POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

Help Houston


As some of you may know I currently serve on the Acts 29 US South Central network leadership team running church planter assessments for the center of the country. The US South Central network includes the great state of Texas.

Clear Creek Community Church, one of our churches in the Houston metro area, is running point on collecting funds to serve in recovery efforts in light of the devastation resulting from Harvey. I know the leaders of the church and they have our full trust. Additionally, trusted friends have recommended Crossover Bible Fellowship as a place to give  

We recommend these as churches to give toward help those impacted by this torrential storm.

The Axe Man or the Old Spice Man?

There are two men’s body washes that are creatively vying for the hearts and minds of man consumers (or those who purchase on their behalf) today. This morning after lifting a bit at the gym and using some man wash myself, I was thinking about how each of these brands is pitching its wares to men today. Ironically, two different versions of manhood are found. One note before we begin. I am endorsing neither product, nor their future choices in marketing schtick. Either company could produce very different advertising efforts in the future. I only want to comment on what we see from them today.

The Axe Man

The Axe brand is a new comer on the scene of man products not having been around as long as Speed Stick or Hai Karate. Its line of man sprays and washes is marketed quite aggressively to the young male today. What is their hook? If you use Axe, lots of hot chicks will want sex from you. Use Axe body spray or wash or hair product and look out…you will become the irresistible object of the uncontrolled sexual desires of multiple women at the same time. The Axe man is a picture of the modern view of manhood - adolescent, sex crazed and led around by things other than self control.

The Old Spice Man

In contrast, the new fantastically popular “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” is surprising, funny and different. Apparently, the campaign has been economically effective as sales appear to be up some 107%. The spots highlight masculinity, have brilliant writing and are so ridiculous that their humor seems to appeal to a broad audience. I know I find them awesome and I even had my wife buy some Old Spice Bodywash for me this week.

As I thought about the two full length Old Spice commercials as well as the myriad of responses given to peeps on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites something quite surprising came to mind. The man your man could smell like is quite a different man that the Axe man; in fact, we find a mand of Chivalry. Now hold on professor, are you not reading too much into some humor - perhaps, but I don’t think so.

  • Two Tickets to that thing you love! The man your man could smell like is thinking about woman and how he might woo them. How so? He is thoughtful to know what she loves and proactively buys tickets. Men, this sort of initiative with women is an old school art that the Axe boy knows nothing of.
  • A Cake He Backed for You Again, an attempt at thoughtfulness, planning and giving to his woman - men, let us be awake to learn here!
  • In the Kitchen He Built for You This man fixes house stuff and seems to do so as an act of service to the lady of his manor. Again, the man is serving his woman…Swan Dive!
  • Finally, he’s on a horse and we know who rides horses right? Men who protect and provide for a lady. Men who both ride to battle and rescue what is valuable from the hands of marauders, idiots and tyrants…maybe even from childish Axe men. Yes friends, a knight rides a horse and I just think Old Spice giving a nod to men on horses is refreshing.

Where are the men of the old code, where are men of courage, truth, valor and respect for ladies? Where are the men who are like the man your man could smell like? Well, perfect ones do not exist. And this man is a caricature. Yet men can become knights and men can learn to love a lady. Men can learn to fight for the good and resist the evil without and within. Men can treat women with grace, service and yes honor.

Yes indeed Old Spice Man you are on a horse. May that tribe increase and the Knight’s sword triumph over the barbarians Axe. Let the old school return my man friends.

Matt Chandler

Many of you may be aware of Matt Chandler’s recent brain surgery to remove a tumor found over the Thanksgiving weekend on his right frontal lobe.  You may not have been exposed to Matt the man or his view on this unexpected trial in his life.  The following video was recorded the week of his surgery just a few days before he went in. It is a different view on life and suffering that comes from faith in Jesus Christ.

Please pray for Matt’s recovery. Updates on the Chandlers can be followed on Facebook here.

Making the most of the time...

I am teaching a passage on wisdom, time and a Spirit filled life in the gospel on Sunday. I came across this interesting study at the NYTimes on how Americans use their time - very nice use of interactive technology. You need to check this out and see how the average American uses their time. You can look at stuff by age, education level etc.

