Friday, October 31, 2003

It won't mean much to any of you, but Mike Yaconelli died yesterday. He was 61. It was a one car accident. He was the youth minister's youth minister.

From the Youth Specialties (the organization he co-owned) web site:

"The number of lives touched by Mike is beyond what we could even estimate. He is the father of modern youth ministry in many minds. Through his books, speaking engagements, and YS events, he has ministered to untold thousands all over the world.

Mike dedicated his life to what God had called him to do. He believed in youth ministry, and did all he could to equip youth workers to change the lives of students. He lived with a passion that was unmatched. He was the incarnation of his book titles, Dangerous Wonder and Messy Spirituality; he lived a life of wonder and amazement at God’s grace. He never claimed to be perfect; he just lived as he was—a man after God’s own heart."

I didn't know him at all. I saw him speak probably 10 or 12 times...and each time came away amused, or refreshed, or challenged, or with rekindled vision and/or passion.

But for some reason, this hurts. The kind of hurt that make you want to fire up the blender, create some adult beverage and just forget about it (I won't). Why the hurt? I guess it's because there's no greater feeling in the world than to be "gotten" (it's from line I heard in a movie, but it's pretty accurate) and I like to think I "got" Mike.

Those two paragraphs from the press release don't really seem like much...but some of us can read between the lines and know what they really mean. I don't think there's higher praise for a youth minister...except when teenagers stroll up to him in The Kingdom and say "thanks." He'll have that plenty.

When it's my time to go, a couple of paragraphs like those wouldn't be a bad way to be long as there was a group of folks to read between the lines and "get it."

Thursday, October 30, 2003

On a couple of blogs I've been reading lately there've been diatribes on the nature of the Christian retail industry (Jesus Junk, Christian Junkstores, etc.), most of which I agree with in principle and am trying to reconcile my ideas with Philippians 1: 15-19, where Paul rejoices that the Gospel is getting out there and not too concerned with the motives of those proclaiming the it.

How does this affect my view of TBN? The 700 Club? Christian bookstores? Hellhouse 13? Still wrestling with the balance of goofy motives and silly theology with grace...

However, two people that fly in the face of all that is wrong with the Christian music industry, goofy motives and silly theology comprise the band Lost and Found. It's too difficult to put into words the many ways they fly in the face of all that stuff, but trust me on this one.

They're coming to our church for two nights on December 4 & 5. You'll laugh until your head hurts and leave thinking so much your head hurts. That's a GREAT way to promote a concert, eh?

Anyway, one of their songs that I thought was pertinent to my thinking through the whole Christian retail/rejoicing motif:


So many people pushed away
Ones that are loved told they can't stay
The question is what
would Jesus say?

(repeat chorus)

God's own people close the door
The loud and the angry take the floor
We know what you fear
But what are you for?
Furthermore . . .

(repeat chorus)

Maybe we should hum the chorus to ourselves more each day...

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

People I actually know that inspire me and why (in no particular order):

Tracy McKinney (understated spirituality, underrated photography talent and undeterred perseverance...which any youth pastor's wife must have)
Tim Stevenson (real life spirituality modeled every day)
Joshua and Kristen Rudd (unique and gutsy spirituality modeled every day)
Katherine Riskey & Lizzie Purifoy (incredibly gifted and creative human beings who laugh out loud a lot, understanding that joy is the 2nd fruit of the Spirit)
Kenner and John Thompson (future literary great hitched to a life-long learner...a highly undervalued trait)
Michael Bridges and George Baum (musicians with a strong message and higher-order principles)
Jill McKinney (scrappy little sister who is one of the few people I know to actually stick it to The Man and now kicks back and scoffs at him)
Kelsey and Shelby McKinney (blessings from God who are always trying new thing and usually doing them well)
Melissa Rowe (one of the most innovative ministers I've ever seen)
Michael and Katie Alpert (simply following God's leadings even when doing so takes you half a world away)
Jessica S., Liz Stevenson Abby Lorenc and Pam Davis (four young ladies who just have creative vibes and unique worldviews...and talk about four futures so bright you gotta wear shades...)
Matt Eaton and Steve-O Davis (granted, it's a sick and twisted slant, but it's inspiring to be around them nonetheless)

And that doesn't include the myriad of teenagers I know right now that constantly challenge me and encourage me and drive me...

