Update your RSS and Bookmarks--I'm moving!

posted by Jeffrey on Thursday, December 28, 2006 at 3:08 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

Well I've finally moved to WordPress. I’ve been wanting to make this move for quite some time, but didn’t want chock up the $40 bucks/year (i know, it’s cheap…even compared to TypePad), plus I was looking for a good excuse to initiate the move. The combination of the new year and inevitable force to the new version of blogger seems like a good reason to do so. I mean, if I'm gonna have to do all that coding to keep this old template in the new blogger, I might as well spend that energy coding a brand new spiffy blog.

Many thanks and a huge shout out to my mom who purchased my domain name and server space from GoDaddy.com for my birthday.

Anyway, this blogger.com blog has become kind of confusing. It's titled, as you can see, “the Gathering”. Whenever someone links me up or quotes me they say, “Jeffrey at the Gathering…”, leading some people to ask, “hey, what’s the Gathering?” The Gathering was the name of a church that me, my wife, and some others were starting around two and a half years ago. When we realized that the vision God had given us of “the church” had nothing to do with an individual “local church”, the blog content shifted but the name did not.

So now I have a space of my own, that can one day be even more than a blog (but that’s another story). I did import all the posts and comments from this blogger blog to my new one, and I kept the counter going at the same number. Please update your RSS feeds for me to http://feeds.feedburner.com/ShadowsOfLove and set your bookmarks to my new url, http://www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/.

Farewell blogger, you've been sooo great to me, but I'm moving on to another phase of my blogging life. Peace out.

Christmas Eve Breakfast

posted by Jeffrey on Tuesday, December 26, 2006 at 12:24 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

A recent tradition in my clan is that my wife and I head to my parents' house on Christmas Eve morning for breakfast and to exchange gifts with them and my twin sis. This year, a great conversation unexpectedly materialized around the breakfast table. Here's a rough transcript (as I can recall):

[something was said about how much money is spent this time of year]

me: My blog bud Sam Davidson, founder of this thing called CoolPeopleCare...

Nana (my grandmother): what people care?

Mom: Cool People Care

Nana: Oh. ok?

Me: ...he started this campaign called Christmas is not your Birthday and reports from the National Retail Federation that 450 Billion dollars will have been spent from Thanksgiving to Christmas and asks what would happen if even 1% of that money went to charity or someone you know personally who needs it.

Dad, mom, and nana: hmm [collectively]

Me: Have yall heard of Product [RED] by Bono?

[explanation of the RED campaign]

Me: ...it would only take 50 cents per day to supply one person in Africa the medicine they need to not die from AIDS.

Nana: I think if it costs 50 cents per day in Africa, it should cost that in America as well.

Me: I agree, but it doesn't. Damn capitalism.

Dad: It may cost 50 cents per day for one person's medicine, but how much does it cost to get it to them? Does it even ever get to them? Do the governments intercept the monetary aid? How much of that goes to "executive expenses"?

Me: Good questions dad. That's why I hate to give money to brick and mortar charities...not all of of the money I give, in fact, probably not much at all, goes to people who actually need it.

Dad: Yeah, that sucks (my paraphrase)

Me: A buddy asked me a question back in the summer that went something like this--what if every human on the face of the planet were aware of and lived life through the perfect Love of Christ that is within them? What things would we not need?

[puzzled and introspective looks]

Me: My thoughts exactly, lol...let me get us started, we wouldn't need welfare, borders, governments, armed forces, ...

Dad: No offense son, but that's a Utopian dreamworld, why spend time thinking about that?

Me: Because I believe dreams can come true.

Dad: [head snaps around with bewilderment at the previous comment, followed by a look of apprehensive excitement]

Mom: [yells down from upstairs] Yall ready to come open presents?

That was a great covo Nana and Dad. I hope to continue it further. What do I want for Christmas? That aforementioned "Utopian dreamworld".

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

All the Rage-less

posted by Jeffrey on Thursday, December 21, 2006 at 10:03 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

Be sure to snag a copy of today's "All the Rage", as my "irl" and blog bud Sam Davidson's revolutionary CoolPeopleCare is featured. If you can't get to a place where "All the Rage" is distributed, you can read the article online. If you've never made your way over to CoolPeopleCare.org, then be sure to go check out this site devoted to bringing about a social revolution through five minutes of caring. Live life through love not through rage.