My question is this - Are you average? How do we want to spend our free time? It has been my opinion for years that way in which we spend our “free” time dictates what sort of life we have and impact we make with others. This is our moment in history - how will we spend our days?

Check it out here

15Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV)


To Change or Not to Change...Your Name

Ladies, USA Today is reporting on a recent study that says 70% of all brides think changing to your husbands last name upon mariage is the way to go.  Here is a paragraph from the essay which I think makes the issue very clear:

Respondents who said that women should change their names tended to view it as important for establishing a marital and family identity, she says, while those who thought women should keep their own names focused on the importance of a woman establishing a professional or individual identity.

Ladies, all the ladies, louder now, help me out.  What do you think? To change or not to change the name - that is my question? Hit the comments below…

Boy oh Chinese Boy

What do you get when you have the following sociocultural mathematical equation:

UltraSound + Abortion of Female Babies + Cultural Engineering by Population Control + Traditional Favoring of Males =

It seems there is massive gender inequality in China, but not of a kind you are used to hearing about in America.  According to a story in the NYTimes, it seems there are millions more men in China than women (32 million or so of "reproductive age").  What might of caused this imbalance? Well, it is clear to some researchers:

The trend toward more male than female children intensified steadily after 1986, they said, as ultrasound tests and abortion became more available. “Sex-selective abortion accounts for almost all the excess males,” the paper said.

There are going to be a lot, and I mean a lot, of frustrated dudes in China soon...What does this mean geopoltically? It seems that this has many people concerned:

The Chinese government is openly concerned “about the consequences of large numbers of excess men for social stability and security,” the researchers said.

The planned murder of children, and in this case little unborn baby girls, is a heinous idea on its own.  It also seems to have some serious consequences for society...not to mention getting a date.  In all sobriety, millions of angry young men usually leads to very bad things in the world. But hey, we love the game of pretend where we act as though we are masters of our own destinies. The problem is that such deceptions have real world consequences and ideas always come home to roost.

NYT Recession Map



The New York Times has an interesting interactive map online showing the change in unemployment rates across the nation...the breakout is by county. Here is the linkage.

(HT - JR Vassar)

Hudson River Landing Animated

This has been going around a bit and is quite an amazing look at how the Hudson River plane landing went down.  I believe this is real time audio...pretty amazing how the pilot keeps his cool.  Some up here on the NY local news called it "serendipity" - I call it a kind and gracious providence.

(HT - a bunch of folks)

Whiteness, Race and the Future

Hua Hsu has an interesting article entitled The End of White America? in the Atlantic Monthly. It goes beyond the normal demographic projections (though it mentions them) to discuss our experience as a nation moving from a European heritage towards a post-white, post-racial reality. The last paragraph reads as follows:

But maybe this is merely how it used to be—maybe this is already an outdated way of looking at things. “You have a lot of young adults going into a more diverse world,” Carter remarks. For the young Americans born in the 1980s and 1990s, culture is something to be taken apart and remade in their own image. “We came along in a generation that didn’t have to follow that path of race,” he goes on. “We saw something different.” This moment was not the end of white America; it was not the end of anything. It was a bridge, and we crossed it.

It made me think of the Kingdom of God and how it will certainly be the most multi-ethnic community we might imagine. Revelation 7 echoes the following future:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”


We are thankful to live this reality today in light of that day here in New Jersey.  Though race, culture, foods and habits keep communities separated into enclaves...there are hints that we all want to come out and live a bit with one another.  May this increase.  My hope for Christian people is not to  eradicate certain churches that find cultural and worship affinities along ethnic lines; but rather we could continue to see families join together for more multiethnic churches into the future.  We are learning here in NJ to live this way and are praying that our little church will continue to take form as we build towards public worship in 2009. 

One more fun blast from the past...here is a picture from our Black Culture Club my senior year at Kellam High School. I was a member through middle and high school - the only "negative" and "anti-spot" in the picture. You can guess for yourselves how I received those honorary titles...




Thoughts for the big game...