Some days, I cannot believe that my day-to-day life puts me in direct contact with people like these.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Middle Class?

In reading about the fires in Southern California, one of the accounts was talking about this "middle class" neighborhood that was being threatened. It listed home prices at $500,000.

It's no fun starting your day thinking you were middle class and finding out you're somewhere around 80% short of that...
Just sing and look pretty, sweetie.

Jessica Simpson is making a personal appearance here in Dallas. I can almost feel the median IQ of the area dropping as her plane gets closer.
Finally On A Worthy Bandwagon!

I love it when I'm in on the ground floor of things. Like, I actually got into R.E.M. in 1984 when a guy I was rooming with at a college orientation played the tape for me. I was into them way before anyone else I knew was. It was the beginning of the great heavy-metal phase-out of 1985.

Conversely, I tend to get annoyed with "bandwagons" once the hype machine gets going. Like the movie "The Matrix." I still haven't seen it and everyone I know says it's brilliant. In my experience, it's rare that something lives up to the hype. So, I figure that if it has to be that hyped up, it's probably overrated.

There's been a lot of hype in the circles I run in about a writer/sojourner named Brennan Manning. I had a lot of other books on my reading agenda and people had been after me to see what I think about Mr. Manning and I'd been resisting. In fact, I wasn't going to read him at all until two people I trust immensely (Blogger Friend Katherine and Blogger Resistor Jessica) both told me I wouldn't regret the read.

They were right.

I'm drawn to those that see through the Americanized Christian Subculture and firmly believe that the walk with Christ should be oh-so-much-more than what the masses live out...

A quote or two:

"The Christian community resembles a Wall Street exchange of works wherin the elite are honored and the ordinary are ignored. Love is stifled, freedom is shackled, as self-righteousness fastened. The church has become a wounder of the healers instead of a healer of the wounded...Put bluntly, the American Church today accepts grace in theory but denies it in practice."

"'Unless you become as little children...' Heaven will be filled with five-year-olds...If we maintain the open-mindedness of children, we challenge the fixed ideas and established structures, including our own. We listen to people of other denominations and religions. We don't find demons in those with whom we disagree. We don't cozy up to people who mouth our jargon. If we are open, we rarely resort to either-or: either creation or evolution, liberty or law, sacred or secular, Beethoven or Madonna. We focus on both-and, fully aware that God's truth cannot be imprisoned in a small definition."


Monday, October 27, 2003

Fun With Sisters:

A local radio talk-show has several hosts and they noted that they each had a younger sister. They devised a contest in which they would come up with a list of 10 trivia questions their little sisters should know from their growing up together and then would see which sister knew their brother best. I don't have anybody to compete with, but I made up some questions I'd ask my little sister if I did:

1) My best friend in high school had his last name uniquely displayed as a holder for his mailbox. What letter of his last name actually held the mailbox up?
2) My first car was what color, make and model?
3) What was the name of the river our paternal grandmother had a cabin on? (Bonus Question: What was the name of the convenience store none of us believed you saw when you were just learning to read that you told us about on our way home from that cabin?)
4) What was the name of our maternal grandmother's boyfriend who our cousin Taft would imitate by making that sucking sound with his teeth?
5) On a trip to Mobile, for Uncle Randy's wedding, our dad missed an exit. Mom berated him for not getting over in time. What phrase did she use about 25 times to describe why he missed the exit during that tirade?
6) Uncle Irl had a special nickname for you. What was it?
7) Who are my godmothers?
8) Our cousin Jody got married young, and subsequently divorced his first wife. What was her name?
9) On Christmas Eve each year, Rob and I kept hoping for a visit from her next door neighbor who was rumored to have a drinking problem. Rob even wrote a tribute song about him. What instrument did Rob play this song on? Bonus if you can remember the neighbor's name. Another bonus if you can remember the name of the Bessemer subdivision that Nana lived in.
10) Where was my first job? Bonus: What did me and my friends call our boss?

