Friday, October 31, 2008

It's gettin' churchy up in here, again.

For the All Good Gifts stewardship program at Broadway, we include a devotional reflection (scripture, reflection, prayer) each week in our bulletin.

We've had folks write about the Gift of Presence, the Gift of Conversations, the Gift of Service, and Financial Gifts. This month we're talking about the Gift of Prayer. But somehow November surprised me, and we were without a writer from the congregation for this week's devotional -- so I did it. It appears below. ("The Gift of Prayer: Wrote a devotional about it. Like to hear it? Here it goes...")



Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you've sinned, you'll be forgiven—healed inside and out.

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.

James 5: 13-16 (The Message)


I come, O God, wondering. As I prepare to approach you, God, I wonder why your presence fills me with both boundless hope and awesome fear. My human mind can’t know how your love for me flows over me without ceasing, but my heart feels the embrace of your warmth and my soul hears the silver lilt of your welcoming laughter.

I come, O God, wandering. The path before me, God – before us, you and me – is not straight, nor narrow, nor smooth, nor flat. It bears twists and turns, hills and valleys, highways and byways. Sometimes I take a shortcut, sometimes the long way ‘round. But we keep finding our way back to each other … although you find me more than I find you.

I come, O God, trembling. Entering into conversation with you, God, can be overwhelming – you, who know and see and create everything. I tremble with the uncertain trepidation of one who does not know. I tremble with the angry heartbreak of a disappointed friend. I tremble with the anxious anticipation of a child on Christmas Eve. I tremble because my whole body knows that something – something big, something beautiful, something challenging, something scary … something! – is about to happen. It always does when we talk.

I come, O God, for you are here. In prayer, my God, I open myself to you so that you can open me even more. I give myself to you – my attention and intention, my hopes and my dreams and my fears – so that you can find even more of me to give to you and to others. I am fully present to you so that you can make me more fully present to myself and to others.

I come wondering, wandering, and trembling, O God, for you are here.



Loving and patient God,
Thank you for the infinitely powerful and eternally renewable gift of prayer. Help me to remember that prayer can take many forms, occur in many places, and happen any time, for you are with me, ready to talk and to listen, wherever I am. Amen.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oh! Now I get the American economy.

You may keep your spreadsheets and your charts, your hifalutin talk of collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps, your Dow Jones Industrial Averages and your Standards & Poor'ses.

In 60 seconds, I can explain how we got into the mess that led to a $700 Billion-with-a-B economic bailout rescue bill that who even knows if it's gonna work. Friends, I give you, Why The American Economy Is In The Crapper:



If we had any self-control, as individuals and as a nation, we'd be a lot better off than we are. That's all I'm saying.

Postscript: I had dinner with my parents the other night and they tried to explain to me the above clip, which they had seen in its original airing. Let's just say I have great respect for the restraint and compassion my father showed in describing this unfortunate fellow using only the adjectives "idiotic" and "overweight."

Video via BestWeekEver.tv, which you ought to be reading every day.

Facebook Deja Vu

This Facebook malarkey has gotten out of hand, with all the worlds collidin' and the friendin' and the plinkin' and the plunkin' and the Jello puddin'...

But!

I have identified three groups of friends whom I would like to connect with: the aforementioned Orientation kids, the aforementioned Ghana kids, and the unaformentioned kids I spent seven weeks in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, with in 1990 as part of a foreign-language immersion program for high school students run through IU. So, if you happened on to this blog and you fit one of those categories -- or you know someone who might -- e-mail me at the address above, because come on, man, let's be friends!

And here's the weird thing...because you know there's always got to be a weird thing. The weird thing is this: I just went through my high school class on Facebook and friend-requested Sara Cassetti and decided if she confirmed me as a friend (fingers crossed!) I would ask her if she remembered anyone's full name from when we were in San Luis together. Within 15 minutes of me sending that friend request, Jason Hazelett, the guy whose host family lived right around the corner from mine in San Luis, friend-requested me!

AND! THEN!

Afi Eframian, a friend from the Carmel H.S. Orchestra, confirmed me as a friend and said, "How totally bizarre....I was just thinking about how I needed to 'add' you as a friend today to see what you have been up to.....great minds think alike, I guess."

!!!

It's like I'm directly plugged in to The Inter-web-o-tron this evening! I can almost feel the Nigerian scams coursing through my veins, I can almost hear the dozens of hot women in my city begging me for a date tonight, I can almost see my ... [ahem] ... enlargening.

I feel so webby.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Commemorative T-Shirts

In which the blogger toots his own horn through the words of others

When I was a younger adult (that is, five to fifteen years ago), I worked in a number of short-term teamwork situations and established a tradition of having my co-workers sign, with multi-colored Sharpies, a t-shirt representing our experience when it came to its conclusion, much like one would sign a yearbook at the end of a school year. I recently had occasion to re-discover these t-shirts and read through them again. I'm going to transcribe those t-shirts for you here. ("Wrote a song about it. Like to hear it? Here it goes...")

Shirt from IU's Summer Orientation Program 1996, when I was one of the student-staff supervisors
  • It has been fabulous working with you this summer. I have had the best time and I learned a lot. So, watchagonnawanndois* stay in touch! ~ Kate
  • Scott - Honestly the bestest boss in the whole wide world, thanks for making a difficult job FUN! ~ Gretch
  • Scott, It has been an absolutely wonderful experience working with you this summer. To use your words, Scott, you're cool! Have a good rest of the summer!! ~ Kim
  • Scott, Thank you for being such a good example for us all to follow. You are a very good person and I will never forget you! ~ Maurice
  • Scott, Thanks for a great summer! You really made it so much better, with all the scavenger hunts, cookouts, and groovy messages. I really appreciate everything you went out of your way for. Even though I lost my watch, I look at it as a sacrifice because you have one now. Love you, Sue
  • Scott: Thanks for a great two years of fun with Orientation. You've been with me when I struggled at BW-3's (Blazin's) and in the Forest Dining Hall (The "Vulture"). Thanks for being the biggest role model of our Orientation experience. You truely made this program the way it is: friendly, fun, and always exciting! Take care, Greg
  • Scott -- Just wanna say thanks for being such a great leader, motivator, and all-around person. Keep your eyes peeled + watch for "taco-stick days!" ~ Brandon
  • Scott - Wow, what can we say. You are just one of the most awesome, creative individuals I have ever met. I have learned so much from you. Thanks for it all. Whatchagonnawannadois* stay special and keep in touch! [Heart}, Sarah
  • Scott - You Rock!!! I've already told you a thousand times before, you're great. Truely, it's been a great honor to work with someone who is as wise as you. ~ Rob
  • Well, Scott, what can I say...Thanks for everything!!! Kings Island, When I hit my head, When I was sick, Being a great friend and leader. Keep in touch, Chris A.
  • Scott, I don't know how to thank you for all of your enthusiasm. You kept me going. I will never forget this experience. ~ Liz
  • Thanks for an awesome experience, killer scavenger hunts, and for being yourself (which means being hip)! ~ Dave D.
  • Scott, You are totally awesome. You were a great leader. Thanks for everything. ~ Scott
  • Scott: It's been fun knowing you! Thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity! You're a great leader. ~ Tasha
  • Scott, I learned so much from you in so little time. You did a great job. ~ Darrell
  • Scott, I had a fantastic time working with you the past two years. You are a fabulous, wonderful person. Best wishes always! ~ Andrea
  • S. S. Semester, Thanks for an awesome experience! You are a great motivator and mean so much to me! Whatchagonnawannadois* Ha! Always remember that what you do best you do most. Kings Island Forever! 3 outfits are best and quite impressive! Thanks! ~ Southern Comfort [Me: Who? Oh, Courtney.]
  • Scott -- You are the most positive person I've ever met. I'm so happy I had the opportunity to work with you. You are a wonderful person! You will do well in anything you choose to do. Thanks for being a great teacher and friend. ~ Susannah

