(Mostly) recovered, but…

Thankfully, after the strong bout of flu I got last weekend, I am starting to recover. The fever started receding Monday. On Tuesday I got back to the office (remember seeing Rev. S. not exactly glad about my Monday forced absence?), but this time it was Rev. S. the sick one. Hearing him cough repeatedly, like a car being ignited, was painful. He’s now at home and with strict orders to rest. He already had to excuse himself to people from Peru whom he was supposed to meet in a trip to Lima and Trujillo next month, because the doctors told him in no uncertain terms that he had to cut down his schedule or else. To complete the not so good news, my wife is also having the flu now, only that she’s aching in the throat, and that’s obviously very unpleasant. Please pray for both Rev. S. and my wife.

On other news, I did not post yesterday’s devotional out of time constraints. I plan to post it later today.

An Idea Whose Time has Come

My fellow namesake Ed considered two weeks ago on his blog the question of ministering to geeks/coders. Almost immediately Josiah jumped in and called for a fresh relationship with our fellow geeks.

As usual, my office is a sorry mess of important things that never get done, buried under an ever flowing sea of urgent things “due yesterday” and constant interruptions, so this slipped away somehow despite the fact that I really intended to blog about this. And this idea is one whose time has come.

As a Christian, and a technology-minded one at that, I feel the duty and responsibility to offer some kind of Christian witness to my fellow geeks. I can confirm the statements made by Ed and Josiah about the state of the souls of the geeks they talk about. They are people who often are isolated, cynical, extremely abrasive, often with an extreme prejudice against Christianity, and in dire need of a Christian witness. They need the Lord Jesus Christ and His blood as much as we do.

Furthermore, and although you never should expect too much, I saw a growing trend in Slashdot and other examples of “geek” culture: It is now much more frequent to see Christianity defended against flames or attacks in a Slashdot thread or discussion. There is certainly hope.

What about role models? Well, we have certainly a battle here. For instance, we’ve seen our own Linus Torvalds being quite disrespectful about religion and Christianity (see his comment about being a “god”, although he regretted it later; his communist parent, and his general lack of respect for religion); Eric S. Raymond is a neo-pagan Wiccan and rabidly anti-Christian; and Richard M. Stallman is a dogmatic atheist. And there are many people who were raised in devout Christian homes but later walked away from faith. On the other hand, we have people like Larry Wall and Professor Donald Knuth unapologetically confessing their Christianity, so there’s hope too.

I really don’t know what to do or say. But I am certain we need to do something and the opportunities are ripe. Please pray with me on the matter.

Grounded and with the flu

This was written yesterday:

The weddings were miserable. I went to the reception for the civil weddings on Friday evening, and there were so many strangers I had to greet… seriously, this is a situation I absolutely loathe.

The Saturday was even worse. It was really cold and my wife, even though she used a nice black velvet dress (and she looked stunning!) was shivering. Later I was informed that the temperature that night was 4 C (that’s 39.2 F for you Americans). We went later to the reception and the room was awful, and cold. The windows were open, and as is usual here, no building is neither insulated nor heated, so we had to endure the cold. The DJ were booming Tex-Mex music at insane dB levels.

I asked my wife to leave at repeated times, and she said every time, “wait a little bit more, it’s my brother’s wedding!” But there was a point into which the whole thing was unbearable and I simply had to enforce my authority and told her that we were leaving. She understood it, and we left. When we arrived at home, we simply crashed our bed.

I woke up on Sunday with fever, shivers, and a major headache. Additionally, I felt sick on my stomach. I spent all the day on bed, eating nothing but a sandwich and boiled rice, drinking only water and orange juice, and with Tylenol and Aspirin. Thankfully, today I woke up much better.

However, I wasn’t still fully recovered, and thus I had to call Rev. S. to tell him I was sick. He wasn’t exactly glad to learn the news. But the good news is that I’m practically recovered, and that I plan to go back to office tomorrow. What a weekend!

One Wedding and…

… simply too many funerals. The Office of the Attorney General found out that there were many duplicate entries in the list of casualties of the recent Ykua Bolaños fire. After pruning out duplicates, it seems that the official amount of deceased people is 369. There are a lot of injured ones and at least one suicide related to the tragedy. Please keep praying for our country and for all the bereaved.

While this sad event prompted many –both within and outside our borders– to an unprecedented outpouring of help, relief aid and generosity, there are also the not-so-bright spots. There are already a lot of scammers who would trick people into thinking they were making donations for the victims, when the money went to the scammer’s purse instead. Also there are many left-wing organizations who are trying to organize a march of protest, concealing their true identity and ideology in order to appear as non-radical.

But there’s one wedding! As I write this, my brother-in-law and her fiancée are getting married in the civil wedding. (Paraguayan weddings 101 for you English-speaking people: You “get married” actually twice; you have the civil wedding, officiated by a Justice of Peace or a Civil Registry officer, and this makes you married under the law; and the religious wedding, officiated by a pastor/priest and the one that makes you married in the eyes of the [Roman Catholic] Church and therefore the eyes of most of the people. The civil wedding is the preamble of the religious.)

