Haiku Two…

Whenever I add “Two” to anything–an event, a movie, a contest–I cannot help adding the words “Electric Boogaloo,” all because of this movie, which I never even saw. I realize that by linking to that video I run the risk of all comments on this post being only about cheesy 80’s movies, but that is a risk I am willing to take.

However, silliness aside, this post is the official announcement for the second annual haiku contest hosted by The Dassler Effect. Here are the results from last year’s contest. Here are the list of fantastic prizes for last year, which were culled from the junk in my room 🙂

Well, it is past time to hold this contest again. Here are the rules:

  • Compose two haiku, one on the Autumn season, one on the Winter season. Technically, haiku should consist of three lines with 5-7-5 syllables respectively, and somewhere in the haiku there should be a word that evokes the season that the haiku is about (it need not be the word “Autmn” or “Winter”). No titles are necessary.
  • Mail your entries, either in an email or as a Word attachment, to neil.e.das@gmail.com, preferably with the subject line “Haiku contest” by Monday, October 20th.
  • The winner(s) of the haiku contest contest will be announced, hopefully, on my birthday, All Saints Day–whatever you prefer to call it–on November 1st.

I say “winners” because there will be prizes for best Autumn haiku, best Winter haiku, and best overall pair, which will be the grand prize winner.

“Prizes,” you say? Well, yes, of course, a contest must have prizes. Alas, this is one part of this announcement which is incomplete, because I have not completed compiling the amazing list. I do know that it will include a voucher to have one picture taken by the me, of the winner’s choosing, which I will matte and frame and either deliver or mail to wherever the winner is located. Check on this blog and here and here and here for some options. Also, the editor of catapult has very graciously offered to publish the winning entry. And, though it might be hard to believe, more prize amazing announcements will follow. In other words, I just moved and my junk is currently packed up in boxes 😉

The other part of this announcement which is incomplete is our list of judges. Three, make that four, well-qualified judges have already agreed and more may be added. And though it may sound a bit too statistical for poetry. Each haiku will be assigned a score between 1 and 10 and then and I will crunch the numbers.

Finally, finally to get your creative juices flowing…

driving the long way
the soybeans in yellow-green
herald the autumn
the wooly worms are
crossing the small country road
winter will be hard

Francis Schaeffer Lecture Series, Fall 2008, On Politics

Looks like this will be an interesting and timely series. It is free, but registration is required.

With 18 months of unprecedented media coverage, a barrage of TV advertisements, and a couple of surprise decisions…the upcoming Presidential election has been the most talked about Presidential process in American History. Yet, as questions emerge about the policies of the candidates, the conversation dwindles concerning Christians’ role in politics. Annually, the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute brings together noted Christian thinkers and speakers to discuss critical issues facing the Church and society.

The theme for the fall 2008 Francis A. Schaeffer Lectures Series, to be held October 3-4, is Taking Citizenship Seriously. The keynote speaker for the event will be Dr. Jim Skillen, president of The Center for Public Justice in Annapolis, Maryland. Other noteworthy speakers include John Hancock, president of John Hancock & Associates in Chesterfield, Missouri, Rep. Cynthia Davis, Missouri State Representative, 19th District, and Dr. Anthony Bradley, assistant professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Covenant Seminary. Please join our discussion concerning this timely event

Will Indus and Cath Bas

Well, I have not taken any photos for a long while that were not linked to some event. So, last night on the way to the pub, it was great to pull over and shoot these night shots with my trusty cardigan as a tripod on top of my car. The first abbrev is obvious; the second a bit more obscure, though it should be fairly obvious if you live in St. Louis. The abbrevs themselves are in honor of Sweet Chicken.

Crossing the Line: A Cardinal Fan Cheers the Cubs

Recently, I had the privilege of sitting in the 8th row at Busch Stadium along the 1st base line to watch the Cardinals play the Cubs in what proved to be a pivotal game. The two teams had split the previous two games and St. Louis was closing in on Milwaukee and had the chance to grab the wild card. The previously golden Cubs had been slipping of late and it looked as if the June Swoon might have simply waited till September. But it was not to be for the Cardinals. In the bottom of the 9th, with two men on, the Cubs got Albert Pujols to pop-up to end the game. The Cardinals went on to lose seven in a row; the Cubs righted their ship and went on to win the division.

Which brings about this revisiting of pictures from my Chicago trip several weeks ago. Though there is enmity between the Cubs and Cardinals which can be nasty at times, generally it is a fairly good natured rivalry, as photo number one below illustrates (even if it does make my blog temporarily R-rated, or I suppose that would be PG-13 as that designation allows one F-bomb per movie). And, in the spirit of the good natured side of the rivalry, I think I am going to cheer for the Cubs in the post-season. It would be poetic justice for them to win the World Series exactly 100 years after they won their last one. I mean how often does one get to participate in or see the close of any epoch that lasts 100 years.

So, here are some photos of the the Friendly Confines; its fans and surrounds; the irrepressible Haray Caray immortalized in a statue in front of a clever Coca-Cola banner; and a fan with the jersey of Zambrano (who pitched a no-hitter earlier this month) looking hopefully off into the distance. Go, Cubbies!