* In the summer of 1994, the first summer I worked on the summer program staff, we invented the word "Whatchagonnawannadois" because "What you are going to want to do is..." took too long to say when we were giving lost parents directions to get caught up with their children students. This became instantly ingrained in the culture of the student staffs for the four years I worked with the program, including 1996, my third year on the team and first year as one of the supervisors.


From IU's Summer Orientation Program 1997, when I was again one of the student-staff supervisors

  • Scott, working with you has been a pleasure! Orientation did not even feel like a real "job"! This mainly is due to you and your leadership style. Scott, you're the BOMB! (unsigned)
  • Scott, Thanks for everything! That's the best way to sum up my thanks to you. Best wishes, Jo'el
  • Scott, Do you have any more gum? That is correct. Thanks for your example. ~Stan
  • Scott, you are a wonderful person! I so enjoyed working with you for the past three years. Keep in touch, Andrea
  • El Capitan, you did a great job this summer! -- Shay
  • Scott -- You make me think, you make me laugh. I'm so glad you've been a part of my life. ~ Melanie
  • You make me giggle! [Heart], Shannon, or "Schwannian the Sheath"**
  • Scott S. - Ooohh! Your inspiring words and encouragement have meant so much to me....You are MY role model. Good luck! [Heart] Keisha
  • Scott, You are awesome! Orientation was the best job I've ever had, and in large part it was due to you! Good luck @ the Disco (also known as Briscoe)! ~Jenni
  • Scott, Keep up that laughter journal! Oprah could call any day! ~ Mo
  • Scott -- You are truly a good friend and inspiration to me. I love your sense of humor and you rock as a leader and boss. You will rock in whatever you do! Stay in touch! [Heart], Rachel PS - Where did you get the butter?
  • YOU ROCK! Scott, You are the greatest! Have fun at Briscoe and at WQ! ~ Scott
  • "Hi, guys!" Thanks for not attacking first and asking questions later! You've been a real role model to me! See you in the North Tri-Quad! ~ Sean
  • Scott -- Thanks for all you do. We couldn't have made this program a success without you. Thanks for your smiles, feedback, and encouragement. Good luck! Take care! ~ Jen
  • Hey Scott, I'd still die for you guys. ~ BR
  • Scott -- Thank you for everything. You are a great friend and an awesome boss. You rock my world with your ghetto ass!! You make things happen! ~ Ro
**My co-supervisor was named Shannon. We used WordPerfect97 for all our premillennial word-processing needs, and the WP97 spellcheck did not care for the word "Shannon." It always suggested the word Schwannian, meaning "of or relating to the Schwann cells," which form a protective, insulating myelin sheath which covers peripheral nerves. Hence, "the Sheath."


From Cross-Cultural Solutions's Ghana Program in June/July/August 2003, when I was the only one over the age of 22 with a group of American and European volunteers in West Africa

  • To the most amazing man with a million and one talents -- ¡Thank You! [Heart] Darcy
  • Croutons forever -- the Garlic kind. Love, Danielle
  • I am so impressed with everything you touch for it all turns to gold. Love, Sarah
  • It's time for ... Key Number!*** You're my favorite game-show host ever! ~ Katy
  • Remember Ziavi -- the most peaceful & hectic place ever. I loved sharing it with you! [Heart] Sonya
  • A voluntre man work with faith. ~Kwaku
  • You have done an excellent job. We shall all miss you. Come back again - and soon! ~ Ellen
  • Here's a tip!*** Do not eat the skin of a grasscutter! Good luck in Canada! [Heart], Hope
  • To the master of fun, the entertainer, the king of cream. ~ Sam
  • SCOTT: Special, Caring, Old, Terrific, Talented. I would touch you for all of these! ~ Abby

*** Since there was nothing at all to do after dark in Ho, we had to get creative. I invented the game show Key Number, which was sort of like "Outburst" and "Name That Tune" all rolled into one. (We should play it some time.) I also started my own improvised cooking show. Based heavily on what I had seen on the Food Network, my catchphrase was "Here's a tip!" and I would then drop some helpful-hint knowledge on the younger kids -- stuff like how to get the skin off garlic easily or how to make a double boiler for melting chocolate. (BTW, grasscutter is a large rodent that is found all over Ghana. Ghanaians can eat it. You should not.)

Liveblogging the BarackOmercial

Barack Obama has bought some time on network TV tonight. I'm gonna liveblog his infomercial.



8:45 I wonder what the BarackOmercial will be like in other time zones. Will Barack, et al, do the live campaign event four times throughout the evening? I wouldn't if I were them, but will 3/4 of the country feel ripped off?

8:29 The Florida crowd loses its collective mind. I wonder how the rest of the country feels, as The West Wing music comes back to the forefront. Joe Biden and Barack smile together and send us to watch Howie Mandel try to give away a million dollars.

8:28 Crap! There's only six days left until the election. What are we going to talk about after Tuesday?

8:27 Barack will not be a perfect president, but he promises always to tell us what he thinks and where he stands and be honest and listen. The West Wing music swells again as he invites us to be involved in our own democracy again, as we cut to a live event in Florida.

8:26 Gov. Bill Richardson (New Mexico) also endorses Barack.

8:25 Barack clowns around with women in hairnets.

8:24 Brig Gen John Adams endorses Barack.

8:24 Barack will rebuild the military for the 21st century. FINALLY sharks with lasers and cyborg monkeys! No? Just me?

8:22 Mark and Melinda are struggling to make ends meet. I wonder if there's anyone who's really excelling financially right now.

8:21 Barack talks highly about Biden. Does anyone remember when Biden called Obama the first "clean" and articulate African-American candidate? I'm just saying...

8:20 Sen. Dick Durbin (Illinois) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (Missouri) and Sen. Joe Biden (Delaware, also Barack's VP candidate) tell us what Barack has done in Washington.

8:19 Michelle makes an appearance to humanize Barack. He has read every Harry Potter book with the girls and calls them every night. (Awwww!)

