Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Getting It Out There

OK. So you're sitting with a friend.

"Hey, I've got this great idea," he says.

"Wait. I've got an idea, too," says you.

"Shut up," he says. "Listen! Here's my idea: We should . . ."

"No! Let me say what my idea is, because I'm sure I've got the same idea as you!"

And you do. And it is.

Today I read one page of a book. And I wanted to shout, "No! Let me say what my ideas are, because I'm sure I've got the same ideas as you!"

So I will. I haven't read another paragraph. I want to get my ideas out here first. Then we'll see if we're cutting the same wave.

I've had these ideas swimming around in my head for a while. They've actually been percolating, like no-knead bread dough, between my ears for years. I'm not sure about them, and I don't know what to do with them exactly, but here they are, in no particular order.

  • Doing church cannot be programmed. 
  • When programming is successful the first time, it is because somebody was listening and following the directions of the Head.
  • Our world, with its vast cultures and needs, cannot be served best by lock-step application of any one master plan.
  • When successful  programming is bottled up like moonshine and sold around to other churches, it loses it's punch and becomes an impotent representation of the original.
  • The further away the programming gets from the still in which it originated, the less powerful it gets until it is watered down to zero.
  • You cannot use a template and think that God will produce the same results each time it is used in every place it is used for all time. Each place God shows up needs its own MO, crafted by a clever Holy Spirit, and given power by the Head.
  • Our job is not to superimpose our plans, dreams, visions, on God. Our job is to listen, brew, and jump.
  • The work of doing church cannot be localized in one person, or a team of people. Trust needs to be fostered to enable everyone to go where the Spirit is leading.
  • Buzz words, trendy orchestrations, cute marketing schemes, and academic theological tendenz can't take the place of surrender and waiting.
Now I will read the rest of the book. We'll see if I'm right.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Prisoner, Night Two, Episodes Three and Four

OK. We're in the middle of the mess. Confusion abounds. Questions spin. Random thoughts on blog:

  1. I've got to get this off my chest, or it's just going to keep bugging me. I am sick, sick, sick, of the Palm Pre Red Head. My vow: Even if it is given to me, I will never, ever use a Palm Pre. They've taken mind control, manipulation, and brain washing to all new levels. How many times does it take to completely turn me off from your product? Ten? Twenty? ENOUGH!
  2. On with the show - They've got us right where they want us. If the first two installments added confusion on confusion, these middle two multiplied it. Holes in the ground. Colored pills. And what is happening in The Clinic?
  3. Seems like for any media to be au courant these days, it has to include a gay storyline. Necessary? Elemental to the plot? 
  4. If you're watching the mini-series, and if you're expecting to get all the loose ends tied up tonight, lower your expectations. They might tie them up, but it will be in a knot so thoroughly tight you'll pick at it for years without pulling the strands apart.
  5. I loved the way they brought in the rotating Twos from the original series, and the explanation about Number One. 
  6. The connections between Six's real life and his Village life is getting blurred, which leads me to a possible "dream" solution which would be A COMPLETE BETRAYAL OF THE VIEWER! DON'T DO IT! CLICHE CITY!
  7. But I will keep watching. Like any good novel, it's in the middle that chaos reigns. 
  8. Significant pointing to cult processes: Two's "humility" compared to "One," the manipulation of love, (broken heart), the strategic control of memory.
  9. My son, Jeremy, who is watching with me, noticed that in the original the clothes were standardized and no drinking was allowed in the Village, but in the new version, drinking seems part of the charade, and people appear to wear what they want. Not only that, but the whole underground, nightclub scene is an interesting, albeit seedy, addition. Does that whole culture exist at the will of Two? (Or One?). Or is it tolerated for the sake of exploitation? 
So far, 4.5 out of 5. Tonight's bowl of serial may tip it over. (Or if it's a dream, WILL NET A ZERO!).

