Thursday, July 27, 2006

Rock Bottom Riser

Wonderful song by Bill Callahan of Smog. Heard it on Tuesday on the main Dutch news radio.
Good video too. Enjoy.

Hi Mom and Dad, Evy and Carol. (I guess it's true for my brothers Stan and Jon also). I will see some of you in a few days. I love you.

The lyrics:

I love my mother
I love my father
I love my sisters, too.
I bought this guitar
To pledge my love
To pledge my love to you.
I am a rock bottom riser
And I owe it all to you
I am a rock bottom riser
And I owe it all to you

I saw a gold ring
At the bottom of the river
Glinting at my foolish heart
So my foolish heart
Had to go diving
Diving, diving, diving
Into the murk
And from the bottom of the river
I looked up for the sun
Which had shattered in the water
And pieces were rained down
Like gold rings
That passed through my hands

As I thrashed and I grabbed
I started rising, rising, rising
I left my motherI left my father
I left my sisters, too
I left them standing on the banks
And they pulled me out
Of this mighty, mighty, mighty river

I am a rock bottom riser
And I owe it all to you
I am a rock bottom riser
And I owe it all to you
I love my mother
I love my father
I love my sisters, too.
I bought this guitar
To pledge my love
To pledge my love to you

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

It's those Germans again!

I've been wondering for a long time who is really behind George Bush.

Now I know.

Click here to find out for yourself.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Still scratching my head

This morning on the news a report about the massive conveys of American suuplies that will go into Lebanon to help the humanitarian disaster there.
Negotiations with Israel are needed to insure that the convoys can come safely by road via North Lebanon and the ships via the harbor of Beirut.

Other news sources this weekend report that the Bush administration is quickly (and without much discussion) sending smart bombs to Israel so that the attacks can be carried out with more precision, limiting civilian casualties.

Let me try to understand this: out of one corner of our mouth we give the tacit green light to Israel for its attacks and the corresponding collateral (civilian) damage, and out of the other corner of our mouth we send millions of dollars of supplies and have to negotiate with Israel to get the supplies there safely.

And apparently the only means we have at our disposal to limit civilian casualties is to send smart bombs.

I continue to be amazed at the weakness of the U.S. government.

Sandy Berger commented that Condoleeza Rice isn't going to any Arab country on this trip to the Middle East because no country wants her. His comment (paraphrased): "No one there trusts the U.S., and there is no one there who can serve as interlocuter." (This word is listed in the Tiscali dictionary of difficult words. If you didn't know what it means, you're probably not the only one.)

If your only weapon is a hammer, you don't need anybody to translate or explain anything.

Friday, July 21, 2006

More on Israel Lebanon

Jim Rice from Sojourners made these commentes in an article called "The New War in the Middle East".

Worth reading the whole article, here are some excerpts. I still simply can't understand why the born-again George Bush has no other weapon than violence in his arsenal. It boggles my mind. If someone could explain that to me I'd love it.

