Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Simpson's Questions

How come the First Church of Springfield is packed (except for Super Bowl Sunday, in which the sign outside reads "Where Every Sunday Is Super Sunday?") weekly given that Reverend Lovejoy is preaching sermons- in a failed attempt to be relevant, I guess -titled "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Salvation" in his monotone style?

And, how is it that he allows Ned Flanders gets to park in the "Parishoner of the Month" spot every month?

And, how did Bart and Milhouse actually get it past Reverend Lovejoy to get an 18-minute version of "In The Garden Of Eden" by I. Ron Butterfly (to Iron Butterfly's "In A Gadda Da Vida") and even get him to introduce it by saying, "From God's brain to your mouths..."?

I guess what I'm getting at today is simple: The portrayal of the Simpson's writers regarding evangelicalism and where they are right and where they are off base...or...

your favorite Reverend Lovejoy/First Church moment...

You can go scholarly or pop culture with this one, kids.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

The Emotions of Fatherhood

I experienced two very different emotions yesterday.

First, my ballerina/blogger daughter Shelby rocked her knee pretty good at recess yesterday. Sure. Kids do that. But this one required x-rays and such. It wasn't so much that, but the fact that when you're a ballerina in full-throttle mindset of practicing for three different recitals, and a broken bone would not only endanger that possibility but also jeopardize time-table goals she's set for herself...well, it was a strange emotion. Anxiousness for her knee, sure...but more a concern for her mental processes. We'll get the "official" reading of the x-ray today, but everything points to a severe bruise. Shelby seems in good spirits about it all, and may even enjoy the week off from dance.

Then, last night, my daughter's softball team wasn't playing as expected in the first two innings. Trailing 8-3, they made a furious comeback in the last two innings and softball/blogger daughter came up to bat with the bases loaded and the Blast trailing 8--7. Two strikes. Then, she ripped one up the middle for a single and the two runners scored--a clean single with no errors. Then, in the top of the last inning she made a great throw from the outfield (she was the shortstop cutting off the throw) and just missed getting a runner out at the plate. Her team won 10-9, but that fact really is irrelevant. She was in good spirits on the way home, complete with not being able to sleep due to the excitement of getting a hit in the clutch.

This fatherhood stuff gets more difficult emotionally as your kids age...I can't imagine what my emotions will be doing when they start driving and/or dating or if the games aren't in the rec league or if the auditions are for higher stakes...

Monday, March 29, 2004

Tell All Books

Here's the gist of it: JFK, Jr. and his wife die in a flying accident. Time passes. Some guy writes a tell-all book detailing his affair with the Mrs. Kennedy...and private conversations between the two and all that. Granted, I haven't read it...and can assure you I won't. I still think I'm on safe ground commenting on this one, though.

I don't understand what the allure is about regarding:

a) anything Kennedy-related that isn't political in nature (Chappaquidick--sp?--being a notable exception, although I would argue that is somewhat political in nature)
b) why anyone would betray someone they cared about and proudly take cash for doing so (especially after they're dead and can't respond)
c) why anyone would care enough to pay 20-some-odd bucks for a tell-all book about these particular people

If anyone could enlighten me, please do so.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Espionage And Intrigue

I should've known when I saw that you can pay a fee and have the ski resort track your day of skiing by having you wear this monitor. At the end of the day, they give you a souvenir trail map that has all your ski runs highlighted and such. Pretty cool, I guess, if you're into purchasing those kinds of discussion starters.

Then I read where several mobile phone manufacturers now sell models with, in effect, a global positioning chip in them that can be monitered by those with the proper authority to do so. Apparently, this works well for the government (surprise!) or private businesses who are monitoring the whereabouts of their employees. You know, so the boss of a snow-plow company can see when and where or if certain streets were done...things like that. Again, not too bad.

But if you can't see the potential for real abuse here...eeeeek. But for now, I guess it's a practical idea.

Anyway, now the fine folks at (insert your favorite cell phone manufacturer here) have made monitoring teenagers affordable. They are going to market the cell phone/tracker to parents who want to keep up with the whereabouts of their offspring.

Yes, I can see some upsides. I mean, if you're kid is lying in a ditch somewhere after curfew blah blah blah.

Yes, (insert your wireless provider here) will make a bundle if they market this deal right with clever commercials about peace of mind and love and security.

