George & The Werewolf, Pt. 2

Previously on George & The Werewolf

Cold perspiration beaded on George’s brow as he squinted out into the inky night. The moon appeared briefly from behind a smoky cloud, casting a cold sterile light on the rock formations all around him, and then blinked out like a snuffed candle. He listened intently, but the cool whistle of wind between the rocks and his own racing heartbeat were the only sounds that greeted his straining ears. After squatting in silence for what seemed like an eternity at the edge of the crevice, he quietly crept back to the embers of his fire. Pulling a warm blanket around his shoulders, and wiping the sweat from his clammy hands, he set his back against the darkest wall, and resolved to keep watch until morning when it would be safe to move again. As he sat in the gloom, hour after hour creeping by, his mind turned to the horrible sound that had awakened him earlier—and it filled him with a cold dread.

George was not actually his given name. Being a stray from rural Germany, nobody actually knew what his parents had called him, or where they were. He had some memories of life before Mr. Acton, a wealthy merchant from Hessle, had taken him under his wing: brief glimpses of playful romps in the great green forests around his parent’s home, and times spent with nameless childhood friends. He also remembered the day that father had come home worried, and his parents hurried discussion was quickly followed by the family retreating from their secluded home to the town church some many miles away. Most of the small town had gathered that night, and he remembered not so much the faces—but the sounds: children whimpering, women pleading, and men both angry and fearful. But then there was THE sound, that terrible howl not quite human or animal, so unnatural it would make the blood of the stoutest human turn to ice. They had called it a ‘werwolf.’ Not many people believed in werewolves, George had found out. Mr. Acton had scoffed at George’s accounts of his childhood terror, and his classmates in school had written it off as attention seeking. Still, even as an adult, he could not escape the memories, and they haunted his steps—especially at night.

As the sky began to change from shades of navy blue to aqua, George stirred slightly beneath his blanket. He hurt all over, back and legs stiffly cramped from a long night without sleep. When he tried to set down his revolver, he realized that his hand had fixed itself around the grip, and only with slow painful motions could he gingerly pry each finger open. He stirred up the fire and put a small can of water on to boil. As he slowly cooked his meal, his mind turned back to the howl he had heard the previous night—it seemed so long ago, like a dream. “Maybe it was just a timber wolf? You let your childhood traumas color everything,” his exhausted mind thought. Staggering to his feet, he was resolved to finish out his contract this day for Mr. Acton, for according to the map he had received before crossing the Atlantic, his destination was very close.

The sun had risen slightly over the peaks of the mountains by the time George finished his breakfast and reloaded all of his gear in his backpack. Stepping out from the crevice, he felt the warmth of yellow light spill over him, and his spirits immediately lifted. Walking briskly, he continued up a narrow rock-fall that cascaded over the side of the cliff-face. Nearing the top, he found a small pool of clear water fed by a spring, and bending down he began to refill his canteen. As he rose and prepared to go—some tracks in the mud caught his eye: they were the tracks of a man, and next to them the tracks of what appeared to be a large wolf.


To be continued by Arrietty…


Resolute in a New Year

2017 was considered to be a terrible year by many. However, while most point to the election of our latest chief of state, or the end of Net Neutrality, or even the death of Hugh Hefner and other American entertainment icons to back up this statement, very few people look beyond surface level news to what is actually going on; then again, there might be a reason for that:

  1. Mexico: as of October 2017, there were 20,878 reported murders. This averages out to 69 reported murders per day. (ref)
  2. Venezuelan President urges population to eat rabbits to try and counter waves of starvation sweeping through his country. (ref)
  3. Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia consolidates power by jailing political opponents and confiscating their assets. (ref)
  4. European Union begins legal action against Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic for closing their borders to Muslim migrants from the Middle East. (ref)
  5. Hurricane Maria batters Puerto Rico, destroying massive amounts of infrastructure (ref)

