Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent Poetry


A Christmas Carol
by Christina Georgina Rossetti


In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him,
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man
I would do my part, -
Yet what I can, I give Him,
Give my heart.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

O come, O come, Emmanuel

From Hymnary.org



The text for "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" comes from a 7 verse poem that dates back to the 8th century. It was used in a call and response fashion during the vespers, or evening, service. The original text created the reverse acrostic "ero cras," which means "I shall be with you tomorrow," and is particularly appropriate for the advent season. A metrical version of five of the verses appeared in the 13th century, which was translated into English by J.M. Neale in 1851. Each of the five verses expounds upon one of the names for the Messiah:
"Emmanuel" (Isaiah 7:14, Mt 1:23) means "God with us"
"Adonai" (Exodus 19:16) is a name for God, the giver of the law
"Branch of Jesse" (Isaiah 11:1) refers to Jesus' lineage
"Oriens" (Malachi 4:2, Luke 1:78-79) is the morning star or daystar
"Key of David" (Isaiah 22:22) again refers to Jesus' lineage
--Greg Scheer, 1994

1 O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel;
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to Thee, O Israel!
2 O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o'er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to Thee, O Israel!
3 O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine Advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds by night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to Thee, O Israel!
4 O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to Thee, O Israel!
5 O come, O come, Thou Lord of might!
Who to thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times didst give the law,
In cloud, and majesty, and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to Thee, O Israel!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Security at what cost?

The Fourth Amendment-
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rome






Seasons

Have you ever thought about the Christian Calendar?  Consider the different seasons-



  • Advent is the season when we prepare for Christ’s coming. (4 weeks)
  • Christmastide is the season when we celebrate Christ’s incarnation. (12 days)
  • In Epiphany, we remember how Christ made God’s glory known to the world.(up to 9 weeks)
  • The Lenten season leads us to the Cross, the climactic event in Holy Week, which concludes Lent. (40 days plus Sundays)
  • Eastertide (the Great 50 Days) celebrates Christ’s resurrection, new life, and his ascension to glory. It concludes on the 50th day, Pentecost, the day of the Spirit’s outpouring.
  • The Season after Pentecost (or Trinity, or Ordinary Time) is the time of the church, when by the Spirit we live out the life of the Gospel in community and in the world. (up to 29 weeks)
Taken from the post Church Year Spirituality on the Internet Monk.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Providence


From The Heidelberg Catechism

Question 27. What dost thou mean by the providence of God?

Answer: The almighty and everywhere present power of God; whereby, as it were by his hand, he upholds and governs  heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, and all things come, not by chance, but be his fatherly hand.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Expedia Shows What Not To Do

Below you will find an email exchange between me and Expedia customer service.  As I explained, I incurred international roaming charges as a result of an incorrect phone number they gave me.  I completed a feedback form to let them know that I was unhappy with the situation.  While the charges I had to pay were minor, the experience was frustrating, and it should not have occurred in the first place.  So far, I am surprised and unhappy with their response.

Large companies who feel that they are so large that they no longer need to give close attention to details will (eventually) fail. Expedia, if they have core values and vision, are obviously not passing these ideals down to their entry level employees.  I would rather pay more up front than face the frustration afterwards as I did with Expedia.  In the long run, for a multi-million dollar company, why not just provide the $30 refund instead of loosing a customer who could potentially spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on trips over the next decade?  Also, why would a company shift the blame?  In their response, instead of taking responsibility for the company they partnered with, they made excuses.

Here is the conversation so far-

Dear Chris,

Thank you for contacting Expedia about your complaints.

Expedia understands your frustration over this matter. It is never our intent to mislead or to inconvenience our clients, and we are sorry that you feel Expedia has done so. It is disheartening when our clients feel that we have not met the standards to which we hold our organization and employees, as we attempt to provide the most efficient, quality service available.

As you may know, Expedia acts as an independent agent for reservations for shuttle services. The information that we post on the website are given to us by the shuttle service companies that we represent. Expedia acts as an intermediary for shuttle service reservations. The individual shuttle service companies maintain all information found on our site. We solely rely on the information they provide us.

We are limited in providing assistance through email and are unable to handle reimbursement requests. You would need to call us again at the number below or at 1-404-728-8787 (for callers outside the U.S. and Canada) to discuss this case further. Our support desks are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please have the itinerary number, user name, or email address used to secure the reservation when you call.

