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Nominal Me

I'm falling in love with my camera and taking photos everywhere I go. That, combined with my passions for politics, sports, religion and other things we all agree on, makes this blog persist.

My Photo
Location: Astoria, New York, United States

I'm born in Manhattan and raised in Queens.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Photo Essay: Soccer Fans

Yesterday, I attented the USA's national soccer team's victory over Panama, giving the Americans their third CONCACAF Gold Cup since the tournament began in 1991.

Here's a look at some of the people who saw the game in Giants Stadium. Of the 31,000+ people in attendance, I'd say half of them were ethnic Panamanians. It had the feel of being somewhere out of the United States (although I often feel that when I'm in New Jersey).

Most of the people seemed like normal, rational people. That being said, I think I found the missing link (sitting below, center).

The color of soccer fans was easy to see. You can learn things from these sports fanatics...like what the Panamanian flag looks like (see this woman's face).

The Panamanians were not the only ones getting dressed up. Uncle Sam was here as well.

The fans mixed well. Luckily, there are no longstanding disputes between Panama and the USA, saving ourselves from a Meadowlands riot. Unless of course they are still pissed off that we got rid of Manuel Noriega.

There was a soccer/football match...with the USA winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup via a post-penalty kicks.

It was a lot of fun considering no one scored a goal in regulation and overtime. There were a lot of close shots that made things really interesting. Plus, one doesn't get to hang out with Panamanians very often.

Other Photo Essays

Friday, July 22, 2005

Things To Do In New York: New York Public Library

When you're in New York City, you really have to check out the Fifth Avenue Library.

The building is not just a library, but a work of art itself.

The three story structure is an impressive, and worth walking around even if you couldn't care less about books.

Inside the reading rooms, you will find impressive paintings of various styles.

You'll meet exciting and glamorous people...and watch them read books.

The library is known for it's lions outside, but there is plenty to see inside as well.

There is a quiet beauty to the place.

Love is in the air!

The third floor hallway has some of the most impressive artwork you'll see in a library. Oh no, is that the Ten Commandments! Someone call the Supreme Court!

This art encourages tourists to stop by, which gives great opportunities for people-watching.

It is, first and foremost, a library however.

It's even got these quaint things called...books.

The place where people pick up their books has a old-train-station quality to it.

The ceiling, appropriately enough, has a sky painted on it.

It's a great place to read, research, and look around. Visit it on 42nd Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan!

Other Things To Do In New York

Friday, July 15, 2005

Random Quotes (7/15/05)

Here are some random quotes for the day...

Let each of you discover where your chance for greatness lies. Seize that chance and let no power on earth deter you."
-- Chariots of Fire

They said to another, behold, here cometh the dreamer... Let us slay him... And we shall see what will become of his dreams.
-- A plaque near the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot

when you don't take your opponent seriously, he becomes a serious opponent.
-- Larry Merchant

"To be bored is to turn down cold whatever life happens to be offering you at the moment. It is to cast a jaundiced eye at life in general including most of all your own life. You feel nothing is worth getting excited about because you are yourself not worth getting excited about."
-- Frederick Buechner

May you live in interesting times.
-- Old Chinese saying

There are a hundred roads to Rome. The important thing is to get there, not to use the same road.
-- Herb Helleher, Southwest Airlines founder

More Random Quotes

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

NCAA Football 2006

Blogging will be light this week, as I have a new time-wasting obsession...NCAA Football 2006.

I'm a fan of the game, and love the EA Sports football franchises. This one has a great number of improvements...some of which I'm exploring now.

Later on perhaps I'll post some thoughts on the game...but for now blogging might be light.

It's great!

Personal Stuff

Monday, July 11, 2005

Angie Lynn: Myspace Whore

As some of you know, I've been on MySpace for a while. I hardly ever use it...although through that and Friendster I have caught up with some old college buddies.

I have come to know of a new kind of spamming: Myspace whores. These are girls (supposedly) who send a message to everyone on the network in order to get contact information and active e-mail addresses.

