Sunday, March 15, 2009

Something You Should See -or- Journalism Lives, on Comedy Central

Check out this interview. The best journalists in America are on comedians.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Haunting Concept of the Glowing Globe Moments –or- What Would Happen If All 6.76 Billion Of Us Jumped, Laughed, Or Breathed In At The Same Time?

My sweaty kid-hands, with dry play-do under the fingernails, plug in a globe and turn the switch on the cord two clicks. It lights up! In my mind, I ponder the alliterative, Seuss-like concept of a “glowing globe”, even though I have no idea what pondering or alliterations are. Kids toys, educational or not, should not be difficult to adjust or operate. But this is 1989; Lincoln Logs give splinters and eerie rumors fly around about kids accidently killing themselves with Tinker Toys. This globe is no exception. It has an adjustable eyepiece attached to the globe’s arm, and the eyepiece takes all of the strength that can be mustered from scrawny, kid forearms to move. Carefully, I spin the globe and line the eyepiece up with any number of clear dots sprinkled across the continents and islands of Planet Earth. At every spot, I close my left eye and press the socket of my right eye into the eyepiece with enough force to leave circular indentions around my eye when I finally pulled away. For each spot, I peered through the eyepiece to see pictures of this part and that part of Planet Earth. Some pictures with people, some with animals, some with buildings, some with scenic nature shots, some with everything. Some things I recognized, and some were completely new.
Assumption and imagination are hard to tell apart as a kid, but I always assumed or imagined that the pictures inside the eyepiece of the different places on Planet Earth were all taken at the same time. I have no idea why I thought this, but it made a lot of sense to me at the time. I didn’t have a real adequate knowledge of the kind of coordination that would take among so many individuals, nor did I understand the intricacies of photography enough to determine otherwise. So as far as I was concerned, what I saw was a snapshot of the same moment, around the Planet Earth.
This idea haunts me to this day. Since childhood, I think I have thought in term of moments. I like to imagine those snapshots right now, across the hall, around the corner, on the other side of the world. Moments are different. Moments make histories, timelines, agendas, plans, calendars, and to do lists irrelevant. In fact, in terms of moments, those things almost seem funny, or at least ridiculously insignificant.
The haunting concept of the glowing globe moment has seeped its way into my approaches, philosophies, theologies, and ponderings and made itself at home amongst the clutter and confusion that’s accumulated there over the years.
It has made me a moment person.
A person for whom agendas, plans, and all of linear time take second stage to “the moment.” While it has its drawbacks (can only accurately remember about 10 important dates including holidays and birthdays, general confusion about time zones; specifically the changes between eastern time, pacific time, and central time, an inability to grapple with the concept of “falling back” or “springing forward”, and being perplexed enough about the sun rising in the east and setting in the west that I had to formulate a elaborate mnemonic device to remember it involving western movies and houses of prostitution in New Orleans; seriously), it also has its advantages.
Being a moment-person has made me aware of the potential value of what I do in any moment. I have an amazing choice each moment to establish what kind of moment it will be in the world when the snapshots are taken. I cannot afford to take a moment off. I have to be responsible with my parts of my moments and build my part of that moment with as much of what I think is good, and right, and hopeful.
So to all my moment-people—may we all do our best to treat each moment like it is important and worthy of being filled with the best things we know. Or in the oft-quoted words of a good friend; “Live. And Live Well. BREATHE. Breathe in and Breathe deeply. Be PRESENT. Do not be past. Do not be future. Be now.”

Monday, February 16, 2009

Who I Might Be -or- The sick feeling in your stomach from realizing that you are a part of the problem and the desperate prayer that might follow.

God help us.
I have not turned the other cheek; forgive me.
I have hated; forgive me.
I have commiserated on the side of injustice; forgive me.
I have innocent blood on my hands; forgive me.
I have chosen comfort and ease along with ignorance and indifference; forgive me.
I have kept food from hungry bellies; forgive me.
I have kept water from thirsty tongues; forgive me.
I have kept clothes off of naked backs; forgive me.
I have neglected and alienated; forgive me.
I have wrongfully accused and I have failed at forgiveness; forgive me.
I have chosen to be a foreigner to grace and an exile from dignity; forgive me.
I have robbed my brothers and sisters of their God-granted humanity; forgive me.
I have exploited the weak and robbed hope from the broken; forgive me.
God! My God! Have mercy on me! Teach me how to be a cheek-turner! Fill my heart with love! Let me stand strong against injustice! Wash the stains from my hands! Give me the strength to run from comfort, ease, ignorance, and indifference! Turn my loaves into bread for empty bellies! Turn my labors into deep wells of clean water! Wrap my closets-full around shivering shoulders! Bring the outsiders in! Forgiveness for all! Let me feel at home with grace and dignity! Lift up the chins of the beaten-down! Help me to find strength in weakness, joy in suffering, and hope in the very midst of our brokenness!
And as I struggle to become what I was created to be,
I hope you are as patient and merciful as they say.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kingdoms and Allegiances -or- Did I Ever Tell You That I Feel Upside Down When I'm Around You, Especially When You Keep Saying Those Things

I wonder why Your words seem so foreign and why my versions of you are so irrelevant and out of touch. I don’t understand why you would operate so upside-down. Your metaphors have been lost on me. You do not make sense in my world, and I am shocked to find that you still refuse to change your tactics.