My prediction: You'll get 7 questions right, and two of the four bonus questions right (that was how the DJ's played, was to guess how many their sister would answer correctly).

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Our community, out of necessity, built a shiny new high school 5 years ago. The new one started with just freshmen and sophomores and steadily grew until last year when they graduated their first 4-year class.

Pretty normal stuff, except that high school football is a measuring stick of worth here in Texas, and the shiny new high school spent much of that time getting beat in most of their sports because they were younger and smaller.

It really didn't seem to matter that the shiny new high school was doing well in the standardized tests and drama and band and parental support and basketball & baseball playoff berths and a myriad of other educational successes. They hadn't beat the cross-town rival in football.

Anyway, things looked bleak for the shiny new high school in the game against the old high school on Friday night. After taking an early lead, they were behind by two touchdowns...but they came back and won the game (the first time in four tries) and it was all very exciting.

The students from the shiny new high school actually rushed on the field to join the football players in a post-game celebration and the band repeatedly played the fight song and the celebration was spontaneous and fun and loud all that jazz...I love teenage enthusiasm, even though I was sitting among those with the exact opposite emotions.

I was happy for them, too (my beloved college football team suffers from perennial underclass syndrome to the uberpower across the state) and related to their enthusiasm. So, shouts out to the Jaguars of Flower Mound High for feeling like you've arrived in our community. You already had...but I guess now it's official: 30-27.

And, good old Marcus High, don't begrudge them their win. You were in their shoes not so long ago trying to get your first "Battle of the Axe" win and know what it feels like to finally "arrive."

I think the rivalry is officially "on" now...which makes it more fun everybody.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

I've talked about this before, but no one seems to be able to help I'll try to be more clear.

Occasionally, this "messenger service" shows up on my screen when I'm on-line. These messages start with phrases like "message to unsafe user on vulnerable system" and warn me that my "system can invaded by hackers" and so on and so forth. The problem is that you can't do anything until you've clicked "ok." There's a web site you can buy software to stop this stuff at the end of the message.

It's important for you to know that these messages are distinct from "pop ups." I've got a blocker for those. It's some glitch in Microsoft operating software.

The way I see it, it's like someone repeatedly calling you to tell you that you can pay a small fee for getting them to stop calling you. When you think about it, it's really electronic extortion. And I will NOT cow tow to the digital equivalent of mobsters offering to "protect" my business.

So, I can't see paying anyone to stop these things. Isn't there anybody out there who knows a free way to prevent it?

Friday, October 24, 2003

This morning, my daughter comes strolling in wearing a tie-dyed shirt, colored sun glasses (two different color lenses) and a headband with some jeans. She said it's "60's Day" at school. If the kids walking to school in my neighborhood this morning are any indication, there will be a high percentage of student participation on "60's Day."

I think it's funny that a grownups idea of a "day" is when they have something like "Business Casual Friday." I think we could all use a little bit of additional "fun factor" in our lives as we grow up. The problem is that there generally is minimal participation when they actually do send around a memo saying it's okay to dress up for Halloween or wear green stuff on St. Patrick's Day or whatever.

Of course, who am I to talk? Pretty much every day to me is "Pacific Northwest Grunge Day" which continues my fashion trend of staying about a decade behind what's cool...

But, Happy 60's Day to all the kids at Prairie Trail Elementary! Rock on!

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Continuing to beat the drum for a more leisurely lifestyle...

