Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's so hard to say goodbye

The golden boy just could not do it. He could not retire with a win. Oscar De La Hoya, born in East L.A. 35 years ago to a family of fighters, decided a Golden Gloves belt was not enough. A national championship was not enough. His 1992 Barcelona Olympic gold medal was not enough.

Last weekend’s De La Hoya – Pacquiao fight was a strong argument for “quitting at the top of one’s game.” You’d think Ali’s career (two losses at the end by age 39), or Joe Louis’ career before him (losing to Marciano at age 37) settled the question. Pacquiao dominated for eight rounds, and the fight was stopped. "I don't have it any more," Oscar confessed.

Even with a 39 and 6 professional record (30 by KO), and winning more money than any fighter before him, we will sadly remember only his last fight. I pray that was his last fight. After winning and defending his title 20 times (in four weight classes), he’s split his last eight bouts. The bloom is off the golden boy.

Surely you've heard some overdone brawler utter, “Hey, I’m a fighter. That’s what I do. I fight.”

But Oscar De La Hoya is not just a fighter. He’s got movie star good looks, a promotions company, a community development firm, part of a soccer team, publishing concerns, endorsements, video game covers, an autobiography, three ex-wives, one current wife, and five children.

The 5’-10” De La Hoya will soon stand seven feet tall in bronze outside the Staples Center in L.A. (next to Magic Johnson and Wayne Gretzky). To quote James Bond, “the world is not enough.”

We can only hope his Golden Boy empire is part of the solution for the beleaguered and beat up boxing game. Then Oscar can make his trips to the bank with the same nobility he once carried in the ring.

Esquire.com posted Bill Zehme’s remarkable 2002 profile of Johnny Carson’s retirement. Like most things Carson did, his exit from television and the spotlight was nearly flawless. Steve Martin tried to get Carson to appear during Martin’s hosting of the Oscars in 2001. Carson declined. “That's his very Midwestern morality and humility."

Retirement is not rightly the aim of a man’s life. After service for a number of years, in one trade or profession, a man ought to make a transition. If his labor was mundane, his hobby should be nearly perfected. A man needs to hone a craft. He ought to look for apprentices. In the interest of training others to go further, reach deeper, and take the practice to the “next level,” a man should do less and teach more.

There is a premium on the hard-won wisdom of a man. A gold watch says “thanks.” A protégé says “take that!”

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Christmas change

Having voted for change this fall, how will Americans change this Christmas? Fewer gifts? Smaller gifts? Retailers, many of whom depend upon the holidays for much of their annual profit, are forecasting a slim season. People are just too nervous to binge.

For years, I’ve been trying to re-orient our family away from stuff and toward more meaningful gifts. I have failed for a variety of reasons. I like stuff. I like new electronics. I like to lavish things on my wife and children. But what I really want to give them is a heart for others. It’s up to the dad to set the spiritual temperature in the home, and the generosity temperature. It’s hard to give generosity if you don’t have it.

We’ve done the gift boxes for Samaritan’s Purse. The kids loved filling the shoeboxes and decorating them. We’ve been talking about buying soccer balls or a goat through their on line catalog. SHIPPING DEADLINE IS NOV. 24.

Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program is also very cool, totally righteous. Buying gifts for children of the incarcerated is another way of “visiting those who are in prison” (Matthew 25).

I just found a new project, which has true life-sustaining, life-improving potential. Charity: Water builds wells and teaches rural poor in Liberia (and elsewhere) about sanitation and hygiene.

Liberia should get lots of special attention from the U.S. as it was the landing place for mid-19th century black Americans who wanted to return to Africa. And, again, believers are charged to give water to the thirsty (Matthew 25). I cannot remember a time when I was thirsty and did not have a drink of clean water within seconds or minutes. But one-sixth of the people on the planet are thirsty for clean water every day of their lives. Thousands die daily for lack of it.

And for the month of December, maybe I’ll re-direct our entire family’s spare change to the Salvation Army’s red kettles.

I’ll keep trying to give away more and indulge less. I’ll get along without some new gadget for a bit longer. And when I do get my next toy, I won’t feel guilty about it, because a few more people are drinking clean water.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election night quotes…

John McCain
“Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.

“Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone…

“I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.”

Barack Obama
"It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.”

“I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand. What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.

"To those - to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.”

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The President's job, since 1788

"... in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..."

What a whirlwind of intellectual and emotional conflict this long, long election season has been.

Competing interests, philosophical strife, personal wants and needs, deepest hopes and fears, all have been brought to the surface in the race between the John McCain-Sarah Palin ticket and Barack Obama-Joe Biden ticket (or all those third party candidates for whom you can vote “on principle”).

“… with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Declaration of Independence

Inside the privacy of the voting booth/cubicle/dining room table, I suspect that most Americans will vote on their “lives” (meaning national security/strong defense/terrorism) and their fortunes (“who’s gonna get this economy humming again”). Our sacred honor is not as much a factor, except for, perhaps, evangelical Christians or the most principled among us. This factor makes today’s “moral” issues (abortion, traditional marriage, embryonic stem cell research) fringe issues. That may be why the major candidates gave so little attention to these matters.

Without confessing my own deep struggle between core theological and political views (mostly conservative) and personal identification with race and history (progressive-revisionist), I first had to come to peace with a decision (just make a decision!). I finally resolved the issue by voting my head and praying my heart. Weird and conflicted.

But what does the U.S. Constitution say? If you’re a “limited government” type like me, the Constitution will lead you to the conclusion that we are asking way more of our government than it and its President are empowered to provide. (A different bias will lead one to another conclusion.)

Article II of the Constitution (link to the National Archives ) outlines the job of the Executive branch of government, led by the President, and checked and balanced by the Legislative branch (Article I) and the Judicial branch (Article III). It’s tightly edited. I love that. It specifies what the President must do.

Section 1 outlines the “chusing” of the President, including all that jazz about the term length, Electors (“Electoral College”), citizenship, succession, compensation, and oath. (Pretty fascinating reading, and it proves why the Union is nowhere near a Constitutional crisis. Those founding fathers were sharp, and had contingencies all plotted out.)

Sections 2 and 3 of Article II include the meat of the presidential job description. Section 2 says we’re counting on our president to handle the military (as Commander-in-Chief), grant reprieves and pardons for unjust federal convictions, write treaties (which would cover international relations, including another ignored issue this campaign – immigration), and nominate ambassadors, officers, and most significantly, “Judges of the supreme Court.”