Well, my wife had to go to my in-laws’ home to clean because her brother would get married and after the civil wedding, he wanted to have a small reception at his home. She has five other siblings, but no one was available to help!, so it was left to my wife the task of helping her aging and frail mom to clean out the living room and other partying quarters.

You can’t even begin to imagine how upset I am for all of this. My inlaws are a very large family, and yet, no one was willing to help. The bridegroom is in part guilty, since he wanted so much to have receptions after both the civil and religious ceremonies, and I don’t even begin to mention how deeply buried into debt he is because he wants to have a party and a big church wedding. I am deeply upset because my wife is not supposed to spend 12 hours cleaning the soiled rooms of my inlaws’ home. And I am forcing to stop now because I could go on and on and on rambling to no end in sight…

Now for more pleasant news. Josiah was very kind in sending me a Gmail invite. I’m delighted to have a Gmail account and I plan to do lots of nifty experimentation with it. Tomorrow I have to give a talk to InterVarsity Paraguay (local name is “Grupos Bíblicos Unidos del Paraguay”, GBUP, or United Bible Groups of Paraguay) about the inductive study of my favorite Bible book, the Book of Ecclesiastes. Even though is in “off-limits time” (Saturday morning) I really look forward to it. InterVarsity is the most enduring influence in my spiritual life and since now they are on rather difficult times, I am glad to help them in this way.

There are so many subjects I could blog on but there’s only so much time in your life. Perhaps I would add something else later. See you till then!

Devotional – August 4, 2004

Thus says the Word of God:

Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
Look and see
if there is any sorrow like my sorrow,
which was brought upon me,
which the LORD inflicted
on the day of his fierce anger.
“From on high he sent fire;
into my bones he made it descend;
he spread a net for my feet;
he turned me back;
he has left me stunned,
faint all the day long.

(Lamentations 1:12,13, ESV)

The recent Ykua Bolaños tragedy has shaken our community down to the core. For a lot of families and people, life will never be the same. So many loved ones, friends and family are tragically gone, having died burnt by the unforgiving flames of greed and lack of adequate prevention. For many, life has become an absurd joke, a burden, an unbearable pain not worth facing nor overcoming. For all those reasons it can be expected that many pepople would ask the question asked by the enemies of the sons of Korah: “Where is your God?” (Psalms 42:3,10).

Today we can experience in a tangible way how extreme is the tragedy of sin, which introduced pain and death into human existence. Today we see why sin in all its forms quickens the “fierce anger” of the Lord, and why humankind, all of us included, will never be able of even try to get right with God using our feeble efforts. But today we could also see God’s love and mercy in a tangible way in the commitment and struggle of several pastors, brothers and sisters of different congregations who freely gave themselves to offer spiritual help, counsel and support to so many bereaved or injured people; today we saw God’s love operating in the selfless help of so many firefighters, paramedics, and service personnel; we saw God’s love move through so many support gestures from many parts of our country and the whole world, freely given without asking anything in return.

But the most important thing is what the text is saying to us. God is not a merciless tyrant who looks from above to us as the master puppeteer. He knows the pain of so many mothers without their children, so many widows, so many children without their parents. God knows the sorrow which was brought upon us, because he was next to those who were gone and those who are suffering; and because He also saw his beloved Son Jesus die, a victim of the horror of the sins of all of us. But this is also our hope; because our Lord overcame the last foe to give us hope, and so that all this pain might be over one day, thrown away in the victory of God’s love.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Almighty and eternal God, who reconciled the world with you in Jesus Christ, out of love and for your glory: forgive our sins and send your Holy Spirit, the Comforter, so that all those stricken by grief may have the comfort that only faith in your Son Jesus Christ can give, and thus give witness of your love and mercy to this world which needs you so much. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

KDE Stuff

I’m glad to report that I was able to finish my part of the Spanish KDE translations yesterday. I’m translating just a small part of KDE (kdetoys) but I did not anticipate how much it meant to a lot of people. I am thankful to be able to contribute back, albeit in a small way, to Free Software.

In other news, my little writing about KDE vis-à-vis the GNOME series at OfB.biz is online since last Saturday. I hadn’t had the chance to blog it at the time, and then it slipped out of my mind under the usual deluge of things to do I call my job. Read “Five Points for KDE” here.

Give me your hand…

Back in the day, when it was time to print out the invitations for our wedding ceremony, G. and I decided that we would not put a Bible verse on it. The verses we considered relevant were too trite and commonplace, and to omit them wasn’t necessarily the end of the world. Instead, we put a beautiful poem by the Nobel Prize winner, the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral:

Dame la mano…

Dame la mano y danzaremos,
dame la mano y me amarás.
Como una sola flor seremos,
como una flor, y nada más…

El mismo verso cantaremos,
al mismo paso bailarás.
Como una espiga ondularemos,
como una espiga, y nada más.

