Friday, November 18, 2005

A word from Clive Staples

All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you
I've never had a selfless thought since I was born
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through
I want God, you, all friends merely to serve my turn

Peace, reassurance, pleasure are the goals I seek
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin
I talk of love, a scholar's parrot may talk Greek
but, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin

Whenever I read great men of God who seemed to struggle in similar ways with their faithwalk, I'm encouraged. I say, hey, if Peter can fall apart under pressure, if Paul can struggle to do the right thing even when he wants to, if CS Lewis can admit to being self-serving above all else, I think maybe, just maybe I might have a shot at this thing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Don't Stuff the Dog

Angie Ward might have kind of killed the metaphor in this article, but her advice to the church about not stuffing the dog is timely and right on. Basically, it's a piece about not holding onto outdated programs and practices that have become beloved "pets" of the church. She asserts that holding on too long might not only prevent people from moving forward, but might actually break trust and drive new people away. It's a message that needs to be heard in the church. Even better, she quotes Alan Alda. You can't go wrong with Hawkeye.

One thing she doesn't cover though is being the member rather than the leader who recognizes the dead dog and can do nothing to remove it because the leader still holds onto his pet. Maybe this touches on Phil's loyal radicals, but how do we operate as the member who sees the program or practice as well past its time, while we are not in the decision making position to remove it or change it?

Friday, November 11, 2005


Ok, so I've been doing some card shopping lately for various events and have noticed a new collection in the greeting card section. I don't actually know how new it is. I just know I hadn't seen it before about 2 months ago. It's called Mahogany and it's a Hallmark collection of cards. The collection targets African-Americans and features images geared toward that population.

For a while now, I've considered myself or at least strived to be, as Bart Campolo puts it, a white person who "gets it" for people of color--someone who is still willing to admit and point out the racism that still exists in America; someone who doesn't say the stupid things that get us nowhere in terms of reconciliation and the righting of wrongs like "some of my best friends are black;" someone who is interested in African-American culture without "trying to be black;" someone who doesn't try to be "color blind" because that's a stupid notion. Race is real and we need to be aware of similarities and differences between us, not blind to them.

So I have to admit that I'm disappointed with myself for my lack of sensitivity to people of color in such a simple area as greeting cards. I, as a white person, have never had to look through rows and rows of cards and see no images of anyone that resembles me. Ok, so I don't really look like those oiled up muscle bound guys on the front of some cards, but I'm the same skin tone as he is, if that's the only similarity between us. Before seeing this Mahogany collection, I never found it offensive that all of the handdrawn cartoon cards look something like this one. For white people in America, we can walk through our daily lives and not think about race. For people of color, something as inane as buying a birthday card can hardly NOT be about race.

So here's the thing, though. I'm not sure The Mahogany Collection is the answer. To Hallmark's credit, they came up with a decent sounding name for the collection. They didn't call it "The Back of the Bus" collection and they place the cards in and among all of the others, but I can't help but think that it might be a better step if we didn't have segregation in the card section.

It's kind of like that phenomenon in sports where people feel the need to say, "Donovan McNabb, the black quarterback" or "Tony Dungy is one of the best African-American coaches we have." Finally, there is some sensitivity where people have just started to refer to these guys by their names, but it still carries on for some like Fisher DeBerry and Joe Pa.

Wouldn't it be better if Hallmark didn't feel the need to point it out so blatantly? It's funny they never seemed to point it out while they've only had cards depicting white people for the last 100 years. 40 years after MLK, decades after Jim Crow, nearly a century and a half after the emancipation proclamation, couldn't they just start to make cards with images of people from various races and sprinkle them in among the other cards and not tag them as Mahogany? I don't know if it's marketing or if they think they're doing something right, but by euphemizing race you're not subtracting it. What would people say if the little card tabs in the store said, "Cards for black people?"

I chose the birthday card at the top because of its subtlety. I would buy that card for any woman I know who was "born to flourish and to dance beneath the sun." I don't really need someone to tell me whether the image is appropriate for my purposes or not. On the other hand, the Forster Family Christmas card probably won't look like this one. Give the consumer some credit to decide which cards do and do not make sense.

So good for Hallmark that they've seen the error of their ways, but hopefully this collection will fade into the rainbow of the card section instead of sticking out. And by the way, I noticed there is not Asian collection, no Latino collection, no Pacific Islander collection. I shudder to think of the names they might come up with for all of those collections.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I knew there was a reason I liked IBC

Sometimes the best beer is a root beer. Perhaps the best argument I've yet seen for abstaining from alcohol. Check out this IBC Ad.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Gotta Go

I have lots of stuff I'm planning to post, actually some of it is sitting in my post list as drafts right now. I just have to put it all together before posting and have no time, so in the meantime, I thought I'd throw props to Jocelyn, who is putting up some really great stuff and getting no comments, and so I fear, few visitors. Go see what she has to say about how Normal is the New Beautiful or Google, NPR and Jazz.