Section 3 outlines the President’s “bully pulpit” powers. He gets to convene both houses of Congress for a “State of the Union” address “from time to time.” He gets to recommend things to the Congress (shouldn’t we all), and he has the power to convene or adjourn both or either houses. He receives ambassadors (should that not have been in Section 2?). He enforces the laws, and he commissions officers.

That’s it. That’s all. That’s plenty. So why do candidates give us many and varied position papers on all manner of policy? How has the President’s cabinet grown to 15 departments (plus the VP, Chief of Staff, OMB, EPA and Trade Rep.)? And there are countless commissions, bureaus and regulatory bodies.

I started thinking about this article by listing the things that mattered most to me in the selection of good presidential material. My issues were: sanctity of life, strong defense (meaning demonstrated personal courage and “toughness,” commitment, and understanding of lethal force), grasp of international relations, leadership and persuasive ability (important for Congressional deal-making), staff and campaign management (the rigors of a national campaign are a solid test of such abilities), personal character, and legal philosophy (by the way, not automatically best handled by lawyers).

Way down the list are various policy positions and proposals on the economy, taxes, health care, the environment, education, and energy.

That’s when I went back to the Constitution. That’s what I usually end up doing, going back to those original, fabulous, creative, flexible, firm documents. Though flawed, they are what the National Archives call “The Charters of Freedom.”

Given what the Constitution outlines, I’m looking for less from government, not more. It will take a stout leader to scale back this monolith of bureaucracy we’ve created. It will take a deep and abiding faith in individuals, in order to allow us to chart our own course and provide for the weakest among us voluntarily. I don’t know how the next President or any President will get us where we need to go.

It’s time to pray.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Surviving disaster

(photo by Jay Janner, Austin American Statesman via AP)
Among the most dramatic tales of survival from Hurricane Ike’s arrival in Galveston is the lion who took shelter in a church with some local residents.

No doubt, the living is stressful along the Texas Gulf Coast. But they are hearty souls, mostly. More than a century before Hurricane Ike, the 1900 “Galveston Hurricane” (before they had cute names) took 6,000 lives. It remains the worst weather disaster in U.S. history, and spurred the construction of the sea wall.

Ike was not so deadly, but still traumatic, leveling entire neighborhoods, and knocking out power to much of the nation’s fourth largest metro area-Houston-for weeks.

But they’re dealing with it. NPR reported that some locals resented the growing “nanny state” mentality of local government. Many are carpenters and know how to rebuild, and survive in the process. “We ate all the good steaks last night,” said restaurateur Tommy LaCroy.

My perspective gets righted by the current PBS “Nova” series “Disaster.” Earthquakes, genuine cataclysms like Mt. Vesuvius in the year 79, Peru’s 1970 earthquake, or the Indian Ocean tsunamis of Christmas 2004.

Glen Beck’s radio conversation on the outpouring of compassion for the Texas Gulf Coast (September 23, hour three) didn’t take very long at all. No celebrity fundraisers. No MTV specials. No national outpouring of grief and anger. Not much to talk about, except pick up trucks, chain saws and pup tents – people scraping together what’s left of their material lives, and deciding if their love of the Gulf Coast lifestyle is that strong after all.

If only Wall Street was as stout as the carpenters on Galveston. While the big money cats are asking for a handout, government officials who manage our (taxpayers) money, are determined to bail out the really high rollers.

We’ve grown too accustomed to help from on high. Help is more reliable closer to home. Proverbs 27:10 reminds us that “better is a friend nearby than a brother far away.”

I don’t begrudge folks who accept help from the Salvation Army or Red Cross. Not at all. With every disaster, Americans get to prove their generosity. But let’s be clear. My hope is in God, and the two hands he gave me, and the people that I can see.

Let’s roll up our sleeves and pitch in for each other. Quick, before the guy shows up and says, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Political marriages - for better or worse

Just for the record, a couple of quick thoughts on political marriages.

John Edwards’ late-coming admission of his affair shocks the political soul, again. (But nothing really compares to the former president’s dalliance.) It’s not just “boys will be boys.” Edwards was a big-time political leader who earned millions of votes in various national primary races. He was a major voice for class envy, class warfare even, and some people were listening.

Even though he talked it through with his family years ago, the public revelation opens the wounds afresh. And there’s still the open paternity question. (My goodness, that child deserves to know who her father is.)

No matter what the apologists say, the marriage vow still carries weight – and the breaking of that vow kills credibility with the public. Lying outright to gaggles of reporters at a time, well that can’t be good for one’s political future, can it?

John McCain, asked by pastor Rick Warren at Saturday’s Saddleback Civic Forum about his worst moral failure, said it was the failure of his first marriage. After “extramarital affairs,” he divorced, then remarried, and eventually regained good relationships with his first wife and their children.

Political marriages are unique and difficult for their own reasons: the unrelenting visibility, the pressure on the kids, all those parties. Maybe, like Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts, some of these guys should retire “to spend more time with their families.”

All the more reason to “pray for those in authority.”

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bernie Mac 1957-2008

Just a quick shout out to the McCullough family on the untimely passing of "Bernie Mac," a favorite of The Old School editor.

His Fox TV show was an oasis of common sense, playing the father figure for his sister's children while she was in rehab. Funny right where I live. He went mainstream with his role in the "Ocean's Eleven" franchise, and I loved "Mr. 3000."

He was an Original King of Comedy, a husband, father and grandfather. Gone too soon. Love ya man.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Chinese Century

I do not happily anticipate the decline of Western civilization, nor the decrease of American greatness, nor of it’s influence in the world. Nevertheless, the world is getting smaller. We’ve got some serious cultural issues facing us here in the U.S. of A. And all the while, the developing world is still developing.

Years ago, in casual conversation, I forecast that the 21st century would be “The African Century.” Finally, after centuries of exploitation, conquest and colonialism, and a full century of pursuing independence and nationhood, I thought that the land of my forefathers and foremothers would come into its own.

Rich in natural resources, exploding in Christianity, and with an ambitious people, I hoped to live to see the day that “the dark continent” would no longer be shrouded in illiteracy and poverty. The plague of apartheid was cured in southern Africa. Things were looking up.

