Saturday, July 31, 2004


Both Myles and Keith have recently posted very interesting entries regarding a Christian's role in politics. Check them out.

And somewhat related, here's what's been on my mind...

I've been alive for eight presidential cycles. Growing up in a very political family, I can remember six sets of political conventions, and vividly remember five of them. Each one mesmerizes me more than the previous. Sure they have become much more scripted and predictable. (Back in '88 Dan Quayle hadn't even been selected as the veep nominee until a day of the Republican convention had already passed.) But the excitement and speeches and hats and buttons still make me happy.

And a little upset.

The purpose of each party's convention is severalfold. But one fold is this-- Make the other party look either a.) Stupid, b.) Inept, c.) Dangerous, d.) Sinister, e.) Misinformed or f.) any combination of the above.

Which is fine if I were an undecided voter, but I'm not. Aligning with a political party makes the attacks a little more personal. I'm a Republican. My parents modeled loyalty to me. So I'm loyal. They modeled being a Democrat to me, so I'm a Republican. (I reacted then converted at the age of 20. I was baptized in the Republican Revolution of 1994. Hallelujah, Amen.) You could say I blindly follow a candidate based on the letter in front of their name on the ballot, but you'd be misinformed. I've aligned myself with quite a few of the values behind a letter on the ballot, and tend to vote for the candidate who also aligns themself behind that particular letter.

And so I watched the Democratic convention with interest. And, for the first time ever, I watched it with open eyes. I wasn't interested in finding flaws or inconsistencies. I was really interested in the people talking. I was fascinated, if not a little put off, by Al Sharpton's speech. I marveled at the articulateness and passion of Baruch Obama. I resonated with John Edwards. I worked while Kerry spoke.

But the whole week the convention, coupled with Michael Moore mania in Waco, made me feel something that I just pinpointed last night-- cornered. It was almost as if the whole world in unison turned their heads in my direction, looked at me in disgust, and said "How could you support this president? How can you call yourself a thinking Christian and align yourself with this stupid (or inept, dangerous, sinister, misinformed) man? Don't you know how bad this man is for the poor? Don't you know how bad this man is for the environment? Dont' you know how bad this man is for the world? Look at yourself, you pitiful, mindless person."

And my knee jerk reaction is to be angry and respond in kind, calling the Dems the worst cussword in Waco, TX-- Liberals. I want to bring up Clinton's moral failures and talk about Kerry's "I voted for the 87 billion before I voted against it" comment and Edwards being a trial lawyer. But I don't. I remain silent.

Mostly, though, I just want to ask questions. I want people to tell me the credible primary sources they have read and researched that tell them that the Democrats are better for the environment and for the poor and for the world. I want to see evidence that between 1992 and 2000 the skies and rivers were clean and suddenly in January of '01 the smog appeared and fish started dying. I want to see evidence that the economic difficulties of the past few years are a result of Bush's policies and not Clinton's. I want evidence that the thousands dying in an Iraq struggling for freedom and human rights is somehow a more evil (or stupid or inept or sinister or dangerous) situation than thousands dying in an Iraq under the repressive rule of an evil dictator.

But I don't push the issue.

You want to know why?

Because everyone has an answer. Everyone has read something or seen something or heard something that supports their beliefs. Everyone is, or has, an authoritative and empirical source.

So here's what I'll do. I'll vote for Bush. You vote for who you'll vote for. I won't call you names, you don't call me names. Our candidates and their surrogates will do enough of that for all of us.

And perhaps the answer to the Christian in Politics dilemma is this: If your a Democrat, be a Democrat. If your a Republican, be a Republican. If you're something else, be something else. As Christians we should have the same ends in sight. Ends that we work for regardless of how much we disagree on who should occupy the house on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Quickies... (remove minds from gutters)

If brevity is a virtue then I'm not very virtuous because it normally takes me a long time and many unnecessary words to convey the thoughts in my head into words, whether or not the said words are in print or paper or are, in fact, actually said, as evidenced by this extremely long sentence.

Which is why I haven't posted much in response to some of the many theological and political discussions being had by my friends Aaron, Shane, Luke and others.  But here I will practice one sentence responses to things I've wanted to say.  So here goes.  I get graded on brevity...

