Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Oh Microsoft, How Could You?

There is tragic and disturbing news today. Reports are coming in from frustrated and distraught people that the new XBOX 360 is plagued with glitches. I warn you to read no further if you are easily disturbed by unsettling news. Yet, if you are brave enough to understand the gravity and magnitude of this crisis then I invite you to read on and consider what we can all do to eliminate this potential devastating crisis.

My heart is full of sympathy as I think of all the shoppers and gamers who waited in lines for days to purchase Microsoft's XBOX 360 only to discover that the problems that would prove to ruin their day. I am concerned that these enterprising shoppers may have trampled each other in vain during their mad dash to acquire the long anticipated consoles.

Sad news comes from the discussion forums of a frustrated gamer who put the shooter game Perfect Dark Zero into the new XBOX only to have the flawed machine try to read it as a DVD movie. How could it come to this?

Brian Crecente said his XBOX 360 locked up three times, causing him to lose a couple of hours' worth of progress in a Western-themed action game called Gun. Oh, the humanity!

And what does the Seattle-based corporate stronghold responsible for this crisis have to say to the poor gamers who are losing valuable hours of game progress in their virtual worlds?Microsoft says that it has received only "a few, isolated reports" of machines with problems. That's just the sort of big-business static I would expect to hear from a faceless evil that doesn't understand the fear and outrage that all of us feel.

Isolated reports, huh? Well, I would like for Microsoft to come and personally apologize to poor, unfortunate on-line gamer Kulanose who says that he spent "six and a half hours outside uncontrollably [shivering] for something that doesn't work right . . . they just lost me and a bunch of people I know." Doesn't it just break your heart? Who is going to speak up for the other Kulanose's who fear Bill Gates and his geek army? This will impact these poor souls for the rest of their lives!

I say it is time for the government to act. I know that some will say that the government has more important matters to attend to, but I ask you can we really afford to lose any more hours of progress on Gun and Perfect Dark Zero? Very soon China will surpass us in the all-time high score on Halo 2! We need government intervention to protect those whose trust in Microsoft has just been shattered. I fear that some (*choke*) will never enjoy video entertainment again.

I also think we should seek a class action lawsuit. We should include everyone in that class and not limit it to those who actually bought the XBOX 360. After all, haven't we all experienced just a little pain and suffering as we think of poor gamers shivering uncontrollably because their Quake 4 adventure froze up just as they were about to kill the space aliens?

(*choke*sob*) I'm sorry I just can't write anymore. It is too disturbing. When will somebody do something? Please Oprah, help us!

Monday, November 21, 2005


On the surface, being a prophet seems like a privilege. It seems a special gift to hear God’s voice. But consider poor Hosea. The Lord's first words to Hosea were brutal: “Go marry a prostitute, and some of her children will be born to you from other men.” Why isn't the Lord a little more sociable? There's no “welcome to the life of a prophet" speech. There's no small talk to break the ice, not even a simple "hello."

Why would the Lord ask such a thing? Didn’t he read the Bible? People aren’t supposed to marry fornicators and adulterers. Why would the Lord ask someone to do this? God's explanation is that Hosea is supposed to do this so that his life will become a living illustration of God’s relationship with his people. You see, God’s wife has not been very faithful to him.

So Hosea marries Gomer. Here comes the bride wearing a halter top and high heels with seven colors of eye shadow. She is not having trouble with her fake eyelashes, she is making eyes at the groomsmen. The couple have children and Hosea has to wonder if they are his. Two of his children are named "Not Loved" and "Not Mine." Two innocent children stuck with names that are drenched in sin.

If the story is breaking your heart, then you get the point. God’s heart was breaking because his people were unfaithful to him although he was faithful many times over. Without faithfulness we live in a world of heartache and mistrust. Yet with faithfulness the harshest heartache and the deepest mistrust may be healed with forgiveness and hope.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Cheap Kindness

Bonhoeffer is famous for arguing against cheap grace. He says that cheap grace is the sort of grace that is sold in marketplace with the cheapjacks wares. It is grace that demands nothing at all of those who receive it or give it.

