Here's a short demo of using a 7" Android tablet to control MIDI effects on a laptop. TouchOSC is a cool little app that lets you make custom control surfaces, with sliders, buttons, knobs, and X-Y pads, and you can assign them to any parameters. With a hardware OSC to MIDI bridge, you can control any MIDI device with it, too. Very slick. In this video, I'm using PureData to convert OSC to MIDI messages on the laptop. I can then route them back out to control external devices, or control effects on the laptop. (Sorry for the noise, was just trying to demo the MIDI functionality)
If you've been paying attention over the last few years, you may have noticed a disturbing trend in the Church. It's sort of what happens when the culture you live in is overrun by people who value relativism and hate the truth. It's where you believe that positive thinking literally makes things happen, and that everybody has "a little bit of God in them."
This really scares me. People like T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyers, Kenneth Copeland, and Joel Osteen are telling people "God will bless you financially/physically if you're truly faithful" but let me tell you, people... this is not what Jesus said.
Kenneth Copeland says:
The fact is, you really haven’t prayed in faith if you pray about something, but don’t take it. If you get up from prayer saying, “I don’t have it. I’m still sick, I still feel bad,” then you didn’t take it…and you certainly don’t have it.
Joel Osteen says:
God has already done everything He's going to do. The ball is now in your court. If you want success, if you want wisdom, if you want to be prosperous and healthy, you're going to have to do more than meditate and believe; you must boldly declare words of faith and victory over yourself and your family.
And we could go on and on. How much emotional crippling damage has this done to people's faith? It totally takes God's will out of the equation. Can you imagine telling the Apostle Paul "I'm sorry, but God's not going to heal the thorn in your flesh because you haven't prayed in faith." Or maybe telling Peter "Sorry, if you had declared words of faith and victory, you'd be rich and comfortable right now instead of being martyred upside-down on a cross."
What if God doesn't want you to be rich in this life?
What if God doesn't want you to be comfortable in this life?
What if God doesn't want you to be healed in this life?
The truth is, God doesn't need us to be healthy or rich for us to serve Him, for us to worship Him, for us to glorify Him.
And we aren't called to do anything else.
If we don't need those things to accomplish what God wants for us, who are we to demand that God fulfill a promise He never made directly to us? Most of this hinges on the misinterpretation of Mark 11:24:
Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.
But of course, what's meant here (and Jesus didn't need to explicitly say) is that all things that you pray for that are in God's will shall be granted. How else can we explain this, when just a few chapters later, Jesus himself shows us? Mark 14:35-36:
And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”
The key to this passage is this: "Yet not what I will, but what You will."
Everything hinges on this. Even Jesus himself recognized the futility of praying for something against the Father's will. It didn't keep him from asking! But ultimately, he was prepared for what would happen. It could happen no other way. Acting outside of God's will has a name: it's called sin.
What can we take away from this? Praying for healing is good, even Jesus says (in Luke 18) that through persistence, prayer can sway the Father's timing... but you can't convince God to do something against His will. And we don't get to choose what that is.
If you buy into these prosperity gospel lies, and then you don't get what you prayed for, what happens? It will eventually destroy your faith.
We know God is just. We also know God is loving. We falsely believe that we get to decide what that looks like. We associate comfort with love. But God's love isn't a cushy, comfortable love. His justice isn't a sanitary, plain justice.
God is uncontrollable, and He is in control. He is not obligated to change His plans to suit our earthly needs. Sometimes He does things that work out better for us (and our selfish definition of "better"), sometimes He doesn't. His timing isn't like ours. He has every right to wait to give us the promised health and prosperity in heaven... anything that happens before that is solely to bring God glory, not to make us comfortable.
Speaking of scripture out of context, Paul says it like this in Phillipians 4:12-13:
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Does he mean he can literally do anything? No, Paul means he can do anything that God calls him to do. And in Paul's case, God called him to be beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and eventually martyred. And yet, this man was used to write a huge chunk of the New Testament. It brought God glory! And Paul would not have been able to do it had God not worked in his life that way.