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Prisoner - Post-Premiere Thoughts

I cut my story teeth on The Prisoner. By the time I watched it I was in high school, and while the political allusions failed to sink in at all, (my son Jeremy caught the implications) the story caught my attention. Here are some reasons why:

  • Unanswered Questions. Here's some background: I was not a student. I was a socialite. My literary experience was slim, at best. I'd slogged through The Hobbit, just because a friend thought it was hip. Up to that point, my literature was confined to assigned reading from a small-town high school in the conservative west, and further limited by my academic philosophy--squeeking by with a C or D. SRA (this will date you!) was how I liked to read: short short stories, quick and to the point, with an easy little test at the end. And the stories had a beginning, middle, and end, and the end tied up all the loose ones. Not so, The Prisoner. The show did not answer all my questions. In fact, just the opposite; the longer I watched the more questions I had. I would have considered this unsatisfying before, and downright rude to the watcher, but The Prisoner taught me to enjoy--relish--the ambiguity and mystery. I discovered that not knowing was as stimulating as knowing. I have used this in my speaking and writing.
  • Literary Claustrophobia. Part of the unsettling nuance of The Prisoner was the island. In many ways idyllic, it also served as the malevolent force working not behind the scenes, but inhabiting the scenes! 
  • The Bubbles of Doom. Sheer terror. I had nightmares about the big white bubbles. How very clever of the screenwriters to use something that might fascinate a child as the rabid yard dog guards of the island.
  • Rotating Number Two. This was a frustrating device, but it worked to stir the intrigue.
And now comes the new Prisoner. Older now, I can see the political/cultural messages. They're more real than ever, what with video cameras on every corner and cell phones that (I wonder) may secretly be "on" all the time. Once when a thief snagged our credit card, we were able within minutes to know where he was and what he was buying. There is a camera mounted on a tower in Saginaw Township that can see up to two miles in any direction, and can zoom in to catch a license plate or a face. The island is here; the prisoner is us.

I can also see spiritual connections. I am a pastor--I think that way. As in The Matrix, reality is not all it's cracked up to be, and there is a better thing off-shore that features freedom. Prisoner details the life of legalism--it is easy, nice, comfortable. As long as you conform.

You want a review of the new Prisoner? I like it. I think the changes offer huge potential. The terror is still there (I didn't have nightmares, but it was in my dreams). What really stuck with me last night, though, was the shaky platform of memory. Number Six is falling into the trap of memory. It's tenuous. It can be manipulated. And I will write more on that theme tomorrow. If I remember.

BTW: If you missed the premiere, don't worry. AMC will repeat it, and if you have On-Demand, you can watch it anytime. Meanwhile, let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Want My Coke Glass

The innovative franchisees of McDonalds in the Tri-Cities of Mid-Michigan thought it would be clever marketing if they DID NOT participate in the national Coke Glass give away, wherein an old-fashioned Coca-Cola glass (real glass!) can be had with the purchase of a super-sized Value Meal.

I guess they thought they would make more money if I decided to go to Taco Bell instead.

Do churches ever do the same?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Top Ten or Eleven Things I Liked About Writing at the Ranch

I just got back from an adventure in the red rocks of New Mexico. CLASSeminars sponsored the CLASS Christian Writers Conference at Ghost Ranch, about an hour northwest of Santa Fe. I was privileged and humbled to be part of the teaching team, and to serve as chaplain (although I was never quite clear on the job description). I love Christian writers conferences, because they're Christian, (although I might like one of the non--- varieties if I ever tried one), because they're about writing, and because they're con-ferences.

This one was the best ever. Why? To squeeze content through the way-over-used top ten list, here it is:

  1. Seeing friends I only see once a year. I need to see them more.
  2. Exposing new writers to the conference scene, and gently helping them adjust their expectations. (Hello, On-Rampers!)
  3. Worshiping (on congas!) with people who love Jesus.
  4. Praying with people who are feeling the emotion of acceptance and rejection, either one of which drives us to God.
  5. Location. Location. Location.
  6. Teaching with my best writer friend, Lee Warren.
  7. New Mexican food! Oh, the posole! Pork stew with green chilis and hominy! Oh man.
  8. Finding a small cadre of mad writers who see things through the same warped lens as me. Big shout out to Sherry and Bill and Aaron and all the rest of y'all!
  9. The wild life. Mule deer haunting the fields at night. La cucaracha - a big, black, satanic cockroach that lurked near the light switch in the bathroom, making every late-night toilet expedition an exercise in paranoia. And Legion--the rodent horde of mice who scurried into my room at night to clean the floors. They not only chewed up  the crackers, but they ate soap, drank Nyquil, attempted a take-over of the trash can, and left myriads of small black gifts behind. (Oh wait, this was the top ten reasons why I LIKED this conference!)
  10. Seeing God in the background, working his great stuff. I don't know why, and it may be a liability, but I often don't see the BIG DEAL spiritual things--the on-stage moments--that others do. But I tend to be powerfully aware of God moving and shaking in the wings. I love him for that.
  11. Coming home.
  Thank you to all of you who prayed. These conferences are just not about me anymore. Sure, I pitched stuff, but it's all up to God's clever operations. Tomorrow I'll be back at the greatest church, digging in to all the good going on there. Life is full. God is good.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Lord, Save Us - Review Rips