But in the late 1990s, the AIDS pandemic took hold. And fratricide, one of hell’s most evil devices, sought to devour Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda… (I’m running out of space, and tears). Centuries of civil war in the Sudan are now summed up in one word, Darfur. Africa has issues.

Africa’s issues are not insurmountable, but they will drag her ascendancy, while another giant takes its place on the world stage. Yes. It’s China, leader of developing nations.

I was impressed by a trip to Hong Kong in 2005. Along the way from the airport to my hotel, we passed miles and miles (and miles and miles) of shipping containers. And remember that Hong Kong is just one of China’s commercial gateways. China is a manufacturing, economic giant.

Population: 1.33 Billion (India is second with 1.1479 B, and the U.S. in third at 304.8 M)

The 2008 Olympic Games were awarded to Beijing in 2001, thus the official launch of China as a world leader. Struggling with pollution, Tibet, Taiwan, human rights, religious repression, and a billion more issues befitting a nation its size, is China ready for its close-up?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

This I believe - fatherhood is calling!

I heard a guy talk about how fatherhood changed his approach to life. I get that.

Daniel Flanagan's testimonial appeared recently on NPR's regular feature "This I Believe."

"...now I believe in do-overs, in the chance to do it all again. And I believe that do-overs can be made at any point in your life, if you have the right motivation. Mine came from a surprising source. It was September 21, 2002, when my son Blake was born."

From self-described "loser" to husband, father, and college student. You da man.

It's up to us all to "be the man."

Friday, July 25, 2008

A “cure” for what ails us

(photo by www.redhaze.co.uk)
Every time my resolve weakens, every time I falter in my responsibilities, every time I’m tempted to take the easy way out, I catch a strong whiff of Star Parker.

She describes her journey as “from welfare fraud to conservative crusader.” She attributes her turnaround to her Christian conversion, but I don’t think Jesus made her a conservative. Jesus gives life. Jesus gives truth. How we apply that new reality depends on how well we listen to and obey the Holy Spirit. Parker’s genuine compassion and vision for empowerment have become a mission.

Star Parker’s book Uncle Sam’s Plantation still rattles lingering socialist sentiments within me. It’s a good thing, because government intervention is very, very rarely the solution.

Plug into Star Parker’s Coalition for Urban Renewal and Education (C.U.R.E., get it?). You’ll appreciate her voice of reason in this age of false compassion and political doublespeak.

Another free enterprise mentor: Jon Caldera’s Independence Institute.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I lost my scout!

(photo by R. DelVecchio, US Army)
Mike was my scout, my front guard. I met him six years ago at a conference in Denver, and we just connected. We stayed in touch. I called him to make sure he was still making spiritual progress. He would call me with profound and timely spiritual advice. Mike always called at the perfect time, totally unsolicited. “Scout” is one of six important guys you should have in your life. See “Resource” note at bottom of this post.

Mike was a reluctant prophet. Like many who struggle with this most sensitive spiritual gift, Mike was never at ease with the responsibility of hearing exactly what Almighty God is saying, and then passing that information along. His gift never went to his head.

Over these few years, Mike had an impact on my life. He encouraged me to continue carrying my nine-foot wheeled cross across cities around the U.S., and to carry the burdens of the nation in Christ’s name.

On 3/17/03, Mike said, “Hold steady and depend on the Lord, Be shed of the anchors that hold you down, be ready to move freely. Let us be faithful with our income, tithes and offerings.”

On 8/25/04 Mike told me, “watch the eye gate - the things you see. Watch the ear gate - the things people say to you.”

On 9/7/05, “take authority over the enemy.”

On 6/13/06, “Be the leader of holiness in your family.”

And just three days before he left us on 7/9/08, Mike called with this gem, “Don't talk so much. Be quiet and listen. Let the Lord get a word in edgewise.”

Hey Mike, who asked you? Who made you prophet over my life? Do I need this kind of rebuke? What kind of friend are you? Mike was the most special kind of friend – a friend who speaks the truth in love. There is no more valuable friend than one who is willing to tell you - straight up - the way things are.

To all you who wrestle with God over your gift, please obey the Lord and speak what God gives you. Sure we stone our prophets, but without your obedience, we will perish. Without you, our cause of death will be written down as “ignorance and stupidity.”

Right now, I’ve got a major opening in my “circle.” Thanks, Lord, for sending Mike to serve so well.

You will be missed, but we'll see you soon, bro!

See “Six Vital Relationships No Man Should Do Without” from Encourage Men to Pray Ministries.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Independence Day - rewind!

(photo by David J. Nightingale)
Happy 232nd birthday USA! We went through all our little fireworks last evening, those weak, tiny little Colorado approved fireworks, while all around us the serious skyshow was under way. I guess they all went to Wyoming. Later we listened to the neighbors party late into the night. Then we listened to them fight - the real fireworks.
A year ago at this time, I posted a piece called "Jefferson's 27 complaints." I hope you enjoy it.

(Pop culture tie-in: the Hollywood release for this week is "Hancock" (Will Smith as alcoholic super hero). Hancock - you know, like the prominent signer of the Declaration of Independence. Eerie!)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Rate that anthem

(photo by Molly Burgess, U.S. Navy)
Denver is ablaze over jazz singer Rene Marie’s switcheroo of the national anthem preceding Mayor John Hickenlooper’s “State of the City” 2008 address. Instead of “The Star Spangled Banner,” she arranged the lyrics from “Lift Every Voice and Sing” to the tune of the traditional national anthem. (Lyrics here)

Much of the debate locally is around the use of what is called “the black national anthem” in place of the official version. “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is a beautiful and sacred song. I’ve taught my children to stand when it’s played (but I don’t think they know the first verse). And for the record, in my National Baptist Hymnal, it’s #477 and listed as “National Negro Hymn.”

But they also know the purpose and the decorum around the national anthem. You stand. You put your hand on your heart. You take your hat off. (Even in another country, the least you would do is stand in respect to your hosts.)

But at this public event, oh, the outrage! And for good reason. Ms. Marie’s artistic interpretation was an indulgence, poorly placed during a official city event, and she abused the privilege. She insulted the unifying national sentiment (the purpose of the national anthem). She embarrassed the Democratic mayor on the eve of the Democratic National Convention. In my book, she also insulted “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by blending it with the Francis Scott Key anthem. But hey, that’s art for ya.