Te llamas Rosa y yo Esperanza,
pero tu nombre olvidarás,
porque seremos una danza
en la colina y nada más…

Give me your hand…

Give me your hand, and we shall dance;
Give me your hand, and you’ll love me.
We’ll be like just one flower,
Like a flower, and nothing more…

We shall sing to the same verse,
You shall dance to the same step.
Like a wheat spike we’ll undulate,
Like a spike, and nothing more…

Your name’s Rose, and mine’s Hope
but you shall forget your name
because we’ll be a dance
in the hill, and nothing more…

The English translation is very literal, by me, and executed trying to reflect as much of the original Spanish flavor as possible. For a more “professional” translation, you might check Ursula K. Le Guin’s translation of the same poem here.

A view from Falujah

Rae has an insightful letter from a Marine who is on duty in Falujah. I remember reading somewhere that Michael Moore asked Bill O’Reilly, “Would you send your children to Falujah?”. Well, here goes an answer:

To be frank, [Islamic fundamentalist elements in Falujah] will never accept a peaceful coexistence with free people. Their rhetoric and will to enforce their extremist beliefs are mutually exclusive with anything but direct conflict. We will be fighting them until a clear winner is determined.

Like so many of history’s failed villains, these terrorists truly believe that free people can be broken and do not possess the will to persevere in the face of real adversity…

There is no reasoning with these groups. In fact it is alarming that mature nations have succumbed so quickly to their terror tactics and have withdrawn their troops in the face of threats. No doubt it is a cultural issue because it is impossible to fathom how these nations can believe that the very people who have acted so wickedly against them and compelled them to bend to the enemy’s will on a globally humiliating stage are now capable of restraint and possibly compassion. The unfortunate reality is that by breaking ranks, these nations have diminished their own security and those of other nations committed to fight terrorism around the globe.

The rest of the letter is equally priceless. Read it here.

Update on the Sunday tragedy

The tragedy of last Sunday keeps hurting deep into our society. There are simply too many people who are acquainted with, or are related to, some victim. Right now the dead count went officially 347, with 275 bodies officially identified over 40 people not identified, and 28 people burned totally beyond recognition in such a way that only a DNA test can conclusively establish their ID. There are about 270 injured now in hospitals (total count of injured people is over 500), with at least 10 of which are in critical condition and they are not expected to make it tonight.

It is increasingly evident that the supermarket owner ordered the gates locked to avoid looting and people going without paying, while he was sneaking out with the day’s money. There are already several people who are in dire financial straits, unable to pay for their loved ones’ funeral and burial, and other people who lost their breadwinners.

Some of our pastors are working round the clock in 6 hour shifts to provide spiritual assistance and counseling to people.

The supermarket owners were imprisoned and all the board of governors of the supermarket company’s were indicted under charges of murder (save one, who was charged with failure to provide due assistance in an emergency). An order to seize the owner’s assets to an amount up to US$ 10,000,000.- using the strict exchange rate, and US$60,000,000 if you use a compensated exchange rate.

Pray for all of our country, and that God’s mercy and love may be shown through His people to those in need.

Tragedy in Asunción

I was told by Rev. S. that I should show up in church services a little bit more frequently, so I stayed there after teaching Sunday School. The service was the usual glitzy show of drum, amplifiers, high volume and low quality and spirituality. After enduring it, I called my wife and she asked me to stop by the supermarket on my way back home. While riding of the bus, I saw a fire truck with all the sirens going on madly, and I thought it was just another fire.

While in the supermarket, I saw people crowded on the TV sets on sale there. Apparently, there was some breaking news that warranted that the TV networks stop their usual Sunday programming. I went nearer the TV sets to see what was happening, and I saw that there was a huge fire somewhere. Ok, I thought. I’ll check it out at home. After my shopping, I walked home and turned on the TV, and I just began to realize the magnitude of what happened.

All out of a sudden, a loud explosion was heard inside one of the supermarkets of the Ykua Bolaños chain, and all hell broke loose, People stampeding trying to get out; many dead by fire; and many trapped, who died shortly thereafter after the roof crashed.

The death count, as I am writing this, is over 300, including at least one pregnant women, a baby and several children. Many of the deceased are unidentified. The injured are just too many, and like the dead, many of them are unidentified, their features burned beyond recognition. There are still bodies to be retrieved from the supermarket, but there are also fears that the whole structure would collapse any time soon.

Several hospitals of the Asunción were converted into makeshift triage posts, helping as much as they can. They are literally flooded with patients and hospital beds are scarce now. The scenes showed by TV were simply harrowing and gut-wrenching.

As for other details, well, there were simply too many things that went wrong. There are strong, substantial allegations that once news of the fires reached the owner of the chain, a Mr. Paiva, ordered the gates closed “to prevent looting”, thus trapping many people. The fire alarm did not have a battery backup power supply, so it couldn’t go live when the power was cut. The roof collapsed suspiciously too soon.

