Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Let's Cook!

I love to cook but it is not an easy thing for me. I find that often I end up angry and frustrated and nobody wants to come near me while I'm in the kitchen. It turns out there is a reason. There is a term that chefs use - Mis en place - that basically means everything in its place and ready. It implies preparation and readiness for whatever comes your way. That was where my kitchen work fell down. Fernando describes a professional kitchen as "always teetering on the brink of anarchy"... well, when I'm cooking in my very non-professional kitchen, it is anarchy or at least chaos. I hadn't planned things adequately and suddenly three things needed to be done at the same time and I didn't have the utensil's to do any of them easily accessible.

So where did I learn the term? I picked it up from Fernando's blog who picked it up from The Happiness Project. Isn't the blogosphere wonderful? Just being open and ready can take you to all kinds of wonderful places. And that is the point of mis en place. Fernando looks at it as a prerequisite for creativity. Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project is looking at the concept as it relates to happiness. It strikes me as critical for the Church these days. We're faced with rapid change, impossible social conditions, potential outside of our expectations, and the wonderful possibility that God is in the process of doing something absolutely new. We can't really be ready for "it" because we have no idea what "it" is. We can be sure that mis en place though... that we have done all we can to prepare, that we have the tools in their places and are ready to confront whatever comes our way. Then, when the unexpected comes, we can reach in the correct direction rather than panic. Then when we teeter on the brink of anarchy, we need not fall into the abyss. Then, God won't have to work so hard to bring about the new.

Friday, February 23, 2007

the finger

well, today the splint came off my finger. I have to say that I hesitated to take it off for fear of what I'd discover. The doctor had said that the first concern would be that it was straight, then, that I could bend it, and finally, that it would straighten out again.

Well, it is straight... but I can't bend it. Hopefully that is just the stiffness of being immobile for 6 weeks in a splint and that it will loosen quickly over the coming days. I haven't tried playing guitar with it yet but will do so before the day is over.

Send your good thoughts my way and your prayers God's... if it doesn't loosen up I will be one seriously depressed camper.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Sara Groves

This past weekend, my son John competed in the Southern Sectionals of the CIF in wrestling (high school). They took place oin La Quinta which is about 230 miles from where I live.

I had to go. John is a senior and there was a real possibility that this would be his final high school wrestling tournament (it was). My wife was on call so I had to go alone. So, I jumped in my car and headed for the desert. First I have to say that the desert always captures my imagination. There is something about the stark beauty of the place that just grabs me. I think I'd like to live there sometime but, truth be told, I've not spent any significant time in the desert in the summer. It was close to 90 degrees in La Quibta when I was there but there was still some snow visible on the San Bernadino Mountains... amazing.

Anyway, I spent a bunch of hours alone in the car listening to CDs. I took Sara Groves 2005 release - .Add to the Beauty with me. I hadn't listened to it for some time. It is a wonderful CD - mature themes... literate & artculate. It is really worth a listen if you're not familiar with it. A few lines are still running through my head - "love wash over a multitude of things, make us whole" from When It Was Over and the quote from John Eldridge in Just Showed Up for My Own Life - "the glory of God is a man fully alive." Lots to chew on.

Thank you Sara! I'm really looking forward to your next CD.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

deja vu all over again

For 2 years there have been some who have argued that Bush's next step would be war with Iran. Yesterday, he took a giant step closer to that goal when he said in a news conference that he's sure that the Iranian government is supplying arms to the fighters in Iraq that are being used against US forces. His pledge is, "I'm going to do something about it." We all know that diplomacy is not his strong suit or his first choice so what does that leave?

No, W! We will not allow you to lead us into yet another quagmire. We will not allow you to widen this fiasco into a larger conflict that threatens to destabilize the entire region and perhaps the world. You want to protect our troops? Bring them home! You want to stabilize the region? Negotiate. Show each party what they must do to succeed and get our men and women home.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Doubt and Faith

I came across a wonderful piece on the lines between faith and doubt, certainty and faith at Aaron Ghiloni's blog via Bob Cornwall's blog.

