Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Irrational Passion

"How can the irrational passions of nationalism or religion be contained before they do more damage?" -Margaret MacMillan-

Having finished Paris 1919 (which I highly recommend!), I ponder the question set forth by Margaret MacMillan at the end of her writing. I love how she uses the phrase "irrational passions" to describe nationalism & religion. In both cases, people become so fixated on their own set of beliefs, devotion, and loyalty that they become blind to the rest of the world. Deprived of reason and logic, people tend to get wrapped up in the strong emotional tie of their culture, country, or set of religious beliefs and doctrines. The result is a group of people willing to do anything to back up their position and protect their vantage point. At that point there is little to do but watch the destruction that will eventually unfold. The end of World War I brought forth alliances, partnerships, and forced merges that collided into chaos. The world has never been the same. In much the same way today, we are faced with those same irrational passions of people that do not seem to have an answer on how to be solved. Clearly we cannot outlaw nationalism or religion. Nor would doing so be a realistic answer. Rather the answer must lie somewhere within the realm of tolerance. Getting people to drop their blind devotion to a cause or belief and open their eyes to the beliefs of others sounds so good on paper, and yet does not seem possible. Containment seems like a better possibility and yet even in that we are sitting on 90 years since the Paris Peace Conference and our world seems as hell bent on destruction as it was back then. Where do we go from here? Will the maelstrom that these irrational passions have thrust us into ever be solved? It seems to me that if we could solve that - we might finally solve the problem that started the Great War in the first place.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Praise for Moms

So I have been battling some nasty sickness over the last few days. I have had the body aches, nasty cough, high fever, sinus congestion, and now for good measure a sore throat has decided to take place. I hate being sick. But I have noticed something in this sickness. On Thursday I stayed home from work because I simply felt beyond awful. The entire day I rotated between taking hot showers and laying down watching movies. I was completely useless. At the end of the day I realized that my wife had taken care of the kids all day long and had done everything in order to make me feel better. What made this remarkable was this: when my wife has been really sick and nasty feeling, she often still needs to be Mom to the boys. She doesn't have the luxury of rotating hot showers & laying down. Instead she must deal with personally feeling terrible and taking care of the the needs for the boys. I realized then why Moms are so important. No matter how terrible they are feeling - they are always available. It was that way with my Mom. Now I see my wife doing it with our kids. It may not be Mother's Day - but my wife certainly deserves praise today for being an incredible Mom to our boys.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Greed

Poland itself survived its difficult birth and even flourished for a time. It had not won back all its historic territories, but it was still a big country and it had its window on the Baltic. These gains, however, came at a huge cost. The powers, even the French, thought the Poles greedy and feckless. And its neighbors had much to resent: Lithuania, the Vilna region; the Soviet Union, the 150-mile-wide strip of what had been Russian territory; Czechoslovakia, the conflict over Teschen; and Germany, the corridor and Danzig. In the summer of 1939 Poland disappeared from the map yet again. -MacMillan, Margaret. Paris 1919. New York, 2001., underline mine-

Greed is a funny thing. It creates within each of us a desire for more and more while feelings of justification that all the excess we desire - we simultaneously deserve. Even when others [including our friends & allies] point out our selfishness, we tend to retreat to our own selfishness that they must be wrong and do not understand the pains we feel or why we deserve more. I cannot help but identify with Poland in 1919. It understandably wanted its own country and right to exist. It understandably had past grievances & injustices that it wanted paid back. Yet in its quest for all that it "deserved," Poland became alienated by creating hostility & resentment from all those who surrounded it. Eventually this lead to its downfall. What is the cost of all our greed and selfishness? At what point have we overstepped our boundaries in our quest to get all the injustice done to us paid back? In the end is it really worth it to us to gain while creating resentment all around us? Unfortunately, greed blinds our eyes and hearts to seeing the devastation we cause by the pursuit of self. Poland paid dearly for it. What will the cost be in my life for all my own greed?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Myopic Thinking

"If after establishing the League [League of Nations], we are so stupid as to let Germany train and arm a large army and again become a menace to the world, we would deserve the fate which such folly would bring upon us." -Colonel Edward House-

I am reading a book on the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 after the end of World War I right now. I came across the above quote from the Presidential-Advisor House, and thought just how myopic it was. Of course, I benefit from the looking back now and realizing that World War II was just around the corner, and indeed the Germans would become a menace to the world again. However, it has gotten me thinking on just how dangerous shortsighted thinking can be. The question though is how does one prevent it? House was like many other thinkers in 1919 - they simply could not fathom the Great War not being the war to end all wars. So in pondering the issue, I came up with what I believe are necessary starting points for avoiding myopic thinking and planning.
  1. Distance myself from traditional thinking and the prevailing mindset of most (if not "all") people. I simply cannot follow the line of thought that most agree with.
  2. I need to consider all possibilities and viewpoints. If is it possible and has been thought of - it deserves some considering.
  3. I must prepare with the future always more important then the present. What "solved" issues in 1919 did nothing in the 1930's with the rise of Nazism, Fascism, and even Communism.

I still think blunders will arise - but the disasters of settling for myopic thinking & planning are far too costly.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Peace Without Victory

"He (Wilson) was convinced that only a negotiated peace could endure, that a dictated peace forced upon the loser 'would be accepted in humiliation, under duress, at an intolerable sacrifice, and would leave a sting, a resentment, a bitter memory upon which the terms of peace would rest, not permanently, but only as upon quicksand.'”
-Barbara W. Tuchman (inner quote from Woodrow Wilson)-
"Peace without victory" was the high hope of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson for the outcome of World War I. He believed that if peace terms could be agreed upon without one side being the victor, that peace could endure. Of course, a dictated peace did happen and we know from history that the sting, resentment, and bitterness of the Central Powers, particularly Germany, would rise into the fight that occured in World War II. I think about this concept in my struggles, fights, and arguments today. How often do I set out to "win" with the idea that my winning will somehow pacify my enemies in my arguments & struggles? In the end, all I end up doing is struggling to maintain my sense of right while dealing with a person that now more then ever disagrees with me. Of course sometimes people do need to deal with it when they lose. However, when our intent in every given situation is to win and make the losers deal with the aftermath I think we have missed the point. And worse yet, the defeated can come back with a vengeance to rectify that far exceeds what they might have done had we simply sought better middle ground. I am not a good peacemaker. It is that mindset and desire that I strongly look up to Woodrow Wilson for.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Time

So I love the new show Modern Family on abc. It is so hilarious. The interesting thing about it is the hidden nuggets of truth that get expressed almost by mistake it seems. A few episodes back, the character Jay (Ed O'Neill) mentions in regards to being a dad to his step-son the line: "90 percent of being a dad is just showing up." That line has stuck with me ever since. Today marks the second straight day of being off of work. I took Thursday off and today is my one day off during the week. The boys and I have had so much fun wrestling, playing Transformers, playing Hulk & Spiderman, watching Phineas & Ferb, and eating (a favorite boy activity in our house). Throughout it all I have realized that what my boys need more then anything else is simply for me to show up. They need my time. We have had so much fun together and I realize it has all been by the simple idea of spending time with them. Too often with my job, extra schooling, and taking care of tasks I forget that my kids (and my wife!) need my time more then anything. I cannot say that I will be perfect at this going forward - but I definitely realize just how good of a dad I can be by hanging out with my kids. They need it, they love it, and I benefit the most from it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Perspective

"A proper perspective is worth 50 IQ points." -Alan Kay-
Why is it so hard to have a proper perspective? What does one do to gain the right perspective?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Temperament

Most of us develop our Christianity along the line of our temperament, not along the line of God.
-Oswald Chambers-
The above quote from Oswald Chambers forces me to ponder two things. The first is: what are the key characteristics of of my temperament? In pondering this I suppose it would be far more useful to ask others what they know/observe instead of simply trusting my own flawed opinion about myself. We tend to be terrible observers about ourselves and therefore I might shave off the rougher edges of my temperament. The second would naturally be: how is my Christianity impacted based upon those key personal temperament traits? I think this is critical because my natural emotional, physical, and mental traits can easily block and destroy the path of true discipleship in my life despite my thinking I am actually representing Christ. What does it all mean? I think it forces me to confront my own failures and limitations as a person. Not only because they are weakening me as a person but also because they taint the view of what it means to be the ultimate person I know I need to be.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Goodbye

Goodbye Metrodome. I know you have never been well liked by anyone - but you have provided some great memories. I always enjoyed going to games in you. I'll remember you always.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Is "hope" an accomplishment?

