Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas cards revisited

First of all, thanks to everyone who has been offering thoughts on my previous post about Christmas cards. As I would expect from such quality people, the comments have been insightful and have caused me to think quite a bit. While I'm still not sure that Christmas cards en masse are my favorite thing, I received a Christmas card today that actually brought me to tears, so I stand convicted by those of you who are making the claim that Christmas cards are a way to reach out and touch someone in a special way. Here's the inside of the card:
In case it's hard to read, the note on the left hand side says, "Alan, I opened this card and knew that it was made for you. Keep working and praying for it. Peace, Mr. Peeler."

James Peeler is one of my go-to guys in the youth advisor team at Harpeth. The guy is always willing to lend a helping hand. He went on both of our summer mission trips last summer and was always a voice of support and comfort at times when I most needed that voice. During my time at Harpeth, I've walked alongside James in the death of his Mother and his Father. As some of you know, I sign my e-mails with Peace. I often challenge the youth (and adults for that matter) to think about the peace/shalom that God offers and how we might live as peaceful people. Anyway, James has noticed that during our time together and thought of that as he was signing Christmas cards, and for that, I am extremely grateful.

So, Christmas cards aren't all bad. :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas cards

OK, I'd like to know how much folks spend on Christmas cards every year. Beginning about two weeks before Christmas, I receive three or four cards a day in the mail. I should keep track of the postage folks have collectively spent sending me Christmas cards and pictures of the family at the beach. Now, I'm not one to get into the whole, "Jesus wouldn't do that" stuff, but I'm beginning to wonder about the stewardship of Christmas cards. Here are some reasons I think folks might want to re-consider the whole Christmas card thing:
  • The trees we kill with all those envelopes.
  • The envelopes and cards that people don't recycle.
  • The extra work for postal workers who are already over burdened during Christmas was extra packages and whatnot.
  • Does everybody in your address book really want to see you and the family at the beach?
  • The chemicals that go into developing the pictures that go with the card.
  • The time you spend addressing cards.
  • The money you could go for something else like food banks, heifer project, or Salvation Army
In line with that last thought, I wonder what would happen if everybody in a given congregation would take the money they usually spend on sending Christmas cards, pool it together, choose a charity or worthy organization, and send them the money. What if everybody donated the x number of hours they usually spend addressing Christmas cards and helped to feed the homeless, or read to children, or a variety of other service projects?

On a lighter note, I hope my Mom doesn't read this, because she works for Hallmark. :)

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

irony...or something

irony=being given a multi-tool pocket knife for Christmas and then realizing you could really use a multi-tool pocket knife to open the ridiculous package the multi-tool pocket knife is in. Seriously.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's a silly thing

Weather really is a silly thing. Here I sit on the porch of Bongo Java next to the campus of Belmont at 8:30 pm on December 11th and I'm wearing short sleeves because it's something like 65 degrees outside. Meanwhile, folks back in Joplin, MO are still without power because of snow and ice storms over the weekend and continuing sub-freezing temperatures. Wild stuff.

So, yesterday I was driving to work and I was eating an apple and I had a thought (yes, only one). I wonder if talking on my cell phone while driving is really any more dangerous than eating an apple while driving. I mean, while I'm on the phone, the phone stays stationary, and I'm able to watch the road. But, when I'm eating an apple, I'm always looking down to figure out where to bite next. I just kind of wonder.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Does faith matter in politics?

As I was eating breakfast this morning, I read the half page "Controversy of the Week" section in The Week (seriously, everybody should subscribe to this rocks) that asked the question "Mitt Romney: Does it matter that he's Mormon?" It raised the question of whether Mormonism is a cult and mentioned some of their more outlandish beliefs, such as the ability of human beings to evolve into gods. Now, I'm pretty skeptical of the Mormon faith and do not grant the Book of Mormon the same authority as the Bible, but let's not act like Mormons have the market cornered on wild stories and strange customs. The Bible is full of "ridiculous" stories and claims. I mean, we Christians go to church every Sunday and worship a guy we claim rose from the dead. We put water on people and say that it represents something powerful. We break bread and drink juice or wine and call it the body and blood of Christ...but not really (but really if you're Catholic). The claims of any faith are not logical. Our religion doesn't make "more sense" than that of the Mormons. Faith isn't often about what "makes sense."

Finally, has the gospel been tamed so completely that we really think that devotion to our country is more important than devotion to the gospel and the kingdom of God? I say it often, and I'll say it again: Our ultimate allegiance is to God's kingdom, not the kingdom of the United States of whatever. Don't hear me say that I think religious law should be the law of our land. I don't think that. I do think, though, that when people of faith are faced with discrepancies between God's law and the law of the land, serious consideration should be taken as to what law one is going to follow. What if all the Jews and Christians in the U.S. observed jubilee? That would be amazing!