And I pray I might be wrong on this regard, but it was the most crowded time in a supermarket: the Sunday noon, when people go there to buy groceries and ready-made food, and eat at the annexed eatery, so I suspect a bombing or sabotage. (Update: Apparently it was due to a gas leak.)

President Nicanor Duarte ordered a two-day national mourning period with no activities. Tomorrow is also a day off from classes in all schools.

Please pray for all the victims and their families. Thanks to our Lord, I am able to confirm that all of our families (my wife’s and mine) are safe and sound. I just spoke with Rev. S. by phone and he confirmed that so far no one in neither our Baptist School nor Church was harmed; but everyone here is shaken.

Additional coverage from the AP is available here.

O Weekend!

Finally the week is over. The week was so hectic I didn’t even had the time to post as frequently as I wanted. Even more, I didn’t have the time to do most of the things I wanted. Now I’m just relieved.

I plan to go on with my part of the KDE 3.3 translation and finish it any time now. Meanwhile, I’ve sent a sidebar for Tim’s article about GNOME. Hope they are a nice addition to his commentary.

Gnome or GoneME ?

I saw today Tim’s article Why GNOME’s Got it Right on Open for Business.

This comes as a nice complement to Ed’s thoughts on the matter. It is always nice to see these points debated, because I feel that GNOME sorely needs a little re-orientation. (Flash: I saw a good writeup by Ed on OfB.biz… and the whole thing got Slashdotted for good measure!)

Not the one to stay still, I’ve written up my own opinion on the matter. Expect it to appear in OfB.biz any time now.

Devotional – July 28, 2004

Thus says the Word of God:

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:14, ESV)

Paul the apostle talks about his background and his religious and intellectual credentials some verses before; he certainly had “reason for confidence in the flesh”. But he also told us that it lacked any meaningful importance in light of the highest importance of the calling that consumed his life with irresistible passion. However, it seems that not all of the Apostle’s background was “rubbish”, since it is frequent to read how the Apostle applied illustrations drawn from athletic and military life to Christianity.

And this text is no exception. Paul compares himself to an Olympic runner, willing to leave everything behind for the sake of glory and the laurel crown. Like the life of an Olympic athlete, Christian life is a constant struggle that must be grounded in a discipline that is both strict and full of purpose. The Christian is not someone aimlessly wandering through life, but a focused ahtlete with a well-defined goal, called to deny himself in countless personal sacrifices for the sake of reaching the goal.

This text reminds us of Proverbs 24:16, which proclaims that “the righteous falls seven times and rises again.” It is a text that speaks of an iron-clad, absolute and unique determination, a resolve which acknowledges obstacles in the road, but that is also willing to deal with them, because the athlete is moved by the overcoming force of God’s call in Jesus Christ.

May our loving Father give us the same passion that quickened Paul the apostle, so that we might run with the strength of the Spirit towards the goal of the highest call of his Son Jesus Christ.

Almighty and Eternal Father, who give life to the dead and call into existence the things that do not exist: grant us the strength of the Holy Spirit, our Lord and Giver of Life, so that we might run towards the goal set by your Son, and thus be worthy of your calling and stand as faithful witnesses of your Gospel in the way of our lives. By Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


This weekend can be labeled as really crazy. I’ll explain why.

Last Friday everything was in its usual frenzy. I was in a hurry and all worked up, trying to finish the church bulletin. My hair was very long since I hadn’t had time to get a haircut in the preceding weeks, and I couldn’t take it anymore. Furthermore, that Friday I was told that I was supposed to preach at the church’s Sunday evening service. Great.

My wife told me of a new hairdressing/salon that was near my home. For me, it was absolutely necessary to get a haircut with the least loss of time, so I asked my wife to ask there whether they cut men’s hair as well as ladies’. If they said that they didn’t, then I would get a ride to go to some barber shop downtown. But that beauty salon said they did men’s haircuts, so I went there. They were open till 7pm, and I was scheduled to leave not earlier than 6pm, so I’d better leave office as fast as I could.

Before I left, I got an email with an urgent translation request. It was some 27 pages of dense accounting jargon in Spanish that needed to be translated to English, by Monday, naturally. I wanted to retain the customer and also needed (sorely, I might add) the money, so I had to accept the job. I had a translation to prepare and a sermon to deliver before the end of the weekend. And I was supposed to get a haircut…

6pm arrived having finished the church bulletin just barely. I was hurried, so I did not “close shop” as thoroughly as I wanted. When I arrived at the beauty salon, they were expecting me. There, Miss M. made me sit down in one of the chairs, and started the haircut. I explained her that I just wanted a normal guy’s haircut, pretty standard and boring stuff. And then, OUCH!