You talk of sacrifice and carrying heavy loads.
We feed off of accumulation and comfort.
You talk of small things, like mustard seeds and pine nuts; as if they are big things, like mountains moving and great trees with eagles in them.
We upgrade often in a world where “the bigger the better.”
You talk of the end of the line, no time to be offended by those who cut.
We wait impatiently and find the fastest ways to the front.
You talk of growing down and being simple again.
We are fueled by upward mobility and clutter.
You talk of the worst seat in the house, and humility.
We like the front row and the praise that is well overdue.
You talk about dinners with the misfits and the sick.
We are concerned with our many appearances.
You talk of wayward sons, and grace too great.
We keep our meticulous records of wrong.
You talk as if five loaves and two fish could feed them all.
We seriously doubt it.
You say to lose everything.
We like to believe that that’s not really what you meant.

There is a yoke upon us, and much to pull.
Teach us to pull our share of the load.
Teach us to move our feet and bare our burden.
You have measured our shoulders and you have noted the curves of our backs.
We observe our custom-made yoke and we’re sure it won’t fit us well, we’re sure it births discomfort and pain.
We think you are mistaken if you think we are the type of people who will wander in the desert, or plant gardens while we live in exile, or beat swords into plowshares, or take joy in our suffering.
We are desperate to be proven wrong.

Monday, January 26, 2009

New words for an old blog –or- Bringing something back to life is a difficult task that one would be better off leaving alone

Defibrillators are violent machines. They are meant to surprise a human body into being alive again, like a scare cures hiccups or like how being thrown in the deep end of the swimming pool is supposedly better than swimming lessons.
This blog is dead. It is, as they say, “kaput.” The last time I wrote words on this blog I was a student, and these words you are reading now find me in very dire straights as a teacher of students. The turn around from “learner” to “learned” is laughably and awkwardly quick. So quick, in fact, that you should rightly read this as me explaining that I am still very much the person that I was when I wrote last, just with a steady paycheck and health insurance. Which are both sweet.
There are old friends and new friends whose conversation (both spoken and unspoken) I prey on. I eat up text messages and facebook exchanges in a mess of facial hair and juices, looking up from conversations with these people with the protective, slightly insane glare of the lion. I am natural geographic depictions of feeding predators, with a mouthful of printer ink, computer plastic, and bits of paper hanging from my mouth. I feed off of these conversations.
I haven’t eaten in a long time. I am emaciated. And that is clearly a metaphor.
So I’m going to kick up the soil a bit on this blog again, and see if I can’t grow some food for thought. Let’s talk again like we used to.
I’m going to rub the paddles together, ask everyone to clear away, and shock the hell out of this thing to see if it can breathe again. Don’t worry, I’ve seen it done in the movies and on daytime television. I’m an expert, and what I don’t know, Wikipedia can surely teach me.
If what I write seems to reek of crap to you, you are probably right. But just remember, Jesus Christ raised a human being from death, and one imagines that Lazarus was a bit ripe despite the creator of the universe’s best efforts. If Jesus could not fix the stench, you can most assuredly expect my resurrected writing to burn the sensitive nerves of your sinuses.
Read gently… this blog is surprised to be breathing again.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Consumer Study -or- Forcing You To Allow Me To View You Through the Tainted Lens of My Personal Worldview, In Ways That I Only Partly Understand

In effort to connect more with anyone who happens upon this blog from time to time, I have created I psychological profiling survey unique to how I understand and interpret the world. You will be asked to respond to each item by “commenting” to this post. The items are a series of metaphor-like statements or ideas for you to construct regarding your life and experiences. These are metaphors that I feel like I can categorize you with and better understand and judge you with. Completing this survey should be a little less than bothersome and a little more interesting than soccer, which probably isn’t saying much. This study is both longitudinal and highly valid. It can be used in court.

Is your life more like…
a) today’s heavyweight boxing bouts
b) mixed martial arts
c) an authentic Native American peace pipe smoking

Which wing sauce do you prefer:
a) mild
b) medium
c) hot
d) honey bar-b-q

If your life had to have a soundtrack, and that soundtrack had to be hip-hop, who would you want to do it:
a) T.I.
b) Mos Def
c) Eminem
d) 50 cent
e) Dead Prez
f) Jay Z
g) Snoop
h) A full orchestra covering 50 cent

Which United States President do you most relate to in your day to day life (personally rather than ideologically):
(choose any U.S. president, I call dibs on the late Gerald R. Ford)

If you had to live one character’s life in one specific t.v. show episode past or present, who would you choose, and what episode would it be?

