Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Almost September

I can't believe it's almost September. I mean, wasn't I just in Montreat yesterday? A month in Brentwood. The time has flown.

What does September bring?
...Labor Day-what the heck is Labor day anyway? I mean, what are we commemorating? Or, does it just mark a day after which you aren't supposed to wear white? Just wondering.
...Football seasons begin. I still think my favorite is high school football. So raw, so chaotic, so fun. I'll be attending a game on Friday night. As per always, I'll probably be more intrigued by the band than anything else.
...Marching band performances. I had a moment earlier today when I was transported to the front of Baldwin Hall at good old Truman State University...I was preparing to make the walk/march down to the stadium for a Saturday of Dawgs Football.
...A funk. It seems like September is always a funky month for me. With all the new beginnings you'd think I'd be pumped, but somehow I can sense the turning of the earth toward winter, and my soul lurches a bit. There's probably some deep seeded reason for the September blues, but for now, I'll blame it on shorter days and dreary weather.

What does September bring for you?

David's preaching on the Passover on Sunday. In a lectionary group discussion he mentioned a Midrash story in which the lamb is identified with an Egyptian god. It puts the keeping and slaughter of the lamp in a totally different context. With that understanding, the Israelites are holding a god captive and then slaughtering it...and all this with their traveling clothes on. Pretty bold stuff. Shows a big trust in God to deliver them. Part of me wondered if flag burning is similar in that it is destroying what some hold to be almost as precious as God. Do flag burners do so out of the same trust of a greater God who will deliver them? The analogy probably breaks down there, but somehow I see them as similar. I hope that David will pose the question of "What gods of culture do we need to capture and slaughter?" or something like that. Are there people in the world who make us Egyptians nervous because they slaughter our gods of capitalism, materialism, english as the only "true" language, security? Anyway, I've enjoyed thinking of the lamp as representation of a makes the Israelites even more gutsy and bold and faithful.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

All you need is love

Hello there Renderings fans. Over the past few days, the words, "All you need is love," keep popping up around me in some form or another:

This past Wednesday, I was lent a copy of Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince (I finished Friday night before I went to bed). At various times in the book, Harry questions Dumbledore's belief that, in the end, love always wins. Dumbledore explains that it was Harry's Mom's love for him that changed the course of wizarding history. As far as Dumbledore is concerned, love is more powerful than any evil, and he lives his life according to that. As I was reading this, I thought it was an interesting place to find something so closely tied to theology, especially with so many people proclaiming Harry Potter to be of the devil. I wonder if those who lambast it so have ever actually read a lick of it. Probably not.

At the same time I was reading Harry Potter (well, not the exact same time)I was preparing for worship. I sat down to go over the New Testament text, and it was Romans 12:9-21, which, in a nutshell, calls upon Christians to show love at all times, even to our enemies...especially to our enemies. We are called to overcome evil with good. As David so aptly pointed out in his sermon today, it's really a ridiculous never avenge ourselves, to feed our enemies, to give them water when they are thirsty. Do not pay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. Ridiculous stuff according to the standards of the world. Ridiculous stuff for people like you and me and Harry Potter.

But, God does indeed transform the world with love. It is God's love in Christ on the cross that transforms the world. I know it makes God seem like a trickster and comes out of a pre-modern worldview, or whatever, but I like the idea of the devil dancing around after Christ dies, thinking he's conquered everything, but then on Sunday, when Christ is raised, the devil sees that even death can't overcome God's love. In the end, Love wins...we have to keep saying it...Love wins...Love wins...LOVE WINS...LOVE WINS!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Bears Drum Corps

OK, so I know I've been posting like crazy the last couple of days, but I just couldn't resist posting this picture. That's right folks...The Cavaliers and The Chicago Bears are joining forces. Former Cavaliers drummers will be performing at every home game. AWESOME!!! We're taking over the world baby!!!


Youth Group Missions

Youth Group Missions:
Where over 90% of youth report growing
closer to God!

This was part of an e-mail that I receive from Group every couple of weeks. What a funny way to advertise your "product." I mean, what are youth going to say at the end of a week? "Nope, no growing closer to God...God sucks." This just struck me as a further attempt by those of a modern mindset to quantify an experience of God. Success is measured by how many youth report growing closer to God. I'm not sure that's...oh what's the word I want...adequate? That's not the right word, but hopefully those of you reading can help me out. I mean, what does "growing closer to God" really mean? OH well, I'm obviously not very eloquent right now. I just thought it was a funny ad.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A different view

So, tonight, as I was brushing my teeth, I realized that when I lean over the sink to spit, I always lead to the right of the faucet, you know, so I won't spit on the faucet and have toothpaste stuff all over the place. Anyway, I decided that tonight I would lean to the left side. In all honesty, it was a bit discombobulating. It was like I was looking at a different sink. I know it sounds silly, but that's how it felt. It's funny how a light difference in perspective can make something look so different. I should e-mail this experience to the emergent folks...I think they're trying to say something like, but in much more sophisticated ways.

