Friday, April 28, 2006

Save Darfur, (as well as Uganda, New Orleans, the environment, Iran, and North Korea, and go ahead and get out of Iraq. Oh, and end poverty.)

My fear is that thousands of Africans will die today because of a U.S. administration that has too much on it's plate, and a progressive opposition with the exact same problem.

Case in point: Tomorrow is Invisible Children's Global Night Commute, intended to bring national attention to the atrocities being commited in Uganda. I think this is a wonderful idea and I plan on being there, (if just for a bit-- a scheduling anamoly has me working early on Sunday morning.) The Invisible Children guys were on Oprah the other day, sandwiched in between other stories of importance to Africa. This SHOULD have been a monumental moment in getting the U.S. public educated, in that it would have been timed perfectly with the weekend news cycles, putting it in prominent position on the Monday morning outlets.

The problem? On Sunday millions of people will be rallying on the U.S. Capitol and other places across the country to try to get the U.S. and U.N. to do something about the genocide going on in the Darfur region of Sudan. Because this is something that has been simmering in the public consciousness longer, and because it has celebrity power behind it, Monday morning's headlines will read "Save Darfur Efforts Draw Millions," pushing the Global Night Commute to the back pages.

This is unfortunate, but I guess it's just how it goes in a complicated world. As for me, today I'm calling my two Senators , my congressman to urge them to put pressure on the administration to step up the efforts. I'll also be calling Chet Edwards opponent in the fall's election, Van Taylor, to find out what his position is. I encourage you to do the same.

But take a little advice from a former congressional staffer: There are ways to express outrage without being a dickhead. If you cannot do that, your calls will be in vain. The people who answer the phones in these offices have very difficult jobs-- the last thing they need is to hear some amateur policy wonk who thinks they know more than anyone else demean them by being patronizing.

Two more random things about this:

-- I caught the Katie Couric interview with George Clooney and his dad this morning, and I enjoyed it. I am a little pissed off that the NBC execs didn't let Ann Curry do the interview. Curry has lobbied the powers that be to let her have more resources to bring more attention to humanatarian crises around the world, and she's done a great job.

-- Buried underneath the Clooney news and the march this weekend was the Executive Order passed by the President yesterday imposing sanctions on any person, country, or entity that aids the Janjaweed or the Sudanese government. I don't believe in the "liberal media" argument, but I am disappointed that this didn't receive more attention.

(I've got a busy weekend, so I wanted to get this up today.)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Couple of Quotes...

People don't seem to be blogging much these days. I guess the ebb and flow of reality has ebbed, or is it flowed, to where life happens more away from a computer than in front of it. I think that's probably a good thing.

I've spent a lot of time with the Lake kids this week. As physically draining as it is, there is nowhere in the world I'd rather be than with them.

Those kids are hilarious. I thought I'd share a couple of funny stories.

Yesterday we were sitting on the trampoline, resting. Actually, I was resting, they were pretending to rest. I can jump nonstop for about ten minutes and tell them I need a break. They agree it's time to rest, sit down with me, and no joke, literally ten seconds later "Alright, let's jump now!" Well on one particular occasion they decided we'd all sit and talk, like three little miniature cast-of-friends around a coffee cup. I turned the conversation around to how cute they all are. Me: "Y'all sure are cute!" Avery: "I think Jude is the cutest, but, actually," ('actually' is Avery's favorite word right now')"Sutton's pretty cute too." Me: "You're cute as well. Do you think I'm cute?" Avery: "No, you're not cute." Me: "Am I handsome?" Avery (with 100% honesty, but also trying to make me feel good): "No, you're not cute OR handsome. But you ARE funny!"

Gee, Avery, thanks.

The other incident happened on Tuesday night. I had just given the boys a bath. We were in their room and I was trying to chase them down to get them dressed, but they wanted to just run around naked (like I do when no one is home.)* Avery walked by and yelled "Oh my goodness! There are penises all over the place! I don't want to be looking at so many penises!" Jude, trying to help her out, put his pull-up on and yelled into Avery's room, trying to communicate that his penis is no longer showing, points to his crotch and yells "Look Avery, I don't have a penis anymore! Ha, ha!!"

With kids there is no need to make up comedy bits. They just serve them to you on a silver platter.

