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MeWithoutYou Concert

Yeah. Courtney and I will be going to see MeWithoutYou, http://www.mewithoutyou.com, Jun 24.While Aaron Weis's sining can be on the edge with his spoken word/yelling style. His music and lyrics can be compelling. Though still maturing, he has keen insight into the purpose for which Christ came: to free the poor people of this world (that's all of us) from our enslavement to the idols we create to avoid the utterly humbling encounter with a God who is love.And, Aaron is not afraid to live his conviction. Vegetarian and deliberatly in poverty (well, sort of), he boldly calls us on our rampant materialism and misuse of the good gifts that God has given us.

Unintended Consequences

There is a program at work that shows a tooltip with this message when you are about to move something: "...this may have unintended consequences."That cracks me up. Especially in light of the recent TFC movie, Run Lola Run, I think every action I take should be labeled as such an action.What doesn't have unintended consequences? This also makes me think of the movies Butterfly Effect and Groundhog Day. It is almost as if we can't hope to control our lives.Lola exerts all her powers, yet in the end, must pray and wait for God to work through her actions.

Hotel Rwanda

Sunday night after debriefing from the small group, Courtney and I watched Hotel Rwanda. My first exposure to the movie was through a sermon. Since then, I have been wanting to see the movie. The quote in the sermon was about how westerners will see the atrocities in Rwanda, feel sad, and then go on eating their dinner. This quote, and this movie causes a great deal of ambivalence in my heart. I have watch news of tragedies even while I was eating my dinner. How many tragedies do I hear about in the course of a day? I have relatively little exposure to mass media, but I must hear about at least 2 per day through the radio, TV, or internet. How the heck am I supposed to do something about them all? Not only are they so numerous, but the scale is so vast. Millions killed in third world natural disasters. Hundreds of thousands killed by terrorists or in civil wars. It prompts the age-old question, "Can one man make a difference?" Hotel Rwanda says, "Yes." Paul, an upper middle-class Rwandan hotel manager risks everything to save the lives of 1200 of his countrymen. He doesn't sell all he has and give to the poor. He doesn't abandon his family and join the Tutsi rebels. Instead, he becomes a hotel manager in a time of crisis. God prepared him through his hard work and even his sin, as he confesses, to know how to talk to people in power and to know how to work the system. Paul risked his own welfare for the sake of others. Tim George, the director, used Paul and his story to show the apathy and lack of interest by the West in stopping the genocide in Rwanda. Whatever your politics, your heart should be broken by the hideousness of the tragedy. God did not intend the world to be like this! There may be good reasons for a country like the US not to intervene. But, it must be saying "No" while we weep. Sometimes I am aghast at the coldness with which many who would tout the U.S. as a Christian nation callously turn a dry eye from a neighbor who is suffering. Sadly, I sometimes see this in the mirror. It is a small leap to see Christ in Paul and his own giving up of himself so that others might be saved. Ironically, it is through Christ's death that he frees from our idols of comfort and control so that we are free to, like him, love others who are in no way capable of helping us. We can give without asking, "What's in it for me?" While we may not be able to affect the complicated politics of Africa to stop genocide practicing this love, we can powerfully affect our own family, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and our neighbors. Who knows what good works God is preparing us for? When our hearts are torn away from our idols and cemented in love to him, God can greatly use one man or woman to accomplish great things for his kingdom.

Unknowingly Promoting Hypocrisy by Being a Hypocrite

My friend and I were recently talking about different possibilities for improving our workplace. He came up with the idea of a mandatory 5 minute break to clear the mind mid-morning and afternoon. I mentioned that we would probably have to lock down the network to keep some from working. I would probably be one of those.

He reflected that we would have to do that, because as soon as we instituted the policy, there would be those that would indeed skip the break and keep working. Before long, we would be giving awards to those that skipped the break and broke company policy.

It sounds sort of ridiculous, but there are those where I work that will in one breath hold up a 70-hour work week as a model for serving the customer and with the next breath say that they really shouldn't work so much. If so, why don't we punish them for working too much? Oops, I guess we really value the work more than family, church, etc. I am not against a 70-hour work week occasionally, but the problem is that all our heros are the 70-hour work week guys. Our heroes reflect our ultimate values.