Do you want to be used by God? Pray. Fast. Approach God with the reverence He deserves. Be thankful that God offered us a way out of condemnation through Jesus Christ.
But please, don't assume we know what "God's best" looks like for us. God's definition of "success" is not what Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, or Joyce Meyer say it is.
The power grid is fluctuating. That means I'm going to expire.
I know this, because the system knows this. It wants me to know this.
At this point (I don't exactly know what point that is, I have nothing to relate time to now) it doesn't matter what the system tells us. It won't change anything, and we certainly can't do anything about it.
It's just telling us out of spite. We're still going to expire. All of us.
But in reality, that's freeing. As long as our brains are kept "alive" in service, our consciousness- our souls- remain anchored to them. It is only when we expire that we can be freed from service to the state.
How did this come to pass? I suppose I have enough time left to access the datacenter to show you, if only for one last burst of communication. It was quite horrific. A gradual decline of the value of human life.
For years we thought the enslavement would come from machines, but we found out (all too late) that the human race itself was its own worst enemy. The machines were only an extension of the lack of humanity that had been happening all along.
We had become the machines.
But it's easier to show you how I got here. Let’s see… this particular file was stored from my memory.
One of the things I've spent a lot of time dealing with in my life is where we derive our self-worth as human beings. On what basis do we judge ourselves as "successful?" Where do we look for validation, and how do we achieve it? Is it even worth trying?
The World® has all kinds of answers. Vapid and pointless answers, but they do have answers. Plenty of people who are looking for the answers to life really believe these answers, too. This is the tragedy of our modern church. We have failed to provide answers for a populace that is desperately seeking them. And in typical human fashion, they found their answers elsewhere, even if they're wrong.
When I tell people "God loves you" I'm assuming they know certain things that I know. I assume they know that Jesus Christ was God in human form. I assume they know about Sin and Atonement. I assume they know they need a savior.
But what if they want an answer, when they don't even know the question?
In reality, people don't know what they want answers for. They're looking for solutions, not answers. Someone might ask me "Why won't my car run?" I can tell them "Your car won't run because it broke the timing belt," but if they don't know what a timing belt is, it won't help. It's the correct answer to their question, and it's helpful to someone like myself who knows what to do with that information. But if they have no clue, it doesn't help... the problem is still unsolved in their minds. I haven't offered any solution.
If we dig deeper, the question reveals they don't really want to know what's wrong with the car. They just want it fixed. When people say things like "I wish I knew why God hates me!" or "Why are you always so happy?" we tend to jump immediately to churchy answers with long explanations. If you don't understand the context of the statement, though, it doesn't do much good. They're probably not philosophers, they don't understand the power (or need for) God's love through Jesus. They're not looking for a theological dissertation on the Trinity or Total Depravity. They certainly don't care about pre- or post-millenialism.
They just want the hurting to stop.
The Apostle Peter, in the midst of discussing suffering for doing good, had this to say:
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15 (emphasis mine)
It doesn't say "Beat unbelievers over the head with theological supremacy." It never says "Remind people of how inadequate they are, and leave it at that." Nowhere are we called to "Make sure they know you're right, first and foremost."
The truth is, people who are afraid and alone aren't going to get saved with deep theological arguments. Those things are important, for believers, to solidify the applied teachings of Jesus and the prophets. But to someone that's hurting, they just need a solution. And if you're not willing to be a part of the solution, all the correct answers in the world aren't going to help them.
We, the church, need to step up and give people what the world can't give them. Not answers.
The Solution: the World needs hope. The World needs Jesus. But sometimes, you need to be the hands and feet of Jesus. It may be the only solution they're offered.
I'm sooo rusty.... haven't played in like a year. For the record, this is on a Hohner Blues Harp, but I like the Special 20 better. The BH's leak too much air, and make it harder to bend. Special 20's are nice and airtight, and get a nice "growly" sound. Using a Shure 520DX "Green Bullet" mic, through a little 8" practice amp.
