Gerald Posner Was Right
The case really is closed.
The conspiracy theories are still more fun, though.
Gerald Posner Was Right
The case really is closed.
The conspiracy theories are still more fun, though.
What A Week I’ll Have
I’ve walked the dog…who has since gone back to bed.
I’m sitting in my recliner.
I’ve got a cup of coffee.
I’ve flipped through the Dallas Morning News.
I’ve spent some time reading the Bible.
No one else is up yet.
But they will be.
And this week is one of the busiest we have in our home.
See, it’s “tech week” for my youngest daughter’s recital. The big year-ending performance is Friday and Saturday…and since she’s in a whole bunch of dances, with modern and jazz and ballet and the whole deal, she’ll be be up at the recital location working on final dance rehearsals, where to stand, change areas and the like. It takes loads of work. She’ll be gone–requiring Tracy’s presence as well–pretty much from 9AM until 9PM. The performance is on Friday night.
And, it’s “Juarez week” for me and my oldest daughter. This year over 130 people will be going to build homes for the less-fortunate in Juarez, Mexico…and it’s a logistics nightmare. Hotel rooms for advance teams, main teams, bus companies, van rentals, water (which weight 8.1 pounds per gallon and we’ll need well over 1000 gallons), trailers, tents, camp benches…not to mention paperwork to cross the border which all has to be signed and notarized and all that jazz. The advance team leaves on Saturday morning, and the main team on Sunday.
And, I’ll be performing a wedding immediately upon my return.
So, I’ll be busy. We’ll be busy. But it’s a “good” busy.
But, I think I’ll stay here in my recliner a bit longer.
And sip my coffee slowly.
Because once I get up…
…it all starts.
I Must Be A Gracker
“Grups” is the newest term for trend-setting 30-somethings. The author borrowed the term from the old Star Trek television show where the Enterprise crew finds a planet of children. Apparently, the adults died from a virus that greatly slowed the aging process and kill anyone who grew up. The children called Captain Kirk a “grup”…which is simply a contraction for “grown-up.”
So, the article talked about how this generation of 30-somethings is re-defining adulthood, and kind of erasing any generation gap that might exist.
The best line in the article is “This is an obituary for the generation gap. It is a story about 40-year-old men and women who look, talk, act, and dress like people who are 22 years old. It’s not about a fad but about a phenonmenon that looks to be permanent.” There’s another good line about crossing a portal when you become an adult that uses a Biblical reference about putting away childish things and how they tend to ignore it.
In reality, this is nothing new. Yuppies in the 80’s did the same thing, they just spent money on lavish things…but it was still a “Peter Pan” syndrome kind of thing. Hippies in the 60’s were really kicking against societal norms to avoid becoming a part of them. I’m a card carrying GenX-er and our version was labeled “slacking.” (I, however, maintain it was anything but slacking–but I digress)
The article is funny, like when it talks about playing the hippest music in the house for the 2-year-old because, “let’s face it, 2-year-olds have lousy taste in music, and we will NOT listen to the Wiggles in this house!” There are also references to wearing sneakers everywhere all the time and turning down promotions because it’s “just another word for slavery.” The article also highlights the blue jean-driven fashion…when you can add anything from an Armani blazer to a concert shirt to it.
In fact, they look like this:
See it’s sort of a “bourgeois bohemian” thing with a youthful attitude…and good jobs.
And there was so much I identified with.
Like sneakers. I would add Doc Martens and a pair of Birkenstocks to the mix. I’m big on comfort, of which suits most certainly are not. Now, I don’t like the “ongoing rock-starification of America” where we don’t shave for three days or whatever because we want to say to the world that we can do whatever we want because we’re successful and we’re sticking it to the man…but that’s just personal preference.
Like the relationship with your children being one of respecting their personhood and using your influence to enjoy them while shaping them, too. And appreciating your parents, too. The intergenerational relationship aspect deeply appeals to me.
And looking at your job as what it is: A job. There’s life to be lived, and that axiom, “If you want to motivate a Baby Boomer, give him a bonus check. If you want to motivate a GenX-er, give him the day off.” couldn’t be more true. Pursuing life is more than having a career. I don’t want the corner office or fancy title, either. Another good line from the author: “No thanks. You can keep your carrot and your stick.”
And loving your children and spending time with them. A good line: “Here’s the bad news about kids: They’re not cool. Especially little kids. Like 2 year-olds? Forget it. Left to their own devices, they don’t dress well, they have no sense of style, and frankly their musical tastes [stinks].” (edit mine) But then the folks intereviewed talk about it isn’t time to tell the kids to “turn that garbage down” but rather listen with them and discuss things, or taking up skateboarding with them. The idea was getting to know them and let them discover who they are and let them see who you are. It’s about a loving, understanding relationship.