So President Obama is the latest Nobel Peace Prize Award winner. In talking about the award, Obama himself admitted it was not given "as a recognition of my [Obama] own accomplishments." So how does one win an award for not doing anything. I'm sorry but that is is like giving the Cy Young Award to Stephen Strasburg simply for being picked number one and having a good college career with electric stuff. The word award equates to giving something that is due or merited - so based upon his own admission - Obama does not deserve to win it. Since when has "tone" become the standard for peace in the world? And I question as to whether or not he has really brought a radical shift of hope to this world.

He called the receiving of the award as a "call to action" and you better believe it is. If the world was ready to crucify (and rightly so in some regards) Bush for his "Mission Accomplished" banner speech - then the world better be prepared to condemn President Obama if he fails to deliver on all that he has so greatly promised. As an American I want to see this hope. I want to see economic recovery. I want to see the anti-peace actions of Iran, North Korea, and of course Afghanistan brought to an end. I want to see all the tales that Obama weaved for us while running for office come true. Because in the end that is what will mean peace - not some falsified vision of peace as dictated by "giving hope."

Apparently the committee giving the award thinks it is rare for someone to give us hope - but in the end hope only lasts so long. What we need in this world is results & accomplishments. President Obama may sweep us all off our feet with his great speeches, style, and charisma - but in the end all I care about is results. The bottom line. If that cannot be delievered - then what is the point of the Nobel Peace Prize anyway? In the end - maybe that is my issue. Barack Obama never asked to receive this award - maybe the real question is why do we even care about an award that apparently has lost all of its meaning and intended purpose?

A Nude Jock

If I was going to be a writer - I think I would do my best to write like Rick Reilly. Almost every single column he produces is a great piece. As I have stated before - I highly recommend reading him if you aren't already (He now writes for ESPN - so you need to either get the magazine or do what I do and read him online).

His latest piece on athletes and nakedness was hilarious.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Struggle for Supremacy

"The local war between Austria and Serbia was connected with Franz Ferdinand & Sophie, but the Great War was not; the world war, which was not really the same conflict, was caused by the struggle for supremacy among the great European powers. The desire to be number one may have been a deplorable reason for starting a war, but it was neither surprising nor puzzling that it was what motivated the powers. Germany deliberately started a European war to keep from being overtaken by Russia." -David Fromkin-

In the ninth chapter of Luke, we see that the disciples began to argue amongst themselves as to who will be the greatest of the disciples. Jesus rebukes them and gives them a principle built upon the physical example of a child stating, "For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest." I cannot help but think of this example from Christ as I study the maelstrom that developed into World War I. You have a bunch of different nations and groups of people all concerned about power and the need to be respected. Each of them willing to go to war in order to protect themselves and their stature amongst the European world as well as eventually the entire world. Millions of lives would eventually falter as a result of leaders and nations unwilling to take second place to anyone else. I then reflect upon my own life and see the destruction that the desire to be "number one" has caused in my own life. I am no different then the disciples or even guys like Berchtold, Falkenhayn, Conrad, Grey, Jagow, or Moltke - in that I am more then willing to fight when it concerns my status yet unwilling to lay down my life, status, or prestige for the sake of the greater good. How many people have I hurt? How far have I strayed from giving Christ true Lordship of my life? How much have I simply missed the point of being a disciple - simply because the struggle for supremacy is the banner I most often fight under. Is it ever my intention to be "the least" as Christ calls me to be? Would the conflagration of WWI have started if the leaders of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Serbia, France, and England been willing to take the path of humility? What destruction could I avoid if I sought the path that Christ called for instead of the path tread by the European powers of 1914? These are the questions I wrestle today as I seek to learn from the past instead of repeating it for the future.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Baseball @ Its Best

What a game. That was one of the most classic baseball games ever played - and what a great way to end. Now the Twins have to play the Yankees...whom they never play well against. But ya never know. As I was watching - I kept thinking of being a kid and the games I went to. I really could have used a "Hormel Hot Dog Treat" while cheering on with the song that will forever remain in my head...

We're gonna win Twins, we're gonna score! We're gonna wins Twins, watch that baseball soar! Knock out a home-run, shout a hip-hooray! Cheer for the Minnesota Twins today!

Great 2009 season Minnesota - now keep it going!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Far From Over

The Battle of Blandford and the Battle of Groton Heights were succesful for Benedict Arnold. But in the end Yorktown ended the conflict and the Americans won. Round One to you Mr. Favre. But the war is far from over.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Never Say Die!

Down 3 games to Detroit with only 4 games left - the chances were slim...but there is still some magic in that old crappy Metrodome. Now its on to game 163. Scotty Baker on the mound, Joe Mauer continuing his MVP season, and a chance to take down Detroit and head to the playoffs.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Shake It

So potty-training kids has to rank up there with taming wild bears or wrestling alligators. It took forever with Trenton. The easiest method ended up being letting him pee on the wall outside. Eventually that turned in to being able to go in the toilet - but he definitely still prefers a wall, tree, or anything outdoors. So we decided to start with Sawyer. He is still pretty young, and unlike some parents we aren't overly militant with training regiments. But nevertheless, we figured it would be a good idea to start to slowly break him in. Well he has been doing pretty decent and is showing signs of understanding the process. My favorite part though has been watching Trenton give him helpful hints along the way. This is how it went today...

Sawyer: "Dad...pee, toilet"
Dad: "Ok - good job at asking"
Sawyer: "I do it" (as he refuses help in pulling off his undies or in getting up onto the big toilet)
Dad: "Fine - just don't whiz on the seat, point the rocket down"
Sawyer: "Done" (as he finished peeing)
Trenton: "Hey shake it Bobby (as he still calls Sawyer), shake it!"
Sawyer: "Shake it, shake it"

So now Sawyer has been trained by his brother to finish each pee session with a shake to get out the last drops. Good to Sawyer learning from the wise-old-sage Trenton.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Commitment to Courage

The Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in 1918 was Sir Douglas Haig. In one of the final offensives launched by the Germans, Haig gave a message to his troops. It stated, "With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight on to the end...Every position must be held to the last man. There must be no retirement." It would become one of the most famous directives given in the Great War. A couple of months later, the same tenacity would be shown when U.S. Marines were encouraged to retreat along with the French soldiers at Belleau Wood. Captain Lloyd Williams replied, "Retreat? Hell, we just got here." [Thx to John Keegen & M.E.S. Harries for the stories]