*I really don't do this, so try to get the picture out of your head.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Mr. Humility...

Homeboy Nathan Jennings, my friend and Tennis/Racquetball partner, received the Golden Apple Award from the local CBS affiliate and didn't tell anyone. In fact, I just realized the show was airing as we were playing tennis yesterday. Sly devil thought he'd slip this one past everyone, but oh, no Mr. Jennings, it's on my blog now. Our world must know.

Check it out HERE. You can watch the clip from the list on the right hand side. Just click on "This Weeks Golden Apple Winner."

The Last Best Day (For the Time Being)...

If you are in the Greater Waco vicinity right now (9:30 p.m. Tuesday April 25, 2006,) you should be aware of this: I am proclaiming it a crime to not go outside and enjoy the weather. If you didn't go out after the storm and observe that which was frightening in our midst turn into that which is beautiful when seen from a distance, and lift your arms at least a little to feel the cool air on your skin, I will make a citizen's arrest on your unappreciative ass. Walk to the nearest ditch and revel in the flowing water, chasing the all-to-brief spring, or running from the long summer. Either way the water is between here and there and it deserves your attention. The fee for a season pass of bitching about the hot Texas weather is paid for by a little joy expressed in these rare moments.

Avery Lake started her day, on the way to pre-school by informing her grandmother "I bet my daddy is having a FUN day today with all those clouds in the sky. He's probably jumping from one to the other like they're trampolines!"

I came over and spent the evening with the kids. Avery ended the day at the open door, just after the storm, telling me night-night before she went to bed and I went home. I gave her a big hug, told her I loved her, because you can never say that enough to a kid. She took the deepest breath in the universe, and paused. I waited in anticipation for what she would say. After what seemed like an eternity, another deep breath. And then, "It SURE does smell good outside!"

I think little Ms. Drama Queen is on to something.

Monday, April 24, 2006

A Semi-Private Conversation...

In reading Woltorstorf last fall I knew I was being informed about things that I would only later develop a deeper understanding of. (In case you don't remember, he wrote a collection of ruminations on grief after his son passed away. It's called Lament For a Son and was the best book on grief I read.) Such was, and is, the case with his thoughts that grief brings people together but it also, because everyone experiences it in different ways, alienates those same people who are together.

I am experiencing this to be true and the possible culprit in the general funk I found myself in today. I know what I am feeling and thinking about Kyle and his life and death. I also know how those feelings affect me and what they do to my general mood. But what I don't know are the myriad of ways that you have thought about Kyle today and what those thoughts do to you. You could share and I could share and we may even cry a bit and laugh some and talk about what it means to us , to be living in a world without Kyle, but in the end, for all of us, it is still a deeply personal experience.

These are difficult waters to wade through-- living in the tension between what this all means to us, and what it means to you, and what it means to me. To make it through we all must have a sense of trust in each other. But trust in what? I must trust that you will see the sacredness of this grief-experience going on within me, and that you will tread cautiously and handle with care. And in turn I must earn your trust by treating your grief-experience with the same amount of caution and care.

I shared this with some the other night, but now everyone should know: Although the tears become less frequent and dissilusion has turned into vision, albeit cloudy, in many ways the easy part is over and the hard part has begun. The adrenaline has faded and all we have left is what we choose to give each other. Let's give each other our trust and our continued presence.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Hello, My Name is Craig and...and....

I need your help. I shared this confession with my dinner friends last night, but my situation has become more serious in the hours since. There's something I've been doing for the past few days that has brought an ecstatic pleasure to my life, but every time I finish doing it I feel great shame. No matter how hard I try, I just can't stop. When I finish I tell myself this will be the last time, for real this time, but I keep returning to it daily. I'm so embarrassed sharing this with you but I feel the only way for me to experience true healing and wholeness in this area of my life is to cast the net of accountability as far and wide as I can get it. So here goes.

I've been spending my free time watching the Spring Praise-a-Thon on TBN.

It's gotten out of hand. I'm becoming endeared to Jan Crouch and her purple hair. I am no longer ignorant about people such as Donnie McClurkin and Karen Wheaton. I'm considering purchasing a CD of The Crabb Family (I know, unfortunate name, but don't test the Lord by making fun of it-- these kids are ANOINTED!) I've even been tempted on a couple of occasions to send my seed gift of $7 so I can have it sown back into my life sevenfold.