The blame is flying around, but there is one unnamed member of the mayor’s staff that is shaking in his or her boots this morning. They should have known what they were getting. Rene Marie is a self-proclaimed activist. From an interview at JazzReview.com she describes herself as “devil’s advocate and sometimes a rabble-rouser. I bring up things that I’m passionate about. I’m a renegade.”

In her creative flow, she once blended the words from Billie Holiday’s lament to southern lynchings “Strange Fruit” with the tune of “Dixie.” That's creative! Colorado’s Governor Ritter says she performed the exact same rendition of “Lift Every Voice” to the anthem’s tune at the Colorado Prayer Luncheon to a standing ovation… but I doubt it was billed as the national anthem. Expectations are everything.

I would like to see her in concert or at a jazz club. I might be entertained, but not when I’m ready to sing the national anthem. She is all set in far left circles, but she won’t be invited to any more official sing-alongs.

I think that somebody in the Mayor’s office is pretty lax about official decorum. Patriotism is about more than gestures, but symbols matter, especially in the media age.

Now, to other famous renditions of the national anthem, and you vote, good or bad:
Jimi Hendrix’s guitar instrumental at Woodstock (1969)
Marvin Gaye’s blending of “The Star Spangled Banner” (1983) (NPR story)
Roseanne Barr’s screech at the Padres - Reds game (1990) (YouTube)
Whitney Houston at Super Bowl XXV (1991) (YouTube)

And if they are not billed as the anthem, are we OK with Ray Charles unforgettable “America, the Beautiful” and Kate Smith’s “God Bless America” (1938). Who’s writing the new hymns?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Reconciliation Blog

I spent a fair amount of time in the 90s promoting the notion of "reconciliation," mostly racial. Some have taken the issue to the next level. My friend Ed Gilbreath has written on the subject; his latest book is Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical's Inside View of White Christianity (IVP, 2006).

Race relations is always ripe fare for bloggers and talk shows, but Ed goes deeper into human relationships. "Thoughtful" and "articulate" would be overused, hackneyed adjectives, but they fit. Thankfully, Ed's ideas and words are always fresh. His is an important voice as the nation navigates across so many divides (red state-blue state, dominant culture-multi-cultural, religious-secular, etc.).

The subtitle for his Reconciliation Blog is from a scripture verse: "so from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view."

It's good conversation. Check it out!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

75 skills men should master

MSN’s Lifestyle:Men's channel really rocks it with Tom Chiarella’s article “The 75 Skills Every Man Should Master.” The Esquire POV is classically worldly, so the list reflects the “importance” of sex, liquor and gambling. But the list is not entirely without value to the American man who is grappling with measures of modern manhood.

These skills remind me of the importance of 4-H (missed it), boy scouts (made it to Webelos before quitting), the military (missed it), and listening to old men (I’m getting there, and soon I’ll be old myself).

I’d be bragging to tell you how many of these items I have locked up. Better and more gracious to point out the items I would like to master, but am still working on.

#4 - Score a baseball game. “Scoring a game is about bearing witness, expanding your own ability to observe.” Even as a journalist, I aspire to sharpen up on this one.

#23 – Be loyal. “You will fail at it. You already have. It is a currency of selflessness, given without expectation and capable of the most stellar return.” I have also succeeded at it, but I don’t trust myself with loyalty. Episodes of selfishness overwhelm me often. So I’m still working on this one. God help me.

#44 – Ask for help.

#46 – Tell a woman’s dress size. Husbands get this.

#47 – Recite one poem from memory. As a poet, I know that you don’t really impact your audience until you can drop it verbatim from your mind. Men of the Spirit should have some of David’s Psalms or Solomon’s proverbs under their belt (within easy reach). Countless passages in the Torah, the Prophets, the Gospels, and the Epistles also are worthy of committing to memory.

#51 – Build a campfire.

#69 – Tie a knot. Yes, it comes in handy when your trying to get that mattress or bookcase home on top of your car.

#75 – Negotiate a better price. “Be informed. Know the price of competitors.” Which will help me keep up with my wife as she conscientiously compares prices.

Better still to solicit your additions to the list. I might add:

#76 - Know all the sizes of your wife’s wardrobe, not just the dress size.

#77 - Carry a pocketknife and know how to use it. Remember the game mumbletypeg? (That’s one of the things I hate most about post-9/11 airport security.)

#78 - I know a young man who just made Eagle Scout. I want to ask him if he can start a fire without matches like Tom Hanks in the movie “Cast Away.” That’s just cool.

#79 - Give anonymously. Total stealth. Secret night missions. Shell companies (within the extent of the law). Trusted third-party intermediaries. The fact is that the more you give in secret, the more treasure you build up in heaven. Jesus said that.

Your entries?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Iron Man - industry meets conscience

The morality tale behind the spring blockbuster Marvel film Iron Man is this: self-absorbed industrialist meets his comeuppance, grows a conscience/compassion for others, and puts his engineering genius to work righting wrongs. No spoilers there.

I go into most films to be entertained. Comic book movies are designed to be "eye candy," so I'm not expecting any great revelations when I go into the darkened theater looking for a superhero. Iron Man does not dissappoint in this regard. Even the preachiness (the evil weapons dealer) was in a small enough dose so as to not bog down the story or action. And guess what? Iron Man still fights. He doesn't go all pacifist on us.

Effects, technology, and action met the standard. Gratuitous sensuality was a bit much for my conservative leanings, so be advised if you're going to push the envelope with youth under the PG-13. I feel like guidance is appropriate up to 18, and many "R" films should be "NC-17." But, hey, you're reading "The Old School" blog.

Talking to our youth pastor, he and I couldn't figure out why Hollywood has to be so graphic with its sensuality. It's not like kids need any encouragement. Teen lust needs no assistance from media to get all the body parts and hormones functioning. Back in the day, filmmakers allowed the imagination to carry more of the weight... zoom on the ankles as clothing drops to the floor, giggles, feet walk to the bedroom, show the doorknob closing, fade to black. Tony Stark's tussles, I get it already!

Actually, the modern world is super-sensual, and the Hefner revolution that sought to celebrate sex by putting it into the mainstream has actually cheapened the act. Here's how I'd write the Tony Stark character - I'd let him keep pursuing women, conquering femme after femme, but getting less and less satisfaction out of it. He might even try to remember his girlie's names. Eventually, he'd settle down with you-know-who. Then Marvel would have to put its creativity into the relational angst within marriage (a la "Mr. and Mrs. Smith"). There's a sub-plot for ya.

