Monday, September 29, 2003

Today I had to work from 7-9:30 and am going back at about 5:00 to work until midnight. It's been boring since I came home.

I started working on my sermon today that I'll be giving here in a couple of weeks. I'm glad that I came to the realization that this time around I have a fulltime job and can't wait until a week before to start preparing. I'm actually hoping to have it done by next Monday, so I'm not as stressed out about it. Right now my plan is to talk abou the beatitudes and their relevance to the countercultural tendency among many young people.

It seems like many that I talk to, and whose blogs I read, have this great need to speak what they perceive as truth to power. A lot of wanna-be prophets whose purpose is to seek out injustice (even though we have a hard time defining that) and speak out about it. But no one is offering any genuine alternative. Oh, you ask them and they'll give you a good, and different, agenda, but I'm not seeing any really substantive ALTERNATIVE. I think maybe we are displacing problems.

Anyway that's a lot of rambling. Hopefully it'll take some form as the days go on.

Seth has a link to a friend of his blog on his page. I read this guy's, (or girl's), ramblings against Americans. He says something along the lines of "I hate Americans." And goes on to tell a story about how the people in his class are conservative idiots and look down on him because he's liberal. I almost got totally ticked off until I realized this kid was in high school. At least I assume he is, since he said his class was taught by a coach.

I wish, though, I could just count this toward a youthful ignorance. But the unfortunate thing is that it seems to be common among people in their twenties. It's obvious that this kid either a.) is angry at the world, possibly at the fact that he has never traveled much, and is taking out on all the idiots of his class or b.) has traveled to a foreign country once or twice for a couple of weeks at a time, and feels like his vacation experience validates him to rip on all americans for the stupidity of a few.

Anyway, I personally don't have a lot of problems with Americans. Sure, there's some fucked up Americans. But there are fucked up French, British, Somalian, Russian, even Estonian. We are all ignorant in our own particular way. It's no reason to hate.

Friday, September 26, 2003

I have no real problem with people who play the guitar. In fact I love a good guitar player. David Crowder, Carlos Santana, Johnny Cash, Roseanne Cash, Slash, Chet Atkins, Eric Clapton...... all wonderful. Even those with much less ability please me to no end.

But for the love of all that is true and holy, if you are in someone's house or any other setting where there is a guitar in close proximity, don't just assume that I want to hear you play guitar. I'll find out if you're good soon enough, you don't have to prove it to me.

If I want to hear music I will either A.) Turn my stereo on, B.) Be in my car, C.) Go to a concert, D.) Be at some other event where it is assumed music will be (i.e., church,)or E.) Ask you if you will play something for me.

If I'm with a group of friends I want to be either A.) Talking, B.) Sitting in silence, reading or watching television, enjoying each other's company.

I think one of the rudest things you can do is assume people enjoy listening to you as much as you enjoy listening to yourself.

Just a random thought that has no context whatsoever. :)

Thursday, September 25, 2003

I'm going to be late for work, but I didn't want to go any longer without saying how complete I am now that "Ed" is back on the air. Last night was great! Ed finally did it with Carol. And, although in real life situations I don't encourage doing the schloppidy spoo with someone that you just started dating, in Stuckeyville, I'm ecstatic that Ed and Carol decided to do the flippidy flop. Here's the funniest line from the entire show-- which came after Ed and Carol fandangled for the 2nd time, and Carol was wondering how the first time was so bad, but the second time was amazing:

Carol (panting profusely): Tell me Ed, why was last time so much like, well, last time, and this time was so much like this time.

Ed (also panting): I don't know. I guess this time we did it we really had nothing to lose........... That, plus I googled "How to satisfy your woman."

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

So, here's the deal..... I'm the one who made the anonymous comment on Seth's blog which spurred a response from him that expressed his displeasure at anyone posting anonymously. Sorry, I forgot to put my name there. I just want it to be known that I have nothing against Seth. With what little time I spent around him I found him quite intelligent and funny. All my friends that knew him liked him, so I guess I like him too. So I hope, Seth, that you didn't take taht personal.

But here's the story of my comment. Seth's particular blog entry had to do with Newlyweds: The Nick and Jessica Story, which follows Nick Lachey (sp?) and Jessica Simpson around during their first year of marriage. Seth, lamenting the mind numbing triviality of the things with which Nick and Jessica talk about, made the following comment: "people are in poverty and this is on television." to which I replied "people are in poverty and you are watching this on television." I thought I made quite a clever comment, the likes of which I rarely have the brains to think of. I don't think he appreciated my comment.