8:18 Back to the NotOval Office, where Barack talks about access to education and healthcare. Then, we get Sensitive Barack talking about his mom's death from cancer.

8:17 Back to Denver for more speechifying. He's really good at that.

8:16 We learn more about Barack's family.

8:15 An on-screen graphic indicates a live Obama event later in the program. (This is only a half-hour program, right?)

8:14 I knew we should have taken that left turn in Albuquerque. We meet a woman who is a special-needs educator working two jobs and attending classes.

8:13 Barack cares about the American working man, like Dan Aykroyd's character in Tommy Boy.

8:12 Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, and Gov. Tim Kaine (Virginia) endorse Barack.

8:11 Barack will go through the budget line by line for savings, and he specifically addresses Iraq. Cut to a clip from one of the debates, and then a town hall meeting.

8:09 Barack addresses us directly -- not just short-term, but long-term solutions: $15B a year in alternative energy, five million new green collar jobs, work with Big Auto, tap natural gas reserves and expand domestic oil production. He'll also call on every American to join in conservation efforts.

8:08 We meet the Stevenses, who live where blues music plays all the time. Mrs. Stevens takes lots of medicines for her arthritis. When Larry retired, the cost of her medicine was so great that Larry had to go back to work (at Wal-Mart, if his nametag is any indication).

8:07 Gov. Ted Stevens (Ohio) and Gov. Kathleen Sibelius (Kansas) and Gov. Deval Patrick (Massachusetts) all talk about Barack's Midwest roots and leadership.

8:06 A nice older man talks with Barack about getting screwed out of his pension, and then a necktie-less Barack addresses the issue.

8:05 Barack outlines his financioeconomic plan to grow the economy and keep people on the job.

8:04:30 Barack: The Financial Rescue Plan is a step in the right direction, but we need a Middle-Class Rescue Plan.

8:04 I see they got the music director from The West Wing to score this.

8:03 Barack (because, come on, he's voicing over this as though he's a trusted friend) says he's met a ton of people just trying to figure out how to pay their mortgage.

8:02 Rebecca Johnston is all about her family. Her MASSIVE family.

8:01 Obama greets us in an office that is Totally Not the Oval Office. (But it sure looks like it, but homier.)

8:00 He's Barack Obama and he approved this ad.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bloggy Birthday, Dear Scotty, Bloggy Birthday To You!

Hey, you guys! Guess what? It's my Second Bloggaversary!

Actually, it was two years and two days ago when I first started the blog as a way to keep Jon's, Nat's, Spike's, and Mike's (and later Jenny's) inboxes free from breathless "OHMYGOSHDIDYOUSEETHIS!" e-mails. They have not yet thanked me for this...mostly because I still send them random link- and video-containing e-mails with the same frequency as before, and also because I think they only seldom read this blog.

In 845 posts over the last two years, I have tackled such pressing topical issues as leprechauns, zombies, and zebras. I have made acquaintances in Michigan and danced in Qatar. I have liveblogged until my fingers bled and updated from Colorado, Sierra Leone, and India.

As I've been sidelined with this sore throat and (un)common cold yesterday and today, I've been reflecting on the last couple years and spent some time reviewing what I've written here. Here's an interesting Wordle, made of the 225 most common words that have appeared among the 131,636 words I have written on the blog in the last two years:


So, anyway, Happy Bloggaversary to us! Here's to another (at least) two years!

Scary-as-hell little girl -- did she start the fire?

Here I sit, fading in and out of sickness-and-generic-Nyquil-induced sleep, clinging desperately to the hope that I might, in the next few minutes, find my binkie, and I'm wondering how I'm going to spend the next 20 hours or so of self-imposed quarantine here at home. I click over to Best Week Ever (of course) and find this sparkling gem of internetica:


It is unclear from my (nonexistent) research whether this girl actually started the fire pictured. But come on -- is there any question, really?

BuzzFeed has invited The Internet to create other "Disaster Girl" pictures. Check 'em out.

And if you've seen my binkie, send me an e-mail...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Andrew Lloyd Webber? I don't even know 'er!

The first musical I remember seeing is West Side Story, when, in eighth or ninth grade, Mrs. Smith showed us the movie so that we might compare and contrast it with Romeo and Juliet.*

But the first musical I committed fully to memory, without even having seen it, was The Phantom of the Opera. Something about the tortured genius must have resonated with my teenage angst.

This all came flooding back to me when I, for some reason, downloaded an album called "The Very Best of Andrew Lloyd Webber." It has 30 songs from a bunch of ALW musicals -- Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Evita, etc. -- recreated by some random people who came together to make a record. I like most of the songs, but there are some that I just can't take. For some reason "Starlight Express" makes me physically gag, and the way the woman, who is totally not Madonna, sings "What's new, Buenos Aires?!" makes me laugh hysterically.

But the Phantom songs take me back to a simpler time...a time when I could listen to the same original cast recording over and over (and subject my parents to it over and over on the way to a family visit in Akron, OH) and really live through the music to create a production in my head. A time when I could sit on the floor of my friend Natalie's living room with her and her mom and her sisters and Jon and Jason and sing along to the soundtrack at the top of our lungs. A time when I could make up stories in my head about what the plot would be like from the point of view of the guy who worked at the box office, or one of the Opera Populaire's audience members, or, like, what if you were one of Raoul's friends, and he told you he was going to try to trap this psycho musical genius in a mask (the Opera Ghost who signs his mysterious letters "O. G.") who had this stalkerish crush on his girlfriend as a result of some weird mentor/mentee relationship. ("You're going to whatnow? Dude.")

Talk about suspension of disbelief.

But, you know, to me, that's what makes the world of The Musical so special. It's like this alternate universe where it's totally acceptable to break out in song as you explain how you're going to get the bad guy or win the girl or, I don't know, run errands and go get lunch. Ah, but that's the difference, isn't it? Entertainment is entertainment -- to me -- exactly because it's not about doing laundry** and buying stamps and getting your oil changed; rather, it's about the extraordinary events -- so extraordinary that they cannot be experienced in spoken word but must be lived through song.

While a traditional play might move me to think or to cry or to laugh, musical theatre, for me, adds a layer of imagination that just plain drama doesn't have. It's like seeing the world in a different way and embracing the most absurd possibilities -- gang members who dance? a disfigured opera ghost? puppets that swear and have sex? -- as just that: possibilities.

The point -- and I do believe there is one in here somewhere -- is not that I long for my life to be like a musical (I gave up on that 12 years ago), but that I am thankful to all those who create musical theatre for us because they can lead our minds and hearts to wonder.

And wonder is a resource in short supply these days.



