Saturday, September 03, 2005

Dark Waters

Saturday, September 03, 2005 2
In the past week I have seen and heard some of the devastating effects that water can have in ways that I could not have imagined possible in my country. The most obvious example of this was, of course, the hurricane that decimated the Gulf Coast. I have watched and read and listened as the aftermath of this storm has devolved from a natural disaster of Biblical proportions to a hellish nightmare of men at their primal worst. Being from Kansas and growing up with the constant threat of tornados, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of what destruction looked like. I have stood in the rubble of a trailer park after a monster tornado was through with it. Apparently, I hadn't seen anything yet. I thought I had a pretty good understanding of what desperation looked like. I had seen it on TV in the faces of the Tsunami survivors and before that, in the faces of the 9/11 survivors. I hadn't seen desperation like I'm seeing now. I told someone the other day that it reminded me of one of some post-apocalyptic zombie movie. The people in New Orleans are the "living dead" right now. I am shocked and ashamed at the appalling slowness of our government's response to these events. We have been inundated with press conferences and promises but it took 4 days to get the national guard on the ground in New Orleans. We can get troops to Iraq faster than that. That we have allowed what remains of that city to be overrun by looters, thugs, rapists and murderers is a crime in itself and someone should have to answer for that. The fact that we live in the richest nation in the history of civilization and we have hospitals sheltering desperately ill and injured people with no food or water for over 4 days is unforgivable. We are seeing bureaucracy it its very worst and the people of Louisiana and Mississippi are dying because of it. There is no country on earth better equipped to handle an emergency like this than we are and yet they are literally dying in the streets.
In an event closer to home but certainly no less devastating, a little girl drowned last week in Arkansas City. She was 3 years old and left behind her twin sister, a 5 year old sister and both of her parents. I didn't know the family but I work with people who were close to them. As I listened to people relating the details of this awful event and the subsequent funeral, I began pondering what it must feel like to have your soul ripped away from your body like that. I was reminded of a line in an old Don Henley song:
In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute
Things can get a little strange
In a matter of just a few minutes, what began as a beautiful day at the lake turned into a nightmare that one family will not soon wake from. When I contrast these two separate events, Hurricane Katrina and the tragic drowning of little Maya Wells, I am left with one stark truth. We are so small and so not in control of our destiny. I'm reminded of another line from another song:
You were seduced by the wonder of your invention
then laid low by a flick of God's hand
We build extravagant cities with sea walls and levees and canals and somehow suppose that this can protect us from all of nature's God given fury. We build emotional walls and levees in our own lives to protect us from what we most fear. What we discover in every case though, is that these walls dissipate like wet sand when they are hit with the force of something like the drowning of a 3 year old child.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Of mullets and tears in my beer...

Thursday, August 11, 2005 2
One of the ways my life has changed since I bought my mp3 player, is that I am now returning to some styles of music that I haven't listened to a whole lot recently. This week my genre of choice has been country. As I was browsing through my music service I came across this little gem from Joe Diffie. Not only does it contain great songs like "John Deere Green" and "If I had any pride left at all" my man Joe also sports without a doubt one of the all time great country music mullets.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

I'm so sore...

Sunday, August 07, 2005 2
I helped put a sprinkler system in my yard this weekend. I can tell you two things about the experience. First, installing a sprinkler system isn't complicated but it is without a doubt the hardest I have ever worked in my life. Second, you can measure the closeness of your friendships by how those friends react when faced with incredibly hard work that has no immediate benefit to themselves. My friend Curtis, who runs his own sprinkler installation business, spent the entire day with me, his brother Chris and my brother Justin installing a sprinkler system at my house. We worked for about 11 hours on this project. Not once during the entire day did any of these guys complain or act like they didn't want to be there. They did it just because I asked them to and because they all know that I would do the same for them. I have been blessed with some of the most giving friends imaginable and I thank God for them and the closeness we share. Even though I feel like I've been hit by a bus, yesterday was one of my best days ever.

