Sunday, May 28, 2006
This is Wilfred Owen (1893-1918). He is known as a poet of World War I, and he died at the end of this terrible war. He was raised in an Anglican home, but abandoned much of his faith as a young man.
Tomorrow is Memorial Day. We have much to remember and much to give thanks for on this day. While browsing through the poetry of Owen, I came upon the poem below. While I find the theology flawed, it illustrates for me how we blame God for troubles we create, and the striking pain caused by all of humanity upon one another over the span of history. I want to be more of a peacemaker.
I dreamed kind Jesus fouled the big-gun gears;
And caused a permanent stoppage in all bolts;
And buckled with a smile Mausers and Colts;
And rusted bayonet with His tears.
And there were no more bombs, of ours or Theirs,
Not even an old flint-lock, nor even a pikel.
But God was vexed, and gave all power to Michael;
And when I woke he'd seen to our repairs.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Disclaimer before I begin. White guys have really bad fashion sense. See here.
Over the past year or so, I have noticed a new fashion trend in the Asian community that I find completely hysterical. Beware the Sun Visor craze! I cannot help myself from laughing out loud every time I see a local woman (always women, never men) walking, biking, or even driving a car around town in one of these babies (photo to left). Apparently, there may some kind of creepy solar radiation occurring involving invisible little red lines coming from outer space, perhaps only visible when wearing a Sun Visor!
I did some fishing around, and found this lovely description of the sun visors from a Korean website. I love the use of English, very similar to the menu wording I have found in some great Chinese restaurants around town.
Transparent Sun Visor (Sun Cap) protects your face from UV (ultra-violet rays) of the Sun. It has the transparent (see-through) shade of cap. It can protects from UV until 93%. You can take down or raise the transparent shade of sun cap freely. When you take down the shade, it completely protect your face from ultra-violet rays with clear polycarbonate film. In this case you can see clearly as you put on sunglass. When you raise the shade, it is like other sun cap. Also it is very fashionable. Transparent sun cap is new and unique products worldwide.
Why did I not first think of this "new and unique products worldwide"? I could then be uniquely rich and famous everywhere worldwide all the time. In this case I could be sipping drink from coconut on some far away Micronesian Island while wearing Sun Visor which would be protecting my face from harmful ultraviolet Sun!
We white people are so pathetic. All we can come up with are things like this:
Saturday, May 20, 2006
What is wrong with us? I live in Southern California, a place where just about everything looks like it was built within the last 15 minutes. We are not big on history here.
And yet, history has a great deal to teach us. Including the saints of the church. My friend Tod has a great post on a technique of daily prayer, that I am going to look further into. This sounds wonderful.
Oh, that I might be more reflective in each day, rather than stupidly rushing forward.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Last week, in the dead of night, at the senior home where my Mom and Dad now live, Mom took a fall. She landed on the hip that she broke about six years ago, falling at the supermarket near their home - the last time she would ever go shopping. Someone came quickly to help her up. She is well cared for.
Mom has been using a walker for the past six years or so, and life has slowed down considerably for both she and Dad. Mom's doctor had her checked into the hospital the next day, and to our relief, there are no broken bones, but a bad and scary fall for her never the less. Mom is back at Sunrise now, but it either in too much pain, or too scared to try her walker again. She spends all day in bed, assisted to the restroom by caring workers - the hands and feet of Christ in a way, I think. She is eating well, but these events have a way of traumatizing her for weeks. She is not her usual self. She does say that she sleeps well; I find that a sure sign of God's grace.
And Dad is well, not a big help. In times like these he tends to get crabby and negative, and to complain that "its amateur hour around here" when he speaks of the care Mom is getting. That is not true, its hard to hear, and it brings up years worth of "issues" I have with my Dad. I told Dad yesterday that he needs to simply be more patient, and much more encouraging of Mom.
This has been an interesting week for me. At the core of it, I realize how self-concerned I am. The visits to the hospital, the ambulance ride back to Sunrise, the pain and fear Mom is experiencing, all make me ponder quite a bit about my own ending - hopefully many distant years from now. Will I live in fear? Will the promises and hope of my faith make a difference in my own heart and in the way I treat others? Do those things really matter in the way I behave now? What will my final passage be like?
I wake early in the mornings now, with thoughts of Mom's well being circling my brain. Why is this so?
The words of St Paul have taken on new meaning this past week. From 2 Corinthians 4:
7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
It is so. When we are young, we feel invincible. And, as we age, we begin to understand better, with each day, month, year, our own.....well, vincibility. This week, I have learned a bit more of what it feels to "carry around....the death of Jesus". I am glad for this, and thankful for the journey.
Rest well, Mom.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Its Mother's Day. I am thankful today for two women, my mom - who is 85 years old and recovering from a fall earlier this week, but with no broken bones. I am also thankful for my sweet wife Nancy, whose love has transformed my life, and brought grace, care, and joy to our family.
