AND WE’RE BAAAACK!
Return travel from The Netherlands couldn’t have gone more smoothly. Taxis to the airport were prompt. Flights ran on time with the only small hiccup being the intermittent sound on the one channel that showed The Bourne Identity. If that’s the only problem when getting thirteen folks some 4,000 miles over a 16-hour period, then obviously there weren’t any problems.
So, faithful patrons of The Diner, while I only opened the store about once a week in July, I expect to be back with normal business hours beginning today. And, truth be told, I’m glad to see your faces again…pouring the coffee, setting up the chairs, listening to the chatter. Good to be home.
And, there’s lots to talk about. I’ll be all over the map today, but, hey, gotta start the “dog days of August” by shaking out the notebook. Really. To me, this outlet is what keeps me from having to keep a therapist on retainer…and today I have lots on my mind. Don’t worry. I made LOTS of coffee. Stay a while, okay?
Keep In Touch With The Dutch
If you want a full-blown account of the mission trip, click the link on the left column for the mission trip. Some of the teens our teens met were influenced greatly and made comments after it was over…and it reminded me of the big picture.
I have no idea how it works, I just know that it does. On the flight back from Holland we were “with the daylight” for a long time, and I know that it was more than just the associated travel/trip stuff. I felt (and still feel) like I’m in a state of hoobey goobey (one of my college friends used that term for that overall feeling of being “out of it” that you can’t really describe–and it’s the best words for it I’ve heard. As you can see, I still use it. What’s funny is that people tend to understand it).
Thoughts on The Middle East
I have no idea of what it’s like to be on either side of the issues. Frankly, I’m not even sure what the issues are, exactly. Rockets go one way. Rockets go another. Buildings explode. This side says “they did it.” The other side says, “we wouldn’t have done it if they didn’t start it.” It’s beyond my ability to understand and it’s certainly difficult to choose a side–if that’s even necessary.
But I know that no matter where it is or what circumstances are around it, when I see photos like the ones found on CNN.Com today, well, they broke my heart. (Many were reprinted in today’s Dallas Morning News. If you want to see them, simply go to cnn.com, click on the Gallery: Qana, but I don’t want you to be forced to look so I didn’t post them myself.)
I know my emotions are a bit fragile these days. The circumstances around my mom’s passing away, in addition to the reality of my mom passing away, the two weeks of not seeing anyone in my family, the circadian rhythm thing, etc…but seeing some of these photos over coffee first-thing just highlighted that I want this to stop. The rest of the photos I saw through fish eyes of tears. But I don’t think the tears had much to do with my fragile emotional state. I think it’s because I’m a human being.
For those of you unfamiliar with the passion of college football in the Southeastern Conference, well, every year, in addition to the ups and downs of the season itself, there’s recruiting coverage of high school guys, stories of spring practices and games, and then there’s the news around each school: This guy got arrested for drugs, this guy got kicked off the team for grades, this school is under NCAA investigation, etc.
Well, my beloved Auburn Tigers are under a bit of scrutiny this year. Seems like a sociology professor has come out saying that some football players were loading up on some sociology classes as electives. Apparently, another sociology teacher got the department chair and this guy wanted the job and didn’t get it, so he’s slinging mud against the new department chair saying that some football players were taking his “easy courses” to get their grades up.
But, let me see if I got this right, okay?
At a state-school football factory, no NCAA violations were made (some 500 students took the class during the time in question–over a year–and some 30 were football players) public, and players used electives to get their grades up?
First of all, how is that news?
Secondly, it reminded me of my own university experience. My mom would bark about my sub-par grades one quarter (usually around a 2.4 on a 4.0 scale) and so the next quarter’s schedule I’d keep the three regualar classes, drop one of the tougher ones (to take it next quarter), and pick up classes like:
1) Mate Selection. It was a sociology course taught by a Methodist minister. All sorts of statistics on marriage and divorce and the causes and effects. I made an “A” which might explain Tracy being in my life 20 years later.
2) Educational Media. How to use filmstrips, movies and video to teach in classroom settings. This was before computers.
3) Golf and bowling. These were P.E. classes designed for future coaches. This didn’t stop us…but I made a “B” in golf. The final was kinda hard because it involved having to actually hit the golf balls onto the greens & fairways from various places on the course. Freakin’ professionals have trouble with that.
4) Psychological Aspects of Sexual Behavior. Everybody called it “honeymoon 101.” ‘Nuff said.