* You know, even though I've derided crappy internet essays you can buy online, I really think I must have gotten my "Compare and contrast Officer Krupke with [Establishment Character from Romeo & Juliet]" essay outline almost directly from the very-analog Cliffs Notes. Hence, I cannot remember which character I had to compare and contrast to Officer Krupke. Everybody else got, like, "Compare and contrast Juliet and Maria," or "Compare and contrast Romeo and Tony," or "Compare and contrast Riff and Mercutio," or whatever. How the hell did I get Officer Krupke? But I did.

** Unless it's Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, in which case it is awesome.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It's the latest quiz that's sweeping the interweb-o-tron!

Outside my window right now is:
A windswept pond lake loch and a tree that once served as the anchor for a goose nest until the Anti-Gooseite Fascists in the neighborhood flexed their jack-booted nest-eradication strategy and destroyed both the nest and the eggs in it.

My daily rhythm is:
Wake up, head to the bathroom and then go back to bed to live in denial of the morning for a bit. Usually I have my computer in bed with me, so I check some e-mail and Twitter before getting up, feeding Milo, selecting and ironing my clothes for the day, taking a shower (I'm a wasteful in-the-shower tooth-brusher and shaver), getting dressed and heading to work.

I am thankful for:
A caring family and the undeserved, unconditional love that comes along with it.

In the kitchen:
I have a fridge full of old leftovers, five almost-empty cereal boxes (Rice Chex, Frosted Mini-Wheats, Apple Dapples -- not even Apple Jacks, Cocoa Pebbles, Fruity Pebbles), a slowly-dying microwave oven, two cookbooks, and a set of knives from IKEA.

Breakfast:
Is not really my bag, baby. But I do enjoy a nice yogurt-and-fruit parfait.

I haven't found:
My One Big Thing yet.

Lunch:
Usually carryout or drive-thru. I need to eat less food from a bag.

Supper:
Usually eaten out. Tonight was Outback Steakhouse.

I am wearing:
My favorite jeans and a really, really, really old purple dress shirt. Will be visiting the Kohl's or the SteinMart soon.

I am creating:
My plan for the next 18 months.

Bringing beauty to my home:
Is a lot easier with help from my dad who is creating really cool stuff, like a handmade wooden top for Milo's cage and a new hearth-type thing for the fireplace area at the condo.

I am reading:
The Theban Plays (the zany, madcap adventures of Oedipus) by Sophocles, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, and this week's Entertainment Weekly magazine.

I am hoping:
To do some more singing and laughing and dancing and writing very soon.

Around the house:
There's way more rabbit fur than I ever thought possible.

I am making plans for:
The coming week -- things to do at work and things to do outside of work. Print pieces and creative work stuff, dinners and lunches and fun outside-of-work stuff.

Big, big weekend! (Not really.)

This weekend flew by, and I don't rightly know what happened to it. But here's the briefest of rundowns:

Friday night, I had dinner with my parents, which was awesome, as usual. We got pizza and salad from Some Guys in Carmel. If you are in Central Indiana, get thee to a Some Guys near you immediately. After dinner, I came home and chilled with Milo, my rabbit. He and I talked about life and love, but I had to call it an early night when he wouldn't shut up about this girl rabbit he used to know.

On Saturday, I stayed in bed until noon, making good use of my laptop, wi-fi, and Hulu.com, which I've mentioned before. You should check it out. (Did you check it out yet?)

For lunch, my friend Will and I went to The US-40 Diner in Plainfield, a 50-year-old (wait for it) diner on US-40. It's actually a pretty cool place and we had a great meal.

After lunch, I headed over to Myrna's (also in Plainfield) to pick her up for a trip to Greencastle for Julia and Brandon's wedding. I know neither Julia nor Brandon, but Myrna's on a Fall Wedding Tour, and this was the second of three stops for which I was the designated date. (Next stop: Gary on November 8-9!) The wedding was great, although it was a little heavy on the wives-be-subservient-to-your-husbands malarky for my taste.

The reception was held at the Putnam County Airport. Believe me when I tell you, this is much cooler than it sounds. The Dixie Chopper Something Something Business Center has a big airplane hangar that's attached to a bar and restaurant, and they actually use the hangar as a banquet space. The reception took a little while to get started, and by the time we got around to dinner and dancing, I was about as anxious to get out on the dance floor as the two-year-old twins (Daniel and William) of my new friends Meggan and Kevin were. Over dinner, I met a bunch of nice people, but by dancing time, it was just me, Myrna, Alison and Emery (and Meggan, Kevin, and the boys at another table). Luckily, that was more than enough to keep the party going. We danced and we danced and then we stopped and then we danced some more. I was exhausted by the time we got home, but it was a blast! I'm looking forward to next weekend's bonfire with some of my new friends.

Today was a big, big church day that, mid-way through, got shortened to just a one-big church day. That is to say, the three-hour meeting scheduled after the one-hour meeting got canceled. So I got to enjoy a little bit of Sunday afternoon! Which I promptly squandered on a nap and general goofery. This evening I helped Will a little bit with some moving tasks and then we went to dinner.

Which brings us to here and now. I realize, faithful reader, that my blog has recently been more of a journal/diary (in the European sense) than the humorous-column- or insightful-observation- or video-based merriment you've come to adore. Therefore, I shall work on a couple of solid posts for later this week and hopefully we'll get back in the groove.

Until then, I remain your obedient servant, O.G.*


*That reference is a clue to what one upcoming post will be about. If you get that reference, you are either someone I went to college with or you are a far bigger nerd than I realized patronize this internet establishment.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

GET SOME CULCHAH!

The last few days have been full of fun and excitement and, dare I say, sophistimacation.

Last Saturday, I got to meet Congressman André Carson when his office hosted an Energy Conservation and Assistance Forum at Broadway Church. The Congressman and five other panelists spoke about ways people can lower their utility bills this winter, and then a bunch of exhibitors gave out smoke detectors and all manner of sweet, sweet candy. Have you ever met a Congressman? Based on my vast experience (this Saturday), I can say categorically that all U.S. Representatives are tall, African-American men who are funny and personable. It is possible that I am generalizing, though. (They might not all be personable.) Also, Congressman Carson is my friend KT's neighbor! Lowlight: Working on Saturday. Highlight: Getting to meet my congressional representative, man!

On Sunday, after a cluster(handshake) of major proportions in the morning and into the afternoon, I got to spend some time with my brother and his family. We watched the Colts game and played with my niece. Lowlight: Colts' crushing defeat at the hands of the Packers, whose cheerleading uniform my niece was wearing, thanks to the Cheesehead side of the family. Highlight: Madelynn's NEW... ew... TRACK... ack... RECORD ...ecord...ecord for most steps taken in a row, into my waiting arms. (Seven total, which is a record she has probably shattered by now.)

Later on Sunday, I went to Beef & Boards with my friend KT to see "The Sound of Music." Which was good because, you'll recall, I didn't get to see the end of it when we watched it at the retreat a couple weeks ago. (The baroness is smoking hot in both the 1965 screen version and the 2008 B&B stage version, but less of a bitch in the stage version we saw, which, you know, at least there's that.) The show was great, and it was nice to meet a couple of KT's friends. I'll definitely be considering that Beef & Boards VIP membership for next year. Maybe Santa will bring that. Lowlight: Men's room line at intermission. Highlight: Do Re Mi.