On this day, it is fitting to remember mom's in other places, who face nearly insurmountable odds. From the Friday edition of the Wall Street Journal, please read:
"The New Underground Railroad"
which tells the story of two women who fled North Korea and faces unbelievable journeys in China, finally finding their way to freedom in the US this past week. Please, take the time to read this rather long piece, you will be glad you did. Maybe we might leave this reading wondering how we, our country, can work to bring freedom to the people of North Korea.
For more images of North Korea, click on the photo above....
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
The email messages have been pouring in from those of you concerned about the pastor search process at our church. We had a momentary set back, as we determined that Pastor Robert White, was, well, dead. Cancer of the mouth, I understand. However we can now, again, take heart. There is hope!
These days, some folks are down on the future of the mainline denominations. To this I have but one reply....Don Lonie.
Apparently, not a lot of people are familiar with Don, but after he talked with teenagers, there was apparently sufficient demand for histalking, that he, well, talked again. Not only is Don good at talking, he sports a fine, yet conservative wardrobe. Finally, and most importantly, Don is a self-assured and confident balding man; a true mark of maturity and leadership potential. Rare is the Christian leader who does not need to expend his spiritual maturity on the growing of head hair.
If Don was asked to talk more that once, that is good enough for us! Count us in, Don. We will be in touch with you soon.
Monday, May 08, 2006
This afternoon I called my old buddy, Neal. Neal used to have a job in the real world. He also used to be a regular church-going layperson like me. Then he heard God's call, and went to seminary. Now, Neal is a pastor. Neal is keenly aware of the dysfunction within the church. I like Neal, he is cool.
Well ok, he is actually not cool. I mean, he is my age, for goodness sake - late 40s. His wardrobe is pathetic, just ask his daughters. Heck, just ask my daughters about MY wardrobe. It's near disaster condition! In our daughter's minds, Neal and I could double for the Festrunck Brothers.
Anyway, Neal is a great guy. Very smart, as we two agree on just about everything, except sports. Neal is unaware that sports exist, because he is too busy reading some theological tome, or spending time being with people. Pastoring. Neal needs to work on this. Less time with people, more time with the remote control, buddy!
During our conversation today, Neal related that he is concerned that the church often falls short in relating to the rest of the world. Can I get a giant Amen on that one? I was relating to Neal the story of how I recently mentioned our church website to a friend (also from my church), and he replied, "oh, you mean the high school bathroom web site?" I laughed very hard when I heard this. But later on, I felt more like crying.
And no, I won't link to it. You have to go find it for yourself. Once you get there, you will understand the comment. Guess what though?! I hear that the website is presently under reconstruction. Oh dear God, I hope so. We silly Christian folk. Why can't we be more relevant to the world that is watching us? And please don't freak out when I used the "r" word, thank you. I still believe in Jesus.
I had another smart pastor friend tell me something many years ago. He said something like, "You know, it takes the church about 5 years to decide if a new technology or idea is not Satanic, and then, once its decides its ok, the new thing is now out of date." I need another Amen!
And then, Neal reminded me of a great web site that addresses just this issue. I may put in for this web site to be cannonized.
That is all.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Tell me something. When you woke up this morning, did you roll over, look out the window and start thinking about what day it was, what you needed to get done, or that little thing that needing doing that you sort of dread taking care of? Did today feel like an annoyance, or an opportunity?
Or did you stop for a brief moment, and wonder, even if a bit slightly, at the mystery of your life, and how you came to be in this place, at this time, in this spot? Did you think for a moment about Who made you, and what He might want to make of your day?
Did you wonder, and give thanks?
The photo to the right is of Marieke Dourdias, who passed away earlier this week here in our town.
Are there any lessons in a loss like this? We can only guess. As Paul said, as translated by Eugene Peterson....
"We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!"
I live in hope for that day. Continue to pray for the friends and family of Marieke.
Monday, May 01, 2006
You never know what to expect, living in LA. Today, a man from here came by our house, looking for a location to shoot a "family friendly" film. Turns out, this production company is controlled by these guys.
Now, if you want to feel like you have ingested too much medication, read this, a primer on Scientology theology.
So, what to do? Should we let these folks use our house for filming, and then take the money and give it to these guys? Do we tell them no thanks, we are Christian folk, and would prefer not to have Thetans in our home?
I am sorry, I am making fun. This really is all very sad, this Scientology thing. Very sad. What would you do?
My favorite line, from the Rolling Stone article:
In his 1983 autobiography, Over My Shoulder: Reflections on a Science Fiction Era, the sci-fi writer Lloyd Eshbach describes meeting Hubbard in the late 1940s. "I'd like to start a religion," Eshbach recalls Hubbard saying. "That's where the money is."