Certainly, 2017 was a hard year for many -both on a global scale, but also through the various troubles and heartaches of everyday life; however, does this mean we look with hope that 2018 will be easier? Less destructive? Certainly that is something good to strive for, but it should not be the pinnacle of our hopes.  After all, Jesus said, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet” (Matt 24.6). While the human reaction to the troubles of life is often fear and anxiety, Jesus states that these are not the correct responses. Addressing this very issue, Paul describes the mindset that all Christians should strive for in there lives: “[…]When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (2:1-2). Christ was the star that Paul sought to orbit. Did this mean that Paul did not suffer or watch others suffer? Certainly not, but it did shape his view of suffering -suffering in light of a future where all things are made new. It enabled him to love others genuinely and selflessly, even as Christ loves him, and meant that all circumstances, however painful, were not outside the control of his heavenly father and were not without purpose. Christ at the center will shape our ability to love those who hate us, comfort those who are suffering, have compassion on those who are wandering, and feed those who are hungry. May Paul’s words be in our hearts and prayers in this coming year: “I […] know nothing […] except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (2:2)



Timeless Political Satire

Just as a well made whisky does not deteriorate with age, so also good satire holds its bite over many years and decades, never losing its potency. One such modern satire that has aged well is the TV show Yes Minister. Although released originally in the 1980s, it has just as much relevance today as when it was first released.

Jim Hacker

The show follows a newly elected official named Jim Hacker, and revolves around the various situations that he must maneuver through. He must constantly try to toe the party line, win over minorities to his cause, keep his constituents happy, and simultaneously maintain some sort of moral integrity. One of the major points of the show is the expansiveness and rigidity of government bureaucracy, and this is represented in Sir Humphrey Appleby, who is permanently stationed at his post within the government and is a career civil servant through and through. Appleby is the foil to Hacker, and the two see the world through very different lenses: Appleby sees the long term picture that gives the government the most stability—an interest he has since he is unelected and relies on the bureaucracy for his job; Hacker, conversely, flutters from one event to another trying to keep everyone happy with him so that he can be reelected, gain influence, etc. Through these two opposed characters, the show writers demonstrate, among other things, that nobody in government has the good of the citizenry in mind—there are only two sides: the politician and the bureaucrat, each seeking to simultaneously both win over the populace and keep them in the dark so that their own ends will be met. The show sees very little good in government, and as a result it can be very bleak and cynical at times—Hacker is often willing to back down on principles when he sees it will cost him politically, and Appleby is more than happy to manipulate to his own ends. Never is there a ray of hope or decent integrity put on display, and while this may make for difficult watching after a while, I do not think it is without merit.

Humphrey Appleby

The show deals with a very real ideology that is present today, and (possibly unintentionally) shows the futility of it. In the United States, as in many countries around the globe, government is seen as the primary vehicle for good and change—the sword to be wielded to solve all the world’s problems. However, when government is made supreme, there is no value structure left, but only the arbitrary one put in place by a bureaucrat: people become numbers, and the purpose of all of life becomes power and meeting the “bottom line.” Yes Minister may be bleak, but it accurately portrays what men always become when they have no principle beliefs or morally absolute value structure to rest upon.

Re-watching Yes Minister never gets old, principally because it contains a kernel of truth: without a moral baseline, everyone only looks out for themselves. Satire is not always done well, but when it is, it is timeless, and Yes Minister will be watched for many years to come as a brutal commentary on government without God.

How the globalization of the market brings greater richness and innovation: an example

The Internet and flight have increasingly shrunk the boundaries of countries. While one hundred years ago travelling abroad would have been a major ordeal, today it is much easier. Similarly, the Internet has allowed virtually instantaneous global communication and commerce to become the daily norm. Whereas in the past, expertise was limited to countries or geographic regions—and only the people with ‘trade routes’ to those areas could benefit—, nowadays ideas flow pretty freely across countries around the globe, and I would argue we are better for it.

A quick example:

This is not meant to be an exhaustive, or even thorough, study, but merely some observations from about 10 years of following a specific industry. As anyone who has known me personally can attest, I have had a keen interest in the sporting cutlery market—especially pocket knives—for quite some time. As such, I have followed trends, sometimes closely, sometimes not, but it has interested me to see the way the market has changed over the past decade.

A couple key factors that I value when looking at an industry are richness and innovation.