"Don't eat, dine...'Grabbing a bite' while 'eating on the run' usually leads to poor dietary choices and much subsequent indigestion. Instead, discipline yourself to sit down and enjoy every meal. Create, as da Vinci did, an aesthetically pleasing environment: a nice place setting, flowers on the table, an artful presentation of even the simplest foods. A pleasant atmosphere and an unhurried pace improve your digestion, your equanimity, and the quality of your life."
--from How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci
by Michael J. Gelb

I don't really recommend the book, but I can see why people in the corporate world got really jacked up enough to make it a best seller. I think good airport reads that can make businessmen look like they're above the system is a good formula for a best seller.

Now I Gotta Find A New Dealer...

My neo-hippie pierced and tatooed friend Kristen (who is now into another EarthMama thing...check out her blog for more info) quit her job at Starbucks.

I can't say for sure, but now I know what a Crystal Meth junkie must feel like when he sees his supplier get arrested on the news...

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

There are web sites about taking back our time. There are newspaper articles about homework time. Entire towns have complained about the busy schedules we embrace and taken an entire night off just to spend time with family.

I guess my point is that nothing changes much. We nod politely at higher ideals but true change is rare.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

My kids were trying to decide on what to be for Halloween this year. They went simple and effective...keeping in mind that the church festivities prevent choosing "scary" stuff. Kelsey and her friends decided to be fairies. Shelby will be a cat. This week-long discussion got a few Halloween thoughts flowing:

My favorite Halloween costume from my childhood was when I was 12. I went as Paul Stanley from KISS, and drew on fake chest hair. My friend went as Gene Simmons and actually had some fake blood pills he could chew on and spit out. The guy that was Ace Frehley got sick and we never did find a Peter Criss. It's hard to walk about 3 miles in poorly crafted platform shoes.

There's a guy in our neighborhood who has a huge python. The guy puts the snake in the middle of the driveway and sits in front of it with a bowl of candy. After the "trick-or-treat" demand, he offers the kids a choice. You can have two pieces of candy from him, but if you hop over the snake you can grab two handfuls from the bowl on the other side. Of course, you're actually committing to hopping the snake twice. I'd like to stay there all night and watch the revelatory reactions of the various kids.

I have always disliked the kids on or near their "last" Halloween who go around emptying the bowls of candy people who aren't home leave on the "honor system." Even when I was a kid this tactic annoyed me. To this day I've never done it.

I enjoy that combination of terror/fun when you go to a neighbor's hosue and they have the piano theme music from the horror flick playing and then, after you get your candy, they chase you out of the yard by simply firing up the chainsaw in the garage wearing a hockey goalie mask and peering around a corner at you. I can see why their wives bark at them when they choose to do it to the smaller kids, but when you're 11, it's scary/awesome.

I always liked haunted houses, too. I especially liked the interactive ones where you put your hands in spaghetti in the crazy surgeon's patient's gut. You can also be scared out of your wits by someone simply walking at you if there's a strobe light going behind them.

There's another guy in my neighborhood that set up stuff this year to look like the last 5 minutes of a horror flick, with all sorts of bodies all over the yard. The best one is a poor dude who has been electrocuted on the light pole on the corner of his property. He was also impaled. It's hard to figure out if the electrocution happened before or after the impaling, but my suspicion is before (although there's still the matter of how he got impaled because...well, you have to see it). I overheard a suburban soccer mom faction discussing whether or not to ask him to tone it down. I think that discussion is best left to dads.

All this, and I still don't have a costume idea for me this year...

Monday, October 20, 2003

The 1,000-yard stare.

I thought I had a good discussion starter for my high school Sunday School class. It was a scene from "Raiders of the Lost Ark." The scene where Indiana Jones hears from some government agents that Nazi archaeologists are trying to find the Ark of the Covenant. Indiana tells his boss that the opportunity to beat them to it is what he's waited his entire life for. His passion, his mission, his entire life for cryin' out loud, were tied to this one moment.

It fit the Bible text I was teaching, too. In the last half of 1 Timothy 6 where the Greek word for "pursue" means to "continually pursue with great passion." Later, there's more active verbage about "taking hold of the eternal life to which we were called." A life of passion, mission, adventure...

