Monthly Archives: October 2004

The Joy of Netflix

Pam and I haven’t been to Blockbuster, or any other video store, in over two years. Not since we signed up with Netflix. We love it. We can have three DVDs out at once, and can keep them as long as we want without a late fee. No last-minute rush to return a video before it’s overdue.

We’ve also enjoyed being able to watch entire TV series. For instance, we didn’t watch the first season of “24.” But we loved the second season, and then went back and watched the first season–not over a period of 24 weeks, but during a 2-3 week period. It’s much easier to stay with the flow of the program that way.

We watched the entire “Band of Brothers” over a similarly short period of time. And then we discovered Stargate SG-1, a show we hadn’t watched at all. It had been going for six seasons, and five were already on DVD. We watched all five seasons. A couple weeks ago Season six came out, and we just bought the set. We’ve been taping Season 7, which is now in progress. So, in a period of one year, we’ll have gone through all seven seasons of Stargate SG-1. (Pam likes the show even more than I do.)

We still watch regular movies, too–quite a few of them. But the chance to watch entire TV series is the thing we’ve come to enjoy most. I have my eye on “Cold Case” and “CSI: Miami,” two shows we haven’t bothered to watch on regular TV, but which I’m sure we would enjoy. Someday we’ll get around to them.

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Nothing specific today.

  • The Red Sox actually won. I saw every one of their games, starting from when they were down 3 games to the Yankees. In other words, I didn’t see them lose once in the playoffs. So when I started watching, they started winning. And I, for the most part, couldn’t care less about baseball.
  • If Yasser Arafat on his deathbed? How, exactly, will the world mourn?
  • Pam and I love the TV show “Lost.” We’re captivated by it. We had to tape last night’s episode. I wonder what happened?
  • I’m addicted to The Daily Show, with Jon Stewart. He tends to skewer both Republicans and Democrats with some degree of balance. But all this week, he’s had on Democrats–Bob Kerrey and Jesse Jackson the last two nights, for instance. Come on, Jon!
  • Meanwhile, FoxNews has become so unabashedly partisan that I can hardly stand to watch it anymore. More and more, I’m watching MSNBC, which is something I thought I’d never do. I like Brokaw, too. CBS is now, officially, a joke.
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Thoughts on Bush

One week to go before the presidential election. I’m voting for Bush, but reluctantly. He’s had some good moments, particularly right after 9/11, but overall I don’t think he’s been a good president. But I’ll take him over Kerry. My preference would be to have a different Republican running for President.

Bush’s foreign policy, an America-First, America-Only type of thing, has turned much of the world against us. It just wasn’t necessary. We’ve got to remove arrogance from our foreign policy. As long as Bush is president, the rest of the world will hate us, and that’s not in our security or economic interests. ANY different president, whether Republican or Democrat, would help us in that regard. But I don’t want it to be Kerry.

I’m disturbed by the Bush administration’s clear advocacy for the rich, whether it’s tax cuts that especially benefit the wealthy (and nobody’s arguing that that’s not really the case) or loopholes and regulations that benefit big corporations. A good share of the problems rest in Congress, I realize (a Republican Congress), but Bush doesn’t seem to be even trying to stop it.

The tax cuts–I never really saw the point, and once we found ourselves in war, the continued cuts seemed ridiculous. Especially when we’re running up huge deficits. No President has ever cut taxes during a time of war. But Bush is. Makes no sense to me.

I was never comfortable with going into Iraq. It seemed like we were rushing it (and in hindsight, we obviously did). Why, I wondered back then, in the spring of 2003, couldn’t we wait six months or a year? Saddam was being contained; he was no immediate threat. But Bush was extremely anxious to get into Iraq. There is a big part of me which says, by rushing us into a war without really thinking things through, Bush broke the trust of the American people and deserves to be defeated. But another part of me is still going to vote for him. But I don’t view him as a Commander in Chief in whom I place confidence.

Now, I can’t voice these sentiments around most of my friends or coworkers. In so many people’s eyes, Bush can do no wrong.

There are other issues on which I break with the traditional Republican agenda.

  • I wish Republicans cared more for the environment. I’m far from being a tree-hugger, but I do think God made us stewards of his world, and we have some responsibility.
  • I think hard-core anti-crime Republicans have done great harm to the justice system with all of the “three strikes” laws and other mandatory sentencing guidelines. The result has been a lot of injustice, with people getting sent to prison for things they shouldn’t be sent to prison over.
  • I think Republicans are highly unreasonable when it comes to gun control. Some restrictions are good and reasonable.

Those are a few things. Like I said, I’m voting for Bush, but with great reluctance. Kerry really troubles me in many ways. His would be a totally secular presidency. And while I do think he would help us on the world stage, in most other areas–particularly domestic policy–I don’t like what I foresee.

Okay, that’s enough to get me in deep doo-doo with most of my Republican friends.

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Thoughts on Postmodernism

I noticed that has a feature story on the Emergent church movement, which is much of what UBHope advocates as the wave of the future. (UBHope is the organization (of sorts) that opposes the UB church joining the Missionary Church.) The article is titled: “The Emergent Mystique” and has this subtitle: “The ’emerging church’ movement has generated a lot of excitement but only a handful of congregations. Is it the wave of the future or a passing fancy?”