The Repenting Levite

This is how God, by and through his love, turned my heart around so that I could love my neighbors.

We hurried home because we had plans to visit my aunt, and deteriorating 93 year-old grandmother for Mother's Day.  However, I ran into Joel again.  We talked about the wind storm.  He rebuked his black Great Dane, saying, "Don't get his nice clean clothes dirty."  I don't know if he intended the irony, but God did, and it was dripping.

Here was the clean, nicely-dressed, white-collar Christian who had left the neighborhood tragedy to go to church.  He was now waiting for his wife to return from his house so they could again leave to go to loving family members and good food.  Making a meager attempt to somehow connect with Joel, I thanked him for checking on us.  He said, "No problem.  Thats what neighbors are for...I think."  Again, I don't think he ment the irony, but it bit my soul like a viper.

The Levite

I had a real struggle with the sin in my life today.  I didn't face the temptation of an adulterous woman.  I didn't face the call to greedily bow to the god of mammon.  But, I faced my own struggle with pleasing man, keeping up appearances, and maintaining the status quo.

While we were getting ready for church the morning of the wind storm, Courtney noticed the neighbors gathering outside.  She wanted to go out, but I, still in my robe, said that we needed to hurry and get ready for church. 

I knew right then that the right thing for me to do was to put on my work clothes, get out there and help, but I was afraid of what people would think.  What would Courtney think about that idea?  What would people think if I skipped church?  What would my neighbors thinking of me butting into their business?  So, we proceeded to get ready for church.

Wind Storm

At 5:40 or so my son called for me to come lie down with him for a minute.  He doesn't do this too, often, so I agreed, and laid down for 5 minutes or so until he went to sleep.  Then I went to bed.The next thing I knew, I heard a booming wind and the crash of thunder.  I don't remember noticing the time, but the power was soon out, and the wind was knocking our porch chairs over.We lay in bed for a couple hours listening to the storm, and got up to get ready for church.  I looked out the window.  Devastation is the word that comes to mind.  It is a slight overstatement, but there were tree limbs everywhere, and it looked like someone had cut the tops off of all of our neighbors trees.  It was a mess.  A tornado was rumored, but the weather service says that it was a windstorm with winds from 60-80 mph.  My only question is that some places seemed undisturbed while others had trees over 2ft in diameter uprooted.

American Restaurant Service

Wednesday I went to lunch with a friend.. He took me to Cheeve's for lunch. We went to Cheeve's, so I expected good food and good service. Wrong!

The food was decent, I was amazed at the service. It stunk. Dining out in France pretty much ruined me on most service in American resaurants. Those Frenchies really know how to do it. They don't really try to converse. They don't ask you questions. They just do what you need done when you need it and stay out of the way of your enjoying the food, atmosphere and company. They are true professionals.

The first thing our waiter did was offer us his hand and introduce himself. It was particularly odd because he was probably a freshman in college. Friendly is good, I guess, but it was too much. The staff repeatedly asked us about our meal. We were probably asked 3 times before we ever really had a chance to try it. It was almost amusing. I told my friend that in French restaurants, they didn't ask if the food was good because they knew it was good. They thought, "We are the food experts: If it wasn't good, we wouldn't serve it." It was rather annoying because we were trying to have a serious conversation, and we kept being interrupted.

New Book: Bonfire of the Vanities

I had asked Courtney to pick me out a new fiction book. I recently heard on This I Believe an essay from John Updike in which he claimed that fiction was more precise than non-fiction. I found this intriguing.

I can see where in some ways he is right. Fiction is more apt to capture the non-verbal communication of through its use of narrative, social cues, and descriptions. My reading is heavily weighted toward non-fiction if you don't count movies :-).

So, I am now reading Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. It is quite good so far. I am picking up on themes of the universality of self-righteousness. It will certainly be an interesting read.

Finally

Well, I have been wanting to make this first entry for quite some time. Here its 4:16am and I am finally doing it. At this point, it almost seems anti-climactic. Who knows what will become of this: bits for the bit bucket, the start of a writing career, journalsim, maybe? Really, I would just like to start the discipline of recording my thoughts. Beware, they are not always the purest, and very often they are arrogant and self-absorbed. Maybe this discipline will help me see how awful it is. We shall see.