She got a scissor with 3-inches long blades. The blades were not sharp enough, so they were literally plucking out my hairs. Besides being incredibly painful and annoying, Miss M. was sloooow. She was leaving too much hair, the hair was not being cut evenly, and she was giving me a lot of pain. Additionally, she was talking that “here we also give massages to all kind of people… sometimes one needs to relax…” red light here. Testily, I replied “so, do you do reflexology?” to which she replied, “yes, we do those kinds of massages for mental fatigue…”

The lady obviously was not an expert hair stylist, and I had serious doubts about my coming there. She finally stopped, and I paid, and left. I was extremely angry, because my hair was very messed up, I lost my valuable time, and I was under extreme pressure to deliver in two fields.

I woke up on Saturday, and when I looked myself in the mirror I felt instantly rebuked by our Lord for joking about ladies with the “bad hair days”. I was having a “bad hair day”. I was extremely angry for having lost my time to get such a joke of a haircut, and having to appear in the pulpit the next day. Furthermore, I was grounded, doing the translation, so going downtown for a barbershop was out of the question. The fact that it was Saturday (the busiest days for barber shops and hair salonns) only helped to worsening my situation.

My wife saw me that way and tried to lighten me up, but my anger was too much. Then she, with the loveliest of glances, told me, “Eduardo, why don’t we pray about that? And after we pray, we’ll have lunch, and then we’ll go to Mr. R. for a haircut. Deal?” As usual, my wife is Wisdom herself personified… I said yes, tried to calm myself, and went on.

After lunch we got a cab and went to Mr. R’s barbershop, located some 14-15 blocks away from home (near my father-in-law’s home). Mr. R. welcomed me very nicely, sat me on his chair, and in 20 minutes was done, giving me an excellent haircut. To say I was relieved was an understatement.

Then I went back home, and went on with the translation. By 9.30pm I was finished and was able to rest. At Sunday morning I went to church to teach Sunday School as usual, and then went back home. Had a nice meal cooked by my wife, and then went to the study to hammer out my sermon. At 3.30 I had it ready, and went to the bedroom. We watched a nice movie, then I dressed, went to church, preached.

By the grace of our Lord, the sermon was very well received. When I came home, I was exhilarating. All was over, and I was thankful to the Lord for his everlasting mercies, helping me even in the midst of great pressure.

Nice evening, huh? 😀

35 questions

Saw this on Tim’s blog and I thought I might just join in.


Roger Olson, The Story of Theology.
Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason

Mostly because I need to read them. It is awfully hard to find time to read books when you’re married.

The logo of our computer provider on a blue background.

Trivial Pursuit

Christianity Today, World, National Geographic, The Atlantic Monthly.
Used to be the old Byte (pre-1990s).

Dewy grass in the morning.

Dark navy blue. In a distant second and third: Light grey and beige.


Don’t have any.

My library and the backup CDs of my work.

Chocolate and Dulce de Leche.

Only in my wishes. I do not drive.

My wife does. 😀

Cool. However, storms in America used to scare me.

The famous Tereré, which is an infusion made with Yerba Mate and cold water.

September 18.

Onions, garlic, sweet peppers, garlic, corn, tomato, lettuce, potato.

Canon Theologian of a Reformed Anglican Cathedral.

Just like I have, dark brown, almost black.

In fact I am 🙂

Let’s see: The Lord of the Rings series; Master and Commander; Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V. Very difficult choice, indeed.

Usually, yes. (ditto, Tim)

Nothing; She is very stringent on that regard 🙂

don’t have any.

Figure skating, gymnastics.

Harm to my family.

Victoria’s Requiem Mass by Tomás Luis de Victoria; also Scandinavian Nights and Made in Japan by Deep Purple.

I hate TV. Perhaps JAG would be an exception.

Hamburgers, like some fellow down here makes them, they’re delicious 🙂

Firenze, Italy.

elrohir has photos of Master and Commander sailing ships (switching randomly). Sombragris has a photo from Port Orange (beautiful).

I don’t eat at McDonald’s, sorry.

Difficult question… If I were in the U.S. I would say Applebee’s.

Caesar Michael (but in Spanish: César Miguel)

Pipe organ.

That 80’s music

I saw this post in Rae’s blog about some 80’s favorite songs and, strangely, it stroke a chord.

Looking back to the 80’s, I am surprised to find pop music that was of actually good quality, even if it had some objectionable content. I find that today there are lots of “retro” radio stations, and ads are filled with 80’s music. Why today’s pop have to be of such a bad quality?