My frustration: I've watched the Nick and Jessica show about one and a half times. It's stupid. Intellectually, it's about 3/4 of a notch above the Anna Nicole Show. Jessica is a spoiled brat on the show (which confirms what my friends who know her say about her.) Nick is an arrogant bastard- American male type. The show has no social relevance or conscience whatsover. And you know what? I love it! It's great entertainment. And here's why I can appreciate it. It's not on CSPAN. It's not BBC. It's not PBS. It's not A&E. It's fucking MTV for crying out loud! The network that brought us Vanilla Ice, Pauly Shore, and Downtown Julie Brown. (I'm from the Old School MTV-- anyone else remember "Remote Controlled?") If MTV had ever made a claim of having any sort of humanitarian value, then a statement about the existence of "Newlyweds" while people are living in poverty would be a valid complaint. But it hasn't, and it isn't.

So again, please don't take my comment personally. I'm always afraid when I speak up about something someone said that that particular person will think I don't like them, and therefore not like me. I'm drastically messed up emotionally like that.


While I'm at it, let me get another rant out of the way. Within the past couple of days, I've made a comment about a particular thing that people do that gets on my nerves. At one point, I made it in a very rude and inappropriate way-- because of which I will need to seek someone out and apologize for how I said those things.

Here's what it is, and it's frustrated me for quite some time now.

This person, speaking about religious zealots at Baylor, prefaced one of his comments with the words "especially at Baylor." I made it clear that saying was one of my pet peeves. It came across as just another of my hangups about Baylor and being a part of a "Baylor Church." But it wasn't intended that way at all.

I was having this conversation not to long ago when I realized something: I don't know if this is a Texas thing or what. But, as a generalization, Texans love to exaggerate to good things. We love to talk about how everything is bigger and better here. But I think the inverse is true as well. (This may be more of a youthful ignorance rather than a Texan arrogance.) We also have a tendency to exaggerate the bad things as well.

Therefore, the religious freaks at Baylor aren't just religious freaks, their the worst of all religious freaks. Here in Waco someone says "The students at Bayor are especially arrogant and persistent about pressuring other people into spiriitual beliefs," and I think "Especially at Baylor? What about Brigham Young? What about Wheaton? What about Texas A&M (have you ever met an A&M evangelical Christian? weird.) " When I was at ETBU, people would say "Man, ETBU especially is such a spiritual bubble," and I'm thinking "Really? Especially ETBU? What about Bob Jones? What about Hardin Simmons?" I go home to East Texas and people say "You know, this is the most closed minded place in the world," and I think "Really? What about Saudi Arabia? What about France? What about New York? You ever met anyone from Manhattan or France who was open to new ideas?"

I don't know why we have a need to accentuate the negative and create such a caricature of ourselves. I think that maybe, when we get a little bit of education (or book learnin' as my dad likes to call it,) we feel like we have risen above those around us. Or at least we need to create the appearance that we've risen above it. So, if we fear being in an environment that is marked with religious fanaticism will mark us as a religious fanatic, then we will create a caricature of everyone around us as a RAGING fanatic- in order to create a distance between us and them. We grow up in a small town, and we don't want to be labled closed minded-- just preemptively label everyone else in the town as being the ultimate in closed mindedness, and you have nothing else to worry about.

And in a weird way, this fucked up mentality is probably the thing that is most fucked up with me personally. When I get upset at Baylor students for trying to paint a caricature of the Baylor culture, maybe what I'm subconciously saying is "Hold on there buddy. That's my territory your walking into. I'm the only one with a legitimate right to make fun of Baylor. I'm the one that went somewhere else for undergrad. I'm the one that was treated like crap when I worked there. I'm the one that was on the losing end of a financial aid game at Truett that rewarded every type of student except for me. I'm the martyr here! You can't be the martyr! I'm the martyr!" And so my wanting to create distance is really a way of wanting to create attention.

Which is yet another truly messed up reality of being human. And yet another reason why grace is ESPECIALLY necessary for me right now. :)

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Well, I worked today. Again. For like the 12th out of 13 days. I enjoy my job, but this is ridiculous. Actually, it wasn't that bad today. I didn't have anyone yell at me about customer order shit.

When I got home, I just wanted to stay home, which was what I did. Tim wanted to watch Gladiator, so that's what we did... after we went to go pick up Maik (that's pronounced Mike for us non Germans) and some Blue Bell. I finally got to try some of that Bailey's Irish Cream I got a few weeks ago. Put that shit in the ice cream, a little milk, it was, as the kids are saying these days, quite awesome.