Oh and hey Sam, thanks for the fried pickles and Boddingtons at Dan McGuiness the other day. Good times.

*Yes, I know that "All the Rage" isn't named to reflect a position of hate with the word "rage". The play on the word just worked for the title and topic of my post...*

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

The Hermitage/Mt. Juliet Non-Franchise Coffee Solution

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, December 18, 2006 at 8:44 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

Four words: BILLY GOAT COFFEE CAFE! This joint is my new favorite haunt and I am actually sitting here right this moment as I write this post. For, well what seems like forever, I've been looking for a non-franchise coffee house with, fancy this--good coffee, a good vibe, with reasonable prices on the east side of town. Well my friends, this is it.

My wife and I came in Saturday night for the first time, after dinner at Logan's Roadhouse here in Providence Marketplace with some friends. We met the owners, Judy and Gunnar, who shared with us the story of how the idea behind the Billy Goat Coffee Cafe was born (including where the name originated, but you can read about that on their site).

Now for more details about the Billy Goat. You can find it to the immediate right of the west entrance to Belk in Providence Marketplace. The billy goat logo bids you welcome as you walk through the double glass doors and into the warm and friendly atmosphere of "the goat". Providing this soothing ambiance is foremost the friendliness of the employees that greet you; then a room full of decor in mocha, chocolate, and black; marbleized concrete floors of the same color palette; a big, marble-clad fireplace; and bistro sets, armchairs, and a leather love seat. There is even a huge wooden divider that can be slid shut, closing off a small section of the establishment for conferences or meetings.

The menu is cleverly created in the billy goat theme, even using "kid", "nanny", and "billy" in the stead of small, medium, and large. Another signature difference is the availability of cafe bianco. This is a milder espresso than normal, finishing with the note of something like a Butterfinger Bar, quite tasty indeed. The non-coffee drinkers may still want to visit "the goat" and find their way to the "un-coffee" section of the menu. Not an after 10:00am coffee drinker? That's ok, stop in and try one of their gourmet sandwiches (with chips and a pickle), the soup of the day, or dessert. If you want something to eat with your coffee in the morning, grab a bowl of cereal, bagel, muffin, scone, or turnover.

Before I share some pics of the establishment with you, let me also say that though it may sound like it from this post, Billy Goat Coffee Cafe is not paying me for the positive publicity. I truly do love this new little place and wanted to give a shout out to an up and coming local business that fills a HUGE hole in the marketplace here on the east side of town.

Billy Goat Marquee Billy Goat Logo Billy Goat Lounge Billy Goat 2 Billy Goat 1

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Far From the True Feelings of That I Speak

posted by Jeffrey on Saturday, December 16, 2006 at 1:54 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

I came to again realize this morning that so often times I do not live, even through my writing, in the true reality that I feel exists beyond the realm of most people's awareness. Too often, as someone I love dearly has gently and recently noted, my posts here are cynical and condescending in nature. Ashamedly I admit, this is too true. However, such realizations have led to another great question in my mind. Does the failure to "practice" what one "preaches", in whatever percentage of the time, diminish the authenticity of the belief itself?

This morning I had a meeting at the Frothy Monkey on 12th Ave S and, of course, decided to stay for a bite to eat, some coffee, and to start on a book. So there I was, sitting on the deck surrounded by pets getting their picture taken with Santa (courtesy of Agape Animal Rescue) as I cracked open C. S. Lewis's the Problem of Pain (that I received last Christmas). In the introduction, Lewis writes:

"When Mr. Ashley Sampson suggested to me the writing of this book, I asked leave to be allowed to write it anonymously, since, if I were to say what I really thought about pain, I should be forced to make statements of such apparent fortitude that they would become ridiculous if anyone knew who made them. Anonymity was rejected as inconsistent with the series; but Mr Sampson pointed out that I could write a preface explaining that I did not live up to my own principles! This exhilarating programme I am now carrying out. Let me confess at once, in the words of good Walter Hilton, that throughout this book 'I feel myself so far from true feeling of that I speak, that I can naught else but cry mercy and desire after it as I may.'"

