Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog

April 29, 2008

Condo for rent

Filed under: christianity,wealth — theburts @ 9:21 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Much of our lives lately has been consumed by fixing up our condo to rent. Cleaning (at which our two moms are INCREDIBLE), painting, patching, and more…almost every free night after work has been spent there getting it ready to show. Since it’s way too big for Amanda and I to live there (about 2,500 sq ft), and since the market isn’t the best for selling right now, we’ve decided to rent it out. It’s now officially on Craigslist here.

If we can’t find tenants who want to live in this nice part of town and pay this much rent for a big condo, we’re going to move in when our apartment lease is up and live there until we sell it. In the meantime, we’d be searching for a house, or apartment building, or farm, or something…

The last 2 years of my life have been somewhat formative; they have changed me a lot. Everything was easy until I discovered that it was possible to really follow Jesus’ teachings today, even in America where we’re sometimes so distanced from so many of the things Jesus taught about. Back then, I was climbing the job ladder and trying to make more money, I invested in this nice condo to begin building equity, I shopped at TJ Max (yes, even for home decor occasionally!), when I wanted something new I bought it without much hesitation…and then I begin reading about rich America and begin to see how I was buying into the American dream philosophy and too easily accepting what culture taught me was normal. I read things like this quote from St. Basil:

“Who is the greedy person? It’s him who doesn’t content himself with what he has. And who strips? He who steals what belongs to the others. And you think that you are not greedy, and that you do not strip the others? What was granted to you, in order for you to take care of the others, you took it and you made it your own. What do you think? He who strips the clothed is to be called a thief. How should we name him, who is able to dress the naked and doesn’t do it, does he deserve some other name? The bread that you possess belongs to the hungry. The clothes that you store in boxes, belong to the naked. The shoes rotting by you, belong to the bare-foot. The money that you hide belongs to anyone in need. You wrong as many people as you were able to help.” St. Basil (taken from Sojourners magazine)

So I (along with my friend Josh, going along the same path) moved out of this huge condo in Belle Meade to north Nashville, to an area that the city has all but abandoned. In community there, we often discussed owning property, money and finances as they relate to our Christian faith, investing…and I was often challenged to think differently about these topics, or at least see them from a different angle. So now here are some questions that all of this has led to regarding what to do with the property that Amanda and I now own. We chose to live in an apartment instead of buying a home right away, and continue trying to rent the condo to help pay off the mortgage. But now what?

1) We own a large home, 2,500 sq ft could house several people easily…are we being greedy to rent this out rather than working through Safe Haven to house a homeless family in it (like we’d originally planned with another house we were trying to buy pre-wedding)?

Whatever you think, we want to be held accountable on what we’re doing with $1300 a month income. It could be so easy to slip back into a life of self interest…

2) We don’t want to be in debt…we don’t believe that staying in debt is either healthy or what God intends for us. So in that way, paying off a mortgage is a very good thing to do. But we need to be encouraged not to overlook charity in the meantime. If we give all our extra money to the mortgage and none to the poor, we overlook the immediate need of our neighbors even though we still may be using the money for a good cause (getting out of debt). We want to be close to the poor now, not just in either distant acts of charity OR future plans to give lots of money. Yet getting out of debt will allow us to eventually do greater things for those in need. So my question here is: How do we balance these two good things?
A. Paying off loans / getting out of debt, so that we can be freed up to do more for the poor
B. Serving immediate needs of the poor

It’s basically the same as the decision to invest…I can give more money, probably, if I wait and invest it and have a million dollars in 10 or 20 years instead of 200,000 now. So which is the wise and stewardly thing to do? And to this I would disagree that the wisest way would always be to save, invest, and give the larger sum at some point in the future. I just know there has to be some balance to this.

We’d love your input! May the Lord lead us in his footsteps, even through dangerous areas. And, on a lighter note, may he direct our paths, or at least keep us in good humor, as we venture over our heads in condo repairs. :)  Peace.

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April 21, 2008

Declaration of Delirium – Upcoming Summer

Filed under: Just for fun — theburts @ 1:25 pm

And the last column of my entire career in humor! This one’s really just as bad as the last. Sorry. I’m not real sure if anyone actually read these columns…but if you did, hope you enjoyed the light hearted break from blogging. Soon, we’ll be back to our regular blogging, random and infrequent as usual.  :)  Peace.