Aaron's words and the discussion are worth a read. Here's a teaser...
When faith says “absolutely” it is holy – wholly different than when certainty says “absolutely.” Certainty’s “absolutely” is an airbrushed supermodel – attractive and unreal.

without a spine

I have voted in every election over the past more than 30 years. During that time, I voted for one Republican and one independent. All of the rest of the times, I pulled the Democratic lever or checked the Democratic box. Now it isn't because I agree with everything the Democrats have done or said. It is because I think their policies are much, much, much closer to the ones that Jesus would advocate. And while there have at times been individual candidates - either independent or Republican - who were closer to what I believe, I think the way our party system works, policies are set along party lines and our representatives and Senators tend to vote in party blocks. So I vote Democratic.

These days though, I'm feeling pretty unhappy. During the first six Bush years it felt as if the Dems had no spine as again and again they capitulated to the little dictator's whims. I thought that after this past election, they would grow spines. After all, the people have soundly rejected Bush and his policies especially around the war. The country has needs - healthcare reform, education, housing, immigration, etc. - but none of these issues can be adequately addressed while we're still bogged down in Iraq. So what do the Dems do? They pass a non-binding resolution!?!? Grow some spines! Do what the people elected you to do and bring home our men and women.

Of course, their fear is that they'll be painted as weak and blamed if any "terrorist" incidents take place on US soil. Again, grow some spines. Do what is right and face the future with convictions.

So what to do? What could the plan be? I think Thomas Friedman in his 2/7 op-ed piece in the NY Times had some great analysis. Here's a long quote...

What is the U.S. interest in Iraq right now? It's to quell the civil war enough so the parties may eventually reach a negotiated settlement, and if that proves impossible, to get America out of Iraq with the least damage to our interests.

We will not quell this civil war with a surge of troops alone. The only thing that will do that is a power-sharing, oil-revenue-sharing deal between the parties. The only way we will get serious negotiations going is with leverage that America does not now have: leverage on the parties inside and outside Iraq. Negotiating in the Middle East without leverage is futile. These folks know how to calculate the balance of power down to the last ounce.

So how do we get leverage? The first way to do that is by setting a firm date to leave - Dec. 1. All U.S. military forces are either going to be home for Christmas 2007 or redeployed along the borders of Iraq, away from the civil war.

The Sunnis, who started this whole murderous cycle, participate in the government, negotiate with us and also indulge the suicide bombers and the insurgents. The Shiites collaborate with us, run their own retaliatory death squads and dabble with Iran. The Saudis tell us we can't leave, but their mosques and charities funnel Sunni suicide bombers to Iraq and dollars to insurgents. Iran pushes its Iraqi Shiite allies to grab more power, while helping others kill U.S. troops. Ditto Syria.

O.K., boys, party's over: we're leaving by Dec. 1. From now on, everyone pays retail for their politics. We will no longer play host to a war where we're everyone's protector and target. If you Sunnis want to go on resisting, we'll leave you to the tender mercies of the Shiites, who vastly outnumber you. You Shiites, if you want to run Iraq without compromising with Sunnis, fine, but you'll have to fight them alone and then risk having to live under the thumb of Iran.

You Saudis and other Arabs, if you don't use your influence to delegitimize Sunni suicide bombers and press Iraq's Sunnis to cut a deal, we won't protect you from the consequences. And Iran, you win - yes, if we leave, you win the right to try to manage Iraq's Shiites. Have a nice day.

Today in Iraq, none of the key parties have to make any choices, and we donĂ‚’t have any choices. That is the definition of "stuck." Right now we can win only if all the parties in and around Iraq act in the most farsighted and flexible manner. Otherwise we lose in our attempt to democratize Iraq, and we're left holding the bag. We need to be in a win-win situation that we control.

Dems... grow some spines. Do what you were elected to do. End this fiasco and bring home our young men and women. Then, get about fixing this country's problems.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


maybe we don't know how it happened...

it seems that the website I referenced in my previous post is a hoax whether serious or parody. The details are here.

I'm still not going to listen to Ted Nugent

We know how it happened

Now we know how it happened, how Ted Haggard became gay and then stopped in only three weeks. It all had to do with the music he listened to! He must have been listening to Rufus Wainwright, Cole Porter, and Metallica which made him gay. And then he listened to The Dresedn Dolls, P.O.D., and Michael W. Smith which made him straight again.