On Luke's (and probably Aaron's) belief that propositional truth really did exist and was vital before the Enlightment...

Being on this side of such a monumental epistemological shift as the Enlightment, I feel it's impossible to assess whether or not that's true.

On the belief that postmoderns don't believe in truth...

Most informed postmoderns hold to the belief that there is no universal and objective standard by which to determine truth, not that truth is nonexistent.

On the Reformation...
I think it's a little ironic that there are at least three "solas" preached in reformation theology.

On critiquing and analyzing churches that interact with postmodern ideas and methods...(this one will be hard to do)
I've come to realize (even though it's taken me a while to refrain from this) that even friendly analysis and critique of a particular church or denomination from the outside, while may seem to be healthy and informed, can come across as very invasive and rude.  Ergo, in critiquing "postmodern churches" (even though I think that is a misnomer,) it's easy to forget that you are critiquing not just a movement or a belief system,  but the community of people that I love passionately and have chosen as the people to walk alongside as I seek to follow Christ.

(alright, I get an 'F' for brevity on the last one.)

On all of these conversations...

I know it is helpful to dialogue, but the sense animosity and a desire to "win" seem to be to be at the heart of many of them, rather than a desire to understand and grow. 

On why I'm a Republican...
Among other reasons, because my strong conviction that abortion is murder is not taken seriously in the Democratic party, a party that I agree with on many issues.

On why I'm quitting this...
Because I just realized I'm doing what I have become weak at, which is articulating my beliefs.  Give me some time and I'll have more stories to tell.  That's where I believe Truth lies.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The Funeral...
Although I had only had a few small, random conversations with Dr. Conyers I decided to go to his funeral today.  I work with his son-in-law Luca, who embodies the virtues of decency, kindness, and hard work more than most people I know, and used to work with his daughter Emily whose smile and laugh can melt the hardest of hearts.  Dr. Conyers knew me as the guy he met in the stairwell at Truett, and the guy who Kyle Lake introduced him to about a year later at UBC, and the guy who always said 'hi' in the bookstore.  The sporadic nature of our meetings and the many people his vocation required him to constantly meet and interact with probably rendered it impossible for him to remember my name.  That's ok, though.  There are dozens of people running around this town that I've met dozens of times in different settings whose names I have no recollection of.

But I do have a memory of him, even if it isn't wrapped up in deep personal involvement.  About a week ago Dr. Conyers limped into the store just to look around.  He was a shadow of his former self.  Thin, emaciated.  He disappeared into the stacks of books and came out with Bernard Lewis' masterpiece "The Middle East: The Last 2000 Years."  One of my greatest joys is seeing a customer with a book I have read and commenting on it.  It connects me to people in ways nothing else will.

When I told Dr. Conyers that he had a great book in his hand, he replied by saying "I hope so.  I feel there's so much more about the history of the area that I need to know."

Days away from death, the man's curiosity was still digging.  His mind was still on a treasure hunt.

Well, he's found his treasure and I'm inspired to seriously read Lewis' book, not just the highlights.

There was something special about being at the funeral of a man I hardly knew because it gave me the opportunity to examine my own life and to be affected by the words of others and learn again by the words of those close to him the things that are really important.

Sitting next to Jason and in the same room with Christy and knowing that Kyle was also there somewhere, while listening to Dr. Conyer's brother and son and lifelong friend made me think about this:  One day, hopefully many years from now, I will stand up at the funerals of friends, and they will stand up at mine, and we will give an account of each other's life. 

 We will speak of years spent together. 

We will talk about how we made each other laugh and how we tried our best to help each other find God. 

We will remember the little things said that the sayer forgot, but that altered the course of our lives forever. 

We will speak of the silent moments together, the moments that needed no words to legitimize as holy moments. 

We will openly tell of our love for our friends, and yet silently regret the many missed opportunities of verbalizing those words.

We will remember the special seasons of friendship, and yet grieve over times of estrangement when circumstance and misunderstandings kept us apart. 

Mentioning the quirks and oddities of our friends will bring laughter to the room, each one pointing to the things we lack and long for in ourselves.

At that moment we will understand the brutally intense power of words that seemed to be just mere words before that day:  Loyalty.     Laughter.  Grief.  Tears. Friendship. Love. 

