Saturday, August 23, 2008
  Comparing free video sharing services
Here is the same video uploaded to two different video sharing services:

I wonder if your impressions of the two services match mine?
BTW in both cases the default settings were used. Otherwise I'd have "shrunk" the Blip version ;)

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Friday, May 02, 2008
  I'm sold on mobile phones, maybe...
David Kerr is a persistent chap before I'd set off for Faraway Places, he had me convinced that half the population of Mozambique had access to mobile phones with video (something half my household don't yet have). Visiting the refugee camp convinced me that lots of people there and even more in Thailand "proper" do too... Now he's trying to convince us that this format could be a good way to spread the Bible.

He convinced me to spend a while playing with 3GP, if I cut the frame rate to slideshow proportions (just 1fps) and keep the audio low (but not too low) I can fit a whole short Psalm with pictures into less than 400KB. Judge for yourselves if it is worth it (just remember I spent more effort on the technical side than choosing photos - so there are lots of cute kids ;-)

Here is the 3gp version of Psalm 67 at only 368KB, and the WMV Psalm 67 at 1.97MB with much better picture quality to demonstrate what you lose in making it quite that small for a phone. (and a Flash version of Psalm 67 for Maccies at "only" 2.57MB!)

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Friday, October 05, 2007
  Psalm 22 (and an excuse ;-)
I've posted a new item on my 5 Minute Bible site, though it is titled "Complaint Psalms: Part One" it actually follows from an earlier post "Arguing with God: Jer 12:1-4" which began looking at the complaints (not "confessions!) in Jeremiah. This post begins to talk about the most often quoted complaint in the Bible, Psalm 22. I plan to follow it up with more in the series over the next while...

That, together with being terribly busy catching up after our lovely holiday in Thailand, explains why I have still (despite encouragement) posted on Psalm 68. I know, I must... maybe I will before the marking wave of the end of the semester breaks over me. But for now please make do with complaints, I love to tackle the mysterious and ancient praise song, but "I am a worm and not a human" and just at present not up to both tasks!

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Complaint/Lament/Plea ::

Both Tyler (who started it) in a post "Laments, Complaints, Prayers, Pleas, or Petitions?" and Ken, in a comment on my response to Tyler: "Complaints Department" make a sensible criticism (which I had not spotted, despite my facetious title) that "complaint" is perhaps too anaemic a word to describe the psalms under discussion. They make good points.

Ken seems quite happy with "lament":
It strikes me that the passive aspect of the term lament is quite appropriate as it seems the Psalmist is always fully aware of God’s sovereignty and their own inability to right the injustice or perceived wrong in the face of that sovereignty. I also agree with Tyler that complaint seems to trivialize the petition while lament, in my opinion, more appropriately captures the emotional gravity of the situation. From my own experiences, I would more often characterize my moments of grief and frustration with God as laments rather than complaints.
While Tyler, after summarising other suggestions, like "songs of prayer" - which while it has the advantage of using "biblical language" is neither really English, nor captures the precise nature of these "songs", writes:
I wonder if a more appropriate name for these psalms may be “pleas” or “petitions.” Gunkel and most other psalms scholars after him have recognized the most important element of the lament psalm is the plea or petition for help. Gerstenberger calls it the “very heart of a complaint psalm” and claims that “in fact, all the other elements can be interpreted as preparing and supporting the petition” (Psalms, FOTL, 13).
I rather like this, as he notes the heavyweights draw attention to the central role of the "plea" in these psalms. But I am still a bit nervous of domesticating them. "Plea" sounds so much safer than "complaint" when addressed to God... And some of them are not at all "safe". Jeremiah's disputes with God somehow seem tamed if one calls them "pleas".


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Complaints Department ::

Tyler's been teaching the psalms, inevitably he faces discussing with his students the most frequent genre of psalm in the book -– complaints -– and why complaint is so much less prominent in church today. His headings show the sort of line he is taking:
  • Complaining in Faith to God

  • The Costly Loss of Lament

  • Lament as One Stage in a Journey

[Tyler uses the more "“traditional" name for this sort of psalm "lament"– I'm convinced that Gerstenberger and others are correct and that "“complaint" - a root Tyler uses a lot in the post, but chooses not to use to name the category -– fits the content better. These psalms claim that something is wrong with the world, usually complaining that God has not acted to right the wrong and go on to petition God to put it right. They seldom stop at merely lamenting the wrong.]

In discussing the ways in which complaint is a form of prayer that is deeply faithful (contrary to the contemporary feeling that to complain to the Almighty would show lack of trust) Tyler has the nice line:

No matter how virulent the psalmist gets -— at least the psalmist knew where to direct his complaints!

Which fits with Anon's (I thought that the quote came from Conrad Gempf but can't find it) claim that central to Old Testament talk of God is the understanding that "“The one thing God cannot stand is to be ignored." The Bible consistently tells us the story of a unique God (as opposed to a god), who is passionate ("“jealous") such a God is a natural target for complaint (after all if there is no other power who else can we hold responsible) and "“big enough" to take it. Any less is lack of faith, or lack of trust or relationship!

Tyler follows Brueggemann in his analysis of the consequences of the loss of complaint in public and private worship. A faith that merely praises, while sileconnivesomplaint conives with stiflings quo, stiffling the personhood of the people, and denying real relationship. In the end such an "“accepting" or stoic faith denies God and demeans humanity!

The main area where I'd have liked to see Tyler go further is in his last section. This is the time to introduce Brueggemann's greatest gift to readers of psalms, the three fold circle (or spiral) of experience expressed in the psalms:

  • Life is good -– psalms that express satisfaction and joy at God's well-ordered world (Brueggemann's psalms of orientation).

  • Life is a mess -– psalms of complaint, confession etc. (Brueggemann's psalms of disorientation).

  • Psalms that at first glance look like the thanksgivings and praise of the orientation phase, but go deeper and recognise that life is a gift (reorientation in Brueggemann's classification)

Brueggemann sees this cycle happening in life, time and again, not just in psalms. This notion seems to resonate with each class of students to whom I've taught this material.

[I wrote about this approach to the psalms as "“appropriate spirituality" back in March 2004. At that time I called the three categories good space, bad space, and God space now I prefer the "“life is good, life is a mess, life is a gift" approach.]

There's a nice scene in the old movie Titanic that captures this. Jack a poor drifter has been invited to the first class dining room (watch the film if you need to know more). He explains that he won his ticket in a poker game, his rich and powerful audience respond in various ways:

BTW the "Bunnies" 30 second version of Titanic is also very good ;-)

  • life's a game of chance

  • a real man makes his own luck

  • I think life is a gift


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