And so I echo those words of C. S. Lewis and Walter Hilton. Many times I may not speak and act and live in the Love that I believe is the true reality, but I believe it still. My only hope is that I will gradually transition to spending more and more time in that true reality, while spending less and less time in this false reality of difference, separation, selfishness, and hate.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Care for a Geminid?

posted by Jeffrey on Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 12:13 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

Well, one of my favorite meteorologists, News 2's Justin Bruce, just beat me to the punch on this, but here ya go anyway. If you're not doing anything between about 10:00pm and midnight this evening, you should consider finding a nice, dark spot to set up camp for a while and gaze into the night sky. That's right, tonight is the peak of arguably the best meteor shower of the year, the Geminids. Oh and just so you know, the forecast is perfect for optimal viewing--not a cloud in the sky.

Space.com writes,
"The Geminid event is known for producing one or two meteors every minute during the peak for viewers with dark skies willing to brave chilly nights...The Geminids are a very fine winter shower, and usually the most satisfying of all the annual showers, even surpassing the Perseids. Studies of past displays show that this shower has a reputation for being rich both in slow, bright, graceful meteors and fireballs as well as faint meteors, with relatively fewer objects of medium brightness. Many appear yellowish in hue. Some even appear to form jagged or divided paths."
SkyTonight.com writes,
"The Geminid meteor shower, possibly the year's best, should peak late tonight in the moonless dark sky. The best time should be from about 10 p.m. until moonrise before dawn."
Finally, the American Meteor Society (AMS) writes,
"The Geminid shower is the favorite of most experienced observers. While most showers wax and wane throughout the years, the Geminids almost always provide an impressive display of celestial fireworks...Near maximum activity this shower can produce over 100 shower members per hour as seen from rural locations..."
There ya have it, grab some blankets and coffee, brave the chill, and wonder at the beauty of the evening.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Does Marriage Require a Wedding?

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, December 11, 2006 at 11:02 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

My wife and I have a great friend, Brittany, who is getting married this coming May. She and her fiance will also soon be finishing up school at my wife's alma matter. Anyway, their soon-to-be legal union has had me thinking for the past month or so. The question at hand is, "At what point does marriage actually occur?"

Traditionally, the institution of the church has forbidden sex before marriage. What has struck me as odd this last month is that it then goes on to define marriage with the intangible notion of the "two becoming one". Such a notion is typically derived from portions of the Bible found in the book of Genesis and in the letter to the Ephesians, among other places.

That said, I do believe this notion is true and real. However, as I previously noted, such a definition is quite abstract. At what point do the two become one? Can you even select a definitive moment in time in which such an event occurs, or is it more of an ongoing process? [Let me take a minute to mention that if you define the two becoming one simply by the physical, meaning sex, then I believe you may have a grossly over-simplified perspective regarding the beauty of a marriage commitment.]

By now, you definitely see where I'm going. The institution of the church deems that "sex before marriage is a sin." However, by its own romantic notion of marriage (and I would say this is the same notion shared by the general populous), wouldn't it be impossible to say, as the result of an event (the wedding), that now you are married, ten seconds ago you were not? Does that really fit into the greater intimacy and truth of what a marriage is?

It seems to me, uncomfortable as it is to admit (because of my traditional upbringing), that the commitment of marriage and the wedding itself may actually have little to do with each other. Yeah, the "wedding" is the celebration of the commitment, but it's truly more for legalities than it is reality.

Then again, I could be totally wrong, as I have been many times before. At any rate, what do you think?

[An Afterthought: I want to make sure that no one hears me saying that we should treat sex frivolously. I believe that sex is a great physical picture of the multi-faceted union occurring between two people who Love each other and have committed to that love for the rest of their lives...among other things ;-). What I merely mean to ask in this post is how would a person/people/the church/etc determine when "marriage" has occurred, when the very notion by which we define it is, again, of an abstract understanding.]

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Do These Pics Make Up for My Absenteeism?

posted by Jeffrey on Saturday, December 09, 2006 at 10:58 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

Once again I was unable to make it to a Nashville blogger meet up. I was really hoping to make this Christmas one today, but couldn't do it. I swear I'm gonna make it to one some day. Anyway, I hope these pics keep me in good standing with my Nashville blog buds ;-). I snapped them this morning at J. Percy Priest Dam while Rick and I were trying to catch the Mars, Jupiter, & Mercury grouping this morning. (We were unsuccessful in viewing the planets, but will try again tomorrow morning.)

