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September 24, 2012

Snubbed Again: Who Are You Reading?

By David A. Zimmerman

Last night was the Emmys, and this year might be thought of alternately as "The Year of Homeland and Modern Family" or, more cynically, "The Year of the Snub." Perennial favorites such as Jon Hamm, Bryan Cranston and Parks & Recreation went home empty-handed in their respective categories. (Parks & Rec wasn't even nominated for best comedy, which may be part of a communist plot; no disrespect to Modern Family and the other nominees, but Give. Me. A. Break.)

Speaking of snubs, once again Strangely Dim (not to mention my personal blog, Loud Time) was left off the list of the "Top 200 Church Blogs." This annual list showcases "today's most influential church leaders, journalists, theologians, and Christ followers," based on traffic, page ranks, subscriptions and other indicators. The compilers of the list obviously didn't ask my mom which "church blogs" she reads religiously.

I'm not bitter, really I'm not. I do find myself wondering, though, what blogs didn't make the list that should. Ed Stetzer makes three quick observations about the list: (1) the dominance of Calvinist perspectives; (2) the decline of emergence perspectives; and (3) the absence of women's perspectives. I might dispute (2) a bit--I see a decent showing of people on the list who lean Emergent, especially given Stetzer's observation (1)--but the dominance of Calvinists and the dearth of women are hard to argue.

ct women to watch.jpg

Stetzer's observation about women bloggers comes almost simultaneously to Christianity Today's cover issue on "Women to Watch." Ironic, isn't it, that we are being advised to watch these women, but precious few of us are actually reading them.

Here at IVP we're doing our part to close the gap between watching and reading women. In the spring, we're launching a line of books that showcases women authors. More to come on that, believe me. But in the meantime, we're always on the lookout for interesting people with interesting perspectives, and while we want to elevate the voices of leading women, we are also happy to hear from men with something important to say. So here's your chance: Who are you reading, and why should we be reading them too?

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 3:19 PM | Comments (1) are closed

January 18, 2011

Quiet!

You may or may not be aware of this, but InterVarsity Press is about as geeked out as an organization can get over Bible study. Our very first homegrown book, back in 1947, was Discovering the Gospel of Mark by Jane Hollingsworth, and we've pretty much never stopped. Our commitment to being rooted in the Scriptures gets expressed in overt ways, as we publish commentaries like The Gospel of John (Resonate), and in subtler ways as we publish books for personal reflection and group discussion like The Story of God, the Story of Us. The Bible problematizes everyday living and cultural issues in books like Unsqueezed; it orients stories of spiritual growth and turbulence in books like Pilgrimage of a Soul; it catalyzes social change in books like Living Mission and How to Inherit the Earth. We even did two fortnights of reflections on donkeys in the Bible right here at Strangely Dim. So yeah, we like the Bible here.

We like it so much that we continue to publish new Bible studies, on topics and characters and biblical books, every year, as part of our LifeGuide line and in other forms as part of our IVP Connect imprint. And as if that weren't enough, we like Bible study so much that we give one away every day for free. A new Lifeguide study is posted daily at our Quiet Time Bible Study page; it gets you into a passage from Scripture and, if I may be cliche for a moment, it gets that passage from Scripture into you.

So, if you've got a little time to kill and you feel like doing some soul searching and some Bible reading, find a quiet place and give yourself a little "quiet time"--a quaint little term meaning "time alone with God," most often occupied with prayer, meditation and (you guessed it) Bible study. Before you know it, you'll be as geeked out about it as we are. And I'm pretty sure, if I may be presumptuous for a moment, that being as geeked out as we are was your new year's resolution.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 8:03 AM

December 7, 2010

Required Reading

I just got a digital copy of the new book Besides the Bible: 100 Books That Have, Should or Will Create Christian Culture, edited by three of the architects of Burnside Writers Collective--Dan Gibson, Jordan Green and John Pattison. You might think of it as a shopping list for Christmas; the featured titles range from classic to very new and widely recognized to practically invisible (full disclosure: I wrote a review of nature's most nearly perfect book, Forgetting Ourselves on Purpose), so I think it's a safe bet that there's something for everyone in there--even, for your friendly atheist friends, a profile of three recent books challenging the historical and moral legitimacy of Christianity.