But I digress. Here’s my very partial list of 80’s songs:

    A-ha: The blood that moves the body – Take me on – Stay on these roads

  • Al Corley: Square rooms
  • The Alan Parsons Project: Don’t Answer Me – Eye in the Sky (and many others)
  • Alphaville: Big in Japan – Sounds like a Melody
  • Camouflage: Love is a Shield
  • Duran Duran: Save a Prayer
  • Erasure:: A little respect – Oh L’amour
  • Europe: The Final Countdown
  • A Flock of Seagulls: The more you live the more you love
  • Hall & Oates: Maneater
  • Huey Lewis and The News: I Want a New Drug
  • Laura Branigan: Gloria – Self-control
  • Men at Work: Overkill – Down Under
  • OMD: Enola Gay and many others
  • Peter Schilling: Major Tom
  • Queen: Radio Ga Ga – I want to Break Free
  • Thompson Twins: Doctor! Doctor! – Hold Me Now
  • Traveling Wilburys: Handle With Care – Runaway
  • Ultravox: Dancing with tears in my eyes

There are many, many others, but let this list suffice for the time being. What do you think ?

(Update: Another post with follow-up (i.e., more songs).

The Shortest Upgrade in History…

Yesterday I’ve upgraded to KDE 3.3 Beta 1. Well, it turned out that yesterday KDE 3.3 Beta 2 (“Kollege”) was released. Jean-Christophe Fargette had the Slackware packages ready in a matter of hours, and after downloading, I’ve upgraded again today !

All I can say is that so far I’m having no crashes at all, no wasted resources, and a very nice preview of what KDE 3.3 is going to be. This release is exceptional. Kudos to the KDE hackers!

By the way, I’ve checked out from KDE CVS the kde-i18n modules. I plan to translate, as usual, kdetoys into Spanish during next week.

Devotional, July 21

Thus says the Word of God:

“I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.”
(Psalms 119:30, KJV)

Each verse of Psalm 119, that jewel full of praise to the Word of God, is a complete sermon waiting to be discovered, full of incredible spiritual riches. And the text that is today under our study is no exception.

The Psalmist reminds us how important is to set the truth as our lifestyle and badge of fidelity to God. This is truth in the biblical sense: truth as faithfulness, as a lifetime commitment. It might seem unimportant; but we only need to remember that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Truth Himself (John 14:6); that truth is identified with the very Word of God (John 17:17), and this truth makes us holy (John 17:17) and free (John 8:32). Truth is not only an intellectual notion of “adequacy between reality and the intellect”, but a lifetime commitment that sets the full course for our life, leading us to honor God in our being and in our actions.

Besides, the Psalmist also reminds us that the only way to live embodying the Truth is by using the “judgments” of God, that is, His will as is revealed in His Word, as a guide put before us as our north and compass. Only with the Bible, the Word of God, we will be able to live the Truth as a way of life.

May God help us to obey His judgments, his Will, now and in every moment of our lives, so that we might be steadfast signposts to a world that lost his way.

Almighty Father, our God, in whose old judgments we find comfort and hope: allow our lives to reflect the Truth made Flesh, your Son Jesus Christ, so that with the help of your Holy Spirit we might be able to show Your way to those who wander in the darkness of sin. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


I’ve finished editing part III of the Stealth Desktop series and just emailed Tim all the files. Let’s hope it’s good.

Now I plan to write the Devotional that is going to be with our church’s weekly Prayer Bulletin. As was the case last Wednesday, I plan to post here an English version.

Rev. S. felt sick this morning and went to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with an incipient peritonitis at his colon. Thankfully there was no perforation yet, so he was sent home with strict orders to rest and take his medication. Rev. S. was way too much stressed and tired because of several issues at our church.

When he talked to me, Rev. S. told me he was prescribed with ciprofloxacin, and his blood was taken for some quick tests at the lab, whose results the technicians were very reluctant to tell him. I suspect that besides the quick tests of this morning, Rev. S.’s blood is now being cultured to show evidences of bacteriemia. Please pray for him.

Christian Spammers Should be Disciplined

Tim shared with us a terrific idea whose time has come: A blacklist of Christian spammers.

I just cannot tell you how much spam I receive each day from well-meaning individuals trying to spread their Christian message or the gospel by ways of spam. One particular infuriating example is certain gentleman from Brazil who sends two mails per day about the history of Christian hymns, complete with MIDI attachments. Sometimes, when he feels really inspired, he throws in a multi-megabyte Power Point presentation for good measure.

I am so fed up with the abuse of these fellows and yet, they seem practically impervious to any approach one might take to convince them of the error of their ways. That gentleman from Brazil, for example, sends all his messages from an account that automatically bounces my email… so I cannot simply tell him to stop. And yet he professes to be a Christian.

Please go and read Tim’s post; and if you feel like it, link to it. We need to spread the word.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

poster thumbnail for the movie When Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World came to Asunción’s theatres, I was busy, tired, newlywed, and very short on the green stuff. I was experiencing a painful exit from my job as an English teacher at a local Christian academy, and did not have the time or money to go and see it. So the movie went down before I was able to see it. And I regretted it.

Fast forward six months, and I am checking every week on the local video rental store to see if they carry the tape. When they finally do, I was very happy to rent it. And all I can say is wow!