Monday, July 25, 2005

I think I'm gonna be sick...

Monday, July 25, 2005 1
It's been a while since I felt physically ill after reading an article in the newspaper but this account in the Sunday edition of the Wichita Eagle did the trick. Fred Phelps is at it again and (if this is possible) his actions have become even more vile and reprehensible than you could possibly imagine. He is now picketing the funerals of American service men and women who are being killed in Iraq. He says that God is punishing America for a bombing that took place at his "church" several years ago. In addition to his old standard "God Hates Fags", he is now picketing with signs that say things like "Thank God for IEDs" and "They gave America over to fags, they're coming home in body bags". In case you're not aware, IED is military lingo for Improvised Explosive Device. The official warnings that were sent down through the ranks of the U.S. military indicates that they believe Phelps is attempting to incite some kind of violence against himself or his people, in response to which he would file a lawsuit in an attempt to win a monetary settlement that would serve to fund his groups future activities. To borrow a turn of phrase from Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald..."You unspeakable bastard". I have never seen a creature so filled with hatred for the world around him. How miserable it must be to have a soul so tormented with such obvious self-loathing. He reminds me of The Gollum only without any of the sympathetic qualities - he's just a creature who perhaps was once a man. Never was a soul so in need of the redeeming love of Christ...the tragedy of his life is that he has been so blinded by his hatred and by his perverted and twisted interpretation of the Bible that he may never see that need. Pray for the soul of Fred Phelps and all who wallow in his demonic doctrine of hate.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Love vs. Romance

Wednesday, July 20, 2005 0
During my nearly 2 hour commute every day I listen to a lot of music. (It's either that or talk to myself and I'm not planning on starting that for at least a few years.) Anyway, I've been listening to How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb by U2. One of the things that strikes me as both profound and a little surprising, given the state of todays music, is the distinction that Bono makes between love and romance. Although Bono is no stranger to recurring lyrical themes, I think it's interesting that he goes to the same well, so to speak, at least twice on this record.

In "Miracle Drug" (my favorite song on the album) he says:

"...I’ve had enough of romantic love
I’d give it up, yeah, I’d give it up
For a miracle, miracle drug"

In "A Man and a Woman" he says:

"You can run from love
And if it’s really love it will find you
Catch you by the heel
But you can’t be numb for love
The only pain is to feel nothing at all
How can I hurt when I’m holding you?

No I could never take a chance
On losing love to find romance
In the mysterious distance
Between a man and a woman"

Like any good song, these will mean different things to different people, but for me they speak to the temporary nature of romance in general. Unless we fight to keep it alive in our relationships it will naturally fade over time. That isn't to say the romance isn't an important part of love, but it's not all there is. It can't be. I think that what Bono is saying is that romance on it's own without anything behind it or beneath it is really quite empty and unsatisfying. That's not a perspective you hear much in today's popular music. I think it speaks volumes about the maturity and depth that U2 exhibits in their songs.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Harry Potter

Tuesday, July 19, 2005 0
Well, the new Harry Potter book is finally here. I say finally because I, like millions of people around the world, actually enjoy these books very much and I've been waiting for this one pretty much since I finished the last one 2 years ago. There is obviously a lot of controversy about these books, mostly being generated by (I suppose) well meaning fundamentalist Christians who seem to have the notion that the books and subsequent movies are luring young and old alike into a fascination with witchcraft and the occult. At the very least, they are uncomfortable with the subject matter and prefer to err on the side of caution. An approach that I think that is perfectly reasonable, by the way. (The latter, not the former). I just don't happen to share their views on the subject. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who spout off on books/films/music/culture without having any firsthand knowledge of what they are criticizing. I don't think that I could sum up my perspective on this any better than the author of this piece from ChristianCounterCulture.com.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Freda