What I love about both stories, is the commitment to courage being displayed. Retreating & retiring were not options. The only option was to stick their ground and fight for what they believed in. In the face of adversity - they chose to keep going. I admire that spirit and desire it for my own life. How many times have I duck & run when adversity and struggles hit? How many times have I allowed fear to dictate my response to situations? If I truly believe in what I am doing - why shouldn't my response be to stand my ground? Too often when my back is against the wall I choose to simply roll over and die. This is probably for a variety of reasons, but the primary one seems to center on my lack of commitment to courage. Until I can learn to overcame that, I - unlike the soldiers under Haig & Williams - will never learn to defeat the obstacles and challenges in my life.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Viewpoints

Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has not heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.
-Winston Churchill-
Generally young men are regarded as radicals. This is a popular misconception. The most conservative persons I ever met are college undergraduates. The radicals are the men past middle life.
-Woodrow Wilson-

Friday, September 25, 2009

Up The Road We Staggered

Up the road we staggered, shells bursting around us. A man stopped dead in front of me, and exasperated I cursed him and butted him with my knee. Very gently he said, "I'm blind, Sir," and turned to show me his eyes and nose torn away by a piece of shell. "Oh God! I'm sorry, sonny," I said. "Keep going on the hard part," and left him staggering back in his darkness...A tank had churned its way slowly behind Springfield and opened fire; a moment later I looked and nothing remained of it but a crumpled heap of iron; it had been hit by a large shell. It was now almost dark and there was no firing from the enemy; ploughing across the final stretch of mud, I saw grenades bursting around the pillbox and a party of British rushed in from the other side. As we all closed in, the Boche garrison ran out with their hands up...we sent the 16 prisoners back across the open but they had only gone a hundred yards when a German machine gun mowed them down. -Edwin Vaughan; WWI wartime officer-
Vaughan wrote this in response to his experience at Passchendaele - an experience that would net no real difference in the war outside of adding thousands of more soldiers to the casualties list of both sides. What I don't get is why generals continued this type of senseless destruction of human life and why the soldiers themselves would subject themselves to it. Obviously desertion came at a high cost (in many cases - the deserters were killed) but staying in does not seem like it was a worthwhile decision either. Beyond a few successful campaigns, most of the Great War centered on skirmishes like Passchendaele in which a small tract of land was exchanged back and forth with heavy losses of life.
My question is this. As a society of people, do we still see the type of honor, courage, and commitment that the common WWI solider displayed? The conflict may have been pointless and futile - but I cannot help but look up to the soldiers on both sides who fought long and hard simply because they believed in their country and fought for what they thought was its honor. It seems now the people don't stand for anything and at the sign of any discomfort they tuck their tales and run. Their was obvious examples of that in the Great War - but for the most part you saw men willing to walk into No Man's Land with a high chance of death and little glory. That is incredible to me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Swine Flu Paranoia

Monday, September 21, 2009

In proving foresight may be vain

Plans. Goals. They are absolutely necessary, but what happens when they go askew? What happens when on paper your plan looks great - but when reality hits you realize that success does not have a chance. How do you modify your plans when bumps come along the path of life that prevent your plan from working? The German Empire had the Schlieffen Plan in tow. On paper it would have crushed France in 40 days which would theoretically keep England out of the war and allow the German Empire to concentrate on breaking down Russia (which it would eventually do with help from the Bolsheviks). But problems along the way prevented that from happening and the Germans went from a succesful war strategy to trench warfare to losing and getting devastated in the aftermath of "peace." I can resonate with the German Empire. Sometimes I struggle with even thinking plans & goals - because so often life prevents obstacles that I just cannot be prepared for. My plans go to as they say "hell in a hand-basket" so often that I question the point of plans. I get stressed out in making new plans because I fear those to will fall apart. And yet I know that plans do prevail sometimes. So how do you go about making the right plans? And when even the best plans go askew what do you do to keep going on? For now I read Robert Burns and realize even the best schemes...can bring grief & pain.

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Truce

One of my favorite stories from World War I has to be the story of the Christmas Truce of 1914. In the midst of trench warfare with both sides losing thousands upon thousands of men, a brief pause in action was able to take place. Christmas trees (or the Tannenbaum to the Germans) were put up, carols were sung, men from both sides crossed into "no man's land" to shake hands and exchange chocolate, spirited beverages and cigarettes and even in some sectors games of football broke out. For a brief moment in the ugliest war that the world had ever seen - peace was able to happen. As Stanley Weintraub described it, "But perhaps more important, many troops had discovered through the truce that the enemy, despite the best efforts of propagandists, were not monsters. Each side had encountered men much like themselves, drawn from the same walks of life - and led, alas, by professionals who saw the world through different lenses." John McCutcheon would later sing about "the ones who call the shots won't be among the dead and lame, and on each end of the rifle we're the same." Every time I think about this, it reminds me of the people I "fight" and "struggle" with. Despite my differences with them, are they really that different from me? Are the people we consider our enemies whether that be the opposite political party, the Taliban running rampant in Afghanistan, or simply the people in our lives that we don't like - truly our enemy? And even if we find ourselves consistently opposite of one another - is it really worth the fight to prove who is better or right? Instead of pulling the trigger every time we encounter someone opposite of ourselves, perhaps we could learn a lesson from 1914 and see that the "others" are really just the same as us - they've just had a different lens upon which they have seen and viewed the world.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Game One a Success!

I was nervous. I was angry. I was excited. I was happy. I was moody. I was all over the spectrum. But in the end - pure joy. Good to see the Packers win the first game of the 09 season.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Send It On

Ridiculous how a Disney song can get stuck in your head to the point that you actually start liking it. While watching Phineas & Ferb with the boys, I kept hearing the song "Send It On" by Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, and the other two chicks that I don't know. Well now it is stuck in my head and I find myself singing it. My goodness what has the world come to.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Propaganda

"Good propaganda must keep well ahead of actual political events. It must act as pacemaker to policy and mold public opinion with appearing to do so. Before political aims are translated into action, the world has to be convinced of their necessity and moral justification." -Erich Ludendorff-
As I study the Great War, I dwell continuously on the impact of propaganda in the war. It kept men in certain political/military positions far longer then they should have been there and helped prolong a war that was incredibly unpropitious and destructive. Despite the damning effects of the stalled war effort as assisted by the promulgation of its key leaders, propaganda remains one of the most often used tools in leadership today. Why is that? Are people so blind that they are willing to submit themselves to a plan of action that has no basis in truth simply because it is sugar-coated? The other side of the coin, is can a leader lead without the support and backing that propaganda can bring with it? Even if I am not convinced of the "necessity and moral justification" of something - that doesn't mean it shouldn't be put into action. Nor if I am convinced does that mean the plan should be executed. The line between words, decisions, and actions is a blurred one. As a leader, how does one handle the blurriness - especially in light of knowing that your molding of the public opinion might influence a decision that is both costly and completely unjustified at the expense of a blind following.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Glad its back!

Man is it great to see college football back! I especially loved seeing The U (anyone from Minnesota will know that is what our beloved University is called) win @ Syracuse and then watching ASU hammer Idaho State. Looking forward to watching football for the next few months!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Commitment

"There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when its convenient. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results." -Kenneth Blanchard-

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Extraordinary & Peculiar Aptitude

"The basic reason for German failure at the Marne, 'the reason that transcends all others,' said Kluck afterward, was 'the extraordinary and peculiar aptitude of the French soldier to recover quickly. That men will let themselves be killed where they stand, that is a well-known thing and counted on in every plan of battle. But that men who have retreated for ten days, sleeping on the ground and half dead with fatigue, should be able to take up their rifles and attack when the bugle sounds, is a thing upon which we never counted. It was a possibility not studied in our war academy.'" -Barbara W. Tuchman, The Guns of August-

What is inside of you? What will keep you going in the face of certain defeat? When everyone else would be willing and wanting to quit - what will keep you fighting? In the face of your enemies can you keep moving forward despite their advantages? The story of the fighting on the Marne in WWI is incredible to me. Not because the Allies won decisively (they didn't) and not because the Germans gave up a chance to end the war within 40 days of starting it (they did) - but because in the face of certain defeat the French (and their British allies) pulled together to display the needed "cran" (as the French call it) to fight back. The Germans were unprepared for it, the British had to be surprised by it. That is the spirit that I want to capture within me. That is the spirit I want to display when facing odds stacked against me. When the going is tough, I want to know that deep within me - there is a base level of cran that will keep me going. Will I stand or will I falter? Only in times of trouble, can I really find out.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Go Twins!

