The White Whale

I have a white whale and that whale has a name: Woodchuck Belgian White Cider. Approximately two years ago I learned of this cider and I have been searching for it ever since. I was intrigued by the concept: Belgian yeast, coriander and orange peels in a cider? Yes, please.  I have searched in three states: Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. But it always eluded me. Sometimes employees seemed to have heard of it or maybe seen it but it was never stocked when I was in their establishment.

This all changed recently. My brother-in-law called me to let me know he’d tracked it down and did I want a 6 pack? Yes!

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Well, this disappointment was for the record books. Belgian? Well, I guess so far as it is cloudy it is “Belgian” but really, this cider was just one big meh. This may be due to the fact that I have been searching so hard for this cider for so long that in my mind I’d built it up in my mind to be something amazing…but whatever the case it is still a meh. I didn’t notice any coriander and I definitely didn’t pick up any notes of orange peel. The yeast is Belgian and that might be why there is a slightly “banana” flavor to it…I don’t know.

Don’t get me wrong: I still enjoy Woodchuck cider. It is probably my favorite commercial cider. But this is one I’ll pass on if I ever happen to see it in the grocery store.

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Weekly Round-up 9/22-9/26

Well, well, well….the interesting use of patriotism by democrats continues. Having the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world isn’t enough apparently, Obama is now going to legislate “economic patriotism.” Well, technically he isn’t going to legislate it because he is going to bypass congress. Can someone please tell me what it is called when the leader of a country creates laws (without congressional support) that are directly tied to enforcing the support of the state? Surely there must be some term for that form of government–but we mustn’t confuse it with democracy.

I cannot overstate the influence Tim Keller has had on my faith. I’m very excited to see this new development with Redeemer, RTS and NYC.

The Ray Rice Saga continues: “Would two slaps with an open hand have equaled one fist? If Ravens president Dick Cass or general manager Ozzie Newsome were to swing with a closed fist, would it pack as much power as Rice’s open hand?”

I do not use Apple products; I am an Android guy. So I was happy to see this article about Google and Apple waging war in the global market place–and Google is winning!

In case you weren’t aware, we are currently in the midst of a bombing campaign of ISIS. One of the targets we went after was their oil refineries.  General Sherman’s spirit continues to guide our military strategy.

SciFi shapes the present while predicting the future.

I’ve never met Eric Holder so I can’t say whether or not I like him–but I also can’t say I’m sorry to see he is resigning.

 

The economics of space empire

From everything I have read, unless some serious new technology is discovered (or something like a wormhole) we probably will never truly experience a “space” empire age. That being said, they sure are fun to read about. So imagine my joy when I came across this article on 10 Science Fiction books where the space empire might be economically feasible. The best part about this list is that the #1 book listed is the Vorkosigan Saga–which happens to be my absolute favorite series of books.

Also on the list are some other classics I have enjoyed, such as the Foundation by Asimov and Dune by Frank Herbert. The Alliance-Union series is on the list as well, which is exciting since that series is coming up on my reading list. Yay for books!

Why is hypocrisy news?

Apparently, there is some controversy with Miss America (again). From the story I saw on the morning news about this (yes, it actually was that news worthy) the current Miss America wanted to be some sort of advocate for domestic violence and now it turns out she engaged in…wait for it…hazing in college and so was kicked out of her sorority. I don’t know if that constitutes hypocrisy or not, though the morning news certainly tried to spin it that way, but it does raise an interesting question: why is hypocrisy newsworthy?

It seems that if not daily then certainly weekly some public figure it caught up in a “scandal” that reveals they weren’t the upright, moral, stand-out, flawless, perfect, good, human being we thought (made?) them to be.

Our culture has a problem: we don’t understand human nature. We think, hear, talk, share and buy into the concept that human beings are “good” (though what that means in a relativistic society is another topic). Thus, when someone like Ray Rice (who has even dressed up as Santa Claus for House of Ruth) beats his wife we are shocked.

The problem is not so much that good people are doing bad things (occasionally) but that there is no such thing as a good person.

Biblically, human nature is fundamentally bad. In terms of theology, this is called Total Depravity and is part of the Doctrines of Grace. What this means is that we cannot do good apart from the grace of God. If someone goes out of their way to help an elderly person cross the road they are doing so only because of God’s common grace that he has poured out on the just and the unjust.  As Jesus put it, “apart from me you can do nothing.

Because our culture teaches the exact opposite we are left with all sorts of “problems” the most pressing perhaps being, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” But a Christian should always respond to that question by pointing out that their underlying assumption is false: there is no such thing as a good person. So we shouldn’t be surprised when it turns out someone has a checkered past or a questionable present with a dubious future suddenly in view. Because we understand that fundamentally speaking, human identity cannot be separated from imperfection.

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(Reformed Memes Daily)

Unfortunately, we prop up imperfect people and then get mad at them when it turns out they weren’t the ones we thought they were. We invent myths about their goodness and worship them: we copy their style, we buy the products they buy, we try to conform ourselves to their image never realizing that they cannot deliver us from our own dis-satisfactions with life. The saddest part of the whole story is the only true Good One came long ago; he was propped up on a hill for all to see. It is only by believing in the One who was lifted up that our checkered past can be made white as snow and when we mess up in the future we can be assured that it has already been forgiven.

Now that is newsworthy.

And now for something completely different

Having been raised in an artistic home and having visited art museums from a young age, I have always had an appreciation for art. Art, or in my opinion good art, tells a story and invites the viewer to enter into that story as well. That might be why I really, really, enjoy this picture. It opens up a whole new world for the imagination to play in.

the white castle

Artist Yuri Shwedoff

 

The Preacher’s Lament

On the eve of another Lords Day I share with you what my secretary gave me. It is called the Preacher’s Lament.

