Monday, June 30, 2008

At The Halfway Point

Since the 2nd half of 2008 starts tomorrow, I decided to check in on my New Year's resolutions to see how those are working out thus far:

First, losing 25 more pounds. Well, I'm in the ballpark of what I weighed on January 1. Give or take a pound or two. But I don't think that's going real well except for a three week stretch in February and some half-hearted attempts to get going on that. The peculiar thing on that is that when I eat less & exercise more I could probably drop that in 6 months.

Second, learning 12 songs on the guitar. Seeing as how I haven't even picked up my guitar in 4 months, it safe to say that I'm not close to this one, either. Maybe I should scale this one back to learning the remaining 20% of about 25 songs I know how to play 80% of. I have this habit of learning the main parts of a bunch of songs and leaving the more difficult parts alone, and then moving on to to a new song. Maybe I should pick up the guitar first.

Third, learning to make a full, hearty breakfast: This one was easier than I thought. I did it for "linner" on New Year's Day. You know, lunch & dinner? We used to do New Year's brunch but my teenagers stay out later & sleep in longer so we delayed this a few hours. So, I did it...but I need practice. Some of the pancakes were too dry and some of the bacon was more crisp than two family members preferred, so it wasn't a loss, but I should do it more.

Fourth, on reading 52 books: I've finished 20 thus far, making me 6 behind. This is somewhat slow for me, but in the past I've also found some 1,500 page classic from Barnes & Noble to devour in the summer also. I may have to scale that back and read 6 or 7 smaller books, but I might get there. Plus, I've got two weeks of vacation coming up in August so I might be able to get caught up some--both of those are looking like early afternoons will allow for a few hours a day of reading.

Finally, making a really good chili. Not so much that but rather having your own very special type of chili that people want you to make when they come over because it's so good. I haven't done this one yet. I solicited recipes and got some, but never tried them.

So, how're you doing on your new year's resolutions?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Common Courtesy?

It's been a busy couple of months. My leisure reading has slowed to a crawl.

I've been going pretty slowly through a book titled The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. It got all the accolades you'd expect from an acclaimed academician cranking out stuff for the masses. Frankly, I'm fascinated by his intelligence. You see this in how much he knows regarding a broad array of scientific topics.

So, I'm seeing how the other half lives.

Anyway, I get to this chapter titled "Why There Almost Certainly is No God." And, I'm actually in general agreement with the author that those that hold to a creationist position (not necessarily limited to Judeo-Christian views, although these are where he focuses much of his argument) should NEVER use their position as a "default" position in their argument. Usually, these arguments are posited along the lines of, "Well, if there are gaps in the fossil record or if something is show to be irreducibly complex, then God must exist."

See where that "default" position is weak? See why I agree that those holding to a creationist position shouldn't presume that this proves anything of that position? So, I agree with the general idea of the chapter. That isn't what I wanted to talk about.

It's the statements like these (found in Chapter 4 in my paperback edition, roughly pages 137--188):

"Admissions of ignorance and temporary mystification are vital to good science." (page 152)
"It is utterly illogical to demand complete documentation of every step of any narrative, whether evolution or any other science." (page 153)

After giving an example of seeing a brilliant illusion (one in which they shoot bullets at one another and catch the other's in their teeth, despite having the entire audience overseeing their marking the bullets, etc.) done by world-class illusionists Penn & Teller and his inability to explain how they accomplished it, the author says, "There is a perfectly good explanation. It is just that I am too naive, or too unobservant, or too unimaginative, to think of it. That is the proper response to a biological phenomenon that appears to be irreducibly complex."

Again, I'm in agreement that is no reason for a creationist to revert to a default position.

But here's what I'm thinking:

IF...

...admissions of ignorance and temporary mystification are vital to science, would the author agree that the same can be said of theology?
...it's illogical to demand complete documentation before declaring "proof," wouldn't the same be true for theology?
...and if there's a "perfectly good explanation" for Penn & Teller's illusion, you'd have to presume up front that it was indeed an illusion, wouldn't you? (granted, in this case, since you paid for an evening of entertainment based on that very premise, it'd be a--the--logical presumption)

My point is this:

There are plenty of areas which I'm ignorant and temporarily mystified about regarding theology and the historical outworkings of Scripture. (I'll hand you an easy one: A worldwide flood of Noahic proportion)

The jury is out on my side of the equation in areas such as a literal "day" of creation and archaeological verification of Jericho's fall and all sorts of stuff like that.

And, there's no question in my mind that you're presuming up front that natural selection and evolution is the way it all happened. So, while you're gathering evidence for your "perfectly good explanation," you're presuming you're looking for a specific "illusion."

While I'll concede that you've forgotten more than I'll ever know about pretty much everything you've written in your book, why can't you see that you've got your very own "default" position? In many ways, if we were to get into a debate, it'd be like that show "Are You Smarter Than A 5th-Grader?" on my end of it. You've got expertise in an area that I dabbled in 25 years ago. You'd make short work of me on things like natural selection and fossil records and biological complexity...the whole bit.

I would like to remind you, though...

...sometimes those 5th-graders are right.

And, sometimes, it'd be considerate as a scientist and as a person, to remember to extend to others the very things you request as you go on your search for Truth. Theologians still have plenty of mystifying things we're working through, Holmes. There's plenty of branches of theology and room for growth in all areas of all of them. Our books aren't finished, either.

Side note, Dr. Hawkins (with thanks to Norman Geisler for this little nugget): Just don't be surprised if you get to the top of that academic mountain and find truth, only to have theologians holding a sign that says, "We've been here for roughly 6,000 years. Where've you been?"

I say all this to say that I firmly believe that all of this time Christians spend trying to learn all these presuppostional apologetics to win debates is largely fruitless. It all gives me a severe case of tired-head. I doubt seriously that anyone is going to be won to Christ in this day and age by throwing some argumentative haymaker resulting in the opponent's intellectual knockout. The very idea that they'll wake up from their smelling salts and proclaim Jesus as Lord is highly unlikely. We've got weak spots. So do scientists. Both sides fail to admit most of them.

It's much more difficult to argue with a life well-lived.

One of fruit of the Spirit.

Which means we'd be better served to focus on loving God and our neighbor.

That's mystifying enough, folks.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Frugality

With the cost of gasoline taking chunks out of our budgets these days, I was wondering what the patronage was doing to save pennies here and there.

I mean, the smokin' hot shutterbug trophy wife and I have switched cars (I drive a Corolla and she has the minivan--paid off, but guzzles petroleum products made from fossil fuels) when her business or ballet taxi requires driving more than my commute to church.

I've noticed that teenagers are pooling money for gas and/or car pooling if a large group is going to the same place (they used to avoid this).

But, thus far, it hasn't really changed our habits much.

So, what're you folks doing to pinch pennies here and there?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Are You Going To Judge Me If I Think This IS Funny?

Good laugh on the way to work...



...in my neighborhood.

I laughed out loud.
Are You Going To Judge Me If I Think This Isn't Funny?

This is what it costs to fill up a Toyota Corolla these days:



$44.00.

Sheesh.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Time Flies When You're Having Fun!