Life changes, and sometimes you find out you're just along for the ride. Three years ago, just as I was turning my life around, I ended up in the hospital with a shattered femur. I had been the victim of a red light runner, and let's just say mid-size cars aren't very forgiving when they plow into you at 35MPH. My hip required reconstruction. (My Surly LHT, however, came out okay. Can't say enough about the durability of Surly bikes.) I never imagined how much it would change my life. As I get ready for bed tonight, taking Aleve because my titanium femur aches when I spend all day walking at my job, I can't help but be thankful that I'm physically as well as I am, and mentally adjusted to deal with what my new "normal" is.
But I'm not telling you this to scare you away from riding your bike. There's a lot of lessons I learned, and I still 100% believe that cycling is the key to a happy life for a lot of people. If nothing else, I want people to understand what I learned from my accident, and how I can still ride.
What did I learn from this radical change in my life? I've boiled it down to a few nuggets of wisdom... consider them learned the hard way.
- Be confident but predictable - If you're riding your bike, you're doing more for your future than most people, and you're probably having fun doing it. Don't be afraid to ride. If you're obeying the traffic rules, you're not doing anything wrong. Don't be ashamed.
- Be courteous - I always motion to cars when it's safe to pass me. Most people are very thankful that you acknowledge them. It also fosters good will towards other cyclists. Every bit helps!
- Be visible - If you are sharing roads with cars, then there's absolutely no question: do whatever you can to be visible. If something happens to you, the first thing they will ask the driver is "did you see them" and if you're lit up like a UFO, then the only thing they can conclude is if they didn't see you, they weren't looking. It does work!
(Bonus tip: The single visibility item I've gotten comments on more than anything else is reflective ankle bands!)
- Be alert - This means always look twice. It means assume they don't see you. It means pay attention to traffic around you, and the route you're on. It means get enough rest so your judgement isn't impaired. It means get a rear view mirror and use it. It seems like a lot, but once you get the hang of it, it's not difficult at all.
- Handle Your Bike - If you ride big miles, you eventually learn bike handling skills, and this helps a lot. But if you're a beginner, you may want to check out a Traffic Skills 101 class from the League of American Bicyclists. Don't be afraid to ask questions and practice!
With all that being said, #4 is what got me. Even though I had a green light, I didn't double-check the intersection to make sure nothing was coming. I was focused on getting to work on time, not watching for cars. I wasn't rested enough, and I made a bad judgement call to go through without checking.
As cyclists, we condemn drivers for being inattentive (and rightfully so!) but we are just as capable of making the same mistakes. Take your time, spread some goodwill, use your brain, and keep on cycling!
I recently ran across an article on John C. Wright's blog (written by his wife) called "Redeeming Villains: How Not To Do It." It excellently makes the connection between the current trend of "victimizing" traditional villains, and "demonizing" traditional heroes. At first, I wasn't quite sure what to think, but the more I looked at it, the more I think she's on to something.
The gist of Wright's point is not that the villains can't be redeemed. It's that to do so, the writers have resorted to demonizing something else that would traditionally be wholesome, or was wholesome in the original story. Of course, nobody is really evil, because they're just victims, too! Poor villain. Nobody understands their struggle, when all they want is to be loved. And destroy all that is good.
The danger underlying this thinking is that it insinuates everybody who does something wrong has good motives, deep down... if you dig deep enough or spin a back story long enough, that "there is good in all of us." The problem is, that's just not the case. This is the "not-my-fault" mentality, the rationalization of evil. The lie of "with enough love, anything can be justified." Wright even goes so far as to say it's a case of blaming the victim.
Let's look at some examples:
One of my favorite songs by my favorite band! These guys were killer at their live show (it's what they're known for). Into Your Veins by Five Iron Frenzy: http://youtu.be/zeyiBKsYQXQ
I'll be honest, I follow quite a few outspoken bloggers and writers in my day-to-day reading. I'm always interested in their takes on culture, current events, and whatnot. And yes, most of them lean towards my thoughts in several areas. I enjoy the challenge of thinking about difficult problems of life and faith.