Men and women of God, pray for me. Go before the thrown of grace and intercede on my behalf for me to be DELIVERED!! from this bondage I am in. I'm believing it, will you believe it for me as well? Soon I will return to the Food Network and MSNBC, I just know God will bring me back, but I need your help. I need your prayers. Do it today, people. Time is passing.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

To help save the environment, and my wallet, I'm trying to drive less. No more coming home for lunch and a quick blog-check. Which is kind of difficult because a lot of times I'm doing my job and wondering to myself, "I wonder if I've received any cool email or complimentary comments on my blog while I've been away?" It has really exposed how narcissistic I am.

But I'm getting some good reading done at work during lunch. Right now I'm in the middle of Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey Into the Evangelical Subculture in America. It has been very enjoyable. The author, Randall Balmer, spent several years visiting and documenting a myriad of different aspects of evangelical subculture. There's some fascinating stuff in there. One of the chapters I read today followed the journey of a Pentecostal (Assemblies of God) preacher in Valdosta, Ga. who became very dissatified with the absence of liturgy and ritual in his congregation. So he began offering communion every week and introducting aspects of the Book of Common Prayer. He was kicked out of his church but began a journey in which he and about 200 of his parishioners from the church he was in, began a church and was confirmed into the Episcopal Faith. Very good stuff. (Here's his church.)

I'm kind of tired but I feel the need to write.

I'm off tomorrow. Weather permitting, (I.E., Lord willing and the creek don't rise,) Jude and Sutton are going to take me swimming. I'll spend the rest of the day resting and hanging out with people.

Hope things are well in your worlds.
It's possible to be in Waco for months, walk among the people, participate in it's commerce and civic life, and never once hear the words "Compound," "Koresh," or "Branch Davidian." In fact, if it weren't for this article in the Trib about current power struggles out there, the anniversary of The Big Event would have passed and I would have had no clue. Yet for the majority of the world the very word "Waco" is equivalent to what happened several miles from here, thirteen years ago.

Most Wacoans, both natives and transplants, like myself, try to keep "Waco" (the event) at a safe distance. Close enough to enjoy the attention, but far enough not be associated with "those kooks."

Yet I must confess, I have always been strangely haunted by the entire Branch Davidian story. Actually, I've had a fascination for quite some time with religious communities on the fringes of society.

Yesterday I read about the late Neal Frisby and his Capstone Cathedral in Phoenix. On the surface Frisby just seemed like your run-of-the-mill pentecostal faith healer with a small, yet dedicated following. When he wasn't holding revival services, however, was a hermit who spent most of his time holed up in this strange looking building, copying prophecies from God onto scrolls.

In college I took a sociology class on minority groups and we spent a week studying religious groups. Of special fascination to me was the Oneida Community, which is no longer around but has fortunately blessed us with some pretty dang good silverware.

Most of us look at these groups as freak shows, and there is certainly just cause for this. But I think my interest in their corporate lives stems from my interest in myself and the people throughout my life who have been Christian community for me-- the people I've found myself with.

We share a commonality with these groups. Most of us believe we know something the rest of the world doesn't know and, regardless of how humble we try to be about it, we think what we have found is the key that unlocks the universe. You know it's true, don't try to deny it.

We all say we gather around One Thing, but deep inspection and honesty reveal the center of our attention is usually around something different, be it a person with a strong personality or an idea that would make us special.

We are grasping at a Utopia, that no-place that exists in our minds and is, therefore, a distinct possibilty, but which never occurs.

I sat in a room last night with My People, hearing words of the efforts we are making to stumble forward in the light we have been given for now. I looked around and for a brief moment, almost undetectable, everything was silent. I was reminded that we will not be the same in just a few months. Most of us will be gone in 50 years and in a hundred, nothing but what's been written.

Koresh went out in a blaze of glory, but he went out and is no more. The Oneidans, becuase their men weren't allowed to ejaculate during sex, slowly faded away and Neal Frisby was buried last year with a small group of people surrounding him. The liberals will keep adding water until they are diluted beyond recognition, and after the conservatives purge their institutions of all who disagree with them they will then turn and begin destroying each other until they are nothing but a bunch of splinters, or rather, kindling. Everyone else will most assuredly be something else.