5) Wilderness Skills. This was an R.O.T.C. course that was basically how to hunt and fish and make a campsite in various conditions. The final was making a campsite and camping out over the weekend. It was one of the college’s most notorious parties each and every spring.
You got the “A” and the grades up and the mom off your back for three months.
In their case, they get the “A” and get to stay academically eligible to play football next season.
College students taking easy courses to get their grades up? Oh, the horror! Oh, the scandal!
Again…how is this news?
If The Shoe Fits…
Several folks, knowing I’m a big fan of Donald Miller’s writings, clued me in to a Dallas Morning News article in the saturday’s “Religion” section on an older book her wrote titled Blue Like Jazz. You can read the article entitled Soulful Notes.
Some were highly critical of the author’s approach. He didn’t seem too ruffled by the negativity towards him, calling them more of a misunderstanding than anything else. But he’s a published author so he’s likley used to good and bad stuff being said about his work–and has learned to keep from getting too up or down.
I also re-posted some thoughts my very good friend Kristen placed on her blog regarding an article in Christianity today and how Americans tend to have a consumer-driven manner in their Christian life. Since I posted Kristen’s comments in their entirety it included her thoughts on the article, too. I thought it would be a fun discussion.
It was, until a couple of quotes were a little too over the top in one case and got a little personal in another. I titled the post “Why I Like My Friend Kristen” because she’s one of my favorite people in the world. She’s passionate. She’s an exquisite & beautiful person. She’s a devoted wife & a loving mother. She inspires me with her bold steps of faith. Last but not least, she’s a very dear sister in Christ. I didn’t expect everybody to agree with her posts, but c’mon. She’s not “biblically evil” (a quote from another blog) or anything else other than dear friend who I happen to love.
And, I too, have been personally (and somewhat viciuosly) attacked from time to time: I’ve been called a bad parent, a lousy minister, and even been accused of attending the University of Alabama (the deepest of cuts, mind you). But hey, I’m a big boy and it comes with the minsitry territory.
But, if you’re so inclined towards destructive conversation rather than loving (even if passionate) dialogue, lemme give you a couple of quotes to think about:
First, from my good friends and noted “Christian” band (in my top 5 bands of all-time, by the way) Lost and Found, from their song, “The Kingdom”:
THE KINGDOM’S BIG ENOUGH FOR YOU
YOU WERE MADE TO BE HERE TOO
THE KINGDOM’S BIG ENOUGH FOR YOU
WHERE YOU ARE AS YOU ARE
So many people pushed away
Ones that are loved told they can’t stay
The question is what would Jesus say?
God’s own people close the door
The loud and the angry take the floor
We know what you fear But what are you for?
The second, fromt the guy who signed my degree from seminary, Chuck Swindoll:
“Too many folks are being turned off by a twisted concept of the Christian life. Instead of offering a winsome and contagious, sensible and achievable invitation of hope and cheer through the sheer power of Christ, more people than ever are projecting a grim-faced caricature of relgion-on-demand. I find it tragic that religious kill-joys have almost succeeded in taking the freedom and fun out of faith. People need to know that there is more to the Christian life than deep frowns, pointing fingers and unrealistic expectations. Harrassment has had the floor long enough.”
Please remember that The Diner has all sorts of visitors…some of a life of faith, some seeking, some have their own reasons for not believing what I believe…the whole gang is welcome. But remember, believers, others are watching.
Let’s play nice out there and major in the majors and minor in the minors. So, if I happen to like Donald Miller (even though I’ve never met him, I’d love having him be the keynote speaker at our winter Bible conference), Anne Lamott, Kristen, Hollywood, beer-drinking Dutch believers who offer beer at every Bible study (no, I didn’t take one, just in case you were worried…but it’s because I don’t like beer), democrats, and/or a host of others who aren’t like me…
…the Kingdom is big enough and roomy enough for all of us. So, let’s enjoy passionate discussion without name-calling and false interpretations and heated attacks of straw-men. This is supposed to be a fun and enjoyable outlet…not one where attacks (mostly over things the writer didn’t say, by the way) on personalities who are different than yours (and you don’t like, which is oh so obvious) rule the day.
So, if the shoe fits…
I feel as if the weight of the world is off my shoulders for a bit. One more day where I don’t have to pay a therapist.
And, thanks for coming back day after day…even if my attendance has been spotty at best as of late.
It’s nice to be back.