The Making of a Folk Hero

A mix of the disturbing and of the encouraging. George Zimmerman was to appear at the New Orlando Gun Show, but it was cancelled because of community backlash. (Cheer.) Instead, he appeared at what’s described as a “scaled down” version of the gun show at a local store. There, he signed autographs.

Seriously? People came to get George Zimmerman’s autograph? Some kind of folk hero?

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What We Did




The deadliest air raid of World War 2 occurred on March 10, 1945, when 300 American B-29s fire-bombed Tokyo–three streams of bombers over a three-hour period, dropping bombs packed with phosphorous and napalm. Bomber crews toward the end said they could smell burnt flesh as they flew over Tokyo. The conflagration killed over 100,000 people, and destroyed nearly 270,000 buildings (most Japanese buildings were made of wood).

By the end of the war, over 60 Japanese cities received similar treatment.

The goal was to break the enemy’s morale, but as in Germany with the firebombing of such cities as Hamburg and Dresden, that didn’t happen. All it did was kill hundreds of thousands of non-combatants–men, women, and children.

A Japanese photographer named Ishikawa Koyo captured the carnage in some stunning photographs which are just now coming to light. Three of them are above. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

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The Lent Exemption


Anchor Community Church hosted an ecumenical event on Sunday night. A United Methodist pastor, before getting dessert, said he had given up chocolate for Lent but, because Sundays are exempt, he was getting a chocolate dessert.

Huh? Sundays are exempt? This was new to the three United Brethren at the table.

He explained that Sundays are a biblical day of celebration. He said you don’t fast on Sunday, either. He was surprised that I hadn’t heard about this exemption.

Do we United Brethren just have a hole in our theology?

When Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness, I’m wondering: did each Sabbath find him in Jerusalem at the Golden Corral? I’m thinking not.

My brother Rick pointed out that it reverses things. “Instead of being bad the rest of the week and being good on Sunday, you are good the rest of the week and bad on Sunday.”

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If You’re Poor, Stop Being Poor

Aasif Mandvi has become my favorite correspondent on the Daily Show. On Thursday night, he did a segment on American healthcare. Throughout the report, he interviewed Fox Business commentator Todd Wilemon. Toward the end, Mandvi mentioned that a lot of Americans don’t have healthcare because they can’t afford it. Wilemon’s solution was brilliant: “If you’re poor, stop being poor.”

It’s really that simple. If you’re cold, put on a jacket. If you’re thirsty, get a drink. And if you’re poor, stop being poor. Anybody who is poor can, if they would just stop being utterly lazy, just flip a switch and become not-poor. If you want to become a millionaire, then become one.

What’s so hard about that? This is America, after all. Just ask the business experts at Fox.

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Batkid Scrubbed from Oscars


The Make-a-Wish Batkid from San Francisco got cut from the Oscars. They flew him and his family to LA for the Oscars, and he was to appear at the end of a segment about superheroes. But they cut him. I guess they were too busy serving pizza to the crowd. The Academy paid to send him to Disneyland instead. Hey, he’s just a 5-year-old kid with leukemia. He’ll get over it.

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A Day (or Week) for Everything Under the Sun

There seems to be a national day or week for everything. In March we have Horse Protection Day (1st), Doodle Day (7th), No Smoking Day (12th), World Kidney Day (13th), Puppy Day (23rd), Purple Day (26th), Skipping Day (28th).

And then we have awareness weeks. In the upcoming months, we have National Stationery Week, Orphan Week, Sleep Awareness Week, Gardening Week, Homeopathy Awareness Week, and much more.

The religious community is missing out on some public relations opportunities. I propose:

  • Wesleyan-Arminian Awareness Week.
  • Substitutionary Atonement Day.
  • Worship Team Appreciation Day.
  • Save the Organ Week.
  • Potluck Appreciation Month.
  • Progressive Sanctification Day.
  • Hermeneutics Sunday.
  • Egalitarian vs. Complementarian Understanding Day.
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Lent Without Latte

I’ve known Doris MacDonald since junior high, when we competed against each other in Bible quizzing out in California. Doris Au and her sister Margo (their formidable captain) attended the Glendale United Brethren Church in the LA area. I attended the UB church in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. I think Doris will acknowledge that we usually won.

Doris (left) and Sharon.

Doris (left) and Sharon.

