Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Back in the Sam Hill of Beans

I am afraid I have been on more airplanes in the last few days than I like to be. It wasn't a record as far as the number of actual airplanes I have been in, but I certainly endured more airline hassles in the last eight days than I ever had in the previous eight years combined. The amazing thing was, that security has been an absolute breeze as though anticipating the airlines themselves would pick up the slack.

Anyway, during recent travels, one travel companion mentioned how much they hated mixed metaphors. You know what I mean: combining and misquoting little colloquialisms. For instance combining "on the tip of my tongue" and "at the top of my lungs" to come up with sentences like "It just rolled off the tip of my lungs." Anyway, this person's disdain for mixed metaphors was just too wonderful an opporunity to pass up. I came up with several and have heard more from others in the process. Here are some of my favorites. Work on some of your own. After all, it's not rocket surgery.

It's just spilt milk under the bridge.

That's grabbing the tiger by the horns.

Cry me a liver.

Keep your ear to the grindstone.

Don't beat a dead horse in the mouth.

I'm the one sticking my neck in a sling.

He's a little green behind the ears.

I've buttered my bed, I'll have to lay in it.

She was burning the oil at both ends.

And finally, my favorite...

It's time to fish or get off the pot.

Frankly, I am too tired to be very philosophical right now, so I thought levity was the better way to go. Besides, a spoonful of boogers makes the medicine go down.

Monday, May 17, 2004


I would love to say that the past week has been a wonderful one, but to do so would be dishonest. The truth is, I have been in a real funk. And not the cool George Clinton colorful dreadlocks kind of funk where you break out into irregular rythms with heavy bass and jazz influence. Not quite.

Instead, I have been mired in a fog resulting from too much of this world. Violent images from the news of world events, tiresome images from political campaigns, rising prices, diving stocks, the end of Friends.

So what to do?

What do you do when you realize that no matter what you say or how you try to appease them, some people want to kill and destroy you simply because you are from the United States?

What do you do when politics is just a popularity campaign instead of a dedication to leadership?

What do you do when 52 million people tune in to hear Rachel say, "Sex is the best way to say goodbye?"

I guess you try harder to be a light while continuing to pray, "Lord, come quickly."

I think this funk has an expiration date of some day this week. At least I hope so.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

More Disgusting Photos

My emotions have not been steady as I, along with the rest of the world, have seen and reacted to the photos of prisoners being mistreated in Iraq. As yet, the pendulum of these emotions has yet to cross the mid-point from shame to acceptance.

The closest I come to this is the knowledge that others have suffered greater horror at the hands of (in some cases) these very men. Or I wonder if such treatment is in fact a deterrent since many in these cultures view death as a reward.

But frankly, even in the flicker of such thoughts, I cannot escape the shame. I am ashamed that Americans can find it within themselves to inflict humiliation and torture on other humans. I am ashamed that people anywhere can be this cruel.

As I think about it, this is one of the reactions I had to seeing The Passion of the Christ, a news story no less real and much more compelling. I came away feeling ashamed that other members of the human race were ever capable of such cruelty.

I mentioned this to my dad and he reminded me that evil men have treated each other horribly all through history even since the Roman soldiers scourged Jesus. Names of evil notoriety still haunt us. Hitler, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Mussolini. Their victims cannot be numbered.

But one person bore not only the shame of the victims, but the disgrace of their tormentors. He did so willingly and with full awareness of the consequences. The same power is sufficient for any situation we can or cannot imagine today as well. I hope we see that first-hand. Quickly.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Still Waters

I have recently had a few discussions about an interesting direction our church is taking. Though the history of our church as well as its predominate make-up has not been one with much variety, the times they are a-changing. Due in no small part to a conscious decision to stay in a declining neighborhood, our church is becoming more and more of an outreach outpost.

For better or worse, many churches are choosing to leave the neighborhoods in which they reside for more upscale and comfortable environs. This is not unlike the urban flight of home-owners who are faced with aging neighborhoods and choose to get out while the getting is good rather than stay and try to revitalize. And so, more and more developments pop up and turn urban flight in into suburban sprawl.

