When I need a photo or video these days, I grab my iPhone, not my DSLR. Some of that is probably laziness, but it is more than just that. The iPhone produces a really good pictures — at times, significantly better pictures, than my more traditional camera. I wanted to take that excellent picture maker and make it more suitable for accessories without buying some sort of proprietary case and accessory system for my phone that is clunky to fool with. Here’s what I did.
As regular readers know, I spend my days as a pastor. The last couple of years have been a unique time to be in ministry and, doubly so, as I found myself “planting” (starting) a new church in the midst of it.
It was 2016, just after Amazon’s Prime Day, and I pulled a black cylinder out of a box: an Amazon Echo, my first smart speaker. Adding in a few Philips Hue bulbs, I got my first taste of the smart home and it felt amazing, like something out of Star Trek. I don’t know that I’d call it amazing any longer.
I sit here thinking about how things aren’t going right. Plans I’ve made, how I’m feeling — stuff isn’t how I want it to be. Ironically, even plans I’ve made as a pastor for Holy Week aren’t how I had hoped. I get wrapped up in all of that and then I have to return to the central truth of Holy Week: it happened because we human beings have broken the world. That things aren’t how they are supposed to be is precisely the point.
When the pandemic first hit, we quickly watched various staples become hard to purchase, including — as plenty of memes gleefully remind us — toilet paper. Though less attention grabbing, meat, milk and other essentials also became harder to find and that pushed me to rediscover an old friend: Aldi.
It happens every March — I am exhausted and it is still light outside. Yes, yes, it is the week of Daylight Savings Time and the effect of the switch is wearing on me and, I suspect, also on you. This is probably not the time to argue against the Sunshine Protection Act, Sen. Marco Rubio’s proposal to eliminate the time change, but here I am.
As Vladimir Putin continues his best attempt to impersonate a schoolyard bully albeit with unimaginably horrible weapons at his disposal, the reason for staying back and watching is clear enough. Clear, but wrong. The time has come: we cannot be spectators or a mere supply chain: we must use the weight of NATO to stop by force the humanitarian disaster that is Russia’s unnecessary war.
It’s 3 a.m. and I’m on Twitter impatiently refreshing, looking for news from Ukraine. I check over on Ukrainian President Zelensky’s account, too, looking for signs he’s still alive and Russia hasn’t managed to find him yet. Probably a lot of you reading this are doing the same. Death looms large this Ash Wednesday, situated amidst the first global-level conflict of the Internet era.
Joe Manchin and Krystin Sinema are due a heap of gratitude by all of us. Personally, I prefer a government that is stable and seeks to represent the whole of the country and not a specific subset and it is those two, and not figures I’d probably have been more inclined to elect, that are holding to the esoteric parliamentary rule — the filibuster — that offers us such stability.
During Advent, we all excitedly look towards celebrating Jesus’s birth. However, suddenly it is December 26 and the world resets to its ordinary preoccupations. That’s what is wonderful about observing the Twelve Days of Christmas: it helps us keep reflecting on God’s grace and the miracle of Christmas after the busyness of Christmas Day is past. Tim Butler has prepared a free devotional booklet for these next twelve days.