Four books published by InterVarsity Press made the list. Dan Gibson did the write-up of three of them, and John Pattison wrote the fourth, so I'm afraid Jordan Green will be getting a lump of coal from IVP this year. In what I think is chronological order, here are the picks from IVP:

Congratulations to these four contemporary classics!

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 11:05 AM | Comments (1) are closed

April 14, 2010

Likewise Is Three--and a Half!

This may be news to you, but Strangely Dim is the semi-official blog of Likewise Books, a line of books from InterVarsity Press. And Likewise books just turned three--and a half!

In our short life (thirty-two new books since the line's launch) we've managed to make our mark in a number of ways. Among many other things,

Our favorite thing about the line, however, has been the relationships it's generated--those of us who work here with those who are writing books for us, our authors with one another, our authors and their readers, even their critics, and even us and our readers. Speaking of which, if you're not in touch with us on a regular basis, please consider this your invitation: join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter, the Likewise Notebook. (One of our friends in South Africa recently told us "I read every word! I always find them informative and humorous." You might too; you might even win a book every now and then.)

Our agenda from the beginning has been, in response to the constantly changing culture we inhabit but inspired by the biblical vision of a better world, to be a different kind of publishing program--to be not only for but with our readers, and together to be different and make a difference. So far, we think, so good; here's to keeping it going for the next leg of the journey!

 

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 9:58 AM | Comments (1) are closed

April 3, 2009

Slow Trips & Sudden Urges

We were recently put in contact with Kady Bram, a senior at Northwestern College who's about to complete her degrees in religion and writing & rhetoric. We discussed the practicalities and challenges of a "virtual internship," and decided it would be fun to experiment. So here's the first of a handful of guest posts from Kady, part of the "Likewise Generation," if we might coin a phrase and exploit an entire demographic.

Kady loves reading, writing and snuggling with a slobbery bulldog named Ellie. Be sure to post a comment and tell her hi.

***

Sometimes I get an immediate urge to write something down--a sentence, a description, perhaps even a single word that suddenly supersedes everything else I could or should be doing. Then, as soon as my pencil touches paper, one of two things happens: either I am overcome by a fast and persistent splashing of words that my fingers quickly splatter onto the page; or, as mysteriously as it began, the clarity gurgles away and I am left to stare at the few sad words I've left to drown on my blank sheet of paper.

I suppose you might compare these sudden urges (what those in creative circles call a visiting "muse") to those sudden stomach pains that send their victim rushing off to the bathroom for one of two, umm, outcomes. Such is my muse: it's as if I don't know I have to write until I have to write right now.

When the timing is just right and I'm in the right position to let the muse flow freely, the result can be distractingly wonderful: a mess of words from my mind gets put to rights at my fingertips. However, assigned writing is usually a different story: projects with pressing deadlines are rarely relieved by my spontaneous internal process. Sure, I might occasionally find myself aware of the perfect metaphor, say, to describe my one-armed, saggy dorm-room couch, but that in no way helps me to write the ten-page book review that's due next week.

The majority of my writing is slow, painstaking. A lot of my time these last four years of college has been spent in writing and revising . . . and then revising again. You might call it a honing craft, but I liken it to a horse-drawn buggy that plods along the side of the road: it may be passed by all number of vehicles, but it always, eventually, fortunately, gets where it needs to go. And slow drives can in themselves be inspiring--even create spaces where the trickle of a resistant epiphany can slowly begin to flow.

Despite their obvious distinctions, the slow drive and the sudden urge have one important thing in common. I know that wherever I may be--whether in the pinch of a deadline or in the throes of an ecstatic moment of clarity--I am always with the best of company.