On Tuesday, it was my mom's birthday, so we went to Vito's on Penn and then went to a concert. My friend Ron, who sings next to me in the choir at Broadway and who is a retired orchestra teacher, was guest-directing a concert for Carmel-Clay Schools. Because of a scheduling challenge, all three middle schools and Carmel High School decided to have one big concert on Tuesday, and they did it at Hilbert Circle Theatre, which was PACKED! Ron got us tickets as a favor, but they would have been totally worth any price paid, because the concert was excellent. Ron directed a combined orchestra made up of about 150 string players from Carmel's three middle schools. After that, Carmel High's four orchestras played. And when the last orchestra played, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Zach DePue joined them for a couple songs. Very awesome. I'm almost embarrassed to claim that I'm a graduate of the Carmel-Clay Schools orchestra program -- these kids were so much better than we were back in the day! But they did this old Greyhound proud! Lowlight: Realizing it's been 18 years since I played in the high school orchestra. Highlight: Man, that whole concert was awesome, and I got to share it with my parents!

The last couple days have been relatively culture-and-sophistimacation-free. Other than declaring a vocab jihad on the word "spooktacular," I didn't do anything interesting yesterday, and today the only interesting thing I did was lunch with a friend, who has recruited me to help with Mothers Against Drunk Driving's "Walk Like Madd" 5K walk and celebration in May 2009. (Saturday, May 16, 2009, at Fort Ben State Park -- Just, you know, a heads-up for when you get an e-mail from me asking for your help as a volunteer and/or donor.)

More news soon. I'll share with you a re-creation of this unbearable meeting I was in on Wednesday (an organizational meeting for the first Indianapolis Monumental Marathon) and some other stuff that's been percolating lately. And then this weekend holds a lot of promise: visiting a restaurant for another Star Magazines article, then a wedding in Greencastle, and who knows what other trouble I might get into!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Carried away, a little bit



A couple nights ago, after choir rehearsal, I had coffee with a friend and then headed to the grocery store on my way home. This being the northside of Indianapolis at 10:30pm on a Thursday, the store was pretty empty, but they had the BEST Muzak pumpin'.

And I think you know what that means.

If you know anything about me, you are aware that this means that it was time for Dance Fever in Produce, Put-Put-Put-Puttin' on the Hits in Deli, and Star Search in Health & Beauty. Which was fine, because I was pretty much on my own and the only one who might have seen and/or heard me would have been the person watching the security camera monitors. "Cupid" (in the video above) is what was playing at that point -- I was singing and dancing much like a Spinner.

Unfortunately, this late-night-grocery-store anonymity lulled me into a false sense of security and when I made it to the check-out, I was in full song. And, God help me, full dance.

The woman in line in front of me looked at me funny, at which time I realized I was still dancing like no one was watching. This is the point where, in a movie, one of two things would happen: (a) she would join in and sing and dance with me, or (b) that needle-slipping-on-a-record sound effect would be played and I'd meekly wait for my lettuce and toothpaste to be rung up.

Things being what they were, and this not being a movie, I did what generations of selective breeding have led me to do, what I was programmed to do on a cellular level. That is to say, I denied any trace of reality and refused to even acknowledge that she was in line. Whilst continuing to sing and dance, I skimmed the Enquirer, I examined the nutrition information of Dentyne Ice, I placed my items on the little conveyor belt, and I placed my basket in the small pile of baskets on the floor.

I stopped singing when it was my turn to relate to the cashier, because I kind of thought singing would be as rude as talking on a cell phone at the check-out.

But I did keep dancing, just a little bit.

"CHiPs"

While I have never discussed it with him directly, I believe it is safe to say that my brother would agree that the 70s television series "CHiPs" played a formative role in his early years, and was a heavy influence in his decision to pursue a career in Mexican soap operas law enforcement.




Other than the (potentially made-up) trivia of "My brother is a cop because of 'CHiPs'" here is some more "CHiPs" trivia:
  • I didn't realize it was Larry Wilcox who got top billing for the show. (Watch the intro again.)
  • Ponch's real first name was Francis. (I'd go by "Ponch," too.)
  • Real-life CHP motorcycle officers do not ride in pairs. The show explained Ponch and Jon's partnership with the idea that Ponch was a rookie and Jon was his mentor, but even after his probationary status changed, they still stayed on as partners.
  • Jon was a Vietnam veteran, as is Larry Wilcox, the actor who played him.
  • Erik Estrada's character was originally supposed to be of Italian descent with the name Poncherelli. When Estrada was cast, they simply changed the last letter to an "o."
  • Long before Star Trek: The Next Generation, Michael Dorn played "CHiPs" Patrolman Jebediah Turner. Later he would go on to play Klingon Lt. Worf on the Enterprise.
  • WHERE ARE THEY NOW? After "CHiPs," both lead actors remained actors, but they branched out in different ways. Erik Estrada, of course, found his way to "Dos Mujeres, Un Camino," as well as numerous pop-culture "I'm famous because I used to be famous" gigs. Larry Wilcox started a production company, also continued acting, ran a pharmaceutical company and is now involved with a software company.
  • I have fact-checked literally zero of the above tidbits. This site and this site are responsible for the above assertions.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Liveblogging the Final 2008 Presidential Debate

Hi! And welcome to my liveblog of the third debate between the 2008 candidates for President of the United States of America. I'm your host, let's get to it. As with all my liveblogging posts, if you're just starting out, you might want to start at the bottom of this post, as new tidbits are added at the top. Refresh frequently for the latest.

Let's rock.


10:31 The audience is tempted to clap, but The Schieff shuts them down by saying, "Go vote now. It'll make you feel big and strong." Huh-wha? Katie Couric dives in to the post-mortem, and I call it a day. Needing to be at the church at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow, I turn off the TV and head to bed, likely to dreams of acorns, terrorists, patriots, and Joe the Plumber. None of which, really, I look forward to.

10:29 Obama does his closing.

10:28 McCain gets to go first on the closing statements, using the big gamble of "It all depends on whom you trust."

10:27 The Schieff invites us to go to MyDebates.com, which is apparently a MySpace property.

10:26 I realize The Schieff hasn't asked a single question about Madonna and Guy Ritchie's divorce. Maybe THAT'S this October surprise I've heard so much about?

10:24 McCain says Sarah Palin knows about autism better than anyone. Doesn't her child have Down Syndrome? Or did I miss something? (Does she have an autistic child? Or are Down Syndrome and Autism the same thing now?)

10:23 I realize I am kind of a jerk, in that the candidates' physical appearance will play at least a small part in my decision. You know I love me some Count Chocula and some Frankenberry; I gotta vote for the guy that looks like if they had a kid together.

10:22 The candidates disagree on vouchers and higher-ed accessibility.