‘Richness’ can be a tricky term whenever talking about a specific market. There are two main factors that I would consider to contribute to this:

a. Diversity in Cultural Heritage—This part is pretty self-explanatory, and is relevant to the following point as well. Part of what makes knives such an interesting market to me is the variety of history. Culture plays a huge part in some designs—the Nepalese have the ‘kukri,’ the Philippines has the ‘Balisong,’ the Japanese the ‘tanto,’ and the Scots the ‘Sgian-dubh.’ Each knife bears a distinct heritage that is fascinating in and of itself.

b. Unique Design—The history and culture cannot be mentioned without it necessarily cascading into the point of design. Every knife is built differently: different blade shapes, lengths, grinds, materials, finishes, garnishings, etc., all of which stem from the creator’s cultural influences.

Whenever looking at the modern knife market, there is a definite richness brought by the diversity of cultural backgrounds represented. Whether looking at the aerospace grade precision of some Japanese and American manufacturers, the material innovation present in Europe and the U.S., and the design influences from all over the globe, the complexity and growth of the industry can be directly linked to the widespread diversity represented by the men and women who make it up and the cultures they represent.

1. Asheville Steel Phoenix, 2. Wander Tactical Hurricane, 3. Mcusta Tactility, 4. Svord Peasant knife
Production Innovation:

Each continent really brings its own influences and contributions to the table, but one that I would like to specifically mention given recent events is China. Not so many years ago, China was known as the center of the ‘budget’ knife world—the place where the cheap and low-end blades came from. However, this trend has been gradually changing. Bringing sophisticated machining skills and design chops, at a fraction of the price that American and European makers are capable of, many new Chinese companies have been pushing the envelope in what consumers can expect in terms of quality for the price. Without a global economy, it would be easy for innovation and cost cutting measures to be localized, but with the widespread availability of products, the best man can now offer his products to the world and challenge the status quo.


Global markets enhance the offerings available to consumers, and this is always a good thing. While ten years ago I never would have thought that Chinese companies would be giving American/European/Japanese producers a run for there money, that is certainly happening in the present. Better products, at more affordable prices, with an even greater breadth and representation for different cultures, give consumers an ever better option for their needs.

When Intellectual Safety Kills

People like safety. They like the comfortableness of it, the self-validating nature of it, the superiority of it in a world that is anything but safe. However, in most cases the illusion of safety is more highly prized than the reality of it. We surround ourselves with other likeminded individuals who hold similar mores, political ideologies, theologies, and worldviews, giving ourselves the impression of ‘safety’ through mutual validation.

However, like with most idols, this kind of ‘safety’ dehumanizes people. The opposing party, group, movement, culture, race, or denomination, becomes condensed into, and defined by, a stereotype. Keeping those we disagree with at arms length is ‘safe’, it is ‘comfortable’, and it permits the continuing illusion of  doctrinal and cultural superiority. This ‘safety’ also destroys meaningful dialogue because a genuine challenge to an established stance is seen as combative and a personal attack. When we identify ourselves with a specific group -and by identify I do NOT mean casually associate -any attack made on that group becomes a personal attack. Whether it be liberal vs conservative, Protestant vs Roman Catholic, pro-abortion vs pro-life: the list could go on and on -when you say I am ‘X’, any attack on ‘X’ becomes an attack on you. This is especially true in Christian circles which often demonize each other, as well as take worldly definitions with which to define themselves (conservative, liberal, etc…). We forget that when Joshua asked the angel of the Lord, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”, the angel did not respond to the question, but simply stated, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come”(Josh. 5:13-14). God was not bound by the human definitions that Joshua used (Israel vs. Canaanite), but rather is only defined by himself -God is on his own side.  Similarly with Jesus, the ultimate divider in his ministry was not between Jew or Gentile, clean or unclean, but between those who believed and those who did not. Christ alone is the ultimate one by whom we as Christians should identify, and any earthly categorization should be secondary to this -a very distant second. Jesus went to those whom the Jews despised and hated, explicitly because he was doing the will of his Father and that mattered more than any cultural, political, or misguided religious categorizations of his day.

