Saturday, October 31, 2009

How to Make a Big Banner

Banners and Signs can be expensive to print. Obviously if you’re interested in a permanent sign, you may want to invest in one of these. Also if your sign needs to have graphics or reflect on the image of a business or organization, the cost can be worth it. But if your message is more important than your image, and your money can be better spent on your mission than on your signs, consider using this technique.

Go to a Wal-mart with a Fabric Center. Other fabric stores will do, but will cost a little more. They have a section where you can buy tablecloth by the roll. Choose a light colored vinyl with felt on the back. This can be bought for about $3 a yard. Good size signs are 2 to 3 yards.

Next go to the Home Improvement Department, and buy painter’s tape. The blue works pretty well on a white background. You can also use black. (Or if you happen to have a black vinyl back, use the off-white painter’s tape.) Do not use anything but painter’s tape.

Plan out your sign, checking your spelling. Use box letters 6-12 inches tall. Try to keep the wording simple. I’ve seen where some people have smaller words and larger phone number or website. Or do it the other way around.

Don’t stress too much about layout, though, because you’re using painter’s tape, which is removable. If you mess up, peel it off and fix your mistake. Test letter size. Stand back and see if your sign is readable at a distance.

When using your sign, hold it up by hand, one person at each end. Or sew the ends into a loop and insert PVC pipes. The felt back makes the banner a little heavier to resist wind and hang properly.

Roll or fold to store if you want to reuse your sign. Or peel off the painter’s tape and store the fabric to use again for a different message.

If you do a good job, from a distance no one knows your sign was made with tape, and when they’re closer they’ve already gotten your point. Use for protests or church organizations. Advertise a garage sale or party. Make a welcome home sign for a special occasion.

To God be all glory.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pigfest Summaries October 2009

Below find the resolutions (wording not exact) made at my latest Pigfest and my semi-summaries of the debates.

The IRS Code giving tax deductions for mortgages should be abolished to aid the market. – This resolution was given as a means of getting government out of the “capitalist” market. What is capitalism? Hasn’t the government always interfered? With what are we comparing government interference if their involvement was a part of America’s historic success. Why do we say that is not good? The tax credit inflates property prices through the incentive increasing demand. It also encourages the economy of debt. Eliminating this credit would reduce paperwork. What should be the role of government? What is the government doing with the taxes it collects, and wouldn’t it be wasteful to give it more? Isn’t reducing taxes for any reason a step in the right direction? Or is this an attempt to pay more to Caesar of that which is his? Why stop with this credit – why not abolish all credits or all taxes? Where would you stop?

Ronald Reagan was the best president in US history. – Were his fiscal policies good or bad? Under his administration, taxes were reduced. But the debt increased. Whose fault is the spending and taxing? The US budget is the responsibility of the House of Representatives. But Reagan had veto power if he thought the debt was unacceptable. Was he good or bad on defense? The United States, it was claimed, won the Cold War without firing a shot because of his leadership. However, with hindsight we know that Russia and former soviet countries still exist, their ideology unreplaced. What is most important in determining best? Were there better presidents? Knowing what makes a president good is useful thought for future voting. Perhaps we tend to falsely ascribe outcomes that were the result of something other than his administration. Should our vote be based on performance examples or biblical ideals? The Bible is not specific on principles for choosing presidents. One “best” example is not as good as determining the best policies in each category of presidential accomplishments. Best is relative to one’s priorities.

The call of Christians is not to redeem the world’s culture, but to provide a comprehensive alternative. – What is the place, then, of the Great Commission? Can/should Christians still participate in secular culture (politics, for example)? What is culture? Does the culture need redeemed? Some parts of culture are amoral. World’s culture was defined as secular/ungodly culture, not global or national cultures. How are Christians different from unsaved? Does the resolution present a false dichotomy? Can’t we both redeem the culture and provide an alternative?

Missionaries and Christian workers who demand support are beggars. – Paul the apostle didn’t beg. He worked to support himself. Churches funded him voluntarily. Giving salaries to missionaries is different from sending a gift by them to help the poor. Is the issue really accountability in those to whom we give? What is the money for? Is this about the size house they live in? Is it about the size house we live in? Is it wrong for missionaries to live in a style better than the people they’re trying to reach? Competition between mission agencies sometimes centers around the lifestyle provided. Maybe missionaries should just publish needs: plane ticket, housing… Or for at least their first short-term trip, they should pay their own way, proving their work before asking others to pay for it. All Christians are called to ministry; why should some get paid? Do we act like writing a check excuses our lack of ministry? Does this resolution apply to pastors? Should we stop tithing?

