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Recently, I saw a post on Facebook saying something like, “You can’t have an adventure without advent”, and I thought about my spiritual adventure, and what is in store for me this year.
Advent: that time in the Christian calendar when people await expectantly the coming of Christ, a time of preparation for the coming of a long expected guest. It starts today, in the middle of the holiday shopping season. For those all concerned about keeping Christ in Christmas, I suggest a good starting point is keeping a holy advent, quietly expecting the coming of something greater than various holiday cards and gifts.
I am expecting to receive a very special gift in the next few weeks, not on Christmas Day, not even during the season of Christmas, but during Epiphany. I am expecting a small group of friends to gather and give me important epiphanies. I do not yet know what these epiphanies will be.
This past year, I had a strong sense of God calling me to step up my game, to find new ways of proclaiming God’s love to all. I have spoken with my priest about it. Together with my priest, we’ve spoken with the Bishop and the Dean of Formation, and the Dean of Formation suggested that my priest arrange for this gift to be given to me.
The gift will come through a process in the Episcopal Church called a discernment committee. A discernment committee is a small group of people that meet regular over a period of months to help a person better discern what God is calling that person to. It is part of the process of discerning whether or not ordination as a priest is part of that calling.
The Discernment Manual of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut starts off
Jesus calls each of us without exception, and keeps on calling and inviting us at every moment of every day into a deeper and deeper union with him. He eagerly waits for us to say “yes” to his invitation to join him in his mission. Sometimes, his invitation to come with him wherever he leads comes as a complete surprise, like waking up and discovering that life has become exhilarating and fraught with meaning and urgency to share his life and love with everyone we meet. Sometimes his invitation to serve him and discover who he is unfolds slowly over time, like a slowly ripening fruit. God knows what each of us needs. He gets our attention in just the right way in order to call us to our ultimate joy and wholeness, and it doesn’t always go as we expect or plan. When we say “yes” to Jesus, we give up our own control and let God be in charge.
Later on it provides some helpful guidelines for the discernment committee:
"Try on" Just like shopping for clothes, try on new ideas. You don’t have to own them and you will like[ly] learn something.
I must admit, I hate shopping for clothes, so the metaphor may not be perfect, yet I also recognize it may be challenging for me to try on various new spiritual clothes as well.
I do not yet know what I will end up with at the end of the process, but I still have time before the discernment committee starts meeting. Advent is a time of expectation. I am expecting Jesus to come into my life in new ways this liturgical year. Yet it is a time of waiting and preparation, so I study and pray.
Another post on Facebook that recently caught my attention was a cartoon showing a man reading a letter, saying to his wife, “It’s from the church: I’m being called up to active duty”. This really resonated to me. It feels like this is the year that I get called up to a new level of active duty in my faith. It is a year that we should all be called up to a new level of active duty in our own beliefs.
I hope to share more about this ADVENTure over the coming months, and that my posts about this journey will help others in their journey.
Today, people are talking about the white male gunman in Colorado who killed three people on Friday, including a police officer. Some are suggesting that if he were black, the police officers would have killed him, but since he is white he was captured. Others are suggesting that the shooting illustrates why we need to be afraid of homegrown white male terrorists and not afraid of refugees. Some are noting the irony of a prolife gunman while others are saying that a shooting is no worse than all of the fetuses being aborted.
In one Facebook discussion a person commented that they were “with simplistic use of a tragedy to validate other viewpoints”. To a certain extent, I agree with that. Yet the person goes on to say “They are mutally [sic] exclusive”. Here is my response to that comment:
I think it is simplistic to believe they are mutually exclusive. Hate and fear drives extremism; hatred for people who live by different moral codes. Fear of those who live by different moral codes.
To the extent that people can focus on refugees, racism, and domestic terrorists at the same time, the commonality may be less significant. However too many people, especially in communications, focus on one topic to the exclusion of others, leading to distractions that allow other type of hatred and violence to flourish.
I’ve never been a big one for makeup, tattoos, are various forms of body decorations, but recently, Kim shared a post about glitter beards and I was curious about how they get the glitter to stay in their beards.
One of the first sites I came to talked about latex body paint. That’s not something I want to use in my beard. I can’t imagine what it would be like to get the paint out. However, rereading the article, it appears as if they were using latex body paint for people that don’t have beards to make a faux-glitter beard. A later article suggested that beard oil, hair oil, or even hairspray would do the trick.
I’m not sure when I would glitter my beard. It just isn’t a decoration I would normally wear. Perhaps if I were doing something special with my three daughters, I would consider it, but one is in Japan, one is in Boston, and one is at home, so I don’t foresee any opportunity to glitter my beard for them, and I really don’t think glittering my beard for work parties, political gatherings, etc., really fits. Maybe an Ingress gathering, but I’d have to have green glitter.
Putting aside beard glittering, I stumbled across an interesting article: “Tech Tats” Turn Wearable Devices into Cyberpunk Body Art. It pointed to work Chaotic Moon is doing in this area. It looks very interesting, but appears to be still more of a concept than a product.
The stories about Tech Tats often lead to discussions about the quantified self. This is an area I’m really interested in, merging my health care work and my technology interests. I probably won’t make it to the Quantified Self Meetup in NYC in December, but I’m following what they are doing.
For two years, I wore Google Glass, and while I found it interesting and somewhat useful, the biggest thing I found lacking was any sort of useful sensors. I would like wearable device that could track activity level, heart rate, blood pressure, O2 level, blood sugar levels, cortisol levels, etc. I would like to know how these change during a normal day. I’d like to have a baseline so that if my averages start shifting, I could be notified to investigate what might be going on.
I played with the Samsung Gears for a little bit and didn’t find it all that compelling. I’ve looked at the Withings Pulse O2, but it needs to be manually engaged to do a reading. It doesn’t seem quite ready for prime time.
All of this takes me back to the Tech Tats. Is it possible to build a continuous O2 monitor as a Tech Tat? What about continuous monitors for blood sugar or cortisol?
So, I looked a little more closely at the idea behind Tech Tats. It seems as if part of what they are using, at least for the prototypes is BarePaint - Conductive Paint. This paint comes with a warning,
Note: Bare Paint is not meant for use on skin!
Note: Bare Paint is not waterproof, but depending on what your application is you can paint over it with a waterproof paint or varnish. On the bright side this does make for easy cleanup.
Perhaps, you could paint a layer of latex body paint, then paint the circuits using conductive paint, and then paint over the circuits to make them water proof.
A simple idea would be to paint circuits that could be connected or not based on touching fingers together. These could be very simple circuits that light up LEDs when circuits are connected. They could even, potentially, be multi-person circuits; one person with the battery, others with LEDs.
Then, there is the idea of adding logic to the circuits. It seems like the ATtiny85 and related devices could easily be part of tech tats and provide the logic.
Of course, some of the real fun could come if you start adding Bluetooth to connect to a mobile device, RFID paint, or NFC connectivity. All of this, probably moves more in the direction of programmable highly interactive makeup for fancy parties, and not so much for quantified self experimentation, but it could be a stepping stone.