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 0
Tragic news from the world of radio this week...Freda Wright-Sorce, wife of broadcaster Mike Sorce (aka Don Geronimo of the Don and Mike Show) was killed in a head on collison Sunday evening in Washington DC. For anyone who has listened to this show like I have through the years, Freda's name has become symbolic of everything that was good about the show. She seemed to me (and thus far all accounts of her seem to bear this out) to be a genuinely decent and kind hearted person. It probably seems silly, but radio is such an intimate medium that I actually felt like I had lost a friend when I heard that she died. Don and Mike bring so much of their personal lives to their show that you can't help but feel like you know them personally. Freda and Don fought constantly on the air, but at the end of their conversations you could tell that they really and truly loved each other. They were the epitome of honesty with their listeners and with themselves, even though that wasn't always pretty. My heart goes out to Don, Bart, Mike, Buzz and Robby during this tragic time.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Across the pond...

Friday, July 08, 2005 0
  • First, I want to say that my thoughts and prayers are with our friends across the pond in the UK. I agree with GWB when he says that America has had no truer ally than Great Britain and it broke my heart to see what happened over there.

  • Second, big ups to the G8 crew for stepping up to the plate and at least giving lip service to doing the right thing for the people of Africa. We'll see what happens. In the meantime, in case you had any doubts about how bad things really are over there, check out this link from MSNBC and pay close attention to the pictures that accompany each section. It's an interactive map of Africa that provides you a quick snapshot of the issues facing the countries most in need of assistance right now.

  • Finally, check out this video clip. It's a flash animation piece set to a great song by my favorite singer, Ben Folds. It's really well done plus it's got hamsters which somehow makes it that much cooler. Shalom

Friday, July 01, 2005

Eminent Domain

Friday, July 01, 2005 1
Did anyone else find it slightly unsettling last week when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that "...that local governments have the authority to seize private land and turn the property over to private developers for economic development." Ok, I'm not a lawyer, but I do watch a lot of them on TV, and I have a basic understanding of the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution. Let me see if I can break down my analysis of this ruling into some easy to understand, non-legal type language: WHAAAAAAAAA????? ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME???? You mean to tell me that if my house happens to be in the way of the next GAP or Banana Republic or Heaven forbid, Starbucks, that my local government can just bulldoze my house with no regard for my rights as a property owner? Basically...yes. If the proposed building project will generate a larger tax base for the municipality (and it almost certainly will), the government can now condemn your home to make way for private development. Think about that this 4th of July.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Cradle of civilization

Thursday, June 30, 2005 0
I know there is suffering in some form or another all over the world, but in my estimation, there is not a more decimated or broken people on the face of the earth than the people of Africa. The scope of the human suffering that takes place there every day should be enough to take the breath away from anyone with even a shred of compassion. In a very encouraging move, President Bush is seeking to double the amount of financial aid pledged to Africa from the US by 2010, bringing the total to 8.6 billion dollars. Remember to pray for our president next week as he attends the G8 summit in Scotland that he would have wisdom and grace as he represents us in this meeting of the wealthiest nations in the world. Pray that they would be moved with compassion and do what is necessary to help the people of Africa.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Darkness and disturbing news cycles

Saturday, June 25, 2005 6
In case you haven't been paying attention, the news has been especially horrible the past couple of weeks. Father of 9 guilty of murdering his entire "family" (read the story, the quotation marks will make sense) ...police apprehend molester who kept a log of over 36,000 names of children he abused over the past 30 years...the situation with the missing girl in Aruba is starting to play out like a David Mamet movie...and this just in, 3 missing New Jersey boys are found dead in the trunk of a car parked next door to their house. Sometimes it's hard to even fathom the sheer scope and intensity of the darkness that surrounds us every day. Even though I have largely been spared in my own life from tragedies like these, the stories still shake me to my core. I often get wrapped around the axle, so to speak, with the question of why God allows things like this to take place. It was in the midst of these thoughts that I read this piece by Betsy Childs. It's become a cliche by now, but there is truth to the notion that you can't see the light without the darkness. If we are to be the light of the world, our light should only be that much brighter living in days in days as dark as these.

