Grand Larseny

What's a sweatshop without a little fun?

Faith Outside Ourselves

Faith is nonexistent if you don’t act like you have it, but how do you act when your faith is in your own inaction?

The circles I travel in are tangentially related to theology, and this pleases me. I really do have a love for theology, and every time I get to talk about God with folk I end up feeling better. So, when the name of a book kept coming up again and again and again I thought, ok God, I’ll pick it up. The book is Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. He also gave the speech at this year’s congressional prayer breakfast. Guy’s quickly becoming a big muckity-muck.

So I’ve made it through the introduction. Yeah, super speed-reader over here and just as quick to judge. One thing it’s brought to my mind, though, is the importance of the faith that saves us from our sin. The introduction lays out Christian responses to the gospel in a continuum ranging from cheap grace to costly grace to legalism. I’ll explain.

Cheap grace is the belief that God will always happily cover all our sins so there’s no need to change anything about how we live. In a sense, sin is free. Costly grace believes that Jesus paid a very heavy toll for our sins, so we owe it to him to live our lives worthy of him. Well, I’m not 100% sure that’s what costly grace is, but that’s how it is in my head right now. Then legalism is legalism. We earn our salvation by being right before God. This is stupid.

Costly grace as a concept confuses me. What does it mean that costly grace necessitates life change? How does costly grace work without having to perform the faith that saves us? And if we have to prove our faith how is there any hope for anyone?

Example: If I have faith in electricity and local government and my home maintenance I have no second thoughts about flipping on the light switch to turn the light on. If, however, I try to hit the lightbulb with a broom or consult with expert electricians how to make light appear or even worry each time before I turn the switch on I demonstrate that I do not, in fact, have faith in the light switch to do its function. Moving then to the faith that saves us from our sins, how can we demonstrate our faith when the very thing we have faith in is our own inaction (our total depravity deprives us of any opportunity for action) and instead in the Christ’s actions. How can that be acted?

I do hope the book will have its own answer, but since I’m coming at the book with my own agenda it probably won’t be answered. It’s really not fair to the book, but still I can’t help but be a bit frustrated.

The New iPad

Don’t call this a review. It’s more of a mild disappointment with the general level of discourse about Apple with non-tech people I run into (well, even a lot of tech-oriented people too). Take for example the new iPad.

The iPad has a completely new display that is demonstrably better than what came before. It makes every activity on the iPad more enjoyable. We can know this without having used a new iPad. Just look at the iPhone display upgrade (iPhone 3GS -> iPhone 4). It made everything more enjoyable. Going back and looking at the old display you constantly felt like you needed to blink away the ugly. Truly, the new display is a standalone feature.

The new iPad also has double the amount of RAM which will make it feel faster, and it connects to 4G wireless networks, which is a really, really fast way to connect to the internet when you’re out and about. Seriously, it’s fast.

These are not minor upgrades. And yet, most everyone I talk to looks down their nose at the progress that happens before them. It’s like that for ┬ámore than the iPad, too. People really don’t want to think there’s anything out there better than what they have. In one sense it’s definitely healthy to not spend money on things you can’t afford, and one strategy for doing that is to downplay the need for potential purchases. I can understand that.

The better strategy is to acknowledge that there is something better, but to still be happy with what you have. And, like before, that goes for more than just an iPad.

What Makes Them Pro’s

So after digitizing my thoughts about roasting your own coffee instead of purchasing it online, I’ve done the opposite the past month. See, we had to pack up the roaster during our move (oh yeah, we’re moving houses), so I couldn’t do it. Yes, this makes me a hypocrite and you should probably feel better about yourself because you’re not me. Aren’t you so smart.

Turns out, professional roasters really know what they’re doing. Who woulda thought that passionately working on your craft each day would make you better than the guy who passionately works for fifteen minutes or so a week. Plus having a coffee roaster that didn’t start out it’s life as a Ronco Rotisserie Chicken Roaster helps. In any case, the beans I’ve been getting the past month have been better in most every way. In a strange way this is a very good thing.

Now I know where I need to improve and where I’m doing well. I am getting good green beans, and this is a great start. Some of the professionally roasted beans clearly start out as good, but not great, greens. You can tell in the cup since they don’t absolutely sing, and since the roaster isn’t crowing about all the specifics of where the coffee comes from. Other times I have been able to tell because they actually say it’s from a large farm (such as La Minita in Costa Rica). These coffees are good, don’t get me wrong, but they don’t hold a candle to the great coffees I’ve been getting from places like PT’s Coffee and Terroir. My roasts don’t come close either.

I definitely can improve in my roast stability. That is, after the roast I find way too much variance between the beans in roast level, at least visually. It might be interesting to split up a batch into lighter and darker tones after roasting to see if there’s really a difference in taste. I imagine most of this variance is due to not having a slot-loading roaster. In order to load the beans into the roaster it must be cool (or at least it takes so long to load the beans it is cool by the time they are loaded). Since the roaster is starting from a low temp it is my hope that getting a slot-loading roaster will fix the variance I’m seeing.

In all this has been a very tasteful and insightful month. Oh, and I’m getting coffee from Square Mile next. Jealous?


March 2012
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