Although I can't advocate a movie I haven't seen, I've seen enough of this one to be urging you to get to it if you can. (I can't yet - it's only in limited release). Here's a link for the website, where you can look at clips and read reviews. Or watch the trailer below. Here are several rips from various reviews:

“Heartfelt...an effective call for greater understanding.”     Los Angeles Times

“Admirably bold…It would take a hard heart indeed not to be moved.”   Variety

“The overarching message is desperately needed and winsomely voiced. Most impressive is that this film manages to speak to two separate audiences at the same time.”    Christianity Today

“(a) fascinating and powerful documentary…see it sooner rather than later.”   Seattle Gay News

“Major points for the great liberal/conservative Family Feud experiment…and what an ending!”   Instinct magazine

“…an entertaining, humorous and inspiring documentary.”  About.com

“…fair, positive, and non-judgmental…a potent combination of conviction, empathy, and redemption. The laughter makes the lessons linger. Challenging and thought-provoking, Lord, Save Us is a witty whirlwind.”   Crosswalk.com

“Provocative, funny, and redemptive. I laughed and I cried. I can’t remember the last time I was so moved by a movie.”    Michael Hyatt, Leading With Purpose blog.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

New Article!

Hey all - A new article just appeared in the Sept/Oct edition of Plain Truth Magazine. Tricked Out Confession concerns the legalism that can creep into our repentance protocol. Give it a read and let me know what you think. http://www.ptm.org/ptMag_fS.htm

Also - while you're at the Plain Truth site, sign up for a FREE YEAR of the hard copy version! Give a donation if you can! And pray for the safety of the ministry - they're close to the fires in S.Cal.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Six Reasons to Love Baptisms

Baptizing people has always been on the top of my list for pastoral duties, but doing it in a public lake is even better. Yesterday Grace Christian Fellowship braved rough weather to celebrate a dunking at Haithco Park in Saginaw, and it was great. Here are six reasons baptisms flip my switch:
  1. The excitement of going public. Even grouping up as a church on a public beach causes a scene, and there is a certain thrill in the outing of our faith.
  2. The awkwardness of the moment. Let's face it, the whole experience borders on the odd: a man grabs a person by the neck and arms and offers some ritual words and plunges them backward into the water and pulls them out again and everybody cheers. It's weird, and it's weirder out in the middle of the world. And that makes it specialer. (If I can use "weirder," I can use "specialer").
  3. The display of new faith. Most of the time a baptism happens because somebody has recently given themselves whole hog to Jesus. It is exhilarating.
  4. Joy, joy, and joy.
  5. The visible expression of real grace. Communion is a quiet, usually somber time to reflect on the cost of grace, but baptism punches all the celebration buttons; invite the family, your neighbors, bring out the food, splash in the water, make some noise, and PARTY! It is an earthly reflection of the heavenly party that happens when God redeems one of his own. (See Luke 15)
  6. It's flat-out contagious. Baptism sparkles up the reality of grace in real time, and the bubbles spread around like champaign to tickle spiritual noses all over the place.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Home: A Novel Home: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
The whole idea that theology -- the study of God -- can be systematized seems more ludicrous to me all the time. Yes, I believe that God can be understood rationally. I believe that every part of himself that he chooses to reveal to us is provided in good faith, and is comprehendible to anyone who will allow belief. I believe that we can analyze it, study it, write about it, etc. What fails for me is the leap between this kind of academic study into the real lives of people who, honestly, have no ken to dabble in the drudgery of high-flung theological abstracts; they just want to know if Aunt Liz is headed for heaven or hell.

So - thank God for Marilynn Robinson and her ilk. Daring to take deep theological truths, and the debate thereon, and fit them into a powerful character study is courage, plain and simple.

