Top Songs of 2011

Here are my pics for the top songs of 2011. Obviously Adele is number 1. I haven't felt this way about a song since Jewel's Foolish Games! I'm going to have to do a post about that song. Stay tuned for that in 2012. The rest of the songs are in no particular order, but my votes for best video go to either Rihanna or Fitz and the Tantrums.

 1. Adele - Someone Like You

 2. Young the Giant - My Body

 3. Fitz and the Tantrums - Don't Gotta Work it Out

 4. The Kills - U.R.A Fever - Apparently from 2007, so I'm a little late to the party. I don't care.

5 . Company of Thieves - Tallulah

 6. Cage the Elephant - Aberdeen

 7. M83 - Midnight City

 8. Foster the People - Helena Beat

 9. Active Child - Hanging On

 10. The Band Perry - If I Die Young

 11. Niki &  the Dove - The Drummer

 12. Nero - Promises

 13. Cobra Starship - Don't Blame the World it's the DJ's Fault

14. Brett Dennen - Surprise, Surprise

 15. Rihanna - We Found Love Mostly for the video


Missions and the Judas Principle

I read a book once that claimed Judas betrayed Jesus because he was impatient for the promises of salvation. I posted about it once, but I can't find it now. I don't remember the book and I don't know who wrote it. If these omissions will make it hard for you to follow my musings below, then you should stop reading. I intend to get these thoughts down in this post without linking to the work of others or justifying my thoughts with other facts. I'm not really sorry about, I just thought I should warn you.

Ok, so Judas was tired of waiting. He took matters into his own hands and "forced God's hand." (the quotes are there to avoid a discussion of predestination) Jesus is arrested and put on trial. Surely God will step in and fulfill the promises Jesus  has been making. He, of course, does, but  not the way Judas expected. 

This brings me to the every-tongue-tribe-and-nation theory of evangelism. This theory states that once the Gospel has been shared to every people group in the world, Jesus will return. 
Matthew 24:14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

Revelation 7:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands
I don't disagree. Clearly the Bible states that people from every tribe will be before the throne to worship. Therefore, each group must hear and believe the Gospel.

Paraphrasing an article from a monthly publication of a prominent missions organization:
Thousands of people groups have already heard the gospel only X to go and we'll have the work all wrapped up.
This missions organization has been working diligently to spread the good news of salvation and I can only commend them. I don't mean this as a criticism of them, so I'm not going to name them.

This is more of a thought than a criticism anyway.

The thought is this: Are we (those who spread Jesus) relying on ourselves to bring about the second coming and, if so, is it a mistake?

My answer to the second part of that question is an undeniable yes. If we're relying on our own work, then it's a mistake. If we believe that God can't do His work until we've completed ours, we're wrong. If we think we've discovered a way to force God to do something, then we're making the same mistake that Judas (theoretically) made.

The bigger question is the first part, not whether it's a mistake to rely on ourselves, but whether or not we're doing it in the first place.

I think the answer is that some of us are and some of us aren't. Either way I think most of us focus on the end result of all those tribes finding salvation. Which is great, but the work is done at the individual level and each individual is important, too.

Thought complete, I guess. Any thoughts? But, be warned here, too. I may not respond. It's my blog, I can do what I want. 


Church...not so blergh after all

I mentioned in my previous post that Angie and I were trying a new church today. We did and it went well.

I was feeling like I didn't want to do this at all. I had a whole list of reasons why I didn't feel like starting over with a new church.

Then Angie said:

"This isn't really about us."

Why does she has to be so simply right sometimes? It's annoying.

We went to the Grandview Christian Assembly and we'll be going back. Not because it was super awesome, but mostly because it wasn't so terrible that I forgot it wasn't about me. It seemed earnest enough and it didn't have the smooth varnish of fakery that the last try did.

Not to make it sound like just a collection of not-too-terrible attributes. It was good and I don't mean to sell it short, but I have become very critical of churches and I am trying to be fair.

The people did truly seem like nice people trying to grow in their relationship with Jesus, and that's the most important thing.

Plus, apparently, this whole worshiping God thing isn't about me and sometimes it means doing what your wife says.



Angie and I are trying a church this morning. I'll report back and let you know how it goes.

Maybe it'll be great, but I'm dubious.

I'll report back and let you know how it goes.

I'm aware that most of my anti-church issues are internal rather than external, so I'm going to try to work through them.