Well Myspace whores are at it again...the most recent spammer is Angie Lynn Lee.

Myspace and Friendster have their place, but lately it's main goal is for people to get spammed. Angie Lynn is the latest candidate. She apparently contacted everyone in the network, and now has over 12,000 "friends".

Wanna bet Angie is a 40 year old fat guy pornographer, or just your everyday regular spammer?

She looks really good for a 40 year old guy though.

Well, to save you some trouble, here's what Angie has to say about herself:

About me:
Hi, one of my girlfriends told me about this site and how you can meet tons of people. She's already been here for a month so she has tons of friends and I'm looking to catch up to her so I'm looking to meet as many people as possible. I'm usually online nights and weekends, so if I'm online, hit me up and let's chat and mention you saw me on myspace.

Who I'd like to meet:
Anyone who's respectful and would like to chat.

Well, she seems nice enough. Had she e-mailed me personally I'd write her back. I'm not the competitive type though, so dealiing with 12,000 other suitors just doesn't do it for me.

One of the best things about people who invite everyone in the network to be your "friend" is the comments other people make about them. These comments are posted for all to see, and some can be quite comical.

Here are some of her comments:

ur ugly as fuck

thats fuckin disgusting, eww, u look like ur 50

ur flatter than girls at my school and they r 13-14...seriously that just plain gross

get naked for me and then send it to me because u are pretty hot in this pic

ur comments are kinda pathetic, bitch be hot? lol. Anyways sounds like that asshole who called you a bitch needs a good asswhooping, if he werw worth the effort I might... message me sometime

Ah, the Internet. It's lovely.

How do people possibly meet other people on Myspace?

Looking At Things

Friday, July 08, 2005

Retro Moment: James Stockdale

Today's Retro Moment is on Admeral James Stockdale, H. Ross Perot's running mate in the 1992 presidential election. Admeral Stockdale recently passed away at the age of 81.

He'll be remembered as the guy who said the line "Who am I? Why am I here?" and the one who fumbled with his hearing aid during the vice presidential debates. It's a shame, because in reading the transcript of the debate, one really learns who this man was and what he was all about.

He was the John McCain figure before the senator ran for president. He was a POW who had some hard times and learned some hard lessons.

There is wisdom in his words. There are things he has said that are still very relevant today. Here's one of them:

I know how governments, how American governments can be -- can be courageous, and how they can be callow. And that's important. That's one thing I'm an insider on.

I was the leader of the underground of the American pilots who were shot down in prison in North Vietnam. You should know that the American character displayed in those dungeons by those fine men was a thing of beauty.

I look back on those years as the beginning of wisdom, learning everything a man can learn about the vulnerabilities and the strengths that are ours as Americans.

Today, will we be courageous or callow?

The choice is ours America.

Other Retro Moments

Info on James Stockdale

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Things To Do In New York: Coney Island and the Cyclones

On Tuesday, for the very first time, I went to Coney Island in Brooklyn for a Cyclones game. I've lived in New York City (Queens) most of my life, but have spent very little time in Brooklyn.

Almost immediately, walking out of the Stillwell Ave. subway station, you see the "world famous" Nathans stand. While Coney Island has seen better days, it's still got some great sites to see. The first thing I noticed was that great smell of salty water nearby.

There I had a healthy and hearty meal. Cheap and nutritious!

But the real reason for being there was to see the Brooklyn Cyclones play the New Jersey Cardinals.

For the price of a cheap ticket, you can see one-A baseball in a really fun environment.

Even a little rain couldn't take away from the fun of the game.

The "Beach Bums" serve as cheerleaders for the event. The DJ at the PA system played some fun songs like "Hit The Road Jack" when the Jersey pitcher was taken out of the game. Unfortunately, New Jersey won, but it was still a fun time.

Check it out!

Other Things To Do In New York

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

New York Throws Away Its Olympic Bid

New Yorkers have a lot of pride.

We like to think that our city is the best in the world, bar none.

We like to think that everyone wants to come here, and all the big events should be here.

