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A Bankrupt Idea

If you’ve spent even 5 minutes on Facebook you’ve seen an ad for “Rich Dad Poor Dad”, a book written by financial Guru Robert Kiyosaki.  In the book Kiyosaki claims to dish on all the secrets Rich Dads tell their kids that Poor Dads don’t.

The premise is that Rich Dads educate their kids about how money is made and multiplied, and that Poor Dads don’t.  If a person were to take the advice of a Rich Dad, then they would have the information needed to have a life that is more financially successful, and a financially successful life is more rewarding and pleasurable than a poor one.

Critics of Kiyosaki’s books and public speaking sessions assert that “Rich Dad advice” sounds a lot like marketing ploys, real estate schemes, and insider trading.

Kiyosaki’s claims are very similar to the classic enlightenment assertion that inside information and secret knowledge will carry you to success; in short, “Education is everything.”

While I won’t throw a wet blanket on a quality education in the three R’s, I do believe that espousing education as a remedy for our social and moral ills is an oversimplification of the human condition.

We aren’t just ignorant… we are also selfish and lazy.

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Mixing A Little God In

I’m realizing that people say the stupidest things, and by people I mostly mean me but I’ll bet you say some stupid stuff too don’t you?

The other day I was wondering about some of these stupid things and I realized that we have a whole bunch of phrases that we like to use that don’t really mean anything.

Like the other day I was with two people and one of them got mad at the other one so they stood up and stormed out of the room and the other one said, “Don’t let the door hit you on the ____ on the way out!” 

Have we ever wanted the door to hit someone in the blank on the way out?

Wouldn’t this have been the perfect time for wanting the door to hit someone?

What about when you’re sitting in a room with a friend talking about someone and then they walk in?  One of the two of you is obligated to say, “Well speak of the devil!”

Did we just call this person the devil?

It’s not enough that they were probably already worried that we were talking about them, but now we also insult them?

Whenever I walk into a room and someone says this, I just introduce myself to everyone else in the room as “the devil”.

What about  the phrase “Thank God?”

Have you ever found yourself saying “thank God” and wondered if you’ve really meant it?

You know what I mean, you’ve said “thank God” on a reflex,  like “thank God” was an exclamatory phrase akin to “awesome” or “oh yeah”.

I started thinking about this the other day so I made a list of things that I’ve “thanked God for” insincerely:

Getting a front row parking space at Fred Meyer,

Finding the remote control in the couch cushions,

The Red Sox winning the World Series,

Getting the last slice of pizza,

Getting off with a warning,

Not failing something I should have failed,

Finding a pair of jeans that fit AND look good after the age of 30,

Van Halen getting back together,

The lawn mower starting on the first pull,

School being cancelled for snow,

Church being cancelled for snow,

Finding a Nintendo Wii.

Remembering the password to my online banking account.

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The Blue Plane

Growing up as a poor Baptist child in the 1970’s, I went to church three times… per Sunday.

Every Sunday started with Sunday school classes.  Sunday school classes were the most fun part of church because there was generally some coloring and a graham cracker involved. You also got to be with other kids your age and a nice old lady who made sure that “everyone” had his eyes closed during prayer.

Immediately following Sunday school was the church service. The only fun part of church service was the standing up on the pew during the first and the second song so you could help your mom hold the hymnal.  Immediately following the second song everyone sat down to sing verses one and four of the third song while the ushers passed out the gold offering plates.

After the plates were collected the sermon began and you were in for a 60-minute test of childhood endurance.  Your only hope was that there might be communion tables set out at the front because that meant the preacher was going to have to cut the sermon short by ten minutes.

After church you’d go home, take off your church clothes, and be free for about 4 hours until, just as Battlestar Galactica was starting, you’d have to pile back in the car so you could go to “The Evening Service”.

Now unlike the prefabricated, flannel graph world of Sunday school and the staid, organ driven pomp of the church service, evening service was a completely different animal.

I don’t know who was in charge of planning evening services at our church, but whoever it was, was a marketing mastermind, because ANYTHING could happen during evening service.

Some nights were good:
You might show up and there would be missionaries from Borneo presenting a slide show and saying their names in Bornese!  Other times there might be a singing group filled with beautiful girls drumming up business for a Bible college.

Some nights were bad:
Like a whole night of singing hymns.  Adults would call out the number of a song in the hymnal and then the whole church would join in.  The only fun part was calling out a number between 419 and 500 which were the Christmas carols and patriotic songs (both of which were out-of-place in mid-April.)

Worse yet, there also seemed to be an endless supply of musical families traveling across America in Airstream trailers.  Dad on the piano, mom and the girls singing, the oldest brother with a banjo, and the littlest one with a sock puppet.

Evening service was a veritable cornucopia of possibilities, but no possibility was greater than that of the itinerant Gospel “ventrillusionist.”  The Gospel ventrillusionist was a man who traveled the country, in the name of Jesus, with a talking puppet and a magic set.

He would generally show up on a Sunday night and then have meetings every evening of the week culminating in a big super spectacular on Friday night!  It was this guy’s job to do magic tricks and terrify us with his freaky puppet, and it was our job to memorize Bible verses and bring our friends.

Usually he would give you a Bible bookmark with a spot for your name on it, and then for every Bible verse you memorized or friend you brought you would get a hole punch in the bookmark.  At the Friday spectacular all of the kids would turn in their bookmark for various toys and nominal candy prizes.

I got really excited when I looked in the prize box and saw a toy airplane.  It was blue plastic with foam wings and a rubber band powered propeller.  I knew then that I would do whatever it took to make that airplane mine.

I brought every kid I knew to see this guy. I memorized every verse on the list and for extra credit I drew out the First, Second, and Third Missionary Journeys of the Apostle Paul from the maps in my 1611 KJV Bible.

I got a ton of hole punches.

Friday night came and everyone turned in their bookmark.  After the tabulations they started calling names and lining kids up in the order that would be allowed to pick out of the prize box.  They called my older brother’s name first and then a couple of his friends.  I knew I should be next, but instead they just kept calling out other kids names.

I knew that there had to be a mistake because a couple of kids that I brought got their names called before me, and they didn’t even come that first night!

They never called my name.

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