Monthly Archives: May 2008

The Second Narnia Movie

Saw “Prince Caspian” today, the second Narnia movie. This one was a lot more serious, gritty, violent. Not so much a children’s movie, though there was nothing graphic. I really liked it. The religious themes were much more subtle, even obscure. Certainly nothing like the blatant spiritual subtext in “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.” Even now, based on this movie, I’m not sure what spiritual points C. S. Lewis was making, so I’m wondering how true the book is to the movie or how hard they tried to incorporate his religious themes. But hey–it was a good movie. And when Aslan finally appeared, I about had tears in my eyes.

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Harley and the Open Road

Harley-Davidson has this incredible ad on the back of the May 12 Sports Illustrated. Masterful writing which captures a lot of things about the Harley experience–freedom, country, cynicism, love of the open road, self-empowerment, and a touch of outlaw. Here it is:

We Don’t Do Fear
Over the last 105 years in the saddle, we’ve seen wars, conflicts, depression, recession, resistance, and revolutions. We’ve watched a thousand hand-wringing pundits disappear in our rear-view mirror. But every time, this country has come out stronger than before. Because chrome and asphalt put distance between you and whatever the world can throw at you. Freedom and wind outlast hard times. And the rumble of an engine drowns out all the spin on the evening news. If 105 years have proved one thing, it’s that fear sucks and it doesn’t last long. So screw it. Let’s ride.

I don’t identify with that spirit, but I want to. Makes me want to go buy a Harley. Or I’m just a guy in a mid-life crisis.

They have a website tied to this ad. Go there, and the ad is read in a Flash graphic, with a big open road behind it. Cool.

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When Things No Longer Click

Here’s some simple management philosophy from Mark Cuban. When asked why he fired Avery Johnson as coach of the Dallas Mavericks, Cuban said:

“There’s just times when things work until they don’t.”

I love that. Things change. Honeymoons end. Life marches on.

  • We had many great years pastoring our first church, but it ended badly. Dad always said he stayed one year too long.
  • Parachurch ministries come and go, and that’s okay. They serve an needed purpose in the body of Christ. But many need to accept when it’s time to close shop, rather than go into self-perpetuation mode.
  • Local church programs lose effectiveness. Can them.

Just because something no longer works, it doesn’t invalidate the thing while it lasted. Just means the world has moved on, and so should you.

Unless we’re talking about marriage. Or the church. There are absolutes to follow.

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Why Now, Mr. McClellen?

I’m very interested in Scott McClellen’s tell-all book. There will no doubt be many such books telling about the inner workings of the Bush administration, tales that make you cringe and ask, “How did this guy become so powerful?”

But at the same time, out of grudging fairness…Karen Tumulty of Time dug up this quote from Scott McClellen, talking about Richard Clarke’s tell-all book in 2004. The exchange occurred at a White House press briefing.

Question: Why do you think he’s doing this?

McClellen: Well, why, all of a sudden, if he had all these grave concerns, did he not raise these sooner? This is one-and-a-half years after he left the administration. And now, all of a sudden, he’s raising these grave concerns that he claims he had. And I think you have to look at some of the facts. One, he is bringing this up in the heat of a presidential campaign. He has written a book and he certainly wants to go out there and promote that book.

Touche to yourself, Mr. McClellen.

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Wearing the T-Shirt

tshirt.jpegI’m only to page 28, but already I can say, “Wow! I love this book!”

The book is I Became a Christian and All I got was this Lousy T-shirt, by Vince Antonucci, a church planter in Virginia. He’s a very funny writer. Reminds me of me, when I was a funny writer (now I’m old and cranky).

The premise is that Christians don’t live the adventurous, abundant life Jesus died for. We never take the vacation. The First Century Christians took the vacation, the adventure. We just wear a T-shirt about an adventure we never experience. Is Jesus like a used car salesman, who exaggerates what he’s selling?

“The benefits he claims to give to those who say yes to him include abundant life, pure joy in the face of trials, peace that surpasses understanding, power to heal the sick with our prayers, assurance that we will never be tempted in a way we can’t handle, fearlessness, and the promise that we will do greater things than Jesus did. How many Christians would say these things are a good description of their lives?”

This is really good stuff. And it’s fun to read, to boot.

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Watching that Table Tennis Rating

My first table tennis tournament was the St. Joseph Valley Open in March 2007. I left that tournament with an initial rating of 995 with the US Table Tennis Association. I’ve fancied myself a 1350-1400 player, so I’ve been trying to push my rating up.

I actually dropped 11 points in my second tournament, the Indiana Open last September. That was a bummer. But in last November’s Highland Open, I jumped 97 points, to 1081. Then in March of this year, I gained another 26 points in Indianapolis.

