Friday, April 30, 2010

Did You Hear That?




In Illinois we are in "Tornado "Alley (actually a branch known as "Hoosier Alley" ), so sirens are an important part of our lives. When you hear them, you get your butt into the cellar (or other safe haven). There are three different reactions:

1. If you’d never heard the siren’s wail before, you wouldn’t know what to do, and might not react appropriately. You have to be taught.

2. If you were new to the Alley, but had been informed by long-time residents about the warning system, you would respect the storm, trust the system and run posthaste to somewhere safe.

3. Those of us who grew up here are another story. When I was a kid we once sat in lawn chairs in the back yard and watched one go by in the distance. You ask if you heard what you thought you heard. You turn on the radio or TV; you don’t want to go outside in the storm to get to the cellar if you really don’t have to – there are cobwebs, mice and icky stuff down there! If you’re a guy, you go outside and stare at the clouds for a while to divine the future. “Do you think we should go to the basement honey?” “Nah, it’s just a frontal down-burst!” (Our sturdy timber-frame barn was moved a foot off of it’s foundation on that one.)

While I’m wasting time weighing odds, one of these days I’ll find myself hanging with Dorothy in Oz. We remember all the times we went to safety and nothing happened, but when we don’t go to safety and something happens we don’t live to remember it! We become immune to the urgency, desensitized enough to lose our edge. The novice has fear but no knowledge. The fledgling has fear and knowledge. The worldly has knowledge but no fear. Our bodies are evolved to work best when there is a healthy balance of the two.

In how many other areas of our lives does this apply? At school: the lost sheep wandering the halls on their first day; the seasoned second-grader who teaches you the ropes; or the jaded high-schooler who snarls at you for looking at them. Or at work: the over-whelmed newbie; the “overachieving” up-and-comer; or the experienced system-surfer marking time.

What about at church:  Seeker; Convert; Council?

What’s that? Did you hear something?












Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Innocence Lost



Sometimes, I miss having a wee-one around the house. 

Other times I’d rather just take a nap in front of the TV.

There is something wistfully contagious from watching readily triggered joy suddenly beaming forth in big eyes, gap-toothed smile and infectious belly-laughter; something precious and ephemeral. I was walking on the trail the other day, and saw three kids fishing from the bridge over a shallow creek. A child will be perfectly content to fish in anything remotely resembling water, and will be overjoyed to catch the smallest minnow or to be diverted by other miracles.

“Hey, look at this bug!”

“Let’s catch some tadpoles and take them home.”

No depth-finder, no graphite rod, no overpowered bass-boat; just joy, wonder and discovery.

I once tried selling sports cards at shows to make some extra money. Dealers would ignore kids looking to spend their hard earned allowances on a card to dream with, to feel and study, to get all sweaty in your back pocket, to get closer to a hero. Instead they sought investors, hoarders and big-game hunters. The industry went from bubble gum, collect them all, I’ll give you a Willie Mays and Lou Brock for a Mickey Mantle grocery-counter cards to $100 boxes of unopened cards that don’t even include a whole set, artificially rare rookie cards, jersey card bling and pneumatically sealed and graded entombed masterpieces.

 “Hey Mister, how much for that card?” “Hold on, let me check the latest market report.”

“You’re my favorite player, will you sign my ball?” “Get lost kid, you’re just going to sell it online and I’ll get nothing!”

I blog about my passions: God, art and nature. One thing that they all have in common is that at unexpected moments they can trigger for me that childlike sense of wonder. Maybe it takes the bright eyes of children to see Kingdom here and now. Blessed are the wide-eyed for they shall inherit... The awe in Psalms is not fear or trembling or even wordless amazement - for me, it is the gasp of a child, followed soon after by “NEAT!” Please Abba, don’t let me grow up…

Hey! Look at this bug!    


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Luck is in the Eye of the Lottery Ticket Beholder



Man! I came thiiiiisss close to winning the lottery last week!

