Archive for January, 2007

Here’s another video for you all. Sorry the audio doesn’t match the video. The Japanese to English dubbing was hard to do.

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You owe it to yourself to watch this video. There is so much that can be said about this, but I will refrain. Your own reflections will be commentary enough.

20 Questions

Posted: January 24, 2007 in Questions

Every now and then I’m struck by the fact that so many questions that rattle around in my head never get answered. They just remain questions. And at the same time I realize that more and more questions there are the less and less real answers seem to come. So today I thought I would just share some general questions that have been on my mind.

Ready? Here we go, in no particular order.

1. How come I’ve never heard of most of the movies nominated for Academy Awards?

2. How come newscasters think they must spend 4 hours re-telling us what the President just told us?

3. How come Nancy Grace is still on TV?

4. Why does the weatherman start the “forecast” by telling us what already happened that day?

5. Why does my mother-in-law do her crossword puzzles in pen?

6. Why do both me and my mother-in-law do crossword puzzles?

7. Why doesn’t Starbuck’s have free WI-FI like everybody else?

8. Who are the people who haven’t learned to not use permanent marker on a whiteboard?

9. Why do people care about Brad and Angelina or Tom and Katie?

10. Why can you negotiate the cost of a house or car but not a computer or a sandwich at Subway?

11. Why was I such a jerk to so many people in high school and college?

12. Why was Shepherd Smith (of Fox News) wearing a Parka last night to cover the State of the Union? Was he covering it from Alaska?

13. Why didn’t the Texans draft Reggie Bush or Vince Young?

14. Why does Arizona not observe Daylight Savings Time?

15. Why do people like cats?

16. Why do ultra-fundamentalist Mormons think polygamy is a good idea? Isn’t one family difficult enough? (I mean, well worth it, but how many college tuitions and weddings do you want to pay for?)

17.Why are there ethnicities and races in the first place? Wouldn’t there be much more peace if we were all, say, black?

18. Why do people enjoying belittling each other so much?

19. Why do people of character and conviction so rarely rise to power?

20. How come so many of us Christians praise Martin Luther King, and Mother Theresa, but so seldom want to do the kinds of things they did?

Future Church

Posted: January 22, 2007 in Everything

One of the books I picked up over the holidays was Erwin McManus’ An Unstoppable Force. Here’s a excerpt that I think is particularly good. It reminds me of what the church — and particularly pastors — are supposed to be up to. In particular, it is a call for existing churches to not rest on its laurels or traditions.

“It may seem inconceivable, but not long ago the job of church growth consultant did not exist. In fact, church growth seminars and dying churches were virtually unheard of. Although most churches were essentially in plateau, there was a sense of the church as a place of permanence and stability. You just hung your sign outside, and the appropriate parishioners found their way there. The primary role of the pastor was caretaker/teacher, and many times even the role of evangelist was left to someone who came from out of town.

“One could almost predict the development of the Master of Divinity degree as the religious equivalent to the M.B.A. Seminaries began to produce what local churches perceived they needed; godly men who had a professional understanding of theology, pastoral care, and management. Pastors were valued for their ability to bring and keep order rather than for their ability to bring and lead change. The reality was that pastors were being equipped to preserve the past rather than create the future. We became known for being traditional rather than transformational. The ritual replaced the radical.”

Colts vs Bears!

Posted: January 22, 2007 in Super-Bowl

Two African-American coaches in the Super-Bowl. It’s already a win for me! And, what’s more, they’re both good, good men! The real win will be the day when the color of the coaches won’t matter.

It’s too early for me to pick a winner, but I’m torn. I have always liked Peyton Manning and I love Tony Dungy and feel that they lost the AFC Championship game last year in large part because Dungy’s son had recently died. On the other hand, defense — as they say — wins championships. And Chicago sure has that! But they also have Rex Groosman, and it’s hard to have faith in him at QB!

At the end of the day, I think I’ll be pulling for the Colts.

Dehumanizing

Posted: January 18, 2007 in American Idol, ranting

I’ve noticed of late how easy it becomes to dehumanize people. A couple of things got me thinking about this. First of all, I have been talking to my wife, Rochelle, about theology, professors and the culture of critique that is inherent in the academy and the church; how most professors and preachers I know can deconstruct anything and tell you the missteps any other theologian or practitioner have made in their thinking. Second, I recently posted a comment on a friend’s blog about what I believe is the harsh, cruel and dehumanizing treatment of contestants on the audition episodes of American Idol.