Which is just motivation to love mercy, do justly, and walk humbly before our God. And laugh a little more and let ourselves cry and to feel everything we are feeling and to read and pray hug and even argue a bit and feel a healthy amount of animosity to people who have wronged us, but to let it all go in do time.

That's what the music is made of.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Per Ben's Request...

I give you strange things you may or may not know about me.

-- When using the urinal in a public restroom, it is impossible for me to pee without first spitting in the urinal. It's been like that for years and I'm not quite sure why it started.

-- As has recently been mentioned, I've been told I have some pretty good looking calves. Well, located just south of those hot things are some of the ugliest feet walking on God's green earth. Both of my big toes point inward and constantly have a buildup of dead skin on them. I try to maintain them but sometimes it's just too much work. I've untinentionally freaked many people out upon the removal of my socks.

-- I dance to the following songs in my car: Kelly Clarkson's Walk Away, Beyonce's Crazy in Love, and Keith Urban's Better Life.

-- As a sophomore in high school I was invited to the prom by a junior. The tuxedo I wore was completely white, with splatter painted purple cumberbun and bow tie. White shoes as well. At the last minute I realized I had no white socks so I had to go with black. And my pants were too short, they came to about an inch above my ankle, revealing the black socks. Next time I'm in Chandler I'll try to get a picture of it to share with you.

-- When I was about six or seven my sister pinned me to the ground and wouldn't let me get up for over an hour. I told her I'd get her back when she least expected it. About a year later I hit her over the head with a metal lunchbox and said "See, I told you, I'd get you back when you least expected it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I got the message a couple of hours ago that my writing group will not be meeting tonight since no one, except for me, has written anything to be reviewed. This is a good feeling because a.) It's nice to have a Monday night free just to rest and b.) I'm normally the one in the group slacking off on the writing.

My Mondays are always full beginning with work in the morning, my afternoon racquetball game (which today changed into tennis) with Nathan, and then the writing group. It's always very tiring but inwardly energizing. Mondays make me realize how much my life has changed in the past six months.

In the past I always shunned the idea of casual friendship. Everyone around me seemed to be fairly close to tons of people while I KNEW tons of people but only wanted to be close to a relative few. I decided quickly if I wanted you to be my friend and I pushed hard to make it happen. (Unlike some girls I know of who had long discussions with each other trying to decide if they wanted to be each other's friend-- like a job interview.) I didn't want here and there, circumstantial conversation. I wanted depth and I wanted intimacy and I wanted it now.

In the months since Kyle died and Jason and Tim moved away, a new world has opened up to me and I am learning to recognize it for the blessing it is. I am seeing that for friendship to be authentic it doesn't necessarily have to be constantly in-your-face and deep. My time with Nathan and the guys in my writing group and the people I have dinner with every couple of weeks has not deepened but widening my perception of what it means to be in relation with someone else. It has expanded how I view love.

I still have my few who anchor who I am and in whom I find my deepest identity as a person. But now I have many more who constantly make waves and toss me about and show me that there is nothing wrong with having friends you primarily play with and others you primarily laugh with and still others you primarily work with. It is these people you see once in a while that make you realize how God shows himself to us in community-- One person and one experience at a time.

(In the process of writing this I've been informed by Ben that I haven't shared any funny stories lately, that I've become serious Craig. I'll sleep on that and try to bring something silly tomorrow.)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Easter 2006...

they spent three years with Him
a thousand sunrises
but yesterday
the sun rose to find darkness
and the darkness stood it's ground

today should be the same
perhaps ten thousand, maybe more
without Him, will they return
to their boats, long forgotten
on that lonely shore?

some left early to do their chores
most lay silent to chart their course

in the distance-- a duet of tears and running feet
coming closer, coming closer

out of breath, out of mind
they share the news, they share the time

He sees from a distance their bewilderment
and He smiles that smile, and he waits for them

He cooks the fish, He breaks the bread
He can't stop laughing, he shakes his head

in His mind the only words, are a silly, incredulous
"So, how's this for closure?"