The Boy Who Waited

Tonight I went to the Grandview Theater to watch Doctor Who. This is no big deal, except that I went by myself. To a theater. By myself.

I wanted to watch the show and had no one to go with, so I had to decide between sitting and home feeling sorry for myself or going alone.

One time I went to Iraq by myself. That was a much bigger deal and sometimes I forget that, if I can do that, I can probably do most things that confront me.

The flip side of that, though, is that I was once confronted by Iraq and all that goes with that - language, culture, finding community, worshiping Jesus. Today I'm confronted by things that feel stupid. Like whether or not to go to a theater.

What I'm saying simply is that most things I do seem dull and I don't want to do dull.

I feel like I'm waiting. Between adventures in the past and adventures in the future.

I know it doesn't make sense. What I've written is vague and shallow feeling. It feels like that to me, too.

I hate to use television as metaphor (or maybe I love it), but I feel like a former companion of the Doctor. In this metaphor, the Doctor = adventure = God. I feel like I have been left behind and the adventures now continue with other people. I hate that most of all.

I'm done thinking about it for now.


13 Months Fitness Challenge

I want to go overseas again. I want to travel, I want to live in a new culture and I want to have adventures with Angie and Nila.

But, there are some areas of my life which need to be brought into line before I do this. I can either take actions or I can stay at home and complain.

So, I came up with a plan today as I was walking 13.75 miles - that's another story.

There are three areas of my life to which I will apply a fitness regime; physical, financial and spiritual. Each area will have goals and the whole plan will have a set timeframe for successful completion. For obvious reasons, the whole thing will last 13 months.

Physical is the most straightforward. I have lost 60 pounds over the last 18 months. I need to lost 60 more over the next 13. That means About 5 pounds per month. I'll write about how in another post.

Financial may be the hardest. Since going to Iraq, our finances have been messy. We've made strides forward, but we have a ways to go. The goal here is to be debt free and saving after 13 months. We're not far from debt- free, but close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades. I'll detail this too at a later time.

Last is spiritual fitness. Angie and I need to be part of a group of people living a Christ-centered life. We're not now, so we need to take active steps to be. We know how to do this, so we will.

As I said before, more details to come.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Columbus,United States


In Remembrance of Halabja - 2006

I wrote the following for Kurdishaspect.com.

Five years ago this month, protesters burned down the Monument of Halabja Martyrs. As an outsider, I have always found the symbolism of the burning memorial to be the height of poetry and a high point for Kurdish democracy. The message of the burning is simple: the past, present and future of Kurdistan belongs to the Kurdish people.

I was living in Sulemania at the time and I clearly remember being told, “the politicians come every year and make speeches, but they do nothing for Halabja.” After 18 years, some people had had enough. Halabja had become (and still is) a metaphor for the years under Saddam. Post-Saddam, the city and the 1988 tragedy became a symbol of victory seeming to say “Look how far we have come, Kurds. In spite of this tragedy, we have become victorious.”

The problem, of course, is that in 2006 Halabja still very much looked like the city it had been on March 17, 1988, the day after the attack. Halabja still lacked basic services and the people of Halabja felt as though they were being ignored by the Kurdish government in whom they had put their hopes for renewal. The politicians came every year to show their commitment to the people who had suffered so terribly, but the people only heard words without seeing any action.

Halabja had become caught up in the narrative of Kurdish nationalism and Kurdish nationalism is the tool that the Kurdish government uses to keep order.

There are two versions of Kurdish nationalism; one that’s based on institutions and personalities and one that’s based on culture and history. Often the lines between these two are blurred and the average person believes that the government or a politician are the as important to their culture as a song or an event, like Halabja. It happens here in the US, when we confuse party affiliation or devotion to the president with patriotism.

Governments tend to prefer this blurring even to one strictly built around themselves because it allows them to co-opt great events to further their aims. It’s a cynical view, yes, but one which certainly played out in Halabja leading up to 2006. In Halabja, politicians and leaders had co-opted the tragedy and the suffering of the city.

The Halabja tragedy was slowly taken away from the people who had suffered and was turned into a talking point. The anniversary was becoming a day for politicians to make grand speeches because the heart of every Kurd turns to Halabja on that day: people are listening on that day. A politician could say, “I am a good Kurd. I love Halabja. See me making this speech from Halabja – I really came to this poor place and I am among these poor people. I am a good Kurd.”

