Thursday, April 27, 2006

draft number 127

Grace has been on my mind a lot this year. I’ve been asked to write on it, speak on it, and think on it. So I have. All three. Sometimes with surprising results.

You would think that grace would be easy to discuss. It’s what we, as Christians, have based our entire faith on. You’d think we would know quite a bit about it. But I find that my own understanding of grace, especially God’s grace, is quite limited.

Like anything about God’s character, I immediately base my understanding of it by what I see in my own life or in the lives around me. And, sadly, the grace that I offer is extremely limited. So, while I understand that God’s grace is bigger than mine, it’s hard to fathom it. I mean, just how much bigger is God’s grace? Ten times bigger? A hundred? A thousand? A million? And, even if I were to answer that question, what would it even mean to give a million times more grace than I give? What does that even look like?

I was actually asked to speak on grace at an engagement this past Monday night. As I was preparing for it over the weekend, I asked Jamie if there were any good Biblical stories of grace that I was leaving out. She mentioned David. And my immediate reaction was, no, I don’t want to talk about David because his great sin was adultery and I don’t want to give people a license to commit adultery. And, just as soon as those words came out of my mouth, I realized that I was not truly prepared to speak about the full measure of God’s grace.

The grace that God offers appears to me to be rather reckless. In fact, it seems quite irresponsible. If you were to offer me that same kind of grace, one of your friends would eventually pull you aside and warn you that you were being taken advantage of. That you were being walked on.

I was asked to write about grace, this past year, for what we’ll call an unnamed publication. I thought and thought about what to write about. In fact, I wrote several different drafts on several different topics. But one day I sat down and simply wrote about my own struggles. Specifically, my struggle with a certain position that the church takes on a particular topic. I was in no way saying that the church was wrong in their stance. Only that my heart struggled and grieved over it. In the end I finished up by asking the readers if they were prepared to extend to me the kind of grace I would need to wade through the topic and, hopefully, come out with a firm foundation on the other side. I’m guessing that the answer was no. Not only did the publication decide not to publish my article, but the person who asked me to write it was reprimanded by the editor for even submitting it for publication.

I grew up in a church that believed you could not lose your salvation, yet a Christian school that believed you could. I spent years trying to figure out which side was right. Along the way I came to realize that, even in the case of my church, the grace we were prepared to extend only went so far. For instance, if somebody claimed to be a believer, but then committed a sin that we deemed too big, we would simply explain it away by suggesting that the person had never truly been a Christian to begin with. Grace limited.

We are uncomfortable with grace. On one hand, we’re glad it exists because it’s what gives us a chance. On the other hand, we see it only extending as far as allowing us an initial forgiveness of sins but then forgiveness, from that point on, only as long as we’re prepared to be committed to a very specific lifestyle. You’re uncomfortable reading that and, believe me, I’m uncomfortable typing it because in the end, that’s what I believe too.

After twenty years of study on the topic of salvation and one’s ability to lose it, I’ve only come to a few decisions; One, I don’t know. I have no idea. I can argue both sides strongly and back up both sides with scripture. Paul, Peter, and James all seem to come at it from different angles and, possibly, with different opinions. So I don’t know. Two, I have a feeling that even those among us who offer the most grace will be surprised to see who God lets into heaven. In fact, it’s a good thing that we won’t know until we get to heaven because I could see it being quite scandalous if we knew about it on earth. I could see it being quite divisive. Kind of like the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16).

I don’t know quite where I’m going with this. I think that it might be an ongoing conversation. One thing’s for sure, if my faith isn’t even the size of a mustard seed compared to God’s, than the rest of my character probably isn’t either. What does that say about God’s grace? Just how reckless and irresponsible is it???

In reading over this, I think I need to try again.

Friday, April 21, 2006


For me, nostalgia has always been a beast. A big beast of sadness and depression. When I think back on something, nostalgically, I’m usually sad. And, the most interesting part is, I also look back on it through rose colored glasses. There’s a part of me that knows the truth, but my heart seems to remember everything about my past as having been the best time of my life.

