Monthly Archives: August 2009

Attaboy and MercyMe

Just got back from a concert at Parkview Field, the new baseball stadium in downtown Fort Wayne, Ind. It was two groups: Attaboy, and MercyMe. Attaboy is a group sponsored by Huntington University which originated in Huntington, and went fulltime a couple years ago. They’re quite good. The lead singer, Amos Caley, is a UB preacher’s kid, son of Mike Caley, pastor of Banner of Christ church in the Grand Rapids, Mich., area. I used to work with Amos’s sister, Erinn, and now work with his aunt Jane.

I passed Mike coming out of the parking garage.

“I’ll bet I know why you’re here, and it’s not to see MercyMe.”

He smiled and said, “Yeah, but I’ll stick aorund to hear them, too.”

Attaboy did about 30 minutes of songs, and I was quite impressed with them, and would enjoy hearing them again. They probably don’t want to hear words like that coming from a 52-year-old, but there you go, I said it. Deal with it, Amos & Friends.

This was the first time I’ve heard MercyMe. They were great. A really authentic band, nothing phony. It was a night of worship, not a concert. They did all of their well-known songs, except for “Voice of Truth.” The encore was my favoritist of all, “God with Us.” We did that song at Anchor last Sunday. I absolutely love playing it on the grand, as opposed to my Roland. It’s a song I can really sink my teeth into.

Eight of us from the worship team went–me and Pam, Terry and Lisa Sutton, Tim Bauman, Terry Leatherman, and Aaron and Jenny Vergon. I really enjoy these people. We had a good time. Plus, it was Pam’s birthday.

Huntington University co-sponsored the event, and they got a lot of upfront time, especially from Nate Perry and John Paff. Lots of T-shirts were cannoned into the crowd (though nowhere near me). HU is partnering with one of the major Christian radio stations in Fort Wayne, and this was part of that. I think it was a good investment for them. Now that Taylor has exited Fort Wayne by closing its Fort Wayne campus, maybe HU can fill the void.

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Thoughts about Sotomayor and Judicial Balance

sotomayor.jpgI’m lukewarm regarding Sonia Sotomayor. Even though her judicial experience is vast, dwarfing that of most other justices, I have difficulty getting excited about her. I’m not sure why I feel that way. I’m sure she’ll be a good Supreme Court justice, maybe above average. But not a home run.

In my time, I’ve viewed four appointees as home runs. These are persons who, when nominated, totally impressed me with their resumes.

  • Antonin Scalia.
  • Anthony Kennedy.
  • John Roberts.

The fourth was actually the first–Robert Bork. He, of course, got “borked.” He didn’t become a justice, but has been forever immortalized with his own namesake word.

While I can’t get excited about Sotomayor, I think the Republican opposition has been pathetically shallow. Sure, her comments in that speech are valid fodder for criticism and require explanation (which she gave, satisfyingly). But Republicans have made a mountain out of that molehill, over and over. Their focus on those few words appears terribly petty, particularly when they jump to the ludicrous Newtish conclusion that she’s racist. That’s just desperation.

Sotomayor has issued hundreds of opinions, and Republicans are apparently okay with them. They’ve made a fuss about the New Haven firefighters case, but there she was standing on precedent, and alongside many other judges, both Republican and Democrat. Not much to grab onto there.

After sorting through Sotomayor’s huge backlog of rulings, Republicans have found nothing compellingly disturbing, nothing worth throwing at her. And so they focus on some stupid words in a speech. Come on, Republican senators–you need to give me a lot more than that. If the “wise Latina woman” remark is the only reason to denounce her, I’d say she’s a pretty good nominee.

I don’t favor packing the court with conservatives (or liberals). I think that’s unhealthy for the country. I like the court the way it is now–half skewed conservative, half skewed liberal, and a swing vote. That represents our diverse country well. If the Supreme Court was stacked one way or the other, it would lack credibility to at least half of the country. 

Interestingly, while Obama may have the chance to replace three justices, they will likely all be liberals–Souter, Ginzburg, and Stevens. He won’t change the complexion of the court, unless he accidentally appoints someone who ends up being conservative (as George H. W. Bush was surprised when Souter turned out to be liberal). Under Obama, the make-up of the Supreme Court will remain basically the same, and there’s nothing he can do about that.

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The New Jay Leno Show

Jay Leno says Brian Williams, the NBC news anchor, will contribute comedy in a recurring segment about stories not good enough for the Nightly News. That should be good. Williams has a dry sense of humor, and is always a hit when he appears on Jon Stewart’s show.

I continue to find Conan O’Brian decidedly unfunny. Watched a little of his monologue last nite. Never cracked a smile.

It may be that I’m just not hip anymore. Imagine that. Whatever the case, I’m looking forward to Leno’s new show.

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Improv at Saddleback

I’m a big fan of Joel Stine, who writes for Time magazine. He’s a journalist, but he’s also very very funny. Think of him as Dave Barry doing actual reporting. Dave Barry is hysterical, but he’s primarily a humor writer. Stine is a reporter.

Stine usually writes the back-page column in Time, but also does other stories. A couple weeks ago, he did a column called “Christian Improv: What’s Funny at Warren’s Church.” He actually called up and got a spot as a member of the improv group at Saddleback Church one week. It’s not a story which sheds much useful light on anything, but it made me laugh. Stine, I should point out, is Jewish.