Nearly 20 years ago, this is how we both looked:



This was taken about half an hour before my wedding ceremony. Should I mention that we were huge into WCW at the time and were big fans of The Road Warriors? Smitty was the best man...of which, he reminded us continually on that long weekend.

We've known each other since we were eight. I was pretty much the "6" or "4" to his "3" when double plays were turned (Diner patron Hal was always the "5" in that equation, I was the middle-infield variable). When we golfed at Oak Mountain State Park, he was always more consistent, with lots of fives. I was more like a "9" and then "4." When we ran with the cross country team, I could run 8 miles in about an hour...he'd take a break at the one mile mark and then start the run back to the school after he saw us pass. The cross country coach used to yell, "SMITTY...YOU LOOK LIKE YOU'RE RUNNING WITH A PIANO ON YOUR BACK." We skipped class together. We spent time talking about relationship issues, him with Jodie and me with Lolly. We had study hall with Mr. Moore (the choir teacher) in which we walked in every day singing the commerical song to a kids game called Mr. Mouth). After gradaution we went to the beach together and he made a tape of nothing but one song for the 4-hour drive down: "Mexican Radio" by Wall of Voodoo. We got kicked out of the hotel room, but he talked us back in--he was good at that kind of stuff (re: talking crap).

We went off to Auburn together...and it continued on like that for three more years. He never joined our fraternity but somehow wound up at most every party or event. At our college, you just signed up for English classes by the hour you wanted it and they assigned you to a classroom/teacher...and we both made B's in English 103 (poetry) because we'd get giggles when our 24-year-old teacher's assistant explained the imagery that was sexual in nature (it didn't help that the teacher was smokin' hot). He snuck a beer into a Friday afternoon at 4PM on-campus reading for extra credit (which we both needed to get that "B") and opened the can during the applause...even the smokin' hot teacher made eye contact from across the room and laughed. The conversations moved from the old high school girlfriends to the girls we would eventually marry.

We stood at each other's weddings...

...then life happened. Moves. Promotions. Kids. The works.

The great thing about living in Dallas is that the company he works for is based in the area and we get together as often as time allows when he flies in. Yesterday, I picked him up at the airport and we laughed about the kind of stuff listed above and got caught up on the moves, promotions, kids, wives & works.

And I got a cell phone photo before I dropped him off at his hotel...I knew I'd want a "before & after" at The Diner today.



And, just so you're aware...

...it took me 22 minutes to get him from closing the door & seat belted until a beer was in front of him. He timed it.

...and just to taunt Hal, we speaker-phoned from the restaurant explaining what was going on while he was at work.

Nearly 30 years of friendship is pretty cool, if you're asking.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Welcoming A New Blogger!

My friend Brad is now in the blogging world. Now if we could just get his sister and brother-in-law into the mix...
Jobs & Such

My friend Hollywood wrote a venting diatribe in which he was venting about...I'm guessing a practical joke went awry at his office and the employee couldn't fathom why the business owner was upset. Not sure of the details by any stretch, but there was a quote at the end that reads:

"So when I have to have this conversation with you, and tell you that your $50K - $60K job is dependent on you growing up...and you look at me like I'm from Mars, forgive me for being blown away. I mean if you want to be a camp counselor or youth pastor (read play with your friends all day here), then go do it, but with that choice comes the economic realities of being with your playmates all day (no offense directed at youth pastors past or present intended...just venting)."

Now, truly, I'm not offended. I would be if I didn't know for a fact that Hollywood values the youth pastors that minister to his family. If I didn't have that background knowledge then his "no offense" comment would ring as hollow as Ricky Bobby's "with all due respect" comment that preceeds diatribes in which he shows no respect to the hearer.

But, that isn't the issue at all.

And I certainly don't want to discuss the issue of office pranks or business protocols. I have always worked in small offices with easygoing and fun staff and we all were friends. This would inevitably lead to laughs. We were also working with a lot more commonality than many office situations. Hence, that isn't what I wanted to talk about, either.

What I wanted to talk about was how we view other professions.

We see very little of what others actually do in their occupations. So, when some business person tells me of some lavish vacation they were able to get for next to nothing because they used air miles and hotel frequent-user discounts and credit card points, my first inclination is to go, "Wow...must be nice to flit around the country traveling and get nice perks." The reality is that getting those perks was the result of a lot of time away from your family and friends and high-pressure meetings and lots of responsibility for the jobs of others and the whole bit.

Or when somebody says how cool it is that teachers get "three months off in the summer." Well, most of the teachers I know are using some of those weeks to maintain mandated certifications/training and if you don't think those folks need time off after dealing with parents of this generation and state-mandated tests, well, you don't know what a teacher really does. And don't get me started on high school sports coaches or college professors.

Or when somebody says how great it must be for firefighters to work out and play basketball and wash fire trucks and put out a fire every now and then. Right. Or cops just eat donuts and drink coffee all day. Right. My guess is that their life could be on the line at any point during that day.

Or when somebody says that homemakers have it nice just being able to sit around the house and do nothing all day. Uh-huh. That's what they do all day. Just take a leisurely read and maybe nap when the baby naps.

Or when somebody says how much pilots make and it's not bad for three or four days of work per week. Right. This is a skill that few in the world possess...and the pressures they must face flying 8 hours per day.

Or that pastors work one day a week.

I could go on. But you get where I'm coming from, right?

We rarely see what people really do all day...

...and just so you know that "youth pastors or former youth pastors" well, we did get to "play with our buddies," but it was AFTER work. That game of ultimate frisbee with the senior guys was when they were all out of school, or that Friday night football game visit, or goofing off at the movies with the group after Sunday School, or any of that, well, it took place after we did our "job" that day. Mostly at the expense of time with our own wife & kids.

Same for weddings we perform.
Or funerals.

And while we're at work we deal with some very dark things. Marriages fall apart right in front of your eyes. Parents get out of control. Kids make some awful choices that have serious consequences. While I'm at it, do you really think that I we get to turn that off when I close the door at 5PM, hoping to grab dinner with the wife before I'm back at 7PM to teach? Or, do you not think my wife gets an emotionally drained husband at that dinner, or who has to turn the TV on something mundane to keep from replaying conversations/advice so he can fall asleep?

And even when we're "at work" on things like ski trips, well, let me ask you how much "fun" you'd have if you were responsible for getting 85 kids from Dallas to Winter Park and make sure each one has boots, poles, lift tickets, room with leaders who've had background checks performed, meals for 3 days and 4 nights, medical forms to the medical center, skiing down the mountain to the medical center to check on the injured kid every time the beeper they gave you went off...or mission trips where you're camping out for a week with 120 teens & 25 adults in a field where all they supply are the toilets & space. Water, food, tents, not to mention the stuff...

Well...

...I'll wrap it up.

We all have our work. And all our work matters. And all the gigs have plusses and minuses attached.

But, with all due respect, I don't know any jobs that all you have to do is take a pay cut and then you can play with your buddies.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Another Study Of Americans & Religion

Well, the Pew Foundation came out with another study on American religious views. You can get a snappy graphic here. You can even look at the original Pew Foundation findings here.