What those commercials won't tell you is that human nature is a peculiar animal. All this really does is make the "espionage intrigue" between parents and teens more high-tech. Like, (say this like you're a grandfather and just pulled a pipe out of your mouth) back in my day, you just called from any phone, told your mom you were at Jimmy's, and hung up.

Then came the service "Star 69." R.E.M. wrote a song about it. All a parent had to do was hit those magic numbers and it would call the place the most recent phone call came from.

Our next salvo was to call from Jimmy's, wait for the Star 69 return call from Mom, and then head out to the party.

And so on, and so on.

Now, does anyone with any brains see teenagers handing their cell phone to their friend who's off to the library before they head out to wherever they're not supposed to be with the people they're not supposed to be with?

Can you see it? A bunch of cell phones on the library steps while the kids are out driving around listening to that poison rock and roll...

"We tried to call. Why didn't you answer your phone?"
"Mom, it's the library. You know they make us put the phones of vibrate and it was in my backpack."

And then (insert your favorite cell phone manufacturer here) creates a heat-sensitive tracker for making sure the phone stays next to body heat...and then the teens strap it to a dog at their friend's house...

And the espionage continues to cause parents to up their monthly contribution to (insert your favorite wireless service provider here).

Saturday, March 27, 2004

A perfect example

You want to know why GenX feels politics doesn't solve anything? See the current panel (allegedly non-partisan) looking into 9-11 security issues. Hindsight is always perfect...and, frankly, I think Clinton and Bush, Jr. both did what would be in line with normal expectations given the information they had at the time. You can't stop anybody who is willing to die for a cause.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Open Notice

To the three churches within a half-mile of each other who are using a variation of "The Passion of the Christ" as the title of their upcoming Easter sermons (and using marquee banners to promote such):

Yes, we all appreciate the attempt to be relevant, but, I'm sure you've noticed the reality that others are on the same bandwagon (visible from each of your parking lots). You're not really being all that innovative, clever or creative.

Actually, my hope is that many people who aren't church attenders do indeed come to your services because of your advertisements. Just make a concerted effort that you accurately handle the Word of God on that Sunday when they show up. The issue on Easter is the resurrection...or what would be the "sequel" to the movie you're piggybacking.

Remind the people who attend that when Jesus said that he came that we might have life, and have it abundantly, He wasn't kidding. And, knowing that the only way "dead" people can have "life" in Christ is for Him to actually be ALIVE to make that happen...well, Easter is our reminder.

Tell your parishioners & visitors that, as new creations, we have the ability to live abundantly by abiding in a living Savior and He in us. So, once people sit in your pews (or chairs, for our multi-purposed building brethren) on that Sunday after being drawn in by your ads, tell them that. It is Good News. So, Preach the Word. In season and out of season...because sometimes people want to have their ears tickled.

Don't give in to the temptation to tickle ears. Promote the "sequel," dear brothers and sisters. Promote the sequel.

And that's my prayer for my own church as well.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Today, I'm...

...considering torching all my journals I've kept since late high school.
...wondering why I'm so fascinated with Seattle. I've never been there, but give me an overcast day and some drizzle, and I fire up my "Emerald City" coffee mug and bust out the Mudhoney Greatest Hits CD.
...trying to decide if my crepe myrtles will come back after the beheading I gave them two weeks ago.
...trying to ignore the siren song of Major League Baseball's spring training. I'm supposed to be mad at MLB/Texas Rangers ownership for grievous sins against the paying customers.
...mad at "night guy" who decided to stay up and watch the west-coast Stars' hockey game last night. We won in overtime, but "morning guy" is a bit tired at the moment.
...laughing at various Beavis & Butt-head sayings rambling around in my brain.
...wanting to work hard in the office today so I can take a "comp" day off tomorrow as I haven't had one since the ski trip (how silly does that sound?).
...wishing that Tracy didn't have to have a root canal next week.
...wishing that Kelsey didn't have to get a hearing aid (but at the same time, glad that kind of technology exists!).
...wishing Buford, the greatest of all dogs even at age 15, could get around like she wants to get around (I can see it in her eyes).
...want to write the essay rattling around in my brain, but process is process. My ideas need to simmer until they literally boil out of me, and this one ain't boiling yet.
...glad I'm employed and get paid for doing what I love.
...hoping it doesn't rain so I can play croquet with my girls (I taught them how to play two days ago and they love it, even though they spend more time trying to croquet the other balls rather than winning).
...wondering what my friend Cristina is doing hoarding all the "super soaker" water guns.
...not at all upset that I can't/don't dance.
...enjoying the memory of my junior/senior guys Bible study last night. The guys and the study are a blast.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Love Dances and Catches

On Monday afternoon, I picked up Shelby from her dance class. She walked across the parking lot, dance bag over her shoulder, made eye contact with me, smiled, and piled in the car...then told me about her recital costumes.