And when it comes to nostalgia, there’s nothing that gets me more nostalgic than music. My wife is the same way. In fact, there’s certain music that she won’t allow me to put on her mp3 player because it will remind her too much of home. Amy Grant happens to be one of those artists. And she happens to be the artist that I was listening to today. Furthermore, I was listening to a song of hers called 1974, a song about she and her friends at a time when they were young and on fire for God. The song tells of an ambiguous event that took place in their lives that changed them forever. And, of course, I got to thinking back on those times in my own life, and the people who shared them with me.

When you move around as much as I’ve moved around, you make and leave a lot of friends along the way. As a ten year old, I moved 1200 miles from West Virginia (no jokes please) to Oklahoma. From the age of 18 to 27, I served in five different churches around the State of Oklahoma (don’t do the math, it will just depress you). Then, at the age of 27, my wife and I moved 1200 miles to Pittsburgh to work with The Salvation Army. And then, two and a half years ago, we moved to London to work with the Army here. And I’ve made some amazing friends along the way.

From my classmates in the Christian high school I attended, to the tiny youth group I was a part of, my teen years were surrounded by people who could easily be described by 1974. People who spurred me on, who sharpened me, who challenged me to set my spiritual standards higher. Those people meant the world to me. And still do.

Then came my twenties as I moved from church to church, trying to find a pastor and a group of deacons that I could get along with. I never really did find one (shocker), but I met and befriended people along the way who changed me. People who I admired so much that I took bits and pieces from their character and tried desperately (and am still trying) to emulate them in my own life. You people know who you are, AND YOU SHOULD BE WRITING YOUR OWN BLOGS (rick)!

During this time, two guys came into my life whom I still consider to be my brothers in the ministry. To this day, when people ask me, “if you could assemble any staff to start a church, who would they be?” I always answer with their names. These guys are WAY out of my league and, as I travelled with them, leading camps, retreats, etc. I knew that I was blessed to be teamed up with them. They are men of God and I admire and adore them both. They also happen to be true examples of guys who married way out of their league, but that’s another post. I love you both and I should be reading YOUR blogs, not the other way around.

Then came a group of young people who restored my faith in youth ministry. They made me believe again that, first of all, I still had something to offer and that, second of all, there were young people out there who were interested in more than just themselves. These young people are all at University now and I watch wide eyed at how God is moving in them. (this is a perfect example of looking at something through rose colored glasses because, though most of that paragraph is true, I also came close to committing group murder on many a hot July night…WE CAN ONLY HEAR ONE PERSON AT A TIME!!!) You guys are fearfully and wonderfully made. And God loves you just the way you are. : )

Each of these people, and places, and events, and groups have a song or artist associated with them. But I’m wondering, what yours are? What song takes you back to a specific place, or time or person? Please share as specifically as you’d like.

And in the meantime, I miss all you guys and leave you with the closing words of 1974 as a prayer…

Stay with me.
Make it ever new,
So time will not undo,
As the years go by,
How I need to see
That’s still me.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

scientology update

I say again, if you haven't checked out Rolling Stone's article on the church of scientology, please do! Unbelievable reading!

For even further reading on the "inner secrets of the church of scientology, check out Operation Clambake. A site packed with information from former members.

on music

A couple of things need to be said concerning music. First a question:

Who can tell me what band, or what song, was ripped off by the artist playing over on the right. The artist on the right is a band called Rock ‘N’ Roll Worship Circus and they’re playing a song called The Undiscovered. But the beginning is a very specific rip off of a very specific song. Props if you get it.

Second. I recently discovered an album called Urban Hymns by a 90’s band called The Verve. This band was massive over here (UK) in the 90’s, especially for a song called Bittersweet Symphony. Does anybody remember these guys? Bittersweet Symphony sounds familiar, but it may be because they play it over here all of the time. But I had definitely never heard the entire album before. GREAT album!

Third. The best rap album I’ve heard in a long, long time just came out within the past few weeks. Unfortunately, the album title is a drug reference and the mc’s name is so cheesy that I just can’t bare to type it. Seriously, how can rappers keep a straight face when telling the promoter, “uh yes, my name is Stone Cold Rapist and I’d like to do a show at your club.” Meanwhile, they still live with their mom or, even worse, are a millionaire living in the Hollywood hills but are still trying to project this “gangsta from the streets” image. Cheesy.