In a world at war, and with Iron Man's role expanding as a member of the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel can and should pursue various moral questions related to war, force and weaponry. Rich ground there, and no easy answers, just the way Marvel likes it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sailors - you do that for me?

(to a friend who appeared in the Denver airing of the PBS show "Carrier")

OK, so you look pretty good in your navy blue Navy uniform. And you were always a good manager of time. Maybe it’s the military training.

The nighttime landings on the USS Nimitz pitching in high seas like that... deeply moved me. I get that they have to practice dangerous manuevers because you never know when you'll have a hot mission. But you guys do that for me? For the country? For duty? For your families? For the constitution?

I don't really feel worthy, but I'm damn glad you do what you do.

Full disclosure: my dad was a Navy man, repairing aircraft carriers in San Diego in World War II.
I shoulda known it was an Icon /Mel Gibson production. Really, really good TV.

Gunny Bob on presidential character

Denver’s got its own mil-talker, Gunnery Sgt. Bob Newman, USMC (ret.). “Gunny Bob” rides the nighttime airwaves of Clear Channel’s clear channel KOA-850 AM most nights from 7 – 10 p.m. (make that 1900 – 2200h you civilian pile of waste product!)

Ooh-rah! (Do Army guys spell it differently?)

At times he can be inflammatory and downright wrong. But sometimes he’s so stinking right it makes me smile. Tonight he was off on Jeremiah Wright’s Church of Christ in Chicago (we will discuss the nature of the Afro-centric church later), but Gunny Bob was completely right on the elements of leadership.

The characteristics that we require of the person we choose to be president:
1) good judgment,
2) the ability to be decisive (which, with good judgment, helps one make the right decision),
3) moral courage.

Did they teach that to Gunny Bob at Quantico or someplace? That stuff works.

Signed, a bitter Black Christian gun-owner from the Midwest

Monday, April 28, 2008

“Carrier” on PBS

Flipping around last night, I stopped on the premiere of the PBS series “Carrier.” A film crew spent six months straight with the deployed crew of the USS Nimitz, and it’s public television at its best (meaning little narration, mostly the words of the crew).

“If you ain’t ordnance, you ain’t s***!”

“We build bombs and move them around the ship, and we’re at the bottom of the pecking order.”

“Our blood pumps about 1,000 miles an hour.”

“If you die, you die. That’s just the way it is.”

“My father was a pimp or something. My mother was a prostitute.”

“You know me, man. I worry about everything.”

“(On deck) you keep your head on a swivel, because everything changes so fast.”

“Personally, I don’t even get the war – why we’re fighting for someone else’s freedom when we barely have our own.”

“On ship, there are as many opinions on the war as in any group of people.”

The first of the ten-part series seemed mostly free of agenda. To me it looked like a pretty fair presentation of the good, the bad and the ugly of life on board. I couldn’t be more impressed with the young people at every level of the ship’s operations.

Forbes reports the most dangerous job is fishing. The second most dangerous job, pilots and flight engineers. Put them together and what do you get? The aircraft carrier… a miracle of modern engineering, an awesome tool of warfare. A floating high school. A small city on the sea.

Check out “Carrier.” http://www.pbs.org/weta/carrier/

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Soul Revival, Neo Soul, Acid Jazz, etc.

Music is extremely personal. Even people that like the same sounds like them for different reasons. "It means this!" "It means that!" And so on. So indulge me a mention from the soul of my earhole.

A BIG shout out to my new favorite free internet radio station, Yahoo's Soul Revival station, which is powered by the editors at soultracks.com.

Their mix is strong enough to hang with my favorite DJ (K-Nee), here in the Denver area, who runs the "So What" radio show late Friday nights at midnight on another classic outlet, KUVO. Sometimes, Denver feels pretty hip!

A couple of other recommendations:

See the previous column of music tips at The Old School from Feb. 14

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Movies - the right way

El Paso Sheriff: What’s it mean? What’s it leading to? I mean if you told me 20 years ago that I’d see children walking the streets of our Texas towns with green hair, bones in their noses, I just flat out wouldn’t have believed you.
Ed Tom Bell: Signs and wonders. But I think once you quit hearin’ “sir” and “ma’am” the rest is soon to foller.
El Paso Sheriff: Oh, it’s the tide. It’s the dismal tide. It is not the one thing.
Ed Tom Bell: Not the one thing.

Here in the People’s Republic of Boulder, in April there is an annual “idea camp,” a intellectual festival called the Conference on World Affairs. Participants are mostly left-of-center, with an occasional retired general, cold war diplomat, or unconventional (non-liberal) thinker sprinkled in.

Among the most popular annual sessions is called “Cinema Interruptus.” They watch the whole movie (sorry, film) on Monday, and then watch it again Tuesday through Friday, pausing the playback often for questions or comments from the audience, thus stretching a two-hour event into an ten-hour intensive seminar. Insights from the novel. Yeats' poetry. Other influences.

This year’s film, “No Country for Old Men.” This year’s host while Roger Ebert continues to recuperate, is Jim Emerson.

It’s a Coen brothers production, so I’m all in. Tommy Lee Jones in a major role. Money. It won “Best Picture” from the Academy (a very artsy choice). But most of all it’s just loads of fun to be in a big hall with other people who watch movies properly:
1) Sitting all the way through, and reading, the credits,
2) When watching DVDs at home, turning off the phone (and often the lights),
3) On subsequent views, turn on the commentary track, and laugh along with the directors and actors.

(I'll post an old column on watching credits one of these days.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Charlton Heston: a salute to square-jawed intensity

A ramrod salute to an icon of the silver screen, Charlton Heston. As I reflect on Mr. Heston’s big roles, I’m digging the way this guy rolled.

He played it straight and he played it well. We get to see his Moses role every Easter-time. Ben-Hur, Heston’s Oscar-winning role is a well-worn videotape in my collection (yes, I said videotape).

The obituaries recount that Heston marched with Dr. King in the early 60s, well before civil rights were Hollywood hip.

Eventually, changed from his early liberal leanings. He switched parties. Once he campaigned for Adlai Stevenson and JFK, later in his life he campaigned for GOP candidates from Nixon ’72 through Bush ’00.