And the best I can hope for, and work my ass off ensuring, is that years spent in relationship will be worth the sentimentality of that moment.


Saturday, July 17, 2004

Real Live Preacher...
This post from is a thing of beauty.  Check it out.
(doesn't look like the link is working... try it here:
My Dream...
I had one of those really real dream last night.  Dont' you just love those?  If they aren't nightmares, that is. 
I was at a dinner with the cast of Friends when, all of a sudden, I realized that I was a part of the cast of Friends.  I had been a part of the show and I knew everyone and had stories to tell about the years gone by.  But periodically throughout the dream the cast of Friends turned into, and out of, my real friends.  Jennifer Aniston turned into Wesley, Matthew Perry turned into Kyle, Matt LeBlanc-- Ben, Monica was Regina from work.  That was all, everyone else stayed the same.
We were all there for Jennifer Aniston's (Wesley Carlin's) going away party.  (Which is where the dream is rooted in reality, since Wesley will be moving to Los Angeles soon.  Hey, Los Angeles?  Hollywood?)  At one point I made a fool of myself in front of the cast of Friends by saying, "I just dont' know what I'm going to do without Rachel, I mean, Jennifer around.   Where will my legitimacy come from?"
Any armchair psychologists care to take a stab at that one?
Got up at 8:00, messed around, went to work out, sitting around now waiting for 3:00 to come, which is when I go to work.  I also work tomorrow (during the day-- my rare Sunday morning shift) and Monday.  I worked the past two days as well.  So, technically, although this is Saturday, it feels like Wednesday.  Oh, the life of retail. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

My Affliction...

If I'm afflicted with any kind of mental disorder it's this: I remember the most random places at the most random times. I can be at work shelving a book or doing work on the computer, or at home opening the door, or walking to my car, it doesn't matter, at least three or four times a day particular places race to my mind with no rhyme or reason whatsoever. Here's a list of a few that have occured in the past couple of weeks:

1. A gas station/restaurant across from Cayuga High School in Cayuga, TX. Cayuga is located somewhere between Palestine and Corsicana in Anderson County, not to far from the Henderson, Navarro, and Freestone county lines. (It sure makes one sound country when they speak of counties, doesn't it.) There's no more than a few hundred people who live there, but they have a school. I've been there once. Me and a friend and my dad ate an amazing hamburger at this little gas station across from the school before we went to see Brownsboro play them in basketball. Nothing eventful about that, we were going to games every week. But for some reason that place has come to my memory lately.

2. A mechanic's family house outside of Wichita Falls, TX. Many years ago my friend Brent lived in Oklahoma City and my sister had some crazy friend who lived in Wichita Falls. The plan was to drop her off in Wichita Falls and head to Oklahoma from there. My truck broke down outside of W.F. I had to call a tow truck who took my car to his garage and told me it would be days before they'd have the parts to fix it. So I called Brent, who drove down from Oklahoma city to come get me. It was in the evening, and the tow-truck driver, not wanting me to have to wait outside of his garage, invited me to his how for dinner with his family. Being 19, I didn't take danger into the equation. But he was a nice man with a nice family in a very modest part of town. That was ten years ago and it came to my mind a few days ago when I was taking the trash out.

3. First Baptist Church, Mixon, TX. A girl I liked in high school, who was a city girl (from Tyler) was in the youth group of one of my teachers. The teacher, knowing I liked this girl, invited me to one of their youth group's puppet shows. It was in Mixon, TX. Population next to nothing. It was a Sunday night and I was scared driving there because it was in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road in the forest. I was helping a customer the other day and thought of that place.

4. The porch of some one-legged old guys porch miles out in the country. This is a weird one. When I was a kid my dad used to take me out for long country rides on Sunday afternoons. One day we were off the beaten path and saw a one-legged guy sitting on his porch, so dad decided we'd go and say high to him. So we hung out and visited for a while. Why is this weird? I was three. My dad still can't believe I remember it, but I do, and I did earlier today as I was cooking peanut butter pie.

Monday, July 12, 2004


About three or four years ago I made a declaration that I have stood by loyally, until now. And that statement was this: The Gilette Mach 3 is the greatest invention of mankind since the Rubiks Cube.