Largely because I know how my Tribe views these things, I don't like it when they come out. Mostly they'll go all Chicken Little about the findings. "70% believe there are multiple ways to get to heaven! The majority of churchgoers differ in opinion to official denominational doctrines! 50% of churchgoers believe in the Theory of Evolution! 50% of believers think abortion should be legal! Only 40% of people think that Hollywood's values threaten mine! We're certainly going to hell in a handbasket and only 59% of Americans believe in that hell!!!! Run for the hills!!!"

Slow down folks.

Americans are a funny lot. We live in a world where one in five atheists say they believe in God, and 10% pray every week. The atheists likely won't go all Chicken Little about the 20% that don't know official doctrine.

See?

The bottom line is that most folks don't think. Thinking's hard work. Really.

At the core, we know we should eat less & exercise more. We know we shouldn't talk on mobile phones while we drive or at lunch with friends. We know we should turn off the television. We know we should read more. We know we should blah blah blah. We know we shouldn't blah blah blah.

About that eating less & exercising more thing: When am I supposed to get to the gym? I've got two kids to shuttle and laundry and yardwork.

About that talking on mobile phones: Why can't I use that normally dead time to get a few more things done or talk to my mom? Is it wrong to answer my kid's call when they're home alone and I'm dining with friends?

About that turning off the television thing: Is it so wrong to find something mindless to veg out to after a long day at work and coaching the soccer team? Can't I decompress a little?

About the reading more thing: How can I read if I can't hold my eyes open at the end of the day?

About that religion thing and thinking thing: How am I supposed to become a deep thinker when I have widgets to buy/sell/produce? When do I grab that oh-so-enticing theology book and engage deep thoughts when my child wants to read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-good, Very-bad Day for the 100th time? Do I sacrifice chatting with my wife for a minichurch commitment? When's the yardwork going to get finished? The housework? Ever tried to engage in listening to a sermon on-line while feeding the kids some Mac & Cheese before they're off to piano lessons?

So, Tribe. Slow down on the Chicken Little thing, okay? There are some realities afoot here...

...but it isn't unique to our Tribe. Muslims & Hindu studies find very similar things regarding their views of the afterlife and other important doctrines.

We live in a world where thinking is hard work.

I live in a world where spiritual formation is a slow business.
I live in a world where spiritual formation is God's business.
I live in a world where I make the decision to trust Him and do the next thing.
I live in a world where, if I do that, He transforms hearts and minds over a period of time one life at a time.
I live in a world where correct data isn't the goal. Love, from a pure heart, good conscience & sincere faith is the goal.
I live in a world where those things happen best in the context of relationships, not classrooms.
I live in a world where having the "right" doctrines will be sorted out in the Kingdom, anyway. I'll have hit on some and I feel sure I'll be corrected in others.

So, before I go all Chicken Little on the faults of the Church and what's wrong with how Americans do church and the failings of suburban megachurches and bigger-is-better mentalities and warp speed culture and technological overload and blah blah blah...

...I think I'll just do what God asked me to do today. Love Him. Love my neighbor one life at a time.

And try not to complicate that too much.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hey, Here's A Little Tidbit Of Note

It's June 23, 2008.

Well, on June 23, 2003, our little Diner opened the doors. This makes it our 5th anniversary!

7 patrons came along for an entry about politicians & war.

Since then there have been 2,381 posts.
There have been 179,210 unique visitors to The Diner. From every continent that has the Internet and from 107 different countries. There's an average of 174 that stroll through every day. Most of those come back two or three times per day.

Somebody once referred to The Diner as the "unofficial" hang out of our church family. This, I like.

And a range of discussion...everything from my church to my profession to my family to Kurt Cobain to whatever happens to be rambling in my brain at the time to birthday salutes to Bible verses to quotes I'm reading to road trips to baseball to books that haven't been written and anything and everything in-between & around.

So, thanks to every one of those 179,210 folks who stopped by.

I never could've imagined there would've been more than 7 per day, and I still can't figure out why folks ramble in here for their daily cup of joe and conversation.

But, the management would like to say that everything's "on the house today." I'll pick up your tabs and you just order away. Stick around and chat a while about your favorite Diner conversations over the last five years.

*raises coffee cup and says thanks*

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fun Facts and The Good Life

D Magazine has put out their suburb rankings in this month's issue. Every two years, they rate the Dallas area 'burbs in categories like education, crime, housing & something called "ambience and air." I think that last one is kind of a catch-all.

And it looks good at first...

Highland Village enters the poll at #8. They got major points for their Inland Trails which roll through the city. Get this: They even got points for an upscale Wal-Mart and the new "Shops at Highland Village" (which was called a mini Southlake Town Center).

Our beloved FloMo rolled in at #10. We got points for easy airport access and low housing prices. Interestingly, they praised Parker Square (a retail development attempting to create a "downtown" for our city) for not having chain retailers. I don't know anyone that goes there except to work out or do something different for dinner. But we'll take the points and get into the top 10, brutha!

Two others of note: Lewisville was #25, Grapevine was #24.

Some other close 'burbs: Trophy Club (a completely planned community near the lake) was #4...and Roanoke was #18 and included in their "Four 'Burbs to Watch." Hickory Creek rolled in at #17.

It's pretty obvious that their stats favor cities smaller than 75,000. Frisco rolled in at #21, and Plano at #22. Those are two 'burbs that have large populations and Frisco has minor league baseball, major league soccer and a freakin' IKEA, man. How do they stay out of the top 20? So, to some degree, you were punished if your population was too big.

I also found out some things "officially." Like population totals. FloMo has 62,000 residents. HV has 14,000. Lewisville at 91,500. Average home sale prices (2007): FloMo at $294,000. HV at $289,000 and Lewisville at $192,000. I was also fascinated by the population growth since 1990. FloMo was at 302%. HV at 109%, and Lewisville at 97%.

The only downer of the deal was that Highland Village dropped 5 places from 2006, and Flower Mound 2. Lewisville's news was brighter as they moved up 10 spaces.

So, most of this only confirms what we already knew...that we've got it pretty good here in the FlowerPlex. Even if we dropped a few spots here or there since the last poll.

And, I wonder what would happen if we all joined forces and declared war on University Park, Southlake and Colleyville...I mean, our average age is only 33 (Highland Village's is actually 37, but balanced by Lewisville's 29) and those places is 38.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hi Ya'll! Last Call! Last Chance To Dance! Shimmy Shimmy! Whooooo!

Yeah.

The B-52's have a new CD out. Their first in 16 years. It's called, aptly, "Funplex."

You'll be glad to know that nothing's changed.

It sounds like summer.

And it's glorious, man.

Absolutely glorious.

This dates me. But I don't care. No matter what anyone says, there was some INCREDIBLE music in the 80's. You just had to be in college to hear it. And the closer that college was to Athens, GA, the better.
The Return

Kid1 and Kid2 are coming back from their mission trip to Juarez today. They left last Friday night. We've received scattered text messages and quick check-in phone calls upon their border crossing yesterday afternoon. There was still fun to be had and we weren't getting their undivided attention...the calls/texts were certainly obligatory.

