Thursday, June 30, 2005

a hand i want to shake

This is beauty. In a strong display of group dementia, the Supreme Court ruled this week that private entities can take property from private citizens if they can prove that will be of economic benefit to the community. In other words, if WalMart wants to build where you happen to live, all they have to do is prove their store will bring in more money than you pay in property taxes and you are handed a check and some boxes. Good luck. This is eminent domain on steroids.
So in response to this bit of judicial genius, this guy in California is petitioning the city government of Weare, NH to seize the home of Justice David Souter (one of the majority in the steal your house ruling) in order to build a hotel on the site. There's no way on earth it will ever happen, but I hope the guy in CA fights for a while just to give Justice Souter something to think about. Here's also hoping that the other justices in the majority find similar requests coming soon.

You can read the letter that started the process here

Press release on the building project

More on the Supreme Court ruling

To quote Yakov Smirnov (anyone? anyone?)
What a country!

Friday, June 24, 2005

real life conversations

From the public library circulation desk. . .
Me: How are you this morning.
Shrewish librarian lady: Sir, the express self-checkouts are available.
Me: I know, I'd just rather interact with a real person.
SLL: Sir, I don't have time for that. (goes back to reading the morning paper)

Usually those kinds of things make me mad. Today, just sad. Technology is supposed to make life better, but in separating us from each other, does it?

Cody, I tried to put a flag in this one, but it didn't work out. Sorry.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

speaking of flags. . .

OK so today the House decided it would make put itself in a position to more narrowly define the "free" in free speech.
House approves flag-burning amendment
At least the "debate" was entertaining.
From the right
"Ask the men and women who stood on top of the [World] Trade Center," said Rep. Randy [Duke] Cunningham, R-California. "Ask them and they will tell you: pass this amendment."
Irresponsible grandstanding or inappropriate symbol creation? (Or did he ask them?)
From the left
But Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, said, "If the flag needs protection at all, it needs protection from members of Congress who value the symbol more than the freedoms that the flag represents."
oooooooo burn.
I'll let one of our finest pretend presidents speak for me.
President Andrew Shepherd: The symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.

Constitution, smonstitution.

who remembered this was still going on

Southern Baptists End 8-Year Disney Boycott
"We believe for the boycott to be effective, it had to have a beginning and an ending,"

I don't have the heart to tell this guy that you can't end what never began.
Southern Baptists should also continue to monitor the "products and policies of the Disney Company,"
Yes, monitor them as they go into your shopping cart, appear on the screen in front of you, or take your money to enter them.
Silly Baptists.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

dad's day

Good day today. Between great kids and an amazing wife they made the day a big deal for me. It's also cool that I got an extra 13 hours of Father's Day because one of my kids is that far away. (but not for much longer) Makes me glad to have them around (not that I wasn't already). I found myself thinking about three things off and on all day.
1. I have a great dad. He is the funny cool one in the office that everyone loves. I had a job at the place where he worked when I was a teenager and all I ever heard was how great and funny and wonderful dad was. I wasn't sure I bought it then, but what teenager would have? Now I know and I see all of the great things people say about him are true. One of the greatest joys of my adult life has been getting closer to my dad. We went through a stretch a year or so ago where we played golf at least twice a month - I miss those days. One other note, since becoming a Papaw he has also turned into a massive softie (which is cool to watch). It's been fun to watch him get ready for Rebekah.
2. An old student and friend sent me an email last night thanking me for being a father to him when he was fatherless and pointing to God as a constant Father. We had a couple of kids at church tonight who are dealing with tough father issues and i found myelf praying for them to experience and understand they have a perfect Father who loves them desperately. So I've been thinking about the Father to the fatherless and about my little girl sleeping in an orphanage in China. Even in her days before she was joined to our family, she had a Father watching over her and I pray that He will continue until we get there and beyond. I am so thankful that my kids have two dads and that One of us holds the world in His hands.
3. Somewhere in China there is a man who may or may not even know that he had a daughter. Either way he's experiencing Father's Day without her. I know nothing about him and probably never will, but his life has greatly affected mine. I've prayed for him a lot today. If you're a person who prays, take a moment for him would you?
All in all a good day.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

God help us

And I mean that literally...
Christian right groups set sights on '08
By Susan Page, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Leaders of conservative Christian organizations plan to jointly interview Republican contenders for the 2008 presidential nomination, perhaps even endorsing one of them — steps that could expand their already considerable political influence.
The rest is here.