I am a sucker for sailing ships. Perhaps because I’ve seen them only in pictures, and never saw a seashore save for a few glimpses here and there, and what I could see from a plane. Perhaps because I am a Navy Ensign in the Paraguayan Armed Forces Reserve. But the fact is that sailing ships and Old Navy settings are like a dream to me. Peter Weir’s movie hooked me since I saw the first glimpse of an ad because of that.

The story is based on the historical movies of Patrick O’Brien, a well-know historical novelist of the Anglo-Saxon world, and practically unknown to me. The adaptation is faithful to O’Brien in spirit, but not in the letter; I can certainly understand the disappointment of O’Brien buffs when they saw the movie with all the liberties taken in the script. But overall, the script carries out very well and it is a great introduction to O’Brien for a lot of the global world, myself included.

The movie is situated in 1805, and the degree of historical accuracy displayed in it is astounding. My wife mentioned that Crowe (as Capt. “Lucky” Jack Aubrey) had a kind of scar in one of his earlobes, much like an “old warrior” scar. This degree of accuracy is especially telling in the nautical themes, with all the jargon and lore of the Royal Navy of that time.

However, in my opinion, the one of the most important things on the movie is the values shown. Master and Commander shows that you could make a big blockbuster movie without showing cleavage or resorting to the lusts of the audience. It was uplifting to see virtues such as honor, courage, loyalty, patriotism and wisdom as living realities embodied by Aubrey and his crew, and not as the abstract, unattainable abstruse concepts they are thought of now.

And finally, the respectful acknowledgment of the Christian faith made throughout all the movie is almost incredible. Would you think of a feature move in today’s world that has a bunch of rough men saying the Lord’s prayer with heartfelt conviction? This movie shows that Christianity is a faith for the brave and courageous, and not for “sissies”.

All in all, an excellent movie in almost all aspects. There are, however, two aspects of possible concern: (1) There is a lot of strong, “sailor” language that includes a lot of profanity, so be careful if you choose to show to your children; and (2) there’s a lot of violence seen and implied. If you are prepared to deal with those elements, then you have a winner here.

Verdict: Strongly recommended. A masterpiece. Especially suited to watch with your male teenagers and have “men-talk” with them afterwards.

(Picture courtesy of The Internet Movie Database. Enter to see the IMDB’s page for the movie.)

A New Reformation

a new reformation Someone gave me this cartoon by mail. Enter into the picture at the left for the larger image (I’ve provided a thumbnail solely due to aesthetic reasons). The signs are in Brazilian Portuguese, so I will translate them for your profit.

There’s a church with the legend “Evangelical Church”. Below it is a sign advertising: “Revelations – Deliverance – Healing – Signs and Wonders – Prosperity – Breaking of Curses – Spiritual Warfare”. Below, a monk is fixing a poster with the legend: “95 Theses – Grace Alone – Faith Alone – Christ Alone – Scripture Alone – God’s Glory Alone.”

This is a cartoon that is dead on target. We Protestant Christians are supposed to be the zealous guardians of the Gospel based on the hallmarks of the reformation. And yet we are more prone to behave as spiritual whores from Babylon, bringing a hellish mixture of paganism, Deism, and pseudo-Pentecostal belief instead of the true Gospel.

But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
Jude 20-21, ESV

This is the challenge of the hour. May we rise to the occasion, by the grace of God the Father, the love of God the Son, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Duarte Lôbo: Requiem

CD cover While editing the church bulletin, I put in the CD player the wonderful Requiem Mass by the Portuguese composer Duarte Lôbo (c.1565-1646; a namesake of mine, since his name was latinized as Eduardus Lupus).

Four years ago, I was totally ignorant of Renaissance polyphony. Of course I intended one day to get acquainted with it, since I was (and still am) a Baroque music buff, and I always wanted to expand my musical horizons; and especially, because I was curious. The main problem was that here (Asunción, Paraguay) is not easy to get that kind of music, or, for that matter, anything that is not part of the musical mainstream.

One day I noticed in the newsstands installments of an encyclopaedia about Sacred Music. Each installment would come with a CD (from the labels Philips, Decca, and another one that I cannot recall now, only that it wasn’t Deutsche Grammophon). The CDs were rebranded and with most liner notes stripped out, but they were original recordings, many of them of historical quality, and with a remarkable period breadth.

One of the installments carried the Requiem Mass by Tomás Luis de Victoria. I listened to it as a matter of course, not expecting too much from it. By the time I was in Track 2 I was hooked for life: Renaissance Sacred Polyphony was among the most beautiful musical expressions of our culture. And so is this recording, superbly done by the Tallis Scholars led by Peter Philips.

Duarte Lôbo was one of the most prolific Portuguese composers at a time when Portugual was politically dependent on the Kingdom of Spain, and therefore his music shows a lot of Spanish influence, especially from Victoria. The music is, of course, a Mass that you were supposed to sing in order to pray for the dead, and while there are many Bible verses that speak of hope and comfort, there are many unbiblical prayers and sayings proper to Roman Catholicism.