Do not fear; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

It is wonderful for me to be reminded that my moments of inspiration are not the only times that God's gifts to me should be evident. I credit him with those moments when I feel no other purpose than to write what has been placed on my heart; but I can also recognize and appreciate him in all the other times that I sit down to write and get stuck. I know I have been blessed with a love for and ability to communicate through the written word. I also know that such abilities are cultivated over time, and therefore, they require patience, which is itself one of God's beautiful gifts. So I'm up for the long, slow drive--with the occasional pit stop--and I look forward to seeing what God has in store for the rest of our ride.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 8:28 AM

January 22, 2009

The Jacket on the Girl in the Orange Dress

You can't judge a book by its cover, but sometimes you can judge the cover. The forthcoming book The Girl in the Orange Dress needed a jacket design appropriate to both its contents and its audience. We found ourselves with two great cover options, so we asked you to vote. You can read the full details here.

While the contest was heated, with four hundred people voting and contacting us to elaborate on their vote, ultimately one cover clearly dominated. So feast your eyes on the winning cover here; in a few months you'll be able to feast your eyes on the whole book.

By the way, we haven't forgotten that we promised a free copy of the book to five random responders. The winners will be announced in a forthcoming Likewise Notebook, an occasional e-mailed update on the goings and doings of Likewise Books by InterVarsity Press, and at the Likewise Facebook group. Good luck! May the orange dress be with you. 

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 1:50 PM | Comments (3) are closed

November 25, 2008

Good News for Short Attention Spans

Pity the poor seminarian, forced to articulate the totality of Christianity in a carefully worded, highly scrutinized document. I occasionally go to a regional meeting for my denomination where candidates for ordination have to stand there while a room full of people read their faith statements and then saunter up to a central microphone to tell them what's wrong with it. The lines of each faith statement are numbered for the convenience of reading and, more important, confronting: "I think it's wonderful that on line seven you speak so movingly of the love of God, but can you help me understand how, on line eight, you contend that this loving God willfully punishes people eternally for something so minor as failing to believe in his Son?" This litany of back-handed compliments and theological posturing is sufferable only because it's so perfunctory; I've yet to attend such a meeting where the doctrinal hazing wasn't followed immediately by unanimous approval of ordination.

The statement of faith is, some might say, an artifact of modernity. They're inheritors of the creedal tradition, when communities of faith would gather and come to consensus about what God had revealed about himself, his creation and his purposes. Such creeds would then be returned to the faith communities, where they would be declared in unison as part of the service. I grew up reciting the Nicene Creed week after week after week, and never once did someone saunter up to a microphone and argue for or against including a comma in line four.

But statements of faith have served as much to distinguish communities of faith as to unite them. They're invitations to an argument, a shot across the bow of other denominations or organizations to confront perceived slippage in the integrity of the Christian faith. They get longer and longer, with more and more numbers for ease of reading and, more important, for ease of shredding. And they're required for seminary graduation, the theological equivalent of requiring someone to stand on a firing range wearing a T-shirt with a bull's-eye on it.

One countertrend to such carefully crafted documents as the statement of faith is Twitter, a forum for communicating random information in 140 characters or less. A few theologians in the Presbymergent community, most notably Adam Walker Cleaveland and Shawn Coons, have taken up the challenge of twittering their faith: stating clearly and concisely how they perceive the heart of Christianity. You can check out the growing pool of entries here.

I like the idea of twittering your faith; it's not only a good challenge to say what you believe in as few words possible, it's a good exercise to do so and then get on with your day, which presumably is an outworking of what you've just twittered. And even beyond that, to declare your faith in a forum that is necessarily ephemeral--each Twitter entry will soon enough be replaced by the next, potentially something as mundane as "stuck in traffic"--is to acknowledge that we are finite and incomplete, that we're still growing in our appreciation of a faith that precedes us by millennia and will extend far beyond us, even to the end of the age.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 9:36 AM

October 27, 2008

Brian McLaren's Gonna DJ at the End of the World

I heard Brian McLaren present at the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) annual conference last week, where he led a roomful of people in a chanted prayer for justice after sharing the lyrics to Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock" as a pattern for Christian justice work. Or something like that; I was a bit sleep-deprived. The lyrics to that song, however, are pretty great: as Steve Turner indicates in his book Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts, the biblical image of weapons of war being refashioned into "plowshares and pruning hooks" is given a contemporary translation of bombers becoming butterflies. Sure, the hippies had a thing for butterflies, but it's an image worth praying for regardless.