So, yeah. I relate to the Grups…but not quite.
See, I like to think I live by intent. Lemme explain.
I’m not trying to be cool or hip or trendy with my clothes. They’re not much of a statement one way or another. I wear jeans and t-shirts with generic button down overshirt (only the bottom button buttoned, though) and sneakers (or Birks or Docs) because they’re comfortable. I’m really that simple. I watched my grandfather come home from his corporate VP world every Friday and change out of his suit into some khaki’s and a button down. It was very Mr. Rogers. He only wore sneakers when he washed the car on Saturday. That, and shining shoes, never appealed to me at all. But my clothes aren’t a statement. Sometimes, they’re just your clothes…and if the jeans have a hole in ’em…well…much more better.
And about parenting: See, I see children as a blessing from the Lord. I am also aware that I’m supposed to raise a child in the way THEY should go. This involves two main points: First and foremost, I do want very much to enjoy my children. To laugh with them. To be involved in the things they’re involved in. To chat with them. All that stuff is terribly enjoyable, from muppets to Dr. Suess to hearing their thoughts on democracy they parrot from their middle school teachers. I’ve never had problems understanding how God has blessed me with them nor enjoying them.
Secondly, there is a way they are supposed to go. God designed them with something in mind and it’s my role to help them figure out what that is…and then have the grace to step aside and let them pursue Him and that particular way. I’ve always viewed parenting at a temporary stewardship, which will have an end point and then I get my wife back. This would require that I get to know them as people and become an avid student of what makes them tick. There lie the clues in the way they’re supposed to go. Along the way I let them in on who I am, too. I’m finding that the teen years don’t have to be this angst-filled rebellious phase where we don’t understand each other…but rather an enjoyable time to get to know them as they develop their own ideas about the world and make their faith their own.
And, about my career choices: I never bought into the corporate world because it wasn’t me. See, God built me with certain passions and gifts and talents. And people often ask me why I would want to spend all day every day with teenagers. The reality is that I ask them, “Why do you assume I have a choice?” See, I do what I do because it’s what God built me to do. Money was never a consideration (although as I push toward retirement that’ll surely be a statement I may re-think, eh?)…and it won’t be. But God built other people with passions for teaching, accounting, corporate presidencies, entrepreneurs, politics, etc. The kingdom is big enough for all of us and hey, if the corner offices and fancy titles slip into the equation, then more power to the corner offices and fancy titles. I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss them out of hand any more than I would pursue them…but it isn’t because of a disdain for them. It just isn’t me.
So, if that makes me a Grup, so be it.
Or a slacker, well, there you go.
Or a hybrid of such (Grupker?), then there we are.
But actually, I think think it makes me a follower of Christ, striving for authenticity and walking a journey that gives me freedom to be who He created me to be.
And all of a sudden, I wonder what the author would write about me and the many many folks I know doing the same thing, and what he’d call us.
Holiday Mind Vitamin
As a service to our patrons, those of us in management at The Diner often put little “mind vitamins” on the tables for you to dig in and do some deep-thinking.
Yes, I know it’s a holiday weekend.
But, hey, you’re here. I’m here. Let’s have coffee. Let’s chat, you and I.
And the mind vitamin comes from the good folks at Criswell College. It’s a Southern Baptist Bible school connected loosely with First Baptist of Dallas–a historically influential church in SBC circles. They have a quarterly academic journal (as do most grad schools)…and in the most recent one they interviewed Brian D. McLaren, one of the more prominent thinkers regarding the state/future of the Church. You can get the full article here. It’s 8 small pages or so.
So, here are the little thought-provokers. So feel free to comment away and get dialogue happenin’:
[When asked about “deficiencies in the church”]: “One of my deepest concerns, because I do a lot of international work, is that here in America our churches have so identified themselves with American nationalism, and especially with a certain neoconservative ethos in the Republican Party. That kind of partisan alliance is dangerous, I believe. It puts us in the tradition of being a “civil religion” much like mainline Protestantism was in the first two-thirds of the twentieth century.
Civil religions lose their prophetic voice. As a result, for many people—especially young people and highly educated people the word “Jesus” now means things it shouldn’t mean: judgmental, angry, exclusive, unkind, lacking understanding, reactionary, violent, pro-war, anti-poor, and the like.”