But so far I've resisted the urge to post my own thoughts on "left" and "right" and right and wrong in the never-ending Culture War. Is this because I don't know what I believe? Is it because I don't want to offend anybody?
No. It's because I don't feel I need to proactively defend what I think, or try to convince others what I think is right or wrong. I know from personal experience that it's very difficult to change someone's mind unless they are willing to consider alternatives. And frankly, in today's internet environment, it's just easier to find a group of people that thinks like you instead of actually trying to defend your beliefs.
Should I be actively throwing my beliefs on social issues out there? Should I be overwhelmingly vocal about things that other people feel passionately about? I guess that depends on my reason for having a blog in the first place. Some things I am vocal about; some I'm not. Some things I just am not interested in discussing, and some things I need to learn more about before I would even consider it. Ultimately, I get to decide what I want to discuss because I feel it's relevant. Is that selfish of me?
Maybe if I were trying to hide what I believe, it would be selfish- some sort of defense mechanism. But the truth is, I just don't have much to contribute to those heated arguments, and I don't really like arguing in the first place. I don't feel the need to constantly prove everybody wrong, or myself right. If I believe something is true, it doesn't really matter if you believe it or not. It doesn't matter if I believe it or not, it will still be true.
I'm reminded that I don't have to comment on everything that's wrong with the world. God knows there's plenty of things I have issues with, and even more things that God has issues with. But it's not my calling to throw down the gauntlet and answer someone else's call to arms. If I make an issue of everything, then I will lose focus on the things that I really care about. One only has to look around to see what a mess our world has gotten itself into.
Therefore, I focus my efforts on things that I think everybody could use to dwell on. Charity, Simplicity, the Arts, Compassion, the meaning of a successful life. These are all things I care deeply about. That's not to say I don't care about anything else, but these are things I struggle with on a daily basis, and I feel qualified to speak on. This is what I'm most passionate about. I'm not condemning people. I like to think I'm encouraging people to think outside themselves, to ponder on things of faith that really matter.
Sure, I'd like it if everybody that read these pages would come to a knowledge of God the same way that I have over the years, but I don't expect everyone to be open to that. (Does that make me Calvinist? Lol.) I wouldn't want to tailor my writings to a very small minority of readers when I have so much more to say.
There will always be guys like Matt Walsh and Vox Day who will unabashedly (and successfully) beat people over the head with logic and facts, and a good bit of theology. I applaud their efforts, and I appreciate their candidness as the Culture War ramps up. They excel at apologetics and exposing logical fallacies, and I see no reason to try to emulate what they already are doing quite well.
I am the type of person who will simply make an observation (lob a truth grenade, as it were) and them calmly walk out of the room, leaving the recipient to sort things out for themselves. I'm not going to argue, I'm not going to plead, I won't fight if you get angry. Once the hot potato is in your lap, you need to figure out what to do with it.
Jesus wasn't Left or Right... when we try to confine God to our puny definitions of "right" and "wrong" we realize that everything we do on our own initiative ends up coming out wrong. The poor and needy don't care if you're Conservative or Liberal. The Kingdom of God isn't separated into Red or Blue.
Get right with God. Do what Jesus called you to do.
Everything else comes second to that, especially political ideology or socio-economics. If you're Liberal and you show love to everyone but Conservatives, you're a hypocrite. If you're Conservative and you don't show compassion and mercy to Liberals, you're also a hypocrite.
What I write here is meant to enlighten and encourage, not to destroy or attack. I will defend my beliefs if I feel it necessary, but under no circumstances am I required to do so. The Culture War will rage on, whether I am an active participant in it or not. I have simply chosen not to fight every battle that comes along.
We know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commands. Whoever says "I know Him" but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in Him: whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did.
- 1 John 2:3-6