10:21 The candidates agree on charter schools and teacher accountability.

10:18 I guess we're talking about education...?

10:17 I totally just missed The Schieff's question, which he promised was the last. (Don't tease me, bro!)

10:16 Scott from WA does the background research for me and confirms that the Joe the Plumber drinking game is now the #11 killer in the US.

10:15 OMG! Obama just said nobody's really pro-abortion. I could be an Obama speech-writer!

10:14 Obama: "Don't be cavalier with your sacred sexuality, kids!" What?

10:12 Snack and Bathroom Break! (Frosted Mini-Wheats and number 1, if you must know.)

10:10 Is anyone really "pro-abortion"?

10:09 Obama wouldn't impose any litmus test re: Roe v. Wade; rather, he would look at their qualifications. Such qualifications include a law degree, judicial experience, and being in favor of Roe v. Wade.

10:07 McCain wouldn't impose any litmus test re: Roe v. Wade; rather, he would look at their qualifications. Such qualifications include a law degree, judicial experience, and being opposed to Roe v. Wade.

10:05 McCain directly addresses Joe, and emergency rooms around college campuses throughout the US are flooded with binge-drinking Poli Sci majors. I hereby officially call an end to the Joe the Plumber, debate-based drinking game.

10:04 I grow weary of McCain's tone. I do not find it Presidential. Alas, the last guy's non-presidentiality didn't really make much of a difference, so I do not take comfort in this.

10:03 McCain directly addresses Joe. (CHUG!)

10:00 Obama resists the urge to call into question McCain's sense of hearing. "I said it at the last debate, John..." I immediately fire off an e-mail petition for Don Rickles to join the Obama campaign and help him out as his Deputy Assistant for Zingers.

9:59 I don't get what "a five-thousand-dollar refundable tax credit" means. And, ugh, Joe the Plumber (DRINK!) again. And again!

9:56 Healthcare.

9:55 Hasn't this been way more than a 9-minute segment? I am hella bored. Energy policy is National Security policy; the end. Finally! The Schieff brings it to a close.

9:53 RevIzzy chimes in on the comments in defense of "cockamamie," also pointing out the resurgence of such gems as "doggone" and "festooned." Ah, "festooned."

9:51 McCain parses Obama's words. And who the hell told him to use the phrase "I am a free trader" (which sounds exactly like "I am a free traitor")?

9:49 I lose interest and flip around the channels for a second. My Fox affiliate is not carrying the debate, in favor of a baseball game, which I imagine is an important baseball game.

9:47 The Schieff says "How much can you reduce our oil imports in four years?" McCain almost says the S-word, I think. "Canada says we're going to sell our sh-- our oil somewhere else." (or whatever)

9:46 Use of the word "cockamamie" does very little to de-emphasize one's 72-year-old-ness.

9:45 I grow weary of the scalpel-and-hatchet analogy.

9:44 And also because her husband is a pretty good guy, too.

9:43 McCain rattles off a variety of accomplishments and vaguely relevant factoids, stumbling over "breash of freth air". (Presidential!) And then he says that Sarah Palin would be a better POTUS because she understands special-needs children. Wha-huh?

9:42 I flip over to Palin As President and prepare for McCain's answer to the question about Sarah Palin. (Don't click the red phone.)

9:41 Obama talks about Joe Biden articulately. I wonder if he really believes that, or if it's like the Pres & VP in the movie "Dave," where they hate each other and never talk?

9:40 The Schieff asks about their Veeps. Why would the country be better off if your running mate became President, rather than his running mate? (I can't wait to hear this -- I kind of think they both suck.)

9:38 Obama gives a shout-out to Dick Lugar. What? (Oh.)

9:36 Obama responds to Ayers and ACORN.

9:35 McCain brings up Bill Ayers and ACORN.

9:34 Obama brings it back to, "Look. We're in a mess. We're gonna need to work together." (Again, paraphrasing.) "Disagree without being disagreeable."

9:33 McCain totally mischaracterizes what Obama just said, and Obama respectfully takes it.

9:30 McCain invokes Joe the Plumber again. Drink!

9:28 Obama responds with "100% of your ads, John, are negative." I'm kind of bored with this. Can't they just arm wrestle it out?

9:27 McCain looks at Obama and directly addresses the public-finance issue.

9:25 McCain goes back to the fact that Obama didn't do the town-hall-style meetings and points out that Obama has spent more money than anyone on negative ads.

9:24 The Schieff asks a good question -- "Are you willing to say to your opponent's face what your ads are saying?"

9:21 Obama flashes a smile when McCain starts talking about their records, as though he was waiting for that.

9:20 McCain goes back to the talking point: "Americans are hurtin' and they're angry."

9:18 Jon and Jenny chime in from Gila Bend, AZ. They are on the road and are listening to the debate on the radio. How could they possibly bear it?

9:17 McCain correctly pronounces the word, "nuclear" -- and I thank God.

9:16 Obama uses the word, "profligate" -- utterly and shamelessly immoral or dissipated; thoroughly dissolute. (I looked it up.)

9:14 The Schieff brings the stats: "You're each adding more to the deficit. WTF?!" (I'm paraphrasing.)

9:13 NEXT ISSUE!

9:12 Clearly, I am an Obama supporter, but so far he's seeming more presidential. McCain is laughing bitterly, smirking, fidgeting. Did we learn nothing from Nixon v. Kennedy? TV makes a difference.

9:11 I am tired of Joe the Plumber already.

9:10 McCain finally gets around to the zinger -- "Spread the wealth!" "Spread the wealth!"

9:09 Clearly, tax policy is a big difference between the candidates. Obama explains this while McCain futzes around on the table.

9:07 McCain brings up the plumber thing, right off the talking points: "Spread the wealth," Obama said. He's a Socialist! McCain directly addresses Joe Wurtzelburger Wurzelbacher (updated to include link and correct spelling), and I am embarrassed for them both.

9:06 Obama proposes four things, enumerates two of them and then rambles.

9:05 Obama stumbles on the name of the university. This might be bad for him.

9:04 McCain: "Americans are angry," and there must be short-term and long-term responses to the economic crisis. He's discussing how to use the $750B allocated in the bailout bill. Is this not already spoken-for? He wants to use almost half of it for his ideas...

9:03 Sen. McCain looks waxy and alarmingly alert, like he just slammed a triple espresso. Obama seems mellow in comparison.

9:02 Handshakes all around, let's get it on!

9:01 Bob Schieffer, whose name I look up to make sure I spell it right (two B's, an O in the middle), welcomes us. The next 90 minutes will be divided into 9-minute segments, something something. The audience will be quiet, except RIGHTNOW! Applaud, audience monkeys! Applaud!

9:00 I tune into CBS, and Katie Couric welcomes us to Hofstra University. The format changes -- the candidates are sitting at a table! There's a lot of Western movie metaphors, which make me apprehensive.