Simply put, I really don't give a lick what faith someone claims to have as they run for public office. I want to know how he or she is going to live out that faith in the way he/she governs. I want to knowhow someone plans to provide liberty and justice for all people (whether it's "under God" or not). I want to know how someone plans to care for the least of these.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Somebody has to be on the take

Seriously? The Cotton Bowl? Kansas goes to the Orange Bowl? Tell me how Kansas gets a better bowl game than Missouri when MISSOURI KICKED THEIR JAYHAWK TAILFEATHERS ALL OVER THE PLACE!!! I seriously don't understand. We got hosed. Somebody must be on the take. Seriously.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

My day yesterday

Yesterday started off a decent day. Sure, I had to get up before the sun to be at the airport for a 7:00 am flight, but I had a delightful ride with my girlfriend and had time to grab a mocha and a muffin from the coffee beanery. I greeted a fellow Mizzou fan as we boarded the flight and I settled in with my ipod, Scene newspaper, and novel for the two hour flight to Houston on my way to Tulsa and eventually on to Joplin, MO where I'm officiating a wedding this evening. Oh, but not so fast, Renderings fans. After taxiing onto the tarmac, our pilot received word that there was low visibility in Houston, so we would be delayed by 30 minutes. Well, 30 minutes turned into an hour, and then, Mr. Pilot came back on to say that we would be returning to the gate, because it would be another hour before we could take off, again, because of bad weather in Houston. I'm realizing at this point that my connecting flight is scheduled to depart approximately 20 minutes before we're not schedule to leave Nashville. I stand in line with all the other "my connecting flight will be long gone when we get to Houston" folks. I'm assured that I will be on the next connecting flight.

Fast forward to 10:30, when our flight finally departs Nashville. I'm doing the math again and realizing that my new connection is supposed to be at 12:40 and this is a two hour flight. Yes, you guessed it, by the time we landed and I waited for my updated boarding pass, and made my way to Gate B84, the 12:40 flight was already boarded and taxiing away. Ah, but there's a 1:00 you can catch. It's in an adjacent terminal, but if you hurry, you should make it. I flash my half marathon running skills and approach the gate by 12:50 only to see on agent and a very dead looking gate area. "Oh," Ms. Escobar tells me, "that flight was moved to gate B84." "I was just there," I say. "They sent me here. The screen here says there's a flight at 1:00 at this gate." "The screen in wrong," Ms. Escobar says, "and that flight is now closed. We'll put you on the 2:30 to Tulsa." "Great" I say.

So, now I'm definitely going to miss the wedding rehearsal of the wedding I'm officiating. Great. I resign myself to the fact that I'm simply a victim of all this airline travel hullabaloo I've been hearing about. Frustrating, but what can you do.

Baggage issus: I arrive safely in Tulsa and make my way to the baggage claim and wait eagerly for my grey/blue suitcase to come sliding up the conveyer belt. Alas, the big metal beast stops, the screen reads "Last bag placed on belt" and my bag is nowhere to be seen. Perfect. I go stand in line at the Continental service desk (Continental is now on my "no fly" list by the way...more on that later). There's a guy in front of me who's in the same position I am. We've been standing in lines together all day, beginning in Nashville. "Well," the Continental agent says, "it looks like your bags came in on the 1:00 flight. They ended up being delayed and didn't leave Houston until 3:30, but it just arrived, so your bags should be upstairs now." Sure enough, there they were. Now, this turn of events makes me wonder how it is that I was turned away from the 1:00 flight at 12:50 if it didn't leave until 3:30, but I like to take some pleasure in thinking that I may have avoided another hour and a half on a tarmac by taking the 2:30.

Finally, I picked up my rental car, made the two hour drive to Joplin and arrived in time for a lovely rehearsal dinner. Yes 13 hours after I left my house yesterday, I finally arrived at a destination to which I could have driven in approximately 9 hours.

OK, so here's my Continental is on my no fly list. I get that there are delays and that you can't fly into someplace with zero visibility. Totally get that. But, I approached the counter to ask about my connecting flight, the agent didn't give me the new flight number or gate number. She simply said I'd be on the next flight out. Then, when we all got off our plane, you know, three hours late, there were absolutely no agents standing by to help us find our way. Then, when I finally wait in an eternal line and get to the front and hand my three hour expired boarding pass to the agent, do not condescendingly tell me that I missed the flight. Yeah! No shit I missed the flight. Your airline got me here three hours late! Fix it! Call down to the gate and ask them to hold the flight. And then, don't send me to three different places for a flight that was in the original place I looked. Communication people! I know you have stuff on your computer. Anyway, the delays can't be avoided. I get that. But when you have planes full of people in tough spots, don't treat us like the bad guys. Call in extra help. The only person who gets any props is Ms. Escobar and her supervisor who was standing there. They actually said, "We're really sorry for the inconvenience." A simply apology goes a long way in my book.

OK, enough ranting an raving. All is well here in Joplin. Looking forward to the wedding.

Happy Advent!