Mess With Glen’s Head

You now have a chance to mess with Glen’s head. That’s right–you get to pick my next hairstyle.

Why? I have a dilemma: I am balding yet not bald. I don’t know what to do.

Almost anything (emphasis on almost) will be considered.

Assuming there’s no evidence of vote fraud (always a peril on the internet), I commit to giving the winning hairstyle a sincere try.

So what are you waiting for? Mess with my head!

Staff Reading Cohort

Our staff team is going to begin a reading program together. We’re picking our books now, and I thought some of you might be interested in the guidelines we’re using. I sort of made these up and modified them based on the feedback I received.

Let’s start off with a book every two months. This will give us plenty of time to pursue our own reading without shortchanging our staff reads. We can always adjust the time later if we need to.

We make our list up two full cycles in advance (one whole year). We each get to propose 4 books, and then we each rank the resulting list of 12. We tally the votes using an internet script (Condorcet method for any voting geeks out there). The top six books win. We’ll decide the order in which the winners will be read informally, trying to alternate older books with newer books.


  1. We have to propose books that we have not read yet. Don’t pick something you loved and think it will be good for everyone else. The point of this exercise is personal growth.
  2. Having said that, it’s okay if someone else proposes a book that you have already read and the team selects it. In that case, you don’t have to reread it–skimming will do.
  3. Don’t try to impress anyone. No need to pick academic philosophy or anything like that–unless you really want to read it.
  4. Let’s try to alternate between new books and books older than we are. This isn’t a rigid rule, but an aspiration.
  5. Freshness is good when we’re talking about something based on research, and age is good when we’re talking about something based on reflection. If you want us to think about science or culture get a new book. If you want us to think about God or life get an older book. Unless you really don’t want to–these are guidelines and not rules. 😉
  6. The books can be about anything, but let’s keep fiction to a minimum.
  7. Nothing over 500 pages without first clearing it with everyone else.
  8. Nothing over $30 without clearing it first with everyone else.
  9. If you want, you can propose multiple short books as a single recommendation (less than 200 pages total).

After Reading
Following the reading of the book, by a specified deadline, the chooser will compose a few (3–5) questions for group discussion either in person, over the phone or online.

Anyway, it’s not too elegant but it looks as though it will serve us well. We’ve each made our suggestions and here’s the list we’re going to be voting on:

  • The Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle
  • Prayer by George Buttrick
  • Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great by Jim Collins
  • College of the Overwhelmed: The Campus Mental Health Crisis and What to Do About It by Richard D. Kadison and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
  • Creative Ministry by Henri Nouwen
  • In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen
  • Pensees by Blaise Pascal
  • Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading by Eugene Peterson
  • Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students by Charles Spurgeon
  • The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work, and Ministry in Biblical Perspective by R. Paul Stevens
  • Margin by Richard Swenson

Once we have the results I’ll let you know what we wind up reading.

Dana’s Disconcerting Insight

Two days ago as Dana was helping me wash dishes, she blurted out “Robi have penis.”

I paused mid‐scrub. “Really?”

Robi is our two‐year‐old neighbor and Dana’s favorite playmate. They see one another quite a bit, but evidently they have also seen quite a bit of each other. As I was contemplating this development, Dana expounded on her original thesis.

“Yes. Change diaper, Robi have penis.”

“Robi got his diaper changed and you saw that he had a penis?”

“Yes. Penis in diaper.”

“That was very perceptive of you, Dana.”

She smiled widely and continued to help me washing dishes.

I choose not to be disturbed that my two‐year‐old daughter was thinking about the fascinating anatomical differences between men and women on Valentine’s day.


I don’t normally participate in these meme things, but Scott Aughtmon tagged me publicly at lunch yesterday and so I feel obliged to throw my four cents in.

Four Jobs I’ve Had:
* Lifeguard
* Police Officer
* Computer Services (in a hospital)
* Minister

Four movies I can watch over and over:
* Monty Python & the Holy Grail
* Rat Race
* The Princess Bride
* Arsenic and Old Lace

Four places I have lived:
* Lafayette, LA
* Natchitoches, LA
* Springfield, MO
* Palo Alto, CA

Four shows I like to watch:
* Mythbusters
* Inside the Actor’s Studio
* Battlestar Galactica
* Whose Line Is It, Anyway?

