Happy Cob Tuesday. Today is sermon day for me, so I’m smoking some Country Squire Summer Breeze in my MM Morgan. This small and lightweight pipe is a great clencher, so it’s perfect to help the inspiration flow while writing.
“I want the whole Christ for my Savior, the whole Bible for my book, the whole Church for my fellowship, and the whole world for my mission field.” - The Revd John Wesley, Anglican priest
This is what a Gospel-saturated heart desires.
I own a great 2-in-1 laptop, a 2016 Dell Inspiron. This 13” Windows 10 machine switches easily to tablet mode by folding back on itself, which is great for giving Powerpoint presentations (I can use the stylus to mark up the slides as we go!), preaching (from MS Word in reading mode) and reading at my desk. The laptop configuration is also great for extended work times and heavy research, and those moments you really just want a mouse (lots of copying and pasting between documents, for example).
The disadvantages of my very capable laptop are basically size, weight, and battery life.
While not massive, it’s a bit too big to want to grab for a quick 30 minute work session at the coffee shop or while waiting for my kids to finish their extracurricular activities. The size also makes it feel intrusive to me to have it open in certain meetings or carry to the pulpit. Battery life is acceptable at about 6 hours of fairly heavy use, but it makes me nervous when traveling if I’m using my laptop for things like taking notes or watching movies.
I already use an Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017) tablet, primary for reading with a specific application (LOGOS Bible Study software). I also use it to have important resources at the ready for research and sharing during meetings, review and edit my weekly sermon document, triage emails, and review my calendar and task/projects lists. I’m using it to type this post (with a Bluetooth keyboard).
While I absolutely recommend the Amazon Fire tablets as media consumption devices, light web browsing machines, Alexa voice assistant interfaces, and very basic document editing, there are a few issues that have been frustrating for me when trying to get the most out of mine as a true secondary computer.
The first is simply performance. LOGOS gets really sluggish, which makes navigating multiple resources, highlighting, and copying and pasting difficult. This is the big one for me, and as LOGOS has developed it has come to need more resources than my aging Fire tablet can offer. Web browsing can be painfully slow at times (in fairness, it’s ok most of the time, as long as you don’t have a lot of tabs open), and there are some websites that simply crash the browser. There’s a lot of lag when switching between apps.
Second, screen size is an issue. 8” is a great for portability and doing one thing at a time (exactly what this tablet is designed for!) but you can’t put two apps side by side for research and writing. This is becoming more important to me as I think about doing actual work on a tablet.
Third, the app ecosystem on Amazon tablets is pretty terrible. While there a few popular apps available, many aren’t. YouTube, for example, must be accessed through the browser. There’s no native support for Microsoft Word or Powerpoint (although it is possible to download and install older versions). There are some hacks that can get you the full Google Play Store on the Fire tablets, but in my experience the Google software really slows the tablet down, and it’s based on very old version of Android anyways, so lots of stuff doesn’t work the way you’d probably like.
Because of these disadvantages, I started thinking about a lighter tablet that could make a capable secondary computer for light duty and travel.
I don’t need or want a full laptop replacement. There’s a place for a 13” screen, Core i7 processor, and 8GB of RAM in my life, and my laptop is working great for me right now. So I don’t need anything like an iPad Pro, Surface Pro, or Galaxy Tab S4.
Of course, I immediately started looking at the next level down from those: the basic iPad, iPad Air, or Galaxy Tab S5e. For a while I was really leaning toward the basic iPad, especially with iPad OS improvements coming soon.
Unfortunately, even the reasonably priced iPad and iPad Air become significantly more expensive if you want more than 64GB of internal storage. Considering the large amount of resources I use for Bible study, and how apps tend to eat up storage pretty quickly, I know I’ll likely want/need more than the bare minimum of storage pretty quickly…but Apple products were priced out of my range at those storage levels.
As far the Galaxy Tab S5e goes, it has some great features, but was still more than I wanted to spend on a secondary machine. I needed something more capable than entry-level, but I was still willing to sacrifice quite a few “premium” qualities, if I could find something with solid core functionality.
Enter the Galaxy Tab A 10.1”.
Here’s a $250 tablet (at Costco.com) that offers the perfect size screen, the latest Android OS (Pie), and solid middle-high specs. As far as I can tell, the main things I’m missing out by not going for a higher end tablet in the $300-500 range are:
The main things I like about the Galaxy Tab A 10.1” are the spec for the price, full keyboard and mouse support, windowed mode (so you can have a very desktop-like experience) and enough app selection to really make it the only machine I would need for short burst of work and/or while traveling.
I loathe to even dip my toes in the water of publicly critiquing a political or even simply a public figure (especially as a pastor and a priest) because emotions run so high and rational discussion is nearly impossible in the current cultural climate. At the same time, these people wield immense influence and I know President Trump in particular is widely listened to and respected in the Christian community.
Today President Trump accepted and republished a statement approvingly saying that he is loved “like he’s the King of Israel…like he is the second coming of God.”
