“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Thursday, July 28, 2005

True Accomplishment

You know, all of this talk about Lance and Tiger has made me re-examine what I consider to be the greatest athletic achievement in the decade we live in. And this, timed with the re-launch (albeit briefly) of the Space Shuttle program, has drawn me back to an event almost completely unnoticed in the USA.

In this day of doping allegations, and spoiled, ignorant, so-called athletes, 'fan brawls' and statements such as 'I am not a role model', which really translates as, 'let me be as ignorant and unthankful as I can be and live in a manner that is not only completely self-consumed, but is also illegal', I find that true athletic accomplishment is hard to come by.

True, I will give it to Lance, an amazing achievement, no doubt about it. Also, I will give Tiger his due, he has rebuilt his swing three times and still come back to dominate. But, in my opinion, these accomplishments pale in comparison to Maud Fontenoy.

Never heard of her? Join the mass of people who slavishly follow the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL athletes who cry about their multimillion dollar contracts, and go on strike depriving their customers of any service while they golf in FLA awaiting word on their renegotiated contract.

Maud Fontenoy SIMPLY crossed the Atlantic Ocean West to East SOLO. She ROWED across the northern Atlantic over a period of four months, from islands off the coast of Newfoundland to Spain. How many times did she get a special segment on ESPN? She had to BEG for sponsors, a thought alien to someone like LeBron James.

And that was not enough for her; she recently rowed across the South Pacific solo!

She is the only woman to ever cross the Atlantic West <> East, rowing solo. She joins SIX men who have successfully done it. Think about that the next time you are contemplating how great your favorite 'professional' sports figure is. SIX people in HISTORY!

The next time you are watching the hockey players explain why they HAD to go on strike to get a fair deal, think about Maud Fontenoy; drinking seawater the last weeks as her desalinators had broken down, rowing 8-10 hours/day, capsizing innumerable times, driven only by the desire to DO IT. You know that goofy ad on the TV, JUST DO IT? Well, she did...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Tragedy in London

Police chief 'sorry' over death
Jean Charles de Menezes

Met Police chief Sir Ian Blair has apologised to the family of the Brazilian man shot dead by police in south London on Friday.

He said the death of Jean Charles de Menezes was a "tragedy", but admitted more people could be shot as police hunt suspected suicide bombers.

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Does that statement scare anyone but me?

Understand that I don't have the answers, but man, that is a scary thought... "More people could be shot..." Oh boy! That should give everyone who might even appear to be of middle-eastern origin a minute of pause about traveling about!

The really sad part is that this is exactly what the terrorists want; they want people to live in fear and doubt. Terrorism is not about 'winning' traditional 'turf', I mean, why blow up school buses, and trains, and people if you are trying to win a war? These people are in the business of making people fear...

I have the utmost disrespect for these terrorists... There is nothing brave, or noble about someone intentionally setting off a bomb in the midst of innocent civilians, regardless of whose name you attach to it... These people are celebrated as heroes by their respective groups, but let me ask you: what is heroic about loading up with explosives, getting into a crowded bus and setting off the bomb...? Where is the heroic, where is the bravery? I guess the danger is in all of those unarmed commuters, right?

Some would say it is a strike against 'The West', but I would counter, 'then why attack a train station that is in a known Muslim area?' One of the train stations is one that is used extensively by Muslim commuters, I believe it was the Edgware station, but I can't remember. The same thing is seen in Iraq where these so-called 'marytrs' are killing Muslim and non-Muslim with equal impunity, oftentimes the children are the ones that are hurt, as they seem to prefer targeting them. Again, does this strike anyone as heroic, or even vaguely in the realm of brave...

How ANYONE could view this as even slightly justified is beyond me...

I know that I am saying nothing new here, but I just am sickened by the thought that someone, somewhere, thinks that these people are even close to heroic...