And, the bathroom they share (along with folks who visit) will be in disarray soon.
And, there will be mutual blame as to who is at fault for that.
And, there will be a glass or two left on the windowsill next to the chair.
And, the latest computer user will forget to log out when they're finished.
And, there will be routine chores suggested and completion will be delayed or forgotten.
And, there will be televisions left on in rooms no one is in.
And, there will be music loud enough to be heard over the shower noise.
And, there will be doors opened, quick salutation, stuff set down, quick complimentary close, back out the open door, door closed.
And, this will repeat.
And, control over the TV will result in the living room set on Jon & Kate Plus 8 or some Disney fare.
And, rides will be requested to various entertainment venues, followed by requests to pick up their friends.
And, laundry chores will increase for the smokin' hot trophy wife.
And, crumbs will be left on the counter.
And, the boy will be over on occasion.
And, there will be tension when a requested curfew extension is denied.
And, there will be that look that says, "Dad, you really have no understanding of how important this is."
And, there will be that look that says, "No matter how cool you think you might be, you're not. At all."
And, the thermostat will miraculously decide to decrease the temperature in the home all by itself.
And, there will be random shoes, books, art supplies, dance bags, etc., left in places they shouldn't be.
And, there will be a game of Jenga on the top of the trash can being played with everything from styrofoam food containers to Sonic cups.
And, there will be a thin layer of tea left in the container that says, "I wasn't the one who finished the tea."

And...

...I can't wait for all that to happen.

I really can't.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Now That You Mention It, I COULD Use Some Baseball

The local major league franchise has this advertising slogan they use to appeal to fans of The Great Game. It's simple, but effective: "You could use some baseball."

The Texas Rangers website explains it this way: "People are overwhelmed and overworked. They're bombarded with more information, yet less real communication and human interaction than ever. People don't have enough time with friends, family, or loved ones, making time one of our most valuable, diminishing resources. People want more passion, excitement, and genuinely rich experiences out of their activities than ever before. A Rangers baseball game is just such an experience. It creates memories."

Granted, there's been plenty of romantic drivel written about baseball. It gets sappy at times.

But every now and again, the stuff that life throws at me begins to wear on me and I begin to focus too much on stuff that really doesn't matter. I need to recalibrate. To re-focus.

That's a laborious process for me, though. I often wish it were as simple as just "spending some time in prayer and the Word" (to use the business jargon of my Tribe). But, for me, I need to get my bearings first. To decompress and get rid of the clutter. Some people sit by lakes or oceans or take walks in forests. Some drive with the windows down and the music up. Some pet their dogs. There was even a scene in a movie where a guy rode the go-karts at a local kid's arcade because "it centered" him. To each his own.

Well, my "own" looks like this 10 minutes before the first pitch:



Three hours worth of being centered.

A diving catch and great throw to complete a 9-5 double play.
A blown bunt attempt that elicited groans...followed by the same guy hitting a 3-run homer that set off fireworks a minute later.
A blown save by the closer in the top of the 9th that made it look like the game was going to get away from us.
A lead-off double.
Another failed bunt attempt.
And the fan-favorite ripping a base hit to win it for the home team in the bottom of the 9th.
Taking the back roads to get from parking lot to driveway in 45 minutes.

That little afternoon mini-vacation actually made the 3.5 hour elder meeting last night mildly enjoyable.

You might not "get it."

And I have few explanations of why.

But a 1:05 baseball game centers me. And yesterday, I used some baseball.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Really?

During a Simpson's episode where Homer too his kids to Hullaballooza (a music festival where Homer eventually would get a job getting cannonballs shot into his belly), Bart and Lisa were listening to the Smashing Pumpkins ("Hi, I'm Billy Corgan. Smashing Pumpkins." Homer's response: "I'm Homer Simpson. Smiling politely." Genius.) and then this exchange took place:

Lisa: It may be bleak, but this music is really getting to the crowd.
Bart: Ah, making teenagers depressed is like shooting fish in a barrel.

Since much of my life was spent working with teenagers I made it a point to avoid manipulating their emotions. I knew a lot of colleagues that made a living off it, too. You could put on bleak music, darken a room, discuss the dark side of life, and pretty much have them weeping. Or, you could simply talk about all the things they should feel guilty about, they would, and then they'd walk down aisles in droves...confessing all sorts of stuff. So, I felt like there was something unethical about that approach. I'm not against their expression of emotion, mind you. Simply against the manipulation and misuse OF it.

With this as my background, and very aware of it, the pierced & tattooed Kristen sent me an article she found in the San Francisco Chronicle. Here's the gist of it:

Oceanside High School, San Diego.
Highway Patrol officers go from classroom to classroom and announce that several classmates had been killed in car wrecks over the weekend.
The students exhibited the genuine emotion you'd expect teenagers to express.

Except for one thing:

IT NEVER HAPPENED!!!

It was all part of a school district sponsored exercise to highlight the dangers of drinking and driving. See, graduation was afoot. Parties were being planned. And GROWN UPS...

...that's right: GROWN UPS...

...thought the best way to highlight the reality was to put various popular students in hotel rooms for the weekend, have them cut off contact with friends and all, and then tell classmates that they'd died in alcohol related accidents.

Then...TA DAAAAAAAA...

...the kids are right here! They're okay! See?! Now...don't drink and drive, kids. It's a dangerous world out there, so when you're having graduation parties, be responsible, okay?!

And, then this freaking genius, a guidance counselor at the school, Lori Taubor, gives us this little bit of gold, "They were traumatized, but we wanted them to be traumatized. That's how they get the message."

Well, honey, the dictionary defines a trauma as "b: a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from severe mental or emotional stress or physical injury." So, if I'm hearing you correctly, Lori, that students will learn if they are given severe mental stress to their emotions?

Lori, your mom has cancer. Better eat right. Oh, wait...just kidding.
Lori, your home has been foreclosed on and you're being evicted. You should manage your money better. Oh, wait...just kidding.
Lori, your husband was killed in a car accident. Better pay closer attention to your marriage. Oh, wait...just kidding.
Lori, your daughter was abducted at the park by a stranger. Better give lessons on how to avoid strangers. Oh, wait...just kidding.

Learning any lessons, Lori?
Trauma teaching you anything, Lori?
Get the messages, Lori?

Interestingly, the school board is behind this activity...even though at one point they thought there'd been a terrible coincidence. See, one of the siblings of a kid who was in on it text messaged some friends to add to the authenticity of the event. Administrators didn't count on that as part of the equation, and wondered if something really happened to that particular kid.

Whew. Good thing THAT didn't happen, isn't it?

Then, "Wendy Reynolds, a former prosecutor who spoke at El Camino High about her experience being orphaned by a drunken driver, said most students would benefit.

"I think we save lives if one kid makes a better choice every time he gets in a car," she said.

Really. So the bang for the buck is worth it if one kid makes a better choice?

Trauma of who knows how many is well worth it if ONE kid chooses not to drink and drive?