By the way, the official weather news said it was seventeen degrees this morning at Nashville's airport. With the wind and cooler temps coming off the water, we speculate that we stood outside for over an hour in single digits. I have never been that cold in my life!! My lips actually went so numb that I was unable to speak.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Make Starbucks Play Fair

posted by Jeffrey on Friday, December 08, 2006 at 6:57 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

This morning I found in my inbox the following email from my friend Lacey:

Each year, coffee companies make billions of dollars. Starbucks alone earned almost $5.8 billion in net revenues during the first three quarters of 2006.

Yet, for every cup of coffee Starbucks sells, poor farmers in coffee-growing countries like Ethiopia earn only about $.03.

Even worse, while Ethiopian farmers grow some of the finest name-brand coffees in the world - think Harar, Yirgacheffe, and Sidamo - they don't see the premium profits those names command among consumers.

Oxfam and a coalition of allies are asking Starbucks to sign this agreement. According to one coalition member, control of the name brands could increase Ethiopia's coffee export income by more than 25 percent - or $88 million annually. This money could go a long way to help lift millions of Ethiopians out of poverty.

So please, help us convince Starbucks to sign this agreement with Ethiopia. Poor farmers deserve a fair share of the profits.
This email came because Lace had it sent to me via MakeTradeFair.com, a site devoted to bringing about fair trade for medicines, impoverished coffee growers, and more. So if you're a big coffee drinker, like myself, go on over and sign the petition. Also check out the Fair Trade Federation to learn how screwed the growers of our beloved coffee actually get.

And just for the record if there were at least a half way decent non-franchise (or at least a local franchise) within five miles of my house, I'd abandon Starbucks altogether. However, this is currently not the case...well, actually there is one in Mt. Juliet, but it closes at 5:00 pm. :-/

Tags: , , ,

The Christmas Spirit--Why Not All Year?

posted by Jeffrey on Thursday, December 07, 2006 at 7:07 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

Last night as I was on my way to the new Starbucks in Hermitage to hang out and talk with a couple of guys, as I do most every Wednesday evening, a question popped in my head that has me perplexed still. I heard on a radio station, which one I cannot recall, a request for unwrapped gifts, which is obviously a common thing this time of year. I began to think, "why do people so generously aid their fellow man/woman this time of year, while ignoring or out right kicking them the other eleven months of the year?

I dare say that few people give this time of year out of some arbitrary sense of obligation. However, even if they do, the feeling of joy and high that remains from having given and helped someone, rather than taken from them (or ignored them altogether), quickly dispels any remnant of that begrudging motivation. Having experienced those wonderful sensations in our otherwise stagnant (unfortunately) spirits, again, what leads to our selfishness the other eleven months of the year? Did the stirring of Love hidden in the recesses of our hearts actually frighten or confuse those not used to it? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

At any rate, as I slightly start to ramble, I just think there has got to be a reason that people act so selflessly this time of year, while maintaining an "I'm gonna get mine" throughout the rest of the year.

Tags: , , , , ,

A People Without Weakness--Wait, that's Us!

posted by Jeffrey on Tuesday, December 05, 2006 at 7:29 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

Recently, I've been coming to the belief that we live in dual realms. Not one seen and the other unseen, but that we have the ability to see and be aware of both. Not to overuse the analogy I so often default to here, but I believe it is very much like the Matrix, in some ways, and very much unlike it in others. I believe that many of us live in and out of both realms while being only conscious of the one, the physical. Coincidently, I do not think that physical is synonymous with real. I think the other realm, the spiritual realm, is more real--even by definition--than the physical (do I sound too much like Morpheus here?).

At any rate, I got to thinking about the subject for the post after reading a post over at Lacey's blog, who is my best female friend, outside of my awesome and beautiful wife that is. My relatively new blog bud Kyle, whom I met through Lacey, has a post touching on this as well. Anyway, on to the freakin' topic. (Man I can ramble...)

For the past several years, at least, the institution and system of the church has been on a "spiritual gifts" kick. If you've ever "served" at a "church" then chances are great you've taken a spiritual gifts test who's purpose is to tell you in what areas you are gifted. These gifts are typically derived, like virtually everything else in the church, from the Bible and are traditionally found in two places. Now, I don't see anything wrong with discovering what areas you are "gifted in", however, I do think the nomenclature of such is faulty.