The shared tragedy became a political rally, no longer shared, but owned by the leadership. The memories of 1988 put in a museum and made the official artifacts for remembrance and a part of the political narrative of Kurdishness.

The only way to truly honor those that died in 1988 was to remove the spectacle of the anniversary and the only way to remove the spectacle was to burn down the memorial. The people took the memory of Halabja away from the politicians and brought it back to the people to whom it had always belonged

The lingering question, however is did it work? It should have worked. The symbolism was so clear. Politicians must have read the writing on the wall. The people must have stood up that day and continued to stand up. Right?

The unfortunate answer, though, is that it didn’t work; nothing changed.

So, who’s to blame?

Surprise, it’s not the government, or at least not the government alone. A government that had done so much in so few years in any other society would be applauded and the KRG are moving forward, albeit slowly. More importantly, the Kurdish government is democratically elected. So, corrupt or otherwise, the current government belongs to the voters.

That means that everyone is to blame and everyone forgot the message of March 16, 2006: the past, present and future of Kurdistan belongs to the Kurdish people.

One day the current protesting will end. It has to. Will the government and the people continue to work for change? That remains to be seen, but change must be made in Kurdistan, not in the burning of things this time, but by igniting the fire in the Kurdish people.


Ah February, My Old Foe

Dear February,

Have we always been enemies?

I didn't know we weren't friends until 1994. Perhaps you've always been out to get me, but I didn't notice until that winter.

It was the winter Dad died. That was the worst thing you've done, but I certainly not the only thing.

Even before Dad died in on Feb. 10, 1994, you hit us with that terrible ice storm and the ungodly temperatures. In my mind I remember temperatures of 40 below. That can't be right, but it gives some idea of howI think of you.

This year you tried ice again. But you were crafty this time. Just enough to be dangerous and terrible, but not enough to let me have a couple of vacation days. Boo to you, sir.

Today we'll see 40-50 mph winds and cold temps. Angie worries that we'll lose electricity.

I am writing today to say that I am done fighting you February. It turns out you're not much of a foe anyway. I mean, even if we lose electricity, odds are you won't take it out as long as August did in 2008 - or was it 2009? Either way, I'm done fighting with months.

Find another foil for your shenanigans as I will no longer be giving you any attention.

Plus, I start a new job next week. That's exciting.

I'm not suggesting a friendship, but I am done fighting you.

Cheers, February.


Fight Vanzandt

I need some help. I got a call from Aram. He's living in Wales and stays with an elderly gentleman named David. David has recently been scammed out of a LARGE chunk of change and they asked me to help.

Here's what I know:

A representative from the Vanzandt group called David and convinced him to pay them for shares in various start up companies (I've got a list of them below). The shares are worthless.

Smart Grid Systems, Inc
Seven waterfront Plaza 500 Ala Moana Blvd,
Honolulu, Hawaii 96819
Telephone (702) 664-0042.

Selva Resources Corp
565 Las Vegas Boulevard, Suite 723
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109

Green Energy Live, Inc
1740 44th Street, Suite 5-230
Wyoming, MI 49519
Phone:(866) 460-7336
Fax 616-582-5943
Karen Clark
Green Energy Live, Inc


I have requested more info on Vanzandt itself and I'm currently waiting for that. According to the UK Financial Services Authority (FSA), Vanzandt is not authorized to do business in the UK (http://www.fsa.gov.uk/pages/Doing/Regulated/Law/Alerts/overseas.shtml).

I did a little research and found out that this type of scam is refered to as a Boiler Room Scam.

Such firms are often involved in ‘boiler room’ activities and pose a high degree of risk to consumers. They frequently engage in tactics including cold-calling members of the public offering shares that later turn out to be worthless or high risk. - FSA

David's next steps are to file a complaint with his local police, the FSA and a City of London Police Task Force called Operation Archway.

David's ultimate hope is to recoup some of his money. To do that, as I understand it, his first steps are to find the country in which Vanzandt is registered and find out what the local laws are.

I know it's a long shot, but is there anything we can do?


The VanZandt Group has phone numbers in Switzerland and are also listed on the ASIC (Australian Securities and Investment Commission)cold-calling blacklist and the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority list of Invester Alerts.

Ph: 435 002 593 and 44 308 3535
Fax: 434 302 117

December 20 10 in Pictures