However, the Spanish Requiem Masses were an exercise in translating hope into musical terms; and Lôbo’s mass is not an exception. The Mass is rendered in a major key, and the whole setting is luminous and clear, almost feeling like a musical embrace of some sort. The Scholars sing through the score almost flawlessly, transmiting the soothing and uplifting music directly to your heart. And there are moments especially pungent, such as in the Introito or the Kyrie eleison, when you could almost feel the composer as a sinner humbling himself before our Lord, begging for mercy and for his life, but also with the firm conviction that he is addressing a Lord that is not only just, but merciful.

It’s an experience almost mystical in its depths, and heavenly in its quality, and very difficult to translate in words. There were so many times when, while listening to the Kyrie, I would lift my hands to heaven, silently praying and enjoying the presence of my Savior; and perhaps with a tear or two shed by the way.

It goes without saying that the recording is thoroughly recommended. You can go and read the fine liner notes put together by Gimell Records here.

The Stealth Desktop, part II: Sight and Sound

I saw today at Open for Business that Tim already put part II of the Stealth Desktop series. This, in case you don’t know, is a series of articles related to setting up the Slackware distribution of GNU/Linux as a desktop operating system in home PCs.

Part I of the series dealt with installation and served as a whole introduction to it. Part II deals with setting up sound and video. Read it here.

Cursed is the man…

This is a three-part stage drama.

Some days ago C.,, a long time (since early childhood) friend of mine contacted my wife. He is a lawyer about my same age, but as things go here, he has trouble getting clients and work despite being an expert with a J.D. degree in tax law from the University of Trier (Germany). He is the husband of A., a well-known state prosecutor.

C. told my wife that his wife A. was preparing the Government case against the former execs of the National Housing Committee. But these people were moving behind the scenes to get an indictment against A. on false charges in order to discourage her from prosecuting. Furthermore, one of the main actors of that behind-the-scenes comedy was Mr. T., Esq, one of the lawyers who works at my uncle’s law firm, and coincidentally member of one of the most influential families here. And finally, the report said, that in order to help this Mr. T., my uncle was also in the bandwagon. So, C. told me if I could please phone my uncle and tell him that A. is the wife of C. who happens to be my childhood friend, and that if he and his partners are going to press charges against her, to press only legitimate charges, and not fake ones? (wow, that was a mouthful).

Now, just to put you into context: my uncle is director of the J.D. doctoral program of the Catholic University here, is a renowned expert in civil law, and has an extremely successful law firm. He is also member of the Council of the Magistracy and the president of the Jury for the Judgment of Magistrates.

I felt really uncomfortable about the whole issue. C. is, after all, my uncle’s colleague. Why didn’t he just contact my uncle through professional channels, appealing to professional courtesy to get an even treatment? I was really unsure, so I phoned Mom, who is often in touch with my uncle, and is an overall wise person. She said that she didn’t like the idea too much, either, but that it wouldn’t do anything if I called to the uncle and just told him the whole business, telling him clearly that I was just acting on a friend’s request. After some phone calls I managed to contact my uncle, and after I told him the whole issue, he said that he was surprised, and that he didn’t know a thing. Well, Ok, that’s right.

Act 2
The other day one of my cousins received a strange phone call. Her mom, a sister of Mom and my uncle, usually lives in the U.S. but three months ago she built a house here, in Asunción, in a residential neighborhood. At that time she got an unlisted phone number. The caller was a male voice, who wanted at all costs to get my uncle’s home phone number. He said he was a reporter for a local radio station, and he wanted to warn my uncle that some fellows in his circle of friends were going to ‘stab him in the back’. And then he hung up leaving my cousing wondering. How did that man learn of my aunt’s unlisted and recent phone number? Go figure…

Act 3
Finally the whole business seemed clear. The local press ran some stories where Mr. President himself (Spanish link) and some of his representatives openly criticized my uncle and the Jury for the Judgment of Magistrates. Some of the Jury’s members openly acknowledged that the pressure to cave into the demands of the Executive Branch were almost unbearable.

So this is the whole issue. I was a pawn in a high power game. Someone really clever wanted to play against my uncle, and this person used my own family against him.

Of course, this amounts to play dirty, very dirty. That’s no surprise in the world of politics; but the really sad part here is that our President identifies himself as an evangelical Christian. The First Lady is a member of Raíces (Roots) Mennonite Brethren Church; and he does worship there, though he is not a member (and some would add “yet”). There is a growing feeling of triumphalism among the rank and files of Protestant Christians here, because “Brother Nicanor”, “one of us”, is now the President. They just crave to be back into Emperor Constantine’s times, just to be in bed with the Government all over again, and they do not realize that they are being used as disposable stuff.

Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.”
Jeremiah 17:5, ESV

A shameful anniversary

Today is the anniversary of the first example of atheism by establishment:

But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators, has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever. Never, never more shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom. The unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise, is gone!
(Edmund Burke)

May this date live forever in shame and oblivion, and may we work towards the undoing of its consequences.