So I entered this year’s St. Joseph Valley tournament–by far the biggest tournament I play in–with a rating of 1107. Based on my play, I knew my rating would jump. I just didn’t know how much.

The USTTA finally had the new ratings posted yesterday. I jumped 191 points! I couldn’t believe it! 191!

So now I’m at 1298. My brother Rick gained 38 points, and now stands at 1310. So I’m creeping up on him.

Rick’s rating stood at 873 after last year’s St. Joseph Valley tournament, over 100 points below me. But he gained a whopping 248 points at the Indiana Open in September (while I dropped 11), and another 151 at Highland. Those were incredible jumps. His 38 points in this past tournament is still very commendable, but pales against those earlier leaps. Now it’s my turn.

Next up: the Indiana Open in September.

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Garage Sale Observations

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I spent a good deal of Friday and Saturday at Mom and Dad’s garage sale. Here are some random observations:

  • It’s amazing how you can price something dirt cheap, and someone still wants it for half of that amount. Like that extra 50 cents will break them.
  • I got a lot of sunburn. Snuck up on me.
  • One lady came back, saying she had given us a ten dollar bill, but only got change for a five. How to prove differently? Pam, a CPA, took her money. Pam don’t make money mistakes. But Dad gave the lady a five. Benefit of the doubt. Then she probably went down the street to another garage sale and did the same thing. So says the cynic in me.
  • Lots of Hispanics came.
  • Women are good at folding clothes. Have some extra gene that guys lack.
  • We had two big boxes of Christmas lights, one dollar each. One guy wanted to know if we’d take a dollar for both boxes together. Dad said no. “Then I’m not interested,” the guy said. I guess he’d prefer spending $30 at a store.
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Garage Sale? Or Bake Sale?

cookies_500.jpg
Mom and Dad had a big garage sale on Friday and Saturday. Pam took over a bunch of stuff from her Dad’s estate, and my niece Paula had gobs of stuff there. Plus Mom and Dad’s stuff.

But the star of the sale was Mom’s cookies. She made 55 dozen cookies. That’s 660 cookies. Sugar, peanut butter, and monster (basically, sugar and M&Ms). Many people who came Friday came back on Saturday to get more cookies. Two ladies even came twice on Saturday. Neighbors in the addition would get some cookies, then send someone else to get more.

So while Dad, Pam, and I were outside selling stuff, Mom was in the kitchen baking cookies. On Saturday morning, she got up at 2:30 to make cookies. Oh yes–she also has several pounds of homemade noodles, but they sold out quickly on Friday.

Mom’s been doing the garage sale thing for probably four years now, always making cookies. So she has a reputation. If there’s a garage sale, it means Gloria Dennie has cookies. If you bake them, they will come.

Pam and I, by the way, have a dozen peanut butter and a dozen monster cookies here. So much for dieting.

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NBA Thoughts

It’s just after 11 pm, and I’m watching the final minutes of the Boston-Detroit game. Rooting for the Celtics.

  • I’m bummed that my beloved Suns bowed out so quickly. I’ve decided the current team doesn’t have what it takes. Time to rebuild.
  • I despise Robert Horry. He always makes clutch shots and important plays against my teams (I as a big Sacramento fan when he hit that last-second shot). Curses on him, I say, curses.
  • Hope to see the Celtics and Lakers in the finals. If that happens, I’ll probably cheer for Boston, though I’m a long-time Lakers fan. Fickle.
  • If it’s San Antonio and Detroit in the finals…I’m sure there’s something else I can be doing with my time. B-o-r-i-n-g.
  • Kobe really is amazing. He was tame last night, passing up lots of shots. You know that, in this series with San Antonio, he will erupt once or twice with 40-50 points. When he wants to be unstoppable, he is.
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The Point of Need

“The closer you are to the point of need, the more you can charge,” writes Seth Godin.

  • Airport food is outrageously expensive, but people buy it, because they’re stuck.
  • If you need a computer part tomorrow, you pay FedEx to make it happen.
  • If the pipes burst in your house, you sell your firstborn to pay the plumber.

How does this apply in the church world? We’re not “charging” anything, but we do want people to accept something–the life Christ offers. Just as people will part with their money when confronted by an urgent need that money can solve, people will respond to God’s truth when they are at point of need.

How do we get close to that point of need?

On Sunday morning at Anchor, and at churches across America, the people listening in the pews certainly have needs. But most are not at a point of urgency. Their lives are at least okay. No need to make any big changes.

But down the road from Anchor is a bar. On Sunday morning, there’s probably a guy slouched in a darkened booth nursing a beer, staring blankly, unhappy, not wanting to leave and have to face whatever awaits him–wife and kids, work, bills, an ailing car. He lives with cloud constantly around him, and would love for something to change in his life.

How do we get close to that guy?

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