Yesterday, Kelsey played catcher in the absence of her team's regular catcher in a scrimmage game. At the end of the first inning, she comes walking back to the dugout, shin guards on, chest protector tied too loosely, face mask propped up on her head, made eye contact with me and smiled, kept walking.

In both cases, I can't really explain the emotion that I felt. They're beautiful in their own ways, and I love them more than I can express.
Provocative Thoughts

From the book I'm reading (listed on the left...and yes, I know that my reading list has slowed a bit, but the spring break ski trip preparation/execution has slowed my normal reading pace, but I'm back up to snuff) on comparing philosophy and baseball, I came across an essay discussing "team chemistry" by comparing the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates (known for "We Are Family" and dancing on dugouts to that disco song with their wives after victories) against the explosive late 70's New York Yankees with Steinbrenner, Reggie, and Billy Martin.

So, is unity important or does chaos invite creativity and innovation? The question applies to business or sports or anything else...

I'll leave the conclusions to you, but here's some quotes from the essay that got my brain working:

"If the world were a perfect place, it wouldn't be."--Yogi Berra, Yankees catcher.

"American society appears animated because men and things are constantly changing, but it is monotonous because all of these changes are alike."--Alexis de Tocqueville.

"Less attention, I suppose, is paid to philosophy in the United States thanin any other country in the civilized world."--Alexis de Tocqueville.

"This may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word 'tension.' Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must see the need of having nonviolent gadflies."--Martin Luther King, in his "Letter from Birmingham City Jail."

I love a good read early in the morning.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Somehow Existential.

Do you ever get the nagging feeling that you're supposed to be doing MORE for The Kingdom with your life? Yesterday, that feeling was like a cloud following me around. Today, the sun came up behind that cloud.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Space Age Technology

I saw on the news that the average price for a gallon of gasoline is $1.72. My hoopty needs the premium go-juice, so my cost is about a dime higher. The seem to think that we'll either go higher than two bucks per gallon or they'll dip into something called the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to maintain current prices.

It's too late for this summer, but it seems like so many of the problems in the U.S. would be solved if we took all the money we're talking about spending on a trip to Mars and got full-blown serious about public transportation and...yes...SOLAR POWER technology.

In fact, I saw Bill Clinton in an interview after he left office and he said that the best thing America could do in the next 20 years was to get as serious about solar power as they did about the space race in the 60's.

Now, obviously, his administration did nothing towards that end, even in the lame duck years (even with the eco-conscious Al Gore riding shotgun), but there's a reason that it's political suicide to get on that bandwagon...could someone please tell me why that's the case? In my feeble way of thinking, it makes sense.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Is it me?

How come on the commercials for the Hummer 2 it's always driving on some tundra or in a mud bog? The only ones I see are in suburban parking lots taking up two spaces so they don't get door-dings.

Should the music of Led Zeppelin be used to market anything? Especially that ugly Cadillac?

Viacom (the parent company of CBS) was recently upset over Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" in which a boob was exposed for a split-second. How then, can another channel they own (Spike TV) be proudly announcing "The Sports Illustrated 40th Anniversary Swimsuit Special" and expect to have any credibility?
From our good friends at The Door Magazine...

For those of you who've never been to The Door (which has brought us such Christian spoof's as the prayer of Jabez' next door neighbor who was bitter that Jabez' borders kept expanding), here is some more brilliance (thanks to Jonathan Hays who got there before I did):

An Effective Tract

Saturday, March 20, 2004

New Version of March Madness?

I couldn't care less about the college basketball tournament. To hear the TV and radio talk show hosts tell it, the whole country has brackets filled out for office pools. They say that office productivity will screech to a halt while either watching breathlessly on keeping up with scores on the internet. Maybe it's because pastors generally don't have office pools, but I don't know anyone who really cares about all the "Road To San Antonio."