April 20, 2008

Dalai Lama and Creation Care

Filed under: christianity,creation care,Religion and Philosophy — theburts @ 8:36 pm

It’s interesting that I came across this article on the Dalai Lama’s speech…just this morning at church we visited the verse in John where Jesus says “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” Judi (our pastor) discussed today how that, too often, we might rather say “actually, no one comes to the Father except through our approval…” (speaking as a person, or even a church) I don’t want to be the one who decides who comes to the Father, think I’ll let Jesus keep that job.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. I believe that Jesus Christ is who he said he was, and can boldly proclaim that “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” as we do every Sunday. I believe it to be true, just as Jesus said that he himself was “truth.” And I believe that Jesus is the way. Following Jesus as Lord will not guarantee position, friends, riches, comfort, luxury, popularity, fame, or a long life…in fact, many times it has been and will be just the opposite. However, Jesus the son of God, and also the way of life we learn from his life and teachings, is the Way for which I’m willing to lay everything else aside. Through that, I believe, we will truly have life abundantly. Judi did point out that she wasn’t saying that all religions are the same, you just pick and choose whatever feels right to you and all is good.

Simultaneously, I wonder how often God uses folks following a different “way” to carry out his plan. If he can use an ass to talk to Balaam, why can’t he speak through people who don’t believe in his Son? Is it true that acts of selfless love or compassionate serving are from God whether the doer believes in him or not? (as C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, if I remember correctly) And is it just coincidence that non Christians sometimes say things which sound very…well, Christian? I’m no theologian (I love this phrase, it always feels like it excuses any stupidity which might have just slipped from my mouth or fingers), so I’ll not answer and instead just give you this article to mill over. Let me know your thoughts.

Dalai Lama calls for greater focus on inner contentment and passion

The United States and other wealthy countries need to downscale their lifestyles and try to focus more on inner contentment, the Dalai Lama said today.

There simply aren’t enough natural resources on the planet to support all 6 billion people on Earth imitating Western lifestyles, which consume large amounts of water and electricity. Because there are limitations on external material resources, but not on internal ones, it’s better to seek contentment and peace rather than material things, he said.

The Dalai Lama, the head of the Buddhist church, gave two lectures today at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, one on Buddhist texts and, in the afternoon, a lecture on the environment sponsored by the University of Michigan. Both were attended by more than 7,000 people.

Outside, about 600 to 700 people protested, university officials said, most supporting the Chinese government and the Olympics.

The scene inside Crisler Arena was slightly surreal, as video of one of the world’s religious leaders with his hands folded was projected on an overhead scoreboard, surrounded by ads for Mountain Dew, AT&T and Meijer.

All people need to take responsibility for the environment in their daily lives, doing what small things they can to make a difference, the Dalai Lama said. He said he showers instead of taking baths, which conserves water, and turns out the lights when he leaves a room. “It’s a really serious matter,” he said.

April 18, 2008

Declaration of Delirium – Death by Term Paper

Filed under: Uncategorized — theburts @ 11:57 am

I really didn’t want to post this one. It’s just dumb, politically offensive, ridiculous and somehow I said “wee” instead of “see” at the end. Maybe that’s the funniest part…a mistake that made “one can wisely wee…” But anyway, I’ll excuse myself, again, by stating that I was only a teenager and not yet mentally developed (I’m still working on that second part).  :)  So, without further ado,  here’s the worst of my work as a humor columnist…

(on a side note, my neck is definitely yet slowly improving)

April 17, 2008

Declaration of Delirium – Sluggish Behavior

Filed under: creation care — theburts @ 10:01 am

The week thus far:

  • Most exciting moment – catching 8 bass at Montgomery Bell while camping
  • Most stressful moment – getting ready (still not there) for yard sale Saturday
  • Most painful moment – not really a moment, more like the last four days, the worst crick in the neck I’ve ever had (but it’s finally going away)
  • Most embarrassing moment – because of said crick, I had a lengthy massage during which the massage therapist found two ticks on me. thankfully amanda was there and pulled them off for me. :)  (could this be a “you might be a redneck” joke? …if you’re treated to a massage and they find ticks…?)

Guess that’s enough for now. Here’s another column for you to check out. This is the most serious column of all of them, or at least the last sentence. Though I no longer believe it to be wrong to consume alcohol in moderation, I very much appreciate that I was taught about the dangers of alcohol as a youth. And I am glad that I had the courage to stand up for my beliefs in a creative way, even at the risk of being ridiculed by peers.

Oh, and by the way, this one’s dedicated to our slug loving friend, Mr. Chris!!!   :)

April 15, 2008

Declaration of Delirium – New Year’s Resolutions

Filed under: Just for fun — theburts @ 8:37 am

Here’s the 4th of 7 columns…enjoy it, or something.

On a side note, the camping/fishing trip this weekend was great. Caught 8 delicious bass. :)  The only thing negative about the trip is that, somewhere along the way, I developed a tremendously painful crick in the neck. I took off work yesterday after seeing one patient, and Amanda stayed home from work to help me get in and out of bed (yeah, it was that bad…I could barely move my head without cringing in pain, and absolutely no position was entirely comfortable). I had a wonderful massage by our friend Christina (thanks again!!!) which gave me some range of motion back and made yesterday evening much more comfortable. Still painful this morning, but I’m trying to stay positive that it will wear itself off (especially with the occasional muscle relaxer I’m taking).

So here’s to checking eyeballs when you can’t move your head. :) Cheers!

April 14, 2008

And so shall we…

Filed under: christianity,creation care,Religion and Philosophy — theburts @ 11:25 am

As most of you know, Daniel and I have been attending a United Methodist church since before Christmas. We don’t know much about the U.M. denomination, since Daniel grew up in the Church of Christ and I in the Assembly of God / Southern Baptist / Non-denominational. :) We’re beginning to learn more and more about the church, and are finding many things that we like. We especially love the church (Edgehill) that we are attending. They have played such a huge part in different movements in Nashville, and are still extremely active in the community. More than any other church I’ve attended, they do what Jesus said to do. They care for the sick, the poor, and the homeless. They fight for the elderly on fixed incomes that can’t afford the increasing property taxes because their lower-income neighborhood is being gentrified and becoming “trendy.” They give out food to the projects across the street. The list goes on and on.

So anyways, the purpose of the blog is that I want to share a Social Creed that we’ve been reciting in church lately. It’s being voted on to become the new social creed of the United Methodist Church as a whole (I think that’s right.) We just think it’s amazing that a church has these thoughts. And so shall we.

Response (it is sung):

And so shall we, and so shall we. Today is the day God celebrates when justice and compassion prevail like everflowing streams and so shall we, and so shall we.

(This part is said by the leader, the congregation speaks the bold passages)

God in the Spirit revealed in Jesus Christ calls us by grace

to be renewed in the image of our Creator, that we may be one in divine love for the world.

Today is the day God cares for the integrity of creation, wills the healing and wholeness of all life, weeps at the plunder of earth’s goodness.

And so shall we.

Today is the day God embraces all hues of humanity, delights in diversity and difference, favors solidarity transforming strangers into friends.

And so shall we.

Today is the day God cries with the masses of starving people, Despises growing disparity between rich and poor, Demands justice for workers in the marketplace.

(Response)

Today is the day God deplores the violence in our homes and streets, rebukes the world’s warring madness, humbles the powerful and lifts up the lowly.

And so shall we.

Today is the day God calls for nations and peoples to live in peace, celebrates where justice and mercy embrace, exults when the wolf grazes with the lamb.

(Response)

Today is the day God brings good news to the poor, proclaims release to the captives, gives sight to the blind, and sets the oppressed free.

And so shall we.

(Words and music by Carol Simpson, 2007.)

April 12, 2008

A Prominent Place

Filed under: Racism — theburts @ 12:36 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Tonight, Justin and I will be heading out to Montgomery Bell State Park, around 4,000 acres of protected area. I’m really excited, in part because I get to fish while we’re there. In checking out where we were going to stay, I came across this brief history lesson…

“The area’s iron ore industry is traceable to 1795 when Gen. James Robertson, a war hero and founder of Nashville, established the Cumberland Iron Works. Seven years later, Montgomery Bell came from Pennsylvania to operate the furnace for Robertson and, soon after, purchased it.

It provided the springboard for his Dickson County industrial empire. A farmer as well as an industrialist, Bell accomplished an enduring engineering marvel by using slave labor to cut a 290-foot tunnel through solid rock to divert the Harpeth River and shorten its channel by five miles, using the coursing water to power his forge. The tunnel is believed to be the oldest existing man-made tunnel in the nation.

This achievement earned Bell a prominent place in Tennessee history as the state’s first industrialist and capitalist and gained him renown as the South’s greatest ironmaster.”

(quoted from an article in the Dickson Herald)

Though I can marvel at the engineering genius, entrepreneurship, and hard work that went into making this tunnel and other things in this park, I also remember that slave labor was used to catapult this man into the position of renown and prominence. Listen again to this praise. “This achievement earned Bell a prominent place in Tennessee history as the state’s first industrialist and capitalist and gained him renown as the South’s greatest ironmaster.” A lot of words about his achievements, and then those two little words thrown in there…”slave labor.” Montgomery Bell is now known to most everyone in middle Tennessee. His name is attached to a prestigious prep school, bridges, the community of Belltown and a state park. Yet this lesser known fact of his use of slavery makes it difficult for me to remember him in such a positive light.