BLOG ALERT -- Liveblogging tonight's presidential debate

Be advised that I am planning to liveblog tonight's debate between US Presidential candidates Sen. John McCain (R) and Sen. Barack Obama (D).

Blog Action Day - POVERTY




















Today, it turns out, is Blog Action Day 2008, a day when bloggers all over the world are using their online presence to work toward positive change. This year, we're talking about POVERTY.

The individuals above are all living in poverty. Two of them are from Sierra Leone, and one is from Liberia. They are able to attend school because of the generosity of people like you and me who donate funds and supplies with the hopes that they'll grow up and become part of the solution. (You can read all about my experiences in Sierra Leone and Liberia over on this blog.)

I know there are lots of people in the US who live in poverty, too, but I haven't taken 3 weeks to visit them and take their pictures and advocate on their behalf the way I did with the Liberians and Sierra Leoneans. Part of that is because I feel called to focus on West Africa as a mission field; part of it is because being poor in America is vastly different from being poor in SL or Liberia; part of it is probably because of my own discomfort with poverty in the United States.

It just seems like such a big issue to overcome -- what can one person do?

This summer, at the church where I work, the pastors conducted a six-week sermon series entitled "Making Poverty History." Large outdoor signs with the series title were displayed outside the church, colorful printed materials were developed, and we were invited to document our abundance journey as we learned to identify, nurture, and invest in the gifts of those around us. True, that person may be homeless, but she may also be a musician or a cook or a gardener or a childcare provider. It's our job, we were challenged, to take the time to have conversations with people, so that we might get to know them as individuals, not as faceless consumers to our food pantry or as account numbers on a gas bill that needs paying.

Some members of the congregation longed for "upstream" solutions -- systemic changes that would yield great impact downstream. Others invested in the here-and-now.

I guess the only solution that really makes sense to me is to think about it. To really sit and pray and dream and guess and think about it. The issue of poverty is one that my parents took great care to make sure I didn't have to think about, growing up. I never had to worry about where the next meal was coming from, or school clothes, or books. Indeed, I had more than I needed -- even more than I could want.

But now it's become abundantly (heh) clear that it's time for us all to think about poverty, and to do something about it. If you've managed to stay with me thus far, great! I'd suggest that you reflect on your own experience with "poor" people, whether it's people around the world or people around the block. If you're reading this, chances are you're not poor in a worldwide, one-of-the-billion-people-who-live-on-less-than-a-US-dollar-a-day level. But maybe you feel poverty of a different nature: poverty of affection, poverty of attention, poverty of fulfillment, poverty of achievement, poverty of opportunity, poverty of love, poverty of spirit, of health, of joy, of connection, of whatever.

What are you hungry for, and why?

I think the problem of financial poverty is probably pretty easy for us to solve. It's just a matter of being smart (and wise) with the resources we have and making sacrifices of our own to provide opportunities for others. It's the other kinds of poverty that are the hard part.

I could pretty easily skip a meal each week and donate that money to a food pantry. (I said I could, not that I will. Let's not get rash here!*) But do I have enough patience to really listen to the person who's experiencing poverty of attention? Do I have enough love to hug the stranger experiencing poverty of affection? Do I have enough courage to fight for the person experiencing poverty of justice? Do I have the guts to lick the leper?

If I believe in a God of abundance (and I do), then I must believe that God will bless me with the patience and the love and the courage to listen and to hug and to fight. (OK, maybe not to lick.)

All I'm saying is that the only way this is all going to get taken care of is if we take care of it. We're in a situation (a bunch of situations, really) where the only way out of it is to be real and to face facts and to start, as Broadway people like to say, living as if the Gospel were true, not just a nice thing to work toward or to wait for. Living as if the blind can see and the sick and brokenhearted are healed and whatever.

The way to end poverty is to end poverty -- in all its forms, financial and otherwise.

* Just kidding about joking about that skip-a-meal thing -- that actually sounds like a pretty good idea. I think I'll start working through lunch on Fridays and skip a mid-day meal, donating that five bucks to a food pantry or homeless mission or soup kitchen or whatever. Or maybe I'll make Thursday my take-someone-to-lunch day -- a friend I haven't talked to in a while or a stranger on the street, even.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Retreeeeeeeeeeeeeat!

I haven't posted to the blog this weekend because I was on a retreat in the Middle of Nowhere, Indiana. Actually, Wasatch Lake is almost all the way to Terre Haute -- a little over an hour west of Indianapolis. The camp itself is beautiful. I'll sprinkle some of the photos from the weekend throughout this entry, if I can. (Pics provided by Ron Sinicki.)

About 40 of us from St. Luke's United Methodist Church's Stephen Ministry program went out to Wasatch for a Friday-to-Sunday retreat on Forgiveness. I arrived at about 7:00 on Friday evening, just in time to catch a glimpse of the lake, which looked like this, only sunsettier:


Also, I got to meet Orville and Wilbur, the two pot-bellied pigs who call Wasatch Lake home:


Because not everyone was going to be there until Saturday morning, we decided that Friday night would be Octoberfest! We brought brats (poetic!) and pretzels and sauerkraut and German chocolate cake. And to complement our German food, a movie with a German (Austrian) connection: The Sound of Music! (Which you can get from the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library! Which I did!)

Somehow, we made it to the camp WITH a dvd player and projector but WITHOUT a projection screen, so we found some clothespins, reallocated a bed sheet and did it The Old-Fashioned Way. Air-popped popcorn and cold drinks mixed with our my sing-along antics as we I Do-Re-Mi'ed and Lonely-Goatherded our my way through the first act of the film.

Did you know that The Sound of Music is, like, eight hours long? My God, they made movies long back then. We didn't even get to the second half; we stopped at Intermission, just after Maria left the Von Trapp household during the big party, on account of that jealous bitch, Baroness Schrader. I can only assume that Maria ends up living a sad, yet content, existence as a nun in the convent, never to see the Von Trapps again. (Just kidding. I've seen TSOM, like, a jillion times -- "Edelweiss" is my parents' song -- and I know there's a happy ending.)

Anyway. We spent most of Saturday talking about Forgiveness, with a session in the morning, a session in the evening, and a trip in the middle to Terre Haute to visit the CANDLES Holocaust Museum.

The CANDLES Museum is the work of Eva Kor (pictured, right), a Holocaust survivor who, at the age of 10 in 1943, was taken from her Romanian home and sent to Auschwitz, where she and her twin sister Miriam joined hundreds of other twins/multiples as the subjects of the inhuman experiments of Dr. Josef Mengele. Mrs. Kor and her sister survived the experiments and, nine months after they were brought to Auschwitz, they were liberated.