We like to think that New York is the center of civilization; it is somewhat like the heir apparent to ancient Rome.

New York got a wake up call today when the Inernational Olympic Committee awarded the Olypics to London. With the choice of London, one cannot logically come to the conclusion that New York was passed over due to the Iraq War. It was due to other reasons.

The fact is that New York City doesn't have what it takes, the facilities, to do truly big events anymore. We can't have the Olympics here, we can't have a Super Bowl here, we don't have a first-class convention center in Manhattan, and we don't have the political leadership to change that.

Rudy Giuliani is remembered as the man who saved New York from a lot of troubles, most notably crime and violence that plauged the city before his tenure. Yet he also the man who cleaned up 42nd Street, turning it from a haven of drugs, homelessness, and lawlessness into Disneyland North. The one block near Eigth Avenue used to be a place you wanted to avoid, yet now it's a place that we show off to our tourists.

You see, sometimes, government officials can revitalize the city.

Boy, do we need Rudy Giulianis at the state level. Senator Joe Bruno and Assemblymen Sheldon Silver, as well as the entrenched New York City Democratic Party establishment, have succeeded in their mission: keeping the Olympics from New York. They, for whatever political reasons, wanted to block the West Side Stadium from being built, and blocking New York's Olympic bid was just the way to do that.

The fact is that the things that made New York City great needed money and political will to happen. When you stop building for the future, all you have left is the past.

What kind of future does New York have if we stop improving our city?

More politics

Slantpoint: NYC Does Not Get Olympic Bid

It's Put Up Or Shut Up Time For New York
(Build The Stadium)

Things To Do In New York: Build The Stadium

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Q&A With Tim Lucas, Pastor

Today's Q&A is with Tim Lucas, pastor of the "Liquid" ministry.

Lucas' minstry gained national attention recently at a Gay Pride event in New Jersey. I had a post about it, which you may find here.

He's the one on the left.

Why did you become a pastor?

When I graduated from Wheaton College (IL) with a degree in English, I actually vowed I’d never do two things: 1) teach English, and 2) pastor a church.
Why? On the English side, I wanted to write rather than teach. On the pastor side, I grew up in the evangelical church and decided polite Churchianity was something I could never give my life to.

However, Jesus had other ideas— you know what happens when you make a vow to God that begins “I’ll do anything, Lord, EXCEPT...”
Six months out of college, I got my first job teaching English. I taught at a public HS for eight years, which was the best possible training I could have received for learning how to communicate and connect with emerging generations.

At the same time, my wife and I began leading a Sunday School class in our parent church (www.millingtonbaptist.org), which began growing as we tried to make it a place for folks who found modern church either boring, irrelevant, or stuffy. We began addressing real-life issues (such as sex, for instance) in a way that resonated with everyday folks who are hungry for authentic conversation rather than pat answers.

That little class grew over the next four years into Liquid (www.liquidchurch.com), where I now serve as the Lead Teaching Pastor.

All in all, I guess you could say the Lord dragged me into ministry “kicking and screaming.” I didn’t want to teach, I didn’t want to pastor... Here I am a Teaching Pastor.

Jesus has a sense of humor; I’m proof of that.

Where did you go to seminary? What were your most memorable experiences there?

I attended seminary at Bethel Seminary of the East and did work at their satellite campus in Manhattan. I had a fantastic instructor named Wyndy Corbin, who helped open my eyes to the whole postmodern cultural transition that we’re currently experiencing. My worst experience was learning Greek. To this day, I still only know a little Greek-- he owns a fantastic diner down the street from me. (ba-da-bump)

Seminary can be a “cemetery” for young leaders since most traditional models are equipping pastors for ministry in a world that no longer exists. In the West, we’re living in a post-Christian culture and there are only a handful of seminaries actively addressing the real needs of emerging church leaders. One that I’m currently excited about is Biblical Theological Seminary (www.biblical.edu) in PA, which is committed to training missional leaders for the emerging church and teaching them how to be in dialog with postmodern culture.