Well, my friends, the people of Gilette are at it again, and my statement will need to be modified a bit: The Gilette Mach 3 Power is the greatest invention of mankind since the Gilette Mach 3 and the Gilette Mach 3 Turbo. I needed razor refills, went to Wal Mart on my way back from eating a snow cone, and what did my unsuspecting eyes see but a new Mach 3 on the shelves. I decided to shower tonight instead of in the morning just so I could test it out. And right now my face is as smooth as any other surface people consider smooth.

I knew you would want to hear that.


It was a pretty uneventful day. I put 75% off stickers on books and then I, wait, no, that's really all I did. It was redundantly fun


I made a comment yesterday about Baylor girls...Bear Trail...Eating Disorder insinuations... Daddy's money, etc. If that offended you I apologize. It's no secret that there are bitter feelings toward Waco's institution of higher learning, and I tend to take it out on the easiest targets. So please keep running and accept my apologies. And one more thing... Austin Avenue is a good place to run as well. Just leave me your schedule.

God in the Music...

In a couple of weeks I get to give the sermon in our God in the Music series. I'm considering using the video for Mindy Smith's "Come to Jesus." Check it out here and tell me what you think. Other options are songs by Sarah McLachlan, Emmylou Harris, or Bruce Springsteen.

How to be a Christian...

I watched the final episode of The Surreal Life 2 this evening. Let me just say that I think Tammy Faye (Bakker) Messner provided a great example of how Christians should treat those outside of the church. If you haven't seen it, check it out the next time it's on VH1. Try to get past the crying and the makeup and the obnoxious voice, and notice how she genuinely grows to love the people in the house (actors, former rap stars, a porn star) sans an agenda of any kind. It's really a thing of beauty.


I'm off to bed. I think Brad Paisley's "Mud on the Tires" cd will be what I put in my headphones to put me to sleep.


Sunday, July 11, 2004

Back to the Grind...

I've been a lazy blogger, but I'm going to try to stop being lazy. I spend what little creative juice I have on an ETBU alumni board and have neglected this. The next few days will probably be just a bunch of rambling, but it's probably necessary to get my footing and to get back in the habit, so bear with me.

The Weekend...

This has been a wonderful weekend. About once every three or four months the stars will align and I'll have a normal weekend where I get off of work at 4:00 on Friday and don't go back until 7:00 a.m. on Monday. Working retail makes that such a rare happening, but it's rarity makes it that much more special.

I spent most of Friday night and Saturday hanging out with Jason and Christy who have been housesitting out in Woodway. That was so refreshing and healing for me. I haven't really had contact with a lot of people this summer. I've kind of been a recluse, going from work to workout to home to bed. I felt like a kid again, hanging out with friends on a Friday night and then, not having anything in particular to do on Saturday, hanging out with the same friends again. From Friday night to Saturday night we all watched two movies, Jason and I spent Saturday hanging out at my place then eating at a hole-in-the-wall bbq place then playing Madden for a couple of hours then playing tennis in the heat. In between that was good conversation, laughing, and sharing very sacred, silent moments. It was holy ground. Seriously.

The Big Thing...

Well, most of you who have seen me over the past few weeks have noticed and commented, so I guess I'll finally take time to address it on my blog. To answer your questions, in 3 pounds I will have lost 50 pounds. I have diet shakes when I don't want to cook or go out (which is a lot these days.) I've given up Dr. Pepper, except when I am eating out, then I treat myself. When I do eat real meals I'm eating less. I understand that food is a social event that creates and reinforces bonds, so when I go out I don't do anything different than I normally do-- I eat what looks good and a lot of it. Oh yeah, and about an hour a day (and I'm up to 10 miles in an hour) on an elliptical machine at the 'Y', walks around the neighborhood when I'm bored, and a lot of water. That's about it.

Why? In January I saw a picture of me at Jason and Christy's rehearsal dinner and told myself "Whoa, that doesn't look good." So I told myself I didn't want to look like that anymore. So there you have it.

I appreciate and enjoy the comments because they make me feel like a rock star. But they are a double edged sword because, in my mind, a positive comment about my thinner self is a negative comment on my fatter self, and why are you making negative comments about me? I'm kind of a girl that way.

If you've never struggled with weight it's hard for you to understand what many of us go through. I'm someone with pretty good self-confidence and it's difficult for me to talk about and discuss weight issues. I can't imagine what people without solid communities go through.