Here’s how the article began:

There are many things Evangelical Christians are good at, such as bake
sales and talking to me on planes. They’re less adept at other things,
such as comedy and fighting lions. Christians aren’t funny because they
tend to be literal-minded. Also because they’re sad about having had
sex with only one person.

Time is a superb magazine, and I’ve subscribed since the 1980s. But when Joel Stine arrived some years back, it became a must-keep subscription for me.

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Should We Have Left Those Women in N. Korea?

Fox News is really upset. Two innocent American women were freed from a potential 12 years of hard labor in a North Korean prison–and Fox doesn’t like it. They are very distressed about it, in fact. According to the various Fox News shows, only bad things can come of this. They’re sure we gave up something, like a future first round NFL pick, or agreed to let Kim Jung Il be Grand Marshall of the next Parade of Roses.

Does anyone else find this utterly amusing?

Sometimes, Fox persons, Democrats actually do commendable things, and it’s okay to applaud and feel good about it. I realize it doesn’t happen much, and that the very concept that it happens at all totally shreds your world view. But in this case, do something novel: chill. Something good happened. Be happy.

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A Different View of the Early Church

One of the blogs I follow is Larry Osborne Live. Osborne is a pastor in Florida who wrote “A Contrarian’s Guide to Spiritual Growth.” That book takes a new look at some of the assumptions we Christians have about God and the Christian life. It stretched me.

He recently wrote a post called, “Why I’m Pumped about the Future of the American Church.” He begins, “It’s fashionable to decry the current state of Christianity in America. But frankly, I don’t buy it. Some of the most popular conference speakers on the circuit today excel at drive-by guiltings. They paint a picture of a church that lacks guts, cowers from dying to self, and lives out a self-satisfied, what’s-in-it-for-me Christianity….But I just don’t agree on this issue.”

Yes, it’s easy to be negative, to lambaste Christians and the contemporary church for being weak, ineffective, blah blah blah. Why do we so enjoy self-flagellation? Does it really serve a purpose? Does it rally the troops in some way? Not that we need to always feel good about ourselves and reinforce our fragile self-esteem. But come on, we’re not always a bunch of losers.

Anyway, Osborne then talks about the early church of Acts, which we tend to idolize and treat as a model for today. But his observations are not so Utopian. Some excellent observations.

I’ve felt the same way, basically. I don’t view what happened in Acts as a model for all of us to follow, but mostly as a record of what happened. Just because the early Christians did things a certain, that doesn’t mean we’re supposed to. They were making it up as they went, trying to figure out this whole New Covenant thing and what it meant in terms of church life and behavior. In Acts, Luke tells what they did. It’s not supposed to be a blueprint for everyone to follow until Christ returns.

That’s my view, anyway. I in no way want to lessen the authority of God’s Word. But sometimes we give authority where it doesn’t belong, where the purpose was more history than teaching. Call me a heretic.

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Attorney General Eric Holder

The July 20 edition of Newsweek ran a cover story, “Independent’s Day,” on Eric Holder, the new Attorney General. It was a fascinating portrait of this easy-going, plain-spoken guy. You have to like the guy. 

The article included the following, which describes the precarious role of the Attorney General:

Alone among cabinet officers, attorneys general are partisan appointees expected to rise above partisanship. All struggle to find a happy medium between loyalty and independence. Few succeed. At one extreme looms Alberto Gonzales, who allowed the Justice Department to be run like Tammany Hall. At the other is Janet Reno, whose righteousness and folksy eccentricities marginalized her within the Clinton administration. Lean too far one way and you corrupt the office, too far the other way and you render yourself impotent. 

Mindful of history, Holder is trying to get the balance right. “You have the responsibility of enforcing the nation’s laws, and you have to be seen as neutral, detached, and nonpartisan in that effort,” Holder says. “But the reality of being A.G. is that I’m also part of the president’s team. I want the president to succeed; I campaigned for him. I share his world view and values.”

Holder appears to be a man of conscience who is trying hard to walk that fine line–but more importantly, to do the right thing. He served in the Justice Department during the Clinton Administration, and was involved in authorizing the independent prosecutor to investigate Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. As the article notes, he kicks himself every day for permitting the Marc Rich pardon.

Now, Holder is considering authorizing an independent prosecutor to look into the torture abuses of the Bush administration. The Obama administration opposes this–they have nothing to gain, it’ll galvanize the Republican base, and it’ll distract from Obama’s domestic agenda. But after reading–twice–the CIA inspector general’s classified report, he didn’t see how he could not take action, as the nation’s top law enforcement officer. 

So we’ll see–probably soon-what he decided to do, or not do.

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A Good One from LOL Celebs: Albert Einstein

albert einstein
see more Lol Celebs

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Books by Patterson: Double Cross, Sail



I took both of these books on vacation last week. Patterson books read quickly, with all those short chapters free of descriptive fluff. They just move right along. Good vacation reading.

“Double Cross” is another winner in the Alex Cross series, which Patterson writes himself. He creates very dasturdly villains. In this book we’ve got two–the Audience Killer, and Kyle Craig, a villain from a previous book who’s been in a Supermax prison for years. This book comes to a conclusion which, for me, was unexpected but satisfying.

Patterson, like Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy, has branded himself. A stable of other writers do books under the Patterson label, and they closely follow the Patterson style. “Sail” is better than good, but it’s not great. It’s very good. Or pretty good. I enjoyed it. I “sailed” right along. Started it the last day of vacation (last Sunday), but didn’t finish it until Tuesday. I thought it was headed toward a predictable ending, but it took a sudden detour, and I appreciated that.

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