I am thankful for a family at Highland church of Christ in Abilene who is largely responsible for some of the outreach emphasis. They are not flashy nor particularly interested in impressing people, but Gary And Maria White are a great example of the notion that "still waters run deep." With a quiet resolve they simply go about the business of serving others instead of seeking accolades from others. In doing this they simply waded into untested waters. Rather than waiting for someone else to push them in, they are now pulling people in behind them.

As more of us seek to follow this example, there are obvious questions that arise. How do we do this? Do we just let ourselves be victims in this process? Is it safe? Do we expect our subjects to be served, belong, behave or be obedient? If we do not expect belonging, behavior or obedience why bother? Do we have to buy a Joy Bus? Personally, I do not know the answers to these questions even though some nag at me. But then, I don't think the Whites really know them for sure either. Instead, I think they wade right in and say, "Come on in. The water may freeze your butt off or take your breath away or take advantage of you or steal from you or... Either way, dive in."

Thursday, May 06, 2004

But Everybody's Doing It.

Perhaps we have become too distanced from Leave it to Beaver if we are ever willing to try this as an excuse anymore. Are there some people in today's society who hear those words and do not automatically think to themselves, "Well, if everyone was jumping off a bridge would you do that too?" Thanks to old shows with classic television moms like that, an entire generation of kids actually held that excuse in check simply because the response was so obvious.

Sadly though, the resurgence of this tired old excuse is becoming strong once again. Granted, it takes on various forms, but the basic message is the same. If the establishment is doing it, it must be the way to go.

"Mom, all the other kids' mom's are letting them. "

"But the U.N. says we need to go about it this way."

"I want to drive this because that's what all my friends drive."

"We need to do it this way because the biggest church in the U.S. does it."

My dad is an interesting guy. He loves to go against the establishment. He does not seek controversy at all; in fact he avoids it. But he often will see which way the wind is blowing before he turns into it instead of keeping it at his back. He gives money to causes he deems worthy rather than keeping it for himself. He cares nothing about current styles. He helps people who only seek to frustrate him. He votes for outcasts when a party has thrown their support behind a community leader.

He follows Jesus.

Maybe that's where he gets it. Jesus existed outside that which was deemed the establishment. He flew in the face of the Pharisees. He argued the merits of time-honored commerce. He earnestly pursued outcasts instead of reaching for the brass ring. He loved others with a passion that could never be properly returned.

I know intellectually that my opinion about my dad is impossible and cannot be true in the least, but I still in my heart believe that he has never chosen a path that he knew to be improper. I know he has made mistakes and his attempts at logic sometimes make me want to scream, but I still cannot imagine that he ever knowingly pursued a path that he knew was outside what he thinks Jesus would do or expect. People who have heard me talk about my dad know that I think he is a great big goober and even that is an enormous understatement. But when it comes to being anti-establishment, I only wish I were bold enough to be like him. Because I think that in doing so, I would in turn be more like Jesus.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

In consideration of whether to blog or not, the obvious consideration I am forced to confront is why a rather private home-body would feel the least bit compelled to write out thoughts that might fall under the watchful gaze of others. The inner discussion is thus begun and continued as I pose to myself the very obvious reality of the fact that few "will little note nor long remember" what I have to say if indeed anyone were to stumble upon it. So why bother? Again, a great counter to myself. Well, Self, I think there might be a therapudic quality in blogging, much like that people have in keeping a journal. And like a very wise man once said, "It's better than a kick in the head." Perhaps that is what many of us are missing: PERSPECTIVE. After all, what situation could not be better presented in the light of a well chosen comparison.

"Eat your vegetables. There are starving kids in China."
Perspectives in the kid's eye: "Brussel Sprouts v. Ice Cream, Brussell Sprouts v. Hunger. Either way, Brussell Sprouts come out the big loser. Send them to China."

This politician or that politician.

Perspective of the voter: "Um, how about that kick in the head?"

So as I toy with the worth of blogging, I think that perhaps that there is the element of perspective, but also of time. Time will tell whether or not the exercise was actually therapudic or wasteful; inspired or annoying. Until then, it's better than a kick in the head.

By the way, the very wise man who used that expression was an old boss of mine. I wish I'd kept that evaluation form.