It all reminds me of an episode of The West Wing, when Toby is speaking to President Bartlett about the difficulties the president had as a child with his father. As Toby attacks Bartlett’s dad, the president responds, “Can we talk about my father with a little respect? He was my father, not some Dicken’s character.”

What he was saying is that when people aren’t in the room, when we don’t have to deal with them face-to-face we turn them into something other than human. For the aforementioned professors, as well as armchair theologians and intellectual elites, a person becomes what they write or say – or what the reader interprets they wrote or said. I can hear the discussion now, “Have you read so-in-so? He totally misses this,” or “Such-in-such has no idea about ______.” People somehow cease being humans with families and hopes and dreams, with a bright future and terrible foibles, and simple become an object for others to judge, criticize, or toss aside.

Take those American Idol kids. They stand in line for days, and sing for any number of talent scouts before moving along. Most are sent home! Only the best and the worst are allowed to enter the inner sanctum for Randy, Paula and Simon and the TV cameras. They’ve been passed up the line, their delusions of talent only spurned on be the actions of others. Why? So they can get into the room with the judges to be belittled and ridiculed. Can you imagine the sheer heartbreak, after believing you can sing and having producers of American Idol pass you up the line, only to be called “horrible, awful” or “the worst singer ever?”

A community of people can only come to the point of performing this cruelty on one another when we get to the point that people are no longer people; when they become objects! They have been dehumanized! No longer that creation that Psalm 8 proclaims is “crowned with glory.”

I wonder what might happen if the next time I was setting my jaw to deride someone if I thought about their family, their fears, their hurts, their hopes and their dreams. What would happen if, regardless of what their gifts are and are not, I saw them as fearfully and wonderfully made?

I think in that moment, they would become more human to me and I would become a little more human too.

Change and the Golf Room

Posted: January 17, 2007 in fatherhood, golf

Today is my friend, Melanie’s birthday. I kind of feel sorry for her. She was scheduled to participate in our church’s Women’s Bible Study and then have lunch with my wife and another woman they both respect a great deal. Alas, it was for naught, because icy streets in and around Houston have kept nearly everyone at home. I know from experience that spending your birthday alone — and in her case, chasing after a 4 year-old and toddler to boot — is no fun!

Yesterday she was recounting to me the surprise gathering that was thrown in her honor of her 30th birthday a few years ago. During the group’s time together, some of the “older” women shared “what the wish they knew at 30.” Melanie’s mom said to her “Don’t be afraid of change.” That’s good advice, I think.

I am frequently vocally advocating some kind of change, yet sometimes I find myself as resistant to changes as anyone could be. Today is one of those days.

My wife and I are expecting our second daughter in three weeks. I’m excited, yet hesitant. This afternoon my wife began clearing out the guest room — or as we call it, the “golf room.” As well as housing guest, this room housed my golf clubs, golf magazines, and my other golf related items. My friend, Kraig, and I painted the room a nice pale green and hung golf related pictures on the wall soon after we moved into our home. But my golf game took a back seat to parenthood after our first daughter was born three years ago. In fact I have only played three rounds of golf in over three years. As someone has said, “No scratch golfer has ever been Father of the Year.” Cleaning out “the golf room,” in some ways, signals the end of an era, a change. There was a time in my life when I went to the driving range a couple of times a week and played a round of golf on my day off. Now those days are filled with coloring, playing at the park, riding the carousel at the mall, and a host of other Daddy-Daughter related events.

And you know what, the change has been good! I adore watching my daughter grow up and see in her eyes the childlike faith that believes Daddy can do anything and knows that — as she frequently says — “God is taking care of us.” And I love seeing my wife’s belly growing larger and larger as our new baby get ready to, as Malia says, “come out.”

So this weekend, my golf stuff will move from “never-used” status to “storage” status. But soon that room will house something far more beautiful, glorious, and powerful.

And the upside is this, when the moment comes that I’ll have the time and money to play golf again, by the time my two girls are able to join me as I walk the links, it’ll be time for a new set of golf clubs. It’s a no lose situation!