A young Mennonite

April 01, 2005

April Fools are laughing

I am not very good at doing these daily positives. It almost is a Participation Positive. However, in a good light, I still remember that I should be doing them.


  1. A teenage niece arrived. She is spending her spring break with us.


  1. My first meeting for coaches assistant coaches, which I am for the area youth soccer league. No problems.
  2. The family picked up some movies to watch for the rest of the week that our niece is going to be here.


  1. I found some time to clean up my desk at work, i.e., less stress.
  2. I reduced my to read papers list by more than half.


  1. There was a meeting at MCON (Mennonite Church of Normal) for adjustments we want to make to the web site. I am not going to have to do too much for the changes: everyone raised mostly content issues.
  2. It hailed. Cool.
  3. My wife reminded me to get the new sticker for our car license plate, and I did not take it as her telling me what to do (a real accomplishment for me).


  1. I did not get pranked.
  2. Today was pay day.
  3. I really enjoy weather, and we are having some. It may mean that the first soccer practice will be cancelled.

    April showers bring May flowers bring June bugs.

A Creed by any other name Nicene

When I was most recently mentioned in the public, this site was referred to as a web design site. I intend to get back to my religious roots / interests, and one of the things that always seems to go hand-in-hand with religion is creeds.

I joined a Mennonite mailing list some time ago, and there was a short discussion the details of which have escaped me on the Nicene Creed. This was rather odd to me. I guess it comes in part from a lack of understanding of how the term creed is used. I had always thought of it as an oath, and it can be related, but it isn't really the same thing, I take it.

I also have had some confusion about how oaths are to be treated. Now, I should note that my acknowledgement of confusion does not mean that I accept I was wrong; only uninformed. I am going to reserve judgment as to whether or not I am going to change my understanding.

See, the beliefs of the Mennonite Church as a denomination at least the Mennonite Church USA are the Mennonite Confession of Faith. Well, right there in the definition of creed, it says creeds are a confession of faith. Without realizing it, I had been attempting to follow a creed.

Yet, as I said I thought creeds were similar to oaths, or a solemn, formal declaration or promise to fulfill a pledge, often calling on God, a god, or a sacred object as witness. Well, the title of Article 20 of the Mennonite Confession of Faith says we should avoid swearing of oaths. The commentary page lists two specific examples.

  1. ths in return for a future. God, I will go to church every Sunday if You only This is not faith. This is an attempt to blackmail God.
  2. iths of allegiance, as often asked by governments. Our first allegiance is to God.

The commentary then talks about oaths in the sense of truth we shouldn't swear an oath on the Bible, even in court, for instance. This is based in large part on the text from Matthew 5:33-37. This is why the legal society has recognized the word affirm.

Additionally, the commentary on the Confession of Faith has:

2. We follow the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition, which has usually applied Jesus words against taking oaths in these ways: in affirming rather than swearing in courts of law and in other legal matters, in a commitment to unconditional truth telling and to keeping ones word, in avoiding membership in oath-bound or secret societies, in refusing to take oaths of allegiance that would conflict with our ultimate allegiance to God through Christ, and in avoiding all profane oaths.

Now, it is interesting to remember that this Confession of Faith, while based on previous works, was written in 1995 not hundreds of years ago.

It brings to mind something a pastor told me when I went through a membership class for a church. I hope to not misquote him or misrepresent what I understood him to say, but religious truth is generally accepted to come from three sources: the Bible, religious tradition (i.e., what has the church done for a long time), and the religious community.

I may have too broad a definition going here, but a) stating that affirming is not swearing an oath, when everyone knows that you mean essentially the same thing sounds a lot like situational ethics or something. And does it matter if the society for which you are giving an oath of allegiance is not secret? It seems like a group has decided to take it upon themselves to define what was meant by someone else from a long time ago (Jesus) and how it should be applied to themselves.

Are we forgetting that Jesus had very little or low regard for the religious leaders of His day and their use of legalism? The leaders had moved away from the original intent of the text while claiming to have a better understanding, and in so doing, at best, they were fooling themselves, but worse, they were misleading the rest of the people. Are we not in danger of doing the same?