It’s true that slavery was more common in the days that he lived. Does that mean, though, that I should get over it and jump in with everyone else singing his praises for his achievements? Does Montgomery Bell deserve a prominent place? He certainly deserves to be noted in history as he accomplished so much. But, though slavery is wrong regardless, do I assume he intended well and treated his slaves as equals? Do I chalk it up to the fact that “everyone was doing it” and clear his name? A look at Wikipedia, which references a book entitled “A History of Dickson County” by Robert E. Corlew (relative, Josh?) clarified that for me.

“Bell was noted for sharp business practices; it was said of him that he would never pay a debt unless sued for it. He was also reputed to frequent prostitutes and to force his attentions upon female slaves. Earlier in his life he was also quick to whip male slaves for the slightest offense and was noted for the ferocity with which he would pursue those who ran away; later in his life he came to regard slavery as a great moral wrong and at the time of his death was in the process of freeing his slaves and arranging passage for many of them to Liberia. He seemingly had a particularly warm relationship with one slave, James Worley, whom he had acquired while in Lexington and who apparently had great ability as an engineer and who came to be regarded by Bell as more of a colleague and associate than a servant. Bell even named one of his iron works “Worley Furnace” in his honor, a very unusual honor for an African-American in the early 19th century. When, during a business trip to New Orleans, Bell was asked what he would take in trade for Worley, Bell reportedly replied, “I would not take all of New Orleans for him!”

We are constantly reminded of our tragic history with slavery in the south, of violence used to continue that system, and of ongoing racial prejudices and inequalities today (also a brief hint at the usury and degradation of women through the sex business, which continues to enslave so many women, men, and children long past 1865). Though I’m glad that he began to change his attitude of slavery, it seems he had already written a dark history in the lives of a few people. He also, evidently, was a very rich man who kept most of his money until his death in 1855 (he was a millionaire, or maybe even billionaire, of his day with a sum of more than $72,000 at his death). Fortunately he did spare a small percentage of that, and because he willed money for children to receive an education, Montgomery Bell Academy now exists. “Bell, always cognizant of the formal education that he had been deprived of, left at his death $20,000 toward “the education of children not less than ten nor more than fourteen years old who are not able to support and educate themselves and whose parents are not able to do so.” Unfortunately, now it’s a private, expensive, prep school for rich kids who get the best education…a bit of a deviation from what he wanted, it seems.

OK, here’s where this incoherent history lesson comes to a point…I long for Jesus to come. I long for the day when everyone is considered and treated equal. I long for the time when prostitutes can be free from being used and lead a full healthy life, when all slaves everywhere are sent home to their families, when students of all backgrounds have the same opportunity for good education. I long to witness rich millionaires keeping ten percent and giving ninety away, instead of the other way around. I long for the year when violence to others will cease and for people to be held high and set in prominent places for their love, not for their industrial achievements. May this new kingdom be brought about on a daily basis through all believers everywhere.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

April 10, 2008

Declaration of Delirium – The Road to Achieving Popularity

Filed under: Just for fun — theburts @ 4:40 pm

This is the post that led me to receive remarks about being crude. Go figure.

April 7, 2008

Declaration of Delirium – The Stinkin’ World of Younger Brothers

Filed under: Just for fun — theburts @ 9:38 am

We had a great reunion with friends this weekend at Washington State Park, Missouri. It was so wonderful to see you all. On our way back, the TN bound car discussed farms and chickens and cows for probably an hour. (oops, I think we were supposed to be discussing positive things we’ve gleaned from our churches in the last year) I thought, because of that discussion, this next humor column might be appropriate.

For those who don’t know, I grew up on a sort of farm. I call it a sort of farm because it wasn’t a real farm, one used to make the family’s living. It was a privilege farm…one a family with a pharmacist father and homemaker mom can enjoy because they like horses and want a country setting. Don’t get me wrong, I loved our sort of farm and was very fortunate to grow up on one…it was hard work, and I learned many valuable things because of it. Plus it was fun! We had bantam chickens, several horses, almost 40 cows at one point, turkeys, ducks, barn cats, dogs, fish ponds, 54 acres of pasture and partially wooded land, and a big barn where we had the tack room, chicken coop, loft with hay bales galore, and stalls where we’d occasionally keep our larger pets. That’s right, pets. We named all of our thirty something cows…Biscuit, Wishbone, Domino, Ringer, Socks, Guts (she was named after childbirth when her uterus prolapsed) Samson, Betsy, Lucille, etc. Heck, I even rode one…maybe I’ll scan in that picture someday. And maybe I’ll talk more about my awesome farm experience as a kid, one I’m so glad I had the privilege to enjoy.

But for now, back to the humor column. Enjoy. :)

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