What is the proper, appropriate response of a nation to violent attacks by terrorists or other radical extremists? We have seen one model illustrated in the response of the British government to last year's attacks on London's public transportation system, in which 52 people were killed and 700 injured. The British rightly understood the attacks as terrorist acts, but responded in a measured manner, dealing both with the investigation of the terrible crime and the need for enhanced security in its wake. Pointedly, the British did not opt for a military response to these acts of terror.
We have also, of course, seen an altogether different model of response, perhaps most clearly exemplified by the U.S. invasion of two countries - one of which was an actual source of the terror - following the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001.
Unfortunately, it seems to be in the latter spirit that Israel responded to terror attacks in the past fortnight. Provoked by the Hamas kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, Israel not only invaded the northern Gaza Strip but also destroyed a significant portion of Gaza's infrastructure, including airstrikes against Gaza's power grid.
Even apart from the ethical questions raised by Israel's massive retaliation, there are significant issues of efficacy: Does it work? Is Israel made more secure by a militarized approach? Israel has destroyed 42 bridges in Lebanon this week, along with 38 roads, communications equipment, factories, runways and fuel depots at the Beirut airport, and the main ports of Beirut and Tripoli. And along with the material devastation, the attacks constitute a terrible, possibly even fatal, threat to Lebanon's fragile and fledgling democracy.
As Christians committed to the cause of peace, our role is not to "take sides" in the struggle, in the traditional sense, but rather to constantly stand for the "side" of a just and secure peace. We can ignore neither the horror of suicide bombings against Israeli civilians (including direct attacks on school children) nor the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories (with all its "collateral damage" to Palestinian children). We must have the vision and courage to stand against the acts of violence by terrorist organizations, as well as the massive state violence by the region's military superpower, while avoiding the trap of positing a false "equivalency" between actions that are not equal.
We cannot allow ourselves to be paralyzed by the political, strategic, and moral complexity of the situation to stand back and do nothing. A first step toward a more comprehensive resolution is an immediate operational cease-fire. But that must be followed by a new way of thinking because, as a U.N. official put it yesterday, "The Middle East is littered with the results of people believing there are military solutions to political problems in the region."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I Understand

Various sentences from different news reports:

The outlines of an American-Israeli consensus began to emerge on Tuesday in which Israel would continue to bombard Lebanon for about another week to degrade the capabilities of the Hezbollah militia, officials of the two countries said.

American officials signaled that Ms. Rice was waiting at least a few more days before wading into the conflict, in part to give Israel more time to weaken Hezbollah forces.

At the United Nations the Americans, who have signaled that they will give Israel more time to continue the bombardment of Lebanon to weaken Hezbollah’s military power, opposed a French proposal for a Security Council resolution calling for a lasting cease-fire.

The Bush administration is giving Israel a tacit green light to take the time it needs to neutralize Hezbollah, but the Europeans fear mounting civilian casualties will play into the hands of militants and weaken Lebanon's democratically elected government.

I understand the political reasons for this. I really do.

I'm having much more trouble with the moral ones.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


President Bush used the word “shit” in a conversation with Tony Blair at the G8 conference in St. Petersburg.

The reaction of the American media was one of shock and/or poking fun at another example of Bush’s “crude” language. The word “shit” was of course bleeped out every time.

Last Monday morning I was watching the news about the Middle East when I got the same feeling I had a few days after hurricane Katrina nearly wiped New Orleans off the map.

Where is the government? Where are our leaders? How can it be that the same government that spoke so strongly and acted with such force in the War Against Terrorism is now so weak, powerless and ineffective?

(Remember Bush’s words to Michael Brown, the Director of FEMA? “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job”. If there had been no microphones or cameras around he would have said “hell of a”. Two weeks later Brown resigned because of incompetence.)

War is raging again in the Middle East. Houses and neighbourhoods are being bombarded, innocent civilians are being killed. There is a real possibility of escalation and spread of war.

And we hear nothing from the leaders of the West.

Where is the government? Where are our leaders? How can it be that the same government that spoke so strongly and acted with such force in the War Against Terrorism is now so weak, powerless and ineffective?

In the same conversation with Blair Bush also said: “I feel like telling Kofi to get on the phone with Assad and make something happen.”

When he wanted to attack Iraq Bush paid no attention to Annan’s opinion and didn’t need him for anything. Now he wants Annan to take care of this problem. Why doesn't he get on the phone?

I get angry and sad at this lack of leadership shown by America, Great Britain, France, Russia, Holland – go down the whole list.

The world and the Middle East need leadership so badly.

And we are not getting it.

I think that is ****.

(For an interesting and interactive map of Lebanon and Israel which shows up to date nieuws and blogs, click here. But take this warning from the website seriously: The purpose of this page is to aggregate what is being said and reported: readers must make their own judgement on what to believe, and what to agree or disagree with.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I think this is it - at least for now: Hallelujah

Now I've heard there was a secret chord
that David played and it pleased the Lord,
but you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this: the fourth, the fifth
the minor fall, the major lift;
the baffled king composing Hallelujah!