Four foods that I like:
* Chocolate Chip Cookies
* Fried Rice
* BBQ Chicken Pizza
* Hamburgers

Four websites I visit daily:
* Cool Tools
* The Web Comic List

Four things I want to do before I die:
* earn a doctorate
* learn a living language
* write a book
* see Dana succeed in life

Four people I’m tagging: (Paula has been implicitly tagged since this is
* Lindsey Hawley
* Earl Creps (he hasn’t ppsted lately and needs a kick to get him started again)
* Will Phillips (ditto)
* Greg Davis

Ringing The Church Bells Via SMS

We’re putting together a text‐messaging reminder service for our meetings. Every Wednesday night at 7pm our website will send out a SMS message to the cell phones of everyone who signs up reminding them to get ready for Chi Alpha’s weekly worship meeting. It’s a simple message to help out those students who always mean to come but get busy doing something else and forget until the meeting is partway over:

Chi Alpha at 8:00 tonight in 300–300.

I’ve just tested the system and it works pretty smoothly. It’s the modern‐day equivalent of ringing the church bells!

The script was really simple to write. If you use a unix‐based system with PHP & PEAR installed you could easily adapt it for your ministry:

//sends SMS announcments to each person in Chi Alpha who wants them


$cells['Ferdinand Frosh']='5555555555';
$cells['Suzie Sophomore']='5555555555';
$cells['Jing Junior']='5555555555';
$cells['Sheila Senior']='5555555555';

$headers['Subject']='XA @ 8pm';
$body='Chi Alpha at 8:00 tonight in 300-300';

foreach ($cells as $cell) {
        if (empty($cell)) continue;
        //echo $email;

All you have to do is customize the script (add cell phone numbers and the right “From” and “Reply‐To” emails) and then add it to your crontab file with an entry like so:

0 19 * * 4 /path/to/announce.php

(Hint: type crontab -e to edit your crontab file).

By the way, it should go without saying that you never add someone to an SMS announcement system without their express permission! If you think email spam hacks people off, then just wait until someone has to pay a text‐messaging fee for something they’re not interested in. The depths of their rage would astonish the Hulk.

Geekspeak: the reason I used the PEAR::Mail library was to make sure that the reply‐to address was the one I wanted. I just couldn’t make it happen using the PHP mail() function alone. Everything was from “root@my webserver.” Very annoying.


I sent this email to our worship leaders and I thought others might be interested in it.

Why do we try to incorporate a hymn each week into worship?

The shortest answer I can give is to quote C. S. Lewis on old books: “Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books. All contemporary writers share to some extent the contemporary outlook–even those, like myself, who seem most opposed to it. None of us can escape this blindness, but we shall certainly increase it, and weaken our guard against it, if we read only modern books. The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books. Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes.” (from his introduction to Athanasius’ On The Incarnation).

The same thing is true of songs. There are some great worship songs out today and I want the majority of our worship to feature them. But I don’t want us to just feature them. They have notable weaknesses (pdf link) and so I want the “sea breeze of the centuries” to blow through our worship and keep us rooted.

Having said that, traditional hymn music doesn’t really connect with today’s students. That’s why I urge you to seek out or make up (yes, you are allowed to do that) contemporary arrangements for the hymns that we do sing.

I’ve found a few that illustrate what I’m talking about. Check out

Each one has a sample mp3, lead sheets, tab sheets, and other resources available for worship teams.

Another excellent example is the Dave Crowder band’s recording of “All Creatures Of Our God And King.”

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to explain myself on that for a while but I’ve never actually gotten around to it.

So there.

Look, I’m On TV! Sort Of. Not Really.

Inspired by Mark Driscoll’s example, I videotaped last week’s Chi Alpha meeting and put it online using Google Video. So now you can just go to google video and search for something like “Jesus at Stanford” and the video will appear.

Or you can just go to the website and see it there. Google lets you embed the videos wherever you want. Pretty amazing, huh?

Not bad for our first try. Now I need to brainstorm about making it more attractive–the blackboard is pretty unappealing. For that matter, I’m not all that appealing–I need a fashion makeover or something. And I need to talk slower. Still, not too bad for our first try.

So why do we record these meetings? I can imagine someone alleging that it’s some sort of egomaniacal thing. As a rebuttal, I can only offer my poor grooming skills. Egomaniacs exfoliate.

So why do we record our meetings? 3 reasons:

1) We want to make it easy for our students to invite their friends to come.

Chi Alphan: “Come check out this meeting. It’s the best thing since sleep. And the wheel. And fire.”
College Pagan: “Wow. What’s it like?”
Chi Alphan: “Your computer on?”
College Pagan: “Yeah.”
Chi Alphan: “Go to google video and search for ‘Jesus at Stanford’ — that’s one of our meetings.”

2) So our students still be part of our community when they’re doing a study abroad. We’ve been listened to on at least three continents. I’m gunning for the whole globe!

3) I sometimes refer back to previous messages and it’s easy to say, “You know, I talked about that a few quarters ago. I don’t have time to explain all my thoughts on that right now–go get it off our website and ask me any follow‐up questions you have.”

Since we were already recording in MP3, video was a no‐brainer. We can do both easily, so why not?