I was directly involved for about 12 years with a ministry called Athletes in Action. I first became a Christian through involvement with AIA and was on staff 8 years with the ministry in various different capacities. I recently began to volunteer time to AIA here in New Jersey at Rutger's University.  Ministry with college athletes has been part of my life for many years and I always try to keep up with that scente in some fashion.

Surrounding the upcoming national championship AIA has put together a web site called "Beyond the Ultimate" featuring the stories of Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford and several other D1 football guys.  One of which, Orion Martin at Va Tech, is a friend that I have kept up with through text messages over the last few years (What's up O). I thought with all the buzz surrounding the big game this week that some of you might be interested in some guys who are living a victory beyond the competition.

You can hit the site up here: www.beyondtheultimate.org

Feminists and Mothers and Work...Oh My!

(Illustration by Polly Becker)

The crowd who set off to see the wizard once echoed their fears of lions and tigers and bears...The Atlantic Monthly shows no fear as it touches upon the rather touchy subjects of feminism, motherhood and the nature work in a woman's life.  The article is probing, pithy and a bit punchy at times. It wrestles openly with the complex issues of the feminist movement and motherhood in modern times. 

The article, entitled I Choose My Choice - The fruits of the feminist revolution? Sisterhood, empowerment, and eight hours a day in a cubicle, is an interesting push back against some of the radical feminist rants offered by the likes of Linda Hirshman...who is featured prominently in the article.

I think that Sandra Tsing Loh has provided some probing thoughts about a woman's liberation in our day.  You might be surprised at from what she sensing her own liberation.  An article worth your time for both men and women.

Peta Persuasion

The the fine People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have enlisted some hollywood star power to offer tight reasoning for animal rights. 

I think that we should tell the Coyotes about animal rights...obviously we need to tell them that they should not eat other animals...particularly cats. The tightly reasoned logic will have me ridding myself of all leather products and forsaking meat forever...nah, scratch that - I'm still not convinced.

I have a few simple questions for the radical animal rights activist:

  • If human beings are but animals ourselves, why do we have a moral duty to care for other animals - they all do eat one another you know.
  • If we DO have a moral duty to care for creation, including kind treatment of animals...are we not distinct from mere animals?
  • Yet a purely naturalistic worldview does not support human beings as being distinct or afforded any special status from other animals. So why can't we do whatever we want to survive and pass on our genes? Including using baby seal skins as coats?

It seems to me that only a view that holds that human beings are created in the image of God as co-rulers and stewards with him over creation could have a moral responsibility for how we treat other creatures. I remain unconvinced that certain animal rights positions are coherent, let alone worthy of such radicalism as exhibited by the good people of PETA.

Enlightened Obama OR How to freak out PreMillennials

The San Francisco Chronicle has an interesting article about the effect of Obama on certain people.  Now those of you know this is not, and will never be a political blog. I encourage people to vote and vote their conscience knowing that there will never be a candidate that perfectly aligns to all of one's political, moral, intellectual or philosophical convictions.  So when November rolls around, vote for the candidate of your own choosing. 

Yet sometimes in the political posturing, commentary and banter some interesting things are said "out there" - On Friday, there was just such a strange article on the San Fran newspaper's web site.  Here is an excerpt from Is Obama an enlightened being? Spiritual wise ones say: This sure ain't no ordinary politician. You buying it?

Dismiss it all you like, but I've heard from far too many enormously smart, wise, spiritually attuned people who've been intuitively blown away by Obama's presence - not speeches, not policies, but sheer presence - to say it's just a clever marketing ploy, a slick gambit carefully orchestrated by hotshot campaign organizers who, once Obama gets into office, will suddenly turn from perky optimists to vile soul-sucking lobbyist whores, with Obama as their suddenly evil, cackling overlord.

Here's where it gets gooey. Many spiritually advanced people I know (not coweringly religious, mind you, but deeply spiritual) identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul. 

That quote will make premil anti-Christ hunters out there a bit freaked out and will make some political hacks want to puke.  To me it smacks of new age silliness and is another line in the long record of human beings putting their trust in human princes, rather than in our creator.  Kingmakers will soon abound...pundits will urge you to put your hope in McCain or Obama.  It seems everyone will want to be Hillary's very best friend.  Well maybe some will never desire to be bff with Mrs. Clinton.