“If I express myself on a subject, I’m trying to run things.
If I’m silent, I’m dumb or have lost interest.
If I’m often at my office (preparing messages), why don’t I get out and learn what’s going on.
If I’m out when they call, why am I not tending to business, or studying for a message.
If I’m not at home at night, I’m out having a good time.
If I’m home, I’m neglecting important outside contacts and activities.
If I don’t agree with persons, I’m bullheaded.
If I do agree, I don’t have any ideas of my own.
If I don’t do what I’m requested, I’m a very poor pastor or minister.
If I do agree, well, that’s what I’m paid for.
If I give someone a short answer, I’m “too big for my britches.”
If I attempt to explain the pros and cons of an issue, I’m a know-it-all.
If I’m well dressed, I think I’m a big shot.
If I’m not, I’m a poor representative of my office.
If I’m on the job a short time, I’m inexperienced.
If I’ve been there a long time, It’s time for a change.”

Weekly Round-Up 9/15-9/20

The Onion nailed the absurdity of the Ray Rice saga.

Resistance is futile. This is a cool little clip of a fascinating creature. Truly this entire world is fearfully and wonderfully made!

The New York Times is probably the best online news resource IMHO and they excel at online graphics. Here is a very informative graphic on how ISIS works.

The Jameis Winston “investigation” last year was a joke.  Now, FSU, is doing its own investigation into what happened. Conveniently, they have opened this investigation after Winston won the Heisman and the Seminoles won the National Championship. Here is another good bit of commentary on Winston.

I’m not a hip-hop fan and I’ve never really gotten into LeCrae (I prefer Shai Linn) but I also must admit that when it comes to theological depth, the Reformed hip-hop movement is probably the best source out there. Lecrae continues to break out into the mainstream and will be on Jimmy Fallon.

I am not an Apple product fan nor do I use Apple products. However, I am happy to see at least one tech giant is doing what it can to prevent the government from easily accessing our personal data.

I’m late to the wagon on Of Monsters and Men, but I really dig this song. It is like ska mixed with folk mixed with rock. Three styles of music I enjoy in one song? That’s like the Holy Trinity!

I’m probably obligated to post something about the defeat of the referendum in Scotland for Scotland to secede (or disassociate or whatever). But I think a video explaining the United Kingdom would be more interesting.

Christmas in September!

While rummaging around in my brew “closet” in the basement I made a fun discovery: one bottle of the Transfiguration IPA and 2 bottles of my 1st Date Dunkel! So I enjoyed those this week and I have a final update on both of them:

in one word I would describe them as excellent beers.

 

The Transfiguration IPA is probably one of the best beers I’ve ever made; certainly it is in the top 2. I’ll most definitely brew that beer again.

The 1st Date Dunkel is also good, but next time I would not add oak and I think I’d up the chocolate. The chocolate flavor didn’t survive the long term bottle conditioning and once the chocolate was gone, it was definitely missing something. But it developed a monster head! I think I could have put a quarter on it and it wouldn’t have sunk down! I mean look at these pictures!

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Death by Living

This passage from N.D. Wilson’s book Death by Living really spoke to me Monday when I read it. Now, on Wednesday, I still find myself reflecting on it:

“Our futile struggle in time is courtesy of God’s excessive giving. Sunset after sunset make it hard to remember and hold just one. Smell after smell. Laugh after laugh. A mind still thinking, a heart still beating. Imagine sticking your fingers on your pulse and thanking God every time He gave you another blood-driving, brain-powering thump. We should. And we shouldn’t, because if we did, we would never do anything else with our living; we wouldn’t have the time to look at or savor any of the other of our impossibillions of gifts. My wife and I tend to over gift to our kids at Christmas. We laugh and feel foolish when a kid is so distracted with one toy that we must force them into opening the next, or when something grand goes completely unnoticed in a corner. How consumerist, right? How crassly American.

How like God.
We are all that overwhelmed kid, not even noticing our heartbeats, not even noticing our breathing, not even noticing that our fingertips can feel and pick things up, that pie smells like pie and that our hangnails heal and that honey-crisp apples are real and that dogs wag their tails and that awe perpetually awaits us in the sky. The real yearning, the solomonic state of mind, is caused by too much gift, by too many things to love in too short a time. Because the more we are given, the more we feel the loss as we are all made poor and sent back to our dust.
Oh, but we notice heartbeats when they stop. And we beg for more. If we are capable of sulking about Christmas while still around the tree half-buried in shiny paper (and we are), then of course we are capable of weeping when Christmas appears to be over. The ungrateful always farm bitterness in their hearts. Those with faith (yet another gift) rejoice even at the end and after. They wipe tears, more profoundly feeling the full wealth of lives given when those same lives are lost.
I am putting my wife on a plane to honor her departed grandmother. Her heart ran out. I have just come from a viewing of the body that belonged to a close friend’s father, peaceful and empty and used up. His heart ran out young. His very young grandchildren peered into his open box, looking at a gift that was ready to be packed away—a gift they will treasure even more when their still young memories fade. Clichés are true. Time flies. You can’t take it with you. You don’t know what you got till it’s gone. Dust to dust. In the ground, we all have empty hands.
Enjoy life now. And now. And now. Before the nows are gone. See the gifts. Savor the food, knowing that you will have to swallow.”

Hollow

I really enjoy documentaries and I watch a lot of them. I’d have to say Hollow is still probably the best documentary I have seen and it is entirely online and interactive.  McDowell County, WV is a fascinating place and we, as a country, can learn a lot from looking at what has happened (and still is happening) there.

Appalachia is a region that has long been on my heart but I know now that I am not called to minister to it. But if I can help disseminate knowledge to others about what life is like there then I’ll at least accomplish something so please, check out this documentary.