That's 9 wins out of the past 11 games! Go Twins! Nice hit Morales.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Superar

Evaluation of enemy strength is not an absolute, but a matter of piecing together scraps of reconnaissance and intelligence to form a picture, if possible a picture to fit preconceived theories or to suit the demands of a particular strategy. What a staff makes out of the available evidence depends upon the degree of optimism or pessimism prevailing among them, on what they want to believe or fear to believe, and sometimes upon the sensitivity or intuition of an individual. -Barbara W. Tuchman-

It is impossible to pre-determine the decisions a person will make in any given situation. As people, when faced with decisions and situations we often deploy a variety of strategies and thought processes based upon a number of circumstances. I am fascinated by the notion that in a tough situation - how much my decision making has already been made up. Preconceived thoughts predicate certain actions to be more likely, while the degree of optimism (actually more likely pessimism with me) cant tilt me further or closer towards one side of those notions. The questions becomes, though, how do I make the best possible decision when I know that my preconceived thoughts, potential fears, and pessimism might all betray my ability to make that best possible decision? In other words, can I make a decision that is divorced from the forces within me that would unwittingly lead to a poor choice? A study of history showcases a long line of men & women who were unable to do so and thus sealed their doom/fate. The strongest decision makers seem to be the ones who are able to master themselves and rise about their own deficiencies in the process of decision making. Easier said then done.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sangfroid

I hate Kobe Bryant. There are many reasons why, but in the end I think it comes down to the fact that he maintains sangfroid so well on the basketball court. I envy that ability to have "cold blood," as the French call it, in moments of stress, high pressure, and anxiety. Faced with everything on the line, Kobe wants the ball. He is willing to take that shot - even though failure and the complete letdown of the team has a better then 50% chance of happening. I don't have that ability. Given the choice, I would take the safe route and zone of comfort 10 out of 10 times. In the end, I don't suffer the humiliation and pain of failure but I die a little bit more each day. You see I cannot maintain sangfroid - because when given the opportunity I run from it. In the end the net of safety I have put up will keep me from falling hard - but it will also keep me from living the life God designed me to live. What I must ask myself, then, is what's the point of life???

Thanks Mitch

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival." -C.S. Lewis-
I had the opportunity to hang out with my good friend Mitch this morning. He helped me by coming out of his way to help with re-doing my blog. Thanks Mitch! I'll continue to tinker with it and hopefully start blogging more.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Conflicted

I am conflicted with Brett Favre. On on hand, he is perhaps the greatest quarterback in Green Bay Packers history (Bart Starr did win 5 NFL Championships, 2 Super Bowls, and was a CAREER Packer) and led the Packers back to being good after the awful 70's & 80's. On the other hand he is now playing for the Vikings. So while part of me wants to see him do good and cement his status as the greatest modern-day quarterback - part of me also enjoys seeing the hit like the picture above in the hopes of watching him be broken in two.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Based on actions

I read an article on CNN today about a guy who was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his wife. The story is awful. I wanted to throw up hearing how a man could savagely murder the person who should have meant the most to him. What was interesting in the article was how his family and loved ones continously tried to portray him as this incredible guy - "a church-going, gentle man who always went out of his way to help others." Yet in one act all of that was changed. The prosecuting lawyer (Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda) said it best, stating, "Unfortunately, the best example we have of his character is in what he did. This shows his best character." There is no BS with actions. What you do defines you - and often times it is in those greatest moments of weakness that you show who you are. So many times in life I have experienced people telling me one thing - but by their subsequent actions showcase who they truly are and what they truly think. Its hard to believe you have faith in me if everything you do (and say behind my back) is to the contrary. The same goes for my very own life. I can say this & that - but in the end if my actions reflect something else, what are people to believe? It might not be fair to base assessment off of the poor choices we make - but ultimately those speak as much if not more volume to the people we actually are. So the question is who are you? Does the evidence support it?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Haunting but Good

"I seen hundreds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads . . . every damn one of ’em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of ’em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land." -Crooks, from Of Mice and Men-
I read Of Mice and Men yesterday. It had been a few months since I had touched anything by John Steinbeck and so in order to refresh my literary mind I picked up the short but brilliant work. Finishing quickly, I dwelt upon the notions of loneliness and how the American Dream is not as attainable as one would want to believe. Unfortunately many of us are wrapped up in lives that fall desperately short of where we would want them to be. This is not to say that fulfillment cannot be or is not found - just that the dreams we had/have continually lie just out of reach. Each of us feels a longing and loneliness from some sector of our lives. It may be that we lack the friends we want, the career we desire, the presence we crave, the materials we deem needed, or any other void that hits us deep within. These voids dig at our souls and eat away at our hope that the dreams we have can have actually be obtained. In the end we end up like George - in an inconsolable position stuck between being the dreams we have and the reality we know we must face. Perhaps this is where Christ plays one of His most important roles. For within Him, we find a peace and comfort that takes care of that darkness and void that Crooks so accurately painted in his pessimistic viewpoint aimed at crushing the spirit of Lennie. Perhaps it is true that "nobody gets no land" and we are to be faced with the shattered pieces of our dreams on a regular basis. But at least even in that, we have a God who cares for us and mends our broken hearts.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Swords

In the tales of men, there is a long history of playing swords in the bathroom. I remember as a kid, whenever I had to pee, I was usually able to get a friend or one of my brothers to cross pee streams while calling it swords. Not sure why we did it, but it just happened. Well the genius that I am, I thought it would be a great idea to teach Trenton the concept of swords to encourage him to pee while standing up (one of the greatest advantages to being a man). Well the idea officially was put in the "poor decision" category today as when he had to pee he shouted lets do swords daddy. I said okay, but before I knew it Trenton had aimed completely out of the toilet and sprayed the shower curtain, wall, side of the toilet and the floor. Of course he thought this was funny and it was at this point that I realized two things. One, that it was going to suck having to clean that up. And two, maybe this is why all men struggle hitting the toilet water when peeing. So much for parenting ideas from dad...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cordial & Productive Discussion

Diplomacy: "skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility"

Monday, July 27, 2009

Well crap

Well apparently my history degree not only puts me at odds in my current vocation but also puts me at odds with making any money. Crap. At least I have some sweet stories to shoot the breeze with...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Universal Health Care

A picture is worth a 1000 words. Nice job Michael Ramirez.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Why I Love Dilbert.

Dilbert.com

Friday, July 17, 2009

Story Time

So lately Trenton (my 3 year old) has been asking me to tell him stories. I have used the opportunity to open the Bible and tell him some stories from there. Thus far his favorite has been the talking donkey story - but today I told him the story of Zacchaeus. Later on in the morning I asked him some questions to see what he retained from the story. Here is how the conversation went:

Me: So who was the story about this morning?
Trenton: Zacchaeus
Me: Good job. What did he do?
Trenton: He climbed a tree.
Me: Why?
Trenton: Cause he was little.
Me: Good. Who did he climb down to eat dinner with?
Trenton: Jesus.
Me: What did he give away to all the poor people & people he owed?
Trenton: Apples, peaches, and chicken nuggets.

