MobileOrg push

I just spent the last hour and a half fighting with webdav, emacs, and MobileOrg. I thought that I had all of this settled a while ago, but, as before, org-mode just keeps surprising me with new functionality that I hadn’t yet realized that I needed. Now I can capture from my mobile, as well as update todo states.

Next up, I want to do the org-mobile-push from the emacs running on my slice, rather than from Aquamacs running on the desktop; and I want to dispatch it as a post-commit hook in my bare orgfile git repo.

Communion lesson | 15 October 2010

People who read this (if there are such people) have probably noticed the trendy little tag cloud in the bottom-right corner of the front page. I put it there mostly as an exercise in playing around with ikiwiki, the wiki compiler that generates what you see here. The unintended consequence has been a harsh light on the fact that I’ve posted much more about gaming and programming than about faith and scripture. These are the things that are supposed to be primary, but I pay them much lower attention than comparative trivialities.

I can provide all kinds of excuses for this (a lack of focus doesn’t imply a lack of esteem); but, in the end, my actions define who I am, not some abstract internal definition of self.

This bit of naval-gazing comes to a point now as I prepare for my upcoming lesson to be presented at our worship group this Friday. As is my pattern, I will attempt to prepare in a publicly-visible place in hopes that it will spur me to action and follow-through.

In our last meeting, Amir asked how often we were going to share communion together. Though Mark and I had discussed it before we separated into smaller groups, we only came to a position of “as often as is meaningful.” That can be a bit nebulous in practice, so last week we decided to pray about it separately and come back together on Friday to discuss it (and definitely at least share communion then).

For what it’s worth, I plan to make sure that I have suitable elements (bread and grape something) set aside and available whenever we host worship, so that we’re not physically constrained in the future.

In any case, all of this got me thinking that we could probably do with a lesson about communion: it’s history, purpose, and meaning, or some such thing.


I don’t have much for reference materials. I left most of my books on Christianity in the ’States back when we were ignorant about customs, so aside from my Bible I mostly just have the Internet. That’s fine in theory, but my aforementioned lack of faith-focused action means that I don’t have a lot of trust built up around online Christian reference material. I’ll do what I can, though.

Scripture passages

I keep wanting to jump back to assumed parallels with the passover meal, searching for explanation before question. In order to stop that, I’m going to focus on the gospels first:

  • Mark 14:12-25

  • Matthew 26:17-30

  • Luke 22:7-20

  • John 13:1-16 John’s gospel doesn’t deal with the use of bread and wine as a remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice, but talks about foot-washing as a symbol of servanthood. It might not be directly related to communion, but its presence at the same point in the timeline makes me think that I should be thinking about it.

  • 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

  • Exodus 12:1-28

Writings and such by John Piper.

  • Why We Eat the Lord’s Supper, Part 1 2 3

My glances over this so far focus a lot on transubstantiation vs consubstantiation vs symbolism, which isn’t really where I want to go with this lesson. There’s probably other useful stuff in there, though. (There might be other writings on communion elsewhere on the site, too.)

Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology

Alex sent me Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology this morning (awesome!) and pointed out the chapter that deals with communion.

  • BC sacrifices serve as a reminder of sin (Hebrews 10:1-4)

  • AD communion is a reminder of Christ’s death being the absolute sacrifice for sin

  • AD communion is a reminder of future celebration in Christ’s presence (do in remembrance of me points to the future, too, when Christ will again “drink of the fruit of the vine” with us)


Read the story of the Lord’s supper.

Luke 22:14-20.

Christ is celebrating passover with his disciples.

Read the story of the first passover

Exodus 12:21-27

Give a brief overview of the captivity of the Israelites in Egypt, the plagues, and the sparing of Israelite children.

  • Blood

  • Frogs

  • Lice

  • Flies

  • Livestock death (pestilence)

  • Boils

  • Hail

  • Locusts

  • Darkness

  • Death of the firstborn

One of the first institutions of the Israelites, predates the law.

The lamb provides salvation from death and destruction. As it did in the past, so it will. Christ’s followers get to share in the feast, but Christ does not: he is the lamb; the one who suffers for the salvation of others.

John 1:24-29 (John calls Jesus the lamb of God)

Jesus uses a fundamental tradition to teach, similar to how he uses parables.

Jesus asked us to share in the supper in remembrance of him. We remember his sacrifice when we perform it; but we also remember that we will be with him one day.

Luke 14 says “I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” and “I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

Matthew 14:29 is more specific: “I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

John 14:1-3 (go to prepare a place); Revelation 19:6-9 (marriage supper of the lamb)

Marriage is often used as an example of the relationship that Christ has with the Church. (Jesus describes it this way in parables in Matthew 22 and 25) We are betrothed, promised, or engaged to be the bride of Christ; he has gone to make a home for us, and will come to call for us one day.

Acts 2:43-47 (maybe communion for the early church?)

1 Corinthians 11:23-34 If nothing else, we should take away from this passage that we should prepare ourselves for the Lord’s supper, remember it as a sacred act, and remember that it is about believers coming together in unity with Christ. Always be mindful of each other and each other’s needs.

Communion for our group

I want to have the elements (bread and something made from grapes) available in our home whenever we host a gathering of believers. This way, we won’t be contrained if we feel led to share communion together.