In "Home," Robinson enjoins the topic of predestination. (YES! That's what I said!). She crafts her story with subtle, fleshy characters who defy the reader to love them. Glory, the primary POV in the book, questions God's planning for her life, especially bemoaning her fatalistic return to the rural Iowa town of Gilead. The appearance of her brother, Jack, complicates life for her, but in the same season provides joy and purpose to answer her loneliness.

Driving and stirring the story, the Rev. John Boughton serves as provocateur and theological thorn in the sandal. From his bed, his chair, and his patriarchal perch, Papa Boughton uses a prodding needle of love and guilt and applies it to the touch-points of the families' history.

Every family has a prodigal. Like Aunt Liz. What we want to know about her is not going to be answered in a textbook. It will be answered in the tug and pull of life. And, like "Home," firm and hard answers are not always provided. But the learning is in the living.

Robinson's writing is powerful and gentle. You don't need to have read "Gilead" prior to reading "Home," but it wouldn't be a bad idea.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Chip MacGregor's Bad Poetry Contest Lava Lamp Major Award Pics

Here are pics of me and the lamp. It's real, folks. 

Out of the box, it looked like maybe Chip had sent a bottle of --  Neuvo-Guinness? 

"Some assembly required," and then - mesmerization!  Thanks, Chip!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Had a car towed this morning to George's, and the tow truck driver told me stories.

He works for the Thomas Township Volunteer Fire Department. He told me he was one of the first on the scene at my house when a car went airborne and - he said - hit the roof of our house. He said it was a 16 year old, with two passengers, in a car he had just been given for his birthday. The two passengers survived with relatively minor injuries, but the driver died. As the truck operator put it, "He died on top of your house."


When Jon first started making friends at school one of his classmates said "Oh. You live in that house where somebody took out the garage." We had noticed some new framing around the newer-looking door - 2X4s looked fresh.

I queried the tow truck driver about the facts: Did the gas main on the corner of the garage get hit? Where did the car land? How was the garage damaged? How did the car drive into the garage and not hit the huge pine tree in front? Who was the kid?

He said the gas was not damaged because the car flew higher than the main. He said the car finally landed between the light post and the front door. He said the entire front of the garage was history, (and I assumed the roof was, too). He said the out-of-control car traveled between the neighbor's house and the tree. He said the kid attended Heritage High.


I told Linda, and then the rest of the "at-home" family at dinner, and we speculated on how it could possibly have happened. How did the car get airborne? How did it manage to wind between the tree and the neighbor's wall? How did it flip from the roof onto the front yard? We scanned the front yard, the spaces and the clearings, potential launches and evidence of damage.

Jeremy got online and discovered some answers. The car was brand new. The young man was beloved. The pictures show the roof of the garage unharmed - the car had not flown that high. But it did fly. The driver was traveling at 110 mph, lost control, skidded accross two lawns before lobbing from the small hill on the side of the house and catching air into the garage door, then bouncing off the front bricks and landing upside down on the lawn. The driver died instantly. One passenger was airlifted for severe facial injuries. The other passenger was able to walk away.

Don't drive fast.

Read a memorial here. Watch a memorial video here.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


The robin chicks took turns leaving the nest today. I'm not sure it was intentional.

The third one to hop into the world took a dive from the nest, located on our side porch, and into the neighbor's peonies. The peonies probably saved its neck--it was headed straight into the brick wall. If it flew any better it would have had the loft to clear the peonies but not the neighbor's house. It'd have smacked it head on.

The robin mom and dad were apoplectic. They screamed and squawked. They attacked anything that looked remotely like a predator. They hovered for hours, obviously not trusting the capacity of their young to handle themselves in the world outside the nest. And they were right to be that way--anything could happen. Cats, dogs (it's a good thing Buster is blind and deaf--he posed no threat), bigger birds, brick walls--lethal threats lurked behind every corner and flew in the sky. 

As the birds hopped around the yard, they grew further apart, driving the parents into a frenzy. The adult birds tried to corral the chicks, but they couldn't be everywhere at once, and when they paid attention to one, the other two would be moving independently, often away.

