Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Snake, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I went for a hike yesterday after bouldering with my new friend Jeremiah. As we were leaving a trail near Morgantown at Cooper's Rock, I came upon this little guy. He is probably 2-3 feet long, and I jumped over him as I was leaving one of my favorite trails.

What is with the snakes lately? I stepped on a garter snake on my way to class last fall. I also ran into a cane break rattlesnake with my dad last fall. (beautiful snake, by the way)

This snake--I have no idea what it is. My first thought was a copperhead, but after studying some photo's of copperheads, it doesn't seem very likely. I am thinking that it is a northern brown snake, but I am not sure. If you have any ideas, feel free to post 'em.

In the meantime, if you are in the woods, don't be dumb like me and walk around in sandals--boots are a safe bet. And keep your eyes peeled for snakes--they are definitely out there!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Culps

The Culps, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
The wait is over. After a long period of dating, my good friends Nic and Tara have finally tied the knot. It has been awesome walking through the journey with them from attraction, to courtship, to engagement, and finally to marriage.

I'm going to miss this couple. Nic has been my roommate for the last two years, and he and tara have both served as officers in our student organization here in Morgantown for a long time.

I'm so happy to be able to rejoice with them. I was even able to have the privilege of officiating the ceremony with the two of them. What a great place to be, and look how happy they are. Even at the end of a long and tiring wedding day, they have plenty of smiles for the camera.

Although they will be living a few hours away, I look forward to seeing what God does both in and through them during their new life together.

Aren't they a beautiful couple?

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Serenity, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Isn't this a beautiful photograph? it was taken this past winter in Amsterdam. Lights reflecting on the water have always been soothing to me. My family are river people. We go to the water as our place of sacred sojourn. The Ohio River has long been a favorite, but there is something comforting about this canal in the middle of a bustling and yet quaint old city.

It saturates and soothes, the water that is. Tonight, I hung out with my friends Ryan and Cameron. We just played some music and wrote lyrics together. As we gathered, we seemed to be feeding off one another's creativity in an evening of serenity. There is something truly beautiful about coming together for times like that. I think that is a picture of the Kingdom. Everyone joins together to make a unique contribution in a great masterpiece solely dedicated to the glory of God. Every contribution is unique and important, and yet, like an orchestra that spans the world, no one instrument drowns out the others with its sound. That is collaboration. That is harmony. That is an image of walking in the way of Messiah.

Are you collaborating, or are you too busy making your own noise to hear the rest of the orchestra? Are you playing for your audience, or are you playing for yourself? Take time to listen, and feel the rhythm.

Friday, May 19, 2006

OK, I watched it

Well, I had to go see what all the hype was about. I have heard so much about the book, that I had to see it. I've had so many conversations about the book (and I anticipate many more), that I had to find out what it was all about.

Tonight, around a dozen of us went to see the Da Vinci Code together. Then we went out for dinner and discussion. I had high expectations for the movie, and maybe they were a little too high. It wasn't a bad movie, but it wasn't exactly a blockbuster either. I'm sure it will do well at the box office, in spite of reviews. People love conspiracy and secret society type stuff.

I'd have to say the thing I most enjoyed about the movie is the opportunity it presents for conversation and education. There are a lot of unorthodox and untrue ideas that are put forth in the story, and yet there is no really new idea being presented by the story, just a lot of em all at once. If you do go see the movie, I recommend going to see it with friends, and to go somewhere for discussion afterward. There are tons of succinct resources available for scrutinizing the fiction that presents itself as fact.

The real question one has to ask is--what's the allure of the fiction? Why do people want to spend more time trying to dig into the conspiracy than examining the claims of Jesus as they have been handed down from the first century?