I think (not necessarily correctly) that we should set aside a time each week, separate from the lesson, and definitely separate from the meal, for anyone to share communion who would wish to that day. This makes it available to any and all, while also making it easier for each to judge for himself whether he should partake. (See 1 Corinthians 11)

Servanthood as it deals with the passover

Amir asked us to pray for guidance on how to serve. Amazingly, this is also part of the passover meal that Christ shares with his disciples.

Talk a little about synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke) vs John’s gospel.

John doesn’t mention the Lord’s supper, but he places a big focus on servanthood.

John 13:3-17

Service is the very definition of a Christian life.

Acts 6:1-7

Shared culture of Mario

Despite an increasing catalog of experience, I am always surprised to find people who don’t share the same pervasive familiarity with game mechanics that I do. I’ve tended to play and discuss games with other people who play and discuss games. Most of the assumptions that are safe enough in such a circle aren’t as universal as we think.

When was the last time that you had to explain that jumping on enemies kills them? Or that you could go down pipes? Let alone what it means to circle strafe.

What is an RPG?

I recently (re-)listened to Active Time Babble episode V, which consists mostly of a discussion of the definition of the genre “RPG.” As is usually the case with this particular topic, there was no real definitive conclusion; but I think I might have stumbled on one for myself:

A role-playing game models the development of character skill as distinct from player skill such that the manipulation of this model is the primary expression of player skill.

Chrono Cross | 3 September 2010

I’m enjoying Chrono Cross quite a bit so far. The battle system is quite different from what I’m used to from a jrpg; and even though it seemed shallow at first, my first mildly difficult boss battle made me delve a bit deeper into it: the ability to take multiple actions per “turn,” as well as the ability to change the active character at will, let me use the “defend” command more than I usually do (that being ever).

I was afraid that Retronauts had spoiled a major plot point for me; but while I’m still aware of the general concept, I’m no longer certain of the details. I suppose that will leave me with a bit of surprise. (I don’t want to spoil the plot for anyone else, though, so I’ll leave it at that.)

The accents are already starting to get to me, though. Kid’s “Australian” isn’t too bad, but every time the “French” clown character comes out I can’t help but groan. I think my top request for a remake would be to subtle-down the dialog, even before upresing the rendering.

breakfast with Khan

My attempt to follow the Ramadan fast this year is going much better than last year. (I didn’t get violently ill after one day, after all.) I think it’s about ten days to go now, so I seem to be in the clear.

It’s been an interesting experience. I’ve learned a bit about myself, and about the centrality of food (specifically eating) to society. I haven’t spent much time with my coworkers during the fast: there’s no lunch, no coffee breaks…

Yesterday wasn’t so good of a day for me, both for completely unrelated reasons and because I hadn’t had enough water the night before. We were out of food, so I was at Tamimi to get something to eat for iftar. There was Khan: “Jon! Come have breakfast with me!” For once, it just felt right. I went with him, and shared iftar with Khan and his coworkers in the back of Tamimi.

It was awesome.


I found myself wanting to revert changes made in a previous git commit… but only changes to a specific file (whereas the commit changed multiple files). As usual, git has just the combination of tools that I needed:

git diff $commit ${commit}^ $file | git apply -

Thank you, git.

Radical Dreamers

I was unable to play Radical Dreamers on my DS. Absurdly enough, even the minimal audio-visual effects were too much for SnemulDS. No matter: moving to the Wii meant that Andi and I could play it together (more comfortably, anyway).

We’ve played through two scenarios so far. The game is amazing (in a “games are art,” hippie kind of way). Its presence in the Chrono series does a lot to justify the series’ classification as a classic, being so unique.

Andi was skeptical at first, but after about an hour of play time (halfway through the first scenario) she was remarking about how good it was; how it draws you in. This morning, she was the motivator behind going after another scenario.

I look forward to finding the rest of the endings, and am even more excited for Chrono Cross. (I might get it as early as Saturday!)

Spirit Tracks finished

After three days, including time spent at home, on the bus, and in the Mall of Arabia, I finally finished the final dungeon and sequence in Spirit Tracks. I’ve got to say, Spirit Tracks is awesome. I was excited for the game, yet still it exceeded those expectations. The dungeons were great, the final (tool) item is creative and fun, it was longer than I expected (but redeeming itself by making each step better than the last). It’s not just good compared to Phantom Hourglass. It’s not even just a good portable Zelda. This is a great Zelda game in the context of Zelda games, at least in the modern (post-OOT) scope of the series.

It’s all in the characterization of characters. The main cast is emotive, sympathetic, and believable. There’s some typical wackiness, but it’s never embarrassingly over the top. It’s just good fun, and it goes on for a good long time.

All that, and I’ve only purchased one train upgrade. I understand that there’s a good quantity of sidequest content to search down. I’ll probably take a break for a bit (it took me longer to get through this than it should have) but I can see tracking down the treasures and beefing up the train, just ’cause.

Next up: Chrono Cross. I very quickly judged the game as stupid years ago, but I anticipate being wrong about it. While I wait for a friend to bring it from the states for me, though, I might try out Away: Shuffle Dungeon for a bit.

second LISA submission

Last night I submitted my second paper to LISA. (The first was as coauthor for a paper that was not accepted). I had to hurry when I found out that the terms of submission had changed since last year, but at least I got it in (and by the third attempt, I had come to terms with my distilled “extended abstract”).

Now I have to do is wait to see if this paper is accepted. I should hear back by 1 July.