But, since I don't want to tear-down your terrific idea about how to help students, I'll offer a solution of my own:

Use your e-mail list to send an e-mail to parents. In that e-mail, say something like, "Parents, since graduation is upon us and since graduations have been happening students have been throwing parties. Since students have been having parties, historically some have made unwise choices regarding drinking and driving. Since we know that even good kids make poor choices sometimes, please take some time to discuss your expectations of your child before, during and after the graduation ceremony. Thank you. P.S. Take this time to evaluate your own choices in this arena. More is caught than taught!" Maybe even put a little smiley face emoticon after that to lighten the mood.

Hey...if that doesn't seem like enough...feel free to stage one of those mock accident scenes with a car in front of the school and a fake car wreck scene where the CareFlight helicopter comes in. Students know that is a STAGED event and still get a nice little visual message.

But, I think if you'd treat teenagers like adults, raise the bar of expectation and communicate with them...well...

...maybe just one kid will make a wiser choice than they would've before.

Without trauma. Which is like shooting fish in a barrel, right?

You can read the article here.

You can read an editorial about it here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Recommendation

From time to time, folks ask me what books I'm reading or what sermon series I happen to be following. I really enjoy listening to pastors talk about their vision for their churches and when they, more or less, give a "state of the congregation" type message. Well, if you've got some yardwork to do this week or maybe some serious windshield time, you might want to consider pastor Rick McKinley, pastor of Imago Dei Community in Portland.

You can download his Inside Out sermon series (3 weeks thus far) and maybe burn 'em to disk or iPod 'em.

I don't think you'll regret it.

So, shouts out to brothers & sisters in Portland, and thanks for all the work you do for The Kingdom.
Margaux Update

Frequent patrons know you have to put up with these...

Me, Too

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Quick Question...

When did everything start to cost $1,000?

We're in that life station where there's a lot of energy in the maintaining. You know what I'm talking about, right? The dryer goes out. Or the roof has hail damage. Plumbing work needs doing. Cars need their 50,000 mile check up. Kids have a chance to go on a fantastic trip (the cost is a bargain, really). Price of gas. Dental stuff all around. You get the idea.

It's all part of life, man. I'm not griping. Really. I've been in far more dire situations. We're just at that station in life. It comes and goes. In fact, my mom, the beloved Charlotte the Scar, once described this station in life as a "generational loan." I was talking about orthodontics when we first went through that and she kind of laughed and said that none of her payments were gifts. They were all, practically speaking, loans. Her theory was that her parents paid for braces for her, she paid for mine, I'd pay for my kids and on down the line. Same for college. Weddings. Cars. The whole bit. It was all a loan that one generation started and the next generation just paid back with interest. I'm no economist but it makes sense on some level.

But what I want to know is when did it all seem like it cost $1,000? Why do I expect that plumber to say, "Yeah. We checked it out and it's pretty routine cleaning for a house this age and that'll be $100." Why do I think the car guy will call and say, "Well, sir. We gave it the once-over and all it needed was a tune-up. That'll be $75." Why do I hope the letter from the school's bottom line will say, "We do this every year. We rent bikes and tool around Europe and stay in hostels and get group rates. You'll need to come up with $350." Yeah. I'm not getting any of those calls. There is usually a comma involved in the numbers I'm being given.

The only thing I can think of is that I grew up in the 1970's and listened to my parents talk about their high cost of living and those figures stayed on my brain's hard drive. But, man. That generational loan's interest rate seems higher than I expected.

Any help you could give me on this would be appreciated.

Monday, June 16, 2008

So, Today I'm Thinking...

...that, while I never watch golf (and I mean *NEVER* watch golf. Or play it, for that matter), watching Tiger Woods putt to tie the U.S. Open on the 18th green was really good sports drama.
...the same for Turkey, in the Euro 2008 soccer tournament. Scoring two goals in two minutes when it looked like the Czech Republic was about to knock them out of the biggest non-World Cup soccer tournament with 4 minutes to play was incredible. Attending a world cup game is on my Bucket List.
...that I couldn't believe the gas pump registered over $70 to fill up the wife's van.
...that it sure is quiet around here with the girls gone.
...that an article in the paper today talked about all the ways businesses could help folks find summer "camps" (including things like forensics camp, math camp, astronomy camp, etc.) so that 12-year-olds wouldn't be unattended with two-income families over the summer. Dude, being a two-income family is a choice. It isn't up to a business to help you solve the fallout from that.
...now that Dallas already hit the 100 degree mark, my attitude has changed drastically. Now, I'm all Texan about it: "Bring it! Let's beat 1981 for 100-degree days in a row!" I'm sure August will have me begging for mercy, but now it's game on.
...is it me, or do the summer movie blockbuster releases seem very weak this year?
...that getting free tickets to the Thursday Rangers day-game changes your outlook on the entire week. It's like it cuts the work week in half, and gives you a preview of the weekend.
...that college kids & recent high school graduates ought to be more discerning about the pictures they post on Facebook & MySpace. Maybe it's "Good Old Days" syndrome, but maybe it was a good thing that you were more discriminate in photos you took (cost of film & developing) and that they stay in a book that's tucked away in the garage. And, don't get me started on video.
...I've got four books in my stack to finish before I buy the two I want to read, but the four aren't very good. But, once I buy 'em, I gotta finish 'em. And no new ones until the old ones are done. It's just how I'm wired.
...that, while I'm no fan of Coldplay, I think their lead singer (Chris Martin, married to actress Gwynneth Paltrow) is on to something when he said, "You can't stop feeling like an underdog. You've got to be hungry. If your wife went out with Brad Pitt, you'd want to prove yourself, you know what I mean?"
...that yesterday's sermon at my church was very good. Check it out via podcast if you missed it.
...that I'm having a tremendous amount of fun teaching my film & theology class.
...that you won't regret scrolling to yesterday's entries. I really liked 'em both.
...that it's "double secret probation day." If you haven't blogged in a month, you're now on it.
...it's also "add day." So, if you have a blog you want me to add to the patrons links, lemme know.
...that I have several errands to run right now, so I'd better get on with my day.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

21 Seconds of Father's Day Goodness From The Diner!

From all of us sons who think a this is how a grown-up conversation with our dad might've gone if we'd have gotten the chance (props to Judd Apatow for this bit of movie gold)...

video

...and I really wish I'd gotten the chance with mine.

Hope all you dads out there have a great day!
Church Pirates!

I very much respect Bob Hyatt. We've only met once, but a couple of my former students are a part of The Evergreen Community where he serves as pastor. His blog both challenges & inspires me, as does his vision for the people & community where he lives. It's nice to have co-laborers like this in the family.

Anyway, I thought I'd let you folks living in the DFW area know how at least one person in the PDX area views some recent announcements & teachings from an influential church in our community...And this'll just whet the appetite:

"I think Ed is speaking from a place of pain. I wish the solution was a simple as he thinks, that is, coming up with a catchy phrase like "church pirates" and talking about it on the internet.

The real solution is for established leaders to change the way they view emerging leaders and to quit doing leadership in such a way that young men and women feel like they have to wrestle the baton out of the hands of a previous generation just to do what they feel like God is calling them to do.

