Sunday, October 24, 2010

Weird reminders

Since no high school students ever come to Bible Study anymore, and our Pastor invited them to his anyway- I've just started to let my wife and girls get in the shower first and enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee while they're at Sunday School . 

This morning I remembered that I had to usher and that the choir was singing. Usually my wife comes home for some coffee after she's done leading the opening music for Sunday School. Today she didn't, finally she called me as asked if I needed a ride or if I was planning on coming to choir practice on my own.

Ordinarily I try to be pretty rational, non-superstitious and assume that if/when God is going to speak to me it will be either through His Word or preaching on His Word. But as theologically conservative and as much of a level-headed Lutheran ad I like to be- I certainly think He's capable of having a sense of humor.

Anyway, when I got in, there was a fortune cookie from the Chinese restaurant I took my girls to for lunch the day before. As I stuck the key in the ignition I absent-mindedly cracked it open. 

"You have a deep appreciation of the arts and music"  it read. Including contemporary praise music, I thought with guilt about being late. It's only a few blocks, but I switched on the radio to hear David Bowie chanting the chorus of his song, "Modern love gets me to the church on time..."

Maybe coincidence, maybe light-hearted encouragement to someone who wanted to go back to bed.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We're all swine before God's pearls

God Bless You, Mr. RosewaterGod Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. This obviously isn't Vonnegut's most famous novel. I'm not qualifies as a literary critic to say whether it's one of his best. And I've only just started reading it, so I'm not ready to say whether it's my favorite of his yet. But I will say this, it has to be the least subtle. What I mean by that is that is is a scathing satire of class and political and moral hypocrisy in America, and he doesn't hold any punches. Because of that, I am loving it!

Witness this exchange between Senator Lister Rosewater with his daughter-in-law Sylvia, discussing the mental health of his son, Eliot:

"I loved Eliot on sight."
"Isn't there some other word you could use?"
"Than what?"
"Than love."
"What better word is there?"
"It was a perfectly good word- until Eliot got hold of it. It's spoiled for me now. Eliot did to the word love what the Russians did to the word democracy. If Eliot is going to love everybody, no matter what they are, no matter what they do, then those of us who love particular people for particular reasons had better find ourselves a new word." He looked at an oil painting of his deceased wife. "For instance- I loved her more than I love our garbage collector, which makes me guilty of the most unspeakable of modern crimes: Dis-crim-i-nay-tion."
Yeah, if you read and believe anything Jesus said in the New Testament, we are all called to love our neighbor indiscriminately and unconditionally- and as Vonnegut shows through his vagabond billionaire protagonist, Eliot Rosewater, if you genuinely follow Christ's example, people with think you're certifiably insane.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Praying for people who drive you crazy

"How many of us have conflicts with someone else- and how many of us pray for that person? We have individuals with whom we are competitive, or whom we dislike or have a quarrel with; but very few of us have true enemies in the martial sense. And yet if Lincoln could pray fervently- and contemporary reports indicate he did- for the people who were opposing him, how much more can we do for someone we just find a little irritating?" 
 John Wooden (A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Fwd: Is it November 3 yet?

I know I should take this pledge too, it's just so hard for me to remain civil in the face of blatant propaganda, lies and/or ridiculous levels of stupidity. I am asking God to help me to just delete and not reply to such emails from now on though. And I sure's hell will only hit "reply" and never, ever "reply all" if and when I do fall off the wagon and give in to the urge to "straighten out" somebody's mistaken thinking or flawed logic.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sojourners <>
Date: Wed, Oct 6, 2010 at 12:00 PM
Subject: Is it November 3 yet?

Dear Ted,

Because name calling is so 2009 ...

Truth and Civility Marshal Badge

Are you ready? Like it or not, election season is upon us with its requisite yard signs, campaign promises, attack ads, and more people lobbying you in public places and knocking on your door than when it's Girl Scout cookie time (btw, we love those cookies).

Did you know that Sojourners doesn't support any candidates during election season? Our motto is "no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, only permanent issues" -- and, trust us, there will be plenty of issues waiting for us on the other side of Election Day.

Frankly, we'd like to take a vacation until November 3, but since that isn't an option, we came up with a game plan to survive the season of mud-slinging: our first-ever Truth and Civility Election Watch!

Want to join us? Sign our TCEW Pledge, print off our fun deputy badge, and get started.

Truth and Civility Election Watch Pledge

For the duration of the election season, I hereby pledge to uphold the highest standards of truth and civility in word, thought, and deed.

On my honor, I will:

•    Just say no to crazy email forwards, and to any other noxious electronic communication that comes my way. Everyone in your address book will thank us. We promise.

•    Communicate in a spirit of truth, humility, love, and patience with all people I come in contact with, despite our political disagreements or family relationship. That goes for Uncle Frank. Especially Uncle Frank.

•    Question any and all statements that sound mean, vindictive, or absurd; that provide no source or context; or that are politically motivated. So, pretty much everything you hear on cable TV news.

•    Share and enjoy stories of folks who are living out an attitude of truth and civility. Make sure each story meets both requirements: Nice people telling lies don't count.

•    As a witness for God, encourage and spread a message of hope and reconciliation to a world that is deeply divided by political and cultural differences. Like Jesus taught.

In the coming weeks we'll highlight civil discourse and actions on our blog, compile our very own Truth and Civility Honor Roll with submissions from people like you, and call the news media to account when they give airtime or ink to uncivil or untruthful dialogue.

Tired of the hateful rants, lying, and deceptive rhetoric? Don't suffer in silence -- join the Truth and Civility Election Watch today!

Here's to a rousing invigoration of truth and civility. Oh, and don't forget to vote -- it is still important.


Tim, Jim, Elizabeth, and the rest of the team at Sojourners

P.S. Want to take your commitment to Truth and Civility more seriously? Check out our full-length Civility Covenant, which outlines scriptural teachings on the topic -- perfect for teaching at your next Sunday School or small group.

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