Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Miracle Between Good Friday and the Resurrection

who-is-this-manI just finished the marvelous book “Who is This Man?”, by John Ortberg. I highly, highly recommend it. Wonderful new (to me) insights into Jesus and his influence throughout history. (And an introduction by Condoleeza Rice!)

Ortberg concludes with chapters titled “Friday,” “Saturday,” and “Sunday.” “Friday” is about the crucifixion, and “Sunday” is about the resurrection. Countless books have been written about Friday and Sunday. But what is there to say about Saturday? Not even the Bible says anything about Saturday.

Well, Ortberg delivered a number of great thoughts, including this one.

“Saturday,” he writes, “is the day your dream died. You wake up and you’re still alive. You have to go on, but you don’t know how.”

And then this musing, which really intrigues me. Ortberg writes that we think of Sunday as being the miraculous day, when Jesus rises from the dead. But he wonders if, from heaven’s viewpoint, the greater miracle, or reason for wonder, occurred on Saturday.

“The miracle of Sunday is that a dead man lives. The miracle of Saturday is that the eternal Son of God lies dead.”

A fascinating thought.

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Waiting for Nothing to Happen

automatic-towelsI believe federal law should dictate that a sledgehammer be kept beside every automatic hand dryer and towel dispenser in public restrooms. Then, when you wave your hands in front of the thing and nothing happens, you should have every right to grab the sledgehammer and take a swing.

While we’re at it: ditto for automatic faucets.

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Thirsty for the Trivial


CNN is getting lazy in covering the Royal Baby. After an initial flurry of CNN alerts, we’ve heard nothing of late. CNN should put some of its crack reporters on the case, and send out CNN Alerts as soon as the following bits of information are determined.

  • how often the baby burps.
  • who changes diapers the most.
  • the preferred brand of diaper.
  • the decibel level at which the baby cries.
  • whether the baby has vomited on the Queen Mother and, if so, did her bodyguards immediately tackle and subdue the baby.

Don’t worry about verifying the information (as if that’s important to you anyway). “Unnamed sources” will suffice.

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Review: Branson’s “Dancing Queen”


One of the new shows Pam and I saw in Branson last week was “Dancing Queen.” It was a high energy song-and-dance show featuring music from the 1970s. We liked it a lot. It was good from beginning to end.

The show was located at the King’s Castle Theater, which was previously the Branson Variety Theater, and before that the Bobby Vinton theater. In March 2012, the theater was heavily damaged when a tornado swept through Branson.

Probably a third, maybe up to a half, of the songs were from Abba. The four singers were modeled after Abba–two guys and two girls. The two girls (a blond and a brunette, of course) were the best female singers we heard all week in Branson. Very strong voices, and they blended pretty well to produce the Abba sound. But not nearly as well as Agnetha and Frida from the real Abba. (The photo above, by the way, shows an entirely different foursome, but it’s the only photo I could find).

The two guys, both of them Brits, were also members of the Twelve Irish Tenors show (from the same theater). They had a lot of personality, and interacted well with the audience. One guy, a blonde, was really fun to watch, because he could really dance–probably better than any of the guys in the dance troupe.

Speaking of which: accompanying the singers throughout was a troupe of dancers (either 10 or 12, I can’t remember). They added a lot. There were numerous costume changes.

Pam and I really liked “Dancing Queen.” We recognized all of the songs, and were pleased with the high calibre of singing. Too many times with some of the Abba songs, only one of the gals sang as a solo, and the song lost the unique Abba sound of two women’s voices blending (this was particularly noticeable on “SOS”). But the girls were individually such strong vocalists that I still greatly enjoyed the songs.

“Dancing Queen” is what I call a “manufactured” act. That is, someone came up with the concept, and then they auditioned people for the various parts. More and more shows in Branson are manufactured acts. As opposed to the family-centered shows–Presleys, Haygoods, Duttons, Brett Family, Hughes Brothers, Six. In 2011, we saw “Hooray for Hollywood,” another manufactured show held at the same theater as “Dancing Queen” (and also quite a good show). All of the shows at King’s Castle Theater are manufactured.

But we find that the manufactured shows lack soul. There is not the authentic God-country-family emphasis common in the family shows. Plus, the members change from year to year, whereas at the family shows, you’ll see the same people. We prefer the family shows, but I suspect the manufactured shows are the future in Branson.