Today Brian listed some other songs for a redemptive playlist on his blog, among them a video from his newly released worship album, two songs by Ben Harper ("With My Own Two Hands" and "Picture of Jesus"), and John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change." A few more songs and Brian will replace Michael Stipe as my choice for "DJ at the End of the World."

Brian's song choices have particular meaning to me; "With My Own Two Hands" was regularly on repeat as I wrote my first book, Comic Book Character, as it sets the tone for a gutsy, shalom-directed activism that resonates with my own desire to be some kind of hero. Harper re-recorded this reggae anthem as a lullaby for the Curious George soundtrack, which would inspire wonderful childhood dreams, I'd imagine. At his workshop at CCDA, Brian employed similar language: our aim is not to be villains or victims but to align ourselves with our Hero--sidekicks of the Savior, as I like to think of it.

"Picture of Jesus" was the song I listened to at the 2003 Urbana Student Missions Conference as the clock passed from 11:59 p.m., December 31, to 12:00 a.m., 2004. Harper has recorded that song twice: once with Ladysmith Black Mambazo (my Urbana version) and once with the Blind Boys of Alabama, the CD for which I have since lost. In any event, the lyric "I long to be a picture of Jesus" was a good, peaceful way to ring in the new year in solitude, and not a bad New Year's resolution either.

"Waiting on the World to Change" was a good organizing idea for me as I wrote Deliver Us from Me-Ville, as it represents an anthem of sorts for Generation Me. I blogged about it here at the time of its release; and Brian's post made me nostalgic for the post. I reprint it here for your amusement.

***

Everybody Needs a Theme Song

I'm not ashamed to admit it: I'm a fan of John Mayer. Sure he's a pretty-boy, sure he dated Jessica Simpson, sure he's on shuffle on my thirteen-year-old cousin's iPod and on the wall in her room, sure he's a little smug and self-important. But I'm a fan, for a number of reasons.

For one thing, when he was a kid he liked to dress up as a superhero, and you have to respect that. For another thing, he plays guitar like he invented it. But more than those reasons is the fact that he dares to speak for an entire generation of people. That takes moxie, and I respect moxie.

He's written about the bitter nostalgia of life after high school, the social awkwardness of relationships, the wonders of sexual intimacy, the perils of vocational uncertainty and the quarter-life crisis. He's a living, breathing discography of early-adult ennui. And now he's written what I hereby nominate as the theme song of Generation Me: "Waiting on the World to Change."

Generation Me, characterized by author and psychologist Jean Twenge as adult survivors of the self-esteem movement, is known for confidence that borders on arrogance and self-importance that borders on narcissism, but also for a profoundly fragile self-image and a low threshold for depression. Twenge argues that where twenty-somethings in the late 1960s were characterized by statements such as "I can change the world!" Generation Me is characterized by statements such as "You can't beat the system."

You could spend forever exploring the origins of this pandemic of fatalism among people born after 1970, but thanks to John Mayer, you don't have to look far to see its impact. In "Waiting on the World to Change" he asserts that "me and all my friends, we're all misunderstood." He doesn't try to overcome the misunderstanding, he just embraces the reality. You can't beat the system. You have to play the hand you're dealt. Fill in your own cliche here.