I thought the worship before the teaching time was excellent and set a tone for God's truth to impact hearts. I thought the movie scene fit the text perfectly. I tried my best to teach with passion and honesty and from a platform of humility, having already been convicted by that text from three weeks ago when I was preparing the lesson.

And I was greeted by a room full of high schoolers with the 1,000-yard stare. You know, the technique soldiers to use while they're being yelled at by drill sargeants? Just stare blankly at a fixed point 1,000 yards away.

Was the Holy Spirit not moving? Or was He moving in a convicting way? Were the teens processing information (knowing that a well-asked question requires a thoughtful response)? Was I afield from my students? Was I ineffective in my communication? Am I becoming marginalized? Or is it a sign of incredible teaching acumen?

The 1,000-yard stare may be effective as an emotional defense, but in a classroom setting, suffice to say it ain't the response you want from your students, buddy.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

"As a day well-spent brings blessed sleep, a life well-lived brings a blessed death." Leonardo da Vinci.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

I don't watch television on Friday nights. If I'm even home, that's time reserved for the latest Blockbuster pick-up. But last night my oldest daughter was at the middle school dance, my youngest daughter was wanting to veg out in front of whatever Disney TV had to offer and we couldn't start the DVD because one of us would have to pick up Kid 1 before the movie ended. A quandry if there ever was one.

Somehow we wound up watching this show called Joan of Arcadia on CBS. It starts with the Joan Osborne song about God being one of us...naturally, the premise is that this teenage girl Joan winds up getting instructions from God, who appears as normal people you might wind up seeing in your daily happenings. You know, the guy in the Navy uniform, the elderly lady shopping in your store, the radio talk show host, etc.

I have no idea who is writing the show or their background, but it would provide all sorts of discussion starters about who God is and what He is like and all that jazz. In the hour I watched last night, all sorts of words like "free will" came up. When Joan objected to God wanting her to build a model boat, she complained that she wanted to do something bigger for God, " the world or something." God responded, "Gee, Joan, the last time I asked somebody to build a boat is was 'to save the world or something.'"

It was a well-written, well-acted, well-produced show. It's a shame no one will watch it and it will wind up in reruns on UPN or the Family Channel, like My So-Called Life and Thirtysomething and any other show that makes you think.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Okay, so I've been thinking about famous people and why they're famous. Some of those people I may not like/admire, but I understand why they're famous. People like the Olsen twins, Britney Spears, Shania Twain, Abba, Steven King, J-Lo, etc. would all fall into this category.

But it's the other category that I'm thinking about. Those people that are famous and I have no idea why I know who they are. My list, in order:

Ashton Kutcher
The Hilton sisters
Dom Delouise
Carson Daly

And if the MTV show Cribs is any indication, there is too much money in the world given to no-talent hacks like Papa Roach, too. But that's another discussion...

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Before I get into this, please know that I couldn't care less about the political situation in California, outside of the fact that it could possibly affect my higher-order life-liver sister Jilly in some way.

Anyway, David Letterman showed a video clip of Arnold Schwarzennegar, circa 1980, surrounded by belly dancers and he jumps in the middle and puts his hands on the buttocks of one of the dancers and dances. It was in a "fun" spirit and it was obvious the dancer wasn't offended. Naturally, Letterman had a great line and the crowd howled at Arnold's expense.

But here's the deal. We all have those moments in our youth that we were acting silly, or having a good time, or wore clothes we wish we hadn't, or had the hairstyle we regret, or made the stupid mistake, or saying the wrong thing...whatever.

It's bad enough looking at the birthday party photos from 1975, or seeing the Easter Super 8mm films of me and dad in maroon leisure suits, or even some of those college fraternity pics reveal more than we might like...and don't even start about living through the 1980's and the horrible fashions that simply occurred naturally. And, being a youth minister, man, I've done some ridiculous things.

But I'm thinking of a minor cultural shift. See, I lived my youth before everybody had a video camera...with sound and everything. Can you imagine living the years of youth with the potential to have it all on video? Or, more importantly, when we choose to do something stupid our friends get out the video camera?