So he got most of it. Not really sure where the apples, peaches, and chicken nuggets came from - but close enough.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Am I?

Am I the last person in America to realize how hilarious and awesome "30 Rock" is? My glorious wife got the first 2 seasons on DVD for me, and I have been literally laughing out loud watching them. Tina Fey is a genius, and the actors/actresses in the show are perfect. Very funny show - excellent all around.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Home Run Derby

Each year it is fun to watch the HR Derby @ the All-Star Game for baseball. It is always cool to see guys just hit the ball a mile. Last year was really awesome as Justin Morneau (a Minnesota Twin!) won the contest. This year, for some reason Joe Mauer was selected to participate. He is my favorite baseball player so even though I found it odd that a guy with only 15 homers on the season was asked to participate, it was cool to see him give it a whirl. He did not even come close to winning (Prince Fielder did - including hitting one ball an estimated 503 feet!!!) but man his swing is amazing. Looking forward to seeing him bat in the 3-hole tomorrow in the actual ASG. Since I have been alive, the NL has only won the ASG 7 times (and haven't won since 96 in Philly!) so chances are the AL will win again but hopefully the game is fun to watch.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Old Hickory

I recently wrapped up a biography on Andrew Jackson which was absolutely splendid. I have been quite interested in Andrew Jackson for a number of years now, and this was a good read on his time as President. He was a man with many flaws and looking back at it him it is easy to judge him for his horrible decisions in the support of slavery and mis-treatment of different Indian groups. That being said, his staunch support of the preservation of the Union set the stage for Abraham Lincoln (who borrowed plenty of thought & action from Jackson) in the Civil War. What makes Jackson so likable is how regular he seemed to be for a President. He wasn't particularly educated (in fact most of his opponents attacked his lack of education), he was prone to a violent temper, and his life and friends were filled with suspect decision making at times. Despite all of his flaws, he somehow rose to the highest office in the land, was an incredible military general, and was one of the most well esteemed people of his time. Like him or hate him (and there were plenty of people on both sides of the fence) - he was just interesting. Meacham has not written the best book on him (Remini or Brands are probably more worthy of that title) - but it was an engaging book and an excellent piece if you are interested in learning more about the Presidency of Andrew Jackson.

Friday, July 10, 2009

North to the Future

I cannot begin to describe how incredible my trip to Alaska was. Everything about it was so absolutely perfect, from spending time with my best buddy Jesse to hiking to camping to river rafting to being outdoors in the the most spectacular, beautiful place in the world. It was so refreshing and renewing to be away from the desert (have I mentioned how much I hate Arizona? Does God really like deserts OR were they designed as places of testing & torture?). I spent the majority of my time in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. I hiked on a glacier on the Fourth of July. I spent 6 hours going down the Gulkana, Tazlina, and Copper Rivers. I camped right next to the Bonanza Copper Mine @ Kennecott - where close to 90 years ago mine workers spent their days. I saw more green, water, and actual signs of life then I have seen in a long, long time. I could not have asked for a better gift from God then that week. It is definitely the beginning of a long love affair - and I hope to visit again soon.




Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Balaam's Ass

"God spoke to Balaam through his ass, and God's been speaking through them ever since. So, if God chooses to speak through you don't think to highly of yourself."
-Rich Mullins-

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wall of Separation

I just finished American Gospel by Jon Meacham. It was a pretty good book, though it was rather short (only 250 pages) and could have explored topics a little bit more in-depth. I did like that Meacham pointed out that America was NOT founded as a Christian nation and that it has done its best as a nation when it straddles the middle line between hard-core religious fundamentalism & philosophy-driven secularism. Giving people freedom of choice is critical - and he does a decent job at conveying that message. People who use the Bible as a source of political or personal strength against others are ridiculous. As Meacham says it, if God doesn't force beliefs on people - who gives us the right to do it. I also like his thoughts on how people have always justified themselves based upon their interpretation of Scripture - for example: slavery. So when Christians argue that we should base everything off of Scripture - who's interpretation are you talking about? Finally, I think it is critical to remember that Christians enjoy overstepping their boundaries in the political arena when it is their own faith being supported - but what about when it is the Muslim faith or some other faith? Will they still be comfortable then? The point being - the United States was founded by a solid group of men (most of them not being Christian as we would define Christian today) who believed in freedom and republicanism. The government was based upon those principles and that is what makes this a solid nation. The values, attitude, and actions of Christ are incredible to follow - and the great thing about this country is we are allowed as citizens to do just that. But when we start blurring the line between faith & politics - we usually get a watered down version of both.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Prostitution

Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush with shame.
Jeremiah 3:3

As I read through Isaiah & Jeremiah, I cannot help but notice how many times God compares the Israelites to prostitutes. As a people they literally gave themselves to idols, pride, and sin. Instead of being faithful to God - they chose a path of prostitution. In many ways, it seems like nothing can be so degrading as prostitution in this world. Whether it is chosen or forced upon someone, it is humiliating, degrading, and wrong. Yet how often do I choose the same route as the Israelites in my relationship with God? How often am I no more then a whore to sin? I give myself over to it in a shameful and disgraceful way, not only humiliating myself but in some ways the God I claim to have a relationship with. In reality, why would a spouse stay with their spouse if that spouse willingly chose to have sex with as many different people as possible? It sounds crude - but that is how God choose to describe it when we choose sin (often times repeatedly & without shame) over Him. So what do you do when you are the prostitute? How do you escape that life - when its all you have ever known? How do you heal your heart, reclaim your mind, improve your actions - when prostitution comes so easily? How deep is the well of God's love despite our prostitution? I feel like these are the questions that God calls us to grapple with. For it is the desire to get out of prostitution that is the first step towards reclaiming a healthy relationship with God. Until then - we remain whores to the sinful passions of our every day lives.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP MJ

I remember that I first started loving Michael Jackson because of my oldest brother Logan. If Logan thought he was good - then he had to be good. So since I was a little tyke, Michael Jackson has been a musical icon for me. Honestly, I think he is my favorite alltime musician. Its weird how the death of celebrity can matter so much, as if I knew the guy personally. He may have been weird, he may have had problems, but in the end he was the King of Pop. He will be missed. I always loved listening to you Michael.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Full Of Them

Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.

Psalm 127:3-5


So I saw a video by my friend Neil tonight which showed discussed the fertility rates of the western world as compared to that of the Muslim world. The statistics were staggering. It has me thinking. Do we (Americans) really value children as we should? Do we truly believe that children are a blessing? The Psalmist tells us that a state of "blessing" comes to the man who has lots of kids. Yet the United States barely maintains a fertility rate for replacing its current generation, and mainly maintains that rate simply from the influx of the Latino population. So are we really seeking that particular blessing? My wife wants 5 kids and the more I think about it, the more I can see why. She gets it. She sees the blessing that having children are. I get so wrapped up in simple things like having a big enough house for them, feeding them, clothing them, any & all medical expenses, etc - as if somehow God won't take care of us. If we truly believed verse 5 of the 127th Psalm - how would that change our mindsets in approaching the question of "how many kids should we have?" Not sure I know - but this definitely has me thinking.

Monday, June 22, 2009

You are what you read...