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Review: Return to Pierce Arrow


Last week, Pam and I made a return visit to the Pierce Arrow theater in Branson. We saw the Pierce Arrow show in 2006, and found it slightly above average. Seven years down the road, we decided to give them another shot. They are a well-established show, and I expected improvement.

“Pierce Arrow” is actually the name of a men’s quartet. While the show revolves around the quartet, the show also includes a woman who does several songs, a lot of comedy, and a superb band. They had the best veterans tribute we saw in Branson (this time, at least).

The quartet itself is quite good, though not great. The high tenor, Luke Menard, was on American Idol in 2008; he joined Pierce Arrow in 2011. They did a nice mix of songs, including some good Gospel stuff (most of the members have strong roots in Christian music). The bass singer, Tim Storms, holds the Guinness record for having sung the lowest note on record (seven octaves below the piano). Storms joined Pierce Arrow in 2006, which is when we saw them (I remember him). The other three guys are all new since 2010. Sometimes Storms’ voice seemed SO low that it didn’t really fit with the quartet. But that’s quibbling.

The woman singer, Michelle Wait, was good, but in a very average sense. She never wowed.

My main gripe is with the comedian, Jarrett Dougherty, who consumed a good deal of the show. Sometimes he really had me laughing. But too often, I found him either annoying or offensive. He did a lot of wife jokes, which rarely set well with me, plus some anti-Democrat jokes which appealed to the FoxNews-watching crowd (which most definitely doesn’t include me). In one sketch his character was red-faced yelling at another character, and it ended in a face slap. I found both the yelling and face-slap very unsettling. And then there were a bunch of fart and butt-related jokes–I mean, a BUNCH. Cheap, cheap humor. I expected such fare from the Three Redneck Tenors, but it turns out the Tenors were too classy for that.

Purely on the basis of the comedian, I don’t recommend the Pierce Arrow show. He grated on both Pam and me. And the other stuff wasn’t good enough to offset it.

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My Pretty Woman and “The Cat’s Pajamas”

Pam and Liam

Pam and Liam

The Cat's Pajamas

The Cat’s Pajamas

So we’re in Branson on our 24th anniversary, watching an evening show called “The Cat’s Pajamas,” which is an acapella group of five guys. They are very good. It’s a high-energy act. This was at the Andy Williams Moon River theater.

What often happens at these shows, to the horror of audience members, is that they come into the audience and draft someone to go up on stage with them. Liam, one of the guys who happens to come from Wales, settled on my wife. Pam initially refused to go with him. She denies that she resisted, but I know what I saw, or at least that’s what I want to believe. With minor cajoling from Liam, however, Pam–much to my astonishment–got out of her seat and went with him onto the stage. Maybe it was the irresistible British accent.

Pam had no idea what they had in store.

There, these five guys serenaded her with “Pretty Woman,” getting very up close and personal, in my opinion. Liam sat on a chair in the middle of the stage and invited Pam to sit on his lap. Which she did. A bit too eagerly, perhaps? She was getting a lot of attention from these five young, attractive, virile young men.

After the song, Pam took Liam’s arm as he escorted her off the stage. But then one of the guys came up and grabbed her hand and dragged her back to the center of the stage. They sat Pam down in that chair and then swirled (closely!) around her, while singing Franky Valli’s “Stay” (“Won’t you stay just a little bit longer”). There was much touching, and much mussing of my wife’s hair.

When one guy sang, “Won’t you place your sweet lips on mine?” and offered a cheek, Pam shook her head “no.” When another guy sang, “Won’t you say you love me all of the time?”, she again shook her head no. So that was reassuring to me.

Mind you, 24 years ago, this was our wedding night. Now, a year short of the 25-year-itch, I find my bride on stage cavorting with five young (I keep emphasizing “young”) men, all of them wearing leather, all with full heads of hair. All sweating profusely, thanks to their very energetic act. Pam attested to the sweat, since they were freely touching her.

Did I mention that they were TOUCHING MY WIFE!

Meanwhile, as my bride was being vocally and physically ravished in front of a live audience, I was…well, I was laughing my fool head off.