(Mis)Appropriations?: Hennapalooza, Vampire Weekend, and White Hip Hop

This past Sunday night I had some people over to my place for some Pakistani food. Well, it was a little more elaborate than that. There were about 50-60 folks, I think, and we had lots of food and an Egyptian hookah and henna. And there was a lot of henna-ing going around, some of it very creative indeed. Which leads to the title of this post, though I should note that I write not because I am really in conflict about the goings on the other night, but merely to posit some questions.

Now, when I grew up in Pakistan, applying henna, or mehndi, was almost exclusive limited to a bride and her friends applying it on a special night before the wedding where there would be singing and dancing and all sorts of merry making in an exclusively female crowd. And, yes, as a little bit of a momma’s boy, I went to some of these as a young, young lad, where inevitably, as on just about any other occassion, the women would pinch my cheeks. I am not sure why Pakistani women like to affectionately pinch the cheeks of little boys, but it really hurts. However, I digress.

In Pakistan, henna is also used by women, and some men, to dye hair, which for dark Pakistani hair gives it an red-orange hue in the sunlight. More startlingly, some old men dye their beards with henna. This man has done both. In high school, some of the girls, and yes I joined them, dyed their hair with henna. One girl’s hair, which was sandy brown to begin with, came out orangutang orange, which is alright if you are punk rawk and all, but that was not really her thing. I actually have henna-ed my hair numerous times, but have given it up, because, well, it makes all that nearly-turning-forty white hair turn, you know, orangutang orange, and I am certainly to old to be punk rawk.

Though the Wikipedia article on henna implies that it can be used more broadly than just for weddings but also for other celebrations, in what sense is it OK, or not, for a bunch of folk in the American Midwest to apply it just for kicks? Does there need to be any connection or even nod to the culture(s) of origin or not?

Again, I am not really conflicted about the validity of our henna-ing the other night, but in our increasingly connected age are all similar appropriations OK or are some not cool? For example, Nathan and I went to see Vampire Weekend the other night, with their African-pop influenced, preppy music. Is it OK that they borrow African guitar stylings? Which begs the question, is it OK that African pop uses the electric guitar?

I am beginning to think my line of questioning is answering itself, and I have expressed earlier on this blog that I believe that present cultures are really nothing more than mash-ups and admixtures of previous cultures, as people come into contact with one another and rub off on one another, even as some of those interactions involve power of one group over the other and prejudice. Witness the history of rock and roll and jazz.

But, still, are there ever times when the appropriations can be too much, too silly, too assuming, too much like stealing? Do individuals have free reign to fashion their identities in any way they choose culturally, like the white, suburban lover of hip-hop who tries to dress the part? One of the reasons I am interested in people’s views is that I am hoping to write an article on the intersection of culture, race, and identity. Also, I think we are living in an age of great and exciting cultural exchange and formation, and wondered what thoughts people may have concering that.

P.S. I still don’t like fusion cuisine, though, I know that is entirely inconsistent and probably not exactly true as I am certain many things I love are cultural hybrids.

A question of guidance: a reflective review of John’ Eldridge’s Walking With God

The various understandings of how Christians receive guidance from God are intriguing to me. In this review, Carolyn Nystrom reflects on John Eldridge’s take in his new book Walking With God. I am very like the people Nystrom describes in this paragraph:

A second concern regarding Eldredge’s book is that this kind of moment-by-moment seeking of God’s will is not for the marginally sane—which includes many of us at various stages of our lives. Seeking God’s guidance for each momentary choice can become so paralyzing that a praying Chris-tian fears to take even one step out of his or her current circle because it might go in some wrong, un-God-guided direction.

And I also worry about the issues that Nystrom raises in the second half of the same paragraph:

Alternatively, a person accustomed to constantly listening for an inner voice from God may begin to mistake all sorts of inner urges and motives for God’s voice and thus lose the basic spiritual skill of self-examination. And, sadly, some Christians really do hear voices and see visions brought on by schizophrenia. Schizophrenics fairly often mistake the hallucinatory voices of their illness for the voice of God.

Even so, I also do not want to quench the Spirit and be insensitive to the voice of God. In the final analysis,  my approach to guidance is likely closer to what I imagine Nystrom believes, which is only skectched out briefly in this article, though I imagine more fully here.

Pondering responses to a famous christian coming out of the closet

Well, the title of this post may be a little misleading because I do not know exactly how famous Ray Boltz might be considered. However, if you spent any time at all listening to Contemporary Christian Music in the 1990’s, you have likely heard the anthem “Thank You.” At any rate, in some circles this is very big news and sections of the blogosphere are already humming like angry hives, with people arguing back and forth, in ways that only a medium granting everyone equal access can generate. And, I am certain there are some venomous responses, and I am certainly not interested in hearing any of those here.

In fact, I get weary of even wading through the posts to hear the back and forth and filter out the incidental arguments that develop to glean the few comments that offer the Gospel. Here, though, by the editor of Charisma, a Charismatic evangelical magazine, is a blog post that I really admire for speaking the truth in love, which is a phrase we often bastardize by assuming that speaking the truth or a part of the truth alone is loving in and of itself or that offering and embracing love is the only truth.

For other resources on this topic, I highly recommend Covenant Seminary’s resource page. Either type “homosexuality” into the search box, which is the easiest option, or select it from the subject menu. The Francis Schaeffer lectures, particularly the ones by Drs. Winter and Williams, are excellent and well worth the listen.