Saturday, June 30, 2007

Last night Cindy and I rented The Last King of Scotland. The young doctor Nicholas Garrigan was a fictional character in this account of Idi Amin’s ruthless rule of Uganda, but he seemed quite real to me. As I reflected, I thought it was power and prestige that seduced the recent medical school graduate away from the rural mission hospital to work with the new charismatic leader. But at a more basic level I’m thinking it was ego. I’m quite proud of myself for being able to recognize this especially since I have no personal experience with ego getting in the way of right living.

Friday, June 29, 2007

This is not a melting pot. We are moving toward becoming a boiling cauldron. The Supreme Court decision attempting to take race out of the school equation and the death of immigration reform do not make this country a better place to live regardless of skin color.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. Cindy’s sister is sitting next to my two sisters and we slide into the row and fill the rest of the space on the pew. These two sets of sisters at my left were all together Friday night and Saturday morning at Relay for Life. Our Relay team had more sisters—two Cadd sisters and my daughters. All my daughters were there. Two that walked with me on the track from 2:30 until 4:30 a.m., one memorialized with luminaria at the edge of the track, and one who was present in spirit and desire and with a phone call.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A couple of minutes ago I was watching traffic and waiting for the “walk” light to cross Hwy. 99W. There was something enjoyable about seeing a loaded log truck followed directly by two trucks with milled lumber. I like wood in all its forms. In our flowerbeds this spring I’ve found three evergreen trees—if you can call a plant less than two inches tall a tree. They will be carefully moved to places where they can become trees. And they provide a nice counterbalance to my propensity for instant gratification.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

At this point it’s the Relay for Life team from Lumpy’s (a roadside tavern) that has raised the most money for the American Cancer Society fundraiser in Newberg this weekend. I added together the numbers from the top two church teams and multiplied that by two and it was still more than two thousand less than what Lumpy’s has raised. While this is an isolated instance that proves nothing, I’m going to try to remember it the next time I start to feel proud of the compassion and generosity of us “church folk.”

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mad Purple-Hued Maltworms—it’s the name of one of the 41 teams participating in Relay for Life in Newberg this weekend. The name seems well suited for a teen rock band, but actually it comes from William Shakespeare (Henry IV according to my Google search). Colleen Richmond taught literature at George Fox University until she lost her battle against cancer in January. Her friends are continuing the fight by supporting the work of the American Cancer Society. And they honor her with a creative team name.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Gary sits at the little table text to the door of the espresso shop reading the morning paper. When I asked what was there that I should know about, he was on the page with a report about a guy in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who ate a hamburger with 40 patties. It took him three hours, but he broke a 90-year-old record. The trivial and bizarre always finds a place in the media. If the font size in newspapers was adjusted up and down in proportion with the importance of the story, it would be very easy to read about immigration, Iraq, Palestine. And you would need a high powered magnifying glass to read the story about the 40 patty burger.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. Early in the sermon I leaned over and whispered to Cindy, “Where is the Holy Spirit?” The title of the message this morning is “Holiness.” It’s being illustrated with a huge flower pot labeled HOLINESS and one chair labeled GOD and another for JESUS. Now the sermon is over and we never did get to the point where the Holy Spirit was introduced. I’m primed to expect the Holy Spirit because of the work I’ve done recently on a book Barclay Press will publish in the fall—It’s a Dance, Moving with the Holy Spirit by Patrick Oden. Nate, the pastor of a nontraditional church in the book, would be puzzled by a message about holiness that didn’t include the Holy Spirit. And I doubt God would say the Holy Spirit plays third chair in the holiness orchestra.

Friday, June 15, 2007

I’m not a natural at the celebration of special days. I never know what to do about Father’s Day. I have a wonderful dad, but sending a card or a gift seems trivial. He’s 90 years old and at a place where the best things in life aren’t things. I’ll give him a phone call, but that seems a little feeble compared to the contribution he has made to my life.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

As if the Palestinians don’t have enough to overcome already, Hamas and Fatah have turned the term “unity government” into a joke. As if doors being kicked in by a foreign military force isn’t enough, Muslims in Iraq fight against each other. This business of getting along is not just a Middle East problem. Even Christians in the United States seem divided on something I thought would be a no-brainer—the care of creation.