What were those Habits again?

I do actually own a copy of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People[Information] by Stephen R. Covey. I dont know that I can say I got a lot out of the book, so I should probably consider it to be on my eventually, I want to re-read this” list. But here are the main points Ive taken away so far, broken down by section of the book:

  1. Be Proactive you can increase your Circle of Influence and you have the Power to Choose your response to everything.
  2. Begin with the end in mind this is the difference between leadership and management. Mr. Covey promotes the idea of having a personal mission statement. I need to work on that.
  3. Put first things first Nearly everyone who even glances through this book or reads a review of it has heard of the four quadrants. The main one of importance is Long term and important, or Quadrant II.
  4. Seek first to understand then to be understood.
  5. Synergize The Whole is more than the sum of the parts.
  6. Think Win/Win (or no deal) too often people who try “win/win” turn it into compromise when they forget the “no deal option.
  7. Sharpen the Saw after you have the tools to get ahead in life, no matter which area of life it is, dont let the tools get dull.

Publicly mentioned

How odd is it for this site to get a public mention after being nearly dead? I have no idea whether or not it was in the print version.

The only oddity is that the list the site as being a site on web design. I have never really considered the site as having a purpose, but if it did, I didnt think it was web design. I admire people who do good web design, but Ive never considered myself to be anything more than a hack.

I think Ive always thought I was just a wannabe. A wannabe web designer. A wannabe writer. A wannabe programmer.

Of course, that is my pessimistic side. Ill just think its cool, and point out that I do as a professed Mennonite plan on revisiting my religious interests. I still have the original posts. I just havent found the time I feel is warranted to re-read/refactor the articles.

Javascript telling coffee what to do

Just as I want to keep around backups of some of my files, like my procmailrc file, I sometimes want to feel good about my hacks.

Now, Im not a real hacker. Real hackers create stuff. I normally just modify something I find for my own use. This is closer to what a script kiddie would do, but I am not destructive, so I dont really want to be lumped in with that group, either. I once heard that if you have to say youre a hacker because no one else does, then you arent a hacker. I did actually once have a computer science instructor a JCL professor tell me I was a hacker, so Ill stick with that.

I have modified (and borrowed) some other peoples Javascript to use for my site, and I am creating this page in part to acknowledge their brain power. I also am showing how some of it is extensible.

The script

The first nugget I hold onto:

I hate sites which dont bother to make their frames work correctly. It just feels like laziness. This nugget has been around the web forever. I think. I have no idea where I found it originally.

But I know Simon Willison is the originator of this next idea. I made a few, small, minor modifications to it, but I really like the concept.

The only problem I am having is that the text formatting I use, Markdown, does not currently have a standard method of including the cite or title attribute on block quotations. It also currently does not have a special way of marking up an inline quotation. You just have to use the normal HTML tag, <q>. Well, Im smart enough to figure out how to modify Simons code to do what I want.


The only really tricky part was figuring out how to add the brackets to enclose the link, but Google is our friend. Whats next?

Well, I became interested in [XFN (XHTML Friends Network)][] and make A young Mennonite compatible with it some time ago. I found on the tools page a tool called the XFN Dumper, but it dumps the XFN information into a message box, and I didnt want to do that for a few reasons, so I hacked together a modified versio of it.

It isnt perfect. Ive noticed that the comma which would be placed between an existing title and the XFN information probably shouldnt be there if there isnt already a existing title. I just havent had the time to modify it yet.


Well, I have also had an interest in the accessible web. One major question, for instance, has been the use of access keys. In researching that question, I found a reminder from Richard Rutter about the link tag and how Mozilla can access the link information. Lynx and other text browsers also use the link information. But what about Internet Explorer? Heres my solution.

It, inelegantly requires I add an empty division to the page, but only because of the way I want to make the page look, and because Im lazy. I could have added it to the sidebar navigation, too.

Then just finish off loading the Javascript: