Monthly Archives: September 2007

The Little River Band

LittleRiverBand.jpgLast night the Anchor worship team skipped practice and, instead, went to the Auburn Fall Free Fair. The draw: a free concert by the Little River Band. I remember the 1970s and 1980s, when they had a bunch of hits. “Night Owls” was my favorite, but “Cool Change” was great, too. They were the first Australian group to make it big in the States. However, I think only two of the guys in the band last night were part of that version of the Little River Band.

They were very good, and it was fun hearing all those old hits. Kinda like listening to hymns, I guess, for some people. With nearly every song, I thought, “Oh yeah, I forgot they did that one, too.” And they left off perhaps their biggest hit, “I’m All Out of Love.” As a nice little touch, they did two encore songs, and one was a rockin’ version of “Drift Away,” the only non-LRB song of the night.

I know–the Little River Band was not exactly Guns & Roses. Maybe 60% rock and 40% pop. But hey, they were big in their day. And now they’re relegated to the county fair circuit.

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Tonight’s Democratic Debate

I watched tonight’s Democratic presidential debate, moderated by Tim Russert. Very interesting debate. I could vote for several of them–Biden, Dodd, Richardson, and yes, even Hillary. I like Obama and Edwards, but don’t think they would be effective presidents. However, I would vote for either of them before Guiliani, who scares me.

It’s still terribly early, and lots of things can happen, but I’ll most likely vote for a Democrat for president. The Republican Party has left me, and that disappoints me. It has abandoned fiscal responsibility, world diplomacy, and even many moral issues, and no longer exemplifies what I want in government. They’ve taken paths I can’t follow.

On so many issues, I’m more in line with the Democrats: capital punishment, gun control, fuel alternatives, tax reform, balancing the budget, global warming, using torture, poverty, the Geneva Conventions, government spying on Americans, civil rights, the role of diplomacy, and the Iraq war.

Yeah, there are plenty of left-wing nuts in the Democratic Party. But I find them less dangerous than the trigger-happy right-wing nuts who infest the Republican Party (and this White House). So unless the Republican Party undergoes some kind of revival, I can’t see myself aligning with them.

But Election Day is still a long way off.

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Mistakes, Context, Proportion, Blah Blah

When public people screw up and they go into damage-control mode, they tend to utter words like these:

  • “I made a mistake.”
  • “My words were taken out of context.”
  • “This was blown out of proportion.”

Bill Clinton’s escapade with Monica was a “mistake.” Other “mistakes” were made by Senator Craig, Paris, Lindsey, and Michael Vick, to name but a few. Politicians never do anything wrong or sinful; it’s always a matter of “mistakes.” Hey, we all make mistakes, right?

Bill O’Reilly expressed surprise that blacks could run a restaurant as well as whites. But he claims his words were taken out of context. The context is that he apparently has an inherently racist worldview.

Politicians continually state that their words were taken out of context. We’ll hear that a lot between now and Election Day 2008. I’m sure Hitler, if alive today, would claim that anti-Jewich statements from his speeches were taken out of context. And once taken out of context, things are invariably “blown out of proportion.”

People of character simply admit that what they said or did was wrong, and take responsibility. Mel Gibson did that. Don Imus did. Jimmy Swaggart famously cried, “I have sinned.” I’m no Swaggart fan, but hey, good for him. There are plenty of other examples of non-excuse-makers.

I listened to ESPN radio while returning from the table tennis club last night. They were talking about Michael Vick. One commentator said, “Michael Vick didn’t make a mistake. He made a choice.” Amen.

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How to Trash My Male Ego

If I think I possess the slightest hint of manliness, the notion can be shredded by going for a blood test. Like I did this morning. The nurse wraps a tournequet around my upper arm, asks me to clench my fist (“Uh, not so tight”), and then begins tapping my forearm, searching for a vein. Tap tap tap tap. Can’t find one. Let’s try the other arm. Tap tap tap tap. Hmmm. Oh, there’s one.

Meanwhile, I avert my gaze, unable to watch, feeling just a bit light-headed. Already.

“I’ll use a baby needle,” she tells me with a smile. Because I’ve been telling her what a wimp I am, and that my otherwise understanding wife laughs at my wimpdom when confronted with blood tests.

I feel the poke. I try to keep my mind on something else; don’t remember what. Then another poke. “Okay, you’re done,” she says.

“That was easy,” I say with bravado.

And then a cloud descends. I feel faint. The nurse must have drained at least a couple quarts from my arm. She tells me to cough deeply to increase blood pressure, and to put my head back. I comply. Another nurse brings me a glass of water. “You’re not the first to feel this way,” they tell me. Yeah, right. They keep talking to me. Don’t be in a hurry. Would it help to lay down? We have a bed in another room? Looks like your color is coming back. Don’t leave until you’re ready. We don’t want you fainting in the car. These are women who have had babies, trying to keep a grown many from keeling over because he got poked with a needle.

About 15 minutes later, I feel good enough to stand, which I do bravely. And once standing, I feel good enough to leave. I thank the kind ladies, then head out to my car. They told me I should go get something to eat, something sugary. So I went to Bob Evans and ordered pancakes.

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The Endless Tube

It seems that no matter how flat the toothpaste tube, you can always squeeze out enough for another scrubbing.