Friday, April 14, 2006

This evening I attended Dayspring's Good Friday service, which was actually the first I have ever experienced. The only thing significant about the Friday prior to Easter in the town I grew up in was that there was no longer basketball or football games to occupy your time, so you retreated to the television and T.G.I.F.

I wish I could say every part of the service moved me, but it didn't. We filed in, lit candles for what seemed like an eternity, and sang contemplative songs about death and read verses about the crucifixion and how there was nothing about Jesus that would make us esteem him in the least. I knew that is what it was supposed to be about, but I couldn't help but think how cool it would be to lean over to my neighbor and ask "You want me to tell you how this ends? It's good I'm telling you. Just wait until Sunday."

Yet for the first followers, there was no Sunday. Just Friday AND Saturday.

The Saturday part is actually what brought me to tears. As the story of the resurrection was retold in song and verse, and as the sun went down through the windows and the candles were extinguished and I realized we were commemorating Christ's death, the part in the service that reads on the paper "Exit in Silence" occurred, and I was shaken.

One by one people got out of their seats and, in silence walked away.

Jesus died and we walked away.

I feel this shocked me to the core because I don't have the idea of Sabbath embedded into the hardware of my mind. The original followers left to prepare for Sabbath-- Saturday.

How could they do this? How could they be so committed to these rituals that they would leave the body of the man who was their life for the previous three years, just so they could get ready for Sabbath.

I ponder this and I realize, they didn't know.

When Kyle died we became many things and one of them is this: We became a lingering people. In the emergency room and at the memorial service, at the funeral and at the gravesite, we all lingered around for long periods of time. Part of this was to be with each other and part of it was to find out information but I can't help but believe that part of the reason we lingered is this: At the very core of who we are as a people, as the global and local people of The Way, is the knowledge of resurrection.

That first group of Jesus' followers left because they thought that was all there is, so they may as well just return to life as usual. We know different and when someone we love dies we are in on the secret.

As emergent and postmodern and whatever I become, I will never give up on a belief in the resurrection. And, if I do, just count me out of the whole Christianity game altogether. There's no point in it. Without the resurrection I'll just try and make it to Saturday unscathed. I'll then deal with Sunday and Monday as they come.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Clarification...

In sharing my political regrets I feel I may have led some to believe that I've fallen more to the left that what I actually have. (See Janalee and Luke's comments from previous post.)

My regrets are twofold: A.) Buying in to the reasonings given to go to war. (WMD's.) and B.) Buying in to the President's insistence a couple of years ago that things in Iraq are good, when they weren't.

It should be known that I DO think we were justified in going to war with Iraq. It's just that, in retrospect, I believe the reasons we were given to drum up support were suspect, at best, and at worst, fabricated.

Hussein,(remember him? the guy who decided he'd invade a sovereign country and claim it as his own?) as a condition of surrender in the first Gulf War, agreed to unfettered access by weapons inspectors. I.E., we basically said "You let the U.N. have access to your country and we don't blow your ass off the planet." Well, no one doubts he cheated and kicked out, then invited back in, then kicked out weapons inspectors for years. Logic should tell us that he didn't live up to his end of the bargain, so the war is back on. And this is the reason we should have been given for going to war-- To resume the process of liberating Kuwait by bringing justice to Saddam's regime.

Unfortunately Americans have short memories and most people had forgotten about Hussein, so my guess is that it was reasoned that we have to paint Hussein as an imminent threat-- which we know now that he wasn't.

It's kind of like this. One day on our way home from elementary school with my neighbors Eric and Mandy, we decided to have a race. I on the left, Eric in the middle, and Mandy on the right, we took off. Of course in a matter of a second I was looking at their backsides. Mandy was about to win so Eric tripped her, causing her to cry. Afraid, both Eric and I ran off and left her there yelling at us that she was going to tell her dad. (We were afraid of her dad.) The next morning my dad came home from working the graveyard shift with Mandy's dad, and he was furious. Without even saying a word he ran through the door, ripped off his belt and headed toward me. In one instant I knew what was going on and all I could do was yell "It wasn't me! It was Eric! I was too far back!" But it was to no avail. My tail was beet red in a matter of seconds.

Several years later my dad, through a series of events, found out the truth, but refused to apologize to me. He said there were other things I had done as a child that deserved a whipping when one never came.