The first two numbers called were a 15 and a 17; I had a 14 and 17! I mean, what are the odds of that? The next ball was a 48; subtract 1 from the 2 and 1 from the 8 and you get my number – 39. See; just an eyelash away! The fourth number to come forth was forty-eight. My number was 35, which is obviously 3+1=4 and 3+5=8; 4 & 8, 48! Spooky ain’t it! The final winning number was 53 which is merely my 35 reversed. Didn’t I tell you? I don’t know how you can be any closer than that! That 50 mil sure would have been sweet…

Luck is how we choose to view a past event. My real life perception of my luck quotient is more along the lines of: “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” (Hee Haw) Some people believe in luck through fate; God pre-ordaining me to not win at lotto. Others believe in guardian angels who bless their every action, or who catch them when they tempt fate. Many believe that we make our own luck through hard work and preparation. Some even believe that it is God’s blessings made manifest in their lives; minor miracles. Or is luck a form of temptation?

We sometimes forget that “luck” is interpreted and discerned individually from the id and ego, our personality, our history, our hormone level at the moment, etc. I didn’t have one single lottery number, and yet I almost won. A mind can manipulate facts to fit; see how gambling can be a problem for some? If we feel lucky - we are. We go into something with greater confidence which predisposes us to a greater success rate. We are less likely to give up, which also improves our success tally. We are inclined to interpret things after the fact as luck, proving our point to ourselves. We create ourselves as being lucky, or not.

“You have to ask yourself, ‘Do I feel lucky?’. So tell me punk; do you feel lucky today?” (Dirty Harry) What do you think about being lucky? Does a lucky person have room for God, or is luck their god? Does an unlucky person trust God; is their ill-fortune punishment or testing?

 FYI:
Lucky (noun, Scottish); an aged woman, an honorific: “How are you today Lucky McDonald?”

lucky (adverb, Scottish); more than sufficient: “I need a pint. It’s lucky hot today!”

Monday, April 26, 2010

Webs We Weave



I’ve told the story here before how I used my Grandmother’s fictitious death more than once to get out of stressful situations. Not only did it get me out of things, it had the added benefit of getting me unwarranted sympathy! This touches on two of the big reasons humans lie.

Lying is an avoidance measure. We lie to avoid doing something or to avoid the ramifications of something we already did. I once severely burned my arm while cooking. Since I was not allowed to use the stove, I told my Mother that I had burned it on a friend’s motorcycle. (Why I couldn’t endanger the house by cooking but could ride with a novice rider sans helmet is a whole different story!) Another time I screwed up while cutting my hair and left mangy looking bald spots on the back of my knobby head. To even things out so the bald spots wouldn’t stand out so much, I shaved my whole head. (It wasn’t a pretty picture – imagine a hedge-apple…) Not wanting to look like an idiot (yeah I know!) I told people at school that it was from chemo and radiation. Again, a double whammy of get out of jail free and unearned sympathy! Later, I once hid an expensive camera that we couldn’t afford from my wife for a year so I could honestly say “What, that old thing? I’ve had it for a while!”  It’s not that I had issues with telling the truth; I had issues with accepting the consequences of my own stupidity.

Lying is an attention getting measure. We lie to get something we don’t deserve, or to steal attention and affection. I once told a Jewish girl I was trying to date that I had gotten beat up in an anti-Nazi protest. I told myself that I was smarter and better than others. I tell God that if He helps me win the lottery I’ll go to seminary. If God’s grace is freely given without cause, why do I feel the need to earn it at any cost?

We tell red-faced and little-white lies to grease the cogs of life, but what we really grease is the already slippery slope to despair and self hatred. When we lie to others, we are trying to reshape our self-created mindscape environment in a more favorable light to avoid the darkness of our actions and emotions. When we lie to others, we hurt ourselves more than them. When we lie, we sin against ourselves.

Should I then hate myself for being a weak human?

When we say something negative and untrue against another it is a false witness, but so is when we say something positive and untrue in favor of ourselves. But, what about flattery and false praise; is telling something positive and untrue in favor of someone else a false witness? What about self contempt and mockery; is telling something negative and untrue against ourselves a false witness? If I am made in His image and always put myself down… 

Oh what a tangled web!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Good Shepherd Sunday



If ever a creature could be considered biblical, it would be the sheep. Not only are they in the Bible (a lot), they are important stand-ins in the play of life. We had sheep when I was young.