Think about it. In or out of context, those clips of our lives could come back to haunt us. Maybe we should work on some self-policing of the video technology. Or maybe we should work on some self-policing of how we act.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

The major league baseball playoffs had more viewers than Monday Night Football, according to the people who measure such things. This gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, America is getting their collective heads right. We all know that baseball is dull only to dull minds.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Yesterday, it dawned on me that I've lived in Texas for almost 9 years. I've also been told by people that have lived here over twice as long that I'll never be a have to be born here to get that distinction. I guess I understand that, though. I mean, everyone knows that you can't be a true Southerner unless you've ever been taught that what others call the "Civil War" you call "The War of Northern Aggression." You can't be an Alabamian unless you chose your football team at an early age.

I was wondering what the requirements would be to become at least an honorary Texan...or at the very least an official Dallasite.

For sure, you'd have to have visited the Cradle of Texas Liberty (what the sign on the Alamo really says, right above the one that says "No flash photography. Gentlemen, remove hats."), which, for some odd reason, they've built Marriott hotels and Wendy's restaurants on the actual grounds of the Alamo.

I'd also think you'd have to have developed an unnatural boot need. A pair of boots in the $150 range seems like it matters. In fact, my first neighbor in Texas used old cowboy boots as planters on his porch. He also had a children's potty on his front porch so his potty-training kids wouldn't have to go all the way in the house, which may throw the boots-as-planters decor into question.

You'd have to be able to tell people where things are in relation to the closest mall. For example, if you wanted to find a certain restaurant, you might say, "It's on Greenville, just south of North Park Mall."

You'd definitely have to have attended the State Fair of Texas and ridden the Texas Star ferris wheel. They also have fried Snicker's bars, for crying out loud.

You'd have to have informed your boss that due to the quarter inch of snow, you'll be working at home today.

You'd have to have developed a certain "Mexican food snobbery." You just know, and inform those around you, things like, "Ugh. This salsa is from a jar."

You'd have to watch news broadcasts enough to know that every October, the anchor will say, "And the Neimann-Marcus Christmas catalog was released today, and it contains everything from personal robots to coffee mugs that keep your java warm." This is usually followed by a poor attempt at witty banter and anchor chemistry.

You have to have lived here long enough to compare summers. What I mean is, when someone says, "Man, this summer heat has been brutal." You'd have to be able to respond, "Yeah, it's tough. But it's nothing like '81. THAT was brutal." I also think selective memory and revisionist history play a part in this one.

One last one from my brain before I defer to your comments would be that you'd have to have purchased something "Texan" to give to your friends who don't live here for Christmas. You know, like ice trays that are make ice into Texas-shaped cubes, or "True Texan Chili Powder." Stuff like that.

Monday, October 13, 2003

"Christianity has boomed in the developing world, competing successfully with Islam, deepening its influence and possibly finding its future there. But Europe already seems more and more like a series of tourist-trod monuments to Christianity's past. Hardly a month goes by when the pope does not publicly bemoan that fact, beseeching Europeans to rediscover the faith.

Their estrangement has deep implications, including the prospect of schisms in intercontinental churches and political frictions within and between countries.

The secularization of Europe, according to some political analysts, is one of the forces pushing it apart from the United States, where religion plays a potent role in politics and society, shaping many Americans' views of the world.

Americans are widely regarded as more comfortable with notions of good and evil, right and wrong, than Europeans, who often see such views as reckless.

In France, which is predominantly Catholic but emphatically secular, about one in 20 people attends a religious service every week, compared with about one in three in the United States."

This quote is from today's New York Times. It's a two-part (2nd part either tomorrow or next Sunday...I wasn't quite clear on it) feature article entitled "The Changing Church," which even has some interesting charts and graphs that should get your Columbus Day thoughts rolling.

I wish they'd done the article on the Changing Church here in America, though.

Seems to me that much of the church in America these days is pretty much just trying to jump on some sort of bandwagon to get people in the door rather than equipping them to grow in Christ and help the Body mature.