[After being asked how Francis Schaeffer ministered to the first “post-moderns” in the 1960’s and how that approach would work today]:
(side note: Francis Schaeffer is highly influential in my spiritual development–college roomie Hollywood will remember that I had all of his books on the bookshelf and studied them constantly my last years of university–so I was particularly interested in his response. So, because I am, now you’ll have to be)
“I believe Francis Schaeffer was effective for a number of reasons.
First, he was brilliant and well-educated, and he used his God-given mind and education for the kingdom of God in a time when many evangelicals were shockingly anti-intellectual and reclusive.
Second, he listened. He listened deeply to people’s questions and tried to understand them. Closely related, he treated people with gentleness and respect. He didn’t call them names nor did he try to manipulate or coerce people. He was kind.
Third,he was conscious of worldviews. He gently, but firmly, helped people see the incoherence or inconsistency of their worldview, and he tried to show the coherence and beauty of a worldview centered on Christ.
Fourth, he loved culture. He appreciated the arts, and wasn’t one to insult (or censure) works of art that he didn’t agree with; rather, he took them seriously and used them to point out worthwhile things.
Sixth, he was much attuned to history. To return to an earlier question, he emphasized the narrative dimension. He sought—imperfectly, as we all do—to
understand Augustine or Aquinas or Kierkegaard or Sartre or Camus or Cage or whoever in light of their historical setting. This is good missiology, and I think these approaches are still very important today. In this way, I am very much Schaeffer’s disciple.” (side note: Hurray! Me, too!)
[On things young church leaders should be preparing for the future]:
“Here are a few, in no particular order:
1) What is a better alternative to either a) a private, personal spirituality unconnected to public life, and b) a public civil religion that compromises with
partisan politics (of either the right or the left)? How do we live out the kingdom in the public sphere, learning from the mistakes of recent decades and from Christian history over centuries?
2) How do we make real disciples? Why are so many of our church members so mean-spirited?
3) What does the gospel have to say about the global economy, about the growing gap between rich and poor, about stewardship of the environment, about the
growing threat of violence from both terrorists and anti-terrorists?
4) What new forms of church will be necessary to faithfully contain the ever-new wine of the Holy Spirit in our fast-changing world?
5) How can pastors sustain their own spiritual health in times of stress, change, and tension?
6) How can pastors develop friendships that sustain them in their spiritual disciplines?”
*takes sip of coffee, sits back, and waits for your thoughts…and thinks about how much he enjoys dialogue with you folks*
I’ve Been Summoned
So, Kristen wants me to do this little quiz. She even called me a good sport, so I’m guessing that I can’t let that combination of adjectives get away from me. Here goes:
1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, and find line 4. – On the 18th page, the 4th line says: “McBride once accompanied Oswald to his apartment, and there Lee ‘seemed quite proud’ to have library copies of Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto.“
2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. What can you touch? Nothing. I’m in my recliner in the den. If I really stretched far left I could touch the red chair.
3. What is the last thing you watched on TV? The Rangers baseball game last night when they hit a home run in the bottom of the 9th to beat Oakland.
4. Without looking, guess what time it is. 6:20 A.M.
5. Now look at the clock. What is the actual time? 6:27 a.m.
6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear? The ceiling fan in the kitchen, and the air conditioner just kicked on.
7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing? This morning. Taking Lloyd for his morning constitutional and picking up the newspaper.
8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at? The Dallas Morning News.
9. What are you wearing? Long pajama pants and a 2x t-shirt.
10. Did you dream last night? I’ve been told we always dream, but I don’t remember what it was.
11. When did you last laugh? With Tracy and Shelby as they were watching this TV show called “So You Think You Can Dance?” What’s apparent (and funny) is that there are people all over America who think they can dance that can’t.
12. What is on the walls of the room you are in? I’m color blind, but it’s some kind of light-rust color.
13. Seen anything weird lately? Yesterday, I was picking up my daughter from a swim party to celebrate the end of school, and in the neighborhood there were some high schoolers who must’ve been waiting in a driveway for their parents…and they were cheering like crazy at every car who drove by. It was definitely surreal to be being cheered on while driving the speed limit through a neighborhood…but I honked and waved back.
14. What do you think of this quiz? Whatever, man.
15. What is the last film you saw? Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy.
16. If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy? A newer house, but not necessarily a bigger one. A beach house in Gulf Shores and a condo in Colorado somewhere so I can ski in the winter.
17. Tell me something about you that I don’t know. I truly fear snakes and dentists. My new dentist is really good but I still don’t like people’s fingers in my mouth.
18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do? The mindset people have about followers of Christ, which would require that such folks actually follow Him earnestly and with passion.
19. Do you like to dance? Absolutely NOT. I loathe it.
20. George Bush: Struggling.
21. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her? I have two, but if I were to have another, her name would’ve been Sydney Alainna. With her last initial, we could’ve called her “Sam.”
22. Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him? Brooks (after the greatest third baseman of all time, Brooks Robinson) August (after the philosopher Francis August Schaeffer). With his last initial, we could’ve called him “Bam-Bam.”
23. Would you ever consider living abroad? Only in a place where English could get me by, but most definitely.
24. What do you want God to say to you when you reach the pearly gate? Well-done, good and faithful servant.
25. Four or Five people who must also do this quiz in THEIR journal: Nathan, Joye, Lori & Mish.
So, Today I’m Thinking…
…that Congress should never even have to consider passing a law that keeps people from PROTESTING AT MILITARY FUNERALS. You’ve got to be kidding me.
…that spending the afternoon at a major league baseball game is something that never gets old to me, even if the team loses.
…that people who think baseball is slow must never have decided to watch the last 4 minutes of an NBA playoff game.
…you can feel the vibe in the community’s air on the last day of school.
…that while I may have been involved in a senior prank in high school, it never hit my brain to lace muffins with marijuana and put them in the teacher’s lounge. 19 people went to the hospital thinking they were sick, and I hope they punish the teens who did it to the fullest extent of the law. So, I “get” senior pranks. This was a crime.
…that two people from Birmingham have won American Idol. At least that’s what the Birmingham papers were saying today. And apparently a third came in 2nd in one of the shows. That city must have some smokin’ karaoke.
…once you get into week 4 of a diet, it gets a little easier.
…that I’m wondering what kind of thought process I’ve developed when I watch the news and say, “Good, it’s only going up to 94 today.”
…that once again, my fear of technology has been overridden. DVR is a pretty nifty little invention. I fought it for the longest time…and now I’m digging it.
…that my wife cracks me up when watching the season finale of LOST. I don’t watch it, but at the end she was saying things like “Uh-uh” and “no way” at the end of the show. She’s into it and it’s pretty cute. Generally, I don’t talk to TV unless it involves an Auburn football game and the team needs my help.
…I’m reading another book about the JFK assasination. This makes 7. I haven’t solved it yet, but I’m getting closer.
…that teacher’s don’t get enough thanks.
…I’ve had three nights in a row at home after 7PM, and for some reason I can’t remember the last time that happened.
…Shelby’s dance recital stuff is coming up and now that she can do nothing but dance all day with no school responsibilities, she’ll be one happy camper.
…that it’s Kelsey’s last day of middle school. Ma Deb was right: “The days are long but the years are short.” Kelsey’s celebrating appropriately by going to a local eatery with friends upon early release. I hope they tip well.
…that the garage STILL needs to be cleaned out. I don’t understand why I let it get that way or why I loathe cleaning it.
…we’re taking over 130 people to Mexico to build homes for the homeless and I KNOW it’ll be all worth it when it’s over. But, the logistics of camping out and feeding/watering all those folks for a 5 days in-country are mind-boggling at the moment.
…I want to see “Over the Hedge” soon. I really do enjoy those kinds of cartoon/movies, and I haven’t even been to a theater since…well…I can’t remember the last movie I saw there.
…there are five weddings this summer of my former students. That’s really not too bad (sometimes it’s been higher), although I can’t attend them all, which bums me out.
…well, I gotta get to the office. There’s work to be done.
A Car Is Not A Toy, Young Man
The last day of school in our community is tomorrow. It’s a half-day deal, anyway. I mean, my kids have to have their lockers cleaned out today actually, with books turned in, even though there’s a final tomorrow. Whatever.
It seems to me that on those half-day final days there’s always one serious car wreck. I think it’s two years in a row there’s been a Medi-Flight Helicopter taking some newly summerfied teenager to get to a hospital more quickly for needed treatment.
So, a word of unsolicited advice:
Stick around for a few minutes. Say thanks to a teacher. Stop by and tell the coach how much you appreciated the extra hours. Sign a couple of yearbooks. Hug some friends. Sit in the parking lot with the trunk open and turn your music up loud until an administrator tells you to knock it off. Then knock it off, and thank them, too.
Just go slower. Smell the last roses of the school year.
Let the traffic clear out.
Then get in your car, put on your seatbelt, look both ways, check the mirrors, come to complete stops, obey the speed limit, obey the traffic laws…
…and get to your lunch
…or your swim party
…or your movie with friends
…or your celebration dinner with family
…but get to wherever it is that you’re wanting to be safely.
I really do know that I sound old and no fun and blah blah blah.
I’m okay with that.
Just don’t let the momentary rush that the end of the school year brings cause you to get a bout of stupid-head that keeps you from enjoying the day…even a fender-bender can ruin that.