Do you consider yourself an evangelical? A conservative Christian? What, and why?

If by the word “evangelical” you mean that I’ve made a personal commitment to entrust Jesus with my life, and am learning how to live in His Kingdom through His Word in the Bible, then sure you can call me an evangelical. However, I’m probably most comfortable with the term “Christ follower”-- that gets it back to the basics. I follow Jesus— I trust Him impeccably with all areas of my life. My passion is not for any particular denomination, political ideology, or religious agenda.

Unfortunately, I think the term “conservative Christian” carries with it all sorts of other baggage including political views and particular social positions. Although the mainstream media uses the term rather broadly to lump diverse believers together, it most often conjures an image of folks who are white, middle class, and Republican. All sorts of ideas and agendas have been tacked on to the label “conservative Christianity”-- many of which have little to do with the Gospel (including hard right positions on gun control, taxes, government regulation, etc.)

I had a fascinating conversation with a black drag queen at Liquid’s recent outreach to the gay community. My African-American friend was wearing an orange kilt and was a large man— about 6’5, pushing 250 lbs— and clearly gay. When he learned I was a follower of Christ, he said: “Oh, I could never be a Christian.”
When I asked him why not, he replied: “Honey, unless you got a magic wand, I don’t think I’m gonna be white and Republican anytime soon!”

That was so revealing to me: this man believed that to follow Christ would literally require him to change his skin color and political convictions! Why? Clearly, his view of Christians owes much to the extraneous stuff attached to the popular labels “evangelicals” and “conservative Christians.”

Too bad for him... Worse yet, for us!

If a gay person came up to you wanting to be a Christian, would you tell them that they had to stop being gay to walk that path?

I would simply tell him/her what Jesus says is necessary for anyone to enter the Kingdom of God: that is, to simply admit one’s need for the Father’s love and forgiveness and trust in Jesus. From what little Greek I do recall, “repent” simply means to change one’s mind— to rethink one’s life and beliefs in such a comprehensive way that it results in radical life-change.

That radical life-change will undoubtedly include many things as they start following Jesus— and I’d never mislead a gay person into thinking their sexuality will somehow be exempt from the touch of God. Speaking personally, I’m heterosexual— married and monogamous— but Jesus lays claim to my personal thought life and challenges me on private lust issues all the time. (Which in some ways seems unfair since I was born heterosexual, live in a hypersensual culture, and often experience attractions to images or people outside my marriage that seem quite natural)

But here comes Jesus with His whole “I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has committed adultery with her in his heart” teaching... and I’ve come to understand that He wants a say over my private sexual behavior also.

(Following Jesus can be quite painful— any real growth is— but the change is good, I tell you.)

So I’d make no guarantees about what God is/isn’t going to do with someone’s life, once they decide to entrust their life to His Son Jesus.

Case in point: If you told me 17 years ago, that someday I’d be spending my Sunday at a Gay Pride Festival handing-out bottled water to crossdressers and transsexuals, I’d tell you to repent from smoking weed.

But here I am— and here goes Jesus changing me in another area now. The most recent thing to go has been my judgmental and hypocritical attitude toward gay and lesbian folks; Jesus is performing spiritual surgery on my heart and replacing private scorn with unusual love and compassion.

How’s this for irony: Jesus’ renovation of my heart is not only making me a better person— it’s actually making the world a better place for gays and lesbians.

The GLBTI community actually owes Jesus a huge shout-out in my opinion: There’s one less religious bigot in the world (me) because of Him!

How actively involved should Christians be in politics and social issues?

I don’t think it’s whether or not they should be involved— nor is “to what extent?” at the heart of the issue. Rather, I think the question “in what manner?” will be most decisive in the decade to come. In my opinion, the much-ballyhooed “culture war” model is tired, worn-out, and badly in need of replacement. Folks are tired of the polarizing rhetoric that does little to change hearts and minds, but rather simply causes opponents to become more entrenched in their polarized views of the world.