His union affiliation (president of the Screen Actors Guild), which I also liked, switched too. His Wikipedia entry notes that he left Actor’s Equity because they would not let a white actor play a Eurasian role in the stage version of “Miss Saigon.” “Obscenely racist,” said Heston. I once interviewed late actor John Hancock on the notion of Cross-ethnic casting. The large African-American man said, “I’d love to play a Nazi.”

Heston’s sci-fi era (“Soylent Green,” “Planet of the Apes”) was always cool in my eyes, which is a warning to all those who think highly of their own sophistication.

His leadership of the National Rifle Association was cool too, climaxed by his legendary photo op, holding a vintage long gun over head. You’ll have to take my second amendment rights when you pry them from “my cold, dead hands” (in his inimitable, million-dollar baritone).

(Why does my defense of the Second Amendment feel so “radical?” Is it only because of my defense of the Black Panthers’ exercise of Second Amendment rights?)

I’m still studying his thoughts on the Culture War, delivered at Harvard on Feb. 16, 1999. (Love the speeches at AmericanRhetoric.com.)

I dig his 64 year marriage to Lydia, very un-Hollywood.

I hope they give him a 21-gun salute, one shot at a time.

Most importantly, I hope the Savior he met in Ben-Hur was his in real life too.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Stay Married - so help you God

(photo by Mike Groll/Yahoo News/AP)
The New York Governor is keeping the mainstream media (and the tabloids) busy these days. The new Guv, David Paterson, who took office after Eliot Spitzer's quick disgrace and resignation, has himself announced adultery... a few times, with different women. His wife has also revealed her adultery.

It all happened during a rough spot in their marriage a few years ago. They announced it, wisely, at the beginning of his tenure in the Big Chair. "I didn't want to be compromised. My conscience is clear. I feel a lot better," the Guv said on day two of his administration. They are in counseling and have vowed not to do it again.

Now his staff and reporters are making sure he didn't use state money for his trysts. "We the people" seem to care much more about how our tax dollars are at work, than about how our politicians are workin' it.

(A couple of scalawags not mentioned or pictured in the previous post, no less than the 1990s posterboys for dalliance, President William Clinton and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. The President holding his marriage together, Mr. Speaker divorcing his second wife and marrying the girlfriend with whom he affaired.)

America seems to be settling for a bit less personal perfection in the character of her leaders, and the press is ready to make sure we know from where all the dirt under those fingernails came.

Marriage ain't easy, and it ain't supposed to be. But it is worth fighting for. Couples are supposed to fight together, against the things that try to tear them apart. Too often we just settle for the easy opponent - our spouse. Thanks to Family Life Ministries of Little Rock Arkansas (http://www.familylife.com/), who taught my wife and I that "your spouse is not your enemy."

I'm praying for the Patersons. It's easier for most of us. We don't have to do a news conference to confess all our junk. Do you think the pressure of the public spotlight would keep us on the straight and narrow way?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spitzer joins league of extraordinary scalawags

He fell like lightning. But New York’s shamed Gov. Eliot Spitzer is not the devil incarnate. He’s merely a man, beset by the guilt he bore privately until Monday. His guilt was safely shielded behind his bravado, or so he thought.

Spitzer crashed hard and fast, behind implications that he hired an escort to travel from New York to Washington for a couple of hours of sexual favors. The feds were alerted because of unusual transactions, a shell company, and a phony name, all allegedly used by the Guv to pay for his partying ways. He resigned because he has no time to run the State of New York. His job yesterday was to wrangle some kind of legal deal to keep him out of federal court. His job today is to wrestle his demons and try, try to restore some semblance of a relationship with his wife and daughters. That job will take him longer than he thinks.

Spitzer joins the legion of wealthy, powerful, successful men who were compelled to cross the line both personally and professionally. We build ‘em up – politicians, athletes, preachers – and we watch ‘em slide down the steps they built, bruising their rumps and heads all they way. Painful. To some, it’s morbidly delightful.

The details of this case are so juicy. If it were a Hollywood script, it would be dismissed as unbelievable. Golly, politics is fun!

If the Guv got his freak on way out there in Nevada, where such things are legal and regulated, (and if he paid for it in cash from his own money) would he be in trouble? Not so much.

Unfortunately, the sexually liberated and libertarian-wanna be American public doesn’t care nearly as much about marriage vows as it does about public money. Should we care?

People say they don’t care what a man does in his private life. But deep down, we know if a man lies to his wife and kids, he will lie to us. And trust don’t come cheap. It takes years to prove oneself faithful. And in a moment, that tree can be cut down.

If proven guilty, extra demerits for an attorney who crosses the line. Triple demerits for the prosecuting attorney caught working loopholes in the system. For a zealot like Spitzer who defended the letter of the law with such glee, no mercy. He should expect the prosecutor to give no quarter. But those guys don’t play by the same rules as you and me.

David Paterson will become New York’s governor next Monday. The Honorable Mr. Paterson represented Harlem in the N.Y. state legislature for 20 years before becoming Lieutenant Governor in 2006. He also spoke (not during prime time) at the 2004 Democratic convention in Boston, where Barack Obama stormed onto the national stage. I’ve already heard newscasters report that Paterson would be NY’s first African-American governor. It’s a bigger story that he will be the first blind governor in the nation’s history.

Lust? Power? "Because they can?" An old preacher once said, "every man who knocks on the door of a prostitute is actually looking for God." Like most substitutes, whatever a guy is looking for, it's rarely - if ever - found at the door of a harlot. True intimacy, deep and true fulfillment, great sex, real interest and deep caring is more likely found at home than "on the road."

If not, well, there's nothing sadder than a "lonely husband."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tunes and such - Calvin Nowell

Just found the MySpace page for a new friend, Calvin Nowell. And by friend, I mean in the literal - we've met face to face and enjoyed some connections - kind of friendship. Not the MySpace "be my 8700th friend" sense. But I'm not hating... MySpace is cool, super cool for artists...


Calvin's got a great story (how he lost 215 pounds!), he's a gifted minister, and delivers a soothing worship sound full of heart and SOUL. I'm delighted with the songs he's posted on his page, from his well-titled release, start somewhere.

Others on my "Tunes and such" list are friends and/or artists with straight-arrow impact on my heart and head.

Swirl 23 - Detroit-based alternative rock with a vision (kinda grungey - rap/core-ish, y'know?), unsigned.

Mariachi Vasquez - what? With mohawks and dyed hair, Denver's coolest mariachi band, and all in the same family.