My fraternity had a bracket pool. You paid two bucks for the right to draw a team out of the hopper (each of the 64 team's 2-inch bio/season recap was cut out of the Monday USA Today after the teams were selected and taped to an index card) and if your team won the tournament you got the money. I won in once, and I cared about winning the $128 bucks, but not about the tournament.

However, growing up in the Deep South, March Madness had a different meaning.

First, this is the weekend my fraternity had the annual Luau. It was 4 weeks of covering the house with bamboo stolen from some field in east Alabama, paper mached volcanoes and tikis, complete with a couple of man-made pools and streams and even a swinging bridge (the engineering majors had a blast with this practical application of knowledge)...followed by 4 days of debauchery and chaos. My favorite part was the guys that would literally drive to the Gulf Coast in a pickup truck and buy 150 pounds of fresh shrimp and drive it back for us to have for dinner on the Friday night portion of the party. Another great memory was one year some band offered to play for free after the seafood dinner (apparently they were trying to break into the college market at Auburn) in our front yard and they were incredible...playing all sorts of songs that would eventually wind up on CD's with titles like "Classic Fraternity Party Anthem Rock." It was like the pied piper as they just cranked it up and people kept coming to hear where the great music was coming from...and about 2,000 people wound up around our fraternity house. We had a blast and they played until the cops shut 'em down.

Second, this party coincided with what is called A-Day. It's a ritualistic celebration in which 30,000 people (referred to as "members of the Auburn family") will drive about two hours and pay $5 bucks to watch the football team play a game against itself. It's a glorified practice with referees and a scoreboard. In Alabama, the "game" is showed on regional television and the Sunday papers will dissect each play and player and make predictions about the upcoming football season.

These days, my March Madness involves lawn care, a nap, and shuttling kids to art and softball. Maybe today I should build a tiki in the back yard, crank up a classic rock anthem like "Long Cool Woman In A Red Dress" and stroll over to the park to watch a meaningless soccer practice.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Youth Ministry In A Nutshell: A Case Study.

A ski trip for high school students, from the youth pastor's eyes, begins 10 months ahead of time. You have to estimate the number of teens who will be going from your group. You have to choose the dates. You have to select the mountain, or mountains, you want to ski. You have to select the mode of transportation. Then you set the price, make the flyers, and pray that you don't wind up $30,000 in the red.

Then the students sign up on an "installment plan." You begin the strict accounting process to ensure the teens' payments wind up credited to the right person...and protect your ministry self in the process.

You select adults to go...a mixture of good skiiers and good organizers. This is actually the easiest part of the deal. Who doesn't want an extremely discounted ski trip in exchange for a few limited chores?

Then you have to get 50 teenagers to get their necessary paperwork in on time. This is actually the hardest part of the deal.

Then, just before the deadline, you have to fend off teens and parents who have changed their spring break plans and now want to go, and they can't understand why you can't just "let them (or their kid) go on the group rate." Well, there are all sorts of restrictions on the advance purchases we make. Believe me, moms and dads and teens, I'd let as many go as wanted to go if I's good for my P.R. for cryin' out loud!

The trip date comes up and you have to get 50 jacked-up teens through airline check-in and security. This is always dicey. You never know who lost their ID's and can't find their wallet and who knows what they're doing in this process. For example, an exchange at the ticket desk yesterday:

Agent: How many bags will you be checking?
Kid: None. (His bag was oversize and weighed 70 pounds)
Agent: May I have your paper ticket and identification? (She was working exclusively with our group)
Kid: Sure. (Kid then puts the paper ticket on the counter and walks away, pulling his luggage. No boarding pass. No clue.)

You then check-in 50 teens at a resort who makes an absolute killing on Texas/Oklahoma teenagers. 5 floors, 9 youth groups registered...and one unknowing honeymoon couple who I guess had seen the brochure and thought they could get a great view of the mountain and save a few bucks by staying across the road. Note to all of you: Anytime you're thinking of taking a romantic "getaway" at summer or spring break, you may want to ask how many youth groups might be staying at your intended vacation spot...a relaxing hot tub with your new spouse changes moods when 6 high school guys with a severe case of "oneupsmanship" after a day of skiing decide to join you.

Once you get to the resort you take 50 teens through the process of fitting boots, skis and poles, as well as any various upgrades.