If you had to live one character’s life in the episode of the Andy Griffith show where Opey kills the mother bird, who would you be:
a) Sheriff Andy Taylor
b) Opey
c) Aunt Bea
d) Barney

What is the last book you read, the last song you listened to, and the last t.v. show you watched?

What do you honestly think Jesus would do?

Thank you for your participation in this survey, hopefully, your responses will help us gear this blog more toward, or extremely against your natural persuasions. Either way, it could make things interesting.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hands, Faces, Feet, Skin, Asses and Elbows -or- There Are Reasons Why We Have These Things, and We Shouldn't Be Afraid to Use Them

When I played football in high school (I know what you’re thinking, but stick with me), we used to have to run a 400 meter lap within a certain time at the end of tough workouts with our position groups. Whenever the offensive line ran together, it was less running and more a mess of heavy breathing, jogging, and sweating. Or, as our coach described it, “When you guys run, it’s all asses and elbows flying around trying to make something happen!”

Our Story, the one that ranges from somewhere between before all of this and after all of this, is not a story of ideas and optical illusions. It is not puffs of smoke, well-placed mirrors, and Europe’s “the Final Countdown” blasting at unreasonable levels. We are made to believe, quite by accident, that this Story in invisible. That it’s main conflict, plot, and characters operate in some disconnected spectral and historical realm of which we encounter only as helpless observers or miserable victims. We are easily goaded into a faith of far-away-land and the sweet by-and-by—a faith of theologies and philosophies in important books, within important volumes, on important shelves, which are kept and dusted fairly regularly, but which are far too high for jokers of out stature to reach, and far too indecipherable for us to try to engage with.

This is not the case. Our Story is a story of people with skin on. Our Story is a story of dirt, feet, hands, and faces. Our Story is a story of asses and elbows, my friends. Asses and elbows. Our Story is about sweat and tears. Our story is about deep breaths and bowel movements. It is about blood and dirt and ashes.

Somehow, we turn the asses and elbows into pretty ponies and straight, shiny teeth. It’s not real.

We talk about poverty and the hurting lives of our neighbors and the purpose of the church and we spout sexy ideas, concise action points, and reasonable excuses. But where are our asses and elbows?

Our elbows are far from doing anything about it and our asses are planted squarely in our comfortably padded seats (whether those seats are desk chairs, couches, bicycle seats, leather captains chairs, or bar stools).

“It’s just not practical.” “The problem is bigger than anything I could do.”

The Story that so many of us claim is about dirty hands, sunburnt faces, feet kicking up dust, sweat-soaked skin, elbows flying and asses talking, walking, and carrying heavy loads.

We have disconnected this from ourselves over time, space, and out of ease. We put nothing behind the story in the here and now. No asses up and moving and certainly no real elbow grease.

Elbow grease might be a part of the problem.

What the hell is “elbow grease”? The elbow is far and away one of the creepiest parts of human anatomy. It has no feeling—no soul. You can pinch it until your fingers hurt and turn white, and it still gives no significant nerve firings of electrons to the brain to notify the collective being of Yourself that something bad is happening. Is the elbow that hard-ass, or is it arrogant and gritty to a fault, trying to prove a point to the rest of the body (particularly the sensitive areas like the small of the back and the eyeballs)? I’ve never been aware of any grease emanating from the elbow, and I’ve never even known the elbow to be an area of regular or common sweating. I think it should be mentioned that I’ve found grease ON my elbow, but never FROM my elbow. It should be noted that the grease ON my elbow is not “elbow grease,” but rather various types of chicken grease, car grease, French fry grease, chili grease, and bean-n-cheese taco grease.

For me, this highlights a problem. We talk about this non-existent, false substance “elbow grease” when it comes to putting some work into something. We must apply this false “elbow grease” to get some difficult things done. “Elbow grease” is the metaphor that we choose to apply to putting in serious work.

Maybe the fuzziness of this metaphor is what keeps us from doing anything about the Story now. Maybe we should be more explicit, and use a more direct metaphor. Maybe we should say that we need to apply our hands, feet, and asses to the work of the Kingdom. Maybe we should just say that we need to get up off of our asses and be the Kingdom, without excuse or false reasoning.

Let’s get up off of our asses and follow Christ. Not meet up with Him when it’s time to get into Heaven, but follow him through the slums and the back country. Follow him into the houses and hospitals. It will be messy. It will not always be easy or pretty. But that is our story. In our following, we have and will be “all asses and elbows.”

Let us go into the world. Let us kick up dust as we walk. Let us get dirt on our hands and sweat on our backs. Let us know the taste of dust in our mouths and hands touching hands, faces looking into faces. Let us walk wildly into that world and let people look at us, criticizing the vigor with which we walk. Let them say, “they’re all asses and elbows.”

Our story demands that we do things all wrong, that we walk into the places that need it most, even when it is hard and heavy to do so.

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