Yet I am reminded today of the truth of Psalm 146 in light of such outlandish comments about a mere man.

146:1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

3 Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.

5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

10 The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!

Yes, do vote.  For Obama or McCain or write in Ron Paul or Hillary if it so suits your conscience. Yet do not trust in new political regimes to fix your own heart or redeem the world in the end.  This job belongs to another - and he will come on his own terms, not on the whims of a fickle, self serving electorate.

(HT - Uncommon Descent)

2 Million Minutes...

I just read an interesting BusinessWeek article on the documentary 2 Million Minutes which chronicles the high school experiences of 6 students: 2 from the US, 2 from India and 2 from China. Here is the trailer below...interesting stuff. 

Single Sex...Education Theories

My friend Owen Strachan comments on a recent article in the New York Times Magazine article by Elizabeth Weil.  The piece is lengthy and focuses on the issue of single sex educational philosophy (keeping boys with boys, girls with girls and forsaking the co-ed classroom). 

Owen has called my blog and writing "punchy" - not sure what that means. I think I find his a bit "serious." But I did hang with him for dinner and coffee for a long evening once...and he is a really cool guy to hang with and has a great mind.

The Seven Deadly Sinful Cities

Forbes has up featuring the most sinful American cities. The technology is cool as well because a simple mouse-over will show the areas of the country which are the greediest, most lustful, etc. It uses the seven deadlies. It is true that Bible Belt folks are the fattest and and laziest. The West has its share of lust, the Mormons are full of pride and Tony Soprano was from New Jersey.  It seems that Memphis is just jealous, fat and lazy. 

Here is the link

(HT Al Mohler) 

Steve Jobs on Reading...

John Markoff of the New York Times recently caught up with Steve Jobs to discuss all things Apple and technological.  Many of you know that Jobs just recently gave his MacWorld keynote and rolled out several new products.  An overpriced, too little time, DRMed, movie rental store on iTunes with a good selection and a Thin notebook called the MacBook Air.  All things buzz around Jobs and everyone who knows him says he likes it this way.  So it Markoff's piece is interesting tech journalism but a quotation found therein was a bit ridiculous. In belittling the Amazon Kindle e-book strategy Jobs made the following comment:

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

This is a prime example of why marketers cannot influence the future through leadership and must only follow the dollar signs of the masses and what they think people want.  Now, I do not want to sound arrogant, but sometimes this amounts to a capitulation rather than leadership.  My kids "want" to eat bad food all day, but as a parent/leader, I lead them to finer dining because it is what they need.  There are several problems with Jobs' quote. 

First, it assumes that people were not reading when they read his quote.  I know he is referring to "books" but people are still reading Steve - hello POCBlog reader. Second, it commits what philosophers call the IS/OUGHT fallacy.  Simply because something IS a certain way, does not mean that it OUGHT to be that way.  Of course this deals in ethics and views of the common good, not just "what sells."  Jobs only concern appears to be the latter.  We ought to be (sorry) concerned in helping literacy, not capitulating to literary decline in culture.  Jobs seems to be saying that a gadget whose focus is reading book is flawed, because the kids don't read good any more.

So what should we do with challenges like "people not reading?" My conviction would be to help people love to read.  Because reading...well, its fundamental.  The same thing can be said in the church.  People say that the Christian community don't read deep things, doesn't care about theology, only reads books full of lightweight kitsch...blah, blah, blah.  The marketers therefore flood the bookstores with such stuff and do not help the problem a bit. Our response was to start a young adult ministry that had these things at the center rather than giving in and just entertaining the folks with a get a date club ministry.  I write for Inversion, not for publishers.  I commend thinking, feeling, aching, caring and theology - not shallowness because that is what the folks want.  My goal is not to make it big, strike it big, but to establish people in the gospel and a sacrificial commitment to actually following Jesus.  The result - our people's joy in God and Jesus' mission going forth.  So when Steve Jobs says "nobody reads anymore" - just reply, "Well, I do!" and go spread your tribe.  When people say that nobody cares about theological reflection anymore - I just reply "Well, we do!" and may the tribe increase.