One robin--the last holdout--stretched its legs at the edge of the nest facing the peonies and wall. The chick is still there, pondering the risk. I wonder, when it launches into thin air, if the red-breasted dad will hold his breath; if the mom will cry. According to the people who study these things, only 25% of young  robins survive the first year. 

No wonder the parents are freaked. I know the feeling. It's a big scary world out there, and I am more than willing to build a bigger nest and continue the supply of worms.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

For the Lazy - The Bad Poem

OK. For those of you too lazy to move your finger and settle your cursor over the link and push down, here's the poem. It's really bad, so please don't send me your complaints about stomach pain, nausea, cramps, or that woozy feeling. I warned you; now you're on your own. I will publish my acceptance speech tomorrow.

The Fish I Didn’t Catch

Walleye eludes me.

Slimy catfish, full of industrial toxins, jump at my lures.

Sucker carp, all bulging doleful eyes and slate brick scales, raise their fins to beg,

 “Catch me! Catch me!”

A bluegill also volunteers itself. Surrenders to my will.

But my heart is not satisfied.


Walleye eludes me.


Why, oh why did I pay ten dollars

to register for the Freeland Walleye Festival Fishing Tournament?

Why, oh why did it rain all day that Friday?

Why, oh why did my nightcrawlers overheat in the car window,

            congealing into a mass of gray flesh,

            taunting me with their lifeless forms,

            laughing from their Purgatory of worms?


Walleye eludes me.


My wife says, “Curse the walleye and die!”

But I’ve spent too much already.

            The license

            The rod and reel

            The tackle and the box to hold it

            The really, really big boat

I must fight on. I must endure. I must be victorious. I must.


Others pass by on the right and on the left.

They hoist their larder high, rubbing it in my face.

“They’re biting tonight!” they shout.

“You can catch ‘em in your hands!” they scream.

“My two-year-old caught a ten pounder!” one large round specimen brags.

I fantasize about big hooks and big poles.

Big stinky fishermen being landed with big nets,

De-scaled, gutted, coated with corn meal and fried delicately.


Walleye eludes me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I'm a Really Bad Poet!

I won Chip MacGregor's Annual Bad Poetry Contest!

Chip, a respected literary agent, hosts the competition every year on his birthday. On a lark I wrote what was on my heart - a poem about fishing. And it was bad enough to win.

As I was reading Chip's blog today, reading through the competitor's horrible work, I came to fifth place, Don Juan of Motor City, and I thought to myself -- no way I can be worse than this! But I was!

Here's where the contest starts.  (Entries are in the Comments. Be sure and click on the little tiny arrow at the bottom to see all the pages of Comments.)

I'm supposed to get a lava lamp as a prize. Woot!

If you'd like to read good poetry instead, check out my son Jeremy's viral blog - The Aloha Project - easily one of the classiest blogs out there. If you like good poetry and artistic expression on post cards, send the link to all your friends. If you write good poetry and like to make post cards, send in an entry.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Idol Results

And so it is. This is the best final three ever. Each of them could win. Here's how:

- Danny: He's got to pull out all he's got and leave it on the stage. Make us laugh and cry.
- Adam: He's got to go "non-Adam"--he's gotten predictable in his unpredictability. He needs to do a folk ballad and make it stick.
- Chris: Must take it up the next notch--he's moved a few rungs on that ladder each week, so if he just keeps moving up, he'll make it.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

American Idol

Idol Last Night: I don't often disagree with the judges, especially Simon. But last night I think they got it completely wrong. First, everyone assumed it was Adam's night. I think his performance was everything everyone expected it would be. It sounded just like Led Zeppelin. So? We all knew he could do this. There's nothing special about it. Nothing really new in his rendition. No surprises. No shocking change-up. Just what we knew he could do. So why all the raging about how perfect it was?

Ditto with Alison, although she was still shy of great because she's not comfortable with the whole thing.

For Chris and Danny - the condescension of the judges was pathetic! "We know that this kind of music is not your thing . . ." Please! These guys are great, and they rocked. They both picked perfect songs for them, and they brought origniality and novelty to their performances that the other two didn't. Alison sounded like Janis, Adam sounded like LZ. Who did Chirs sound like? The Beatles? NO! He sounded like Chris! Did Danny mimic Aerosmith? NO! He made that last scream all his own, like it should be, and Simon blasted him for it.

