Living in a Western Bubble

This post by Michael Hyatt has had me in contemplation this morning.  My wife and I have talked quite a few times about taking our kids to visit  Shema, the child we sponsor through Africa New Life in Rwanda.  I want my kids to understand that God is at work, and in love with a world that is outside of their comprehension. The truth is that supporting a child- while meaningful- is still insulated.  What I've barely admitted to myself is that it isn't just my kids that need to go there.

I need it.

More importantly, I think God needs me to see how small my world is.  Though I can begin to understand it intellectually, I'm pretty sure it's not the same thing.


War on Cars in the City

I just read an interesting article on titled- Motorists to Urban Planners: Stay in your lane.   For me, the most interesting part is about cities waging war on cars-

Cities and cars share a conflicted relationship these days. Environmental concerns, growing traffic congestion and an urban design philosophy that favors foot traffic are driving many cities to try to reduce the number of cars on the road. In cities such as Seattle, Chicago, Toronto and Boston, some people go so far as to claim there is a "war on cars."

My commentary is thus:  These people are correct.  In urban settings, it is increasingly apparent that automobile use must evolve.  Transportation is cyclical.  In Portland, we are reviving the streetcar and slowly removing cars from strategic streets.  We are giving half of some streets to bicycles with large buffer zones on either side. Bike rack areas are jutting out into streets and Bioswales are installed which make strategic streets narrower.

In dense urban areas around the country, planners, residents, workers and recreational visitors, are sensing that cars  do not fit in as well as we once thought they did.  Suburbs are a great example of culture adapting to the use of cars, where most destinations are so far apart that you need to drive if you don't want simple trips to take up your whole day. This design is not present in downtown areas though, where street layout and major institutions have been in place since well before the rise of the automobile.

I am a daily cyclist, but we also own a couple of cars.  One older economy car that only gets out once a week or so, and a newer, modern SUV that fits our family which my wife drives daily.  We live far enough outside of the urban center that there isn't much that is within walking or biking distance in less than 20 minutes.

I think it's clear from paying attention to the news for the past couple of years,  that the automobile is and should be in decline.  That doesn't mean I hate cars, or  there isn't a place for them, only that we have constructed much of our culture economy and infrastructure around them.  More and more people are noticing that there is an increasing cost to relying on the internal combustion engine for so much of our transportation. I'm not a big fan of those costs.

I wonder how long it will be until owning a car becomes prohibitively expensive in the metropolitan areas for most people.  For me, it already has.  I work in downtown and I am saving $400+ a month when you count up the insurance, gas, car payment for a more reliable vehicle and parking.  The total cost of alternatives is less than $100 a month using public transportation.  If you ride a bike  it can be a much cheaper monthly once you buy the initial equipment.


I originally posted this on Nov. 22 2011. I was looking through older posts today and it seemed pretty useful for where I'm at. I hope that it is for you as well.


What a strange concept.

I have always found it interesting when a word seems to be primarily intended to differentiate.

light and dark

warm or cold

right-side-up or upside-down

So back to real. The idea of real presupposes that there exists something that is not real. Something that is in-fact the opposite of real.


Is "real" then interchangeable with the concept of truth? Notice I said that a thing that is not real is fiction, but I didn't say that it was a lie. There are certainly different types of things that are not real, but also not lies. A great work of fiction isn't likely intended to decieve, but perhaps to entertain, educate or edify. There is an important distinction however. It is not a true story.

I won't pretend to be a philisopher. My lack of correct terminology would give that away quickly. What I will say is that it seems that people operate under a certain set of common principles that assume some sort of truth that is real. Naturally, there would also be "rules" that would be extensions of these

Here are a few examples-and while many of us might break these on a regular basis, we'll reserve judgement on that for now.

People are special and life is valuable.

People should care for those that are vulnerable.

People should keep their word.

People should tell the truth.

People should not view themselves as more important than others.

When someone acts in a way that is contrary to these basic ideas, it is generally understood that they are doing something that is not considered "good". In fact, you could say that they are doing something that is wrong.

I've heard a lot of arguments that this isn't the case, that truth is subjective, but I've never seen convincing evidence to back it up. In fact, an individual who isn't following the above guidelines is likely doing so to the detriment of someone else. The argument falls apart for most people around the time they become the "someone else".

I have 3 children ages 8, 6 and 3. Right about now, the idea of selflessness is tough to come by. I have to constantly remind them that people are the one thing that matters most. Not toys, not tv, not food, and not stuff.

People are reality. Hearts, souls, spirits, feelings. I don't doubt that these things are real though I don't have proof that they exist, and by inference, that they matter.

What a weird thing to wrestle with. The one thing that seems to universally make sense to humans (at least the ones I know) is that we should be kind and respectful towards each other, but these qualities only matter if the intangible parts of people I listed above are "real".

Therein lies the idea that I've been handling and trying to conceptualize.

What if the intangible part, the emotions, soul or spirit, are the part that is Real?

What if all of the day-to-day objects and physical life are less Real than the spiritual/emotional things that we each experience?

I want to explore this more because I think it has the potential to really affect what we do with our lives. Logically, it makes most sense to spend our resources- time and energy, on the things that are most important. Giving our best away to a facade, or to clever distractions is tragic.


Today is the 4th of July. It’s the first day this week that has felt like summer in Portland Oregon. I posted a photo in late May called Almost June. Sadly, the last few days I could’ve replicated the same shot. I don’t think that I’m alone in my back-of-mind doubt of global warming. I say this mostly tongue-in-cheek. I’ve been riding a bicycle to work most every day for the past 3 years and I can tell you that the first summer that I rode full-time was much warmer. Hot is really the right word. I would end up with salt stains on my shirt almost every day. Oddly enough, the winter was much more of contrast that year too. There was a week of 8 degree mornings with the wind chill. It took 30 minutes for my toes to thaw out once I got to the office. As a daily bicyclist, you become much more aware of the weather.

This last couple years have been milder. Perhaps my data sample is just too small, but it feels like it is getting cooler in the summers and warmer in the winters.