Friday, January 21, 2005

An Hour a Week 

About a month ago, I read an interview with a man in Texas who truly lives like a Christian. He sold all his worldly possessions and has devoted his life to teaching the Gospel, taking care of the poor, and revealing the hypocrisy of evangelical leaders who do neither of these things. With what little he has, he is making a positive difference in a bad part of the city where he lives.
Edited to add: Found the article! "God Doesn't Need Ole Anthony"

One thing that struck me when I read that article was his statement that we could solve the homeless problem in America if only every church would offer to personally help a few people get back on their feet. I thought of this again today when I read "The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience", an article lamenting the fact that most Americans who profess to be Christians are not living in accordance with their beliefs.

One statistic that stood out to me was that "Forty-nine percent of all born-again Christians with a biblical worldview have volunteered more than an hour in the previous week to an organization serving the poor, whereas only 29 percent of born-again Christians without a biblical worldview and only 22 percent of non-born-again Christians had done so," according to George Barna in his book Think Like Jesus. I thought those numbers sounded kind of low. And then I thought, What did I do in the last week to help the poor? Did I spend at least an hour serving those in need?

I'm ashamed to say that I did not. But it gave me an idea for a way to do better. If those of us who call ourselves Christians would pledge to spend an hour a week, just one hour a week, helping those in need in some capacity, imagine the change we could see in our communities! There are two obstacles I see in implementing this plan:
  1. Convincing people to spend the time
  2. Hooking up people willing to help with those who need their help

The first problem could be solved by enlisting the help of churches to get the word out and get some positive peer pressure going. The second might be solved with a simple web site or flyer listing local organizations that need help along with contact information.

Now, for those reading this who do not consider themselves Christians, I'm not saying you can't or shouldn't make an hour a week commitment to help the poor. Please do! The more people who help, the better chance we have of reducing poverty and its associated ills. I'm just saying that people who call themselves Christians have a responsibility to help the less fortunate, whether with time or money or both, and we need a renewed commitment to that responsibility.

Right now, this is just a preliminary idea in a rambling blog post. But I plan to discuss it with a few people and see what happens.
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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Star Gamecocks Arrested 

The police have finally made arrests for the theft of computers, video equipment, and other valuable items from Williams-Brice Stadium back in November. At the time of the theft, conventional wisdom was that some of the seniors on the football team were responsible. Angry at having lost their last chance to play in a college bowl game and not worried about losing their place on the team since they were graduating anyway, they took out their frustrations on the school, or so people speculated. But now, it turns out that two of the players arrested are Syvelle Newton and Dondrial Pinkins, the two starting quarterbacks.

I have to say, I am particularly shocked that Newton was involved. He's only a sophmore and has now most likely blown the opportunity to start for two legendary coaches in his college career. Sure, coach Steve Spurrier might let him play eventually (all arrested players have been suspended from the team), assuming Newton doesn't go to jail, but by that time it's likely he will have found another quarterback. Spurrier is out recruiting right now, filling the holes in his roster.
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Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Best News from the Macworld '05 Keynote 

The Mac Mini and iPod Shuffle are neat, but the part of Steve Jobs' Macworld keynote speech that really had me salivating and reaching for my wallet was the GarageBand demo. Specifically, the music notation feature.

I've wanted for some time to get software that will write what I play and a MIDI keyboard to go with it. (My Yamaha keyboard is old enough that it doesn't support MIDI. People I tell this to are always skeptical, but it's absolutely true.) For me, writing music by hand is slow and inaccurate, and dragging and dropping notes on a computer screen isn't much better. I know that GarageBand is a recording tool, not a notation tool, but it would be nice to use one piece of software for everything as my notation needs are pretty minimal. I don't know for sure whether I can print from GarageBand, but even if I can't I can just cut up some screencaps, add chords and words in Freehand, and turn the whole thing into a PDF.

There's some relatively inexpensive music notation software I've been thinking about purchasing (can't recall the name right now) which also records while you play, and is designed for printing. But the interface is awful. It's designed for people who want to create orchestral scores, and adding words and chords to a simple melody is clunky; really no better than the hack described above. Besides, this GarageBand update has me excited. If it will get me off my sofa and in front of the microphone recording songs for posterity (and possible podcasting), then it's worth every penny.
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