Was it a wise decision by my dad to punish me without all the facts? No! It was horrible parenting. It also showed a lack of wisdom and maturity in that he could not bring himself to admit making a mistake.

But, was my dad correct in his assertation that there were probably other good reasons for me to feel the pain of the belt? 100% correct. I deserved a whipping, just not for the reason I got it for.

And this is the analogy I use, knowing full well that it falls apart on many levels.
My regrets are the reasons given, and the haste in which the war was carried out-- not in the actual war.

I do realize I stand on shaky ground when it comes to balancing my faith with my politics. I don't think that embracing "emergent ideals" automatically requires that I move to the left politically. I believe it requires that I treat everyone with grace and respect and that I really, with as much sincerity and guenuiness as I can muster, listen to opposing viewpoints. It means that I have to be at least a little willing to say "I see your point, and I think it's possible I could be very wrong." Several years ago when the war was beginning, I was not like that, and those are my regrets.

A local pastor a couple of years ago wrote a column in the Waco Trib in which he stated, "I think Jesus was a pacifist. Unfortunately, I find it hard most of the time to trust God enough to be a pacifist myself." This is the tension I find myself living in.

I have more thoughts, but right now I'm tired. Waking up tomorrow to spend the morning with the Lake kids, so I need my rest.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Few Tidbits...

-- I've been a Department Manager at Barnes and Noble for about three years now, and today was the first time I got cussed out. It was wonderful! I really did enjoy it because the customer was a total ass and I could care less if he came back in the store again. The details would take me being a little more alert, but I'll just say it centered around him not having a telephone and bitching about us not contacting him.

-- Tim is in Texas from Germany and will hopefully be coming into Waco tomorrow. He'll then leave for East Texas again and be back for Easter. I'm super excited about seeing him and Isabel.

-- I kind of thought my Dixie Chick post from the other day would have elicited a little more response than what it did. Has anyone actually listened to the song? Are you shocked that I backtracked on some of my previously held beliefs?

-- When I returned from my trip last week I began adding to my running a little weight lifting. I've relearned something about lifting weights that has always been a part of me-- I HATE IT! It sucks big time, but I think I need to start doing it.

-- Get this: My parents were so worried about me because I didn't call them for the few days I was gone (mostly because my phone was off) that they called MY WORK to see if I was ok. It's like I'm at summer camp and they had to call the camp counselors.

-- Speaking of my parents. I watched a couple of recorded episodes of the new show Sons and Daughters this evening. It wasn't as funny as I thought it would be but it hits home hard. It is a PERFECT picture of the strangeness of families.

-- I'm off to bed. Catch you later.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Best Hour...

Regardless of when I go to work, I try to be awake by 6:00 a.m. My clock is set for 5:40. Occasionally I rise on the first buzz, but mostly I wait until the 5:49 snooze occurs, and then I'm up immediately. I've strategically placed my alarm on the other side of the room, thereby forcing me to stand up and move the blood around in my body while I hit whichever buttons I'll hit at that moment. This helps me wake up quicker.

I then go into the restroom and take care of my bladder. After that is complete I walk into this room to check my email and to see if anyone has left any comments on my blog, since I'm normally asleep long before most of you sit down to read it. I'll also check, just to make sure there hasn't been a terrorist attack overnight. (That sounds weird, but I'm still in that mindset.)

When all that is taken care of I go to the kitchen to prepare what has become my standard breakfast, and favorite meal of the day: A whole grain bagel with fig preserves and a cup of coffee.

After putting the H-E-B Texas Pecan flavored coffee beans in the grinder I close the kitchen door before I begin the grinding. I do this in hopes that I won't wake Tom up and make him angry, but I suspect this may be a fruitless endeavor, since the noise is quite loud. Beans in the filter, water in the maker, I then proceed to put the bagel in the toaster, take the fig preserves out of the refrigerator and next to the coffee cup and plate that will hold the wonder-meal.

I then stand, and wait. I lean back against the bar, my body equidistant from the toaster and the coffee maker-- the three of us forming the perfect morning trifecta. And I wait. I've got the timing down perfectly. About the time the coffee reaches the line I want it at, the bagel is ready. But I have a couple of minutes before both occur, so I wait.