Finally. While the whole thing is kind of cool, it doesn’t really give a solid account of what I listen to throughout the week, only because I listen to a lot more music on my mp3 player than I do my computer. Still, my updated chart for last week is at the bottom of my right hand column. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

so what is this Christian thing all about?

I’m always surprised to hear from or about the people who read this blog. Who knew? It was meant only as a means of keeping family and friends up to speed on our work here in London, but somewhere along the way it turned into a forum. For better or for worse.

If you’ve read this blog long, you’ve probably seen a few fiery dialogues between Christians. There’s no doubt, different Christians, from different parts of the world, and different walks of life, often see life through different coloured lenses. And there’s no doubt that I often get irritated by Christians who, in my opinion, are sending a very wrong message about Jesus Christ and what it actually means to be a Christian. But, as I often say to non-believers who write me based on one of my posts, please don’t allow the mistakes of a few Christians to keep you from seeking God.

I’ve heard Easter explained by non Christians, more than once, as “the time when Christians remember the murder of Jesus Christ”. Well, that’s kind of true. But only kind of. Easter is actually when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Crazy, I know. The Son of God comes to earth in the form of man, lives here for 33 years, is captured and crucified, and then rises from the dead. It sounds a bit like a Greek tragedy. But we base those beliefs not only on what archaeologists and historians have discovered to be extremely accurate documents, but also on prophecy, written thousands of years before Jesus’ time, that predicted many of the events and specific actions that would take place in and through Jesus’ life. Make no mistake, in the end it’s about faith. But that faith is founded on evidence.

So what is this Christian thing all about?

Well let me say first that my own spiritual beliefs are based on the Bible, so if you don’t believe the Bible to be true or accurate, we’ll probably need to have that discussion first. But assuming that you’re open to the Bible, the Bible makes it clear that God hates sin. You’ve probably heard of the ten commandments. If you’ve never really paid much attention to the ten commandments, it would probably be easy to see them as a list of ten things you would do against God. What you might not know is that, six out of the ten commandments are actually “sins” that we might commit against each other. See, to God, the way we treat each other reflects on our love for Him, because he created each one of us. So when we “sin” against each other, we sin against God. Pretty crazy huh? Religion often paints this picture of a God who is sitting up there just waiting on you to do fun things so he can zap you. But the commandments are a very practical tool for a civilized society.

So here’s a God who, first of all, created man kind. Things were pretty easy at first but, as things often do when humans are in charge, things began to get a little out of control. So God gave us a very specific list of rules to abide by. These rules were meant to lay a foundation for how to live, part of that being how we should treat each other. But, as we all know, we’ve just not been able to keep these commandments. We lie to each other. Cheat each other. Steal from each other (in any number of ways). Kill each other (sometimes even in the name of God, absurd as that may be) and generally just do our best to mess up other people’s lives. And, in the midst of all of this, we also turn our back on God.

Now, lest I make Christianity sound like it’s only about how we treat others, let me just say that the other four commandments talk specifically about our devotion to God. We can talk all we want of tolerance, but in the end, God created us and the whole universe, and He expects us to worship Him and nothing else. That’s kind of a weird concept when you first think about it. God gets jealous? But here’s the thing, if God were to not get bent out of shape when we put other things before Him, He wouldn’t be God. It would be like God saying, “yeah, I’m kind of important, but not THAT important!” But He’s God, creator of the universe. The only one who sees the bigger picture. The only one who knows the future. He created you and me and continues to create every second. So He really is that important and really does have the right to demand our devotion.

So here’s the human race. We’ve been created. We’ve been given a structure of how to treat each other and stay devoted to God. But we just can’t do it. So, not only are we in danger of killing each other off, but we’re also in danger of being separated from God. See, God is perfect. Again, kind of a no brainer but it also flies right in the face of those who would suggest that there are no absolutes. But here’s the thing. If God created us, created the universe, and set the structure of how to live in place. Then there are absolutes. Absolutes that God created. I mean, if he created everything that exists, then he gets to create the rules and the absolutes by default.

