Monthly Archives: June 2008

Fuel Costs Reduce Sin

According to a CNN report, high gas prices are hurting Nevada’s brothel business. According to Geoffrey Arnold, president of the Nevada Brothel Owners’ Association–and isn’t Momma Arnold proud of her son’s accomplishments–truckers account for 75% of of the business at Nevada’s rural brothels. Some brothels are giving out gas cards to patrons, and have reduced prices.

But only 16 of the state’s 28 legal brothels are located in rural areas. The others, located in cities, cater to tourists and conventions, and their business has increased this year.

So mixed signals at the intersection of the economy and religion.

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Bill Gates Tries to Download a MS Product

Here’s an email Bill Gates wrote, expressing his frustration with the lack of usability in their website as he attempted to download a program. It’s an actual email he wrote. If Gates, a genius, is frustrated with MS products…I’m sure glad for my 20 years using a Mac. And this year, it is, indeed, 20 years since I got that original Mac II, with 2 gigs of RAM and a 40 megabyte hard drive.

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A View I Feel Dirty Defending

I know this subject is saturated with emotion, but I agree with the Supreme Court’s decision to not allow the execution of child rapists. Yes, it’s a horrible, horrible crime, and it seems somehow uncompassionate to not want child rapists to fry. But if we’re going to have the death penalty, then I’m a life-for-a-life guy.

Tough issue, though. I could be persuaded otherwise, if I believed in the death penalty (which I don’t, for biblical reasons).

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Glenn Flint Patriotic Concert

Glennsposter.jpgGlenn Flint, a good friend and my former worship pastor, is doing a patriotic concert this Friday night in Angola at the Buck Lake Ranch, which I understand is a pretty famous place. Pam and I are taking my parents, who love patriotic music and love Glenn. When they were pastoring in Lakeville, Ind., Glenn and Jean came up twice to do concerts.

In 1999 and 2000, Glenn was worship pastor at Anchor. We always had a lot of fun at practice on Thursday nights. Before that, I sometimes played keyboard at Emmanuel Community Church when Glenn was the music minister there (1990-1999, or something like that). He’s also a gifted children’s worker, able to just let loose and be crazy around kids. Now he’s the Minister of Music at Fellowship Missionary Church in Angola.

Glenn has a powerful, powerful voice, with a range as wide as whatever cliche you can think of, like the Grand Canyon. I’m really looking forward to hearing Glenn. If you’re interested: 7 pm Friday, June 27, at Buck Lake Ranch in Angola, Ind.

Glenn says of the concert: “I’m looking forward to a flag waving evening emphasizing God, Country, Patriotism and encouragement of our troops.”

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Tiger Woods and Church Attendance

The PGA, golf tournaments, and sports networks are lamenting the absence of Tiger Woods for the rest of 2008. Everyone predicts that the number of people watching golf will plummet.

It’s like when your pastor takes the week off, and you schedule a guest speaker. The less-than-faithful stay home.

I read last week about a megachurch pastor who, on his blog, reamed his parishioners for not attending when he took the week off and a guest speaker (a really high-calibre minister, no less) filled the pulpit. The pastor, Brian Jones, noting the “pitiful” attendance, wrote:

Many leaders at [our church] wonder if people chose not to come because you knew I was not speaking.

Please understand that if that turns out to be the case, honest to God you won’t hear me speak until 2009. I will hire first-year Bible college interns who can barely chew gum and talk at the same time to rotate the speaking responsibilities for the next 6.5 months.

I will not have any part in helping build a church around a person, personality, or particular style of preaching.

The issue here is discipleship. Are we trying to put on a “religious show” where people will attend based on the person presenting God’s Word, or are we fashioning a gates-of-hell-storming-community of disciples?

Wow, there’s a gutsy pastor. And now, to draw a parallel to the truly significant world of sports–what does this say about golf “fans” who only watch if Tiger is playing?

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Our Habitat for Humanity Home

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The Somali family, plus others from Somalia. Farfun, the father, is in the middle in back, and his wife is to the left of him in the pink and black attire. Click photo for a larger view.

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Click photo for larger view

Yesterday morning, Pam and I attended the dedication of a Habitat for Humanity house that Anchor helped build. We joined three Presbyterian churches in the project.

The recipients were a Somali family: a husband, wife, and about 7 kids. They’ve been in the States for about four years. Before that, they spent 13 years in refugee camps, and some time before that in the bush. I’m sure they have stories to tell. The father, who looks very young, works for a tool and die company in Fort Wayne. Two of his coworkers attended the dedication, and they testified to how hard Farfun works.

sign_300.jpgThe family applied themselves to learning English, and I must say, the husband and wife speak English remarkably well. They worked hard on the home, as Habitat recipients must, as well as in a second-hand clothing store.