If what you eat tends to define who you are, then what you read must have a pressing influence on what you think, how you think it, and what you do from those thoughts. I tend to like biographies. I like anything to do with history, usually focusing on things prior to the Korean War. I'm not sure exactly how that has influenced me, but I'm sure that the reason I think and talk about history a lot is because that is what I spend time studying. The reason this interests me is how I see the church becoming more and more like a corporate business structure. Not necessarily the overall Church - but at least the American Church. The leadership principles, practices, strategies, growth management, philosophies, ethics, building programs, etc of churches in America now seem to parallel that of the business world. As I have wondered why that is, it dawned on me how much church leaders love reading business books. I am sure it started long before, but I clearly remember when "Good to Great" first came out and every church leader seemed to be reading it. From that point on, I have noticed that the books most likely found in the hands of pastors are those that have been either written by those in the business community or based upon lessons learned from the business community. With the current sorry state of the economy and business affairs in America, I wonder where the Church is headed. Obviously the Church can claim that they, in the end, follow Jesus and that will separate them from the crash & burn of Wall Street...but if all the Church is doing is consuming that which the business community has to offer - what chance will it really have? Plus, where do people fit in? Does the American Church care enough about people - or have people become (like they are in the business community) mere statistics and measurements of success? Bill Hybels once said that the local church is the hope of the world. He may be correct, but only if the church is the one setting the pace - not simply following the tide of the latest and greatest business guide to successful leadership.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Goodbye

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." -Dr. Seuss-

So despite having Democrat leanings, I don't really like change all that much. I got dealt another blow today with the news that my friend Jason will be leaving his job within a week. Eric Shark, Shaun Sawyer, Ryan Maxwell, Ryan Russell, Jon Moton, and now Jason are all gone. Its not that I don't have other friends on staff - but those guys all meant something to me. It will be hard going forward now. This isn't the time or place to put blame on anyone or anything - just me confessing that this change will be difficult. In the end I am just thankful for Jason. I am thankful for his heart, his passions, his talent, and his friendship. He has tremendous value and some church will benefit from his presence there. He sees ministry as relationships and chooses to place relationship over system & administration. That doesn't always jive well - but I understand it completely. So here's to you Jason - best of luck and know that you will always be one of my best friends. Central was lucky to have you, and your imprint will remain long after your departure from staff.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Inspiration

Whether Muir's deep faith in nature is still possible in our own time is a question that his admirers must continue to ask themselves and to find answers of their own. Can contact with nature inspire people to a higher ethic, a greater decency? Or is the human species by and large incapable of reverence, restraint, generosity, or vision? Have we truly learned to respect a nature that we did not create, a world independent of us, or do we see only the hand of humankind wherever we look? Muir was a man who tried to find the essential goodness of the world, an optimist about people and nature, and eloquent prophet of a new world that looked to nature for its standard and inspiration. Looking back at the the trail he blazed, we must wonder how far we have yet to go. (Donald Worster, A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir).

I recently finished Worster's biography on John Muir, and it was fantastic. What an incredible guy John Muir was. I am awed by his love and commitment to a cause which laid a foundation that much of the modern environmental & conservation movement has been built upon. His strong belief in the wilderness being able to cure the ills of mankind resonates well with me. Having just gotten back from JH Summer Camp up in the mountains of California, I feel renewed from having spent time in God's creation. The crisp air, the tall mountains, the trees, even the extended day trip to the ocean - all worked together to help heal parts of my soul. It felt so good to have God wrap His arms around me thru the work of His creation. For me, I will honor the life of John Muir (beyond my membership with the Sierra Club) by doing what I can to preseve the wilderness of America as a means to connecting with God. Nature is my standard & inspiration because in it I find the clearest picture of God.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

God's Wildness

He [John Muir] promoted conservation as a means to improved happiness for people. Human health - mental, physical, and economic - depeneded on access to the natural world. To be prosperous a society must use its natural resources rationally and carefully; to be happy and fulfilled a society must be in contact with the natural beauty around it. Privately, he was still convinced that man should not be the measure of all value, that justice must extend to all creatures, and that accumulating money should not become the chief end of living. Publicly, however, he defined the goal of conservation as fuller human development. (Donald Worster)

"'There is love wild Nature in everybody,' he wrote in his journal, 'an ancient mother-love ever showing itself whether recognized or no, and however covered by cares and duties.' And he added (stealing shamelessly from Henry David Thoreau), 'In God's wildness lies the hope of the world - the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness.'" (Donald Worster)

The more I read about John Muir the more I identify with him. Although I would be quick to point out that the majesty of the wilderness reflects God, I do see how critical the natural world is to my health. For myself, I often feel the presence of God more in the naked wilderness then in any building. However, the sad reality is my time becomes consumed with "cares and duties" and I often do not get the opportunity to renew myself in the great outdoors. Unfortunately, I feel the absence of time outdoors in my life. Physically, mentally, emotionally, even spiritually I can tell that I am headed for empty without it. The outdoor world is so close and yet so incredibly far. I envy the life John Muir spent outside. He was constantly traveling all around, constantly spending more time outdoors then within. Thankfully, I have a vacation to Alaska coming up. A chance to seek & find myself again.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Listen & Learn

So I was watching Go Diego Go with Trenton tonight. It was the one with the humpback whales. Anyway, at the end of the show like usual they had "the review" with 4 questions that the kids should have learned about humpback whales. Well Trenton answerd all four correctly - and was super excited about it. It was pretty cool and I was proud of him - even if it the quiz was "simple." As I thought about it, I started to wonder if that is how God is with me as I study his Word. When I am learning and starting to understand the things God needs to me to know - I have to believe He is proud of me and gets excited. It might be simple things that everyone else already knows - but He is simply happy that I am willing to learn and have spent time listening to Him. Every time I see Trenton grasp something new - it just sends the most incredible joyful feeling throughout my soul. My hope and belief is that the same is true of God with me.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

18 Innings but a W!

It took 18 innings, but the Diamonds pulled out a W. How many times is the bullpen going to suffer late inning meltdowns though? How pissed must Danny Haren be at that 'Pen? But nice homer Mark Reynolds - and nice work by Rauch/Vasquez/Zavada/Rosales going innings 10-18 without giving up a hit to redeem the bullpen woes. My favorite part was watching Zavada pitch - mainly because of the mustache!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Questioning God

"What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment? Will you never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant? If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you? Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins? For I will soon lie down in the dust; you will search for me, but I will be no more." (Job 7:17-21)

Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me. (Job 41:11)

Friday, June 5, 2009

29 Silver Pans

So I'm not saying that every piece of the Bible is not important, but sometimes I wonder about the things included in it. I read the book of Ezra yesterday, and though there were some really awesome parts (my favorite being Ezra's prayer in chapter 9) there are some parts I just don't understand how they have any relevancy to me today. I suppose the names and numbers of exiles would have been important to the Jews reading the Scripture as they would identify with their family bloodline that left captivity - but what am I suppose to pull from that? The inventory of the supplies that Cyrus gave back to the Israelites - is it really critical to know that there were 410 matching silver bowls? Or even later on knowing that Eliashib decendent of Bani was guilty of intermarriage? My point is not to mock Scripture or say it is not critical - I am seeking out what we as people today are suppose to do when coming across passages of Scripture that describe names, numbers, and statistics that don't seem to have any point today. Maybe it just adds the "filler detail" to show the precise nature of Scripture. I'm not really sure. It certainly doesn't hurt the overall impact or importance of God's Word, I guess I just wish I knew what God wanted me to learn from the 29 Silver Pans...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Benson

I don't always agree with Steve Benson's cartoons, but this one is spot on target.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pissed Off

Oh how pissed off I am right now at you Tony Pena. 4 runs. That's how big of a lead on LA we had in the 8th inning and you have to cough it up. Hopefully in walking with your head in shame you pulled a neck muscle so we can put you on the DL for the rest of the year.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Can you go back?