Eva Kor's story is the heart of the documentary film, Forgiving Dr. Mengele. In the years after her horrific experience and subsequent liberation from Auschwitz (which she described in great detail for us and the dozen or so other folks who joined our tour), Mrs. Kor came to find forgiveness in her heart -- first for one individual Nazi doctor and then, ultimately, even for Dr. Mengele. Watch this:



Mrs. Kor founded the CANDLES Museum to tell her story and the story of 6 million Jews (and more than 5 million non-Jews: Gypsies, homosexuals, the handicapped and others) who lost their lives in the Holocaust. She also shared with us her own personal experience of forgiveness, and gave us a lot to think about.

Later Saturday evening, after dinner, we came together around the huge fireplace for really meaningful worship led by the grace-filled and loving Rev. Marsha Hutchinson. Here's a picture of me singing that song that I mentioned a while back:


This morning, we gathered to hear another story of folks on their own forgiveness journey. Eric and Marilyn Behrman's 19-year-old daughter, Jill, disappeared while on a bike ride in May 2000. Her whereabouts remained unknown for nearly three years. After the ordeal of Jill’s disappearance and the ensuing trial and conviction of the man who took their daughter’s life, the Behrmans helped to found Jill’s House, a residence for cancer patients and their caregivers near the Proton Therapy Center in Bloomington, Indiana, and they also started the Jill Behrman Emerging Leader Scholarship to recognize Indiana University students who show outstanding leadership in recreational sports.

The Behrmans shared with us their own experience through the process, with various reflections on forgiveness along the way. I shared with the group that I was really grateful for the Behrmans' honesty -- for their sharing that it really is a struggle to figure out what role forgiveness might play in their experience. I was afraid that they were going to come in and say they'd forgiven the guy who killed their daughter, and then there I'd be, holding onto my own petty resentments while the Behrmans AND this Holocaust survivor AND all these other "afters" we heard from had forgiven the biggest atrocities ever committed. But the Behrmans were a "during," and their story helped me to be OK with the struggle.

I'm not sure that I moved any further along my own forgiveness journey, although I think I did. The retreat was a terrific experience for me, and I'm proud to have been one of the leaders/helpers/organizers. I'll definitely be heading back out to Wasatch for a personal retreat in the future, and I'm looking forward to spending some more time with my fellow Stephen Ministers again soon!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Jerry Hyde was awesome

The first person to welcome me to Broadway Church has passed away.

Before I even worked here, before my first interview, I attended worship at Broadway, just to get a sense of what the church was like. It was the Sunday before Thanksgiving 2006, and I came into the large, formal (Gothic? I don't know...) sanctuary about 15 minutes before the service was scheduled to begin. (Of course, I know now that there's almost nobody in the sanctuary 15 minutes before the service is scheduled to begin. Ever.)

But anyway, as I was sitting there, hoping I wasn't in anyone's "spot" (you know how people are about "their" pew), I heard a commotion behind me and to the right. It was about five minutes before the service was to start. I glanced over my shoulder and saw that an older gentleman and his wife (a gentlelady and a truly gentle lady) were making their way toward their seats in the pew behind me, greeting the people around them.

As they got almost directly behind me, I glanced over my shoulder again and caught a big smile from the man, who introduced himself. "I'm Jerry Hyde. I'm sorry, I don't know your name."

I said, "There's no reason you would know my name; this is my first time here."

He instantly replied, "In that case, may my wife and I come sit with you?" and, without waiting for my response, took his wife, Martha, by the hand and moved up one pew to sit right next to me. They helped me navigate the service (different from St. Luke's in many ways -- a hymnal and a supplement songbook, a much thicker bulletin, Passing of the Peace which lasts close to five minutes, etc.) and they introduced me to their friends in the pews around us (which was everybody).

As I got to know Jerry and Martha, I learned that he was a retired United Methodist pastor, and they lived at the United Methodist Community in Franklin, Indiana. Which meant that, in order to get to Broadway, they had to drive about 30 miles (ONE WAY). I asked about that decision and they responded that they really believed that Broadway did church the way church was meant to be done -- both in worship and in service. Wow! They must have passed dozens of United Methodist Churches on their way to Broadway -- including the Chapel right where they lived -- but it was their commitment to the open family of Christians walking their talk that led the Hydes to Broadway.

As I look back I realize that, even more than the distance they traveled to worship at Broadway, it was Jerry's great show of hospitality that made a lasting impact on me; it embodied the best of what Broadway is. I've told this story around Broadway many, many times, and when I tell folks that it was Jerry Hyde who welcomed me so openly, folks nod affirmingly, as though it was no surprise at all that Jerry would behave that way.

That's a true legacy. And that's who Jerry was to me.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Two-Year-Old Leela Responds To Last Night's Debate



Haha, just kidding. She's some kid whose parents taught her to say "Obama!" and cringe at "John McCain" -- but it's funny, right?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Not liveblogging, but let me say this

I just got back into the house after an evening of stuff, and I'm watching the end of the debate now.

I had harbored secret hope that Sarah Palin's heretofore bumbling responses to media questioning had been an elaborate ruse and that she was going to really hit a home run in this debate. Based on these last five minutes -- the only five minutes that I've seen -- this secret hope has not been fulfilled. But I guess nothing horrifically wrong, and she looks good, right?

So, what say you? Did she hit a home run in the part of the debate I didn't see?

OH! One other thing...

I will NOT be liveblogging the Vice Presidential Debate tonight. (A) I'm having coffee with a friend from St. Luke's tonight, and (B) It's hard to type when you're watching both candidates through your fingers and cringing.

Reflection on reflection

Hey, I just re-read what I wrote below and, Mom, there is no need to worry. I'm off to the Park to clear my head and do some thinking and praying and whatnot, and then I'll check back in.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Television Hates Itself (Warning: Vacation-Induced Introspection Below)

This video from Phil Barcio (whom I do not know, but who is on local social network SmallerIndiana.com) outlines 56 reasons why television hates itself.



You may know that I have all but given up on television lately. I will occasionally watch Family Guy at 7pm and 11pm, but I do not watch the news any more, and between the scripted crap and the unscripted reality crap, there's maybe an hour or two of TV each week worth watching these days.

If you know me, you know that this is quite a lifestyle change. TV used to be my whole deal -- I'd come home, turn on the TV and it would be on until I went to bed -- and sometimes even after I went to bed the TV was still on. I guess I've just gotten bored with TV. I feel like I can make up more interesting stories in my own head or in my own real life.

Which, I think, is what leads me to reflect on this video from Phil Barcio. There are lots of reasons "Television hates itself because..." in which you could substitute "SSS is dissatisfied right now because..." (Although I can swim and I am not under the influence of prescription drugs...and in my positive brainspace, I'm usually able to talk over that internal "dissatisfied" monologue.)

I think that, in addition to getting bored with TV, I've gotten bored with my own life. I'm not really working toward any big personal goals right now, and I think that's what's got me off track.

Luckily, I'm on vacation this week (two-hour workchunks Monday, Tuesday, and today notwithstanding), so I'm going to go on a retreat tomorrow and spend some time around Eagle Creek Park to think and pray and sort and laugh and think some more and pray some more.

I'll keep you posted.