It's been too long...

It's been 2 weeks since my last post for anyone who's counting. I've just been crazy busy lately. Now that blastball is over and T-ball is winding down, hopefully I'll have more time to devote to this.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Copenhagen Solution

Saturday, June 11, 2005 0
My homeboy RS dropped this piece from the Wall Street Journal on me after reading my last post. If you're not inclined to read it - the long and short of it is that there is a group of economists who took the initiative to classify, in order of positive impact, more than a dozen developmental efforts designed to aid third world countries . Their thesis was, in a nutshell, that we (the worlds richest countries) don't have unlimited funds at our disposal and so we must determine how to get the most bang for our buck where these projects are concerned. In my opinion, their findings weren't all that shocking. Things like controlling infectious disease (AIDS, Malaria) and water purification ranked high on the list. The Kyoto protocol (global warming initiatives) ranked last. I wasn't aware of this, but our buddy Tony B from across the pond, actually has the Kyoto protocol at the top of his laundry list for the G8 summit next month. I agree with the Journal that this is a foolish priority in the face of so many other pressing issues. I agree to an extent with their assessment that "...what the developing world needs is better governance, not aid." I agree wholeheartedly that better governance must be a top priority, indeed a requirement, of receiving aid dollars from the G8 countries. I do not subscribe to the notion that we should just write a $100 million dollar check to Sudan, write off their debts to the World Bank and then shake their hand and bid them good day while they continue slaughtering thousands of their own people in Darfur...or Bosnia...or Somalia. That's beyond stupid. There should be some level of accountability from the leadership of these nations in exchange for the money and assistance we give them. My problem with the Journals statement is this: better governance doesn't keep people from starving to death today or tomorrow. More aid dollars can do just that. I would submit, that what the developing world needs is better governance AND more aid. I just don't think that the two can be mutually exclusive. There are too many lives at stake for us to watch the people of Africa starve to death because the despotic regimes they were born under will not turn from their corruption and murdering ways. We have to figure out ways to help them in spite of their government, not just allow them to starve to death because of it. I don't know what the answer is, and I don't claim to be even moderately educated in the political machinations of sub-Saharan African countries. But I do know that that there are children in this world who will not wake up tomorrow morning because of something as mundane as not having clean water to drink. And I know that has got to change.

Friday, June 10, 2005

One

Friday, June 10, 2005 0
This is either a very hopeful sign for our generation or a sign of the apocalypse...I'm not sure which yet. If you check out this website you'll see what I'm talking about. It's not often that you find a cause that Eddie Vedder, Michael Stipe, Dave Matthews, Pat Robertson...yes, you read that correctly...Michael W. Smith, The Newsboys and Brad Pitt can all lock arms on, so to speak. So while, practically speaking, I'm opposed to anything that puts another one of those rubber "cause" bracelets on the street to taunt me and the rest of the Plain Bellied Sneeches who don't wear them - morally, I'm very much in favor of things like debt relief, additional research funding for the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa and increased medical aid and educational opportunities in the worlds poorest nations. If you are as well, you can click on the banner ad to read more about it. If you don't want to send them a dollar, then don't. It doesn't matter to me. But do something, would you?


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Oh Canada...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005 1

050607_depres_vsml_1p
Originally uploaded by tbone0323.
As newsman Buzz Burbank would say, here's a story from our Homeland Insecurity department. Hats off to the crack squad of border guards who let this altar boy cross over from Canada. Gregory Despres arrived at the US-Canadian border carrying "...a homemade sword, a hatchet, a knife, brass knuckles and a chain saw stained with what appeared to be blood." Look at that face...I ask you...is this the face of a mass murderer?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

We suck

Wednesday, June 01, 2005 0
My softball team sucks...we just got drilled 15-0. This is our 5th game and our 5th loss as a result of the run rule that is supposed to keep us from being embarrassed. It's not working. My personal feeling is that the rec league we're playing in would be perfectly within their rights to refund us our money and ask us just to not play anymore...

