For several years Julie Beck has been publishing articles in The Atlantic on friendship. Check out: The Friendship Files.

Some folks in Tucson are hoping to reduce homelessness with a tiny-home village. This is a bold experiment from which I suspect we will learn a lot.

📸 Day 3 of 30 | card

A special birthday card from a friend who loves the American West as much as I do.

A greeting card stands upright featuring an illustrated Western Meadowlark (Sturnella Neglecta) on the right side with a map of the Western United States in the background.

Arizona Gives Day 2024

I shared the following with my church this morning:

Each year on Arizona Gives Day, Arizonans donate money and pledge volunteer hours to support the non-profits that support our communities. The impact that these non-profits have in our lives is huge. And they need our help.

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📸 Day 2 of 30 | flowers

Yellow flowers on a desert hillside with cactus, rocks, and other plants.

For April I’m sharing a photo a day for the Micro.blog April 2024 Photo Challenge. No foolin’.

📸 Day 1 of 30 | toy

A Muppet-like man in a push-up position with his mouth wide open.

Big Resurrection Day at Covenant. In addition to our regular service, we also had two reaffirmations of faith, two baptisms, and a delicious, brunch-based lunch. It’s wonderful to see and enjoy all the Lord is doing.

Forums of Five: Sources of Help and Inspiration

I’ve put together a new program at Covenant called Forums of Five. Forums of Five aims to provide our members with an easier path for fostering close friendships in the church. Here’s why. Each Forum of Five consists of either five men or five women who build friendships with each other as peers for the purpose of mutual Christian care. Forums start with a fun Day Away and then meet monthly for a year to share life’s ups and downs and support each other through prayer.

Finding and developing close friendships is not new. And I’ve drawn from several sources to form the initial plan for the ministry and am looking forward to how things take shape. I’m sure we’ll learn and change as we go. But I’d like to take a moment and recognize some experiences, books, and people I’ve learned from that have helped me get this far.

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I'm in a good church. So why am I lonely and what can I do?

Loneliness is the sorrowful feeling being disconnected from others when a connection is felt to be needed. Or to use a standard definition, loneliness occurs when the quantity and quality of connections we have is less than we want. It is commonly accompanied by despair and anger.

Sometimes our loneliness makes sense. Perhaps a close friend passed away or you moved and don’t know anyone yet. But other times, loneliness is confusing. For example, sometimes people don’t understand why they feel lonely, even though they belong to a friendly church community. “People know me and I know them. They care about me and I have meaningful ways to contribute. So why do I feel alone?”

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Not All Authority Is the Same

Conversation-Based Soul Care: Notes on "Private Conference"

Caring for the souls of others is an essential part of living as a Christian. During the Reformation, one tool for providing that care was sometimes called “private conference”. Private conference was a broad (and not very descriptive) term, used to describe conversations and moments in conversations, in which one could get and provide spiritual encouragement and support. These conversations might happen because of a moment of need, or as a regular, intentional part of spiritual growth.

Examples and benefits of this practice were described in 1678 by John Bunyan in his popular allegory Pilgrim’s Progress. Historian Charles E. Hambrick-Stowe writes:

In Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress private conference is what makes Christian’s journey at all possible. Time and again as destruction is imminent the advice and comfort of a fellow pilgrim enable him to press on. Private spiritual counseling guided individuals through the conversion experience; screened church members and led them to make a public profession of faith; enabled parents to bring their children and servants to the experience of grace, and saints to help one another grow in grace.

In Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian needed the help of spiritual conversations for his journey, in the beginning, middle, and end. And so do we. And so do our neighbors. As Christians we should be actively seeking these moments of soul care for ourselves and helping to provide them for others. Learning more about the practice of “private conference” may be of some help.

Learn More:

AZ, our Presidential Preference Election is today. Democrats and Republicans can vote for the probable candidates, or they can protest vote for whom they wish were the nominee. Here’s the deal on Independents.

Note: the primary on July 30th is for candidates other than president.

typography links

  1. Learn to kern, with a fun game.
  2. macOS Sonoma has an improved typography palette.
  3. Test your colors against accessibility standards.
  4. I love Libertinus, an extended family of free, full-feature fonts that can handle Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and more.

Should we take the Bible literally?

I think the answer to this question is found in another question:

Do you want people to take you literally?

It depends, right? Generally, you mean what you say, and you want people to believe you.

• If you say you are going to the store, that means you are going to the store.
• If you say you want a puppy, that means you want a puppy.

But we know that sometimes people take us too literally, which means they think we are saying something we are not. Like when you say, “just a minute”, and then someone starts counting down from 60. So annoying! Unless, of course, they are joking. Then you are the annoying one for taking them too literally.

The key here is intentions. We want to be heard in the way we intend to be heard. The same is true for God. When God is telling us history in the Bible, we should take it as history. When God is telling us a parable, we should take it as a parable.

How do you know which is which? The same way other people know what you mean: by listening. By paying attention to both what is said and the way it is said, we can learn how to read the Bible.

Figuring out what God intends might not always be easy, but it will get easier the more we get to know him and the better we get at listening.

I loved Tyler Cowen’s interview with Masaaki Suzuki. Now I’m curious about enka, the music of Tori Takemitsu, and thanks to Mr. Cowen’s links, Music, Modernity, and God.

Infinite Craft at neal.fun is fun. My son showed it to me last night. He even made some never-seen-before creations. I tried to do that too, but couldn’t do it. However, I was pretty pleased with myself for creating Darth Sauron.

Remembering Peter Schickele and P. D. Q. Bach

Peter Schickele died this last January. I never knew him, but I learned a lot from him. Through his funny albums and radio show, perhaps the central lesson was a reminder of that there is real joy of not taking yourself too seriously while also honoring and enjoying classical music and other fine things in life. There are plans to re-release his radio show as a podcast. I hope that happens.

If you want to get to know him, there were a several memorials shared in January. Here’s one example: Fresh Air shared a remembrance along with an interview he did with Terry Gross in 1985. It’s a great introduction to Schickele, his life, and his larger-than-death character, P. D. Q. Bach.

Or you can just jump in like I did in the 80s and 90s by listening, laughing, and being a little confused. Here are a few of my favorites that I’ve rediscovered over the last couple months.

Enjoy!

Last week, ChatGPT went off the rails for a minute, but still…

the fact that the most popular AI tool in the world and arguably the primary reason we’re currently in the middle of an AI boom can suddenly go off the rails without warning is a great reminder that we can’t trust these tools blindly.

Read the full story.

Red Light Green Light, Sunset