We frequently see sheep as a metaphor for the chosen people of Israel, or for the church.  How unflattering! Couldn’t I be a lion or a bull instead of a bawling ball of fluff? We are not just a flock of sheep though; we’re God’s personal prized flock! God (for his own mysterious and unfathomable reasons) made sheep and imbued them with their essence; woolly-brained followers bumbling along in life’s pastures. Through their oblivious naive natures, sheep embody innocence; everything surprises them. Sheep are like us; they need tending.

In the Old Testament, the Lord is seen as the tender of the sheep: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. (Psalm 23)” Later, being a lowly sheep herder was seen as an unclean thing. Jesus’ birth was proclaimed first to the shepherds in the field to reveal that he came for those whom society had pushed aside, and he willingly characterized himself as the good shepherd (John 10). Nowadays, we often refer to the pastor and her flock (1 Peter 5:1-5). A shepherd tries to keep the flock together, and to keep them from falling off cliffs, but can’t alter the essential character of the sheep. They will still wander off, flee shadows, get lost in broad daylight, bleat in fear and hunger. Thank God though that sheep are easier to herd than cats!

A strong voice and a rod will only get you so far. A shepherd also needs sheep dogs. Those annoying little bundles of energy who always yap and nip at the flock. The ones who overcame their carnivores' nature to protect; to pray, instead of prey. Guardians who would throw their lives to the wolves to save their charges. 

Every flock has its bell-sheep, the more experienced flock members whose example the rest follow. Past mistakes have given them wisdom to share.  It is a well deserved honor to wear the bell, but an even greater responsibility.

The flock just is. It doesn’t often question the meaning of being sheep. It spends its life living in trust, eating and drinking God’s bounty, each  one of the flock fulfilling its role in life. Young know-it-all-rams; caring nervous mothers; lambs who can’t keep the joy out of their spring-like legs. We are called to be Christ-like, so the sheep must paradoxically learn how to be the shepherd. We each must seek and rejoice over the lost sheep found (Luke 15:1-7).

But what is the most powerful sheep message in the Bible? Jesus as the sacrificial lamb. The pure and innocent one given by God to redeem our impure guilty selves. The last becomes the first, and the greatest serves the least (Matthew 20:20-28). That is the power and glory of the sheep.

Living Together in Fellowship

Friday, April 23, 2010

New Layout

Let me know what you think of the new look.

Known and Unknowing









To myself I’m quite unknowable;
Every cell of me,
A living breathing mystery.
Yet I am quite intimately known;
Every atom of me,
To that Maker of all atoms.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Duck and Roll



As a child, I learned many a life lesson from TV and radio public service campaigns,  mind-worm jingles, and the scratchy, flickering, clickity-clackity hygiene and safety films. Apparently, the government really wanted to keep us baby-boomer babies safe! STOP, DROP and ROLL!  Duck and cover.  Based on a sound understanding of the physics and chemistry of fire, the first is highly effective in de-firing yourself. Based upon wishful thinking, the desire to avoid unproductive panic and a total disregard of nuclear physics, the latter is woefully inadequate!

Yet I was taught via mantra not to worry because my tiny school desk could withstand a thermonuclear blast and block the resulting radiation. It must have been a combination of the tensile properties of generations-worth of petrified chewing gum holding the desk together, and the magical properties of the runes carved in the wooden top. More coffin than deflector shield, the desk was our totem of safe harbor from the red threat. Sometimes hearing something over and over makes it so.

On the other hand, if you’re a human torch you don’t want to stop and google a solution! A response ingrained from aurally repetitious brainwashing triggers an instant and life saving reptile-brain reaction. Sometimes hearing something over and over again makes it go.

What messages are we hearing over and over again?

What messages are we saying over and over again?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Religion and Politics



“The King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, worshipped Daniel, and commanded that a grain offering and incense be offered to him.” Daniel 3:46

Note that Daniel does not do what we would expect of a devout man, he does not try to dissuade the King from his rash and misdirected worship. Instead, he, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego take advantage of the situation to be able to work from the inside; to serve God by serving His people by improving government through serving the King. Some times obedience is called for. Some times we give Caesar his due.

To consolidate his power and unify his government, the King then erected a monumental statue. At the unveiling ceremony, all the officials of the land were to bow down and worship the symbol of government as a way of pledging their allegiance to king and country. Daniel’s three friends (where was Dan I wonder?) could not worship anything but God, so jealous bureaucrats tattled on them to the King. The King gave them a choice, bow or burn.