Also if you haven't heard Phil Laeger's news yet, go to his blog.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A way unexpected surprise

Yesterday morning, I heard a rumor that there might be some tickets to the Colts-Patriots game coming toward our building later in the day.

At about 3 in the afternoon not having heard anything further, I went to go investigate what had become of the tickets. A pure dumb luck situation of being in the right place at the right time and 15 minutes later, I was holding several tickets to the game, 2 of which were for Jen and me to go.

We all know what happened in the game. It was much as everyone expected, the Pats got killed. But even for those of us who had been bracing ourselves for a loss, they lost the game in a very difficult fashion, completely unable to stop the Colts on defense at all.

But who cares? We got to go on a perfect November night and sit in some very nice corner end zone seats. Many of the people in our group had never been to an NFL game. It was a lot of fun. From the perspective we had, you could really see the plays open up, see recievers come open. Unfortunately too many of them were wearing white jerseys.

Gillette is a great place to watch a game. They did everything right when they built that place. It will stand up as one of the best stadiums in the league for a long time. They've added screens inside the lighthouse at the front end of the stadium and make good use of the addition, flying the stars and stripes at the beginning of the game, showing FLAG on a yellow background when there's a penalty on a play, etc.

Brady had a solid night and you really can't take anything away from the offense. Unfortunately, the defense couldn't take anything away from Indy, including the ball on several 3rd downs completed for firsts.

We live 15 minutes from the stadium. We left the game shortly before midnight, so we got home at 10 after 1. It's crazy.

It was really fun to be out with Jen who is usually pushing me out of the chapel door to ensure that we make it home for kickoff. We've had a busy month or so and it won't stop anytime soon, so it was a great opportunity to be together doing something we both love that we never expected to have the chance to do. Especially not until 3pm yesterday.

Monday, November 07, 2005

David Crowder Rocks my Sox

Went to see David Crowder Band last night at the Worcester Palladium. Palladium, by the way, is Greek for "dumpy old theater that is crumbling around and on top of concertgoers at rock shows." It hosts a diverse range of music. Tonight: Slipknot. Grab your dog collar and head on down!

We were up in the balcony. I sat between two busted out seats without bottoms on my left and their friend on my right. The ticket cost $19. I shudder to think what it would have cost if they painted the place. Didn't care too much for the openers: Robbie Seay Band (as in "say what?" I understood only one word of his set: mystery) and Shane and Shane. Surprisingly 5 guys came out on stage. I know a lot of people like these guys. I know this because people were screaming when they played the first lick of many songs, but I was a little bored. Again, couldn't understand too many lyrics, but they kind of have one move--acoustic strumming overlaid by soaring vocals held out for at least 8 beats. Oh yeah and the one Shane looked like he was waiting for a bus--work jacket with hooded sweatshirt sticking out the back and a baseball cap. He must have been sweating up a storm.

But Crowder did not disappoint. This is the third time I've seem him live (why do people say that? Could I have seen him on video or some kind of satelite uplink? If I had, would you care?). Anyway, he just puts on a great show. Here are the top 7 reasons why: 1. His music rocks--it's different from just about anyone else out there right now, the blend of acoustic and electric guitars, the electronica, simple but profound lyrics. 2. His energy. He really doesn't stop moving the whole show, and all the while on these crazy skinny legs. 3. There is No One Like You. Enough said. 4. The way he says, "You feel like doing some group singing?" Like we're all sitting around a campfire or something. 5. He's funny. His shows are always fun and his song intros are funny, not insipid. He regularly incites the crowd to sing loudly and badly. 6. He played the keytar. On two songs in the middle of his set, Crowder rocked out on a red keytar. He was quick to dismiss the naysayers by explaining "we are professionals, serious musicians. We only use real instruments. This keytar thing. I think it's big. It's really the future. It's where everything's going." 7. I had an experience of the presence of God. It never fails with Crowder. I really get the impression that he's real and that he honestly wants to honor God with his music. I have experienced God in a powerful way at every one of his shows.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Camo Convertible

Ok, this I don't get. I know, I know it's a fashion statement and I shouldn't think about it quite so much, but why in the world does she have a camoflauge convertible top? Is she planning to go on maneuvers in her Chrysler? Maybe she's a hunter and she's too lazy to hike into the woods. I guess a car would make a much more comfortable tree stand. I mean, you could listen to the radio while you wait to kill helpless animals. You'd have cupholders and maybe even seat warmers.

Maybe it's supposed to be a joke on droptops period. Get it? You can't tell if the top is up or down because it's camo. She could have at least put this top on a black car, or at least on a car that was a color green that might find its way into camoflauge, but to put it on an emerald green car is an insult to camo convertibles everywhere.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


I sometimes have to laugh at names of businesses and this one is really funny. I was driving down the road the other day and saw this bus. Note the name of the bus company. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be that enthusiastic about riding with the Lamers bus company. I mean, what does that say about me? Give me Greyhound or Fung Wah, but not Lamers.