Providers and Consumers of entertainment should do so only with God-glorifying ulterior motives and for a limited term. – Can’t entertainment – and whatever we do – be done to the glory of God? Some said there is a significant distinction to be made between work and entertainment or luxury industries. Others said there is no difference, that all work in the United States is superfluous, just to feed your family. Most things can be done to glorify God, but when we entertain ourselves, we don’t think about it; we just ‘relax.’ Chilling is ok; you can glorify God in ‘me time.’ But are you? More important works are being neglected because so many are employed in entertainment. Shouldn’t we apply our effort and genius to feeding the poor in Africa, for example?

God is hindered from bringing revival to America by lack of prayer and by unbelief in the Church. – Can God be hindered? Is He choosing to be hindered? Would He get more glory if he sent revival when His people prayed for it? Is revival in the church, or among the unsaved, or of the country’s economics and morality? Revival in individuals in the church and as a movement reaching the unsaved affects the whole country. Why do we think God should send revival to our country? Is the issue prayer and belief, or repentance? Don’t we the Church need God to put a desire for repentance and revival into us in the first place? Maybe a lot of things don’t happen because we don’t believe when we pray. What about when we do believe, but our prayers aren’t granted? How does God get glory from that? How do we know revival isn’t happening in America? Would we know if there was revival in the sub-cultures of immigrant populations?

Intelligent Design is a step in the right direction. – The movement is a step in the right direction for the church and for science. Science is a word normally misapplied to philosophies of origins. Is I.D. science? Science was defined by some as necessarily repeatable and observable, but not as the equivalent of facts or truth. Science must accord with facts and truth, however. Evolutionists claim to have observed amino acids forming in a laboratory given hypothetical early earth conditions and electric shocks, leaving us with two conclusions: the amino acids still were not life; and intelligence created the soup, directed the energy, and interpreted the experiment. Should we push for I.D. to be allowed in science class as an alternative to the other falsely-called ‘science’ of origins? Or could we go back to teaching religion and morality in school and put I.D. or creationism there? Intelligent Design in the resolution is used as a summary for both “open-mind” exegetical conclusions from facts and “already decided” eisegetical Creationists looking for evidence in facts. Philosophy has touched so many fields of study today that its application to each subject might best be presented along with the subject: in English class, in biology class, etc.

I learned yet more about hosting pigfests. Again I need to be both more assertive as a moderator and less talkative as a debater when I don't have anything to add. I need to stay focused on helping the discussion to remain on topic and go in an edifying direction. One of the guests suggested that when explaining the rules - or even in the invitations - give an example of how a resolution is stated. The resolution needs to be unchanged during the entire segment - no amendments. Without this rule everything gets confusing and unwieldy. Also, people need to be encouraged to allow for universal participation, even if it means deferring to others when you have something to say.

One of the things I love about Pigfests is not only that we learn about the topics of the debate, but we learn about relating to each other. Some of my friends brought their kids, and I love that, because more people need to know that kids aren't in the way. We the pre-parents need to see examples of parenting in action. And a lot of us need our baby fixes. = )

To God be all glory.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Filthiness, Foolish Talk, Coarse Jesting

Is it wrong to use bad language? Ok, so Paul talks about it in Ephesians 5. What does he mean? Is there a list? Were there taboo words in Greek, and didn't biblical authors use some of them?

How do we define profanity and cussing? Is it based on the meaning of the word? Are there some things polite people just don't talk about? Do word origins or associations make a word profane? What about the words that, when used properly, are not profanity (often religious words like God, hell, damn)? Is a word appropriate if we don't mean it in a profane way? What about the opposite? If we are really angry, and feel the situation warrants, can't we be like everyone else and use those words to express ourselves?

- Profanity is lazy. Find a word that means what you want to say. Usually people don't literally mean the crude words they use. Even if they do...

Some people say that Christians can use profanity as a matter of liberty, but probably shouldn't cuss around non-Christians or weaker Christians or those who would be offended by such language. Which situations would make cussing acceptable? Is there nothing better to say?

Other Christians think that we the pious should use common language, including all its coarseness, to relate to non-believers. To prove that we are not hypocrites, we should even use the language in church.

What about non-believers who are turned off by the better-than-thou purity of Christian's speech? Shouldn't we become all things to all men so that we might win some? Think of how the world will respect us for having the courage to be real.