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Britney Spears, Secrets, etc

Tuesday, May 31, 2005 0
1. Ok, I've been thinking about what I was going to write all day but I just came across something online that trumped it. You need to check out postsecret.blogspot.com. It is absolutely amazing - I can't even really explain it - just go see it for youreself.

2. Alright, back to our regularly scheduled program. I've been thinking a lot about Britney Spears lately. I know what you're thinking. Seriously...you're better than that, ok? Try to stay with me here. Anyway, she's got this unspeakably bad new "reality" show right? No, I haven't seen it, but I would comfortably wager a day's pay that it is, in fact, unspeakably bad. Anyway, I keep seeing this quote from her that says "Can you handle my truth?". This is such a tritely pathetic little stab at some sort of post-modern, relativist chic worldview, it makes my hair hurt. Despite the fact that, coming from her, it sounds about as philosphical as whoopie cushion, I do think it belies a certain truth about our culture. Everybody is looking for the truth. Even the ones who will tell you that there is no such thing as the truth are still looking for it on some level. They're lying to themselves and you when they say otherwise.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

I miss him...

Sunday, May 29, 2005 3
I've been thinking about Rich Mullins a lot lately. I've been listening to a lot of his music and it moves me as much now as it did the first time I heard it almost 20 years ago. I saw him in concert more times than I can remember, and every time I left a little different than when I arrived. He was completely unimpressed by the music industry and how "famous" he was. He was more comfortable teaching Navajo children on a reservation how to sing Jesus loves me than he ever was on stage. It's hard to pick a favorite song because they're all great in their own way...but the one that stands out to me a little more than the rest is sort of an obscure track from his Pictures in the Sky album called "Be With You"

Everybody each and all
We're gonna die eventually
It's no more or less our faults
Than it is our destiny
So now Lord I come to you
Asking only for Your grace
You know what I've put myself through
All those empty dreams I chased

And when my body lies in the ruins
Of the lies that nearly ruined me
Will You pick up the pieces
That were pure and true
And breathe life into them
And set them free?

And when You start this world over
Again from scratch
Will You make me anew
Out of the stuff that lasts?
Stuff that's purer than gold is
And clearer than glass could ever be
Can I be with You? Can I be with You?

And everybody all and each
From the day that we are born
We have to learn to walk beneath
Those mercies by which we're drawn
And now we wrestle in the dark
With these angels that we can't see
We will move on although with scars
Oh Lord, move inside of me

And when my body lies in the ruins
Of the lies that nearly runied me
Will You pick up the pieces
That were pure and true
And breathe Your life into them
And set them free?

And when You blast this cosmos
To kingdom come
When those jagged-edged mountains I love are gone
When the sky is crossed with the tears Of a thousand falling suns
As they crash into the sea Can I be with you? Can I be with you?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Free the Dalits...

Saturday, May 28, 2005 0
I've been listening to this Caedmon's Call record called Share the Well. It's got some really cool stuff on it - lot's of international/world music type beats and instruments. The most interesting part of it though is how it focuses on the country of India and specifically the plight of the Dalits. The Dalits are the lowest of the Indian Caste system. They are considered "unclean" or "untouchable" by Hindu law. The name Dalit literally means "broken in pieces". You cannot imagine the horrors endured by these people for commiting no other crime than being born. Read about Ramprasad, the young Dalit who had his face doused with acid for fishing in a pond that was used by Upper Caste members of his village. Check out this link to the Dalit Freedom Network to read more about what is being done to help these people.

Turning 30 Posted by Hello

Movin' on up...

Alright - I got my feet wet with this blogging stuff at Xanga - I think I'm ready to move on up now. Mostly because 98% of the people who use Xanga are 15 year old girls and that's not really my target demographic, ya know what I'm sayin'? So stay tuned 'cause I'm'bouts to start raining blog posts.
 
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