There's a page at a website called lovegodsway (I won't put the link here as the site is so disgusting and offensive, if you want to go there, you'll have to find it yourself) that tells us how people become gay... listening to the wrong music! They have a list of 85 performers that if listened to, will make you become gay! It includes some artists who are known for being gay like Elton John and kd lang but it also includes some very non-gay folk like Frank Sinatra and Ted Nugent! And then there is Ravi Shankar? Surprisingly, Prince is not on the list!

They also have a list of 17 "safe" bands - boy I would hate to be on that list - mostly Christian rock bands although Cyndy Lauper is on there too. I guess it is OK for girls having fun to show their true colors.

BTW, the bands in the first paragraph are on the respective lists. Go figure.

Hey, I know the power of music. Lyrics do make a difference as it influences the way we see the world and melody and rhythm is important as it shapes who we are and carries a message past our conscious mind. I love the beat of some hip hop and appreciated the political content of some early rap but there is no way I'd ever play or listen to some of the racist, misogynistic garbage that is out there. And to whatever degree possible, I try to keep my 17 year old son and the kids in my church youth group from listening to it. I don't want that influence in their lives.

That is what music can do. Listening to music won't make you gay... but it might change the way you look at gay folk or anybody else for that matter. You may suddenly see someone as not terribly different than you - just trying to be loved and to love, to make a difference, to be important, to experience beauty and wonder, even to experience God in their lives... and when that happens, it is a good thing. So, hey, be careful what you listen to, you might end up more compassionate and loving... like Jesus. I guess, I'll listen more to the 85 "gay" bands (except Ted Nugent).

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Ted Haggard again...

Well, the news is out. After 3 weeks of intensive counseling, Ted Haggard has discovered that he is 100% heterosexual. Evidently the "feelings he battled that were contrary to his beliefs" disappeared after these sessions. So now, he is going to become a psychologist.

Well, well, well... I've got a bunch of thoughts about this. First, three weeks? Come on. Commitments might be made. Directions chosen. But a complete re-orientation of who a person is in three weeks. Doesn't happen folk. Now, I know that the crowd who believe that gayness can be cured will say that God can do anything... agreed. But, there are some things that God just doesn't do. God doesn't change a person's skin color. God doesn't change a person's gender. God doesn't change a person's orientation. The news is out and Ted is back in... the closet that is. Poor Ted is in for yet another fall and his family will suffer yet again.

Second, I wouldn't send anyone to see a psychologist who is that filled with denial. Nobody with his theology in the position he was in would have risked everything over a fleeting feeling. The Re. Tim Ralph, one of his counselors is quoted as wondering, "Why Haggard chose to act out in that manner is something Haggard and his advisers are trying to discern." I can answer that quickly and easily. There was something deep at his core going on... he is gay. You don't change that in three weeks of counseling. It may very well be that three weeks of brain-washing has him believing what he is saying, but it will come out again.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

2 K bloggers

I came across a fun page a few days ago - 2000 Bloggers It is just that, a page with the photos of and links to 2000 different bloggers. As of today, I'm on the 4th line from the bottom, one photo from the left column. I've been having fun just clicking on faces that catch my eye and reading their blogs...

The Emerging Church

There have been lots of critiques of the Emerging Church, especially from those on the far right, many of whom see it as heretical and as a threat to their brand of Christianity. Scot McKnight has a great article on the Christianity Today website on what he sees as five "streams" in the emerging church:
Prophetic (or at least provocative)
Praxis Oriented

I guess he spent a great deal of time in evangelical churches where alliteration of sermon points was important... still, he provides a good analysis of the movement from someone who considers himself part of the emerging church and comes to that position from a solidly evangelical background. Its worth a read.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl

I have to say that I thought the colts would win but I didn't think it would be so lop-sided a game. I should have known better... rarely are superbowls good games.

I really didn't watch it for the football though... it was Prince I wanted to see.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Molly Ivins Rest in Peace

Molly Ivins died of cancer yesterday at the age of 62. I loved reading her columns. She was a tireless crusader for I what I think is right but always did so with a sense of humor and an obvious humility. She was a true democrat, not necessarily the party "democrat" but the concept that the power of government resides in the hands of the people. As she said in response to the president, "We are the deciders." I will miss reading her thoughts.

Her final calls were to end the war in Iraq and by inference, to stop one from taking place with Iran. Molly, I will do what I can to follow your lead on these issues. Rest in peace.