The moral of the story: Lean the other way to spit every once in awhile.

The Orange Vibe

Here it is folks...the new Bancroft-mobile. I haven't come up with a name yet, but I'll let you know when I do. Officially, the color is Fusion. Pretty cool huh? Thanks to Mom and Dad for all the help in deciding on the car and all the mumbo jumbo that goes with buying a car.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

There are giants in the sky

The title of this post has nothing to do with its contents, but I just listened to a great song from the musical Into the Woods that starts with those words. It's a song sung by Jack after he returns from his trip up the beanstalk. It's about gaining perspective after being in a different world. If you ever get a chance to see Into the Woods, see it. It's great.

The big news around here is that I bought a new car. Pictures of my new ride will appear shortly. I need to go outside and take some first. I bought a Pontiac Vibe. Pontiac calls it a Compact Utility Vehicle. It's kind of a souped up wagon of sorts. It's also orange (well, "fusion" according to Pontiac). It's pretty sweet having new wheels. I was pretty tired to having to worry about whether I'd return from my errands in my car or on foot.

Mom and Dad were here for the purchase. I had been looking, but having them here to explain things motivated me to get going. It's funny, but here I am, a 28 year old "adult," and yet, there were times in the cubicle with the dealer and then with the financing lady, that my gut reaction was to turn my head and look to Mom and Dad for help/answers. I wonder if that ever goes away. Many thanks to my loving parents for being supportive as I bought my first car. Also, many thanks to God for giving me parents who love me and always make me feel loved.

On a totally unrelated note, I ate lunch at Taco Bell yesterday as I was in the midst of other errands. As I sat there, reading my book and eating my double decker taco, I couldn't help but chuckle as the girl who worked there drug metal chair after metal chair away from the tables so she could sweep. Everyone sitting there would cringe as the chair would scrape across the floor. There she was, just doing her job with no apparent recognition of the fact that dragging the chairs was utterly obnoxious. I couldn't help but chuckle. I mean, why not wait until more people leave, or simply pick the chair up instead of dragging it. I don't know why it struck me as so funny, but it did.

This Sunday is Rally Day at Harpeth. We'll be presenting Bibles and explaining the basic flow of Sunday mornings now that "the late service" is at 10:00. I'm eager to see how I feel after my first Sunday in the regular routine.

I hope everyone out there is doing well.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Riding my bike

So, today, as I was out riding my bike for exercise, some jerks in a gas guzzling SUV drove by and threw a plastic bottle at me and proceeded to give me the finger. I took a bit of satisfaction in the fact that they almost had a wreck as they went around a bend in the road ahead. I wish I'd had a Nalgene bottle full of water to chuck at their car. That would have been awesome! Anyway, I'm just posting to express my rage at such inane behavior. It's like I'm insulting them somehow by riding my bike, or maybe the fact that they have to slow down a bit on a residential street annoys them. I don't really understand it, but apparently riding your bike on the street is worthy of acts of aggression. I seriously wonder, sometimes, if there's some sort of collective internal aggression that's brewing under the surface of people living in the United State of America in 2005. I think Michael Moore probably gets close to the heart of the matter in his film, Bowling for Columbine, when he points out that the United States and Canada have similar numbers of firearms available to the public, yet violent crimes involving guns is way higher in the United States. There's something about our culture that begets violence. I do think that some of it is that there are a lot of lonely people out there searching for something meaningful and coming up empty handed time after time. I also think it's hard to instill values of peace, compassion, and turning the other cheek, when our government provides the examples of invading countries with whom we disagree and continuing to implement the death penalty. "Hey, I think it's stupid that that guy's riding his bike on a residential street, so I have the right, and probably the obligation to throw something at him and demean him by flipping him off." Yeah, that sounds about right.