In fact, I was just talking with my friend Jessica on Friday about this very thing. She's at college, living in a home with other girls, all of whom have different religious beliefs. Her roommates, at various times, make various observations about the Christian community and direct questions to her...Jess has a tough time explaining us sometimes.

I said, "We're a disaster, aren't we?"

If you know Jess, she's a very measured wordsmith, and she responded, "Exactly. We ARE a disaster."

Sunday, October 12, 2003

I can't think of a better way to start a fall Sunday morning than with the windows open, a cup of better-than-average coffee, and the Sunday newspaper...just leisurely flipping the pages and sipping away.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

I'm officially out on cell phone usage. If I see one more teenager or soccer mom or old codger chatting away while driving, or if one more goes off in a worship service, or classroom, or restaurant, or some DVD renter asking which movie, I'm pulling the offender's bottom lip over their head.

Notice to the world: It was a better place before cell phones.

Friday, October 10, 2003

I'm re-reading Bloom's book The Closing of the American Mind so I'm in one of those moods. How come on the show MTV Cribs, we never see their libraries?

And why can't people be content with their lives? Why do they want more? Pro athletes who "have it all" have affairs. The plumber wants a bigger house. The teacher wants to make more money. You get the idea.

In the words of the Violent Femmes, in their song "America is...": "The American dream is only a dream."

Thursday, October 09, 2003

I read today where Sheryl Crow and Britney Spears have stalkers who were convicted. I can't decide if the "benefits" of fame would be worth the occasional creep.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

I got a notice from my high school class that we've set a date for our 20th high school reunion. Manalive...20 years since high school. The Orwellian Class of 1984 is pushing 40. And, by the way, I'm definitely going. I like reunions, even if they pretty much amount to getting caught up on your favorite soap opera.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

What is it about little league sports that exposes the character of the adults who coach it? Last night, the coach of my daughter's OPPOSING team was having his weaker hitters intentionally "bunt" with no intention of swinging the bat (or really even bunting, just distracting the pitcher) in hopes of drawing walks so they could get on base.

Okay, I understand that the pitcher should throw strikes and that the defense should make the plays, but these are 10-12 year-olds who don't throw strikes consistently (it's normal to have 5 walks per team in ONE INNING) yet and the odds of a catcher making the throw to first are slim, too. But this isn't the competitive league (it's actually called "select" softball...but don't EVEN get me started on that) that our community also offers.

In short, the coach was manipulating the rules to WIN the game in a RECREATIONAL league instead of coaching the girls to get better and learn the game. They may score runs and win games (which they didn't win this one, they actually tied due to time limitations, so this isn't about sour grapes) but they won't learn the game (or respect the game) or get better.

Why can't an adult see that the smile of the last batter in the lineup after she gets her first hit of the season (which we got to see last night) is worth sacrificing a few walks and runs...or wins?

I'm glad I told him the things I'm blogging about last night, too. Needless to say, he was unmoved by my insights.

The sad thing is he really believes a 12-year-old winning one game is important. Deep in his heart he really BELIEVES this stuff.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Some truly random thoughts:

Can anyone tell me why e-mail SPAM and telemarketing actually exist? I don't know of anyone who has ever responded to either one.

Teaching the Bible to teenagers is an adrenaline rush to me. I wonder why that is the case when public speaking is terrifying to most people and the Bible seems boring to most people.

My friend Katherine has a great quote from one of my favorite authors, Eugene Peterson, on her blog. It's about the inherent value of personal relationships. Last night, I watched an hysterically funny movie (well, only if you think Jack Black is funny) with five reminded me that laughter really is medicine. And friendships are more valuable than we imagine.

Killing a wasp with a rolled up magazine made me feel like a big-game hunter and protector of my children this morning. I would trophy-mount the bug if there was anything left to mount. That reality only made me feel tougher.