Within those two minutes I think about a lot of stuff, generally the same stuff. If I'm not going to work until later I plan my morning, (after Texas Today, the Today Show, then a run perhaps?) I think about and wonder if Avery, Sutton, and Jude are awake. If my plan is to see them sometime during the day I smile and I think contained within that smile is hours worth of prayer.

When the pot is full and the bagel is toasted and spread with figs, there is only one thing left to do-- whisper a "Thank You," and a "Help Me."

Monday, April 10, 2006

If anyone cares I have put a link to my Vacation Blog on the right hand side. I'll warn you, though, it's probably not all that interesting. You'll have to wade through some pretty mundane stuff to find anything of worth. It all sounded good when I was writing it, and it means a lot to me because it is a documentation of a wonderful time, but some of it reads like an inventory log.

Just wanted to let you know about the link. I'll try to update it a little each day, but I probably won't mention it here again.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Alternate Ground...

Forgive, sounds good.
Forget, I'm not sure I could.
They say time heals everything.
But I'm still waiting.

-- Dixie Chicks

They're back and they're mad as hell, and regardless of my political leanings, I am happy.

I woke up this morning and after realizing I've already seen this week's Texas Country Reporter, I decided to catch up on some Country Music Television. And there they were with the world premiere of the video for their new song Not Ready to Make Nice. The Dixie Chicks are back on Country Music Television, even if it's only on a Sunday morning when the majority of CMT's audience is in church.

The Chick's new album, Taking the Long Way, which hits stores next month, was produced by Rick Rubin. If you didn't know that before you would have guessed soon enough. As with the Johnny Cash rendition of Hurt, also produced by Rubin, the first chord of Not Ready to Make Nice, (and also the first frame of the video,) gives you the eerie feeling that you walked into something you weren't looking for and no matter how hard you fight against it, you are about to be affected.

Much will be said about how the song is not a country song, and I basically agree. It is heavily laden with a string section and lacks the banjo and fiddle that made us all fall in love with the girls from Lubbock. But it contains within it the essence of what makes a country song a country song: It contains truth. It might be their own personal truth but it is truth and, as Hank Williams said, all there really is to country music is three chords and the truth. It's a song that will make some angry and become an anthem for others. But most people who are honest with themselves should admit it is a great song.

My favorite line of the song says "I made my bed and I sleep like a baby/ With no regrets and I don't mind saying..." This is beautiful because of Natalie Maine's passionate delivery of the line and how it flows into the rest of the stanza. But most beautiful is what I see as unintended irony. This Stick-To-My-Guns attitude bears a striking resemblance to that held by another famous West Texan-- One who has been the focus of the Chick's ire for the past few years.

Both Maines and Bush live in a world where to show regret is to show weakness. And to all those who have West Texas spewing out of their veins, there is no greater sin than weakness.

It probably feels nice to make your bed and sleep like a baby, but I'm just too prone to making mistakes for that to happen every night. I sleep well, but it's not because of a lack of regrets.

There are far more things I like than dislike about our President and his policies, but you already know that and this is not the place to rehash those. This is where I confess my sins and regrets.

I regret sitting in Coffee and Culture and not giving the time of day to those who believed more time for weapons inspections might be the wise thing to do.

I regret that I (and the President and those around him) wanted so bad to believe the intelligence about WMD's that I thought the time was to act, and act now.

I regret supporting the President's insistence a couple of years ago (about a year after the war began,) that things were going well in Iraq, when clearly they weren't.

I regret that the inner circle of the President was so insular that they went days not believing the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina was as bad as it was, when all they had to do was turn on the television to see what was going on.

I regret all the times I towed the party line just so I could say I'm one who is loyal and who sticks to my guns. I regret being like George W. Bush and I regret being like Natalie Maines.

Neither the President nor the Chicks are ready to back down. But I really see a time coming, and I pray it comes soon, where everyone, Democrats, Republicans, Sojourners and the Religious Right abandon their posts and find not necessarily a common ground, but an alternate ground to meet on. It's where the majority of the country meets on a daily basis: Over coffee and at work, at the market and in church.