Your faith was strong but you needed proof.
You saw her bathing on the roof; her beauty
and the moonlight overthrew you.
She tied you to a kitchen chair
she broke your throne, she cut your hair,
and from your lips she drew the Hallelujah!

You say I took the Name in vain;
I don't even know the name.
But if I did, well, really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light in every word;
It doesn't matter which you heard;
the holy, or the broken Hallelujah!

I did my best; it wasn't much.
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch.
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you.
And even though it all went wrong,
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

Written by Leonard Cohen.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Walk the Line

Last night I watched the DVD Walk the Line, a story of the early life of Johnny Cash.

Early in the movie Johnny is trying to get a local record label, Sun Records, to take him and his two bandmembers on. They have played a gospel tune, something about "Jaysus", and it is obvious the man isn't impressed.

In desperation Johnny asks, "Well, what do you want?"

And the man says, in one of those lines that give me goosebumps:

If you was hit by a truck, and you was lyin’ out in that gutter dyin’, and you had time to sing one song, one song that would let God know what you felt about your time here on earth, one song that would sum you up, that’s the kind of song that truly saves people.

I'm interested - what would that song be?
(and, as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't have to be a worship song)

I'll have to think about it a while, but I'll let you know.

Friday, July 14, 2006


The French televison has compiled the five worst fouls of Materazzi.

Click here to see it, but be warned!
If you have a queasy stomach, don’t do it.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, made the following remark in the period leading up to the war in Iraq: When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

In Matthew 18 Jesus tells his disciples how to deal with someone who sins. Church discipline is based on this teaching.

The last step in the process is if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan, or a tax collector.

I will never forget a line I read in a commentary over this passage: How did Jesus treat pagans and tax collectors?

Today we witness a dramatic escalation of violence in the Middle East.

Are these words of Jesus still valid? I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

Lord, have mercy on us and our world, and teach us how to practice these words.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Marriage Game continued

A couple of other thoughts about the log “Marriage Game”:

In that log I posed the thought – of course not new – the foundation of a good marriage is that one realizes that he or she is there to serve the other.

You can understand that to mean that you need to deny yourself and who you are, and let the other walk over you.

But that is not what I mean. I mean something else – let me just come out with it:

The calling that I have is to “be God” for the other person.

When I look at my partner, especially when she is not meeting my (insatiable) needs, I think to myself: “If God were here now in my place, what would He do?”

I don’t know what it does for you, but every time I think that – and even now as I write it – I feel something.

Something wonderful.
Something powerful.
Something that is bigger than myself.
Something that makes me joyful.
Something that gives me a reason to live and helps me know what I need to do next.
Something that frees me.

C.S. Lewis uses a somewhat shocking image to describe this (in his book The Four Loves). I paraphrase: If I may use a biological image, God is a “host” who has purposely created his own parasites; a host who calls us into life in order to “exploit” and “misuse” Him.

God loses nothing of His own person or being by giving Himself to us. Absolutely not.
In fact, He becomes even more praiseworthy.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is totally different than what our heart or our society says.

But I can give you the guarantee that if you begin to put this into practice you will become more and more like the Man we follow.

And you will shine!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Marriage Game

Last week my wife Cyndi and I were guinea pigs for a “Marriage Game”- a card game that is designed to help couples communicate with each other about what they want out of their relationship and which values they share with each other.

Cyndi and I married young (that means that we have been together a long time now), and during the last years we have paid a lot of attention to our relationship and how we can grow in learning about each other and how to care for each other.

So it was fun to participate in this game as a try-out for a television program that might be based on this game. And we did learn some things.

At the end of the game the person who was leading it asked us to respond to what we had just done. We gave an answer, but it apparently was not satisfactory to her. So she asked Cyndi, “Are you content in your relationship?”

