Saturday, February 24, 2007

More China Travel Articles

I don't know if you checked them out last time, but a few months ago I posted a link to some travel articles I wrote on a website called Travel China Guide. If you're interested in going to China, this site is great for travel tips and reviews. And if you want to know a little bit more about the logistical details from my Beijing, JH and Xinjiang trips, click here and go to the winning entries with ICTHUS17 as the username.

Chasing Bebo Norman

Yesterday I had an article come out in the Red and Black newspaper about the Bebo Norman concert Friday night. I took the article because I thought I'd have a chance to interview Bebo, who has consistently been one of my favorited musicians over the past six or so years. Unfortunately, I procrastinated, and Bebo's management didn't get back to me quick enough, so I was left only with secondary sources to do the article. But I did get to listen to his new album, "Between the Dreaming and the Coming True," and I was pretty impressed. Our C-town boy is doing well for himself. Click here to read what I came up with.

Friday, February 23, 2007


When God won a great victory for the Israelites against the Amalekites, Moses built an altar. When the waters of the Jordan walled up on both sides so the Israelites could walk through, Joshua built an altar. Just before Jesus was turned over to the Pharisees for judgment, he instituted a sacred meal and said, "Do this in remembrance of me."

The purpose of an altar is to provide a visual reminder of the faithfulness of God, and every time we partake of the Lord's supper, we look toward our altar: the body and the blood of Jesus shed for us. This act of remembrance refocuses our hearts on the sacrifice it took to cleanse us from sin and helps us to look forward to the day we'll drink the fruit of the vine anew in the kingdom of the One who died for us.

So why does God put so much stock in remembrance? Namely because he knows that we are so forgetful. And when we forget how good God is, we often run to idols, lovers who coax us with empty promises but never fulfill our longings.

Right now I'm taking a class on the Qur'an, the Islamic holy book. Muslims view it as the physical manifestation of the uncreated, direct word of God as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over a period of 23 years. According to the tradition, Muhammad did not write down the contents of the book. During the first instance of revelation, the angel Gabriel came to him and commanded him to "recite" the words he was given. The Qur'an was not compiled in full physical form until after the Prophet's death, when all those who had memorized the Qur'an came together and somewhat standardized it.

To this day, Muslims still emphasize memorization of the Qur'an, and they advocate what they call dhikr, the remembrance of God. According to my teacher, Islam has no doctrine of original sin. Adam and Eve's fall was a result of forgetfulness rather than outright rebellion. People are basically good, but they are also inherently forgetful. While we as Christians will take issue with the theology of these claims, one thing is for sure: When we remember the greatness of God, we are less likely to sin. Don't wait until the next communion of service to remember Jesus. Build an altar every morning, and make every day a celebration.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Searchin' for a Little Love

The above title is my idea for a slogan to represent Goodsearch, the relatively new search engine that allows internet junkies to throw a little change toward their charity of choice. Users can select their charity from a growing list of non-profit organizations, and Goodsearch deposits 50 percent of ad revenue from every search into the charity's account.

The search is particularly profitable for organizations with a large and dedicated membership, like schools and churches, but many still have not jumped on the bandwagon. My elementary school back in Columbus is probably collecting pop-tops from aluminum cans, not knowing that in the time it took to rip them off and stick them in a ziplock bag, they could've made about the same amount of money from an internet search that they needed to complete anyway.

At the University of Georgia and other institutes of higher education, computers are both a necessity and an indulgence. Students can hardly spend 10 minutes without checking email or updating their profile on Facebook or myspace, and students are the highest population segment conducting research at a given time.

The UGA Wesley Foundation is one of only four organizations at UGA to take advantage of this internet-crazed market. Although its earnings have declined in the past few months, the campus ministry has raked in over $500 since Goodsearch unveiled its plans last June. It may not seem like a lot, but a campus ministry always has limited funding, and each little bit helps.

If you want to join the giving tree, go to and enter the name of your charity in the form below the search box. I would recommend downloading the toolbar. That way, Goodsearch's golden halo hovers at the top of your browser, and your charity stays locked in a form right next to the search box. But don't abandon Google altogether, Call me a backslider, but I think the monstrous search engine works better if you need a broader range of results.

Recommended charities:

First, if you go to a church, I would recommend pitching this search engine to your congregation and setting up an account if you can garner some interest. Or, if you want to go the more selfless route, I suggest you help one of the numerous missions organizations already signed up for the service:

-The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention has one of the widest and most complex infrastructures of any Christian organization, but it has only gained four bucks off Goodsearch. I don't think Goodsearch should supplant Lottie Moon, but I don't think Lottie would object to a little change in her pocket.

-Gospel for Asia-Check the link on the right of this screen for more information.

-Voice of the Martyrs-helps Christians suffering persecution around the globe.