A better solution to the problem that Ed is flailing at here is a permission giving ethos that gives mentoring, a place to grow in leadership and skills and can then ask for (and get) patience out of emerging leaders that might not be as ready as they think.

In my mind, that's a win on all sides. "


Check out the rest of the entry here. You won't regret it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I'd Better Get Off My Keister

My horoscope (which I believe to be on par with my fortunes in fortune cookies and "kissability reader" games with those light bulbs that somehow figure out you're "hot stuff" just because you put a token in and your palm on the "reader") said, "A stern taskmaster insists you get up off the couch, metaphorically, and prove your worth."

It also says my day will be a "7" out of 10.

How those two blend together is beyond me. I mean, I can't imagine a scenario in which I'd run into a stern taskmaster, and even if I did and they had the authority to demand better performance, then my day certainly wouldn't be a 7.

But I'll mow the lawn just to be sure...
AND...They're Off!

It started after their spring break: They decided they wanted to go to Juarez, Mexico, and build houses. Not that it's something new in our home. I mean, I've been 8 times. Kid1 has been twice.

Kid2 decided she wanted in on it this year.

So, we dropped them off last night. Well, we got them there and tried to remind Kid1 about sunscreen application and Kid2 to protect her feet and all sorts of last minute ideas that popped into our parent brains. They responded with those looks that said to stop it because we're plenty old enough to know these things and about 100 others that you're thinking about reminding us of. Never mind that earlier in the day each one had given us a couple of reasons to doubt their ability to remember to breathe or eat.

It wasn't the tearful mournful send-off. There was tension. That kind of tension that graduating seniors have with their parents for three months between cap & gown and moving out. Parents feel the need to use any possible teaching moment and kids feel the need to show their life-skills competency. Three months of tension. It's God's way of preparing both for the adjustment. We got the same thing yesterday on a minor scale. Twenty minutes of tension.

So, this morning 85 of 'em loaded up 6 vans/trailers and left for El Paso. They'll spend the night there, go to church with a congregation tomorrow morning, cross the border in the afternoon and set up camp. Monday through Thursday they'll build.

When it's all said and done, five homes will be built for families living in cardboard boxes. They'll be back Saturday night. I know the drill. Like I said, I've done it for nearly a decade.

It never gets old, though.

Even though it doesn't change the world, it'll change a small part of the world for five families enough that they have a door that locks and walls that can withstand sandstorms and a roof that keeps them out of the midday sun. If you don't have those things, well, they matter. No matter where you live.

This morning, I'm glad I have the kind of kids who get that. I'll miss them, too. They make my four walls & roof resonate with life. But I don't mind them leaving for this...

...even if they glare at me when I mention sunscreen application.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Answering The Moms

Yesterday, I asked the moms if they had questions to ask somebody who'd been in student ministry for 20 years...so, today I'll answer them...

"Why won't my kid sleep until 10am?" I don't know, but I can assure you in 2023 they'll be sleeping past 10am and you'll be asking "Why won't my kid drag her sorry carcass out of bed before 10am?"

"How do you know when it is time to step in when your kid has a disagreement/problem with another kid? If it's happening at school, when do you go to the teacher/admin and how do you know when to let the kid deal with it on his/her own?" Well, usually, I'm of the opinion that it's never time to "step in" when you kid has a problem with another kid. The reason is that, first of all, you know you're only getting one side of the story. Second, these kids having problems will all grow up and have problems with kids/coaches/bosses/teachers each and every year of their lives. Hence, I try to make every situation like this a teachable moment to address the heart of my child. I ask them questions like, "How can you serve?" "How can you show the most love for that person?" "What does the Bible say about this?" You can't control the actions of others, only guard your heart and allow your speech/conduct to be gracious and loving. So, I can't think of a time to step in that would be more valuable than teaching my child how to deal with others. About getting the school involved, well, I try to let teachers teach and administrators administrate. I'd only get them involved if the situation became abusive in some way. And I'd certainly approach them with the idea that my child has much to work on as well. Something like, "My child says "x" is taking place, and I realize I'm only getting one side of the story. I was wondering if you could help us find the truth of the matter. Maybe investigate a little and tell me if my child is part of the cause and if we can help design a plan to either help them stop the problem or if there's some other reason my child is saying "x" is happening." Most parents go accusingly to teachers & administrators and they tend to start defensively. If you go in admitting that it's possible your child is part of the problem and you want to help design a solution with the teacher/administrator, you'll help them do their jobs better.

"How do I get my child to realize that at the end of softball season even though she says she doesn't want to play again, she may mean that she is done playing until the next season starts up and she needs to clarify that." Just ask her. Explain the consequences of her choices and ask her again. The third time you ask her, let her know that if she comes back and changes her mind, she might not get on the team or play a certain position and all that. Then, let her deal with it. Again, it isn't about short-term stuff. It's about long-term teaching. And it may be better for her to sit out the fall season and learn that what she says matters than it is about getting on the fall team.

"Is it true that some moms feel the need to live vicariously through the lives of their children? If so, why do you think that is?" I suppose it's true that some moms feel the need. Not all. But I'm sure some do. Dads do this, too. I think it comes from the pain they experienced by them not living up to their potential in a certain area, and they don't want the kids they love to be hurt like they were hurt. So, they try to push their children to excel so they might live up to some potential. We all had hopes, goals, visions and dreams when we were younger. When they crash, some people were hurt by that, and they do it out of what they think is love, keeping their children from that same pain.

"Why is it that your daughter drops off delicious dilicious cookies and treats and then when I eat them I get somewhat immidiatly addicted and then decide I will be frequenting her place of work to satisfy my new addiction. Why is this?" Profit margin. It's like a Crack dealer. The first one is free, knowing you'll be back.

Well, hope that helps out!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What Do Moms Want To Know?

Occasionally, I'm asked to address various "niche" groups in our church. It can be the sophomore girls' Bible study, or the senior citizens group, or the administrative staff or children or, well...you get the idea. The topics are given and the organizer of each group tells me the amount of time they want me to spend and if they want Q&A and if it's around tables or "lecture" style.

Today, I'm spending a few minutes with some moms. But it's extremely limited in time allotment (15 minutes, and that includes leaving time for Q&A) and I'm wrapping up a very specific topic, so the discussion will focus on my specific observations of that topic in my 20 years of working with teenagers.

But I got to thinking about what would happen if we had a class that wasn't "laser-focused" on any specific issue, and gave moms a chance to pick a former youth pastor's brain for an hour...

...what would they ask?

So, here at The Diner today, I'm just sitting at a table with my cup of joe, hanging out. It's a lot like Lucy Van Pelt in the "Peanuts" comic with her sign that said the psychiatrist was "IN." Except, today, I'm not even charging the $0.05.

What do moms want to know?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fish Tale?

Ever heard a story that was so outlandish...

...so unbelievable...

...that, after you heard it, you still wonder the truth about it?

That you want to go to the parties involved and dive into the story and get all the details because there's so many potential holes in the tale and there are so many questions you want to ask and so many folks you'd like to talk to that would give a variety of perspectives on the entire deal?