I think it might just be because folks are waiting to see it lived out. People are wanting to get in discussions about the book, and about Jesus. Are you equipped? And are you living a life that let's others see the beauty of a life that follows Messiah?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

For the beauty of the earth

People choose to live out their faith in a variety of ways. Some choose to be a clanging gong in the ears of a world in need of harmony. Others choose to bury their heads in a world that cries for engagement. Still others claim to hold secret knowledge, and long to depart from the good earth. I am tempted by all of those, but somehow I believe we are called to something more. I believe we are to be singers of a beautiful song that enchants the world, to engage with those around us, and to shape the good earth to be a place where the beauty of God's Kingdom reality is made manifest for the sake of the whole world. To be an instrument of reconciliation instead of wreck. To be a flame and not ash. To spread shalom and not clutch tightly to things for fear of loss.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Back on Stone

It has finally happened. I finally made it out to get on a rock today. I am a mixed bag of emotion though. I went to a sweet semi-secret spot near Morgantown with my old boss. The only problem was that all of the boulder routes were really difficult. This place was definitely not the place to go for my first time out this season . . .or maybe it was. I definitely have a better sense of my inadequacy and lack of conditioning from my time spent out there.

Even though I couldn't send a single route, I really had a great time. There is something refreshing about being in the woods. Especially after a rain on a cool spring day.

What locations/activities refresh you? Have you been at them lately?

Flock of Seagulls

Flock of Seagulls, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
What do my hair style and the 80s band "Flock of Seagulls" have in common beyond hair? Well, "I ran," which was their hit song, is also what I have been doing more of lately.

Over the last three weeks I have run on four separate occasions. I realize that doesn't quite make me a runner, but it is a start. The fact that I have been able to get out is huge. I used to run--a lot. But an injury slowed me down. Now I haven't run consistently for six years. This summer, I plan to change that.

I will be in Morgantown for most if not all of the summer for the first time in 5 years. Not only will I have the ability to run, I will also have the ability to climb as well. That's a sport I fell in love with the year before I had to start going to Florida every summer during prime climbing season. While Florida afforded me the opportunity to learn to surf, the state is flat like a pancake--the only way you can climb is to climb buildings, or join a gym. Rocks don't cost money!!!

Anyway I am pumped about the summer in "Almost Heaven."

In case you are wondering, my hair doesn't really look like this--it's just tucked under my hat.

While we all may be nostalgic for old 80s hair styles, what other old good habits are you going to re-initiate this summer?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Very Scary Stuff

Thursday morning I found out some bad news. My hard drive was failing. For those of you who aren't so technically savvy that means that I nearly lost everything i have ever done on a computer over the last eight years. EVERYTHING!!! Every picture I have ever taken, every email I ever sent, my address book, my calendar, and every document I have ever created--gone!

The irony in all of this is that these aren't physical objects. They are computer files. They are electronic documents. They are digital photos. It is so odd to think that so much time and energy is devoted daily to files all over the internet, intranets, servers, and hard drives. But reality is that much of our life's work is stored on computers anymore.

As a result of my quandary, I made an emergency trip to visit to my best friend in the whole world. He is also very sharp with computers. He runs a school district. He also works in an apple certified service facility. We tried several different mechanisms for transferring files. Eventually we did the whole thing piece by piece. It took us all of the last two days to perform the rescue. We were eventually successful. If it weren't for my friend Willie, I would have lost everything.

Even better than saving everything was the fact that we were able to hang out. We did everything together. He taught me about everything he was doing as he did it. We laughed, we got stressed, we made it through it all.It's good to have friends to go through the tough times. Willie and I have been through a lot. He's a Shawnee. We're from the same clan--Eagle.

If you don't know him, you should meet him. He is super high quality. Right now I am still double checking things, but I think we recovered almost everything.

Words of wisdom--if you don't own an external hard drive, buy one. If you don't back up your files, start doing it now. Even though I work on one of the most awesome machines in the world, hard drives are their own beast--they can go bad at any moment. My computer was running fine wednesday morning, and really slow wednesday night. Thursday morning, it was dying. Back up your files if they are important to you!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Hollywood at Night

Hollywood at Night, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
This photo was taken last week from the roof of the New Hollywood Apartments in Thai Town. In the background is Century City. In the foreground you can see a number of small shops/restaurants across the street.