Shane Ladean - Denver area worship leader, passion pilot, steers his Fender Rhodes with total skill, writes cool songs, my daughter sings with him.

Ayinde - Denver-based singer/poet/performance artist with a deep, deep well of furious love for God and mankind. See him monthly at "The Speakout" in Aurora - national caliber poetics!

Tye Tribbett and Greater Anointing - another church boy breaks the mold with high praise, groovy hooks, prophetic lyrics, stage presence like Gnarls Barkley, and willing to leave the playlist and enter into the vertical praise realm. Don't miss in concert!

David Crowder Band - became famous through Passion concerts. I can't stop singing his songs.

Israel and New Breed - often seen leading worship at Joel Osteen's megaplex, I Houghton and band played in the Grammy show last Sunday (2008). Breaking the mold of soul-laced worship, racking up awards, staying real.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mattingly: "Thou shalt not say 'adultery'"

It's a strange Valentine's Day season. Just read a story on how to make your divorce happier, and this one from religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

In his interview with Pamela Druckerman, author of Lust in Translation: The Rules of Infidelity from Tokyo to Tennessee, it became clear that the 7th Commandment isn't just that big a deal anymore.

"If I asked someone, 'Have you ever committed adultery?', it was like God entered the room at that moment," said Druckerman, reached at her home in Paris.

Mattingly's column should be posted today at: http://tmatt.gospelcom.net/column/

Over on the "love front," both the Wall Street Journal and ABC News are tracking studies that show the connections between "new love" (passion, pleasure, elevated dopamine in the brain's ventral tegmental area), and enduring love (bonding, raised oxytocin levels and activity in the brain's ventral pallidum area).

Fellas, keep the playful passion set on "high." In addition to respecting her, and honoring her (good long term strategies), I think your lady likes being pursued.

I'm taking Valentine's Day off. Our anniversary is one week later, and that's the big show for us.

Look for Sam Schechner's article, "Keeping Love Alive," Feb. 8, 2008, Wall Street Journal. (You can get access to lots of Wall St. Journal content by entering through a Google search.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Kanye brushes up against the truth

Hip hop fans are feeling for Kanye, as he mourns publicly the loss of his mother Donda, who died earlier this year after plastic surgery. From the Yahoo/AP story on tonight's 50th anniversary Grammy awards show:

"Last night I saw you in my dreams, and now I can't wait to go to sleep," sang West, dressed in black and with MAMA etched into his haircut, as he launched into "Hey Mama," a celebratory tune from his second album that has now turned into a somber ode.

Even closer to the mark, Kanye said, "I'll be more alive when I'm asleep, than I am today."

Missing our departed loved ones, there is a great reunion for all those who die in Christ. And forever is a long time...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Dangerous Man '08: Career and Calling

Forty hours a week, 50 weeks a year, 40 years of work from age 25 to “retirement” = 80,000 hours, and for what? Yet, as American men. we are constantly measured by the success of our work. Are we any closer to what God had planned for our time on the planet?

I just finished a second year running at a small version of Promise Keepers in suburban Denver, called “Dangerous Man Day,” organized by Al Larson, author of a book The Making of a Dangerous Man. Good for me that I got to run a workshop called “Career and Calling.”

Notes for attendees and interested parties follow.

Os Guinness writes in his modern classic book The Call:
The modern world has scrambled things so badly that today we worship our work, we work at our play, and we play at our worship.
(Guinness, p. 160)


“The Work Week” over eight centuries
13th century - Adult male peasant, UK - 31 hrs/wk.
Middle Ages - English worker - 44.4 hrs/wk.
1400-1600 - Farmer-miner, adult male, UK - 38 hrs/wk.
1850 - Average worker, U.S. - 70 hrs/wk.
(Compiled by Juliet B. Schor author, Boston College sociology professor, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_time)

The six day week was pretty standard through the World War I years.

Henry Ford created the eight-hour-a-day, five-day work week in 1926, giving his workers time to enjoy their cars. There’s an obvious connection between incentive and production.
(Joshua Zeitz, professor of history, Univ. of Cambridge, England, http://www.americanheritage.com/blog/20069_25_469.shtml)

The notion finally went nationwide as a part of Roosevelt’s New Deal. Congress passed The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 establishing a minimum wage and a 44-hour cap before overtime rules kicked in, then it was moved to a 40-hour cap in 1940.

· Expedia.com reports 63 percent of Americans work more than 40 hours a week. (THAT’S A LOT OF OVERTIME!)
· More than $21 billion dollars in vacation time goes unused annually (and back to employers!).
· We spend 2.5 more weeks—and three months more—at work than do our Japanese and western European counterparts, respectively.
Indiana Univ., IU Home Pages, Sept. 2004, http://www.homepages.indiana.edu/040904/text/workweek.shtml

How many of us work 50 hours a week or more?
I found estimates between 20 and 40 percent, and a lot of those are highly educated, white collar workers.
Expedia/Indiana U., Peter Kuhn, Univ. of Cal. – Santa Barbara, http://www.msnbc.com/id/3072426/

See link for poem, “ODE TO THE WORKING MAN”

In 1995, an 87 year old woman made national headlines when she drew from her savings to donate a 150,000 dollar scholarship to Southern Mississippi. Her chosen profession – washerwoman, taking in the clothes of others, washing and ironing for half a century or more. Oseola McCarty received an honorary doctorate from Harvard and the Presidential Citizen’s Medal. Did she fulfill her calling?

Guys, fulfilling our calling is so much more than the stuff we do. There is a deeper spiritual component to our labors.

As American men. we are constantly measured by the outward success of our work. But we may be already be closer than we think to fulfilling our calling.

Guinness writes:
Calling is indispensable to the integrity and effectiveness of the church in this momentous hour. Calling … also touches cultural life potently. (p. 59)

The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Rome (8:19) :
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.

Eugene Peterson’s Message paraphrase puts it this way:
The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next.

As a young believer in the early 80s we sang it this way:
Rise up! Rise up!
You are the soldiers of the cross,
You are the ones who are to glorify the King!

Creation groans
for the sons of God to come
manifesting all the nature of their King!

• Adam – gardener, zoologist
• Hiram’s Bronze Works, Tyre
• Nehemiah – cupbearer, contractor, governor
• Simon Peter and Andrew - fishermen
• Matthew – tax collector
• Book of Acts: tanner, textiles, tailor

Using their talents for Kingdom purposes!
Fulfilling their calling!