As a part of the Life on the Vine sermon series I have been studying kindness and I think it is time that we argue against cheap kindness and call one another to the sturdier, richer kindness that Scripture describes. What follows is a edition of a post I placed on another blog:

It seems to me that we often accept simple politeness for kindness. In our culture we describe a kind person as someone nice. Being kind is about being nice to someone else. Kindness rooted in the nature of God shows that there is more to kindness than being nice. Taking off on the "Life on the Vine" agricultural metaphor, kindness must be some sort of ground cover vine or grass. It is the raw material that makes up the social fiber. Kindness is at the root of hospitality. I think most of us understand how the concept of hospitality has become reduced in our culture. In ancient times hospitality was more than just being nice. It was required by the gods. Those who did not show proper hospitality were as bad as horse thieves. To deny hospitality was to violate basic covenants of human co-existence. When you think about it, especially in the ancient context, it makes sense.

Self-sufficiency is the alternative to kindness. Take self-sufficiency to its extreme and you have a sort of Mad Max Thunderdome world. I saw glimpses of this world on the streets of London where beggars stole from beggars. Thunderdome is fiction, but the Superdome isn't. One of our newest members at West-Ark was in the Superdome during Katrina. I asked him if it was mob rule and he corrected me. A life-long resident of New Orleans, he told me that gangs are absent in New Orleans, it is instead a city of "every man for himself." There was no kindness among those who attempted to be extremely self-sufficient.

Thinking of kindness and New Orleans, I cannot avoid thinking of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire. So often her famous line ("I have always depended on the kindness of strangers") is ripped from its context and used to compliment nice people. The truth is that Blanche is adrift in the world looking for another to show her genuine kindness. Like so many she enters into relationships that are more contractual than covenantal. She gives herself to strange men so that she can get what she needs to survive. The kindness of strangers that Blanche experiences is cheap kindness.

Against the cheap kindness that litters our culture is the kindness of God. David demonstrated this sort of kindness when he showed his devotion to Johnathan's son, Mephibosheth. (2 Sam. 9). When kindness is mentioned in Scripture it is more often equated with love, mercy, goodness rather than simple politeness. I choose to believe that this sort of loving kindness could come to fruition among us.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Chad's reply to the last post reminds me of one of the better attempts to do something about those incessant scam letters.

I recommend the Brad Christensen Exhibit at the Quatloos! website. Perhaps more of us should respond with wit and humor to these desperate con artists the way Brad does. Then again, the scammers have nothing but time on their hands and the rest of us are living our lives.

For the sake of trivia, anyone remember where the term Quatloos! comes from? No peeking at the website!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Junk Mail Blocking the Door

Returning to the Written Without Ink office is a bit scary. The room smells sort of musty and there are cobwebs in the corner. I need to open a window and let some fresh air in.

The door was a bit sticky when I tried to open it. I thought it was just the weather warping the wood but it seems that there's a pile of junk mail comments blocking the way. Looks like a few folks dropped some comments through the slot after I evacuated the WWOI office due to Hurricane Katrina. Let's see now, what do we have here . . .?

Jessica finds my blog informative. Well, of course it is. Where else can you find an article about Jesus' Kung-Fu style. But I must say that this pales compared to Jessica's very interesting website about buying a Citizen Watch with interest free credit. I know you are dying to go check it out. Go ahead, but come back here because we have more mail to go through.

Welcome back. Hey, what do you know . . . Will McDonald says that my blog shows up on a Google of the words "blog debonair." I want to be modest but I must admit that I do strive to have the most debonair blog on the net.

Senson invites me to create my own blog. Real swift there Senson, I have my own blog - and you're posting a comment on it! Wake up!

Will McDonald writes again and says my blog is awesome. Sure it is, especially since it hasn't been updated in two months.

Oh look, here's a message from Me!!!!!! Me!!!!! says, "Search this thing - it is hilarious how people cant even spell right when they are selling something on eBayMisspelledauctions.com" Yeah - haha - some people are so stupid! Just like the idiots who leave the apostrophe out of can't. By the way, your link doesn't work.

And speaking of Hurrican Katrina, TheDevilIsInTheDetails says, "Be prepared for the next huricaine katrina picture or find another one that's similar. As the Boy Scouts say: "Be Prepared"!

Whoa! I had better get hurricane picture insurance right away. I would hate to be caught off guard by a picture of a hurricane. The only thing worse is finding one that is similar! (That's funny, I didn't know the devil was a Boy Scout.)

Well then, why don't you folks watch the office here at Written Without Ink while I go call the GEICO agent to get that picture insurance. I will be back soon and I would love to hear from you; especially if you are posting a bona fide comment and not just flattery laden ads for other websites. (Yeah, that's right! I can see through you hucksters!)