As a Christian pastor and priest, I feel a responsibility to emphatically insist that regardless of how any group perceives President Trump and his policies, only one person can rightfully, truthfully accept such accolades, and that person is King Jesus Christ, God with us in the flesh and the savior of all people.
Matthew 24:4–5 (ESV): See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.
I’ve come to realize I’m just not really an Apple customer, even though I do appreciate the overall hardware design, reliability of the software, and security focus. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of small annoyances, for instance the terrible mail app (edit: that’s probably not fair–it just doesn’t work me as a very heavy email user with multiple accounts, need to deal with lots of attachments, etc), a frustrating keyboard, and a lack of value-focused hardware (and some software– looking at you, iCloud) which is important to me.
“All of us are called to embody the love of Christ, which is not bound by race, gender, or class. What I want, then, is to see the church become the family that Paul describes when he says that we should “carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). The burden of deconstructing racism and white supremacy should not be the sole province of black and brown Christians. It should belong to the whole family of God, which is comprised of people who believe the same Scriptures, confess the same creeds, and share in the common bread and the common cup.”
Today I got the August lectionary up at Anglican Daily Office. Took a little more work than I anticpated as I had test a few different formats/layouts to see what would work best on different size screens without complicating things. In the end I think I found something that works.
I made something today! Check it out: anglicandailyoffice.online You’ll find the texts for Morning and Evening Prayer from the 2019 Book of Common Prayer in an easy-to-scroll format for phones and tablets. I plan to add supplemental material, the lectionary, and additional offices as time allows.
There is no one more beautiful, more loving, more full of grace, more merciful, more truthful, more wise and just than Jesus, and it is so freeing to know what God is like–no longer shrouded in mystery, but revealed concretely and completely in Jesus. This challenges and changes me and—when I am in a place of contemplating it–energizes me for me ministry like nothing else.
I have had a great system for backing up photos for years:
So I have copies on my phone, the cloud, and laptop.
Now that Google has de-coupled Google Photos from Google Drive, that flow has been seriously broken. I’ll be switching to Microsoft OneDrive, which is simpler, more integrated into my OS, and and works as expected.
“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without Church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without contrition. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ living and incarnate”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
A wonderful reflection. I used to celebrate ad orientem (fading liturgical East) weekly at our Wednesday Eucharist. Properly understood it is a beautiful way to worship together, and as Porter notes, can actually facilitate a deep sense of common worship.
A comprehensive and clear introduction.
After 10 days traveling I’m ready to get back to my pipe and Bible time! With a new MM Shire churchwarden my wife got me for Father’s Day. Appropriately, some Country Squire Rivendell is loaded for its inaugural smoke.
The Texas country
Can be a pressure valve
On the crucible of the Phoenix city
For those that make the trip
No less teeming with life
Organic more than mechanical
Electric less than infused with fossil fuels.
Older ways, well trodden
One of the hardest things for me to do is to admit that I’m not okay. When someone asks me how I’m doing, my instinctive response is to say “great!” And I know I can always say that without lying. After all, I live the United States of America in first part of the 21st century.
I have a roof over my head, food on the table, a beautiful young family, and a church family that is supporting me in my vocational calling. Nevertheless, while just answering “great” is never a lie in that sense, it’s not always the most honest. Because sometimes I am drained, I am anxious, I am depressed, I am worried. Although I have so much, I still long for a word of Good News.
The reason I am longing for it isn’t because I’m not grateful for all that I have, but because I tend to keep trying to find my energy, identity, and security in the things and relationships around me instead of in the person and work of Jesus Christ. And I have found this to be true at every stage of my life: A a child, a single college student, a newly married man, as college minister, television producer (yes, I had a microscopically short career in television), when I have been full of doubts and full of faith, when I have been in-between local churches and as a parish priest. There is no time, no situation, no stage or station that I have experienced that I did not desperately need the Gospel.
I think this holds true for all of us. Whether you are homeless or a home-builder, self-deluded sinner or supposed saint, newborn or nearly to the end, exhausted or energized, we all need the Good News, because with out it, we will keep trying to to find that energy, identity, and and security in things that will only disappoint us in the end because one way or another they will not only fail to provide what we need on the deepest spiritual level, they are by necessity temporary.
Nothing from this world, even the good things, can sustain us past the point of death. And as human beings, we can’t survive on that kind of diet of constant disappointment and despair.
We need a life-giving Word
….a word that can free us from the tyranny of whatever situation we find ourselves in and give us hope. We need a word of life that that can free us not only from existential let-down, but that will result in real freedom from every spiritual or physical oppression.
From this week’s sermon.
I updated, then deleted my “now” page. It’s not fun or useful unless updated frequently, and doing that just felt like another task taking up mental energy and space.
Just realized my Fire HD 8 keyboard does Swype-style entry. Cool! I’m sure this is heresy to some of you out there, but I like the Fire tablet keyboard so much more than the iOS one 😱