Good Work If You Can Get it

When I took my current job I said it would probably the last one I ever had where I worked for someone else. My idea was to learn to work for myself. But if I could find a company in Houston that worked like this, I’d go work for them.

From a high level, Google’s process probably does look like chaos to someone from a more traditional software development company. As a newcomer, some of the things that leap out at you include:

– there are managers, sort of, but most of them code at least half-time, making them more like tech leads.

– developers can switch teams and/or projects any time they want, no questions asked; just say the word and the movers will show up the next day to put you in your new office with your new team.

– Google has a philosophy of not ever telling developers what to work on, and they take it pretty seriously.

– developers are strongly encouraged to spend 20% of their time (and I mean their M-F, 8-5 time, not weekends or personal time) working on whatever they want, as long as it’s not their main project.

– there aren’t very many meetings. I’d say an average developer attends perhaps 3 meetings a week, including their 1:1 with their lead.

– it’s quiet. Engineers are quietly focused on their work, as individuals or sometimes in little groups or 2 to 5.

– there aren’t Gantt charts or date-task-owner spreadsheets or any other visible project-management artifacts in evidence, not that I’ve ever seen.

– even during the relatively rare crunch periods, people still go get lunch and dinner, which are (famously) always free and tasty, and they don’t work insane hours unless they want to.

Now the article this quote comes from is really a rant against Extreme Programming, mis-labeled as Agile programming. But this description just blew me away. How can Google live doing this? Especially the second one.

Why It Is Good To Be Married

It is good to be married because it gives you someone who will meet your needs when you need to be needy.

And it is someone you can curl up next to and soak warmth into your tattered and rent soul.

Life Update: I think I have all four friends back. I was running a temp, but it is gone now. My heart rate is back to normal most of the time. I’ve eaten about 1000 calories all week, but I’m getting my appetite back now.

Life Sucks

I’ve got a resting heart rate over 110. That’s laying in bed. I feel like I have a fever, but the thermometer doesn’t agree. And I’m nauseous to the point it be be better to start puking. I slept for 3 hours last night.

And it appears I’ve lost 4 friends in under 12 hours.

I’m going to try and get some sleep.

“Christian Art”

What is Christian Art? I consider myself a Christian and and Artist and have lately been wondering about the philosophy of Art. Looking at the Technocrati back links for my wife’s blog I found and interesting entry titled Christian Art on a new addition to my blog roll, intellectuelle.

I’m kind of coming in on the tail end of the conversation, but that won’t stop me for adding my thoughts, ill-formed though they are.

I’ll start with my definition of Art – with a capital A. Art is an act of creation in a medium. It could also be a product of that act.

Christian is an adjective for things having to do with Christ.

It is my belief God is the great artist, molding and guiding the world in the medium we call reality. He also knits us together in our mother’s wombs and molds and guides out lives. There is a great metaphoric picture in Romans 9:21 of God creating with patience lives that for noble and common purposes.

I also believe when the Bible says all humans were created in his image, the primary way we are in his image is our ability to create. Animals don’t make art. They don’t seek beauty. Only man does.

So all art is to some extent the product of the godness in all humans. But like all things it can be pure or it can be twisted. We live in a fallen world, where lies and distortion infuse everything and everyone.

As an aside lets look at angels and demons. In the Judeo/Christian system, angels and demons are the same thing in essence. They have the same abilities and qualities. But one is fallen and completely twisted, and one is pure to its essence, to what God created it to be.

Art can have technical quality and be evil art. Art can be pure and have poor quality. I think the biggest frustration with Christian art is its low quality. And I said in a previous post, why is it when the words “and crafts” is added to art it becomes cheesy?

Not all art is God’s art. Though it is a practice of his likeness, it doesn’t make it his Truth. Not all art is True. I once wrote an essay titled “Fiction Is Not True”. Should find that and post it. The point of it was everyone knows that the facts of a work of fiction are made up, but most people believe the world-view or theme of a work is true. That’s why people read great fiction. It shows them something of the human condition they don’t see normally. But many times even that isn’t True with a capital T.

So the question comes back to what is Christian Art? Is it art by Christians? Or is it art about Christ?

Part of that word usage is what you are trying to say. If you are referring to art created by Christians, it is fine to call it Christian art. If you are referring to art about Christ, it is fine to refer to it as Christian art.