Can’t we all get along? Well, some days I even find it difficult to get along with myself.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The United States of Bookselling page in the current Publishers Weekly features Mississippi. Literature is one of the bright spots in Mississippi. The state that ranks 50th or 49th in most socio-economic indicators is number 16 in bookstores per capita. This is the land of Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, Ellen Gilchrist, Walker Percy, John Grisham, and more.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Last night a clever magazine ad caught my eye. “Why do most 16-year-olds drive like they’re missing a part of their brain? Because they are.” It was an insurance ad and later in the text they explain the section of the brain that isn’t fully developed until people are into their 20s. It’s the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex. “It plays a critical role in decision making, problem solving and understanding future consequences of today’s actions.” The thing I can’t figure out is why puberty comes before the development of this section of the brain.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Lord, I’ve got the stack of things on my desk, the lists of things on paper, and the responsibilities and opportunities that move around in random fashion in my mind. It’s more than I can manage. Do you have time this week to help me out?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. I’m thinking more about the people around me than thinking about God. To my left is a woman whose husband is having significant health problems. She hides well the stress I think she must feel. Behind me is a recent high school graduate and his parents and in front of me the mom of another graduate. Both of the graduates are headed for college in the fall and to meaningful careers beyond that. They are well above average and will remain there throughout live. To my right is a man who several years ago sat here (north side, three or four rows back) with his wife. A brain tumor took her suddenly and now he sits with his son and daughter-in-law. Sometimes thinking about the people around me makes it easier to see God.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I’m thinking about the forces that push and pull on average. Average is that midpoint between high achievement and failure. High school graduation was last night and I’m wondering if the desire to achieve at school pulls the average up or does average have a gravitational pull on the achievers. And what effect is created by those who simply don’t care? The brainiacs, preppies, geeks, jocks, skaters, thespians, goths, and emos all have an effect on each other—even when they try to ignore or ridicule the others.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The creation/evolution debate is a big deal to a lot of people. The Creation Museum recently opened in Petersburg, Kentucky, after 25 years and $27 million was invested into the project. My faith does not hang on when and how the world began. I believe God created the world, but the creation/evolution debate, in my opinion, generates a lot of heat and very little light. I might feel different if I were a scientist, but frankly my dear…it's very low on my agenda.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The second meaning of coyote is a person who smuggles immigrants into the United States. A new book by Daniel L. Smith-Christopher is titled Jonah, Jesus, and Other Good Coyotes. Last night I looked in the dictionary for some deeper implication of coyote, but it wasn’t there. Abingdon Press (the publisher) must have known I might need help understanding the title. After the online book description they include an “about the title” paragraph: “Coyote in modern parlance refers to human traffickers of illegal aliens and immigrants. Coyote crossings commonly elicit the image of professional mercenary smugglers who prey upon the hopes and dreams of illegal aliens. However, among immigrants themselves, the overwhelming view of Coyotes is positive. Daniel Smith-Christopher uses this paradox, this provocative image, a very biblical paradox, he adds, as the central and effective metaphor in the book. Jonah and Jesus are reviled for the same reason, he says: they crossed boundaries, they met the other, and they brought them over. They thumbed their noses at man-made and fear-based boundaries that exclude rather than embrace.”

Friday, June 01, 2007

Reports on the news last night indicated that Franklin Graham had to convince his dad to agree to the building of the Billy Graham Library that was dedicated yesterday. I have a lot of respect for Billy Graham’s reservation and his continued care to turn the focus away from himself and toward God. The creation of this library/tourist attraction is a graphic reminder of a transition from movement to museum. There will not be a “next Billy Graham.” But there are (and will be) men and women who study the Bible, listen to God’s Spirit, and boldly communicate the ways God’s love and grace meet people’s modern needs.