Friday, May 30, 2008

I doubt that God intended for the frontal cortex of the male teenage brain to develop so slowly. Teenage males are a disaster zone with their undeveloped capacity for making good judgments, anticipating consequences, and engaging in positive decision-making and planning. And on top of the low horsepower for good decision-making, adolescents are attracted to risk-taking behavior. This all looks to me more like the curse than the creation.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I’m wondering about the first 14 years of J. R. Simplot’s life. Simplot’s death at 99 made the front page of the Oregonian and now I’m thinking again about the role of hardship. When Simplot went out on his own as a 14-year-old, his mother gave him four $20 gold coins. Over the years he turned that $80 into more than three billion. I’m guessing the first 14 years had a profound impact on the next 85.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. Some people who would normally be here are out of town for the Memorial Day weekend and most of us don’t have to go to work tomorrow. I think a cloud of holiday disengagement hovers over my head. Today we are looking at prayer through the biblical character Daniel. It’s a new revelation to me that Daniel was in his 80s when he was thrown into the lion’s den.

I’m not sure what to think about hardship. It’s something I try to avoid and I don't wish it on anyone else. But I wonder if we would be reading about Daniel if he had spent his life in Jerusalem and had not been taken into captivity by the Babylonians.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I’m thinking about the differences between self-deprecation and humility. When I try to quip about my shortcomings, it probably says more about insecurity and low self esteem instead of reflecting humility. I’m thinking confidence is actually a better partner for humility than self-deprecation.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I like Jimmy Carter so it stands to reason that I would like people he likes. Carter says of his presidential campaign strategist and White House chief of staff: "His judgment, insight, and wisdom were excelled only by his compassion and love of our country."

Another reason for me to like Hamilton Jordan is because he is related to Clarence Jordan, founded Koinonia Farms in Americus, Georgia, and author of The Cotton Patch Version of Matthew and John.

It was Hamilton Jordan who wrote an 80-page master plan for Jimmy Carter that was followed in the four years prior to Carter’s election on November 2, 1976. Hamilton Jordan was 34 when he became Jimmy Carter’s chief of staff. He had grown up in a small, segregated Georgia community. A pivotal point in his view of race relations came when he was a teenager and his father took him to watch a civil rights march. He saw the police surround the black demonstrators and drive them into an alleyway. He heard screams from blacks and approving shouts from whites. Jordan wrote: “Later I would mark that day as a moment of moral failure in my life."

Hamilton Jordan died Tuesday evening—another victim of cancer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I ran across the term anchoring committee recently. Some Friends (Quakers) gather a small group of people for support and guidance over a period of time for an extended ministry project. I see being “well anchored” as generally a positive thing, but on a boat I think the purpose of an anchor is to prevent movement.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. Something that happens twice a month in this building is YoungLives. It’s a meal, activities, and support for teen moms. We’re watching a slide show about the program. Looking at the faces of these teen moms and their babies, I’m wondering if they suffer from feelings of shame. It’s been more than 25 years since I went through divorce and there are still times I feel a little embarrassed about it. I hope these teen moms don’t include shame in the heavy load they carry. I don’t see how that would be productive.

Friday, May 16, 2008

“I have no complaints.” It was a bold answer to the perfunctory “How are you?” question.

What about the pot holes down the street that never get repaired? The price of gas? The ratio between the length of the meeting and the amount accomplished? Too hot, too cold, too much rain…? Too many things to do and not enough time?

No complaints? It must have been hyperbole.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Even a non musician can appreciate the perfect blending of voices or instruments. The Irish brogue in the movie Once is more easily understood in the harmonious songs than in the dialog. “Take this sinking boat and point it home. We’ve still got time.” Hearing the melodious song a moment ago has me thinking about trying to get a little more harmony in the inner parts of my mind and spirit.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. I’d rather be thinking about Mother’s Day and the people around me, but I’m stuck reflecting on bowing down to idols. Materialism and nationalism are much more dangerous idols than the oversized statue in the third chapter of Daniel. Getting on your knees and bending your back when the music plays is merely a physical exercise that is spiritually harmless. Why not go through the motions, but use the state-sponsored time to turn your heart and mind toward the real God? Why blow your God-given potential and strategic placement? If I had been in the story, I would have known the right thing to do.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

It’s not easy to refine or evaluate what I took away from the impromptu conversation yesterday with a friend. He was in the building on other business and stepped in the office for five minutes that turned into an hour. He grew up a preacher’s kid, but that was a long time ago. His journey has included ministry within the organized church, but his more recent history is outside the organized structures. “Church” for him is about relationship with Jesus and the contacts with others that Jesus instigates. I don’t know what I take away from that conversation yesterday, but it has something to do with relationship.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. I’m listening to a message from the second chapter of the book of Daniel. What I’m hearing has me thinking about the word “mystic.” “Mystery” is as close as the pastor has come in word usage. I’ll check the dictionary when I get home, but I’m thinking Daniel fits the definition of a mystic.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

I’m looking out the window at robin’s sticking their heads into the grass for food. This is a much preferred sign of the season than the proliferation of tacky yard sale posters.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Perhaps some decisions don’t have a “right” option. Dmitri Nabokov is the 73 year old son of Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov. When the novelist died more than 30 years ago, he left instructions for his heirs to burn the handwritten index cards that were the rough draft of his final work that he was feverishly trying to finish before he died. Now Dmitri has decided the work should be published. I wonder how you say “moral dilemma” in Russian.