Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thomas Campbell and Verbal Kent

Two hundred years ago Thomas Campbell wrote a document for a group of Christians who saw the divisions between churches and denominations as a great failure. He called all who express faith in God to find unity in the teachings of the Bible and to allow the Bible to be our only guide. Clearly, we've not been able to fulfill Campbell's vision in the past two centuries.


Can we not extend fellowship to people who profess to be Christians even if we disagree about some things beyond the deity of Jesus and our absolute dependence on his redeeming work? Aren't we failing to see that we have a common enemy? Do we really believe that our downfall will come at the hands of professing Christians who ... (insert your favorite here... let women wear slacks, let women speak, take communion from one cup or many cups, believe something actually happens to the bread and wine, actually use wine, send money overseas, eat food in the building, eat food in a separate building, etc, etc, etc)

I quote my good friend Verbal Kent, "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."

If we could recapture all the wasted ink, breath, time and energy spent splitting hairs with the people who share 99.5% of our spiritual DNA what could we accomplish?

Friday, October 16, 2009

If God refines us through suffering...

I know some people watched The Prodigy and it changed their lives... I'm not one of them. It's a fascinating plot acted out by what looks like the night class of a "complete your GED in 4 weeks" school. But sometimes, when you sift through enough mud, you find a gold nugget.

The question that this film asks, perhaps more succinctly than I've heard it asked before is, "If God refines us through suffering, then why blame the devil at all?"

If an omnipotent God is in control of our world and involved in our lives... and we experience pain or loss or death... isn't it ultimately His responsibility?

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I've been hearing quite a bit about New Orleans since we've just passed the two year anniversary of Katrina's devastation. A story on NPR, a visit by Good Morning America, the obligatory helicopter flyover showing rows of trailers, flat concrete pads where houses used to be and of course, archive footage of people holding "help us" signs.

These are all intended to evoke sympathy and compassion and they certainly do. We feel bad for those elementary school students who are studying in trailers. We feel bad for those people whose homes were flooded so badly that they are uninhabitable. We certainly feel the human compassion for those who lost loved ones in that mess.

Many of these stories are focused on the failures of FEMA, Bush, government in general. Some of them are about why we should rebuild New Orleans. Some of them are just human interest... exploiting the pain and emotion of those who've lost and suffered in the aftermath of the storm.

I've heard that we, the US taxpayers have poured over $100 billion in the state of Louisiana over those past two years. New Orleans is still years and years away from being completely rebuilt and it's one more hurricane from the Dark Ages. I'm reminded of the scene in Monty Python's Holy Grail where the King of Swamp Castle and father of a reluctant groom is bragging about his own persistence to his pale, pasty, wimpy son. Below is the dialog from that wonderful scene.

[the King gestures to the window]
King of Swamp Castle: One day, lad, all this will be yours.
Prince Herbert: What, the curtains?
King of Swamp Castle: No, not the curtains, lad, all that you can see stretched out over the valleys and the hills! That'll be your kingdom, lad.
King of Swamp Castle: When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built it all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up. And that's what you're going to get, Lad, the strongest castle in all of England.

The rationale I hear most for rebuilding New Orleans is no more logical or meaningful than this ridiculous king building a castle in a swamp. New Orleans is in a dangerous location. That's not new and it really doesn't have anything to do with FEMA. Until we figure out how to control the weather New Orleans is in danger.

If you pitch your tent on the train track you should reasonably expect to be smashed by the train. If you pitch your tent on the train track and your tent gets smashed by the train and I buy you a new tent... don't pitch it on the train track again. That's just stupid.

Would you justify pitching your tent on the train tracks the second time by saying, "The tent was so lovely before it got smashed" or "I really can't imagine a tent that's not pitched on the train tracks" or "We cannot live without the unique culture of the tent on the train tracks"? That's just stupid.

If you want to build a castle on a swamp, pay for it yourself.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Like Riding a Bike?

Well, I'm "picking up the pen" after a lengthy hiatus and I'm hopeful that I'll find some viable, creative spark still brightly burning in the shallow bowl that is my brain.

I've found that I missed this outlet. I've got plenty of work to do, even now on a Saturday, a substantial portion of the garage is occupied by junk, my '66 Scout languishes outside, the divine Mrs. L and I are going to buy a faucet for the kitchen (which I will have to install) and my storage shed needs, to borrow a phrase from the computing world, to be defragged. I guess I've got a writing itch and policy statements and business email aren't scratching it.

So, over the next week or two I'll be trying to find ways to sneak in a little blogging between the job, the family, the housework, the start of a new school year, my extensive social calendar, appointments with my hairdresser and the upcoming hunting seasons.

Monday, November 06, 2006

My disease

Well, as my faithful readers know I've struggled with truckaholism for most of my life and until very recently, was successfully dealing with my condition. I have a support group and a good wife and with their help I had managed to suppress the symptoms of my disease.

No more. All is lost. I broke down when the Yellow Dog broke down one too many times and I bought a big, red Dodge truck. I picked a brand new truck from the rows of shiny trucks sitting on the dealer's lot. It's a beautiful truck, if I say so myself. The divine Mrs. L would like to see this truck last for twenty years so I got the Cummins diesel and the rubber floor and the manual windows and the stick shift. It's a crew cab, four wheel drive, long bed, three quarter ton. It's a torque monster and I can't wait to tow a very heavy trailer with it. I've given myself over to the ravages of this sickness. I actually think it's genetic.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My name is Michael...

If you don't have a friend that can talk you out of buying a new truck you need to get one.

The Yellow Dog is in the shop and it's going to cost a couple of bucks to get her back on her feet... and Ford's offering 0% financing for 72 months... and those new trucks look magnificent. They're safer. They get twice the gas mileage of the Dog. They have four doors. They ride smooth and have plenty of power. The windows completely seal. The AC works. The stereo plays out of all the speakers. My neighbors wouldn't cringe everytime I drove past their houses if I drove a new truck.

The divine Mrs. L and my good friend Kevin talked me down off the ledge. I think the worst of it has passed... but I've got to go back to the dealership to pick up the Dog tomorrow. The trucks will be there... shining, clean, good looking. I don't know if I'll ever get over this... maybe I should start introducing myself as a recovering truckaholic.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A glimpse of European fashion

If clothing fashion in the US generally follows European clothing fashion then I am about to drop some fashion revelation in your lap.

Soon, the fashionable American male will be wearing his necktie in a whole new way. The tie itself will be slightly wider and have a more firm inner structure than today's ties. But the most important thing is how the tie is tied. In today's traditional style the front of the tie begins with a windsor knot at the collar and ends on or near the waistline. In the near future, the fashionable American tie will begin with a windsor knot at the collar and end only an inch or two below the knot. The knot itself is four or five inches wide because the knot is made from the part of the tie that would traditionally be near the belly button of the wearer and is tied very loosely. Apparently the younger and more fashionable the man, the shorter the tie. Be prepared.

The second interesting fashion revelation is capri pants. You may be saying to yourself, "There's nothing new about capri pants. My wife has several pairs of these and she's been wearing them for years." These aren't just for wives and daughters anymore. Fashionable European men were wearing all manner of capri pants. Yes. MEN! Males, anyway. If I ever was on the fashion train (not likely) I'm clearly not anymore because I can't imagine a scenario in which I'd willingly wear capri pants in public.

Don't cancel your subscription to GQ because I don't expect I'll be sharing fashion advice after this post. But when you're wearing pants that show your ankles and your tie looks like a five year old tied it for you... remember that I warned you.