibles. (Even worse, consider his title "Vice President of Human Resources." It practically reduces company employees to chattel.) What about Don Pape's table with Alive Communications (the guy on the far right)? As part of his job, Don pushes publishers to offer higher advances on royalties to authors (like Mair). Are these people corrupting the Kingdom with their freemarket concepts and business plans?

Of course, not! I've read Mair's book. It's uplifting, challenging, and exciting. I've met Don Pape. I wish he were my agent. (In fact, I wish I had an agent.) I haven't met Thomason, but I thought I'd pick on him anyway. I don't really think Human Resources people are evil.

They can be, of course. Anyone in any walk of life can be evil. Human resources people can treat their employees more like resources than humans. It's a kind of betrayal, really.

Writers can betray their audience. Publishers can betray their readers. Agents can betray publishers or writers or both. Editors like me could betray the church with a shoddy product or a slippery message or even just an impure motive to use God's message for profiteering.

If we betray others, Jesus will turn over our tables. It's just a matter of time.

We Christians can define ourselves however we want--by our jobs, our relationships, even our stuff: "Hi, I'm an editor" or "Hi, I'm CJ's daddy" or "Hi, I'm a homeowner." But God defines us differently.

We are children of God (see 1 John 3:1-3).
We are priests (see 1 Peter 2:4-13).
And the world is our temple.

So the question is not whether "Jesus Junk" belongs in the Christian community. The question is whether your spiritual sacrifices are glorifying God in your daily life. If "Jesus Junk" offends you, don't buy it. Pretty simple.

I mean, really, who do you think you are? What do you think you are here for?

Glorify God with every purchase you make in a store.
Glorify God with every decision you make at work.
Glorify God with every word you speak at home.
Glorify God in everything that you do.
Declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into the light.

And leave the table turning to Jesus.

HillCountryWriter Category: Publishing
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Thursday, August 10, 2006


You've Never Seen Anything Like This

I have no other comments. This New York Times video is five minutes long with a thirty second ad first. I'm speechless. Watch it. Tell me your reaction.

Chinese Corpse Factories
(you'll have to choose if from the list of videos).

If you don't feel up to a video on this topic, you can read an article about the ghastly new industry.

"Ghastly" is their word. But it's fun, don't you think? Makes the whole issue feel like an episode of Scooby Doo. That is the guy's goal afterall--to make anatomy fun. On the other hand, is this taking things a bit too far?

Update: my office partner said this guy's exhibit is in Houston right now. She saw it, and described it as "gruesome, but amazing."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Blogging Programs?

Recently, I have become disgruntled with blogspot. This began with its refusal to allow category tagging. Wordpress allows this. I'm thinking of switching.

On the other hand, I've been here for several months. And I have the incredible technorati rating of 1,195,250. At least I'm a round number, I guess.

Any thoughts or insights from others?


I Dance Like Everyone's Watching

For just a few years in high school, I loved to dance. Music brought me incredible joy, and I just let everything go. It wasn't sexual or inappropriate, just joyous. Then I started to think about people watching me dance. And I lost the joy.

I don't know if I looked like an idiot, or just felt like I looked like an idiot. Probably both. (And I'm sure frequenting German discotechs didn't do anything for my style.)

Whatever the reason, I can't dance anymore. I dance like everyone's watching--even when nobody is watching.

Editing and writing feel like that sometimes. As I write and edit, part of me needs to think about the people watching. I need to remember to
* serve my audience
* focus my arguments and topics
* not indulge in too much personal reflection.

But there's a danger in focusing on the audience too much. If I'm not careful, I begin to resent the audience--especially when I'm editing. Who are these people? I wonder. Where are they? Why don't they comment more on Ramblin' Dan or great articles like A Burning Bush Would Be Nice? What do they think of my interview with John Medina. Is it too long? Does its view on evolution offend them? When I ask questions like these, I second guess myself. I get afraid. I lose the joy.

Here's the catch. As an editor, my job is to remember the audience. Sigh. Can you tell I have a long stack of essays to work on?

HillCountryWriter Category: Publishing
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Thursday, August 03, 2006


The Blogger's Prayer

"This, then, is how you should pray:"
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done
in the blogosphere as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily post.
Forgive us our snark,
as we also have forgiven those who snark against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from gossip and self-absorption and porn.*
For yours is the blogosphere and the platform and the readership.

*Everyone knows the internet is full of pornography, but check out these statistics.

I wish every Christian who gets publically annoyed about the ICRS would get at least as publically annoyed about porn.

HillCountryWriter Category: Poetry
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Tuesday, August 01, 2006


You Need to Read What These Christians Say About Science

Scientists who are Christian? Not Christian Scientists. These guys aren't prescribing prayer instead of penicillin. They're not even Intelligent Design advocates. These people practice real science, make real discoveries, and receive respect from other scientists. In fact, they make up 40% of scientists!

And they aren't afraid of talking about their faith.

Consider this interview I did with John Medina, just published on TheHighCalling.org. That's him on the left and he really is that excited about life. (I wish you could hear the man talk--he fires off words and ideas like his head is a gatlin gun. And let me tell you, his words have more power than any bullet.)

TheHighCalling.org isn't the only site interested in faith and science. The Foundational Questions Institute is offering big money to scientists who want to study the relationship between physics and theology. The New York Times and the big publishers are getting in on the action, too.

In a recent New York Times article, Faith, Reason, God, and Other Imponderables, Cornelia Dean writes about the onslaught of recent books about faith and science. Here's her introduction:

Nowadays, when legislation supporting promising scientific research falls to religious opposition, the forces of creationism press school districts to teach doctrine on a par with evolution and even the Big Bang is denounced as out-of-compliance with Bible-based calculations for the age of the earth, scientists have to be brave to talk about religion.

Not to denounce it, but to embrace it.

That is what Francis S. Collins, Owen Gingerich and Joan Roughgarden have done in new books, taking up one side of the stormy argument over whether faith in God can coexist with faith in the scientific method.

With no apology and hardly any arm-waving, they describe their beliefs, how they came to them and how they reconcile them with their work in science.

In “The Language of God,” Dr. Collins, the geneticist who led the American government'’s effort to decipher the human genome, describes his own journey from atheism to committed Christianity, a faith he embraced as a young physician.
If you don't want to read the column, check out this video interview with the Cornelia Dean (about five minutes long).

I go to a Southern Baptist Church, so I'm used to hearing the dichotomy of science and religion. (Consider what the thoughts of Mainstream Baptist Dr. Bruce Prescott several months ago.)

I'll leave you with John Medina's thoughts on this dichotomy:
A great God has made this universe that we see. Why do we fight over something so beautiful? Science and Christianity are sometimes opposed because people are opposed, not because the ideas are opposed. That's something we should not forget.
(To my friends who disagree with my take on science, I love you. I don't post this to pick a fight or try to force my views down your throat--though you are certainly welcome to comment if you'd like.)

HillCountryWriter Category: High Calling Thoughts
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