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to present a defense to you in this matter. If God can deliver us, let Him. If not, we still will not worship and serve any other god.” Daniel 3:16-18

Most Kings do not like being put in their place! The furnace was so hot with his fury that the loyal King’s-men were incinerated in the process of tossing the young men in. So imagine the King’s surprise to see fourfigures casually moving around in the fire! So awed was he that after he let them out, he passed a royal decree against dissing “the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego… for there is no other god who can deliver like this.” (Daniel 3:29)

By their refusal to participate, the Babylonian government became more just, and they were promoted to positions of even greater influence over the future of their people. By choosing not to serve the King blindly and through passive resistance, they served God and God’s people. Some times civil disobedience is called for. Some times we need to influence Caesar.

There are many ways to witness, depending upon the call, gifts and circumstance. Daniel did so by submitting to the princes of this world. His friends did so by refusing to submit. All were effective because they did so with calm humility and obvious conviction. How would Israel’s exile in Babylon have turned out if they had chosen different paths? How about our exile here on Earth and our choices today?

Monday, April 19, 2010

God's Armor



Doff human armor:
Lies, evil, war, doubt, sin and self;
Don then His armor.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lectionary Reading for April 18



All this time Saul was breathing down the necks of the Master's disciples, out for the kill. He went to the Chief Priest and got arrest warrants to take to the meeting places in Damascus so that if he found anyone there belonging to the Way, whether men or women, he could arrest them and bring them to Jerusalem.
He set off. When he got to the outskirts of Damascus, he was suddenly dazed by a blinding flash of light. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice: "Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?"
He said, "Who are you, Master?"
"I am Jesus, the One you're hunting down. I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you'll be told what to do next."
(Acts 9:1-6, The Message)


"I have never seen in my life a good Indian ... except when I have seen a dead Indian." (Representative James Cavanaugh, 1869)
"The buffalo are disappearing rapidly, but not faster than I desire. I regard the destruction of such game as Indians subsist upon as facilitating the policy of the Government, of destroying their hunting habits, coercing them on reservations, and compelling them to begin to adopt the habits of civilization." (Secretary of Interior Columbus Delano, 1874)

April 18th is Native American Ministries Sunday in the United Methodist Church. The reading from Acts 9 about genocidal Saul seems appropriate.

Friday, April 16, 2010

UNCLE!



Hello. My name is Tim and I’m a quitter.

In high school I had made it to the state Latin championships (yeah, go ahead and snicker!). I got so nervous that I felt ill – I had convinced myself that the kids in the Catholic schools in Chicago were only forced to speak Latin all day; that it was their native tongue. Not to mention the Latin School of Chicago…  I feared failing badly, of looking unlike the star I wanted to be, so I blew it off by telling my teacher that my Grandmother had died.  Also in high school (as you can see it wasn’t the best of times for me) I had accepted a Sadie Hawkins invite from a beautiful girl. But I am a spastic dancer at best and she was statuesquely taller than I... Again fear got the best of me. Again (you guessed it) I called to say I couldn’t go because my Grandmother had died. 

Grandma is alive and well; I really should apologize for killing her off a few times. I may have been freakily book-smart, but I obviously lacked somewhat creativity!

So I’ve collected some of my favorite humorous quotes about quitting. After all, who’d be a better judge than I?

1.  “I break with thee. I break with thee. I throw dog poop on your shoes.” Steve Martin
2.  “It’s easy to quit smoking. I’ve done it hundreds of times.” Mark Twain
3.  “Take this job and shove it! I ain’t workin’ here no more.” David Allan Coe
4.  “I have worked hard for you and have never been paid. You are a horrible boss. I will work for you no  more.”  My son (to his mother)
5.  “I taught Sunday school for years. I did my time.”  Anonymous

Let’s hear from all of you. Comment and share what some of your funniest sad sack stories of surrender are. It will make the rest of us feel better!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Alpha, the Omega and the Delta



Once in a while I get this really neat gadget at a planning charrette – a triangular shaped highlighter! Now, I am a highlighter addict anyway; no not for the smell - but for the ability to let posterity know what I think is “important” in a book. It’s my version of carving my initials on a tree or spray-painting a hand silhouette in a cave. Each tip of the triangle has a different color, so I can ascribe a different meaning to each: green could be for greenways; yellow could be business districts; and pink could be residential neighbor-hoods. Or each color could be assigned to a contributor so we know who drew what on the plan. Planning is about proactively addressing and hopefully channeling change. If we're really lucky, we get to stimulate change! The Greek letter Delta is the scientific symbol for change. Delta is shaped like a triangle, so a triangular highlighter for planners to play with is also a bit of a pun, and I love puns.