How do the non-believers know what is bad language and what isn't? Should we be encouraging them to do something they think is wrong? Is it conforming to the world to accept the world's list of filthy language? Or is it conforming to the world to use language enunciated by the basest criminals?

Do bad words change over time? Can a word become bad because it is adopted by bad crowds, or misapplied? Can a bad word become good through frequent usage and acceptance? Is the culture becoming crass or the crude word being redeemed?

Does Paul's admonition in Ephesians extend beyond a certain vocabulary? Does he constrain our topics, our attitude toward certain topics? Does he demand an alternative?

Are there other instructions that apply to our speech? For example, the word 'modest' in the Greek is not limited to what people wear. Shouldn't we guard our speech to ensure its modesty? Excluded styles then would be those called vulgar and obscene. A little later in Ephesians, Paul says that some sins ought to not even be mentioned among Christians. Is there any way we practice this in Christian circles?

Shouldn't we be the same in every circumstance, around all people? Can't we be ourselves? Should Christians be ashamed to let non-believers know how they really are? But doesn't that mindset contradict the call to holiness and purity, love and edification?

It does. The Bible teaches to refrain from filthy speech for a reason. It's application is wide, aimed at motive, thought, and utterance. Our mouths were made by God for better things, and His Spirit in us would use our lips to preach the good and lovely truth. (Philippians 4:8?)

Compromise is unacceptable. This is one of the last bastions of Christian separateness, of a light that distinguishes us from the darkness. The light offends the darkness, but also shows the way to life.

Guarding our speech isn't easy. It starts with right ideas, thoughts and intentions that agree with God's perspective. Then out of love we communicate to each other - not making light of sacred and serious things, nor laughing at sin - but encouraging our fellows to love and good works. We pursue excellence in all things, even in taming our tongues (from gossip, slander, lies, coarse jesting, foolish talk, mention of unspeakable sins, and from foul language).

I have left some unanswered questions. Can words move between acceptable and unacceptable? Who decides? Does context matter?

But I believe that a reliance on the authority of the Bible (knowing that if something was written, it has meaning and importance still today) will guard us from straying. The beggarly excuse for Christian community that the world offers, built around crass talk and coarse jesting, as I mentioned in my previous post, must be rejected! Trust that our relations with non-Christians are overseen by a sovereign God who alone saves sinners will give us freedom to walk in wisdom and holiness towards them.

To God be all glory.

Profanity, Cussing, and Christians

A while back I was at a Bible study where, if I were to summarize the point, we studied the justification for cussing. It was one of the most frustrating Bible studies I have ever attended. How can one take the clear statement of Paul in Ephesians 5 and make it mean nothing - or the very opposite? Positions in the group ranged from situational ethicists to ultra-conservative to Christian libertarianism to utter liberality (without much Christian consideration).

Hardest to refute, for me, at the time was the question of definition. Who defines which words are profane, and which jokes are coarse? And if the majority culture decides, what does that do to Christian absolutism - let alone the call not to be like the world? I believe that the cultural inacceptability of certain words and topics is a remnant of a spiritual life in this civilization, not part of the 'rudiments of the world' to which Christians should not be conformed. It is obvious, at least, that profanity is usually associated with non-Christian cultures.

The Pyromaniacs give a refutation of this point at their blog, using the thrust and context of Paul's words in Ephesians 5. Phil Johnson says that cussing is the emblem of the godless brotherhood. In lieu of real Christian community, their weak substitute for love is this commonality built on treating sacred things lightly and good things badly and modest things crassly. Of such things they talk. For such talk they laugh. Paul was discouraging us from settling. I prefer the edification of a loving assembly that urges me to align my perspective with God's. Not that we cannot make jokes! We were made to laugh! But laughter is crude that pokes fun at that which God has called serious. Lightness in conversation leads to lightness in living.

I've said enough for one post. Read Team Pyro's blog on cussing. I tell you, it's good. And read my next post. Comment, too. I am interested in discussion. Rules here are that comments may not contain any foul language.

To God be all glory.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Note to world: Alibis are only effective if they correspond to the time of accusation. To say, “The accused was playing darts with me at my house!” as a defense, when the crime for which he was being tried happened two days prior is irrelevant. How infuriating, to attempt to refute the testimony of one man, who witnessed a crime, by stating that in the whole of your experience, you never witnessed the defendant commit a trespass! Again, though a person may have done great things, none can erase the guilt of even a single act of wickedness. No judge would allow evidence of good behavior in a case determining guilt. Reasonable doubt is applied to the trial at hand, and not to the character of the criminal.