Most folks think Christians are simply people who are AGAINST all sorts of things (the list of “anti-” is a mile long: anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, etc.) Most folks on the street have little idea of what Christians are actually FOR! (sometimes I’m not sure if Christians are clear on that either, but that’s a whole other issue...)

Anyway, here’s what I’m thinking: What if Christians adopted a model of engagement that didn’t focus so much on what we’re against and tactics of political warfare (ie: lobbing bombs & verbal barbs in the media... issuing screeds and circulating petitions).

Rather, what if we instead marshalled our energies to “bless” our enemies-- rather than simply work to undermine them?

Practically speaking, that’s one of the reasons our church decided to reach-out to the gay community in NJ and humbly serve them at their Gay Pride Festival this past summer. We didn’t want to demonstrate against homosexuality & gay marriage so much as we wanted to demonstrate God’s love to them in a practical way. So we gave out free, ice cold bottled water to everyone on a scorching summer day.

Folks were grateful for the water, but even more significantly, I think our “activism” challenged many stereotypes of what Christianity is all about. I think many GLBTI folks were surprised to discover that we’ve actually inherited our brother Jesus’ ability to unconditionally love all people (yes, even those with whom we morally disagree).

GRACE, pure and simple, is the church’s one great distinctive. As author Philip Yancey has noted, grace is the one thing that the world cannot duplicate, and the one thing that it craves above all else. So if Christians are really serious about generating political change that makes a difference in the world— which is the transformation of hearts and minds (not the legislation of morality)-- then we’ve got to recover Jesus’ teaching about loving our enemies. And yes: that means even those (especially those?) who are at odds with a traditional biblical worldview.

If you listen to the angry rhetoric of many “politicized” Christians, you get the impression that if we just pass more stringent legislation in Washington, then our country will turn around. Less mercy; more laws! Stigmatize gays; shame single moms; keep out the immigrants, etc.

Unfortunately, as Jesus pointed out to the conservative religious leaders of his day, a focus on moral values apart from grace is deadening.

At the end of the day, it’s only God’s grace that can truly transform the angriest of hearts and offer hope to a jaded world. In my opinion, Christians must learn to play that elusive “grace note” if they’re really serious about cultural renewal.

It seems that you are trying to be "cool" in terms of look and style, yet you are promoting a faith tradition that is almost 2,000 years old. Do you see a paradox in that?

I’d challenge the notion that I’m “trying to be cool”-- “cool” is a pretty elusive thing when your daily routine involves regularly changing infants and hauling the contents of the Diaper Genie out to the curb. If by cool, you mean that I don’t wear a suit-and-tie to church in favor of jeans, I’d advise you not to read too much into that. Sometimes folks have holes in their jeans not because they’re trying to emulate fashion trends— but rather, because their pants are simply worn-out (but still comfortable).

Liquid no doubt has an alternative feel to it that resonates with emerging generations, but usually there’s a pretty decent reason for using postmodern tools to communicate the ancient, timeless message of Christ: Sometimes the sanctuary is darkened in favor of candles— that has less to do with looking like a VH1 acoustic set, and more to do with reconnecting with long-forgotten liturgical forms. (the Hebrew people in the OT considered the smoke rising from incense to symbolize the prayers of God’s people ascending to heaven)

Sometimes I use movie clips or other digital art in my teaching— that has less to do with appearing “tech-savvy,” and more to do with recovering the ancient teaching style of Jesus who told stories, used everyday illustrations, and drew powerful visual pictures from everyday culture to help communicate the Father’s love to lost people in a powerful way.

I don’t see a paradox in what we do at Liquid— I simply see the recovery of some ancient forms of worship and teaching that perhaps the modern church has overlooked, but we’re re-discovering again.

What should others know about your ministry? What should others know about faith?

The message of the Gospel is timeless— the methods we use to communicate it are always changing. That’s actually one of the reasons for our name “Liquid”-- as a ministry, we want to be fluid and adaptable when it comes to discovering new wineskins through which to pour the living water Jesus Christ offers our thirsty world.