The self-esteem movement shows its influence as Mayer claims a critical omniscience--"We see everything that's going wrong"--but he then confesses an inability to address the problems: "We just feel like we don't have the means to rise above and beat it." You could understand why a person who sees all the bad in the world and yet feels powerless in the face of it would struggle with depression. And why does Generation Me feel powerless to change their world? Because someone else pulls all the strings: "When they own the information, they can bend it all they want." You can't trust what you know because you can't trust the people who put it in your head.

Mayer and his fellow twenty-somethings are often derided as hopelessly apathetic, which is a pretty hopeless and apathetic thing to say about a group of people, if you think about it. In reality, apathy is an understandable response to hopelessness; a defense mechanism, so to speak. Here's the lyric that jumped out at me more than anything in the song, maybe because it's such a clever rhyme, maybe because it betrays just a hint of attitude by using the word ain't: "It's not that we don't care, we just know that the fight ain't fair."

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the world we inhabit: a chronic sense of helplessness in the face of an unrelenting onslaught of big problems, combined with an ingrained suspicion of authority born out of scandal after scandal across the spectrum of life experience. Our government and industry leaders, our local and international authorities, our priests and pastors, our parents and teachers, our friends and neighbors, have all fallen short of the glory of God--and we see the impact on ourselves and everything around us. It's all too much.

Nevertheless, Mayer is able to muster up some meager hope, and that hope may just be enough to tide him and his friends over: "One day our generation is gonna rule the population, so we keep on waiting on the world to change." There's plenty of circumspection that needs to take place between now and then--particularly that what we are thinking about everybody else, they are thinking about us--but in the meantime let me share words of encouragement from another cynical yet insightful songwriter, Tom Petty: "You're all right for now."

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 9:53 AM | Comments (2) are closed

May 22, 2008

Fun with Misplaced Modifiers, or, Even Monkeys Need Editors

I was recently made aware of a clever blog by Rachel Held Wilson, "Evolving in Monkey Town," about the challenges of practicing faith in a postmodern era and a fundamentalist context. Or something like that. The author writes from Dayton, Tennessee, home of the Scopes Monkey Trial, which bolstered the theory of evolution as a staple of public education and played a significant role in the launch of the fundamentalist movement in the United States. The city has memorialized its moment in the spotlight with a plaque:

Here, from July 10 to 21, 1925 John Thomas Scopes, a County High School teacher, was tried for teaching that a man descended from a lower order of animals in violation of a lately passed state law.

So, here's where I reveal my inherent nerdiness and bore you with an English lesson: This sentence as constructed implies that the man who "descended from a lower order of animals"--not the high school teacher--was "in violation of a lately passed state law." So be warned, ambitious lower primates: if you're going to evolve, don't do it in Dayton. And to the school district let me offer the following advice: worry less about biology and more about grammar. (Of course, I'm biased.) For the rest of you, feel free to suggest an alternate sentence construction for the revised plaque or to chastise me for my nerdiness or lack of graciousness.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 1:20 PM

September 5, 2007

Facebook Fever

Likewise Books has Facebook fever. Ever since Facebook--the social networking utility that has linked college students online for years--opened itself to noncollege students, growing numbers of InterVarsity Press employees and Likewise authors have opened accounts and are keeping tabs on one another there.

One of Facebook's standard features is an online poll, updated daily and limited to one thousand responders. I must say some of the polling questions are among the lamest I've encountered online: my favorite so far is "Do you have good taste in music?" But some of them offer interesting insights into what goes on in the Facebooking mind.

Today's poll is "Is the glass half-empty or half-full?" Fully 76 percent of the respondents are, apparently, optimists. (Don't ask me why, because I'm decidedly among the minority. As my beloved daddy regularly reminds me, "An optimist can never be pleasantly surprised.")

There's no negligible difference in outlook between men and women; women may be slightly more optimistic than men, or they may be slightly more inclined to respond to online polls--who can say? The least optimistic age group--only 74 percent of them--are ages 18 to 24, probably because they're just now back in school, trudging into 8 a.m. astronomy class after a summer of sleeping till noon.