So, God is perfect and doesn’t like to be around sin. Again, remember that much of what God calls sin is actually how we treat each other. So God decides to send his son to redeem us. Bare in mind that, according to God, the penalty of sin is death. But it’s not just God’s angry actions towards sin. Sin is also, literally, the death of us. Think about it. If I decide to become a thief, how can I possibly live in harmony with others? Or if I decide to sleep with “my neighbours wife”, how can my neighbour and I possibly co-exist. I mean, think about it. When you do something wrong for the first time, doesn’t it sort of take something out of you? But each time you do it after that, it takes a little less out of you. Until you finally get to the point where you can commit that action (and others) and it not sting at all. That’s the death of your conscious, and when your conscious dies, the people around you are in trouble. God says he hates sin. He hates it when we turn our back on him, and he hates it when we treat each other unjustly. And He doesn’t want to be around it. Sin is death.

So Jesus comes to earth for one primary reason, to redeem us. But he does it in two ways. Number one, by teaching us how to live. See, the life of Jesus is the story of Him teaching us how to treat each other and how to live a life of devotion to God. But the second way he redeemed us was by taking our place. Again, the penalty of sin is death, and if our lives are full of sin, we are dead. So Jesus came to take our place. Now the story that we know of is the one of Him on the cross. And it’s true. The time when Jesus came (roughly two-thousand years ago) was a pretty barbaric time. The Romans were just working themselves up to the Coliseum where they would pit men against men and even animals. And Jesus was born and lived just a few decades before this. So death on a cross was a viable punishment back then. But here’s the thing. Jesus hadn’t done anything wrong except to challenge the religious arrogance of the day.

Now let’s be clear. Jesus didn’t challenge God, or the Bible. He challenged the arrogance of some of the religious leaders of the day. Religious leaders who put certain systems into place to remain in power. And these religious leaders got together and figured out a way to have Jesus killed. But, and this is where some of the prophecy takes place, that was God’s plan for redeeming us. Rather than us dying in our sin, Jesus took our place. But he did it for one very specific purpose. To conquer death. See, three days later, Jesus rose again and, in doing so, conquered death.

Now here’s where we get back to the whole Greek tragedy thing. And I know it sounds weird. But, not only was Christ’s resurrection prophesied thousands of years earlier, but many people witnessed Jesus after his resurrection. Now here’s where several different forms of evidence have to be take into account. First of all, the Bible has been discovered to be an extremely accurate and historical document. So why, right smack in the middle of it, would it have a story that wasn’t true? Second, the Bible is not one book but is a collection of 66 different books, collected into one big book. All of these books, written separately and, often, thousands of years apart, tell the same story and back one another up. More importantly, there are four books in the Bible that specifically give an account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Each of them is written by a different author, an author who followed Jesus around and witnessed these things for themselves. And finally, ten out of the eleven men who originally preached this story were killed for their beliefs. Now, if the story was fabricated, don’t you think that at least one of these men would have said, “Ok, ok. You’re right. We made this whole thing up. Please don’t kill me.” But none of them did. Each and every one of them verified with their lives that what they said was true.

So what does all of this mean for you and me? It means that Jesus Christ, who lived without sin, paid the penalty for our sin when he died on the cross and then rose from the dead. It means that we can be forgiven of our sins. And that’s why we celebrate Easter.

If you’re curious to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to write me or visit with a Christian close to you about it. And happy Easter!

Thursday, April 13, 2006


I’ve been watching the story of Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with interest since he was elected. Here’s a guy who, religiously speaking, is pretty extreme, enforcing his own enterpretation of what is proper and acceptable under Islamic law. Wilkepedia describes him as a guy who is considered to be a religious conservative with Islamist and populist views. Rumor has it that he considers himself to be the 12th Imam, or the so-called Muslim Messiah. And, to top it all off, he believes that the holocaust was a hoax and would like to see Israel wiped off the face of the map.

But lately he’s been ticking the world off because he wants nuclear energy.