Once a bridge is burned, can you ever go back? I continue to dwell upon the concept of unity and what I need to do to contribute to unity. Today I dwell upon the idea of a bridge being burned. I can vividly see the bridges that have been burnt in my life. I remember the details and all of the frustration, anger, and hurt that built up ultimately leading to the bridge being burnt. What do you do once that has happened? The damage is done. The hurt is deep. The anger is burning. I understand the need to forgive - and yet what do you do with the charred remains? Even if the fire is put out - the smoldering remains leave very little to work with. I marvel at the ability of God to forgive. I struggle understanding how He can just wipe the slate clean and continue to love, deeply love, in the midst of all of the stupid & frustrating & hurtful things I do to my relationship with Him. I burn that bridge on a daily basis, and yet there he is pounding in new nails and boards to build it again. Its not enough for God to simply say well I tried enough - now I am done. God doesn't seem to allow for burnt bridges. Yet I do. Selfishly & emotionally I allow them to exist. I am ashamed at my behavior in light of the Truth of God. Yet, deep inside I sense an ugliness that will not let go of the hurt, pain, frustration and anger. Can burnt bridges be rebuilt? God seems to be an expert at it - what about me?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Jesus loves you but...

Okay so I know it is probably not a wise thing to laugh at but I have to chuckle every time I see one of those bumper sticks that says, "JESUS LOVES YOU but everyone else thinks you're an ***hole." In reality that seems to be the case with people we encounter in our lives. We have to admit that Jesus loves them (as He does all people) but yet they drive us absolutely insane. The things they say, the things they do, the things they think, etc. This weekend I got the opportunity to teach on unity as well as listen to my buddy Jeremy teach on the same topic. While preparing for my message and while listening to his, I kept coming back to those people in my life that I cannot stand. I don't like them. I don't want to be around them. I cringe when I have to deal with them. What do you do with them? To what level of relationship does God call us to have with those types of people in our lives? How much love do we really need to put into those people? Sad - even in typing this I sense myself wanting to justify some minimal amount of effort into building unity with those people. Sure I want them to go to heaven God, but can they stand on the opposite side of me? I feel challenged though to move beyond my selfish, minimal standard. I don't know if I can ever be friends with some of these people - but at the very least they deserve to be treated well, prayed for, and when I can help them out for me to do so. The ironic thing is that my character is more revealed in dealing with them then it is in dealing with those closest to me. So we'll see. It was a challenging & convicting weekend. Hopefully stepping forward I'll do better and not simply shooting for the minimum amount of love when dealing with them. Unity may be hard to attain, but it certainly worth the effort.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Advice

But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him...Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, he followed the advice of the young men...(1 Kings 12:8, 13-14)

The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, "There is still one man through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah." (1 Kings 22:8)

I noticed a trend in the books of 1st & 2nd Kings about the habit of kings to listen only to what they wanted to hear. Instead of following good advice, they continously sought the advice and counsel of their friends and those willing to tell them what they wanted to hear. I could not help but notice the same trend within my own life. How often do I make decisions based upon my own thoughts and the support of those I know will not argue against me. If I know going into a decision a particular person will not agree with me, I tend to avoid asking them their opinion on the subject. Like Rehoboam, I tend to seek the advice of the "young guys" (my friends) over the "elders" - whomever they might be in a given situation. In reality this is all based upon a selfish desire to make my own decisions and not have to listen to anyone. The result for the kings was their own deaths, destruction of their kingdoms, and eventual overthrow by Assyria & Babylon. In other words, a complete train wreck. Knowing that - why would I or anyone else want to continue along the same pattern? I guess the key is to recognize the problem and know that going into any situation I must seek out wise advice - even if that advice is "bad" to me and contrary to my own standing. Easier said then done...

Friday, May 22, 2009

100 Foreskins

Saul replied, "Say to David, 'The king wants no other price for the bride than a hundred Philistine foreskins, to take revenge on his enemies.'" (1 Samuel 18:25)
The amount of references to sex, sexual misconduct, private parts, and other related things in the Old Testament is staggering. Seriously. Who can honestly say the Bible is G-Rated if they have read even a small portion of the Old Testament.
So I have to admit that I am glad my relationship with my father-in-law is better then David had with Saul. It is shocking how far Saul's hatred & jealousy of David pushed him. To think that he would use his own daughter for an opportunity to manipulate and kill David is crazy. Saul basically decides to not only put David's life in harm's way by having him fight the Philistines, but also to make them hate David even more for the mutilation of their bodies after their deaths. Yet David not only does it, but he goes above and beyond by killing two hundred Philistines and bringing back their foreskins. (On a side-note: What if Jesus had said in Matthew 5 - "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. If your enemy tries to kill you by forcing you to retrieve 100 foreskins, go and bring him 200 foreskins..."). I just have admit it makes me grossed out and laugh at the same time thinking about David coming back from battle with a bag of foreskins and then someone having to count them out for the king. I mean seriously - who's job was that? "One, two, three..." Yuck. All that to say, once again the Bible never ceases to amaze me. David seriously dealt with a lot of crap from Saul. The fact that he later does not advantage of multiple opportunities to kill him shows some amazing self-control.
On a final note, I wonder why stories like this never get told during church services?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Parallel

So I am currently reading through the Old Testament and I realized a disgusting parallel between Genesis & Judges. In Genesis 19, two angels come to Sodom and it says that Lot strongly encouraged/requested they spend the night at his house. Then it says that the men of Sodom surrounded the house and demanded that Lot send the men out [which makes me wonder if angels simply look like men] so that they could have sex with them. In response to that request, Lot offers his virgin daugthers instead of the angels. Add that to the greatest dad moments in history. Now flash forward to Judges 19 [weird coincidence in chapter numbering there?]. There is a Levite who's concubine left him to go home to her father's house. He goes after her and spends some time at that house. Then he left with his concubine. They head to Gibeah [uniquely enough to not spend time in "alien territory"] where an old man from the hill country allows them to spend the night at his place. While hanging out, the text says some men come and pound on the door demanding that the old man send out the Levite in order that they can have sex with him. Sound familiar? So the old man decides that would be an awful thing so instead offers his virgin daugther [dad of the year #2] and the Levite's concubine [way to look after your woman you jerk]. Sound familiar? The men don't want either of those options, but the Levite still sends out his concubine anyway who ends up getting raped & abused throughout the night and ends up dead. The Levite responds when he sees her dead body - "get up; let's go" - only to discover she wasn't going to answer because she was dead.

So I just found this parallel to be weird, disgusting, and made me want to puke. I have also since re-discovered how many sexual dysfunction stories the first 7 books of the Bible contain. Seriously if there is a sin that people have completely given themselves over to more then sexual immorality, I would be shocked.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Happy 26th Birthday Sweetheart.

My incredible wife Danielle turned 26 today. I have been blessed to have been with her for nearly 10 of those years. Each year I discover more and more things that I love about her. She is the greatest and I could not wish for a better person to spend the rest of my life with. Happy Birthday Sweetheart.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Book of Love

Goodbye Scrubs

"Endings are never easy. I always build them up so much in my head, they can't possibly live up to my expectations, and I just end up disappointed. I'm not even sure why it matters to me so much how things end here. I guess it's because that we all want to believe that what we do is very important: that people hang on to our every word, that people care what we think. The truth is, you should consider yourself lucky if you even occasionally get to make someone, anyone, feel a little better. After that, it's all about the people you let into your life."
-J.D. (Scrubs)-
It is funny how when watching a television show you can become so engrossed in the show that you actually feel like you "know" the characters. While watching the series finale, I actually became choked up with the incredible way Bill Lawrence wrapped up the show. I love the quote that Zach Braff gave in the episode too. It has literally gotten me thinking about all of the relationships in my own life. My wife and I were in Flagstaff for my graduation the other day and we were talking about all of our fun memories with our friends from school back in the day. It made me realize just how incredibly important relationships are to life. In the end, they are the only things that really matter. Life keeps pushing forward, but the memories and joy that people bring to our lives is what sustains us. So funny as it might be, I enjoyed my 8 years with the cast of Scrubs. It was just a silly tv show and yet it gave me a lot of laughs & joy. In the end, J.D. and Crew did make me "feel a little better."