Doris, and her husband, Alan, went on to spend several decades with Wycliffe Bible Translators. For many years now, Doris has been half of The Braeded Cord, a superb musical twosome in the DC area. Doris plays keyboard and violin, and sings.

Her compatriot, Sharon Dennis, once gave up lattes for lent, and she wrote a song about it, “Latte Blues.” It’s very good. You can watch it on Youtube. Then go to to order their albums.

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A Book You MUST Have

A study identifies Lee Child has having the strongest reader loyalty of any bestselling author. For instance, 41% of John Grisham fans say they plan to buy his next novel, but 70% of Child fans want the next Jack Reacher novel.

I’m one of those Lee Child fans. However, were Robert Parker still alive, I’m guessing he would top the list, at least with the Spenser books. A Jack Reacher book is a Must Have. A Spenser book was a Must Have NOW.

There are two important elements: the author, and the subject. You need to like the author’s writing style. But also, you need to like the subject. For that reason, a continuing series helps. If you like the character, you want to keep reading about him/her. Lee Child writes ONLY about Jack Reacher. A Cross novel from James Patterson may be a Must Have (it is with me), but not necessarily the novels from his many other series.

Who are your Must Have Next Book authors? Or is there a particular character you follow (like Spenser, but not Jesse Stone or Sunny Randall)?

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The World of Readers


This list shows the countries with the most avid readers. Sadly, the US ranks #22. I thought we would be higher, since books are everywhere. If you take my wife, Pam, out of it, we wouldn’t even be in the top 25.

A few of these surprised me, at least in terms of ranking higher than the US: the Philippines, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Turkey.

I had read elsewhere that the Chinese are very avid readers. US book publishers have become more aggressive in translating American book into Chinese to reach that huge audience.

It would be interesting to know the dynamics within these countries which contribute to high readership. Offhand, I don’t see any patterns, except that none of these are Third world countries (and thus have higher literacy rates).

1. India — 10 hours, 42 minutes
2. Thailand — 9:24
3. China — 8:00
4. Philippines — 7:36
5. Egypt — 7:30
6. Czech Republic — 7:24
7. Russia — 7:06
8. Sweden — 6:54
8. France — 6:54
10. Hungary — 6:48
10. Saudi Arabia — 6:48
12. Hong Kong — 6:42
13. Poland — 6:30
14. Venezuela — 6:24
15. South Africa — 6:18
15. Australia — 6:18
17. Indonesia — 6:00
18. Argentina — 5:54
18. Turkey — 5:54
20. Spain — 5:48
20. Canada — 5:48
22. Germany — 5:42
22. USA — 5:42
24. Italy — 5:36
25. Mexico — 5:30
26. U.K. — 5:18
27. Brazil — 5:12
28. Taiwan — 5:00
29. Japan — 4:06
30. Korea — 3:06

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Ann Kiemel Anderson Wins Her Race


Ann Kiemel Anderson succumbed to cancer on Saturday, March 1, 2014.

In the early 1980s, just after college, I devoured a number of Ann Kiemel’s books. They were basically just free-verse tales of interactions with people. Ann greatly inspired me. She didn’t give readers admonitions to go change our world, but glimpses of a person actually doing it.

I’m an ordinary girl in a big world,
but I’m going to change it–
God and I
and love.

Back in 2006, I wrote a blog post titled “Ann Kiemel, Wherefore Hast Thou Been?” It became by far the most-commented blog post I’ve ever written–85 comments. Turns out many lives, like mine, were impacted by her simple stories. People shared their testimonies of Ann’s influence on their lives.

Ann found the post through a niece, and she twice added her own comments. She mentioned her desire to return to writing, and she soon started a blog in which she continued sharing her free verse stories. A couple years later, two of Ann’s early books that meant so much to me were republished: “I Love the Word Impossible” and “I’m Out to Change My World.” They now inhabit my Nook. Both are timeless.

Ann experienced some real difficulties later in life, with lots of discouragement. I hope that my blog post, and the overwhelming outpouring of support in the comments, perhaps spurred her on.

In one of her comments on my blog, Ann wrote, “today, i still believe utterly in sharing Jesus with my neighborhood. i speak the name of Jesus every day to someone.”

Another of Ann’s early books was titled, “I’m Running to Win.” You did, Ann, you did.

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