Back in West Virginia, the night sky doesn't look bright grey. It is filled with stars. Even on a cloudy night it looks dark, and not an ominous grey.

Light pollution. The Bible talks about light exposing the evil deeds of darkness. Maybe all of the brightness in the sky is indicative of places that need to be exposed. Or maybe the brightness is meant to be a reminder not to lose hope. Or maybe the light is a reminder that Los Angeles' deeds, whether good or evil, are being exposed for the world to see.

What do you think?

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Kip, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Hey, its my hip friend who has gone off to California, Kip! He and his family hosted me for a couple of days while I have been "out west"?

They are truly hospitable people and good friends. We miss them back east, but God has different plans for them.

It has been great being mutually a source of refreshment for one another during our short stint together.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

weight loss

weight loss, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
OK, I saw this billboard wednesday night driving through Los Angeles with Kip. I am somewhat tempted not to comment about this photo.

Instead I will leave you with a question. I would love to hear your response.

Weightloss for kids?


Fisherman, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Today I spent the day with my brother, his wife, and his son. This morning we went on a boy scout trip (my nephew is one merit badge and a project away from completing his Eagle.

Here he shows a bit o' the family skills in fishing.

I haven't fished for a long time. It was cool to help out with the outing, and spend time with family.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Akeelah and the Bee

My friends in Los Angeles gave me a choice between two movies, United 93 and Akeelah and the Bee, so I went to see the latter with them last night. I had some doubts, but it ended up being a decent film. the selling point for me was Lawrence Fishburne. I really enjoy the roles I have seen him in.

During the film, a lengthy quote by Marianne Williamson is read a couple of times. Nelson Mandela once used the quote in a speech, and it often gets attributed to him. I have posted it here. I hope it inspires you.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

-Marianne Williamson

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Los Angeles Plays Itself

This evening I went to Hollywood and Highland with my friends Kip, JR, and Ryan. We had dinner at the Pig N Whistle, a delicious shepherd's pie, and then me JR, and Ryan continued on to watch this really interesting movie at a historic theater in Hollywood called the Egyptian Theater. The movie, Los Angeles Plays Itself is a documentary about the depiction of the city Los Angeles in film. Here is a review of the film.

There were a number of commentaries made about the city, and the film brought several nuggets to the screen for me. While it was interesting, I don't know if I would give it a high recommendation. Unless you were living in the Los Angeles area, it probably wouldn't have a lot of meaning. He starts off the lengthy (169 minutes) film with the comment, "people become movie stars as a substitute for achievement." As a native Angelino, it appears he doesn't like the instant association the city has with movies. 2.5% of the population of the city is involved in the industry--that was a pretty shocking statistic for me. One in forty people are involved in the industry. So it seems that no matter where you go in the city, you are probably going to run into someone who works in film. There are several million people here too!

I really like the title of the movie. Multiple meanings maybe? Los Angeles, stars in films as itself. Or, Los Angeles makes a mockery of itself on the screen. The producer hasn't been offered an opportunity to play the thing in any theatres in the area, otehr than the Egyptian, which seems to specialize in independent films.

The film did get me thinking though. He marked the trend to sell out the downtown area of Los Angeles to developers who have brought in skyscrapers and corporate chains. I believe this trend is being repeated all over the country even today. Downtowns are being "revitalized" by bringing in bigger businesses. The maker of the film seemed to be a bit suspicious of the developers who gutted out downtown areas for the sake of development. In essence, they have rid the city of much of what makes it unique.

While I understand his lament, as I look out a window in East Hollywood on Hollywood Blvd. I can't help but think that it would take much more than this gesture to get rid of Los Angeles' uniqueness. I ahve never been anywhere that even remotely compares. Smog and palm trees, movie stars and freaks (I wonder if I should separate those categories), concrete and plastic, neon sprawl and ocean vistas, Los Angeles is definitely a unique place in the world.

