Dec 312005
 

20 hours ago, WordPress 2.0 was released. 20 minutes ago, I downloaded the new code (put up a temporary offline notice, got rid of the old 1.5.2, installed the new). Less than 9 hours from now, I’ll enter a new year with my wife besides me. Happy New Year 2006!

Now we’re back online! Best part, for me, all my plugins still work. Now to click on that backup button! Download it here. See 5 little things Rachel likes about WordPress 2.0, and 10 Things You Should Know about WordPress 2.0, if you’re needing more motivation than making a resolution.

[update: 1 plugin didn't work upgraded, but Adhesive was interfering with custom fields - upgrade Adhesive plugin if your custom fields are not working, and trackback wasn't pinging - fixed it with patch here: use with care! Plus, it doesn't show correct comment count on the permalink page. WordPress version 2.0.1 was released on 1/31, installed here on 2/3]

Dec 302005
 

Lots of buzz building around Web 2.0, and I’m watching it unfold with eager anticipation; eHub keeps a running log of Web 2.0 apps. When hunger pangs hit me last night, I wandered online for a place to eat. I found the wiki-ish web app www.addyourown.com to be helpful, but notably lacking in my area. Some Web 2.0 apps I’ve started using recently include: rememberthemilk.com, basecamphq.com, writely.com, and suprglu.com. Have been using flickr.com for some of my pix, with more of them hosted at fotki.com (not so Web 2.0 ish).

What I’d love to see is a web app that’ll make the T-mobile Hotspot listing (at the ubiquitous Starbucks, and FedExKinkos and Borders too) more useful, listing not only locations and hours (on a Google map, too? is that asking for too much?), but also number of power outlets, tables, and chairs. While I love meetups with people there to chat, I also like to get online and work there too.

Dec 282005
 

Blogging is risky; risky business. The internet has a profoundly long memory of all that someone has written, thus a political and professional liability. Yes, everything that I’ve written can be found by someone who does a Google-style background check on me, even the tentative ideas and opinions that are still formative or briefly vented in a fit of rage. Regular readers here at djchuang.com can can easily discern that my opinions are muted b/c of this risk, the jobs that I represent, disclaimer aside; plus, I’m not a strongly opinionated person by nature anyways. Being asked what I’d like to do can feel like being backed to a corner for a decision that I’m not comfortable making.

On the one hand, I’m appreciative of the link love that Mark has shown at his new online venture at Best of the GodBlogs. I hope it is more of a labor of love, than an effort to grow a sizeable readership.

On the other hand, I’ve found that the most popular of blogs don’t draw its audience by being an aggregator of content, by selectively picking the best of articles, or best of blog posts from around cyberspace. Yes, at year end, we’re going to see lots of “best of” lists for 2005. Even though opinions are (generally) a step back from ideas, it is the salient opinion of the blogger (blog author) that adds excitement and engagement to what is written (typed). The thoroughly edited and corporate-speak of mainstream news articles in magazines and dailys doesn’t grab my attention as much as the passionate rant of bloggers noting current events, spiked with personal opinions.

One opinion I’ll infer about the use of language, pertaining to that category called profanity, or cussing. Not to resurrect an old topic that’s already circulated all over the blogosophere, but here goes. A while ago, Tim Challies shared his convictions on A Theology of Profanity, and argued that Philippians 3:8 was a weak, very weak case for the use of cuss words in particular context. Yet, this is the very exception to the rule, argued by these 2 articles: Toward An Evangelical Theology Of Cussing, and Is cussing necessarily a sin? (from a Reformed perspective.)

So, one of my Christian co-workers started blogging with a fictional voice, occasionally using salty language, to tell the stories of everyday people. And to push the boundaries further, the F-bomb was used in part of a poetry reading by Mary Kate Makkai at a Denver missional community. A color commentary [sic] is presented in this series titled, Expletive Undeleted: Dropping the F-bomb in Church, The F-bomb Fallout, The F-Bomb Poet Responds, The F-Bomb Pastor Responds. Even listen to a bleeped out version of that poetry reading.

Dec 222005
 

Scot “Jesus Creed” McKnight makes a gracious appeal in When Christmas falls on Sunday that Christians of all people can and should show Good Will Toward Megachurches, those that have decided to celebrate a day (or two) earlier and to close on Sunday. I would add a Biblical proof text (for those that like the ipsissima verba) and an appeal on how celebrations often fall on the eve of a special day.

1. “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord.” (Romans 14:5-6a)

2. Who celebrates New Year’s on New Year’s Day? Celebrate on the Eve or earlier, at hundreds of Christmas Celebrations before Sunday, December 25th, 2005 [multiple services]:

Willow Creek Community Church (South Barrington, IL) [8]
Southland Christian Church (Nicholasville, KY) [4]
Crossroads Christian Church (Lexington, KY) [3]
Fellowship Church (Grapevine, TX) [11]
Watermark Community Church (Dallas, TX) [2]
Redemption World Outreach Center (Greenville, SC) [2 live, 6 streamed online]
Seacoast Church (Charleston, SC and other locations) [16]
North Point Community Church (Alpharetta, GA) [3]
Grace Fellowship Church (Timonium, MD) [5]
Church of the Redeemer (Gaithersburg, MD) [4]
Northview Christian Life Church (Carmel, IN) [5]
Grace Community Church (Noblesville, IN) [6]
Calvary Chapel (Fort Lauderdale, FL) [9]
Christ Fellowship (Palm Beach Gardens, FL) [13]
Flamingo Road Church (Fort Lauderdale, FL) [5]
Christ the Rock Community Church (Cooper City, FL) [4]
RockHarbor (Costa Mesa, CA) [7]
Northland, A Church Distributed (Longwood, FL) [10]
Kensington Community Church (Troy, MI) [18]
Bridgeway Community Church (Columbia, MD) [6]
Grace Community Church (Columbia, MD) [6]
Reston Bible Church (Reston, VA) [3]
Journey’s Crossing (Gaithersburg, MD) [2]
NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) [5]
LifeChurch (locations in OK and AZ and TX) [20]
Neighborhood Church (Redding, CA) [4]
Center Point Church (North Richland Hills, TX) [3]
Revolution Church (Long Beach, CA) [2]

And even though Willow Creek Closes Doors on Christmas; Hybels Still to Preach on Sunday at a different church:

Two of the largest mega churches in the Chicago area will join hands this holiday season to hold what may possibly be the largest Christmas Day service in the nation. The Rev. Bill Hybels of Willowcreek Church will preach alongside the Rev. James Meeks of the House of Hope Church in Chicago. Together, the two churches have more than 30,000 members.

And here’s a flashy invite to experience Christmas Presence. I’ll see how many services I can experience, though probably short of 20. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

2 great dining finds

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Dec 202005
 

Gotta tell you about 2 great delish’ dining finds, one franchise-wide, one local (to McLean, Virginia).

Last night, made a stop at Cheesecake Factory as an alleged mystery shopper, probably disqualifying ourselves because we didn’t sit right at the bar like we were instructed, even tho’ we did seat ourselves right next to the bar at an open counter. Sure beat the 30-45 minutes waiting in line. The special find on the menu is buried in the salad section: Spicy Thai Steak Salad. Exquisite layers of flavor, lots of slices of medium rare steak, wonderful textures and tastes for the palette. I didn’t find it, my dining mate found it, and while I’m usually not a taster of other people’s food, this exception was worth the risk, and this menu item will definitely be on my order at my next Cheesecake experience.

Tonight’s find is in the new wing of Tyson’s Corner at the food court near the AMC theatres. The place is called Taka Grille, and while they don’t have printed menus to hand out, they do have a website and great range of food as a Pan-Asian Bistro. TonkatsuI talked briefly with the owner while waiting for my fresh-made food (I’m a sucker for Tonkatsu), and noted the excellent menu selection from a range of Asian cuisines: Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, and Vietnamese. She commented that she picked the best dish from each culture, and I affirmed and concurred with her selections.

Being fellow Asians, the conversation naturally graviated towards our ethnicities. I’m Chinese, on both sides. Don’t know how far back my 100% Chinese purity might go, but I’m Chinese by blood, and even speak some Mandarin (tho’ I don’t advertise.) Her daughter commented: “You don’t look Chinese.” I don’t know what to say to that. I need to get me a snappy comeback.
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Dec 152005
 

Are you an Asian American pastor, or know of one? Get $10 for filling out a quick survey*, and help with this research project. You can pass it along too, or better, link to the permalink here.