Perhaps I'm wrong about the rest of the world. But I am ready to back down. I'm still sticking with my President and I'm still sticking with my Chicks, but I'm also ready to make nice.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. It's a temptation every year to be cynical and to refrain from the celebration of Jesus entering into Jerusalem, because we know what that celebration turns into just a few days later. The party hats get put away and we return to the things that entertain us back into our hypnotic states where people don't die and pain doesn't occur. There were tons there on Sunday, a few on Thursday, but by Friday just a small group of women and John.

We are there for the entrance, leave for the cross, and return on Easter to find the pews full.

Oh, there are those who talk about "the blood" and propitiation and substitution a lot. They have systematized the crucifixion into a proposition that is basically the entry requirement to be in their club. "Are you under the blood?"

Yet there are others, and I fear I fall into this category more often than not, that just ignore what happened That Friday. Palm Sunday and Easter have the goodies we all seek, so we live life to the fullest on those days and on Friday hope for at least a somewhat interesting news story on 20/20.

On the front page of the Waco Tribune Herald this morning was the picture of a man traveling across the country with a cross. His cross I assume-- the one he is carrying. At the base of the cross were wheels because, of course Jesus was only being literal with the "Cross" part of the command. "Carry" is open to interpretation. Connected to the Cross-On-Wheels was a little red wagon. A Radio Flyer, I assume. In the wagon sits the man's possessions and riding on top of it is a tiny dog named Lexus From Texas.

My first instinct, like when I heard about a Truett student doing a similar thing, was to laugh and make insinuations and implications at how less intellectual these people are than me, and how I understand the "Jesus Story" much better than these. Yet I ponder this and I come to the conclusion that I wheel my cross around with twice the ease, and therefore half the conviction, as these Cross-Bearers.

None of us understand the cross and this is possibly the most beautiful thing about the cross. The cross is the great equalizer of human history. For those who choose to remain through Friday, and for those of us who retreat, the cross diminishes the proud and exalts the lowly, not to where one becomes higher than the other, but where they are all at equal footing.

Those who are proud of their moral achievements or their commitment to social justice are left standing out in the cold in front of the cross.

Those who are lowly and marginalized receive solidarity with the Almighty because of the cross, but even their lowliness looks like the proud garments of royalty next to His pain. Even the martyr (and there are many aspiring to this job these days) should be not proud because when it comes to death, we all have it coming to us. He didn't and took it anyway.

I'll wake up in the morning and I'll whisper Hosanna. Save. Save me from pride and save me from my condition. Deliver me to you. Even if my deliverance sends me directly to Friday, Deliver Me.

Friday, April 07, 2006

I remember in my college philosophy class reading about this guy who believed that all of reality is constantly changing. Because of this, according to this fellow, it is impossible to step into the same river twice.

Another guy came along and said yes, reality is constantly changing and, because of this, it is impossible to step into the same river ONCE.

The implications of these lines of reasoning are legion. But right now, being sufficiently inebriated enough to contemplate different thoughts, yet not enough to be stupid, I believe it tells us that while everything is always changing, the essence of things remains the same, so each individual smile is eternal.

Which is why dinner with friends is absolutely pure gold.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Trip Blog...

I was going to type out the entire journal at one setting, but that would be too much work for me and too much to read at one time. So I'll post a little each day.

The reason I've done this is because I'd like to share the trip with you all, but I don't want it to take away from whatever I want to write here.

The Trip blog is located HERE.

I worked all day today, went to run, and now I am here. I am feeling exhausted.

Hoping to see some Waco friends this weekend.

Waiting to get my groove back.

I'm Home...

Just a quick post to say I made it home late last night. The Vacation was great. I had a couple of days of quiet solitude out at Caddo Lake, was joined the last night by Corey who provided good conversation and raised the bar on the culinary aspects of my camping trip. I then was in Atlanta (TX) for a few days and had a wonderful time seeing Jason, Christy, and Robert.

I started keeping a journal of the trip immediately when I arrived at Caddo. As I began writing I realized that it's hard for me to write anymore without an audience in mind. It felt like I was writing to you. So instead of fighting the urge, I wrote quite a bit of stuff that I plan on posting. It's so much, in fact, that I'll be creating a new blog in which I only post my journal from the trip. It'll take a while for me to type it out, but look for it in the next few days.

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone and hearing how things have been here in Waco, or wherever you are.