This time, Liam DID escort Pam off the stage and back to her seat. On the way, he asked her where she was from. She told him, “Fort Wayne, Indiana.” Oh, he said, northeast Indiana, and said some other things indicating he was familiar with Fort Wayne.

After the show, as we neared the theater exit, Liam chased us down. Actually, chased Pam down, probably, since she was the one who willingly sat on his lap. He told us he had lived in Huntington. Huh? Yeah, he said, his girlfriend lived there. On Charles street, near a credit union. She worked for the Huntington Herald-Press, I believe he said.

Well, small world.

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Looking for Truth Wherever it May be Found

Randy Fennig, a former United Brethren pastor and missionary, sent me a link to an interview with a nephew, Andrew Fennig, who is developing a product for online discussion. The interview includes some great theological insights. And there was also this excellent paragraph in answer to the question “What makes a good/healthy online debate?”

“Any healthy debate requires humility and respect. These are different, but are connected. HUMILITY to acknowledge that, even though I may have strongly held opinions, my thinking is fallible and another perspective may be closer to the truth than is mine. Or, even a less-true perspective may challenge mine sufficiently to lead me closer to the truth. And RESPECT to believe that despite our differences, that perspective may be held by anyone with whom I interact.”

I can’t imagine that that pertains in any way to Facebook discussions.


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Harvesting What?


Here’s one I wasn’t aware of: using a dead man’s sperm to father a child. Apparently, a growing number of wives and parents request this, and it’s been possible for several decades. Some ethical/practical questions are being asked:

  • Did the deceased ever consent to have his sperm used for reproduction?
  • Is it in the best interests of the child?
  • Who can make the request for the sperm–a wife? child? parent? sibling? gay partner? estate executor?
  • What if someone tried to sell it? People might line up for the chance to “have a baby with” a dead celebrity or athlete.
  • Should there be a waiting time (a year after the person’s death, for instance) to avoid emotion-laden decisions?
  • Would this child share in the deceased’s estate? Would estate distributions be postponed until all harvested sperm has been used, and there are definitely not going to be more children?

In previous years, society would have said, “By no means will we allow this!!!” The fact that discussion is occurring about HOW to do it tells me something very warped has occurred.

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The Zimmerman Case: Not About Racism

zimmerman300Let me offer a different take on the George Zimmerman case. I don’t think it was about racism or racial profiling.

Sure, the media quickly spun the shooting as racism, and President Obama firmly implanted racist themes when he (unwisely) weighed in. But I don’t think Zimmerman was motivated by racism. I think it was far more primal–a guy thing.

I think George Zimmerman was a no-account fellow going through life powerless, unrecognized, invisible. But having a gun made him feel like a Big Man. And with gun in hand, he could pursue his fantasies of being Someone to be Reckoned With. For his little neighborhood, he wanted to be perceived as Jack Nicholson’s Man on the Wall. Protector of Society. A man to be appreciated and respected. And having a gun put all of that within reach.

So when Zimmerman saw someone traipsing through the neighborhood who didn’t seem to belong–well, it didn’t matter if the guy was white or black or in between. And it didn’t matter that the police told him to stay in his car, to not approach. Zimmerman was overpowered with a macho fantasy to fulfill. This was a situation he had dreamed about. He needed to ride to the rescue, gun in hand, and save the day…and win the applause of his protectees.

And so, Zimmerman blundered in, and things went badly.

Was it self-defense? Maybe. Did Martin attack him first? Maybe. But it wasn’t racism that started the thing rolling. It was a guy who carried a gun without understanding the responsibilities that go with it.

(I could be totally wrong. It’s happened before.)

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Nouns Deserve the Right to be Capitlized

The Principle, clearly established by our Founding Fathers in the Declaration and Constitution, is that absolutely any Noun is a legitimate Candidate for capitalization. Who among Us wants to argue with Thomas Jefferson?

I hereby declare Kate Turabian to be a loathsome communist. Had Joseph McCarthy not been victimized by the CBS/Murrow witchhunt, I’m sure He would have eventually gotten around to calling Kate for her unAmerican over-regulation of our God-given Language.

Why, today, don’t we randomly capitalize Nouns in the midst of Sentences? Who decided that Thomas Jefferson was Wrong? I do think this merits Congressional hearings. This historical Wrong must be Righted.

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