Now don’t get me wrong, who wants a guy like this to have access to nuclear resources? Not me. I’m under no delusion that the guy won’t eventually make a nuclear weapon out of it. But what I can’t figure out is what business it is of the UN, or any Western Nation, whether he’s allowed to or not. We have nuclear weapons. Why can’t Iran?

One thing’s for sure, this guy is an impressive leader. Like him or not, he’s charismatic and has managed to get Iranians to believe in themselves. He’s stood up to the West, telling all of us to go screw ourselves, and has forged ahead in producing nuclear power, something that will allow Iran to move from the stone ages to a modern day contender.

So what am I missing here? Why shouldn’t Iran be allowed to produce nuclear energy or even nuclear bombs if they want to?

Monday, April 10, 2006

the song

I watched a documentary tonight called Rock School. The documentary tells the story of a youth project in Philadelphia that attempts to turn teenage prodigies into rock stars. It was an interesting documentary and, as a youth worker myself, who is into the arts, I found parts of it very inspiring.

But one of the things that bugged me about the “youth worker” in charge was that he was adamant about the fact that only certain music was real music. That, while bands like Frank Zappa and Pink Floyd played real music, bands like 311 and others did not.

Now don’t get me wrong, it would make me really, really happy to see Britney Spears retire. But to suggest that she doesn’t contribute to “the song” is to sort of miss the point of music.

In the film Dead Poet’s Society, Robin William’s character asks his students what the purpose of poetry is and, after some really intense and intellectual answers, he informs his all male class that the purpose of poetry is to woo women.

Music is many things. Intellectual art. History. A piece of the writer’s soul. But most of all, music is something that should move you. It exists to stir us, to make us cry, to make us dance, to make us smile, to make us laugh, and even to motivate us. If Britney Spears does that for you, then great! Because that’s the point!

To suggest that music exists for only one purpose, or that it is only music if it falls under your definition of music, is to sort of miss the point. To miss the joy. It’s to be short sighted.

I think I feel the same way about politics. To suggest that one party is God’s party, or has it all together, is to be short sighted. It’s to miss the point of politics.

One of the things that I appreciate about the U.S. version of politics is that a lot of checks and balances exist. Yet it seems that, when one of those checks or balances rises up to check or balance “our guy”, we immediately become defensive. Instead of hearing them out, we rise up to defend our guy. But maybe we should listen. Maybe we should consider whether or not there are any truths to the accusations.

And the same thing is true among parties. To suggest that one party has it right, and the other party is useless, is to sort of miss the point of politics. Parties exist because, in fact, none of them have it all figured out. They need each other to check and balance, to remind the other of the other important issues.

I don’t know, maybe I’m trying to make two subjects correlate that really don’t. 15 years of sermon illustrations will do that to your brain. But it seems to me that, in both music and politics, there is no room for boxes or singular definitions. It seems that we must be open to the fact that political parties, just like musical genres, all contribute to the song.
I’d like to think that, while I’m very picky with my music and my politics, I’m also eclectic, finding the important voices in any genre.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

charting the arts

So on the bottom of my right hand column is an idea that I stole from Phil. It’s through a site called and it automatically keeps a top ten list of the artists (or however you choose to set it up) that you listened to over the past week. The chart is calculated by how many hours you spent listening to each artist, so check it out. How about Dire Straits at number two! : ) Hahaha! That is awesome! Shaun Savage would be proud!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

what would you do with 61 billion dollars?

I don’t know about you, but every year I hear about the billions spent at NASA and wonder what it’s all for. I mean, consider our trip to the moon. Cool? Sure. But what did it gain us? It was basically a billion dollar version of a “who’s is bigger” battle between the United States and the Russians (on a side note, tradition has always suggested an unwritten rule that whoever plants their flag first is the owner. Does that mean that the United States owns the Moon? I mean, all but that part that Tom Cruise bought? ) Velcro was cool for a while but eventually the fad went away and we were left with nothing but a really loud adhesive. And every once in a while you stumble across a heat resistant surface that uses “the same technology as is used on the space shuttle” but c’mon, if you’re heating your fry daddy up to those levels, you should probably steer clear of grease and fire anyway.