My interpretation of the godly virtues and their outcome in II Peter 5:8 - Prayer > clarity > faith > provision and agreement!

Want biblical life coaching? Contact Pete Richardson, pete_richardson@comcast.net, http://www.thestratinc.com/.

Check out the Christian job search ministry http://www.intercristo.com/.

Fight fear with God’s word! Download 40 verses against fear by Aslan’s Place (spiritual healing center in Hesperia, CA), http://www.aslansplace.com/insights/Fear.PDF.

The Call – vocational and life purpose tool by Randy Austad

Marketplace Leaders, Os Hillman

Marketplace Chaplains USA

Life@Work resources and events

Ancient Paths seminar, Craig Hill, Family Foundations Intl., Littleton, CO

Discern your spiritual gifts (God-given aptitude for kingdom work), based on Wagner-Houts spiritual gifts test, free and on line at http://buildingchurch.net/g2s.htm.

Romans 12:3-8
motivational gifts (prophecy, serving, teaching, exhorting/encouragement, giving, leading, showing mercy)

1 Corinthians 12:1-31
spiritual gifts (word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, healings, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues)

1 Corinthians 14:1-40
Proper use and application of spiritual gifts (prophecy and tongues)

Ephesians 4:7-16
“Five – fold,” vocational ministry gifts (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers)

1 Peter 4:7-11
gifts for sharing (prayers, fervent love, hospitality, speaking, serving)

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
(Eph. 2:10 NIV)

Men, you are:
Built by God / DESTINED – Jer. 1 (“before I formed you in the womb, I knew you”)
Loved by the Father / A SON – (you are sons, not slaves – John 8:35, friends, not servants, John 15:15)
Gifted by the Creator / TALENTED – stir up the gifts - II Tim1:6 , provoke love and good deeds - Heb. 10:24
Anointed for service / APPOINTED – Luke 4:19 “the acceptable year of the Lord”, Great Commission in Matt. 28:18-20, “power to witness” Acts 1:8

A few thoughts on “waiting”
· Not standing there watching airplanes in the outfield, wandering, twiddling thumbs
· It’s READINESS – like the waiter in a 5-star restaurant, poised, waiting for your next move.

from Switchfoot song "Dare you to move:"
"The tension is here, between how it is and how it should be, between who you are and who you could be."

From Rick Warren’s best seller Purpose Driven Life:
“Work becomes worship when you dedicate it to God and perform it with an awareness of his presence.”
(p. 67)

19th century Dutch leader Abraham Kuyper:
“There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, ‘This is mine! This belongs to me!’”
(Guinness, p. 165)

Os Guinness, from The Call:
God is on the move. Faith therefore means restlessness. The Caller may be unseen and the destination unknown, but those who follow his call have a voice above and a vision ahead that subverts every status quo and unsettles every resting place.

Guinness says that for a Christian, the call of God is…
an act of imaginative seeing that combines:
· the insight of faith, which goes to the heart of things below the surface, and
· the foresight of faith, which soars beyond the present with the power of a possible future.

Thomas Edward Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) speaks to you, called out ones…
Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanit; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible.
T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

From Paul’s letter to the believers in Philippi (3:10-14, The Message)
“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”

Dust. Rob Bell. Mars Hill Church: Nooma video series, Grand Rapids. http://www.nooma.com/

Foxe, John. Foxe’s Christian Book of Martyrs. Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour and Company, 1985.

Guinness, Os. The Call. Nashville: Word Publishing, 1998.

The Family Man. Dir. Brett Ratner. Beacon Communications, 2000.

Mandel, Michael, et. al. The real reasons you’re working so hard… and what you can do about it/BusinessWeek.com. Sept. 26, 2005. <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9491933/>

Peterson, Eugene. The Message. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2002.

Sandweiss, Lee Ann. The 40-hour work week—dead or alive?/IU Home Pages. Sept. 2004, Indiana Univ. <http://www.homepages.indiana.edu/040904/text/workweek.shtml>

That The World May Know, Ray Vanderlaan. Focus on the Family video series. http://www.family.org/

University of Southern Mississippi, The Gift, <http://www.usm.edu/pr/oolamain.htm>

Warren, Rick. The Purpose Driven Life. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002.

Zeitz, Joshua, American Heritage History Blog. 2006. Univ. of Cambridge, England. <http://www.americanheritage.com/blog/20069_25_469.shtml>

Ode to the Working Man

(performed at Dangerous Man Day 2008, Centennial, Colorado)

Flex time, comp time, overtime, short time
pension’s running dry and my pen’s running out of ink,
wild swings on Wall St., … I wonder would happen if you actually saw a real live bull and real live bear in a cage match on TNT?

early retirement, forced retirement, and golden parachutes,
telecommuting, laptops, smart phones, crack-berries, …
Euros against the pound against the yen against the dollar,
petro-dollars, narco-dollars, just not enough dollars at the end of the month…

Nikkei, Hong Kong Hang Seng, E-trade, Scott trade,
Schwab’s trading up for the next largest plasma screen…
2nd mortgage HELOC, foreclosure’s changing the door lock

Job security? I no longer believe.

Enter the global economy, and suddenly
we’re competing with people all over the world who just want to work.
Isn’t competition wonderful? Or is it just a fact of life?

and what do you know, Toy-yota is building pick up trucks at a factory in San Antonio, Texas!

“The social contract is shifting,”
says the Society for Human Resource Management.
No kidding!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Iran dances with war

Unbelievable! But not so shocking given Iran and their leader's messiah (pariah?) complex. What would provoke Iran's Republican Guard to taunt the U.S. Navy in the Straits of Hormuz yesterday?

How close did those Iranian speed boats come to being obliterated? (seconds) Put yourself in the moment... speedboats come up close, dumping large boxes overboard in the path of the big US warships. Then the boats speed away.

Thanks to mil-blogger The Daily Blogster for his quick overview.

Just think about it. What happens if Iran actually chooses to sacrifice a few boats just to get the US to use its force? What does Iran gain by instigating a blockade of the busy oil transport lanes? Is Iran willing to walk away from exports of nearly 3 million barrels of oil a day? What does a naval war between Iran and the U.S. look like?

The Fifth Fleet commanders on the bridge that day should be saluted for remaining so, so cool under imminent threat. Remind me never to play poker with those guys.