Greetings!

I am a professor at Talbot School of Theology of Biola University in La Mirada, California.

As one of my long-range research projects, I am studying the life and ministry of Asian American pastors, in particular the primary factors that contribute to clergy wellness and longevity in ministry.

I invite you to participate in the research by filling out a 20 minute on-line questionnaire, which is found at www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=634181317291

Your password is: church

The information you provide will be kept confidential. ~The majority of the questions ask you to respond to a statement stating how strongly you agree or disagree. Also, at the end of the questionnaire, you will have the opportunity to provide some written comments.

If you have any questions about the research project, please write to [email protected] .

Thank you in advance for your invaluable collaboration.

In Christ,
Jonathan

P.S. * As an incentive, the first 70 people who fill it out will be given a $10 gift certificate to either Christianbook.com or Starbucks! The only qualification is that you are serving in an English speaking ministry where the majority of attenders are of Asian-American descent. After filling out the survey e-mail me back so that I can facilitate the gift certificate redeeming process.
———————————————————-
Jonathan Kim, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of C. E.
Talbot School of Theology, Biola University
13800 Biola Avenue, La Mirada, CA 90639
562-944-0351 Ext. 5519
Email: [email protected]
———————————————————-

[update: as of 11/15/05, 2:30pm ET, still had 50 gift certs left and they hope to get more]

Dec 132005
 

A good number of actors and actresses don’t want to be typecast or stereotyped, primarily or exclusively identified with a particular character or role. A good number of Asian American don’t want to be typecast either, seen as only Asian, or often asked questions about all Asians as if they were the resident expert, representative of all 14 million of them. So, what’s a person who happened to be born of Asian heritage to do?

One option is to blend in to mainstream culture, stay away from all Asian contexts, don’t get caught being seen with only Asians, and thus avoid being typecast. Another option is to have pretty much only Asian friends, stay cliquish and comfy, and claim the First Amendment right to freedom of assembly in a free country.

Sardonic remarks aside, how does one avoid the stereotype and being typecast? To a large degree, it is unavoidable, because I do look Asian, though sometimes ethnically ambigious, depending on the lighting. My approach is to neither to assimilate into the mainstream nor to be insular, but to be more than merely Asian, having meaningful dialogue and building relationships with all. That’s how I get past the typecast, and it don’t take long to see that I don’t fit (any) Asian stereotype.

Next Gener-Asian Church is a recently launched blog, picked up The Conversation where it was left off after CAC went dark, Waterwind trickled with rare email discussions, and aaministry.org was hacked and neglected. David deconstructs the notion of Asian community; then chats with Peter Ong about ministry in the Asian cultural context. The word “missional” was used in this chat, but I think the more fitting word might be “missionary” in the context of that chat. My sense is that being missional is to engage a cultural context and to selectively challenge its assumptions (adapting and reformulating), while being missionary is to serve within the contraints of a cultural context, without challenging it (evangelizing and establishing).

Dec 122005
 

Kudos to Verizon, at least this 1 CSR (customer service representative) named Michael, who was able to aptly diagnose and fix the DSL problem that had plagued my family all weekend. Our DSL internet connection was very intermittent, sometimes I could get an email through, most of the time I couldn’t get any sustained internet connection. After a number of different technicians and other CSRs who had us reboot our computers, wait all day for the service technican to check the lines, turn off and on the DSL modem, go through all kinds of troubleshooting routines, I finally talked with someone who took the right troubleshooting path and found the problem. The solution to our problem: the DSL modem (Westell Versalink) had a sticky reset button, that would reset itself every minute or so; very irritating. I held the reset button in for 30 seconds, reconfigured the modem, and I’m back online at home! Yippee!!

?Tom Brokaw Reports: In God They Trust,? was broadcast on Friday, October 28th. Brokaw explored why so many Americans are turning to this expression of faith, and asked whether or not some Evangelicals are going too far. This documentary on evangelicals came and went, without much fanfare, buzz (only 45 references in the blogosphere), and probably a little lower than expected ratings.

Dec 102005
 

Speculations have surfaced that some churches are combating the nominal C&E (Christmas & Easter) Christians by keeping their doors closed on Christmas this year, to goad these nominal Christians to either attend more regularly or don’t come at all.