I've never considered the judges on AI guilty of an attempt to sway the audience voting. Until last night. I think Chris or Danny should win it all.

So now you know it - I'm an American Idol nut. So? You wanna make something of it? Good clean TV. Hard to find.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

What We Should Do

Every once in a while I encounter something I think THE CHURCH should be doing. Most of the time, it's not THE CHURCH doing it. When I first watched "Extreme Makeover, Home Edition" I immediately said, as I was crying, "This is what THE CHURCH should be doing!" When heard about Ashton Kutcher, Twitter, and the UN Foundation's Nothing but Net Campagin raising funds for the purchase and distribution of mosquito nets to refugees in Africa, I said, "Why isn't THE CHURCH doing this?"

Today I saw this video. And I asked the question again. What do you think?

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I'm getting on this bandwagon. Hope, grace, encouragement. I needed to watch this today. Maybe you do to.

Catch this YouTube. If you're not weeping in 30 seconds you've got a heart of stone.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Aloha Project

Today begins National Poetry Month. My son is a poet. He's celebrating with a special blog - The Aloha Project - with daily visual art and poetry. He encourages you to send him a greeting for the Grand HooHaw event.

Going to be good.

Hallmark -- take note.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Super Bowl Morality

When a church shows the SB on a big screen and makes a party out of it, what do you do with the skanky commercials?

It bugs me that the SB power-markets to kids (showing the new Monsters preview in 3D) while at the same time using in-your-face sexuality to sell web space, something kids won't be buying. So what's a church to do?

- Turn off the feed during each commercial break.  The problem here is that the commercials are at least half of the appeal.  For non-football people, the game is just plain boring most of the time. The commercials are hilarious and fun and certainly a core part of the whole SB package.
- Turn off the feed when something bad pops up." This is fine as long as we're all agreed about the definition of "bad." Is bad a racy image, a suggestive phrase, a beer or liquor promotion, a pitch for a credit card you can't afford? There are some who consider an ad for a hamburger immoral, since you have to kill an animal to eat it, and if you do eat it you'll die from high colesterol. And this solution only works if the person on the switch is quick of finger and paying attention.
- Divide and conquer. You could have a room marked "XXX Adults Only!" and show the uncensored version in there, while the rest watch the SB sans any commercials. Better make it a big room.
- Leave it to the wise, understanding, and tasteful people at the networks. After all, they know what's best for all of us. It's a matter of trust.
- Lobby the industry to put two versions of the SB on the air, using their cable franchises. This is not a bad idea. They could actually sell twice the commercial slots, and one version could be "family friendly." Why haven't they thought of this?
- Don't have a Super Bowl party at church. This is an answer that works, actually. People can host SB parties and decide for themselves what they want to do about the commercials.

What do you think? 

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Safe After All

Entering the 10 Freeway off the 75 in Bay City today, Linda spun the Big White 180 on the snowy roads, and the car behind struck her on the front driver's side. She banged her head, her neck hurts, and her shoulder aches. But she is OK.

Naturally, we just dropped the collision on Big White about a month ago to save $$. The front grill is destroyed, the driver's side body above the front wheel is bent up, and the headlight is scratch. I'm hoping to repair the headlight to make it all legal, but that's all.

I'm thanking God for a big heavy car that took the damage instead of my wife.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sitting Here

It is -3 degrees. On January 16 the sun rises at just the right spot so that, sitting here at 3550 N. River Road, the first rays of light shine direct on the first new ice of the Tittabawassee. Everything else waits for the brilliance, but straight down the river, tracing its course at least for a quarter mile, the dawn falls only on the frozen water, like it was planned. It's dazzling.

A fox, red and bold, chases the beams. How does he live in this sub-zero environment? It must be the sun.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

White Stuff Revisited

Grace=Jeremy with a shovel.

Living at home when you're out of college may be hard for the kids, but it has advantages for the parents. Not only do driveways get shovelled, but having another person around to laugh with, to swap Grandma stories with, and to coerce (someday?) to watch Camelot all the way through -- it's good. I know it won't last forever.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

White Stuff

Out my window another four inches waits. Down south at our city cottage over a foot of accumulated stuff is expected by Thursday. It all patiently sits, anxious for a shovel.

Grace=snow blower. 

Monday, January 05, 2009


                                               n I miss a day. It's just a blog.