Cyndi’s first - almost instinctive – response was “It is not about whether I am content or not. That is not the most important goal.”

It was obvious that this was not the answer she expected.
But it was an answer that was worth my weight in gold.


The generation of my parents married young and without much knowledge about themselves or the mechanics of a relationship. People married, had children, worked, and stayed together without much concern for the personal needs of the individual within the relationship.

My generation – the baby boomers – also married young, but usually had more experience in relationships and sexuality. Because of the enormous changes going on in the society we were more aware of who we were as persons and what we needed. We had high ideals. But the kids and the career came, and it wasn’t long before we became unsatisfied with our lives.

The difference between this generation and that of our parents is that we went to the psychologist with our problems and to find an answer to the questions “Who am I really?” and “What do I really want?” The talk shows on radio and TV – with “Oprah” and “Dr. Phil” as frontrunners – are a perfect example of that.

The generation of our children grew up in this environment and that has made quite a difference. They marry at an older age, and have usually had more than one serious relationship before they find their partner. They are older when they become parents, and in general their relationships are more stable. They seem not to have the questions and struggles about who they are as intensely as we do (or did).

What I want to say is this: my generation is very focused on who I am, what I feel, how I can be fulfilled in this life.

And that is a good thing. It is good that we have learned – or are learning – to pay attention to ourselves, who we are and what we need.

But it could be that here the good really is the worst enemy of the best.

Because it is not ultimately about whether I am content or not.

We have been made to serve the other. Our life is complete only to the extent that we have learned to give ourselves to the other person.

Cyndi and I realized again that the greatest pleasure we experience in our life together is to be able to be of value and service to someone else. Knowing who I am and what I need is only healthy when it rests on the foundation of service to each other and to those around us. The Bible calls that “agape”.

I think sometimes that our generation could use more “therapy” in order to learn how to be of service to others.

We have been enormously successful in teaching our children who they are and giving them the affirmation that we often didn’t get.

Sometimes I wonder how we have done with passing on the real fundamental values in life.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Help Mr. Bush!

Mr. Bush finds himself in a free fall!

You can help him land softly, and you can move him to the Right or to the Left, depending on your own political leanings.

Just use your cursor - with a little bit of practice you will get it right.

Take control of the leader of the Free World! Click here.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Psalm 91

This morning I preached on Psalm 91.

A Psalm full of rich imagery that translates into the reality of every day.

Two things struck me particularly:

1. The fundamental security and wellbeing that we find by God. In the deepest part of our psyche we can know that it is fundamentally good with and for us. Not because I say so, but because God says so. That is a revolutionary thought that you find nowhere outside of God’s Word.
2. The suffering of this world contributes to our fullness. I know that sounds unbelievable, but that’s what the Bible says. Suffering adds what is wanting and makes us complete. Without suffering we won’t become what God intended us to become.

I ended the sermon by quoting a few lines from the weblog of a friend of mine who is suffering from terminal cancer. This particular log was written by his daughter who is 15. It appears she has already understood some of this.

You can, of course, be cynical and say that she has been brainwashed at a young age, and when she has more life experience she won’t sing this song any more.

I choose not to believe that. I choose to believe that God is working, through her father’s suffering and her own, to make her full.

What do you think?

Though the cancer seems to be controlling my dad’s ability to live, I take comfort in knowing that the cancer is just part of God’s plan. Just like He also has a plan for you, and for me.
Instead of dwelling on the fact that the time I have left with my dad is short, God has been teaching me to be thankful for the blessing of the 15 years God has put an amazing father in my life.
I truly don’t know how I am going to get along without him, but I am trusting in God to take care of me, and to keep drawing me to Him.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Raising kids

For all those parents and grandparents whose kids won't obey them, maybe you should buy this album:

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


The Dutch are looking forward already to the World Cup of 2010 in South Africa.

The Dutch team has already started to practice.