Friday, July 22, 2005

I Don't Get It

A list of things/people I don't understand (non-exhaustive):

1. Hummers
2. Britney Spears/Christina Aguilar/Jessia Simpson
3. Eminem
4. Reality TV
5. Non-reality TV
6. US Politics
7. XBox/Gameboy
8. Our insatiable fascination with Celebrity Trials
9. Fast Food
10. DVD players in the front seat area of automobiles!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Isolation

Maybe I am playing Chicken Little, but it seems to be that there is an increasing fragmentation and isolation taking place in our country. This is true from the community level all the way down to individual families. We are building walls at every level of society and family, and this is a great concern to me, and should, IMHO, be of import to us all. We are becoming less and less cohesive, and more and more polarized, and fragmented in our society.

We live in a society where many get their ‘reality’ delivered via television, either by attractive, shallow newscasts (or worse yet, one of those so-called news-entertainment shows, i.e. Entertainment Tonight), or one of the plethora, (and abysmal) ‘reality’ shows. In this way people who would never actually interact with other’s ‘below’ their station in life can actually feel like they are partaking in a safe, sanitized version of reality that they can always turn off, should it no longer ‘entertain’ them. All the while, the poor, the dispossessed and the outcast; those who do not have the luxury of turning reality off, are living lives more and more removed from the mainstream. They become important every election year, and are feted or vilified, depending upon the position of a desired constituency. Then, as soon as they have ‘served their purpose’, they are promptly put back on the shelf until needed again to salve our collective conscience, or stir our ‘righteous anger’. This leads to fragmentation and isolation along socio-economic and ethnic grounds.

In the home we find a scenario such as this:

I surf the net, in my safe, gated community, while Junior sits downstairs glued to his Gameboy, ‘thumbing’ himself into oblivion, and little Susie is locked into American Idol, all the while my spouse is on the cell phone talking to a colleague at work. The grandparents have been safely carted off to ‘homes’ that ‘keep’ them until they fade off into the sunset (reduces the trauma on Junior and Susie, God forbid that they are confronted with life in all of its unpleasantness!) This is what many call ‘family time’ today. Somehow we have come to the mistaken notion that because a group of strangers live in the same house, they are actually participating members of this entity called ‘family’. Here we see isolation and fragmentation along generational and familial lines. Like the poor, we find that family becomes important every four years when a politician’s stand on ‘family values’ can elect or remove them.

Our children are learning less and less about being part of a functioning society and/or family, and more and more about being self-absorbed, and fearful. We see even in their day-to-day lives. A simple example; in our town no child takes the school bus, although we pay for them. Heaven’s no! EVERY parent drives little Jimmie to school, causing traffic backups as each car with ONE adult and ONE child (maybe two) waits in line to drop off the kids right at the door of the school. Thank heavens for that, in this way they do not have to interact with any other children at all. (And these are the same parents who are incensed by the price of gasoline.) And when little Jimmie gets old enough, he will drive himself to school, eschewing the bus. It is ludicrous that we spend more money on parking lots and amenities than we do on actual education, all in the name of personal freedom, and the ability to ensure our children complete and perfect air-conditioned isolation to and from school!

And the absolute tragedy is that now it has made its way into the church, the one place where clearly it says in the Bible that there should be no divisions! We drive up to our uniformed parking attendants, handing our keys to them, and rush inside the vast auditorium to check out the latest video from our worship team. We then go to our full-service restaurant (located next to the sanctuary) and watch the service in the comfort of our own booth, never needing to rub elbows with anyone else!

All the while, the community around our vast mega-campus is virtually untouched by the church, unless you count the traffic jams caused by the mass exodus when the services let out. Even here, in the very place where brothers are to be in unity, we find that the church has divided the people in the same manner as the world has; the young, the parents, the aged, the single, the widowed, the green, the blue, you name it. Again, we find that the church has accommodated this isolationism and this fragmentation.

So, rather than simply have observations how about a few suggestions?