Here's something:

The latest issue of Plain Truth magazine included this delightful letter, written in response to my article published therein: Hooked on Religion --

"Please cancel my subscription to your magazine. I am grieved at how you and your writers poke fun at the churches. Who takes care of the widows and the elderly and the sick? It was my church who helped me, comforted me and prayed with me these twenty-five years since my husband died. I used to like your articles, but this one by Ron Benson [July/August 2008] is so hurtful to faithful churchgoers. I’m 77 years old and the church still stands—it will until Jesus returns!"                                    Missouri
It's uncomfortable when widows don't like me.

I understand Missouri's feelings. When someone points to the very things that seem to hold life together for you (in this case, religious practices of protestant churches), and makes jokes about them, it can seem insensitive and cause some pain. Believe me when I say I've known a lot of Missouris in my life, and I don't relish making them uncomfortable. I care about them.

However, (you had to know that was coming), when religious practices stand in the way of knowing Christ, when the human structures of cultural holiness take the place of relationship, when the outside is considered more important than the inside, it's necessary to point it out. For me, humor is the more gentle approach. I could rant and rave, but I don't think anyone would pay attention.

So here's my word to Missouri: Dear friend, we agree on this--the Church will stand. But it will do so in spite of, not because of, our frail human efforts to erect legalistic scaffolding around it. There is an archetect and builder who has agreed to handle church building, if we'll let him.

And if you'll let me, I'll take your hand and we can look together at the things that we sometimes use to prop up the church, and together we can begin to take them down so that he can have room to do his work.

Monday Musings

             ive to make the entries fun, endearing, well-written, and short.
4. I will allow myself to skip Sundays. (I added this because I skipped yesterday.)
5. I won't take a knife to body parts whe

(to be continued no doubt, but first this:)

I was impressed in October when New Mexico governor Bill Richardson flew coach on my plane --  twice.

I was returning from his state, and he was making his way to mine. I caught sight of him in the terminal in Albuquerque (why is it so hard to type that name?). He was dressed in jeans, had a scraggly beard, had a few friends with him who were also dressed not to impress, and a few other of his "friends" placed themselves strategically around the gate area, armed and ready to defend, I'm guessing. 

Since I recognized the governor before my writing friends at the airport saw him, I name-dropped. "Hey -- do you know who that is?" I whispered.

"Not a clue."

"That's Bill Richardson, the Governor of New Mexico!!" Impressive, my connections. I'm thinking he heard me, but he didn't let on. For whatever reason, Governor Bill did not recognize me.

We tried not to stare, tried to act casual, tried not to draw the attention of the Governor's friends with weapons in their pants.

He and his crew boarded the plane first, but it pleased me that he did not get on the plane secretly, and that he was flying commercial, and that he was flying an airline (Frontier) that did not even have first class accommodations. As I stumbled down the narrow fuselage to find my seat, I passed him. He was sitting on the aisle. I think my laptop case brushed his shoulder. I smiled at him, trying to communicate with my eyes that I was impressed by his thrift, his integrity. He didn't look up.

I don't recall where we made the connection, but I was further impressed that the route Governor Richardson chose was not a direct flight. He disembarked my plane and boarded the next one, sharing another leg of the trip with me. We landed together in Detroit just before midnight.

I am not a Democrat or the son of a Democrat. But I thought, I could respect a guy who flies coach.

Today we learn that Governor Richardson has pulled out of the appointment as Commerce Secretary in President-elect Obama's cabinet due to an ongoing investigation into campaign finance shenanigans. One smells the scent of scandal.

I wish we could all be consistent with our integrity. 

Saturday, January 03, 2009

As far as Resolutions go, this is a record!

he following:

  1. I will add the Blogger Dashboard to my "Daily" group, which opens 20 (now 21) websites  automatically with Google Chrome (a great Internet Explorer alternative, BTW).
  2. I will broaden the narrow confines of what I thought Grace Clinic should be about (Grace) and just write about whatever comes to mind (the original intent of this blog). I'm sure grace will come to the top of the stew, since it's always on the mind I hope God uses to write this stuff.
  3. I will str

Friday, January 02, 2009

Day Two: Success!

ery single day. In order to ensure my success with this resolution, I will do t

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's Resolution

My first New Year's Resolution for 2009:

I will write something on this blog ev