To God be all glory.


There is a word. It is a good word, with strong, Old English origins. The word means ‘scarcity’, and is spelled D-E-A-R-T-H. Being a person whose reading far exceeds her experience of audible vocabulary, I chose the pronunciation of this word. Despite associations with the Dark Side in Star Wars, I opted for the sound that rhymes with hearth. Then one day some friends heard me say dearth and decided I needed to learn that the pronunciation actually rhymes with earth.

And I still don’t like it. Earth is such a full, substantial word, like a foundational grunt. A word meaning ‘famine’ ought to have a hollow, agonizing emptiness, where echoes live. Dearth should have a sound reminiscent of starving, and less like ‘birth’.

To God be all glory.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

JRR Tolkien: Myth, Morality & Religion by Richard Purtill

Very few people, I guess, run around this world confessing that they are just trying to hold on to their stuff as many years as possible. This motive is twofold, the first referring to possession, and the second to duration. Both are matters of personal control and not of humble gratitude. These are the topics of JRR Tolkien’s works. Archenemies Melkor and Sauron are driven by these corrupt desires. Smaller characters may seek smaller dominions, even to the petty Sackville-Bagginses and the miller near Hobbiton and Bywater. Elves and men war with the double temptation to gain and to keep – place, power, people, and property. Each race presents his different side to the question, Elves must endure but cannot truly own any part of the fading world. The changeless cannot keep the things they love from changing. But Men think the answer is in gaining immortality. If you listen for wisdom in The Lord of the Rings, hear it in the voice of Faramir. To the topic of immortality he relates the history of his people: "Death was ever present, because the Numenoreans still, as they had in their old kingdom, and so lost it, hungered after endless life unchanging.”

As an antithesis to the vices above Tolkien hints at a simple life of love and sacrifice, daily gratitude for the blessings that point to a giver. Such open-handed bliss is the eternal joy of his worldview. It is the fate of every overcomer, to borrow the words of Revelation.

Exploring these points and more is Richard Purtill’s JRR Tolkien: Myth, Morality, & Religion. The book was interesting, but also a bit disappointing. As a fan of Tolkien, I desired more attention to his words and motives and less a case for the definitions and distinctions of science fiction and fantasy held by the author.

To God be all glory.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Denver Broncos Football and Fandom

One of my best friends tells me that my one quirk, the part of my personality inconsistent with all the rest, is that I like football. I don’t personally see this as a contradiction; maybe there are other things about me she doesn’t know. My brother does not like football. Or at least, though he may enjoy it, he sees it as an attack on the priorities of our nation, and more particularly, his family. Sure, football is a great team game of hard work and strategy. But people are obsessed, and paying millions of dollars to men who do nothing but feed our entertainment lust is unproductive. “Hello! What about Hollywood?” My brother feels almost the same about movies. Except that movies can communicate important messages, an aspect of entertainment rather lacking when it comes to sports.

All the same, I see football as a sort of strategy class and people-watching session. Living in Colorado, I became a fan of the Broncos when they were doing well enough to win back-to-back Superbowls. And for several years afterwards, I stuck with them, engaging in the family ritual of changing into team colors after church and sitting down with pizza and a pop in front of the television to watch the came and coach from the couch. I adopted the title of Morale Coach, wanting to encourage our players to play hard and to be good sports, not to fight or taunt or through tantrums. Years of disappointing seasons and gloomy Sunday afternoons took their toll, so that I wasn’t sad when I committed to do a Bible study on Sundays during football.

Fair weather fan? I can justify that. Last year was the worst, the Broncos harboring a team full of players who didn’t seem to want to win. And if the players aren’t trying and don’t want to win, I’m not going to sacrifice my happiness cheering for them. Much as I admire Coach Shanahan, I have to admit coaching ought to impact the attitude of the team – a team that had its share of personal trouble, losing a teammate in a dramatic drive-by shooting and generally being involved with a party crowd up to no good. Still, one has to follow Mike Shanahan’s example of accepting the need for a new coach driving the Broncos.

This season is a whole new ballgame. A young coach named McDaniels came in and, holding his head high through some early controversy, established his game. There’s a lot of new talent – or new to Denver – on this year’s lineup. Our running backs aren’t signature Mike Shanahan anymore. But our defense can play, our punter is good, and our offensive line is holding long enough for a no-name quarterback, Orton, to come through with his plays and make all of us rethink his place among the league’s quarterbacks. Play has been clean, with few sloppy turnovers.