The first morning, you take your group to the resort and show them the lay of the land. They know the check-in spots at lunch...which have to be secured and guarded by an adult so your group will have enough seats to pay $13.50 for a sandwich, bowl of fruit and candy bar. You take the adult to the infirmary to turn in the very important paperwork and get a beeper and if one of your kids winds up there, you get beeped. You get the first timers off to lessons.

Then the magic happens. It's why us youth pastors do all the above.

You ski with teens. You build relationships and lifetime memories with lift laughs (let's just say the snowboarding term "hucking" can be not only misunderstood by grownups, but creatively applied by teens to situations both on and off the slopes that you almost...almost...feel guilty for laughing at). You watch them "get it" right after lunch the first day and see that look in their eyes when they say, "I went down (insert name of tough green run here) and I DIDN'T FALL!!!!"

You have a meeting at night in which they actually pay attention to your Bible study (of course, you remember to keep it to 10 minutes because of the fatigue factor). They actually worship together. A few adults talk about their spiritual life. Then we have a mock trial every night to award this embarrasingly goofy hat to the kid who did the dumbest thing during the day...complete with judge, prosecuters and defenders, witnesses, reenactments, objections, court reporters...the whole bit (apparently in American culture, the court procedure is very well taught in schools--or at least very well gleaned from hours of television). Who needs skits? You just let teenagers ham it up and you laugh for about 40 minutes.

"Judge: So what exactly is the charge?"
Teen: Your Honor, I'd like to charge (engaged group leader) Lizzie with Inappropriate Public Display of Affection With A Group Leader."
Judge: And what observation causes you to make this charge?
Teen: Well, at the top of the Zephyr lift upon getting out of the chair, Steve went left as we discussed, Lizzie went right which is the opposite of what we discussed, and she knocked him over. Then she landed on top of him. Then she got the giggles and couldn't get up. Steve was trying to get out from underneath her but couldn't because of his snowboard so they had to stop the lift until they could compose themselves and get out of the way.
Judge: So, (good friend of Lizzie and her fiance, and noted available college-age bachelor) Steve, would you also like to add Mental and Emotional Anguish to the charge?
Steve: Are you kidding? I wouldn't mind it at all if it happened again! It was GREAT!"

Repeat the entire process for three days. Except on the last night, you turn a blind-eye to the bending of the hotel rules because they think it's really on the edge to stay up past "lights out" and order a pizza (I have fantastic teens in my group). Then you suddenly need to get ice, or need to check something with the manager just to see the group scatter like cockroaches really just to amuse yourself...then unload the contents of your water bottle of the freshman guy who made the mistake of opening his door without checking the eye-hole to the "can't believe he knew we were doing this and doesn't care" group.

So...what's the point? Taking a bunch of kids skiing? Putting up with all this hassle?

It ain't about the skiing, folks. It's about the relationships built that will allow the teens to open up about where they are spiritually. It's about the mileage the teens get together that allows for truly deep and encouraging friendships. It's about the trust you get from your teens because they know you really care about them...and they really, in some wierd way, care about you.

And on the way back, a kid pulls you aside during the hour and a half wait in the airport and pours their heart out to you and trusts you with deep dark things that go on in all our minds but no one talks about. And you see extraordinary possibilities for The Kingdom because this kid is so stinkin' gifted, talented and passionate and you want to bend over backwards to give them every opportunity to grow.

And then they say, "Thank you so much for listening. Thank you so much for caring. You're the best."

And then you realize you'd pay $30,000 for that experience all by itself.

I have the best job on the planet.

Saturday, March 13, 2004


The McKinney Diner will, for the first time since it's inception, be on hiatus after the post below from this morning, and will return on Friday morning, March 19, with thoughts from hanging out with 40 teenagers in the great Rocky Mountains taking in some spring break skiing.
Really Relating Spiritually

From Mike Yaconelli: "I wake up most days with the humiliating awareness that I have no clue where Jesus is. Even though I am a minister, even though I think about Jesus every day, my following is...uh...meandering.

Surely there are guidelines to follow, principles to live by, maps to show us where to go, and secrets we can uncover to find a spirituality that is clean and tidy. I'm afraid not."