In today's beautiful irony, the leader of the new Sanhedrin shares a name with the actor who played the title character in Psycho. Coincidence? Hmmmmmm.

why is anyone shocked by this?

Runaway bride may get movie deal

Famous = be as crazy as possible and make sure someone gets something on tape.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

scary stuff

I'm reading Born to Buy by Juliet B. Schor. It's about the targeting of children by people wanting to sell them everything from Happy Meals to SUVs. One quote sums it up so far.
We have become a nation that places a lower priority on teaching its children how to thrive socially, intellectually, even spiritually, than it does on training them to consume.

Thoughts? Are we raising a generation that won't know how to use a compass but can navigate the megamalls blindfolded? Is that a bad thing? How do we help our kids avoid the consumption mentality and still help them be engaged with the world and the culture?
One of the most amazing things to me is how the "christian" world has bought into the very same mindset. Marketing and consumption are as prevalent in those circles as in any secular ones. Of course it's in the name of the Lord so that makes it all better.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

this one's for you Cody!

Via Jesus Politics I give you...

The American Christian Flag!!!!!!!!

Unlike the Christian flag, which belongs to all Christians regardless of nationality or denomination, Eldreth’s National Christian Flag is unapologetically American.
In a press release dated May 28, she said American Christians today can display the same kind of “fighting spirit” as armies marching with their nation’s flag to war.
“Our enemies are, in part, domestic” she said. Along with being a “Wave Offering unto our Lord,” she urged supporters to view her flag both as a “declaration of war on Satan and his lies of liberalism and secularism” and “a prophetic proclamation of Christ’s second coming.”
“I am not politically correct,” she confessed. “Many here in northeastern Maryland have risen up, along with millions of other likeminded Christians, to come against the lies of secularism and liberalism. We are here to declare truth. That is the only way our nation will remain free. Christ is truth and His Word is truth.”

Please don't miss the "wave offering unto the Lord" line.
Cody, if it's any consolation, all I can hear is Eddie saying "Do you have a flaaaaagg?"
Onward "christian" soldiers (yes the quotes are in the right place).

couple of good quotes

I finished Buechner's little book On the Road with the Archangel. Pretty good stuff. It's written from the Archangel Raphael's perspective as he interacts with a Jewish family living in Ninevah. These quotes are his words.

"My name is Azarias," I said, picking it out of the air, which is continually afloat with answers to even the prayers people haven't the wit to pray. They are always swarming about them like midges over a pond.

and this
Before they reached that point, however, their constant ejaculations of praise addressed to the Holy One were touching in their way but only went to show once again that by and large the world believes in him for all the wrong reasons and that, like Raguel and Edna, it disbelieves in him for all the wrong reasons too.

and finally my personal favorite
Frivolous they might be, but the people of Ecbatana at least saw that the world was created for their delight, and as they jumped about in the frigid streams and wasted their money in the crowded bazaars, they came closer to living their lives as the Holy One intended than those who were continually apologizing for their unworthiness and trying to avert the wrath of the One who, had they but known wishes the world only well.

Quick, easy, worthwhile read. Impress people by the pool.

Monday, June 13, 2005

it only gets worse

Now CNN has a chart up ready to track the guilty / not guilty verdicts on each count for the clown prince of pop.
In other blistering news - Paris Hilton is going to retire in two years. From what?

Sorry, waiting for a phone call can get a little boring sometimes. Please resume your happy lives. (And get ready to track the verdict)

CNN=People Mag= hurl

how is this news?

Among the top stories listed on CNN, Fox news, and Yahoo news, right now.

1. Verdict reached in Michael Jackson case
2. Katie Holmes is converting to scientology. (Step one willbe learning how to spell it).
3. Destiny's Child is announcing their breakup.

Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a bad SNL sketch.