It is our regret to hear that your experience with Expedia was not to your satisfaction. Numerous people within Expedia read comments such as yours and these help shape our policies and practices as we learn and grow. Customer feedback and suggestions are an important part of our improvement process, so we appreciate your taking the time to write to us. 

We do apologize if we are unable to reply more in accordance to your wishes on this occasion.

If this does not answer your question or solve your problem, feel free to reply to this message or call us at 1-800-EXPEDIA (1-800-397-3342) and reference case ID: 60

Thank you for choosing Expedia.
Ricky
Expedia Customer Service Team

-----Original Message-----
From: Christopher Misiano
Sent: 6/29/2010 8:21:12 AM
To: Travel 
Subject: Re: Other comments, questions or feedback - Case ID: 

Cielo,
No, this does not answer my question or solve my problem.  Yes, this does reflect poorly on my Expedia experience.  Is the email I was sent just a standard answer sent to everyone who complains?  It appears that my original complaint was not even read.  Please re-read it, and then respond.

Here it is again-

During my recent trip to Rome, I was disappointed to incur around $30 in phone costs as a result of an error by Expedia.  In addition to booking my flight and hotel through Expedia, I also booked a airport shuttle.  24 hours prior to our flight, I attempted to call the number listed on my Expedia voucher to request our pick-up for the airport.  However, the number listed on the voucher was incorrect.  It took several calls to Expedia to sort this out.  This resulted in me having to use my cell phone abroad, with international roaming rates, and incurring costs that should not have been my responsibility.  I was very disappointed with this (seemingly) minor detail that ended up costing me money.

To repeat, this I incurred these expenses as a result of an error by Expedia, I should be compensated for those costs.

Until this is resolved, I will be making my travel arrangements elsewhere, and encouraging my family and friends to do the same.

Dissatisfied,
Chris Misiano

On Jun 24, 2010, at 5:50 PM, Expedia Travel Support wrote:

Dear Chris,

Thank you for contacting Expedia about your feedback from your recent trip.

We apologize that there was such difficulty with your booking. Expedia is a company that prides itself in providing the highest level of customer service to our valued clients. If there was any lack of outstanding service presented to you at any point in your contacts with us, please accept our sincerest apologies.

As an Expedia customer, your feedback is key to the decisions we make as we learn and grow, so we will be sharing your comments with the appropriate members of our management team.

We hope that this occurrence will not reflect poorly on the Expedia experience, and that you will give us another chance to prove our excellent customer service. Expedia values your business and we hope to retain you as a customer.

If this does not answer your question or solve your problem, feel free to reply to this message or call us at 1-800-EXPEDIA (1-800-397-3342) and reference case ID: 60

Thank you for choosing Expedia.
Cielo
Expedia Customer Service Team

-----Original Message-----
From: 
Sent: 6/23/2010 7:00:59 PM
To: Travel >
Subject: Other comments, questions or feedback - Case ID: [REQ:60]
* Name: Christopher Misiano
* Subject: Other comments, questions or feedback

--------------------------------
* Comment:
During my recent trip to Rome, I was disappointed to incur around $30 in phone costs as a result of an error by Expedia.  In addition to booking my flight and hotel through Expedia, I also booked a airport shuttle.  24 hours prior to our flight, I attempted to call the number listed on my Expedia voucher to request our pick-up for the airport.  However, the number listed on the voucher was incorrect.  It took several calls to Expedia to sort this out.  This resulted in me having to use my cell phone abroad, with international roaming rates, and incurring costs that should not have been my responsibility.  I was very disappointed with this (seemingly) minor detail that ended up costing me money.
Chris Misiano

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cormac McCarthy

While on vacation, I decided to take a break from my normal diet of theology and leadership books and instead read a couple of novels (they pass the time way better on an eleven hour plane ride).  One book was All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (who also wrote The Road and No Country for Old Men).  All the Pretty Horses carries the reader along in a gripping narrative filled with suspense, subtle humor, and profound insight into the human condition.  The pace of the book makes for a quick read, but you might need a Spanish-English dictionary to get through some of the dialogue. If you're looking for some summer reading that will entertain you while at the same time making you think, then grab a copy of All the Pretty Horses.  Some quotes to perk your interest-