For example, anyone who would seek to discover their "spiritual gifts", as they exist in the Bible, would agree that Jesus the Christ possessed all of them in equal measure. He was, after all, the full man, second Adam, etc. So here's the question, if Jesus exuded all of the "spiritual gifts" (and by very nature, he must), and it is the life of Christ (not our own) that lives through and as us [Galatians 2:20, Colossians 1:27, Colossians 3:4, etc], then how could we be gifted in one or two areas and not the others?

The apostle Paul even writes to Timothy to inform him that he already has everything he needs for life and godliness through the one who called him by his own glory and goodness [Jesus]. So perhaps we need not figure out "where we're gifted", for that affords us an excuse in a great many circumstance, but rather to discover in what ways the life of Christ is being revealed through us at that particular juncture in time--while realizing it may (and should be) different at some point in the future.

Back to the excuses. If we are able to take a test and hence claim, "I'm a prophet [i.e. tell it like it is, see things black & white, etc]...", then that gives us an excuse to NOT exercise grace in our dealings with people (that one, by the way, is unfortunately from personal experience :-/ ). Another example might be to close the doors of our home to someone who needs a place to stay because we "don't have the gift of hospitality". What a crock of crap that would be. If Christ is everything, and his life is ours, then we will take on all (not just the one or two) of the facets of his nature over time. So if you go about taking "spiritual gifts tests", I hope you're able to see that it is merely an indicator of how you are being transformed into the image of Christ in the now and the physical. [Perhaps one's passions and "gifts" are actually quite unrelated. Hmm, that's another post for another day. I'll have to think on that one. Sorry, stream of consciousness there...]

So you, yeah you, did you know that in the real reality you are without weakness, have everything you need for life and godliness, contain within yourself perfect love and the life of Christ, and are [gasp] perfect? I wonder what would happen if we all lived our lives in the constant awareness of that reality...

Tags: , , , , , ,

Living Vicariously Through Papyrus

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, December 04, 2006 at 7:24 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

What would life be like if all the books, paper, texts, and digital records on this planet suddenly dissolved, leaving no written record of...well, anything? Do you suppose we'd find that humans actually live in, or at least through, the past? I wonder.

I think it is safe to say that the majority of religions in this world are systems based on some ancient text[s]. Perhaps one of the best things that could happen for "religion", or rather the people that adhere to those religious codes, would be for this record dissipation phenomenon to actually occur. But why? Because even a religion like Christianity that involves a "personal relationship" with God, is actually so dependant on a text, the Bible, that no personal relationship actually occurs...in many cases. This is called Bibliolatry and is, as the word would describe, the worship of the Bible.

So what? Who cares if someone worships the Bible? It matters because God desperately longs for humans to come to the awareness of his perfect Love within and all around them. The Bible, or rather most "Christians'" dependant on it, is a great barrier to that awareness occuring. Search your spirit and you will find that, in fact, we end up living vicariously through the Biblical characters' relationships with God, rather than having an intimate one of our own. I suppose it was about a year ago that God led me into a desire to discover my own relationship with him, not built on the premises and experiences of someone else or a Biblical character.

Disclaimer. I'm not saying let's just all go pile our Bibles outside and burn them, because the Bible as an inanimate object (and IT IS inanimate) has no bias. It is, again, people's unhealthy dependance on it that causes the problem. So I do not invite you to kick your Bible to the curb, (though that may help for a while), but to kick sola Scriptura to the curb and discover the voice and the Love of God in nature, other people, and yourself--through your spirit and not a book. If you are a Bible reader, you already believe that God spoke to the people who "wrote" the Bible in a way that didn't involve a text (because there was no text), so why couldn't he speak to you in the same way?

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Rescuing Beached Doritos

posted by Jeffrey on Friday, December 01, 2006 at 9:55 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

I couldn't resist giving props to one of my favorite green blogs, Tree Hugger, with this post over there today.

I don't know about you, but I long for those good ole' Doritos Harvesting days of yore. Mmmm.

As TreeHugger's post points out, not all things that get spilled into our oceans can be as tasty as Doritos or as cute as rubber duckies. It's true, innumerable spills and accidents occur on the high seas every year, dumping pollutants and toxins into our planet's oceans, but as most of these occur in international waters, insurance companies pay and no one cares...

Tags: , , , , , , ,