So I got to thinking, what if we scaled NASA down to the bare minimum for five years. For five years all we paid for was costs on the International Space Station (because we’ve made promises to assist…but then, that never stopped us before) and maintenance and security costs to keep both the Houston and Cape Canaveral facilities in working order (including the staff to do it). And if, for five years, we took the rest of the budget, could we pay off the U.S. national debt? Here are the figures.

NASA’s budget for 2007 is 16,792.3 billion dollars.
Minus our International Space Station costs of 1,811.3 billion dollars
Assume that it wouldn’t cost us more than 700,000 dollars to pay security and maintenance staff.
And then throw in another 3 million for actual building upkeep (and I think I’m being generous).
And you still come up with a savings of 14,997.3 billion dollars. Or 59,989.2 billion dollars over the course of five years.
Add to that the fact that NASA’s budget is due to increase by just over 300 million dollars each year, and you can tack on another 1.2 billion dollars.
That’s a savings of over 61 billion dollars in five years.


Yeah, I was too until I realized that the national debt is at over 8 trillion dollars and climbing at a rate of 2.4 billion dollars a day which means that, even if we froze the national debt and it did not collect a penny of interest, it would still take us fifty years to pay it off using NASA’s budget.

So, still believing that NASA isn’t worth 17 billion dollars a year, the question now goes out to you. What else could we do with 61 billion dollars?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

a history of violence

“Yesterday, I expressed puzzlement and depression at the polling news that American Christians are more likely than non-religious Americans to support the Bush policy of torturing and abusing military detainees.

All I can say is that faith founded genuinely on Jesus could not begin to endorse such a concept (which is why I find Bush's endorsement of it so troubling). But then Christianity's history shows, alas, that Jesus' followers have not exactly always been faithful to his teachings. Today's age of politicized and intolerant Christianism seems to me to be one of those moments when Christianity has estranged itself most thoroughly from the priorities and spirit of its founder. But this will pass. Christianity will survive Christianism. Some true followers of Jesus will recover their faith from Caesar's grip at some point.”
Taken from a TIME article by Andrew Sullivan

I’ve read as people have posted one basic belief, over and over again. That Muslims are the only ones mass rioting and/or killing people who believe differently than them. And, while this may currently be true (depending on your political beliefs) it is equally as true that the church’s participation in such mass riots and killing is not null, it’s just past (again, depending on your political beliefs).

From the early days of Christianity, the church has filled history books with stories and eras where all we did was kill people who believed differently than we did. From the Roman government who eventually made Christianity the official state religion, making it illegal to believe anything else, to the Salaam witch trials, the church has a long and historic head start on what many Muslim extremists are doing now. In fact, it was only two months ago that tele-evangelist Pat Robertson called on the U.S. to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a communist.

I’ve read and heard it stated, numerous times, that the Middle East is going through its own medieval era right now. That much of its culture and society can best be compared to our medieval culture and society. Anybody remember reading what the church was doing during much of the medieval era? That’s right. Killing Muslims. We called it the crusades and, incredibly, the crusades are still glorified in some parts of the west.

It seems that, every month or so, I find myself comparing Islam’s actions to the church’s actions. Why do I do this? Is it to humiliate the church? Definitely not (though we could definitely use some humbling) it’s because I believe that, until we understand and maybe can even relate to what Muslim’s are going through right now, we’re never going to find peace with them and, more importantly, they’re never ever going to meet the real Jesus.

I swiped the following quote off of Steve Bussey’s blog last week. He was quoting Walt Mueller…

“Whoever takes interest and listens with both ears will be given the privilege of influence.”

So, before you warm up your fingers to type another excerpt on “why Islam is waaaaaaay worse than Christianity”, stop, think, and consider how we might try and understand Islam and the Middle East a little better.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

baby sitting for strippers

I just read one of the most encouraging posts I’ve read in a long time. As somebody who believes that love and grace softens hearts, while “turn or burn” theology hardens them, I couldn’t be anymore encouraged. Check it out at K-thoughts. Thanks Kirstin!