"He lay in the dark thinking of all the things he did not know about his father and he realized that the father he knew was all the father he would ever know."
"He said that those who have endured some misfortune will always be set apart but that it is just that misfortune which is their gift and which is their strength and that they must make their way back into the common enterprise of man for without they do so it cannot go forward and they themselves will wither in bitterness."
"...I knew that what I was seeking to discover was a thing I'd always known.  That all courage was a form of constancy.  That i was always himself that the coward abandoned first.  After this all other betrayals came easily."
"I knew that courage came with less struggle for some than for others but I believed that anyone who desired it could have it.  That the desire was the thing itself.  The thing itself.  I could think of nothing else of which that was true." 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Quality Art

Bill Watterson cared about the art he created as he drew and wrote Calvin and Hobbes.  Some might call his views extreme, but no one can question his commitment to quality.  Here are some of his thoughts-

"I love my work, and I am grateful for the incredible forum I have to express my thoughts.  People give me their attention for a few seconds every day, and i take that as an honor and a responsibility.  I try to give readers the best strip I'm capable of doing.  I look at cartoon as an art, as a form of personal expression.  That's why I don't hire assistants, why I write and draw every line myself, why I draw and paint special art for each of my books, and why I refuse to dilute or corrupt the strip's message with merchandising.  I want to draw a cartoons, not supervise a factory."
His thoughts on the cartooning industry could easily be applied to other fields as well-

"Once a lot of money and jobs are riding on the status quo, it gets harder to push the experiments and new directions that keep a strip vital." 
Did you ever wonder why you couldn't buy a stuffed version of Hobbes or Calvin pajamas?  Here is Watterson's reasoning-

"I'm convinced that licensing would sell out the soul of Calvin and Hobbes.  The world of a comic strip is much more fragile than most people realize.  Once you've given up integrity, that's it.  I want to make sure that never happens.  Instead of asking what's wrong with rampant commercialism, we ought to be asking, 'What justifies it?'  Popular art does not have to pander to the lowest level of intelligence and taste."

Quotes taken from Looking for Calving and Hobbes: The Unconventional Store of Bill Watterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip by Nevin Martell.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Problem of Evil

From John Piper-

"Why then does God tolerate Satan? The key is that God aims to defeat Satan in a way that glorifies not only his power, but also the superior beauty and worth and desirability of his Son over Satan. God could simply exert raw power and snuff Satan out. That would glorify God's power. But it would not display so clearly the superior worth of Jesus over Satan. That will be displayed as Christ defeats Satan by his death and then by winning superior allegiance from the saints over the lies of Satan."
And-

"If Christ obliterated all demons now (which he could do), His sheer power would be seen as glorious, but His superior beauty and worth would not shine so brightly as when God's people renounce the promises of Satan, trust in Christ's blood and righteousness, and take pleasure in the greater glory of Jesus over Satan."

Read the whole article here.
(via Matt Perman- What's Best Next)

Monday, February 8, 2010

In Between People


From Surprised by Hope- "Our task in the present...is to live as resurrection people in between Easter and the final day, with our Christian life, corporate and individual, in both worship and mission, as a sign of the first and a foretaste of the second.  

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thoughts on Work



Great thoughts from the essay "Why Work?" by Dorothy L. Sayers-
"No nation has yet found a way to keep the machines running and whole nations employed under modern industrial conditions without wasteful consumption."
 "A society in which consumption has to be artificially stimulated in order to keep production going is a society founded on trash and waste, and such a society is a house built upon sand."
"...work is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do. It is, or it should be, the full expression of the worker’s faculties, the thing in which he finds spiritual, mental and bodily satisfaction, and the medium in which he offers himself to God." 
"In nothing has the Church so lost Her hold on reality as in Her failure to understand and respect the secular vocation. She has allowed work and religion to become separate departments, and is astonished to find that, as result, the secular work of the world is turned to purely selfish and destructive ends, and that the greater part of the world’s intelligent workers have become irreligious, or at least, uninterested in religion." 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Longing for Another World

CNN recently reported on the depression experienced by some viewers of the blockbuster hit Avatar.  The report chronicles how some viewers and fans of film walked away depressed that Pandora (the fictional world depicted in Avatar) does not, and could not exist.      Some fans went so far as to express suicidal thoughts in the days following watching this movie.  One fan reports-

"When I woke up this morning after watching Avatar for the first time yesterday, the world seemed ... gray. It was like my whole life, everything I've done and worked for, lost its meaning... It just seems so ... meaningless. I still don't really see any reason to keep ... doing things at all. I live in a dying world."

Almost 60 years ago C.S. Lewis wrote in his masterpiece Mere Christianity "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

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