I had first picked up on this breaking story via the CT Weblog, as it made its circuit over mainstream news media (with lots of help from the AP wire), and then yesterday landing on the front page of the New York Times: When Christmas Falls on Sunday, Megachurches Take the Day Off (cf. more at Google News search). According to Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church in greater Atlanta, his church had been closed on the Sunday after Christmas since it started, but it seems only this year that it has generated buzz [cf. a most lengthy commentary by InternetMonk; and lengthy comment thread at GetReligion].

I’ll not track down all the articles and blogs buzzing about this. We all love snow days, students and teachers alike. Just as we have school closings for snow here in the metro DC area, here’s the unofficial list of church closings on Christmas:

Church Closings for December 25th, 2005 (no links, b/c they’re closed after 100s of celebrations)

Willow Creek Community Church (South Barrington, IL)
Southland Christian Church (Nicholasville, KY)
Crossroads Christian Church (Lexington, KY)
Fellowship Church (Grapevine, TX)
Watermark Community Church (Dallas, TX)
Redemption World Outreach Center (Greenville, SC)
Seacoast Church (Charleston, SC and other locations)
North Point Community Church (Alpharetta, GA)
First Baptist Church (Atlanta, GA)
Mars Hill Bible Church (Grandville, MI)
Grace Fellowship Church (Timonium, MD)
Church of the Redeemer (Gaithersburg, MD) (changed)
Northview Christian Life Church (Carmel, IN)
Grace Community Church (Noblesville, IN)
Calvary Chapel (Fort Lauderdale, FL) (changed)
Christ Fellowship (Palm Beach Gardens, FL)
Flamingo Road Church (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Christ the Rock Community Church (Cooper City, FL)
RockHarbor (Costa Mesa, CA)
Harbor Christian Center (Gig Harbor, WA)
Northland, A Church Distributed (Longwood, FL)
Kensington Community Church (Troy, MI)
Calvary Christian Center (Louisville, KY)
Ambassador Bible Church (Centreville, VA)
All Souls Church, Unitarian (Washington, DC)
Lord of Life Church (Indiana, PA)
Skyline Presbyterian Church (Tacoma, WA) (changed)
Bridgeway Community Church (Columbia, MD)
Grace Community Church (Columbia, MD)
History Church (Oak Hill, VA)
National Community Church (Washington, DC)
Reston Bible Church (Reston, VA)
Mosaic Manhattan (New York City, NY)
The River Church (Poughkeepsie, NY)
Journey’s Crossing (Gaithersburg, MD)
Discovery Christian Church (Pittsburgh, PA)
Watermarke Church (Canton, GA)
Liquid (Austin, TX)
St. Paul’s Collegiate Church at Storrs (Storrs, CT)
NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC)
LifeChurch (locations in OK and AZ)
Neighborhood Church (Redding, CA)
Center Point Church (North Richland Hills, TX)
Ethnos (San Diego, CA)
Revolution Church (Long Beach, CA)
Mariners’ Church (Annapolis, MD)

I love going to all kinds of churches. Our family tradition for Christmas and Easter is not to stay home, but to attend as many churches as possible. So for people in the church-forsaken places like Chicagoland, Dallas, and Atlanta, here are some churches open for Christmas [recommend a church for thousands who are without - add a comment below]:

New Community Covenant Church (Chicago, IL)
Grace Outreach Center (Plano, TX)
Prestonwood Baptist Church (Plano, TX)
Park Cities Presbyterian Church (Dallas, TX)
Lifepoint Community Church (Greenville, SC)
Mount Paran Church of God (Atlanta, GA)
Crossroads Church of Atlanta
Perimeter Church (Atlanta, GA)
Resurrection Life Church (Grandville, MI)
Gaithersburg Community Church (Gaithersburg, MD)
McLean Bible Church (McLean, VA)
Providence Baptist Church (Raleigh, NC)
Young Nak English Ministry (Los Angeles, CA)
Cedar Ridge Community Church (Spencerville, MD)
Barstow Free Methodist Church (Barstow, CA)
Faith Community Church (West Covina, CA)
ChurchReviews.org listings (for Louisville; Chicago)
Barrington Houses of Worship
my index of online church directories and search engines

* Note: neither listing above is disapproval nor endorsement – simply public information; also listen to NPR’s All Things Considered piece on this [aired on 12/14/05]