Some people feel sorry for the girls (and guys) on the Bear trail who struggle with self-image and are running from the body that society hates and toward the one it reveres. I don't have that much sympathy for those types. Mostly because those people have daddy's money and should be using it for a good therapist. I feel more sorry for those, like myself, who are not trapped in a cage of perfection created by wealth and status, but rather a cage of poor eating habits carried throughout the generations.

But anyway, that's all I have to say about that.

Right now I'm listenign to Wynonna Judd's "What the World Needs Now..." album.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

In Need of Patriotic Emotion...

It's July 4, 2004 and I had to work this afternoon. It was fairly slow, but there were bursts of busy activity that made me wonder "What causes people to want to go to a bookstore and linger around on a very beautiful day meant to celebrate the birth of our country?" I guess there are people without people to be with. But more than that, I think there is less genuine concern for patriotic ritual here in the city than in other places. (Yes, I called Waco a city. Because it is.)

I would have liked to have joined up with everyone else and go see the fireworks, but I was too worn out. So I went to the store, came home, and sat down to read the Sunday paper. There's an article by Elie Wiesel in this week's "Parade" called "The America I Love." Parts of it brought me to tears. I looked to find a copy of it to cut and paste so you could read it, but it has not been archived yet. So, with the sound of fireworks coming from the direction of downtown, my gift to America will be to type out some excerpts of it for you to read and discuss.
The America I Love by Elie Wiesel

Ever since that encounter (his being liberated by American Soldiers from a concentration camp,) I cannot repress my emotion before the flag and the uniform-- anything that represents American heroism in battle. That is especially true on July Fourth. I reread the Declaration of Independence, a document sanctified by the passion of a nation's thirst for justice and sovereignty, forever admiring both its moral content and majestic intonation. Opposition to oppression in all its forms, defense of all human liberties, celebration of what is right in social intercourse: All this and much more is in that text, which today has special meaning.

Granted, U.S. History has gone through severe trials (he mentions the civil rights struggles of black Americans, and how many prejudices have been overcome and how, although there is still bigots here and there, anti semitism is virtually nonexistent in America, unlike in many European countries.)

As a great power, America has always seemed concerned with other people's welfare, especially in Europe. Twice in the 20th century, it saved the "Old World" from dictatorship and tyranny.

America understands that a nation is great not because its economy is flourishing or its army invincible but because its ideals are loftier. Hence America's desire to help those who have lost their freedom to conquer it again. America's credo might read as follows: For an individual, as for a nation, to be free is an admirable duty-- but to help others become free is even more admirable.

Some skeptics may object: But what about Vietnam? And Cambodia? And the support some administrations gave to corrupt regimes in Africa or the Middle East? And the occupation of Iraq? Did we go wrong-- and if so, where?

And what are we to make of the despicable, abominable "interrogation methods" used on Iraqi prisoners of war by a few soldiers (but even a few are too many) in Iraqi military prisons?

Well, one cold say that no nation is composed of saints alone. None is sheltered from mistakes or misdeeds. All have their Cain and Abel. It takes vision and courage to undergo serious soul-searching and to favor moral conscience over political expediency. And America, in extreme situations, is endowed with both. America is always ready to learn from its mishaps. Self-criticism remains its second nature.

Not surprising, some Europeans do not share such views. In extreme left-wing political and intellectual circles, suspicion and distrust toward America is the order of the day. They deride America's motives for its military interventions, particularly in Iraq. They say: It's just money. As if America went to war only to please the oil-rich capitalists.

They are wrong. America went to war to liberate a population too long subjected to terror and death.

We see in newspapers and magazines and on television screens the mass graves and torture chambers imposed by Saddam Hussein and his accomplices. One cannot but feel grateful to the young Americans who leave their families, come to lose their lives, in order to bring to Iraq the first rays of hope-- without which no people can imagine the happiness of welcoming freedom.

Hope is a key word in the vocabulary of men and women like myself and so many others who discovered in America the strength to overcome cynicism and despair.

Remember the legendary Pandora's box? It is filled with implacable, terrifying curses. But underneath, at the very bottom, there is hope. Now as before, now more than ever, it is waiting for us.


Let the comment wars begin.