The Iron Giant

I don’t use notes when I speak, and I get a lot of questions about this. By far, the most common question is this, “Are you just making it up in your head as you’re talking up there?”  The answer is, “Absolutely not.”  While all I have on stage with me is a copy of the text, A LOT of writing takes place throughout the week.  Each sermon begins and ends as a manuscript.  I write out the entirety of what I’m hoping to say, and then begin the painful process of removing everything that I feel “doesn’t need to be said this Sunday” or “Gets said nearly every Sunday.”

This leaves me with “What I’m going to say.”

Each speaker has a unique approach that is fairly representative of how their mind works and how they work best.  For me, the writing process gets “it” out of my head, and the editing process locks “it” into my heart.  To avoid rabbit trails and maintain continuity during the three services I try not to say anything that wasn’t manuscripted.  Because several of you have asked to see it, here is the manuscript for last Sunday’s sermon “The Iron Giant”, followed by the Audio from the 11 o’ clock service.

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Worse Than We Want It To Be

There’s very little that’s right about the life of Barbara Millicent Rogers.  Since graduating from Willows High School in Wisconsin she’s been torn apart for her impossible beauty even though she’s enjoyed a very successful career as a schoolteacher, veterinarian, astronaut, jazzercise instructor and baby sitter while serving in the National Guard.

Despite these “Aaron Spelling approved” contributions to feminism, Barbie is once again under fire for promoting an unhealthy image of beauty and desirability for young girls.  This week Galia Slayen, a former student at Portland’s Lincoln High School travels the morning talk show circuit with her own creation, a “life size” Barbie who is a dramatic representation of  eating disorders.

That Barbie represents a miniature totem of the American idealization of beauty can’t be disagreed with, it would be like trying to say that cigarrettes aren’t addictive.  Everyone would believe that you had an agenda that you were trying to push and you’d lose all credibility… and an election.

But what if the problem wasn’t just what OUR LOVE of Barbie tells us about beauty?

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What’s In A Name?

Having a good name is terribly important in several ways, the first of which is what I call “inspirational quotient.” No matter how handsome, intelligent, or athletic a man is, it’s going to be difficult for him to overcome a name like Fester. The proof of this is that we give impossibly awesome names to our perceived heroic archetypes.

It isn’t enough for a man to be powerful, principled, and noble, he also needs to have a last name for a first name, and a last name that’s a place where you can meet girls. If you don’t believe me, consider how cool the name Jackson Breckenridge is.

Jackson Breckenridge is the kind of man who doesn’t have to choose between making love OR war, he fixes cars but has clean hands, and eats his steaks while YOU get the high cholesterol.

If Jackson Breckenridge offends your less than chauvinistic sensibilities you can go the more sensitive route when naming your demigod by giving him a first name that’s an old timey occupation and a vaguely ethnic last name… like Cooper Johansen.

Cooper Johansen plays banjo and upright bass, reads J.D. Salinger in French, and has a tattoo of Mr. Peanut just below his armpit. He watches Charlie Rose, writes children’s books, and even his black-framed glasses cry as he listens to the rainstorm.

Of course giving someone a name like Cooper or Jackson means that you’ve also set some pretty high expectations for them in the minds of their potential fan bases, because a kid with a name like Austin Majors either grows up to be an astronaut or quarterback.

Conversely, no one expects much of a Fester… other than slowly simmering in a pool of seething frustration and bitterness towards some remarkably clueless parents. When your name is Fester the pressure is off you and onto society, you get to say your name to someone’s face while simultaneously daring THEM to break eye contact.

This is why I think it’s time for Tiger Woods to quit pretending that his first name isn’t really Eldrick.

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