Christ went to the outcast, the disenfranchised, and the poor of his time, bearing the good news of himself. He gave no heed to whether they were like him, or whether it was culturally acceptable, but only looked to his Father’s mission. We are called to be like Him first and foremost. We are not first Americans, or conservatives, or Reformed, or pro-life, or black/white/Hispanic/Asian, legal/illegal, rich/poor/middle-class, but rather Christians. Putting aside these human classifications does not mean we turn a blind eye to evil (Jesus certainly didn’t), but it does mean we are free in Christ to genuinely engage with all men, women, and children everywhere: in safety and without fear.




Music elicits moods. A power-metal battle hymn will make you feel strong and impervious, the string section of Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’ will make you feel anxious, and Tycho’s synth-filled soundscape will make you feel relaxed in its vastness. Since I work in an open office floorplan, the incessant chatter can often become distracting and a handy pair of earbuds has become invaluable. However, much more so than in college (when music made an excellent study aid), various styles of music have proven themselves to be even more distracting than the people around me. Anymore, when I need to withdraw from the hubbub of office chatter, I turn to a variety of genres including power metal, hard rock, and most recently—electronic.

Because electronic is a very expansive genre, and one I know little about, most of my listening knowledge has come from artists I have stumbled across or learned about from others better versed in this style of music than myself. With roots going all the way back to the 1960’s with bands like Kraftwerk from Germany, the genre has a vast, but pretty short, history. The style of music has been typified by the use of synthesizers to produce tones and notes, but today it encapsulates a much broader swath of music—all of which is produced using some variation of live and computer generated instruments and sounds.

One group that falls within the ‘electronic’ genre, called Tycho, produces music using a mixture of both synthesized instruments (hardware synths) and regular instruments (e.g. electronic guitars, drums, etc.). The group is primarily known for using lots of ambient melodies and is incredibly relaxing to listen too. The band’s lead, Scott Hansen, also designs all the merchandise and album covers himself in an effort to present a visual image that is consistent with the sonic nature of his work—efficient, clean, and pleasing. Tycho makes for excellent working music due to their relaxing and clean sounds, but also contains the depth that makes attentive listening rewarding.

The genre of electronic music contains a huge variety of artists, sounds, and sub-genres, and people will be drawn to it for a variety of reasons. Mine is probably not as idealistic as most—just wanting something to block out the cacophony of the office-space; however, by pursuing it I have discovered bands like Tycho, that present a beautiful artistry in their melding of old with new, acoustic with digital, and audio with visual.

A Question of Love

“Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been fathered by God and knows God. 8 The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  9 By this   the love of God  is revealed in us:  that God has sent his one and only  Son into the world so that we may live through him. 10 In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice  for our sins.” -1 Jn. 4:7-10, NET

After reading the above passage recently, the following question struck me: in the context of saving faith, is the appropriate question “do I love God?” In Christian circles, whenever welcoming someone into the church, talking about ones faith, etc., this is the go-to question: do you love God? However, should the question rather not be the more fundamental, “Does God love you?” Must it not be the latter, for 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he loved us first.” Even in light of passages such as Proverbs 8:17, “I [God] love those who love me,” which seem to intimate the contrary, are, on closer inspection, not actually doing so. For if God in his wisdom and sovereignty can lovingly elect sinners before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-6), does this not necessitate His love coming first? Proverbs, rather, is speaking of the proper heart and outward response to God’s love. This outward demonstration of love toward God signifies the love that was already at work in our hearts: our love is a natural fruit, a necessary response (Matt 12:33, 13:23). The criticality of this question is rooted in the fickleness of man and the steadfastness of God. For a salvation dependent upon human love is bound to fail. For before any time is passed our affections are drawn to many things: food, public image, lust, slothfulness, selfishness, but thanks be that while our love is weak and wavering, God’s is most steady.

Our love is a fruit, a natural and necessary response to the love God has extended to us, a Christian that claims Jesus and continues to live on with no fruit calls into serious question the veracity of their faith. However, the first question does not address the true source of faith -because that rests in God alone. We must never confuse which love saves and which is a response. For if we look at our own fervency for assurance it will always leave us doubting; by resting in God’s love, only then can we find the solid rock.