The profound can often be found through just looking at the ground: parables and parodies; analogs and metaphors; allegories and tall-stories. The Trinitarian nature of One God is a challenge. Preachers have used shamrocks, Christmas trees and musical chords as visuals. How could we use our humble trilighter?

I would have special ones made up. One highlighter would be green to represent God the Father of Creation. The second color would be blue to represent God the Son who wept for us. The last color would the fire-red of the Spirit. The triangle would be white, which is composed of all the colors of the rainbow. I would preach that between the beginning and the end there is change. God is not a square church building but an ever changing and fertile river delta.

PS: If you like this idea and make some On-Highlighters I want a cut!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

FOIAed to Distraction?



I work for local government (it’s OK if that triggers a reaction of wanting to pray for me – please do). We are covered by national and state Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws which assure that government is transparent to its citizens. As with all human inventions, there are ways to turn something good into fun and profit. A request from a marketing company for all the names, addresses, and phone numbers of everyone who has ever bid on any project in the last two years. All paper and digital files on, about, or remotely related to subject X from the beginning of time. A request that may take only five minutes to type and send can cause many many man-hours of work to address; if I wanted to stop government in its tracks, this is how I would do it. This is part of my job, so although I am sometimes frustrated by the perceived intent behind some requests (profit, sabotage or paranoia), I do all I can to answer the request diligently.

This makes me think of prayer. Is it a “request” if it is mandatory? Do we use prayer as a FOIA request in an effort to get God to provide proof to us that He exists? Do we demand an itemized list of all the things He’s done in the world lately? Do we use the response as an excuse to disbelieve? Do we try to FOIA God into submission with marathon prayer? Do we demand concrete confirmation of God’s intent before we comply with His call? How does God feel about all our petty petitions?

I can only imagine the reason behind many of the requests I deal with, but God knows the intent behind the requests sent His way. I get frustrated because I judge worthiness based upon my perception of whether the request is petty or not. How many of us think that we would be less judgmental of people if we could only discern the real reason behind their behavior? In many cases, the true intent may be hidden even from the asker, but not from God. The Bible suggests though that sometimes God doesn’t care about the intent of the prayer – it is God’s intent that matters. 

Thank God!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Wha'z'at?



I was walking along the trail the other day, and heard the loudest bird I'd ever heard before; it's song out did the frequent jets, road traffic and even some Mexican accordion music on a radio nearby. I expected to find it right next to me, but there it was way up in a tree top. To a non-birder like me, it looked like a giant sparrow on steroids. Beautiful song from this big brute? It's like the first time you hear Gomer Pyle or Festus sing; whoa there! So I later looked it up; it was a Brown Thrasher. Not a sparrow at all, and not much of a name IMHO! Whatever Adam gave it such a common handle must have been deaf or all worn out from naming  fancy-pant birds like Orioles, Tanagers and Buntings...

(Note: click on the blue hyperlinks for more info.)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Treating With Enemies



The vibrating sun beat down unmercifully like a sledge hammer on the Judean Desert near the shore of the toxic Dead Sea. The Army of  King Saul had hounded David’s small band of rangers to their hide-out near the springs in the Wilderness of En Gedi. Inexorably, they were pushed deeper into the box-canyon towards the final refuge of the caves in the Rocks of the Ibex. Saul slipped into one such cave to relieve himself. It would not be proper to go on the march as his soldiers did, and he lingered in the caves coolness.

As providence would have it, it just so happened that that was the very cave in which David and his men hid. In the dark they whispered to David that God had delivered Saul up so that David could put an end to the injustice and they could all return to their homes. Using the stealth he had learned as a child watching lions stalk his sheep, David was soon close enough to reach out and touch the king. But, instead of cutting him down from behind, David quietly counted coup by cutting off a piece of Saul’s robe. David could not bring himself to hurt the father of his best friend, the man he once loved, the man he still saw as his king anointed by God. But even so, David was distressed by his own act of contempt.