If folks want to know more about Liquid, I’d suggest they check-out www.liquidchurch.com for a little taste of what we’re all about.

Better yet: I’d love the chance to welcome them personally if they’re ever in NJ and can come visit us some Sunday night. We’ve got folks from every background— whether unchurched or overchurched, you’re likely to find traveling partners for your spiritual journey at Liquid.

If folks want to know more about faith, I’d suggest they read one of the Gospels (I’m reading through Luke right now) and simply ask Jesus to reveal Himself to them in a personal way. I hope folks never confuse institutional church with Jesus. Liquid is full of folks who have given up on Churchianity, but have not given up on Christ just yet. Best part is, Jesus refuses to give up on us. No matter how we’ve blown it, what kind of trainwreck we’ve made of our lives, we are loved beyond measure by this God of amazing grace.

Liquid is simply a place where everyday folks are accepted “as is” and invited to experience the unconditional embrace of the God who gave His life for theirs.

I'd like to thank Tim for his time.

Other Q&As

Other articles on Religion, Science, and Philosophy

Q&A with Oscar McCloud, pastor

Photo Essay: Gays and Billy Graham

How Christian Compassion Gets Complicated: A Story on the Liquid Ministry

God Votes

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy Birthday America

It's July 4, Happy Independence Day America.


Saturday, July 02, 2005

Live 8 Thoughts

Here are my Live 8 thoughts in stream of conciousness format while watching MTV...

I can't take Will Smith seriously. He does the "snap every 8 seconds thing" which is cool, but I can just imagine him getting "jiggy" with it.

They plugged an online petition called the ONE campaign.

London gets U2 and Paul McCartney to open up. We get the Black Eyed Peas. What the hell?

Looks like a 90% white audience in London.

The Black Eye Peas are singing a Bob Marley tune. Ugh. They have the Marley family there. Did they ever figure out where Bob Marley was going to be buried?

Kanye West
just said that AIDS and crack are manmade devices to hurt black people. Maybe being a college dropout wasn't the smartest thing in the world to be.

Did MTV just use "Drive" by the Cars for a montage on African poverty? Why not use a Spice Girls song next?

Bob Geldoff just called Madonna the "Queen B of Rock-N-Roll". Huh?

What's great is that the African woman with Madonna (who is described by the Associated Press as "African girl Birhan Woldou") seems totally lost and clueless during "Like A Prayer" song. Madonna seemed to be dragging her up and down the stage. It would have been cool if she tried to kiss her like she was Britney Spears.

Madonna has really slowed down.

Shakira is a babe.

Does Linkin Park really suck that bad live?

White guys are big pimpin with Jay-Z. Nice.

It's 4PM. I've been watching for four hours. What am I supposed to do about poverty in Africa? Seemingly...nothing. That's pretty sad.

Joss Stone is a fantastic singer.

Sting's reworked lyrics for "Every Breath You Take" was interesting.

MTV did a good job with a infomercial on the G8 and what issues are involved. I'll give them credit, they did show President Bush talking about the issue too.

I think I hear Jars of Clay in the background of one of MTV's reports from Philadelphia. I don't think Christian rock is going to get any TV time on that network.

Was P-Diddy really on a Proactiv acne commercial? Does P-Diddy need a job?

I'm bored. Too many highlights, not enough live music. I'm going out to dinner.

This was a fun show, but it was no Live AID. Yes, I'm old enough to remember Live AID. It had a clear sense of purpose and a call to action. I'm not sure if Live 8 will be remembered as a success in the same breath as that event. The only thing I was asked to do is gain knowledge. So now I know that there's a problem there. So what? I don't have any greater sense of hope about the situation in Africa than I did when I woke up this morning.

Will someone tell me what the point of all of this was?

This goes out to all of my fans (so much for Madonna's children's book)...

The Ho-Ho Cognitive Process says that far "too many musicians are jumping onboard to give their careers a boost and gain from the publicity, not to mention the charge that their ego will get when they can say "Of course I care about the little people. I performed at Live 8"."

BBC ranked the London performers.

Looking At Things