Although there was this major news story on Fox. The moral - it's a good idea to share.

Breathlessly awaiting more news on Beyonce's future.

on being the new guy

Jacob's Well took the night off last night so a friend and I went to check out another church in OKC. It's been a long time since I walked into a church for the first time. I've forgotten what a wierd feeling it is to stick out like that and not know the rules and find yourself in a world that you are kind of familiar with, but at the same time a complete stranger. The experience was cool. We met some new people and got to see another expression of what the Church looks like.
More than anything it reminded me of what our community needs to be careful of when new faces come out way.
1. Honor time - we are not good at this at all. Starting and stopping on (or at least near) the time you say doesn't put people in the position of checking watches and worrying about whatever is next in their lives after they leave.
2. Invite them into our community - I'm not talking about giving them a membership card (anyone remember those?) but for the time they are with us I want people to feel like they are a part of us, not just interested observers from the sidelines. I feel like our community does a good job of this.
3. Don't make the conversations about "us" - the second question we got from every person we met last night (after "what's your name?") was some version of "how did you find out about us?". I know it's a natural question, but to me it felt like suddenly the conversation was about them and I didn't matter. Not that I need to matter, but for someone who is being introduced to a community for the first time, I think it's important to make them the focus of the conversation. We have some people in our church who are great at this and I learn from the all the time watching them talk with people.
I think I'm also developing some rules for visiting churches. I have no idea when they'll come in handy again, but I'm ready.
1. Get there right when they say they're starting. Early is bad, you catch people running around trying to get things done and you get stuck either (a) looking around or (b) reading their "literature".
2. Sit in the back. We sat four rows back last night. Turns out we were in the front row. Very comfortable.
3. Don't bring a Bible. Nothing says "church geek" like having your Bible with you. It seems like the assumption today is that people won't have them so scripture goes on the screen or in the "bulletin". I don't like this one, but it reflects my experience. (not just last night)
4. Don't tell anyone you go to another church. This is an immediate conversation killer.
5. Hang around for a minute or two after it's over. The goal here is to see if anyone is going to eat. You can find out a whole lot more about people and their church over dinner than sitting in church together. Unless of course you don't want to know them any better, in which case - run for the exit like your pants are on fire.

Ah the wonders of church-hopping.

Friday, June 10, 2005

the funeral

I sat watching as dozens of kids walked past. Probably 150 18-22 year olds saying goodbye to their 20 year old friend who died among them a few days ago. Black, white, brown faces twisted with emotion. Some being strong, others breaking down. All looking. For comfort, for peace, for hope, for answers. Filing in a loud silence past the casket and back out into lives - the girl in her Sonic uniform, the soldier on duty - back into the world that led them to this moment and this place of God where most of them would never have come without him. The "real" world - the one of hurt and loss and looking for love and peace in broken people or deadly chemicals or temporary stuff.
I wanted to scream as they walked past - "He loves you! The Father Himself loves you! He knows all of it and He doesn't care. He loves you."

That's the need. More than theological arguments and seeking to define the unexplainable. I want my life and our community to scream into the world - the Father Himself loves you! Jonathan from CHBC did a great job stating that reality to those who heard, I pray that they will keep hearing it from random corners of their lives in the days to come. I pray that we (I) will start saying it better and louder in the days to come.
God loves you. You.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