So alone he followed Saul out of the cave and showed him the swatch of cloth in his hand. In one of his more lucid moments, Saul realized the depth of David’s act of grace, and praised him for being the better man. David was reconciled to Saul, but the truce did not last long.

Perhaps aware that Saul’s grasp on his fragile sanity was slipping more and more, David and his band had never come in from the desert. Before long, they were again wanted men. The full might of Saul’s army marched into the Wilderness of Ziph, hunting David. As night fell, the exhausted troops encamped on a hill. In the dark, David and a nephew stole into the camp and into the king’s very own tent. Again, David was urged to put an end to the campaign against him once and for all. Again, David chose to dishonor the king by sparing his life when it was in his hand. He took the king’s stout spear (perhaps the very one that had been flung at him in Saul’s unreasoning blind rage) and the king’s jug of water from next to Saul’s slumbering head and glided out into the night.

Safely outside the camp, David once more showed the king the measure of his mercy. Once again they were reconciled. Once again, David did not trust that the king’s paranoid delusions would not return. To avoid another confrontation, David fled Saul’s kingdom.

In a time of brutality, why did David buck convention and spare his enemy at the risk of his own life? In our own day of increasing brutality, how are we to treat our enemies?
1. David was merciful to Saul because he remembered the good that was once in him, and not just what the world had made him. David loved Saul because Saul had once loved him.
2. David showed mercy to Saul to spare his Jonathan and the others who loved Saul in spite of what he had become. Even evil dictators have those who are bound to them in love.
3. David knew the effectiveness of heaping burning embers of kindness on the head of your enemy could be. David’s insolent pranks attacked the pride that had corrupted Saul, in an effort to redeem him.
4. David knew that he was to forgive as many times as his enemy repented, and that if he killed Saul there could be no repentance.
5. David realized that Saul was driven mad by God, and knew that Saul’s life was not his to take or judge.
6. David trusted God’s covenant with him and so was not compelled to take matters into his own hand in his own time.
7. David had enough sense to stay away from Saul to de-escalate the conflict and avoid tempting Saul into a hasty act.
8. David did not turn his back on Saul.

So how are we to treat our enemies today? The same way David did; with compassion, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, understanding and patience balance with wisdom and awareness.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Naked TV Reviewer



From the “In Case Anybody Cares” Department

One of our Chicago papers ran a photo-gallery of TV shows that they thought were on the bubble – shows that had not yet been picked up by their networks for next year. Since my wife and I always play critic at home on the couch, I assume I’m just as qualified as anyone else! So here goes:

Chuck (NBC) This show is nerdvana! But, since I am a hopeless romantic and know all about marrying out of my league I want Chuck and Sarah/Sam to live happily ever after. Let them get married as the series’ finale and go off grid.

Heroes (NBC) Alright already; you can only be innovative once. Thereafter you’re a derivative of yourself. Now a spin off of Hiro trapped in feudal Japan where he runs into Mr. Sulu and the crew time-tripping again might be something…

Flash Forward (ABC) After the next black-out, the cast wakes up on the island and find out it was all Locke/Man in Black’s fault! End of series.

The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS) So, whose idea was it to take the most annoying character on the most annoying show in history? And by the time you typed in the title on line to find out when it is on the show is half over. And why don’t they change the name of the show when they show reruns?

Trauma (NBC) I’m sorry, I’m still grieving for ER to get involved in another medical relationship at this time.

Numb3rs (CBS) Math anxiety is up there in our dreads. Shouldn’t the mathematician be the antagonist instead of the protagonist? What’s next, a hero that captures crooks by anesthetizing them through public speaking?

Human Target (FOX) If he were guarding the President I might care.

Parenthood (NBC) Without Rory Gilmore, Lorelai sure is a  mess! And since when is it a good idea to smoke pot in the schoolyard at one of your kids’ events?

Mercy (NBC) Been there, done that on Gray’s Private Anatomy. Time for a coup de gras to put it out of its misery, it’s the merciful thing to do.

The Forgotten (ABC) Emphasize the odd little family the quirky characters have created for themselves and give it another year.

