Archive - May, 2011

All That You Can’t Leave Behind

I’ve learned that it’s often hard to make a break with our past. This is because people don’t just keep history, they drag it along behind them. While some people have baggage that they can’t get over, others have baggage that people won’t let them get over.

When I was nine I announced to my parents that I’d never marry.  I didn’t see the need since my life revolved mostly around television, cereal, and breakfast sausage.  With the advent of the microwave oven, women no longer factored into the equation that it took to produce the results I was looking for.

My father, amused by my reasoning, asked for me to put this in writing.  My mother drafted the document.  I couldn’t sign my name to it fast enough.

Because they recognized my synchronized ignorance of thinking and stupidity of speaking, they held onto this magna carta of moronity to show my fiancée 12 years later.

Sometimes you say something so stupid that you recognize it immediately after you say it.  Mostly though, you just say something stupid and you don’t notice the people around you wince.

As a pastor, I’ve spent the majority of my adult life surrounded by Christians. This means I’ve also spent serious quantities of time wincing, not because Christians say a lot of stupid things, all humans do, but because Christians usually say stupid things with the conviction of someone who believes that they are speaking on God’s behalf…. and he’s got their back.

I’m not the only one wincing.

It used to be hard for non-Christians to eaves drop on Christian conversation, but then urban churches with building space found themselves without congregants.  The last 20 years of nondenominational, suburban, church startups have since appeared at middle schools, movie theaters, and pizza places.  With classes meeting during the week and theaters selling tickets during matinee hours, the members of these churches need places to meet regularly during weekday hours.

The solution to this problem is the ubiquitous strip mall coffee shop.  For the price of a small latte, small groups can rent space to talk about their marital/financial/sexual struggles in a public forum that feels more like a living room than a confessional.

While this is more awkward than bad (it’s unpleasant when the espresso machine suddenly stops hissing and the person shouting to be heard over it is confessing their most carnal meditations) it does mean that a person who’s just come in for a caramel macchiato is probably going to get it alongside a healthy dose of “christian opinion”.


with Liberty and… Responsibility for all.

Today’s post is featured at Chris Goforth’s Journal.  Chris is a solid man, a loving father, and a dedicated husband who blogs about becoming the man God intended him to be.
Follow him on twitter: @pacnwdadof6.

When I leave town my wife spends her time catching up on all of the projects and goals she’s had to shelve because of her busy schedule.  Without me there, she uses her free time to attack a fairly long list of ventures.

This usually results in a flurry of activities and accomplishments.  I’ve often come home from a weekend speaking engagement to find repainted and reappointed rooms, clean windows, clean dogs, and clean pores… hers not mine.

I also use free time to catch up on things when she leaves town.  These things include, but are not limited to, the watching of movies that feature explosions, the watching of sports without talking, the eating of chips and donuts, and the feeling of gross after only three hours without her.

My weekend often consists of lying around on couches in unclean garments, un-bathed and unshaven.  She often returns home to find dishes in rooms that shouldn’t facilitate eating, overdue movie rentals, and an orange-tongued dog that served as my Cheeto washcloth.

Sometimes we receive times of unfettered liberty.  What we choose to do with those moments speaks volumes about who we are and what we value.

Liberty is incredibly important to Americans, so much so that we have a statue celebrating it.  Unfortunately we tend to forget that liberty is always earned.

During its early years, America earned its freedom during a series of conflicts with various European powers.  Each of these conflicts remained fresh in the memory of the individuals who had participated in them, helping them to remember the purchase price.

While the freedom to do as we please is essential to the American experience, we also understand that freedom is only beneficial for a society when that society’s individuals understand that liberty walks hand in hand with responsibility.


You Aren’t Convincing Me.

I remember the last time that I talked all of my friends into going to the movies with me. I say “last time” because it didn’t go well. It was the Summer of 1995, July 29th to be exact. I was 21 and I’d never seen a bad movie… not that I was aware of anyway.

I had no idea that I had spent my teens developing “taste” and was about to realize this at a movie that was a smorgasbord of garbage.

I had been bragging to my friends that “Waterworld” was going to be the blockbuster of the summer. How could it not be? In one of the greatest trailers of all time, Oscar winner Kevin Costner played a fish man, who sailed a futuristic catamaran, that launched Jet Skis into a post apocalyptic future, filled with bungee jumps. It was more 90’s than the 90’s.

It was also the biggest bust in the history of movies.

I had convinced a half-dozen college students that spending $6.50 on something that wasn’t food would be worthwhile. We watched Kevin Costner drink his own urine while drawling his way through an undercooked but overblown rip-off of the “Road Warrior”. I got teased about it for years. No one who was there will let me forget it.

The movies that get remembered are the ones so good you want to see them again, or so bad you need to see them again with a friend. The rest are enjoyed to a degree and then lost to history which is sad, because many agreeable films are never seen by a large audience.

One of these is the 1996 period/dramedy “That Thing You Do.” Set in the “Mid Beatles” 1960’s, Tom Hanks directorial debut features a great story, a good ensemble cast, and a tone that is cheeky without losing its innocence.

There’s a classic moment where Jimmy, the overly focused artist, tries to convince Lenny, the good time guitarist, that their band name, “The Wonders”, should be spelled “The Oneders”.

Lenny’s response is, “Looks like the Ohneeders.” Jimmy clarifies by explaining that the word “One” could be the wordplay to “One-ders” as “Beat” is to “The Beatles”.

Lenny’s response? “Got it… looks like Ohneeders.”

The scene works because while Jimmy is assuming that Lenny doesn’t get the wordplay, it’s actually Jimmy who’s missing the point. Jimmy’s successful lobbying for the pun mean’s that the band plays a lot of pizza joints where everyone’s come to see “The Ohneeders.”

I’ve found that when it comes to making decisions, leadership is actually a lot more like Jimmy than we want to believe.

I’ve spent a lot of time going from person to person, then meeting to meeting, believing that if I just explained my idea well enough, people would want to get on board with it.

The truth is that sometimes people just don’t want to do something, and no amount of explaining, or making people listen, will convince them to change their mind on the matter.


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