Monday, April 03, 2006

caught with our blinds down

I have long thought that The Salvation Army had, somewhere in its roots, a bit of the catholic spirit. That somewhere along the line, a former catholic must have been pretty high up in it’s ranks. How else do you explain the fact that we have versions of the pope (General), Cardinals (Commissioners), and so on and so forth. And, while our pope doesn’t have quite the power as THE pope, he’s a pope none-the-less. But yesterday I realized that, as much as we might want to be catholic, we’re actually a ghetto version of the catholic church.

On my way into church today, I picked up a copy of the Salvationist. For my Baptist friends, think “Baptist Messenger”, for my Scientology brothers and sisters, think…kidding, for everybody else, you’ll have to translate this one on your own. Anyway, I never read this thing, but felt compelled to check it out this morning. So I’m reading through it and there’s this whole long article on the nomination of the new General. For those of you not in the know, the Salvation Army just elected a new general. It’s this whole big deal. In fact, there was actually a live webcast of the event that lasted for several days. I chuckle when I think of Salvationists all over the world, glued to their computer screens, but not as much as I chuckled when I found out the following.

When a new pope is finally elected, the cardinals doing the electing burn some sort of chemical paper that allows a white cloud of smoke to rise from the chimney of the Vatican. Guess what we do? We put the window shades down in the chapel where the voting just took place. Hahaha. So people are sitting out in the garden, anxiously awaiting the vote. All of CNN is tuned in. Will the commanders be unified in their vote? Will we finally have a new General? Yes! There go the blinds! We HAVE a new General! : )

Oh man, that makes me smile.

And oh, btw, I had a Coke today with lunch.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

writing about coffee

What’s up with people writing about coffee on their blogs? Every time I turn around, or hit the “next blog” key at the top of a blog, some twenty-year-old is writing about coffee. What’s up with that? It’s like the preppy version of a frat kid. “Dude, I got wasted!” “Dude, I drink coffee now!”

Here’s another topic I’m growing quite cynical of. Community. Why do I get the feeling that, when I read people talking about community, what they’re really talking about is a group of people who are just like them? I’m not suggesting that this is true in all cases, but too often I feel like what they’re actually looking for is a group of Christians, around their same age, and with similar interests. And, while this is certainly a community, it’s not one that’s going to teach us much.

But the thing I’ve grown the most cynical of are the people who wear Make Poverty History bracelets or post the banner on their website, but don’t actually participate in free trade or ethical shopping. I’m not even certain that people are educating themselves in the type of products and companies that participate in free trade or ethical manufacturing. It seems that justice has become fashionable.

Sigh. Cynicism. Some people loathe it, I happen to believe that it’s a useful tool in calling out the discrepancies in society. But then, I’m a bit cynical.

This week I had the strangest thing happen to me. I’m walking down the street and I see a blind man walk out of a shop carrying a guitar. I immediately recognize him as a man whom I’d met on a bus about a year ago. I remember him because I was immediately impressed that he could play the guitar. I am not blind, yet am a mediocre guitar player at best (no comments from either of the Shauns/Seans). So, upon seeing him walking out of this shop, I walk up to him and ask him if he’s crossing the street. He says yes and so I sort of take him by the arm and walk across with him. Halfway across the street I say, “Hi, my name is Tim Miller. You probably don’t remember me, but…” at which point he cuts me off and says, “yeah, from the bus.” !!! What the heck! I’m fascinated by this. Now my wife has given me several reasons for why this guy might remember me. (1) Not a lot of people talk to strangers on the bus. (2) I have an American accent. But still, that’s impressive! I have yet to hear him play the guitar but now I’m on a mission to do so. I want to start some cool band with a cool name. Something along the lines of, “Key of See.” Or maybe that’s an album title.

I close this post by letting you know that I had a bottle of water yesterday at an Asian restaurant. Dude, I drink bottled water!

painted black

I took a test at to find out which "faith" I most closely subscribe to. I was interested to find out that my beliefs most closely resemble an Orthodox Quaker. This solves several of my current wardrobe problems. : )

I’ve finally uploaded the video of me trying to drive in London last weekend. It’s in my right hand column. It may take a minute or two to load.