I'm speaking with Robert right now online. He's my friend from ETBU who went to Spain on a whim this summer, and is now living in Florida on a whim. I love this guy. He's one of the people that I can talk about ANYTHING with. It's great.

Well, I need to do some cleaning. For a while there was a good balance between how much Tom cleaned and how much I cleaned. The scales, however, are slowly starting to tip back into his favor. So, it's time to get started.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Well, now I'm off from work.

I just can't seem to get rid of this fucking cold I've had for almost two weeks now. I thought I was getting better, but tonight I started coughing like nobody's business. I haven't been to a doctor in over 8 years, I think. I don't even know where to start. Can you get a doctor over the internet these days? Are there even real doctors around, or do robots do all that stuff now?

That's a crazy thought. The last time I visited a doctor was back in '95, and I had just heard about the internet. Holy shit, this thing has taken over the world. I remember being in the ETBU computer lab, and someone saying "hey, have you set up your email yet?" And I said "huh?" Then the email came, then porn (not that I've ever seen it, I've just heard people see it on the internet :), then this blogging stuff. What's next? Who knows?

Well, Ben's out of town to the ACL music festival this weekend. I think Tom's gone as well, but his car is still here. Maybe he's going tomorrow. Maybe he's already gone with somone. Not sure what Tracey and Wesley are up to this weekend. Tim's probably studying or doing chaplain stuff. Kyle's in town, but still working on sermon shit. I guess when I get off of work tomorrow at 3, I'll just come home and do nothing. I really need to finish the Eggers book. And the Life of Pi. And The Bottoms. And Elvis, Jesus, and Coca Cola. And The Last Jihad. I'm in too many books right now.

It sucks having to go to bed now, knowing in less than six hours I have to do this all again.

Hey, if your still reading this, thanks. Much love. Seriously.
Well, I'm off to work. Wish I had more to say. But I don't.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

I just had one of the most jacked-up dreams ever. Took a little nap between my meeting at work and when I have to go back to work.

Here's the dream.

It started off with me watching the E! True Hollywood story of Gunsmoke. One of the stars of Gunsmoke, in my dream, not for real, was Eva Mae Coleman, my grandmother. The story was telling the dilemma the writers faced when Eva Mae's health started to go south. What would they do with her character? They eventually had to deal with her death. So they had her character in the show die. But, ironically, my grandmother died on the same day that her Gunsmoke character died. (Incidentally, my grandmother isn't dead-- just very sick.)

Somehow I found myself out on a western ranch, just weeping at the beauty of it all, thinking about how my grandmother never got to see the ranch. Not a real one anyway. Just the one on the set of Gunsmoke.

I was at the graveside of my grandmother's, but never actually went up to the service, because the rain created floods around the gravesite. As I was leaving the graveyard, some guy yelled to me that he needed a ride to Tyler. (I think we were in Dallas at the time.) So I decided to give him a ride. Actually, I decided to let him drive my vehicle, which was actually my dad's truck. We were driving through a massive storm. As we were driving, I was reflecting on my life, and thinking about the large mansion I lived in. (Which wasn't the house I'm really living in.) After a while of introspection, I looked over, and realized who the guy was that was driving-- it was Tobey Macaheean. Or TobyMac (and the mack is back no slack.) I freaked out inside, but tried to play it cool on the outside. I asked how the tour was going. I tried to pretend that I listen to his music, although I'd never heard anything of his other than one song, and other than DCTalk stuff. Eventually, I told him that he could let me off here in Waco (although we were on Spur 269- connecting highway 31 and loop 323 in Tyler.) So I got off and started walking. At this point, the storm had ceased, but the clouds were still in the sky.

I found myself walking along the spur, not sure where. Regina Meza, who, in real life, works in the cafe' at Barnes and Noble, began walking beside me. We were just chit chatting, then I remembered something-- Regina was in DCTAlk (in the dream, not in real life.) I remembered that it was TobyMac, That black guy, and Regina Meza (not quite sure how I left Kevin Smith out, since he's the only former DCtalker I've actually heard any music from.) I asked Regina what was going on with her. She got this excited look, like she had a secret but just had to tell someone. I guessed the secret and said "Holy crap Regina, is DC Talk getting back together?!" I'm really not quite sure why this excited me so much. She said that they are talking with their management, and that we should hear something soon. She was really hoping it would work out, since she hasn't quite made as much money in the Barnes and Noble cafe' as she had touring with DCTalk.

And that was the end of my dream. I woke up because I had to take a piss.
So, here's where all that may have come from:

I watched the E! True Hollywood Story on Gimme a Break today, where they explained the need to write around the lead male character's cancer.