The other polling question that caught my eye earlier this summer was the simple, even simplistic, "Are you religious?" The consensus was "No" by a similar margin: 70 percent over 30 percent. I can't decide if I'm surprised by these results or not. I'm also not sure how to interpret them, especially taken together: if three-fourths of the Facebook community are irreligious and generally upbeat, what do you suppose they want to talk about? What do you suppose they want to read about?

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 12:07 PM | Comments (2) are closed

August 16, 2006

Best Imitation of Myself

This morning I hopped into my car, put the key in the ignition, started my car and switched my radio on just in time to hear my name on Lin's Bin.

Lin Brehmer, morning DJ of the best radio station in the world, responds to listener questions with an audio essay supplemented by bits of popular music and film and television sound bites. Lately I've been sleeping late and missing the broadcast. Today, though, I got there in time, to hear him declare, "Today's question comes to us from Dave Zimmerman in Downers Grove."

Technically I don't live in Downers Grove, I haven't been alerted by WXRT that Lin would be using my question, and I don't remember submitting the question. But it sounds like the kind of question I might ask.

I've encountered other Dave Zimmermans in the area before: when I was married, my wife's checking account was joined to some other, far more wealthy me; and I refer to myself as Dave Z 2 at checkups so that my dentist doesn't give me someone else's root canal. But really, what are the chances that this guy and I would have the same bank, the same dentist, the same taste in music, the same fondness for Lin's Bin, and the same burning question for the ages? Somewhere out there is my doppelganger, living my vida loca.

The question, incidentally, was fittingly ironic: "How do you explain serendipity?"

As of this morning, the broadcast wasn't available yet as a podcast, but you can find the archives here.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 8:08 AM

August 15, 2006

When Soul Meets Student Body

InterVarsity has launched a new website for students. I've been itching for it for some time now, even though I'm not technically a student. Call me biased, but nobody integrates the thought life and the life of faith quite like InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Check out Student Soul to get a feel for what's on the minds of college students, which is what will be on the minds of everybody else come graduation day.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 7:41 AM

June 28, 2006

Too Pretty to Drink

Rick over at Mmmm, That's Good Coffee has posted a cool YouTube video. If you only like coffee right now, you'll love it by the time Rick is finished with you.

Come back when you're finished and tell me what's the deal with YouTube. Where are all these videos coming from? Beyond the individual merits, what's the appeal of these homespun art films? Most of the ones I've seen remind me of the film American Beauty, in which a kid captures ephemera on film and takes consolation in it. Some of them, unfortunately, remind me of the TV show America's Funniest Home Videos, in which people do stupid stuff and other people film it.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 11:23 AM | Comments (3) are closed

March 29, 2006

Favorites & Other Ephemera

Because I'm lazy, and because one of my commenters raised such an insightful question, I thought I'd use said question as a springboard for another Strangely Dim entry. Read on and comment often.

2e writes:

So, I'd be lying to say I didn't add this blog to my favorites. But I guess I'm confused: is it more of an insult, now, to add you to my favorites or not to?

Excellent point, 2e! I think I'd say that adding a site to your favorites is always complimentary but often ephemeral. Maybe it's because so much web-surfing is whimsical to begin with; you're likely to find Strangely Dim, for example, only after stumbling onto the InterVarsity Press website. Maybe I need to ask a new question, one I now recall I originally heard from Margaret Feinberg:

What websites are must-see for you, that you'd return to regularly. And to build on that question: what makes these sites so consistently compelling?

I'll accept family tree sites, your weblog, whatever you can subsequently explain your compulsion for. I'll even allow posts about internet gambling as long as you're not just some lame spammer and as long as you're willing to tell the world (or the five of us) that you have a gambling addiction--in which case, if you send me a dollar there's a chance I might send you two dollars back.

Hey, it's worth a shot.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 2:05 PM | Comments (1) are closed

March 16, 2006

To Favorites or Not to Favorites?

Today at lunch I decided to visit all my favorites--not my favorite coworkers, in case you're reading this and wondering why you were left out, but rather the web pages I've assigned to my "favorites" folder. The problem is, most of these "favorites" I'm largely ambivalent about, and some I haven't visited in more than a year.