Ironically, UBHope has criticized the denominational leadership for what they describe as “chasing fads.” Specifically, they’ve distributed this nonsense throughout the church: “Over the past generation the UBs have chased one trend, fad, or program after another, hoping that someone else’s inventions could solve our problems for us. This year’s fad is the Missionary Church. Five, ten, or fifteen years from now will we chase another fad?”

I have nothing against the Emergent Church movement. I just don’t think we should reorganize how we do things as a denomination just to reach a particular generation (because the next generation will be different yet).

I remember in the 1980s, when everyone was writing about the baby boomers. But we didn’t propose a radical restructuring of the denomination to better reach boomers. Nor did we do that for the Baby Busters and Gen-X crowd. But UBHope thinks we should do that for the “postmodern” generation. To me, its a form of fad-chasing. And the Christianity Today article kinda agrees. It challenges some assumptions of the postmoderns, and makes these statements:

  • “If there is no massive change under way in the culture, why make a case for a massive change in the church?”
  • “So Emergent has no lock on the next generation. In this respect it may prove no different from the…Jesus Movement. It coexisted, often uneasily, with more cautious expressions of church, was animated by a combination of beautiful ideals and foolish ideas, and ultimately merged into an evangelical mainstream that had adapted to its presence.”

The article can be found here.

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Turning 48

Another birthday yesterday. Doesn’t seem to have affected me any. The big 5-0 is just two years around the bend. Thus far, none of the biggies (30, 40) have bothered me, but I kinda think 50 will. Maybe not.

Pam got me some Christian CDs, a sweatshirt, and box of DeBrands truffles (yum!). We went to a movie, then to Red Lobster. Pam’s not a fish fan, so we normally don’t go there. But hey–it’s my birthday.

The movie was “Friday Night Lights.” It was one of the best movies I’ve seen this year–a Texas version of Hoosiers, focusing on high school football. The cinematography was very different, with lots of fast editing cuts. Billy Bob Thornton was the only recognizable actor, though country singer Tim McGraw had a major role (a boozing father of one of the players). McGraw was very good.

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Yankees Vs. Red Sox

I don’t pay any attention to baseball until it gets to the playoffs. In fact, I’m just now paying attention. I’ve enjoyed this series between Boston and New York, and have spent several nights staying up late to see how the games end. The last two, the Sox have won in extra innings. Great games. It’d sure be nice to see the Yankees get beat. But we know they’re going to win in the end, don’t we?

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Huntington University?

My alma mater has seen fit to change its name from Huntington College to Huntington University. I fail to see the point. I guess it’s supposed to be a big marketing advantage. I haven’t talked to anyone who’s excited about the idea. But the Trustees went along with it, so it’ll happen with the start of the 2005 class. “HU” just doesn’t have the right feel as “HC.” The theme song will need to be changed, since it now ends, “Hail, all hail HC.” A little thing, obviously.

I’m increasingly concerned about the high cost of a Christian liberal arts education at Huntington, as well as at other Christian colleges. It seems to me that our Christian colleges are pricing themselves way beyond the reach of the lower classes. There seems to be a chasing after US News rankings and such, after prestige. It’s a form of elitism. And, I increasingly fear, of messed up priorities and sense of mission.

I was a poor preacher’s kid who emerged from HC in 1979 with no debt. I’ll bet that doesn’t happen much anymore. My brother Rick, who works at a state university, talks about the joy of helping truly struggling, poor people obtain an education. Isn’t that something our Christian colleges should be doing? But more and more, we’re leaving the poor behind. This greatly disturbs me. I’m sure that, if I asked, HC people would give me some wonderful anecdotes. But I know it’s not the norm.

At my church near downtown Fort Wayne, we have several kids going to Taylor-Fort Wayne. They couldn’t afford Huntington College or the Taylor Upland campus, but the Taylor-Fort Wayne campus is several thousand dollars cheaper. But even that college is too much for some of our kids, who have switched over to IPFW (Indiana University-Fort Wayne). I have also sensed at Huntington (and I’ve heard the same is true at Taylor-Upland) a somewhat condescending attitude toward Taylor-Fort Wayne, as if, “You get what you pay for.” It smells to me like arrogance.

I’ve become a huge fan of Taylor-Fort Wayne. A lot of those kids come to my church, and they are involved in ministry throughout the city. They may not come from well-off homes, but they’re great kids with a strong Christian commitment. And if the education they get doesn’t quite measure up to Upland or Huntington–so be it. I’m more interested in their character than in the accreditation and ranking of their school.

Am I on a rant, or what?

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25th HU College Reunion

Last weekend, I was reunited with about 20 of my Huntington College classmates, as the Class of ’79 got together for our 25th year reunion at Homecoming. Some of them I didn’t know all that well while in college, but others were some of my closest friends. Like Brad Carpenter and Steve Barber, who roomed next to me my freshman year. I hadn’t seen Brad in probably 15 years, since he moved to Texas. It was great seeing him again.

Then there’s Phil McGarvey, with whom I played four years of tennis. Hadn’t seen him since 1980. I could whoop him in tennis, but he had the upper hand in ping pong.

Then were were Ted and Linda Doolittle, Cheryl Lamport, Chris Brown, Dan and Annette Shepherdson, Dan Lance, Cheryl Poling, and others. Loved seeing them all.

I have absolutely no desire to go back for a high school reunion. There is nobody at Tulare Union High School (Tulare, Calif.) that I would care to see again. But my college friends–yes, they last forever.

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