I visited my grandmother a couple of weeks ago in the nursing home, and it was the first time that I saw her that she wasn't my grandmother.... just one of those people we see in the nursing home that we feel sorry for.

A few months ago I started watching Gunsmoke again, since it was my grandfather's favorite show.

The storm probably came from hurricane Isabel.

A couple of days ago I heard a TobyMac song, my first ever, and actually liked it.

Regina was working in the cafe' this morning when I came in for my meeting.

Thinking of my mansion probably has something to do with Tom building that place near campus, and the possibility of me moving.

I'm pretty screwed up, it would seem.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

"This sure doesn't feel like island living."

Some of the most spiritual moments occur in my life when I find myself having been smiling for some time without really consciously noticing it. That happened this evening when I was watching "About a Boy." It's a wonderful movie. All about a guy who really believes his life is better without any meaningful human relationships, until he opens up his heart to a boy that needs a sort of father figure.

Well, my day of vacation is about over. I need to get some rest. Long day tomorrow. 9-1 I'll be in some sort of training. I go home and come back at five until we close. I'll be worn out.
Well, Jason called and said he isn't coming. He did the Jason thing and made it look like my fault that he's not coming, since I didn't call him this morning. I think he wants to go home to see his family, which I understand. You've got to do what you've got to do.

So, I have the afternoon free now. Perhaps I'll start working on a sermon. I'm preaching in October. And if the next few weeks are anything like the past few, I'll be real busy with other stuff.
This is my first day off since last Monday. I woke up this morning about 5 a.m., played on the internet for a few minutes, watched a Seinfeld that my friend Tivo recorded for me, went back to bed, woke up at 8, started watching my story (that would be, the E! True Hollywood Story) on Sam Kinison, also courtesy of Tivo, fell asleep about a quarter of the way through that, woke up around 10:00. I'm already a little refreshed.

Today should be fun, and interesting at the same time. My friend Jason Fortenberry is visiting. He's a pastor in South West rural Louisiana and a friend from my year of working at ETBU. Haven't seen him in probably three years.

Also interesting is the fact that Mark Penick will be in town at the same time. Mark, as I like to tell people, is the best friend I've ever had that I absolutely cannot stand being around. I'll actually consider it an accomplishment if I can make it through the day avoiding him altogether. He's here to speak to Jason's youth group. Probably about God's glory, or some shit like that. I saw Louie Gigleo Monday night. I don't need to see him again.

I'm going straight to hell, I know it. But at least Coffee and Culture is tonight, so there's a little redemption for me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

At this particular point in my life (that would be today) these are my favorite things, people, facts, ideas... in no particular order:

-- The Joe Schmo Show
-- The fact that my mom is going through a phase where every day she sends me one of those email cards, for no particular reason.
-- Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake at the Barnes and Noble cafe'.
-- Susan Matthes is back in America.
-- Illuminate.
- Especially How Great, Intoxicating, and Revolutionary Love.
-- Next week, "Ed."
-- Kyle, Jen, Avery, Jude, Sutton.
-- Brent wants me to read a book with him.
-- Next month, vacation.
-- Thinking about cold weather.
-- UBC.
-- Tomorrow Fortenberry is in town.
-- Thinking of growing old.
-- The situation with you know who and you know who.
-- Ben blogging. (You rock!)
-- Kent Haruf has a new book in a few months.
-- Being able to say "a few months" and it no longer feeling like an eternity.
-- Freedom from ambition.
-- Shema.
-- The fact that I haven't had to go grocery shopping in more than a week.
-- Freedom to explore and experience irony.
-- Freedom from irony.
-- New boldness to share feelings.
-- You.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

I am a Christian.

I had some friends, old and new, come over after church for leftover taco soup. When they went home, I was left in the den in a very introspective mood. Listening to Sarah MacLachlan's "Building a Mystery" and David Crowder's "Open Sky," I came to this wonderful conclusion..... I am a Christian, and I'm totally ok saying that now. For several years I have not been comfortable saying that. Fear of being identified with certain groups of Christians kept me from proclaiming who I am, even to myself. I made up all kinds of cute little phrases like "I consider myself a follower of Christ," or "I am someone seeking God." But now, reflecting on how God has chosen to incarnate himself to me in the context of His people, I can say, unashamedly "I am a Christian." To be sure, I'm not like every other Christian. In fact, it's quite possible that I'm not like any other Christian. But that doesn't take away from this fact.... I have made a choice, responding to God's initiative, to follow the ways of Christ.