What gives the town where you live it's uniqueness?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Takin it to the Streets

I just read this article in the New York Times about demonstrations taking place all over the country with regard to the Immigration policy being discussed in Congress.

As I personally reflect on the issue, I find it a bit ironic that there is an immigration policy. When my ancestors were in charge of the immigration policy, everyone was welcomed. People came from all over to enjoy the New World of America. Maybe we should have set more strict parameters back then, who knows?

Regardless of perspective, it is truly a wonderful gift that people are able to peacably demonstrate for their respective causes. If you were able to speak out about one issue in our world, what would it be?

Dedication and Leadership

As per traditioon for me, I read a book on the flight. I also watched the movie "Fun with Dick and Jane." It was interesting how the two events overlapped. The movie was pretty funny. it was about corporate greed, and even had a special thank you to Enron, Adelphia and a few other companies who were living examples of the content of the movie. If you haven't seen the movie, I will do my best not to spoil it for you. I will this though. As their world begins unraveling, they find themselves taking some pretty desperate measures in order to achieve justice from wrongs perpetrated on them and others by their former CEO. I guess it is a remake, but I've never seen the original.

The book I read was called Dedication and Leadership by Douglas Hyde. Hyde was a member of the communist party for 20 years before leaving the Party to join the Catholic church. The book's aim is to talk about things that the party did well, and that the rest of the waking world could learn from. In his introductory pages he mentions that the Party had been successful at the time (1966) in bringing a third of the world under communism. He says that no other movement in history spread with such rapidity in such a short time--50 years. It was pretty impressive to think about.

Although he didn't agree with Communism, he did feel that other groups, particularly the church, could benefit from exemplifying the level of dedication among members that communists demonstrated. For so many, church is something that they do, and he feels that the Gospel, being the most important message for the entire world requires at least a similar level of dedication. How dedicated are you to letting the message of Christ shape all that you do?

The other strength of Communism, is his eyes, was its singular focus on leadership development. Every person was considered a leader in training. Every person was learning how to lead others and shape communities. "Every Communist a leader, every factory a fortress" was one of the slogans of the Party in the day. Do we have this kind of focus on leadership development in the church?

Hyde's books were originally lectures given to expose some of the weaknesses of the church that could be strengthened by the principles of dedication and leadership Hyde learned while in the party.

It is a short book--158 pages--and if read, may stir and shame you in the living of your faith before a watching world looking for passion, dedication, leadership, and more than anything hope. The Gospel is the hope of the world--will people know it by seeing your life and the life of your community?

Monday, May 01, 2006

24--not the series

Well the past twenty four hours have been fairly eventful. I spoke at h2o, had lunch with about 25 people who are part of our community and then went running with Ryan, Jamie, and Christy. I also worked on my English paper at starbucks for a bit, and hung out with JR Pittman, and Nic Culp as well as my running buddies. Then, I joined Nic, Ryan, and Jamie and we attended an art show that featured Ryan and several other artists working with electronic media.

The show was really cool. there was one project in particular that spoke to me. This girl videotaped herself plucking dandelions, tearing up plants, and breaking stems off tree branches. Then, she played the footage backward. It looked like she was repairing everything. I talked to her about the project, and shared how I thought what she did was a great example of what Shalom looks like. I told her that we were working on opening an art gallery in the waterhouse, and that I thought that it might be cool to show the video in our gallery. She told me she was looking for a place to do her senior show, so who knows.

I was also able to hang out and connect with a number of folks from h2o at the art show. After this, I went back to the house and attempted to work a bit more on my final english paper and continued to connect with a handful of people through instant messenger.

This morning I finished my paper, turned it in, and began packing for LA. I took a flight, read a book, watched a movie, and ended up in Culver City (just a half mile outside Inglewood) with my friends Kip and Theresa Haynes. We had a wonderful evening of conversation and catching up. I really appreciate them.

What has your last 24 been like?