On a not completely unrelated note. I caught a bit of the Sean Hannity show last night at the gym. Nothing like walking into the locker room and hearing his voice, but anyway. He was talking to James Dobson. Dobson was, apparently, providing an example of what it's like to be stuck in modernity. He made some broad sweeping absolute claims about the use of science throughout history. First, in the context of a discussion about abortion, he said that human life should never be ended for utilitarian reasons. Now, I don't know where he falls down on the issue of the death penalty, but regardless, he's thrown a lot of support behind a political party that is more than supportive of the death penalty. Then, he was trying to defend something he apparently said recently. In clarifying, he said that science and technology have always (did you hear that? always) been used with ethics and morality in mind, except in Nazi Germany. OH MY GOSH!!! I couldn't believe he said that. He went on to talk about how Nazi Germany was the only instance of history of people using science in irresponsible ways with no regard for morality or ethics. OK, now I know that Harry Truman and his trusted advisors took morality and ethics into consideration as they debated the use of the atomic bomb, but in the end, they...we chose to use technology to destroy thousands of lives. They...we chose to end the lives of civilian Japanese in order to spare the lives of American soldiers. I'm not in the mood to get into a debate as to whether we should or should not have used the bomb, but that decision was a utilitarian most likely based on morality, but utilitarian nonetheless. Now, don't hear my saying that Nazi Germany was all. It was atrocious and it was depressing that the rest of the world took so long to intervene, but let's not act like technology is always used in ways that reflect a black and white world of right and wrong. It's amazing to me how uncritical people can be of comments like Dr. Dobson's. Not that I expected Sean Hannity to point any of that out, but still. Hopefully some people watching were struck by the absurdity of such an absolute claim. NO MORE ABSOLUTE CLAIMS!!! "Only Sith speak in absolutes."

OK, now that I'm all fired up at bedtimes, I think I'd better read something soothing to calm down. Peace to you all.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Lame bumper stickers

On my way to and home from work today, I got behind people with bumper stickers that said something like, "Don't be a girly-man...Vote Republican!" What a bunch of malarkey (sp?). There are so many things wrong with that bumper sticker. First of all, for a party that's trying to reinvent itself as being in favor of womens issues, it's pretty demeaning to women. "You don't want to be like a girl, do you? They're really weak and stupid and do dumb things, like voting for democrats." Second, an underlying implication is that if you don't support the war in Iraq (which apparently 54% of Americans now say was a bad idea...welcome to the party folks), you're just a big sissy who could care less about all of the people who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks. Finally, a bumper sticker like that simply caters to the lowest common denominator. It doesn't say anything. It sounds like a jackass bully who steals money on the playground and calls people names. I know I shouldn't let stuff like that get to me, but today it did.
On a note of my own, I'm including a picture of my favorite bumper sticker that I've seen lately

Simply stated...requires a certain level of refinement to understand...right on the mark.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

My driver...Carl Edwards.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Litterbugs SUCK!

I went running yesterday, and besides the fact that I didn't even make it two miles without having to walk, I was pretty disgusted by the amount of litter I saw on the side of the road. I mean, I couldn't go three paces without seeing a beer bottle or a sonic cup or some other pile of trash. There is just no reason for that. If you have trash in your car, take it home with you. If you happen to be walking, hike out what you hike in. I don't understand how people can be so abusive of creation and nature. Maybe violators should be tossed out of a moving car like the trash they decided to cast away. It was just sad to see the way that humankind mistreats the gift of creation. Responsible Stewards? I wonder...I really wonder.

New Tags

Yes, it's true...the Buick, the Maroon Marauder, the Biggity hooptee is now officially registered and titled in the state of Tennessee. I still give the old double take when I come up on it in parking lots. I think to myself, "Alan, there's a car that looks just like yours...and it has the same stickers...and, oh wait, it is yours silly," only I don't call myself silly, because that would be, well, silly I suppose. :) So, if you see my car driving around, don't worry, it hasn't been sold and/or stolen and taken to TN. It's still in my possession.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Lord of the Rings

Over the past few days, I've been watching the extended DVD of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. It is truly an amazing movie. This evening I watched the final scenes that come after the ring has been destroyed and the hobbits have returned to the Shire. I was particularly moved by the scene when Frodo boards the boat to sail away with the elves. Watching the tearful goodbyes of Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin reminded me that I've heard the song "Walk on the Ocean" a number of times over the past few days. Between that final scene, and the lyrics of that great Toad the Wet Sprocket song, I began to feel nostalgic. In that scene from LOTR, we see four friends who have been through an amazing adventure together, and while they may have told other Shirelings about it, there's no way that any of them can understand. There's something special about sharing the experience of that adventure. I'd say that some of their tears come as a result of knowing that one less person will understand them and the adventure that shaped their lives. There have been a number of times in my life when I've felt that way to one degree or another: the final day of Montreat (especially after serving on a planning team), walking through the age out line with The Cavaliers, watching best friends leave for college, seminary graduation.
now we're back at the homestead
where the air makes you choke
and people don't know you
and trust is a joke
we don't even have pictures
just memories to hold
that grow sweeter each season
as we slowly grow old