It's just so easy to assign the term favorite to whatever tickles your fancy at any given moment. You click on "favorites," then--just in case you forgot how you felt about this particular page--you click on "add to favorites." I have subcategories of favorites--favorite blogs, favorite music sites, favorite research pages, favorite online magazines, and so on and so on. I can go to any of my favorites at virtually any time, virtually without any effort. One click and I'm there. Still, I treat my favorites like I treat my cousins, which is best described as "unfavorably."

It's nothing personal. I like my cousins quite a lot, and something about these pages got me sufficiently effusive about them that I was willing to declare them highly favored in the first place. But online relationships, like any relationships really, are notoriously difficult to maintain. (See the run of comments to "The Vanishing Breed of the Attendant" at Loud Time for insights into that one.)

My fickle favoritism leaves my computer looking something like a coffee table or end table, cluttered with books, magazines and Bibles that seem important for me to have within arm's reach but which only infrequently come off the table and into more direct contact with my brain. I want to be the guy who has read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and Paul's Idea of Community and the like. I want to be the guy who is in the thick of the Emergent conversation. I want to be the smart guy, the edgy guy, the go-to guy. I suppose I want to be the favorite. But all too often the spirit is willing to declare something important, favorite, but the flesh is too weak to follow through.

So today I deleted a blog from my favorites--a site maintained by a well-known author I've never read. She's no longer my faux-favorite. I'll probably forget all about it, though, and add her back in the next time I surf by. It's so easy that it'd be impolite not to.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 12:36 PM | Comments (5) are closed

February 1, 2006

All About the Bunnies

I keep running into rabbits. Not literally--relax!--but in the last few days I've seen bunnies on the road, at a friend's house and on the Internet. They're cute and oh so cuddly, even though they eat everything I plant. Last summer a rabbit had nested in my dirt garden, and when the baby bunnies were born they were oh so cute that all the neighbor kids came over to see. Rabbits are intriguing; on a good day, rabbits are darn near wondrous.

Such is the case with the link that follows, where wonderful rabbits tell a wonderful story about a wonderful life--all in thirty seconds. Enjoy.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 4:11 PM

September 22, 2005

Spam of the Year Recap

I opened my e-mail today to discover I had 140 new messages, 100 of which were posts to Strangely Dim, all of which were posts to "Spam of the Year," all of which were, not surprisingly, spam.

One of those 140 messages, however, was from new friend and sequential art guru George Macas, directing me to a clever web page that I hope you'll enjoy. In the meantime, I have lots of spam to purge.

Click here to see the Smile-Pop Soapbox.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 8:33 AM | Comments (2) are closed

August 25, 2005

And Now, a Word from Our Klingon Friends

I thought I was done posting for the day, but I am compelled to share this blog if for no one else, then for my dad. Passages from the Klingon Bible with commentary from somebody apparently well-versed in Klingon and biblical Hebrew. He or she offers a podcast as well, and there are plenty of Klingon-language links if you like that sort of thing. File under "I thought I'd seen everything."

http://klingonword.blogspot.com/

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 9:51 AM

July 25, 2005

Name That Index!

All right, time to play the nation's least popular summer time activity:

Name That Index!!!

The following entry is from the index to a forthcoming book from InterVarsity Press. Click HERE to review our list of forthcoming titles, then post your guess to Strangely Dim. The winner gets nothing--which may be part of the reason this game is so unpopular.

And the entry is . . . "Old School Presbyterians, America"

And the forthcoming book is . . . ?

Godspeed.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 8:32 AM | Comments (9) are closed

April 18, 2005

Out of My Head and into My Body

I know this sounds crazy, but I've just become a regular contributor to a sports ministry website.

I've never been one for sports, but when I moved to the Chicago area I fell into a crowd of sports-guys. I figured I'd better do what they asked, since any one of them could crush my head like a blueberry, so I started going to football games and even playing the occasional round of golf.