OK, that’s fair: How about this –

  1. GET OUT OF YOUR GATED COMMUNITY, walk amongst the people.
  2. Work in a homeless shelter in your spare time.
  3. Work at a food kitchen. See the faces of your fellow man, up close and without a remote to shut it off when it gets painful.
  4. Let your kids take the bus, you know, actually interacting with other kids.
  5. SHUT OFF THE TV, spend some time actually visiting, or maybe teaching your children to read. Maybe put the Gameboys and X-Boxes down for a night a week, could you not do that?
  6. Go to a Senior Center and visit; spend some of your time making someone else feel like they matter.

These are but a few of the things that you can do, how about it America? We can stop the isolation, and actually become a country again, but you might have to actually be inconvenienced. I believe that you and I will survive, maybe we will be uncomfortable for a bit, but then again, aren’t we supposed to be a little uncomfortable?

The other option is to become isolated, sterilized, unfeeling, antibacterial, and living in fear of ‘them’, whoever they may be; xenophobic, and actually prisoners inside our ‘safe’ communities.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Anniversary of Srebrenica

BBC

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Tens of thousands of people have attended ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the massacre of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica.

Grieving relatives buried more than 600 newly identified dead, after prayers and words of support from international and local officials.

About 8,000 men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995 in Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.....

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Full link - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4670379.stm

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We in the West can often forget that it is MANKIND as a whole that is fallen, not a specific group of men/women. While I am not diminishing the Madrid events, 9/11, or the recent London tragedy, I would like to point out the reality that man is not BASICALLY good; rather as the Bible clearly points out in Psalm 14: The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.


It is not that good men live in a bad society, since society itself is made up of these good men... It makes no logical sense, does it that a 'bad society' somehow gets it hands on 'good men' and they are turned... If society is not us, then who is it?

If Christians want to truly create a 'better' society, they should begin at home, adjusting their worldview to Christ's, and not to the latest demogogue who espouses a worldview that selectively picks the portions of the Bible that fit their 'plan'. It is through the gospel that men begin to walk in light, and are able to truly 'do good'. Let us be about the Master's business and not the trivial issues that consume our money, and minds. Make no mistake; we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Let us begin to project a Christian perspective to our neighbors and friends who walk in darkness, and not a partisan one, and we will begin to see the church be a force again in society. In the midst of the Messiah's Sermon on the Mount, we find these words: "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. I pray that the Christian community would be as consumed with sending its light forth as it is in sending its opinions forth!

Let us put on the armor spoken of in Ephesians 6, and choose the Lord's battle, NOT one of our choosing. We are choosing the wrong hills to die on; temporal and faddish issues dominate our pulpits and lives, when in fact we should be seeking that which is eternal, and fighting for that... The life of men and women hang in the balance!


A final note: The Parable of the Good Samaritan might make good reading, Luke 10:25ff


Here We Are

Well, I have begun a blog; let's see if I can be more consistent in this than I have been with my journal in the past. This blog will feature observations and opinions that I make as I walk through this life. Remember, these are my observations and opinions, therefore you may not agree with me; that is OK.

I will comment on things that those in polite society are supposed to avoid; i.e. American Idol, politics and religion. These, as you can imagine, are interrelated in many people's minds. Be forewarned, I am approaching the items that I discuss from a Christian Worldview, which should never be confused with a Democrat/Republican Worldview, or a psuedo-Christian Worldview, whereby one takes what they like out of secular society, plugs in the name of Jesus here and there and presents their case. There will be no referencing the bible of modern CGM (Church Growth Movement), aka the PDE (Purpose Driven EVERYTHING), for my observations, other than to show why I disdain these movements, and I won't reference Ralph Reed or Pat Robertson to make my points, again with the exception noted earlier. Don't you love acronyms?

I have found the Bible to be sufficient for me and my family, and hope to be able to present cogent thoughts on these pages that will not dishonor God, nor twist and rend the Scriptures to make a point.

As with any endeavor such as this, there will be disagreements; I hope that we will be able to have them without resorting to the ugly fracas that occurs on some sites. If you simply cannot tolerate my views, rather than making everyone miserable, you may simply choose to bypass this blog, I will be fine, really!