Why does the advertisement for the women's friendly soccer game between Mexico and the United States coming to Dallas in November have a prominent photograph of Brandi Chastain with her jersey off exposing her sports bra? Deosn't having the best women's soccer players in the world sell tickets on it's own merit?

I understand the appeal of the "rave" culture to the disenfranchised teens in our culture. Very similar culture to the punk rock mindset (it's own music & style of dress) but without the deconstructionist overtones.

Finally: my sister is coming back today from Tuscany. Wine tasting trip or some such. It's nice to have somebody so cool to live vicariously through.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Suburban Saturday: Went and got breakfast for the family (shouts out to Chick Fil A). Wife takes the minivan to baby shower (shouts out to Kenoa Clemons). I mowed the lawn (shouts out to Briggs and Stratton). Wife went grocery shopping (shouts out to Albertson's). We all had sandwiches for lunch (shouts out to roast beef). I took oldest daughter to softball game (shouts out to the victorious Blast). We ate take-out food for dinner (shouts out to KFC). We talked to family on the phone (shouts out to my nephew for scoring a TD). We watched a football game on TV (shouts out to Auburn). We watched Saturday Night Live (shouts out to Tina Fey, the funniest woman on TV). We went to sleep (shouts out to my two pillows). When it's worded like this, it doesn't look like it, but it was a fantastic day. Sometimes the joy really is in the relationships that are tied into our "normals."

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Anybody that thinks professionals in ministry have easy jobs don't have to deal with the nature of human nature consistently. The heart is indeed wicked above all else, and I challenge anyone who truly believes that mankind is innately "good" to prove that theory theologically, experientially and by observation.

Of course, the flip-side of that coin is that this fact is what makes the Gospel of Christ very good news, indeed. And I challenge anyone to disprove THAT theory theologically, experientially and by observation.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Further evidence that college football is the true religion in the great state of Alabama (or Heart of Dixie as it reads on the car tags): After the Crimson Tide's loss to Arkansas last week, a 16-year-old asked his dad to buy him a car for his birthday. The dad supposedly shot at him with a pistol.

The son was quoted in the paper as saying, "Well, looking back on it, that might not have been the best time to ask."

This is not a joke. Repeat: This is not a joke.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Kiss and Aerosmith are playing here in Dallas tonight. Reminds me of 1982 for some reason. However, for a guy that grew up with the sticker from Kiss' "Rock and Roll Over" album on his door, had a Kiss Army membership, and purchased Joe Perry's two solo albums, seems like a $48.50 for a trip down Nostalgia Lane would be worth it. However, in 2003, two gas tanks for the minivan are of higher priority.

I don't think you can be more angst-ridden rock and roll than listening to Kiss' greatest hits in a minivan.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

I'm back from Phoenix (where, just so you know, I'm now part owner of their civic-owned ballpark due to a 44% tax on rental cars...I guess that's my penance for not paying to get in the other night)...

As always, my anti-baby-boomer sentiment antennae popped up when I read this quote from Renee Schaeffer Horton's column today regarding the behavior of children:

"I hate to condemn my entire generation, but I hardly can hold myself back. If ever there was a group of my-kid-can-do-no-wrong people, it is baby boomers. Sadly, the generation on our heels isn't much better...Disrespectful, self-centered children aren't "a kid problem." This, dear Watson, is a parent problem. Kids grow up reflecting what they learned. Loutish parents who believe Copernicus told them they are the center of the universe raise children who believe they, too, defy the laws of physics and don't need manners...They want life their way, in their time, with no screw-ups. What do you mean you forgot the whipped cream on my no-fat, extra-hot, decaf mocha? Let me throw a tantrum right here, and no tip for you, Little Missy."

I have little problem condemning the baby-boomers. And, the way they turned out, creating a cornucopia of problems for our generation to clean up only makes me laugh when I hear Tom Brokaw refer to their parents as "The Greatest Generation." In my estimation, that moniker belongs to the pierced and tatooed in our society who see reality through Bible-shaped filters with have no case of "good-old-days syndrome." I guess maybe that's why I love working with them so much...