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Next Rung

Why does the next monkey bar always seem so much further then the one behind you? As a kid I remember swinging to the next bar always seemed far more difficult then it actually was. It was always much easier to simply stay swinging on the same bar and never move forward. Yet that was never actually any fun or worthwhile. The only time the monkey bars were fun was when you were swinging forward or doing something reckless that made your mom worried. Yet as I have grown older I have lost that sense of fearlessness and replaced it with one of safety and comfort. I would rather stay with the safe & comfortable because venturing forth means facing the fear of the unknown. Yet just like when I was a kid - that desire to push beyond the realm of comfort remains - even if I have gotten use to keeping it contained. One of my favorite authors is John Eldredge and he put is this way, "Desire fuels our search for the life we prize. Our desire, if we listen to it, will save us from committing soul-suicide, the sacrifice of our hearts on the altar of 'getting by.' The same old thing is not enough. It never will be." So why does the same old thing tend to win out? Why do we settle? Why do we cling to the same rung on the monkey bars eyeing the one in front but knowing the only move we'll end up making is backwards or staying on the same rung? The sacrifice it takes to live in safety & comfort seems like a far bigger loss then the sacrifice of taking the chances on moving forward in life. Easy to acknowledge - but surprisingly difficult to do. Its a sad reality when you realize your 5-year-old self would look at your adult self with eyes of pity. So the encouragement is this - SWING FORWARD and see the adventure the awaits.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Shifty Politicians

Arlen Specter is a weasel. I have no problem with people switching their mind and changing their philosophy with time. I think that is natural and can even be a very good thing. However, his defection to the opposite political party reeks of selfish ambition and personal motivation to keep his Senate seat. Specter recently switched from being a Republican Senator from Pennsylvania to a Democrat. The primary problem I have with the switch was his statement of: "I've looked at the polls. I can't win as a Republican, I can't win as an independent. The only way I have a shot is to be a Democrat." What does the guy even stand for? This constant flip-flopping in order to secure a constant seat in Congress is stupid. It gets to the point where all politicians become so entangled with personal ambition and $$$ from shady supporters that you cannot trust any of them. The only thing I think we could do now would be to place mandatory term limits on everyone in Washington. Stop giving these losers the opportunity to sit forever in Washington and lose complete touch with their voting base and the people they supposedly represent. Republican or Democrat - honestly, it is becoming more and more apparent that they both are beyond saving right now.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Environment & Repression

And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into fewer hands, the number of dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression. -John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath-


I am re-reading The Grapes of Wrath right now, and loving it as much as I did the first time I opened the book. This semester I had two courses in environmental history. I had never studied much environmental history but through the course of the semester realized how much I love the subject. One of the themes that constantly came up was the habit of capitalism in America disregarding responsibility for caring for the environment. The push for wealth and accumulation of stuff blinds people to their need to be responsible. In an eerie way, the blatant disregard for the environment has mirrored the capitalist disregard for poor people. The unique tie-in with Steinbeck is that is one of the themes of his work. I am not ready to jump ship from capitalism, but I find it unique at how many Christians regard capitalism with reverent fear while turning a blind eye to the atrocities committed under its banner. In conjunction with that, I think Christians have moved far too slowly on the environmental front. One could argue this from the stewardship angle, but more important then that is that environmental degradation has a history of being tied to an absence of care and responsibility for those less privileged. Unfortunately, I do not think this will change much – at least not in America. The Almighty $ has too much pull for real change to become effective in moving the hearts and minds of people – no matter what their beliefs.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Leaving Too Early

"Kids should stay kids as long as possible; once you enter adulthood there's no turning back."
-Ed Azzam-
The other day on the radio (Sports 620 KTAR) I heard about a kid named Jeremy Tyler. He is an elite high school basketball player who is skipping his senior year of high school to head oversees to Europe to begin his professional career. I'm not sure I agree with the decision to do so. More and more I am seeing that kids are becoming adults far faster then they need to be or should be. I do believe teenagers are far more capable of doing things then they are given credit for, but at the same time I think kids need to be kids. Jeremy's life is forever going to be changed now. Sure he will make money. Sure he will be able to develop his basketball game at a higher level. But is it worth it all? Every single teenager I know right now that has been forced to give up some of their youth in exchange for having to act like an adult hates it. There is just something about being able to still be a kid that just makes life a little more tolerable. I think in the end this is going to be bad for Jeremy. And not only for him but the precedence that I think it will surely set. Hopefully he knows what he is doing - and hopefully the adults who are influencing him know the sacrifice they are pushing him to make. But in the end, I think he will look back and regret it - no matter how much $$ this decision brings in.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thanks Alan Hirsch

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tin Cup

I hit it again because that shot was a defining moment, and when a defining moment comes along, you define the moment... or the moment defines you. -Tin Cup-

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Jesus, germs, and love

So Easter services this weekend @ Central used the illustration of germs, with an excellent video and some funny props. Of course, the grand purpose of Easter was & is wrapped up in the idea that we as people were damned and Jesus decided something had to be done about it. As I thought about it all weekend long, I really thought about how much Jesus was willing to go through simply because he loved people. He truly lowered Himself, went through hell, and endured all the nasty, crummy, terrible things of being a human...simply because He loves us. As I thought about that I started thinking about my own kids. About how much I love both of them. This week has been trying as Trenton has been battling the flu and Sawyer has been going through the symptoms too. The hardest part is seeing them suffer with no idea as to why they are sick or if it will ever get better. Their sad cries, fever-ridden bodies, and runny noses have prevented them from a good night's sleep and any sort of peace around the house. Germs have run rampant as they cough, sneeze, and drool (its the Anderson lips curse) all over. Many a times they have both wanted to be held close and still kissed goodbye and goodnight. Knowing full well the consequences of holding a sick child close, kissing their germ covered lips, allowing for them to cough and wheeze on my face, and sleeping in their bed to calm their spirits - Danielle and I have continued to choose to do so all week. The result has been sickness taking over my body and beginning its damaging cycle on my body. Despite knowing this was bound to happen, I still would not change one moment. Given the opportunity to do things differently, I would still hold them, kiss them, sleep next to them, and let them hack a lung all over me. Why? Because in their moment of greatest weakness I wanted them to know more then ever that I understood their pain and still desperately loved them. I wanted them to feel that I was still close, willing to endure the sickness with them. Because that's what love is and that is what a daddy is suppose to do. In light of Easter, I caught a slight glimpse of why Jesus was willing to endure it all. Because that's what love is and that is what a God is suppose to do. Thank-you Jesus for all You have done and will continue to do. Thank-you Trenton and Sawyer for reminding me of how far love truly should go.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

RISK

I have always loved the game of RISK. Nothing can be more satisfying then complete global domination - but nothing can be more frustrating getting a poor start or poor roles and being eliminated. Either way the game is still a lot of fun to play. Lately I have been getting some great opportunities to play the game with friends, and have even taught some people the game. If you haven't played, there is an online version that is set-up in a ten round format between you and two computer players. It isn't as fun as playing with friends, but it satisfies the craving until we can get another game going.