Medium (NBC/CBS/NBC/?) Too many bizarre dreams and not enough reality. “And this is the point in today’s episode where Allison against all common sense goes by herself up to a maniacal serial killer and says ‘I saw what you did’, and lives to do it again!” Evolution is all about weeding out this kind of stupidity.

The Deep End (ABC) If I want to watch a show with attorneys as the good guys I’ll watch Fantasy island reruns!

Lie to Me (FOX)Sorry, I don’t watch FOX News.

Life Unexpected (CW) Gee, I wonder why the poor kid is screwed up! Emancipation!

Sons of Tucson (FOX) Never heard of it! Maybe that’s their problem?

Cold Case (CBS) I love the interactions of the cast. They need to go back further in time though. When you can use the same actor and clothes in the then and now scenes it looks like you have no budget; like Star Trek at the OK Corral…

Accidentally on Purpose (CBS) Full of redeeming messages and warm fuzzies. Not!

Better Off Ted (ABC) How many faux amateur jiggling camera shows do we really need? Better off dead…

V (ABC) Y? Not everything should be recycled! What’s next, My Mother the Hybrid Car?

Gary Unmarried (CBS) Gee, I wonder why?

Melrose Place (CW) Didn’t they already cancel that show years ago?

Brothers (FOX) Never seen it. Brother where art thou?

Ever notice that it is fun to criticize? I wonder why?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Guitarman Haiku



Out of the spotlight,
On the fringe of center-stage;
Not gently weeping.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I am a Worrier


My mother is Piglet and my father Eeyore; so it’s no wonder I’m more Rabbit than Pooh Bear. I worry about stuff. My wife will tell you; I can worry about positively any little thing under the sun – and it doesn’t have to be a real thing. Hey; someone has to care enough about things to fret! It’s my contribution to the world.

I don’t know if it assuages my guilt, but I come by it honestly. My mom is 90 pounds of nervous energy that allows her to be hyper-vigilant for things that might remotely be. I just got a letter from her - she was worried that she shouldn’t turn her census form in until after April first. She had already filled it out declaring that there are the two of them living in the household as of April first; but if she mails it in now how does she know that they will both be alive on April first? Who knows what kind of trouble she could get into for falsifying a governmental document! She sometimes worries that she worries too much...

I am an avid worrier too. My particular fetish is the eminent failure of mechanical and electronic devices and the resulting personal apocalypse therefrom. I’ve been around a long time, and some of the worst disasters I’ve seen were all in my head. And before you ask; acts of God like tsunamis, earthquakes or tornados fly under my radar, and acts of  the Enemy like global warming, injustice, politics and Paris Hilton are mere blips on the edge of my radar screen. I greedily focus my pathos on myself, my family, my church. What would I do IF?

I have a gift of imagination. When I prepare for a lecture or sermon, I envision how it will be over and over again as I hike, drive, lay in bed, shower, etc. When it comes time, I’ve already experienced the event a hundred times and know it will go well. This gift can become a curse if misdirected however. I justify worrying about the car as preparing myself in advance for action, but when it happens it is never the scenario I had mentally rehearsed, so I freeze or call my friend Bob to whine. The difference between envisioning and worrying is one of control. When I replay the preview tape of a presentation as a loop in my head, it works because it is under my control. I know what will happen, so there is no stimulus to trigger the fight-or-flight response. But when I do a pre-emptive strike and panic about hypothetical events outside of my control, my hormones have already been triggered and worn off and all that is left is muscle twitching gut-wrenching post hormone crash.

The other aspect is surrender. I intentionally do not write detailed sermons or practice them because I don’t want to be so married to what I want to say as to not leave room for the Spirit to speak. Yet when I get frustrated because of my lack of control over the washing machines and church councils in my life, I’m trying to do it all on my own. I make an idol of wrathful appliances and vehicles that must be appeased or I will suffer all too repeatedly imaginable consequences; chanting my mantra “come on come on come on START!”

The Piglet in me worries that it worries too much, and the Eeyore in me tells me there is nothing I can do about it so why even bother. The Rabbit in me tells me I have to control everything to prevent the bad imagined things. My fragmented mind explodes with the multitude of these voices inside me shouting to be heard. It is the Spirit in me that I should be listening to, the Zen of my inner Pooh. But I ain’t perfect... yet.

How about you? Do your worries rule you? Do you store up concerns like treasure on earth?