I’m not saying the Broncos don’t have their weaknesses. What I’m pointing at is energy. The defense sees the ball coming towards them, and everyone around takes a lunge at it. There’s no casual, “he’s not my man to cover” attitude, or wimpy shoves representing themselves as tackles. On offense, when there’s no hope left of making the first down or of scoring that big run, the running back, Moreno, pushes for a few more opponent-dragging feet. Introducing a creative new formation, called the Wild Horses, the offense has been willing to take risks, and capitalize on unexpected opportunities (read: deflected passes caught and run for big plays).

The Broncos are 5-0, and it’s all about enthusiasm. After the overtime win this Sunday, the coach took a leap into a celebration hug with one of his guys, a player I don’t recognize, a nobody – of whom the coach is proud, with whom the coach has rapport. Everyone was slamming their fists into the air, jumping and yelling. The last time the Broncos won their first 5 games, they won the Superbowl, and I became a fan. This year, a fan is reborn.

To God be all glory.

Slow Going?

“Hello down there! Slow going?” – Inigo Montoya, Princess Bride

Slow going down here in the blog world. I have two book reviews to post, and a blog written up about laughter, even one about football.

“This is not as easy as it looks.” – Man in Black, Princess Bride

My blog is published on two different host sites: Blogger and Wordpress – neither of which have been cooperative recently. Blame might be shared by my own laptop and internet provider, as well. And when I have been on my computer, late into the nights and early mornings, my work has been directed towards by business, the one linked on the sidebar here but rarely mentioned. It has a new name, new look, and even some new products coming just as soon as I can get the pictures taken.

“I don’t suppose you could speed things up?” – Inigo Montoya, Princess Bride

Three years ago I started this business, hoping to learn a lot about business and accounting without going to school, needing something to do with the extra money I had lying around, and of course wishing to earn enough income to stay home full time. Self-discipline is something I can do, but only with encouragement. And sometimes, when things are just too hard, I actually need help.

Large Mi-Re-Do Business Card

“Throw me the rope.” – Man in Black, Princess Bride

Some of my good friends have been encouraging me lately. They also have their own business. We had a long talk about believing in our products, about wanting to make sure that we’re not selling junk, but to be willing to settle for marketing goods and services that won’t revolutionize the world. My brother asked me why I think people should have what I’m selling. Questions like that make me think, and usually when I think, I get answers, which turn into the blurb about each item that appears on my website.

Assistance has come in concrete ways, too. Several of my friends have advertised for me and referred acquaintances to my business. The friends above are going to print my government-regulation-required care and contents tags. And my brother even offered to help with some HTML for my webpage.

“I do not mean to pry, but you don't by any chance happen to have six fingers on your right hand?" – Inigo Montoya, Princess Bride

One of the other goals for my business is to build relationships with customers (thereby changing the world – I just can’t escape that motive!). Sometimes all it takes is opening the conversation, however unexpected or odd.

“I’m not left-handed either.” – Man in Black, Princess Bride

Running a business is a risk. Putting my creativity out in the world for judgment is scary. I could lose money. I could waste time. But there is power in the unexpected. That’s what I’m trying to offer on my website. For sale is an eclectic supply of handmade and home-designed accessories that are unlike anything the rest of the marketplace has to offer. Some taglines I’m using or toying with are: “Mi~Re~Do: Reviving Declining Melodies” and “Buy Mi~Re~Do. Tilt your perspective.” By thinking through the practical and aesthetic worth of my products, I’m trying to change the way my customers think about – and live – ordinary life.

“Get used to disappointment.” – Man in Black, Princess Bride

Still, it’s been three years, and though I’ve sold several items on Ebay, and ventured into Etsy, I have almost zero client base. I have designed several business cards, and been too timid to hand them out. Marketing is nonexistent. And my room is overrun with unsold inventory.

“I’d just as soon destroy a stained-glass window as an artist like yourself…” – Man in Black, Princess Bride

Artists and dreamers cannot be kept down. We will keep creating, used to our disappointments but pushing forward anyway. Companies will succeed because they persevere where others failed, and offer goods that others don’t. When Buttercup cried, “We’ll never survive!” on the margins of the fireswamp, Westley the eminent business coach countered, “Nonsense! You only say that because no one ever has.”

To God be all glory.