Don't try and prove your masculinity...

My friend Tim Dees takes Gloria Steinem to task in one of his excellent Fact of the Day essays.  He also has a good one on "Brooklyn" which is quite humorous.  Check him out at http://www.thefotd.com/

The Steinem piece I have grafted in here below as well.  Just trying to prove my masculinity...Here is Tim's review of the recent NY Times Op Ed.



Amid all the bad things that can be said about this election, there is one good thing that I can say: we have the most diverse presidential field ever, and the candidates are being judged on their merits, not on the color of their skin or their gender.  This isn't a universal truth yet, but Barack Obama's success and Hillary Clinton's relative success indicate that non-white male candidates now have a chance.  This is great news.

It would take a real killjoy to turn this expression of egalitarianism into a platform to tell everyone that they're racist or sexist, but Gloria Steinem had an op-ed piece in the Times today that did just that.  I've never been a fan of the way the Times op-ed page is edited (I use the term loosely), but Steinem's piece is particularly fatuous.

For the full argument, read the article yourself (it's available here), but in short, Steinem states that (a) Barack Obama would never have a shot if he were a woman, and (b) Hillary Clinton is losing the election because she is a woman.

Like all Hillary Clinton supporters, Gloria Steinem believes that the key to being president is experience.  That is certainly true in the insurance industry, but that's really about it.  Abraham Lincoln had minimal experience; Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson each had more experience than half the Democratic field combined.  Americans aren't looking for someone experienced, they're looking for someone they can believe in.

It's this commitment to the message of experience that leaves Steinem confused.  How can Iowans reject the more experienced candidate?  And here Steinem starts kicking in the Freud: "children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman."  Gotcha, guys!

When Steinem tries to explain why she supports Clinton, things really fall apart: "I'm supporting Senator Clinton because like Senator Obama she has community organizing experience, but she also has more years in the Senate, an unprecedented eight years of on-the-job training in the White House, no masculinity to prove, the potential to tap a huge reservoir of this country's talent by her example, and now even the courage to break the no-tears rule."  Take a careful look at qualification #4: "no masculinity to prove."  I'm no Barack Obama expert, but I don't picture him as the kind of guy who's always challenging people to arm wrestling matches and accepting dares to drink hot sauce.  What Steinem is saying is that every male is fundamentally deficient, because he feels compelled to prove his masculinity.

But that's not all.  Check out this paragraph:

"What worries me is that some women, perhaps especially younger ones, hope to deny or escape the sexual caste system; thus Iowa women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age."

Note the massive assumption that a vote for Hillary is a "radical" vote.  I can't honestly say why voting for a woman is more radical than voting for a mixed race candidate, but that's an assumption that Steinem made without support.  It's worth noting that college students, known for being radical, are polling hugely in favor of Obama.

So at the heart of this article are two huge assumptions: that men feel compelled to prove their masculinity, and that voting for Hillary is radical.  You could call these prejudices.


YWAM press release

YWAM has released a deal about the recent murders of four of their staff by a gunman on their campus in the Denver suburb of Arvada, Colorado. You can read it here

Police are investigating whether this shooting and the one which took place yesterday in Colorado Springs are related.  Sad stuff.

Opinions of Government

Not that polls mean much but I can across one this morning that seems indicative about American's views of their government.  Personally, I often feel more purple than Red or Blue and don't hear much vision in the politics of the West.  Anyway, we don't do much politics here on the POCBlog, but this did match some things I feel about things today.

A quick excerpt:

The dismal assessment of the Republican president and the Democratic-controlled Congress follows another month of inconclusive political battles over a future path in Iraq and the recent Bush veto of an expansion of the program providing insurance for poor children.

The bleak mood could present problems for both parties heading into the November 2008 election campaign, Zogby said.

"Voter turnout could still be high next year, but the mood has turned against incumbents and into a 'throw the bums out' mindset," Zogby said.

Here is the link: Voters unhappy with Bush and Congress