Well, suffice to say that my friend Katherine told me one last night that she'd gotten from a very reliable source/friend that swears by the story. Well, Katherine swears that the reliable source/friend swears by the truth of the story.

And I can't get the story out of my head, either. It's fascinating on about 100 levels. The event would make a scene from a movie that folks would talk about for years.

The kicker is that I can't tell the story.

But, manalive, it's the funniest anecdote I've heard in a decade. Easily. And what I wouldn't give to get all the details. And it gets funnier the more I think about it.

Oh, man. Do I wish I could invent stuff in my brain as outlandish as that story...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Merge With The Day

Okay...so I'm thinking that if you wake up, and after the alarm the DJ in your brain has programmed Iron Maiden's "Two Minutes To Midnight" (the live version, too. The one that begins with Winston Churchill's entire WWII speech that ends with "WE SHALL NEVER SURRENDER!!!) as the opening song on the day's playlist...

...that maybe I'd better fasten my seat belt, man.
I Lead A Charmed Life

Want proof?

The end of my day yesterday...





68 degrees.
Breeze blowing.
Great book.
Average Shiraz.
Great dog.
Nice hammock.

In the words of Eric Cartman: Totally sweet.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Day Off...

...and I pretty much have nuthin'.

I mean, I've got the lawn sprinkler going. I'm recording some shows onto DVD.

But other than that...

...I've got nuthin.'

So, 'sup?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Not Your Average Run Of The Mill Fundraiser

You've seen it all by now: Magazine subscriptions. Light bulbs. Chocolate bars. Golf tournaments. Wrapping paper. Coupon books. Yard signs. Spaghetti dinners. Car washes. Garage sales.

Schools & teams & organizations, all of them needing extra funds to get better facilities/equipment, new uniforms, travel arrangements or whatever else they might need/want for what they do. So, they beat the bushes and come up with ways to get what they need/want to get to wherever they need/want to go. It results in a win/win usually. You get a day of golf & help a cause, or you get that magazine subscription you were going to get anyway, or the wrapping paper you would've used, or a buck off a burger. Whatever.

But Kid1's school decided to reward some that gave in the past and maybe recruit a few new donors with this little event in the courtyard of the school last night.

If you're asking, that's the way to do a fundraiser...

...because to me it says your school is doing something right that you get this kind of quality performance even if Erykah Badu had to cancel.

Wow.
Marketing To Me?

I've been paying attention to the ads. The sales. The flyers. The commercials. The posters. The radio spots. The store item repositioning. All of it.

Father's Day.

It's next weekend.

And, what I'm learning is that they don't seem to be marketing to me.

For example, Toys R Us says it has "GREAT GIFTS FOR DAD!" Those include a Wii, PS3 or XBox360. Maybe a Portable Navigation System. I'm okay with video games. I simply don't get into them that much or have time for them...unless it's NCAA Football and I'm checking out the Southeastern Conference. I got into that for a while, but at a certain point you can beat the computer pretty much every time. After that, I don't play many video games. Well, none. And, while I've heard (and even seen a bit) that the Wii is fun, you're $300 in on a Father's Day gift. Who does that? And that's even if you can find it. But even if I had it, I'd imagine I'd get tired of it reasonably quickly.

Kohl's is firing up all sorts of dress shirts and something called neckwear (what we used to call a tie) and it looks like khaki threw up all over their Sunday insert.

Now, Best Buy...oh, wait. More gaming systems. And GPS deals. But they've added laptops and HDTV's to the mix. They do have a remote control for everything you own that goes for over $200. And, they can bluetooth me 'til the cows come home.

And, Target. More or less the same as Best Buy...but they've got the Sony PSP (handheld video game, for the uninitiated) that comes with a copy of the aptly-named movie Superbad and a game called God of War, which I hope isn't aptly-named. They do have reasonably priced tool sets.

I could go on.

My reality is that none of those things appeal much to me.

Their reality is that few folks advertise the books I like to read, or the music I like to listen to, or carry the movies I like to watch, or keep in stock the t-shirts with funny or thoughtful stuff put on the front. This is why the Internet was a great invention.

I'm just curious is all. About how marketing folks think about us dads.

I mean, when it comes down to it, we love our families, provide for them and enjoy simple things in life. Sure, gadgets are fun and all...but when it comes down to it, a GPS and some Dockers/matching neckwear or HD doesn't appeal to or define many of the fathers I run with. Most of us are thrilled with the love & respect of our wives and equally indicative hugs from our children.

But, there's no cash to be made from that. And if you're in retail you're in it to make money. So you have to market your stuff. I get it. I truly do. Even if the marketing doesn't fit me at all.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Thinking Out Loud

Grabbed this from some old notes I took listening to Mike Yaconelli speak a few years ago. The topic was getting in "ruts."

Routines: They are an acceptance of the way things are. And they rob us of our creativity and uniqueness and innovative mindsets. They make us one dimensional...and they lead to the same old results (both in our lives and in our ministries).

Manalive do I ever feel like I'm in a rut.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Barnum Reincarnated...And Barnum Was Right

Let me say up front that there are a lot of things I don't understand.

Like when Jessica Simpson's dad tells Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo (who's on-and-off with Jessica) that he should dump his agent and let him handle his career. For the uninitiated, Tony Romo's current agent got the quarterback who has only played for a year and a half and never won a playoff game $67 million dollars.

Like when Tiger Woods makes $121 million this year for golf. Granted, $22 million is in actual prize money, but some $100 million for endorsements? How golf makes any money at all is beyond me, much less that a player gets that much to endorse products. The popularity of golf is beyond me.

Next on the list is something called "Mixed Martial Arts." From what I can gather, it's streetfighting in something called an Octagon. It's like boxing without all the stuff that keeps it safe...like 16 oz. gloves and points. The deal is to pound each other into submission. I can't watch it at all...it's really too brutal for me.

But this "sport" is the fastest growing sport in America today, about to pass NASCAR in earnings. Dallas Maverick billionaire owner Mark Cuban is creating a league to compete with the UFC. In other words, there is money to be made.

So, it's another thing I don't get, but the president of the UFC is named Dana White, and he's a media darling because he speaks his mind and all that jazz. He contradicts himself, is highly controversial, and you don't want to get on his bad side. In a recent interview he went off on some tangents and I'd like to share them with the patrons today. I mean, this stuff should get the conversation started:

First, on fear: The only thing I'm afraid of is sharks. As you as you [freaking] get in the ocean, you drop right to the bottom of the food chain. It freaks me out.

Second, on women: What I've learned from women is that they're all [freaking] crazy. You find one that deals with your craziness and make the best. The grass is never greener.

Third, on literacy: I don't read any books. Ever! Never, ever! If you write me an e-mail longer than three sentences, I won't read that, either.

Fourth, on his critics: People who hate give you the reason to stick it up somebody's [butt]--you do what they say you can't do. You beat the [fecal matter] out of them with success.

Finally, on the meaning of life: Life's [freaking] tough--you've got to make the most of it. I could say, 'My dad wasn't around, I have issues.' No. Shut the [freak] up and do what you need to do.

Well, there you have it.