Spirituality is not a formula; it is not a test. It is a relationship. Spirituality is not about competency; it is about intimacy. Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of the spiritual life begins where we are now in the mess of our lives. Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws but because we let go of seeking perfection and, instead, seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives. Sprituality is not about being fixed; it is about being present in the mess of our unfixedness."

That is what is on my mind this morning. I read it yesterday afternoon and can't get it out of my head...and it's the fourth time I've read the book.

Friday, March 12, 2004

No Other (Or Better) Way To Say It

From today's op-ed page of the New York Times:

"Terrorism threatens all of us, everywhere, every morning. Terrorists respect no national boundaries, political systems, ideologies or religions...We are all Madrileños now."

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Solicited Quote

My friend Taylor (who also happens to be RearviewWindow's brother) has actually quoted my blog in his student newspaper and even asked for another quote for the article he's writing. Man...I'm kinda floored by the number of people who actually care about the crud that's floating around in my brain. Thanks, Taylor!
Solicited Blog

Hal, The Floridian Baptist Ex-Roomie (it's about time you got your own official blog nickname as do all my frequent readers who make comments), asked me to comment on the recent dilemma at Baylor University. Apparently, the editors of the school newspaper wrote an editorial defending the legality of homosexual marriage...which caused all sorts of press releases by leaders, generally denouncing such inflammatory thinking and printing. And, yes, Southern Baptists are different here in Texas...they actually have a conservative group and a more moderately conservative group. Texas is a really big state. Anyway...

The real temptation is to respond in a Ferris Bueller-type manner: "I'm not Baptist. I don't ever plan on being Baptist. So, what do I care what their journalism students or leadership thinks about homosexual relationships?"

Besides, I think they've got bigger fish to fry at Baylor. I mean, a basketball player allegedly murdering another basketball player. A coach believed to be in flagrant violation of NCAA rules (and even a lawsuit by a former player because the coach didn't deliver on his promises of illegal benefits). An ambitious fundraising campaign called "Baylor 2012" that looks difficult to attain, much less implement.

I can't imagine, comparatively speaking, that the poorly thought through opinion of 20-year-olds ranks high on the list of problems.

It's gone to hell in a handbasket down there ever since they allowed dancing on campus about 5 years ago.


Wednesday, March 10, 2004

All's Well That Ends Well...Or Is It?

In my blog of Friday, January 30, I discussed a situation at a local high school in which a student accused a teacher of sexual misconduct during a morning tutoring session. Much of my discussion involved the ways the entire event could've been avoided if the teacher had taken some proactive measures.

Some of my discussion jumped on the fallout from every arena: From the faculty to students to the girl involved.

Well, the teacher yesterday was cleared of all charges by a county grand jury. The charges must not have had much legal weight if a grand jury failed to issue an indictment.

I'm really very glad about that. If there's an innocent teacher who is falsely accused then I'm glad for him, his family, and his students. I feel sure he'll learn to take better preventative measures in the future...and he'll be returning to his classroom later.

For his students, I'm glad that their organized protests showed them that you can have faith in the judicial system. Their "innocent until proven guilty" signs and chants will have life-long lessons about the way things should work...and I'd say the same thing if he'd been found guilty. But, I'm glad for them that an apparently dedicated teaching professional will still be working for them.

For the accuser, that telling the truth is valuable not only to her, but also to those who also want to file a complaint in the future. "Crying Wolf" harms the legitimate complaints. But, even if something happened and she can't prove it legally, then filing a complaint in hopes that others will be wary is valuable in it's own way. Also, there's a lesson to be learned in the consequences of filing such a matter the result, no matter the reality, there are all sorts of sticky aftershocks.

Still, as I see it, there really weren't any winners in this deal.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Jury Summons

It came in the mail yesterday. Return address: Denton County Courthouse--Jury Services.

I tore the perforated edges off both ends. I am to return a questionnaire within 10 days or some very bad things will happen. Those bad things are not listed, but there's plenty of red highlights and underlining and arrows followed by a 3-step process in big bold type.

April 6 is my day to show up. 8:20AM. If I don't, I'm subject to a fine somewhere between $10 and $100. If I were a big shot, I can't imagine that penalty would motivate me.

I'm also told that my clothing should be "reasonable befitting the dignity and solemnity of the court proceedings." (big underlined bold letters tell me that shorts, tank tops and t-shirts are not reasonable, dignified or solemn) Maybe I'll watch Law & Order and see how their juries define "reasonable."