I’m just tired of hearing helicopters and wondering if it might be for one of my CBC teenagers…or like last year when I drove by a mashed up car and caught myself wondering which teenger I knew drove a blue Mitsubishi…
So, you do your job and be young a fun and passionate and excited and all that. It’s a great feeling to be done with finals and get a break. You guys work hard all year in a competitive district and you really should enjoy the rest & relaxation.
And let me do my job and share with you the parent side of the equation.
Then you do your job and tell me I sound old.
But take the advice.
I promise you that you won’t regret it.
So, my friend Amy mentions that several times she’s stopped by The Diner and I’m prattling on about regrets I have and rarely (if ever) talk about the choices I made that I’m actually pleased I made.
So, here goes:
I’m glad that I married Tracy, that’s for sure. Proverbs says a lot about the value of choosing a good wife, and I don’t know that my diagnostic skills at that stage in my life were all that keen (it’s like I found a diamond that I was looking for, but didn’t know the value of diamond), but she’s definitely made me happy. I know guys who can’t say that.
I’m glad that I chose to go to Auburn University. I made great friends, had great times, and discovered who I was and what I was about there under the discipleship of my friend Charles (and who never swayed me off my dispensational background into his Covenant theology world despite MANY attempts). And Bo Jackson and Charles Barkley were there at that time so the sports were winning and therefore more fun. I made a C+ grades at a state-school football-factory, and deep down I don’t regret it.
I’m glad I chose Dallas Theological Seminary for my post-grad education. I’m not sure I’ll ever regret that. And I’m glad I worked hard and became so much more than a C+ student at a state-school football-factory.
I’m glad got my youth ministry stripes with Youth for Christ. There’s no better way to start your ministry than doing high school outreaches on public high school campuses…and the training YFC gives staff is top-drawer. It’s the ministry that had Billy Graham on their staff before he was “Billy Graham.” It was an honor to serve over five years at almost every local level with them.
I’m glad Tracy and I were sensitive to Him in stepping away from a very large ministry at a time when I was making lots of progress “up the ladder.” We learned so much about ourselves and our God and our faith in Him during that time.
I’m glad that I’m still doing youth ministry right here in the FlowerPlex, and I’m certainly glad to have come to Crossroads. Working for Tim Stevenson and doing ministry alongside him (and on this staff) has been one of the highest honors in my life…and I’d say that if he fired me tomorrow.
I’m glad that I fell in love with baseball at an early age…even if my new team seems to fall short of the playoffs every year, and my old team wins the division for a decade and a half but never wins the World Series.
I’m glad we got Lloyd. He’s a great dog…and I’m glad we had Buford, the greatest of all dogs before the demise. I’m glad we keep dogs in our house.
I’m glad I chose to get ordained because I get to do so many weddings even if I get all sappy about them.
I’m glad I’ve been to Amsterdam, New York City, the Rocky Mountains (in winter and summer), Disney World, Gulf Shores and San Francisco.
I’m glad we let Joshua and Kendra live with us for various stretches.
I’m glad we got a DVR.
I’m glad I like to read. Everything from Dr. Suess to Frances Schaeffer and anything and everything in-between.
I’m glad I dated my high school girlfriend. It was a great choice for a high school girlfriend…even if it wasn’t necessarily a great choice for a wife and even if the break-up took a while to get over.
I’m glad I joined a fraternity and roomed with Hollywood. It was definitely a good match in roommate choices.
I’m glad me and all my friends worked a couple of summers and weekends at Green Valley Country Club. I don’t remember all the hard work but I remember every funny thing that happens when you give 16 year olds the keys to golf carts, tractors, Cushmans and such and then leave them alone to water the greens at night.
And, I could do this all day, but I’m glad I’ve got a job to go to.
Breaking Fire Codes
Many of you might not have noticed because of the excellent service our staff routinely gives, but The Diner was more crowded yesterday than ever before…with readership at four times larger (not counting reloads or returning customers) than normal. Funny, we didn’t put a sign outside advertising any new specials.
And conversations were breaking out on all sorts of subjects: My daughter made a friendly wager with Hal regarding the longevity of musicians, Mike got left off the best friend list inadvertantly (and several others will be letting me know today I’m sure), and Bill & Dustin are already into “entropy” and Hume. I like when Dustin goes on breaks from teaching at Michigan because he has more time to stop by.
And those were just the comments.
So, we’re here to serve the coffee and social-minded among you…but if there’s a line outside or you have to wait a big longer for service, bear with us. We’re here to serve.
And we appreciate your patronage.