And, since I don't want to get on his bad side, I'll just say that I'm happy he's able to make a quarter of a billion dollars every time there's a pay-per-view fight.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

On The Cover of the Rolling Stone

One of life's little pleasures for me is when I come home from work and see the latest issue of Rolling Stone on the counter. Sure, it may not be what it once was, but it's an American icon for a reason.

Anyway, they rattle off the top 100 guitar songs of all time in the current issue. I won't go through all 100, but let's look at the top 10, shall we?

#10: "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. How can you argue with the greatest guitar intro of a decade making the top 10?
#9: "Statesboro Blues" by The Allman Brothers. I always thought the Allman Brothers were overrated. I could see Layla, by Eric Clapton here instead.
#8: "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin. Well, I guess you have to include it, but there's no question it's worn out its welcome.
#7: "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by The Beatles. I must be missing something. I still maintain that the Beatles are more hype than substance and that if you missed the mania, you missed the so-called genius. I missed the mania. Give me "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin and keep the Beatles out of any top 10 list when possible. Clapton, Stones, Hendrix, & Zep all stand out even if you missed their mania.
#6: "Eruption" by Eddie Van Halen. Again, I get it, but it's a cartoon of itself now. When you hear it now, it's like watching Ozzy on The Osbournes. It just isn't what it was then.
#5: "Brown Sugar" by The Rolling Stones. Is there a better guitar intro that gets you going? I can't think of one.
#4: "You Really Got Me" by The Kinks. Well, maybe there's a better guitar intro that gets you going.
#3: "Crossroads" by Cream. The first glaring mistake on the list. One I can't see unless you're trying to get Eric Clapton high on the list because he's so great. I'd go with any number of songs here, such as "Mysterious Ways" by U2, "Twice as Hard" by the Black Crowes, "Blitzkreig Bop" by The Ramones, maybe. But for sure, "Back in Black" by AC/DC.
#2: "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix. It's really just a matter of how many songs you want to give Jimi. I mean, he could easily have 3 of the top 10 if you wanted...I personally like "Wind Cries Mary" better, but how do you leave this one out?
#1: "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry. Absolutely. Manalive what a great song, and even better solo.

Well, there you have it...

...and what songs would you include on your guitar-driven "get-the-blood-going" list?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Day When Being A Grownup Just Isn't The Same

The last day of school has it's very own vibe. It's own feel.

It's palpable...in your home and in your community.

Freedom.

Even if that freedom involved your summer job and little else to do, you still just felt free.

I remember the last day of seminary...what I thought was the last day of school for the rest of my life. I tried to pay attention in classes. I really did. I just couldn't. But I was thrilled.

I remember the last day of university. I had a final that didn't turn out to be all that tough, but my car was packed and I was leaving the place I'd wanted to go all my life, so I was a little sad. But I had my first day of seminary in 3 days and I had to move to Dallas (1st attempt in 1987...it took 10 years to get the 2 year degree) so the sadness was quickly replaced by excitement.

I remember the last day of high school. We had graduation practice and nothing else to do.

But what I remember most about all the rest of the "last days" was that you just felt like you'd been released from some burden. Like some weight was lifted off your shoulders. Even if the summer job awaits or the band practices or football team stuff or yearbook responsibilities are still out there lurking...

...you get to do all of them without the daily grind of teachers, books and class and homework.

And, that freedom is taken vicariously by grownups these days.

Just drive safely when you leave, kids. I'll be just fine if sirens and CareFlight aren't involved in the proceedings. But enjoy the moment, students. In the words of Ron Burgandy: Drink it in.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Stuff I Need To Be Doing

Getting back to the gym. Looking and feeling that need, too, man.
Getting Tracy's van to the state inspection station & getting the side mirror replaced.
Getting back to a couple of roofers. How do you know who to trust?
Getting an overall landscaping plan for the entire property. I want to decrease what I mow, add a deck or patio, and a small storage shed for the outdoor stuff.
Getting new wiper blades.
Getting appointments for the hail damage repair to the cars. How do you know who to trust?
Getting the deposit forms filled out for the bank deposit.
Getting more time with the family as things are slowing down.
Getting more rest.
Getting more folks to thank my friend Mikey for 10 years of service to our church.
Getting more folks to read Kid1's blog as she's pretty talented when it comes to all things artsy.
Getting more people to pressure frequent commenters Hal, Renee & Jilly to start their own blogs.
Getting more rest.
Getting organized at work to make the most of the time I have this summer...which will be broken up by vacation time.
Getting The Diner's blogskin redesigned.
Getting ready to serve notice to those that haven't blogged in a month that you're about to get on Double Secret Probation.
Getting used to the heat. It's here, and despite getting the hammock readied, I didn't have the heart to climb in it last night at 9PM when it was 85 degrees.
Getting some new music going, but it seems like few releases are worthwhile lately.
Getting some new books. I'm struggling with my stack, too, because I made some poor choices last time.
Getting ready for my day of work...

Monday, June 02, 2008

Don't Forget...

There was a highly insightful entry on Sunday. Don't be afraid to scroll down and get in on that discussion, man. It should be a good one.
The Funnies Are Us

If you know any teenagers, this is indeed a reality...

Seriously...

Is it June already? Is it me, or does 2008 seem to be flying by?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Reality Check

Christine Wicker got some prime space on the Dallas Morning News Opinion page today. She's a writer, and her new book, The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church, gets a plug.

And, I have to say, I'm not necessarily surprised having worked with the younger generations of the church for 20 years (yep, 20 years of full time ministry was completed last Thursday...and I have to say, that's pretty cool to say out loud). But there is lots of data thrown out that should have us all perking our evangelical ears up. Like...

...Southern Baptist teenagers leave the church after graduation from high school at a rate of 88%. Other evangelical denominations around 94%.

...From sexual behavior to abortion to divorce to drug use, the behavior of self-identified evangelicals is almost identical to the rest of the country.

...25% of Americans say they are evangelicals, but only 7% are in church on any given Sunday.

...7% believe the most central tenets of so-called Bible-based belief.

Some quotes:

As the true picture of evangelicals' problems has developed, panicked leaders are splitting into camps. Some say that the church is lax, soft, sold out.

A growing number of dedicated Southern Baptists believe the Bible's truth is a Calvinist one...Kick out the unregenerates, they say. That will fix the problem.

Still others say the problem is image. Evangelicals have been seen as mean-spirited and narrow. Caring about the environment and giving more attention to the poor and needy will turn it around. Get out of politics, they say. Play down abortion and gay rights. That will fix the problem.

And...the topper:

Evangelical faith is failing in so many other ways that a growing number of Christians believe a New Reformation is needed. If they are correct, the Southern Baptist Convention is unlikely to lead that reformation. Let's hope it is at least around to participate.

Now, keep in mind that I'm not much to go all Chicken Little over these numbers and statements. But, I believe they're accurate. And I will spend a little time talking about this next week and give you my thoughts.

However, I don't want to influence what you have to say about it, patrons. So, I'll give the leisurely Sunday crowd a chance, and let all the Monday morning folks weigh in before I get after it, but this should get you all revved up over your coffee!