I'll go.

But why do I see this opportunity as more of a hassle than a joyful, American responsibility? Why do I envision three days of sitting in a jury pool room in reasonable clothing reading a book? Why do I desperately want to avoid hearing the word "sequestered?"

Monday, March 08, 2004

A Homeowner's Saturday

Saturday, I pruned some Crepe Myrtles in my backyard. They hadn't been pruned since we'd moved in 7 years ago. They were, in some cases 15 feet tall.

Pruned might not be the right word. I sliced the tops off them like they were broccoli. Now it looks as if there are six-foot broccoli stems standing in front of my fence.

I've gotten two opinions on this action. One is that I waited too late and now they will have to wait until next spring to bloom. The other is that, due to the extreme nature of my pruning/slicing, the blooming will be extreme and my yard will be exponentially littered with purple blooms. I'm not sure what to expect.

The other issue is now I have to take the broccoli tops down to the street today so the city will pick them up on "bulk day" tomorrow. I'm sure there's some sort of limit as to the amount of brush they will haul away, and I'm sure I'm over whatever that limit might be. However, they've broken their own rules before...

This might be the most "suburban-sounding" blog I've ever posted.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Powder Hound

As I sit here this morning, it dawned on me that in precisely one week, THIS is where I will be.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Taking A Small Break

Taking a Saturday off from deep I touched base with the tabloid The Weekly World News that has headlines this week letting us know that Arnold plans to sell California to Austria as well as the fact that new x-rays of the Mona Lisa show that she originally had a mustache. So, without further ado, here are...

...5 Tell-tale Signs Your Children Are Trying To Kill You (and the photo has a woman at the beach being chased by two five-year-olds brandishing pistols).

Apparently, there's a whole army of children in their late teens through mid-40's who are wanting to "nudge you over to the other side" for the "insurance money."

I can't tell you how much fun a good tabloid can be every now and again.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Laughing with the Fringe Element

Last night we had a visit from the fine folks at Rearview Window who told us tales of ministry to those in the inner city...the ups and the downs. And it's always nice to have Judah in my house. I miss toddlers.

Anyway, I told them about this t-shirt and it was funny the first time I heard it, and for some reason it was funnier last night:

"I prayed The Prayer of Jabez and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."

Reminds me of the motto the first cast/writers of Saturday Night Live: Go for 'smart' and 'funny' will happen.

That shirt is brilliantly funny.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Two Class Rings

How great is it that the Balfour company has a freakin' lifetime guarantee on their rings? My university class ring was purchased by my father in 1964 and he wore it until his death in 1979. My mom saved it, thinking that I was likely going to the same university. She gave it to me late in my junior year, which was really cool. Matter of fact, I wear his wedding band, too.

Anyway, after 40 years the stone on the class ring was worn and I needed to get the ring sized again. No local jeweler would touch it as they kept saying, "Just send it back to Balfour. They've got lifetime warranties." I figured somehow or another I was gonna get rooked.

See, the only class ring that I ever purchased was my junior year in high school...and my girlfriend took it after school the first day I got it, put yarn around the bottom of the ring, and wore it for the better part of two years. It was also obvious that you don't wear your high school ring after high school. I paid over $200 bucks to wear that ring for a half-day.

So, I called the Balfour people who gave me instructions. I followed them...but I took photos of the ring, insured it for WAY more than it was worth, packaged it with WAY more bubble wrap than it needed, and sent it registered mail. I added my name to my father's name on the inside of the ring since it was free and all.

And, VIOLA! It came back after about a week all perfect and beautiful and wonderful. No hassles at all. The company even called to check on me to make sure I was happy. I told them I was.

I was happy until about two weeks ago and the stone fell out. I don't know if maybe I bumped it somehow or if there was a flaw in the gem or whatever, but I looked down and the stone wasn't there. So, we'll send the ring off to the fine folks at Balfour and I feel pretty sure they'll fix it to my satifaction...

I'm also going to make one other change, too: Put my year of graduation on the opposite side of my dad's where it currently says "AU." It'll say "1987" now.

I just gotta pop it in the mail...but what am I supposed to do with my Berry High School Class of 1984 ring that currently sits in my dresser caddy as it has for the last 19 years?