sad, guilty, angry

I got a call last night that one of my former students had died from a drug overdose. In seeing the news report I saw that another of my former students had been at the party with him and engaging in the same kinds of things that led to his death. I'm wrestling with how to feel in the midst of this.
Sad - for the loss of a twenty year old young man who I remember (from 4-5 years ago) as funny, smart, quick to smile or laugh, and generally good to be/have around. Obviously, life had taken a change for him, but his loss is no less sad to me knowing the circumstances. Every life matters. He's not just "another kid on drugs", he's a son, a brother, a friend, made in the image and likeness of God.
Angry - for a lot of reasons not worth discussing, but particularly for the way I found out. A staff member from the church called me to inquire about his "spiritual condition" (translation) was there any information that would allow him to say if D was in heaven or hell? Why does that make me mad? D's "spiritual condition" had to do with more than being lost/saved. He clearly needed something and didn't get it from the church that now feels responsible for him after he's died. For my money, last night was kinda too late to be asking that question. My last conversation with D was probably 4 years ago - I shouldn't be the expert on this. I know some kind of effort was made years ago (at least I need to believe it was), but the scrambling yesterday to try and determine his "destination" really got all over me.
Which leads me to guilty - I can't get away from it. What if I had stayed? What if I had worked harder to help D find a place with us at Jacob's Well? I know I'm not responsible, but unless you've been there, you can't understand the level of responsibility you feel for the kids God puts in your care. I'm also worried now for the other student I saw on the news clip - will I get a phone call about her one of these days?
I've now buried twelve of my kids over the years. Lots of different reasons. Every one of them hurts. If you are the praying kind, say a prayer for D's family and friends. They could use them today.

Monday, June 06, 2005

13 years ago

June 6, 1992 I married my best friend. I still remember every detail about the day. The singer forgetting some words, the wedding coordinator (aka the she-beast from hell) forgot to put the communion elements at the prayer bench, the ground was so wet and muddy at our outdoor reception that K had to stand on the porch and receive people like a queen (rightly so if you ask me), later that night when we opened the picnic dinner that people had packed for us from the reception food all we had was dessert - the other basket hadn't been put in the car. (no complaints there btw - that stuff was good)
What I remember most though is how clueless we were about the world we thought we were setting off to change. 13 years, 3.95 kids (almost there!), a mortgage, three churches, a thousand bumps and a million memories later it still feels like we are those kids. A little grayer (well a lot in my case), a little wiser, a little more careful but we're still launching off into new adventures with the God who made us one and laughing and loving it all the while.
I love you K. I thank God every day that our paths and lives and hearts merged 13 years ago.
Only the beginning of what I want to feel forever
Only the beginning
Only just the start

Here's to 14.

Friday, June 03, 2005

That time of year again

Grown men carrying pink and black bags and roses. Snarling women on the attack with hairbrushes and lipstick. T-shirts! Stars! Glitter! It can only mean one thing - it's spring dance recital time!
This year had everything from the ridiculous to the sublime.
The ridiculous I'll leave to your imagination, only to say that 2-3 year olds in dance class is a lot of money to spend for photo opportunities.
The sublime? You'll never guess. I don't claim expertise in the area of dance, but I know Hannah can do it. She was beautiful and perfect and all of those things. I love moments that bring tears to the eyes and a smile to the face at the same time. There have been a bunch of those this week.

One Nathan-induced non-sentimental moment. There is one (1!) high school guy in the dance studio and after the first time he danced, Nathan turned to us and said, "I don't want that man to do that again."

Amen little man. Amen.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Good read and sad commentary

Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Spencer Burke, Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, Andrew Jones, and Chris Seay have formed a response to those who have been attacking Emergent, the emerging church, and anything else that starts with the letters "emer". You can read it here. (.PDF file)
The response is gracious, honest, and continues to invite conversation, even with those who would disagree with it. There is a strong statement affirming the scriptures and the belief in truth. Much much more. It is everything I would expect from the men who crafted it. Take a minute or two and read it.
So how does the harshest critic respond? By ripping it to shreds as she has done time and again. (by the way, I'm not linking there, but I bet you can find it) As I've said before, I'm out. I refuse to get drawn back in to defending or worrying about who is saying what about whom and who loves Jesus more. The whole thing makes me tired. Several of the above mentioned people and others have offered friendship and dialogue multiple times and have been rejected over and over with statements like "what fellowship can light have with darkness" and "won't climb in bed with heretics". Loving, no?
I understand there is a group of people (large one) that will not understand or accept that churches like ours is anything more than a cult. That's cool with me. I'll just keep in mind to say "No thanks" when offered Koolaid or free black tennis shoes.
In my readings this morning I came across this quote from Abba Anthony of Egypt, one of the Desert Fathers.
The time is coming when people will be insane, and when they see someone who is not insane they will attack that person, saying:'You are insane, because you are not like us.'

I'm just saying.
Check out the response.