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Clarence Kopp: I’m Delighted to Have Known You

Clarence Kopp’s funeral was yesterday. He served as a bishop in our denomination 1981-1993, and I worked with him that entire time. Let me make these observations about him from my own experience:

  • He would not criticize or speak ill of people. Even people who dearly deserved it. He not only believed the best in people, but I don’t think he saw anything but the best. This was a huge, huge demonstration of character.
  • He always gave me a totally free hand in editing his material. Some folks have too much ego for that; they take it personally. Bishop Kopp never did. He trusted me to do my thing.
  • He brought enthusiasm and positive energy to everything. Always positive, always encouraging.
  • He was under-appreciated, to an extent. But not by me.
  • Bishop Kopp was truly pure of heart. Him and Russ Birdsall. Such people are rare. No guile, no hidden agenda, no two-facedness, no mixed motives. Folks like that are beloved by people and by God.

kopp_clarence.jpgDad, who served under Clarence Kopp (as bishop of the West District), says Bishop Kopp always brought him something worthwhile–an idea, an insight, something he had read or come across. I’ve heard Dad say that for many years. He said it again last week.

For a few years, while pastoring the church I now attend in Fort Wayne, Ind., Dad had then-former Bishop Kopp as a parishioner. Initially, he wasn’t too crazy about having a bishop sitting in his pews. But no problem. I’ve heard Dad say on various occasions, “Clarence Kopp is the best layperson I ever had.”

I saw that for about three years, when I was Bishop Kopp’s fellow parishioner at Anchor. He drove 40 minutes to get to church each Sunday. He was a mighty presence, yet never one to put himself forward. Always encouraging to others. Pastor Tim said that each Sunday, upon leaving, Bishop Kopp would give Tim a Bible verse. When declining health forced him to give up Anchor in favor of a different church closer to home, it was a sad day for our church. We lost a giant of the faith.

This past week, the United Brethren denomination lost a giant of the faith. I wish more people had gotten to know him up close, the way I was privileged to. He was a man of great humility, of great wisdom, of great love. A man with a pure heart.

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Make a Joyful Grammatical Noise

Is anyone else bothered by the last line of Amazing Grace, “We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise/than when we first begun”? It should be either “than when we first began,” or “than when we had first begun,” which sounds silly. Are we a bunch of musical lemmings, automatically singing bad grammar just because the song’s been hymnalized and is therefore considered holy writ?

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Unabashedly Sheltered

I like listening to Mike & Mike, the ESPN show on weekday mornings. They often give their picks for upcoming football games, and do it in terms of “the odds.” They talk about “the spread” and say things like, “I’ll take Green Bay and give you the points.” Or they’ll take the points.

Here is my admission. I don’t know what “the points” refers to, nor do I understand the concept of “the spread.” I guess I’m just not a gamblin’ man. I’ve never bought a lottery ticket, don’t know how to play poker, and though I’ve “played the slots,” it was a one-time thing in 1988, the only time, as an adult, I’ve been to Vegas.

What’s more, I don’t know if I WANT to know what the points and the spread are all about. All I care about is who Mike thinks will win, and who Mike thinks will win. Beyond that, they can takes the points against the spread all they want.

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My Onslaught of Idiocy

Stopped at Starbucks this morning. Not many parking places in front of the Village of Coventry store, and some numbskull had parked really really crooked, taking up two spaces. I squeezed my truck into the adjacent space and went inside, looking for the culprit. About four customers were there. My eyes settled on a 30ish fellow wearing a t-shirt and a New York Yankees cap. Yes, it was him. “Jerk,” I muttered under my breath.

I got my decaf and returned to my truck. The car was still there, and Yankee Man was still inside. Being in a particularly juvenile frame of mind, I determined to leave something under his windshield wiper. I found a blank piece of paper in the truck and wrote on it, in big letters, “Is this the best you can do?” Now, the trick would be sticking it under a wiper blade without Bride of Steinbrenner catching me and, in a Billy Martinesque fashion, whooping my butt. This was, indeed, a concern.

I mustered my pseudo-courage and exited the truck, standing on the passenger side of this felonious car which, I noted, was a Mercedes. Jerkboy drove a Mercedes. But just as I prepared to dart to the windshield vicinity, a 50ish woman with poofy blonde hair, the type of woman who occupies an expansive suburban home and spends vast quantities of time at the beauty parlor being pampered, exited Starbucks and headed my way. Headed to the Benz, in fact.

I slunk back into my truck, paper still in hand, mission unaccomplished. I started up the truck and pulled away. But as I drove past this woman, now at her car door, I gave her a Look. You know, a Highly Disapproving Look. I don’t think she noticed. But if she did, I’m sure it tormented her upwards of three seconds.

Consolation prize: on the way to work, I passed a silver Corvette broke down beside the highway, the hood up, the driver peering at the engine in puzzlement. I felt happy.

Sometimes, the awe-inspiring transcendence of my maturity overwhelms me.

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Connor’s First Birthday


Connor turned one year old today, September 19. Since December 1, he has lived with his parents in our humble home. He’s the first baby that I, a 50-year-old, have ever held. It’s been a delight watching him grow. He’s one happy kid.

Pam had several presents for him, and so did Allen and Carolyn. Connor’s attitude was pretty much, “What the heck am I supposed to do with this?” Allen and Carolyn would tear a piece of the wrapping, and Connor would grab it and pull. Or, he would just shake the present until it fell out of the wrapping.

His favorite was a toy remote control. He’s always trying to grab out remotes (TV, VCR, DVD), and will sprint-crawl if he sees one laying untended. Now he has his own remote, which makes various sounds (our real remotes make no noise, which I guess makes them inferior).

Connor also gets to ride with his car-seat pointed forward now, not backward toward the trunk. He gets to watch Daddy drive.

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