Personally I’d use the term to refer to art about Christ, whether it was created by Christians or not. And I believe non-Christians can create Christian art. And Christians can create non-Christian art.

For example, a Christian singer might higher the best guitar player in Nashville to record guitar tracks on their new album. That guitar player might not be a Christian, but the songs he helps to make of the highest quality are Christian art.

Example of the other way. I think the Goth Swimsuit Calendar is art, but I don’t think it is Christian art. It really has nothing to do with Christ or telling his story. I don’t think it is anti-christ, though I’m sure there are Christians who would think so. But it really leaves Jesus out of the picture.

Now if you really want to have an interesting discussion, start with the question, “What is beauty?”

Good

OK, I need to talk about the word good. Do you know in the Oxford American Dictionary the word good has 9 main definitions and some of those have up to 4 sub-definitions? This is a word that is clearly hard to use.

Luke and Muslim Reaction to the Pope

In case you can’t tell, I’m reading the gospel of Luke right now. And after the passage I posted yesterday, Luke 4:14-30 struck me.

It struck me because of how again, the Jewish people of the time reacted in a way we would find strange, and in a way we see Islamic people reacting on the news.

A little background. This story is early in the story of Jesus’s life as told by Luke. He has just started his preaching ministry, gathered his posse of disciples and been traveling around Northern Israel. He was really popular and decided to go visit his home town of Nazareth.

He comes home and it is Sabbath day, meaning the day everyone goes to church. So he goes to church. And when a traveling rabbi (teacher) visits your church back then you let him speak. They handed him a scroll of the book of Isaiah, don’t know if this was on purpose, or if Isaiah had just come up in the teaching rotation.

Jesus opens the scroll and reads this passage:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

This is a fairly famous passage acknowledged to refer to the Messiah. Then Jesus says “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Which is essentially saying “I’m the Messiah, this passage is talking about.”

At first people are a little skeptical. Isn’t this Jesus, the son of the carpenter? We sure haven’t seen him doing the stuff the Messiah is suppose to.

Jesus then kind of goes off on them. Telling them they wouldn’t believe him anyway because no prophet is accepted in his home town. That even in the time of Elijah and Elisha, the people didn’t believe them. To find someone willing to believe, God had to go to the gentiles, to the infidels, to perform his miracles.

This really pissed off the people who heard this. I’m not sure if it was because he was claiming to be the Messiah. If he was claiming to be God, as some contend. Or if it was because he was insulting their faith. But it is the reaction that catches my attention.

28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.

They got mad and started a riot and were going to kill him. Kill him because he said something they didn’t like. Because he insulted their religion. Doesn’t that sound familiar?

I guess the question is, what does it mean. For one it shows Jesus fully understands the world-view behind Muslim reaction to the Pope.

It also makes me wonder if we in the West are so steeped in our apathetic, comfortable, secular world-view that we don’t understand how a challenge to faith can make someone mad, much less mad enough to kill. Part of that is our Christian heritage that says you shouldn’t kill people for insulting you. Instead you should turn the other cheek.

And it makes me wonder if we will ultimately win in this conflict of world-views. Since there is very little passion for anything in our country, except the pursuit of comfort and pleasure, will we stand against a people so committed and passionate as to sacrifice their lives and kill to get what they believe is important.

Biblical Truth You Believe and Don’t Know It

In our Western/American world we believe things. Some of those things are in our cultural DNA because they were in the Bible. Here’s a passage that kind of jumped out at me while reading Luke’s record of Jesus.

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them–do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Luke 13:1-5

Do you believe that the people in the World Trade Center who died were more deserving of death than those who didn’t? I don’t.

Jesus in the passage was talking to a group of people in the Middle East. They expressed their belief that something bad had happen to people because they deserved it. Jesus said that bad things happen to people and that doesn’t mean they are bad.

I wonder if out Islamic attackers think like the people who asked Jesus this question. To them the people in the towers deserved it. If not Allah would have saved them.

Christianity says that bad things happen to good and bad people a like. And our culture believes that and probably doesn’t realize it comes from thousands of years of Christian indoctrination.

A quote from Babylon 5 that I’ve always found interesting and that has something to do with this belief.

“You know, I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn’t it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.” – Marcus Cole, Ranger to Franklin, A Late Delivery from Avalon