The dedication ceremony lasted about an hour. It was informal. We just gathered in the living room, with the family. There were introductions, recognitions. Several gifts were given–a nice coffeemaker from Starbucks (which supplied free coffee to workers), some gift cards, a Bible. A set of keys were given to Farfun. Anchor’s pastor, Tim Hallman, concluded with a prayer of blessing on the house. I’m not sure what Farfun’s family thought of it all, with the heavy Christian emphasis, since they are Muslim. But they got some glimpses of the best of Christianity.

It was neat hearing from two other African immigrants, both from Ethiopia. They expressed their gratitude to everyone for coming alongside to help these their “brothers and sisters.”

I learned that one day during the construction, Sarah, a young single gal from Anchor, very new to the church, brought two big plastic bags filled with donuts, juice, and fruit to the workers. Sarah doesn’t have a car, so she took the bus to the home site, located probably 20 minutes from where she lives. And not just one bus, but no doubt several–taking one to a certain place, getting off, waiting for another bus, until finally reaching the stop nearest the house. She walked a good distance from the bus stop, carrying those big bags, to the house. And then she repeated the whole process to get back home. That, too, is the best of Christianity.

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Maxwell Smart and Indiana Jones

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Saw two movies this weekend.

“Get Smart” was delightful. Pam and I laughed a lot, and they didn’t go for a lot of cheap sexual humor, a la Ben Stiller. The bathroom scene in the airplane had us LOLing. But the funniest line in the movie–to me–came from Alan Arkin, and involved some obscenity and a swordfish. I’ve started laughing several times just thinking about it. And when The Rock stapled a paper to a guy’s head–that was a major-league hoot. Steve Carell made a good Max. Ann Hathaway wasn’t very Barbara Feldonish, but I really liked her as Agent 99.

indyjones_200.jpgThat was yesterday. Today we saw “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” It was an enjoyable rollercoaster ride. Shia LaBeouf was very good as the sidekick, and it was nice having Karen Allen back (especially after having been replaced by Kate Capeshaw). Harrison Ford’s looking old, but still has plenty of action in him, and I thought he did fine.

My brother Rick wrote a negative review on his blog, saying the plot was confusing at times. I usually agree with Rick, but in this case…well, yeah, I agree with him. I’m not sure what the heck was going on in that movie. But that’s pretty much the way it is with rollercoasters. You just hang on until the end. It’s a fine movie. But if you must choose, pick “Get Smart.”

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Unintended Consequences

According to CNN:

  • Americans drove 1.4 billion fewer highway miles in April 2008 than they did in April 2007.
  • Americans have driven nearly 20 billion fewer miles overall this year.
  • Less gas used, means less gas tax revenue going to the Highway Trust Fund, which means less money for road upkeep.
  • People are trading SUVs for small, gas-efficient cars. Which means even less gas tax revenue, and even worse roads.
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Living with Herb Tea

I’m feeling the caffeine urges this week. We started a four-day work week, with 10-hours days. It costs me $8 to drive to work, and several other persons live as far away as I do (or farther). So it’ll be nice saving on gas one day of the week.

Our day now starts at 7 a.m., and ends at 5:30 (instead of 8-4:30). It goes fairly fast, and I find myself getting a lot done. I have big chunks of time, which is good for the type of stuff I do (graphic and writing projects).

But at the beginning of the day, I really really want coffee. We have a very nice new coffeemaker, and they’ve taken to brewing flavored coffees, so this waft-prone extra-rich aroma tempts me. And as I plunge into reading stuff, which is how I typically start my days–emails and RSS feeds–it would sure be nice to hold a cup of Joe in my hands. Coffee and reading-in-the-morning belong together.

But caffeine constricts blood vessels, which exacerbates my Meniere’s Disease, causing vertigo. I could drink coffee all week and be okay, but it builds, and there would be, as Doc Holiday said in Tombstone, a Reckoning.

So instead, I’m sitting here with some mango herb tea. As a longtime hardcore coffee drinker, do you have any idea how hard it is to learn to like herb tea? But it’s something.

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Thoughts on Golf (Which I Hate)

BusinessWeek had an article about the decline of golfing. Still plenty of interest, but people are golfing less. Related businesses are hurting, particularly those offering consumables like golf balls and tees.

Three factors inhibit the spread of golf:

  1. time
  2. money
  3. skill

Golf is mostly a suburban, middle-class sport (I don’t know anybody at my church who plays golf). It takes discretionary money, and lots of time. But to do it well, you need skill. And golf, as the article says, is not “beginner friendly.” Neither is tennis, which I played. Golf and tennis are all about technique, and good technique requires years of experience.

In music, playing the piano is not beginner-friendly. It takes years of lessons to get good. Whereas you can start banging drums immediately, and it’s much easier to pick up on the guitar (pick up–get it? Ha ha ha).

So I was thinking of church-related things that aren’t beginner-friendly.

  • Pastoral ministry–years of schooling, then you get stuck in a podunk church content with being podunk.
  • Bible translation–wow, there’s something that takes an enormous commitment to pull off.
  • And that’s all I came up with, but my mind is a bit fried right now.
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