It's still not me, but along the way I've developed a new appreciation for athletes. They were all really nice to me, for one thing. Not one of them threated to turn my head into jelly, and not even once have I been the subject of a pile-on tackle. But I've also learned by experience some stuff that I should have embraced as a kid.

First off, the body is good. God made us each with one. Exercising our body is as important an expression of our humanness, therefore, as exercising our mind or our soul.

Second, sport binds a community together. Ask your friends, and eventually you'll wander into stories centered around a Super Bowl or a World Cup or simply a round of golf or a day of fishing.

So now, I write for sportsoutreachusa.com, an organization that helps churches reach out into their neighborhoods and build community through sports. I even try to raise funds for them by golfing for twelve hours (which works out to about one hole for me). Shoot me an e-mail if you'd be interested in sponsoring this exercise in futility next week.

Shameless plug, I know, but that's how the game works. If you'd like to read my inaugural sports mini-essay (I may have just coined a phrase), visit www.sportsoutreachusa.com and click on "In the Field Training." I'm currently the last article on the list, which is as it should be, I think.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 8:25 AM

March 4, 2005

Talk About Existential

Someone sent me a link to an online mosquito-swatting game. Forgive me for passing it along to you. Fair warning: once you start playing you'll find it impossible to stop. The game never ends, for one things, and you'll be hypnotized by the activity.

http://www.shockhaber.com/zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.htm

Enjoy, I suppose.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 12:37 PM

February 9, 2005

Links I Like To Link To

I have a few favorite places to go online. Some of them have come to me through readers of Strangely Dim; others have just googled their way into my life. Some are blogs managed by interesting folks whose inner workings are worth looking into; others are group efforts or anonymous offerings for fun or profit. Some are all of the above.

Feel free to recommend additions to this list. It's long overdue.

www.sacredgateway.org
Ten minutes a day is no skin off your nose, trust me. This collaboration by a youth minister in Kansas and a group of Jesuits in Ireland allows me to settle, reflect and open myself to God. Not bad for ten minutes.

www.thehungersite.com
Give food to the hungry without ever leaving your computer or paying one red cent. Just about the best thing a consumer economy has ever done.

www.bustedhalo.com
One of my favorite websites ever. Operated by the Paulists, this site features young writers and activists and artists working out their faith in real time. Featuring the Trivia Inferno.

http://deadlysins.com
A tongue-in-cheek but very informative survey of the seven deadly sins of classical Christian tradition.

www.practicingourfaith.org
The online version of one of the most valuable books on spiritual practices I've ever read.

www.ChristianComicBooks.net
A clearing house for the latest offerings from the Christian comics community.

www.homestarrunner.com
What sock puppets look like online. Ridiculous.

www.mcgees.org/notb.html
Mad at your boss? Your professor just rejected your test because you used a number 3 pencil? Get revenge without hurting yourself or anyone else. "The Number of the Beast" finds the most efficient pathway to proof that the Antichrist is whomever you designate it to be. For example, my book Comic Book Character may well be the Antichrist: "Add the tile values of the letters from the board game Scrabble(R), add them together, multiply by 18, and you get 666."

Lin's Bin online archives
My favorite program on my favorite radio station. Morning DJ Lin Brehmer answers listener questions with wit and insight. I take credit for the archives being online; I begged and begged for a copy of his response to my own question, and a few weeks later the archives appeared--minus my question. Rats.

http://ramblingadventures.blogspot.com
Rick (from Cayce) is a thoughtful guy, and his thoughts are winsomely written on this blog.

www.despair.com
For the Gen-Xer in all of us. Featuring the Pessimist's Mug "The glass is half-empty. Deal with it." These folks slay me.

www.ivpress.com/zimmer-man
Shameless self-promotion, or brilliant marketing strategy? Hmmm . . .

More to come.

David A. Zimmerman

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 10:27 AM | Comments (7) are closed | TrackBack (0)

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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