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Blue Like Jazz

In my "books i'm digging" section I've listed a Donald Miller book. It's the second book of his I've read and this one is loaded with quotes...almost on every page I've found something that got under my skin, or encouraged me, or gave me insight, etc. A couple of provocative sentences I ran across:

"The most difficult lie I have ever contended with is this: Life is a story about me...No rut in the mind is as deep as the one that says I am the world, the world belongs to me, all people are characters in my play. There is no addiction so powerful as self-addiction."


"There's not a lot of work in the Christian market if you won't write self-righteous, conservative propoganda. I write new-realism essays. I am not a commodity."


"I don't think any church has ever been relevant to culture, to the human struggle, unless it believed in Jesus and the power of His gospel. If the supposed new church believes in trendy music and cool Web pages, then it is not relevant to culture, either. It is just another tool of Satan to get people to be passionate about nothing."

So...whadya think?

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Heaven's Breakfast Buffet Today: Green Eggs And Ham

Shouts out to Dr. Theodore Suess Geisel. He would've been 100 today. I only wish I could imitate his brilliance and be one-gazillionth as influential.
Today, I am...

…thinking mosaically
…(very measured word next) believing I’m on the cusp of something professionally meaningful
…thankful for Stephanie’s public blog transparency
…tyrannized by expectations of a few, but understanding of their views
…looking forward to my spring break ski trip
…needing to get my back lawn prepped for spring & summer
…blessed by my family and happy at home
…reading four good books at once
…encouraged by the walk/struggle/reality/growth of my 3K friends (Kendra, Katherine & Kristin)
...encouraged by the walk/struggle/reality/growth of my 3 Amigos friends (Daniel, Steve-O and Jay)
...floored by what I'm seeing professionally and personally in Nathan
…seeing fruit of the Spirit in my seniors
…seeing works in the flesh in my underclassmen
…seeing exceptions to both of those
…(another measured word coming next) thankful for my inaquecies and resulting dependencies, of which I’m seeing a great deal these days.
…glad my God (final measured word coming up) loves me.

Monday, March 01, 2004

My Oscars: The Shorty's

Our student ministry does an outreach event on Oscar night in which we have popcorn and such and watch the event on the big screen in our youth room. We started doing this to balance out the "Super Bowl" outreach since our ministry has become a haven for creative artistic types ever since we installed our art gallery. It's fun...with the highlight of the kids picking the winners with the person who gets most out of the 24 getting a gift certificate to the movie theatres.

Anyway, I think I only saw Lord of the Rings (which, apparently, was all I needed to see) and Finding Nemo...and only want to see Lost in Translation and "13" and 21 Grams on I wasn't really into the happenings on the big screen.

What actually made my night was a new addition to our Oscar night outreach: We decided to have a short film festival (10 minutes each) to encourage any budding Christian filmmakers who might be in our group or to have teens who might not have a church home have an opportunity to get involved. It was our first foray into something like this so we didn't know what would happen.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Over the six weeks we got plenty of submissions, and 3 films were nominated to win the Shorty (a golden videotape on a plaque). Over 130 teenagers and parents showed up for the early afternoon screening and I expected the films to all be pretty good. They were...the teens took it seriously. "A Boy Named Dilgo" won...a computer animated romantic short. It beat out a really funny spoof entitled "Bored of the Rings."

What I thought was really cool was the enthusiasm the crowd showed. At the end of each film that won a spot in the screenings there was genuinely appreciative applause and all sorts of encouraging hooting and such. And when the winner was announced the place really went wild. And Everett Bradford, the senior that wrote, directed and animated the film, gave a really touching acceptance speech when he talked about his girlfriend being the inspiration for it. The placed "awwww"-ed and then when he said his final thank you they went wild again.

Even the directors/actors of runner-up Bored of the Rings were excited to have been in the screening and were excited over the true enjoyment the crowd showed them and their work. They were getting the accolades of their families and friends after it was over.

I guess what I never get tired of seeing is watching how much teenagers support each other on things like this. There just doesn't seem to be any of the normal divisions. They showed up to watch their friends' movies. They clapped for the directors of the movies whether they knew them or not. They shook hands and gave hugs. Athletes applauded goth-dressed directors. Goth-dressed friends laughed at drama kids' production. And it was real.

And it was cool to watch. It made my Oscar night...before the show even came on. And I think we're on to something. I already can't wait for next year's Shorty's.