“It is a blessed thing when the faithful soul in prayer fixes his uplifted eyes of faith on Jesus only; when he does not look about him to lay hold on his own scattered thoughts, nor behind him at Satan who threatens him with the thought that his prayer is in vain, nor within him at his sloth and lack of devotion; but looks up to Jesus, who sits at the right hand of God and makes intercession for us.” -Bo Giertz, The Hammer of God, p. 202

A Voice for Modern Times


Hailing from the same recording label as Beautiful Eulogy, Propaganda brings a frank conversational style to his discussion of a variety of issues. While analysis of our current social crises is driving many to socialism, nationalism, hateful sectionalism, and any number of other responses, Propaganda presents the issues in their true light–analyzing them not from the purely human-centric perspective, but under a perspective shaped by the Bible.


Propaganda has released a number of albums over the past several years, many of which deal heavily with various issues in society. His latest album, Crooked, is much the same, but after watching events unfold over the past few years with more careful attention than before–riots, shootings, elections, transgender controversies, injustices–his latest songs have carried a weighty relevance for me that few musical albums have before. His song “It’s Complicated” addresses how multi-faceted and complicated people are, and how much greater the image we are made in is than the ones we try to create for ourselves:

We may scratch ourselves raw to erase the image we were made in
Smoke, snort, sex or drown out the silence
We may waste our life savings on makeovers
To try to rhinoplast our daddy’s nose away
But no nip, no tuck could cut away the sense of obligation
We are becoming what we are not
But what we are is inescapable
You are a masterpiece fighting to be a silly selfie with a hideous filter
You are heavens handmade calligraphy
Slumming it among papyrus fonts

The song “Crooked” addresses the injustices and the lack of compassion that has been shown to many in the African American community. However, while anyone can sing about the problems in the world, the Gospel never lets us despair. Similarly, Propaganda’s songs, while painfully honest at times, are incessantly upward-focused toward Christ–we are all sinners in need of the same Savior. Whenever an artist goes to the source–to Christ’s goodness and man’s sinfulness–only then can a real, constructive, healing dialogue begin. This is something that Propaganda does well–seeing beyond the surface level differences to the underlying issue that plagues us all.


Having listened to a decent amount of rap over the years, Propaganda’s style has always struck me as being more on the, excuse the vulgarity, “wordy” end of the spectrum. While with some rap you can get lost in the rhythm and easily follow the lyrics, with Propaganda the words are much more forward and require constant attention. This is by no means detrimental, but does mean he should not be played as “background” music.


Whenever discussing social issues, the Gospel must be the linchpin of any discussion. Without it we simply become driven by anger and pain. Without Jesus we all become content with playing in the mud, not imagining the amazing vistas of possibility. Propaganda brings the Gospel with his music, and this makes every issue he tackles, no matter how difficult, horrendous, and muddy it may seem, one that points us back to the Great Physician. He is a much needed voice in modern times.

Why couldn’t you just hug me?
Look me in the eyes and tell me love is lovely
Ribbons in the sky that Stevie Wondie flung me
Sing lullabies to the son you brung me
But your eyes just won’t keep they mouth shut


I could tell the future, we’re a broken record
I’ma say something then I’m gon’ regret it
And you’ll put up a wall and I’ma try to wreck it
Love is not love if it’s never been tested

-Bear With Me


On our last night in Lisbon, Portugal, my brother, myself, and 10 other world travelers made our way to the upstairs dining table at a small local restaurant. After filling up glasses of wine and beer, accompanied by sides of bread, cheese, and fried cuttlefish, the lights were dimmed. Soon, in came two guitar players accompanied by a couple singers, and thus began a night of Fado music.

Fado is a Portuguese genre of music originating in Lisbon during the early part of the 19th century. Meaning ‘fate’ in Portuguese, this genre is often characterized by bitter sweetness -missing something that has passed on. However, this westernizing of the translation doesn’t really capture the full depth of the meaning, because not all Fado can be characterized as sad. An example our guide gave was: “It is like being sad to leave Lisbon to have to return home, but at the same time looking forward to getting back and being excited about the future”.  The Fado we heard was very much about setting a mood: the lights were dimmed, and the style of singing of both the male and female singers was very emotional.

After performing for two twenty minute sessions, the musicians retired, and the night was over. One by one various members of the group headed back to hotels and hostels through the moonlit streets of Lisbon with the haunting sounds of Portuguese music lingering in their ears.